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Freed from wrath's pale eclipse, What were our lives without The rosy edges of their smile lay bare,
thee? What words divine of lover or of poet
What all our lives to save thee? Could tell our love and make thee know We reck not what we gave thee; it,
We will not dare to doubt thee, Among the Nations bright beyond com- But ask whatever else, and we will
TO THE MUSE.
WHITHER ? Albeit I follow fast, | Thy gathering fugue goes rolling on In all life's circuit I but find,
From Maine to utmost Oregon ; Not where thou art, but where thou | The factory-wheels in cadence hum, wast,
From brawling parties concords come ; Sweet beckoner, more fleet than wind ! | All this I hear, or seem to hear, I haunt the pine-dark solitudes,
But when, enchanted, I draw near With soft brown silence carpeted, To mate with words the various theme, And plot to snare thee in the woods : Life seems a whiff of kitchen steam,
Peace I o'ertake, but thou art fled! | History an organ-grinder's thrum,
All Nature with thy parting thrills, Most mutable Perversity!
Not weary yet, I still must seek,
I go to see the great man ride, Where thou hast dipt thy finger-tips ; Shiplike, the swelling human tide
Just, just beyond, forever burn | That floods to bear him into port, Gleams of a grace without return; | Trophied from Senate-hall and Court;
Upon thy shade I plant my foot, Thy magnetism, I feel it there, And through my frame strange raptures Thy rhythmic presence fleet and rare, shoot;
Making the Mob a moment fine All of thee but thyself I grasp ;
With glimpses of their own Divine, I seem to fold thy luring shape, As in their demigod they see And vague air to my bosom clasp,
Their cramped ideal soaring free: Thou lithe, perpetual Escape ! 'T was thou didst bear the fire about,
That, like the springing of a mine One mask and then another drops, Sent up to heaven the street-long shout; And thou art secret as before :
| Full well I know that thou wast here, Sometimes with flooded ear I list, It was thy breath that brushed my ear;
And hear thee, wondrous organist, But vainly in the stress and whirl From mighty continental stops
I dive for thee, the moment's pearl. A thunder of new music pour; Through pipes of earth and air and stone Through every shape thou well canst Thy inspiration deep is blown; Through mountains, forests, open downs, Proteus, 'twixt rise and set of sun, Lakes, railroads, prairies, states, and Well pleased with logger-camps in towns,
As where Milan's pale Duomo lies | The boy's first love, the man's first grief, A stranded glacier on the plain,
The budding and the fall o' the leaf; Its peaks and pinnacles of ice
| The piping west-wind's snowy care Melted in many a quaint device, For her their cloudy fleeces spare, And sees, above the city's din,
| Or from the thorns of evil times Afar its silent Alpine kin:
She can glean wool to twist her rhymes ; I track thee over carpets deep
Morning and noon and eve supply To wealth's and beauty's innost keep; To her their fairest tints for dye, Across the sand of bar-room floors But ever through her twirling thread Mid the stale reek of boosing boors ; There spires one line of warmest red, Where drowse the hay-field's fragrant Tinged from the homestead's genial heats,
heart, Or the flail-heart of Autumn beats ; The stamp and warrant of her art; I dog thee through the market's throngs With this Time's sickle she outwears, To where the sea with myriad tongues | And blunts the Sisters' baffled shears. Laps the green edges of the pier, And the tall ships that eastward steer, “Harass her not : thy heat and stir Curtsy their farewells to the town, But greater coyness breed in her; O'er the curved distance lessening down; Yet thou mayst find, ere Age's frost, I follow allwhere for thy sake.
Thy long apprenticeship not lost, Touch thy robe's hem, but ne'er o'ertake, Learning at last that Stygian Fate Find where, scarce yet unmoving, lies, Unbends to him that knows to wait. Warm from thy limbs, thy last disguise; The Muse is womanish, nor deigns But thou another shape hast donned, Her love to him that pules and plains ; And lurest still just, just beyond ! With proud, averted face she stands
To him that wooes with empty hands. But here a voice, I know not whence, Make thyself free of Manhood's guild ; Thrills clearly through my inward sense, Pull down thy barns and greater build; Saying: “See where she sits at home The wood, the mountain, and the plain While thou in search of her dost roam! Wave breast-deep with the poet's grain ; All summer long her ancient wheel Pluck thou the sunset's fruit of gold,
Whirls humming by the open door, Glean from the heavens and ocean old ; Or, when the hickory's social zeal From fireside lone and trampling street
Sets the wide chimney in a roar, Let thy life garner daily wheat; Close-nestled by the tinkling hearth, The epic of a man rehearse, It modulates the household mirth Be something better than thy verse; With that sweet serious undertone Make thyself rich, and then the Muse Of duty, music all her own;
Shall court thy precious interviews, Still as of old she sits and spins Shall take thy head upon her knee, Our hopes, our sorrows, and our sins; And such enchantment lilt to thee, With equal care she twines the fates That thou shalt hear the life-blood flow Of cottages and mighty states ;
From farthest stars to grass-blades low, She spins the earth, the air, the sea, And find the Listener's science still The maiden's unschooled fancy free, Transcends the Singer's deepest skill 1"
MY DEAR FIELDS :
Dr. Johnson's sturdy self-respect led him to invent the Bookseller as a substitute for the Patron. My relations with you have enabled me to discover how pleasantly the Friend may replace the Bookseller. Let me record my sense of many thoughtful services by associating your name with a poem which owes its appearance in this form to your partiality.
J. R. LOWELL. CAMBRIDGE, November 29, 1869.
Nor thought i.de mage ji mean. soul di
FAR through the memory shines a happy Can overtake the rapture of the sense,
To thrust between ourselves and what Cloudless of care, down-shod to every we feel, sense,
Have something in them secretly divine. And simply perfect from its own resource, Vainly the eye, once schooled to serve As to a bee the new campanula's
the brain, Illuminate seclusion swung in air. With pains deliberate studies to renew Such days are not the prey of setting The ideal vision : second-thoughts are suns,
prose; Nor ever blurred with mist of after. For beauty's acme hath a term as brief
As the wave's poise before it break in Like words made magical by poets dead, pearl. Wherein the music of all meaning is Our own breath dims the mirror of the The sense hath garnered or the soul di. sense, vined,
Looking too long and closely : at a flash They mingle with our life's ethereal part, We snatch the essential grace of mean. Sweetening and gathering sweetness ever ing out, more,
And that first passion beggars all beBy beauty's franchise disenthralled of hind, time.
Heirs of a tamer transport prepossessed.
Who, seeing once, has truly seen again I can recall, nay, they are present still, The gray vague of unsympathizing sea Parts of myself, the perfume of my mind, That dragged his Fancy from her moorDays that seem farther off than Homer's ings back now
To shores in hospitable of eldest time, Ere yet the child had loudened to the boy, | Till blank foreboding of earth-gendered And I, recluse from playmates, found powers, perforce
Pitiless seignories in the elements, Companionship in things that not denied Omnipotences blind that darkling smite, Nor granted wholly ; as is Nature's Misgave him, and repaganized the wont,
world? Who, safe in uncontaminate reserve, Yet, by some subtler touch of sympathy, Lets us mistake our longing for her love, These primal apprehensions, dimly And mocks with various echo of our stirred, selves.
Perplex the eye with pictures from with
in. These first sweet frauds upon our con- This hath made poets dream of lives foresciousness,
gone That blend the sensual with its imaged In worlds fantastical, more fair than ours; world,
So Memory cheats us, glimpsing halfThese virginal cognitions, gifts of morn, revealed. Ere life grow noisy, and slower-footed Even as I write she tries her wonted thought
In that continuous redbreast boding That made familiar fields seem far and rain :
strange The bird I hear sings not from yonder As those stark wastes that whiten endelm ;
lessly But the flown ecstasy my childhood In ghastly solitude about the pole, heard
And gleanu relentless to the unsetting Is vocal in my mind, renewed by him, Haply made sweeter by the accumulate Instant the candid chambers of my brain thrill
| Were painted with these sovran images ; That threads my undivided life and And later visions seem but copies pale steals
From those unfading frescos of the past, A pathos from the years and graves be. Which I, young savage, in my age of tween.
Gazed at, and dimly felt a power in me I know not how it is with other men, Parted from Nature by the joy in her Whom I but guess, deciphering myself ; That doubtfully revealed me to myself. For me, once felt is so télt nevermore. | Thenceforward I must stand outside the The fleeting relish at sensation's briin
gite; Had in it the best ferment of the wine. And paradise was paradise the more, One spring I knew as never any since : Known once and barred against satiety. All night the surges of the warm southWest
What we call Nature, all outside our Boomed intermittent through the wal-| selves, lowing elms,
Is but our own conceit of what we see, And brought a morning from the Gulf Our own reaction upon what we feel; adrift,
The world 's a woman to our shifting Omnipotent with sunshine, whose quick mood, charm
| Feeling with us, or making due pretence: Startled with crocuses the sullen turf And therefore we the more persuade our And wiled the bluebird to his whiff of selves song :
| To make all things our thought's con One summer hour abides, what time I federates, perched,
Conniving with us in whate'er we dream, Dappled with woonday, under simmer- So when our Fancy seeks analogies, ing leaves,
Though she have hidden what she after And pulled the pulpy oxhearts, while aloof
She loves to cheat herself with feigned An oriole clattered and the robins surprise. shrilled,
I find my own complexion everywhere : Denouncing me an alien and a thief : No rose, I doubt, was ever, like the One morn of autumn lords it o'er the first,
A marvel to the bush it dawned upon, When in the lane I watched the ash- The rapture of its life made visible, leaves fall,
The mystery of its yearning realized, Balancing softly earthward without As the first babe to the first woman wind,
born ; Or twirling with directer impulse down No falcon ever felt delight of wings On those fallen yesterday, now barbed As when, an eyas, from the stolid cliff with frost,
Loosing himself, he followed his high While I grew pensive with the pensive heart year :
To swim on sunshine, masterless as And once I learned how marvellous wind ; winter was,
And I believe the brown earth takes When past the fence-rails, downy-gray with rime,
In the new snowdrop looking back at I creaked adventurous o'er the spangled
| To think that by some vernal alchemy