Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AS SOMETIMES IN A GROVE, by FREDERICK GODDARD TUCKERMAN



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AS SOMETIMES IN A GROVE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: As sometimes in a grove at morning chime
Last Line: Thou, god, content us.
Subject(s): God; Doubt; Faith


As sometimes in a grove at morning chime,
To hit his humor,
The poet lies alone and trifles time,--
A slow consumer:
While terebinthine tears the dark greens shed,
Balsamic, grument,
And pinestraws fall into his breast, or spread
A sere red strewment:

As come dark motions of the memory,
Which no denial
Can wholly chase away; nor may we see,
In faint espial,
The features of that doubt we brood upon
With dull persistence,
As in broad noon our recollections run
To pre-existence;

As when a man, lost on a prairie plain
When day is fleeting,
Looks on the glory, and then turns again,
His steps repeating,
And knows not if he draws his comrades nigher,
Nor where their camp is,
Yet turns once more to view those walls of fire
And chrysolampis:

So idleness, and phantasy, and fear,
As with dim grandeur
The night comes crowned, seem his who wanders here
In rhyme a ranger;
Seem his, who once has seen his morning go,
Nor dreamed it mattered,
Mysterious Noon, and, when the night comes, lo,
A life well-scattered

Is all behind, and howling wastes before:
O that some warmer
Imagination might those deeps explore,
And turn informer.
In the old track we paddle on, and way,
Nor can forego it;
Or up behind that horseman of the day,
A modern poet,

We mount, uncertain where we may arrive
Or what we trust to,
Unknowing where indeed our friend may drive
His Pegasus to:
Now reining daintily by stream and sward
In managed canter,
Now plunging on, through brick and beam and board,
Like a Levanter!

Yet ever running on the earth his course,
And sometimes into,
Chasing false fire, we fare from bad to worse;
With such a din too--
As this that now awakes your grief and ire,
Reader or rider
Of halting verse; till in the Muse's mire
We sink beside her.

O in this day of light, must he then lie
In darkness Stygian,
Who for his friend may choose Philosophy,
Reason, Religion?
And find, though late, that creeds of good men prove
No form or fable,
But stand on God's broad justice, and his love
Unalterable?

Must he then fail because his youth went wide?
O hard endeavor
To gather grain from the marred mountain side;
Or to dissever
The lip from its old draught: we tilt the cup,
And drug reflection,
Or juggle with the soul, and so patch up
A peace or paction;

Would carry heaven with half our sins on board
Or blending thickly
Earth's grosser sweet with that, to our reward
Would mount up quickly;
Ready to find, when this had dimmed and shrunk,
A more divine land,
And lightly, as a sailor climbs a trunk
In some dark pineland.

Truly a treasure in a hollow tree
Is golden honey,
Breathing of mountain dew, clean fragrancy,
And uplands sunny;
But who, amid a thousand men or youth,
Landward or seabred,
Would choose his honey bitter in the mouth
With bark and beebread?

No! though the wish to join that harping choir
May oft assail us,
We scarce shall find vague doubt, or half desire
Will aught avail us;
Nor fullest trust that firmest faith can get,
Dark fear supplanting;
There may be blue and better blue, and yet
Our part be wanting.

Alas! the bosom sin that haunts the breast
We pet and pension;
Or let the foolish deed still co-exist
With fair intention.
From some temptation, where we did not dare,
We turn regretful;
And so the devil finds his empty snare?
Not by a netful!

O conscience, coward conscience! teasing so
Priest, lawyer, statist,
Thou art a cheat, and may be likened to
Least things or greatest:
A rocking stone poised on a lonely tower
In pastures hilly,
Or like an anther of that garden-flower,
The tiger-lily,

Stirred at a breath, or stern to break and check
All winds of heaven;
While toward some devil's dance we crane the neck
And sigh unshriven;
Or lightly follow where our leaders go
With pipe and tambour,
Chafing our follies till they fragrant grow,
And like rubbed amber.

Yet, for these things, not godlike seems the creed
To crush the creature,
Nor Christly sure; but shows it like indeed
A pulpit preacher,
To fling a pebble in a pond and roar
"There! sink or swim, stone,
Get safe to land with all your ballast, or
Black fire and brimstone!"

Ah, in a world with joy and sorrow torn,
No life is sweeter
Than his, just starting in his journey's morn;
And seems it bitter
To give up all things for the pilgrim's staff
And garment scanty;
The moonlight walk, the dream, the dance, the laugh,
And fair Rhodanthe.

And must it be, when but to him, in truth,
Whom it concerneth,
The spirit speaks? Yet to the tender tooth
The tongue still turneth.
And he, who proudly walks through life, and hears
Paean and plaudit,
Looks ever to the end with doubts and fears,
And that last audit.

But, as we sometimes see before the dawn,
With motion gentle,
Across the lifeless landscape softly drawn
A misty mantle:
Up from the river to the bluffs away,
The low land blurring,
All dim and still, and in the broken gray
Some faint stars stirring:

So, when the shadow falls across our eyes,
And interveneth
A veil 'twixt us and all we know and prize;
Then, in the zenith,
May heaven's lone lights not pass in wreaths obscure,
But still sojourning
Amid the cloud, appoint us to the pure
And perfect morning.

And even here,--when stretching wide our hands,
Longing and leaning
To find, 'mid jarring claims and fierce demands,
Our strength and meaning:
Though troubled to its depths the spirit heaves,
Though dim despairing,--
Shall we not find Life's mesh of wreck and leaves
Pale pearls insnaring?

Yes,--as the waters cast upon the land
Loose dulse and laver,
And where the sea beats in, befringe the sand
With wild sea-slaver,--
For currents lift the laden and the light,
Groundswell and breaker;
Not weedy trash alone, but corallite,
Jasper, and nacre.

And though at times the tempter sacks our souls,
And fiends usurp us,
Let us still press for right, as ocean rolls,
Wtih power and purpose,
Returning still, though backward flung and foiled,
To higher station,
So to work out, distained and sorely soiled,
Our own salvation.

Nor following Folly's lamp, nor Learning's lore,
But, humbly falling
Before our Father and our Friend, implore
Our gift and calling:
Outside the vineyard we have wandered long
In storm and winter;
O guide the grasping hands, the footsteps wrong,
And bid us enter

Ere the day draw to dark: nor heave and prize
With strength unable,
Nor range a world for wisdom's fruit that lies
On our own table.
So shall we find each movement an advance,
Each hour momentous,
If but in our own place and circumstance,
Thou, God, content us.





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