Celia Thaxter.

The poems of Celia Thaxter online

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Is sweeter for the turmoil of the night;

Ice clatters at the pane and snowflakcs spin
A web of woven storm, a shroud of white.

Its secret the wild winter weather keeps,

No sound transpires except the tempest's breath;

Locked in the frost the mufflud pathway sleeps.
For any human token still as death.

My eyes the room's familiar aspect hold,
Its quiet beauty and its sumptuous gloom.

Its glimmering draperies of dull rich gold,

The gleam upon the burnished peacock's plume.

My rose, my book, my work, I see them all.
With my whole soul surrendered to one sense,

My life within my ears, for one footfall

Listening with patience breathless and intense.

'T is my heart hears, at last, the silent door
Swing on its hinges, there 's no need the fire

Should show me whose step thrills the conscious floor,
As suddenly the wayward flame leaps higher.

Thou comest, bringing all good things that are I
Infinite joy, and peace with white wings furled.

All heaven is here and thou the,

Thou splendor of my life ! " Thou Day o' the world 1 "



The steadfast planet spins through space^

And into darkness, into light
Swiftly it wheels its living face:

" 'T is day," we say, or "It is night."

And we who cling and with it turn,
Till spent is our brief span of years,

Watching our sister stars that burn
Through the dim trouble of our tears.

We question of the silence vast.

Of souls that people distant spheres;

What of their future and their past ?
Have they our sorrows, joys, and fears t

Do the same flowers make glad their sight?

The same birds sing 1 On their great seas
Do ships like ours, with canvas white.

Move stately, answering to the breeze?

Have they their Christ, their Christmas Day ?

ICnow they Mahomet 1 Buddlia 1 One,
Or all or none t And do they pray 1

And have they wrought as we have done}


We cannot guess; 'tis liard indeed,

Our own orb's talo of its dim past
Through centuries untold to read,

And who its future shall forecast 1

We only know it keeps its place,

An atom in the universe,
As through the awful realms of space

The mighty hosts of stars disperse.

We know the hand that holds in check
The whirling worlds, each in its course,

And saves the universe from wreck
And peril, this tremendous Force

Holds likewise all our little lives ;

The suns and stars do all obey
His bidding, never planet strives

To swerve from its appointed way.

The dangerous boon alone to us

Is given, to choose 'twixt ill and well,

Kebellion or obedience, — thus

To build our heaven, or dig our helL

But one great thought our strength upholds;

Nothing shall perish ! Though his rod
Smites sore, his mercy still enfolds

His own; God's souls are safe with God.



Be tbou ashamed, Sidon, saith the sea !

The loud voice of the world is in thine ears,
The world thy service hath and ruleth thee,

Thou givest unto vanity thy years.

Hearken, Tyre! For God stretched forth his hand
Over the sea and He the kingdoms shook.

The broad earth quaked at breath of his command,
From thy proud head the gleaming crown He took.

Is this the joyous city wont to boast

Antiquity of ancient days t Behold
Her feet shall carry her afar, her ghost

Shall mourn in desolation and in cold.

Because the promise of Eternal life

And endless glory and unchanging good

Was naught to her, and she chose sin and strife,
Vain mocking shows, and empty husks for food;

Because so eagerly she served the world

Choosing the base and temporal things it gave,

Down from her throne her haughtiness is hurled,
And all her pride is leveled to a grave.



Stands Hjelma at her lady's chair,

Serving with ready hands, |

About her head her shining hair ]

Braided in golden strands. I

A rose blooms in her maiden cheek, ]

And on her mouth's repose j

A sweet content she cannot speak

Is lovelier than the rose.

"Wliat is that shrill and sudden cry, I

My little maiden ? Say ! " '
"The wild wind shakes the windows high.

And tears the sea to spray; i


"Oh see you not the black, black sky, I

My mistress dear 1 " cries she. |

"The squall comes down, the waves run high; |

Oh hear you not the sea ? i


"Oh glad am I the boats are in, ,

And little Nils and Lars
Are safe, before the waves begin
To leap across the stars ! "


And up and down and here and there
She goes with willing feet,

So busy, with that gentle air
Of still contentment sweet I

At the far reef, since morning light,
All day her brothers twain

About the wreck of yesternight

Have worked with might and main.

She knows not when the cruel gale
Made wild the waning day.

It seized upon their shivering sail
And ilung their £kitf away.

She knows not they are driven, lost,

Over the roaring brine,
Toward the dim, billow-beaten coast,

While heaven will make no sign,

But scatters down its freezing snow
To hide the fading light.

And drives its hurricane below
To fright the shuddering night.

She hums her sweet Norwegian songs,
She lights the lamps, and smiles;



The breakers rush in raging throngs
Across the lonely miles.

And where is handsome Lars, so talll

And where is Nils, so dearl
Upon her soul no shadows fall,

Nor any hint of fear.

And who shall speak to break the spelll

And who will deal the blow 1
The brothers twain she loved so well.

Their fate must Hjelma know!

Loud thunders on the savage storm.

With deep, defiant roar ;
Unconscious in her shelter warm

She hears it lash the shore.

And brightly shines her braided hair,

And on her mouth's repose
Is sweet content, untouched by care,

And on her cheek the rose.


Ah me, my scarlet hollyhock.
Whose stately head the breezes rock.
How sad, that in one night of frost


Thy radiant beauty shall be lost,
And all thy glory overthrown
Ere half thy ruby buds have blown!
All day across my window low
Thy flowery stalk sways to and fro
Against a background of blue sea.
On the south wind, to visit thee,
Come airy shapes in sumptuous dyes, —
Rich golden, black-edged butterflies,
And humming-birds in emerald coats,
With flecks of fire upon their throats.
That in the sunshine whir and glance.
And probe the flowers with slender lance;
And many a drunken, drowsy bee,
Singing his song hilariously.
About the garden fluttering yet,
In amber plumage freaked with jet.
The goldfinches charm all the air
With sweet, sad crying everywhere.
To tlie dry sunflower stalks they cling,
And on the ripened disks they swing;
With delicate delight they feed
On the rich store of milky seed.

Autumn goes loitering through the land,
A torch of fire within her hand.
Soft sleeps the bloomy haze that broods
O'er distant hills and mellowing woods;


Rustle the cornfields far and near,
And nuts are ripe, and pastures sere,
And lovely odors hauut the breeze.
Borne o'er the sea and through the trees.
Belated beauty, lingering still
So near the edge of winter's chill.
The deadly daggers of the cold
Approach thee, and the year grows old.
Is it because I love thee so
Thou waitest, waving to and fro
Thy flowery spike, to gladden me,
Against the background of blue seal
I wonder — hast thou not some sense,
Some measure of intelligence
Eesponding to my joy in thee?
Almost I dream that it may be,
Such subtleties are Nature's, hid
Her most well-trodden paths amid;
Such sympathies along her nerves;
Such sweetness in her fine reserves.
Howe'er it be, I thank the powers
That gave me such enchanted hours
This late October, watching thee
Wave thy bright flowers against the sea.



" Oh heaven bless you, heaven keep you, sweet ! "
It was God's hand that dropped the healing balm

Upon her head, and clothed in prayerful calm
Her soul as saints are robed from head to feet.

Gone is the beautiful beloved voice

That spake that blessing in the vanished years;
Yet in her grateful memory still she hears

The tender tones that made her heart rejoice.

And ever will, while memory keeps her seat;

And though she dwelt among the nameless dead,
Her dust would thrill beneath the voice that said,

" May heaven bless you, heaven keep you, sweet ! "


If I do speak your praise, forgive me, Sweet 1
Since love demands expression, let me say

How joyfully my heart goes out to greet

Your grace and charm with every changing day :

How sweet your morning kiss, how dear your smile.
And tender touch, and voice that 's low and clear.


And with what deep content I yield the while
You draw me to you, near and yet more near,

And show me what pure depths within you lie, —
The powers of good, the gentle steadfastness,

The quiet wisdom and the purpose high,

So strong to love, to lift, to cheer and hless;

^Yhile like a rohe of loveliness you wear

Your flower-like radiance delicately fair.


Through the storm, through the wind and the rain

Eushes the clattering train;

Past the hills, across valley and plain,

Through city and hamlet again.

With a rumble and roar we speed on

Till the half of our journey is done.

Close wrapped in my corner I dream.
Watching the raindrops stream
O'er the misty pane, and the gleam
Of the white of the steam,
As they hurry past and are lost,
On the wings of the tempest tossed.

Through the smoke and the din and the blur
Fast, fast I am flying to hert


All the thunder, the rattle and whir,
The noisy discomfort, the stir,
Are nothing to me, for my sense
Is lost in a rapture intense.

And like golden bees through the storm
Sweet memories cluster and swarm;
Sweet thoughts round a maidenly form
That I see by the firelight warm, —
Bright eyes that are watching the clock,
Little ears that are waiting my knock;

And I know how the color will rush

In that beautiful mantling blush

To her cheek, till its delicate flush

Shall rival the rose, as I hush

With a word her heart's tumult divine

And she lays her white hand within mino.

Then thunder, thou clattering train.
And roar through the wind and the rain.
Past the hills, across valley and plain
Devour the long leagues! — till again
In the light of my love's happy eyes
The sun of my life shall arise.



Calm of the autumn night,

With the glow of a primrose sky

Drowned in a sea of golden light
From the harvest moon on high!

Against the rose of the sky

Winging their silent way,
Darkly the gulls go floating by

In the glow of the dying day.

Infinite peace and calm

In the breast of the ocean wide,
In the air like delicate balm.

In the faint, sweet lapse of the tide.

With the cricket's pensive sound,

With the breath of the late, last rose^

Comes a sense of joy profound.
And a bliss of deep repose.

What is thy mystic charm,

beautiful autumn night!
Not the sigh of the south wind warm,

Not thy harvest moon's pure light;


Not the calm of the glassy sea,
Eeflecting thy stars above;

Nor thy perfumes borne to me
On the balmy air I love:

But the soul of all thou art
Calls to the soul in me,

And speaks to my quiet heart
With the voice of sky and sea.


Nat, wherefore should I seek thy patient ear

To weary thee with words that naught avail 1
This faltering voice will not ring true and clear,
It will but break and fail.

And yet I cannot keep back any part

Of my delight; fain would I give thee all
The music that thou makest in my heart,
As David sang to Saul.

Would bring thee garlands sweet and manifold,
Meek violets full of fragrance, — roses, too,
Dark pansies richly streaked with burning gold,
And lilies bright with dew.

KUTH 255

But ah, they grow so pallid 'neath my hand I

So scentless and so colorless and frail —
The music cannot reach where thou dost stand,
It will hut break and fail.

Still at their source the notes are true and strong,
And as some linnet sings, whose happy breast,
Filled with the summer's rapture, thrills with song
That will not bo suppressed,

Until she cannot choose but strive to blend

Her slender silver thread of wavering sound
With all the nobler voices that ascend,

Though lost it be and drowned, —

So sing I to the sun that fills my sky

With warmth and light and health. So I to theo
Send up my broken music ceaselessly.
Silent I cannot be.


A BABY girl not two years old

Among the phlox and pansies stands,

And full of flowers as they can hold
Her mother fills her little hands,

And bids her cross to where I stay
Within my garden's fragrant space,

256 RUTH

And guides her past the poppies gay
'Mid mazes of the blooming place,

Saying, " Go carry Thea these ! "
Delighted, forth the baby fares.

Between the fluttering-winged sweet peas
Her treasured buds she safely bears.

'T is but a step, but oh, what stress
Of care ! What difficulties wait !

How many pretty dangers press
Upon the path from gate to gate !

But high above her sunny head
She tries the roses sweet to hold,

Now caught in coreopsis red.
Half wrecked upon a marigold.

Or tangled in a cornflower tall.

Or hindered by the poppy-tops, —

She struggles on, nor does she fall,
Nor stalk nor stem her progress stops,

Until at last, the trials past,

Victorious o'er the path's alarms.

Herself, her flowers and all are cast
Breathless into my happy arms.


My smiling^ tosy little maid !

And wline her joy-llushed cheek I kiss,
And close to mine its bloom is laid,

I think, " So may you find your bliss,

« My precious ! When in coming years
Life's path grows a bewildering maze,
So may you conquer doubts and fears
And s<ifely thread its devious ways,

"And find yourself, all dangers past,

Clasped to a fonder breast than mine,
And gain your heavenly joy at last
Safe in the arms of Love Divine."


My little grandson three years old
Sleeps by my bedside nightly,

Through the long hours of dark and cold.
Dreaming he slumbers lightly.

He feels my love around him fold.

And in its heart reposes.
Upon his hair a gleam of gold,

His checks like damask roses.


All through the chill and silent night
I stretch a hand caressing,

To draw the blanket, warm and light,
About him, with a blessing.

In sleep he knows that touch so sweel^

So lingering and tender,
Turns his dear face my palm to meet,

With soft and glad surrender.

God of pity and of love,

Have patience with our blindness,

Thy hand is stretched our heads above
Warm with Thy watchful kindness.

Give us this baby's perfect faith !

Whatever ills assail us,
Help us to feel, in life or death.

That Thou wilt never fail us.


The childish voice rose to my ear
Sweet toned and eager, praying me,
« I am so little, Granna dear,

Please lift me up, so I can see."


I looked down at the pleading face,
Felt the small hand's entreating touch,

And stooping caught in swift embrace
The baby boy I loved so much,

And held him high that he might gaze

At the great pageant of the sky.
The glory of the sunset's blaze,

The glittering moon that curved on high.

With speechless love I clasped him close
And read their beauty in his eyes,

And on his fair cheek kissed the rose,
Sweeter than blooms of Paradise.

And in my heart his eager prayer
Found echo, and the self-same cry

Kose from my heart through heaven's air,
" gracious Father, lift me high 1

♦'So little and so low am I,

Among earth's mists I call to Thee,
Show me the glory of Thy sky I
Oh lift me up that I may see ! "



All's WeU 86

Alone 153

Already I70

Answer, The 226

Appeal 258

April Days 53

As Liuneta Sing 254

At DawB 235

At Set of Moon 204

At the Breakers' Edge 61

August 228

Autumn 158

Autumn, In igg

Because of Thee , I85

Beethoven 70 139

Before Sunrise 34

Beloved ■..••.,,,, 225

Benediction •••..•••, 250

Betrothed 240

Broken Lily, A 83

By the Dead 78

By the Roadside 37

Captured 232

Chopin 74

Christmas, For 203

Compensation 222

Contrast ..99


Courage 41

Cruise of the Mystery, The 177

Daybreak 109

Discontent 168

Doubt 175

Enthralled 143

Expectation 4

Expostulation 187

Faded Glove, A 100

Faith 234

Farewell . . • 174

Flowers for the Brave 186

Flowers in October 114

Footprints in the Sand 80

For Christmas 203

"For Thoughts" 63

Foreboding 166

Garden, My 205

Good-By, Sweet Day 195

Grateful Heart, A 22

Guendolen 66

Guests 171

Happy Birds, The . . 180

Heartbreak Hill 54

Heart's-Ease 156

Her Mirror 202

Hjelma 245

Hollyhock My 247

Homage 167

Impatience 199

Imprisoned ..•••.••••48

In a Horse-Car 236

In Autumn 190


In Doftlh's Despite 217

In Kittery Clmrchyard ''^

I"May 27

In September •*"'

In tlie Lane 200

In Tuscany ^^

Joy 224

Karen **'

Kittery Chorohyard, In w


La™ 124

Leviathan 1'*^

Lost and Saved 208

" Love shall save us all " ITI

March ^

May, In 27

May Morning "

Medrit'k and Osprey ^^^

Midsummer 231

Midsniumer Midnight "1

Minute-Gnns, The 12

Mo.ijeska 122

Morning Song "8

Mouirt "^2

Mnssel Shell, A 11!>

Mntition l"'"'^

My Garden 205

My Hollyhock 247

Hertling Swallows, The 112

New Year Song 282

Norember *1

November Morning 214

Off Shore 2


" Oh teU me not of Heavenly HaUfl" 230

On the Train 251

Our Soldiers 219

Peace 253

Persistence 188

Petition 257

PhUosophy 150

Pimpornel, The 75

Poor Liaette 190

Portent 103

Presage 50

Questions 242

Be^et 32

Remembrance 43

Remonstrance 135

Renunciation 106

Reverie 154

Rock Weeds 15

Rose of Joy, A 209

Ruth 255

Sandpiper, The 18

Schubert 73

Schumann's Sonata in A Minor 184

S. E 190

Seaside Goldenrod 92

Seaward 14

Secret, The 90

September, In 210

Slumber Song 132

Soog (by Oscar Laighton) 95

Songs : —

" A bird upon a rosy bough " 229

" Above in her chamber her voice I hear "... 105

*' A rushiug of winp^s in the dawn " , . . * 127

" Hark, how sweet the thrushes sing " . • . • 135


" I wore yonr roses yesterday " lOi

" Love, art thou weary with tlie sultry day ? " . . 159

" Oh tlie fragrance of the air " 107

" Love, Love, Love ! " Ill

" swallow, sailing lightly " 123

" P:ist the point and by the beach " . , . . 227

*' KoHs tlie long breaker in splendor, and glanttes " • 145

'■ We s;ul toward evening's lonely star " ... 44

" Sing, little bird, oh sing " 105

" VTimt good gift can I bring thee, thou dearest " . 139
Sonnets ; —

" As happy dwellers by the seaside hear " . . . 1(15

" Back from life's coasts the ebbing tide had drawn " 224

" If I do speak your praise, forgive me, Sweet ! " . 250

"Not so! You stand as long ago a king " . . . 108

Song-Sparrow, The 57

Song of Hope, A 218

Sorrow 89

Spaniards' Graves, The 24

Spring Again 162

Starlight 132

Submission .••...•••• 160

Summer Day, A 29

" Sunrise never failed us yet, The " 142

Sunset Song 170

Swallow, The 20

Thanksgiving, A 11

Thora 128

To a Violin 149

To J. G. W 192

Transition 140

Trust 120

Tryst, A 45

Tuscany, In 193

Twilight 19

Two 220

Two Sonnets 108

Tyi« and Sidon 244


Under the EaTea ........ 212

Valentine, A ...•••••• • 238

Vesper Song 1^4

Violin, To a 149

Wait 116

Watch of Boon Mand, The 67

Watching 25

West-Wind 19f

Wherefore 6*

White Rover, The 95

With the Tide 140

Within and Without 239

Wreck of the Pocahontaa, The 6


A baby girl not two years old, 255.

A bird upon a ro8y bough, 229.

About your window's hnppy height, 173.

Above in her chamber her Toice I hear, 165.

A elnsh of human tonpies within, 140.

Across the narrow beach we flit, 18.

Ah me, my scarlet hollyhock, 247.

All abont the gable tall swift the swallows flit, 13(X

Already the dandelions, 170.

And was it thus the master looked, think you, 71.

A pansy on his breast she laid, 03.

Are the roses fallen, dear my child, 110.

A rushing of wings in the dawn, 127.

As happy dwellers by the seaside hear, 165.

As when one wears a fragrant rose, 209.

A strong sweet tide toward the lonely shore, 225.

At daybreak in the fresh light, joyfully, 29.

At her low quaint wheel she sits to spin, 117.

At the open window I lean, 73.

Back from life's ooasU the ebbing tide had drawn, 224

Becaase I hold it sinful to despond, 41.

Bo thou ashamed, O .Sidon. saith the sea, 244.

Betwixt the bleak rook and the barren shore, 148.

Black lie tlie hiUs; swiftly doth daylight flee, 1.

Black sea. bl.ick sky I A pondi-rous steamship driving, 64.

Buttercup nodded and s.iid good-by, 228.

By cottage walls the lilacs blow, 200.


Calm 13 the close of the day, 74.
Calm of the autumn night, 253.
Come out and hear the birds sing ! Oh, wherefore sit you there,

Come under my cloak, my darling, 128.
Cricket, why wilt thou crush me with thy cry, 166.
Crushing the scarlet strawberries in the grass, 59.

Deft hands called Chopin's music from the keys, 122.
Down San Miniate in the afternoon, 193.
Dropped the warm rain from the brooding sky, 37.

Early this morning waking, 235.

Fain would I hold my lamp of life aloft, 234.
Far off against the solemn sky, 176.
Fragrant and soft the summer wind doth blow, 43.
From out the desolation of the North, 45.

Good-by, sweet day, good-by, 195.
Graceful, tossing plume of glowing gold, 92.

Hark, how sweet the thrushes sing, 135.

Here bring your purple and gold, 186.

High on the ledge the wind blows the bayberry bright, 11.

How long it seems since that mild April night, 14.

I lit the lamps in the lighthouse tower, 6.

I stood on the height in the stillness, 162.

I stood witliin the little cove, 12.

I wondered what power possessed the place, 236.

I wore your roses yesterday, 102.

If God speaks anywhere, in any voice, 139.

If I do speak your praise, forgive me, sweet, 250.

If, some day, I should seek those eyes, 50.

In childhood's season f.air, 25.

In Ipswich town, not far from the sea, 54.

In that new world toward which our feet are set, 222.

In the morning twilight, while the household yet, 109.


In this sweet, tranquil afternoon of spring, 57.
It blossomed by the summer sea, 205.

Jo; bt«athes in the sweet airs of spring, 224

Last uight I stole away alone, to find, 22.

Lazily, through the warm gray afternoon, 80.

Leaping from the boat, through the lazy sparkling surf, 210.

Lies the sunset splendor far .ind wide, 114.

Lightly she lifts the Urge, pure luminous shell, 48.

Like huge waves, petrified, against the sky, 143.

Like scattered flowers blown all about the bay, 106.

Love, art thou weary with the sultry day, 109.

Medrick, waving wide wings low over the breeze-rippled bight,

Most beautifnl among the helpers thou, 72.
My life h,i3 grown so dear to me, 180.
My little granddaughter, who fain would know, 100.
My little grandson, three years old, 257.

Nanette! 232.

Nay, comrade, 't is a weary path we tread, 167.
Nay, wherefore should I seek thy patient ear, 254.
Not so ! Yon stand as long ago a king, 108.

O Lily, dropped upon the gray 8e.\-sand, 83.

O Love, he whispered low, Eternal Love, 208.

Love, Love, Love, 111.

O mirror, whence her lovely face, 202.

O Pilgrim, comes the night so fast, 177.

O Poverty 1 till now I never knew, 78.

O sailors, did sweet eyes look after yon, 24.

O Sorrow, go thy way and leave me, 2;52.

O sovereign Master! stern and splendid power, 70.

O stateliest ! who shall speak thy praise, who find, 7L

O swallow, sailing lightly. \'2■^.

Oh heaven bless you, lieaven keep yon, sweet, 250.

Oh tell me not of heavenly balls, 23U.


Oh the fragrance of the air, 107.

Oh the eweet, sweet lapsing of the tide, 53.

Oh what saw you, gathering flowers so early this May morn, 90.

Only to follow you, dearest, only to fiud you, 199.

Past the point and by the beach, 227.
Peace smiles over hamlet and city, 219.
Pleasant above the city's din, 212.

Rock, little boat, beneath the quiet sky, 2.

Rolls the long breaker in splendor, and glances, 145.

Round and round the garden rushed a sudden blast, 158.

Sadly the quails in the comland pipe, 190.

See how the wind is hauling point by point to the soath, 120.

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Online LibraryCelia ThaxterThe poems of Celia Thaxter → online text (page 10 of 11)