Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LAND, by MAXWELL STRUTHERS BURT



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THE LAND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I think it is not hard to love with ease
Last Line: And a great campus shaken with flags and tears.
Alternate Author Name(s): Burt, Struthers
Subject(s): Nature


I

I think it is not hard to love with ease
A little land, for there a man may go
From southern dawn to northern eve, and so
Compass within a day-time heart the seas
White on a sun-drenched cliff, and after these,
A river shining, and a purple hill,
And lights that star the dusk, where valleys fill
An evening with the tenderness of trees.
But only a great lover loves the great
Dim beauty of a lonely land, and seeks
Ever to keep renewed an hundred dreams,
Of plains that brood by wide unwearying streams;
Of how archangels hold red sunset peaks,
Winged with a flaming splendor desolate.

II

And I have known a man, who back from wandering,
Come when September rippled in the grain,
Fall straight upon his knees to find the pondering,
Grave twilight of his country once again;
And see the earth, and watch the sentinel corn
March as an army marches from the sight,
To where, below, the valley mist was torn,
Showing a river pendent in the night;
And black encircling hills that held the damp,
Sweet frost of autumn moonlight on their rim --
Until his heart was like a swaying lamp;
Until the memory came again on him,
Of brook and field; of secret wood; the yearning
Smell of dead leaves; an upland road returning.

III

Be not afraid, O Dead, be not afraid,
We have not lost the dreams that once were flung
Like pennons to the world; we yet are stung
With all the starry prophecies that made
You, in the gray dawn watchful, half afraid
Of visions. Never a night that all men sleep unstirred;
Never a sunset but the west is blurred
With banners marching and a sign displayed.
Be not afraid, O Dead, lest we forget
A single hour your living glorified;
Come but a drum-beat and the sleepers fret
To walk again the places where you died:
Broad is the land, our loves are broadly spread,
But now, even more widely scattered lie our dead.

IV

O Lord of splendid nations, let us dream
Not of a place of barter, nor "the State,"
But dream as lovers dream, for it is late,
Of some small place beloved; perhaps a stream
Running beside a house set round with flowers,
Or perhaps a garden wet with hurrying showers,
Where bees are thick about a leaf-hid gate;
For such as this men die, nor hesitate.
The old gray cities, gossipy and wise,
The candid valleys, like a woman's brow,
The mountains treading mightily to the skies,
Turn dreams to visions; there's a vision now
Of hills panoplied, fields of waving spears,
And a great campus shaken with flags and tears.





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