RICHARD HOVEY was a poet of convictions rather than of fancies, in
which regard he overtopped many of his contemporaries who were content
to be “enamored architects of airy rhyme.” Hovey was himself a skilful
architect of rhyme, an imaginative weaver of fancy; but these were not
ends, he does not stand primarily for them. He stands for comradeship;
for taking vows of one’s own soul; for alliance with the shaping
spirit of things; for a sane, wholesome, lusty manhood; a hearty,
confident surrender to life.
He is the poet of positivism, virile, objective, and personal to a
Whitmanesque degree, and answers to many of the qualifications laid
down by Whitman for the testing of an American poet. His performance
is eminently of the sort to “face the open fields and the seaside;” it
does “absorb into one;” it “animates to life,” and it is of the
people. It answers also to the query, “Have you vivified yourself from
the maternity of these States?” for Hovey was an American of the
Americans, and his patriotic poems are instinct with national pride,
though one may dissent from certain of his opinions upon war.
Hovey, to the degree of his development when his hand was stayed, was
a finely balanced man and artist. The purely romantic motives which
form the entire basis, for example, of Stephen Phillips’ work, and
thus render him a poet of the cultured classes and not of the people,
were foreign to the spirit of Hovey. He, too, was recasting in
dramatic form some of beauty’s imperishable traditions; but this was
only one phase of his art, it did not cause him to approach his own
time with less of sympathy; and while he had not yet come deeply into
the prophet gifts of song, their potency was upon him, and in the
Odes, which contain some of his strongest writing, his passion for
brotherhood, for development through comradeship, finds splendid
expression. In the best known of his odes, “Spring,” occurs this
For surely in the blind deep-buried roots
Of all men’s souls to-day
A secret quiver shoots.
* * * * *
The darkness in us is aware
Of something potent burning through the earth,
Of something vital in the procreant air.
It is in this ode, with the exception of his visioning of “Night” in
_Last Songs from Vagabondia_, that the influence of Whitman upon Hovey
comes out most prominently; that is, the influence of manner. The
really vital influence is one much less easily demonstrated, but no
less apparent to a student of both poets. It is not of the sort,
however, to detract from the originality of Hovey, but rather an
intensifying of his characteristics, a focalizing of his powers, and
is in accordance with Whitman’s declaration that
“He most honors my style
Who learns under it to destroy the teacher.”
Hovey’s own nature was so individual that he rarely failed to destroy
the teacher, or he was perhaps unconscious of having one; but in the
opening lines of the ode in question the Whitman note is unmistakable:
I said in my heart, “I am sick of four walls and a ceiling.
I have need of the sky.
I have business with the grass.
I will up and get me away where the hawk is wheeling,
Lone and high,
And the slow clouds go by.
* * * * *
Spring, like a huntsman’s boy,
Halloos along the hillsides and unhoods
The falcon in my will.
The dogwood calls me, and the sudden thrill
That breaks in apple blooms down country roads
Plucks me by the sleeve and nudges me away.
The sap is in the boles to-day,
And in my veins a pulse that yearns and goads.”
Could volumes of conventional nature poetry set one a-tingle like
this? The crowning excellence of Hovey’s nature poems is that they are
never reports, they do not describe with far-sought imagery, but are
as personal as a poem of love or other emotion. Such passionate
surrender, such intimate delight as finds expression, for example, in
“The Faun,” could scarcely be more communicative and direct. It
becomes at once our own mood, an interchange which is the test of art:
… And I plunge in the wood, and the swift soul cleaves
Through the swirl and the flow of the leaves,
As a swimmer stands with his white limbs bare to the sun
For the space that a breath is held, and drops in the sea;
And the undulant woodland folds round me, intimate, fluctuant, free,
Like the clasp and the cling of waters, and the reach and the effort
There is only the glory of living, exultant to be.
In such words as these one loses thought of the merely picturesque,
their infection takes hold upon him, particularly in that line
befitting the forest spirit as a garment, in which
The undulant woodland folds round me, intimate, fluctuant, free,—
a line wherein the idea, feeling, movement, and diction are wholly at
one. It is impossible for Richard Hovey to be aloof and analytical in
any phase of his work, and when he writes of nature it is as the
comrade to whom she is a mystic personality. A stanza of “The Faun”
illustrates this; still in the wood, he asks:
Oh, what is it breathes in the air?
Oh, what is it touches my cheek?
There’s a sense of a presence that lurks in the branches.
Is it far, is it far to seek?
The first two collections of the _Vagabondia_ books contain Hovey’s
most spontaneous nature verse; they have also some of the lyrics by
which he will be known when such a rollicking stave as “Barney McGee,”
at which one laughs as a boyish exuberance, is forgotten. The quips of
rhyme and fancy that enliven the pages of the earlier volumes give
place, in the _Last Songs_, to a note of seriousness and artistic
purpose which sets the collection to an entirely different key; not
that the work is uniformly superior to that of the former songs, but
it is more earnest in tone; dawn is giving place to noon.
From the second collection may be cited one of the lyric inspirations
that sometimes came to Hovey, all warmth and color, as if fashioned
complete in a thought. It is called “A Sea Gypsy,” and the first of
its quatrains, though perhaps not more than the others, has a haunting
I am fevered with the sunset,
I am fretful with the bay,
For the wander-thirst is on me
And my soul is in Cathay.
There’s a schooner in the offing,
With her topsails shot with fire,
And my heart has gone aboard her
For the Islands of Desire.
I must forth again to-morrow!
With the sunset I must be
Hull down on the trail of rapture
In the wonder of the sea.
Aside from the dramas, and the noble elegy, “Seaward,” Hovey’s most
representative work is found in his collection, _Along the Trail_,
which opens with a group of battle-hymns inspired by the
Spanish-American war. With the exception of “Unmanifest Destiny,” and
occasional trumpet notes from the poem called “Bugles,” these
battle-songs are more or less perfunctory, nor are they ethically the
utterance of a prophet. There is the old assumption that because war
has ever been, it ever will be; that because the sword has been the
instrument of progress in past world-crises, it is the divinely chosen
arbiter. There is nothing of that development of man that shall find a
higher way, no visioning of a world-standard to which nations shall
conform; it is rather the celebration of brawn, as in the sonnet
“America.” The jubilant note of his call of the “Bugles,” however,
thrills with passionate pride in his country as the deliverer of the
weak, for the ultimate idea in Hovey’s mind was his country’s
altruism; but, as a whole, the battle-songs lack the larger vision and
are unequal in workmanship, falling constantly into the commonplace
from some flight of lyric beauty. The best of them, and a worthy best,
both in conception and in its dignified simplicity, is “Unmanifest
Destiny,” which follows:
To what new fates, my country, far
And unforeseen of foe or friend,
Beneath what unexpected star,
Compelled to what unchosen end,
Across the sea that knows no beach
The Admiral of Nations guides
Thy blind obedient keels to reach
The harbor where thy future rides!
The guns that spoke at Lexington
Knew not that God was planning then
The trumpet word of Jefferson
To bugle forth the rights of men.
To them that wept and cursed Bull Run,
What was it but despair and shame?
Who saw behind the cloud the sun?
Who knew that God was in the flame?
Had not defeat upon defeat,
Disaster on disaster come,
The slave’s emancipated feet
Had never marched behind the drum.
There is a Hand that bends our deeds
To mightier issues than we planned,
Each son that triumphs, each that bleeds,
My country, serves Its dark command.
I do not know beneath what sky
Nor on what seas shall be thy fate;
I only know it shall be high,
I only know it shall be great.
Hovey’s themes are widely diverse, but they are always of the
essential purports. He seems not only integral with nature, but
integral with man in his ardor of sympathy for his fellows, and the
swift understanding of all that makes for achievement or defeat. He
had the splendid nonchalance that met everything with confident ease,
and made his relation to life like that of an athlete trained to
prevail. Not to be servile, not to be negative, not to be vague,—these
are some of the notes of his stirring song. Even in love there is a
characteristic dash and _verve_, a celebration of comradeship as the
keynote of the relation, that makes it possible for him to write this
sonnet, so refreshing and wholesome, and so far removed from the
mawkish or effeminate:
When I am standing on a mountain crest,
Or hold the tiller in the dashing spray,
My love of you leaps foaming in my breast,
Shouts with the winds and sweeps to their foray;
My heart bounds with the horses of the sea,
And plunges in the wild ride of the night,
Flaunts in the teeth of tempest the large glee
That rides out Fate and welcomes gods to fight.
Ho, love, I laugh aloud for love of you,
Glad that our love is fellow to rough weather,—
No fretful orchid hothoused from the dew,
But hale and hardy as the highland heather,
Rejoicing in the wind that stings and thrills,
Comrade of ocean, playmate of the hills.
And that other sonnet, “Faith and Fate,” with its Valkyr spirit, and
its words like ringing hoofbeats:
To horse, my dear, and out into the night!
Stirrup and saddle and away, away!
Into the darkness, into the affright,
Into the unknown on our trackless way!
And closing with one of his finest lines—
East, to the dawn, or west or south or north!
_Loose rein upon the neck of Fate—and forth!_
What valor in that line—“Loose rein upon the neck of Fate—and forth!”
This is the typical mood, but I cannot refrain, before considering the
last phase of his work, the dramas, from quoting another sonnet in
another mood, because of its beauty and its revelation of the
spiritual side of his nature:
My love for thee doth take me unaware,
When most with lesser things my brain is wrought,
As in some nimble interchange of thought
The silence enters, and the talkers stare.
Suddenly I am still and thou art there,
A viewless visitant and unbesought,
And all my thinking trembles into nought,
And all my being opens like a prayer.
Thou art the lifted Chalice in my soul,
And I a dim church at the thought of thee;
Brief be the moment, but the mass is said,
The benediction like an aureole
Is on my spirit, and shuddering through me
A rapture like the rapture of the dead.
“The Quest of Merlin,” Hovey’s first incursion into drama, and indeed
one of his earliest works, having been issued in 1891, is most
illustrative of his defects and least of his distinctions. It is
unnecessary to the subsequent dramas, though serving as an
introduction to them, and has in itself very little constructive
congruity. In the songs of the fairies, the dryads, the maenads, there
is often a delicate airy beauty; but the metrical lapses throughout
the drama are so frequent as to detract from one’s pleasure in the
verse. This criticism is much less apposite to the subsequent works of
Hovey’s Arthurian dramas must be judged by the manner rather than
motif, by the situations through which he develops the well-known
story, and the dramatic beauty and passion of the dialogue, since the
theme is his only as he makes it his by the art of his adaptation. He
has given us the Arthur of Malory, and not of Tennyson, the Arthur of
a certain early intrigue with Morgance, the Queen of Orkney, outlived
in all save its effect, that of bitterness and envy cherished by her
against the young Queen Guinevere, and made use of as one of the
motives of the drama.
While Tennyson’s Arthur, until the final great scene with Guinevere in
the convent, and Bedivere by the lake, has a lay-figure personality,
placidly correct, but unconvincing,—in these scenes, and in the
general ideal of the Round Table, as developed by Tennyson, there is
such profound spiritual beauty that Arthur has come to dwell in a
nebulous upper air, as of the gods. It is a shock, then, to see him
brought down to earth, as he is in Hovey’s dramas. However, the lapses
are but referred to as incidental to the plot, not occurring during
its action, and Arthur becomes to us a human, magnanimous personality,
commanding sympathy, if he does not dominate the imagination as does
Tennyson’s hero. The handicap under which any poet labors who makes
use of these legends, even though vitalizing them with a new touch,
and approaching them from a new standpoint, is that the Tennyson
touch, the Tennyson standpoint, has so impressed itself upon the
memory that comparison is inevitable.
The fateful passion of Lancelot and Guinevere is enveloped by Tennyson
in a spiritual atmosphere; but in the dramas of Hovey, while
delicately approached, it lacks that elevation by which alone it lives
as a soul-tragedy, and not as an intrigue. There is, indeed, a strife
for loyalty on the part of Lancelot, when he returns from a chivalrous
quest and learns that the King’s bride is his unknown Lady of the
Hills; but it is soon overborne by Galahault’s assurance that Arthur
is to Guinevere—
A mere indifferent, covenanted thing,
and that she
Is as virgin of the thought of love
As winter is of flowers.
Ere this declaration, Lancelot, in conflict with himself, had
Oh, Galahault, for love of my good name,
Pluck out your sword and kill me, for I see
Whate’er I do it will be violence—
To soul or body, others or myself!
But to Galahault’s subtle arguments he opposes an ever-weakening will,
and seeing the Queen walking in the garden, exquisite in beauty,
As if a rose grew on a lily’s stem,
So blending passionate life and stately mien,—
he is persuaded to seek her, and, ere the close of the interview, half
confessions have orbed to full acknowledgment by each. The scene is
artistically handled, especially in the ingenuous simplicity of
Hovey occasionally makes the mistake of robbing some vital utterance
of its dramatic value by interlarding it with ornament. True emotion
is not literary, and Guinevere, meeting Lancelot alone at the lodge of
Galahault, for the first time after their mutual confession, having
come hither disguised and by a perilous course, would scarcely have
chosen these decorative words:
Oh, do not jar with speech
This perfect chord of silence!—Nay, there needs
Thy throat’s deep music. Let thy lips drop words
Like pearls between thy kisses;
and Lancelot, of the overmastering passion, would scarcely have
babbled this reply:
Thy speech breaks
Against the interruption of my lips
Like the low laughter of a summer brook
Over perpetual pebbles.
But when the crisis of the play is reached, when the court is rife
with rumors of the Queen’s disloyalty, and Lancelot and Guinevere,
under imminent shadow of exposure, meet by chance in the throne
room,—there is drawn a vital, moving picture, one whose art lies in
revealing the swift transition from impulse to impulse through which
one passes when making great decisions. First, the high light is
thrown upon the stronger side of Guinevere, in such meditative
passages as these, tinged with a melancholy beauty:
We have had a radiant dream; we have beheld
The trellises and temples of the South,
And wandered in the vineyards of the Sun:—
’Tis morning now; the vision fades away
And we must face the barren norland hills.
_Lancelot._ And must this be?
_Guinevere._ Nay, Lancelot, it is.
How shall we stand alone against the world?
_Lancelot._ More lonely in it than against!
What’s the world to us?
_Guinevere._ The place in which we live.
We cannot slip it from us like a garment,
For it is like the air—if we should flee
To the remotest steppes of Tartary,
Arabia, or the sources of the Nile,—
It still is there, nor can it be eluded
Save in the airless emptiness of death.
And fortressed with resolve, she speaks of war, of rending the
kingdom, of violating friendships, of desecrating the family bond, to
all of which Lancelot opposes his own desires:
I, too, defend it when it _is_ a family,
As I would kneel before the sacred Host
When through the still aisles sounds the sacring bell;
But if a jester strutted through the forms
And turned the holy Mass into a mock,
Would I still kneel, or would I rise in anger
And make an end of that foul mimicry?
This but adds strength to Guinevere’s argument,
Believest thou, then, the power of the Church?
The Church would give our love an ugly name.
_Lancelot._ Faith, I believe, and I do not believe.
The shocks of life oft startle us to thought,
Rouse us from acquiescence and reveal
That what we took for credence was but custom.
_Guinevere._ You are Arthur’s friend, your love—
Stands this within the honor of your friendship?
_Lancelot._ Mother of God—have you no pity?
_Guinevere._ I would
I could be pitiful, and yet do right.
Alas, how heavy—your tears move me more
Than all—(what am I saying? Dare I trust
So faint a heart? I must make turning back
and with a final resolve she adds:
But know the worst! I jested—
I—God!—I do not love you. Go! ’Twas all
Mockery—wanton cruelty—what you will—lechery!—
(_Lancelot looks at her dumbly, then slowly turns to go. As he draws
aside the curtain of the doorway_—)
_Lancelot._ What does the Queen desire?
_Guinevere._ Oh, no, I am not the Queen—I am
Take me away with you! Let me not lie
To you, of all—my whole life is a lie,
To one, at least, let it be truth. I—I—
O Lancelot, do you not understand?
I love you—Oh, I cannot let you go!
This swift change of front, this weakening, this inconsistency, is yet
so human, so subtly true to life, under such a phase of it, that the
entire scene vibrates with emotion which gathers force in the
declaration of Guinevere:
Love, I will fly with thee where’er thou wilt!
and reaches its climax in the sudden strength with which Lancelot
meets the Queen’s weakness. During her pleading that he should leave
her, his selfish wish had been uppermost; but her weakness recalls him
to himself and evokes his latent loyalty to the King:
Speak not of flight; I have played him
False—the King, my friend.
I ne’er can wipe that smirch away.
At least I will not add a second shame
And blazon out the insult to the world.
And Guinevere, casting about for her own justification, replies:
What I have given thee was ne’er another’s.
How has another, then, been wronged?
To which Lancelot:
Is done, nor right nor wrong, as help me, Heaven,
Would I undo it if I could. But more
I will not do. I will not be the Brutus
To stab with mine own hand my dearest friend.
It must suffice me that you love me, sweet,
And sometime, somewhere, somehow must be mine.
I know not—it may be in some dim land
Beyond the shadows, where the King himself,
Still calling me his friend, shall place your hand
In my hand, saying, “She was always thine.”
No surplusage, no interposition of the merely literary, cumbers this
scene, which immediately precedes the final one, in which Lancelot and
the Queen are publicly accused before the King, sitting with Guinevere
beside him on the throne.
The opportunity for a great dramatic effect is obvious; but through
the magnanimity of Arthur, in waiving the impeachment, and exonerating
from suspicion the Queen and Lancelot, the effect is not of the clash
and din order, in fact, it is anti-climax in action, the real climax
being a spiritual one whose subtlety would be lost on the average
Lancelot (half aside, partly to Guinevere and partly to himself):
Be less kingly, Arthur,
Or you will split my heart—not with remorse—
No, not remorse, only eternal pain!
Why, so the damned are!
Guinevere (half apart):
To the souls in hell
It is at least permitted to cry out.
Whatever one may think of the ethical side of the play as wrought out
by Hovey, there is no question of its human element. As a whole, “The
Marriage of Guenevere” leaves upon one a more concrete and vital
impression than do the other dramas of the cycle, though it has less
of action and intricacy of plot than the succeeding one, “The Birth of
Galahad,” and would probably, for stage purposes, be less effective.
The action of the latter play takes place chiefly with Arthur’s army
occupied in the siege of Rome, and unfolds an ingenious plot, turning
upon the capture of Dagonet, the Queen’s jester, who has been sent
with a letter to Lancelot, informing him of the birth of his son, and
announcing that Guinevere, having left the child with her friend, the
Princess Ylen, had set out to join the army. The Romans at once
conceive the plan of holding Dagonet; capturing the Queen for the
palace of Caesar; and giving to Lancelot the alternative of forsaking
Arthur, placing himself at the head of the army and becoming tributary
king of Britain, with Guinevere as his queen; or of being publicly
dishonored by the conveyance to Arthur of the incriminating letter.
All of which was artfully planned, and might have been executed as
artfully, had not Dagonet, the jester, in an act of jugglery, stolen
the Emperor’s cloak and escaped, and, in the guise of a scrivener,
attached himself to the service of a young poet of Caesar’s household.
Guinevere is captured by the Romans, and after many unsuccessful
machinations on Caesar’s part to subdue her to his will, and on the
part of his advisers to win Lancelot to their ends, the letter, which
may, according to the law of Britain, bring death to the Queen and
banishment to Lancelot, is given to Dagonet to copy for Caesar, and is
burned by the jester with the taper given him to heat the waxen
tablet. Then comes on apace the sacking of Rome by Arthur; the taking
of the city; the rescue of Guinevere by Lancelot; the slaying of
Caesar and the crowning of Arthur as Emperor of Rome with Guinevere as
Empress. The scene closes with the entrance of a messenger with
letters from Merlin, to Arthur and Guinevere, scanning which the Queen
says apart to Lancelot:
All’s well with him.
Thus ends the drama, again with no suspicion on the part of Arthur
that his faith has been betrayed, and with no remorse on the part of
Guinevere at having betrayed it, only increasing joy in the love of
Lancelot. It is Lancelot himself who has the conflict, and in his
character lies the strength of the drama.
It is evident that Hovey intended to create a flesh-and-blood Arthur,
to eliminate the sanctimonious and retain the ideal; but the task
proved too difficult, and after opening the reader’s eyes to the human
weaknesses of the King, thereby inflicting a shock, he returns to the
other extreme, lifts him again into upper air, and leaves him abstract
and unconvincing. Lancelot, on the contrary, if too palpably human at
the start, grows into a more spiritual ideal, and when for the first
time he meets Guinevere transfigured with maternal joy, he greets her
with these exquisite words:
How great a mystery you seem to me
I cannot tell. You seem to have become
One with the tides and night and the unknown.
My child … your child … whence come? By
What strange forge
Wrought of ourselves and dreams and the great deep
Into a life? I feel as if I stood
Where God had passed by, leaving all the place
Aflame with him.
And again he says,
The strangeness is
That I, who have not borne him, am aware,
I, too, of intimacy with his soul.
The dramas abound in quotable passages, nor are they lacking in those
that make the judicious grieve. The work is unequal; but as a whole it
lives in the imagination, and remains in the memory, especially “The
Marriage of Guenevere,” in that twilight of the mind where dwell all
mystic shapes of hapless lovers.
The last of the dramatic cycle, “The Masque of Taliesin,” is regarded
by most of Mr. Hovey’s critics as the high-water mark of his verse,
and it has certainly some of the purest song of his pen, and
profoundest in thought and conception; but it has also passages of
unresolved metaphysics, whose place, unless the poet had the patience
to shape them to a finer issue, should be in a Greek philosophy.
The Masque turns upon the quest of the Graal by Percival, and is in
three scenes, or movements, set in the forest of Broceliande, Helicon,
and the Chapel of the Graal. It introduces the Muses, Merlin, Apollo,
Nimue, King Evelac, guardian of the Graal, and lesser mortals and
deities, but chief in interest, Taliesin, a bard, through whom are
spoken the finest passages of the play. As the work is cast in the
form of a Masque, to obviate the need of adhering to a strict dramatic
structure, one may dispense with a summary of its slight plot, and
look, instead, at the verse.
The passages spoken by Apollo to Taliesin, in other words, Inspiration
defining itself to the poet, are full of glowing thought:
Greaten thyself to the end, I am he for whose breath thou art
Perfect thy speech to a god’s, I am he for whom speech is made
And my voice in the hush of thy heart is the voice of the tides of
Thou shalt know it is I when I speak, as the foot knows the rock that
it treads on,
As the sea knows the moon, as the sap knows the place of the sun in
As the cloud knows the cloud it must meet and embrace with caresses
When thou hearest my voice, thou art one with the hurl of the stars
through the void,
One with the shout of the sea and the stampede of droves of the wind,
One with the coursers of Time and the grip of God’s hand on their
And the powers of the night and the grave shall avail not to stand
in thy path.
Genius and its invincible assurance could scarcely be defined better
than in this passage.
The Masque contains a litany spoken by King Evelac, and responded to
by the choristers at the Chapel of Graal, which is one of its
achievements, in point of beauty, though too long to quote, and lyrics
of great delicacy are scattered throughout the work; but in the more
spiritual passages, spoken chiefly by Taliesin, one gets the finer
quality of the verse, as in this noble query addressed to Uriel, the
angel who holds the flaming sword before the Graal:
Thou who beholdest God continually,
Doth not his light shine even on the blind
Who feel the flood they lack the sense to see?
The lark that seeks him in the summer sky
Finds there the great blue mirror of his soul;
Winged with the dumb need of he knows not what,
He finds the mute speech of he knows not whom.
Is not the wide air, after the cocoon,
As much God as the moth-soul can receive?
Doth not God give the child within the womb
Some guess to set him groping for the world,
Some blurred reflection answering his desire?
We, shut in this blue womb of doming sky,
Guess and grope dimly for the vast of God,
And, eyeless, through some vague, less perfect sense,
Strive for a sign of what it is to see.
Had one space to follow Mr. Hovey’s philosophy in the more
metaphysical passages, though fashioned less artistically, the
individuality of his thought in its subtler and more speculative
phases would be revealed, but to trace it adequately one must needs
have the volume before him, rather than such extracts as may be given
in a brief study. I must therefore, in taking leave of his work,
content myself with citing the exultant lines with which the volume
closes, the splendid death-song lifting one on the wave of its
Unaware as the air of the light that fills full all its girth,
Yet crowds not an atom of air from its place to make way;
Growing from splendor to splendor, from birth to birth,
As day to the rose of dawn from the earlier gray;
As day from the sunrise gold to the luminous mirth
Of morning, and brighter and brighter, till noon shall be;
Intense as the cling of the sun to the lips of the earth,
And cool as the call of a wind on the still of the sea,
Joy, joy, joy in the height and the deep;
Joy like the joy of a leaf that unfolds to the sun;
Joy like the joy of a child in the borders of sleep;
Joy like the joy of a multitude thrilled into one.
* * * * *
Stir in the dark of the stars unborn that desire
Only the thrill of a wild, dumb force set free,
Yearn of the burning heart of the world on fire
For life and birth and battle and wind and sea,
Groping of life after love till the spirit aspire,
Into Divinity ever transmuting the clod,
Higher and higher and higher and higher and higher
Out of the Nothingness world without end into God.
Man from the blindness attaining the succor of sight,
God from his glory descends to the shape we can see;
Life, like a moon, is a radiant pearl in the night
Thrilled with his beauty to beacon o’er forest and sea;
Life, like a sacrifice laid on the altar, delight
Kindles as flame from the air to be fire at its core!
Joy, joy, joy in the deep and the height!
Joy in the holiest, joy evermore, evermore!