Walt Whitman |
PROUD music of the storm!
Blast that careers so free, whistling across the prairies!
Strong hum of forest tree-tops! Wind of the mountains!
Personified dim shapes! you hidden orchestras!
You serenades of phantoms, with instruments alert,
Blending, with Nature’s rhythmus, all the tongues of nations;
You chords left us by vast composers! you choruses!
You formless, free, religious dances! you from the Orient!
You undertone of rivers, roar of pouring cataracts;
You sounds from distant guns, with galloping cavalry!
Echoes of camps, with all the different bugle-calls!
Trooping tumultuous, filling the midnight late, bending me powerless,
Entering my lonesome slumber-chamber—Why have you seiz’d me?
Come forward, O my Soul, and let the rest retire;
Listen—lose not—it is toward thee they tend;
Parting the midnight, entering my slumber-chamber,
For thee they sing and dance, O Soul.
A festival song!
The duet of the bridegroom and the bride—a marriage-march,
With lips of love, and hearts of lovers, fill’d to the brim with love;
The red-flush’d cheeks, and perfumes—the cortege swarming, full of friendly
young and old,
To flutes’ clear notes, and sounding harps’ cantabile.
Now loud approaching drums!
Victoria! see’st thou in powder-smoke the banners torn but flying? the rout of the
Hearest those shouts of a conquering army?
(Ah, Soul, the sobs of women—the wounded groaning in agony,
The hiss and crackle of flames—the blacken’d ruins—the embers of cities,
The dirge and desolation of mankind.
Now airs antique and medieval fill me!
I see and hear old harpers with their harps, at Welsh festivals:
I hear the minnesingers, singing their lays of love,
I hear the minstrels, gleemen, troubadours, of the feudal ages.
Now the great organ sounds,
Tremulous—while underneath, (as the hid footholds of the earth,
On which arising, rest, and leaping forth, depend,
All shapes of beauty, grace and strength—all hues we know,
Green blades of grass, and warbling birds—children that gambol and play—the
The strong base stands, and its pulsations intermits not,
Bathing, supporting, merging all the rest—maternity of all the rest;
And with it every instrument in multitudes,
The players playing—all the world’s musicians,
The solemn hymns and masses, rousing adoration,
All passionate heart-chants, sorrowful appeals,
The measureless sweet vocalists of ages,
And for their solvent setting, Earth’s own diapason,
Of winds and woods and mighty ocean waves;
A new composite orchestra—binder of years and climes—ten-fold renewer,
As of the far-back days the poets tell—the Paradiso,
The straying thence, the separation long, but now the wandering done,
The journey done, the Journeyman come home,
And Man and Art, with Nature fused again.
Tutti! for Earth and Heaven!
The Almighty Leader now for me, for once has signal’d with his wand.
The manly strophe of the husbands of the world,
And all the wives responding.
The tongues of violins!
(I think, O tongues, ye tell this heart, that cannot tell itself;
This brooding, yearning heart, that cannot tell itself.
Ah, from a little child,
Thou knowest, Soul, how to me all sounds became music;
My mother’s voice, in lullaby or hymn;
(The voice—O tender voices—memory’s loving voices!
Last miracle of all—O dearest mother’s, sister’s, voices;)
The rain, the growing corn, the breeze among the long-leav’d corn,
The measur’d sea-surf, beating on the sand,
The twittering bird, the hawk’s sharp scream,
The wild-fowl’s notes at night, as flying low, migrating north or south,
The psalm in the country church, or mid the clustering trees, the open air camp-meeting,
The fiddler in the tavern—the glee, the long-strung sailor-song,
The lowing cattle, bleating sheep—the crowing cock at dawn.
All songs of current lands come sounding ’round me,
The German airs of friendship, wine and love,
Irish ballads, merry jigs and dances—English warbles,
Chansons of France, Scotch tunes—and o’er the rest,
Italia’s peerless compositions.
Across the stage, with pallor on her face, yet lurid passion,
Stalks Norma, brandishing the dagger in her hand.
I see poor crazed Lucia’s eyes’ unnatural gleam;
Her hair down her back falls loose and dishevell’d.
I see where Ernani, walking the bridal garden,
Amid the scent of night-roses, radiant, holding his bride by the hand,
Hears the infernal call, the death-pledge of the horn.
To crossing swords, and grey hairs bared to heaven,
The clear, electric base and baritone of the world,
The trombone duo—Libertad forever!
From Spanish chestnut trees’ dense shade,
By old and heavy convent walls, a wailing song,
Song of lost love—the torch of youth and life quench’d in despair,
Song of the dying swan—Fernando’s heart is breaking.
Awaking from her woes at last, retriev’d Amina sings;
Copious as stars, and glad as morning light, the torrents of her joy.
(The teeming lady comes!
The lustrious orb—Venus contralto—the blooming mother,
Sister of loftiest gods—Alboni’s self I hear.
I hear those odes, symphonies, operas;
I hear in the William Tell, the music of an arous’d and angry people;
I hear Meyerbeer’s Huguenots, the Prophet, or Robert;
Gounod’s Faust, or Mozart’s Don Juan.
I hear the dance-music of all nations,
The waltz, (some delicious measure, lapsing, bathing me in bliss;)
The bolero, to tinkling guitars and clattering castanets.
I see religious dances old and new,
I hear the sound of the Hebrew lyre,
I see the Crusaders marching, bearing the cross on high, to the martial clang of cymbals;
I hear dervishes monotonously chanting, interspers’d with frantic shouts, as they
around, turning always towards Mecca;
I see the rapt religious dances of the Persians and the Arabs;
Again, at Eleusis, home of Ceres, I see the modern Greeks dancing,
I hear them clapping their hands, as they bend their bodies,
I hear the metrical shuffling of their feet.
I see again the wild old Corybantian dance, the performers wounding each other;
I see the Roman youth, to the shrill sound of flageolets, throwing and catching their
As they fall on their knees, and rise again.
I hear from the Mussulman mosque the muezzin calling;
I see the worshippers within, (nor form, nor sermon, argument, nor word,
But silent, strange, devout—rais’d, glowing heads—extatic faces.
I hear the Egyptian harp of many strings,
The primitive chants of the Nile boatmen;
The sacred imperial hymns of China,
To the delicate sounds of the king, (the stricken wood and stone;)
Or to Hindu flutes, and the fretting twang of the vina,
A band of bayaderes.
Now Asia, Africa leave me—Europe, seizing, inflates me;
To organs huge, and bands, I hear as from vast concourses of voices,
Luther’s strong hymn, Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott;
Rossini’s Stabat Mater dolorosa;
Or, floating in some high cathedral dim, with gorgeous color’d windows,
The passionate Agnus Dei, or Gloria in Excelsis.
Composers! mighty maestros!
And you, sweet singers of old lands—Soprani! Tenori! Bassi!
To you a new bard, carolling free in the west,
Obeisant, sends his love.
(Such led to thee, O Soul!
All senses, shows and objects, lead to thee,
But now, it seems to me, sound leads o’er all the rest.
I hear the annual singing of the children in St.
Or, under the high roof of some colossal hall, the symphonies, oratorios of Beethoven,
The Creation, in billows of godhood laves me.
Give me to hold all sounds, (I, madly struggling, cry,)
Fill me with all the voices of the universe,
Endow me with their throbbings—Nature’s also,
The tempests, waters, winds—operas and chants—marches and dances,
Utter—pour in—for I would take them all.
Then I woke softly,
And pausing, questioning awhile the music of my dream,
And questioning all those reminiscences—the tempest in its fury,
And all the songs of sopranos and tenors,
And those rapt oriental dances, of religious fervor,
And the sweet varied instruments, and the diapason of organs,
And all the artless plaints of love, and grief and death,
I said to my silent, curious Soul, out of the bed of the slumber-chamber,
Come, for I have found the clue I sought so long,
Let us go forth refresh’d amid the day,
Cheerfully tallying life, walking the world, the real,
Nourish’d henceforth by our celestial dream.
And I said, moreover,
Haply, what thou hast heard, O Soul, was not the sound of winds,
Nor dream of raging storm, nor sea-hawk’s flapping wings, nor harsh scream,
Nor vocalism of sun-bright Italy,
Nor German organ majestic—nor vast concourse of voices—nor layers of harmonies;
Nor strophes of husbands and wives—nor sound of marching soldiers,
Nor flutes, nor harps, nor the bugle-calls of camps;
But, to a new rhythmus fitted for thee,
Poems, bridging the way from Life to Death, vaguely wafted in night air, uncaught,
Which, let us go forth in the bold day, and write.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |
Janus am I; oldest of potentates;
Forward I look, and backward, and below
I count, as god of avenues and gates,
The years that through my portals come and go.
I block the roads, and drift the fields with snow;
I chase the wild-fowl from the frozen fen;
My frosts congeal the rivers in their flow,
My fires light up the hearths and hearts of men.
I am lustration, and the sea is mine!
I wash the sands and headlands with my tide;
My brow is crowned with branches of the pine;
Before my chariot-wheels the fishes glide.
By me all things unclean are purified,
By me the souls of men washed white again;
E'en the unlovely tombs of those who died
Without a dirge, I cleanse from every stain.
I Martius am! Once first, and now the third!
To lead the Year was my appointed place;
A mortal dispossessed me by a word,
And set there Janus with the double face.
Hence I make war on all the human race;
I shake the cities with my hurricanes;
I flood the rivers and their banks efface,
And drown the farms and hamlets with my rains.
I open wide the portals of the Spring
To welcome the procession of the flowers,
With their gay banners, and the birds that sing
Their song of songs from their aerial towers.
I soften with my sunshine and my showers
The heart of earth; with thoughts of love I glide
Into the hearts of men; and with the Hours
Upon the Bull with wreathed horns I ride.
Hark! The sea-faring wild-fowl loud proclaim
My coming, and the swarming of the bees.
These are my heralds, and behold! my name
Is written in blossoms on the hawthorn-trees.
I tell the mariner when to sail the seas;
I waft o'er all the land from far away
The breath and bloom of the Hesperides,
I am Maia.
I am May.
Mine is the Month of Roses; yes, and mine
The Month of Marriages! All pleasant sights
And scents, the fragrance of the blossoming vine,
The foliage of the valleys and the heights.
Mine are the longest days, the loveliest nights;
The mower's scythe makes music to my ear;
I am the mother of all dear delights;
I am the fairest daughter of the year.
My emblem is the Lion, and I breathe
The breath of Libyan deserts o'er the land;
My sickle as a sabre I unsheathe,
And bent before me the pale harvests stand.
The lakes and rivers shrink at my command,
And there is thirst and fever in the air;
The sky is changed to brass, the earth to sand;
I am the Emperor whose name I bear.
The Emperor Octavian, called the August,
I being his favorite, bestowed his name
Upon me, and I hold it still in trust,
In memory of him and of his fame.
I am the Virgin, and my vestal flame
Burns less intensely than the Lion's rage;
Sheaves are my only garlands, and I claim
The golden Harvests as my heritage.
I bear the Scales, where hang in equipoise
The night and day; and whenunto my lips
I put my trumpet, with its stress and noise
Fly the white clouds like tattered sails of ships;
The tree-tops lash the air with sounding whips;
Southward the clamorous sea-fowl wing their flight;
The hedges are all red with haws and hips,
The Hunter's Moon reigns empress of the night.
My ornaments are fruits; my garments leaves,
Woven like cloth of gold, and crimson dyed;
I do no boast the harvesting of sheaves,
O'er orchards and o'er vineyards I preside.
Though on the frigid Scorpion I ride,
The dreamy air is full, and overflows
With tender memories of the summer-tide,
And mingled voices of the doves and crows.
The Centaur, Sagittarius, am I,
Born of Ixion's and the cloud's embrace;
With sounding hoofs across the earth I fly,
A steed Thessalian with a human face.
Sharp winds the arrows are with which I chase
The leaves, half dead already with affright;
I shroud myself in gloom; and to the race
Of mortals bring nor comfort nor delight.
Riding upon the Goat, with snow-white hair,
I come, the last of all.
This crown of mine
Is of the holly; in my hand I bear
The thyrsus, tipped with fragrant cones of pine.
I celebrate the birth of the Divine,
And the return of the Saturnian reign;--
My songs are carols sung at every shrine,
Proclaiming "Peace on earth, good will to men.
Edgar Allan Poe |
Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll!- a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy de Vere, hast thou no tear?- weep now or nevermore!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read- the funeral song be sung!-
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young-
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.
"Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her- that she died!
How shall the ritual, then, be read?- the requiem how be sung
By you- by yours, the evil eye,- by yours, the slanderous tongue
That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?"
Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong.
The sweet Lenore hath "gone before," with Hope, that flew beside,
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes
The life still there, upon her hair- the death upon her eyes.
"Avaunt! avaunt! from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven-
From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven-
From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of
Let no bell toll, then,- lest her soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
Should catch the note as it doth float up from the damned Earth!
And I!- to-night my heart is light!- no dirge will I upraise,
But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!"
Gregory Corso |
Paris, from throats of iron, silver, brass,
Joy-thundering cannon, blent with chiming bells,
And martial strains, the full-voiced pæan swells.
The air is starred with flags, the chanted mass
Throngs all the churches, yet the broad streets swarm
With glad-eyed groups who chatter, laugh, and pass,
In holiday confusion, class with class.
And over all the spring, the sun-floods warm!
In the Imperial palace that March morn,
The beautiful young mother lay and smiled;
For by her side just breathed the Prince, her child,
Heir to an empire, to the purple born,
Crowned with the Titan's name that stirs the heart
Like a blown clarion--one more Bonaparte.
Born to the purple, lying stark and dead,
Transfixed with poisoned spears, beneath the sun
Of brazen Africa! Thy grave is one,
Fore-fated youth (on whom were visited
Follies and sins not thine), whereat the world,
Heartless howe'er it be, will pause to sing
A dirge, to breathe a sigh, a wreath to fling
Of rosemary and rue with bay-leaves curled.
Enmeshed in toils ambitious, not thine own,
Immortal, loved boy-Prince, thou tak'st thy stand
With early doomed Don Carlos, hand in hand
With mild-browed Arthur, Geoffrey's murdered son.
Louis the Dauphin lifts his thorn-ringed head,
And welcomes thee, his brother, 'mongst the dead.
Percy Bysshe Shelley |
O WILD West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being¡ª
Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes!¡ªO thou 5
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The wing¨¨d seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow
Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill 10
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill¡ª
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere¡ª
Destroyer and Preserver¡ªhear, O hear!
Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion, 15
Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,
Angels of rain and lightning! they are spread
On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head 20
Of some fierce M?nad, ev'n from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith's height¡ª
The locks of the approaching storm.
Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre, 25
Vaulted with all thy congregated might
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst:¡ªO hear!
Thou who didst waken from his summer-dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay, 30
Lull'd by the coil of his crystalline streams,
Beside a pumice isle in Bai?'s bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave's intenser day,
All overgrown with azure moss, and flowers 35
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers
Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know 40
Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear
And tremble and despoil themselves:¡ªO hear!
If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share 45
The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable!¡ªif even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be
The comrade of thy wanderings over heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed 50
Scarce seem'd a vision,¡ªI would ne'er have striven
As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
O lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
A heavy weight of hours has chain'd and bow'd 55
One too like thee¡ªtameless, and swift, and proud.
Make me thy lyre, ev'n as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep autumnal tone, 60
Sweet though in sadness.
Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,
Like wither'd leaves, to quicken a new birth;
And, by the incantation of this verse, 65
Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? 70
William Shakespeare |
URNS and odours bring away!
Vapours, sighs, darken the day!
Our dole more deadly looks than dying;
Balms and gums and heavy cheers,
Sacred vials fill'd with tears,
And clamours through the wild air flying!
Come, all sad and solemn shows,
That are quick-eyed Pleasure's foes!
We convent naught else but woes.
Percy Bysshe Shelley |
The warm sun is falling, the bleak wind is wailing,
The bare boughs are sighing, the pale flowers are dying,
And the Year
On the earth is her death-bed, in a shroud of leaves dead,
Come, Months, come away,
From November to May,
In your saddest array;
Follow the bier
Of the dead cold Year,
And like dim shadows watch by her sepulchre.
The chill rain is falling, the nipped worm is crawling,
The rivers are swelling, the thunder is knelling
For the Year;
The blithe swallows are flown, and the lizards each gone
To his dwelling.
Come, Months, come away;
Put on white, black and gray;
Let your light sisters play--
Ye, follow the bier
Of the dead cold Year,
And make her grave green with tear on tear.
Friedrich von Schiller |
Hark where the bells toll, chiming, dull and steady,
The clock's slow hand hath reached the appointed time.
Well, be it so--prepare, my soul is ready,
Companions of the grave--the rest for crime!
Now take, O world! my last farewell--receiving
My parting kisses--in these tears they dwell!
Sweet are thy poisons while we taste believing,
Now we are quits--heart-poisoner, fare-thee-well!
Farewell, ye suns that once to joy invited,
Changed for the mould beneath the funeral shade;
Farewell, farewell, thou rosy time delighted,
Luring to soft desire the careless maid,
Pale gossamers of gold, farewell, sweet dreaming
Fancies--the children that an Eden bore!
Blossoms that died while dawn itself was gleaming,
Opening in happy sunlight never more.
Swanlike the robe which innocence bestowing,
Decked with the virgin favors, rosy fair,
In the gay time when many a young rose glowing,
Blushed through the loose train of the amber hair.
Woe, woe! as white the robe that decks me now--
The shroud-like robe hell's destined victim wears;
Still shall the fillet bind this burning brow--
That sable braid the Doomsman's hand prepares!
Weep ye, who never fell-for whom, unerring,
The soul's white lilies keep their virgin hue,
Ye who when thoughts so danger-sweet are stirring,
Take the stern strength that Nature gives the few!
Woe, for too human was this fond heart's feeling--
Feeling!--my sin's avenger doomed to be;
Woe--for the false man's arm around me stealing,
Stole the lulled virtue, charmed to sleep, from me.
Ah, he perhaps shall, round another sighing
(Forgot the serpents stinging at my breast),
Gayly, when I in the dumb grave am lying,
Pour the warm wish or speed the wanton jest,
Or play, perchance, with his new maiden's tresses,
Answer the kiss her lip enamored brings,
When the dread block the head he cradled presses,
And high the blood his kiss once fevered springs.
Thee, Francis, Francis, league on league, shall follow
The death-dirge of the Lucy once so dear;
From yonder steeple dismal, dull, and hollow,
Shall knell the warning horror on thy ear.
On thy fresh leman's lips when love is dawning,
And the lisped music glides from that sweet well--
Lo, in that breast a red wound shall be yawning,
And, in the midst of rapture, warn of hell!
Betrayer, what! thy soul relentless closing
To grief--the woman-shame no art can heal--
To that small life beneath my heart reposing!
Man, man, the wild beast for its young can feel!
Proud flew the sails--receding from the land,
I watched them waning from the wistful eye,
Round the gay maids on Seine's voluptuous strand,
Breathes the false incense of his fatal sigh.
And there the babe! there, on the mother's bosom,
Lulled in its sweet and golden rest it lay,
Fresh in life's morning as a rosy blossom,
It smiled, poor harmless one, my tears away.
Deathlike yet lovely, every feature speaking
In such dear calm and beauty to my sadness,
And cradled still the mother's heart, in breaking,
The softening love and the despairing madness.
"Woman, where is my father?" freezing through me,
Lisped the mute innocence with thunder-sound;
"Woman, where is thy husband?"--called unto me,
In every look, word, whisper, busying round!
Alas, for thee, there is no father's kiss;--
He fondleth other children on his knee.
How thou wilt curse our momentary bliss,
When bastard on thy name shall branded be!
Thy mother--oh, a hell her heart concealeth,
Lone-sitting, lone in social nature's all!
Thirsting for that glad fount thy love revealeth,
While still thy look the glad fount turns to gall.
In every infant cry my soul is hearkening,
The haunting happiness forever o'er,
And all the bitterness of death is darkening
The heavenly looks that smiled mine eyes before.
Hell, if my sight those looks a moment misses--
Hell, when my sight upon those looks is turned--
The avenging furies madden in thy kisses,
That slept in his what time my lips they burned.
Out from their graves his oaths spoke back in thunder!
The perjury stalked like murder in the sun--
Forever--God!--sense, reason, soul, sunk under--
The deed was done!
Francis, O Francis! league on league shall chase thee
The shadows hurrying grimly on thy flight--
Still with their icy arms they shall embrace thee,
And mutter thunder in thy dream's delight!
Down from the soft stars, in their tranquil glory,
Shall look thy dead child with a ghastly stare;
That shape shall haunt thee in its cerements gory,
And scourge thee back from heaven--its home is there!
Lifeless--how lifeless!--see, oh see, before me
It lies cold--stiff--O God!--and with that blood
I feel, as swoops the dizzy darkness o'er me
Mine own life mingled--ebbing in the flood--
Hark, at the door they knock--more loud within me--
More awful still--its sound the dread heart gave!
Gladly I welcome the cold arms that win me--
Fire, quench thy tortures in the icy grave!
Francis--a God that pardons dwells in heaven--
Francis, the sinner--yes--she pardons thee--
So let my wrongs unto the earth be given
Flame seize the wood!--it burns--it kindles--see!
There--there his letters cast--behold are ashes--
His vows--the conquering fire consumes them here
His kisses--see--see--all are only ashes--
All, all--the all that once on earth were dear!
Trust not the roses which your youth enjoyeth,
Sisters, to man's faith, changeful as the moon!
Beauty to me brought guilt--its bloom destroyeth
Lo, in the judgment court I curse the boon
Tears in the headsman's gaze--what tears?--'tis spoken!
Quick, bind mine eyes--all soon shall be forgot--
Doomsman--the lily hast thou never broken?
Pale Doomsman--tremble not!
Emma Lazarus |
Blue storm-clouds in hot heavens of mid-July
Hung heavy, brooding over land and sea:
Our hearts, a-tremble, throbbed in harmony
With the wild, restless tone of air and sky.
Shall we not call im Prospero who held
In his enchanted hands the fateful key
Of that tempestuous hour's mystery,
And with controlling wand our spirits spelled,
With him to wander by a sun-bright shore,
To hear fine, fairy voices, and to fly
With disembodied Ariel once more
Above earth's wrack and ruin? Far and nigh
The laughter of the thunder echoed loud,
And harmless lightnings leapt from cloud to cloud.
Floating upon a swelling wave of sound,
We seemed to overlook an endless sea:
Poised 'twixt clear heavens and glittering surf were we.
We drank the air in flight: we knew no bound
To the audacious ventures of desire.
Nigh us the sun was dropping, drowned in gold;
Deep, deep below the burning billows rolled;
And all the sea sang like a smitten lyre.
Oh, the wild voices of those chanting waves!
The human faces glimpsed beneath the tide!
Familiar eyes gazed from profound sea-caves,
And we, exalted, were as we had died.
We knew the sea was Life, the harmonious cry
The blended discords of humanity.
Look deeper yet: mark 'midst the wave-blurred mass,
In lines distinct, in colors clear defined,
The typic groups and figures of mankind.
Behold within the cool and liquid glass
Bright child-folk sporting with smooth yellow shells,
Astride of dolphins, leaping up to kiss
From the vast abyss
How joyously their thought-free laughter wells!
Some slumber in grim caverns unafraid,
Lulled by the overwhelming water's sound,
And some make mouths at dragons, undismayed.
Oh dauntless innocence! The gulfs profound
Reëcho strangely with their ringing glee,
And with wise mermaids' plaintive melody.
What do the sea-nymphs in that coral cave?
With wondering eyes their supple forms they bend
O'er something rarely beautiful.
Their lithe white arms, and through the golden wave
They lift it tenderly.
Oh blinding sight!
A naked, radiant goddess, tranced in sleep,
Full-limbed, voluptuous, 'neath the mantling sweep
Of auburn locks that kiss her ankles white!
Upward they bear her, chanting low and sweet:
The clinging waters part before their way,
Jewels of flame are dancing 'neath their feet.
Up in the sunshine, on soft foam, they lay
Their precious burden, and return forlorn.
Oh, bliss! oh, anguish! Mortals, Love is born!
Hark! from unfathomable deeps a dirge
Swells sobbing through the melancholy air:
Where love has entered, Death is also there.
The wail outrings the chafed, tumultuous surge;
Ocean and earth, the illimitable skies,
Prolong one note, a mourning for the dead,
The cry of souls not to be comforted.
What piercing music! Funeral visions rise,
And send the hot tears raining down our cheek.
We see the silent grave upon the hill
With its lone lilac-bush.
O heart, be still!
She will not rise, she will not stir nor speak.
Surely, the unreturning dead are blest.
Ring on, sweet dirge, and knell us to our rest!
Upon the silver beach the undines dance
With interlinking arms and flying hair;
Like polished marble gleam their limbs left bare;
Upon their virgin rites pale moonbeams glance.
Softer the music! for their foam-bright feet
Print not the moist floor where they trip their round:
Affrighted they will scatter at a sound,
Leap in their cool sea-chambers, nibly fleet,
And we shall doubt that we have ever seen,
While our sane eyes behold stray wreaths of mist,
Shot with faint colors by the moon-rays kissed,
Floating snow-soft, snow-white, where these had been.
Already, look! the wave-washed sands are bare,
And mocking laughter ripples through the air.
Divided 'twixt the dream-world and the real,
We heard the waxing passion of the song
Soar as to scale the heavens on pinions strong.
Amidst the long-reverberant thunder-peal,
Against the rain-blurred square of light, the head
Of the pale poet at the lyric keys
Stood boldly cut, absorbed in reveries,
While over it keen-bladed lightnings played.
"Rage on, wild storm!" the music seemed to sing:
"Not all the thunders of thy wrath can move
The soul that's dedicate to worshipping
Eternal Beauty, everlasting Love.
No more! the song was ended, and behold,
A rainbow trembling on a sky of gold!
Forth in the sunlit, rain-bathed air we stepped,
Sweet with the dripping grass and flowering vine,
And saw through irised clouds the pale sun shine.
Back o'er the hills the rain-mist slowly crept
Like a transparent curtain's silvery sheen;
And fronting us the painted bow was arched,
Whereunder the majestic cloud-shapes marched:
In the wet, yellow light the dazzling green
Of lawn and bush and tree seemed stained with blue.
Our hearts o'erflowed with peace.
With smiles we spake
Of partings in the past, of courage new,
Of high achievement, of the dreams that make
A wonder and a glory of our days,
And all life's music but a hymn of praise.
Walt Whitman |
FROM far Dakota’s cañons,
Lands of the wild ravine, the dusky Sioux, the lonesome stretch, the silence,
Haply to-day a mournful wail, haply a trumpet-note for heroes.
The Indian ambuscade, the craft, the fatal environment,
The cavalry companies fighting to the last in sternest heroism,
In the midst of their little circle, with their slaughter’d horses for breastworks,
The fall of Custer and all his officers and men.
Continues yet the old, old legend of our race,
The loftiest of life upheld by death,
The ancient banner perfectly maintain’d,
O lesson opportune, O how I welcome thee!
As sitting in dark days,
Lone, sulky, through the time’s thick murk looking in vain for light, for hope,
From unsuspected parts a fierce and momentary proof,
(The sun there at the centre though conceal’d,
Electric life forever at the centre,)
Breaks forth a lightning flash.
Thou of the tawny flowing hair in battle,
I erewhile saw, with erect head, pressing ever in front, bearing a bright sword in thy
Now ending well in death the splendid fever of thy deeds,
(I bring no dirge for it or thee, I bring a glad triumphal sonnet,)
Desperate and glorious, aye in defeat most desperate, most glorious,
After thy many battles in which never yielding up a gun or a color
Leaving behind thee a memory sweet to soldiers,
Thou yieldest up thyself.