ERIC MACKAY YEOMAN
[unnumbered page, includes illustration: EDWARD McKAY YEOMAN]
Irrespective of what he might have attained had he lived longer, the name of Eric Mackay Yeoman should be well placed on the list of Canadian writers. He died at the age of twenty-two years, of brain fever, but during the short time that he devoted to literary work he produced poetry of a uniformly lofty character and pure lyric beauty. Throughout there is an unfailing note of sadness, which may be a result of temperament, but possibly of purpose. Writers to whom nothing is poetical that does not contain some element of pathos are on good ground. And to every one who engages in artistic endeavour of any kind, the conviction should come that art consists of paradoxes, that in order to be artistic a thing must have in it some seasoning of tragedy. Grief can rise to a height of supreme beauty. I have seen standing beside an open grave a widow scarcely as yet within the realm of womanhood, with tears welling up in her eyes, and her whole bearing one of infinite grief; and still she presented a vision of exquisite beauty and gave a subtleness of meaning to the laughter of merrymakers in the grove beyond. We see the high lights and smile at the jests and respond to the quickening music of the dance, but the whole thing touches our deeper emotions when we see also the rouge on the cheek and hear later the gasp of despair in the green-room behind the scenes.
Much of this discernment Eric Mackay Yeoman seems to have possessed intuitively. And it is in this respect that we find his poetry more interesting than most new poetry that comes our way. He has as well the poet’s ear and the poet’s eye, and there is also a good tincturing of philosophy and some logic. One would naturally conclude that his tenderest emotions [unnumbered page] had been quite recently peculiarly assaulted, but that is at best no more than a tempting conjecture. At any rate, his poem “Rosalie” can be regarded as a study in grief. There are in this poem some arresting lines; for instance (Stanza IX):
To-morrow they will bear thy form away To lay thee in the silence of the tomb, They will but bear thee into Nature’s sway, That needeth thee for an immortal doom. And if she cherish so thy simple clay, Shall she not save thy spirit’s rarer bloom?
But for sustained excellence, indeed for rare excellence, we turn to “To a Violet” and “Autumn”. In these two poems there are lines worth fixing in even well-stored minds, such as—
“In the high sweetness of thy fragile grace.” And again in— “And flees distraught into the moaning west.”
It is a singular fact, that while the note of sadness dominated Erie Mackay Yeoman’s verse, he wrote and published a humorous short story entitled “The Wooing of the Widow.” This story is so very different from his poetry (being in parts almost grotesque) that one would scarcely regard it as the work of the author of this volume of verse.
Toronto, July 5th, 1910. [page 2]
Dawn on the Hills
Low in the orange east, where buddeth morn, The long moon crescent goes her way serene, Breathing a fading glory to adorn The painted dawn-dusk with her golden sheen. Wan as some quiet, grieving queen she rides, Gilding the grandeur, set before mine eyes, Of lofty mountains, built into the skies, Rude monuments of Chaos, from whose sides, Tinged far away with gloomy amethyst, Gush snowy streams whose foaming liquors roar To gaping caverns full of night, and pour To verdant plains afar in pearly mist. This is my universe, and my frail heart Is centre of it. There, afar below, Where ghostly morn-mists flee away and part, Showing a goodly land, my ways I go, Chartless, pursuing with a childish zest Wraith of reality, ah me! though skilled In lore that every way is vain, each quest A luring void, save as they serve to build Supernatural destiny. Oh, I do stand Upon the edges of eternity, Reckless that Doom hath bent his steps to me, Carving mine own shape with a heedless hand Gifted with master skill. Now bloometh dawn, Ripened to vital splendour-lights that spread Vapours of violet wreathed in gold upon The mountain-tops, and flaming fires of red, And smokes that gush from them. But like the sun, That riseth now upon the world to see What all his care of yesterdays hath done, So shall I rise, when Time hath lifted me, To view the halls of destiny at dawn, And seeking mine own self, with bitter thought And rueful eyes, look forth, and look upon The hapless shape I wrought. [page 3]
Were’t not for thy dear eyes’ pure light And smiles that tenderly beset me, Oh! sunk into my native night, I could forget thee.
The Sweetest Things are First to Die
One morn in a meditative mood I wandered where the flowers grew, And found, beside the green wild-wood, The fairest flow’r I ever knew. Next morn ‘twas dead. “Ah me!” said I, “The sweetest things are first to die.” I had a love; gold was her hair, Her eyes were blue as summer skies. She showed me joy was ev’rywhere— Taught me Time’s wings dropped melodies. But she is dead. “Ay, dead!” I cry, “The sweetest things are first to die.”
Wouldst Thou Be Fairer?
Wouldst thou be fairer set in pomp of thrones, Thy form adorned with wealth of cunning lands?— Purple from Chios, decked with Indian stones, Graven for thee by deft Egyptian hands?— Thy brown head crowned with gold the savage sifts From desert sands where the dread Gryphon dwells? Thy fondling hands enriched with odorous gifts Of Arab perfumes in Red Sea shells? Ah, no!—the sage resolving secret things Shall find his answer in simplicity. Our fairest skies are clear, our sweetest springs. Ev’n so my heart finds all its need in thee,— Loftily simple, ev’n as now you stand, In woodland guise, thy blue gaze on the west, A lily-flower in thy fondling hand, A rose of Canada upon thy breast. [page 4]
Now hushed is all the forestland, Serene with holy rest the glades Where kingdoms of wan flowers expand, And little brooks seek dewy shades, Where the rich verdure hides its wealth Against the creeping shadows’ stealth. And in the Heavens, splendour—drest In crimson tints with gold ornate, Gorgeous in pompous purple state. A cloud comes wandering from the west, Laden with mystic plunder—freight, Stol’n from magicians of the skies, And spends its treasures lavishly In wantonness of revelry, And flaunts its glaring purple guise, And o’er the wondering Heaven strews, And bids the sombre earth behold Its magic smokes of violet hues, That flare, and burst to violent gold. Float to me from the radiant skies Soft violet airs that round me stray, Chased with lost forms and vanished eyes, Rich with loved faces gone away. Oh, sorrow is abroad, and she Hath found some potent witchery, That, hid in evening’s pomp and grace, Revives again with subtle art The withered memories of the heart, And holds me here, in wildern place, Dallying with hands long drawn apart. But fleet, ye faces, from my gaze! O fleet, ye phantoms, to your skies! I would forget dead love and eyes, And all the wealth of perished days. Fleet with your gold and violet blooms, And all remembrance of delight! For I would weep in soothing glooms, And languish here, alone with night. [page 5]
Where Violets Languish
Ah, what avails thine anguish! Tears may not lessen grief. But come where violets languish, And thou shalt have relief. Thou shalt forget thy heart’s distress, Where violets show their purple dress. Yea, what may tears avail! Tears may not lighten woe. But we shall seek some verdant dale Where purple flowers grow. And there, where violets languish, Thou shalt forget thine anguish. We’ll go by way of meadows green, And gather as we go Ripe buttercups with golden sheen, That mongst the grasses grow. And haply in our way shall be A lonely crimson rose for thee. And in some moss grown rocky chair, Where violets are spread, We’ll weave a garland for thy hair, Of purple flowers, and gold, and red. And there, where violets languish, Thou shalt forget thine anguish.
Sometimes I would that thou wert gone Softly into some dim green brave, Where these young eyes,—so blue! so brave!— Might ever sleep serenely on, And weep no more with raging pain, Or sympathy, or see again Dear face wan in death, or trace Woe’s wounds on a beloved face, Or worn forms dying for repose. Ah! pain and grief ev’n now disclose Their clouds upon these blue eyes’ light!— So could I wish them slumbering deep, Tearless forever, wrapt in sleep, Placid as secret haunts of night. [page 6] I would not have thee go from me Until God summoned thee, but oh! If angels came for thee to go, How could I think to weep for thee, Since this too fragile form would rest Forever calm and undistrest, Earth’s burdens left, with all their care, On shoulders strong enough to bear! Oh, I would weep, but not for thee, And but that thou wert lost to me. Could tears find sustenance in my eyes That all thy store of tears was shed, And thy young spirit, angel-led, Was gone to God and Paradise?
Comes Spring again to the cold-plundered earth, With subtle odours and with sweet fresh flowers And brilliant paints, and chorus songs of mirth, To light her mansion, and delight her bowers. And where the sunbeams play in forest hush, Steals forth the dearworthMayflow’r bashfully, Fashioned of milk and faint vermillion’s blush And chosen scent, in pure simplicity. Comp’nies of fragile, purple violets dance In all the green haunts of the stately wold; Rich verdure overspreads the mead’s expanse, Stained with wild flowers, pink, and white and gold. Golden and blue, the simple heav’ns descend, Shrill riotous with winged things’ harmonies, Yet! all the earth with beauty doth resplend, And I alone commune with miseries. Spring’s straying odours sicken all my sense To a narcotic chaos of despair; And little flow’rs breathe forth no influence, And songs seem frantic with ecstatic care; For oh! my heart is weeping-ripe in me, Chilled to a withered thing by sorrow’s frost; And oh! it droops with heavy memory Of a high love it sought, and found, and lost. [page 7]
O welcome thee, Red Evening, faring now From thy bright palaces beyond the west Earthward with quiet pageant to bestow Thy priceless riches, beauty, peace, and rest. O welcome, quiet splendour spread on high! And welcome, pretty stars, whose trembling light Comes to me through the gloom of falling night From thy far stations in the dusky sky. But oh, my love she saith that she can see The hidden beauties come, Red Eve, with thee!— A seraph band, she saith with quiet brow, Of friends she lost, and mourned, and seeth now. Do snowy angels haunt thy crimson halls, Lingering from their lands of long delight? She saith they gather when the dark night falls, To keep fond watch with eyes serene and bright, And looking purely to rosen the sky, She saith they ofttimes weep for what they see, But smile again with thought of destiny. And, this she saith with lips all ruby-dye. That dwell within our native air unseen, But well that in the gloom of mortal lot She hath not eyes to see the shapes serene That dwell within our native air unseen; But well that in the gloom of mortal lot Her heart hath lore to see where eyes may not.
She, Too, Was Gone
She, too, was gone. The wild birds sweetly sang, Rapturing the world with songs of happy lot No note heard I. Entrancing flowers sprang By all my ways; but, lo! I saw them not. [page 8]
What Woman Art Thou?
What woman art thou in the churchyard here, Alone in the even gloom? Oh, I am a woman full of sin, And I lie by my small babe’s tomb. But what woman art thou by a small babe’s tomb Filled long and long ago? Oh, my heart it dies for my small babe’s eyes, And my heart is spent with woe. But what woman art thou that weepest here By a tomb so old and small? Oh, ‘tis many a year since they laid him here, And in sin I have spent them all. But what woman art thou that smilest now By a tomb so old and small? Oh, my small babe’s eyes have come out of the skies, And he smileth down on me. His hands they are pink as the meadow rose, Blue are his eyes like the sea; And his face is bright like the morning light With the love he beareth me. But what woman art thou that weepest now? And why are ye weeping now? Oh, his bright eyes see in their purity The sin-stains on my brow. He dwelleth in God’s dwelling-place, Where but the pure go in; And God shall see the stains on me, And turn me away for my sin. But what woman art thou that smilest now, Dead one the cold, cold sod? Oh, a babe from the skied filled her heart with his eyes, And she’s gone away pure to God. [page 9]
Sing Low, Wild Bird
Sing low, wild bird!—thine is the only sound That stirs the holy hush that broods around The quiet place beneath whose grasses lie The beds of forms gone into dust and death. Blend a low note with the faint west-wind’s sigh, And breathe a dirge for life that perisheth! Sing low, wild bird, and sing a requiem o’er For symphonies of life that are no more!— Laughter of children, and the patient song Of crooning mothers, and the love-hushed tone Of red-lipped lovers, murmuring low and long. Sing low!—their lips are dust, and they are gone. Sing low, wild bird!—they all are sunk beneath These violets that languish into death. Gone to Man’s bourne are they, and secret Doom Hath shown his pathway to their anxious eyes, That haply leads to empty realms of gloom, And haply to proud mansions in the skies.
The Lover’s Epitaph
Lo! When the quiet grave has welcomed me, And tender drawn me to its soothing breast, And spread me feast of soft tranquility, And giv’nme promise of abiding rest: Lo! o’er the little volume of my tomb, Should one remember the unstoried dead? Above me, where perhaps sad flowers bloom, Place me a simple stone to mark my bed. Give me no splendid words of subtle grace, By poet written, and by sage approved; Nay! crown the beauty of my little place With simple words on simple stone: “He loved.” Lo! this shall tell the fable of my days, The fabric mingling joy and anguish wove, Lo! this shall point the winding of my ways, And hope of mercy from the God of Love. [page 10]
Build, build, thy glories, evenings, in the skies, Over the forestland whose splendid leaf Dies in a scarlet agony of grief!— But even as ye build with fond emprise, Dark glooms devour all that ye have wrought.— ‘Twas so we filled life’s voids and vacancies With dear and glorious vanities of thought, Kingdoms of joy, that were but vanities For ruthless glooms to spoil and overthrow, Till now, amidst the wreckage of their themes, Patient and faint, we keep our way, and know That life is but the ruins of our dreams. Fade, fade, wan flowers in the dusk-cold shades! The world was fair with you in perished hours, What time the painted hosts of happy flowers Dwelt in the fields and filled the greenwood glades.— Ev’n so there was a flow’r-like company Dwelt ‘midst the splendours of our hearts a space, Dear needed forms we loved,—ah, vanity! Earth’s ruin spares nor flower nor needed face. And some earth blighted, some were stol’n away By angels gathering for their Paradise, And some we nourished not;—gone, gone are they No more to shine upon our voided eyes. But die, O ruddy evening, sunk in night! And faint, frail flow’rs, that are the night’wind’s prey! Turn not, O faces, vanished far away To grace rich bournes with all your soft delight! Fair things ne’er perish, thought their wanderings Be far and strange; and you were fair.—But lo!— Comes now a phantasy of perished things, Where memory, life’s languorous afterglow, Shows one I loved, soft-eyed, and dazzling-bright With snowy radiance,—that vanisheth Ev’n as I look, and fades where set in night The woodland paints a scarlet face of Death. [page 11]
Here is a violet growing all alone. Far in the dark wood’s heart it hath upgrown, The forest’s only flower. And all about it brown pine-needles lie And giant, gnarled trees tower, And press their green against the quiet sky; And moaning sighs from out the west go by. But all alone the little flower booms, A drop of blue amidst the forest glooms. It is the forest’s child, but yet All different its estate: All single the blue violet, All lone and desolate. The beauty of my love is like this flower, Or like a desert-girl oasal bower, Lonely in excellence, That seems a vision, foreign and apart, To the wan traveller’s sense. And to the kingdom of her mind and heart, The magic Faith hath summoned by his art Chimeric angels out of Paradise, With lore and legend of their native skies. She is a child of Earth, but she Is all unlike the earth: All lonely in sublimity, All desolate in worth.
To A Violet
Violet, when I do look upon thy face, And on the lofty loveliness that lies In the high sweetness of thy fragile grace And in the pale blue beauty of thy guise, Briefly I mark thy charm and darling worth, Thy shape and painting all so delicate; And straight new thoughts do lead me from the earth, And new-known wisdom holds me separate. I look upon thy beauty’s mystery, And judge thee fair, and think no more of thee; For, as I hold thee in my caring hand, New things of earth and heaven I understand. [page 12] O Violet! when I look upon thy face, Visions of a company come to me Of angels ling’ring o’er the earth’s barren space, Floating on white and gold wings grieffully, Grieving that inscient man forgets that those Whom chill Death steals exalted are above. And oh! they weep for all man’s heavy woes, And shed soft tears of sympathy and love. And lo, their sighings fill the painted air, Vain whisp’ring man the vanity of care. And do I hear earth’s dark complaining host Wailing sad symphonies of loved ones lost.
A Spring Evening
A mist lies on the twilit sea, And to the violet sky, It forms a bridge, by which come down Dear visions from on high, But set to guard this mystic path Till thoughts be changed to dreams, The fiery sun’s departing glow With warlike glory gleams, Till when the beauty passes sense, Speaks more to soul than eye, The blood-red glow fades from the sight, Passes into a milder light, And with the coming of the night The last red embers die. Then, with the dying of the day, The bridge of dreams across Come visions, airy as the mist, Of all life’s gain and loss. We see the joys of other days, The sorrows that are past; And through them all how Nature’s hand Shapes out the best at last. We see that though the passions rage Hate, sorrow, joy or love, Nothing in nature ever mars The soul that, scornful of life’s scars, Strives for a calm, like that of stars That shine the mist above. [page 13]
An Evening Reverie
I wandered sadly by a shadowed sea, As darkness triumphed over evening light. My thoughts were of the things that were to be, My soul was kinsman to the sleeping night. When, lo, a wind camewand’ring o’er the deep And passed me with a plaintive, lonely sigh, And wending onward onward moaned, and seemed to weep, As though it had harsh troubles, e’en as I. Methought—“How like man’s life is this sad wind, Like man ‘tis kept from heav’nly realms so fair, It lends its life in darkness, not can find A resting place, a moment free from care. “Yet see! The stars are near to watch his course, To light his path, and to adorn his way. So in man’s life, to vanquish all remorse Are there not lights, that pledge a future day? “Ah yes! for if man’s zenith were to-day Would life be worth its trials, worth its pain? No, no! ‘twould better be to leave the fray, To seek a friendly grave, nor toil again.” And mortal life is but a preface brief— Death follows birth in manner won’drous fleet— A discord harsh, a time of pain and grief. But lo! ‘twill make our after-life more sweet. [page 14]
Where once fresh violets filled the wood with blue, And lavish verdure spread its green around, Red leaves and yellow lie in simple rue, Mingling with dead flow’rs on the barren ground. And in the winds, with lofty grief distrest, The melancholy Autumn sees on Earth Her heritage of beauty lose its worth, And flees distraught into the moaning west; Fleeting from Earth to Paradistic light, With sudden sorrow moved, Might linger sadly in her flashing light, And long for one she loved. And so the husbandman, at close of day, Scanning the portents of the rueful west, Might be beguiled to linger in his way, His heart and Autumn kindred in unrest; And moved to own his days in reckless flight To nakedness forlorn, well might he turn For lore in memory, the shrunk past’s urn, Where records lie of perished things’ delight, Shadows of dimming forms in precious bloom, And faces smiling through the jealous gloom. Then might he take his way, the skies forgot, And portents of the morrow, Knowing alone that rapture filled his lot, And measure of sorrow. [page 15]
O wilderness of luxury! O haven of Humanity! Thou refuge Kingdom of the West, Where Man in flight from man may rest, And, ‘neath thy million azure domes Of wood and prairie-measured sky May throne his kin in generous homes And thrill with zest for high emprise. Fresh Canada; thy vast domains Of mountain, stream and forestland, The verdant vales and boundless plains— Stored by the Guardian Fathers hand With bread in plenteous excess And ores of treasure measureless, Reveal the Eternal Spirit’s plan To nourish man ‘gainst want’s distress. Free from oppression’s groan and tear The hand of God hath laid thee here To wait the needy hand of man. Young Canada! And mayst thou be Mother of Sons well worthy thee, Pure spirited as are thy snows, Harmonious as thy water flows, Sons soaring on the wings of worth Lust-burnt for lofty Virtue’s spoil, Strength driven emperors of earth, Eager for plunder, rent from toil: And may they strive in quietude Till grandly regal thou mayst stand, Young Empress of an Earth renewed, Where Man and God go hand in hand. And may they, with their hearts and eyes, Follow thy mountains to the skies, And, gazing in their footsteps, scan The message in the flower that dies That, Earth subliming, every deed O’er tranquil paths of love may lead Nearer to God and nearer Man. [page 16]
My step shall not awake thee, Rosalie, Who liest here, all white, and cold, and dead I missed thee when the evening turned to red, And came to weep awhile for me and thee. I came to muse upon thy sleep, and see, Laid ‘midst cold flowers on its costly bed, Thy precious form, whose rosy life hath fled, Which I have loved, and now is lost to me. What shall I do without thee, sleeping one? How may I go my Earthly way alone? Oh, thou wast everything to me, and oh! ‘Tis only left to me dimly know, That, when I go to death, as thou art gone, Our lives will meet upon the way I go.
Oh, haply in the Heavens red with eve There is the vourne our hearts have faintly sought, Where dwelleth God we have not known nor thought, In Paradise our hearts may not conceive. Oh, haply substance angels flight and cleave Skies of calm pales of potent beauty wrought, Heirs of the fate our sacred lore hath taught, But we have been too sapient to believe. Haply thou’rt there, my dead;—but I that mourn May only know that thou I see art dead, And fated to a joyless Earthenbourne, That waiting is beneath the Heavens’ red, To give thy form a lifeless final bed, That buttercups and daisies shall adorn.
Ah, we have wandered oft where beauty lies, ‘Mongst purple violets dancing on the leas, And lakes, like silver mirrors ‘midst the trees, Searching the wild rose in her costly guise,— Thou fresh as dawn, light gushing from thine eyes, And mingling with the sun’s gold radiancies, That shone upon the painted flower seas From out the Heaven-girt cavern of the skies. Now I am wandering by a dismal shore That lay across our pathway, all unseen, [page 17] And as we gathered flowers in precious store, And I mused sweetly on thy lightsome mien, And doted on thy loveliness serene, Gulfed thee in seas of night for evermore.
We are as autumn flowers that faint beneath The need of influences that are gone, And wilting ‘midst their dead, forlorn and wan, List for Death’s whisper in the night-wind’s breath, That withereth wantonly and scattereth Their needed kith, and leaveth them alone, To fade awhile, and darkly languish on, Desolate waiting for the guide of Death. Thou wast a flower chilled in summer time, A violet broken in its fragile prime. Frail with its beauty, strengthless with its grace. Thou wast a flower in an unnative clime, That Death upgathered in his chill embrace, And aptly bore unto a fitter place.
Did angels hear thy moaning in their skies? And did they haste to soothe thine agony, And cheer thine anxious heart with power to see Their waiting lovely shapes and gentle eyes? And oh! when thou wast dead, did they uprise, And mounting swiftly, soar away with thee, And bear thee, in thy mad felicity, Into the farforth realms of Paradise? O holy Faith, could we forego our fears, Believing when thy golden lamps disclose The waiting bliss of Paradisic spheres, And lovely angels grieving for our throes, And gentle Jesus heedful of our woes,— Death were a spring of raptures, not of tears.
Bright images of thee will fill my gaze, Loosing my tears, where’er my footsteps go Amidst our wonted walks, where flowers grow That knew our love, or in our woodland ways. Each scene, invoking Memory’s fond displays, Shall paint thee in its empty midst, and show, Throbbing with rosen tint and living glow, [page 18] A phantasy of thee and perished days. But let my heart weep for its dark distress, When bright remembrance haunts its emptiness,— It is of Earth, and Earth hath no relief. Yet let my wiser spirit, half-divine, Fluttering a little with its hope and grief, Weep for its tears, but joy that joy is thine.
I would not choose a marble tomb for thee, With couch of carven gold and amethyst, Ornate with Indian stones that brightly glist, And gleaming walls encrust with jewelry; Nor cell adorned with splendours vanity, Myrrh jars gemmed with rare pearls with gorgeous mist, Or chiselled ivory vases that subsist Flowing ripe violets out of Italy. For God hath no delight in vain display, And Time no heart to let the fair endure, Nor spoiling thing an eye for garniture. So to a simple grave of humble clay, With my rose-blooms, and milken lilies pure, And thine own beauty, go thy fatal way!
To-morrow they shall bear away my dead, And give her to the spoiling Earth’s embrace, And hide her beauty in an hideous place, Alone and unprotected from its dread. And she shall lie upon an hateful bed, Where only spoiling things may see her grace, And the white beauty of her sleeping face, That hath not smiled since her young spirit fled. Her bed shall be a pit of vile decay, Shut in with Destiny’s devouring blight, Where horrid things, and creatures of the night Shall make a loathsome banquet of her clay; And but a little mete of dust shall stay, Of all her store of beauty and delight.
Oh, though the patient worm devour thee, He toils for Nature, that with jealous heed, Shall gather up thy dust to serve her need, And meet her hungry realm’s necessity. [page 19] And thou shalt mix with earth, and air, and sea,— Yea, haply when my elder footsteps lead Amidst our pathways in the flowered mead, Thy form I worshipped there shall living be. To-morrow when they bear thy form away, To lay thee in the silence of the tomb, They will but bear thee into Nature’s sway, That needeth thee for an immortal doom. And if she cherish so thy simple clay, Shall she not save thy spirit’s rarer bloom?
Beyond the black substantial heart of night, O’er troubled spheres where flickering planets flare, And dying suns emit their pallid glare, Whilst ghastly mists enshroud and mock their plight,— Where hurtling stars crash in their bursting might, And rumbling space forth-vomits worlds that blare And roar to doom through stagnant gulfs of air, Whilst shrieking whirlwinds join their hideous flight: Since things as wonderful to understand In Earth’s familiar regions God hath wrought, I dare to believe there is an azure land, Where bloom our dead in beauties all unthought, With senses new they endlessly employ To know its pleasant life and deathless joy.
Dead Rosalie, beyond the regions bright Where the bursting suns impel their crystal blaze And snowy flames into the cosmic haze,— Above the zones where painted lightnings fight, Flashing and battling in ecstatic might, Casting their gorgeous flames in vast displays,— And yet beyond where young suns hold their sways, Whilst worlds swirl round to drink their virgin light: I have a faith there is a kingdom fair, Where thou art watching with joy-flashing eyes Companies of florid angels that uprise With splendrous flighting in the tranquil air, Chanting their songs of love that never dies, And bliss that springs eternal everywhere. [page 20]
Last night when I came to thee in despair, And put wan lilies I had searched for thee In thy chill hand, and kissed thee fearfully, And wove a rose-bloom in thy dusky hair, I searched thy face, to find some message there; But oh! I saw Death’s void and vacancy, And horrid loveliness, that frighted me, It seemed so pallid in the midnight air. And suddenly my vision seemed to rend Thy shroud of mystery, and, awed, survey The dusk of carnal death upon thy clay, And a white dawn with God wrapt in its blend, Which was so hallowed that I sank and lay Weeping with fear that I could not comprehend.
Oh, haste, ye seraph hands, with mastery, To cast your roaring organ chords about! Ye trumpets, send a joyful thunder out! And scream, ye violins, in ecstasy! Oh sound, ye harps, in an exalted key! And let the sons of God send forth a shout, To swell the mighty pealing triumph rout, And shake all Heaven with crashing symphony! Mark ye the pearly dawn that shines afar, And writhing silver smokes that there appear, Wreathing a beauty gleaming like a star! Oh, mark a glistening majesty draw near!— My love comes to ye in a triumph-car, With God her guide, and Death her charioteer.
I have a friend in Heaven that shall control My wanderings with her angel hand, and feed My heart with comfort in her faithful heed, And mix her tears with mine, and soft console My feeble spirits haunting woe and dole. And she shall watch beside me in my need, And ward me with her snowy wings, and lead My footsteps gently to their destined goal. Surely there is no sorrow;— she hath passed Into a quiet realm, to watch and wait My spirit’s passing to its mighty fate, Secure forever from Earth’s icy blast, She conneth, waiting in an high estate, Where she and I and love shall dwell at last. [page 21]
Make song, ye faith-heard harps, in sweet unrest! Doubt’s ruddy triumph-fires are flickering wan. Faith is a rock that sorrows burst upon, And faith and life have blended in my breast. What fear is there that shall my heart invest? Destiny is a light, and Death a dawn. I shall endure when Earth and Pain are gone, To live a love that nothing shall molest. The light of truth hath frightened sorrow hence, And she hath vanished with her sable hood, To night’s recesses, where her influence May amply yield her sodden hearts for food, And fill her drinking-cup of ebon-wood At lightless eyes that gush their opulence.
List ye!—the hollow withered Earth shall burst, And with it all the ponderous spheres that thrive Round busy suns that hang in air, and give Their potent nourishment, shall be dispersed, And showered to ruin with the life they nursed, In kindred wreck; and but the night shall live, The sepulchre of worlds, that shall survive To hold the quiet reign it held at first. Yea, but what murderous might shall wreck or stay My shapeless soul in its immortal course? What ruining hand of time shall find a prey In my unsubstanced soul? What puissant force Dare stop my life in its appointed way, Kin of the Builder, summoned to the Source?
Hark! hark, my dead, I will rejoice for thee; It meeter is to weep that here remain. Thy tears are spent, and vanished is their stain. Thine eyes are closed top Earth’s harsh tragedy. Oh, thou art gone away with Destiny, And now shalt never love and lose again. Thou art beyond the withering grasp of pain. Remote from all that pangs mortality. Oh, mighty Fate hath called her child away, And secret Death hath loosed from her clay; And she hath gone into the peopled skies, Queen of an heritage in Paradise, Home with her spirit’s kin, for aye and aye, That Earth kept hidden from her trustful eyes. [page 22]