My forefathers gave me
My spirit's shaken flame,
The shape of hands, the beat of heart,
The letters of my name.
But it was my lovers,
And not my sleeping sires,
Who gave the flame its changeful
And iridescent fires;
As the driftwood burning
Learned its jewelled blaze
From the sea's blue splendor
Of colored nights and days.
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.
My window-pane is starred with frost,
The world is bitter cold to-night,
The moon is cruel, and the wind
Is like a two-edged sword to smite.
God pity all the homeless ones,
The beggars pacing to and fro,
God pity all the poor to-night
Who walk the lamp-lit streets of snow.
My room is like a bit of June,
Warm and close-curtained fold on fold,
But somewhere, like a homeless child,
My heart is crying in the cold.
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white.
Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
YOU bound strong sandals on my feet,
You gave me bread and wine,
And sent me under sun and stars,
For all the world was mine.
Oh, take the sandals off my feet,
You know not what you do;
For all my world is in your arms,
My sun and stars are you.
Dreamily over the roofs
The cold spring rain is falling;
Out in the lonely tree
A bird is calling, calling.
Slowly over the earth
The wings of night are falling;
My heart like the bird in the tree
Is calling, calling, calling.
Peace flows into me
As the tide to the pool by the shore;
It is mine forevermore,
It ebbs not back like the sea.
I am the pool of blue
That worships the vivid sky;
My hopes were heaven-high,
They are all fulfilled in you.
I am the pool of gold
When sunset burns and dies, --
You are my deepening skies,
Give me your stars to hold.
I lift my heart as spring lifts up
A yellow daisy to the rain;
My heart will be a lovely cup
Altho' it holds but pain.
For I shall learn from flower and leaf
That color every drop they hold,
To change the lifeless wine of grief
To living gold.
When I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Though you shall lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.
I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough;
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.
I love too much; I am a river
Surging with spring that seeks the sea,
I am too generous a giver,
Love will not stoop to drink of me.
His feet will turn to desert places
Shadowless, reft of rain and dew,
Where stars stare down with sharpened faces
From heavens pitilessly blue.
And there at midnight sick with faring,
He will stoop down in his desire
To slake the thirst grown past all bearing
In stagnant water keen as fire.
One by one, like leaves from a tree,
All my faiths have forsaken me;
But the stars above my head
Burn in white and delicate red,
And beneath my feet the earth
Brings the sturdy grass to birth.
I who was content to be
But a silken-singing tree,
But a rustle of delight
In the wistful heart of night--
I have lost the leaves that knew
Touch of rain and weight of dew.
Blinded by a leafy crown
I looked neither up nor down--
But the little leaves that die
Have left me room to see the sky;
Now for the first time I know
Stars above and earth below.
"She can't be unhappy," you said,
"The smiles are like stars in her eyes,
And her laughter is thistledown
Around her low replies."
"Is she unhappy?" you said--
But who has ever known
All he can know is his own;
And she seems hushed to me,
As hushed as though
Her heart were a hunter's fire
Smothered in snow.
They never saw my lover's face,
They only know our love was brief,
Wearing awhile a windy grace
And passing like an autumn leaf.
They wonder why I do not weep,
They think it strange that I can sing,
They say, "Her love was scarcely deep
Since it has left so slight a sting.
They never saw my love, nor knew
That in my heart's most secret place
I pity them as angels do
Men who have never seen God's face.
I should be glad of loneliness
And hours that go on broken wings,
A thirsty body, a tired heart
And the unchanging ache of things,
If I could make a single song
As lovely and as full of light,
As hushed and brief as a falling star
On a winter night.
I went out at night alone;
The young blood flowing beyond the sea
Seemed to have drenched my spirit's wings --
I bore my sorrow heavily.
But when I lifted up my head
From shadows shaken on the snow,
I saw Orion in the east
Burn steadily as long ago.
From windows in my father's house,
Dreaming my dreams on winter nights,
I watched Orion as a girl
Above another city's lights.
Years go, dreams go, and youth goes too,
The world's heart breaks beneath its wars,
All things are changed, save in the east
The faithful beauty of the stars.
I would live in your love as the sea-grasses live in the sea,
Borne up by each wave as it passes,
drawn down by each wave that recedes;
I would empty my soul of the dreams that have gathered in me,
I would beat with your heart as it beats,
I would follow your soul as it leads.
I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.
You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.
Oh plunge me deep in love -- put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.
If I can bear your love like a lamp before me,
When I go down the long steep Road of Darkness,
I shall not fear the everlasting shadows,
Nor cry in terror.
If I can find out God, then I shall find Him,
If none can find Him, then I shall sleep soundly,
Knowing how well on earth your love sufficed me,
A lamp in darkness.
I have remembered beauty in the night,
Against black silences I waked to see
A shower of sunlight over Italy
And green Ravello dreaming on her height;
I have remembered music in the dark,
The clean swift brightness of a fugue of Bach's,
And running water singing on the rocks
When once in English woods I heard a lark.
But all remembered beauty is no more
Than a vague prelude to the thought of you --
You are the rarest soul I ever knew,
Lover of beauty, knightliest and best;
My thoughts seek you as waves that seek the shore,
And when I think of you, I am at rest.
I SAID, "I have shut my heart
As one shuts an open door,
That Love may starve therein
And trouble me no more."
But over the roofs there came
The wet new wind of May,
And a tune blew up from the curb
Where the street-pianos play.
My room was white with the sun
And Love cried out in me,
"I am strong, I will break your heart
Unless you set me free."
There never was a mood of mine,
Gay or heart-broken, luminous or dull,
But you could ease me of its fever
And give it back to me more beautiful.
In many another soul I broke the bread,
And drank the wine and played the happy guest,
But I was lonely, I remembered you;
The heart belongs to him who knew it best.