John Hall Wheelock: Earth


John Hall Wheelock

Grasshopper, your fairy song And my poem alike belong To the dark and silent earth From which all poetry has birth; All we say and all we sing Is but as the murmuring Of that drowsy heart of hers When from her deep dream she stirs: If we sorrow, or rejoice, You and I are but her voice.
Deftly does the dust express In mind her hidden loveliness, And from her cool silence stream The cricket's cry and Dante's dream; For the earth that breeds the trees Breeds cities too, and symphonies. Equally her beauty flows Into a savior, or a rose — Looks down in dream, and from above Smiles at herself in Jesus' love. Christ's love and Homer's art Are but the workings of her heart; Through Leonardo's hand she seeks Herself, and through Beethoven speaks In holy thunderings around The awful message of the ground.
The serene and humble mold Does in herself all selves enfold — Kingdoms, destinies, and creeds, Great dreams, and dauntless deeds, Science that metes the firmament, The high, inflexible intent Of one for many sacrificed — Plato's brain, the heart of Christ: All love, all legend, and all lore Are in the dust forevermore.
Even as the growing grass Up from the soil religions pass, And the field that bears the rye Bears parables and prophecy. Out of the earth the poem grows Like the lily, or the rose; And all man is, or yet may be, Is but herself in agony Toiling up the steep ascent Toward the complete accomplishment When all dust shall be, the whole Universe, one conscious soul. Yea, the quiet and cool sod Bears in her breast the dream of God.
If you would know what earth is, scan The intricate, proud heart of man, Which is the earth articulate, And learn how holy and how great, How limitless and how profound Is the nature of the ground — How without terror or demur We may entrust ourselves to her When we are wearied out, and lay Our faces in the common clay.
For she is pity, she is love, All wisdom she, all thoughts that move About her everlasting breast Till she gathers them to rest: All tenderness of all the ages, Seraphic secrets of the sages, Vision and hope of all the seers, All prayer, all anguish, and all tears Are but the dust, that from her dream Awakes, and knows herself supreme — Are but earth when she reveals All that her secret heart conceals Down in the dark and silent loam, Which is ourselves, asleep, at home.
Yea, and this, my poem, too, Is part of her as dust and dew, Wherein herself she doth declare Through my lips, and say her prayer.