My Hermitage

- 1873-1908

Between me and the noise of strife 
    Are walls of mountains set with pine;  
The dusty, care-strewn paths of life  
    Lead not to this retreat of mine.  
 
I hear the morning wind awake  
   Beyond the purple height,  
And, in the growing light,  
   The lap of lilies on the lake.  
 
I live with Echo and with Song,  
   And Beauty leads me forth to see  
Her temple’s colonnades, and long 
    Together do we love to be.  
 
The mountains wall me in, complete,  
   And leave me but a bit blue 
Above.    All year, the days are sweet— 
    How sweet! And all the long nights thro’  
 
I hear the river flowing by  
   Along its sandy bars;  
Behold, far in the midnight sky,  
    An infinite of stars!  
 
‘Tis sweet, when all is still,  
   When darkness gathers round,  
To hear, from hill to hill,  
   The far, the wandering sound.  
 
The cedar and the pine 
   Have pitched their tents with me.  
What freedom vast is mine!  
    What room! What mystery!  
 
Upon the dreamy southern breeze,  
    That steals in like a laden bee  
And sighs for rest among the trees,  
   Are far-blown bits of melody.  
 
What afterglows the twilight hold,  
    The darkening skies along!  
And O, what rose-like dawns unfold,  
    That smite the hills to song!  
 
High in the solitude of air,  
   The gray hawk circles on and on,  
Till, like a spirit soaring there,  
    His image pales and he is gone!  

More by Alexander Posey

My Fancy

Why do trees along the river
     Lean so far out o’er the tide?
Very wise men tell me why, but
    I am never satisfied;
And so I keep my fancy still,
    That trees lean out to save
The drowning from the clutches of
    The cold, remorseless wave.

Assured

Be it dark; be it bright;
    Be it pain; be it rest;
Be it wrong; be it right—
    It must be for the best.

Some good must somewhere wait,
    And sometime joy and pain
Must cease to alternate,
    Or else we live in vain.

To My Wife

I’ve seen the beauty of the rose,
I’ve heard the music of the bird,
And given voice to my delight;
I’ve sought the shapes that come in dreams,
I’ve reached my hands in eager quest,
To fold them empty to my breast;
While you, the whole of all I’ve sought—
The love, the beauty, and the dreams—
Have stood, thro’ weal and woe, true at
My side, silent at my neglect.

Related Poems

Hermitage

It’s true there were times when it was too much
and I slipped off in the first light or its last hour
and drove up through the crooked way of the valley

and swam out to those ruins on an island.
Blackbirds were the only music in the spruces,
and the stars, as they faded out, offered themselves to me

like glasses of water ringing by the empty linens of the dead.
When Delilah watched the dark hair of her lover
tumble, she did not shatter. When Abraham

relented, he did not relent.
Still, I would tell you of the humbling and the waking.
I would tell you of the wild hours of surrender,

when the river stripped the cove’s stones
from the margin and the blackbirds built
their strict songs in the high

pines, when the great nests swayed the lattice
of the branches, the moon’s brute music
touching them with fire.

And you, there, stranger in the sway
of it, what would you have done
there, in the ruins, when they rose

from you, when the burning wings
ascended, when the old ghosts
shook the music from your branches and the great lie

of your one sweet life was lifted?

Songs of the Spavinaw

I am the river of Spavinaw,
    I am the river of pain;
Sadness and gladness must answer my law;
Measure for measure I give, and withdraw
Back through the hills of the Spavinaw,
    Hiding away from the plain.

I am the river of Spavinaw;
    I sing the songs of the world;
Dashing and whirling, swishing and swirling,
Delicate, mystical, silvery spray hurling,
    Sing I the songs of the world,
    The passionate songs of the world.

I sing of laughter and mirth,
    And I laugh in a gurgle of glee
As the myriad joys of the earth
    Trip through the light with me.
Gay shallows dimple, sparkle and ripple.
    Like songs that a lover would sing,
      Skipping in moonlight,
      Tripping in moonlight,
    Whispering echoes of spring.

And again
    I move with the slow sadness of pain.
In my dark blue deep, where the shadows creep,
    I catch up life’s sorrows and mirror them back again.
And my song is a throbbing, pitiful sobbing,
    Choked by an agonized pain.

And then
    I move forth toward the beckoning north,
       And I sing of the power of men.
           As I dash down my falls,
           As I beat at my walls
Frantically fighting, running and righting,
All through the flood, through the snarling and biting,
       I sing of the power of men,
       Of the hurry and power of men.

       I am the river of Spavinaw,
       I am the giver of pain;
Sadness and gladness must answer my law;
Measure for measure I give, and withdraw
Back through the hills of the Spavinaw,
       Hiding away from the plain.

At Lumen-Empty Monastery, Visiting the Hermitage of Master Jung, My Departed Friend

The blue-lotus roof standing beside a pond,
White-Horse Creek tumbling through forests,

and my old friend some strange thing now.
A lingering visitor, alone and grief-stricken

after graveside rites among pines, I return, 
Looking for your sitting-mat spread on rock.

Bamboo that seems always my own thoughts:
It keeps fluttering here at your thatch hut.