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ASILENT world, —yet full of vital joy
Uttered in movements manifold, and swift Clear smiles that flashed across the face of
The hidden doors of sound were shut and sealed.
Shaded by drooping tendrils of brown hair,
Waited in vain for messengers to pass,
And thread the inner paths with flying feet,
And swiftly knock upon the inmost doors,
And enter in, and speak the mystic word
To Vera, sitting there alone and listening.
But through those gates no message ever came:
Only with eyes did she behold and see, -—
With eyes as crystal-clear and bright and brown
As waters of a woodland river, —eyes
That questioned so they almost seemed to speak,
And answered so they almost seemed to hear,—
Only with silent eyes did she behold
The inarticulate wonder of the world.
She saw the great wind ranging freely down
Interminable archways of the wood;
_And tossing boughs and bending tree-tops hailed
His coming: but no sea-tuned voice of pines,
No roaring of the oaks, no silvery song
Of poplars or of birches, followed him:
He passed; they waved their arms and clapped their hands ;
But all was still.
The torrents from the hills Leaped down their rocky stairways, like wild steeds Breaking the yoke and shaking manes of foam. The lowland brooks coiled smoothly through the fields, And softly spread themselves in glistening lakes Whose ripples merrily danced among the reeds. The standing waves that never change their place In the swift rapids, curled upon themselves, And seemed about to break and never broke ; And all the wandering waves that fill the sea Came buffeting in along the stony shore, And plunging in along the level sands, And creeping in through creeks with swirling tides And eddies. Yet from all the ceaseless flow And tumult of the unresting element Came neither shout of joy nor sob of grief, For there were many waters, but no voice.
Silent the actors all on Nature’s stage
Performed their parts before her watchful eyes, Coming and going, making war and love,
Working and playing, all without a sound.
The oxen drew their lead with swaying necks,
The kine came sauntering home along the lane,
The trooping sheep were driven from field to fold,
In mute obedience. Down the unseen track
The hounds, with panting sides and lolling tongues,
Pursued their flying prey with noiseless haste.
The birds, the most alive of living things,
The quickest to respond to joy and fear,
Found mates, and built their nests, and reared their young,
And waged their mimic strifes, and flashed athwart
Dark avenues of shade as sparks of light,
And over sunlit field as spots of shade;
They swam the flood of air like tiny ships
Rising and falling o’er invisible waves,
And, gathering in great navies, bore away
To North or South, without a note of song.
All these were Vera’s playmates, and she loved
To watch them, wondering oftentimes how well
They knew their parts, and how the drama moved
So swiftly, smoothly on from scene to scene
Without confusion. But she sometimes dreamed
There must be something hidden in the play
Unknown to her, an utterance of life
More clear than action and more deep than looks.
And this she felt most surely when she watched
Her human comrades and the throngs of men.
They met and parted oft with moving lips
That seemed to mean far more than she could see.
No deed of anger or of tenderness
Could bring such sudden changes to the face,
Could work such magical effects in life,
As those same dumbly-moving lips. She saw
A lover bend above a maid beloved
With moving lips, and, though he touched her not,
Her cheeks bloomed roses and her eyes flashed light.
She saw a hater stand before his foe
And move his lips ; whereat the other shrank
As if he had been smitten on the mouth.
She saw great regiments of toiling men