EDITH M. THOMAS

AN earnest idealist is Miss Edith Thomas, who commits to her song a
vital word and sends it as a courier to arouse that drowsy
lodge-keeper, the soul, and bid him give ear to the importunate
message of life. Not by outwardly strenuous numbers, however, is this
end achieved; on the contrary, Miss Thomas is a quiet singer whose
thoughtful restraint is one of her chief distinctions. The spiritual
tidings which she intrusts to her song are destined to be delivered in
the silence of the soul; none the less are they sent to awaken it, and
none the less do they bide and knock at the door of one’s spirit until
one rise and open to them.

The ideality of her work has been from the outset its most informing
quality; the thoughts beyond the thrall of words that pass, in
Maeterlinck’s phrase, “like great white birds, across the heart,” had
brushed with their unsullied wings the thoughts of every-day and left
a light upon them, giving assurance, when the art was still unshapen,
that the vision had been revealed. One seldom reads a poem by Miss
Thomas without bringing away from it a suggestive thought or a
spiritual stimulus, sometimes introduced so subtly that it breaks upon
one in the after-light of memory rather than at the moment of reading;
for Miss Thomas is not a homiletic singer, obtruding the moral. She is
too much the artist for that. She delivers no crass counsel, does no
obvious and commonplace moralizing; but she has the nature that
resolves every phase of life into its spiritual elements, and, seen
imaginatively, these elements are material for Art. When once they are
wrought into song by Miss Thomas, they have lost none of the force of
the original idea, none of the thought-giving value; but into them has
been infused the spiritual value in a subtly philosophical way, by
which the experience is resolved into its personal import to the soul.

Miss Thomas has written many beautiful lyrics, but her characteristic
expression is too thoughtful to be set to the lighter and more purely
musical rhythms. She has a finely cultivated style, inventive in form,
and often employing richly cadenced measures, but one feels rather
that the cadence is well tested, the form well fitted to the theme,
than that the impulse created its own form and sang itself into being.
One cannot, however, generalize upon such varied work as that of Miss
Thomas. Because one feels back of the work the thinker, the analyst,
weighing even the emotion in the balance of reflection, is not to say
that the work is cold or unemotional; on the contrary, it is deeply
human and sympathetic, and in such inspirations as are drawn directly
from life it is often highly impassioned; but in many of the poems the
motive is drawn from some classic source, such as, “At Seville,”
“Ulysses at the Court of Alcinous,” “The Roses of Pieria,” “Timon to
the Athenians,” “The Voice of the Laws,” being Socrates’ reply to
Crito,—and while each of these poems, and particularly the last, has
both beauty and strength, they naturally lack the warmth and impulse
that accompany more personal themes.

As compared with the large body of Miss Thomas’ work, that for which
the inspiration has been sought far afield is slight; but it is
sufficient to set the mark of deliberate intent upon many of the poems
and detract from the spontaneity of the work as a whole. Miss Thomas
is so accomplished and ready a technician that the temptation to
utilize such allusions and themes from literature as have artistic
possibilities, is a strong one; nor is it one to be deprecated, except
in the ultimate tendency that one shall let the inspiration from
without take precedence of that within, thus quenching one’s own
creative faculty. With Miss Thomas such a result is far distant, if
not impossible, for life is to her the vital reality, and the majority
of her themes are drawn from its passing drama; but there is also the
other phase of her art, and a sufficiently prominent one to be noted.
Her work falls under two distinct heads,—poetry of the intellect and
poetry of the heart,—and while her most emotional verse has a fine
subtlety of thought, and her most intellectual a subtlety of emotion,
making them not crassly one or the other, none the less is the
distinction apparent, and it is easy to put one’s hand upon the work
into which her own temperament has entered and which her creative
moods have shaped. Upon Art itself she has written some of her most
luminous poems, holding genius to be one with that force by which

The blossom and the sod
Feel the unquiet God,

and exclaiming to a doubting votary,

Despair thine art!
Thou canst not hush those cries,
Thou canst not blind those eyes,
Thou canst not chain those feet,
But they a path shall beat
Forth from thine heart.
Forth from thine heart!
There wouldst thou dungeon him,
In cell both close and dim—
The key he turns on thee,
And out he goeth free!
Despair thine art!

In her poem, “The Compass,” she carries the reasoning farther, and
declares that if one is to wait upon the Force within and give it
freedom, he shall also be trusted to follow where it leads, knowing
that if temporarily deflected it will adjust itself to the truth as
surely as the compass, thrown momentarily out of poise, searches and
finds its compelling attraction. Aside from the analogy in the lines,
the dignity of their movement, the harmonious fall of the cæsura, and
the fine blending of word and tone, render them highly artistic:

Touch but with gentlest finger the crystal that circles the Mariner’s
Guide—
To the East and the West how it drifts, and trembles, and searches on
every side!
But it comes to its rest, and its light lance poises only one self-same
way
Since ever a ship spread her marvellous sea-wings, or plunged her
swan-breast through the spray—
For North points the needle!

Ye look not alone for the sign of the lode-star; the lode-stone too
lendeth cheer;
Yet one in the heavens is established forever, and one is compelled
through the sphere.
What! and ye chide not the fluttering magnet that seemeth to fly its
troth,
Yet even now is again recording its fealty’s silent oath—
As North points the needle!

Praise ye bestow that, though mobile and frail as a tremulous spheret
of dew,
It obeys an imperial law that ye know not (yet know that it guideth
most true);
So, are ye content with its fugitive guidance—ye, but the winds’ and
waves’ sport!—
So, are ye content to sail by your compass, and come in fair hour to
your port;
For North points the needle!

And now, will ye censure, because, of compulsion, the spirit that
rules in this breast,
To show what a poet must show, was attempered, and touched with a
cureless unrest,
Swift to be moved with all human mutation, to traverse passion’s
whole range?
Mood succeeds mood, and humor fleets humor, yet never heart’s drift
can they change,
For North points the needle!

Inconstant I were to that Sovereign Bidding (why or whence given
unknown),
Failed I to tent the entire round of motive ere sinking back to my
own:
The error be yours, if ye think my faith erring or deem my allegiance
I fly;
I follow my law and fulfil it all duly—and look! when your doubt
runneth high—
North points the needle!

These lines illustrate Miss Thomas’ command of accurately descriptive
phrase: the compass is “mobile and frail as a tremulous spheret of
dew,” and touched never so lightly, “how it drifts, and trembles, and
searches on every side.” One feels that just these words, and no
others, convey at once the sense of its delicacy, and the almost
sentient instinct by which it seeks its attraction. Miss Thomas’
diction in general shows rather fineness of discrimination in the
expressive value of words than a strenuous attempt to seek out those
which are “literary” and inobvious. There is rarely a word that calls
undue attention to itself; but when a passage or poem is analyzed, one
cannot but note the fine sense of values in its phraseology. Her
diction has elegance without conventionality, but one would scarcely
say that it is highly temperamental. It is flexible, colorful,
picturesque, but has not so strong a note of personality that one
meeting a poem of Miss Thomas’ by chance would be able to identify it
by its evidence of word and phrase, as one may often do in the work of
a poet. Miss Thomas’ marked individuality is rather in the essence of
her work, its motive, mood, and thought, than in its distinctive
style, which is too varied to be recognized by its touch.

Now and again in her earlier work the influence of Emerson comes out
unmistakably. “A Reed Shaken With the Wind,” “Child and Poet,” and
“The Naturalist,” are distinctly Emersonian in manner and
atmosphere—the first especially so in its consecutive, unstanzaed
lines, and in the note pervading it. Whatever mannerisms of style Miss
Thomas acquired from Emerson were, however, quickly cast off; but with
his thought she could scarcely fail to have a continued kinship, if
not a debt, so much does her own work incline to the spiritually
philosophical. One may not trace influences at all definitely in her
work, though felt in its general enrichment and breadth. In
“Palingenesis,” from her last collection, she has done what poets
before her have done,—embody in song the theory of evolution; but it
has rarely been done better than in these stanzas, which seize the
spiritual side of the scientific fact and fuse it with the
imagination. It has been shudderingly foreboded that in this baldly
practical age the poet would come singing of science; but if he invest
it with the life and charm that pervade Miss Thomas’ incursion into
the realm, there is no immediate cause for alarm. Indeed, a scientific
truth, seen through the lens of a poet’s imagination, often takes on a
beauty that no conception of fancy could duplicate, witness Whitman’s
line:

Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like cheerful boatmen,

from a poem upon the same theme which inspires Miss Thomas’ stanzas:

I dwelt with the God, ere He fashioned the worlds with their heart
of fire,
Ere the vales sank down at His voice or He spake to the mountains,
“Aspire!”
Or ever the sea to dark heaven made moan in its hunger for light,
Or the four winds were born of the morning and missioned on various
flight.

In a fold of His garment I slept, without motion, or knowledge, or
skill,
While age upon age the thought of creation took shape at His will;

* * * * *

Part had I not in the scheme till He sent me to work on the reef.
Nude, in the seafoam, to clothe it with coralline blossom and leaf.
Patient I wrought—as a weaver that blindly plyeth the loom,
Nor knew that the God dwelt with me, there as I wrought in the gloom.

Strength had I not till chiefdom supreme of the waters He gave;
Joyous I went—tumultuous; the billows before me I drave—
Myself as a surge of the sea when impelled by the driving storm;
Nor knew that the God dwelt with me, there in leviathan’s form.

Lightness I had not till, decked with light plumes, He endued me with
speed—
Buoyant the hollow quill as the hollow stem of the reed!
And I gathered my food from the ooze, and builded my home at His word;
Nor knew that the God dwelt with me clothed in the garb of a bird.

I trod not the earth till on plains unmeasured He sent me to rove,
To taste of the sweetness of grass and the leaves of the summer grove.
For shelter He hollowed the cave; fresh springs in the rock He
unsealed;
But I knew not the God dwelt with me that ranged as a beast of the
field.
Foresight I had not, nor memory, nor vision that sweeps in the skies,
Till He made me man, and bade me uplift my marvelling eyes!
My hands I uplifted—my cries grew a prayer—on the green turf I knelt,
And knew that the God had dwelt with me wherever of old I had dwelt!

Wild is the life of the wave, and free is the life of the air,
And sweet is the life of the measureless pastures, unburdened of care;
They all have been mine, I upgather them all in the being of man,
Who knoweth, at last, that the God hath dwelt with him since all life
began!

My heritage draw I from these—I love tho’ I leave them behind;
But shall I not speak for the dumb, and lift up my sight for the
blind?
I am kin to the least that inhabits the air, the waters, the clod;
They wist not what bond is between us, they know not the Indwelling
God!
For under my hands alone the charactered Past hath He laid,
One moment to scan ere it fall like a scroll into ashes and fade!
Enough have I read to know and declare—my ways He willkeep,
If onward I go, or again in a fold of His garment I sleep!

There is no internal evidence in these strongly phrased and stirring
lines that a woman’s hand penned them; their vigor, grasp, and
resonant freedom of measure would do credit to Browning; and here one
may pause to observe the adaptability of Miss Thomas’ style to her
thought. In certain poems demanding the delicate airy touch, such as,
“Dew-Bells,” Titania herself could scarcely speak in lighter phrase,
nor could a tenderer, sweeter note be infused into a poem than has
been put into the lines: “The soul of the violet haunts me so,” or
into the poem incident to the query, “Is it Spring again in Ohio?”—but
when the thought demands virility of word and measure Miss Thomas has
a vivid energy of style, masculine in its force. One may argue that
there is no sex in poetry, that, coming close home for illustration, a
woman’s hand might have fashioned the work of Longfellow and Whittier;
but what of Lowell, Whitman, and Emerson? These names alone prove
sex-evidence in art; nor is any disparagement meant to Longfellow and
Whittier that their characteristic notes were of the gentler, sweeter
sort. We know they could be sufficiently robust upon occasion,
particularly the latter; but, in general, art obeys a temperamental
polarity giving evidence of the masculine or feminine mind that
produced it. Miss Thomas’ work in the main proves the woman, and the
typical woman, who has lived, suffered, joyed; drank, indeed, the
brimming beaker from the foam to the lees; but on her more
philosophical and intellectual side, in such poems as “The Voice of
the Laws,” or “The Flutes of the Gods” and in many others, she has all
a man’s virility. It is partly for this reason that her style is too
varied to be identified by a random poem, the temperamental
differences in the work are so marked, and the style changes so
entirely with them, as to elude classification under one head.

For one of her heartening notes and quick-step measures take
“Rank-And-File” from her last volume, _The Dancers_:

You might have painted that picture,
I might have written that song:
Not ours, but another’s, the triumph,
’Tis done and well done—so ’long!

You might have fought in the vanguard,
I might have struck at foul Wrong:
What matters whose hand was the foremost?
’Tis done and well done—so ’long!

So ’long, and into the darkness,
With the immemorial throng—
Foil to the few and the splendid:
All’s done and well done—so ’long!

Yet, as we pass, we will pledge them—
The bold, and the bright, and the strong,
(Ours was never black envy):
All’s done and well done—so ’long!

Miss Thomas is very keen to see what may be termed the subjectively
dramatic side of life,—all the subtlety of motive and impulse working
out of sight to shape the destiny, she sees with acute divination; but
constructively she lacks the dramatic touch. In “A Winter Swallow,”
her one definite incursion into this field, it cannot be said that she
has done such work as would represent her at her real value either in
the literary beauty of the lines, or in the insight displayed in the
characterization.

So short a dramatic effort, however, could scarcely do more than
indicate the likelihood or unlikelihood of Miss Thomas’ success in a
more sustained plot; and while a theme having in itself warmer
elements of sympathy would doubtless create for itself a more moving
and vital art, there is very little to indicate that the effort would
be wisely spent. One is inclined more fully to this opinion by the
lack of dramatic impulse in Miss Thomas’ narrative poem turning upon
the story of Genevra of the Amieri, she who woke by night from the
death-trance to find herself entombed in the powerful vault of her
ancestors, and, being spurned from her father’s and her husband’s
doors, as a haunting spirit, took refuge at that of her former lover,
to whom, being adjudged by the law as dead, she was reunited.

The mere skeleton of this story is palpitant with life; but in Miss
Thomas’ cultivated and beautiful recital, wherein the well-rounded,
suave pentameter falls never otherwise than richly on the ear, all the
vibrant, thrilling, terrifying elements of the story have been refined
away. When Genevra wakens in the tomb, and touches in the darkness the
human skeletons about her, and struggles to free herself from the
entangling cerements, and beats with superhuman strength at the
gratings until they yield to her hand, and to the outer stone until it
unseals at her terrified touch,—there are dramatic materials which
even history has infused with red blood; but either Miss Thomas does
not conceive the situation as having thrills and terrors, or has not
been able to impart them to her record, for she sums the matter up in
these two stanzas, illustrating, apparently, the Gentle Art of Being
Buried Alive:

And now she dreams she lies in marble rest
Within the Amieri’s chapel-tomb,
With hands laid idly on an idle breast.
How sweetly can the carven lilies bloom,
As they would soften her untimely doom….
Nay, living flowers are these that brush her cheek!
She starts awake amid the nether gloom,
From out dead swoon returning faint and weak;
No voice hath she, but none might hear her, could she speak.

Vaguely she reaches from her stony bed;
The blessed moonbeam, gliding underground,
Like angel ministrant from heaven sped,
To rescue one in frosty irons long bound,
Cheers her new-beating heart, till she has found
Recourse of memory and use of will.
Then soon her feet are on the ladder-round,
The stone above gives way to patient skill;
And now the wide night greets her, bright, and lone, and still.

The story of Genevra, as told by Miss Thomas, has often great beauty
of phrase, picturesque descriptive passages of Florentine life,
delicacy in the scene between the reunited lovers when Genevra seeks
Antonio’s gate, and fine pathos in the lines spoken by her father to
her supposed spirit returning to haunt him; in short, the poem has all
but the dramatic touch. The narrative force is lost in the poetic
elaboration.

But although Miss Thomas has not the outward art of the dramatist, she
has, as earlier stated, a keenly intuitive sense of the spiritually
dramatic in passing life. Upon love she has written with so keen a
psychology that certain of the poems probe to the quick of that source
of pain; for it is not the lighter phase, already so well celebrated,
that she sings, but oftener the fateful, the inexplicable. For
illustration, the poem, “They Said,” presents the caprice of love by
which (they say), it goes to those who hold it most lightly, spend it
most prodigally, flee it to entice it, and yet weave snares to detain
it. The thrust of these stanzas is as delicately keen as a rapier
point:

Because thy prayer hath never fed
Dark Atë with the food she craves;
Because thou dost not hate (they said),
Nor joy to step on foemen’s graves;
Because thou canst not hate, as we,
How poor a creature thou must be,
Thy veins as pale as ours are red!
Go to! Love loves thee not (they said).

Because by thee no snare was spread
To baffle Love—if Love should stray,
Because thou dost not watch (they said),
To strictly compass Love each way:
Because thou dost not watch, as we,
Nor jealous Care hath lodged with thee,
To strew with thorns a restless bed—
Go to! Love loves thee not (they said).

Because thy feet were not misled
To jocund ground, yet all infirm,
Because thou art not fond (they said),
Nor dost exact thine heyday term:
Because thou art not fond, as we,
How dull a creature thou must be,
Thy pulse how slow—yet shrewd thy head!
Go to! Love loves thee not (they said).

Because thou hast not roved to wed
With those to Love averse or strange,
Because thou hast not roved (they said),
Nor ever studied artful change:
Because thou hast not roved, as we,
Love paid no ransom rich for thee,
Nor, seeking thee, unwearied sped.
Go to! Love loves thee not (they said).

Ay, so! because thou thought’st to tread
Love’s ways, and all his bidding do,
Because thou hast not tired (they said),
Nor ever wert to Love untrue:
Because thou hast not tired, as we,
How tedious must thy service be;
Love with thy zeal is surfeited!
Go to! Love loves thee not (they said).

* * * * *

Every contradiction of passion is in this poem, and the very
refinement of satire, as well. In “The Domino,” Miss Thomas images,
with a pleasant humor, the various disguises under which one meets
Love, and symbolizes in “The Barrier” the infallible intuition, the
psychic sense, by which one feels a change not yet apparent.

“A Home-Thrust,” wherein the inconstant one betrays himself by his
doubt of another’s constancy, and “So It Was Decreed,” are also among
the psychological bits of delineation; but for the less penetrative
but sweeter and more memorable note, there are two short poems, “Vos
Non Vobis,” and “The Deep-Sea Pearl,” tender, human, sufficiently
universal to appeal to all and artistically wrought. The first records
that,

There was a garden planned in Spring’s young days,
Then, Summer held it in her bounteous hand;
And many wandered thro’ its blooming ways;
But ne’er the one for whom the work was planned.
And it was vainly done—
For what are many, if we lack the one?

There was a song that lived within the heart
Long time—and then on Music’s wing it strayed!
All sing it now, all praise its artless art;
But ne’er the one for whom the song was made.
And it was vainly done—
For what are many, if we lack the one?

The whole argument of Art versus Life is summed up in this poem. The
second lyric, of eight lines, is as delicate as the symbol it employs,
and globes within it, as the drop within the pearl, many a
life-history:

The love of my life came not
As love unto others is cast;
For mine was a secret wound—
But the wound grew a pearl, at last.

The divers may come and go,
The tides, they arise and fall;
The pearl in its shell lies sealed,
And the Deep Sea covers all.

It is in such poems as bring from the heart of life a certain poignant
strain that Miss Thomas is at her best. She is not a melancholy
singer, but her work is too deeply rooted in the pain and unrest of
life to be joyous. A certain longing, an almost impalpable sadness,
pervades much of her verse. Nevertheless, it is not so emphasized as
to be depressing, and, indeed, adds just the touch of personality by
which one treasures that which he feels has been fused in experience.
This pertains to the more intimate phases of Miss Thomas’ work. Upon
death she has written with deep feeling and insight,—feeling all too
vital to be analyzed, such as renders Spring the season

When that blithe, forerunning air
Breathes more hope than thou canst bear.

Nature is often, in her verse, as it must be to any sympathetic mind,
a keener source of pain than of pleasure, instinct as it is with
memories, and flaunting before one’s thwarted dreams the infallible
fulfilment of its hopes; yet she has for it an intense passion, and
enters into its most delicate and undefined moods with swift
comprehension.

“The Soul of the Violet,” previously referred to, is an illustration
in point, being a purely subjective treatment of a nature-suggestion.
When spring is yet too young for promise of bloom, and only in the
first respite from the snow,

The brown earth raises a wistful face—
Whenever about the fields I go,
The soul of the violet haunts me so!

I look—there is never a leaf to be seen;
In the pleachéd grass is no thread of green;
But I walk as one who would chide his feet
Lest they trample the hope of something sweet!
Here can no flower be blooming, I know—
Yet the soul of the violet haunts me so!

Again and again that thrilling breath,
Fresh as the life that is snatched out of death,
Keen as the blow that Love might deal
Lest a spirit in trance should outward steal—
So thrilling that breath, so vital that blow—
The soul of the violet haunts me so!

Is it the blossom that slumbers as yet
Under the leaf-mould dank and wet,

* * * * *

Or is it the flower shed long ago?
The soul of the violet haunts me so!

The subjective touch in the final couplet gives the key-note to the
poem.

Miss Thomas is indeed so subjective in her conception of some of the
profounder and more vital losses of life, the sense of the irrevocable
and irreparable is so keenly emphasized to her mind as to communicate
almost a hint of fatalism to certain of her poems, such as “Expiation”
and “A Far Cry To Heaven.” The latter is such an utterance, in its
impassioned tone, as might proceed from the lips of the Angel with the
Flaming Sword sent to bar one’s return to his desecrated Eden. The
ultimate effect of such a poem, however, is salutary, as the warning
outruns the scath, and one reading it will pay closer heed to the
import of the “white hour” of his life. On its technical side, the
poem has all the ease of an improvisation, and so at one are the metre
and thought that line succeeds line with a surge and a rhythm, as wave
follows wave to the shore:

What! dost thou pray that the outgone tide be rolled back on the
strand,
The flame be rekindled that mounted away from the smouldering brand,
The past-summer harvest flow golden through stubble-lands naked and
sere,
The winter-gray woods upgather and quicken the leaves of last year?—
Thy prayers are as clouds in a drouth; regardless, unfruitful, they
roll;
For this, that thou prayest vain things, ’tis a far cry to Heaven,
my soul,—
Oh, a far cry to Heaven!

Thou dreamest the word shall return, shot arrow-like into the air,
The wound in the breast where it lodged be balmed and closed for thy
prayer,
The ear of the dead be unsealed, till thou whisper a boon once
denied,
The white hour of life be restored, that passed thee unprized,
undescried!—
Thy prayers are as runners that faint, that fail, within sight of
the goal,
For this, that thou prayest fond things, ’tis a far cry to Heaven,
my soul,—
Oh, a far cry to Heaven!

And cravest thou fondly the quivering sands shall be firm to thy
feet,
The brackish pool of the waste to thy lips be made wholesome and
sweet?
And cravest thou subtly the bane thou desirest, be wrought to thy
good,
As forth from a poisonous flower a bee conveyeth safe food?
For this, that thou prayest ill things, thy prayers are an anger-rent
scroll;
The chamber of audit is closed,—’tis a far cry to Heaven, my soul,—
Oh, a far cry to Heaven!

For the strong, but aloe-tinctured draught of this poem, “Sursum
Corda” is the antidote. Here we have the same experience that went to
the making of the former poem, and touched it with bitterness, turned
to sweetness and a fervor of exaltation, when viewed from the hour of
illumination at the last. It is throughout a valiant, noble song, of
which the following lines show the spirit:

Up and rejoice, and know thou hast matter for revel, my heart!
Up and rejoice, not heeding if drawn or undrawn be the dart
Last winged by the Archer whose quiver is full for sweeter than thou,
That yet will sing out of the dust when the ultimate arrow shall bow.

* * * * *

Now thou couldst bless and God-speed, without bitterness bred in thine
heart,
Loves, that, outworn and time-wasted, were fain from thy lodge to
depart:
Though dulled by their passing, thy faith, like a flower upfolded by
night,
New kindness should quicken again, as a flower feels the touch of new
light.
Ay, now thou couldst love, undefeated, with ardor instinct from pure
Love,—
Warmed from a sun in the heavens that knows not beneath nor above,
Nor distance its patience to weary, nor substance unpierce by its ray.

* * * * *

Now couldst thou pity and smile, where once but the scourge thou
wouldst lay;
Now to thyself couldst show mercy, and up from all penance arise,
Knowing there runneth abroad a chastening flame from the skies.

Doubt not thou hast matter for revel, for once thou wouldst cage thee
in steel,
And, wounded, wouldst seek out the balm and the cordial cunning to
heal;
But now thou hast knowledge more sovran, more kind, than leech-craft
can wield:
Never Design sent thee forth to be safe from the scath of the field,
But bade thee stand bare in the midst, and offer free way to all scath
Piercing thee inly—so only might Song have an outgoing path.

* * * * *

But now ’tis not thine to bestow, to abide, or be known in thy place;
Withdraweth the voice into silence, dissolveth the form and the face.
Death—Life thou discernest! Enlarged as thou art, thy ground thou must
shift!
Love over-liveth. Throb thou forth quickly. Heart, be uplift!

The hard-won philosophy of nearly all lives is summed up in these
stanzas, pregnant therefore with suggestion to those who have the
untrodden way before them, and full of uplift to those who have the
course behind them, and view it in retrospect as but “a stuff to try
the soul’s strength on.”

Not only in this poem, but throughout her work, the evolution of Miss
Thomas’ philosophy of life is marked, had one time to trace its
growing significance. She has sounded many stops, touched many keys of
feeling and thought, so that one may do no more in a brief comment
than suggest the various phases of her widely inclusive song.