The North Shore Watch – by George Edward Woodberry

The North Shore Watch – by George Edward Woodberry

In continuation of my Massachusetts (more specifically North Shore of Boston) poetry collection, here is the next poem. The first two can be found at “Lynn, Lynn, City of Sin” and “Paul Revere’s Ride“. This is a long one by George Edward Woodberry, but a very good poem as well.

George Edward WoodberryThe North Shore Watch
by George Edward Woodberry
(of Beverly, Massachusetts, 1890)

 

i.

First dead of all my dead that are to be,
Who at life’s flush with me wast wont to roam
The pine-fringed borders of this surging sea,
From far and lonely lands Love brings me home
To this wide water’s foam ;
Here thou art fallen in thy joyful days,

Life quenched within thy breast, light in thy eyes;

And darkly from thy ruined beauty rise
These flowerless myrtle-sprays ;
The hills we trod enfold thee evermore,
The gray and sleepless sea breaks round the or-
phaned shore.

 

ii.

All things are lovely as they were, and still
They draw with gladness toward me as a friend ;
The evening star doth touch me with the thrill
Of welcome, and the waves their voices blend
To hail my exile’s end.
Oft while I wandered in those weary lands,
This dear-remembered shore would comfort me,

Seeing in thought the everlasting sea
Washing his yellow sands ;
But now the scene I longed for gives me pain
Since he is dead, and ne’er shall feel its joy again.

iii.
Still planet, making beautiful the west,
Bright bringer of the stars and sheltered

Easing our hearts, as some beloved guest,
Whom for a little while our eyes may keep,
And through long years shall weep ;
O eloquent with flashes to the soul,

Even as his eyes beneath thy pure empire
Beamed the mute music of the heart’s desire,
Thee, too, doth fate control ;
And brief as his thy hour of light must be —
To earth her starry hush, my solitude to me !

iv.

Yet here our dayspring long ago was born,
While heaven still hovered near earth’s dusky frame ;
Light touched the isles, and joyously the morn
O’erflowed the orient with prophetic flame,
And on the waters came,
Crimson and pearl, and woke the singing shore ;
On over murmuring waves the glad light swept ;

On through the west the loosened glory leapt
The far bine uplands o’er ;
And slowly rose the sun, and made the sea
White with his splendor, and filled heaven with
purity.

v.

Upon this beach we welcomed in the world,
And loved the lore of its wise solitude,
Where on the foaming sands the surges swirled,
Or broad, blue-belted calm, in blessed brood,
Lay many a shining rood ;
Here in that prime we kept our boyish tryst,
When woke our April and the need to rove ;
We trod the mantle that the white moon wove,
We pierced the star-looped mist ;
And ever where our eager feet might roam,
The air was morning, and the loneliest spot was home.
vi.

The eloquent voices of the yearning sea

Called to us, strong as syllables of fate,
And, wafting in, like some lost memory,
Subdued us to the haunting hopes that wait
Round boyhood’s rapt estate ;
The deep spell moved, a passion in our blood,
And made the throbbing of our hearts keep time

Unto the laughter of the waves, and chime
With thunders of the flood ;
And subtly as a dream takes hue and form,
Our spirits clothed their youth in ocean’s sun
and storm.

vii.

Still would we watch, wave-borne from dawn
to dark,
The pools of opal gem the windless bay ;
Or touch at eve the purple isles, and mark
Where, by the moon, far on the edge of day,
The shore’s pale crescent lay ;
Or up broad river-reaches are we gone,

Through sunset mirrored in the hollow tide —
In beauty sphered, as some lone bird enskied,
The halcyon boat drifts on,
To twilight, and the stars, and deepest night,
With phosphorescent gleams, and dark oars drop-
ping light.

 

vii.

Ah, then a presence moved within this deep,

That more than beauty made its regions dear ;
O’er the long levels of its golden sleep

The light that beams from the eternal year
Flashed on the spirit clear ;
And wheresoe’er we saw the ocean roll,
With sounds of harmony his waves among,
The song that breathed before the lyre was
strung

Gave echo to the soul ;
And tremulous the immortal instincts woke
That prophesy of Him in whom the sweet dawn
broke.

ix.

Alas, the faery light that truth once wore !

Alas, the easy questing of the heart !
When, by the hushed and visionary shore,
The dreaming hope, wherein all things have part,
Made our young pulses start !
Once, once I knew thy sweetness, O salt sea !
I reaped along thy furrows bearded grain ;
Thy groves, that never drink the sun nor rain,
Gave nectarous fruit to me ;
And all thy herbless pastures yielded wine,
Deep-hearted, fragrant, bright — ah, then his
hand clasped mine !

Ay, heart with heart companioned we went on,

And ever lovelier was the wooded shore ;
More joyous bloomed the May, and warmer shone
The slant light down the forest’s muffled floor,
With music vaulted o’er ;
Ah, when the bluebird through the meadows darts,
Still yellow dogtooths gleam amid the brakes,
And fearlessly on all the green-leaved lakes
Lilies unfold their hearts ;
Earth’s children slumber when the wild winds
rise —
The tempest passes o’er, and heaven looks through
their eyes.

xi.

But the dark pines, whose heart is like the sea’s,
Mourn for one darling flower they nurtured here,
With morning fed, and deep, deep harmonies —
The sweetest blossom that the windy year
E’er rifled and left sere ;
Wake, O ye violets preluding the May,
And many a barren slope for beauty win !
Burst, white laurels, flush your cups within,
And whisper, spray to spray !
But till the cypress buds, and blooms the yew,
The sylvan year brings not the love that once ye
knew.

 

xii.

Too swiftly fled the green and fragrant time !
Bleak on the vacant earth the North Wind fell,
Bitter and fierce, to beat the frozen clime,
In shriveled fields and ruined woods to dwell,
And on the flood’s black swell ;
But us the rude transformer could not change ;
We saw his pale dominions gleam afar,
His keen skies flash with many a friendlier star,
And, lo, the vision strange —
Dear to our faith — far in the alien north,
With faltering hues and faint, a dream of morn
stole forth.

xiii.

Such presages before us ever went,

And flushed the skies with joyful heraldings ;
We trusted beauty — ‘t is the element

Wherein the soul unfolds her poising wings,
And heavenward soars, and sings ;
But in the dawn and by the star-swept tides,
In dim melodious aisles of lonely pines,
We felt the heart of sorrow none divines,
That in all things abides ;
And borne on sighing winds came sounds of woe,
Whose burden well we knew, but he feared not to
know.

 

xiv.

I saw the beauty of the early world

More lovely imaged in his lucid mind ;
Pure at his heart of innocence impearled
Shone the white truth no search can ever find,
In love, as light, enshrined ;
Him nature folded childlike to her breast,
Gave him her peace, her strength, her ease,her joy;

Fate could not move him, doubt could not annoy,
Nor sorrow, all men’s guest ;
And woven of her music fell his voice
On the wide-glimmering eve, and bade my soul rejoice.

xv.

” Ere yet we knew Love’s name,” he said to me,
” He gave the new earth to our boyish hands ;
For us morn blossoms, and the azure sea
Ruffles and smooths his long and gleaming sands
Upon a hundred strands ;
In green and gold the radiant mist exhales,
When through the willow buds the blue

March blows,
And sowing Persia through the world the rose
Reddens our western vales :
Clasped with the light, bathed with the glowing air,
Rest we in his embrace who made our paths so fair!

 

xvi.

” Why fear we ? wherefore doubt ? is Love not strong,
Whose starry shield o’er-roofs our mortal way,
Who makes his home within our hearts lifelong,
An instinct to divine, a law to sway,
A hero’s faith to stay ?
See, all life beats responsive to his might ;
Its yearning in his tameless hope began ;
Its dawning triumph in the heart of man
Is his far-beaconing light ;
He builds the empire of the golden years ;
The red strife, too, is his, the field of blood and
tears.

xvii.

” Through Him we look toward life with conquering eyes,
Nor swerve, nor falter, though his fire must blend
With our young hearts as flame with sacrifice,
Consuming all we are for that great end
He bids our souls befriend ;
The laws invincible of his firm state

Work with us till the vision grows the fact,
And thought, slow-suppling into perfect act,
Makes our desire our fate ;
Nor elsewise unto truth may man attain,
Though built in Shelley’s heart, though orbed in
Shakespeare’s brain.

 

xviii.

” His are we, as we were before we saw

The murder-strife that ravin cannot sate,
The fierce, incessant moan, the strokes of law,
The deep betrayal of our birth and state
That baffles us with fate ;
Be life’s inevitable sadness ours,

The evil that we cannot help but will,
The good with viewless consequence in ill,
Our maimed and thwarted powers !
Nor yet ” — I hear him say -— ” repining know,
The shadow-clouded earth through the blue deep must go.

xix.

” It moves, and plunges to the central sun,

Its paltry ruin flashes, and is gone ;
The stars, indifferent, their calm courses run,
The constellations shine as erst they shone,
The clustered heavens go on ;
Who shall foresee of all the one blind doom
When darkness shall inhabit torpid space,
Still, starless, orphaned of dawn’s lovely face,
Unfathomable tomb ! —
Yet may the soul pitch her adventure high,
With beauty and with love impassioned, though we die,

 

xx.

” Beauty that sings of unisons unseen,

Bright emanation of consenting laws,
In flower, wave, shell, blue skies, and pastures green,
The passing of the power that hath no pause,
That knows nor fate nor cause ;
The thrill of life aye pulsing through the void,
With rhythmic motions felt in sun and star,
And galaxies of splendor streaming far,
Nor in their woe destroyed ;
The presence wonderful, beneath, above —
In the lone heart of man it wakes, incarnate
Love.

xxi.

” It hallows all, the aureole He wears

Whom frail mortality hath never bound ;
Who in his hands the burning sphere upbears,
Though stars grow gray, their dateless ruin found,
And perish in their round ;
He is — and, lo, ‘t is loveliness we see,

The heavens majestic, and the joyous earth ;
Is not — and all the glory and the mirth
Are things of memory ;
Long, long o’er us be his divine control —
The beauty of the world, the rapture of the soul ! ”

 

xxii.

Such musings ours upon the moonlit shore,
While dark with motion sways the luminous tide;
On come the long, black waves, and, whitening o’er,
Fall, far-resounding, eddy, and divide,
And up the smooth sands glide :
So, life-engirdling, shone eternal truth,
So darkly luminous, so swift, so strong,
Flooding our mortal brink, it broke along
The winding shores of youth ;
There silent, glad, in Love’s repose we lay —
Calm was among the stars, peace on the heaving
bay.

xxiii.

Oh, wherefore could we not forever dwell
In that seclusion of the world new-born,
Where on our passive youth the promise fell
That dawns beneath the sweet brows of the morn,
The light none lives to scorn !
Too soon we left the haunts of boyish thought ;
Moored swung the boat beside the shining sea;

The arethusas flowered in secrecy,
And fell, unloved, unsought ;
Lone the rare cardinal, autumn’s herald, stood ;
The bittersweet gleamed red in the deserted wood.

 

xxiv.

One watch was ours ; far o’er the ebbing sea,

Heavy and dark, the rainy shadows lay ;
From his familiar door he walked with me
To that broad hill, grown dear in boyhood’s day,
The old field-trodden way ;
Chill rose the mists, and faint the distant roar
Of ocean sounded ; our old seat we took
Silent and sad ; cold autumn’s dying look
The summer landscape wore ;
We minded not — in our hearts shadows were
The wide earth harbors not, housing their misery
there.

xxv.
The Hour sprang forth from universal time,
Of his joy-hearted race the last sad Hour ;
Crowned heir of all his brothers of the prime,
Bodied more nobly, girt with secret power,
Starred with Love’s passion flower ;
Through night he sprang, and black the flakes of gloom
Fled, afar off, the lustre of his feet ;
Our hill he sought, aud made the darkness sweet,
Staying the wand of doom ;
And dear as from the Grail’s all-precious sight,
Grace from his presence flowed, and fell on us
as light.

 

xxvi.

We seemed to live within the soul alone

Of sorrow’s silent love the loftier mood ;
The spirit, vibrant to love’s perfect tone,
Sang love that was, more subtly understood,
In love to be, renewed ;
And was death hovering there, with shades of woe,
Round that dear head the sullen frosts confine? –
Dear hands, dear lips, dear eyes, I knew thee mine,
Mine, mine, where’er I go !
The Hour was dead ; we rose, we took our ways,
Forever lost to sight through all the exiled days.

xxvii.

O Song, move softly through the laureled lyre,

O melancholy music breathing woe ;
With strains that trembling loose love’s wild desire,
And waft it to its peace, through sorrow go,
With ocean pauses, slow !
Strike nobler notes, O laden as thou art,
That die not on the ear with dying tones ;
Oh, touch the finer chords man’s nature owns
To ease the breaking heart ;
And harmonies that of the soul partake,
Heard in the days of joy, in evil days awake !

 

xxviii.

Heavy is exile wheresoe’er it be !

Or where his armored ship’s strong bows divide
Green, empty hollows of the Afric sea,

Or where my broad-browed prairies, westering wide,
A race of men abide ;
And life in exile is a thing of fears,
A song bereaved of music, a delight
That sorrow’s tooth doth feast on, day and night,
A hope dissolved in tears,
A poem in the dying spirit — aught
Lost to its use and beauty, desolate, idle, naught !

xxix.

Heavy is exile wheresoe’er it be !

To miss the sense of love from out the days ;
To wake, and work, and tire, nor ever see
Love’s glowing eyes suffused with tender rays —
Darling of human praise !
To lose Love’s ministry from out our life,
Nor gentle labor know for dear ones wrought,

When once Love lorded the thronged ways of thought,
And quelled the harsh world strife ;
To feel the hungering spirit slowly stilled,
While hours and months and years the barren
seasons build.

 

xxx.

Ever to watch, like an unfriended guest,

The sun rise up and lead the days through heaven,
The silent days, on to the flaming west,
The unrecorded days, to darkness given,
Unloved, unwept, unshriven :
With our great mother, Earth, to live alone ;
To clasp in silence Wisdom’s moveless knees ;
To fix dumb eyes, that know fate’s whelming seas,
On her eternal throne ;
While better seems it, were the soul sunk deep
In life’s death-mantled pool, sealed in oblivious
sleep !

xxxi.

” Alas,” I cried, beneath the sun-bright sky,
” What profits it to search what Athens says —
To heap a little learning ere we die,

Blind pilgrims, walk the world’s deserted ways,
And lose the living days ;
To cheat sad memory’s self with storied woes ;
To summon up sweet visions out of books
Wherein old poets have enshrined love’s
looks ;
To seek in pain repose ;
Oh, cup of bitterness he too must taste,
Shut in his homeless ship upon the salt sea-
waste ! ”

 

xxxii.

What though o’er him the tropic sunset bloom,

With hyacinthine hues and sanguine dyes,
And down the central deep’s prof oundest gloom
Soft blossoms, fallen from the wreathed skies,
The seas imparadise ?
With light immingling, colors, dipped in May,
Through multitudinous changes still endure —
Orange and unimagined emeralds pure
Drift through the softened day ;
” Alas,” he whispers, ” and art thou not nigh ?
Earth reaches now her height of beauty ere I die.”

xxxiii.

And I give answer, — ” Would that he were here !
Three halos, crescent-horned, of purest grain,
In shadowless keen ether burning clear,

In morn’s blue eastern depths, a glory, reign
Burn brighter, burn, and wane ;
Never to us,” I whisper, ” by that strand
Stepped morn, so diademed upon the sea ;
Sweet wanderer, joyous shall thy roaming be
Across this wind-swept land !
Urge on thy western flight and die in bliss !
On those unsheltered waves his temples didst
thou kiss.”

 

xxxiv.

Brief now his voyaging is o’er those far seas,
By shoal and reef that the lost mariner mock,
By lands of palm that nurse the poisoned breeze,
And pillared isles whose foam-girt bases rock
With the tornado’s shock ;
The branding suns smite down on glassy waves ;
They sink ; on high strange stars malignant roll,

The regents of the pale, untraveled pole,
Whose coasts no mortal braves :
Why will he on? — Come back, O bleeding heart !
O stricken soul, return ! Dea,th hunteth where
thou art.

xxxv.

Eager as sea-birds from their bonds set free,

He sought the ancient harbors of his home ;
The Southern Cross fell in the frozen sea,
And stars of gladness, washed in northern foam,
His boyhood heavens upclomb ;
Once more beneath the tender spring he drinks
The fountains of his youth for which he yearned ;

The beauty of the shore, like love returned,
Deep in his spirit sinks ;
The violets linger, wide the laurels bloom —
Alas, the flowering earth is his eternal tomb !

 

xxxvi.

Moan, melancholy Ocean, he is dead

In whom thou hadst thy life, thy throbbing

Our woe, O melancholy Ocean, shed

In music round thy ever-strangered boy,
Whom the blind deeps destroy !
Waken, dark pines ! that ruinous eclipse

Hath broke the tender league of musing youth,

And shut love’s insights and the hopes of  truth
Within his parted lips :
I take, ay me, no welcome from his hands —
He comes not through the wood, nor down the shadowy sands.

xxxvii.

From him the lone sun doth withhold his light ;

To him lorn eve her western star denies ;
But oh, a lovelier world hath sunk in night,
Its music-breathing fields, its dreaming skies,
Dark in his darkened eyes ;
The rapturous element is still, in him,
And all of nature that can perish, dead ;
Oblivion gathers o’er his obscure head ;
Death binds him, face and limb ;
Earth-sundered soul, no beauty now he knows,
Nor sense nor act of love sweetens his long repose.

 

xxxviii.

On crag and beach I hear his threnody ;

I touch the myrtles clinging round his grave ;
But weak is all that severs him from me,
Faint and far off, although my heart will crave
The old response he gave ;
No, not the moaning waves nor sighing pines
Persuade my soul of loss, nor blinding tears —

I love him, I shall love through lonely years,
Where’er my life declines ;
I lean my head down to the flowerless sod —
I feel his shepherding as when on earth he trod.

Mortality sways not, while heaven shall last,
The starry years that were when he was mine ;
Death blots not out a fair-recorded past,

Whose meanings deeper are than men divine,
Who write it, line by line ;
The years of noble life are pledges deep,
That bind futurity our souls to friend ;
Woe cannot cancel them, nor far time end
The privilege they keep ;
They live — their light still blessed where it leads,
Their hoarded music loosed, pure song, in perfect deeds.

 

xl.

Yea, he to whom Love was as God is dead ;
Cold, mute, and dark, he unresponsive lies ;
A joyless form, the kindling presence fled,
The spirit faded from his wistful eyes ;
No more will he arise !
Yet not in vain was our adoring trust,
Our deep-vowed fealty, our service done ;
To finer issues love that was lives on,
Nor moulders into dust :
Of Love, the Giver, still ray song must be,
The Victor, Love, repeat, whose grace descends
on me.

xli.

Love blends with mine the spirit I deplore,
Like music in sweet verse that lasts for aye;
While yet we wandered by our native shore,
He sent the blessings for which all men pray,
That cannot pass away ;
He wrought with ministries of star and flower
And the gray sea, to build our lives secure ;
He made the sources of the spirit pure,
And with truth lent us power ;
And him to me He gave — and lo, his gift
Is changeless, and doth now my soul from death
uplift.

 

xlii.

On deepest night arisen, the morning star
Trembles across the wide, unquiet sea,
And heavenward springs, with influence felt afar —
The world’s new hope he leads, the day to be,
The life that waits for me ;
Speed on, glad star, and golden be thy flight,
Inviolable, serene, the waters o’er !
Fear not the eclipsing west, born to soar,
And, dying, die in light !
Bring, bring the morning with her tides of song,
Her floods of amber air, breaking earth’s heights
along.

 

xliii.

Beauty abides, nor suffers mortal change.
Eternal refuge of the orphaned mind ;
Where’er a lonely wanderer, I range,

The tender flowers shall my woes unbind,
The grass to me be kind ;
And lovely shapes innumerable shall throng
On sea and prairie, soft as children’s eyes ;
Morn shall awake me with her glad surprise ;
The stars shall hear my song ;
And heaven shall I see, whate’er my road,
Steadfast, eternal, light’s impregnable abode.

 

xliv.

Love, too, abides, and smiles at savage death,
And swifter speeds his might and shall endure ;
The secret flame, the unimagined breath,
That lives in all things beautiful and pure,
Invincibly secure ;
In Him creation hath its glorious birth,
Subsists, rejoices, moves prophetic on,
Till that dim goal of all things shall be won
Men yearn for through the earth ;
Voices that pass we are of Him, the Song,
Whose harmonies the winds, the stars, the seas,
prolong.

 

xlv.

Break, surging sea, about the lovely shore !
O dimly heaving plains, through darkness sweep !
Thy restless waves, with morning stars roofed o’er,
Their incommunicable secret keep,
Impenetrable deep !
The eldest years on time’s oblivious verge
Saw thee through tempest-weltering night uplift

Great, mountainous continents amid thy drift,
And their tall peaks submerge ;
The vast, abysmal, wandering fields moved on,
Whelming the wasteful wreck of the old world
undone.

 

xlvt.

And still round mortal shores thy billows roll,
And shall through long, long ages yet unborn;
Lone splendor of the sense-illumined soul,
Eternal moaning of the spirit lorn,
By strokes of loss outworn ;
Thy terrors image our blind mortal state,
Dark with impending doom and whirling woe,

And monsters in thy bosom come and go,
And death is thy fell mate ;
Ah yet, through sun and storm, gray ocean, roll,
Love clasps thy mighty tides in his profound control.

xlvii.

Surge on, thy melancholy is not doom !

Surge, O wan sea, into the golden day !
The morn is breathing off thy purple gloom,
The isles lift up their promise, dim and gray,
Love holds his dauntless sway !
Thy ripples kiss the shore with lips of foam,
Thy waves are dawning soft — the winds blow free !

Keep thou the eternal watch, O dear, dear sea,
Those far lands I must roam !
Lo, ’tis the sunrise — and the sphered stars move,
Singing unseen, like silent thoughts through silent love.

July 12th, 2014|Blog, Poetry|0 Comments

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