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A collection of short poems and sonnets by James Russell Lowell

Below you'll find a variety of shorter poems and sonnets by James Russell Lowell. This assortment includes:
"Anne," "Caroline," "Disappointment," "Edith," "The Fatherland," "For this true nobleness," "Forgetfulness," "A gentleness that grows," "Great Human Nature," "Green Mountains," "I fain would give to thee," "I Saw a Gate," "I would not have this perfect love," "Light of Mine Eyes," "The Lost Child," "Love Song," "Love's Altar," "Mary," "Might I but be beloved," "The Moon," "Much I had mused of Love," "My Friend, Adown Life's Valley," "No More But So?" "O Child of Nature," "On Reading Spenser Again," "Poet, who sittest in thy pleasant room," "Reading," "Rose," "Sayest thou, most beautiful," "Serenade," "Silent as one who treads," "So May It Be," "Something Natural," "Song," "A Song: Violet! Sweet violet!" "Sonnet: To a Friend," "The soul would fain," "To----," "To a Voice Heard In Mount Auburn," "To---, After a Snow-Storm," "To the Dark, Narrow House," "To the Evening Star," "Verse Cannot Say," "When the Glad Soul," "Why should we ever weary," and others.

To see all available titles by other authors, drop by our index of free books alphabetized by author or arranged alphabetically by title.


Visit these other works by James Russell Lowell
"Bellerophon"
"The Bobolink"
The Chief Mate
"The Courtin'"
"The Departed"
"A Dirge"
"Farewell"
"Flowers"
"A Glance Behind the Curtain"
"Ianthe"
"An Incident of the Fire at Hamburg"

"Irene"
"Music"
"New Year's Eve, 1844"
"On the Death of a Friend's Child"
"The Pious Editor's Creed"
"The Present Crisis"
"Rosaline"
"The Sirens"
"Threnodia"
"To The Future"


Potential uses for the free books, stories and prose we offer
* Rediscovering an old favorite book, short story or poem.
* Bibliophiles expanding their collection of public domain ebooks at no cost.
* Teachers trying to locate a free online copy of a short story or poem for use in the classroom.


NOTE: We try to present these classic literary works as they originally appeared in print. As such, they sometimes contain adult themes, offensive language, typographical errors, and often utilize unconventional, older, obsolete or intentionally incorrect spelling and/or punctuation conventions.

"Anne" by James Russell Lowell

ANNE

by James Russell Lowell

There is a pensiveness in quiet Anne,
A mournful drooping of the full gray eye,
As if she had shook hands with misery,
And known some care since her short life began;
Her cheek is seriously pale, nigh wan,
And, though of cheerfulness there is no lack,
You feel as if she must be dressed in black;
Yet is she not of those who, all they can,
Strive to be gay, and striving, seem most sad--
Hers is not grief, but silent soberness;
You would be startled if you saw her glad,
And startled if you saw her weep, no less;
She walks through life, as, on the Sabbath day,
She decorously glides to church to pray.


"Caroline" by James Russell Lowell

CAROLINE

by James Russell Lowell

A staidness sobers o'er her pretty face,
Which something but ill-hidden in her eyes,
And a quaint look about her lips denies;
A lingering love of girlhood you can trace
In her checked laugh and half-restrained pace;
And, when she bears herself most womanly,
It seems as if a watchful mother's eye
Kept down with sobering glance her childish grace:
Yet oftentimes her nature gushes free
As water long held back by little hands,
Within a pump, and let forth suddenly,
Until, her task remembering, she stands
A moment silent, smiling doubtfully,
Then laughs aloud and scorns her hated bands.


"Disappointment" by James Russell Lowell

DISAPPOINTMENT

by James Russell Lowell

I pray thee call not this society;
I asked for bread, thou givest me a stone;
I am an hungered, and I find not one
To give me meat, to joy or grieve with me;
I find not here what I went out to see--
Souls of true men, of women who can move
The deeper, better part of us to love,
Souls that can hold with mine communion free.
Alas! must then these hopes, these longings high,
This yearning of the soul for brotherhood,
And all that makes us pure, and wise, and good,
Come broken-hearted, home again to die?
No, Hope is left, and prays with bended head.
"Give us this day, O God, our daily bread!"


"Edith" by James Russell Lowell

EDITH

by James Russell Lowell

A Lily with its frail cup filled with dew,
Down-bending modestly, snow-white and pale,
Shedding faint fragrance round its native vale,
Minds me of thee, sweet Edith, mild and true,
And of thy eyes so innocent and blue,
Thy heart is fearful as a startled hare,
Yet hath in it a fortitude to bear
For Love's sake, and a gentle faith which grew
Of Love: need of a stay whereon to lean,
Felt in thyself, hath taught thee to uphold
And comfort others, and to give, unseen,
The kindness thy still love cannot withhold:
Maiden, I would my sister thou hadst been,
That round thee I my guarding arms might fold.


"The Fatherland" by James Russell Lowell

THE FATHERLAND

by James Russell Lowell

Where is the true man's fatherland?
Is it where he by chance is born?
Doth not the free-winged spirit scorn
In such pent borders to be spanned?
Oh yes, his fatherland must be
As the blue heavens wide and free!

Is it alone where freedom is,
Where God is God and man is man?
Doth he not claim a broader span
For the soul's love of home than this?
Oh yes! his fatherland must be
As the blue heavens wide and free!

Where'er a human heart doth wear
Joy's myrtle wreath, or sorrow's gyves,
Where'er a human spirit strives
After a life more pure and fair,
There is the true man's birthplace grand!
His is a world-wide fatherland!

Where'er a single slave doth pine,
Where'er one man may help another--
Thank God for such a birthright, brother,--
That spot of earth is thine and mine;
There is the true man's birthplace grand!
His is a world-wide fatherland!


"For this true nobleness" by James Russell Lowell

FOR THIS TRUE NOBLENESS

by James Russell Lowell

"For this true nobleness I seek in vain,
In woman and in man I find it not,
I almost weary of my earthly lot,
My life-springs are dried up with burning pain."--
Thou find'st it not? I pray thee look again,
Look inward through the depths of thine own soul;
How is it with thee? Art thou sound and whole?
Doth narrow search show thee no earthly stain?
Be NOBLE! and the nobleness that lies
In other men, sleeping but never dead,
Will rise in majesty to meet thine own;
Then wilt thou see it gleam in many eyes,
Then will pure light around thy path be shed,
And thou wilt nevermore be sad and lone.


"Forgetfulness" by James Russell Lowell

FORGETFULNESS

by James Russell Lowell

There's a haven of sure rest
From the loud world's bewildering stress:
As a bird dreaming on her nest,
As dew hid in a rose's breast,
As Hesper in the glowing West;
So the heart sleeps
In thy calm deeps,
Serene Forgetfulness!

No sorrow in that place may be,
The noise of life grows less and less:
As moss far down within the sea,
As, in white lily caves, a bee,
As life in a hazy reverie;
So the heart's wave
In thy dim cave,
Hushes, Forgetfulness!

Duty and care fade far away,
What toil may be we cannot guess:
As a ship anchored in the bay,
As a cloud at summer-noon astray,
As water-blooms in a breezeless day;
So, 'neath thine eyes,
The full heart lies,
And dreams, Forgetfulness!


"A gentleness that grows"

A GENTLENESS THAT GROWS

by James Russell Lowell

A gentleness that grows of steady faith;
A joy that sheds it sunshine everywhere;
A humble strength and readiness to bear
Those burthens which strict duty ever lay'th
Upon our souls;--which unto sorrow saith,
"Here is no soil for thee to strike thy roots,
Here only grow those sweet and precious fruits;
Which ripen for the soul that well obey'th;
A patience which the world can neither give
Nor take away; a courage strong and high,
That dares in simple usefulness to live,
And without one sad look behind to die
When that day comes;--these tell me that our love
Is building for itself a home above.


"Great Human Nature" by James Russell Lowell
0
GREAT HUMAN NATURE

by James Russell Lowell

Great human nature, whither art thou fled?
Are these things creeping forth and back agen,
These hollow formalists and echoes, men?
Art thou entombed with the mighty dead?
In God's name, no! not yet hath all been said,
Or done, or longed for, that is truly great;
These pitiful dried crusts will never sate
Natures for which pure Truth is daily bread;
We were not meant to plod along the earth,
Strange to ourselves and to our fellows strange;
We were not meant to struggle from our birth
To skulk and creep, and in mean pathways range;
Act! with stern truth, large faith, and loving will!
Up and be doing! God is with us still.


"Green Mountains" by James Russell Lowell
1
GREEN MOUNTAINS

by James Russell Lowell

Ye mountains, that far off lift up your heads,
Seen dimly through their canopies of blue,
The shade of my unrestful spirit sheds
Distance-created beauty over you;
I am not well content with this far view;
How may I know what foot of loved-one treads
Your rocks moss-grown and sun-dried torrent beds?
We should love all things better, if we knew
What claims the meanest have upon our hearts:
Perchance even now some eye, that would be bright
To meet my own, looks on your mist-robed forms;
Perchance your grandeur a deep joy imparts
To souls that have encircled mine with light--
O brother-heart, with thee my spirit warms!


"I fain would give to thee"
2
I FAIN WOULD GIVE TO THEE

by James Russell Lowell

I fain would give to thee the loveliest things,
For lovely things belong to thee of right,
And thou hast been as peaceful to my sight,
As the still thoughts that summer twilight brings;
Beneath the shadow of thine angel wings
O let me live! O let me rest in thee,
Growing to thee more and more utterly,
Upbearing and upborn, till outward things
Are only as they share in thee a part!
Look kindly on me, let thy holy eyes
Bless me from the deep fulness of thy heart;
So shall my soul in its right strength arise,
And nevermore shall pine and shrink and start,
Safe-sheltered in thy full souled sympathies.


"I Saw a Gate" by James Russell Lowell
3
I SAW A GATE

by James Russell Lowell

I saw a gate: a harsh voice spake and said,
"This is the gate of Life;" above was writ,
"Leave hope behind, all ye who enter it;"
Then shrank my heart within itself for dread;
But, softer than the summer rain is shed,
Words dropt upon my soul, and they did say,
"Fear nothing, Faith shall save thee, watch and pray!"
So, without fear I lifted up my head,
And lo! that writing was not, one fair word
Was carven in its stead, and it was "Love."
Then rained once more those sweet tones from above
With healing on their wings: I humbly heard,
"I am the Life, ask and it shall be given!
I am the way, by me ye enter Heaven!"


"I would not have this perfect love"
4
I WOULD NOT HAVE THIS PERFECT LOVE

by James Russell Lowell

I would not have this perfect love of ours
Grow from a single root, a single stem,
Bearing no goodly fruit, but only flowers
That idly hide Life's iron diadem:
It should grow alway like that Eastern tree
Whose limbs take root and spread forth constantly;
That love for one, from which there doth not spring
Wide love for all, is but a worthless thing.
Not in another world, as poets prate,
Dwell we apart, above the tide of things,
High floating o'er earth's clouds on faery wings;
But our pure love doth ever elevate
Into a holy bond of brotherhood
All earthly things, making them pure and good.


"Light of Mine Eyes" by James Russell Lowell
5
LIGHT OF MINE EYES

by James Russell Lowell

Light of mine eyes! with thy so trusting look,
And thy sweet smile of charity and love,
That from a treasure well uplaid above,
And from a hope in Christ its blessing took;
Light of my heart! which, when it could not brook
The coldness of another's sympathy,
Finds ever a deep peace and stay in thee,
Warm as the sunshine of a mossy nook;
Light of my soul! who, by thy saintliness
And faith that acts itself in daily life,
Canst raise me above weakness, and canst bless
The hardest thraldom of my earthly strife--
I dare not say how much thou art to me
Even to myself--and O, far less to thee!


"The Lost Child" by James Russell Lowell
6
THE LOST CHILD

by James Russell Lowell

I.

I wandered down the sunny glade
And ever mused, my love, of thee;
My thoughts, like little children, played,
As gaily and as guilelessly.

II.

If any chanced to go astray,
Moaning in fear of coming harms,
Hope brought the wanderer back alway,
Safe nestled in her snowy arms.

III.

From that soft nest the happy one
Looked up at me and calmly smiled;
Its hair shone golden in the sun,
And made it seem a heavenly child.

IV.

Dear Hope's blue eyes smiled mildly down,
And blest it with a love so deep,
That, like a nurseling of her own,
It clasped her neck and fell asleep.


"Love-Song" by James Russell Lowell
7
LOVE-SONG

by James Russell Lowell

Nearer to thy mother-heart,
Simple Nature, press me,
Let me know thee as thou art,
Fill my soul and bless me!
I have loved thee long and well,
I have loved thee heartily;
Shall I never with thee dwell,
Never be at one with thee?

Inward, inward to thy heart,
Kindly Nature, take me,
Lovely even as thou art,
Full of loving make me!
Thou knowest naught of dead-cold forms,
Knowest naught of littleness,
Lifeful Truth thy being warms,
Majesty and earnestness.

Homeward, homeward to thy heart,
Dearest Nature, call me;
Let no halfness, no mean part,
Any longer thrall me!
I will be thy lover true,
Will be a faithful soul,
Then circle me, then look me through,
Fill me with the mighty Whole.


"Love's Altar" by James Russell Lowell
8
LOVE'S ALTAR

by James Russell Lowell

I.

I built an altar in my soul,
I builded it to one alone;
And ever silently I stole,
In happy days of long-agone,
To make rich offerings to that ONE.

II.

'Twas garlanded with purest thought,
And crowned with fancy's flowers bright,
With choicest gems 'twas all inwrought
Of truth and feeling; in my sight
It seemed a spot of cloudless light.

III.

Yet when I made my offering there,
Like Cain's, the incense would not rise;
Back on my heart down-sank the prayer,
And altar-stone and sacrifice
Grew hateful in my tear-dimmed eyes.

IV.

O'er-grown with age's mosses green,
The little altar firmly stands;
It is not, as it once hath been,
A selfish shrine;--these time-taught hands
Bring incense now from many lands.

V.

Knowledge doth only widen love;
The stream, that lone and narrow rose,
Doth, deepening ever, onward move,
And with an even current flows
Calmer and calmer to the close.

VI.

The love, that in those early days
Girt round my spirit like a wall,
Hath faded like a morning haze,
And flames, unpent by self's mean thrall,
Rise clearly to the perfect ALL.


"Mary" by James Russell Lowell
9
MARY

by James Russell Lowell

Dark hair, dark eyes--not too dark to be deep
And full of feeling, yet enough to glow
With fire when angered; feelings never slow,
But which seem rather watching to forthleap
From her full breast; a gently-flowing sweep
Of words in common talk, a torrent-rush,
Whenever through her soul swift feelings gush,
A heart less ready to be gay than weep,
Yet cheerful ever; a calm matron-smile,
That bids God bless you; a chaste simpleness,
With somewhat, too, of "proper pride," in dress;--
This portrait to my mind's eye came, the while
I thought of thee, the well-grown woman Mary,
Whilome a gold-haired, laughing little fairy.


"Might I but be beloved"
0
MIGHT I BUT BE BELOVED

by James Russell Lowell

Might I but be beloved, and, O most fair
And perfect-ordered soul, beloved of thee,
How should I feel a cloud of earthly care,
If thy blue eyes were ever clear to me?
O woman's love! O flower most bright and rare!
That blossom'st brightest in extremest need,
Woe, woe is me! that thy so precious seed
Is ever sown by Fancy's changeful air,
And grows sometimes in poor and barren hearts,
Who can be little even in the light
Of thy meek holiness--while souls more great
Are left to wander in a starless night,
Praying unheard--and yet the hardest parts
Befit those best who best can cope with Fate.


"The Moon" by James Russell Lowell
1
THE MOON

by James Russell Lowell

My soul was like the sea
Before the moon was made;
Moaning in vague immensity,
Of its own strength afraid,
Unrestful and unstaid.

Through every rift it foamed in vain
About its earthly prison,
Seeking some unknown thing in pain,
And sinking restless back again,
For yet no moon had risen:
Its only voice a vast dumb moan,
Of utterless anguish speaking,
It lay unhopefully alone
And lived but in an aimless seeking.

So was my soul: but when 'twas full
Of unrest to o'erloading,
A voice of something beautiful
Whispered a dim foreboding,
And yet so soft, so sweet, so low,
It had not more of joy than woe:
And, as the sea doth oft lie still,
Making its waters meet,
As if by an unconscious will,
For the moon's silver feet,
Like some serene, unwinking eye
That waits a certain destiny,
So lay my soul within mine eyes
When thou, its sovereign moon, didst rise.

And now, howe'er its waves above
May toss and seem uneaseful,
One strong, eternal law of love,
With guidance sure and peaceful,
As calm and natural as breath
Moves its great deeps through Life and Death.


"Much I had mused of Love"
2
MUCH I HAD MUSED OF LOVE

by James Russell Lowell

Much I had mused of Love, and in my soul
There was one chamber where I dared not look,
So much its dark and dreary voidness shook
My spirit, feeling that I was not whole:
All my deep longings flowed toward one goal
For long, long years, but were not answered,
Till Hope was drooping, Faith well-nigh stone-dead,
And I was still a blind, earth-delving mole;
Yet did I know that God was wise and good,
And would fulfil my being late or soon;
Nor was such thought in vain, for, seeing thee,
Great Love rose up, as, o'er a black pine wood,
Round, bright, and clear, upstarteth the full moon,
Filling my soul with glory utterly.


9
"My Friend, Adown Life's Valley"
3
MY FRIEND, ADOWN LIFE'S VALLEY

by James Russell Lowell

My friend, adown Life's valley, hand in hand,
With grateful change of grave and merry speech
Or song, our hearts unlocking each to each,
We'll journey onward to the silent land;
And when stern Death shall loose that loving band,
Taking in his cold hand a hand of ours,
The one shall strew the other's grave with flowers,
Nor shall his heart a moment be unmanned.
My friend and brother! if thou goest first,
Wilt thou no more re-visit me below?
Yea, when my heart seems happy causelessly
And swells, not dreaming why, as it would burst
With joy unspeakable--my soul shall know
That thou, unseen, art bending over me.


"No More But So?" by James Russell Lowell
4
"NO MORE BUT SO?"

by James Russell Lowell

No more but so? Only with uncold looks,
And with a hand not laggard to clasp mine,
Think'st thou to pay what debt of love is thine?
No more but so? Like gushing water-brooks,
Freshening and making green the dimmest nooks
Of thy friend's soul thy kindliness should flow;
But, if 'tis bounded by not saying "no,"
I can find more of friendship in my books,
All lifeless though they be, and more, far more
In every simplest moss, or flower, or tree;
Open to me thy heart of hearts' deep core,
Or never say that I am dear to thee;
Call me not Friend, if thou keep close the door
That leads into thine inmost sympathy


"O Child of Nature" by James Russell Lowell
5
O CHILD OF NATURE

by James Russell Lowell

O Child of Nature! O most meek and free,
Most gentle spirit of true nobleness!
Thou doest not a worthy deed the less
Because the world may not its greatness see;
What were a thousand triumphings to thee,
Who, in thyself, art as a perfect sphere
Wrapt in a bright and natural atmosphere
Of mighty-souledness and majesty?
Thy soul is not too high for lowly things,
Feels not its strength seeing its brother weak,
Not for itself unto itself is dear,
But for that it may guide the wanderings
Of fellow-men, and to their spirits speak
The lofty faith of heart that knows no fear.


"On Reading Spenser Again" by James Russell Lowell
6
ON READING SPENSER AGAIN

by James Russell Lowell

Dear, gentle Spenser! thou my soul dost lead,
A little child again, through Fairy land,
By many a bower and stream of golden sand,
And many a sunny plain whose light doth breed
A sunshine in my happy heart, and feed
My fancy with sweet visions; I become
A knight, and with my charmed arms would roam
To seek for fame in many a wondrous deed
Of high emprize--for I have seen the light
Of Una's angel's face, the golden hair
And backward eyes of startled Florimel;
And, for their holy sake, I would outdare
A host of cruel Paynims in the fight,
Or Archimage and all the powers of Hell.


"Poet! who sittest in thy pleasant room"
7
POET! WHO SITTEST IN THY PLEASANT ROOM

by James Russell Lowell

Poet! who sittest in thy pleasant room,
Warming thy heart with idle thoughts of love,
And of a holy life that leads above,
Striving to keep life's spring-flowers still in bloom,
And lingering to snuff their fresh perfume--
O, there were other duties meant for thee,
Than to sit down in peacefulness and Be!
O, there are brother-hearts that dwell in gloom,
Souls loathsome, foul, and black with daily sin,
So crusted o'er with baseness, that no ray
Of heaven's blessed light may enter in!
Come down, then, to the hot and dusty way,
And lead them back to hope and peace again--
For, save in Act, thy Love is all in vain.


"Reading" by James Russell Lowell
8
READING

by James Russell Lowell

As one who on some well-known landscape looks,
Be it alone, or with some dear friend nigh,
Each day beholdeth fresh variety,
New harmonies of hills, and trees, and brooks--
So is it with the worthiest choice of books,
And oftenest read: if thou no meaning spy,
Deem there is meaning wanting in thine eyes;
We are so lured from judgment by the crooks
And winding ways of covert fantasy,
Or turned unwittingly down beaten tracks
Of our foregone conclusions, that we see,
In our own want, the writer's misdeemed lacks:
It is with true books as with Nature, each
New day of living doth new insight teach.


"Rose" by James Russell Lowell
9
ROSE

by James Russell Lowell

My ever-lightsome, ever-laughing Rose,
Who always speakest first and thinkest last,
Thy full voice is as clear as bugle-blast;
Right from the ear down to the heart it goes
And says, "I'm beautiful! as who but knows?"
Thy name reminds me of old romping days,
Of kisses stolen in dark passage-ways,
Or in the parlor, if the mother-nose
Gave sign of drowsy watch. I wonder where
Are gone thy tokens, given with a glance
So full of everlasting love till morrow,
Or a day's endless grieving for the dance
Last night denied, backed with a lock of hair,
That spake of broken hearts and deadly sorrow.


"Sayest thou, most beautiful"
0
SAYEST THOU, MOST BEAUTIFUL

by James Russell Lowell

Sayest thou, most beautiful, that thou wilt wear
Flowers and leafy crowns when thou art old,
And that thy heart shall never grow so cold
But they shall love to wreath thy silvered hair
And into age's snows the hope of spring-tide bear?
O, in thy childlike wisdom's moveless hold
Dwell ever! still the blessings manifold
Of purity, of peace, and untaught care
For other's hearts, around thy pathway shed,
And thou shalt have a crown of deathless flowers
To glorify and guard thy blessed head
And give their freshness to thy life's last hours;
And, when the Bridegroom calleth, they shall be
A wedding-garment white as snow for thee.


"Serenade" by James Russell Lowell
1
SERENADE

by James Russell Lowell

From the close-shut windows gleams no spark,
The night is chilly, the night is dark,
The poplars shiver, the pine-trees moan,
My hair by the autumn breeze is blown,
Under thy window I sing alone,
Alone, alone, ah woe! alone!

The darkness is pressing coldly around,
The windows shake with a lonely sound,
The stars are hid and the night is drear,
The heart of silence throbs in thine ear,
In thy chamber thou sittest alone,
Alone, alone, ah woe! alone!

The world is happy, the world is wide.
Kind hearts are beating on every side;
Ah, why should we lie so curled
Alone in the shell of this great world?
Why should we any more be alone?
Alone, alone, ah woe! alone!

O! 'tis a bitter and dreary word,
The saddest by man's ear ever heard;
We each are young, we each have a heart,
Why stand we ever coldly apart?
Must we forever, then, be alone?
Alone, alone, ah woe! alone!


"Silent as one who treads"
2
SILENT AS ONE WHO TREADS

by James Russell Lowell

Silent as one who treads on new-fallen snow,
Love came upon me ere I was aware;
Not light of heart, for there was troublous care
Upon his eyelids, drooping them full low,
As with sad memory of a healed woe;
The cold rain shivered in his golden hair,
As if an outcast lot had been his share,
And he seemed doubtful whither he should go:
Then he fell on my neck, and, in my breast
Hiding his face, awhile sobbed bitterly,
As half in grief to be so long distrest,
And half in joy at his security--
At last, uplooking from his place of rest,
His eyes shone blessedness and hope on me.


"So May It Be" by James Russell Lowell
3
SO MAY IT BE

by James Russell Lowell

So may it be, but let it not be so,
O, let it not be so with thee, my friend;
Be of good courage, bear up to the end,
And on thine after way rejoicing go!
We all must suffer, if we aught would know;
Life is a teacher stern, and wisdom's crown
Is oft a crown of thorns, whence, trickling down,
Blood, mixed with tears, blinding her eyes doth flow;
But Time, a gentle nurse, shall wipe away
This bloody sweat, and thou shalt find on earth,
That woman is not all in all to Love,
But, living by a new and second birth,
Thy soul shall see all things below, above,
Grow bright and brighter to the perfect day.


"Something Natural" by James Russell Lowell
4
SOMETHING NATURAL

by James Russell Lowell

I.

When first I saw thy soul-deep eyes,
My heart yearned to thee instantly,
Strange longing in my soul did rise;
I cannot tell the reason why,
But I must love thee till I die.

II.

The sight of thee hath well-nigh grown
As needful to me as the light;
I am unrestful when alone,
And my heart doth not beat aright
Except it dwell within thy sight.

III.

And yet--and yet--O selfish love!
I am not happy even with thee;
I see thee in thy brightness move,
And cannot well contented be,
Save thou should'st shine alone for me.

IV.

We should love beauty even as flowers--
For all, 'tis said, they bud and blow,
They are the world's as well as ours--
But thou--alas! God made thee grow
So fair, I cannot love thee so!


"Song" by James Russell Lowell
5
SONG

by James Russell Lowell

I.

What reck I of the stars, when I
May gaze into thine eyes,
O'er which the brown hair flowingly
Is parted maidenwise
From thy pale forehead, calm and bright,
Over thy cheeks so rosy white?

II.

What care I for the red moon-rise?
Far liefer would I sit
And watch the joy within thine eyes
Gush up at sight of it;
Thyself my queenly moon shall be,
Ruling my heart's deep tides for me!

III.

What heed I if the sky be blue?
So are thy holy eyes,
And bright with shadows ever new
Of changeful sympathies,
Which in thy soul's unruffled deep
Rest evermore, but never sleep.


Song: Lift up the curtains of thine eyes
6
SONG: LIFT UP THE CURTAINS OF THINE EYES

by James Russell Lowell

I.

Lift up the curtains of thine eyes
And let their light out-shine!
Let me adore the mysteries
Of those mild orbs of thine,
Which ever queenly calm do roll,
Attuned to an ordered soul!

II.

Open thy lips yet once again
And, while my soul doth hush
With awe, pour forth that holy strain
Which seemeth me to gush,
A fount of music, running o'er
From thy deep spirit's inmost core!

III.

The melody that dwells in thee
Begets in me as well
A spiritual harmony,
A mild and blessed spell;
Far, far above earth's atmosphere
I rise, whene'er thy voice I hear.


"A Song: Violet! Sweet violet!"
7
A SONG

by James Russell Lowell

Violet! sweet violet!
Thine eyes are full of tears;
Are they wet
Even yet
With the thought of other years,
Or with gladness are they full,
For the night so beautiful,
And longing for those far-off spheres?

Loved one of my youth thou wast,
Of my merry youth,
And I see,
Tearfully,
All the fair and sunny past,
All its openness and truth,
Ever fresh and green in thee
As the moss is in the sea.

Thy little heart, that hath with love
Grown colored like the sky above,
On which thou lookest ever,--
Can it know
All the woe
Of hope for what returneth never,
All the sorrow and the longing
To these hearts of ours belonging?

Out on it! no foolish pining
For the sky
Dims thine eye,
Or for the stars so calmly shining;
Like thee let this soul of mine
Take hue from that wherefor I long,
Self-stayed and high, serene and strong,
Not satisfied with hoping--but divine.

Violet! dear violet!
Thy blue eyes are only wet
With joy and love of Him who sent thee,
And for the fulfilling sense
Of that glad obedience
Which made thee all which Nature meant thee!


"Sonnet: To a Friend" by James Russell Lowell
8
SONNET: TO A FRIEND

by James Russell Lowell

One strip of bark may feed the broken tree,
Giving to some few limbs a sickly green;
And one light shower on the hills, I ween,
May keep the spring from drying utterly.
Thus seemeth it with these our hearts to be;
Hope is the strip of bark, the shower of rain,
And so they are not wholly crushed with pain,
But live and linger on, for sadder sight to see,
Much do they err, who tell us that the heart
May not be broken; what, then, can we call
A broken heart, if this may not be so,
This death in life when, shrouded in its pall,
Shunning and shunned, it dwelleth all apart,
Its power, its love, its sympathy laid low?


"The soul would fain" by James Russell Lowell
9
THE SOUL WOULD FAIN

by James Russell Lowell

The soul would fain its loving kindness tell,
But custom hangs like lead upon the tongue;
The heart is brimful, hollow crowds among,
When it finds one whose life and thought are well;
Up to the eyes its gushing love doth swell,
The angel cometh and the waters move,
Yet it is fearful still to say "I love,"
And words come grating as a jangled bell.
O might we only speak but what we feel,
Might the tongue pay but what the heart doth owe,
Not Heaven's great thunder, when, deep peal on peal,
It shakes the earth, could rouse our spirits so,
Or to the soul such majesty reveal,
As two short words half-spoken faint and low!


"To----" by James Russell Lowell
0
TO----

by James Russell Lowell

Deem it no Sodom-fruit of vanity,
Or fickle fantasy of unripe youth
Which ever takes the fairest shows for truth,
That I should wish my verse beloved of thee;
'Tis love's deep thirst which may not quenched be.
There is a gulf of longing and unrest,
A wild love-craving not to be represt,
Whereto, in all our hearts, as to the sea,
The streams of feeling do for ever flow.
Therefore it is that thy well-meted praise
Falleth so shower-like and fresh on me,
Filling those springs which else had sunk full low,
Lost in the dreary desert-sands of woe,
Or parched by passion's fierce and withering blaze.


"To a Voice Heard In Mount Auburn"
1
TO A VOICE HEARD IN MOUNT AUBURN

by James Russell Lowell

Like the low warblings of a leaf-hid bird,
Thy voice came to me through the screening trees,
Singing the simplest, long-known melodies;
I had no glimpse of thee, and yet I heard
And blest thee for each clearly-carolled word;
I longed to thank thee, and my heart would frame
Mary or Ruth, some sisterly, sweet name
For thee, yet could I not my lips have stirred;
I knew that thou wert lovely, that thine eyes
Were blue and downcast, and methought large tears,
Unknown to thee, up to their lids must rise
With half-sad memories of other years,
As to thyself alone thou sangest o'er
Words that to childhood seemed to say "No More!"


"To---, After a Snow-Storm"
2
TO---, AFTER A SNOW-STORM

by James Russell Lowell

Blue as thine eyes the river gently flows
Between his banks, which, far as eye can see,
Are whiter than aught else on earth may be,
Save inmost thoughts that in thy soul repose;
The trees, all crystalled by the melted snows,
Sparkle with gems and silver, such as we
In childhood saw 'mong groves of Faerie,
And the dear skies are sunny-blue as those;
Still as thy heart, when next mine own it lies
In love's full safety, is the bracing air;
The earth is all enwrapt with draperies
Snow-white as that pure love might choose to wear--
O for one moment's look into thine eyes,
To share the joy such scene would kindle there!


"To the Dark, Narrow House"
3
TO THE DARK, NARROW HOUSE

by James Russell Lowell

To the dark, narrow house where loved ones go,
Whence no steps outward turn, whose silent door
None but the sexton knocks at any more,
Are they not sometimes with us yet below?
The longings of the soul would tell us so;
Although, so pure and fine their being's essence,
Our bodily eyes are witless of their presence,
Yet not within the tomb their spirits glow,
Like wizard lamps pent up, but whensoever
With great thoughts worthy of their high behests
Our souls are filled, those bright ones with us be,
As, in the patriarch's tent, his angel guests;--
O let us live so worthily, that never
We may be far from that blest company.


"To the Evening-Star" by James Russell Lowell
4
TO THE EVENING-STAR

by James Russell Lowell

When we have once said lowly "Evening-Star!"
Words give no more--for, in thy silver pride,
Thou shinest as nought else can shine beside:
The thick smoke, coiling round the sooty bar
Forever, and the customed lamp-light mar
The stillness of my thought--seeing things glide
So samely:--then I ope my windows wide,
And gaze in peace to where thou shin'st afar,
The wind that comes across the faint-white snow
So freshly, and the river dimly seen,
Seem like new things that never had been so
Before; and thou art bright as thou hast been
Since thy white rays put sweetness in the eyes
Of the first souls that loved in Paradise.


"Verse Cannot Say" by James Russell Lowell
5
VERSE CANNOT SAY

by James Russell Lowell

Verse cannot say how beautiful thou art,
How glorious the calmness of thine eyes,
Full of unconquerable energies,
Telling that thou hast acted well thy part.
No doubt or fear thy steady faith can start,
No thought of evil dare come nigh to thee,
Who hast the courage meek of purity,
The self-stayed greatness of a loving heart,
Strong with serene, enduring fortitude;
Where'er thou art, that seems thy fitting place,
For not of forms, but Nature, art thou child;
And lowest things put on a noble grace
When touched by ye, O patient, Ruth-like, mild
And spotless hands of earnest womanhood.


"When the glad soul" by James Russell Lowell
6
WHEN THE GLAD SOUL

by James Russell Lowell

When the glad soul is full to overflow,
Unto the tongue all power it denies,
And only trusts its secret to the eyes;
For, by an inborn wisdom, it doth know
There is no other eloquence but so;
And, when the tongue's weak utterance doth suffice,
Prisoned within the body's cell it lies,
Remembering in tears its exiled woe:
That word which all mankind so long to hear,
Which bears the spirit back to whence it came,
Maketh this sullen clay as crystal clear,
And will not be enclouded in a name;
It is a truth which we can feel and see,
But is as boundless as Eternity.


"Why should we ever weary"
7
WHY SHOULD WE EVER WEARY

by James Russell Lowell

Why should we ever weary of this life?
Our souls should widen ever, not contract,
Grow stronger, and not harder, in the strife,
Filling each moment with a noble act;
If we live thus, of vigor all compact,
Doing our duty to our fellow-men,
And striving rather to exalt our race
Than our poor selves, with earnest hand or pen
We shall erect our names a dwelling-place
Which not all ages shall cast down agen;
Offspring of Time shall then be born each hour,
Which, as of old, earth lovingly shall guard,
To live forever in youth's perfect flower,
And guide her future children Heavenward.


Opening poem to "A Year's Life"
8
OPENING POEM TO

A YEAR'S LIFE

by James Russell Lowell

Hope first the youthful Poet leads,
And he is glad to follow her;
Kind is she, and to all his needs
With a free hand doth minister.

But, when sweet Hope at last hath fled,
Cometh her sister, Memory;
She wreaths Hope's garlands round her head,
And strives to seem as fair as she.

Then Hope comes back, and by the hand
She leads a child most fair to see,
Who with a joyous face doth stand
Uniting Hope and Memory.

So brighter grew the Earth around,
And bluer grew the sky above;
The Poet now his guide hath found,
And follows in the steps of Love.


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