The Radiant Road
Author of “Tangled in Stars,” etc.
Richard G. Badger
The Gorham Press
Copyright, 1903, by Ethelwyn Wetherald
The Gorham Press
Boston, U. S. A.
To A. S. M.
(“The Princess Alice”)
Who has warmed with the radiance of her spirit so many roads in life, this little book is affectionately inscribed.
THE RADIANT ROAD
There is a radiant road that lies ‘Neath sombre, starred, or luminous skies, And every sky is deep with meaning, And big with hints of paradise. Sometimes by fields of youth it burns, Or up some strenuous steep it yearns, Or moves through Memory’s haunted woodland, Or to Love’s dreamful stream returns. Whatever ills it struggles through, Or rocks and snares be thick or few, A gleam of some celestial splendor. Shows in its every drop of dew. Ah, fellow-traveler, who reads This slender rhyme and little heeds, ‘Tis we who tread that radiant highway That to a larger radiance leads. We who in doubt and sadness strive, Whose earthy thoughts at earth arrive, Would we could feel with lifted spirit How blest a fate to be alive. [page 7]
COME, O SPRING!
Come, O Spring! unpack thy leaves, Flood the boughs and flush the gloom; Brush the cheek of him who grieves With a branch of apple-bloom. Mock at care with all thy birds, Pierce despair with all thy beams, Write upon my heart the words For the music of thy streams.
The little tree I planted out And often muse upon, May be alive to grow and thrive And out into the sunlight strive, When I am dead and gone. So it shall be my legacy To toilers in the sun. So sweet its shade, each man and maid May be induced to take a spade And plant another one. [page 8]
MY GUARDIAN ANGEL
When from my task I fain would steal, And into vacuous languor slip, With inward bleeding then I feel My guardian angel’s whip. Or when to empty revelry I give my spirit, though it sears And shames that inner self, I see My guardian angel’s tears. Or when I yield to grief, or fear, Or scorn, or say that life is chaff, Blown by an idle wind, I hear My guardian angel’s laugh.
THE SCHOOL OF PAIN
This is the hard school kept by Pain, With pupils sad and white: While some shed tears like falling rain From dreary morn till night, Some knit the brow and clench the fist, And fill the heart with hate; And some cross languid wrist on wrist And say Pain is their fate. But those that study very hard, And learn that Pain can bless, Are sent out in a leafy yard To play with Happiness. [page 9]
Poverty bought our little lot, Flooded with daisy blooms; Poverty built our little cot, And furnished all its rooms. Yet Peace leans over Labor’s chair, Joys at the fireside throng, While up and down on Poverty’s stair Love sings the whole day long.
I talked with you to-day, all three, Two of you lurked unseen: Yourself, the boy you used to be, And the man you might have been. You said that hopes to dead leaves turned, That love was but a dream; Ambition soon to ashes burned, Joy was a fleeting gleam. You never saw that constantly They smiled at you unseen— The ardent boy you used to be, And the man you might have been. [page 10]
Angel of Youth, how swift you flew! Perhaps you’re worth a sigh. Angel of Love, good-bye to you— Good-bye! Good-bye! Angel of Work, your sweet demand My soul enliveneth, Till on my hands you lay your hand, Angel of Death!
THE WHITE GIFTS
These are thy gifts, O Life:
A white frost on the hair,
And a wintry whiteness on the cheek
That once was red and fair.
These are thy gifts, O Love:
A white frost on the veins,
And a deep-snow silence on the soul,
Where once were fiery pains.
And thy great gifts, O Death,
Are in the frost-bound frame,
The ice-locked lips, the white, white peace
That is too deep for name. [page 11]
THE HOUSE WE USED TO LIVE IN
The house we used to live in looks at us
So wistfully as we go driving by.
The wind that makes its lone tree murmurous
Flies swiftly after with entreating sigh.
“Come back, come back,” we hear it low implore,
“Lift up the grass-choked gate, the earth-stained door,
And enter in your childhood’s home once more.”
Ah, no, let us make merry with light speech
Of newer days, and thrust the past aside.
Close to that door the baby used to reach
The knob and play with it — before he died.
He used to sleep on the broad window-sill,
A sunbeam on his curls. No, not that hill,
This level road. Drive fast—oh, faster still!
How small it was! Before the birds have grown
They lie so warmly in one tiny nest;
But all the world is theirs when they are flown,
And foreign roofs replace the mother’s breast.
Ah, well, God careth. See, before us now,
The ampler home beneath its stately bough.
Lift up the saddened heart and clear the brow.
For in that empty nest beyond the hill
Are blessed shadows at immortal ease:
The sun-crowned baby on the window-sill,
The happy children underneath the trees.
Old house, look not so piteous! thou art
Of larger lives the very sweetest part,
The first love of the unforgetting heart. [page 12]
Unto my friends I give my thoughts, Unto my God my soul, Unto my foe I leave my love — That is of life the whole. Nay, there is something — a trifle — left; Who shall receive this dower? See, Earth Mother, a handful of dust — Turn it into a flower.
TO THE MARK
To the mark goes the ship, Bird and boat and booming train; To the mark go eye and lip Deeply loved that love again. To the mark the arrow sings, Planets move and rains descend; To the mark the hammer rings, To the mark speaks friend with friend. To the mark goes axe and plow. Shame upon thy listless aim If it glance aside, and thou Fail to give thy work thy name. [page 13]
WHEN WE CEASE TO TOIL AND SUFFER
When we cease to toil and suffer and beneath the falling leaves, Take the long, long sleep that comes to all, Will an angel come to comfort every soul that sits and grieves, With a message clear as writing on a wall; Saying, “She that passed away, though her feet were made of clay, Bore a heart as chaste as gold; Though she wore the common yoke, every syllable she spoke Was uplifting, love-controlled. No indifference or disdain kept her free from other’s pain, Life was precious to her — every drop; For the querulous complaint, for the breath of scandal faint, She had never time to stop; She has gone, but still her face, like a sunbeam, haunts the place, And the memory of her foot upon the stair, Like a breeze upon the brow, like a perfume from a bough, Puts an end to sorrow, mourning and despair.” When the silent voices call, and the days and years shall fall, Silent fall, like the leaves upon the lea, Will the angel say such words of you and me? [page 14]
A Failure, who had ne’er achieved Self victory, at last lay dead. “Poor Failure!” thus his neighbors grieved. “Poor miserable wretch,” they said, “His weakness was the worst of crimes, He failed at least a thousand times.” Meanwhile the Failure gave to God His vain attempts. Remorsefully And prostrate on the skyey sod, “I failed a thousand times,” said he. “Welcome!” rang out the heavenly chimes, “He strove—he strove a thousand times.”
O ardent youth who covets truth, And follows its decrees, Remember this: whatever bliss Awaits thee, ‘tis not ease; No, ne’er shalt thou find ease. O loving heart, where’er thou art, The tumult in the vein And in the soul is not the whole Of life. For thee is pain; No love but hath its pain. O ye who strive, the fates that drive You forward in your quest, Will give in strife your deepest life And not in empty rest; No joy for you in rest. [page 15]
On one side stands the world-destroyer, Death, And on the other, oh, most piteous strife, An infant with a rose leaf’s look and breath, A baby fighting for its little life. Death hath seen much of anguish, dull and wild, And terrible and sharp-edged as a knife; But this might move e’en Death, this stricken child, This baby struggling for its little life.
SOUL AND BODY
The body says, “I am thirsty,” The body says, “I am cold,” The body says, “I am weary,” And last of all, “I am old.” And for its thirst there is water, And shelter warm in the blast, And for its ache there is slumber; But it dies, it dies at last. But I am a soul, please heaven, And though I freeze in my cage, Or burn in a sleepless fever, I shall live untouched of age. [page 16]
TO A YOUNG CHILD
Sweet infant, lately born, Almost I envy you Your little heart unworn, Your little senses new. You sleep and sleep—the spell Of sleep is like a chain; Ah, once I slept as well, So shall I sleep again! Soon, soon your cup of life Shall run in wine and foam; And afterward come strife, And hurts, and thoughts of home. Your first act on this earth — This vale of tears and mist — Was but to wail your birth, Poor infant pessimist! My last act ere I die, When fades the final mile, And fails the final sigh, I think will be to smile. But should you linger near That happy smile to see, I truly hope, my dear, You will not envy me. [page 17]
Beautiful body and beautiful soul, They met on the street one day. And the beautiful spirit’s compassion stole Through her ugly eyes of gray; And the dark soul’s pity showed its face Through her lovely eyes of blue; But to help each other’s evil case Was out of their power to do.
A LINE FROM EMERSON
To thy soul’s highest instincts O be true! Though thick around thy heaven-girt solitude The earth’s low aims, low thoughts, low wants shall teem. The myriad voices of the world shall sue With scorn, persuasive wile, or clamors rude. “But thou, God’s darling, heed thy private dream!” [page 18]
For strength we ask For ten thousand times repeated task, The endless smallnesses of every day. No, not to lay My life down in the cause I cherish most. That were too easy. But whate’er it cost, To fail no more In gentleness toward the ungentle, nor In love toward the unlovely, and to give Each day I live, To every hour with outstretched hand its meed Of not-to-be-regretted thought or deed.
We must work to live, Not body-life alone but soul-life. If to our work ourselves we do not give, Our thoughts, our aspirations, and our whole life, Then days become a torture, moments wound, The lightest hours are leaden at the core, And oftentimes we hear that awful sound — Time’s ocean, with its spirit-crushing roar. [page 19]
THE BRIDE OF DEATH
But tell us of the bride, we said. “So one with him she seemed to be, The bridegroom’s kiss upon her lips Lay almost visibly. Her dress? Oh, roses, roses white, That heaped the hands, the neck, the breast Of her the whitest rose of all That ever bridegroom pressed. A glad look? Yea, the raptured look Of one that drops from out her slim, Sweet hands all other gifts of life To hold them out to him. Her dower? She brought him nothing save Her loveliness, her life, her breath; He gave her wealth. And title? Yea, The old, old name of Death.”
PITY ME NOT
Pity me not: it makes me pitiable. Grieve not for me: ‘twill set me grieving, too. Come not forbodingly, but courage-full, And speak the shining word that’s strong and true. If you would have me fearless, have no fears; If you would have me light and sorrow-free, Then give your steps the music of the spheres, Make your eye steadfast as eternity. [page 20]
Unto the diamond with a flaw The perfect pebble spoke: “Alas, poor sister, some great law Of heaven you have broke, “Since Imperfection’s curse I see Whene’er your form I view; But cheer up! Some day you may be A perfect pebble, too.”
In the far deeps of consciousness, Something that lies profoundly sleeping Awakes to life beneath the stress Of heart-sore weeping. Some certainty, some final strength, From which there can be no appealing, An inward sureness that at length Shall work our healing. How strange it is! The dark, dark path That seems to lead to blackness only, Will surely bring us peace. It hath Its angel lonely, Who at the parting of the ways Awaits us, for our grieving clearer, And to our dulled, earth-blinded gaze Brings heaven nearer. [page 21]
An average man awoke one night, And thought of his past in the pale moonlight; At times he muttered, at times he moaned, And once he very distinctly groaned, At which his guardian spirit inquired What secret cause this dole inspired. “Alas, why ask? I’m thinking,” said he, “About the people I used to be. “There’s the simpleton I was when — well, It really would hardly do to tell; And the unutterable ass I was when — but we’ll let that pass; And the awful idiot I was when — No, don’t let’s speak of that again; And the inconceivable fool I made Of myself when — why don’t memories fade, Or drown, or fly, or die in a hole Instead of eternally burning the soul? But at any rate, you now can see Why I mourn o’er the people I used to be.” The angel smiled with as undefiled A glance as that of a little child; And said, “I am musing happily About the people you’re going to be: The soul that has learned to break its chains, The heart grown tenderer through its pains, The mind made richer for its thought, The character remorse has wrought To far undreamed capacities, The will that sits, a king, at ease. [page 22] Nay, marvel not for I plainly see And joy in the people you’re going to be.” The average man felt a purer light About his soul than the moon-ray bright. For once no evil spirit jeered And the average man was strangely cheered.
There came a little blind boy to steal my heart away,
Then said I, “You little blind boy, I’ll have to say you nay;
For I store my honey in it,
And I keep my money in it,
And I need it every minute of the day.”
He stole it, did the blind boy, in spite of all my wrath,
But surely she that hath not hath more than she that hath;
For the air is sweet with honey,
And the earth is rich with money,
And the twain of them make sunny all my path.
And if any sage should ask of me with corrugated brow,
Why I do not wish my heart back, I only could avow
It’s because a little money,
And a small amount of honey,
Would seem rather sadly funny to me now. [page 23]
TO MY FRIEND
Forget not, dearest, when thou goes On high or homely tasks intent, Through summer blooms or winter snows With thee my thoughts are blent. That howso harsh the city’s din, Or solitary seem thy place, Thou still art folded safely in My brooding heart’s embrace.
A good soul once, not without qualms, Knocked at the gates eternal, And begged of Lazarus an alms For use in realms infernal. “The rich man of whose crumbs you ate Needs water. O surprise him With just one drop.” He smiled sedate: “I fear ‘twould pauperize him; “And then, you know, I can’t revoke My rule, which is unswerving, I never give to wealthy folk Unless they are deserving.” [page 24]
LIPS AND EYES
As I passed her house I thought I would call and take her by surprise. “Why, how do you do?” said her lovely lips; “what kept you away?” asked her eyes. “I doubted my welcome,” I sadly said, and spoke without disguise. “Are you sure of it now?” asked her laughing lips, “You know you are sure,” said the eyes. “I have tried my utmost and more,” I said, “to stifle my heart’s vain cries;” “It’s a serious case,” said the careless lips; “it is for us,” said the eyes. Your cruel words dug the grave of Hope, and in Hope’s grave Love lies;” “White lies or black?” asked the scoffing lips, “Oh, piteous sight,” said the eyes. “But now I must go, for I sail to-night, and time unpitying flies;” “Don’t let me keep you,” exclaimed the lips; “do let us keep you,” the eyes. She gave me a cold, cold hand to take, and we said our last good-byes; And then as I feared her chilly lips I kissed her on the eyes. A man can hear two languages at once if he only tries; “I don’t see how you dare,” said the lips; “but we see,” said the eyes. [page 25]
THE POET’S SPRING
‘Don’t send me any spring poems after February 21st.” — Letter from an Editor.
When January’s icy beard Shakes like a rattling bough, The poet’s heart is sweetly cheered, ‘Tis springtime with him now. The streamlets flow, the warm winds ebb, Although the pipes have burst, For summer “pomes” are due on February 21st. The yellow dandelions gild The snowdrifts eight feet high, The bluebird’s song of joy is spilled Beneath an iron sky. How sweet on zero days the web Of fancies, poet-nursed, And sad that blossoms fade on February 21st. Ah, would I were an editor, While wintry blasts endure, A daisy time with daisy rhyme I’d have, you may be sure. I’d bathe in buttercups ad lib, And all my buds should burst And bloom till long long after February 21st. [page 26]
THE RICH MR. SMITH
As past the magnificent palace we bowled,
The driver explained this exhibit in gold
Was made by the millionaire, Everard Smith,
A man whom Success was on pleasant terms with.
But while we exclaimed and admired and oh, oh’d,
Till the horses were turned at the bend of the road,
He corrected himself: “It belongs to his kith
And his kin; he is now the late Mr. Smith.”
Somehow that word “late” struck us cold as the chill
Of a new-opened grave when the night-wind is still,
And it made wealth and splendor the veriest myth,
As we signed in a whisper, “Oh, poor Mr. Smith.”
WHEN TIME TURNS
When ashes go back to fire, And the cataract to the upper stream, And fulfillment to desire, And the rugged fact to airy dream, Then shall dead youth awake from its long sleep, And life a tall, slim, silver fountain leap. When the mount becomes a slope, And the dead leaf a pointed bud, And memory is hope, And dying limbs bear dancing blood, Then shall young love—then shall young love return, And the old love tales make the spirit burn. [page 27]
HONEY AND SALT
Rose-leaf damsel, tell me this— You with your seventeen years— How much honey is in a kiss, And how much salt in tears? “Nay,” she said, “such words, I wis, Are not for my maiden ears. How should I know the sweet of a kiss Or the bitterness of tears?” White-haired woman, whose grief and bliss Overrun seventy years, Tell me true, does the sweet of a kiss Outweigh the bitter of tears? “Yes,” she said, “but the bitterness Enmixed with the sweet appears: My life’s most tender and treasured kiss Is kept in the brine of tears.”
THE DEAD FACE
The pale moon and the pale, pale face Come back again to me; The pale moon to its skyey place, And the face to memory. Out of the darkness they arise, And with the dawn depart— The moon that lights the empty skies, The face that lights my heart. [page 28]
THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE THORN
A nightingale quite forlorn Thus made her plaint to the morn: “I’ve hunted in vain,” ran the pitiful strain, “And I can’t find a sign of a thorn. There’s nothing to make me sad, There’s not a thorn to be had, All the rest of my years” — here she burst into tears — “I’ll have to be merry and glad. I always sing my best When a cruel thorn is pressed (So my friends have said and I’ve frequently read) Quite close to my tender breast. O birds with grievances great, O men with grievances small, Think what it would be, if you, like me, Had never a grievance at all!” The moral, my little dear, Is quite remarkably clear; When lessons are long and things go wrong, And everyone’s acting queer, Don’t murmur and bewail, Don’t rue the day you were born, But think of the poor, poor nightingale, Who hadn’t a sign of a thorn. [page 29]
THE HAUNTED ROOM
The sign on his heart read, “Room to Let,” And I thought I would just look through; The location was good, terms fair, and yet I feared it would hardly do; For while I inspected the walls and floor And furnishings of the heart, A ghost came in at the bolted door And gave me a sort of a start. A ghost of a girl with a movement frail As a deep-grassed stream. Her face Like a moon ray wandered, ah, how pale, In the glow of that rosy place.
THE MOONLIT RIVER
Dear other self, whose love is more to me
Than to a fevered soul are sudden gleams
In desert wastes of swiftly flowing streams,
In this drear land my spirit faints for thee.
Far off across the empty miles I see
Thy radiant face; its tender yearning seems
A moonlit river that, within my dreams,
Flows on and on into eternity.
My glad soul hastens to the river side,
And launches forth. Oh, joy beyond compare,
To feel the heavenly winds that blowing wide,
Fill the white sail with an ethereal air,
To see within the tremulous deep tide
That all the stars of God are mirrored there. [page 30]
LOVE AND POVERTY
“When Poverty comes in at the door Love flies out of the window.”
“O do not from the window fly,” Said Poverty to Love, “But to my bosom come and I Will keep you there, my dove. “My harshness needs your gentleness, My grief your tender tone, Your breath would bless my spirit as A rose-vine wreathes a stone.” So sweet Love flew to Poverty; She blest him heart and head. When lo, he vanished utterly And Wealth stood in his stead. And that is why, with smiling air, The ancient stories tell That Poverty and Love did ne’er Beneath the same roof dwell. [page 31]
THE RED ROSE
What is that on your breast, my lady? Burning — with lips apart? “Oh, that is a rose, The fairest that grows, And its thorn is in my heart.” Why are its lips so red, my lady? “I for its sake have bled; My life-blood glows In the life of the rose, Therefore its lips are red.” Why is its breath so sweet, my lady? Hasting my pulse’s beat. “My deep love flows Through the lips of the rose, Therefore its breath is sweet.” Why does it wither and die, my lady? “There is the stinging smart: The red rose dies, But forever lies That cruel thorn in my heart.” [page 32]
WHEN I AM WEARIEST
O love who comes when I am weariest,
And lifts my burden from me by a word,
Draw not too near, for as a wounded bird
Droops blindly to the shelter of its nest,
So would I feel my way unto thy breast.
Ah, why are God’s best gifts on me conferred?
The transport of the heart, the spirit stirred
Yet softened, and this absolute sweet rest.
The dark and empty-handed day sets sail
On ruddy waves of sunset, leaving this
Dear joy beyond all power to conceal,
All power to give ut’trance. What avail
Dim words? You bring me all things save the bliss
Of knowing how to tell the bliss I feel.
Good-bye, my love; though multitudes of years
And miles and faces come between us twain,
Though I should never hear your voice again,
Still are you mine, mine, mine! Not by my tears —
You never made them flow; nor by my fears,
For I was fearless born; but by the rain
Of joys that turned to seas of sunny grain
This heart that showed aforetime slender spears.
Now on my clouded day of life shall come
No loss. The streams of gold that poured from suns
Unseen, have turned to gold this harvest heart;
I am all sunlight-colored, and the sum
Of by-gone happiness that through me runs
Will make you mine forever, though apart. [page 33]
Love has a thousand phases. Oftentimes
For very joy of her own life she weeps;
Or like a timid, wistful child she creeps
To sheltering arms; or like a spirit climbs
The white heights scaled by poets in their rhymes—
Imagination’s lone and splendid steeps—
Or drifts with idle oar upon the deeps
Of her own soul to undiscovered climes.
Hers is the rapture of the dying saint,
The exultation of the mother when
Upon her breast her first-born faintly stirs
For the first time; and every morn doth paint
Upon each rock and tree and stream and glen,
Some inextinguishable look of hers.
AUGUST IN NOVEMBER
On this bleak evening, pacing to and fro
The silent rooms beneath this lonely roof,
Noting the echo of a distant hoof,
Or the November winds that wildly blow,
One thought pursues me whereso’er I go —
As close entwined with me as warp to woof —
Dear love, no power can hold our hearts aloof,
Because I love you so! I love you so!
To-night your shadowy form to me is real,
As when your visible presence made more blue
The August sky and turned to song its rain.
Gone is the storm — the solitude — I feel
You near to me. What can November do?
For us midsummer days have come again. [page 34]
Good-bye! Good-bye! my soul goes after thee,
Quick as a bird that quickens on the wing,
Softly as winter softens into spring,
And as the moon sways to the swaying sea,
So is my spirit drawn resistlessly;
Good-bye! Yet closer round my life shall cling
Thy tenderness, the priceless offering
That drifts through distance daily unto me.
O eager soul of mine, fly fast, fly fast!
Take with thee hope and courage, thoughts that thrill
The heart with gladness under sombre skies.
O living tenderness, that no sharp blast
Of bitter fate or circumstance can chill,
My life with thine grows strong, or fails, or dies.
THE SWIFTEST THOUGHT
O sounding winds that tirelessly are blowing
Through the wide starlit spaces of the night;
O eager rains that sweep the distant height,
And restless streams impetuously flowing,
And clouds that will delay not in your going,
And ships that sail and vanish from the sight,
And happy birds that stay not in your flight,
And suns upon your skyey pathway glowing:—
Poor laggards all! One tender thought outstrips you.
Go, little thought, and tell my love from me
I care for him to-day as yesterday.
Ah, how its strength and swiftness doth eclipse you!
For now the answer comes invisibly
And instantly, and in the surest way. [page 35]
IN A DARK HOUR
Yes, yes, I know what you would say, and yet
Life is so sweet! life is so very sweet!
Leaves dancing in the sun make quick the beat
Of saddest heart, and Love must still forget
Life’s toil and care, its fever and its fret.
How blue the sky shines through the summer’s heat,
How merrily the blood defies the sleet;
One golden hour illumes a gray year. Let
Those talk of tears who never knew relief;
For me the hoarded honey of the past
Outlives the wintry interval of pain;
Come loneliness, or lovelessness, or grief!
The memory of days too sweet to last
Shall make my heart run o’er with joy again. [page 36]
THE HOUSE OF LOVE
My lover built a house for me, And roofed it with his tender smile, And walled it with his tender arms, A little while — a little while; And warmed it with his flaming heart, And windowed it with visions sweet, And floored it with the rosy dreams That stretched before my happy feet. But when a deathly storm arose, And choked the fire and rent the floor My flowering windows streamed with dark That flowed with sunny light before. So now a houseless wanderer I linger underneath the sky; My house of love is left a wreck Within the lane of memory. Is left a wreck. But night once more Enroofs me with a tender smile, And gives me back my rosy floor A little while — a little while. [page 37]
THE WORLD WELL LOST
My one dark love shall fix the day, The solemn day when we shall wed; Nor know I if on green or gray, On winter white or autumn red, My happy bridal moon shall rise, Nor which of all the blossoming Mays Shall wreathe the gates of Paradise Upon my dark love’s day of days. But this I know: her steps will be Like rose leaves falling from the rose, Her eyes a fathomless strange sea To which my stream of being flows; And this I know, her lips will rest As lightly on the drowsing lid As leafy shadows on the breast Of some sweet grave all flower-hid. In some sweet grave all flower-hid, A thousand times the blooms of May Shall visit us the leaves amid, When my love, Death, has named the day. [page 38]
I meet them in the country lane, In village shop and city street, With cheeks all glowing in the rain, Or voices gladdening in the sleet, Or eyes enraptured with the snow — The children I should like to know. How fair creation is to them! Unweighted by the cloak of years They dance upon its lustrous hem, And lose in rainbows all their tears. How easily the hearts o’erflow Of children we should like to know! Their sleep is deeper than our peace, Their waking gladder than our dreams. Their guardian angels never cease To speak to them in winds and streams. The days are lifetimes, sweet and slow, To children we should like to know. O little heart above this page, The road is long, the road is hard. But do not thou obscure in age That early sky so thickly starred. Keep sweet the faith of long ago, Dear child, whom I shall never know. [page 39]
The leaves within the orchard walls Give to the wind at play Light-hearted plunges, leaps and falls Throughout the summer day. And yet with still, unswerving power The fruit is ripening hour by hour. So have I seen a spirit strong Give to a passing breeze Of jest and laughter, mirth and song, Compliant courtesies; And his soul’s purpose lost no whit Of that great strength that flowed to it.
A HAPPY LOT
To-day I took the special book That doth my spirit please Out to the tree, where, after tea, I like to lie at ease. The boughs were long. A blue bird’s song Blent with the printed words, I seemed to hear a poet near And read the thoughts of birds. To me there’s not a happier lot On earth than comes with these: A book that sings, a bird that brings Leaf-shadowed reveries. [page 40]
“Another year,” we mourn, “another year
Has gone,” and look with mingled grief and fear
At all our vanished years — a goodly sum —
And think with pain how few the years to come.
As it might be some ignorant small child
Roaming in forests limitless and wild,
Should cry with apprehension, fear and grief,
“Another leaf has dropped, another leaf.”
Buds on the living tree, Buds in the heart. Tree hopes and heart hopes, Thickly they start. If to the cold ground All the hopes depart, Trustfully looks the tree, Why not the heart? [page 41]
NEWS OF LIFE
A bird flew in at my window, “That’s news of death,” they said. O heart life-packed, it was heaven you lacked, As you suffered and strove and fled. A message of life you bring me: Caught fast in the strange unknown, We strive with the gloom in earth’s low room, Then escape to our skies — our own.
Bold as thou art, There cometh one more bold, To turn thy strenuous heart All masterless and cold. Unmoved, strong-stayed Art thou? Yet cometh one Whose whisper will persuade Thee with him to be gone. King of the fray? Lord of the time and race? And yet shall come the ray To light thy vacant place. [page 42]
LUCK IN THE HOUSE
My love departs in the morning; Good-bye, my love, good-bye! I work the harder when you’re gone, The happier when you’re nigh. The busy hours will bring their cares, Their trials great and small, Their petty frets, their vain regrets, And I must meet them all. For there’s nae luck aboot the hoose, There’s nae luck at a’, There’s nae luck aboot the hoose When my gude mon’s awa’. My love returns at night-fall; Come in, my love, come in! About my waist his arm is placed, His hand beneath my chin. The weariness, the troubled thought, The sense of weight and care, Are all become as they were naught, And vanished into air. For there’s great luck aboot the hoose, And peace too deep for name, There’s great luck aboot the hoose When my gude mon’s at hame. [page 43]
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