Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > Anthology of Massachusetts Poets
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. (1878–1962).  Anthology of Massachusetts Poets.  1922.
Two Moods from the Hill
Ernest Benshimol

I LOVE to watch the world from here, for all
The numberless living portraits that are drawn
Upon the mind. Far over is the sea,
Fronting the sand, a few great yellow dunes,
A salt marsh stumbling after, rank and green,        5
With brackish gullies wandering in between,
All this from the hill.
And more: a clump of dwarfed and twisted cedars,
Sentinels over the marsh, and bright with the sun
A field of daises wandering in the wind        10
As though a hidden serpent glided through,
A broken wall, a new-plowed field, and then
The dusty road and the abodes of men
Surrounding the hill.
How small the enclosure is wherein there lives        15
Each phase and passion of life, the distant sail
Dips in the limpid bosom of the sea,
From that far place to where in state the turf
Raises a throne for me upon the hill,
Each little love and lust of a living thing        20
Can thus be compassed in a rainbow ring
And seen from the hill.

Why did I build my cottage on a hill
Facing the sea?
Why did I plan each terraced lawn to slope        25
Down to the deep blue billowy breast of hope,
Surging and sweeping,
laughing and leaping,
Tumbling its garments of foam upon the shore,
Rustling the sands that know my step no more,        30
I should have found a valley, deep and still,
To shelter me.
There flows the river, and it seems asleep
So far away,
Yet I remember whip of wave and roar        35
Of wind that rose and smote against the oar,
Smote and retreated,
Proud but defeated,
While I rejoiced and rowed into the brine,
Drawing on wet and heavy-straining line        40
The great cod quivering from the deep
As counterplay.
What is the solace of these hills and vales
That rise and fall?
What is there glorious in the greenwood glen,        45
Or twittering thrush or wing of darting wren?
Give me the gusty,
Raucous and rusty
Call of the sea gull in the echoing sky,
The wild shriek of the winds that cannot die,        50
Give me the life that follows the bending sails,
Or none at all!


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