Bliss Carman


THE HERETIC
Poetry by Bliss Carman

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THE HERETIC
Poetry by Bliss Carman 

One day as I sat and suffered,
A long discourse upon sin,
At the door of my brain I listened
And heard this speech within:

One whisper of the Holy Ghost
Outweighs for me a thousand tomes;
And I must heed that private word,
Not Plato's, Swedenborg’s, nor Rome's.

The voice of beauty and of power
Which came to the beloved John
In age upon his lonely isle,
That voice I will obey, or none.

Let not tradition fill my ears
With prate of evil and of good.
Nor superstition cloak my sight
Of beauty with a bigot’s hood.

Give me the freedom of the earth,
The leisure of the light and air,
That this enduring soul some part
Of their serenity may share!

The word that lifts the purple shaft
Of crocus and of hyacinth
Is more to me than platitudes
Rethundering from groin and plinth.

And at the first clear, careless strain
Poured from the wood-bird’s silver throat
I have forgotten all the lore
The preacher bade me get by rote.

Beyond the shadow of the porch,
I hear the wind among the trees
The river babbling in the clove,
And the great sound that is the seas.

Let me have brook and flower and bird
For counselors, that I may learn
The very accent of their tongue,
And its least syllable discern.

For I, my brother, so would live
That I may keep the elder law
Of beauty and of certitude,
By daring love and blameless awe.