SLOWLY the Moon her banderoles of light
Unfurls upon the sky; her fingers drip
Pale, silvery tides; her armoured warriors
Leave Day's bright tents of azure and of gold,
Wherein they hid them, and in silence flock
Upon the solemn battlefield of Night
To try great issues with the blind old king,
The Titan Darkness, who great Pharoah fought
With groping hands, and conquered for a span.
The starry hosts with silver lances prick
The scarlet fringes of the tents of Day,
And turn their crystal shields upon their breasts,
And point their radiant lances, and so wait
The stirring of the giant in his caves.
The solitary hills send long, sad sighs
As the blind Titan grasps their locks of pine
And trembling larch to drag him toward the sky,
That his wild-seeking hands may clutch the Moon
From her war-chariot, scythed and wheeled with light,
Crush bright-mailed stars, and so, a sightless king,
Reign in black desolation! Low-set vales
Weep under the black hollow of his foot,
While sobs the sea beneath his lashing hair
Of rolling mists, which, strong as iron cords,
Twine round tall masts and drag them to the reefs.
Swifter rolls up Astarte's light-scythed car;
Dense rise the jewelled lances, groves of light;
Red flouts Mars' banner in the voiceless war
(The mightiest combat is the tongueless one);
The silvery dartings of the lances prick
His fingers from the mountains, catch his locks
And toss them in black fragments to the winds,
Pierce the vast hollow of his misty foot,
Level their diamond tips against his breast,
And force him down to lair within his pit
And thro' its chinks thrust down his groping hands
To quicken Hell with horror-for the strength
That is not of the Heavens is of Hell.
THE noon was as a crystal bowl
The red wine mantled through;
Around it like a Viking's beard
The red-gold hazes blew,
As tho' he quaffed the ruddy draught
While swift his galley flew.
This mighty Viking was the Night;
He sailed about the earth,
And called the merry harvest-time
To sing him songs of mirth;
And all on earth or in the sea
To melody gave birth.
The valleys of the earth were full
To rocky lip and brim
With golden grain that shone and sang
When woods were still and dim,
A little song from sheaf to sheaf-
Sweet Plenty's cradle-hymn.
O gallant were the high tree-tops,
And gay the strain they sang!
And cheerfully the moon-lit hills
Their echo-music rang!
And what so proud and what so loud
As was the ocean's clang!
But O the little humming song
That sang among the sheaves!
'Twas grander than the airy march
That rattled thro' the leaves,
And prouder, louder, than the deep,
Bold clanging of the waves:
'The lives of men, the lives of men
With every sheaf are bound!
We are the blessing which annuls
The curse upon the ground!
And he who reaps the Golden Grain
The Golden Love hath found.'
I MIND him well, he was a quare ould chap,
Come like meself from swate ould Erin's sod;
He hired me wanst to help his harvest in-
The crops was fine that summer, praised be God!
He found us, Rosie, Mickie, an' meself,
Just landed in the emigration shed;
Meself was tyin' on their bits of clothes;
Their mother-rest her tender sowl!-was dead.
It's not meself can say of what she died:
But 'twas the year the praties felt the rain,
An' rotted in the soil; an' just to dhraw
The breath of life was one long hungry pain.
If we wor haythens in a furrin land,
Not in a country grand in Christian pride,
Faith, then a man might have the face to say
'Twas of stharvation me poor Sheila died.
But whin the parish docthor come at last,
Whin death was like a sun-burst in her eyes-
They looked straight into Heaven-an' her ears
Wor deaf to the poor children's hungry cries,
He touched the bones stretched on the mouldy sthraw:
'She's gone!' he says, and drew a solemn frown;
'I fear, my man, she's dead.' 'Of what?' says I.
He coughed, and says, 'She's let her system down!'
'An' that's God's truth!' says I, an' felt about
To touch her dawney hand, for all looked dark;
An' in me hunger-bleached, shmall-beatin' heart,
I felt the kindlin' of a burnin'spark.
'O by me sowl, that is the holy truth!
There's Rosie's cheek has kept a dimple still,
An' Mickie's eyes are bright-the craythur there
Died that the weeny ones might eat their fill.'
An' whin they spread the daisies thick an' white
Above her head that wanst lay on me breast,
I had no tears, but took the childher's hands,
An' says, 'We'll lave the mother to her rest.'
An' och! the sod was green that summer's day,
An' rainbows crossed the low hills, blue an' fair;
But black an' foul the blighted furrows stretched,
An' sent their cruel poison through the air.
An' all was quiet-on the sunny sides
Of hedge an' ditch the stharvin' craythurs lay,
An' thim as lacked the rint from empty walls
Of little cabins wapin' turned away.
God's curse lay heavy on the poor ould sod,
An' whin upon her increase His right hand
Fell with'ringly, there samed no bit of blue
For Hope to shine through on the sthricken land.
No facthory chimblys shmoked agin the sky.
No mines yawned on the hills so full an' rich;
A man whose praties failed had nought to do
But fold his hands an' die down in a ditch.
A flame rose up widin me feeble heart,
Whin, passin' through me cabin's hingeless dure,
I saw the mark of Sheila's coffin in
The grey dust on the empty earthen flure.
I lifted Rosie's face betwixt me hands;
Says I, 'Me girleen, you an' Mick an' me
Must lave the green ould sod an' look for food
In thim strange countries far beyant the sea.'
An' so it chanced, whin landed on the sthreet,
Ould Dolan, rowlin' a quare ould shay
Came there to hire a man to save his wheat,
An' hired meself and Mickie by the day.
'An' bring the girleen, Pat,' he says, an' looked
At Rosie, lanin' up agin me knee;
'The wife will be right plaised to see the child,
The weeney shamrock from beyant the sea.
'We've got a tidy place, the saints be praised!
As nice a farm as ever brogan trod.
A hundered acres-us as never owned
Land big enough to make a lark a sod.'
'Bedad,' says I, 'I heerd them over there
Tell how the goold was lyin' in the sthreet,
An' guineas in the very mud that sthuck
To the ould brogans on a poor man's feet.'
'Begorra, Pat,' says Dolan, 'may ould Nick
Fly off wid thim rapscallions, schaming rogues,
An' sind thim thrampin' purgatory's flure
Wid red hot guineas in their polished brogues!'
'Och, thin,' says I, 'meself agrees to that!'
Ould Dolan smiled wid eyes so bright an' grey;
Says he, 'Kape up yer heart; I never kew
Since I come out a single hungry day.
'But thin I left the crowded city sthreets-
Th'are men galore to toil in thim an' die;
Meself wint wid me axe to cut a home
In the green woods beneath the clear, swate sky.
'I did that same; an' God be praised this day!
Plenty sits smilin' by me own dear dure;
An' in them years I never wanst have seen
A famished child creep tremblin' on me flure.'
I listened to ould Dolan's honest words:
That's twenty years ago this very spring,
An' Mick is married, an' me Rosie wears
A swateheart's little shinin' goulden ring.
'Twould make yer heart lape just to take a look
At the green fields upon me own big farm;
An' God be praised! all men may have the same
That owns an axe an' has a strong right arm!
1 My white canoe, like the silvery air
2 O'er the River of Death that darkly rolls
3 When the moons of the world are round and fair,
4 I paddle back from the "Camp of Souls."
5 When the wishton-wish in the low swamp grieves
6 Come the dark plumes of red "Singing Leaves."
7 Two hundred times have the moons of spring
8 Rolled over the bright bay's azure breath
9 Since they decked me with plumes of an eagle's wing,
10 And painted my face with the "paint of death,"
11 And from their pipes o'er my corpse there broke
12 The solemn rings of the blue "last smoke."
13 Two hundred times have the wintry moons
14 Wrapped the dead earth in a blanket white;
15 Two hundred times have the wild sky loons
16 Shrieked in the flush of the golden light
17 Of the first sweet dawn, when the summer weaves
18 Her dusky wigwam of perfect leaves.
19 Two hundred moons of the falling leaf
20 Since they laid my bow in my dead right hand
21 And chanted above me the "song of grief"
22 As I took my way to the spirit land;
23 Yet when the swallow the blue air cleaves
24 Come the dark plumes of red "Singing Leaves."
25 White are the wigwams in that far camp,
26 And the star-eyed deer on the plains are found;
27 No bitter marshes or tangled swamp
28 In the Manitou's happy hunting-ground!
29 And the moon of summer forever rolls
30 Above the red men in their "Camp of Souls."
31 Blue are its lakes as the wild dove's breast,
32 And their murmurs soft as her gentle note;
33 As the calm, large stars in the deep sky rest,
34 The yellow lilies upon them float;
35 And canoes, like flakes of the silvery snow,
36 Thro' the tall, rustling rice-beds come and go.
37 Green are its forests; no warrior wind
38 Rushes on war trail the dusk grove through,
39 With leaf-scalps of tall trees mourning behind;
40 But South Wind, heart friend of Great Manitou,
41 When ferns and leaves with cool dews are wet,
42 Bows flowery breaths from his red calumet.
43 Never upon them the white frosts lie,
44 Nor glow their green boughs with the "paint of death";
45 Manitou smiles in the crystal sky,
46 Close breathing above them His life-strong breath;
47 And He speaks no more in fierce thunder sound,
48 So near is His happy hunting-ground.
49 Yet often I love, in my white canoe,
50 To come to the forests and camps of earth:
51 'Twas there death's black arrow pierced me through;
52 'Twas there my red-browed mother gave me birth;
53 There I, in the light of a young man's dawn,
54 Won the lily heart of dusk "Springing Fawn."
55 And love is a cord woven out of life,
56 And dyed in the red of the living heart;
57 And time is the hunter's rusty knife,
58 That cannot cut the red strands apart:
59 And I sail from the spirit shore to scan
60 Where the weaving of that strong cord began.
61 But I may not come with a giftless hand,
62 So richly I pile, in my white canoe,
63 Flowers that bloom in the spirit land,
64 Immortal smiles of Great Manitou.
65 When I paddle back to the shores of earth
66 I scatter them over the white man's hearth.
67 For love is the breath of the soul set free;
68 So I cross the river that darkly rolls,
69 That my spirit may whisper soft to thee
70 Of thine who wait in the "Camp of Souls."
71 When the bright day laughs, or the wan night grieves,
72 Come the dusky plumes of red "Singing Leaves."
O BID the minstrel tune his harp,
And bid the minstrel sing;
And let it be a perfect strain
That round the hall shall ring:
A strain to throb in lady's heart,
To brim the warrior's soul,
As dew fills up the summer rose
And wine the lordly bowl!
O let the minstrel's voice ring clear,
His touch sweep gay and light;
Nor let his glittering tresses know
One streak of wintry white.
And let the light of ruddy June
Shine in his joyous eyes,
If he would wake the only strain
That never fully dies!
O what the strain that woos the knight
To turn from steed and lance,
The page to turn from hound and hawk,
The maid from lute and dance;
The potent strain, that nigh would draw
The hermit from his cave,
The dryad from the leafy oak,
The mermaid from the wave;
That almost might still charm the hawk
To drop the trembling dove?
O ruddy minstrel, tune thy harp,
And sing of Youthful Love!
'The storm is in the air,' she said, and held
Her soft palm to the breeze; and looking up,
Swift sunbeams brush'd the crystal of her eyes,
As swallows leave the skies to skim the brown,
Bright woodland lakes. 'The rain is in the air.
'O Prophet Wind, what hast thou told the rose,
'That suddenly she loosens her red heart,
'And sends long, perfum'd sighs about the place?
'O Prophet Wind, what hast thou told the Swift,
'That from the airy eave, she, shadow-grey,
'Smites the blue pond, and speeds her glancing wing
'Close to the daffodils? What hast thou told small bells,
'And tender buds, that--all unlike the rose--
'They draw green leaves close, close about their breasts
'And shrink to sudden slumber? The sycamores
'In ev'ry leaf are eloquent with thee;
'The poplars busy all their silver tongues
'With answ'ring thee, and the round chestnut stirs
'Vastly but softly, at thy prophecies.
'The vines grow dusky with a deeper green--
'And with their tendrils snatch thy passing harp,
'And keep it by brief seconds in their leaves.
'O Prophet Wind, thou tellest of the rain,
'While, jacinth blue, the broad sky folds calm palms,
'Unwitting of all storm, high o'er the land!
'The little grasses and the ruddy heath
'Know of the coming rain; but towards the sun
'The eagle lifts his eyes, and with his wings
'Beats on a sunlight that is never marr'd
'By cloud or mist, shrieks his fierce joy to air
'Ne'er stir'd by stormy pulse.'
'The eagle mine,' I said: 'O I would ride
'His wings like Ganymede, nor ever care
'To drop upon the stormy earth again,--
'But circle star-ward, narrowing my gyres,
'To some great planet of eternal peace.'.
'Nay,' said my wise, young love, 'the eagle falls
'Back to his cliff, swift as a thunder-bolt;
'For there his mate and naked eaglets dwell,
'And there he rends the dove, and joys in all
'The fierce delights of his tempestuous home.
'And tho' the stormy Earth throbs thro' her poles--
'With tempests rocks upon her circling path--
'And bleak, black clouds snatch at her purple hills--
'While mate and eaglets shriek upon the rock--
'The eagle leaves the hylas to its calm,
'Beats the wild storm apart that rings the earth,
'And seeks his eyrie on the wind-dash'd cliff.
'O Prophet Wind! close, close the storm and rain!'
Long sway'd the grasses like a rolling wave
Above an undertow--the mastiff cried;
Low swept the poplars, groaning in their hearts;
And iron-footed stood the gnarl'd oaks,
And brac'd their woody thews against the storm.
Lash'd from the pond, the iv'ry cygnets sought
The carven steps that plung'd into the pool;
The peacocks scream'd and dragg'd forgotten plumes.
On the sheer turf--all shadows subtly died,
In one large shadow sweeping o'er the land;
Bright windows in the ivy blush'd no more;
The ripe, red walls grew pale--the tall vane dim;
Like a swift off'ring to an angry God,
O'erweighted vines shook plum and apricot,
From trembling trellis, and the rose trees pour'd
A red libation of sweet, ripen'd leaves,
On the trim walks. To the high dove-cote set
A stream of silver wings and violet breasts,
The hawk-like storm swooping on their track.
'Go,' said my love, 'the storm would whirl me off
'As thistle-down. I'll shelter here--but you--
'You love no storms!' 'Where thou art,' I said,
'Is all the calm I know--wert thou enthron'd
'On the pivot of the winds--or in the maelstrom,
'Thou holdest in thy hand my palm of peace;
'And, like the eagle, I would break the belts
'Of shouting tempests to return to thee,
'Were I above the storm on broad wings.
'Yet no she-eagle thou! a small, white, lily girl
'I clasp and lift and carry from the rain,
'Across the windy lawn.'
With this I wove
Her floating lace about her floating hair,
And crush'd her snowy raiment to my breast,
And while she thought of frowns, but smil'd instead,
And wrote her heart in crimson on her cheeks,
I bounded with her up the breezy slopes,
The storm about us with such airy din,
As of a thousand bugles, that my heart
Took courage in the clamor, and I laid
My lips upon the flow'r of her pink ear,
And said: 'I love thee; give me love again!'
And here she pal'd, love has its dread, and then
She clasp'd its joy and redden'd in its light,
Till all the daffodils I trod were pale
Beside the small flow'r red upon my breast.
And ere the dial on the slope was pass'd,
Between the last loud bugle of the Wind
And the first silver coinage of the Rain,
Upon my flying hair, there came her kiss,
Gentle and pure upon my face--and thus
Were we betroth'd between the Wind and Rain.
'BITE deep and wide, O Axe, the tree!
What doth thy bold voice promise me?'
'I promise thee all joyous things
That furnish forth the lives of kings;
'For every silver ringing blow
Cities and palaces shall grow.'
'Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree!
Tell wider prophecies to me.'
'When rust hath gnawed me deep and red.
A nation strong shall lift his head.
'His crown the very heavens shall smite,
Aeons shall build him in his might.'
'Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree!
Bright Seer, help on thy prophecy!'
LOUD trumpets blow among the naked pines,
Fine spun as sere-cloth rent from royal dead.
Seen ghostly thro' high-lifted vagrant drifts,
Shrill blaring, but no longer loud to moons
Like a brown maid of Egypt stands the Earth,
Her empty valley palms stretched to the Sun
For largesse of his gold. Her mountain tops
Still beacon winter with white flame of snow,
Fading along his track; her rivers shake
Wild manes, and paw their banks as though to flee
Their riven fetters.
Lawless is the time,
Full of loud kingless voices that way gone:
The Polar Caesar striding to the north,
Nor yet the sapphire-gated south unfolds
For Spring's sweet progress; the winds, unkinged,
Reach gusty hands of riot round the brows
Of lordly mountains waiting for a lord,
And pluck the ragged beards of lonely pines-
Watchers on heights for that sweet, hidden king,
Bud-crowned and dreaming yet on other shores-
And mock their patient waiting. But by night
The round Moon falters up a softer sky,
Drawn by silver cords of gentler stars
Than darted chill flames on the wintry earth.
Within his azure battlements the Sun
Regilds his face with joyance, for he sees,
From those high towers, Spring, earth's fairest lord,
Soft-cradled on the wings of rising swans,
With violet eyes slow budding into smiles,
And small, bright hands with blossom largesse full,
Crowned with an orchard coronal of white,
And with a sceptre of a ruddy reed
Burnt at its top to amethystine bloom.
Come, Lord, thy kingdom stretches barren hands!
Come, King, and chain thy rebels to thy throne
With tendrils of vine and jewelled links
Of ruddy buds pulsating into flower!
NAY! swear no more, thou woman whom I called
Star, Empress, Wife! Were Dian's self to lean
From her white altar and with goddess lip
Swear thee as pure as her pale breast divine,
I could not deem thee purer than I know
Thou art indeed.
Once, when my triumphs rolled
Along old Rome and blood of roses washed
The battle-stains from off my chariot-wheels,
And triumph's thunders round my legions roared,
And kings in kingly bondage golden bound
Shook at my charger's foot, past the hot din
Of Victory-whose heart of golden pride in wound
Most subtly through with fire of subtlest pain-
My soul on prouder pinion rose above
The Roman shouting, to an air more clear
Than that Jove darks with hurtling thunderbolts,
Or stains with Jovian revels-that separate sphere,
Unshared of gods or man, where thy white feet
Caught their sole staining from my ruddy heart,
Blazing beneath them; where, when Rome looked up,
'Twas with the eyes close shaded with the hand,
As at some glory terrible and pure,-
For no man being pure, a terror dwells
Holy and awful in a sinless thing-
And Caesar's wife, the Empress-Matron, sat
Above a doubt-as high above a stain.
Nay! how know I what hell first belched abroad
Tall flames and slanderous vomitings of smoke,
Blown by infernal breathings, till they scaled
Thy throne of whiteness, and the very slaves
Who crouched in Roman kennels wagged the tongue
Against the wife of Caesar: 'Ha! we need not now
And opal-shaded stone wherewith to view
A stainless glory.' In that day my neck
Was bound and yoked with my twin-Caesar's yoke-
Man's master, Sorrow.
I know thee pure-
But Caesar's wife must throne herself so high
Upon the hills that touch their snowy crests
So close on Heaven that no slanderous Hell
Can dash its lava up their swelling sides.
I love thee, woman, know thee pure, but thou
No more art wife of Caesar. Get thee hence!
My heart is hardened as a lonely crag,
Grey granite lifted to a greyer sky,
And where against its solitary crown
Eternal thunders bellow.
ONE time he dreamed beside a sea
That laid a mane of mimic stars
In fondling quiet on the knee
Of one tall, pearlèd cliff; the bars
Of golden beaches upward swept;
Pine-scented shadows seaward crept.
The full moon swung her ripened sphere
As from a vine; and clouds, as small
As vine leaves in the opening year,
Kissed the large circle of her ball.
The stars gleamed thro' them as one sees
Thor' vine leaves drift the golden bees.
He dreamed beside this purple sea;
Low sang its trancéd voice, and he-
He knew not if the wordless strain
Made prophecy of joy or pain;
He only knew far stretched that sea,
He knew its name-Eternity.
A shallop with a rainbow sail
On the bright pulses of the tide
Throbbed airily; a fluting gale
Kissed the rich gilding of its side;
By chain of rose and myrtle fast
A light sail touched the slender mast.
'A flower-bright rainbow thing,' he said
To one beside him, 'far too frail
To brave dark storms that lurk ahead,
To dare sharp talons of the gale.
Beloved, thou wouldst not forth with me
In such a bark on such a sea?'
'First tell me of its name.' She bent
Her eyes divine and innocent
On his. He raised his hand above
Its prow and answering swore, ''Tis Love!'
'Now tell,' she asked, 'how is it build-
Of gold, or worthless timber gilt?'
'Of gold,' he said. 'Whence named?' asked she,
The roses of her lips apart;
She paused-a lily by the sea.
Came his swift answer, 'From my heart!'
She laid her light palm in his hand:
'Let loose the shallop from the strand!'
BOUCHE-MIGNONNE lived in the mill,
Past the vineyards shady,
Where the sun shone on a rill
Jewelled like a lady.
Proud the stream with lily-bud,
Gay with glancing swallow;
Swift its trillion-footed flood
Winding ways to follow;
Coy and still when flying wheel
Rested from its labour;
Singing when it ground the meal,
Gay as lute or tabor.
'Bouche-Mignonne,' it called, when red
In the dawn were glowing
Eaves and mill-wheel, 'leave thy bed;
Hark to me a-flowing!'
Bouche-Mignonne awoke, and quick
Glossy tresses braided.
Curious sunbeams clustered thick;
Vines her casement shaded
Deep with leaves and blossoms white
Of the morning-glory,
Shaking all their banners bright
From the mill-eaves hoary.
Swallows turned their glossy throats,
When, to hear their matin notes,
Peeped she thro' her curtain.
Shook the mill-stream sweet and clear
With its silvery laughter;
Shook the mill, from flooring sere
Up to oaken rafter.
'Bouche-Mignonne!' it cried, 'come down;
Other flowers are stirring:
Pierre, with fingers strong and brown,
Sets the wheel a-birring.'
Bouche-Mignonne her distaff plies
Where the willows shiver;
Round the mossy mill-wheel flies;
Flash athwart the lily-beds,
Pierce the dry reeds' thicket;
Where the yellow sunlight treads,
Chants the friendly cricket.
Butterflies about her skim-
Pouf! their simple fancies
In the willow shadows dim
Take her eyes for pansies.
Buzzing comes a velvet bee;
Sagely it supposes
Those red lips beneath the tree
Are two crimson roses.
Laughs the mill-stream wise and bright-
It is not so simple;
Knew it, since she first saw light,
Every blush and dimple.
'Bouche-Mignonne!' it laughing cries,
'Pierre as bee is silly;
Thinks two morning stars thine eyes,
And thy neck a lily.'
Bouche-Mignonne, when shadows crept
From the vine-dark hollows,
When the mossy mill-wheel slept,
Curved the airy swallows,
When the lilies closed white lids
Over golden fancies,
Homeward drove her goats and kids.
Bright the gay moon dances
With her light and silver feet,
On the mill-stream flowing;
Come a thousand perfumes sweet,
Dewy buds are blowing;
Comes an owl and greyly flits,
Jewel-eyed and hooting,
Past the green tree where she sits;
Nightingales are fluting;
Soft the wind as rustling silk
On a courtly lady;
Tinkles down the flowing milk;
Huge and still and shady
Stands the mill-wheel, resting still
From its loving labour.
Dances on the tireless rill,
Gay as lute or tabor;
'Bouche-Mignonne!' it laughing cries,
'Do not blush and tremble;
If the night has ears and eyes,
I'll for thee dissemble;
'Loud and clear and sweet I'll sing
On my far way straying;
I will hide the whispered thing
Pierre to thee is saying.
'Bouche-Mignonne, good night, good night!
Every silver hour
I will toss my lilies white
'Gainst thy maiden bower.'
I SAW a fairy twine,
Of star-white jessamine,
A dainty seat, shaped like an airy swing,
With two round yellow stars
Against the misty bars
Of night; she nailed it high
In the pansy-purple sky,
With four taps of her little rainbow wing.
To and fro
That swing I'll blow.
The baby moon in the amethyst sky
Will laugh at us as we float and fly,
And stretch her silver arms and try
To catch the earth-babe swinging by