Words of Consolation
Though bleak these woods and damp the ground
With fallen leaves so thickly strewn,
And cold the wind that wanders round
With wild and melancholy moan,
There is a friendly roof I know
Might shield me from the wintry blast;
There is a fire whose ruddy glow
Will cheer me for my wanderings past.
And so, though still where'er I roam
Cold stranger glances meet my eye,
Though when my spirit sinks in woe
Unheeded swells the unbidden sigh,
Though solitude endured too long
Bids youthful joys too soon decay,
Makes mirth a stranger to my tongue
And overclouds my noon of day,
When kindly thoughts that would have way
Flow back discouraged to my breast
I know there is, though far away
A home where heart and soul may rest.
Warm hands are there that clasped in mine
The warmer heart will not belie,
While mirth and truth and friendship shine
In smiling lip and earnest eye.
The ice that gathers round my heart
May there be thawed; and sweetly then
The joys of youth that now depart
Will come to cheer my soul again.
Though far I roam, this thought shall be
My hope, my comfort everywhere;
While such a home remains to me
My heart shall never know despair.
Mist clogs the sunshine.
Smoky dwarf houses
Hem me round everywhere;
A vague dejection
Weighs down my soul.
Yet, while I languish,
Prospects unroll themselves,
And countless beings
Pass countless moods.
Far hence, in Asia,
On the smooth convent-roofs,
On the gilt terraces,
Of holy Lassa,
Bright shines the sun.
Grey time-worn marbles
Hold the pure Muses;
In their cool gallery,
By yellow Tiber,
They still look fair.
Strange unloved uproar
Shrills round their portal;
Yet not on Helicon
Kept they more cloudless
Their noble calm.
Through sun-proof alleys
In a lone, sand-hemmed
City of Africa,
A blind, led beggar,
Age-bowed, asks alms.
No bolder robber
Erst abode ambushed
Deep in the sandy waste;
No clearer eyesight
Spied prey afar.
Seared his keen eyeballs;
Spent is the spoil he won.
For him the present
Holds only pain.
Two young fair lovers,
Where the warm June-wind,
Fresh from the summer fields,
Plays fondly round them,
Stand, tranced in joy.
With sweet joined voices,
And with eyes brimming:
"Ah," they cry "Destiny,
Prolong the present!
Time, stand still here!"
The prompt stern Goddess
Shakes her head, frowning;
Time gives his hour-glass
Its due reversal;
Their hour is gone.
With weak indulgence
Did the just Goddess
Lengthen their happiness,
She lengthened also
The hour, whose happy
I would eternalize,
Ten thousand mourners
Well pleased see end.
The bleak stern hour,
Whose severe moments
I would annihilate,
Is passed by others
In warmth, light, joy.
Time, so complained of,
Who to no one man
Brings round to all men
Some undimmed hours.
How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hilltowns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.
There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous
domes and there is no need to memorize a succession
of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon's
little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.
How much better to command the simple precinct of home
than be dwarfed by pillar, arch, and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps?
Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyes camera
eager to eat the world one monument at a time?
Instead of slouching in a café ignorant of the word for ice,
I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress
known as Dot. I will slide into the flow of the morning
paper, all language barriers down,
rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.
And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone
willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in a journal
what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car
as if it were the great car of English itself
and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off
down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.
See, Phoebus breaking from the willing skies,
See, how the soaring Lark, does with him rise,
And through the air, is such a journy borne
As if she never thought of a return.
Now, to his noon, behold him proudly goe,
And look with scorn, on all that's great below.
A Monark he, and ruler of the day,
A fav'rite She, that in his beams does play.
Glorious, and high, but shall they ever bee,
Glorious, and high, and fixt where now we see?
No, both must fall, nor can their stations keep,
She to the Earth, and he below the Deep,
At night both fall, but the swift hand of time
Renews the morning, and again they climb,
Then lett no cloudy change, create my sorrow,
I'll think 'tis night, and I may rise to-morrow.
O but there is wisdom
In what the sages said;
But stretch that body for a while
And lay down that head
Till I have told the sages
Where man is comforted.
How could passion run so deep
Had I never thought
That the crime of being born
Blackens all our lot?
But where the crime's committed
The crime can be forgot.