TO AN ARTIST.
To me, long absent from the world of art,
You bring the clouded mountains, my desire,
The tranquil river, and the stormy sea,
The far, pale morning, and the crimson eve,
And silent days, that brood among lush leaves,
When, in the afternoon, the summer sun
Is gliding down the hazy yellow west,
And my soul’s atmosphere rests in the scene,
Until I dream the boundaries of my life
May hold an unknown, coming happiness.
How shall I, then, to show my gratitude,
But offer you a picture drawn in words—
With all the art I have,—in black and white!
Between me and the woods along the bay
The swallows circle through the darkling mist,
The robins breast the grass, and they divide
This solitude with me. The rippling sea
And sunset clouds, the sea gulls’ flashing flight
From looming isles beyond—I watch them now
With a new sense. Where are the swallows’ young,
And where the robins’ nests? Year after year
They hover round this ancient house, and I,
Within as heedless, saw the long years pass,
Nor ever dreamed a day like this might come—
A day when mourners go about the street
For one who always loved his fellow-men.
The windflower trembles in the woods, the sod
Is full of violets, the orchards rain
Their scented blossoms. May unfolds its leaves—
Nature’s eternal mystery to renew.
Must man be less than leaf or flower, and end?
If I go hence, when this departed soul
Has left no human tie to bind me now,
When spring unfolds, and I recall his past,
Will their remembrance lead me here again,
To teach me that his spirit comes to show
That Nature is eternal for man’s sake?
FROM THE HEADLAND.
I hear the waters of some inlet now
Come lapping to the fringe of yonder wood,
The storm-bent firs, and oaks along the cliff.
The yellow leaves are glistening in the grass,
The grassy slope I climb this autumn day.
Ensnaring me, the brambles clutch my feet,
As if constraining me to be a guest
To the wild, silent populace they shield.
It cannot say, nor I, why we are here.
What is my recompense upon this soil,
For other paths are mine if I go hence,
Still must I make the mystery my quest?
For here or there, I think, one sways my will.
There is no show of beauty to delight
The vision here, or strike the electric chord
Which makes the present and the past as one.
No thickets where the thrushes sing in maze
Of green, no silver-threaded waterfalls
In vales, where summer sleeps in darkling woods
With sunlit glades, and pools where lilies blow.
Here, but the wiry grass and sorrel beds,
The gaping edges of the sand ravines,