A Dead Friend

IT hardly seems that he is dead,
So strange it is that we are here
Beneath this great blue shell of sky
With apple-bloom and pear:
It scarce seems true that we can note
The bursting rosebud’s edge of flame,
Or watch the blackbird’s swelling throat
While he is but a name.

No more the chaffinch at his step
Pipes suddenly her shrill surprise,
For in an ecstasy of sleep
Unconsciously he lies,
Not knowing that the sweet brown lark
From off her bosom’s feathery lace


A Day Like Any Other

Such insignificance: a glance
at your record on the doctor's desk
or a letter not meant for you.
How could you have known? It's not true
that your life passes before you
in rapid motion, but your watch
suddenly ticks like an amplified heart,
the hands freezing against a white
that is a judgment. Otherwise nothing.
The face in the mirror is still yours.
Two men pass on the sidewalk
and do not stare at your window.
Your room is silent, the plants
locked inside their mysterious lives


A Credo after the German

For the sole edification
Of this decent congregation,
Goodly people, by your grant
I will sing a holy chant --
I will sing a holy chant.
If the ditty sound but oddly,
'Twas a father, wise and godly,
Sang it so long ago --
Then sing as Martin Luther sang,
As Doctor Martin Luther sang:
"Who loves not wine, woman and song,
He is a fool his whole life long!"

He, by custom patriarchal,
Loved to see the beaker sparkle;
And he thought the wine improved,


A Confidant Without Knowing It Or The Stratagem

No master sage, nor orator I know,
Who can success, like gentle Cupid show;
His ways and arguments are pleasing smiles,
Engaging looks, soft tears, and winning wiles.
Wars in his empire will at times arise,
And, in the field, his standard meet the eyes;
Now stealing secretly, with skilful lure.
He penetrates to hearts supposed secure,
O'erleaps the ramparts that protect around,
And citadels reduces, most renowned.

I dare engage, two fortresses besiege
Leave one to Mars, and t'other to this liege.


A Cider Song

To J.S.M.

The wine they drink in Paradise
They make in Haute Lorraine;
God brought it burning from the sod
To be a sign and signal rod
That they that drink the blood of God
Shall never thirst again.

The wine they praise in Paradise
They make in Ponterey,
The purple wine of Paradise,
But we have better at the price;
It's wine they praise in Paradise,
It's cider that they pray.

The wine they want in Paradise
They find in Plodder's End,


A Christmas Eve

GOOD fellows are laughing and drinking
(To-night no heart should grieve),
But I am of old days thinking,
Alone, on Christmas Eve.
Old memories fast are springing
To life again; old rhymes
Once more in my brain are ringing—
Ah, God be with old times!
There never was man so lonely
But ghosts walked him beside,
For Death our spirits can only
By veils of sense divide.
Numberless as the blades of
Grass in the fields that grow,
Around us hover the shades of


A Child My Choice

Let folly praise that fancy loves, I praise and love that Child
Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word, whose hand no deed defiled.

I praise Him most, I love Him best, all praise and love is His;
While Him I love, in Him I live, and cannot live amiss.

Love's sweetest mark, laud's highest theme, man's most desired light,
To love Him life, to leave Him death, to live in Him delight.

He mine by gift, I His by debt, thus each to other due;
First friend He was, best friend He is, all times will try Him true.


A Celebration

A middle-northern March, now as always--
gusts from the South broken against cold winds--
but from under, as if a slow hand lifted a tide,
it moves--not into April--into a second March,

the old skin of wind-clear scales dropping
upon the mold: this is the shadow projects the tree
upward causing the sun to shine in his sphere.

So we will put on our pink felt hat--new last year!
--newer this by virtue of brown eyes turning back
the seasons--and let us walk to the orchid-house,


A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.


A Ballad of John Nicholson

It fell in the year of Mutiny,
At darkest of the night,
John Nicholson by Jalándhar came,
On his way to Delhi fight.

And as he by Jalándhar came,
He thought what he must do,
And he sent to the Rajah fair greeting,
To try if he were true.

"God grant your Highness length of days,
And friends when need shall be;
And I pray you send your Captains hither,
That they may speak with me."

On the morrow through Jalándhar town
The Captains rode in state;


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