Poems from Manuscripts
Circa 1891 1898
To a Hero-Worshipper
My life is then a wasted ereme,
My song but idle wind
Because you merely find
In all this woven wealth of rhyme
Harsh figures with harsh music wound,
The uncouth voice of gorgeous birds,
A ruby carcanet of sound,
A cloud of lovely words?
I am, you say, no magic rod,
No cry oracular,
No swart and ominous star,
No Sinai thunder voicing God.
I have no burden to my song,
No smouldering word instinct with fire,
No spell to chase triumphant wrong,
No spirit-sweet desire.
Mine is not Byron's lightning spear,
Nor Wordsworth's lucid strain
Nor Shelley's lyric pain,
Nor Keats', the poet without peer.
I by the Indian waters vast
Did glimpse the magic of the past,
And on the oaten pipe I play
Warped echoes of an earlier day.
My friend, when first my spirit woke,
I trod the scented maze
Of Fancy's myriad ways,
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I studied Nature like a book
Men rack for meanings: yet I find
No rubric in the scarlet rose,
No moral in the murmuring wind,
No message in the snows.
For me the daisy shines a star,
The crocus flames a spire,
A horn of golden fire,
Narcissus glows a silver bar:
Cowslips, the golden breath of God,
I deem the poet's heritage,
And lilies silvering the sod
Breathe fragrance from his page.
No herald of the sun am I
But in a moonlit vale
A russet nightingale
Who pours sweet song, he knows not why,
Who pours like wine a gurgling note
Paining with sound his swarthy throat,
Who pours sweet song he recks not why
Nor hushes ever lest he die.
Ye weeping poplars by the shelvy slope
From murmurous lawns downdropping to the stream
On whom the dusk air like a sombre dream
Broods and a twilight ignorant of hope,
Say what compulsion drear has bid you seam
Your mossy sides with drop on eloquent drop
That in warm rillets from your eyes elope?
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Is it for the too patient, sure decay
Pale-gilded Autumn, aesthete of the years,
A gorgeous death, a fading glory wears
That thus along its tufted, downy way
Creeps slothfully this ooze of amber tears,
And thus with tearful gusts your branches sway
Sighing a requiem to your emerald day?
The Just Man
Where is the man whom hope nor fear can move?
Him the wise Gods approve.
The man divine of motive pure and steadfast will
Unbent to ill,
Whose way is plain nor swerves for power or gold
The high, straight path to hold: —
Him only wise the wise Gods deem, him pure of lust;
Him only just.
Tho' men give rubies, tho' they bring a prize
Sweeter than Helen's eyes —
Yea, costlier things than these things were, they shall not
That man to sin.
Tho' the strong lords of earth his doom desire,
He shall not heed their ire,
Nor shall the numerous commons' stormy voice compel
His heart nor quell.
Tho' Ocean all her purple pride unroll,
It stirs, not shakes his soul.
He sees the billows lift their cowled heads on high
With undimmed eye.
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Pure fields he sees and groves of calm delight;
He turns into the night.
Hell is before; the swords await him; friends betray;
He holds his way.
He shall not fear tho' heaven in lightnings fall
Nor thunder's furious call,
Nor earthquake nor the sea: tho' fire, tho' flood assail,
He shall not quail.
Tho' God tear out the heavens like a page
And break the hills for rage,
Blot out the sun from being and all the great stars quench,
He will not blench.
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