Know, Nature, Like The Cuckoo, Laughs At Law
`Know, Nature, like the cuckoo, laughs at law,
Placing her eggs in whatso nest she will;
And when, at callow-time, you think to find
The sparrow's stationary chirp, lo! bursts
Voyaging voice to glorify the Spring.'
Here Have I Learnt The Little That I Know
Here have I learnt the little that I know,
Here where in these untutored woodland ways
The primrose, all unconscious of our praise,
Dimpled the dainty coverlet of the snow,
March's first-born, and, still averse to go,
Though drowsy-lidded, dallies and delays
When, dawning through the bluebell's heavenly haze,
June into full mid-summer broadeneth slow.
Forgive me, friend, if these mean more to me,
Imbue my being with a deeper lore,
Come nearer to my heart, instruct me more
In what I am and what I fain would be,
Even than Sabine summit, Oscan shore,
Or Tiber curving tawnily to the sea.'
Nay, do not quarrel with the seasons, dear,
Nor make an enemy of friendly Time.
The fruit and foliage of the failing year
Rival the buds and blossoms of its prime.
Is not the harvest moon as round and bright
As that to which the nightingales did sing?
And thou, that call'st thyself my satellite,
Wilt seem in Autumn all thou art in Spring.
When steadfast sunshine follows fitful rain,
And gleams the sickle where once passed the plough,
Since tender green hath grown to mellow grain,
Love then will gather what it scattereth now,
And, like contented reaper, rest its head
Upon the sheaves itself hath harvested.
The leaves have not yet gone; then why do ye come,
O white flakes falling from a dusky cloud?
But yesterday my garden-plot was proud
With uncut sheaves of ripe chrysanthemum.
Some trees the winds have stripped; but look on some,
'Neath double load of snow and foliage bowed,
Unnatural winter fashioning a shroud
For Autumn's burial ere its pulse be numb.
Yet Nature plays not an inhuman part:
In her, our own, vicissitudes we trace.
Do we not cling to our accustomed place,
Though journeying Death have beckoned us to start?
And faded smiles oft linger in the face,
While grief's first flakes fall silent on the heart!
To Alfred Tennyson
Poet! in other lands, when Spring no more
Gleams o'er the grass, nor in the thicket-side
Plays at being lost and laughs to be descried,
And blooms lie wilted on the orchard floor,
Then the sweet birds that from Ægean shore
Across Ausonian breakers thither hied,
Own April's music in their breast hath died,
And croft and copse resound not as before.
But, in this privileged Isle, this brave, this blest,
This deathless England, it seems always Spring.
Though graver wax the days, Song takes not wing.
In Autumn boughs it builds another nest:
Even from the snow we lift our hearts and sing,
And still your voice is heard above the rest.
I Chide Not At The Seasons
I chide not at the seasons, for if Spring
With backward look refuses to be fair,
My Love still more than April makes me sing,
And shows May blossom in the bleak March air.
Should Summer fail its tryst, or June delay
To wreathe my porch with roses red and pale,
Her breath is sweeter than the new-mown hay,
Her touch more clinging than the woodbine's trail.
Let Autumn like a spendthrift waste the year,
And reap no harvest save the fallen leaves,
My Love still ripeneth, though she grows not sere,
And smiles enthroned upon our piled-up sheaves.
And last, when miser Winter docks the days,
She warms my hearth and keeps my hopes ablaze.
The Flower, Full Blown, Now Bends The Stalk, Now Breaks
The flower, full blown, now bends the stalk, now breaks;
The mellow fruit inclines the bough to earth;
The brow which thought impregnates ofttimes aches;
Death-stricken is the womb in giving birth.
Cracked is the vase by heat which doth illume,
The driest logs the swiftest burn to nought,
Sweet flowers are stifled by their own perfume,
And bees when honey-clogged are easy caught.
Snapped are true chords e'en by the note they give,
The largest wave is broken by its weight,
Choked by its sheer sufficiency the sieve,
And blunted soon the shaft which flieth straight.
And so the largest mind and richest soul
Are always most amenable to dole.
An Autumn—blooming Rose
I found, and plucked, an autumn-blooming rose,
And shut my eyes, and scented all its savour:
When lo! as in the month the blackthorn blows,
Lambs 'gan to bleat, and merle and lark to quaver.
Flower of my life! inestimably dear,
Now that its calendar wanes sere and sober,
To me your freshness, turning back the year,
Makes that seem April others call October.
With me 'tis Autumn, and with you 'tis Spring,
But Love hath brought these seasons sweet together.
Within your leafy life I sit and sing,
And you with me share wealth of harvest weather.
Thus all things we exchange, and nothing lose:
Take you life's wisdom, lend to me life's sweetness.
Your vernal voice shall wed my mellow muse,
And song give youth, and youth give song, completeness.
``Awake, awake, for the Springtime's sake,
March daffodils too long dreaming;
The lark is high in the spacious sky
And the celandine's stars are gleaming.
The gorse is ablaze, and the woodland sprays
Are as purple as August heather,
The buds unfurl, and mavis and merle
Are singing duets together.
``The rivulets run, first one by one,
Then meet in the swirling river,
And on out-peeping roots the sun-god shoots
The shafts of his golden quiver.
In the hazel copse the thrush never stops
Till with music the world seems ringing,
And the milkmaid hale, as she carries her pail,
Goes home to the dairy, singing:
``And the swain and his sweet in the love-lanes meet,
And welcome and face each other,
Till he folds her charms in his world-wide arms,
With kisses that blind and smother.''
Then the daffodils came, aflame, aflame,
In orchard, and garth, and cover,
And out April leapt, first smiled, then wept,
And longed for her May-day lover.
Wardens Of The Wave
Not to exult in braggart vein
Over a gallant foe,
Or boast of triumphs on the main,
The Gods alone bestow;
Vainglorious clarion, clamorous drum,
For which the vulgar crave,
Not these, not any such, become
The Wardens of the Wave.
No, but when slumbering war-dogs wake,
To the last gasp of breath
Face combat for one's Country's sake,
With male disdain of death;
For this did Nelson live and die,
Far from his Land and home,
Making his roof-tree of the sky,
His pillow on the foam.
And if our race to-day recall
His last triumphant doom,
Place wreaths on his unfading pall,
And flowers upon his tomb,
'Tis to remind us still to keep
Aggression's lust in awe,
And with dominion of the deep
Guard Freedom, Peace, and Law.
And not alone upon the waves
That sentinel our shore,
Service that disciplines, not enslaves,
Should rule us, as of yore;
So that our Island Citadel
May tranquilly respond
With the calm signal, ``All is well,''
To every Sea Beyond.
The hills slope down to the valley, the streams run down to the sea,
And my heart, my heart, O far one! sets and strains towards thee.
But only the feet of the mountain are felt by the rim of the plain,
And the source and soul of the hurrying stream reach not the calling main.
The dawn is sick for the daylight, the morning yearns for the noon,
And the twilight sighs for the evening star and the rising of the moon.
But the dawn and the daylight never were seen in the self-same skies,
And the gloaming dies of its own desire when the moon and the stars arise.
The Springtime calls to the Summer, ``Oh, mingle your life with mine,''
And Summer to Autumn 'plaineth low, ``Must the harvest be only thine?''
But the nightingale goes when the swallow comes, ere the leaf is the blossom fled;
And when Autumn sits on her golden sheaves, then the reign of the rose is dead.
And hunger and thirst, and wail and want, are lost in the empty air,
And the heavenly spirit vainly pines for the touch of the earthly fair.
And the hills slope down to the valley, the streams run down to the sea,
And my heart, my heart, O far one! sets and strains towards thee.
As Dies The Year
The Old Year knocks at the farmhouse door.
October, come with your matron gaze,
From the fruit you are storing for winter days,
And prop him up on the granary floor,
Where the straw lies threshed and the corn stands heaped:
Let him eat of the bread he reaped;
He is feeble and faint, and can work no more.
Weaker he waneth, and weaker yet.
November, shower your harvest down,
Chestnut, and mast, and acorn brown;
For you he laboured, so pay the debt.
Make him a pallet-he cannot speak-
And a pillow of moss for his pale pinched cheek,
With your golden leaves for coverlet.
He is numb to touch, he is deaf to call.
December, hither with muffled tread,
And gaze on the Year, for the Year is dead,
And over him cast a wan white pall.
Take down the mattock, and ply the spade.
And deep in the clay let his clay be laid,
And snowflakes fall at his funeral.
Thus may I die, since it must be,
My wage well earned and my work-days done,
And the seasons following one by one
To the slow sweet end that the wise foresee;
Fed from the store of my ripened sheaves,
Laid to rest on my fallen leaves,
And with snow-white souls to weep for me.
Burns’s Statue At Irvine
Yes! let His place be there!
Where the lone moorland gazes on the sea,
Not in the squalid street nor pompous square:
So that he again may be
From contamination free,
His pedestal the plain, his canopy the air!
There leave him all alone!
Too much, too long, he herded with his kind,
Lured by the frolic phantoms that dethrone
Honest heart and homely mind,
Phantoms that besot and blind,
Then leave the troubled soul to suffer and atone.
From city stain and broil
Hither his rustic memory reclaim,
Leading him back, strayed suckling of the soil,
Homeward, that forgiving Fame
May around his shriven name
A halo wind, shall Time nor Truth itself despoil.
Quickly the Poet learns
The little that the alien world can teach.
Then he, if wise, to solitude returns,
Communing on brae and beach
With old Ocean's rhythmic speech,
Message of wandering winds, or lore of mountain burns.
'Tis there that Nature fills
His brooding heart with all he needs to know,
Moan of the main, and rapture of the rills;
So that, whether joy or woe
Fire his verse, it still may glow
Clear as her heaven-fed streams, and soaring as her hills.
My Winter Rose
Why did you come when the trees were bare?
Why did you come with the wintry air?
When the faint note dies in the robin's throat,
And the gables drip and the white flakes float?
What a strange, strange season to choose to come,
When the heavens are blind and the earth is dumb:
When nought is left living to dirge the dead,
And even the snowdrop keeps its bed!
Could you not come when woods are green?
Could you not come when lambs are seen?
When the primrose laughs from its childlike sleep,
And the violets hide and the bluebells peep?
When the air as your breath is sweet, and skies
Have all but the soul of your limpid eyes,
And the year, growing confident day by day,
Weans lusty June from the breast of May?
Yet had you come then, the lark had lent
In vain his music, the thorn its scent,
In vain the woodbine budded, in vain
The rippling smile of the April rain.
Your voice would have silenced merle and thrush,
And the rose outbloomed would have blushed to blush,
And Summer, seeing you, paused, and known
That the glow of your beauty outshone its own.
So, timely you came, and well you chose,
You came when most needed, my winter rose.
From the snow I pluck you, and fondly press
Your leaves 'twixt the leaves of my leaflessness.
When Runnels Began To Leap And Sing
When runnels began to leap and sing,
And daffodil sheaths to blow,
Then out of the thicket came blue-eyed Spring,
And laughed at the melting snow.
``It is time, old Winter, you went,'' she said,
And flitted across the plain,
With an iris scarf around her head,
And diamonded with rain.
When the hawthorn put off her bridal veil,
And the nightingale's nocturn died,
Then Summer came forth with her milking-pail,
And hunted the Spring, and cried,
``It is time you went; you have had your share,''
And she carolled a love-song sweet,
With eglantine ravelled about her hair,
And butter-cup dust on her feet.
When the pears swelled juicy, the apples sweet,
And thatched was the new-ricked hay,
And August was bronzing the stripling wheat,
Then Summer besought to stay.
But Autumn came from the red-roofed farm,
And ``'Tis time that you went,'' replied,
With an amber sheaf on her nut-brown arm,
And her sickle athwart her side.
When the farmer railed at the hireling slut,
And fingered his fatted beeves,
And Autumn groped for the last stray nut
In the drift of her littered leaves,
``It is time you went from the lifeless land,''
Bawled Winter, then whistled weird,
With a log for his hearth in his chilblained hand,
And sleet in his grizzled beard.
In Praise Of England
From tangled brake and trellised bower
Bring every bud that blows,
But never will you find the flower
To match an English rose.
It blooms with more than city grace,
Though rustic and apart;
It has a smile upon its face,
And a dewdrop in its heart.
Though wide the goodly world around
Your fancy may have strayed,
Where was the woman ever found
To match an English maid?
At work she smiles, through play she sings,
She doubts not nor denies;
She'll cling to you as woodbine clings,
And love you till she dies.
If you would put it to the proof,
Then round the zodiac roam;
But never will you find the roof
To match an English home.
You hear the sound of children's feet
Still pattering on the stair:
'Tis made by loving labour sweet,
And sanctified by prayer.
Go traverse tracts sublime or sweet,
Snow-peak or scorched ravine,
But where will you the landscape meet
To match an English scene?
The hamlet hallowed by its spire,
The wildwood fresh with flowers,
Garden and croft and thorp and byre
Gleaming through silvery showers.
Across the wave, along the wind,
Flutter and plough your way,
But where will you a Sceptre find
To match the English Sway?
Its conscience holds the world in awe
With blessing or with ban;
Its Freedom guards the Reign of Law,
And majesty of Man!
SHE wanders in the April woods,
That glisten with the fallen shower;
She leans her face against the buds,
She stops, she stoops, she plucks a flower.
She feels the ferment of the hour:
She broodeth when the ringdove broods;
The sun and flying clouds have power
Upon her cheek and changing moods.
She cannot think she is alone,
As o’er her senses warmly steal
Floods of unrest she fears to own,
And almost dreads to feel.
Among the summer woodlands wide
Anew she roams, no more alone;
The joy she fear’d is at her side,
Spring’s blushing secret now is known.
The primrose and its mates have flown,
The thrush’s ringing note hath died;
But glancing eye and glowing tone
Fall on her from her god, her guide.
She knows not, asks not, what the goal,
She only feels she moves towards bliss,
And yields her pure unquestioning soul
To touch and fondling kiss.
And still she haunts those woodland ways,
Though all fond fancy finds there now
To mind of spring or summer days,
Are sodden trunk and songless bough.
The past sits widow’d on her brow,
Homeward she wends with wintry gaze,
To walls that house a hollow vow,
To hearth where love hath ceas’d to blaze:
Watches the clammy twilight wane,
With grief too fix’d for woe or tear;
And, with her forehead ’gainst the pane,
Envies the dying year.
In Sutton Woods
There-peace once more; the restless roar
Of troubled cities dies away.
``Welcome to our broad shade once more,''
The dear old woodlands seem to say.
The sweet suggestions of the wind,
That spake in whispers, now are stilled;
The songless branches all remind
That summer's glory is fulfilled.
The petulant plaint of falling leaves
Dimples the leaden pool awhile;
So Age, impassive, but receives
Youth's tale of troubles with a smile.
O fallen leaves! O feelings dead!
O dimpled pool! O scornful lips!
O hardening of the heart and head!-
The summer's and the soul's eclipse!
Thus, as the seasons slip away,
How much is schemed, how little done!
What splendid plans at break of day!
What void regrets at set of sun!
The world goes round, for you, for me,
For him who sits, for him who strives,
And the great Fates indifferent see
The rage or respite of our lives.
Then fall, ye leaves! die out, thou breeze!
Grow sedges thick on every pool!
Let each old rushing impulse freeze,
Let each old generous friendship cool.
It is not love, it is not worth,
Self-sacrifice, or yearnings true,
Make the dull devotees of earth
Prostrate themselves and worship you.
The savage consciousness of powers,
The selfish purpose, stubborn will,
Have ever, in this world of ours,
Achieved success-achieve it still.
Farewell, ye woods! no more I sit;
Great voices in the distance call:
If this be peace-enough of it.
I go. Fall, unseen foliage, fall!
To Arms! (Ii)
Now let the cry, ``To Arms! To Arms!''
Go ringing round the world;
And swift a wave-wide Empire swarms
Round Battleflag unfurled!
Wherever glitters Britain's might,
Or Britain's banner flies,
Leap up mailed myriads with the light
Of manhood in their eyes;
Calling from farmstead, mart, and strand,
``We come! And we! And we!
That British steel may hold the land,
And British keels the sea!''
From English hamlet, Irish hill,
Welsh hearths, and Scottish byres,
They throng to show that they are still
Sons worthy of their sires:
That what these did, we still can do,
That what they were, we are,
Whose fathers fought at Waterloo,
And died at Trafalgar!
Shoulder to shoulder see them stand,
Wherever menace be,
To guard the lordship of the land
And the Trident of the sea.
Nor in the parent Isle alone
Spring squadrons from the ground;
Canadian shore and Austral zone
With kindred cry resound:
``From shimmering plain and snow-fed stream,
Across the deep we come,
Seeing the British bayonets gleam,
Hearing the British drum.
Foot in the stirrup, hilt in hand,
Free men, to keep men free,
All, all will help to hold the land
While England guards the sea!''
Comrades in arms, from every shore
Where thundereth the main,
On to the front they press and pour
To face the rifles' rain;
To force the foe from covert crag,
And chase them till they fall,
Then plant for ever England's Flag
Upon the rebel wall!
What! Wrench the Sceptre from her hand,
And bid her bow the knee!
Not while her Yeomen guard the land,
And her ironclads the sea!
John Everett Millais
Now let no passing-bell be tolled,
Wail now no dirge of gloom;
Nor around purple pall unfold
The trappings of the tomb!
Dead? No, the Artist doth not die;
Enduring as the air, the sky,
He sees the mortal years roll by,
Indifferent to their doom.
With the abiding He abides,
Eternally the same;
From shore to shore Time's sounding tides
Roll and repeat His name.
Death, the kind pilot, from His home
But speeds Him unto widening foam,
Then leaves Him, sunk from sight, to roam
The ocean of his Fame.
Nor thus himself alone He lives,
But, by the magic known
To His ``so potent art,'' He gives
Life lasting as His own.
See, on the canvas, foiling Fate,
With kindling gaze and flashing gait,
Dead Statesmen still defend the State,
And vindicate the Throne.
Stayed by His hand, the loved, the lost,
Still keep their wonted place;
And, fondly fooled, our hearts accost
The vanished form and face.
Beauty, most frail of earthly shows,
That fades as fleetly as it blows,
By Him arrested, gleams and glows
With never-waning grace.
His, too, the wizard power to bring,
When city-pent we be,
The matron Autumn, maiden Spring,
Bracken and birchen-tree.
Look, 'twixt gray boulders fringed with fern,
The tawny torrents chafe and churn,
And, lined with light, the amber burn
Goes bounding to the sea.
Toll then for Him no funeral knell,
Nor around aisle and nave
Let sorrow's farewell anthem swell,
Nor solemn symbols wave.
Your very brightest banners bring,
Your gayest flowers! Sing, voices, sing!
And let Fame's lofty joybells ring
Their greeting at His grave!
At Her Grave
Lo, here among the rest you sleep,
As though no difference were
'Twixt them and you, more wide, more deep,
Than such as fondness loves to keep
Round each lone sepulchre.
Yet they but human, you divine,
Warmed by that heavenly breath,
Which, when ephemeral lights decline,
Like lamp before nocturnal shrine,
Still burneth after death.
Yes, here in Tuscan soil you lie,
With Tuscan turf above;
And, lifting silent spires on high,
The cypresses remind the sky
Of the city of your love.
And you did grow so like to her
Wherein you dwelt so long,
Your thoughts, like her May roses, were
Untrained, unchecked, but how astir,
And oh how sweet, with song!
The Poet of Olympian mien
His frenzy doth control,
And, gazing on the dread Unseen,
Keep mind majestic, will serene,
And adamantine soul.
He, save to Wisdom sternly true,
Is but the sport of Fate
And gladiatorial pain. But you!
A poet, and a woman too!
The burden was too great.
And so you laid it down, and here,
Oblivious of life's load,
Quiet you sleep through all the year,
Young Spring, staid Summer, Autumn sere,
And Winter's icy goad.
The swallows, freshly on the wing,
In April's sun rejoice;
The nightingales unceasing sing;
Yes, Spring brings back the birds of Spring,
But not, alas! your voice.
So round your sleep I soft let fall
Frail emblems of regret;
The lowly wind-flower, tulip tall,
The iris mantling wayside wall,
And weeping violet.
My votive flowers to-day will blow,
To-morrow be decayed;
But, though long sunk from sight, I know,
The glory of your afterglow
Will never wholly fade.
The Evening Light
Angels their silvery trumpets blow,
At dawn, to greet the Morning Glow,
And mortals lift adoring eyes
To see the glorious sun arise.
Then, winged by Faith, and spurred by Hope
Youth scans the hill, youth scales the slope.
Its pulses bound, its thoughts exult,
It finds no danger difficult,
Quickens its pace, disdaining ease
Victor before it comes and sees,
Feeling the Universe its own,
The Sovereign of a Self-made Throne.
Each hope fulfilled, obtained each prayer,
We glory in the Noonday Glare.
Welcome the blinding heat of strife,
Deeming resistance part of life.
We deal the blow, return the stroke,
Fighting our way through dust and smoke,
Until, our battle-banner furled,
We tower above a conquered World;
Whether one leads mankind along
By gift of speech or grace of song,
Seizes by forceful hand the helm,
Or adds an Empire to the Realm,
Confronts the sun with forehead bare,
Exulting in the Noonday Glare.
But, as the lengthening shadows glide
Silent towards the eventide,
And dew baptizes leaf and flower
In twilight's sanctuary hour,
A sacred Something haunts the air,
Tender as love, devout as prayer,
And in the lofty dome afar
Glimmers one bright outriding star,
Announcing to the watchful sight
Coming battalions of the Night.
Then Noonday Glare and Morning Glow
Fade into shadowy Long-ago.
One feels Earth's vain ambitions fade
Into the vanished dust they made.
All that the glow of dawn foretold,
And all the glare of noon unrolled,
Seem nothing to the quiet joy
No clamour mars, no cares destroy,
'Twixt restless day and restful night,
That cometh with the Evening Light.
A Night In June
Lady! in this night of June
Fair like thee and holy,
Art thou gazing at the moon
That is rising slowly?
I am gazing on her now:
Something tells me, so art thou.
Night hath been when thou and I
Side by side were sitting,
Watching o'er the moonlit sky
Fleecy cloudlets flitting.
Close our hands were linkèd then;
When will they be linked again?
What to me the starlight still,
Or the moonbeams' splendour,
If I do not feel the thrill
Of thy fingers slender?
Summer nights in vain are clear,
If thy footstep be not near.
Roses slumbering in their sheaths
O'er my threshold clamber,
And the honeysuckle wreathes
Its translucent amber
Round the gables of my home:
How is it thou dost not come?
If thou camest, rose on rose
From its sleep would waken;
From each flower and leaf that blows
Spices would be shaken;
Floating down from star and tree,
Dreamy perfumes welcome thee.
I would lead thee where the leaves
In the moon-rays glisten;
And, where shadows fall in sheaves,
We would lean and listen
For the song of that sweet bird
That in April nights is heard.
And when weary lids would close,
And thy head was drooping,
Then, like dew that steeps the rose,
O'er thy languor stooping,
I would, till I woke a sigh,
Kiss thy sweet lips silently.
I would give thee all I own,
All thou hast would borrow;
I from thee would keep alone
Fear and doubt and sorrow.
All of tender that is mine,
Should most tenderly be thine.
Moonlight! into other skies,
I beseech thee wander.
Cruel, thus to mock mine eyes,
Idle, thus to squander
Love's own light on this dark spot;-
For my lady cometh not!
Sweet lark! that, bedded in the tangled grass,
Protractest dewy slumbers, wake, arise!
The brightest moments of the morning pass-
Thou shouldst be up, and carolling in the skies.
Go up! go up! and melt into the blue,
And to heaven's veil on wings of song repair;
But, ere thou dost descend to earth, peep through,
And see if She be there.
Sweet stockdove! cooing in the flushing wood,
On one green bough brooding till morn hath died,
Oh, leave the perch where thou too long hast stood,
And with strong wings flutter the leaves aside!
Fly on, fly on, past feathery copse, nor stay
Till thou hast skimmed o'er all the woodlands fair!
And when thou hast, then speeding back thy way,
Tell me if She be there.
Sweet breeze! that, wearied with the heat of noon,
Upon a bank of daffodils didst die,
Oh, if thou lov'st me, quit thy perfumed swoon,
And, all refreshed, hither and thither hie.
Traverse the glades where browse the dappled deer,
Thrid the deep dells where none but thou mayst dare;
And then, sweet breeze, returning, to my ear
Whisper if She be there.
Sweet rivulet! running far too fast to stay,
Yet hear my plaint, e'en as thou rollest on!
I am alone-alone-both night and day,
For she I love was with me, and is gone.
Oh, shouldst thou find her on the golden beach
Whither thou speedest ocean's joys to share,
Remount thy course, despite what sophists teach,
And tell me She is there.
Not there! Nor there! Not in the far-off sky,
Close-keeping woods, or by the shining sea!
When lark, dove, breeze, and rivulet vainly try
To find my sweet-oh, where then may she be?
Hath she then left me-me she vowed so dear,
And she whose shadow dusks all other charms?
O foolish messengers! Look, look! She's here,
Enfolded in my arms!
The Lover’s Song
When Winter hoar no longer holds
The young year in his gripe,
And bleating voices fill the folds,
And blackbirds pair and pipe;
Then coax the maiden where the sap
Awakes the woodlands drear,
And pour sweet wildflowers in her lap,
And sweet words in her ear.
For Springtime is the season, sure,
Since Love's game first was played,
When tender thoughts begin to lure
The heart of April maid,
The heart of April maid.
When June is wreathed with wilding rose,
And all the buds are blown,
And O, 'tis joy to dream and doze
In meadows newly mown;
Then take her where the graylings leap,
And where the dabchick dives,
Or where the bees in clover reap
The harvest for their hives.
For Summer is the season when,
If you but know the way,
A maid that's kissed will kiss again,
Then pelt you with the hay,
Then pelt you with the hay.
When sickles ply among the wheat,
Then trundle home the sheaves,
And there's a rustling of the feet
Through early-fallen leaves;
Entice her where the orchard glows
With apples plump and tart,
And tell her plain the thing she knows,
And ask her for her heart.
For Autumn is the season, boy,
To gather what we sow:
If you be bold, she won't be coy,
Nor ever say you no,
Nor ever say you no.
When woodmen clear the coppice lands,
And arch the hornbeam drive,
And stamp their feet, and chafe their hands,
To keep their blood alive;
Then lead her where, when vows are heard,
The church-bells peal and swing,
And, as the parson speaks the word,
Then on her clap the ring.
For Winter is a cheerless time
To live and lie alone;
But what to him is snow or rime,
Who calls his love his own,
Who calls his love his own?
A March Minstrel
Hail! once again, that sweet strong note!
Loud on my loftiest larch,
Thou quaverest with thy mottled throat,
Brave minstrel of bleak March!
Hearing thee flute, who pines or grieves
For vernal smiles and showers?
Thy voice is greener than the leaves,
And fresher than the flowers.
Scorning to wait for tuneful May
When every throat can sing,
Thou floutest Winter with thy lay,
And art thyself the Spring.
While daffodils, half mournful still,
Muffle their golden bells,
Thy silvery peal o'er landscape chill
Surges, and sinks, and swells.
Across the unsheltered pasture floats
The young lamb's shivering bleat:
There is no trembling in thy notes,
For all the snow and sleet.
Let the bullace bide till frosts have ceased,
The blackthorn loiter long;
Undaunted by the blustering east,
Thou burgeonest into song.
Yet who can wonder thou dost dare
Confront what others flee?
Thy carol cuts the keen March air
Keener than it cuts Thee.
The selfish cuckoo tarrieth till
April repays his boast.
Thou, thou art lavish of thy trill,
Now when we need it most.
The nightingale, while birds are coy,
Delays to chant its grief.
Brave throstle! thou dost pipe for joy
With never a bough in leaf.
Even fond turtle-doves forbear
To coo till woods are warm:
Thou hast the heart to love and pair
Ere the cherry blossoms swarm.
The skylark, fluttering to be heard
In realms beyond his birth,
Soars vainly heavenward. Thou, wise bird!
Art satisfied with earth.
Thy home is not upon the ground,
Thy hope not in the sky:
Near to thy nest thy notes resound,
Neither too low nor high.
Blow what wind will, thou dost rejoice
To carol, and build, and woo.
Throstle! to me impart thy voice;
Impart thy wisdom too.
Where Apennine slopes unto Tuscan plain,
And breaks into dimples, and laughs to flowers,
To see where the terrors of Winter wane,
And out of a valley of grape and grain
There blossoms a City of domes and towers,
Teuton, Lombard, and grasping Gaul,
Prince and Pontiff, have forced their way,
Have forded the river, and scaled the wall,
And made in its palaces stye and stall,
Where spears might glisten and war-steeds neigh.
But ever since Florence was fair and young,
And the sun upon turret and belfry shone,
Were her windows bannered and joy-bells rung,
When back to his saddle the Stranger sprung,
And lances were lifted and pikemen gone.
Yes, ever and ever till you, my Queen,
Came over the sea that is all your own,
When the tear on the tip of the vine is seen,
And the fig-tree cressets have flamed to green,
And windflower wakened, and tulip blown.
Then roses were showered before your feet,
And her lily-crowned gonfalons waved above,
And children chanted in square and street,
`All hail to the Monarch may free men greet,
Whose sceptre is Peace, and whose Throne is Love.'
And now that each snow-torrent foams and falls,
And the oreoles sing and the skylarks soar,
And the lithe swallow circles her rose-white walls,
Through the clefts of the Apennine Florence calls,
`More welcome than Spring, come back once more!
`Come back, for the cuckoo is on its way,
And the mountains, smiling, await your smile;
And still in my olive-groves bask and stray,
Till the warm-winged waters and winds of May
Shall waft you back to your own loved Isle.'
`The sickle hath performed its work
`The sickle hath performed its work,
The storm-gusts sweep the aspens bare,
Careering clouds and shadows mirk
Cow the disheartened air.
`No swallow circles round the roof,
No chirp redeems the dripping shed;
The very gables frown reproof,
``Why not already fled?'''
A Royal Home-Coming
Welcome, right welcome home, to these blest Isles,
Where, unforgotten, loved Victoria sleeps,
But now with happy pride your Father smiles,
Your Mother weeps.
You went as came the swallow, homeward draw
Now it hath winged its way to winters green;
But never swallow or wandering sea-bird saw
What You have seen.
For You have circled the earth with pinions fleet,
The seasons through, and everywhere a throng
Of glowing hearts your coming trooped to greet
With flowers and song.
Over the unchanging sea eight changeful moons
Have moved from shield to sickle, seed to sheaves,
And twice a hundred dawns, a hundred noons,
A hundred eves,
Waned to their slumber in the star-lit night,
And ever from land or lake, from wave or crag,
From fixed or floating fort, You had in sight
The British Flag.
And wider, further, onward round the world,
Scouring the field or furrowing the sea,
You found that Emblem, which, where'er unfurled,
Floats o'er the Free:
So that on man, and man's laborious hand,
Nor manacle nor hindrance shall be laid,
But mind with mind, and strand with generous strand,
Contend and trade.
And, though the shade of treasonable strife
Falls on our homes and theirs, You, wandering, saw,
Young Commonwealths You found, surging with life,
Yet ruled by Law:
Whose blood, infused in ours in War's emprise,
To vindicate one Sceptre, sword, and tongue,-
As ours perchance may help to keep them wise,-
Hath made us young.
Fountain of Youth England in mellower years
Hath found and drained, so that She ne'er need know
What Nature feels when Autumn stacks and seres,
Or Yule-gusts blow.
You sailed from us to them, from them to us,
Love at the prow and wisdom at the helm,
August Ambassadors, who strengthen thus
Her Rule and Realm.
Round You to-day a People stand arrayed,
That fain with Peace two wedded worlds would dower,
Therefore rejoicing mightier hath been made
The love within my heart that dwells
Knows nought of days or hours;
I hear thee in the Christmas bells,
I feel thee in the vernal showers;
And thy breath is blent with the wandering scent
Of the summer fruits and flowers.
And yet this morn my blood is stirred
With more than wonted glow;
Thy absent voice is strangely heard,
Thy spells upon me stronger grow;
And my spirit sips from unseen lips
That can be but thine, I know.
For thou wast born upon this day,
When I was but a child,
Ere winter frosts were ta'en away,
Ere primroses peeped out and smiled;
Ere the snows were reft from the sheltering cleft,
And the winds were high and wild.
Thus early unto me wast thou
An earnest of the spring;
Of happy birds upon the bough,
And sweet trees blossoming;
Of all that is fair upon earth, in air,
And the streams that bound and sing.
I wonder what the world was like
Before thou didst appear-
Did young lambs skip o'er mound and dyke?
Did throstles warble loud and clear?
And were sea and sky as deep and high
As they are now thou art here?
It were a dreary world indeed
To me, wert thou away;
The night no tumults sweet would breed,
No tranquil dalliance the day;
And though earth should fling all that Fame can bring
At my feet, I would not stay.
So, though sore-severed still we be,
Here, helpful one, remain!
Through travels long a bourne to me,
A crowning joy 'mid crushing pain;
An abiding star when the storm-waves jar,
And a rainbow 'mid the rain.
And fear not, sweet, but love like ours
Will keep us ever young:
No prey to the corroding hours,
No feast for the malignant tongue,
But as firm and fond in the years beyond
As when first we clasped and clung.
Age cannot touch such charms as thine;
My heart defies the sun:
Both shall but glow yet more divine,
His course more oft as he may run:
Till we spurn the earth for that second birth,
When we twain shall be only one.
A Country Nosegay
Where have you been through the long sweet hours
That follow the fragrant feet of June?
By the dells and the dingles gathering flowers,
Ere the dew of the dawn be sipped by noon.
And sooth each wilding that buds and blows
You seem to have found and clustered here,
Round the rustic sprays of the child-like rose
That smiles in one's face till it stirs a tear.
The clambering vetch, and the meadow-sweet tall,
That nodded good-day as you sauntered past,
And the poppy flaunting atop of the wall,
Which, proud as glory, will fade as fast.
The campion bladders the children burst,
The bramble that clutches and won't take nay,
And the pensive delicate foxgloves nursed
In woods that curtain from glare of day.
The prosperous elder that always smells
Of homely joys and the cares that bless,
And the woodbine's waxen and honeyed cells,
A hive of the sweetest idleness.
And this wayside nosegay is all for me,
For me, the poet-the word sounds strong;-
Well, for him at least, whatever he be,
Who has loitered his morning away in song.
And though sweetest poems that ever were writ,
With the posy that up to my gaze you lift,
Seem void of music and poor of wit,
Yet I guess your meaning, and take your gift.
For 'tis true among fields and woods I sing,
Aloof from cities, and my poor strains
Were born, like the simple flowers you bring,
In English meadows and English lanes.
If e'er in my verse lurks tender thought,
'Tis borrowed from cushat or blackbird's throat;
If sweetness any, 'tis culled or caught
From boughs that blossom and clouds that float.
No rare exotics nor forced are these;
They budded in darkness and throve in storm;
They drank their colour from rain and breeze,
And from sun and season they took their form.
They peeped through the drift of the winter snows;
They waxed and waned with the waning moon;
Their music they stole from the deep-hushed rose,
And all the year round to them is June.
So let us exchange, nor ask who gains,
What each has saved from the morning hours:
Take, such as they are, my wilding strains,
And I will accept your wilding flowers.
What! And it was so! Thou wert then
Death-stricken from behind,
O heart of hearts! and they were men,
That rent thee from mankind!
Greedy hatred chasing love,
As a hawk pursues a dove,
Till the soft feathers float upon the careless wind.
Loathed life! that I might break the chain
Which links my kind with me,
To think that human hands for gain
Should have been turned 'gainst thee,-
Thee that wouldst have given thine all
For the poor, the sick, the thrall,
And weighed thyself as dross, 'gainst their felicity!
We deemed that Nature, jealous grown,
Withdrew the glimpse she gave,
In thy bright genius, of her own,
And, not to slay, but save,
That she timely took back thus
What had been but lent to us,
Shrouding thee in her winds, and lulling 'neath her wave.
For it seemed meet thou shouldst not long
Toss on life's fitful billow,
Nor sleep 'mid mounds of silenced wrong
Under the clay-cold willow:
Rather that thou shouldst recline
Amid waters crystalline,
The sea-shells at thy feet, and sea-weed for thy pillow.
We felt we had no right to keep
What never had been ours;
That thou belongedst to the deep,
And the uncounted hours;
That thou earthly no more wert
Than the rainbow's melting skirt,
The sunset's fading bloom, and midnight's shooting showers.
And, thus resigned, our empty hands
Surrendered thee to thine,
Thinking thee drawn by kindred bands
Under the swirling brine,
Playing there on new-strung shell,
Tuned to Ocean's mystic swell,
Thy lyrical complaints and rhapsodies divine.
But now to hear no sea-nymph fair
Submerged thee with her smile,
And tempests were content to spare
Thee to us yet awhile,
But for ghouls in human mould
Ravaging the seas for gold,-
Oh! this blots out the heavens, and makes mere living vile!
Yet thy brief life presaged such death,
And it was meet that they
Who poisoned, should have quenched, thy breath,
Who slandered thee, should slay;
That thy spirit, long the mark
Of the dagger drawn in dark,
Should by the ruffian's stroke be ravished from the day.
Hush! From the grave where I so oft
Have stood, 'mid ruined Rome,
I seem to hear a whisper soft
Wafted across the foam;
Bidding justest wrath be still,
Good feel lovingly for ill,
As exiles for rough paths that help them to their home.
The Challenge Answered
So at length the word is uttered which the vain Gaul long hath muttered
'Twixt his teeth, by envy fluttered at another land being great;
And the dogs of war are loosèd, and the carnagestream unsluicèd,
That the might of France abusèd may torment the world like Fate.
O thou nation, base, besotted, whose ambition cannons shotted,
And huge mounds of corpses clotted with cold gore alone can sate!
May the God of Battles shiver every arrow in thy quiver,
And the nobly-flowing river thou dost covet drown thy hate!
For 'tis writ on towering steeple, if ye sow ill ye shall reap ill;
And a stern offended people swarm from city, hill, and plain,
And with lips ne'er known to palter, swear by king and hearth and altar,
Not to sheath the sword or falter till they flash it by the Seine!
See! they come in dazzling masses from soft vales and frowning passes,
Dense with blades as now the grass is that the summer sun doth shine,
And proclaim with voice of thunder that French hordes athirst for plunder
Not one single rood shall sunder from their Fatherland and Rhine.
Swabian, Saxon, Frank, and Hessian, lo! they muster, form, and press on,
Pledged to teach the Gaul the lesson he ne'er learns but through the sword,
That the gay light-hearted glitter of the wicked, wanton hitter
May be turned to wormwood bitter by the judgment of the Lord.
To their maids no longer fickle, down whose cheeks the fond tears trickle,
Leaving pruning-hook and sickle, yellow corn and purple grape,
Do they vow, as long as shielded behind swords by Germans wielded,
That their soil shall ne'er be yielded to the tiger and the ape.
On, then! on, ye souls undaunted! let the flag of Right be flaunted,
And your late-roused wrath be haunted by the outrages of old,
When for empty Gallic glory were your hearths made black and gory,
And the lone sire's head turned hoary by the slaughter of his fold.
Nor with glorious defending to your ire be there an ending,
But, still onwards ever wending, let your legions never halt,
Till ye show to braggart Paris what at hand the edge of war is,
How it desolates and harries, and then strew its streets with salt.
For its lips are seared with lying, and its crimes to God are crying,
And the Earth oppressed is sighing: Oh how long shall these things be?
And a shout of exultation will go up from every nation,
As your sword, the World's salvation, smites the insulter to his knee.
How Florence Rings Her Bells
With shimmer of steel and blare of brass,
And Switzers marching with martial stride,
And cavaliers trampling brown the grass,
Came bow-legged Charles through the Apennine pass,
With black Il Moro for traitor guide;
And, passing by Pisa's ransomed towers,
He swept up stream over Arno's plain,
Where Florence garlands herself with flowers
From burgeoning vineyards and olive bowers,
And emerald furrows of sprouting grain;
And, flying and flaunting his pennons proud,
Crossed her bridges with naked sword,
And sware he would flourish his trumpets loud
And bristle his spears, save her beauty bowed
Itself to his stirrup, and owned him lord.
Then Savonarola's voice was heard
Swelling as Arno, storm-flushed, sweels,
And, with threat for threat, and with gird for gird,
Capponi flashed back the famous word,
``Then blow your trumpets, we'll ring our bells!''
And lo! as he spake, into street and square
Streamed Florentine burghers in grim array:
Then Charles, and Sforza, and groom Beaucaire,
Scared by the city they deemed but fair,
Shouldered their pikes, and passed away.
But now a Monarch more mighty far
Than ever from Gallic or Teuton throne
Swooped from the Alps upon wings of war,
Comes welcome as April and west winds are,
When Winter is over and mistral flown.
The Fair City peacefully rings her bells,
Rings her bells, and the loving peal
In the lazuline ether ascends and swells,
Till hoary turrets and convent cells
Feel young once more as the young buds feel.
And iris gonfalons scale her walls,
And rustic roses storm square and street;
In sound of her gates the cuckoo calls,
And the slow-swaying ox-wain creaks and crawls
'Twixt blossoming bean and beardless wheat.
In gabled pathway and shaded porch
Men gather and wait to acclaim ``The Queen'';
While over the wall, where the sunrays scorch
And the lizard is lost, the silvery torch
Of the fig is tipped with a flame of green.
And cypress spire and stonepine dome,
And circling mountain look on and smile,
Saying, ``Hitherward evermore seek your home,
When you traverse the furrows of fallow foam
That nourish with glory your Northern Isle,
And from weightier cares than a Caesar's brain
Pondered of old, would crave release;
Wise Ruler whose long victorious Reign
Imposes on love-loyal land and main
The fetters of proud Imperial Peace.''
A Poet’s Eightieth Birthday
``He dieth young whom the Gods love,'' was said
By Greek Menander; nor alone by One
Who gave to Greece his English song and sword
Re-echoed is the saying, but likewise he
``Who uttered nothing base,'' and from whose brow,
By right divine, the laurel lapsed to yours,-
Great sire, great successor,-in verse confirmed
The avowal of ``the Morning-Star of Song,''
Happiest is he that dieth in his flower.
Yet can it be that it is gain, not loss,
To quit the pageant of this life before
The heart hath learnt its meaning; leave half-seen,
Half-seen, half-felt, and not yet understood,
The beauty and the bounty of the world;
The fertile waywardness of wanton Spring,
Summer's deep calm, the modulated joy
Of Autumn conscious of a task fulfilled,
And home-abiding Winter's pregnant sleep,
The secret of the seasons? Gain, to leave
The depths of love unfathomed, its heights unscaled,
Rapture and woe unreconciled, and pain
Unprized, unapprehended? This is loss,
Loss and not gain, sheer forfeiture of good,
Is banishment from Eden, though its fruit
Interpret then the oracle, ``He dies young
Whom the Gods love,'' for Song infallible
Hath so pronounced! . . . Thus I interpret it:
The favourites of the Gods die young, for they,
They grow not old with grief and deadening time,
But still keep April moisture in their heart
May's music in their ears. Their voice revives,
Revives, rejuvenates, the wintry world,
Flushes the veins of gnarled and knotted age,
And crowns the majesty of life with leaves
As green as are the sapling's.
Thrice happy Poet! to have thus renewed
Your youth with wisdom,-who, though life still seems
To your fresh gaze as frolic and as fair
As in the callow season when your heart
Was but the haunt and pairing-place and nest
Of nightingale and cuckoo, have enriched
Joy's inexperienced warblings with the note
Of mellow music, and whose mind mature,
Laden with life's sustaining lessons, still
Gleams bright with hope; even as I saw, to-day,
An April rainbow span the August corn.
Long may your green maturity maintain
Its universal season; and your voice,
A household sound, be heard about our hearths,
Now as a Christmas carol, now as the glee
Of vernal Maypole, now as harvest song.
And when, like light withdrawn from earth to heaven,
Your glorious gloaming fades into the sky,
We, looking upward, shall behold you there,
Shining amid the young unageing stars.
The Poet And The Muse
Whither, and whence, and why hast fled?
Thou art dumb, my muse; thou art dumb, thou art dead,
As a waterless stream, as a leafless tree.
What have I done to banish thee?
But a moon ago, the whole day long
My ears were full of the sound of song;
And still through my darkly silent dreams
Plashed the fitful music of far-off streams.
When the night turned pale and the stars grew dim,
The morning chanted a dewy hymn.
The fragrant languor of cradled noon
Was lulled by the hum of a self-sung tune.
Joy came on the wings of a jocund lay,
And sorrow in harmony passed away;
And the sunny hours of tideless time
Were buoyed on the surges of rolling rhyme.
The moon went up in a cloudless sky,
Silently but melodiously;
And the glitter of stars and the patter of rain
Were notes and chords of an endless strain.
And vision, and feeling, and sound, and scent,
Were the strings of a sensitive instrument,
That silently, patiently, watched and waited,
And unto my soul reverberated.
In the orchard reddens the rounded fruit
'Mid the yellowing leaves, but my voice is mute.
The thinned copse sighs like a heart forsaken,
But not one chord of my soul is shaken.
Through the gloaming broadens the harvest moon;
The fagged hind whistles his homeward tune;
The last load creaks up the hamlet hill;
'Tis only my voice, my voice that is still.
(The Muse answers)
Poet, look in your poet's heart.
It will tell you what keepeth us twain apart.
I have not left you; I still am near.
But a music not mine enchants your ear.
Another hath entered and nestles deep
In the lap of your love, like a babe asleep.
You watch her breathing from morn till night;
She is all your hearing and all your sight.
Yet fear not, poet, to do me wrong.
She is sweeter far than the sweetest song.
One looks and listens the way she went,
As towards lark that is lost in the firmament.
So gladly to her I you resign,
Her caress is tenderer much than mine;
I hover round you, and hear her kiss
With wonder at its melodiousness.
When you gaze on the moon, you see but her.
You hear her feet when the branches stir;
And sunrise and sunset and starlight only
Make their beauty, without her, feel more lonely.
So how should you, poet, hope to sing?
The lute of Love hath a single string.
Its note is sweet as the coo of the dove;
But 'tis only one note, and the note is Love.
But when once you have paired and built your nest,
And can brood therein with a settled breast,
You will sing once more, and your voice will stir
All hearts with the sweetness gained from her.
Another Spring Carol
Now Winter hath drifted
To bygone years,
And the sod is uplifted
By crocus spears;
And out of the hive the bee wings humming,
And we know that the Spring, the Spring, is coming.
For the snow hath melted
From sunless cleft,
And the clouds that pelted
Slant sleet have left
The sky as blue as a child's gaze after
Its tears have vanished and veered to laughter.
See! light is gleaming
In primrose brakes,
And out of its dreaming
The speedwell wakes,
And the tender tips of the timid clover
Peep forth to see if the frost be over.
The celandine gazes
Straight at the sun;
The starlike daisies
Peer one by one;
And, over the pool where the sallow glistens,
The daffodil hangs its head and listens.
At first but single,
And then in flocks,
In dell and dingle
Make mist for the golden cowslip tapers
To shine like sunrise through morning vapours.
In fat-ribbed fallows
The lapwings nest,
And the home-coming swallows
Seek out where best
They may build, with a love that is sure and stable,
Their cosy cribs under last year's gable.
The blackcaps treble
A strain as sweet
As stream o'er pebble,
Or wind through wheat,
While, like flickering light, the kinglet hovers
Round woodbined haven of hiding lovers.
The lark chants, soaring
From moist brown heath,
'Twixt Heaven's high flooring
And earth beneath,
Like a true wise poet, in wavering weather,
A carol to link the twain together.
The cuckoo, flaunting
O'er glen and glade,
Flies loudly vaunting
New loves betrayed,
Till we all of us echo the madcap saying,
And laugh, and joyously wend a'maying.
Then in mask and tabard
The mummer trips,
And out of its scabbard
The iris slips,
And calls to the lily and rose, ``Why tarry,
Now the nightingale under the silence starry,
``Keeps trilling, trilling,
Its nest above,
The descant thrilling
Of straining love,
That yearneth for more-more-more,-till gladness,
Still winged with wanting, seems one with sadness.''
But once the roses
And lilies blow,
Our wilding posies
Follow the snow,
And, turning to greet the fair new comer,
We find the face of the fearless Summer.
But though sultry shimmer
And panting heat
Lure senses dimmer
To deem them sweet,
Who would not exchange their passionate thunder
For May's moist blushes of maiden wonder?
But Winter hath drifted
To bygone years,
And the sod is uplifted
By crocus spears;
And out of the hive the bee wings humming,
And we know that the Spring is coming, coming!
All the seasons of the year,
I have flowers for you, dear.
When the ploughland's flecked with snow,
And the blue-eyed scyllas blow,
Gazing, through the wintry gale,
Like your eyes when you are pale;
When in many a cloistered walk
Droop upon their modest stalk
Vestal snowdrops, one by one,
White as is a wimpled nun;
When, as sleet away doth slip,
And the thawing gables drip,
The precocious crocus peers,-
Childlike, sunshine half, half tears,-
And from out the snug warm leaves
Silent housewife Winter weaves,
Scarlet windflowers, wide unfurled,
Dazzle an awakened world;
These and more to you I bring,
Bold outriders of the Spring.
When along the Northern skies
Routed Winter shrieks and flies,
And again the mavis shrills,
Come the dauntless daffodils,
Laughing, as they sway and swing,
At rude March's blustering.
These I gather, and with these
Like the coral-shells you wear
Sometimes in your hazel hair;
Primroses loved none the less
For their wilding lavishness;
Honeysuckle, like to you,
To what's near it clinging true;
Violets, surprised in shade,
By their own sweet breath betrayed;
Lagging hawthorn prized the more
That it long was waited for;
These unto your bower I bring,
Gifts of Summer lent to Spring.
Which are loveliest, lilies dight
In their stateliness of white,
Safe against a touch too rude
By their cold proud maidenhood,
Or the unreservëd rose,
Careless where it gads or goes,
So it be allowed to cling,
Rioting and revelling?
Rose and lily both I cull,
Iris scarce less beautiful,
Mignonette more sweet than myrrh,
Pinks and pansies, golden whin,
Bunches of the maiden's-bower,
Tufts of gaudy gillyflower,
Sprays of softening maidenhair;
With my posy mount your stair
To the chamber where you sit,
Tenderly awaiting it.
Then, when gorgeous Summer wanes,
Autumn woods and Winter lanes
Do I haunt, that I may dress
With their lingering loveliness
Nook and ingle where you be
Busy with your housewifery:
Ripened reedmace' barren sheaves,
Hardy hornbeam's russet leaves,
Jewels from the spindle-tree,
Crimson haws and purple sloes,
Rubies that were once the rose,
Holly-berries warm in snow,
Everything the waning year
Spares, that I may bring you, dear.
But should frost and rifling wind
Leave not even these behind,
And from out the leafless blast
I must come to you at last
Empty-handed, you would be
More than all the flowers to me.
The lights of Mesolongi gleam
Before me, now the day is gone;
And vague as leaf on drifting stream,
My keel glides on.
No mellow moon, no stars arise;
In other lands they shine and roam:
All I discern are darkening skies
And whitening foam.
So on those lights I gaze that seem
Ghosts of the beacons of my youth,
Ere, rescued from their treacherous gleam,
I steered towards truth.
And you, too, Byron, did awake,
And ransomed from the cheating breath
Of living adulation, stake
Greatness on death!
Alas! the choice was made too late.
You treated Fame as one that begs,
And, having drained the joys that sate,
Offered the dregs.
The lees of life you scornful brought,
Scornful she poured upon the ground:
The honoured doom in shame you sought,
You never found.
``The Spartan borne upon his shield''
Is not the meed of jaded lust;
And, ere your feet could reach the field,
Death claimed your dust.
Upon the pillow, not the rock,
Like meaner things you ebbed away,
Yearning in vain for instant shock
Of mortal fray.
The futile prayer, the feeble tear,
All that deforms the face of death,
You had to bear, whilst in your ear
Hummed battle's breath.
You begged the vulture, not the worm,
Might feed upon your empty corse.
In vain! Just Nemesis was firm
'Gainst late remorse.
Too much you asked, too little gave,
The crown without the cross of strife.
What is it earns a soldier's grave?
A soldier's life.
Think not I come to taunt the dead.
My earliest master still is dear;
And what few tears I have to shed,
Are gathering here.
Behind me lies Ulysses' isle,
The wanderer wise who pined for home.
But Byron! Neither tear nor smile
Forbade you roam.
Yours was that bitterest mortal fate,
No choice save thirst or swinish trough:
Love's self but offered sensuous bait,
Or virtuous scoff.
Yet was it well to wince, and cry
For anguish, and at wrong to gird?
Best,-like your gladiator, die
Without a word!
There be, who in that fault rejoice,
Since sobs survive as sweetest lays,
And yours remains the strongest voice
Of later days.
For me, I think of you as One
Who vaguely pined for worthier lot
Than to be blinked at like the sun,
But found it not.
Who blindly fought his way from birth,
Nor learned, till 'twas too late to heed,
Not all the noblest songs are worth
One noble deed:
Who, with the doom of glory cursed,
Still played the athlete's hollow part,
And 'neath his bay-green temples nursed
A withered heart.
On, silent keel, through silent sea.
I will not land where He, alas!
Just missed Fame's crown. Enough for me
To gaze, and pass.
A Snow-White Lily
There was a snow-white lily
Grew by a cottage door:
Such a white and wonderful lily
Never was seen before.
The earth and the ether brought it
Sustenance, raiment, grace,
And the feet of the west wind sought it,
And smiled in its smiling face.
Tall were its leaves and slender,
Slender and tall its stem;
Purity, all its splendour,
Beauty, its diadem.
Still from the ground it sprouted,
Statelier year by year,
Till loveliness clung about it,
And was its atmosphere.
And the fame of this lily was bruited
'Mong men ever more and more;
They came, and they saw, and uprooted
Its life from the cottage door.
For they said, ``'Twere shame, 'twere pity,
It here should dwell half despised.
We must carry it off to the city,
Where lilies are loved and prized.''
The city was moved to wonder,
And burst into praise and song,
And the multitude parted asunder
To gaze on it borne along.
Along and aloft 'twas uplifted,
From palace to palace led;
Men vowed 'twas the lily most gifted
Of lilies living or dead.
And wisdom, and wealth, and power,
Bowed down to it more and more:-
Yet it never was quite the same flower
That bloomed by the cottage door.
For no longer the night-dews wrought it
Raiment, and food, and grace;
Nor the feet of the west wind sought it,
To dance in its dimpling face.
'Twas pursued by the frivolous rabble,
With poisonous lips and eyes;
They drenched it with prurient babble,
And fed it with fulsome lies.
Thus into the lily there entered
The taint of the tainted crew,
Till itself in itself grew centred,
And it flattery drank like dew.
Then tongues began words to bandy
As to whose might the lily be.
``'Tis mine,'' said the titled dandy;
Said the plutocrat, ``'tis for me.''
Thus over the lily they wrangled,
Making the beautiful base,
Till its purity seemed all mangled,
And its gracefulness half disgrace.
Next they who had first enthroned it,
And blatantly hymned its fame,
Now, curdling their smiles, disowned it,
And secretly schemed its shame.
The lily began to wither,
Since the world was no longer sweet;
And hands that had brought it thither,
Flung it into the street.
A sensitive soul and tender
The flung-away lily found:
He had seen it in hours of splendour,
So he lifted it from the ground.
He carried it back to the garden
Where in olden days it grew,
And he knelt, and prayed for it pardon
From the sun, and the breeze, and the dew.
Then the breeze, since it knows no malice,
And the sun that detesteth strife,
And the dew whose abode is the chalice,
Would have coaxed back the lily to life.
But the lily would not waken,
Nor ever will waken more;
And feet and fame have forsaken
Its place by the cottage door.
Wordsworth At Dove Cottage
Wise Wordsworth, to avert your ken,
From half of human fate.
What is there in the ways of men,
Their struggles, or their state,
To make the calm recluse forswear
The garden path, the fire-side chair,
To journey with the Great?
The narrowest hamlet lends the heart
A realm as rich and wide
As kingdoms do, to play its part;
Who reaps not, that hath tried,
More rapture from the wayside flower
Than all the stairs and robes of power
And avenues of pride?
Whether we scan it from below,
Or bask in it above,
We weary of life's glittering show;
We tire of all save Love.
As, when fatigued with wood-notes shrill,
We listen with contentment still
To cooings of the dove.
In this low cottage nested near
Mountain and lake, you dwelt;
'Twas here you tilled the ground, 'twas here
You loved, and wrote, and knelt.
Hence, wheresoe'er your kindred dwell,
Your songs sincere our hearts compel
To feel the thing you felt.
Glory there is that lives entombed
In spacious-soaring shrine;
A tenement more narrow-roomed
Sufficient is for thine.
A homely temple haply found
Where peasants toil and streamlets sound,
Adorned not, but divine.
Your sacred music still is heard,
When notes profane have died;
Like some familiar home-bred word,
You in our lives abide.
And when with trackless feet we rove
By meadow, mountain, mere, or grove,
We feel you at our side.
Thrice-happy bard! who found at home
All joys that needful be;
Whose longings were not forced to roam
Beyond your household Three:-
Your own proud genius, steadfast, calm,
A wife whose faith was household balm,
And heavenly Dorothy.
What is it sweetens tasteless Fame?
Makes shadowy Glory bliss?
What is the guerdon poets claim?
What should it be but this?-
A heart attuned to understand,
A listening ear, a loving hand,
A smile, a tear, a kiss!
Leave them but these, and let who will
Crave plaudits from the crowd,
Its vapid incense, aves shrill,
And favour of the proud.
The sweetest minister of Fame
Is she who broods upon one's name,
But calls it not aloud.
And this at least, in full, you had,
From sister, and from wife:
They made your gravest moments glad,
They havened you from strife;
Hallowed your verse, revered your tread,
Maintained a nimbus round your head,
And deified your life.
Hence, long as gentle brows shall bend
Over your rustic page,
Their pious love shall still befriend
The poet and the sage;
For, when we cross your cottage sill,
Virtue, no less than Genius, will
Invite the Pilgrimage.
The tallest tower that ever rose
Hath but a span to soar;
Palace and fane are passing shows,
But Time will be no more,
When Wordsworth's home no longer leads
Men's far-off feet to Grasmere's meads,
And sanctifies its shore.