Sunday, July 7, 2013


1 Poetry is a projection across silence of cadences arranged to break that silence with definite intentions of echoes, syllables, wave lengths.

2 Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, want­ing to fly the air.

3 Poetry is a series of explanations of life, fading off into horizons too swift for eXplanations.

4 Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable.

5 Poetry is a theorem of a yellow-silk handkerchief knotted with riddles, sealed in a balloon tied to the tail of a kite flying in a white wind against a blue sky in spring.

6 Poetry is the silence and speech between a wet struggling root of a flower and a sunlit blossom of that flower.

7 Poetry is the harnessing of the paradox of earth cradling life and then entombing it.

8 Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.

9 Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.

10 Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.


Man's mind is larger than his brow of tears;
 This hour is not my all of time; this place

My all of earth; nor this obscene disgrace 
My all of life; and thy complacent sneers 
Shall not pronounce my doom to my compeers
 While. the Hereafter lights me in the face, 
And from the Past, as from the mountain's base, 
Rise, as I rise, the long tumultuous cheers. 
And who slays me must overcome a world: 
Heroes at arms, and virgins who became 
Mothers of children, prophecy and song; 
Walls of old cities with their flags unfurled; 
Peaks, headlands, ocean and its isles of fame­
And sun and moon and all that made me strong!


Whose woods these are 1 think 1 know.
 His house is in the village though;
 He will not see me stopping here
 To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer 
To stop without a farmhouse near 
Between the woods and frozen lake 
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake 
To ask if there is some mistake. 
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
 But 1 have promises to keep,
And miles to go before 1 sleep,

And miles to go before 1 sleep.


He gave the solid rail a hateful kick.
From far away there came an answering tick; 
And then another tick. He knew the code:
His hate had roused an engine up the road.
He wished when he had had the track alone
He had attacked it with a club or stone
And bent some rail wide. open like a switch 
So as to wreck the engine in the ditch.
Too late, though, now to throw it down the bank;
 Its click was rising to a nearer clank.

Here it came breasting like a horse in skirts.
(He stood well back for fear of scalding squirts.)
 Then for a moment there was only size, 
Confusion, and a roar that drowned the cries
He raised against the gods in the machine. 
Then once again the sand-hank lay serene. 

The traveler's eye picked up a turtle trail, 
Between the dotted feet a streak of tail,
And followed it to where he made out vague, 
But certain signs of buried turtle egg;
And probing with one finger not too rough, 
He found suspicious sand, and sure enough
The pocket of a little turtle mine.      

If there was one egg in it, there were nine,
 Torpedo-like, with shell of gritty leather
All packed in sand to wait the trump together. 
"You'd "better not disturb me any more,"

He told the distance. "I am armed for war.
 The next machine that has the power to pass 
Will get this plasm in its goggle glass."


Sea waves are green and wet, 
But up from where they die 
Rise others vaster yet,
And those are brown and dry.
They are the sea made land 
To come at the fisher town, 
And bury in solid sand
The men she could not drown.
She may know cove and cape, 
But she does not know mankind 
If by any change of shape
She hopes to cut off mind.

Men left her a ship to sink; 
They can leave her a hut as well,
 And be but more free to think 
For the one more cast-off shell.


the shattered water made a misty din,
great waves looked over others coming in, 
and thought of doing something to the shore 
that water never did to land before.

the clouds were low and hairy in the skies
 like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if 
The sand was lucky in being backed by cliff, 

The cliff in being backed by continent.
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
 Some one had better be prepared for rage.
 There would be more than ocean water broken

before God's last "Put out the light" was spoken.


Some say the world will end in fire, 
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
 I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,
 I think I know enough of hate
 To say that for destruction ice Is also great

And would suffice.


When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all, for I know your savor;
But I am completely nourished.


If there is no God for thee
Then there is no God for me
If He sees not when you share
 With the poor your frugal fare,
 Does not see you at a grave,
Every instinct bred to save;
As if you were the only one 
Believing in a resurrection;
When you wait, as lovers do, 
Watching till your friend comes true;
Does not reverence when you take
 Angry words for love's sweet sake;
If his eye does not approve
All your faith and pain and love;
If the heart of justice fail 
And is for you of no avail;
If there is no heaven for thee
 Then there is no heaven for me.

If the Lord they tell us of
Died for men yet loves not love,
If from out His Paradise
He shuts the innocent and wise,
The gay, obedient, simple, good, 
The docile ones, of friendly mood,
Those who die to save a friend 
Heavenly faithful to the end;
If there is no cross for thee. 
Then there is no cross for me.

If its boughs reach not so high
That they bowed star and sky,
If its roots are not so sound
That they cleave the heavy ground,
If it thrills not through all Nature
 Plunged through every living creature,
If its leaves do not enmesh
 Every bit of groaning flesh,
If it strike no mighty spur
Through fang and claw and tooth and fur
Piercing tree and earth and stone,
 Then indeed I stand alone.
Nothing less than this can save
 Me, from out my fleshly grave,
Me, in whom such jungles are 
Where the beasts go out to war.

If there is no God for thee
 Then there is no God for me.


Oh, out in the West where the riders are ready,
            They sing an old song and they tell an old tale,
And its moral is plain: Take it easy, go steady,
            While riding a horse on the Malibu Trail.
It's a high, rocky trail with its switch-backs and doubles,
            It has no beginning and never an end:
It's risky and rough and it's plumb full of troubles,
            From Shifty-that's shale-up to Powder Cut Bend.
Old.timers will tell you the rangers who made it,
            Sang "Roll A Rock Down," with a stiff upper lip,
And cussed all creation, but managed to grade it;
            With a thousand.foot drop if a pony should slip.
Oh, the day it was wet and the sky it was cloudy,
            The trail was as slick as an oil.rigger's pants,
When Ranger McCabe on his pony, Old Rowdy,
            Came ridin' where walkin' was takin' a chance.

"Oh, Roll A Rock Down!" picks and shovels was clangin',
            And Rowdy a-steppin' that careful and light,
When the edge it gave way and McCabe was left hangin'
            Clean over the rim-with no bottom in sight.
I shook out a loop-bein' crowded for throwin';
            I flipped a fair noose for a rope that was wet:
It caught just as Mac lost his holt and was go in',
            And burned through my fingers: it's burnin' them yet.

For Ranger McCabe never knuckled to danger;
            My pardner in camp, on the trail, or in town:
And he slid. into glory, a true forest-ranger,
            With: "Hell! I'm a.goin'! Just roll a rock down."
So, roll a rock down where a ranger is sleepin'
            Aside of his horse below Powder Cut Bend:
I ride and I look where the shadows are creep in',
            And roll a rock down-for McCabe was my friend.

I've sung you my song and I've told you my story,
            And all that I ask when I'm done with the show,
Is, roll a rock down when I slide into glory,
            And say that I went like a ranger should go.

Alone on Lykaion

Alone on Lykaion since man hath been
Stand on the height two columns, 
where' at rest
 Two eagles hewn of gold sit looking East 
Forever; and the sun goes up between.
Far down around the mountain's oval green
 An order keeps the falling stones abreast. 
Below within the chaos last and least
A river like a curl of light is seen.
Beyond the river lies the even sea,
Beyond the sea another ghost of sky,­
0 God, support the sickness of my eye
Lest the far space and long antiquity
Suck out my heart, and on this awful ground 
The great wind kill my little shell with sound.


A poet had a cat.
There is nothing odd in that­
(I might make a little pun about the Mews!)

But what is really more
Remarkable, she wore
A pair of pointed patent-leather shoes.
            And 1 doubt me greatly whether
            You have heard the like of that:
            Pointed shoes of patent-leather
            On a cat!
His time he used to pass
Writing sonnets, on the grass­
(I might say something good on pen and sward!) 
While the cat sat near at hand,
Trying hard to understand
The poems he occasionally roared.
            (I myself possess a feline,
            But when poetry 1 roar
            He is sure to make a bee-line
            For the door.)
The poet, cent by cent, .All his patrimony spent­
(I might tell how he went from verse to worse!)
 Till the cat was sure she could, ~ By advising, do him good.
            So addressed him in a manner that was terse:
            "We are bound toward the scuppers,
            And the time has come to act,
            Or we'll both be on our uppers
            For a fact!"
On her boot she fixed her eye, But the boot made no reply­
(I might say: "Couldn't speak to save its sole!")
 And the foolish bard, instead
Of responding, only read
A verse that wasn't bad upon the whole.
            And it pleased the cat so greatly,
            Though she knew not what it meant,
            That I'll quote approximately
            How it went:­

"If I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree"­
(I might put in: "I think I'd just as leaf!") 
"Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough"­
Well, he'd plagiarized it bodily, in brief!
            But that cat of simple breeding
            Couldn't read the lines between,
            So she took it to a leading Magazine.

She was jarred and very sore
When they showed her to the door.
(I might hit off the door that was a jar!)
 To the spot she swift returned
Where the poet sighed and yearned,
And she told him that he'd gone a little far. 
"Your performance with this rhyme has
            Made me absolutely sick,"
            She remarked. "I think the time has
            Come to kick!"
I could fill up half the page
With descriptions of her rage­
(I might say that she went a bit too fur!)
 When he smiled and murmured: "Shoo!" "There is one thing I can do!"

She answered with a wrathful kind of purr.
            "Y ou may shoe me, an it suit you,
            But I feel my conscience bid
            Me, as tit for tat, to boot you!"
            (Which she did.)
The Moral of the plot (Though I say it, as should not!)
Is: An editor is difficult to suit. But again there're other times When the man who fashions rhymes

            Is a rascal, and a bully one to boot!


A raven sat upon a tree,
 And not a word he spoke,
for His beak contained a piece of Brie,
 Or, maybe, it was Roquefort.

 We'll make it any kind you please¬
 At all events it was a cheese.
Beneath the tree's umbrageous limb
 A hungry fox sat smiling;
He saw the raven watching him,
 And spoke in words beguiling:

 "!'admire," said he, "ton beau plumage,"
 (The which was simply persiflage).
Two things there are, no doubt you know,
 To which a fox is used:
 A rooster that is bound to crow,
 A crow that's bound to roost;
 And whichsoever he espies
 He tells the most unblushing lies.

 "Sweet foul," he said,"I understand
 You're more than merely natty,
 I hear you sing to beat the band
 And Adelina Patti.
 Pray render with your liquid tongue
 A bit from 'Gotterdammerun'g.'

" This subtle speech was aimed to please 
The crow, and it succeeded;
He thought no bird in all the trees
 Could sing as well as he did.
 In flattery completely doused,
 He gave the "Jewel Song" from "Faust."

 But gravitation's law, of course,
 As Isaac Newton showed it,
Exerted on the cheese its force,
 And elsewhere soon bestowed it.
 In fact, there is no need to tell
 What happened when to earth it fell.

 I blush to add that when the bird
 Took in the situation He said one brief, emphatic word,
 Unfit for publication. The fox was greatly startled,
 but He only sighed and answered "Tut."

The Moral is: A fox is bound To be a shameless sinner.
 And also: When the cheese comes round You know it's after dinner.
 But (what is only known to few) The fox is after dinner, too.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Without the slightest basis    
For hypochondriasis  
A widow had forebodings whibh a cloud around her flung,
And with expression cynical
 For half the day a clinical
 Thermometer she held beneath her tongue.
Whene'er she read the papers
She suffered from the vapors,
At every tale of malady or accident she'd groan;

In every new and smart disease,
From housemaid's knee to heart disease,
She recognized the symptoms as her own!
She had a yearning chronic
To try each novel tonic,
Elixir, panacea, lotion, opiate, and balm; 
And from a homeopathist
Would change to an hydropathist,
And back again, with stupefying calm!

She was nervous, 'catalj')IJtic,
And anemic, and dyspeptic:
Though not convinced of apoplexy, yet she had her fears. 
She dwelt with force fanatical
Upon a twinge rheumatical,
And said she had a buzzing in her ears!
Now aU of this bemoaning
And this grumbling and this groaning
The mind of Jack, her son and heir, unconscionably bored.
 His heart completely hardening,
He gave his time to gardening,
For, raising beans was something he adored.
Each hour in accents morbid
This limp maternal bore bid
Her callous son affectionate and lachrymose good-bys. 
She never granted Jack a day
Without some long "Alackaday!"
Accompanied by rolling of the eyes.
But Jack, no panic showing,
Just watched his beanstalk growing,
And twined with tender fingers the tendrils up the pole.
 At all her words funereal
He smiled a smile ethereal,
Or sighed an absent-minded "Bless my soul!"
That hollow-hearted creature
Would never change a feature:
No tear bedimmed his eye, however touching was her talk.

She never fussed or flurried him,
The only thing that worried him
Was when no bean-pods grew upon the stalk!
But then he wabbled loosely
His head, and wept profusely,
And, taking out his handkerchief to mop away his tears, 
Exclaimed: "It hasn't got any!"
He found this blow. to botany
Was sadder than were all his mother's fears.
The Moral is that gardeners pine
Whene'er no pods adorn the vine.
Of all sad words experience gleans
The saddest are: "It might have beans."
(I did not make this up myself:
'Twas in a book upon my shelf.
It's witty, but I don't deny

It's rather Whittier than I!)


With wings held close and slim neck bent, 
Along dark water scarcely stirred,
Floats, shimmering and indolent,
The alabaster bird.
Its mate floats near, the lovely one;
They lie like snow, cool flake on flake,
Mild breast on breast of dimmer swan 
Dim-mirrored in the lake.
They glide. . . and glides that white embrace, 
Shy bird to bird, with never a sound;
Thus leaned Narcissus toward his face, 
Leaned lower till he drowned.
Leda leaned thus, subdued and spent
Beneath those vivid wings of love. . .
Along the lake, proud, indolent,
The vast birds scarcely move.
Silence is wisdom. Then how wise
Are these whose song is, but their knell!
A god did well to choose this guise.

Truly a god did well.


(A Negro Sermon)
And God stepped out on space,
And He looked around and said, "I'm lonely­
/' II make me a world."
And far as the eye of God could see 
Darkness covered everything, 
Blacker than a hundred midnights 
Down in a cypress swamp.
Then God smiled,
And ,the light broke,
And the darkness rolledJup on one side, 
.And the light st~o<:l,shining on the other, 
And God, saicJ., "That's good!"
Then God reached out and took the light in His hand
And God rolled the light around in His hand,
 Until He made the sun;
And He set that sun a,blazing in the heavens. . 
And the light that was leftftom making the s~rL 
God gathered up in a 'shining ball
And flung against the dar¥:I\~ss,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
 Then down between
The darkness and theil light
He hurled the world;
And God said, "That's good!"
Then God himself stepped down­
And the sun was on His right hand,
 And the moon was on His left;
'J'4e stars were clustered about His head,
And the earth was under His feet.
 And God walked, and where He trod 
His footsteps hollowed the valleys ou
t And bulged the mountains up.
Then He stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world 
And He spat out the seven seas;
He batted His eyes, and the lightnings flashed; 
He clapped His hands, and the thunders rolled; 
And the waters above the earth came down, 
The cooling waters came down.
Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine-tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms;
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
 And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again, .
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around His shoulder.
Then God raised His arm and He waved His hand
 Over the sea and over the land,
And He said, "Bring forth! Bring forth!"
And quicker than God could drop His hand,
 Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas;
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings,
And God said, "That's good!"
Then God walked around 
And God looked around
On all, that He had made. He looked at His sun,
And He looked at His moon,
And He looked at His little stars; 
He looked on His world
With all its living things,
And God said, "I'm lonely still."
Then God sat down
On the side of a hill where He could think; 
By a deep, wide river He sat down;
With His head in His hands,
God thought and thought,
Till He thought, "I'll make me a man!"
Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled Him down;
And there the great God Almighty,
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night, 
Who rounded the earth in the middle of His hand-,­This Great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till He shaped it in His own image;
Then into it He blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.

Amen. Amen.


I gotta lov' for Angela,
            I lov' Carlotta, too.
I no can marry both 0' dem,
            So w'at I gonna do?
O! Angela ees pretta girl,
She gotta hair so black, so curl, 
An' teeth so white as anytheeng.
An' O! she gotta voice to seeng,
Dat mak' your hearta feel eet must
 Jump up an' dance or eet weel bust.
 An' alIa time she seeng, her eyes 
Dey smila like Italia's skies,
An' makin' flirtin' looks at you­
But dat ees all w' at she can do.
Carlotta ees no gotta song,
But she ees twice so big an' strong
 As Angela, an' she no look
So beautiful-but she can cook. 
You oughta see her carry wood! 
I tal you w'at, eet do you good.

When she ees be som'body's wife 
She worka hard, you bat my life! 
She. never gattin' tired, too­
But dat ees all w'at she can do.
O! my! I weesh dat Angela
            Was strong for carry wood,
Or else Carlotta gotta song
            An' looka pretta good.
I gotta lov' for Angela,
            I lov' Carlotta, too.
I no can marry both 0' dem,

            So w' at I gonna do?


Giuseppe, da barber, ees greata for "mash," 
He gotta da bigga, da blacka mustache,
Good clo'es an' good styla an' playnta good cash.
W'enevra Giuseppe ees walk on da street,
Da people dey talka, "how nobby! how neat! 
How softa da handa, how smalla da feet."
He raisa hees hat an' he shaka hees curls,
An' smila weeth teetha so shiny like pearls;
O! many da heart of da seely young girls
            He gotta.
            Yes, playnta he gotta­
            But notta

Giuseppe, da barber, he maka da eye,
 An' lika da steam engine puffa an' sigh, 
For catcha Carlotta w'en she ees go by.
Carlotta she walka weeth nose in da air,
An' look through Giuseppe weeth far-away stare,
 As eef she no see dere ees som'body dere.
Giuseppe, da barber, he gotta da cash,
He gotta da clo'es an' da bigga mustache, 
He gotta da seely young girls for da "mash,"
            But notta­
            You bat my life, notta­
            I gotta!


I met a seer.
He held in his hands
The book of wisdom.
"Sir," I addressed him,
"Let me read."
"Child-" he began.
"Sir," I said,
"Think not that I am a child,
For already I know much
Of that which you hold;
Aye, much."
He smiled.
Then he opened the book
And held it before me.

Strange that I should have grown so suddenly blind.


I have known the silence of the stars and of the sea, 
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence/'of a man and a maid,
And the silerice for which music alone finds the word,
And the silence of the woods before the winds of spring begin,
 And the silence of the sick
When their eyes roam about the room.
And I ask: For the depths
Of what use is language?
A beast of the field moans a few times
When death takes its young.

And we are voiceless in the presence of realities­
We cannot speak.
A curious boy asks an old soldier
Sitting in front of the grocery store,
"How did you lose your leg?"
And the old soldier is struck with silence,
Or his mind flies away
Because he cannot concentrate it on Gettysburg.
It comes back jocosely
And he says, "A bear bit it off."
And the boy wonders, while the old soldier
Dumbly, feebly lives over
The flashes of guns, the thunder of cannon,
The shrieks of the slain,
And himself lying on the ground,
And the hospital surgeons, the knives,
, And the long days in bed.
But if he could describe it all
He would be an artist.
But if he were an artist there would be deeper wounds 
Which he could not describe.
There is the silence of a great hatred,
And the silence of a great love,
And the silence of a deep peace of mind,
And the silence of an embittered friendship,
There is the silence of a spiritual crisis,
Through which your soul, exquisitely tortured,
Comes with visions not to be uttered
Into a realm of higher life.
And the silence of the gods who understand each other without speech,

There is the silence of defeat.
There is the silence of those unjustly punished; 
And the silence of the dying whose hand 
Suddenly grips yours.
There is the silence between father and son, 
When the father cannot explain his life,
Even though he be misunderstood for it.
There is the silence that comes between husband 
There is the silence of those who have failed; 
And the vast silence that covers
Broken nations and vanquished leaders.
There is the silence of Lincoln,
Thinking of the poverty of his youth.
And the silence of Napoleon 
After Waterloo.
And the silence of Jeanne d'Arc
Saying amid the flames, 
"Blessed Jesus"­
Revealing in two words all sorrow, all hope. 

And there is the silence of age,
Too full of wisdom for the tongue to utter it
In words intelligible to those who have not lived 
The great range of life.
And there is the silence of the dead.
If we who are in life cannot speak
Of profound experiences,
Why do you marvel that the dead
Do not tell you of death?
Their silence shall be interpreted
As we approach them.


Blessed with a joy that only she
Of all alive shall ever know,
She wears a proud humility
For what it was that killed it so,­
That her degree should be so great :
Among the favored of the Lord 
That she may scarcely bear the weight 
Of her bewildering reward.
 As one apart, immune, alone,
Or featured for the shining ones, 
And like to none that she has known
 Of other women's other sons,­
The firm fruition of her need, 
He shines anointed; and he blurs 
Her vision, till it seems indeed 
A sacrilege to call him hers.
She fears a little for so much
Of what is best, and hardly dares
To think of him as one to touch 
With aches, indignities, and cares; 
She sees him rather at the goal,
Still shining; and her dream foretells 
The proper shining of a soul
Where nothing ordinary dwells.
Perchance a canvass of the town
Would find him far from flags and shouts, 
And leave him only the renown
Of many smiles and many doubts; 
Perchance the crude and common tongue 
Would havoc strangely with his worth; 
But she, with innocence unwrung, 
Would read his name around the earth.
And others, knowing how this youth 
Would shine, if love could make him great, 
When. caught and tortured for the truth 
Would only writhe and hesitate;
While she, arranging for his days
What centuries could not fulfill, 
Transmutes him with her faith and praise, 
And has him shining where she will.
She crowns him with her gratefulness, 
And says again that life is good;
And should the gift of God be less
In him than in her motherhood,
His fame, though vague, will not be small, 
As upward through her dream he fares, 
Half clouded with a crimson fall

Of roses thrown on marble stairs.


"Tell me what you're doing over here, John Gorham,
 Sighing hard and seeming to be sorry when you're not; .
 Make me laugh or let me go now, for long faces in the moonlight
Are a sign for me to say again a word that you forgot."­

"I'm over here to tell you what the moon already
May have said or maybe shouted ever since a year ago; 
I'm over here to tell you what you are, Jane Wayland,
 And to make you rather sorry, I should say, for being so."­

"Tell me what you're saying to me now, John Gorham,
Or you'll never see as much of me as ribbons any more; 
I'll vanish in as many ways as I have toes and fingers,
 And you'H not follow far for one where flocks have been before."­

"I'm sorry now 'you never saw the flocks, Jane Wayland, 
But you're the one to make of them as many as you need. 
And then about the vanishing: It's I who mean to vanish;
 And when I'm here no longer you'll be done with me in­deed."­

"That's a way to tell me what 1 am, John Gorham!
How am 1 to know myself until 1 make you smile?
Try to look as if the moon were making faces at you, 
And a little more as if you meant to stay a little while."­

"You are what it is that over rose-blown gardens
Makes a pretty flutter for a season in the sun;
You are what it is that with a mouse, Jane Wayland, .
 Catches him ana lets him go and eats him up for fun."~

"Sure I never took you for a mouse, John Gorham;
All you say is easy, but so far from being true,
That 1 wish you wouldn't ever be again the one to think so;
 For it isn't cats and butterflies that 1 would be to you."­

"All your little animals are in one picture­
One I've had before me since a year ago tonight;
And the picture where they live will be of you, Jane Way­land,
Till you find a way to kill them or to keep them out of sight." ­

"Won't you ever see me as 1 am, John Gorham,
Leaving out the foolishness and all 1 never meant? 
Somewhere in me there's a woman, if you know the way to find her.
Will you like me any better if 1 prove it and repent?"­

"I doubt if 1 shall ever have the time, Jane Wayland; 
And 1 dare say all this moonlight lying round us might as well
 Fall for nothing on the shards of broken urns that are for­gotten,

As on two that have no longer much of anything to tell."


Give him the darkest inch your shelf allows,
Hide him in lonely garrets, if you will,­
But his hard, human pulse is throbbing still
With the sure strength that fearless truth endows.
 In spite of all fine science disavows,
Of his plain excellence and stubborn skill
There yet remains what fashion cannot kill,
Though years have thinned the laurel from his brows.

Whether or not we read him, we can feel
 From time to time the vigor of his name 
Against us like a finger for the shame 
And emptiness of what our souls reveal 
In books that are as altars where we kneel
 To consecrate the flicker,_not the flame.


(Lincoln. Supposed to have been written not long after the Civil War)

A flying word .from here and there
Had sown the name at which we sneered,
But soon the name was everywhere,
To be reviled and then revered:
A presence to be loved and feared,
We cannot hide it, or deny
That we, the gentlemen who jeered,
May be forgotten by and by.
He came when days were perilous
And hearts of men were sore beguiled; 
And having made his note of us,
He pondered and was reconciled.
Was ever master yet so mild
As he, and so untamable?
We doubted, even when he smiled,
Not knowing what he knew so well.
He knew that undeceiving fate ~ C
Would shame us whom he served unsought; 
He knew that he must wince and wait­
The jest of those for whom he fought;
He knew devoutly what he thought
Of us and of our ridicule;
He knew that we must all be taught
Like little children in' a school.
We gave a glamour to the task
That he encountered and saw. through,
 But little of us did he ask,
And little did we ever do.
And what appears if we review
The season when we railed and chaffed? 
It is the face of one who knew
That we were learning while we laughed.
The face that in our vision feels
Again the ~enom that we flung,
Transfigured to the world reveals
The vigilance to which we clung. 
Shrewd, hallowed, harassed, and among 
The mysteries that are untold,
The face we see was never young,
Nor could it ever have been old.
For he, to whom we had applied
Our shopman's test of age and worth, 
Was elemental when he died,
As he was ancient at his birth:
The saddest among kings of earth, 
Bowed with a galling crown, this man 
Met rancor with a cryptic mirth, 
Laconic-and Olympian.
The love, the grandeur, and the fame 
Are bounded by the world alone;
The calm, the smoldering, and the flame
 Of awful patience were his own:
With him they are forever flown
Past all our fond sel£-shadowings, 
Wherewith we cumber the Unknown 
As with inept Icarian wings.
For we were not as other men:
'Twas ours to soar and his to see.
But we are coming down again,
And we shall come down pleasantly; 
Nor shall we longer disagree
On what it is to be sublime,
But flourish in our perigee

And have one Titan at a time.


Streets of the roaring town,
Hush for him; hush, be still!
He comes, who was stricken down
Doing the word of our will.
Hush! Let him have his state.
Give him his soldier's crown,
The grists of trade can wait
Their grinding at the mill.
But he cannot wait for his honor, now the trumpet has been blown.
Wreathe pride now for his granite brow, lay love on his breast of stone.

Toll! Let the great bells toll
Till the clashing air is dim,
Did we wrong this parted soul?
We will make it up to him.
Toll! Let him never guess
What work we sent him to.
Laurel, laurel, yes.
He did what we bade him do.
Praise, and never a whispered hint but the fight he fought was good;
Never a word that the blood on his sword was his country's own heart's-blood.      

A flag for a soldier's bier
Who dies that his land may live;
0 banners, banners here,
That he doubt not nor misgive!
That he heed not from the tomb
The evil days draw near
When the nation robed in gloom
With its faithless past shall strive.
Let him never dream that his bullet's scream went wide of its island mark,
Home to the heart of his darling land where she stumbled and sinned in the dark.


A mile behind is Gloucester town 
Where the fishing fleets put in, 
A mile ahead the land dips down 
And the woods and farms begin.
Here where the moors stretch free
In the high blue afternoon,
Are the marching sun and talking sea, 
And the racing winds that wheel and flee
 On the flying heels of June.
Jill,o'er-the-ground is purple blue,
 Blue is the quaker-maid,
The wild geranium holds its dew.
Long in the bowlder's shade.
Wax-red hangs the cup
From the huckleberry boughs,
In barberry bells the gray moths sup, 
Or where the choke-cherry lifts high up 
Sweet bowls for their carouse.
Over the shelf of the sandy cove
Beach-peas blossom late.
By copse and cliff the swallows rove
Each calling to his mate.
Seaward the sea-gulls go,
And the land"birds all are here:
That green-gold flash was a vireo,
And yonder flame where the marsh. flags grow 
Was a scarlet tanager.
This earth is not the steadfast place 
We landsmen build upon;
From deep to deep she varies pace, 
And while she comes is gone.,
 Beneath my feet I feel
Her smooth bulk heave and dip; 
With velvet plunge and soft upreel 
She swings and steadies to her keel
 Like a gallant, gallant ship.
These summer clouds she sets for sail, 
The sun is her masthead light,
She tows the moon like a pinnace frail 
Where her phosphor wake churns bright.
Now hid, now looming clear,
On the face of the dangerous blue
The star fleets tack and wheel and veer, 
But on, but on does the old earth steer
 As if her port she knew.
God, dear God! Does she know her port,
 Though she goes so far about?
Or blind astray, does she make her sport
 To brazen and chance it out?
I watched when her captains passed: 
She were better captainless.
Men in the cabin, before the mast,
But some were reckless and some aghast, 
And some sat gorged at mess.
By her battened hatch I leaned and caught 
Sounds from the noisome hold,­
Cursing and sighing of souls distraught
There is cash to purse and spend,
There are wives to be embraced,
Hearts to borrow and hearts to lend,
 And hearts to take and keep to the end,­
0 little sails, make haste!
But thou, vast outbound ship of souls,
What harbor town for thee?
What shapes, when thy arriving tolls, 
Shall crowd the banks to see?
Shall all the happy shipmates then 
Stand singing brotherly?
Or shall a haggard ruthless few 
Warp her over and bring her to, 
While the many broken souls of men 
Fester down in the slaver's pen,

.,Apd nothing to say or do?


(From "fi'pring")
            Give a rouse, then, in the May time
            For a life that knows no fear!
Turn night-time into daytime
            With the sunlight of good cheer!
            For it's always fair weather
            When good fellows get together,
With a stein on the table and a good song ringing clear.

When the wind comes up from Cuba,
            And the birds are on the wing,
And our hearts are patting j uba
            To the banjo of the spring,
            Then it's no wonder whether
            The boys will get together,
With a stein on the table and a cheer for everything.

For we're all frank-and-twenty
            When the spring is in the air;
And we've faith and hope a-plenty,
            And we've life and love to spare:
            And it's birds of a feather
            When we all get together,
With a stein on the table and a heart without a care.

For we know the world is glorious,
            And the goal a golden thing,
And that God is not censorious
            When his children have their fling;
            And life slips its tether
            When the boys get together,

With a stein on the table in the fellowship of spring.


Comrades, pour the wine tonight,
            For the parting is with dawn.
Oh, the clink of cups together,
            With the daylight coming on!

            Greet the morn with a double horn,
 When strong men drink together!
Comrades, gird your swords tonight,
            For the battle is with dawn.

Oh, the clash of shields together,
            With the triumph coming on!
            Greet the foe and lay him low,
When strong men fight together.

Comrades, watch the tides tonight, 
For the sailing is with dawn.
Oh, to face the spray together,
            With the tempest coming on!
Greet the Sea
With a shout of glee,
When strong men roam together.

Comrades, give a cheer tonight,
            For the dying is with dawn.
Oh, to meet the stars together,
            With the silence coming on!

            Greet the end
            As a friend a friend,

When strong men die together.


Oh, the shambling sea is a sexton old, 
And well his work is done.
With an equal grave for lord and knave, 
He buries them everyone.
Then hoy and rip, with a rolling hip,
 He makes for the nearest shore;
And God, who sent him a thousand ship,
 Will send him a thousand more;
But some he'll save for a bleaching grave,
And shoulder them in to shore,­
Shoulder them in, shoulder them in,
Shoulder them in to shore.

Oh, the ships of Greece and the ships of Tyre 
Went out, and where are they?
In the port they made, they are delayed
 With the ships of yesterday.
He followed the ships of England far, 
As the ships of long ago;
And the ships of France they led him a dance,
 But he laid them all arow.
Oh, a loafing, idle lubber to him
Is the sexton of the town;
For sure and swift, with a guiding lift, 
He shovels the dead men down.
But though he delves so fierce and grim,
His honest graves are wide, .
As well they know who sleep below 
The dredge of the deepest tide.

Oh, he works with a rollicking stave at lip, 
And loud is the chorus skirled;
With the burly rote of his rumbling throat
 He batters it down the world.
He learned it once in his father's house,' 
Where the ballads of eld were sung; 
And merry enough is the burden rough,
 But no man knows the tongue.
Oh, fair, they say, was his bride to see, 
And willful she must have been,
That she could bide at his gruesome side 
When the first red dawn came in.

And sweet, they say, is her kiss to those :
She greets to his border home;
And softer than sleep her hand's first sweep -
That beckons, and they come.
Oh, crooked is he, but strong enough
'To handle the tallest mast;
From the royal barque to the slaver dark,
 He buries them all at last.
Then hay and rip, with a rolling hip,
He makes for the nearest shore;
And God, who sent him a thousand ship,
 Will send him a thousand more;

But some he'll save for a bleaching grave, 
And shoulder them in to shore,­
Shoulder them in, shoulder them in, 
Shoulder them in to shore.


I cannot think of any word
To make it plain to you,
How white a thing the hawthorn bush
 That delicately blew
Within a crook of Tinges Lane; 
Each May Day there it stood; 
And lit a flame of loveliness 
For the small neighborhood.

So fragile-white a thing it was,
 I cannot make it plain.
Or the sweet fumbling of the bees,
 Like the break in a rain.
Old Saul lived near. And this his life:
 To cobble for his bread;
To mourn a tall son lost at sea;
A daughter worse than dead.

And so, in place of all his lack,
He set the hawthorn-tree;
Made it his wealth, his mirth, his god,
 His Zion to touch and see.
Born English he. Down Tinges Lane 
His lad's years came and went,
He saw out there behind his thorn, 
A hundred thorns of Kent.

At lovers slipping through the dusk,
He shook a lover's head;
Grudged them each flower. 
It was too white For any but the dead.
Once on a blurred, wet, silver day,
He said to two or three:
"Folks, when I go, pluck yonder bloom, 
That I may take with me."
But it was winter when he went,
 The road wind-wrenched and torn; 
They laid upon his coffin lid
A wreath made all of thorn


Go 'way, fiddle! folks is tired 0' hearin' you a-squawkin'. 
Keep silence fur yo' betters! don't you heah de banjo talkin'? 
About de 'possum's tail she's gwine to lecter-Iadies, listen! 
About de ha'r whut isn't dar, an' why de ha'r is missin':
"Dar's gwine to be a' oberflow," said Noah, lookin' solemn­
Fur Noah tuk de Herald, an' he read de ribber column­
An' so he sot his hands to wuk a-clarin' timber-patches, 
An' 'lowed he's gwine to build a boat to beat de steamah Natchez. .
01' Noah kep' a-naiIin' an' a-chip pin' an' a-sawin';
An' all de wicked neighbors kep' a-Iaughin' an' a-pshawin';
 But Noah didn't min' 'em, knowin' whut wuz gwine to happen: 
An' forty days an' forty nights de rain it kep' a-drappin'.
Now, Noah had done cotched a lot ob ebry sort 0' beas'es­
Ob all de shows a-trabbelin', it beat 'em all to pieces!
He had a Morgan colt an' sebral head 0' J arsey cattle­
An' druv 'em 'board de Ark as soon's he heered de thunder rattle.

Den sech anoder fall ob rain! It come so awful hebby,
 De ribber riz immejitly, an' busted troo de lebbee;
De people all wuz drownded out-'cep' Noah an' de critters, 
An' men he'd hired to wuk de boat-an' one to mix de bitters.
De Ark she kep' a-sailin' an' a-sailin' an' a-sailin';
De lion got his dander up, an' like to bruk de palin';
De sarpints hissed; de painters yelled; tel', whut wid all de fussin' ,
You c'u'dn't hardly heah de mate a-bossin' 'roun' an' cuss in'.
Now Ham, de only nigger whut wuz runnin' on de packet, 
Got lonesome in de barber-shop, an' c'u'dn't stan' de racket; 
An' so, fur to amuse he-se'f, he steamed some wood an' bent it, 
An' soon he had a banjo made-de fust dat wuz invented.
He wet de ledder, stretched it on; made bridge an' screws an' aprin;
An' fitted in a proper neck-'twuz berry long an' taperin'; 
He tuk some tin, an' twisted him a thimble fur to ring it:  
An' den de mighty question riz: how wuz he gwine to string it?

De 'possum had as fine a tail as dis dat 1's a-singin';
De ha'r's so long an' thick an' strong,-des fit fur banjo­ stringin' ;
Dat nigger shaved 'em off as short as washday-dinner graces: 
An' sorted ob 'em by de size-f'om little E's to basses.
He strung her, tuned her, struck a jig,-'twuz "Nebber min' de wedder,"­
She soun' like forty-lebben bands a-playin' all togedder:
Some went to pattin'; some to dancin': Noah called de figgers; 
An' Ham he sot an' knocked de tune, de happiest ob niggers!
Now, sence dat time-it's mighty strange-dere's not de
slightes' showin' Ob any ha'r at all upon de 'possum's tail a-growin'; 
An' curyus, too, dat nigger's ways: his people nebber los' 'em­

Fur whar you finds de nigger-dar's de banjo an' de 'possum!


(From "Christmas-Night in the Quarters")
0 Mahsr! let dis gath'rin fin' a blessin' in yo' sight!
Don't jedge us hard fur what we does-yo' know it's Chrismus­ night;
An' all de balunce ob de yeah we does as right's we kin.
Ef dancin's wrong, 0 Mahsr! let de time excuse de sin!
We labors in de vin'ya'd, wukin' hard an' wukin' true;
 Now, shorely yo' won't notus, ef we eats a grape or two,
 An' takes a leetle holiday,-a leetle restin'-spell,­
Bekase, nex' week, we'll start in fresh, an' labor twicet as well.
Remember, Mahsr,-min' dis now,-de sinfulness ob sin
 Is 'pendin' 'pon de sperrit what we goes an' does it in;
An' in arighchis frame ob min' we's gwine to dance an' sing,
Meelin' like King David, when he cut de pigeon-wing.
It seems to me-indeed it do-I mebbe mout be wrong­
Dat people raly ought to dance, when Chrismus comes along;
 Des dance bekase dey's happy-like de birds hops in de trees,
 De pine-top fiddle soundin' to de bowin' ob de breeze.
We has no ark to dance afore, like Isrul's prophet king; 
We has no harp to soun' de chords, to holp us out to sing; 
But 'cordin' to de gif's we has we does de bes' we knows, 
An' folks don't 'spise de vi' let-flower bekase it ain't de rose.
Yes, bless us, please, Sah, eben ef we's doin' wrong tonight;
 Kase den we'll need de blessin' more'n ef we's do in' right; 
An' let de blessin's stay wid us, untel we comes to die, 
An' goes to keep our Chrismus wid dem sheriffs in de sky!
Yes, tell dem preshis anguls we's a-gwine to jine 'em soon: 
Our voices we's a-train in' fur to sing de glory tune;
We's ready when you wants us, an' it ain't no matter when. 
0 Mahsr!call yo' chillen soon, an' take 'em home! Amen.

Friday, May 31, 2013


The lean coyote, prowler of the night,
Slips to his rocky fastnesses.
. Jack-rabbits noiselessly shuttle among the sage-brush,
And, from the castellated cliffs, 
 Rock-ravens launch their proud black sails upon the day.
            IThe wild horses troop back to their pastures.
            The poplar-trees watch beside the irrigation-ditches.
            Orioles, whose nests sway in the cotton-wood trees by the ditch-side, begin to twitter.

All shy things, breathless, watch
The thin white skirts of dawn,
The dancer of the sky,
Who trips daintily down the mountain-side
Emptying her crystal chalice. . . .
And a red-bird, dipped in sunrise, cracks from a poplar's top

 !lis exultant whip above a silver world.
(From "The Poet in the Desert")


When the Nom Mother saw the Whirlwind Hour
Greatening and darkening' as it hurried on, 
She left the Heaven of Heroes and came down 
To make a man to meet. the mortal need.
She took the tried clay of the common road­
Clay warm yet with the genial heat of earth, 
Dasht through it all a strain of prophecy;
 Tempered the heap with thrill of human tears; 
 Then mixt a laughter with the serious stuff.
 Into the shape she breathed a flame to light
 That tender, tragic, ever-changing face;
And laid on him a sense of the Mystic Powers,
 Moving-all husht-behind the mortal veil.

Here was a man to hold against the world,
A man to match the mountains and the sea.
The color of the ground was in him, the red earth;
 The smack and tang of elemental things:
 The rectitude and patience of the cliff;
The good-will of the rain that loves all leaves;
 The friendly welcome of the wayside well;
 The courage of the bird that dares the sea;
 The gladness of the wind that shakes the corn;
 The pity of the snow that hides all scars;
 The secrecy of streams that make their way
 Under the mountain to the rifted rock;
 The tolerance and equity of light
 That gives as freely to the shrinking flower
As to the great oak flaring to the wind­
To the grave's low hill as to the Matterhorn
 That shoulders out the sky. Sprung from the West,
He drank the valorous youth of a new world. 
The strength of virgin forests braced his mind, 
The hush of spacious prairies stilled his soul. 
His words were oaks in acorns; and his thoughts 
Were roots that firmly gript the granite truth.
Up from log cabin to the Capitol,
One fire was on his spirit, one resolve­
To send the keen ax to the root of wrong, 
Clearing a free way for the feet of God, 
The eyes of conscience testing every stroke, 
To make his deed the measure of a man.
 He built the rail-pile as he built the State,
 Pouring his splendid strength through every blow
The grip that swung the ax in Illinois
Was on the pen that set a people free.

So came the Captain with the mighty heart.
And when the judgment thunders split the house, 
Wrenching the rafters from their ancient rest, 
He held the ridgepole up, and spiked again
The rafters of the Home. He held his place
Held the long purpose like a growing tree
 Held on through blame and faltered not at praise. 
And when he fell in whirl wind, he went down

As when a lordly cedar, green with boughs, 
Goes down with a great shout upon the hills, 
And leaves a lonesome place against the sky.


He drew a circle that shut me out
 Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But Love and I had the wit to win: 
We drew a circle that took him in!


The little toy dog is covered with dust,
            But sturdy and staunch he stands;
The little toy soldier is red with rust,
            And his musket molds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new,
            And the soldier was passing fair;
And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
            Kissed them and put them there.
"Now don't you go till I come," he said,
            "And don't you make any noise!"
So, toddling off to his trundle bed,
            He dreamt of the pretty toys;
            And, as he was dreaming, an angel song
            Awakened our Little Boy Blue­
            Oh! the years are many, the years are long,
            But the little toy friends are true!
            Aye, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand,
            Each in the same old place,
            Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
            The smile of a little face;
            And they wonder, as waiting the long years through
            In the dust of that little chair,
            What has become of our Little Boy Blue,

- Since he kissed them and put them there.