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51 Works of Sidney Lanier

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Clover

Story type: Poetry

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Dear uplands, Chester’s favorable fields,My large unjealous Loves, many yet one —A grave good-morrow to your Graces, all,Fair tilth and fruitful seasons!Lo, how still!The midmorn empties you of men, save me;Speak to your lover, meadows! None can hear.I lie as lies yon placid Brandywine,Holding the hills and heavens in my heartFor contemplation.‘Tis a perfect hour.From […]

Ploughman, whose gnarly hand yet kindly wheeledThy plough to ring this solitary treeWith clover, whose round plat, reserved a-field,In cool green radius twice my length may be —Scanting the corn thy furrows else might yield,To pleasure August, bees, fair thoughts, and me,That here come oft together — daily I,Stretched prone in summer’s mortal ecstasy,Do stir […]

Out of the hills of Habersham,Down the valleys of Hall,I hurry amain to reach the plain,Run the rapid and leap the fall,Split at the rock and together again,Accept my bed, or narrow or wide,And flee from folly on every sideWith a lover’s pain to attain the plainFar from the hills of Habersham,Far from the valleys […]

From the Flats

Story type: Poetry

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What heartache — ne’er a hill!Inexorable, vapid, vague and chillThe drear sand-levels drain my spirit low.With one poor word they tell me all they know;Whereat their stupid tongues, to tease my pain,Do drawl it o’er again and o’er again.They hurt my heart with griefs I cannot name:Always the same, the same. Nature hath no surprise,No […]

Tampa Robins

Story type: Poetry

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The robin laughed in the orange-tree:“Ho, windy North, a fig for thee:While breasts are red and wings are boldAnd green trees wave us globes of gold,Time’s scythe shall reap but bliss for me— Sunlight, song, and the orange-tree. Burn, golden globes in leafy sky,My orange-planets: crimson IWill shine and shoot among the spheres(Blithe meteor that […]

The Crystal

Story type: Poetry

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At midnight, death’s and truth’s unlocking time,When far within the spirit’s hearing rollsThe great soft rumble of the course of things —A bulk of silence in a mask of sound, —When darkness clears our vision that by dayIs sun-blind, and the soul’s a ravening owlFor truth and flitteth here and there aboutLow-lying woody tracts of […]

It was three slim does and a ten-tined buck in the bracken lay;And all of a sudden the sinister smell of a man,Awaft on a wind-shift, wavered and ranDown the hill-side and sifted along through the bracken and passed that way. Then Nan got a-tremble at nostril; she was the daintiest doe;In the print of […]

To Bayard Taylor

Story type: Poetry

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To range, deep-wrapt, along a heavenly height,O’erseeing all that man but undersees;To loiter down lone alleys of delight,And hear the beating of the hearts of trees,And think the thoughts that lilies speak in whiteBy greenwood pools and pleasant passages; With healthy dreams a-dream in flesh and soul,To pace, in mighty meditations drawn,From out the forest […]

As Love will carve dear names upon a tree,Symbol of gravure on his heart to be, So thought I thine with loving text to setIn the growth and substance of my canzonet; But, writing it, my tears begin to fall —This wild-rose stem for thy large name’s too small! Nay, still my trembling hands are […]

Look where a three-point star shall weave his beamInto the slumb’rous tissue of some stream,Till his bright self o’er his bright copy seemFulfillment dropping on a come-true dream;So in this night of art thy soul doth showHer excellent double in the steadfast flowOf wishing love that through men’s hearts doth go:At once thou shin’st above […]

The Stirrup-Cup

Story type: Poetry

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Death, thou’rt a cordial old and rare:Look how compounded, with what care!Time got his wrinkles reaping theeSweet herbs from all antiquity. David to thy distillage went,Keats, and Gotama excellent,Omar Khayyam, and Chaucer bright,And Shakespeare for a king-delight. Then, Time, let not a drop be spilt:Hand me the cup whene’er thou wilt;‘Tis thy rich stirrup-cup to […]

Owl against Robin

Story type: Poetry

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Frowning, the owl in the oak complained himSore, that the song of the robin restrained himWrongly of slumber, rudely of rest.“From the north, from the east, from the south and the west,Woodland, wheat-field, corn-field, clover,Over and over and over and over,Five o’clock, ten o’clock, twelve, or seven,Nothing but robin-songs heard under heaven:How can we sleep? […]

Once, at night, in the manor woodMy Love and I long silent stood,Amazed that any heavens couldDecree to part us, bitterly repining.My Love, in aimless love and grief,Reached forth and drew aside a leafThat just above us played the thiefAnd stole our starlight that for us was shining. A star that had remarked her painShone […]

Sail fast, sail fast,Ark of my hopes, Ark of my dreams;Sweep lordly o’er the drowned Past,Fly glittering through the sun’s strange beams;Sail fast, sail fast.Breaths of new buds from off some drying leaWith news about the Future scent the sea:My brain is beating like the heart of Haste:I’ll loose me a bird upon this Present […]

Opposition

Story type: Poetry

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Of fret, of dark, of thorn, of chill,Complain no more; for these, O heart,Direct the random of the willAs rhymes direct the rage of art. The lute’s fixt fret, that runs athwartThe strain and purpose of the string,For governance and nice consortDoth bar his wilful wavering. The dark hath many dear avails;The dark distils divinest […]

Corn

Story type: Poetry

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To-day the woods are trembling through and throughWith shimmering forms, that flash before my view,Then melt in green as dawn-stars melt in blue.The leaves that wave against my cheek caressLike women’s hands; the embracing boughs expressA subtlety of mighty tenderness;The copse-depths into little noises start,That sound anon like beatings of a heart,Anon like talk ‘twixt […]

Rose-Morals

Story type: Poetry

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I. — Red. Would that my songs might beWhat roses make by day and night —Distillments of my clod of miseryInto delight. Soul, could’st thou bare thy breastAs yon red rose, and dare the day,All clean, and large, and calm with velvet rest?Say yea — say yea! Ah, dear my Rose, good-bye;The wind is up; […]

My Springs

Story type: Poetry

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In the heart of the Hills of Life, I knowTwo springs that with unbroken flowForever pour their lucent streamsInto my soul’s far Lake of Dreams. Not larger than two eyes, they lieBeneath the many-changing skyAnd mirror all of life and time,— Serene and dainty pantomime. Shot through with lights of stars and dawns,And shadowed sweet […]

In Absence

Story type: Poetry

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I. The storm that snapped our fate’s one ship in twainHath blown my half o’ the wreck from thine apart.O Love! O Love! across the gray-waved mainTo thee-ward strain my eyes, my arms, my heart.I ask my God if e’en in His sweet place,Where, by one waving of a wistful wing,My soul could straightway tremble […]

Laus Mariae

Story type: Poetry

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Across the brook of Time man leaping goesOn stepping-stones of epochs, that upriseFixed, memorable, midst broad shallow flowsOf neutrals, kill-times, sleeps, indifferencies.So twixt each morn and night rise salient heaps:Some cross with but a zigzag, jaded paceFrom meal to meal: some with convulsive leapsShake the green tussocks of malign disgrace:And some advance by system and […]

Acknowledgment

Story type: Poetry

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I. O Age that half believ’st thou half believ’st,Half doubt’st the substance of thine own half doubt,And, half perceiving that thou half perceiv’st,Stand’st at thy temple door, heart in, head out!Lo! while thy heart’s within, helping the choir,Without, thine eyes range up and down the time,Blinking at o’er-bright science, smit with desireTo see and not […]

Special Pleading

Story type: Poetry

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Time, hurry my Love to me:Haste, haste! Lov’st not good company?Here’s but a heart-break sandy waste‘Twixt Now and Then. Why, killing hasteWere best, dear Time, for thee, for thee! Oh, would that I might divineThy name beyond the zodiac signWherefrom our times-to-come descend.He called thee `Sometime’. Change it, friend:`Now-time’ sounds so much more fine! Sweet […]

Swift, through some trap mine eyes have never found,Dim-panelled in the painted scene of Sleep,Thou, giant Harlequin of Dreams, dost leapUpon my spirit’s stage. Then Sight and Sound,Then Space and Time, then Language, Mete and Bound,And all familiar Forms that firmly keepMan’s reason in the road, change faces, peepBetwixt the legs and mock the daily […]

Street Cries

Story type: Poetry

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Oft seems the Time a market-townWhere many merchant-spirits meetWho up and down and up and downCry out along the street Their needs, as wares; one THUS, one SO:Till all the ways are full of sound:— But still come rain, and sun, and snow,And still the world goes round.

Remonstrance

Story type: Poetry

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“Opinion, let me alone: I am not thine.Prim Creed, with categoric point, forbearTo feature me my Lord by rule and line.Thou canst not measure Mistress Nature’s hair,Not one sweet inch: nay, if thy sight is sharp,Would’st count the strings upon an angel’s harp?Forbear, forbear. “Oh let me love my Lord more fathom deepThan there is […]

The Ship of Earth

Story type: Poetry

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“Thou Ship of Earth, with Death, and Birth, and Life, and Sex aboard,And fires of Desires burning hotly in the hold,I fear thee, O! I fear thee, for I hear the tongue and swordAt battle on the deck, and the wild mutineers are bold! “The dewdrop morn may fall from off the petal of the […]

“To heal his heart of long-time painOne day Prince Love for to travel was fainWith Ministers Mind and Sense.`Now what to thee most strange may be?’Quoth Mind and Sense. `All things above,One curious thing I first would see —Hell,’ quoth Love. “Then Mind rode in and Sense rode out:They searched the ways of man about.First […]

Tyranny

Story type: Poetry

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“Spring-germs, spring-germs,I charge you by your life, go back to death.This glebe is sick, this wind is foul of breath.Stay: feed the worms. “Oh! every clodIs faint, and falters from the war of growthAnd crumbles in a dreary dust of sloth,Unploughed, untrod. “What need, what need,To hide with flowers the curse upon the hills,Or sanctify […]

Life and Song

Story type: Poetry

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“If life were caught by a clarionet,And a wild heart, throbbing in the reed,Should thrill its joy and trill its fret,And utter its heart in every deed, “Then would this breathing clarionetType what the poet fain would be;For none o’ the singers ever yetHas wholly lived his minstrelsy, “Or clearly sung his true, true thought,Or […]

To Richard Wagner

Story type: Poetry

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“I saw a sky of stars that rolled in grime.All glory twinkled through some sweat of fight,From each tall chimney of the roaring timeThat shot his fire far up the sooty nightMixt fuels — Labor’s Right and Labor’s Crime —Sent upward throb on throb of scarlet lightTill huge hot blushes in the heavens blentWith golden […]

A Song of Love

Story type: Poetry

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[1] “Hey, rose, just bornTwin to a thorn;Was’t so with you, O Love and Scorn? “Sweet eyes that smiled,Now wet and wild;O Eye and Tear — mother and child. “Well: Love and PainBe kinsfolk twain:Yet would, Oh would I could love again.” Note 1: ‘A Song of Love’, like ‘Betrayal’, belongs to the early plan […]

To Beethoven

Story type: Poetry

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In o’er-strict calyx lingering,Lay music’s bud too long unblown,Till thou, Beethoven, breathed the spring:Then bloomed the perfect rose of tone. O Psalmist of the weak, the strong,O Troubadour of love and strife,Co-Litanist of right and wrong,Sole Hymner of the whole of life, I know not how, I care not why, —Thy music sets my world […]

Als du im Saal mit deiner himmlischen KunstBeethoven zeigst, und seinem Willen nachMit den zehn Fingern fuehrst der Leute Gunst,Zehn Zungen sagen was der Meister sprach.Schauend dich an, ich seh’, dass nicht alleinDu sitzest: jetzt herab die Toene ziehnBeethovens Geist: er steht bei dir, ganz rein:Fuer dich mit Vaters Stolz sein’ Augen gluehn:Er sagt, “Ich […]

[1] Oft as I hear thee, wrapt in heavenly art,The massive message of Beethoven tellWith thy ten fingers to the people’s heartAs if ten tongues told news of heaven and hell, —Gazing on thee, I mark that not alone,Ah, not alone, thou sittest: there, by thee,Beethoven’s self, dear living lord of tone,Doth stand and smile […]

[1]Died of a cat, May, 1878. I. Trillets of humor, — shrewdest whistle-wit, —Contralto cadences of grave desireSuch as from off the passionate Indian pyreDrift down through sandal-odored flames that splitAbout the slim young widow who doth sitAnd sing above, — midnights of tone entire, —Tissues of moonlight shot with songs of fire; —Bright drops […]

The storm hath blown thee a lover, sweet,And laid him kneeling at thy feet.But, — guerdon rich for favor rare!The wind hath all thy holy hairTo kiss and to sing through and to flareLike torch-flames in the passionate air,About thee, O Miranda. Eyes in a blaze, eyes in a daze,Bold with love, cold with amaze,Chaste-thrilling […]

I asked my heart to saySome word whose worth my love’s devoir might payUpon my Lady’s natal day. Then said my heart to me:`Learn from the rhyme that now shall come to theeWhat fits thy Love most lovingly.’ This gift that learning shows;For, as a rhyme unto its rhyme-twin goes,I send a rose unto a […]

Read on the Fourth Commemoration Day, February, 1880. How tall among her sisters, and how fair, —How grave beyond her youth, yet debonairAs dawn, ‘mid wrinkled Matres of old landsOur youngest Alma Mater modest stands!In four brief cycles round the punctual sunHas she, old Learning’s latest daughter, wonThis grace, this stature, and this fruitful fame.Howbeit […]

Presenting a portrait-bust of the author. Since you, rare friend! have tied my living tongueWith thanks more large than man e’er said or sung,So let the dumbness of this image beMy eloquence, and still interpret me. ___Baltimore, 1880.

Martha Washington

Story type: Poetry

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Written for the “Martha Washington Court Journal”. Down cold snow-stretches of our bitter time,When windy shams and the rain-mocking sleetOf Trade have cased us in such icy rimeThat hearts are scarcely hot enough to beat,Thy fame, O Lady of the lofty eyes,Doth fall along the age, like as a laneOf Spring, in whose most generous […]

Psalm of the West

Story type: Poetry

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Land of the willful gospel, thou worst and thou best;Tall Adam of lands, new-made of the dust of the West;Thou wroughtest alone in the Garden of God, unblestTill He fashioned lithe Freedom to lie for thine Eve on thy breast —Till out of thy heart’s dear neighborhood, out of thy side,He fashioned an intimate Sweet […]

My crippled sense fares bow’d alongHis uncompanioned way,And wronged by death pays life with wrongAnd I wake by night and dream by day. And the Morning seems but fatigued NightThat hath wept his visage pale,And the healthy mark ‘twixt dark and lightIn sickly sameness out doth fail. And the woods stare strange, and the wind […]

[1] Into the woods my Master went,Clean forspent, forspent.Into the woods my Master came,Forspent with love and shame.But the olives they were not blind to Him,The little gray leaves were kind to Him:The thorn-tree had a mind to HimWhen into the woods He came. Out of the woods my Master went,And He was well content.Out […]

A Florida Sunday

Story type: Poetry

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From cold Norse caves or buccaneer Southern seasOft come repenting tempests here to die;Bewailing old-time wrecks and robberies,They shrive to priestly pines with many a sigh,Breathe salutary balms through lank-lock’d hairOf sick men’s heads, and soon — this world outworn —Sink into saintly heavens of stirless air,Clean from confessional. One died, this morn,And willed the […]

[1] If spicy-fringed pinks that blush and paleWith passions of perfume, — if violets blueThat hint of heaven with odor more than hue, —If perfect roses, each a holy GrailWherefrom the blood of beauty doth exhaleGrave raptures round, — if leaves of green as newAs those fresh chaplets wove in dawn and dewBy Emily when […]

Fine-tissued as her finger-tips, and whiteAs all her thoughts; in shape like shields of prize,As if before young Violet’s dreaming eyesStill blazed the two great Theban bucklers brightThat swayed the random of that furious fightWhere Palamon and Arcite made assizeFor Emily; fresh, crisp as her replies,That, not with sting, but pith, do oft inviteMore trial […]

[1] Trim set in ancient sward, his manful boleUpbore his frontage largely toward the sky.We could not dream but that he had a soul:What virtue breathed from out his bravery! We gazed o’erhead: far down our deepening eyesRained glamours from his green midsummer mass.The worth and sum of all his centuriesSuffused his mighty shadow on […]

An Evening Song

Story type: Poetry

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Look off, dear Love, across the sallow sands,And mark yon meeting of the sun and sea,How long they kiss in sight of all the lands.Ah! longer, longer, we. Now in the sea’s red vintage melts the sun,As Egypt’s pearl dissolved in rosy wine,And Cleopatra night drinks all. ‘Tis done,Love, lay thine hand in mine. Come […]

A Sunrise Song

Story type: Poetry

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Young palmer sun, that to these shining sandsPourest thy pilgrim’s tale, discoursing stillThy silver passages of sacred lands,With news of Sepulchre and Dolorous Hill, Canst thou be he that, yester-sunset warm,Purple with Paynim rage and wrack desire,Dashed ravening out of a dusty lair of Storm,Harried the west, and set the world on fire? Hast thou […]

On a Palmetto

Story type: Poetry

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Through all that year-scarred agony of height,Unblest of bough or bloom, to where expandsHis wandy circlet with his bladed bandsDividing every wind, or loud or light,To termless hymns of love and old despite,Yon tall palmetto in the twilight stands,Bare Dante of these purgatorial sandsThat glimmer marginal to the monstrous night.Comes him a Southwind from the […]

Struggle

Story type: Poetry

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My soul is like the oar that momently Dies in a desperate stress beneath the wave, Then glitters out again and sweeps the sea: Each second I’m new-born from some new grave