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Mike Nov 2018
Fireplace firefly, did you come to check up on me.
Do you visit every hearth, is that your assigned duty.
Answering the hearts of those who unknowingly call.
Reminding us that if we can't see beauty in nature,
We won't know beauty at all.

When you return home after the passing of the crescent moon,
Who sees in your eyes all that you've been through.
And comforts you when your tears turn a blue hue.

Maybe you don't feel in the way that we do.
But I'd like to believe after all the light you give, you'd receive it too.
A love from a special someone you know to be true.
Your very own fireplace, who wilfully takes any burden from you.
With the words that I speak
I conjure the joys of our youth— now past
Immortal on the condition of our delayed mortality
Emblazoned in the collective memory of our twin souls—
/
As my sight goes soft at the edges, tinged gold
Reality makes way— we advance into the void:
A cabin of logs, on a lilypad of golden light
Floats in the sea of the Ancestors, their august trunks
Shed snowdowned twigs for the Hearth—
/
Stones picked from the hillside, stacked high—
/
The fire is gentle, we warm our hands
And the light of the Ancestors spreads, makes shadows
On the walls, dispels the night’s cold darkness
There is warmth, and us, and home
Jesse stillwater Jul 2018
there are the ones
that feel it climb up
the shadow towards the light,
hesitation on every rung,
each wave of the arising
      overwhelms  unabated ―
and woe betides those
who are on the run
from a storm's deluge


A rousing ocean breeze
stirs inside the memory
of an unframed seashell
lying on the hearth mantel;
heightened sensitivity
lapping soundlessly,
spindrift plashing
the shoreline
of another world's
feigned peace


Perhaps the muted voice
of guilty pleasures,
hushed by their own
hidden truths
Feeling the unfelt textures
of every stifled vibration
left unbreathed


The ***** truth befallen
so cold and lonely
Running in circles,
volatile as all those
     unspoken excitations raging ―
and the whispers of those
who hear not
the voices in the wind


An emotionally enslaved  heart
tarries,  marooned high and dry
in a memory on a distant sand bar
     lain fallow for so long ―
stagnant darkness
of an unsated soul
gathered on the back
of a parched tongue
sullied wordless


Rising up through
a dusty hieroglyph corridor
through an unlocked
labyrinth gate;  vestige echoes
from somewhere left behind
in an incomprehensible
abandoned wake


It's getting harder and harder
   for an insatiable soul to breathe ...
   climbing up a tree trunk―
up within the silence
of the listening tree


  Toes dug into
the rough bark furrows ―
fingers reaching upwards
beyond their deepest known grasp


A shadow stranded
out on a hangin' bough
hearkening without ears that hear:
“perhaps they’ll listen now“  
the wingless bird sings
in psalms that fly away
on tattered feathers
over untamed waters roil


Back to nature’s waning youth,
the bough bends unbroken
to taste the freedom
of the wild absolving seas



Jesse Stillwater
June     2018
Notes:                                                                                                          
a friend sent  a link to a deeply thought provoking modern classic 70's song about Vincent Van Gogh and the complexities of imperfection some of us relate .... i'd listened to the words prior but never heard before now.

  Title is last final lyric line from:  "Vincent" (Starry, Starry night) 1971
Writer(s): DON MCLEAN, ENRICO NASCIMBENI,
ROBERTO VECCHIONI
M Solav Sep 2018
Hear the asynchronous pulsation,
Clicks of eyelids, toggling,
And the beating of a heart:
A Life, in thick layers of rhythms,
Coating a stubborn core.

See the white curtain of the mansion,
Behind windows, dancing,
And the fire in the hearth:
A Life, in thick layers of stones,
Glowing it out with warmth.
- Written in August 2017.
Viridian Aug 2018
I like using fire as an analogy, a metaphor, the punchline for most of my poetry

I often describe the heart as if it were a hearth, while its beats were the heat it radiated

I see it—sometimes a roaring flame, often times a steady bonfire, other times a dying match.

It could scorch you if you aren't careful, but it also provides you warmth and light. A sort of clarity. Comfort.

It allows some of the toughest things on Earth to become malleable and mold itself into something new

It turns the bitter into sweet, the biting cold to teeth-sinking warm, the tasteless into delicious

It allows the spirit to soar with columns of smoke to the heavens while the body becomes fertilizer for daisies

It takes beauty, and burns it black and ash to the point of no recognition

Fire is so precious, and dangerous, and essential, and beautiful, and ****—just like this hearth of a heart

Tended and regulated well, it's the greatest discovery of mankind

Allowed to burn out quick, or spread out of control, then it's the accident that burned down London in 1666

I believe I should end this by saying: find someone who will tend to your hearth as if it were their last dying light, instead of a person who would simply roast marshmallows with forest fires
is this the part where i say that i'm a bit burnt out?
Kate Sep 2018
Her hair.
It falls in waves around her
Like a cloud of romanticization-
I inhale in anticipation.

Her eyes.
They blaze right through me
Like coals on a hearth in a home-
I am warmer; I feel less alone.

O' blessed fever, I hope you never break
O' blessed decision, I thank thee for this mistake
But in every way she moves I feel-
Only a longing, sinful, consuming desire.
"Shampoo" refers to the poetic form invented by Judson Merrill for a writing class in 2018. This poem is a practice of that form.
Nat Lipstadt Dec 2015
Time: 7:30 pm
Temp.: 68F

~~~
overlooking the runways,
festooned by
accidental heavenly whimsy,
or humanistic whimsical inten-sity,
all the the planes and trucks are flashing
electrifying speckles, of eclectically synced
red and green

it is not my holiday,
but no matter,
like every New Yorker this day,
I am happily celebrating its
double U,
unique, unusual

"record breaking warmth"

yes, the Fahrenheit is outtasight, and by the dawn of
early eve~night,
the Centigrade is spiraling in reverse retrograde,
as the temp eases on down, just below seventy degrees,
on this dewinterized twenty fourth day of
December, two nought and fifteen

traffic is light, the terminal, an unbusy, slim shadow of itself,
the maddening crowds gone, now all are among
the dearly departed and either/or, the newly arrived

so composition of the observational, brings cheer and smiles to my faith,
(I mean my face),
the crowning quietude of clear skies, the absence of street smart
city  bustle and hustle,
the languid atmosphere at the gates,
(where seldom is heard an encouraging word)#
makes me reconsider the true meaning of
the au courant phraseology of this day

"record breaking warmth"

for there is indeed
a calm invisible warmth suffusing all tonite,
chests glowing from fireplaces within,
contentment chamber containers in both hearth and heart,
and I am thinking
miracle,
about all the human warmth
on this celebrated evening,
holy night

indeed,
it is breaking records of
recorded human fusion,
the united commonality of millions warming
his and her stories world-over,
that your personal poet is
warming to record
# but not tonight, as I am
unbelievably,
upgraded!
Brody Blue Aug 2017
I gazed into his eyes like beads of sweat
Blacker than the empty spacious depths
Around the little bridge-like tiny speck,
An ember on His hearth
We only think is worth
Its broken wharfs

He said to me: "Son, don't fear empty bluffs
They may be steep but they're not steep enough."
And judging by the scar beneath his cuff,
I knew he would be true
And his tale would be true too
About the wharfs

"Throughout the many vicious centuries
The motor of it always seems to freeze
Until the kindled flame does hit the breeze
And thaws its frostbit joints
And burns the hand that points
Out from the wharf."

He cleared his throat and then he said aloud:
"Is piety reaped from fertile ground?
Or by the planter's hand is it endowed?
The answer lies in strife
So mount the throne of life
Far from the wharf."
A song about an improver.
Butch Decatoria Dec 2015
We dapple our kiss
hot white Zinfandel

and like the blind groping for
doors, you open me

longingly for warmth,
one hearth we coalesce.
Bison Feb 2016
On my first day of dying I met the sun.
A funny fellow he played tricks on everyone but it was all in good fun.
All in good fun.

On my second day of dying I met the moon. She, like me, was quite morose. Full of darkness her gloom seemed to mirror my doom.
Mirror my doom.

On my third day of dying I met the earth. A babbling brook and mountainous mirth. She spoke of living and of the renewal of spring, her birth. She kept me warm in her hearth.
Warm in her hearth.

On my last day of dying I met you. A beautiful soul, bright and true. I heard you laugh and sing to the deep blue. Ice for eyes and fire for heart you carried me through.
Carried me through.

On my first day of living I met myself. I never would have made it without your help. Now my misery lives quiet on the shelf. Our children play like fireflies in Springtime's golden wealth.
Springtime's golden wealth.
jcl Dec 2018
you are the center, the sun in the sky
warming, lighting, guiding those below

you are the core, the hub in the wheel
forming, maintaining, strengthening the circle

you are the earth, the bedrock beneath
supporting, stabilizing, reinforcing our lives

you are the reason for our being, our births, our lives
nurturing, nourishing, caring for our hopes, our dreams

you gather, sort the fruits, roots harvested from the land
tending, stoking, reviving embers smothering in the hearth

your strength transcends your body, your mind, your heart
from the first child, to the last, your love, affection is forever

you cradle, caress, kiss, comforting the child
reassuring, protecting, shooing monsters away

you are the strong, tough, steady woman in our lives
fierceness of a lioness, tender as a kitten, loving her child
patty m Nov 2014
Outside my garden wall, traffic swishes, yet in this place of rock and sand, cool moss and good earth, I lose myself in reflection.

secret shadow land
my deeper self plants firmly
spreading family roots


bird feeder robbers
springing from the sweet gum tree
three playful squirrels

even in chill air
splashing sounds twitter loudly
when birds come to bathe

Precious relics are buried here. Baby teeth collected by the tooth fairy, a tiny lock of baby's hair symbolic of her first haircut.
Crystals, quartz,  a single silver button, and spider webs gossamer as silk

lines drawn in the sand
speak a language all their own
whispering softly.

Autumn days warm as butter quickly change to chilly nights.  
While I, a contented cat enjoy a cornucopia of earthy colors and pungent scents; Chrysanthemums, lilies and wheat, surrounded by harvest candles, their flickering teases shadow as it dances across the wall.
*
Mums and marigolds
help to brighten hearth and heart
mini-suns glowing

Happiness is abandoned nests, the fledglings gone having found their wings.  For now I'll claim them and set them among the stone elves and tiny pumpkins.


One perfect blue egg
alone in deserted nest
dreaming it can fly

Wind's echoing rasp meets soft night's descent sending eveyone closer to the fire.  It's too early for snow, but the scent is in the air.  A polar vortex is what they're calling this fast exchange from fall to winter chill.  

*
outside the windows
tree monsters flail their limbs
lashing and thrashing

Little eyes are getting sleepy.  Time for prayers and a bedtime story, then kisses as she's tucked warmly into bed.


as today concludes
I sit alone with my thoughts
sipping strong black tea

unconscious bounty
poem seedlings blossoming
grace a tired mind


sleep and renewal
met with a dusting of snow
on the evergreens.


Even as I clear away snow from the sidewalks, the birds gather hoping for my gift of peanuts and bread. .  
Feathered friends you know when I open the door, all gathering to sing your morning songs from the eves and bushes.  
Your joyousness is contagious and I too hum a song enjoying the crisp feel of the cold. .

Glorious new day
the rapture of whiteness sings
hymns of renewal
*
Tiny footprints trail
disappearing in bushes
softly fluttering
Haibun is a form that includes diary entries and haiku to further enhance the moment.  This is a repost but I've amended certain segments and added more haiku.  To all who read me, I say thank you for your comments and thoughts.  I hope you enjoy my small snapshots of time and vision.  
big hugs
Patty
Bison Jun 2016
First things first I was made from the dirt
A hollow shell of skin and bone
Now my souls on fire and I wanna let it burn, let it hurt
A man on fire is a man fully grown

So build your hearth
Gather your sparks
There's room in the coal
There's always room for one more soul

I am one with all the stars in the sky
A dancing fugue alone with the sound of a million bars in the Spanish night
Gun it up and keep it running
A different sound. A different humming.  

A perfect imperfection so delicately poised
Your stare wove threadbare the fabric of this ribcage once destroyed
A weaving song you sang to me
In my heart of hearts I felt the beat
So soft and sweet

Where the smoke rises the fire will die
Not all Jack's fault
Not for lack of salt
For the end is merely a new death
And life is an old friend we must wish well and sell our last breath

And I wept with tears of joy and sadness
Consumed by this earthly madness
I could no longer give myself to the spirit of the sky
For I knew, I knew that no one ever really dies
Rewrite
I want to compel,
all the people to tell,
of their travels,
their hardships, b
and times that went well.
The love that was shared,
and hate that was bared.
Is a part of your life,
if you truly cared.
Twas fear
that berated the souls of the earth.
With pain contemplated,
the flame lost its hearth.
But when claims no one stated,
begin to unearth.
The stains we created,
start losing their worth.
For what is fear without worries to fuel it? Darkness may make it,
but governments mule it.
Realize,
this fear isn't real,
and misinformation,
is all you've been fed.
Then you'll start to ponder,
is this life even real?
Is there any legitimacy,
in all the things that they've said?
There is nothing hiding
in your closet or bed.
And there are less evil people,
than in the news that you've read.
This idea was created,
so they wouldn't be blamed.
But you won't be jaded,
you cannot not be tamed.
The people that faded,
that still are unnamed.
You fight for their memory,
cause they'd do the same.
You Stand for their ideals,
And keep them all close.
Feel all of the feels,
cheerful or morose.
rom Jan 16
death awaits last of the embers
and the hearth is numbed by sleet
barren by midwinter's breath
leaving only the stubs underneath
the smoke that is reaching out to the clouds
in hopes of Sol's fiery wreath

yet He remains hidden
and the smoke begins to fade
the hearth completely freezes over
while the stubs continue to withstand
cruel Winter's escapade
jcl Nov 2018
winter
is here
cold
and gray

there is
no shelter
from the freezing
drizzling
rain

i want to come home
sit by the hearth
be protected
made warm

i crave
to be loved
held  
told
everything will be ok

hold me
in your arms
protect me
from the world
i need to feel safe

hug me
tight
i want to hear
your heart
beat

press me
near
let me
feel
your body
heat

i was a fool
to turn
to run
away

i need
your love
look into
my eyes
let me
whisper, i surrender
ConnectHook Feb 2016
by John Greenleaf Whittier  (1807 – 1892)

“As the Spirits of Darkness be stronger in the dark, so Good Spirits which be Angels of Light are augmented not only by the Divine Light of the Sun, but also by our common Wood fire: and as the celestial Fire drives away dark spirits, so also this our Fire of Wood doth the same.”

COR. AGRIPPA, Occult Philosophy, Book I. chap. v.

“Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow; and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight; the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.”


EMERSON

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.

Meanwhile we did our nightly chores, —
Brought in the wood from out of doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd’s-grass for the cows;
Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
Impatient down the stanchion rows
The cattle shake their walnut bows;
While, peering from his early perch
Upon the scaffold’s pole of birch,
The **** his crested helmet bent
And down his querulous challenge sent.

Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingàd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.

So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature’s geometric signs,
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below, —
A universe of sky and snow!
The old familiar sights of ours
Took marvellous shapes; strange domes and towers
Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
Or garden-wall, or belt of wood;
A smooth white mound the brush-pile showed,
A fenceless drift what once was road;
The bridle-post an old man sat
With loose-flung coat and high cocked hat;
The well-curb had a Chinese roof;
And even the long sweep, high aloof,
In its slant spendor, seemed to tell
Of Pisa’s leaning miracle.

A prompt, decisive man, no breath
Our father wasted: “Boys, a path!”
Well pleased, (for when did farmer boy
Count such a summons less than joy?)
Our buskins on our feet we drew;
With mittened hands, and caps drawn low,
To guard our necks and ears from snow,
We cut the solid whiteness through.
And, where the drift was deepest, made
A tunnel walled and overlaid
With dazzling crystal: we had read
Of rare Aladdin’s wondrous cave,
And to our own his name we gave,
With many a wish the luck were ours
To test his lamp’s supernal powers.
We reached the barn with merry din,
And roused the prisoned brutes within.
The old horse ****** his long head out,
And grave with wonder gazed about;
The **** his ***** greeting said,
And forth his speckled harem led;
The oxen lashed their tails, and hooked,
And mild reproach of hunger looked;
The hornëd patriarch of the sheep,
Like Egypt’s Amun roused from sleep,
Shook his sage head with gesture mute,
And emphasized with stamp of foot.

All day the gusty north-wind bore
The loosening drift its breath before;
Low circling round its southern zone,
The sun through dazzling snow-mist shone.
No church-bell lent its Christian tone
To the savage air, no social smoke
Curled over woods of snow-hung oak.
A solitude made more intense
By dreary-voicëd elements,
The shrieking of the mindless wind,
The moaning tree-boughs swaying blind,
And on the glass the unmeaning beat
Of ghostly finger-tips of sleet.
Beyond the circle of our hearth
No welcome sound of toil or mirth
Unbound the spell, and testified
Of human life and thought outside.
We minded that the sharpest ear
The buried brooklet could not hear,
The music of whose liquid lip
Had been to us companionship,
And, in our lonely life, had grown
To have an almost human tone.

As night drew on, and, from the crest
Of wooded knolls that ridged the west,
The sun, a snow-blown traveller, sank
From sight beneath the smothering bank,
We piled, with care, our nightly stack
Of wood against the chimney-back, —
The oaken log, green, huge, and thick,
And on its top the stout back-stick;
The knotty forestick laid apart,
And filled between with curious art

The ragged brush; then, hovering near,
We watched the first red blaze appear,
Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam
On whitewashed wall and sagging beam,
Until the old, rude-furnished room
Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom;
While radiant with a mimic flame
Outside the sparkling drift became,
And through the bare-boughed lilac-tree
Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free.
The crane and pendent trammels showed,
The Turks’ heads on the andirons glowed;
While childish fancy, prompt to tell
The meaning of the miracle,
Whispered the old rhyme: “Under the tree,
When fire outdoors burns merrily,
There the witches are making tea.”

The moon above the eastern wood
Shone at its full; the hill-range stood
Transfigured in the silver flood,
Its blown snows flashing cold and keen,
Dead white, save where some sharp ravine
Took shadow, or the sombre green
Of hemlocks turned to pitchy black
Against the whiteness at their back.
For such a world and such a night
Most fitting that unwarming light,
Which only seemed where’er it fell
To make the coldness visible.

Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed;
The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat’s dark silhouette on the wall
A couchant tiger’s seemed to fall;
And, for the winter fireside meet,
Between the andirons’ straddling feet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
And, close at hand, the basket stood
With nuts from brown October’s wood.

What matter how the night behaved?
What matter how the north-wind raved?
Blow high, blow low, not all its snow
Could quench our hearth-fire’s ruddy glow.
O Time and Change! — with hair as gray
As was my sire’s that winter day,
How strange it seems, with so much gone
Of life and love, to still live on!
Ah, brother! only I and thou
Are left of all that circle now, —
The dear home faces whereupon
That fitful firelight paled and shone.
Henceforward, listen as we will,
The voices of that hearth are still;
Look where we may, the wide earth o’er,
Those lighted faces smile no more.

We tread the paths their feet have worn,
We sit beneath their orchard trees,
We hear, like them, the hum of bees
And rustle of the bladed corn;
We turn the pages that they read,
Their written words we linger o’er,
But in the sun they cast no shade,
No voice is heard, no sign is made,
No step is on the conscious floor!
Yet Love will dream, and Faith will trust,
(Since He who knows our need is just,)
That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.
Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
Nor looks to see the breaking day
Across the mournful marbles play!
Who hath not learned, in hours of faith,
The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
That Life is ever lord of Death,
And Love can never lose its own!

We sped the time with stories old,
Wrought puzzles out, and riddles told,
Or stammered from our school-book lore
“The Chief of Gambia’s golden shore.”
How often since, when all the land
Was clay in Slavery’s shaping hand,
As if a far-blown trumpet stirred
Dame Mercy Warren’s rousing word:
“Does not the voice of reason cry,
Claim the first right which Nature gave,
From the red scourge of ******* to fly,
Nor deign to live a burdened *****!”
Our father rode again his ride
On Memphremagog’s wooded side;
Sat down again to moose and samp
In trapper’s hut and Indian camp;
Lived o’er the old idyllic ease
Beneath St. François’ hemlock-trees;
Again for him the moonlight shone
On Norman cap and bodiced zone;
Again he heard the violin play
Which led the village dance away.
And mingled in its merry whirl
The grandam and the laughing girl.
Or, nearer home, our steps he led
Where Salisbury’s level marshes spread
Mile-wide as flies the laden bee;
Where merry mowers, hale and strong,
Swept, scythe on scythe, their swaths along
The low green prairies of the sea.
We shared the fishing off Boar’s Head,
And round the rocky Isles of Shoals
The hake-broil on the drift-wood coals;
The chowder on the sand-beach made,
Dipped by the hungry, steaming hot,
With spoons of clam-shell from the ***.
We heard the tales of witchcraft old,
And dream and sign and marvel told
To sleepy listeners as they lay
Stretched idly on the salted hay,
Adrift along the winding shores,
When favoring breezes deigned to blow
The square sail of the gundelow
And idle lay the useless oars.

Our mother, while she turned her wheel
Or run the new-knit stocking-heel,
Told how the Indian hordes came down
At midnight on Concheco town,
And how her own great-uncle bore
His cruel scalp-mark to fourscore.
Recalling, in her fitting phrase,
So rich and picturesque and free
(The common unrhymed poetry
Of simple life and country ways,)
The story of her early days, —
She made us welcome to her home;
Old hearths grew wide to give us room;
We stole with her a frightened look
At the gray wizard’s conjuring-book,
The fame whereof went far and wide
Through all the simple country side;
We heard the hawks at twilight play,
The boat-horn on Piscataqua,
The loon’s weird laughter far away;
We fished her little trout-brook, knew
What flowers in wood and meadow grew,
What sunny hillsides autumn-brown
She climbed to shake the ripe nuts down,
Saw where in sheltered cove and bay,
The ducks’ black squadron anchored lay,
And heard the wild-geese calling loud
Beneath the gray November cloud.
Then, haply, with a look more grave,
And soberer tone, some tale she gave
From painful Sewel’s ancient tome,
Beloved in every Quaker home,
Of faith fire-winged by martyrdom,
Or Chalkley’s Journal, old and quaint, —
Gentlest of skippers, rare sea-saint! —
Who, when the dreary calms prevailed,
And water-**** and bread-cask failed,
And cruel, hungry eyes pursued
His portly presence mad for food,
With dark hints muttered under breath
Of casting lots for life or death,

Offered, if Heaven withheld supplies,
To be himself the sacrifice.
Then, suddenly, as if to save
The good man from his living grave,
A ripple on the water grew,
A school of porpoise flashed in view.
“Take, eat,” he said, “and be content;
These fishes in my stead are sent
By Him who gave the tangled ram
To spare the child of Abraham.”
Our uncle, innocent of books,
Was rich in lore of fields and brooks,
The ancient teachers never dumb
Of Nature’s unhoused lyceum.
In moons and tides and weather wise,
He read the clouds as prophecies,
And foul or fair could well divine,
By many an occult hint and sign,
Holding the cunning-warded keys
To all the woodcraft mysteries;
Himself to Nature’s heart so near
v That all her voices in his ear
Of beast or bird had meanings clear,
Like Apollonius of old,
Who knew the tales the sparrows told,
Or Hermes, who interpreted
What the sage cranes of Nilus said;
A simple, guileless, childlike man,
Content to live where life began;
Strong only on his native grounds,
The little world of sights and sounds
Whose girdle was the parish bounds,
Whereof his fondly partial pride
The common features magnified,
As Surrey hills to mountains grew
In White of Selborne’s loving view, —
He told how teal and loon he shot,
And how the eagle’s eggs he got,
The feats on pond and river done,
The prodigies of rod and gun;
Till, warming with the tales he told,
Forgotten was the outside cold,
The bitter wind unheeded blew,
From ripening corn the pigeons flew,
The partridge drummed i’ the wood, the mink
Went fishing down the river-brink.
In fields with bean or clover ***,
The woodchuck, like a hermit gray,
Peered from the doorway of his cell;
The muskrat plied the mason’s trade,
And tier by tier his mud-walls laid;
And from the shagbark overhead
The grizzled squirrel dropped his shell.

Next, the dear aunt, whose smile of cheer
And voice in dreams I see and hear, —
The sweetest woman ever Fate
Perverse denied a household mate,
Who, lonely, homeless, not the less
Found peace in love’s unselfishness,
And welcome wheresoe’er she went,
A calm and gracious element,
Whose presence seemed the sweet income
And womanly atmosphere of home, —
Called up her girlhood memories,
The huskings and the apple-bees,
The sleigh-rides and the summer sails,
Weaving through all the poor details
And homespun warp of circumstance
A golden woof-thread of romance.
For well she kept her genial mood
And simple faith of maidenhood;
Before her still a cloud-land lay,
The mirage loomed across her way;
The morning dew, that dries so soon
With others, glistened at her noon;
Through years of toil and soil and care,
From glossy tress to thin gray hair,
All unprofaned she held apart
The ****** fancies of the heart.
Be shame to him of woman born
Who hath for such but thought of scorn.
There, too, our elder sister plied
Her evening task the stand beside;
A full, rich nature, free to trust,
Truthful and almost sternly just,
Impulsive, earnest, prompt to act,
And make her generous thought a fact,
Keeping with many a light disguise
The secret of self-sacrifice.

O heart sore-tried! thou hast the best
That Heaven itself could give thee, — rest,
Rest from all bitter thoughts and things!
How many a poor one’s blessing went
With thee beneath the low green tent
Whose curtain never outward swings!

As one who held herself a part
Of all she saw, and let her heart
Against the household ***** lean,
Upon the motley-braided mat
Our youngest and our dearest sat,
Lifting her large, sweet, asking eyes,
Now bathed in the unfading green
And holy peace of Paradise.
Oh, looking from some heavenly hill,
Or from the shade of saintly palms,
Or silver reach of river calms,
Do those large eyes behold me still?
With me one little year ago: —
The chill weight of the winter snow
For months upon her grave has lain;
And now, when summer south-winds blow
And brier and harebell bloom again,
I tread the pleasant paths we trod,
I see the violet-sprinkled sod
Whereon she leaned, too frail and weak
The hillside flowers she loved to seek,
Yet following me where’er I went
With dark eyes full of love’s content.
The birds are glad; the brier-rose fills
The air with sweetness; all the hills
Stretch green to June’s unclouded sky;
But still I wait with ear and eye
For something gone which should be nigh,
A loss in all familiar things,
In flower that blooms, and bird that sings.
And yet, dear heart! remembering thee,
Am I not richer than of old?
Safe in thy immortality,
What change can reach the wealth I hold?
What chance can mar the pearl and gold
Thy love hath left in trust with me?
And while in life’s late afternoon,
Where cool and long the shadows grow,
I walk to meet the night that soon
Shall shape and shadow overflow,
I cannot feel that thou art far,
Since near at need the angels are;
And when the sunset gates unbar,
Shall I not see thee waiting stand,
And, white against the evening star,
The welcome of thy beckoning hand?

Brisk wielder of the birch and rule,
The master of the district school
Held at the fire his favored place,
Its warm glow lit a laughing face
Fresh-hued and fair, where scarce appeared
The uncertain prophecy of beard.
He teased the mitten-blinded cat,
Played cross-pins on my uncle’s hat,
Sang songs, and told us what befalls
In classic Dartmouth’s college halls.
Born the wild Northern hills among,
From whence his yeoman father wrung
By patient toil subsistence scant,
Not competence and yet not want,
He early gained the power to pay
His cheerful, self-reliant way;
Could doff at ease his scholar’s gown
To peddle wares from town to town;
Or through the long vacation’s reach
In lonely lowland districts teach,
Where all the droll experience found
At stranger hearths in boarding round,
The moonlit skater’s keen delight,
The sleigh-drive through the frosty night,
The rustic party, with its rough
Accompaniment of blind-man’s-buff,
And whirling-plate, and forfeits paid,
His winter task a pastime made.
Happy the snow-locked homes wherein
He tuned his merry violin,

Or played the athlete in the barn,
Or held the good dame’s winding-yarn,
Or mirth-provoking versions told
Of classic legends rare and old,
Wherein the scenes of Greece and Rome
Had all the commonplace of home,
And little seemed at best the odds
‘Twixt Yankee pedlers and old gods;
Where Pindus-born Arachthus took
The guise of any grist-mill brook,
And dread Olympus at his will
Became a huckleberry hill.

A careless boy that night he seemed;
But at his desk he had the look
And air of one who wisely schemed,
And hostage from the future took
In trainëd thought and lore of book.
Large-brained, clear-eyed, of such as he
Shall Freedom’s young apostles be,
Who, following in War’s ****** trail,
Shall every lingering wrong assail;
All chains from limb and spirit strike,
Uplift the black and white alike;
Scatter before their swift advance
The darkness and the ignorance,
The pride, the ****, the squalid sloth,
Which nurtured Treason’s monstrous growth,
Made ****** pastime, and the ****
Of prison-torture possible;
The cruel lie of caste refute,
Old forms remould, and substitute
For Slavery’s lash the freeman’s will,
For blind routine, wise-handed skill;
A school-house plant on every hill,
Stretching in radiate nerve-lines thence
The quick wires of intelligence;
Till North and South together brought
Shall own the same electric thought,
In peace a common flag salute,
And, side by side in labor’s free
And unresentful rivalry,
Harvest the fields wherein they fought.

Another guest that winter night
Flashed back from lustrous eyes the light.
Unmarked by time, and yet not young,
The honeyed music of her tongue
And words of meekness scarcely told
A nature passionate and bold,

Strong, self-concentred, spurning guide,
Its milder features dwarfed beside
Her unbent will’s majestic pride.
She sat among us, at the best,
A not unfeared, half-welcome guest,
Rebuking with her cultured phrase
Our homeliness of words and ways.
A certain pard-like, treacherous grace
Swayed the lithe limbs and drooped the lash,
Lent the white teeth their dazzling flash;
And under low brows, black with night,
Rayed out at times a dangerous light;
The sharp heat-lightnings of her face
Presaging ill to him whom Fate
Condemned to share her love or hate.
A woman tropical, intense
In thought and act, in soul and sense,
She blended in a like degree
The ***** and the devotee,
Revealing with each freak or feint
The temper of Petruchio’s Kate,
The raptures of Siena’s saint.
Her tapering hand and rounded wrist
Had facile power to form a fist;
The warm, dark languish of her eyes
Was never safe from wrath’s surprise.
Brows saintly calm and lips devout
Knew every change of scowl and pout;
And the sweet voice had notes more high
And shrill for social battle-cry.

Since then what old cathedral town
Has missed her pilgrim staff and gown,
What convent-gate has held its lock
Against the challenge of her knock!
Through Smyrna’s plague-hushed thoroughfares,
Up sea-set Malta’s rocky stairs,
Gray olive slopes of hills that hem
Thy tombs and shrines, Jerusalem,
Or startling on her desert throne
The crazy Queen of Lebanon
With claims fantastic as her own,
Her tireless feet have held their way;
And still, unrestful, bowed, and gray,
She watches under Eastern skies,
With hope each day renewed and fresh,
The Lord’s quick coming in the flesh,
Whereof she dreams and prophesies!
Where’er her troubled path may be,
The Lord’s sweet pity with her go!
The outward wayward life we see,
The hidden springs we may not know.
Nor is it given us to discern
What threads the fatal sisters spun,
Through what ancestral years has run
The sorrow with the woman born,
What forged her cruel chain of moods,
What set her feet in solitudes,
And held the love within her mute,
What mingled madness in the blood,
A life-long discord and annoy,
Water of tears with oil of joy,
And hid within the folded bud
Perversities of flower and fruit.
It is not ours to separate
The tangled skein of will and fate,
To show what metes and bounds should stand
Upon the soul’s debatable land,
And between choice and Providence
Divide the circle of events;
But He who knows our frame is just,
Merciful and compassionate,
And full of sweet assurances
And hope for all the language is,
That He remembereth we are dust!

At last the great logs, crumbling low,
Sent out a dull and duller glow,
The bull’s-eye watch that hung in view,
Ticking its weary circuit through,
Pointed with mutely warning sign
Its black hand to the hour of nine.
That sign the pleasant circle broke:
My uncle ceased his pipe to smoke,
Knocked from its bowl the refuse gray,
And laid it tenderly away;
Then roused himself to safely cover
The dull red brands with ashes over.
And while, with care, our mother laid
The work aside, her steps she stayed
One moment, seeking to express
Her grateful sense of happiness
For food and shelter, warmth and health,
And love’s contentment more than wealth,
With simple wishes (not the weak,
Vain prayers which no fulfilment seek,
But such as warm the generous heart,
O’er-prompt to do with Heaven its part)
That none might lack, that bitter night,
For bread and clothing, warmth and light.

Within our beds awhile we heard
The wind that round the gables roared,
With now and then a ruder shock,
Which made our very bedsteads rock.
We heard the loosened clapboards tost,
The board-nails snapping in the frost;
And on us, through the unplastered wall,
Felt the light sifted snow-flakes fall.
But sleep stole on, as sleep will do
When hearts are light and life is new;
Faint and more faint the murmurs grew,
Till in the summer-land of dreams
They softened to the sound of streams,
Low stir of leaves, and dip of oars,
And lapsing waves on quiet shores.
Of merry voices high and clear;
And saw the teamsters drawing near
To break the drifted highways out.
Down the long hillside treading slow
We saw the half-buried oxen go,
Shaking the snow from heads uptost,
Their straining nostrils white with frost.
Before our door the straggling train
Drew up, an added team to gain.
The elders threshed their hands a-cold,
Passed, with the cider-mug, their jokes
From lip to lip; the younger folks
Down the loose snow-banks, wrestling, rolled,
Then toiled again the cavalcade
O’er windy hill, through clogged ravine,
And woodland paths that wound between
Low drooping pine-boughs winter-weighed.
From every barn a team afoot,
At every house a new recruit,
Where, drawn by Nature’s subtlest law,
Haply the watchful young men saw
Sweet doorway pictures of the curls
And curious eyes of merry girls,
Lifting their hands in mock defence
Against the snow-ball’s compliments,
And reading in each missive tost
The charm with Eden never lost.
We heard once more the sleigh-bells’ sound;
And, following where the teamsters led,
The wise old Doctor went his round,
Just pausing at our door to say,
In the brief autocratic way
Of one who, prompt at Duty’s call,
Was free to urge her claim on all,
That some poor neighbor sick abed
At night our mother’s aid would need.
For, one in generous thought and deed,
What mattered in the sufferer’s sight
The Quaker matron’s inward light,
The Doctor’s mail of Calvin’s creed?
All hearts confess the saints elect
Who, twain in faith, in love agree,
And melt not in an acid sect
The Christian pearl of charity!

So days went on: a week had passed
Since the great world was heard from last.
The Almanac we studied o’er,
Read and reread our little store
Of books and pamphlets, scarce a score;
One harmless novel, mostly hid
From younger eyes, a book forbid,
And poetry, (or good or bad,
A single book was all we had,)
Where Ellwood’s meek, drab-skirted Muse,
A stranger to the heathen Nine,
Sang, with a somewhat nasal whine,
The wars of David and the Jews.
At last the floundering carrier bore
The village paper to our door.
Lo! broadening outward as we read,
To warmer zones the horizon spread
In panoramic length unrolled
We saw the marvels that it told.
Before us passed the painted Creeks,
A   nd daft McGregor on his raids
In Costa Rica’s everglades.
And up Taygetos winding slow
Rode Ypsilanti’s Mainote Greeks,
A Turk’s head at each saddle-bow!
Welcome to us its week-old news,
Its corner for the rustic Muse,
Its monthly gauge of snow and rain,
Its record, mingling in a breath
The wedding bell and dirge of death:
Jest, anecdote, and love-lorn tale,
The latest culprit sent to jail;
Its hue and cry of stolen and lost,
Its vendue sales and goods at cost,
And traffic calling loud for gain.
We felt the stir of hall and street,
The pulse of life that round us beat;
The chill embargo of the snow
Was melted in the genial glow;
Wide swung again our ice-locked door,
And all the world was ours once more!

Clasp, Angel of the backword look
And folded wings of ashen gray
And voice of echoes far away,
The brazen covers of thy book;
The weird palimpsest old and vast,
Wherein thou hid’st the spectral past;
Where, closely mingling, pale and glow
The characters of joy and woe;
The monographs of outlived years,
Or smile-illumed or dim with tears,
Green hills of life that ***** to death,
And haunts of home, whose vistaed trees
Shade off to mournful cypresses
With the white amaranths underneath.
Even while I look, I can but heed
The restless sands’ incessant fall,
Importunate hours that hours succeed,
Each clamorous with its own sharp need,
And duty keeping pace with all.
Shut down and clasp with heavy lids;
I hear again the voice that bids
The dreamer leave his dream midway
For larger hopes and graver fears:
Life greatens in these later years,
The century’s aloe flowers to-day!

Yet, haply, in some lull of life,
Some Truce of God which breaks its strife,
The worldling’s eyes shall gather dew,
Dreaming in throngful city ways
Of winter joys his boyhood knew;
And dear and early friends — the few
Who yet remain — shall pause to view
These Flemish pictures of old days;
Sit with me by the homestead hearth,
And stretch the hands of memory forth
To warm them at the wood-fire’s blaze!
And thanks untraced to lips unknown
Shall greet me like the odors blown
From unseen meadows newly mown,
Wood-fringed, the wayside gaze beyond;
The traveller owns the grateful sense
Of sweetness near, he knows not whence,
And, pausing, takes with forehead bare
The benediction of the air.

Written in  1865
In its day, 'twas a best-seller and earned significant income for Whittier
Serendipity Nov 2018
Veins crawled up her arms like vines,
leafy green eyes lit up the night.
Brown bark hair collided with nature.

Freckles danced like sparks from a fire across her face,
the warmth of the hearth kept nurtured in her soul.
The pale complexion was her own form of camouflage.

She was the beauty of the Earth intensified,
ten fold.
She was the sky, the heaven's birth,
and yet her beauty remained untold.
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