Through Time and Bitter Distance

A Poem by E. Pauline Johnson

Unknown to you, I walk the cheerless shore. 
   The cutting blast, the hurl of biting brine, 
May freeze, and still, and bind the waves at war, 
   Ere you will ever know, O! Heart of mine, 
That I have sought, reflected in the blue 
    Of these sea depths, some shadow of your eyes; 
Have hoped the laughing waves would sing of you, 
   But this is all my starving sight descries—

Far out at sea a sail 
    Bends to the freshening breeze, 
Yields to the rising gale, 
    That sweeps the seas; 

Yields, as a bird wind-tossed, 
    To saltish waves that fling 
Their spray, whose rime and frost
    Like crystals cling

To canvas, mast and spar, 
   Till, gleaming like a gem, 
She sinks beyond the far
   Horizon’s hem. 

Lost to my longing sight, 
    And nothing left to me
Save an oncoming night,—
    An empty sea.


Author Unknown

Here’s to the red of the holly berry,
And to its leaf so green;
And here’s to the lips that are just as red,
And the fellow who’s not so green.

Music Unheard

A Poem by Walter de la Mare

Sweet sounds, begone—
Whose music on my ear
Stirs foolish discontent
Of lingering here;
When, if I crossed
The crystal verge of death,
Him I should see
Who these sounds murmureth.

Sweet sounds, begone—
Ask not my heart to break
Its bond of bravery for
Sweet quiet’s sake;
Lure not my feet
To leave the path they must
Tread on, unfaltering,
Till I sleep in dust.

Sweet sounds, begone!
Though silence brings apace
Deadly disquiet
Of this homeless place;
And all I love
In beauty cries to me,
“We but vain shadows
And reflections be.”


A Poem by Mark Van Doren

Because this ground is mine it presses firmer
And softer up against my morning feet.
The grass ever is whispering as I walk. 
The trees lean a little, and the spring,
There at the head of the road, leaps out to meet me.
Some afternoons I think these hundred acres,
Knowing I lie on the mountainside in the sun,
Curl over as if to fold me in; then, rising, 
I smile and go, and they are level again.
But all of this is nothing to the night
I climbed that path and came into my own. 
The darkness—my own darkness—was a warm
Still wind upon my face, until I reached
The topmost meadow, open to the sky.
One step, and I stood naked among stars—
White stars, that clustered closer and larger down;
Closer, until they entered my two eyes. . . . 
When, deep inside, they burst without a sound.


A Poem by Carrie Williams Clifford

My goal out-distances the utmost star, 
Yet is encompassed in my inmost Soul; 
am my goal—my quest, to know myself. 
To chart and compass this unfathomed sea, 
Myself must plumb the boundless universe. 
My Soul contains all thought, all mystery, 
All wisdom of the Great Infinite Mind: 
This is to discover, I must voyage far, 
At last to find it in my pulsing heart.