[Selected Poems Only]









Cora Richmond




I stood on the brow of the hill; to the West

The sunset glories were tenderly prest,

And out of the silence of evening's breast

Flushed wave upon wave of amethyst,

Mingled with golden and crimson flame,

Whence sudden pulses of glory came;&emdash;

Chime on heather bells.


Each pulse was a petal of rare delight

That unfolded and fashioned itself to my sight;

Then a viewless face, an impalpable form,

Yet a presence distinct 'mid the coloring warm

Came out of the splendor of sapphire and gold,

Enfolding, pervading, with portent untold;

Chime on heather bells.


Then I sang; and my singing seemed sacred and tender,

Full of fervor and fire and a musical splendor,

Until all of the rapture flew out of my soul

Far, far on the song-wings to some distant goal,

Leaving silver-gray silence, a spell without name,

'Mid the ashes of song and the sunset's dead flame;

Chime on heather bells.


There the cold, silver-gray of the twilight enwound

In a shivering mantle the still earth around,

And the waves of the sea broke in sobs at my feet

With a sighing and longing of pain, bitter-sweet;

The pitiful tale of a strange, deep despair

Swept over and through me, enchaining me there;&emdash;

Are ye there, heather bells?


Like the sound of the winds in their sobbing and cryings.

Restless waves of the deep with their moanings and sighings,

Like the far-stifled roar of the populous city,

Of those seeking vainly for pleasure or pity;

Deep and deeper, like tremblings of far-away thunder,

Or terror of earth when the earthquake strides under;&emdash;

Ah! ye weep, heather bells.


Like lost souls engulphed in shame for sinning,

Without hope of pardon, no respite e'er winning,

The sound of great wrongs heretofore unrequited,

Ages of Hope&emdash;buds, and Love's promise blighted,

Bitter, dead sea-fruits, dashed on the bleak shore

'Mid tempest and lightning and winds wrathful roar;&emdash;

Are ye dead, heather bells?


Meanwhile all the stars had bloomed in their places,

The clear, sapphire dome was resplendent with faces,

Still and white the Madonna of night whispered low

To her mystical daughters who passed to and fro,

And they silently passed on their wonderful way,

Making real the visions called dreams in earth's day;&emdash;

Sleep now, heather bells.


Yet still amid all was the sound of deep sorrow,

That 'mid all the splendor no surcease could borrow,

No respite to-day and no hope for the morrow.

Never more will the waves of woe be receding,

O God! will it cease not this moaning and pleading?

The sound that I hear is the Earth's heart a-bleeding;&emdash;

Not now, heather bells.


O Angel of Earth! O thou ancient, blest Mother,

Thy children are thine; they will have thee, none other;

They will love thee and bless thee, Earth Mother so olden

Thy spring shall return, thy gray hair be golden;

The wars that have rent thee shall blossom to peace,

The wrongs that oppress thee shall ever more cease;

Chime now, heather bells


Meanwhile all the amethyst silver-gray sheen

Of heather and sky were merging in space,

The line of the distance that slumbered between

Was lighted and thrilled by a wonderful face&emdash;

The face of the New Dawn pressed o'er the dark moor,

Parting the clouds by the morn's purple door;&emdash;

Chime out, heather bells!



There's a beautiful country, not far away,

With its shores of emerald green;

Where rise the beautiful hills of day,

From meadows of amber-hued sheen;

There beautiful flowers forever blow,

With beautiful names that ye do not know.


There are beautiful walks, star-paven and bright,

That lead up to beautiful homes;

And beautiful temples, all carved in white,

Crowned with golden and sapphire domes;

And beautiful gates that swing so slow

To beautiful symbols ye do not know.


There are beautiful valleys and mountains high,

With rivers and forests and hills;

And beautiful fountains leap up to the sky,

Then descend in murmuring rills.

There beautiful life-trees forever grow,

With beautiful names that ye do not know.*


There is beautiful music borne on the air

From rare birds with flashing wings;

And beautiful odors float everywhere,

Which an unseen censer flings:

And a beautiful stream near that land doth flow,

With a beautiful name that ye do not know.


Across this beautiful, mystical stream

Flash rare scintillations bright;

And many a witching, mysterious dream

Is borne on the pinions of night;

And the stream is spanned by a beautiful bow,

With a beautiful name that ye do not know.


And beautiful gondolas, formed of pearl,

Come laden with wonderful stores;

While beautiful banners their folds unfurl

To the dipping of musical oars;

And beautiful beings cross to and fro,

With beautiful names ye do not know.


Would ye know the name of that beautiful land

Where the emerald waters roll

In gentle waves on a beautiful strand?

It is called the Land of the Soul;

And the beautiful flowers that ever blow

Are the beautiful thoughts ye have below.


And the beautiful pathways are your life deeds,

Which fashion your future homes,

And the temples grand are the world's great needs,

While your saviors have reared the domes;

And the beautiful gates that swing so slow

Are the beautiful truths ye have learn'd below.


The beautiful valleys are formed of thought,

Of all that world has been,

And the beautiful mountains are tears outwrought

Through immortal sunlight seen;

And the beautiful life-trees that ever grow

Are the beautiful hopes ye have cherished below.


All the beautiful melody is prayer,

That is echoed in music's powers;

And the beautiful perfumes floating there

Are the spirits of all earth's flowers;

And the beautiful stream that divides you so

Is the beautiful river named Death below.


The beautiful flashes across the stream

Are your inspirations grand,

While the beautiful meaning of every dream

Is real in this fair land;

And the beautiful million-colored bow

Is formed of your tears for each other's woe.


The beautiful barges are all the years

That bear you away from pain,

And the beautiful banners transformed from fears,

Are returning to bless you again;

And the beautiful forms crossing to and fro

Are the beautiful ones ye have loved below

DEATH.  (p. 605)

O beautiful, white mother, Death!

Thou unseen and shadowy soul

Thou mystical, magical soul&emdash;

How soothing and cooling thy breath!


Ere the morning stars sang in their spheres,

Thou didst dwell in the spirit of things,

Brooding there with thy wonderful wings,

Incubating the germs of the years.


Coeval with Time and with Space,

Thy sisters are Silence and Sleep-

Three sisters, Death, Silence and Sleep;

How strange and how still is thy face!


In the marriage of Matter and Soul,

Thou wert wedded to young, fiery Time

The now hoary and snowy-haired Time&emdash;

And with him hast shared Earth's control.


O beautiful Spirit of Death!

Thy brothers are Winter and Night

Stern Winter and shadowy Night&emdash;

They bear thy still likeness and breath.


Summer buds fall asleep to thy arms,

'Neath the fleecy and soft-footed snow

The silent, pure, beautiful snow&emdash;

And the earth their new life-being warms.


All the world is endowed with thy breath,

Summer splendors and purple of vine,

Flow out of this magic of thine,

O beautiful Angel of Death.


What wonders in Silence we see!

The lily grows pale in thy sight;

The rose, through the long summer night,

Sighs its life out in fragrance to thee.


O beautiful Angel of Death!

The beloved are thine&emdash;all thine!

They have drunk the nepenthe divine,

They have felt the full flow of thy breath.


Out into thy realm they are gone,

Like the incense that greeteth the morn;

On the wings of thy might they're upborne,

As bright birds to thy paradise flown.


They are folded and safe in thy sight;

Through thy portals they've passed from earth's prison;

From the cold clod of clay they have risen,

To dwell in thy temple of light.


O beautiful Angel of Life!

Germs feel thee and burst into bloom;

Souls see thee and rise from the tomb;

With rapture and loveliness rife.

On earth thou art named cold Death,

Dim, dark, dismal, dire, dreadful Death,

But in heaven thou art Angel of Life!


We are one with thy spirit, O Death!

We spring to thine arms unafraid;

One with thee are our glad spirits made.

We are born when we breathe thy full breath,

O mother of Life, lovely Death!



Could I Sing, this Would be My Song


Of Tarantula,

Weaving web of silken woof;

House complete from floor to roof;

Perfect, safe, and plunder proof;

Good Tarantula.

Toiling, toiling ceaselessly;

What a home! How skilfully

All is wrought, and thriftily !

Wise Tarantula.


Ah! Tarantula,

Soft thy silken tapestry,&emdash;

Fold on fold of drapery;&emdash;

Deftly done, and daintily;

Say; Tarantula,

When thy wise work was begun,

Didst thou say, "when all is done,

And the goal is truly won,"&emdash;

Brave Tarantula&emdash;


Life will then be all complete;

All its fortune at my feet;

I shall have rewards most sweet?"

And, Tarantula,

Were thy dreams visions of rest,

Of a home by kindness blest,

Of a life in graces drest?

Tell, Tarantula.




Of a Humming Bird,

Dainty, dazzling, starry thing;

Woven rainbows on each wing!

Fluttering and fluttering

Till the air is stirred

With the wondrous winnowing

Of the restless, tireless wing;

Nothing doth it sing or bring;

Witching Humming Bird.


In and out my Bower;

Dip thy beak-thou knowest well

Where the nectar fountains swell&emdash;

In the honeysuckle cell;

Dewdrops for thy dower;

Flitting in and out again;

Sipping sweets without refrain

Nothing can thy flight restrain&emdash;

Pleasure, beauty, power.


Idle Humming Bird;

Wantoning the hours away,

In thy ceaseless aimless play;

Caring only for today.

Who hath ever heard

Of a playful pretty thing,

Living always on the wing,

No home, and no song to sing?

Naughty Humming Bird!




Of a friend, who came

One day to my Summer bower.&emdash;

For a walk and for a flower&emdash;

Spending there a charmed hour;

Naming the sweet name

Of one loved whom we had known;

A sweet spirit, who had flown

From this world, and whiter grown

Up in Heaven's flame.


Then we talking trode

Through the garden, at the gate

Lingering, in the sunset late;

Then we spied, in all its state,

Tarantula's abode.

Laughingly I named the skill,

And the stern, untiring will

Which had wrought that house so still.

Nearer then she glode.


"But Tarantula

Hath a horrid house," said she.

"Look, he kills a honey bee!

Skill indeed for misery&emdash;

Sly Tarantula!"

Sudden paleness, as of pain,

Touched her face; no word again

She spoke. Thy shaft was not in vain,

O, Tarantula!




Of a forest glade,

Where the mottled mosses creep,

And the pied wind-flowers peep

From the shadows dark and deep.

In the deepest shade

Is a thicket, overgrown

With the wild clematis blown;

And the tendrils it hath thrown

Have a bower made.


Softly, not a word;

Gem of beauty never prest

Brow of maiden, nor her breast,

Lovely as this dainty nest;

And one tiny bird,

Waiting, waiting patiently

For the life that soon will be

Which she feels, but cannot see&emdash;

Patient little bird.


Now the air is stirred.

Witching wings are hurrying;

Hastening, and hurrying;

All the leaflets flurrying;

And they bring this word.

"Far away from glade and glen,

Over field and over fen,

Near the haunted homes of men,

I have buzzed and whirred;

All the drops of honey dew

I have gathered sweet, for you&emdash;

Mate of mine, so fond, so true."

Darling Humming Bird!