The roamer and other poems/Sonnets and Lyrics

1385960The Roamer and Other Poems — Sonnets and LyricsGeorge Edward Woodberry



O kindly house, where time my soul endows
With courage, hope, and patience manifold,
How shall my debt of love to thee be told,
Since first I heard the sweet-voiced robins rouse
The morn among thy ancient apple-boughs?
Here was I nourished on the truths of old,
Here taught against new times to make me bold,
Memory and hope thy door-posts, O dear house!

Heaven's blessing rested on thy dark-gray roof,
And clasped thy children, age to lapsing age,
Birth and the grave thy tale till time's release;
Poverty did not hold from thee aloof;
Of lowly good thou wast the hermitage;
Now falls the evening light. God give thee peace!


Slow sloping to its point pyramidal,
A brown rock rises from the ocean waste;
Seaward, great billows there incessant haste
And to their shoreward brethren flash and call.
I see the vast horizon rise and fall,
As when my blood with many raptures raced;
And on that pointed rock, by heaven embraced,
I see a maiden lifted over all.

As shines the rose above inferior flowers,
So sprang her beauty up, supreme to be;
As comes the rainbow on departing showers,
So bloomed and faded that fair memory;
So stood she "on the top of happy hours,"
And drank the sunrise glory of the sea.


Ever the garden has a spiritual word:
In the slow lapses of unnoticed time
It drops from heaven, or upward learns to climb,
Breathing an earthly sweetness, as a bird
Is in the porches of the morning heard;
So, in the garden, flower to flower will chime,
And with the music thought and feeling rhyme,
And the hushed soul is with new glory stirred.

Beauty is silent,—through the summer day
Sleeps in her gold,—O wondrous sunlit gold,
Frosting the lilies' virginal array!
Green, full-leaved walls the fragrant sculpture hold,
Warm, orient blooms!—how motionless are they—
Speechless—the eternal loveliness untold!


How delicate they stand above the box,
Against the fragile breath of summer seen
Within the garden's walls of emerald green
(Dull cloistral hedges) and tall hollyhocks
Starring the flowery distance! airy flocks
Of veinèd petals hover there, and lean,
Turned earthward, toward us, in the hush and sheen,—
Our mallows, once more in the well-loved walks!

Oh, blest succession of the lengthening years,
That brings again our annual holiday,
And beautifies this season of our tears
With former sights, and the familiar ray,
Shining upon us from above the spheres,
While flower and shrub keep the old heavenly way!

TO A. S.

On receiving His Work on Milton

Georgia! the very name is flower and sun,
And bourgeons like the summer! straight I see
The robins in your china-berry tree,
A rosy host, ere day is well begun,
And the red-headed woodpeckers that run
About the humming poles' telegraphy,
Hunting the fancied worm!—But here, with me,
Your rose-japonica, too soon undone,

Lies dead. Me, in my northern hermitage,
The "dark" and "miry" ways of March confine,
Who once was free of Enna and Palerm:
I sooth the rugged clime with bard and sage,
And mend the sullen fates, this book of thine
My solace, that doth the inward sight confirm.


Picquart, no brighter name on times to be
Thy country raises, nor all Europe vaunts,
Thou star of honor on the breast of France,
Soldier of justice; all men honor thee
Who to false honor would'st not bow the knee,
Nor parley with the time's intolerance;
Thou art of those to whom the whole world grants
The meed of universal memory.

Loyal to more than to thy sabre vows,
Kissed on the sword and hallowed oft with blood;
True to thy land's ideal of equal laws;
Champion of human rights; about thy brows,
Thy battles done, how fair thy laurels bud,
Thou lying dead, a victor in man's cause!


Dizzily dropping, to the gulf I fall,
The bright bolt in my brain!
Vainly upon the heavenly gods I call,
Murmuring a mortal's pain.

Deep under deep receives me, and no wing
Bears up the astonished soul:—
Only the fire-eyed stars have ceased to sing.
And the gray sea to roll.



Hath the lily breathed to the root
What stars from it shall shoot?
What bloom life hath in its fragrant hour,
Hath the seed told the flower?
Hath the dark whispered to the sun
What heaven shall be when day is done?—
Thou Creative Silence strange,
Dumbly bear us, change through change!


Like echoing cliffs above my blood
My senses are; with passion roars
The ear, eyes darken,—life's abud!
But when love ebbs,—Atlantic shores
Sorrow not so when the sea's flood
Back on the sea's heart pours.


When my tiny hands would hold
Sticks and straw, they turned to gold.
Life reverses fairy law,
The wealth I hold turns sticks and straw.
'Tis a cheat, whichever way,
Boy or man, with gold we play.


Rear who will a marble pile!
Of death I know but this:
No rising sun gives back thy smile,
No darkness yields thy kiss.


All flawed in beauty, shorn of fate,
Deep droops yon statue, sad at heart;
Some Greek isle hides his lovely mate,
And robs his form of perfect art.


Love, the sexton, from the sod
Gave me this onyx; prize it, you;
A carven Eros, graved "Adieu!"—
Who breaks the image, finds the god.


Ye songs unknown, unuttered,
That flutter in me unsung,
Would ye had left my bosom
In the days when I was young!

Then had ye flown o'er the sea-waste
And drunk of the outer foam,
Perchance, in the gray of the morning,
Ye had found it,—found it,—home!

Had ye soared in the azure distance,
Had ye cloven the sun, above,
Perchance, in the unknown heaven,
Ye had found it,—unknown love!


My song is not for the old,
Whose day is done, whose blood is cold;
Nor for the safe is it,
Mummies of wealth and wit;
But it shall be understood
Of youth and the great life-lovers,
Lost adventurers and far rovers,
And the eagles of the brood,—
Evokers of diviner powers
Dark in the ether-wave,
Who heap the couch of life with flowers
And line with love the grave.