from "A Sign Seeker"

I mark the months in liveries dank and dry,
     The noontides many-shaped and hued;
     I see the nightfall shades subtrude,
And hear the monotonous hours clang negligently by.

I view the evening bonfires of the sun
     On hills where morning rains have hissed;
     The eyeless countenance of the mist
Pallidly rising when the summer droughts are done.

I have seen the lightning-blade, the leaping star,
     The cauldrons of the sea in storm,
     Have felt the earthquake's lifting arm,
And trodden where abysmal fires and snow-cones are.

I learn to prophesy the hid eclipse,
     The coming of eccentric orbs;
     To mete the dust the sky absorbs,
To weigh the sun, and fix the hour each planet dips.


Though I waste watches framing words to fetter
Some spirit to mine own in clasp and kiss,
Out of the night there looms a sense 'twere better
To fail obtaining whom one fails to miss.

For winning love we win the risk of losing,
And losing love is as one's life were riven;
It cuts like contumely and keen ill-using
To cede what was superfluously given.

Let me then feel no more the fateful thrilling
That devastates the love-worn wooer's frame,
The hot ado of fevered hopes, the chilling
That agonizes disappointed aim!
So may I live no junctive law fulfilling,
And my heart's table bear no woman's name.



I busied myself to find a sure
      Snug hermitage
That should preserve my Love secure
      From the world's rage;
Where no unseemly saturnals,
   Or strident traffic-roars,
Or hum of intervolved cabals
   Should echo at her doors.

I laboured that the diurnal spin
      Of vanities
Should not contrive to suck her in
      By dark degrees,
And cunningly operate to blur
   Sweet teachings I had begun;
And then I went full-heart to her
   To expound the glad deeds done.

She looked at me, and said thereto
      With a pitying smile,
"And THIS is what has busied you
      So long a while?
O poor exhausted one, I see
   You have worn you old and thin
For naught! Those moils you fear for me
   I find most pleasure in!"

The Problem


Shall we conceal the Case, or tell it -
      We who believe the evidence?
   Here and there the watch-towers knell it
      With a sullen significance,
Heard of the few who hearken intently and carry an eagerly upstrained sense.

   Hearts that are happiest hold not by it;
      Better we let, then, the old view reign;
   Since there is peace in it, why decry it?
      Since there is comfort, why disdain?
Note not the pigment the while that the painting determines humanity's joy and pain!

On an invitation to the United States


My ardours for emprize nigh lost
Since Life has bared its bones to me,
I shrink to seek a modern coast
Whose riper times have yet to be;
Where the new regions claim them free
From that long drip of human tears
Which peoples old in tragedy
Have left upon the centuried years.


For, wonning in these ancient lands,
Enchased and lettered as a tomb,
And scored with prints of perished hands,
And chronicled with dates of doom,
Though my own Being bear no bloom
I trace the lives such scenes enshrine,
Give past exemplars present room,
And their experience count as mine.

The Bullfinches

    Brother Bulleys, let us sing
   From the dawn till evening! -
For we know not that we go not
   When the day's pale pinions fold
   Unto those who sang of old.

   When I flew to Blackmoor Vale,
   Whence the green-gowned faeries hail,
Roosting near them I could hear them
   Speak of queenly Nature's ways,
   Means, and moods,--well known to fays.

   All we creatures, nigh and far
   (Said they there), the Mother's are:
Yet she never shows endeavour
   To protect from warrings wild
   Bird or beast she calls her child.

   Busy in her handsome house
   Known as Space, she falls a-drowse;
Yet, in seeming, works on dreaming,
   While beneath her groping hands
   Fiends make havoc in her bands.

   How her hussif'ry succeeds
   She unknows or she unheeds,
All things making for Death's taking!
   --So the green-gowned faeries say
   Living over Blackmoor way.

   Come then, brethren, let us sing,
   From the dawn till evening! -
For we know not that we go not
   When the day's pale pinions fold
   Unto those who sang of old.