For want of bread to eat and clothes to wear —
Because work failed and streets were deep in snow,
And this meant food and fire — she fell so low,
Sinning for dear life's sake, in sheer despair.
Or, because life was else so bald and bare,
The natural woman in her craved to know
The warmth of passion — as pale buds to blow
And feel the noonday sun and fertile air.

And who condemns? She who, for vulgar gain
And in cold blood, and not for love or need,
Has sold her body to more vile disgrace —
The prosperous matron, with her comely face —
Wife by the law, but prostitute in deed,
In whose gross wedlock womanhood is slain.

Perchance for dear Life's sake - and life is sweet -
When work had failed and roads were deep in snow,
And this meant food and fire, she fell so low -
That painted creature of the midnight street.
Perchance that other, with the shoeless feet,
Was Nature's victim, too untaught to know
That all live buds are not allowed to blow -
Too starved and passion-blind to be discreet.

And their accuser? She within the fold
That walks in light, bejewelled and belaced,
Who in cold blood, and not for love or need,
Sold the white flower of womanhood for gold;
The wedded harlot, rich and undisgraced,
The viler prostitute in mind and deed.

All the wild waves rock'd in shadow,
And the world was dim and grey,
Dark and silent, hush'd and breathless,
Waiting calmly for the day.

And the golden light came stealing
O'er the mountain-tops at last—
Flooding vale and wood and upland,—
It was morning—night was past.

There they lay—the silvery waters,
Fruitful forests, glade and lawn,—
All in beauty, new-created
By the angel of the dawn.

* * * * *
So my spirit slept in twilight;—
All was quiet, grey, and still,
Till the dawn of Love came stealing,
Over Hope's snow-crested hill.

Then the dim world woke in glory,
And the iris-dyes grew bright
On the waves and woods and valleys,
In a morning flood of light.

Ah! the vineyards and the gardens!—
Ah! the treasures, rich and rare,
Full of endless life and beauty,
Which that dawn created there!

The lighthouse shines across the sea;
The homing fieldfares sing for glee:
'Behold the shore!'
Alas for shattered wing and breast!
The lighthouse breakers make their nest,
And hedges bloom for them no more -
No more.

In their old church the lovers stand.
His wedding ring is on her hand,
All partings o'er.
Alas for mother still and cold
The babe her dead young arms enfold!
Her lover will know love no more -
No more.

What fate is this for birds and men?
The blue empyrean theirs - and then -
This fast-closed door.
One answers from his bended knee:
'Another morrow comes, saith he,
'A day that brings the night no more -
No more.'

Ah, happy one! Yet happier he
Who knows he knows not what will be;
Who has no lore
To read the runes of life and death,
But lives his best while he has breath,
And leaves with God the evermore -
The evermore.

The Soldier's Grave

Twas long ago, in the summer-time,
On a day as sad as this,
That I laid my babe in its father's arms,
And he gave it his farewell kiss;
When the army sail'd from the English shores
In a mist of sun and rain,
To the vine-clad hills and citadels
And the olive groves of Spain.

I set my face to the balmy south,
And listen'd, intent and dumb,
As though a cry from the battle-grounds
On the fragrant wind might come.
I yearn'd for a gleam of the red camp fires
Which burn'd through the watchful nights,
For the shine of the bayonets that clash'd one day
On the dread Albuera heights.

Ah me! And my face cannot turn away,
Though the ashes are on my brow,—
Though the news of the battle came once for all,
And there's nothing to watch for now!
Though 'tis further away than that far south land
I must look for my dear man's face,—
Though I know he will never come home again
To the chair in the old house-place!


I know now why the world was sad,
With so much good to make it glad;
Why all things loveliest and best
Have stirred vague sorrows in my breast,
And sweetest days that life has had
Have vexed me with such vast unrest.


I know why I have pined and toiled,
And found all aspirations foiled;
I know why I have gained and spent,
And never learned what riches meant;
I know what lack and loss have spoiled
The treasure of my soul's content.


Like day- dawn on the darkened earth,
Like sun and rain in drought and dearth,
Like spring, that wakens flowers so fast
When barren winter- time is past,
Love, long- deferred, has come to birth —
And I am satisfied at last.


My heart is singing; tears are shed;
I, that was starved, am warmed, and fed —
For love is fire and food and wine,
All comfort earthly and divine.
Now I am living that was dead,
And all that life can give is mine.

Good-bye! -- 'tis like a churchyard bell -- good-bye!
   Poor weeping eyes! Poor head, bowed down with woe!
   Kiss me again, dear love, before you go.
Ah, me, how fast the precious moments fly!
   Good-bye! Good-bye!

We are like mourners when they stand and cry
   At open grave in wintry wind and rain.
   Yes, it is death. But you shall rise again --
Your sun return to this benighted sky.
   Good-bye! Good-bye!

The great physician, Time, shall pacify
   This parting anguish with another friend.
   Your heart is broken now, but it will mend.
Though it is death, yet still you will not die.
   Good-bye! Good-bye!

Dear heart! dear eyes! dear tongue, that cannot lie!
   Your love is true, your grief is deep and sore;
   But love will pass -- then you will grieve no more.
New love will come. Your tears will soon be dry.
   Good-bye! Good-bye!

The Easter Decorations

O take away your dried and painted garlands!
The snow-cloth's fallen from each quicken'd brow,
The stone's rolled off the sepulchre of winter,
And risen leaves and flowers are wanted now.

Send out the little ones, that they may gather
With their pure hands the firstlings of the birth,—
Green-golden tufts and delicate half-blown blossoms,
Sweet with the fragrance of the Easter earth;

Great primrose bunches, with soft, damp moss clinging
To their brown fibres, nursed in hazel roots;
And violets from the shady banks and copses,
And wood-anemones, and white hawthorn shoots;

And tender curling fronds of fern, and grasses
And crumpled leaves from brink of babbling rills,
With cottage-garden treasures—pale narcissi
And lilac plumes and yellow daffodils.

Open the doors, and let the Easter sunshine
Flow warmly in and out, in amber waves,
And let the perfume floating round our altar
Meet the new perfume from the outer graves.

And let the Easter “Alleluia!” mingle
With the sweet silver rain-notes of the lark;
Let us all sing together!—Lent is over,
Captivity and winter, death and dark

The Old Maid's Story

Ay, many and many a year's gone by,
Since the dawn of that day in spring,
When we met in the pine-woods, Harry and I,
And he gave me this golden ring.
I had lovers in plenty, of high degree,
Who wooed in my father's hall;
But none were so noble and brave as he,
Though he was the scorn'd of all.
On the soft, green grass, where the shadows lay,
All fleck'd with the sun and dew,
With a ring and a kiss did we seal, that day,
Our vow to be leal and true.

'Twas a life-long vow;—but they did not know—
And they thought not of love or pain;—
We met just once in the sleet and snow—
We were never to meet again!
He was sent away o'er the blank, wide sea,
And I, with my hopes and fears,
Had never a message to comfort me
For over a score of years.
They laugh'd at my heart, they paraded my hand,
But I answer'd them, cold and grim—
“If Harry ne'er comes to his native land,
They shall only belong to him.”

At last came a tale from the battle-field;—
And they were not scornful now.
The sentence of exile might be repealed—
They would honour our plighted vow!
They told how my Harry, like olden knights,
Had fought for his land and Queen;
Fought hard and well on the Alma heights,
Where the deadliest strife was seen.
They told how he fell in the fire and smoke,
And they gave me his things to keep;
They wonder'd why I never cried or spoke,—
But it was too late to weep.

Late, late the prize is drawn, the goal attained,
The Heart's Desire fulfilled, Love's guerdon gained.
Wealth's use is past, Fame's crown of laurel mocks
The downward-drooping head and grizzled locks.
The end is reached - the end of toil and strife -
The end of life.

Love flowers and fades like grass, and flowers again;
The spendthrift lovers waste themselves in vain;
Their fiery passions burn out one by one,
And then, alas! when their best days are done,
Spirit and body find their perfect mate -
So late! So late!

Long-sought, long seeking, through the lonely years,
The wanderers meet to weep their useless tears
For time and chance irrevocably flown,
Dear hopes outlived and happy faiths outgrown,
Children unborn, the myriad joys unseen
That might have been.

Not for the spring and morning-time of youth
The perfect flower of slow-unfolding truth,
The perfect love, that dreams of youth foretell,
But youth knows not and youth could never tell;
That light celestial, as of sunset fires
When day expires.

Late comes the gift that crowns the hungry quest,
Like ripe wheat-harvest in a land at rest,
And comes alone, a consecrated cup,
To those proved worthy to sit down and sup.
To them - aye, aye, despite their treasure lost,
'T'is worth the cost.

'T'is worth the cost to reach the heights at last,
Ere eyes are dim and daylight overpast.
To see one aim achieved, one dream fulfilled,
Ere striving brain and trusting heart are stilled.
To live one glorious hour - its price of pain
Is never paid in vain.

The sun has set; grey shadows darken slowly
The rose-red cloud-hills that were bathed in light.
O Lord, to Thee, with spirit meek and lowly,
I kneel in prayer to-night.

I thank Thee for my “daily bread”—the sorrow
And the gladness Thou hast given me this day—
The strange rich gifts which, through a long to-morrow,
Deep in my soul will stay.

I thank Thee for the grace that aye restrainèd
My passionate will when it was bent for wrong—
That fed the soul-lamp when the light had wanèd,
And made the weak hands strong.

I thank Thee that the gentle voice of pleading
Made itself heard amid the whirl and strife—
E'en when I walk'd my wilful way unheeding,
Telling of light and life.

That in the sad hour of my soul's affliction,
When I look'd backward as from parchèd lands,
The “gracious rain” of heavenly benediction
Fell still from outstretch'd hands.

Ay, ay, no earnest hope, no true endeavour,
Has been unanswer'd or unbless'd by Thee:
Thou, Lord, who carest for Thine own for ever,
Hast cared indeed for me.

I think of all the blessing and the sweetness
That made the burden of this day so light,
How my home-ties are still in their completeness
Wound round my heart to-night;

How Thou hast had my treasures in Thy keeping,
And yet hast spared them to be mine—still mine;
How o'er the beds where my loved ones are sleeping
Thy folded wings will shine.
And, O my God! I cannot thank Thee duly—
No word or deed which Jesus' love will take
Can span the measure of one blessing truly.
Forgive—for Jesus' Sake!

Awawe-worn boulder, with green sea-moss wrapping
A silken mantle o'er its jagged sides;
And silvery, seething waters softly lapping
Through gulfs and channels hollow'd by the tides:

A lime-cliff overhead, o'erhanging grimly,
A dash of sunlight on its breast of snow;
The white line of the breakers, stretching dimly
Along the narrow sea-beach down below:

The grey waste of the waters, with one slender,
Glimmering, golden ripple far away;
The haze of summer twilight, sweet and tender,
Veiling the fair face of the dying day:

The measured plash of surf upon the shingle,
The ceaseless gurgle through the rocks and stones;
No sound of struggling human life, to mingle
With those mysterious and eternal tones!

No sound—no sound,—a hungry sea-mew only
Breaking the stillness with her little cry;
And the low whisper, when 'tis all so lonely,
Of soft south breezes as they wander by:—

I see it all; sweet dreams of it are thronging
In full floods back upon my weary brain;
To-night, in my dark chamber, the old longing
Almost fulfils its very self again.

The dying sunbeams, on the far waves glinting,
Come like warm kisses to my lips and brow,
Soothing my spirit—all its grey thoughts tinting
With tender shades of golden colour now.

Alone and still, I sit, and think, and listen,
Looking out westward o'er the darkening sea;
My seat the boulder, where the spray-drops glisten;
The tall, white cliffs my regal canopy.
And, as I sit, the fretting cares and sorrows,
Weighing so heavy when the work is done,
The gloomy yesterdays and dim to-morrows,
They slip away and vanish one by one,—

Slip backward to the world that lies behind me,
Ever by sinful footsteps overtrod;
And in this unstain'd world leave nought to bind me,
This sweet world, fillèd with the peace of God!

Seed-Time And Harvest

“Thou waterest her furrows, thou sendest rain into the little valleys
thereof; thou makest it soft with the drops of rain, and blessest the increase
of it.”

Fret not thyself so sorely, heart of mine,
For that the pain hath roughly broke thy rest,—
That thy wild flowers lie dead upon thy breast,
Whereon the cloud-veiled sun hath ceased to shine.

Fret not that thou art seam'd and scarr'd and torn;
That clods are piled where tinted vetches were;
That long worms crawl to light, and brown rifts, bare
Of green and tender grasses, widely yawn.

God's hand is on the plough—so be thou still.
Thou canst not see Him, for thine eyes are dim;
But wait in patience, put thy trust in Him;
Give thanks for love, and leave thee to His will.

Ah! in due time the lowering clouds shall rain
Soft drops on my parch'd furrows; I shall sow
In tears and prayers, and green corn-blades will grow;
I shall not wish the wild flowers back again.

I shall be glad that I did work and weep—
Be glad, O God! my slumbering soul did wake—
Be glad my stubborn heart did heave and break
Beneath the plough—when angels come to reap.

Be glad, O Father! that my land was till'd
And sown and water'd, in the harvest-day
When Thou wilt cast the weeds and tares away,
And when with ripen'd fruit Thy barns are fill'd.

Keep me my faith, I pray. I cannot see,
And fear to intermeddle with Thy work.
Oh, though I wince and fret, I would not shirk
The discipline that is so good for me!

I know that Thou wilt make my grief to cease,
Wilt send the cool, soft drops of healing rain,
And make my scarred heart green with springing grain,
That after patient waiting cometh peace;

That after beautiful labour I shall rest,
And after weeping have my fill of joy.
Thou breakest down to build up, not destroy;
Thou doest right, O Lord! Thou knowest best.

So still—so still! Only the endless sighing
Of sad Æolian harp-notes overhead;
Only the soft mass-music for the dying;
Only the requiem for the newly dead!

So strangely dim!—the grey mist on the heather,
The chill cloud-twilight in the wind-stripped bowers,
Where gold and scarlet sunlights lay together
On harvest fruit and summer wealth of flowers.

So empty now!—only the dead leaves sifting
The dead brown berries underneath the trees;
Only my fair dead treasures idly drifting
About my footsteps in the autumn breeze.

All over now! No flowers that must be tended
Are left to grow upon the open plain;
No fruits to ripen; for the harvest's ended—
There's no more need for either sun or rain.

The infinite hope, the boundless, strong endeavour,
The love and joy I never thought to sum,
The precious things that were to last for ever—
All gather'd now, and nothing more to come!

Only the shroud of snow, the white star-tapers,
The passionate storm-winds, wailing in the air;
Only the icy rain and tearful vapours,
Only the winter darkness of despair!

* * * * *
So still, so sweet! with tender breezes blowing
Amongst the hills and o'er the Lowland sod,
And golden drifts of dead leaves softly strowing
The seed-graves hollow'd by the hands of God.

So grey and calm! the crimson glory faded
From this low sky, pale blue and purple-barred—
This placid sea, with steel and silver shaded—
This fair earth, now with autumn furrows scarred.

In the decay such chasten'd beauty blending—
Beauty late-born of peace, and hope, and rest,
As in a saintly life when near the ending,
When all its strife and labour has been blest.
The harvest-time is past. But there remaineth
The well-stored treasure-house—the hidden seed
That dead leaves help to nourish, which containeth
The germ of a new life that's life indeed.

Can this be my poem?—this poor fragment
Of bald thought in meanest language dressed!
Can this string of rhymes be my sweet poem?
All its poetry wholly unexpressed!

Does it tell me of the dreams that wandered,
In the silent night-time, through my brain?
Of the woven web of wondrous fancies,
Half of keenest joy and half of pain?

Does it tell me of the awful beauty
That came down to hide this sordid earth?
Does it tell me of the inward crying?—
Of the glory whence it had its birth?

Only as the lamp, all dull and rusted,
Tells me of the flame that is put out,—
Of the shiny hair and happy faces
Lighted, when its radiance streamed about?

Only as this piece of glass, now lying
In the shade beside me, as I sit,
Tells me of the soft hues of the rainbow,
That the morning sunshine gave to it!

Only as this little flask, now smelling
Of the dust and mould with which 'tis lined,
Tells me of the lovely subtle fragrance
Of the perfume that it once enshrined!

Only as a picture, blurred and faded,
Tells me of the bloom of colour there,
When the painter's soul was with his canvas,
And his paint was bright, and fresh, and fair!

Only as the wires and keys—notes broken,
Odd and scattered—tell me of a strain
That once filled my very soul with rapture,
But can never be spelled out again!
Only as a bare brown flower-stalk tells me
Of the delicate blossom that it wore;
Of the humming bees in silken petals,
And the downy butterflies it bore!

Only as a crazy boat, sun-blistered,
Drawn up high and dry upon the sands,
Tells me of the blue and buoyant billows
Bearing breezy sails to foreign lands!

Only as a little dead lark, lying
With bedraggled wings and withered throat,
Tells me of the songs it heard in heaven—
Trying to teach me, here and there, a note!

Oh no! oh no! this is not my treasure—
This is but the shell where it has lain;
It is gone—the life, and light, and glory,—
And 'twill never come to me again!

Too late the prize is drawn, the goal attained.
Too late, too late, our heart's desire is gained.
Wealth's use is past; Fame's crown of laurel mocks
The downward drooping head and grizzled locks.
The end is reached — the end of toil and strife —
The end of life.

Love flowers and fades like grass, and flowers again,
And strong young hearts spend all their strength in vain.
The fiery passions burn out, one by one,
And then, too late, when our best days are done,
Spirit and body find their perfect mate —
Too late, too late!

Long sought, long seeking, through the lonely years,
We meet at last to weep our useless tears
For time and chance irrevocably flown,
For dreams outlived and fervent hopes outgrown,
For babes unborn, for myriad joys unseen,
That might have been.

Too late, too late! And yet the priceless boon
Might ne'er have come to bless us, late or soon;
And only comes, like Holy Grail, to those
Made wise and pure by bitter needs and woes.
We learn the worth of life when life is o'er,
And not before.

Not for the spring and morning time of youth
The perfect flower of slow- unfolding truth —
The perfect love, deep, passionate, and strong,
That comes of wanting much and waiting long.
This glorious fire is of the setting sun
When day is done.

This harvest wealth, this crowning gift of fate,
This fruit of suffering years, must aye come late;
And only seeking spirit and ripe mind —
Only a few — the matchless treasure find,
And find, despite all time and chances lost,
'Twas worth the cost.

Ah me! To stand upon this height at last,
Ere eyes are dim or daylight overpast;
To see one aim achieved, one dream fulfilled,
Ere striving brain and hoping heart are stilled;

To know that we have borne a lifelong pain
Not all in vain!

O, not too late, if once we reach the goal —
If once we satisfy this hungry soul —
If only for a year, a day, an hour,
We drink our fill of life's true bliss and power.
If we but touch that point, we conquer fate
Not quite too late!

And must I wear a silken life,
Hemmed in by city walls?
And must I give my garden up
For theatres and balls?

Nay, though the cage be made of gold,
'Tis better to be free;
The green of the green meadows, love,
Is quite enough for me.

I'd rather ramble through the lanes
Than drive about in town;
I'd rather muse or dream than dance,
When the stars are shining down.

I do not care for diamonds, dear,
But I care a deal for flowers;
And thousands are just creeping out
For the sunshine and the showers.

I like to hear the Household band,
But I love the bird-songs best;
And hark! how they are twittering now
Round each half-hidden nest!

The wind is whispering in the leaves,
And the downy bees begin
To hum in the blossoming sycamores,
And the brook is chiming in.

There is such melody in the woods,
Such music in the air!
The streets are full of life and sound,
And yet 'tis silent there.

I like to see the pictures—ay,
But I am hard to please!
I never saw a picture yet
As great and grand as these;
Such tones of colour as transform
The tender green and brown,
When the pink dawn is flushing up,
Or the red sun sinking down;

Such painting as the chestnut bud
Shows in its opening heart;
Such lights as shine 'twixt earth and sky
When rain-clouds break apart;

Such soft, warm, subtle tints, as lie
In every mossy patch—
On the blue-brown trunks, now filled with life,
And the humble roof of thatch,—

In the purple hollows of the hills,
In the lichen on the wall,
In the orchard and the feathery woods,
And the sun-lit waterfall.

I like my humble country ways,
My simple, early meals;
I like to potter about the yard,
With my chickens at my heels.

I'd rather climb this brambly steep,
Where freshest sea-winds blow,
With my old straw hat hanging down my back.
Than canter along the Row.

To me (it's vulgar, dear, I know)
No fête half so gay
As a cricket-match on the village green,
Or a picnic in the hay.

Ah, yes! I'm happier as I am,—
I'm ignorant, you see;
And the life of fashion that you love
Would never do for me.

Practising The Anthem

A summer wind blows through the open porch,
And, 'neath the rustling eaves,
A summer light of moonrise, calm and pale,
Shines through a vale of leaves.

The soft gusts bring a scent of summer flowers,
Fresh with the falling dew,
And round the doorway, glimmering white as snow,
The tender petals strew.

Clear through the silence, from a reedy pool
The curlew's whistle thrills;
A lonely mopoke sorrowfully cries
From the far-folding hills.

O lovely night, and yet so sad and strange!
My fingers touch the key;
And down the empty church my Christmas song
Goes ringing, glad and free.

Each sweet note knocks at dreaming memory's door,
And memory wakes in pain;
The spectral faces she had turn'd away
Come crowding in again.

The air seems full of music all around—
I know not what I hear,
The multitudinous echoes of the past,
Or these few voices near.

Ah me! the dim aisle vaguely widens out,
I see me stand therein;
A glory of grey sculpture takes the light
A winter morn brings in.

No more I smell the fragrant jessamine flowers
That flake a moonlit floor;
The rustling night-breeze and the open porch
I hear and see no more.
Great solemn windows, down a long, long nave
Their shadow'd rainbows fling;
Dark Purbeck shafts, with hoary capitals,
In carven archways spring.

And overhead the throbbing organ waves
Roll in one mighty sea,

Bearing the song the herald angels sang
Of Christ's nativity.

Dear hands touch mine beneath the open book,
Sweet eyes look in my face,—
They smile, they melt in darkness; I am snatch'd
From my familiar place.

The summer night-wind blows upon my tears;
Its flowery scent is pain.
O cold, white day! O noble minster—when
May I come back again!

To hear the angels' anthem shake the air,
Where never discord jars,—
The Christmas carols in the windy street,
Under the frosty stars;

The dream-like falling from the still, grey skies,
With falling flakes of snow,
Of mellow chimes from old cathedral bells,
Solemn and sweet and slow.

To hear loved footsteps beating time with mine
Along the churchyard path,—
To see that ring of faces once again
Drawn round the blazing hearth.

When may I come? O Lord, when may I go?
Nay, I must wait Thy will.
Give patience, Lord, and in Thine own best way
My hopes and prayers fulfil.

Is the morning dim and cloudy? Does the wind drift up the leaves?
Is there mist upon the mountains, where the sun shone yesterday?
Are the little song-birds silent? Is the sky all blurred and grey?
Does the rain fall, patter, patter, from the eaves?

Does your glass go down? And does your heart sink in the dreary lull?
Are the strings relax'd and limp, and do the soft notes whine and cry?
Has the damp got in and jarred the chords and spoil'd the melody?
Are you out of tune, belovèd? are you dull?

Has the chill wind found an entrance? Does it sigh and rustle there?
Is it drifting, not the dead leaves, but your dead hopes, all about?
Is it waking up your sorrow while your light is blotted out?
Does your heart seem sad and cold and full of care?

Are you listless and discouraged, dear? and does your life look grey?
Does there seem no use in trying? Does your work fall from your hand?
Would you give up the great riddle that's so hard to understand?
Oh, then, go you to your chamber straight, and pray.

Go and pray, and God will give you peace and comfort for your pain—
All the misty, dull confusion He will tenderly reform—
And the fire of His own Spirit, that shall make you dry and warm;
And your harp-strings shall be strung and tuned again.

Ay, the Lord will put the melody in your heart and soul anew;
So that, howsoe'er unskilled and rude the hands that touch the wires,
There shall come forth beautiful chords of faith and hope and high desires,
Only music that is deep and sweet and true.

Go and work,—the clouds will show the silver lining that's behind.
Go to squalid lanes and alleys, where grim want and sickness lurk;
Feed the hungry, soothe the suffering, tell the poor of Christ,—oh, work,
And you'll no more hear the rustling of the wind.

Then you'll no more hear the restless, hopeless sobbing over sin,
No more hear the earthly troubles crying, crying from the ground;
For the wings of guardian angels, they shall compass you around,
That the wind shall have no place to enter in.
Then, as wither'd leaves lie browning on the quiet grassy slopes,
As they sink in peaceful earth, and moulder with it as they die,
To help nurture precious seeds for coming summers— so shall lie,
Calm and still, your sorrowful memories and dead hopes.

O belovèd, work and wait! The sun will shine another day,
On a heart refresh'd, and strong, and green, and cool. The rain and gloom
Are to make the sap run quicker, give the flowers a deeper bloom—
We have need for both the golden and the grey.


Love, thou hast wandered far and wide,
But here thy wanderings cease;
Thy long- sought mate is by thy side,
And thou canst sleep in peace.


Night moans outside our window- pane,
And weeps from dripping eaves;
The air is thick with falling rain
Upon dead autumn leaves.


The winds of winter rave and chafe
Around thy tranquil nest,
But I am here, and thou art safe —
Thy very soul may rest.


The wild surf- thunder swells and falls
Upon the seething beach —
Thy world within thy chamber- walls
Nor winds nor waves can reach.


Sleep, fired eyes! Sleep well, dear heart,
That ached so long for me!
No sudden hand shall tear apart
These arms that shelter thee


Sleep well, though late- found joys be brief,
And bought with tears and pain;
Shut out the memory of thy grief —
Thou didst not grieve in vain.


Think of our treasure, kept in store,
And not the price it cost —
Those precious years, that come no more,
Which thou and I have lost.


O, wasted years, that lie behind
Hush — what is past is past.
Enough that we have lived to find
What life is worth at last.


Though Fate has robbed us of so much,
We know not what we miss;
All ills are recompensed in such
A priceless good as this.


Sleep,dear! The hours are passing on —
The midnight bells have tolled;
Think not how much of life is gone,
But how much more we hold.


Yes, more — as wise men reckon life —
Though no wise man can tell
How soon, for husband and for wife,
The stroke of doom will knell.


No echo of that solemn chime
Break through thy perfect peace!
No forecast of that awful time
When time for us will cease:


When happier worlds shall shine in space,
For other eyes to see,
And none have any more a place
For thy true love and thee.


Be blind to all, and deaf, and dumb,
In thy quick heart's despite!
Content thee — though the end must come,
It will not come to- night.


This night let never thought of ill
Disturb thy slumber deep;
To- morrow I shall have thee still,
So thou canst safely sleep:


Reprieved from that appalling fear,
As from thy long regret —
Be our last parting far or near,
We have not reached it yet.


Thy head lies pillowed on my breast —
My cheek upon thy brow —
Dear love, good night! Thou art at rest
From Past and Future now.

The Winged Mariners

Through the wild night, the silence and the dark,
Through league on league of the uncharted sky,
Lonelier than dove of fable from its ark,
The fieldfares fly.

Mate with his tiny mate, and younglings frail,
That only knew the crevice of their tree
Until, in faith stupendous, they set sail
Across the sea.

The black North Sea, that takes such savage toll
Of ships and men - and yet could not appal
These little mariners, who seek their goal
Beyond it all.

Turning those soft, indomitable breasts
To meet the unchained Titans of the deep -
Calm, as if cradled in Norwegian nests,
Their course they keep.

No more than thistledown or flake of snow
To those great gods at play, they win the game;
Never sped archer's arrow from his bow
With surer aim.

Still tossed and scattered, their unwinking eyes
Point to that pole unseen where wanderings cease;
Still on they press, and warble to the skies
With hearts at peace.

Scenting the English morning in the air,
Through the salt night, ere any morning wakes -
The perfumed fields, the dun woods, sere and bare,
The brambly brakes -

The well-loved orchard, with its hawthorn hedge,
Where luscious berries, red and brown, are found -
The misty miles of water-mead and sedge
Where gnats abound.
. . . . .

But what is this, 'twixt sea and surf-bound shore?
What form stands there, amid the shadows gray,
With flaming blade that smites them as they soar,
And bars their way?

Hushed are the twittering throats; each silken head
Turns to the voiceless siren - turns and stares -
By some strange lure of mystery and dread
Caught unawares.

It draws them on, as the magnetic sun
Draws vagrant meteors to its burning breast.
The day is near, the harbour all but won -
That English nest.

But here they meet inexorable Fate;
Here lies a dreadful reef of fire and glass;
Here stands a glittering sentry at the gate -
They cannot pass.

Confused, dismayed, they flutter in the gale,
Those little pinions that have lost their track;
The gallant hearts that sped them reel and fail
Like ships aback.

Sucked in a magic current, like a leaf
Torn from autumnal tree, they drift abroad,
But ever nearer to the siren reef,
The ruthless sword.

On, on, transfixed and swooning, without check,
To the lee shore of that bedazzling wall,
Until they strike, and break in utter wreck,
And founder all.

Brave little wings, that sailed the storm so well,
Trimmed to the set of every wayward blast!
Brave little hearts, that never storm could quell,
Beaten at last!

The great sea swallows them, and they are gone,
For ever gone, like bubbles of the foam;
And the bright star that lured them, shining on,
Still points to Home.

Midsummer, 1867.
We have heard many sermons, you and I,
And many more may hear,
When sitting quiet in cathedral nave,
With folded palms and faces meek and grave;—
But few like this one, dear.

We ofttimes watch together 'fore the veil,
With reverent, gleaming eyes,
While priestly hands are busy with the folds,—
And pant to see the holy place, which holds
Life's dreadest mysteries.
We watch weak, foolish fingers straying o'er
The broidered boss, to grasp
Vaguely at some small end of thread, and twist
And shake the glorious pattern into mist,
And leave us nought to clasp.

We watch, with eyes dilated, some strong hand
Of nerve and muscle, trace
The grand, faint outlines, erewhile undefined
To our slow earth-enfolded sense, and find
The great design—the shadow from behind—
Dawning before our face.

But seldom do we see, dear, you and I,
The pattern melt in light,
And all the shine flow out on us, uncheck'd—
With eyes of soul and not of intellect—
As we did see that night.

It was a summer-night—the sun was low,
But overlaid the sea,
And made gold-crystals of the wet sea-sand,
And drew our shadows short upon the strand
That stretched out shallowly.

It was a Sunday night—far off we heard
The solemn vesper-chime
From some grey wind-swept steeple by the shore,
Chanting “For ev-er-more! for ev-er-more!”
While the deep sea beat time.

We wandered far that night, dear, you and I,

We wandered out of reach,—
Until the golden distances grew grey,
And narrowed in the glory, as it lay
'Mid horizon and beach.

We wandered far along the lonely waste,
Where seldom foot had trod;
The world behind us dared not to intrude—
The summer silence and the solitude
Were only filled with God.

We sat down on the sand there, you and I,
We sat down awed and dumb,
And watched the fiery circle fall and fall
Through solemn folds of purple, and the small
Soft ripples go and come.

There was not wind enough to stir the reeds
Around us, nor to curl
The sheeny, dimpled surface of the deep;
The waters murmured low, as half in sleep,
With measured swish and swirl.

Two sea-birds came and dabbled in the pools,
And cried their plaintive cry,
As their strong wings swept o'er us as we sat
(No profanation of the stillness that,
But added sanctity).

They flecked the crimson shallows with black streaks,
Low-wheeling to and fro,
Crying their bold, sweet cry, as knowing well
It was a place where God, not man, did dwell—
A father, not a foe.

* * * * *
Ah, we hear many sermons, you and I—
The poor words fall and drown;
But this, whose speech was silence, this has stirred
The stream of years,—and aye it will be heard
As when that sun went down!

When the investing darkness growls,
And deep reverberates to deep;
When keyhole whines and chimney howls,
And all the roofs and windows weep;
Then, through the doorless walls of sleep,
The still-sealed ear and shuttered sight,
Phantoms of memory steal and creep,
The very ghosts of sound and light--
Dream-visions and dream-voices of a bygone night.

I see again, I hear again,
Where lightnings flash and house-eaves drip,
A flying swirl of waves and rain--
That storm-path between Sound and Rip.
I feel the swaying of the ship
In every gust that rocks the trees,
And taste that brine upon my lip
And smell the freshness of the breeze
That sped us through the welter of those racing seas.

I hear the menace of the call
To rope and rivet, wheel and mast,
In the swift onrush of the squall,
The challenge of the thundering blast
To daring men as it sweeps past;
And in my dream I have no dread.
Rivet and rope are firm and fast,
The clear lights shining, green and red,
The quiet eyes of sentry watching overhead.

What epic battles pass unsung!
It was a war of gods befell
On that wild night when we were young.
They rode, like cavalry of hell,
The mighty winds, the monstrous swell,
On their white horses, fierce and fleet;
They stood at bay, invincible,
Where pulsed beneath our sliding feet
The faithful iron heart that never lost a beat.

How the sharp sea-spume lashed and stung!
How the salt sea-wind tugged and tare
And clawed and mauled us where we clung,
With panting breasts and streaming hair,
To our frail eyrie in mid-air!
How we exulted in the fight--
With neither haste nor halt to dare
Those Titans furies in their might,
Undaunted and unswerving in our insect flight!

No lap of exquisite repose!
A mortar wherein souls are brayed;
An anvil ringing to the blows
Whereby true men are shaped, and made
Divinely strong and unafraid.
Such gallant sailor-men there be--
Never unready or dismayed,
Though 't's the face of death they see
In cyclone, fire and fog, and white surf on the lee.

Not only in the sylvan bower,
On dreaming hill, by sleeping mere,

The holy place--the sacred hour.
Beset by every form of fear,
Darkness ahead and danger near,
Sorely hard-driven and hard-prest,
But still unspent and of good cheer--
He finds them who can pass the test,
Who never winks an eye and never stays to rest

The Resting-Place

“Because I live, ye shall live also.”

Calmly the Paschal moonlight now is sleeping
On mossy hillock and on headstone grey,
Where still our Mother holds in faithful keeping
Such as, while living, in her dear arms lay.
Ah! loving and beloved, we know ye rest,
E'en in the grave, upon her hallow'd breast.

Where is the cumbrous robe—the flesh—the matter
Which held the spirit in such painful thrall?
A little dust that scarce a breath would scatter,
Darkness, and void, and silence—this seems all.
Yet somewhere, safe, the waiting body lies,
While the freed spirit is in Paradise.

Ah! in that day, when earth is all refinèd
From death and sin, the darkness and the stain;
When Eden's perfect beauty is enshrinèd
In unmarred purity and light again;
Transfigured, and “exceeding white as snow”—
But still that body—it will rise, we know.

The self-same lips that hymn'd the Easter story
With heart of Easter gladness, here, may sing
The song of angels, in the angels' glory,
Around the throne of our Almighty King.
The same feet, which this ancient pavement trod,
May walk for aye the temple-courts of God.

O blessed day, which saw the Saviour risen!
Which told to trembling man that wondrous news—
“The grave is not thy body's endless prison,
Thy soul no more in vain for pardon sues.
From Adam's curse, by Christ's death, thou art free—
The Lord accepts this sacrifice for thee.”

“Peace be with you”—by Him those words were spoken
After the glorious victory was won—
After the angel gave that blessed token
To her whose favour'd lips had called him “Son.”
Ah! where were peace, if every trembling breath
Strengthen'd the fetters of an endless death?

Where were the peace, if that dark cloud of mourning
From Calvary's hill had never pass'd away?
If our deep night had never known the dawning
Of that mysterious Resurrection-day?
O Christ our Lord! Thou didst indeed release
Thy sinful children, and didst give them peace.

And now we know that Thou art throned for ever,
True God, and yet true man, in heaven above;
That now no power our life from Thine can sever,
That naught shall rob us of Thy gift of love;
That Thou, within the veil, dost intercede
For all who suffer and for all in need.

That Thou art with us here, too, in our sorrow—
With us to help in every time of strife,
Dost give to each dark day its joyous morrow,
Dost make us strong with Thine own love and life.
And we may love, and we may come to Thee
In heaven, and share Thy great felicity!

Ay, when the grass upon our grave is sighing
In the cool wind and Easter moonlight fair,
The mortal dust, beneath the violets lying,
Shall rest in hope and rest in safety there,
Till Thou shalt come with Thy celestial train,
And our bright spirit take its own again.

“After Thy likeness,” in its sweet perfection,
Shall we awake in that eternal day;
All—save the sin—shall have its resurrection,
Clothed in Thy glorious immortality.
And we shall stand Thy radiant throne beside,
Blessed for evermore, and—satisfied!

AS flower to sun its drop of dew
Gives from its crystal cup,
So I, as morning gift to you,
This poor verse offer up.

As flowers upon the summer wind
Their air-born odours shake,
So, in all fragrance you may find,
I give but what I take.

My tree blooms green through snow and heat;
Your love is sap and root,—
And this is but the breathing sweet
Of fairest blossom-shoot.

An outgrowth of the happy days
In wedded lives begun—
Two lives, in all their work and ways,
Indissolubly one.

The force that was to bind us so
We very dimly knew.
Ah, love! it seems so long ago,
And yet the years are few.

We did not wait for tides to rise,
Nor cared that winds were rough;
They call'd us foolish—we were wise;
God gave us wealth enough.

He only knows what precious change
We took of Him for gold;
What blessing such a narrow range
Of circumstance can hold.

No troubles now could memory spare,
No lightest touch of pain;
No hard experience of care
Would we unlearn again.

Such love surrounds, such beauty lies
On our most common needs,
As silver hoar-frost glorifies
The wayside sticks and weeds.

All trials that are overpast,
All cares that are to be,
But make more sacred and more fast
The ties 'twixt you and me.

They are but clear lights shining through
The mist that round us rolls;
They are but touchstones, fine and true,
For fond and faithful souls.

They are but fires, to cleanse and clean
Our human love from stain;
For naught of sordid, false, or mean
From those blest fires remain.

They are but keys within the wards
Of that last, inmost door,
Where the heart's dearest treasure-hoards
Are garner'd evermore.

Ah, dear! our very griefs are glad
Our every cross is crown'd;
We are not able to be sad,
Such comfort wraps us round.

How calm the haven where we rest,
Now passion's storms are past!
How warm and soft the little nest
Which shelters us at last!

How—blue, pellucid, and divine—
Through all our days and nights,
The clear eyes of our children shine
Like heavenly beacon-lights!

We listen to the laughter sweet
Whose echoes come and go,
The music of the little feet
That patter to and fro.

And deepest thoughts of God awake,
Who hath reveal'd Him thus,
And, in His goodness, deign'd to make
His own abode with us.

To God, in Christ, we kneel to-day
(Whose will on earth be done);
As He hath made us, let us pray
That He will keep us, one.

Together, may we feel Him stand
About our path and bed;
Together may we, hand in hand,
His royal highway tread.

The dear ones He has given, to be
Of His redeem'd the type—
Together, may we live to see
Their budding promise ripe.

And, O my dearest! may we lie,
In our last night of rest,
Asleep together, peacefully,
Upon our Father's breast


Why should we care for storms that rave and rend,
Safe at our household hearth?
Unknowing whence we came, or where we wend,
Why should we ache and toil, and waste and spend,
Treading from no beginning to no end,
An uncrowned martyr's path?


Is it worth while to suffer, when we might,
Like happier men, be blest
With that dull blindness that desires no light,
That peaceful soul that feels no need to fight,
Nor thirsts for liberty, and truth, and right,
But lives its life at rest?


Is it worth while to work, and strive, and learn —
To sow where none may reap?
Is it worth while to rage, and fret, and yearn
For nameless treasure that we cannot earn?
Is it worth while in fever- fires to burn,
While wise men eat and sleep?


Is it worth while to care for praise or blame,
This little time we live,
When purest deeds are oftenest put to shame?
To pant for noble strife and lofty fame,
When gold seems better than a stainless name,
Or all the world can give?


Is it worth while for friendship's gift to sue,
For friendship's joys to crave?
When sordid tests, that bring us ruth and rue,
And sorrowful years, alone discern the clue
That tells us what is false and what is true,
And what we lose or save?


To open wide our sanctuary door
Some welcome guest to greet,
To find, perchance, when we have shown our store,
The sacred places rudely trampled o'er,
Bereaved, profaned, and soiled for evermore
With tread of vulgar feet?


Is it worth while to love — though love find grace
In our belovèd's sight?
To bear a restless heart from place to place,
Hungry for sight of one transcendent face,
That shines our central sun in azure space,
Or leaves our world in night:


And, after all, to gain no more than this
At such a life- long cost —
A taste, a glimpse, the memory of a kiss,
A speechless sense of what diviner bliss,
That might have been, we have contrived to miss —
To know what love has lost?


Is it worth while — O sadder fate! — to heed
The solemn chime that knells
The death hour of an immemorial creed —
A staff of strength become a broken reed —
And never friendlier help in time of need,
Nor surer guide, foretells?


To heed the spirit- voice that bids us take
A strange new road alone;
From gentle slumber and sweet dreams to wake,
And hear the mighty billows boom and break —
The thunder of immortal seas that shake
The earth's foundation- stone?


Is it worth while, so far away as we,
To long, in hope and dread,
For the great unborn Age that is to be —
To pine for light that we shall never see —
To care what course man's life and destiny
May take when we are dead?


Is it worth while to toil in doubt and fear,
Through thorny ways like these,
When they who turn blind eye and heedless ear
To change and portent, and who see nor hear
The pregnant storm that gathers far and near,
Dwell all their days at ease?


To leave the Good whereof we are possest,
To search, in gloom and grief,
Through pathless trouble, for some unknown Best,
And see no goal, and find no place of rest —
Is it worth while, on such a fruitless quest
To waste a life so brief?


Is it worth while to wear out heart and brain?
Ah me, what must be must!
The maddening Mystery cannot be made plain,
And they who seek to solve it seek in vain,
Yet can but seek, in sleepless hope and pain,
Till heart and brain are dust.


Is it a will o' the wisp, or is dawn breaking,
That our horizon wears so strange a hue?
Is it but one more dream, or are we waking
To find at last that dreams are coming true?


Far off and faint, a golden line is streaking
The cloudy night that shrouds the life of man;
It is the sun that dim eyes have been seeking,
Through all blind pathways, since the world began.


The sign to weary heart and waiting nation
That day will come to bring them their release
That, late or soon, through storm and tribulation,
Or with slow change, the earth shall rest in peace.


That One, invoked, with half- despairing passion.
Through years and years of wrong, will right us then;
Will take away, in rude or gentle fashion,
The curse that man has laid on brother- men.


Ah, blessed One! our souls go out to meet thee,
At whose feet Hope will fold her tired wing;
And yet we know not how we ought to greet thee,
And take the gifts thy bounteous arms will bring.


Come not, O friend! with vengeful weapons, borrowed
Of them that warred against thee — sword and flame;
For all alike have suffered and have sorrowed,
And all alike have sinned against thy name.


Come thou to men who groan in sore affliction
A breathing spirit of new life and grace;
Come in thy robes of light and benediction,
That all may recognize thy perfect face.


Yet, as thou must, come soon, for them than need thee —
And thou wilt come — Deliverer great and strong!
Brighten, O tender dawn, though few may heed thee,
And bring the day that we have sought so long!


No class strife then, each man against his neighbour,
No waste, no want, to breed the plague of crime;
No insolent pomp, no hard and sordid labour,
No wars, no famines, in that happier time!


But pleasant homes, and good days growing better;
Contented hearts throughout the tranquil land,
That keep the law, in spirit and in letter,
Which we have been so dull to understand.


And fruitful work, instead of barren duty,
With fruitful rest and leisure interweaved;
And life made bright with plenty and with beauty,
And souls made strong with noble aims achieved.


Great Art, no more the plaything of the idle,
But nurse and handmaid to all human needs;
Great Nature, curbed no more with bit and bridle,
Nor men's religion crushed in bitter creeds.


Nor sacred Love a crime, a jest, an error,
To keep or lose, to give or to suppress,
A secret shame, an anguish and a terror,
A curse to them that it was meant to bless.


All round our narrow lives the tide encroaches,
Distant and dim, but spreading far and fast.
O Liberty, thy longed- for reign approaches
That is to give man's birthright back at last!


And must we go, who see the new age dawning,
While yet we suffer in the pangs of birth,
Nor breathe one breath of the divinest morning
That yet has come to bless our waiting earth?


Oh, must we go, just when the day is growing?
Oh, must we waste with vast and vain desires,
Like sparks put out when viewless winds are blowing,
We, lit and quickened with supernal fires


Are we to read no more the wondrous pages
Of this great tale that evermore goes on?
Will suns and stars light up eternal ages
With happier worlds — and we alone be gone?


Never to learn the moral of the story —
Why we have toiled for what we must not keep,
Why we have fought to win no crown of glory,
Why we have sown what unborn hands will reap.


Never to learn wherefore our Maker sent us
With these immortal passions in our breast.
Ah me! Ah me! Wherewith can we content us
To know so much, and not to know the rest!

By The Camp Fire

Ah, 'twas but now I saw the sun flush pink on yonder placid tide;
The purple hill-tops, one by one, were strangely lit and glorified;
And yet how sweet the night has grown, with palest starlights dimly sown!

Those mountain ranges, far and near, enclasp me,— sharply pencilled there,
Like blackest sea-waves,—outlined here, like phantoms in the luminous air,
Between that cold and quiet sky, and the calm river running by.

The gum-trees whisper overhead, and, delicately dark and fine,
Their lovely shadow-patterns shed across the paths of white moonshine.
The golden wattles glimmer bright, scenting this cool, transparent night.

What spirits wake when earth is still? I hear wild wood-notes softly swell.
There's the strange clamour, hoarse and shrill, that drowns the bull-frogs' hollow
And there's the plaintive rise and fall of the lone mopoke's cuckoo-call.

And nearer, an opossum flits above the firelight, pauses, peers—
I see a round ball where he sits, with pendant tail and pointed ears;
And two are gruffly snarling now in hollows of yon upper bough.

Hark! that's the curlew's thrilling scream. What mountain echoes it has stirred!
The sound goes crying down the stream, the wildest bird-note ever heard.
And there's a crane, with legs updrawn, gone sailing out to meet the dawn.

It croaks its farewell, like a crow, beating the air with soft, wide wings.
On the white water down below its vague grey shadow-shape it flings,
And, dream-like, passes out of sight, a lonely vision of the night.

Ah me! how weird the undertones that thrill my wake-ful fancy through!
The river softly creeps and moans; the wind seems faintly crying too.
Such whisperings seem to come and pass across the orchis-flower'd grass.

The darkness gather'd all around is full of rustlings, strange and low,
The dead wood crackles on the ground, and shadowy shapes flit to and fro;
I think they are my own dim dreams, wandering amongst the woods and streams.

The tangled trees seem full of eyes,—still eyes that watch me as I sit;
A flame begins to fall and rise, their glances come and go with it.
And on the torn bark, rough and brown, I hear soft scratchings up and down.

Sometimes I hear a sound of feet,—a slow step through the darkness steals;
And then I think of yours, my sweet, in spirit following at my heels;
For leagues before, around, behind, part me from all my human-kind.
Coo-ey!—the long vibration throbs in countless echoes through the hills.
The lonely forest wakes and sobs, and then no sound the silence fills,—
Only the night-frogs' bubbling shriek in every water-hole and creek;

Only a rush of wind in flight, as startled wild-ducks flutter past,
Quivering and twinkling in the light, skimming the shining water fast;
And ripples from a black swan's breast, darting from out its rushy nest.

How is't in England?—Sunday morn, and organ-music, love, with you.
That breath of memory, idly born, like a great storm-wind shakes me through.
Ah, darling! bend your head and pray,—it cannot touch you far away.

Why do I care? My house of God, beyond all thought, is grand and great!
My prayerful knees, upon the sod, its flowers and grasses consecrate.
And I can see Him in the stars, undimmed by walls and window-bars.

Great Nature spreads her wondrous book, and shows me all her pages fair;
To me the language, when I look, seems but a letter here and there—
The very stones beneath me teach a lore beyond my utmost reach.

For all my pain, and toil, and strife, I see so dimly what is true!
O Art! O Science! O great Life! I grasp thee by so faint a clue!
No more of ocean tides I dream than minnows in their shallow stream.

Sea without bottom, without shore, where is the plumb to fathom thee?
O mystery! as I learn thee more, the more thy deeps are dark to me!
But who am I, that I should scan the Divine Maker's mighty plan?

And yet, oh yet, if I could hear that organ-music once again,
My soul, methinks, would lose its fear; and on this troubled heart and brain
Some light of knowledge would be shed, and some few riddles would be read.

It boots not to retrace the path
To ages dim and hoar,
When Man, at the domestic hearth,
First learned the art of war,
And - since in battle one must fall -
Held his defeated spouse in thrall,
That she should fight no more;
And thereby doomed to sleep and sloth
Strength that in action strengthened both.

It boots not when the better day
First showed a glint of morn,
Nor whose the eye that, in its ray,
Saw Woman's chains outworn;
Nor which was first and which was last
When savage rivalry was past
And chivalry was born;
Enough for us that, free or pent,
Her primal treasure was misspent.

The waxing noontide sees them now
Joint sovereigns of the land,
No trace upon the gentler brow
Of the old helot brand.
Consenting that the right is right,
They walk as comrades - or they might -
For ever hand in hand.
Yet still a stronger leads and drags,
And still a weaker leans and lags.

Because we reap what we have sown,
And are as we were bred;
Because one passion, overgrown,
Since so long overfed,
Still works confusion to the scheme
Whereof both man and woman dream.
'T'is the unnumbered dead
That laid it on him for a curse,
And her, its immemorial nurse.

But, with these tyrants in the dust,
Why should their ghosts hold sway?
Cut the long entail of their lust,
Heirs of a cleaner day!
Lift the dead hand from living mind,
Break the old spells that bind and blind,
O Woman, far astray!
And march with Man the open road
Without a fetter or a load.

Our pioneer brothers can discern
The sunlit heights around;
We, that should likewise look and learn,
Keep eyes upon the ground;
And drug our feebleness with sweets
When needing tonic of strong meats;
And all our ways surround
With tangling trifles, gaud and toy,
That mock us with the name of joy.

What brains these fragile webs enmesh!
What soaring thought they tie!
What energies of soul and flesh
They still or stultify!
What wasted riches of the mind,
What wealth of genius, dumb and blind,
In shop and workroom lie,
While the great realms of life are stored
With such vast mystery unexplored!

Where were the sciences and arts
When men went plumed and curled?
Where were the brains, the hands, the hearts,
That now subdue the world -
The March of Progress, straight and true -
When men wore coats of every hue?
In childish swaddlings furled,
Their strength lay latent and unknown,
As ineffectual as our own.
Freed from this complicated coil
By mere vainglory spun,
Uprooted from this fruitless soil,
Unfed by rain or sun,
Where sleep the germs of noble deeds
In still unfructifying seeds,
Or leafage scarce begun -
This ash-heap of the poor and small
That chokes the greatness in us all -

Uplifted to the light - the place
Where Man his manhood found
When tyranny of silk and lace
No longer held him bound;
With eyes, from Fashion's witchcraft clear,
For Beauty, simple and sincere,
And, unbeguiled by sound
Of siren wooings, quiet ears
For the high message that he hears:

The swelling call to loftier life
That, like a distant bell,
Chimes through the traffic and the strife
Of those who buy and sell;
Through camp and temple, field and street,
The market where we game and cheat,
The home wherein we dwell: -
Here should we stand, as strong, as free,
For splendid enterprise as he.

To him no flowering parasite
That only sucks and clings
To drain and enervate and blight,
But impulse to his wings;
His mate in passion, mate in power,
His soul's wife, that for marriage dower
Exhaustless treasure brings -
The daily bread, the daily spur,
The day's reward for him - and her.

Like woodland creatures, that have willed
To pair by Nature's plan,
A woman finished and fulfilled
And a completed man;
To run together and abreast,
And side by side to fight or rest,
As when the world began;
Each bound to other, yet both free . . . .
It is not, but it ought to be.


The night is clear and still. The moon rides high.
The green leaves whisper where the soft winds blow.
Above, the stars shine in a sapphire sky —
The city sleeps below.


Sleeps? Nay. The million- fibred heart is wrung
With wild desire and ceaseless pain and fear.
Could its dumb anguish find a fitting tongue,
The very dead would hear.


Under these quiet roofs, this silvery haze,
How many a captive spirit wakes and weeps!
How many a sorrow, hid from human gaze,
Each shadowy dwelling keeps!


The struggling men, the lonely maids unwed,
The desolate mothers and the martyred wives,
The starving little ones that cry for bread,
Still live their suffering lives.


Though moon shines fair and winds are breathing low —
Though the great dream-like city lies in light —
The smoke of all that seething human woe
Darkens my mind to- night.


Brothers, for whom the world can find no place —
Brothers and sisters, born to want and wrong —
Born weak and maimed, to run a hopeless race
Against the hale and strong —


How can I rest while they are racked with pain?
While they toil on with toil that cannot cease?
While hungry children wail for bread in vain,
How can I sleep in peace?


Ah, hapless fate! To hope, to fail, to spend,
From chilling dawn till midnight shadows fall;
Perchance to gain no haven at the end —
No new world — after all!


When poor, brief hopes and joys have passed away —
When the long toil is done and pain is past —
To reach the limit of life's little day,
And find naught else, at last


When strength is spent, when soul and spirit sink —
With helpless hands outstretched and nerveless brain —
To stand alone upon that dreadful brink
And cry for light in vain!


Poor mortal wanderers in immortal realms,
For whom no staff avails, no beacons shine!
My kindred soul their burden overwhelms —

My brothers' woes are mine.


For me the night has come — the day is done —
A wall of darkness hides both sea and shore;
My little lamps have failed me, one by one —
I grope and crawl no more.


Where am I? — oh, where am I? I can feel —
To feel my pain — but neither hear nor see;
My heart is faint, my brain begins to reel —
O God, speak Thou to me!


Help me! Or, in Thy pity, take me hence
While feeling heart and thinking brain are whole —
Or give me any rag of carnal sense
To wrap my naked soul.


Some common cloak of vulgar hopes and fears,
Some earth- spun veil, that shall be warm and stout
To keep this infinite Silence from mine ears —
To shut this Darkness out!


The mocking moon shines on. The flowers are sweet.
The night is still. The winds are breathing balm.
The silver city clustered at my feet
Seems bathed in light and calm.

But I? — I choke in this grief- laden air.
I turn and weep — I close my window now.
One voice breaks forth from my profound despair —
Beloved, where art thou?


She sleeps. She stirs. She hears the lightest fall
Of my hushed footsteps on her chamber floor.
Her spirit answers to my spirit's call,
And I take heart once more.


She draws me down upon that faithful breast;
I clasp her close — those sweetest lips I kiss —
And soul and body, in her arms at rest,
Swim in deep seas of bliss.


She makes me strong with stronger Fate to cope —
Fresh fire to mine her beating pulses give.
O my true mate, in thee alone I hope!
In thee alone I live!


O love, till blood is cold and brain is dust,
I can fight on — if thou wilt fight with me —
If I can shelter in thy truth and trust,
And bear life's woes with thee!

“ON board the Petrel, in St. Lucia's bay,
Of yellow fever—agèd twenty-nine.”

“Who did you say, my lady?” drawled the Earl.
“The duke—what duke?”
“I did not speak of dukes,”
Replied the Countess slowly, white and grim,
Pressing the rustling sheet between her palms,
The while her diamonds heaved upon her breast,
And sank and heaved, and glitter'd like her eyes—
Hungry, pathetic eyes,—“'Tis only Dick,
Only a sailor-lad I used to know.”

“Humph! A West Indian friend?” he softly sneer'd,
And bow'd and gave his arm. “The carriage waits—
My lady loses time.”
Then pass'd they out,
Through silky servants,—he, the great Earl, stark
In plume and crest and linked mediaeval steel,
The Countess en bergère, in white and red,
With roses, diamond dew-dropped, in her hat
And in her queenly bosom;—pass'd they out,
And, through clear gaslight and the avenue
Of silent Champs-Elysées, to the fête.

Her restless eyes were blind to all the blaze
And motley splendour of the throng'd saloons;
The flowers, the cool cascades, the magic wand
Of Strauss, the vine-draped balustrades, the gaze
Of wistful admiration meeting hers
At every step. The Empress smiled and bow'd,
The Emperor praised the beauty and the taste
Of her mock-rustic costume, princes begged
Her fair hand for the dance, and her grim lord
Scowl'd, wrathful, on her when she pass'd him by.
She cared for none,—she look'd beyond them all.

She saw another night—a hot, bright night—
A night of years ago—danced out in joy
'Neath the low roof-tree of a planter's house
In fair Antigua's bosom;—saw the stars,
Large, liquid, golden, swimming in the blue,
Shining through open doors and jalousies,
And the green sparkles of the fire-flies, thick
About the forest, fringing all the dark;

The crimson creepers swaying in the air
From white verandah pillars—swaying soft;
The small nest of a humming-bird; the stems,
Brown-ring'd, of feathery palm-trees,—plaintains bow'd
With broad, thick leaves, and clustering fruit, and seeds
In scarlet vessels—orange-groves, white-flower'd
And sweet, with hanging balls of green and gold—
All vaguely outlined in the mellow night.
And nearer still a brave, brown English face,
Bent low, with clear grey eyes and faithful lips
That whisper'd, “Reine, I love you,” meeting hers.
The drowsy sound of laughter and light feet
Behind them she could hear—but the quick throb
Of poor Dick's English heart upon her breast
She felt to suffocation. “Reine, my sweet,
I love you—Reine, I love you; kiss me, child.”
And her soft hands stray'd softly round his neck,
And softer still she kiss'd him.
Then she saw
A morning, hot and stormy—saw the Earl,
Drunk with her wondrous beauty, standing there
Where Dick had stood. She saw his cultured ways,
His high-bred, stately courtesy and grace;
She heard his subtle flatteries, his tales
Of the great world, of court and city life,
With gaping ears and speculating brain.
The voice of the arch-tempter, low and soft,
Spoke in his polished accents, “Reine, 'tis sin,
'Tis sin and shame, that such a face as yours
Should waste its sweetness in these heathen isles.
There's not a fairer face in Europe, Reine;
'Tis worth a coronet. Come back with me
As a great earl's wife; in his diamonds dress'd,
You would have homage like a crownèd queen.”
She shudder'd now,—his diamonds gall'd her worse
Than felon's chains.
Anon she saw a bay—
Blue, limpid water, fringed with dipping palms,
A green rock-gateway opening on the sea,
Green cane-fields stretching upward, woods and hills
Lying entangled in the summer clouds;
An English ship at anchor—burning noon—
A thin, brown, fever'd face, with hungry eyes
Roaming from side to side, in dumb appeal,
Which none could understand,—and dying lips
Muttering to vacant air and heedless ears,
“I love you, Reine, I love you!”

“O my love—
O Dick—my Dick—would I could sleep with thee
In thy last happy sleep among the palms,
With my dead hands clasp'd tight about thy neck!
O Dick, I did not mean it—did not think—
And now my heart is broken!
“Take me home.
The rooms are hot, my lord, and I am faint—
The music makes me giddy. Take me home!”

By A Norfolk Broad

One hour ago the crimson sun, that seemed so long a-drowning, sank.
The summer day is all but done. Our boat is moored beneath the bank.
I bask in peace, content, replete — my faithful comrade at my feet.

The water-violet shuts its eye; the water-lily petals close;
So in the evening light we lie and dream in undisturbed repose.
How far all petty cares have flown! How calm the fretful world has grown!

We only hear the gentle breeze, in tender sighs and whispers, pass
Through osier beds and alder trees, and rustling flags and bending grass;
The song of blackbird in the hedge, the quack of wild-duck in the sedge.

The distant bark of farmhouse dogs, the piping of a clear-voiced thrush,
The murmurous babble of the frogs, of rippling stream in reed and rush;
The splash of pike and bream that rise to flitting moths and dragon-files.

Far from the haunts of striving men, the toil and moil, the dust and din,
At home, at peace, in this lone fen, with these our dumb and gentler kin;
In Mother Nature's arms at rest, we drink the nectar of her breast.

The fragrance of these dewy hours, the perfume that the rich earth yields,
Sweetbriar and bean and clover-flowers, the incense of the quiet fields;
The new-cut hay, so sweet and fresh . . . . what balm to spirit and to flesh!

And those white gulls, inland for food; and that still heron, carved in jet;
That paddling water-hen and brood, those swifts and swallows, hunting yet;
All these soft creatures, wild and free, how lovely and how kind they be!

Kind to that monster of the gun, that ravager of earth and sky,
From whom the fledgelings hide and run — the immemorial enemy!
Ah, but this hand of their dread lord hath sheathed the devastating sword.

Tell them, my comrade, in thy tongue, that I come not to rob and strike.
Tell these shy hearts, so wronged and wrung, that all men's hearts are not alike.
In the Dark Ages of thy race, thou hast foretaste of light and grace.

Thou, love-enfranchised, that canst sleep unharmed, unharried, at my door,
Wolf-brother, taught to guard the sheep, teach them that man is something more
Than instrument of woe and death to half the creatures that have breath.

* * * * *
The western glories fade and pass. The twilight deepens more and more.
A thin mist, like a breath on glass, veils shining mere and distant shore.
The moor-hen's family is fed. The heron hies him home to bed.

No hum of gnat or bee is heard; no pipe of thrush on hawthorn bough;
No cry of any beast or bird to stir the solemn stillness now,
Though earth and air and stream are rife with latent energies of life.

Silent the otter where he prowls, the gliding polecat and her prey;
Silent the soft-winged mousing owls, the flickering bats, like imps at play.
War, death, the fighters and the fight — all ghostly shadows of the night.

What means that questioning paw of thine? those wistful eyes upon my face?
Ah, hunter! Dost thou sniff and whine? Art still a-quiver for the chase?
Peace — peace! Lie down again, old hound. This place to-night is holy ground.

* * * * *
The clocks strike ten. The last, last gleam of lingering day has disappeared.
On field and marsh and quiet stream a few stars shine. The mist has cleared.
The willows of the further shore stand outlined on the sky once more.

How clear the blackness, leaf and bark, the plumes upon those bulbous stumps!
A pallid fragment of the dark shows fine-etched flag and osier clumps.
Sharper and sharper in the glow the iris and the bulrush grow.
A faint dawn glimmers on the sedge, the grassy banks, the flowery meads;
A bright disc shows its radiant edge, the round moon rises from the reeds;
The sleeping lilies take the light; their steel-dark bed turns silver-white.

That path of glory, widening, streams across the mere to where we sit.
My sight swims in its dazzling beams; spirit and brain are steeped in it . . . .
Dost thou not answer to the touch? Listen, my dog, that knows so much: —

There may be lovelier worlds than this, a heavenly country, vast and fair,
Where saints and seraphs dwell in bliss — I do not know — I do not care.
While in my human flesh I live I ask no more than earth can give.

Ethereal essences may roam Elysian Fields beyond the grave,
But we, my dog, will saunter home, to all we love and all we crave.
God sees us thankful for our lot. The Unborn Day concerns us not.

The Midnight Mass

An incident of the French Revolution.
The light lay trembling in a silver bar
Along the western borders of the sky;
From out the shadowy dome a little star
Stole forth to keep its patient watch on high;
And night came down, with solemn, soft embrace,
On storied Brittany.

Another night lay over all the land—
The dark of hell, and lurid with its fire.
She heard the roar of fiends; she saw the brand
Flung red and hissing over roof and spire;
She saw her golden spurs and reaping-hooks
Tossed on the funeral pyre.
She stood in calm defiance, while the flood
Swept over her;—while everywhere was seen
Her dim, majestic cities drenched in blood;
Ashes and smoke where temple-walls had been;
And high on woodland knoll and market-place,
The ghastly guillotine.

'Twas hard to tear her peasant-souls apart
From priest and liege, and clinging faith of old;
'Twas hard to bend the strong and simple heart
By fear of torture or by love of gold:
For naught those gory hands could offer them
Might consciences be sold.

“No tower or belfry shall be left to stand,”
Saint André swore, and waved his cap of red;
“You shall have naught in all this cursèd land
For sign of your superstition,—it is dead!”
A peasant heard, and raised his eyes to heaven;—
“You'll leave the stars,” he said.

True were the priests and people, each to each,
And all alike to their unlettered creed;
No violent force of sophistry could reach
Their rough-hewn faith in bitter time of need.
They died with deaf ears and dumb mouths; and theirs
Was martyrdom indeed!

Night—midnight—lay beneath her silver lamps;
Her deep sleep broken by the fitful glare

Of bivouac fires in noisy village camps,
And hoarse shouts mellowed through the listening air;
Save only where the sea-waves washed the coast—
'Twas still and quiet there:

The heave and swell, and sudden, plunging dash
Against the low rocks lying in their reach;
The hissing shingle, and the sweet, free plash
Of long-drawn breakers on the open beach;
And now and then, in momentary pause,
The curlew's mournful screech:

The soft, low gurgle in the hollowed track
Through reef and boulder; and the rippling fall
Of idle wandering waters, swirling back
From secret tryst in Naiads' rocky hall;—
Only these sounds—save that deep monotone
Which held and hushed them all.

Only these sounds? Was nothing to be heard
But voice of breaker as it rose and fell,
The kelpie's song, the wailing of a bird?
Ay, far and faint amid the restless swell,
One other voice stole whispering through the air—
The chime of a silver bell.

It came from dim mid-ocean, wild and free,
To listening ears, in silence of the night;
And watchful eyes saw, out upon the sea
And 'neath the stars, a little twinkling light—
Now lost behind a waving mountain-top,
Now shining clear and bright.

Softly the fishers' boats began to glide
From shadowy rock and sheltered cave and creek;
Bronzed men and gentle maidens, side by side,
Dipped muffled oars; no woman-hand was weak.
All eyes turned, wistful, to the beacon-lamp;
But no one dared to speak.

The scattered specks, with each its little crowd,
Drew near, converging on the distant bark;
The sweet bell rang out louder and more loud,
The light shone bright and brighter in the dark;
And soon a hundred lips burst forth in praise—
For all had reach'd the ark.

There was the priest, with whom they came to sup,
White-hair'd and holy, by his humble board;
There, amid light and darkness lifted up,

The blessed rood, by simple eyes adored.
Each head was bowed, each pious knee was bent
In presence of the Lord.

Ah! 'twas a grand cathedral where they knelt!
Grand was the organ-music—vast the crypt
Wherein its wild, mysterious echoes dwelt;
And fresh and pure the incense, as it slipp'd
Down shining floor and down wide altar-steps,
With frosted silver tipp'd.

Grand was the darken'd aisles and solemn nave—
The domèd roof, magnificently high—
The airy walls and mighty architrave—
The sweet star-tapers that could never die!
And grander still its purity of peace,
Its untouched sanctity.

The worn and weary ones came there, to search
For rest and hope in holy Eucharist;
There—in the splendour of that solemn church—
They, priest and people, communed with the Christ;
Thus—with all other temples overthrown—
They kept his sacred tryst.

With calm, grave eyes and even-pulsing breath,
They dipp'd their still oars in the darken'd space.
Strong now the hands fast rowing back to death!—
And strong the simple hearts, new clothed in grace—
The hush'd and quiet souls—ere long to meet
Their Saviour face to face.

On Australian Hills

Earth, outward tuning on her path in space
This pensive southern face,
Swathing its smile and shine
In that soft veil that day and darkness twine,
The silver-threaded twilight thin and fine,
With April dews impearled,
Looms like another and diviner world.

Here April brings her garnered harvest-sheaf,
Her withered autumn leaf,
Tintings of bronze and brass;
Her full-plumed reeds, her mushroom in the grass,
Her furrowed fields, where plough and sower pass,
Her laden apple bough.
All are transfigured and transmuted now.

The eastward ranges, so unearthly blue,
Bloom with their richest hue;
Slowly each rose-flushed crest
Deepens to violet where the shadows rest,
Darkens and darkens to the paling west;
The waning sun-fires die;
The first star swims in the pellucid sky.

Soundless to listening ear, on grass and flowers,
The footfall of the hours;
Formless and void to sight
The evolutions of invading night,
The creeping onslaught and the gradual flight,
Until the field is won,
And we look forth to see that day is done.

Then, from their grave of darkness, wood and lawn
Wake to a second dawn.
From unseen wells below
The pearly moon-tides rise and overflow,
Till vale and peak and wide air-spaces glow
In the transfiguring stream,
And earth and life are but a heavenly dream.

And now we hear the fairy-echoes fall
Where distant curlews call,
And how the silence thrills
With the night-voices of the glens and hills,
Rustling in reeds and tinkling in the rills,
Bubbling in creek and pool
Where frogs are wooing in the shallows cool.

And more than these, in this delicious time,
The melody sublime
That inward spirit hears--
The faint and far-off music of the spheres,
Immortal harmonies, too fine for ears
Dulled in the dusty ways,
Deaf with the din of the laborious days.

Whereto, responsive as the vibrant wire
Of some aeolian lyre
Fanned by celestial wings,
The summoned soul in mystic concord brings
The deep notes latent in its trembling strings,
Joining the choir divine
Of all the worlds that in the ether shine.

O sacred hour! O sweet night, calm and fair!
Thou dost rebuke despair;
Thou dost assuage the pain
Of passionate spirit and distempered brain,
And with thy balms, distilled like gentle rain,
Dost heal the fret and smart
And nerve the courage of this coward's heart.

And lift me up, a Moses on the Mount
To the pure source and fount
Of law transcending law,
Of life that hallows life. I know no more
Of life's great Giver than I knew before,
But these His creatures tell
That He is living, and that all is well.

Oh, to be there to-night!
To see that rose of sunset flame and fade
On ghostly mountain height,
The soft dusk gathering each leaf and blade
From the departing light,
Each tree-fern feather of the wildwood glade.

From arid streets to pass
Down those green aisles where golden wattles bloom,
Over the fragrant grass,
And smell the eucalyptus in a gloom
That is as clear as glass,
The dew-fresh scents of bracken and of broom . . .

These city clamours mute,
To hear the woodland necromancers play
Each his enchanted lute;
That dear bird-laugh, so exquisitely gay,
The magpie's silver flute
In vesper carol to the dying day.

To hear the live wind blow,
The delicate stir and whisper of the trees
As light breaths come and go,
The brooklet murmuring to the vagrant breeze,
The bull-frog twanging low
His deep-toned mandolin to chime with these.

And then the whispering rills,
The hushed lone wheel, or hoof, or axeman's tool;
The brooding dark that stills
The sweet Pan-piping of the grove and pool;
The dimly glimmering hills;
The sleeping night, so heavenly clean and cool.

Oh, for that mother-breast
That takes the broken spirit for repair,
The worn-out brain for rest--
That healing silence, that untainted air,
That Peace of God . . . . . . Blest, blest
The very memory that I once was there.

The thought that someday yet,
In flesh, not dreams, I may return again,
And at those altars, set

In the pure skies, above the smoky plain,
Remember and forget
The joy of living and its price of pain . . . . . .

That sullied earth reserves
Such spacious refuge virgin and apart,
That wasting life preserves
Such sweet retreat for the distracted heart,
Such fount of strength for nerves
Torn in the ruthless struggle of the mart . . . . . .

That Government divine
O'er all this reek of blunders and of woes
Keeps an unravaged shrine
Not here, not there, but in the souls of those
Who neither weep nor whine,
But trust the guidance of the One Who Knows.

Nightfall In The Fens


One hour ago the red- hot sun below the bright horizon sank.
The long midsummer day is done. Our boat is moored beneath the bank.
The glory of the crimson west dies slowly on the river's breast.


The water- violet shuts its eye; the water- lily petals close;
So in the evening light we lie and dream in undisturbed repose.
How far all petty cares have flown! How calm the fretful world has grown!


We only hear the gentle breeze, in soft, delicious whispers, pass
Through osier beds and alder trees, and rustling flags and bending grass;
The song of blackbird in the hedge, the quack of wild duck in the sedge.


The distant bark of farmhouse dogs, the piping of a clear- voiced thrush;
The murmurous babble of the frogs, of rippling stream in reed and rush;
The splash of hungry trout that rise to passing gnats and dragon- flies.


Sounds that make silence eloquent, but cannot break it, nor dispel
The tranquil sense of still content that holds us like enchanter's spell —
At rest and free, in this lone fen, from noise of streets and striving men.


What perfume in these dewy hours the rich earth to the soft air yields!
Sweetbriar and bean and clover flowers breathe incense from the quiet fields;
And every whiff that comes this way brings fragrant scent of new- mown hay.


A long- legged heron stalks about that marshy meadow, seeking food;
A little water- hen creeps out close by us, with her paddling brood;
A water- rat, in blank surprise, stares at us with his beady eyes.


The swallow lingers, and the swift, like arrow from a bow, darts by;
Light clouds of little midges drift between us and the tender sky;
Cockchafers hum as they whir past. But the hushed twilight gathers fast.


All Nature takes her happy ease, and we no more can fume and fret.
No inward questions taunt and tease. All life's disasters we forget —
All life's injustice we forgive. To- night it is enough to live.


No time is this to talk of books — no time vexed problems to discuss
Through all the upward spirit looks, and sees that Good is meant for us —
Sees more in these transparent skies than in all wise philosophies.

* * * * *


The western glories fade and pass. The twilight deepens more and more.
A thin mist, like a breath on glass, veils shining stream and distant shore;
And night is falling, still and cool, on each broad marsh and silent pool.


The moor- hen paddles in the weeds no longer, for her chicks are fed;
The heron, rising from the reeds, goes slowly sailing home to bed;
Just now, from off that mossy bank, the little brown rat slipped and sank.


Night comes at length. The last pale gleam of lingering day has disappeared.
On silent fields and quiet stream a few stars shine; the mist has cleared;
The willows of the further shore stand outlined on the sky once more.


No hum of gnat or bee is heard; no pipe of thrush on hawthorn bough;
No cry of any beast or bird to stir the solemn stillness now,
Though all the soundless air is rife with latent energies of life


Only a vagrant bat we see on silken pinion flitting by;
Only a white owl, roaming free, with downy wings and steadfast eye;
Two ghostly visions in their flight — two noiseless shadows of the night.


How clear the darkness, and how fine the plumes upon those bulbous stumps!
A luminous greyness seems to shine behind those serried osier clumps;
And sharper in the pallid glow the stems of flag and bulrush grow.


A faint dawn breaks on yonder sedge, and broadens in that bed of weeds;
A bright disc shows its radiant edge, the round moon rises from the reeds;
Its level rays of silver glide across the steel- dark river tide.


They burnish steel to silver bright — a mirror for an angel meet;
They bridge it with a bridge of light — fit pathway for an angel's feet;
If angel feet and angel face haunt mortal creatures' dwelling place.


The widening track of glory streams to this low margin where we sit;
My sight swims in its dazzling beams, and heart and brain are steeped in it —
Are washed from all the dust and grime, the smears and tears, of working time.


Like waves when stormy winds are past, my toils and turmoils sink and cease;
Like long- bound captive free at last, I bask in ecstasies of peace;
Like tired child I lie at rest upon my unknown parent's breast.


There may be happier worlds than this — a heavenly country, vast and fair,
Where saints and seraphs dwell in bliss — but I pray not for entrance there.
While in my human flesh I live I ask no more than earth can give.


Ethereal essences may roam Elysian fields beyond the grave,
But I, a man, am in my home, with all I love and all I crave.
How is it, faithful friend, with thee? This sweet world is enough for me.

The Last Battle Of The Cid

Low he lay upon his dying couch, the knight without a stain,
The unconquered Cid Campeadór, the bright breast-plate of Spain,
The incarnate honour of Castille, of Aragon and Navarre,
Very crown of Spanish chivalry, Rodrigo of Bivar!

Sick he lay, and grieved in spirit, for that Paynim dogs should dare
Camp around his knightly citadel, Valencia the fair!
For that he no more should face them, in his beauteous armour dight,
To whom God and Santiago aye gave victory in the fight.

Faintly rising o'er the ramparts came the murmur of the siege,
And he could but pray for Christendom, his country and his liege;
For his well-belovèd city, granite-girdled, pennon-starred,
And the royal wealth of treasure that its stately portals barred.

“Santiago, at whose altar I did watch mine armour bright,
And was girt with golden spur and brand, a consecrated knight!—
Santiago, by my vow redeemed at Compostela's shrine,
Let the Paynim life-blood only touch these blessed walls of mine!

“Santiago, warrior saintly, who with Don Fernando's host
Stormed and won the gates of Coimbra, guard my fortress on the coast!
Keep the holy leper's blessing, though the snow is on my hair;—
Strike the base-born unbelievers!—save Valencia the fair!”

Lo, a sudden cloud of glory filled his chamber as he prayed!
Lo, San Pedro stood beside him, all in shining robes arrayed!
“For thy love, Rodrigo Diaz, to Cardeña's house,” said he,
“I have offered intercessions, and the Lord hath answered me.

“Thou must die, O well-beloved!—thirty days, and thou must die!
Yet in death shall Santiago grant thee still a victory.
Thou shalt ride forth to the battle—Santiago shall be there—
For the Faith and Don Alfonso and Valencia the fair.”

Silence reigned within the chamber; none stood near the hero's bed;
All that dazzling flood of glory slowly, softly vanishèd.
He could only hear the murmur from the ramparts rise and fall;
He could only see the cross-bars stretching dimly on the wall.
In San Pedro's chapel lay the Cid, his eyes with rapture dim,
And proclaimed the wondrous favour that the Lord had granted him.
Then he parted from his vassals, and went humbly to confess;
And the warrior-bishop clothed his soul in its baptismal dress.

'Twas the holy day of Pentecost that saw Ruy Diaz die—
Evermore the spotless mirror of Castillian chivalry!

They, in whom his will was shrinèd, Alvar Fanez and his knights,
Stood to watch the hero vanquished who had won a thousand fights.

DoXimena, the faithful, with her tears bedewed his feet,
And anointed all his body with pure incense, rich and sweet.
Then in silence and in sorrow the twelve days of waiting fled;
And the warders on the ramparts dared not whisper, “He is dead.”

In the midnight, dark and quiet, fell the torches' lurid glare
On the palaces and portals of Valencia the fair;
And a solemn, slow procession, mounted all in royal state,
Like the spectre of an army, passed beneath the city gate.

In the van was borne the ensign, known and dreaded far and wide,
With four hundred noblest knights ranged proudly by its side.
Toward Castille and Cardeña were those haughty faces set,—
And that banner never more did crown Valencia's parapet.

Then came mules, with treasure laden, stepping softly on before,
Compassed round with knights in armour—to the full four hundred more.
Then a band of belted nobles, stern and silent; and amid
Their levelled lances, he of Bivar—the Campeadór—the Cid.

On his milk-white steed, Babieca, whom none else did e'er bestride,
Clad in all his princely trappings, did the lifeless warrior ride;
Girt with helm and spur and blazoned shield, and grasping in his hand
The bright crosslet of Tizona, his thrice-consecrated brand.

Geronymo and Gil Diaz held the slackened bridlerein—
His true bishop and true vassal—as they moved on to the plain;
And Ximena and her maidens, 'mid the torchlight weird and dim,
With six hundred knights in harness, followed slowly after him.

In the solemn hush and darkness, with no joyful clarion-cry,
And no clash and clank of weapons, riding all so silently;—
Thus they passed out from the city e'er the summer morning broke,
And were found arrayed for battle when the infidels awoke.

Great and mighty was the Moorish host, by thirty monarchs led,
But a greater was the army with Rodrigo at the head;
For, behold! came Santiago to the bloody battle-plain—
Santiago, with a hundred thousand warriors in his train.

Each in robe of shining whiteness, with a red cross on his breast,—
Each with fiery sword uplifted or with golden lance at rest;
Santiago, saintly leader, on a charger white as snow—
Sent to aid the Cid Campeadór in vanquishing the foe.

All the Paynims looked amazèd on the dreadful beauteous sight,
As the tender light of morning softly crept out from the night;
Then they harnessed them in silence, sternly grasping shield and spear,
And pressed on in serried column, full of wonder, full of fear.

There was one loud shock of battle, then they wildly turned to flee,
And the Cid and Santiago swept their hosts into the sea.
Twenty kings and twenty armies in that bloody fight were slain,
And were left, with upturned faces, stiff and stark upon the plain.

Fair and shining came the daylight, all in liquid summer sheen—
But no more was Santiago, or his white-robed warriors, seen;
Only one small train of nobles, riding on, with stately pace,
To San Pedro de Cardeña and the great Cid's resting-place.

By the altar in the chapel, where the monarch's throne doth stand,
Sat the dead Cid, robed in purple, with his good sword in his hand.
And again the Moorish ensign fluttered proudly in the air,
Lifted high above the ramparts of Valencia the fair.

Speak kindly, wife; the little ones will grow
Fairest and straightest in the warmest sun.
We talk so often of the seed we sow;
But, maybe, when we think our labour done,
And when we look to gather in the grain,
We'll find these stones, we fling about, again
Strewing the fruitless sod,
Having crush'd down and stunted the sweet life
That bore the likeness of the life of God.
All your hard words of bitterness and strife
Will lie upon their love, as stones would lie;
You think to pick them up, but, by-and-by,
You'll find where they have lain
By the poor, meagre, crooked ears of grain.
You will be sorry then.
Speak kindly, wife; you know not half the wealth
Kind words bring in. Ah! I remember when
I was a little lad, all youth and health,
How I went wrong for want of one, and how
One saved my life—ay, keeps it steady now.

* * * * *
My mother died, you know, when I had seen
Only a few days' light; they say her face
Was fair and young—and so it might have been;
I cannot tell. But she, who took her place,
Was coarse and hard, and had a shrewish tongue
That fretted all the household into strife.
Ah, how that sharp voice rung
Through ear and heart—through all the peace of life!
It drove my father from his home at length,
And drove him to the ale-house, where he learn'd
To drink away the good name he had earn'd,
And drink away his precious health and strength.

I can remember well how he would sigh,
Would sigh, and turn from his own chimney nook;
And how, though wintry winds blew fierce and high,
He fumbled at the door with hands that shook,
And pass'd out slowly, as though caring not
Whither he went. And she, who tempted him,
Was first to see the change—to mark the blot
That made his manhood's beauty blurred and dim—
But had no mercy and no help for him.
I think I see her now!
Standing, with that red flush upon her brow,
Hurling her stinging insults thick and fast,
As he was sadly creeping through the door;
Until he raised his grizzled head, and swore,
And suddenly struck her, growing mad at last.
Was that the way to better him? Ah, no;
She taunted him, and stung his spirit so,
That what was weakness became sin and crime.
Wife, did you ever hear
What happen'd in that dark and dreadful time?
One night, when I was wide awake for fear,
Straining my baby ears to catch the sound
Of the fierce voices that were storming near—
One night, I heard a cry—
So sharp! so shrill! a strange and fearful cry—
And then a heavy fall upon the ground;
And then—and then—in the grey morning light
I saw her lie,
With her hard face so strangely still and white,
With a broad purple stain upon her brow,
And dusky shadows on her lips and eyes.
Ah me! ah me! I think I see her now,
Wrapped in that awful death-sleep, as she lies!
I well remember how I cried and shook
In childish terror, and with what a look
I turn'd to all the living faces there,
Seeking in vain,
With the first dreary thrill of my despair,
The one face that I never saw again!

* * * * *
I was so young—a little lad, a child—
And it was hard, ay, very hard, to be
So helpless and so ignorant and wild,
With not a soul to love and care for me.
She, when she storm'd about,
Had roughly used me, and had turn'd me out
Into the streets, to gather what I could
And what I liked of all the evil there;
But he, my father, at odd times he would
Sit, with his arms flung round me, in his chair,
And tell me, as he stroked my curly head,
How he could see the mother that was dead
In my blue eyes and in my golden hair.

And now I was alone—quite, quite alone.
Ah, you can never know how I was toss'd
From place to place; how like a thing of stone,
Frozen for want of just a kindly tone,
My heart became—all its good instincts cross'd!
And how like some distorted tree I grew,
Barren of all things beautiful and true.
Sullen, and hard, and reckless, I was fit
And ready, when the devil laid his snare—
Quite ready—to rush headlong into it.
And who was there to care?
In a wild night—a well-remember'd night,
When I was prowling in a darken'd street,
Trying to hush the echo of my feet,
Trying to hide me out of sound and sight—
Just as I heard the bells begin to call
From a church-tower—as I caught a gleam
Of marble pillars, standing white and tall,
And saw the stream
Of tender, mellow light make, as it were,
A shining pathway in the misty air,
Whither soft footsteps trod
Out of the world into the courts of God—
Just then they found me out—
They who had watch'd and follow'd me so long—
They found me as I idly hung about
That stately doorway; and I felt the strong
Relentless grip upon my arm—I saw
The quiet, cruel, smiling eyes, and saw
That I was bound.
That night I lay awake upon the ground
Of a dark cell. The moonlight quiver'd in,
Tender, and pure, and sweet, and hover'd round—
Trying to cool the raging fire within
My eyes and heart; like tender mother's touch,
It wander'd over lips, and hands, and hair.
I think I feel it now—it came with such
An unexpected pity to me there!
It was so dark—and I was all alone.
No gentle tone
To comfort and to keep me from despair!
A blessing had been sent—ah, now I know,
Just by that little moonbeam; its white glow
Lay on my heart, till the tears fell like rain.
The long-endured, sullen sense of pain,
So dark and deep,
Was stirred and touch'd, and almost lighten'd, when

I plunged my face into my hands to weep.
Somehow the boyish spirit came again,
With just a little of its softness, then;
The burning fever cool'd, and I could sleep.
Ah, I remember, as I lay there, she
I never knew came gliding through my dream,
As through the shadows that encompass'd me
Glided the tender moonshine; I could see,
Dim and yet purely bright—just in the gleam
That cross'd the prison-floor—a girlish face,
Divinely beautiful—an angel's face;
And long robes, fair and white,
Shadow'd with wings that shone like living light.
I seem'd to feel, e'en in that gloomy place,
The soft, sweet kisses stray
Over my feverish forehead as I lay;
But when I woke, and look'd with glistening eyes
Up through the grating, I could only see
The pale rose-colour dawning in the skies
From whence that message had come down to me.

I was so lonely! Yet more lonely far
In the bright day-time, when my sight was bound
By cold, hard, scornful faces all around,
Instead of prison-wall and iron bar.
More lonely—ay, so much more lonely! They,
My judges and accusers, and the crowd
That witness'd all my misery that day,
They knew not that my spirit was as proud,
As sensitive to suffering, as theirs.
They knew the sweet hearth-love, that makes the cares
And storms of life so light!
And the great safeguard against sin and crime
Stood round about their homes by day and night.
But I had no one in that bitter time,
No one, I thought—no one to stand by me,
No one to teach me or to care for me!
I pass'd through fire as I stood waiting—stood
In that great, dreary, dreadful, crowded place;
A fire that scorch'd out even the faintest trace
My tearful dream had left, of good and true.

* * * * *
Wearily, wearily, I laid me down
Within my little prison-cell that night;
And then I long'd for death to come, and drown
The sinful, lonely, sorrowful earthly life
That always seem'd at strife
With God and man. I know it was not right—
I know it, dear; but it is hard to be
Shut out from all the pleasant, genial life
That makes life worth!—and it was hard for me.
And so I lay, and fix'd a vacant stare
Upon my grated bars, now dimly drawn
Across a grey-blue thunder-cloud; for there
The moonlight came, and there the rosy dawn
Peep'd in—a kind and friendly face to see;
One thing, at least, of peace and purity.
And dark thoughts brooded in my heart and brain,
Such wicked, reckless thoughts! I wonder'd why
I had been born to so much misery,
Born to so large a heritage of pain!
Sure it was wrong, I murmur'd bitterly,
Setting my teeth again.
And then there slowly drifted through my mind—
Vaguely and darkly, gaining shape at length—
A thought whose likeness it were hard to find
In any common words. I felt the strength
Of stern endurance and resolve die out,
And felt a fierce new strength creep round about
My smouldering heart. Eager I turn'd to gaze
At my new vision—and the warning doubt
Died in the passion that was set ablaze.
What was the vision? Wife, I scarcely dare
Paint it again.
It's very memory enfolds such pain!
A river, dark, and deep, and dreadful, where
The moaning eddies swirl'd about the piers
Of a high bridge; lights twinkling in the air;
Unnumber'd voices thrilling in my ears;
And one—one only—speaking to me there—
Calling from out the deep,
Dark water, in its slow, reluctant sweep . . . . .
An awful space of shadows; then the gleam
Of steely ripples, lying far below,
Like bright snakes coil'd together on the stream;—
Ah, wife, you know! you know!
I saw—but did not see—the grey-blue cloud
Change into black; the thunder roar'd aloud;
And shining arrows glanced across the floor,
Striking a blaze upon my staring eyes;—
Darling, these are such painful memories,
I cannot tell you more.
* * * * *
But in the day that follow'd—when the sun
Was high in heaven, and the crimson flame
Danced on the bleak white wall above me—one
Bearing a sweet and holy message, came.
He found me lying motionless, alone,
Passionately quiet, and as hard as stone;
And he stepped softly, and bent over me
Until I saw his face—
Fair as an angel's, with a shining crown
Of wavy golden hair—a boyish face,
But shadow'd with a wondrous dignity.
As he bent down,
His grave eyes looking deeply into mine,
The dignity seem'd born of the divine.
Ah me, he was so good! so true! so kind!
He melted that black shadow on my mind
With his sweet, earnest tones; I sat and wept
Just like a child; and a new life and light
Once more, as he sat by me, gently crept
Into my spirit, that was dark as night.
He did not talk as if he were above
The sins and follies of his fellow-men;
But all his words were sympathy and love—
Or I had never listen'd to them then.
He did not once reproach me, though he heard—
Because he would not ask it—every word
I had to tell him; but he counselled me,
Framing his lips in that humility
Which seems the stamp of a good man and true.
Saying not, “I know this,” but “God has said;”
Saying not, with the solemn warning, “you,”
But mostly “we;” yet over all he shed
The high and special dignity he bore.
One felt he was a priest, as if he wore
His surplice—standing in the church, instead
Of on a prison-floor.

* * * * *
And those kind words—they brought a blessed morn
Unto my soul; I never wish'd again
That I might die; I never felt forlorn,
As if my life were given me in vain.
But I went out into the world, and fought
Against its legions, with an arm of strength!
Wife, though I often falter'd, what he taught
Nerved me to courage, and I won at length.


A vision haunts me, love, when thou art near,
Chilling my heart as frost nips April flowers;
A covering cloud, when all is fair and clear,
That takes the sweetness from our happiest hours.


It steals the colour from our brightest sky;
It mars my soul's content when all seems well;
It quenches laughter in a shuddering sigh —
In thoughts that thrill me like a tolling bell.


It numbs my passion when I love thee most;
It dims my eyes — it veils thy face; it slips,
An unseen shadow, like a creeping ghost,
Betwixt thy kisses and my hungering lips.


What, amid richest plenty, starves me thus?
What is it draws my trustful hand from thine?
That sits a guest at marriage feast with us,
And mixes poison with the food and wine?


In broad noonday — in dark hours long and lone —
A small green mound, a lettered name, I see.
There love is symboled in a graven stone —
There I lie dead, worth nothing more to thee.


There weep the dews, and winds of winter blow;
The soft breeze rustles in the bending grass;
The cold rain falls there, and the drifting snow —
But tears fall not, nor lovers' footsteps pass.


Bees hum all day amid the young spring leaves;
The rooks caw loud from every elm- tree bough;
The sparrows twitter in the old church eaves —
But no voice cries for me or calls me now.


Bright beams of morn encompass me about;
The stars shine o'er me, and the pale moonlight;
But I, that lit and warmed thee, am gone out,
Like a burnt candle, in eternal night.


Earth to the earth upon this churchyard slope.
We made no tryst for happier time and place;
And in thy sky gleams no immortal hope,
No distant radiance from my vanished face.


And still the sands between thy fingers run —
Desires, delights, ambitions — days and years,
Rich hours of life for thee, though mine are done —
Too full for vain regrets, too brief for tears.


I have lost all, but thou dost hold and save,
Adding new treasure to thy rifled store,
While weeds grow long on the neglected grave

Where sleeps thy mate who may be thine no more.


This is the fate I feel, the ghost I see,
The dream I dream at night, the thought I dread —
That thus 'twill be some day with thee and me,
Thou fain to live while I am doubly dead.


Thou still defiant of our common foe;
I vanquished quite — the once- resplendent crown
Of all thy joys become a dragging woe,
To be lopped off, lest it should weigh thee down.


I, once thy sap of life, a wasteful drain
On thy green vigour, like a rotten branch;
I, once thy health, a paralyzing pain,
A bleeding wound that thou must haste to stanch.


Because the dead are dead — the past is gone;
Because dear life is sweet and time is brief,
And some must fall, and some must still press on,
Nor waste scant strength in unavailing grief.


I blame thee not. I know what must be must.
Nor shall I suffer when apart from thee.
I shall not care, when I am mouldering dust,
That once quick love is in the grave with me.

Cast me away — thou knowest I shall not fret;
Take thy due joys — I shall not bear the cost.
I, that am thus forgotten, shall forget,
Nor shed one tear for all that I have lost.


Not then, not then shall sting of death and dole,
The penal curse of life and love, befall;
'Tis now I wear the sackcloth on my soul,
Bereaved and lonely, while possessed of all.


0, wert thou dead, should I, beloved, turn
Deaf heart to memory when of thee she spake?
Should I, when this pure fire had ceased to burn,
Seek other hearths, for sordid comfort's sake?


No — no! Yet I am mortal — I am weak —
In need of warmth when wintry winds are cold;
And fateful years and circumstance will wreak
Their own stern will on mine, when all is told.


How can I keep thee? Day and night I grope
In Nature's book, and in all books beside,
For but one touch of a substantial hope.
But all is vague and void on every side.


Whence did we come? And is it there we go?
We look behind — night hides our place of birth;
The blank before hides heaven, for aught we know.
But what is heaven to us, whose home is earth?


Flesh may be gross — the husk that holds the seed —
And gold and gems worth more than common bread;
But flesh is us, and bread is what we need,
And, changed and glorious, we should still be dead.


What is the infinite universe to him
Who has no home? Eternal Future seems,
Like the Eternal Past, unreal and dim —
The airy region of a poet's dreams.


What spirit essence, howsoe'er divine,
Can our lost selves restore from dusty grave?
Thy mortal mind and body — thine and mine —
Make all the joys I know, and all I crave.


No fair romance of transcendental bliss,
No tale of palms and crowns my dull heart stirs,
That only hungers for a woman's kiss,
And asks no life that is not one with hers.


Not such Hereafter can I wish to see;
Not this pale hope my sinking soul exalts;
I want no sexless angel — only thee,
My human love, with all thy human faults.


Just as thou art — not beautiful or wise,
But prone to simple sins and sad unrest;
With thy warm lips and arms, and thy sweet eyes —
Sweeter for tears they weep upon my breast.


Just as thou art — with thy soft household ways,
Thy noble failures and thy poor success,
Thy love that fits me for my strenuous days —
A mortal woman — neither more nor less.


And thou must pass with these too rapid hours
To that great deep from whence we both were brought;
Thy sentient flesh must turn to grass and flowers,
To birds and beasts, to dust — to air — to naught.


I know the parable. The great oaks grow
To their vast stature from an acorn grain,
And mightiest man was once an embryo.
But how can nothing bring thee forth again?


And is the new oak tree the old oak tree?
And is the son the father? And wouldst thou,
If thou couldst rise from nothing, be to me
Thy present self, that satisfies me now?


Words — words! A dream that fades in Faith's embrace,
And melts in Reason's all- refining fires;
The cherished hope of every age and race;
Born of man's fancy and his own desires.


Here in our little island- home we bide
Our few brief years — 'tis all that we possess.
The Infinite lies around on every side,
But what it holds no mortal mind may guess.


Say we remain — a lasting miracle —
As well we may; for this small world is rife
With mystic wonders that no tongue may tell,
And all things teem and travail with new life.


Say we awake — ineffably alive,
Divinely perfect — in some higher sphere!
'Twill not be we — the we who strain and strive,
And love and learn, and joy and suffer, here.


What is our hope, if any hope there be?
'Tis for some bliss uncared for and unknown,
That some strange beings, yet unborn, shall see.
Alas! And all we cry for is our own!


Only to be ourselves — not cast abroad
In space and time, for either bliss or woe —
Only to keep the treasures we have stored!
And they must pass away. And we must go.


How can we bear it? How can we submit?
Like a wild beast imprisoned, in our pain
We rave and rage for some way out of it,
But bruise and bleed against the bars in vain.


All — all is dark. Beyond our birth and death —
At either end — the same unyielding door.
We live, we love, while we draw human breath.
This much we know — but we can know no more.


The stars shine down upon the minster spires,
Silent, and pale, and still, like watching eyes.
Think of the tumult of those spinning fires —
Think of the vastness of those midnight skies!


Think of our world in the immense unknown —
Only a grain of stellar dust; and man,
Wanting a God, a Saviour, all his own —
Wanting to break the universal plan!


He but a phase of planetary change,
That once was not, and will give place anon
To other forms, more beautiful and strange —
To pass in turn — till earth herself is gone.


Earth, that is next to nothing in the sum
Of things created — a brief mote in space,
With all her aeons past and yet to come.
Ah, think of it! How we forget our place!

Casual atoms in the mighty scheme
That needs us not, we dimly wax and wane,
Dissolving ever like a passing dream —
A breath breathed forth and then drawn back again.


Lone in these infinite realms, perchance unseen —
Unheard. And yet not lost. And not so small,
So feebly futile, pitifully mean,
As our poor creeds would make us, after all.


Still are we details of the great design,
Set to our course, like circling sun and star;
Mortal, infinitesimal — yet divine,
Like Him — or It — that made us what we are.


Let manhood, God- begotten, have its due.
'Tis God — whate'er He be — hath made us thus,
Ourselves as gods to know the right and true.
Shall He not, then, be justified in us?


The warm sap runs; the tender leaves unfold;
Ant helps his brother ant; birds build in spring;
The patient earthworm sifts the crumbled mould; —
A sacred instinct guides each living thing.


Shall we, its born interpreters, not heed?
Shall we confess us failures, whom He lifts
So high above these creatures that succeed?
Or prove us worthy of our nobler gifts?


Shall we not prove us worthy? Ay, we will
Because we can, we must — through peace and strife,
Bright hope and black despair, come good, come ill.
'Tis man's sole title to his place in life.


To stand upright in all the winds that blow,
Unbeaten as a tree in driving rain;
In all our doubts, to do the best we know,
From no base fear of loss or hope of gain.


To still the cry of self — give listening ears
To stern Truth's message, whatsoe'er it be;
To share our brother's toil and dry his tears —
This is the task set forth for thee and me.


This is the lesson that we live to learn,
And, by brave thought, by word and deed, to teach;
These are the heights our lifted eyes discern
Through cloud and darkness, that our souls must reach.


Not less am I in wisdom and in will
Than ants and worms. I am full- furnished too
My arduous errand hither to fulfil.
I know my work, and what a man can do.


My God, I ask Thee nothing. Thou hast given
This conscious mind, this brain without a flaw;
And I will strive, as I have humbly striven,
To make them serve their purpose and Thy law.


But thee, my soul's companion — thee I seek
For daily courage to support my lot.
In thee hath Nature made me strong or weak.
My human comforter, forsake me not!


My nobler self, in whom I live my best,
Strengthen me! Raise me! Help me to the last!
Lay thy dear head upon my throbbing breast —
Give me thy hands, that I may hold thee fast!


Come close — come closer! Let me feel thy heart,
Thy pulsing heart, thy breathing lips, on mine.
O love, let only death and graveyard part —
If they must part — my flesh and soul from thine!


Let no mistrust, no doubt, no poor caprice
Darken for me in thy transparent gaze;
Let no self- wrought estrangement wreck our peace,
Nor vain dissension waste our precious days.


Be thou my purer eyes, my keener ears,
My finer conscience, steadfast, unafraid —
Till these few, swift, inexorable years
Have borne us both beyond the reach of aid.


Be thou my staff upon this lonely way.
Be thou my lamp till need of light is past —
Till the dark shadow, lengthening day by day,
Spreads over all and quenches us at last.


Keep me from falling! Keep me from despair!
Keep me true man, if only man I be,
Faithful and brave to bear what I must bear.
For what else have I, if I have not thee?

The Hand In The Dark

How calm the spangled city spread below!
How cool the night! How fair the starry skies!
How sweet the dewy breezes! But I know
What, under all their seeming beauty, lies.

That million-fibred heart, alive, is wrung
With every grief that human creatures fear.
Could its dumb anguish find a fitting tongue
The very dead within their graves would hear.

It calls me from my rest, that voiceless wail
Of Lazarus at the gate — my kith and kin
Whose cruise and cake, and staff and beacon, fail —
The famished crowd, that cannot enter in.

How can I take my ease amid this pain,
These pangs, these tears, these crimes, that never cease?
While homeless children cry for bread in vain
How can I eat? How can I sleep in peace?

Poor comrades of the fight, that have no place!
Brothers and sisters, born to want and wrong.
Born weak and maimed, to run a hopeless race,
Lost at the start, against the hale and strong!

Poor scapegoats of the wilderness, that fast
For those who feast! And, ah, poor feasters too!
They also thirst and hunger at the last.
And this is Life — and all the Race can do.

Vain, vain the listening ear, the questioning gaze.
Shoreless, unplumbed, the ether-ocean lies
Above these roofs, beyond the smoke and haze —
The Infinite — alive with watching eyes.

To see our orb of sorrow whirling there —
The tiny swarm of struggling things, that curse
Their subject province, and yet calmly dare
To claim the kingship of the Universe.
Dread cloud of witnesses to earth's disgrace!
Earth is my trust — I am afraid to look
Those still and stern accusers in the face,
And haste to hide in my familiar nook.

My little nook — where is it? Have I none?
I grow confused betwixt the sea and shore.
I had some lamps to guide me — one by one
They flashed and failed, and now I have no more.

Where am I? Oh, where am I? I can feel —
To feel my torment — but I cannot see,
I cannot hear. My brain begins to reel,
My heart to faint. Almighty, speak to me!

Help me! Or, in Thy pity, take me hence
While feeling heart and thinking brain are whole,
Or give me any rag of carnal sense,
So it suffice to wrap my naked soul!

* * * * *
No word. No sign. Yet something in the air
Soothes, like a cool hand on a fevered brow.
Replenished, from the ashes of despair
I rise renewed. Belovèd, where art thou?

She sleeps. She stirs. She hears the lightest fall
Of foot familiar with her chamber floor.
Her spirit answers to my spirit's call:
Come home! Come home! And I am saved once more.

Bringing no leaf of hope, alone and late,
Spent and wing-weary, famished for a crumb,
The wandering dove heads back to nest and mate.
My Love and Comforter, I come! I come!

Here is the welcome threshold of my ark,
My island-home amid the trackless flood.
Her hand shuts out the Silence and the Dark;
Her pulse thrills life into my fainting blood.

She draws me down upon that couch of bliss,
Her faithful arms, her tender mother-breast;
I clasp her close, those sweetest lips I kiss,
And, at long last, I have my hour of rest.

* * * * *
Thou, too, my love, hast wandered far and wide,
And hast come home, where all thy wanderings cease.
The door is shut. Thy mate is at thy side.
Here is thy long-sought pillow. Sleep in peace.

Heed not the patter of the weeping eaves,
The groan of branches bending to the rain,
The sad tap-tapping of dead autumn leaves,
Like ghostly fingers, on the window-pane.
The wind-borne echoings, from east and west,
Of weeping woe and wailing agony;
All night they cry round thy beleaguered nest,
But fear them not, for thou art safe with me.

Let the sad world spin on, a trail of shame
Amongst the myriad worlds. Whate'er befalls,
The great God knows that we are not to blame.
Our world is here, within our chamber walls.

In this asylum, secret and apart,
Whereof we keep the one and only key,
Rest thee, poor tired heart, upon my heart,
As all my weary being rests in thee.

Good-night! Good-night! Sleep deep and well, my bride.
The fight goes on, but we have won release.
Our wounds are healed, our tears are shed and dried.
Let the storms rage — they cannot break our peace.

* * * * *
Peace — is it peace? What is that form of fear
That looms ahead? What distillation sours
The joy of life when thou, alive, art near,
And nought seems wanting to the perfect hours?

What chills my passion when I love thee most,
And dims my eyes, and veils thy face, and slips,
An unseen shadow, like a creeping ghost,
Betwixt my hungering kisses and thy lips?

What, amid richest plenty, starves me thus?
What is it steals my soul's content, and thine —
That sits a guest at marriage-feast with us,
And mixes poison with the food and wine?

* * * * *
A vision comes. A graveyard, all alone,
A small green mound, a withered funeral wreath;
Love's last drear symbol of a graven stone,
And Life and I but worthless dust beneath.

There weep the dews, and winds of winter blow;
The soft breeze rustles in the bending grass;
The cold rain falls there, and the drifting snow.
But tears fall not, nor lover's footsteps pass.

Bees hum all day amid the young spring leaves;
The rooks call loudly from the elm-tree bough;
The sparrows twitter in the old church eaves;
But no voice cries for me, or calls me, now.

Bright beams of morning compass me about;
The stars shine o'er me, and the pale moonlight;
But I, that lit and warmed thee, am gone out
Like a burnt candle, in eternal night.

Earth to the earth upon this churchyard slope,
Ashes to ashes, nothing to the nought;
No tryst between us, and no star of hope
To light the path so passionately sought.

And still the sands between thy fingers run —
Desires, delights, ambitions, days and years,
Rich hours of life for thee, though mine are done —
Too full for vain regrets, too brief for tears.

I have lost all, but thou dost hold and save,
Adding new treasure to thy rifled store;
While weeds grow long on the deserted grave
Where sleeps thy mate who may be thine no more.

* * * * *
This is the fate I fear, the ghost I see,
The dream I dream at night, the thought I dread —
That thus 't'will be someday with thee and me,
Thou fain to live while I am doubly dead.

Thou still defiant of our common foe,
I vanquished quite — the once-resplendent crown
Of all thy joys become a dragging woe,
To be lopped off lest it should weigh thee down.

I, once thy sap of life, a wasteful drain
On thy green vigour, like a rotten branch;
I, once thy health, a paralysing pain,
A bleeding wound, that thou must haste to stanch.

Because the dead are dead — the past is gone;
Because dear life is sweet and time is brief,
And some must fall, and some must still press on,
Nor waste scant strength in unavailing grief.

* * * * *
I blame thee not. I know what must be must.
Nor shall I suffer when apart from thee.
I shall not care, when I am mouldering dust,
That once quick love is in the grave with me.
Cast me away — thou knowest I shall not fret;
Take thy due joys — I shall not bear the cost.
I, that am thus forgotten, shall forget,
Nor shed one tear for all that I have lost.

Not then the sting of death, the day of dole,
When corpse of love lies under funeral pall;
'Tis now I wear the sackcloth on my soul,
Bereaved and lonely, while possessed of all.

* * * * *
If thou wert dead, belovèd, should I turn
Deaf heart to memory when of thee she spake?
Should I, when this pure fire had ceased to burn,
Seek other hearths for sordid comfort's sake?

No, no! Yet I am mortal, I am weak,
And any fire is warm in wintry cold.
Alas! alas! The fateful years will wreak
Their own stern will on ours, when all is told.

Tell us, 0 Thou that canst behold us grope,
Whole-souled, incessant, through these realms unknown
For but one touch of a substantial hope,
How can we keep our dear selves for our own?

Whence did we come? And is it there we go?
We look behind — night hides our place of birth;
The blank ahead hides Heaven, for aught we know;
But what is Heaven to us, whose home is Earth?

Flesh may be gross — the husk that holds the seed;
Jewels of gold worth more than common bread;
But we are flesh, and common bread our need.
Angels in glory, we should still be dead.

What is the infinite Universe to him
Who has no home? Eternal Future seems,
Like the eternal Past, unreal and dim,
The airy region of a poet's dreams.

What spirit-essence, howsoe'er divine,
Can our lost selves restore from dusty grave?
Her mortal mind and body — hers and mine —
Make all the joys I know, and all I crave.

No fair romance of transcendental bliss,
No tale of palms and crowns, my dull heart stirs,
That only hungers for a woman's kiss,
And asks no life that is not one with hers.
No such Hereafter do I ask to see;
No such pale hope my sinking soul exalts;
I want no sexless angel — only thee,
My human love, with all thy human faults.

Just as thou art — not beautiful or wise,
But prone to simple sins and sad unrest —
With thy warm lips and arms, and thy sweet eyes,
Sweeter for tears they weep upon my breast.

Just as thou art, with thy soft household ways,
Thy noble failures and thy poor success,
Thy love that fits me for my strenuous days;
A mortal woman — neither more nor less.

* * * * *
And thou must pass, with these too rapid hours,
To that great deep wherefrom we both were brought;
Thy sentient flesh must turn to grass and flowers,
To birds and beasts, to dust — to air — to nought.

I know the parable. The great oaks grow
To their vast stature from an acorn grain,
And mightiest man was once an embryo.
But how can nothing bring thee forth again?

And is the new oak tree the old oak tree?
And is the son the father? And would'st thou,
If thou could'st rise from nothing, be to me
The precious self that satisfies me now?

Words! Words! A tale — a fairy legend, drawn
From lore of babes, that men must cast away;
Faith of the primal dreamer and the dawn,
Eluding vision in the light of day.

Here in our little island-home we bide
Our few brief years — the years that we possess.
Beyond, the Infinite on every side
Holds what no man may know, though all may guess.

We may remain — a lasting miracle. Ay, well we may. Our island-home is rife
With marvels greater than the tongue can tell,
And all things teem and travail with new life.

We may awake, ineffably alive,
Divinely perfect, in some higher sphere:
But still not we shall wake — the we who strive,
Who love and learn, who joy and suffer, here.
What then our hope, if any hope there be?
A something vague and formless and unknown,
That some strange beings, yet unborn, shall see.
Alas! And all we cry for is our own.

Only to be ourselves — not cast abroad
In space and time, for either bliss or woe;
Only to keep the treasures we have stored.
And they must pass away. And we must go.

How can we bear it? How can we submit?
Like a wild beast imprisoned, in our pain
We rave and rage for some way out of it,
And bruise and bleed against the bars in vain.

All, all is dark. Beyond our birth and death —
At either end — the same unyielding door.
We live, we love, while we draw human breath;
And then we die. And then? We know no more.

* * * * *
Ah, but look up, above these roofs and spires,
To where the stars shine down like watching eyes.
Conceive the tumult of those spinning fires!
Behold the vastness of those midnight skies!

And count the value of this speck of earth
Amid the countless Whole; and measure Man —
That on this speck but yesterday had birth,
And claims all God — with the prodigious plan.

Man, but a phase of planetary change,
That once was not, and will give place anon
To other forms, more beautiful and strange —
To pass in turn — till Earth herself is gone.

Earth, that is next to nothing in the sum
Of things created — a brief mote in space,
With all her aeons past and yet to come.
How we miscalculate our size — our place!

Yet are we men — details of the design,
Set to our course, like circling sun and star;
Mortal, infinitesimal, yet divine
Of that divine which made us what we are.

And yet this world, this microscopic ball,
This cast-up grain of sand upon the shore,
This trivial shred and atom of the ALL,
Is still our Trust, that we must answer for.
A lighthouse in the Infinite, with lamps
That we must trim and feed until we die;
A lonely outpost of the unseen camps
That we must keep, although we know not why.

The workman and the soldier have the word;
Theirs to obey, and not to question. Thus
We stand to orders that we never heard,
Bound to our little part. Enough for us.

The warm sap runs; the tender leaves unfold;
Ant helps his brother ant; birds build and sing;
The patient earthworm aids the pregnant mould
To fruit in autumn and to bud in spring.

Not less am I in wisdom and in will
Than ants and worms. I am full-furnished too
My arduous errand hither to fulfil.
I know my work, and what a man can do.

Maker of all! Enough that Thou hast given
This tempered mind, this brain without a flaw.
Enough for me to strive, as I have striven,
To make them serve their purpose and Thy law.

* * * * *
But, oh, my soul's companion! Thee I seek
For daily courage to support my lot.
In thee hath Nature made me strong or weak.
My human comforter, forsake me not!

My nobler self, in whom I live my best,
Strengthen me! Raise me! Lead me to the last!
Lay thy dear head upon my throbbing breast,
Give me thy hands, that I may hold thee fast!

Come close — come closer! Let me feel thy heart,
Thy pulsing heart, thy breathing lips, on mine.
0 love, let only death and graveyard part —
If they must part — my flesh and soul from thine!

Be thou my purer eyes, my keener ears,
My finer conscience, clean and unafraid,
Till these few, swift, inexorable years
Have borne us both beyond the reach of aid.

My rod and staff upon this lonely way,
My beacon-lamp till need of light is past;
Till the great Shadow, lengthening day by day,
Spreads over all and quenches us at last.

A Story At Dusk

An evening all aglow with summer light
And autumn colour—fairest of the year.

The wheat-fields, crowned with shocks of tawny gold,
All interspersed with rough sowthistle roots,
And interlaced with white convolvulus,
Lay, flecked with purple shadows, in the sun.
The shouts of little children, gleaning there
The scattered ears and wild blue-bottle flowers—
Mixed with the corn-crake's crying, and the song
Of lone wood birds whose mother-cares were o'er,
And with the whispering rustle of red leaves—
Scarce stirred the stillness. And the gossamer sheen
Was spread on upland meadows, silver bright
In low red sunshine and soft kissing wind—
Showing where angels in the night had trailed
Their garments on the turf. Tall arrow-heads,
With flag and rush and fringing grasses, dropped
Their seeds and blossoms in the sleepy pool.
The water-lily lay on her green leaf,
White, fair, and stately; while an amorous branch
Of silver willow, drooping in the stream,
Sent soft, low-babbling ripples towards her:
And oh, the woods!—erst haunted with the song
Of nightingales and tender coo of doves—
They stood all flushed and kindling 'neath the touch
Of death—kind death!—fair, fond, reluctant death!—
A dappled mass of glory!
With russet wood-fruit thick upon the ground,
'Mid crumpled ferns and delicate blue harebells.
The orchard-apples rolled in seedy grass—
Apples of gold, and violet-velvet plums;
And all the tangled hedgerows bore a crop
Of scarlet hips, blue sloes, and blackberries,
And orange clusters of the mountain ash.
The crimson fungus and soft mosses clung
To old decaying trunks; the summer bine
Drooped, shivering, in the glossy ivy's grasp.
By day the blue air bore upon its wings
Wide-wandering seeds, pale drifts of thistle-down;
By night the fog crept low upon the earth,
All white and cool, and calmed its feverishness,
And veiled it over with a veil of tears.

The curlew and the plover were come back
To still, bleak shores; the little summer birds
Were gone—to Persian gardens, and the groves
Of Greece and Italy, and the palmy lands.

A Norman tower, with moss and lichen clothed,
Wherein old bells, on old worm-eaten frames
And rusty wheels, had swung for centuries,
Chiming the same soft chime—the lullaby
Of cradled rooks and blinking bats and owls;
Setting the same sweet tune, from year to year,
For generations of true hearts to sing.
A wide churchyard, with grassy slopes and nooks,
And shady corners and meandering paths;
With glimpses of dim windows and grey walls
Just caught at here and there amongst the green
Of flowering shrubs and sweet lime-avenues.
An old house standing near—a parsonage-house—
With broad thatched roof and overhanging eaves,
O'errun with banksia roses,—a low house,
With ivied windows and a latticed porch,
Shut in a tiny Paradise, all sweet
With hum of bees and scent of mignonette.

We lay our lazy length upon the grass
In that same Paradise, my friend and I.
And, as we lay, we talked of college days—
Wild, racing, hunting, steeple-chasing days;
Of river reaches, fishing-grounds, and weirs,
Bats, gloves, debates, and in-humanities:
And then of boon-companions of those days,
How lost and scattered, married, changed, and dead;
Until he flung his arm across his face,
And feigned to slumber.
He was changed, my friend;
Not like the man—the leader of his set—
The favourite of the college—that I knew.
And more than time had changed him. He had been
“A little wild,” the Lady Alice said;
“A little gay, as all young men will be
At first, before they settle down to life—
While they have money, health, and no restraint,
Nor any work to do,” Ah, yes! But this
Was mystery unexplained—that he was sad
And still and thoughtful, like an aged man;
And scarcely thirty. With a winsome flash,
The old bright heart would shine out here and there;
But aye to be o'ershadowed and hushed down,

As he had hushed it now.
His dog lay near,
With long, sharp muzzle resting on his paws,
And wistful eyes, half shut,—but watching him;
A deerhound of illustrious race, all grey
And grizzled, with soft, wrinkled, velvet ears;
A gaunt, gigantic, wolfish-looking brute,
And worth his weight in gold.
“There, there,” said he,
And raised him on his elbow, “you have looked
Enough at me; now look at some one else.”

“You could not see him, surely, with your arm
Across your face?”
“No, but I felt his eyes;
They are such sharp, wise eyes—persistent eyes—
Perpetually reproachful. Look at them;
Had ever dog such eyes?”
“Oh yes,” I thought;
But, wondering, turned my talk upon his breed.
And was he of the famed Glengarry stock?
And in what season was he entered? Where,
Pray, did he pick him up?
He moved himself
At that last question, with a little writhe
Of sudden pain or restlessness; and sighed.
And then he slowly rose, pushed back the hair
From his broad brows; and, whistling softly, said,
“Come here, old dog, and we will tell him. Come.”

“On such a day, and such a time, as this,
Old Tom and I were stalking on the hills,
Near seven years ago. Bad luck was ours;
For we had searched up corrie, glen, and burn,
From earliest daybreak—wading to the waist
Peat-rift and purple heather—all in vain!
We struck a track nigh every hour, to lose
A noble quarry by ignoble chance—
The crowing of a grouse-cock, or the flight
Of startled mallards from a reedy pool,
Or subtle, hair's breadth veering of the wind.
And now 'twas waning sunset—rosy soft

On far grey peaks, and the green valley spread
Beneath us. We had climbed a ridge, and lay
Debating in low whispers of our plans
For night and morning. Golden eagles sailed
Above our heads; the wild ducks swam about

Amid the reeds and rushes of the pools;
A lonely heron stood on one long leg
In shallow water, watching for a meal;
And there, to windward, couching in the grass
That fringed the blue edge of a sleeping loch—
Waiting for dusk to feed and drink—there lay
A herd of deer.
“And as we looked and planned,
A mountain storm of sweeping mist and rain
Came down upon us. It passed by, and left
The burnies swollen that we had to cross;
And left us barely light enough to see
The broad, black, branching antlers, clustering still
Amid the long grass in the valley.

Said Tom, ‘there is a shealing down below,
To leeward. We might bivouac there to-night,
And come again at dawn.’
“And so we crept
Adown the glen, and stumbled in the dark
Against the doorway of the keeper's home,
And over two big deerhounds—ancestors
Of this our old companion. There was light
And warmth, a welcome and a heather bed,
At Colin's cottage; with a meal of eggs
And fresh trout, broiled by dainty little hands,
And sweetest milk and oatcake. There were songs
And Gaelic legends, and long talk of deer—
Mixt with a sweet, low laughter, and the whir
Of spinning-wheel.
“The dogs lay at her feet—
The feet of Colin's daughter—with their soft
Dark velvet ears pricked up for every sound
And movement that she made. Right royal brutes,
Whereon I gazed with envy.
“ ‘What,’ I asked,
‘Would Colin take for these?’
“ ‘Eh, sir,’ said he,
And shook his head, ‘I cannot sell the dogs.
They're priceless, they, and—Jeanie's favourites.
But there's a litter in the shed—five pups,
As like as peas to this one. You may choose
Amongst them, sir—take any that you like.
Get us the lantern, Jeanie. You shall show
The gentleman.’
“Ah, she was fair, that girl!

Not like the other lassies—cottage folk;
For there was subtle trace of gentle blood
Through all her beauty and in all her ways.
(The mother's race was ‘poor and proud,’ they said).
Ay, she was fair, my darling! with her shy,
Brown, innocent face and delicate-shapen limbs.
She had the tenderest mouth you ever saw,
And grey, dark eyes, and broad, straight-pencill'd brows;
Dark hair, sun-dappled with a sheeny gold;
Dark chestnut braids that knotted up the light,
As soft as satin. You could scarcely hear
Her step, or hear the rustling of her gown,
Or the soft hovering motion of her hands
At household work. She seemed to bring a spell
Of tender calm and silence where she came.
You felt her presence—and not by its stir,
But by its restfulness. She was a sight
To be remembered—standing in the straw;
A sleepy pup soft-cradled in her arms
Like any Christian baby; standing still,
The while I handled his ungainly limbs.
And Colin blustered of the sport—of hounds,
Roe, ptarmigan, and trout, and ducal deer—
Ne'er lifting up that sweet, unconscious face,
To see why I was silent. Oh, I would
You could have seen her then. She was so fair,
And oh, so young!—scarce seventeen at most—
So ignorant and so young!
“Tell them, my friend—
Your flock—the restless-hearted—they who scorn
The ordered fashion fitted to our race,
And scoff at laws they may not understand—
Tell them that they are fools. They cannot mate
With other than their kind, but woe will come
In some shape—mostly shame, but always grief
And disappointment. Ah, my love! my love!
But she was different from the common sort;
A peasant, ignorant, simple, undefiled;
The child of rugged peasant-parents, taught
In all their thoughts and ways; yet with that touch
Of tender grace about her, softening all
The rougher evidence of her lowly state—
That undefined, unconscious dignity—
That delicate instinct for the reading right
The riddles of less simple minds than hers—
That sharper, finer, subtler sense of life—
That something which does not possess a name,

Which made her beauty beautiful to me—
The long-lost legacy of forgotten knights.

“I chose amongst the five fat creeping things
This rare old dog. And Jeanie promised kind
And gentle nurture for its infant days;
And promised she would keep it till I came
Another year. And so we went to rest.
And in the morning, ere the sun was up,
We left our rifles, and went out to run
The browsing red-deer with old Colin's hounds.
Through glen and bog, through brawling mountain streams,
Grey, lichened boulders, furze, and juniper,
And purple wilderness of moor, we toiled,
Ere yet the distant snow-peak was alight.
We chased a hart to water; saw him stand
At bay, with sweeping antlers, in the burn.
His large, wild, wistful eyes despairingly
Turned to the deeper eddies; and we saw
The choking struggle and the bitter end,
And cut his gallant throat upon the grass,
And left him. Then we followed a fresh track—
A dozen tracks—and hunted till the noon;
Shot cormorants and wild cats in the cliffs,
And snipe and blackcock on the ferny hills;
And set our floating night-lines at the loch;—
And then came back to Jeanie.
“Well, you know
What follows such commencement:—how I found
The woods and corries round about her home
Fruitful of roe and red-deer; how I found
The grouse lay thickest on adjacent moors;
Discovered ptarmigan on rocky peaks,
And rare small game on birch-besprinkled hills,
O'ershadowing that rude shealing; how the pools
Were full of wild-fowl, and the loch of trout;
How vermin harboured in the underwood,
And rocks, and reedy marshes; how I found
The sport aye best in this charmed neighbourhood.
And then I e'en must wander to the door,
To leave a bird for Colin, or to ask
A lodging for some stormy night, or see
How fared my infant deerhound.
“And I saw
The creeping dawn unfolding; saw the doubt,
And faith, and longing swaying her sweet heart;
And every flow just distancing the ebb.

I saw her try to bar the golden gates
Whence love demanded egress,—calm her eyes,
And still the tender, sensitive, tell-tale lips,
And steal away to corners; saw her face
Grow graver and more wistful, day by day;
And felt the gradual strengthening of my hold.
I did not stay to think of it—to ask
What I was doing!
“In the early time,
She used to slip away to household work
When I was there, and would not talk to me;
But when I came not, she would climb the glen
In secret, and look out, with shaded brow,
Across the valley. Ay, I caught her once—
Like some young helpless doe, amongst the fern—
I caught her, and I kissed her mouth and eyes;
And with those kisses signed and sealed our fate
For evermore. Then came our happy days—
The bright, brief, shining days without a cloud!
In ferny hollows and deep, rustling woods,
That shut us in and shut out all the world—
The far, forgotten world—we met, and kissed,
And parted, silent, in the balmy dusk.
We haunted still roe-coverts, hand in hand,
And murmured, under our breath, of love and faith,
And swore great oaths for one of us to keep.
We sat for hours, with sealèd lips, and heard
The crossbill chattering in the larches—heard
The sweet wind whispering as it passed us by—
And heard our own hearts' music in the hush.
Ah, blessed days! ah, happy, innocent days!—
I would I had them back.
“Then came the Duke,
And Lady Alice, with her worldly grace
And artificial beauty—with the gleam
Of jewels, and the dainty shine of silk,
And perfumed softness of white lace and lawn;
With all the glamour of her courtly ways,
Her talk of art and fashion, and the world
We both belonged to. Ah, she hardened me!
I lost the sweetness of the heathery moors
And hills and quiet woodlands, in that scent
Of London clubs and royal drawing-rooms;
I lost the tender chivalry of my love,
The keen sense of its sacredness, the clear
Perception of mine honour, by degrees,
Brought face to face with customs of my kind.

I was no more a “man;” nor she, my love,
A delicate lily of womanhood—ah, no!
I was the heir of an illustrious house,
And she a simple, homespun cottage-girl.

“And now I stole at rarer intervals
To those dim trysting woods; and when I came
I brought my cunning worldly wisdom—talked
Of empty forms and marriages in heaven—
To stain that simple soul, God pardon me!
And she would shiver in the stillness, scared
And shocked, with her pathetic eyes—aye proof
Against the fatal, false philosophy.
But my will was the strongest, and my love
The weakest; and she knew it.
“Well, well, well,
I need not talk of that. There came the day
Of our last parting in the ferny glen—
A bitter parting, parting from my life,
Its light and peace for ever! And I turned
To balls and billiards, politics and wine;
Was wooed by Lady Alice, and half won;
And passed a feverous winter in the world.
Ah, do not frown! You do not understand.
You never knew that hopeless thirst for peace—
That gnawing hunger, gnawing at your life;
The passion, born too late! I tell you, friend,
The ruth, and love, and longing for my child,
It broke my heart at last.
“In the hot days
Of August, I went back; I went alone.
And on old garrulous Margery—relict she
Of some departed seneschal—I rained
My eager questions. ‘Had the poaching been
As ruinous and as audacious as of old?
Were the dogs well? and had she felt the heat?
And—I supposed the keeper, Colin, still
Was somewhere on the place?’
“ ‘Nay, sir,’; said she,
‘But he has left the neighbourhood. He ne'er
Has held his head up since he lost his child,
Poor soul, a month ago.’
“I heard—I heard!
His child—he had but one—my little one,
Whom I had meant to marry in a week!

“ ‘Ah, sir, she turned out badly after all,
The girl we thought a pattern for all girls.
We know not how it happened, for she named
No names. And, sir, it preyed upon her mind,
And weakened it; and she forgot us all,
And seemed as one aye walking in her sleep
She noticed no one—no one but the dog,
A young deerhound that followed her about;
Though him she hugged and kissed in a strange way
When none was by. And Colin, he was hard
Upon the girl; and when she sat so still,
And pale and passive, while he raved and stormed,
Looking beyond him, as it were, he grew
The harder and more harsh. He did not know
That she was not herself. Men are so blind!
But when he saw her floating in the loch,
The moonlight on her face, and her long hair
All tangled in the rushes; saw the hound
Whining and crying, tugging at her plaid—
Ah, sir, it was a death-stroke!’
“This was all.
This was the end of her sweet life—the end
Of all worth having of mine own! At night
I crept across the moors to find her grave,
And kiss the wet earth covering it—and found
The deerhound lying there asleep. Ay me!
It was the bitterest darkness,—nevermore
To break out into dawn and day again!

“And Lady Alice shakes her dainty head,
Lifts her arch eyebrows, smiles, and whispers, “Once
He was a little wild!’ ”
With that he laughed;
Then suddenly flung his face upon the grass,
Crying, “Leave me for a little—let me be!”
And in the dusky stillness hugged his woe,
And wept away his passion by himself.