Harp of New England song, That even in slumber tremblest with the touch Of poets who like the four winds from thee waken All harmonies that to thy strings belong,— Say, wilt thou blame the younger hands too much Which from thy laurelled resting-place have taken Thee, crowned-one, in their hold? There is a name Should quicken thee! No carol Hawthorne sang, Yet his articulate spirit, like thine own, Made answer, quick as flame, To each breath of the shore from which he sprang, And prose like his was poesy's high tone. By measureless degrees Star follows star throughout the rounded night. Far off his path began, yet reached the near Sweet influences of the Pleiades,— A portion and a sharer of the light That shall so long outlast each burning sphere. Beneath the shade and whisper of the pines Two youths were fostered in the Norseland air; One found an eagle's plume, and one the wand Wherewith a seer divines: Now but the Minstrel lingers of that pair,— The rod has fallen from the mage's hand. Gray on thy mountain height, More fair than wonderland beside thy streams, Thou with the splendors twain of youth and age, This was the son who read thy heart aright, Of whom thou wast beholden in his dreams,— The one New-Englander! Upon whose page Thine offspring still are animate, and move Adown thy paths, a quaint and stately throng: Grave men of God who made the olden law, Fair maidens, meet for love,— All living types that to the coast belong Since Carver from the prow thy headland saw. What should the master be Who to the world New-England's self must render, Her best interpreter, her very own? How spake the brooding Mother, strong and tender, Back-looking through her youth betwixt the moan Of forests and the murmur of the sea? "Thou too," she said, "must first be set aside To keep my ancient vigil for a space,— Taught by repression, by the combating With thine own pride of pride, An unknown watcher in a lonely place With none on whom thine utterance to fling." But first of all she fed Her heart's own favorite upon the store Of precious things she treasures in her woods, Of charm and story in her valleys spread. For him her whispering winds and brooks that pour Made ceaseless music in the solitudes; The manifold bright surges of her deep Gave him their light. Within her voice's call She lured him on, by roadways overhung With elms, that he might keep Remembrance of her legends as they fall Her shaded walks and gabled roofs among. Within the mists she drew, Anon, his silent footsteps, as her own Were led of old, until he came to be An eremite, whose life the desert knew, And gained companionship in dreams alone. The world, it seemed, had naught for such as he,— For one who in his heart's deep wilderness Shrunk darkling, and, whatever wind might blow, Found no quick use for potent hands and fain, No chance that might express To humankind the thoughts which moved him so. O, deem not those long years were quite in vain! For his was the brave soul Which, touched with fire, dwells not on whatsoever Its outer senses hold in their intent, But, sleepless even in sleep, must gather toll Of dreams which pass like barks upon the river And make each vision Beauty's instrument; That from its own love Love's delight can tell, And from its own grief guess the shrouded Sorrow; From its own joyousness of Joy can sing; That can predict so well From its own dawn the lustre of to-morrow, The whole flight from the flutter of the wing. And his the gift which sees A revelation and a tropic sign In the lone passion-flower, and can discover The likeness of the far Antipodes, Though but a leaf is stranded from the brine; His the fine spirit which is so true a lover Of sovran Art, that all the becks of life Allure it not until the work be wrought. Nay, though the shout and smoke of combat rose, He, through the changeful strife, Eternal loveliness more closely sought, And Beauty's changeless law and sure repose. Was it not well that one— One, if no more—should meditate aloof, Though not for naught the time's heroic quarrel, From what men rush to do and what is done. He little knew to join the web and woof Whereof slow Progress weaves her rich apparel, But toward the Past half longing turned his head. His deft hand dallied with its common share Of human toil, nor sought new loads to lift But held itself, instead, All consecrate to uses that make fair, By right divine of his mysterious gift. How should the world discern The artist's self, save through the fine creation Of his rare moment? How, but from his song, The unfettered spirit of the minstrel learn? Yet on this one the stars had set the station Which to the chief romancer should belong: Child of the Beautiful! whose regnant brow She made her canopy, and from his eyes Looked outward with a steadfast purple gleam. Who saw him marvelled how The soul of that impassioned ray could lie So calm beyond,—unspoken all its dream. What sibyl to him bore The secret oracles that move and haunt? At night's dread noon he scanned the enchanted glass, Ay, and himself the warlock's mantle wore, Nor to the thronging phantoms said Avaunt, But waved his rod and bade them rise and pass; Till thus he drew the lineaments of men Who fought the old colonial battles three, Who with the lustihood of Nature warred And made her docile,—then Wrestled with Terror and with Tyranny, Twin wardens of the scaffold and the sword. He drew his native land, The few and rude plantations of her Past, Fringed by the beaches of her sounding shore; Her children, as he drew them, there they stand; There, too, her Present, with an outline cast Still from the shape those other centuries wore. Betimes the orchards and the clover-fields Change into woods o'ershadowing a host That winds along the Massachusetts Path; The sword of Standish shields The Plymouth band, and where the lewd ones boast Stern Endicott pours out his godly wrath. Within the Province House The ancient governors hold their broidered state,— Still gleam the lights, the shadows come and go; Here once again the powdered guests carouse, The masquerade lasts on, the night is late. Thrice waves a mist-invoking wand, and lo, What troubled sights! What summit bald and steep Where stands a ladder 'gainst the accursed tree? What dark processions thither slowly climb? Anon, what lost ones keep Their midnight tryst with forms that evil be, Around the witch-fire in the forest grim! Clearly the master's plan Revealed his people, even as they were, The prayerful elder and the winsome maid, The errant roisterer, the Puritan, Dark Pyncheon, mournful Hester,—all are there. But none save he in our own time so laid His summons on man's spirit; none but he, Whether the light thereof were clear or clouded, Thus on his canvas fixed the human soul, The thoughts of mystery, In deep hearts by this mortal guise enshrouded, Wild hearts that like the church-bells ring and toll. Two natures in him strove Like day with night, his sunshine and his gloom. To him the stern forefathers' creed descended, The weight of some inexorable Jove Prejudging from the cradle to the tomb; But therewithal the lightsome laughter blended Of that Arcadian sweetness undismayed Which finds in Love its law, and graces still The rood, the penitential symbol worn,— Which sees, beyond the shade, The Naiad nymph of every rippling rill, And hears quick Fancy wind her wilful horn. What if he brooded long On Time and Fate,—the ominous progression Of years that with Man's retributions frown,— The destinies which round his footsteps throng,— Justice, that heeds not Mercy's intercession,— Crime, on its own head calling vengeance down,— Deaf Chance and blind, that, like the mountain-slide Puts out Youth's heart of fire and all is dark! What though the blemish which, in aught of earth, The maker's hand defied, Was plain to him,—the one evasive mark Wherewith Death stamps us for his own at birth! Ah, none the less we know He felt the imperceptible fine thrill With which the waves of being palpitate, Whether in ecstasy of joy or woe, And saw the strong divinity of Will Bringing to halt the stolid tramp of Fate; Nor from his work was ever absent quite The presence which, o'ercast it as we may, Things far beyond our reason can suggest: There was a drifting light In Donatello's cell,—a fitful ray Of sunshine came to hapless Clifford's breast. Into such blossom brake Our northern hedge, that neither mortal sadness Nor the drear thought of lives that strive and fail, Nor any hues its sombre leaves might take From clouded skies, could overcome its gladness Or in the blessing of its shade prevail. Fresh sprays it yielded them of Merry Mount For wedding wreaths; blithe Phœbe with the sweet Pure flowers her promise to her lover gave: Beside it, from a fount Where Pearl and Pansie plashed their innocent feet, A brook ran on and kissed Zenobia's grave. Silent and dark the spell Laid on New England by the frozen North; Long, long the months,—and yet the Winter ends, The snow-wraiths vanish, and rejoicing well The dandelions from the grass leap forth, And Spring through budding birch and willow sends Her wind of Paradise. And there are left Poets to sing of all, and welcome still The robin's voice, the humble-bee's wise drone; Nor are we yet bereft Of one whose sagas ever at his will Can answer back the ocean, tone for tone. But he whose quickened eye Saw through New England's life her inmost spirit,— Her heart, and all the stays on which it leant,— Returns not, since he laid the pencil by Whose mystic touch none other shall inherit! What though its work unfinished lies? Half-bent The rainbow's arch fades out in upper air; The shining cataract half-way down the height Breaks into mist; the haunting strain, that fell On listeners unaware, Ends incomplete, but through the starry night The ear still waits for what it did not tell.
Edmund Clarence Stedman’s other poems:
Poems of other poets with the same name (Стихотворения других поэтов с таким же названием):
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