Dreams that are tangled like wild-wood,
A hint creeping in like a hare;
Visions of innocent childhood,—
Glimpses of pleasure and care;
Brave thoughts that flash like a saber,—
Cowards that crouch as they come,—
Thoughts of sweet love and sweet labor
In the fields at the old cottage-home.
Visions of maize and of meadow,
Songs of the birds and the brooks,
Glimpses of sunshine and shadow,
Of hills and the vine-covered nooks;
Dreams that were dreams of a lover,—
A face like the blushing of morn,—
Hum of bees and the sweet scent of clover
And a bare-headed girl in the corn.
Hopes that went down in the battle,
Apples that crumbled to dust,—
Manna for rogues, and the rattle
Of hail-storms that fall on the just.
The “shoddy” that lolls in her chariot,—
Maud Muller at work in the grass:
Here a silver-bribed Judas Iscariot,—
There—Leonidas dead in the pass.
Commingled the good and the evil;
Sown together the wheat and the tares;
In the heart of the wheat is the weevil;
There is joy in the midst of our cares.
The past,—shall we stop to regret it?
What is,—shall we falter and fall?
If the envious wrong thee, forget it;
Let thy charity cover them all.
The cock hails the morn, and the rumble
Of wheels is abroad in the streets,
Still I tumble and mumble and grumble
At the fleas in my ears and—the sheets;
Mumble and grumble and tumble
Till the buzz of the bees is no more;
In a jumble I mumble and drumble
And tumble off—into a snore.
[Written at the grave of an old friend.]
Down into the darkness at last, Daniel,—down
into the darkness at last;
Laid in the lap of our Mother, Daniel,—sleeping the dreamless sleep,—
Sleeping the sleep of the babe unborn—the pure and the perfect rest:
Aye, and is it not better than this fitful fever and pain?
Aye, and is it not better, if only the dead soul knew?
Joy was there in the spring-time and hope like a blossoming
When the wine-blood of youth ran tingling and throbbing in every vein;
Chirrup of robin and blue-bird in the white-blossomed apple and pear;
Carpets of green on the meadows spangled with dandelions;
Lowing of kine in the valleys, bleating of lambs on the hills;
Babble of brooks and the prattle of fountains that flashed in the sun;
Glad, merry voices, ripples of laughter, snatches of music and song,
And blue-eyed girls in the gardens that blushed like the roses they wore.
And life was a pleasure unvexed, unmingled with sorrow
A round of delight from the blink of morn
till the moon rose laughing at night?
Nay, there were cares and cankers—envy and hunger and hate;
Death and disease in the pith of the limbs,
in the root and the bud and the branch;
Dry-rot, alas, at the heart, and a canker-worm gnawing therein.