Robert Silliman Hillyer (1895-1961)
From Sonnets and Other Lyrics (1917)
- I. "Quickly and pleasantly the seasons blow"
- II. "The golden spring redeems the withered year"
- III. "Then judge me as thou wilt, I cannot flee"
- IV. "To make my days impatient with unrest"
- V. "I cannot yet admit unchecked despair"
- VI. "How should I think of thee but with delight?"
- VII. "How strange it is that thine ethereal grace"
- VIII. "The rising deluges of circumstance"
- IX. "I love devoutly; thou shalt seek for long"
- X. "Let those who love hear me; I speak as one"
- XI. "We have come back to one another; yes"
- XII. "I will fling wide the windows of my soul"
- XIII. "Poor faltering lines, my weary soul's relief"
- XIV. "Let all men see the ruins of the shrine"
- XV. "How oft the traitor trumpet sounds retreat"
- XVI. "Even as love grows more, I write the less"
- XVII. "Voice that art life to me, I almost hear"
- XVIII. "Lovely art thou, and everything of thine"
- XIX. "Although the spring is hastening to pursue"
- XX. "To walk beside the river in the dawn"
- XXI. "Two lovers stood alone beneath the night"
- XXII. "Fly, joyous wind, through all the wakened earth"
- XXIII. "Over the waters but a single bough"
- XXIV. "There was a boy in some forgotten spring"
- XXV. "Now would that thou wert here, my happiness"
- XXVI. "What though the night be dissonant with rain"
- XXVII. "About the headlands and the rocky shoals"
- XXVIII. "The insurgent sea sweeps through the barrier"
- XXIX. "Speak not of waning love and changing days"
- XXX. "Who follows Love shall walk in outland places"
- XXXI. "Only last night we dwelt together, we"
- XXXII. "Thou only wert my hope, and thou art gone"
- XXXIII. "If in some fair Elysian seclusion"
- XXXIV. "Long after both of us are scattered dust"
I. "Quickly and pleasantly the seasons blow"
Quickly and pleasantly the seasons blow
Over the meadows of eternity,
As wave on wave the pulsings of the sea
Merge and are lost, each in the other's flow.
Time is no lover; it is only he
That is the one unconquerable foe,
He is the sudden tempest none can know,
Winged with swift winds that none may hope to flee.
Fair child of loveliness, these endless fears
Are nought to us; let us be gods of stone,
And set our images beyond the years
On some high mount where we can be alone;
And thou shalt ever be as now thou art,
And I shall watch thee with untroubled heart.
II. "The golden spring redeems the withered year"
The golden spring redeems the withered year,
And wherefore should my spirit be afraid
Though autumn winds wail through the smoky shade
And chill me like the fleeting ghost of fear?
Sweet love of youth, I know that thou must fade,
I know what nameless spectres hover near,
And that the loveliness I hold so dear,
Borrowed from dust, to ashes must be paid.
Yet linger still over these wasted meadows
Faint shreds of song, and scattered scents of flowers,
And from the heart's abyss of deepening shadows
Rise the young passions of immortal hours.
The golden spring its withered year redeems;
Sleep comes at last, but sleep made rich with dreams.
III. "Then judge me as thou wilt, I cannot flee"
Then judge me as thou wilt, I cannot flee,
I cannot turn away from thee forever,
For there are bonds that wisdom cannot sever,
And slaves with souls far freer than the free.
Such strong desires the Universal Giver
With unknown plan has buried deep in me,
That the passionate joy of watching thee
Has dominated all my life's endeavor.
Thou weariest of having me so near,
I feel the scorn thou hast within thy heart,
And yet, the face has never seemed so dear
As now, when I am minded to depart.
Though thou shalt drive me hence, I love thee so
That I shall watch thee when thou dost not know.
IV. "To make my days impatient with unrest"
To make my days impatient with unrest,
To filch the quiet of the dark's repose,
Seeking forever what my soul well knows
Is ever far beyond my farthest quest;--
So this is love; swift joys and lingering woes,
A wistful kiss beneath the ashen west,
Farewell and greeting, mouth to mouth once pressed,
And then the empty darkness onward flows.
The heights that I have won do not endure,
They shrink beneath the stars I yearn to win,
The triumphs of my passion only lure
My vagrant feet to tread the verge of sin;
Though well I know that when I fall thereover,
Love will fly hence; the loved one and the lover.
V. "I cannot yet admit unchecked despair"
I cannot yet admit unchecked despair
Since now my heart this unknown conflict wages,
I know not what the endless strife presages,
I dare not welcome hope, nor exile care.
For love with fear and hope with grief engages,
And I the burden of the battle bear;
Friends there are none, foes I have everywhere,
Hope lies, grief stabs, and still the combat rages.
And thou, sweet monarch of my love, hast wrought
This ruin on my land of Venily,
And sown rebellion in my humblest thought,
Making my dreams deal traitorously with me;
But stay, I would not that this struggle cease,
For having thee is better far than peace.
VI. "How should I think of thee but with delight?"
How should I think of thee but with delight?
How should I greet thy face but with a smile?
And yet dark tears within my heart defile
The dreams of thee that I would have so bright.
If thou shouldst come and end this lonely while,
These leaden hours of the sleepless night,
Still should I fear to show thee what I write,
Lest I repent in vain, and thou revile.
Yet couldst thou read these scriptures of my heart,
Graven in passion with no base control,
For one brief moment, then, they might impart
Some almost worthy offering from my soul.
I write for thee, and cannot let thee read,
Thus love denies itself its utmost need.
VII. "How strange it is that thine ethereal grace"
How strange it is that thine ethereal grace
Should make me sorry by its loveliness,
For surely beauty is designed to bless
Those hours of youth that have so short a race,
And yet the memory of some old distress
Shadows me over when I see thy face,
And yearning ever for one swift embrace
Has tinged my joy in thee with bitterness.
The young smiles flashing brightly free and fair,
The laughing stars that in thy deep eyes shine,--
It is not love for me that lights them there,
I see their beauty, but they are not mine.
Thy loveliness is joy poisoned with pain;
Rapture to love, torment to love in vain.
VIII. "The rising deluges of circumstance"
The rising deluges of circumstance
Have flooded all the gardens of my dreams,
No more the inner sun of gladness gleams
Upon pale flowers of a lover's trance.
Dear Love, I know not why this torrent seems
To drown in turbid billowings of chance
The blossoms of thy visioned countenance,
Soiling my richest thoughts with earthy streams.
The river of the world is ever strong,
I would that I could leave this doubtful shore,
And yet I linger, hoping that ere long
The swirling tide will crush my dreams no more.
And if my gardens ever bloom again,
How fair will be thy perfect blossom then!
IX. "I love devoutly; thou shalt seek for long"
I love devoutly; thou shalt seek for long
Ere thou receive another offering
Such as these passionate tributes that I bring
With all the deep submission of the strong.
I would that all my chants of thee could ring
Through the great sorrows of the nameless throng,
And that thy beauty echoing in my song
Could wake the weary city into spring.
Since thou hast changed my life, and in my heart
Hast deep implanted this new love of life,
Perchance these phantoms of thee will impart
Beauty and courage to a world at strife.
And yet I tarry long, in fear to share
With common men a song of one so fair.
X. "Let those who love hear me; I speak as one"
Let those who love hear me; I speak as one
Who hath known every portion of love's pain,
And all the swift delights that flare and wane
Between the setting and the rising sun.
Sins have I known whose sweetness left no stain,
And virtues that much villainy have done,
But now the pattern that my heart has spun
Is finished, and I see that it is vain.
Vain is the virgin kiss, and vain the thought
That binds the heart's desire from afar,
Each loves the image his own mind has wrought,
Each worships no true spirit, but a star.
By none is this believed until the years
Reveal the sad deception, and with tears.
XI. "We have come back to one another; yes"
We have come back to one another; yes,
After long languishing in spheres apart,
Thou hast returned, since Love's own self thou art,
And I in penitence and fearfulness.
O gentle Love, that leaves me not to smart
Forever in the clutches of distress,
When with a kindly pardon thou canst bless
Consummately my long-disconsolate heart,
Forgive me yet again, if to this joy
I do not rise at once from melancholy,
Mine was the utmost sin thus to destroy
Our calm devotion with unbridled folly;
Bear with me yet awhile until I prove
The tenderness of all-repentant love.
XII. "I will fling wide the windows of my soul"
I will fling wide the windows of my soul
Under the deep hush of nocturnal skies,
When the white legions of the stars arise
And write their secrets on the Master's scroll.
I will go forth and watch with slumberous eyes
The languid billows of the ocean roll
In silver rhythms on some hidden shoal,
Swelling with laughter, falling back with sighs.
And in the tranquil twilight of that place,
The lovely solitude of lonely sands,
Will flash the pale resplendence of thy grace
In sudden beauty out of other lands,
And I will kneel and kiss thine ivory hands
Beneath the flowered music of thy face.
XIII. "Poor faltering lines, my weary soul's relief"
Poor faltering lines, my weary soul's relief,
The balm of passion, opiate of pain.
A mightier hand than mine, a mightier brain,
Had wrought in you an immemorial grief.
But though my love and art both prove in vain,
Wither and die with me, I had as lief
That it were so; respite however brief
Is all-sufficient to the living-slain.
For separate voices sink at eventide,
And none survives the creeping hush of time,
Nought lives but life; the fame of them that died
Brings back no vestige of their lovely prime,
Fame and oblivion shall merge again
In nameless loves and laughter, tears and pain.
XIV. "Let all men see the ruins of the shrine"
Let all men see the ruins of the shrine
That I, with passionate and holy care,
Built long ago from laughter and despair
That godly love might have a fane divine.
Let the wide wings of darkness hover where
The god of youth once drank his rarest wine,
And let the rank breath of some poisoned vine
Choke the last sigh that lingers on the air.
Hurl the white sanctuary down, and bare
Its inmost secrets to the gaze of men,
Unveil the altar to the vulgar stare,
And let none seek it build it up agin;--
Ah, when the last wall crumbles, stone by stone,
I shall go hence that I may weep alone.
XV. "How oft the traitor trumpet sounds retreat"
How oft the traitor trumpet sounds retreat,
Beguiling my bewildered soul again,
When all the forces on the battle-plain
Are ready to do homage at my feet;
And when I fight with strength, it is in vain,
For then I find no foe before my eyes,
They lurk in shadow, waiting to surprise
My soul when it is weary and in pain.
How shall I gauge the conflict and the odds,
Misled and blinded in the midst of strife?
How shall I know mine enemy? O gods,
Grant me one moment worthy of my life,
To see at last beyond the dust and shade,
And face real foemen, strong and unafraid.
XVI. "Even as love grows more, I write the less"
Even as love grows more, I write the less,
Impelled to speak, unable still to voice
The lyric thoughts like angels that rejoice
Attendant on thy godly loveliness.
Stay the bright swallow high in airy poise,
Carve out of stone an infinite caress,
Garner the fruits of tears and happiness,
Make bloom forever what an hour destroys,
Then shamed by such unprecedented skill
I may find words to name thee, and to sing
Such praises of thy beauty as shall fill
The listening world with floods of carolling;
Till then thou art like starlight on the air,
Or clouds at dawn, unutterably fair.
XVII. "Voice that art life to me, I almost hear"
Voice that art life to me, I almost hear
Thy sweet familiar cadence on the breeze,
At times a far call infinitely clear;
Face that art love to me, my spirit sees
In each unfolding bud of the young year
Imperfect shadows of thy grace appear,
For thou, dear one, art fairer than all these;
Soul that art part of me, at last I know
What murmurs on the wakening breezes blow,
What hand of ivory pours out the wine
Filling the cup of spring to overflow;
All beauty mirrors what is only thine,
And thou the source not mortal, but divine.
XVIII. "Lovely art thou, and everything of thine"
Lovely art thou, and everything of thine
Reflects the glory of thy noble grace;
That thou shouldst have returned my swift embrace
Has made me feel that I too am divine.
My spirit met thy spirit face to face,
Thy godlike heart has not rejected mine,
And I have been uplifted in the shrine,
And high exalted in the holy place.
Think not that thou or I shall ever fade
Forgotten in the silence of the years;
We are but one, this world of myth and shade
Shall not appall us with its dusty fears;
If Death should find the hearts whom Love hath kissed,
We never met, and nothing doth exist.
XIX. "Although the spring is hastening to pursue"
Although the spring is hastening to pursue
The swift white deer of winter through the glades,
Sometimes they pause for breath beneath the shades;