Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
1160. From the “Book of Day-Dreams”
By Charles Leonard Moore

DISGUISE upon disguise, and then disguise,
Equivocations at the rose’s heart,
Life’s surest pay a poet’s forgeries,
The gossamer gold coinage of our art.
Why hope for truth? Thy very being slips,        5
Lost from thee, in thy crowd of masking moods.
Why hope for love? Between quick-kissing lips
Is room and stage for all hate’s interludes.
One with thy love thou art!—her eyes, her hair
Known to thy soul, a pure estate of bliss;        10
But some least motion, look, or changëd air,
And nadir unto zenith nearer is:
Thou mayst control her limbs, but not begin
To know what planet rules the tides within.

THE MIGHTY soul that is ambition’s mate,
Tied to the shiftings of a certain star,
Forgets the circle of its mortal state
And what its planetary aspects are,
Till, in conjunctive course and wandering,
Out of its trance and treasure-dream of hope        20
It wakens, poor illusionary thing,
Wingless, without desire, or deed, or scope.
So have I with imaginations played
Till I have lost life’s sure and single good,
Forgotten friendships, broken vows, and made        25
My heart a highway for ingratitude,
And, driven to the desert of the sky,
Fear now no thing but immortality.

THAT which shall last for aye can have no birth.
Thou art immortal! therefore thou hast been        30
A voyage to which the journey of the earth
Is but the shifting of some tawdry scene.
Thou wert not absent when the camp began
Of the great captains of the middle air,—
Sirius and Vega and Aldebaran,—        35
Myriads, and but the marshals numbered there;
Ay, earlier yet in the God-purposed void,
The dream and desert of oblivion,
Thou livedst,—a thought of one to be employed
Ere yet Time’s garments thou didst take and don:        40
Guest that no footprint on my threshold leaves,—
Speak, O dim traveller, speak: thy host believes!

THOU livest, O soul! be sure, though earth be flames,
Though lost be all the paths the planets trod,
Thou hast not aught to do with signs and names,        45
With Life’s false art or Time’s brief period.
Thy being wast ere yet the heavens were not,
Gently thy breath the waves of ether stirred,
And often hast thou feared and oft forgot,
Yet knew thyself when rang the parent Word.        50
Long hast thou played at change through chain on chain
Of beings, drooping now in strange descent,
Now adding bloom to bloom and beauty’s gain,
Through subtle growths of glory evident.
O earnest play, thyself apart oft smilest,        55
One still at heart, that so thyself beguilest.

THEN shall we see and know the group divine,
The sure immortals of the world’s vague throng,
Ceaseless continuers of the purple line,
The equal-sceptred kings of Deed and Song:        60
From sire to sire to Orpheus and beyond,
Thrilled with the blood of Hector do they come,
Blazoned on eyes believing, eyes too fond
To fail to follow them unto their home.
Hark! their thin tread outechoes the vast hosts        65
That shake the valleys of the globe beneath;
Their smile is fire; their eyes (O, subtle ghosts!)
Have waked in me the passion of the Wreath
Without whose round not heaven itself is bliss,
Nor immortality immortal is.        70


Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.