John Vance Cheney (1848-1922)

From Thistle-Drift (1887)


Take of the maiden's and the mother's sigh,
Of childhood's dream, and hope that age doth bless,
Of roses and the south wind's tenderness,
Of fir-tree's shadow, tint of sunset sky,
Of moon on meadow where the stream runs by,
Of lover's kiss, his diffident caress,
Of blue eyes' yellow, brown eyes' darker, tress,
Of echoes from the morning bird on high,
Of passion of all pulses of the Spring,
Of prayer from every death-bed of the Fall,
Of joy and woe that sleep and waking bring,
Of tremor of each blood-beat great and small;
Now, pour into the empty soul each thing,
And let His finger touch that moveth all.

(Text from American Sonnets)

The Skillful Listener

The skillful listener, methinks, may hear
The grass blades clash in suny field together,
The roses kissing, and the lily, whether
It laugh or sigh low in the summer's ear,
The jewel dew-bells of the mead ring clear
When morning's nearing in the sweet June weather;
The flocked hours winging, feather unto feather,
The last leaf wail at waning of the year.
Methinks, from these we catch a passing song,
(The best of verities, perhaps, but seem),
Hearing, forsooth, shy Nature, on her round,
When least she imagines it; birds, wood, and stream
Not only, but her silences profound,
Surprised by softer footfall of our dream.

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