Verse > Anthologies > George Willis Cooke, ed. > The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology
George Willis Cooke, comp.  The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology.  1903.
My Two Quests
By John Weiss (1818–1879)
OH, many trees watch East,
And many trees ensnare the West,—
Those to drip with dawning golden,
These to keep the sunsets holden;
Yet of all I love them least        5
That fail to nod above my quest.
Oh, many hills watch North,
And many in the South are faint,—
These to hold aloft the clearness,
These to bear away the nearness;        10
Yet to all I wander loth,
To all save those my longings paint.
Oh, many flowers make sweet,
In many autumn fields, the grass.
Some to old resorts cajole me,        15
New surprises some would dole me;
None of them can draw my feet,
Save those which smile to see her pass.
Oh, many paths invite
To beauties of the sky and land.        20
East and West the earth is tender,
North and South bend bows of splendor;
All the paths to me are trite,
Save one that leads me to her hand.
Oh, many days are born,        25
Both sweet and grave within them stir;
Perfect climes that have for ages
Been to kings and queens the pages;
But for all I have a scorn,
Save those which leap at sight of her.        30
Oh, many landscapes wait,
Tongue-tied, till thoughts release their word;
Thoughts like champions that travel,
Captives loose and charms unravel:
Best endowed of all but prate        35
Unless her mood has one preferred.
Days I ’ve waited for my friend;
  Near yet absent waited He:
Time and chance did not attend,
  Nor a look to set me free.        40
Not a meeting of the eyes,
  Nor a touch of hands that groped
Through each hour’s dull enterprise
  Toward the thrill for which we hoped.
Wainscoted with care the walls        45
  Are past which I feel my way.
Dark of absence deeper falls;
  Still I fumble, still I stay.
At a sudden turn, when least
  We surmised our hearts were near,        50
All the doubt, the strangeness, ceased;
  In a moment, dazzling clear.
Solid walls were built of mist,
  And our rapture burnt them down;
And the flash by which we kissed        55
  Seemed a sun for all the town,
Seemed to kindle every hearth,
  To consume each doubt and care,
Blaze along the common path,
  No reserve or dread to spare.        60
Thoughts that struggled from the slime,
  Nile-bred forms to gain their feet,
Suited with their perfect rhyme,
  Trooping came along the street;
And I breathed them from the air;        65
  Saw them, armored by sunbeams,
Point their shafts against my care,
  Heard them shattering my dreams.
All the house their carol shook,
  To my soul their joy gave wing,        70
Gave my sight an upward look,
  Opened it like flowers in spring;
Into perfume seemed to burst,
  And to offer up my heart,
Changing into best my worst,        75
  Into comfort every smart.
Lightly then my straining mind
  Threw its ladder to the sky,
Upward ran the morn to find,
  See its surf run freshening by.        80
Gladness was the friend I found,
  Sense of something clear and still;
As the earth in light is drowned,
  And in space the highest hill.
All my prose to song sublimed,        85
  All my waiting to this smile,
Hung, without a flutter, rhymed
  In the heaven’s perfect style.
Did my life indeed ascend,
  Or some life sink down to me?        90
All I know, it was my Friend:
  Name it? shape it? Let that be.

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