Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > Anthology of Massachusetts Poets
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. (1878–1962).  Anthology of Massachusetts Poets.  1922.
 
Sunrise on Mansfield Mountain
 
Alice Brown
 
 
O SWIFT forerunners, rosy with the race!
Spirits of dawn, divinely manifest
Behind your blushing banners in the sky,
Daring invaders of Night’s tenting-ground,—
How do ye strain on forward-bending foot,        5
Each to be first in heralding of joy!
 
With silence sandalled, so they weave their way,
And so they stand, with silence panoplied,
Chanting, through mystic symbollings of flame,
Their solemn invocation to the light.        10
 
O changeless guardians! O ye wizard first!
What strenuous philter feeds your potency.
That thus ye rest, in sweet wood-hardiness,
Ready to learn of all and utter naught?
What breath may move ye, or what breeze invite        15
To odorous hot lendings of the heart?
What wind—but all the winds are yet afar,
And e’en the little tricksy zephyr sprites,
That fleet before them, like their elfin locks,
Have lagged in sleep, nor stir nor waken yet        20
To pluck the robe of patient majesty.
 
Too still for dreaming, too divine for sleep,
So range the firs, the constant, fearless ones.
Warders of mountain secrets, there they wait,
Each with his cloak about him, breathless, calm.        25
And yet expectant, as who knows the dawn,
 
And all night thrills with memory and desire,
Searching in what has been for what shall be:
The marvel of the ne’er familiar day,
Sacred investiture of life renewed,        30
The chrism of dew, the coronal of flame.
Low in the valley lies the conquered rout
Of man’s poor, trivial turmoil, lost and drowned
Under the mist, in gleaming rivers rolled,
Where oozy marsh contends with frothing main.        35
And rounding all, springs one full, ambient arch,
One great good limpid world—so still, so still!
For no sound echoes from its crystal curve
Save four clear notes, the song of that lone bird
Who, brave but trembling, tries his morning hymn,        40
And has no heart to finish, for the awe
And wonder of this pearling globe of dawn.
 
Light, light eternal! veiling-place of stars!
Light, the revealer of dread beauty’s face!
Weaving whereof the hills are lambent clad!        45
Mighty libation to the Unknown God!
Cup whereat pine-trees slake their giant thirst
And little leaves drink sweet delirium!
Being and breath and potion! living soul
And all-informing heart of all that lives!        50
How can we magnify thine awful name
Save by its chanting: Light! and Light! and Light!
An exhalation from far sky retreats,
It grows in silence, as ’twere self-create,
Suffusing all the dusky web of night.        55
But one lone corner it invades not yet,
Where low above a black and rimy crag
Hangs the old moon, thin as a battered shield,
The holy, useless shield of long-past wars,
Dinted and frosty, on the crystal dark.        60
 
But lo! the east,—let none forget the east,
Pathway ordained of old where He should tread.
Through some sweet magic common in the skies,
The rosy banners are with saffron tinct;
The saffron grows to gold, the gold is fire,        65
And led by silence more majestical
Than clash of conquering arms, He comes! He comes!
He holds His spear benignant, sceptrewise,
And strikes out flame from the adoring hills.
 

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