Revery

- 1888-1958

              1.
I was the starlight
I was the moonlight
I was the sunset,
Before the dawning
          Of my life;
I was the river
Forever winding
To purple dreaming,
I was the glowing
Of youthful Springtime,
I was the singing
Of golden songbirds,—
        I was love.

            2.
I was the sunlight,
I was the twilight, 
I was the humming
Of winged creatures
    Ere my birth;
I was the blushing
Of lily maiden,
I was the vision
Of youthful striving,
I was the summer,
I was the autumn,
I was the All-time—
      I was love.

In the Evening

                    I
In the evening, love returns,
   Like a wand’rer ’cross the sea;
In the evening, love returns
   With a violet for me;
In the evening, life’s a song,
   And the fields are full of green;
All the stars are golden crowns,
   And the eye of God is keen.

                   II
In the evening, sorrow dies
   With the setting of the sun;
In the evening, joy begins,
   When the course of mirth is done;
In the evening, kisses sweet
   Droop upon the passion vine;
In the evening comes your voice:
   “I am yours, and you are mine.”

The Minister

          I mastered pastoral theology, the Greek of the Apostles, and all the difficult subjects in a minister’s curriculum.
          I was as learned as any in this country when the Bishop ordained me.
          And I went to preside over Mount Moriah, largest flock in the Conference.
          I preached the Word as I felt it, I visited the sick and dying and comforted the afflicted in spirit.
          I loved my work because I loved my God.
          But I lost my charge to Sam Jenkins, who has not been to school four years in his life.
          I lost my charge because I could not make my congregation shout.   
          And my dollar money was small, very small.
          Sam Jenkins can tear a Bible to tatters and his congregation destroys the pews with their shouting and stamping.
          Sam Jenkins leads in the gift of raising dollar money.
          Such is religion.

The Miracle

Though I was dwelling in a prison house, 
My soul was wandering by the carefree stream
Through fields of green with gold eyed daisies strewn, 
And daffodils and sunflower cavaliers. 
And near me played a little browneyed child, 
A winsome creature God alone conceived, 
“Oh, little friend,” I begged. “Give me a flower
That I might bear it to my lonely cell.” 
He plucked a dandelion, an ugly bloom, 
But tenderly he placed it in my hand, 
And in his eyes I saw the sign of love. 
‘Twas then the dandelion became a rose. 

Related Poems

Douce Souvenance

Again, as always, when the shadows fall,
    In that sweet space between the dark and day, 
I leave the present and its fretful claims
    And seek the dim past where my memories stay. 
I dream an old, forgotten, far-off dream, 
     And think old thoughts and live old scenes anew, 
Till suddenly I reach the heart of Spring—
    The spring that brought me you!
I see again a little woody lane, 
    The moonlight rifting golden through the trees;
I hear the plaintive chirp of drowsy bird
    Lulled dreamward by a tender, vagrant breeze;
I hold your hand, I look into your eyes,
    I touch your lips,—oh, peerless, matchless dower!
Oh, Memory thwarting Time and Space and Death!
    Oh, Little Perfect Hour!

Remembered Light

The years are a falling of snow,
Slow, but without cessation,
On hills and mountains and flowers and worlds that were;
But snow and the crawling night in which it fell
May be washed away in one swifter hour of flame.
Thus it was that some slant of sunset
In the chasms of piled cloud—
Transient mountains that made a new horizon,
Uplifting the west to fantastic pinnacles—
Smote warm in a buried realm of the spirit,
Till the snows of forgetfulness were gone.

Clear in the vistas of memory,
The peaks of a world long unremembered,
Soared further than clouds, but fell not,
Based on hills that shook not nor melted
With that burden enormous, hardly to be believed.
Rent with stupendous chasms,
Full of an umber twilight,
I beheld that larger world.

Bright was the twilight, sharp like ethereal wine
Above, but low in the clefts it thickened,
Dull as with duskier tincture.

Aftermath

Can’st thou conjure a vanished morn of spring,
        Or bid the ashes of the sunset glow
Again to redness? Are we strong to wring
        From trodden grapes the juice drunk long ago?
Can leafy longings stir in Autumn's blood,
        Or can I wear a pearl dissolved in wine,
Or go a-Maying in a winter wood,
        Or paint with youth thy wasted cheek, or mine?
What bloom, then, shall abide, since ours hath sped?
        Thou art more lost to me than they who dwell
In Egypt's sepulchres, long ages fled;
        And would I touch—Ah me! I might as well
Covet the gold of Helen's vanished head,
        Or kiss back Cleopatra from the dead!