American Author, Poet, Playwright, Novelist, Travel Writer and Editor
Before The Rain -
We knew it would rain, for all the morn
A spirit on slender ropes of mist
Was lowering its golden buckets down
Into the vapory amethyst.
Of marshes and swamps and dismal fens--
Scooping the dew that lay in the flowers,
Dipping the jewels out of the sea,
To sprinkle them over the land in showers.
We knew it would rain, for the poplars showed
The white of their leaves, the amber grain
Shrunk in the wind--and the lightning now
Is tangled in tremulous skeins of rain!
At A Reading -
The spare professor, grave and bald,
Began his paper. It was called,
I think, "A Brief Historic Glance
At Russia, Germany, and France."
A glance, but to my best belief
'T was almost anything but brief--
A wide survey, in which the earth
Was seen before mankind had birth;
Strange monsters basked them in the sun,
Behemoth, armored glyptodon,
And in the dawn's unpractised ray
The transient dodo winged its way;
Then, by degrees, through slit and slough,
We reached Berlin--I don't know how.
The good Professor's monotone
Had turned me into senseless stone
Instanter, but that near me sat
Hypatia in her new spring hat,
Blue-eyed, intent, with lips whose bloom
Lighted the heavy-curtained room.
Hypatia--ah, what lovely things
Are fashioned out of eighteen springs!
At first, in sums of this amount,
The eighteen winters do not count.
Just as my eyes were growing dim
With heaviness, I saw that slim,
Erect, elastic figure there,
Like a pond-lily taking air.
She looked so fresh, so wise, so neat,
So altogether crisp and sweet,
I quite forgot what Bismarck said,
And why the Emperor shook his head,
And how it was Von Moltke's frown
Cost France another frontier town.
The only facts I took away
From the Professor's theme that day
Were these: a forehead broad and low,
Such as antique sculptures show;
A chin to Greek perfection true;
Eyes of Astarte's tender blue;
A high complection without fleck
Or flaw, and curls about her neck.
The rain has ceased, and in my room
The sunshine pours an airy flood;
And on the church's dizzy vane
The ancient cross is bathed in blood.
From out the dripping ivy leaves,
Antiquely carven, gray and high,
A dormer, facing westward, looks
Upon the village like an eye.
And now it glimmers in the sun,
A globe of gold, a disk, a speck;
And in the belfry sits a dove
With purple ripples on her neck.
IRST, two white arms that held him very close,
And ever closer as he drew him back
Reluctantly, the loose gold-colored hair
A thousand delicate fibers reaching out
Still to detain him; then some twenty steps
Of iron stairs winding round and down,
And ending in a narrow gallery hung
With Goblin tapestries--Andromeda
Rescued by Perseus, and the sleek Diana
With her nymphs bathing; at the farther end
A door that gave upon a starlit grove
Of citron and clipt palm-trees; then a path
As bleached as moonlight, with the shadow of leaves
Stamped black upon it; next a vine-clad length
Of solid masonry; and last of all
A Gothic archway packed with night, and then--
A sudden gleaming dagger through his heart.
To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent - that is to triumph over old age.