Слике страница
PDF
ePub

man.

came

Fit altars fur who guards inviolate God's chosen seat, the sacred form of Doubtless his church will be no hospital For superannuate forms and mumping

shams, No parlor where men issue policies Of life-assurance on the Eternal Mind, Nor his religion but an ambulance To fetch life's wounded and malinger

ers in, Scorned by the strong; yet he, uncon

scious heir To the influence sweet of Athens and

of Rome, And old Judæa's gift of secret fire, Spite of himself shall surely learn to

know And worship some ideal of himself, Some divine thing, large-hearted,

brotherly, Not nice in trifles, a soft creditor, Pleased with his world, and hating only

cant. And, if his Church be doubtful, it is sure That, in a world, made for whatever

else, Not made for mere enjoyment, — in a

world Of toil but half-requited, or, at best, Paid in

futile breath, A world of incompleteness, sorrow swift And consolation laggard, whatsoe'er The form of building or the creed pro

fessed, The Cross, bold type of shame to hom

age turned, Of an unfinished life that sways the

world, Shall tower as sovereign emblem over

all.

Scarce saw the minster for the thoughts

it stirred Buzzing o'er past and future with vain

quest. Here once there stood a homely wood

en church, Which slow devotion nobly changed

for this That echoes vaguely to my modern

steps. By suffrage universal it was built, As practised then, for all the country From far as Rouen, to give votes for

God, Each vote a block of stone securely laid Obedient to the master's deep-mused

plan. Will what our ballots rear, responsible To no grave forethought, stand so long

as this, Delight like this the eye of after days Brightening with pride that here, at

least, were men Who meant and did the noblest thing

they knew? Can our religion cope with deeds like

this? We, too, build Gothic contract-shams,

because Our deacons have discovered that it

pays, And pews sell better under vaulted

roofs Of plaster painted like an Indian

squaw. Shall not that Western Goth, of whom

we spoke, So fiercely practical, so keen of eye, Find out, some day, that nothing pays

but God, Served whether on the smoke-shut

battle-field, In work obscure done honestly, or vote For truth unpopular, or faith maintained To ruinous convictions, or good deeds Wrought for good's sake, mindless of

heaven or hell Shall he not learn that all prosperity, Whose bases stretch not deeper than

the sense, Is but a trick of this world's atmosphere, A desert-born mirage of spire and dome, Or find too late, the Past's long lesson

missed,

some

currency of

The kobold Thought moves with us

when we shift Our dwelling to escape him ; perched

aloft On the first load of household-stuff he

went; For, where the mind goes, goes old fur

niture. I, who to Chartres came to feed my

eye And give to Fancy one clear holiday,

That dust the prophets shake from off

toeir feet Grows heavy to drag down both tower

and wall ? I know not; but, sustained by sure

belief That man still rises level with the

height Of noblest opportunities, or makes Such, if the time supply not, I can

wait. I gaze round on the windows, pride of

France, Each the bright gift of some mechanic

guild Who loved their city and thought gold To make her beautiful with piety; I pause, transfigured by some stripe of

bloom, And my mind throngs with shining

auguries, Circle on circle, bright as seraphim, With golden trumpets, silent, that await The signal to blow news of good to

Must we too forfeit thee misunderstood, Content with names, nor inly wise to

know That best things perish of their own

excess, And quality o'er-driven becomes defect? Nay, is it thou indeed that we have

glimpsed, Or rather such illusion as of old Through Athens glided menadlike and

Rome, A shape of vapor, mother of vain dreams And mutinous traditions, specious plea Of the glaived tyrant and long-memoried

priest?'

well spent

men.

comes

Then the revulsion came that always After these dizzy elations of the mind : And with a passionate pang of doubt I

cried, “O mountain-born, sweet with snow

filtered air From uncontaminate wells of ether

drawn And never-broken secrecies of sky, Freedom, with anguish won, misprized

till lost, They keep thee not who from thy sacred

eyes Catch the consuming lust of sensual

good And the brute's license of unfettered

will. Far from the popular shout and venal

breath Of Cleon blowing the mob's baser mind To bubbles of wind-piloted conceit, Thou shrinkest, gathering up thy skirts,

to hide In fortresses of solitary thought And private virtue strong in self-re

straint.

I walked forth saddened; for all

thought is sad, And leaves a bitterish savor in the

brain, Tonic, it may be, not delectable,And turned, reluctant, for a parting

look At those old weather-pitted images Of bygone struggle, now so sternly

calm. About their shoulders sparrows had

built nests, And fluttered, chirping, from gray

perch to perch, Now on a mitre poising, now a crown, Irreverently happy. While I thought How confident they were, what careless

hearts Flew on those lightsome wings and

shared the sun, A larger shadow crossed ; and, looking

up, I saw where, nesting in the hoary

towers, The sparrow-hawk slid forth on noise

less air, With sidelong head that watched the

joy below, Grim Norman baron o'er this clan of

Kelts. Enduring Nature, force conservative, Indifferent to our noisy whims! Men

prate Of all heads to an equal grade cashiered On level with the dullest, and expect (Sick of no worse distemper than them.

selves) A wondrous cure-all in equality;

They Weason that To-morrow must be

wise Because To-day was not, nor Yester

day, As if good days were shapen of them

selves, Not of the very lifeblood of men's

souls ; Meanwhile, long-suffering, imperturb

able, Thou quietly complet'st thy syllogism, And from the premise sparrow here

below Draw'st sure conclusion of the hawk

above, Pleased with the soft-billed songster,

pleased no less With the fierce beak ofnatures aquiline.

And one, the Peaceful, yet to venture

on, Has been that future whereto prophets

yearned For the fulfilment of Earth's cheated

hope, Shall be that past which nerveless

poets moan As the lost opportunity of song. O Power, more near my life than life

itself (Or what seems life to us in sense

immured), Even as the roots, shut in the darksome

earth, Share in the tree-top's joyance, and

conceive Of sunshine and wide air and wingëd

things By sympathy of nature, so do I Have evidence of Thee so far above, Yet in and of me! Rather Thou the

root Invisibly sustaining, hid in light, Not darkness, or in darkness made by If sometimes I must hear good men

debate Of other witness of Thyself than Thou, As if there needed any help of ours To nurse Thy flickering life, that else

must cease, Blown out, as 't were a candle, by men's

breath, My soul shall not be taken in their snare, To change her inward surety for their

doubt Muffled from sight in formal robes of

proof: While she can only feel herself through

Thee, I fear not Thy withdrawal; more I fear, Seeing, to know Thee not, hoodwinked

with dreams Of signs and wonders, while, unnoticed,

Thou, Walking Thy garden still, commun'st Missed in the commonplace of miracle

Thou beautiful Old Time, now hid

away In the Past's valley of Avilion, Haply, like Arthur, till thy wound be

healed, Then to reclaim the sword and crown

again! Thrice beautiful to us ; perchance less

fair To who possessed thee, as a mountain

seems To dwellers round its bases but a heap Of barren obstacle that lairs the storm And the avalanche's silent bolt holds

back Leashed with a hair, - meanwhile

some far-off clown, Hereditary delver of the plain, Sees it an unmoved vision of

repose, Nest of the morning, and conjectures

there The dance of streams to idle shepherds'

pipes, And fairer habitations softly hung On breezy slopes, or hid in valleys cool, For happier men.

No mortal ever dreams That the scant isthmus he encamps

upon Between two oceans, one, the Stormy,

passed,

us.

with men,

THREE MEMORIAL POEMS,

« ПретходнаНастави »