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Best Famous Wren Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Wren poems. This is a select list of the best famous Wren poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Wren poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of wren poems.

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Written by William Blake | Create an image from this poem

Auguries Of Innocence

 To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage Puts all heaven in a rage.
A dove-house filled with doves and pigeons Shudders hell through all its regions.
A dog starved at his master's gate Predicts the ruin of the state.
A horse misused upon the road Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare A fibre from the brain does tear.
A skylark wounded in the wing, A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipped and armed for fight Does the rising sun affright.
Every wolf's and lion's howl Raises from hell a human soul.
The wild deer wandering here and there Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misused breeds public strife, And yet forgives the butcher's knife.
The bat that flits at close of eve Has left the brain that won't believe.
The owl that calls upon the night Speaks the unbeliever's fright.
He who shall hurt the little wren Shall never be beloved by men.
He who the ox to wrath has moved Shall never be by woman loved.
The wanton boy that kills the fly Shall feel the spider's enmity.
He who torments the chafer's sprite Weaves a bower in endless night.
The caterpillar on the leaf Repeats to thee thy mother's grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly, For the Last Judgment draweth nigh.
He who shall train the horse to war Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar's dog and widow's cat, Feed them, and thou wilt grow fat.
The gnat that sings his summer's song Poison gets from Slander's tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt Is the sweat of Envy's foot.
The poison of the honey-bee Is the artist's jealousy.
The prince's robes and beggar's rags Are toadstools on the miser's bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent Beats all the lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so: Man was made for joy and woe; And when this we rightly know Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine, A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine Runs a joy with silken twine.
The babe is more than swaddling bands, Throughout all these human lands; Tools were made and born were hands, Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye Becomes a babe in eternity; This is caught by females bright And returned to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar Are waves that beat on heaven's shore.
The babe that weeps the rod beneath Writes Revenge! in realms of death.
The beggar's rags fluttering in air Does to rags the heavens tear.
The soldier armed with sword and gun Palsied strikes the summer's sun.
The poor man's farthing is worth more Than all the gold on Afric's shore.
One mite wrung from the labourer's hands Shall buy and sell the miser's lands, Or if protected from on high Does that whole nation sell and buy.
He who mocks the infant's faith Shall be mocked in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the infant's faith Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons Are the fruits of the two seasons.
The questioner who sits so sly Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt Doth put the light of knowledge out.
The strongest poison ever known Came from Caesar's laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race Like to the armour's iron brace.
When gold and gems adorn the plough To peaceful arts shall Envy bow.
A riddle or the cricket's cry Is to doubt a fit reply.
The emmet's inch and eagle's mile Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees Will ne'er believe, do what you please.
If the sun and moon should doubt, They'd immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do, But no good if a passion is in you.
The whore and gambler, by the state Licensed, build that nation's fate.
The harlot's cry from street to street Shall weave old England's winding sheet.
The winner's shout, the loser's curse, Dance before dead England's hearse.
Every night and every morn Some to misery are born.
Every morn and every night Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight, Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie When we see not through the eye Which was born in a night to perish in a night, When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears, and God is light To those poor souls who dwell in night, But does a human form display To those who dwell in realms of day.

Written by Kobayashi Issa | Create an image from this poem

That wren

 That wren--
looking here, looking there.
You lose something?
Written by William Cullen Bryant | Create an image from this poem

The Death of the Flowers

THE MELANCHOLY days have come the saddest of the year  
Of wailing winds and naked woods and meadows brown and sere; 
Heaped in the hollows of the grove the autumn leaves lie dead; 
They rustle to the eddying gust and to the rabbit's tread; 
The robin and the wren are flown and from the shrubs the jay 5 
And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day.
Where are the flowers the fair young flowers that lately sprang and stood In brighter light and softer airs a beauteous sisterhood? Alas! they all are in their graves the gentle race of flowers Are lying in their lowly beds with the fair and good of ours.
10 The rain is falling where they lie but the cold November rain Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones again.
The wind-flower and the violet they perished long ago And the brier-rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow; But on the hill the goldenrod and the aster in the wood 15 And the blue sunflower by the brook in autumn beauty stood Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven as falls the plague on men And the brightness of their smile was gone from upland glade and glen.
And now when comes the calm mild day as still such days will come To call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home; 20 When the sound of dropping nuts is heard though all the trees are still And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.
And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty died 25 The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side.
In the cold moist earth we laid her when the forests cast the leaf And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief: Yet not unmeet it was that one like that young friend of ours So gentle and so beautiful should perish with the flowers.
Written by Dylan Thomas | Create an image from this poem

Ballad Of The Long-Legged Bait

 The bows glided down, and the coast
Blackened with birds took a last look
At his thrashing hair and whale-blue eye;
The trodden town rang its cobbles for luck.
Then good-bye to the fishermanned Boat with its anchor free and fast As a bird hooking over the sea, High and dry by the top of the mast, Whispered the affectionate sand And the bulwarks of the dazzled quay.
For my sake sail, and never look back, Said the looking land.
Sails drank the wind, and white as milk He sped into the drinking dark; The sun shipwrecked west on a pearl And the moon swam out of its hulk.
Funnels and masts went by in a whirl.
Good-bye to the man on the sea-legged deck To the gold gut that sings on his reel To the bait that stalked out of the sack, For we saw him throw to the swift flood A girl alive with his hooks through her lips; All the fishes were rayed in blood, Said the dwindling ships.
Good-bye to chimneys and funnels, Old wives that spin in the smoke, He was blind to the eyes of candles In the praying windows of waves But heard his bait buck in the wake And tussle in a shoal of loves.
Now cast down your rod, for the whole Of the sea is hilly with whales, She longs among horses and angels, The rainbow-fish bend in her joys, Floated the lost cathedral Chimes of the rocked buoys.
Where the anchor rode like a gull Miles over the moonstruck boat A squall of birds bellowed and fell, A cloud blew the rain from its throat; He saw the storm smoke out to kill With fuming bows and ram of ice, Fire on starlight, rake Jesu's stream; And nothing shone on the water's face But the oil and bubble of the moon, Plunging and piercing in his course The lured fish under the foam Witnessed with a kiss.
Whales in the wake like capes and Alps Quaked the sick sea and snouted deep, Deep the great bushed bait with raining lips Slipped the fins of those humpbacked tons And fled their love in a weaving dip.
Oh, Jericho was falling in their lungs! She nipped and dived in the nick of love, Spun on a spout like a long-legged ball Till every beast blared down in a swerve Till every turtle crushed from his shell Till every bone in the rushing grave Rose and crowed and fell! Good luck to the hand on the rod, There is thunder under its thumbs; Gold gut is a lightning thread, His fiery reel sings off its flames, The whirled boat in the burn of his blood Is crying from nets to knives, Oh the shearwater birds and their boatsized brood Oh the bulls of Biscay and their calves Are making under the green, laid veil The long-legged beautiful bait their wives.
Break the black news and paint on a sail Huge weddings in the waves, Over the wakeward-flashing spray Over the gardens of the floor Clash out the mounting dolphin's day, My mast is a bell-spire, Strike and smoothe, for my decks are drums, Sing through the water-spoken prow The octopus walking into her limbs The polar eagle with his tread of snow.
From salt-lipped beak to the kick of the stern Sing how the seal has kissed her dead! The long, laid minute's bride drifts on Old in her cruel bed.
Over the graveyard in the water Mountains and galleries beneath Nightingale and hyena Rejoicing for that drifting death Sing and howl through sand and anemone Valley and sahara in a shell, Oh all the wanting flesh his enemy Thrown to the sea in the shell of a girl Is old as water and plain as an eel; Always good-bye to the long-legged bread Scattered in the paths of his heels For the salty birds fluttered and fed And the tall grains foamed in their bills; Always good-bye to the fires of the face, For the crab-backed dead on the sea-bed rose And scuttled over her eyes, The blind, clawed stare is cold as sleet.
The tempter under the eyelid Who shows to the selves asleep Mast-high moon-white women naked Walking in wishes and lovely for shame Is dumb and gone with his flame of brides.
Susannah's drowned in the bearded stream And no-one stirs at Sheba's side But the hungry kings of the tides; Sin who had a woman's shape Sleeps till Silence blows on a cloud And all the lifted waters walk and leap.
Lucifer that bird's dropping Out of the sides of the north Has melted away and is lost Is always lost in her vaulted breath, Venus lies star-struck in her wound And the sensual ruins make Seasons over the liquid world, White springs in the dark.
Always good-bye, cried the voices through the shell, Good-bye always, for the flesh is cast And the fisherman winds his reel With no more desire than a ghost.
Always good luck, praised the finned in the feather Bird after dark and the laughing fish As the sails drank up the hail of thunder And the long-tailed lightning lit his catch.
The boat swims into the six-year weather, A wind throws a shadow and it freezes fast.
See what the gold gut drags from under Mountains and galleries to the crest! See what clings to hair and skull As the boat skims on with drinking wings! The statues of great rain stand still, And the flakes fall like hills.
Sing and strike his heavy haul Toppling up the boatside in a snow of light! His decks are drenched with miracles.
Oh miracle of fishes! The long dead bite! Out of the urn a size of a man Out of the room the weight of his trouble Out of the house that holds a town In the continent of a fossil One by one in dust and shawl, Dry as echoes and insect-faced, His fathers cling to the hand of the girl And the dead hand leads the past, Leads them as children and as air On to the blindly tossing tops; The centuries throw back their hair And the old men sing from newborn lips: Time is bearing another son.
Kill Time! She turns in her pain! The oak is felled in the acorn And the hawk in the egg kills the wren.
He who blew the great fire in And died on a hiss of flames Or walked the earth in the evening Counting the denials of the grains Clings to her drifting hair, and climbs; And he who taught their lips to sing Weeps like the risen sun among The liquid choirs of his tribes.
The rod bends low, divining land, And through the sundered water crawls A garden holding to her hand With birds and animals With men and women and waterfalls Trees cool and dry in the whirlpool of ships And stunned and still on the green, laid veil Sand with legends in its virgin laps And prophets loud on the burned dunes; Insects and valleys hold her thighs hard, Times and places grip her breast bone, She is breaking with seasons and clouds; Round her trailed wrist fresh water weaves, with moving fish and rounded stones Up and down the greater waves A separate river breathes and runs; Strike and sing his catch of fields For the surge is sown with barley, The cattle graze on the covered foam, The hills have footed the waves away, With wild sea fillies and soaking bridles With salty colts and gales in their limbs All the horses of his haul of miracles Gallop through the arched, green farms, Trot and gallop with gulls upon them And thunderbolts in their manes.
O Rome and Sodom To-morrow and London The country tide is cobbled with towns And steeples pierce the cloud on her shoulder And the streets that the fisherman combed When his long-legged flesh was a wind on fire And his loin was a hunting flame Coil from the thoroughfares of her hair And terribly lead him home alive Lead her prodigal home to his terror, The furious ox-killing house of love.
Down, down, down, under the ground, Under the floating villages, Turns the moon-chained and water-wound Metropolis of fishes, There is nothing left of the sea but its sound, Under the earth the loud sea walks, In deathbeds of orchards the boat dies down And the bait is drowned among hayricks, Land, land, land, nothing remains Of the pacing, famous sea but its speech, And into its talkative seven tombs The anchor dives through the floors of a church.
Good-bye, good luck, struck the sun and the moon, To the fisherman lost on the land.
He stands alone in the door of his home, With his long-legged heart in his hand.
Written by Ruth Padel | Create an image from this poem


 (After Pushkin) 
Look at the bare wood hand-waxed floor and long 
White dressing-gown, the good child's writing-desk 
And passionate cold feet
Summoning music of the night - tumbrils, gongs
And gamelans - with one neat pen, one candle
Puttering its life out hour by hour.
Is "Tell Him I love him" never a good idea? You can't wish this Unlived - this world on fire, on storm Alert, till the shepherd's song Outside, some hyper-active yellowhammer, bulbul, Wren, amplified in hills and woods, tell her to bestow A spot of notice on the dawn.
* "I'm writing to you.
Well, that's it, that's everything.
You'll laugh, but you'll pity me too.
I'm ashamed of this.
I meant to keep it quiet.
You'd never have known, if - I wish - I could have seen you once a week.
To mull over, day And night, the things you say, or what we say together.
But word is, you're misogynist.
A philanderer Who says what he doesn't mean.
(That's not how you come across To me.
) Who couldn't give a toss for domestic peace - Only for celebrity and showing off - And won't hang round in a provincial zone Like this.
We don't glitter.
Though we do, Warmly, truly, welcome you.
* "Why did you come? I'd never have set eyes On a star like you, or blundered up against This crazed not-sleeping, hour after hour In the dark.
I might have got the better of My clumsy fury with constraint, my fret For things I lack all lexica and phrase-book art To say.
I might have been a faithful wife; a mother.
But that's all done with.
This is Fate.
Here I am - yours, to the last breath.
I couldn't give my heart to anyone else.
My life till now has been a theorem, to demonstrate How right it is to love you.
This love is love to death.
* "I knew you anyway.
I loved you, I'm afraid, In my sleep.
Your eyes, that denim-lapis, grey-sea- Grey-green blue, that Chinese fold of skin At the inner corner, that shot look Bleeping "vulnerable" under the screensaver charm, Kept me alive.
Every cell, every last gold atom Of your body, was engraved in me Already.
Don't tell me that was dream! When you came in, Staring round in your stripey coat and brocade Vest, I nearly died! I fainted, I was flame! I recognized The you I'd always listened to alone, when I wrote Or tried to wrestle my scatty soul into calm.
* "Wasn't it you who slipped through the transparent Darkness to my bed and whispered love? Aren't you My guardian angel? Or is this arrant Seeming, hallucination, thrown Up by that fly engineering a novel does So beguilingly, or poems? Is this mad? Are there ways of dreaming I don't know? Too bad.
My soul has made its home In you.
I'm here and bare before you: shy, In tears.
But if I didn't heft my whole self up and hold it there - A crack-free mirror - loving you, or if I couldn't share It, set it out in words, I'd die.
* "I'll wait to hear from you.
I must.
Please let me hope.
Give me one look, from eyes I hardly dare To look back at.
Or scupper my dream By scolding me.
I've given you rope To hang me: tell me I'm mistaken.
You're so much in The world; while I just live here, bent on jam And harvest, songs and books.
That's not complaint.
We live such different lives.
So - this is the end.
It's taken All night.
I'm scared to read it back.
I'm faint With shame and fear.
But this is what I am.
My crumpled bed, My words, my open self.
All I can do is trust The whole damn lot of it to you.
" * She sighs.
The paper trembles as she presses down The pink wax seal.
Outside, a milk mist clears From the shimmering valley.
If I were her guardian Angel, I'd divide myself.
One half would holler Don't! Stay on an even keel! Don't dollop over All you are, to a man who'll go to town On his next little fling.
If he's entranced today By the way you finger your silk throat inside your collar, Tomorrow there'll be Olga, Sally, Jane.
But then I'd whisper Go for it, petal.
Nothing's as real as what you write.
His funeral, if he's not up to it.
What we feel Is mortal, and won't come again.
* So cut, weeks later, to an outside shot: the same girl Taking cover ("Dear God, he's here, he's come!") Under fat red gooseberries, glimmering hairy stars: The old, rude bushes she has hide-and-seeked in all Her life, where mother commands the serfs to sing While picking, so they can't hurl The odd gog into their mouths.
No one could spy Her here, not even the sun in its burn-time.
Her cheeks Are simmering fire.
We're talking iridescence, a Red Admiral's last tremble Before the avid schoolboy plunks his net.
Or imagine * A leveret - like the hare you shot, remember? Which ran round screaming like a baby? Only mine is shivering in papery winter corn, While the hunter (as it might be, you) stomps his Hush Puppies through dead brush.
Everything's quiet.
She's waited - how long? - ages: stoking pebbly embers Under the evening samovar, filling The Chinese teapot, sending coils of Lapsang Suchong Floating to the ceiling in the shadows, tracing O and E In the window's black reflection, one finger Tendrilling her own breath on the glass.
Like putting a shell to your ear to hear the sea * When it's really your own red little sparkle, the echo Of marching blood.
She's asking a phantom World of pearled-up mist for proof That her man exists: that gamelans and tumbrils Won't evade her.
But now, among The kitchen garden's rose-haws, mallow, Pernod- Coloured pears, she unhooks herself thorn by thorn For the exit aria.
For fade-out.
Suddenly there he is In the avenue, the man she's written to - Charon Gazing at her with blazing eyes! Darth Vader From Star Wars.
She's trapped, in a house she didn't realize Was burning.
Her letter was a gate to the inferno.
(This poem appeared in Pushkin: An Anthology, ed.
Feinstein, Carcanet 1999)

Written by Ralph Waldo Emerson | Create an image from this poem

Ode to W. H. Channing

Though loath to grieve
The evil time's sole patriot,
I cannot leave
My honied thought
For the priest's cant,
Or statesman's rant.
If I refuse My study for their politique, Which at the best is trick, The angry Muse Puts confusion in my brain.
But who is he that prates Of the culture of mankind, Of better arts and life? Go, blindworm, go, Behold the famous States Harrying Mexico With rifle and with knife! Or who, with accent bolder, Dare praise the freedom-loving mountaineer? I found by thee, O rushing Contoocook! And in thy valleys, Agiochook! The jackals of the negro-holder.
The God who made New Hampshire Taunted the lofty land With little men;-- Small bat and wren House in the oak:-- If earth-fire cleave The upheaved land, and bury the folk, The southern crocodile would grieve.
Virtue palters; Right is hence; Freedom praised, but hid; Funeral eloquence Rattles the coffin-lid.
What boots thy zeal, O glowing friend, That would indignant rend The northland from the south? Wherefore? to what good end? Boston Bay and Bunker Hill Would serve things still;-- Things are of the snake.
The horseman serves the horse, The neatherd serves the neat, The merchant serves the purse, The eater serves his meat; 'T is the day of the chattel, Web to weave, and corn to grind; Things are in the saddle, And ride mankind.
There are two laws discrete, Not reconciled,-- Law for man, and law for thing; The last builds town and fleet, But it runs wild, And doth the man unking.
'T is fit the forest fall, The steep be graded, The mountain tunnelled, The sand shaded, The orchard planted, The glebe tilled, The prairie granted, The steamer built.
Let man serve law for man; Live for friendship, live for love, For truth's and harmony's behoof; The state may follow how it can, As Olympus follows Jove.
Yet do not I implore The wrinkled shopman to my sounding woods, Nor bid the unwilling senator Ask votes of thrushes in the solitudes.
Every one to his chosen work;-- Foolish hands may mix and mar; Wise and sure the issues are.
Round they roll till dark is light, Sex to sex, and even to odd;-- The over-god Who marries Right to Might, Who peoples, unpeoples,-- He who exterminates Races by stronger races, Black by white faces,-- Knows to bring honey Out of the lion; Grafts gentlest scion On pirate and Turk.
The Cossack eats Poland, Like stolen fruit; Her last noble is ruined, Her last poet mute: Straight, into double band The victors divide; Half for freedom strike and stand;-- The astonished Muse finds thousands at her side.
Written by Edward Lear | Create an image from this poem

There Was an Old Man with a Beard

 There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, "It is just as I feared! --
Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard.
Written by Theodore Roethke | Create an image from this poem

Elegy For Jane

 (My student, thrown by a horse)

I remember the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils;
And her quick look, a sidelong pickerel smile;
And how, once startled into talk, the light syllables leaped for her,
And she balanced in the delight of her thought,

A wren, happy, tail into the wind,
Her song trembling the twigs and small branches.
The shade sang with her; The leaves, their whispers turned to kissing, And the mould sang in the bleached valleys under the rose.
Oh, when she was sad, she cast herself down into such a pure depth, Even a father could not find her: Scraping her cheek against straw, Stirring the clearest water.
My sparrow, you are not here, Waiting like a fern, making a spiney shadow.
The sides of wet stones cannot console me, Nor the moss, wound with the last light.
If only I could nudge you from this sleep, My maimed darling, my skittery pigeon.
Over this damp grave I speak the words of my love: I, with no rights in this matter, Neither father nor lover.
Written by Wendell Berry | Create an image from this poem

Sabbaths 2001


He wakes in darkness.
All around are sounds of stones shifting, locks unlocking.
As if some one had lifted away a great weight, light falls on him.
He has been asleep or simply gone.
He has known a long suffering of himself, himself sharpen by the pain of his wound of separation he now no longer minds, for the pain is only himself now, grown small, become a little growing longing joy.
Something teaches him to rise, to stand and move out through the opening the light has made.
He stands on the green hilltop amid the cedars, the skewed stones, the earth all opened doors.
Half blind with light, he traces with a forefinger the moss-grown furrows of his name, hearing among the others one woman's cry.
She is crying and laughing, her voice a stream of silver he seems to see: "Oh William, honey, is it you? Oh!" II Surely it will be for this: the redbud pink, the wild plum white, yellow trout lilies in the morning light, the trees, the pastures turning green.
On the river, quiet at daybreak, the reflections of the trees, as in another world, lie across from shore to shore.
Yes, here is where they will come, the dead, when they rise from the grave.
III White dogwood flowers afloat in leafing woods untrouble my mind.
IV Ask the world to reveal its quietude— not the silence of machines when they are still, but the true quiet by which birdsongs, trees, bellows, snails, clouds, storms become what they are, and are nothing else.
V A mind that has confronted ruin for years Is half or more a ruined mind.
Nightmares Inhabit it, and daily evidence Of the clean country smeared for want of sense, Of freedom slack and dull among the free, Of faith subsumed in idiot luxury, And beauty beggared in the marketplace And clear-eyed wisdom bleary with dispraise.
VI Sit and be still until in the time of no rain you hear beneath the dry wind's commotion in the trees the sound of flowing water among the rocks, a stream unheard before, and you are where breathing is prayer.
VII The wind of the fall is here.
It is everywhere.
It moves every leaf of every tree.
It is the only motion of the river.
Green leaves grow weary of their color.
Now evening too is in the air.
The bright hawks of the day subside.
The owls waken.
Small creatures die because larger creatures are hungry.
How superior to this human confusion of greed and creed, blood and fire.
VIII The question before me, now that I am old, is not how to be dead, which I know from enough practice, but how to be alive, as these worn hills still tell, and some paintings of Paul Cezanne, and this mere singing wren, who thinks he's alive forever, this instant, and may be.
Written by Ralph Waldo Emerson | Create an image from this poem


 The south-wind brings
Life, sunshine, and desire,
And on every mount and meadow
Breathes aromatic fire,
But over the dead he has no power,
The lost, the lost he cannot restore,
And, looking over the hills, I mourn
The darling who shall not return.
I see my empty house, I see my trees repair their boughs, And he, —the wondrous child, Whose silver warble wild Outvalued every pulsing sound Within the air's cerulean round, The hyacinthine boy, for whom Morn well might break, and April bloom, The gracious boy, who did adorn The world whereinto he was born, And by his countenance repay The favor of the loving Day, Has disappeared from the Day's eye; Far and wide she cannot find him, My hopes pursue, they cannot bind him.
Returned this day the south-wind searches And finds young pines and budding birches, But finds not the budding man; Nature who lost him, cannot remake him; Fate let him fall, Fate can't retake him; Nature, Fate, men, him seek in vain.
And whither now, my truant wise and sweet, Oh, whither tend thy feet? I had the right, few days ago, Thy steps to watch, thy place to know; How have I forfeited the right? Hast thou forgot me in a new delight? I hearken for thy household cheer, O eloquent child! Whose voice, an equal messenger, Conveyed thy meaning mild.
What though the pains and joys Whereof it spoke were toys Fitting his age and ken;— Yet fairest dames and bearded men, Who heard the sweet request So gentle, wise, and grave, Bended with joy to his behest, And let the world's affairs go by, Awhile to share his cordial game, Or mend his wicker wagon frame, Still plotting how their hungry ear That winsome voice again might hear, For his lips could well pronounce Words that were persuasions.
Gentlest guardians marked serene His early hope, his liberal mien, Took counsel from his guiding eyes To make this wisdom earthly wise.
Ah! vainly do these eyes recall The school-march, each day's festival, When every morn my bosom glowed To watch the convoy on the road;— The babe in willow wagon closed, With rolling eyes and face composed, With children forward and behind, Like Cupids studiously inclined, And he, the Chieftain, paced beside, The centre of the troop allied, With sunny face of sweet repose, To guard the babe from fancied foes, The little Captain innocent Took the eye with him as he went, Each village senior paused to scan And speak the lovely caravan.
From the window I look out To mark thy beautiful parade Stately marching in cap and coat To some tune by fairies played; A music heard by thee alone To works as noble led thee on.
Now love and pride, alas, in vain, Up and down their glances strain.
The painted sled stands where it stood, The kennel by the corded wood, The gathered sticks to stanch the wall Of the snow-tower, when snow should fall, The ominous hole he dug in the sand, And childhood's castles built or planned.
His daily haunts I well discern, The poultry yard, the shed, the barn, And every inch of garden ground Paced by the blessed feet around, From the road-side to the brook; Whereinto he loved to look.
Step the meek birds where erst they ranged, The wintry garden lies unchanged, The brook into the stream runs on, But the deep-eyed Boy is gone.
On that shaded day, Dark with more clouds than tempests are, When thou didst yield thy innocent breath In bird-like heavings unto death, Night came, and Nature had not thee,— I said, we are mates in misery.
The morrow dawned with needless glow, Each snow-bird chirped, each fowl must crow, Each tramper started,— but the feet Of the most beautiful and sweet Of human youth had left the hill And garden,—they were bound and still, There's not a sparrow or a wren, There's not a blade of autumn grain, Which the four seasons do not tend, And tides of life and increase lend, And every chick of every bird, And weed and rock-moss is preferred.
O ostriches' forgetfulness! O loss of larger in the less! Was there no star that could be sent, No watcher in the firmament, No angel from the countless host, That loiters round the crystal coast, Could stoop to heal that only child, Nature's sweet marvel undefiled, And keep the blossom of the earth, Which all her harvests were not worth? Not mine, I never called thee mine, But nature's heir,— if I repine, And, seeing rashly torn and moved, Not what I made, but what I loved.
Grow early old with grief that then Must to the wastes of nature go,— 'Tis because a general hope Was quenched, and all must doubt and grope For flattering planets seemed to say, This child should ills of ages stay,— By wondrous tongue and guided pen Bring the flown muses back to men.
— Perchance, not he, but nature ailed, The world, and not the infant failed, It was not ripe yet, to sustain A genius of so fine a strain, Who gazed upon the sun and moon As if he came unto his own, And pregnant with his grander thought, Brought the old order into doubt.
Awhile his beauty their beauty tried, They could not feed him, and he died, And wandered backward as in scorn To wait an Æon to be born.
Ill day which made this beauty waste; Plight broken, this high face defaced! Some went and came about the dead, And some in books of solace read, Some to their friends the tidings say, Some went to write, some went to pray, One tarried here, there hurried one, But their heart abode with none.
Covetous death bereaved us all To aggrandize one funeral.
The eager Fate which carried thee Took the largest part of me.
For this losing is true dying, This is lordly man's down-lying, This is slow but sure reclining, Star by star his world resigning.
O child of Paradise! Boy who made dear his father's home In whose deep eyes Men read the welfare of the times to come; I am too much bereft; The world dishonored thou hast left; O truths and natures costly lie; O trusted, broken prophecy! O richest fortune sourly crossed; Born for the future, to the future lost! The deep Heart answered, Weepest thou? Worthier cause for passion wild, If I had not taken the child.
And deemest thou as those who pore With aged eyes short way before? Think'st Beauty vanished from the coast Of matter, and thy darling lost? Taught he not thee, — the man of eld, Whose eyes within his eyes beheld Heaven's numerous hierarchy span The mystic gulf from God to man? To be alone wilt thou begin, When worlds of lovers hem thee in? To-morrow, when the masks shall fall That dizen nature's carnival, The pure shall see, by their own will, Which overflowing love shall fill,— 'Tis not within the force of Fate The fate-conjoined to separate.
But thou, my votary, weepest thou? I gave thee sight, where is it now? I taught thy heart beyond the reach Of ritual, Bible, or of speech; Wrote in thy mind's transparent table As far as the incommunicable; Taught thee each private sign to raise Lit by the supersolar blaze.
Past utterance and past belief, And past the blasphemy of grief, The mysteries of nature's heart,— And though no muse can these impart, Throb thine with nature's throbbing breast, And all is clear from east to west.
I came to thee as to a friend, Dearest, to thee I did not send Tutors, but a joyful eye, Innocence that matched the sky, Lovely locks a form of wonder, Laughter rich as woodland thunder; That thou might'st entertain apart The richest flowering of all art; And, as the great all-loving Day Through smallest chambers takes its way, That thou might'st break thy daily bread With Prophet, Saviour, and head; That thou might'st cherish for thine own The riches of sweet Mary's Son, Boy-Rabbi, Israel's Paragon: And thoughtest thou such guest Would in thy hall take up his rest? Would rushing life forget its laws, Fate's glowing revolution pause? High omens ask diviner guess, Not to be conned to tediousness.
And know, my higher gifts unbind The zone that girds the incarnate mind, When the scanty shores are full With Thought's perilous whirling pool, When frail Nature can no more,— Then the spirit strikes the hour, My servant Death with solving rite Pours finite into infinite.
Wilt thou freeze love's tidal flow, Whose streams through nature circling go? Nail the star struggling to its track On the half-climbed Zodiack? Light is light which radiates, Blood is blood which circulates, Life is life which generates, And many-seeming life is one,— Wilt thou transfix and make it none, Its onward stream too starkly pent In figure, bone, and lineament? Wilt thou uncalled interrogate Talker! the unreplying fate? Nor see the Genius of the whole Ascendant in the private soul, Beckon it when to go and come, Self-announced its hour of doom.
Fair the soul's recess and shrine, Magic-built, to last a season, Masterpiece of love benign! Fairer than expansive reason Whose omen 'tis, and sign.
Wilt thou not ope this heart to know What rainbows teach and sunsets show, Verdict which accumulates From lengthened scroll of human fates, Voice of earth to earth returned, Prayers of heart that inly burned; Saying, what is excellent, As God lives, is permanent Hearts are dust, hearts' loves remain, Heart's love will meet thee again.
Revere the Maker; fetch thine eye Up to His style, and manners of the sky.
Not of adamant and gold Built He heaven stark and cold, No, but a nest of bending reeds, Flowering grass and scented weeds, Or like a traveller's fleeting tent, Or bow above the tempest pent, Built of tears and sacred flames, And virtue reaching to its aims; Built of furtherance and pursuing, Not of spent deeds, but of doing.
Silent rushes the swift Lord Through ruined systems still restored, Broad-sowing, bleak and void to bless, Plants with worlds the wilderness, Waters with tears of ancient sorrow Apples of Eden ripe to-morrow; House and tenant go to ground, Lost in God, in Godhead found.