THE POET AND HIS SONGS
As the birds come in the Spring,
We know not from where ;
As the stars come at evening
From depths of the air ;
As the rain comes from the cloud,
And the brook from the ground ;
As suddenly, low or loud,
Out of silence a sound ;
As the grape comes to the vine,
The fruit to the tree ;
As the wind comes to the pine,
And the tide to the sea ;
As come the white sails of ships
O’er the ocean’s verge ;
As comes the smile to the lips,
The foam to the surge ;
So come to the Poet his songs,
All hitherward blown
From the misty realm, that belongs
To the vast Unknown.
His, and not his, are the lays
He sings ; and their fame
Is his, and not his ; and the praise
And the pride of a name.
For voices pursue him by day,
And haunt him by night,
And he listens, and needs must obey,
When the Angel says, “ Write ! ”
Becalmed upon the sea of Thought,
Still unattained the land it sought,
My mind, with loosely-hanging sails,
Lies waiting the auspicious gales.
On either side, behind, before,
The ocean stretches like a floor,---
A level floor of amethyst,
Crowned by a golden dome of mist.
Blow, breath of inspiration, blow !
Shake and uplift this golden glow !
And flll the canvas of the mind
With wafts of thy celestial wind.
Blow, breath of song ! until I feel
The straining sail, the lifting keel,
The life of the awakening sea,
Its motion and its mystery !
AFTERNOON IN FEBRUARY
The night is descending ;
The marsh is frozen,
The river dead.
Through clouds like ashes
The red sun flashes
On village windows
That glimmer red.
The snow recommences ;
The buried fences
Mark no longer
The road o'er the plain ;
While through the meadows,
Like fearful shadows,
A funeral train.
The bell is pealing,
And every feeling
Within me responds
To the dismal knell ;
Shadows are trailing,
My heart is bewailing
And tolling within
Like a funeral bell.