Midsummer

- 1899-1988

This starbreak is celestial air, 
Just silver; earthlight, dying amber.
Underneath an arch of pallor
Summer keeps her brightened chamber.

Bright beauty of the risen dust
And deep flood-mark of beauty pressed
Up from earth in lovely flower,
High against my lonely breast;

Thou rhythm like the changing moon’s
The catch to which the waters play,
That as they kiss moon-silver sink,—
As soon to spurn the baffled clay;

Only before the waters fall
Is Paradise shore for gaining now.
The grasses drink the berry-bright dew;
The small fruits jewel all the bough.

Heart-breaking summer beyond taste,
Ripeness and frost are soon to know;
But might such color hold the west,
And time, and time, be honey-slow! 

Apostate

From weariness I looked out on the stars
   And there beheld them, fixed in throbbing joy, 
Nor racked by such mad dance of moods as mars
   For us each moment’s grace with swift alloy. 
And as they pierced the heavens’ serene deep
   An envy of that one consummate part
Swept me, who mock. Whether I laugh or weep,
   Some inner silences are at my heart.
Cold shame is mine for all the masks I wear,
   Belying that in me which shines and sings
Before Him, to face down man’s alien stare—
   A graceless puppet on unmeaning strings, 
I that looked out, and saw, and was at rest,
   Stars, and faint wings, rose-etched along the west.

Home-Coming

When I stepped homeward to my hill,
   Dusk went before with quiet tread;
The bare laced branches of the trees
   Were as a mist about its head.

Upon its leaf-brown breast the rocks
   Like great grey sheep lay silentwise,
Between the birch trees’ gleaming arms,
   The faint stars trembled in the skies.

The white brook met me half-way up,
   And laughed as one that knew me well,
To whose more clear than crystal voice
   The frost had joined a crystal spell.

The skies lay like pale-watered deep,
   Dusk ran before me to its strand
And cloudily leaned forth to touch
   The moon’s slow wonder with her hand.
 

Never Enough of Living

Never, my heart, is there enough of living,
Since only in thee is loveliness so sweet pain;
Only for thee the willows will be giving
Their quiet fringes to the dreaming river;
Only for thee so the light grasses ever
Are hollowed by the print of windy feet,
And breathe hill weather on the misty plain;
And were no rapture of them in thy beat,
For every hour of sky
Stillborn in gladness would the waters wear
Colors of air translucently,
And the stars sleep there.

Gently, my heart, nor let one moment ever
Be spilled from the brief fullness of thine urn.
Plunge in its exultation star and star,
Sea and plumed sea in turn.
O still, my heart, nor spill this moment ever.

Related Poems

Midsummer

A power is on the earth and in the air,
  From which the vital spirit shrinks afraid,
  And shelters him in nooks of deepest shade,
From the hot steam and from the fiery glare.
Look forth upon the earth—her thousand plants
  Are smitten; even the dark sun-loving maize
  Faints in the field beneath the torrid blaze;
The herd beside the shaded fountain pants;
For life is driven from all the landscape brown;
  The bird hath sought his tree, the snake his den,
  The trout floats dead in the hot stream, and men
Drop by the sunstroke in the populous town:
  As if the Day of Fire had dawned, and sent
  Its deadly breath into the firmament.

I know I am but summer to your heart (Sonnet XXVII)

I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of Spring.
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums, 
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time, 
Even your summer in another clime.