To my parents

(upon a very successful Sen. Cambr. Certif. Exam, Dec. 41)

Oh think of me again as young
When none could know whether to good
Or bad I would turn out. Oh think
Of me again as small when on
My mother’s lap the teasing imp
I was – all cries and whimpers sore –
For whom you sweetly drew your plans
And, confidently loving, built
Most glorious castles round the far
Too airy bubble of a fond
And smiling future. Yes, to you
I do and will remain the same,
The little bag of troubles. Love,
Oh love, me now as then you loved
That little puzzle, sweetly dear
In helpless imperfections; come,
You loved it then naught knowing how
It might in time just prick the big
Round bubble, sadden your fond hearts;
So now in failure and success
Cherish me not the less. The world
Abhors and scorns the one and then
Hostile envies the other. Where,
Where can we find the quiet nook?
The burden of our past success
Is heavier far than that of vain
Attempts and slimy failures. Think,
Oh think of every new success
As though it were the first to crown
My effort, for remember that
At every time we face the same
Hard struggle that might crush us soon
Or late, and past successes help
Us naught. Distressing ‘tis to fall
From heights – how much more so to those
Who feel that some did take success
For granted! Then if e’er we fall,
Oh think of us again as young –
We might have never scaled the heights
And thus have never slipped and fall’n.
——————————————————————————–

On a beautiful Spring Day

(June 23, 1945: walk through Prospect Park, Brooklyn, on Sunday)

Would that I were ever as I am now,
In love, in love…
In love with God and his creation,
The world, the world;
Oh sweetest delights of serene adoration
A soul in tune
In harmony with Nature’s own.
Oh peace, oh inward happiness
Oh love of beauty, love of life,
Fond love of all without exception,
Oh love of love.

‘Twas but yesterday the last exam
Exams, exams:
The close of one more term at college
Hard work, no doubt;
But give me such work as is worship of God
And service of Man,
Oh let me know the life of toil
That I may better cherish days
As blessed as this. O love of life!
In work and play, through night and day,
How sweet to love!

“Come, let’s sleep till late. No class at eight,
Let’s sleep and sleep.”
‘Twas early morn when through the blinds
A smiling Sun
Peeped in to bid me shake off dull slumber;
“If thou wouldst know
What ’tis to rest, come forth in peace
Away from din of streetcars loud,
Away, away, alone. Ah come
’Tis early yet, no soul awake
But nature’s own.”

Lovely Spring. For two full hours, ambling
Along, alone,
Heedless of time and place, I breathed deep
Of every joy
Of scent, and sound, and sight. Oh God,
Father of Love,
Not in muttered phrase of meaning lost,
Not with fasts, adherence to codes of Church,
But in gratitude unbound for all
These bountiful gifts of thy Creation
Worship I thee.
What were Life without the gift of Sight!
Oh Beauty, thou
Who liftest hearts to loftiest thought
Enraptured,
And sweetest joy, impassioned!
Oh books, kind mates,
That share and soothe my every mood!
How wretched I without the joy
And comfort ye afford. Dear God,
In silent thought a humble heart
Overflows with thanks.

Lovely Park. With softness fills the heart
This soothing green
Around me everywhere. ’Tis Springtime:
Wavelets of grass
Lighthearted and gay as fair sprites roll in mirth
Over sporting dunes
Now drying laughter bedewed cheeks
In yon rising Sun’s mellow rays,
Now coy avoiding warm caresses.
Oh trusting, loving Youth! With age and strife
Flee not my heart!

Take, oh take, my everything, oh world,
If so thou must,
But take my Life, I want it not
If my heart is robbed
Of Love, deprived of childlike trust
In Man, and World.
How can I thank thee God, for Heaven’s
Most generous gift,.. of happy youth
Free from fear and hate. I pledge this life
To love: oh crush this heart if fear
And hate it learns.

Hush, the song of birds : and then again
Perfect Silence.
In the heart of New York, and yet how far
Remote the town.
No sight of grey austere skyscrapers
No noise, no rush,
No … “no, little squirrel; what has man
Through ages done to thee that now
As I pass by, with nought but Love
In my heart, full harmless e’en in thought,
Thou yet fearest me ? ”

Often, often have I wondered : Peace,
Goodwill on Earth?
Do we await a world all peaceful,
All good, wherein we also may be good ? And meanwhile
We righteous fight to save our lives – the lives we deem
Synonymous with that of Truth.
Oh love of Life! How dear we hold
Our own; how oft forget that others
Their own do prize.

Look ! see here and there o’erthrown by wind,
Last year’s cyclone,
Those tall, strong trees, humbled in their pride :
Through wintry cold
They clung to threads of life. And now
With Spring again
In green they deck themselves. Alas,
In vain ! Along comes Man to doom
To death where Life he did not give.
And that only life which is ours to give
We kill to preserve.

Learn, oh Man, that Life is not merely food,
Fun, sex, and sport,
Not merely the slaking of our thirst
And revelling in
Our satiated appetites !
For Life is Love :
It buds in Love, in Love it grows,
Blossoms and fructifies. All else must die
But not the works of Love :Life’s torch
Lit by Love, in Love is handed on,
Down to new Life.

Heed my prayer and grant, oh God, the strength
That I may work
And live in aim of such ideals :
Ennoble them,
Keep them unsoiled in front of me
When comes the hour
That is to test – are these smooth dreams
That fanciful fleet across my mind
In ecstatic moments of solitude,
Or are they guides to living life
In the working world ?

Yes, the busy world out there, to which
I must return.
My place is there : with others to work,
With them, for all.
So that from the din of devilled life
More sacred hymns
Of Love may rise for other hearts
Like mine this sweet morn. For what am I
But one with them ? “Breakfast !! I must
Get back.” Hunger, thirst, temptations all
Afflict me too …