I cannot quite recall When first he came, So reticent and tall, With his eyes of flame. The neighbors used to say (They know so much!) He looked to them half way Spanish or Dutch. Outlandish certainly He is--and queer! He has been lodged with me This thirty year; All the while (it seems absurd!) We hardly have Exchanged a single word. Mum as the grave! Minds only his own affairs, Goes out and in, And keeps himself upstairs With his violin. Mum did I say? And yet That talking smile You never can forget, Is all the while Full of such sweet reproofs The darkest day, Like morning on the roofs In flush of May. Like autumn on the hills; At four o'clock The sun like a herdsman spills For drove and flock Peace with their provender, And they are fed. The day without a stir Lies warm and red. Ah, sir, the summer land For me! That is Like living in God's hand, Compared to this. His smile so quiet and deep Reminds me of it. I see it in my sleep, And so I love it. An arnarchist, say some; but tush, say I, When a man's heart is plumb, Can his life be awry? Better then charity And bigger too, That heart. You've seen the sea? Of course. To you 'T is common enough, no doubt. But here in town, With God's world all shut out, Save the leaden frown Of the sky, a slant of rain, And a straggling star, Such memories remain The wonders they are. Once at the Isle of Shoals, And it was June . . . Now hear me dote! He strolls Across my noon, Like the sun that day, where sleeps My soul; his gaze Goes glimmering down my deeps Of yesterdays, Searching and searching, till Its light consumes The reluctant shapes that fill Those purple glooms. Let others applaud, defame, And the noise die down; His voice saying your name, Is enough renown. Too patient pitiful, Too fierce at wrong, To patronize the dull, Or praise the strong. And yet he has a soul Of wrath, though pent Even when that white ghoul Comes for his rent. The landlord? Hush! My God! I think the walls Take notes to help him prod Us up. He galls My very soul to strife, With his death's-head face. He is foul to in his life, Some hid disgrace, Some secret thing he does, I warrant you, For all his cheek to us Is shaved so blue. He takes good care (by the shade Of seven wives!) That the undertaker's trade He lives by thrives. Nor chick nor child has he. So servile smug, With that cringe in his knee,-- God curse his lug! But Him, you should have seen Him yesterday; The landlord's smirk turned green At his smile. The way He served that bloodless fish, Were like to freeze him. But meeting elsewhere, pish! He never sees him. Yet such a gentleman, So sure and slow. The vilest harridan Is not too low, If there is pity's need; And no man born, For cruelty or greed Escapes that scorn. Most of all things, it seems, He loves the town. Watching the bright-faced streams Go up and down, I have surprised him often In Tremont street, And marked the grave face soften, The mouth grow sweet, In a brown study over The men and women. An unsuspected rover That, for our Common. When the first jonquils come, And spring is sold On the street corners, some Of the pretty gold Is sure to find its way Home in his hand. And many a winter day At some cab-stand, He'll watch the cabmen feed The pigeon flocks, Or bid some liner speed From the icy docks. His rooms? I much regret You cannot see His rooms, but they were let With guarantee Of his seclusion there-- Except myself, Each morning, table, chair, Lamp, hearth, and shelf, I rearrange, refreshen, Put all to rights, Then leave him in possession. Ah, but the nights, The nights! Sir, if I dared But once set eye To keyhole, nor be scared, From playing Paul Pry, I doubt not I should learn A wondrous thing Or two; and in return Go blind till spring. The light under his door Is glory enough, It outshines any star That I know of. Wirrah, my lad, my lad, 'T is fearsome strange, The hints we all have had Passing the range Of science, knowledge, law, Or what you will, Whose intangible touch of awe Makes reason nil. Many a night I start, Sudden awake, Feeling my smothered heart Flutter and quake; Like an aspen at dead of noon, When not a breath Is stirring to trouble the boon Valley. A wraith Or a fetch, it must be, shivers The soul of the tree Till every leaf of it quivers. And so with me. Was it the shuffle of feet I heard go by, With muffled drums in the street? Was it the cry Of a rider riding the night Into ashes and dawn, With news in his nostrils and fright Where his hoof-beats had gone? Did the pipes, at "Bonny Dundee," Big regiments form? Did a renegade's soul get free On a wail of the storm? Did a flock of wild geese honk As they cleared the hill? Or only a bittern cronk, Then all was still? Was it a night stampede Of a thousand head? I know I shook like a reed There on my bed. Nameless and void and wild Was the fear before me, Ere I bethought me and smiled As the truth flashed o'er me. Of course, it was only his hand Freeing the bass Of his old Amati, grand In the silence' face. Rummaging up and down, From string to string, Bidding the discords drown, The harmonies spring, Where tides and tide-winds rove Far out from land, On the ocean of music a-move At the will of his hand. Sobbing and grieving now, Now glad as a bird, Thou, thou, thou Of the joys unheard, Luminous radiant sea Of the sounds and time, Surely, surely by thee Is eternal prime. Holy and beautiful deep, Spread down before The imperial coming of sleep, Endure, endure! And sleep, be thou the ranger Over it wan. And dream, be thou no stranger There with the dawn. Then wings of the sun, go abroad As a scarlet desire, Unwearied, unwaning, unawed, To quest and aspire, Till the drench of the duck you drink In the poppy-field west; Then veer and settle and sink As a gull to her nest. Wind, Away, away! And hurry your phantom kind Through the gates of day, Or ever the king's dark cup With its studs and spars Be inverted, and earth look up To the shuddering stars. Blaring and triumphing now, Now quailing and lone, Thou, thou, thou Of the joys unknown! Unknown and wild, wild, Where the merrymen be, Sink to sleep, soul of a child, Slumber, thou sea! All this his fiddle plays, And many a thing As strange, when his mood so lays The bow to the string. Sleepless! He never sleeps That I can find. I marvel how he keeps A bit of his mind. There is neither sight nor sound In the world of sense, But he has fathomed and found In the silvery tense Keen cords on the amber wood. As he wrings them thence, Death smiles at his hardihood For recompense. Oh fair they are, so fair! No tongue can tell How he sets them chiming there Clear as a bell. An orchard of birds in June, The winds that stream, The cold sea-brooks that croon, The storms that scream, The planets that float and swing Like buoys on the tide, The north-going legions in spring, The hills that abide, The frigate-bird clouds that range, The vagabond moon-- That wilful lover of change-- And the workaday sun, Dying summer and fall, Seasons and men And herds, he has them all In his shadowy ken. He calls and they come, leaving strife, Leaving discord and death, Out of oblivion to life, Though its span be a breath. There they are, all the beautiful things I loved and lost sight of Long since in the far-away springs, Come back for a night of New being as good as their old, Aye, better in fact, For somehow he gilds their fine gold,-- Gives the one thing they lacked, The breath, aspiration, desire, Core, kindle, control, Memory and rapture and fire,-- The touch of man's soul. How know the true master? I know By my joys and my fears, For my heart crumbles down like the snow With spring rain into tears. Now I am a precious one! With nothing to do But idle here in the sun And gossip with you Of a stranger you have not seen, As like never will. I would every soul had a screen, When the wind sets ill In the world's bleak house, like this Strange lodger of mine, His presence is worse to miss Than sun's best shine. I put no thought at all Upon the end, If only I may call Such a man friend. And a friend he is, heart light With love for heft, Proud as silence, whose right Hand ignores his left. Yes, odd! he gives his name As Spiritus. But that is vague as a flame In the wind to us. And then (but not a breath Of this!) you see, All his effects, my faith! Are marked D.V. His cape-coat has a rip, But for all that (Folk smile, suggest a dip In the dyer's vat,-- Those purple aldermen Who roll about In coaches, dine till ten, And die of gout), I think he finely shows How learning's crumbs At least can rival those Of--'st, here he comes!