Songs of the Common Day, and, Ave!: An Ode for the Shelley Centenary
SONGS OF THE COMMON DAY
|By the same Author|
|ORION, AND OTHER POEMS [Out of print|
|IN DIVERS TONES [D. Lothrop Company|
|THE CANADIANS OF OLD|
|(From the French of Philippe Aubert de Gaspe)|
|D. Appleton & Co.|
|THE CANADIAN GUIDE-BOOK|
|New York: D. Appleton & Co.|
OF THE COMMON DAY
By the kind courtesy of Messrs. D. Lothrop Company, I am permitted toreprint in this collection seven sonnets from my volume entitled ‘InDivers Tones.’ This is done to complete the series of sonnets dealingwith aspects of common outdoor life. The sonnets reprinted are ‘TheSower,’ ‘The Potato Harvest,’ ‘Tides,’ ‘In September,’ ‘Dark,’ ‘Rain,’and ‘Mist.’ The Ode for the Centenary of Shelley’s Birth was firstpublished by the Williamson Book Company, of Toronto, in December 1892,in a limited edition of two hundred copies.
C. G. D. R,
Kingscroft, Windsor, N.S., Canada:
Transfused with ghostly amethyst,
O white Night, charm to wonderment
The cattle in the mist!
Makes dull, familiar things divine.
O grant of thy revealing gift
Be some small portion mine!
That I may see what beauty clings
In common forms, and find the soul
Of unregarded things!
And to the breaking sun! The sun-rise deeps
Of rose and crocus, whence the far dawn leaps,
Gild but with scorn their grey monotony.
The glebe rests patient for its joy to be.
Past the salt field-foot many a dim wing sweeps;
And down the field a first slow furrow creeps,
Pledge of near harvests to the unverdured lea.
The sea air thrills their nostrils. Some wise crows
Feed confidently behind the ploughman’s feet.
In the early chill the clods fresh cloven steam,
And down its griding path the keen share goes:
So, from a scar, best flowers the future’s sweet.
Fresh from the frequent harrow, deep and fine,
Lies bare; no break in the remote sky-line,
Save where a flock of pigeons streams aloft,
Startled from feed in some low-lying croft,
Or far-off spires with yellow of sunset shine;
And here the Sower, unwittingly divine,
Exerts the silent forethought of his toil.
Dumb in the yielding soil; and though small joy
Dwell in his heavy face, as spreads the blind
Pale grain from his dispensing palm aside,
This plodding churl grows great in his employ;—
Godlike, he makes provision for mankind.
Freed flocks confer about the farmstead ways.
The air’s a wine of dreams and shining haze,
Beaded with bird-notes thin,—for Spring’s begun!
The sap flies upward. Death is over and done.
The glad earth wakes; the glad light breaks; the days
Grow round, grow radiant. Praise for the new life!
For bliss of breath and blood beneath the sun!
To conjure with a perfume! From bare fields
The sense drinks in a breath of furrow and sod.
And lo, the bound of days and distance yields;
And fetterless the soul is flown abroad,
Lord of desire and beauty, like a God!
By the red cattle pastured, blanched with dew;
The small, mossed hillocks where the clay gets through;
The grey webs woven on milkweed tops at will.
The sparse, pale grasses flicker, and are still.
The empty flats yearn seaward. All the view
Is naked to the horizon’s utmost blue;
And the bleak spaces stir me with strange thrill.
To pierce our mean content, but rather works
Through incompletion, and the need that irks,—
Not in the flower, but effort toward the flower.
When the want stirs, when the soul’s cravings urge,
The strong earth strengthens, and the clean heavens purge.
This quiet Canadian inland forest home
And wide rough pasture-lots the shadows come,
And dews, with peace and twilight voices, fall,
From moss-cooled watering-trough to foddered stall
The tired plough-horses turn,—the barnyard loam
Soft to their feet,—and in the sky’s pale dome
Like resonant chords the swooping night-jars call.
Make shrill the slow brook’s borders; pasture bars
Down clatter, and the cattle wander through,—
Vague shapes amid the thickets; gleam by gleam
Above the wet grey wilds emerge the stars,
And through the dusk the farmstead fades from view.
My rest an islet of brown weeds blown dry,
I watch the wide bright heavens, hovering nigh,
My plain and pools in lucent splendours dyeing.
My view dreams over the rosy wastes, descrying
The reed-tops fret the solitary sky;
And all the air is tremulous to the cry
Of myriad frogs on mellow pipes replying.
And eve’s cool drench for midday soil and taint.
To tired ears how sweetly brings release
This limpid babble from life’s unstilled complaint;
While under tired eyelids lapse and faint
The noon’s derisive visions—fade and cease.
Where now unvisited the flats lie bare.
Here seethed the sweep of journeying waters, where
No more the tumbling floods of Fundy flow,
And only in the samphire pipes creep slow
The salty currents of the sap. The air
Hums desolately with wings that seaward fare,
Over the lonely reaches beating low.
With murmurs of a past that time has wronged;
And ghosts of many an ancient memory
Dwell by the brackish pools and ditches blind,
In these low-lying pastures of the wind,
These marshes pale and meadows by the sea.
Endlessly swaying, and the long winds stream
Athwart them from the far-off shores of dream.
Through the stirred branches filtering, faintly drops
Mystic dream-dust of isle, and palm, and cave,
Coral and sapphire, realms of rose, that seem
More radiant than ever earthly gleam
Revealed of fairy mead or haunted wave.
These are my gates of wonder, surged about
By tumult of tossed bough and rocking crest:
The vision lures. The spirit spurns her bound,
Spreads her unprisoned wing, and drifts from out
This green and humming gloom that wraps my rest.
And yellow butterflies, and foraging bees,
And whitish, wayward blossoms winged as these,
And pale green tangles like a seamaid’s hair.
Pale, pale the blue, but