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Behind the Arras A Book of the Unseen   By: (1861-1929)

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Behind the Arras A Book of the Unseen

By Bliss Carman

With Designs by T. B. Meteyard

[Illustration: VT CRESCIT]

Boston and New York Lamson, Wolffe, and Company M·DCCC·XC·V

Copyright, 1895. by Lamson, Wolffe, & Co. All rights reserved.


Behind the Arras 1 Fancy's Fool 16 The Moondial 19 The Face in the Stream 23 The Cruise of the Galleon 29 A Song before Sailing 32 In the Wings 35 The Red Wolf 37 The Faithless Lover 44 The Crimson House 46 The Lodger 49 Beyond the Gamut 66 The Juggler 81 Hack and Hew 85 The Night Express 87 The Dustman 91 The Sleepers 94 At the Granite Gate 96 Exit Anima 100

To G. H. B.

"I shut myself in with my soul, And the shapes come eddying forth."

[Illustration: Behind the Arras]

Behind the Arras

I like the old house tolerably well, Where I must dwell Like a familiar gnome; And yet I never shall feel quite at home: I love to roam.

Day after day I loiter and explore From door to door; So many treasures lure The curious mind. What histories obscure They must immure!

I hardly know which room I care for best; This fronting west, With the strange hills in view, Where the great sun goes, where I may go too, When my lease is through,

Or this one for the morning and the east, Where a man may feast His eyes on looming sails, And be the first to catch their foreign hails Or spy their bales.

Then the pale summer twilights towards the pole! It thrills my soul With wonder and delight, When gold green shadows walk the world at night, So still, so bright.

There at the window many a time of year, Strange faces peer, Solemn though not unkind, Their wits in search of something left behind Time out of mind;

As if they once had lived here, and stole back To the window crack For a peep which seems to say, "Good fortune, brother, in your house of clay!" And then, "Good day!"

I hear their footsteps on the gravel walk, Their scraps of talk, And hurrying after, reach Only the crazy sea drone of the beach In endless speech.

And often when the autumn noons are still, By swale and hill I see their gipsy signs, Trespassing somewhere on my border lines; With what designs?

I forth afoot; but when I reach the place, Hardly a trace, Save the soft purple haze Of smouldering camp fires, any hint betrays Who went these ways.

Or tatters of pale aster blue, descried By the roadside, Reveal whither they fled; Or the swamp maples, here and there a shred Of Indian red.

But most of all, the marvellous tapestry Engrosses me, Where such strange things are rife, Fancies of beasts and flowers, and love and strife, Woven to the life;

Degraded shapes and splendid seraph forms, And teeming swarms Of creatures gauzy dim That cloud the dusk, and painted fish that swim, At the weaver's whim;

And wonderful birds that wheel and hang in the air; And beings with hair, And moving eyes in the face, And white bone teeth and hideous grins, who race From place to place;

They build great temples to their John a nod, And fume and plod To deck themselves with gold, And paint themselves like chattels to be sold, Then turn to mould.

Sometimes they seem almost as real as I; I hear them sigh; I see them bow with grief, Or dance for joy like an aspen leaf; But that is brief... Continue reading book >>

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