The Crags

Alfred Noyes

(In memory of Thomas Bailey Aldrich)


Falernian, first! What other wine
Should brim the cup or tint the line
That would recall my days
Among your creeks and bays;

Where, founded on a rock, your house
Between the pines’ unfading boughs
Watches through sun and rain
That lonelier coast of Maine;

And the Atlantic’s mounded blue
Breaks on your crags the summer through,
A long pine’s length below,
In rainbow-tossing snow.

While on your railed verandah there
As on a deck you sail through air,
And sea and cloud and sky
Go softly streaming by.

Like delicate oils at set of sun
Smoothing the waves the colours run—
Around the enchanted hull,
Anchored and beautiful,—

Restoring to that sun-dried star
You brought from coral isles afar—
With shells that mock the moon—
The tints of their lagoon;

Till, from within, your lamps declare
Your harbours by the colours there,
An Indian god, a fan
Painted in Old Japan.

But, best of all, I think at night,
The moon that makes a road of light
Across the whispering sea,
A road—for memory.

When the blue dusk has filled the pane,
And the great pine-logs burn again,
And books are good to read.
—For his were books indeed.—

Their silken shadows, rustling, dim,
May sing no more of Spain for him;
No shadows of old France
Renew their courtly dance.

He walks no more where shadows are
But left their ivory gates ajar,
That shadows might prolong
The dance, the tale, the song.

His was no narrow test or rule.
He chose the best of every school,—
Stendhal and Keats and Donne,
Balzac and Stevenson;

Wordsworth and Flaubert filled their place.
Dumas met Hawthorne face to face.
There were both new and old
In his good realm of gold.

The title-pages bore his name;
And, nightly, by the dancing flame,
Following him, I found
That all was haunted ground;

Until a friendlier shadow fell
Upon the leaves he loved so well,
And I no longer read,
But talked with him instead.