Max Eastman (1883-1969)

From Child of the Amazons and Other Poems (1913)

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Autumn Landscape

The sad light sayeth how all Autumn grieves,
And how this rainy mist in heaven high
Doth wake the sorrowings that deepest lie.
Behold the silent forms shorn of their leaves,
The elm, the maple, and the antique oak--
With gestures sorrowful they pray the sky.
Behold the rain-pools where the brown leaves soak,
And the same mournful branches mirrored lie.
See how the sensuous mist, cool-smelling, slips
Like a wilful garment down from those wet limbs
Which will be gracious to the singing lips
Of the expected wind!--For he will come!
I hear him waken as the twilight dims,
And my heart quickens, and my words are dumb!

"The passions of a child attend his dreams"

The passions of a child attend his dreams.
He lives, loves, hopes, remembers, is forlorn,
For legendary creatures, whom he deems
Not too unreal--until one golden morn
The gracious, all-awaking sun shines in
Upon his tranquil pillow, and his eyes
Are touched, and opened greatly, and begin
To drink reality with rich surprise.

I loved the impetuous souls of ancient story--
Heroic characters, kings, queens, whose wills
Like empires rose, achieved, and fell, in glory.
I was a child--until the radiant dawn,
Thy beauty, woke me. O thy spirit fills
The stature of those heroes, they are gone!

To a Meadow Lark

When the enkindling spring upon the lea
Was quenched with water, and the rainy throng
Of clouds perpetual had drowned her song--
Still thou didst lift thy heart and float to me,
Over the mist, thy lonely melody!
O swell again the throat, and thrill the tongue,
And rouse, and ravish with thy passion young,
The adoring air that drinks thine ecstasy!
She hides her beauty in the wavy shroud
Of April's swift and half-translucent cloud--
My love is lost in a more heavy shadow!
My love is buried in the arms of grief!
O send to her across the mourning meadow
That brighter sorrow thine--that music brief!

To an Early Riser

The eastern hill hath scarce unveiled his head,
And the deliberate sky hath but begun
To meditate upon a future sun,
When thou dost rise from thy impatient bed.
Thy morning prayer unto the stars is said.
And not unlike a child, the penance done
Of sleep, thou goest to thy serious fun,
Exuberant--yet with a whisper tread!

And when that lord doth to the world appear,
The jovial sun, he leans on his old hill,
And levels forth to thee a golden smile--
Thee in his garden, where each warming year
Thou toilest in all joy with him, to fill
And flood the soil with Summer for a while.

"As the crag eagle to the zenith's height"

As the crag eagle to the zenith's height
Wings his pursuit in his exalted hour,
Of her the tempest-reared, whose airy power
Of plume and passion challengeth his flight
To that wild altitude where they unite,
In mutual tumultuous victory
And the swift sting of natures ecstasy,
Their shuddering pinions and their skyward might--
As they, the strong, to the full height of heaven
Bear up that joy which to the strong is given,
Thus, thus do we, whose stormy spirits quiver
In the bold air of utter liberty,
Clash equal at our highest, I and thee,
Unconquered and unconquering forever!