What man is there so bold that he should say
“Thus, and thus only, would I have the sea”?
For whether lying calm and beautiful,
Clasping the earth in love, and throwing back
The smile of heaven from waves of amethyst;
Or whether, freshened by the busy winds,
It bears the trade and navies of the world
To ends of use or stern activity;
Or whether, lashed by tempests, it gives way
To elemental fury, howls and roars
At all its rocky barriers, in wild lust
Of ruin drinks the blood of living things,
And strews its wrecks o’er leagues of desolate shore,—
Always it is the sea, and men bow down
Before its vast and varied majesty.
So all in vain will timorous ones essay
To set the metes and bounds of Liberty.
For Freedom is its own eternal law;
It makes its own conditions, and in storm
Or calm alike fulfills the unerring Will.
Let us not then despise it when it lies
Still as a sleeping lion, while a swarm
Of gnat-like evils hover round its head;
Nor doubt it when in mad, disjointed times
It shakes the torch of terror, and its cry
Shrills o’er the quaking earth, and in the flame
Of riot and war we see its awful form
Rise by the scaffold, where the crimson axe
Rings down its grooves the knell of shuddering kings.
Forever in thine eyes, O Liberty,
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved,
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee!
The White Flag
I sent my love two roses,—one
As white as driven snow,
And one a blushing royal red,
A flaming Jacqueminot.
I meant to touch and test my fate;
That night I should divine,
The moment I should see my love,
If her true heart were mine.
For if she holds me dear, I said,
She’ll wear my blushing rose;
If not, she’ll wear my cold Lamarque,
As white as winter’s snows.
My heart sank when I met her: sure
I had been overbold,
For on her breast my pale rose lay
In virgin whiteness cold.
Yet with low words she greeted me,
With smiles divinely tender;
Upon her cheek the red rose dawned,—
The white rose meant surrender.
The Law of Death
The song of Kilvani: fairest she
In all the land of Savatthi.
She had one child, as sweet and gay
And dear to her as the light of day.
She was so young, and he so fair,
The same bright eyes and the same dark hair;
To see them by the blossomy way,
They seemed two children at their play.
There came a death-dart from the sky,
Kilvani saw her darling die.
The glimmering shade his eyes invades,
Out of his cheek the red bloom fades;
His warm heart feels the icy chill,
The round limbs shudder, and are still
And yet Kilvani held him fast
Long after life’s last pulse was past,
As if her kisses could restore
The smile gone out forevermore.