James Fenimore Cooper.

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At the quiet close of day
Gently yet the willows sway;
When the sunset light is low.
Lingers still the afterglow;

Beauty tarries loth to die y
Every lightest fantasy
Lovelier grows in memory ,
Where the truer beauties lie








Copyright, 1918, by
Yale University Press


AMONG the young graduates of Yale who have
given their lives for their country during the pres
ent war, none was of finer spirit and fairer
promise, than Captain James Fenimore Cooper
of the 308 th Field Artillery, who died of pneu
monia at Camp Dix, Wrightstown, N. J., on
February 17, 1918.

A great-grandson of the novelist, and a son of
James and Susan Linn (Sage) Fenimore Cooper,
of Albany and Cooperstown, Captain Cooper
was born at Albany on March 10, 1892. He was
prepared for college at the Albany Academy and
the Taft School, Watertown, Conn., and was
graduated from Yale with the class of 1913. As
an undergraduate, he won high social and aca
demic distinction: was a member of Alpha Delta
Phi, Phi Beta Kappa, Chi Delta Theta, the Elihu
Club, the Class Day Committee, and secretary
of the Elizabethan Club a list of honors which
will serve as testimony to the range of his liter
ary and scholarly activities, for all who are famil
iar with Yale life. At the time of his death he
held the position of class secretary. He was the
first member of his class to die in the service.
After graduation Cooper spent a year or more

A i \

* **" , : ,ih Europe and the West, and somewhat over
two years at the Harvard Law School. He was a
diligent and successful student of the law, but
the profession did not appeal to him as a career.
His health had never been robust, and after a
nervous breakdown, he left Cambridge; and,
late in 1916, went to Mesa, Arizona, where he
occupied himself for a time in teaching at the
Evans School. His plans were somewhat unset
tled, but his real interests and ambitions were
those of a man of letters; and at the time when
his country entered the war, he was looking for
ward to the life of a farmer, with leisure for writ
ing and study; and expecting to live at Coopers-
town, a locality singularly beautiful in itself, for
which he had the deep affection of a lover of
nature, and which was dear to him on account
of generations of family association.

The war, which brought him death, brought
him also opportunity opportunity for unques
tioning and decisive action. He entered the first
officers training camp at Madison Barracks, and
graduated in August as a First Lieutenant of
Field Artillery. Early in the winter of 1918 he
was promoted to a captaincy. He showed great
aptitude for military work, and became so much
interested in the artillery service, that he had
made up his mind, if he survived the war, to re
main in the army until he had thoroughly mas
tered that branch. His strong desire was to get
to France and into active service at the front,
where, at this writing, his battery (Battery B.)


is under the command of his younger brother.
But it was not to be. The exposure of artillery
drill and camp life brought on an attack of pneu
monia, which proved fatal in less than two weeks.
The uncomplaining fortitude with which he bore
the sufferings of his last days made a deep im
pression upon his doctors and nurses; and hun
dreds of letters, written to his parents by his
school and college mates and instructors and by
a wide circle of family friends, all expressing a
sense of personal loss, bear witness to a singular
sweetness and generosity, frankness and cour
tesy which endeared him to all. In them is shown
unusual recognition of a character which never
departed from the determination to do what was
right and to be kind and just to all.

A few of the poems here collected were con
tributed to the Yale Literary Magazine and other
college and school periodicals; but for the most
part, they are now printed for the first time.
This is of the nature of a memorial volume,
whose contents derive a pathos from its author s
early and heroic death. But no indulgence is
asked on that account. Without wishing to com
pare these verses with the work of such inheri
tors of unfulfilled renown" as Rupert Brooke
and Alan Seeger, one finds in them a refinement
of feeling, a sense of rhythm and poetic form,
which give promise of future achievement. They
are mainly subjective and introspective, the ex
pression of moods: moods of high though vague
aspiration, of self-searchings and unsettled aims.

But attention should be drawn to the spirited
Ballad of the Lost Dutchman, one of the last
poems written, as showing a decided advance in
objectivity, concreteness and maturity of style.
This was found in Captain Cooper s portfolio
after his death; as was also the short essay en
titled Religion, printed at the end of the volume.
This was written over a year ago, and very prob
ably did not express his final views; but is ap
pended to the poems on the supposition that it
will be interesting to his friends as a point in his
development, and as evidence that his mind was
grappling sincerely and courageously with the
deepest questions of life.





"At the Quiet Close of Day" Facing page 4

Singers 1916 . . . . . 15

A Breeze . . . . . . 16

The Surf . . . .*-.:.- 17

Omar Khayyam . . . 18

Sir Galahad . . . . * 19

The Seer . . : . . . 21

Alone in the Minster ... 22

Failure ..... 23

The Shadow ..... 24

Valkyrie Song . . . . . 25

Experience . . . . . 26

Spirit Song . . . . . 27

The Last Triumph . . . . 28

Possession . . . . 31

Song . . . . . . 32

The Moon View . . . . 33

Ballad 35

Night 36

Fate 37

Ambition . . . . . . 38

The Great Quest . . . . 39

A Memory ..... 40

To a Friend ..... 41


The Old and the New . . . 43

Complaint . . . . . 44

Winter . . . . . . 45

The Boston Symphony Orchestra . 48

A Meeting 49

To a Stone Nymph .... 50

A Returning . . . . . 51

Rebellion . . . . . 52

Death 53

Realization ..... 54

To S. M. S 55

Wayfarer s Song . . . . 57

Creation ...... 58

To Betty 59

A Heretic to His Mistress . . 60

Isolation ...... 64

Affirmation . . . . . 65

The False Hope .... 67

Ethel Leginska .... 69

Friendship ..... 70

Ave 71

The Sonnet ..... 72

Presence and Absence 73

Poetry 75

Paganism ...... 76

An Answer ..... 79

The Tryst 80

The Ballad of the Lost Dutchman . 8 1

War 87

A Wish for My Book ... 89

"When Pleasure Dies" . . . 91

Religion ...... 93




SINGERS 1 9 i 6


ARE ye forgot, ye voices of the past

Keats, Milton, Wordsworth, Chaucer, and ye


Of others who excelled in lofty song?

Is your unbroken line to end at last?

Where is that seer who scorns the common


Of praise or blame who stands aloof and


And utters fiery words, words that belong

With theirs, through all the ages to stand fast?

Think not to wear their vestments, O ye vain
Ye weak and tinsel singers of a day;
Only high service wins the poet s name.

Turn ere too late fan ye the dying flame

Of patriotism in the land, and say

That death is naught if honor yet remain.


O, EVER, ever do I wend

My listless way, and ever dream

Of meads where scented poppies bend

O er Lethe s stream.

I search through many a hidden glen,
Stirring the wild flowers as I go;
And sadly do the lilies then
Sway to and fro.

Or often in some silent grove,
When autumn s tints are chilled to brown,
Amongst the withered leaves I move
And waft them down.

The pine trees ever sigh to me
And at my passing rest again;
But I must wander endlessly,
Searching in vain.

O, ever, ever must I wend

My listless way, and still I dream

Of shadowy meads where poppies bend

O er Lethe s stream.




TO-NIGHT the murmur of the sea
Comes sadly, as the chill winds blow.
A mist hangs o er the rocks below,
Where breakers follow ceaselessly.
Thus, ages back, on some dim strand
Its fingers stretched beneath the shade
Of mighty, listless fronds, and played
That same low note upon the sand:
Now keener drives the wild night air,
Hark! For the voice of Time is there.



I LISTENED to the Sage of Naishapur,
And, as each lovely image drifted by,
I thought I caught amongst the words a sigh
Of vague regret, which no denial would cure.

Yet all was languorous and crystal-pure;
As drowsy eastern gardens heaped up high
With heavy-scented roses, oft deny
Haphazard beauty, and by art allure.

Dreamer of Persia! Would I were content
To cast aside all thinking, and with thee
To linger ever, careless of the rest !
They say thou art deceived, and thine at best
Is hollow comfort; yet how magically
Thy silvery voice steals from the Orient!




How cheerlessly the grasses bend.
Before the evening breeze, and gleam
In shadowed traceries, and blend
In ever-restless curves ! I seem
E en so to wander, aimlessly,
As in a dream.

Mist-like, he came when first the heat
Drew silently a charmed haze
Above the hills; the drowsy beat
Of noon came faintly through the ways
And devious windings, where the road
Lay all ablaze.

A moment, flashing white, he stood
Beside a mighty, milk-white steed;
White was his shield amid the wood,
Like the cold moon, when first the seed
Is stirring, and the naked limbs
Wave o er the mead.

He spoke; I scarce know what he said
Or what I answered: mystically
His deep eyes shone, as far ahead
Half-seeing, what no man might see,
Half-seeking some strange vision known
To such as he.


E en as a mist he passed away:
Which drifts amongst the dreary rows
Of reeds, when first the coming day
Lights in the east, and palely glows
O er swamp and hill. I wonder yet
Whither he goes.

And now he seems to gaze at me
With deep, unquailing eyes, and now
His voice is in the winds which flee
Through yonder pines: "It is my vow
Maiden, I follow on my quest,
Nor know I how."




STILL do the people clamor? I am old
And know that all is vain. Am I a seer?
And must I still be taunted and reproached
With that strange striving for an unknown

Which once I thought was life ? Come, tell them,

That I have found the peace that is beyond;
And ever does the vision haunt me now.
There is a mighty river darkly flowing
Down through the fertile valleys it has carved
Along the dreary swamp-lands it has formed
Toiling mysteriously, time without end;
Now silent feeding many a glimmering land
Now moaning slumberously through all the

Swollen with many floods. And now behold
City on city springing to the light,
And gleaming opalescent on the bays,
Drawing their life from off the brimming stream;
And lo! innumerable fleets that ply
From side to side upon the water s face.
I hear the strife of many by the shores,
Some crying that the stream is guided down
From some still valley in the shadowy hills,
And others, that it poureth of itself:
And now the cities crumble and are gone,
But still the river toileth ceaselessly.



THE slender waxen candles gleam
In upward straining points of light;
The grey walls glimmer in their beam,
To rise in shadow out of sight.
Ah! lightly press the ancient keys!
Quickly the first chord, wild and low,
Starts from the sombre pipes, and flees,
An ever-growing, quavering flow
Far upward, to the empty roof,
Amid the soaring Gothic maze;
An echo, distant and aloof;
A presence, mid the ghostly blaze
Of haloed lights; now swelling deep
With added voices, growing still
In curious sadness, full of sleep
Slow changing turns of chords, that fill
The soul with awe. For even death
Has not effaced the master mind
Of one at least, whose very breath
Breathes in half-magic tones enshrined.
Hark! For the music of a soul
Is present, filling once again,
The dim cathedral halls, where stole
Innumerable souls of men.




COLD is life, as a vast grey sea,
Creeping beneath a shrouded sky;
And still I drift, and would be free,
Following shapes that ever fly;
Grasping at fleeting phantom things
That beckon, and soon go by.

Now they pass me on every side,
Steering ahead with eyes aglow;
They skim adown the seething tide
Following signs I may not know;
Slowly the mists creep in again,
The glimmerings come and go.

O to sail as the Norse of old,

Off from the sandy beach and away

To face the wind- worn realms of cold,

Beating to southward, day by day,

Over the weary seas; ahead

The gleam of the silent bay.



MEN struggle onward with a halting stride,
Perhaps spurred on by some vague hope ahead-
Or, oftener held back and falsely led
By those too weak to hazard the untried.

As ever when the way lies clear and wide,

And some, inspired, cry Forward ! comes


A feeble clinging to a hope long dead;

An empty terror, whispering, * Abide. "

As when an evening traveller winds his way
Through dreary fastnesses, yet presses down
And views the valley yellow with the sun;

He treads the shadow of the peaks long won,
And turns, confused, to face again the frown
Of rocks, which still cut off the light of day.



DOWN through the mountain ways

Of the dim north.

Keenly our helmets blaze

As we burst forth

On toward the battle s clash

Fiercely our storm-steeds we lash.

Clear comes the rhythm of blows

The cold sword s ring,

Forward the victor goes,

The lean ranks swing!

Swift fall the trampled dead;

Swift flows the heart-blood s deep red !

Choose we the heroes slain,
Up, with them, up
For they shall drink again
Of the rich cup,
Wildly we ll feast them all
In great Valhalla s blest hall.



I LOVED them never, these sombre tales-
Dost thou still speak more ?
Is it of how the strong soul fails,
Dying, where life was free before ?
Say what my care avails ?

It was not so in the bright years past,

Then thou mad st no moan;
The greatest truth need not come last
Or must I harden my heart to stone

That reason may yet stand fast?

No! But thou shalt not pass me by!

I will drink thee deep;
Even if pleasure s lure must fly,
Better it were than bestial sleep.

Shines not the same blue sky?




WRAPT in solitude am I
Through the golden summer day,
Come, ye dreamers, draw ye nigh,
Where the woodlands wild have sway.

Come where foam-flecked rivers pour
By the swiftly moving trees,
Murmurous against the shore
With a song of distant seas.

Come where charmed waters lie
Circled by the dun morass,
And the silent herons fly
Startled o er the sweeping grass.

Come and tarry when the moon
Penetrates the silvered trees,
And the swaying needles croon
Sweetly to the passing breeze.

Seek but there and ye shall find,
Where I cast my secret spell,
Subtle runes that strangely wind
Ye alone may know them well.




WHEN shall it be said,
He is dead
Will they crowd me near
Aping reverent fear,
By the pallid head
Once so dear?

It shall not be so,

That I know:

Better far to die

As the mists which fly

Where the meadows glow

To the sky.

Ne er a pious crowd
Weeping loud:
They ll not pen me in
Where God s air is thin,
Scented of the shroud,
Free I ve been.

O for some wild vale
Deep and pale,
Where the aspen trees
Chatter in the breeze
In their branches frail
Silvery seas.

Death might blanch my face,

In that place,

Nay but I would smile

Cunningly the while

As the form I d trace

Of my wile.

How I ll curse them then,
Tiny men !

How they cheat and fight,
Prating of the right:
But to cheat again
Their delight.

Great my joy will grow

As their woe,

Long they ve wished me wrong,

I ve held silent long,

Ne er from me they ll know

Life s sweet song.

Deep they d envy me,
Could they see,
How the precious thing
From the world I ll fling
Vain would be their plea,
Keen their sting!


But it will be late
Then, to hate:
Knowing that in vain
They must strive and strain,

I ll but leave their fate
And the pain.

Soft! The fleet day flies
From the skies;
Soon my soul will sweep
From its semi-sleep.
Where great nature s eyes
Vigil keep.



"THE world is mine," the poet said,
"And everywhere I go
Its beauties linger in my head
And form my treasures so.

"I ofttimes chance upon a stream
On some bright summer s day,
And lo ! I catch the very gleam
And carry it away.

"I pass the landlord s frowning gate
And stay a little there,
I steal his garden s hoarded state
As others would not dare.

"And oft upon an upland road

I pause awhile to see,

And miles and miles of fields new mowed

I take away with me.

"What matter if the day be fled,
I own each brilliant view;
The world is mine," the poet said,
I half believed it true.



DRINK of my sleepy wizard draught:
Drink, for your cares slip near like ghosts;
Swiftly they ll flee, and in I ll waft
Wonderful, silken shadowy hosts,
Slowly they ll weave and beckon on,
On to a world without a stain:
Deep, drink deep, if you would don
Silvery summer moods again.
See all around you life s dull grey,
Far from the joys fine souls require:
Shrink from the blighting hues of day.
Come to the dusk land of desire.
Love you the sun-tense woodland sounds,
Or the cool strains of singing flute?
Drink! thy best pleasure thee surrounds,
Drink! and the chords of life are mute.

Wander in the realms of dreams

Stay, till all is as it seems;

Never wake until the end,

Yes, the end is but of dreams.



A LUMINOUS light veil is hung
Along the winding river way
The dimly outlined hills among.

Above, the moon now takes her way
In a wild radiant orb of haze,
Alight with memory of the day :

And a half-reverent silence stays
The very wind, which all day sprang
Along the fretted cedarn ways.

Some brooding spirit seems to hang
Above the earth, and seems to sing
Some song which anciently she sang

Once in the moonlight s shimmering
Crooned to an earth unguessed by man
The haunt of many an unnamed thing;

When, as to-night, the huge hills ran
That sweeping line above the mist
And the wide-journeying moon began.


E en Time, the subtle alchemist,
But casts his hues upon earth s face,
As limpid waters sunset-kist.

And we, but travellers in a place
Where all besides is fixed and old
Or are we Age s latest trace?




Tis midnight in the castle tower

As my lady passes there.

She shields her candle as she may

From the chill-starting air;

Wan shines her face against the light.

And the veil of her gold hair.

She climbs to where the lonely wind
Starts by the parapet;
Where ceaselessly about the walls
The dead leaves scritch and fret;
And sorely does my lady sigh,
And her pale cheek is wet.

Hark! Far upon the open moor
Has come the shrill cock s call;
And soft she treads adown the stair
And in the lofty hall;
And she shrinks beneath the armor s glint
From its proud place on the wall.

At noon my lord may wind his horn

Before the castle gate

And long may curb his fretful horse.

And turn again to wait;

The wind is singing in the pines:

My lady tarries late.



ABOVE the limpid stretches comes a cry,
And yet another, and a secret fear
Stirs deeply in the hearts of all that hear;
And nervously the white boats hurry by.

Swift the wide-sketching silvery ripples fly,
And cross, and change along the greyish mere,
As many faces crowd the spot, and peer
In anxious eagerness, they scarce know why.

And yet the lake, the beauteous, seems to glide
From tint to tint, and the light arched trees
Caress the water, and the glittering beach
Still bends its slender curves in many a reach
Of shallow coves. But men can only see
The whitish limbs, and silent, drift aside.



ARE we mere pieces in the hand
That moves this universal Game
Whom one by one some Power has planned
To follow some predestined aim?
Then Hope, thy burning words erase;
This world is but an abject place.

Are we a small and helpless kin
Wide-strewn upon this planet s face
Who, finding little cheer within,
Beseech some cold indifferent Grace?
Far better, then, no boon to seek
For they should perish who are weak.

O praise not him who fears his God
But show me him who knows not fear!
Who, springing from this common clod
Lives out himself; then may appear
The virtues that a whole world sees,
The by-words of the centuries.




LIKE some faint bell far out at sea,
When the west wind is moaning high
And fast the smoke-edged breakers fly,
Thy warning comes incessantly.

Like fingers of the northern gleam
Against the black of winter skies,
Thy biddings still amaze my eyes
In vast and ghostly shadow-scheme.

Through many paths, by night and day,
Unfathoming, I follow thee,
For thou appearest real to me
Above a phantom-haunted way.



O SPIRIT infinitely bright
That dost invest the circling sky
And dwellest in the moon by night,
On thee unceasingly we cry.

When vanquished are the gods and creeds
When superstition s jewels are reft,
Where is it that thy promise leads?
What in a rifled world is left?

We clasped the ancient forms of clay
On whose chill lips thy sign was prest
We bowed to them for many a day
Yet they lie shattered with the rest.

They bade us bend before their shrine
They spun strange tales of faery lore
They bound us with their holy sign:
We turned from them for evermore.

Attend us we that cry to thee
Shed on our eyes that sacred light,
Else toil we on a trackless sea
Storm driven, through eternal night!



. r "

WELL I remember

A night when thou didst beckon at the door

I followed, and beneath the garden pine

We sat together, and as ne er before

I gazed at thee.

There in the semi-light, which filtered out

From the low windows: there where music came

And sounds of dancing steps,

There for a few brief moments did I see

Thy pure face thy black lashes, thy chaste eyes

Half closed, and at thy breast

A red rose pinned.

Well I remember,
Never can I forget.



THY voice, as tender as the light

That shivers low at eve

Thy hair, where myriad flashes bright

Do in and outward weave

Thy charms in their diversity

Half frighten and astonish me.

Thy hands, that move above the keys
With eager touch and swift
Whereby thy mind, with magic ease
Doth into music drift
They fill me with a strange delight
That doth defy expression quite.

Thine eyes, that hold a mirth subdued

Like deep pools scattering fire

Mine dare not meet them in their mood,

For fear of my desire,

Lest thou that secret do descry

Which evermore I must deny.

Thy very quiet dignity

Thy silence, too, I love

Nay thy light word is destiny

Decreed in spheres above

My mind, my heart is bowed to thee,

And hard it is that I must flee.


Hard is a world that dare not give
For every love a place:
Hard is a power that bids us live
A life bereft of grace-
Hard, hard to lose thy figure dear,
My star and my religion here!


SAY not I ve known thee but of late:
Nay, love, that cannot be:
Tis a long wait and a sad wait
That my heart has had for thee.

I ve glimpsed thee all the summer long
Athwart the wavering trees
And the wind s song was thy song,
And the singing of the breeze.

In every joy I ve summoned thee
And thou hast known my fears:
Thou hast led me, yet fled me
Through the mazes of the years.

What though we wandered many a day?
Our fate had bound us fast,
And thy way and my way
Were sure to cross at last.

Then meet we but to part, my love?
That word thou canst not say;
Tis a true love, and a life s love,
And it turneth not away.



I VE something I would sing to thee

Now the year is old

And the tempest s bold,

And the stars are clear and cold.

I ve something I would sing to thee

When all meads are green

And the sky s serene

And the flower-scents float unseen.

I ve something I would sing to thee-
Which the pine trees croon
To the summer moon
But thou scorn st my tune!




HAIL Winter! Come, death-bearer high,

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Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperAfterglow → online text (page 1 of 3)