The choppers heard not, the camp shanties echoed not, The quick-ear’d teamsters and chain and jack-screw men heard not, As the wood-spirits came from their haunts of a thousand years to join the refrain, But in my soul I plainly heard.
And for thy subtler sense subtler refrains dread Mother, Preludes of intellect tallying these and thee, mind-formulas fitted for thee, real and sane and large as these and thee, Thou! mounting higher, diving deeper than we knew, thou transcendental Union!
…at their meals, The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of the sick, The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing a death-sentence, The heave’e’yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves, the refrain of the anchor-lifters, The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose-carts with premonitory tinkles and color’d lights, The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching cars, The slow…
…the Thames, I hear fierce French liberty songs, I hear of the Italian boat-sculler the musical recitative of old poems, I hear the locusts in Syria as they strike the grain and grass with the showers of their terrible clouds, I hear the Coptic refrain toward sundown, pensively falling on the breast of the black venerable vast mother the Nile, I hear the chirp of the Mexican muleteer, and the bells of the mule, I hear the Arab muezzin calling from the top of the mosque, I hear the…
1 Rang the refrain along the hall, the prison, Rose to the roof, the vaults of heaven above, Pouring in floods of melody in tones so pensive sweet and strong the like whereof was never heard, Reaching the far-off sentry and the armed guards, who ceas’d their pacing, Making the hearer’s pulses stop for ecstasy and awe.
Down from the gardens of Asia descending radiating, Adam and Eve appear, then their myriad progeny after them, Wandering, yearning, curious, with restless explorations, With questionings, baffled, formless, feverish, with never-happy hearts, With that sad incessant refrain, Wherefore unsatisfied soul? and Whither O mocking life?
…to weeping, And youth’s convulsive breathings, memories of home, The mother’s voice in lullaby, the sister’s care, the happy childhood, The long-pent spirit rous’d to reminiscence; A wondrous minute then—but after in the solitary night, to many, many there, Years after, even in the hour of death, the sad refrain, the tune, the voice, the words, Resumed, the large calm lady walks the narrow aisle, The wailing melody again, the singer in the prison sings, O sight of pity, shame and dole!