In the Heights


ONE who this valley passionately loved
No more these slopes shall climb, nor hear these streams
That like the murmured melody of dreams
His happy spirit moved.
He knew the sudden and mysterious thrill
That takes the heart of man on mountain heights.
These autumn days that flame from hill to hill,
These deep and starry nights.
O vanished spirit! tell us, if so may be,
Are our wild longings, stirred by scenes like this, —
Our deep-breathed, shadowless felicity, —
A mocking, empty bliss?
No answering word, save from the inmost soul
That cries: all things are real,— beauty, youth;
All the heart feels; of sorrow and joy the whole;
That which but seems is truth.
This mortal frame, that harbors the immortal.
Mechanic though it be, — in our life’s fires
Turns spiritual; it becomes the portal
Wherethrough the soul aspires.
The soul’s existence in this human sheath
Is life no more than is the spirit’s life
In this wide nature whose keen air we breathe;
Whose strife arms us to strife.
And they are wise who seek not to destroy
The unreasoned happiness of the outpoured year.
To him, the lost! this vale brought no false joy,
And therefore is most dear.
Wherever in the majesty of space,
Near or afar, — but not from God afar, —
Where’er his spirit soars, whatever grace
Is his, whatever star, —
The aspirations and imaginings
That in these glorious paths his soul sublimed, —
They are a part of him; they are the wings
Whereby he strove and climbed.
Nature to man not alien doth endure;
His spirit with her spirit is transfused;
On this high mystery dream the humble-pure,
The mightiest poets mused.
The white clouds billow down the blowing sky,
Then, O my heart, be lifted up, rejoice!
The trumpet of the winds, to that wild voice
Let all my soul reply!