Letter XII (with two poems).

From: Love-Letters of Margaret Fuller, 1845-1846
Published: 1903 New York


Each sat alone, girt round with plastered walls
Of little rooms, how different from halls
Which we should build, possessed we the delight
To bring the treasures of our thoughts to sight.
But our thoughts were not these; they soared away,
I know not whither thine, but if I may—
Mine will I tell thee.

Thou art the Wind, the Wanderer of the Air,
The Searcher of the Earth, and everywhere
Art unappalled; the dizziest heights are thine,
Thy force is felt across the foaming brine!
Unbaffled thou dost dash aside the wave;
Thou art not awe-struck by the loneliest cave
When hollow sides reverberate thy voice.
With eager swiftness wilt thou now rejoice,
To emulate the cataract’s uproar loud,
Then dancest on into the city’s crowd,
Who stand astonished at thy wayward play,
And seek a shelter, where they sought the day.
But when at length thou sink’st to gentleness
Thou art an angel’s whisper sent to bless,
And while thou art caressing the fair child,
He smiles to meet thy touch so soft and mild.
By thee the flames are fanned unto their height.
The air is purified by thy swift flight,
Thou mournest round the grave unvisited,
To hollow ruins all thy sighs are paid;
The lonely harp that hangs upon the wall,
Attuned by thee shall not neglected fall,
But who shall e’er attune thy symphony?
Thou art a voice, but not a melody
Where is thy home?

  The writer of this is a person all intellect and passion, no loveliness of character; impetuous, without tender sympathy; hard and secret, when not strongly moved, yet keenly sensitive to a wound from others, noble in the absence of little faults, ignoble in want of confiding sweetness. Such a picture do I draw; the subject would, probably, no more accept it as a genuine portrait, than I do this of me.


I mark beneath thy life the virtue shine
That deep within the star’s eye opes its day;
I clutch those gorgeous thoughts thou throw’st away
From the profound unfathomable mine,
And with them this mean common hour do twine,
As glassy waters o’er the dry beach play.
And I were rich as night, them to combine
With my poor store, and warm me with thy ray.
From the fixed answer of those dateless eyes
I catch bold hints of spirit’s mystery
As to what’s past, and hungry prophecies
Of deeds to-day and things which are to be:
Of lofty life that with the eagle flies,
And lowly love, that clasps humanity.

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