Infomotions, Inc.Poems / Seeger, Alan, 1888-1916



Author: Seeger, Alan, 1888-1916
Title: Poems
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): sonnet; alan; alan seeger
Contributor(s): Thomas, Ernest Chester, 1850-1892 [Translator]
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Poems

by Alan Seeger

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[Note on text:  Italicized words or phrases are capitalized,
placed in single quotes, or otherwise marked as needed.
Lines longer than 78 characters are broken and the continuation
is indented two spaces.  Some obvious errors have been corrected.]

[Alan Seeger, American (New York) Poet.  22 June 1888 - 04 July 1916.]






Poems
by Alan Seeger

With an introduction by William Archer






Contents



Introduction by William Archer


Juvenilia

An Ode to Natural Beauty
The Deserted Garden
The Torture of Cuauhtemoc
The Nympholept
The Wanderer
The Need to Love
El Extraviado
La Nue
All That's Not Love . . .
Paris
The Sultan's Palace
Fragments

Thirty Sonnets:
  Sonnet I
  Sonnet II
  Sonnet III
  Sonnet IV
  Sonnet V
  Sonnet VI
  Sonnet VII
  Sonnet VIII
  Sonnet IX
  Sonnet X
  Sonnet XI
  Sonnet XII
  Sonnet XIII
  Sonnet XIV
  Sonnet XV
  Sonnet XVI
  Kyrenaikos
  Antinous
  Vivien
  I Loved . . .
  Virginibus Puerisque . . .
  With a Copy of Shakespeare's Sonnets on Leaving College
  Written in a Volume of the Comtesse de Noailles
  Coucy
  Tezcotzinco
  The Old Lowe House, Staten Island
  Oneata
  On the Cliffs, Newport
  To England at the Outbreak of the Balkan War
  At the Tomb of Napoleon Before the Elections in America -- November, 1912

The Rendezvous
Do You Remember Once . . .
The Bayadere
Eudaemon
Broceliande
Lyonesse
Tithonus
An Ode to Antares


Translations

Dante.  Inferno, Canto XXVI
Ariosto.  Orlando Furioso, Canto X, 91-99
On a Theme in the Greek Anthology
After an Epigram of Clement Marot


Last Poems

The Aisne (1914-15)
Champagne (1914-15)
The Hosts
Maktoob
I Have a Rendezvous with Death . . .

Sonnets:
  - Sonnet I -
  - Sonnet II -
  - Sonnet III -
  - Sonnet IV -
  - Sonnet V -
  - Sonnet VI -
  - Sonnet VII -
  - Sonnet VIII -
  - Sonnet IX -
  - Sonnet X -
  - Sonnet XI -
  - Sonnet XII -

Bellinglise
Liebestod
Resurgam
A Message to America
Introduction and Conclusion of a Long Poem
Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France






Introduction by William Archer



This book contains the undesigned, but all the more spontaneous and authentic,
biography of a very rare spirit.  It contains the record of a short life,
into which was crowded far more of keen experience and high aspiration
-- of the thrill of sense and the rapture of soul -- than it is given to
most men, even of high vitality, to extract from a life of twice the length.
Alan Seeger had barely passed his twenty-eighth birthday, when,
charging up to the German trenches on the field of Belloy-en-Santerre,
his "escouade" of the Foreign Legion was caught in a deadly flurry
of machine-gun fire, and he fell, with most of his comrades,
on the blood-stained but reconquered soil.  To his friends
the loss was grievous, to literature it was -- we shall never know how great,
but assuredly not small.  Yet this was a case, if ever there was one,
in which we may not only say "Nothing is here for tears,"
but may add to the well-worn phrase its less familiar sequel:
  
                             Nothing to wail
    Or knock the breast, no weakness, no contempt,
    Dispraise, or blame, -- nothing but well and fair,
    And what may quiet us in a death so noble.

Of all the poets who have died young, none has died so happily.
Without suggesting any parity of stature, one cannot but think
of the group of English poets who, about a hundred years ago,
were cut off in the flower of their age.  Keats, coughing out his soul
by the Spanish Steps; Shelley's spirit of flame snuffed out
by a chance capful of wind from the hills of Carrara;
Byron, stung by a fever-gnat on the very threshold of his great adventure --
for all these we can feel nothing but poignant unrelieved regret.
Alan Seeger, on the other hand, we can very truly envy.  Youth had given him
all that it had to give; and though he would fain have lived on --
though no one was ever less world-weary than he -- yet in the plenitude
of his exultant strength, with eye undimmed and pulse unslackening,
he met the death he had voluntarily challenged, in the cause
of the land he loved, and in the moment of victory.  Again and again,
both in prose and in verse, he had said that this seemed to him
a good death to die; and two years of unflinching endurance
of self-imposed hardship and danger had proved that he meant what he said.

I do not, I repeat, pretend to measure him with Shelley, Byron or Keats,
though I think none of them would have disdained his gift of song.
But assuredly he is of their fellowship in virtue,
not only of his early death, but of his whole-hearted devotion
to the spirit of Romance, as they understood it.  From his boyhood upward,
his one passion was for beauty; and it was in the guise of Romance
that beauty revealed itself to him.  He was from the first determined
not only to write but to live Romance, and when fate threw in his way
a world-historic opportunity, he seized it with delight.
He knew that he was dicing with Death, but that was the very essence
of his ideal; and he knew that if Death won the throw,
his ideal was crowned and consummated, for ever safe
from the withering touch of time, or accidental soilure.
If it had been given to Swinburne to fall, rifle in hand,
on, say, the field of Mentana, we should have been the poorer
by many splendid verses, but the richer by a heroic life-story.
And would his lot have been the less enviable?  Nay, surely, much the more.
That is the thought which may well bring solace to those
who loved Alan Seeger, and who may at first have felt as an unmixed cruelty
the cutting short of so eager, so generous, so gallant a life.

The description "Juvenilia" attached to the first series of these poems
is of his own choosing.  It is for the reader to judge
what allowance is to be made for unripeness, whether of substance or of form.
Criticism is none of my present business.  But I think no discerning reader
can fail to be impressed by one great virtue pervading all the poet's work
-- its absolute sincerity.  There is no pose, no affectation of any sort.
There are marks of the loving study of other poets, and these the best.
We are frequently reminded of this singer and of that.  The young American
is instinctively loyal to the long tradition of English literature.
He is content to undergo the influence of the great masters,
and does not seek for premature originality on the by-paths of eccentricity.
But while he is the disciple of many, he is the vassal of none.
His matter is always his own, the fruit of personal vision, experience,
imagination, even if he may now and then unconsciously pour it into a mould
provided by another.  He is no mere echo of the rhythms of this poet,
or mimic of that other's attitude and outlook.  The great zest of living
which inspires him is far too real and intense to clothe itself
in the trappings of any alien individuality.  He is too straightforward
to be even dramatic.  It is not his instinct to put on a mask,
even for purposes of artistic personation, and much less of affectation.

If ever there was a being who said "Yea" to life, accepted it
as a glorious gift, and was determined to live it with all his might,
it was Alan Seeger.  Such a frame of mind is too instinctive and temperamental
to be called optimism.  It is not the result of a balancing of good and ill,
and a reasoned decision that good preponderates.  Rather it is
a direct perception, an intuition, of the beauty and wonder of the universe
-- an intuition too overpowering to be seriously disturbed
by the existence of pain and evil, some of which, at any rate,
has its value as a foil, a background, to joy.  This was the message
-- not a philosophy but an irresistible emotion -- which he sought to deliver
through the medium of an art which he seriously studied and deeply loved.
It spoke from the very depths of his being, and the poems in which
it found utterance, whatever their purely literary qualities,
have at least the value of a first-hand human document,
the sincere self-portraiture of a vivid and virile soul.

There are three more or less clearly-marked elements in a poet's equipment --
observation, passion, reflection, or in simpler terms,
seeing, feeling and thinking.  The first two are richly represented
in the following poems, the third, as was natural, much less so.
The poet was too fully occupied in garnering impressions and experiences
to think of co-ordinating and interpreting them.  That would have come later;
and later, too, would have come a general deepening of the spiritual content
of his work.  There had been nothing in either his outward or his inward life
that could fairly be called suffering or struggle.  He had not sounded
the depths of human experience, which is as much as to say that
neither had he risen to the heights.  This he no doubt recognised himself,
and was not thinking merely of the date of composition
when he called his pre-war poems "Juvenilia".  Great emotions,
and perhaps great sorrows, would have come to him in due time,
and would have deepened and enriched his vein of song.
The first great emotion which found him, when he rallied
to the trumpet-call of France and freedom, did, as a matter of fact,
lend new reality and poignancy to his verse; but the soldier's life
left him small leisure for composition.  We must regard his work, then,
as a fragment, a mere foretaste of what he might have achieved
had his life been prolonged.  But, devoted though he was to his art,
he felt that to live greatly is better than to write greatly.
The unfulfilment of his poetic hopes and dreams meant
the fulfilment of a higher ambition.


Alan Seeger was born in New York on June 22nd, 1888.
His father and his mother belonged to old New England families.

When he was a year old his parents removed to Staten Island,
which forms, as it were, the stopper to the bottle of New York harbour.
There he remained until his tenth year, growing up along with
a brother and a sister, the one a little older, the other a little younger,
than himself.  From their home on the heights of Staten Island,
the children looked out day by day upon one of the most romantic scenes
in the world -- the gateway to the Western Hemisphere.
They could see the great steamships of all the nations
threading their way through the Narrows and passing in procession
up the glorious expanse of New York Bay, to which the incessant local traffic
of tug-boats, river steamers and huge steam-ferries lent
an ever-shifting animation.  In the foreground lay Robbins Reef Lighthouse,
in the middle distance the Statue of Liberty, in the background
the giant curves of Brooklyn Bridge, and, range over range,
the mountainous buildings of "down town" New York -- not then as colossal
as they are to-day, but already unlike anything else under the sun.
And the incoming stream of tramps and liners met the outgoing stream
which carried the imagination seaward, to the islands of the buccaneers,
and the haunts of all the heroes and villains of history, in the Old World.
The children did not look with incurious eyes upon this stirring scene.
They knew the names of all the great European liners and of the warships
passing to and from the Navy Yard; and the walls of their nursery
were covered with their drawings of the shipping, rude enough, no doubt,
but showing accurate observation of such details as funnels,
masts and rigging.  They were of an age, before they left Staten Island,
to realize something of the historic implications of their environment.

In 1898 the family returned to New York, and there Alan continued
at the Horace Mann School the education begun at the Staten Island Academy.
The great delight of the ten-year-old schoolboy was to follow
the rushing fire-engines which were an almost daily feature
in the life of the New York streets.  Even in manhood he could never resist
the lure of the fire-alarm.

Two years later (1900) came a new migration, which no doubt exercised
a determining influence on the boy's development.  The family removed
to Mexico, and there Alan spent a great part of the most impressionable years
of his youth.  If New York embodies the romance of Power,
Mexico represents to perfection the romance of Picturesqueness.
To pass from the United States to Mexico is like passing at one bound from
the New World to the Old.  Wherever it has not been recently Americanized,
its beauty is that of sunbaked, somnolent decay.  It is in many ways
curiously like its mother -- or rather its step-mother -- country, Spain.
But Spain can show nothing to equal the spacious magnificence of its scenery
or the picturesqueness of its physiognomies and its costumes.
And then it is the scene of the most fascinating adventure
recorded in history -- an exploit which puts to shame
the imagination of the greatest masters of romance.
It is true that the Mexico City of to-day shows scanty traces
(except in its Museum) of the Tenochtitlan of Montezuma;
but the vast amphitheatre on which it stands is still wonderfully impressive,
and still the great silver cones of Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl
look down upon it from their immaculate altitudes.

Though well within the tropics, the great elevation of the city (7400 feet)
renders its climate very attractive to those for whom height has no terrors;
and the Seegers soon became greatly attached to it.
For two very happy years, it was the home of the whole family.
The children had a tutor whom they respected and loved,
and who helped to develop their taste for poetry and good literature.
"One of our keenest pleasures," writes one of the family, "was to go in a body
to the old book-shops, and on Sunday morning to the `Thieves Market',
to rummage for treasures; and many were the Elzevirs and worm-eaten,
vellum-bound volumes from the old convent libraries that fell into our hands.
At that time we issued a home magazine called `The Prophet',
in honour of a large painting that we had acquired and chose to consider
as the patron of our household.  The magazine was supposed to appear monthly,
but was always months behind its time.  Alan was the sporting editor,
but his literary ability had even then begun to appear,
and he overstepped his department with contributions of poetry
and lengthy essays.  No copies of this famous periodical are extant:
they all went down in the wreck of the `Merida'."

In the chilly days of winter, frequent visits were paid
to the lower levels of the `tierra templada', especially to Cuernavaca,
one of the "show" places of the country.  The children learned to ride
and to cycle, and were thus able to extend their excursions on all sides.
When, after two years, they went back to the United States to school,
they were already familiar with Mexican nature and life;
and they kept their impressions fresh by frequent vacation visits.
It must have been a delightful experience to slip down every now and then
to the tropics:  first to pass under the pink walls of Morro Castle
into the wide lagoon of Havana; then to cross the Spanish Main to Vera Cruz;
then, after skirting the giant escarpment of Orizaba,
to crawl zigzagging up the almost precipitous ascent
that divides the `tierra templada' from the `tierra fria';
and finally to speed through the endless agave-fields of the upland haciendas,
to Mexico City and home.

Mexico, and the experiences associated with it, have left deep marks
on Alan Seeger's poetry.  The vacation voyages thither
speak in this apostrophe from the "Ode to Antares":
  
    Star of the South that now through orient mist
    At nightfall off Tampico or Belize
    Greetest the sailor, rising from those seas
    Where first in me, a fond romanticist,
    The tropic sunset's bloom on cloudy piles
    Cast out industrious cares with dreams of fabulous isles. . . .

The longest of his poems, "The Deserted Garden" -- a veritable gallery
of imaginative landscape -- is entirely Mexican in colouring.
Indeed we may conjecture without too much rashness that it is a mere expansion
of the sonnet entitled "Tezcotzinco", the fruit of a solitary excursion
to the ruins of Nezahualcoyotl's baths, in the hills beyond Tezcoco.
But even where there is no painting of definite Mexican scenes,
motives from the vast uplands with their cloud pageantry,
and from the palm-fringed, incandescent coasts, frequently recur in his verse.
For instance, he had not forgotten Mexico when he wrote in a volume
of the Comtesse de Noailles:
  
    Be my companion under cool arcades
    That frame some drowsy street and dazzling square,
    Beyond whose flowers and palm-tree promenades
    White belfries burn in the blue tropic air.

And even when the tropics were finally left behind,
he carried with him in his memory their profusion of colour,
an ever-ready palette on which to draw.  Assuredly it was a fortunate chance
that took this lover of sunlight and space and splendor,
in his most receptive years, to regions where they superabound.
Perhaps, had he been confined to gloomier climates, he could not have written:
  
                   From a boy
    I gloated on existence.  Earth to me
    Seemed all-sufficient, and my sojourn there
    One trembling opportunity for joy.

But the same good fortune pursued him throughout.  He seemed predestined
to environments of beauty.  When, at fourteen, he left his Mexican home,
it was to go to the Hackley School at Tarrytown, N.Y., an institution
placed on a high hill overlooking that noblest of rivers, the Hudson,
and surrounded by a domain of its own, extending to many acres
of meadow and woodland.  An attack of scarlet fever in his childhood
had left his health far from robust, and it was thought
that the altitude of Mexico City was too great for him.
He therefore spent one of his vacations among the hills of New Hampshire,
and was afterwards given a year out of school, with the family
of his former tutor, in Southern California -- again a region
famed for its beauty.  He returned much improved in health,
and after a concluding year at Hackley, he entered Harvard College in 1906.

He now plunged into wide and miscellaneous reading, both at Harvard,
and at the magnificent Boston Library.  During his first two years at college,
his bent seemed to lie rather towards the studious and contemplative
than towards the active life.  His brother, at this time,
appeared to him to be of a more pleasure-loving and adventurous disposition;
and there exists a letter to his mother in which, after contrasting,
with obvious allusion to Chaucer's "Prologue", the mediaeval ideals
of the Knight and the Clerk, he adds:  "C. is the Knight and I the Clerk,
deriving more keen pleasure from the perusal of a musty old volume
than in pursuing adventure out in the world."  But about the middle
of his Harvard career, a marked change came over his habits of thought
and of action.  He emerged from his shell, made many friends,
and threw himself with great zest into the social life of his comrades.
It is evident, however, that this did not mean any slackening
in his literary interests.  His work gives ample proof of real,
if not of systematic, culture.  He genuinely loves and has made his own
many of the great things of the past.  His translations from
Dante and Ariosto, for example, show no less sympathy than accomplishment.
Very characteristic is his selection of the Twenty-sixth Canto
of the `Inferno', in which the narrative of Ulysses brings with it
a breath from the great romance of the antique world.  It is noteworthy
that before he graduated he took up with zeal and with distinction
the study of Celtic literature -- a corrective, perhaps, in its cooler tones,
to the tropical motives with which his mind was stored.
He was one of the editors of the `Harvard Monthly', to which he made
frequent contributions of verse.

There followed two years (1910-12) in New York -- probably the
least satisfactory years of his life.  The quest of beauty
is scarcely a profession, and it caused his parents some concern
to find him pausing irresolute on the threshold of manhood,
instead of setting himself a goal and bracing his energies
for its achievement.  In 1911 his mother and sister left Mexico,
a week or two before Porfirio Diaz made his exit, and the Maderists
entered the capital.  They returned to New York, to find Alan still unsettled,
and possessed with the thought, or perhaps rather the instinct,
that the life he craved for was not to be found in America,
but awaited him in Europe.  In the following year he carried his point,
and set off for Paris -- a departure which may fairly be called his Hegira,
the turning-point of his history.  That it shortened his span
there can be little doubt.  Had he settled down to literary work,
in his native city, he might have lived to old age.  But it secured him
four years of the tense and poignant joy of living on which his heart was set;
and during two of these years the joy was of a kind which
absolved him for ever from the reproach of mere hedonism and self-indulgence.
He would certainly have said -- or rather he was continually saying,
in words full of passionate conviction --
  
    One crowded hour of glorious life
    Is worth an age without a name.

It was in the spirit of a romanticist of the eighteen-forties that
he plunged into the life of Paris.  He had a room near the Musee de Cluny,
and he found himself thoroughly at home among the artists and students
of the Latin Quarter, though he occasionally varied the `Vie de Boheme'
by excursions into "society" of a more orthodox type.
Paris has had many lovers, but few more devoted than Alan Seeger.
He accepted the life of "die singende, springende, schoene Paris"
with a curious whole-heartedness.  Here and there we find evidence
-- for instance, in the first two sonnets -- that he was not blind
to its seamy side.  But on the whole he appears to have seen beauty
even in aspects of it for which it is almost as difficult
to find aesthetic as moral justification.  The truth is, no doubt,
that the whole spectacle was plunged for him in the glamour of romance.
Paris did not belong to the working-day world, but was like
Baghdad or Samarcand, a city of the Arabian Nights.
How his imagination transfigured it we may see in such a passage as this:
  
    By silvery waters in the plains afar
    Glimmers the inland city like a star,
    With gilded gates and sunny spires ablaze,
    And burnished domes half seen through luminous haze.
    Lo, with what opportunity earth teems!
    How like a fair its ample beauty seems!
    Fluttering with flags its proud pavilions rise:
    What bright bazaars, what marvellous merchandise,
    Down seething alleys what melodious din,
    What clamor, importuning from every booth:
    At Earth's great mart where Joy is trafficked in
    Buy while thy purse yet swells with golden Youth!

Into this fair he sallied forth, not as one to the manner born,
but with the eagerness of a traveller from a far country, who feels as though
he were living in a dream.  His attitude to the whole experience
is curiously ingenuous, but perfectly sane and straightforward.
It is the Paris of Murger in which he lives, not the Paris
of Baudelaire and the Second Empire.  He takes his experiences lightly.
There is no sign either of any struggle of the soul or of any very rending
tempest of the heart.  There is no posing, self-conscious Byronism,
nor any of that morbid dallying with the idea of "sin"
which gives such an unpleasant flavor to a good deal of romantic poetry,
both French and English.  There are traces of disappointment and disillusion,
but they are accepted without a murmur as inevitable incidents
of a great, absorbing experience.  All this means, of course,
that there is no tragic depth, and little analytic subtlety, in these poems.
They are the work of a young man enamoured of his youth,
enthusiastically grateful for the gift of life, and entirely at his ease
within his own moral code.  He had known none of what he himself calls
"that kind of affliction which alone can unfold the profundities
of the human spirit."

It was in Paris that he produced most of the "Juvenilia".  He included
only a few of the pieces which he had written at Harvard and in New York.
Thus all, or nearly all, the poems ranged under that title, are, as he said --
  
         Relics of the time when I too fared
    Across the sweet fifth lustrum of my days.

Paris, however, did not absorb him entirely during these years.
He would occasionally set forth on long tramps through the French provinces;
for he loved every aspect of that gracious country.  He once spent some weeks
with a friend in Switzerland; but this experience seems to have left no trace
in his work.


Then came the fateful year 1914.  His "Juvenilia" having grown
to a passable bulk, he brought them in the early summer to London,
with a view to finding a publisher for them; but it does not appear
that he took any very active steps to that effect.  His days were mainly spent
in the British Museum, and his evenings with a coterie of friends
at the Cafe Royal.  In the middle of July, his father came to England
and spent a week with him.  Of this meeting Mr. Seeger writes:

==
We passed three days at Canterbury -- three days of such intimacy
as we had hardly had since he was a boy in Mexico.  For four or five years
I had only seen him a few days at a time, during my hurried visits
to the United States.  We explored the old town together,
heard services in the Cathedral, and had long talks in the close.
After service in the Cathedral on a Monday morning,
the last of our stay at Canterbury, Alan was particularly enthusiastic
over the reading of the Psalms, and said "Was there ever such English written
as that of the Bible?"  I said good-bye to Alan on July 25th.
==

Two days earlier, the Austrian Ultimatum had been presented to Serbia;
on that very day the time limit expired, the Serbian reply was rejected,
and the Austrian Minister left Belgrade.  The wheels of fate
were already whirling.

As soon as it became evident that a European war was inevitable
Alan returned to Paris.  He took Bruges on his way, and there left
the manuscript of his poems in the keeping of a printer,
not foreseeing the risks to which he was thus exposing them.

The war was not three weeks old when, along with forty or fifty
of his fellow-countrymen, he enlisted in the Foreign Legion of France.
Why did he take this step?  Fundamentally, no doubt, because he felt war
to be one of the supreme experiences of life, from which,
when it offered itself, he could not shrink without disloyalty to his ideal.
Long before the war was anything more than a vague possibility,
he had imagined the time
  
    . . . when courted Death shall claim my limbs and find them
     Laid in some desert place alone, or where the tides
    Of war's tumultuous waves on the wet sands behind them
     Leave rifts of gasping life when their red flood subsides.

So far back indeed as May, 1912, he had written to his mother from Paris:
"Is it not fine the way the Balkan States are triumphing?
I have been so excited over the war, it would have needed
a very small opportunity to have taken me over there."  It is evident, then,
that the soldier's life had long been included among the possibilities
which fascinated him.  But apart from this general proclivity to adventure,
this desire to "live dangerously", he was impelled by a simple sentiment
of loyalty to the country and city of his heart, which he himself explained
in a letter written from the Aisne trenches to `The New Republic'
(New York, May 22, 1915):

==
I have talked with so many of the young volunteers here.  Their case
is little known, even by the French, yet altogether interesting and appealing.
They are foreigners on whom the outbreak of war laid no formal compulsion.
But they had stood on the butte in springtime perhaps,
as Julian and Louise stood, and looked out over the myriad twinkling lights
of the beautiful city.  Paris -- mystic, maternal, personified,
to whom they owed the happiest moments of their lives -- Paris was in peril.
Were they not under a moral obligation, no less binding than [that by which]
their comrades were bound legally, to put their breasts between her
and destruction?  Without renouncing their nationality, they had yet chosen
to make their homes here beyond any other city in the world.
Did not the benefits and blessings they had received point them a duty
that heart and conscience could not deny?

"Why did you enlist?"  In every case the answer was the same.
That memorable day in August came.  Suddenly the old haunts were desolate,
the boon companions had gone.  It was unthinkable to leave the danger to them
and accept only the pleasures oneself, to go on enjoying
the sweet things of life in defence of which they were perhaps even then
shedding their blood in the north.  Some day they would return,
and with honor -- not all, but some.  The old order of things
would have irrevocably vanished.  There would be a new companionship
whose bond would be the common danger run, the common sufferings borne,
the common glory shared.  "And where have you been all the time,
and what have you been doing?"  The very question would be a reproach,
though none were intended.  How could they endure it?

Face to face with a situation like that, a man becomes reconciled,
justifies easily the part he is playing, and comes to understand,
in a universe where logic counts for so little and sentiment and the impulse
of the heart for so much, the inevitableness and naturalness of war.
Suddenly the world is up in arms.  All mankind takes sides.  The same faith
that made him surrender himself to the impulses of normal living and of love,
forces him now to make himself the instrument through which a greater force
works out its inscrutable ends through the impulses of terror and repulsion.
And with no less a sense of moving in harmony with a universe
where masses are in continual conflict and new combinations are engendered
out of eternal collisions, he shoulders arms and marches forth with haste.
==

Already in this passage we can discern the fatalistic acceptance of war
which runs through many of his utterances on the subject,
and may be read especially in the noble conclusion of his poem, "The Hosts":
  
    There was a stately drama writ
    By the hand that peopled the earth & air
    And set the stars in the infinite
    And made night gorgeous & morning fair;
    And all that had sense to reason knew
    That bloody drama must be gone through.
    Some sat & watched how the action veered --
    Waited, profited, trembled, cheered --
    We saw not clearly nor understood,
    But, yielding ourselves to the master hand,
    Each in his part, as best he could,
    We played it through as the author planned.

It was not, in his own conception, a "war against war" that he was waging;
it was simply a fight for freedom and for France.  Some of us may hope
and believe that, in after years, when he was at leisure
to view history in perspective and carry his psychology a little deeper,
he would have allowed, if not more potency, at any rate more adaptability,
to the human will.  In order to do so, it would not have been necessary
to abandon his fatalistic creed.  He would have seen, perhaps,
that even if we only will what we have to will, the factors which shape
the will -- of the individual, the nation, or the race -- are always changing,
and that it is not only possible but probable that the factors
which make for peace may one day gain the upper hand of those which
(for perfectly definite and tangible reasons) have hitherto made for war.
The fact remains, however, that he shouldered his knapsack
without any theoretic distaste for the soldier's calling.
In so far he was more happily situated than thousands who have made
all the better soldiers for their intense detestation of the stupidity of war.
But this in no way detracts from his loyalty to his personal ideal,
or from the high chivalry of his devotion to France.

The story of his life as a soldier shall be told, so far as possible,
in his own words.

After some brief preliminary training at Rouen he was sent to Toulouse.
Thence, on September 28, 1914, he wrote as follows:

==
                                             2me Regiment Etranger,
                                        Bataillon C., 1re. Cie, 3me Section.
                                             Toulouse, Sept. 28, 1914.

Dear Mother,

. . .  We have been putting in our time here at very hard drilling,
and are supposed to have learned in six weeks what the ordinary recruit,
in times of peace, takes all his two years at.  We rise at 5,
and work stops in the afternoon at 5.  A twelve hours day at one sou a day.
I hope to earn higher wages than this in time to come, but I never expect
to work harder.  The early rising hour is splendid for it gives one the chance
to see the most beautiful part of these beautiful autumn days in the South.
We march up to a lovely open field on the end of the ridge
behind the barracks, walking right into the rising sun.
From this panorama, spread about on three sides is incomparably fine
-- yellow cornfields, vineyards, harvest-fields where
the workers and their teams can be seen moving about in tiny figures --
poplars, little hamlets and church-towers, and far away to the south
the blue line of the Pyrenees, the high peaks capped with snow.
It makes one in love with life, it is all so peaceful and beautiful.
But Nature to me is not only hills and blue skies and flowers,
but the Universe, the totality of things, reality as it most obviously
presents itself to us; and in this universe strife and sternness
play as big a part as love and tenderness, and cannot be shirked
by one whose will it is to rule his life in accordance with the cosmic forces
he sees in play about him.  I hope you see the thing as I do, and think
that I have done well, being without responsibilities and with no one
to suffer materially by my decision, in taking upon my shoulders, too,
the burden that so much of humanity is suffering under,
and, rather than stand ingloriously aside when the opportunity was given me,
doing my share for the side that I think right. . . .
==

The battalion must have left Toulouse almost immediately
after this was written, for in a post-card of October 10,
from the Camp de Mailly, Aube, he says that they have been there ten days.
A week later he wrote:

==
. . .  After two weeks here and less than two months from enlistment,
we are actually going at last to the firing line.  By the time
you receive this we shall already perhaps have had our `bapteme de feu'.
We have been engaged in the hardest kind of hard work
-- two weeks of beautiful autumn weather on the whole,
frosty nights and sunny days and beautiful coloring on the sparse foliage
that breaks here and there the wide rolling expanses of open country.
Every day, from the distance to the north, has come the booming of the cannon
around Reims and the lines along the Meuse. . . .  But imagine how thrilling
it will be tomorrow and the following days, marching toward the front
with the noise of battle growing continually louder before us.
I could tell you where we are going, but I do not want to run any risk
of having this letter stopped by the censor.  The whole regiment is going,
four battalions, about 4000 men.  You have no idea how beautiful it is to see
the troops undulating along the road in front of one, in `colonnes par quatre'
as far as the eye can see, with the captains and lieutenants on horseback
at the head of their companies. . . .  Tomorrow the real hardship
and privations begin.  But I go into action with the lightest of light hearts.
The hard work and moments of frightful fatigue have not broken
but hardened me, and I am in excellent health and spirits. . . .
I am happy and full of excitement over the wonderful days that are ahead.
It was such a comfort to receive your letter, and know that you approved
of my action.
==

In a post-card of October 20, postmarked "Vertus", he says:

==
This is the second night's halt of our march to the front.  All our way
has been one immense battlefield.  It was a magnificent victory for the French
that the world does not fully realize.  I think we are marching
to victory too, but whatever we are going to we are going triumphantly.
==

On October 23, he writes from "17 kil. south-east of Reims".

==
Dear Mother. . . .  I am sitting on the curbstone of a street
at the edge of the town.  The houses end abruptly and the yellow vineyards
begin here.  The view is broad and uninterrupted to the crest
ten kilometers or so across the valley.  Between this and ourselves are
the lines of the two armies.  A fierce cannonading is going on continually,
and I lift my eyes from the sheet at each report, to see the puffs of smoke
two or three miles off.  The Germans have been firing salvoes of four shots
over a little village where the French batteries are stationed,
shrapnel that burst in little puffs of white smoke; the French reply
with explosive shells that raise columns of dust over the German lines.
Half of our regiment have left already for the trenches.  We may go tonight.
We have made a march of about 75 kilometers in four days, and are now
on the front, ready to be called on at any moment.  I am feeling fine,
in my element, for I have always thirsted for this kind of thing,
to be present always where the pulsations are liveliest.  Every minute here
is worth weeks of ordinary experience.  How beautiful the view is here,
over the sunny vineyards!  And what a curious anomaly.
On this slope the grape pickers are singing merrily at their work,
on the other the batteries are roaring.  Boom!  Boom!

This will spoil one for any other kind of life.  The yellow afternoon sunlight
is sloping gloriously across this beautiful valley of Champagne.
Aeroplanes pass continually overhead on reconnaissance.  I must mail this now.
There is too much to be said and too little time to say it.
So glad to get your letter.  Love and lots of it to all.

                                                            Alan.
==

Alas! the hopes of swift, decisive action with which the Legion advanced
were destined to disappointment.  They soon settled down for the winter into
the monotonous hardships of trench warfare.  Alan described this experience
in admirably vivid letters published in the New York `Sun',
from which a few extracts must suffice.  He writes on December 8,
during his fourth period of service in the trenches:

==
We left our camp in the woods before daybreak this morning,
and marched up the hill in single file, under the winter stars. . . .
Through openings in the woods we could see that we were marching
along a high ridge, and on either hand vaporous depths and distances expanded,
the darkness broken sometimes by a far light or the momentary glow
of a magnesium rocket sent up from the German lines.
There is something fascinating if one is stationed on sentry-duty
immediately after arrival, in watching the dawn slowly illumine
one of these new landscapes, from a position taken up under cover of darkness.
The other section has been relieved and departs.  We are given the `consigne',
by the preceding sentinel, and are left alone behind a mound of dirt,
facing the north and the blank, perilous night.  Slowly the mystery
that it shrouds resolves as the grey light steals over the eastern hills.
Like a photograph in the washing, its high lights and shadows
come gradually forth.  The light splash in the foreground
becomes a ruined chateau, the grey street a demolished village.

The details come out on the hillside opposite, where the silent trenches
of the enemy are hidden a few hundred metres away.  We find ourselves
in a woody, mountainous country, with broad horizons and streaks of mist
in the valleys.  Our position is excellent this time, a high crest,
with open land sloping down from the trenches and plenty of barbed wire
strung along immediately in front.  It would be a hard task
to carry such a line, and there is not much danger that the enemy will try.

With increasing daylight the sentinel takes a sheltered position,
and surveys his new environment through little gaps where the mounds
have been crenellated and covered with branches.  Suddenly he starts
as a metallic bang rings out from the woods immediately behind him.
It is of the unmistakable voice of a French 75 starting the day's
artillery duel.  By the time the sentinel is relieved, in broad daylight,
the cannonade is general all along the line.  He surrenders his post
to a comrade, and crawls down into his bombproof dugout almost reluctantly,
for the long day of inactive waiting has commenced.
==

Though he never expresses even a momentary regret for the choice he has made,
he freely admits that trench warfare is "anything but romantic".
For the artilleryman it is "doubtless very interesting"
but "the poor common soldier" has a pretty mean time of it:

==
His rule is simply to dig himself a hole in the ground
and to keep hidden in it as tightly as possible.  Continually under
the fire of the opposing batteries, he is yet never allowed
to get a glimpse of the enemy.  Exposed to all the dangers of war,
but with none of its enthusiasm or splendid elan, he is condemned to sit
like an animal in its burrow, and hear the shells whistle over his head,
and take their little daily toll from his comrades.

The winter morning dawns with grey skies and the hoar frost on the fields.
His feet are numb, his canteen frozen, but he is not allowed to make a fire.
The winter night falls, with its prospect of sentry-duty,
and the continual apprehension of the hurried call to arms; he is not
even permitted to light a candle, but must fold himself in his blanket
and lie down cramped in the dirty straw to sleep as best he may.
How different from the popular notion of the evening campfire,
the songs and good cheer.
==

Of the commissariat arrangements he gives, on the whole, a very good account;
but he admits that "to supplement the regular rations with luxuries
such as butter, cheese, preserves, & especially chocolate,
is a matter that occupies more of the young soldier's thoughts
than the invisible enemy.  Our corporal told us the other day
that there wasn't a man in the squad that wouldn't exchange his rifle
for a jar of jam."  But "though modern warfare allows us to think
more about eating than fighting, still we do not actually forget
that we are in a battle line."

==
Ever over our heads goes on the precise and scientific struggle
of the artillery.  Packed elbow to elbow in these obscure galleries,
one might be content to squat all day long, auditor of the magnificent
orchestra of battle, were it not that one becomes so soon habituated to it
that it is no longer magnificent.  We hear the voices of cannon
of all calibres and at all distances.  We learn to read the score
& distinguish the instruments.  Near us are field batteries;
far away are siege guns.  Over all there is the unmistakable,
sharp, metallic twang of the French 75, the whistle of its shell
and the lesser report of its explosion.
==

And every now and then comes the bursting of a shell immediately overhead,
and the rattle of its fragments on the roof of the bomb-proof dug-out.
Think what it must have meant to this eager, ardent, pleasure-loving spirit
to sit out, day after day, in a chill, sodden, verminous trench,
a grand orchestral concert of this music of human madness!

The solitude of sentry-duty evidently comes to him as something of a relief.
"It may," he says, "be all that is melancholy if the night is bad
and the winter wind moans through the pines"; but it also
"brings moments of exaltation, if the cloud-banks roll back,
if the moonlight breaks over the windless hills, or the heavens blaze
with the beauty of the northern stars."

==
The sentinel has ample time for reflection.  Alone under the stars,
war in its cosmic rather than its moral aspect reveals itself to him. . . .
He thrills with the sense of filling an appointed, necessary place
in the conflict of hosts, and, facing the enemy's crest,
above which the Great Bear wheels upward to the zenith, he feels,
with a sublimity of enthusiasm that he has never before known,
a kind of companionship with the stars.
==

Six days in the trenches alternated with a three days' interval of rest
"either billeted in the stables and haylofts of the village or encamped
in the woods and around the chateau."  Thus the winter of 1914-15 wore away,
with little to break its monotony.  The heaviest fighting
was all to the northward.  One gathers from his poem "The Aisne"
that at Craonne he took part in the repulse of a serious enemy attack;
but there is no mention of this in the letters before me.

On March 12, 1915, he writes to his mother in fierce indignation
over something that has appeared in an American paper as to life
in the Foreign Legion.  The writer of the "disgraceful article", he says,
"like many others of his type, was long ago eliminated from our ranks,
for a person buoyed up by no noble purpose is the first to succumb
to the hardships of the winter that we have been through. . . .
If his lies did nothing worse than belittle his comrades,
who are here for motives that he is unable to conceive,
it would be only dishonourable.  But when it comes to throwing discredit
on the French Government, that in all its treatment of us
has been generous beyond anything that one would think possible,
it is too shameful for any words to characterize."

With the coming of spring, there was of course some mitigation of the trials
of the winter.  Here is an almost idyllic passage from a letter to his sister,
written on the fly-leaves of `Les Confessions de J. J. Rousseau',
Geneve, MDCCLXXXII:

==
We put in a very pleasant week here -- nine hours of guard at night
in our outposts up on the hillside; in the daytime sleep, or foraging
in the ruined villages, loafing in the pretty garden of the chateau,
or reading up in the library.  We have cleaned this up now,
and it is an altogether curious sensation to recline here in an easy-chair,
reading some fine old book, and just taking the precaution
not to stay in front of the glassless windows through which
the sharpshooters can snipe at you from their posts in the thickets
on the slopes of the plateau, not six hundred metres away.
Sometimes our artillery opens up and then you lay down your book for a while,
and, looking through a peek-hole, watch the 75's and 120's
throw up fountains of dirt and debris all along the line
of the enemy's trenches.
==

"Spring has come here at last," so the letter closes, "and we are having
beautiful weather.  I am going in swimming in the Aisne this afternoon
for the first time.  In fine health and spirits."

During the summer, the Legion was moved about a good deal
from sector to sector, and Alan often found himself in pleasant places,
and got a good deal of positive enjoyment out of his life.
On June 18, 1915, he wrote to his mother:

==
You must not be anxious about my not coming back.  The chances are
about ten to one that I will.  But if I should not, you must be proud,
like a Spartan mother, and feel that it is your contribution
to the triumph of the cause whose righteousness you feel so keenly.
Everybody should take part in this struggle which is to have
so decisive an effect, not only on the nations engaged but on all humanity.
There should be no neutrals, but everyone should bear some part of the burden.
If so large a part should fall to your share, you would be in so far
superior to other women and should be correspondingly proud.
There would be nothing to regret, for I could not have done otherwise
than I did, and I think I could not have done better.
Death is nothing terrible after all.  It may mean something
even more wonderful than life.  It cannot possibly mean anything worse
to the good soldier.
==

The same note recurs in a letter of two weeks later (July 3):

==
Whether I am on the winning or losing side is not the point with me:
it is being on the side where my sympathies lie that matters,
and I am ready to see it through to the end.  Success in life
means doing that thing than which nothing else conceivable
seems more noble or satisfying or remunerative, and this enviable state
I can truly say that I enjoy, for had I the choice I would be
nowhere else in the world than where I am.
==

In this letter he says that an article about Rupert Brooke
in which his name was mentioned "gave him rather more pain than pleasure,
for it rubbed in the matter which most rankled in his heart,
that he never could get his book of poems published before the war."
However he consoles himself with the reflection that the M.S.
is probably as safe at Bruges as anywhere else.  "We have finished
our eighth month on the firing line," he says, "and rumors are going round
of an imminent return to the rear for reorganization."

These rumors proved to be well founded, and on July 17,
he wrote on a picture-postcard representing the Lion of Belfort:

==
We have finally come to the rear for a little rest and reorganization,
and are cantoned in a valley not far from Belfort, in the extreme east
of France, very near the Swiss frontier.  Since I wrote you last,
all the Americans in the regiment received 48 hours permission in Paris,
and it was a great happiness to get back even for so short a while
and to see again old scenes and faces after almost a year's absence.
We shall be here several weeks perhaps.
==

Three weeks later (August 8) he wrote to his mother:

==
. . .  I have always had the passion to play the biggest part within my reach,
and it is really in a sense a supreme success to be allowed to play this.
If I do not come out, I will share the good fortune of those who disappear
at the pinnacle of their careers.  Come to love France and understand
the almost unexampled nobility of the effort this admirable people is making,
for that will be the surest way of your finding comfort
for anything that I am ready to suffer in their cause.
==

The spell of rest lasted some two months, and then the Legion
returned to the front in time for the battle in Champagne
"in which" he writes "we took part from the beginning,
the morning of the memorable 25th. September."  I cannot resist
quoting at some length from the admirably vivid letter
in which he gave an account of this experience:

==
The part we played in the battle is briefly as follows.
We broke camp about 11 o'clock the night of the 24th, and marched up
through ruined Souain to our place in one of the numerous `boyaux'
where the `troupes d'attaque' were massed.  The cannonade was pretty violent
all that night, as it had been for several days previous, but toward dawn
it reached an intensity unimaginable to anyone who has not seen
a modern battle.  A little before 9.15 the fire lessened suddenly,
and the crackle of the fusillade between the reports of the cannon
told us that the first wave of assault had left and the attack begun.
At the same time we received the order to advance.  The German artillery
had now begun to open upon us in earnest.  Amid the most infernal roar of
every kind of fire-arms, and through an atmosphere heavy with dust and smoke,
we marched up through the `boyaux' to the `tranchees de depart'.
At shallow places and over breaches that shells had made in the bank,
we caught momentary glimpses of the blue lines sweeping up the hillside
or silhouetted on the crest where they poured into the German trenches.
When the last wave of the Colonial brigade had left, we followed.
`Bayonette au canon', in lines of `tirailleurs', we crossed
the open space between the lines, over the barbed wire,
where not so many of our men were lying as I had feared,
(thanks to the efficacy of the bombardment) and over the German trench,
knocked to pieces and filled with their dead.  In some places
they still resisted in isolated groups.  Opposite us, all was over,
and the herds of prisoners were being already led down as we went up.
We cheered, more in triumph than in hate; but the poor devils,
terror-stricken, held up their hands, begged for their lives,
cried "Kamerad", "Bon Francais", even "Vive la France".
We advanced and lay down in columns by twos behind the second crest.
Meanwhile, bridges had been thrown across trenches and `boyaux',
and the artillery, leaving the emplacements where they had been
anchored a whole year, came across and took position in the open,
a magnificent spectacle.  Squadrons of cavalry came up.
Suddenly the long, unpicturesque `guerre de tranchees' was at an end,
and the field really presented the aspect of the familiar battle pictures, --
the battalions in manoeuvre, the officers, superbly indifferent to danger,
galloping about on their chargers.  But now the German guns, moved back,
began to get our range, and the shells to burst over and around
batteries and troops, many with admirable precision.  Here my best comrade
was struck down by shrapnel at my side, -- painfully but not mortally wounded.

I often envied him after that.  For now our advanced troops
were in contact with the German second-line defenses,
and these proved to be of a character so formidable
that all further advance without a preliminary artillery preparation
was out of the question.  And our role, that of troops in reserve,
was to lie passive in an open field under a shell fire that every hour
became more terrific, while aeroplanes and captive balloons,
to which we were entirely exposed, regulated the fire.

That night we spent in the rain.  With portable picks and shovels
each man dug himself in as well as possible.  The next day
our concentrated artillery again began the bombardment,
and again the fusillade announced the entrance of the infantry into action.
But this time only the wounded appeared coming back, no prisoners.
I went out and gave water to one of these, eager to get news.
It was a young soldier, wounded in the hand.  His face and voice
bespoke the emotion of the experience he had been through,
in a way that I will never forget.  "Ah, les salauds!" he cried,
"They let us come right up to the barbed wire without firing.  Then a hail
of grenades and balls.  My comrade fell, shot through the leg, got up,
and the next moment had his head taken off by a grenade before my eyes."
"And the barbed wire, wasn't it cut down by the bombardment?"
"Not at all in front of us."  I congratulated him on having
a `blessure heureuse' and being well out of the affair.
But he thought only of his comrade and went on down the road toward Souain
nursing his mangled hand, with the stream of wounded
seeking their `postes de secours'.
==

He then tells how, in spite of substantial gains, it gradually
"became more and more evident that the German second line of defence
presented obstacles too serious to attempt overcoming for the moment,
and we began going up at night to work at consolidating our advanced trenches
and turning them into a new permanent line."  To this time, perhaps,
belongs the incident related by Rif Baer, an Egyptian,
who was his comrade and best friend in the regiment.
A piece of difficult trench work was allotted to the men,
to be finished in one night.  "Each was given the limit,
that he was supposed to be able to complete in the time.
It happened that Rif Baer was ill, and, after working a while,
his strength gave out.  Alan completed his own job and R. B.'s also,
and although he was quite exhausted by the extra labour,
his eyes glowed with happiness, and he said he had never done
anything in his life that gave him such entire satisfaction."

Summing up the results of the battle, Alan wrote (still in the same letter,
October 25):  "It was a satisfaction at least to get out of the trenches,
to meet the enemy face to face and to see German arrogance
turned into suppliance.  We knew many splendid moments,
worth having endured many trials for.  But in our larger aim,
of piercing their line, of breaking the long deadlock,
of entering Vouziers in triumph, of course we failed."  Then he proceeds:

==
This affair only deepened my admiration for, my loyalty to, the French.
If we did not entirely succeed, it was not the fault of the French soldier.
He is a better man, man for man, than the German.  Anyone who had seen
the charge of the Marsouins at Souain would acknowledge it.
Never was anything more magnificent.  I remember a captain,
badly wounded in the leg, as he passed us, borne back on a litter
by four German prisoners.  He asked us what regiment we were,
and when we told him, he cried "Vive la Legion," and kept repeating
"Nous les avons en.  Nous les avons en."  He was suffering, but,
oblivious of his wound, was still fired with the enthusiasm of the assault
and all radiant with victory.  What a contrast with the German wounded
on whose faces was nothing but terror and despair.  What is the stimulus
in their slogans of "Gott mit uns" and "Fuer Koenig und Vaterland"
beside that of men really fighting in defense of their country?
Whatever be the force in international conflicts of having justice
and all the principles of personal morality on one's side, it at least
gives the French soldier a strength that's like the strength of ten
against an adversary whose weapon is only brute violence.
It is inconceivable that a Frenchman, forced to yield,
could behave as I saw German prisoners behave, trembling, on their knees,
for all the world like criminals at length overpowered and brought to justice.
Such men have to be driven to the assault, or intoxicated.
But the Frenchman who goes up is possessed with a passion
beside which any of the other forms of experience that are reckoned
to make life worth while seem pale in comparison.
==

A report appeared in the American newspapers that he had been killed
in the battle of Champagne.  On learning of it, he wrote to his mother:

==
I am `navre' to think of your having suffered so.
I should have arranged to cable after the attack, had I known
that any such absurd rumours had been started.  Here one has
a wholesome notion of the unimportance of the individual.
It needs an effort of imagination to conceive of its making
any particular difference to anyone or anything if one goes under.
So many better men have gone, and yet the world rolls on just the same.
==

After Champagne, his regiment passed to the rear and did not return
to the front until May 1916.  On February 1st he writes:  "I am in hospital
for the first time, not for a wound, unfortunately, but for sickness."
Hitherto his health, since he joined the army, had been superb.
As a youth he had never been robust; but the soldier's life
suited him to perfection, and all remnants of any mischief left behind
by the illness of his childhood seemed to have vanished.
It was now a sharp attack of bronchitis that sent him to hospital.
On his recovery he obtained two months `conge de convalescence',
part of which he spent at Biarritz and part in Paris.  About this time,
much to his satisfaction, he once more came into the possession
of "Juvenilia".  On April 13th he wrote to his mother:

==
Did I tell you that the Embassy have managed to get my M.S. for me?
It was very interesting to re-read this work, which I had almost forgotten.
I found much that was good in it, but much that was juvenile too,
and am not so anxious to publish it as it stands.  I shall probably
make extracts from it and join it with what I have done since.
I shall go back to the front on the first of May without regrets.
These visits to the rear only confirm me in my conviction
that the work up there on the front is so far the most interesting work
a man can be doing at this moment, that nothing else counts in comparison.
==

On May 13th he wrote to his "marraine", Mrs. Weeks:  "The chateau
in the grounds of which we are barracked, has a most beautiful name --
Bellinglise.  Isn't it pretty?  I shall have to write a sonnet to enclose it,
as a ring is made express for a jewel.  It is a wonderful
old seventeenth-century manor, surrounded by a lordly estate.
What is that exquisite stanza in `Maud' about `in the evening
through the lilacs (or laurels) of the old manorial home'?*
Look it up and send it to me."  Ten days later he wrote to the same lady:

--
* He was doubtless thinking of this:

    Alas for her that met me,
    That heard me softly call,
    Came glimmering thro' the laurels
    In the quiet evenfall,
    In the garden by the turrets
    Of the old manorial hall.
--

==
The week in the trenches was a week of the most beautiful weather. . . .
These days were saddened by the death of poor Colette in the bombardment,
and by the suffering of his brother who has now returned after the burial.
They were marked on the other hand by two afternoons of rather
memorable emotion.  Exasperated by the inactivity of the sector here,
and tempted by danger, I stole off twice after guard,
and made a patrol all by myself through the wood paths and trails
between the lines.  In the front of these, at a crossing of paths
not far from one of our posts, I found a burnt rocket-stick
planted in the ground, and a scrap of paper stuck in the top,
placed there by the boches to guide their little mischief-making parties
when they come to visit us in the night.  The scrap of paper
was nothing else than a bit of the `Berliner Tageblatt'.
This seemed so interesting to me that I reported it to the captain,
though my going out alone this way is a thing strictly forbidden.
He was very decent about it though, and seemed really interested
in the information.  Yesterday afternoon I repeated this exploit,
following another trail, and I went so far that I came clear up
to the German barbed wire, where I left a card with my name.
It was very thrilling work, "courting destruction with taunts,
with invitations" as Whitman would say.  I have never been
in a sector like this, where patrols could be made in daylight.
Here the deep forest permits it.  It also greatly facilitates ambushes,
for one must keep to the paths, owing to the underbrush.
I and a few others are going to try to get permission
to go out on `patrouilles d'embuscade' and bring in some live prisoners.
It would be quite an extraordinary feat if we could pull it off.
In our present existence it is the only way I can think of
to get the Croix de Guerre.  And to be worthy of my marraine
I think that I ought to have the Croix de Guerre.
==

He had hoped to have been in Paris on Decoration Day, May 30th,
to read, before the statue of Lafayette and Washington,
the "Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France",
which he had written at the request of a Committee of American residents;
but his "permission" unfortunately did not arrive in time.  Completed in
two days, during which he was engaged in the hardest sort of labour
in the trenches, this Ode is certainly the crown of the poet's achievement.
It is entirely admirable, entirely adequate to the historic occasion.
If the war has produced a nobler utterance, it has not come my way.
On June 24th, he again wrote, giving an account of a march,
which was "without exception the hardest he had ever made" --
"20 kilometers through the blazing sun and in a cloud of dust.
Something around 30 kilograms on the back.  About 50 per cent dropped
by the way.  By making a supreme effort, I managed to get in at the finish,
with the fifteen men that were all that was left of the section."
He now knew that the great offensive was imminent.  "The situation,"
he wrote, "is most interesting and exciting, but I am not at liberty
to say anything about it.  My greatest preoccupation now
is whether this affair is coming off before or after the 4th of July.
The indications are that it is going to break very soon.
In that case nothing doing in the way of permission.
But I still have hopes of getting in."

His hopes of getting to Paris were frustrated, as were all his other hopes
save one -- the hope of
  
    That rare privilege of dying well.

On July 1st, the great advance began.  At six in the evening of July 4th,
the Legion was ordered to clear the enemy out of the village
of Belloy-en-Santerre.  Alan Seeger advanced in the first rush,
and his squad was enfiladed by the fire of six German machine guns,
concealed in a hollow way.  Most of them went down, and Alan among them --
wounded in several places.  But the following waves of attack
were more fortunate.  As his comrades came up to him,
Alan cheered them on; and as they left him behind,
they heard him singing a marching-song in English: --
  
    Accents of ours were in the fierce melee.
  
They took the village, they drove the invaders out;
but for some reason unknown -- perhaps a very good one --
the battlefield was left unvisited that night.  Next morning,
Alan Seeger lay dead.

There is little to add.  He wrote his own best epitaph in the "Ode": --
  
    And on those furthest rims of hallowed ground
    Where the forlorn, the gallant charge expires,
    When the slain bugler has long ceased to sound,
    And on the tangled wires
    The last wild rally staggers, crumbles, stops,
    Withered beneath the shrapnel's iron showers: --
    Now heaven be thanked, we gave a few brave drops,
    Now heaven be thanked, a few brave drops were ours.

His death was briefly noticed in one or two French papers.
The `Matin' published a translation of part of the poem, "Champagne, 1914-15",
and remarked that "Cyrano de Bergerac would have signed it."
But France had no time, even if she had had the knowledge,
to realize the greatness of the sacrifice that had been made for her.
That will come later.  One day France will know that this unassuming
soldier of the Legion,
  
    Who, not unmindful of the antique debt,
    Came back the generous path of Lafayette,
  
was one whom even she may be proud to have reckoned among her defenders.

The "Last Poems" speak for themselves.  They contain lines which he would
doubtless have remodelled had he lived to review them in tranquillity --
perhaps one or two pieces, sprung from a momentary mood,
which, on reflection he would have rejected.*  But they not only show
a great advance on his earlier work:  they rank high, or I am much mistaken,
among the hitherto not very numerous poems in the English language produced,
not in mere memory or imagination of war, but in its actual stress
and under its haunting menace.

--
* Neither in the "Juvenilia" nor in the "Last Poems"
  has anything been suppressed that he himself ever thought of publishing.
  Indeed nothing at all has been omitted, except two early poems
  on which he had written "These are worthless."
--

Again and again in the "Last Poems" -- notably in "Maktoob"
with its tribute to
  
    The resignation and the calm
    And wisdom of the East,
  
he returns to the note of fatalism.  Here he has not only
the wisdom of the East but the logic of the West on his side.
Necessity is as incontrovertible to thought as it is incredible to feeling.
But in the potent illusion of free-will (if illusion it be) rests
all morality and all the admiration that we feel for good and evil deeds.
Not even at Alan Seeger's bidding can we quite persuade ourselves that,
when he took up arms for France, he was exercising no brave,
no generous choice, but was the conscript of Destiny.

                                                       William Archer.






Poems by Alan Seeger






Juvenilia

  1914






An Ode to Natural Beauty



There is a power whose inspiration fills
Nature's fair fabric, sun- and star-inwrought,
Like airy dew ere any drop distils,
Like perfume in the laden flower, like aught
Unseen which interfused throughout the whole
Becomes its quickening pulse and principle and soul.
Now when, the drift of old desire renewing,
Warm tides flow northward over valley and field,
When half-forgotten sound and scent are wooing
From their deep-chambered recesses long sealed
Such memories as breathe once more
Of childhood and the happy hues it wore,
Now, with a fervor that has never been
In years gone by, it stirs me to respond, --
Not as a force whose fountains are within
The faculties of the percipient mind,
Subject with them to darkness and decay,
But something absolute, something beyond,
Oft met like tender orbs that seem to peer
From pale horizons, luminous behind
Some fringe of tinted cloud at close of day;
And in this flood of the reviving year,
When to the loiterer by sylvan streams,
Deep in those cares that make Youth loveliest,
Nature in every common aspect seems
To comment on the burden in his breast --
The joys he covets and the dreams he dreams --
One then with all beneath the radiant skies
That laughs with him or sighs,
It courses through the lilac-scented air,
A blessing on the fields, a wonder everywhere.

 Spirit of Beauty, whose sweet impulses,
Flung like the rose of dawn across the sea,
Alone can flush the exalted consciousness
With shafts of sensible divinity --
Light of the World, essential loveliness:
Him whom the Muse hath made thy votary
Not from her paths and gentle precepture
Shall vulgar ends engage, nor break the spell
That taught him first to feel thy secret charms
And o'er the earth, obedient to their lure,
Their sweet surprise and endless miracle,
To follow ever with insatiate arms.
On summer afternoons,
When from the blue horizon to the shore,
Casting faint silver pathways like the moon's
Across the Ocean's glassy, mottled floor,
Far clouds uprear their gleaming battlements
Drawn to the crest of some bleak eminence,
When autumn twilight fades on the sere hill
And autumn winds are still;
To watch the East for some emerging sign,
Wintry Capella or the Pleiades
Or that great huntsman with the golden gear;
Ravished in hours like these
Before thy universal shrine
To feel the invoked presence hovering near,
He stands enthusiastic.  Star-lit hours
Spent on the roads of wandering solitude
Have set their sober impress on his brow,
And he, with harmonies of wind and wood
And torrent and the tread of mountain showers,
Has mingled many a dedicative vow
That holds him, till thy last delight be known,
Bound in thy service and in thine alone.

 I, too, among the visionary throng
Who choose to follow where thy pathway leads,
Have sold my patrimony for a song,
And donned the simple, lowly pilgrim's weeds.
From that first image of beloved walls,
Deep-bowered in umbrage of ancestral trees,
Where earliest thy sweet enchantment falls,
Tingeing a child's fantastic reveries
With radiance so fair it seems to be
Of heavens just lost the lingering evidence
From that first dawn of roseate infancy,
So long beneath thy tender influence
My breast has thrilled.  As oft for one brief second
The veil through which those infinite offers beckoned
Has seemed to tremble, letting through
Some swift intolerable view
Of vistas past the sense of mortal seeing,
So oft, as one whose stricken eyes might see
In ferny dells the rustic deity,
I stood, like him, possessed, and all my being,
Flooded an instant with unwonted light,
Quivered with cosmic passion; whether then
On woody pass or glistening mountain-height
I walked in fellowship with winds and clouds,
Whether in cities and the throngs of men,
A curious saunterer through friendly crowds,
Enamored of the glance in passing eyes,
Unuttered salutations, mute replies, --
In every character where light of thine
Has shed on earthly things the hue of things divine
I sought eternal Loveliness, and seeking,
If ever transport crossed my brow bespeaking
Such fire as a prophetic heart might feel
Where simple worship blends in fervent zeal,
It was the faith that only love of thee
Needed in human hearts for Earth to see
Surpassed the vision poets have held dear
Of joy diffused in most communion here;
That whomsoe'er thy visitations warmed,
Lover of thee in all thy rays informed,
Needed no difficulter discipline
To seek his right to happiness within
Than, sensible of Nature's loveliness,
To yield him to the generous impulses
By such a sentiment evoked.  The thought,
Bright Spirit, whose illuminings I sought,
That thou unto thy worshipper might be
An all-sufficient law, abode with me,
Importing something more than unsubstantial dreams
To vigils by lone shores and walks by murmuring streams.

 Youth's flowers like childhood's fade and are forgot.
Fame twines a tardy crown of yellowing leaves.
How swift were disillusion, were it not
That thou art steadfast where all else deceives!
Solace and Inspiration, Power divine
That by some mystic sympathy of thine,
When least it waits and most hath need of thee,
Can startle the dull spirit suddenly
With grandeur welled from unsuspected springs, --
Long as the light of fulgent evenings,
When from warm showers the pearly shades disband
And sunset opens o'er the humid land,
Shows thy veiled immanence in orient skies, --
Long as pale mist and opalescent dyes
Hung on far isle or vanishing mountain-crest,
Fields of remote enchantment can suggest
So sweet to wander in it matters nought,
They hold no place but in impassioned thought,
Long as one draught from a clear sky may be
A scented luxury;
Be thou my worship, thou my sole desire,
Thy paths my pilgrimage, my sense a lyre
Aeolian for thine every breath to stir;
Oft when her full-blown periods recur,
To see the birth of day's transparent moon
Far from cramped walls may fading afternoon
Find me expectant on some rising lawn;
Often depressed in dewy grass at dawn,
Me, from sweet slumber underneath green boughs,
Ere the stars flee may forest matins rouse,
Afoot when the great sun in amber floods
Pours horizontal through the steaming woods
And windless fumes from early chimneys start
And many a cock-crow cheers the traveller's heart
Eager for aught the coming day afford
In hills untopped and valleys unexplored.
Give me the white road into the world's ends,
Lover of roadside hazard, roadside friends,
Loiterer oft by upland farms to gaze
On ample prospects, lost in glimmering haze
At noon, or where down odorous dales twilit,
Filled with low thundering of the mountain stream,
Over the plain where blue seas border it
The torrid coast-towns gleam.

 I have fared too far to turn back now; my breast
Burns with the lust for splendors unrevealed,
Stars of midsummer, clouds out of the west,
Pallid horizons, winds that valley and field
Laden with joy, be ye my refuge still!
What though distress and poverty assail!
Though other voices chide, yours never will.
The grace of a blue sky can never fail.
Powers that my childhood with a spell so sweet,
My youth with visions of such glory nursed,
Ye have beheld, nor ever seen my feet
On any venture set, but 'twas the thirst
For Beauty willed them, yea, whatever be
The faults I wanted wings to rise above;
I am cheered yet to think how steadfastly
I have been loyal to the love of Love!




The Deserted Garden



I know a village in a far-off land
 Where from a sunny, mountain-girdled plain
With tinted walls a space on either hand
 And fed by many an olive-darkened lane
The high-road mounts, and thence a silver band
 Through vineyard slopes above and rolling grain,
Winds off to that dim corner of the skies
Where behind sunset hills a stately city lies.

Here, among trees whose overhanging shade
 Strews petals on the little droves below,
Pattering townward in the morning weighed
 With greens from many an upland garden-row,
Runs an old wall; long centuries have frayed
 Its scalloped edge, and passers to and fro
Heard never from beyond its crumbling height
Sweet laughter ring at noon or plaintive song at night.

But here where little lizards bask and blink
 The tendrils of the trumpet-vine have run,
At whose red bells the humming bird to drink
 Stops oft before his garden feast is done;
And rose-geraniums, with that tender pink
 That cloud-banks borrow from the setting sun,
Have covered part of this old wall, entwined
With fair plumbago, blue as evening heavens behind.

And crowning other parts the wild white rose
 Rivals the honey-suckle with the bees.
Above the old abandoned orchard shows
 And all within beneath the dense-set trees,
Tall and luxuriant the rank grass grows,
 That settled in its wavy depth one sees
Grass melt in leaves, the mossy trunks between,
Down fading avenues of implicated green;

Wherein no lack of flowers the verdurous night
 With stars and pearly nebula o'erlay;
Azalea-boughs half rosy and half white
 Shine through the green and clustering apple-spray,
Such as the fairy-queen before her knight
 Waved in old story, luring him away
Where round lost isles Hesperian billows break
Or towers loom up beneath the clear, translucent lake;

And under the deep grass blue hare-bells hide,
 And myrtle plots with dew-fall ever wet,
Gay tiger-lilies flammulate and pied,
 Sometime on pathway borders neatly set,
Now blossom through the brake on either side,
 Where heliotrope and weedy mignonette,
With vines in bloom and flower-bearing trees,
Mingle their incense all to swell the perfumed breeze,

That sprung like Hermes from his natal cave
 In some blue rampart of the curving West,
Comes up the valleys where green cornfields wave,
 Ravels the cloud about the mountain crest,
Breathes on the lake till gentle ripples pave
 Its placid floor; at length a long-loved guest,
He steals across this plot of pleasant ground,
Waking the vocal leaves to a sweet vernal sound.

Here many a day right gladly have I sped,
 Content amid the wavy plumes to lie,
And through the woven branches overhead
 Watch the white, ever-wandering clouds go by,
And soaring birds make their dissolving bed
 Far in the azure depths of summer sky,
Or nearer that small huntsman of the air,
The fly-catcher, dart nimbly from his leafy lair;

Pillowed at ease to hear the merry tune
 Of mating warblers in the boughs above
And shrill cicadas whom the hottest noon
 Keeps not from drowsy song; the mourning dove
Pours down the murmuring grove his plaintive croon
 That like the voice of visionary love
Oft have I risen to seek through this green maze
(Even as my feet thread now the great world's garden-ways);

And, parting tangled bushes as I passed
 Down beechen alleys beautiful and dim,
Perhaps by some deep-shaded pool at last
 My feet would pause, where goldfish poise and swim,
And snowy callas' velvet cups are massed
 Around the mossy, fern-encircled brim.
Here, then, that magic summoning would cease,
Or sound far off again among the orchard trees.

And here where the blanched lilies of the vale
 And violets and yellow star-flowers teem,
And pink and purple hyacinths exhale
 Their heavy fume, once more to drowse and dream
My head would sink, from many an olden tale
 Drawing imagination's fervid theme,
Or haply peopling this enchanting spot
Only with fair creations of fantastic thought.

For oft I think, in years long since gone by,
 That gentle hearts dwelt here and gentle hands
Stored all this bowery bliss to beautify
 The paradise of some unsung romance;
Here, safe from all except the loved one's eye,
 'Tis sweet to think white limbs were wont to glance,
Well pleased to wanton like the flowers and share
Their simple loveliness with the enamored air.

Thrice dear to them whose votive fingers decked
 The altars of First Love were these green ways, --
These lawns and verdurous brakes forever flecked
 With the warm sunshine of midsummer days;
Oft where the long straight allies intersect
 And marble seats surround the open space,
Where a tiled pool and sculptured fountain stand,
Hath Evening found them seated, silent, hand in hand.

When twilight deepened, in the gathering shade
 Beneath that old titanic cypress row,
Whose sombre vault and towering colonnade
 Dwarfed the enfolded forms that moved below,
Oft with close steps these happy lovers strayed,
 Till down its darkening aisle the sunset glow
Grew less and patterning the garden floor
Faint flakes of filtering moonlight mantled more and more.

And the strange tempest that a touch imparts
 Through the mid fibre of the molten frame,
When the sweet flesh in early youth asserts
 Its heyday verve and little hints enflame,
Disturbed them as they walked; from their full hearts
 Welled the soft word, and many a tender name
Strove on their lips as breast to breast they strained
And the deep joy they drank seemed never, never drained.

Love's soul that is the depth of starry skies
 Set in the splendor of one upturned face
To beam adorably through half-closed eyes;
 Love's body where the breadth of summer days
And all the beauty earth and air comprise
 Come to the compass of an arm's embrace,
To burn a moment on impassioned lips
And yield intemperate joy to quivering finger-tips,

They knew; and here where morning-glories cling
 Round carven forms of carefullest artifice,
They made a bower where every outward thing
 Should comment on the cause of their own bliss;
With flowers of liveliest hue encompassing
 That flower that the beloved body is --
That rose that for the banquet of Love's bee
Has budded all the aeons of past eternity.

But their choice seat was where the garden wall,
 Crowning a little summit, far and near,
Looks over tufted treetops onto all
 The pleasant outer country; rising here
From rustling foliage where cuckoos call
 On summer evenings, stands a belvedere,
Buff-hued, of antique plaster, overrun
With flowering vines and weatherworn by rain and sun.

Still round the turrets of this antique tower
 The bougainvillea hangs a crimson crown,
Wistaria-vines and clematis in flower,
 Wreathing the lower surface further down,
Hide the old plaster in a very shower
 Of motley blossoms like a broidered gown.
Outside, ascending from the garden grove,
A crumbling stairway winds to the one room above.

And whoso mounts by this dismantled stair
 Finds the old pleasure-hall, long disarrayed,
Brick-tiled and raftered, and the walls foursquare
 Ringed all about with a twofold arcade.
Backward dense branches intercept the glare
 Of afternoon with eucalyptus shade;
Eastward the level valley-plains expand,
Sweet as a queen's survey of her own Fairyland.

For through that frame the ivied arches make,
 Wide tracts of sunny midland charm the eye,
Frequent with hamlet, grove, and lucent lake
 Where the blue hills' inverted contours lie;
Far to the east where billowy mountains break
 In surf of snow against a sapphire sky,
Huge thunderheads loom up behind the ranges,
Changing from gold to pink as deepening sunset changes;

And over plain and far sierra spread
 The fulgent rays of fading afternoon,
Showing each utmost peak and watershed
 All clarified, each tassel and festoon
Of floating cloud embroidered overhead,
 Like lotus-leaves on bluest waters strewn,
Flushing with rose, while all breathes fresh and free
In peace and amplitude and bland tranquillity.

Dear were such evenings to this gentle pair;
 Love's tide that launched on with a blast too strong
Sweeps toward the foaming reef, the hidden snare,
 Baffling with fond illusion's siren-song,
Too faint, on idle shoals, to linger there
 Far from Youth's glowing dream, bore them along,
With purple sail and steered by seraph hands
To isles resplendent in the sunset of romance.

And out of this old house a flowery fane,
 A bridal bower, a pearly pleasure-dome,
They built, and furnished it with gold and grain,
 And bade all spirits of beauty hither come,
And winged Love to enter with his train
 And bless their pillow, and in this his home
Make them his priests as Hero was of yore
In her sweet girlhood by the blue Dardanian shore.

Tree-ferns, therefore, and potted palms they brought,
 Tripods and urns in rare and curious taste,
Polychrome chests and cabinets inwrought
 With pearl and ivory etched and interlaced;
Pendant brocades with massive braid were caught,
 And chain-slung, oriental lamps so placed
To light the lounger on some low divan,
Sunken in swelling down and silks from Hindustan.

And there was spread, upon the ample floors,
 Work of the Levantine's laborious loom,
Such as by Euxine or Ionian shores
 Carpets the dim seraglio's scented gloom.
Each morn renewed, the garden's flowery stores
 Blushed in fair vases, ochre and peach-bloom,
And little birds through wicker doors left wide
Flew in to trill a space from the green world outside.

And there was many a dainty attitude,
 Bronze and eburnean.  All but disarrayed,
Here in eternal doubt sweet Psyche stood
 Fain of the bath's delight, yet still afraid
Lest aught in that palatial solitude
 Lurked of most menace to a helpless maid.
Therefore forever faltering she stands,
Nor yet the last loose fold slips rippling from her hands.

Close by upon a beryl column, clad
 In the fresh flower of adolescent grace,
They set the dear Bithynian shepherd lad,
 The nude Antinous.  That gentle face,
Forever beautiful, forever sad,
 Shows but one aspect, moon-like, to our gaze,
Yet Fancy pictures how those lips could smile
At revelries in Rome, and banquets on the Nile.

And there were shapes of Beauty myriads more,
 Clustering their rosy bridal bed around,
Whose scented breadth a silken fabric wore
 Broidered with peacock hues on creamiest ground,
Fit to have graced the barge that Cydnus bore
 Or Venus' bed in her enchanted mound,
While pillows swelled in stuffs of Orient dyes,
All broidered with strange fruits and birds of Paradise.

'Twas such a bower as Youth has visions of,
 Thither with one fair spirit to retire,
Lie upon rose-leaves, sleep and wake with Love
 And feast on kisses to the heart's desire;
Where by a casement opening on a grove,
 Wide to the wood-winds and the sweet birds' choir,
A girl might stand and gaze into green boughs,
Like Credhe at the window of her golden house.

Or most like Vivien, the enchanting fay,
 Where with her friend, in the strange tower they planned,
She lies and dreams eternity away,
 Above the treetops in Broceliande,
Sometimes at twilight when the woods are gray
 And wolf-packs howl far out across the lande,
Waking to love, while up behind the trees
The large midsummer moon lifts -- even so loved these.

For here, their pleasure was to come and sit
 Oft when the sun sloped midway to the west,
Watching with sweet enjoyment interknit
 The long light slant across the green earth's breast,
And clouds upon the ranges opposite,
 Rolled up into a gleaming thundercrest,
Topple and break and fall in purple rain,
And mist of summer showers trail out across the plain.

Whereon the shafts of ardent light, far-flung
 Across the luminous azure overhead,
Ofttimes in arcs of transient beauty hung
 The fragmentary rainbow's green and red.
Joy it was here to love and to be young,
 To watch the sun sink to his western bed,
And streaming back out of their flaming core
The vesperal aurora's glorious banners soar.

Tinging each altitude of heaven in turn,
 Those fiery rays would sweep.  The cumuli
That peeped above the mountain-tops would burn
 Carmine a space; the cirrus-whorls on high,
More delicate than sprays of maiden fern,
 Streak with pale rose the peacock-breasted sky,
Then blanch.  As water-lilies fold at night,
Sank back into themselves those plumes of fervid light.

And they would watch the first faint stars appear,
 The blue East blend with the blue hills below,
As lovers when their shuddering bliss draws near
 Into one pulse of fluid rapture grow.
New fragrance on the freshening atmosphere
 Would steal with evening, and the sunset glow
Draw deeper down into the wondrous west
Round vales of Proserpine and islands of the blest.

So dusk would come and mingle lake and shore,
 The snow-peaks fade to frosty opaline,
To pearl the domed clouds the mountains bore,
 Where late the sun's effulgent fire had been --
Showing as darkness deepened more and more
 The incandescent lightnings flare within,
And Night that furls the lily in the glen
And twines impatient arms would fall, and then -- and then . . .

Sometimes the peasant, coming late from town
 With empty panniers on his little drove
Past the old lookout when the Northern Crown
 Glittered with Cygnus through the scented grove,
Would hear soft noise of lute-strings wafted down
 And voices singing through the leaves above
Those songs that well from the warm heart that woos
At balconies in Merida or Vera Cruz.

And he would pause under the garden wall,
 Caught in the spell of that voluptuous strain,
With all the sultry South in it, and all
 Its importunity of love and pain;
And he would wait till the last passionate fall
 Died on the night, and all was still again, --
Then to his upland village wander home,
Marvelling whence that flood of elfin song might come.

O lyre that Love's white holy hands caress,
 Youth, from thy bosom welled their passionate lays --
Sweet opportunity for happiness
 So brief, so passing beautiful -- O days,
When to the heart's divine indulgences
 All earth in smiling ministration pays --
Thine was the source whose plenitude, past over,
What prize shall rest to pluck, what secret to discover!

The wake of color that follows her when May
 Walks on the hills loose-haired and daisy-crowned,
The deep horizons of a summer's day,
 Fair cities, and the pleasures that abound
Where music calls, and crowds in bright array
 Gather by night to find and to be found;
What were these worth or all delightful things
Without thine eyes to read their true interpretings!

For thee the mountains open glorious gates,
 To thee white arms put out from orient skies,
Earth, like a jewelled bride for one she waits,
 Decks but to be delicious in thine eyes,
Thou guest of honor for one day, whose fetes
 Eternity has travailed to devise;
Ah, grace them well in the brief hour they last!
Another's turn prepares, another follows fast.

Yet not without one fond memorial
 Let my sun set who found the world so fair!
Frail verse, when Time the singer's coronal
 Has rent, and stripped the rose-leaves from his hair,
Be thou my tablet on the temple wall!
 Among the pious testimonials there,
Witness how sweetly on my heart as well
The miracles of dawn and starry evening fell!

Speak of one then who had the lust to feel,
 And, from the hues that far horizons take,
And cloud and sunset, drank the wild appeal,
 Too deep to live for aught but life's sweet sake,
Whose only motive was the will to kneel
 Where Beauty's purest benediction spake,
Who only coveted what grove and field
And sunshine and green Earth and tender arms could yield --

A nympholept, through pleasant days and drear
 Seeking his faultless adolescent dream,
A pilgrim down the paths that disappear
 In mist and rainbows on the world's extreme,
A helpless voyager who all too near
 The mouth of Life's fair flower-bordered stream,
Clutched at Love's single respite in his need
More than the drowning swimmer clutches at a reed --

That coming one whose feet in other days
 Shall bleed like mine for ever having, more
Than any purpose, felt the need to praise
 And seek the angelic image to adore,
In love with Love, its wonderful, sweet ways
 Counting what most makes life worth living for,
That so some relic may be his to see
How I loved these things too and they were dear to me.

I sometimes think a conscious happiness
 Mantles through all the rose's sentient vine
When summer winds with myriad calyces
 Of bloom its clambering height incarnadine;
I sometimes think that cleaving lips, no less,
 And limbs that crowned desires at length entwine
Are nerves through which that being drinks delight,
Whose frame is the green Earth robed round with day and night.

And such were theirs:  the traveller without,
 Pausing at night under the orchard trees,
Wondered and crossed himself in holy doubt,
 For through their song and in the murmuring breeze
It seemed angelic choirs were all about
 Mingling in universal harmonies,
As though, responsive to the chords they woke,
All Nature into sweet epithalamium broke.

And still they think a spirit haunts the place:
 'Tis said, when Night has drawn her jewelled pall
And through the branches twinkling fireflies trace
 Their mimic constellations, if it fall
That one should see the moon rise through the lace
 Of blossomy boughs above the garden wall,
That surely would he take great ill thereof
And famish in a fit of unexpressive love.

But this I know not, for what time the wain
 Was loosened and the lily's petal furled,
Then I would rise, climb the old wall again,
 And pausing look forth on the sundown world,
Scan the wide reaches of the wondrous plain,
 The hamlet sites where settling smoke lay curled,
The poplar-bordered roads, and far away
Fair snowpeaks colored with the sun's last ray.

Waves of faint sound would pulsate from afar --
 Faint song and preludes of the summer night;
Deep in the cloudless west the evening star
 Hung 'twixt the orange and the emerald light;
From the dark vale where shades crepuscular
 Dimmed the old grove-girt belfry glimmering white,
Throbbing, as gentlest breezes rose or fell,
Came the sweet invocation of the evening bell.




The Torture of Cuauhtemoc



Their strength had fed on this when Death's white arms
Came sleeved in vapors and miasmal dew,
Curling across the jungle's ferny floor,
Becking each fevered brain.  On bleak divides,
Where Sleep grew niggardly for nipping cold
That twinged blue lips into a mouthed curse,
Not back to Seville and its sunny plains
Winged their brief-biding dreams, but once again,
Lords of a palace in Tenochtitlan,
They guarded Montezuma's treasure-hoard.
Gold, like some finny harvest of the sea,
Poured out knee deep around the rifted floors,
Shiny and sparkling, -- arms and crowns and rings:
Gold, sweet to toy with as beloved hair, --
To plunge the lustful, crawling fingers down,
Arms elbow deep, and draw them out again,
And watch the glinting metal trickle off,
Even as at night some fisherman, home bound
With speckled cargo in his hollow keel
Caught off Campeche or the Isle of Pines,
Dips in his paddle, lifts it forth again,
And laughs to see the luminous white drops
Fall back in flakes of fire. . . .  Gold was the dream
That cheered that desperate enterprise.  And now? . . .
Victory waited on the arms of Spain,
Fallen was the lovely city by the lake,
The sunny Venice of the western world;
There many corpses, rotting in the wind,
Poked up stiff limbs, but in the leprous rags
No jewel caught the sun, no tawny chain
Gleamed, as the prying halberds raked them o'er.
Pillage that ran red-handed through the streets
Came railing home at evening empty-palmed;
And they, on that sad night a twelvemonth gone,
Who, ounce by ounce, dear as their own life's blood
Retreating, cast the cumbrous load away:
They, when brown foemen lopped the bridges down,
Who tipped thonged chests into the stream below
And over wealth that might have ransomed kings
Passed on to safety; -- cheated, guerdonless --
Found (through their fingers the bright booty slipped)
A city naked, of that golden dream
Shorn in one moment like a sunset sky.

Deep in a chamber that no cheerful ray
Purged of damp air, where in unbroken night
Black scorpions nested in the sooty beams,
Helpless and manacled they led him down --
Cuauhtemotzin -- and other lords beside --
All chieftains of the people, heroes all --
And stripped their feathered robes and bound them there
On short stone settles sloping to the head,
But where the feet projected, underneath
Heaped the red coals.  Their swarthy fronts illumed,
The bearded Spaniards, helmed and haubergeoned,
Paced up and down beneath the lurid vault.
Some kneeling fanned the glowing braziers; some
Stood at the sufferers' heads and all the while
Hissed in their ears:  "The gold . . . the gold . . . the gold.
Where have ye hidden it -- the chested gold?
Speak -- and the torments cease!"

                                   They answered not.
Past those proud lips whose key their sovereign claimed
No accent fell to chide or to betray,
Only it chanced that bound beside the king
Lay one whom Nature, more than other men
Framing for delicate and perfumed ease,
Not yet, along the happy ways of Youth,
Had weaned from gentle usages so far
To teach that fortitude that warriors feel
And glory in the proof.  He answered not,
But writhing with intolerable pain,
Convulsed in every limb, and all his face
Wrought to distortion with the agony,
Turned on his lord a look of wild appeal,
The secret half atremble on his lips,
Livid and quivering, that waited yet
For leave -- for leave to utter it -- one sign --
One word -- one little word -- to ease his pain.

As one reclining in the banquet hall,
Propped on an elbow, garlanded with flowers,
Saw lust and greed and boisterous revelry
Surge round him on the tides of wine, but he,
Staunch in the ethic of an antique school --
Stoic or Cynic or of Pyrrho's mind --
With steady eyes surveyed the unbridled scene,
Himself impassive, silent, self-contained:
So sat the Indian prince, with brow unblanched,
Amid the tortured and the torturers.
He who had seen his hopes made desolate,
His realm despoiled, his early crown deprived him,
And watched while Pestilence and Famine piled
His stricken people in their reeking doors,
Whence glassy eyes looked out and lean brown arms
Stretched up to greet him in one last farewell
As back and forth he paced along the streets
With words of hopeless comfort -- what was this
That one should weaken now?  He weakened not.
Whate'er was in his heart, he neither dealt
In pity nor in scorn, but, turning round,
Met that racked visage with his own unmoved,
Bent on the sufferer his mild calm eyes,
And while the pangs smote sharper, in a voice,
As who would speak not all in gentleness
Nor all disdain, said:  "Yes!  And am -I- then
Upon a bed of roses?"

                       Stung with shame --
Shame bitterer than his anguish -- to betray
Such cowardice before the man he loved,
And merit such rebuke, the boy grew calm;
And stilled his struggling limbs and moaning cries,
And shook away his tears, and strove to smile,
And turned his face against the wall -- and died.




The Nympholept



There was a boy -- not above childish fears --
With steps that faltered now and straining ears,
Timid, irresolute, yet dauntless still,
Who one bright dawn, when each remotest hill
Stood sharp and clear in Heaven's unclouded blue
And all Earth shimmered with fresh-beaded dew,
Risen in the first beams of the gladdening sun,
Walked up into the mountains.  One by one
Each towering trunk beneath his sturdy stride
Fell back, and ever wider and more wide
The boundless prospect opened.  Long he strayed,
From dawn till the last trace of slanting shade
Had vanished from the canyons, and, dismayed
At that far length to which his path had led,
He paused -- at such a height where overhead
The clouds hung close, the air came thin and chill,
And all was hushed and calm and very still,
Save, from abysmal gorges, where the sound
Of tumbling waters rose, and all around
The pines, by those keen upper currents blown,
Muttered in multitudinous monotone.
Here, with the wind in lovely locks laid bare,
With arms oft raised in dedicative prayer,
Lost in mute rapture and adoring wonder,
He stood, till the far noise of noontide thunder,
Rolled down upon the muffled harmonies
Of wind and waterfall and whispering trees,
Made loneliness more lone.  Some Panic fear
Would seize him then, as they who seemed to hear
In Tracian valleys or Thessalian woods
The god's hallooing wake the leafy solitudes;
I think it was the same:  some piercing sense
Of Deity's pervasive immanence,
The Life that visible Nature doth indwell
Grown great and near and all but palpable . . .
He might not linger, but with winged strides
Like one pursued, fled down the mountain-sides --
Down the long ridge that edged the steep ravine,
By glade and flowery lawn and upland green,
And never paused nor felt assured again
But where the grassy foothills opened.  Then,
While shadows lengthened on the plain below
And the sun vanished and the sunset-glow
Looked back upon the world with fervid eye
Through the barred windows of the western sky,
Homeward he fared, while many a look behind
Showed the receding ranges dim-outlined,
Highland and hollow where his path had lain,
Veiled in deep purple of the mountain rain.




The Wanderer



To see the clouds his spirit yearned toward so
Over new mountains piled and unploughed waves,
Back of old-storied spires and architraves
To watch Arcturus rise or Fomalhaut,

And roused by street-cries in strange tongues when day
Flooded with gold some domed metropolis,
Between new towers to waken and new bliss
Spread on his pillow in a wondrous way:

These were his joys.  Oft under bulging crates,
Coming to market with his morning load,
The peasant found him early on his road
To greet the sunrise at the city-gates, --

There where the meadows waken in its rays,
Golden with mist, and the great roads commence,
And backward, where the chimney-tops are dense,
Cathedral-arches glimmer through the haze.

White dunes that breaking show a strip of sea,
A plowman and his team against the blue,
Swiss pastures musical with cowbells, too,
And poplar-lined canals in Picardie,

And coast-towns where the vultures back and forth
Sail in the clear depths of the tropic sky,
And swallows in the sunset where they fly
Over gray Gothic cities in the north,

And the wine-cellar and the chorus there,
The dance-hall and a face among the crowd, --
Were all delights that made him sing aloud
For joy to sojourn in a world so fair.

Back of his footsteps as he journeyed fell
Range after range; ahead blue hills emerged.
Before him tireless to applaud it surged
The sweet interminable spectacle.

And like the west behind a sundown sea
Shone the past joys his memory retraced,
And bright as the blue east he always faced
Beckoned the loves and joys that were to be.

From every branch a blossom for his brow
He gathered, singing down Life's flower-lined road,
And youth impelled his spirit as he strode
Like winged Victory on the galley's prow.

That Loveliness whose being sun and star,
Green Earth and dawn and amber evening robe,
That lamp whereof the opalescent globe
The season's emulative splendors are,

That veiled divinity whose beams transpire
From every pore of universal space,
As the fair soul illumes the lovely face --
That was his guest, his passion, his desire.

His heart the love of Beauty held as hides
One gem most pure a casket of pure gold.
It was too rich a lesser thing to hold;
It was not large enough for aught besides.




The Need to Love



The need to love that all the stars obey
 Entered my heart and banished all beside.
Bare were the gardens where I used to stray;
 Faded the flowers that one time satisfied.

Before the beauty of the west on fire,
 The moonlit hills from cloister-casements viewed,
Cloud-like arose the image of desire,
 And cast out peace and maddened solitude.

I sought the City and the hopes it held:
 With smoke and brooding vapors intercurled,
As the thick roofs and walls close-paralleled
 Shut out the fair horizons of the world --

A truant from the fields and rustic joy,
 In my changed thought that image even so
Shut out the gods I worshipped as a boy
 And all the pure delights I used to know.

Often the veil has trembled at some tide
 Of lovely reminiscence and revealed
How much of beauty Nature holds beside
 Sweet lips that sacrifice and arms that yield:

Clouds, window-framed, beyond the huddled eaves
 When summer cumulates their golden chains,
Or from the parks the smell of burning leaves,
 Fragrant of childhood in the country lanes,

An organ-grinder's melancholy tune
 In rainy streets, or from an attic sill
The blue skies of a windy afternoon
 Where our kites climbed once from some grassy hill:

And my soul once more would be wrapped entire
 In the pure peace and blessing of those years
Before the fierce infection of Desire
 Had ravaged all the flesh.  Through starting tears

Shone that lost Paradise; but, if it did,
 Again ere long the prison-shades would fall
That Youth condemns itself to walk amid,
 So narrow, but so beautiful withal.

And I have followed Fame with less devotion,
 And kept no real ambition but to see
Rise from the foam of Nature's sunlit ocean
 My dream of palpable divinity;

And aught the world contends for to mine eye
 Seemed not so real a meaning of success
As only once to clasp before I die
 My vision of embodied happiness.




El Extraviado



Over the radiant ridges borne out on the offshore wind,
 I have sailed as a butterfly sails whose priming wings unfurled
Leave the familiar gardens and visited fields behind
 To follow a cloud in the east rose-flushed on the rim of the world.

I have strayed from the trodden highway for walking with upturned eyes
 On the way of the wind in the treetops, and the drift of the tinted rack.
For the will to be losing no wonder of sunny or starlit skies
 I have chosen the sod for my pillow and a threadbare coat for my back.

Evening of ample horizons, opaline, delicate, pure,
 Shadow of clouds on green valleys, trailed over meadows and trees,
Cities of ardent adventure where the harvests of Joy mature,
 Forests whose murmuring voices are amorous prophecies,

World of romance and profusion, still round my journey spread
 The glamours, the glints, the enthralments, the nurture of one whose feet
From hours unblessed by beauty nor lighted by love have fled
 As the shade of the tomb on his pathway and the scent of the winding-sheet.

I never could rest from roving nor put from my heart this need
 To be seeing how lovably Nature in flower and face hath wrought, --
In flower and meadow and mountain and heaven where the white clouds breed
 And the cunning of silken meshes where the heart's desire lies caught.

Over the azure expanses, on the offshore breezes borne,
 I have sailed as a butterfly sails, nor recked where the impulse led,
Sufficed with the sunshine and freedom, the warmth and the summer morn,
 The infinite glory surrounding, the infinite blue ahead.




La Nue



Oft when sweet music undulated round,
 Like the full moon out of a perfumed sea
Thine image from the waves of blissful sound
 Rose and thy sudden light illumined me.

And in the country, leaf and flower and air
 Would alter and the eternal shape emerge;
Because they spoke of thee the fields seemed fair,
 And Joy to wait at the horizon's verge.

The little cloud-gaps in the east that filled
 Gray afternoons with bits of tenderest blue
Were windows in a palace pearly-silled
 That thy voluptuous traits came glimmering through.

And in the city, dominant desire
 For which men toil within its prison-bars,
I watched thy white feet moving in the mire
 And thy white forehead hid among the stars.

Mystical, feminine, provoking, nude,
 Radiant there with rosy arms outspread,
Sum of fulfillment, sovereign attitude,
 Sensual with laughing lips and thrown-back head,

Draped in the rainbow on the summer hills,
 Hidden in sea-mist down the hot coast-line,
Couched on the clouds that fiery sunset fills,
 Blessed, remote, impersonal, divine;

The gold all color and grace are folded o'er,
 The warmth all beauty and tenderness embower, --
Thou quiverest at Nature's perfumed core,
 The pistil of a myriad-petalled flower.

Round thee revolves, illimitably wide,
 The world's desire, as stars around their pole.
Round thee all earthly loveliness beside
 Is but the radiate, infinite aureole.

Thou art the poem on the cosmic page --
 In rubric written on its golden ground --
That Nature paints her flowers and foliage
 And rich-illumined commentary round.

Thou art the rose that the world's smiles and tears
 Hover about like butterflies and bees.
Thou art the theme the music of the spheres
 Echoes in endless, variant harmonies.

Thou art the idol in the altar-niche
 Faced by Love's congregated worshippers,
Thou art the holy sacrament round which
 The vast cathedral is the universe.

Thou art the secret in the crystal where,
 For the last light upon the mystery Man,
In his lone tower and ultimate despair,
 Searched the gray-bearded Zoroastrian.

And soft and warm as in the magic sphere,
 Deep-orbed as in its erubescent fire,
So in my heart thine image would appear,
 Curled round with the red flames of my desire.




All That's Not Love . . .



All that's not love is the dearth of my days,
 The leaves of the volume with rubric unwrit,
The temple in times without prayer, without praise,
 The altar unset and the candle unlit.

Let me survive not the lovable sway
 Of early desire, nor see when it goes
The courts of Life's abbey in ivied decay,
 Whence sometime sweet anthems and incense arose.

The delicate hues of its sevenfold rings
 The rainbow outlives not; their yellow and blue
The butterfly sees not dissolve from his wings,
 But even with their beauty life fades from them too.

No more would I linger past Love's ardent bounds
 Nor live for aught else but the joy that it craves,
That, burden and essence of all that surrounds,
 Is the song in the wind and the smile on the waves.




Paris



    I


First, London, for its myriads; for its height,
Manhattan heaped in towering stalagmite;
But Paris for the smoothness of the paths
That lead the heart unto the heart's delight. . . .

Fair loiterer on the threshold of those days
When there's no lovelier prize the world displays
Than, having beauty and your twenty years,
You have the means to conquer and the ways,

And coming where the crossroads separate
And down each vista glories and wonders wait,
Crowning each path with pinnacles so fair
You know not which to choose, and hesitate --

Oh, go to Paris. . . .  In the midday gloom
Of some old quarter take a little room
That looks off over Paris and its towers
From Saint Gervais round to the Emperor's Tomb, --

So high that you can hear a mating dove
Croon down the chimney from the roof above,
See Notre Dame and know how sweet it is
To wake between Our Lady and our love.

And have a little balcony to bring
Fair plants to fill with verdure and blossoming,
That sparrows seek, to feed from pretty hands,
And swallows circle over in the Spring.

There of an evening you shall sit at ease
In the sweet month of flowering chestnut-trees,
There with your little darling in your arms,
Your pretty dark-eyed Manon or Louise.

And looking out over the domes and towers
That chime the fleeting quarters and the hours,
While the bright clouds banked eastward back of them
Blush in the sunset, pink as hawthorn flowers,

You cannot fail to think, as I have done,
Some of life's ends attained, so you be one
Who measures life's attainment by the hours
That Joy has rescued from oblivion.



    II


Come out into the evening streets.  The green light lessens in the west.
The city laughs and liveliest her fervid pulse of pleasure beats.

The belfry on Saint Severin strikes eight across the smoking eaves:
Come out under the lights and leaves
  to the Reine Blanche on Saint Germain. . . .

Now crowded diners fill the floor of brasserie and restaurant.
Shrill voices cry "L'Intransigeant," and corners echo "Paris-Sport."

Where rows of tables from the street are screened with shoots of box and bay,
The ragged minstrels sing and play and gather sous from those that eat.

And old men stand with menu-cards, inviting passers-by to dine
On the bright terraces that line the Latin Quarter boulevards. . . .

But, having drunk and eaten well, 'tis pleasant then to stroll along
And mingle with the merry throng that promenades on Saint Michel.

Here saunter types of every sort.  The shoddy jostle with the chic:
Turk and Roumanian and Greek; student and officer and sport;

Slavs with their peasant, Christ-like heads,
  and courtezans like powdered moths,
And peddlers from Algiers, with cloths
  bright-hued and stitched with golden threads;

And painters with big, serious eyes go rapt in dreams, fantastic shapes
In corduroys and Spanish capes and locks uncut and flowing ties;

And lovers wander two by two, oblivious among the press,
And making one of them no less, all lovers shall be dear to you:

All laughing lips you move among, all happy hearts that, knowing what
Makes life worth while, have wasted not the sweet reprieve of being young.

"Comment ca va!"  "Mon vieux!"  "Mon cher!"
  Friends greet and banter as they pass.
'Tis sweet to see among the mass comrades and lovers everywhere,

A law that's sane, a Love that's free, and men of every birth and blood
Allied in one great brotherhood of Art and Joy and Poverty. . . .

The open cafe-windows frame loungers at their liqueurs and beer,
And walking past them one can hear fragments of Tosca and Boheme.

And in the brilliant-lighted door of cinemas the barker calls,
And lurid posters paint the walls with scenes of Love and crime and war.

But follow past the flaming lights, borne onward with the stream of feet,
Where Bullier's further up the street is marvellous on Thursday nights.

Here all Bohemia flocks apace; you could not often find elsewhere
So many happy heads and fair assembled in one time and place.

Under the glare and noise and heat the galaxy of dancing whirls,
Smokers, with covered heads, and girls dressed in the costume of the street.

From tables packed around the wall the crowds that drink and frolic there
Spin serpentines into the air far out over the reeking hall,

That, settling where the coils unroll, tangle with pink and green and blue
The crowds that rag to "Hitchy-koo" and boston to the "Barcarole". . . .

Here Mimi ventures, at fifteen, to make her debut in romance,
And join her sisters in the dance and see the life that they have seen.

Her hair, a tight hat just allows to brush beneath the narrow brim,
Docked, in the model's present whim, `frise' and banged above the brows.

Uncorseted, her clinging dress with every step and turn betrays,
In pretty and provoking ways her adolescent loveliness,

As guiding Gaby or Lucile she dances, emulating them
In each disturbing stratagem and each lascivious appeal.

Each turn a challenge, every pose an invitation to compete,
Along the maze of whirling feet the grave-eyed little wanton goes,

And, flaunting all the hue that lies in childish cheeks and nubile waist,
She passes, charmingly unchaste, illumining ignoble eyes. . . .

But now the blood from every heart leaps madder through abounding veins
As first the fascinating strains of "El Irresistible" start.

Caught in the spell of pulsing sound, impatient elbows lift and yield
The scented softnesses they shield to arms that catch and close them round,

Surrender, swift to be possessed, the silken supple forms beneath
To all the bliss the measures breathe and all the madness they suggest.

Crowds congregate and make a ring.  Four deep they stand and strain to see
The tango in its ecstasy of glowing lives that clasp and cling.

Lithe limbs relaxed, exalted eyes fastened on vacancy, they seem
To float upon the perfumed stream of some voluptuous Paradise,

Or, rapt in some Arabian Night, to rock there, cradled and subdued,
In a luxurious lassitude of rhythm and sensual delight.

And only when the measures cease and terminate the flowing dance
They waken from their magic trance and join the cries that clamor "Bis!" . . .

Midnight adjourns the festival.  The couples climb the crowded stair,
And out into the warm night air go singing fragments of the ball.

Close-folded in desire they pass, or stop to drink and talk awhile
In the cafes along the mile from Bullier's back to Montparnasse:

The "Closerie" or "La Rotonde", where smoking, under lamplit trees,
Sit Art's enamored devotees, chatting across their `brune' and `blonde'. . . .

Make one of them and come to know sweet Paris -- not as many do,
Seeing but the folly of the few, the froth, the tinsel, and the show --

But taking some white proffered hand that from Earth's barren every day
Can lead you by the shortest way into Love's florid fairyland.

And that divine enchanted life that lurks under Life's common guise --
That city of romance that lies within the City's toil and strife --

Shall, knocking, open to your hands, for Love is all its golden key,
And one's name murmured tenderly the only magic it demands.

And when all else is gray and void in the vast gulf of memory,
Green islands of delight shall be all blessed moments so enjoyed:

When vaulted with the city skies, on its cathedral floors you stood,
And, priest of a bright brotherhood, performed the mystic sacrifice,

At Love's high altar fit to stand, with fire and incense aureoled,
The celebrant in cloth of gold with Spring and Youth on either hand.



    III

      Choral Song


    Have ye gazed on its grandeur
     Or stood where it stands
    With opal and amber
     Adorning the lands,
    And orcharded domes
     Of the hue of all flowers?
    Sweet melody roams
     Through its blossoming bowers,
Sweet bells usher in from its belfries the train of the honey-sweet hour.

    A city resplendent,
     Fulfilled of good things,
    On its ramparts are pendent
     The bucklers of kings.
    Broad banners unfurled
     Are afloat in its air.
    The lords of the world
     Look for harborage there.
None finds save he comes as a bridegroom, having roses and vine in his hair.

    'Tis the city of Lovers,
     There many paths meet.
    Blessed he above others,
     With faltering feet,
    Who past its proud spires
     Intends not nor hears
    The noise of its lyres
     Grow faint in his ears!
Men reach it through portals of triumph, but leave through a postern of tears.

    It was thither, ambitious,
     We came for Youth's right,
    When our lips yearned for kisses
     As moths for the light,
    When our souls cried for Love
     As for life-giving rain
    Wan leaves of the grove,
     Withered grass of the plain,
And our flesh ached for Love-flesh beside it with bitter, intolerable pain.

    Under arbor and trellis,
     Full of flutes, full of flowers,
    What mad fortunes befell us,
     What glad orgies were ours!
    In the days of our youth,
     In our festal attire,
    When the sweet flesh was smooth,
     When the swift blood was fire,
And all Earth paid in orange and purple to pavilion the bed of Desire!




The Sultan's Palace



My spirit only lived to look on Beauty's face,
 As only when they clasp the arms seem served aright;
As in their flesh inheres the impulse to embrace,
 To gaze on Loveliness was my soul's appetite.

I have roamed far in search; white road and plunging bow
 Were keys in the blue doors where my desire was set;
Obedient to their lure, my lips and laughing brow
 The hill-showers and the spray of many seas have wet.

Hot are enamored hands, the fragrant zone unbound,
 To leave no dear delight unfelt, unfondled o'er,
The will possessed my heart to girdle Earth around
 With their insatiate need to wonder and adore.

The flowers in the fields, the surf upon the sands,
 The sunset and the clouds it turned to blood and wine,
Were shreds of the thin veil behind whose beaded strands
 A radiant visage rose, serene, august, divine.

A noise of summer wind astir in starlit trees,
 A song where sensual love's delirium rose and fell,
Were rites that moved my soul more than the devotee's
 When from the blazing choir rings out the altar bell.

I woke amid the pomp of a proud palace; writ
 In tinted arabesque on walls that gems o'erlay,
The names of caliphs were who once held court in it,
 Their baths and bowers were mine to dwell in for a day.

Their robes and rings were mine to draw from shimmering trays --
 Brocades and broidered silks, topaz and tourmaline --
Their turban-cloths to wind in proud capricious ways,
 And fasten plumes and pearls and pendent sapphires in.

I rose; far music drew my steps in fond pursuit
 Down tessellated floors and towering peristyles:
Through groves of colonnades fair lamps were blushing fruit,
 On seas of green mosaic soft rugs were flowery isles.

And there were verdurous courts that scalloped arches wreathed,
 Where fountains plashed in bowls of lapis lazuli.
Through enigmatic doors voluptuous accents breathed,
 And having Youth I had their Open Sesame.

I paused where shadowy walls were hung with cloths of gold,
 And tinted twilight streamed through storied panes above.
In lamplit alcoves deep as flowers when they unfold
 Soft cushions called to rest and fragrant fumes to love.

I hungered; at my hand delicious dainties teemed --
 Fair pyramids of fruit; pastry in sugared piles.
I thirsted; in cool cups inviting vintage beamed --
 Sweet syrups from the South; brown muscat from the isles.

I yearned for passionate Love; faint gauzes fell away.
 Pillowed in rosy light I found my heart's desire.
Over the silks and down her florid beauty lay,
 As over orient clouds the sunset's coral fire.

Joys that had smiled afar, a visionary form,
 Behind the ranges hid, remote and rainbow-dyed,
Drew near unto my heart, a wonder soft and warm,
 To touch, to stroke, to clasp, to sleep and wake beside.

Joy, that where summer seas and hot horizons shone
 Had been the outspread arms I gave my youth to seek,
Drew near; awhile its pulse strove sweetly with my own,
 Awhile I felt its breath astir upon my cheek.

I was so happy there; so fleeting was my stay, --
 What wonder if, assailed with vistas so divine,
I only lived to search and sample them the day
 When between dawn and dusk the sultan's courts were mine!

Speak not of other worlds of happiness to be,
 As though in any fond imaginary sphere
Lay more to tempt man's soul to immortality
 Than ripens for his bliss abundant now and here!

Flowerlike I hope to die as flowerlike was my birth.
 Rooted in Nature's just benignant law like them,
I want no better joys than those that from green Earth
 My spirit's blossom drew through the sweet body's stem.

I see no dread in death, no horror to abhor.
 I never thought it else than but to cease to dwell
Spectator, and resolve most naturally once more
 Into the dearly loved eternal spectacle.

Unto the fields and flowers this flesh I found so fair
 I yield; do you, dear friend, over your rose-crowned wine,
Murmur my name some day as though my lips were there,
 And frame your mouth as though its blushing kiss were mine.

Yea, where the banquet-hall is brilliant with young men,
 You whose bright youth it might have thrilled my breast to know,
Drink . . . and perhaps my lips, insatiate even then
 Of lips to hang upon, may find their loved ones so.

Unto the flush of dawn and evening I commend
 This immaterial self and flamelike part of me, --
Unto the azure haze that hangs at the world's end,
 The sunshine on the hills, the starlight on the sea, --

Unto angelic Earth, whereof the lives of those
 Who love and dream great dreams and deeply feel may be
The elemental cells and nervules that compose
 Its divine consciousness and joy and harmony.




Fragments



    I


In that fair capital where Pleasure, crowned
Amidst her myriad courtiers, riots and rules,
I too have been a suitor.  Radiant eyes
Were my life's warmth and sunshine, outspread arms
My gilded deep horizons.  I rejoiced
In yielding to all amorous influence
And multiple impulsion of the flesh,
To feel within my being surge and sway
The force that all the stars acknowledge too.
Amid the nebulous humanity
Where I an atom crawled and cleaved and sundered,
I saw a million motions, but one law;
And from the city's splendor to my eyes
The vapors passed and there was nought but Love,
A ferment turbulent, intensely fair,
Where Beauty beckoned and where Strength pursued.



    II


There was a time when I thought much of Fame,
And laid the golden edifice to be
That in the clear light of eternity
Should fitly house the glory of my name.

But swifter than my fingers pushed their plan,
Over the fair foundation scarce begun,
While I with lovers dallied in the sun,
The ivy clambered and the rose-vine ran.

And now, too late to see my vision, rise,
In place of golden pinnacles and towers,
Only some sunny mounds of leaves and flowers,
Only beloved of birds and butterflies.

My friends were duped, my favorers deceived;
But sometimes, musing sorrowfully there,
That flowered wreck has seemed to me so fair
I scarce regret the temple unachieved.



    III


For there were nights . . . my love to him whose brow
Has glistened with the spoils of nights like those,
Home turning as a conqueror turns home,
What time green dawn down every street uprears
Arches of triumph!  He has drained as well
Joy's perfumed bowl and cried as I have cried:
Be Fame their mistress whom Love passes by.
This only matters:  from some flowery bed,
Laden with sweetness like a homing bee,
If one have known what bliss it is to come,
Bearing on hands and breast and laughing lips
The fragrance of his youth's dear rose.  To him
The hills have bared their treasure, the far clouds
Unveiled the vision that o'er summer seas
Drew on his thirsting arms.  This last thing known,
He can court danger, laugh at perilous odds,
And, pillowed on a memory so sweet,
Unto oblivious eternity
Without regret yield his victorious soul,
The blessed pilgrim of a vow fulfilled.



    IV


What is Success?  Out of the endless ore
Of deep desire to coin the utmost gold
Of passionate memory; to have lived so well
That the fifth moon, when it swims up once more
Through orchard boughs where mating orioles build
And apple flowers unfold,
Find not of that dear need that all things tell
The heart unburdened nor the arms unfilled.

O Love, whereof my boyhood was the dream,
My youth the beautiful novitiate,
Life was so slight a thing and thou so great,
How could I make thee less than all-supreme!
In thy sweet transports not alone I thought
Mingled the twain that panted breast to breast.
The sun and stars throbbed with them; they were caught
Into the pulse of Nature and possessed
By the same light that consecrates it so.
Love! -- 'tis the payment of the debt we owe
The beauty of the world, and whensoe'er
In silks and perfume and unloosened hair
The loveliness of lovers, face to face,
Lies folded in the adorable embrace,
Doubt not as of a perfect sacrifice
That soul partakes whose inspiration fills
The springtime and the depth of summer skies,
The rainbow and the clouds behind the hills,
That excellence in earth and air and sea
That makes things as they are the real divinity.





Thirty Sonnets:




  Sonnet I



Down the strait vistas where a city street
Fades in pale dust and vaporous distances,
Stained with far fumes the light grows less and less
And the sky reddens round the day's retreat.
Now out of orient chambers, cool and sweet,
Like Nature's pure lustration, Dusk comes down.
Now the lamps brighten and the quickening town
Rings with the trample of returning feet.
And Pleasure, risen from her own warm mould
Sunk all the drowsy and unloved daylight
In layers of odorous softness, Paphian girls
Cover with gauze, with satin, and with pearls,
Crown, and about her spangly vestments fold
The ermine of the empire of the Night.




  Sonnet II



Her courts are by the flux of flaming ways,
Between the rivers and the illumined sky
Whose fervid depths reverberate from on high
Fierce lustres mingled in a fiery haze.
They mark it inland; blithe and fair of face
Her suitors follow, guessing by the glare
Beyond the hilltops in the evening air
How bright the cressets at her portals blaze.
On the pure fronts Defeat ere many a day
Falls like the soot and dirt on city-snow;
There hopes deferred lie sunk in piteous seams.
Her paths are disillusion and decay,
With ruins piled and unapparent woe,
The graves of Beauty and the wreck of dreams.




  Sonnet III



There was a youth around whose early way
White angels hung in converse and sweet choir,
Teaching in summer clouds his thought to stray, --
In cloud and far horizon to desire.
His life was nursed in beauty, like the stream
Born of clear showers and the mountain dew,
Close under snow-clad summits where they gleam
Forever pure against heaven's orient blue.
Within the city's shades he walked at last.
Faint and more faint in sad recessional
Down the dim corridors of Time outworn,
A chorus ebbed from that forsaken past,
A hymn of glories fled beyond recall
With the lost heights and splendor of life's morn.




  Sonnet IV



Up at his attic sill the South wind came
And days of sun and storm but never peace.
Along the town's tumultuous arteries
He heard the heart-throbs of a sentient frame:
Each night the whistles in the bay, the same
Whirl of incessant wheels and clanging cars:
For smoke that half obscured, the circling stars
Burnt like his youth with but a sickly flame.
Up to his attic came the city cries --
The throes with which her iron sinews heave --
And yet forever behind prison doors
Welled in his heart and trembled in his eyes
The light that hangs on desert hills at eve
And tints the sea on solitary shores. . . .




  Sonnet V



A tide of beauty with returning May
Floods the fair city; from warm pavements fume
Odors endeared; down avenues in bloom
The chestnut-trees with phallic spires are gay.
Over the terrace flows the thronged cafe;
The boulevards are streams of hurrying sound;
And through the streets, like veins when they abound,
The lust for pleasure throbs itself away.
Here let me live, here let me still pursue
Phantoms of bliss that beckon and recede, --
Thy strange allurements, City that I love,
Maze of romance, where I have followed too
The dream Youth treasures of its dearest need
And stars beyond thy towers bring tidings of.




  Sonnet VI



Give me the treble of thy horns and hoofs,
The ponderous undertones of 'bus and tram,
A garret and a glimpse across the roofs
Of clouds blown eastward over Notre Dame,
The glad-eyed streets and radiant gatherings
Where I drank deep the bliss of being young,
The strife and sweet potential flux of things
I sought Youth's dream of happiness among!
It walks here aureoled with the city-light,
Forever through the myriad-featured mass
Flaunting not far its fugitive embrace, --
Heard sometimes in a song across the night,
Caught in a perfume from the crowds that pass,
And when love yields to love seen face to face.




  Sonnet VII



To me, a pilgrim on that journey bound
Whose stations Beauty's bright examples are,
As of a silken city famed afar
Over the sands for wealth and holy ground,
Came the report of one -- a woman crowned
With all perfection, blemishless and high,
As the full moon amid the moonlit sky,
With the world's praise and wonder clad around.
And I who held this notion of success:
To leave no form of Nature's loveliness
Unworshipped, if glad eyes have access there, --
Beyond all earthly bounds have made my goal
To find where that sweet shrine is and extol
The hand that triumphed in a work so fair.




  Sonnet VIII



Oft as by chance, a little while apart
The pall of empty, loveless hours withdrawn,
Sweet Beauty, opening on the impoverished heart,
Beams like the jewel on the breast of dawn:
Not though high heaven should rend would deeper awe
Fill me than penetrates my spirit thus,
Nor all those signs the Patmian prophet saw
Seem a new heaven and earth so marvelous;
But, clad thenceforth in iridescent dyes,
The fair world glistens, and in after days
The memory of kind lips and laughing eyes
Lives in my step and lightens all my face, --
So they who found the Earthly Paradise
Still breathed, returned, of that sweet, joyful place.




  Sonnet IX



Amid the florid multitude her face
Was like the full moon seen behind the lace
Of orchard boughs where clouded blossoms part
When Spring shines in the world and in the heart.
As the full-moon-beams to the ferny floor
Of summer woods through flower and foliage pour,
So to my being's innermost recess
Flooded the light of so much loveliness;
She held as in a vase of priceless ware
The wine that over arid ways and bare
My youth was the pathetic thirsting for,
And where she moved the veil of Nature grew
Diaphanous and that radiance mantled through
Which, when I see, I tremble and adore.




  Sonnet X



A splendor, flamelike, born to be pursued,
With palms extent for amorous charity
And eyes incensed with love for all they see,
A wonder more to be adored than wooed,
On whom the grace of conscious womanhood
Adorning every little thing she does
Sits like enchantment, making glorious
A careless pose, a casual attitude;
Around her lovely shoulders mantle-wise
Hath come the realm of those old fabulous queens
Whose storied loves are Art's rich heritage,
To keep alive in this our latter age
That force that moving through sweet Beauty's means
Lifts up Man's soul to towering enterprise.




  Sonnet XI

* A paraphrase of Petrarca, `Quando fra l'altre donne . . .'



When among creatures fair of countenance
Love comes enformed in such proud character,
So far as other beauty yields to her,
So far the breast with fiercer longing pants;
I bless the spot, and hour, and circumstance,
That wed desire to a thing so high,
And say, Glad soul, rejoice, for thou and I
Of bliss unpaired are made participants;
Hence have come ardent thoughts and waking dreams
That, feeding Fancy from so sweet a cup,
Leave it no lust for gross imaginings.
Through her the woman's perfect beauty gleams
That while it gazes lifts the spirit up
To that high source from which all beauty springs.




  Sonnet XII



Like as a dryad, from her native bole
Coming at dusk, when the dim stars emerge,
To a slow river at whose silent verge
Tall poplars tremble and deep grasses roll,
Come thou no less and, kneeling in a shoal
Of the freaked flag and meadow buttercup,
Bend till thine image from the pool beam up
Arched with blue heaven like an aureole.
See how adorable in fancy then
Lives the fair face it mirrors even so,
O thou whose beauty moving among men
Is like the wind's way on the woods below,
Filling all nature where its pathway lies
With arms that supplicate and trembling sighs.




  Sonnet XIII



I fancied, while you stood conversing there,
Superb, in every attitude a queen,
Her ermine thus Boadicea bare,
So moved amid the multitude Faustine.
My life, whose whole religion Beauty is,
Be charged with sin if ever before yours
A lesser feeling crossed my mind than his
Who owning grandeur marvels and adores.
Nay, rather in my dream-world's ivory tower
I made your image the high pearly sill,
And mounting there in many a wistful hour,
Burdened with love, I trembled and was still,
Seeing discovered from that azure height
Remote, untrod horizons of delight.




  Sonnet XIV



It may be for the world of weeds and tares
And dearth in Nature of sweet Beauty's rose
That oft as Fortune from ten thousand shows
One from the train of Love's true courtiers
Straightway on him who gazes, unawares,
Deep wonder seizes and swift trembling grows,
Reft by that sight of purpose and repose,
Hardly its weight his fainting breast upbears.
Then on the soul from some ancestral place
Floods back remembrance of its heavenly birth,
When, in the light of that serener sphere,
It saw ideal beauty face to face
That through the forms of this our meaner Earth
Shines with a beam less steadfast and less clear.




  Sonnet XV



Above the ruin of God's holy place,
Where man-forsaken lay the bleeding rood,
Whose hands, when men had craved substantial food,
Gave not, nor folded when they cried, Embrace,
I saw exalted in the latter days
Her whom west winds with natal foam bedewed,
Wafted toward Cyprus, lily-breasted, nude,
Standing with arms out-stretched and flower-like face.
And, sick with all those centuries of tears
Shed in the penance for factitious woe,
Once more I saw the nations at her feet,
For Love shone in their eyes, and in their ears
Come unto me, Love beckoned them, for lo!
The breast your lips abjured is still as sweet.




  Sonnet XVI



Who shall invoke her, who shall be her priest,
With single rites the common debt to pay?
On some green headland fronting to the East
Our fairest boy shall kneel at break of day.
Naked, uplifting in a laden tray
New milk and honey and sweet-tinctured wine,
Not without twigs of clustering apple-spray
To wreath a garland for Our Lady's shrine.
The morning planet poised above the sea
Shall drop sweet influence through her drowsing lid;
Dew-drenched, his delicate virginity
Shall scarce disturb the flowers he kneels amid,
That, waked so lightly, shall lift up their eyes,
Cushion his knees, and nod between his thighs.




  Kyrenaikos



Lay me where soft Cyrene rambles down
In grove and garden to the sapphire sea;
Twine yellow roses for the drinker's crown;
Let music reach and fair heads circle me,
Watching blue ocean where the white sails steer
Fruit-laden forth or with the wares and news
Of merchant cities seek our harbors here,
Careless how Corinth fares, how Syracuse;
But here, with love and sleep in her caress,
Warm night shall sink and utterly persuade
The gentle doctrine Aristippus bare, --
Night-winds, and one whose white youth's loveliness,
In a flowered balcony beside me laid,
Dreams, with the starlight on her fragrant hair.




  Antinous



Stretched on a sunny bank he lay at rest,
Ferns at his elbow, lilies round his knees,
With sweet flesh patterned where the cool turf pressed,
Flowerlike crept o'er with emerald aphides.
Single he couched there, to his circling flocks
Piping at times some happy shepherd's tune,
Nude, with the warm wind in his golden locks,
And arched with the blue Asian afternoon.
Past him, gorse-purpled, to the distant coast
Rolled the clear foothills.  There his white-walled town,
There, a blue band, the placid Euxine lay.
Beyond, on fields of azure light embossed
He watched from noon till dewy eve came down
The summer clouds pile up and fade away.




  Vivien



Her eyes under their lashes were blue pools
Fringed round with lilies; her bright hair unfurled
Clothed her as sunshine clothes the summer world.
Her robes were gauzes -- gold and green and gules,
All furry things flocked round her, from her hand
Nibbling their foods and fawning at her feet.
Two peacocks watched her where she made her seat
Beside a fountain in Broceliande.
Sometimes she sang. . . .  Whoever heard forgot
Errand and aim, and knights at noontide here,
Riding from fabulous gestes beyond the seas,
Would follow, tranced, and seek . . . and find her not . . .
But wake that night, lost, by some woodland mere,
Powdered with stars and rimmed with silent trees.




  I Loved . . .



I loved illustrious cities and the crowds
That eddy through their incandescent nights.
I loved remote horizons with far clouds
Girdled, and fringed about with snowy heights.
I loved fair women, their sweet, conscious ways
Of wearing among hands that covet and plead
The rose ablossom at the rainbow's base
That bounds the world's desire and all its need.
Nature I worshipped, whose fecundity
Embraces every vision the most fair,
Of perfect benediction.  From a boy
I gloated on existence.  Earth to me
Seemed all-sufficient and my sojourn there
One trembling opportunity for joy.




  Virginibus Puerisque . . .



I care not that one listen if he lives
For aught but life's romance, nor puts above
All life's necessities the need to love,
Nor counts his greatest wealth what Beauty gives.
But sometime on an afternoon in spring,
When dandelions dot the fields with gold,
And under rustling shade a few weeks old
'Tis sweet to stroll and hear the bluebirds sing,
Do you, blond head, whom beauty and the power
Of being young and winsome have prepared
For life's last privilege that really pays,
Make the companion of an idle hour
These relics of the time when I too fared
Across the sweet fifth lustrum of my days.




  With a Copy of Shakespeare's Sonnets on Leaving College



As one of some fat tillage dispossessed,
Weighing the yield of these four faded years,
If any ask what fruit seems loveliest,
What lasting gold among the garnered ears, --
Ah, then I'll say what hours I had of thine,
Therein I reaped Time's richest revenue,
Read in thy text the sense of David's line,
Through thee achieved the love that Shakespeare knew.
Take then his book, laden with mine own love
As flowers made sweeter by deep-drunken rain,
That when years sunder and between us move
Wide waters, and less kindly bonds constrain,
Thou may'st turn here, dear boy, and reading see
Some part of what thy friend once felt for thee.




  Written in a Volume of the Comtesse de Noailles



Be my companion under cool arcades
That frame some drowsy street and dazzling square
Beyond whose flowers and palm-tree promenades
White belfries burn in the blue tropic air.
Lie near me in dim forests where the croon
Of wood-doves sounds and moss-banked water flows,
Or musing late till the midsummer moon
Breaks through some ruined abbey's empty rose.
Sweetest of those to-day whose pious hands
Tend the sequestered altar of Romance,
Where fewer offerings burn, and fewer kneel,
Pour there your passionate beauty on my heart,
And, gladdening such solitudes, impart
How sweet the fellowship of those who feel!




  Coucy



The rooks aclamor when one enters here
Startle the empty towers far overhead;
Through gaping walls the summer fields appear,
Green, tan, or, poppy-mingled, tinged with red.
The courts where revel rang deep grass and moss
Cover, and tangled vines have overgrown
The gate where banners blazoned with a cross
Rolled forth to toss round Tyre and Ascalon.
Decay consumes it.  The old causes fade.
And fretting for the contest many a heart
Waits their Tyrtaeus to chant on the new.
Oh, pass him by who, in this haunted shade
Musing enthralled, has only this much art,
To love the things the birds and flowers love too.




  Tezcotzinco



Though thou art now a ruin bare and cold,
Thou wert sometime the garden of a king.
The birds have sought a lovelier place to sing.
The flowers are few.  It was not so of old.
It was not thus when hand in hand there strolled
Through arbors perfumed with undying Spring
Bare bodies beautiful, brown, glistening,
Decked with green plumes and rings of yellow gold.
Do you suppose the herdsman sometimes hears
Vague echoes borne beneath the moon's pale ray
From those old, old, far-off, forgotten years?
Who knows?  Here where his ancient kings held sway
He stands.  Their names are strangers to his ears.
Even their memory has passed away.




  The Old Lowe House, Staten Island



Another prospect pleased the builder's eye,
And Fashion tenanted (where Fashion wanes)
Here in the sorrowful suburban lanes
When first these gables rose against the sky.
Relic of a romantic taste gone by,
This stately monument alone remains,
Vacant, with lichened walls and window-panes
Blank as the windows of a skull.  But I,
On evenings when autumnal winds have stirred
In the porch-vines, to this gray oracle
Have laid a wondering ear and oft-times heard,
As from the hollow of a stranded shell,
Old voices echoing (or my fancy erred)
Things indistinct, but not insensible.




  Oneata



A hilltop sought by every soothing breeze
That loves the melody of murmuring boughs,
Cool shades, green acreage, and antique house
Fronting the ocean and the dawn; than these
Old monks built never for the spirit's ease
Cloisters more calm -- not Cluny nor Clairvaux;
Sweet are the noises from the bay below,
And cuckoos calling in the tulip-trees.
Here, a yet empty suitor in thy train,
Beloved Poesy, great joy was mine
To while a listless spell of summer days,
Happier than hoarder in each evening's gain,
When evenings found me richer by one line,
One verse well turned, or serviceable phrase.




  On the Cliffs, Newport



Tonight a shimmer of gold lies mantled o'er
Smooth lovely Ocean.  Through the lustrous gloom
A savor steals from linden trees in bloom
And gardens ranged at many a palace door.
Proud walls rise here, and, where the moonbeams pour
Their pale enchantment down the dim coast-line,
Terrace and lawn, trim hedge and flowering vine,
Crown with fair culture all the sounding shore.
How sweet, to such a place, on such a night,
From halls with beauty and festival a-glare,
To come distract and, stretched on the cool turf,
Yield to some fond, improbable delight,
While the moon, reddening, sinks, and all the air
Sighs with the muffled tumult of the surf!




  To England at the Outbreak of the Balkan War



A cloud has lowered that shall not soon pass o'er.
The world takes sides:  whether for impious aims
With Tyranny whose bloody toll enflames
A generous people to heroic war;
Whether with Freedom, stretched in her own gore,
Whose pleading hands and suppliant distress
Still offer hearts that thirst for Righteousness
A glorious cause to strike or perish for.
England, which side is thine?  Thou hast had sons
Would shrink not from the choice however grim,
Were Justice trampled on and Courage downed;
Which will they be -- cravens or champions?
Oh, if a doubt intrude, remember him
Whose death made Missolonghi holy ground.




  At the Tomb of Napoleon Before the Elections in America -- November, 1912



I stood beside his sepulchre whose fame,
Hurled over Europe once on bolt and blast,
Now glows far off as storm-clouds overpast
Glow in the sunset flushed with glorious flame.
Has Nature marred his mould?  Can Art acclaim
No hero now, no man with whom men side
As with their hearts' high needs personified?
There are will say, One such our lips could name;
Columbia gave him birth.  Him Genius most
Gifted to rule.  Against the world's great man
Lift their low calumny and sneering cries
The Pharisaic multitude, the host
Of piddling slanderers whose little eyes
Know not what greatness is and never can.




The Rendezvous



He faints with hope and fear.  It is the hour.
 Distant, across the thundering organ-swell,
In sweet discord from the cathedral-tower,
 Fall the faint chimes and the thrice-sequent bell.
Over the crowd his eye uneasy roves.
 He sees a plume, a fur; his heart dilates --
Soars . . . and then sinks again.  It is not hers he loves.
 She will not come, the woman that he waits.

Braided with streams of silver incense rise
 The antique prayers and ponderous antiphones.
`Gloria Patri' echoes to the skies;
 `Nunc et in saecula' the choir intones.
He marks not the monotonous refrain,
 The priest that serves nor him that celebrates,
But ever scans the aisle for his blonde head. . . .  In vain!
 She will not come, the woman that he waits.

How like a flower seemed the perfumed place
 Where the sweet flesh lay loveliest to kiss;
And her white hands in what delicious ways,
 With what unfeigned caresses, answered his!
Each tender charm intolerable to lose,
 Each happy scene his fancy recreates.
And he calls out her name and spreads his arms . . .  No use!
 She will not come, the woman that he waits.

But the long vespers close.  The priest on high
 Raises the thing that Christ's own flesh enforms;
And down the Gothic nave the crowd flows by
 And through the portal's carven entry swarms.
Maddened he peers upon each passing face
 Till the long drab procession terminates.
No princess passes out with proud majestic pace.
 She has not come, the woman that he waits.

Back in the empty silent church alone
 He walks with aching heart.  A white-robed boy
Puts out the altar-candles one by one,
 Even as by inches darkens all his joy.
He dreams of the sweet night their lips first met,
 And groans -- and turns to leave -- and hesitates . . .
Poor stricken heart, he will, he can not fancy yet
 She will not come, the woman that he waits.

But in an arch where deepest shadows fall
 He sits and studies the old, storied panes,
And the calm crucifix that from the wall
 Looks on a world that quavers and complains.
Hopeless, abandoned, desolate, aghast,
 On modes of violent death he meditates.
And the tower-clock tolls five, and he admits at last,
 She will not come, the woman that he waits.

Through the stained rose the winter daylight dies,
 And all the tide of anguish unrepressed
Swells in his throat and gathers in his eyes;
 He kneels and bows his head upon his breast,
And feigns a prayer to hide his burning tears,
 While the satanic voice reiterates
`Tonight, tomorrow, nay, nor all the impending years,
 She will not come,' the woman that he waits.

Fond, fervent heart of life's enamored spring,
 So true, so confident, so passing fair,
That thought of Love as some sweet, tender thing,
 And not as war, red tooth and nail laid bare,
How in that hour its innocence was slain,
 How from that hour our disillusion dates,
When first we learned thy sense, ironical refrain,
 She will not come, the woman that he waits.




Do You Remember Once . . .



    I


Do you remember once, in Paris of glad faces,
 The night we wandered off under the third moon's rays
And, leaving far behind bright streets and busy places,
 Stood where the Seine flowed down between its quiet quais?

The city's voice was hushed; the placid, lustrous waters
 Mirrored the walls across where orange windows burned.
Out of the starry south provoking rumors brought us
 Far promise of the spring already northward turned.

And breast drew near to breast, and round its soft desire
 My arm uncertain stole and clung there unrepelled.
I thought that nevermore my heart would hover nigher
 To the last flower of bliss that Nature's garden held.

There, in your beauty's sweet abandonment to pleasure,
 The mute, half-open lips and tender, wondering eyes,
I saw embodied first smile back on me the treasure
 Long sought across the seas and back of summer skies.

Dear face, when courted Death shall claim my limbs and find them
 Laid in some desert place, alone or where the tides
Of war's tumultuous waves on the wet sands behind them
 Leave rifts of gasping life when their red flood subsides,

Out of the past's remote delirious abysses
 Shine forth once more as then you shone, -- beloved head,
Laid back in ecstasy between our blinding kisses,
 Transfigured with the bliss of being so coveted.

And my sick arms will part, and though hot fever sear it,
 My mouth will curve again with the old, tender flame.
And darkness will come down, still finding in my spirit
 The dream of your brief love, and on my lips your name.



    II


You loved me on that moonlit night long since.
You were my queen and I the charming prince
Elected from a world of mortal men.
You loved me once. . . .  What pity was it, then,
You loved not Love. . . .  Deep in the emerald west,
Like a returning caravel caressed
By breezes that load all the ambient airs
With clinging fragrance of the bales it bears
From harbors where the caravans come down,
I see over the roof-tops of the town
The new moon back again, but shall not see
The joy that once it had in store for me,
Nor know again the voice upon the stair,
The little studio in the candle-glare,
And all that makes in word and touch and glance
The bliss of the first nights of a romance
When will to love and be beloved casts out
The want to question or the will to doubt.
You loved me once. . . .  Under the western seas
The pale moon settles and the Pleiades.
The firelight sinks; outside the night-winds moan --
The hour advances, and I sleep alone.*

--
* <Greek> D|/eduke m|\en |`a sel|/anna ka|\i Plh|/iadec, m|/essai de n|/uktec,
  p|/ara d' |'/erxet' |`/wra |'/egw de m|/ona kate|/udw. <EndGreek> -- Sappho.
  <See appendix for an ASCII to Greek mapping.>
--



    III


Farewell, dear heart, enough of vain despairing!
 If I have erred I plead but one excuse --
The jewel were a lesser joy in wearing
 That cost a lesser agony to lose.

I had not bid for beautifuller hours
 Had I not found the door so near unsealed,
Nor hoped, had you not filled my arms with flowers,
 For that one flower that bloomed too far afield.

If I have wept, it was because, forsaken,
 I felt perhaps more poignantly than some
The blank eternity from which we waken
 And all the blank eternity to come.

And I betrayed how sweet a thing and tender
 (In the regret with which my lip was curled)
Seemed in its tragic, momentary splendor
 My transit through the beauty of the world.




The Bayadere



Flaked, drifting clouds hide not the full moon's rays
More than her beautiful bright limbs were hid
By the light veils they burned and blushed amid,
Skilled to provoke in soft, lascivious ways,
And there was invitation in her voice
And laughing lips and wonderful dark eyes,
As though above the gates of Paradise
Fair verses bade, Be welcome and rejoice!

O'er rugs where mottled blue and green and red
Blent in the patterns of the Orient loom,
Like a bright butterfly from bloom to bloom,
She floated with delicious arms outspread.
There was no pose she took, no move she made,
But all the feverous, love-envenomed flesh
Wrapped round as in the gladiator's mesh
And smote as with his triple-forked blade.

I thought that round her sinuous beauty curled
Fierce exhalations of hot human love, --
Around her beauty valuable above
The sunny outspread kingdoms of the world;
Flowing as ever like a dancing fire
Flowed her belled ankles and bejewelled wrists,
Around her beauty swept like sanguine mists
The nimbus of a thousand hearts' desire.




Eudaemon



O happiness, I know not what far seas,
 Blue hills and deep, thy sunny realms surround,
That thus in Music's wistful harmonies
 And concert of sweet sound
A rumor steals, from some uncertain shore,
Of lovely things outworn or gladness yet in store:

Whether thy beams be pitiful and come,
 Across the sundering of vanished years,
From childhood and the happy fields of home,
 Like eyes instinct with tears
Felt through green brakes of hedge and apple-bough
Round haunts delightful once, desert and silent now;

Or yet if prescience of unrealized love
 Startle the breast with each melodious air,
And gifts that gentle hands are donors of
 Still wait intact somewhere,
Furled up all golden in a perfumed place
Within the folded petals of forthcoming days.

Only forever, in the old unrest
 Of winds and waters and the varying year,
A litany from islands of the blessed
 Answers, Not here . . . not here!
And over the wide world that wandering cry
Shall lead my searching heart unsoothed until I die.




Broceliande



Broceliande! in the perilous beauty of silence and menacing shade,
Thou art set on the shores of the sea down the haze
  of horizons untravelled, unscanned.
Untroubled, untouched with the woes of this world
  are the moon-marshalled hosts that invade
                    Broceliande.

Only at dusk, when lavender clouds in the orient twilight disband,
Vanishing where all the blue afternoon they have drifted in solemn parade,
Sometimes a whisper comes down on the wind from the valleys of Fairyland ----

Sometimes an echo most mournful and faint like the horn of a huntsman strayed,
Faint and forlorn, half drowned in the murmur of foliage fitfully fanned,
Breathes in a burden of nameless regret till I startle,
  disturbed and affrayed:
                    Broceliande --
                    Broceliande --
                    Broceliande. . . .




Lyonesse



In Lyonesse was beauty enough, men say:
Long Summer loaded the orchards to excess,
And fertile lowlands lengthening far away,
               In Lyonesse.

Came a term to that land's old favoredness:
Past the sea-walls, crumbled in thundering spray,
Rolled the green waves, ravening, merciless.

Through bearded boughs immobile in cool decay,
Where sea-bloom covers corroding palaces,
The mermaid glides with a curious glance to-day,
               In Lyonesse.




Tithonus



So when the verdure of his life was shed,
With all the grace of ripened manlihead,
And on his locks, but now so lovable,
Old age like desolating winter fell,
Leaving them white and flowerless and forlorn:
Then from his bed the Goddess of the Morn
Softly withheld, yet cherished him no less
With pious works of pitying tenderness;
Till when at length with vacant, heedless eyes,
And hoary height bent down none otherwise
Than burdened willows bend beneath their weight
Of snow when winter winds turn temperate, --
So bowed with years -- when still he lingered on:
Then to the daughter of Hyperion
This counsel seemed the best:  for she, afar
By dove-gray seas under the morning star,
Where, on the wide world's uttermost extremes,
Her amber-walled, auroral palace gleams,
High in an orient chamber bade prepare
An everlasting couch, and laid him there,
And leaving, closed the shining doors.  But he,
Deathless by Jove's compassionless decree,
Found not, as others find, a dreamless rest.
There wakeful, with half-waking dreams oppressed,
Still in an aural, visionary haze
Float round him vanished forms of happier days;
Still at his side he fancies to behold
The rosy, radiant thing beloved of old;
And oft, as over dewy meads at morn,
Far inland from a sunrise coast is borne
The drowsy, muffled moaning of the sea,
Even so his voice flows on unceasingly, --
Lisping sweet names of passion overblown,
Breaking with dull, persistent undertone
The breathless silence that forever broods
Round those colossal, lustrous solitudes.
Times change.  Man's fortune prospers, or it falls.
Change harbors not in those eternal halls
And tranquil chamber where Tithonus lies.
But through his window there the eastern skies
Fall palely fair to the dim ocean's end.
There, in blue mist where air and ocean blend,
The lazy clouds that sail the wide world o'er
Falter and turn where they can sail no more.
There singing groves, there spacious gardens blow --
Cedars and silver poplars, row on row,
Through whose black boughs on her appointed night,
Flooding his chamber with enchanted light,
Lifts the full moon's immeasurable sphere,
Crimson and huge and wonderfully near.




An Ode to Antares



At dusk, when lowlands where dark waters glide
Robe in gray mist, and through the greening hills
The hoot-owl calls his mate, and whippoorwills
Clamor from every copse and orchard-side,
I watched the red star rising in the East,
And while his fellows of the flaming sign
From prisoning daylight more and more released,
Lift their pale lamps, and, climbing higher, higher,
Out of their locks the waters of the Line
Shaking in clouds of phosphorescent fire,
Rose in the splendor of their curving flight,
Their dolphin leap across the austral night,
From windows southward opening on the sea
What eyes, I wondered, might be watching, too,
Orbed in some blossom-laden balcony.
Where, from the garden to the rail above,
As though a lover's greeting to his love
Should borrow body and form and hue
And tower in torrents of floral flame,
The crimson bougainvillea grew,
What starlit brow uplifted to the same
Majestic regress of the summering sky,
What ultimate thing -- hushed, holy, throned as high
Above the currents that tarnish and profane
As silver summits are whose pure repose
No curious eyes disclose
Nor any footfalls stain,
But round their beauty on azure evenings
Only the oreads go on gauzy wings,
Only the oreads troop with dance and song
And airy beings in rainbow mists who throng
Out of those wonderful worlds that lie afar
Betwixt the outmost cloud and the nearest star.

Like the moon, sanguine in the orient night
Shines the red flower in her beautiful hair.
Her breasts are distant islands of delight
Upon a sea where all is soft and fair.
Those robes that make a silken sheath
For each lithe attitude that flows beneath,
Shrouding in scented folds sweet warmths and tumid flowers,
Call them far clouds that half emerge
Beyond a sunset ocean's utmost verge,
Hiding in purple shade and downpour of soft showers
Enchanted isles by mortal foot untrod,
And there in humid dells resplendent orchids nod;
There always from serene horizons blow
Soul-easing gales and there all spice-trees grow
That Phoenix robbed to line his fragrant nest
Each hundred years in Araby the Blest.

Star of the South that now through orient mist
At nightfall off Tampico or Belize
Greetest the sailor rising from those seas
Where first in me, a fond romanticist,
The tropic sunset's bloom on cloudy piles
Cast out industrious cares with dreams of fabulous isles --
Thou lamp of the swart lover to his tryst,
O'er planted acres at the jungle's rim
Reeking with orange-flower and tuberose,
Dear to his eyes thy ruddy splendor glows
Among the palms where beauty waits for him;
Bliss too thou bringst to our greening North,
Red scintillant through cherry-blossom rifts,
Herald of summer-heat, and all the gifts
And all the joys a summer can bring forth ----

Be thou my star, for I have made my aim
To follow loveliness till autumn-strown
Sunder the sinews of this flower-like frame
As rose-leaves sunder when the bud is blown.
Ay, sooner spirit and sense disintegrate
Than reconcilement to a common fate
Strip the enchantment from a world so dressed
In hues of high romance.  I cannot rest
While aught of beauty in any path untrod
Swells into bloom and spreads sweet charms abroad
Unworshipped of my love.  I cannot see
In Life's profusion and passionate brevity
How hearts enamored of life can strain too much
In one long tension to hear, to see, to touch.
Now on each rustling night-wind from the South
Far music calls; beyond the harbor mouth
Each outbound argosy with sail unfurled
May point the path through this fortuitous world
That holds the heart from its desire.  Away!
Where tinted coast-towns gleam at close of day,
Where squares are sweet with bells, or shores thick set
With bloom and bower, with mosque and minaret.
Blue peaks loom up beyond the coast-plains here,
White roads wind up the dales and disappear,
By silvery waters in the plains afar
Glimmers the inland city like a star,
With gilded gates and sunny spires ablaze
And burnished domes half-seen through luminous haze,
Lo, with what opportunity Earth teems!
How like a fair its ample beauty seems!
Fluttering with flags its proud pavilions rise:
What bright bazaars, what marvelous merchandise,
Down seething alleys what melodious din,
What clamor importuning from every booth!
At Earth's great market where Joy is trafficked in
Buy while thy purse yet swells with golden Youth!






Translations






Dante.  Inferno, Canto XXVI



Florence, rejoice!  For thou o'er land and sea
So spread'st thy pinions that the fame of thee
Hath reached no less into the depths of Hell.
So noble were the five I found to dwell
Therein -- thy sons -- whence shame accrues to me
And no great praise is thine; but if it be
That truth unveil in dreamings before dawn,
Then is the vengeful hour not far withdrawn
When Prato shall exult within her walls
To see thy suffering.  Whate'er befalls,
Let it come soon, since come it must, for later,
Each year would see my grief for thee the greater.

 We left; and once more up the craggy side
By the blind steps of our descent, my guide,
Remounting, drew me on.  So we pursued
The rugged path through that steep solitude,
Where rocks and splintered fragments strewed the land
So thick, that foot availed not without hand.
Grief filled me then, and still great sorrow stirs
My heart as oft as memory recurs
To what I saw; that more and more I rein
My natural powers, and curb them lest they strain
Where Virtue guide not, -- that if some good star,
Or better thing, have made them what they are,
That good I may not grudge, nor turn to ill.

 As when, reclining on some verdant hill --
What season the hot sun least veils his power
That lightens all, and in that gloaming hour
The fly resigns to the shrill gnat -- even then,
As rustic, looking down, sees, o'er the glen,
Vineyard, or tilth where lies his husbandry,
Fireflies innumerable sparkle:  so to me,
Come where its mighty depth unfolded, straight
With flames no fewer seemed to scintillate
The shades of the eighth pit.  And as to him
Whose wrongs the bears avenged, dim and more dim
Elijah's chariot seemed, when to the skies
Uprose the heavenly steeds; and still his eyes
Strained, following them, till naught remained in view
But flame, like a thin cloud against the blue:
So here, the melancholy gulf within,
Wandered these flames, concealing each its sin,
Yet each, a fiery integument,
Wrapped round a sinner.

                         On the bridge intent,
Gazing I stood, and grasped its flinty side,
Or else, unpushed, had fallen.  And my guide,
Observing me so moved, spake, saying:  "Behold
Where swathed each in his unconsuming fold,
The spirits lie confined."  Whom answering,
"Master," I said, "thy words assurance bring
To that which I already had supposed;
And I was fain to ask who lies enclosed
In the embrace of that dividing fire,
Which seems to curl above the fabled pyre,
Where with his twin-born brother, fiercely hated,
Eteocles was laid."  He answered, "Mated
In punishment as once in wrath they were,
Ulysses there and Diomed incur
The eternal pains; there groaning they deplore
The ambush of the horse, which made the door
For Rome's imperial seed to issue:  there
In anguish too they wail the fatal snare
Whence dead Deidamia still must grieve,
Reft of Achilles; likewise they receive
Due penalty for the Palladium."
"Master," I said, "if in that martyrdom
The power of human speech may still be theirs,
I pray -- and think it worth a thousand prayers --
That, till this horned flame be come more nigh,
We may abide here; for thou seest that I
With great desire incline to it."  And he:
"Thy prayer deserves great praise; which willingly
I grant; but thou refrain from speaking; leave
That task to me; for fully I conceive
What thing thou wouldst, and it might fall perchance
That these, being Greeks, would scorn thine utterance."

 So when the flame had come where time and place
Seemed not unfitting to my guide with grace
To question, thus he spoke at my desire:
"O ye that are two souls within one fire,
If in your eyes some merit I have won --
Merit, or more or less -- for tribute done
When in the world I framed my lofty verse:
Move not; but fain were we that one rehearse
By what strange fortunes to his death he came."
The elder crescent of the antique flame
Began to wave, as in the upper air
A flame is tempest-tortured, here and there
Tossing its angry height, and in its sound
As human speech it suddenly had found,
Rolled forth a voice of thunder, saying:  "When,
The twelvemonth past in Circe's halls, again
I left Gaeta's strand (ere thither came
Aeneas, and had given it that name)
Not love of son, nor filial reverence,
Nor that affection that might recompense
The weary vigil of Penelope,
Could so far quench the hot desire in me
To prove more wonders of the teeming earth, --
Of human frailty and of manly worth.
In one small bark, and with the faithful band
That all awards had shared of Fortune's hand,
I launched once more upon the open main.
Both shores I visited as far as Spain, --
Sardinia, and Morocco, and what more
The midland sea upon its bosom wore.
The hour of our lives was growing late
When we arrived before that narrow strait
Where Hercules had set his bounds to show
That there Man's foot shall pause, and further none shall go.
Borne with the gale past Seville on the right,
And on the left now swept by Ceuta's site,
`Brothers,' I cried, `that into the far West
Through perils numberless are now addressed,
In this brief respite that our mortal sense
Yet hath, shrink not from new experience;
But sailing still against the setting sun,
Seek we new worlds where Man has never won
Before us.  Ponder your proud destinies:
Born were ye not like brutes for swinish ease,
But virtue and high knowledge to pursue.'
My comrades with such zeal did I imbue
By these brief words, that scarcely could I then
Have turned them from their purpose; so again
We set out poop against the morning sky,
And made our oars as wings wherewith to fly
Into the Unknown.  And ever from the right
Our course deflecting, in the balmy night
All southern stars we saw, and ours so low,
That scarce above the sea-marge it might show.
So five revolving periods the soft,
Pale light had robbed of Cynthia, and as oft
Replenished since our start, when far and dim
Over the misty ocean's utmost rim,
Rose a great mountain, that for very height
Passed any I had seen.  Boundless delight
Filled us -- alas, and quickly turned to dole:
For, springing from our scarce-discovered goal,
A whirlwind struck the ship; in circles three
It whirled us helpless in the eddying sea;
High on the fourth the fragile stern uprose,
The bow drove down, and, as Another chose,
Over our heads we heard the surging billows close."




Ariosto.  Orlando Furioso, Canto X, 91-99



Ruggiero, to amaze the British host,
And wake more wonder in their wondering ranks,
The bridle of his winged courser loosed,
And clapped his spurs into the creature's flanks;
High in the air, even to the topmost banks
Of crudded cloud, uprose the flying horse,
And now above the Welsh, and now the Manx,
And now across the sea he shaped his course,
Till gleaming far below lay Erin's emerald shores.

There round Hibernia's fabled realm he coasted,
Where the old saint had left the holy cave,
Sought for the famous virtue that it boasted
To purge the sinful visitor and save.
Thence back returning over land and wave,
Ruggiero came where the blue currents flow,
The shores of Lesser Brittany to lave,
And, looking down while sailing to and fro,
He saw Angelica chained to the rock below.

'Twas on the Island of Complaint -- well named,
For there to that inhospitable shore,
A savage people, cruel and untamed,
Brought the rich prize of many a hateful war.
To feed a monster that bestead them sore,
They of fair ladies those that loveliest shone,
Of tender maidens they the tenderest bore,
And, drowned in tears and making piteous moan,
Left for that ravening beast, chained on the rocks alone.

Thither transported by enchanter's art,
Angelica from dreams most innocent
(As the tale mentioned in another part)
Awoke, the victim for that sad event.
Beauty so rare, nor birth so excellent,
Nor tears that make sweet Beauty lovelier still,
Could turn that people from their harsh intent.
Alas, what temper is conceived so ill
But, Pity moving not, Love's soft enthralment will?

On the cold granite at the ocean's rim
These folk had chained her fast and gone their way;
Fresh in the softness of each delicate limb
The pity of their bruising violence lay.
Over her beauty, from the eye of day
To hide its pleading charms, no veil was thrown.
Only the fragments of the salt sea-spray
Rose from the churning of the waves, wind-blown,
To dash upon a whiteness creamier than their own.

Carved out of candid marble without flaw,
Or alabaster blemishless and rare,
Ruggiero might have fancied what he saw,
For statue-like it seemed, and fastened there
By craft of cunningest artificer;
Save in the wistful eyes Ruggiero thought
A teardrop gleamed, and with the rippling hair
The ocean breezes played as if they sought
In its loose depths to hide that which her hand might not.

Pity and wonder and awakening love
Strove in the bosom of the Moorish Knight.
Down from his soaring in the skies above
He urged the tenor of his courser's flight.
Fairer with every foot of lessening height
Shone the sweet prisoner.  With tightening reins
He drew more nigh, and gently as he might:
"O lady, worthy only of the chains
With which his bounden slaves the God of Love constrains,

"And least for this or any ill designed,
Oh, what unnatural and perverted race
Could the sweet flesh with flushing stricture bind,
And leave to suffer in this cold embrace
That the warm arms so hunger to replace?"
Into the damsel's cheeks such color flew
As by the alchemy of ancient days
If whitest ivory should take the hue
Of coral where it blooms deep in the liquid blue.

Nor yet so tightly drawn the cruel chains
Clasped the slim ankles and the wounded hands,
But with soft, cringing attitudes in vain
She strove to shield her from that ardent glance.
So, clinging to the walls of some old manse,
The rose-vine strives to shield her tender flowers,
When the rude wind, as autumn weeks advance,
Beats on the walls and whirls about the towers
And spills at every blast her pride in piteous showers.

And first for choking sobs she might not speak,
And then, "Alas!" she cried, "ah, woe is me!"
And more had said in accents faint and weak,
Pleading for succor and sweet liberty.
But hark! across the wide ways of the sea
Rose of a sudden such a fierce affray
That any but the brave had turned to flee.
Ruggiero, turning, looked.  To his dismay,
Lo, where the monster came to claim his quivering prey!




On a Theme in the Greek Anthology



Thy petals yet are closely curled,
 Rose of the world,
Around their scented, golden core;
Nor yet has Summer purpled o'er
Thy tender clusters that begin
 To swell within
The dewy vine-leaves' early screen
 Of sheltering green.

O hearts that are Love's helpless prey,
 While yet you may,
Fly, ere the shaft is on the string!
The fire that now is smouldering
Shall be the conflagration soon
 Whose paths are strewn
With torment of blanched lips and eyes
 That agonize.




After an Epigram of Clement Marot



The lad I was I longer now
Nor am nor shall be evermore.
Spring's lovely blossoms from my brow
Have shed their petals on the floor.
Thou, Love, hast been my lord, thy shrine
Above all gods' best served by me.
Dear Love, could life again be mine
How bettered should that service be!






Last Poems

   1916






The Aisne (1914-15)



We first saw fire on the tragic slopes
 Where the flood-tide of France's early gain,
Big with wrecked promise and abandoned hopes,
 Broke in a surf of blood along the Aisne.

The charge her heroes left us, we assumed,
 What, dying, they reconquered, we preserved,
In the chill trenches, harried, shelled, entombed,
 Winter came down on us, but no man swerved.

Winter came down on us.  The low clouds, torn
 In the stark branches of the riven pines,
Blurred the white rockets that from dusk till morn
 Traced the wide curve of the close-grappling lines.

In rain, and fog that on the withered hill
 Froze before dawn, the lurking foe drew down;
Or light snows fell that made forlorner still
 The ravaged country and the ruined town;

Or the long clouds would end.  Intensely fair,
 The winter constellations blazing forth --
Perseus, the Twins, Orion, the Great Bear --
 Gleamed on our bayonets pointing to the north.

And the lone sentinel would start and soar
 On wings of strong emotion as he knew
That kinship with the stars that only War
 Is great enough to lift man's spirit to.

And ever down the curving front, aglow
 With the pale rockets' intermittent light,
He heard, like distant thunder, growl and grow
 The rumble of far battles in the night, --

Rumors, reverberant, indistinct, remote,
 Borne from red fields whose martial names have won
The power to thrill like a far trumpet-note, --
 Vic, Vailly, Soupir, Hurtelise, Craonne . . .

Craonne, before thy cannon-swept plateau,
 Where like sere leaves lay strewn September's dead,
 I found for all dear things I forfeited
A recompense I would not now forego.

For that high fellowship was ours then
 With those who, championing another's good,
 More than dull Peace or its poor votaries could,
Taught us the dignity of being men.

There we drained deeper the deep cup of life,
 And on sublimer summits came to learn,
 After soft things, the terrible and stern,
After sweet Love, the majesty of Strife;

There where we faced under those frowning heights
 The blast that maims, the hurricane that kills;
 There where the watchlights on the winter hills
Flickered like balefire through inclement nights;

There where, firm links in the unyielding chain,
Where fell the long-planned blow and fell in vain --
 Hearts worthy of the honor and the trial,
We helped to hold the lines along the Aisne.




Champagne (1914-15)



In the glad revels, in the happy fetes,
 When cheeks are flushed, and glasses gilt and pearled
With the sweet wine of France that concentrates
 The sunshine and the beauty of the world,

Drink sometimes, you whose footsteps yet may tread
 The undisturbed, delightful paths of Earth,
To those whose blood, in pious duty shed,
 Hallows the soil where that same wine had birth.

Here, by devoted comrades laid away,
 Along our lines they slumber where they fell,
Beside the crater at the Ferme d'Alger
 And up the bloody slopes of La Pompelle,

And round the city whose cathedral towers
 The enemies of Beauty dared profane,
And in the mat of multicolored flowers
 That clothe the sunny chalk-fields of Champagne.

Under the little crosses where they rise
 The soldier rests.  Now round him undismayed
The cannon thunders, and at night he lies
 At peace beneath the eternal fusillade. . . .

That other generations might possess --
 From shame and menace free in years to come --
A richer heritage of happiness,
 He marched to that heroic martyrdom.

Esteeming less the forfeit that he paid
 Than undishonored that his flag might float
Over the towers of liberty, he made
 His breast the bulwark and his blood the moat.

Obscurely sacrificed, his nameless tomb,
 Bare of the sculptor's art, the poet's lines,
Summer shall flush with poppy-fields in bloom,
 And Autumn yellow with maturing vines.

There the grape-pickers at their harvesting
 Shall lightly tread and load their wicker trays,
Blessing his memory as they toil and sing
 In the slant sunshine of October days. . . .

I love to think that if my blood should be
 So privileged to sink where his has sunk,
I shall not pass from Earth entirely,
 But when the banquet rings, when healths are drunk,

And faces that the joys of living fill
 Glow radiant with laughter and good cheer,
In beaming cups some spark of me shall still
 Brim toward the lips that once I held so dear.

So shall one coveting no higher plane
 Than nature clothes in color and flesh and tone,
Even from the grave put upward to attain
 The dreams youth cherished and missed and might have known;

And that strong need that strove unsatisfied
 Toward earthly beauty in all forms it wore,
Not death itself shall utterly divide
 From the beloved shapes it thirsted for.

Alas, how many an adept for whose arms
 Life held delicious offerings perished here,
How many in the prime of all that charms,
 Crowned with all gifts that conquer and endear!

Honor them not so much with tears and flowers,
 But you with whom the sweet fulfilment lies,
Where in the anguish of atrocious hours
 Turned their last thoughts and closed their dying eyes,

Rather when music on bright gatherings lays
 Its tender spell, and joy is uppermost,
Be mindful of the men they were, and raise
 Your glasses to them in one silent toast.

Drink to them -- amorous of dear Earth as well,
 They asked no tribute lovelier than this --
And in the wine that ripened where they fell,
 Oh, frame your lips as though it were a kiss.

__
Champagne, France, July, 1915.




The Hosts



 Purged, with the life they left, of all
That makes life paltry and mean and small,
In their new dedication charged
With something heightened, enriched, enlarged,
That lends a light to their lusty brows
And a song to the rhythm of their tramping feet,
These are the men that have taken vows,
These are the hardy, the flower, the elite, --
These are the men that are moved no more
By the will to traffic and grasp and store
And ring with pleasure and wealth and love
The circles that self is the center of;
But they are moved by the powers that force
The sea forever to ebb and rise,
That hold Arcturus in his course,
And marshal at noon in tropic skies
The clouds that tower on some snow-capped chain
And drift out over the peopled plain.
They are big with the beauty of cosmic things.
Mark how their columns surge!  They seem
To follow the goddess with outspread wings
That points toward Glory, the soldier's dream.
With bayonets bare and flags unfurled,
They scale the summits of the world
And fade on the farthest golden height
In fair horizons full of light.

 Comrades in arms there -- friend or foe --
That trod the perilous, toilsome trail
Through a world of ruin and blood and woe
In the years of the great decision -- hail!
Friend or foe, it shall matter nought;
This only matters, in fine:  we fought.
For we were young and in love or strife
Sought exultation and craved excess:
To sound the wildest debauch in life
We staked our youth and its loveliness.
Let idlers argue the right and wrong
And weigh what merit our causes had.
Putting our faith in being strong --
Above the level of good and bad --
For us, we battled and burned and killed
Because evolving Nature willed,
And it was our pride and boast to be
The instruments of Destiny.
There was a stately drama writ
By the hand that peopled the earth and air
And set the stars in the infinite
And made night gorgeous and morning fair,
And all that had sense to reason knew
That bloody drama must be gone through.
Some sat and watched how the action veered --
Waited, profited, trembled, cheered --
We saw not clearly nor understood,
But yielding ourselves to the masterhand,
Each in his part as best he could,
We played it through as the author planned.




Maktoob



A shell surprised our post one day
 And killed a comrade at my side.
My heart was sick to see the way
   He suffered as he died.

I dug about the place he fell,
 And found, no bigger than my thumb,
A fragment of the splintered shell
   In warm aluminum.

I melted it, and made a mould,
 And poured it in the opening,
And worked it, when the cast was cold,
   Into a shapely ring.

And when my ring was smooth and bright,
 Holding it on a rounded stick,
For seal, I bade a Turco write
   `Maktoob' in Arabic.

`Maktoob!'  "'Tis written!" . . .  So they think,
 These children of the desert, who
From its immense expanses drink
   Some of its grandeur too.

Within the book of Destiny,
 Whose leaves are time, whose cover, space,
The day when you shall cease to be,
   The hour, the mode, the place,

Are marked, they say; and you shall not
 By taking thought or using wit
Alter that certain fate one jot,
   Postpone or conjure it.

Learn to drive fear, then, from your heart.
 If you must perish, know, O man,
'Tis an inevitable part
   Of the predestined plan.

And, seeing that through the ebon door
 Once only you may pass, and meet
Of those that have gone through before
   The mighty, the elite ----

Guard that not bowed nor blanched with fear
 You enter, but serene, erect,
As you would wish most to appear
   To those you most respect.

So die as though your funeral
 Ushered you through the doors that led
Into a stately banquet hall
   Where heroes banqueted;

And it shall all depend therein
 Whether you come as slave or lord,
If they acclaim you as their kin
   Or spurn you from their board.

So, when the order comes:  "Attack!"
 And the assaulting wave deploys,
And the heart trembles to look back
   On life and all its joys;

Or in a ditch that they seem near
 To find, and round your shallow trough
Drop the big shells that you can hear
   Coming a half mile off;

When, not to hear, some try to talk,
 And some to clean their guns, or sing,
And some dig deeper in the chalk --
   I look upon my ring:

And nerves relax that were most tense,
 And Death comes whistling down unheard,
As I consider all the sense
   Held in that mystic word.

And it brings, quieting like balm
 My heart whose flutterings have ceased,
The resignation and the calm
   And wisdom of the East.




I Have a Rendezvous with Death . . .



 I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air --
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

 It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath --
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

 God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear . . .
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.





Sonnets:




  - Sonnet I -



Sidney, in whom the heyday of romance
Came to its precious and most perfect flower,
Whether you tourneyed with victorious lance
Or brought sweet roundelays to Stella's bower,
I give myself some credit for the way
I have kept clean of what enslaves and lowers,
Shunned the ideals of our present day
And studied those that were esteemed in yours;
For, turning from the mob that buys Success
By sacrificing all Life's better part,
Down the free roads of human happiness
I frolicked, poor of purse but light of heart,
And lived in strict devotion all along
To my three idols -- Love and Arms and Song.




  - Sonnet II -



Not that I always struck the proper mean
Of what mankind must give for what they gain,
But, when I think of those whom dull routine
And the pursuit of cheerless toil enchain,
Who from their desk-chairs seeing a summer cloud
Race through blue heaven on its joyful course
Sigh sometimes for a life less cramped and bowed,
I think I might have done a great deal worse;
For I have ever gone untied and free,
The stars and my high thoughts for company;
Wet with the salt-spray and the mountain showers,
I have had the sense of space and amplitude,
And love in many places, silver-shoed,
Has come and scattered all my path with flowers.




  - Sonnet III -



Why should you be astonished that my heart,
Plunged for so long in darkness and in dearth,
Should be revived by you, and stir and start
As by warm April now, reviving Earth?
I am the field of undulating grass
And you the gentle perfumed breath of Spring,
And all my lyric being, when you pass,
Is bowed and filled with sudden murmuring.
I asked you nothing and expected less,
But, with that deep, impassioned tenderness
Of one approaching what he most adores,
I only wished to lose a little space
All thought of my own life, and in its place
To live and dream and have my joy in yours.




  - Sonnet IV -

To . . . in church



If I was drawn here from a distant place,
'Twas not to pray nor hear our friend's address,
But, gazing once more on your winsome face,
To worship there Ideal Loveliness.
On that pure shrine that has too long ignored
The gifts that once I brought so frequently
I lay this votive offering, to record
How sweet your quiet beauty seemed to me.
Enchanting girl, my faith is not a thing
By futile prayers and vapid psalm-singing
To vent in crowded nave and public pew.
My creed is simple:  that the world is fair,
And beauty the best thing to worship there,
And I confess it by adoring you.

__
Biarritz, Sunday, March 26, 1916.




  - Sonnet V -



Seeing you have not come with me, nor spent
This day's suggestive beauty as we ought,
I have gone forth alone and been content
To make you mistress only of my thought.
And I have blessed the fate that was so kind
In my life's agitations to include
This moment's refuge where my sense can find
Refreshment, and my soul beatitude.
Oh, be my gentle love a little while!
Walk with me sometimes.  Let me see you smile.
Watching some night under a wintry sky,
Before the charge, or on the bed of pain,
These blessed memories shall revive again
And be a power to cheer and fortify.




  - Sonnet VI -



Oh, you are more desirable to me
Than all I staked in an impulsive hour,
Making my youth the sport of chance, to be
Blighted or torn in its most perfect flower;
For I think less of what that chance may bring
Than how, before returning into fire,
To make my dearest memory of the thing
That is but now my ultimate desire.
And in old times I should have prayed to her
Whose haunt the groves of windy Cyprus were,
To prosper me and crown with good success
My will to make of you the rose-twined bowl
From whose inebriating brim my soul
Shall drink its last of earthly happiness.




  - Sonnet VII -



There have been times when I could storm and plead,
But you shall never hear me supplicate.
These long months that have magnified my need
Have made my asking less importunate,
For now small favors seem to me so great
That not the courteous lovers of old time
Were more content to rule themselves and wait,
Easing desire with discourse and sweet rhyme.
Nay, be capricious, willful; have no fear
To wound me with unkindness done or said,
Lest mutual devotion make too dear
My life that hangs by a so slender thread,
And happy love unnerve me before May
For that stern part that I have yet to play.




  - Sonnet VIII -



Oh, love of woman, you are known to be
A passion sent to plague the hearts of men;
For every one you bring felicity
Bringing rebuffs and wretchedness to ten.
I have been oft where human life sold cheap
And seen men's brains spilled out about their ears
And yet that never cost me any sleep;
I lived untroubled and I shed no tears.
Fools prate how war is an atrocious thing;
I always knew that nothing it implied
Equalled the agony of suffering
Of him who loves and loves unsatisfied.
War is a refuge to a heart like this;
Love only tells it what true torture is.




  - Sonnet IX -



Well, seeing I have no hope, then let us part;
Having long taught my flesh to master fear,
I should have learned by now to rule my heart,
Although, Heaven knows, 'tis not so easy near.
Oh, you were made to make men miserable
And torture those who would have joy in you,
But I, who could have loved you, dear, so well,
Take pride in being a good loser too;
And it has not been wholly unsuccess,
For I have rescued from forgetfulness
Some moments of this precious time that flies,
Adding to my past wealth of memory
The pretty way you once looked up at me,
Your low, sweet voice, your smile, and your dear eyes.




  - Sonnet X -



I have sought Happiness, but it has been
A lovely rainbow, baffling all pursuit,
And tasted Pleasure, but it was a fruit
More fair of outward hue than sweet within.
Renouncing both, a flake in the ferment
Of battling hosts that conquer or recoil,
There only, chastened by fatigue and toil,
I knew what came the nearest to content.
For there at least my troubled flesh was free
From the gadfly Desire that plagued it so;
Discord and Strife were what I used to know,
Heartaches, deception, murderous jealousy;
By War transported far from all of these,
Amid the clash of arms I was at peace.




  - Sonnet XI -

On Returning to the Front after Leave



Apart sweet women (for whom Heaven be blessed),
Comrades, you cannot think how thin and blue
Look the leftovers of mankind that rest,
Now that the cream has been skimmed off in you.
War has its horrors, but has this of good --
That its sure processes sort out and bind
Brave hearts in one intrepid brotherhood
And leave the shams and imbeciles behind.
Now turn we joyful to the great attacks,
Not only that we face in a fair field
Our valiant foe and all his deadly tools,
But also that we turn disdainful backs
On that poor world we scorn yet die to shield --
That world of cowards, hypocrites, and fools.




  - Sonnet XII -



Clouds rosy-tinted in the setting sun,
Depths of the azure eastern sky between,
Plains where the poplar-bordered highways run,
Patched with a hundred tints of brown and green, --
Beauty of Earth, when in thy harmonies
The cannon's note has ceased to be a part,
I shall return once more and bring to these
The worship of an undivided heart.
Of those sweet potentialities that wait
For my heart's deep desire to fecundate
I shall resume the search, if Fortune grants;
And the great cities of the world shall yet
Be golden frames for me in which to set
New masterpieces of more rare romance.




Bellinglise



    I


Deep in the sloping forest that surrounds
The head of a green valley that I know,
Spread the fair gardens and ancestral grounds
Of Bellinglise, the beautiful chateau.
Through shady groves and fields of unmown grass,
It was my joy to come at dusk and see,
Filling a little pond's untroubled glass,
Its antique towers and mouldering masonry.
Oh, should I fall to-morrow, lay me here,
That o'er my tomb, with each reviving year,
Wood-flowers may blossom and the wood-doves croon;
And lovers by that unrecorded place,
Passing, may pause, and cling a little space,
Close-bosomed, at the rising of the moon.



    II


Here, where in happier times the huntsman's horn
Echoing from far made sweet midsummer eves,
Now serried cannon thunder night and morn,
Tearing with iron the greenwood's tender leaves.
Yet has sweet Spring no particle withdrawn
Of her old bounty; still the song-birds hail,
Even through our fusillade, delightful Dawn;
Even in our wire bloom lilies of the vale.
You who love flowers, take these; their fragile bells
Have trembled with the shock of volleyed shells,
And in black nights when stealthy foes advance
They have been lit by the pale rockets' glow
That o'er scarred fields and ancient towns laid low
Trace in white fire the brave frontiers of France.

__
May 22, 1916.




Liebestod



I who, conceived beneath another star,
Had been a prince and played with life, instead
Have been its slave, an outcast exiled far
From the fair things my faith has merited.
My ways have been the ways that wanderers tread
And those that make romance of poverty --
Soldier, I shared the soldier's board and bed,
And Joy has been a thing more oft to me
Whispered by summer wind and summer sea
Than known incarnate in the hours it lies
All warm against our hearts and laughs into our eyes.

I know not if in risking my best days
I shall leave utterly behind me here
This dream that lightened me through lonesome ways
And that no disappointment made less dear;
Sometimes I think that, where the hilltops rear
Their white entrenchments back of tangled wire,
Behind the mist Death only can make clear,
There, like Brunhilde ringed with flaming fire,
Lies what shall ease my heart's immense desire:
There, where beyond the horror and the pain
Only the brave shall pass, only the strong attain.

Truth or delusion, be it as it may,
Yet think it true, dear friends, for, thinking so,
That thought shall nerve our sinews on the day
When to the last assault our bugles blow:
Reckless of pain and peril we shall go,
Heads high and hearts aflame and bayonets bare,
And we shall brave eternity as though
Eyes looked on us in which we would seem fair --
One waited in whose presence we would wear,
Even as a lover who would be well-seen,
Our manhood faultless and our honor clean.




Resurgam



Exiled afar from youth and happy love,
 If Death should ravish my fond spirit hence
I have no doubt but, like a homing dove,
 It would return to its dear residence,
And through a thousand stars find out the road
Back into earthly flesh that was its loved abode.




A Message to America



 You have the grit and the guts, I know;
You are ready to answer blow for blow
You are virile, combative, stubborn, hard,
But your honor ends with your own back-yard;
Each man intent on his private goal,
You have no feeling for the whole;
What singly none would tolerate
You let unpunished hit the state,
Unmindful that each man must share
The stain he lets his country wear,
And (what no traveller ignores)
That her good name is often yours.

 You are proud in the pride that feels its might;
From your imaginary height
Men of another race or hue
Are men of a lesser breed to you:
The neighbor at your southern gate
You treat with the scorn that has bred his hate.
To lend a spice to your disrespect
You call him the "greaser".  But reflect!
The greaser has spat on you more than once;
He has handed you multiple affronts;
He has robbed you, banished you, burned and killed;
He has gone untrounced for the blood he spilled;
He has jeering used for his bootblack's rag
The stars and stripes of the gringo's flag;
And you, in the depths of your easy-chair --
What did you do, what did you care?
Did you find the season too cold and damp
To change the counter for the camp?
Were you frightened by fevers in Mexico?
I can't imagine, but this I know --
You are impassioned vastly more
By the news of the daily baseball score
Than to hear that a dozen countrymen
Have perished somewhere in Darien,
That greasers have taken their innocent lives
And robbed their holdings and raped their wives.

 Not by rough tongues and ready fists
Can you hope to jilt in the modern lists.
The armies of a littler folk
Shall pass you under the victor's yoke,
Sobeit a nation that trains her sons
To ride their horses and point their guns --
Sobeit a people that comprehends
The limit where private pleasure ends
And where their public dues begin,
A people made strong by discipline
Who are willing to give -- what you've no mind to --
And understand -- what you are blind to --
The things that the individual
Must sacrifice for the good of all.

 You have a leader who knows -- the man
Most fit to be called American,
A prophet that once in generations
Is given to point to erring nations
Brighter ideals toward which to press
And lead them out of the wilderness.
Will you turn your back on him once again?
Will you give the tiller once more to men
Who have made your country the laughing-stock
For the older peoples to scorn and mock,
Who would make you servile, despised, and weak,
A country that turns the other cheek,
Who care not how bravely your flag may float,
Who answer an insult with a note,
Whose way is the easy way in all,
And, seeing that polished arms appal
Their marrow of milk-fed pacifist,
Would tell you menace does not exist?
Are these, in the world's great parliament,
The men you would choose to represent
Your honor, your manhood, and your pride,
And the virtues your fathers dignified?
Oh, bury them deeper than the sea
In universal obloquy;
Forget the ground where they lie, or write
For epitaph:  "Too proud to fight."

 I have been too long from my country's shores
To reckon what state of mind is yours,
But as for myself I know right well
I would go through fire and shot and shell
And face new perils and make my bed
In new privations, if ROOSEVELT led;
But I have given my heart and hand
To serve, in serving another land,
Ideals kept bright that with you are dim;
Here men can thrill to their country's hymn,
For the passion that wells in the Marseillaise
Is the same that fires the French these days,
And, when the flag that they love goes by,
With swelling bosom and moistened eye
They can look, for they know that it floats there still
By the might of their hands and the strength of their will,
And through perils countless and trials unknown
Its honor each man has made his own.
They wanted the war no more than you,
But they saw how the certain menace grew,
And they gave two years of their youth or three
The more to insure their liberty
When the wrath of rifles and pennoned spears
Should roll like a flood on their wrecked frontiers.
They wanted the war no more than you,
But when the dreadful summons blew
And the time to settle the quarrel came
They sprang to their guns, each man was game;
And mark if they fight not to the last
For their hearths, their altars, and their past:
Yea, fight till their veins have been bled dry
For love of the country that WILL not die.

 O friends, in your fortunate present ease
(Yet faced by the self-same facts as these),
If you would see how a race can soar
That has no love, but no fear, of war,
How each can turn from his private role
That all may act as a perfect whole,
How men can live up to the place they claim
And a nation, jealous of its good name,
Be true to its proud inheritance,
Oh, look over here and learn from FRANCE!




Introduction and Conclusion of a Long Poem



 I have gone sometimes by the gates of Death
And stood beside the cavern through whose doors
Enter the voyagers into the unseen.
From that dread threshold only, gazing back,
Have eyes in swift illumination seen
Life utterly revealed, and guessed therein
What things were vital and what things were vain.
Know then, like a vast ocean from my feet
Spreading away into the morning sky,
I saw unrolled my vanished days, and, lo,
Oblivion like a morning mist obscured
Toils, trials, ambitions, agitations, ease,
And like green isles, sun-kissed, with sweet perfume
Loading the airs blown back from that dim gulf,
Gleamed only through the all-involving haze
The hours when we have loved and been beloved.

 Therefore, sweet friends, as often as by Love
You rise absorbed into the harmony
Of planets singing round magnetic suns,
Let not propriety nor prejudice
Nor the precepts of jealous age deny
What Sense so incontestably affirms;
Cling to the blessed moment and drink deep
Of the sweet cup it tends, as there alone
Were that which makes life worth the pain to live.
What is so fair as lovers in their joy
That dies in sleep, their sleep that wakes in joy?
Caressing arms are their light pillows.  They
That like lost stars have wandered hitherto
Lonesome and lightless through the universe,
Now glow transfired at Nature's flaming core;
They are the centre; constellated heaven
Is the embroidered panoply spread round
Their bridal, and the music of the spheres
Rocks them in hushed epithalamium.

     .    .    .    .    .

 I know that there are those whose idle tongues
Blaspheme the beauty of the world that was
So wondrous and so worshipful to me.
I call them those that, in the palace where
Down perfumed halls the Sleeping Beauty lay,
Wandered without the secret or the key.
I know that there are those, of gentler heart,
Broken by grief or by deception bowed,
Who in some realm beyond the grave conceive
The bliss they found not here; but, as for me,
In the soft fibres of the tender flesh
I saw potentialities of Joy
Ten thousand lifetimes could not use.  Dear Earth,
In this dark month when deep as morning dew
On thy maternal breast shall fall the blood
Of those that were thy loveliest and thy best,
If it be fate that mine shall mix with theirs,
Hear this my natural prayer, for, purified
By that Lethean agony and clad
In more resplendent powers, I ask nought else
Than reincarnate to retrace my path,
Be born again of woman, walk once more
Through Childhood's fragrant, flowery wonderland
And, entered in the golden realm of Youth,
Fare still a pilgrim toward the copious joys
I savored here yet scarce began to sip;
Yea, with the comrades that I loved so well
Resume the banquet we had scarce begun
When in the street we heard the clarion-call
And each man sprang to arms -- ay, even myself
Who loved sweet Youth too truly not to share
Its pain no less than its delight.  If prayers
Are to be prayed, lo, here is mine!  Be this
My resurrection, this my recompense!




Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France

(To have been read before the statue of Lafayette and Washington in Paris,
on Decoration Day, May 30, 1916.)



  I

Ay, it is fitting on this holiday,
Commemorative of our soldier dead,
When -- with sweet flowers of our New England May
Hiding the lichened stones by fifty years made gray --
Their graves in every town are garlanded,
That pious tribute should be given too
To our intrepid few
Obscurely fallen here beyond the seas.
Those to preserve their country's greatness died;
But by the death of these
Something that we can look upon with pride
Has been achieved, nor wholly unreplied
Can sneerers triumph in the charge they make
That from a war where Freedom was at stake
America withheld and, daunted, stood aside.


  II

Be they remembered here with each reviving spring,
Not only that in May, when life is loveliest,
Around Neuville-Saint-Vaast and the disputed crest
Of Vimy, they, superb, unfaltering,
In that fine onslaught that no fire could halt,
Parted impetuous to their first assault;
But that they brought fresh hearts and springlike too
To that high mission, and 'tis meet to strew
With twigs of lilac and spring's earliest rose
The cenotaph of those
Who in the cause that history most endears
Fell in the sunny morn and flower of their young years.


  III

Yet sought they neither recompense nor praise,
Nor to be mentioned in another breath
Than their blue coated comrades whose great days
It was their pride to share -- ay, share even to the death!
Nay, rather, France, to you they rendered thanks
(Seeing they came for honor, not for gain),
Who, opening to them your glorious ranks,
Gave them that grand occasion to excel,
That chance to live the life most free from stain
And that rare privilege of dying well.


  IV

O friends!  I know not since that war began
From which no people nobly stands aloof
If in all moments we have given proof
Of virtues that were thought American.
I know not if in all things done and said
All has been well and good,
Or if each one of us can hold his head
As proudly as he should,
Or, from the pattern of those mighty dead
Whose shades our country venerates to-day,
If we've not somewhat fallen and somewhat gone astray.
But you to whom our land's good name is dear,
If there be any here
Who wonder if her manhood be decreased,
Relaxed its sinews and its blood less red
Than that at Shiloh and Antietam shed,
Be proud of these, have joy in this at least,
And cry:  "Now heaven be praised
That in that hour that most imperilled her,
Menaced her liberty who foremost raised
Europe's bright flag of freedom, some there were
Who, not unmindful of the antique debt,
Came back the generous path of Lafayette;
And when of a most formidable foe
She checked each onset, arduous to stem --
Foiled and frustrated them --
On those red fields where blow with furious blow
Was countered, whether the gigantic fray
Rolled by the Meuse or at the Bois Sabot,
Accents of ours were in the fierce melee;
And on those furthest rims of hallowed ground
Where the forlorn, the gallant charge expires,
When the slain bugler has long ceased to sound,
And on the tangled wires
The last wild rally staggers, crumbles, stops,
Withered beneath the shrapnel's iron showers: --
Now heaven be thanked, we gave a few brave drops;
Now heaven be thanked, a few brave drops were ours."


  V

There, holding still, in frozen steadfastness,
Their bayonets toward the beckoning frontiers,
They lie -- our comrades -- lie among their peers,
Clad in the glory of fallen warriors,
Grim clusters under thorny trellises,
Dry, furthest foam upon disastrous shores,
Leaves that made last year beautiful, still strewn
Even as they fell, unchanged, beneath the changing moon;
And earth in her divine indifference
Rolls on, and many paltry things and mean
Prate to be heard and caper to be seen.
But they are silent, calm; their eloquence
Is that incomparable attitude;
No human presences their witness are,
But summer clouds and sunset crimson-hued,
And showers and night winds and the northern star.
Nay, even our salutations seem profane,
Opposed to their Elysian quietude;
Our salutations calling from afar,
From our ignobler plane
And undistinction of our lesser parts:
Hail, brothers, and farewell; you are twice blest, brave hearts.
Double your glory is who perished thus,
For you have died for France and vindicated us.






[End of original text.]




Appendix:  ASCII to Greek Character Map



A,a    alpha
B,b    beta
G,g    gamma
D,d    delta
E,e    epsilon
Z,z    zeta
H,h    eta
Q,q    theta
I,i    iota
K,k    kappa
L,l    lambda
M,m    mi/mu
N,n    ni/nu
J,j    ksi/xi
O,o    omikron/omicron
P,p    pi
R,r    rho
S,s,c  sigma
T,t    tau
U,u    ypsilon/upsilon
F,f    phi
X,x    chi/khi
Y,y    psi
W,w    omega

The ASCII character | (pipe) precedes the following symbols:  '`/\^
to mark accents in Greek.  These in turn Precede the vowel they refer to.




Appendix:  Corrections made to original text.



The following corrections have been made:

In "The Deserted Garden", `Down beechen allies' has been corrected
  to read `Down beechen alleys', as the former is more than doubtful.

One occurrence each of "bazar" and "twelve-month" have been corrected
  to read "bazaar" and "twelvemonth", to be consistent
  both with other mentions in the text, and with the most common usage.





End of this Project Gutenberg Etext of Poems by Alan Seeger


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