Variations of an Air

Old King Cole
Was a merry old soul
And a merry old soul was he
He called for his pipe
and he called for his bowl
and he called for his fiddlers three


after Lord Tennyson


Cole, that unwearied prince of Colchester,
Growing more gay with age and with long days
Deeper in laughter and desire of life
As that Virginian climber on our walls
Flames scarlet with the fading of the year;
Called for his wassail and that other weed
Virginian also, from the western woods


Ursula

There is a village in a southern land,
By rounded hills closed in on every hand.
The streets slope steeply to the market-square,
Long lines of white-washed houses, clean and fair,
With roofs irregular, and steps of stone
Ascending to the front of every one.
The people swarthy, idle, full of mirth,
Live mostly by the tillage of the earth.

Upon the northern hill-top, looking down,
Like some sequestered saint upon the town,
Stands the great convent.

On a summer night,


Uriel

(In memory of William Vaughn Moody)

I

Uriel, you that in the ageless sun
Sit in the awful silences of light,
Singing of vision hid from human sight, --
Prometheus, beautiful rebellious one!
And you, Deucalion,
For whose blind seed was brought the illuming spark,
Are you not gathered, now his day is done,
Beside the brink of that relentless dark --
The dark where your dear singer's ghost is gone?

II

Imagined beings, who majestic blend


Upon The Pismire

Must we unto the pismire go to school,
To learn of her in summer to provide
For winter next ensuing. Man's a fool,
Or silly ants would not be made his guide.
But, sluggard, is it not a shame for thee
To be outdone by pismires? Pr'ythee hear:
Their works, too, will thy condemnation be
When at the judgment-seat thou shalt appear.
But since thy God doth bid thee to her go,
Obey, her ways consider, and be wise;
The piss-ant tell thee will what thou must do,
And set the way to life before thine eyes.


Up at a Villa--Down in the City

Had I but plenty of money, money enough and to spare,
The house for me, no doubt, were a house in the city-square;
Ah, such a life, such a life, as one leads at the window there!

Something to see, by Bacchus, something to hear, at least!
There, the whole day long, one's life is a perfect feast;
While up at a villa one lives, I maintain it, no more than a beast.

Well now, look at our villa! stuck like the horn of a bull
Just on a mountain-edge as bare as the creature's skull,


Unto one who lies at rest

Unto one who lies at rest
'Neath the sunset, in the West,
Clover-blossoms on her breast.

Lover of each gracious thing
Which makes glad the summer-tide,
From the daisies clustering
And the violets purple-eyed,
To those shy and hidden blooms
Which in forest coverts stay,
Sending wandering perfumes
Out as guide to show the way,
All she knew, to all was kind;
None so humble or so small
That she did not seek and find
Silent friendship from them all.
Moss-cups, tiarella leaves,


Untitled 1

I gladly would sing in a joyous strain,
But my heart of its joy is bereft;
For my young life there is nought but grief and pain,
And a haunting memory left.
Look at the stars how they gleam from the skies
On me with a frosty stare;
Can it be that this world hath no pitying eyes
For the houseless child of care?
Ye that look on me have homes tonight,
And loving ones wait you there;
And the cheerful fire is burning bright,
And young faces are beaming fair.
Though a thousand homes are around I know


Under the Harvest Moon

Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.

Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.


Underwater Autumn

Now the summer perch flips twice and glides
a lateral fathom at the first cold rain,
the surface near to silver from a frosty hill.
Along the weed and grain of log he slides his tail.

Nervously the trout (his stream-toned heart
locked in the lake, his poise and nerve disgraced)
above the stirring catfish, curves in bluegill dreams
and curves beyond the sudden thrust of bass.

Surface calm and calm act mask the detonating fear,
the moving crayfish claw, the stare
of sunfish hovering above the cloud-stained sand,


Uncle Ananias

His words were magic and his heart was true,
And everywhere he wandered he was blessed.
Out of all ancient men my childhood knew
I choose him and I mark him for the best.
Of all authoritative liars, too,
I crown him loveliest.

How fondly I remember the delight
That always glorified him in the spring;
The glorious profusion and the benedight
Profusion of his faith in everything!
He was a good old man, and it was right
That he should have his fling.

And often, underneath the apple trees,


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