Ave! (An Ode for the Shelley Centenary, 1892)

I
  O tranquil meadows, grassy Tantramar,
  Wide marshes ever washed in clearest air,
  Whether beneath the sole and spectral star
  The dear severity of dawn you wear,
  Or whether in the joy of ample day
  And speechless ecstasy of growing June
  You lie and dream the long blue hours away
  Till nightfall comes too soon,
  Or whether, naked to the unstarred night,
 You strike with wondering awe my inward sight, --
II

 You know how I have loved you, how my dreams
  Go forth to you with longing, though the years
 That turn not back like your returning streams
  And fain would mist the memory with tears,
 Though the inexorable years deny
  My feet the fellowship of your deep grass,
 O'er which, as o'er another, tenderer sky,
  Cloud phantoms drift and pass, --
 You know my confident love, since first, a child,
 Amid your wastes of green I wandered wild.
III

 Inconstant, eager, curious, I roamed;
  And ever your long reaches lured me on;
 And ever o'er my feet your grasses foamed,
  And in my eyes your far horizons shone.
 But sometimes would you (as a stillness fell
  And on my pulse you laid a soothing palm)
 Instruct my ears in your most secret spell;
  And sometimes in the calm
 Initiate my young and wondering eyes
 Until my spirit grew more still and wise.
IV

 Purged with high thoughts and infinite desire
  I entered fearless the most holy place,
 Received between my lips the secret fire,
  The breath of inspiration on my face.
 But not for long these rare illumined hours,
  The deep surprise and rapture not for long.
 Again I saw the common, kindly flowers,
  Again I heard the song
 Of the glad bobolink, whose lyric throat
 Peeled like a tangle of small bells afloat.
V

 The pounce of mottled marsh-hawk on his prey;
  The flicker of sand-pipers in from sea
 In gusty flocks that puffed and fled; the play
  Of field-mice in the vetches, -- these to me
 Were memorable events. But most availed
  Your strange unquiet waters to engage
 My kindred heart's companionship; nor failed
  To grant this heritage, --
 That in my veins forever must abide
 The urge and fluctuation of the tide.
VI

 The mystic river whence you take your name,
  River of hubbub, raucous Tantramar,
 Untamable and changeable as flame,
  It called me and compelled me from afar,
 Shaping my soul with its impetuous stress.
  When in its gaping channel deeps withdrawn
 Its waves ran crying of the wilderness
  And winds and stars and dawn,
 How I companioned them in speed sublime,
 Led out a vagrant on the hills of Time!
VII

 And when the orange flood came roaring in
  From Fundy's tumbling troughs and tide-worn caves,
 While red Minudie's flats were drowned with din
  And rough Chignecto's front oppugned the waves,
 How blithely with the refluent foam I raced
  Inland along the radiant chasm, exploring
 The green solemnity with boisterous haste;
  My pulse of joy outpouring
 To visit all the creeks that twist and shine
 From Beauséjour to utmost Tormentine.
VIII

 And after, when the tide was full, and stilled
  A little while the seething and the hiss,
 And every tributary channel filled
  To the brim with rosy streams that swelled to kiss
 The grass-roots all awash and goose-tongue wild
  And salt-sap rosemary, -- then how well content
 I was to rest me like a breathless child
  With play-time rapture spent, --
 To lapse and loiter till the change should come
 And the great floods turn seaward, roaring home.
IX

 And now, O tranquil marshes, in your vast
  Serenity of vision and of dream,
 Wherethrough by every intricate vein have passed
  With joy impetuous and pain supreme
 The sharp, fierce tides that chafe the shores of earth
  In endless and controlless ebb and flow,
 Strangely akin you seem to him whose birth
  One hundred years ago
 With fiery succour to the ranks of song
 Defied the ancient gates of wrath and wrong.
X

 Like yours, O marshes, his compassionate breast,
  Wherein abode all dreams of love and peace,
 Was tortured with perpetual unrest.
  Now loud with flood, now languid with release,
 Now poignant with the lonely ebb, the strife
  Of tides from the salt sea of human pain
 That hiss along the perilous coasts of life
  Beat in his eager brain;
 But all about the tumult of his heart
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"Ave! (An Ode for the Shelley Centenary, 1892)" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 28 Mar. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/35047/ave!-(an-ode-for-the-shelley-centenary,-1892)>.

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