By Christopher Pearse Cranch
(1813 - 1892)
 
 
Stanza from an Early Poem
 
 
THOUGHT is deeper than all speech,
  Feeling deeper than all thought;
Souls to souls can never teach
  What unto themselves was taught.
 
 
The Bobolinks
 
 
WHEN Nature had made all her birds,
  With no more cares to think on,
She gave a rippling laugh, and out
  There flew a Bobolinkon.
 
She laughed again; out flew a mate;
  A breeze of Eden bore them
Across the fields of Paradise,
  The sunrise reddening o’er them.
 
Incarnate sport and holiday,
  They flew and sang forever;
Their souls through June were all in tune,
  Their wings were weary never.
 
Their tribe, still drunk with air and light,
  And perfume of the meadow,
Go reeling up and down the sky,
  In sunshine and in shadow.
 
One springs from out the dew-wet grass;
  Another follows after;
The morn is thrilling with their songs
  And peals of fairy laughter.
 
From out the marshes and the brook,
  They set the tall reeds swinging,
And meet and frolic in the air,
  Half prattling and half singing.
 
When morning winds sweep meadowlands
  In green and russet billows,
And toss the lonely elm-tree’s boughs,
  And silver all the willows,
 
I see you buffeting the breeze,
  Or with its motion swaying,
Your notes half drowned against the wind,
  Or down the current playing.
 
When far away o’er grassy flats,
  Where the thick wood commences,
The white-sleeved mowers look like specks
  Beyond the zigzag fences,
 
And noon is hot, and barn-roofs gleam
  White in the pale blue distance,
I hear the saucy minstrels still
  In chattering persistence.
 
When Eve her domes of opal fire
  Piles round the blue horizon,
Or thunder rolls from hill to hill
  A Kyrie Eleison,
 
Still merriest of the merry birds,
  Your sparkle is unfading,—
Pied harlequins of June,—no end
  Of song and masquerading.
 
What cadences of bubbling mirth,
  Too quick for bar and rhythm!
What ecstasies, too full to keep
  Coherent measure with them!
 
O could I share, without champagne
  Or muscadel, your frolic,
The glad delirium of your joy,
  Your fun unapostolic,
 
Your drunken jargon through the fields,
  Your bobolinkish gabble,
Your fine Anacreontic glee,
  Your tipsy reveller’s babble!
 
Nay, let me not profane such joy
  With similes of folly;
No wine of earth could waken songs
  So delicately jolly!
 
O boundless self-contentment, voiced
  In flying air-born bubbles!
O joy that mocks our sad unrest,
  And drowns our earth-born troubles!
 
Hope springs with you: I dread no more
  Despondency and dulness;
For Good Supreme can never fail
  That gives such perfect fulness.
 
The life that floods the happy fields
  With song and light and color
Will shape our lives to richer states,
  And heap our measures fuller.
 
 
The Pines and the Sea
 
 
BEYOND the low marsh-meadows and the beach,
Seen through the hoary trunks of windy pines,
The long blue level of the ocean shines.
The distant surf, with hoarse, complaining speech,
Out from its sandy barrier seems to reach;
And while the sun behind the woods declines,
The moaning sea with sighing boughs combines,
And waves and pines make answer, each to each.
O melancholy soul, whom far and near,
In life, faith, hope, the same sad undertone
Pursues from thought to thought! thou needs must hear
An old refrain, too much, too long thine own:
’T is thy mortality infects thine ear;
The mournful strain was in thyself alone.
 
BACK | TOC | FORWARD