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- The Home Book of Verse, Volume 3 - 2/88 -


And ever by delicate powers Gathering along the centuries From race on race the rarest flowers, My wreath shall nothing miss.

And many a thousand summers My gardens ripened well, And light from meliorating stars With firmer glory fell.

I wrote the past in characters Of rock and fire the scroll, The building in the coral sea, The planting of the coal.

And thefts from satellites and rings And broken stars I drew, And out of spent and aged things I formed the world anew;

What time the gods kept carnival, Tricked out in star and flower, And in cramp elf and saurian forms They swathed their too much power.

Time and Thought were my surveyors, They laid their courses well, They boiled the sea, and piled the layers Of granite, marl and shell.

But he, the man-child glorious, - Where tarries he the while? The rainbow shines his harbinger, The sunset gleams his smile.

My boreal lights leap upward, Forthright my planets roll, And still the man-child is not born, The summit of the whole.

Must time and tide forever run? Will never my winds go sleep in the west? Will never my wheels which whirl the sun And satellites have rest?

Too much of donning and doffing, Too slow the rainbow fades, I weary of my robe of snow, My leaves and my cascades;

I tire of globes and races, Too long the game is played; What without him is summer's pomp, Or winter's frozen shade?

I travail in pain for him, My creatures travail and wait; His couriers come by squadrons, He comes not to the gate.

Twice I have moulded an image, And thrice outstretched my hand, Made one of day and one of night And one of the salt sea-sand.

One in a Judaean manger, And one by Avon stream, One over against the mouths of Nile, And one in the Academe.

I moulded kings and saviors, And bards o'er kings to rule; - But fell the starry influence short, The cup was never full.

Yet whirl the glowing wheels once more, And mix the bowl again; Seethe, Fate! the ancient elements, Heat, cold, wet, dry, and peace, and pain.

Let war and trade and creeds and song Blend, ripen race on race, The sunburnt world a man shall breed Of all the zones and countless days.

No ray is dimmed, no atom worn, My oldest force is good as new, And the fresh rose on yonder thorn Gives back the bending heavens in dew.

Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-1882]

"GREAT NATURE IS AN ARMY GAY"

Great nature is an army gay, Resistless marching on its way; I hear the bugles clear and sweet, I hear the tread of million feet. Across the plain I see it pour; It tramples down the waving grass; Within the echoing mountain-pass I hear a thousand cannon roar. It swarms within my garden gate; My deepest well it drinketh dry. It doth not rest; it doth not wait; By night and day it sweepeth by; Ceaseless it marcheth by my door; It heeds me not, though I implore. I know not whence it comes, nor where It goes. For me it doth not care - Whether I starve, or eat, or sleep, Or live, or die, or sing, or weep. And now the banners all are bright, Now torn and blackened by the fight. Sometimes its laughter shakes the sky, Sometimes the groans of those who die. Still through the night and through the livelong day The infinite army marches on its remorseless way.

Richard Watson Gilder [1844-1909]

TO MOTHER NATURE

Nature, in thy largess, grant I may be thy confidant! Taste who will life's roadside cheer (Though my heart doth hold it dear - Song and wine and trees and grass, All the joys that flash and pass), I must put within my prayer Gifts more intimate and rare. Show me how dry branches throw Such blue shadows on the snow, - Tell me how the wind can fare On his unseen feet of air, - Show me how the spider's loom Weaves the fabric from her womb, - Lead me to those brooks of morn Where a woman's laugh is born, - Let me taste the sap that flows Through the blushes of a rose, Yea, and drain the blood which runs From the heart of dying suns, - Teach me how the butterfly Guessed at immortality, - Let me follow up the track Of Love's deathless Zodiac Where Joy climbs among the spheres Circled by her moon of tears, - Tell me how, when I forget All the schools have taught me, yet I recall each trivial thing In a golden far off Spring, - Give me whispered hints how I May instruct my heart to fly Where the baffling Vision gleams Till I overtake my dreams, And the impossible be done When the Wish and Deed grow one!

Frederic Lawrence Knowles [1869-1905]

QUIET WORK

One lesson, Nature, let me learn of thee, One lesson which in every wind is blown, One lesson of two duties kept at one Though the loud world proclaim their enmity - Of toil unsevered from tranquillity; Of labor, that in lasting fruit outgrows Far noisier schemes, accomplished in repose, Too great for haste, too high for rivalry.

Yes, while on earth a thousand discords ring, Man's fitful uproar mingling with his toil, Still do thy sleepless ministers move on, Their glorious tasks in silence perfecting; Still working, blaming still our vain turmoil; Laborers that shall not fail, when man is gone.

Matthew Arnold [1822-1888]

NATURE

As a fond mother, when the day is o'er, Leads by the hand her little child to bed, Half willing, half reluctant to be led, And leave his broken playthings on the floor, Still gazing at them through the open door, Nor wholly reassured and comforted By promises of others in their stead, Which, though more splendid, may not please him more; So Nature deals with us, and takes away Our playthings one by one, and by the hand Leads us to rest so gently, that we go Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,


The Home Book of Verse, Volume 3 - 2/88

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