T H E  P O E M S  O F

W I L F R E D
C A M P B E L L



 


Elemental and Human Verse
 

 



Poetry


EARTH’S dream of poetry will never die.
It lingers while we linger, base or true—
A part of all this being.  Life may change,
Old customs wither, creeds become as nought,
Like autumn husks in rainwinds; men may kill

5

All memory of the greatness of the past,
Kingdoms may melt, republics wane and die,
New dreams arise and shake this jaded world;
But that rare spirit of song will breathe and live
While beauty, sorrow, greatness hold for men

10

A kinship with the eternal; until all
That earth holds noble wastes and fades away.
Wrong cannot kill it.  Man’s material dream
May scorn its uses, worship baser hope
Of life’s high purpose, build about the world

15

A brazen rampart: through it all will come
The iron moan of life’s unresting sea;
And through its floors, as filtered blooms of dawn,
Those flowers of dream will spring, eternal, sweet,
Speaking for God and man; the infinite mystery

20

Will ever fold life round; the mighty heart
Of earth’s humanity ceaseless throb and beat
As round this globe the vasty deeps of sky,
And round earth’s shores the wide, encompassing sea.
Outside this rind of hardened human strife

25

There lies this mantle of mighty majesty,
Thought’s cunning cannot probe, its science plumb.
Earth’s schools of wisdom, in their darkness, spell
The common runes of knowledge; but there lies [Page 19]
A greatness, vast, behind this taper gleam,

30

That stands for somewhat lore hath never weighed
In all its ponderings of thought-pulsing brain.
Shakespeare, the Mighty, touched it as he passed.
The Man in Uz did feel it, shook the folds
Of some great garment’s hem of One who passed

35

The vasty gates of Orion at one stride.
All earth’s high souls have felt it in their time,
Have risen to this mighty deep in thought,
Or worshipped in the blackness and the gleam.

Dream not because life’s taper flame grows dim,
40

Man’s soul grows wasted gazing on dull gold,
His spirit shrunk with canker of life’s ill,
That earth’s great nights will darken their splendours down,
Her dawns will fail to rise, this mighty world
Will cease to roll its vast appointed way;

45

And beauty and love, and all that man holds sweet
For youth and age, the effort glad, the joy,
The memory of old greatness gone before,
Not hold their magic ’neath the Almighty Will.

Yea, ’tis eternal as the wave, the sky,

50

Changing forever, never wholly passing,
A part of all this dream that will not die,
It lives forever.  Years may fade and pass,
Youth’s dream decline to age and death’s decay,
Ills and sharp griefs, despairs and agonies come:

55

While earth remains her spirit will not fail.
That greatness back of all will still console,
Man’s life will still be sweet, its purpose glad,
The morn will still be morning, and the night
Star splendors arched above the eternal peace,

60
The eternal yearning and the eternal dream. [Page 20]

 



My Library


YOU ask me where I get these thoughts,
     These dreams melodious, mystical,
I read them in God’s book of lore,
     Wide open, splendid, by my door.

Its pages are the magic sky,

5

     The wonder of the iron earth,
And all those dreams that time let fly
     Since being’s earliest birth.

I read them in those curious runes,
     Those tragedies of love and strife,

10

That chart of memory-haunted dunes,
     That demon angel-book that man calls life.

 



Lines on a Skeleton


THIS was the mightiest house that God e’er made,
This roofless mansion of the incorruptible.
These joists and bastions once bore walls as fair
As Solomon’s palace of white ivory.
Here majesty and love and beauty dwelt,

5

Shakespeare’s wit from these lorn walls looked down.
Sadness like the autumn made it bare,
Passion like a tempest shook its base,
And joy filled all its halls with ecstasy.

This was the home wherein all dreams of earth

10

And air and ocean, all supreme delights,
Made mirth and madness: wisdom pored alone;
And power dominion held: and splendid hope:
And fancy like the delicate sunrise woke
To burgeoning thought and form and melody. [Page 21]

15


Beneath its dome the agony of the Jew,
The pride of Caesar or the hate of Cain,
The thought of Plato or the heart of Burns
Once dwelt in some dim form of being’s light.

Within these walls of wondrous structure, dread,

20

A magic lute of elfin melody
Made music immortal, such as never came
From out those ancient halls of Orphean song.

Love dreamed of it, and like a joy it rose.
Power shaped its firm foundations like the base

25

Of mountain majesty: and o’er its towers
Truth from fair windows made his light look down.

But came a weird and evil demon host,
Besieged its walls, destroyed its marvellous front;
Shuttered its casements, dismantled all its dream,

30

And hurled it down from out its sunward height;
And now it lies bereft of all its joy
And pride and power and godlike majesty;
The sport of elements and hideous mimes,
That blench its corridors, desecrate its rooms,

35

Where once dwelt love and beauty, joy and hope,
Now tenantless: save for the incurious wind,
And ghostlike rains that beat its bastions bare,
And evil things that creep its chambers through.

But whither thence is fled that tenant rare,

40

That weird indweller of this wasted house?
Back from the petalled bloom withdraws the dew,
The melody from the shell, the day from heaven,
To build afar earth’s resurrection morn. [Page 22]

And so, Love trusts, in some diviner air

45

The lord of this lorn mansion dwells in light
Of vaster beauty, vaster scope and dream;
Where weariness and gladness satiate not,
Where power and splendid being know no ruin,
And evil greeds and envyings work no wrong.

50

 



The Soul’s Bath


AT even when the roseate deeps
     Of daylight dim from heaven’s bars,
The soul her earth-worn garment slips,
     And naked stands beneath the stars;

And there unto that river vast,

5

     That mighty tide of night, whose girth
With splendid planets, brimming past,
     Doth wash the ancient rim of earth,

She comes and plunges in; and laves
     Her weariness in that vast tide,

10

That life-renewing deep, whose waves
     Are wide as night is wide.

Then from the pure translucent flow
     Of that unplumbed, invigorate sea,
Godlike in truth’s white spirit-glow

15

     She stands unshamed and free. [Page 23]

 



The Discoverers


     This poem is dedicated to the memory of all those great souls who, in days gone by, in the bold spirit of discovery ventured out on the then trackless seas of the unknown west, in quest of this New World which their undaunted zeal and enterprise have won for us as a boon to the race and a blessing to mankind.


THEY feared no unknown, saw no horizon dark,
Counted no danger; dreamed all seas their road
To possible futures: struck no craven sail
For sloth or indolent cowardice; steered their keels
O’er crests of heaving ocean, leagues of brine,

5

While Hope firm kept the tiller, Faith, in dreams,
Saw coasts of gleaming continents looming large
Beyond the ultimate of the sea’s far rim.
Thus was it ever.  Souls too great for sloth
And impotent ease, goaded by inward pain

10

Of some divine, great yearning restlessness;
Which would not sit at home on servile shores
And take the good their fathers wrought in days
Long-ancient time-ward,—reap what others sowed;
But, nobler, sought to win a world their own,

15

Not conquered by others, but a virgin shore,
Where men might build the future; rear new realms
Of human effort; forgetful of the past,
And all its ill and failure; raising anew
The godlike dreams of genius, knowing only

20

Immortal possibility of man
To grow to larger vastness, holier dreams,
Made certain in straight laws of human life
And national vision; lived in lofty lives
Of manhood strong and noblest womanhood.

25


So thus it was, and is, and e’er will be!
The ill we do we leave behind us as [Page 24]
The phantom cloak of yesterday’s sleep, thrown off
At newer waking to life’s splendid dawn.
So dreamed they, eager, in those olden days,

30

Saw visions in the future, round the west
Of Europe’s fading sunsets; held a hope
Of some new paradise for poor men’s cure
From despotisms of old dynasties
And cruel iron creeds of warped despairs.

35

Hungering for light and truth and righteousness,
So launched they, setting sail toward sunset verge
Of lonely, inhospitable Ocean hurling back
From his grey mane sad wrecks of their desires.

We know their story, read the truth where they

40

Knew only in man’s hope and loftier soul
Which strove and dared and greatly overcame,
Conquering scorn of man and veils of doubt,
Wresting from nature half her secret, cruel,
Wherewith she darkens down in glooms apart

45

The mystery of this planet, where we sleep
And wake and toil, redeeming high resolves,
Chaining the future to the present act.

We ponder on their daring, their vast hope,
That compassed all a planet in its dream.

50

We marvel at that stern defiance, where
A single man, in a degenerate age,
Would throw the gauntlet down against a world,
Defying narrow custom, small beliefs,
Strangled in lies; and staking all on one

55

Swift certainty of reason, based on thought,
Which read from nature, not from childish tomes
Of baseless superstitions, and dared all,
Left the kind land behind, and ventured out
On what men deemed a hideous demon waste, [Page 25]

60

An endless vortex, wherein poor souls caught
Were swept to vastness, gulfed and swallowed down.
We wonder at this greatness, yet we know
That thus forever shall human greatness be,
Man’s only truth in life to stand alone;

65

Invincible power the spirit’s solitude.

Beneath the sky, that marvel of earth’s night,
That vast reproof of all our littleness,
That shining rebuke to our unfaithfulness,
That scorner of our despairs; ’neath its dim tent

70

Of fold on fold of fleecy infinities;
That soul of man is but a puny thing,
A fork-like snake in its own petty fires,
Which doth not rise to some high eminence
Of human thought and vast forgetfulness

75

Of all this common ill and common deed,
And loom to somewhat of that stature, great,
That God did dream us!  So those mighty souls,
Watching His stars, read nightly fixed and sure,
A certainty; while every yeasty wave,

80

A monster mountain, roared to gulf them down.

We are a part of that great dream they dreamed.
We know wherein they failed, as all life fails.
We know the greatness they could never dream,
The certainty behind that sunset veil,

85

Which lured them on beyond its misty verge;
And we are witness that their hope was sure,
And true and wise and voice of God to men.
We are the witnesses that they were right,
And all the small and common minds were wrong,

90

The scorners of their faith, the laughers-down
Of their sublime enthusiasms; like as all
Dim ages of this world have heard and seen. [Page 26]

Yea, we are witnesses that they who hoped,
And greatly planned, and greatly dreamed and dared,

95

Were greater and more godlike, truer souls
And wiser in their day than those who sat
With shaking head and shallow platitude,
Made foolish vulgar prophecy of defeat;
Yea, we are witnesses that one true man

100

With faith in nature, his own heart and brain,
And daring, fearless, caring nought for aught,
Save his own trust in some high godlike vision,
Is greater far than all a world of men
Who are but shadows of a worn-out age

105

Which they have long outlived; as rotten trunks
Do mark the place where some huge oak went down.

We are the dream which they did dream; but we,
If we are great as they were, likewise know
That man is ever onward, outward bound

110

To some far port of his own soul’s desire,
Knowing the present ever incomplete,
In love’s reflection of the heart’s high goal.

And now no more this western world is deemed
A home for liberty and hope’s desire.

115

Men learn in wisdom, as the years glide on,
And life is ever the same in east or west.
And human nature, lost in its own toils
Of earthly strivings, loses that gold thread
Of life’s sincerity, repeating o’er again

120

The grim despotic tyrannies of old,
On newer shores to freedom dedicate
By loftier souls who won this world in vain.

So is it ever.  Human grief and ill
And human tyranny know no special strand. [Page 27]

125

All lands alike to tyrants are a spoil,
From ills of race no continent is immune.
Men cannot flee old evils though they cross
Whole oceans of surges beating in between.
We bear with us the despot in our blood:

130

It is the race that speaks forever in
Our strivings and our weakness: Nero flames
A newer Rome in each new tyranny
Which wakens a western world to deeds of blood.

And we, who have no continents new to find,

135

No shadowed planet darkening back our dream,
Who know the new world but the old world new:
The same old evil and the same old gleam
In other guise; but ’neath the same snakehead,
Lifting ill eyes to choke our visions down

140

In monster folds of human servitude:—
We, too, as they, are earth’s discoverers,
We likewise can be fixed in our regard,
We likewise can be brave, sincere and true,
Dreaming far peaks of greatness on ahead,

145

If we but strive and beat our weakness down;
Setting our sails, invincible, for those ports
Beyond the common, sheltered shoals of self;
Cleaving with daring keel those open seas
Of larger life, those heaving floors of hope;

150

Marking our course by those fixed stars alone,
Forever steadfast, witnesses of God,
Pointing to continents vast of holier dream. [Page 28]

 



The Hills and the Sea


GIVE me the hills and wide water,
     Give me the heights and the sea;
And take all else, ’tis living
     And heaven enough for me.
For my fathers of old they were hillsmen,

5

     My sires they were sons of the sea.

Give me the uplands of purple,
     The sweep of the vast world’s rim,
Where the sun dips down, or the dawnings
     Over the earth’s edge swim;

10

With the days that are dead, and the old earth-tales,
     Human, and haunting, and grim.

Give me where the great surfs landward
     Break on the iron-rimmed shore,
Where Winter and Spring are eternal,

15

     And the miles of sea-sand their floor;
Where Wind and Vastness, forever,
     Walk by the red dawn’s door.

Back from this grime of the present,
     This slavery worse than all death,

20

Let me stand out alone on the highlands,
     Where there’s life in the brave wind’s breath;
Where the one wise word and the strong word
     Is the word that the great hush saith. [Page 29]

 



The Vanguard

(To the Twentieth Century)


OUT of the grey light,
Into the daylight,
We are His battlemen
     Riding along;
Century-laden,

5

To some dim aidenn,
Hope in our vanguard,
     Courage, our song.
“Check up the curb, there!”
“Firm in the stirrup, there!”

10

“Steady! men, steady!”
“Riding along!”

Out of the grim light,
Into the dim light,
Under the morning airs,

15

     Where the pale stars
Fade with the dying
Murk of night flying,
Into the smoke-mists,
     Over earth’s bars—

20

Where the dim sorrows
Of long-dead to-morrows
Sink into ashes,
     Crumble to night—
Cheerfully, gravely,

25

Manfully, bravely,
Ride we, ride we,
     Into His light. [Page 30]

There was in Inn, we
Rang to begin, we

30

Thundered its rafters
     With generous song—
There a low mound, we
Left a brave comrade,
Worn of the journey,

35

     Riding along.
There was a battle fought,
Fiercely the blades rang,
Horseman and charger
     Grappled the foe—

40

Hard spent and hard hit,
Teeth clenched and foaming bit,
Out of the battle-smoke,
     Forward we go.

Bravely faced, bravely won,

45

Nobly died, nobly done,
Lifting the firm face,
     Riding along:
Always to hillward,
Truth and God-will ward,

50

Never toward darkness,
     Never toward wrong;
Not dumb cattle! men,
We are God’s battlemen,
Waging His fierce fights

55

     Under the night,
Under the smoke-mists,
Through the dim centuries,
Ride we, ride we,
     Into His light.

60


Hold up the head, there!
Quicker the tread, there! [Page 31]
Eyes on the mountain heights!
     Lift the old song!
“Bravely the right goes,

65

“Down with the dread foes,
“Evil and sorrow,
     “Hate and old wrong!
“Doubt but the battle-smoke,
“Dusk but the morning’s cloak,

70

“Care and despairing but
     “Dreams of the night;
“Roll the grey mists up!
“Drain deep the dawn-cup!
“Ride we, ride we,

75

     “Into His light!”

Old men and young men,
Cheering the faint ones,
Bearing the weak ones,
     Chiding the strong;

80

Over the dead past,
Ice-cold, furnace-blast,
     Riding along;
We are His valiant hearts,
Wending His journey dread,

85

Eyes to the hills ahead,
     Hearken our song:—
“Watch for His dawning! mark,
“Sorrow but the shrivelled bark,
“Love the white kernel sap;

90

     “Hatred and wrong,
“But the fierce, sudden hail,
“Rattling our iron mail,
     “Riding along.”

Yea, as we thunder, we

95

Know earth’s old wonder, we [Page 32]
Feel all about us
     Her splendor and tears;
Her might and her glory,
Her centuried story,

100

Her weird, blind caravan
     Down the dead years.
Her grief and her wisdom,
Her heart-breaks and yearning,
Her legends of iron-eaten,

105

     Blood-crusted wars:—
Her loves and despairings,
Wrecks of old dynasties,
Barbarous; splendid and
     Old as the stars:—

110

They who look down on us,
Cold in their far-light,
Orient, mystical,
     Under the night;
Weird in their silence,

115

Grim, fixed witnesses,
Long, of earth’s struggles,
Her great grim graveyards,
     Of passion and might.

But under we thunder,

120

Charge, battle, and blunder,
Out of the night-mists,
     Unto the day,
Led by an impulse,
A fierce joy and heart-hope,

125

Older and stronger
And greater than they.
Sound the clear bugle, there!
Wide, let the summons blare!
Challenge the centuries,

130

     Fearless of wrong! [Page 33]
Bury that dead face!
Strong heart, fill his place!
Tenderly, manfully,
     Riding along!

135

Eyes to the right, ahead!
Grim be the way we tread,
Sound down the silence, murk,
     Hope’s golden horn!
Sweet, sweet! silver clear!

140

Challenging despair and fear;
Though life be at its neap,
Death is but the morning sleep,
     Ere day be born.

Close up amain, there!

145

Curb on that rein, there!
Eyes hillward and Godward,
     Forging ahead!
Down the dread journey,
Flashing the stern eye,

150

Out on dim iron-peaks
     Lifetimes ahead!
Searching the night-line,
Murk’s fading white line,
For the dawn’s message,

155

     For the day’s red;
Sinking old sorrows
In nobler to-morrows,
Ringing the Levin
     With earth’s battle-song;

160

Hugging the after
Tears of old laughter,
Hopeward and Godward,
     Riding along. [Page 34]

Eyes to the front, there!

165

Iron ’gainst the brunt, there!
Jarring the battle-shock,
     Under the night;
From earth’s weird wonder,
We thunder, we thunder,

170

Out from the centuries’
     Battle and blight;
Clear, clear, our bugles, clear,
Challenging despair and fear,
Ride we, ride we,

175

     Into His light.

 



Commemoration Ode

(Cambridge, June, 1905)


BROTHERS in action, aspiration, aim,
Co-heritors of that old breed, old blood,
That ancient speech, that ancient faith and song;—
Once more we stand in these memorial halls,
And meet in kind communion, as of yore

5

Those sun-filled hours of youth’s Hyperion morn,
When life’s great future blinded eager eyes,
And ways of vague achievement lay before,
With golden roadways leading on to fame
Or other portals of Hope’s azure vision

10

Beyond the mists of aspiration’s dream.

Once more we meet here with our tithe of lore,
Or dearly earned experience of this world,
And all its mystery of blinded ways;—

And here we face the future; nearer now [Page 35]
15

That last dread culmination of our days,
That solemn gate of earth’s departing scene,
Where love and patience lay their burdens down,
Here at life’s mid-day mile-stone do we stand,
Knowing our vision greater than our act,

20

Our possibility vaster than our dream.

Greater than all earth’s woven creeds is that
Eternal possibility of man
To rise to nobler futures, loftier peaks
Of golden sunrise visions, climbing on

35

To those vast vistas of the ideal man.

Learning is nature’s kindred spirit. She
Holds up the torch to reason, seeking ever
That holy, immortal, changeless face of Truth.
Language may falter, palter, lose her old

40

Plain utterance, simple, pure and undefiled;—
But upward still is upward, straight is straight,
And narrow the way and hard the paths to God.

Not all the weight of vast material power,
The brazen frown, the iron hand of wealth,

45

Can make the ill less evil; or the good
A part of evil. Still midway will stand
That sword of Eden flaming in between,
Whence man came naked, naked will return,
Clothed only in the truth of heart and brain.

50


There is no complex where the spirit rules.
The truth is simple as the perfect curve
Of elemental beauty. Life no lie,
Till man did build a fence to shut out God,
And hide with hideous tapestries the stars. [Page 36]

55


Those endless, gobelin questionings shut in
Man’s soul from the eternal. Out beyond,
Where night and vasts anticipate the dawn,
No muffled doubt goes groping, where those hosts,
Immortal, radiant, wheel their mystic fires,

60

Orion, and the ancient Pleiades.

Think not because we lose the road, that we
Are lost eternal. Still the road shines on,
Through murky mists of this grim modern dream,
These smokes, material, shrouding His vast plan.

65

And still a child-face teaches beauty’s truth;
A wayside blossom still remains a flower;
And love, and hate of evil rule the world.
This shining roadway holds no cul-de-sac,
Though close the gorges seem to hem us in,

70

With human finality, reason’s narrow bounds,
Within these hopeless mountains of the mind.

And often ’mid the anguish and turmoil
Of all this fevered being, I have felt
A sudden flame of some large knowledge, flashed,

75

And then withdrawn from out my spirit’s ken;
As though God opened His vast doors of light
And outward being.  Then my soul hath felt
Some mystic glimpse of far infinity,
As though there flamed a world outside our world,

80

Beyond this prison house of all our tears,
This finite cell that we inhabit here.

And in that sudden light it seemed as if
This house of sadness, these grim narrow streets,
This blinded search from shrivelled day to day,

85

And all that past which memory intervenes, [Page 37]
This hourly round of earth’s experience,
This opening up of vistas of life’s days
And months and years, had all been lived before,
And this grim present but old dreams re-dreamed.

90

So moves life’s mystery, as though fold in fold,
Of sense ’neath sense, like sleep which mantles dream,
Man’s gross heredity muffles in his soul
From somewhat larger, mightier, some far vast,
As mists material curtain out God’s stars.
95

For life is greater than its mightiest deeds,
And we, than this environment, wherein we dwell,
This mansion, vast, of failure, where the winds
Of youth’s far longings haunt these banquet halls
Of deeds unfinished, broken pillars of faith,
100

And ruined stairways leading to the stars.

This, Brothers, is my message: Let us keep
The olden faith in glad sincerity,
Remembering ever, simplicity is the truth;
Religion reverence; wisdom but to keep

105

Those dread eternal laws which guide the world.

Forgetting not our duty to the race,
From which our sires and our great-grandsires sprang;
That mighty stock, that iron heredity,
Uncompromising, stern, which planted deep

110

The holy roots of that wide tree which bore
This blossom of liberty which we pluck to-day.

Which taught us, what we all too soon forget,
No earthly generation stands alone,
But is the link in some vast mystic chain

115

Extending downward from the ancient days. [Page 38]

Remembering that allegiance which we owe
The blood we bear, the tongue our fathers forged
From out the rude and barbarous dreams of those
Who gave us primal being. This our work,

120

To build, to weld, replenish, and subdue.

Not like blind force which treads this earth like iron,
And makes the continents tremble; not by greed,
Or grim political craft; but by that power,
That sad sincerity of the Perfect Man.

125

Yea, this, my message! Life is short and stern,
And ours at best a feeble, cabined will.
Our mind is finite:—But the soul of man,
Which hopes and trembles, suffers and aspires,
Rebukes his pettier moments; its vast dreams
130
Proclaim our origin high, our destiny great,
And possibilities limitless like the sea.

 



The Dreamers

(A Parable.)


THEY lingered on the middle heights
     Betwixt the brown earth and the heaven;
They whispered, “We are not the night’s,
     But pallid children of the even.”

They muttered, “We are not the day’s,

5

     For the old struggle and endeavour,
The rugged and unquiet ways,
     Are dead and driven past forever.”

They dreamed upon the cricket’s tune,
     The winds that stirred the withered grasses: [Page 39]

10

But never saw the blood-red moon
     That lit the spectre mountain-passes.

They sat and marked the brooklet steal
     In smoke-mist o’er its silvered surges:
But marked not, with its peal on peal,

15

     The storm that swept the granite gorges.

They dreamed the shimmer and the shade,
     And sought in pools for haunted faces:
Nor heard again the cannonade
     In dreams from earth’s old battle-places.

20


They spake, “The ages all are dead,
     The strife, the struggle and the glory;
We are the silences that wed
     Betwixt the story and the story.

“We are the little winds that moan

25

     Between the woodlands and the meadows,
We are the ghosted leaves, wind-blown
     Across the gust-light and the shadows.”

Then came a soul across those lands,
     Whose face was all one glad, rapt wonder;

30

And spake: “The skies are ribbed with bands
     Of fire, and heaven all racked with thunder.

“Climb up and see the glory spread,
     High over cliff and ’scarpment yawning:
The night is past, the dark is dead,

35

     Behold the triumph of the dawning!”

Then laughed they with a wistful scorn,
     “You are a ghost, a long-dead vision;
You passed by ages ere was born
     This twilight of the days elysian. [Page 40]

40


“There hope, there is no strife,
     But only haunted hearts that hunger,
About a dead, scarce dreamed-of life,
     Old ages when the earth was younger.”

Then came by one in mad distress:

45

     “Haste, haste below, where strong arms weaken,
The fighting ones grow less and less!
     Great cities of the world are taken!

“Dread evil rolls by like a flood,
     Men’s bones beneath his surges whiten,

50

Go where the ages mark in blood
     The footsteps that their days enlighten.”

Still they but heard, discordant mirth,
     The thin winds through the dead stalks rattle;
While out from far-off haunts of earth

55

     There smote the mighty sound of battle.

Now there was heard an awful cry,
     Despair that reddened heaven asunder,
White pauses when a cause would die,
     Where love was lost and souls went under.

60


The while these feebly dreamed and talked
     Betwixt the brown earth and the heaven,
Faint ghosts of men who breathed and walked,
     But deader than the dead ones even.

And out there on the middle height

65

     They sought in pools for haunted faces,
Nor heard the cry across the night,
     That swept from earth’s dread battle-places. [Page 41]

 



The Lyre Degenerate


     The literature of the soul of nature as found in the great poets is inspiring; but the decadent worship of beast, gnat and straddle-bug in the animal story and the artificial nature-verse of to-day is degrading. It is time that men of thought and spirit regenerate the world of America from its present materialistic slough with its consequent superficial cult of neo-paganism.


VANISHED the golden Homer,
     Vanished the great god Pan,
Vanished the mighty mind of Greece,
     The ancient visions of man.

Gone are the mighty moderns,

5

     Hands that swept the keys,
That ran the splendid gamut of dream,
     Of life’s deep harmonies.

Dead are the lofty dreamers,
     The true and the wise of earth,

10

Who stirred the spirits of yearning men
     And gave new impulse birth.

No more those ladders to heaven,
     Golden rung upon rung
Of the lofty deed and the splendid dream

15

     In the song of singers is sung;—

For now in the shrunken pages
     Of helot dreamers of song
The idiot children of primal earth,
     Brute and insect, throng.

20


And this the end of beauty,
     The ultimate dreaming of man, [Page 42]
To shrink to this hideous, meaningless cult.
     Alas, for the great god Pan!

Alas, for the lore of sages!

25

     Alas, for the Parthenon!
Alas, for the yearning Israelite
     His mountains of woe upon!

After the mind of Shakespeare,
     After the soul of Christ,

30

To sink to the level of hoof and paw,
     To keep this hideous tryst;

Lost to that higher, holier thought
     Under this latter-day gleam,
Living again in the mind of the beast

35

     An earlier, dreader dream.

Sunk to the law of the jungle and fen
     From the dream of the godlike man,
To learn in the lore of reptile and brute
     The cunning of Caliban.

40


And this the end of the ages’ art
     The world’s high yearning pain,
To trace the trail of the serpent and egg
     On the monster earth again.

To know eternity howl and yelp,

45

     The primal instinct’s dream;
To bask in the sun or curl in the dusk
     Of an arctic moonlight’s gleam.

Yea, better than all this age can give,
     Rather our lowest our least;

50

Better to sin as men and women
     Than sink to the best of the beast. [Page 43]

Better than live in this hideous round
     Of claw and beak and wing,
Better the dread eternal black

55

     Of death’s eternal ring.

And Thou who art of all things Lord,
     By whom all perish or dream,
Who wakest the flower, the star, the love,
     The mighty world or the gleam;

60


Who after sad winter wakest the rose,
     After midnight the dawn,
By whose dread word the children of earth
     Up thy mountains have gone;

Teach me the lesson that Mother Earth

65

     Teacheth her children each hour,
When she keeps in her deeps the basic root,
     And wears on her breast the flower.

And as the brute to the basic root
     In the infinite cosmic plan,

70

So in the plan of the infinite mind
     The flower of the brute is man;—

Man who blossoms in beauty and love
     And wisdom’s wondrous bloom,
And climbs by spiral stairways dread

75

     To the dawn of the world’s great doom.

And when doth come that marvellous change,
     Thou Master of being and death,
O let me die as the great dead died,
     Not passing of instinct’s breath;— [Page 44]

80


Let me lie down with a loftier thought
     Than passing of beast and leaf,
That the cry of human soul for soul
     Is greater than nature’s grief;

That man is nearer the mountains of God

85

     Than in those ages when
He slept the sleep of the tiger and fox,
     And woke to the strife of the den.

And when from the winter of thy wild death
     Thine angels of sunlight call;

90

Waken me unto my highest, my best,
     Or waken me not at all.

 



Work


TO thy work, heart that aches,
     To thy soul’s best work.
Let not the bitter hour
     Stab with its grim dirk.

Unto thy toil; and if the world

5

     Want not thy voice to-day,
Grieve not, thine hour will come,
     Love is not waste alway.

Art that grows from love
     Of beauty, life’s high dream,

10

Will not utterly vanish out,
     As weed-drift on a stream.

Not one sunbeam is lost,
     Though it vanish in a cave.
And He, great Master of Mystery,

15

     Will redeem the gift He gave. [Page 45]

 



The Blind Caravan


I AM a slave, both dumb and blind,
     Upon a journey dread;
The iron hills lie far behind,
     The seas of mist ahead.

Amid a mighty caravan

5

     I toil a sombre track,
The strangest road since time began,
     Where no foot turneth back.

Here rosy youth at morning’s prime
      And weary man at noon

10

Are crooked shapes at eventime
      Beneath the haggard moon.

Faint elfin songs from out the past
     Of some lost sunset land
Haunt this grim pageant drifting, vast,

15

     Across the trackless sand.

And often for some nightward wind
     We stay a space and hark,
Then leave the sunset lands behind,
     And plunge into the dark.

20


Somewhere, somewhere, far on in front,
     There strides a lonely man
Who is all strength, who bears the brunt,
     The battle and the ban.

I know not of his face or form,

25

     His voice or battle-scars, [Page 46]
Or how he fronts the haunted storm
     Beneath the wintry stars;

I know not of his wisdom great
     That leads this sightless host

30

Beyond the barren hills of fate
     Unto some kindlier coast.

But often ’mid the eerie black
     Through this sad caravan
A strange, sweet thrill is whispered back,

35

     Borne on from man to man.

A strange, glad joy that fills the night
     Like some far marriage horn,
Till every heart is filled with light
     Of some belated morn.

40


The way is long, and rough the road,
     And bitter the night, and dread,
And each poor slave is but a goad
     To lash the one ahead.

Evil the foes that lie in wait

45

     To slay us in the pass,
Bloody the slaughter at the gate,
     And bleak the wild morass;

And I am but a shriveled thing
     Beneath the midnight sky;

50

A wasted, wan remembering
     Of days long wandered by.

And yet I lift my sightless face
     Toward the eerie light,
And tread the lonely way we trace

55

     Across the haunted night. [Page 47]

 



Ode to the Laurentian Hills


BLUE hills, elusive, far and dim,
     You lift so high beyond our care;
Where earth’s horizon seems to swim,
     You dream in loftier air.

Here where our world wends day by day

5

     Its sad, material round,
We know not of that purer ray
     By which your heights are bound.

Ignoble thoughts, ignoble aims
     Shut us from that high heaven;

10

Those dawning dreams, those sunset flames,
     With which your peaks are riven.

You seem so lone and bleak, so vast
     Beneath your dome of sky,
So patient to the heat or blast

15

     That smites or hurtles by;

So vague, withdrawn in mists, remote,
     Shut out in glories wide;
The very fleecy clouds that float,
     Your dreamings seem to hide.

20


We in our plots of circumstance
     Are prisoners of a grim despair;
While your far shining shoulders glance
     From heights where all things dare.

Could we from out this cloak of glooms

25

     That prisons and oppresses,
But reach those large, sky-bounded rooms
     Of your divine recesses; [Page 48]

Then might we find that godlike calm,
     That peace that holdeth you,

30

That soars like wordless prayer or psalm
     To heaven with your blue.

Then might we know that silent power,
     That patience, that supreme
Indifference to day and hour

35

     Of your eternal dream.

Then might we lose, in fire and dew
     Of your pellucid airs,
This diffidence to dare and do,
     That grovels and despairs.

40


And dream once more that high desire,
     That greatness dead and gone,
When earth’s winged eagles eyed the fire
     Your sunrise peaks upon.

That power serene, life’s vasts to scan,

45

     Beyond earth’s futile tears;
Her hopes, her curse, the bliss, the ban
     Of all her anguished years.

 



The Art Divine


THAT Artist of the Universe
     Behind the wind and rain
Hath drawn a dream of splendid death
     Across my window pane.

And in the lonely, haunted day,

5

     My luminous maple tree
Hath now assumed the magic pomp
     Of some weird pageantry. [Page 49]

And ’mid the common day and thought,
     My casement to me brings

10

A picture rarer than all art
     Of man’s imaginings.

Not all the wondrous hues of Watts,
     Not Turner’s wizard scheme,
With all its mastery, haunts my heart

15

     Like this autumnal dream;

For o’er my sill, all life, all death,
     All moods life, death can name,
Press on me from that magic frieze
     Of earth’s funereal flame.

20

 



Day and Night


TWO dreams forever pass my door,
     One gaudy, one in sombre dress:
The Day, one weird and endless roar;
     The Night, a million silences.

To one I give, the slave I am,

5

     My curse of being, fevered breath;
The other, ’mid her godlike calm,
     Lifts me to dwell with Death.

 



My Creed


THIS is my creed in face of cynic sneer,
The cavilling doubt, the pessimistic fear;—
We come from some far greatness, and we go
Back to a greatness, spite of all our woe. [Page 50]

 



Responsibility


MAN is not evil when he stands alone,
     ’Tis in the aggregate he loses truth,
     And builds him up life’s weakness by his ruth.
No single conscience makes its brother moan,
The slaving toiler withered to the bone,

5

     The wasting age ere life hath garnered youth;—
No single soul hath done this; each and all,
We add a pebble to a mighty wall
     That shuts this world from freedom and God’s truth.

 



Sleep


SWEET, brief condition of oblivion,
Easer of care-worn mind and sorrowed soul;
Yea, next to death, God’s most compassionate gift.

Thou art that shot mortality wherein men
Give over their spirits to omnipotence,

5

That sea of faith whereon men launch their barks,
Undoubting of the hope of their return,
And float on opiate airs and favoring gales
Out to some land beyond these realms of earth,
And all its sad dominion, aching chain,

10

That gnaws men’s vitals festering day by day.

The king, the galley-slave are equal here,
The sinner and the saint alike have peace,
A short forgetting of the angered hour,
The poisoned memory, or the woe to be. [Page 51]

15


Within thy mighty halls of phantasy
Thine opiate silence hangs its curtain black,
And ever the hideous dream is but a dream.

’Tis sweet to rise to greet the kindling morn,
When all is happiness, holy, glad and well:—

20

But to the agonized spirit, life’s remorse,
Time’s prisoners of failure, earth’s defeat,
’Tis agony to wake, to meet the sun.
For these, O kind Magician, thou most true,
Give these, life’s weary, woe’s poor suffering ones,

25

Earth’s mightiest blessing, dream-compelling sleep.

 



Sleep


DIM Sleep, that keep’st the soul in awe,
By gates that lead to the unknown:—
All life sways to thy magic law,
All portals open toward thy throne;—
Thou arbiter in ebon stone,

5

A mist about thee ever thrown.

Thou peoplest the dark with visions filled,
Thou breathest with thy poppied breath,
And all the loves of life are stilled
Unto similitude of death. [Page 52]

10

 



The Question


I.


HAVE we come to the outermost wall
Of this terrible temple of time,
To find it but iron after all,
A horrible gaol of the soul,
A prison whose walls are a shard

5

Of cold, implacable fact;
Where, through the dim centuries gone,
The poor weak eons of men
Have circled in bubbles of joy,
To find but a shroud of despair,

10

Cabined and crushed at the last?

And this: Is this but the end?
Have we fathomed the secret in vain?
Was man but a last blind coil
Of the brute evolution of time,

15

Unwinding itself in the dark?
Or the full-blown rose of a race,
Whose scent and whose petals are gone?
Was the law: Aspire till ye die,
For ye die when ye cease to aspire?

20

Is it true, we have fathomed the dark,
Probed the deeps to the edge of the black,
Till the fiat goes forth, Ye are done?
Is it all?  And beyond it, what next?
Doth there glimmer the thread of a dawn? [Page 53]

25

II.


God!
We utter the sound of a word,
And power dissolves into nought,
And vanity crumbles in dust;
We, who have reached the bare wall,

30

Have fathomed this prison of dark,
Stand naked in awe of a name.
We, who have balanced the “all,”
Weighed the dreams of the past in a scale,
And found them but vanishing dust;

35

Here in the end of the days;
In this last high poise of a stair,
Built out of the quarries of thought,
Wrought slow in the workhouse of truth,
Our knowledge and wisdom all gone;

40

Like children all frighted and shamed,
Stand in awe at the sound of a name;
As hosts, that huddled at night,
From the rude cruel riot of rout,
Stay, fearful and doubting, dismayed,

45

’Mid the grim, unknowable dark,
For the glad, kind trumpet that calls
From the far, white comfort of dawn.

So we, who dreamed that we scaled
The high white mountains of thought;

50

From our ruined Babel of pride,
In the knowledge of self and of God;
Turn back from the jargon of tongues,
That scoff and clamor and cry,
To the wonder and awe of the child;

55

And plead in our weakness and doubt,
At the barriers, muffled, of dark,
That reach through the spaces of thought
To the far-off vastness of God. [Page 54]


III.


To the end?  Have we really begun?

60

Have we yet even entered that gate,
That one wicket gate of the soul,
Which leads to the city of life?
That we say, we have come to the wall;
That we grope, like the blind, in the dark,

65

For the slow closing in of the walls
Of this grim torture-prison of life,
Where casement on casement fades out,
Till the last narrow pane disappears
On the coffined despair of the soul,

70

And the narrow iron shard echoes back
The unseen executioner’s stroke?

Is this but the end and the all,
The blind, grim climax of time?
Is God but necessities’ will,

75

Where chance for an eon pursues
The rhythmic returns of a force?
Or a flame that flickers one way?
Or a huge grim hammer that beats
All out on the anvil of time;

80

All out, till the echoes repeat
Each caverned black edge of the void?

And this trembling flame of the soul,
In its hollow-built shard of the skull,
That flashes, then flickers and dies?

85


What of it?  So fickle, so dim,
A candle-dip spark in the space;
That it measures the infinite void,
That it yearns to fill all with its hope,
Its love, its desire, and its dream,

90

That would grow to the stature of God? [Page 55]

What is it?  So mystically small;
So infinite, vast in its aim;
So great in its yearning and growth;
It would leap to the light of the stars,

95

Would sound the abysses of space,
And measure the span of the worlds?

Those magical windows it throws
Open wide to the wonders of life,
That sympathy subtler than thought,

100

This subconscious dreaming that doubts
If waking be nightmare to sleep,
That leads to the real hidden world,
That world whose wonder pursues
Even here in this prison of time,

105

When the walls of this earth crumble down,
And the veils of the senses grow thin,
That shut from the realms beyond.

This hearing so delicate, fine,
This exquisite sense of the chords

110

Beaten out from the fibres of sound.

The magical world of the eye,
That catches all colors, all blends
Of mystical morning and night.

Weird memory, wove of all hints

115

Of the marvelous dreams of the past.

Strange thought, that probes ocean and land,
Man’s soul, and the infinite void,
Builds the future, illumines the past,
Measures, weighs, judges, pardons, and damns. [Page 56]

120

Governs hearing, sight, memory, all;
Lord-Seer of all gates of delight;
Standing out on the mountains of dream.

Then, greater than all, even love,
That yearns through the eons of time,

125

That throbs through the hates and despairs,
Built out of the passions of men;
Yea, this above all, leavens all,
Filters down through the roots of the world,
To the dry, hidden heart of all things,

130

Waters all deserts of drought,
Spears million meadows with green,
Up-burgeons all blossom and fruit.

 



The House of Dreams


’MID all earth’s mighty builders,
     That ancient builder, Time,
Laughs at the art that crumbles
     And the airy arts of rhyme.

But the story of godlike passion,

5

     The mighty hate or desire,
Lives, when the hand that penned it
     Is ruin with Sidon and Tyre.

Greater than all earth’s temples,
     Glories of art’s high goal,

10

Is the mystical, magical temple
     That God built for the soul. [Page 57]

Not in a day or hour,
     Not in a thousand years,
He hath fashioned, for love to dwell in,

15

     A temple of prayers and tears.

’Tis the dream and not the deed
     That doth, eternal, endure;
The spirit, and not the form,
     That makes earth’s literature.

20

 



Soul


WIND of the wide world’s mantled thought,
     About the vague vast blowing;
This truth my wayward heart hath caught,
That being hath more doors than thought,
     And life is more than knowing.

5


That creeds of darkness or of mind
     Are but the scaly bark
That slips from off the centuried rind,
While inward works the impulse blind,
     Amid the crannied dark.

10


And deeper than the builded theme
     Of priest or book or seer,
There lies that life, that subtle dream
That rules the sunny warmth and gleam
     That wakes the upward year.

15


And greater than all thoughts that fall
     From wisdom’s page or poet’s song,
That dim impulse behind it all,
Flame from the ages’ granite wall,
     That finds no written tongue.  [Page 58]

20


But speaks alike to mighty throngs
     Or alien life apart;
That lifts whole races from their wrongs,
Or gives to one poor ploughman songs
     That sing the whole world’s heart.

25


This impulse in each being rife,
     Deep hidden in each man;
This inward, mystic flame of life
Behind the passion or the strife,
     The blessing or the ban.

30


Behind that fierceness none can tame,
     Behind the ego dense,
It stands in some dim cell aflame,
Beyond all human thought or name,
     A part of the immense.

35


Though science reads the cabined mind,
     The wheeling stars and sun,
This mystic, veilèd flame behind
Its barriers dread, shows her more blind
     Than winds of night that run;

40


And search the hollow hills of sleep,
     And beat with phantom hands;
But know not of the dreams that creep,
Or of the haunting ghosts that sweep
     Athwart the haggard lands.

45


It is the master of all thought,
     All impulse and all dream,
And builds or ruins, base or not,
The fabric of the common lot,
The blackness or the gleam.  [Page 59]

50


It gives through some weird inward need
     The centuries’ impulse birth;
And weaves in subtle dream or deed,
Of those who burn or those who bleed,
     All tragedies of earth.

55


Behind the mighty mind of Greece,
     The Titan force of Rome,
It bade earth’s battles rage or cease,
And reared those splendid dreams of peace,
     In column, plinth and dome.

60


Behind the artist when he wrought
     Earth’s beauty’s rarest dream,
Or nature’s poet when he caught
The melodies of morning fraught
     With summer’s azure gleam.

65


It kindled Homer’s golden song
     Of elemental man,
And lurks behind the fateful throng,
That stairway dread, of earth’s weird wrong
     From Christ to Caliban.

70


It is that greater self behind
     All earth’s confusèd gleam,
That leads men up by stairways blind
Of blackness, where they grope to find
     The heaven of their dream.

75


At all earth’s altars it hath knelt,
     Sought God ’mid stars and dew,
Wherever life by plain or veldt
Hath down the craving ages felt
     The agony of the few.  [Page 60]

80


All sorrows, passions, all delights,
     All hopings, all despairs,
All earth’s old splendours, all her blights,
Her agony of wrongs and rights,
     Her ruined starward stairs;

85


Her songs, her battles, her grim blades
     Forged in her caves of dream,
Her woe that cowers or upbraids;
Yea, all that glories, all that fades,
     Was cradled in its gleam.

90


And every hero-heart who stood
     Alone in some dread hour
(When man faced man for ill or good,
And history wrote her page in blood)
     Was governed by its power.

95


Greater than mightiest thought of mind,
     That measures life by rule,
It soars by stars or crannies blind,
In those dread dreams of God, behind
     The Plato or the fool.

100


     •          •          •          •          •          •


Wind of the wide world’s mantled thought
     About the vague vast blowing;
Beyond our little “is” and “not,”
Beyond the curtains of our thought,
     Life’s mighty tides are flowing.

105


In every common hour of life,
     In every flame that glows,  [Page 61]
In every breath of being rife
With aspiration or of strife
     Man feels more than he knows.

110


Earth’s child of science counts the stars
     Upon God’s garment’s hem;
He plumbs the seas, the heavens’ bars,
Chains Jove’s fierce thunders to her cars,
     Rebuilds her rarest gem.

115


But blind as night to that within,
     That demon, god, or elf,
That weird impulse to soar or sin,
That universe of dreams that spin,
     That heaven or hell in “self.”

120


That something subtle that outweighs
     The mightiest lore of man;
That master of his dreams and days,
Invisible in some weird haze
     Behind his bliss or ban.

125


Which lifted Shakespeare from the clod,
     Yet spake in Caliban;
That god in man, or man in god,
That dreamed all music from the sod
     Since melody began.

130


That outsoared Shelley’s lark in flight,
     Beyond all dreams we know;
That knew with Milton music’s might,
Or that exquisite dream delight
     Of Paganini’s bow.

135


That same dim impulse Saxon, Celt,
     Mohawk or Tartar knew;  [Page 62]
Earth’s mightiest power to move or melt,
That in old Shylock’s agony felt
     The tragedy of the Jew.

140


This demon force that moves a world,
     Hath breathed a simple flower,
With tendrils milky-white upcurled,
And with demoniac power hath hurled,
     Earth’s might in one short hour.

145


Hath burgeoned beauty from the blind,
     Deep earthy woodland’s heart;
This inward flame that wings the wind,
Great in comparison to mind
     As nature unto art.

150

     •          •          •          •          •          •


Wind of the wide world’s winnowed dream,
     About the vague vast blowing;
Beyond our futile taper-gleam
Of priestly creed and poet’s theme,
     God’s tides of might are flowing.

155


Man feels the present, feels the past,
     As one born blind may know
The sun, the earth, the rain or blast,
Or those dread phantom shadows cast,
     His brother men who go.

160


But round about the dreams we are,
     In caves of wind and fire,
Where mind is cabined; soul afar,
Doth rise eternal, star to star,
     To heights of God’s desire.  [Page 63]

165

 



Life-Spent


OUT of the strife of conflict,
     Out of the nightmare wild,
Thou bringest me, spent and broken,
     Like the life of a little child.

Like the spume of a far-spent wave,

5

     Or a wreck cast up from the sea,
Out from the pride of being,
     My soul returns to thee.

Thou, who only art master,
     Lord of the weak and the strong;

10

Who makest the kings of earth’s struggles
     As the far refrain of a song.

And thou teachest me all is as nothing
     Save to follow the fate love willed,
And dree life’s weird to the final port,

15

     Where the tumult of being is stilled:

Where the woe that wrecked me is vanished,
     And the pride that stayed me is gone:
And only the feeling of eventime,
     When the toil of the world is done:—

20


O, Master of being and slumber,
     When the pageant and pæan have passed;
Take me where thy great silence
     Is vaster than all that is vast.  [Page 64]

 



A Present-Day Creed


WHAT matters down here in the darkness?
     ’Tis only the rat that squeals,
Crushed down under the iron hoof.
     ’Tis only the fool that feels.

’Tis only the child that weeps and sorrows

5

     For the death of a love or a rose;
While grim in its grinding, soulless mask,
     Iron, the iron world goes.

God is an artist, mind is the all,
     Only the art survives.

10

Just for a curve, a tint, a fancy,
     Millions on millions of lives!

If this be your creed, O late-world poet,
     Pass, with your puerile pose;
For I am the fool, the child that suffers,

15

     That weeps and sleeps with the rose.

 



Truth


WHEN first I trod in wistful gropings lonely,
     And felt for God, in crude impassioned youth;
I longed to know Thee and Thy spirit only,
     Thou great, clear-orbèd Truth!

For Thee alone I sought ’mid earth’s confusions,

5

     By Thee, and Thee alone, I measured life,
Mighty or petty; drew its deep conclusions,
     Plumbed its abysses, felt its ebb or strife.  [Page 65]

I sorrow o’er myself, for I have wronged
     The greatness that He made me, and have turned

10

Aside in dreams, where lighter fancies longed,
     Or deeper channels where earth’s passions burned.

But Thou, still onward in Thy fixed unturning,
     Betwixt the olden ill and bitter moan,
Dost tread the true old way, Thy lamp still burning,

15

     Led by Thy light alone.

And round and round in Thy great orbit flaming,
     Like the fixed planets, Thou dost circle still,
’Mid new confusions, olden loves defaming,
     And murky mists of those who work Thee ill.

20

 



The Singer


LIFE is too bitter,
     Strife too strong;
Lackaday! lackaday!
     Dead is poor Song.

There in the mart

5

     Of the thronging, teeming;
Dead in the dust,
     His goldlocks gleaming.

Killed in the fray,
     With his glad heart broken;

10

Never a sigh for him,
     Never a token  [Page 66]

That the ill world cared;
     While with clamor and wrong,
She lifts the brute victors

15

     Of Mammon along.

Dead in the dust,
     With never a care for him;
Save some day the green wreath
     That the world’s heart will wear for him.

20


When there ’mid her hours
     That are truest and latest,
She recalls, with dumb grieving,
     The voice of her greatest.

 



The Heart of Song


TOO much of sameness dulls our sense,
Which, like a bowstring, should be tense,
To send those arrows swift and clear,
To cleave the ether of the sphere,
And strike the living heart of song,

5

And from the electric centre thrill the listening throng.

Too little of the love we feel,
     Too little of the hate we know;
Where we should pray, we only kneel,
     And all the real life forego.

10


How can our song be true and loud,
And lifted to the morning cloud,
     Across the fields of sunlit dew?  [Page 67]

How can we strike the lyre of life,
And sound the future’s battle-strife,

15

     Unless our hearts be vibrant, too?

O, would that poets’ songs might fling,
Like dews from off the rosebud’s wing,
     Odors of life’s awakening:
And never on the heart’s best harpstrings cloy

20

The splendor of the world’s great lyric joy!

 



Genius


I BUILT a house one wondrous night,
     From splendid ruins of my soul,
And filled it with the sound and light
     That girdles earth from pole to pole.

Its walls of whitest marble there,

5

     A frozen, clustered splendor grew,
And all things beauteous and rare
     Gladdened its perfect chambers through.

Strange relics of gone olden days,
     Of ancient peoples, times and kings,

10

In those rare chambers met my gaze,
     And gave me vast imaginings.

All glories of earth’s richest art,
     The painter’s thought, the sculptor’s dream,
Relic of all the wide world’s mart

15

     Blazoned beneath the moonlight’s gleam.  [Page 68]

The sweetest songs old poets sung,
     And life’s dread, grimmest tragedies
About these haunted galleries hung,
     Enriched with elfin melodies.

20


For by some magic to me known
     I stole of music’s saddest art,
From Pan’s wild note, Boetian blown,
     To Paganini’s haunted heart.

Yea, mine alone, all this was mine,

25

     To dwell with splendid dreams alone,
And own a majesty divine,
     Amid a marvelous world of stone.

When one strange night I entered in
     And found a wondrous spirit there,

30

That smote the moonlight pale and thin,
     With silvern magic sad and rare.

So radiantly beautiful,
     It filled my mansion with new light,
And bloomed a warmth across the cool,

35

     Pale, lonely hauntings of the night.

So mystical, it stayed unstirred,
     And gazed with awful eyes divine,
Across the human dreams that blurred,
     Into this trancèd soul of mine.

40


And ever since with inborn sight,
     Like opening of love’s inward rose,
Or vast uncurtaining of night,
     My heart a mighty sorrow knows:  [Page 69]

A Titan sadness, like the sea,

45

     That moans and beats for evermore
To break its manacles, and free
     Its spirit from the iron shore.

From night to night the years go on,
     The ruined seasons sink and rise;

50

And still that spirit, never flown,
     Looks at me from its wondrous eyes.

And I must drink, undying pain,
     The love, the hate, the joy, the smart;
And feel forever, like a chain,

55

     Earth’s agony in my haunted heart.

 



The Last Prayer


MASTER of life, the day is done;
     My sun of life is sinking low;
I watch the hours slip one by one
     And hark the night-wind and the snow.

And must thou shut the morning out,

5

     And dim the eye that loved to see;
Silence the melody and rout,
     And seal the joys of earth for me?

And must thou banish all the hope,
     The large horizon’s eagle-swim,

10

The splendor of the far-off slope
     That ran about the world’s great rim,

That rose with morning’s crimson rays
     And grew to noonday’s gloried dome,
Melting to even’s purple haze

15

     When all the hopes of earth went home?  [Page 70]

Yea, master of this ruined house,
     The mortgage closed, outruns the lease;
Long since is hushed the gay carouse,
     And now the windowed lights must cease.

20


The doors all barred, the shutters up,
     Dismantled, empty, wall and floor,
And now for one grim eve to sup
     With death, the bailiff, at the door.

Yea, I will take the gloomward road

25

     Where fast the arctic nights set in,
To reach the bourne of that abode
     Which thou hast kept for all my kin.

And all life’s splendid joys forego,
     Walled in with night and senseless stone,

30

If at the last my heart might know
     Through all the dark one joy alone.

Yea, thou mayst quench the latest spark
     Of life’s weird day’s expectancy,
Roll down the thunders of the dark

35

     And close the light of life for me.

Melt all the splendid blue above
     And let these magic wonders die,
If thou wilt only leave me, Love,
     And Love’s heart-brother, Memory.

40


Though all the hopes of every race
     Crumbled in one red crucible,
And melted mingled into space,
     Yet, Master, thou wert merciful.  [Page 71]

 



Unabsolved

A Dramatic Monologue


     This poem is founded on the confession of a man who went with one of the expeditions to save Sir John Franklin’s party, and who, being sent ahead, saw signs of them, but through cowardice was afraid to tell.


O FATHER, hear my tale, then pity me,
For even God His pity hath withdrawn.
O death was dread and awful in those days!
You prate of hell and punishment to come,
And endless torments made for those who sin.

5

Stern priest, put down your cross and hearken me;—
I see forever a white glinting plain,
From night to night across the twinkling dark,
A world of cold and fear and dread and death,
And poor lost ones who starve and pinch and die;—

10

I could have saved them—I—yea, even I.
You talk of hell!  Is hell to see poor frames,
Wan, leathery cheeks, and dull, despairing eyes,
From whence a low-flamed madness, ebbing out,
Goes slowly deathward through the eerie hours?

15

To hear forever pitiless, icy winds
Feel in the shivering canvas of the tent,
With idle, brute curiosity nature hath,
While out around, one universe of death,
Stretches the loveless, hearthless, arctic night?

20


This is my doom, it sitteth by my side,
And never leaves me through the desolate years.
Go, take your hell to men who never lived,
Save as the slow world wendeth, sluggish, dull.  [Page 72]
Even they must suffer also, poor bleak ones,

25

Then is your feeble comfort nothing worth.
You tell me to have hope, God will forgive.
O priest, can God forgive a sin like mine?
You say He is all-loving, did He lie
With me that night amid the eyeless dark,

30

And writhe with me, and whisper, “Save thyself,
That way to north lies cold and age and death,
And awful failure on men’s awèd tongues,
To linger years hereafter; Southward lies
Home, heat and love, and sweet, blood-pulsing life,—

35

Life, with its morns and eves and glad to-morrows,
And joy and hope for many days to be?”

Did He, I say, lie with me there that night,
And know that awful tragedy beyond,
And my poor tragedy enacted there?

40

Then must He feel Him since as I have felt,
And live that hideous misery in His heart.
And, knowing this, I say unto thee, priest,
He could not be a God and say, forgive.
You plead my soul’s salvation the one end

45

And aim of all my thought; then hearken, priest,
For this my sin hath made me more than wise:—
That seems to me the one great sin I sinned
In selling all to save mine evil self.

Stay, hearken, priest, and haunt me not with hopes

50

As futile as those icy-fingered winds
That stirred the canvas there that arctic night.
I bid thee hark and mumble not thy prayers
Like August bees heard in a summer room,
That drone afar, but keep them for the dead,

55

The dull-eared dead who sleep and heed them not.  [Page 73]
You say the Church absolves, you speak of peace;
You talk of what not even God can do,
Be He but what you make Him.  In my light,—
And mine is light of one who knows the case,

60

The facts, the reasons, and hath weighed them too,—
There is but one absolver, the absolved.

For I, since that far, fatal arctic night,
Have been alone in some dread, shadowy court,
Where I was judge and guilty prisoner too.

65

Words, words are empty; were life built on words,
How rich the poor would grow, the weak be strong,
The hateful loving, and the scornful weak!—
The king would be a peasant, and the poor
A king in his own right; the murderer, red

70

From his foul guilt, would pass to God’s own breast,
And all damned things, long damned of earth’s consent,
And some dread law much older far than we,
Would blossom righteous under heaven’s face.

Still fared we north across that frozen waste

75

Of icy horror ringed with awful night,
To seek the living in a world of death;
And as we fared a terror grew and grew
About my heart like madness, till I dreamed
A vague desire to flee by night and creep,

80

By steel-blue, windless plain and haunted wood,
And wizened shore and headland, once more south.
There, as we went, the days grew wan and shrunk,
And nights grew vast and weird and beautiful,
Walled with flame-glories of auroral light,

85

Ringing the frozen world with myriad spears
Of awful splendor there across the night.
And ever anon a shadowy, spectral pack  [Page 74]
Of gleaming eyes and panting, lurid tongues
Haunted the lone horizon toward the south.

90


Long day by day a desolation went
Where our wan faces fared, o’er all that waste;
And I was young and filled with love of life,
And fear of ugly death as some weird black,
The enemy of love and youth and joy;

95

A lonely, ruined bridge at edge of night,
Fading in blackness at the outer end.
And those were cold, stern men I went with there,
Who held their lives as men do hold a gift
Not worth the keeping; men who told dread tales,

100

That made a madness in me of that waste
And all its hellish, lonely solitude,
And set my heart abeating for the south,
Until that awful desolation ringed
My reason round, and shrunk my fearful heart.

105

Yea, Father, I had saved them but for this;—
Why did they send me on alone, ahead,
Poor me, the only weak one of that band,
Who was too much of coward to show my fear?
Why did life give me that mad fear of death,

110

To make me selfish at the very last?
Why did God give those men into my hand,
And leave them victim to a craven fear
That walked those lonely wastes in form of man?

No, Father, take your cross, mine is a pain

115

That only distant ages can out-burn.
Forgiveness!  No, you know not what you say;
You churchmen mumble words as charmers do,
And talk of God and love so glib and pat,
And think you reach men’s souls and give them light,  [Page 75]

120

When all the time my spirit is to you
A land unfound, a region far-removed,
Where walk dim ghosts of thoughts and fears and pains
You never dreamed of.  What know you of souls
Like this of mine that hath girt misery’s sum

125

And found the black with which God veils His face?

Then hearken, priest, and learn thee of my woe,
For I have lain afar on northern nights,
By star-filled wastes, and conned it o’er and o’er,
And thought on God, and life, and many things,

130

And all the baffling mystery of the dark.
And I have held that awful rendezvous
Of naked self with self alone and bare,
And knew myself as men have never known;—
Have fought the duel, flashing hilt to hilt,

135

And blade to blade, of flesh and spirit there,
Until I lay a weak and wounded thing,
Like some poor, mangled bird the sportsman leaves
Writhing and twisting there amid the dark.

You talk of ladders leading up to light,

140

Of windows bursting on the perfect day,
Of dawns grown ruddy on the blackest night.
Yea, I have groped about the muffled walls,
And beat my spirit’s prison all in vain,
Only to find them shrouded fold on fold;

145

And still the cruel, icy stars look down,
And my dread memory stayeth with me still.

It was a strange, mad quest we went upon,
To seek the living in the lifeless north.
For days, and days, and long, lone, loveless nights,

150

We set our faces toward the arctic sky,  [Page 76]
And threaded wastes of that lone wilderness,
Beyond the lands of summer and glad spring,
Beyond the regions kind of flower and bird,
Past glint horizons of auroral gleams,

155

A haunted world of winter’s wizened sleep,
Where death, a giant, aged, and stark and wan,
Kept fast the entrance of those sunless caves
Where hides the day beyond the icy seas.

Then life ebbed lower in the bravest heart,

160

And spake the leader, “If in ten more days
We chance on nothing, then will we return,
And set our faces once more to the south.”
For that dread land began to close us in,
With cold and hunger, bit at our poor limbs,

165

Till life grew there a feeble, flickering flame,
Amid the snows and ice-floes of that land.
Then ten days crept out shrunk and grey and wan,
With nothing but the lonely, haunted waste.
Then spake the leader, “If in five more days!”

170

Then parcelled out those five grey, haggard days,
While life to me grew like an ebbing tide,
That surged far out from some dread death-like strand.
And horror came upon me like the night,
That seemed to gird the world in desolate walls.

175

Then spake the leader, “If in three more days!”

But when the third day waned we came, at last,
Unto the shores of some dread, lonely sea,
That gloomed to north and night, and far beyond,
Where ruined straits and headlands loomed and sank,

180

There seemed the awful endings of the world.

Then spake the leader, “Let us go not yet,
But stay a little ere we turn us south,  [Page 77]
Perchance, poor souls, they might be somewhere here.”
And then to me, “You go, for you are young

185

And strong, and life throbs quickest in your veins,
And you have eyes more strong to see, for ours
Are dimmed by the dread frost-mists of this land;
And creep out there beyond yon gleaming ledge,
And bring me word of what you there may see.

190

And if you meet no sign of mast or sail,
Or hull or wreck, or mark of living soul,
Then we will turn our faces to the south;
For this great ocean’s vastness hems us in,
And death here nightly creeps from strand to strand,

195

And binds with girth of black the gleaming world.”

Then, whispering “Madness, madness,” to the dark,
I crept me fearful o’er that gleaming ledge,
And saw but night and awful gulfs of dark,
And weird ice-mountains looming desolate there,

200

And far beyond the vastness of that sea.
And then—O God, why died I not that hour?—
Amid the gleaming floes far up that shore,
So far it seemed that man’s foot scarce could go,
The certain, tapering outline of a mast,

205

And one small patch of rag; and then I felt
No man could ever live to reach that place,
And horror seized me of that haunted world,
That I should die there and be froze for aye,
Amid the ice-core of its awful heart.

210

Then crept I back, the weak ghost of a life,
A miserable, shaking, coffined fear,
And spake, “I saw but ice and winds and dark,
And the dread vastness of that desolate sea.”
Again he spake, “Creep out once more and look;

215

Perchance your sight was misled by the gleam.”
And then once more I crept out on that ledge,  [Page 78]
And saw again the night and awful dark,
And that poor beckoning mast that haunts me yet;
And as I lay those moments seemed to grow,

220

As men have felt in looking down long years,
And there I chose “’twixt evil and the good,”
And took the evil; then began my hell,
And back I crept with that black lie on lips,
And spake again, “I only saw the night,

225

And those weird mountains and the awful deep.”
At that he moaned and spake, “Poor souls! poor souls!
Then they are doomed if ever men were doomed.”
Whereat a sudden, great auroral flame
Filled all the heaven, lighting wastes and sea,

230

And came a wondrous shock across the world,
Like sounds of far-off battle where hosts die,
As if God thundered back mine awful lie,
And I fell in a heap where all was black.

When next I lived, we were full three days south,

235

And two had died upon that dreadful march;
Then memory came, and I went laughing mad,
But kept mine awful secret to this hour.

No, priest, you can do nothing; pain like mine
Must smoulder out in its own agony,

240

Till there be nought but ashes at the last.
But something ’mid the pauses of the dark
Doth teach me that I am not all alone;
For I have dreamed in my dread, maddest hour,
An awful shadow, blacker than my black,

245

Went ever with me.  Hearken to me now:
I never felt a hand or saw a face,
I never knew a comfort more than sleep,
The winters they are only barren snows,
And age is hard, and death waits at the last.  [Page 79]

250


But I have felt in some dim, shapeless way,
As memories long remembered after youth,
That back of all there is some mighty will,
Beyond the little dreams that we are here,
Beyond the misery of our days and years,

255

Beyond the outmost system’s outmost rim,
Where wrinkled suns in awful blackness swim,
A wondrous mercy that is working still.

 



Return No More!


RETURN no more, O splendid sun,
     Sweet days come back no more:
Bring back no more the budding hours,
     The springtime to my door.

The calling bird, the wakening brook

5

     Make mock upon mine ear:
For she who loved them with me then
     Went out with yesteryear.

Fold, fold the year for aye in snows,
     Howl, Winter, by my door:

10
For she, my rose, my bloom of life,
     Is snow for evermore.  [Page 80]
    

 



The Lyre of the Gods


HAUNTED, alone, withdrawn, in some dread spot,
     Remote from men and all their burdened way,
There is a lyre whereon the mad winds play
     The sad old songs of dead gone yesterday;
Those splendid dreams of olden eld forgot,

5

     ’Mid all the world’s loud fray.

It holds all chords of those forgotten tunes,
     Those great weird dreams of peoples lost and gone,
Their pride and passion, all their olden woe,
     Long past and vanished.  Now these strings upon

10

Only the winds of unremembering blow,
Where erstwhile sang the gold of Attic dawn,
     Sad tragedy, or splendid epic glow.

Ages ago great Homer sought this place,
     And thundered on its strings the world’s old woes

15

Of gods and men, and smote in golden hours
     Of mighty song those rich eternal throes
Of Helen and of fallen Ilium’s towers.
     Euripides in dreams here sought the base,
Sombre and great, of Greek dramatic song,

20

In saddest notes of ancient woe and wrong.

Mantuan Virgil, honey in his mouth,
     Sang to its chords in eclogues languorous,
Of Tityrus’ beeches, and the wet warm south;
     Or with Æneas wrecked the world again,

25

Dying anew in dart of Dido’s pain.  [Page 81]

Stern Dante came and smote its chords in woe,
     So deep and dark, high heaven and hell between,
That nature shuddered, hell from deeps below
     Leaped up in anguish of her lurid sheen.

30

Here rang his song immortal, to the air,
     Bemoaned dead Beatrice on its silvern strings,
That splendid woe beyond all woe’s compare,
     In sonorous dirge of death’s imaginings.

Shakespeare the mighty, loftiest of our days,

35

     Here ran the subtle gamut of all things,
Uttering the human heart and its weird maze
     Of love and hate and hope and dread despair,
Those woes all hearts have sighed unto the air,
     Until from out its molten notes there ran

40

     The godlike, golden melody of man,
     And Song, enfranchised, from her wintry ban,
     Rose larklike, heavenward on ethereal wings.

Milton, epic splendor of our tongue,
The dew of poesy on great heart and lips,

45

Smote here his lofty notes in Titan song
     Of mighty Lucifer in dark eclipse
     Of high ambition’s failure headlong flung.

And he of Ayr, old earth’s immortal child,
     Found its rare chords attuned to his hot heart,

50

And smote a note across the world’s bleak wild,
     Ennobling amid its frenzied smart.

Here later came in mad or holy mirth,
     A motley crew attuned to earth’s old song;
High Coleridge, subtlest spirit of his kind,

55

Shelley, child of heaven, like the wind,
     In joy or passion, kissing, spurning earth;  [Page 82]
Keats, sad Greek of fated alien birth;
     Wordsworth, gentle shepherd of the mind;
And rarest of all this rare belated throng,

60

Sad Byron, mighty child of music’s saddest wrong.

Not its great chords are silent; seldom now
     The lonely wanderer touches its dead strings,
He of the honeyed mouth and fated brow,
     Waking anew the world’s imaginings;

65

For gold and grim ambition hold men’s hearts,
     All life is sordid, and a maddened cry
Goes up like smoke from its great throngèd marts,
Where Truth lies slain of Mammon’s deadly darts,
     And Love and Beauty, clip of their rare wings.

70


Only the winds of Autumn, sonorous, sad,
     Thunder in discords strange its strings among,
Ringing the vibrant note of some old mad
     Forgotten chord or surgent battle song:
Some weird lost passion, hatred, love or woe,

75

Wherewith the dead world loved, or slew its foe,
     Or thrilled to splendor when its heart was young.

 



The Soul’s House


LIFE, one by one, you sealed to me
     Each room in this weird house of mine,
Sacred to love’s glad sanctity,
     Filled with youth’s memories divine.

First you did seal those chambers glad

5

     That opened on a garden wild,
When all the winds of heaven were mad
     About the vague mind of the child.  [Page 83]

Yea, ages now it seems ago,
     I left the magic of those rooms,

10

Turning those ponderous hinges slow,
     To deeper mysteries, stranger dooms.

Till time’s grey corridors outgrew,
     To marble sculpture, mighty glow
Of all earth’s genius fretted through,

15

     With earth’s old tragedy of woe.

Then I traversed dim, ancient halls,
     Ruins of time’s rememberings,
That rusted on their mighty walls
     The memories of a thousand kings.

20


Chaldea, Egypt, here looked down
     From hideous heads and shadowed wings,
Till all the drowsed air seemed to drown
     In sense of awful whisperings.

Athens, austere, of snowy dome

25

     And frieze of marble, seemed to wait;
And all the eagled spears of Rome
     Did clang their bronzed arms at the gate.

And then I went and left that past,
     Dread vision of heads and columns and spears,

30

And awful hush and tumult vast
     That haunt me down the haunting years.  [Page 84]

 



Orpheus


LONG ago a sweet musician,
     On a Thracian plain at noon,
In the golden drowse of summer
     Played so heavenly a tune:

That the very hills and forests

5

     To its chords their audience lent,
And the streams were hushed to listen
     To this wondrous instrument.

And stilled was all the murmur
     Of sweetest winds at noon,

10

And babbling brooks along their beds
     Hushed their melodious tune.

The gales that from the ocean came
     To kiss the summer lands,
Fell dying at the harmony

15

     That floated from his hands.

And youth forgot its passion,
     And age forgot its woe,
And life forgot that there was death
     Before such music’s flow.

20


And there was hush of laughter,
     Where sported youth and maid,
And those who wept forgot their tears
     While such sweet notes were played.  [Page 85]

Yea, life was stayed a season,

25

     Ambition, Greed and Crime,
And Hate and Lust crept shuddering, ’neath
     The curtain folds of time.

And war in its ’mid battle hushed
     Upon the ’sanguined plain,

30

The sword and spear uplifted ’mid
     The slayer and the slain.

While even the gods of heaven sank
     From their divine abode,
Drawn downward by the magic dreams

35

     That from his fingers flowed.

 



Glen Eila

(A Highland Ballad)


CRADLED in loneliness, splendor and clouds,
Where the grim mountains lift up their headlands,
Hushed in its rain-mists, walled from the world,
Dreams the glad vale of Glen Eila. 

Lone are its hills to the edge of the world,

5

With their brows flame-tipped with the heather,
Till down the hushed noonday are heard the dead feet
Of the clansmen who once trod the heather.

But it’s far, far the day, and it’s long the long weeks,
Looking back down the years with their sorrow,

10

Since love lingered here and gleamed on the cheeks
Of Mahri, the dream of Glen Eila. [Page 86]

The touch of the morning, the sound of the brook,
In her face and her voice set me dreaming;
Till it seemed the wild grandeur of glenside and peak

15

But existed to frame her eyes’ gleaming.

She comes once again when the night winds sob in
Round the sad, wintry curve of the mountains.
And I know her sweet ghost like a dream from the past,
Welling up from out the heart’s fountains.

20


Two little clasped hands, two pleading soft eyes
Looking up to me, true, in the twilight,
And the stir of a leaf, where the shy, watchful wind
Went past—God help and forgive me.

O the evil of youth and the madness of youth,

25

And the curse of this world with its dragon
Of callous grim form and its mock of a heart,
That crushed my sweet flower of Glen Eila!

I saw my proud mother, my father so grim,
With his twenty grim lord-lines behind him:—

30

And I put by her hand, and lost what this world
Hath sweetest of gift in its giving.

I could not tell all, how could I explain
To so pure and so trusting a spirit?
But I put her love by with a poor shifty lie,

35

And fled from my heart and Glen Eila.

O she dreamed on the slopes, and she gazed far to sea,
And she looked long to mountainward waiting,
Till the wistful eyes dimmed, and the trusting heart broke
In the tryst of the years in Glen Eila!  [Page 87]

40


Till a slumber more kind than the heart of a man
Took her peaceful at last to its keeping:
And the stars peep at night, and the mountains look down
On the grave where my dead love is sleeping.

My henchmen are many, my castle walls old,

45

And my station the pride of my people;—
But I put it all by, with this world and its lie,
And I long for the slopes of Glen Eila.

I long for the brachen, the blue slopes of heather.
The purpling peaks in the twilight;

50

And a far away voice, and a long vanished face,
That gleams from the slopes of Glen Eila.

And oft when I weary of statecraft and rout,
And the simper of dame and court-lady;
I wander, in dreams, to the heatherhill gleams,

55

And the glen that I trod with my Mahri.

And I see her sweet face, and I touch her soft hand,
And the years roll back with their shadow
Of dim dreary days to those God-given hours
When I wandered the slopes of Glen Eila.

60


O the grim, heavy years, O the sad, thievish years,
That steal all our youth and our gladness!
Would they but bring to me, through their dream and their dree
Nepenthe to life and its madness:—

Till I stand once again, ’mid the sun and the rain,

65

Where the mountains slope down with their heather;—
While the long years they pass, like the wind in the grass,
With Mahri and love in Glen Eila.  [Page 88]

 



The Betrayed Singer


THERE came a singer through the world,
     The world of grim to-day,
The fire of life was on his lips
     And in his heart the May.

He sang a golden song of love,

5

     Of truth and truth’s desire,
And flung a majesty of might
     From his alluring lyre.

He came to where the cliques of song,
     Life’s grim Sanhedrim dwelt;

10

They hated him because of all
     The truth he sang and felt.

They hated him and cried him down,
     Because they saw in him
The lark in heaven, sweet and clear,

15

     That made their singing dim.

They slew him with their evil tongues,
     Their artful, false disdain,
And life lost all that joy and hope
     That should have been its gain.

20


They drove him from the doors of hope,
     The gates of human fame,
Until in dusk of evil spite
     He died without a name.  [Page 89]

His melody went fading out,

25

     Till under heaven’s bars
His mighty music sobbed and sank,
     And melted to the stars.

Then in his place they set them up
     False gods of tinsel show,

30

Poor helot, soulless, mumming mock
     Of mighty long ago.

And built them temples born of art
     Upon an evil time,
When gold and power and pelf were prized,

35

     And rhyme was only rhyme.

And starved the yearning sons of God
     Of beauty, love and truth,
And gave them stones who asked for bread,
     In dread and shameless ruth.

40

How long, O Life, this mighty ill,
     This reign of hate?  How long,
Permit to dree their evil weird,
     Earth’s murderers of song?  [Page 90]

 

 

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