For God thought Light before He spoke
The darkness understood not, though it heard:
But man looks up to where the planets swim,
And thinks God’s thoughts of glory after Him.
What knows the star that guides the sailor’s
Or lights the lover’s bower with liquid ray,
Of toil and passion, danger and distress,
Brave hope, true love, and utter faithfulness?
But human hearts that suffer good and
And hold to virtue with a loyal will,
Adorn the law that rules our mortal strife
With star-surpassing victories of life.
So take our thanks, dear reader of the
Devout astronomer, most humbly wise,
For lessons brighter than the stars can give,
And inward light that helps us all to live.
TO JULIA MARLOWE
(READING KEATS’ ODE ON A GRECIAN URN)
Long had I loved this “Attic shape,”
Of marble maidens round this urn divine:
But when your golden voice began to read,
The empty urn was filled with Chian wine.
TO JOSEPH JEFFERSON
May 4th, 1898.—To-day, fishing down the Swiftwater, I found Joseph Jefferson on a big rock in the middle of the brook, casting the fly for trout. He said he had fished this very stream three-and-forty years ago; and near by, in the Paradise Valley, he wrote his famous play.—Leaf from my Diary.
We met on Nature’s stage,
And May had set the scene,
With bishop-caps standing in delicate ranks,
And violets blossoming over the banks,
While the brook ran full between.
The waters rang your call,
With frolicsome waves a-twinkle,—
They knew you as boy, and they knew you as man,
And every wave, as it merrily ran,
Cried, “Enter Rip van Winkle!”
In mirth he mocks the other birds at noon,
Catching the lilt of every easy tune;
But when the day departs he sings of love,—
His own wild song beneath the listening moon.
THE EMPTY QUATRAIN
A flawless cup: how delicate and
The flowing curve of every jewelled line!
Look, turn it up or down, ’tis perfect still,—
But holds no drop of life’s heart-warming wine.
PAN LEARNS MUSIC
FOR A SCULPTURE BY SARA GREENE
Limber-limbed, lazy god, stretched on
Where is sweet Echo, and where is your flock?
What are you making here? “Listen,” said Pan,—
“Out of a river-reed music for man!”
THE SHEPHERD OF NYMPHS
The nymphs a shepherd
To guard their snowy sheep;
He led them down along the brook,
And guided them with pipe and crook,
Until he fell asleep.