Of this edition of A Breadth of the Woods, by Lilian Leveridge, four hundred copies have been printed. This Chap-book is a product of The Ryerson Press, Toronto, Canada.
Copies of this Chap-book may be secured from The Ryerson Press, Toronto, and from Macrae Smith Company, Philadelphia, U.S.A.
Acknowledgement is due to the following for permission to reprint poems which have appeared in their columns: The Canadian Magazine for “Sunset in the City”; The Canadian Farmer for “The Rose of all the World”; The Christian Guardian and The New Outlook for “An April Prayer,” “Open Spaces,” “The Blossoming,” Song of the Summer Rain,” “Summer in the Heart,” “We Thank Thee,” “The House of Windows,” “Aspiration,” “Young Souls that Pass in Spring,” and “The Failures.”
The Ryerson Press
A Breath of the Woods
A BREATH OF THE WOODS
Once, in life’s Moon of Blossoms, I was a woodland child, Shy as a fawn of the forest, Wild as the winds are wild; Seeking the haunts of the thrushes, Answering back their song, Learning the call of the bluebird Wafted the glades along; Listening the cataract’s cadence, Chanted in monotone, Lilting the tune of the brooklet Tinkling from stone to stone. Dreaming in vales of shadow, Dancing on hills of light, Drinking from wells of wonder Nectars of new delight; Learning the language of flowers, Making their secrets mine— Violet, daffodil, daisy, Orchid and eglantine. [page 1] Under the ancient pine trees Chanting their runic rhymes, Sweetly the rare arbutus Rang me its fairy chimes. Dearest of the Springtime blossoms— Now, as its petals I kiss, Flow to my thirsting spirit Draughts of the old-time bliss. Music of bird and blossom, Lisping of baby leaves, Beauty of gold-lace patterns Sunlight, the artist, weaves; Coolness of mossy grotto, Odor of fragrant pine, Kiss of the wind, my lover— All once again are mine! Blow to me, breath of the woodland! Breathe on me, Spirit of Spring! Bring me your joys unstinted, Give me your songs to sing! Give me, O Moon of Blossoms, Still in your life a part! Grant me to keep your sweetness Hidden within my heart!
AN APRIL PRAYER
Creative Spirit, vital breath, Inspiring, quickening Love; All life, all light, all loveliness, Are thine, below, above; And sweetness infinite, and peace That none may understand Who have not heard Thy still, small voice, And clasped Thy living hand. A voiceless harp, I crave Thy touch To tune the silent strings, That melodies may wake to life In heavenly echoings. [page 2] While music trills from budding bough, And ripples in the rain, Give me to sing, this morn of spring, Some new, some noble strain! My soul, a thirsty garden ground, Awaits Thy blessed showers, That beauty-thoughts may spring and bloom, A paradise of flowers Where thou may’st walk at eventide, Among the lilies white, The roses and forget-me-nots That blow for Thy delight. Master of music and of flowers— All loveliness, all joy— Inspire and use my utmost powers In Thy divine employ. Let distant harpings float to me Adown the April skies From fragrant fields of asphodel Abloom in Paradise!
Let us go out to the open spaces, Out where the boisterous winds and wild Blow from the far-off, silent places, Freighted with fragrance and undefiled. Fearless and free through the world they wander, Melodic minstrels of joy a-wing. Born in the breath of their inspiration, Purer songs from our hearts upspring. Let us go out to the open spaces, Out where horizons are wide and far, Lest our souls grow cramped and our vision narrow, And we miss the shining of Love’s own star. Under the blues where the sunbeams golden Broider with beauty the white cloud’s rim— Floating fringes of Love’s fair garments— Haply our spirits may meet with Him. [page 3]
So many lovely things I’ve tried to do, But failed, alas! to make the dream come true. In many a race I’ve fallen far behind, And heard the victor’s shout ring down the wind. I’ve seen my shining castles sink and fall And leave upon the air no trace at all. But this one thing I have with joy achieved Beyond the dream my budding hopes believed: I’ve placed a tiny seed within the earth And seen the living atom spring to birth, A growing thing, a promise of delight, A touch, a token of the Infinite. I’ve daily nurtured it with loving care And watched it grow more vigorous and fair. Its fairy buds unfolding made me glad; “’Tis scarce worth while,” they whispered, “to be sad.” Now joy out-breathes from every starry bloom That fills the air with delicate perfume. In dewy dawns they smile up from the sod, And seem to say, “Good morning, child of God! You in your way and I in mine may bring Some thought of His to sweetest blossoming; And He Who paints the roses and the rue, Whose love is life, has not forgotten you.”
The low winds murmur about the eaves, And rustle the standing corn; There’s a glint of dew on the clover leaves, For day is but newly born. List! List! From the silver mist Enshrouding the blue lagoon, There’s an echo that floats in weird, wild notes— The shrill, strange laugh of the loon. [page 4] A magic spell falls over my heart; On the wings of the morn I rise, As lightly as swallows that flash and dart Through rose and daffodil skies. Away! Away! Where pine trees sway, And whisper their sagas old, I abide and rest by an island nest ’Mid lily cups white and gold. The wafted incense of fragrant pine, Of lily and wilding rose, I breathe, and their secret joy is mine, Their magic my spirit knows— Peace, peace, and a glad release From burdens that harry and press. There is time to play and keep holiday, And lean to the wind’s caress. The young loons rock on the rippling tide, O! I’ll be a young loon too, And we’ll go voyaging side by side On the breast of the waters blue. We’ll sail and sail in the scented gale That blows from the hills afar— For the wise wind knows where sweet fern grows, And the ripest strawberries are. The sun laughs down from the limpid sky, And the buttercups laugh in the grass; The wavelets laugh, and the loons, and I, And the breezes laugh as they pass. Oho! Oho! Hear the echoes go A-rollicking down the glen. When they faint and die on the rim of the sky, We’ll laugh and awake them again. The loon is gone to his cool, green isle; The dew is gone from the flowers; And mirth dies down to a quiet smile That lingers to gild the hours. Come back, come back on your airy track If ever my heart is sad! When you call me away to keep holiday I shall learn again to be glad. [page 5]
WHERE DID YOU GO?
O where did you go when you died, little Bird? I wonder and dream and doubt. Does anyone know where the good birds go When the light of their life goes out? There was such an ache in me heart, little Bird, When I found you dead, and I cried. Good friends were we. Did you call for me, In the lone, still night when you died? May your long, long flight bring you safely home To the land where the good birds go! Shall I find you afar on a silver star, Some day?—Does anyone know? O where did you go when you died, little Flower? Too soon was your brief day done. But that day so sweet was a life complete, A glorious race well run. You bloomed ’mid the sun and the rain, little Flower; You lived but to bless and cheer; And you died to grace with the smile of your face The sorrow and gloom of a bier. The message was sweet that you brought, little Flower; Of a love that can never die. Do you blossom afar on a silver star ’Way up in the sunset sky? O beautiful Butterfly, where did you go When faded your brief, bright hour? Did a gate in the blue open wide for you— A gate to a blossoming bower? In the perfumed air of that Loveland fair Do you flutter and float away O’er the meadows bright with the flowers of light? Shall I find you there some day? There are millions and millions of silver stars High up in the peaceful sky; And it seems to me that the stars must be Bright homes of our loves that die— [page 6] The singing birds, and the butterflies, And the flowers that fade and fall— Since our love still clings to all lovely things, There is surely room for all!
SONG OF THE SUMMER RAIN
When the winds of dawn go sadly, with a shiver and a moan, Through the dusty, dewless verdure of the plain, They are calling to a comrade, for they will not sing alone; They are seeking for the Lady of the Rain. Wooing, pleading, hear them say, “Come and dance with us to-day! We will sing our newest, loveliest refrain; But our music is all dumb, Harps are muted till you come, Blessing-laden, gracious Lady of the Rain.” They have called her; now they listen; all the breezes hold their breath. Shall the lover-winds of summer woo in vain? Not a whisper, not a murmur! Woods and fields are still as death; Birds are faint, and blossoms languish for the rain, Hark! a low mysterious sound, Rises tremulous from the ground. She is coming with the tempest in her train. Herald winds are bugling clear; Leaflets quiver as in fear: “O, deal gently with us, Lady of the Rain!” Now she comes with loud, wild laughter; thunders, lightnings shake the earth, While the tall trees shriek and bow themselves in pain; But a broken, tear-wet blossom quells her mad, unholy mirth. “I am sorry!” cries the Lady of the Rain. Down the valley slinks the thunder, Hiding rocks and caverns under, And a rainbow hangs above the greening plain. Now on silver-sandalled feet, And with music rare and sweet, Loved, forgiven, flits our Lady of the Rain. [page 7]
WE THANK THEE
We thank Thee, King of Kings, For blessings without number; For covert of Thy wings, For love that does not slumber. Our trust, our faith how small! And yet how rich Thy gift! To Thee, O Lord of all, Our grateful hearts we lift! We thank Thee for the joy Of verdant spring’s returning; For love without alloy In happy bosoms burning; Pure love that found a voice In sylvan symphonies. We cannot but rejoice In memories like these. We thank thee, Light of Light, For days of summer glory That flamed from height to height, An oft-repeated story; For winds, and clouds, and showers Of cool, refreshing rain, That cheered the thirsting flowers And swelled the golden grain. We thank thee for the leaves All red and green and yellow; For wealth of garnered sheaves, For luscious fruits and mellow; For all the starry bloom That crowned the fading days, Dispelling doubt and gloom And turning sighs to praise. We thank thee for the glow Of home-fires bright and cheery, When wintry tempests blow And days are chill and dreary; For peace and plenteous store Throughout our loved domain, We praise Thee and adore, In glad thanksgiving strain. [page 8]
THE ROSE OF ALL THE WORLD
Once a singing angel band leaned from heaven’s height, Shaking down from silver wings showers of silver light— Light that paled the midnight stars, blossomed on the snow, Lit the watching shepherds’ eyes—centuries ago. Songs of Earth may faint and die; that angelic lay, Echoing on from star to star, shall not pass away. Light of Light, Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, is born! Christ, the rose of all the world, blooms on Christmas morn! Sing the carol gladsomely, ring the golden bell! Silver string and pealing pipe, love’s sweet story tell! Heaven’s White Rose is ours to-day. Pass the mystic word, Till to deeds of lavish love every heart is stirred! Asphodel and immortelle, with every flower that blows, Bow their lovely heads before Love’s immortal Rose. Perfume drifts through gates of gold; precious dew distils. Souls uplifted breathe the balm blown from heavenly hills. Angels from the hills of God, wing your silvery flight; Songs of glory and of peace sing to us to-night! Rose of all the weary world, teach our hearts to know Sweetness such as shepherds knew, centuries ago!
SUMMER IN THE HEART
Across the barren uplands The wintry tempests blow; The violet and the daffodil Lie cold beneath the snow. The silver-throated minstrels Have flown across the seas; No more their happy music floats Upon the scented breeze. And yet, what does it matter To you and me, my friend, That golden hours and summer flowers Have met a timely end? [page 9] The thrush will sing at even, At morn the dews will shine, If you keep summer in your heart, And likewise I in mine. They are not lost forever— Those lovely hours we knew, When all the world was green and gold, And all the sky was blue. While memory holds in keeping A paradise of flowers, What vast delight of beauty bright, What fragrances are ours! Howl, howl, ye winds of winter! Drift deep, O cold, white snow! Ye cannot shake our citadel Of sunny thoughts aglow. For we may laugh at tempests, May laugh and live apart In perfumed gales of summer vales— The summer of the heart.
SUNSET IN THE CITY
Full many a glorious sunset I have seen, The splendid pageant of departing Day That, clad in radiant robes of shimmering sheen, Her royal banners waved and passed away, Trailing her garments, crimson, gold and blue, O’er dimpled wave and fields of glimmering dew. I’ve heard the mellow music of the thrush Piping at vespers; and the fitful cry Of nighthawks wheeling through the warm rose-flush In spacious, airy regions of the sky. I’ve heard the cuckoo, and the loon’s wild note In lyric laughter on the wood-winds float. [page 10] To-night the sun sinks down behind a spire That terminates the long, grey city street. A myriad windows catch the crimson fire, And dun grey roofs are bathed in beauty fleet: But who among the throngs that come and go Lift up their faces to glory glow? No piping song across the twilight calls, Nor drowsy chirp of birdlings in their nest; But never-ceasing, never-resting, falls The clamor of the city’s fevered quest. Yet through the sounds discordant float to me Low, vibrant strains of life’s great symphony. There’s music, music pulsing on the air— The lilt of laughter and of happy song. And homeward-turning footfalls everywhere, Mingling in rhythmic cadence full and strong. Perchance the tremulous minor chord of pain Blends in the Great Musician’s perfect strain. The world is homing in this clamorous hour, While lights flash out and softly star the gloom. Like rosebuds opening in a garden bower A thousand tender thoughts burst into bloom. Behind closed blinds I dream of lips that meet, And love’s low tones ineffably sweet. And I am happier for that joy unknown. Its essence is distilled like precious balm From fragrant herbs of gales of heaven blown, Or wafted from some far-off vale of calm. When, blossom-wise, the heart is lifted up, The dews of blessing fill its empty cup. All faded now the sunset’s golden light, The crowds thin out along the echoing street. The city folds me into its arms to-night, And croons me wonder-songs, elusive, sweet. From Love’s thought-gardens perfumes steal to me ’Mid poppy-blooms of dream and memory. [page 11]
THE HOUSE OF WINDOWS
I live in a house of windows, High up on a breezy hill, Where the days are golden with sunshine, And the nights are starry and still. No longer the clang of street-cars, The jostle and jar of the throng, But the cricket’s violoncello And the bluebird’s love-sweet song. My feet have been wont to wander Afar at desire’s behest, But here they have paused by the wayside, And are learning the art of rest. Yet fancy is free of the azure. Where cumulous clouds float low, And free in the fair, green valley To follow the river’s flow. O river, O beautiful river! I would rise and wander away, Where your ripples gloom in the shadows, Or dance on their sunlit way. I would list to the green corn rustling, And dance with the goldenrod; I would kneel where the starry asters And the fairy bluebells nod. Where the hills are softest and bluest, I would climb to the highest crest, And there in the heart of the silence Long hours I would dream and rest. Yet here to-day and to-morrow With a song of hope in my heart, I will wait in the house of windows, Till the summons shall come, “Depart!” Then over the blue horizon, With a soul athrill to the strife, Far out on the world’s wide highway Let me follow the call of Life! [page 12]
Give me from hour to hour, from day to day, The sunrise glory and the sunset peace; The stillness of the starshine and its balm; Sweetness of wayside blossoms washed in dew; Music of wind and wave, of bee and bird, Of happy, lilting laughter. Give to me A sweet, enduring friendship, true and pure; The lifelong, loved companionship of books; The inspiration of a high ideal; A goal to strive for, and a rest to win; The glow of home fires in the twilight hour,— This is the heritage I claim, O Life! To others you may give your minted gold. Give me the voice of Love my heart to cheer; Give me the smile of Love my soul to bless; Give me the rapture of Love’s lingering kiss; The circle of Love’s arms in which to lean And learn the exquisite joy—the exquisite pain— Of loving! Life’s red rose with all its thorns, Its poignant fragrances of memory, Give me, and you may keep all else beside!
THE BUSINESS GIRL
With steady, pauseless pace she hastes Along the crowded street, That echoes, morn and noon and eve, The clangor and the beat Of grinding wheels and vendors’ cries And tramp of hurrying feet. Her eyes are bright, her step alert; Her spirit joys to know Herself a wave of this life tide That surges to and fro; Her own allotted task a work No hand but hers may do. [page 13] The flaunting shows of wealth and pride Are passed unheeded by; No art is there to swerve her steps Or win one envious sigh. But lo! a window full of flowers Has caught her ardent eye. To-day wild asters of the wood The place of honor hold. They bring a glimpse of heaven’s own blue And sunlight’s peerless gold; And memories of far-off things Their petals fair enfold,— Of wind-swept hills and perfumed vales Where dreaming sunbeams lie Upon a myriad swaying blooms That almost seem to vie In color and in loveliness With yon low-bending sky; Of forest stillness that enfolds In warms and close embrace A thousand little loves that know The smile on Nature’s face, And find within her sheltering arms A blest abiding-place. The business girl amid the toil, The hurry and the din, Feels that the wild has opened wide Its arms to take her in: She knows that all true things and sweet Are still her own to win.
ANGELO AND VIRGILIA
I. THE MAGICIAN
In the world to-night ’tis winter; whistling winds mad revels hold. God “hath cast His ice like morsels. Who can stand before His cold? Yet a sunny softness lingers where the wild winds meet and part; For ’tis springtime, rosy springtime—in my heart. [page 14] In the city street the lamplight shivers in the gusty blast. Dim, dumb faces glance and vanish, hurrying footfalls echo past. Yet I tread the vales of Springland; balmy airs about me blow From the hillside where the scented blossoms grow. Hoarsely roar the wheels of traffic, rushing on their tireless quest, Where the shadows bring no silence, and the midnight hour no rest. But they pass unheard, unheeded; for I live to-night apart, Where the birds of morn are singing in my heart. ’Tis your clear, low tones make music, ’tis your touch has magic power To transform the frozen desert into spring’s emblossomed bower. ’Neath the wan stars’ wintry glimmer, where the wild winds rush and part, You have planted fragrant roses in my heart.
II. LOVE’S WHITE MAGIC
Goodbye! Perchance the season is but brief That we two walk apart—a week, a day. Yet who can tell if we shall meet again Ere withering years have turned youth’s gold to grey, Or you have heard the angels call, or I? Then kiss me, dearest, when you say good-bye. O clasp me close! A moment let me lean In the safe shelter of your strong embrace. The world recedes; sweet air about me breathe; A heavenly halo beautifies your face. You cannot guess or dream your magic power. A touch and lo! my thoughts are all in flower. I have a quiet garden where I steal Away from all life’s fever and its fret. There bloom dream lilies, pearled with twilight dews, And violets and musk and mignonette. A lovesome spot is this, my garden fair, For you have planted many a blossom there. [page 15] Those precious, priceless moment we have known Enshrined forever in my heart I hold, When Love’s white magic touched the glass of life, Transmuting all its falling sands to gold. I live again with you those glowing hours Here in the rosy radiance of my bowers. One kiss—the last! How can I let you go? Let us not think of time, of distance, dear. The vestal lamps burn ever at Love’s shrine, The home-lights shine in Dreamland, soft and clear. Along my flowery pathways I may roam, And always shall I find you there—at home.
III. JUST YOU
When you are absent, dear, from day to day, There are a thousand things I want to say— Small happenings that gladden me or vex, Or questionings that puzzle and perplex. I tell them over, in my thoughts, to you, My friend, my heart’s own comrade, tried and true, And think if I might hear your answering voice The fruitful hour would make me glad and wise. Now you are here, just you and I alone, I thrill at the low cadence of your tone; But all the eager words I meant to say Dissolve to naught and melt in mist away. They are of things apart. ’Tis you, just you, My heart has need of, as the flower the dew. Then let me, this sweet hour, beloved, rest In happy silence, leaning on your breast.
Come into my arms, come in, come in! Lean your warm, soft face on my beating breast. The world is weary, the world is wide, But here is haven, and home and rest. Away from striving, from wild alarms, From pain of longing, come into my arms! [page 16] Come into my arms, come in, come in! Lift up your eyes that my own may look Deep into your soul like a well-spring clear, A limpid, luminous mountain brook. Your thoughts are ballads. Hush! Let me hear The soft, low sound of their music, dear! Fly into my arms fly in, fly in, Like a homing dove to her own warm nest, Where, gently rocked by the hushing winds, By rosy fingers of light caressed, She sleeps with never a dream of harm!— Creep close, creep close in my sheltering arm! Come into my heart, come in, come in! Let our spirits blend in a long, close kiss, And wing to the meadows of asphodel! We shall never be nearer to Heaven than this, Till the portals of pearl swing wide and free, Some golden morning, for you and me.
V. EVENING ON THE HILLS
’Twas sunset on the hills above the river, A tranquil ending to a perfect day; And over all the quiet summer landscape A mellow glory lay. The air was spiced with bergamot and clover, On either side a blossoming wall it grew— The white sweet-clover, I shall always love it; ’Tis eloquent of you. The rose lights glowed and faded in the heavens, And all the dim, deep vale was wrapt in mist— A filmy, gold-and-purple veil, dream-woven On looms of amethyst. One limped star above the far horizon Hung like a jewel on the velvet night; And through the whispering leaves the clear moon sifted A soft and silvery light. [page 17] No sound was there but low and sleepy chirpings Of dreaming birds with weary wings at rest, Or little winds that strayed amid the grasses, And soft our brows caressed. We spoke but little. Moment followed moment, And found us silent as a pair of birds By slumber stilled.—When spirit blends with spirit, What need is there of words? How close we leaned!—your arm about me folded, My hands in yours, your kiss upon my lips! Your nearness with a quiet gladness thrilled me From heart to finger-tips. The hour was tense with tenderest emotions; All rosy-winged, the moments sped too soon. Did unseen angels smile on us? Or was it The witchery of the moon? Life was an anthem altogether lovely, A dulcet interlude this magic hour. We could but yield us to its rhythmic chiming. Its soul-entrancing power. ’Tis past, that perfect eve about the river— Is it a memory, or but a dream Of two that loved, in some dim, far-off aeon, Beside a mystic stream? And yet—dear God!—on some glad, golden morning— Or soon or late, as Love’s high purpose wills— In light undimmed may we two walk together On the eternal hills!
VI. THE DREAM HILLS
Your voice is a long-lost music, a murmur upon the wind, And only on memory’s mountain your phantom face I find; But here, ’mid the shrouding shadows, our kindred spirits meet, On the twilight hills, the dream hills, where thoughts are true and sweet. [page 18] There glows on the misty cloudways no dazzling glory gleam, But only the pearly tintings of the rainbow hues of dream; For the hills they slope to the westward and dip in the silver sea, And the light o’er the tide that beckons is the light of eternity. The flowers are fair on the dream hills, and faint with fragrant dew; And mine are the passion flowers, but the myrtle blooms for you. I clasp them close to my bosom, as I kneel in the stillness there, For the odorous breath of the blossoms is the spirit’s wordless prayer. From the glooms of the misty valley, at morning or noon or night, I find and follow the pathway that leads to the quiet height. And dearest of all my hours are the hours I spend with you On the twilight hills, the dream hills, where thoughts are sweet and true.
I SHALL BE BEAUTIFUL
I shall be beautiful some far-off day, And eyes of love will look and find me fair; For in my soul, flower-sweet and angel-pure, Will blossom every secret, silent prayer For beauty, which I may not yet attain, But only love and seek with longing pain. Love graciously will grant my heart’s desire, Upon my brows will bind hope’s immortelles, And I shall be at one with bud and bloom That grace the sunny hills and dewy dells On yon far shore where all year is spring And singing birds are ever on the wing. O heart of mine! Though storms beat fierce and wild, Turn thee not back. Thou shalt win safely through, For love immortal leads thee by the hand. Some sweet spring dawn shalt be all made new; And out of mists and clouds that gloom the night Shalt pass to regions of undreamed delight. [page 19]
OVER THE HILLS OF HOME
Laddie, little laddie, come with me over the hills, Where blossom the white May lilies, and the dogwood and daffodils; For the Spirit of Spring is calling to our spirits that love to roam Over the hills of home, laddie, over the hills of home. Laddie, little laddie, here’s hazel and meadow rue, And wreaths of the rare arbutus, a-blowing for me and you: And cherry and bilberry blossoms, and hawthorn as white as foam. We’ll carry them all to Mother, laddie, over the hills at home. Laddie, little laddie, the winds have many a song, And blithely and bold they whistle to us as we trip along; But your own little song is sweeter, your own with its merry trills; So, whistle a tune as you go, laddie, over the windy hills. Laddie, little laddie, ’tis time that the cows were home. Can you hear the klingle-klangle of their bell in the green-wood gloam? Old Rover is waiting, eager to follow the trail with you, Whistle a tune as you go, laddie, whistle a tune as you go. Laddie, little laddie, there’s a flash of a bluebird’s wing. O hush! If we wait and listen we may hear him carolling. The vesper song of the thrushes, and the plaint of the whip-poor-wills— Sweet, how sweet is the music, laddie, over the twilit hills. Brother, little brother, your childhood is passing by, And the dawn of a noble purpose I see in your thoughtful eye. You have many a mile to travel and many a task to do; Whistle a tune as you go, laddie, whistle a tune as you go. Laddie, soldier laddie, a call comes over the sea, A call to the best and bravest in the land of liberty, To shatter the despot’s power, to lift up the weak that fall. Whistle a song as you go, laddie, to answer your country’s call. [page 20] Brother, soldier brother, the Spring has come back again, But her voice from the windy hilltops is calling your name in vain; For never shall we together ’mid the birds and the blossoms roam Over the hills of home, brother, over the hills of home. Laddie! Laddie! Laddie! “Somewhere in France” you sleep, Somewhere ’neath alien flowers and alien winds that weep. Bravely you marched to battle, nobly your life laid down. You unto death were faithful, laddie; yours is the victor’s crown. Laddie! Laddie! Laddie! How dim is the sunshine grown, As mother and I together speak softly in tender tone! And the lips that quiver and falter have ever a single theme, As we list for you dear, lost whistle, laddie, over the hills of dream. Laddie, beloved laddie! How soon should we cease to weep Could we glance through the golden gateway, whose keys the angels keep! Yet love, our love that is deathless, can follow you where you roam, Over the hills of God, laddie, the beautiful hills of Home.
O infinite ocean of luminous blue transcendent, In a silver dream let me drift away on your waveless tide! It is sweet in the starlit garden of dew-pearls pendant, But I long to-night for the high, for the deep, for the wide. A wind of limitless blows from the far-off places, where viol voices echo in concord blest; And thought will pilot me safe through the star-strewn spaces, Up the long white way that leads to the realms of rest. [page 21] O little white star—each separate star is an island, A beautiful island set in a sapphire sea— Let me furl my sail and roam on your wind-swept high-land, And talk with beatified souls of the great To-Be. Let me learn, in the pearly gleam of your wide-flung portal, While my spirit grows to your breadth and depth and height, Of the seedling souls in the gardens of life immortal That springs in the dark and bloom in the living light. There are taunting doubts in the chill of the night that vex me; There are strange, deep things that I never can understand; But an answer waits to the wonderings that perplex me, Sublime and sweet, I know, in the Spirit Land. They will all come true—the beautiful dreams that haunt us— For dreams at best are but shadows of lovely things. They will melt like mists of morning—the doubts that taunt us— When the soul breaks into bloom by the crystal springs. By wonder led, in garments of light enfolden, Let me take my starward course from the vales of gloam, While a passionate prayer wings up to the far throne golden— Thou Infinite Loveliness, pilot me safely home!
YOUNG SOULS THAT PASS IN SPRING
Where the slender willows lean by the silver stream, Where amid the meadow grass dandelions gleam, Where the rosy maple boughs blush, by new life kissed, Glimpse ye not a drift of wings in the morning mist? Whither than the cherry blooms, softer than the haze Folding all the far-off hills through the mellow days, Evanescent as the dew pearled in lily-bell— Whence arisen, whither bound, who may ever tell? [page 22] Hush! They are the pure young souls, passing in the spring, Half-reluctant, from the vales where the bluebirds sing; Lingering upon the hills, waiting in the wood, Culling keepsake memories of unforgotten good. Faint, elusive fragrances on the hill-winds drift, From the spirit flowers distilled, youth’s last loving gift— Rose of Sharon, asphodel, and mystic myrtle bloom— Balm for all the mourning souls grieving in the gloom. Hark! the melody that wakes. Is it wind or bird? Nay! So pure, so sweet a note mortal never heard. O be very, very still! Listen, listen long— So perchance your heart may hear the young souls’ passing song: Singing where the birches shine above the foaming flood, Where the lupines write in blue the poems of the wood; Singing where the roses blush, where the violets hide Where the starry laurels bloom upon the mountain-side: “Where we go the flowers of spring never fade and fall; Yet, perchance, we shall return when the bluebirds call. You may hear us if you list, singing in the wood Where we plant the immortelles of unforgotten good.” Trilliums on their faces white reflect the rose-light fair, Drifted from the radiant wings dissolving on the air. Sorrow hears a hermit thrush fluting clear and high; Faith, the passing souls who sing, “Love can never die!”
Success? ’Tis not for us, nor pride of life. Ours is the homelier prize, the lowlier strife. High altitudes they tread who do not fail. The path marked out for us lies in the vale. Who gold or fame would win no hours may waste; But we amid the crowds, how can we haste? For there are loads to lift, and tasks to try, And little songs to sing for those who sigh. [page 23] Small feet there are to glide in wisdom’s ways, And lisping lips to teach blessing and praise; And wistful, aged eyes grown dim with tears, A-weary for the light beyond the years. There’s sympathy to give, laughter and love; And sweet incense of prayer to waft above. Though in the race of life we fall behind, Forgive!—and help us, Lord, just to be kind. [page 24]