Not Now, When Skies Are Gold And Blue
And you have me and I have you,
When there are roses all the way,
And April days and nights of May,
And life is joy the whole day long--
Not now can passion flower in song.
But in the dark days by-and-by,
When, deep divided, you and I,
Shivering among the rose-thorns bare,
At last confess what fools we were;
Then, neatly wired, a nosegay fine
Shall deck your heart--O heart of mine!
BROWN leaves forget the green of May,
The earth forgets the kiss of Spring;
And down our happy woodland way
Gray mists go wandering.
You have forgotten too, they say;
Yet, does no stealthy memory creep
Among the mist wreaths, ghostly gray,
Where spell-bound violets sleep?
Ah, send your thought sometimes to stray
By paths that knew our lingering feet.
My thought walks there this many a day,
And they, at least, may meet.
LIKE crimson lamps the tulips swing,
The lily flowers their incense bring,
The daisies votive garlands fling
Before the altar of the Spring.
And you and I in this green May,
When thrushes sing, and white lambs play,
Go glad at heart--so glad and gay,
No word seems good enough to say.
Yet there's a charm, it would appear,
Which, if I spoke it in your ear,
Would fix the spring for ever here;
Pass on--I will not speak it, dear.
Spring In War-Time
Now the sprinkled blackthorn snow
Lies along the lover’s lane
Where last year we used to go-
Where we shall not go again.
In the hedge the buds are new,
By our wood the violets peer-
Just like last year’s violets too,
But they have no scent this year.
Every bird has heart to sing
Of its nest, warmed by its breast;
We had heart to sing last spring,
But we never built our nest.
Presently red roses blown
Will make all the garden gay..
Not yet have the daisies grown
On your clay.
WIDE downs all gray, with gray of clouds roofed over,
Chill fields stripped naked of their gown of grain,
Small fields of rain-wet grass and close-grown clover,
Wet, wind-blown trees--and, over all, the rain.
Does memory lie? For Hope her missal closes
So far away the may and roses seem;
Ah! was there ever a garden red with roses?
Ah! were you ever mine save in a dream?
So long it is since Spring, the skylark waking
Heard her own praises in his perfect strain;
Low hang the clouds, the sad year's heart is breaking,
And mine, my heart--and, over all, the rain.
A MONTH of green and tender May,
All woods and walks awake with flowers,
Wide sunlit meadows for the day,
And moon-bathed paths for evening hours;
A bright brief dream that had no past,
And of the future knew no fear;
A kiss at first, a sigh at last--
Only last year.
Another spring, dim soulless woods;
No farewell kiss, no parting tear;
No stone to mark where silence broods
O'er the dead love we found so dear.
But, oh, to me the green seems grey,
The budding branches all are sere,
For sweet love's sake, that died one day,
Only last year.
ALL winter through I sat alone,
Doors barred and windows shuttered fast,
And listened to the wind's faint moan,
And ghostly mutterings of the past;
And in the pauses of the rain,
'Mid whispers of dead sorrow and sin,
Love tapped upon the window pane:
I had no heart to let him in.
But now, with spring, my doors stand wide;
My windows let delight creep through;
I hear the skylark sing outside;
I see the crocus, golden new.
The pigeons on my window-sill,
Winging and wooing, flirt and flout,--
Now Love must enter if he will,
I have no heart to keep him out.
PLAGUE take the dull and dusty town,
Its paved and sordid mazes,
Now Spring has trimmed her pretty gown
With buttercups and daisies!
With half my heart I long to lie
Among the flowered grasses,
And hear the loving leaves that sigh
As their sweet Mistress passes.
Through picture-shows I make my way
While flower-crowned maids go maying,
And all the cultured things I say
That cultured folk are saying.
For I renounce Spring's darling face,
With may-bloom fresh upon it:
My Mistress lives in Grosvenor-place
And wears a Bond-street bonnet!
Child's Song In Spring
The Silver Birch is a dainty lady,
She wears a satin gown;
The elm tree makes the old churchyard shady,
She will not live in town.
The English oak is a sturdy fellow,
He gets his green coat late;
The willow is smart in a suit of yellow
While brown the beech trees wait.
Such a gay green gown God gives the larches-
As green as he is good!
The hazels hold up their arms for arches,
When spring rides through the wood.
The chestnut’s proud, and the lilac’s pretty,
The poplar’s gentle and tall,
But the plane tree’s kind to the poor dull city-
I love him best of all!
BIRDS in the green of my garden
Blackbirds and throstle and wren,
Wet your dear wings in the tears that are Spring's
And so to your singing again!
Birds in my blossoming orchard,
Chaffinch and goldfinch and lark,
Preen your bright wings, little happy live things;
The May trees grow white in the park!
Birds in the leafy wet woodlands,
Cuckoo and nightingale brown,
Sing to the sound of the rain on green ground--
The rain on green leaves dripping down!
Fresh with the rain of the May-time,
Rich with the promise of June,
Deep in her heart, where the little leaves part,
Love, like a bird, sings in tune!
WHILE yet the air is keen, and no bird sings,
Nor any vaguest thrills of heart declare
The presence of the springtime in the air,
Through the raw dawn the shepherd homeward brings
The wee white lambs--the little helpless things--
For shelter, warmth, and comfortable care.
Without his help how hardly lambs would fare--
How hardly live through winter's hours to spring's!
So let me tend and minister apart
To my new hope, which some day you shall know:
It could not live in January wind
Of your disdain; but when within your heart
The bud and bloom of tenderness shall grow,
Amid the flowers my hope may welcome find.
Spring Song Iii
HERE'S the Spring-time, Sweet!
Earth's green gown is new,
Lambs begin to bleat,
Doves begin to coo,
Birds begin to woo
In the wood and lane;
Sweet, the tale is true
Spring is here again!
I have been discreet
All the winter through;
Now, before your feet,
Blossoms let me strew.
Flowers, as yet, are few;
Will my lady deign
Take this flower or two?
Spring is here again
Make the year complete,
Give the Spring her due!
All the flowers entreat,
All the song-birds sue.
'Twixt the green and blue
Let Love wake and reign,
Let me worship you--
Spring is here again!
The Maiden's Prayer
SPRING, pretty Spring, what treasure do you bring to me?
Green grass and buttercups, cherry-bloom and may?
Sunshine to be glad with me, and little birds to sing to me?
Warm nests to call me along the woodland way?
Spring, happy Spring, what wonder will you do for me?
Light the tulip lanterns, and set the furze a-fire?
Fill your sky with sails of cloud on waves of living blue for me?
Show me green cornfields and budding of the briar?
Spring, darling Spring, my days will not return to me,
You who see them fleeting, you, all time above,
You who move the whole world's heart, ah move one heart to turn to me,
--Bring me a lover, and teach me how to love!
O thrush, is it true?
Your song tells
Of a world born anew,
Of fields gold with buttercups, woodlands all blue
With hyacinth bells;
Of primroses deep
In the moss of the lane,
Of a Princess asleep
And dear magic to do.
Will the sun wake the princess? O thrush, is it true?
Will Spring come again?
Will Spring come again?
Now at last
With soft shine and rain
Will the violet be sweet where the dead leaves have lain?
Will Winter be past?
In the brown of the copse
Will white wind-flowers star through
Where the last oak-leaf drops?
Will the daisies come too,
And the may and the lilac? Will Spring come again?
O thrush, is it true?
THE young Spring air was strong like wine,
The sky reflected in your eyes
Was of a blue as deep-divine
As ever glowed in southern skies.
We passed from out the sunny lane
Into the green wood's shadowing;
And, sudden, all Love's words seemed vain
In that calm temple of the Spring.
Our god hears fair and tuneful words,
And splendid flowers his altars bear;
With choric song of leaves and birds,
Another god was worshipped there.
Silent, we passed the woodland, through
The coloured maze that Springtime weaves--
The light leaves dancing to the blue,
The sunlight dancing to the leaves;
I could not speak. I touched your hand
At the green arch that ends the wood:
'Ah--if she should not understand!'
Ah--if you had not understood!
Will you go a-maying, a-maying, a-maying,
Come and be my Queen of May and pluck the may with me?
The fields are full of daisy buds and new lambs playing,
The bird is on the nest, dear, the blossom's on the tree.'
'If I go with you, if I go a-maying,
To be your Queen and wear my crown this May-day bright,
Hand in hand straying, it must be only playing,
And playtime ends at sunset, and then good-night.
'For I have heard of maidens who laughed and went a-maying,
Went out queens and lost their crowns and came back slaves.
I will be no young man's slave, submitting and obeying,
Bearing chains as those did, even to their graves.'
'If you come a-maying, a-straying, a-playing,
We will pluck the little flowers, enough for you and me;
And when the day dies, end our one day's playing,
Give a kiss and take a kiss and go home free.'
To His Lady
(Who asked a Song in Spring)
WHY do you bid your poet sing,
Who has no mind to song--
Who only wants to see the Spring,
Long sought and tarrying long?
The shivering, dreary winter through
My song enshrined my vow;
If then my songs were sweet to you,
Let me be silent now!
Have I not duly sung, my dear,
Your goodness and your grace?
Now that your rival, Spring, is here,
O let me see her face!
The hedge is white with buds of May,
The fields are green with Spring,
Oh, give your bard a holiday:
He does not want to sing!
He wants to listen; all alone,
He wants to steal away
To hear the ring-doves' tender tone,
And what the thrushes say.
He wants to hear what can't be heard
When you and love are near--
The sweet Spring's soft and secret word;
Oh, let him go, my dear!
The Fields Of Flanders
Last year the fields were all glad and gay
With silver daisies and silver may;
There were kingcups gold by the river's edge
And primrose stars under every hedge.
This year the fields are trampled and brown,
The hedges are broken and beaten down,
And where the primroses used to grow
Are little black crosses set in a row.
And the flower of hopes, and the flowers of dreams,
The noble, fruitful, beautiful schemes,
The tree of life with its fruit and bud,
Are trampled down in the mud and the blood.
The changing seasons will bring again
The magic of Spring to our wood and plain;
Though the Spring be so green as never was seen
The crosses will still be black in the green.
The God of battles shall judge the foe
Who trampled our country and laid her low. . . .
God! hold our hands on the reckoning day,
Lest all we owe them we should repay
BEFORE your life that is to come,
Love stands with eager eyes, that vainly
Seek to discern what gift may fit
The slow unfolding years of it;
And still Time's lips are sealed and dumb,
And still Love sees no future plainly.
We cannot guess what flowers will spring
Best in your garden, bloom most brightly;
But some fair flowers in any plot
Will spring and grow, and wither not;
And such wish-flowers we gladly bring,
And in that small hand lay them lightly.
Baby, we wish that those dear eyes
May see fulfilment of our dreaming,
Those little feet may turn from wrong,
Those hands to hold the right be strong,
That heart be pure, that mind be wise
To know the true from the true-seeming.
We wish that all your life may be
A life of selfless brave endeavour--
That for reward the fates allow
Such love as lines your soft nest now
To warm the years for you, when we,
Who wish you this, are cold for ever.
Quieta Ne Movete Ii
IF one should wake one's frozen faith
In sunlight of her radiant eyes,
Bid it forget its dream of death,
In this new dream of Paradise,
Bid it forget the long, slow pain,
The agony when, all in vain,
It fought for life, and how one swore,
Once cold, it should not waken more;
If hope one buried long ago
Should thrill beneath those smiles of hers,
Should in one's sere life stir and grow,
As in brown woods the young spring stirs;
If, breaking icy bonds of grief,
One's soul should start to bud and leaf,
It might forget in that springtide
How last year's leaves fell off and died.
If from warm faith and hope set high
A lovely living child was born,
With lips more pure than starlit sky,
And eyes as clear as summer morn,
Child-love might grow till one forgot
Old love, that was and now is not--
Forgot that far-off time of tears,
And all these desolated years.
And yet of faith, hope, love, one knows
So well what end the years will make,
If one should dig beneath Time's snows
And wake them now for her sweet sake.
New life may mean new joy; but then,
What lives again may die again,
And to that second death there may
Be no new resurrection-day.
'It is the skylark come.' For shame!
Robert-a-Cockney is thy name:
Robert-a-Field would surely know
That skylarks, bless them, never go!
* * *
Love of my life, bear witness here
How we have heard them all the year;
How to the skylark's song are set
The days we never can forget.
At Rustington, do you remember?
We heard the skylarks in December;
In January above the snow
They sang to us by Hurstmonceux
Once in the keenest airs of March
We heard them near the Marble Arch;
Their April song thrilled Tonbridge air;
May found them singing everywhere;
And oh, in Sheppey, how their tune
Rhymed with the bean-flower scent in June.
One unforgotten day at Rye
They sang a love-song in July;
In August, hard by Lewes town,
They sang of joy 'twixt sky and down;
And in September's golden spell
We heard them singing on Scaw Fell.
October's leaves were brown and sere,
But skylarks sang by Teston Weir;
And in November, at Mount's Bay,
They sang upon our wedding day!
* * *
Mr.-a-Field, go forth, go forth,
Go east and west and south and north;
You'll always find the furze in flower,
Find every hour the lovers' hour,
And, by my faith in love and rhyme,
The skylark singing all the time!
The Promise Of Spring
JUST a whisper, half-heard,
But our heart knows the word;
Caresses that seem
Like love's lips in a dream;
Yet we know she is here,
The desirèd, the dear,
The love of the year!
In the murmur of boughs,
In the softening of skies,
In the sun on the house,
In the daffodil's green
(Half an inch, half-unseen
Mid the mournful brown mould
Where the rotten leaf lies)
Her story is told.
O Spring, darling Spring,
O sweet days of blue weather
The thrushes shall sing,
Fields shall grow green again,
Daisies be seen again,
Hedges grow white;
Then down the lane,
Grown leafy again,
Shall go lovers together--
Lovers who see again
Sunshine and showers,
Perfume and flowers,
Dewy dear hours,
Dream and delight.
Warm shall nests be again,
Winter's behind us;
Springtime shall find us,
Taking our hands,
Lead us away from the cold and the snow,
Into the green world where primroses grow.
Winter, hard winter, forgotten, forgiven;
All the old pain paid, to seventy times seven,
All the new glory a-glow.
Love, when Spring calls, will you still turn away?
Winter has wooed you in vain, and shall May?
Love, when Spring calls, will you go?
A Kentish Garden
THERE is a grey-walled garden, far away
From noise and smoke of cities, where the hours
Pass with soft wings among the happy flowers,
And lovely leisure blossoms every day.
There, tall and white, the sceptral lily blows;
There grow the pansy, pink, and columbine,
Brave hollyhocks, and star-white jessamine,
And the red glory of the royal rose.
There greeny glow-worms gem the dusky lawn,
The lime-trees breathe their fragrance to the night,
Pink roses sleep, and dream that they are white,
Until they wake to colour with the dawn.
There, in the splendour of the sultry noon,
The sunshine sleeps upon the garden bed
Where the white poppy droops a drowsy head
And dreams of kisses from the white full moon.
And there, some days, all wild with wind and rain,
The tossed trees show the white side of their leaves,
While the great drops drip from the ivied eaves,
And birds are still--till the sun shines again.
And there, all days, my heart goes wandering,
Because there, first, my heart began to know
The glories of the summer and the snow,
The loveliness of harvest and of spring.
There may be fairer gardens; but I know
There is no other garden half so dear;
Because 'tis there, this many, many a year,
The sacred, sweet, white flowers of memory grow!
A PRINCESS, sleeping in enchanted bowers,
Earth springs to waking at Spring's voice and kiss,
And after winter's cold, unlovely hours,
Laughs out to find how beautiful she is.
Spring flings a song across the field and fold,
And sighs it through the glad wood's tangled ways;
And million, million tales of love are told,
And dreams are dreamed of undivided days.
In hollows where so late but dead leaves lay,
Through the dead leaves the primroses push up;
And wind-flowers fleck the copse, and fields are gay
With daisies and the budding buttercup.
So in our hearts, though thick the dead leaves lie
Of grief--heaped up by winds of old despair--
May there not be a spring-time by-and-by,
When flowers of joy shall blossom even there?
So long has Winter held our hearts in his,
We dare not dream of Spring and all her flowers?
Ah! the undreamed-of happiness it is
That comes--the dreamed-of joy is never ours!
When late the trees were brown and hedges bare,
And keen east wind cut sharp as human pain,
Did the Earth guess how soon she would be fair
With Spring's dear dainty loveliness again?
We do not guess of joy, but hope alone--
Like life's mysterious force that thrills the earth--
Lives in our souls, unrecognised, unknown,
Till time shall bring unhoped-for joy to birth.
A Star In The East
FOR THE ART EXHIBITION AT ST. JUDE'S, WHITECHAPEL
LIKE a fair flower springing fresh, sweet, and bright,
Through prison stones; or like one perfect song
Heard in a dream on one remembered night,
When waking worlds were dumb with grief and wrong;
Like the one kiss that links--first kiss and last--
The inevitable future spent apart
With the immutable divided past:
So in the east shines out this star of Art.
The narrow-shouldered, pale-faced girl and boy
Nestle against Art's new-found, love-warm breast,
And feel vague stirrings of a far-off joy,
Which life has never for themselves possessed,
And dimly guess at wonders hardly known--
Even as dreams--and weep glad tears to see
A loveliness that is at once life's own,
And yet is something life can never be.
Not worse will work the flying busy hand
Because the soul has drunk a cup of pleasure,
Has picked up on its leaden-coloured strand
Some little jewel of Art's splendid treasure,
Nor will less work be done because men see
That work is not the only thing in life,
Because they have been glad at heart and free
A little space 'mid sorrow, sin, and strife.
And this sweet draught may banish men's content?
For this we pray and strive--not all in vain--
That men may reach such heights of discontent
As never to fall back to peace again
Where no peace is--nor rest from strife and prayers,
But tread firm-footed up the thorny way,
Till all that spring of art and joy is theirs
Whereof they taste so small a draught to-day.
Young and a conqueror, once on a day,
Wild white Winter rode out this way;
With his sword of ice and his banner of snow
Vanquished the Summer and laid her low.
Winter was young then, young and strong;
Now he is old, he has reigned too long.
He shall be routed, he shall be slain;
Summer shall come to her own again!
See the champion of Summer wake
Little armies in field and brake:
'Cruel and cold has King Winter been;
Fight for the Summer, fight for the Queen!'
First the aconite dots the mould
With little round cannon-balls of gold;
Then, to help in the winter's rout,
Regiments of crocuses march out.
See the swords of the flag-leaves shine;
See the shield of the celandine,
And daffodil lances green and keen,
To fight for the Summer, fight for the Queen.
Silver triumphant the snowdrop swings
Banners that mock at defeated kings;
And wherever the green of the new grass peers,
See the array of victorious spears.
Daffodil trumpets soon shall sound
Over the garden's battle-ground,
And lovely ladies crowd out to see
The long procession of victory.
Little daisies with snowy frills,
Courtly tulips and sweet jonquils,
Primrose and cowslip, friends well met
With white wood-sorrel and violet.
Hundreds of milkmaids by field and fold;
Thousands of buttercups licked with gold;
Budding hedges and woods and trees -
Spring brings freedom and life to these.
Then the triumphant Spring shall ride
Over the happy countryside;
Deep in the woods the birds shall sing:
'The King is dead--long live the King!'
But Spring is no king, but a faithful knight;
He will ride on through the meadows bright
Till at Summer's feet he shall light him down
And lay at her feet the royal crown.
She will lean down where the roses twine
Between the may-trees' silver shine,
And look in the eyes of the dying knight
Who led his army and won her fight.
She will stoop to his lips and say,
'Oh, live, O love! O my true love, stay!'
While he smiles and sighs her arms between
And dies for the Summer, dies for the Queen.
The Last Envoy
THIS wind, that through the silent woodland blows,
O'er rippling corn and dreaming pastures goes
Straight to the garden where the heart of spring
Faints in the heart of summer's earliest rose.
Dimpling the meadow's grassy green and grey,
By furze that yellows all the common way,
Gathering the gladness of the flowering broom,
And too persistent fragrance of the may--
Gathering whatever is of sweet and dear,
The wandering wind has passed away from here,
Has passed to where within your garden waits
The concentrated sweetness of the year.
And in your leafed enclosure as you stood,
Training your flowers to new beatitude--
Ah! did you guess the wind that kissed your hair
Had kissed my forehead in this solitude--
Had kissed my lips, and gathered there the heat
It breathed upon your mouth, my only sweet--
Had gathered from my eyes the tender thought
That drooped your eyes, and stirred your pulses' beat?
You only thought the sun's caress too warm
That lay upon your bosom and your arm;
You did not guess the wind had brought from me
The unacknowledged fancy's fire and charm--
You only said, 'Too strong these sunlit skies,
More dear the moments when the daylight dies!'
And then you dreamed of meetings by your gate
In sanctity of sunset and moonrise.
To-night, when he shall come and meet you there,
To kiss your lips and hands and eyes and hair,
To light with love and hope youth's waiting shrine--
Think of my love, and my assured despair!
To-night the wind will rob the languid flowers
Of secret scents kept close through daylit hours;
It will blow coolly over dewy lawns,
Where the laburnums fall in silent showers.
I, too, shall learn a secret then--shall wrest
Life's hidden things from out her languorous breast,
Shall learn the way that leads away from life
Into the land where nothing lives but rest.
You will not know that the cold air you prize,
After the stormy sweetness of his sighs,
Is cold from blowing through a moonlit wood
Over the hollow where a dead man lies!
Spring Song Ii
THE spring is here, and the long nights grow
Less bitterly cold than awhile ago;
Our rags serve their purpose now, and keep
Warmth enough in us to let us sleep.
The rain that trickles down our walls
No longer seems to freeze as it falls;
There was dust, not mud, on our feet to-day;
There's some green in a flower-pot over the way;
The sky-strip over the court's changed hue,
From dull yellow-grey to clear grey-blue;
Through our broken windows no more the storm
Laughs and shrieks as we try to keep warm,
But through dusty panes the long sunbeams peer,
For the spring is here.
Small joy the greenness and grace of spring
To grey hard lives like our own can bring.
A drowning man cares little to think
Of the lights on the waves where he soon must sink.
The greenest garments the spring can wear
Are black already with our despair:
Earth will be one with us soon--shall we care
If snow or sunshine be over us there,
Or if wintry the world be we found so drear,
Or if spring be here?
In the western half of our Christian town
The Winter only pretends to frown,
And when his undreaded rage is done,
The 'London season' they say is begun.
With wine, feast, revelling, laugh and song,
The hours rose-garlanded dance along,
The whirl of wickedness wilder grows
In this western camp of our bitter foes;
They fight with each other--the victors take
The largest share of the wealth we make;
They spend on their horses, their women, their wives,
The money wrung from our blasted lives:
It is theirs to enjoy--it is ours to pay.
Do they never dream of a reckoning day,
When the lives they have wrecked shall be counted up,
And measured the blood that has brightened their cup,
When we who have worked shall take payment due,
And they for their work shall have payment too?
Do they dream of that coming hour? Not they!
Their feet flit fast down the smooth steep way,
They see not the waiting snakes that hide
In the hothouse flowers at their life-path's side,
They know no justice, no pity, no fear--
But the spring is here!
Yes--here! In the hope we had almost lost,
That has sprung to bud after long years' frost;
In this fire in our veins that cries, 'Give youth,
Love, manhood, life, for the Right and the Truth;'
In our steady purpose, for Freedom's sake,
Through custom, privilege, 'fate,' to break;
In the brains of the thinkers, the arms of the men
Who will strike, and strike, and still strike again,
Till they cut our way to the land of flowers,
And the summer of freedom at last is ours--
In these is the spring. The winter was sore--
It is over and done, and will come no more.
The fruit will grow with the changing year,
Though only the blossoms now appear;
For the sake of the fruit the blossoms are dear,
And the spring is here--the spring is here.
The Ballad Of The White Lady
SIR GEOFFREY met the white lady
Upon his marriage morn,
Her eyes were blue as cornflowers are,
Her hair was gold like corn.
Sir Geoffrey gave the white lady
A posy of roses seven,
'You are the fairest May,' said he,
'That ever strayed from Heaven.'
Sir Geoffrey by the white lady
Was lured away to shame,
For seven long years of prayers and tears
No tidings of him came.
Then she who should have been his bride
A mighty oath she swore,
'For seven long years I have wept and prayed,
Now I will pray no more.
'Since God and all the saints of Heaven
Bring not my lord to me,
I will go down myself to hell
And bring him back,' said she.
She crept to the white lady's bower,
The taper's flame was dim,
And there Sir Geoffrey lay asleep,
And the white witch sat by him.
Her arm was laid across his neck,
Her gold hair on his face,
And there was silence in the room
As in a burial-place.
And there were gems and carven cups,
And 'broidered bridal gear--
'Whose bridal is this?' the lady said,
'And what knight have ye here?'
'The good knight here ye know full well,
He was your lord, I trow,
But I have taken him from your side,
And I am his lady now.
'This seven year with right good cheer
We twain our bridal keep,
So take for your mate another knight
And let my dear lord sleep.'
Then up and spake Sir Geoffrey's bride,
'What bridal cheer is this?
I would think scorn to have the lips
Who could not have the kiss!
'I would think scorn to take the half
Who could not have the whole;
I would think scorn to steal the body
Who could not take the soul!
'For, though ye hold his body fast
This seven weary year,
His soul walks ever at my side
And whispers in my ear.
'I would think scorn to hold in sleep
What, if it waked, would flee,
So let his body join his soul
And both fare forth with me;
'For I have learned a spell more strong
Than yours that laid him low,
And I will speak it for his sake
Because I love him so!'
The white lady threw back her hair,
Her eyes began to shine--
'His soul is thine these seven years?--
To-night it shall be mine!
'I have been brave to hold him here
While seven long years befell,
Rather than let a bridal be
Whose seed should flower in hell.
'I have not looked into his eyes
Nor joined my lips to his,
For fear his soul should spring to flame
And shrivel at my kiss.
'I have been brave to watch his sleep
While the long hours come and go,
To hold the body without the soul,
Because I love him so.
'But since his soul this seven year
Has sat by thee,' she said,
'His body and soul to-night shall lie
Upon my golden bed.
'Thou hast no need to speak the spell
That thou hast learned,' said she,
'For I will wake him from his sleep
And take his soul from thee.'
She stooped above him where he lay,
She laid her lips on his;
He stirred, he spake: 'These seven long years
I have waited for thy kiss.
'My soul has hung upon thy lips
And trembled at thy breath,
Thou hast given me life in a cup to drink,
As God will give me death.
'Why didst thou fear to kill my soul
Which only lives for thee?
Thou hast put seven wasted years,
O love, 'twixt thee and me.'
The Dead To The Living
Work while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
IN the childhood of April, while purple woods
With the young year's blood in them smiled,
I passed through the lanes and the wakened fields,
And stood by the grave of the child.
And the pain awoke that is never dead
Though it sometimes sleeps, and again
It set its teeth in this heart of mine,
And fastened its claws in my brain:
For it seemed so hard that the little hands
And the little well-loved head
Should be out of reach of my living lips,
And be side by side with the dead--
Not side by side with us who had loved,
But with these who had never seen
The grace of the smile, the gold of the hair,
And the eyes of my baby-queen.
Yet with trees about where the brown birds build,
And with long green grass above,
She lies in the cold sweet breast of earth
Beyond the reach of our love;
Whatever befalls in the coarse loud world,
We know she will never wake.
When I thought of the sorrow she might have known,
I was almost glad for her sake. . . .
Tears might have tired those kiss-closed eyes,
Grief hardened the mouth I kissed;
I was almost glad that my dear was dead
Because of the pain she had missed.
Oh, if I could but have died a child
With a white child-soul like hers,
As pure as the wind-flowers down in the copse,
Where the soul of the spring's self stirs;
Or if I had only done with it all,
And might lie by her side unmoved!
I envied the very clods of earth
Their place near the child I loved!
And my soul rose up in revolt at life,
As I stood dry-eyed by her grave,
When sudden the grass of the churchyard sod
Rolled back like a green smooth wave;
The brown earth looked like the brown sea rocks,
The tombstones were white like spray,
And white like surf were the curling folds
Of the shrouds where the dead men lay;
For each in his place with his quiet face
I saw the dead lie low,
Who had worked and suffered and found life sad,
So many sad years ago.
Unchanged by time I saw them lie
As when first they were laid to rest,
The tired eyes closed, the sad lips still,
And the work-worn hands on the breast.
There were some who had found the green world so grey,
They had left it before their time,
And some were little ones like my dear,
And some had died in their prime;
And some were old, they had had their fill
Of bitter unfruitful hours,
And knew that none of them, none, had known
A flower of a hope like ours!
Through their shut eyelids the dead looked up,
And without a voice they said:
'We lived without hope, without hope we died,
And hopeless we lie here dead;
And death is better than life that draws
Pain in, as it draws in breath,
If life never dreams of a coming day
When life shall not envy death.
Through the dark of our hours and our times we lived,
Uncheered by a single ray
Of such hope as lightens the lives of you
Who are finding life hard to-day;
With our little lanterns of human love
We lighted our dark warm night--
But you in the chill of the dawn are set
With your face to the eastern light.
Freedom is waiting with hands held out
Till you tear the veil from her face--
And when once men have seen the light of her eyes,
And felt her divine embrace,
The light of the world will be risen indeed,
And will shine in the eyes of men,
And those who come after will find life fair,
And their lives worth living then!
Will you strive to the light in your loud rough world,
That these things may come to pass,
Or lie in the shadow beside the child,
And strive to the sun through the grass?'
'My world while I may,' I cried; 'but you
Whose lives were as dark as your grave?'
'We too are a part of the coming light,'
They called through the smooth green wave.
Their white shrouds gleamed as the flood of green
Rolled over and hid them from me--
Hid all but the little hands and the hair,
And the face that I always see.
'SWEET are the lanes and the hedges, the fields made red with the clover,
With tall field-sorrel, and daisies, and golden buttercups glowing;
Sweet is the way through the woods, where at sundown maiden and lover
Linger by stile or by bank where wild clematis is growing.
Fair is our world when the dew and the dawn thrill the half-wakened roses,
Fair when the corn-fields grow warm with poppies in noonlight gleaming,
Fair through the long afternoon, when hedges and hay-fields lie dreaming,
Fair as in lessening light the last convolvulus closes
'Scent of geranium and musk that in cottage windows run riot,
Breath from the grass that is down in the meadows each side the highway,
Slumberous hush of the churchyard where we one day may lie quiet,
Murmuring wind through the leaves bent over the meadow byway,
Deeps of cool shadow, and gleams of light on high elm-tops shining,
Such peace in the dim green brake as the town, save in dreams, knows never,
But in, through, under it all, the old pain follows us ever--
Ever the old despair, the old unrest and repining.
'Dark is the City's face; but her children who know her find her
Mother to them who are brothers, mindful of brotherhood's duty;
To each of us, lonely, unhelped, the grave would be warmer, kinder,
Than the cold unloving face of our world of blossom and beauty.
Poverty deep and dark cowers under the thatch with the swallows,
Cruel disease lies hid in the changeful breast of the waters,
Drink sets snares for our sons, and shame digs graves for our daughters,
Want and care crush the flower of a youth that no life-fruit follows.
'What are the woodland sweets--the meadow's fair flowery treasure--
When we are hungry and sad, and stupid with work and with sorrows?
Leisure for nothing but sleep, and with heart but for sleep in our leisure;
The work of to-day still the same as yesterday's work, and to-morrow's.
Ever the weary round--the treadmill of innocent lives--
Hopeless and helpless, and bowing our backs like a hound's to the lashes;
What can seem fair to the eyes that are smarting and sore with the ashes
Blown from the fires that consume the souls of our children and wives?
'Dreams sometimes we have had of an hour when we might speak plainly,
Raise the mantle and show how the iron eats into our bosom,
The rotting root of the Nation, the worm at the heart of its blossom,
Dreaming we said, 'We will speak, when the time for it comes, not vainly.'
Ah--but the time comes never--Life, we are used to bear it,
Starved are our brains and grow not, our hands are fit but for toiling,
If we stretched them out their touch to our masters' hand would be soiling;
Weak is our voice with disuse--too weak for our lords to hear it!'
'So has the spark died out that the torch of hope dropped among you?
So is the burden bound more fast to the shrinking shoulder?
Far too faint are your cries to be heard by the men who wrong you?
And if they heard they are high, and the air as men rise grows colder!
Yet you are men though so weak, and in mine and workshop your brothers,
Stronger in head, and in heart not less sad, for deliverance are striving;
These will stand fast, and will face the cruel unjust and ungiving,
And you in our ranks shall be 'listed, our hands fast clasped in each other's!
'For in the night of our sorrow cold lights are breaking and brightening
Out in the eastern sky; through the drifting clouds, wind-driven,
Over the earth new gleams and glories are laughing and lightening,
Clearer the air grows each moment, brighter the face of the heaven.
Turn we our face to the east--oh, wind of the dawn, blow to us
Freshness and strength and resolve! The star of old faith grows paler
Before the eyes of our Freedom, though still wrath's red mists veil her,
For this is our battle day; revenge, like our blood, runs through us.
'This is our vengeance day. Our masters, made fat with our fasting,
Shall fall before us like corn when the sickle for harvest is strong:
Old wrong shall give might to our arm--remembrance of wrong shall make lasting
The graves we will dig for the tyrants we bore with too much and too long.
The sobs of our starving children, the tears of our heart-sick mothers,
The moan of your murdered manhood crushed out by their wanton pressure,
The wail of the life-long anguish that paid the price of their pleasure,
These will make funeral music to speed the lost souls of them, brothers!
'Shoulder to shoulder we march, and for those who go down mid the fighting
With rifles in hand and pikes, and the red flag over them flying,
Glad shall our hearts be for them--who die when our sun is lighting
The warm, wide heavens, and sheds its lovely light on their dying.
Fight, though we lose our dearest--fight, though the battle rages
Fiercer and hotter than ever was fight in the world before:
We must fight--how can men do less? If we die, what can men do more?
And the sun of Freedom shall shine across our graves to the ages!'
WHEN on the West broke light from out the East,
Then from the splendour and the shame of Rome--
Renouncing wealth and pleasure, game and feast,
And all the joys of his polluted home,
Desiring not the gifts his world could give,
If haply he might save his soul and live--
Into the desert's heart a man had come.
His God had died for love of him, and he
For love of God would die to all of these
Sweet sins he had not known for sins, and be
Estranged for evermore from rest and ease;
His days in penance spent might half atone
For the iniquity of days bygone,
And in the desert might his soul find peace.
Crossing wide seas, he reached an alien land:
By mighty harbours and broad streams he passed
Into an arid, trackless waste of sand,
And journeying ever faster and more fast,
Left men behind, and onward still did press
To a ruined city in the wilderness,
And there he stayed his restless feet at last.
There stood long lines of columns richly wrought,
Colossal statues of forgotten kings,
Vast shadowy temples, court within dim court,
Great shapes of man-faced beasts with wide firm wings;
And in and out each broken colonnade
The bright-eyed, swift, green-gleaming lizards played,
In that still place the only living things.
But when the moon unveiled her still, white face,
And over sand and stone her glory shed--
Another life awoke within the place,
And great beasts stalked, with silent heavy tread,
Through pillared vista, over marble floor,
And the stern menace of the lion's roar
Made horrible the city of the dead.
Like a great bird soft sinking on its nest,
Too lightly to disturb its tender brood,
The night, with dark spread wings and cloudy breast,
Sank on the desert city's solitude
As he drew near. The shadows grew more dense,
The silence stronger; weariness intense
Fell on him then, and only rest seemed good.
He passed between tall pillars' sculptured gloom,
And entered a deserted, lightless fane,
And knew not if it temple were, or tomb,
But slept and slept, till over all the plain
The level sunbeams spread, and earth was bright
With morning's radiant resurrection-light;
Then he awoke, refreshed and strong again.
Through empty courts he passed, and lo! a wall
Whereon was imaged all the languid grace
Of fairest women, and among them all
Shone like a star one lovely Eastern face:
Undimmed by centuries the colours were,
Bright as when first the painter found her fair,
And set her there to glorify the place.
All he had fled from suddenly drew near,
And from her eyes a challenge seemed down-thrown;
'Ah, fool!' she seemed to say, 'what dost thou here?
How canst thou bear this stern, sad life alone,
When I--not just this face that copies me,
But I myself--stretch arms and lips to thee,
From that same world whose joys thou hast foregone?'
His heart leaped up like flame--she was so fair;
Then with a start he hid his eyes and fled
Into the hotness of the outer air.
His pulse beat quickly. 'Oh, my God!' he said,
'These be the heart made pure, and cleansèd brain!
I vow to Thee to never look again
On women, real or painted, quick or dead!'
So lest within the city he should find,
To tempt his soul, still some accursèd thing,
He left the palaces and courts behind,
Found a green spot, with date-palms and a spring
And built himself a rough stone shelter there
And saw no more the face, so strange and fair
That had begot such vain imagining.
He tilled the patch of land, and planted seeds
Which from his own far country he had brought;
And, caring little for his body's needs,
Strove still by blind belief to strangle thought,
By ceaseless penance to deny desire,
To quench in prayer and fast all human fire,
And wrest from Heaven the blessings that he sought.
And there peace found him, and he dwelt alone,
And gladly gave his life to God. Behind
Lay the long dim arcades of graven stone;
Before him lay the desert, burning blind
Sometimes with the dread dance of its own sand,
That wildly whirled in shadowy columns, fanned
By the hot breath of the fierce desert wind.
Each day passed by as had passed other days,
And days gone by were as the days to come,
Save that on some days he was wild with praise,
And weak with vigil and with fast on some;
And no man saw he for long months and years,
But ever did he penance with hot tears,
And but for prayer and praise his lips were dumb.
Sometimes at first, when spent with watch and prayer,
He saw again the Imperial City's towers,
Where, in a mist of music and sweet air,
Thais and Phryne crowned his cup with flowers--
He saw the easeful day, the festal night,
The life that was one dream of long delight,
One rose-red glow of rapture and fair hours.
He heard old well-remembered voices cry,
'Come back to us! Think of the joys you miss;
Each moment floats some foregone rapture by,
A cup, a crown, a song, a laugh, a kiss!
Cast down that crown of thorns, return, and be
Once more flower-crowned, love-thrilled, wine-warmed, and see
The old sweet life--how good a thing it is!'
But his soul answered, 'Nay, I am content;
Ye call in vain; the desert shuts me in.
Your flowers are sere, your wine with gall is blent,
Your sweets have all the sickening taste of sin;
Such sin I expiate with ceaseless pain,
And world and flesh and devil strive in vain
Back from its sanctuary my soul to win.
'Fair are the Imperial City's towers to see?
I seek the City with the streets of gold.
Beside the lilies God has grown for me
Faint are the roses that your fingers hold.
Ear hath not heard the music I shall hear,
Eye hath not seen the joys that shall appear,
Nor heart conceived the things I shall behold.'
After long days a stranger halted there,
For some far distant monastery bound.
The hermit fed and lodged, nor could forbear
To tell his guest what rest his soul had found
How with the world he long ago had done,
How the hard battle had been fought and won,
And he found peace, pure, perfect and profound.
The stranger answered, 'Thou hast watched an hour,
But many hours go to make up our day,
And some of these are dark with fateful power,
And Satan watches for our souls alway;
The spirit may be willing, but indeed
The flesh is weak, and so much more the need
To pray and watch, my brother, watch and pray.'
The Roman bowed his head in mute assent,
And, having served the stranger with his best,
Bade him God-speed, and down the way he went--
Gazed sadly after, but within his breast
A pale fire of resentment sprang to flame
Was he not holy now, and void of blame,
And certain of himself, and pure, and blest?
That night a new-born desolation grew
Within his heart as he made fast the stone
Against the doorway of his hut, and knew
How more than ever he was now alone.
He was in darkness, but the moon without
Made a new tender daylight round about
The hut, the palms, the plot with millet sown.
Hark!--what was that?--For many months and years
He had not heard that faint uncertain noise,
Broken, and weak, and indistinct with tears--
A voice--a human voice--a woman's voice.
'Oh, let me in,' it wailed, 'before I die!
Oh, let me in, for Holy Charity!
For see--my life or death is at thy choice!'
Unthinking, swift he rolled the stone away:
There stood a woman, trembling, shrinking, thin;
Her pale hair by the moon's white light looked grey,
And grey her hands and grey her withered skin.
'Oh, save me--lest I die among the beasts
Who roam, and roar, and hold their fearful feasts!
Oh, save me,' she besought him, 'let me in!'
Troubled, he answered, 'Nay, I have a vow
Never again a woman's face to see!'
'But, ah,' she cried, 'thy vow is broken now,
For at this moment thou beholdest me.
I cannot journey farther. Help!' she said,
'Or I before the dawning shall be dead,
And thou repent to all eternity!'
His soul was gentle and compassionate.
'Thou shalt not perish--enter here,' he said;
'My vow is broken, and thy need is great.'
She staggered forward to the dry leaf bed,
And sank upon it, cold and still and white.
'Perhaps she may not live until the light,'
He thought, and lifted up her drooping head,
And gave her wine from out a little store
Which he had kept untouched since first he came;
He rolled the stone again before his door
To keep the night air from her wasted frame;
And, though his vow was broken, somehow knew
That he was doing what was right to do,
Yet felt a weight of unacknowledged blame.
And many a day he tended her and fed;
But ever after that first night's surprise
With earnest vigilance he held his head
Averted, and downcast he kept his eyes.
His vow, though broken once, was still his law;
He looked upon her face no more, nor saw
Her whom he cared for in such kindly wise.
She never spoke to him, nor he to her--
That she was sick and sad was all he knew;
He never asked her what her past days were,
Nor of the future, what she meant to do.
So dwelt they, till the full moon's yellow light
Flooded the world once more. Then came the night
Which all his life had been a prelude to.
The stone was moved a little from the door,
And near it he was kneeling rapt in prayer
Upon the cold uneven earthen floor;
The moonbeams passed him by, and rested where
The woman slept--her breathing soft and slow,
With rhythmic cadence even, restful, low,
Stirring the stillness of the cool night air
His prayer being ended, as he turned to rest,
He chanced to let his eyes fall carelessly
Upon the figure that the moon caressed,
The woman that his care had not let die.
And now no more he turned his face aside,
But gazed, and gazed, and still unsatisfied
His eager look fed on her, hungrily.
On her? On whom? The suppliant he had saved,
Thin, hollow-cheeked and sunken-eyed had been,
With shrunken brow whereon care-lines were graved,
With withered arms, dull hair, and fingers lean.
'Has my blind care transformed her so?' he said;
For she was gone, and there lay in her stead
The loveliest woman he had ever seen.
The rags she wore but made her seem more sweet,
Since in despite of them she was so fair;
The rough brown leaves quite covered up her feet,
But left one ivory arm and shoulder bare,
The other lay beneath the little head,
And over all the moonlit couch was spread
The sunlight-coloured wonder of her hair.
He could not move, nor turn away his gaze:
How long he stood and looked he could not guess.
At last she faintly sighed, and in her face
Trembled the dawn of coming consciousness;
The eyelids quivered, and the red lips stirred,
As if they tried to find some sweet lost wo
And then her eyelids lifted, and he met
Full in his dazzled eyes the glorious light
Of eyes that he had struggled to forget
Since he had broken from their spells of might--
The Eastern eyes that from the painted wall
Had lightened down upon him, to enthral
Senses and soul with fetters of delight.
He knew her now, his love without a name,
Who in his dreams had looked on him and smiled,
And almost back to his old world of shame
His unconsenting manhood had beguiled!
There was no world now any more. At last
He knew that all--his future, present, past--
In her sole self was fused and reconciled.
The moments fled as in a dream divine:
Fire filled his veins--there beat within his brain
The madness that is born of love or wine;
And her eyes gleamed--softened and gleamed again,
And in those stormy seas he gazed, until
Her beauty seemed the whole vast night to fill,
And all, save her, seemed valueless and vain.
Then, with her eyes still deep in his, she rose
And moved towards him, and a wave of bliss
Flooded his sense with the wild joy that goes
Before a longed-for, almost granted kiss,
And slowly she drew nearer to his side--
Then, with a smile like mid-June's dawn, she sighed,
And turned to him, and laid her hand on his.
And at the touch, all he had deemed effaced--
All the heart-searing passions of his past--
Surged up, and their destroying wave laid waste
The ordered garden of his soul. At last
The spell of silence broke, and suddenly
The man's whole heart found voice in one low cry,
As round her perfect head his arms he cast--
And did not clasp her, for his foiled arms crossed
Only upon his own tumultuous breast!
His wrecked heart, tempest driven, passion tossed,
Beat fierce against his own hand on it pressed.
As on June fields might fall December frost,
In one cold breath he knew that she was lost--
Eternally foregone and unpossessed.
For even as he clasped she had seemed to melt,
And fade into the misty moonlit air;
His arms were empty, yet his hand still felt
The touch of her hand that had rested there:
But she was gone, with all her maddening grace--
The solitude and silence, in her place,
Like a chill searching wind crept everywhere.
Silence--at first. Then suddenly outbroke
A little laugh. And then, above, around,
A hideous peal of laughter, shout on shout,
Re-echoing from sky, and air, and ground;
And in his devastated soul had birth
A horrid echo of that demon mirth,
And with his human voice he swelled its sound.
'Tricked, fooled!' he laughed. 'We laugh, the fiends and I,
They for their triumph, I to feel my fall!
From snares like these is no security,
In desert wild or close-built city wall:
And since I must be tempted, let me go
And brave the old temptations that I know;
Not these, that are but phantoms after all--
'Phantoms, not living women, warm and real,
As the fair Roman women were. And yet
The phantom only is my soul's ideal,
Longed for through all the years and never met
Till now; and only now to make hell worse--
To fan my fires of infinite remorse
With the cold wind of infinite regret.
'Back to the world, the world of love and sin!
For since my soul is lost, I claim its price!
Prayers are not heard. The God I trusted in
Has failed me once--He shall not fail me twice!
No more of that wild striving and intense
For irrecoverable innocence--
No more of useless, vain self-sacrifice!
'Life is too potent and too passionate,
Against whose force I all these years have striven
In vain, in vain! Our own lives make our Fate;
And by our Fate our lives are blindly driven!
There is no refuge in the hermit's cell
From memories enough to make a hell--
Of chances lost that might have made a heaven!'
Back to his world he went, and plunged anew
Into the old foul life's polluted tide;
But ever in his sweetest feast he knew
A longing never to be satisfied:
This strange wild wickedness, that new mad sin,
Might be the frame to find her picture in;
And if that failed, some other must be tried.
And in the search, soul, body, heart, and brain
Were blasted and destroyed, and still his prize,
Ever untouched, seemed always just to gain,
And just beyond his reach shone Paradise.
So followed he, too faithfully, too well,
Through death, into the very gate of hell,
The love-light of those unforgotten eyes!
The Moat House
UNDER the shade of convent towers,
Where fast and vigil mark the hours,
From childhood into youth there grew
A maid as fresh as April dew,
And sweet as May's ideal flowers,
Brighter than dawn in wind-swept skies,
Like children's dreams most pure, unwise,
Yet with a slumbering soul-fire too,
That sometimes shone a moment through
Her wondrous unawakened eyes.
The nuns, who loved her coldly, meant
The twig should grow as it was bent;
That she, like them, should watch youth's bier,
Should watch her day-dreams disappear,
And go the loveless way they went.
The convent walls were high and grey;
How could Love hope to find a way
Into that citadel forlorn,
Where his dear name was put to scorn,
Or called a sinful thing to say?
Yet Love did come; what need to tell
Of flowers downcast, that sometimes fell
Across her feet when dreamily
She paced, with unused breviary,
Down paths made still with August's spell--
Of looks cast through the chapel grate,
Of letters helped by Love and Fate,
That to cold fingers did not come
But lay within a warmer home,
Upon her heart inviolate?
Somehow he loved her--she loved him:
Then filled her soul's cup to the brim,
And all her daily life grew bright
With such a flood of rosy light
As turned the altar candles dim.
But love that lights is love that leads,
And lives upon the heart it feeds;
Soon grew she pale though not less fair,
And sighed his name instead of prayer,
And told her heart-throbs, not her beads.
How could she find the sunlight fair,
A sunlight that he did not share?
How could a rose smell sweet within
The cruel bars that shut her in,
And shut him out while she was there?
He vowed her fealty firm and fast,
Then to the winds her fears she cast;
They found a way to cheat the bars,
And in free air, beneath free stars,
Free, and with him, she stood at last.
'Now to some priest,' he said, 'that he
May give thee--blessing us--to me.'
'No priest,' she cried in doubt and fear,
'He would divide, not join us, dear.
I am mine--I give myself to thee.
'Since thou and I are mine and thine,
What need to swear it at a shrine?
Would love last longer if we swore
That we would love for evermore?
God gives me thee--and thou art mine.'
'God weds us now,' he said, 'yet still
Some day shall we all forms fulfil.
Eternal truth affords to smile
At laws wherewith man marks his guile,
Yet law shall join us--when you will.
'So look your last, my love, on these
Forbidding walls and wooing trees.
Farewell to grief and gloom,' said he;
'Farewell to childhood's joy,' said she;
But neither said, 'Farewell to peace.'
My sweet, my sweet,
She is complete
From dainty head to darling feet;
So warm and white,
So brown and bright,
So made for love and love's delight.
God could but spare
One flower so fair,
There is none like her anywhere;
Beneath wide skies
The whole earth lies,
But not two other such brown eyes.
The world we're in,
If one might win?
Not worth that dimple in her chin
A heaven to know?
I'll let that go
But once to see her lids droop low
Over her eyes,
By love made wise:
To see her bosom fall and rise
Is more than worth
The angels' mirth,
And all the heaven-joys of earth.
This is the hour
Which gives me power
To win and wear earth's whitest flower.
Oh, Love, give grace,
Through all life's ways
Keep pure this heart, her dwelling place.
The fields were reaped and the pastures bare,
And the nights grown windy and chill,
When the lovers passed through the beech woods fair,
And climbed the brow of the hill.
In the hill's spread arm the Moat House lies
With elm and willow tree;
'And is that your home at last?' she sighs.
'Our home at last,' laughs he.
Across the bridge and into the hall
Where the waiting housefolk were.
'This is my lady,' he said to them all,
And she looked so sweet and fair
That every maid and serving-boy
God-blessed them then and there,
And wished them luck, and gave them joy,
For a happy, handsome pair.
And only the old nurse shook her head:
'Too young,' she said, 'too young.'
She noted that no prayers were read,
No marriage bells were rung;
No guests were called, no feast was spread,
As was meet for a marriage tide;
The young lord in the banquet hall broke bread
Alone with his little bride.
Yet her old heart warmed to the two, and blessed,
They were both so glad and gay,
By to-morrow and yesterday unoppressed,
Fulfilled of the joy of to-day;
Like two young birds in that dull old nest,
So careless of coming care,
So rapt in the other that each possessed,
The two young lovers were.
He was heir to a stern hard-natured race,
That had held the Moat House long,
But the gloom of his formal dwelling place
Dissolved at her voice and song;
So bright, so sweet, to the house she came,
So winning of way and word,
The household knew her by one pet name,
'My Lady Ladybird.'
First love so rarely gets leave to bring,
In our world where money is might,
Its tender buds to blossoming
With the sun of its own delight.
We love at rose or at vintage prime,
In the glare and heat of the day,
Forgetting the dawn and the violet time,
And the wild sweet scent of the may.
These loved like children, like children played,
The old house laughed with delight
At her song of a voice, at the radiance made
By her dress's flashing flight.
Up the dark oak stair, through the gallery's gloom,
She ran like a fairy fleet,
And ever her lover from room to room
Fast followed her flying feet.
They gathered the buds of the late-lived rose
In the ordered garden ways,
They walked through the sombre yew-walled close
And threaded the pine woods maze,
They rode through woods where their horses came
Knee-deep through the rustling leaves,
Through fields forlorn of the poppies' flame
And bereft of their golden sheaves.
In the mellow hush of October noon
They rowed in the flat broad boat,
Through the lily leaves so thickly strewn
On the sunny side of the moat.
They were glad of the fire of the beech-crowned hill,
And glad of the pale deep sky,
And the shifting shade that the willows made
On the boat as she glided by.
They roamed each room of the Moat House through
And questioned the wraiths of the past,
What legends rare the old dresses knew,
And the swords, what had wet them last?
What faces had looked through the lozenge panes,
What shadows darkened the door,
What feet had walked in the jewelled stains
That the rich glass cast on the floor?
She dressed her beauty in old brocade
That breathed of loss and regret,
In laces that broken hearts had swayed,
In the days when the swords were wet;
And the rubies and pearls laughed out and said,
'Though the lovers for whom we were set,
And the women who loved us, have long been dead,
Yet beauty and we live yet.'
When the wild white winter's spectral hand
Effaced the green and the red,
And crushed the fingers brown of the land
Till they grew death-white instead,
The two found cheer in their dark oak room,
And their dreams of a coming spring,
For a brighter sun shone through winter's gloom
Than ever a summer could bring.
They sat where the great fires blazed in the hall,
Where the wolf-skins lay outspread,
The pictured faces looked down from the wall
To hear his praise of the dead.
He told her ghostly tales of the past,
And legends rare of his house,
Till she held her breath at the shade fire-cast,
And the scamper-rush of the mouse,
Till she dared not turn her head to see
What shape might stand by her chair--
Till she cried his name, and fled to his knee,
And safely nestled there.
Then they talked of their journey, the city's crowd,
Of the convent's faint joy and pain,
Till the ghosts of the past were laid in the shroud
Of commonplace things again.
So the winter died, and the baby spring,
With hardly voice for a cry,
And hands too weak the signs to bring
That all men might know her by,
Yet woke, and breathed through the soft wet air
The promise of all things dear,
And poets and lovers knew she was there,
And sang to their hearts, 'She is here.'
Soft is the ground underfoot,
Soft are the skies overhead,
Green is the ivy round brown hedge root,
Green is the moss where we tread.
Purple the woods are, and brown;
The blackbird is glossy and sleek,
He knows that the worms are no more kept down
By frost out of reach of his beak.
Grey are the sheep in the fold,
Tired of their turnip and beet,
Dreaming of meadow and pasture and wold,
And turf the warm rain will make sweet.
Leaves sleep, no bud wakens yet,
But we know by the song of the sun,
And the happy way that the world smiles, wet,
That the spring--oh, be glad!--is begun.
What stirs the heart of the tree?
What stirs the seed the earth bears?
What is it stirring in you and in me
Longing for summer, like theirs?--
Longing you cannot explain,
Yearning that baffles me still!
Ah! that each spring should bring longings again
No summer can ever fulfil!
When all the world had echoed the song
That the poet and lover sang,
When 'Glory to spring,' sweet, soft, and strong,
From the ferny woods outrang,
In wet green meadow, in hollow green,
The primrose stars outshone,
And the bluebells balanced their drooping sheen
In copses lovely and lone.
The green earth laughed, full of leaf and flower,
The sky laughed too, full of sun;
Was this the hour for a parting hour,
With the heaven of spring just won?
The woods and fields were echoing
To a chorus of life and bliss.
Oh, hard to sting the face of the spring
With the smart of a parting kiss!
A kinsman ailing, a summons sent
To haste to his dying bed.
'Oh, cruel sentence of banishment!
For my heart says 'Go'!' he said.
'So now good-bye to my home, my dear,
To the spring we watched from its birth;
There is no spring, oh, my sweet, but here,
'Tis winter all over the earth.
'But I come again, oh, spring of my life,
You hold the cord in your hand
That will draw me back, oh, my sweetheart wife,
To the place where your dear feet stand;
But a few short days, and my arms shall be
Once more round your little head,
And you will be weeping glad tears with me
On the grave of our parting, dead!
'I leave you my heart for a short short while,
It will ache if 'tis wrapped in fears;
Keep it safe and warm in the sun of your smile,
Not wet with the rain of your tears.
Be glad of the joy that shall soon be won,
Be glad to-day, though we part;
You shall weep for our parting when parting is done,
And drop your tears on my heart.'
Good-bye, my love, my only dear, I know your heart is true
And that it lingers here with me while mine fares forth with you.
We part? Our hearts are almost one, and are so closely tied
'Tis yours that stirs my bosom-lace, mine beats against your side.
So not at losing you I grieve, since heart and soul stay here,
But all the gladness of my life, I cry to lose it, dear;
Warmth of the sun, sweet of the rose, night's rest and light of day,
I mourn for these, for if you go, you take them all away.
You are sad too--not at leaving me, whose heart must with you go,
But at the heaven you leave behind--ah, yes--you told me so,
You said wherever you might go you could not ever find
A spring so sweet, love so complete, as these you leave behind.
No future joy will ever pay this moment's bitter ache,
Yet I am glad to be so sad, since it is for your sake.
You take so much, I do but wish that you could take the whole,
Could take me, since you take my rest, my light, my joy, my soul.
Oh, love, I leave
This springtide eve,
When woods in sunset shine blood-red;
The long road lies
Before my eyes,
My horse goes on with even tread.
I dare not turn
These eyes that burn
Back to the terrace where you lean;
If I should see
Your tears for me,
I must turn back to dry them, O my queen!
Yet I must go,
Fate has it so,
Duty spoke once, and I obey;
Sadly I rise,
And turn my face the other way.
Nothing is dear
On earth but here,
There is no joy away from you;
What though there be
New things to see,
New friends, new faces, and adventures new?
Yet since I may
Not with you stay,
Hey for the outer world of life!
Brace limbs, shake rein,
And seek again
The hurry, jostle, jar and strife.
Hey for the new!
Yet, love, for you--
I have loved you so--the last hand-kiss.
How vast a world
Lies here unfurled!
How small, if sweet, home's inner round of bliss!
The road bends right,
Leads out of sight,
Here I may turn, nor fear to see;
So far away,
One could not say
If you are weeping now for me.
Behind this eve
My love I leave,
The big bright world spreads out before;
Yet will I come,
To you and home,
Oh, love, and rest beneath your yoke once more.
She stood upon the terrace, gazing still
Down the long road to watch him out of sight,
Dry-eyed at first, until the swelling hill
Hid him. Then turned she to the garden bright,
Whose ways held memories of lover's laughter,
And lover's sadness that had followed after,
Both born of passion's too intense delight.
The garden knew her secrets, and its bowers
Threw her her secrets back in mocking wise;
''Twas here he buried you in lilac flowers.
Here while he slept you covered up his eyes
With primroses. They died; and by that token
Love, like a flower whose stalk has once been broken,
Will live no more for all your tears and sighs.'
The sundial that had marked their happy hours
Cried out to her, 'I know that he is gone;
So many twos have wreathed me round with flowers,
And always one came afterwards alone,
And always wept--even as you are weeping.
The flowers while they lived were cold, shade keeping,
But always through the tears the sun still shone.'
She left the garden; but the house still more
Whispered, 'You love him--he has gone away.'
Where fell her single footstep sighed the floor,
'Another foot than yours fell here to-day.'
The very hound she stroked looked round and past her,
Then in her face, and whined, 'Where is our master?'
The whole house had the same one thing to say.
Empty, without its soul, disconsolate,
The great house was: through all the rooms went she,
And every room was dark and desolate,
Nothing seemed good to do or good to see.
At last, upon the wolf-skins, worn with weeping,
The old nurse found her, like a tired child, sleeping
With face tear-stained, and sobbing brokenly.
Wearily went the days, all sad the same,
Yet each brought its own added heaviness.
Why was it that no letter from him came
To ease the burden of her loneliness?
Why did he send no message, word, or greeting,
To help her forward to their day of meeting,
No written love--no black and white caress?
At last there came a letter, sweet but brief,
'He was so busy--had no time for more.'
No time! She had had time enough for grief,
There never had been so much time before;
And yet the letter lay within her bosom,
Pressed closely to her breathing beauty's blossom,
Worn for a balm, because her heart was sore.
She knew not where he stayed, and so could send,
Of all the letters that she wrote, not one;
Hour after soft spring hour the child would spend
In pouring out her soul, for, once begun,
The tale of all her love and grief flowed over
Upon the letters that she wrote her lover,
And that the fire read when the tale was done.
And yet she never doubted he would come,
If not before, yet when a baby's eyes
Should look for him, when his deserted home
Should waken to a baby's laughs and cries.
'He judges best--perhaps he comes to-morrow,
But come he will, and we shall laugh at sorrow
When in my arms our little baby lies.'
And in the August days a soft hush fell
Upon the house--the old nurse kept her place
Beside the little wife--and all was well;
After rapt anguish came a breathing space,
And she, mid tears and smiles, white-faced, glad-eyed,
Felt her wee baby move against her side,
Kissed its small hands, worshipped its tiny face.
Oh, baby, baby, baby dear,
We lie alone together here;
The snowy gown and cap and sheet
With lavender are fresh and sweet;
Through half-closed blinds the roses peer
To see and love you, baby dear.
We are so tired, we like to lie
Just doing nothing, you and I,
Within the darkened quiet room.
The sun sends dusk rays through the gloom,
Which is no gloom since you are here,
My little life, my baby dear.
Soft sleepy mouth so vaguely pressed
Against your new-made mother's breast,
Soft little hands in mine I fold,
Soft little feet I kiss and hold,
Round soft smooth head and tiny ear,
All mine, my own, my baby dear.
And he we love is far away!
But he will come some happy day.
You need but me, and I can rest
At peace with you beside me pressed.
There are no questions, longings vain,
No murmuring, nor doubt, nor pain,
Only content and we are here,
My baby dear.
While winged Love his pinions folded in the Moat House by the hill,
In the city there was anger, doubt, distrust, and thoughts of ill;
For his kinsmen, hearing rumours of the life the lovers led,
Wept, and wrung their hands, and sorrowed--'Better that the lad were dead
Than to live thus--he, the son of proudest man and noblest earl--
Thus in open sin with her, a nameless, shameless, foreign girl.'
(Ever when they thus lamented, 'twas the open sin they named,
Till one wondered whether sinning, if less frank, had been less blamed.)
''Tis our duty to reclaim him--mate him to a noble bride
Who shall fitly grace his station, and walk stately by his side--
Gently loose him from the fetters of this siren fair and frail
(In such cases time and absence nearly always will prevail).
He shall meet the Duke's fair daughter--perfect, saintly Lady May--
Beauty is the surest beacon to a young man gone astray!
Not at all precipitately, but with judgment sure and fine,
We will rescue and redeem him from his shameful husks and swine.
So--his uncle's long been ailing (gout and dropsy for his sins)--
Let that serve for pretext; hither bring the youth--his cure begins.'
So they summoned him and welcomed, and their utmost efforts bent
To snatch back a brand from burning and a soul from punishment--
Sought to charm him with their feastings, each more sumptuous than the last,
From his yearning recollections of his very sinful past--
Strove to wipe his wicked doings from his memory's blotted
By the chaster, purer interests of the ball-room and the stage.
And for Lady May--they hinted to the girl, child-innocent,
That her hand to save the sinner by her Saviour had been sent,
That her voice might bring his voice her Master's triumph choir to swell,
And might save a man from sorrow and a human soul from hell.
So she used her maiden graces, maiden glances, maiden smiles,
To protect the erring pilgrim from the devil's subtle wiles--
Saw him daily, sent him letters, pious verses by the score,
Every angel's trap she baited with her sweet religious lore--
Ventured all she knew, not knowing that her beauty and her youth
Were far better to bait traps with than her odds and ends of truth.
First he listened, vain and flattered that a girl as fair as she
Should be so distinctly anxious for his lost humanity,
Yet determined no attentions, even from the Lady May,
Should delay his home-returning one unnecessary day.
But as she--heart-wrung with pity for his erring soul--grew kind,
Fainter, fainter grew the image of his sweetheart left behind;
Till one day May spoke of sorrow--prayed him to reform--repent,
Urged the festival in heaven over every penitent;
Bold in ignorance, spoke vaguely and low-toned of sin and shame,
And at last her voice, half breathless, faltered, broke upon his name,
And two tears fell from her lashes on the roses at her breast,
Far more potent in their silence than her preaching at its best.
And his weak soul thrilled and trembled at her beauty, and he cried,
'Not for me those priceless tears: I am your slave--you shall decide.'
'Save your soul,' she sighed. 'Was ever man so tempted, tried, before?
It is yours!' and at the word his soul was lost for evermore.
Never woman pure and saintly did the devil's work so well!
Never soul ensnared for heaven took a surer road to hell!
Lady May had gained her convert, loved him, and was satisfied,
And before the last leaves yellowed she would kneel down as his bride.
She was happy, and he struggled to believe that perfidy
Was repentance--reformation was not one with cruelty,
Yet through all congratulations, friends' smiles, lovers' flatteries,
Lived a gnawing recollection of the lost love harmonies.
In the day he crushed it fiercely, kept it covered out of sight,
But it held him by the heart-strings and came boldly out at night:
In the solemn truthful night his soul shrank shuddering from its lies,
And his base self knew its baseness, and looked full in its false eyes.
In the August nights, when all the sky was deep and toneless blue,
And the gold star-points seemed letting the remembered sunlight through,
When the world was hushed and peaceful in the moonlight's searching white,
He would toss and cast his arms out through the silence and the night
To those eyes that through the night and through the silence came again,
Haunting him with the persistence and the passion of their pain.
'Oh, my little love--my sweetheart--oh, our past--our sweet love-day--
Oh, if I were only true--or you were only Lady May!'
But the sunshine scared the vision, and he rose once more love-warm
To the Lady May's perfections and his own proposed reform.
Coward that he was! he could not write and break that loving heart:
To the worn-out gouty kinsman was assigned that pleasing part.
'Say it kindly,' said her lover, 'always friends--I can't forget--
We must meet no more--but give her tenderest thought and all regret;
Bid her go back to the convent--she and I can't meet as friends--
Offer her a good allowance--any terms to make amends
For what nought could make amends for--for my baseness and my sin.
Oh, I know which side the scale this deed of mine will figure in!
Curse reform!--she may forget me--'tis on me the burdens fall,
For I love her only, solely--not the Lady May at all!'
'Patience,' said the uncle, 'patience, this is but the natural pain
When a young man turns from sinning to the paths of grace again.
Your wild oats are sown--you're plighted to the noble Lady May
(Whose estates adjoin your manor in a providential way).
Do your duty, sir, for surely pangs like these are such as win
Pardon and the heavenly blessing on the sinner weaned from sin.'
Day is fair, and so is she
Whom so soon I wed;
But the night, when memory
Guards my sleepless bed,
And with cold hands brings once more
Thorns from rose-sweet days of yore--
Night I curse and dread.
Day is sweet, as sweet as her
But the night, when near me stir
Rustlings of a dress,
Echoes of a loving tone
Now renounced, forsworn, foregone,
Night is bitterness.
Day can stir my blood like wine
Or her beauty's fire,
But at night I burn and pine,
Torture, turn and tire,
With a longing that is pain,
Just to kiss and clasp again
Love's one lost desire.
Day is glad and pure and bright,
Pure, glad, bright as she;
But the sad and guilty night
Outlives day--for me.
Oh, for days when day and night
Equal balance of delight
Were alike to me!
In the day I see my feet
Walk in steadfast wise,
Following my lady sweet
To her Paradise,
Like some stray-recovered lamb;
But I see the beast I am
When the night stars rise.
Yet in wedding day there lies
Magic--so they say;
Ghosts will have no chance to rise
Near my Lady May.
Vain the hope! In good or ill
Those lost eyes will haunt me still
Till my dying day.
Quickly died the August roses, and the kin of Lady May
Dowered her richly, blessed her freely, and announced her wedding day;
And his yearnings and remorses fainter grew as days went on
'Neath the magic of the beauty of the woman he had won;
And less often and less strongly was his fancy caught and crossed
By remembrance of the dearness of the woman he had lost.
Long sweet mornings in the boudoir where the flowers stood about,
Whisperings in the balcony when stars and London lamps came out,
Concerts, flower shows, garden parties, balls and dinners, rides and drives,
All the time-killing distractions of these fashionable lives;
Dreary, joyless as a desert, pleasure's everlasting way,
But enchantment can make lovely even deserts, so they say,
Sandy waste, or waste of London season, where no green leaf grows,
Shone on but by love or passion, each will blossom like the rose!
Came no answer to the letter that announced his marriage day;
But his people wrote that Lady Ladybird had gone away.
So he sent to bid get ready to receive his noble wife.
Two such loving women granted to one man, and in one life!
Though he shuddered to remember with what ghosts the Moat House swarmed--
Ghosts of lovely days and dreamings ere the time when he reformed--
Yet he said, 'She cannot surely greatly care, or I had heard
Some impulsive, passionate pleading, had some sorrowing written word;
She has journeyed to her convent--will be glad as ere I came,
Through her beauty's dear enchantment, to a life of shameless shame;
And the memories of her dearness passion's flaming sword shall slay,
When the Moat House sees the bridal of myself and Lady May!'
Bright the mellow autumn sunshine glows upon the wedding day;
Lawns are swept from leaves, and doorways are wreathed round with garlands gay,
Flowery arches span the carriage drive from grass again to grass,
Flowers are ready for the flinging when the wedded pair shall pass;
Bells are ringing, clanging, clamouring from the belfry 'mid the trees,
And the sound rings out o'er woodlands, parks and gardens, lawns and leas;
All the village gay with banners waits the signal, 'Here they come!'
To strew flowers, wave hats, drop curtseys, and hurra its 'Welcome home!'
At the gates the very griffins on the posts are wreathed with green.
In their ordered lines wait servants for the pair to pass between;
But among them there is missing more than one familiar face,
And new faces, blank expectant, fill up each vacated place,
And the other servants whisper, 'Nurse would wail to see this day,
It was well she left the service when 'my Lady' ran away.'
Louder, clearer ring the joy-bells through the shaken, shattered air,
Till the echoes of them waken in the hillside far and fair;
Level shine the golden sunbeams in the golden afternoon.
In the east the wan ghost rises of the silver harvest moon.
Hark! wheels was it? No, but fancy. Listen! No--yes--can you hear?
Yes, it is the coming carriage rolling nearer and more near!
Till the horse-hoofs strike the roadway, unmistakable and clear!
They are coming! shout your welcome to my lord and lady fair:
May God shower his choicest blessings on the happy wedded pair!
Here they are! the open carriage and surrounding dusty cloud,
Whence he smiles his proud acceptance of the homage of the crowd;
And my lady's sweet face! Bless her! there's a one will help the poor,
Eyes like those could never turn a beggar helpless from her door!
Welcome, welcome! scatter flowers: see, they smile--bow left and right,
Reach the lodge gates--God of heaven! what was that, the flash of white?
Shehas sprung out from the ambush of the smiling, cheering crowd:
'Fling your flowers--here's my welcome!' sharp the cry rings out and loud.
Sudden sight of wild white face, and haggard eyes, and outstretched hands--
Just one heart-beat's space before the bridal pair that figure stands,
Then the horses, past controlling, forward bound, their hoofs down thrust--
And the carriage wheels jolt over something bloody in the dust.
'Stop her! Stop her! Stop the horses!' cry the people all too late,
For my lord and Lady May have had their welcome at their gate.
'Twas the old nurse who sprang to her, raised the brown-haired, dust-soiled head,
Looked a moment, closed the eyelids--then turned to my lord and said,
Kneeling still upon the roadway, with her arm flung round the dead,
While the carriage waited near her, blood and dust upon its wheels
(Ask my lord within to tell you how a happy bridegroom feels):
'Now, my lord, you are contented; you have chosen for your bride
This same fine and dainty lady who is sitting by your side.
Did ye tell her ere this bridal of the girl who bore your shame,
Bore your love-vows--bore your baby--everything except your name?
When they strewed the flowers to greet you, and the banners were unfurled,
She has flung before your feet the sweetest flower in all the world!
Woe's the day I ever nursed you--loved your lisping baby word,
For you grew to name of manhood, and to title of my lord;
Woe's the day you ever saw her, brought her home to wreck her life,
Throwing by your human plaything, to seek out another wife.
God will judge, and I would rather be the lost child lying there,
With your babe's milk in her bosom, your horse-hoof marks on her hair,
Than be you when God shall thunder, when your days on earth are filled,
'Where is she I gave, who loved you, whom you ruined, left and killed?'
Murderer, liar, coward, traitor, look upon your work and say
That your heart is glad within you on your happy wedding day!
And for you, my noble lady, take my blessing on your head,
Though it is not like the blessing maidens look for when they wed.
Never bride had such a welcome, such a flower laid on her way,
As was given you when your carriage crushed her out of life to-day.
Take my blessing--see her body, see what you and he have done--
And I wish you joy, my lady, of the bridegroom you have won.'
Like a beaten cur, that trembles at the whistling of the lash,
He stands listening, hands a-tremble, face as pale as white wood ash;
But the Lady May springs down, her soul shines glorious in her eyes,
Moving through the angry silence comes to where the other lies,
Gazes long upon her silent, but at last she turns her gaze
On the nurse, and lips a-tremble, hands outstretched, she slowly says,
'She is dead--but, but her baby--' all her woman's heart is wild
With an infinite compassion for the little helpless child.
Then she turns to snatch the baby from the arms of one near by,
Holds it fast and looks towards him with a voiceless bitter cry,
As imploring him to loose her from some nightmare's deadly bands.
Dogged looks he down and past her, and she sees and understands,
Then she speaks--'I keep your baby--that's my right in sight of men,
But by God I vow I'll never see your dastard face again.'
So she turned with no word further towards the purple-clouded west,
And passed thither with his baby clasped against her maiden breast.
Little Ladybird was buried in the old ancestral tomb.
From that grave there streams a shadow that wraps up his life in gloom,
And he drags the withered life on, longs for death that will not come,
The interminable night hours riven by that 'Welcome home!'
And he dares not leave this earthly hell of sharp remorse behind,
Lest through death not rest but hotter fire of anguish he should find.
Coward to the last, he will not risk so little for so much,
So he burns, convicted traitor, in the hell self-made of such:
And at night he wakes and shivers with unvanquishable dread
At the ghosts that press each other for a place beside his bed,
And he shudders to remember all the dearness that is dead.
I had a soul,
Not strong, but following good if good but led.
I might have kept it clean and pure and whole,
And given it up at last, grown strong with days
Of steadfast striving in truth's stern sweet ways;
Instead, I soiled and smutched and smothered it
With poison-flowers it valued not one whit--
Now it is dead.
I had a heart
Most true, most sweet, that on my loving fed.
I might have kept her all my life, a part
Of all my life--I let her starve and pine,
Ruined her life and desolated mine.
Sin brushed my lips--I yielded at a touch,
Tempted so little, and I sinned so much,
And she is dead.
There was a life
That in my sin I took and chained and wed,
And made--perpetual remorse!--my wife.
In my sin's harvest she must reap her share,
That makes its sheaves less light for me to bear.
Oh, life I might have left to bloom and grow!
I struck its root of happiness one blow,
And it is dead.
Once joy I had,
Now I have only agony instead,
That maddens, yet will never send me mad.
The best that comes is numbed half-sick despair,
Remembering how sweet the dear dead were.
My whole life might have been one clear joy song!
Now--oh, my heart, how still life is, how long,
For joy is dead.
Yet there is this:
I chose the thorns not grapes, the stones not bread;
I had my chance, they say, to gain or miss.
And yet I feel it was predestinate
From the first hour, from the first dawn of fate,
That I, thus placed, when that hour should arise,
Must act thus, and could not act otherwise.
This is the worst of all that can be said;
For hope is dead.