The Weakest Thing
Which is the weakest thing of all
Mine heart can ponder?
The sun, a little cloud can pall
With darkness yonder?
The cloud, a little wind can move
Where'er it listeth?
The wind, a little leaf above,
Though sere, resisteth?
What time that yellow leaf was green,
My days were gladder;
But now, whatever Spring may mean,
I must grow sadder.
Ah me! a leaf with sighs can wring
My lips asunder -
Then is mine heart the weakest thing
Itself can ponder.
Yet, Heart, when sun and cloud are pined
And drop together,
And at a blast, which is not wind,
The forests wither,
Thou, from the darkening deathly curse
To glory breakest, -
The Strongest of the universe
Guarding the weakest!
Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them --
The summer flowers depart --
Sit still -- as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.
How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.
Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!
The dearest hands that clasp our hands, --
Their presence may be o'er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh'd our mind,
Shall come -- as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.
Hear not the wind -- view not the woods;
Look out o'er vale and hill-
In spring, the sky encircled them --
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn's scathe -- come winter's cold --
Come change -- and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne'er be desolate.
The House Of Clouds
I would build a cloudy House
For my thoughts to live in;
When for earth too fancy-loose
And too low for Heaven!
Hush! I talk my dream aloud---
I build it bright to see,---
I build it on the moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with thee.
Cloud-walls of the morning's grey,
Faced with amber column,---
Crowned with crimson cupola
From a sunset solemn!
May mists, for the casements, fetch,
Pale and glimmering;
With a sunbeam hid in each,
And a smell of spring.
Build the entrance high and proud,
Darkening and then brightening,---
If a riven thunder-cloud,
Veined by the lightning.
Use one with an iris-stain,
For the door within;
Turning to a sound like rain,
As I enter in.
Build a spacious hall thereby:
Boldly, never fearing.
Use the blue place of the sky,
Which the wind is clearing;
Branched with corridors sublime,
Flecked with winding stairs---
Such as children wish to climb,
Following their own prayers.
In the mutest of the house,
I will have my chamber:
Silence at the door shall use
Evening's light of amber,
Solemnising every mood,
Softemng in degree,---
Turning sadness into good,
As I turn the key.
Be my chamber tapestried
With the showers of summer,
Close, but soundless,---glorified
When the sunbeams come here;
Wandering harpers, harping on
Waters stringed for such,---
Drawing colours, for a tune,
With a vibrant touch.
Bring a shadow green and still
From the chestnut forest,
Bring a purple from the hill,
When the heat is sorest;
Spread them out from wall to wall,
Whereupon the foot shall fall
In light instead of sound.
Bring the fantasque cloudlets home
From the noontide zenith
Ranged, for sculptures, round the room,---
Named as Fancy weeneth:
Some be Junos, without eyes;
Naiads, without sources
Some be birds of paradise,---
Some, Olympian horses.
Bring the dews the birds shake off,
Waking in the hedges,---
Those too, perfumed for a proof,
From the lilies' edges:
From our England's field and moor,
Bring them calm and white in;
Whence to form a mirror pure,
For Love's self-delighting.
Bring a grey cloud from the east,
Where the lark is singing;
Something of the song at least,
Unlost in the bringing:
That shall be a morning chair,
Poet-dream may sit in,
When it leans out on the air,
Unrhymed and unwritten.
Bring the red cloud from the sun
While he sinketh, catch it.
That shall be a couch,---with one
Sidelong star to watch it,---
Fit for poet's finest Thought,
At the curfew-sounding,--- ;
Things unseen being nearer brought
Than the seen, around him.
Poet's thought,----not poet's sigh!
'Las, they come together!
Cloudy walls divide and fly,
As in April weather!
Cupola and column proud,
Structure bright to see---
Gone---except that moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with thee!
Let them! Wipe such visionings
From the Fancy's cartel---
Love secures some fairer things
Dowered with his immortal.
The sun may darken,---heaven be bowed---
But still, unchanged shall be,---
Here in my soul,---that moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with THEE!
To Flush, My Dog
Loving friend, the gift of one
Who her own true faith has run
Through thy lower nature,
Be my benediction said
With my hand upon thy head,
Like a lady's ringlets brown,
Flow thy silken ears adown
Either side demurely
Of thy silver-suited breast
Shining out from all the rest
Of thy body purely.
Darkly brown thy body is,
Till the sunshine striking this
Alchemise its dullness,
When the sleek curls manifold
Flash all over into gold
With a burnished fulness.
Underneath my stroking hand,
Startled eyes of hazel bland
Kindling, growing larger,
Up thou leapest with a spring,
Full of prank and curveting,
Leaping like a charger.
Leap! thy broad tail waves a light,
Leap! thy slender feet are bright,
Canopied in fringes;
Leap! those tasselled ears of thine
Flicker strangely, fair and fine
Down their golden inches
Yet, my pretty, sportive friend,
Little is't to such an end
That I praise thy rareness;
Other dogs may be thy peers
Haply in these drooping ears
And this glossy fairness.
But of thee it shall be said,
This dog watched beside a bed
Day and night unweary,
Watched within a curtained room
Where no sunbeam brake the gloom
Round the sick and dreary.
Roses, gathered for a vase,
In that chamber died apace,
Beam and breeze resigning;
This dog only, waited on,
Knowing that when light is gone
Love remains for shining.
Other dogs in thymy dew
Tracked the hares and followed through
Sunny moor or meadow;
This dog only, crept and crept
Next a languid cheek that slept,
Sharing in the shadow.
Other dogs of loyal cheer
Bounded at the whistle clear,
Up the woodside hieing;
This dog only, watched in reach
Of a faintly uttered speech
Or a louder sighing.
And if one or two quick tears
Dropped upon his glossy ears
Or a sigh came double,
Up he sprang in eager haste,
Fawning, fondling, breathing fast,
In a tender trouble.
And this dog was satisfied
If a pale thin hand would glide
Down his dewlaps sloping, -
Which he pushed his nose within,
After, - platforming his chin
On the palm left open.
This dog, if a friendly voice
Call him now to blither choice
Than such chamber-keeping,
'Come out! ' praying from the door, -
Presseth backward as before,
Up against me leaping.
Therefore to this dog will I,
Tenderly not scornfully,
Render praise and favor:
With my hand upon his head,
Is my benediction said
Therefore and for ever.
And because he loves me so,
Better than his kind will do
Often man or woman,
Give I back more love again
Than dogs often take of men,
Leaning from my Human.
Blessings on thee, dog of mine,
Pretty collars make thee fine,
Sugared milk make fat thee!
Pleasures wag on in thy tail,
Hands of gentle motion fail
Nevermore, to pat thee
Downy pillow take thy head,
Silken coverlid bestead,
Sunshine help thy sleeping!
No fly's buzzing wake thee up,
No man break thy purple cup
Set for drinking deep in.
Whiskered cats arointed flee,
Sturdy stoppers keep from thee
Nuts lie in thy path for stones,
And thy feast-day macaroons
Turn to daily rations!
Mock I thee, in wishing weal? -
Tears are in my eyes to feel
Thou art made so straitly,
Blessing needs must straiten too, -
Little canst thou joy or do,
Thou who lovest greatly.
Yet be blessed to the height
Of all good and all delight
Pervious to thy nature;
Only loved beyond that line,
With a love that answers thine,
The Deserted Garden
I mind me in the days departed,
How often underneath the sun
With childish bounds I used to run
To a garden long deserted.
The beds and walks were vanished quite;
And wheresoe'er had struck the spade,
The greenest grasses Nature laid
To sanctify her right.
I called the place my wilderness,
For no one entered there but I;
The sheep looked in, the grass to espy,
And passed it ne'ertheless.
The trees were interwoven wild,
And spread their boughs enough about
To keep both sheep and shepherd out,
But not a happy child.
Adventurous joy it was for me!
I crept beneath the boughs, and found
A circle smooth of mossy ground
Beneath a poplar tree.
Old garden rose-trees hedged it in,
Bedropt with roses waxen-white
Well satisfied with dew and light
And careless to be seen.
Long years ago it might befall,
When all the garden flowers were trim,
The grave old gardener prided him
On these the most of all.
Some lady, stately overmuch,
Here moving with a silken noise,
Has blushed beside them at the voice
That likened her to such.
And these, to make a diadem,
She often may have plucked and twined,
Half-smiling as it came to mind
That few would look at them.
Oh, little thought that lady proud,
A child would watch her fair white rose,
When buried lay her whiter brows,
And silk was changed for shroud!
Nor thought that gardener, (full of scorns
For men unlearned and simple phrase,)
A child would bring it all its praise
By creeping through the thorns!
To me upon my low moss seat,
Though never a dream the roses sent
Of science or love's compliment,
I ween they smelt as sweet.
It did not move my grief to see
The trace of human step departed:
Because the garden was deserted,
The blither place for me!
Friends, blame me not! a narrow ken
Has childhood 'twixt the sun and sward;
We draw the moral afterward,
We feel the gladness then.
And gladdest hours for me did glide
In silence at the rose-tree wall:
A thrush made gladness musical
Upon the other side.
Nor he nor I did e'er incline
To peck or pluck the blossoms white;
How should I know but roses might
Lead lives as glad as mine?
To make my hermit-home complete,
I brought dear water from the spring
Praised in its own low murmuring,
And cresses glossy wet.
And so, I thought, my likeness grew
(Without the melancholy tale)
To 'Gentle Hermit of the Dale,'
And Angelina too.
For oft I read within my nook
Such minstrel stories; till the breeze
Made sounds poetic in the trees,
And then I shut the book.
If I shut this wherein I write
I hear no more the wind athwart
Those trees, nor feel that childish heart
Delighting in delight.
My childhood from my life is parted,
My footstep from the moss which drew
Its fairy circle round: anew
The garden is deserted.
Another thrush may there rehearse
The madrigals which sweetest are;
No more for me! myself afar
Do sing a sadder verse.
Ah me, ah me! when erst I lay
In that child's-nest so greenly wrought,
I laughed unto myself and thought
'The time will pass away.'
And still I laughed, and did not fear
But that, whene'er was past away
The childish time, some happier play
My womanhood would cheer.
I knew the time would pass away,
And yet, beside the rose-tree wall,
Dear God, how seldom, if at all,
Did I look up to pray!
The time is past; and now that grows
The cypress high among the trees,
And I behold white sepulchres
As well as the white rose, --
When graver, meeker thoughts are given,
And I have learnt to lift my face,
Reminded how earth's greenest place
The color draws from heaven, --
It something saith for earthly pain,
But more for Heavenly promise free,
That I who was, would shrink to be
That happy child again.
The face, which, duly as the sun,
Rose up for me with life begun,
To mark all bright hours of the day
With hourly love, is dimmed away—
And yet my days go on, go on.
The tongue which, like a stream, could run
Smooth music from the roughest stone,
And every morning with ' Good day'
Make each day good, is hushed away,
And yet my days go on, go on.
The heart which, like a staff, was one
For mine to lean and rest upon,
The strongest on the longest day
With steadfast love, is caught away,
And yet my days go on, go on.
And cold before my summer's done,
And deaf in Nature's general tune,
And fallen too low for special fear,
And here, with hope no longer here,
While the tears drop, my days go on.
The world goes whispering to its own,
‘This anguish pierces to the bone;’
And tender friends go sighing round,
‘What love can ever cure this wound ?'
My days go on, my days go on.
The past rolls forward on the sun
And makes all night. O dreams begun,
Not to be ended! Ended bliss,
And life that will not end in this!
My days go on, my days go on.
Breath freezes on my lips to moan:
As one alone, once not alone,
I sit and knock at Nature's door,
Heart-bare, heart-hungry, very poor,
Whose desolated days go on.
I knock and cry, —Undone, undone!
Is there no help, no comfort, —none?
No gleaning in the wide wheat plains
Where others drive their loaded wains?
My vacant days go on, go on.
This Nature, though the snows be down,
Thinks kindly of the bird of June:
The little red hip on the tree
Is ripe for such. What is for me,
Whose days so winterly go on?
No bird am I, to sing in June,
And dare not ask an equal boon.
Good nests and berries red are Nature's
To give away to better creatures, —
And yet my days go on, go on.
I ask less kindness to be done, —
Only to loose these pilgrim shoon,
(Too early worn and grimed) with sweet
Cool deadly touch to these tired feet.
Till days go out which now go on.
Only to lift the turf unmown
From off the earth where it has grown,
Some cubit-space, and say ‘Behold,
Creep in, poor Heart, beneath that fold,
Forgetting how the days go on.’
What harm would that do? Green anon
The sward would quicken, overshone
By skies as blue; and crickets might
Have leave to chirp there day and night
While my new rest went on, went on.
From gracious Nature have I won
Such liberal bounty? may I run
So, lizard-like, within her side,
And there be safe, who now am tried
By days that painfully go on?
—A Voice reproves me thereupon,
More sweet than Nature's when the drone
Of bees is sweetest, and more deep
Than when the rivers overleap
The shuddering pines, and thunder on.
God's Voice, not Nature's! Night and noon
He sits upon the great white throne
And listens for the creatures' praise.
What babble we of days and days?
The Day-spring He, whose days go on.
He reigns above, He reigns alone;
Systems burn out and have his throne;
Fair mists of seraphs melt and fall
Around Him, changeless amid all,
Ancient of Days, whose days go on.
He reigns below, He reigns alone,
And, having life in love forgone
Beneath the crown of sovran thorns,
He reigns the Jealous God. Who mourns
Or rules with Him, while days go on?
By anguish which made pale the sun,
I hear Him charge his saints that none
Among his creatures anywhere
Blaspheme against Him with despair,
However darkly days go on.
Take from my head the thorn-wreath brown!
No mortal grief deserves that crown.
O supreme Love, chief misery,
The sharp regalia are for Thee
Whose days eternally go on!
For us, —whatever's undergone,
Thou knowest, willest what is done,
Grief may be joy misunderstood;
Only the Good discerns the good.
I trust Thee while my days go on.
Whatever's lost, it first was won;
We will not struggle nor impugn.
Perhaps the cup was broken here,
That Heaven's new wine might show more clear.
I praise Thee while my days go on.
I praise Thee while my days go on;
I love Thee while my days go on:
Through dark and dearth, through fire and frost,
With emptied arms and treasure lost,
I thank Thee while my days go on.
And having in thy life-depth thrown
Being and suffering (which are one),
As a child drops his pebble small
Down some deep well, and hears it fall
Smiling—so I. THY DAYS GO ON.