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Modern Love: I

By this he knew she wept with waking eyes:

That, at his hand's light quiver by her head,

The strange low sobs that shook their common bed

Were called into her with a sharp surprise,

And strangled mute, like little gaping snakes,

Dreadfully venomous to him. She lay

Stone-still, and the long darkness flowed away

With muffled pulses. Then, as midnight makes

Her giant heart of Memory and Tears

Drink the pale drug of silence, and so beat

Sleep's heavy measure, they from head to feet

Were moveless, looking through their dead black years,

By vain regret scrawled over the blank wall.

Like sculptured effigies they might be seen

Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between;

Each wishing for the sword that severs all.

Dirge in Woods

And blow

Not a breath of wild air;

Still as the mosses that glow

One the flooring and over the lines

of the roots here and there.

The pine-tree drops its dead;

They are quiet, as under the sea.

Overhead, overhead

Rushes life in a race,

As the clouds the clouds chase;

And we go,

And we drop like the fruits of the tree,

Even we,

Even so.

They have no song, the sedges dry,

They have no song, the sedges dry,
    And still they sing.
It is within my breast they sing,
    As I pass by.
Within my breast they touch a string,
    They wake a sigh.
There is but sound of sedges dry;
    In me they sing.

The Woods of Westermain

Enter these enchanted woods,

You who dare.

Nothing harms beneath the leaves

More than waves a swimmer cleaves.

Toss your heart up with the lark,

Foot at peace with mouse and worm,

Fair you fare.

Only at a dread of dark

Quaver, and they quit their form:

Thousand eyeballs under hoods

Have you by the hair.

Enter these enchanted woods,

You who dare.


Here the snake across your path

Stretches in his golden bath:

Mossy-footed squirrels leap

Soft as winnowing plumes of Sleep:

Yaffles on a chuckle skim

Low to laugh from branches dim:

Up the pine, where sits the star,

Rattles deep the moth-winged jar.

Each has business of his own;

But should you distrust a tone,

Then beware.

Shudder all the haunted roods,

All the eyeballs under hoods

Shroud you in their glare.

Enter these enchanted woods,

You who dare.


The Lark Ascending

HE rises and begins to round,

He drops the silver chain of sound

Of many links without a break,

In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake,

All intervolv’d and spreading wide,

Like water-dimples down a tide

Where ripple ripple overcurls

And eddy into eddy whirls;

A press of hurried notes that run

So fleet they scarce are more than one,

Yet changingly the trills repeat

And linger ringing while they fleet,

Sweet to the quick o’ the ear, and dear

To her beyond the handmaid ear,

Who sits beside our inner springs,

Too often dry for this he brings,

Which seems the very jet of earth

At sight of sun, her musci’s mirth,

As up he wings the spiral stair,

A song of light, and pierces air

With fountain ardor, fountain play,

To reach the shining tops of day,

And drink in everything discern’d

An ecstasy to music turn’d,

Impell’d by what his happy bill

Disperses; drinking, showering still,

Unthinking save that he may give

His voice the outlet, there to live

Renew’d in endless notes of glee,

So thirsty of his voice is he,

For all to hear and all to know

That he is joy, awake, aglow,

The tumult of the heart to hear

Through pureness filter’d crystal-clear,

And know the pleasure sprinkled bright

By simple singing of delight,

Shrill, irreflective, unrestrain’d,

Rapt, ringing, on the jet sustain’d

Without a break, without a fall,

Sweet-silvery, sheer lyrical,

Perennial, quavering up the chord

Like myriad dews of sunny sward

That trembling into fulness shine,

And sparkle dropping argentine;

Such wooing as the ear receives

From zephyr caught in choric leaves

Of aspens when their chattering net

Is flush’d to white with shivers wet;

And such the water-spirit’s chime

On mountain heights in morning’s prime,

Too freshly sweet to seem excess,

Too animate to need a stress;

But wider over many heads

The starry voice ascending spreads,

Awakening, as it waxes thin,

The best in us to him akin;

And every face to watch him rais’d,

Puts on the light of children prais’d,

So rich our human pleasure ripes

When sweetness on sincereness pipes,

Though nought be promis’d from the seas,

But only a soft-ruffling breeze

Sweep glittering on a still content,

Serenity in ravishment.

For singing till his heaven fills,

’T is love of earth that he instils,

And ever winging up and up,

Our valley is his golden cup,

And he the wine which overflows

To lift us with him as he goes:

The woods and brooks, the sheep and kine

He is, the hills, the human line,

The meadows green, the fallows brown,

The dreams of labor in the town;

He sings the sap, the quicken’d veins;

The wedding song of sun and rains

He is, the dance of children, thanks

Of sowers, shout of primrose-banks,

And eye of violets while they breathe;

All these the circling song will wreathe,

And you shall hear the herb and tree,

The better heart of men shall see,

Shall feel celestially, as long

As you crave nothing save the song.

Was never voice of ours could say

Our inmost in the sweetest way,

Like yonder voice aloft, and link

All hearers in the song they drink:

Our wisdom speaks from failing blood,

Our passion is too full in flood,

We want the key of his wild note

Of truthful in a tuneful throat,

The song seraphically free

Of taint of personality,

So pure that it salutes the suns

The voice of one for millions,

In whom the millions rejoice

For giving their one spirit voice.

Yet men have we, whom we revere,

Now names, and men still housing here,

Whose lives, by many a battle-dint

Defaced, and grinding wheels on flint,

Yield substance, though they sing not, sweet

For song our highest heaven to greet:

Whom heavenly singing gives us new,

Enspheres them brilliant in our blue,

From firmest base to farthest leap,

Because their love of Earth is deep,

And they are warriors in accord

With life to serve and pass reward,

So touching purest and so heard

In the brain’s reflex of yon bird;

Wherefore their soul in me, or mine,

Through self-forgetfulness divine,

In them, that song aloft maintains,

To fill the sky and thrill the plains

With showerings drawn from human stores,

As he to silence nearer soars,

Extends the world at wings and dome,

More spacious making more our home,

Till lost on his aërial rings

In light, and then the fancy sings.