From Living Waters Poem by Ina D. Coolbrith

From Living Waters

Commencement poem, written for the
University of California, June,1876.

“Into the balm of the clover,
Into the dawn and the dew,
Come, O my poet, my lover,
Single of spirit and true!

“ Sweeter the song of the throstle
Shall ring from its nest in the vine,
And the lark, my beloved apostle,
Shall chant thee a gospel divine.

“Ah! not to the dullard, the schemer,
I of my fullness may give,
But thou, whom the world calleth dreamer,
Drink of my fountains and live! ”

O, and golden in the sun did the river waters run,
O, and golden in its shinning all the mellow land-
scape lay;
And the poet’s simple rhyme blended softly with
the chime
Of the bells that rang the noontide, in the city,
far away.

And the gold and amethyst of the thin. Trans-
parent mist,
Lifted, drifted from the ocean to the far hori-
zon’s rim,
Where the white, transfigured ghost of some ves-
sel, long since lost,
Half in cloud and half in billow, trembled on
its utmost brim.

And I said, “Most beautiful, in the noontide
dream and lull,
Art thou, Nature, sweetest mother, in thy sum-
mer raiment drest;
Aye, in all thy moods and phases, lovingly I
name thy praises,
Yet through all my love and longing chafeth
still the old unrest.”

“Art thou a-worn and a-weary,
Sick with the doubts that perplex,
Come from thy wisdom most dreary,
Less fair than the faith which it wrecks.”

“Not in the tomes of the sages
Lieth the word to thy need;
Truer my blossomy pages,
Sweeter their lessons to read.”

“Aye, ” I said, “but con it duly, who may read
the lesson truly;
Who may grasp the mighty meaning, hidden
past our finding out?
From the weary search unsleeping, what is yielded
to our keeping?
All our knowledge, peradventure; all our wisdom
merely doubt!

“O my earth, to know thee fully! I that love
thee, singly, wholly!
In the beauty thou art veiled; in thy melody
art dumb.
Once, unto my perfect seeing give this mystery
of being;
Once, thy silence breaking, tell me, whither go
we? whence we come? ”

And I heard the rustling leaves, and the sheaves
against the sheaves
Clashing lightly, clashing brightly, as they rip-
ened in the sun;
And the gracious air astir with the insect hum
and whirr,
And the merry plash and ripple where the river
waters run:
Heard the anthem of the sea-that most mighty
Only these; yet something deeper than to own
my spirit willed.
Like a holy calm descending, with my inmost
being blending-
Like the “Peace” to troubled waters, that are
pacified and stilled.

And I said: “Ah, what are we? Children at the
Master’s knee-
Little higher than these grasses glancing upward
from the sods!
Just the few first pages turning in His mighty
book of learning-
We, mere atoms of beginning, that would wres-
tle with the gods! ”

“In the least one of my daisies
Deeper a meaning is set,
Than the seers ye crown with your praises,
Have wrung from the centuries yet.

“Leave them their doubt and derision;
Lo, to the knowledge I bring,
Clingeth no dimness of vision!
Come, O my chosen, my king!

“Out from the clouds that cover,
The night that would blind and betray,
Come, O my poet, my lover,
Into the golden day! ”

O, and deeper through the calm rolled the cease-
less ocean psalm;
O, and brighter in the sunshine all the meadows
stretched away;
And a little lark sang clear from the willow
branches near,
And the glory and the gladness closed about me
where I lay.

And I said: “Aye, verily, waiteth yet the mas-
ter key,
All these mysteries that shall open, though to
surer hand than mine;
All these doubts of our discerning, to the peace
of knowledge turning,
All our darkness, which is human, to the light,
Which is devine! ”

Ina D. Coolbrith

Ina D. Coolbrith

Nauvoo, Illinois (Josephine D. Smith)
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