"JUST CALIFORNIA" AND OTHER POEMS
by John Steven McGroarty (1933)
"Just California" "When I am in California I am not in the West. It is West of the West. It is just California. --Theodore Roosevelt 'Twixt the seas and the deserts, 'Twixt the wastes and the waves, Between the sands of buried lands And ocean's coral caves; It lies not East nor West, But like a scroll unfurled, Where the hand of God hath flung it Down the middle of the world. It lies where God hath spread it In the gladness of His eyes, Like a flame of jeweled tapestry Beneath His shining skies; With the green of woven meadows, The hills in golden chains, The light of leaping rivers, And the flash of poppied plains. Days rise that gleam in glory, Days die with sunset's breeze, While from Cathay that was of old Sail countless argosies; Morns break again in splendor O'er the giant, new-born West, But of all the lands God fashioned, 'Tis this land is the best. Sun and dews that kiss it, Balmy winds that blow, The stars in clustered diadems Upon its peaks of snow; The mighty mountains o'er it, Below, the white seas swirled-- Just California, stretching down The middle of the world. THE KING'S HIGHWAY [El Camino Real] All in the golden weather forth let us ride today, You and I together on the King's Highway, The blue skies above us, and below the shining sea; There's many a road to travel, but it's this road for me It's a long road and sunny and the fairest in the world-- There are peaks that rise above it in their snowy mantles curled, And it leads from the mountains through a hedge of chaparral Down to the waters where the sea-gulls call. It's a long road and sunny, 'tis a long road and old, And the brown Padres made it for the flocks of the fold; They made it for the sandals of the sinner-folk that trod From the fields in the open to the shelter-house of God. They made it for the sandals of the sinner-folk of old; Now the flocks they are scattered and death keeps the fold; But you and I together we will take the road today With the breath in our nostrils on the King's Highway. We will take the road together through the morning's golden glow, And we'll dream of those who trod it in the mellowed long ago; We will stop at the Missions where the sleeping Padres lay, And bend a knee above them for their souls' sake to pray. We'll ride through the valleys where the blossom's on the tree, Through the orchards and the meadows with the bird and the bee, And we'll take the rising hills where the manzanitas grow, Past the gray tails of waterfalls where blue violets blow. Old Conquistadores, O brown priests and all, Give us your ghosts for company when night begins to fall; There's many a road to travel, but its' this road today, With the breath of God about us on the King's Highway. SAN FRANCISCO  Night with its revel and its song, Night with the lights agleam-- And some sat with the festal throng, And some lay down to dream. Some they quaffed life's purple wine And watched its bubbles play, And some before a cloistered shrine Bent low their heads to pray. And over all who, staying late, Kept tryst with good or ill, The sea fogs through the Golden Gate Crept white on bay and hill. Soft and white the sea fogs lay On hill and wave and shore, While yet, before the break of day, One grim hour waited more. One grim hour more and then unbent The battle guns of hell, And from the hills the veil was rent Where white the sea fogs fell. Dead failed the morning wind that fills The galleon's eager sail, While yet the city's tumbling hills Were rocked as in a gale. Steeple and tower and stately mart, Shrine and the lair of lust, Like toppling cards were flung apart And crumbled in the dust. Some to grasp her trembling knees From blasted altars came, Some with Christ's bitter agonies, And some with cheeks of shame; Moan of the stricken hearts that rushed To dust and flame-swept sky, Till all the seven seas were hushed And stricken with the cry. That day the world forgot to hate, To her its tears were sped, The Keeper of the Golden Gate Who wept above her dead! * * * * O yesterday and yesteryear, Deep in the dust ye lie, Dried and forgotten is the tear, Forgotten is the cry. Up from the ashes of the past, From sorrow and travail, She greets again the bending mast, She greets the singing sail. Steeple and tower she lifts anew, With dauntless heart of old; New-born she greets the skies of blue Where gleam the Gates of Gold. From thrice her seven hills again, Ringing and sweet and clear, O'er sunlit seas and stretching plain She sends her song of cheer. Within her heart the blood beats warm, Her great soul leaps elate-- God save her so, safe from all harm, The Keeper of the Gate! THE GOLDEN GATE Green Tamalpais, starward swung, Brown hill and harbor isle, O winding rivers, inland flung Where sea-lured valleys smile, I see you from the waters wide, I see you watch and wait The wandering sail, the running tide, That win the Golden Gate. I see you watch and wait, as when In quest of Monterey, Swart old Don Gaspar and his men Looked on you first, that day; I see you watch in mist and sun, As when the Spaniard bore In from the sea his galleon Where ship sailed ne'er before. Footsteps a many trod since then The old Franciscan Trail-- Since swart Don Gaspar and his men Since Juan de Ayla's sail. From every trail, from every sea, With eager hearts elate, They wandered with what gods there be To seek the Golden Gate. Far from the gates of dawn they came, Far from the lands of morn, Far from the distant sunset's flame, And 'round the stormy Horn. And all the roads, 'twas there they met, Where bay to ocean spills, And there the wanderers' tents were set On thrice the seven hills. The brown-robed Padres pray no more In cowl and sandal shoon When falls on golden sea and shore The silver of the moon. The Argo's rotted keel is laid Deep in the harbor's waves, And they who wrought and they who prayed Sleep long in silent graves. Yet, as of old, the running tide Thrills through the Golden Gate, The rivers seek the ocean wide, The brown hills watch and wait. The stars on Tampalais gleam, The lights flash out to sea, And this is still the wanderer's dream Where'er his path may be.
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