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- Poems of Cheer - 10/17 -


Is it the world, or my eyes, that are sadder? I see not the grace that I used to see In the meadow-brook whose song was so glad, or In the boughs of the willow tree. The brook runs slower--its song seems lower And not the song that it sang of old; And the tree I admired looks weary and tired Of the changeless story of heat and cold.

When the sun goes up, and the stars go under, In that supreme hour of the breaking day, Is it my eyes, or the dawn, I wonder, That finds less of the gold, and more of the gray I see not the splendour, the tints so tender, The rose-hued glory I used to see; And I often borrow a vague half-sorrow That another morning has dawned for me.

When the royal smile of that welcome comer Beams on the meadow and burns in the sky, Is it my eyes, or does the Summer Bring less of bloom than in days gone by? The beauty that thrilled me, the rapture that filled me, To an overflowing of happy tears, I pass unseeing, my sad eyes being Dimmed by the shadow of vanished years.

When the heart grows weary, all things seem dreary; When the burden grows heavy, the way seems long. Thank God for sending kind death as an ending, Like a grand Amen to a minor song.

THE PUNISHED

Not they who know the awful gibbet's anguish, Not they who, while sad years go by them, in The sunless cells of lonely prisons languish, Do suffer fullest penalty for sin.

'Tis they who walk the highways unsuspected, Yet with grim fear for ever at their side, Who hug the corpse of some sin undetected, A corpse no grave or coffin-lid can hide -

'Tis they who are in their own chambers haunted By thoughts that like unbidden guests intrude, And sit down, uninvited and unwanted, And make a nightmare of the solitude.

HALF FLEDGED

I feel the stirrings in me of great things. New half-fledged thoughts rise up and beat their wings, And tremble on the margin of their nest, Then flutter back, and hide within my breast.

Beholding space, they doubt their untried strength. Beholding men, they fear them. But at length, Grown all too great and active for the heart That broods them with such tender mother art, Forgetting fear, and men, and all, that hour, Save the impelling consciousness of power That stirs within them--they shall soar away Up to the very portals of the Day.

Oh, what exultant rapture thrills me through When I contemplate all those thoughts may do; Like snow-white eagles penetrating space, They may explore full many an unknown place, And build their nests on mountain heights unseen, Whereon doth lie that dreamed-of rest serene. Stay thou a little longer in my breast, Till my fond heart shall push thee from the nest Anxious to see thee soar to heights divine - Oh, beautiful but half-fledged thoughts of mine.

THE YEAR

What can be said in New Year rhymes, That's not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go, We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light, We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings, We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed, We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear, And that's the burden of the year.

THE UNATTAINED

A vision beauteous as the morn, With heavenly eyes and tresses streaming, Slow glided o'er a field late shorn Where walked a poet idly dreaming. He saw her, and joy lit his face, "Oh, vanish not at human speaking," He cried, "thou form of magic grace, Thou art the poem I am seeking.

"I've sought thee long! I claim thee now - My thought embodied, living, real." She shook the tresses from her brow. "Nay, nay!" she said, "I am ideal. I am the phantom of desire - The spirit of all great endeavour, I am the voice that says, 'Come higher,' That calls men up and up for ever.

"'Tis not alone thy thought supreme That here upon thy path has risen; I am the artist's highest dream, The ray of light he cannot prison. I am the sweet ecstatic note Than all glad music gladder, clearer, That trembles in the singer's throat, And dies without a human hearer.

"I am the greater, better yield, That leads and cheers thy farmer neighbour, For me he bravely tills the field And whistles gaily at his labour. Not thou alone, O poet soul, Dost seek me through an endless morrow, But to the toiling, hoping whole I am at once the hope and sorrow.

"The spirit of the unattained, I am to those who seek to name me, A good desired but never gained: All shall pursue, but none shall claim me."

IN THE CROWD

How happy they are, in all seeming, How gay, or how smilingly proud, How brightly their faces are beaming, These people who make up the crowd! How they bow, how they bend, how they flutter, How they look at each other and smile, How they glow, and what bon mots they utter! But a strange thought has found me the while!

It is odd, but I stand here and fancy These people who now play a part, All forced by some strange necromancy To speak, and to act, from the heart. What a hush would come over the laughter! What a silence would fall on the mirth! And then what a wail would sweep after, As the night-wind sweeps over the earth!

If the secrets held under and hidden In the intricate hearts of the crowd Were suddenly called to, and bidden To rise up and cry out aloud, How strange one would look to another! Old friends of long standing and years - Own brothers would not know each other, Robed new in their sorrows and fears.

From broadcloth, and velvet, and laces, Would echo the groans of despair, And there would be blanching of faces And wringing of hands and of hair. That man with his record of honour, That lady down there with the rose, That girl with Spring's freshness upon her, Who knoweth the secrets of those?


Poems of Cheer - 10/17

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