Ina Coolbrith
Nauvoo, Illinois


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O foolish wisdom sought in books!
O aimless fret of household tasks!
O chains that bind the hand and mind—
A fuller life my spirit asks!
On Hearing Kelley's Music to ‘Macbeth'
O melody, what children strange are these
From thy most vast, illimitable realm?
These sounds that seize upon and overwhelm
The soul with shuddering ecstasy! Lo! here
The night is, and the deeds that make night fear;
Wild winds and waters, and the sough of trees
Tossed in the tempest; wail of spirits banned,
Wandering, unhoused of clay, in the dim land;
The incantation of the Sisters Three,
Nameless of deed and name - the mystic chords
Weird repetitions of the mystic words;
The mad, remorseful terrors of the Thane,
And bloody hands - which bloody must remain.
Last, the wild march; the battle hand to hand
Of clashing arms, in awful harmony,
Sublimely grand, and terrible as grand!
The clan-cries; the barbaric trumpetry;
And the one fateful note, that, throughout all,
Leads, follows, calls, compels, and holds in thrall.
Not Yet
NOT yet from the yellow west,
Fade, light of the autumn day
Far lies my haven of rest,
And rough the way.
She has waited long, my own!
And the night is dark and drear
To meet alone.

Not yet, with the leaves that fall,
Fall, rose of the wayside thorn,
Fair and most sweet of all
The summer-born.
But O, for my rose that stands,
And waits, through the lessening year,
My gathering hands!

Fail not, O my life, so fast —
Fail not till we shall have met:
Soon, soon will thy pulse be past,
But oh, not yet! —
Till her fond eyes on me shine,
And the heart so dear, so dear,
Beats close to mine.
No lurking shadows here appear;
The weaving spider comes not here;
Here, if the solemn Owl doth sit,
‘Tis but above the tapers lit,
To blink at wisdom's shinning wit.
The skies are blue, the winds are fair,
Nor place nor space for tyrant care
Within the bounds, Bohemia.

Lo! gold is much, but ‘tis not all-
Too oft a lure the soul to thrall;
The subtle brain, the skilled hand,
Of melody the magic wand,
The silent songs the poets sing,
Which through the world take voice and wing,
The sparkling jest, the laughing lip,
The royal, genial fellowship-
Of these thy wealth, Bohemia.

O children of the Cloudless Clime!
Where'er the changing sands of time
Have borne ye, lo! from one and all
The voices answer, voices call!
From Seen, and from the Unseen Land,
Where, unforgot, dear comrades stand,
Lift loyal heart and loyal hand,
With love of thee, Bohemia.
How Looked The Earth?
HOW looked the earth unto His eyes,
So lately closed OH Paradise?
Clad all in purity
Of snowy raiment, as a bride
That waiteth for her lord to see —
That waiteth in her love and pride?

Was the snow white on fields and rocks,
Whereon the shepherds watched their flocks
In the mid-winter night?
And saw the angel, clothed in white,
The heavenly gates that opened wide,
In midst whereof was One

They dared not gaze upon!
Snow hither, thither, and afar,
Beneath the new, mysterious star?
Snow upon Lebanon,
Whose cedars stood, a crystal net
Of frost-work, beautiful to see?
Snow upon Olivet —
Snow upon awful Calvary?

Found He it fair to look upon,
Beneath the wooing of the sun?
The turf whereon He trod,
Did he not bend His glance to greet?
The daisy glancing from the sod,
The lily slim and tall;
The ferny banks of sheltered nooks,
The singing voice within the brooks,

Each slender blade of grass that sprang,
The tender shade of- leafy ways,
Each little bird that sang
Its wee heart out in praise —
I think He found them sweet,
He knew and loved them all.
Bret Harte
What wizardry is this? What necromance?
These forest-aisles, these mountains grim and vast?
These shadowy forms and faces that advance
From out of the misty past?

The old familiar faces, how they crowd!
Like ghosts returning from the farther shore!
These Beings without Being, yet endowed
With life for evermore.

Each in my own life-weft has woven part,
Whether or grave or gay; unkempt or shorn;
This one, ‘The Luck' they call him, stole my heart
The day that he was born.

With these I sat beside the camp-fire's glow
And heard, through untaught lips, old Homer tell
The Tale of Troy, till with the falling snow
God's last white silence fell.

I knew the cabin in the lone ravine
Where she, the Fallen, far from mart and men,
Watched by the stricken and, unknown, made clean
Her garment's hem again.

And these, the Partners in world-storm and stress,
With faithful love, unknowing selfish aim;
The friendship pure that grew not cold nor less
Through good or evil fame.

These, too (I loved them!) , reckless, debonair,
That life and fortune staked upon a cast;
The soul itself held lightly as the air,
To win or lose at last.

I tracked the mountain trail with them; the sweet
Cool smell of pines I breathed beneath the stars;
The laugh, the song I heard; the rhythmic feet
To tinkle of guitars.

I knew the Mission's fragrant garden-close,
Heavy with blooms the wind might scarcely stir,
Its little laughing maid-Castilian rose! -
And saucy speech of her.

I knew them all-but best of all I knew
(Who in himself had something of all these)
The Man, within whose teeming fancy grew
These wondrous histories.

I see him often, with the brown hair half
Tossed from the leaning brow, the soft yet keen
Gray eyes uplifted with a tear or laugh
From the pen-pictured scene.

And hear the voice that read to me his dear
World-children-and I listen till I seem
Back in the olden days; they are the near
And these are but a dream.

O Prince of Song and Story! Thee we claim,
The first and dearest, still our very own!
We will not yield the glory of thy name
Nor share thy laureled throne!

Altho beneath a gray and alien sky,
Across long leagues of land and leagues of wave,
We may not reach thy dust with tear and sigh,
Nor deck thy lonely grave.
No More
NAY, then, what can be done
When love is flown,
When love has passed away?
Sit in the twilight gray,
Thinking how near he was,
Thinking how dear he was,
That is no more, to-day!

How can the day be fair
Love may not share?
How day go by,
Hearing no fond words said,
With no dear kisses shed—
O, how can love be dead,
And yet not I!
An Atom, formless, in the void of space,
Wherein but the One presence, All in All,
That drew me, drew me, until like a cry,
Was felt at last the pulse of my desire-
‘Life! Life! O Thou that Art, give to me to be! '
Eon on eon, change evolving change,
Time, time almost that seemed eternity,
And then the Being I! the answered prayer!

The happier, wiser, greater, now than then-
Sensate to stand upon one grain of sand
Of this small sparkle of the Universe-
Keen to its measureless immensity,
With all the questionings unsatisfied?
Of what avail? An Atom, still, in space,
Wherein the Light obscurer grows, recedes-
That may not see, nor reach, nor understand.
Ah! did the Source, all-merciful, foresee,
And add to Life the greater boon Return,
And end of all?
Or is it end of all?
A Song Of The Summer Wind
BALMILY, balmily, summer wind,
Sigh through the mountain passes;
Over the sleep of the beautiful deep,
Over the woods' green masses —
Ripple the grain of valley and plain,
And the reeds and the river grasses.

How many songs, O summer wind,
How many songs you know
Of fair, sweet things in your wanderings,
As over the earth you go,
To the Norland bare and bleak, from where
The red south roses blow.

Where the red south blossoms blow, O wind,
(Sing low to me, low and stilly!)
And the golden green of the citrons lean
To the white of the saintly lily;
Where the sun-rays drowse in the orange boughs.
(Sing, sing, for the heart grows chilly!)
And the belted bee hangs heavily
In rose and daffodilly.

I know a song, O summer wind,
A song of a willow-tree:
Soft as the sweep of its fringes deep
In languorous swoons of tropic noons,
But sad as sad can be!
Yet I would you might sing it, summer wind,
I would you might sing it me.

(O tremulous, musical murmur of leaves!
O mystical melancholy
Of waves, that call from the far sea-wall! —
Shall I render your meaning wholly,
Ere the day shall wane to the night again,
And the stars come, slowly, slowly?)

I would you might sing me, summer wind,
A song of a little chamber:
Sing soft, sing low, how the roses grow,
And the starry jasmines clamber;
Through the emerald rifts how the moonlight drifts,
And the sunlight's mellow amber.

Sing of a hand in the fluttering leaves,
Like a wee white bird in its nest:
Of a white hand twined in the leaves to find
A bloom for the fair young breast;
Sing of my love, my little love,
My snow-white dove in her nest,
As she looks through the fragrant jasmine leaves
Into the wasting west.

Tenderly, tenderly, summer wind,
With murmurous word-caresses,
O, wind of the south, to her beautiful mouth
Did you cling with your balmy kisses?
Flutter and float o'er the white, white throat,
And ripple the golden tresses?

'The long year groweth from green to gold,'
Saith the song of the willow-tree:
'My tresses cover, my roots enfold,'
O, summer wind, sing it me!
Lorn and dreary, sad and weary,
As lovers that parted be —
But sweet as the grace of a fair young face
I never again may see!
Be Happy, Happy, Little Maid
Be happy, happy, little maid,
Under the rose in blossom!
Whitely flutter its petals down
Over the whiter bosom.

Beauty and sunshine thine today
With never thought of sorrow...
As glad a day, as fair a sky,
Be thine upon the morrow!

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