Gamaliel Bradford.

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A Pageant of Life

Poems by





Free Public Library


B 797

Circulating Department


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A Pageant of Life

Gamaliel Bradford, Jr.


Boston: Richard G. Badger

The Gorham Press

Copyright 1904 by Gamaliel Bradford, Jr.
All Rights Reserved.

Printed at

The Gorham Press

Boston, U. S. A.

TO H. F. B.

K - 4 L,

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A Pageant of Life


The Villa of Hadrian ....


Song of the Sirens to Ulysses


A Verse of Isaiah


Leopardi .......




Songs and Lyrics


Prologue and Lyrics from A Mad World .

. 67

Translations ......




As one who in a mighty river swims

And feels the water's smooth, incessant flow,
With drops that ever come and ever go,

Till his brain totters and his eyesight dims.

So may w^e feel our life fly. Lightest whims
And fiercest lusts that rock us to and fro
Shift, fade alike, and vanish. Fast or slow.

The endless stream its unknown channel brims.

One only in this change remains unchanged.

All time sweeps on and all it leaves behind,
The heart that harbored and the heart that ranged.

All passion's ebbs and flows, and hope's clear wind.
All love and hate, estranger and estranged.

Are quiet in that one eternal mind.


From early morn till late at eve I use
To ponder on the cause and end of things :
Whether the gods arc vain imaginings,

Why love Is blind, why passions crush and bruise.

Why men seek evil and the good refuse.
Beneath my trees, where Philomela sings,
Where fountains play, and marble gods and kings

Look on benign, I meditate and muse.

Sometimes a wave of girlish love breaks in
And floods my reveries with passion's foam-
I laugh, and pant, and struggle for my breath.
So years pass on, and end, as they begin;
And I, contented, wait till that day come.
Which leads from quiet life to quiet death.


The mighty days were gone and the mere lees

Of poetry and song alone were left.

Athens, of glory and high place bereft,
Forgot her Phidias and her Sophocles.
Yet thou, content with lesser palm than these,

Didst frame with careful grace thy comic weft.

With easy raillery and conduct deft
At once couldst charm the sage, the vulgar please.

A mellow wisdom through thy pages flows,
Not shaking laughter, holding both his sides,
But such sweet wit as meditation guides,

Just tempered with the pause of him who knows
That human life and love are light as breath,
Till weighted with the leaden thought of death.


Swift Europe rushed on Asia, horse and man,
Borne onward by that young heroic soul,
Like winter tides, whose surge brooks no control.

The heavy East could but w^ith wonder scan

So many fiery hearts that rode, and ran.

And raved, and fought, and bled, and drank,

and stole
Her hoarded wealth, and had no other goal

Than noise and blood, action without a plan.

Patient she watched and waited for her time.

Until at length the victors' selves w^ere changed :
From Grecian thought and Grecian strength

In womanish garb which womanish life beseems.
Consumed by Eastern vice and Eastern dreams,

They rotted in the quiet Asian clime.



The country life of poets is so sweet!

The low, the base, the clogging, and the mean

Are banished far from that enchanting scene.
The flute and tabor tempt unwearied feet
To gleam like stars for starless age, whose seat

Is quiet under boughs forever green.

If only such a sweet world e'er had been
Outside of Fancy's realm and dear retreat.

In thee alone that golden world seems real.
The breath of cattle, touch of hairy goats,
Coarse rustic jest, laugh long and loud and
free —
All mingle in thy pastoral ideal,

Lending a homely savor to thy notes,
Sung by the blue, divine, Sicilian sea.


Son of the splendid city of the sea.

Who climbed so high to fall at last so low,
How grand it was to sweep from ice and snow,

Like Alpine eagle, on thine enemy;

To gorge on spoil of Roman luxury.

To grind thy heel into thy country's foe.

To make her writhing, groaning, pleading, know

The bitter taste of scorned humility.

Vain triumph! She was sterner framed than thou.
As thou wert doomed to find, when, slow and sure,
She urged revenge unto thy very home.
The knee she made to bend must ever bow ;
No hope could medicine, no time could cure
What once was shattered by imperial Rome.



Light of the world, thou idol of the wise,

Greece, first in thought and first in beauty too.
Thy grandeur gone, thou needs must stoop to sue,

Cringing and pleading, 'neath the Roman eyes,

Full of strange greed and barbarous surprise.
Worse still is yet to come: a filthy crew.
Christian and Turk, in ruffian hordes, must strew

Thy sacred soil with their iniquities.

Yet through the night and storm of time's decay

Thy memory and glory shall abide.
Though winds may rave and shattering tempests

The bark in which the hopes of man are driven ;

No mist shall dim, no cloud of fate shall hide
Athens, the fairest star in all thought's heaven.


Let others shape and carve and paint and gild.

Our Rome shall triumph in the rule of men.

The whole wide world shall hail the denizen
Of this imperial city seven-hilled.
Let Carthage sullen bow, Greece servile build

Our monuments with trowel and with pen.

In far Helvetia's most sequestered glen
Men's mouths shall be with Roman glory filled.

Alas, if fame of rule could outwear fame
Of lyre, of pen, of chisel, or of brush !

But consuls steal and great commanders thieve;
The hand that was so mighty to achieve
Is mightier still to burn and grind and crush;
And Roman glory is but Roman shame.



Great rebel, In the thunder of thy verse

The beating of thy passionate heart is heard,
Which stamped its energy on every word,
And dared proclaim the universal curse
That broods on life. Thou labored'st to disperse
The pale deceits, by fond man still preferred
To bare and naked truth, not over-blurred
AVith foul hypocrisy and evils worse:
Hatred, and superstition, and low guile.

Thou hast thy sweets, too: pure, serene content,
In realms where high philosophy doth move;
Stoic resolve to meet what fate hath sent;
And here and there the purple light of love.
Touching thought's arid desert with a smile.


That piercing, tender, grief-thrilled plaint must

The souls of all who hear with lover's ears.

And still, with thee, after two thousand years.
We mourn about the falling of a sparrow.
So, like a swift gleam through a casement narrow^

Pours dow^n on us a flood of smiles and tears.

Blending thy name with all Love's hopes and
In words bright, keen, and stinging as his arrow.

Kisses, and kisses, and kisses, yet again.
As thick as autumn leaves, or summer rain.

Or arid sand upon the Libyan hills!
If only so love could be made to stay,
And hideous, creeping age be kept away.

Which starves and numbs and freezes, ere It kills.



Thou serpent of old Nile, In whose gay coil

The noblest of the world were caught and stung,
Fierce, opulent beauty, from whose honeyed

Variety flowed still, thyself the foil

To thine own loveliness, in what turmoil

Thou put'st him even today, who dreams among
Old books in which thy witcheries are sung!

What would he give to tread thy mystic soil,

To swim thy sacred river, whose divine.

Slow tide flows seven-mouthed to the sea.

To serve thine Isis, to adore thy shrine
With trembling, love-infatuated knee.

To feel thy burning lips once kiss him thine-
What would he give to have been loved by thee!


The sheaf, the vine, the apple, and the bee,
And fauns who pipe to old Silenus bass.
Sufficed thy dreaming youth. The Roman race,

With all its pomp and glory, could not be

Enough for thy maturer faculty,

Till human love warmed it with crimson trace.
Who of the poets of sweetness and of grace —

Beloved band,-has ever equalled thee?

Not pure Racine, too conscious of his age,
Not Tasso, smothered in a world of dreams.
Not Spenser, lost in his own melody,
Has mastered so the subtle witchery
Of words and thoughts, whose intricate blending
An opiate for life's dull pilgrimage.



In old Chaldea, in the chilly night,

The shepherds watched their flocks, and hid

Their fleecy charge, told the dull hours along.
When sudden, in the East, an unknown light
Flares upwards, and about its lustre bright

Angels, in flashing cohorts, singing, throng.

The lovely echo of that morning song
Made the foul shadows of the dark take flight
And waked another world. To blast old lies
And the weak, futile dreaming of the wise.

To teach us what we cannot quite forget.
To free mankind from death's eternal prison —
Star of the world, for these things wert thou risen.

Star of the world, ah, wherefore art thou set?


Serve wisdom only, make the right thy guide.
And let desire with all its evils be.
Behold the shadow world indifferently,

That neither life nor death may once divide

Thy thoughts from the Unchanged whom changes
Trust in thine own firm will, and thou shalt see
Pleasure and pain become alike to thee,

And man in his own virtue deified.

Stern law^ and guide severe, ah, too severe,
For men of dust not moulded into stone,
Too barren is the refuge thou supply'st.
The broken human heart, too weak to bear
Thy harsh and rigid rule, sighed and took on
The mild and gentle yoke of Jesus Christ.



"Animula, vagula, blandula."

The golden glory of an autumn sun

Sheds Its full radiance on the mountain tops;
While, save the birds' bright singing In the copse,

No murmur breaks the midday hush, not one.

I dream among vast columns, overspun

With cobwebs, walls from which the Ivy drops
In gleaming clusters, roofs whose mighty props

Are tottering, halls whose grandeur Is undone.

And thou, whose curious spirit planned this whole.
To make thine eve epitomize thy noon.

Whose restlessness, forced here to find Its goal.
Lay brooding on the hour that comes too soon, —

Flits now thy timid, frail, unquiet soul

Beyond the orbed wanderings of the moon?


Out from the covert of the tangled boughs

A faun, crouched close, peered, with his strange,

wild eyes.
Watching the sacred Christian mysteries.

No rout he saw In Bacchanal carouse.

No spilth of blood, no plight of grosser vows.
He heard the blessed hymn so solemn rise
It touched the very azure of the skies:

The Son of Man receives the Church, his spouse.

The scared faun heard and shook in every limb.

His eyes grew wilder with a strange dismay.
The gospel new he felt was not for him,

Creature of unmixed earth and tainted clay.
He turned; and far within the forest dim,

Sought to escape the glare of Chrstian day.



Thou could'st call spirits from the vasty deep,
And they would come when thou did'st call for

Could'st hang the sparkle of an airy gem

Of wit on mortals who had lain asleep

So long, they had forgot to laugh or weep ;
Could'st make a skeleton shake ofif its phlegm
And dance a jig or phrase an apothegm,

Then back once more to dust and quiet creep.

The gods for thee would leap like marionettes,
Or mow like apes, or chatter like the jay.
Happy such heart as thine, which walks its way,
In pleasant sunlight of its own sweet mirth;

And pleased with airy mockery, forgets
The dusty toil and vain deceits of earth.


Beggars in rags and bare philosophers

Take comfort in the airy sweets of thought.
The austere paths of truth are seldom sought

By those who plunge their hands in Fortune's purse

Up to the elbow. Solid joj^s of hers,

Though with satiety and sadness fraught.
Beguile the proud. He only who is taught

By care and grief the way of right prefers.

Yet thou, arrayed in thy imperial might.

Seated on what seemed Rome's eternal throne.
With treasuries and armies at thy nod,
Kept'st firm, and calm, and clear, thine Inward
And still, with steady step, wert pressing on
Toward a diviner resting place in God.


A SAINT (Third Century A. D.)

Come, hack me, hew me, tear me Ifmb from limb.

Bring out your rack, your pincers, and j^our steel.

Urge on your executioners to deal
Quick death or slow, with all their torments grim.
What though my heart should faint and my brain

What though my weak will cannot quite conceal

The throb and wrench of human nerves which
feel ?—
Your sword, j^our axe, your flame cannot hide him.

God ! The smoke and blaze are mounting


1 hear the fearful rushing of the fire,

Give me that courage w^hich thou ne'er deny'st.
After the draining of this bitter cup.
My soul in glory shall be lifted up

And I shall triumph with the risen Christ.


Devils of fear, devils who roar and rage.

Devils with rending steel and scorching fire ;

Devils of greed, who spur on sharp desire
With gold and gems that dazzle even the sage;
Devils of power, who whisper wars to wage

And thrones to which the wicked may aspire ;

Devils of ease, who proffer rich attire
And idle shifts to cheer life's pilgrimage;

Devils of lust, with strange, voluptuous forms,
Enchanting eyes that make the soul afraid.
That wither virtue and turn conscience tame;
Devils alone, devils in shoals and swarms-
Yet all these devils tremble and fear and fade
And vanish, when I name the Saviour's name.



''New creeds," thou said'st, ''new evils. Men con-

For foolish fancies about things unknown,

Because they dare not live for right alone.
They think their greed and wickedness will end
When once a dream-god ventures to descend

And bear the curse of flesh with mortal groan.

Fools, never yet could man for man atone.
Keep your old gods and let your own lives mend."

Vain hope, to raise the dead, bring back the past :
New Gods are born, the old are forced to bow.
In spite of yearning hearts and bitter tears.
The most supreme must fade and fail at last.
And many and many a soul is striving now,
As thou did'st — after fifteen hundred years.


Strange strife of words, which love and good forgets.
Damnation deep backward and forw^ard tossed.
The depths of man's dark ignorance shown most

By the impatient rage with which he frets

Against the hopeless impotence that nets

And strangles him. Scholars in host on host.
Branding each other with enormous boast

Of sounding wrath and empty epithets.

And out of this grotesque debate there grew.
From those who conquered and those overcome.

The hugest fabric the Vv'orld ever knew,

Creed piled on creed and tome on dusty tome.

Strange that so vast an edifice should be

Reared from that simple life in Galilee.



Love, warm and fresh and Innocent as May;
Love, panting in the inmost solitudes
And quiet, dewy nooks of dim, green woods ;
Love, bright beneath the placid eye of day,
Not forced to hide its glowing joys away

From canting gossipry, whose tongue Intrudes,
And cold, cramped, harsh, dull age's platitudes;
Love, which forgets the hours that will not stay
And makes a man immortal as a god ;

Love, still athirst, still quenched, whose golden
Makes the w^hole world to passionate music
Love, at whose royal and omnipotent nod,
The soul In one wide flame is lifted up —
See here thy sweetest sacrifice, O Love.


The fierce and torrid suns of summer flash

Upon me, till I wither in the glare ;

And fiery devils, sailing In the air,
Tempt my sick fancy, till I long to dash
My reeling brains out. Storms immense and rasli

Come hurrying from the angry South wind's lair.

Mad lightnings lay the vault of Heaven bare,
Till all my senses shiver in the crash.

Then, slow awaking, in a vision dim,
I hear the murmur of a solemn hymn.

From the devout below who watch and pray ;
While far above, In azure depths of Heaven,
Resounds the ringing of the planets seven.

In mighty march on their eternal way.



Like the amazement of a night attack,

When arms resound and half-waked sentries stare,
And lurid torches flicker in the air,

Making the heavy dark more dense and black:

Such were those hideous ages. Storm and sack,
Man's hate let loose without control or care.
Terrible wrath, more terrible despair,

Strife here, strife there, urged forw^ard and urged

All Europe shook with the insensate jar;

Yet, mid the crash of moving horde on horde,
Above the tumult and the din of war.

Brighter than gleam of torch or flash of sword.
Calm in the vault of Heaven hung one fair star.

The memory and love of Christ the Lord.


All day I ride at will through sun and shade;
Sometimes with rein upon my horse's neck.
Lazily watching drops of light that fleck

The leaves and blossoms in a woodland glade ;

Sometimes, in wild career, with eager blade.

Crushing out wrong and setting bound and check
To cruelty and greed, which at my beck

Cower and cringe, of honest wrath afraid;

And sometimes, through the forest green, I see
A lady dim, who nods and laughs at me,

I follow, follow, follow, in despair;
Until at length, in some secluded grot,
Where angry winds and tempests enter not.

She kisses me, and soothes my soul from care.



No doubter he, nor questioner of things,

No pallid student, worn with thought's decay.
Over the pathless water lies his way.

Still in his ear the boisterous North wind sings,

Still he flies forward, on the eager wings
Of swift w^hite galleys, till he strikes his prey,
Leaving behind him terror and dismay. —

Then with his cry the vault of Heaven rings.

And when his battles end, as end they must.
At least the bard's shrill legend he can hear.
Singing of bold deeds and the din of war.
What though his body be but sin and dust?
His soul sweeps out beyond the realm of fear,
The child of Odin and the loved of Thor.


With flaunting plumes and gorgeous banners gay,

The lordly hosts went forth on sea and land ;

Prelates and kings, exultant in command.
Made ancient realms stoop low beneath their sway.
Their splendor dimmed the eye of southern day,

And scared the Moslem from the sacred strand ;

Till, lost in that drear waste of barren sand.
Famine and discord wasted them away.

Then they came back, like spent thieves, wearily,
Wounded and broken, faint, and sore, and wan.

Their splendor gone, their grandeur infamy,

Loathing the pride with which they first began.

So fail, so fade, so wither, and so die
The vast ideal hopes and aims of man.



With lute and sword I wander all day long

Through quiet lanes and over sunny slopes;

Nor envy I the weary mole who gropes
In cities close, though gold to him belong.
Who has no end to reach can scarce go wrong;

The poor with neither thief nor beggar copes.

I have no other kingdom than my hopes;
I have no other riches than my song.

My song which I love more than even love,
Though love be all the matter that I sing.

Ah, when on moonlit eves I cease to rove
And bid my passion in my notes take wing.

It seemiS as if the very heaven above
Were set on fire with my carolling.


What though his frock be torn and skin be brown,

With filth of many j^ears quite overlaid?

Does he not prosper in his jolly trade.
Trotting at vagrant will from town to town?
Can he not laugh at ease and lay him down

With well-filled can beneath the pleasant shade?

Why should he not be kissed by wife or maid,
When he for Christ's poor follower is known ?

Mixed company, these followers of Christ:

Tiaraed Popes, with purple luxury;
Fat curates comfortably beneficed ;

The easy-going flock, who keep one eye
On heaven, and clutch the world with greedy fist;

And some rare, sweet, white flowers of charity.



What though mankind still jangle and go wrong?
Not for the wisest prater of them all, I
Will bate one jot of my fantastic folly.

I shake my bells and sing an idle song.

For all world's beauty doth to me belong.
Let them have w^isdom with her melancholy,
Let them be politic and me be jolly, —

I shake my bells and sing an idle song.

Sometimes, upon a summer afternoon,

I dream that men are governed by the moon,

And still, and still, the wild procession swells:
Wise kings, wise priests, wise fools run mad with

laughter ;
And while they dance, and reel, and tumble after,

I sing an idle song and shake my bells.


In quiet cell my quiet hours I spend,

A round of daily duties daily done:

Now slipping through my fingers, one by one,
My well worn beads, which well-worn prayers at-
tend ;
Now adding splendid tints to what I penned

About the holy Mary and her son.

The task so long, so long ago begun
Goes leisurely; I would not have it end.

They say there's wild work in the world outside,
Princes and kings are hurrying far and wide;

There's crowns stuck on awry, crowns rent away ;
And sometimes, with vague murmur from afar,
I hear the din and crash of hideous war —

What care I, so they let me paint and pray?



A SAINT (Thirteenth Century A. D.)

Out of the waves of vanity which toss

My weary soul, till grief is all it knows;
Out of the sharp variety of woes ;

Out of the world's delight, which is but dross;

Out of the world's gain, which I count but loss;
As one scarce yet recovered from death's throes,
Who dazzled, weak, stumbling, and creeping goes,

I turn, and fling my arms about the Cross.

My brow is wet, my heart is filled with flame,
Thinking of all my sin and bitter shame —

And then I faint with breath of lilies sweet.
Close at my side I hear my Loved One say,
"Blessed are those that watch and those that pray;

And all my soul is poured out at his feet.


A dream of stone! Upon thy walls without
Is carved the tumult of the life of man,
The passions and the hopes, which, through the

Of years so brief, still hurry him about.

That flying from the strange, disordered rout.
He may find refuge in thy calm, may scan-
His arms about the Cross - those wounds that ran

With God's own blood, to free mankind from doubt.

We too would seek a refuge ; but to thee
We come in vain; for all thy help is gone.

Thy Cross is broken. Where God's blood should be.
Mere man's blood is that never can atone

For one man's sin. And where we hoped to see
A dream of Heaven, we find a dream of stone.



Thou master of this fourteen-stringed lyre,
Cunningest weaver of delicious song,
Whose stately measures even roll along,

Chilly without, but touched within with fire

Of stinging intellectual desire ;

Thou prince of those whose ecstasies belong
To thought, not feeling, thou whose golden

Made love's ideal soar a Heaven higher —

Petrarch, I thee invoke to aid my Muse;
Not like believers who w^ith vows adore.
And kneel, and kiss, and pass, and so forget;

But that the constant worship which I use
May grovv' in comprehension more and more.
Till thy high seal upon my song be set.


Thy tears are sweet, Dan Chaucer: Palemon,
And Arcite, and the gentle Emily,
And Constance, and Griselda, and most he
Who still so loud and clear kept singing on.
When they had cut his throat unto the bone,
Those cursed Jews, with all their knavery.
But sweeter far than even thy tears can be,
Is thy serene, bright laughter, harming none.
Welling forth ever in delicious ease.
Like dancing sunlight on the dancing seas.

Clear as the North wind, or a winter star.
What mirth, what revelry, what keen delight.
What jest by day and snatch of kiss by night,
What smile supreme at life's tumultuous war!



After the dreary night of blood and grief,
A crimson dawn of joy and splendor flowed
Out of the East, and touched the dark abode

Of stupid, low-browed priest and feudal thief.

All Europe woke and sighed with sweet relief,
Wondered and watched, while clear and clearer

Old loveliness, which neither storms corrode

Nor years can dim, though thick wath gross belief.

Then sudden poured the fount of beauty forth,
Gorgeous with color, rich with phrase and rhyme,
Packed close with human love and hate intense :
It purpled east, and west, and south, and north.

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