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Sidney Lanier

(1842-1881 / Macon / Georgia)

A Florida Sunday.


From cold Norse caves or buccaneer Southern seas
Oft come repenting tempests here to die;
Bewailing old-time wrecks and robberies,
They shrive to priestly pines with many a sigh,
Breathe salutary balms through lank-lock'd hair
Of sick men's heads, and soon -- this world outworn --
Sink into saintly heavens of stirless air,
Clean from confessional. One died, this morn,
And willed the world to wise Queen Tranquil: she,
Sweet sovereign Lady of all souls that bide
In contemplation, tames the too bright skies
Like that faint agate film, far down descried,
Restraining suns in sudden thoughtful eyes
Which flashed but now. Blest distillation rare
Of o'er-rank brightness filtered waterwise
Through all the earths in heaven -- thou always fair,
Still virgin bride of e'er-creating thought --
Dream-worker, in whose dream the Future's wrought --
Healer of hurts, free balm for bitter wrongs --
Most silent mother of all sounding songs --
Thou that dissolvest hells to make thy heaven --
Thou tempest's heir, that keep'st no tempest leaven --
But after winds' and thunders' wide mischance
Dost brood, and better thine inheritance --
Thou privacy of space, where each grave Star
As in his own still chamber sits afar
To meditate, yet, by thy walls unpent,
Shines to his fellows o'er the firmament --
Oh! as thou liv'st in all this sky and sea
That likewise lovingly do live in thee,
So melt my soul in thee, and thine in me,
Divine Tranquillity!

Gray Pelican, poised where yon broad shallows shine,
Know'st thou, that finny foison all is mine
In the bag below thy beak -- yet thine, not less?
For God, of His most gracious friendliness,
Hath wrought that every soul, this loving morn,
Into all things may be new-corporate born,
And each live whole in all: I sail with thee,
Thy Pelican's self is mine; yea, silver Sea,
In this large moment all thy fishes, ripples, bights,
Pale in-shore greens and distant blue delights,
White visionary sails, long reaches fair
By moon-horn'd strands that film the far-off air,
Bright sparkle-revelations, secret majesties,
Shells, wrecks and wealths, are mine; yea, Orange-trees,
That lift your small world-systems in the light,
Rich sets of round green heavens studded bright
With globes of fruit that like still planets shine,
Mine is your green-gold universe; yea, mine,
White slender Lighthouse fainting to the eye
That wait'st on yon keen cape-point wistfully,
Like to some maiden spirit pausing pale,
New-wing'd, yet fain to sail
Above the serene Gulf to where a bridegroom soul
Calls o'er the soft horizon -- mine thy dole
Of shut undaring wings and wan desire --
Mine, too, thy later hope and heavenly fire
Of kindling expectation; yea, all sights,
All sounds, that make this morn -- quick flights
Of pea-green paroquets 'twixt neighbor trees,
Like missives and sweet morning inquiries
From green to green, in green -- live oaks' round heads,
Busy with jays for thoughts -- grays, whites and reds
Of pranked woodpeckers that ne'er gossip out,
But alway tap at doors and gad about --
Robins and mocking-birds that all day long
Athwart straight sunshine weave cross-threads of song,
Shuttles of music -- clouds of mosses gray
That rain me rains of pleasant thoughts alway
From a low sky of leaves -- faint yearning psalms
Of endless metre breathing through the palms
That crowd and lean and gaze from off the shore
Ever for one that cometh nevermore --
Palmettos ranked, with childish spear-points set
Against no enemy -- rich cones that fret
High roofs of temples shafted tall with pines --
Green, grateful mangroves where the sand-beach shines --
Long lissome coast that in and outward swerves,
The grace of God made manifest in curves --
All riches, goods and braveries never told
Of earth, sun, air and heaven -- now I hold
Your being in my being; I am ye,
And ye myself; yea, lastly, Thee,
God, whom my roads all reach, howe'er they run,
My Father, Friend, Beloved, dear All-One,
Thee in my soul, my soul in Thee, I feel,
Self of my self. Lo, through my sense doth steal
Clear cognizance of all selves and qualities,
Of all existence that hath been or is,
Of all strange haps that men miscall of chance,
And all the works of tireless circumstance:
Each borders each, like mutual sea and shore,
Nor aught misfits his neighbor that's before,
Nor him that's after -- nay, through this still air,
Out of the North come quarrels, and keen blare
Of challenge by the hot-breath'd parties blown;
Yet break they not this peace with alien tone,
Fray not my heart, nor fright me for my land,
-- I hear from all-wards, allwise understand,
The great bird Purpose bears me twixt her wings,
And I am one with all the kinsmen things
That e'er my Father fathered. Oh, to me
All questions solve in this tranquillity:
E'en this dark matter, once so dim, so drear,
Now shines upon my spirit heavenly-clear:
Thou, Father, without logic, tellest me
How this divine denial true may be,
-- How `All's in each, yet every one of all
Maintains his Self complete and several.'

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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