Lila R. Munro Tainter.

A caravel of dreams; a book of verse online

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Helpless and hopeless, O God !

And the end of living and loving,
A grave under foreign sod!



[84]



HOPE'S MESSENGER

WITHIN my heart I caged a bird,

And listening
With rapture, every hour heard

Its wild notes ring.

Through summer time the music sweet
Rose clear and strong,

Till even Time stayed flying feet
To hear its song.

It warbled of the coming days

Golden, divine,
Of heart's desire and flowery ways

That should be mine.

But autumn winds blew bleak and chill,

And rain fell fast;
The voice grew faint and fainter, till

It ceased at last.

And when the sun shone out once more

And clouds had fled,
Behold, upon its prison floor

The bird lay dead.



[85]



MY SONG

I SANG my song along the broad highway,

With life untried :
Exultantly rang out the roundelay,

And echoed wide.

1 sang my song along the broad highway

Amid the rain,
And strove with joyous notes the livelong day

To banish pain.

I sang my song along the broad highway ;

The night has come;
My bleeding feet have wandered far astray,

And I am dumb.



[86]



GOOD-BYE, OLD YEAR

GOOD-BYE, Old Year, the hours are swiftly fly-
ing;

The night has come at last and thou art dying.
Doth no repentance, no remorse assail thee,
As far and wide the wintry winds bewail thee ?
Good-bye, good-bye.

Good-bye, Old Year; thou hast been most un-
kindly

To one who welcomed thee so fondly, blindly;
Who gave thee largess as a royal guest ;
Whose trust thou didst betray with wild un-
rest.
Good-bye, good-bye.

Good-bye, Old Year who came in clouds of

glory ;

Thy breath upon my locks has left them hoary ;
Thy lips were chill and filled me with alarms ;
My roses faded in thy clasping arms.
Good-bye, good-bye.

Good-bye, Old Year; thy cruel hand, relent-
less,

Robbed memory of joy and made it scentless;
The wine of love poured from a shattered
glass,

[87]



In blood-red drops upon a mound of grass.
Good-bye, good-bye.

Good-bye, Old Year. And now, since thou must

leave me,
Wouldst sue for pardon wherein thou didst

grieve me?
Restore sweet trust, make whole the broken

heart,
And from remembrance pluck the poisoned

dart ; -

No answer ruthless Year ;
Good-bye, good-bye.



[88]



FINIS

THE dance is over, the song is sung.

I've had my ha'pence; what matters more?
We all must live though the heart be wrung
With its anguish sore.

On sorrowful eyes the world will frown,

For a heavy heart makes a woeful dance,

And a stormy wind shakes the blossoms down

In this life of chance.

I've had my sunshine, though wan and cold ;

I cast a shadow upon the throng.
The day has vanished; its story told.
Will the night be long?

I've smiled and jested; I now would rest

As once in the happy days gone by,
When safe from harm, on my mother's breast
I was wont to lie.

The darkness gathers ; the mist rolls in ;
The dusk is peopled with fancies wild.
Reach, ghostly mother, from shadows thin ;
Take thy weary child.



[89]



DREAMS

O HEART, 'tis vain
To seek again

The sweet rose-gardens of the past.
Too late, too late,
The ivory gate
'Gainst thy return is bolted fast.

And never more
On sea or shore

That rare, effulgent light shall

shine

Whose wondrous rays,
In by-gone days,
Transfigured all with glow divine.

Though one should rise
With haunting eyes,

To lure thee with the old-time

charms,

'Tis but a dream
Of joy supreme;
Awake to tears and empty arms.



[90]



PASS ON, O DEATH

PASS on, O Death; thy destined road be keep-
ing?

Nor falter in the pathway thou dost tread.
The air is filled with sounds of bitter weeping;
Thy fearsome passage marked by flowers
dead.

The bird-song ceases ; winds no more are call-
ing

Amid the rustling leaves their message sweet ;
On blighted blooms the butterflies are falling;

All nature cowers 'neath thy passing feet.

Away, away, nor dare molest my treasure,
The one frail bud unwithered by thy breath ;

Let other, richer gardens pay thy measure :
Pass on thy ruthless way, O cruel Death.



[91]



TURN DOWN HIS EMPTY GLASS

" Where I made one turn down an empty glass."

THE RUBAIYAT.

TURN down his empty glass, but do not let
Thy thoughts of him be filled with wild regret,
Nor for one hour his love of thee forget.

The Master who has wrought us out of clay,
In diverse form has fashioned us each day;
Faultless or flawed, His hand designed alway.

Some for His sacred altars are found meet;

Others for royal usage are complete;

And some lie soiled and broken in the street.

He knows each blemish and each fate has
planned,

For honor this, that in dishonor banned;

The wherefore sometime thou mayst under-
stand.

Inexorable through the changing years

He molds, 'mid prayers of praise, 'mid anguished

tears,
Till at the last is ended strife and fears.

And over all the wonder of the skies

And earth with bud and bloom, though quiet

lies

One smirched and shattered, Fate's stern sacri-
fice.

[92]



E'en shouldst thou call, he will not hear, alas,
Nor of the guests that to the banquet pass
Shall he be one. Turn down his empty glass.



[93]



POEMS OF TRAGEDY



ANARCHY

HATCHED in the fetid slums, I stir and wake
'Mid my incestuous brood to seek the light.
From teeming alleys, courts and city streets,
With sibilant hiss I call the unemployed,
The thief, the harlot and the murderer;
From haunts and dens of sin unspeakable,
Through busy market-place I take my way,
Upon my slimy trail my following,
While ruin, devastation, rapine foul,
Its hydra-head rears high above the throng.
We leave upon our track dishonored homes,
Children defiled, and youths degenerate;
The fair, white, virgin bodies of young maids,
In gross embrace deflowered, then trampled

down.
Our battle cry rings through the trembling

world,

" Equality, fraternity for all ! "
Is this fraternity, equality?
Tortured and broken from the mills we come,
From awful Stygian darkness of the mines ;
Starving and maddened by our impotence,
Monsters that once were brothers, we arise.
What hand has set us free to work our will?
Not God who in His image made us all,
And gave the earth that we might eat and live ;
Not God, but man, exultant in his might,
Obsessed with thirst of power to emulate
[97]



Divinity and make all worlds his own.

Man, the proud conqueror of earth and air,

The lord supreme of nature's mysteries,

Strides over prostrate bodies of his serfs,

Heedless alike of curses and of prayers ;

The strong, the weak, the innocent, the old,

He grinds to indistinguishable pulp

To furnish forth his Bacchanalian feasts,

Till, turned to beasts, raging like beasts they

rise,
And from their agony, behold / am.



[98]



SISTERS

YOUR name is Mary, mine is Magdalene ;

You tread the road to heaven and I to hell;
But why your life is pure and mine unclean,

The Power that made us both alone can tell.

Our spirits, dwelling in primordial flame,
Together burned in space, nor evil knew,

Until by unknown force we hither came,
And I a garret found, a palace, you.

The same hot blood flows in the veins of each ;

In both, primeval instincts seethe and glow.
Of me they make a sinner beyond reach ;

In you they smoulder 'neath convention's
snow.

Your chaste, young breast is not more fair than
this,

A pillow for desire-sated sleep;
My mouth is stained by many a wanton kiss,

While yours its flower-like purity may keep.

O Destiny, thou cruel and unjust,

Why to the helpless issue such decrees,

That yield some lips to love and some to lust ;
Give some the wine of life and some the lees ?



[99]



Within my awful charnel-house in vain
I strive 'gainst fetters of heredity.

Shall I no more my lost estate regain

When fleshly gyves my blighted soul set free?



[100]



BETRAYED

How long the time since I have dared lo 'pray
I know not, reckoning by hour or day,

By months or years ;
But I have sought to wash my guilt away

With contrite tears.

Derided, shamed, I've faced the cold world's

scorn,
The harlot's name upon my bosom borne,

By man's decree,
While my betrayer, all his vows forsworn,

Went scathless, free.

O heart of stone 'gainst which mine own heart

beat,
O lying lips that, passionful and sweet,

Betrayed by kiss,
Can e'er be made atonement that is meet

For sin like this;

Who, pausing for a moment at love's shrine,
Steals from the crystal chalice sacred wine,

And having drained,
Casts down with ruthless hand the cup divine

His touch has stained?



[101]



When Liicifer in human guise would take
A hand at hazard with a soul for stake,

The end's the same,
And weaklings, lured by him his dice to shake,

Must lose the game.



[102]



THE WANTON

LIFE met me smiling, with an outstretched hand
That held bright flowers of hope and joy su-
preme,

And said, " All things are thine, at thy com-
mand."

And yet her promise was an empty dream ;
Footsore and weary, beggared and a-cold,
I know, O Life, thy lies are manifold.

I drank her draught and pleasured through the

land,

In garish day and 'neath the stars' pale gleam ;
She lured me on until at last I stand
Naked and shuddering by death's icy stream.
O Life, thou wanton, heartless, strong and bold,
Within thy grasp man's soul a toy dost hold.



[103]



RACHEL

THE time is long ago when I and Grief

Struck hands reluctantly on life's highway,
Since then for me has shone no cheering ray,
And of my fond hopes not one tiny leaf
Remains to tell of their fruition brief.
With tear-blind eyes I wander far astray
On hopeless quest that I perchance some day
May overtake relentless Death, the thief,

From whose dread presence, filled with wild

alarms,
I fled on fear-winged feet that summer

tide.
And yet, despite my tears, despite my

pain,

He ravished from my impotent, fond arms
My cherished blossoms, I no bud could

hide;

Therefore I wander, seeking, but in
vain.



[104]



THE JESTER

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players."

WITH haggard face smeared o'er in red and

white,

Behold the jester leaps upon the stage;
The public greet his entrance with delight,

As by his quips and grins he earns his wage.
Though pain and anguish claim him for their

own,

Though sorrow's bitter cup his lot to quaff,
His painted lips emit no sigh or moan ;

He jests and capers that the world may
laugh.

Wearied at last of heavy-hearted jokes,

They yawn, and he no more their interest

keeps,

His wildest flights nor mirth nor smile pro-
vokes ;
They hiss, behind his paint the jester

weeps.
His little hour has passed and he is done,

The fickle world demands a new surprise,

Another clown their mad applause has won,

And in his garret, starved, the jester dies.



[105]



CONDEMNED

WHAT of the night,
O watchman, pacing 'neath the skies?
Above the peaks does dawn arise?

Not yet 'tis light.

The heavens are dark,
The leaden clouds shut out the stars ;
They stretch above like prison bars,

So stern and stark.

A dead moon swings.
No light ! No light, and we must die !
Yet be the dawn afar or nigh,

Too swift its wings.

When morning fair

Wakes we shall lie stretched stiff and cold,
Our heads low pillowed in the mold,

Our spirits where?



[106]



PAYING THE PIPER

DANCING on in the joyous weather,

Youths and maidens with quip and fling,

Merrily laughing, trip together
To the Piper's music hearkening.

What though feet through the quagmire
wander?

Youth is the time to revel and sing;
Golden, beautiful days to squander,

And follow the Piper, rioting.

Fruit of knowledge is plucked and tasted,
Souls are risked for the savoring;

Roses of joy are culled and wasted,
While after the Piper hastening.

Shadows gather; the winds are wailing;

Phantoms of evil clasp and cling.
Onward still, though the strength be failing,

For the Piper grim is summoning.

Unto the soul despair has spoken ;

Courage and hope long since took wing;
Tears are dried, for the heart is broken,

And now for the Piper's reckoning.



[107]



THE LAND OF WOE

FAINT and dim on the horizon,
Amid islands bright and fair,

Lies a land of tears and mourning
Lies a land of wild despair.

The same waves sing on its beaches,
The same heaven o'er it smiles ;

Round it perfumed winds are blowing
As in other happier isles.

Yet it lies accursed and lonely,
And its palm trees in the wind

Sway and whisper, " Ye who come here
Must leave every hope behind."

Island of the broken-hearted,

Where are severed ties of earth,

E'en the angels weep, beholding,
And the devils shriek with mirth.

Ye who pray above your darlings
And their dying forms caress,

Would ye drain the cup of torment
And know utter hopelessness:

Think upon that woeful country
Where the hapless go to die,

Man abandoned, God forsaken,
Leper island, Molokai!
[108]



THE OPEN GATE

THERE is a gate

Narrow and low with lichen overgrown ;
Those who would fain pass through approach
alone,

In royal state.

Black shadows creep
About the portal which is never fast ;
Oft with one touch ye enter and at last

Know why ye weep.

The road thereto

Anon is smooth and fair, then dour and dark,
But at the end there flickers a faint spark

The gateway through.

None comprehend

This side the secret of the hidden light,
For none return who go beyond the sight,

Or message send.

How great thy need,
However blighted hope and life may be,
'Tis thine to suffer or the mystery

To dare and read.

Naught may compel
The awful question or the fiery test,
But all who writhe in agonized unrest

The cure know well.
[109]



Then fear not fate;
When destiny is hopeless, hostage cease
To misery ; take thou thine own release,-

Pass through the gate.



[110]



VANQUISHED

A CASTLE Stood

Upon the borders of a boundless sea ;

An ancient wood

Embowered and concealed it cunningly,
But silvern bells at eventide betrayed

Its presence tunefully.

Eyes starry bright

Gazed through the mullioned windows' ivy
screen

When soft moonlight

On maze of tangled blossoms cast its sheen ;
And nightingales without a thought of fear

Built nests amid the green.

Beyond, afar,
The purple silhouettes of mountains rose;

The evening star

Above their peaks hung signals of repose ;
And till by dawn dispersed, the fleecy clouds

Flocked round the rocky close.

So sweet Content
With gentle Peace reigned in this fair domain,

And Sorrow went

Aside with shrouded face her path of pain,
And though by Death companioned step by
step,

Sought not ingress to gain.

[mi



But chill winds blew,
Snow-laden, till the flowers drooped and died;

The wild birds flew

Affrighted and to southlands swift wings plied ;
And Doubt with icy fingers stood without

And would not be denied.

Relentless Fate
Led unveiled Sorrow with her haunted eyes

Through bastioned gate;

Smote down defense 'mid wild despairing cries,
Till Death at last, a conqueror and a king,

Held Life his captive prize.

Now stone by stone,
White, cruel hands of surges seaward sweep

A shattered throne

Whose sovereignty the spirit could not keep;
And o'er the ruins, desolate and stark,

Mildew and darkness creep.



[112]



RELIGIOUS POEMS



THE CROSS OF RUBIDOUX

THE golden sunshine gleams o'er mesas wide,
And over giant peaks that on each side

In might arise,
Invading e'en the kingdom of the skies.

From rocky heights of Rubidoux there falls
The shadow of a Cross that voiceless calls

Till man must heed

Its message blest, attuned to every need.
On whomso'er its benison doth rest,
Responsive reverence wakens in the breast;

The present vast
May not eliminate the storied past.

In blush and bloom a golden orchard glows,
And borne on wandering breeze from cloistered

rows,

A perfume rare,
Like incense from an altar, fills the air.

Junipero Serra and the fathers sleep ;

His Mission, best beloved, a crumbling heap,

The spoil of Time ;

And o'er the ruined walls the roses climb.
Dauntless of heart, they toiled with bitter

stress
To make a garden of a wilderness;

From great to least

They ministered, as friend, physician, priest.
[115]



And when the dark hour came and strength was

spent,
Their prayer for human succor impotent,

They recked not loss,
But martyred, dying, clung unto the Cross.



[116]



THE WORSHIP OF THE FLOWERS

O FLOWERS fair, unto the world God-given,
Earth- stars that waken from a dewy sleep

To smile upon thy glittering twins in heaven
That watch and ward in wind-swept spaces
keep:

Thy fragrant chalices are gently swaying
'Mid woodland aisles and on the garden sod,

In perfumed wordless prayers forever saying
Their matins and their vespers unto God.

The little feathered acolytes are singing
In thrilling chorus near each hidden nest,

On bush and shrub are balmy censers swinging
As Nature worships at divine behest.

From bulb and seed in dark mold fructifying,
Ye rise triumphantly as some day we

Shall fall into the sleep that men call dying,
And waken into immortality.

What matter if ye live but for an hour,

Ye did not bloom in vain though ye must
fade;

Ye are the symbol of His love and power,
The sweet sign manual His hand has made.



[117]



EASTER TIME

'Tis Easter time: sing, birds, your roundelay;
Sing, all ye little streams along the way.

'Tis Easter time:

O sighing trees, lament no more your shame ;
The Cross man hewed from ye did man reclaim.

'Tis Easter time: O sister Magdalene,

This day know that His blood has washed thee

clean.

'Tis Easter time :

He doth upon Himself all burdens take,
Thy base desires, thine anguish, thy heart-
break.

'Tis Easter time : Mary, no longer weep ;
The Christ, thy Son, has wakened from his

sleep.

'Tis Easter time:

O sorrowing mother, ever art thou blest,
That thou hast rocked the Godhead on thy
breast.

'Tis Easter time : our Lord and God has risen ;
Sing, contrite hearts, anointed by his chrism.

'Tis Easter time:
Through heaven and earth let the wild anthem

ring,

" Behold, upon His throne, Jehovah, King."
[118]



CHRIST'S MOTHER

HE was a baby cradled in her arms,

Just such an one as we might love to-day,

A little rosy child with dimpled charms,
And Mary strove to keep all ill away.

She bent above Him in ecstatic thought
Like other mothers, be time old or new;

And when His eager lips her bosom sought,
In every sip her very soul He drew.

And then upon the cross 'twixt felons twain
She saw Him nailed, she heard His last faint
breath,

And suffered with Him every bitter pain,
As impotent she watched His cruel death.

O Mary, who on erring world ingrate

Bestowed such gift, thine only Son divine,

What mortal power can judge or estimate
A sacrifice so infinite as thine!



[119]



BETHLEHEM'S BABE

IN Bethlehem a babe was born ;

(List the angels calling!)
A manger was his cradle bed,
And straw the pillow for his head.

(Fast the tears are falling.)

Swift winging through the gates of morn,

(List the angels calling!)
Responsive to his plaintive cry,
Bright seraphs sang his lullaby.

(Fast the tears are falling.)

In adoration knelt the kine;

(List the angels calling!)
All creatures knew their Lord supreme
Save those blind souls he would redeem.

(Fast the tears are falling.)

O little hands that cling and twine!

(List the angels calling!)
O baby brow whereon we see
The sign and seal of sovereignty !

(Fast the tears are falling.)

The shadow of the cross draws near;

(List the angels calling!)
The way to Calvary is steep,
Death's murky vapors closer creep.

(Fast the tears are falling.)
[120]



Earth, look upon thy work and fear!

(List the angels calling!)
'Twixt felons twain a form doth swing,
And man has slain his God and King!

(Fast the tears are falling.)

Heavens' portals ope, worlds disappear;

(List the anthems pealing!)
The Son of God, man's sacrifice,
Behold, enthroned in paradise !

Archangels round him kneeling!



[121]



I AM A WANDERER

I AM a wanderer from my Father's home ;
Far, far afield my erring steps have strayed
O'er rugged mountains, height on height ar-
rayed;
Through swamp and thicket dense, my way

have made,
Until at last I can no longer roam.

I am a wanderer from my Father's home;
Time was, long since, when strong and un-
afraid,

I woke e'er roses of the dawn could fade,
And blithely roamed 'mid glad birds' sere-
nade,
Beneath a smiling heaven's arching dome.

I am a wanderer from my Father's home;

My strength is spent ; no more can I per-
suade

My lagging feet through forests' dim arcade.

I fear the haunted gloom and dusky shade
Wherein the gleaming torrents roar and foam.

I am a wanderer from my Father's home;
The shadows lengthen ; soon will night in-
vade

My path. Thy hand alone can give me aid ;
O walk with me that my weak steps be stayed !
I am a wanderer from my Father's home.
[122]



WHEN SHEPHERDS WATCHED

THROUGH that wondrous night the shepherds,

watching,

Saw strange signs and portents far above them,
While the changeful winds blew hither, thither,
In a wild unrest.

'Mid the glittering, radiant lamps of heaven,
Now revealed, now screened by misty curtain,
One alone burned brighter than all others,
Star of Bethlehem.

Marvelling, the shepherds left, forgotten,
Timid flocks unguarded from night's perils,
Guided by the light until it led them
To a manger bed.

Quietly the Prince of Peace was lying

In His humble cradle by His mother,

While the sweet-breathed kine about were

kneeling,
Worshipping and dumb.

Everywhere unseen were shining legions,
Wings outspread, their Lord and King adoring,
Pouring through the golden gates of heaven
In an endless throng.



[123]



Virgin Mary, chosen among women,
Mother of our God, though great thy glory,
Great thy pain. The cross whereon He suf-
fered,
Thee, too, crucified.



[124]



YULETIDE

THE holly blushes 'neath its leaves,
The crackling Yule log blazes clear;

Bedeck the hall with Christmas wreaths,
Fill up the glass with Yuletide cheer.

The wassail bowl is brimming o'er,
And Christmas tapers all alight;

The Christ child waits beside the door
For leave to enter in to-night.

The world without in frosty chains
Lies bound beneath the cold star-glow,

But cheery home-fires through the panes
Throw gleams across the drifting snow.

The bells ring out their clangor sweet,
" Peace upon earth, to man good will !

Above the tumult of the street
Rise the insistent voices shrill.

Bid sorrow for a time depart,
Forget a while life's discipline,

Ope wide the portals of the heart,
And let the Christmas mummers in.



[125]



GUI BONO

WHY must there be,
Dear God, this groping through the mists and

damps,
Seeing afar the happy household lamps,

But none for me?

Why should I toil

'Mid thorny paths beside the river's brink,
With breaking heart and tired feet that sink

In mud and soil?

Some pathways lie

Sunny and beautiful by tranquil streams,
Some weary eyes close fast in tearless dreams ;

Lord, why not I?

May I not rest

One moment upon grassy knoll in shade
Of some old oak where little birds have made

A hidden nest?

When shadows fall
And pale stars glimmer faintly through the

night,
Strange evil things from thickets dense affright

With wail and call:



[126]



Then could I hear
But once Thy voice, 'twould ease my path of

pain ;

Thy presence would my ebbing strength sus-
tain,
And banish fear.

Ofttimes I seem,

Asleep, to rest within Thy sheltering arms ;
At dawn I wake to find with wild alarms

'Tis but a dream.

Yet shouldst thou still
Decree my spirit's growth by bitter loss,
Grant me the trust to humbly kiss the Cross,

And do Thy will.



[127]



YB I 1781',



977601



THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY





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Online LibraryLila R. Munro TainterA caravel of dreams; a book of verse → online text (page 3 of 3)