15.0k
Message

I heard a cry in the night,
A thousand miles it came,
Sharp as a flash of light,
My name, my name!

It was your voice I heard,
You waked and loved me so—
I send you back this word,
I know, I know!

7.0k
Doctors

Every night I lie awake
And every day I lie abed
And hear the doctors, Pain and Death,
Confering at my head.
They speak in scientific tones,
Professional and low—
One argues for a speedy cure,
The other, sure and slow.
To one so humble as myself
It should be matter for some pride
To have such noted fellows here,
Conferring at my side.

5.8k
The Coin

Into my heart’s treasury
I slipped a coin
That time cannot take
Nor a thief purloin, —
Oh better than the minting
Of a gold-crowned king
Is the safe-kept memory
Of a lovely thing.

5.1k
The Giver

You bound strong sandals on my feet,
You gave me bread and wine,
And sent me under sun and stars,
For all the world was mine.

Oh, take the sandals off my feet,
You know not what you do;
For all my world is in your arms,
My sun and stars are you.

If there is any life when death is over,
These tawny beaches will know much of me,
I shall come back, as constant and as changeful
As the unchanging, many-colored sea.

If life was small, if it has made me scornful,
Forgive me; I shall straighten like a flame
In the great calm of death, and if you want me
Stand on the sea-ward dunes and call my name.

Only in sleep I see their faces,
Children I played with when I was a child,
Louise comes back with her brown hair braided,
Annie with ringlets warm and wild.

Only in sleep Time is forgotten —
What may have come to them, who can know?
Yet we played last night as long ago,
And the doll-house stood at the turn of the stair.

The years had not sharpened their smooth round faces,
I met their eyes and found them mild —
Do they, too, dream of me, I wonder,
And for them am I too a child?

Oh in the deep blue night
The fountain sang alone;
It sang to the drowsy heart
Of a satyr carved in stone.
The fountain sang and sang
But the satyr never stirred—
Only the great white moon
In the empty heaven heard.
The fountain sang and sang
And on the marble rim
The milk-white peacocks slept,
Their dreams were strange and dim.
Bright dew was on the grass,
And on the ilex dew,
The dreamy milk-white birds
Were all a-glisten too.
The fountain sang and sang
The things one cannot tell,
The dreaming peacocks stirred
And the gleaming dew-drops fell.

It will not change now
After so many years;
Life has not broken it
With parting or tears;
Death will not alter it,
It will live on
In all my songs for you
When I am gone.

2.7k
Dew
Dew

I dream that he is mine,
I dream that he is true,
And all his words I keep
As rose-leaves hold the dew.

O little thirsty rose,
O little heart beware,
Lest you should hope to hold
A hundred roses’ share.

When I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Though you shall lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.

I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough;
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.

2.4k
A Fantasy

Her voice is like clear water
That drips upon a stone
In forests far and silent
Where Quiet plays alone.

Her thoughts are like the lotus
Abloom by sacred streams
Beneath the temple arches
Where Quiet sits and dreams.

Her kisses are the roses
That glow while dusk is deep
In Persian garden closes
Where Quiet falls asleep.

I would live in your love as the sea-grasses live in the sea,
Borne up by each wave as it passes, drawn down by each wave that recedes;
I would empty my soul of the dreams that have gathered in me,
I would beat with your heart as it beats, I would follow your soul as it leads.

Since there is no escape, since at the end
My body will be utterly destroyed,
This hand I love as I have loved a friend,
This body I tended, wept with and enjoyed;
Since there is no escape even for me
Who love life with a love too sharp to bear:
The scent of orchards in the rain, the sea
And hours alone too still and sure for prayer —
Since darkness waits for me, then all the more
Let me go down as waves sweep to the shore
In pride; and let me sing with my last breath;
In these few hours of light I lift my head;
Life is my lover—I shall leave the dead
If there is any way to baffle death.

I shall gather myself into myself again,
I shall take my scattered selves and make them one,
I shall fuse them into a polished crystal ball
Where I can see the moon and the flashing sun.

I shall sit like a sibyl, hour after hour intent,
Watching the future come and the present go—
And the little shifting pictures of people rushing
In tiny self-importance to and fro.

2.2k
Longing

I am not sorry for my soul
That it must go unsatisfied,
For it can live a thousand times,
Eternity is deep and wide.

I am not sorry for my soul,
But oh, my body that must go
Back to a little drift of dust
Without the joy it longed to know.

The dreams of my heart and my mind pass,
Nothing stays with me long,
But I have had from a child
The deep solace of song;

If that should ever leave me,
Let me find death and stay
With things whose tunes are played out and forgotten
Like the rain of yesterday.

Your eyes drink of me,
Love makes them shine,
Your eyes that lean
So close to mine.

We have long been lovers,
We know the range
Of each other’s moods
And how they change;

But when we look
At each other so
Then we feel
How little we know;

The spirit eludes us,
Timid and free —
Can I ever know you
Or you know me?

2.0k
A Prayer

When I am dying, let me know
That I loved the blowing snow
Although it stung like whips;
That I loved all lovely things
And I tried to take their stings
With gay unembittered lips;
That I loved with all my strength,
To my soul’s full depth and length,
Careless if my heart must break,
That I sang as children sing
Fitting tunes to everything,
Loving life for its own sake.

2.0k
The Lamp

If I can bear your love like a lamp before me,
When I go down the long steep Road of Darkness,
I shall not fear the everlasting shadows,
    Nor cry in terror.

If I can find out God, then I shall find Him,
If none can find Him, then I shall sleep soundly,
Knowing how well on earth your love sufficed me,
    A lamp in darkness.

1.9k
Driftwood

My forefathers gave me
My spirit’s shaken flame,
The shape of hands, the beat of heart,
The letters of my name.

But it was my lovers,
And not my sleeping sires,
Who gave the flame its changeful
And iridescent fires;

As the driftwood burning
Learned its jewelled blaze
From the sea’s blue splendor
Of colored nights and days.

1.9k
After Love

There is no magic any more,
We meet as other people do,
You work no miracle for me
Nor I for you.

You were the wind and I the sea—
There is no splendor any more,
I have grown listless as the pool
Beside the shore.

But though the pool is safe from storm
And from the tide has found surcease,
It grows more bitter than the sea,
For all its peace.

The April night is still and sweet
With flowers on every tree;
Peace comes to them on quiet feet,
    But not to me.

My peace is hidden in his breast
Where I shall never be,
Love comes to-night to all the rest,
    But not to me.

It is not a word spoken,
Few words are said;
Nor even a look of the eyes
Nor a bend of the head,
But only a hush of the heart
That has too much to keep,
Only memories waking
That sleep so light a sleep.

1.6k
Broadway

This is the quiet hour; the theaters
Have gathered in their crowds, and steadily
The million lights blaze on for few to see,
Robbing the sky of stars that should be hers.
A woman waits with bag and shabby furs,
A somber man drifts by, and only we
Pass up the street unwearied, warm and free,
For over us the olden magic stirs.
Beneath the liquid splendor of the lights
We live a little ere the charm is spent;
This night is ours, of all the golden nights,
    The pavement an enchanted palace floor,
And Youth the player on the viol, who sent
    A strain of music through an open door.

You bound strong sandals on my feet,
You gave me bread and wine,
And bade me out, ’neath sun and stars,
For all the world was mine.

Oh take the sandals off my feet,
You know not what you do;
For all my world is in your arms,
My sun and stars are you.

Hibiscus flowers are cups of fire,
(Love me, my lover, life will not stay)
The bright poinsettia shakes in the wind,
A scarlet leaf is blowing away.

A lizard lifts his head and listens —
Kiss me before the noon goes by,
Here in the shade of the ceiba hide me
From the great black vulture circling the sky.

1.6k
I Love You

When April bends above me
And finds me fast asleep,
Dust need not keep the secret
A live heart died to keep.

When April tells the thrushes,
The meadow-larks will know,
And pipe the three words lightly
To all the winds that blow.

Above his roof the swallows,
In notes like far-blown rain,
Will tell the little sparrow
Beside his window-pane.

O sparrow, little sparrow,
When I am fast asleep,
Then tell my love the secret
That I have died to keep.

I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

Oh plunge me deep in love—put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.

Fields beneath a quilt of snow
From which the rocks and stubble sleep,
And in the west a shy white star
That shivers as it wakes from deep.

The restless rumble of the train,
The drowsy people in the car,
Steel blue twilight in the world,
And in my heart a timid star.

We stood in the shrill electric light,
   Dumb and sick in the whirling din
We who had all of love to say
   And a single second to say it in.

“Good-by!” “Good-by!”—you turned to go,
   I felt the train’s slow heavy start,
You thought to see me cry, but oh
   My tears were hidden in my heart.

1.6k
May Night

The spring is fresh and fearless
   And every leaf is new,
The world is brimmed with moonlight,
   The lilac brimmed with dew.

Here in the moving shadows
   I catch my breath and sing—
My heart is fresh and fearless
   And over-brimmed with spring.

1.5k
Sleepless

If I could have your arms tonight—
But half the world and the broken sea
Lie between you and me.

The autumn rain reverberates in the courtyard,
Beating all night against the barren stone,
The sound of useless rain in the desolate courtyard
Makes me more alone.

If you were here, if you were only here—
My blood cries out to you all night in vain
As sleepless as the rain.

Like barley bending
In low fields by the sea,
Singing in hard wind
Ceaselessly;

Like barley bending
And rising again,
So would I, unbroken,
Rise from pain;

So would I softly,
Day long, night long,
Change my sorrow
Into song.

In the silver light after a storm,
Under dripping boughs of bright new green,
I take the low path to hear the meadowlarks
Alone and high-hearted as if I were a queen.

What have I to fear in life or death
Who have known three things:  the kiss in the night,
The white flying joy when a song is born,
And meadowlarks whistling in silver light.

1.5k
A Boy

Out of the noise of tired people working,
Harried with thoughts of war and lists of dead,
His beauty met me like a fresh wind blowing,
Clean boyish beauty and high-held head.

Eyes that told secrets, lips that would not tell them,
Fearless and shy the young unwearied eyes —
Men die by millions now, because God blunders,
Yet to have made this boy he must be wise.

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
To-night with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.
I remembered a darkened doorway
Where we stood while the storm swept by,
Thunder gripping the earth
And lightning scrawled on the sky.
The passing motor busses swayed,
For the street was a river of rain,
Lashed into little golden waves
In the lamp light’s stain.
With the wild spring rain and thunder
My heart was wild and gay;
Your eyes said more to me that night
Than your lips would ever say. . . .
I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
To-night with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.

If you have forgotten water lilies floating
On a dark lake among mountains in the afternoon shade,
If you have forgotten their wet, sleepy fragrance,
Then you can return and not be afraid.

But if you remember, then turn away forever
To the plains and the prairies where pools are far apart,
There you will not come at dusk on closing water lilies,
And the shadow of mountains will not fall on your heart.

1.4k
The Kiss

I hoped that he would love me,
And he has kissed my mouth,
But I am like a stricken bird
That cannot reach the south.

For tho’ I know he loves me,
To-night my heart is sad;
His kiss was not so wonderful
As all the dreams I had.

(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

1.4k
Swans

Night is over the park, and a few brave stars
Look on the lights that link it with chains of gold,
The lake bears up their reflection in broken bars
That seem too heavy for tremulous water to hold.

We watch the swans that sleep in a shadowy place,
And now and again one wakes and uplifts its head;
How still you are— your gaze is on my face—
We watch the swans and never a word is said.

1.4k
Thoughts

When I am all alone
Envy me most,
Then my thoughts flutter round me
In a glimmering host;

Some dressed in silver,
Some dressed in white,
Each like a taper
Blossoming light;

Most of them merry,
Some of them grave,
Each of them lithe
As willows that wave;

Some bearing violets,
Some bearing bay,
One with a burning rose
Hidden away —

When I am all alone
Envy me then,
For I have better friends
Than women and men.

1.4k
Tides

Love in my heart was a fresh tide flowing
Where the starlike sea gulls soar;
The sun was keen and the foam was blowing
High on the rocky shore.
But now in the dusk the tide is turning,
Lower the sea gulls soar,
And the waves that rose in resistless yearning
Are broken forevermore.

1.4k
Jewels

If I should see your eyes again,
I know how far their look would go—
Back to a morning in the park
With sapphire shadows on the snow.

Or back to oak trees in the spring
When you unloosed my hair and kissed
The head that lay against your knees
In the leaf shadow’s amethyst.

And still another shining place
We would remember—how the dun
Wild mountain held us on its crest
One diamond morning white with sun.

But I will turn my eyes from you
As women turn to put away
The jewels they have worn at night
And cannot wear in sober day.

When Love comes singing to his heart
That would not wake for me,
I think that I shall know his joy
By my own ecstasy.

And tho’ the sea were all between,
The time their hands shall meet,
My heart will know his happiness,
So wildly it will beat.

And when he bends above her mouth,
Rejoicing for his sake,
My soul will sing a little song,
But oh, my heart will break.

When beauty grows too great to bear
How shall I ease me of its ache,
For beauty more than bitterness
Makes the heart break.

Now while I watch the dreaming sea
With isles like flowers against her breast,
Only one voice in all the world
Could give me rest.

Day, you have bruised and beaten me,
As rain beats down the bright, proud sea,
Beaten my body, bruised my soul,
Left me nothing lovely or whole —
Yet I have wrested a gift from you,
Day that dies in dusky blue:

For suddenly over the factories
I saw a moon in the cloudy seas —
A wisp of beauty all alone
In a world as hard and gray as stone —
Oh who could be bitter and want to die
When a maiden moon wakes up in the sky?

1.3k
Gifts

I gave my first love laughter,
I gave my second tears,
I gave my third love silence
Through all the years.

My first love gave me singing,
My second eyes to see,
But oh, it was my third love
Who gave my soul to me.

1.3k
Florence

The bells ring over the Anno,
   Midnight, the long, long chime;
Here in the quivering darkness
   I am afraid of time.

Oh, gray bells cease your tolling,
   Time takes too much from me,
And yet to rock and river
   He gives eternity.

1.3k
Joy
Joy

I am wild, I will sing to the trees,
I will sing to the stars in the sky,
I love, I am loved, he is mine,
Now at last I can die!

I am sandaled with wind and with flame,
I have heart-fire and singing to give,
I can tread on the grass or the stars,
Now at last I can live!

1.3k
Nahant

Bowed as an elm under the weight of its beauty,
So earth is bowed, under her weight of splendor,
Molten sea, richness of leaves and the burnished
Bronze of sea-grasses.

Clefts in the cliff shelter the purple sand-peas
And chicory flowers bluer than the ocean
Flinging its foam high, white fire in sunshine,
Jewels of water.

Joyous thunder of blown waves on the ledges,
Make me forget war and the dark war-sorrow —
Against the sky a sentry paces the sea-cliff
Slim in his khaki.

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