Emma Lazarus was an American author of poetry, prose, and translations, as well as an activist for Jewish causes. She wrote the sonnet “The New Colossus” in 1883.
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Famous Emma Lazarus Poems
Weep for the martyr! Strew his bier
With the last roses of the year;
Shadow the land with sables; knell
The harsh-tongued, melancholy bell;
Beat the dull muffled drum, and flaunt
The drooping banner; let the chant
Of the deep-throated organ sob-
One voice, one sorrow, one heart-throb,
From land to land, from sea to sea-
The huge world quires his elegy.
Tears, love, and honor he shall have,
Through ages keeping green his grave.
Too late approved, too early lost,
His story is the people’s boast.
Tough-sinewed offspring of the soil,
Of peasant lineage, reared to toil,
In Europe he had been a thing
To the glebe tethered-here a king!
Crowned not for some transcendent gift,
Genius of power that may lift
A Caesar or a Bonaparte
Up to the starred goal of his heart;
But that he was the epitome
Of all the people aim to be.
Were they his dying trust? He was
No less their model and their glass.
In him the daily traits were viewed
Of the undistinguished multitude.
Brave as the silent myriads are,
Crushed by the juggernaut world-car;
Strong with the people’s strength, yet mild,
Simple and tender as a child;
Wise with the wisdom of the heart,
Able in council, field, and mart;
Nor lacking in the lambent gleam,
The great soul’s final stamp-the beam
Of genial fun, the humor sane
Wherewith the hero sports with pain.
His virtues hold within the span
Of his obscurest fellow-man.
To live without reproach, to die
Without a fear-in these words lie
His highest aims, for none too high.
No triumph his beyond the reach
Of patient courage, kindly speech;
And yet so brave the soul outbreathed,
The great example he bequeathed,
Were all to follow, we should see
A universal chivalry.
His trust, the People! They respond
From Maine to Florida, beyond
The sea-walled continent’s broad scope,
Honor his pledge, confirm his hope.
Hark! over seas the echo hence,
The nations do him reverence.
An Empress lays her votive wreath
Where peoples weep with bated breath.
The world-clock strikes a fateful hour,
Bright with fair portents, big with power,-
The first since history’s course has run,
When kings’ and peoples’ cause is one;
Those mourn a brother-these a son!
O how he loved them! That gray morn,
When his wound-wasted form was borne
North, from the White House to the sea,
Lifting his tired lids thankfully,
‘How good,’ he murmured in his pain,
‘To see the people once again!’
Oh, how they loved him! They stood there,
Thronging the road, the street, the square,
With hushed lips locked in silent prayer,
Uncovered heads and streaming eyes,
Breathless as when a father dies.
The records of the ghostly ride,
Past town and field at morning-tide.
When life’s full stream is wont to gush
Through all its ways with boisterous rush,
-The records note that once a hound
Had barked, and once was heard the sound
Of cart-wheels rumbling on the stones-
And once, mid stifled sobs and groans,
One man dared audibly lament,
And cried, ‘God bless the president!’
Always the waiting crowds to send
A God-speed to his journey’s end-
The anxious whisper, brow of gloom,
As in a sickness-sacred room,
Till his ear drank with ecstasy
The rhythmic thunders of the sea.
Tears for the smitten fatherless,
The wife’s, the mother’s life-distress,
To whom the million-throated moan
From throne and hut, may not atone
For one hushed voice, one empty chair,
One presence missing everywhere.
But only words of joy and sheer,
The people from his grave shall hear.
Were they not worthy of his trust,
From whose seed sprang the sacred dust?
He broke the bars that separate
The humble from the high estate.
And heirs of empire round his bed
Mourn with the ‘disinherited.’
Oh, toil-worn, patient Heart that bleeds,
Whose martyrdom even his exceeds,
Wronged, cursed, despised, misunderstood-
Oh, all-enduring multitude,
Rejoice! amid you tears, rejoice!
There issues from this grave a voice,
Proclaiming your long night is o’er,
Your day-dawn breaks from shore to shore.
You have redeemed his pledge, remained
Secure, erect, and self-sustained,
Holding more dear one thing alone,
Even than the blood of dearest son,
Revering with religious awe
The inviolable might of Law.
Would I had waked this morn where Florence smiles,
A-bloom with beauty, a white rose full-blown,
Yet rich in sacred dust, in storied stone,
Precious past all the wealth of Indian isles-
From olive-hoary Fiesole to feed
On Brunelleschi’s dome my hungry eye,
And see against the lotus-colored sky,
Spring the slim belfry graceful as a reed.
To kneel upon the ground where Dante trod,
To breathe the air of immortality
From Angelo and Raphael-TO BE-
Each sense new-quickened by a demi-god.
To hear the liquid Tuscan speech at whiles,
From citizen and peasant, to behold
The heaven of Leonardo washed with gold-
Would I had waked this morn where Florence smile!
These things alone endure;
‘They are the solid facts,’ that we may grasp,
Leading us on and upward if we clasp
And hold them firm and sure.
In a wise fable old,
A hero sought a god who could at will
Assume all figures, and the hero still
Loosed not his steadfast hold,
For image foul or fair,
For soft-eyed nymph, who wept with pain and shame,
For threatening fiend or loathsome beast or flame,
For menace or for prayer.
Until the god, outbraved,
Took his own shape divine; not wrathfully,
But wondering, to the hero gave reply,
The knowledge that he craved.
We seize the god in youth;
All forms conspire to make us loose our grasp,—
Ambition, folly, gain,— till we unclasp
From the embrace of truth.
We grow more wise, we say,
And work for worldly ends and mock our dream,
Alas! while all life’s glory and its gleam,
With that have fled away.
If thereto we had clung
Through change and peril, fire and night and storm,
Till it assumed its proper, godlike form,
We might at last have wrung
An answer to our cries—
A brave response to our most valiant hope.
Unto the light of day this word might ope
A million mysteries.
O’er each man’s brow I see
The bright star of his genius shining clear;
It seeks to guide him to a nobler sphere,
Above earth’s vanity.
Up to pure height of snow,
Its beckoning ray still leads him on and on;
To those who follow, lo, itself comes down
And crowns at length their brow.
The nimbus still doth gleam
On these the heroes, sages of the earth,
The few who found, in life of any worth,
Only their loftiest dream.
Twilight is here, soft breezes bow the grass,
Day’s sounds of various toil break slowly off,
The yoke-freed oxen low, the patient ass
Dips his dry nostril in the cool, deep trough.
Up from the prairie the tanned herdsmen pass
With frothy pails, guiding with voices rough
Their udder-lightened kine. Fresh smells of earth,
The rich, black furrows of the glebe send forth.
After the Southern day of heavy toil,
How good to lie, with limbs relaxed, brows bare
To evening’s fan, and watch the smoke-wreaths coil
Up from one’s pipe-stem through the rayless air.
So deem these unused tillers of the soil,
Who stretched beneath the shadowing oak tree, stare
Peacefully on the star-unfolding skies,
And name their life unbroken paradise.
The hounded stag that has escaped the pack,
And pants at ease within a thick-leaved dell;
The unimprisoned bird that finds the track
Through sun-bathed space, to where his fellows dwell;
The martyr, granted respite from the rack,
The death-doomed victim pardoned from his cell,-
Such only know the joy these exiles gain,-
Life’s sharpest rapture is surcease of pain.
Strange faces theirs, wherethrough the Orient sun
Gleams from the eyes and glows athwart the skin.
Grave lines of studious thought and purpose run
From curl-crowned forehead to dark-bearded chin.
And over all the seal is stamped thereon
Of anguish branded by a world of sin,
In fire and blood through ages on their name,
Their seal of glory and the Gentiles’ shame.
Freedom to love the law that Moses brought,
To sing the songs of David, and to think
The thoughts Gabirol to Spinoza taught,
Freedom to dig the common earth, to drink
The universal air-for this they sought
Refuge o’er wave and continent, to link
Egypt with Texas in their mystic chain,
And truth’s perpetual lamp forbid to wane.
Hark! through the quiet evening air, their song
Floats forth with wild sweet rhythm and glad refrain.
They sing the conquest of the spirit strong,
The soul that wrests the victory from pain;
The noble joys of manhood that belong
To comrades and to brothers. In their strain
Rustle of palms and Eastern streams one hears,
And the broad prairie melts in mist of tears.
Uplift the ponderous, golden mask of death,
And let the sun shine on him as it did
How many thousand years agone! Beneath
This worm-defying, uncorrupted lid,
Behold the young, heroic face, round-eyed,
Of one who in his full-flowered manhood died;
Of nobler frame than creatures of to-day,
Swathed in fine linen cerecloths fold on fold,
With carven weapons wrought of bronze and gold,
Accoutred like a warrior for the fray.
We gaze in awe at these huge-modeled limbs,
Shrunk in death’s narrow house, but hinting yet
Their ancient majesty; these sightless rims
Whose living eyes the eyes of Helen met;
The speechless lips that ah! what tales might tell
Of earth’s morning-tide when gods did dwell
Amidst a generous-fashioned, god-like race,
Who dwarf our puny semblance, and who won
The secret soul of Beauty for their own,
While all our art but crudely apes their grace.
We gather all the precious relics up,
The golden buttons chased with wondrous craft,
The sculptured trinkets and the crystal cup,
The sheathed, bronze sword, the knife with brazen haft.
Fain would we wrest with curious eyes from these
Unnumbered long-forgotten histories,
The deeds heroic of this mighty man,
On whom once more the living daylight beams,
To shame our littleness, to mock our dreams,
And the abyss of centuries to span.
Yet could we rouse him from his blind repose,
How might we meet his searching questionings,
Concerning all the follies, wrongs, and woes,
Since his great day whom men call King of Kings,
Victorious Agamemnon? How might we
Those large, clear eyes confront, which scornfully
Would view us as a poor, degenerate race,
Base-souled and mean-proportioned? What reply
Give to the beauty-loving Greek’s heart-cry,
Seeking his ancient gods in vacant space?
What should he find within a world grown cold,
Save doubt and trouble? To his sunny creed
A thousand gloomy, warring sects succeed.
How of the Prince of Peace might he be told,
When over half the world the war-cloud lowers?
How would he mock these faltering hopes of ours,
Who knows the secret now of death and fate!
Humbly we gaze on the colossal frame,
And mutely we accept the mortal shame,
Of men degraded from a high estate.
I give God thanks that I, a lean old man,
Wrinkled, infirm, and crippled with keen pains
By austere penance and continuous toil,
Now rest in spirit, and possess ‘the peace
Which passeth understanding.’ Th’ end draws nigh,
Though the beginning is yesterday,
And a broad lifetime spreads ‘twixt this and that-
A favored life, though outwardly the butt
Of ignominy, malice, and affront,
Yet lighted from within by the clear star
Of a high aim, and graciously prolonged
To see at last its utmost goal attained.
I speak not of mine Order and my House,
Here founded by my hands and filled with saints-
A white society of snowy souls,
Swayed by my voice, by mine example led;
For this is but the natural harvest reaped
From labors such as mine when blessed by God.
Though I rejoice to think my spirit still
Will work my purposes, through worthy hands,
After my bones are shriveled into dust,
Yet have I gleaned a finer, sweeter fruit
Of holy satisfaction, sure and real,
Though subtler than the tissue of the air-
The power completely to detach the soul
From her companion through this life, the flesh;
So that in blessed privacy of peace,
Communing with high angels, she can hold,
Serenely rapt, her solitary course.
Ye know, O saints of heaven, what I have borne
Of discipline and scourge; the twisted lash
Of knotted rope that striped my shrinking limbs;
Vigils and fasts protracted, till my flesh
Wasted and crumbled from mine aching bones,
And the last skin, one woof of pain and sores,
Thereto like yellow parchment loosely clung;
Exposure to the fever and the frost,
When ‘mongst the hollows of the hills I lurked
From persecution of misguided folk,
Accustoming my spirit to ignore
The burden of the cross, while picturing
The bliss of disembodied souls, the grace
Of holiness, the lives of sainted men,
And entertaining all exalted thoughts,
That nowise touched the trouble of the hour,
Until the grief and pain seemed far less real
Than the creations of my brain inspired.
The vision, the beatitude, were true:
The agony was but an evil dream.
I speak not now as one who hath not learned
The purport of those lightly-bandied words,
Evil and Fate, but rather one who knows
The thunders of the terrors of the world.
No mortal chance or change, no earthly shock,
Can move or reach my soul, securely throned
On heights of contemplation and calm prayer,
Happy, serene, no less actual joy
Of present peace than faith in joys to come.
This soft, sweet, yellow evening, how the trees
Stand crisp against the clear, bright-colored sky!
How the white mountain-tops distinctly shine,
Taking and giving radiance, and the slopes
Are purpled with rich floods of peach-hued light!
Thank God, my filmy, old dislustred eyes
Find the same sense of exquisite delight,
My heart vibrates to the same touch of joy
In scenes like this, as when my pulse danced high,
And youth coursed through my veins! This the one link
That binds the wan old man that now I am
To the wild lad who followed up the hounds
Among Ravenna’s pine-woods by the sea.
For there how oft would I lose all delight
In the pursuit, the triumph, or the game,
To stray alone among the shadowy glades,
And gaze, as one who is not satisfied
With gazing, at the large, bright, breathing sea,
The forest glooms, and shifting gleams between
The fine dark fringes of the fadeless trees,
On gold-green turf, sweet-brier, and wild pink rose!
How rich that buoyant air with changing scent
Of pungent pine, fresh flowers, and salt cool seas!
And when all echoes of the chase had died,
Of horn and halloo, bells and baying hounds,
How mine ears drank the ripple of the tide
On the fair shore, the chirp of unseen birds,
The rustling of the tangled undergrowth,
And the deep lyric murmur of the pines,
When through their high tops swept the sudden breeze!
There was my world, there would my heart dilate,
And my aspiring soul dissolve in prayer
Unto that Spirit of Love whose energies
Were active round me, yet whose presence, sphered
In the unsearchable, unbodied air,
Made itself felt, but reigned invisible.
This ere the day that made me what I am.
Still can I see the hot, bright sky, the sea
Illimitably sparkling, as they showed
That morning. Though I deemed I took no note
Of heaven or earth or waters, yet my mind
Retains to-day the vivid portraiture
Of every line and feature of the scene.
Light-hearted ‘midst the dewy lanes I fared
Unto the sea, whose jocund gleam I caught
Between the slim boles, when I heard the clink
Of naked weapons, then a sudden thrust
Sickening to hear, and then a stifled groan;
And pressing forward I beheld the sight
That seared itself for ever on my brain-
My kinsman, Ser Ranieri, on the turf,
Fallen upon his side, his bright young head
Among the pine-spurs, and his cheek pressed close
Unto the moist, chill sod: his fingers clutched
A handful of loose weeds and grass and earth,
Uprooted in his anguish as he fell,
And slowly from his heart the thick stream flowed,
Fouling the green, leaving the fair, sweet face
Ghastly, transparent, with blue, stony eyes
Staring in blankness on that other one
Who triumphed over him. With hot desire
Of instant vengeance I unsheathed my sword
To rush upon the slayer, when he turned
In his first terror of blood-guiltiness.
. . . . . . .
Within my heart a something snapped and brake.
What was it but the chord of rapturous joy
For ever stilled? I tottered and would fall,
Had I not leaned against the friendly pine;
For all realities of life, unmoored
From their firm anchorage, appeared to float
Like hollow phantoms past my dizzy brain.
The strange delusion wrought upon my soul
That this had been enacted ages since.
This very horror curdled at my heart,
This net of trees spread round, these iron heavens,
Were closing over me when I had stood,
Unnumbered cycles back, and fronted HIM,
My father; and he felt mine eyes as now,
Yet saw me not; and then, as now, that form,
The one thing real, lay stretched between us both.
The fancy passed, and I stood sane and strong
To grasp the truth. Then I remembered all-
A few fierce words between them yester eve
Concerning some poor plot of pasturage,
Soon silenced into courteous, frigid calm:
This was the end. I could not meet him now,
To curse him, to accuse him, or to save,
And draw him from the red entanglement
Coiled by his own hands round his ruined life.
God pardon me! My heart that moment held
No drop of pity toward this wretched soul;
And cowering down, as though his guilt were mine,
I fled amidst the savage silences
Of that grim wood, resolved to nurse alone
My boundless desolation, shame, and grief.
There, in that thick-leaved twilight of high noon,
The quiet of the still, suspended air,
Once more my wandering thoughts were calmly ranged,
Shepherded by my will. I wept, I prayed
A solemn prayer, conceived in agony,
Blessed with response instant, miraculous;
For in that hour my spirit was at one
With Him who knows and satisfies her needs.
The supplication and the blessing sprang
From the same source, inspired divinely both.
I prayed for light, self-knowledge, guidance, truth,
And these like heavenly manna were rained down
To feed my hungered soul. His guilt was mine.
What angel had been sent to stay mine arm
Until the fateful moment passed away
That would have ushered an eternity
Of withering remorse? I found the germs
In mine own heart of every human sin,
That waited but occasion’s tempting breath
To overgrow with poisoned bloom my life.
What God thus far had saved me from myself?
Here was the lofty truth revealed, that each
Must feel himself in all, must know where’er
The great soul acts or suffers or enjoys,
His proper soul in kinship there is bound.
Then my life-purpose dawned upon my mind,
Encouraging as morning. As I lay,
Crushed by the weight of universal love,
Which mine own thoughts had heaped upon myself,
I heard the clear chime of a slow, sweet bell.
I knew it-whence it came and what it sang.
From the gray convent nigh the wood it pealed,
And called the monks to prayer. Vigil and prayer,
Clean lives, white days of strict austerity:
Such were the offerings of these holy saints.
How far might such not tend to expiate
A riotous world’s indulgence? Here my life,
Doubly austere and doubly sanctified,
Might even for that other one atone,
So bound to mine, till both should be forgiven.
They sheltered me, not questioning the need
That led me to their cloistered solitude.
How rich, how freighted with pure influence,
With dear security of perfect peace,
Was the first day I passed within those walls!
The holy habit of perpetual prayer,
The gentle greetings, the rare temperate speech,
The chastening discipline, the atmosphere
Of settled and profound tranquillity,
Were even as living waters unto one
Who perisheth of thirst. Was this the world
That yesterday seemed one huge battlefield
For brutish passions? Could the soul of man
Withdraw so easily, and erect apart
Her own fair temple for her own high ends?
But this serene contentment slowly waned
As I discerned the broad disparity
Betwixt the form and spirit of the laws
That bound the order in strait brotherhood.
Yet when I sought to gain a larger love,
More rigid discipline, severer truth,
And more complete surrender of the soul
Unto her God, this was to my reproach,
And scoffs and gibes beset me on all sides.
In mine own cell I mortified my flesh,
I held aloof from all my brethren’s feasts
To wrestle with my viewless enemies,
Till they should leave their blessing on my head;
For nightly was I haunted by that face,
White, bloodless, as I saw it ‘midst the ferns,
Now staring out of darkness, and it held
Mine eyes from slumber and my brain from rest
And drove me from my straw to weep and pray.
Rebellious thoughts such subtle torture wrought
Upon my spirit that I lay day-long
In dumb despair, until the blessed hope
Of mercy dawned again upon my soul,
As gradual as the slow gold moon that mounts
The airy steps of heaven. My faith arose
With sure perception that disaster, wrong,
And every shadow of man’s destiny
Are merely circumstance, and cannot touch
The soul’s fine essence: they exist or die
Only as she affirms them or denies.
This faith sustain me even to the end:
It floods my heart with peace as surely now
As on that day the friars drove me forth,
Urging that my asceticism, too harsh,
Endured through pride, would bring into reproach
Their customs and their order. Then began
My exile in the mountains, where I bode
A hunted man. The elements conspired
Against me, and I was the seasons’ sport,
Drenched, parched, and scorched and frozen alternately,
Burned with shrewd frosts, prostrated by fierce heats,
Shivering ‘neath chilling dews and gusty rains,
And buffeted by all the winds of heaven.
Yet was this period my time of joy:
My daily thoughts perpetual converse held
With angels ministrant; mine ears were charmed
With sweet accordance of celestial sounds,
Song, harp and choir, clear ringing through the air.
And visions were revealed unto mine eyes
By night and day of Heaven’s very courts,
In shadowless, undimmed magnificence.
I gave God thanks, not that He sheltered me,
And fed me as He feeds the fowls of air-
For had I perished, this too had been well-
But for the revelation of His truth,
The glory, the beatitude vouchsafed
To exalt, to heal, to quicken, to inspire;
So that the pinched, lean excommunicate
Was crowned with joy more solid, more secure,
Than all the comfort of the vales could bring.
Then the good Lord touched certain fervid hearts,
Aspiring toward His love, to come to me,
Timid and few at first; but as they heard
From mine own lips the precious oracles,
That soothed the trouble of their souls, appeased
Their spiritual hunger, and disclosed
All of the God within them to themselves,
They flocked about me, and they hailed me saint,
And sware to follow and to serve the good
Which my word published and my life declared.
Thus the lone hermit of the mountain-top
Descended leader of a band of saints,
And midway ‘twixt the summit and the vale
I perched my convent. Yet I bated not
One whit of strict restraint and abstinence.
And they who love me and who serve the truth
Have learned to suffer with me, and have won
The supreme joy that is not of the flesh,
Foretasting the delights of Paradise.
This faith, to them imparted, will endure
After my tongue hath ceased to utter it,
And the great peace hath settled on my soul.
Night, and beneath star-blazoned summer skies
Behold the Spirit of the musky South,
A creole with still-burning, languid eyes,
Voluptuous limbs and incense-breathing mouth:
Swathed in spun gauze is she,
From fibres of her own anana tree.
Within these sumptuous woods she lies at ease,
By rich night-breezes, dewy cool, caressed:
‘Twixt cypresses and slim palmetto trees,
Like to the golden oriole’s hanging nest,
Her airy hammock swings,
And through the dark her mocking-bird yet sings.
How beautiful she is! A tulip-wreath
Twines round her shadowy, free-floating hair:
Young, weary, passionate, and sad as death,
Dark visions haunt for her the vacant air,
While movelessly she lies
With lithe, lax, folded hands and heavy eyes.
Full well knows she how wide and fair extend
Her groves bright-flowered, her tangled everglades,
Majestic streams that indolently wend
Through lush savanna or dense forest shades,
Where the brown buzzard flies
To broad bayou ‘neath hazy-golden skies.
Hers is the savage splendor of the swamp,
With pomp of scarlet and of purple bloom,
Where blow warm, furtive breezes faint and damp,
Strange insects whir, and stalking bitterns boom-
Where from stale waters dead
Oft looms the great-jawed alligator’s head.
Her wealth, her beauty, and the blight on these,-
Of all she is aware: luxuriant woods,
Fresh, living, sunlit, in her dream she sees;
And ever midst those verdant solitudes
The soldier’s wooden cross,
O’ergrown by creeping tendrils and rank moss.
Was her a dream of empire? was it sin?
And is it well that all was borne in vain?
She knows no more than one who slow doth win,
After fierce fever, conscious life again,
Too tired, too weak, too sad,
By the new light to be stirred or glad.
From rich sea-islands fringing her green shore,
From broad plantations where swart freemen bend
Bronzed backs in willing labor, from her store
Of golden fruit, from stream, from town, ascend
Life-currents of pure health:
Her aims shall be subserved with boundless wealth.
Yet now how listless and how still she lies,
Like some half-savage, dusky Indian queen,
Rocked in her hammock ‘neath her native skies,
With the pathetic, passive, broken mien
Of one who, sorely proved,
Great-souled, hath suffered much and much hath loved!
But look! along the wide-branched, dewy glade
Glimmers the dawn: the light palmetto-trees
And cypresses reissue from the shade,
And SHE hath wakened. Through clear air she sees
The pledge, the brightening ray,
And leaps from dreams to hail the coming day.
The Garden Of Adonis
(The Garden of Life in Spenser’s ‘Faerie Queene.’)
IT is no fabled garden in the skies,
But bloometh here— this is no world of death;
And nothing that once liveth, ever dies,
And naught that breathes can ever cease to breathe,
And naught that bloometh ever withereth.
The gods can ne’er take back their gifts from men,
They gave us life,— they cannot take again.
Who hath known Death, and who hath seen his face?
On what high mountain have ye met with him?
Within what lowest valley is there trace
Of his feared footsteps? in what forest dim,
In what great city, in what lonely ways?
Nay, there is no such god, but one called Change,
And all he does is beautiful and strange.
It is but Change that lays our darlings low,
And, though we doubt and fear, forsakes them not.
Where red lips smiled do sweetest roses blow,
And star-flowers bloom above the lovely spot
Where gleamed the eyes, with blue forget-me-not.
And through the grasses runs the same wave there
We knew of old within the golden hair.
Dig in the earth— ye shall not surely find
Death or death’s semblance; only roots of flowers,
And all fair, goodly things there live enshrined,
With the foundations of the glad green bowers,
Through which the sunshine comes in golden showers.
And all the blossoms that this earth enwreathe,
Are for assurance that there is no death.
O mother, raise thy tear-bathed lids again:
Thy child died not, he only liveth more—
His soul is in the sunshine and the rain,
His life is in the waters and the shore,
He is around thee all the wide world o’er;
The daisy thou hast plucked smiles back at thee,
Because it doth again its mother see.
What noble deed that ever lived, is dead,
Or yet hath lost its power to inspire
Courage in hearts that sicken, and to shed
New faith and hope when hands and footsteps tire,
And make sad, downcast eyes look upward higher?
Yea, all men see and know it, whence it came;
It purifies them like a burning flame.
And dreams? What dreams were ever lost and gone,
But wandering in strange lands we found again?
When least we think of these dear birdlings flown,
We find that bright and fresh they still remain.
The garden of all life is round us then;
And he is blind who doth not know and see,
And praise the gods for immortality.
Look! the round-cheeked moon floats high,
In the glowing August sky,
Quenching all her neighbor stars,
Save the steady flame of Mars.
White as silver shines the sea,
Far-off sails like phantoms be,
Gliding o’er that lake of light,
Vanishing in nether night.
Heavy hangs the tasseled corn,
Sighing for the cordial morn;
But the marshy-meadows bare,
Love this spectral-lighted air,
Drink the dews and lift their song,
Chirp of crickets all night long;
Earth and sea enchanted lie
‘Neath that moon-usurped sky.
To the faces of our friends
Unfamiliar traits she lends-
Quaint, white witch, who looketh down
With a glamour all her own.
Hushed are laughter, jest, and speech,
Mute and heedless each of each,
In the glory wan we sit,
Visions vague before us flit;
Side by side, yet worlds apart,
Heart becometh strange to heart.
Slowly in a moved voice, then,
Ralph, the artist spake again-
‘Does not that weird orb unroll
Scenes phantasmal to your soul?
As I gaze thereon, I swear,
Peopled grows the vacant air,
Fables, myths alone are real,
White-clad sylph-like figures steal
‘Twixt the bushes, o’er the lawn,
Goddess, nymph, undine, and faun.
Yonder, see the Willis dance,
Faces pale with stony glance;
They are maids who died unwed,
And they quit their gloomy bed,
Hungry still for human pleasure,
Here to trip a moonlit measure.
Near the shore the mermaids play,
Floating on the cool, white spray,
Leaping from the glittering surf
To the dark and fragrant turf,
Where the frolic trolls, and elves
Daintily disport themselves.
All the shapes by poet’s brain,
Fashioned, live for me again,
In this spiritual light,
Less than day, yet more than night.
What a world! a waking dream,
All things other than they seem,
Borrowing a finer grace,
From yon golden globe in space;
Touched with wild, romantic glory,
Foliage fresh and billows hoary,
Hollows bathed in yellow haze,
Hills distinct and fields of maize,
Ancient legends come to mind.
Who would marvel should he find,
In the copse or nigh the spring,
Summer fairies gamboling
Where the honey-bees do suck,
Mab and Ariel and Puck?
Ah! no modern mortal sees
Creatures delicate as these.
All the simple faith has gone
Which their world was builded on.
Now the moonbeams coldly glance
On no gardens of romance;
To prosaic senses dull,
Baldur’s dead, the Beautiful,
Hark, the cry rings overhead,
‘Universal Pan is dead!”
‘Requiescant!’ Claude’s grave tone
Thrilled us strangely. ‘I am one
Who would not restore that Past,
Beauty will immortal last,
Though the beautiful must die-
This the ages verify.
And had Pan deserved the name
Which his votaries misclaim,
He were living with us yet.
I behold, without regret,
Beauty in new forms recast,
Truth emerging from the vast,
Bright and orbed, like yonder sphere,
Making the obscure air clear.
He shall be of bards the king,
Who, in worthy verse, shall sing
All the conquests of the hour,
Stealing no fictitious power
From the classic types outworn,
But his rhythmic line adorn
With the marvels of the real.
He the baseless feud shall heal
That estrangeth wide apart
Science from her sister Art.
Hold! look through this glass for me?
Artist, tell me what you see?’
‘I!’ cried Ralph. ‘I see in place
Of Astarte’s silver face,
Or veiled Isis’ radiant robe,
Nothing but a rugged globe
Seamed with awful rents and scars.
And below no longer Mars,
Fierce, flame-crested god of war,
But a lurid, flickering star,
Fashioned like our mother earth,
Vexed, belike, with death and birth.’
Rapt in dreamy thought the while,
With a sphinx-like shadowy smile,
Poet Florio sat, but now
Spake in deep-voiced accents slow,
More as one who probes his mind,
Than for us-‘Who seeks, shall find-
Widening knowledge surely brings
Vaster themes to him who sings.
Was veiled Isis more sublime
Than yon frozen fruit of Time,
Hanging in the naked sky?
Death’s domain-for worlds too die.
Lo! the heavens like a scroll
Stand revealed before my soul;
And the hieroglyphs are suns-
Changeless change the law that runs
Through the flame-inscribed page,
World on world and age on age,
Balls of ice and orbs of fire,
What abides when these expire?
Through slow cycles they revolve,
Yet at last like clouds dissolve.
Jove, Osiris, Brahma pass,
Races wither like the grass.
Must not mortals be as gods
To embrace such periods?
Yet at Nature’s heart remains
One who waxes not nor wanes.
And our crowning glory still
Is to have conceived his will.’
The Day Of Dead Soldiers
WELCOME, thou gray and fragrant Sabbath-day,
To deathless love and valor dedicate!
Glorious with the richest flowers of May,
With early roses, lingering lilacs late,
With vivid green of grass and leaf and spray,
Thou bringest memories that far outweigh
The season’s joy with thoughts of death and fate.
What words may paint the picture on the air
Of this broad land to-day from sea to sea?
The rolling prairies, purple valleys rare,
And royal mountains, endless rivers free,
Filled full with phantoms flitting everywhere,
Pale ghosts of buried armies, slowly there
From countless graves uprising silently.
A calm, grave day,—the sunlight does not shine
But thin, gray clouds bedrape the sky o’erhead.
The delicate air is filled with spirits fine,
The temperate breezes whisper of the dead.
What visions and what memories divine,
O holy Sabbath flower-day, are thine,
Painted in light against a field of red!
Behold the fairest spots in all the land,
To-day in this mid-season of fresh flowers,
Are heroes’ graves, —by many a tender hand
Sprinkled With odorous, radiant-colored showers;
By mild, moist breezes delicately fanned,
Sending o’er distant towns their perfumes bland,
Loading with sweet aroma sunless hours.
Who knows what tremulous, dusky hands set free,
Deck quaintly with gay flowers the graves unknown?
What wealth of bloom is shed exuberantly,
On the far grave in Illinois alone,
Where the last hero, sleeping peacefully,
Beyond detraction and mistrust, doth lie,
By the glad winds of prairies overblown?
With hymns and prayer be this day sanctified,
And consecrate to heroes’ memories;
Not with wild, violent grief for those who died,
O wives and mothers, but with patience wise,
Calm resignation, and a thankful pride,
That they have left their land a fame so wide,
So rich a page of thrilling histories.
Down the goldenest of streams,
Tide of dreams,
The fair cradled man-child drifts;
Sways with cadenced motion slow,
To and fro,
As the mother-foot poised lightly, falls and lifts.
He, the firstling,-he, the light
Of her sight,-
He, the breathing pledge of love,
‘Neath the holy passion lies,
Of her eyes,-
Smiles to feel the warm, life-giving ray above.
She believes that in his vision,
O’er an angel-people shine.
Back to gardens of delight,
His auroral spirit basks in dreams divine.
But she smiles through anxious tears;
Pressing forward, she perceives.
Shadowy muffled shapes, they come
Deaf and dumb,
Bringing what? dry chaff and tares, or full-eared sheaves?
What for him shall she invoke?
Shall the oak
Bind the man’s triumphant brow?
Shall his daring foot alight
On the height?
Shall he dwell amidst the humble and the low?
Through what tears and sweat and pain,
Must he gain
Fruitage from the tree of life?
Shall it yield him bitter flavor?
Shall its savor
Be as manna midst the turmoil and the strife?
In his cradle slept and smiled
Thus the child
Who as Prince of Peace was hailed.
Thus anigh the mother breast,
Lulled to rest,
Child-Napoleon down the lilied river sailed.
Crowned or crucified-the same
Glows the flame
Of her deathless love divine.
Still the blessed mother stands,
In all lands,
As she watched beside thy cradle and by mine.
Whatso gifts the years bestow,
Still men know,
While she breathes, lives one who sees
(Stand they pure or sin-defiled)
But the child
Whom she crooned to sleep and rocked upon her knee.
GRAY-VESTED Dawn, with flameless, tranquil eye,
Cool hands, and dewy lips, is in the sky,
A sober nun, with starry rosary.
With eyes downcast and with uplifted palm,
She seems to whisper now her silent psalm;
Beneath her gaze the sleeping earth is calm.
Her prayer is ended, and she riseth slow,
And o’er the hills she quietly doth go,
Noiseless and gentle as the midnight snow.
Then suddenly the pale-east blushes red,
The flowers to see upraise a sleepy head,
The rosy colors deepen, grow, and spread.
A cool breeze whispers: ‘She is coming now!’
And then the radiant colors burn and glow,
The white cast blushes over cheek and brow,
And glorious on the hills the Morning stands,
Her saffron hair back-blown from rosy bands,
And light and joy and fragrance in her hands.
Her foot has touched the hill-tops, and they shine;
She comes,— the willow rustles and the pine;
She smiles upon the fields a smile divine,
And all the earth smiles back; from mount to vale,
From oak to shuddering grass, from glen to dale,
Wet fields and flowers and glistening brooks cry ‘Hail!’
Song From Heine
MY heart, my heart is heavy,
Though merrily blooms the May;
Out on the ancient bastion,
Under the lindens I stay.
There stands by yon gray old tower,
The sentry-house of the town;
A red clad peasant soldier
Goes pacing up and down.
He toys with his shining musket,
That gleams in the sunset red,
Presenting and shouldering arms now,—
I wish he would shoot me dead!
STILL northward is the central mount of Maine,
From whose high crown the rugged forests seem
Like shaven lawns, and lakes with frequent gleam,
‘Like broken mirrors,’ flash back light again.
Eastward the sea, with its majestic plain,
Endless, of radiant, restless blue, superb
With might and music, whether storms perturb
Its reckless waves, or halcyon winds that reign,
Make it serene as wisdom. Storied Spain
Is the next coast, and yet we may not sigh
For lands beyond the inexorable main;
Our noble scenes have yet no history.
All subtler charms than those that feed the eye,
Our lives must give them; ’tis an aim austere,
But opes new vistas, and a pathway clear.
The Valley Of Baca
A brackish lake is there with bitter pools
Anigh its margin, brushed by heavy trees.
A piping wind the narrow valley cools,
Fretting the willows and the cypresses.
Gray skies above, and in the gloomy space
An awful presence hath its dwelling-place.
I saw a youth pass down that vale of tears;
His head was circled with a crown of thorn,
His form was bowed as by the weight of years,
His wayworn feet by stones were cut and torn.
His eyes were such as have beheld the sword
Of terror of the angel of the Lord.
He passed, and clouds and shadows and thick haze
Fell and encompassed him. I might not see
What hand upheld him in those dismal ways,
Wherethrough he staggered with his misery.
The creeping mists that trooped and spread around,
The smitten head and writhing form enwound.
Then slow and gradual but sure they rose,
Those clinging vapors blotting out the sky.
The youth had fallen not, his viewless foes
Discomfited, had left the victory
Unto the heart that fainted not nor failed,
But from the hill-tops its salvation hailed.
I looked at him in dread lest I should see,
The anguish of the struggle in his eyes;
And lo, great peace was there! Triumphantly
The sunshine crowned him from the sacred skies.
‘From strength to strength he goes,’ he leaves beneath
The valley of the shadow and of death.
‘Thrice blest who passing through that vale of Tears,
Makes it a well,’-and draws life-nourishment
From those death-bitter drops. No grief, no fears
Assail him further, he may scorn the event.
For naught hath power to swerve the steadfast soul
Within that valley broken and made whole.
Thou art a giant altar, where the Earth
Must needs send up her thanks to Him above
Who did create her. Nature cometh here
To lay its offerings upon thy shrine.
The morning and the evening shower down
Bright jewels, — changeful opals, em’ralds fair.
The burning noon sends floods of molten gold,
The calm night crowns thee with its host of stars,
The moon enfolds thee with her silver veil,
And o’er thee e’er is arched the rainbow’s span, —
The gorgeous marriage-ring of Earth and Heaven.
While ever from the holy altar grand
Ascends the incense of the mist and spray,
That mounts to God with thy wild roar of praise
The New Year
Not while the snow-shroud round dead earth is rolled,
And naked branches point to frozen skies.—
When orchards burn their lamps of fiery gold,
The grape glows like a jewel, and the corn
A sea of beauty and abundance lies,
Then the new year is born.
Look where the mother of the months uplifts
In the green clearness of the unsunned West,
Her ivory horn of plenty, dropping gifts,
Cool, harvest-feeding dews, fine-winnowed light;
Tired labor with fruition, joy and rest
Profusely to requite.
Blow, Israel, the sacred cornet! Call
Back to thy courts whatever faint heart throb
With thine ancestral blood, thy need craves all.
The red, dark year is dead, the year just born
Leads on from anguish wrought by priest and mob,
To what undreamed-of morn?
For never yet, since on the holy height,
The Temple’s marble walls of white and green
Carved like the sea-waves, fell, and the world’s light
Went out in darkness,—never was the year
Greater with portent and with promise seen,
Than this eve now and here.
Even as the Prophet promised, so your tent
Hath been enlarged unto earth’s farthest rim.
To snow-capped Sierras from vast steppes ye went,
Through fire and blood and tempest-tossing wave,
For freedom to proclaim and worship Him,
Mighty to slay and save.
High above flood and fire ye held the scroll,
Out of the depths ye published still the Word.
No bodily pang had power to swerve your soul:
Ye, in a cynic age of crumbling faiths,
Lived to bear witness to the living Lord,
Or died a thousand deaths.
In two divided streams the exiles part,
One rolling homeward to its ancient source,
One rushing sunward with fresh will, new heart.
By each the truth is spread, the law unfurled,
Each separate soul contains the nation’s force,
And both embrace the world.
Kindle the silver candle’s seven rays,
Offer the first fruits of the clustered bowers,
The garnered spoil of bees. With prayer and praise
Rejoice that once more tried, once more we prove
How strength of supreme suffering still is ours
For Truth and Law and Love.
Yet life is not a vision nor a prayer,
But stubborn work; she may not shun her task.
After the first compassion, none will spare
Her portion and her work achieved, to ask.
She pleads for respite,—she will come ere long
When, resting by the roadside, she is strong.
Nay, for the hurrying throng of passers-by
Will crush her with their onward-rolling stream.
Much must be done before the brief light die;
She may not loiter, rapt in the vain dream.
With unused trembling hands, and faltering feet,
She staggers forth, her lot assigned to meet.
But when she fills her days with duties done,
Strange vigor comes, she is restored to health.
New aims, new interests rise with each new sun,
And life still holds for her unbounded wealth.
All that seemed hard and toilsome now proves small,
And naught may daunt her,—she hath strength for all.