2 A silver ring that he had beaten out 3 From that same sacred coin--first well-priz'd wage 4 For boyish labour, kept thro' many years. 5 "See, Kate," he said, "I had no skill to shape 6 Two hearts fast bound together, so I grav'd 7 Just K. and M., for Katie and for Max." 8 "But, look; you've run the lines in such a way, 9 That M. is part of K., and K. of M.," 10 Said Katie, smiling. "Did you mean it thus? 11 I like it better than the double hearts." 12 "Well, well," he said, "but womankind is wise! 13 Yet tell me, dear, will such a prophecy 14 Not hurt you sometimes, when I am away? 15 Will you not seek, keen ey'd, for some small break 16 In those deep lines, to part the K. and M. 17 For you? Nay, Kate, look down amid the globes 18 Of those large lilies that our light canoe 19 Divides, and see within the polish'd pool 20 That small, rose face of yours,--so dear, so fair,-- 21 A seed of love to cleave into a rock, 23 Before its subtle strength. I being gone-- 24 Poor soldier of the axe--to bloodless fields, 25 (Inglorious battles, whether lost or won) 26 That sixteen summer'd heart of yours may say: 27 "I but was budding, and I did not know 28 My core was crimson and my perfume sweet; 29 I did not know how choice a thing I am; 30 I had not seen the sun, and blind I sway'd 31 To a strong wind, and thought because I sway'd, 32 'Twas to the wooer of the perfect rose-- 33 That strong, wild wind has swept beyond my ken-- 34 The breeze I love sighs thro' my ruddy leaves," 35 "O, words!" said Katie, blushing, "only words! 36 You build them up that I may push them down; 37 If hearts are flow'rs, I know that flow'rs can root-- 38 Bud, blossom, die--all in the same lov'd soil; 39 They do so in my garden. I have made 40 Your heart my garden. If I am a bud 41 And only feel unfoldment--feebly stir 42 Within my leaves; wait patiently; some June, 43 I'll blush a full-blown rose, and queen it, dear, 44 In your lov'd garden. Tho' I be a bud, 45 My roots strike deep, and torn from that dear soil 47 Of in your quaint old books. Are you content?" 48 "Yes--crescent-wise--but not to round, full moon. 49 Look at yon hill that rounds so gently up 50 From the wide lake; a lover king it looks, 51 In cloth of gold, gone from his bride and queen; 52 And yet delay'd, because her silver locks 53 Catch in his gilded fringes; his shoulders sweep 54 Into blue distance, and his gracious crest, 55 Not held too high, is plum'd with maple groves;-- 56 One of your father's farms. A mighty man, 57 Self-hewn from rock, remaining rock through all." 58 "He loves me, Max," said Katie: "Yes, I know-- 59 A rock is cup to many a crystal spring. 60 Well, he is rich; those misty, peak-roof'd barns-- 62 Are full of ingots, shaped like grains of wheat. 64 Have monarchs worshipful, as was the calf 66 Like Genii chained, snort o'er his mighty fields. 67 He has a voice in Council and in Church--" 68 "He work'd for all," said Katie, somewhat pain'd. 69 "Aye, so, dear love, he did; I heard him tell 70 How the first field upon his farm was ploughed. 71 He and his brother Reuben, stalwart lads, 72 Yok'd themselves, side by side, to the new plough; 73 Their weaker father, in the grey of life 74 (But rather the wan age of poverty 75 Than many winters), in large, gnarl'd hands 76 The plunging handles held; with mighty strains 78 Thro' tortuous lanes of blacken'd, smoking stumps; 79 And past great flaming brush heaps, sending out 80 Fierce summers, beating on their swollen brows. 81 O, such a battle! had we heard of serfs 82 Driven to like hot conflict with the soil, 83 Armies had march'd and navies swiftly sail'd 85 The polish'd di'mond pivot on which spins 86 The wheel of Difference--they O WN'D the rugged soil, 87 And fought for love--dear love of wealth and pow'r, 88 And honest ease and fair esteem of men; 89 One's blood heats at it!" "Yet you said such fields 90 Were all inglorious," Katie, wondering, said. 91 "Inglorious? yes; they make no promises 93 That tell the earth her warriors are dead. 94 Inglorious! aye, the battle done and won 95 Means not--a throne propp'd up with bleaching bones; 96 A country sav'd with smoking seas of blood; 97 A flag torn from the foe with wounds and death; 98 Or Commerce, with her housewife foot upon 99 Colossal bridge of slaughter'd savages, 100 The Cross laid on her brawny shoulder, and 101 In one sly, mighty hand her reeking sword; 102 And in the other all the woven cheats 103 From her dishonest looms. Nay, none of these. 104 It means--four walls, perhaps a lowly roof; 106 A man and woman standing hand in hand 107 In hale old age, who, looking o'er the land, 108 Say: `Thank the Lord, it all is mine and thine!' 110 As your own father;--well, it means, sweet Kate, 111 Outspreading circles of increasing gold, 112 A name of weight; one little daughter heir, 113 Who must not wed the owner of an axe, 114 Who owns naught else but some dim, dusky woods 115 In a far land; two arms indifferent strong--" 116 "And Katie's heart," said Katie, with a smile; 117 For yet she stood on that smooth, violet plain, 118 Where nothing shades the sun; nor quite believed 119 Those blue peaks closing in were aught but mist 120 Which the gay sun could scatter with a glance. 121 For Max, he late had touch'd their stones, but yet 122 He saw them seam'd with gold and precious ores, 123 Rich with hill flow'rs and musical with rills. 124 "Or that same bud that will be Katie's heart, 125 Against the time your deep, dim woods are clear'd, 126 And I have wrought my father to relent." 127 "How will you move him, sweet? why, he will rage 128 And fume and anger, striding o'er his fields, 129 Until the last-bought king of herds lets down 130 His lordly front, and rumbling thunder from 131 His polish'd chest, returns his chiding tones. 132 How will you move him, Katie, tell me how?" 133 "I'll kiss him and keep still--that way is sure," 134 Said Katie, smiling. "I have often tried." 135 "God speed the kiss," said Max, and Katie sigh'd, 136 With pray'rful palms close seal'd, "God speed the axe!" 137 O, light canoe, where dost thou glide? 138 Below thee gleams no silver'd tide, 139 But concave heaven's chiefest pride. 142 Deep 'neath thy keel her round worlds are! 143 Above, below, O sweet surprise, 144 To gladden happy lover's eyes; 145 No earth, no wave--all jewell'd skies! 149 Far from him, northward; his long, ruddy spear 150 Flung sunward, whence it came, and his soft locks 151 Of warm, fine haze grew silver as the birch. 154 The small ponds pouted up their silver lips; 156 "Are ye so tall, O chiefs? Not taller than 157 Our plumes can reach." And rose a little way, 158 As panthers stretch to try their velvet limbs, 159 And then retreat to purr and bide their time. 160 At morn the sharp breath of the night arose 161 From the wide prairies, in deep-struggling seas, 162 In rolling breakers, bursting to the sky; 163 In tumbling surfs, all yellow'd faintly thro' 164 With the low sun--in mad, conflicting crests, 165 Voic'd with low thunder from the hairy throats 166 Of the mist-buried herds; and for a man 167 To stand amid the cloudy roll and moil, 168 The phantom waters breaking overhead, 169 Shades of vex'd billows bursting on his breast, 170 Torn caves of mist wall'd with a sudden gold, 171 Reseal'd as swift as seen--broad, shaggy fronts, 172 Fire-ey'd and tossing on impatient horns 173 The wave impalpable--was but to think 174 A dream of phantoms held him as he stood. 175 The late, last thunders of the summer crash'd, 176 Where shrieked great eagles, lords of naked cliffs. 177 The pulseless forest, lock'd and interlock'd 178 So closely, bough with bough, and leaf with leaf, 179 So serf'd by its own wealth, that while from high 180 The moons of summer kiss'd its green-gloss'd locks; 181 And round its knees the merry West Wind danc'd; 182 And round its ring, compacted emerald; 183 The south wind crept on moccasins of flame; 184 And the red fingers of th' impatient sun 185 Pluck'd at its outmost fringes--its dim veins 186 Beat with no life--its deep and dusky heart, 187 In a deep trance of shadow, felt no throb 188 To such soft wooing answer: thro' its dream 189 Brown rivers of deep waters sunless stole; 190 Small creeks sprang from its mosses, and amaz'd, 191 Like children in a wigwam curtain'd close 192 Above the great, dead heart of some red chief, 193 Slipp'd on soft feet, swift stealing through the gloom, 194 Eager for light and for the frolic winds. 195 In this shrill moon the scouts of winter ran 196 From the ice-belted north, and whistling shafts 198 Ran swift from leaf to leaf, from bough to bough; 199 Till round the forest flash'd a belt of flame 200 And inward lick'd its tongues of red and gold 202 Rous'd the still heart--but all too late, too late. 203 Too late, the branches welded fast with leaves, 204 Toss'd, loosen'd, to the winds--too late the sun 205 Pour'd his last vigor to the deep, dark cells 206 Of the dim wood. The keen, two-bladed Moon 207 Of Falling Leaves roll'd up on crested mists 208 And where the lush, rank boughs had foil'd the sun 209 In his red prime, her pale, sharp fingers crept 210 After the wind and felt about the moss, 211 And seem'd to pluck from shrinking twig and stem 212 The burning leaves--while groan'd the shudd'ring wood. 213 Who journey'd where the prairies made a pause, 214 Saw burnish'd ramparts flaming in the sun, 215 With beacon fires, tall on their rustling walls. 216 And when the vast, horn'd herds at sunset drew 217 Their sullen masses into one black cloud, 218 Rolling thund'rous o'er the quick pulsating plain, 219 They seem'd to sweep between two fierce red suns 220 Which, hunter-wise, shot at their glaring balls 221 Keen shafts, with scarlet feathers and gold barbs. 222 By round, small lakes with thinner forests fring'd, 223 More jocund woods that sung about the feet 224 And crept along the shoulders of great cliffs; 225 The warrior stags, with does and tripping fawns, 226 Like shadows black upon the throbbing mist 227 Of Evening's rose, flash'd thro' the singing woods-- 228 Nor tim'rous, sniff'd the spicy, cone-breath'd air; 229 For never had the patriarch of the herd 231 Of the low-dipping sky, the plume or bow 232 Of the red hunter; nor when stoop'd to drink, 233 Had from the rustling rice-beds heard the shaft 234 Of the still hunter hidden in its spears; 235 His bark canoe close-knotted in its bronze, 236 His form as stirless as the brooding air, 237 His dusky eyes, too, fix'd, unwinking, fires; 238 His bow-string tighten'd till it subtly sang 239 To the long throbs, and leaping pulse that roll'd 240 And beat within his knotted, naked breast. 241 There came a morn. The Moon of Falling Leaves, 242 With her twin silver blades had only hung 243 Above the low set cedars of the swamp 244 For one brief quarter, when the sun arose 245 Lusty with light and full of summer heat, 246 And pointing with his arrows at the blue, 247 Clos'd, wigwam curtains of the sleeping moon, 248 Laugh'd with the noise of arching cataracts, 249 And with the dove-like cooing of the woods, 251 And with the wash of saltless, rounded seas, 252 And mock'd the white moon of the Falling Leaves: 254 "Shame upon you, moon of evil witches! 255 Have you kill'd the happy, laughing Summer? 256 Have you slain the mother of the Flowers 257 With your icy spells of might and magic? 258 Have you laid her dead within my arms? 259 Wrapp'd her, mocking, in a rainbow blanket? 260 Drown'd her in the frost mist of your anger? 261 She is gone a little way before me; 262 Gone an arrow's flight beyond my vision; 263 She will turn again and come to meet me, 264 With the ghosts of all the slain flowers, 265 In a blue mist round her shining tresses; 266 In a blue smoke in her naked forests-- 267 She will linger, kissing all the branches, 268 She will linger, touching all the places, 269 Bare and naked, with her golden fingers 270 Saying, 'Sleep, and dream of me, my children; 272 "'I, who, slain by the cold Moon of Terror, 273 "'Can return across the path of Spirits, 274 "'Bearing still my heart of love and fire; 275 "'Looking with my eyes of warmth and splendour; 276 "'Whisp'ring lowly thro' your sleep of sunshine. 277 "'I, the laughing Summer, am not turn'd 278 "'Into dry dust, whirling on the prairies,-- 279 "'Into red clay, crush'd beneath the snowdrifts. 280 "'I am still the mother of sweet flowers 281 "'Growing but an arrow's flight beyond you-- 282 "'In the Happy Hunting Ground--the quiver 284 "'He has shot from his great bow of Pow'r, 285 "'With its clear, bright, singing cord of Wisdom, 286 "'Are re-gather'd, plum'd again, and brighten'd, 287 "'And shot out, re-barb'd with Love and Wisdom; 288 "'Always shot, and evermore returning. 289 "'Sleep, my children, smiling in your heart-seeds 290 "'At the spirit words of Indian Summer!' 291 "'Thus, O Moon of Falling Leaves, I mock you! 292 "'Have you slain my gold-ey'd squaw, the Summer?" 293 The mighty morn strode laughing up the land, 294 And Max, the labourer and the lover, stood 295 Within the forest's edge, beside a tree; 296 The mossy king of all the woody tribes, 297 Whose clatt'ring branches rattl'd, shuddering, 298 As the bright axe cleav'd moon-like thro' the air, 299 Waking strange thunders, rousing echoes link'd 300 From the full, lion-throated roar, to sighs 301 Stealing on dove-wings thro' the distant aisles. 302 Swift fell the axe, swift follow'd roar on roar, 303 Till the bare woodland bellow'd in its rage, 304 As the first-slain slow toppl'd to his fall. 305 "O King of Desolation, art thou dead?" 306 Thought Max, and laughing, heart and lips, leap'd on 307 The vast, prone trunk. "And have I slain a King? 308 Above his ashes will I build my house-- 309 No slave beneath its pillars, but--a King!" 310 Max wrought alone, but for a half-breed lad, 311 With tough, lithe sinews and deep Indian eyes, 313 The labourer's arms grow mightier day by day-- 314 More iron-welded as he slew the trees; 315 And with the constant yearning of his heart 316 Towards little Kate, part of a world away, 317 His young soul grew and shew'd a virile front, 318 Full-muscl'd and large statur'd, like his flesh. 319 Soon the great heaps of brush were builded high, 320 And like a victor, Max made pause to clear 321 His battle-field, high strewn with tangl'd dead. 322 Then roar'd the crackling mountains, and their fires 323 Met in high heaven, clasping flame with flame. 324 The thin winds swept a cosmos of red sparks 325 Across the bleak, midnight sky; and the sun 326 Walk'd pale behind the resinous, black smoke. 327 And Max car'd little for the blotted sun, 328 And nothing for the startl'd, outshone stars; 329 For Love, once set within a lover's breast, 330 Has its own Sun--its own peculiar sky, 331 All one great daffodil--on which do lie 332 The sun, the moon, the stars--all seen at once, 333 And never setting; but all shining straight 334 Into the faces of the trinity,-- 335 The one belov'd, the lover, and sweet Love! 336 It was not all his own, the axe-stirr'd waste. 337 In these new days men spread about the earth, 338 With wings at heel--and now the settler hears, 339 While yet his axe rings on the primal woods, 340 The shrieks of engines rushing o'er the wastes; 341 Nor parts his kind to hew his fortunes out. 342 And as one drop glides down the unknown rock 343 And the bright-threaded stream leaps after it, 344 With welded billions, so the settler finds 345 His solitary footsteps beaten out, 346 With the quick rush of panting, human waves 347 Upheav'd by throbs of angry poverty, 348 And driven by keen blasts of hunger, from 349 Their native strands--so stern, so dark, so dear! 350 O, then, to see the troubl'd, groaning waves, 351 Throb down to peace in kindly, valley beds; 352 Their turbid bosoms clearing in the calm 353 Of sun-ey'd Plenty--till the stars and moon, 354 The blessed sun himself, has leave to shine 355 And laugh in their dark hearts ! So shanties grew 356 Other than his amid the blacken'd stumps; 357 And children ran with little twigs and leaves 358 And flung them, shouting, on the forest pyres, 359 There burn'd the forest kings--and in the glow 360 Paus'd men and women when the day was done. 361 There the lean weaver ground anew his axe, 362 Nor backward look'd upon the vanish'd loom, 363 But forward to the ploughing of his fields; 364 And to the rose of Plenty in the cheeks 365 Of wife and children--nor heeded much the pangs 366 Of the rous'd muscles tuning to new work. 367 The pallid clerk look'd on his blister'd palms 368 And sigh'd and smil'd, but girded up his loins 369 And found new vigour as he felt new hope. 370 The lab'rer with train'd muscles, grim and grave, 371 Look'd at the ground and wonder'd in his soul, 372 What joyous anguish stirr'd his darken'd heart, 373 At the mere look of the familiar soil, 374 And found his answer in the words--" Mine own!" 375 Then came smooth-coated men, with eager eyes, 376 And talk'd of steamers on the cliff-bound lakes; 377 And iron tracks across the prairie lands; 378 And mills to crush the quartz of wealthy hills; 379 And mills to saw the great, wide-arm'd trees; 380 And mills to grind the singing stream of grain; 381 And with such busy clamour mingled still 382 The throbbing music of the bold, bright Axe-- 383 The steel tongue of the Present, and the wail 384 Of falling forests--voices of the Past. 385 Max, social-soul'd, and with his practised thews, 386 Was happy, boy-like, thinking much of Kate, 387 And speaking of her to the women-folk; 388 Who, mostly, happy in new honeymoons 389 Of hope themselves, were ready still to hear 390 The thrice-told tale of Katie's sunny eyes 391 And Katie's yellow hair, and household ways: 392 And heard so often, "There shall stand our home-- 393 "On yonder slope, with vines about the door!" 394 That the good wives were almost made to see 395 The snowy walls, deep porches, and the gleam 396 Of Katie's garments flitting through the rooms; 397 And the black slope all bristling with burn'd stumps 398 Was known amongst them all as "Max's House." 399 O, Love builds on the azure sea, 400 And Love builds on the golden sand; 401 And Love builds on the rose-wing'd cloud, 402 And sometimes Love builds on the land. 403 O, if Love build on sparkling sea-- 404 And if Love build on golden strand-- 405 And if Love build on rosy cloud-- 406 To Love these are the solid land. 407 O, Love will build his lily walls, 408 And Love his pearly roof will rear,-- 409 On cloud or land, or mist or sea-- 410 Love's solid land is everywhere! Part III 411 The great farm house of Malcolm Graem stood 412 Square shoulder'd and peak roof'd upon a hill, 413 With many windows looking everywhere; 414 So that no distant meadow might lie hid, 415 Nor corn-field hide its gold--nor lowing herd 416 Browse in far pastures, out of Malcolm's ken. 417 He lov'd to sit, grim, grey, and somewhat stern, 418 And thro' the smoke-clouds from his short clay pipe 419 Look out upon his riches; while his thoughts 420 Swung back and forth between the bleak, stern past, 421 And the near future, for his life had come 422 To that close balance, when, a pendulum, 423 The memory swings between the "Then" and "Now"; 424 His seldom speech ran thus two diff'rent ways: 425 "When I was but a laddie, thus I did": 426 Or, "Katie, in the Fall I'll see to build 427 "Such fences or such sheds about the place; 428 "And next year, please the Lord, another barn." 429 Katie's gay garden foam'd about the walls, 431 Up the stone walls--and broke on the peak'd roof. 432 And Katie's lawn was like a Poet's sward, 433 Velvet and sheer and di'monded with dew; 434 For such as win their wealth most aptly take 435 Smooth, urban ways and blend them with their own; 436 And Katie's dainty raiment was as fine 437 As the smooth, silken petals of the rose; 438 And her light feet, her nimble mind and voice, 439 In city schools had learn'd the city's ways, 440 And grafts upon the healthy, lovely vine 441 They shone, eternal blossoms 'mid the fruit. 442 For Katie had her sceptre in her hand 443 And wielded it right queenly there and here, 444 In dairy, store-room, kitchen--ev'ry spot 445 Where women's ways were needed on the place. 446 And Malcolm took her through his mighty fields, 447 And taught her lore about the change of crops: 448 And how to see a handsome furrow plough'd; 449 And how to choose the cattle for the mart: 450 And how to know a fair day's work when done; 451 And where to plant young orchards; for he said, 452 "God sent a lassie, but I need a son-- 453 "Bethankit for His mercies all the same." 454 And Katie, when he said it, thought of Max-- 455 Who had been gone two winters and two springs, 456 And sigh'd, and thought, "Would he not be your son?" 457 But all in silence, for she had too much 458 Of the firm will of Malcolm in her soul 459 To think of shaking that deep-rooted rock; 460 But hop'd the crystal current of his love 461 For his one child, increasing day by day, 462 Might fret with silver lip, until it wore 463 Such channels thro' the rock, that some slight stroke 464 Of circumstance might crumble down the stone. 465 The wooer, too, had come, Max prophesied; 466 Reputed wealthy; with the azure eyes 467 And Saxon-gilded locks--the fair, clear face, 468 And stalwart form that most women love, 469 And with the jewels of some virtues set 470 On his broad brow. With fires within his soul 471 He had the wizard skill to fetter down 472 To that mere pink, poetic, nameless glow, 473 That need not fright a flake of snow away-- 474 But, if unloos'd, could melt an adverse rock 475 Marrow'd with iron, frowning in his way. 476 And Malcolm balanc'd him by day and night; 477 And with his grey-ey'd shrewdness partly saw 478 He was not one for Kate; but let him come, 479 And in chance moments thought: "Well, let it be-- 480 "They make a bonnie pair--he knows the ways 481 "Of men and things: can hold the gear I give, 482 "And, if the lassie wills it, let it be." 483 And then, upstarting from his midnight sleep, 484 With hair erect and sweat upon his brow, 485 Such as no labor e'er had beaded there; 486 Would cry aloud, wide-staring thro' the dark-- 487 "Nay, nay; she shall not wed him--rest in peace." 488 Then fully waking, grimly laugh and say: 489 "Why did I speak and answer when none spake?" 490 But still lie staring, wakeful, through the shades; 491 List'ning to the silence, and beating still 492 The ball of Alfred's merits to and fro-- 493 Saying, between the silent arguments: 494 "But would the mother like it, could she know? 495 "I would there was a way to ring a lad 496 "Like silver coin, and so find out the true; 497 "But Kate shall say him 'Nay' or say him 'Yea' 498 "At her own will." And Katie said him "Nay," 499 In all the maiden, speechless, gentle ways 500 A woman has. But Alfred only laugh'd 501 To his own soul, and said in his wall'd mind: 502 'O, Kate, were I a lover, I might feel 503 "Despair flap o'er my hopes with raven wings; 504 ""Because thy love is giv'n to other love. 505 "And did I love--unless I gain'd thy love, 506 "I would disdain the golden hair, sweet lips, 507 "Air-blown form and true violet eyes; 508 "Nor crave the beauteous lamp without the flame; 509 "Which in itself would light a charnel house. 510 "Unlov'd and loving, I would find the cure 511 "Of Love's despair in nursing Love's disdain-- 512 "Disdain of lesser treasure than the whole. 513 "One cares not much to place against the wheel 514 "A diamond lacking flame--nor loves to pluck 515 "A rose with all its perfume cast abroad 516 "To the bosom of the gale. Not I, in truth! 517 "If all man's days are three score years and ten, 518 "He needs must waste them not, but nimbly seize 519 "The bright consummate blossom that his will 520 "Calls for most loudly. Gone, long gone the days 521 "When Love within my soul for ever stretch'd 522 "Fierce hands of flame, and here and there I found 523 "A blossom fitted for him--all up-fill'd 524 "With love as with clear dew--they had their hour 525 "And burn'd to ashes with him, as he droop'd 527 "To rise again because of Katie's eyes, 528 "On dewy wings, from ashes such as his! 529 "But now, another Passion bids me forth, 530 "To crown him with the fairest I can find, 531 "And makes me lover--not of Katie's face, 532 "But of her father's riches! O, high fool, 533 "Who feels the faintest pulsing of a wish 534 "And fails to feed it into lordly life! 535 "So that, when stumbling back to Mother Earth, 536 "His freezing lip may curl in cold disdain 537 "Of those poor, blighted fools who starward stare 538 "For that fruition, nipp'd and scanted here. 539 "And, while the clay, o'ermasters all his blood-- 540 "And he can feel the dust knit with his flesh-- 541 "He yet can say to them, 'Be ye content; 542 "'I tasted perfect fruitage thro' my life, 543 "'Lighted all lamps of passion, till the oil 544 "'Fail'd from their wicks: and now, O now, I know 545 "'There is no Immortality could give 546 "'Such boon as this--to simply cease to be! 547 "' There lies your Heaven, O ye dreaming slaves, 548 "'If ye would only live to make it so; 549 "'Nor paint upon the blue skies lying shades 550 "'Of-- what is not. Wise, wise and strong the man 551 "'Who poisons that fond haunter of the mind, 552 "'Craving for a hereafter with deep draughts 553 "'Of wild delights--so fiery, fierce, and strong, 554 "'That when their dregs are deeply, deeply drain'd, 556 "'Life, life eternal--throbbing thro' all space, 557 "'Is strongly loath'd--and with his face in dust, 558 "'Man loves his only Heav'n--six feet of Earth!' 559 "So, Katie, tho' your blue eyes say me 'Nay,' 560 "My pangs of love for gold must needs be fed, 561 "And shall be, Katie, if I know my mind." 562 Events were winds close nest'ling in the sails 563 Of Alfred's bark, all blowing him direct 564 To his wish'd harbour. On a certain day, 565 All set about with roses and with fire; 566 One of three days of heat which frequent slip, 567 Like triple rubies, in between the sweet, 568 Mild, emerald days of summer, Katie went, 569 Drawn by a yearning for the ice-pale blooms, 571 With angel fires built up of snow and gold. 572 She found the bay close pack'd with groaning logs, 573 Prison'd between great arms of close-hing'd wood, 574 All cut from Malcolm's forests in the west, 575 And floated hither to his noisy mills; 576 And all stamp'd with the potent "G." and "M.," 577 Which much he lov'd to see upon his goods, 578 The silent courtiers owning him their king. 579 Out clear beyond the rustling ricebeds sang, 580 And the cool lilies starr'd the shadow'd wave. 581 'This is a day for lily-love," said Kate, 582 While she made bare the lilies of her feet 583 And sang a lily-song that Max had made, 584 That spoke of lilies--always meaning Kate. 585 "White Lady of the silver'd lakes, 586 Chaste Goddess of the sweet, still shrines, 587 The jocund river fitful makes, 588 By sudden, deep gloom'd brakes, 590 Spilling a shadow gloomy-rich as wine, 591 Into the silver throne where thou dost sit, 592 Thy silken leaves all dusky round thee knit! 593 "Mild soul of the unsalted wave! 594 White bosom holding golden fire! 595 Deep as some ocean-hidden cave 596 Are fix'd the roots of thy desire, 597 Thro' limpid currents stealing up, 598 And rounding to the pearly cup 599 Thou cost desire, 600 With all thy trembling heart of sinless fire, 601 But to be fill'd 602 With dew distill'd 603 From clear, fond skies, that in their gloom 604 Hold, floating high, thy sister moon, 605 Pale chalice of a sweet perfume, 606 Whiter-breasted than a dove-- 607 To thee the dew is--love!" 608 Kate bared her little feet, and pois'd herself 609 On the first log close grating on the shore; 610 And with bright eyes of laughter, and wild hair-- 611 A flying wind of gold--from log to log 612 Sped, laughing as they wallow'd in her track, 613 Like brown-scal'd monsters rolling, as her foot 614 Spurn'd each in turn with its rose-white sole. 615 A little island, out in middlewave, 617 Between it and the mainland; here it was 618 The silver lilies drew her with white smiles; 619 And as she touch'd the last great log of all, 620 It reel'd, upstarting, like a column brac'd 621 A second on the wave--and when it plung'd 622 Rolling upon the froth and sudden foam, 623 Katie had vanish'd, and with angry grind 624 The vast logs roll'd together,--nor a lock 625 Of drifting, yellow hair--an upflung hand, 626 Told where the rich man's chiefest treasure sank 627 Under his wooden wealth. But Alfred, laid 628 With pipe and book upon the shady marge 629 Of the cool isle, saw all, and seeing hurl'd 630 Himself, and hardly knew it, on the logs; 631 By happy chance a shallow lapp'd the isle 632 On this green bank; and when his iron arms 633 Dash'd the bark'd monsters, as frail stems of rice, 634 A little space apart, the soft, slow tide 635 But reach'd his chest, and in a flash he saw 636 Kate's yellow hair, and by it drew her up, 637 And lifting her aloft, cried out, "O, Kate!" 638 And once again said, "Katie! is she dead?" 639 For like the lilies broken by the rough 640 And sudden riot of the armor'd logs, 641 Kate lay upon his hands; and now the logs 642 Clos'd in upon him, nipping his great chest, 643 Nor could he move to push them off again 644 For Katie in his arms. "And now," he said, 645 "If none should come, and any wind arise 646 "To weld these woody monsters 'gainst the isle, 647 "I shall be crack'd like any broken twig; 648 "And as it is, I know not if I die, 649 "For I am hurt--aye, sorely, sorely hurt!" 650 Then look'd on Katie's lily face, and said, 651 "Dead, dead or living? Why, an even chance. 652 "O lovely bubble on a troubl'd sea, 653 "I would not thou should'st lose thyself again 654 "In the black ocean whence thy life emerg'd, 655 "But skyward steal on gales as soft as love, 656 "And hang in some bright rainbow overhead, 657 "If only such bright rainbow spann'd the earth." 658 Then shouted loudly, till the silent air 659 Rous'd like a frighten'd bird, and on its wings 660 Caught up his cry and bore it to the farm. 661 There Malcolm, leaping from his noontide sleep. 662 Upstarted as at midnight, crying out, 663 "She shall not wed him--rest you, wife, in peace!" 664 They found him, Alfred, haggard-ey'd and faint, 665 But holding Katie ever towards the sun, 666 Unhurt, and waking in the fervent heat. 667 And now it came that Alfred, being sick 668 Of his sharp hurts and tended by them both, 669 With what was like to love, being born of thanks, 670 Had choice of hours most politic to woo, 671 And used his deed as one might use the sun, 672 To ripen unmellow'd fruit; and from the core 673 Of Katie's gratitude hop'd yet to nurse 674 A flow'r all to his liking--Katie's love. 675 But Katie's mind was like the plain, broad shield 676 Of a table di'mond, nor had a score of sides; 677 And in its shield, so precious and so plain, 678 Was cut, thro' all its clear depths--Max's name. 679 And so she said him "Nay" at last, in words 680 Of such true sounding silver that he knew 681 He might not win her at the present hour, 682 But smil'd and thought--"I go, and come again! 683 "Then shall we see. Our three-score years and ten 684 "Are mines of treasure, if we hew them deep, 685 "Nor stop too long in choosing out our tools!" Part IV 686 From his far wigwam sprang the strong North Wind 687 And rush'd with war-cry down the steep ravines, 688 And wrestl'd with the giants of the woods; 689 And with his ice-club beat the swelling crests 690 Of the deep watercourses into death, 691 And with his chill foot froze the whirling leaves 692 Of dun and gold and fire in icy banks; 693 And smote the tall reeds to the harden'd earth; 694 And sent his whistling arrows o'er the plains, 695 Scatt'ring the ling'ring herds--and sudden paus'd 696 When he had frozen all the running streams, 697 And hunted with his war-cry all the things 698 That breath'd about the woods, or roam'd the bleak 699 Bare prairies swelling to the mournful sky. 700 "White squaw," he shouted, troubl'd in his soul, 701 "I slew the dead, wrestl'd with naked chiefs 702 "Unplum'd before, scalped of their leafy plumes; 703 "I bound sick rivers in cold thongs of death, 704 "And shot my arrows over swooning plains, 705 "Bright with the Paint of death--and lean and bare. 706 "And all the braves of my loud tribe will mock 707 "And point at me--when our great chief, the Sun, 708 "Relights his Council fire in the moon 709 "Of Budding Leaves:" "Ugh, ugh! he is a brave! 710 "'He fights with squaws and takes the scalps of babes!' 711 "And the least wind will blow his calumet-- 712 "Fill'd with the breath of smallest flow'rs--across 713 "The war-paint on my face, and pointing with 714 "His small, bright pipe, that never moved a spear 715 "Of bearded rice, cry, 'Ugh! he slays the dead!' 717 "Spread thy white blanket on the twice-slain dead, 718 "And hide them, ere the waking of the Sun!" 719 High grew the snow beneath the low-hung sky, 720 And all was silent in the Wilderness; 721 In trance of stillness Nature heard her God 722 Rebuilding her spent fires, and veil'd her face 723 While the Great Worker brooded o'er His work. 724 "Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree, 725 What doth thy bold voice promise me?" 726 "I promise thee all joyous things, 727 That furnish forth the lives of kings! 728 "For ev'ry silver ringing blow, 729 Cities and palaces shall grow!" 730 "Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree, 731 Tell wider prophecies to me." 732 "When rust hath gnaw 'd me deep and red, 733 A nation strong shall lift his head! 734 "His crown the very Heav'ns shall smite, 735 Æons shall build him in his might!" 736 "Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree; 737 Bright Seer, help on thy prophecy!" 738 Max smote the snow-weigh'd tree and lightly laugh'd. 739 "See, friend," he cried to one that look'd and smil'd, 740 "My axe and I--we do immortal tasks-- 741 We build up nations--this my axe and I!" 742 "O," said the other with a cold, short smile, 743 "Nations are not immortal! Is there now 744 "One nation thron'd upon the sphere of earth, 745 "That walk'd with the first Gods, and saw 746 "The budding world untold its slow-leav'd flow'r? 747 "Nay; it is hardly theirs to leave behind 748 "Ruins so eloquent that the hoary sage 749 "Can lay his hand upon their stones, and say: 750 "These once were thrones!' The lean, lank lion peals 751 "His midnight thunders over lone, red plains, 752 "Long-ridg'd and crested on their dusty waves, 753 "With fires from moons red-hearted as the sun; 754 "And deep re-thunders all the earth to him. 755 "For, far beneath the flame-fleck'd, shifting sands, 756 "Below the roots of palms, and under stones 757 "Of younger ruins, thrones, tow'rs and cities 758 "Honeycomb the earth. The high, solemn walls 759 "Of hoary ruins--their foundings all unknown 760 "(But to the round-ey'd worlds that walk 761 "In the blank paths of Space and blanker Chance). 762 "At whose stones young mountains wonder, and the seas' 763 "New-silv'ring, deep-set valleys pause and gaze; 764 "Are rear'd upon old shrines, whose very Gods 765 "Were dreams to the shrine-builders, of a time 766 "They caught in far-off flashes--as the child 767 "Half thinks he can remember how one came 768 "And took him in her hand and shew'd him that 769 "He thinks, she call'd the sun. Proud ships rear high 770 "On ancient billows that have torn the roots 771 "Of cliffs, and bitten at the golden lips 772 "Of firm, sleek beaches, till they conquer'd all, 773 "And sow'd the reeling earth with salted waves. 774 "Wrecks plunge, prow foremost, down still, solemn slopes, 775 "And bring their dead crews to as dead a quay; 776 "Some city built before that ocean grew, 777 "By silver drops from many a floating cloud, 778 "By icebergs bellowing in their shoes of death, 779 "By lesser seas toss'd from their rocking cups, 780 "And leaping each to each; by dew-drops flung 781 "From painted sprays, whose weird leaves and flow'rs 782 "Are moulded for new dwellers on the earth, 783 "Printed in hearts of mountains and of mines. 784 "Nations immortal? where the well-trimm'd lamps 785 "Of long-past ages, when Time seem'd to pause 786 "On smooth, dust-blotted graves that, like the tombs 787 "Of monarchs, held dead bones and sparkling gems? 788 "She saw no glimmer on the hideous ring 789 "Of the black clouds; no stream of sharp, clear light 790 "From those great torches, pass'd into the black 791 "Of deep oblivion. She seem'd to watch, but she 792 "Forgot her long-dead nations. When she stirr'd 793 "Her vast limbs in the dawn that forc'd its fire 794 "Up the black East, and saw the imperious red 795 "Burst over virgin dews and budding flow'rs, 796 "She still forgot her molder'd thrones and kings, 797 "Her sages and their torches, and their Gods, 798 "And said, 'This is my birth--my primal day!' 799 "She dream'd new Gods, and rear'd them other shrines, 800 "Planted young nations, smote a feeble flame 801 "From sunless flint, re-lit the torch of mind; 802 "Again she hung her cities on the hills, 803 "Built her rich towers, crown'd her kings again, 804 "And with the sunlight on her awful wings 806 "And said, 'I build for Immortality!' 807 "Her vast hand rear'd her tow'rs, her shrines, her thrones; 808 "The ceaseless sweep of her tremendous wings 809 "Still beat them down and swept their dust abroad; 810 "Her iron finger wrote on mountain sides 811 "Her deeds and prowess--and her own soft plume 812 "Wore down the hills! Again drew darkly on 813 "A night of deep forgetfulness; once more 814 "Time seem'd to pause upon forgotten graves-- 815 "Once more a young dawn stole into her eyes-- 816 "Again her broad wings stirr'd, and fresh clear airs, 817 "Blew the great clouds apart;--again Time said, 818 "'This is my birth--my deeds and handiwork 819 "'Shall be immortal.' Thus and so dream on 820 "Fool'd nations, and thus dream their dullard sons. 821 "Naught is immortal save immortal--Death!" 822 Max paus'd and smil'd: "O, preach such gospel, friend, 823 "To all but lovers who most truly love: 824 "For them, their gold-wrought scripture glibly reads, 825 "All else is mortal but immortal--Love!" 826 "Fools! fools!" his friend said, "most immortal fools!-- 827 "But pardon, pardon, for, perchance, you love?" 828 "Yes," said Max, proudly smiling, "thus do I 829 "Possess the world and feel eternity!" 830 Dark laughter blacken'd in the other's eyes: 833 "One woman true enough such tryst to keep!" 834 "I'd swear by Kate," said Max; and then, "I had 835 "A mother, and my father swore by her." 836 "By Kate? Ah, that were lusty oath, indeed! 837 "Some other man will look into her eyes, 838 "And swear me roundly, 'By true Catherine!' 840 "You never knew my Kate," said Max, and pois'd 841 His axe again on high. "But let it pass-- 842 "You are too subtle for me: argument 843 "Have I none to oppose yours with--but this, 844 "Get you a Kate, and let her sunny eyes 845 "Dispel the doubting darkness in your soul." 846 "And have not I a Kate? pause, friend, and see. 847 "She gave me this faint shadow of herself 848 "The day I slipp'd the watch-star of our loves-- 849 "A ring--upon her hand--she loves me, too; 850 "Yet tho' her eyes be suns, no Gods are they 851 "To give me worlds, or make me feel a tide 852 "Of strong Eternity set towards my soul; 853 "And tho' she loves me, yet am I content 854 "To know she loves me by the hour--the year-- 855 "Perchance the second--as all women love." 856 The bright axe falter'd in the air, and ripp'd 857 Down the rough bark, and bit the drifted snow, 858 For Max's arm fell, wither'd in its strength, 859 'Long by his side. "Your Kate," he said; "your Kate!" 860 "Yes, mine, while holds her mind that way, my Kate: 861 "I sav'd her life, and had her love for thanks; 862 "Her father is Malcolm Graem--Max, my friend, 863 "You pale! what sickness seizes on your soul?" 864 Max laugh'd, and swung his bright axe high again: 865 "Stand back a pace--a too far reaching blow 866 "Might level your false head with yon prone trunk-- 867 "Stand back and listen while I say, 'You lie!' 868 "That is my Katie's face upon your breast, 869 "But 'tis my Katie's love lives in my breast-- 870 "Stand back, I say! my axe is heavy, and 871 "Might chance to cleave a liar's brittle skull. 872 "Your Kate! your Kate! your Kate!--hark, how the woods 873 "Mock at your lie with all their woody tongues. 874 "O, silence, ye false echoes! not his Kate 875 "But mine--I'm certain I will have your life!" 876 All the blue heav'n was dead in Max's eyes; 877 Doubt-wounded lay Kate's image in his heart, 878 And could not rise to pluck the sharp spear out. 879 "Well, strike, mad tool," said Alfred, somewhat pale; 880 "I have no weapon but these naked hands." 881 "Aye, but," said Max, "you smote my naked heart! 882 "O shall I slay him?--Satan, answer me-- 883 "I cannot call on God for answer here. 884 "O Kate--!" 885 A voice from God came thro' the silent woods 886 And answer'd him--for suddenly a wind 887 Caught the great tree-tops, con'd with high-pil'd snow, 888 And smote them to and fro, while all the air 889 Was sudden fill'd with busy drifts, and high 890 White pillars whirl'd amid the naked trunks, 891 And harsh, loud groans, and smiting, sapless boughs 892 Made hellish clamour in the quiet place. 893 With a shrill shriek of tearing fibres, rock'd 894 The half-hewn tree above his fated head; 895 And, tott'ring, asked the sudden blast, "Which way?" 896 And, answ'ring its windy arms, crash'd and broke 897 Thro' other lacing boughs, with one loud roar 898 Of woody thunder; all its pointed boughs 899 Pierc'd the deep snow--its round and mighty corpse, 900 Bark-flay'd and shudd'ring, quiver'd into death. 901 And Max--as some frail, wither'd reed, the sharp 902 And piercing branches caught at him, as hands 903 In a death-throe, and beat him to the earth-- 904 And the dead tree upon its slayer lay. 905 "Yet hear we much of Gods;--if such there be, 906 "They play at games of chance with thunderbolts," 907 Said Alfred, "else on me this doom had come. 908 "This seals my faith in deep and dark unfaith! 909 "Now, Katie, are you mine, for Max is dead-- 910 "Or will be soon, imprison'd by those boughs, 911 "Wounded and torn, sooth'd by the deadly palms 912 "Of the white, trait'rous frost; and buried then 913 "Under the snows that fill those vast, grey clouds, 914 "Low-sweeping on the fretted forest roof. 915 "And Katie shall believe you false--not dead; 916 "False, false!--And I? O, she shall find me true-- 917 "True as a fabl'd devil to the soul 918 "He longs for with the heat of all hell's fires. 919 "These myths serve well for simile, I see. 920 "And yet--Down, Pity! Knock not at my breast, 921 "Nor grope about for that dull stone my heart; 922 "I'll stone thee with it, Pity! Get thee hence, 923 "Pity, I'll strangle thee with naked hands; 924 "For thou cost bear upon thy downy breast 925 "Remorse, shap'd like a serpent, and her fangs 926 "Might dart at me and pierce my marrow thro'. 927 "Hence, beggar, hence--and keep with fools, I say! 928 "He bleeds and groans! Well, Max, thy God or mine 929 "Blind Chance, here play'd the butcher--'twas not I. 930 "Down, hands! ye shall not lift his fall'n head; 931 "What cords tug at ye? What? Ye'd pluck him up 932 "And staunch his wounds? There rises in my breast 933 "A strange, strong giant, throwing wide his arms 934 "And bursting all the granite of my heart! 935 "How like to quiv'ring flesh a stone may feel! 936 "Why, it has pangs! I'll none of them. I know 937 "Life is too short for anguish and for hearts-- 938 "So I wrestle with thee, giant! and my will 939 "Turns the thumb, and thou shalt take the knife. 940 "Well done! I'll turn thee on the arena dust, 941 "And look on thee--What? thou wert Pity's self, 942 "Stol'n in my breast; and I have slaughter'd thee-- 943 "But hist--where hast thou hidden thy fell snake, 944 "Fire-fang'd Remorse? Not in my breast, I know, 945 "For all again is chill and empty there, 946 "And hard and cold--the granite knitted up. 947 "So lie there, Max--poor fond and simple Max, 948 "'Tis well thou diest; earth's children should not call 949 "Such as thee father--let them ever be 950 "Father'd by rogues and villains, fit to cope 951 "With the foul dragon Chance, and the black knaves 952 "Who swarm'd in loathsome masses in the dust. 953 "True Max, lie there, and slumber into death." Part V 954 Said the high hill, in the morning: "Look on me-- 955 "Behold, sweet earth, sweet sister sky, behold 956 "The red flames on my peaks, and how my pines 960 "Hang the soft purple fringes of the night; 961 "Close to my shoulder droops the weary moon, 962 "Dove-pale, into the crimson surf the sun 963 "Drives up before his prow: and blackly stands 964 "On my slim, loftiest peak, an eagle, with 965 "His angry eyes set sunward, while his cry 966 "Falls fiercely back from all my ruddy heights; 967 "And his bald eaglets, in their bare, broad nest, 968 "Shrill pipe their angry echoes: 'Sun, arise, 969 "'And show me that pale dove, beside her nest, 970 "'Which I shall strike with piercing beak and tear 971 "'With iron talons for my hungry young."' 972 And that mild dove, secure for yet a space, 973 Half waken'd, turns her ring'd and glossy neck 974 To watch dawn's ruby pulsing on her breast, 975 And see the first bright golden motes slip down 976 The gnarl'd trunks about her leaf-deep nest, 977 Nor sees nor fears the eagle on the peak. 978 "Aye, lassie, sing--I'll smoke my pipe the while, 979 "And let it be a simple, bonnie song, 980 "Such as an old, plain man can gather in 981 "His dulling ear, and feel it slipping thro' 982 "The cold, dark, stony places of his heart." 983 "Yes, sing, sweet Kate," said Alfred in her ear; 984 "I often heard you singing in my dreams 985 "When I was far away the winter past." 986 So Katie on the moonlit window lean'd, 987 And in the airy silver of her voice 989 "Could every blossom find a voice, 990 And sing a strain to me; 991 I know where I would place my choice, 992 Which my delight should be. 993 I would not choose the lily tall, 995 But I would still my minstrel call 996 The blue 'Forget-me-not!' 997 "And I on mossy bank would lie 998 Of brooklet, ripp'ling clear; 999 And she of the sweet azure eye, 1000 Close at my list'ning ear, 1001 Should sing into my soul a strain 1002 Might never be forgot-- 1003 So rich with joy, so rich with pain 1004 The blue 'Forget-me-not!' 1005 "Ah, ev'ry blossom hath a tale 1006 With silent grace to tell, 1007 From rose that reddens to the gale 1008 To modest heather bell; 1009 But O, the flow'r in ev'ry heart 1010 That finds a sacred spot 1011 To bloom, with azure leaves apart, 1012 Is the 'Forget-me-not!' 1013 "Love plucks it from the mosses green 1014 When parting hours are nigh, 1015 And places it loves palms between, 1016 With many an ardent sigh; 1017 And bluely up from grassy graves 1018 In some lov'd churchyard spot, 1019 It glances tenderly and waves, 1020 The dear 'Forget-me-not!"' 1021 And with the faint last cadence, stole a glance 1022 At Malcolm's soften'd face--a bird-soft touch 1023 Let flutter on the rugged silver snarls 1024 Of his thick locks, and laid her tender lips 1025 A second on the iron of his hand. 1026 "And did you ever meet," he sudden ask'd 1027 Of Alfred, sitting pallid in the shade, 1029 "Nam'd Maxwell Gordon; tall, and straight, and strong; 1030 "About my size, I take it, when a lad?" 1031 And Katie at the sound of Max's name, 1032 First spoken for such space by Malcolm's lips, 1033 Trembl'd and started, and let down her brow, 1034 Hiding its sudden rose on Malcolm's arm. 1035 "Max Gordon? Yes. Was he a friend of yours?" 1036 "No friend of mine, but of the lassie's here-- 1037 "How comes he on? I wager he's a drone, 1038 "And never will put honey in the hive." 1039 "No drone," said Alfred, laughing; "when I left, 1040 "He and his axe were quarr'ling with the woods 1041 "And making forests reel--love steels a lover's arm." 1042 O, blush that stole from Katie's swelling heart, 1043 And with its hot rose brought the happy dew 1044 Into her hidden eyes. "Aye, aye! is that the way?" 1045 Said Malcolm, smiling. "Who may be his love?" 1046 "In that he is a somewhat simple soul, 1047 "Why, I suppose he loves--" he paused, and Kate 1048 Look'd up with two "forget-me-nots" for eyes, 1049 With eager jewels in their centres set 1050 Of happy, happy tears, and Alfred's heart 1051 Became a closer marble than before. 1052 "--Why I suppose he loves--his lawful wife." 1053 "His wife! his wife!" said Malcolm, in a maze, 1054 And laid his heavy hand on Katie's head; 1055 "Did you two play me false, my little lass? 1056 "Speak and I'll pardon! Katie, lassie, what?" 1057 "He has a wife," said Alfred, "lithe and bronz'd, 1058 "An Indian woman, comelier than her kind; 1059 "And on her knee a child with yellow locks, 1060 "And lake-like eyes of mystic Indian brown. 1061 "And so you knew him? He is doing well." 1062 "False, false!" said Katie, lifting up her head. 1063 "O, you know not the Max my father means!" 1064 "He came from yonder farm-house on the slope." 1065 "Some other Max--we speak not of the same." 1066 "He has a red mark on his temple set." 1067 "It matters not--'tis not the Max we know." 1068 "He wears a turquoise ring slung round his neck." 1069 "And many wear them--they are common stones." 1070 "His mother's ring--her name was Helen Wynde." 1071 "And there be many Helens who have sons. ' 1072 "O Katie, credit me--it is the man." 1073 "O not the man! Why, you have never told 1074 "Us of the true soul that the true Max has: 1075 "The Max we know has such a soul, I know." 1076 "How know you that, my foolish little lass?" 1077 Said Malcolm, a storm of anger bound 1079 "Belike it is the false young cur we know!" 1080 "No, no," said Katie, simply, and low-voic'd; 1081 "If he were traitor I must needs be false, 1082 "For long ago love melted our two hearts, 1083 "And time has moulded those two hearts in one, 1084 "And he is true since I am faithful still." 1085 She rose and parted, trembling as she went, 1086 Feeling the following steel of Alfred's eyes, 1087 And with the icy hand of scorn'd mistrust 1088 Searching about the pulses of her heart-- 1089 Feeling for Max's image in her breast. 1090 "To-night she conquers Doubt; to-morrow's noon 1091 "His following soldiers sap the golden wall, 1092 "And I shall enter and possess the fort," 1093 Said Alfred, in his mind. "O Katie, child, 1095 "To rend my breast? for I do feel a pulse 1096 "Stir when I look into thy pure-barb'd eyes-- 1097 "O, am I breeding that false thing, a heart? 1098 "Making my breast all tender for the fangs 1099 "Of sharp Remorse to plunge their hot fire in. 1100 "I am a certain dullard! Let me feel 1101 "But one faint goad, fine as a needle's point, 1102 "And it shall be the spur in my soul's side 1103 "To urge the madd'ning thing across the jags 1104 "And cliffs of life, into the soft embrace 1105 "Of that cold mistress, who is constant too, 1106 "And never flings her lovers from her arms-- 1107 "Not Death, for she is still a fruitful wife, 1108 "Her spouse the Dead, and their cold marriage yields 1109 "A million children, born of mould'ring flesh-- 1110 "So Death and Flesh live on--immortal they! 1111 "I mean the blank-ey'd queen whose wassail bowl 1114 "She, she alone is great! No scepter'd slave 1115 "Bowing to blind creative giants, she; 1116 "No forces seize her in their strong, mad hands, 1117 "Nor say, 'Do this--be that!' Were there a God, 1118 "His only mocker, she, great Nothingness! 1119 "And to her, close of kin, yet lover too, 1120 "Flies this large nothing that we call the soul." 1121 "Doth true Love lonely grow? 1122 Ah, no! ah, no! 1123 Ah, were it only so-- 1124 That it alone might show 1125 Its ruddy rose upon its sapful tree, 1126 Then, then in dewy morn, 1127 Joy might his brow adorn 1128 With Love's young rose as fair and glad as he." 1129 But with Love's rose doth blow 1130 Ah, woe! ah, woe! 1131 Truth with its leaves of snow, 1132 And Pain and Pity grow 1133 With Love's sweet roses on its sapful tree! 1134 Love's rose buds not alone, 1135 But still, but still doth own 1136 A thousand blossoms cypress-hued to see! Part VI 1137 "Who curseth Sorrow knows her not at all. 1138 1138 Dark matrix she, from which the human soul 1139 Has its last birth; whence, with its misty thews, 1140 Close-knitted in her blackness, issues out; 1141 Strong for immortal toil up such great heights, 1142 As crown o'er crown rise through Eternity. 1143 Without the loud, deep clamour of her wail, 1144 The iron of her hands, the biting brine 1145 Of her black tears; the Soul but lightly built 1146 Of indeterminate spirit, like a mist 1147 Would lapse to Chaos in soft, gilded dreams, 1148 As mists fade in the gazing of the sun. 1149 Sorrow, dark mother of the soul, arise! 1150 Be crown'd with spheres where thy bless'd children dwell, 1151 Who, but for thee, were not. No lesser seat 1152 Be thine, thou Helper of the Universe, 1153 Than planet on planet pil'd!--thou instrument, 1154 Close-clasp'd within the great Creative Hand!" 1155 The Land had put his ruddy gauntlet on, 1156 Of Harvest gold, to dash in Famine's face. 1157 1157 And like a vintage wain, deep dy'd with juice, 1158 The great moon falter'd up the ripe, blue sky, 1159 Drawn by silver stars--like oxen white 1160 And horn'd with rays of light--Down the rich land 1161 Malcolm's small valleys, fill'd with grain, lip-high, 1162 Lay round a lonely hill that fac'd the moon, 1163 And caught the wine-kiss of its ruddy light. 1164 A cusp'd, dark wood caught in its black embrace 1165 The valleys and the hill, and from its wilds, 1167 A crane, belated, sail'd across the moon; 1168 On the bright, small, close-link'd lakes green islets lay, 1169 Dusk knots of tangl'd vines, or maple boughs, 1170 Or tuft'd cedars, boss 'd upon the waves. 1171 The gay, enamell'd children of the swamp 1172 Roll'd a low bass to treble, tinkling notes 1173 Of little streamlets leaping from the woods. 1174 Close to old Malcolm's mills, two wooden jaws 1175 Bit up the water on a sloping floor; 1176 And here, in season, rush'd the great logs down, 1177 To seek the river winding on its way. 1179 The water roll'd between the shudd'ring jaws-- 1180 Then on the river level roar'd and reel'd-- 1181 In ivory-arm'd conflict with itself. 1182 "Look down," said Alfred, "Katie, look and see 1183 "How that but pictures my mad heart to you. 1184 "It tears itself in fighting that mad love 1185 "You swear is hopeless--hopeless--is it so?" 1186 "Ah, yes!" said Katie, "ask me not again." 1187 "But Katie, Max is false; no word has come, 1188 "Nor any sign from him for many months, 1189 "And--he is happy with his Indian wife." 1190 She lifted eyes fair as the fresh grey dawn 1191 With all its dews and promises of sun. 1192 "O, Alfred!--saver of my little life-- 1193 "Look in my eyes and read them honestly." 1194 He laugh'd till all the isles and forests laugh'd. 1195 "O simple child! what may the forest flames 1196 "See in the woodland ponds but their own fires? 1197 "And have you, Katie, neither fears nor doubts?" 1198 She, with the flow'r soft pinkness of her palm 1199 Cover'd her sudden tears, then quickly said: 1200 "Fears--never doubts, for true love never doubts." 1201 Then Alfred paus'd a space, as one who holds 1202 A white doe by the throat and searches for 1203 The blade to slay her. "This your answer still-- 1204 "You doubt not--doubt not this far love of yours, 1205 "Tho' sworn a false young recreant, Kate, by me?" 1206 "He is as true as I am," Katie said; 1207 "And did I seek for stronger simile, 1208 "I could not find such in the universe!" 1209 "And were he dead? What, Katie, were he dead-- 1210 "A handful of brown dust, a flame blown out-- 1211 "What then would love be strongly true to--Naught?" 1212 "Still true to Love my love would be," she said, 1213 And, faintly smiling, pointed to the stars. 1214 "O fool!" said Alfred, stirr'd--as craters rock 1215 To their own throes--and over his pale lips 1216 Roll'd flaming stone, his molten heart. "Then, fool-- 1217 "Be true to what thou wilt--for he is dead. 1218 "And there have grown this gilded summer past 1219 "Grasses and buds from his unburied flesh. 1220 "I saw him dead. I heard his last, loud cry: 1221 "'O Kate! ring thro' the woods; in truth I did." 1222 She half-raised up a piteous, pleading hand, 1223 Then fell along the mosses at his feet. 1224 "Now will I show I love you, Kate," he said, 1225 "And give you gift of love; you shall not wake 1226 "To feel the arrow, feather-deep, within 1227 "Your constant heart. For me, I never meant 1228 "To crawl an hour beyond what time I felt 1229 "The strange, fang'd monster that they call Remorse 1230 "Fold round my waken'd heart. The hour has come: 1231 "And as Love grew, the welded folds of steel 1232 "Slipp'd round in horrid zones. In Love's flaming eyes 1234 "It sank hot fangs in breast, and brow and thigh. 1235 "Come, Kate! O Anguish is a simple knave 1236 "Whom hucksters could outwit with small trade lies, 1237 "When thus so easily his smarting thralls, 1239 "The black porch with its fringe of poppies waits-- 1242 "Its floor as kindly to my fire-vein'd feet 1243 "As to thy silver, lilied, sinless ones. 1244 "O you shall slumber soundly, tho' the white, 1246 "And scaly spies stare with round, lightless eyes 1247 "At your small face laid on my stony breast. 1248 "Come, Kate! I must not have you wake, dear heart, 1249 'To hear you cry, perchance, on your dead Max." 1250 He turn'd her still face close upon his breast, 1251 And with his lips upon her soft, ring'd hair, 1252 Leap'd from the bank, low shelving o'er the knot 1253 Of frantic waters at the long slide's foot. 1254 And as the sever'd waters crash'd and smote 1255 Together once again,--within the wave- 1256 Stunn'd chamber of his ear there peal'd a cry: 1257 "O Kate! stay, madman; traitor, stay! O Kate!" 1258 Max, gaunt as prairie wolves in famine time, 1259 With long-drawn sickness, reel'd upon the bank-- 1260 Katie, new-rescu'd, waking in his arms. 1261 On the white riot of the waters gleam'd, 1262 The face of Alfred, calm, with close-seal'd eyes, 1263 And blood red on his temple where it smote 1264 The mossy timbers of the groaning slide. 1265 "O God!" said Max, as Katie's opening eyes 1266 Looked up to his, slow budding to a smile 1267 Of wonder and of bliss, "My Kate, my Kate!" 1268 She saw within his eyes a larger soul 1269 Than that light spirit that before she knew, 1270 And read the meaning of his glance and words. 1271 "Do as you will, my Max. I would not keep 1272 "You back with one light-falling finger-tip!" 1273 And cast herself from his large arms upon 1274 The mosses at his feet, and hid her face 1275 That she might not behold what he would do; 1276 Or lest the terror in her shining eyes 1277 Might bind him to her, and prevent his soul 1278 Work out its greatness; and her long, wet hair 1279 Drew, mass'd, about her ears, to shut the sound 1280 Of the vex'd waters from her anguish'd brain. 1281 Max look'd upon her, turning as he look'd. 1282 A moment came a voice in Katie's soul: 1283 "Arise, be not dismay'd, arise and look; 1284 "If he should perish, 'twill be as a God, 1285 "For he would die to save his enemy." 1286 But answer'd her torn heart: "I cannot look-- 1287 "I cannot look and see him sob and die 1288 "In those pale, angry arms. O, let me rest 1289 "Blind, blind and deaf until the swift pac'd end. 1290 "My Max! O God--was that his Katie's name?" 1291 Like a pale dove, hawk-hunted, Katie ran, 1292 Her fear's beak in her shoulder; and below, 1293 Where the coil'd waters straighten'd to a stream, 1294 Found Max all bruis'd and bleeding on the bank, 1295 But smiling with man's triumph in his eyes, 1296 When he has on fierce Danger's lion neck 1297 Plac'd his right hand and pluck'd the prey away. 1298 And at his feet lay Alfred, still and white, 1299 A willow's shadow tremb'ling on his face. 1300 "There lies the false, fair devil, O my Kate, 1301 "Who would have parted us, but could not, Kate!" 1302 "But could not, Max," said Katie. "Is he dead?" 1303 But, swift perusing Max's strange, dear face, 1304 Close clasp'd against his breast--forgot him straight 1305 And ev'ry other evil thing upon 1306 The broad green earth. Part VII 1307 Again rang out the music of the axe, 1308 And on the slope, as in his happy dreams, 1309 The home of Max with wealth of drooping vines 1310 On the rude walls, and in the trellis'd porch 1311 Sat Katie, smiling o'er the rich, fresh fields; 1312 And by her side sat Malcolm, hale and strong; 1313 Upon his knee a little, smiling child, 1314 Nam'd--Alfred, as the seal of pardon set 1315 Upon the heart of one who sinn'd and woke 1316 To sorrow for his sins--and whom they lov'd 1317 With gracious joyousness--nor kept the dusk 1318 Of his past deeds between their hearts and his. 1319 Malcolm had follow'd with his flocks and herds 1320 When Max and Katie, hand in hand, went out 1321 From his old home; and now, with slow, grave smile, 1322 He said to Max, who twisted Katie's hair 1323 About his naked arm, bare from his toil: 1324 "It minds me of old times, this house of yours; 1325 "It stirs my heart to hearken to the axe, 1326 "And hear the windy crash of falling trees; 1327 "Aye, these fresh forests make an old man young." 1328 "Oh, yes!" said Max, with laughter in his eyes; 1329 "And I do truly think that Eden bloom'd 1330 "Deep in the heart of tall, green maple groves, 1331 "With sudden scents of pine from mountain sides 1332 "And prairies with their breasts against the skies. 1333 "And Eve was only little Katie's height." 1334 "Hoot, lad! you speak as ev'ry Adam speaks 1335 "About his bonnie Eve; but what says Kate?" 1336 "O Adam had not Max's soul," she said; 1337 "And these wild woods and plains are fairer far 1338 "Than Eden's self. O bounteous mothers they! 1339 "Beck'ning pale starvelings with their fresh, green hands, 1340 "And with their ashes mellowing the earth, 1341 "That she may yield her increase willingly. 1342 "I would not change these wild and rocking woods, 1343 "Dotted by little homes of unbark'd trees, 1344 "Where dwell the fleers from the waves of want,-- 1346 "Nor--Max for Adam, if I knew my mind!" Notes 1] The standard scholarly edition of Malcolm's Katie: A Love Story is by D. M. R. Bentley (London, Canada: Canadian Poetry Press, 1987; PS 8455 R3M34 1987 ROBA). He supplies a wealth of literary parallels with the works of poets who influenced Crawford (e.g., Shakespeare and Tennyson). The RPO text, like that of Bentley, follows the only edition supervised by Crawford herself, the 1884 edition (some small inconsistencies in punctuation are silently corrected, and typos are indicated within the text by non-HTML ... tags).
Bentley also transcribes six fragments of the poem in Crawford's holograph manuscripts (from the Lorne Pierce Collection at Queen's University) in his Appendix A. Garvin's emendations to the poem are listed in Appendix B.
Back to Line 46] mandrakes: European plant with a deep forked root, shaped like a penis, used as a drug to increase fertility, and often described as if it had human features. Bentley cites Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet IV.iii.47-48. Back to Line 61] Leviathan: a great fish in the Job 41. red seas: a possible allusion to the Red Sea of Exodus. Back to Line 63] golden fleeces: what Jason and the Argonauts searched for. Back to Line 65] For the golden calf, an idol abhominable to Moses' God, see Exodus 32. Back to Line 92] Star or Garter: the Order of the Garter, and the Star of India, both high honours granted by the English monarchy. Back to Line 146] moccasins: soft leather shoe or boot without heel made by Amerindian peoples Back to Line 147] calumet: ceremonial pipe of Amerindian peoples Back to Line 152] wigwam: bark- and branch-formed hut made by Great Lakes Amerindian peoples Back to Line 153] Cf. "The Dark Stag," 44-46: The bittern, squaw-like, scolds the air; The wild duck splashes loudly where The rustling rice-spears knit. Back to Line 155] The great lakes: Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Erie. Back to Line 197] sumach: sumach: staghorn sumac, a shrub or small tree common to the Great Lakes region eastward to the Maritime provinces whose leaves in autumn turn "bright scarlet with shades of crimson" (R. C. Hosie, Native Trees of Canada [Canadian Forestry Service, 1973]: 260-61). Back to Line 201] tranied: creviced (emended to "tranced" by Garvin and Bentley). Back to Line 250] the shrill cry of the diving loon: common loons are goose-sized North American fish-eating birds well known for their night wail, a "Wild maniacal laugh, also a mournful yodeled oo-AH-ho with middle note higher, and a loud ringing kee-a-ree, kee-a-ree with middle note lower" (John Bull and John Farrand, Jr., The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region [New York: Knopf, 1977]: 466). Back to Line 253] Esa! esa! shame upon you: the English phrase translates the Amerindian exclamation. Pale Face: phrase for the white man as well. Back to Line 271] Indian Summer: brief return of warmer weather in a week in late October or early November before the coming of winter Back to Line 283] Manitou: Gitche Man'ito, the "Great Spirit" of Amerindian myth Back to Line 526] Phnix: unique bird of Greek myth who died in fire every 500 years only to rise again from its own ashes: taken to be symbolic of the Christian resurrection. Back to Line 555] purblind: utterly without awareness, completely blind Back to Line 589] weft and woof: probably Crawford meant woof and warp--the two bands of threads woven at right angles to one another so as to form a fabric Back to Line 832] Enring: Bentley's emendation. The original reads "Ent'ring". Back to Line 839] Troilus swore by Cressèd: Chaucer's epic five-book poem about Troilus' love for Criseyde, the Troyan war, and her betrayal of him to Diomede in the camp of the Greeks. Back to Line 958] crevase and ... canon: deep fissure and ravine (canyon) Back to Line 988] "Forget-me-not": small blue or white flower of the borage family Back to Line 1078] Samson with green withs: betrayed by his wife Delilah, Samson was tied to the temple pillars--here by "withs" or ropes--and by pulling brought the building down, killing the pagans and himself. Back to Line 1094] Nemesis: Greek goddess of fate, exacting revenge for human pride Back to Line 1112] Lethe: a sluggish river in Hades, drinking from which brought the damned a measure of oblivion Back to Line 1166] Whip-poor-will: the name voices the cry of this night bird Back to Line 1178] Naiad: mythic Greek nymph of streams, lakes, and founts Back to Line 1233] Hydra: many-headed snake of Greek myth killed by Hercules despite its ability to replace anyone of its cut-off heads with two others Back to Line 1240] propylaeum: entrance chamber erected before a building Back to Line 1241] lictors with their fasces: Roman officers escorting judges and bearing wooden rods bundled around an axe--a symbol of executive power Back to Line 1245] crocus: a slender long-tubed flower blooming in spring Back to Line