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66

A MOOD

Rest your slippers on me," beamed the

fender, “I brighten at touch of your feet.” “ We know the practised finger,"

Said the books,“ that seems like brain;”. And the shy page rustled the secret

It had kept till I came again.

Sang the pillow, “My down once quivered

On nightingales' throats that flew Through moonlit gardens of Hafiz

To gather quaint dreams for you."

Ah me, where the Past sowed heart's-ease,

The Present plucks rue for us men ! I come back : that scar unhealing

Was not in the churchyard then.

I go to the ridge in the forest
I haunted in days gone by,
But thou, O Memory, pourest
No magical drop in mine eye,
Nor the gleam of the secret restorest
That hath faded from earth and sky :
A Presence autumnal and sober
Invests every rock and tree,
And the aureole of October
Lights the maples, but darkens me.
Pine in the distance,
Patient through sun or rain,
Meeting with graceful persistence,
With yielding but rooted resistance,
The northwind's wrench and strain,
No memory of past existence
Brings thee pain;
Right for the zenith heading,
Friendly with heat or cold,
Thine arms to the influence spreading
Of the heavens, just from of old,
Thou only aspirest the more,
Unregretful the old leaves shedding
That fringed thee with music before,
And deeper thy roots embedding
In the grace and the beauty of yore;
Thou sigh’st not, “ Alas, I am older,
The green of last summer is sear!”
But loftier, hopefuller, bolder,
Winnest broader horizons each year.

But, I think, the house is unaltered,

I will go and beg to look At the rooms that were once familiar

To my life as its bed to a brook.

Unaltered! Alas for the sameness

That makes the change but more ! 'Tis a dead man I see in the mirrors,

'Tis his tread that chills the floor!

To learn such a simple lesson,

Need I go to Paris and Rome, That the many make the household,

But only one the home ?

To me 't is not cheer thou art singing:
There's a sound of the sea,
O mournful tree,
In thy boughs forever clinging,
And the far-off roar
Of waves on the shore
A shattered vessel flinging.

'T was just a womanly presence,

An influence unexprest, But a rose she had worn, on my grave

sod Were more than long life with the rest ! 'T was a smile, 't was a garment's rustle,

'T was nothing that I can phrase, But the whole dumb dwelling grew con

scious, And put on her looks and ways. Were it mine I would close the shutters,

Like lids when the life is fled, And the funeral fire should wind it,

This corpse of a home that is dead. For it died that autumn morning

When she, its soul, was borne To lie all dark on the hillside

That looks over woodland and corn.

As thou musest still of the ocean
On which thou must float at last,
And seem'st to foreknow
The shipwreck's woe
And the sailor wrenched from the broken

mast,
Do I, in this vague emotion,
This sadness that will not pass,
Though the air throb with wings,
And the field laughs and sings,
Do I forebode, alas !
The ship-building longer and wearier,

ume.

their game,

The voyage's struggle and strife, And safe as stars in all men's memories.
And then the darker and drearier Strange sagas read he in their sea-blue eyes
Wreck of a broken life ?

Cold as the sea, grandly compassionless;
Like life, they made him eager and then

mocked. THE VOYAGE TO VINLAND Nay, broad awake, they would not let him

be; In the letter to Mr. Norton, quoted at the They shaped themselves gigantic in the beginning of this section, reference is made to

mist, The Voyage to Vinland, which Lowell had some They rose far-beckoning in the lamps of thought of making the title-poem of the vol

heaven, In the same letter he says further regarding it: “Part of (this poem), you remem

They whispered invitation in the winds,

And breath came from them, mightier than ber, was written eighteen years ago. I meant to have made it much longer, but maybe it

the wind, is better as it is. I clapt a beginning upon

To strain the lagging sails of his resolve, it, patched it in the middle, and then got to Till that grew passion which before was what has always been my favorite part of the

wish, plan. This was to be a prophecy by Gudrida, And youth seemed all too costly to be a woman who went with them, of the future

staked America. I have written in an unrhymed On the soiled cards wherewith men played alliterated measure, in very short verse and stanzas of five lines each. It does not aim at following the law of the Icelandic alliterated Letting Time pocket up the larger life,

Lost with base gain of raiment, food, and stave, but hints at it and also at the asonante, without being properly either. But it runs

roof. well and is melodious, and we think it pretty

“What helpeth lightness of the feet ?” good here, as does also Howells. Well, after they said, that, of course, I was all for alliteration." The “ Oblivion runs with swifter foot than poem had apparently first borne the title of

they; Leif's Voyage, as he writes of that poem to Mr. Or strength of sinew ? New men come as Briggs in 1850.

strong,

And those sleep nameless; or renown in BIÖRN'S BECKONERS

Swords grave no name on the long-memNow Biörn, the son of Heriulf, bad ill days

oried rock Because the heart within hin seethed with But moss shall hide it; they alone who blood

wring That would not be allayed with any toil, Some secret purpose from the unwilling Whether of war or hunting or the oar,

gods But was auhungered for some joy untried: Survive in song for yet a little while For the brain grew not weary with the To vex, like us, the dreams of later men, limbs,

Ourselves a dream, and dreamlike all we But, while they slept, still hammered like a did.”

Troll,
Building all night a bridge of solid dream
Between him and some purpose of his soul,

THORWALD'S LAY
Or will to find a purpose. With the dawn So Biörn went comfortless but for his
The sleep-laid timbers, crumbled to soft thonght,
mist,

And by his thought the more discomforted, Denied all foothold. But the dream re- Till Eric Thurlson kept his Yule-tide feast: mained,

And thither came he, called among the rest, And every night with yellow-bearded kings Silent, lone-minded, a church-door to mirth: His sleep was haunted, — mighty men of But, ere deep draughts forbade such seriold,

ons song. Once yonng as he, now ancient like the

grave Skald might chant nor after gods,

blush,

I

war ?

seas !”

ger!

of years,

Then Eric looked at Thorwald where he sat From circumstance untoward feathers Mute as a cloud amid the stormy hall,

plucks And said: “O Skald, sing now an olden Crumpled and cheap; and barbs with iron song,

will: Such as our fathers heard who led great The hour that passes is her quiver-boy: lives;

When she draws bow, 't is not across the And, as the bravest on a shield is borne

wind, Along the waving host that shouts him king, Nor 'gainst the sun her haste - snatched So rode their thrones upon the thronging arrow sings,

For sun and wind have plighted faith to Then the old man arose; white-haired he

her: stood,

Ere men have heard the sinew twang, beWhite-bearded, and with eyes that looked

hold afar

In the butt's heart her trembling messenFrom their still region of perpetual snow, Beyond the little smokes and stirs of men: His head was bowed with gathered flakes “The song is old and simple that I sing;

But old and simple are despised as cheap, As winter bends the sea-foreboding pine, Though hardest to achieve of human things: But something triumphed in his brow and Goud were the days of yore, when men eye,

were tried Which whoso saw it could not see and By ring of shields, as now by ring of words; crouch:

But while the gods are left, and hearts of Loud rang the emptied beakers as he mused, men, Brooding his eyried thoughts; then, as an And wide-doored ocean, still the days are eagle

good. Circles smooth - winged above the wind- Still o'er the earth hastes Opportunity, vexed woods,

Seeking the hardy soul that seeks for her. So wheeled his soul into the air of song Be not abroad, nor deaf with household High o'er the stormy hall; and thus he sang:

That chatter loudest as they mean the “ The fletcher for his arrow-shaft picks out

least; Wood closest - grained, long - seasoned, Swift-willed is thrice - willed; late means straight as light;

nevermore; And from a quiver full of such as these Impatient is her foot, nor turns again.” The wary bowman, matched against his He ceased; upon his bosom sank his beard peers,

Sadly, as one who oft had seen her pass Long doubting, singles yet once more the Nor stayed her: and forthwith the frothy best.

tide Who is it needs such flawless shafts as Of interrupted wassail roared along. Fate ?

But Biörn, the son of Heriulf, sat apart What archer of his arrows is so choice, Musing, and, with his eyes upon the fire, Or hits the white so surely? They are men, Saw shapes of arrows, lost as soon as seen. The chosen of her quiver; nor for her “A ship,” he muttered, “is a wingëd bridge Will every reed suffice, or cross-grained That leadeth every way to man's desire, stick

And ocean the wide gate to manful luck." At random from life's vulgar fagot plucked: And then with that resolve his heart was Such answer household ends; but she will bent, have

Which, like a humming shaft, through Souls straight and clear, of toughest fibre, many a stripe sound

Of day and night, across the unpathwayed Down to the heart of heart; from these she strips

Shot the brave prow that cut on Vinland All needless stuff, all sapwood; seasons

sands them;

The first rune in the Saga of the West.

cares

seas

III

Men from the Northland,
Men from the Southland,
Haste empty-handed;
No more than manhood
Bring they, and hands.

Dark hair and fair hair, Red blood and blue blood, There shall be mingled; Force of the ferment Makes the New Man.

Pick of all kindreds,
Kings' blood shall theirs be,
Shoots of the eldest
Stock upon Midgard,
Sons of the poor.

GUDRIDA'S PROPHECY Four weeks they sailed, a speck in sky-shut

seas, Life, where was never life that knew itself, But tumbled lubber-like in blowing whales; Thought, where the like had never been

before Since Thought primeval brooded the abyss; Alone as men were never in the world. They saw the icy foundlings of the sea, White cliffs of silence, beautiful by day, Or looming, sudden-perilous, at night In monstrous hush; or sometimes in the dark The waves broke ominous with paly gleams Crushed by the prow in sparkles of cold fire. Then came green stripes of sea that prom

ised land But brought it not, and on the thirtieth day Low in the west were wooded shores like

cloud. They shouted as men shout with sudden

hope; But Biörn was silent, such strange loss

there is Between the dream's fulfilment and the

dream, Such sad abatement in the goal attained. Then Gudrida, that was a prophetess, Rapt with strange influence from Atlantis,

Sang: Her words: the vision was the dreaming

shore's.

Them waits the New Land;
They shall subdue it,
Leaving their sons' sons
Space for the body,
Space for the soul.

Leaving their sons' sons
All things save song-craft,
Plant long in growing,
Thrusting its tap-root
Deep in the Gone.
Here men shall grow up
Strong from self-helping;
Eyes for the present
Bring they as eagles',
Blind to the Past.

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