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Best Famous Bliss Carman Poems

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12
Written by Bliss Carman | Create an image from this poem

On Love

 TO the assembled folk 
At great St.
Kavin’s spoke Young Brother Amiel on Christmas Eve; I give you joy, my friends, That as the round year ends, We meet once more for gladness by God’s leave.
On other festal days For penitence or praise Or prayer we meet, or fullness of thanksgiving; To-night we calendar The rising of that star Which lit the old world with new joy of living.
Ah, we disparage still The Tidings of Good Will, Discrediting Love’s gospel now as then! And with the verbal creed That God is love indeed, Who dares make Love his god before all men? Shall we not, therefore, friends, Resolve to make amends To that glad inspiration of the heart; To grudge not, to cast out Selfishness, malice, doubt, Anger and fear; and for the better part, To love so much, so well, The spirit cannot tell The range and sweep of her own boundary! There is no period Between the soul and God; Love is the tide, God the eternal sea.
… To-day we walk by love; To strive is not enough, Save against greed and ignorance and might.
We apprehend peace comes Not with the roll of drums, But in the still processions of the night.
And we perceive, not awe But love is the great law That binds the world together safe and whole.
The splendid planets run Their courses in the sun; Love is the gravitation of the soul.
In the profound unknown, Illumined, fair, and lone, Each star is set to shimmer in its place.
In the profound divine Each soul is set to shine, And its unique appointed orbit trace.
There is no near nor far, Where glorious Algebar Swings round his mighty circuit through the night, Yet where without a sound The winged seed comes to ground, And the red leaf seems hardly to alight.
One force, one lore, one need For satellite and seed, In the serene benignity for all.
Letting her time-glass run With star-dust, sun by sun, In Nature’s thought there is no great nor small.
There is no far nor near Within the spirit’s sphere.
The summer sunset’s scarlet-yellow wings Are tinged with the same dye That paints the tulip’s ply.
And what is colour but the soul of things? (The earth was without form; God moulded it with storm, Ice, flood, and tempest, gleaming tint and hue; Lest it should come to ill For lack of spirit still, He gave it colour,—let the love shine through.
)… Of old, men said, ‘Sin not; By every line and jot Ye shall abide; man’s heart is false and vile.
’ Christ said, ‘By love alone In man’s heart is God known; Obey the word no falsehood can defile.
’… And since that day we prove Only how great is love, Nor to this hour its greatness half believe.
For to what other power Will life give equal dower, Or chaos grant one moment of reprieve! Look down the ages’ line, Where slowly the divine Evinces energy, puts forth control; See mighty love alone Transmuting stock and stone, Infusing being, helping sense and soul.
And what is energy, In-working, which bids be The starry pageant and the life of earth? What is the genesis Of every joy and bliss, Each action dared, each beauty brought to birth? What hangs the sun on high? What swells the growing rye? What bids the loons cry on the Northern lake? What stirs in swamp and swale, When April winds prevail, And all the dwellers of the ground awake?… What lurks in the deep gaze Of the old wolf? Amaze, Hope, recognition, gladness, anger, fear.
But deeper than all these Love muses, yearns, and sees, And is the self that does not change nor veer.
Not love of self alone, Struggle for lair and bone, But self-denying love of mate and young, Love that is kind and wise, Knows trust and sacrifice, And croons the old dark universal tongue.
… And who has understood Our brothers of the wood, Save he who puts off guile and every guise Of violence,—made truce With panther, bear, and moose, As beings like ourselves whom love makes wise? For they, too, do love’s will, Our lesser clansmen still; The House of Many Mansions holds us all; Courageous, glad and hale, They go forth on the trail, Hearing the message, hearkening to the call.
… Open the door to-night Within your heart, and light The lantern of love there to shine afar.
On a tumultuous sea Some straining craft, maybe, With bearings lost, shall sight love’s silver star.
Written by Bliss Carman | Create an image from this poem

The Winter Scene

 I
The rutted roads are all like iron; skies
Are keen and brilliant; only the oak-leaves cling
In the bare woods, or the hardy bitter-sweet;
Drivers have put their sheepskin jackets on;
And all the ponds are sealed with sheeted ice
That rings with stroke of skate and hockey-stick,
Or in the twilight cracks with running whoop.
Bring in the logs of oak and hickory, And make an ample blaze on the wide hearth.
Now is the time, with winter o'er the world, For books and friends and yellow candle-light, And timeless lingering by the settling fire.
While all the shuddering stars are keen with cold.
II Out from the silent portal of the hours, When frosts are come and all the hosts put on.
Their burnished gear to march across the night And o'er a darkened earth in splendor shine, Slowly above the world Orion wheels His glittering square, while on the shadowy hill And throbbing like a sea-light through the dusk, Great Sirius rises in his flashing blue.
Lord of the winter night, august and pure, Returning year on year untouched by time, To hearten faith with thine unfaltering fire, There are no hurts that beauty cannot ease, No ills that love cannot at last repair, In the victorious progress of the soul.
III Russet and white and gray is the oak wood In the great snow.
Still from the North it comes, Whispering, settling, sifting through the trees, O'erloading branch and twig.
The road is lost.
Clearing and meadow, stream and ice-bound pond Are made once more a trackless wilderness In the white hush where not a creature stirs; And the pale sun is blotted from the sky.
In that strange twilight the lone traveller halts To listen to the stealthy snowflakes fall.
And then far off toward the Stamford shore, Where through the storm the coastwise liners go, Faint and recurrent on the muffled air, A foghorn booming through the Smother--hark! IV When the day changed and the mad wind died down, The powdery drifts that all day long had blown Across the meadows and the open fields, Or whirled like diamond dust in the bright sun, Settled to rest, and for a tranquil hour The lengthening bluish shadows on the snow Stole down the orchard slope, and a rose light Flooded the earth with beauty and with peace.
Then in the west behind the cedars black The sinking sun stained red the winter dusk With sullen flare upon the snowy ridge,-- As in a masterpiece by Hokusai, Where on a background gray, with flaming breath A scarlet dragon dies in dusky gold.
Written by Bliss Carman | Create an image from this poem

Rivers of Canada

 O all the little rivers that run to Hudson's Bay,
They call me and call me to follow them away.
Missinaibi, Abitibi, Little Current--where they run Dancing and sparkling I see them in the sun.
I hear the brawling rapid, the thunder of the fall, And when I think upon them I cannot stay at all.
At the far end of the carry, where the wilderness begins, Set me down with my canoe-load--and forgiveness of my sins.
O all the mighty rivers beneath the Polar Star, They call me and call me to follow them afar.
Peace and Athabasca and Coppermine and Slave, And Yukon and Mackenzie--the highroads of the brave.
Saskatchewan, Assiniboine, the Bow and the Qu'Appelle, And many a prairie river whose name is like a spell.
They rumor through the twilight at the edge of the unknown, "There's a message waiting for you, and a kingdom all your own.
"The wilderness shall feed you, her gleam shall be your guide.
Come out from desolations, our path of hope is wide.
" O all the headlong rivers that hurry to the West, They call me and lure me with the joy of their unrest.
Columbia and Fraser and Bear and Kootenay, I love their fearless reaches where winds untarnished play-- The rush of glacial water across the pebbly bar To polished pools of azure where the hidden boulders are.
Just there, with heaven smiling, any morning I would be, Where all the silver rivers go racing to the sea.
O well remembered rivers that sing of long ago, Ajourneying through summer or dreaming under snow.
Among their meadow islands through placid days they glide, And where the peaceful orchards are diked against the tide.
Tobique and Madawaska and shining Gaspereaux, St.
Croix and Nashwaak and St.
John whose haunts I used to know.
And all the pleasant rivers that seek the Fundy foam, They call me and call me to follow them home.
Written by Bliss Carman | Create an image from this poem

ON LOVE

 Love's of itself too sweet; the best of all
Is, when love's honey has a dash of gall.
Written by Bliss Carman | Create an image from this poem

The Ships of Saint John

 Where are the ships I used to know,
That came to port on the Fundy tide
Half a century ago,
In beauty and stately pride?
In they would come past the beacon light,
With the sun on gleaming sail and spar,
Folding their wings like birds in flight
From countries strange and far.
Schooner and brig and barkentine, I watched them slow as the sails were furled, And wondered what cities they must have seen On the other side of the world.
Frenchman and Britisher and Dane, Yankee, Spaniard and Portugee, And many a home ship back again With her stories of the sea.
Calm and victorious, at rest From the relentless, rough sea-play, The wild duck on the river's breast Was not more sure than they.
The creatures of a passing race, The dark spruce forests made them strong, The sea's lore gave them magic grace, The great winds taught them song.
And God endowed them each with life-- His blessing on the craftsman's skill-- To meet the blind unreasoned strife And dare the risk of ill.
Not mere insensate wood and paint Obedient to the helm's command, But often restive as a saint Beneath the Heavenly hand.
All the beauty and mystery Of life were there, adventure bold, Youth, and the glamour of the sea And all its sorrows old.
And many a time I saw them go Out on the flood at morning brave, As the little tugs had them in tow, And the sunlight danced on the wave.
There all day long you could hear the sound Of the caulking iron, the ship's bronze bell, And the clank of the capstan going round As the great tides rose and fell.
The sailors' songs, the Captain's shout, The boatswain's whistle piping shrill, And the roar as the anchor chain runs out,-- I often hear them still.
I can see them still, the sun on their gear, The shining streak as the hulls careen, And the flag at the peak unfurling,--clear As a picture on a screen.
The fog still hangs on the long tide-rips, The gulls go wavering to and fro, But where are all the beautiful ships I knew so long ago?
Written by Bliss Carman | Create an image from this poem

I Loved Thee Atthis in the Long Ago

 (Sappho XXIII)
I loved thee, Atthis, in the long ago,
When the great oleanders were in flower
In the broad herded meadows full of sun.
And we would often at the fall of dusk Wander together by the silver stream, When the soft grass-heads were all wet with dew And purple-misted in the fading light.
And joy I knew and sorrow at thy voice, And the superb magnificence of love,— The loneliness that saddens solitude, And the sweet speech that makes it durable,— The bitter longing and the keen desire, The sweet companionship through quiet days In the slow ample beauty of the world, And the unutterable glad release Within the temple of the holy night.
O Atthis, how I loved thee long ago In that fair perished summer by the sea!
Written by Bliss Carman | Create an image from this poem

By the Aurelian Wall

 In Memory of John Keats
By the Aurelian Wall,
Where the long shadows of the centuries fall
From Caius Cestius' tomb,
A weary mortal seeking rest found room
For quiet burial,
Leaving among his friends
A book of lyrics.
Such untold amends A traveller might make In a strange country, bidden to partake Before he farther wends; Who slyly should bestow The foreign reed-flute they had seen him blow And finger cunningly, On one of the dark children standing by, Then lift his cloak and go.
The years pass.
And the child Thoughtful beyond his fellows, grave and mild, Treasures the rough-made toy, Until one day he blows it for clear joy, And wakes the music wild.
His fondness makes it seem A thing first fashioned in delirious dream, Some god had cut and tried, And filled with yearning passion, and cast aside On some far woodland stream,-- After long years to be Found by the stranger and brought over sea, A marvel and delight To ease the noon and pierce the dark blue night, For children such as he.
He learns the silver strain Wherewith the ghostly houses of gray rain And lonely valleys ring, When the untroubled whitethroats make the spring A world without a stain; Then on his river reed, With strange and unsuspected notes that plead Of their own wild accord For utterances no bird's throat could afford, Lifts it to human need.
His comrades leave their play, When calling and compelling far away By river-slope and hill, He pipes their wayward footsteps where he will, All the long lovely day.
Even his elders come.
"Surely the child is elvish," murmur some, And shake the knowing head; "Give us the good old simple things instead, Our fathers used to hum.
" Others at open door Smile when they hear what they have hearkened for These many summers now, Believing they should live to learn somehow Things never known before.
But he can only tell How the flute's whisper lures him with a spell, Yet always just eludes The lost perfection over which he broods; And how he loves it well.
Till all the country-side, Familiar with his piping far and wide, Has taken for its own That weird enchantment down the evening blown,-- Its glory and its pride.
And so his splendid name, Who left the book of lyrics and small fame Among his fellows then, Spreads through the world like autumn--who knows when?-- Till all the hillsides flame.
Grand Pré and Margaree Hear it upbruited from the unresting sea; And the small Gaspereau, Whose yellow leaves repeat it, seems to know A new felicity.
Even the shadows tall, Walking at sundown through the plain, recall A mound the grasses keep, Where once a mortal came and found long sleep By the Aurelian Wall.
Written by Bliss Carman | Create an image from this poem

A Song before Sailing

 Wind of the dead men's feet,
Blow down the empty street
Of this old city by the sea
With news for me!
Blow me beyond the grime
And pestilence of time!
I am too sick at heart to war
With failure any more.
Thy chill is in my bones; The moonlight on the stones Is pale, and palpable, and cold; I am as one grown old.
I call from room to room Through the deserted gloom; The echoes are all words I know, Lost in some long ago.
I prowl from door to door, And find no comrade more.
The wolfish fear that children feel Is snuffing at my heel.
I hear the hollow sound Of a great ship coming round, The thunder of tackle and the tread Of sailors overhead.
That stormy-blown hulloo Has orders for me, too.
I see thee, hand at mouth, and hark, My captain of the dark.
O wind of the great East, By whom we are released From this strange dusty port to sail Beyond our fellows' hail, Under the stars that keep The entry of the deep, Thy somber voice brings up the sea's Forgotten melodies; And I have no more need Of bread, or wine, or creed, Bound for the colonies of time Beyond the farthest prime.
Wind of the dead men's feet, Blow through the empty street; The last adventurer am I, Then, world, goodby!
Written by Bliss Carman | Create an image from this poem

A Creature Catechism

 I
Soul, what art thou in the tribes of the sea?


LORD, said a flying fish, 
Below the foundations of storm 
We feel the primal wish 
Of the earth take form.
Through the dim green water-fire We see the red sun loom, And the quake of a new desire Takes hold on us down in the gloom.
No more can the filmy drift Nor draughty currents buoy Our whim to its bent, nor lift Our heart to the height of its joy.
When sheering down to the Line Come polar tides from the North, Thy silver folk of the brine Must glimmer and forth.
Down in the crumbling mill Grinding eternally, We are the type of thy will To the tribes of the sea.
II Soul, what art thou in the tribes of the air Lord, said a butterfly, Out of a creeping thing, For days in the dust put by, The spread of a wing Emerges with pulvil of gold On a tissue of green and blue, And there is thy purpose of old Unspoiled and fashioned anew.
Ephemera, ravellings of sky And shreds of the Northern light, We age in a heart-beat and die Under the eaves of night.
What if the small breath quail, Or cease at a touch of the frost? Not a tremor of joy shall fail, Nor a pulse be lost.
This fluttering life, never still, Survives to oblivion’s despair.
We are the type of thy will To the tribes of the air.
III Soul, what art thou in the tribes of the field? Lord, said a maple seed, Though well we are wrapped and bound, We are the first to give heed, When thy bugles give sound.
We banner thy House of the Hills With green and vermilion and gold, When the floor of April thrills With the myriad stir of the mould, And her hosts for migration prepare.
We too have the veined twin-wings, Vans for the journey of air.
With the urge of a thousand springs Pent for a germ in our side, We perish of joy, being dumb, That our race may be and abide For aeons to come.
When rivulet answers to rill In snow-blue valleys unsealed, We are the type of thy will To the tribes of the field.
IV Soul, what art thou in the tribes of the ground? Lord, when the time is ripe, Said a frog through the quiet rain, We take up the silver pipe For the pageant again.
When the melting wind of the South Is over meadow and pond, We draw the breath of thy mouth, Reviving the ancient bond.
Then must we fife and declare The unquenchable joy of earth,— Testify hearts still dare, Signalize beauty’s worth.
Then must we rouse and blow On the magic reed once more, Till the glad earth-children know Not a thing to deplore.
When rises the marshy trill To the soft spring night’s profound, We are the type of thy will To the tribes of the ground.
V Soul, what art thou in the tribes of the earth? Lord, said an artist born, We leave the city behind For the hills of open morn, For fear of our kind.
Our brother they nailed to a tree For sedition; they bully and curse All those whom love makes free.
Yet the very winds disperse Rapture of birds and brooks, Colours of sea and cloud,— Beauty not learned of books, Truth that is never loud.
We model our joy into clay, Or help it with line and hue, Or hark for its breath in stray Wild chords and new.
For to-morrow can only fulfil Dreams which to-day have birth; We are the type of thy will To the tribes of the earth.
Written by Bliss Carman | Create an image from this poem

The Ships of Yule

 When I was just a little boy,
Before I went to school,
I had a fleet of forty sail
I called the Ships of Yule;
Of every rig, from rakish brig
And gallant barkentine,
To little Fundy fishing boats
With gunwales painted green.
They used to go on trading trips Around the world for me, For though I had to stay on shore My heart was on the sea.
They stopped at every port to call From Babylon to Rome, To load with all the lovely things We never had at home; With elephants and ivory Bought from the King of Tyre, And shells and silks and sandal-wood That sailor men admire; With figs and dates from Samarcand, And squatty ginger-jars, And scented silver amulets From Indian bazaars; With sugar-cane from Port of Spain, And monkeys from Ceylon, And paper lanterns from Pekin With painted dragons on; With cocoanuts from Zanzibar, And pines from Singapore; And when they had unloaded these They could go back for more.
And even after I was big And had to go to school, My mind was often far away Aboard the Ships of Yule.
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