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Louise Chandler Moulton.

Swallow flights : New ed. of Poems, published in 1877, with ten additional poems online

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Swallow Flights.



NEW EDITION OF "POEMS," PUBLISHED IN
1877, WITH TEN ADDITIONAL POEMS.



BY



LOUISE CHANDLER MOULTON,

AUTHOR OF "IN THE GARDEN OF DREAMS," ETC



Short swallow-flights of song, that dip
Their wings in tears, and skim away.

Lord Tennyson.



iLontJon
MACMILLAN AND CO.

1895



University Press:
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A.



s



T\EAR eyes, that read these lines of mine
As you have read my heart,
Forgive, since you the one divine,
The others' 1 lack of art.







CONTENTS.



PAGE

Swallow-Flights n

May-Flowers 13

My Summer 15

Morning Glory 17

A Painted Fan 19

Long is the Way 21

Automne 22

Out in the Snow • 24

A Weed 26

A Quest 28

Some Day or Other 31

Through a Window 32

Waiting 34

Wife to Husband 36

After the Mountains 38

Alone by the Bay 40

Midsummer in New England 42



8 CONTENTS.

PAGE

At Etretat 44

The House of Death 46

" She was Won in an Idle Day " . * 49

A Life's Loss 51

The Singer 55

How Long ? 58

The Song of a Summer 60

If ... . 62

Fiat Justitia 64

At the Last 66

What she said in her Tomb 68

A Summer's Ghost 70

Lover and Friend hast Thou put far from me . . 72

Beauty for Ashes 74

To my Heart 76

Alien Waters 78

Looking Back 81

A Problem 83

At a Window 85

To a Lady in a Picture 87

My Captive 88

Roses '. 91

Down the River 93

Love's Land 95



CONTENTS. 9



PAGE



Her Window 96

A Madrigal 97

Question 99

i fain would go ioi

The Spring is Late • . . 103

Selfish Prayer 105

For me Alone 107

Ad Te Domine 109

If I could Keep Her so -.no

Annie's Daughter 113

Looking into the Well 116

Like a Child 120

A Song in the Wood 123

My Boy I25

trothplight „ j29

The House in the Meadow 132

From Dusk to Dawn 137

There , I4 o

Somebody's Child 142

A Woman's Waiting . 144

John A. Andrew 149

The Country of "If" . . . .' 151

For Cupid Dead . . . 152

We lay us down to Sleep 154



10



CONTENTS.



Sonnets:

PAGE

The New Day 159

One Uread . 160

Afar 161

Last Year 162

First Love 164

Love's Forgiveness 165

In Time to come . . . 166

A Summer's Growth ............ 167

My Birthday 168




S WALL O W-FLLGHTS.



T^ORTH from the wind-swept Country of my Heart,

Fly fast, swift wings !
For hence the summers and their suns depart, —
Here no bird sings.



With spring this country was all verdurous

When first you came ;
Lts leafage of sweet songs solicitous;

Lts skies aflame

With dreaming of the summer'' s warm delights ;

Streams sought the sea ;
White moons made beautiful the waiting nights ;

Your wings were free.



1 2 SWALLOW-FLIGHTS.

But here you nested through the smiling spring, —

Through summer, too ;
' Tis autumn now, and pleasant things take wing,

So why not you ?

Fly hence, and carry with you all my dreams,

My hopes, my fears ;
Shall I, while silling by Lif e' s frozen streams,

Weep idle tears ?

Fly hence, swift wings — / have been glad with you

In Life's glad spring ;
Heard summer songs, and thought their promise true ;

But now — take wing.

You are not doves, that you should bring back leaves

From whehning seas ;
Fly far, swift truants, from my silent eaves, —

Leave me but peace.



MA Y-FL O WERS. 1 3




MAY-FLOWERS.

f| F you catch a breath of sweetness,
And follow the odorous hint
Through woods where the dead leaves rustle
And the golden mosses glint,



Along the spicy sea-coast,

Over the desolate down,
You will find the dainty May-flowers

When you come to Plymouth town.

Where the shy Spring tends her darlings,
And hides them away from sight,

Pull off the covering leaf-sprays
And gather them, pink and white,



1 4 MA Y-FL O IVERS.

Tinted by mystical moonlight,
Freshened by frosty dew,

Till the fair, transparent blossoms
To their pure perfection grew.

Then carry them home to your lady,
For Flower of the Spring is she, —

Pink and white, and dainty and slight,
And lovely as Love can be.

Shall they die because of her beauty ?

Shall they live because she is sweet ?
They will know for what they were born,

But you — must wait at her feet.







MY SUMMER. 1 5




MY SUMMER.

O you think the summer will ever come,
With white of lily and flush of rose, —
With the warm, bright days of joy and June,
So long you dream they will never close ?



Will the birds, atilt on the bending boughs,
Sing out their hearts in a mad delight ;

And the golden butterflies, sun-suffused,
Shimmer and shine from morn till night ?

Do you think my summer will ever come,
With brow of lily and cheek of rose ?

Shall I hold her fast, — my Joy, my June, —
And dream that my day will never close ?



1 6 MY SUMMER.

Will she mock the birds on the bending boughs
(For her voice is music, — my heart's delight),

Or be content, like the butterflies,

In the sun of my love from morn till night ?




MORNING GLORY. 17




MORNING GLORY.

ARTH'S awake, 'neath the laughing skies,
After the dewy and dreamy night, —
Riot of roses and babel of birds,
All the world in a whirl of delight.



Roses smile in their white content,
Roses blush in their crimson bliss,

As the vagrant breezes wooing them
Ruffle their petals with careless kiss.

Yellow butterflies flutter and float

Jewelled humming-birds glitter and glow,

And scorning the ways of such !dle things
Bees flit busily to and fro.



1 8 MORN I AG GLORY.

The mocking-bird swells his anxious throat,

Trying to be ten birds in one ;
And the swallow twitters, and dives, and darts

Into the azure to find the sun.

But robin red-breast builds his house
Singing a song of the joy to come,

And the oriole trims his golden vest,
Glad to be back in his last year's home.

Lilies that sway on their slender stalks,
Morning-glories that nod to the breeze,

Bloom of blossoms and joy of birds, —
What in the world is better than these ?



&



■■/



A PAINTED FAN. 1 9




A PAINTED FAN.

OSES and butterflies snared on a fan,

All that is left of a summer gone by ;
Of swift, bright wings that flashed in the sun,
And loveliest blossoms that bloomed to die !



By what subtle spell did you lure them here,
Fixing a beauty that will not change ;

Roses whose petals never will fall,

Bright, swift wings that never will range ?

Had you owned but the skill to snare as well
The swift-winged hours that came and went,

To prison the words that in music died,
And fix with a spell the heart's content,



20 A PAINTED FAN.

Then had you been of magicians the chief ;

And loved and lovers should bless your art,
If you could but have painted the soul of the thing,-

Not the rose alone, but the rose's heart !

Flown are those days with their winged delights,
As the odor is gone from the summer rose ;

Yet still, whenever I wave my fan,

The soft, south wind of memory blows.




LOXG IS THE WAY.



21



LONG IS THE WAY.




ONG is the way, O Lord!
My steps are weak :
I listen for Thy word, —
When wilt Thou speak?



Must I still wander on
'Mid noise and strife ;

Or go as Thou hast gone,
From life to Life?




22 AUTOMNE.




AUTOMNE.

[For a Picture by Hamon.]

H, glad and free was Love until the fall ,
Then came a spirit on the frosty air
To chill with icy breath the summer's bloom,
And Love lies with the blossoms, blighted
there.

He throve so kindly all the summer-time, —
Not warmer was the rose's crimson heart ;

Dews fell to bless him, and the soft winds blew,
And gentle rains shed tears to ease his smart.

Through long June days and burning August noons,
The flowers and Love stole sweetness from the sun ;

Then summer went, — the days grew brief and cold,
The short sweet lives of summer things were done



AUTOMNE. 23



No butterfly flits through November's gloom,
No bird-note quivers on its frosty air, —

Sweet Love had wings, and would have flown away,
But Autumn chilled him with the blossoms there.




24



OUT IN THE SNOW.



OUT IN THE SNOW.




HE snow and the silence came down together,
Through the night so white and so still ;
And young folks, housed from the bitter
weather, —
Housed from the storm and the chill, —



Heard in their dreams the sleigh-bells jingle,
Coasted the hill-sides under the moon,

Felt their cheeks with the keen air tingle,
Skimmed the ice with their steel-clad shoon .



They saw the snow when they rose in the morning,
Glittering ghost of the vanished night,

Though the sun shone clear in the winter dawning.
And the day with a frosty pomp was bright.



OUT IN THE SNOW. 25

Out in the clear, cold, winter weather, —

Out in the winter air like wine, —
Kate with her dancing scarlet feather,

Bess with her peacock plumage fine,

Joe and Jack with their pealing laughter,
Frank and Tom with their gay hallo,

And half a score of roisterers after,
Out in the witching, wonderful snow.

Shivering graybeards shuffle and stumble,
Righting themselves with a frozen frown,

Grumbling at every snowy tumble ;

But young folks know why the snow came down.




26 A WEED.




A WEED.

OW shall a little weed grow,
That has no sun ?
Rains fall and north winds blow,
What shall be done ?

Out come some little pale leaves

At the spring's call,
But the harsh north winds blow,

And sad rains fall.

Would'st try to keep it warm

With fickle breath ?
He must, who would give life,

Be Lord of death.



A WEED. 2 J

Some day you forget the weed, —

Man's thoughts are brief, —
And your coldness steals like frost

Through each pale leaf,

Till the weed shrinks back to die

On kinder sod :
Shall a life which found no sun

In death find God ?




28 A QUEST.




A QUEST.

LL in the summer even,

When sea and sky were bright,
As royally the sunset

Went forth to meet the night,



My Love and I were sailing

Into the shining West,
To find some Happy Island,

Some Paradise of rest.

We steered where sunset splendor
Made golden all the shore ;

The rocks behind its brightness
Were cruel as before.



A QUEST. 29



Within the caves sang sirens ;

But there the whirlpools be :
Not there the Happy Islands,

Not there the peaceful sea.

Toward the deep mid-ocean

Tides ran and swift winds blew :

It must be there those Islands
Await the longing view.

Their shores are soft with verdure,
Their skies for ever fair,

And always is the fragrance
Of blossoms on the air.

I set our sail to seek them,
But she, my Love, drew back :

" Not yet ; the night is chilly,
I fear that unknown track."



30 A QUEST.

So home we sailed, at twilight,
To the familiar shore ;

Turned from the golden glory,
To live the old life o'er.

We '11 make no further ventures, —
For timid is my Love, —

Until fresh sailing orders
Are sent us from above.

Then past the deep mid-ocean
'Twixt life and life we '11 steer,

To land on happier islands

Than those we dreamed of here.



fi*$&S




SOME DAY OR OTHER. 3 1



SOME DAY OR OTHER.

OME day or other I shall surely come
Where true hearts wait for me ;
Then let me learn the language of that home
While here on earth I be,
Lest my poor lips for want of words be dumb
In that High Company.





THROUGH A WINDOW.




THROUGH A WINDOW.

LIE here at rest in my chamber,
And look through the window again,

With eyes that are changed since the old time,
And the sting of an exquisite pain.



'Tis not much that I see for a picture,
Through boughs that are green with the spring,

A barn with its roof gray and mossy,
And above it a bird on the wing ;

Or, lifting my head a thought higher,

Some hills and a village I know,
And over it all the blue heaven,

With a white cloud floating below.



THROUGH A WINDOW. 33

Ah ! once the roof was a prison,

My mind and the sky were free,
My thoughts with tne birds went flying,

And my hopes were a heaven to me.

Now I come from the limitless distance
Where I followed my youth's wild will,

Where they press the wine of delusion
That you drink and are thirsty still ;

And I know why the bird with the springtime
To the gnarled old tree comes back, —

He has tried the south and the summer,
He has felt what the sweet things lack.

4 O




34



WAITING.



WAITING.




'M waiting for my darling,
Here, sitting by the sea,

Whom never any ship that sails
Brings home again to me.



" Oh, sailor ! have you seen her ?

You 'd know her by her eyes, -
So blue they are, so tender,

So full of glad surprise."



"Yes, 1 have seen your darling :
A fair wind never fails

To waft the good ship unto
The shore for which she sails.



WAITING. 35

" King Death they call the Captain, —

His crew a spectral band, —
He steers with pennons flying

Toward a far-off land.

" No other ship goes thither,

And back across that main,
The passengers he carries

He never brings again."




36 WIFE TO HUSBAND.




WIFE TO HUSBAND.

F I am dust while thou art quick and glad,
Bethink thee, sometimes, what good cheer
we had, —
What happy days beside the shining seas,
Or by the twilight fire in careless ease,
Reading the rhymes of some old poet lover,
Or whispering our own love-story over.

When thou hast mourned for me a fitting space,

And set another in my vacant place,

Charmed with her brightness, trusting in her truth,

Warmed to new life by her beguiling youth,

Be happy, dearest one, and surely know

I would not have thee thy life's joys forego.



WIFE TO HUSBAND. . 37

Yet think of me sometimes, where cold and still
I lie, who once was swift to do thy will,
Whose lips so often answered to thy kiss,
Who dying blessed thee for that bygone bliss, —
I pray thee do not bar my presence, quite,
From thy new life, so full of new delight.

I would not vex thee, waiting by thy side;
My shadow should not chill thy fair young bride ;
Only bethink thee how alone I lie ! —
To die and be forgotten were to die
A double death ; and I deserve of thee
Some grace of memory, fair howe'er she be.




38 AFTER THE MOUNTAINS.



AFTER THE MOUNTAINS.
[To L. C. B.]



^H-r




N my dreams I see the hill-tops
^1 Where the cloudy pathways led,
You and I have trod together
In the days that now are dead.

Still I see their shining splendors •
Height on height before me rise,

And the radiance of their glory
Streams across my half-shut eyes.

In my dreams you are beside me, —
Still I hear your tender tone,

And your dear eyes light my darkness
Till I am no more alone,



AFTER THE MOUNTAINS. 39

For with memories I am haunted,

And the silence seems to beat
With the music of your talking

And the coming of your feet.




40



ALONE BY THE BAY.



ALONE BY THE BAY.




E is gone. my heart, he is gone ;
And the sea remains and the sky,
And the skiffs flit in and out,

And the white-winged yachts go by.



The waves run purple and green,
And the sunshine glints and glows,

And freshly across the Bay

The breath of the morning blows.

Ah, it was better last night,

When the dark shut down on the main,
And the phantom fleet lay still,

And I heard the waves complain ;



ALONE BY THE BAY. 4*

For the sadness that dwells in my heart,
And the rune of their endless woe, —

Their longing and void and despair, —
Kept time in their ebb and flow.




4 2 MIDSUMMER IN NEW ENGLAND.




MIDSUMMER IN NEW ENGLAND.

jlHE royalty of midsummer is here !

With daisy blooms the meadow lands are
white ;

And over them the birds chant their delight,
And the blue, listening heavens bend to hear.

Within the lily's painted cup the bee

Swings drowsily, and dreams about the rose
He loved in June, and how her leaves repose

Where none can find them save the winds and he.

The trees are heavy with their wealth of green ;
And under them the waiting maidens walk,
And fill the idle hours with girlish talk

Of such a knight as never girl has seen, —



MIDSUMMER IN NEW ENGLAND. 43

How he is noble, good, and princely tall;

And one day he will come from his far place,
And read the blushes in his true love's face,

And she will rise and follow at his call.

And then I see a little painted boat,

Its white sails set to seek the summer sea,
And in that boat two lovers, young and free,

With favoring winds, 'neath smiling skies afloat ;

And all the proud midsummer's glow is come,
And all the joy of flower and bird and bee,
And all the deeper joy when he and she,

Their hearts' midsummer found, with bliss are dumb.




44 AT ETRETAT.




AT ETRETAT.

HE ocean beats against the stern, dumb shore
The stormy passion of its mighty heart, —
The sky, where no stars shine, is black above,
And thou and I sit from the world apart.



We two, with lives no star of hope makes bright, —
Whom bliss forgets, and joy no longer mocks, —

Hark to the wind's wild cry, the sea's complaint,
And break with wind and sea against the rocks.

Sore-wounded, hurled on the dark shore of Fate,
We stretch out helpless hands, and cry in vain, —

Our joy went forth, white-sailed, at dawn of day ;
To-night is pitiless for all our pain.



AT ETRETAT.



45



We are not glad of any morn to come,

Since that winged joy we never more shall see, —
But in the passion of the winds and waves

Something there seems akin to thee and me.



*&



They call ! Shall we not go, out on that tide,

To touch, perchance, some shore where tempests
cease,

Where no wind blows, and storm-torn souls forget
Their past disasters in that utmost peace ?




46 THE HOUSE OF DEATH.




THE HOUSE OF DEATH.

OT a hand has lifted die latchet
Since she went out of the door, —
No footstep shall cross the threshold,
Since she can come in no more.



There is rust upon locks and hinges,
And mold and blight on the walls,

And silence faints in the chambers,
And darkness waits in the halls, —

Waits, as all things have waited,
Since she went, that day of spring,

Borne in her pallid splendor,

To dwell in the Court of the King :



THE HOUSE OF DEATH. A7

With lilies on brow and bosom,

With robes of silken sheen,
And her wonderful frozen beauty

The lilies and silk between.

Red roses she left behind her,

But they died long, long ago, —
'Twas the odorous ghost of a blossom

That seemed through the dusk to glow.

The garments she left mock the shadows

With hints of womanly grace,
And her image swims in the mirror

That was so used to her face.

The birds make insolent music
Where the sunshine riots outside ;

And the winds are merry and wanton,
With the Summer's pomp and pride.



48 THE HOUSE OF DEATH.

But into this desolate mansion,
Where Love has closed the door,

Nor sunshine nor summer shall enter,
Since she can come in no more.




%>




"SHE WAS WON IN AN IDLE DAY" 49




"SHE WAS WON IN AN IDLE DAY."

! HE was won in an idle day, —

Won when the roses were red in June,
And the world was set to a drowsy tune. —
Won by a lover who rode away.

Summer things basked in the summer sun ;

Through the roses a vagrant wind

Stole, their passionate hearts to find,
Found them, and kissed them, and then was gone.

Wooed by the June day's fervid breath,

Violets opened their violet eyes,

Gazed too long at the ardent skies,
And swooned with the dying day to death.



50 " SHE WAS WON IN AN IDLE DA V."

Nothing was earnest, and nothing was true, —
Winds were wanton, and flowers were frail ;
And the idle lover who told his tale,

Warmed by the June sun through and through,

Kissed her lips as the wind the rose, —
Kissed them for joy in the summer day, —
And then was ready to ride away

When over the night the moon arose.

The violets died with the day's last breath ;

The roses slept when the wind was low ;

What chanced to the butterflies, who can know?
"But she — oh, pity her — waits for death !




A LIFE'S LOSS. %l




A LIFE'S LOSS.

you remember the summer day

You found me down by the ruined mill ?
The skies were blue, and the waters bright,
And shadows glanced on the windy hill,
And the stream moaned on.



You sat by my side on the moss-grown log,
Where one whom I loved last night had stood,

I heard his voice, like an undertone,
While you talked to me in that solitude,
And the stream moaned on.

You did not tell me your heart was mine, —
You only said that my face was fair,

That silks and satins should robe mv form.
And jewels should flash among my hair,
And the stream moaned on.



52 A LIFE'S LOSS.

You went away with that careless air,

And smiled as you uttered your light good-by,

But the wind stole down from the frowning hi.l,
And stood at my side with a gasping sigh,
And the stream moaned on



You remember the pomp of our bridal morn, —
The jewels that mocked the bright sunshine,

The rustling silks, the ringing mirth,
The flush of roses, the flow of wine, —

While the crowd looked on.

I saw a presence they did not see, —

A guest whom they knew not of was there, — ■

Heart of my heart, he came to mock
My bridal vows with his pale despair,

And my soul moaned on.



A LIFE'S LOSS. 53

You won, that day, what you bargained for, —

My hair to braid your jewels in,
My form to deck with your silken robes,

My face to show to your haughty kin,

But my soul moaned on.



Talk not of love, — you have come too late !

You cannot dispel my heart's eclipse, —
Where your image should be the dead is shrined,

And no voice cries from the death-cold lips,
Though my soul moans on.

Some summer day I shall wander down

Where the waters flow by the ruined mill, —

Where the shadows come, and the shadows go,
There at the foot of the windy hill,

And the stream moans on.



54 A LIFE'S LOSS.

You will find me there, 'neath the whispering wave,
Colder and stiller than ever before, —

The dreams I dreamed and the hopes I hoped
Will be hushed to silence for evermore,

Though the stream moan on.




THE SINGER.



55



THE SINGER.




Of that dim, shaded room
I heard a singer sing.



She sang of life and death,
Of joys that end with breath,

And joys the end doth bring ;

Of passion's bitter pain,
And memory's tears like rain,

Which will not cease to flow ;

Of the deep grave's delights,
Where through long days and nights

They hear the green things grow,



56 THE SINGER.

Cool-rooted flowers, which come
So near to that still home,

Their ways the dead must know ;

And shivers in the grass,
When winds of summer pass,

And whisper, as they go,

Of the mad life above,

Where men like masquers move ;

Or are thev ghosts? — who knows?-

Sad ghosts who cannot die,
And watch slow years go by

Amid those painted shows.

Who knows ? For on her tongue
What never may be sung

Seemed trembling, and we wait



THE SINGER. 57

To catch the strain complete,
More full, but not more sweet,
Beyond the golden gate.




5 8 HOW LONG?




HOW LONG?

F on my grave the summer grass were growing,
Or heedless winter winds across it blowing,
Through joyous June or desolate December,
How long, Sweetheart, how long would you
remember,
How long, dear love, how long ?



For brightest eyes would open to the summer,
And sweetest smiles would greet the sweet new-comer,
And on young lips grow kisses for the taking
When all the summer buds to bloom are breaking, —
How long, dear love, how long ?

To that dim land where sad-eyed ghosts walk only,
Where lips are cold, and waiting hearts are lonely,



HO IV LONG?

I would not call you from your youth's warm blisses ;
Fill up your glass and crown it with new kisses, —
How long, dear love, how long ?

Too gay, in June, you might be to regret me,
And living lips might woo you to forget me ;
But, ah, Sweetheart, I think you would remember
When winds were weary in your life's December, —
So long, dear love, so long !



59



*



60 THE SONG OF A SUMMER.




THE SONG OF A SUMMER.

PLUCKED an apple from off a tree,
Golden and rosy and fair to see, —
The sunshine had fed it with warmth and light,
The dews had freshened it night by night,
And high on the topmost bough it grew,
Where the winds of Heaven about it blew ;
And while the mornings were soft and young
The wild birds circled, and soared, and sung, —
There, in the storm and calm and shine,
It ripened and brightened, this apple of mine,
Till the day I plucked it from off the tree,
Golden and rosy and fair to see.

How could I guess 'neath that daintiest rind
That the core of sweetness I hoped to find —



THE SONG OF A SUMMER. 6 1

The innermost, hidden heart of the bliss,


1 3 4

Online LibraryLouise Chandler MoultonSwallow flights : New ed. of Poems, published in 1877, with ten additional poems → online text (page 1 of 4)