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There if you seek not, and gone if you
That shorten and shorten out of sight, look,
Yet seem on the selfsame spot to stay, Ninety miles off as the eagle flies.
Receding with a motionless motion,
Fading to dubious films of gray, But mountains make not all the shore Lost, dimly found, then vanished wholly, The mainland shows to Appledore;
Will rise again, the great world under, Eight miles the heaving water spreads First films, then towers, then high-heaped To a long, low coast with beaches and
Whose nearing outlines sharpen slowly That run through unimagined mazes, Into tall ships with cobweb shrouds, As the lights and shades and magical hazes That fill long Mongol eyes with wonder, Put them away or bring them near,
Crushing the violet wave to spray Shimmering, sketched out for thirty miles Past some low headland of Cathay; Between two capes that waver like threads, What was that sigh which seemed so near, And sink in the ocean, and reappear, Chilling your fancy to the core ? Crumbled and melted to little isles,
'T is only the sad old sea you hear, With filmy trees, that seem the mere
That seems to seek forevermore
I have seen it when its crags seemed The steepened sand-stripes seem to pour,
frantic, A murmurless vision of cataract;
Butting against the mad Atlantic, You almost fancy you hear a roar,
When surge on surge would beap enorme, Fitful and faint from the distance wander- Cliffs of emerald topped with snow, ing;
That lifted and lifted, and then let go But 't is only the blind old ocean maunder- A great white avalanche of thunder, ing,
A grinding, blinding, deafening ire Raking the shingle to and fro,
Monadnock might have trembled under; Aimlessly clutching and letting go
And the island, whose rock-roots pierce The kelp-haired sedges of Appledore,
below Slipping down with a sleepy forgetting, To where they are warmed with the cenAnd anon his ponderous shoulder setting,
tral fire, With a deep, hoarse pant against Apple- You could feel its granite fibres racked, dore.
As it seemed to plunge with a shudder
Right at the breast of the swooping hill, Eastward as far as the eye can see,
And to rise again snorting a cataract Still eastward, eastward, endlessly, Of rage-froth from every cranny and ledge, The sparkle and tremor of purple sea
While the sea drew its breath in hoarse That rises before you, a flickering hill,
and deep, On and on to the shut of the sky,
And the next vast breaker curled its edge, And beyond, you fancy it sloping until Gathering itself for a mightier leap. The same multitudinous throb and thrill That vibrate under your dizzy eye
North, east, and south there are reefs and In ripples of orange and pink are sent
breakers Where the poppied sails doze on the yard, You would never dream of in smooth And the clumsy junk and proa lie
weather, Sunk deep with precious woods and nard, That toss and gore the sea for acres, 'Mid the palmy isles of the Orient.
Bellowing and gnashing and snarling toThose leaning towers of clouded white
gether; On the farthest brink of doubtful ocean, Look northward, where Duck Island lies,
And over its crown you will see arise, With freaks of shadow and crimson stains; Against a background of slaty skies,
To see the solid mountain brow A row of pillars still and white,
As it notches the disk, and gains and gains, That glimmer, and then are gone from Until there comes, you scarce know when, sight,
A tremble of fire o'er the parted lips As if the moon should suddenly kiss, Of cloud and mountain, which vanishes; While you crossed the gusty desert by
From the body of day the sun-soul slips The long colonnades of Persepolis;
And the face of earth darkens; but now the Look southward for White Island light,
strips The lantern stands ninety feet o'er the Of western vapor, straight and thin, tide;
From which the horizon's swervings win There is first a half-mile of tumult and A grace of contrast, take fire and burn fight,
Like splinters of touchwood, whose edges a Of dash and roar and tumble and fright,
mould And surging bewilderment wild and wide, Of ashes o'erfeathers; northward turn Where the breakers struggle left and right, For an instant, and let your eye grow cold
Then a mile or more of rushing sea, On Agamenticus, and when once more And then the lighthouse slim and lone; You look, 't is as if the land-breeze, growAnd whenever the weight of ocean is ing, thrown
From the smouldering brands the film Full and fair on White Island head,
were blowing, A great mist-jotun you will see
And brightening them down to the very Lifting himself up silently
core; High and huge o'er the lighthouse top, Yet they momently cool and dampen and With hands of wavering spray outspread,
deaden, Groping after the little tower,
The crimson turns golden, the gold turns That seems to shrink and shorten and
Hardening into one black bar Till the monster's arms of a sudden drop, O'er which, from the hollow heaven afar, And silently and fruitlessly
Shoots a splinter of light like diamond, He sinks back into the sea.
half fancied; by and by
Beyond whatever is most beyond
Grows a star;
Ah, stir not, speak not, hold your breath,
blue ! Must sink the whole island once for all, No frail illusion; this were true, Or watch the silenter, stealthier seas Rather, to call it the canoe
Feeling their way to you more and more; Hollowed out of a single pearl, If they once should clutch you high as the That floats us from the Present's whirl knees,
Back to those beings which were ours, They would whirl you down like a sprig of When wishes were wingëd things like powo kelp,
ers! Beyond all reach of hope or help;
Call it not light, that mystery tender, And such in a storm is Appledore. Which broods upon the brooding ocean
That flush of ecstasied surrender
To indefinable emotion,
Of mitigated heavenly splendor Round the stern forehead of a Saint !
No more a vision, reddened, largened,
what silence was before ?
I TREASURE in secret some long, fine
hair Of tenderest brown, but so inwardly
golden I half used to fancy the sunshine there, So shy, so shifting, so waywardly rare, Was only caught for the moment and
holden While I could say Dearest ! and kiss it,
and then In pity let go to the summer again. I twisted this magic in gossamer strings
Over a wind-harp's Delphian hollow; Then called to the idle breeze that swings All day in the pine-tops, and clings, and
sings 'Mid the musical leaves, and said, “Oh,
follow The will of those tears that deepen my
words, And fly to my window to waken these
So they trembled to life, and, doubtfully
.” But grief conquered, and all together They swelled such weird murmur as haunts
a shore Of some planet dispeopled, — “Never
"Your inspiration is still to you a living mistress — make her immortal in her promptings and her consolations by imaging her truly in art. Mine looks at me with eyes of paler ilame and beckons across a gulf. You came into my loneliness like an incarnate aspiration. And it is dreary enough sometimes, for a mountain-peak on whose snow your foot makes the first mortal print is not so lonely as a room full of happy faces from which one is missing forever. This was originally the fifth stanza of The Windharp. O tress! that so oft in my heart hast lain,
Rocked to rest within rest by its thankful beating, Say, which is harder - to bear the pain Of laughter and light, or to wait in vain
'Neath the unleaved tree the impossible meeting? If Death's lips be icy, Life gives, iwis, Some kisses more clay-cold and darkening than his ! Forgive me, but you spoke of it first.” J.R.L. to W.J. Stillman, December 7, 1854.
Then from deep in the past, as seemed to
me, The strings gathered sorrow and sang
forsaken, “One lover still waits 'neath the green
wood tree, But 't is dark," and they shuddered,
6 where lieth she Dark and cold ! Forever must one be
taken ?” But I groaned, “O harp of all ruth be
reft, This Scripture is sadder, — 'the other
There murmured, as if one strove to speak, And tears came instead; then the sad
tones wandered And faltered among the uncertain chords
The lamp's clear gleam flits up the stair;
I linger in delicious pain;
Thinks she,-“ Auf wiedersehen?” 'T is thirteen years; once more
I hear“ Auf wiedersehen!”
fain, But these they drew us heart to heart, Yet held us tenderly apart;
She said, “ Auf wiedersehen!”
Lowell's second child, Rose, died after a week's illness in the spring of 1850. Her father wrote shortly after her death to Mr. Gay: “She was very beautiful — fair, with large dark-gray eyes and fine features. Her smile was especially charming, and she was full of smiles till her sickness began. Dear little child, she had never spoken, only smiled. To show you that I am not unable to go along with you in the feeling expressed in your letter, I will copy a few verses out of my common-place book.” The verses were the first form of the following poem, and will be found in the notes at the end of this volume. The poem, with its personal feeling over a universal human experience, found its way into many hearts. It “ has roused,” Lowell wrote in 1875,
strange echoes in men who assured me they were generally insensible to poetry. After all, the only stuff a solitary man has to spin is himself.” Yes, faith is a goodly anchor;
When skies are sweet as a psalm, At the bows it lolls so stalwart,
In its bluff, broad-shouldered calm.
STILL thirteen years: 't is autumn now
On field and hill, in heart and brain; The naked trees at evening sough; The leaf to the forsaken bough
Sighs not, — " Auf wiedersehen!”
And when over breakers to leeward
The tattered surges are hurled,
With its grip on the base of the world, But, after the shipwreck, tell me
What help in its iron thews, Still true to the broken bawser,
Deep down among sea-weed and ooze ? In the breaking gulfs of sorrow,
When the helpless feet stretch out And find in the deeps of darkness
No footing so solid as doubt, Then better one spar of Memory,
One broken plank of the Past, That our human heart may cling to,
Though hopeless of shore at last í To the spirit its splendid conjectures,
To the flesh its sweet despair, Its tears o'er the thin-worn locket
With its anguish of deathless hair!
Immortal? I feel it and know it,
Who doubts it of such as she ? But that is the pang's very secret,
Immortal away from me.
THE DEAD HOUSE “I have a notion that the inmates of a house should never be changed. When the first occupants go out it should be burned, and a stone set up with “Sacred to the Memory of a Home' on it. Suppose the body were eternal, and that when one spirit went out another took the lease. How frightful the strange expression of the eyes would be! I fancy sometimes that the look in the eyes of a familiar house changes when aliens have come into it. For certainly a dwelling adapts itself to its occupants. The front door of a hospitable man opens easily and looks broad, and you can read Welcome! on every step that leads to it. “I stopped there and tried to put that into
I have only half succeeded, and I shall not give it to you. I shall copy it and thrust it into Jane's letter.” J. R. L. to C. E. Norton, August 31, 1858.
A similar fancy appears in an earlier letter to Mrs. Francis G. Shaw, to whom Lowell wrote January 11, 1853: “I spent Sunday with Edmund Quincy at Dedham, and, as I came back over the rail yesterday, I roused from a reverie by seeing “West Roxbury Station' written up over the door of a kind of Italian villa at which we stopped. I almost twisted my head off looking for the house on the hill. There it stood in mourning still, just as Frank painted it. The color suited my mood exactly. The eyes of the house were shut, the welcoming look it had was gone; it was dead. I am a Platonist about houses. They get to my eye a shape from the souls that inhabit them. My friends' dwellings seem as peculiar to them as their bodies, looks, and motions. People have no right to sell their dead houses; they should burn them as they used to burn corpses. . .. I have buried that house now and flung my pious handful of earth over it and set up a headstone — and I shall never look up to the hill-top again, let me pass it never so often." HERE once my step was quickened,
Here beckoned the opening door, And welcome thrilled from the threshold
To tbe foot it had known before.
There's a narrow ridge in the graveyard
Would scarce stay a child in his race, But to me and my thought it is wider
Than the star-sown vague of Space.
Your logic, my friend, is perfect,
Your moral most drearily true; But, since the earth clashed on her coffin,
I keep hearing that, and not you. Console if you will, I can bear it;
'T is a well-meant alms of breath; But not all the preaching since Adam
Has made Death other than Death.
It is pagan; but wait till you feel it,
That jar of our earth, that dull shock When the ploughshare of deeper passion
Tears down to our primitive rock. Communion in spirit! Forgive me,
But I, who am earthly and weak, Would give all my incomes from dream
land For a touch of her hand on my cheek. That little shoe in the corner,
So worn and wrinkled and brown, With its emptiness confutes you,
And argues your wisdom down.
A glow came forth to meet me
From the flame that laughed in the grate, And shadows adance on the ceiling,
Danced blither with mine for a mate.
“I claim you, old friend,” yawned the arm
chair, “ This corner, you know, is your seat;"