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WHEN I was a beggarly boy,
And lived in a cellar damp,
I had not a friend nor a toy,
But I had Aladdin's lamp;
When I could not sleep for the cold,
I had fire enough in my brain,
And builded, with roofs of gold,
My beautiful castles in Spain!
Since then I have toiled day and night,
I have money and power good store, But I'd give all my lamps of silver bright For the one that is mine no more; Take, Fortune, whatever you choose, You gave, and may snatch again; I have nothing 't would pain me to lose, For I own no more castles in Spain !
TO J[OHN] F[RANCIS] H[EATH]
NINE years have slipt like hour-glass sand
From life's still-emptying globe away,
Since last, dear friend, I clasped your
And stood upon the impoverished land,
Watching the steamer down the bay.
I held the token which you gave,
While slowly the smoke-pennon curled
O'er the vague rim 'tween sky and wave,
And shut the distance like a grave,
Leaving me in the colder world;
The old, worn world of hurry and heat,
The young, fresh world of thought and
While you, where beckoning billows fleet
Climb far sky-beaches still and sweet,
Sank wavering down the ocean-slope.
You sought the new world in the old,
I found the old world in the new,
All that our human hearts can hold,
The inward world of deathless mould,
The same that Father Adam knew.
He needs no ship to cross the tide, Who, in the lives about him, sees Fair window-prospects opening wide
O'er history's fields on every side,
To Ind and Egypt, Rome and Greece.
Whatever moulds of various brain
E'er shaped the world to weal or woe,
Whatever empires' wax and wane,
To him that hath not eyes in vain,
Our village-microcosm can show.
Come back our ancient walks to tread,
Dear haunts of lost or scattered friends,
Old Harvard's scholar-factories red,
Where song and smoke and laughter sped
The nights to proctor-haunted ends.
Constant are all our former loves,
Unchanged the icehouse-girdled pond,
Its hemlock glooms, its shadowy coves,
Where floats the coot and never moves,
Its slopes of long-tamed green beyond.
Our old familiars are not laid,
Though snapt our wands and sunk our
They beckon, not to be gainsaid,
Where, round broad meads that mowers
The Charles his steel-blue sickle crooks.
Where, as the cloudbergs eastward blow, From glow to gloom the hillsides shift Their plumps of orchard-trees arow, Their lakes of rye that wave and flow, Their snowy whiteweed's summer drift.
There have we watched the West unfurl
A cloud Byzantium newly born,
With flickering spires and domes of pearl,
And vapory surfs that crowd and curl
Into the sunset's Golden Horn.
There, as the flaming occident
Burned slowly down to ashes gray,
Night pitched o'erhead her silent tent,
And glimmering gold from Hesper sprent
Upon the darkened river lay,
Where a twin sky but just before
Deepened, and double swallows skimmed,
And from a visionary shore
Hung visioned trees, that more and more Grew dusk as those above were dimmed.
Then eastward saw we slowly grow Clear-edged the lines of roof and spire,
While great elm-masses blacken slow, And linden-ricks their round heads show Against a flush of widening fire.
Doubtful at first and far away,
The moon-flood creeps more wide and wide;
Up a ridged beach of cloudy gray,
Curved round the east as round a bay,
It slips and spreads its gradual tide.
Then suddenly, in lurid mood,
The disk looms large o'er town and field
As upon Adam, red like blood,
"Tween him and Eden's happy wood,
Glared the commissioned angel's shield.
Or let us seek the seaside, there
To wander idly as we list,
Whether, on rocky headlands bare,
Sharp cedar-horns, like breakers, tear
The trailing fringes of gray mist,
Or whether, under skies full flown,
The brightening surfs, with foamy din,
Their breeze-caught forelocks backward
Against the beach's yellow zone
Curl slow, and plunge forever in.
And, as we watch those canvas towers
That lean along the horizon's rim,
"Sail on," I'll say; "may sunniest hours
Convoy you from this land of ours,
Since from my side you bear not him!"
For years thrice three, wise Horace said,
A poem rare let silence bind ;
And love may ripen in the shade,
Like ours, for nine long seasons laid
In deepest arches of the mind.
Come back! Not ours the Old World's good,
The Old World's ill, thank God, not ours;
But here, far better understood,
The days enforce our native mood,
And challenge all our manlier powers.
Kindlier to me the place of birth
That first my tottering footsteps trod ;
There may be fairer spots of earth,
But all their glories are not worth
The virtue in the native sod.
WHAT Nature makes in any mood
To me is warranted for good,
Though long before I learned to see
She did not set us moral theses,
And scorned to have her sweet caprices
Strait-waistcoated in you or me.
I, who take root and firmly cling,
Thought fixedness the only thing;
Why Nature made the butterflies,
(Those dreams of wings that float and
At noon the slumberous poppies over,)
Was something hidden from mine eyes,
Till once, upon a rock's brown bosom,
Bright as a thorny cactus-blossom,
I saw a butterfly at rest;
Then first of both I felt the beauty;
The airy whim, the grim-set duty,
Each from the other took its best.
Clearer it grew than winter sky
That Nature still had reasons why;
And, shifting sudden as a breeze,
My fancy found no satisfaction,
No antithetic sweet attraction,
So great as in the Nomades.
Scythians, with Nature not at strife,
Light Arabs of our complex life,
They build no houses, plant no mills
To utilize Time's sliding river,
Content that it flow waste forever,
If they, like it, may have their wills.
An hour they pitch their shifting tents
In thoughts, in feelings, and events;
Beneath the palm-trees, on the grass,
They sing, they dance, make love, and
Vex the grim temples with their clatter, And make Truth's fount their lookingglass.
A picnic life; from love to love,
From faith to faith they lightly move,
And yet, hard-eyed philosopher,
The flightiest maid that ever hovered
To me your thought-webs fine discovered,
No lens to see them through like her.
So witchingly her finger-tips
To Wisdom, as away she trips,
She kisses, waves such sweet farewells
To Duty, as she laughs "To-morrow!"
That both from that mad contrast borrow
A perfectness found nowhere else.
The beach-bird on its pearly verge
Follows and flies the whispering surge,
While, in his tent, the rock-stayed shell
Awaits the flood's star-timed vibrations,
And both, the flutter and the patience,
The sauntering poet loves them well.
Fulfil so much of God's decree
As works its problem out in thee,
Nor dream that in thy breast alone
The conscience of the changeful seasons,
The Will that in the planets reasons
With space-wide logic, has its throne.
Thy virtue makes not vice of mine,
Unlike, but none the less divine;
Thy toil adorns, not chides, my play ;
Nature of sameness is so chary,
With such wild whim the freakish fairy
Picks presents for the christening-day.
A PRESENCE both by night and day,
That made my life seem just begun,
Yet scarce a presence, rather say
The warning aureole of one.
And yet I felt it everywhere;
Walked I the woodland's aisles along. It seemed to brush me with its hair; Bathed I, I heard a mermaid's song.
How sweet it was! A buttercup Could hold for me a day's delight, A bird could lift my fancy up
To ether free from cloud or blight.
Who was the nymph? Nay, I will see,
Methought, and I will know her near;
If such, divined, her charm can be,
Seen and possessed, how triply dear!
So every magic art I tried,
And spells as numberless as sand, Until, one evening, by my side
I saw her glowing fulness stand.
I turned to clasp her, but " Farewell," Parting she sighed, "we meet no more; Not by my hand the curtain fell
That leaves you conscious, wise, and poor.
"Since you have found me out, I go;
Another lover I must find,
Content his happiness to know,
Nor strive its secret to unwind."
In 1854 Lowell contributed to The Crayon, then just started by W. J. Stillman, a poem, My Appledore Gallery, which reappears in part in the following poem under a slightly changed title. In sending the first portion to Mr. Stillman, he wrote: "You may add a note, if you like, saying that Appledore is one of the Isles of Shoals, off Portsmouth, N. H., discovered by the great Captain Smith, and once named after him. A cairn on the apex of Appledore is said to be of his building."
Ribs of rock that seaward jut,
Granite shoulders and boulders and snags,
Round which, though the winds in heaven
The nightmared ocean murmurs and yearns,
Welters, and swashes, and tosses, and turns,
And the dreary black seaweed lolls and
Only rock from shore to shore,
Only a moan through the bleak clefts blown,
With sobs in the rifts where the coarse kelp shifts,
Falling and lifting, tossing and drifting,
And under all a deep, dull roar,
Dying and swelling, forevermore,
Rock and moan and roar alone,
And the dread of some nameless thing unknown,
These make Appledore.
These make Appledore by night:
Then there are monsters left and right;
Every rock is a different monster;
All you have read of, fancied, dreamed,
When you waked at night because you
There they lie for half a mile,
Jumbled together in a pile,
And (though you know they never once stir)
If you look long, they seem to be moving
Just as plainly as plain can be,
Crushing and crowding, wading and shov-
Out into the awful sea,
Where you can hear them snort and spout With pauses between, as if they were listening,
Then tumult anon when the surf breaks glistening
In the blackness where they wallow about.
All this you would scarcely comprehend,
Should you see the isle on a sunny day;
Then it is simple enough in its way,
Two rocky bulges, one at each end,
With a smaller bulge and a hollow between;
Patches of whortleberry and bay;
Accidents of open green,
Sprinkled with loose slabs square and gray,
Like graveyards for ages deserted; a few
Unsocial thistles; an elder or two,
Foamed over with blossoms white as spray;
And on the whole island never a tree
Save a score of sumachs, high as your knee,
That crouch in hollows where they may,
(The cellars where once stood a village,
Huddling for warmth, and never grew
Tall enough for a peep at the sea;
A general dazzle of open blue;
A breeze always blowing and playing rat
With the bow of the ribbon round your hat;
A score of sheep that do nothing but stare
Up or down at you everywhere;
Three or four cattle that chew the cud
Lying about in a listless despair;
A medrick that makes you look overhead With short, sharp scream, as he sights his prey,
And, dropping straight and swift as lead, Splits the water with sudden thud; — This is Appledore by day.
A common island, you will say;
But stay a moment: only climb
Up to the highest rock of the isle,
Stand there alone for a little while,
And with gentle approaches it grows sub-
Dilating slowly as you win
A sense from the silence to take it in.
So wide the loneness, so lucid the air,
The granite beneath you so savagely bare,
You well might think you were looking
From some sky-silenced mountain's crown,
Whose waist-belt of pines is wont to tear
Locks of wool from the topmost cloud.
Only be sure you go alone,
For Grandeur is inaccessibly proud,
And never yet has backward thrown
Her veil to feed the stare of a crowd;
To more than one was never shown
That awful front, nor is it fit
That she, Cothurnus-shod, stand bowed
Until the self-approving pit
Enjoy the gust of its own wit
In babbling plaudits cheaply loud;
She hides her mountains and her sea
From the harriers of scenery,
Who hunt down sunsets, and huddle and bay,
Mouthing and mumbling the dying day.
Trust me, 't is something to be cast
Face to face with one's Self at last,
To be taken out of the fuss and strife,
The endless clatter of plate and knife,
The bore of books and the bores of the
From the singular mess we agree to call
Where that is best which the most fools
And planted firm on one's own two feet So nigh to the great warm heart of God, You almost seem to feel it beat
Down from the sunshine and up from the sod;
To be compelled, as it were, to notice
All the beautiful changes and chances
Through which the landscape flits and
And to see how the face of common day
Is written all over with tender histories,
When you study it that intenser way
In which a lover looks at his mistress.
Till now you dreamed not what could be done
With a bit of rock and a ray of sun;
But look, how fade the lights and shades
Of keen bare edge and crevice deep!
How doubtfully it fades and fades,
And glows again, yon craggy steep,
O'er which, through color's dreamiest
The musing sunbeams pause and creep!
Now pink it blooms, now glimmers gray,
Now shadows to a filmy blue,
Tries one, tries all, and will not stay,
But flits from opal hue to hue,
And runs through every tenderest range
Of change that seems not to be change,
So rare the sweep, so nice the art,
That lays no stress on any part,
But shifts and lingers and persuades;
So soft that sun-brush in the west,
That asks no costlier pigments' aids,
But mingling knobs, flaws, angles, dints,
Indifferent of worst or best,
Enchants the cliffs with wraiths and hints
And gracious preludings of tints,
Where all seems fixed, yet all evades,
And indefinably pervades
Perpetual movement with perpetual rest!
Away northeast is Boone Island light;
You might mistake it for a ship,
Only it stands too plumb upright,
And like the others does not slip
Behind the sea's unsteady brink;
Though, if a cloud-shade chance to dip
Upon it a moment, 't will suddenly sink,
Levelled and lost in the darkened main,
Till the sun builds it suddenly up again,
As if with a rub of Aladdin's lamp.
On the mainland you see a misty camp
Of mountains pitched tumultuously:
That one looming so long and large
Is Saddleback, and that point you see
Over yon low and rounded marge,
Like the boss of a sleeping giant's targe
Laid over his breast, is Ossipee;
That shadow there may be Kearsarge;
That must be Great Haystack; I love
Wherewith the lonely farmer tames
Nature to mute companionship
With his own mind's domestic mood,
And strives the surly world to clip
In the arms of familiar habitude.
"T is well he could not contrive to make
A Saxon of Agamenticus:
He glowers there to the north of us,
Wrapt in his blanket of blue haze,
Unconvertibly savage, and scorns to take
The white man's baptism or his ways.
Him first on shore the coaster divines
Through the early gray, and sees him