艾米莉·狄金森（Emily Elizabeth Dickinson，1830 — 1886），像沃特·惠特曼（Walt Whitman，1819 — 1892）一样，在19世纪中叶的美国也是他们那个诗歌时代当之无愧的杰出代表。这位生前默默无闻，成年后终老独身，直到死后才有了大名的女诗人，于1830年12月10日将近午夜出生在美国马萨诸塞州当时还是个小镇的艾默斯特。在她祖父创办的艾默斯特学校受完中等教育而于1847年毕业后，在离家不远的芒特霍利约克女子学院就读不足一年，即告退学；从25岁开始，便很少参与社交活动，几乎是足不逾户，常在家务劳动之余写信、写诗；到1886年5月15日那个明媚的初夏黄昏，由于当时诊断为肾脏疾患的病情恶化在昏迷中离去时，已给人间留下了自成一格、独放异彩、数量可观的篇什。
Awake ye muses nine, sing me a strain divine, Unwind the solemn twine, and tie my Valentine! Oh the Earth was made for lovers, for damsel, and hopeless swain, For sighing, and gentle whispering, and unity made of twain. All things do go a courting, in earth, or sea, or air, God hath made nothing single but thee in His world so fair! The bride, and then the bridegroom, the two, and then the one, Adam, and Eve, his consort, the moon, and then the sun; The life doth prove the precept, who obey shall happy be, Who will not serve the sovereign, be hanged on fatal tree. The high do seek the lowly, the great do seek the small, None cannot find who seeketh , on this terrestrial ball; The bee doth court the flower, the flower his suit receives, And they make merry wedding, whose guests are hundred leaves; The wind doth woo the branches, the branches they are won, And the father fond demandeth the maiden for his son. The storm doth walk the seashore humming a mournful tune, The wave with eye so pensive, looketh to see the moon, Their spirits meet together, they make them solemn vows, No more he singeth mournful, her sadness she doth lose. The worm doth woo the mortal, death claims a living bride, Night unto day is married, morn unto eventide, Earth is a merry damsel, and heaven a knight so true, And Earth is quite coquettish, and beseemeth in vain to sue. Now to the application, to the reading of the roll, To bringing thee to justice, and marshalling thy soul: Thou art a human solo, a being cold, and lone, Wilt have no kind companion, thou reap'st what thou hast sown Hast never silent hours, and minutes all too long, And a deal of sad reflection, and wailing instead of song? There's Sarah, and Eliza, and Emelineso fair, And Harriet, and Susan, and she with curling hair ！ Thine eyes are sadly blinded, but yet thou mayest see Six true, and comely maidens sitting upon the tree; Approach that tree with caution, then up it boldly climb, And seize the one thou lovest, nor care for space, or time ！ Then bear her to the greenwood, and build for her a bower, And give her what she asketh, jewel, or bird, or flower- And bring the fife, and trumpet, and beat upon the drum- And bid the world Goodmorrow, and go to glory home! 1850-1894
On this wondrous sea Sailing silently, Ho! Pilot, ho! Knowest thou the shore Where no breakers roar - Where the storm is o'er? In the peaceful west Many the sails at rest - The anchors fast - Thither I pilot thee - Land Ho! Eternity! Ashore at last! 1853-1896
Summer for thee, grant I may be When Summer days are flown! Thy music still, when Whippoorwill And Oriole - are done! For thee to bloom, I'll skip the tomb And row my blossoms o'er! Pray gather me -Anemone - Thy flower - forevermore! 1858-1896
If recollecting were forgetting, Then I remember not. And if forgetting, recollecting, How near I had forgot. And if to miss, were merry, And to mourn, were gay, How very blithe the fingers That gathered this, Today! 1858-1896
Nobody knows this little Rose - It might a pilgrim be Did I not take it from the ways And lift it up to thee. Only a Bee will miss it - Only a Butterfly, Hastening from far journey - On its breast to lie - Only a Bird will wonder - Only a Breeze will sigh - Ah Little Rose - how easy For such as thee to die! 1858-1891
I had a guinea golden - I lost it in the sand - And tho' the sum was simple And pounds were in the land - Still, had it such a value Unto my frugal eye - That when I could not find it - I sat me down to sigh. I had a crimson Robin - Who sang full many a day But when the woods were painted, He, too, did fly away - Time brought me other Robins - Their ballads were the same - Still, for my missing Troubadour I kept the "house at hame." I had a star in heaven - One "Pleiad" was its name - And when I was not heeding, It wandered from the same. And tho' the skies are crowded - And all the night ashine - I do not care about it - Since none of them are mine. My story has a moral - I have a missing friend - "Pleiad" its name, and Robin, And guinea in the sand. And when this mournful ditty Accompanied with tear - Shall meet the eye of traitor In country far from here - Grant that repentance solemn May seize upon his mind - And he no consolation Beneath the sun may find. 1858-1896
The morns are meeker than they were - The nuts are getting brown - The berry's cheek is plumper - The Rose is out of town. The Maple wears a gayer scarf - The field a scarlet gown - Lest I should be old fashioned I'll put a trinket on. 1858-1890
Through lane it lay - through bramble - Through clearing and through wood - Banditti often passed us Upon the lonely road. The wolf came peering curious - The owl looked puzzled down - The serpent's satin figure Glid stealthily along - The tempests touched our garments - The lightning's poinards gleamed - Fierce from the Crag above us The hungry Vulture screamed - The satyr's fingers beckoned - The valley murmured "Come" - These were the mates - This was the road These children fluttered home. 1858-1924
If I should cease to bring a Rose Upon a festal day, 'Twill be because beyond the Rose I have been called away - If I should cease to take the names My buds commemorate - 'Twill be because Death's finger Claps my murmuring lip! 1858-1945
Heart! We will forget him! You and I -tonight! You may forget the warmth he gave - I will forget the light! When you have done, pray tell me That I may straight begin! Haste! lest while you're lagging I remember him! 1858-1896
我和你 —— 今夜！
Glowing is her Bonnet, Glowing is her Cheek, Glowing is her Kirtle, Yet she cannot speak. Better as the Daisy From the Summer hill Vanish unrecorded Save by tearful rill - Save by loving sunrise Looking for her face. Save by feet unnumbered Pausing at the place. 1859-1914
The Bee is not afraid of me. I know the Butterfly. The pretty people in the Woods Receive me cordially - The Brooks laugh louder when I come - The Breezes madder play; Wherefore mine eye thy silver mists, Wherefore, Oh Summer's Day? 1859-1890
Going to Heaven! I don't know when - Pray do not ask me how! Indeed I'm too astonished To think of answering you! Going to Heaven! How dim it sounds! And yet it will be done As sure as flocks go home at night Unto the Shepherd's arm! Perhaps you're going too! Who knows? If you should get there first Save just a little place for me Close to the two I lost - The smallest "Robe" will fit me And just a bit of "Crown" - For you know we do not mind our dress When we are going home - I'm glad I don't believe it For it would stop my breath - And I'd like to look a little more At such a curious Earth! I'm glad they did believe it Whom I have never found Since the mighty Autumn afternoon I left them in the ground. 1859-1891
A science - so the Savants say, "Comparative Anatomy" - By which a single bone - Is made a secret to unfold Of some rare tenant of the mold, Else perished in the stone - So to the eye prospective led, This meekest flower of the mead Upon a winter's day, Stands representative in gold Of Rose and Lily, manifold, And countless Butterfly! 1859-1929
A fuzzy fellow, without feet, Yet doth exceeding run! Of velvet, is his Countenance, And his Complexion, dun! Sometime, he dwelleth in the grass! Sometime, upon a bough, From which he doth descend in plush Upon the Passer-by! All this in summer. But when winds alarm the Forest Folk, He taketh Damask Residence - And struts in sewing silk! Then, finer than a Lady, Emerges in the spring! A Feather on each shoulder! You'd scarce recognize him! By Men, yclept Caterpillar! By me! But who am I, To tell the pretty secret Of the Butterfly! 1860-1929
I'll tell you how the Sun rose - A Ribbon at a time - The Steeples swam in Amethyst - The news, like Squirrels, ran - The Hills untied their Bonnets - The Bobolinks - begun - Then I said softly to myself - "That must have been the Sun"! But how he set - I know not - There seemed a purple stile That little Yellow boys and girls Were climbing all the while - Till when they reached the other side, A Dominie in Gray - Put gently up the evening Bars - And led the flock away - 1860-1890
Poor little Heart! Did they forget thee? Then dinna care! Then dinna care! Proud little Heart! Did they forsake thee? Be debonnaire! Be debonnaire! Frail little Heart! I would not break thee - Could'st credit me ? Could'st credit me? Gay little Heart - Like Morning Glory! Wind and Sun - wilt thee array! 1860-1896
It can't be "Summer"! That - got through! It's early - yet - for "Spring"! There's that long town of White - to cross - Before the Blackbirds sing! It can't be "Dying"! It's too Rouge - The Dead shall go in White - So Sunset shuts my question down With Cuffs of Chrysolite! 1861-1891
To die - takes just a little while - They say it doesn't hurt - It's only fainter - by degrees - And then - it's out of sight - A darker Ribbon - for a Day - A Crape upon the Hat - And then the pretty sunshine comes - And helps us to forget - The absent - mystic - creature - That but for love of us - Had gone to sleep - that soundest time - Without the weariness - 1861-1935
There's a certain Slant of light, Winter Afternoons - That oppresses, like the Heft Of Cathedral Tunes - Heavenly Hurt, it gives us - We can find no scar, But internal difference, Where the Meanings, are - None may teach it - Any - 'Tis the Seal Despair - An imperial affliction Sent us of the Air - When it comes, the Landscape listens - Shadows - hold their breath - When it goes, 'tis like the Distance On the look of Death - 1861-1890
'Twas just this time, last year, I died. I know I heard the Corn, When I was carried by the Farms - It had the Tassels on - I thought how yellow it would look - When Richard went to mill - And then, I wanted to get out, But something held my will. I thought just how Red - Apples wedged The Stubble's joints between - And the Carts went stooping round the fields To take the Pumpkins in - I wondered which would miss me, least, And when Thanksgiving, came, If Father'd multiply the plates - To make an even Sum - And would it blur the Christmas glee My Stocking hang too high For any Santa Claus to reach The Altitude of me - But this sort, grieved myself, And so, I thought the other way, How just this time, some perfect year - Themself, should come to me - 1862-1896
A Bird came down the Walk - He did not know I saw - He bit an Angleworm in halves And ate the fellow, raw, And then he drank a Dew From a convenient Grass - And then hopped sidewise to the Wall To let a Beetle pass - He glanced with rapid eyes That hurried all around - They looked like frightened Beads, I thought - He stirred his Velvet Head Like one in danger, Cautious, I offered him a Crumb And he unrolled his feathers And rowed him softer home - Than Oars divide the Ocean, Too silver for a seam - Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon Leap, plashless as they swim. 1862-1891
I cannot dance upon my Toes - No Man instructed me - But oftentimes, among my mind, A Glee possesseth me, That had I Ballet knowledge - Would put itself abroad In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe - Or lay a Prima, mad, And though I had no Gown of Gauze - No Ringlet, to my Hair, Nor hopped to Audiences - like Birds, One Claw upon the Air, Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls, Nor rolled on wheels of snow Till I was out of sight, in sound, The House encore me so - Nor any know I know the Art I mention - easy - Here - Nor any Placard boast me - It's full as Opera - 1862-1929
Do People moulder equally, They bury, in the Grave? I do believe a Species As positively live As I, who testify it Deny that I - am dead - And fill my Lungs, for Witness - From Tanks - above my Head - I say to you, said Jesus - That there be standing here - A Sort, that shall not taste of Death - If Jesus was sincere - I need no further Argue - The statement of the Lord Is not a controvertible - He told me, Death was dead - 1826-1945
I took one Draught of Life - I'll tell you what I paid - Precisely an existence - The market price, they said. They weighed me, Dust by Dust - They balanced Film with Film, Then handed me my Being's worth - A single Dram of Heaven! 1862-1929
I found the words to every thought I ever had - but One - And that - defies me - As a Hand did try to chalk the Sun To Races - nurtured in the Dark - How would your own - begin? Can Blaze be shown in Cochineal - Or Noon - in Mazarin? 1862-1891
I died for Beauty - but was scarce Adjusted in the Tomb When One who died for Truth, was lain In an adjoining Room - He questioned softly "Why I failed"? "For Beauty", I replied - "And I - for Truth - Themself are One - We Bretheren, are", He said - And so, as Kinsmen, met a Night - We talked between the Rooms - Until the Moss had reached our lips - And covered up - our names - 1862-1890
Dreams - are well - but Waking's better, If One wake at Morn - If One wake at Midnight - better - Dreaming - of the Dawn - Sweeter - the Surmising Robins - Never gladdened Tree - Than a Solid Dawn - confronting - Leading to no Day - 1862-1935
It feels a shame to be Alive - When Men so brave - are dead - One envies the Distinguished Dust - Permitted - such a Head - The Stone - that tells defending Whom This Spartan put away What little of Him we - possessed In Pawn for Liberty - The price is great - Sublimely paid - Do we deserve - a Thing - That lives - like Dollars - must be piled Before we may obtain? Are we that wait - sufficient worth - That such Enormous Pearl As life - dissolved be - for Us - In Battle's - horrid Bowl? It may be - a Renown to live - I think the Men who die - Those unsustained - Saviors - Present Divinity - 1862-1929
I went to Heaven - 'Twas a small Town - Lit - with a Ruby - Lathed - with Down - Stiller - than the fields At the full Dew - Beautiful - as Pictures - No Man drew. People - like the Moth - Of Mechlin - frames - Duties - of Gossamer - And Eider - names - Almost - contented - I - could be - 'Mong such unique Society - 1862-1891
Ourselves were wed one summer - dear - Your Vision - was in June - And when Your little Lifetime failed, I wearied - too - of mine - And overtaken in the Dark - Where You had put me down - By Some one carrying a Light - I - too - received the Sign. 'Tis true - Our Futures different lay - Your Cottage - faced the sun - While Oceans - and the North must be - On every side of mine 'Tis true, Your Garden led the Bloom, For mine - in Frosts - was sown - And yet, one Summer, we were Queens - But You - were crowned in June - 1862-1945
The Day that I was crowned Was like the other Days - Until the Coronation came - And then - 'twas Otherwise - As Carbon in the Coal And Carbon in the Gem Are One - and yet the former Were dull for Diadem - I rose, and all was plain - But when the Day declined Myself and It, in Majesty Were equally - adorned - The Grace that I - was chose - To Me - surpassed the Crown That was the Witness for the Grace - 'Twas even that 'twas Mine - 1862-1935
A Secret told - Ceases to be a Secret - then - A Secret - kept - That - can appal but One - Better of it - continual be afraid - Than it - And Whom you told it to - beside - 1862-1929
That I did always love I bring thee Proof That till I loved I never lived - Enough - That I shall love alway - I argue thee That love is life - And life hath Immortality - This - dost thou doubt - Sweet - Then have I Nothing to show But Calvary - 1862-1890
I The moving sun-shapes on the spray, The sparkles where the brook was flowing, Pink faces, plightings, moonlit May, These were the things we wished would stay; But they were going. II Seasons of blankness as of snow, The silent bleed of a world decaying, The moan of multitudes in woe, These were the things we wished would go; But they were staying. III Then we looked closelier at Time, And saw his ghostly arms revolving To sweep off woeful things with prime, Things sinister with things sublime Alike dissolving.
The two executioners stalk along over the knolls, Bearing two axes with heavy heads shining and wide, And a long limp two-handled saw toothed for cutting great boles, And so they approach the proud tree that bears the death-mark on its side. Jackets doffed they swing axes and chop away just above ground, And the chips fly about and lie white on the moss and fallen leaves; Till a broad deep gash in the bark is hewn all the way round, And one of them tries to hook upward a rope, which at last he achieves. The saw then begins, till the top of the tall giant shivers: The shivers are seen to grow greater each cut than before: They edge out the saw, tug the rope; but the tree only quivers, And kneeling and sawing again, they step back to try pulling once more. Then, lastly, the living mast sways, further sways: with a shout Job and Ike rush aside. Reached the end of its long staying powers The tree crashes downward: it shakes all its neighbours throughout, And two hundred years steady growth has been ended in less than two hours.
Tread lightly, she is near Under the snow, Speak gently, she can hear The daisies grow. All her bright golden hair Tarnished with rust, She that was young and fair Fallen to dust. Lily-like, white as snow, She hardly knew She was a woman, so Sweetly she grew. Coffin-board, heavy stone, Lie on her breast, I vex my heart alone She is at rest. Peace, Peace, she cannot hear Lyre or sonnet, All my life's buried here, Heap earth upon it. Avignon
My limbs are wasted with a flame, My feet are sore with travelling, For calling on my Lady's name My lips have now forgot to sing. O Linnet in the wild-rose brake Strain for my Love thy melody, O Lark sing louder for love's sake, My gentle Lady passeth by. She is too fair for any man To see or hold his heart's delight, Fairer than Queen or courtezan Or moon-lit water in the night. Her hair is bound with myrtle leaves, (Green leaves upon her golden hair!) Green grasses through the yellow sheaves Of autumn corn are not more fair. Her little lips, more made to kiss Than to cry bitterly for pain, Are tremulous as brook-water is, Or roses after evening rain. Her neck is like white melilote Flushing for pleasure of the sun, The throbbing of the linnet's throat Is not so sweet to look upon. As a pomegranate, cut in twain, White-seeded, is her crimson mouth, Her cheeks are as the fading stain Where the peach reddens to the south. O twining hands! O delicate White body made for love and pain! O House of love! O desolate Pale flower beaten by the rain!
Rid of the world's injustice, and his pain, He rests at last beneath God's veil of blue: Taken from life when life and love were new The youngest of the martyrs here is lain, Fair as Sebastian, and as early slain. No cypress shades his grave, no funeral yew, But gentle violets weeping with the dew Weave on his bones an ever-blossoming chain. O proudest heart that broke for misery! O sweetest lips since those of Mitylene! O poet-painter of our English Land! Thy name was writ in water—it shall stand: And tears like mine shall keep thy memory green, As Isabella did her Basil-tree. Room
The silver trumpets rang across the Dome: The people knelt upon the ground with awe: And borne upon the necks of men I saw, Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome. Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than foam, And, king-like, swathed himself in royal red, Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head: In splendour and in light the Pope passed home. My heart stole back across wide wastes of years To One who wandered by a lonely sea, And sought in vain for any place of rest: 'Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest, I, only I, must wander wearily, And bruise my feet, and drink wine salt with tears.'
I stood by the unvintageable sea Till the wet waves drenched face and hair with spray; The long red fires of the dying day Burned in the west; the wind piped drearily; And to the land the clamorous gulls did flee: 'Alas!' I cried, 'my life is full of pain, And who can garner fruit or golden grain, From these waste fields which travail ceaselessly!' My nets gaped wide with many a break and flaw, Nathless I threw them as my final cast Into the sea, and waited for the end. When lo! a sudden glory! and I saw From the black waters of my tortured past The argent splendour of white limbs ascend!
Milton! I think thy spirit hath passed away From these white cliffs, and high-embattled towers; This gorgeous fiery-coloured world of ours Seems fallen into ashes dull and grey, And the age changed unto a mimic play Wherein we waste our else too-crowded hours: For all our pomp and pageantry and powers We are but fit to delve the common clay, Seeing this little isle on which we stand, This England, this sea-lion of the sea, By ignorant demagogues is held in fee, Who love her not: Dear God! is this the land Which bare a triple empire in her hand When Cromwell spake the word Democracy!
The little white clouds are racing over the sky, And the fields are strewn with the gold of the flower of March, The daffodil breaks under foot, and the tasselled larch Sways and swings as the thrush goes hurrying by. A delicate odour is borne on the wings of the morning breeze, The odour of deep wet grass, and of brown new-furrowed earth, The birds are singing for joy of the Spring's glad birth, Hopping from branch to branch on the rocking trees. And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring, And the rosebud breaks into pink on the climbing briar, And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring. And the plane to the pine-tree is whispering some tale of love Till it rustles with laughter and tosses its mantle of green, And the gloom of the wych-elm's hollow is lit with the iris sheen Of the burnished rainbow throat and the silver breast of a dove. See! the lark starts up from his bed in the meadow there, Breaking the gossamer threads and the nets of dew, And flashing a-down the river, a flame of blue! The kingfisher flies like an arrow, and wounds the air.
O Singer of Persephone! In the dim meadows desolate Dost thou remember Sicily? Still through the ivy flits the bee Where Amaryllis lies in state; O Singer of Persephone! Simætha calls on Hecate And hears the wild dogs at the gate; Dost thou remember Sicily? Still by the light and laughing sea Poor Polypheme bemoans his fate: O Singer of Persephone! And still in boyish rivalry Young Daphnis challenges his mate: Dost thou remember Sicily? Slim Lacon keeps a goat for thee, For thee the jocund shepherds wait, O Singer of Persephone! Dost thou remember Sicily?
The apple trees are hung with gold, And birds are loud in Arcady, The sheep lie bleating in the fold, The wild goat runs across the wold, But yesterday his love he told, I know he will come back to me. O rising moon! O Lady moon! Be you my lover's sentinel, You cannot choose but know him well, For he is shod with purple shoon, You cannot choose but know my love, For he a shepherd's crook doth bear, And he is soft as any dove, And brown and curly is his hair. The turtle now has ceased to call Upon her crimson-footed groom, The grey wolf prowls about the stall, The lily's singing seneschal Sleeps in the lily-bell, and all The violet hills are lost in gloom. O risen moon! O holy moon! Stand on the top of Helice, And if my own true love you see, Ah! if you see the purple shoon, The hazel crook, the lad's brown hair, The goat-skin wrapped about his arm, Tell him that I am waiting where The rushlight glimmers in the Farm. The falling dew is cold and chill, And no bird sings in Arcady, The little fauns have left the hill, Even the tired daffodil Has closed its gilded doors, and still My lover comes not back to me. False moon! False moon! O waning moon! Where is my own true lover gone, Where are the lips vermilion, The shepherd's crook, the purple shoon? Why spread that silver pavilion, Why wear that veil of drifting mist? Ah! thou hast young Endymion, Thou hast the lips that should be kissed!
In the lone tent, waiting for victory, She stands with eyes marred by the mists of pain, Like some wan lily overdrenched with rain: The clamorous clang of arms, the ensanguined sky, War's ruin, and the wreck of chivalry, To her proud soul no common fear can bring: Bravely she tarrieth for her Lord the King, Her soul a-flame with passionate ecstasy. O Hair of Gold! O Crimson Lips! O Face Made for the luring and the love of man! With thee I do forget the toil and stress, The loveless road that knows no resting place, Time's straitened pulse, the soul's dread weariness, My freedom and my life republican!
Roses and Rue Ⅰ I remember we used to meet By a garden seat, And you warbled each pretty word With the air of a bird, And your voice had a quaver in it Just like a linnet, And shook with the last full note As the thrush's throat. And your eyes, they were green and grey, Like an April day, But lit into amethyst When I stooped and kissed. And your hair—well, I never could tie it, For it ran all riot Like a tangled sunbeam of gold, Great fold upon fold. Ⅱ You were always afraid of a shower, (Just like a flower!); I remember you started and ran When the rain began. I remember I never could catch you, For no one could match you; You had wonderful luminous fleet Little wings to your feet. Yet you somehow would give me the prize, With a laugh in your eyes, The rose from your breast, or the bliss Of a single swift kiss On your neck with its marble hue, And its vein of blue— How these passionate memories bite In my heart as I write! Ⅲ I remember so well the room, And the lilac bloom That beat at the dripping pane In the warm June rain. And the colour of your gown, It was amber-brown, And two yellow satin bows From the shoulders rose. And the handkerchief of French lace Which you held to your face— Had a tear-drop left a stain? Or was it the rain? 'You have only wasted your life.'— (Ah! there was the knife!) Those were the words you said, As you turned your head. I had wasted my boyhood, true, But it was for you, You had poets enough on the shelf, I gave you myself! Ⅳ Well, if my heart must break, Dear Love, for your sake, It will break in music, I know; Poets' hearts break so. But strange that I was not told That the brain can hold In a tiny ivory cell God's Heaven and Hell.
Her ivory hands on the ivory keys Strayed in a fitful fantasy, Like the silver gleam when the poplar trees Rustle their pale-leaves listlessly, Or the drifting foam of a restless sea When the waves show their teeth in the flying breeze. Her gold hair fell on the wall of gold Like the delicate gossamer tangles spun On the burnished disk of the marigold, Or the sun-flower turning to meet the sun When the gloom of the dark blue night is done, And the spear of the lily is aureoled. And her sweet red lips on these lips of mine Burned like the ruby fire set In the swinging lamp of a crimson shrine, Or the bleeding wounds of the pomegranate, Or the heart of the lotus drenched and wet With the spilt-out blood of the rose-red wine.
O beautiful star with the crimson mouth! O moon with the brows of gold! Rise up, rise up, from the odorous south! And light for my love her way, Lest her little feet should stray On the windy hill and the wold! O beautiful star with the crimson mouth! O moon with the brows of gold! O ship that shakes on the desolate sea! O ship with the wet, white sail! Put in, put in, to the port to me! For my love and I would go To the land where the daffodils blow In the heart of a violet dale! O ship that shakes on the desolate sea! O ship with the wet, white sail! O rapturous bird with the low, sweet note! O bird that sits on the spray! Sing on, sing on, from your soft brown throat! And my love in her little bed Will listen, and lift her head From the pillow, and come my way! O rapturous bird with the low, sweet note! O bird that sits on the spray! O blossom that hangs in the tremulous air! O blossom with lips of snow! Come down, come down, for my love to wear! You will die on her head in a crown, You will die in a fold of her gown, To her little light heart you will go! O blossom that hangs in the tremulous air! O blossom with lips of snow!
阿尔佛莱德·爱德华·豪斯曼（Alfred Edward Housman），英国现代最伟大的古典学者之一和杰出的诗人，于一八五九年出生于英国渥斯特郡。父亲爱德华·豪斯曼在伍彻斯特从事律师业务。外祖父威廉斯是当地的教区长，研究古典文学，也喜欢写诗。母亲沙拉·简也有诗才。豪斯曼对古希腊、拉丁文和对诗歌的爱好，好像都来自母系。
From Clee to heaven the beacon burns, The shires have seen it plain, From north and south the sign returns And beacons burn again. Look left, look right, the hills are bright, The dales are light between, Because 'tis fifty years to-night That God has saved the Queen. Now, when the flame they watch not towers About the soil they trod, Lads, we'll remember friends of ours Who shared the work with God. To skies that knit their heartstrings right, To fields that bred them brave, The saviours come not home to-night: Themselves they could not save. It dawns in Asia, tombstones show And Shropshire names are read; And the Nile spills his overflow Beside the Severn's dead. We pledge in peace by farm and town The Queen they served in war, And fire the beacons up and down The land they perished for. 'God save the Queen' we living sing, From height to height 'tis heard; And with the rest your voices ring, Lads of the Fifty-third. Oh, God will save her, fear you not: Be you the men you've been, Get you the sons your fathers got, And God will save the Queen.
II Loveliest of trees, the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough, And stands about the woodland ride Wearing white for Eastertide. Now, of my threescore years and ten, Twenty will not come again, And take from seventy springs a score, It only leaves me fifty more. And since to look at things in bloom Fifty springs are little room, About the woodlands I will go To see the cherry hung with snow.
III THE RECRUIT Leave your home behind, lad, And reach your friends your hand, And go, and luck go with you While Ludlow tower shall stand. Oh, come you home of Sunday When Ludlow streets are still And Ludlow bells are calling To farm and lane and mill, Or come you home of Monday When Ludlow market hums And Ludlow chimes are playing 'The conquering hero comes', Come you home a hero, Or come not home at all, The lads you leave will mind you Till Ludlow tower shall fall. And you will list the bugle That blows in lands of morn, And make the foes of England Be sorry you were born. And you till trump of doomsday On lands of morn may lie, And make the hearts of comrades Be heavy where you die. Leave your home behind you, Your friends by field and town: Oh, town and field will mind you Till Ludlow tower is down.
IV REVEILLE Wake: the silver dusk returning Up the beach of darkness brims, And the ship of sunrise burning Strands upon the eastern rims. Wake: the vaulted shadow shatters, Trampled to the floor it spanned, And the tent of night in tatters Straws the sky-pavilioned land. Up, lad, up, 'tis late for lying: Hear the drums of morning play; Hark, the empty highways crying 'Who'll beyond the hills away?' Towns and countries woo together, Forelands beacon, belfries call; Never lad that trod on leather Lived to feast his heart with all. Up, lad: thews that lie and cumber Sunlit pallets never thrive; Morns abed and daylight slumber Were not meant for man alive. Clay lies still, but blood's a rover; Breath's a ware that will not keep. Up, lad: when the journey's over There'll be time enough to sleep.
V Oh see how thick the goldcup flowers Are lying in field and lane, With dandelions to tell the hours That never are told again. Oh may I squire you round the meads And pick you posies gay? —'Twill do no harm to take my arm. 'You may, young man, you may.' Ah, spring was sent for lass and lad, 'Tis now the blood runs gold, And man and maid had best be glad Before the world is old. What flowers to-day may flower to-morrow, But never as good as new. —Suppose I wound my arm right round— ''Tis true, young man, 'tis true.' Some lads there are, 'tis shame to say, That only court to thieve, And once they bear the bloom away 'Tis little enough they leave. Then keep your heart for men like me And safe from trustless chaps. My love is true and all for you. 'Perhaps, young man, perhaps.' Oh, look in my eyes then, can you doubt? —Why, 'tis a mile from town. How green the grass is all about! We might as well sit down. —Ah, life, what is it but a flower? Why must true lovers sigh? Be kind, have pity, my own, my pretty,— 'Good-bye, young man, good-bye.'
VI When the lad for longing sighs, Mute and dull of cheer and pale, If at death's own door he lies, Maiden, you can heal his ail. Lovers' ills are all to buy: The wan look, the hollow tone, The hung head, the sunken eye, You can have them for your own. Buy them, buy them: eve and morn Lovers' ills are all to sell. Then you can lie down forlorn; But the lover will be well.
VII When smoke stood up from Ludlow, And mist blew off from Teme, And blithe afield to ploughing Against the morning beam I strode beside my team, The blackbird in the coppice Looked out to see me stride, And hearkened as I whistled The trampling team beside, And fluted and replied: 'Lie down, lie down, young yeoman; What use to rise and rise? Rise man a thousand mornings Yet down at last he lies, And then the man is wise.' I heard the tune he sang me, And spied his yellow bill; I picked a stone and aimed it And threw it with a will: Then the bird was still. Then my soul within me Took up the blackbird's strain, And still beside the horses Along the dewy lane It sang the song again: 'Lie down, lie down, young yeoman; The sun moves always west; The road one treads to labour Will lead one home to rest, And that will be the best.'
VIII 'Farewell to barn and stack and tree, Farewell to Severn shore. Terence, look your last at me, For I come home no more. 'The sun burns on the half-mown hill, By now the blood is dried; And Maurice amongst the hay lies still And my knife is in his side. 'My mother thinks us long away; 'Tis time the field were mown. She had two sons at rising day, To-night she'll be alone. 'And here's a bloody hand to shake, And oh, man, here's good-bye; We'll sweat no more on scythe and rake, My bloody hands and I. 'I wish you strength to bring you pride, And a love to keep you clean, And I wish you luck, come Lammastide, At racing on the green. 'Long for me the rick will wait, And long will wait the fold, And long will stand the empty plate, And dinner will be cold.'
IX On moonlit heath and lonesome bank The sheep beside me graze; And yon the gallows used to clank Fast by the four cross ways. A careless shepherd once would keep The flocks by moonlight there, And high amongst the glimmering sheep The dead man stood on air. They hang us now in Shrewsbury jail: The whistles blow forlorn, And trains all night groan on the rail To men that die at morn. There sleeps in Shrewsbury jail to-night, Or wakes, as may betide, A better lad, if things went right, Than most that sleep outside. And naked to the hangman's noose The morning clocks will ring A neck God made for other use Than strangling in a string. And sharp the link of life will snap, And dead on air will stand Heels that held up as straight a chap As treads upon the land. So here I'll watch the night and wait To see the morning shine, When he will hear the stroke of eight And not the stroke of nine; And wish my friend as sound a sleep As lads' I did not know, That shepherded the moonlit sheep A hundred years ago.
X MARCH The Sun at noon to higher air, Unharnessing the silver Pair That late before his chariot swam, Rides on the gold wool of the Ram. So braver notes the storm-cock sings To start the rusted wheel of things, And brutes in field and brutes in pen Leap that the world goes round again. The boys are up the woods with day To fetch the daffodils away, And home at noonday from the hills They bring no dearth of daffodils. Afield for palms the girls repair, And sure enough the palms are there, And each will find by hedge or pond Her waving silver-tufted wand. In farm and field through all the shire The eye beholds the heart's desire; Ah, let not only mine be vain, For lovers should be loved again.
XI On your midnight pallet lying, Listen, and undo the door: Lads that waste the light in sighing In the dark should sigh no more; Night should ease a lover's sorrow; Therefore, since I go to-morrow, Pity me before. In the land to which I travel, The far dwelling, let me say— Once, if here the couch is gravel, In a kinder bed I lay, And the breast the darnel smothers Rested once upon another's When it was not clay.
XII When I watch the living meet, And the moving pageant file Warm and breathing through the street Where I lodge a little while, If the heats of hate and lust In the house of flesh are strong, Let me mind the house of dust Where my sojourn shall be long. In the nation that is not Nothing stands that stood before; There revenges are forgot, And the hater hates no more; Lovers lying two and two Ask not whom they sleep beside, And the bridegroom all night through Never turns him to the bride.
XIII When I was one-and-twenty I heard a wise man say, 'Give crowns and pounds and guineas But not your heart away; Give pearls away and rubies But keep your fancy free.' But I was one-and-twenty, No use to talk to me. When I was one-and-twenty I heard him say again, 'The heart out of the bosom Was never given in vain; 'Tis paid with sighs a plenty And sold for endless rue.' And I am two-and-twenty, And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.
XIV There pass the careless people That call their souls their own: Here by the road I loiter, How idle and alone. Ah, past the plunge of plummet, In seas I cannot sound, My heart and soul and senses, World without end, are drowned. His folly has not fellow Beneath the blue of day That gives to man or woman His heart and soul away. There flowers no balm to sain him From east of earth to west That's lost for everlasting The heart out of his breast. Here by the labouring highway With empty hands I stroll: Sea-deep, till doomsday morning, Lie lost my heart and soul.
XV Look not in my eyes, for fear They mirror true the sight I see, And there you find your face too clear And love it and be lost like me. One the long nights through must lie Spent in star-defeated sighs, But why should you as well as I Perish? gaze not in my eyes. A Grecian lad, as I hear tell, One that many loved in vain, Looked into a forest well And never looked away again. There, when the turf in springtime flowers, With downward eye and gazes sad, Stands amid the glancing showers A jonquil, not a Grecian lad.
XVI It nods and curtseys and recovers When the wind blows above, The nettle on the graves of lovers That hanged themselves for love. The nettle nods, the wind blows over, The man, he does not move, The lover of the grave, the lover That hanged himself for love.
XVII Twice a week the winter thorough Here stood I to keep the goal: Football then was fighting sorrow For the young man's soul. Now in Maytime to the wicket Out I march with bat and pad: See the son of grief at cricket Trying to be glad. Try I will; no harm in trying: Wonder 'tis how little mirth Keeps the bones of man from lying On the bed of earth.
XVIII Oh, when I was in love with you, Then I was clean and brave, And miles around the wonder grew How well did I behave. And now the fancy passes by, And nothing will remain, And miles around they'll say that I Am quite myself again.
XIX TO AN ATHLETE DYING YOUNG The time you won your town the race We chaired you through the market-place; Man and boy stood cheering by, And home we brought you shoulder-high. To-day, the road all runners come, Shoulder-high we bring you home, And set you at your threshold down, Townsman of a stiller town. Smart lad, to slip betimes away From fields where glory does not stay And early though the laurel grows It withers quicker than the rose. Eyes the shady night has shut Cannot see the record cut, And silence sounds no worse than cheers After earth has stopped the ears: Now you will not swell the rout Of lads that wore their honours out, Runners whom renown outran And the name died before the man. So set, before its echoes fade, The fleet foot on the sill of shade, And hold to the low lintel up The still-defended challenge-cup. And round that early-laurelled head Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, And find unwithered on its curls The garland briefer than a girl's.
XX Oh fair enough are sky and plain, But I know fairer far: Those are as beautiful again That in the water are; The pools and rivers wash so clean The trees and clouds and air, The like on earth was never seen, And oh that I were there. These are the thoughts I often think As I stand gazing down In act upon the cressy brink To strip and dive and drown; But in the golden-sanded brooks And azure meres I spy A silly lad that longs and looks And wishes he were I.
XXI BREDON HILL In summertime on Bredon The bells they sound so clear; Round both the shires they ring them In steeples far and near, A happy noise to hear. Here of a Sunday morning My love and I would lie, And see the coloured counties, And hear the larks so high About us in the sky. The bells would ring to call her In valleys miles away: 'Come all to church, good people; Good people, come and pray.' But here my love would stay. And I would turn and answer Among the springing thyme, 'Oh, peal upon our wedding, And we will hear the chime, And come to church in time.' But when the snows at Christmas On Bredon top were strown, My love rose up so early And stole out unbeknown And went to church alone. They tolled the one bell only, Groom there was none to see, The mourners followed after, And so to church went she, And would not wait for me. The bells they sound on Bredon, And still the steeples hum. 'Come all to church, good people,'— Oh, noisy bells, be dumb; I hear you, I will come.
XXII The street sounds to the soldiers' tread, And out we troop to see: A single redcoat turns his head, He turns and looks at me. My man, from sky to sky's so far, We never crossed before; Such leagues apart the world's ends are, We're like to meet no more; What thoughts at heart have you and I We cannot stop to tell; But dead or living, drunk or dry, Soldier, I wish you well.
XXIII The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair, There's men from the barn and the forge and the mill and the fold, The lads for the girls and the lads for the liquor are there, And there with the rest are the lads that will never be old. There's chaps from the town and the field and the till and the cart, And many to count are the stalwart, and many the brave, And many the handsome of face and the handsome of heart, And few that will carry their looks or their truth to the grave. I wish one could know them, I wish there were tokens to tell The fortunate fellows that now you can never discern; And then one could talk with them friendly and wish them farewell And watch them depart on the way that they will not return. But now you may stare as you like and there's nothing to scan; And brushing your elbow unguessed-at and not to be told They carry back bright to the coiner the mintage of man, The lads that will die in their glory and never be old.
XXIV Say, lad, have you things to do? Quick then, while your day's at prime. Quick, and if 'tis work for two, Here am I, man: now's your time. Send me now, and I shall go; Call me, I shall hear you call; Use me ere they lay me low Where a man's no use at all; Ere the wholesome flesh decay, And the willing nerve be numb, And the lips lack breath to say, 'No, my lad, I cannot come.'
XXV This time of year a twelvemonth past, When Fred and I would meet, We needs must jangle, till at last We fought and I was beat. So then the summer fields about, Till rainy days began, Rose Harland on her Sundays out Walked with the better man. The better man she walks with still, Though now 'tis not with Fred: A lad that lives and has his will Is worth a dozen dead. Fred keeps the house all kinds of weather, And clay's the house he keeps; When Rose and I walk out together Stock-still lies Fred and sleeps.
XXVI Along the field as we came by A year ago, my love and I, The aspen over stile and stone Was talking to itself alone. 'Oh who are these that kiss and pass? A country lover and his lass; Two lovers looking to be wed; And time shall put them both to bed, But she shall lie with earth above, And he beside another love.' And sure enough beneath the tree There walks another love with me, And overhead the aspen heaves Its rainy-sounding silver leaves; And I spell nothing in their stir, But now perhaps they speak to her, And plain for her to understand They talk about a time at hand When I shall sleep with clover clad, And she beside another lad.
XXVII 'Is my team ploughing, That I was used to drive And hear the harness jingle When I was man alive?' Ay, the horses trample, The harness jingles now; No change though you lie under The land you used to plough. 'Is football playing Along the river shore, With lads to chase the leather, Now I stand up no more?' Ay, the ball is flying, The lads play heart and soul; The goal stands up, the keeper Stands up to keep the goal. 'Is my girl happy, That I thought hard to leave, And has she tired of weeping As she lies down at eve?' Ay, she lies down lightly, She lies not down to weep: Your girl is well contented. Be still, my lad, and sleep. 'Is my friend hearty, Now I am thin and pine, And has he found to sleep in A better bed than mine?' Yes, lad, I lie easy, I lie as lads would choose; I cheer a dead man's sweetheart, Never ask me whose.
XXVIII THE WELSH MARCHES High the vanes of Shrewsbury gleam Islanded in Severn stream; The bridges from the steepled crest Cross the water east and west. The flag of morn in conqueror's state Enters at the English gate: The vanquished eve, as night prevails, Bleeds upon the road to Wales. Ages since the vanquished bled Round my mother's marriage-bed; There the ravens feasted far About the open house of war: When Severn down to Buildwas ran Coloured with the death of man, Couched upon her brother's grave The Saxon got me on the slave. The sound of fight is silent long That began the ancient wrong; Long the voice of tears is still That wept of old the endless ill. In my heart it has not died, The war that sleeps on Severn side; They cease not fighting, east and west, On the marches of my breast. Here the truceless armies yet Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; They kill and kill and never die; And I think that each is I. None will part us, none undo The knot that makes one flesh of two, Sick with hatred, sick with pain, Strangling—When shall we be slain? When shall I be dead and rid Of the wrong my father did? How long, how long, till spade and hearse Put to sleep my mother's curse?
XXIX THE LENT LILY 'Tis spring; come out to ramble The hilly brakes around, For under thorn and bramble About the hollow ground The primroses are found. And there's the windflower chilly With all the winds at play, And there's the Lenten lily That has not long to stay And dies on Easter day. And since till girls go maying You find the primrose still, And find the windflower playing With every wind at will, But not the daffodil, Bring baskets now, and sally Upon the spring's array, And bear from hill and valley The daffodil away That dies on Easter day.
XXX Others, I am not the first, Have willed more mischief than they durst: If in the breathless night I too Shiver now, 'tis nothing new. More than I, if truth were told, Have stood and sweated hot and cold, And through their reins in ice and fire Fear contended with desire. Agued once like me were they, But I like them shall win my way Lastly to the bed of mould Where there's neither heat nor cold. But from my grave across my brow Plays no wind of healing now, And fire and ice within me fight Beneath the suffocating night.
XXXI On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble; His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves; The gale, it plies the saplings double, And thick on Severn snow the leaves. 'Twould blow like this through holt and hanger When Uricon the city stood: 'Tis the old wind in the old anger, But then it threshed another wood. Then, 'twas before my time, the Roman At yonder heaving hill would stare: The blood that warms an English yeoman, The thoughts that hurt him, they were there. There, like the wind through woods in riot, Through him the gale of life blew high; The tree of man was never quiet: Then 'twas the Roman, now 'tis I. The gale, it plies the saplings double, It blows so hard, 'twill soon be gone: To-day the Roman and his trouble Are ashes under Uricon.
XXXII From far, from eve and morning And yon twelve-winded sky, The stuff of life to knit me Blew hither: here am I. Now—for a breath I tarry Nor yet disperse apart— Take my hand quick and tell me, What have you in your heart. Speak now, and I will answer; How shall I help you, say; Ere to the wind's twelve quarters I take my endless way.
XXXIII If truth in hearts that perish Could move the powers on high, I think the love I bear you Should make you not to die. Sure, sure, if stedfast meaning, If single thought could save, The world might end to-morrow, You should not see the grave. This long and sure-set liking, This boundless will to please, —Oh, you should live for ever If there were help in these. But now, since all is idle, To this lost heart be kind, Ere to a town you journey Where friends are ill to find.
XXXIV THE NEW MISTRESS 'Oh, sick I am to see you, will you never let me be? You may be good for something but you are not good for me. Oh, go where you are wanted, for you are not wanted here.' And that was all the farewell when I parted from my dear. 'I will go where I am wanted, to a lady born and bred Who will dress me free for nothing in a uniform of red; She will not be sick to see me if I only keep it clean: I will go where I am wanted for a soldier of the Queen. 'I will go where I am wanted, for the sergeant does not mind; He may be sick to see me but he treats me very kind: He gives me beer and breakfast and a ribbon for my cap, And I never knew a sweetheart spend her money on a chap. 'I will go where I am wanted, where there's room for one or two, And the men are none too many for the work there is to do; Where the standing line wears thinner and the dropping dead lie thick; And the enemies of England they shall see me and be sick.'
XXXV On the idle hill of summer, Sleepy with the flow of streams, Far I hear the steady drummer Drumming like a noise in dreams. Far and near and low and louder On the roads of earth go by, Dear to friends and food for powder, Soldiers marching, all to die. East and west on fields forgotten Bleach the bones of comrades slain, Lovely lads and dead and rotten; None that go return again. Far the calling bugles hollo, High the screaming fife replies, Gay the files of scarlet follow: Woman bore me, I will rise.
XXXVI White in the moon the long road lies, The moon stands blank above; White in the moon the long road lies That leads me from my love. Still hangs the hedge without a gust, Still, still the shadows stay: My feet upon the moonlit dust Pursue the ceaseless way. The world is round, so travellers tell, And straight though reach the track, Trudge on, trudge on, 'twill all be well, The way will guide one back. But ere the circle homeward hies Far, far must it remove: White in the moon the long road lies That leads me from my love.
XXXVII As through the wild green hills of Wyre The train ran, changing sky and shire, And far behind, a fading crest, Low in the forsaken west Sank the high-reared head of Clee, My hand lay empty on my knee. Aching on my knee it lay: That morning half a shire away So many an honest fellow's fist Had well-nigh wrung it from the wrist. Hand, said I, since now we part From fields and men we know by heart, For strangers' faces, strangers' lands,— Hand, you have held true fellows' hands. Be clean then; rot before you do A thing they'd not believe of you. You and I must keep from shame In London streets the Shropshire name; On banks of Thames they must not say Severn breeds worse men than they; And friends abroad must bear in mind Friends at home they leave behind. Oh, I shall be stiff and cold When I forget you, hearts of gold; The land where I shall mind you not Is the land where all's forgot. And if my foot returns no more To Teme nor Corve nor Severn shore, Luck, my lads, be with you still By falling stream and standing hill, By chiming tower and whispering tree, Men that made a man of me. About your work in town and farm Still you'll keep my head from harm, Still you'll help me, hands that gave A grasp to friend me to the grave.
XXXVIII The winds out of the west land blow, My friends have breathed them there; Warm with the blood of lads I know Comes east the sighing air. It fanned their temples, filled their lungs, Scattered their forelocks free; My friends made words of it with tongues That talk no more to me. Their voices, dying as they fly, Loose on the wind are sown; The names of men blow soundless by, My fellows' and my own. Oh lads, at home I heard you plain, But here your speech is still, And down the sighing wind in vain You hollo from the hill. The wind and I, we both were there, But neither long abode; Now through the friendless world we fare And sigh upon the road.
XXXIX 'Tis time, I think, by Wenlock town The golden broom should blow; The hawthorn sprinkled up and down Should charge the land with snow. Spring will not wait the loiterer's time Who keeps so long away; So others wear the broom and climb The hedgerows heaped with may. Oh tarnish late on Wenlock Edge, Gold that I never see; Lie long, high snowdrifts in the hedge That will not shower on me.
XL Into my heart an air that kills From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again.
XLI In my own shire, if I was sad, Homely comforters I had: The earth, because my heart was sore, Sorrowed for the son she bore; And standing hills, long to remain, Shared their short-lived comrade's pain. And bound for the same bourn as I, On every road I wandered by, Trod beside me, close and dear, The beautiful and death-struck year: Whether in the woodland brown I heard the beechnut rustle down, And saw the purple crocus pale Flower about the autumn dale; Or littering far the fields of May Lady-smocks a-bleaching lay, And like a skylit water stood The bluebells in the azured wood. Yonder, lightening other loads, The seasons range the country roads, But here in London streets I ken No such helpmates, only men; And these are not in plight to bear, If they would, another's care. They have enough as 'tis: I see In many an eye that measures me The mortal sickness of a mind Too unhappy to be kind. Undone with misery, all they can Is to hate their fellow man; And till they drop they needs must still Look at you and wish you ill.
XLII THE MERRY GUIDE Once in the wind of morning I ranged the thymy wold; The world-wide air was azure And all the brooks ran gold. There through the dews beside me Behold a youth that trod, With feathered cap on forehead, And poised a golden rod. With mien to match the morning And gay delightful guise And friendly brows and laughter He looked me in the eyes. Oh whence, I asked, and whither? He smiled and would not say, And looked at me and beckoned And laughed and led the way. And with kind looks and laughter And nought to say beside We two went on together, I and my happy guide. Across the glittering pastures And empty upland still And solitude of shepherds High in the folded hill, By hanging woods and hamlets That gaze through orchards down On many a windmill turning And far-discovered town, With gay regards of promise And sure unslackened stride And smiles and nothing spoken Led on my merry guide. By blowing realms of woodland With sunstruck vanes afield And cloud-led shadows sailing About the windy weald, By valley-guarded granges And silver waters wide, Content at heart I followed With my delightful guide. And like the cloudy shadows Across the country blown We two fare on for ever, But not we two alone. With the great gale we journey That breathes from gardens thinned, Borne in the drift of blossoms Whose petals throng the wind; Buoyed on the heaven-heard whisper Of dancing leaflets whirled From all the woods that autumn Bereaves in all the world. And midst the fluttering legion Of all that ever died I follow, and before us Goes the delightful guide, With lips that brim with laughter But never once respond, And feet that fly on feathers, And serpent-circled wand.
XLIII THE IMMORTAL PART When I meet the morning beam Or lay me down at night to dream, I hear my bones within me say, 'Another night, another day. 'When shall this slough of sense be cast, This dust of thoughts be laid at last, The man of flesh and soul be slain And the man of bone remain? 'This tongue that talks, these lungs that shout, These thews that hustle us about, This brain that fills the skull with schemes, And its humming hive of dreams,— 'These to-day are proud in power And lord it in their little hour: The immortal bones obey control Of dying flesh and dying soul. ''Tis long till eve and morn are gone: Slow the endless night comes on, And late to fulness grows the birth That shall last as long as earth. 'Wanderers eastward, wanderers west, Know you why you cannot rest? 'Tis that every mother's son Travails with a skeleton. 'Lie down in the bed of dust; Bear the fruit that bear you must; Bring the eternal seed to light, And morn is all the same as night. 'Rest you so from trouble sore, Fear the heat o' the sun no more, Nor the snowing winter wild, Now you labour not with child. 'Empty vessel, garment cast, We that wore you long shall last. —Another night, another day.' So my bones within me say. Therefore they shall do my will To-day while I am master still, And flesh and soul, now both are strong, Shall hale the sullen slaves along, Before this fire of sense decay, This smoke of thought blow clean away, And leave with ancient night alone The stedfast and enduring bone.
XLIV Shot? so quick, so clean an ending? Oh that was right, lad, that was brave: Yours was not an ill for mending, 'Twas best to take it to the grave. Oh you had forethought, you could reason, And saw your road and where it led, And early wise and brave in season Put the pistol to your head. Oh soon, and better so than later After long disgrace and scorn, You shot dead the household traitor, The soul that should not have been born. Right you guessed the rising morrow And scorned to tread the mire you must: Dust's your wages, son of sorrow, But men may come to worse than dust. Souls undone, undoing others,— Long time since the tale began. You would not live to wrong your brothers: Oh lad, you died as fits a man. Now to your grave shall friend and stranger With ruth and some with envy come: Undishonoured, clear of danger, Clean of guilt, pass hence and home. Turn safe to rest, no dreams, no waking; And here, man, here's the wreath I've made: 'Tis not a gift that's worth the taking, But wear it and it will not fade.
XLV If it chance your eye offend you, Pluck it out, lad, and be sound: 'Twill hurt, but here are salves to friend you, And many a balsam grows on ground. And if your hand or foot offend you, Cut it off, lad, and be whole; But play the man, stand up and end you, When your sickness is your soul.
XLVI Bring, in this timeless grave to throw, No cypress, sombre on the snow; Snap not from the bitter yew His leaves that live December through; Break no rosemary, bright with rime And sparkling to the cruel clime; Nor plod the winter land to look For willows in the icy brook To cast them leafless round him: bring No spray that ever buds in spring. But if the Christmas field has kept Awns the last gleaner overstept, Or shrivelled flax, whose flower is blue A single season, never two; Or if one haulm whose year is o'er Shivers on the upland frore, —Oh, bring from hill and stream and plain Whatever will not flower again, To give him comfort: he and those Shall bide eternal bedfellows Where low upon the couch he lies Whence he never shall arise.
XLVII THE CARPENTER's SON 'Here the hangman stops his cart: Now the best of friends must part. Fare you well, for ill fare I: Live, lads, and I will die. 'Oh, at home had I but stayed 'Prenticed to my father's trade, Had I stuck to plane and adze, I had not been lost, my lads. 'Then I might have built perhaps Gallows-trees for other chaps, Never dangled on my own, Had I but left ill alone. 'Now, you see, they hang me high, And the people passing by Stop to shake their fists and curse; So 'tis come from ill to worse. 'Here hang I, and right and left Two poor fellows hang for theft: All the same's the luck we prove, Though the midmost hangs for love. 'Comrades all, that stand and gaze, Walk henceforth in other ways; See my neck and save your own: Comrades all, leave ill alone. 'Make some day a decent end, Shrewder fellows than your friend. Fare you well, for ill fare I: Live, lads, and I will die.'
XLVIII Be still, my soul, be still; the arms you bear are brittle, Earth and high heaven are fixt of old and founded strong. Think rather,—call to thought, if now you grieve a little, The days when we had rest, O soul, for they were long. Men loved unkindness then, but lightless in the quarry I slept and saw not; tears fell down, I did not mourn; Sweat ran and blood sprang out and I was never sorry: Then it was well with me, in days ere I was born. Now, and I muse for why and never find the reason, I pace the earth, and drink the air, and feel the sun. Be still, be still, my soul; it is but for a season: Let us endure an hour and see injustice done. Ay, look: high heaven and earth ail from the prime foundation; All thoughts to rive the heart are here, and all are vain: Horror and scorn and hate and fear and indignation— Oh why did I awake? when shall I sleep again?
XLIX Think no more, lad; laugh, be jolly: Why should men make haste to die? Empty heads and tongues a-talking Make the rough road easy walking, And the feather pate of folly Bears the falling sky. Oh, 'tis jesting, dancing, drinking Spins the heavy world around. If young hearts were not so clever, Oh, they would be young for ever: Think no more; 'tis only thinking Lays lads underground.
L Clunton and Clunbury, Clungunford and Clun, Are the quietest places Under the sun. In valleys of springs of rivers, By Ony and Teme and Clun, The country for easy livers, The quietest under the sun, We still had sorrows to lighten, One could not be always glad, And lads knew trouble at Knighton When I was a Knighton lad. By bridges that Thames runs under, In London, the town built ill, 'Tis sure small matter for wonder If sorrow is with one still. And if as a lad grows older The troubles he bears are more, He carries his griefs on a shoulder That handselled them long before. Where shall one halt to deliver This luggage I'd lief set down? Not Thames, not Teme is the river, Nor London nor Knighton the town: 'Tis a long way further than Knighton, A quieter place than Clun, Where doomsday may thunder and lighten And little 'twill matter to one.
LI Loitering with a vacant eye Along the Grecian gallery, And brooding on my heavy ill, I met a statue standing still. Still in marble stone stood he, And stedfastly he looked at me. 'Well met,' I thought the look would say, 'We both were fashioned far away; We neither knew, when we were young, These Londoners we live among.' Still he stood and eyed me hard, An earnest and a grave regard: 'What, lad, drooping with your lot? I too would be where I am not. I too survey that endless line Of men whose thoughts are not as mine. Years, ere you stood up from rest, On my neck the collar prest; Years, when you lay down your ill, I shall stand and bear it still. Courage, lad, 'tis not for long: Stand, quit you like stone, be strong.' So I thought his look would say; And light on me my trouble lay, And I stept out in flesh and bone Manful like the man of stone.
LII Far in a western brookland That bred me long ago The poplars stand and tremble By pools I used to know. There, in the windless night-time, The wanderer, marvelling why, Halts on the bridge to hearken How soft the poplars sigh. He hears: no more remembered In fields where I was known, Here I lie down in London And turn to rest alone. There, by the starlit fences, The wanderer halts and hears My soul that lingers sighing About the glimmering weirs.
LIII THE TRUE LOVER The lad came to the door at night, When lovers crown their vows, And whistled soft and out of sight In shadow of the boughs. 'I shall not vex you with my face Henceforth, my love, for aye; So take me in your arms a space Before the east is grey. 'When I from hence away am past I shall not find a bride, And you shall be the first and last I ever lay beside.' She heard and went and knew not why; Her heart to his she laid; Light was the air beneath the sky But dark under the shade. 'Oh do you breathe, lad, that your breast Seems not to rise and fall, And here upon my bosom prest There beats no heart at all?' 'Oh loud, my girl, it once would knock, You should have felt it then; But since for you I stopped the clock It never goes again.' 'Oh lad, what is it, lad, that drips Wet from your neck on mine? What is it falling on my lips, My lad, that tastes of brine?' 'Oh like enough 'tis blood, my dear, For when the knife has slit The throat across from ear to ear 'Twill bleed because of it.' Under the stars the air was light But dark below the boughs, The still air of the speechless night, When lovers crown their vows.
LIV With rue my heart is laden For golden friends I had, For many a rose-lipt maiden And many a lightfoot lad. By brooks too broad for leaping The lightfoot boys are laid; The rose-lipt girls are sleeping In fields where roses fade.
LV Westward on the high-hilled plains Where for me the world began, Still, I think, in newer veins Frets the changeless blood of man. Now that other lads than I Strip to bathe on Severn shore, They, no help, for all they try, Tread the mill I trod before. There, when hueless is the west And the darkness hushes wide, Where the lad lies down to rest Stands the troubled dream beside. There, on thoughts that once were mine, Day looks down the eastern steep, And the youth at morning shine Makes the vow he will not keep.
LVI THE DAY OF BATTLE 'Far I hear the bugle blow To call me where I would not go, And the guns begin the song, "Soldier, fly or stay for long." 'Comrade, if to turn and fly Made a soldier never die, Fly I would, for who would not? 'Tis sure no pleasure to be shot. 'But since the man that runs away Lives to die another day, And cowards' funerals, when they come, Are not wept so well at home, 'Therefore, though the best is bad, Stand and do the best, my lad; Stand and fight and see your slain, And take the bullet in your brain.'
LVII You smile upon your friend to-day, To-day his ills are over; You hearken to the lover's say, And happy is the lover. 'Tis late to hearken, late to smile, But better late than never: I shall have lived a little while Before I die for ever.
LVIII When I came last to Ludlow Amidst the moonlight pale, Two friends kept step beside me, Two honest lads and hale. Now Dick lies long in the churchyard, And Ned lies long in jail, And I come home to Ludlow Amidst the moonlight pale.
LIX THE ISLE OF PORTLAND The star-filled seas are smooth to-night From France to England strown; Black towers above the Portland light The felon-quarried stone. On yonder island, not to rise, Never to stir forth free, Far from his folk a dead lad lies That once was friends with me. Lie you easy, dream you light, And sleep you fast for aye; And luckier may you find the night Than ever you found the day.
LX Now hollow fires burn out to black, And lights are guttering low: Square your shoulders, lift your pack, And leave your friends and go. Oh never fear, man, nought's to dread, Look not left nor right: In all the endless road you tread There's nothing but the night.
LXI HUGHLEY STEEPLE The vane on Hughley steeple Veers bright, a far-known sign, And there lie Hughley people, And there lie friends of mine. Tall in their midst the tower Divides the shade and sun, And the clock strikes the hour And tells the time to none. To south the headstones cluster, The sunny mounds lie thick; The dead are more in muster At Hughley than the quick. North, for a soon-told number, Chill graves the sexton delves, And steeple-shadowed slumber The slayers of themselves. To north, to south, lie parted, With Hughley tower above, The kind, the single-hearted, The lads I used to love. And, south or north, 'tis only A choice of friends one knows, And I shall ne'er be lonely Asleep with these or those.
LXII 'Terence, this is stupid stuff: You eat your victuals fast enough; There can't be much amiss, 'tis clear, To see the rate you drink your beer. But oh, good Lord, the verse you make, It gives a chap the belly-ache. The cow, the old cow, she is dead; It sleeps well, the horned head: We poor lads, 'tis our turn now To hear such tunes as killed the cow. Pretty friendship 'tis to rhyme Your friends to death before their time Moping melancholy mad: Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.' Why, if 'tis dancing you would be, There's brisker pipes than poetry. Say, for what were hop-yards meant, Or why was Burton built on Trent? Oh many a peer of England brews Livelier liquor than the Muse, And malt does more than Milton can To justify God's ways to man. Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink For fellows whom it hurts to think: Look into the pewter pot To see the world as the world's not. And faith, 'tis pleasant till 'tis past: The mischief is that 'twill not last. Oh I have been to Ludlow fair And left my necktie God knows where, And carried half-way home, or near, Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer: Then the world seemed none so bad, And I myself a sterling lad; And down in lovely muck I've lain, Happy till I woke again. Then I saw the morning sky: Heigho, the tale was all a lie; The world, it was the old world yet, I was I, my things were wet, And nothing now remained to do But begin the game anew. Therefore, since the world has still Much good, but much less good than ill, And while the sun and moon endure Luck's a chance, but trouble's sure, I'd face it as a wise man would, And train for ill and not for good. 'Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale Is not so brisk a brew as ale: Out of a stem that scored the hand I wrung it in a weary land. But take it: if the smack is sour, The better for the embittered hour; It should do good to heart and head When your soul is in my soul's stead; And I will friend you, if I may, In the dark and cloudy day. There was a king reigned in the East: There, when kings will sit to feast, They get their fill before they think With poisoned meat and poisoned drink. He gathered all that springs to birth From the many-venomed earth; First a little, thence to more, He sampled all her killing store; And easy, smiling, seasoned sound, Sate the king when healths went round. They put arsenic in his meat And stared aghast to watch him eat; They poured strychnine in his cup And shook to see him drink it up: They shook, they stared as white's their shirt: Them it was their poison hurt. —I tell the tale that I heard told. Mithridates, he died old.
LXIII I hoed and trenched and weeded, And took the flowers to fair: I brought them home unheeded; The hue was not the wear. So up and down I sow them For lads like me to find, When I shall lie below them, A dead man out of mind. Some seed the birds devour, And some the season mars, But here and there will flower The solitary stars, And fields will yearly bear them As light-leaved spring comes on, And luckless lads will wear them When I am dead and gone.
（From Last Poems）
The Queen she sent to look for me, The sergeant he did say, 'Young man, a soldier will you be For thirteen pence a day?' For thirteen pence a day did I Take off the things I wore, And I have marched to where I lie, And I shall march no more. My mouth is dry, my shirt is wet, My blood runs all away, So now I shall not die in debt For thirteen pence a day. To-morrow after new young men The sergeant he must see, For things will all be over then Between the Queen and me. And I shall have to bate my price, For in the grave, they say, Is neither knowledge nor device Nor thirteen pence a day.
（From Last Poems）
Could man be drunk for ever With liquor, love, or fights, Lief should I rouse at morning And lief lie down of nights. But men at whiles are sober And think by fits and starts, And if they think, they fasten Their hands upon their hearts.
（From More Poems）
Stone, steel, dominions pass, Faith too, no wonder; So leave alone the grass That I am under. All knots that lovers tie Are tied to sever; Here shall your sweet-heart lie, Untrue for ever.
（From More Poems）
He looked at me with eyes I thought I was not like to find; The voice he begged for pence with brought Another man to mind. Oh, no, lad, never touch your cap; It is not my half-crown; You have it from a better chap That long ago lay down. Turn east and over Thames to Kent And come to the sea's brim, And find his everlasting tent And touch your cap to him.
They say my verse is sad: no wonder; Its narrow measure spans Tears of eternity, and sorrow, Not mine, but man's. This is for all ill-treated fellows Unborn and unbegot, For them to read when they're in trouble And I am not.
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children." And he said:Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Then said a rich man, "Speak to us of Giving." And he answered: You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow? And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city? And what is fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable? There are those who give little of the much which they have—and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty. There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward. And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism. And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space. Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth. It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving. And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'. You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving." The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish. Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you. And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream. And what desert greater shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving? And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed? See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving. For in truth it is life that gives unto life—while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness. And you receivers—and you are all receivers—assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives. Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings; For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father.
Then a ploughman said, "Speak to us of Work." And he answered, saying: You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth. For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life's procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite. When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison? Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune. But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth's furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born, And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life. And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life's inmost secret. But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written. You have been told also life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary. And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge, And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge, And all knowledge is vain save when there is work, And all work is empty save when there is love. And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God. And what is it to work with love? It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth. It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house. It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit. It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit, And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching. Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, "He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who ploughs the soil. "And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet." But I say, not in sleep but in the over-wakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass; And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.
Then a woman said, "Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow." And he answered: Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater." But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced. When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
And the weaver said, "Speak to us of Clothes." And he answered: Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful. And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy you may find in them a harness and a chain. Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your skin and less of your raiment, For the breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind. Some of you say, "It is the north wind who has woven the clothes to wear." And I say, Aye, it was the north wind, But shame was his loom, and the softening of the sinews was his thread. And when his work was done he laughed in the forest. Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean. And when the unclean shall be no more, what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling of the mind? And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
And an orator said, "Speak to us of Freedom." And he answered: At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom, Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them. Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff. And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment. You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief, But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound. And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour? In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle the eyes. And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free? If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead. You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them. And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed. For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their won pride? And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you. And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared. Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape. These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling. And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light. And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.
And a woman spoke, saying, "Tell us of Pain." And he said: Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields. And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief. Much of your pain is self-chosen. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility: For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen, And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
Then said a teacher, "Speak to us of Teaching." And he said: No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of our knowledge. The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness. If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind. The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding. The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it. And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither. For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man. And even as each one of you stands alone in God's knowledge, so must each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God and in his understanding of the earth.
And a youth said, "Speak to us of Friendship." And he answered saying: Your friend is your needs answered. He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. And he is your board and your fireside. For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace. When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay." And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart; For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed. When you part from your friend, you grieve not; For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain. And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught. And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also. For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live. For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness. And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
And a poet said, "Speak to us of Beauty." And he answered: Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide? And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech? The aggrieved and the injured say, "Beauty is kind and gentle. "Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us." And the passionate say, "Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread. "Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us." The tired and the weary say, "Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit. "Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow." But the restless say, "We have heard her shouting among the mountains, "And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions." At night the watchmen of the city say, "Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east." And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say, "We have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset." In winter say the snow-bound, "She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills." And in the summer heat the reapers say, "We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair." All these things have you said of beauty. Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied, And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy. It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth, But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted. It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear, But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears. It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw. But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight. People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face. But you are life and you are the veil. Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror. But you are eternity and your are the mirror.
Then Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death." And he said: You would know the secret of death. But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life? The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light. If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring. Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour. Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king? Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling? For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
（1926） I AM FOREVER walking upon these shores, Betwixt the sand and the foam, The high tide will erase my foot-prints, And the wind will blow away the foam. But the sea and the shore will remain Forever. Once I filled my hand with mist. Then I opened it and lo, the mist was a worm. And I closed and opened my hand again, and behold there was a bird. And again I closed and opened my hand, and in its hollow stood a man with a sad face, turned upward. And again I closed my hand, and when I opened it there was naught but mist. But I heard a song of exceeding sweetness. It was but yesterday I thought myself a fragment quivering without rhythm in the sphere of life. Now I know that I am the sphere, and all life in rhythmic fragments moves within me. They say to me in their awakening, "You and the world you live in are but a grain of sand upon the infinite shore of an infinite sea." And in my dream I say to them, "I am the infinite sea, and all worlds are but grains of sand upon my shore." Only once have I been made mute. It was when a man asked me, "Who are you?" The first thought of God was an angel. The first word of God was a man. We were fluttering, wandering, longing creatures a thousand thousand years before the sea and the wind in the forest gave us words. Now how can we express the ancient of days in us with only the sounds of our yesterdays? The Sphinx spoke only once, and the Sphinx said, "A grain of sand is a desert, and a desert is a grain of sand; and now let us all be silent again." I heard the Sphinx, but I did not understand. Once I saw the face of a woman and I beheld all her children not yet born. And a woman looked upon my face and she knew all my forefathers, dead before she was born. Now would I fulfil myself. But how shall I unless I become a planet with intelligent lives dwelling upon it? Is not this every man's goal? A pearl is a temple built by pain around a grain of sand. What longing built our bodies and around what grains? When God threw me, a pebble, into this wondrous lake I disturbed its surface with countless circles. But when I reached the depths I became very still. Give me silence, and I will outdare the night. I had a second birth when my soul and my body loved one another and were married. Once I knew a man whose ears were exceedingly keen, but he was dumb. He had lost his tongue in a battle. I know now what battles that man fought before the great silence came. I am glad he is dead The world is not large enough for two of us. Long did I lie in the dust of Egypt, silent and unaware of the seasons. Then the sun gave me birth, and I rose and walked upon the banks of the Nile, Singing with the days and dreaming with the nights. And now the sun treads upon me with a thousand feet that I may lie again in the dust of Egypt. But behold a marvel and a riddle! The very sun that gathered me cannot scatter me. Still erect am I, and sure of foot do I walk upon the banks of the Nile. Remembrance is a form of meeting. Forgetfulness is a form of freedom. We measure time according to the movement of countless suns; and they measure time by little machines in their little pockets. Now tell me, how could we ever meet at the same place and the same time? Space is not space between the earth and the sun to one who looks down from the windows of the Milky Way. Humanity is a river of light running from the ex-eternity to eternity. Do not the spirits who dwell in the ether envy man his pain? On my way to the Holy City I met another pilgrim and I asked him, "Is this indeed the way to the Holy City?" And he said, "Follow me, and you will reach the Holy City in a day and a night." And I followed him. And we walked many days and many nights, yet we did not reach the Holy City. And what was to my surprise he became angry with me because he had misled me. Make me, oh God, the prey of the lion, ere You make the rabbit my prey. One may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night. My house says to me, "Do not leave me, for here dwells your past." And the road says to me, "Come and follow me, for I am your future." And I say to both my house and the road, "I have no past, nor have I a future. If I stay here, there is a going in my staying; and if I go there is a staying in my going. Only love and death change all things." How can I lose faith in the justice of life, when the dreams of those who sleep upon feathers are not more beautiful than the dreams of those who sleep upon the earth? Strange, the desire for certain pleasures is a part of my pain. Seven times have I despised my soul: The first time when I saw her being meek that she might attain height. The second time when I saw her limping before the crippled. The third time when she was given to choose between the hard and the easy, and she chose the easy. The fourth time when she committed a wrong, and comforted herself that others also commit wrong. The fifth time when she forbore for weakness, and attributed her patience to strength. The sixth time when she despised the ugliness of a face, and knew not that it was one of her own masks. And the seventh time when she sang a song of praise, and deemed it a virtue. I AM IGNORANT of absolute truth. But I am humble before my ignorance and therein lies my honour and my reward There is a space between man's imagination and man's attainment that may only be traversed by his longing. Paradise is there, behind that door, in the next room; but I have lost the key.Perhaps I have only mislaid it. You are blind and I am deaf and dumb, so let us touch hands and understand. The significance of man is not in what he attains, but rather in what he longs to attain. Some of us are like ink and some like paper. And if it were not for the blackness of some of us, some of us would be dumb; And if it were not for the whiteness of some of us, some of us would be blind. Give me an ear and I will give you a voice. Our mind is a sponge; our heart is a stream. Is it not strange that most of us choose sucking rather than running? When you long for blessings that you may not name, and when you grieve knowing not the cause, then indeed you are growing with all things that grow, and rising toward your greater self. When one is drunk with a vision, he deems his faint expression of it the very wine. You drink wine that you may be intoxicated; and I drink that it may sober me from that other wine. When my cup is empty I resign myself to its emptiness; but when it is half full I resent its half-fullness. The reality of the other person is not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather to what he does not say. Half of what I say is meaningless; but I say it so that the other half may reach you. A sense of humour is a sense of proportion. My loneliness was born when men praised my talkative faults and blamed my silent virtues. When Life does not find a singer to sing her heart she produces a philosopher to speak her mind. A truth is to be known always, to be uttered sometimes. The real in us is silent; the acquired is talkative. The voice of life in me cannot reach the ear of life in you; but let us talk that we may not feel lonely. When two women talk they say nothing; when one woman speaks she reveals all of life. Frogs may bellow louder than bulls, but they cannot drag the plough in the field nor turn the wheel of the winepress, and of their skins you cannot make shoes. Only the dumb envy the talkative. If winter should say, "Spring is in my heart," who would believe winter? Every seed is a longing. Should you really open your eyes and see, you would behold your image in all images. And should you open your ears and listen, you would hear your own voice in all voices. It takes two of us to discover truth: one to utter it and one to understand it. Though the wave of words is forever upon us, yet our depth is forever silent. Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth. Now let us play hide and seek. Should you hide in my heart it would not be difficult to find you. But should you hide behind your own shell, then it would be useless for anyone to seek you. A woman may veil her face with a smile. How noble is the sad heart who would sing a joyous song with joyous hearts. He who would understand a woman, or dissect genius, or solve the mystery of silence is the very man who would wake from a beautiful dream to sit at a breakfast table. I would walk with all those who walk. I would not stand still to watch the procession passing by You owe more than gold to him who serves you. Give him of your heart or serve him. Nay, we have not lived in vain. Have they not built towers of our bones? Let us not be particular and sectional. The poet's mind and the scorpion's tail rise in glory from the same earth. Every dragon gives birth to a St. George who slays it. Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. We fell them down and turn them into paper that we may record our emptiness. Should you care to write (and only the saints know why you should) you must needs have knowledge and art and magic—the knowledge of the music of words, the art of being artless, and the magic of loving your readers. They dip their pens in our hearts and think they are inspired. Should a tree write its autobiography it would not be unlike the history of a race. If I were to choose between the power of writing a poem and the ecstasy of a poem unwritten, I would choose the ecstasy. It is better poetry. But you and all my neighbours agree that I always choose badly. Poetry is not an opinion expressed. It is a song that rises from a bleeding wound or a smiling mouth. Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness. A POET IS a dethroned king sitting among the ashes of his palace trying to fashion an image out of the ashes. Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary. In vain shall a poet seek the mother of the songs of his heart. Once I said to a poet, "We shall not know your worth until you die." And he answered saying, "Yes, death is always the revealer. And if indeed you would know my worth it is that I have more in my heart than upon my tongue, and more in my desire than in my hand." If you sing of beauty though alone in the heart of the desert you will have an audience. Poetry is wisdom that enchants the heart. Wisdom is poetry that sings in the mind. If we could enchant man's heart and at the same time sing in his mind, Then in truth he would live in the shadow of God. Inspiration will always sing; inspiration will never explain. We often sing lullabies to our children that we ourselves may sleep. All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind. Thinking is always the stumbling stone to poetry. A great singer is he who sings our silences. How can you sing if your mouth be filled with food? How shall your hand be raised in blessing if it is filled with gold? They say the nightingale pierces his bosom with a thorn when he sings his love song. So do we all. How else should we sing? Genius is but a robin's song at the beginning of a slow spring. Even the most winged spirit cannot escape physical necessity. A madman is not less a musician than you or myself; only the instrument on which he plays is a little out of tune. The song that lies silent in the heart of a mother sings upon the lips of her child. No longing remains unfulfilled. I have never agreed with my other self wholly. The truth of the matter seems to lie between us. Your other self is always sorry for you. But your other self grows on sorrow; so all is well. There is no struggle of soul and body save in the minds of those whose souls are asleep and whose bodies are out of tune. When you reach the heart of life you shall find beauty in all things, even in the eyes that are blind to beauty. We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting. Sow a seed and the earth will yield you a flower. Dream your dream to the sky and it will bring you your beloved. The devil died the very day you were born. Now you do not have to go through hell to meet an angel. Many a woman borrows a man's heart; very few could possess it. If you would possess you must not claim. When a man's hand touches the hand of a woman they both touch the heart of eternity. Love is the veil between lover and lover. Every man loves two women; the one is the creation of his imagination, and the other is not yet born. Men who do not forgive women their little faults will never enjoy their great virtues. Love that does not renew itself every day becomes a habit and in turn a slavery. Lovers embrace that which is between them rather than each other. Love and doubt have never been on speaking terms. Love is a word of light, written by a hand of light, upon a page of light. Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity. If you do not understand your friend under all conditions you will never understand him. Your most radiant garment is of the other person's weaving; Your most savoury meal is that which you eat at the other person's table; Your most comfortable bed is in the other person's house. Now tell me, how can you separate yourself from the other person? Your mind and my heart will never agree until your mind ceases to live in numbers and my heart in the mist. We shall never understand one another until we reduce the language to seven words. HOW SHALL MY heart be unsealed unless it be broken? Only great sorrow or great joy can reveal your truth. If you would be revealed you must either dance naked in the sun, or carry your cross. Should nature heed what we say of contentment no river would seek the sea, and no winter would turn to Spring. Should she heed all we say of thrift, how many of us would be breathing this air? You see but your shadow when you turn your back to the sun. You are free before the sun of the day, and free before the stars of the night; And you are free when there is no sun and no moon and no star. You are even free when you close your eyes upon all there is. But you are a slave to him whom you love because you love him, And a slave to him who loves you because he loves you. We are all beggars at the gate of the temple, and each one of us receives his share of the bounty of the King when he enters the temple, and when he goes out. But we are all jealous of one another, which is another way of belittling the King. You cannot consume beyond your appetite. The other half of the loaf belongs to the other person, and there should remain a little bread for the chance guest. If it were not for your guests all houses would be graves. Said a gracious wolf to a simple sheep, "Will you not honour our house with a visit?" And the sheep answered, "We would have been honoured to visit your house if it were not in your stomach." I stopped my guest on the threshold and said, "Nay, wipe not your feet as you enter, but as you go out." Generosity is not in giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is in giving me that which you need more than I do. You are indeed charitable when you give, and while giving, turn your face away so that you may not see the shyness of the receiver. The difference between the richest man and the poorest is but a day of hunger and an hour of thirst. We often borrow from our tomorrows to pay our debts to our yesterdays. I too am visited by angels and devils, but I get rid of them. When it is an angel I pray an old prayer, and he is bored; When it is a devil I commit an old sin, and he passes me by. After all this is not a bad prison; but I do not like this wall between my cell and the next prisoner's cell; Yet I assure you that I do not wish to reproach the warder nor the Builder of the prison. Those who give you a serpent when you ask for a fish, may have nothing but serpents to give. It is then generosity on their part. Trickery succeeds sometimes, but it always commits suicide. You are truly a forgiver when you forgive murderers who never spill blood, thieves who never steal, and liars who utter no falsehood. He who can put his finger upon that which divides good from evil is he who can touch the very hem of the garment of God. If your heart is a volcano how shall you expect flowers to bloom in your hands? A strange form of self-indulgence! There are times when I would be wronged and cheated, that I may laugh at the expense of those who think I do not know I am being wronged and cheated. What shall I say of him who is the pursuer playing the part of the pursued? Let him who wipes his soiled hands with your garment take your garment. He may need it again; surely you would not. It is a pity that money-changers cannot be good gardeners. Please do not whitewash your inherent faults with your acquired virtues. I would have the faults; they are like mine own. How often have I attributed to myself crimes I have never committed, so that the other person may feel comfortable in my presence. Even the masks of life are masks of deeper mystery. You may judge others only according to your knowledge of yourself. Tell me now, who among us is guilty and who is unguilty? The truly just is he who feels half guilty of your misdeeds. Only an idiot and a genius break man-made laws; and they are the nearest to the heart of God. It is only when you are pursued that you become swift. I have no enemies, O God, but if I am to have an enemy Let his strength be equal to mine, That truth alone may be the victor. You will be quite friendly with your enemy when you both die. Perhaps a man may commit suicide in self-defence. Long ago there lived a Man who was crucified for being too loving and too lovable. And strange to relate I met him thrice yesterday. The first time He was asking a policeman not to take a prostitute to prison; the second time He was drinking wine with an outcast; and the third time He was having a fist-fight with a promoter inside a church. If all they say of good and evil were true, then my life is but one long crime. Pity is but half justice. THE ONLY ONE who has been unjust to me is the one to whose brother I have been unjust. When you see a man led to prison say in your heart, "Mayhap he is escaping from a narrower prison." And when you see a man drunken say in your heart, "Mayhap he sought escape from something still more unbeautiful." Oftentimes I have hated in self-defence; but if I were stronger I would not have used such a weapon. How stupid is he who would patch the hatred in his eyes with the smile of his lips. Only those beneath me can envy or hate me. I have never been envied nor hated; I am above no one. Only those above me can praise or belittle me. I have never been praised nor belittled; I am below no one. Your saying to me, "I do not understand you," is praise beyond my worth, and an insult you do not deserve. How mean am I when life gives me gold and I give you silver, and yet I deem myself generous. When you reach the heart of life you will find yourself not higher than the felon, and not lower than the prophet. Strange that you should pity the slow-footed and not the slow-minded, And the blind-eyed rather than the blind-hearted. It is wiser for the lame not to break his crutches upon the head of his enemy. How blind is he who gives you out of his pocket that he may take out of your heart. Life is a procession. The slow of foot finds it too swift and he steps out; And the swift of foot finds it too slow and he too steps out. If there is such a thing as sin some of us commit it backward following our forefathers' footsteps; And some of us commit it forward by overruling our children. The truly good is he who is one with all those who are deemed bad. We are all prisoners but some of us are in cells with windows and some without. Strange that we all defend our wrongs with more vigour than we do our rights. Should we all confess our sins to one another we would all laugh at one another for our lack of originality. Should we all reveal our virtues we would also laugh for the same cause. An individual is above man-made laws until he commits a crime against man-made conventions; After that he is neither above anyone nor lower than anyone. Government is an agreement between you and myself. You and myself are often wrong. Crime is either another name of need or an aspect of a disease. Is there a greater fault than being conscious of the other person's faults? If the other person laughs at you, you can pity him; but if you laugh at him you may never forgive yourself. If the other person injures you, you may forget the injury; but if you injure him you will always remember. In truth the other person is your most sensitive self given another body. How heedless you are when you would have men fly with your wings and you cannot even give them a feather. Once a man sat at my board and ate my bread and drank my wine and went away laughing at me. Then he came again for bread and wine, and I spurned him; And the angels laughed at me. Hate is a dead thing. Who of you would be a tomb? It is the honour of the murdered that he is not the murderer. The tribune of humanity is in its silent heart, never its talkative mind. They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; And I deem them mad because they think my days have a price. They spread before us their riches of gold and silver, of ivory and ebony, and we spread before them our hearts and our spirits; And yet they deem themselves the hosts and us the guests. I would be the least among men with dreams and the desire to fulfil them, rather than the greatest with no dreams and no desires. The most pitiful among men is he who turns his dreams into silver and gold. We are all climbing toward the summit of our hearts' desire. Should the other climber steal your sack and your purse and wax fat on the one and heavy on the other, you should pity him; The climbing will be harder for his flesh, and the burden will make his way longer. And should you in your leanness see his flesh puffing upward, help him a step; it will add to your swiftness. You cannot judge any man beyond your knowledge of him, and how small is your knowledge. I would not listen to a conqueror preaching to the conquered. The truly free man is he who bears the load of the bond slave patiently. A thousand years ago my neighbour said to me, "I hate life, for it is naught but a thing of pain." And yesterday I passed by a cemetery and saw life dancing upon his grave. Strife in nature is but disorder longing for order. Solitude is a silent storm that breaks down all our dead branches; Yet it sends our living roots deeper into the living heart of the living earth. Once I spoke of the sea to a brook, and the brook thought me but an imaginative exaggerator; And once I spoke of a brook to the sea, and the sea thought me but a depreciative defamer. How narrow is the vision that exalts the busyness of the ant above the singing of the grasshopper. The highest virtue here may be the least in another world. The deep and the high go to the depth or to the height in a straight line; only the spacious can move in circles. IF IT WERE not for our conception of weights and measures we would stand in awe of the firefly as we do before the sun. A scientist without imagination is a butcher with dull knives and out-worn scales. But what would you, since we are not all vegetarians? When you sing the hungry hears you with his stomach. Death is not nearer to the aged than to the new-born; neither is life. If indeed you must be candid, be candid beautifully; otherwise keep silent, for there is a man in our neighbourhood who is dying. Mayhap a funeral among men is a wedding feast among the angels. A forgotten reality may die and leave in its will seven thousand actualities and facts to be spent in its funeral and the building of a tomb. In truth we talk only to ourselves, but sometimes we talk loud enough that others may hear us. The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply. If the Milky Way were not within me how should I have seen it or known it? Unless I am a physician among physicians they would not believe that I am an astronomer. Perhaps the sea's definition of a shell is the pearl. Perhaps time's definition of coal is the diamond. Crime is either another name of need or an aspect of a disease. Is there a greater fault than being conscious of the other person's faults? If the other person laughs at you, you can pity him; but if you laugh at him you may never forgive yourself. If the other person injures you, you may forget the injury; but if you injure him you will always remember. In truth the other person is your most sensitive self given another body. How heedless you are when you would have men fly with your wings and you cannot even give them a feather. Once a man sat at my board and ate my bread and drank my wine and went away laughing at me. Then he came again for bread and wine, and I spurned him; And the angels laughed at me. Hate is a dead thing. Who of you would be a tomb? It is the honour of the murdered that he is not the murderer. The tribune of humanity is in its silent heart, never its talkative mind. They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; And I deem them mad because they think my days have a price. They spread before us their riches of gold and silver, of ivory and ebony, and we spread before them our hearts and our spirits; And yet they deem themselves the hosts and us the guests. I would be the least among men with dreams and the desire to fulfil them, rather than the greatest with no dreams and no desires. The most pitiful among men is he who turns his dreams into silver and gold. We are all climbing toward the summit of our hearts' desire. Should the other climber steal your sack and your purse and wax fat on the one and heavy on the other, you should pity him; The climbing will be harder for his flesh, and the burden will make his way longer. And should you in your leanness see his flesh puffing upward, help him a step; it will add to your swiftness. You cannot judge any man beyond your knowledge of him, and how small is your knowledge. I would not listen to a conqueror preaching to the conquered. The truly free man is he who bears the load of the bond slave patiently. A thousand years ago my neighbour said to me, "I hate life, for it is naught but a thing of pain." And yesterday I passed by a cemetery and saw life dancing upon his grave. Strife in nature is but disorder longing for order. Solitude is a silent storm that breaks down all our dead branches; Yet it sends our living roots deeper into the living heart of the living earth. Once I spoke of the sea to a brook, and the brook thought me but an imaginative exaggerator; And once I spoke of a brook to the sea, and the sea thought me but a depreciative defamer. How narrow is the vision that exalts the busyness of the ant above the singing of the grasshopper. The highest virtue here may be the least in another world. The deep and the high go to the depth or to the height in a straight line; only the spacious can move in circles. IF IT WERE not for our conception of weights and measures we would stand in awe of the firefly as we do before the sun. A scientist without imagination is a butcher with dull knives and out-worn scales. But what would you, since we are not all vegetarians? When you sing the hungry hears you with his stomach. Death is not nearer to the aged than to the new-born; neither is life. If indeed you must be candid, be candid beautifully; otherwise keep silent, for there is a man in our neighbourhood who is dying. Mayhap a funeral among men is a wedding feast among the angels. A forgotten reality may die and leave in its will seven thousand actualities and facts to be spent in its funeral and the building of a tomb. In truth we talk only to ourselves, but sometimes we talk loud enough that others may hear us. The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply. If the Milky Way were not within me how should I have seen it or known it? Unless I am a physician among physicians they would not believe that I am an astronomer. Perhaps the sea's definition of a shell is the pearl. Perhaps time's definition of coal is the diamond. Fame is the shadow of passion standing in the light. A root is a flower that disdains fame. There is neither religion nor science beyond beauty. Every great man I have known had something small in his make-up; and it was that small something which prevented inactivity or madness or suicide. The truly great man is he who would master no one, and who would be mastered by none. I would not believe that a man is mediocre simply because he kills the criminals and the prophets. Tolerance is love sick with the sickness of haughtiness. Worms will turn; but is it not strange that even elephants will yield? A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. I am the flame and I am the dry bush, and one part of me consumes the other part. We are all seeking the summit of the holy mountain; but shall not our road be shorter if we consider the past a chart and not a guide? Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too self-full to seek other than itself. Had I filled myself with all that you know what room should I have for all that you do not know? I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers. A bigot is a stone-leaf orator. The silence of the envious is too noisy. When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense. An exaggeration is a truth that has lost its temper. If you can see only what light reveals and hear only what sound announces, Then in truth you do not see nor do you hear. A fact is a truth unsexed. You cannot laugh and be unkind at the same time. The nearest to my heart are a king without a kingdom and a poor man who does not know how to beg A shy failure is nobler than an immodest success. Dig anywhere in the earth and you will find a treasure, only you must dig with the faith of a peasant. Said a hunted fox followed by twenty horsemen and a pack of twenty hounds, "Of course they will kill me. But how poor and how stupid they must be. Surely it would not be worth while for twenty foxes riding on twenty asses and accompanied by twenty wolves to chase and kill one man." It is the mind in us that yields to the laws made by us, but never the spirit in us. A traveller am I and a navigator, and every day I discover a new region within my soul. A woman protested saying, "Of course it was a righteous war. My son fell in it." I said to Life, "I would hear Death speak." And Life raised her voice a little higher and said, "You hear him now." When you have solved all the mysteries of life you long for death, for it is but another mystery of life. Birth and death are the two noblest expressions of bravery. My friend, you and I shall remain strangers unto life, And unto one another, and each unto himself, Until the day when you shall speak and I shall listen Deeming your voice my own voice; And when I shall stand before you Thinking myself standing before a mirror. They say to me, "Should you know yourself you would know all men." And I say, "Only when I seek all men shall I know myself." MAN IS TWO men; one is awake in darkness, the other is asleep in light. A hermit is one who renounces the world of fragments that he may enjoy the world wholly and without interruption. There lies a green field between the scholar and the poet; should the scholar cross it he becomes a wise man; should the poet cross it, he becomes a prophet. Yestereve I saw philosophers in the marketplace carrying their heads in baskets, and crying aloud, "Wisdom! Wisdom for sale!" Poor philosophers! They must needs sell their heads to feed their hearts. Said a philosopher to a street sweeper, "I pity you. Yours is a hard and dirty task." And the street sweeper said, "Thank you, sir. But tell me what is your task?" And the philosopher answered saying, "I study man's mind, his deeds and his desires." Then the street sweeper went on with his sweeping and said with a smile, "I pity you too." He who listens to truth is not less than he who utters truth. No man can draw the line between necessities and luxuries. Only the angels can do that, and the angels are wise and wistful. Perhaps the angels are our better thought in space. He is the true prince who finds his throne in the heart of the dervish. Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need. In truth you owe naught to any man. You owe all to all men. All those who have lived in the past live with us now. Surely none of us would be an ungracious host. He who longs the most lives the longest. They say to me, "A bird in the hand is worth ten in the bush." But I say, "A bird and a feather in the bush is worth more than ten birds in the hand." Your seeking after that feather is life with winged feet; nay, it is life itself. There are only two elements here, beauty and truth; beauty in the hearts of lovers, and truth in the arms of the tillers of the soil. Great beauty captures me, but a beauty still greater frees me even from itself. Beauty shines brighter in the heart of him who longs for it than in the eyes of him who sees it. I admire him who reveals his mind to me; I honour him who unveils his dreams. But why am I shy, and even a little ashamed before him who serves me? The gifted were once proud in serving princes. Now they claim honour in serving paupers. The angels know that too many practical men eat their bread with the sweat of the dreamer's brow Wit is often a mask. If you could tear it you would find either a genius irritated or cleverness juggling. The understanding attributes to me understanding and the dull, dullness. I think they are both right. Only those with secrets in their hearts could divine the secrets in our hearts. He who would share your pleasure but not your pain shall lose the key to one of the seven gates of Paradise. Yes, there is a Nirvana; it is in leading your sheep to a green pasture, and in putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem. We choose our joys and our sorrows long before we experience them. Sadness is but a wall between two gardens. When either your joy or your sorrow becomes great the world becomes small. Desire is half of life; indifference is half of death. The bitterest thing in our today's sorrow is the memory of our yesterday's joy. They say to me, "You must needs choose between the pleasures of this world and the peace of the next world." And I say to them, "I have chosen both the delights of this world and the peace of the next. For I know in my heart that the Supreme Poet wrote but one poem, and it scans perfectly, and it also rhymes perfectly." Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking. When you reach your height you shall desire but only for desire; and you shall hunger, for hunger; and you shall thirst for greater thirst. If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees. The flowers of spring are winter's dreams related at the breakfast table of the angels. Said a skunk to a tube-rose, "See how swiftly I run, while you cannot walk nor even creep." Said the tube-rose to the skunk, "Oh, most noble swift runner, please run swiftly!" Turtles can tell more about roads than hares. Strange that creatures without backbones have the hardest shells. The most talkative is the least intelligent, and there is hardly a difference between an orator and an auctioneer. Be grateful that you do not have to live down the renown of a father nor the wealth of an uncle. But above all be grateful that no one will have to live down either your renown or your wealth. Only when a juggler misses catching his ball does he appeal to me. The envious praises me unknowingly. Long were you a dream in your mother's sleep, and then she woke to give you birth. The germ of the race is in your mother's longing. My father and mother desired a child and they begot me. And I wanted a mother and a father and I begot night and the sea. Some of our children are our justifications and some are but our regrets. When night comes and you too are dark, lie down and be dark with a will. And when morning comes and you are still dark stand up and say to the day with a will, "I am still dark." It is stupid to play a role with the night and the day. They would both laugh at you. The mountain veiled in mist is not a hill; an oak tree in the rain is not a weeping willow. Behold here is a paradox; the deep and high are nearer to one another than the mid-level to either. When I stood a clear mirror before you, you gazed into me and saw your image. Then you said, "I love you." But in truth you loved yourself in me. When you enjoy loving your neighbour it ceases to be a virtue. Love which is not always springing is always dying. You cannot have youth and the knowledge of it at the same time. For youth is too busy living to know, and knowledge is too busy seeking itself to live. You may sit at your window watching the passers-by. And watching you may see a nun walking toward your right hand, and a prostitute toward your left hand. And you may say in your innocence, "How noble is the one and how ignoble is the other." But should you close your eyes and listen awhile you would hear a voice whispering in the ether, "One seeks me in prayer, and the other in pain. And in the spirit of each there is a bower for my spirit." Once every hundred years Jesus of Nazareth meets Jesus of the Christian in a garden among the hills of Lebanon. And they talk long; and each time Jesus of Nazareth goes away saying to Jesus of the Christian, "My friend, I fear we shall never, never agree." May God feed the over-abundant! A great man has two hearts; one bleeds and the other forbears. Should one tell a lie which does not hurt you nor anyone else, why not say in your heart that the house of his facts is too small for his fancies, and he had to leave it for larger space? Behind every closed door is a mystery sealed with seven seals. Waiting is the hoofs of time. What if trouble should be a new window in the Eastern wall of your house? You may forget the one with whom you have laughed, but never the one with whom you have wept. There must be something strangely sacred in salt. It is in our tears and in the sea. Our God in His gracious thirst will drink us all, the dewdrop and the tear. You are but a fragment of your giant self, a mouth that seeks bread, and a blind hand that holds the cup for a thirsty mouth. If you would rise but a cubit above race and country and self you would indeed become godlike. If I were you I would not find fault with the sea at low tide. It is a good ship and our Captain is able; it is only your stomach that is in disorder. What we long for and cannot attain is dearer than what we have already attained. Should you sit upon a cloud you would not see the boundary line between one country and another, nor the boundary stone between a farm and a farm. It is a pity you cannot sit upon a cloud. Seven centuries ago seven white doves rose from a deep valley flying to the snow-white summit of the mountain. One of the seven men who watched the flight said, "I see a black spot on the wing of the seventh dove." Today the people in that valley tell of seven black doves who flew to the summit of the snowy mountain. In the autumn I gathered all my sorrows and buried them in my garden. And when April returned and spring came to wed the earth, there grew in my garden beautiful flowers unlike all other flowers. And my neighbours came to behold them, and they all said to me, "When autumn comes again, at seeding time, will you not give us of the seeds of these flowers that we may have them in our gardens?" It is indeed misery if I stretch an empty hand to men and receive nothing; but it is hopelessness if I stretch a full hand and find none to receive. I long for eternity because there I shall meet my unwritten poems and my unpainted pictures. Art is a step from nature toward the Infinite. A work of art is a mist carved into an image. Even the hands that make crowns of thorns are better than idle hands. Our most sacred tears never seek our eyes. Every man is the descendant of every king and every slave that ever lived. If the great-grandfather of Jesus had known what was hidden within him, would he not have stood in awe of himself? Was the love of Judas' mother of her son less than the love of Mary for Jesus? There are three miracles of our Brother Jesus not yet recorded in the Book: the first that He was a man like you and me, the second that He had a sense of humour, and the third that He knew He was a conqueror though conquered. Crucified One, you are crucified upon my heart; and the nails that pierce your hands pierce the walls of my heart. And tomorrow when a stranger passes by this Golgotha he will not know that two bled here. He will deem it the blood of one man. You may have heard of the Blessed Mountain. It is the highest mountain in our world. Should you reach the summit you would have only one desire, and that to descend and be with those who dwell in the deepest valley. That is why it is called the Blessed Mountain. Every thought I have imprisoned in expression I must free by my deeds.
She is sweet and soft-throated, Her eyes glow, as she Tunes her voice, many noted For me. Her warm red lips Are budded, as she With a quick kiss clips Them to me. Her hair's live curl Clutches for me. Alas! Tossed back in my hearts swirl Is she.
A red flower falls to its dim reflection —Hush then, never a word. A red flower falls to its red reflection, The shadow dances up in affection, And two are one in sweet connection, —Never a sound was heard. Something has gone down the silent river —What does the robin say? Silver slow goes by the river, Far off in gold the willows quiver, And further still 'neath the sunset gather Red flowers that have floated away.
I felt the lurch and halt of her heart Next my breast, where my own heart was beating; And I laughed to feel it plunge and bound, And strange in my blood-swept ears was the sound Of the words I kept repeating, Repeating with tightened arms, and the hot blood's blindfold art. Her breath flew warm against my neck, Warm as a flame in the close night air; And the sense of her clinging flesh was sweet Where her arms and my neck's thick pulse could meet. Holding her thus, could I care That the black night hid her from me, blotted out every speck? I leaned in the darkness to find her lips And claim her utterly in a kiss, When the lightning flew across her face And I saw her for the flaring space Of a second, like snow that slips From a roof, inert with death, weeping "Not this! Not this!" A moment there, like snow in the dark Her face lay pale against my breast, Pale love lost in a thaw of fear And melted in an icy tear, And open lips, distressed; A moment; then darkness shut the lid of the sacred ark. And I heard the thunder, and felt the rain, And my arms fell loose, and I was dumb. Almost I hated her, sacrificed; Hated myself, and the place, and the iced Rain that burnt on my rage; saying: Come Home, come home, the lightning has made it too plain!
Now I am come again, to you who have so desired My coming, why do you look away from me? Why burns your cheek against me? how have I inspired Such anger as sets your mouth unwontedly? Now here I sit while you break the music beneath Your bow; for broken it is, and hurting to hear. Cease then from music! Does anguish of absence bequeath But barbed aloofness when I would draw near?
Since I lost you, I am silence-haunted; Sounds wave their little wings A moment, then in weariness settle On the flood that soundless swings. Whether the people in the street Like pattering ripples go by, Or whether the theatre sighs and sighs With a loud, hoarse sigh: Or the wind shakes a ravel of light Over the dead-black river, Or last night's echoing Makes the daybreak shiver: I feel the silence waiting To take them all up again, In its last completeness drinking Down the noise of men.
I listen to the stillness of you, My dear, among it all; I feel your silence touch my words as I talk, And hold them in thrall. My words fly off a forge The length of a spark; I see the silence easily sip them Up in the dark. The lark sings loud and glad, Yet I am not loth That silence should take the song and the bird And lose them both. A train goes roaring south, The steam-flag flying; I see the stealthy shadow of silence Alongside going. And off the forge of the world Whirling in the draught of life Go myriad sparks of people, filling The night with strife. Yet they never change the darkness Nor blench it with noise; Alone on the perfect silence The stars are buoys.
The dawn was apple-green, The sky was green wine held up in the sun, The moon was a golden petal between. She opened her eyes, and green They shone, clear like flowers undone For the first time, now for the first time seen.
By the Isar, in the twilight We were wandering and singing, By the Isar, in the evening We climbed the huntsman's ladder and sat swinging In the fir tree overlooking the marshes, While river met with river, and the ringing Of their pale-green glacier water filled the evening. By the Isar, in the twilight We found the dark wild roses Hanging red at the river; and simmering Frogs were singing, and over the river closes Was savour of ice and of roses; and glimmering Fear was abroad. We whispered: "No one knows us. Let it be as the snake disposes Here in this simmering marsh."
When she rises in the morning I linger to watch her; She spreads the bath-cloth underneath the window And the sunbeams catch her Glistening white on the shoulders, While down her sides the mellow Golden shadow glows as She stoops to the sponge, and her swung breasts Sway like full-blown yellow Gloire de Dijon roses. She drips herself with water, and her shoulders Glisten as silver, they crumple up Like wet and falling roses, and I listen For the sluicing of their rain-dishevelled petals. In the window full of sunlight Concentrates her golden shadow Fold on fold, until it glows as Mellow as the glory roses.
There are only two things now, The great black night scooped out And this fireglow. This fireglow, the core, And we the two ripe pips That are held in store. Listen, the darkness rings As it circulates round our fire. Take off your things. Your shoulders, your bruised throat, Your breasts, your nakedness! This fiery coat! As the darkness flickers and dips, As the firelight falls and leaps From your feet to your lips!
The listless beauty of the hour When snow fell on the apple trees And the wood-ash gathered in the fire And we faced our first miseries. Then the sweeping sunshine of noon When the mountains like chariot cars Were ranked to blue battle—and you and I Counted our scars. And then in a strange, grey hour We lay mouth to mouth, with your face Under mine like a star on the lake, And I covered the earth, and all space. The silent, drifting hours Of morn after morn And night drifting up to the night Yet no pathway worn. Your life, and mine, my love Passing on and on, the hate Fusing closer and closer with love Till at length they mate.
Fidelity and love are two different things, like a flower and a gem. And love, like a flower, will fade, will change into something else or it would not be flowery. O flowers, they fade because they are moving swiftly; a little torrent of life leaps up to the summit of the stem, gleams, turns over round the bend of the parabola of curved flight, sinks, and is gone, like a comet curving into the invisible. O flowers they are all the time travelling like comets, and they come into our ken for a day, for two days, and withdraw, slowly vanish again. And we, we must take them on the wing, and let them go. Embalmed flowers are not flowers, immortelles are not flowers; flowers are just a motion, a swift motion, a coloured gesture; that is their loveliness. And that is love. But a gem is different. It lasts so much longer than we do so much much much much longer that it seems to last forever. Yet we know it is flowing away as flowers are, and we are, only slower. The wonderful slow flowing of the sapphire! All flows, and every flow is related to every other flow. Flowers and sapphires and us, diversely streaming. In the old days, when sapphires were breathed upon and brought forth during the wild orgasms of chaos time was much slower, when the rocks came forth. It took aeons to make a sapphire, aeons for it to pass away. And a flower it takes a summer. And man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth flowers in summer, and love, but underneath is rock. Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than foraminiferae, older than plasm altogether is the soul of a man underneath. And when, throughout all the wild orgasms of love slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more-molten rocks of two human hearts, two ancient rocks, a man's heart and a woman's, that is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust, the sapphire of fidelity. The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.
No one, not even God, can put back a leaf on to a tree once it has fallen off. And no one, not God nor Christ nor any other, can put back a human life into connection with the living cosmos once the connection has been broken and the person has become finally self-centred. Death alone, through the long process of disintegration, can melt the detached life back through the dark Hades at the roots of the tree into the circulating sap, once more, of the tree of life.
Calm and strange is this evening hour in the forest, Carven domes of green are the trees by the pathway, Infinite shadowy isles lie silent before me, Summer is heavy with age, and leans upon Autumn. All the land is ripe. There is no motion Down the long bays of blue that those cloudy headlands Sleep above in the glow of a fading sunset; All things rest in the will of purpose triumphant. Outlines melting into a vague immensity Fade, the green gloom grows darker, and deeper the dusk: Hark! a voice and laughter—the living and loving Down these fantastic avenues pass like shadows.
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees Is my destroyer. And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose My youth is bent by the same wintry fever. The force that drives the water through the rocks Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams Turns mine to wax. And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks. The hand that whirls the water in the pool Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind Hauls my shroud sail. And I am dumb to tell the hanging man How of my clay is made the hangman's lime. The lips of time leech to the fountain head; Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood Shall calm her sores. And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind How time has ticked a heaven round the stars. And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.
Where once the waters of your face Spun to my screws, your dry ghost blows, The dead turns up its eye; Where once the mermen through your ice Pushed up their hair, the dry wind steers Through salt and root and roe. Where once your green knots sank their splice Into the tided cord, there goes The green unraveller, His scissors oiled, his knife hung loose To cut the channels at their source And lay the wet fruits low. Invisible, your clocking tides Break on the lovebeds of the weeds; The weed of love's left dry; There round about your stones the shades Of children go who, from their voids, Cry to the dolphined sea. Dry as a tomb, your coloured lids Shall not be latched while magic glides Sage on the earth and sky; There shall be corals in your beds, There shall be serpents in your tides, Till all our sea-faiths die.
Especially when the October wind With frosty fingers punishes my hair, Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire And cast a shadow crab upon the land, By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds, Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks, My busy heart who shudders as she talks Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words. Shut, too, in a tower of words, I mark On the horizon walking like the trees The wordy shapes of women, and the rows Of the star-gestured children in the park. Some let me make you of the vowelled beeches, Some of the oaken voices, from the roots Of many a thorny shire tell you notes, Some let me make you of the water's speeches. Behind a pot of ferns the wagging clock Tells me the hour's word, the neural meaning Flies on the shafted disc, declaims the morning And tells the windy weather in the cock. Some let me make you of the meadow's signs; The signal grass that tells me all I know Breaks with the wormy winter through the eye. Some let me tell you of the raven's sins. Especially when the October wind (Some let me make you of autumnal spells, The spider-tongued, and the loud hill of Wales) With fist of turnips punishes the land, Some let me make of you the heartless words. The heart is drained that, spelling in the scurry Of chemic blood, warned of the coming fury. By the sea's side hear the dark-vowelled birds.
When, like a running grave, time tracks you down, Your calm and cuddled is a scythe of hairs, Love in her gear is slowly through the house, Up naked stairs, a turtle in a hearse, Hauled to the dome, Comes, like a scissors stalking, tailor age, Deliver me who, timid in my tribe, Of love am barer than Cadaver's trap Robbed of the foxy tongue, his footed tape Of the bone inch, Deliver me, my masters, head and heart, Heart of Cadaver's candle waxes thin, When blood, spade-handed, and the logic time Drive children up like bruises to the thumb, From maid and head, For, sunday faced, with dusters in my glove, Chaste and the chaser, man with the cockshut eye, I, that time's jacket or the coat of ice May fail to fasten with a virgin o In the straight grave, Stride through Cadaver's country in my force, My pickbrain masters morsing on the stone Despair of blood, faith in the maiden's slime, Halt among eunuchs, and the nitric stain On fork and face. Time is a foolish fancy, time and fool. No, no, you lover skull, descending hammer Descends, my masters, on the entered honour. You hero skull, Cadaver in the hangar Tells the stick, 'fail.' Joy is no knocking nation, sir and madam, The cancer's fashion, or the summer feather Lit on the cuddled tree, the cross of fever, Not city tar and subway bored to foster Man through macadam. I damp the waxlights in your tower dome. Joy is the knock of dust, Cadaver's shoot Of bud of Adam through his boxy shift, Love's twilit nation and the skull of state, Sir, is your doom. Everything ends, the tower ending and, (Have with the house of wind), the leaning scene, Ball of the foot depending from the sun, (Give, summer, over), the cemented skin, The actions' end. All, men my madmen, the unwholesome wind With whistler's cough contages, time on track Shapes in a cinder death; love for his trick, Happy Cadaver's hunger as you take The kissproof world.
From love's first fever to her plague, from the soft second And to the hollow minute of the womb, From the unfolding to the scissored caul, The time for breast and the green apron age When no mouth stirred about the hanging famine, All world was one, one windy nothing, My world was christened in a stream of milk. And earth and sky were as one airy hill, The sun and moon shed one white light. From the first print of the unshodden foot, the lifting Hand, the breaking of the hair, And to the miracle of the first rounded word, From the first secret of the heart, the warning ghost, And to the first dumb wonder at the flesh, The sun was red, the moon was grey, The earth and sky were as two mountains meeting. The body prospered, teeth in the marrowed gums, The growing bones, the rumour of the manseed Within the hallowed gland, blood blessed the heart, And the four winds, that had long blown as one, Shone in my ears the light of sound, Called in my eyes the sound of light. And yellow was the multiplying sand, Each golden grain spat life into its fellow, Green was the singing house. The plum my mother picked matured slowly, The boy she dropped from darkness at her side Into the sided lap of light grew strong, Was muscled, matted, wise to the crying thigh And to the voice that, like a voice of hunger, Itched in the noise of wind and sun. And from the first declension of the flesh I learnt man's tongue, to twist the shapes of thoughts Into the stony idiom of the brain, To shade and knit anew the patch of words Left by the dead who, in their moonless acre, Need no word's warmth. The root of tongues ends in a spentout cancer, That but a name, where maggots have their X. I learnt the verbs of will, and had my secret; The code of night tapped on my tongue; What had been one was many sounding minded. One womb, one mind, spewed out the matter, One breast gave suck the fever's issue; From the divorcing sky I learnt the double, The two-framed globe that spun into a score; A million minds gave suck to such a bud As forks my eye; Youth did condense; the tears of spring Dissolved in summer and the hundred seasons; One sun, one manna, warmed and fed.
In the beginning was the three-pointed star, One smile of light across the empty face; One bough of bone across the rooting air, The substance forked that marrowed the first sun; And, burning ciphers on the round of space, Heaven and hell mixed as they spun. In the beginning was the pale signature, Three-syllabled and starry as the smile; And after came the imprints on the water, Stamp of the minted face upon the moon; The blood that touched the crosstree and the grail Touched the first cloud and left a sign. In the beginning was the mounting fire That set alight the weathers from a spark, A three-eyed, red-eyed spark, blunt as a flower; Life rose and spouted from the rolling seas, Burst in the roots, pumped from the earth and rock The secret oils that drive the grass. In the beginning was the word, the word That from the solid bases of the light Abstracted all the letters of the void; And from the cloudy bases of the breath The word flowed up, translating to the heart First characters of birth and death. In the beginning was the secret brain. The brain was celled and soldered in the thought Before the pitch was forking to a sun; Before the veins were shaking in their sieve, Blood shot and scattered to the winds of light The ribbed original of love.
Light breaks where no sun shines; Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart Push in their tides; And, broken ghosts with glow-worms in their heads, The things of light File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones. A candle in the thighs Warms youth and seed and burns the seeds of age; Where no seed stirs, The fruit of man unwrinkles in the stars, Bright as a fig; Where no wax is, the candle shows its hairs. Dawn breaks behind the eyes; From poles of skull and toe the windy blood Slides like a sea; Nor fenced, nor staked, the gushers of the sky Spout to the rod Divining in a smile the oil of tears. Night in the sockets rounds, Like some pitch moon, the limit of the globes; Day lights the bone; Where no cold is, the skinning gales unpin The winter's robes; The film of spring is hanging from the lids. Light breaks on secret lots, On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain; When logics die, The secret of the soil grows through the eye, And blood jumps in the sun; Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.
I fellowed sleep who kissed me in the brain, Let fall the tear of time; the sleeper's eye, Shifting to light, turned on me like a moon. So, 'planning-heeled, I flew along my man And dropped on dreaming and the upward sky. I fled the earth and, naked, climbed the weather, Reaching a second ground far from the stars; And there we wept, I and a ghostly other, My mothers-eyed, upon the tops of trees; I fled that ground as lightly as a feather. 'My fathers' globe knocks on its nave and sings.' 'This that we tread was, too, your father's land.' 'But this we tread bears the angelic gangs, Sweet are their fathered faces in their wings.' 'These are but dreaming men. Breathe, and they fade.' Faded my elbow ghost, the mothers-eyed, As, blowing on the angels, I was lost On that cloud coast to each grave-grabbing shade; I blew the dreaming fellows to their bed Where still they sleep unknowing of their ghost. Then all the matter of the living air Raised up a voice, and, climbing on the words, I spelt my vision with a hand and hair, How light the sleeping on this soily star, How deep the waking in the worlded clouds. There grows the hours' ladder to the sun, Each rung a love or losing to the last, The inches monkeyed by the blood of man. An old, mad man still climbing in his ghost, My fathers' ghost is climbing in the rain.
I dreamed my genesis in sweat of sleep, breaking Through the rotating shell, strong As motor muscle on the drill, driving Through vision and the girdered nerve. From limbs that had the measure of the worm, shuffled Off from the creasing flesh, filed Through all the irons in the grass, metal Of suns in the man-melting night. Heir to the scalding veins that hold love's drop, costly A creature in my bones I Rounded my globe of heritage, journey In bottom gear through night-geared man. I dreamed my genesis and died again, shrapnel Rammed in the marching heart, hole In the stitched wound and clotted wind, muzzled Death on the mouth that ate the gas. Sharp in my second death I marked the hills, harvest Of hemlock and the blades, rust My blood upon the tempered dead, forcing My second struggling from the grass. And power was contagious in my birth, second Rise of the skeleton and Rerobing of the naked ghost. Manhood Spat up from the resuffered pain. I dreamed my genesis in sweat of death, fallen Twice in the feeding sea, grown Stale of Adam's brine until, vision Of new man strength, I seek the sun.
This bread I break was once the oat, This wine upon a foreign tree Plunged in its fruit; Man in the day or wind at night Laid the crops low, broke the grape's joy. Once in this wine the summer blood Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine, Once in this bread The oat was merry in the wind; Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down. This flesh you break, this blood you let Make desolation in the vein, Were oat and grape Born of the sensual root and sap; My wine you drink, my bread you snap.
Out of the sighs a little comes, But not of grief, for I have knocked down that Before the agony; the spirit grows, Forgets, and cries; A little comes, is tasted and found good; All could not disappoint; There must, be praised, some certainty, If not of loving well, then not, And that is true after perpetual defeat. After such fighting as the weakest know, There's more than dying; Lose the great pains or stuff the wound, He'll ache too long Through no regret of leaving woman waiting For her soldier stained with spilt words That spill such acrid blood. Were that enough, enough to ease the pain, Feeling regret when this is wasted That made me happy in the sun, How much was happy while it lasted, Were vagueness enough and the sweet lies plenty, The hollow words could bear all suffering And cure me of ills. Were that enough, bone, blood, and sinew, The twisted brain, the fair-formed loin, Groping for matter under the dog's plate, Man should be cured of distemper. For all there is to give I offer: Crumbs, barn, and halter.
Now Say nay, Man dry man, Dry lover mine The deadrock base and blow the flowered anchor, Should he, for centre sake, hop in the dust, Forsake, the fool, the hardiness of anger. Now Say nay, Sir no say, Death to the yes, The yes to death, the yesman and the answer, Should he who split his children with a cure Have brotherless his sister on the handsaw. Now Say nay, No say sir Yea the dead stir, And this, nor this, is shade, the landed crow, He lying low with ruin in his ear, The cockerel's tide upcasting from the fire. Now Say nay, So star fall, So the ball fail, So solve the mystic sun, the wife of light, The sun that leaps on petals through a nought, The come-a-cropper rider of the flower. Now Say nay A fig for The seal of fire, Death hairy-heeled, and the tapped ghost in wood, We make me mystic as the arm of air, The two-a-vein, the foreskin, and the cloud.
It is the sinners' dust-tongued bell claps me to churches When, with his torch and hourglass, like a sulphur priest, His beast heel cleft in a sandal, Time marks a black aisle kindle from the brand of ashes, Grief with dishevelled hands tear out the altar ghost And a firewind kill the candle. Over the choir minute I hear the hour chant: Time's coral saint and the salt grief drown a foul sepulchre And a whirlpool drives the prayerwheel; Moonfall and sailing emperor, pale as their tideprint, Hear by death's accident the clocked and dashed-down spire Strike the sea hour through bellmetal. There is loud and dark directly under the dumb flame, Storm, snow, and fountain in the weather of fireworks, Cathedral calm in the pulled house; Grief with drenched book and candle christens the cherub time From the emerald, still bell; and from the pacing weather-cock The voice of bird on coral prays. Forever it is a white child in the dark-skinned summer Out of the font of bone and plants at that stone tocsin Scales the blue wall of spirits; From blank and leaking winter sails the child in colour, Shakes, in crabbed burial shawl, by sorcerer's insect woken, Ding dong from the mute turrets. I mean by time the cast and curfew rascal of our marriage, At nightbreak born in the fat side, from an animal bed In a holy room in a wave; And all love's sinners in sweet cloth kneel to a hyleg image, Nutmeg, civet, and sea-parsley serve the plagued groom and bride Who have brought forth the urchin grief.
(In memory of Ann Jones)
After the funeral, mule praises, brays, Windshake of sailshaped ears, muffle-toed tap Tap happily of one peg in the thick Grave's foot, blinds down the lids, the teeth in black, The spittled eyes, the salt ponds in the sleeves, Morning smack of the spade that wakes up sleep, Shakes a desolate boy who slits his throat In the dark of the coffin and sheds dry leaves, That breaks one bone to light with a judgment clout, After the feast of tear-stuffed time and thistles In a room with a stuffed fox and a stale fern, I stand, for this memorial's sake, alone In the snivelling hours with dead, humped Ann Whose hooded, fountain heart once fell in puddles Round the parched worlds of Wales and drowned each sun (Though this for her is a monstrous image blindly Magnified out of praise; her death was a still drop; She would not have me sinking in the holy Flood of her heart's fame; she would lie dumb and deep And need no druid of her broken body). But I, Ann's bard on a raised hearth, call all The seas to service that her wood-tongued virtue Babble like a bellbuoy over the hymning heads, Bow down the walls of the ferned and foxy woods That her love sing and swing through a brown chapel, Bless her bent spirit with four, crossing birds. Her flesh was meek as milk, but this skyward statue With the wild breast and blessed and giant skull Is carved from her in a room with a wet window In a fiercely mourning house in a crooked year. I know her scrubbed and sour humble hands Lie with religion in their cramp, her threadbare Whisper in a damp word, her wits drilled hollow, Her fist of a face died clenched on a round pain; And sculptured Ann is seventy years of stone. These cloud-sopped, marble hands, this monumental Argument of the hewn voice, gesture and psalm, Storm me forever over her grave until The stuffed lung of the fox twitch and cry Love And the strutting fern lay seeds on the black sill.
Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green, The night above the dingle starry, Time let me hail and climb Golden in the heydays of his eyes, And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves Trail with daisies and barley Down the rivers of the windfall light. And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home, In the sun that is young once only, Time let me play and be Golden in the mercy of his means, And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold, And the sabbath rang slowly In the pebbles of the holy streams. All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air And playing, lovely and watery And fire green as grass. And nightly under the simple stars As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away, All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars Flying with the ricks, and the horses Flashing into the dark. And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all Shining, it was Adam and maiden, The sky gathered again And the sun grew round that very day. So it must have been after the birth of the simple light In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm Out of the whinnying green stable On to the fields of praise. And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long, In the sun born over and over, I ran my heedless ways, My wishes raced through the house high hay And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs Before the children green and golden Follow him out of grace, Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand, In the moon that is always rising, Nor that riding to sleep I should hear him fly with the high fields And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land. Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means, Time held me green and dying Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
I Never and never, my girl riding far and near In the land of the hearthstone tales, and spelled asleep, Fear or believe that the wolf in a sheepwhite hood Loping and bleating roughly and blithely shall leap, My dear, my dear, Out of a lair in the flocked leaves in the dew dipped year To eat your heart in the house in the rosy wood. Sleep, good, for ever, slow and deep, spelled rare and wise, My girl ranging the night in the rose and shire Of the hobnail tales: no gooseherd or swine will turn Into a homestall king or hamlet of fire And prince of ice To court the honeyed heart from your side before sunrise In a spinney of ringed boys and ganders, spike and burn, Nor the innocent lie in the rooting dingle wooed And staved, and riven among plumes my rider weep. From the broomed witch's spume you are shielded by fern And flower of country sleep and the greenwood keep. Lie fast and soothed, Safe be and smooth from the bellows of the rushy brood. Never, my girl, until tolled to sleep by the stern Bell believe or fear that the rustic shade or spell Shall harrow and snow the blood while you ride wide and near, For who unmanningly haunts the mountain ravened eaves Or skulks in the dell moon but moonshine echoing clear From the starred well? A hill touches an angel! Out of a saint's cell The nightbird lauds through nunneries and domes of leaves Her robin breasted tree, three Marys in the rays. Sanctum sanctorum the animal eye of the wood In the rain telling its beads, and the gravest ghost The owl at its knelling. Fox and holt kneel before blood. Now the tales praise The star rise at pasture and nightlong the fables graze On the lord's-table of the bowing grass. Fear most For ever of all not the wolf in his baaing hood Nor the tusked prince, in the ruttish farm, at the rind And mire of love, but the Thief as meek as the dew. The country is holy: O bide in that country kind, Know the green good, Under the prayer wheeling moon in the rosy wood Be shielded by chant and flower and gay may you Lie in grace. Sleep spelled at rest in the lowly house In the squirrel nimble grove, under linen and thatch And star: held and blessed, though you scour the high four Winds, from the dousing shade and the roarer at the latch, Cool in your vows. Yet out of the beaked, web dark and the pouncing boughs Be you sure the Thief will seek a way sly and sure And sly as snow and meek as dew blown to the thorn, This night and each vast night until the stern bell talks In the tower and tolls to sleep over the stalls Of the hearthstone tales my own, last love; and the soul walks The waters shorn. This night and each night since the falling star you were born, Ever and ever he finds a way, as the snow falls, As the rain falls, hail on the fleece, as the vale mist rides Through the haygold stalls, as the dew falls on the wind Milled dust of the apple tree and the pounded islands Of the morning leaves, as the star falls, as the winged Apple seed glides, And falls, and flowers in the yawning wound at our sides, As the world falls, silent as the cyclone of silence. II Night and the reindeer on the clouds above the haycocks And the wings of the great roc ribboned for the fair! The leaping saga of prayer! And high, there, on the hare Heeled winds the rooks Cawing from their black bethels soaring, the holy books Of birds! Among the cocks like fire the red fox Burning! Night and the vein of birds in the winged, sloe wrist Of the wood! Pastoral beat of blood through the laced leaves! The stream from the priest black wristed spinney and sleeves Of thistling frost Of the nightingale's din and tale! The upgiven ghost Of the dingle torn to singing and the surpliced Hill of cypresses! The din and tale in the skimmed Yard of the buttermilk rain on the pail! The sermon Of blood! The bird loud vein! The saga from mermen To seraphim Leaping! The gospel rooks! All tell, this night, of him Who comes as red as the fox and sly as the heeled wind. Illumination of music! The lulled black backed Gull, on the wave with sand in its eyes! And the foal moves Through the shaken greensward lake, silent, on moonshod hooves, In the winds' wakes. Music of elements, that a miracle makes! Earth, air, water, fire, singing into the white act, The haygold haired, my love asleep, and the rift blue Eyed, in the haloed house, in her rareness and hilly High riding, held and blessed and true, and so stilly Lying the sky Might cross its planets, the bell weep, night gather her eyes, The Thief fall on the dead like the willy-nilly dew, Only for the turning of the earth in her holy Heart! Slyly, slowly, hearing the wound in her side go Round the sun, he comes to my love like the designed snow, And truly he Flows to the strand of flowers like the dew's ruly sea, And surely he sails like the ship shape clouds. Oh he Comes designed to my love to steal not her tide raking Wound, nor her riding high, nor her eyes, nor kindled hair, But her faith that each vast night and the saga of prayer He comes to take Her faith that this last night for his unsacred sake He comes to leave her in the lawless sun awaking Naked and forsaken to grieve he will not come. Ever and ever by all your vows believe and fear My dear this night he comes and night without end my dear Since you were born: And you shall wake, from country sleep, this dawn and each first dawn, Your faith as deathless as the outcry of the ruled sun.
Too proud to die; broken and blind he died The darkest way, and did not turn away, A cold kind man brave in his narrow pride On that darkest day. Oh, forever may He lie lightly, at last, on the last, crossed Hill, under the grass, in love, and there grow Young among the long flocks, and never lie lost Or still all the numberless days of his death, though Above all he longed for his mother's breast Which was rest and dust, and in the kind ground The darkest justice of death, blind and unblessed. Let him find no rest but be fathered and found, I prayed in the crouching room, by his blind bed, In the muted house, one minute before Noon, and night, and light. The rivers of the dead Veined his poor hand I held, and I saw Through his unseeing eyes to the roots of the sea. [An old tormented man three-quarters blind, I am not too pround to cry that He and he Will never never go out of my mind. All his bones crying, and poor in all but pain, Being innocent, he dreaded that he died Hating his God, but what he was was plain: An old kind man brave in his burning pride. The sticks of the house were his; his books he owned. Even as a baby he had never cried; Nor did he now, save to his secret wound. Out of his eyes I saw the last light glide. Here among the light of the lording sky An old blind man is with me where I go Walking in the meadows of his son's eye On whom a world of ills came down like snow. He cried as he died, fearing at last the spheres' Last sound, the world going out without a breath: Too proud to cry, too frail to check the tears, And caught between two nights, blindness and death. O deepest wound of all that he should die On that darkest day. Oh, he could hide The tears out of his eyes, too proud to cry. Until I die he will not leave my side.]