the secret poems
of mary c. landon




mary landon mackenzie’s
collected poetry, 1931 to 1937
edited by lee manchester
The secret poems
of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems
     of Mary C. Landon
       By Mary Landon MacKenzie
        Edited by Lee Manchester




COPYRIGHT © 2...
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon

First published as a supplement to the Spring 2005 issue of Blueline
magazine as “Coll...
Foreword
       This is an unusual volume of poetry, in more ways than you
would ever imagine.
       A young Lake Placid ...
between 1931 and 1937, from Mary Landon’s late teens into her
early twenties. Many of the poems were, of course, merely
in...
Mary C. Landon’s 1930
Lake Placid High School
   yearbook picture
Mary Landon
                MacKenzie
                            1914–2003
          (Reprinted from the Lake Placid News...
Mary died last week, on Tuesday, April 15. She was 89
years old. She had suffered from a painful, prolonged illness, one
t...
Placid’s history. She explained the importance of its restoration in
a pamphlet she wrote for project:

     Mill Pond was...
means the only publication to result from Mary’s historic
scholarship. She wrote numerous articles for Adirondack Life
mag...
I’ve had to do a lot of research and snooping around, and
     I’ve been able to learn in a comparatively short time what
...
The poems
Undated
1.     The churchyard of Bree

1931
2.     A black cat walks among my roses
3.     Desire
4.     America...
1933
22.    American tragedy No. 2
23.    Hic jacet
24.    Seen from a window in the town hall
25.    Discourse to an Epis...
49.    The sophisticates
50.    Thought at dusk
51.    Lines for winter
52.    Lines to Omar Khayyam
53.    Negro dancer
5...
1936
76.    Ten-Fork River (a river chantey)
77.    Rendezvous
78.    Evening in April
79.    Song of the vagabond
80.    ...
104. When I lie down in Leydon Square
105. Fraught with the mum of dreams
106. Treasure
107. Oh, man, if you behold her
10...
134. The little island Tanick
135. The peddler
136. Death song of Mahmud Khan in a Persian garden
137. Life, inarticulate
...
1. The churchyard of Bree
Some say that these are dead,
And some, but dreaming:
But I can tell you nought
Of things unseem...
2. A black cat walks among my roses
Little black cat among my roses,
It is just the wind whispering in the tall grasses.
Y...
3. Desire
I ask but this of life:

To climb a hill on winged feet
Where tall trees stand forlorn,
Up where the laughter of...
4. American tragedy No. 1
I said to you, “Oh, don’t you think
The moon is nice tonight?”
And all you did was smile and say...
5. Upon being asked why I am late
You say in stern reproof, dear sir,
That I am late — and why?
(Silence is golden, someon...
6. We shall climb a windy hill
We shall climb a windy hill
Where clouds roam;
We shall run down laughing,
Turn again home....
7. Quest
I haunt the highways of the world to ask who knows
What these may be: the spell of love, the moon, a rose.

I ask...
8. Forgotten
You smile at this pale rose laid in a book,
Forgotten. Yet did you not know
The wail of waters and the scent ...
9. Disillusion
Could I have back each whispered prayer,
It would be nothing more
Than soft, sad voices of the wind
Come cr...
10. To Sonja Henie, upon seeing her for the
first time at the III Olympic Winter Games
Come, silver bird, and let me clip ...
11. Coquette
I kissed soft fingertips to Love
In taunting coquetry,
And when Love smiled, I gaily fled
And bade him follow...
In May 1932 Mary Landon was moved by the next poem, written by
Daniel Whitehead Hicky. Published in McCall’s Magazine, the...
12b. Answer (to Daniel Whitehead Hicky)
O candlelight, o joyous fire,
O gay dream of a wild desire
That will not die — and...
13. Supplication
I do not want too many gifts:
A gypsy heart; contentment dies
A pale, wan death at sullen dawn.
Put stard...
14. An old love
I thought I had forgotten, yet
Just now you passed and spoke my name:
My wayward heart is one mad song
And...
15. Song
There are so many songs this world can sing:
The lilt of shattered laughter in the spring;
The vagabond’s flamenc...
16. Gypsy tea
Tea leaves in an amber cup:
Black eyes, what is there?
“Rubies for your slender throat,
Diamonds for your ha...
17. Two candles
I am like two candles,
One a steady glow
On a teakwood table,
Passionless and slow,

One a twisting ghost ...
18. A night at home
The clock upon the mantle strikes the hour.
And where are you? Have you forever gone?
Night closes lik...
19. I fall in love again
I have been walking this long street tonight
In search of you, and now my weary eyes
Are like two...
20. A sleepless night
How long is forever?
Can it be longer than tonight?
I am a corpse with pennied eyes,
And blanched wi...
21. Marcy trail on a rainy day
I have seen people hug their fireplace on days like this.

I could tell them of open shelte...
22. American tragedy No. 2
These silver birches are like ghosts
That twine slim fingers in the night’s black hair.
This tr...
23. Hic jacet
Now the morning sunlight creeps into my room
And I stir sleepily, opening one eye to look at my clock,
Stret...
24. Seen from a window in the town hall
A man and a woman …
Two women and a man …
Wet trees swaying
Like a ragged fan …
An...
25. Discourse to an Episcopal clergyman
I can think of nothing more
When I pass your door
And your churlish little white d...
26. Strategem, or, love’s labor lost
I was coy and shy;
You laughed at me.

I was sophisticated and worldly;
You frowned.
...
27. To Lenore, telling my fortune
You, with your artful imagination, twirl my tea cup
     and conceive tales like vivid t...
28. Shades of Utopia
Let us be honest with ourselves
And with each other.

Let us be brave and meet fact
With fact;
Let us...
29. The hour flies
I can hear time passing down the years,
And I can hear the years dying.

When I stand very straight and...
30. The return
Light all the lamps in the windows:
I shall not come home.
I shall stay out here with the wind.
I want to r...
31. Over the teacups
Here riseth the smoke from the battleground:
Confused voices, bloody countenances, glittering, lustfu...
32. Poem without a title
My love for you is like
The spring trees edged with silver in the rain,
And white fog lifting ove...
33. Maris
What’s behind a mask?
Let me look ...
Nothing! Nothing there at all —
Only ragged edges where the mask fits on,
...
34. Justice Court
From up on the dais the Justice stares down,
Digesting his dinner with a practiced frown.

Out in the co...
35. Cacoethes scribendi
Let the scientists sputter and gamble and guess,
Let the clergymen preach and the christians trans...
36. Lake Placid Club chimes
Come down, twilight,
The dream is done.
Tired faces turn homeward,
And one pale star
Twines it...
The houses squat hungrily along the dim streets
And open their narrow mouths.
Soon they will belch forth hollow noises
Lik...
37. Goodbye
I’ve said goodbye
On more romantic nights than this.
Do you think I
Will sadly treasure your last kiss?
(Why, ...
38. No answer
Ring, telephone, ring.
There is no one here,
Only me, a shadow,
Only me, a dream.

Ring, telephone, ring.

I...
39. Epitaph
Say that I loved old hills and running wind,
Magnolia trees beneath the cold starlight,
Earth steeped in brood...
40. To a man upon hearing him suck his teeth for the 14th time
Sir,
What mad, unconquerable, demoniacal fury in your soul
...
41. Ennui, produced by inconsistencies of the weather
Life, what do you want with me?

I am disgusted with the barbaric, b...
42. Orchestra
We are dancing together again …
Why are we still?
Why do we cling like clouds
On a tall hill?
Why do we drif...
We are dancing together again
In the room where our love lies dying,
And even above the saxophone’s wail
I hear it crying.
43. Spring fantasy
And what if you return some April afternoon
(Afternoon gray and moist with unshed tears)
And stand befo...
44. Miser
I saved my tears like golden coins
And spent my laughter wantonly
And flung away my bright-winged hours,
My care...
45. Hunger (a short story)
You threw me little crumbs of hope
On which my hungry heart I fed.
You knew I starved, and yet ...
46. On things Oscar Wilde
This is wisdom:
To welcome life
With trumpet blast
And shriek of fife;
To bid farewell
And let d...
47. Passing stranger
Speak, you the enchanted …
In the shadowed,
Sinuous contours of your face
Lurks the moment memorable....
48. Mise en scene
When we two die, there’ll be no wind or rain;
Only the poignant peace that follows pain.
Then we shall h...
49. The sophisticates
Softly at first,
The gentle patter
Of your conversation
Comes to my ears
Like cool, winding rain.

T...
50. Thought at dusk
Once when I crossed the fields at the day’s red end,
Down where the brook runs cold and the willows be...
51. Lines for winter
Far in the west I heard the frightened cry
Of lone lost birds, like arrows in the sky,
And heard the ...
52. Lines to Omar Khayyam
Omar … I know not where you are;
I know this only: death is far,
And we hear not from those who ...
53. Negro dancer
Wiggle your thighs, black girl.
Strut your stuff to the rhythm of
clapping hands and the pagan drums.
Swi...
54. An open letter to Ogden Nash
Dear Mr. Nash: I do not want to seem pugnacious,
      downright whimsical or irascible,
...
55. Epitaph
(After Keats, who desired that on his tomb should be inscribed:
“Here lieth one whose name was writ on water.”...
56. The song I sing
This is the song I sing:
Love and laughter and sorrow;
Wanton and wine tonight,
Tears on the bleak tom...
57. Will of Lucy Ann Walker, 1853
I give to my daughter,
Sarah M. Thew,
My old home farm
In Lot 52.
(Honeysuckle, thorn ro...
And unto my nephew,
One Hezekiah Rand,
I give all that parcel
And lot of land
That young Briand Hoffman
Formerly leased.

...
58. Prayer for spring
Spring is such a little time
Before white frost:
Teach me to care, and count
No moment lost.

Love i...
59. Song of a sailor (written in collaboration with Marjorie)
I met an old woman who never saw the sea;
She was gaunt, and...
60. A jingle
Cows in the yellow corn,
Cows in the red clover,
What will you do — will you do,
Now that summer is over?

Bi...
61. Desolation
I shall go out in the sun and the wind and the dry
Clean air, where the trees are naked and strange and the...
62. Voices
… And then I heard them singing on the hillside.
I listened, and I heard my lost loves say:
Sorrow in a smile a...
63. Spring evening
(Rachmaninoff’s Prelude, heard through an open window)

Was it for this, O hungry heart, that you seale...
64. Ballad of a bird who flew free
The parakeet’s flown from his painted cage,
Wanton and wild he is winging;
We’ve whistl...
65. Frogs sang in the morning
The frogs sang in the morning,
Stars scattered on the grass,
The yellow fog slipped by me —
...
66. To a certain young man who requested
      me to write a poem about him
What can you take from me — my dreams?
     Bu...
67. Warning
Love the lost lane,
A tale once told,
High laughter in
A room grown cold,
Lilacs and youth
And dying eyes,
The...
68. Delusion
If you can be sure you love me,
You can be sure that a song
Is not sweet nor a singer glad,
And life is not l...
69. Dream journey
Oh, I shall go to Singapore, beyond the China Sea,
And down the Rhine to Dusseldorf and up the dunes to ...
70. Old man on a porch
Because he was old, they thought he would remember
Nothing, the years long gone or vanished faces,
...
71. Farewell, and give applause
Love is a dark room
Beyond a bolted door:
Farewell, and come no more.

Clasp hands with th...
72. Words for a song
Over the hills and far away
And years and years gone by,
You were a piper’s whistling son
And a wild ...
73. Enchanted
Where are you, son? It was his mother calling
Over the pasture rim. He made no sound.
He might have been dea...
74. Night waking
Night and swift waking …
Stupid, no one’s there!
It is the wind that walks
On the listening stair.

Night...
75. The lost lover
Only one song I sing:
Over and over
The sorrowing words
Of the lost lover.

Will you not listen,
Will y...
76. Ten-Fork River (a river chantey)
Ten-Fork River
Runs through the town,
Rusty, musty,
Yellow and brown;
Silt in the spr...
77. Rendezvous
House on a dark mountain,
Blue beech tree and gate —
Here on a summer morning
I’d lay me down and wait,

He...
78. Evening in April
Patter of raindrops on the gabled roof,
Click of the naked boughs,
Sorrow of the spring:
Heart, you m...
79. Song of the vagabond
I’ll take the high ways that hie to the blue hills
And white hills, whiter than a wild goose feat...
80. So still the silver maples are
So still the silver maples are,
And down the moon the hills lie far;
A night to lightly...
81. Barbary Coast
Barbary Coast! When I was young,
The words were honey on my tongue,
And sweet with solemn mysteries
Of p...
82. Hill song
Where is my lover gone?
Where you will never go,
Long on the sighing deep,
Silver and slow.

How shall I fol...
83. Vigilante
If, one day, in those star-bright solitudes
Beyond Aldebaran, on moon-white sea,
I find you once again and t...
84. Dark hills, northward
Dark hills, northward,
Since I must leave you for a little time,
To jostle and be jostled in the...
85. Hegira
If I should ever escape this vigilant shell
And shed the prudent flesh and cloistered bone,
Mute and indignant ...
86. Since I must sing of sorrow …
Since I must sing of solitude and sorrow,
Be cautious,
Be over-wary of my rhyme.
There i...
87. Bugles
We steered the sluice and tied the swaying boat
To thin moon palings shaved from the moon’s pale throat.

“List...
88. When years have carven memory of this day
When years have carven memory of this day
Into imperishable stone, and chill...
89. Masquerade
Songs, be quick, hide!
Here is one who knows …
He will core your eyes out,
Tramp on your toes.

See his hot...
90. Weatherwise
I should find some meaning in this moment,
According to the poet:
Yet if a truth has earthed itself for me...
91. Letter to Korea
Again it is autumn.
The blue squills are faded. The
Asters are burned out.
The black beans of the red ...
92. Opalescent Gorge
Slowly, studiously, with hushed labor, he must have carved
With chisel and hammer his name on the gra...
93. I shall go back
I shall go back one day to the curving shore
And wonder why I cannot resent you any more;
Why it is th...
94. Night running brook
My father’s house was back in the bogland,
Hard by a brook that sprang from a dune;
All night long...
95. Desert flower
Sorrow again: and who’s to care
If I lie down or rise to bear?

Singing again: and who’s to hear
The wor...
96. If to the last hill
If to the last hill I must clamber eager,
So I shall be willing at the end of my span.
Life at the...
97. Here lies Jennifer Downs
Life was too hard with me:
All that it gave me
Was trouble to carry
And sorrow to lave me,

A...
98. Now farewell, Bree
Now farewell, Bree, for I must rise
And write my sorrow on the skies
And quicken the reluctant pace...
99. Escape
Where are you bound, young man, with the April morning?
The town needs none of your kind
     and the world wan...
100. Wear you a crown to die for
Wear you a crown to die for, man, then die.
Death is the land to bear away the willow;
So...
101. Let these be
Let these be as words on your mouth:
Cries that lie in a curlew’s throat;
Dark hills north and dark hill...
102. Here lies a most beautiful lady
Here lies a most beautiful lady of Leydon Square,
But I am not heeding the way of her...
103. Mine was the voice
I am the one who wooed you away from the falling waters;
I bore you hence when fear combed the net...
104. When I lie down in Leydon Square
When I lie down in Leydon Square
The belfry bells do toll;
From lane and brake, from...
105. Fraught with the mum of dreams
Fraught with the mum of dreams
All mortals musing walk,
And life’s not what it seems:
...
106. Treasure
Toil-worn fingers,
See what I have brought you!
A coin no bigger
Than an elkin’s thumb.
Clink it in a goblet...
107. Oh, man, if you behold her
Oh, man, if you behold her
As I beheld her once,
Turn the head to shoulder,
Blow the stick...
108. None that will find him here
None that will find him here,
Oh, none that will tarry
Long from the church the day
Seel...
109. Quarrel have I none
Quarrel have I none to seek with any man;
Let him stride about in the sun and speak as he choose;...
110. The shadow on the wall
The child was suddenly hushed, and the weeper,
For into the black-beamed house
A footfall came...
111. Surf
“What is the surf like?” he asked,
And I had to tell …
Like wrinkled oak leaves in a rainy chorus,
Like the long...
112. When from the wings of day
When from the wings of day five feathers have drifted down,
When the barred shadows sleep ...
113. Letitia Appleby
Weary at the last, I lay aside my burden
And pray to God the lightning will strike it where it stands...
114. From out the star-girt eventide
From out the star-girt eventide
Away to sea-girt lands,
The night leans down me half-...
115. Look away from these hills
Happy indeed you are, boy, were you born
      away from the sound
Of a sad river running ...
116. Thus to remain
Griselda and her long black hair
And the strong mountain air
Brought me to sleep at last …
O, never to...
117. These
Old dark hills for an old farmer
In a rough pine chair,
Frost come soon whenever he grows
Too old to care.

Mar...
118. The travelers
Why do you lie all day in the shade of the yew tree,
Man, since the way is long and the shadows bend?

...
119. I will bring you brown rain
I will bring you brown rain from out of a brown sky;
I will net you sunbeams from the bee...
120. From Ram to Hammersea
The woods were with me when I went
From Ram to Hammersea,
And when I turned my brogans home
The...
121. October planting
I called her in the garden;
I could not find her there.
The Chinese elms knew where,
But yet so sile...
122. Out of the waves of death
Out of the waves of death
I darted for a space,
All wondering of face
And short of breath.
...
123. Lacking all mortal courage
Lacking all mortal courage, still I stand
Unfaltering of eye, steadfast of hand,
And wait ...
124. How far are the hills
“How far are the hills from where we stand?”
Seelan, but I’d not know;
Far as the fens from Ham...
125. Portrait
Most beautiful, but gravely beautiful and wise
As preludes played on Sunday afternoons behind
A paneled door...
126. Now I lay me
Now I lay me. Where I go, I know not:
Where all children go, to the bright woods of May;
Where web-foote...
127. Once having loved you
Once having loved you, is it then so strange
I love you still,
Out of a lonely heart, from habi...
128. It is nothing to cry alone
It is nothing to cry alone, out of loneliness and despair,
For a love lived out in tyranny...
129. Light of my life
Light of my life, light of my life,
Burn out.
White nuns with midnight faces, come and flout
The can...
130. Winter, that lay on my heart
Winter, that lay on my heart like heavy stone, was lifted.
I did not question again, I h...
131. Cold, pale, enchanted voices
Cold, pale, enchanted voices,
Butter-thin voices over vast stretches of water
     in th...
132. Monk’s Wood
Once out of Monk’s Wood, the voice came clear
As the cygnet’s cry on the rusty mere;
And, oh, it was far,...
133. The thorn is in my side
The thorn is in my side.
I do not pluck it out,
And if I should or not
I am in doubt.

If joy...
134. The little island Tanick
Whenever I feel sad and useless and outworn,
I like to think again of Tanick in July,
Big as...
135. The peddler
Gypsy wares from a saddle pack was all he had to sell,
And I bought a pair of buckled shoes
      and a d...
136. Death song of Mahmud Khan in a Persian garden
Deep in the throat of night
Wild peacocks cry
Under the slow moon, unde...
137. Life, inarticulate
Life, inarticulate and meaningless, absurd
As feathers plumed in silly hats,
As one fleet, feather...
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon
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The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon

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When Lake Placid historian Mary MacKenzie died in 2003, her family discovered a cache of fine poetry she had kept hidden since the 1930s. The collection, first published under MacKenzie's maiden name of Mary C. Landon by the Adirondack literary magazine Blueline in 2005, is now available for a general audience. TO ORDER A BOUND, PRINTED EDITION, GO TO http://stores.lulu.com/marymackenzie

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The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon

  1. 1. the secret poems of mary c. landon mary landon mackenzie’s collected poetry, 1931 to 1937 edited by lee manchester
  2. 2. The secret poems of Mary C. Landon
  3. 3. The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon By Mary Landon MacKenzie Edited by Lee Manchester COPYRIGHT © 2005, LAKE PLACID PUBLIC LIBRARY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  4. 4. The Secret Poems of Mary C. Landon First published as a supplement to the Spring 2005 issue of Blueline magazine as “Collected poetry, 1931 to 1937,” by Mary Landon MacKenzie The poems of Mary Caroline Landon MacKenzie are copyright © 2005, Lake Placid (N.Y.) Public Library. All rights reserved. Robin Smith, who inherited the poems from Mary Landon MacKenzie, assigned the copyright for them to the library in 2004. Foreword by Lee Manchester copyright © 2005, Lake Placid (N.Y.) Public Library. All rights reserved. Mary MacKenzie’s obituary profile, written by Lee Manchester, was first published in the April 25, 2003, issue of the Lake Placid News. Reprinted by permission. “A Ship for Singapore,” by Daniel Whitehead Hicky, first appeared in the book “Bright Harbor,” published in 1932 by Henry Holt & Co. “A Ship for Singapore” was reprinted early that year in McCall’s magazine. The poem was also used as the lyric for a song, music by Kenneth Walton, arranged by William Stickles, published in 1935 by Chappell-Harms Inc., an apparently defunct music publisher out of Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.
  5. 5. Foreword This is an unusual volume of poetry, in more ways than you would ever imagine. A young Lake Placid woman wrote these poems. She wrote the first of them when she was 17 years old and already a year out of high school. She wrote the last of them — at least, the last of those with a date on them — when she was 23. And then, as far as we know, she just stopped writing poetry. She built a career, made a marriage, planted a garden, raised a house, climbed more than a few mountains, pursued a hobby in geology, and became active in local politics. Later in her life, she agreed to start compiling the history of her community, a task to which she dedicated nearly 40 years of her life. She became widely known — and well loved — for her skill, her insight, her voice, and her commitment to the North Country. And, through all of that, she hid away the poetry she had written as a young woman, telling no one that she’d written it. She saved it away, probably not knowing why but saving it nonetheless — because it was precious to her. Thank goodness that she did. THESE POEMS were written by Mary C. Landon, better known by her married name of Mary MacKenzie, who became the official historian of North Elba township and the village of Lake Placid. Mary died in the spring of 2003 at the age of 89. She was known among those interested in regional history as an energetic, rigorous researcher and imaginative prose stylist. Besides her reputation as a prolific, highly respected local historian, Mary was also known as a lifelong hiker and ADK member, an amateur geologist, and a renowned gardener. Her family and friends, however, did not know everything about Mary Landon MacKenzie. After she died we made a surprising discovery: There, in a drawer in her desk, was a large bundle of carefully typed poems, nearly all of them written
  6. 6. between 1931 and 1937, from Mary Landon’s late teens into her early twenties. Many of the poems were, of course, merely interesting — but many were deep and surprisingly well-written, or so it seemed at least to those who loved her. What was most surprising to us about Mary Landon’s poetry, however, wasn’t the poems themselves; it was their very existence. No one close to her had known a thing about her youthful avocation as a poet — yet there was the evidence, pages and pages of it, secretly preserved for more than 65 years. Clearly, Mary wanted us to find and read that poetry. Her impending death had been no secret — not to her, nor to anyone else — and she had carefully gone through all her papers well before her final hour, disposing of everything she did not want others to find after she had gone. Yet there was this bundle of poems, bound with a rubber band, sitting all by itself in a drawer, obviously waiting to be found. No one close to her knew then that she had written poetry — and no one knows why, when she was 23, she suddenly stopped. But there it was, all that poetry, waiting for us to do what we would with it. And, thanks to the generosity of Mary’s family and the Lake Placid Public Library, here it is in your hands, at last: a book that has been waiting patiently for you since 1937. It’s been worth the wait. Lee Manchester Editor
  7. 7. Mary C. Landon’s 1930 Lake Placid High School yearbook picture
  8. 8. Mary Landon MacKenzie 1914–2003 (Reprinted from the Lake Placid News, April 25, 2003) Seventeen years ago a student wrote a letter to Mary MacKenzie, official historian for Lake Placid and North Elba township. MacKenzie had recently spoken to his school class. Dear Ms. MacKenzie, I’m glad you came to our school. I want to know something. How do you know so much about Lake Placid? Your friend, Donny Hare A couple of weeks later, MacKenzie wrote back: Dear Donny, You were nice to write me, and I’m answering your letter as you asked. You want to know how I know so much about Lake Placid and its history. Well, I guess it’s like everything else. If you want to learn about a subject, you have to do a lot of studying, and that’s what I have done for 25 years. I’ve also gone to a lot of places to find out about our past — the National Archives in Washington, D.C., all the state offices in Albany, our county clerk’s office, and many museums. I have also studied old newspapers, books and magazines. It is a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun, too. Sincerely, Mary MacKenzie “A lot of hard work, but a lot of fun, too.” That was how Mary MacKenzie approached her job of nearly four decades as local historian, first of the town of North Elba, then of the village of Lake Placid — a job she defined as she went, gathering the documentary and photographic traces of our past, cataloguing them, and making sense of the patterns they revealed to an ever-interested community.
  9. 9. Mary died last week, on Tuesday, April 15. She was 89 years old. She had suffered from a painful, prolonged illness, one that led her to relinquish her historian’s post a little more than a year ago to a well-trained successor, Bev Reid. That same illness was what finally wore Mary down, say members of her family. In the end, her heart simply gave out. MARY WAS born in Lake Placid on March 12, 1914. No sooner had she graduated from Lake Placid High School in 1930, at the age of 16, than she went to work for Ernest Gamache, executive secretary of the local committee preparing for the 3rd Olympic Winter Games, scheduled here for 1932. “I don’t know how much time she actually put on the job, though,” said niece Nancy Beattie, co-owner of Bookstore Plus on Main Street and publisher of Mary’s book, “Lake Placid and North Elba: A History, 1800-2000.” “In her desk we found notebooks with page after page of truly astonishing poetry she wrote during that time,” Beattie said, “some of it surprisingly deep.” Mary’s work with the Olympic Committee decided her on a career as a secretary. Over the years she worked as a legal secretary, as Lake Placid’s acting village clerk, and for 21 years as Henry Uihlein’s personal secretary and office manager at Heaven Hill Farm. She retired from secretarial work in 1976. By that time Mary had already been official town historian for North Elba for a dozen years, receiving her appointment in 1964. Three years earlier she had been one of the founding members of the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society, created in 1961. She remained active in the society for the rest of her life, serving as an officer, a trustee and editor of its quarterly bulletin. Over the years Mary joined at least eight more county, regional, state and national historical associations, always using the expertise she gained to help her interpret local history for area civic and school groups. By the mid-1990s she had given more than 100 talks on Lake Placid history and had overseen the creation of more than 100 photo slides of historic photographs for use in her interpretive lectures. When the Mill Pond dam broke in April 1970, Mary was one of those who rallied the community behind their effort to rebuild the structure that had played such a key role in Lake
  10. 10. Placid’s history. She explained the importance of its restoration in a pamphlet she wrote for project: Mill Pond was born about 1853 … Two men laid a log dam across the Chubb River, impounding a picturesque body of water for the operation of a sawmill. … The pond was steeped in the early history of Lake Placid. … The village rose and grew and flourished on its shingle, saw and grist mills. … A railroad station, blacksmith shop, slaughter house, the American House hotel, George White’s Opera House, old-time country stores — all these lined the shores. Today, thanks to Mary and the rest of her committee, the Mill Pond dam stands again on the Chubb River, across from the railroad station on Averyville Road at the foot of Mill Hill off Cascade Road. Mary’s MacKenzie’s unique position as both town historian and former secretary to the director of the 3rd Olympic Winter Games led ABC Television and other media outlets to draw on her as a key source before and during the 1980 Games in Lake Placid. Shortly after the conclusion of those Games, Lake Placid named Mary its official village historian. For many years Mary MacKenzie had planned to write a book about Lake Placid and North Elba’s history, dating back not merely to the creation of the village (1900), the township (1850) or the first local settlement (1800) — but to the area’s geological formation, millions of years ago. Mary was, you see, not only a historian but also an avid amateur rock hound. She first joined the Northland Rock and Mineral Club in 1962, serving at different times as its program chairwoman and vice president. AND THAT wasn’t all. Mary was a long-time member of the Garden Club of Lake Placid, first joining in 1959. She was twice elected to the club’s executive board, first in 1959 and again in 1967. She also had an abiding interest in local partisan politics. In 1955 she joined the North Elba Women’s Republican Club, serving as its president in 1961 and 1962. From 1962 to 1964 she also served on the Lake Placid Village Republican Committee. Mary finally published a book on local history last year, just a few months before her death, with the help of nephew Chris Beattie and his wife Nancy. That book, however, was by no
  11. 11. means the only publication to result from Mary’s historic scholarship. She wrote numerous articles for Adirondack Life magazine, The Conservationist and Encyclopedia Americana as well as the two local newspapers, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and the Lake Placid News. Mary was also a frequent contributor to the newsletters of all the local historical societies. Two of her articles for the Lake Placid-North Elba society’s newsletter were reprinted as pamphlets for sale at the society’s museum. One of them, “History of the Village of Lake Placid, New York,” first published in 1970, is still probably the best short history of the community available. Mary MacKenzie was recognized over and over again for her extraordinary work as a local historian: • For 10 years she was listed in the “Who’s Who of American Women” because of her contributions to Adirondack history. • In 1992 she was inducted into the Lake Placid Hall of Fame. • She won the Clinton County Historical Society’s McMasters Prize. • She was given the “Bessie” Award of the North Country Local Historians Association for community service above and beyond the call of duty. • In 1997 the Association of Municipal Historians of New York State chose her as its Outstanding Historian of the Year. Finally, following the publication of her book last year, Mary won what she said was the award that meant the most to her, the Edmund J. Winslow Local Government Historian’s Award for Excellence. The award, given jointly by the Office of the State Historian of New York and the Association of Public Historians of New York State, recognizes excellence in one or more public history projects or publications. MARY BEGAN one of her many talks with a quote from Henry David Thoreau: Thoreau used to have a marvelous answer for people who asked him what the extent of his travels had been. He used to say, “I have traveled a great deal in Concord, Massachusetts.” Well, if anyone were to ask me where I had traveled, I could very well answer, “I have traveled a great deal in the town of North Elba.” I guess I’m luckier than most because, in my job as historian of North Elba,
  12. 12. I’ve had to do a lot of research and snooping around, and I’ve been able to learn in a comparatively short time what the average resident would not learn in a lifetime. This Saturday, April 26, Mary MacKenzie’s travels through the town of North Elba will come to an end. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. in the North Elba Cemetery. Family and friends are invited to be present at the interment of her cremains. Mary Landon MacKenzie March 12, 1914 — April 15, 2003
  13. 13. The poems Undated 1. The churchyard of Bree 1931 2. A black cat walks among my roses 3. Desire 4. American tragedy No. 1 5. Upon being asked why I am late 6. We shall climb a windy hill 1932 7. Quest 8. Forgotten 9. Disillusion 10. To Sonja Henie, upon seeing her for the first time at the III Olympic Winter Games 11. Coquette 12a. A ship for Singapore—by Daniel Whitehead Hicky 12b. Answer to Daniel Whitehead Hicky 13. Supplication 14. An old love 15. Song 16. Gypsy tea 17. Two candles 18. A night at home 19. I fall in love again 20. A sleepless night 21. Marcy trail on a rainy day
  14. 14. 1933 22. American tragedy No. 2 23. Hic jacet 24. Seen from a window in the town hall 25. Discourse to an Episcopal clergyman 26. Strategem, or, love’s labor lost 27. To Lenore, telling my fortune 28. Shades of Utopia 29. The hour flies 30. The return 31. Over the teacups 32. Poem without a title 33. Maris 34. Justice Court 35. Cacoethes scribendi 36. Lake Placid Club chimes 37. Goodbye 38. No answer 39. Epitaph 40. To a man upon hearing him suck his teeth for the 14th time 1934 41. Ennui, produced by inconsistencies of the weather 42. Orchestra 43. Spring fantasy 44. Miser 45. Hunger (a short story) 46. On things Oscar Wilde 47. Passing stranger 48. Mise en scene
  15. 15. 49. The sophisticates 50. Thought at dusk 51. Lines for winter 52. Lines to Omar Khayyam 53. Negro dancer 54. An open letter to Ogden Nash 55. Epitaph (after Keats) 1935 56. The song I sing 57. Will of Lucy Ann Walker, 1853 58. Prayer for spring 59. Song of a sailor (written in collaboration with Marjorie) 60. A jingle 61. Desolation 62. Voices 63. Spring evening (Rachmaninoff’s Prelude, heard through an open window) 64. Ballad of a bird who flew free 65. Frogs sang in the morning 66. To a certain young man who requested me to write a poem about him 67. Warning 68. Delusion 69. Dream journey 70. Old man on a porch 71. Farewell, and give applause 72. Words for a song 73. Enchanted 74. Night waking 75. The lost lover
  16. 16. 1936 76. Ten-Fork River (a river chantey) 77. Rendezvous 78. Evening in April 79. Song of the vagabond 80. So still the silver maples are 81. Barbary Coast 82. Hill song 83. Vigilante 84. Dark hills, northward 85. Hegira 86. Since I must sing of sorrow 87. Bugles 88. When years have carven memory of this day 89. Masquerade 90. Weatherwise 91. Letter to Korea 92. Opalescent Gorge 93. I shall go back 94. Night running brook 95. Desert flower 96. If to the last hill 97. Here lies Jennifer Downs 98. Now farewell, Bree 99. Escape 100. Wear you a crown to die for 101. Let these be 1937 102. Here lies a most beautiful lady 103. Mine was the voice
  17. 17. 104. When I lie down in Leydon Square 105. Fraught with the mum of dreams 106. Treasure 107. Oh, man, if you behold her 108. None that will find him here 109. Quarrel have I none 110. The shadow on the wall 111. Surf 112. When from the wings of day 113. Letitia Appleby 114. From out the star-girt eventide 115. Look away from these hills 116. Thus to remain 117. These 118. The travelers 119. I will bring you brown rain 120. From Ram to Hammersea 121. October planting 122. Out of the waves of death 123. Lacking all mortal courage 124. How far are the hills 125. Portrait 126. Now I lay me 127. Once having loved you 128. It is nothing to cry alone 129. Light of my life 130. Winter, that lay on my heart 131. Cold, pale, enchanted voices 132. Monk’s Wood 133. The thorn is in my side
  18. 18. 134. The little island Tanick 135. The peddler 136. Death song of Mahmud Khan in a Persian garden 137. Life, inarticulate 138. Seascape 139. Hunter’s wife 140. Watch for me in the wild thickets 141. Died young 142. Cherry blossoms: Uyeno Park 143. Lie down, lie down, my soul 144. Fall if you will 145. A brush dipped in amber Late, loose poems 146. If you have never touched the earth 147. Old Lady Cassidy 148. Please, God, no curlers tonight
  19. 19. 1. The churchyard of Bree Some say that these are dead, And some, but dreaming: But I can tell you nought Of things unseeming. The bells blow down, The swallows skirl, The oak leaves in a ragged whirl Run round to rue a ragged girl Asleep above the town.
  20. 20. 2. A black cat walks among my roses Little black cat among my roses, It is just the wind whispering in the tall grasses. You jump at each waving blade, You crouch softly as the rose leaves rustle, But it is only the wind, little cat. When you are old and fat and sleepy You will only blink your green-slitted eyes And yawn sleepily and snap At a spider spinning his web across the hollyhocks; No patterned shadow, no moving beam of sun, No sweep of wind will disturb your lazy contemplations. And so, little cat, just so — When I am old, and not even the laughter of the wind Can stir my heart, I shall only sit sleepily before my dying fire While the moon swings like a Japanese lantern And the sun dies blood-red beyond the hill, And I shall lift my head and watch The flickering shadows on the wall And see again black hair and eyes like woodland brooks And then … I shall count the rose petals One by one As they drop noiselessly from the blue jug on the sill, And fall asleep …
  21. 21. 3. Desire I ask but this of life: To climb a hill on winged feet Where tall trees stand forlorn, Up where the laughter of the wind And night and stars are born. To glide through forests, white and still, Where sad winds softly croon, And black trees, shivering, reach their thin, Gaunt fingers to the moon. To watch at dusk the stars roam down The meadows of the sky, And see the lonely sunset creep Beyond the moon and die.
  22. 22. 4. American tragedy No. 1 I said to you, “Oh, don’t you think The moon is nice tonight?” And all you did was smile and say In answer, “Guess you’re right.” I said, “I’m awfully cold, aren’t you?” I shivered by your side, And all you did was move away. “I’m smothered,” you replied. And then I said, “You kiss your girl When shooting stars go ’cross The sky.” But when one flashed just now You said, “Oh, applesauce!” Why don’t you say, “I love you, dear”? Don’t be so cold — it hurts. The evening’s almost gone, you know. “Let’s walk,” you say. Aw, nerts!
  23. 23. 5. Upon being asked why I am late You say in stern reproof, dear sir, That I am late — and why? (Silence is golden, someone wrote. Oh, yeah? Where is that guy?) You frown. You’re quite upset, I see. (Aw, gosh, come outta the fog! I told him yesterday I saw A man about a dog … ) Why am I late? (How can I say, “The mist was cobweb-thin This morning as I came, and dew Was on the grass.” He’d grin!) (How can I say, “The leaves were red Along the forest floor; I watched the sun-flecked waters dance And heard the wild wind roar.”) “Why are you late?” (A silly quiz! Absurd! Now, I should know?!) You say I’m very late — and why? Why, sir, my clock was slow!
  24. 24. 6. We shall climb a windy hill We shall climb a windy hill Where clouds roam; We shall run down laughing, Turn again home. Passion of a bird’s cry, Ruffled, white grass; Skies as red as rogue’s blood, Bright as burnished brass … You will hold my hot hand, Lay your lips on mine, In a field of Anne’s lace And dewy dandelion. We shall climb a windy hill … I shall say, “Stay forever, stranger … ” Dream, pass away …
  25. 25. 7. Quest I haunt the highways of the world to ask who knows What these may be: the spell of love, the moon, a rose. I ask a boy with laughing eyes and raven hair (His are the dreams of youth — words neither here nor there) What is the moon? “A swinging lantern or a gleaming scimitar.” What is a rose? “A dream as soft and shining as a trembling star.” And what is love? “A song that never dies, strummed on a sweet guitar.” I ask a man with trembling hands and faded eyes (His is the voice of age, as cold as winter skies) What is the moon? “Sad shadow of the sun; a scepter dim and cold.” What is a rose? “Dead petals laid within a book — to have and hold.” And what is love? “A flower that blooms at dawn, and dies when day grows old.”
  26. 26. 8. Forgotten You smile at this pale rose laid in a book, Forgotten. Yet did you not know The wail of waters and the scent of spring Beneath bright stars, long years ago? You laugh as, eagerly, I raise my head When wild winds roar and willows bend, Cry out and rush to open wide my door — You laugh. Have you forgotten, friend?
  27. 27. 9. Disillusion Could I have back each whispered prayer, It would be nothing more Than soft, sad voices of the wind Come crying at my door. Could I recall each gay, young dream, Each triumph wildly planned, I should have nothing more than this To hold: dust in the hand. And if I could know love again, I should know only this (Time is so swift, and love so brief): The touch of hands, a kiss.
  28. 28. 10. To Sonja Henie, upon seeing her for the first time at the III Olympic Winter Games Come, silver bird, and let me clip your wings. Stand silent here before me; still your cries. ’Tis but the touch of moonlight on old walls Is given power to soften these hard eyes. Who gave you right to still a brazen voice? This strange and breathless silence I have heard When I have climbed tall hills and watched the dawn. Come, let me clip your wings, o silver bird!
  29. 29. 11. Coquette I kissed soft fingertips to Love In taunting coquetry, And when Love smiled, I gaily fled And bade him follow me. Love lingered at his door till I Should seek his warm embrace. I came with silken pleas and found Love’s door slammed in my face!
  30. 30. In May 1932 Mary Landon was moved by the next poem, written by Daniel Whitehead Hicky. Published in McCall’s Magazine, the poem had been reprinted from his book, Bright Harbor, which had been published earlier that year. 12a. A ship for Singapore, by Daniel Whitehead Hicky A ship is sailing for Singapore — O heart be swift and latch the door! My fire burns bright and the shadows fall In yellow rhythms along the wall. My love sleeps near and her dreams are deep, Her lips a rose that has fallen asleep. The fire burns bright and the candles glow, And I must not go — I must not go! There is no peace I can know tonight, Though my love sleeps near and the fire burns bright, For stars will call from an Indian sky And a gold moon haunt me blowing by. The sea’s wild horses will leap and fly, Foam on their manes and wind in their eye! O heart be swift and latch the door — A ship is sailing for Singapore!
  31. 31. 12b. Answer (to Daniel Whitehead Hicky) O candlelight, o joyous fire, O gay dream of a wild desire That will not die — and shadows swift That steal across the walls and drift Along some dim and ageless track — Come take me back, come take me back! I hate this glaucous sea’s mad surge, These reedy, noisome winds that merge With sodden laughter from below. Each night gay ghosts from long ago Across this fitful moon dance black. O shadowed room, come take me back!
  32. 32. 13. Supplication I do not want too many gifts: A gypsy heart; contentment dies A pale, wan death at sullen dawn. Put stardust in my eyes. Let me know love, but do not give Too great a passion; embers glow Long after restless flames depart, And I would have it so. Let me have faith, for I have sped Beyond the barren stars’ last cry; Then put upon my lips a song — I will not let it die. And give me tears like golden coins To spend — the piper must be paid — And, O, just one small dream to dream, For I am half afraid.
  33. 33. 14. An old love I thought I had forgotten, yet Just now you passed and spoke my name: My wayward heart is one mad song And all my body one bright flame. Pale laughter plays upon my lips In scorn to find my heart the same: I thought I had forgotten, yet Just now you passed and spoke my name.
  34. 34. 15. Song There are so many songs this world can sing: The lilt of shattered laughter in the spring; The vagabond’s flamenco ’neath a star; The canzonet of silence … o how far From eloquence and earth that song is born, Conceived of quiet dusk and misted morn, The plaintive requiem of trembling tears And mem’ry, creeping down the dusty years. But there’s a sadder song than crumbling age: I’ve heard a wild bird singing in a cage.
  35. 35. 16. Gypsy tea Tea leaves in an amber cup: Black eyes, what is there? “Rubies for your slender throat, Diamonds for your hair.” Blue eyes, conjure up my fate; Call your specters down. “I see roses in a bowl And a scarlet gown.” Brown eyes: leaves of bitter tea, You have traveled far. “I can see no rubies there; I can see a star … ”
  36. 36. 17. Two candles I am like two candles, One a steady glow On a teakwood table, Passionless and slow, One a twisting ghost lamp On a window sill, Where the whining rains lash And the wind is shrill. Slowly dies the soft flame, Smothering a sigh. Swiftly dies the ghost lamp; Laughing winds ride by.
  37. 37. 18. A night at home The clock upon the mantle strikes the hour. And where are you? Have you forever gone? Night closes like the petals of a flower. The house is still; they softly slumber on. The little stars climbed up the sky last night, And you were near, so near — I thought I knew ... Tick, tock ... tick, tock ... tick, tock ... the endless flight Of time down wind-swept years ... Ah, where are you?
  38. 38. 19. I fall in love again I have been walking this long street tonight In search of you, and now my weary eyes Are like two broken windows where the moon Weaves restless patterns in a vain disguise. Tomorrow is as far-flung as the stars. I cannot wait — no, I must see you now, And just one smile for me — just one long smile — Will last the brooding night — oh, you know how! Somewhere you must be walking with that girl. O folly! I will search for you and meet Her watchful eyes, like two pernicious stars, A Sirius at belted Orion’s feet. ’Twill only mean an arrow in my heart To find you so, but deeper still the pain Of turning homeward now with empty eyes To wait and wonder till we meet again.
  39. 39. 20. A sleepless night How long is forever? Can it be longer than tonight? I am a corpse with pennied eyes, And blanched with pale moonlight. How far is oblivion? Can it be farther than this tree Whose shadow cuts across my bed And tears the heart of me? And will I forget you? No, I shall not forget ... never ... Fevered and tossing, here I lie ... How long is forever?
  40. 40. 21. Marcy trail on a rainy day I have seen people hug their fireplace on days like this. I could tell them of open shelters where the winds wail an endless song, And of brooks where stones are worn smooth by a timeless murmuring, And of writhing trails where the rain beats against your face and talks with the leaves and where the soft, rich earth gives gently beneath eager feet. I could tell them of clotted smoke rising from sultry, singing fires, And the scent of coffee, and dripping bacon, and fresh-cut wood. I could tell them of haughty, quiet pines and naked rocks where birds scream. There are people who hug their fires on days like this, Who look out at gray armies of rain stalking down ceaselessly, and shiver, Who turn to their bookshelves and read of gallant men and women And think they are escaping squalid misery, But who are only escaping life.
  41. 41. 22. American tragedy No. 2 These silver birches are like ghosts That twine slim fingers in the night’s black hair. This trembling sky, star-pricked, is like A priceless diadem a queen might wear. And this swift river at our feet Is like an arrow screaming through the night. I dream, and wake to hear you say, “My God! How long will these mosquitoes bite?”
  42. 42. 23. Hic jacet Now the morning sunlight creeps into my room And I stir sleepily, opening one eye to look at my clock, Stretching one arm over my pillow, Lazy, contented, drugged with sleep ... Then, suddenly, I remember that you have gone away And will never come back again, And suddenly I am not lazy or contented or drugged with sleep: I am awake, and tortured, and my eyes ache. But the morning sunlight still creeps into my room — You cannot stop that, my dear.
  43. 43. 24. Seen from a window in the town hall A man and a woman … Two women and a man … Wet trees swaying Like a ragged fan … And rain against the window, And rain in the street, And rain in the rhythm Of a drum’s thin beat. Smoke from sooty chimneys, Smoke from cigarets, Slim white spirals Of white minarets … And wind on the housetops, And wind in the trees, A wind like the echo Of a child’s thin sneeze. Girls along the sidewalk, A baby in a sled: “And he said to me, And I said … I said … ” And a bright new auto, And a rusty Ford … Take away the rain, The gray rain, Lord. A man and a woman … Two women and a man … Wet trees swaying Like a ragged fan … And rain against the window, And rain in the street, And rain in the rhythm Of a drum’s thin beat.
  44. 44. 25. Discourse to an Episcopal clergyman I can think of nothing more When I pass your door And your churlish little white dog Howls Than a man on a dais Preaching with bias With long black robe and flabby Jowls. A clergyman ... a white dog ... Tied on a chain — Barking at the moon And snapping at the rain.
  45. 45. 26. Strategem, or, love’s labor lost I was coy and shy; You laughed at me. I was sophisticated and worldly; You frowned. I was practical and severe; You were very polite. I became brooding and cynical; You were bored. I was loving and gentle; You avoided me. And then I came to the conclusion You didn’t love me. Oh, damn.
  46. 46. 27. To Lenore, telling my fortune You, with your artful imagination, twirl my tea cup and conceive tales like vivid tapestries. I, with my artless imagination, listen in rapt wonder and nourish them for my own delectation.
  47. 47. 28. Shades of Utopia Let us be honest with ourselves And with each other. Let us be brave and meet fact With fact; Let us relinquish dreams. Let us be charitable; Let us not gorge ourselves with ill-gotten spoils. Let us be peaceful And bid goodbye to our passions and our furies. Let us love one another And be decent to one another. Let us be gods.
  48. 48. 29. The hour flies I can hear time passing down the years, And I can hear the years dying. When I stand very straight and still, I can hear the hours laughing and weeping. I hear one little hour whining in my blue bowl on the shelf, And I hear another little hour climb up on the clock and sing, “tick, tock ... tick, tock,” And I hear another little hour patter along the floor, and stumble, and fall down, panting. I can hear the minutes beating against my door, And the hours singing in whispers, And the days laughing dull laughter, And the years crying to the stars. Why do you look at me so? You know It is only silence I hear.
  49. 49. 30. The return Light all the lamps in the windows: I shall not come home. I shall stay out here with the wind. I want to roam. Leave all the doors in the house wide: I shall pass them by. I am going up on a hill And watch the sky. Pile up the wood in the fireplace, And then let it flare: I am going where I can feel The rain in my hair. Just before dawn I came creeping, Cold and wet and thin; I knocked and called, but no one came: O, let me in!
  50. 50. 31. Over the teacups Here riseth the smoke from the battleground: Confused voices, bloody countenances, glittering, lustful eyes ... Listen ... “I hate him. Isn’t it ridiculous the way he makes a fool of himself over her?” “What does she see in him?” “What does he see in her?” “Did you hear about Helen? Please, my dear, don’t mention it to another soul — you know, it isn’t generally known.” “But of course not. You know anything you say to me stops right here.” “And his wife is the sweetest thing! I can’t imagine him running around with that silly girl.” “Common little streetwalker anyway. Do you know, someone even saw her going up to his apartment Saturday night.” “What amuses me is she thinks she’s absolutely beautiful, and she really looks common.” “Wasn’t that a hideous dress she wore to the dance?” “Some people have no taste at all.” “Isn’t he a horrible dancer?” “She’s an abominable bridge player.” “I saw her last Thursday night and she was so plastered they had to ask her to leave.” “Did you really? Where? I’ll bet it was that awful dump on the Military Road.” “Of course, now, girls, I really wouldn’t want you to repeat it for the world. After all, I believe in live and let live ... ” “But, darling ... ” Yes, and you, and you, and you.
  51. 51. 32. Poem without a title My love for you is like The spring trees edged with silver in the rain, And white fog lifting over a white plain, And children shouting down the shadowed street, And bells that toll at midnight, slow and sweet, And red moss crevicing a ruined mill — These things I love the best, and always will — And winds that pound at dusk upon my door — O, say this softly, Mary, softly, you Have heard these words before!
  52. 52. 33. Maris What’s behind a mask? Let me look ... Nothing! Nothing there at all — Only ragged edges where the mask fits on, Like the cover of a book With the pages gone.
  53. 53. 34. Justice Court From up on the dais the Justice stares down, Digesting his dinner with a practiced frown. Out in the courtroom the old lawyer stands, Fire in his eyes and glasses in his hands. The young attorney sweats and strives to be heard, And his thin voice twitters like a frightened bird. Over in the corner the constable snores In cocked hat and shining badge — and guards the doors. The defendant looks solemn and blows his nose. The witnesses fidget in their Sunday clothes. The wheel of justice turns with a creaking sigh; Out in the courtyard a truck lumbers by.
  54. 54. 35. Cacoethes scribendi Let the scientists sputter and gamble and guess, Let the clergymen preach and the christians transgress, Let the married ones quarrel and lovers caress — I’m young And I’ve got a new dress! Let ’em talk of Depression and let it depress, Let the government tax and excise and assess, Let the bridge players bid and renege and finesse — I’m young And I’ve got a new dress! Let the government get in a hell of a mess, Let it rain, let it snow — I don’t care, I confess, If it’s winter or summer in Denmark or Hesse, ’Cause I’m young And I’ve got a new dress! I know it’s important for tailors to press, And quite as important for bishops to bless, And the world is the same as it’s always been — yes! But I’m young An’ I’ve got a new dress!
  55. 55. 36. Lake Placid Club chimes Come down, twilight, The dream is done. Tired faces turn homeward, And one pale star Twines itself in a tamarack tree. The sun shakes his tawny mane Over a mountain And gallops away to the west. Come down, twilight, Stroke my tired head. Day is over, Toil is over, And the dream is done. Now weave another dream, More beautiful, Jeweled stars and night winds; Black water with its hungry mouth Pressed to old tree trunks; Soft wings and whispers ... Come home, say the chimes, And the lamps in the houses Sit gloomily on their haunches. Stay, stay! whisper the breezes, And run away, laughing, To catch a cloud of smoke peering over the top Of a dusty twilight chimney. Come home, say the chimes, And stay, stay! whisper the breezes, And the pain in my heart throbs And will not be still.
  56. 56. The houses squat hungrily along the dim streets And open their narrow mouths. Soon they will belch forth hollow noises Like the anguished wail of a trombone, Like the crash of cymbals, Like the thin beat of drums. Swoop down, twilight, On the dream that is done. Carry it away Over the hills, Away and away.
  57. 57. 37. Goodbye I’ve said goodbye On more romantic nights than this. Do you think I Will sadly treasure your last kiss? (Why, yes, of course; I have before, But that was months ago and more.) I’ve said farewell On windy hills where stars were bright, And silence fell Like one long cry across the night. (So, please, my dear, don’t be dramatic — Our parting is too emblematic!) And I have known How sadly phantoms cry at dawn And pale ghosts moan When night is dead and love is gone. (O silly fool! A modern maid Is strong and brave and unafraid.) Oh, yes, I’ve said goodbye On more romantic nights than this! I shall not sigh, I shall not treasure your last kiss, Not though our last, bright hour is dying. Goodbye, my dear. (Good God! I’m crying!)
  58. 58. 38. No answer Ring, telephone, ring. There is no one here, Only me, a shadow, Only me, a dream. Ring, telephone, ring. I am not home tonight. Here lies dream dust, The cadaver of joy, But I have gone away. Ring ... ring ... The silence shall answer you. Someone waiting there ... No answer ... ring again! Silence shall answer you ... Silence ... and a silent dark ... Who was it?
  59. 59. 39. Epitaph Say that I loved old hills and running wind, Magnolia trees beneath the cold starlight, Earth steeped in brooding symphonies of dark, Birds winging upward in an ecstasy of flight. Say that I loved the spring and cool woodsmoke, The scented rain and misted moons in May, Warm clover lying in the young spring grass, Remote church bells in vespers at the close of day. Say that I loved all these: the wind and rain, The clarion call of earth and lilac trees, Brown chestnuts roasting on a winter hearth, The black of night, white snow, and wistful, whining seas. Say that I loved all these beyond the grave — They shall not die. Can stars and spring meet death? Say not I loved you, too — ’tis but a dream That perished with my heart, that vanished with my breath.
  60. 60. 40. To a man upon hearing him suck his teeth for the 14th time Sir, What mad, unconquerable, demoniacal fury in your soul Drives you to this relentless, terrifying occupation? It seems a thousand years that I have clutched this chair, Benumbed, and taunted by some strange hallucination. Each haunting, terror-stricken moment of my life Returns, like some weird cavalcade of horsemen riding by, And in my palsied brain I hear the deafening roar Of great winds raging through a sunless sky. The fires of hell are tearing through this room; I feel their scorching tongues and heated breath. A thousand gory demons shriek and moan, And lips befouled with scarlet blood shriek, “Death!” I hear the rush of rotten waters passing through The quivering earth down to the bowels beneath, And muttered, mutilated words fall from my lips: “Oh, God, sir, Please don’t suck your teeth!”
  61. 61. 41. Ennui, produced by inconsistencies of the weather Life, what do you want with me? I am disgusted with the barbaric, bestial qualities in your men and women. I am annoyed by the insulting, petty trifles of my colorless existence. I am bored by the monotonous, passionless assemblance of your seasons. I am depressed by your glaring sunlight, and your moonlight weaves a madness within me that too soon passes. Your scenery is terrifying in its strangeness and immobility. Your promises are only dreams, and your dreams are too-stark realities. Life, what do you want with me? Leave me; I have neither need nor desire for your company. Take your hand from my shoulder; it is heavy, and your touch is nauseating. You won’t leave? How permanent and maddening are friends who refuse to terminate a conversation when it has become tedious and exhausted!
  62. 62. 42. Orchestra We are dancing together again … Why are we still? Why do we cling like clouds On a tall hill? Why do we drift down this narrow room Like a song that is ending — Lovely and sad and lonely, The drums and the violins blending? Listen … Do you remember Spring and wind and the scent of rain, And the sound of a panting, tortured tree, And the cry of our hearts’ new pain Played on the strings of ecstasy? We strayed in the dream of a reckless hour To the hill beyond the town Where the grasses lay in the fragrant dew And night and the stars came down … Madness and swift enchantment … Our fingers brushing the sky, We did not care nor remember We would die as lovers die, Nor hear the crash of our trembling gods As they shattered like glass and fell, Nor the sound of our swift and sweet ascent To heaven — and back to hell — Nor hear the world in its falling, Soundless as soundless snow, And swifter than fleeing birds In the whisper of rain — but, no, We were alone and shining Under the bloodless sky, And the wild wind came and tore at our throats In a strange and answering cry. Where is our lost and broken laughter? What comes after? What comes after?
  63. 63. We are dancing together again In the room where our love lies dying, And even above the saxophone’s wail I hear it crying.
  64. 64. 43. Spring fantasy And what if you return some April afternoon (Afternoon gray and moist with unshed tears) And stand before me on some windless hill, Smiling your careless smiles that sooth my restless fears, And reach your trembling hand to break a brittle twig (You have done this before) from some lone tree, And, standing so, with sunlight in your hair, Twist it with nervous hands, the while you look at me. And what if — wordless gesture — you should fold your hands, And move your lips in silent litany … Return, O deathless dream — return, O love … (Can one heap earth, in spring, upon a memory?) And what if, standing there, you sigh and voice your grief At having left me that October night When tang of fruit and frost was in the air, And your last footsteps turned from me in hollow flight? And what if pleading, gentle words fall from your lips, Like cool spring water dripping on a stone, Sweet words and tender, dripping, crystal-clear, Designed to stir the blood of one so long alone? And what if you, at last, not having heard from me A swift, forgiving word should, in despair Seek to enclose me in your hungry arms? And what if I should turn away and never care … And never care?
  65. 65. 44. Miser I saved my tears like golden coins And spent my laughter wantonly And flung away my bright-winged hours, My carefree love — the heart of me. Mad dreams I dreamed and let them go — Along lost highways of the sky They drift in huddled company — Gay songs I sang, and let them die. Now in my lonely room I keep This box of coins — a worthless thing. I count the teardrops over, one by one, And listen to their hollow cling.
  66. 66. 45. Hunger (a short story) You threw me little crumbs of hope On which my hungry heart I fed. You knew I starved, and yet you left — And took your loaf of bread.
  67. 67. 46. On things Oscar Wilde This is wisdom: To welcome life With trumpet blast And shriek of fife; To bid farewell And let death come With a last outcry On a battered drum; To make no promise And keep no trust; To let all mem’ry Sink to dust; To shun all truth And believe all lies And honor fools. (Fools are so wise!) To love with a love As light as snow, And when love’s done To laugh — and go.
  68. 68. 47. Passing stranger Speak, you the enchanted … In the shadowed, Sinuous contours of your face Lurks the moment memorable. Here there is time and space For puny platitudes And little irrelevancies. Moment immortal — deathless word — a dream — I would ask nothing more of you than these, And were your dream A changeling of the mind, A tattered square of memory From some chance mood (you would be kind), A drunken bagatelle; were you to laugh, And I to twist a thread of tune, What would you care, And what should I? Too soon We would fall silent, Hang our heads and pass As harlots pass, oblique and sly, And suddenly turn and look, And laugh, And cry.
  69. 69. 48. Mise en scene When we two die, there’ll be no wind or rain; Only the poignant peace that follows pain. Then we shall have forgotten bright desire, Hushed all the bitter laughter, quenched the fire, Slain all the smoldering moments of regret — We shall be old, we two who hunger yet. We shall forget. Scornfully, hand in hand, we’ll lie and wait; We’ll watch the stars climb up the pasture gate, And hear their startled cries, far, faint and shrill When slinking shadows follow up the hill … We two, and pallid moonlight flowing by … We shall be silent, knowing that we die, Nor wonder why. They’ll find us underneath a hawthorn tree (Searching the hills and meadows anxiously), Serenely pale, and speechless, and content. How they will cry their dull astonishment To find us lying drunk with silence there. Remembering our laughter, they will stare. We shall not care.
  70. 70. 49. The sophisticates Softly at first, The gentle patter Of your conversation Comes to my ears Like cool, winding rain. Then, As with rising wind, Howling raindrops Beat on my brow — Bitter as death, More ceaseless than pain.
  71. 71. 50. Thought at dusk Once when I crossed the fields at the day’s red end, Down where the brook runs cold and the willows bend, I stopped at a thought that is old as the world And as bright with fear: When I am gone, This small, six-pointed flower will still be here.
  72. 72. 51. Lines for winter Far in the west I heard the frightened cry Of lone lost birds, like arrows in the sky, And heard the ring of steel and whetted wood Deep in the somber darkness where I stood, Thin voices calling in the hemlock tree, Calling and calling — clear and cold — to me. But I went by dreaming of summer rain And apple blossoms bursting in bright pain, Dreaming of spring returning — and awoke To see the snow sweep down the field like smoke; And with its bitter breath upon my mouth, I listened to the north wind blowing south.
  73. 73. 52. Lines to Omar Khayyam Omar … I know not where you are; I know this only: death is far, And we hear not from those who went — But do they let you stitch a tent? And are there books of verses there? And, Omar, girls with perfumed hair? Do round, ripe grapes droop on the vine? And do they let you drink red wine?
  74. 74. 53. Negro dancer Wiggle your thighs, black girl. Strut your stuff to the rhythm of clapping hands and the pagan drums. Swing your hips and roll your eyes, black girl … Give it to ’em! Give it to ’em! Your face, a black flower in a stinking hot-house lined with glass. Your body, a reed bending in the slime of rotten waters … Give it to ’em! Give it to ’em! What are we, o long sob of strings, who sing our shattered songs in a temple of mad black gods? What are we, o wild beat of drums, who laugh our broken laughters in a riot of smoking suns? What are we?
  75. 75. 54. An open letter to Ogden Nash Dear Mr. Nash: I do not want to seem pugnacious, downright whimsical or irascible, But take this long-awaited opportunity to say I think your verse is only passable. In fact, I think I’ll go just three steps more and say your constant and annoying iteration Is nothing less than insult to the human race (so called) and I, for one, demand obliteration. The eternal pot, pother and dirty business of following through a sentence to its finis Has given men I know (honest and upright taxpayers — not Democrats) sinus. Another read your stuff and took to muttering and gibberish incoherence, And having, for the sake of self-respect and pride, read to the end with pious perseverance, Now lies in Woodlawn Cemetery, his beautiful and promising young life forever lost, and on the monu- Ment is this inscription: “Here lies one who followed through.” Shame on you! Now look here, Mr. Nash, if you were half a man as King Prajadhipok of Siam, You’d stick to sonnets (fourteen lines). If, as, and when you do, you’ll be a better man than I am.
  76. 76. 55. Epitaph (After Keats, who desired that on his tomb should be inscribed: “Here lieth one whose name was writ on water.”) Here lieth one whose name was writ on wind Inconstant as a dream — swift as the pain Of spring and young ripe blossoms on the vine. Here lieth one whose name was writ on rain Soft as the touch of wings against a star, Brief as the breath of may flies — silver swords That gently sting and leave no wound or scar. Here lieth one whose fate was writ on flame: The rain and wind have nibbled at her name.
  77. 77. 56. The song I sing This is the song I sing: Love and laughter and sorrow; Wanton and wine tonight, Tears on the bleak tomorrow. These are the words I say, Soft in the morning sun: Sorrow and laughter and love Till song and singing are done. This is the dream I dream: Glory and gladness and grief. This is the thread of the loom; This is the shape of the leaf. This is the dawn and the dusk Of man and his little hour: Moonlight and madness and mirth, Sunlight and firelight and flower. What though the singer must pass And sorrow must bind his breath? This is the song I sing … Laughter … and love … and death.
  78. 78. 57. Will of Lucy Ann Walker, 1853 I give to my daughter, Sarah M. Thew, My old home farm In Lot 52. (Honeysuckle, thorn rose And wild plum trees; Ripe corn and white grape And velvet bees.) All of that parcel In Lot 51 I hereby bequeath To Oliver, my son, Starting in the west By the John Brook Bridge. (Gold-brown beech leaves, Moonlight on the ridge.) Thence along the river As it winds and turns (Sweet wet thyme And green lace ferns) Thence to an apple tree, The Great Lot line (White wan willows, Blossoms red as wine) Thence to a cedar post Beside the pasture rail (Rich deep furrows And warm wind’s wail) Thence to a cedar stump Down by the mill (Sunlight on the water Shadows on the hill).
  79. 79. And unto my nephew, One Hezekiah Rand, I give all that parcel And lot of land That young Briand Hoffman Formerly leased. Will of Lucy Walker, Now deceased.
  80. 80. 58. Prayer for spring Spring is such a little time Before white frost: Teach me to care, and count No moment lost. Love is such a little while And life so long: Teach me to smile, and sing A wild sweet song. Life is such a fleeting dream Before we die: Teach me to laugh, and love, And say goodbye.
  81. 81. 59. Song of a sailor (written in collaboration with Marjorie) I met an old woman who never saw the sea; She was gaunt, and she was gnarled as a cypress tree — Old mother, old mother, never saw the sea, Never saw the brindled sky bend to kiss the brine, Never tasted the gold spume on her lips like wine, Never saw the dolphins leap … leap … leap … Never saw the tall ships plunging in the deep, Never heard the white gulls crying at her door, Old mother, old mother, 80 years and more. I took old woman away to the deep, Down, down, down, where the tired ships sleep — Old ships, tired ships, drifting on the deep. She wept when we wandered in the cold sea caves, She cursed at the champing of the wild white waves, She shivered and she shrieked at a brown sand dune Down where the fanged cliffs gnaw the mellow moon. She has gone to the forest; she has fled from the sea; She is old, she is sad, she is blind with memory — Old mother, old mother, never saw the sea.
  82. 82. 60. A jingle Cows in the yellow corn, Cows in the red clover, What will you do — will you do, Now that summer is over? Birds in the brindled sky, Birds in the burning sun, How can you sing — can you sing, Now that the summer is done? Heart in the listening breast, You who are old and wise, What can you say — can you say, Now that your lover dies?
  83. 83. 61. Desolation I shall go out in the sun and the wind and the dry Clean air, where the trees are naked and strange and the sky Is a burnished copper, beaten and bronzed and old; I shall walk in the white wind, under the blossoming gold. I shall not weep nor robe and garland my grief, Though the grass is matted and blown, though not one leaf Troubles the thick silence; gestured in sorrow, I shall stand like a slim tree, turned to tomorrow. I shall go out in the wind and the sun and the cool drawn air, And not weep, and not cry out, and not care.
  84. 84. 62. Voices … And then I heard them singing on the hillside. I listened, and I heard my lost loves say: Sorrow in a smile and sorrow in the spring, Long ago, long ago and far away. O their song was sad, and their song was sweet, And O, it was a song I would forget! But now they sing no more upon the hillside. Long ago … long ago! I hear them yet.
  85. 85. 63. Spring evening (Rachmaninoff’s Prelude, heard through an open window) Was it for this, O hungry heart, that you sealed your lips? Was it for this, O wanton mind, that you fled the ways Of the singing spring, the lane’s bright end, The frantic, feline nights, the daggered days? Was it for this moment, naked … sweet … Was it for this you wept, cried out in pain, Knowing that you would wander down this way, And hear such music as you shall not hear again?
  86. 86. 64. Ballad of a bird who flew free The parakeet’s flown from his painted cage, Wanton and wild he is winging; We’ve whistled and clacked, and frantically quacked … Keet, keet, keet he is singing! The parakeet’s perched in the crab-apple tree, Preening and purring and prowling; We climbed up a ladder, and now we are sadder … Keet, keet, keet he is howling! Parakeet, parakeet, fly back down, Feathers sea-green and eye beetle-brown; There’s rain on the roof and wind in the west, And a bowl full of parrot-seed deep in your nest. Your cage is so clean and your cage is so cool … You frantic, you antic, you old feathered fool! The parakeet’s down in the maple grove, And there he is fussing and fretting; There’s rain in the sky, and wind blowing by, And oh, but he’ll get a good wetting! Parakeet, parakeet, fly back down — The news of your flight has gone through the town; They’ve come with a brickbat, a butterfly net, And if they don’t catch you, you’ll surely get wet; You’ve crumbs in your cage, and lettuce and carrot … You impudent, imprudent, silly old parrot! The parakeet’s flown away to the trees, Wanton and wild he is flying; We’re all in a rage, we’ve shut up his cage … Keet, keet, keet, he is crying!
  87. 87. 65. Frogs sang in the morning The frogs sang in the morning, Stars scattered on the grass, The yellow fog slipped by me — I stopped to let her pass. And all the trees were islands, And all the dunes were sky, When frogs sang in the morning And yellow fog slipped by.
  88. 88. 66. To a certain young man who requested me to write a poem about him What can you take from me — my dreams? But I have seen the rain Run weeping down the mirrored streets, and often I have lain On high clear downs at dusk and watched the plovers wheeling by, And I have loved all quiet things, and sun, and wind, and sky; And I have seen the dark night fall along a golden stream, And I have sung a deathless song and dreamed a deathless dream. What can you take from me — my love? My love is for a day, And all your words and all your smiles are gone long years away When twilight folds her quiet hands and shuts her tired eyes, When dawn climbs up an April hill and stares in sweet surprise; And all your promises are pale and all your pleadings mute When spring rain pipes along the grass like laughter of a lute. What can you take from me — my peace? It lies beneath my lips And in the hollows of my heart and on my fingertips; And no words that you say to me and none of lover’s sighs Can scatter silence in the breast or gladness in the eyes, Can banish beauty from the brain and wisdom from the mind — For wisdom has a thousand eyes, and love, they say, is blind. I’ll wake to find you gone one day when gypsy fiddles start, Yet I should let your sad eyes in and feed your hungry heart; You’ll leave me when the young spring comes with flowers in her hair, Yet I shall share my dreams with you and harbor your despair. What can you take from me — my grief? My loneliness, my shame? What can you take from me — myself? My memories … my name?
  89. 89. 67. Warning Love the lost lane, A tale once told, High laughter in A room grown cold, Lilacs and youth And dying eyes, The silence of A heart grown wise. Love the cruel word In the last hour, Moonshadows on A closed flower, Young girls who weep On a green hill, Things desolate, Things strange and still. Love the dark surf On the wild shore, A grieving voice At a barred door, Slow music by A darkened stair, The secret smiles That old men wear. Love the lost lane And dying eyes, You who are lonely, Proud and wise. Love the sad song The lost bird sings; The lonely heart Needs lonely things.
  90. 90. 68. Delusion If you can be sure you love me, You can be sure that a song Is not sweet nor a singer glad, And life is not long. You can be sure you will not die, That there is never an end, No grief that a cool hand cannot heal Nor a kind word amend. If you can be sure you love me, You can be sure that spring Will not pass nor a bright leaf fade — Sure of anything. Sure that a year can bring no change, And old friends cannot part, Sure that a young lad will not weep When fiddles start. You can be sure that a gallant smile And a lost heart never meet, And old men cannot hear the tread Of swift enchanted feet. You can be sure a thought is dust And a young voice tired and slow … If you can be sure you love me … Why do you look at me so?
  91. 91. 69. Dream journey Oh, I shall go to Singapore, beyond the China Sea, And down the Rhine to Dusseldorf and up the dunes to Dee. I’ll sail a golden galleon along the Spanish Main (Oh, I shall sail to Singapore, to Dusseldorf, to Spain!) And I shall buy a temple bell and burnished bamboo reeds, And I shall buy three dusky pearls like pomegranate seeds, A saffron-colored citron and spice in Lantern Lane, A swinging lamp in Samarkand, a velvet coat in Spain. Oh, I shall go to Port-de-Paix along the Windward Way And down the coast to Rio and on to Nossi-Be. I’ll dream on starlit balconies and swim in turquoise seas; I’ll ride a snow-white elephant and climb palmetto trees; And I shall buy Satsuma ware and sandalwood and lace, A crimson gown in Martinique and claret wine in Thrace, A Persian rug in Baghdad and teakwood in Japan, A Burmese god, a coral ring, a jug, a lacquered fan. I’ll sail down to Christobal, I’ll journey to Cathay, To Mexico, to Barbados, and on to Mandalay. I’ll take a camel caravan beneath the desert skies To turbaned Turks with jeweled hands and coffee-colored eyes. I’ll buy a blood-red carbuncle, a silver samovar; I’ll buy a string of milky jade as white as moonstones are, And lavender in London, and black nuts in Brazil, An ermine fur, a Dresden doll, a purple peacock quill. Oh, I have dreamed for many days and many moonless nights Of fishing smacks at Cornwall and frost-blue northern lights, Of crooked streets of Babylon and sunset over Tyre, Of cherry bloom and arabesque and pearl and opal fire, So I shall sail the seven seas in flying clipper ships With jacinth on my fingers and laughter on my lips.
  92. 92. 70. Old man on a porch Because he was old, they thought he would remember Nothing, the years long gone or vanished faces, And so they carried him out to the porch at dusk Wrapped in a tattered shawl, and talked of places And names that his feeble mind would not confine: Wheat waist-high in the fields in the rich, fat years, Birds in the white alders down by the ruined mill — Things that could stop his lean, dry throat with tears. Because he was old, they thought he had forgotten The night she died, calling him over and over; Wagons churning the yellow dust when they took her away; Cowslips and ox-eyed daisies and clover Wild in the pasture; brown sap flowing and new-mown hay — All that he loved so well they thought he would not remember: Dry, sharp days in the spring, boyhood and youth, Crashing logs on the lone, bleak hills in November, Laughter of men at the table; cakes and cider; Ripe green corn that grew to a man’s shoulder; The fire that swept the high, brown slopes of the town; Strawberry time; the blackened shaft of the boulder He climbed as a boy; fish in the cold west brook; Apple harvest and acrid autumn smoke. They put him out on the porch to sleep while they talked, And carried him up to his cool, dark room when he woke. Because he was old, they thought he could not hear Their talk of the old livery; Mrs. Stokes; the ride To the valley forge when his son came home from Maine; How many months would pass before he died. They thought he was old or that he had forgotten Or could not hear the timeworn words they said. Wrapped in a tattered shawl, he closed his eyes And clasped his quiet hands and bowed his head.
  93. 93. 71. Farewell, and give applause Love is a dark room Beyond a bolted door: Farewell, and come no more. Clasp hands with the hour, Hunt out the swift year: Farewell, and shed no tear. Begin where the end came, Let there be no pause: Farewell, and give applause.
  94. 94. 72. Words for a song Over the hills and far away And years and years gone by, You were a piper’s whistling son And a wild goose girl was I. East of the sun, west of the stars, And where I cannot say, Life was an olden, golden song That sang the years away. One penny, two penny, three had I, A cloak and a witch’s spell, Apples of gold and a song you had, The moon and a wishing well, A white swan’s egg and a silver shoe, A crooked staff and a tune (Who would long for Aladdin’s lamp With a wishing well and the moon?). East of the sun, west of the stars, And where I cannot say, Over the hills, over the hills, Far and far away.
  95. 95. 73. Enchanted Where are you, son? It was his mother calling Over the pasture rim. He made no sound. He might have been dead — only the moon knew, Watching between two hills, yellow and round. Now it had come, what he had always known — It was the end; he would never go back; She might call and call, but he would be lost In a rain of stars, in a night hollow and black. Where are you, son? It was my voice calling Out of the past. Nothing was real but that He crouched there, secret and enchanted, His sharp nose burrowing the earth, his flat Child’s face wet with the mist and the loam. He might have been dead. The moon saw only A wide dark field and a small boy lying Close to the warm earth, moon-bewitched and lonely.
  96. 96. 74. Night waking Night and swift waking … Stupid, no one’s there! It is the wind that walks On the listening stair. Night and a soft calling … Close your eyes again! It is the wind that cries To the faithless rain.
  97. 97. 75. The lost lover Only one song I sing: Over and over The sorrowing words Of the lost lover. Will you not listen, Will you not wait, If I must sing all My love and hate? If I must sing all My joy and grief, Will you not listen? The song is brief! A smile and a tear, And then it is over, The one wild song Of the lost lover.
  98. 98. 76. Ten-Fork River (a river chantey) Ten-Fork River Runs through the town, Rusty, musty, Yellow and brown; Silt in the spring, Mire in the fall, Bitter as bilge And sour as gall. They found Sire Sharney Buried in a sack; (Ten-Fork River Never turned back). Swung John Jinks From a dead prune tree; (Ten-Fork River Drivelled to the sea). The old men die, The young men marry — Never see old Fork River tarry; Never see old Fork River stay For a tale or a tune Or Election Day. Bitter as bilge And sour as gall, Silt in the spring, Mire in the fall, Rusty, musty, Yellow and brown, Ten-Fork River Runs through the town.
  99. 99. 77. Rendezvous House on a dark mountain, Blue beech tree and gate — Here on a summer morning I’d lay me down and wait, Here on a summer evening When drowsy crickets hum, I’d light the tallow candles And wait for him to come, And I would lay the hearth fire With cedar bark and pine, And spread the snowy linen With honey-bread and wine. Now autumn hills are golden And wild the west winds blow; My love is long in coming And I must rise and go. House on a dark mountain, Blue beech tree and gate — I will arise and go now. Wait.
  100. 100. 78. Evening in April Patter of raindrops on the gabled roof, Click of the naked boughs, Sorrow of the spring: Heart, you must be a poor and patient thing To feed on these. What have they to give you, These irrelevancies? Tomorrow The swollen river will leap At the skeleton bridge; Wild ginger run over the rain-wet ridge; The root will be green in the dust. Yet they will never find you any courage To say what you must.
  101. 101. 79. Song of the vagabond I’ll take the high ways that hie to the blue hills And white hills, whiter than a wild goose feather; I’ll take the wild roads that wind through the woodlands, I’ll take the high ways in warm spring weather! Up hill and down dale, A song on my mouth, I’ll take the wild roads That wind to the south! I’ll take the low ways that run to the old towns, Little lanes and lost lanes when the north winds blow; I’ll take the low ways that lead to hedgerows When snow flies and it’s home a man must go. Up hill and down dale, The road I love best, The wild road, the white road That winds to the west!
  102. 102. 80. So still the silver maples are So still the silver maples are, And down the moon the hills lie far; A night to lightly run, and keep The foolish fancies locked in sleep. Now here across the moors I fly Till midnight sends me home to lie And whisper names of younger years When foolish fancies loosed my tears.
  103. 103. 81. Barbary Coast Barbary Coast! When I was young, The words were honey on my tongue, And sweet with solemn mysteries Of plundered ships and pillaged seas. Ah, these were the names I loved to hear: The silver sound of buccaneer, And pirate’s loot and louis d’or, Sand-hidden on a coral shore. And I remember, with a smile, The golden sound of Treasure Isle, The hollow funereal tones Of bloody boots and Billy Bones. Barbary Coast! But I am old, And hardened in a sterner mold. Oh, now I am no longer young, The words are honey on my tongue!
  104. 104. 82. Hill song Where is my lover gone? Where you will never go, Long on the sighing deep, Silver and slow. How shall I follow there? Hill feet can never fly West to Galapagos Eastward to Skye. When may he come again? Oh, will you never learn Lads who sail out to sea Never return?
  105. 105. 83. Vigilante If, one day, in those star-bright solitudes Beyond Aldebaran, on moon-white sea, I find you once again and touch your hand (If there be any immortality); Oh, if I love you less than I do now, And silence keep, and hold you lightly then: Think me not dead, but mindful of the pain I knew of love in this far world of men.
  106. 106. 84. Dark hills, northward Dark hills, northward, Since I must leave you for a little time, To jostle and be jostled in the land-locked city, To dine in pavilioned restaurants and braid my hair for the opera, To rustle at first nights, and think it such a pity That oak leaves in the park do not turn gold at all But just wrinkle and grow sad and sadly fall, Dark hills, northward, since I must go, Be constant, be brave, be slow To sorrow, loosed above your throat: Be dreaming, blue … remote As now you lie. (Lips, lips, why do you thus address Eternity?)
  107. 107. 85. Hegira If I should ever escape this vigilant shell And shed the prudent flesh and cloistered bone, Mute and indignant in its barren cell The monkhood mind would meditate alone — Enraged to find the restless spirit flown Eyeless and mindless, innocent and free, And footloose in a fool’s eternity.
  108. 108. 86. Since I must sing of sorrow … Since I must sing of solitude and sorrow, Be cautious, Be over-wary of my rhyme. There is something in me stony and harsh and bitter That would wear itself out for your pity, In time. “Beauty’s enough and life is over-long.” Have you not heard me say it? It is as old As the day long gone we stood in the stubbled pasture, With snow flying and brook crying over pebbles And night blowing cold. “I would I were desolate, shard on crystal lime.” That was the day the gackles southward flew, That was the hour and the time The catboat nudged the bleak and barren shore, And I did not want to go back to the town again, I did not want to return any more, any more. Itinerant rhyme, shuttle and weave of the loom; Over I spin it … I have marked no room For triumph, for love in harvest, I shall never saddle content. It is better and more beautiful to be Desolate, to wander solitary, To be Broken and spent. Since I must sing of the stripped bough, The leaf under snow, Pin your stubborn pride to your sleeve And go.
  109. 109. 87. Bugles We steered the sluice and tied the swaying boat To thin moon palings shaved from the moon’s pale throat. “Listen … ” he said, though to listen was to hear The fathomless silence hushing the fallow mere. Then it was that we heard the cry of the pack Nosing the frosty earth with legs arched back And tails cupped over the dark, Beautiful and belligerent, like someone dying, And “Hark,” he said … and “Hark … ” Farther and faster, fainter and faster, it ran Over the halted highlands, under the span Of maples etching the pawed and moon-ridged trail. (Where have I heard those bugles, the wail Of bugles … When shall I awake?) The night swooned down the lake. “Listen again,” he said, though to listen was to hear The fathomless silence hushing the fallow mere.
  110. 110. 88. When years have carven memory of this day When years have carven memory of this day Into imperishable stone, and chilled our grief As the slow heel print cast in immutable clay, As diamond penciled on glass, as frost etched on the leaf — What worn-out words shall you find strength to say That, suddenly stricken dumb, you never said On the high moors, the tumbled downs of Bree, Lest their harsh wisdom and their sorrow strike us dead?
  111. 111. 89. Masquerade Songs, be quick, hide! Here is one who knows … He will core your eyes out, Tramp on your toes. See his hot eye! Your slow feet fail you … With a flick of his whip He will flail you. With his sabre teeth He will make you mince; He will twist your thumbs round To watch you wince. Run, my songs, run, Innocent and free! When he comes looking, he’ll Find only me.
  112. 112. 90. Weatherwise I should find some meaning in this moment, According to the poet: Yet if a truth has earthed itself for me, I do not know it. What is your warning, bony leafless tree? Finger on mouth, I do not strain to hear; You are no symbol of the season, only A season yourself, a cycle of the year. And you, wild duck, propelling autumn skies, With wide-webbed feet — fold back the air And southward pass, and still, for I am weatherwise. Bird-like am I and know a somber meaning In bony tree on blackened moor upleaning, And I was taught to know that summer’s done When leaves drop down and bluer shadows run. Pity me, then, because I am a poet And if there be a dark omen, not know it.
  113. 113. 91. Letter to Korea Again it is autumn. The blue squills are faded. The Asters are burned out. The black beans of the red tiger lilies Are floating on the little pool in the garden. The beechnuts are choking the rainspout, The leaves are forever crying. Nothing has changed. At evening the purple grackles blow in the catalpas, I have gone down to the marsh to pick the cattails and the bittersweet For the Chinese bowl. Autumn is early this year, everything Is dying. Up and down, up and down, ceaselessly Up and down the patter of cinnamon-brown leaves, The rain of beechnuts on the yellow-brown pavement, The man comes crying, “Old rags and papers, old rags and papers Old rags … ” I seldom go to the city any more, I seldom hear The stammer of bells, the tolling of bells, The tremor of bells like a pulse beat at evening in the dark tower. Cross-legged by the fire at night, I turn the pages of your letters; They crackle like old parchment … Castrogiovanni, Ankara, Mandalay … Sometimes … The shutters need mending; There is a mouse in the wall.
  114. 114. 92. Opalescent Gorge Slowly, studiously, with hushed labor, he must have carved With chisel and hammer his name on the granite bolder; Swaying between the ledge and the swinging bridge, half-starved When dusk reeled down the gorge and nudged his shoulder. Slowly he must have groped and shambled and come Back to the thread of flume in the black ravine, Feinting at creviced gorse with nerveless, numb Fingers, and stumping his stiff legs on the swaying pine. Not for the bleached faggots would he have fumbled, Not for the pack cached in the rocking boat: But unbelieving and monstrous-eyed, he saw and mumbled It over and over, pride beating a pulse in his lean throat. Surely he must have waited the moon, wedged in the cleft, Tracing the legend scooped from the granite hill; Surely the humming darkness hedged him ’round: Bereft, Unnamed, unknown, how motionless, how still.
  115. 115. 93. I shall go back I shall go back one day to the curving shore And wonder why I cannot resent you any more; Why it is that I cannot restore The hate in my breast. Even my words are faded as an old tune, But whatever they were, they were best. There it was that you stood, bewildered. There stood I. There are the dunes, and the curving beach, And the chestnut-colored sky.
  116. 116. 94. Night running brook My father’s house was back in the bogland, Hard by a brook that sprang from a dune; All night long it chinked like a tymbal, Shivered like fiddle strings all out of tune. My father’s house was near to the woodland; I used to crawl there and gabble with the wind; Never heard any song half as sad as Sound of the beaver leaves, slivered and thinned. Folks used to say I was just as wild as Any young colt that bolts at the bars; I never asked for anything else but Moorland and bog and a spoonful of stars. Any man harks to the hum of a brown beck, Any man sleeps in a lonesome glen, Never shall he bed with a gammer’s daughter, Never shall he step with the sons of men.
  117. 117. 95. Desert flower Sorrow again: and who’s to care If I lie down or rise to bear? Singing again: and who’s to hear The words that tremble in my ear? I know many an artful trick To mend the lamp and trim the wick, But who’s to please and who’s to face When I wear living with a grace? The dingo crying in my throat, The small limbs aching in my coat, The drums that dwindle in my blood, The crawling tide, the rising flood, The armored fear, the clarion crow, The retching pride — and who’s to know? There are so many wily ways To dress my soul, so many days To plumb and prune and plan and plot. God knows for what. God knows for what.
  118. 118. 96. If to the last hill If to the last hill I must clamber eager, So I shall be willing at the end of my span. Life at the best is only less than meager, Stemmed breath and stalled blood and curried bone of man. I shall go eager though my back be broken; I shall be merry with words dried on my tongue. If to be old is to own a sorry token, ’Tis better, and no worse, than to worry and be young.
  119. 119. 97. Here lies Jennifer Downs Life was too hard with me: All that it gave me Was trouble to carry And sorrow to lave me, A wife with a lover, A daughter who tried me, A son who turned rover And lies not beside me. Trouble’s above me: Now under the sod The grave diggers shove me. I thank thee, God.
  120. 120. 98. Now farewell, Bree Now farewell, Bree, for I must rise And write my sorrow on the skies And quicken the reluctant pace My shoes mark on the earth’s pied face So men may call me wise. Now fare thee well, and I shall keep In townships wide and valleys deep The silence of your fallow hills Till time runs down the glass and wills To lay me fast asleep.
  121. 121. 99. Escape Where are you bound, young man, with the April morning? The town needs none of your kind and the world wants none of your ilk. Oh, you will be coming back, I fear, ere the clout needs mending, And you will be trudging home ere the baize is silk. You can travel from shore to shore and they’ll shape and mold you Like earth to an earthen crock when the clay marl dries. Oh, I fear you’ll be coming back in a space, young soldier, In a black frock coat, and pennies on your eyes.
  122. 122. 100. Wear you a crown to die for Wear you a crown to die for, man, then die. Death is the land to bear away the willow; Sorry are they who under summer lie, Sick to the bone for life — and sore the pillow. Shorn be the sheaf and silent be the reaper; Die by the hand that got you and be glad; Light is the sleep and troubled is the sleeper Earthed for the lusty life he never had. Lay for a dream and lay for all that’s hollow; Die for a pledge that’s sealed and you’ll die true; Deep and a soundless sleep will surely follow, And you’ll not wake the addled day to rue.
  123. 123. 101. Let these be Let these be as words on your mouth: Cries that lie in a curlew’s throat; Dark hills north and dark hills south; Ragged leaves in a rocking boat. Let these be as words unspoken: Failing bells of a far-off day; Warm lips numb, and a wise heart broken, Ever and ever and aye.
  124. 124. 102. Here lies a most beautiful lady Here lies a most beautiful lady of Leydon Square, But I am not heeding the way of her days and her name; ’Twas westering wind and barbs in the chinquapin oaks Whenever she came. Wherever she stepped it was glim and stain of the bay And grace like torque of the boughs in a wild-cherry copse, And day was as still when she went as still of the well When the May moon fulls and drops. Whenever she spoke, it ’minded the purr of the string And drip of the rain and wind bells in the south; In lace like feather froth on a moat she dreams, And an old grave ghost of a smile lies on her mouth.
  125. 125. 103. Mine was the voice I am the one who wooed you away from the falling waters; I bore you hence when fear combed the nettles to blind you. Ever you stumbled and groped, I sprang the trap before you; I have smuggled you safe through the land of the living, lest Death should find you. I am the flying leaf that warned you of winds hard-riding; Mine was the voice that cried out from the ticking oak. Call me by name, and the cliffs will sound you an answer; Touch me, and I will curl on your palms like smoke.
  126. 126. 104. When I lie down in Leydon Square When I lie down in Leydon Square The belfry bells do toll; From lane and brake, from sill and stair, They call the boys of Bree to prayer, But not to save my soul. When I wake up on Windham Bray The thin train whistles cry, And all the dawn and all the day The clamor wins the boys away, But never such as I. The muffled drums in slow retreat, They bid the boys to war, And winding horns on hill and street Lace up the lagging hunter’s feet And hurry by my door. ’Tis sweeter bells than stammer here Will curve the sorrel sky, ’Tis louder drums on wake and weir And frostier horns will halloo clear Before I give reply.
  127. 127. 105. Fraught with the mum of dreams Fraught with the mum of dreams All mortals musing walk, And life’s not what it seems: The seed’s within the stalk, The ash is in the apple, The kernel within the shell, And here’s a truth to grapple: We think not as we tell. Joy in salt of the tear, Lore in the lips that lie, A certain music where No music rims the sky. Aye, a man may die of it Be a scant word left unsaid; Aye, none but the living sit In the big lap of the dead.
  128. 128. 106. Treasure Toil-worn fingers, See what I have brought you! A coin no bigger Than an elkin’s thumb. Clink it in a goblet, Hide it in your purse, or Toss it in the air and Listen to it hum. Toil-worn fingers, See what I have found you! A pebble as shiny as A star-sown sky. Twirl it in a pan or Lay it on a shelf, or Toss it in the millbrook Bye and bye.
  129. 129. 107. Oh, man, if you behold her Oh, man, if you behold her As I beheld her once, Turn the head to shoulder, Blow the stick in the sconce. No mortal man down yonder But minds the man you be While he must pitch and flounder Who wooed Persephone.
  130. 130. 108. None that will find him here None that will find him here, Oh, none that will tarry Long from the church the day Seelan’s to marry. None but the plummet pass And the wing of a plover; Prone in the nimble will, Prone in the clover. None that will search him here, None but the plummet pass; Safe, in the brown spray Of the brown broom grass.
  131. 131. 109. Quarrel have I none Quarrel have I none to seek with any man; Let him stride about in the sun and speak as he choose; Mine is not the design to climb on his bent back And harry him with the why and whither and whose. Had I a quarrel to ply with any man, For my own bones the evil word I’d borrow, That I must be so sick in soul down all my days, So shy of the stripped glove, so dulled with sorrow.
  132. 132. 110. The shadow on the wall The child was suddenly hushed, and the weeper, For into the black-beamed house A footfall came and a silence deeper Than still of a gold-eyed mouse. The clock said 12, but the hands were stopped; ’Twas one to the dawn and four From the midnight hour the ring had dropped Down to the black-beamed floor. Nobody knew but the still child that The candles were ladies tall And the spitting fire a Maltese cat, And the shadow on the wall …
  133. 133. 111. Surf “What is the surf like?” he asked, And I had to tell … Like wrinkled oak leaves in a rainy chorus, Like the long, long tolling of a bronze bell; Like the clatter of wild hooves on cobblestone, Like the wide whisper wound in a crooked shell; Like all unhappy tunes without any words. He asked, and I had to tell.
  134. 134. 112. When from the wings of day When from the wings of day five feathers have drifted down, When the barred shadows sleep on the walls of the town, When in the three-spired sky the rind of the moon is hung, We shall go back to the place where the world was young. These are the singing trees. Here once from the shallows The boar swung down and moored to the leaning sallows; This is the churn and the dip of the millwheel slowly heaving, The place beyond all knowing and all of believing. Forever, forever, the bronze light spun in the spray Till the three-spired sky is dark in the darkening day, Till the last bronze feather is blown and the last dream done, But not one voice or a footstep sounding near: Not one.
  135. 135. 113. Letitia Appleby Weary at the last, I lay aside my burden And pray to God the lightning will strike it where it stands; Tired and sick am I of the black wings wheeling And the mum of the rain on the fallow lands. Weary of the boglands and weary of the thunder That mutters in the bracken on the hills of Bree. I have no winning charms to win back my lover; All I have to nourish is the faint heart of me. Let them clod the earth on me and thrum it in my eyes; Let the plum whiten, and the meadow clover; Sick for death am I, and so I was for loving: Hie me to a hummock and fling the earth over.
  136. 136. 114. From out the star-girt eventide From out the star-girt eventide Away to sea-girt lands, The night leans down me half-awake And curls around my hands. How now, my self, is this the day You cried for braver deed For man to do than steer the plow And sow the barley seed? Alike the sky, alike the hill That met me at the noon, And all that’s here that was not then Is one small sickle moon; And I may rest who lent my hands To beam and plow and wheel, And I may throw my brogans down And taste the bannock meal. But look, the stars are thick as gorse That runs the rolling bray, And I’ll not burn my candle down. Now come, another day.
  137. 137. 115. Look away from these hills Happy indeed you are, boy, were you born away from the sound Of a sad river running forever underground; Happy, lad, happy indeed, had you never the look and the lore Of the bee-tree linden and apple acres and lonely tor. Glad was I once of the humpbacked bridge on the stony river; Happy I was with the coral cave of sun in the mere; Now with the sky stitching of wings and the girl sleeping, I would be up with my pack and going fast from here. Boy, were you born in the shadow of spires in some far city, Look away from these hills and this town; ’tis no great pity To walk to the wall of your days without any hunger and grief For plum going gray and the bells dumb and the worried leaf.
  138. 138. 116. Thus to remain Griselda and her long black hair And the strong mountain air Brought me to sleep at last … O, never to wake again! Beyond the din of the past, The slow heartbeat of pain, With memory hard and fast. Thus to remain.
  139. 139. 117. These Old dark hills for an old farmer In a rough pine chair, Frost come soon whenever he grows Too old to care. Mare’s tail running the round moon, Plum haze on a hill For all young boys who’ve never learned How to be still. For all the broken-hearted girls, Rain a drum at dark, And a row of shiny grackles in The red shag bark.
  140. 140. 118. The travelers Why do you lie all day in the shade of the yew tree, Man, since the way is long and the shadows bend? “For that the road is steep, and I descend.” Why must you dream all day in the shade of the haw tree, Boy, when the journey’s long and swift as time? “For that the road is steep, and I must climb.”
  141. 141. 119. I will bring you brown rain I will bring you brown rain from out of a brown sky; I will net you sunbeams from the bee tree bye and bye; I will pluck from the wooly dusk a skein of silver yarn, And ten little happy tinkling tunes from under the black tarn. I will make a song from out of the quinceberry bush. Deep in the eyes of a gold-brown mouse I will find a hush; And I’ll ladle out of a barrel of old, old rain Something you thought you’d never find again.
  142. 142. 120. From Ram to Hammersea The woods were with me when I went From Ram to Hammersea, And when I turned my brogans home The woods walked back with me. Though all the trees were wont to hum Was foolish, fiddled sound, Oh, stop I would and hark I did And walk four ways around; And I would listen, I would wait Full many and many a year, So if the trees had talk for me I’d not be wanting there. Now come to woods of Hammersea And run three miles from Ram, And I will tell you who I was And who the girl I am.
  143. 143. 121. October planting I called her in the garden; I could not find her there. The Chinese elms knew where, But yet so silent hung, So still of tongue. Then by the latticed arbor I said the wonted name, But none to answer came Save grackles in the beech, So full of speech. High in the raftered hall-room Where lately she had stood Was scarlet kirtle hood; But all the strings lay still To wait her will. Now back I go to planting My coralberry shrubs In twenty coral tubs; And I will plant them all And never call.
  144. 144. 122. Out of the waves of death Out of the waves of death I darted for a space, All wondering of face And short of breath. O life indeed you are Most strange and beautiful, Most lovely as the cool Deep-plunging star … All shuddering of breath And cowardly I am For suddenly I swam Back to my death.
  145. 145. 123. Lacking all mortal courage Lacking all mortal courage, still I stand Unfaltering of eye, steadfast of hand, And wait the end to overtake and whet The knife. Oh, is it that I yet Have mortal courage? Is it brave to keep Unknown from all I love, this weariness for sleep?
  146. 146. 124. How far are the hills “How far are the hills from where we stand?” Seelan, but I’d not know; Far as the fens from Hammersea, Far as we’ll ever go. “Oh, I would shake my sandals loose And run, and I’d never tire ’Til I couldn’t see a bridge or a barn Or of Bree a single spire.” Flat are the fens outside of Bree. “Yes, and it’s flats I fain, And a city skirt and a city hat And a man with a gold-topped cane. “Back of the hills a boy will wait.” Now close your eyes and see, For I’ll be telling the ones who watch For girls like you and me: Death and his tall gray buglers, blowing A tune beyond our ken; And you and I not caring a whit What ’tis, then.
  147. 147. 125. Portrait Most beautiful, but gravely beautiful and wise As preludes played on Sunday afternoons behind A paneled door; among the crusts and the candles and the dark Cascade of laughter; motionless, withdrawn The lady sat, delicately sad and pensive and resigned. Lost as delight, but nonetheless restored Upon this canvas, how the firelight struck A wind of fans, a jewel, a tranquil brow Cast in despair; was scattered and was blown To fragments on a glass. Five generations now Sits quietly the girl, most beautiful and grave As music once and not again intoned. Ages outnumbered, centuries hence, mayhap: Eyes beryline, lips sculptured in repose, Pale fingers delicately twined upon her lap.
  148. 148. 126. Now I lay me Now I lay me. Where I go, I know not: Where all children go, to the bright woods of May; Where web-footed snow steps soft on the charred evening, And a long narrow sky is drained of the old day. Where do I go? Where the downy thistle goes With the wet-eyed wind; where seldom fall In a cave of trees the blue notes of throstles; where Yearly the ragged oak leaves bury a brown wall; Where the clock tower draws in the moon at midnight, And sleighbell sound of the toads shrills out of the burn. Now I lay me. Where I go, I know not; Wherever I dwelt once, there I will return.
  149. 149. 127. Once having loved you Once having loved you, is it then so strange I love you still, Out of a lonely heart, from habit, or with only Half a will? Touch me again, and I will surely tremble Under your touch. Promise me little, I will blindly follow, Promise me much. Sorrow, so gravely wise, has taught me nothing All these years: Little of how to love you less, Too much of tears.
  150. 150. 128. It is nothing to cry alone It is nothing to cry alone, out of loneliness and despair, For a love lived out in tyranny and hate; There is a tragedy both beautiful and brave In sorrow that is forever desolate. It is nothing to cry with many others In a dim cathedral or over an open grave With the tall broom grass flowing over the hillside, wave after wave; Grief like this, among many, is intelligible and warm, Like the clashing of many leaves together in a storm. But there is something terrible about Two people, breast against breast, crying together In a fire-laden room while rain without Shrieks noisily against the panes about the weather. I have come a long way to understand this and remember, Whatever else about it may be written or sung or said: One of them should always be silent and stonyhearted, And the other comforted.
  151. 151. 129. Light of my life Light of my life, light of my life, Burn out. White nuns with midnight faces, come and flout The candles, snuff the curving flame. Trace in the dark your sign and, slipping out, Leave me at last unknown, without a name. Light of my life, burn out. O darkness, Come With folded hands, insensible and numb. Suffer no light to break the shuttered glass; Forewarn the children: Say that here is one Living, but dead; nor how it came to pass.
  152. 152. 130. Winter, that lay on my heart Winter, that lay on my heart like heavy stone, was lifted. I did not question again, I had no mind to betray The land-skimming snow, the shred of dark cloud following The innocent blind day. This is what my eyes were reluctant to envision, And what my heart was slow and stupid to learn: There is a land I go where summer is eternal; Winter will not overtake me again, Winter will not return.
  153. 153. 131. Cold, pale, enchanted voices Cold, pale, enchanted voices, Butter-thin voices over vast stretches of water in the early twilight, grieving, When did you cease your faint unnatural singing, your dry scuffling and shuttling, your humming and your weaving? Suddenly tuned to reality I am, and suddenly dumb With listening for the brittle pattering and twig-breaking as you used to come Out of the hollow of night, out of the sorrow and futile dreaming and pain. In what instant without armor did you leave me enchanted, trooping gaily away and intending Never to sing to me again?
  154. 154. 132. Monk’s Wood Once out of Monk’s Wood, the voice came clear As the cygnet’s cry on the rusty mere; And, oh, it was far, but very, very near, The voice that nobody else could hear. “You will never sorrow, never grow old, Long though you lie with the root and the mold. You will have seven sons, all in a row, On the stony hill where the woodbines blow; And all your seven sons,” so the clear voice told, “They will never sorrow, never grow old.”
  155. 155. 133. The thorn is in my side The thorn is in my side. I do not pluck it out, And if I should or not I am in doubt. If joy were deep as pain I should not hesitate, Nor would I doubt if love Were deep as hate.
  156. 156. 134. The little island Tanick Whenever I feel sad and useless and outworn, I like to think again of Tanick in July, Big as a big room, with a dock and an iron ring And a pine scratched blue on a gray-slate sky. Life deep within me, life wide outside me And kinder there, I guess, than will ever be again; So I’ll think if I may of the little island Tanick And all the dark islands in the highland rain.
  157. 157. 135. The peddler Gypsy wares from a saddle pack was all he had to sell, And I bought a pair of buckled shoes and a dress of seaman’s blue, But I hadn’t the frame to fit the dress, Nor the foot to fit the shoe. Now running along a clay road, red as berry juice, I think hard and fast of the one who bade me buy With a wave of the hand, a click of the heels And a wink in the wicked eye.
  158. 158. 136. Death song of Mahmud Khan in a Persian garden Deep in the throat of night Wild peacocks cry Under the slow moon, under The lip of the sky. Pale as the lotus-bud, Your well-remembered lips. Still as this wide white Pool, your fingertips. Hafiz once wandered here And sang of his delight; What is a thousand years, Hafiz, a dream’s flight? What is a thousand years, Hafiz — a swift, hurt cry Under the slow moon, under The lip of the sky?
  159. 159. 137. Life, inarticulate Life, inarticulate and meaningless, absurd As feathers plumed in silly hats, As one fleet, feathery word Let try its wings above the teacups and the tall, red glasses On a low tea table. Unsteady as a toy boat in a swell, unstable Life: Careless and comfortless, unkind. Now I shall try to understand, explain Your deeds away, Forgive your trespasses, as anybody would Excuse a child, careless and gay and mischievous, yet good.

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