Nox Oculis

Bliss Carman (1861-1929)

Poète canadien d'expression anglaise. Né à Fredericton le 15 avril 1861, au Nouveau Brunswick.

En 1886, il entra à l'université Harvard, où il fut attiré par les philosophes Josiah Royce et George Santayana. Il fut également influencé par son amité avec Richard Hovey et par l'oeuvre de Ralph Waldo Emerson. Il publia son premier poème en 1886 : « Low tide at Grand Pré »‚ dans le Atlantic Monthly.

En 1888, il quitta Harvard pour travailler dans les revues littéraire de Boston et New York, où il contribua comme rédacteur et fut un éditeur influent au Independent, le Current Literature, le Cosmopolitan, le Atlantic Monthly, le Chapbook, le Literary World, et le Outlook. À partir de 1909, il vécut à New Canaan au Connecticut.

William Bliss Carman publia plus de 50 volumes de poésie et fut reconnu, après une série de lectures publiques qu'il effectua en 1921 dans tout le Canada, comme le poète national du pays. Il est l'auteur d'une poésie lyrique qui célèbre la nature et n'a de cesse de dire l'étonnement que suscite en lui ses merveilles. Parmi ses recueils, on retiendra Low Tide on Grand Pré (1893).

The Campfire of the Sun

    Lo, now, the journeying sun,
    Another day's march done,
    Kindles his campfire at the edge of night !
    And in the twilight pale
    Above his crimson trail,
    The stars move out their cordons still and bright.

    Now in the darkening hush
    A solitary thrush
    Sings on in silvery rapture to the deep ;
    While brooding on her nest,
    The wandering soul has rest,
    And earth receives her sacred gift of sleep.

    Bliss Carman, Bliss Carman's poems (1931)

The Heart of Night

    When all the stars are sown
    Across the night-blue space,
    With the immense unknown,
    In silence face to face.

    We stand in speechless awe
    While Beauty marches by,
    And wonder at the Law
    Which wears such majesty.

    How small a thing is man
    In all that world-sown vast,
    That he should hope or plan
    Or dream his dream could last !

    O doubter of the light,
    Confused by fear and wrong,
    Lean on the heart of night
    And let love make thee strong !

    The Good that is the True
    Is clothed with Beauty still.
    Lo, in their tent of blue,
    The stars above the hill !

    Bliss Carman, 1918, tiré de Later Poems (1921)

In The Blue Opal Of A Winter Noon

    In the blue opal of a winter noon,
    When all the world was a white floor
    Lit by the northern sun,
    I saw with naked eyes a midday star
    Burn on like gleaming spar,
    Where all its fellows of the mighty dusk
    Had perished one by one.

    When I shall have put by the vagrant will,
    And down this rover's twilight road
    Emerge into the sun,
    Be thou my only sheer and single star,
    Known, named, and followed far,
    When all these Jack-o'-lantern hopes and fears
    Have perished one by one !

    Bliss Carman

The Moon Symbol

    This is the sign of the moon
    Worn by the tribes of the West,
    The sacred symbol of Night
    Guarding the love in the breast.

    This is the mystical charm
    Out of soft moon-metal wrought,
    With all of its magic intact,
    The Navajo silversmith caught,

    When he beheld in the dusk
    That marvellous sickle of light
    Hang o'er the desert to guide
    The footsteps of lovers aright.

    Was not a sorcerer here
    Casting a silvery spell,
    Calling the Manitou down
    In the wrought symbol to dwell ?

    Surely a poet was he,
    Seeking a word of his own
    For the enchantment of night
    He too had seen and known !

    Bidding the silver assume
    The language of beauty and be
    Witness of love for the dumb
    Yet impassioned -- even as he.

    He too a lover had been,
    (Does not his handicraft say?)
    Touched with the glamour of life,
    And giving his heart away.

    See where the hammer-marks prove
    The faith of the artist sublime --
    Love and its work must abide,
    Outlasting the sand storms of time.

    Yours be this talisman too,
    Lovers of beauty and light,
    Leaving your hearts to the care
    Of the great spirit of night !

    Bliss Carman, Bliss Carman's poems (1931)


    At the end of the road through the wood
    I see the great moon rise.
    The fields are flooded with shine,
    And my soul with surmise.

    What if that mystic orb
    With her shadowy beams,
    Should be the revealer at last
    Of my darkest dreams !

    What if this tender fire
    In my heart's deep hold
    Should be wiser than all the lore
    Of the sages of old !

    Bliss Carman, Bliss Carman's poems (1931)

On The Meridian Of The Night

    On the meridian of the night
    Alcar the Tester marks high June ;
    Arcturus knows his zenith fame ;
    No grass-head sleeps upon the dune.

    And up from the southeastern sea,
    Antares, the red summer star,
    Brings back the ardours of the earth,
    Like fire opals in a jar :

    The frail and misty sense of things
    Beyond mortality's ado,
    The soft delirium of dream,
    And joy pale virgins never knew.

    Bliss Carman, tiré de Songs of the sea children

The Queen of Night

    Mortal, mortal, have you seen
    In the scented summer night,
    Great Astarte, clad in green
    With a veil of mystic light,
    Passing on her silent way,
    Pale and lovelier than day ?

    Mortal, mortal, have you heard,
    On an odorous summer eve,
    Rumors of an unknown word
    Bidding sorrow not to grieve, --
    Echoes of a silver voice
    Bidding every heart rejoice ?

    Mortal, when the slim new moon
    Hangs above the western hill,
    When the year comes round to June
    And the leafy world is still,
    Then, enraptured, you shall hear
    Secrets for a poet's ear.

    Mortal, mortal, come with me,
    When the moon is rising large,
    Through the wood or from the sea,
    Or by some lone river marge.
    There, entranced, you shall behold
    Beauty's self, that grows not old.

    Bliss Carman, Bliss Carman's poems (1931)

Star !

    Look out, dear heart, above the twilight wood !
    There in the blue-gray of the winter dusk,
    Above the dark-lined tree-tops still with cold,
    The evening star in limpid glory hangs, --
    In everlasting beauty as it hung
    Above the walls of Nineveh and Tyre,
    And where the Lesbian oleanders flowered,
    The lover's star of prophecy and peace.
    Ah, yes, unsullied and immortal still,
    It shines for you and me, and will shine on
    When we have left this lovely country side,
    Forever lighting up the dream of man, --
    The star of friendship and felicity,
    A lamp within the entry of the night.

    Bliss Carman, Bliss Carman's poems (1931)

The Twelfth Night Star

    It is the bitter time of year
    When iron is the ground,
    With hasp and sheathing of black ice
    The forest lakes are bound,
    The world lies snugly under snow,
    Asleep without a sound.

    All the night long in trooping squares
    The sentry stars go by,
    The silent and unwearying hosts
    That bear man company,
    And with their pure enkindling fires
    Keep vigils lone and high.

    Through the dead hours before the dawn,
    When the frost snaps the sill,
    From chestnut-wooded ridge to sea
    The earth lies dark and still,
    Till one great silver planet shines
    Above the eastern hill.

    It is the star of Gabriel,
    The herald of the Word
    In days when messengers of God
    With sons of men conferred,
    Who brought the tidings of great joy
    The watching shepherds heard ;

    The mystic light that moved to lead
    The wise of long ago,
    Out of the great East where they dreamed
    Of truths they could not know,
    To seek some good that should assuage
    The world's most ancient woe.

    O well, believe, they loved their dream,
    Those children of the star,
    Who saw the light and followed it,
    Prophetical, afar, --
    Brave Gaspar, clear-eyed Melchior,
    And eager Balthasar.

    Another year slips to the void,
    And still with omen bright
    Above the sleeping doubting world
    The day-star is alight,--
    The waking signal flashed of old
    In the blue Syrian night.

    But who are now as wise as they
    Whose faith could read the sign
    Of the three gifts that shall suffice
    To honor the divine,
    And show the tread of common life
    Ineffably benign ?

    Whoever wakens on a day
    Happy to know and be,
    To enjoy the air, to love his kind,
    To labor, to be free, --
    Already his enraptured soul
    Lives in eternity.

    For him with every rising sun
    The year begins anew ;
    The fertile earth receives her lord,
    And prophecy comes true,
    Wondrously as a fall of snow,
    Dear as a drench of dew.

    Who gives his life for beauty's need,
    King Gaspar could no more ;
    Who serve the truth with single mind
    Shall stand with Melchior ;
    And love is all that Balthasar
    In crested censer bore.

    Bliss Carman, Bliss Carman's poems (1931)

Winter Twilight

    Along the wintry skyline,
    Crowning the rocky crest,
    Stands the bare screen of hardwood trees
    Against the saffron west, --
    Its gray and purple network
    Of branching tracery
    Outspread upon the lucent air,
    Like week within the sea.

    The scarlet robe of autumn
    Renounced and put away,
    The mystic earth is fairer still, --
    A Puritan in gray.
    The spirit of the winter,
    How tender, how austere !
    Yet all the ardor of the spring
    And summer's dream are here.

    Fear not, O timid lover,
    The touch of frost and rime !
    This is the virtue that sustained
    The roses in their prime.
    The anthem of the northwind
    Shall hallow thy despair,
    The benediction of the snow
    Be answer to thy prayer.

    And now the star of evening
    That is the pilgrim's sign,
    Is lighted in the primrose dusk, --
    A lamp before a shrine.
    Peace fills the mighty minster,
    Tranquil and gray and old,
    And all the chancel of the west
    Is bright with paling gold.

    A little wind goes sifting
    Along the meadow floor, --
    Like steps of lovely penitents
    Who sighingly adore.
    Then falls the twilight curtain,
    And fades the eerie light,
    And frost and silence turn the keys
    In the great doors of night.

    Bliss Carman, Bliss Carman's poems (1931)

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Bibliographie :

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