Can I make white enough my thought for thee,
Or wash my words in light? Thou hast no mate
To sit aloft in the silence silently
And twin those matchless heights undesecrate.
Reverend as Lear, when, lorn of shelter, he
Stood, with his old white head, surprised at fate;
Alone as Galileo, when, set free,
Before the stars he mused disconsolate.
Ay, and remote, as the dead lords of song,
Great masters who have made us what we are,
For thou and they have taught us how to long
And feel a sacred want of the fair and far:
Reign, and keep life in this our deep desire—
Our only greatness is that we aspire.
(A WOMAN SPEAKS.)
O sleep, we are beholden to thee, sleep,
Thou bearest angels to us in the night,
Saints out of heaven with palms. Seen by thy light
Sorrow is some old tale that goeth not deep;
Love is a pouting child. Once I did sweep
Through space with thee, and lo, a dazzling sight—
Stars! They came on, I felt their drawing and might;
And some had dark companions. Once (I weep
When I remember that) we sailed the tide,
And found fair isles, where no isles used to bide,
And met there my lost love, who said to me,
That ’twas a long mistake: he had not died.
Sleep, in the world to come how strange ’twill be
Never to want, never to wish for thee!
(A MAN SPEAKS.)
Once, a new world, the sunswart marinere,
Columbus, promised, and was sore withstood,
Ungraced, unhelped, unheard for many a year;
But let at last to make his promise good.
Promised and promising I go, most dear,
To better my dull heart with love’s sweet feud,
My life with its most reverent hope and fear,
And my religion, with fair gratitude.
O we must part; the stars for me contend,
And all the winds that blow on all the seas.
Through wonderful waste places I must wend,
And with a promise my sad soul appease.
Promise then, promise much of far-off bliss;
But—ah, for present joy, give me one kiss.
Who veileth love should first have vanquished fate.
She folded up the dream in her deep heart,
Her fair full lips were silent on that smart,
Thick fringed eyes did on the grasses wait.
What good? one eloquent blush, but one, and straight
The meaning of a life was known; for art
Is often foiled in playing nature’s part,
And time holds nothing long inviolate.
Earth’s buried seed springs up—slowly, or fast:
The ring came home, that one in ages past
Flung to the keeping of unfathomed seas:
And golden apples on the mystic trees
Were sought and found, and borne away at last,
Though watched of the divine Hesperides.