Never Enough of Living

- 1899-1988

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.

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.
 

Midsummer

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! 

Related Poems

I Am a Little World Made Cunningly (Holy Sonnet V)

I am a little world made cunningly
Of elements, and an angelic spright,
But black sin hath betrayed to endless night
My worlds both parts, and oh! both parts must die.
You, which beyond that heaven which was most high
Have found new spheres and of new lands can write,
Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might
Drown my world with my weeping earnestly,
Or wash it, if it must be drowned no more:
But oh! it must be burnt; alas the fire
Of lust and envy burnt it heretofore,
And made it fouler; Let their flames retire,
And burn me, O Lord, with a fiery zeal
Of thee and thy house, which doth in eating heal.

Alms

My heart is what it was before,
      A house where people come and go;
But it is winter with your love,
      The sashes are beset with snow.

I light the lamp and lay the cloth,
      I blow the coals to blaze again;
But it is winter with your love,
      The frost is thick upon the pane.

I know a winter when it comes:
      The leaves are listless on the boughs;
I watched your love a little while,
      And brought my plants into the house.

I water them and turn them south,
      I snap the dead brown from the stem;
But it is winter with your love,—
      I only tend and water them.

There was a time I stood and watched
      The small, ill-natured sparrows’ fray;
I loved the beggar that I fed,
      I cared for what he had to say,

I stood and watched him out of sight;
      Today I reach around the door
And set a bowl upon the step;
      My heart is what it was before,

But it is winter with your love;
      I scatter crumbs upon the sill,
And close the window,—and the birds
      May take or leave them, as they will.

Heart's Desire

My heart’s desire was like a garden seen
On sudden through the opening of a door
In the grey sheet of life, unguessed before
But now how magic in sun-smitten green:
Wide cedar-shaded lawns, the glow and sheen
Of borders decked with all a gardener’s lore,
Long shaven hedges of old yew, hung o’er
With gossamer, wide paths to please a queen,
Whose happy silken skirts would brush the dew
From peonies and lupins white and blue.
Enchanted, there I lingered for a space,
Forgetful of the street, of tasks to do.
But when I would have entered that sweet place
The wind rose and the door slammed in my face.