Contrasted Songs: Song For The Night Of Christ's Resurrection

(A Humble Imitation)
'And birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.'

It is the noon of night,
And the world's Great Light
Gone out, she widow-like doth carry her:
The moon hath veiled her face,
Nor looks on that dread place
Where He lieth dead in sealed sepulchre;
And heaven and hades, emptied, lend
Their flocking multitudes to watch and wait the end.
Tier above tier they rise,
Their wings new line the skies,
And shed out comforting light among the stars;
But they of the other place
The heavenly signs deface,
The gloomy brand of hell their brightness mars;
Yet high they sit in throned state,-

Old Albion sat on a crag of late,
And sung out—'Ahoy! ahoy!
Long life to the captain, good luck to the mate,
And this to my sailor boy!
Come over, come home,
Through the salt sea foam,
My sailor, my sailor boy.

'Here's a crown to be given away, I ween,
A crown for my sailor's head,
And all for the worth of a widowed queen,
And the love of the noble dead,
And the fear and fame
Of the island's name
Where my boy was born and bred.

'Content thee, content thee, let it alone,
Thou marked for a choice so rare;
Though treaties be treaties, never a throne
Was proffered for cause as fair.
Yet come to me home,
Through the salt sea foam,
For the Greek must ask elsewhere.

' 'T is pity, my sailor, but who can tell?
Many lands they look to me;
One of these might be wanting a Prince as well,
But that's as hereafter may be.
She raised her white head
And laughed; and she said
'That's as hereafter may be.'

Come up the broad river, the Thames, my Dane,
My Dane with the beautiful eyes!
Thousands and thousands await thee full fain,
And talk of the wind and the skies.
Fear not from folk and from country to part,
O, I swear it is wisely done:
For (I said) I will bear me by thee, sweetheart,
As becometh my father's son.

Great London was shouting as I went down.
'She is worthy,' I said, 'of this;
What shall I give who have promised a crown?
O, first I will give her a kiss.'
So I kissed her and brought her, my Dane, my Dane,
Through the waving wonderful crowd:
Thousands and thousands, they shouted amain,
Like mighty thunders and loud.

And they said, 'He is young, the lad we love,
The heir of the Isles is young:
How we deem of his mother, and one gone above,
Can neither be said nor sung.

He brings us a pledge—he will do his part
With the best of his race and name;'—
And I will, for I look to live, sweetheart,
As may suit with my mother's fame.

Old Albion sat on a crag of late.
And sang out-'Ahoy! ahoy!
Long, life to the captain, good luck to the mate.
And this to my sailor boy!
Come over, come home,
Through the salt sea foam,
My sailor, my sailor boy.

'Here's a crown to be given away, I ween,
A crown for my sailor's head,
And all for the worth of a widowed queen,
And the love of the noble dead;
And the fear and fame
Of the island's name
Where my boy was born and bred.

'Content thee, content thee, let it alone,
Thou marked for a choice so rare;
Though treaties be treaties, never a throne
Was proffered for cause as fair.
Yet come to me home,
Through the salt sea foam,
For the Greek must ask elsewhere.

''Tis a pity, my sailor, but who can tell?
Many lands they look to me;
One of these might be wanting a Prince as well,
But that's as hereafter may be.'
She raised her white head
And laughed; and she said
'That's as hereafter may be.'

Contrasted Songs: Song Of The Going Away

“Old man, upon the green hillside,
With yellow flowers besprinkled o’er,
How long in silence wilt thou bide
At this low stone door?

“I stoop: within ’tis dark and still;
But shadowy paths methinks there be,
And lead they far into the hill?”
“Traveller, come and see.”

“’Tis dark, ’tis cold, and hung with gloom;
I care not now within to stay;
For thee and me is scarcely room,
I will hence away.”

“Not so, not so, thou youthful guest,
Thy foot shall issue forth no more:
Behold the chamber of thy rest,
And the closing door!”

“O, have I ’scaped the whistling ball,
And striven on smoky fields of fight,
And scaled the ’leaguered city’s wall
In the dangerous night;

“And borne my life unharméd still
Through foaming gulfs of yeasty spray,
To yield it on a grassy hill
At the noon of day?”

“Peace! Say thy prayers, and go to sleep,
Till some time, ONE my seal shall break,
And deep shall answer unto deep,
When He crieth, ‘AWAKE!’”

Song Of The Old Love

When sparrows build, and the leaves break forth,
My old sorrow wakes and cries,
For I know there is dawn in the far, far north,
And a scarlet sun doth rise;
Like a scarlet fleece the snow-field spreads,
And the icy founts run free,
And the bergs begin to bow their heads,
And plunge, and sail in the sea.

O my lost love, and my own, own love,
And my love that loved me so!
Is there never a chink in the world above
Where they listen for words from below?
Nay, I spoke once, and I grieved thee sore,
I remember all that I said,
And now thou wilt hear me no more - no more
Till the sea gives up her dead.

Thou didst set thy foot on the ship, and sail
To the ice-fields and the snow;
Thou wert sad, for thy love did naught avail,
And the end I could not know;
How could I tell I should love thee to-day,
Whom that day I held not dear?
How could I know I should love thee away
When I did not love thee anear?

We shall walk no more through the sodden plain
With the faded bents o'erspread,
We shall stand no more by the seething main
While the dark wrack drives o'erhead;
We shall part no more in the wind and the rain,
Where thy last farewell was said;
But perhaps I shall meet thee and know thee again
When the sea gives up her dead.

Came the dread Archer up yonder lawn —
Night is the time for the old to die —
But woe for an arrow that smote the fawn,
When the hind that was sick unscathed went by.

Father lay moaning, Her fault was sore
(Night is the time when the old must die),
Yet, ah to bless her, my child, once more,
For heart is failing: the end is nigh.

Daughter, my daughter, my girl, I cried
(Night is the time for the old to die)
Woe for the wish if till morn ye bide —
Dark was the welkin and wild the sky.

Heavily plunged from the roof the snow —
(Night is the time when the old will die),
She answered, My mother, 'tis well, I go.
Sparkled the north star, the wrack flew high.

First at his head, and last at his feet
(Night is the time when the old should die),
Kneeling I watched till his soul did fleet,
None else that loved him, none else were nigh.

I wept in the night as the desolate weep
(Night is the time for the old to die),
Cometh my daughter? the drifts are deep,
Across the cold hollows how white they lie.

I sought her afar through the spectral trees
(Night is the time when the old must die),
The fells were all muffled, the floods did freeze,
And a wrathful moon hung red in the sky.

By night I found her where pent waves steal
(Night is the time when the old should die),
But she lay stiff by the locked mill-wheel,
And the old stars lived in their homes on high.

A Song In Three Parts


The white broom flatt'ring her flowers in calm June weather,
'O most sweet wear;
Forty-eight weeks of my life do none desire me,
Four am I fair,'

Quoth the brown bee
'In thy white wear
Four thou art fair.
A mystery
Of honeyed snow
In scented air
The bee lines flow
Straight unto thee.
Great boon and bliss
All pure I wis,
And sweet to grow
Ay, so to give
That many live.
Now as for me,
I,' quoth the bee,
'Have not to give,
Through long hours sunny
Gathering I live:
Aye debonair
Sailing sweet air
After my fare,
Bee-bread and honey.
In thy deep coombe,
O thou white broom,
Where no leaves shake,
Bent nor clover,
I a glad rover,
Thy calms partake,
While winds of might
From height to height
Go bodily over.
Till slanteth light,
And up the rise
Thy shadow lies,
A shadow of white,
A beauty-lender
Pathetic, tender.

Short is thy day?
Answer with 'Nay,'
Longer the hours
That wear thy flowers
Than all dull, cold
Years manifold
That gift withhold.
A long liver,
O honey-giver,
Thou by all showing
Art made, bestowing,
I envy not
Thy greater lot,
Nor thy white wear.
But, as for me,
I,' quoth the bee,
'Never am fair.'


The nightingale lorn of his note in darkness brooding
Deeply and long,
'Two sweet months spake the heart to the heart. Alas! all's over,
O lost my song.'

One in the tree,
'Hush now! Let be:
The song at ending
Left my long tending
Over als

Songs With Preludes: Dominion

When found the rose delight in her fair hue?
Color is nothing to this world; ’tis I
That see it. Farther, I have found, my soul,
That trees are nothing to their fellow trees;
It is but I that love their stateliness,
And I that, comforting my heart, do sit
At noon beneath their shadow. I will step
On the ledges of this world, for it is mine;
But the other world ye wot of, shall go too;
I will carry it in my bosom. O my world,
That was not built with clay!
Consider it
(This outer world we tread on) as a harp,—­
A gracious instrument on whose fair strings
We learn those airs we shall be set to play
When mortal hours are ended. Let the wings,
Man, of thy spirit move on it as wind,
And draw forth melody. Why shouldst thou yet
Lie grovelling? More is won than e’er was lost:
Inherit. Let thy day be to thy night
A teller of good tidings. Let thy praise
Go up as birds go up that, when they wake,
Shake off the dew and soar.
So take Joy home,
And make a place in thy great heart for her,
And give her time to grow, and cherish her;
Then will she come, and oft will sing to thee,
When thou art working in the furrows; ay,
Or weeding in the sacred hour of dawn.
It is a comely fashion to be glad,—­
Joy is the grace we say to God.
Art tired?
There is a rest remaining. Hast thou sinned?
There is a Sacrifice. Lift up thy head,
The lovely world, and the over-world alike,
Ring with a song eterne, a happy rede,

Yon mooréd mackerel fleet
Hangs thick as a swarm of bees,
Or a clustering village street
Foundationless built on the seas.

The mariners ply their craft,
Each set in his castle frail;
His care is all for the draught,
And he dries the rain-beaten sail.

For rain came down in the night,
And thunder muttered full oft,
But now the azure is bright.
And hawks are wheeling aloft.

I take the land to my breast,
In her coat with daisies fine;
For me are the hills in their best,
And all that’s made is mine.

Sing high! “Though the red sun dip,
There yet is a day for me;
Nor youth I count for a ship
That long ago foundered at sea.

“Did the lost love die and depart?
Many times since we have met;
For I hold the years in my heart,
And all that was—­is yet.

“I grant to the king his reign;
Let us yield him homage due;
But over the lands there are twain,
O king, I must rule as you.

“I grant to the wise his meed,
But his yoke I will not brook,
For God taught ME to read,—­
He lent me the world for a book.'

Songs Of The Voices Of Birds: A Poet In His Youth, And The Cuckoo-Bird

Once upon a time, I lay
Fast asleep at dawn of day;
Windows open to the south,
Fancy pouting her sweet mouth
To my ear.
She turned a globe
In her slender hand, her robe
Was all spangled; and she said,
As she sat at my bed’s head,
“Poet, poet, what, asleep!
Look! the ray runs up the steep
To your roof.” Then in the golden
Essence of romances olden,
Bathed she my entrancéd heart.
And she gave a hand to me,
Drew me onward, “Come!” said she;
And she moved with me apart,
Down the lovely vale of Leisure.

Such its name was, I heard say,
For some Fairies trooped that way;
Common people of the place,
Taking their accustomed pleasure,
(All the clocks being stopped) to race
Down the slope on palfreys fleet.
Bridle bells made tinkling sweet;
And they said, “What signified
Faring home till eventide:
There were pies on every shelf,
And the bread would bake itself.”
But for that I cared not, fed,
As it were, with angels’ bread,
Sweet as honey; yet next day
All foredoomed to melt away;
Gone before the sun waxed hot,
Melted manna that was not.

Rock-doves’ poetry of plaint,
Or the starling’s courtship quaint,
Heart made much of; ’twas a boon
Won from silence, and too soon
Wasted in the ample air:
Building rooks far distant were.
Scarce at all would speak the rills,
And I saw the idle hills,
In their amber hazes deep,
Fold themselves and go to sleep,
Though it was not yet high noon.

Silence? Rather music brought
From the spheres! As if a thought,
Having taken wings, did fly
Through the reaches of the sky.
Silence? No, a sumptuous sigh
That had found embodiment,
That had come across the deep
After months of wintry sleep,
And with tender heavings went
Floating up the firmament.

“O,” I mourned, half slumbering yet,
“’Tis the voice of my regret,—­
Mine!” and I awoke. Full sweet
Saffron sunbeams did me greet;
And the voice it spake again,
Dropped from yon blue cup of light
Or some cloudlet swan’s-down white
On my soul, that drank full fain
The sharp joy—­the sweet pain—­
Of its clear, right innocent,
Unreprovéd discontent.

How it came—­where it went—­
Who can tell? The open blue
Quivered with it, and I, too,
Trembled. I remembered me
Of the springs that used to be,
When a dimpled white-haired child,
Shy and tender and half wild,
In the meadows I had heard
Some way off the talking bird,
And had felt it marvellous sweet,
For it laughed: it did me greet,
Calling me: yet, hid away
In the woods, it would not play.

And all the world about,
While a man will work or sing,
Or a child pluck flowers of spring,
Thou wilt scatter music out,
Rouse him with thy wandering note,
Changeful fancies set afloat,
Almost tell with thy clear throat,
But not quite,—­the wonder-rife,
Most sweet riddle, dark and dim,
That he searcheth all his life,
Searcheth yet, and ne’er expoundeth;
And so winnowing of thy wings,
Touch and trouble his heart’s strings.
That a certain music soundeth
In that wondrous instrument,
With a trembling upward sent,
That is reckoned sweet above
By the Greatness surnamed Love.

“O, I hear thee in the blue;
Would that I might wing it too!
O to have what hope hath seen!
O to be what might have been!

“O to set my life, sweet bird,
To a tune that oft I heard
When I used to stand alone
Listening to the lovely moan
Of the swaying pines o’erhead,
While, a-gathering of bee-bread
For their living, murmured round,
As the pollen dropped to ground,
All the nations from the hives;
And the little brooding wives
On each nest, brown dusky things,
Sat with gold-dust on their wings.
Then beyond (more sweet than all)
Talked the tumbling waterfall;
And there were, and there were not
(As might fall, and form anew
Bell-hung drops of honey-dew)
Echoes of—­I know not what;
As if some right-joyous elf,
While about his own affairs,
Whistled softly otherwheres.
Nay, as if our mother dear,
Wrapped in sun-warm atmosphere,
Laughed a little to herself,
Laughed a little as she rolled,
Thinking on the days of old.

“Ah! there be some hearts, I wis,
To which nothing comes amiss.
Mine was one. Much secret wealth
I was heir to: and by stealth,
When the moon was fully grown,
And she thought herself alone,
I have heard her, ay, right well,
Shoot a silver message down
To the unseen sentinel
Of a still, snow-thatchéd town.

“Once, awhile ago, I peered
In the nest where Spring was reared.
There, she quivering her fair wings,
Flattered March with chirrupings;
And they fed her; nights and days,
Fed her mouth with much sweet food,
And her heart with love and praise,
Till the wild thing rose and flew
Over woods and water-springs,
Shaking off the morning dew
In a rainbow from her wings.

“Once (I will to you confide
More), O once in forest wide,
I, benighted, overheard
Marvellous mild echoes stirred,
And a calling half defined,
And an answering from afar;
Somewhat talkéd with a star,
And the talk was of mankind.

“‘Cuckoo, cuckoo!’
Float anear in upper blue:
Art thou yet a prophet true?
Wilt thou say, ’And having seen
Things that be, and have not been,
Thou art free o’ the world, for naught
Can despoil thee of thy thought’?
Nay, but make me music yet,
Bird, as deep as my regret,
For a certain hope hath set,
Like a star; and left me heir
To a crying for its light,
An aspiring infinite,
And a beautiful despair!

“Ah! no more, no more, no more
I shall lie at thy shut door,
Mine ideal, my desired,
Dreaming thou wilt open it,
And step out, thou most admired,
By my side to fare, or sit,
Quenching hunger and all drouth
With the wit of thy fair mouth,
Showing me the wishéd prize
In the calm of thy dove’s eyes,
Teaching me the wonder-rife
Majesties of human life,
All its fairest possible sum,
And the grace of its to come.

“What a difference! Why of late
All sweet music used to say,
’She will come, and with thee stay
To-morrow, man, if not to-day.’
Now it murmurs, ‘Wait, wait, wait!’”

The High Tide On The Coast Of Lincolnshire

The old mayor climbed the belfry tower,
The ringers ran by two, by three;
'Pull, if ye never pulled before;
Good ringers, pull your best,' quoth he
'Play uppe, play uppe, O Boston bells!
Ply all your changes, all your swells,
Play uppe 'The Brides of Enderby.'

Men say it was a stolen tyde—
The Lord that sent it, He knows all;
But in myne ears doth still abide
The message that the bells let fall:
And there was nought of strange, beside
The flights of news and peewits pied
By millions crouched on the old sea wall.

I sat and spun within the doore,
My thread brake off, I raised myne eyes;
The level sun, like ruddy ore,
Lay sinking in the barren skies
And dark against day's golden death
She moved where Lindis wandereth,
My sonne's faire wife, Elizabeth.

'Cusha! Cusha! Cusha!' calling,
Ere the early dews were falling,
Farre away I heard her sung.
'Cusha! Cusha!' all along;
Where the reedy Lindis floweth,
Floweth, floweth,
From the meads where melick groweth
Faintly came her milking song—

'Cusha! Cusha! Cusha!' calling,
'For the dews will soone be falling;
Leave your meadow grasses mellow,
Mellow, mellow;
Quit your cowslips, cowslips yellow;
Come uppe Whitefoot, come uppe Lightfoot
Quit the stalks of parsley hollow,
Hollow, hollow;
Come uppe Jetty, rise and follow,
From the clovers lift your head;
Come uppe Whitefoot, come uppe Lightfoot,
Come uppe Jetty, rise and follow,
Jetty, to the milking shed.'

If it be long, ay, long ago,
When I beginne to think howe long,
Againe I hear the Lindis flow,
Swift as an arrowe, sharpe and strong;
And all the aire, it seemeth nice,
Bin full of floating bells (sayth shee),
That ring the tune of Enderby.

Alle fresh the level pasture lay,
And not a shadowe mote be seene,
Save where full fyve good miles away
The steeple towered from out the greene;
And lo! the great bell farre and wide
Was heard in all the country side
That Saturday at eventide.

The swanherds where their sedges are
Moved on in sunset's golden breath,
The shepherde lads I heard afarre,
And my sonne's wife, Elizabeth;
Till floating o'er the grassy sea
Came downe that kyndly message free,
The 'Brides of Mavis Enderby.'

Then some looked uppe into the sky,
And all along where Lindis flows
To where the goodly vessels lie,
And where the lordly steeple shows.
They sayde, 'And why should this thing be?
What danger lowers by land or sea?
They ring the tune of Enderby!

'For evil news from Mablethorpe,
Of pyrate galleys warping down;
For shippes ashore beyond the scorpe,
They have not spared to wake the towne:
But while the west bin red to see,
And storms be none, and pyrates flee,
Why ring 'The Brides of Enderby'?'

I looked without, and lo! my sonne
Came riding downe with might and main:
He raised a shout as he drew on,
Till all the welkin rang again,
'Elizabeth! Elizabeth!'
(A sweeter woman ne'er drew breath
Than my sonne's wife, Elizabeth.)

'The olde sea wall (he cried) is downe,
The rising tide comes on apace,
And boats adrift in yonder towne
Go sailing uppe the market-place.'
He shook as one that looks on death:
'God save you, mother!' straight he saith
'Where is my wife, Elizabeth?'

'Good sonne, where Lindis winds away,
With her two bairns I marked her long;
And ere yon bells beganne to play
Afar I heard her milking song.'
He looked across the grassy lea,
To right, to left, 'Ho Enderby!'
They rang 'The Brides of Enderby!'

With that he cried and beat his breast;
For, lo! along the river's bed
A mighty eygre reared his crest,
And uppe the Lindis raging sped.
It swept with thunderous noises loud;
Shaped like a curling snow-white cloud,
Or like a demon in a shroud.

And rearing Lindis backward pressed
Shook all her trembling bankes amaine;
Then madly at the eygre's breast
Flung uppe her weltering walls again.
Then bankes came downe with ruin and rout—
Then beaten foam flew round about—
Then all the mighty floods were out.

So farre, so fast the eygre drave,
The heart had hardly time to beat,
Before a shallow seething wave
Sobbed in the grasses at oure feet;
The feet had hardly time to flee
Before it brake against the knee,
And all the world was in the sea.

Upon the roofe we sate that night,
The noise of bells went sweeping by
I marked the lofty beacon light
Stream from the church tower, red and high—
A lurid mark and dread to see;
And awsome bells they were to mee,
That in the dark rang 'Enderby.'

They rang the sailor lads to guide
From roofe to roofe who fearless rowed;
And I—my sonne was at my side,
And yet the ruddy beacon glowed;
And yet he moaned beneath his breath,
O come in life, or come in death!
O lost! my love, Elizabeth.'

And didst thou visit him no more?
Thou didst, thou didst, my daughter deare;
The waters laid thee at his doore,
Ere yet the early dawn was clear
Thy pretty bairns in fast embrace,
The lifted sun shone on thy face,
Downe drifted to thy dwelling-place.

That flow strewed wrecks about the grass,
That ebbe swept out the flocks to sea;
A fatal ebbe and flow, alas!
To manye more than myne and mee:
But each will mourn his own (she saith).
And sweeter woman ne'er drew breath
Than my sonne's wife, Elizabeth.

I shall never hear her more
By the reedy Lindis shore,
'Cusha! Cusha! Cusha!' calling,
Ere the early dews be falling;
I shall never hear her song,
'Cusha! Cusha!' all along
Where the sunny Lindis floweth,
Goeth, floweth ;
From the meads where melick groweth,
When the water winding down,
Onward floweth to the town.

I shall never see her more
Where the reeds and rushes quiver,
Shiver, quiver;
Stand beside the sobbing river,
Sobbing, throbbing, in its falling
To the sandy lonesome shore;
I shall never hear her calling,
Leave your meadow grasses mellow,
Mellow, mellow;
Quit your cowslips, cowslips yellow;
Come uppe Whitefoot, come uppe Lightfoot;
Quit your pipes of parsley hollow,
Hollow, hollow;
Come uppe Lightfoot, rise and follow;
Lightfoot, Whitefoot,
From your clovers lift the head;
Come uppe Jetty, follow, follow,
Jetty, to the milking shed.


Two angry men—in heat they sever,
And one goes home by a harvest field:—
'Hope's nought,' quoth he, 'and vain endeavor;
I said and say it, I will not yield!

'As for this wrong, no art can mend it,
The bond is shiver'd that held us twain;
Old friends we be, but law must end it,
Whether for loss or whether for gain.

'Yon stream is small—full slow its wending;
But winning is sweet, but right is fine;
And shoal of trout, or willowy bending—
Though Law be costly—I'll prove them mine.

'His strawberry cow slipped loose her tether,
And trod the best of my barley down;
His little lasses at play together
Pluck'd the poppies my boys had grown.

'What then?—Why naught! She lack'd of reason;
And they—my little ones match them well:—
But this—Nay all things have their season,
And 'tis my season to curb and quell.'


So saith he, when noontide fervors flout him,
So thinks, when the West is amber and red,
When he smells the hop-vines sweet about him,
And the clouds are rosy overhead.

While slender and tall the hop-poles going
Straight to the West in their leafy lines,
Portion it out into chambers, glowing,
And bask in red day as the sun declines.

Between the leaves in his latticed arbor
He sees the sky, as they flutter and turn,
While moor'd like boats in a golden harbor
The fleets of feathery cloudlets burn.

Withdrawn in shadow, he thinketh over
Harsh thoughts, the fruit-laden trees among,
Till pheasants call their young to cover,
And cushats coo them a nursery song.

And flocks of ducks forsake their sedges,
Wending home to the wide barn-door,
And loaded wains between the hedges
Slowly creep to his threshing floor—

Slowly creep. And his tired senses,
Float him over the magic stream,
To a world where Fancy recompenses
Vengeful thoughts, with a troubled dream!


What's this? a wood—What's that? one calleth,
Calleth and cryeth in mortal dread—
He hears men strive—then somewhat falleth!—
'Help me, neighbor—I'm hard bestead.'

The dream is strong—the voice he knoweth—
But when he would run, his feet are fast,
And death lies beyond, and no man goeth
To help, and he says the time is past.

His feet are held, and he shakes all over,—
Nay—they are free—he has found the place—
Green boughs are gather'd—what is't they cover?—
'I pray you, look on the dead man's face;

'You that stand by,' he saith, and cowers—
'Man, or Angel, to guard the dead
With shadowy spear, and a brow that lowers,
And wing-points reared in the gloom o'erhead.—

'I dare not look. He wronged me never.
Men say we differ'd; they speak amiss:
This man and I were neighbors ever—
I would have ventured my life for his.

'But fast my feet were—fast with tangles—
Ay! words—but they were not sharp, I trow,
Though parish feuds and vestry wrangles—
O pitiful sight—I see thee now!—

'If we fell out, 'twas but foul weather,
After long shining! O bitter cup,—
What—dead?—why, man, we play'd together—
Art dead—ere a friend can make it up?'


Over his head the chafer hummeth,
Under his feet shut daisies bend:
Waken, man! the enemy cometh,
Thy neighbor, counted so long a friend.

He cannot waken—and firm, and steady,
The enemy comes with lowering brow;
He looks for war, his heart is ready,
His thoughts are bitter—he will not bow.

He fronts the seat,—the dream is flinging
A spell that his footsteps may not break,—
But one in the garden of hops is singing—
The dreamer hears it, and starts awake.


Walking apart, she thinks none listen;
And now she carols, and now she stops;
And the evening star begins to glisten
Atween the lines of blossoming hops.

Sweetest Mercy, your mother taught you
All uses and cares that to maids belong;
Apt scholar to read and to sew she thought you—
She did not teach you that tender song—

'The lady sang in her charm?bower,
Sheltered and safe under roses blown—
'Storm cannot touch me, hail, nor shower,
Where all alone I sit, all alone.

'My bower! The fair Fay twined it round me,
Care nor trouble can pierce it through;
But once a sigh from the warm world found me
Between two leaves that were bent with dew.

'And day to night, and night to morrow,
Though soft as slumber the long hours wore,
I looked for my dower of love, of sorrow—
Is there no more—no more—no more?'

'Give her the sun-sweet light, and duly
To walk in shadow, nor chide her part;
Give her the rose, and truly, truly—
To wear its thorn with a patient heart—

'Misty as dreams the moonbeam lyeth
Chequered and faint on her charm?floor;
The lady singeth, the lady sigheth—
'Is there no more—no more—no more!_''


A crash of boughs!—one through them breaking!
Mercy is startled, and fain would fly,
But e'en as she turns, her steps o'ertaking,
He pleads with her—'Mercy, it is but I!'

'Mercy!' he touches her hand unbidden—
'The air is balmy, I pray you stay—
Mercy?' Her downcast eyes are hidden,
And never a word she has to say.

Till closer drawn, her prison'd fingers
He takes to his lips with a yearning strong;
And she murmurs low, that late she lingers,
Her mother will want her, and think her long.

'Good mother is she, then honor duly
The lightest wish in her heart that stirs;
But there is a bond yet dearer truly,
And there is a love that passeth hers.

'Mercy, Mercy!' Her heart attendeth—
Love's birthday blush on her brow lies sweet;
She turns her face when his own he bendeth,
And the lips of the youth and the maiden meet.


Move through the bowering hops, O lovers,—
Wander down to the golden West,—
But two stand mute in the shade that covers
Your love and youth from their souls opprest.

A little shame on their spirits stealing,—
A little pride that is loth to sue,—
A little struggle with soften'd feeling,—
And a world of fatherly care for you.

One says: 'To this same running water,
May be, Neighbor, your claim is best.'
And one—'Your son has kissed my daughter:
Let the matters between us—rest.'

Contrasted Songs: A Lily And The Lute

(Song of the uncommunicated Ideal.)

I opened the eyes of my soul.
And behold,
A white river-lily: a lily awake, and aware,—­
For she set her face upward,—­aware how in scarlet and gold
A long wrinkled cloud, left behind of the wandering air,
Lay over with fold upon fold,
With fold upon fold.

And the blushing sweet shame of the cloud made her also ashamed,
The white river-lily, that suddenly knew she was fair;
And over the far-away mountains that no man hath named,
And that no foot hath trod,
Flung down out of heavenly places, there fell, as it were,
A rose-bloom, a token of love, that should make them endure,
Withdrawn in snow silence forever, who keep themselves pure,
And look up to God.
Then I said, “In rosy air,
Cradled on thy reaches fair,
While the blushing early ray
Whitens into perfect day,
River-lily, sweetest known,
Art thou set for me alone?
Nay, but I will bear thee far,
Where yon clustering steeples are,
And the bells ring out o’erhead,
And the stated prayers are said;
And the busy farmers pace,
Trading in the market-place;
And the country lasses sit,
By their butter, praising it;
And the latest news is told,
While the fruit and cream are sold;
And the friendly gossips greet,
Up and down the sunny street.
For,” I said, “I have not met,
White one, any folk as yet
Who would send no blessing up,
Looking on a face like thine;
For thou art as Joseph’s cup,
And by thee might they divine.

“Nay! but thou a spirit art;
Men shall take thee in the mart
For the ghost of their best thought,
Raised at noon, and near them brought;
Or the prayer they made last night,
Set before them all in white.”

And I put out my rash hand,
For I thought to draw to land
The white lily. Was it fit
Such a blossom should expand,
Fair enough for a world’s wonder,
And no mortal gather it?
No. I strove, and it went under,
And I drew, but it went down;
And the waterweeds’ long tresses,
And the overlapping cresses,
Sullied its admired crown.
Then along the river strand,
Trailing, wrecked, it came to land,
Of its beauty half despoiled,
And its snowy pureness soiled:
O! I took it in my hand,—­
You will never see it now,
White and golden as it grew:
No, I cannot show it you,
Nor the cheerful town endow
With the freshness of its brow.

If a royal painter, great
With the colors dedicate
To a dove’s neck, a sea-bight,
And the flickering over white
Mountain summits far away,—­
One content to give his mind
To the enrichment of mankind,
And the laying up of light
In men’s houses,—­on that day,
Could have passed in kingly mood,
Would he ever have endued
Canvas with the peerless thing,
In the grace that it did bring,
And the light that o’er it flowed,
With the pureness that it showed,
And the pureness that it meant?
Could he skill to make it seen
As he saw? For this, I ween,
He were likewise impotent.

I opened the doors of my heart.
And behold,
There was music within and a song,
And echoes did feed on the sweetness, repeating it long.
I opened the doors of my heart: and behold,
There was music that played itself out in aeolian notes;
Then was heard, as a far-away bell at long intervals tolled,
That murmurs and floats,
And presently dieth, forgotten of forest and wold,
And comes in all passion again, and a tremblement soft,
That maketh the listener full oft
To whisper, “Ah! would I might hear it for ever and aye,
When I toil in the heat of the day,
When I walk in the cold.”

I opened the door of my heart. And behold,
There was music within, and a song.
But while I was hearkening, lo, blackness without, thick and strong,
Came up and came over, and all that sweet fluting was drowned,
I could hear it no more;
For the welkin was moaning, the waters were stirred on the shore,
And trees in the dark all around
Were shaken. It thundered. “Hark, hark! there is thunder to-night!
The sullen long wave rears her head, and comes down with a will;
The awful white tongues are let loose, and the stars are all dead;—­
There is thunder! it thunders! and ladders of light
Run up. There is thunder!” I said,
“Loud thunder! it thunders! and up in the dark overhead,
A down-pouring cloud, (there is thunder!) a down-pouring cloud
Hails out her fierce message, and quivers the deep in its bed,
And cowers the earth held at bay; and they mutter aloud,
And pause with an ominous tremble, till, great in their rage,
The heavens and earth come together, and meet with a crash;
And the fight is so fell as if Time had come down with the flash,
And the story of life was all read,
And the Giver had turned the last page.

“Now their bar the pent water-floods lash,
And the forest trees give out their language austere with great age;
And there flieth o’er moor and o’er hill,
And there heaveth at intervals wide,
The long sob of nature’s great passion as loath to subside,
Until quiet dropp down on the tide,
And mad Echo had moaned herself still.”

Lo! or ever I was ’ware,
In the silence of the air,
Through my heart’s wide-open door,
Music floated forth once more,
Floated to the world’s dark rim,
And looked over with a hymn;
Then came home with flutings fine,
And discoursed in tones divine
Of a certain grief of mine;
And went downward and went in,
Glimpses of my soul to win,
And discovered such a deep
That I could not choose but weep,
For it lay, a land-locked sea,
Fathomless and dim to me.

O, the song! it came and went,
Went and came.
I have not learned
Half the lore whereto it yearned,
Half the magic that it meant.
Water booming in a cave;
Or the swell of some long wave,
Setting in from unrevealed
Countries; or a foreign tongue,
Sweetly talked and deftly sung,
While the meaning is half sealed;
May be like it. You have heard
Also;—­can you find a word
For the naming of such song?
No; a name would do it wrong.
You have heard it in the night,
In the dropping rain’s despite,
In the midnight darkness deep,
When the children were asleep,
And the wife,—­no, let that be;
SHE asleep! She knows right well
What the song to you and me,
While we breathe, can never tell;
She hath heard its faultless flow,
Where the roots of music grow.

While I listened, like young birds,
Hints were fluttering; almost words,—­
Leaned and leaned, and nearer came;—­
Everything had changed its name.

Sorrow was a ship, I found,
Wrecked with them that in her are,
On an island richer far
Than the port where they were bound.
Fear was but the awful boom
Of the old great bell of doom,
Tolling, far from earthly air,
For all worlds to go to prayer.
Pain, that to us mortal clings,
But the pushing of our wings,
That we have no use for yet,
And the uprooting of our feet
From the soil where they are set,
And the land we reckon sweet.
Love in growth, the grand deceit
Whereby men the perfect greet;
Love in wane, the blessing sent
To be (howsoe’er it went)
Never more with earth content.
O, full sweet, and O, full high,
Ran that music up the sky;
But I cannot sing it you,
More than I can make you view,
With my paintings labial,
Sitting up in awful row,
White old men majestical,
Mountains, in their gowns of snow,
Ghosts of kings; as my two eyes,
Looking over speckled skies,
See them now. About their knees,
Half in haze, there stands at ease
A great army of green hills,
Some bareheaded; and, behold,
Small green mosses creep on some.
Those be mighty forests old;
And white avalanches come
Through yon rents, where now distils
Sheeny silver, pouring down
To a tune of old renown,
Cutting narrow pathways through
Gentian belts of airy blue,
To a zone where starwort blows,
And long reaches of the rose.

So, that haze all left behind,
Down the chestnut forests wind,
Past yon jagged spires, where yet
Foot of man was never set;
Past a castle yawning wide,
With a great breach in its side,
To a nest-like valley, where,
Like a sparrow’s egg in hue,
Lie two lakes, and teach the true
Color of the sea-maid’s hair.

What beside? The world beside!
Drawing down and down, to greet
Cottage clusters at our feet,—­
Every scent of summer tide,—­
Flowery pastures all aglow
(Men and women mowing go
Up and down them): also soft
Floating of the film aloft,
Fluttering of the leaves alow.
Is this told? It is not told.
Where’s the danger? where’s the cold
Slippery danger up the steep?
Where yon shadow fallen asleep?
Chirping bird and tumbling spray,
Light, work, laughter, scent of hay,
Peace, and echo, where are they?

Ah, they sleep, sleep all untold;
Memory must their grace enfold
Silently; and that high song
Of the heart, it doth belong
To the hearers. Not a whit,
Though a chief musician heard,
Could he make a tune for it.

Though a bird of sweetest throat,
And some lute full clear of note,
Could have tried it,—­O, the lute
For that wondrous song were mute,
And the bird would do her part,
Falter, fail, and break her heart,—­
Break her heart, and furl her wings,
On those unexpressive strings.

If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem

Out of the melancholy that is made
Of ebbing sorrow that too slowly ebbs,
Comes back a sighing whisper of the reed,
A note in new love-pipings on the bough,
Grieving with grief till all the full-fed air
And shaken milky corn doth wot of it,
The pity of it trembling in the talk
Of the beforetime merrymaking brook—
Out of that melancholy will the soul,
In proof that life is not forsaken quite
Of the old trick and glamour which made glad;
Be cheated some good day and not perceive
How sorrow ebbing out is gone from view,
How tired trouble fall'n for once on sleep,
How keen self-mockery that youth's eager dream
Interpreted to mean so much is found
To mean and give so little—frets no more,
Floating apart as on a cloud—O then
Not e'en so much as murmuring 'Let this end,'
She will, no longer weighted, find escape,
Lift up herself as if on wings and flit
Back to the morning time.
'O once with me
It was all one, such joy I had at heart,
As I heard sing the morning star, or God
Did hold me with an Everlasting Hand,
And dip me in the day.
O once with me,'
Reflecting ''twas enough to live, to look
Wonder and love. Now let that come again.
Rise!' And ariseth first a tanglement
Of flowering bushes, peonies pale that drop
Upon a mossy lawn, rich iris spikes,
Bee-borage, mealy-stemmed auricula,
Brown wallflower, and the sweetbriar ever sweet,
Her pink buds pouting from their green.
To these
Add thick espaliers where the bullfinch came
To strew much budding wealth, and was not chid.
Then add wide pear trees on the warm?wall,
The old red wall one cannot see beyond.
That is the garden.
In the wall a door
Green, blistered with the sun. You open it,
And lo! a sunny waste of tumbled hills
And a glad silence, and an open calm.
Infinite leisure, and a slope where rills
Dance down delightedly, in every crease,
And lambs stoop drinking and the finches dip,
Then shining waves upon a lonely beach.
That is the world.

An all-sufficient world,
And as it seems an undiscovered world,
So very few the folk that come to look.
Yet one has heard of towns; but they are far
The world is undiscovered, and the child
Is undiscovered that with stealthy joy
Goes gathering like a bee who in dark cells
Hideth sweet food to live on in the cold.
What matters to the child, it matters not
More than it mattered to the moons of Mars,
That they for ages undiscovered went
Marked not of man, attendant on their king.

A shallow line of sand curved to the cliff,
There dwelt the fisherfolk, and there inland
Some scattered cottagers in thrift and calm,
Their talk full oft was of old days,—for here
Was once a fosse, and by this rock-hewn path
Our wild fore-elders as 't is said would come
To gather jetsam from some Viking wreck,
Like a sea-beast wide breasted (her snake head
Reared up as staring while she rocked ashore)
That split, and all her ribs were on their fires
The red whereof at their wives' throats made bright
Gold gauds which from the weed they picked ere yet
The tide had turned.

'Many,' methought, 'and rich
They must have been, so long their chronicle.
Perhaps the world was fuller then of folk,
For ships at sea are few that near us now.'

Yet sometimes when the clouds were torn to rags,
Flying black before a gale, we saw one rock
In the offing, and the mariner folk would cry,
'Look how she labours; those aboard may hear
Her timbers creak e'en as she'd break her heart.'

'Twas then the grey gulls blown ashore would light
In flocks, and pace the lawn with flat cold feet.

And so the world was sweet, and it was strange,
Sweet as a bee-kiss to the crocus flower,
Surprising, fresh, direct, but ever one.
The laughter of glad music did not yet
In its echo yearn, as hinting ought beyond,
Nor pathos tremble at the edge of bliss
Like a moon halo in a watery sky,
Nor the sweet pain alike of love and fear
In a world not comprehended touch the heart—
The poetry of life was not yet born.
'T was a thing hidden yet that there be days
When some are known to feel 'God is about,'
As if that morn more than another morn
Virtue flowed forth from Him, the rolling world
Swam in a sooth?calm made resonant
And vital, swam as in the lap of God
Come down; until she slept and had a dream
(Because it was too much to bear awake),
That all the air shook with the might of Him
And whispered how she was the favourite world
That day, and bade her drink His essence in.

'Tis on such days that seers prophesy
And poets sing, and many who are wise
Find out for man's wellbeing hidden things
Whereof the hint came in that Presence known
Yet unknown. But a seer—what is he?
A poet is a name of long ago.

Men love the largeness of the field—the wild
Quiet that soothes the moor. In other days
They loved the shadow of the city wall,
In its stone ramparts read their poetry,
Safety and state, gold, and the arts of peace,
Law-giving, leisure, knowledge, all were there
This to excuse a child's allegiance and
A spirit's recurrence to the older way.
Orphan'd, with aged guardians kind and true,
Things came to pass not told before to me.

Thus, we did journey once when eve was near.
Through carriage windows I beheld the moors,
Then, churches, hamlets cresting of low hills.
The way was long, at last I, fall'n asleep,
Awoke to hear a rattling 'neath the wheels
And see the lamps alight. This was the town.

Then a wide inn received us, and full soon
Came supper, kisses, bed.
The lamp without
Shone in; the door was shut, and I alone.
An ecstasy of exultation took
My soul, for there were voices heard and steps,
I was among so many,—none of them
Knew I was come!
I rose, with small bare feet,
Across the carpet stole, a white-robed child,
And through the window peered. Behold the town.

There had been rain, the pavement glistened yet
In a soft lamplight down the narrow street;
The church was nigh at hand, a clear-toned clock
Chimed slowly, open shops across the way
Showed store of fruit, and store of bread,—and one
Many caged birds. About were customers,
I saw them bargain, and a rich high voice
Was heard,—a woman sang, her little babe
Slept 'neath her shawl, and by her side a boy
Added wild notes and sweet to hers.
Some passed
Who gave her money. It was far from me
To pity her, she was a part of that
Admir?town. E'en so within the shop
A rosy girl, it may be ten years old,
Quaint, grave. She helped her mother, deftly weighed
The purple plums, black mulberries rich and ripe
For boyish customers, and counted pence
And dropped them in an apron that she wore.
Methought a queen had ne'er so grand a lot,
She knew it, she looked up at me, and smiled.

But yet the song went on, and in a while
The meaning came; the town was not enough
To satisfy that singer, for a sigh
With her wild music came. What wanted she?
Whate'er she wanted wanted all. O how
'T was poignant, her rich voice; not like a bird's.
Could she not dwell content and let them be,
That they might take their pleasure in the town,
For—no, she was not poor, witness the pence.
I saw her boy and that small saleswoman;
He wary, she with grave persuasive air,
Till he came forth with filberts in his cap,
And joined his mother, happy, triumphing.

This was the town; and if you ask what else,
I say good sooth that it was poetry
Because it was the all, and something more,—
It was the life of man, it was the world
That made addition to the watching heart,
First conscious its own beating, first aware
How, beating it kept time with all the race;
Nay, 't was a consciousness far down and dim
Of a Great Father watching too.

But lo! the rich lamenting voice again;
She sang not for herself; it was a song
For me, for I had seen the town and knew,
Yearning I knew the town was not enough.

What more? To-day looks back on yesterday,
Life's yesterday, the waiting time, the dawn,
And reads a meaning into it, unknown
When it was with us.
It is always so.
But when as ofttimes I remember me
Of the warm wind that moved the beggar's hair,
Of the wet pavement, and the lamps alit,
I know it was not pity that made yearn
My heart for her, and that same dimpled boy
How grand methought to be abroad so late.
And barefoot dabble in the shining wet;
How fine to peer as other urchins did
At those pent huddled doves they let not rest;
No, it was almost envy. Ay, how sweet
The clash of bells; they rang to boast that far
That cheerful street was from the cold sea-fog,
From dark ploughed field and narrow lonesome lane.
How sweet to hear the hum of voices kind,
To see the coach come up with din of horn.
Quick tramp of horses, mark the passers-by
Greet one another, and go on.
But now
They closed the shops, the wild clear voice was still,
The beggars moved away—where was their home.
The coach which came from out dull darksome fells
Into the light; passed to the dark again
Like some old comet which knows well her way,
Whirled to the sun that as her fateful loop
She turns, forebodes the destined silences.
Yes, it was gone; the clattering coach was gone,
And those it bore I pitied even to tears,
Because they must go forth, nor see the lights,
Nor hear the chiming bells.
In after days,
Remembering of the childish envy and
The childish pity, it has cheered my heart
To think e'en now pity and envy both
It may be are misplaced, or needed not.
Heaven may look down in pity on some soul
Half envied, or some wholly pitied smile,
For that it hath to wait as it were an hour
To see the lights that go not out by night,
To walk the golden street and hear a song;
Other-world poetry that is the all
And something more.

Supper At The Mill

Well, Frances.

Well, good mother, how are you?
M. I'm hearty, lass, but warm; the weather's warm:
I think 'tis mostly warm on market-days.
I met with George behind the mill: said he,
'Mother, go in and rest a while.'

F. Ay, do,
And stay to supper; put your basket down.
M. Why, now, it is not heavy?
F. Willie, man,
Get up and kiss your Granny. Heavy, no,
Some call good churning luck; but, luck or skill,
Your butter mostly comes as firm and sweet
As if 'twas Christmas. So you sold it all.
M. All but this pat that I put by for George;
He always loved my butter.
F. That he did.
M. And has your speckled hen brought off her brood?
F. Not yet; but that old duck I told you of,
She hatched eleven out of twelve to-day.

And, Granny, they're so yellow.
M. Ay, my lad,
Yellow as gold — yellow as Willie's hair.
C. They're all mine, Granny, father says they're mine.
M. To think of that!
F. Yes, Granny, only think!
Why father means to sell them when they're fat,
And put the money in the savings-bank,
And all against our Willie goes to school:
But Willie would not touch them — no, not he;
He knows that father would be angry else.
C. But I want one to play with — O, I want
A little yellow duck to take to bed!
M. What! would ye rob the poor old mother, then?
F. Now, Granny, if you'll hold the babe a while;
'Tis time I took up Willie to his crib.
[Exit Frances]
{Mother sings to the infant}

Playing on the virginals,
Who but I! Sae glad, sae free,
Smelling for all cordials,
The green mint and marjorie;
Set among the budding broom,
Kingcup and daffodilly;
By my side I made him room:
O love my Willie!

'Like me, love me, girl o' gowd,'
Sang he to my nimble strain,
Sweet his ruddy lips o'erflowed
Till my heartstrings rang again;
By the broom, the bonny broom,
Kingcup and daffodilly;
In my heart I made him room:
O love my Willie!

'Pipe and play, dear heart,' sang he,
'I must go, yet pipe and play;
Soon I'll come and ask of thee
For an answer yea or nay;'
And I waited till the flocks
Panted in yon waters stilly,
And the corn stood in the shocks:
O love my Willie!

I thought first when thou didst come
I would wear the ring for thee,
But the year told out its sum,
Ere again thou sat'st by me;
Thou hadst nought to ask that day
By kingcup and daffodilly;
I said neither yea nor nay:
O love my Willie!

Enter George.
George. Well, mother, 'tis a fortnight now, or more,
Since I set eyes on you.
M. Ay, George, my dear,
I reckon you've been busy: so have we.
G. And how does father?
M. He gets through his work,
But he grows stiff, a little stiff, my dear;
He's not so young, you know, by twenty years
As I am — not so young by twenty years,
And I'm past sixty.
G. Yet he's hale and stout,
And seems to take a pleasure in his pipe;
And seems to take a pleasure in his cows,
And a pride, too.
M. And well he may, my dear.
G. Give me the little one, he tires your arm;
He's such a kicking, crowing, wakeful rogue,
He almost wears our lives out with his noise
Just a day-dawning, when we wish to sleep.
What! you young villain, would you clench your fist
In father's curls? a dusty father, sure,
And you're as clean as wax.
Ay, you may laugh,
But if you live a seven years more or so
These hands of yours will all be brown and scratched
With climbing after nest-eggs. They'll go down
As many rat-holes as are round the mere;
And you'll love mud, all manner of mud and dirt,
As your father did afore you, and you'll wade
After young water-birds; and you'll get bogged
Setting of eel-traps, and you'll spoil your clothes,
And come home torn and dripping: then, you know,
You'll feel the stick — you'll feel the stick, my lad!

Enter Frances.
F. You should not talk so to the blessed babe —
How can you, George! why he may be in heaven
Before the time you tell of.
M. Look at him:
So earnest, such an eager pair of eyes!
He thrives, my dear.
F. Yes, that he does, thank God!
My children are all strong.
M. 'Tis much to say;
Sick children fret their mother's hearts to shreds
And do no credit to their keep nor care.
Where is your little lass?
F. Your daughter came
And begged her of us for a week or so.
M. Well, well, she might be wiser, that she might;
For she can sit at ease and pay her way;
A sober husband, too — a cheerful man —
Honest as ever stepped, and fond of her;
Yet she is never easy, never glad,
Because she has not children. Well-a-day!
If she could know how hard her mother worked,
And what ado I had, and what a moil
With my half dozen! Children, ay forsooth,
They bring their own love with them when they come,
But if they come not there is peace and rest;
The pretty lambs! and yet she cries for more:
Why the world's full of them, and so is heaven —
They are not rare.
G. No, mother, not at all;
But Hannah must not keep our Fanny long —
She spoils her.
M. Ah! folks spoil their children now;
When I was a young woman 'twas not so:
We made our children fear us, made them work,
Kept them in order.
G. Were not proud of them —
Eh, mother?
M. I set store by mine, 'tis true,
But then I had good cause.
G. My lad, d'ye hear?
Your Granny was not proud, by no means proud!
She never spoilt your father — no, not she,
Nor ever made him sing at harvest-home,
Nor at the forge, nor at the baker's shop,
Nor to the doctor while she lay abed
Sick, and he crept up-stairs to share her broth.
M. Well, well, you were my youngest; and, what's more,
Your father loved to hear you sing — he did,
Although, good man, he could not tell one tune
From the other.
F. No, he got his voice from you:
Do use it, George, and send the child to sleep.
G. What must I sing?
F. The ballad of the man
That is so shy he cannot speak his mind.
G. Ay, of the purple grapes and crimson leaves;
But, mother, put your shawl and bonnet of.
And Frances, lass, I brought some cresses in:
Just wash them, toast the bacon, break some eggs,
And let's to supper shortly.

My neighbor White; we met to-day,
He always had a cheerful way,
As if he breathed at ease;
My neighbor White lives down the glade,
And I live higher, in the shade
Of my old walnut-trees.

So many lads and lasses small,
To feed them all, to clothe them all,
Must surely tax his wit;
I see his thatch when I look out,
His branching roses creep about
And vines half-smothered it.

There white-haired urchins climb his eaves
And little watch-fires heap with leaves,
And milky filberts hoard;
And there his oldest daughter stands
With downcast eyes and skilful hands
Before her ironing-board.

She comforts all her mother's days,
And with her sweet obedient ways
She makes her labor light;
So sweet to hear, so fair to see!
O, she is much too good for me,
That lovely Lettice White!

'Tis hard to feel one's self a fool!
With that same lass I went to school;
I then was great and wise;
She read upon an easier book,
And I — I never cared to look
Into her shy blue eyes.

And now I know they must be there
Sweet eyes, behind those lashes fair
That will not raise their rim:
If maids be shy, he cures who can;
But if a man be shy — a man —
Why then the worse for him!

My mother cries, 'For such a lad
A wife is easy to be had
And always to be found;
A finer scholar scarce can be,
And for a foot and leg,' says she,
'He beats the country round!

'My handsome boy must stoop his head
To clear her door whom he would wed.'
Weak praise, but fondly sung!
'O mother! scholars sometimes fail —
And what can foot and leg avail
To him that wants a tongue!'

When by her ironing-board I sit
Her little sisters round me flit,
And bring me forth their store;
Dark cluster grapes of dusty blue,
And small sweet apples, bright of hue,
And crimson to the core.

But she abideth silent, fair,
All shaded by her flaxen hair,
The blushes come and go;
I look, and I no more can speak
Than the red sun that on her cheek
Smiles as he lieth low.

Sometimes the roses by the latch,
Or scarlet vine-leaves from her thatch,
Come sailing down like birds;
When from their drifts her board I clear
She thanks me, but I scarce can hear
The shyly uttered words.

Oft have I wooed sweet Lettice White
By daylight and by candlelight
When we two were apart.
Some better day come on apace,
And let me tell her face to face,
'Maiden, thou hast my heart.'

How gently rock yon poplars high
Against the reach of primrose sky
With heaven's pale candles stored!
She sees them all, sweet Lettice White;
I'll e'en go sit again to-night
Beside her ironing-board!

Why, you young rascal! who would think it now!
No sooner do I stop than you look up.
What would you have your poor old father do?
'Twas a brave song, long-winded, and not loud.
M. He heard the bacon sputter on the fork,
And heard his mother's step across the floor.
Where did you get that song — 'tis new to me?
G. I bought it of a peddler.
M. Did you so?
Well, you were always for love-songs, George.
F. My dear, just lay his head upon your arm,
And if you'll pace and sing two minutes more
He needs must sleep — his eyes are full of sleep.
G. Do you sing, mother.
F. Ay, good mother, do;
'Tis long since we have heard you.
M. Like enough;
I'm an old woman, and the girls and lads
I used to sing to sleep o'ertop me now.
What should I sing for?
G. Why, to pleasure us.
Sing in the chimney-corner, where you sit,
And I'll pace gently with the little one.

[M. sings].
When sparrows build, and the leaves break forth,
My old sorrow wakes and cries,
For I know there is dawn in the far, far north,
And a scarlet son doth rise;
Like a scarlet fleece the snow-field spreads,
And the icy founts run free;
And the bergs begin to bow their heads,
And plunge, and sail in the sea.

Oh, my lost love, and my own, own love,
And my love that loved me so!
Is there never a chink in the world above
Where they listen for words from below?
Nay, I spoke once, and I grieved thee sore;
I remember all that I said;
And now thou wilt hear me no more — no more
Till the sea gives up her dead.

Thou didst set thy foot on the ship, and sail
To the ice-fields and the snow;
Thou wert sad, for thy love did not avail,
And the end I could not know.
How could I tell I should love thee to-day,
Whom that day I held not daer?
How could I know I should love thee away,
When I did not love thee anear?

We shall walk no more through the sodden plain
With the faded bents o'erspread;
We shall stand no more by the seething main
While the dark wrack drives o'erhead;
We shall part no more in the wind and the rain,
Where thy last farewell was said;
But perhaps I shall meet thee and know thee again
When the sea gives up her dead.

F. Asleep at last, and time he was, indeed.
Turn back the cradle-quilt, and lay him in;
And, mother, will you please to draw your chair? —
The supper's ready.

Poems - Written On The Deaths Of Three Lovely Children



Yellow leaves, how fast they flutter—woodland hollows thickly strewing,
Where the wan October sunbeams scantly in the mid-day win,
While the dim gray clouds are drifting, and in saddened hues imbuing
All without and all within!

All within! but winds of autumn, little Henry, round their dwelling
Did not load your father's spirit with those deep and burdened sighs;—
Only echoed thoughts of sadness, in your mother's bosom swelling,
Fast as tears that dim her eyes.

Life is fraught with many changes, checked with sorrow and mutation,
But no grief it ever lightened such a truth before to know:—
I behold them—father, mother—as they seem to contemplation,
Only three short weeks ago!

Saddened for the morrow's parting—up the stairs at midnight stealing—
As with cautious foot we glided past the children's open door,—
'Come in here,' they said, the lamplight dimpled forms at last revealing,
'Kiss them in their sleep once more.'

You were sleeping, little Henry, with your eyelids scarcely closing,
Two sweet faces near together, with their rounded arms entwined:—
And the rose-bud lips were moving, as if stirred in their reposing
By the movements of the mind!

And your mother smoothed the pillow, and her sleeping treasures numbered,
Whispering fondly—'He is dreaming'—as you turned upon your bed—
And your father stooped to kiss you, happy dreamer, as you slumbered,
With his hand upon your head!

Did he know the true deep meaning of his blessing? No! he never
Heard afar the summons uttered—'Come up hither'—Never knew
How the awful Angel faces kept his sleeping boy for ever,
And for ever in their view.

Awful Faces, unimpassioned, silent Presences were by us,
Shrouding wings—majestic beings—hidden by this earthly veil—
Such as we have called on, saying, 'Praise the Lord, O Ananias,
Azarias and Misael!'

But we saw not, and who knoweth, what the missioned Spirits taught him,
To that one small bed drawn nearer, when we left him to their will?
While he slumbered, who can answer for what dreams they may have brought
When at midnight all was still?

Father! Mother! must you leave him on his bed, but not to slumber?
Are the small hands meekly folded on his breast, but not to pray?
When you count your children over, must you tell a different number,
Since that happier yesterday?

Father! Mother! weep if need be, since this is a 'time' for weeping,
Comfort comes not for the calling, grief is never argued down—
Coldly sounds the admonition, 'Why lament? in better keeping
Rests the child than in your own.'

'Truth indeed! but, oh! compassion! Have you sought to scan my sorrow?'
(Mother, you shall meekly ponder, list'ning to that common tale)
'Does your heart repeat its echo, or by fellow-feeling borrow
Even a tone that might avail?

'Might avail to steal it from me, by its deep heart-warm affection?
Might perceive by strength of loving how the fond words to combine?
Surely no! I will be silent, in your soul is no reflection
Of the care that burdens mine!'

When the winter twilight gathers, Father, and your thoughts shall wander,
Sitting lonely you shall blend him with your listless reveries,
Half forgetful what division holds the form whereon you ponder
From its place upon your knees—

With a start of recollection, with a half-reproachful wonder,
Of itself the heart shall question, 'Art Thou then no longer here?
Is it so, my little Henry? Are we set so far asunder
Who were wont to be so near?'

While the fire-light dimly flickers, and the lengthened shades are meeting,
To itself the heart shall answer, 'He shall come to me no more:
I shall never hear his footsteps nor the child's sweet voice entreating
For admission at my door.'

But upon your fair, fair forehead, no regrets nor griefs are dwelling,
Neither sorrow nor disquiet do the peaceful features know;
Nor that look, whose wistful beauty seemed their sad hearts to be telling,
'Daylight breaketh, let me go!'

Daylight breaketh, little Henry; in its beams your soul awaketh—
What though night should close around us, dim and dreary to the view—
Though our souls should walk in darkness, far away that morning breaketh
Into endless day for you!



They have left you, little Henry, but they have not left you lonely—
Brothers' hearts so knit together could not, might not separate dwell.
Fain to seek you in the mansions far away—One lingered only
To bid those behind farewell!

Gentle Boy!—His childlike nature in most guileless form was moulded,
And it may be that his spirit woke in glory unaware,
Since so calmly he resigned it, with his hands still meekly folded,
Having said his evening prayer.

Or—if conscious of that summons—'Speak, O Lord, Thy servant heareth'—
As one said, whose name they gave him, might his willing answer be,
'Here am I'—like him replying—'At Thy gates my soul appeareth,
For behold Thou calledst me!'

A deep silence—utter silence, on his earthly home descendeth:—
Reading, playing, sleeping, waking—he is gone, and few remain!
'O the loss!'—they utter, weeping—every voice its echo lendeth—
'O the loss!'—But, O the gain!

On that tranquil shore his spirit was vouchsafed an early landing,
Lest the toils of crime should stain it, or the thrall of guilt control—
Lest that 'wickedness should alter the yet simple understanding,
Or deceit beguile his soul!'

'Lay not up on earth thy treasure'—they have read that sentence duly,
Moth and rust shall fret thy riches—earthly good hath swift decay—
'Even so,' each heart replieth—'As for me, my riches truly
Make them wings and flee away!'

'O my riches!—O my children!—dearest part of life and being,
Treasures looked to for the solace of this life's declining years,—
Were our voices cold to hearing—or our faces cold to seeing,
That ye left us to our tears?'

'We inherit conscious silence, ceasing of some merry laughter,
And the hush of two sweet voices—(healing sounds for spirits bruised!)
Of the tread of joyous footsteps in the pathway following after,
Of two names no longer used!'

Question for them, little Sister, in your sweet and childish fashion—
Search and seek them, Baby Brother, with your calm and asking eyes—
Dimpled lips that fail to utter fond appeal or sad compassion,
Mild regret or dim surprise!

There are two tall trees above you, by the high east window growing,
Underneath them, slumber sweetly, lapt in silence deep, serene;
Save, when pealing in the distance, organ notes towards you flowing
Echo—with a pause between!

And that pause?—a voice shall fill it—tones that blessed you daily,
Well beloved, but not sufficing, Sleepers, to awake you now,
Though so near he stand, that shadows from your trees may tremble lightly
On his book and on his brow!

Sleep then ever! Neither singing of sweet birds shall break your slumber,
Neither fall of dew, nor sunshine, dance of leaves, nor drift of snow,
Charm those dropt lids more to open, nor the tranquil bosoms cumber
With one care for things below!

It is something, the assurance, that you ne'er shall feel like sorrow,
Weep no past and dread no future—know not sighing, feel not pain—
Nor a day that looketh forward to a mournfuller to-morrow—
'Clouds returning after rain!'

No, far off, the daylight breaketh, in its beams each soul awaketh:
'What though clouds,' they sigh, 'be gathered dark and stormy to the
Though the light our eyes forsaketh, fresh and sweet behold it breaketh
Into endless day for you!'



All rough winds are hushed and silent, golden light the meadow steepeth,
And the last October roses daily wax more pale and fair;
They have laid a gathered blossom on the breast of one who sleepeth
With a sunbeam on her hair.

Calm, and draped in snowy raiment she lies still, as one that dreameth,
And a grave sweet smile hath parted dimpled lips that may not speak;
Slanting down that narrow sunbeam like a ray of glory gleameth
On the sainted brow and cheek.

There is silence! They who watch her, speak no word of grief or wailing,
In a strange unwonted calmness they gaze on and cannot cease,
Though the pulse of life beat faintly, thought shrink back, and hope be
They, like Aaron, 'hold their peace.'

While they gaze on her, the deep bell with its long slow pauses soundeth;
Long they hearken—father—mother—love has nothing more to say:
Beating time to feet of Angels leading her where love aboundeth
Tolls the heavy bell this day.

Still in silence to its tolling they count over all her meetness
To lie near their hearts and soothe them in all sorrows and all fears;
Her short life lies spread before them, but they cannot tell her
Easily as tell her years.

Only daughter—Ah! how fondly Thought around that lost name lingers,
Oft when lone your mother sitteth, she shall weep and droop her head,
She shall mourn her baby-sempstress, with those imitative fingers,
Drawing out her aimless thread.

In your father's Future cometh many a sad uncheered to-morrow,
But in sleep shall three fair faces heavenly-calm towards him lean—
Like a threefold cord shall draw him through the weariness of sorrow,
Nearer to the things unseen.

With the closing of your eyelids close the dreams of expectation,
And so ends the fairest chapter in the records of their way:
Therefore—O thou God most holy—God of rest and consolation,
Be Thou near to them this day!

Be Thou near, when they shall nightly, by the bed of infant brothers,
Hear their soft and gentle breathing, and shall bless them on their
And shall think how coldly falleth the white moonlight on the others,
In their bed beneath the trees.

Be Thou near, when they, they only, bear those faces in remembrance,
And the number of their children strangers ask them with a smile;
And when other childlike faces touch them by the strong resemblance
To those turned to them erewhile.

Be Thou near, each chastened Spirit for its course and conflict nerving,
Let Thy voice say, 'Father—mother—lo! thy treasures live above!
Now be strong, be strong, no longer cumbered over much with serving
At the shrine of human love.'

Let them sleep! In course of ages e'en the Holy House shall crumble,
And the broad and stately steeple one day bend to its decline,
And high arches, ancient arches bowed and decked in clothing humble,
Creeping moss shall round them twine.

Ancient arches, old and hoary, sunny beams shall glimmer through them,
And invest them with a beauty we would fain they should not share,
And the moonlight slanting down them, the white moonlight shall imbue them
With a sadness dim and fair.

Then the soft green moss shall wrap you, and the world shall all forget
Life, and stir, and toil, and tumult unawares shall pass you by;
Generations come and vanish: but it shall not grieve nor fret you,
That they sin, or that they sigh.

And the world, grown old in sinning, shall deny her first beginning,
And think scorn of words which whisper how that all must pass away;
Time's arrest and intermission shall account a vain tradition,
And a dream, the reckoning day!

Till His blast, a blast of terror, shall awake in shame and sadness
Faithless millions to a vision of the failing earth and skies,
And more sweet than song of Angels, in their shout of joy and gladness,
Call the dead in Christ to rise!

Then, by One Man's intercession, standing clear from their transgression,
Father—mother—you shall meet them fairer than they were before,
And have joy with the Redeem褬 joy ear hath not heard heart dream褬
Ay for ever—evermore!

Afternoon At A Parsonage


What wonder man should fail to stay
A nursling wafted from above,
The growth celestial come astray,
That tender growth whose name is Love!

It is as if high winds in heaven
Had shaken the celestial trees,
And to this earth below had given
Some feathered seeds from one of these.

O perfect love that ’dureth long!
Dear growth, that shaded by the palms.
And breathed on by the angel’s song,
Blooms on in heaven’s eternal calms!

How great the task to guard thee here,
Where wind is rough and frost is keen,
And all the ground with doubt and fear
Is checkered, birth and death between!

Space is against thee—­it can part;
Time is against thee—­it can chill;
Words—­they but render half the heart;
Deeds—­they are poor to our rich will.


Merton. Though she had loved me, I had never bound
Her beauty to my darkness; that had been
Too hard for her. Sadder to look so near
Into a face all shadow, than to stand
Aloof, and then withdraw, and afterwards
Suffer forgetfulness to comfort her.
I think so, and I loved her; therefore I
Have no complaint; albeit she is not mine:
And yet—­and yet, withdrawing I would fain
She would have pleaded duty—­would have said
“My father wills it”; would have turned away,
As lingering, or unwillingly; for then
She would have done no damage to the past:
Now she has roughly used it—­flung it down
And brushed its bloom away. If she had said,
“Sir, I have promised; therefore, lo! my hand”—­
Would I have taken it? Ah no! by all
Most sacred, no!
I would for my sole share
Have taken first her recollected blush
The day I won her; next her shining tears—­
The tears of our long parting; and for all
The rest—­her cry, her bitter heart-sick cry,
That day or night (I know not which it was,
The days being always night), that darkest night.
When being led to her I heard her cry,
“O blind! blind! blind!”
Go with thy chosen mate:
The fashion of thy going nearly cured
The sorrow of it. I am yet so weak
That half my thoughts go after thee; but not
So weak that I desire to have it so.

JESSIE, seated at the piano, sings.

When the dimpled water slippeth,
Full of laughter, on its way,
And her wing the wagtail dippeth,
Running by the brink at play;
When the poplar leaves atremble
Turn their edges to the light,
And the far-up clouds resemble
Veils of gauze most clear and white;
And the sunbeams fall and flatter
Woodland moss and branches brown.
And the glossy finches chatter
Up and down, up and down:
Though the heart be not attending,
Having music of her own,
On the grass, through meadows wending,
It is sweet to walk alone.

When the falling waters utter
Something mournful on their way,
And departing swallows flutter,
Taking leave of bank and brae;
When the chaffinch idly sitteth
With her mate upon the sheaves,
And the wistful robin flitteth
Over beds of yellow leaves;
When the clouds, like ghosts that ponder
Evil fate, float by and frown,
And the listless wind doth wander
Up and down, up and down:
Though the heart be not attending,
Having sorrows of her own,
Through the fields and fallows wending,
It is sad to walk alone.

Merton. Blind! blind! blind!
Oh! sitting in the dark for evermore,
And doing nothing—­putting out a hand
To feel what lies about me, and to say
Not “This is blue or red,” but “This is cold,
And this the sun is shining on, and this
I know not till they tell its name to me.”

O that I might behold once more my God!
The shining rulers of the night and day;
Or a star twinkling; or an almond-tree,
Pink with her blossom and alive with bees,
Standing against the azure! O my sight!
Lost, and yet living in the sunlit cells
Of memory—­that only lightsome place
Where lingers yet the dayspring of my youth:
The years of mourning for thy death are long.

Be kind, sweet memory! O desert me not!
For oft thou show’st me lucent opal seas,
Fringed with their cocoa-palms and dwarf red crags,
Whereon the placid moon doth “rest her chin”,
For oft by favor of thy visitings
I feel the dimness of an Indian night,
And lo! the sun is coming. Red as rust
Between the latticed blind his presence burns,
A ruby ladder running up the wall;
And all the dust, printed with pigeons’ feet,
Is reddened, and the crows that stalk anear
Begin to trail for heat their glossy wings,
And the red flowers give back at once the dew,
For night is gone, and day is born so fast,
And is so strong, that, huddled as in flight,
The fleeting darkness paleth to a shade,
And while she calls to sleep and dreams “Come on,”
Suddenly waked, the sleepers rub their eyes,
Which having opened, lo! she is no more.

O misery and mourning! I have felt—­
Yes, I have felt like some deserted world
That God had done with, and had cast aside
To rock and stagger through the gulfs of space,
He never looking on it any more—­
Untilled, no use, no pleasure, not desired,
Nor lighted on by angels in their flight
From heaven to happier planets, and the race
That once had dwelt on it withdrawn or dead
Could such a world have hope that some blest day
God would remember her, and fashion her

Jessie. What, dearest? Did you speak to me?

Child. I think he spoke to us.

M. No, little elves, You were so quiet that I half forgot Your neighborhood. What are you doing there?

J. They sit together on the window-mat Nursing their dolls.

C. Yes, Uncle, our new dolls—­ Our best dolls, that you gave us.

M. Did you say The afternoon was bright?

J. Yes, bright indeed! The sun is on the plane-tree, and it flames All red and orange.

C. I can see my father—­ Look! look! the leaves are falling on his gown.

M. Where?

C. In the churchyard, Uncle—­he is gone: He passed behind the tower.

M. I heard a bell: There is a funeral, then, behind the church.

2d Child. Are the trees sorry when their leaves dropp off?

1st Child. You talk such silly words;—­no, not at all. There goes another leaf.

2d Child. I did not see.

1st Child. Look! on the grass, between the little hills. Just where they planted Amy.

J. Amy died—­ Dear little Amy! when you talk of her, Say, she is gone to heaven.

2d Child. They planted her—­ Will she come up next year?

1st Child. No, not so soon; But some day God will call her to come up, And then she will. Papa knows everything—­ He said she would before he planted her.

2d Child. It was at night she went to heaven. Last night We saw a star before we went to bed.

1st Child. Yes, Uncle, did you know? A large bright star, And at her side she had some little ones—­ Some young ones.

M. Young ones! no, my little maid, Those stars are very old.

1st Child. What! all of them?

M. Yes.

1st Child. Older than our father?

M. Older, far.

2d Child. They must be tired of shining there so long. Perhaps they wish they might come down.

J. Perhaps! Dear children, talk of what you understand. Come, I must lift the trailing creepers up That last night’s wind has loosened.

1st Child. May we help? Aunt, may we help to nail them?

J. We shall see. Go, find and bring the hammer, and some shreds.

[Steps outside the window, lifts a branch, and sings.]

Should I change my allegiance for rancor
If fortune changes her side?
Or should I, like a vessel at anchor,
Turn with the turn of the tide?
Lift! O lift, thou lowering sky;
An thou wilt, thy gloom forego!
An thou wilt not, he and I
Need not part for drifts of snow.

M. [within] Lift! no, thou lowering sky, thou wilt not lift—­ Thy motto readeth, “Never.”

Children. Here they are! Here are the nails! and may we help?

J. You shall, If I should want help.

1st Child. Will you want it, then? Please want it—­we like nailing.

2d Child. Yes, we do.

J. It seems I ought to want it: hold the bough, And each may nail in turn.


Like a daisy I was, near him growing:
Must I move because favors flag,
And be like a brown wall-flower blowing
Far out of reach in a crag?
Lift! O lift, thou lowering sky;
An thou canst, thy blue regain!
An thou canst not, he and I
Need not part for drops of rain.

1st Child. Now, have we nailed enough?

J. [trains the creepers] Yes, you may go; But do not play too near the churchyard path.

M. [within] Even misfortune does not strike so near
As my dependence. O, in youth and strength
To sit a timid coward in the dark,
And feel before I set a cautious step!
It is so very dark, so far more dark
Than any night that day comes after—­night
In which there would be stars, or else at least
The silvered portion of a sombre cloud
Through which the moon is plunging.

J. [entering] Merton!

M. Yes

J. Dear Merton, did you know that I could hear?

M. No: e’en my solitude is not mine now, And if I be alone is ofttimes doubt. Alas! far more than eyesight have I lost; For manly courage drifteth after it—­ E’en as a splintered spar would drift away From some dismasted wreck. Hear, I complain—­ Like a weak ailing woman I complain.

J. For the first time.

M. I cannot bear the dark.

J. My brother! you do bear it—­bear it well—­ Have borne it twelve long months, and not complained Comfort your heart with music: all the air Is warm with sunbeams where the organ stands. You like to feel them on you. Come and play.

M. My fate, my fate is lonely!

J. So it is—­ I know it is.

M. And pity breaks my heart.

J. Does it, dear Merton?

M. Yes, I say it does.
What! do you think I am so dull of ear
That I can mark no changes in the tones
That reach me? Once I liked not girlish pride
And that coy quiet, chary of reply,
That held me distant: now the sweetest lips
Open to entertain me—­fairest hands
Are proffered me to guide.

J. That is not well?

M. No: give me coldness, pride, or still disdain,
Gentle withdrawal. Give me anything
But this—­a fearless, sweet, confiding ease,
Whereof I may expect, I may exact,
Considerate care, and have it—­gentle speech,
And have it. Give me anything but this!
For they who give it, give it in the faith
That I will not misdeem them, and forget
My doom so far as to perceive thereby
Hope of a wife. They make this thought too plain;
They wound me—­O they cut me to the heart!
When have I said to any one of them,
“I am a blind and desolate man;—­come here,
I pray you—­be as eyes to me?” When said,
Even to her whose pitying voice is sweet
To my dark ruined heart, as must be hands
That clasp a lifelong captive’s through the grate,
And who will ever lend her delicate aid
To guide me, dark encumbrance that I am!—­
When have I said to her, “Comforting voice,
Belonging to a face unknown, I pray
Be my wife’s voice?”

J. Never, my brother—­no, You never have!

M. What could she think of me If I forgot myself so far? or what Could she reply?

J. You ask not as men ask Who care for an opinion, else perhaps, Although I am not sure—­although, perhaps, I have no right to give one—­I should say She would reply, “I will”


Man dwells apart, though not alone,
He walks among his peers unread;
The best of thoughts which he hath known.
For lack of listeners are not said.

Yet dreaming on earth’s clustered isles,
He saith “They dwell not lone like men,
Forgetful that their sunflecked smiles
Flash far beyond each other’s ken.”

He looks on God’s eternal suns
That sprinkle the celestial blue,
And saith, “Ah! happy shining ones,
I would that men were grouped like you!”

Yet this is sure, the loveliest star
That clustered with its peers we see,
Only because from us so far
Doth near its fellows seem to be.

Honours - Part 2

The Answer.

As one who, journeying, checks the rein in haste
Because a chasm doth yawn across his way
Too wide for leaping, and too steeply faced
For climber to essay—

As such an one, being brought to sudden stand,
Doubts all his foregone path if 't were the true,
And turns to this and then to the other hand
As knowing not what to do,—

So I, being checked, am with my path at strife
Which led to such a chasm, and there doth end.
False path! it cost me priceless years of life,
My well-beloved friend.

There fell a flute when Ganymede went up—
The flute that he was wont to play upon:
It dropped beside the jonquil's milk-white cup,
And freckled cowslips wan—

Dropped from his heedless hand when, dazed and mute,
He sailed upon the eagle's quivering wing,
Aspiring, panting—ay, it dropped—the flute
Erewhile a cherished thing.

Among the delicate grasses and the bells
Of crocuses that spotted a rill side,
I picked up such a flute, and its clear swells
To my young lips replied.

I played thereon, and its response was sweet:
But lo, they took from me that solacing reed.
'O shame!' they said; 'such music is not meet;
Go up like Ganymede.

'Go up, despise these humble grassy things,
Sit on the golden edge of yonder cloud.'
Alas! though ne'er for me those eagle wings
Stooped from their eyrie proud.

My flute! and flung away its echoes sleep;
But as for me, my life-pulse beateth low.
And like a last-year's leaf enshrouded deep
Under the drifting snow,

Or like some vessel wrecked upon the sand
Of torrid swamps, with all her merchandise,
And left to rot betwixt the sea and land,
My helpless spirit lies.

Rueing, I think for what then was I made,
What end appointed for—what use designed?
Now let me right this heart that was bewrayed—
Unveil these eyes gone blind.

My well-beloved friend, at noon to-day
Over our cliffs a white mist lay unfurled,
So thick, one standing on their brink might say,
Lo, here doth end the world.

A white abyss beneath, and nought beside;
Yet, hark! a cropping sound not ten feet down:
Soon I could trace some browsing lambs that hied
Through rock-paths cleft and brown.

And here and there green tufts of grass peered through,
Salt lavender, and sea thrift; then behold,
The mist, subsiding ever, bared to view
A beast of giant mould.

She seemed a great sea monster lying content
With all her cubs about her: but deep—deep—
The subtle mist went floating; its descent
Showed the world's end was steep.

It shook, it melted, shaking more, till, lo,
The sprawling monster was a rock; her brood
Were boulders, whereon seamews white as snow
Sat watching for their food.

Then once again it sank, its day was done:
Part rolled away, part vanished utterly,
And glimmering softly under the white sun,
Behold! a great white sea.

O that the mist which veileth my To-come
Would so dissolve and yield unto mine eyes
A worthy path! I 'd count not wearisome
Long toil, nor enterprise,

But strain to reach it; ay, with wrestlings stout
And hopes that even in the dark will grow
(Like plants in dungeons, reaching feelers out),
And ploddings wary and slow.

Is there such path already made to fit
The measure of my foot? It shall atone
For much, if I at length may light on it
And know it for mine own.

But is there none? why, then, 't is more than well:
And glad at heart myself will hew one out,
Let me be only sure; for, sooth to tell,
The sorest dole is doubt—

Doubt, a blank twilight of the heart, which mars
All sweetest colours in its dimness same;
A soul-mist, through whose rifts familiar stars
Beholding, we misname.

A ripple on the inner sea, which shakes
Those images that on its breast reposed,
A fold upon a wind-swayed flag, that breaks
The motto it disclosed.

O doubt! O doubt! I know my destiny,
I feel thee fluttering bird-like in my breast;
I cannot loose, but I will sing to thee,
And flatter thee to rest.

There is no certainty, 'my bosom's guest,'
No proving for the things whereof ye wot;
For, like the dead to sight unmanifest.
They are, and they are not.

But surely as they are, for God is truth,
And as they are not, for we saw them die,
So surely from the heaven drops light for youth,
If youth will walk thereby.

And can I see this light? It may be so;
'But see it thus and thus,' my fathers said.
The living do not rule this world; ah no!
It is the dead, the dead.

Shall I be slave to every noble soul,
Study the dead, and to their spirits bend;
Or learn to read my own heart's folded scroll,
And make self-rule my end?

Thought from without—O shall I take on trust,
And life from others modelled steal or win;
Or shall I heave to light, and clear of rust
My true life from within?

O, let me be myself! But where, O where,
Under this heap of precedent, this mound
Of customs, modes, and maxims, cumbrance rare,
Shall the Myself be found?

O thou Myself, thy fathers thee debarred
None of their wisdom, but their folly came
Therewith; they smoothed thy path, but made it hard
For thee to quit the same.

With glosses they obscured God's natural truth,
And with tradition tarnished His revealed;
With vain protections they endangered youth,
With layings bare they sealed.

What aileth thee, myself? Alas! thy hands
Are tired with old opinions—heir and son,
Thou hast inherited thy father's lands
And all his debts thereon.

O that some power would give me Adam's eyes!
O for the straight simplicity of Eve!
For I see nought, or grow, poor fool, too wise
With seeing to believe.

Exemplars may be heaped until they hide
The rules that they were made to render plain;
Love may be watched, her nature to decide,
Until love's self doth wane.

Ah me! and when forgotten and foregone
We leave the learning of departed days,
And cease the generations past to con,
Their wisdom and their ways—

When fain to learn we lean into the dark,
And grope to feel the floor of the abyss,
Or find the secret boundary lines which mark
Where soul and matter kiss—

Fair world! these puzzled souls of ours grow weak
With beating their bruised wings against the rim
That bounds their utmost flying, when they seek
The distant and the dim.

We pant, we strain like birds against their wires;
Are sick to reach the vast and the beyond;—
And what avails, if still to our desires
Those far-off gulfs respond?

Contentment comes not therefore; still there lies
An outer distance when the first is hailed,
And still for ever yawns before our eyes
An UTMOST—that is veiled.

Searching those edges of the universe,
We leave the central fields a fallow part;
To feed the eye more precious things amerce,
And starve the darkened heart.

Then all goes wrong: the old foundations rock;
One scorns at him of old who gazed unshod;
One striking with a pickaxe thinks the shock
Shall move the seat of God.

A little way, a very little way
(Life is so short), they dig into the rind,
And they are very sorry, so they say,—
Sorry for what they find.

But truth is sacred—ay, and must be told:
There is a story long beloved of man;
We must forego it, for it will not hold—
Nature had no such plan.

And then, 'if God hath said it,' some should cry,
'We have the story from the fountain-head:
Why, then, what better than the old reply,
The first 'Yea, HATH God said?'

The garden, O the garden, must it go,
Source of our hope and our most dear regret?
The ancient story, must it no more show
How man may win it yet?

And all upon the Titan child's decree,
The baby science, born but yesterday,
That in its rash unlearned infancy
With shells and stones at play,

And delving in the outworks of this world,
And little crevices that it could reach,
Discovered certain bones laid up, and furled
Under an ancient beach,

And other waifs that lay to its young mind
Some fathoms lower than they ought to lie,
By gain whereof it could not fail to find
Much proof of ancientry,

Hints at a pedigree withdrawn and vast,
Terrible deeps, and old obscurities,
Or soulless origin, and twilight passed
In the primeval seas,

Whereof it tells, as thinking it hath been
Of truth not meant for man inheritor;
As if this knowledge Heaven had ne'er foreseen
And not provided for!

Knowledge ordained to live! although the fate
Of much that went before it was—to die,
And be called ignorance by such as wait
Till the next drift comes by.

O marvellous credulity of man!
If God indeed kept secret, couldst thou know
Or follow up the mighty Artisan
Unless He willed it so?

And canst thou of the Maker think in sooth
That of the Made He shall be found at fault,
And dream of wresting from Him hidden truth
By force or by assault?

But if He keeps not secret—if thine eyes
He openeth to His wondrous work of late—
Think how in soberness thy wisdom lies,
And have the grace to wait.

Wait, nor against the half-learned lesson fret,
Nor chide at old belief as if it erred,
Because thou canst not reconcile as yet
The Worker and the word.

Either the Worker did in ancient days
Give us the word, His tale of love and might;
(And if in truth He gave it us, who says
He did not give it right?)

Or else He gave it not, and then indeed
We know not if HE IS—by whom our years
Are portioned, who the orphan moons doth lead,
And the unfathered spheres.

We sit unowned upon our burial sod,
And know not whence we come or whose we be,
Comfortless mourners for the mount of God,
The rocks of Calvary:

Bereft of heaven, and of the long-loved page
Wrought us by some who thought with death to cope
Despairing comforters, from age to age
Sowing the seeds of hope:

Gracious deceivers, who have lifted us
Out of the slough where passed our unknown youth;
Beneficent liars, who have gifted us
With sacred love of truth!

Farewell to them: yet pause ere thou unmoor
And set thine ark adrift on unknown seas;
How wert thou bettered so, or more secure
Thou, and thy destinies?

And if then searchest, and art made to fear
Facing of unread riddles dark and hard,
And mastering not their majesty austere,
Their meaning locked and barred:

How would it make the weight and wonder less,
If, lifted from immortal shoulders down,
The worlds were cast on seas of emptiness
In realms without a crown,

And (if there were no God) were left to rue
Dominion of the air and of the fire?
Then if there be a God, 'Let God be true,
And every man a liar.'

But as for me, I do not speak as one
That is exempt: I am with life at feud:
My heart reproacheth me, as there were none
Of so small gratitude.

Wherewith shall I console thee, heart o' mine,
And still thy yearning and resolve thy doubt?
That which I know, and that which I divine,
Alas! have left thee out.

I have aspired to know the might of God,
As if the story of His love was furled,
Nor sacred foot the grasses e'er had trod
Of this redeemèd world:—

Have sunk my thoughts as lead into the deep,
To grope for that abyss whence evil grew,
And spirits of ill, with eyes that cannot weep,
Hungry and desolate flew;

As if their legions did not one day crowd
The death-pangs of the Conquering Good to see!
As if a sacred head had never bowed
In death for man—for me!

Nor ransomed back the souls beloved, the sons
Of men, from thraldom with the nether kings
In that dark country where those evil ones
Trail their unhallowed wings.

And didst Thou love the race that loved not Thee,
And didst Thou take to heaven a human brow?
Dost plead with man's voice by the marvellous sea?
Art Thou his kinsman now?

O God, O kinsman loved, but not enough!
O man, with eyes majestic after death,
Whose feet have toiled along our pathways rough,
Whose lips drawn human breath!

By that one likeness which is ours and Thine,
By that one nature which doth hold us kin,
By that high heaven where, sinless, Thou dost shine
To draw us sinners in,

By Thy last silence in the judgement-hall,
By long foreknowledge of the deadly tree,
By, darkness, by the wormwood and the gall,
I pray Thee visit me.

Come, lest this heart should, cold and cast away
Die ere the guest adored she entertain—
Lest eyes which never saw Thine earthly day
Should miss Thy heavenly reign.

Collie weary-eyed from seeking in the nip night
Thy wanderers strayed upon the pathless wold,
Who wounded, dying, cry to Thee for light,
And cannot find their fold.

And deign, O Watcher, with the sleepless brow,
Pathetic in its yearning—deign reply:
Is there, O is there aught that such as Thou
Wouldst take from such as I?

Are there no briars across Thy pathway thrust?
Are there no thorns that compass it about?
Nor any stones that Thou wilt deign to trust
My hands to gather out?

O, if Thou wilt, and if such bliss might be,
It were a cure for doubt, regret, delay—
Let my lost pathway go—what aileth me?—
There is a better way.

What though unmarked the happy workman toil,
And break unthanked of man the stubborn clod?
It is enough, for sacred is the soil,
Dear are the hills of God.

Far better in its place the lowliest bird
Should sing aright to Him the lowliest song,
Than that a seraph strayed should take the word
And sing His glory wrong.

Friend, it is time to work. I say to thee,
Thou dost all earthly good by much excel;
Thou and God's blessing are enough for me
My work, my work—farewell!

Songs Of The Night Watches (Complete)

(Old English Manner.)


Come out and hear the waters shoot, the owlet hoot, the owlet hoot;
Yon crescent moon, a golden boat, hangs dim behind the tree, O!
The dropping thorn makes white the grass, O sweetest lass, and sweetest
Come out and smell the ricks of hay adown the croft with me, O!”

“My granny nods before her wheel, and drops her reel, and drops her reel;
My father with his crony talks as gay as gay can be, O!
But all the milk is yet to skim, ere light wax dim, ere light wax dim;
How can I step adown the croft, my ’prentice lad, with
thee, O?”

“And must ye bide, yet waiting’s long, and love is strong, and love is
And O! had I but served the time, that takes so long to flee, O!
And thou, my lass, by morning’s light wast all in white, wast all in
And parson stood within the rails, a-marrying me and thee, O.”


O, I would tell you more, but I am tired;
For I have longed, and I have had my will;
I pleaded in my spirit, I desired:
“Ah! let me only see him, and be still
All my days after.”
Rock, and rock, and rock,
Over the falling, rising watery world,
Sail, beautiful ship, along the leaping main;
The chirping land-birds follow flock on flock
To light on a warmer plain.
White as weaned lambs the little wavelets curled,
Fall over in harmless play,
As these do far away;
Sail, bird of doom, along the shimmering sea,
All under thy broad wings that overshadow thee.

I am so tired,
If I would comfort me, I know not how,
For I have seen thee, lad, as I desired,
And I have nothing left to long for now.

Nothing at all. And did I wait for thee,
Often and often, while the light grew dim,
And through the lilac branches I could see,
Under a saffron sky, the purple rim
O’ the heaving moorland? Ay. And then would float
Up from behind as it were a golden boat,
Freighted with fancies, all o’ the wonder of life,
Love—­such a slender moon, going up and up,
Waxing so fast from night to night,
And swelling like an orange flower-bud, bright,
Fated, methought, to round as to a golden cup,
And hold to my two lips life’s best of wine.
Most beautiful crescent moon,
Ship of the sky!
Across the unfurrowed reaches sailing high.
Methought that it would come my way full soon,
Laden with blessings that were all, all mine,—­
A golden ship, with balm and spiceries rife,
That ere its day was done should hear thee call me wife.

All over! the celestial sign hath failed;
The orange flower-bud shuts; the ship hath sailed,
And sunk behind the long low-lying hills.
The love that fed on daily kisses dieth;
The love kept warm by nearness, lieth
Wounded and wan;
The love hope nourished bitter tears distils,
And faints with naught to feed upon.
Only there stirreth very deep below
The hidden beating slow,
And the blind yearning, and the long-drawn breath
Of the love that conquers death.

Had we not loved full long, and lost all fear,
My ever, my only dear?
Yes; and I saw thee start upon thy way,
So sure that we should meet
Upon our trysting-day.
And even absence then to me was sweet,
Because it brought me time to brood
Upon thy dearness in the solitude.
But ah! to stay, and stay,
And let that moon of April wane itself away,
And let the lovely May
Make ready all her buds for June;
And let the glossy finch forego her tune
That she brought with her in the spring,
And never more, I think, to me can sing;
And then to lead thee home another bride,
In the sultry summer tide,
And all forget me save for shame full sore,
That made thee pray me, absent, “See my face no more.”

O hard, most hard! But while my fretted heart
Shut out, shut down, and full of pain,
Sobbed to itself apart,
Ached to itself in vain,
One came who loveth me
As I love thee….
And let my God remember him for this,
As I do hope He will forget thy kiss,
Nor visit on thy stately head
Aught that thy mouth hath sworn, or thy two eyes have said….
He came, and it was dark. He came, and sighed
Because he knew the sorrow,—­whispering low,
And fast, and thick, as one that speaks by rote:
“The vessel lieth in the river reach,
A mile above the beach,
And she will sail at the turning o’ the tide.”
He said, “I have a boat,
And were it good to go,
And unbeholden in the vessel’s wake
Look on the man thou lovedst, and forgive,
As he embarks, a shamefaced fugitive.
Come, then, with me.”

O, how he sighed! The little stars did wink,
And it was very dark. I gave my hand,—­
He led me out across the pasture land,
And through the narrow croft,
Down to the river’s brink.
When thou wast full in spring, thou little sleepy thing,
The yellow flags that broidered thee would stand
Up to their chins in water, and full oft
WE pulled them and the other shining flowers,
That all are gone to-day:
WE two, that had so many things to say,
So many hopes to render clear:
And they are all gone after thee, my dear,—­
Gone after those sweet hours,
That tender light, that balmy rain;
Gone “as a wind that passeth away,
And cometh not again.”

I only saw the stars,—­I could not see
The river,—­and they seemed to lie
As far below as the other stars were high.
I trembled like a thing about to die:
It was so awful ’neath the majesty
Of that great crystal height, that overhung
The blackness at our feet,
Unseen to fleet and fleet
The flocking stars among,
And only hear the dipping of the oar,
And the small wave’s caressing of the darksome shore.

Less real it was than any dream.
Ah me! to hear the bending willows shiver,
As we shot quickly from the silent river,
And felt the swaying and the flow
That bore us down the deeper, wider stream,
Whereto its nameless waters go:
O! I shall always, when I shut mine eyes,
See that weird sight again;
The lights from anchored vessels hung;
The phantom moon, that sprung
Suddenly up in dim and angry wise,
From the rim o’ the moaning main,
And touched with elfin light
The two long oars whereby we made our flight,
Along the reaches of the night;
Then furrowed up a lowering cloud,
Went in, and left us darker than before,
To feel our way as the midnight watches wore,
And lie in HER lee, with mournful faces bowed,
That should receive and bear with her away
The brightest portion of my sunniest day,—­
The laughter of the land, the sweetness of the shore.

And I beheld thee: saw the lantern flash
Down on thy face, when thou didst climb the side.
And thou wert pale, pale as the patient bride
That followed; both a little sad,
Leaving of home and kin. Thy courage glad,
That once did bear thee on,
That brow of thine had lost; the fervor rash
Of unforeboding youth thou hadst foregone.
O, what a little moment, what a crumb
Of comfort for a heart to feed upon!
And that was all its sum;
A glimpse, and not a meeting,—­
A drawing near by night,
To sigh to thee an unacknowledged greeting,
And all between the flashing of a light
And its retreating.

Then after, ere she spread her wafting wings,
The ship,—­and weighed her anchor to depart,
We stole from her dark lee, like guilty things;
And there was silence in my heart,
And silence in the upper and the nether deep.
O sleep! O sleep!
Do not forget me. Sometimes come and sweep,
Now I have nothing left, thy healing hand
Over the lids that crave thy visits bland,
Thou kind, thou comforting one:
For I have seen his face, as I desired,
And all my story is done.
O, I am tired!

I woke in the night, and the darkness was heavy and deep:
I had known it was dark in my sleep,
And I rose and looked out,
And the fathomless vault was all sparkling, set thick round about
With the ancient inhabiters silent, and wheeling too far
For man’s heart, like a voyaging frigate, to sail, where remote
In the sheen of their glory they float,
Or man’s soul, like a bird, to fly near, of their beams to partake,
And dazed in their wake,
Drink day that is born of a star.
I murmured, “Remoteness and greatness, how deep you are set,
How afar in the rim of the whole;
You know nothing of me, nor of man, nor of earth, O, nor yet
Of our light-bearer,—­drawing the marvellous moons as they roll,
Of our regent, the sun.”
I look on you trembling, and think, in the dark with my soul,
“How small is our place ’mid the kingdoms and nations of God:
These are greater than we, every one.”
And there falls a great fear, and a dread cometh over, that cries,
“O my hope! Is there any mistake?
Did He speak? Did I hear? Did I listen aright, if He spake?
Did I answer Him duly? For surely I now am awake,
If never I woke until now.”
And a light, baffling wind, that leads nowhither, plays on my brow.
As a sleep, I must think on my day, of my path as untrod,
Or trodden in dreams, in a dreamland whose coasts are a doubt;
Whose countries recede from my thoughts, as they grope round about,
And vanish, and tell me not how.
Be kind to our darkness, O Fashioner, dwelling in light,
And feeding the lamps of the sky;
Look down upon this one, and let it be sweet in Thy sight,
I pray Thee, to-night.
O watch whom Thou madest to dwell on its soil, Thou Most High!
For this is a world full of sorrow (there may be but one):
Keep watch o’er its dust, else Thy children for aye are undone,
For this is a world where we die.

With that, a still voice in my spirit that moved and that yearned,
(There fell a great calm while it spake,)
I had heard it erewhile, but the noises of life are so loud,
That sometimes it dies in the cry of the street and the crowd:
To the simple it cometh,—­the child, or asleep, or awake,
And they know not from whence; of its nature the wise never learned
By his wisdom; its secret the worker ne’er earned
By his toil; and the rich among men never bought with his gold;
Nor the times of its visiting monarchs controlled,
Nor the jester put down with his jeers
(For it moves where it will), nor its season the aged discerned
By thought, in the ripeness of years.

O elder than reason, and stronger than will!
A voice, when the dark world is still:
Whence cometh it? Father Immortal, thou knowest! and we,—­
We are sure of that witness, that sense which is sent us of Thee;
For it moves, and it yearns in its fellowship mighty and dread,
And let down to our hearts it is touched by the tears that we shed;
It is more than all meanings, and over all strife;
On its tongue are the laws of our life,
And it counts up the times of the dead.

I will fear you, O stars, never more.
I have felt it! Go on, while the world is asleep,
Golden islands, fast moored in God’s infinite deep.
Hark, hark to the words of sweet fashion, the harpings of yore!
How they sang to Him, seer and saint, in the far away lands:
“The heavens are the work of Thy hands;
They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure;
Yea, they all shall wax old,—­
But Thy throne is established, O God, and Thy years are made sure;
They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure,—­
They shall pass like a tale that is told.”

Doth He answer, the Ancient of Days?
Will He speak in the tongue and the fashion of men?
(Hist! hist! while the heaven-hung multitudes shine in His praise,
His language of old.) Nay, He spoke with them first; it was then
They lifted their eyes to His throne;
“They shall call on Me, ‘Thou art our Father, our God, Thou alone!’
For I made them, I led them in deserts and desolate ways;
I have found them a Ransom Divine;
I have loved them with love everlasting, the children of men;
I swear by Myself, they are Mine.”



The moon is bleached as white as wool,
And just dropping under;
Every star is gone but three,
And they hang far asunder,—­
There’s a sea-ghost all in gray,
A tall shape of wonder!

I am not satisfied with sleep,—­
The night is not ended.
But look how the sea-ghost comes,
With wan skirts extended,
Stealing up in this weird hour,
When light and dark are blended.

A vessel! To the old pier end
Her happy course she’s keeping;
I heard them name her yesterday:
Some were pale with weeping;
Some with their heart-hunger sighed,
She’s in,—­and they are sleeping.

O! now with fancied greetings blest,
They comfort their long aching:
The sea of sleep hath borne to them
What would not come with waking,
And the dreams shall most be true
In their blissful breaking.

The stars are gone, the rose-bloom comes,—­
No blush of maid is sweeter;
The red sun, half way out of bed,
Shall be the first to greet her.
None tell the news, yet sleepers wake,
And rise, and run to meet her.

Their lost they have, they hold; from pain
A keener bliss they borrow.
How natural is joy, my heart!
How easy after sorrow!
For once, the best is come that hope
Promised them “to-morrow.”

(Old English Manner.)


All the clouds about the sun lay up in golden creases,
(Merry rings the maiden’s voice that sings at dawn of day
Lambkins woke and skipped around to dry their dewy fleeces,
So sweetly as she carolled, all on a morn of May.

Quoth the Sergeant, “Here I’ll halt; here’s wine of joy for drinking;
To my heart she sets her hand, and in the strings doth play;
All among the daffodils, and fairer to my thinking,
And fresh as milk and roses, she sits this morn of May.”

Quoth the Sergeant, “Work is work, but any ye might make me,
If I worked for you, dear lass, I’d count my holiday.
I’m your slave for good and all, an’ if ye will but take me,
So sweetly as ye carol upon this morn of May.”

“Medals count for worth,” quoth she, “and scars are worn for honor;
But a slave an’ if ye be, kind wooer, go your way.”
All the nodding daffodils woke up and laughed upon her.
O! sweetly did she carol, all on that morn of May.

Gladsome leaves upon the bough, they fluttered fast and faster,
Fretting brook, till he would speak, did chide the dull delay:
“Beauty! when I said a slave, I think I meant a master;
So sweetly as ye carol all on this morn of May.

“Lass, I love you! Love is strong, and some men’s hearts are tender.”
Far she sought o’er wood and wold, but found not aught to say;
Mounting lark nor mantling cloud would any counsel render,
Though sweetly she had carolled upon that morn of May.

Shy, she sought the wooer’s face, and deemed the wooing mended;
Proper man he was, good sooth, and one would have his way:
So the lass was made a wife, and so the song was ended.
O! sweetly she did carol all on that morn of May.

A Story Of Doom: Book Ii.

Now ere the sunrise, while the morning star
Hung yet behind the pine bough, woke and prayed
The world's great shipwright, and his soul was glad
Because the Voice was favorable. Now
Began the tap o' the hammer, now ran forth
The slaves preparing food. They therefore ate
In peace together; then Niloiya forth
Behind the milk-white steers went on her way;
And the great Master-builder, down the course
Of the long river, on his errand sped,
And as he went, he thought:
[They do not well
Who, walking up a trodden path, all smooth
With footsteps of their fellows, and made straight
From town to town, will scorn at them that worm
Under the covert of God's eldest trees
(Such as He planted with His hand, and fed
With dew before rain fell, till they stood close
And awful; drank the light up as it dropt,
And kept the dusk of ages at their roots):
They do not well who mock at such, and cry,
'We peaceably, without or fault or fear,
Proceed, and miss not of our end; but these
Are slow and fearful: with uncertain pace,
And ever reasoning of the way, they oft,
After all reasoning, choose the worser course,
And plunged in swamp, or in the matted growth
Nigh smothered struggle, all to reach a goal
Not worth their pains.' Nor do they well whose work
Is still to feed and shelter them and theirs,
Get gain, and gathered store it, to think scorn
Of those who work for a world (no wages paid
By a Master hid in light), and sent alone
To face a laughing multitude, whose eyes
Are full of damaging pity, that forbears
To tell the harmless laborer, 'Thou art mad.']

And as he went, he thought: 'They counsel me,
Ay, with a kind of reason in their talk,
'Consider; call thy soberer thought to aid;
Why to but one man should a message come?
And why, if but to one, to thee? Art thou
Above us, greater, wiser? Had He sent,
He had willed that we should heed. Then since He knoweth
That such as thou, a wise man cannot heed,
He did not send.' My answer, 'Great and wise,
If He had sent with thunder, and a voice
Leaping from heaven, ye must have heard; but so
Ye had been robbed of choice, and, like the beasts,
Yoked to obedience. God makes no men slaves,'
They tell me, 'God is great above thy thought:
He meddles not: and this small world is ours,
These many hundred years we govern it;
Old Adam, after Eden, saw Him not.'
Then I, 'It may be He is gone to knead
More clay. But look, my masters; one of you
Going to warfare, layeth up his gown,
His sickle, or his gold, and thinks no more
Upon it, till young trees have waxen great;
At last, when he returneth, he will seek
His own. And God, shall He not do the like?
And having set new worlds a-rolling, come
And say, 'I will betake Me to the earth
That I did make': and having found it vile,
Be sorry. Why should man be free, you wise,
And not the Master?' Then they answer, 'Fool!
A man shall cast a stone into the air
For pastime, or for lack of heed,—but He!
Will He come fingering of His ended work,
Fright it with His approaching face, or snatch
One day the rolling wonder from its ring,
And hold it quivering, as a wanton child
Might take a nestling from its downy bed,
And having satisfied a careless wish,
Go thrust it back into its place again?'
To such I answer, and, that doubt once mine,
I am assured that I do speak aright:
'Sirs, the significance of this your doubt
Lies in the reason of it; ye do grudge
That these your lands should have another Lord;
Ye are not loyal, therefore ye would fain
Your King would bide afar. But if ye looked
For countenance and favor when He came,
Knowing yourselves right worthy, would ye care,
With cautious reasoning, deep and hard, to prove
That He would never come, and would your wrath
Be hot against a prophet? Nay, I wot
That as a flatterer you would look on him,—
Full of sweet words thy mouth is: if He come,—
We think not that He will,—but if He come,
Would it might be to-morrow, or to-night,
Because we look for praise.''

Now, as he went,
The noontide heats came on, and he grew faint;
But while he sat below an almug-tree,
A slave approached with greeting. 'Master, hail!'
He answered, 'Hail! what wilt thou?' Then she said,
'The palace of thy fathers standeth nigh.'
'I know it,' quoth he; and she said again,
'The Elder, learning thou wouldst pass, hath sent
To fetch thee'; then he rose and followed her.
So first they walked beneath a lofty roof
Of living bough and tendril, woven on high
To let no dropp of sunshine through, and hung
With gold and purple fruitage, and the white
Thick cups of scented blossom. Underneath,
Soft grew the sward and delicate, and flocks
Of egrets, ay, and many cranes, stood up.
Fanning their wings, to agitate and cool
The noonday air, as men with heed and pains
Had taught them, marshalling and taming them
To bear the wind in, on their moving wings.
So long time as a nimble slave would spend
In milking of her cow, they walked at ease;
Then reached the palace, all of forest trunks,
Brought whole, and set together, made. Therein
Had dwelt old Adam, when his mighty sons
Had finished it, and up to Eden gate
Had journeyed for to fetch him. 'Here,' they said
'Mother and father, ye may dwell, and here
Forget the garden wholly.'
So he came
Under the doorplace, and the women sat,
Each with her finger on her lips; but he,
Having been called, went on, until he reached
The jewelled settle, wrought with cunning work
Of gold and ivory, whereon they wont
To set the Elder. All with sleekest skins,
That striped and spotted creatures of the wood
Had worn, the seat was covered, but thereon
The Elder was not; by the steps thereof,
Upon the floor, whereto his silver beard
Did reach, he sat, and he was in his trance.
Upon the settle many doves were perched,
That set the air a going with their wings:
These opposite, the world's great shipwright stood
To wait the burden; and the Elder spake:
'Will He forget me? Would He might forget!
Old, old! The hope of old Methuselah
Is all in His forgetfulness.' With that,
A slave-girl took a cup of wine, and crept
Anear him, saying, 'Taste'; and when his lips
Had touched it, lo, he trembled, and he cried,
'Behold, I prophesy.'
Then straight they fled
That were about him, and did stand apart
And stop their ears. For he, from time to time,
Was plagued with that same fate to prophesy,
And spake against himself, against his day
And time, in words that all men did abhor.
Therefore, he warning them what time the fit
Came on him, saved them, that they heard it not
So while they fled, he cried: 'I saw the God
Reach out of heaven His wonderful right hand.
Lo, lo! He dipped it in the unquiet sea,
And in its curved palm behold the ark,
As in a vast calm lake, came floating on.
Ay, then, His other hand—the cursing hand—
He took and spread between us and the sun.
And all was black; the day was blotted out,
And horrible staggering took the frighted earth.
I heard the water hiss, and then methinks
The crack as of her splitting. Did she take
Their palaces that are my brothers dear,
And huddle them with all their ancientry
Under into her breast? If it was black,
How could this old man see? There was a noise
I' the dark, and He drew back His hand again.
I looked,—It was a dream,—let no man say
It was aught else. There, so—the fit goes by.
Sir, and my daughters, is it eventide?—
Sooner than that, saith old Methuselah,
Let the vulture lay his beak to my green limbs.
What! art Thou envious?—are the sons of men
Too wise to please Thee, and to do Thy will?
Methuselah, he sitteth on the ground,
Clad in his gown of age, the pale white gown,
And goeth not forth to war; his wrinkled hands
He claspeth round his knees: old, very old.
Would he could steal from Thee one secret more—
The secret of Thy youth! O, envious God!
We die. The words of old Methuselah
And his prophecy are ended.'

Then the wives,
Beholding how he trembled, and the maids
And children, came anear, saying, 'Who art thou
That standest gazing on the Elder? Lo,
Thou dost not well: withdraw; for it was thou
Whose stranger presence troubled him, and brought
The fit of prophecy.' And he did turn
To look upon them, and their majesty
And glorious beauty took away his words;
And being pure among the vile, he cast
In his thought a veil of snow-white purity
Over the beauteous throng. 'Thou dost not well,'
They said. He answered: 'Blossoms o' the world,
Fruitful as fair, never in watered glade,
Where in the youngest grass blue cups push forth,
And the white lily reareth up her head,
And purples cluster, and the saffron flower
Clear as a flame of sacrifice breaks out,
And every cedar bough, made delicate
With climbing roses, drops in white and red,—
Saw I (good angels keep you in their care)
So beautiful a crowd.'

With that, they stamped,
Gnashed their white teeth, and turning, fled and spat
Upon the floor. The Elder spake to him,
Yet shaking with the burden, 'Who art thou?'
He answered, 'I, the man whom thou didst send
To fetch through this thy woodland, do forbear
To tell my name; thou lovest it not, great sire,—
No, nor mine errand. To thy house I spake,
Touching their beauty.' 'Wherefore didst thou spite,'
Quoth he, 'the daughters?' and it seemed he lost
Count of that prophecy, for very age,
And from his thin lips dropt a trembling laugh.
'Wicked old man,' quoth he, 'this wise old man
I see as 't were not I. Thou bad old man,
What shall be done to thee? for thou didst burn
Their babes, and strew the ashes all about,
To rid the world of His white soldiers. Ay,
Scenting of human sacrifice, they fled.
Cowards! I heard them winnow their great wings:
They went to tell Him; but they came no more.
The women hate to hear of them, so sore
They grudged their little ones; and yet no way
There was but that. I took it; I did well.'

With that he fell to weeping. 'Son,' said he,
'Long have I hid mine eyes from stalwart men,
For it is hard to lose the majesty
And pride and power of manhood: but to-day,
Stand forth into the light, that I may look
Upon thy strength, and think, EVEN THUS DID I,

Then Noah stood forward in his majesty,
Shouldering the golden billhook, wherewithal
He wont to cut his way, when tangled in
The matted hayes. And down the opened roof
Fell slanting beams upon his stately head,
And streamed along his gown, and made to shine
The jewelled sandals on his feet.

And, lo,
The Elder cried aloud: 'I prophesy.
Behold, my son is as a fruitful field
When all the lands are waste. The archers drew,—
They drew the bow against him; they were fain
To slay: but he shall live,—my son shall live,
And I shall live by him in the other days.
Behold the prophet of the Most High God:
Hear him. Behold the hope o' the world, what time
She lieth under. Hear him; he shall save
A seed alive, and sow the earth with man.
O, earth! earth! earth! a floating shell of wood
Shall hold the remnant of thy mighty lords
Will this old man be in it? Sir, and you
My daughters, hear him! Lo, this white old man
He sitteth on the ground. (Let be, let be:
Why dost Thou trouble us to make our tongue
Ring with abhorred words?) The prophecy
Of the Elder, and the vision that he saw,
They both are ended.'

Then said Noah: 'The life
Of this my lord is low for very age:
Why then, with bitter words upon thy tongue,
Father-of Lamech, dost thou anger Him?
Thou canst not strive against Him now.' He said:
'Thy feet are toward the valley, where lie bones
Bleaching upon the desert. Did I love
The lithe strong lizards that I yoked and set
To draw my car? and were they not possessed?
Yea, all of them were liars. I loved them well.
What did the Enemy, but on a day
When I behind my talking team went forth,
They sweetly lying, so that all men praised
Their flattering tongues and mild persuasive eyes,—
What did the Enemy but send His slaves,
Angels, to cast down stones upon their heads
And break them? Nay, I could not stir abroad
But havoc came; they never crept or flew
Beyond the shelter that I builded here.
But straight the crowns I had set upon their heads
Were marks for myrmidons that in the clouds
Kept watch to crush them. Can a man forgive
That hath been warred on thus? I will not. Nay,
I swear it,—I, the man Methuselah.'
The Master-shipwright, he replied, ''Tis true,
Great loss was that; but they that stood thy friends,
The wicked spirits, spoke upon their tongues,
And cursed the God of heaven. What marvel, sir,
If He was angered?' But the Elder cried,
'They all are dead,—the toward beasts I loved;
My goodly team, my joy, they all are dead;
Their bones lie bleaching in the wilderness:
And I will keep my wrath for evermore
Against the Enemy that slew them. Go,
Thou coward servant of a tyrant King,
Go down the desert of the bones, and ask,
'My King, what bones are these? Methuselah,
The white old man that sitteth on the ground,
Sendeth a message, 'Bid them that they live,
And let my lizards run up every path
They wont to take when out of silver pipes,
The pipes that Tubal wrought into my roof,
I blew a sweeter cry than song-bird's throat
Hath ever formed; and while they laid their heads
Submiss upon my threshold, poured away
Music that welled by heartsful out, and made
The throats of men that heard to swell, their breasts
To heave with the joy of grief; yea, caused the lips
To laugh of men asleep.
Return to me
The great wise lizards; ay, and them that flew
My pursuivants before me. Let me yoke
Again that multitude; and here I swear
That they shall draw my car and me thereon
Straight to the ship of doom. So men shall know
My loyalty, that I submit, and Thou
Shalt yet have honor. O mine Enemy,
By me. The speech of old Methuselah.'''
Then Noah made answer, 'By the living God,
That is no enemy to men, great sire,
I will not take thy message; hear thou Him.
'Behold (He saith that suffereth thee), behold,
The earth that I made green cries out to Me,
Red with the costly blood of beauteous man.
I am robbed, I am robbed (He saith): they sacrifice
To evil demons of My blameless flocks,
That I did fashion with My hand. Behold,
How goodly was the world! I gave it thee
Fresh from its finishing. What hast thou done?
I will cry out to the waters, Cover it,
And hide it from its Father. Lo, Mine eyes
Turn from it shamed.''

With that the old man laughed
Full softly. 'Ay,' quoth he, 'a goodly world,
And we have done with it as we did list.
Why did He give it us? Nay, look you, son:
Five score they were that died in yonder waste;
And if He crieth, 'Repent, be reconciled,'
I answer, 'Nay, my lizards'; and again,
If He will trouble me in this mine age,
'Why hast Thou slain my lizards?' Now my speech
Is cut away from all my other words,
Standing alone. The Elder sweareth it,
The man of many days, Methuselah.'
Then answered Noah, 'My Master, hear it not;
But yet have patience'; and he turned himself,
And down betwixt the ordered trees went forth,
And in the light of evening made his way
Into the waste to meet the Voice of God.

Laurance - [part 2]

Thus all were satisfied, and day by day,
For two sweet years a happy course was theirs;
Happy, but yet the fortunate, the young
Loved, and much cared-for, entered on his strife,-
A stirring of the heart, a quickening keen
Of sight and hearing to the delicate
Beauty and music of an altered world;
Began to walk in that mysterious light
Which doth reveal and yet transform; which gives
Destiny, sorrow, youth, and death, and life,
Intenser meaning; in disquieting
Lifts up; a shining light: men call it Love.

Fair, modest eyes had she, the girl he loved;
A silent creature, thoughtful, grave, sincere.
She never turned from him with sweet caprice,
Nor changing moved his soul to troublous hope,
Nor dropped for him her heavy lashes low,
But excellent in youthful grace came up;
And ere his words were ready, passing on,
Had left him all a-tremble; yet made sure
That by her own true will, and fixed intent,
She held him thus remote. Therefore, albeit
He knew she did not love him, yet so long
As of a rival unaware, he dwelt
All in the present, without fear, or hope,
Enthralled and whelmed in the deep sea of love,
And could not get his head above its wave
To reach the far horizon, or to mark
Whereto it drifted him.
So long, so long;
Then, on a sudden, came the ruthless fate,
Showed him a bitter truth, and brought him bale
All in the tolling out of noon.
'Twas thus:
Snow-time was come; it had been snowing hard;
Across the churchyard path he walked; the clock
Began to strike, and, as he passed the porch,
Half turning, through a sense that came to him
As of some presence in it, he beheld
His love, and she had come for shelter there;
And all her face was fair with rosy bloom,
The blush of happiness; and one held up
Her ungloved hand in both his own, and stooped
Toward it, sitting by her. O her eyes
Were full of peace and tender light: they looked
One moment in the ungraced lover's face
While he was passing in the snow; and he
Received the story, while he raised his hat
Retiring. Then the clock left off to strike,
And that was all. It snowed, and he walked on;
And in a certain way he marked the snow,
And walked, and came upon the open heath;
And in a certain way he marked the cold,
And walked as one that had no starting-place
Might walk, but not to any certain goal.

And he strode on toward a hollow part,
Where from the hillside gravel had been dug,
And he was conscious of a cry, and went
Dulled in his sense, as though he heard it not;
Till a small farmhouse drudge, a half-grown girl,
Rose from the shelter of a drift that lay
Against the bushes, crying, 'God! O God,
O my good God, He sends us help at last.'

Then looking hard upon her, came to him
The power to feel and to perceive. Her teeth
Chattered, and all her limbs with shuddering failed,
And in her threadbare shawl was wrapped a child
That looked on him with wondering, wistful eyes.

'I thought to freeze,' the girl broke out with tears;
'Kind sir, kind sir,' and she held out the child,
As praying him to take it; and he did;
And gave to her the shawl, and swathed his charge
In the foldings of his plaid; and when it thrust
Its small round face against his breast, and felt
With small red hands for warmth,-unbearable
Pains of great pity rent his straitened heart,
For the poor upland dwellers had been out
Since morning dawn, at early milking-time,
Wandering and stumbling in the drift. And now,
Lamed with a fall, half crippled by the cold,
Hardly prevailed his arm to drag her on,
That ill-clad child, who yet the younger child
Had motherly cared to shield. So toiling through
The great white storm coming, and coming yet.
And coming till the world confounded sat
With all her fair familiar features gone,
The mountains muffled in an eddying swirl,
He led or bore them, and the little one
Peered from her shelter, pleased; but oft would mourn
The elder, 'They will beat me: O my can,
I left my can of milk upon the moor.'
And he compared her trouble with his own,
And had no heart to speak. And yet 'twas keen;
It filled her to the putting down of pain
And hunger,-what could his do more?
He brought
The children to their home, and suddenly
Regained himself, and wondering at himself,
That he had borne, and yet been dumb so long,
The weary wailing of the girl: he paid
Money to buy her pardon; heard them say,
'Peace, we have feared for you; forget the milk,
It is no matter!' and went forth again
And waded in the snow, and quietly
Considered in his patience what to do
With all the dull remainder of his days.

With dusk he was at home, and felt it good
To hear his kindred talking, for it broke
A mocking, endless echo in his soul,
'It is no matter!' and he could not choose
But mutter, though the weariness o'ercame
His spirit, 'Peace, it is no matter; peace,
It is no matter!' For he felt that all
Was as it had been, and his father's heart
Was easy, knowing not how that same day
Hope with her tender colors and delight
(He should not care to have him know) were dead;
Yea, to all these, his nearest and most dear,
It was no matter. And he heard them talk
Of timber felled, of certain fruitful fields,
And profitable markets.
All for him
Their plans, and yet the echoes swarmed and swam
About his head, whenever there was pause;
'It is no matter!' And his greater self
Arose in him and fought. 'It matters much,
It matters all to these, that not to-day
Nor ever they should know it. I will hide
The wound; ay, hide it with a sleepless care.
What! shall I make these three to drink of rue,
Because my cup is bitter?' And he thrust
Himself in thought away, and made his ears
Hearken, and caused his voice, that yet did seem
Another, to make answer, when they spoke,
As there had been no snowstorm, and no porch,
And no despair.
So this went on awhile
Until the snow had melted from the wold,
And he, one noonday, wandering up a lane,
Met on a turn the woman whom he loved.
Then, even to trembling he was moved: his speech
Faltered; but when the common kindly words
Of greeting were all said, and she passed on,
He could not bear her sweetness and his pain,
'Muriel!' he cried; and when she heard her name,
She turned. 'You know I love you,' he broke out:
She answered 'Yes,' and sighed.
'O pardon me.
Pardon me,' quoth the lover; 'let me rest
In certainty, and hear it from your mouth:
Is he with whom I saw you once of late
To call you wife?' 'I hope so,' she replied;
And over all her face the rose-bloom came,
As thinking on that other, unaware
Her eyes waxed tender. When he looked on her,
Standing to answer him, with lovely shame,
Submiss, and yet not his, a passionate,
A quickened sense of his great impotence
To drive away the doom got hold on him;
He set his teeth to force the unbearable
Misery back, his wide-awakened eyes
Flashed as with flame.
And she, all overawed
And mastered by his manhood, waited yet,
And trembled at the deep she could not sound;
A passionate nature in a storm; a heart
Wild with a mortal pain, and in the grasp
Of an immortal love.
'Farewell,' he said,
Recovering words, and when she gave her hand,
'My thanks for your good candor; for I feel
That it has cost you something.' Then, the blush
Yet on her face, she said: 'It was your due:
But keep this matter from your friends and kin,
We would not have it known.' Then cold and proud,
Because there leaped from under his straight lids,
And instantly was veiled, a keen surprise,-
'He wills it, and I therefore think it well.'
Thereon they parted; but from that time forth,
Whether they met on festal eve, in field,
Or at the church, she ever bore herself
Proudly, for she had felt a certain pain,
The disapproval hastily betrayed
And quickly hidden hurt her. ''T was a grace,'
She thought, 'to tell this man the thing he asked,
And he rewards me with surprise. I like
No one's surprise, and least of all bestowed
Where he bestowed it.'
But the spring came on:
Looking to wed in April all her thoughts
Grew loving; she would fain the world had waxed
More happy with her happiness, and oft
Walking among the flowery woods she felt
Their loveliness reach down into her heart,
And knew with them the ecstasies of growth,
The rapture that was satisfied with light,
The pleasure of the leaf in exquisite
Expansion, through the lovely longed-for spring.

And as for him,-(Some narrow hearts there are
That suffer blight when that they fed upon
As something to complete their being fails,
And they retire into their holds and pine,
And long restrained grow stern. But some there are,
That in a sacred want and hunger rise,
And draw the misery home and live with it,
And excellent in honor wait, and will
That somewhat good should yet be found in it,
Else wherefore were they born?),-and as for him,
He loved her, but his peace and welfare made
The sunshine of three lives. The cheerful grange
Threw open wide its hospitable doors
And drew in guests for him. The garden flowers,
Sweet budding wonders, all were set for him.
In him the eyes at home were satisfied,
And if he did but laugh the ear approved.
What then? He dwelt among them as of old,
And taught his mouth to smile.
And time went on,
Till on a morning, when the perfect spring
Rested among her leaves, he journeying home
After short sojourn in a neighboring town,
Stopped at the little station on the line
That ran between his woods; a lonely place
And quiet, and a woman and a child
Got out. He noted them, but walking on
Quickly, went back into the wood, impelled
By hope, for, passing, he had seen his love,
And she was sitting on a rustic seat
That overlooked the line, and he desired
With longing indescribable to look
Upon her face again. And he drew near.
She was right happy; she was waiting there.
He felt that she was waiting for her lord.
She cared no whit if Laurance went or stayed,
But answered when he spoke, and dropped her cheek
In her fair hand.
And he, not able yet
To force himself away, and never more
Behold her, gathered blossom, primrose flowers,
And wild anemone, for many a clump
Grew all about him, and the hazel rods
Were nodding with their catkins. But he heard
The stopping train, and felt that he must go;
His time was come. There was nought else to do
Or hope for. With the blossom he drew near
And would have had her take it from his hand;
But she, half lost in thought, held out her own,
And then remembering him and his long love,
She said, 'I thank you; pray you now forget,
Forget me, Laurance,' and her lovely eyes
Softened; but he was dumb, till through the trees
Suddenly broke upon their quietude
The woman and her child. And Muriel said,
'What will you?' She made answer quick and keen,
'Your name, my lady; 'tis your name I want,
Tell me your name.' Not startled, not displeased,
But with a musing sweetness on her mouth,
As if considering in how short a while
It would be changed, she lifted up her face
And gave it, and the little child drew near
And pulled her gown, and prayed her for the flowers.
Then Laurance, not content to leave them so,
Nor yet to wait the coming lover, spoke,-
'Your errand with this lady?'-'And your right
To ask it?' she broke out with sudden heat
And passion: 'What is that to you! Poor child!
Madam!' And Muriel lifted up her face
And looked,-they looked into each other's eyes.

'That man who comes,' the clear-voiced woman cried,
'That man with whom you think to wed so soon,
You must not heed him. What! the world is full
Of men, and some are good, and most, God knows,
Better than he,-that I should say it!-far
Better.' And down her face the large tears ran,
And Muriel's wild dilated eyes looked up,
Taking a terrible meaning from her words;
And Laurance stared about him half in doubt
If this were real, for all things were so blithe,
And soft air tossed the little flowers about;
The child was singing, and the blackbirds piped,
Glad in fair sunshine. And the women both
Were quiet, gazing in each other's eyes.

He found his voice, and spoke: 'This is not well,
Though whom you speak of should have done you wrong;
A man that could desert and plan to wed
Will not his purpose yield to God and right,
Only to law. You, whom I pity so much,
If you be come this day to urge a claim,
You will not tell me that your claim will hold;
'Tis only, if I read aright, the old,
Sorrowful, hateful story!'
Muriel sighed,
With a dull patience that he marvelled at,
'Be plain with me. I know not what to think,
Unless you are his wife. Are you his wife?
Be plain with me.' And all too quietly,
With running down of tears, the answer came,
'Ay, madam, ay! the worse for him and me.'
Then Muriel heard her lover's foot anear,
And cried upon him with a bitter cry,
Sharp and despairing. And those two stood back,
With such affright, and violent anger stirred
He broke from out the thicket to her side,
Not knowing. But, her hands before her face,
She sat; and, stepping close, that woman came
And faced him. Then said Muriel, 'O my heart,
Herbert!'-and he was dumb, and ground his teeth,
And lifted up his hand and looked at it,
And at the woman; but a man was there
Who whirled her from her place, and thrust himself
Between them; he was strong,-a stalwart man:
And Herbert thinking on it, knew his name.
'What good,' quoth he, 'though you and I should strive
And wrestle all this April day? A word,
And not a blow, is what these women want:
Master yourself, and say it.' But he, weak
With passion and great anguish, flung himself
Upon the seat and cried, 'O lost, my love!
O Muriel, Muriel!' And the woman spoke,
'Sir, 'twas an evil day you wed with me;
And you were young; I know it, sir, right well.
Sir, I have worked; I have not troubled you,
Not for myself, nor for your child. I know
We are not equal.' 'Hold!' he cried; 'have done;
Your still, tame words are worse than hate or scorn.
Get from me! Ay, my wife, my wife, indeed!
All's done. You hear it, Muriel; if you can,
O sweet, forgive me.'
Then the woman moved
Slowly away: her little singing child
Went in her wake: and Muriel dropped her hands,
And sat before these two that loved her so,
Mute and unheeding. There were angry words,
She knew, but yet she could not hear the words;
And afterwards the man she loved stooped down
And kissed her forehead once, and then withdrew
To look at her, and with a gesture pray
Her pardon. And she tried to speak, but failed,
And presently, and soon, O,-he was gone.

She heard him go, and Laurance, still as stone,
Remained beside her; and she put her hand
Before her face again, and afterward
She heard a voice, as if a long way off,
Some one entreated, but she could not heed.
Thereon he drew her hand away, and raised
Her passive from her seat. So then she knew
That he would have her go with him, go home,-
It was not far to go,-a dreary home.
A crippled aunt, of birth and lineage high,
Had in her youth, and for a place and home,
Married the stern old rector; and the girl
Dwelt with them: she was orphaned,-had no kin
Nearer than they. And Laurance brought her in,
And spared to her the telling of this woe.
He sought her kindred where they sat apart,
And laid before them all the cruel thing,
As he had seen it. After, he retired:
And restless, and not master of himself,
He day and night haunted the rectory lanes;
And all things, even to the spreading out
Of leaves, their flickering shadows on the ground,
Or sailing of the slow, white cloud, or peace
And glory and great light on mountain heads,-
All things were leagued against him,-ministered
By likeness or by contrast to his love.

But what was that to Muriel, though her peace
He would have purchased for her with all prayers,
And costly, passionate, despairing tears?
O what to her that he should find it worse
To bear her life's undoing than his own?

She let him see her, and she made no moan,
But talked full calmly of indifferent things,
Which when he heard, and marked the faded eyes
And lovely wasted cheek, he started up
With 'This I cannot bear!' and shamed to feel
His manhood giving way, and utterly
Subdued by her sweet patience and his pain,
Made haste and from the window sprang, and paced,
Battling and chiding with himself, the maze.

She suffered, and he could not make her well
For all his loving;-he was naught to her.
And now his passionate nature, set astir,
Fought with the pain that could not be endured;
And like a wild thing suddenly aware
That it is caged, which flings and bruises all
Its body at the bars, he rose, and raged
Against the misery: then he made all worse
With tears. But when he came to her again,
Willing to talk as they had talked before,
She sighed, and said, with that strange quietness,
'I know you have been crying': and she bent
Her own fair head and wept.
She felt the cold-
The freezing cold that deadened all her life-
Give way a little; for this passionate
Sorrow, and all for her, relieved her heart,
And brought some natural warmth, some natural tears

Laurance - [part 3]

And after that, though oft he sought her door,
He might not see her. First they said to him,
'She is not well'; and afterwards, 'Her wish
Is ever to be quiet.' Then in haste
They took her from the place, because so fast
She faded. As for him, though youth and strength
Can bear the weight as of a world, at last
The burden of it tells,-he heard it said,
When autumn came, 'The poor sweet thing will die:
That shock was mortal.' And he cared no more
To hide, if yet he could have hidden, the blight
That was laying waste his heart. He journeyed south
To Devon, where she dwelt with other kin,
Good, kindly women; and he wrote to them,
Praying that he might see her ere she died.

So in her patience she permitted him
To be about her, for it eased his heart;
And as for her that was to die so soon,
What did it signify? She let him weep
Some passionate tears beside her couch, she spoke
Pitying words, and then they made him go,
It was enough they said, her time was short,
And he had seen her. He HAD seen, and felt
The bitterness of death; but he went home,
Being satisfied in that great longing now,
And able to endure what might befall.

And Muriel lay, and faded with the year;
She lay at the door of death, that opened not
To take her in; for when the days once more
Began a little to increase, she felt,-
And it was sweet to her, she was so young,-
She felt a longing for the time of flowers,
And dreamed that she was walking in that wood
With her two feet among the primroses.

Then when the violet opened, she rose up
And walked: the tender leaf and tender light
Did solace her; but she was white and wan,
The shadow of that Muriel, in the wood
Who listened to those deadly words.
And now
Empurpled seas began to blush and bloom,
Doves made sweet moaning, and the guelder rose
In a great stillness dropped, and ever dropped,
Her wealth about her feet, and there it lay,
And drifted not at all. The lilac spread
Odorous essence round her; and full oft,
When Muriel felt the warmth her pulses cheer,
She, faded, sat among the Maytide bloom,
And with a reverent quiet in her soul,
Took back-it was His will-her time, and sat
Learning again to live.
Thus as she sat
Upon a day, she was aware of one
Who at a distance marked her. This again
Another day, and she was vexed, for yet
She longed for quiet; but she heard a foot
Pass once again, and beckoned through the trees.
'Laurance!' And all impatient of unrest
And strife, ay, even of the sight of them,
When he drew near, with tired, tired lips,
As if her soul upbraided him, she said,
'Why have you done this thing?' He answered her,
'I am not always master in the fight:
I could not help it.'
'What!' she sighed, 'not yet!
O, I am sorry'; and she talked to him
As one who looked to live, imploring him,-
'Try to forget me. Let your fancy dwell
Elsewhere, nor me enrich with it so long;
It wearies me to think of this your love.
Forget me!'

He made answer, 'I will try:
The task will take me all my life to learn,
Or were it learned, I know not how to live;
This pain is part of life and being now,-
It is myself; but yet-but I will try.'
Then she spoke friendly to him,-of his home,
His father, and the old, brave, loving folk;
She bade him think of them. And not her words,
But having seen her, satisfied his heart.
He left her, and went home to live his life,
And all the summer heard it said of her,
'Yet, she grows stronger'; but when autumn came
Again she drooped.

A bitter thing it is
To lose at once the lover and the love;
For who receiveth not may yet keep life
In the spirit with bestowal. But for her,
This Muriel, all was gone. The man she loved,
Not only from her present had withdrawn,
But from her past, and there was no such man,
There never had been.

He was not as one
Who takes love in, like some sweet bird, and holds
The winged fluttering stranger to his breast,
Till, after transient stay, all unaware
It leaves him: it has flown. No; this may live
In memory,-loved till death. He was not vile;
For who by choice would part with that pure bird,
And lose the exaltation of its song?
He had not strength of will to keep it fast,
Nor warmth of heart to keep it warm, nor life
Of thought to make the echo sound for him
After the song was done. Pity that man:
His music is all flown, and he forgets
The sweetness of it, till at last he thinks
'Twas no great matter. But he was not vile,
Only a thing to pity most in man,
Weak,-only poor, and, if he knew it, undone.
But Herbert! When she mused on it, her soul
Would fain have hidden him forevermore,
Even from herself: so pure of speech, so frank,
So full of household kindness. Ah, so good
And true! A little, she had sometimes thought,
Despondent for himself, but strong of faith
In God, and faith in her, this man had seemed.

Ay, he was gone! and she whom he had wed,
As Muriel learned, was sick, was poor, was sad.
And Muriel wrote to comfort her, and send,
From her small store, money to help her need,
With, 'Pray you keep it secret.' Then the whole
Of the cruel tale was told.
What more? She died.
Her kin, profuse of thanks, not bitterly,
Wrote of the end. 'Our sister fain had seen
Her husband; prayed him sore to come. But no.
And then she prayed him that he would forgive,
Madam, her breaking of the truth to you.
Dear madam, he was angry, yet we think
He might have let her see, before she died,
The words she wanted, but he did not write
Till she was gone-'I neither can forgive,
Nor would I if I could.''
'Patience, my heart!
And this, then, is the man I loved!'
But yet
He sought a lower level, for he wrote
Telling the story with a different hue,
Telling of freedom. He desired to come,
'For now,' said he, 'O love, may all be well.'
And she rose up against it in her soul,
For she despised him. And with passionate tears
Of shame, she wrote, and only wrote these words,-
'Herbert, I will not see you.'
Then she drooped
Again; it is so bitter to despise;
And all her strength, when autumn leaves down dropped,
Fell from her. 'Ah!' she thought, 'I rose up once,
I cannot rise up now; here is the end.'
And all her kinsfolk thought, 'It is the end.'

But when that other heard, 'It is the end,'
His heart was sick, and he, as by a power
Far stronger than himself, was driven to her.
Reason rebelled against it, but his will
Required it of him with a craving strong
As life, and passionate though hopeless pain.

She, when she saw his face, considered him
Full quietly, let all excuses pass
Not answered, and considered yet again.

'He had heard that she was sick; what could he do
But come, and ask her pardon that he came?'
What could he do, indeed?-a weak white girl
Held all his heartstrings in her small white hand;
His youth, and power, and majesty were hers,
And not his own.

She looked, and pitied him.
Then spoke: 'He loves me with a love that lasts.
Ah, me! that I might get away from it,
Or, better, hear it said that love IS NOT,
And then I could have rest. My time is short,
I think, so short.' And roused against himself
In stormy wrath, that it should be his doom
Her to disquiet whom he loved; ay, her
For whom he would have given all his rest,
If there were any left to give; he took
Her words up bravely, promising once more
Absence, and praying pardon; but some tears
Dropped quietly upon her cheek.

She said, 'for there is something to be told,
Some words that you must hear.

'And first hear this:
God has been good to me; you must not think
That I despair. There is a quiet time
Like evening in my soul. I have no heart,
For cruel Herbert killed it long ago,
And death strides on. Sit, then, and give your mind
To listen, and your eyes to look at me.
Look at my face, Laurance, how white it is;
Look at my hand,-my beauty is all gone.'
And Laurance lifted up his eyes; he looked,
But answered, from their deeps that held no doubt,
Far otherwise than she had willed,-they said,
'Lovelier than ever.'

Yet her words went on,
Cold and so quiet, 'I have suffered much,
And I would fain that none who care for me
Should suffer a like pang that I can spare.
Therefore,' said she, and not at all could blush,
'I have brought my mind of late to think of this:
That since your life is spoilt (not willingly,
My God, not willingly by me), 'twere well
To give you choice of griefs.

'Were it not best
To weep for a dead love, and afterwards
Be comforted the sooner, that she died
Remote, and left not in your house and life
Aught to remind you? That indeed were best.
But were it best to weep for a dead wife,
And let the sorrow spend and satisfy
Itself with all expression, and so end?
I think not so; but if for you 'tis best,
Then,-do not answer with too sudden words:
It matters much to you; not much, not much
To me,-then truly I will die your wife;
I will marry you.'

What was he like to say,
But, overcome with love and tears, to choose
The keener sorrow,-take it to his heart,
Cherish it, make it part of him, and watch
Those eyes that were his light till they should close?

He answered her with eager, faltering words,
'I choose,-my heart is yours,-die in my arms.'

But was it well? Truly, at first, for him
It was not well: he saw her fade, and cried,
'When may this be?' She answered, 'When you will,'
And cared not much, for very faint she grew,
Tired and cold. Oft in her soul she thought,
'If I could slip away before the ring
Is on my hand, it were a blessed lot
For both,-a blessed thing for him, and me.'

But it was not so; for the day had come,-
Was over: days and months had come, and Death,-
Within whose shadow she had lain, which made
Earth and its loves, and even its bitterness,
Indifferent,-Death withdrew himself, and life
Woke up, and found that it was folded fast,
Drawn to another life forevermore.
O, what a waking! After it there came
Great silence. She got up once more, in spring,
And walked, but not alone, among the flowers.
She thought within herself, 'What have I done?
How shall I do the rest?' And he, who felt
Her inmost thought, was silent even as she.
'What have we done?' she thought. But as for him,
When she began to look him in the face,
Considering, 'Thus and thus his features are,'
For she had never thought on them before,
She read their grave repose aright. She knew
That in the stronghold of his heart, held back,
Hidden reserves of measureless content
Kept house with happy thought, for her sake mute.

Most patient Muriel! when he brought her home,
She took the place they gave her,-strove to please
His kin, and did not fail; but yet thought on,
'What have I done? how shall I do the rest?
Ah! so contented, Laurance, with this wife
That loves you not, for all the stateliness
And grandeur of your manhood, and the deeps
In your blue eyes.' And after that awhile
She rested from such thinking, put it by
And waited. She had thought on death before:
But no, this Muriel was not yet to die;
And when she saw her little tender babe,
She felt how much the happy days of life
Outweigh the sorrowful. A tiny thing,
Whom when it slept the lovely mother nursed
With reverent love, whom when it woke she fed
And wondered at, and lost herself in long
Rapture of watching, and contentment deep.

Once while she sat, this babe upon her knee,
Her husband and his father standing nigh,
About to ride, the grandmother, all pride
And consequence, so deep in learned talk
Of infants, and their little ways and wiles,
Broke off to say, 'I never saw a babe
So like its father.' And the thought was new
To Muriel; she looked up, and when she looked,
Her husband smiled. And she, the lovely bloom
Flushing her face, would fain he had not known,
Nor noticed her surprise. But he did know;
Yet there was pleasure in his smile, and love
Tender and strong. He kissed her, kissed his babe,
With 'Goody, you are left in charge, take care '-
'As if I needed telling,' quoth the dame;
And they were gone.

Then Muriel, lost in thought,
Gazed; and the grandmother, with open pride,
Tended the lovely pair; till Muriel said,
'Is she so like? Dear granny, get me now
The picture that his father has'; and soon
The old woman put it in her hand.

The wife,
Considering it with deep and strange delight,
Forgot for once her babe, and looked and learned.

A mouth for mastery and manful work,
A certain brooding sweetness in the eyes,
A brow the harbor of grave thought, and hair
Saxon of hue. She conned; then blushed again,
Remembering now, when she had looked on him,
The sudden radiance of her husband's smile.

But Muriel did not send the picture back;
She kept it; while her beauty and her babe
Flourished together, and in health and peace
She lived.

Her husband never said to her,
'Love, are you happy?' never said to her,
'Sweet, do you love me?' and at first, whene'er
They rode together in the lanes, and paused,
Stopping their horses, when the day was hot,
In the shadow of a tree, to watch the clouds,
Ruffled in drifting on the jagged rocks
That topped the mountains,-when she sat by him,
Withdrawn at even while the summer stars
Came starting out of nothing, as new made,
She felt a little trouble, and a wish
That he would yet keep silence, and he did.
That one reserve he would not touch, but still

Muriel grew more brave in time,
And talked at ease, and felt disquietude
Fade. And another child was given to her.

'Now we shall do,' the old great-grandsire cried,
'For this is the right sort, a boy.' 'Fie, fie,'
Quoth the good dame; 'but never heed you, love,
He thinks them both as right as right can be.'

But Laurance went from home, ere yet the boy
Was three weeks old. It fretted him to go,
But still he said, 'I must': and she was left
Much with the kindly dame, whose gentle care
Was like a mother's; and the two could talk
Sweetly, for all the difference in their years.

But unaware, the wife betrayed a wish
That she had known why Laurance left her thus.
'Ay, love,' the dame made answer; 'for he said,
'Goody,' before he left, 'if Muriel ask
No question, tell her naught; but if she let
Any disquietude appear to you,
Say what you know.'' 'What?' Muriel said, and laughed,
'I ask, then.'

'Child, it is that your old love,
Some two months past, was here. Nay, never start:
He's gone. He came, our Laurance met him near;
He said that he was going over seas,
'And might I see your wife this only once,
And get her pardon?''

'Mercy!' Muriel cried,
'But Laurance does not wish it?'

'Nay, now, nay,'
Quoth the good dame.
'I cannot,' Muriel cried;
'He does not, surely, think I should.'

'Not he,'
The kind old woman said, right soothingly.
'Does not he ever know, love, ever do
What you like best?'

And Muriel, trembling yet,
Agreed. 'I heard him say,' the dame went on,
'For I was with him when they met that day,
'It would not be agreeable to my wife.''

Then Muriel, pondering,-'And he said no more?
You think he did not add, 'nor to myself?''
And with her soft, calm, inward voice, the dame
Unruffled answered, 'No, sweet heart, not he:
What need he care?' 'And why not?' Muriel cried,
Longing to hear the answer. 'O, he knows,
He knows, love, very well': with that she smiled.
'Bless your fair face, you have not really thought
He did not know you loved him?'

Muriel said,
'He never told me, goody, that he knew.'
'Well,' quoth the dame, 'but it may chance, my dear,
That he thinks best to let old troubles sleep:
Why need to rouse them? You are happy, sure?
But if one asks, 'Art happy?' why, it sets
The thoughts a-working. No, say I, let love,
Let peace and happy folk alone.

'He said,
'It would not be agreeable to my wife.'
And he went on to add, in course of time
That he would ask you, when it suited you,
To write a few kind words.'

'Yes,' Muriel said,
'I can do that.'

'So Laurance went, you see,'
The soft voice added, 'to take down that child.
Laurance had written oft about the child,
And now, at last, the father made it known
He could not take him. He has lost, they say,
His money, with much gambling; now he wants
To lead a good, true, working life. He wrote,
And let this so be seen, that Laurance went
And took the child, and took the money down
To pay.'

And Muriel found her talking sweet,
And asked once more, the rather that she longed
To speak again of Laurance, 'And you think
He knows I love him?'

'Ay, good sooth, he knows
No fear; but he is like his father, love.
His father never asked my pretty child
One prying question; took her as she was;
Trusted her; she has told me so: he knew
A woman's nature. Laurance is the same.
He knows you love him; but he will not speak;
No, never. Some men are such gentlemen!'

A Story Of Doom: Book Iii.

Above the head of great Methuselah
There lay two demons in the opened roof
Invisible, and gathered up his words;
For when the Elder prophesied, it came
About, that hidden things were shown to them,
And burdens that he spake against his time.

(But never heard them, such as dwelt with him;
Their ears they stopped, and willed to live at ease
In all delight; and perfect in their youth,
And strong, disport them in the perfect world.)

Now these were fettered that they could not fly,
For a certain disobedience they had wrought
Against the ruler of their host; but not
The less they loved their cause; and when the feet
O' the Master-builder were no longer heard,
They, slipping to the sward, right painfully
Did follow, for the one to the other said,
'Behoves our master know of this; and us,
Should he be favorable, he may loose
From these our bonds.'

And thus it came to pass,
That while at dead of night the old dragon lay
Coiled in the cavern where he dwelt, the watch
Pacing before it saw in middle air
A boat, that gleamed like fire, and on it came,
And rocked as it drew near, and then it burst
And went to pieces, and there fell therefrom,
Close at the cavern's mouth, two glowing balls.

Now there was drawn a curtain nigh the mouth
Of that deep cave, to testify of wrath.
The dragon had been wroth with some that served,
And chased them from him; and his oracles,
That wont to dropp from him, were stopped, and men
Might only pray to him through that fell web
That hung before him. Then did whisper low
Some of the little spirits that bat-like clung
And clustered round the opening. 'Lo,' they said,
While gazed the watch upon those glowing balls,
'These are like moons eclipsed; but let them lie
Red on the moss, and sear its dewy spires,
Until our lord give leave to draw the web,
And quicken reverence by his presence dread,
For he will know and call to them by name,
And they will change. At present he is sick,
And wills that none disturb him.' So they lay,
And there was silence, for the forest tribes
Came never near that cave. Wiser than men,
They fled the serpent hiss that oft by night
Came forth of it, and feared the wan dusk forms
That stalked among the trees, and in the dark
Those whiffs of flame that wandered up the sky
And made the moonlight sickly.

Now, the cave
Was marvellous for beauty, wrought with tools
Into the living rock, for there had worked
All cunning men, to cut on it with signs
And shows, yea, all the manner of mankind.
The fateful apple-tree was there, a bough
Bent with the weight of him that us beguiled;
And lilies of the field did seem to blow
And bud in the storied stone. There Tubal sat,
Who from his harp delivered music, sweet
As any in the spheres. Yea, more;
Earth's latest wonder, on the walls appeared,
Unfinished, workmen clustering on its ribs;
And farther back, within the rock hewn out,
Angelic figures stood, that impious hands
Had fashioned; many golden lamps they held
By golden chains depending, and their eyes
All tended in a reverend quietude
Toward the couch whereon the dragon lay.
The floor was beaten gold; the curly lengths
Of his last coils lay on it, hid from sight
With a coverlet made stiff with crusting gems,
Fire opals shooting, rubies, fierce bright eyes
Of diamonds, or the pale green emerald,
That changed their lustre when he breathed.

His head
Feathered with crimson combs, and all his neck,
And half-shut fans of his admired wings,
That in their scaly splendor put to shame
Or gold or stone, lay on his ivory couch
And shivered; for the dragon suffered pain:
He suffered and he feared. It was his doom,
The tempter, that he never should depart
From the bright creature that in Paradise
He for his evil purpose erst possessed,
Until it died. Thus only, spirit of might
And chiefest spirit of ill, could he be free.

But with its nature wed, as souls of men
Are wedded to their clay, he took the dread
Of death and dying, and the coward heart
Of the beast, and craven terrors of the end
Sank him that habited within it to dread
Disunion. He, a dark dominion erst
Rebellious, lay and trembled, for the flesh
Daunted his immaterial. He was sick
And sorry. Great ones of the earth had sent
Their chief musicians for to comfort him,
Chanting his praise, the friend of man, the god
That gave them knowledge, at so great a price
And costly. Yea, the riches of the mine,
And glorious broidered work, and woven gold,
And all things wisely made, they at his feet
Laid daily; for they said, 'This mighty one,
All the world wonders after him. He lieth
Sick in his dwelling; he hath long foregone
(To do us good) dominion, and a throne,
And his brave warfare with the Enemy,
So much he pitieth us that were denied
The gain and gladness of this knowledge. Now
Shall he be certified of gratitude,
And smell the sacrifice that most he loves.'

The night was dark, but every lamp gave forth
A tender, lustrous beam. His beauteous wings
The dragon fluttered, cursed awhile, then turned
And moaned with lamentable voice, 'I thirst,
Give me to drink.' Thereon stepped out in haste,
From inner chambers, lovely ministrants,
Young boys, with radiant locks and peaceful eyes,
And poured out liquor from their cups, to cool
His parched tongue, and kneeling held it nigh
In jewelled basins sparkling; and he lapped,
And was appeased, and said, 'I will not hide
Longer, my much desired face from men.
Draw back the web of separation.' Then
With cries of gratulation ran they forth,
And flung it wide, and all the watch fell low,
Each on his face, as drunk with sudden joy.
Thus marked he, glowing on the branched moss,
Those red rare moons, and let his serpent eyes
Consider them full subtly, 'What be these?'
Enquiring: and the little spirits said,
'As we for thy protection (having heard
That wrathful sons of darkness walk, to-night,
Such as do oft ill use us), clustered here,
We marked a boat a-fire that sailed the skies,
And furrowed up like spray a billowy cloud,
And, lo, it went to pieces, scattering down
A rain of sparks and these two angry moons.'
Then said the dragon, 'Let my guard, and you,
Attendant hosts, recede'; and they went back,
And formed about the cave a widening ring,
Then halting, stood afar; and from the cave
The snaky wonder spoke, with hissing tongue,
'If ye were Tartis and Deleisonon,
Be Tartis and Deleisonon once more.'

Then egg-like cracked the glowing balls, and forth
Started black angels, trampling hard to free
Their fettered feet from out the smoking shell.

And he said, 'Tartis and Deleisonon,
Your lord I am: draw nigh.' 'Thou art our lord,'
They answered, and with fettered limbs full low
They bent, and made obeisance. Furthermore,
'O fiery flying serpent, after whom
The nations go, let thy dominion last,'
They said, 'forever.' And the serpent said,
'It shall: unfold your errand.' They replied,
One speaking for a space, and afterward
His fellow taking up the word with fear
And panting, 'We were set to watch the mouth
Of great Methuselah. There came to him
The son of Lamech two days since. My lord,
They prophesied, the Elder prophesied,
Unwitting, of the flood of waters,—ay,
A vision was before him, and the lands
Lay under water drowned: he saw the ark,—
It floated in the Enemy's right hand.'
Lord of the lost, the son of Lamech fled
Into the wilderness to meet His voice
That reigneth; and we, diligent to hear
Aught that might serve thee, followed, but, forbid
To enter, lay upon its boundary cliff,
And wished for morning.

'When the dawn was red,
We sought the man, we marked him; and he prayed,—
Kneeling, he prayed in the valley, and he said—'
'Nay,' quoth the serpent, 'spare me, what devout
He fawning grovelled to the All-powerful;
But if of what shall hap he aught let fall,
Speak that.' They answered, 'He did pray as one
That looketh to outlive mankind,—and more,
We are certified by all his scattered words,
That HE will take from men their length of days,
And cut them off like grass in its first flower:
From henceforth this shall be.'

That when he heard,
The dragon made to the night his moan.

'And more,'
They said, 'that He above would have men know
That He doth love them, whoso will repent,
To that man he is favorable, yea,
Will be his loving Lord.'

The dragon cried,
'The last is worse than all. O, man, thy heart
Is stout against His wrath. But will He love?
I heard it rumored in the heavens of old,
(And doth He love?) Thou wilt not, canst not, stand
Against the love of God. Dominion fails;
I see it float from me, that long have worn
Fetters of flesh to win it. Love of God!
I cry against thee; thou art worse than all.'
They answered, 'Be not moved, admired chief
And trusted of mankind'; and they went on,
And fed him with the prophecies that fell
From the Master-shipwright in his prayer.

But prone
He lay, for he was sick: at every word
Prophetic cowering. As a bruising blow,
It fell upon his head and daunted him,
Until they ended, saying, 'Prince, behold,
Thy servants have revealed the whole.'

He out of snaky lips did hiss forth thanks.
Then said he, 'Tartis and Deleisonon,
Receive your wages.' So their fetters fell;
And they retiring, lauded him, and cried,
'King, reign forever.' Then he mourned, 'Amen.'

And he,—being left alone,—he said: 'A light!
I see a light,—a star among the trees,—
An angel.' And it drew toward the cave,
But with its sacred feet touched not the grass,
Nor lifted up the lids of its pure eyes,
But hung a span's length from that ground pollute,
At the opening of the cave.

And when he looked,
The dragon cried, 'Thou newly-fashioned thing,
Of name unknown, thy scorn becomes thee not.
Doth not thy Master suffer what thine eyes
Thou countest all too clean to open on?'
But still it hovered, and the quietness
Of holy heaven was on the drooping lids;
And not as one that answereth, it let fall
The music from its mouth, but like to one
That doth not hear, or, hearing, doth not heed.

'A message: 'I have heard thee, while remote
I went My rounds among the unfinished stars.'
A message: 'I have left thee to thy ways,
And mastered all thy vileness, for thy hate
I have made to serve the ends of My great love.
Hereafter will I chain thee down. To-day
One thing thou art forbidden; now thou knowest
The name thereof: I told it thee in heaven,
When thou wert sitting at My feet. Forbear
To let that hidden thing be whispered forth:
For man, ungrateful (and thy hope it was,
That so ungrateful he might prove), would scorn,
And not believe it, adding so fresh weight
Of condemnation to the doomed world.
Concerning that, thou art forbid to speak;
Know thou didst count it, falling from My tongue,
A lovely song, whose meaning was unknown,
Unknowable, unbearable to thought,
But sweeter in the hearing than all harps
Toned in My holy hollow. Now thine ears
Are opened, know it, and discern and fear,
Forbearing speech of it for evermore.''

So said, it turned, and with a cry of joy,
As one released, went up: and it was dawn,
And all boughs dropped with dew, and out of mist
Came the red sun and looked into the cave.

But the dragon, left a-tremble, called to him,
From the nether kingdom, certain of his friends,—
Three whom he trusted, councillors accursed.
A thunder-cloud stooped low and swathed the place
In its black swirls, and out of it they rushed,
And hid them in recesses of the cave,
Because they could not look upon the sun,
Sith light is pure. And Satan called to them,—
All in the dark, in his great rage he spake:
'Up,' quoth the dragon; 'it is time to work,
Or we are all undone.' And he did hiss,
And there came shudderings over land and trees,
A dimness after dawn. The earth threw out
A blinding fog, that crept toward the cave,
And rolled up blank before it like a veil,—
curtain to conceal its habiters.
Then did those spirits move upon the floor,
Like pillars of darkness, and with eyes aglow.
One had a helm for covering of the scars
That seamed what rested of a goodly face;
He wore his vizor up, and all his words
Were hollower than an echo from the hills:
He was hight Make. And, lo, his fellow-fiend
Came after, holding down his dastard head,
Like one ashamed: now this for craft was great;
The dragon honored him. A third sat down
Among them, covering with his wasted hand
Somewhat that pained his breast.

And when the fit
Of thunder, and the sobbings of the wind,
Were lulled, the dragon spoke with wrath and rage,
And told them of his matters: 'Look to this,
If ye be loyal'; adding, 'Give your thoughts,
And let me have your counsel in this need.'

One spirit rose and spake, and all the cave
Was full of sighs, 'The words of Make the Prince,
Of him once delegate in Betelgeux:
Whereas of late the manner is to change,
We know not where 't will end; and now my words
Go thus: give way, be peaceable, lie still
And strive not, else the world that we have won
He may, to drive us out, reduce to naught.

'For while I stood in mine obedience yet,
Steering of Betelgeux my sun, behold,
A moon, that evil ones did fill, rolled up
Astray, and suddenly the Master came,
And while, a million strong, like rooks they rose,
He took and broke it, flung it here and there,
And called a blast to drive the powder forth;
And it was fine as dust, and blurred the skies
Farther than 'tis from hence to this young sun.
Spirits that passed upon their work that day,
Cried out, 'How dusty 'tis.' Behoves us, then,
That we depart, as leaving unto Him
This goodly world and goodly race of man.
Not all are doomed; hereafter it may be
That we find place on it again. But if,
Too zealous to preserve it, and the men
Our servants, we oppose Him, He may come
And choosing rather to undo His work
Than strive with it for aye, make so an end.'

He sighing paused. Lo, then the serpent hissed
In impotent rage, 'Depart! and how depart!
Can flesh be carried down where spirits wonn?
Or I, most miserable, hold my life
Over the airless, bottomless gulf, and bide
The buffetings of yonder shoreless sea?
O death, thou terrible doom: O death, thou dread
Of all that breathe.'
A spirit rose and spake;
'Whereas in Heaven is power, is much to fear;
For this admired country we have marred.
Whereas in Heaven is love (and there are days
When yet I can recall what love was like),
Is naught to fear. A threatening makes the whole,
And clogged with strong conditions: 'O, repent,
Man, and I turn,' He, therefore, powerful now,
And more so, master, that ye bide in clay,
Threateneth that He may save. They shall not die.'

The dragon said, 'I tremble, I am sick.'
He said with pain of heart, 'How am I fallen!
For I keep silence; yea, I have withdrawn
From haunting of His gates, and shouting up
Defiance. Wherefore doth He hunt me out
From this small world, this little one, that I
Have been content to take unto myself,
I here being loved and worshipped? He knoweth
How much I have foregone; and must He stoop
To whelm the world, and heave the floors o' the deep,
Of purpose to pursue me from my place?
And since I gave men knowledge, must He take
Their length of days whereby they perfect it?
So shall He scatter all that I have stored,
And get them by degrading them. I know
That in the end it is appointed me
To fade. I will not fade before the time.'

A spirit rose, the third, a spirit ashamed
And subtle, and his face he turned aside:
'Whereas,' said he, 'we strive against both power
And love, behoves us that we strive aright.
Now some of old my comrades, yesterday
I met, as they did journey to appear
In the Presence; and I said, 'My master lieth
Sick yonder, otherwise (for no decree
There stands against it) he would also come
And make obeisance with the sons of God.'
They answered, naught denying. Therefore, lord,
'Tis certain that ye have admittance yet;
And what doth hinder? Nothing but this breath.
Were it not well to make an end, and die,
And gain admittance to the King of kings?
What if thy slaves by thy consent should take
And bear thee on their wings above the earth,
And suddenly let fall,—how soon 't were o'er!
We should have fear and sinking at the heart;
But in a little moment we should see,
Rising majestic from a ruined heap,
The stately spirit that we served of yore.'

The serpent turned his subtle deadly eyes
Upon the spirit, and hissed; and sick with shame,
It bowed itself together, and went back
With hidden face. 'This counsel is not good,'
The other twain made answer; 'look, my lord,
Whereas 'tis evil in thine eyes, in ours
'Tis evil also; speak, for we perceive
That on thy tongue the words of counsel sit,
Ready to fly to our right greedy ears,
That long for them.' And Satan, flattered thus
(Forever may the serpent kind be charmed,
With soft sweet words, and music deftly played),
Replied, 'Whereas I surely rule the world,
Behoves that ye prepare for me a path,
And that I, putting of my pains aside,
Go stir rebellion in the mighty hearts
O' the giants; for He loveth them, and looks
Full oft complacent on their glorious strength.
He willeth that they yield, that He may spare;
But, by the blackness of my loathed den,
I say they shall not, no, they shall not yield;
Go, therefore, take to you some harmless guise,
And spread a rumor that I come. I, sick,
Sorry, and aged, hasten. I have heard
Whispers that out of heaven dropped unaware.
I caught them up, and sith they bode men harm,
I am ready for to comfort them; yea, more,
To counsel, and I will that they drive forth
The women, the abhorr餠of my soul;
Let not a woman breathe where I shall pass,
Lest the curse fall, and that she bruise my head.
Friends, if it be their mind to send for me
An army, and triumphant draw me on
In the golden car ye wot of, and with shouts,
I would not that ye hinder them. Ah, then
Will I make hard their hearts, and grieve Him sore,
That loves them, O, by much too well to wet
Their stately heads, and soil those locks of strength
Under the fateful brine. Then afterward,
While He doth reason vainly with them, I
Will offer Him a pact: 'Great King, a pact,
And men shall worship Thee, I say they shall,
For I will bid them do it, yea, and leave
To sacrifice their kind, so Thou my name
Wilt suffer to be worshipped after Thine.''

'Yea, my lord Satan,' quoth they, 'do this thing,
And let us hear thy words, for they are sweet.'

Then he made answer, 'By a messenger
Have I this day been warned. There is a deed
I may not tell of, lest the people add
Scorn to a Coming Greatness to their faults.
Why this? Who careth when about to slay,
And slay indeed, how well they have deserved
Death, whom he slayeth? Therefore yet is hid
A meaning of some mercy that will rob
The nether world. Now look to it,—'Twere vain
Albeit this deluge He would send indeed,
That we expect the harvest; He would yet
Be the Master-reaper; for I heard it said,
Them that be young and know Him not, and them
That are bound and may not build, yea, more, their wives,
Whom, suffering not to hear the doom, they keep
Joyous behind the curtains, every one
With maidens nourished in the house, and babes
And children at her knees,—(then what remain!)
He claimeth and will gather for His own.
Now, therefore, it were good by guile to work,
Princes, and suffer not the doom to fall.
There is no evil like to love. I heard
Him whisper it. Have I put on this flesh
To ruin his two children beautiful,
And shall my deed confound me in the end,
Through awful imitation? Love of God,
I cry against thee; thou art worst of all.'

A Parson's Letter To A Young Poet

They said 'Too late, too late, the work is done;
Great Homer sang of glory and strong men
And that fair Greek whose fault all these long
Wins no forgetfulness nor ever can;
For yet cold eyes upon her frailty bend,
For yet the world waits in the victor's tent
Daily, and sees an old man honourable,
His white head bowed, surprise to passionate tears
Awestruck Achilles; sighing, 'I have endured,
The like whereof no soul hath yet endured,
To kiss the hand of him that slew my son.''

They said: 'We, rich by him, are rich by more;
One Aeschylus found watchfires on a hill
That lit Old Night's three daughters to their work;
When the forlorn Fate leaned to their red light
And sat a-spinning, to her feet he came
And marked her till she span off all her thread.

'O, it is late, good sooth, to cry for more:
The work once done, well done,' they said, 'forbear!
A Tuscan afterward discovered steps
Over the line of life in its mid-way;
He climbed the wall of Heaven, beheld his love
Safe at her singing, and he left his foes
In a vale of shadow weltering, unassoiled
Immortal sufferers henceforth in both worlds.

'Who may inherit next or who shall match
The Swan of Avon and go float with him
Down the long river of life aneath a sun
Not veiled, and high at noon?—the river of life
That as it ran reflected all its lapse
And rippling on the plumage of his breast?

'Thou hast them, heed them, for thy poets now,
Albeit of tongue full sweet and majesty
Like even to theirs, are fallen on evil days,
Are wronged by thee of life, wronged of the world.
Look back they must and show thee thy fair past,
Or, choosing thy to-day, they may but chant
As they behold.

'The mother-glowworm broods
Upon her young, fast-folded in the egg
And long before they come to life they shine—
The mother-age broods on her shining thought
That liveth, but whose life is hid. He comes
Her poet son, and lo you, he can see
The shining, and he takes it to his breast
And fashions for it wings that it may fly
And show its sweet light in the dusky world.

'Mother, O Mother of our dusk to-day,
What hast thou lived for bards to sing of thee?
Lapsed water cannot flow above its source;
'The kid must browse,'' they said, ''where she is tied.''

Son of to-day, rise up, and answer them.
What! wilt thou let thy mother sit ashamed
And crownless?—Set the crown on her fair head:
She waited for thy birth, she cries to thee
'Thou art the man.' He that hath ears to hear,
To him the mother cries 'Thou art the man.'

She murmurs, for thy mother's voice is low—
'Methought the men of war were even as gods
The old men of the ages. Now mine eyes
Retrieve the truth from ruined city walls
That buried it; from carved and curious homes
Full of rich garments and all goodly spoil,
Where having burned, battered, and wasted them,
They flung it. Give us, give us better gods
Than these that drink with blood upon their hands,
For I repent me that I worshipped them.
O that there might be yet a going up!
O to forget—and to begin again!'

Is not thy mother's rede at one with theirs
Who cry 'The work is done'? What though to thee,
Thee only, should the utterance shape itself
'O to forget, and to begin again,'
Only of thee be heard as that keen cry
Rending its way from some distracted heart
That yields it and so breaks? Yet list the cry
Begin for her again, and learn to sing;
But first, in all thy learning learn to be.
Is life a field? then plough it up—re-sow
With worthier seed—Is life a ship? O heed
The southing of thy stars—Is life a breath?
Breathe deeper, draw life up from hour to hour,
Aye, from the deepest deep in thy deep soul.

It may be God's first work is but to breathe
And fill the abysm with drifts of shining air
That slowly, slowly curdle into worlds.
A little space is measured out to us
Of His long leisure; breathe and grow therein,
For life, alas! is short, and 'When we die
It is not for a little while.'

They said,
'The work is done,' and is it therefore done?
Speak rather to thy mother thus: 'All-fair,
Lady of ages, beautiful To-day
And sorrowful To-day, thy children set
The crown of sorrow on their heads, their loss
Is like to be the loss of all: we hear
Lamenting, as of some that mourn in vain
Loss of high leadership, but where is he
That shall be great enough to lead thee now?
Where is thy Poet? thou hast wanted him.
Where? Thou hast wakened as a child in the night
And found thyself alone. The stars have set,
There is great darkness, and the dark is void
Of music. Who shall set thy life afresh
And sing thee thy new songs? Whom wilt thou love
And lean on to break silence worthily—
Discern the beauty in thy goings—feel
The glory of thy yearning,—thy self-scorn
Matter to dim oblivion with a smile—
Own thy great want, that knew not its great name?
O who shall make to thee mighty amends
For thy lost childhood, joining two in one,
Thyself and Him? Behold Him, He is near:
God is thy Poet now.

'A King sang once
Long years ago 'My soul is athirst for God,
Yea for the living God'—thy thirst and his
Are one. It is thy Poet whom thy hands
Grope for, not knowing. Life is not enough,
Nor love, nor learning,—Death is not enough
Even to them, happy, who forecast new life;
But give us now and satisfy us now,
Give us now, now, to live in the life of God,
Give us now, now, to be at one with Him.'

Would I had words—I have not words for her,
Only for thee; and thus I tell them out:
For every man the world is made afresh;
To God both it and he are young. There are
Who call upon Him night, and morn, and night
'Where is the kingdom? Give it us to-day.
We would be here with God, not there with God.
Make Thine abode with us, great Wayfarer,
And let our souls sink deeper into Thee'—
There are who send but yearnings forth, in quest
They know not why, of good they know not what.

The unknown life, and strange its stirring is.
The babe knows nought of life, yet clothed in it
And yearning only for its mother's breast
Feeds thus the unheeded thing—and as for thee,
That life thou hast is hidden from thine eyes,
And when it yearns, thou, knowing not for what,
Wouldst fain appease it with one grand, deep joy,
One draught of passionate peace—but wilt thou know
The other name of joy, the better name
Of peace? It is thy Father's name. Thy life
Yearns to its Source. The spirit thirsts for God,
Even the living God.

But 'No,' thou sayest,
'My heart is all in ruins with pain, my feet
Tread a dry desert where there is no way
Nor water. I look back, and deep through time
The old words come but faintly up the track
Trod by the sons of men. The man He sent,
The Prince of life, methinks I could have loved
If I had looked once in His deep man's eyes.
But long ago He died, and long ago
Is gone.'

He is not dead, He cannot go.
Men's faith at first was like a mastering stream,
Like Jordan 'the descender' leaping down
Pure from his snow; and warmed of tropic heat
Hiding himself in verdure: then at last
In a Dead Sea absorbed, as faith of doubt.
But yet the snow lies thick on Hermon's breast
And daily at his source the stream is born.
Go up—go mark the whiteness of the snow—Thy
faith is not thy Saviour, not thy God,
Though faith waste fruitless down a desert old.
The living God is new, and He is near.

What need to look behind thee and to sigh?
When God left speaking He went on before
To draw men after, following up and on;
And thy heart fails because thy feet are slow;
Thou think'st of Him as one that will not wait,
A Father and not wait!—He waited long
For us, and yet perchance He thinks not long
And will not count the time. There are no dates
In His fine leisure.

Speak then as a son:
'Father, I come to satisfy Thy love
With mine, for I had held Thee as remote,
The background of the stars—Time's yesterday—
Illimitable Absence. Now my heart
Communes, methinks, with somewhat teaching me
Thou art the Great To-day. God, is it so?
Then for all love that WAS, I thank Thee, God,
It is and yet shall hide. And I have part
In all, for in Thine image I was made,
To Thee my spirit yearns, as Thou to mine.
If aught be stamped of Thy Divine on me,
And man be God-like, God is like to man.

'Dear and dread Lord, I have not found it hard
To fear Thee, though Thy love in visible form
Bled 'neath a thorny crown—but since indeed,
For kindred's sake and likeness, Thou dost thirst
To draw men nigh, and make them one with Thee,
My soul shall answer 'Thou art what I want:
I am athirst for God, the living God.''

Then straightway flashes up athwart the words:
'And if I be a son I am very far
From my great Father's house; I am not clean.
I have not always willed it should be so,
And the gold of life is rusted with my tears.'

It is enough. He never said to men,
'Seek ye My face in vain.' And have they sought—
Beautiful children, well-beloved sons,
Opening wide eyes to ache among the moons
All night, and sighing because star multitudes
Fainted away as to a glittering haze,
And sparkled here and there like silver wings,
Confounding them with nameless, numberless,
Unbearable, fine flocks? It is not well
For them, for thee. Hast thou gone forth so far
To the unimaginable steeps on high
Trembling and seeking God? Yet now come home,
Cry, cry to Him: 'I cannot search Thee out,
But Thou and I must meet. O come, come down,
Come.' And that cry shall have the mastery.
Ay, He shall come in truth to visit thee,
And thou shalt mourn to Him, 'Unclean, unclean,'
But never more 'I will to have it so.'
From henceforth thou shalt learn that there is love
To long for, pureness to desire, a mount
Of consecration it were good to scale.

Look you, it is to-day as at the first.
When Adam first was 'ware his new-made eyes
And opened them, behold the light! And breath
Of God was misting yet about his mouth,
Whereof they had made his soul. Then he looked forth
And was a part of light; also he saw
Beautiful life, and it could move. But Eve—Eve
was the child of midnight and of sleep.
Lo, in the dark God led her to his side;
It may be in the dark she heard him breathe
Before God woke him. And she knew not light,
Nor life but as a voice that left his lips,
A warmth that clasped her; but the stars were out,
And she with wide child-eyes gazed up at them.

Haply she thought that always it was night;
Haply he, whispering to her in that reach
Of beauteous darkness, gave her unworn heart
A rumour of the dawn, and wakened it
To a trembling, and a wonder, and a want
Kin to his own; and as he longed to gaze
On his new fate, the gracious mystery
His wife, she may have longed, and felt not why,
After the light that never she had known.

So doth each age walk in the light beheld,
Nor think on light, if it be light or no;
Then comes the night to it, and in the night

The God-given, the most beautiful
Eve. And she is not seen for darkness' sake;
Yet, when she makes her gracious presence felt,
The age perceives how dark it is, and fain,
Fain would have daylight, fain would see her well,
A beauty half revealed, a helpmeet sent
To draw the soul away from valley clods;
Made from itself, yet now a better self—
Soul in the soulless, arrow tipped with fire
Let down into a careless breast; a pang
Sweeter than healing that cries out with it
For light all light, and is beheld at length—
The morning dawns.

Were not we born to light?
Ay, and we saw the men and women as saints
Walk in a garden. All our thoughts were fair;
Our simple hearts, as dovecotes full of doves,
Made home and nest for them. They fluttered forth.
And flocks of them flew white about the world.
And dreams were like to ships that floated us
Far out on silent floods, apart from earth,
From life—so far that we could see their lights
In heaven—and hear the everlasting tide,
All dappled with that fair reflected gold,
Wash up against the city wall, and sob
At the dark bows of vessels that drew on
Heavily freighted with departed souls
To whom did spirits sing; but on that song
Might none, albeit the meaning was right plain,
Impose the harsh captivity of words.

Afterward waking, sweet was early air,
Full excellent was morning: whether deep
The snow lay keenly white, and shrouds of hail
Blurred the grey breaker on a long foreshore,
And swarming plover ran, and wild white mews
And sea-pies printed with a thousand feet
The fallen whiteness, making shrill the storm;
Or whether, soothed of sunshine, throbbed and hummed
The mill atween its bowering maple trees,
And churned the leaping beck that reared, and urged
A diamond-dripping wheel.

The happy find
Equality of beauty everywhere
To feed on. All of shade and sheen is theirs,
All the strange fashions and the fair wise ways
Of lives beneath man's own. He breathes delight
Whose soul is fresh, whose feet are wet with dew
And the melted mist of morning, when at watch
Sunk deep in fern he marks the stealthy roe,
Silent as sleep or shadow, cross the glade,
Or dart athwart his view as August stars
Shoot and are out—while gracefully pace on
The wild-eyed harts to their traditional tree
To clear the velvet from their budded horns.
There is no want, both God and life are kind;
It is enough to hear, it is enough
To see; the pale wide barley-field they love,
And its weird beauty, and the pale wide moon
That lowering seems to lurk between the sheaves.
So in the rustic hamlet at high noon
The white owl sailing drowsed and deaf with sleep
To hide her head in turrets browned of moss
That is the rust of time. Ay so the pinks
And mountain grass marked on a sharp sea-cliff
While far below the northern diver feeds;
She having ended settling while she sits,
As vessels water-logged that sink at sea
And quietly into the deep go down.

It is enough to wake, it is enough
To sleep:—With God and time he leaves the rest.
But on a day death on the doorstep sits
Waiting, or like a veil褠woman walks
Dogging his footsteps, or athwart his path
The splendid passion-flower love unfolds
Buds full of sorrow, not ordained to know
Appeasement through the answer of a sigh,
The kiss of pity with denial given,
The crown and blossom of accomplishment.
Or haply comes the snake with subtlety,
And tempts him with an apple to know all.

So,—Shut the gate; the story tells itself
Over and over; Eden must be lost
If after it be won. He stands at fault,
Not knowing at all how this should be—he feels
The great bare barrenness o' the outside world.
He thinks on Time and what it has to say;
He thinks on God, but God has changed His hand,
Sitting afar. And as the moon draws on
To cover the day-king in his eclipse,
And thin the last fine sickle of light, till all
Be gone, so fares it with his darkened soul.

The dark, but not Orion sparkling there
With his best stars; the dark, but not yet Eve.
And now the wellsprings of sweet natural joy
Lie, as the Genie sealed of Solomon,
Fast prisoned in his heart; he hath not learned
The spell whereby to loose and set them forth,
And all the glad delights that boyhood loved
Smell at Oblivion's poppy, and lie still.

Ah! they must sleep—'The mill can grind no more
With water that hath passed.' Let it run on.
For he hath caught a whisper in the night;
This old inheritance in darkness given,
The world, is widened, warmed, it is alive,
Comes to his beating heart and bids it wake,
Opens the door to youth, and bids it forth,
Exultant for expansion and release,
And bent to satisfy the mighty wish,
Comfort and satisfy the mighty wish,
Life of his life, the soul's immortal child
That is to him as Eve.

He cannot win,
Nor earn, nor see, nor hear, nor comprehend,
With all the watch, tender, impetuous,
That wastes him, this, whereof no less he feels
Infinite things; but yet the night is full
Of air-beats and of heart-beats for her sake.
Eve the aspirer, give her what she wants,
Or wherefore was he born?

O he was born
To wish—then turn away:—to wish again
And half forget his wish for earthlier joy;
He draws the net to land that brings red gold;
His dreams among the meshes tangled lie,
And learning hath him at her feet;—and love,
The sea-born creature fresh from her sea foam,
Touches the ruddiest veins in his young heart,
Makes it to sob in him and sigh in him,
Restless, repelled, dying, alive and keen,
Fainting away for the remorseless ALL
Gone by, gone up, or sweetly gone before,
But never in his arms. Then pity comes,
Knocks at his breast, it may be, and comes in,
Makes a wide wound that haply will not heal,
But bleeds for poverty, and crime, and pain,
Till for the dear kin's sake he grandly dares
Or wastes him, with a wise improvidence;
But who can stir the weighty world; or who
Can drink a sea of tears?

O love, and life,
O world, and can it be that this is all?
Leave him to tread expectance underfoot;
Let him alone to tame down his great hope
Before it breaks his heart: 'Give me my share
That I foresaw, my place, my draught of life.
This that I bear, what is it?—me no less
It binds, I cannot disenslave my soul.'

There is but halting for the wearied foot.
The better way is hidden; faith hath failed—
One stronger far than reason mastered her.
It is not reason makes faith hard, but life.
The husks of his dead creed, downtrod and dry,
Are powerless now as some dishonoured spell,
Some aged Pythia in her priestly clothes,
Some widow'd witch divining by the dead.
Or if he keep one shrine undesecrate
And go to it from time to time with tears,
What lies there? A dead Christ enswathed and cold,
A Christ that did not rise. The linen cloth
Is wrapped about His head, He lies embalmed
With myrrh and spices in His sepulchre,
The love of God that daily dies;—to them
That trust it the One Life, the all that lives.

O mother Eve, who wert beguiled of old,
Thy blood is in thy children, thou art yet
Their fate and copy; with thy milk they drew
The immortal want of morning; but thy day
Dawned and was over, and thy children know
Contentment never, nor continuance long.
For even thus it is with them: the day
Waxeth, to wane anon, and a long night
Leaves the dark heart unsatisfied with stars.

A soul in want and restless and bereft
To whom all life hath lied, shall it too lie?
Saying, 'I yield Thee thanks, most mighty God,
Thou hast been pleased to make me thus and thus.
I do submit me to Thy sovereign will
That I full oft should hunger and not have,
And vainly yearn after the perfect good,
Gladness and peace'?

No, rather dare think thus:
'Ere chaos first had being, earth, or time,
My Likeness was apparent in high heaven,
Divine and manlike, and his dwelling place
Was the bosom of the Father. By His hands
Were the worlds made and filled with diverse growths
And ordered lives. Then afterward they said,
Taking strange counsel, as if he who worked
Hitherto should not henceforth work alone,
'Let us make man;' and God did look upon
That Divine Word which was the form of God,
And it became a thought before the event.
There they foresaw my face, foreheard my speech,
God-like, God-loved, God-loving, God-derived.

'And I was in a garden, and I fell
Through envy of God's evil son, but Love
Would not be robbed of me for ever—Love
For my sake passed into humanity,
And there for my first Father won me home.
How should I rest then? I have NOT gone home;
I feed on husks, and they given grudgingly,
While my great Father—Father—O my God,
What shall I do?'

Ay, I will dare think thus:
'I cannot rest because He doth not rest
In whom I have my being. THIS is GOD—
My soul is conscious of His wondrous wish,
And my heart's hunger doth but answer His
Whose thought has met with mine.

'I have not all;
He moves me thus to take of Him what lacks.
My want is God's desire to give,—He yearns
To add Himself to life and so for aye
Make it enough.'
A thought by night, a wish
After the morning, and behold it dawns
Pathetic in a still solemnity,
And mighty words are said for him once more,
'Let there be light.' Great heaven and earth have heard,
And God comes down to him, and Christ doth rise.

The Star's Monument

[He thinks.]

If there be memory in the world to come,
If thought recur to Some Things silenced here,
Then shall the deep heart be no longer dumb,
But find expression in that happier sphere;
It shall not be denied their utmost sum
Of love, to speak without or fault or fear,
But utter to the harp with changes sweet
Words that, forbidden still, then heaven were

[He speaks.]

Now let us talk about the ancient days,
And things which happened long before our birth:
It is a pity to lament that praise
Should be no shadow in the train of worth.
What is it, Madam, that your heart dismays?
Why murmur at the course of this vast earth?
Think rather of the work than of the praise;
Come, we will talk about the ancient days.

There was a Poet, Madam, once (said he);
I will relate his story to you now,
While through the branches of this apple-tree
Some spots of sunshine flicker on your brow;
While every flower hath on its breast a bee.
And every bird in stirring doth endow
The grass with falling blooms that smoothly glide,
As ships drop down a river with the tide.

For telling of his tale no fitter place
Than this old orchard, sloping to the west;
Through its pink dome of blossom I can trace
Some overlying azure; for the rest,
These flowery branches round us interlace;
The ground is hollowed like a mossy nest:
Who talks of fame while the religious spring
Offers the incense of her blossoming?

There was a Poet, Madam, once (said he),
Who, while he walked at sundown in a lane,
Took to his heart the hope that destiny
Had singled him this guerdon to obtain,
That by the power of his sweet minstrelsy
Some hearts for truth and goodness he should gain,
And charm some grovellers to uplift their eyes
And suddenly wax conscious of the skies.

'Master, good e'en to ye!' a woodman said,
Who the low hedge was trimming with his shears.
'This hour is fine'—the Poet bowed his head.
'More fine,' he thought, 'O friend! to me appears
The sunset than to you; finer the spread
Of orange lustre through these azure, spheres,
Where little clouds lie still, like flocks of sheep,
Or vessels sailing in God's other deep.

'O finer far! What work so high as mine,
Interpreter betwixt the world and man,
Nature's ungathered pearls to set and shrine,
The mystery she wraps her in to scan;
Her unsyllabic voices to combine,
And serve her with such love as poets can;
With mortal words, her chant of praise to bind,
Then die, and leave the poem to mankind?

'O fair, O fine, O lot to be desired!
Early and late my heart appeals to me,
And says, 'O work, O will —Thou man, be fired
To earn this lot,'—she says, 'I would not be
A worker for mine OWN bread, or one hired
For mine OWN profit. O, I would be free
To work for others; love so earned of them
Should be my wages and my diadem.

' 'Then when I died I should not fall,' says she,
'Like dropping flowers that no man noticeth,
But like a great branch of some stately tree
Rent in a tempest, and flung down to death,
Thick with green leafage—so that piteously
Each passer by that ruin shuddereth,
And saith, The gap this branch hath left is wide;
The loss thereof can never be supplied.' '

But, Madam, while the Poet pondered so,
Toward the leafy hedge he turned his eye,
And saw two slender branches that did grow,
And from it rising spring and flourish high:
Their tops were twined together fast, and, lo,
Their shadow crossed the path as he went by—
The shadow of a wild rose and a briar,
And it was shaped in semblance like a lyre.

In sooth, a lyre! and as the soft air played,
Those branches stirred, but did not disunite.
'O emblem meet for me!' the Poet said;
'Ay, I accept and own thee for my right;
The shadowy lyre across my feet is laid,
Distinct though frail, and clear with crimson light;
Fast is it twined to bear the windy strain,
And, supple, it will bend and rise again.

'This lyre is cast across the dusty way,
The common path that common men pursue;
I crave like blessing for my shadowy lay,
Life's trodden paths with beauty to renew,
And cheer the eve of many a toil-stained day.
Light it, old sun, wet it, thou common dew,
That 'neath men's feet its image still may be
While yet it waves above them, living lyre, like thee!'

But even as the Poet spoke, behold
He lifted up his face toward the sky;
The ruddy sun dipt under the grey wold,
His shadowy lyre was gone; and, passing by,
The woodman lifting up his shears, was bold
Their temper on those branches twain to try,
And all their loveliness and leafage sweet
Fell an the pathway, at the Poet's feet.

'Ah! my fair emblem that I chose,' quoth he,
'That for myself I coveted but now,
Too soon, methinks, thou hast been false to me;
The lyre from pathway fades, the light from brow.'
Then straightway turned he from it hastily,
As dream that waking sense will disallow;
And while the highway heavenward paled apace,
He went on westward to his dwelling-place.

He went on steadily, while far and fast
The summer darkness dropped upon the world,
A gentle air among the cloudlets passed
And fanned away their crimson; then it curled
The yellow poppies in the field, and cast
A dimness on the grasses, for it furled
Their daisies, and swept out the purple stain
That eve had left upon the pastoral plain.

He reached his city. Lo! the darkened street
Where he abode was full of gazing crowds;
He heard the muffled tread of many feet;
A multitude stood gazing at the clouds.
'What mark ye there,' said he, I and wherefore meet?
Only a passing mist the heaven o'ershrouds;
It breaks, it parts, it drifts like scattered spars—
What lies behind it but the nightly stars?'

Then did the gazing crowd to him aver
They sought a lamp in heaven whose light was hid;
For that in sooth an old Astronomer
Down from his roof had rushed into their mid,
Frighted, and fain with others to confer,
That he had cried, 'O sirs!'—and upward bid
Them gaze—'O sirs, a light is quenched afar;
Look up, my masters, we have lost a star!'

The people pointed, and the Poet's eyes
Flew upward, where a gleaming sisterhood
Swam in the dewy heaven. The very skies
Were mutable; for all-amazed he stood
To see that truly not in any wise
He could behold them as of old, nor could
His eyes receive the whole whereof he wot,
But when he told them over, one WAS NOT.

While yet he gazed and pondered reverently,
The fickle folk began to move away.
'It is but one star less for us to see,
And what does one star signify?' quoth they;
'The heavens are full of them.' 'But, ah!' said he,
That star was bright while yet she lasted.' 'Ay!'
They answered: 'praise her, Poet, an' ye will:
Some are now shining that are brighter still.'

'Poor star! to be disparaged so soon
On her withdrawal,' thus the Poet sighed;
'That men should miss, and straight deny her noon
Its brightness!' But the people in their pride
Said, 'How are we beholden? 't was no boon
She gave. Her nature 't was to shine so wide:
She could not choose but shine, nor could we know
Such star had ever dwelt in heaven but so.'

The Poet answered sadly, 'That is true!'
And then he thought upon unthankfulness,
While some went homeward; and the residue,
Reflecting that the stars are numberless,
Mourned that man's daylight hours should be so few,
So short the shining that his path may bless:
To nearer themes then tuned their willing lips,
And thought no more upon the star's eclipse.

But he, the Poet, could not rest content
Till he had found that old Astronomer;
Therefore at midnight to his house he went
And prayed him be his tale's interpreter.
And yet upon the heaven his eyes he bent,
Hearing the marvel; yet he sought for her
That was awanting, in the hope her face
Once more might fill its reft abiding-place.

Then said the old Astronomer: 'My son,
I sat alone upon my roof to-night;
I saw the stars come forth, and scarcely shun
To fringe the edges of the western light;
I marked those ancient clusters one by one,
The same that blessed our old forefather's sight:
For God alone is older—none but He
Can charge the stars with mutability:

'The elders of the night, the steadfast stars,
The old, old stars which God has let us see,
That they might be our soul's auxiliars,
And help us to the truth how young we be—
God's youngest, latest born, as if, some spars
And a little clay being over of them—He
Had made our world and us thereof, yet given,
To humble us, the sight of His great heaven.

'But ah! my son, to-night mine eyes have seen
The death of light, the end of old renown;
A shrinking back of glory that had been,
A dread eclipse before the Eternal's frown.
How soon a little grass will grow between
These eyes and those appointed to look down
Upon a world that was not made on high
Till the last scenes of their long empiry!

'To-night that shining cluster now despoiled
Lay in day's wake a perfect sisterhood;
Sweet was its light to me that long had toiled,
It gleamed and trembled o'er the distant wood;
Blown in a pile the clouds from it recoiled,
Cool twilight up the sky her way made good;
I saw, but not believed—it was so strange—
That one of those game stars had suffered change.

'The darkness gathered, and methought she spread.
Wrapped in a reddish haze that waxed and waned;
But notwithstanding to myself I said—
'The stars are changeless; sure some mote hath stained
Mine eyes, and her fair glory minishèd.'
Of age and failing vision I complained,
And thought 'some vapour in the heavens doth swim,
That makes her look so large and yet so dim.'

'But I gazed round, and all her lustrous peers
In her red presence showed but wan and white;
For like a living coal beheld through tears
She glowed and quivered with a gloomy light:
Methought she trembled, as all sick through fears,
Helpless, appalled, appealing to the night;
Like one who throws his arms up to the sky
And bows down suffering, hopeless of reply.

'At length, as if an everlasting Hand
Had taken hold upon her in her place,
And swiftly, like a golden grain of sand,
Through all the deep infinitudes of space
Was drawing her—God's truth as here I stand—
Backward and inward to itself; her face
Fast lessened, lessened, till it looked no more
Than smallest atom on a boundless shore.

'And she that was so fair, I saw her lie,
The smallest thing in God's great firmament,
Till night was at the darkest, and on high
Her sisters glittered, though her light was spent;
I strained, to follow her, each aching eye,
So swiftly at her Maker's will she went;
I looked again—I looked—the star was gone,
And nothing marked in heaven where she had shone.'

'Gone!' said the Poet, 'and about to be
Forgotten: O, how sad a fate is hers!'
'How is it sad, my son?' all reverently
The old man answered; 'though she ministers
No longer with her lamp to me and thee,
She has fulfilled her mission. God transfers
Or dims her ray; yet was she blest as bright,
For all her life was spent in giving light.'

'Her mission she fulfilled assuredly,'
The Poet cried: 'but, O unhappy star!
None praise and few will bear in memory
The name she went by. O, from far, from far
Comes down, methinks, her mournful voice to me.
Full of regrets that men so thankless are.'
So said, he told that old Astronomer
All that the gazing crowd had said of her.

And he went on to speak in bitter wise,
As one who seems to tell another's fate,
But feels that nearer meaning underlies,
And points its sadness to his own estate:
'If such be the reward,' he said with sighs,
'Envy to earn for love, for goodness hate—
If such be thy reward, hard case is thine!
It had been better for thee not to shine.

'If to reflect a light that is divine
Makes that which doth reflect it better seen,
And if to see is to contemn the shrine,
'T were surely better it had never been:
It had been better for her NOT TO SHINE,
And for me NOT TO SING. Better, I ween,
For us to yield no more that radiance bright,
For them, to lack the light than scorn the light.'

Strange words were those from Poet lips (said he);
And then he paused, and sighed, and turned to look
Upon the lady's downcast eyes, and see
How fast the honey bees in settling shook
Those apple blossoms on her from the tree;
He watched her busy fingers as they took
And slipped the knotted thread, and thought
how much
He would have given that hand to hold—to touch.

At length, as suddenly become aware
Of this long pause, she lifted up her face,
And he withdrew his eyes—she looked so fair
And cold, he thought, in her unconscious grace.
'Ah! little dreams she of the restless care,'
He thought, 'that makes my heart to throb apace:
Though we this morning part, the knowledge sends
No thrill to her calm pulse—we are but FRIENDS.'

Ah! turret clock (he thought), I would thy hand
Were hid behind yon towering maple-trees!
Ah! tell-tale shadow, but one moment stand—
Dark shadow—fast advancing to my knees;
Ah! foolish heart (he thought), that vainly planned
By feigning gladness to arrive at ease;
Ah! painful hour, yet pain to think it ends;
I must remember that we are but friends.

And while the knotted thread moved to and fro
In sweet regretful tones that lady said:
'It seemeth that the fame you would forego
The Poet whom you tell of coveted;
But I would fain, methinks, his story know.
And was he loved?' said she, 'or was he wed?
And had he friends?' 'One friend, perhaps,' said he,
'But for the rest, I pray you let it be.'

Ah! little bird (he thought), most patient bird,
Breasting thy speckled eggs the long day through,
By so much as my reason is preferred
Above thine instinct, I my work would do
Better than then dost thine. Thou hast not stirred
This hour thy wing. Ah! russet bird, I sue
For a like patience to wear through these hours—
Bird on thy nest among the apple-flowers.

I will not speak—I will not speak to thee,
My star! and soon to be my lost, lost star.
The sweetest, first, that ever shone on me,
So high above me and beyond so far;
I can forego thee, but not bear to see
My love, like rising mist, thy lustre mar:
That were a base return for thy sweet light.
Shine, though I never more shall see that thou
art bright.

Never! 'T is certain that no hope is—none!
No hope for me, and yet for thee no fear
The hardest part of my hard task is done;
Thy calm assures me that I am not dear;
Though far and fast the rapid moments run,
Thy bosom heaveth not, thine eyes are clear;
Silent; perhaps a little sad at heart
She is. I am her friend, and I depart.

Silent she had been, but she raised her face;
'And will you end,' said she, 'this half-told tale?'
'Yes, it were best,' he answered her. 'The place
Where I left off was where he felt to fail
His courage, Madam, through the fancy base
That they who love, endure, or work, may rail
And cease—if all their love, the works they wrought,
And their endurance, men have set at nought.'

'It had been better for me NOT to sing,'
My Poet said, 'and for her NOT to shine;'
But him the old man answered, sorrowing,
'My son, did God who made her, the Divine
Lighter of suns, when down to yon bright ring
He cast her, like some gleaming almandine,
And set her in her place, begirt with rays,
Say unto her 'Give light,' or say 'Earn praise?'

The Poet said, 'He made her to give light.'
'My son,' the old man answered, 'blest are such;
A blessed lot is theirs; but if each night
Mankind had praised her radiance—inasmuch
As praise had never made it wax more bright,
And cannot now rekindle with its touch
Her lost effulgence, it is nought. I wot
That praise was not her blessing nor her lot.'

'Ay,' said the Poet, 'I my words abjure,
And I repent me that I uttered them;
But by her light and by its forfeiture
She shall not pass without her requiem.
Though my name perish, yet shall hers endure
Though I should be forgotten, she, lost gem,
Shall be remembered; though she sought not fame,
It shall be busy with her beauteous name.

'For I wilt raise in her bright memory,
Lost now on earth, a lasting monument,
And graven on it shall recorded be
That all her rays to light mankind were spent;
And I will sing albeit none heedeth me,
On her exemplar being still intent:
While in men's sight shall stand the record thus—
'So long as she did last she lighted us.' '

So said, he raised, according to his vow,
On the green grass, where oft his townsfolk met,
Under the shadow of a leafy bough
That leaned toward a singing rivulet,
One pure white stone, whereon, like crown on brow,
The image of the vanished star was set;
And this was graven on the pure white stone
In golden letters—'WHILE SHE LIVED SHE SHONE.'

Madam, I cannot give this story well—
My heart is beating to another chime;
My voice must needs a different cadence swell;
It is yon singing bird, which all the time
Wooeth his nested mate, that doth dispel
My thoughts. What, deem you, could a lover's rhyme
The sweetness of that passionate lay excel?
O soft. O low her voice—'I cannot tell.'

[He thinks.]

The old man—aye he spoke, he was not hard;
'She was his joy,' he said, 'his comforter,
But he would trust me. I was not debarred
Whate'er my heart approved to say to her.'
Approved! O torn and tempted and ill-starred
And breaking heart, approve not nor demur;
It is the serpent that beguileth thee
With 'God doth know' beneath this apple-tree.

Yea, God DOTH know, and only God doth know.
Have pity, God, my spirit groans to Thee!
I, bear Thy curse primeval, and I go;
But heavier than on Adam falls on me
My tillage of the wilderness; for lo,
I leave behind the woman, and I see
As 't were the gates of Eden closing o'er
To bide her from my sight for evermore.

[He speaks.]

I am a fool, with sudden start he cried,
To let the song-bird work me such unrest:
If I break off again, I pray you chide,
For morning fleeteth, with my tale at best
Half told. That white stone, Madam, gleamed beside
The little rivulet, and all men pressed
To read the lost one's story traced thereon,
The golden legend—'While she lived she shone.'

And, Madam, when the Poet heard them read,
And children spell the letters softly through,
It may be that he felt at heart some need,
Some craving to be thus remembered too;
It may be that he wondered if indeed
He must die wholly when he passed from view;
It may be, wished when death his eyes made dim,
That some kind hand would raise such stone for him.

But shortly, as there comes to most of us,
There came to him the need to quit his home:
To tell you why were simply hazardous.
What said I. Madam?—men were made to roam
My meaning is. It hath been always thus:
They are athirst for mountains and sea foam;
Heirs of this world, what wonder if perchance
They long to see their grand inheritance?

He left his city, and went forth to teach
Mankind, his peers, the hidden harmony
That underlies God's discords, and to reach
And touch the master-string that like a sigh
Thrills in their souls, as if it would beseech
Some hand to sound it, and to satisfy
Its yearning for expression: but no word
Till poet touch it hath to make its music heard.

[He thinks.]

I know that God is good, though evil dwells
Among us, and doth all things holiest share;
That there is joy in heaven, while yet our knells
Sound for the souls which He has summoned there;
That painful love unsatisfied hath spells
Earned by its smart to soothe its fellow's care:
But yet this atom cannot in the whole
Forget itself—it aches a separate soul.

[He speaks.]

But, Madam, to my Poet I return,
With his sweet cadences of woven words,
He made their rude untutored hearts to burn
And melt like gold refined. No brooding birds
Sing better of the love that doth sojourn
Hid in the nest of home, which softly girds
The beating heart of life; and, strait though it be,
Is straitness better than wide liberty.

He taught them, and they learned, but not the less
Remained unconscious whence that lore they drew,
But dreamed that of their native nobleness
Some lofty thoughts that he had planted, grew;
His glorious maxims in a lowly dress
Like seed sown broadcast sprung in all men's view,
The sower, passing onward, was not known,
And all men reaped the harvest as their own.

It may be, Madam, that those ballads sweet,
Whose rhythmic measures yesterday we sung,
Which time and changes make not obsolete,
But (as a river bears down blossoms flung
Upon its breast) take with them while they fleet—
It may be from his lyre that first they sprung:
But who can tell, since work surviveth fame?—
The rhyme is left, but last the Poet's name.

He worked, and bravely he fulfilled his trust—
So long he wandered sowing worthy seed,
Watering of wayside buds that were adust,
And touching for the common ear his reed—
So long to wear away the cankering rust
That dulls the gold of life—so long to plead
With sweetest music for all souls oppressed,
That he was old ere he had thought of rest.

Old and grey-headed, leaning on a staff;
To that great city of his birth he came,
And at its gates he paused with wondering laugh
To think: how changed were all his thoughts of fame
Since first he carved the golden epitaph
To keep in memory a worthy name,
And thought forgetfulness had been its doom
But for a few bright letters on a tomb.

The old Astronomer had long since died;
The friends of youth were gone and far dispersed;
Strange were the domes that rose on every side;
Strange fountains on his wondering vision burst;
The men of yesterday their business plied;
No face was left that he had known at first;
And in the city gardens, lo, he sees
The saplings that he set are stately trees.

Upon the grass beneath their welcome shade,
Behold! he marks the fair white monument,
And on its face the golden words displayed,
For sixty years their lustre have not spent;
He sitteth by it and is not afraid,
But in its shadow he is well content;
And envies not, though bright their gleamings are,
The golden letters of the vanished star.

He gazeth up; exceeding bright appears
That golden legend to his agèd eyes,
For they are dazzled till they fill with tears,
And his lost Youth doth like a vision rise;
She saith to him, 'In all these toilsome years,
What hast thou won by work or enterprise?
What hast thou won to make amends to thee,
As thou didst swear to do, for loss of me?

'O man! O white-haired man!' the vision said,
'Since we two sat beside this monument
Life's clearest hues are all evanishèd,
The golden wealth thou hadst of me is spent;
The wind hath swept thy flowers, their leaves are shed;
The music is played out that with thee went.'
'Peace, peace!' he cried; 'I lost thee, but, in truth,
There are worse losses than the loss of youth.'

He said not what those losses were—but I—
But I must leave them, for the time draws near.
Some lose not ONLY joy, but memory
Of how it felt: not love that was so dear
Lose only, but the steadfast certainty
That once they had it; doubt comes on, then fear,
And after that despondency. I wis*
The Poet must have meant such loss as this.

But while he sat and pondered, on his youth,
He said, 'It did one deed that doth remain,
For it preserved the memory and the truth
Of her that now doth neither set nor wane,
But shine in all men's thoughts; nor sink forsooth,
And be forgotten like the summer rain.
O, it is good that man should not forget
Or benefits foregone or brightness set!'

He spoke and said, 'My lot contenteth me;
I am right glad for this her worthy fame;
That which was good and great I fain would see
Drawn with a halo round what rests—its name.'
This while the Poet said, behold there came
A workman with his tools anear the tree,
And when he read the words he paused awhile
And pondered on them with a wondering smile.

And then he said, 'I pray you, Sir, what mean
In wonder quoth the Poet, 'Hast thou been
A dweller near at hand, and their intent
Hast neither heard by voice of fame, nor seen
The marble earlier?' 'Ay,' said he, and leant
Upon his spade to hear the tale, then sigh,
And say it was a marvel, and pass by.

Then said the Poet, 'This is strange to me.'
But as he mused, with trouble in his mind,
A band of maids approached him leisurely,
Like vessels sailing with a favouring wind;
And of their rosy lips requested he,
As one that for a doubt would solving find,
The tale, if tale there were, of that white stone,
And those fair letters—'While she lived she shone.'

Then like a fleet that floats becalmed they stay.
'O, Sir,' saith one, 'this monument is old;
But we have heard our virtuous mothers say
That by their mothers thus the tale was told:
A Poet made it; journeying then away,
He left us; and though some the meaning hold
For other than the ancient one, yet we
Receive this legend for a certainty:—

'There was a lily once, most purely white,
Beneath the shadow of these boughs it grew;
Its starry blossom it unclosed by night,
And a young Poet loved its shape and hue.
He watched it nightly, 't was so fair a sight,
Until a stormy wind arose and blew,
And when he came once more his flower to greet,
Its fallen petals drifted to his feet.

'And for his beautiful white lily's sake,
That she might be remembered where her scent
Had been right sweet, he said that he would make
In her dear memory a monument:
For she was purer than a driven flake
Of snow, and in her grace most excellent;
'The loveliest life that death did ever mar,
As beautiful to gaze on as a star.'

'I thank you, maid,' the Poet answered her,
'And I am glad that I have heard your tale.
With that they passed; and as an inlander,
Having heard breakers raging in a gale,
And falling down in thunder, will aver
That still, when far away in grassy vale,
He seems to hear those seething waters bound,
So in his ears the maiden's voice did sound.

He leaned his face upon his hand, and thought
And thought, until a youth came by that way;
And once again of him the Poet sought
The story of the star. But, well-a-day!
He said, 'The meaning with ranch doubt is fraught,
The sense thereof can no man surely say;
For still tradition sways the common ear,
That of a truth a star DID DISAPPEAR.

'But they who look beneath the outer shell
That wraps the 'kernel of the people's lore,'
Hold THAT for superstition; and they tell
That seven lovely sisters dwelt of yore
In this old city, where it so befell
That one a Poet loved; that, furthermore,
As stars above us she was pure and good,
And fairest of that beauteous sisterhood.

'So beautiful they were, those virgins seven,
That all men called them clustered stars in song,
Forgetful that the stars abide in heaven:
But woman bideth not beneath it long;
For O, alas! alas! one fated even,
When stars their azure deeps began to throng,
That virgin's eyes of Poet loved waxed dim,
And all their lustrous shining waned to him.

'In summer dusk she drooped her head and sighed
Until what time the evening star went down,
And all the other stars did shining bide
Clear in the lustre of their old renown,
And then—the virgin laid her down and died:
Forgot her youth, forgot her beauty's crown,
Forgot the sisters whom she loved before,
And broke her Poet's heart for evermore.'

'A mournful tale, in sooth,' the lady saith:
'But did he truly grieve for evermore?'
'It may be you forget,' he answereth,
'That this is but a fable at the core
O' the other fable.' 'Though it be but breath,'
She asketh, 'was it true?' Then he, 'This lore,
Since it is fable, either way may go;
Then, if it please you, think it might be so.'

'Say, but,' she saith, 'if I had told your tale,
The virgin should have lived his home to bless;
Or, must she die, I would have made to fail
His useless love.' 'I tell you not the less,'
He sighs, 'because it was of no avail:
His heart the Poet would not dispossess
Thereof. But let us leave the fable now.
My Poet heard it with an aching brow.

And he made answer thus: 'I thank thee, youth;
Strange is thy story to these agèd ears,
But I bethink me thou hast told a truth
Under the guise of fable. If my tears,
Thou lost belovèd star, lost now, forsooth,
Indeed could bring thee back among thy peers
So new thou shouldst be deemed as newly seen,
For men forget that thou hast ever been.

'There was a morning when I longed for fame,
There was a noontide when I passed it by,
There is an evening when I think not shame
Its substance and its being to deny;
For if men bear in mind great deeds, the name
Of him that wrought them shall they leave to die
Or if his name they shall have deathless writ,
They change the deeds that first ennobled it.

'O golden letters of this monument!
O words to celebrate a loved renown
Lost now or wrested! and to fancies lent,
Or on a fabled forehead set for crown,
For my departed star, I am content,
Though legends dim and years her memory drown:
For what were fame to her, compared and set
By this great truth which ye make lustrous yet?'

'Adieu!' the Poet said, 'my vanished star,
Thy duty and thy happiness were one.
Work is heaven's best; its fame is sublunar:
The fame thou dost not need—the work is done
For thee I am content that these things are;
More than content were I, my race being run,
Might it be true of me, though none thereon
Should muse regretful—'While he lived he shone.'

So said, the Poet rose and went his way,
And that same lot he proved whereof he spake.
Madam, my story is told out; the day
Draws out her shadows, time doth overtake
The morning. That which endeth call a lay,
Sung after pause—a motto in the break
Between two chapters of a tale not new,
Nor joyful—but a common tale. Adieu!

And that same God who made your face so fair,
And gave your woman's heart its tenderness,
So shield the blessing He implanted there,
That it may never turn to your distress,
And never cost you trouble or despair,
Nor granted leave the granter comfortless;
But like a river blest where'er it flows,
Be still receiving while it still bestows.

Adieu, he said, and paused, while she sat mute
In the soft shadow of the apple-tree;
The skylark's song rang like a joyous flute,
The brook went prattling past her restlessly:
She let their tongues be her tongue's substitute;
It was the wind that sighed, it was not she:
And what the lark, the brook, the wind, had said,
We cannot tell, for none interpreted.

Their counsels might be hard to reconcile,
They might not suit the moment or the spot.
She rose, and laid her work aside the while
Down in the sunshine of that grassy plot;
She looked upon him with an almost smile,
And held to him a hand that faltered not.
One moment—bird and brook went warbling on,
And the wind sighed again—and he was gone.

So quietly, as if she heard no more
Or skylark in the azure overhead,
Or water slipping past the cressy shore,
Or wind that rose in sighs, and sighing fled—
So quietly, until the alders hoar
Took him beneath them; till the downward spread
Of planes engulfed him in their leafy seas—
She stood beneath her rose-flushed apple-trees.

And then she stooped toward the mossy grass;
And gathered up her work and went her way;
Straight to that ancient turret she did pass,
And startle back some fawns that were at play.
She did not sigh, she never said 'Alas!'
Although he was her friend: but still that day,
Where elm and hornbeam spread a towering dome,
She crossed the dells to her ancestral home.

And did she love him?—what if she did not?
Then home was still the home of happiest years;
Nor thought was exiled to partake his lot,
Nor heart lost courage through foreboding fears;
Nor echo did against her secret plot,
Nor music her betray to painful tears;
Nor life become a dream, and sunshine dim,
And riches poverty, because of him.

But did she love him?—what and if she did?
Love cannot cool the burning Austral sand,
Nor show the secret waters that lie hid
In arid valleys of that desert land.
Love has no spells can scorching winds forbid,
Or bring the help which tarries near to hand,
Or spread a cloud for curtaining faded eyes
That gaze up dying into alien skies.

The Four Bridges

I love this grey old church, the low, long nave,
The ivied chancel and the slender spire;
No less its shadow on each heaving grave,
With growing osier bound, or living briar;
I love those yew-tree trunks, where stand arrayed
So many deep-cut names of youth and maid.

A simple custom this—I love it well—
A carved betrothal and a pledge of truth;
How many an eve, their linkèd names to spell,
Beneath the yew-trees sat our village youth!
When work was over, and the new-cut hay
Sent wafts of balm from meadows where it lay.

Ah! many an eve, while I was yet a boy,
Some village hind has beckoned me aside,
And sought mine aid, with shy and awkward joy,
To carve the letters of his rustic bride,
And make them clear to read as graven stone,
Deep in the yew-tree's trunk beside his own.

For none could carve like me, and here they stand,
Fathers and mothers of this present race;
And underscored by some less practised hand,
That fain the story of its line would trace,
With children's names, and number, and the day
When any called to God have passed away.

I look upon them, and I turn aside,
As oft when carving them I did erewhile,
And there I see those wooden bridges wide
That cross the marshy hollow; there the stile
In reeds imbedded, and the swelling down,
And the white road toward the distant town.

But those old bridges claim another look.
Our brattling river tumbles through the one;
The second spans a shallow, weedy brook;
Beneath the others, and beneath the sun,
Lie two long stilly pools, and on their breasts
Picture their wooden piles, encased in swallows'

And round about them grows a fringe of reeds,
And then a floating crown of lily flowers,
And yet within small silver-budded weeds;
But each clear centre evermore embowers
A deeper sky, where, stooping, you may see
The little minnows darting restlessly.

My heart is bitter, lilies, at your sweet;
Why did the dewdrop fringe your chalices?
Why in your beauty are you thus complete,
You silver ships—you floating palaces?
O! if need be, you must allure man's eye,
Yet wherefore blossom here? O why? O why?

O! O! the world is wide, you lily flowers,
It hath warm forests, cleft by stilly pools,
Where every night bathe crowds of stars; and
Of spicery hang over. Sweet air cools
And shakes the lilies among those stars that lie:
Why are not ye content to reign there? Why?

That chain of bridges, it were hard to tell
How it is linked with all my early joy.
There was a little foot that I loved well,
It danced across them when I was a boy;
There was a careless voice that used to sing;
There was a child, a sweet and happy thing.

Oft through that matted wood of oak and birch
She came from yonder house upon the bill;
She crossed the wooden bridges to the church,
And watched, with village girls, my boasted skill:
But loved to watch the floating lilies best,
Or linger, peering in a swallow's nest;

Linger and linger, with her wistful eyes
Drawn to the lily-buds that lay so white
And soft on crimson water; for the skies
Would crimson, and the little cloudlets bright
Would all be flung among the flowers sheer down,
To flush the spaces of their clustering crown.

Till the green rushes—O, so glossy green—
The rushes, they would whisper, rustle, shake;
And forth on floating gauze, no jewelled queen
So rich, the green-eyed dragon-flies would break,
And hover on the flowers—aerial things,
With little rainbows flickering on their wings.

Ah! my heart dear! the polished pools lie still,
Like lanes of water reddened by the west,
Till, swooping down from yon o'erhanging hill,
The bold marsh harrier wets her tawny breast;
We scared her oft in childhood from her prey,
And the old eager thoughts rise fresh as yesterday.

To yonder copse by moonlight I did go,
In luxury of mischief, half afraid,
To steal the great owl's brood, her downy snow,
Her screaming imps to seize, the while she preyed
With yellow, cruel eyes, whose radiant glare,
Fell with their mother rage, I might not dare.

Panting I lay till her great fanning wings
Troubled the dreams of rock-doves, slumbering
And she and her fierce mate, like evil things,
Skimmed the dusk fields; then rising, with a cry
Of fear, joy, triumph, darted on my prey,
And tore it from the nest and fled away.

But afterward, belated in the wood,
I saw her moping on the rifled tree,
And my heart smote me for her, while I stood
Awakened from my careless reverie;
So white she looked, with moonlight round her shed,
So motherlike she drooped and hung her head.

O that mine eyes would cheat me! I behold
The godwits running by the water edge,
The mossy bridges mirrored as of old;
The little curlews creeping from the sedge,
But not the little foot so gaily light:
O that mine eyes would cheat me, that I might!—

Would cheat me! I behold the gable ends—
Those purple pigeons clustering on the cote;
The lane with maples overhung, that bends
Toward her dwelling; the dry grassy moat,
Thick mullions, diamond latticed, mossed and grey,
And walls banked up with laurel and with bay.

And up behind them yellow fields of corn,
And still ascending countless firry spires,
Dry slopes of hills uncultured, bare, forlorn,
And green in rocky clefts with whins and briars
Then rich cloud masses dyed the violet's hue,
With orange sunbeams dropping swiftly through.

Ay, I behold all this full easily;
My soul is jealous of my happier eyes,
And manhood envies youth. Ah, strange to see,
By looking merely, orange-flooded skies;
Nay, any dew-drop that may near me shine;
But never more the face of Eglantine!

She was my one companion, being herself
The jewel and adornment of my days,
My life's completeness. O, a smiling elf;
That I do but disparage with my praise—
My playmate; and I loved her dearly and long,
And she loved me, as the tender love the strong.

Ay, but she grew, till on a time there came
A sudden restless yearning to my heart;
And as we went a-nesting, all for shame
And shyness, I did hold my peace, and start;
Content departed, comfort shut me out,
And there was nothing left to talk about.

She had but sixteen years, and as for me,
Four added made my life. This pretty bird,
This fairy bird that I had cherished—she,
Content, had sung, while I, contented, heard.
The song had ceased; the bird, with nature's art,
Had brought a thorn and set it my heart.

The restless birth of love my soul opprest,
I longed and wrestled for a tranquil day,
And warred with that disquiet in my breast
As one who knows there is a better way;
But, turned against myself, I still in vain
Looked for the ancient calm to come again.

My tired soul could to itself confess
That she deserved a wiser love than mine
To love more truly were to love her less,
And for this truth I still awoke to pine;
I had a dim belief that it would be
A better thing for her, a blessèd thing for me.

Good hast Thou made them—comforters right sweet
Good hast Thou made the world, to mankind lent;
Good are Thy dropping clouds that feed the wheat;
Good are Thy stars above the firmament.
Take to Thee, take, Thy worship, Thy renown;
The good which Thou hast made doth wear
Thy crown.

For, O my God, Thy creatures are so frail,
Thy bountiful creation is so fair,
That, drawn before us like the temple veil,
It hides the Holy Place from thought and care,
Giving man's eyes instead its sweeping fold,
Rich as with cherub wings and apples wrought
of gold,

Purple and blue and scarlet—shimmering bells
And rare pomegranates on its broidered rim,
Glorious with chain—and fret-work that the swell
Of incense shakes to music dreamy and dim,
Till on a day comes loss, that God makes gain,
And death and darkness rend the veil in twain.

* * * * * * *

Ah, sweetest! my beloved! each outward thing
Recalls my youth, and is instinct with thee;
Brown wood-owls in the dusk, with noiseless wing,
Float from yon hanger to their haunted tree,
And hoot full softly. Listening, I regain
A flashing thought of thee with their remembered

I will not pine—it is the careless brook,
These amber sunbeams slanting down the vale;
It is the long tree-shadows, with their look
Of natural peace, that make my heart to fail:
The peace of nature—No, I will not pine—
But O the contrast 'twixt her face and mine!

And still I changed—I was a boy no more:
My heart was large enough to hold my kind,
And all the world. As hath been oft before
With youth, I sought, but I could never find
Work hard enough to quiet my self-strife,
And use the strength of action-craving life.

She, too, was changed: her bountiful sweet eyes
Looked out full lovingly on all the world.
O tender as the deeps in yonder skies
Their beaming! but her rosebud lips were curled
With the soft dimple of a musing smile,
Which kept my gaze, but held me mute the while.

A cast of bees, a slowly moving wain,
The scent of bean-flowers wafted up a dell,
Blue pigeons wheeling over fields of grain,
Or bleat of folded lamb, would please her well;
Or cooing of the early coted dove;—
She sauntering mused of these; I, following,
mused of love.

With her two lips, that one the other pressed
So poutingly with such a tranquil air,
With her two eyes, that on my own would rest
So dream-like, she denied my silent prayer,
Fronted unuttered words and said them nay;
And smiled down love till it had nought to say.

The words that through mine eyes would clearly
Hovered and hovered on my lips in vain;
If after pause I said but 'Eglantine,'
She raised to me her quiet eyelids twain,
And looked me this reply—look calm, yet bland—
'I shall not know, I will not understand.'

Yet she did know my story—knew my life
Was wrought to hers with bindings many and
That I, like Israel, servèd for a wife,
And for the love I bare her thought not long,
But only a few days, full quickly told,
My seven years' service strict as his of old.

I must be brief: the twilight shadows grow,
And steal the rose-bloom genial summer sheds,
And scented wafts of wind that come and go
Have lifted dew from honied clover heads;
The seven stars shine out above the mill,
The dark delightsome woods lie veiled and still.

Hush! hush! the nightingale begins to sing,
And stops, as ill-contented with her note;
Then breaks from out the bush with hurried wing,
Restless and passionate. She tunes her throat,
Laments awhile in wavering trills, and then
Floods with a stream of sweetness all the glen.

The seven stars upon the nearest pool
Lie trembling down betwixt the lily leaves,
And move like glowworms; wafting breezes cool
Come down along the water, and it heaves
And bubbles in the sedge; while deep and wide
The dim night settles on the country side.

I know this scene by heart. O! once before
I saw the seven stars float to and fro,
And stayed my hurried footsteps by the shore
To mark the starry picture spread below:
Its silence made the tumult in my breast
More audible; its peace revealed my own unrest.

I paused, then hurried on; my heart beat quick;
I crossed the bridges, reached the steep ascent,
And climbed through matted fern and hazels thick;
Then darkling through the close green maples went
And saw—there felt love's keenest pangs begin—
An oriel window lighted from within—

I saw—and felt that they were scarcely cares
Which I had known before; I drew more near,
And O! methought how sore it frets and wears
The soul to part with that it holds so dear;
'T is hard two woven tendrils to untwine,
And I was come to part with Eglantine.

For life was bitter through those words repressed,
And youth was burdened with unspoken vows;
Love unrequited brooded in my breast,
And shrank, at glance, from the belovèd brows:
And three long months, heart-sick, my foot
I had not sought her side by rivulet, copse, or lawn—

Not sought her side, yet busy thought no less
Still followed in her wake, though far behind;
And I, being parted from her loveliness,
Looked at the picture of her in my mind:
I lived alone, I walked with soul opprest,
And ever sighed for her, and sighed for rest.

Then I had risen to struggle with my heart,
And said—'O heart! the world is fresh and fair,
And I am young; but this thy restless smart
Changes to bitterness the morning air:
I will, I must, these weary fetters break—
I will be free, if only for her sake.

'O let me trouble her no more with sighs!
Heart-healing comes by distance, and with time,
Then let me wander, and enrich mine eyes
With the green forests of a softer clime,
Or list by night at sea the wind's low stave
And long monotonous rockings of the wave.

'Through open solitudes, unbounded meads,
Where, wading on breast-high in yellow bloom,
Untamed of man, the shy white llama feeds—
There would I journey and forget my doom;
Or far, O far as sunrise I would see
The level prairie stretch away from me!

'Or I would sail upon the tropic seas,
Where fathom long the blood-red dulses grow,
Droop from the rock and waver in the breeze,
Lashing the tide to foam; while calm below
The muddy mandrakes throng those waters warm,
And purple, gold, and green, the living blossoms

So of my father I did win consent,
With importunities repeated long,
To make that duty which had been my bent,
To dig with strangers alien tombs among,
And bound to them through desert leagues to
Or track up rivers to their starting-place.

For this I had done battle and had won,
But not alone to tread Arabian sands,
Measure the shadows of a southern sun,
Or dig out gods in the old Egyptian lands;
But for the dream wherewith I thought to cope—
The grief of love unmated with love's hope.

And now I would set reason in array,
Methought, and fight for freedom manfully,
Till by long absence there would come a day
When this my love would not be pain to me;
But if I knew my rosebud fair and blest
I should not pine to wear it on my breast.

The days fled on; another week should fling
A foreign shadow on my lengthening way;
Another week, yet nearness did not bring
A braver heart that hard farewell to say.
I let the last day wane, the dusk begin,
Ere I had sought that window lighted from within.

Sinking and sinking, O my heart! my heart!
Will absence heal thee whom its shade doth rend?
I reached the little gate, and soft within
The oriel fell her shadow. She did lend
Her loveliness to me, and let me share
The listless sweetness of those features fair.

Among thick laurels in the gathering gloom,
Heavy for this our parting, I did stand;
Beside her mother in the lighted room,
She sitting leaned her cheek upon her band;
And as she read, her sweet voice floating through
The open casement seemed to mourn me an adieu.

Youth! youth! how buoyant are thy hopes! they turn,
Like marigolds, toward the sunny side.
My hopes were buried in a funeral urn,
And they sprung up like plants and spread
them wide;
Though I had schooled and reasoned them away,
They gathered smiling near and prayed a holiday.

Ah, sweetest voice! how pensive were its tones,
And how regretful its unconscious pause!
'Is it for me her heart this sadness owns,
And is our parting of to-night the cause?
Ah, would it might be so!' I thought, and stood
Listening entranced among the underwood.

I thought it would be something worth the pain
Of parting, to look once in those deep eyes,
And take from them an answering look again:
'When eastern palms,' I thought, 'about me rise,
If I might carve our names upon the rind,
Betrothed, I would not mourn, though leaving thee

I can be patient, faithful, and most fond
To unacknowledged love; I can be true
To this sweet thraldom, this unequal bond,
This yoke of mine that reaches not to you:
O, how much more could costly parting buy—
If not a pledge, one kiss, or, failing that, a sigh!

I listened, and she ceased to read; she turned
Her face toward the laurels where I stood:
Her mother spoke—O wonder! hardly learned;
She said, 'There is a rustling in the wood;
Ah, child ! if one draw near to bid farewell,
Let not thine eyes an unsought secret tell.

'My daughter, there is nothing held so dear
As love, if only it be hard to win.
The roses that in yonder hedge appear
Outdo our garden-buds which bloom within
But since the hand may pluck them every day,
Unmarked they bud, bloom, drop, and drift away.

'My daughter, my belovèd, be not you
Like those same roses.' O bewildering word!
My heart stood still, a mist obscured my view:
It cleared; still silence. No denial stirred
The lips beloved; but straight, as one opprest,
She, kneeling, dropped her face upon her
mother's breast.

This said, 'My daughter, sorrow comes to all;
Our life is checked with shadows manifold:
But woman has this more—she may not call
Her sorrow by its name. Yet love not told,
And only born of absence and by thought,
With thought and absence may return to nought.'

And my belovèd lifted up her face,
And moved her lips as if about to speak;
She dropped her lashes with a girlish grace,
And the rich damask mantled in her cheek
I stood awaiting till she should deny
Her love, or with sweet laughter put it by.

But, closer nestling to her mother's heart,
She, blushing, said no word to break my trance,
For I was breathless; and, with lips apart,
Felt my breast pant and all my pulses dance,
And strove to move, but could not for the weight
Of unbelieving joy, so sudden and so great,

Because she loved me. With a mighty sigh
Breaking away, I left her on her knees,
And blest the laurel bower, the darkened sky,
The sultry night of August. Through the trees,
Giddy with gladness, to the porch I went,
And hardly found the way for joyful wonderment.

Yet, when I entered, saw her mother sit
With both hands cherishing the graceful head,
Smoothing the clustered hair, and parting it
From the fair brow; she, rising, only said,
In the accustomed tone, the accustomed word,
The careless greeting that I always heard;

And she resumed her merry, mocking smile,
Though tear-drops on the glistening lashes hung.
O woman! thou wert fashioned to beguile:
So have all sages said, all poets sung.
She spoke of favouring winds and waiting ships,
With smiles of gratulation on her lips!

And then she looked and faltered: I had grown
So suddenly in life and soul a man:
She moved her lips, but could not find a tone
To set her mocking music to; began
One struggle for dominion, raised her eyes,
And straight withdrew them, bashful through

The colour over cheek and bosom flushed;
I might have heard the beating of her heart,
But that mine own beat louder; when she blushed,
The hand within mine own I felt to start,
But would not change my pitiless decree
To strive with her for might and mastery.

She looked again, as one that, half afraid,
Would fain be certain of a doubtful thing;
Or one beseeching 'Do not me upbraid!'
And then she trembled like the fluttering
Of timid little birds, and silent stood,
No smile wherewith to mock my hardihood.

She turned, and to an open casement moved
With girlish shyness, mute beneath my gaze,
And I on downcast lashes unreproved
Could look as long as pleased me; while, the rays
Of moonlight round her, she her fair head bent,
In modest silence to my words attent.

How fast the giddy whirling moments flew!
The moon had set; I heard the midnight chime;
Hope is more brave than fear, and joy than dread,
And I could wait unmoved the parting time.
It came; for by a sudden impulse drawn,
She, risen, stepped out upon the dusky lawn.

A little waxen taper in her hand,
Her feet upon the dry and dewless grass,
She looked like one of the celestial band,
Only that on her checks did dawn and pass
Most human blushes; while, the soft light thrown
On vesture pure and white, she seemed yet
fairer grown.

Her mother, looking out toward her, sighed,
Then gave her hand in token of farewell,
And with her warning eyes, that seemed to chide,
Scarce suffered that I sought her child to tell
The story of my life, whose every line
No other burden bore than—Eglantine.

Black thunder-clouds were rising up behind,
The waxen taper burned full steadily;
It seemed as if dark midnight had a mind
To hear what lovers say, and her decree
Had passed for silence, while she, dropped to
With raiment floating wide, drank in the sound.

O happiness! thou dost not leave a trace
So well defined as sorrow. Amber light,
Shed like a glory on her angel face,
I can remember fully, and the sight
Of her fair forehead and her shining eyes,
And lips that smiled in sweet and girlish wise.

I can remember how the taper played
Over her small hands and her vesture white;
How it struck up into the trees, and laid
Upon their under leaves unwonted light;
And when she held it low, how far it spread
O'er velvet pansies slumbering on their bed.

I can remember that we spoke full low,
That neither doubted of the other's truth;
And that with footsteps slower and more slow,
Hands folded close for love, eyes wet for ruth:
Beneath the trees, by that clear taper's flame,
We wandered till the gate of parting came.

But I forget the parting words she said,
So much they thrilled the all-attentive soul;
For one short moment human heart and head
May bear such bliss—its present is the whole:
I had that present, till in whispers fell
With parting gesture her subdued farewell.

Farewell! she said, in act to turn away,
But stood a moment still to dry her tears,
And suffered my enfolding arm to stay
The time of her departure. O ye years
That intervene betwixt that day and this!
You all received your hue from that keen pain
and bliss.

O mingled pain and bliss! O pain to break
At once from happiness so lately found,
And four long years to feel for her sweet sake
The incompleteness of all sight and sound!
But bliss to cross once more the foaming brine—
O bliss to come again and make her mine!

I cannot—O, I cannot more recall!
But I will soothe my troubled thoughts to rest.
With musing over journeyings wide, and all
Observance of this active-humoured west,
And swarming cities steeped in eastern day,
With swarthy tribes in gold and striped array.

I turn from these, and straight there will succeed
(Shifting and changing at the restless will),
Imbedded in some deep Circassian mead,
White wagon-tilts, and flocks that eat their fill
Unseen above, while comely shepherds pass,
And scarcely show their heads above the grass.

—The red Sahara in an angry glow,
With amber fogs, across its hollows trailed
Long strings of camels, gloomy-eyed and slow,
And women on their necks, from gazers veiled,
And sun-swart guides who toil across the sand
To groves of date-trees on the watered land.

Again—the brown sails of an Arab boat,
Flapping by night upon a glassy sea,
Whereon the moon and planets seem to float,
More bright of hue than they were wont to be,
While shooting-stars rain down with crackling
And, thick as swarming locusts, drop to ground.

Or far into the heat among the sands
The gembok nations, snuffing up the wind,
Drawn by the scent of water—and the bands
Of tawny-bearded lions pacing, blind
With the sun-dazzle in their midst, opprest
With prey, and spiritless for lack of rest!

What more? Old Lebanon, the frosty-browed,
Setting his feet among oil-olive trees,
Heaving his bare brown shoulder through a cloud;
And after, grassy Carmel, purple seas,
Flattering his dreams and echoing in his rocks,
Soft as the bleating of his thousand flocks.

Enough: how vain this thinking to beguile,
With recollected scenes, an aching breast!
Did not I, journeying, muse on her the while?
Ah, yes! for every landscape comes impressed—
Ay, written on, as by an iron pen—
With the same thought I nursed about her then.

Therefore let memory turn again to home;
Feel, as of old, the joy of drawing near;
Watch the green breakers and the wind-tossed foam
And see the land-fog break, dissolve, and clear;
Then think a skylark's voice far sweeter sound
Than ever thrilled but over English ground;

And walk, glad, even to tears, among the wheat,
Not doubting this to be the first of lands;
And, while in foreign words this murmuring, meet
Some little village schoolgirls (with their hands
Full of forget-me-nots), who greeting me,
I count their English talk delightsome melody;

And seat me on a bank, and draw them near,
That I may feast myself with hearing it,
Till shortly they forget their bashful fear,
Push back their flaxen curls, and round me sit—
Tell me their names, their daily tasks, and show
Where wild wood strawberries in the copses grow.

So passed the day in this delightsome land:
My heart was thankful for the English tongue—
For English sky with feathery cloudlets spanned—
For English hedge with glistering dewdrops hung.
I journeyed, and at glowing eventide
Stopped at a rustic inn by the wayside.

That night I slumbered sweetly, being right glad
To miss the flapping of the shrouds; but lo!
A quiet dream of beings twain I had,
Behind the curtain talking soft and low:
Methought I did not heed their utterance fine,
Till one of them said softly, 'Eglantine.'

I started up awake, 't was silence all:
My own fond heart had shaped that utterance clear;
And 'Ah!' methought, 'how sweetly did it fall,
Though but in dream, upon the listening ear!
How sweet from other lips the name well known—
That name; so many a year heard only from
mine own!

I thought awhile, then slumber came to me,
And tangled all my fancy in her maze,
And I was drifting on a raft at sea,
The near all ocean, and the far all haze;
Through the white polished water sharks did glide,
And up in heaven I saw no stars to guide.

'Have mercy, God!' but lo! my raft uprose;
Drip, drip, I heard the water splash from it;
My raft had wings, and as the petrel goes,
It skimmed the sea, then brooding seemed to sit
The milk-white mirror, till, with sudden spring,
It flew straight upward like a living thing.

But strange!—I went not also in that flight,
For I was entering at a cavern's mouth;
Trees grew within, and screaming birds of night
Sat on them, hiding from the torrid south.
On, on I went, while gleaming in the dark
Those trees with blanchèd leaves stood pale
and stark.

The trees had flower-buds, nourished in
deep night,
And suddenly, as I went farther in,
They opened, and they shot out lambent light;
Then all at once arose a railing din
That frighted me: 'It is the ghosts,' I said,
'And they are railing for their darkness fled.

'I hope they will not look me in the face;
It frighteth me to hear their laughter loud;'
I saw them troop before with jaunty pace,
And one would shake off dust that soiled her
But now, O joy unhoped! to calm my dread,
Some moonlight filtered through a cleft o'erhead.

I climbed the lofty trees—the blanchèd trees—
The cleft was wide enough to let me through
I clambered out and felt the balmy breeze,
And stepped on churchyard grasses wet with dew.
O happy chance! O fortune to admire!
I stood beside my own loved village spire.

And as I gazed upon the yew-tree's trunk,
Lo, far off music—music in the night!
So sweet and tender as it swelled and sunk;
It charmed me till I wept with keen delight,
And in my dream, methought as it drew near
The very clouds in heaven stooped low to hear.

Beat high, beat low, wild heart so deeply stirred,
For high as heaven runs up the piercing strain;
The restless music fluttering like a bird
Bemoaned herself, and dropped to earth again,
Heaping up sweetness till I was afraid
That I should die of grief when it did fade.

And it DID fade; but while with eager ear
I drank its last long echo dying away,
I was aware of footsteps that drew near,
And round the ivied chancel seemed to stray:
O soft above the hallowed place they trod—
Soft as the fall of foot that is not shod!

I turned—'t was even so—yes, Eglantine!
For at the first I had divined the same;
I saw the moon on her shut eyelids shine,
And said 'She is asleep:' still on she came;
Then, on her dimpled feet, I saw it gleam,
And thought—'I know that this is but a dream.'

My darling! O my darling! not the less
My dream went on because I knew it such;
She came towards me in her loveliness—
A thing too pure, methought, for mortal touch;
The rippling gold did on her bosom meet,
The long white robe descended to her feet.

The fringèd lids dropped low, as sleep-oppressed;
Her dreamy smile was very fair to see,
And her two hands were folded to her breast
With somewhat held between them heedfully.
O fast asleep! and yet methought she knew
And felt my nearness those shut eyelids through.

She sighed: my tears ran down for tenderness—
'And have I drawn thee to me in my sleep?
Is it for me thou wanderest shelterless,
Wetting thy steps in dewy grasses deep?
O if this be!' I said—'yet speak to me;
I blame my very dream for cruelty.'

Then from her stainless bosom she did take
Two beauteous lily flowers that lay therein,
And with slow-moving lips a gesture make,
As one that some forgotten words doth win:
'They floated on the pool,' methought she said,
And water trickled from each lily's head.

It dropped upon her feet—I saw it gleam
Along the ripples of her yellow hair,
And stood apart, for only in a dream
She would have come, methought, to meet
me there.
She spoke again—'Ah fair! ah fresh they shine!
And there are many left, and these are mine.'

I answered her with flattering accents meet
'Love, they are whitest lilies e'er were blown.'
'And sayest thou so?' she sighed in murmurs sweet;
'I have nought else to give thee now, mine own!
For it is night. Then take them, love!' said she:
'They have been costly flowers to thee—and me.'

While thus she said I took them from her hand,
And, overcome with love and nearness, woke;
And overcome with ruth that she should stand
Barefooted on the grass; that, when she spoke,
Her mystic words should take so sweet a tone,
And of all names her lips should choose 'My own.'

I rose, I journeyed, neared my home, and soon
Beheld the spire peer out above the hill:
It was a sunny harvest afternoon,
When by the churchyard wicket, standing still,
I cast my eager eyes abroad to know
If change had touched the scenes of long ago.

I looked across the hollow; sunbeams shone
Upon the old house with the gable ends:
'Save that the laurel-trees are taller grown,
No change,' methought, 'to its grey wall extends.
What clear bright beams on yonder lattice shine!
There did I sometime talk with Eglantine.'

There standing with my very goal in sight,
Over my haste did sudden quiet steal;
I thought to dally with my own delight,
Nor rush on headlong to my garnered weal.
But taste the sweetness of a short delay,
And for a little moment hold the bliss at bay.

The church was open; it perchance might be
That there to offer thanks I might essay,
Or rather, as I think, that I might see
The place where Eglantine was wont to pray.
But so it was; I crossed that portal wide,
And felt my riot joy to calm subside.

The low depending curtains, gently swayed;
Cast over arch and roof a crimson glow;
But, ne'ertheless, all silence and all shade
It seemed, save only for the rippling flow
Of their long foldings, when the sunset air
Sighed through the casements of the house of prayer.

I found her place, the ancient oaken stall,
Where in her childhood I had seen her sit,
Most saint-like and most tranquil there of all,
Folding her hands, as if a dreaming fit—
A heavenly vision had before her strayed
Of the Eternal Child in lowly manger laid.

I saw her prayer-book laid upon the seat,
And took it in my hand, and felt more near
In fancy to her, finding it most sweet
To think how very oft, low kneeling there,
In her devout thoughts she had let me share,
And set my graceless name in her pure prayer.

My eyes were dazzled with delightful tears—
In sooth they were the last I ever shed;
For with them fell the cherished dreams of years.
I looked, and on the wall above my head,
Over her seat, there was a tablet placed,
With one word only on the marble traced.—

Ah, well! I would not overstate that woe,
For I have had some blessings, little care;
But since the falling of that heavy blow,
God's earth has never seemed to me so fair;
Nor any of His creatures so divine,
Nor sleep so sweet;—the word was—EGLANTINE.

Brothers, And A Sermon

It was a village built in a green rent,
Between two cliffs that skirt the dangerous bay.

A reef of level rock runs out to sea,
And you may lie on it and look sheer down,
Just where the 'Grace of Sunderland' was lost,
And see the elastic banners of the dulse
Rock softly, and the orange star-fish creep
Across the laver, and the mackerel shoot
Over and under it, like silver boats
Turning at will and plying under water.

There on that reef we lay upon our breasts,
My brother and I, and half the village lads,
For an old fisherman had called to us
With 'Sirs, the syle be come.' 'And what are they?'
My brother said. 'Good lack!' the old man cried,
And shook his head; 'to think you gentlefolk
Should ask what syle be! Look you; I can't say
What syle be called in your fine dictionaries,
Nor what name God Almighty calls them by
When their food's ready and He sends them south;
But our folk call them syle, and nought but syle,
And when they're grown, why then we call them
I tell you, Sir, the water is as full
Of them as pastures be of blades of grass;
You'll draw a score out in a landing net,
And none of them be longer than a pin.

'Syle! ay, indeed, we should be badly off,
I reckon, and so would God Almighty's gulls,'
He grumbled on in his quaint piety,
'And all his other birds, if He should say
I will not drive my syle into the south;
The fisher folk may do without my syle,
And do without the shoals of fish it draws
To follow and feed on it.'
This said, we made
Our peace with him by means of two small coins,
And down we ran and lay upon the reef,
And saw the swimming infants, emerald green,
In separate shoals, the scarcely turning ebb
Bringing them in; while sleek, and not intent
On chase, but taking that which came to hand,
The full-fed mackerel and the gurnet swam
Between; and settling on the polished sea,
A thousand snow-white gulls sat lovingly
In social rings, and twittered while they fed.
The village dogs and ours, elate and brave,
Lay looking over, barking at the fish;
Fast, fast the silver creatures took the bait,
And when they heaved and floundered on the rock,
In beauteous misery, a sudden pat
Some shaggy pup would deal, then back away,
At distance eye them with sagacious doubt,
And shrink half frighted from the slippery things.

And so we lay from ebb-tide, till the flow
Rose high enough to drive us from the reef;
The fisher lads went home across the sand;
We climbed the cliff, and sat an hour or more,
Talking and looking down. It was not talk
Of much significance, except for this—
That we had more in common than of old,
For both were tired, I with overwork,
He with inaction; I was glad at heart
To rest, and he was glad to have an ear
That he could grumble to, and half in jest
Rail at entails, deplore the fate of heirs,
And the misfortune of a good estate—
Misfortune that was sure to pull him down,
Make him a dreamy, selfish, useless man:
Indeed he felt himself deteriorate
Already. Thereupon he sent down showers
Of clattering stones, to emphasise his words,
And leap the cliffs and tumble noisily
Into the seething wave. And as for me
I railed at him and at ingratitude,
While rifling of the basket he had slung
Across his shoulders; then with right good will
We fell to work, and feasted like the gods,
Like labourers, or like eager workhouse folk
At Yuletide dinner; or, to say the whole
At once, like tired, hungry, healthy youth,
Until the meal being o'er, the tilted flask
Drained of its latest drop, the meat and bread
And ruddy cherries eaten, and the dogs
Mumbling the bones, this elder brother of mine—
This man, that never felt an ache or pain
In his broad, well-knit frame, and never knew
The trouble of an unforgiven grudge,
The sting of a regretted meanness, nor
The desperate struggle of the unendowed
For place and for possession—he began
To sing a rhyme that he himself had wrought;
Sending it out with cogitative pause,
As if the scene where he had shaped it first
Had rolled it back on him, and meeting it
Thus unaware, he was of doubtful mind
Whether his dignity it well beseemed
To sing of pretty maiden:

Goldilocks eat on the grass,
Tying up of posies rare;
Hardly could a sunbeam pass
Through the cloud that was her hair.
Purple orchis lasteth long,
Primrose flowers are pale and clear;
O the maiden sang a song
It would do you good to hear!

Sad before her leaned the boy,
'Goldilocks that I love well,
Happy creature fair and coy,
Think o' me, Sweet Amabel.'
Goldilocks she shook apart,
Looked with doubtful, doubtful eyes;
Like a blossom in her heart
Opened out her first surprise.

As a gloriole sign o' grace,
Goldilocks, ah fall and flow,
On the blooming, childlike face,
Dimple, dimple, come and go.
Give her time; on grass and sky
Let her gaze if she be fain:
As they looked ere he drew nigh,
They will never look again.

Ah! the playtime she has known,
While her goldilocks grew long,
Is it like a nestling flown,
Childhood over like a song?
Yes, the boy may clear his brow,
Though she thinks to say him nay,
When she sighs, 'I cannot now—
Come again some other day.'

'Hold! there,' he cried, half angry with himself;
'That ending goes amiss:' then turned again
To the old argument that we had held
'Now look you!' said my brother, 'you may talk
Till, weary of the talk, I answer 'Ay,
There's reason in your words;' and you may talk
Till I go on to say, 'This should be so;'
And you may talk till I shall further own
'It is so; yes, I am a lucky dog!'
Yet not the less shall I next morning wake,
And with a natural and fervent sigh,
Such as you never heaved, I shall exclaim
'What an unlucky dog I am!' ' And here
He broke into a laugh. 'But as for you—
You! on all hands you have the best of me;
Men have not robbed YOU of your birthright—work,
Nor ravaged in old days a peaceful field,
Nor wedded heiresses against their will,
Nor sinned, nor slaved, nor stooped, nor overreached
That you might drone a useless life away
'Mid half a score of bleak and barren farms
And half a dozen bogs.'
'O rare!' I cried;
'His wrongs go nigh to make him eloquent:
Now we behold how far bad actions reach!
Because five hundred years ago a Knight
Drove geese and beeves out from a Franklin's yard.
Because three hundred years ago a squire—
Against her will, and for her fair estate—
Married a very ugly, red-haired maid,
The blest inheritor of all their pelf,
While in the full enjoyment of the same,
Sighs on his own confession every day.
He cracks no egg without a moral sigh,
Nor eats of beef but thinking on that wrong;
Then, yet the more to be revenged on them,
And shame their ancient pride, if they should know
Works hard as any horse for his degree,
And takes to writing verses.'
'Ay,' he said,
Half laughing at himself. 'Yet you and I,
But for those tresses which enrich us yet
With somewhat of the hue that partial fame
Calls auburn when it shines on heads of heirs,
But when it flames round brows of younger sons,
Just red—mere red; why, but for this, I say,
And but for selfish getting of the land,
And beggarly entailing it, we two,
To-day well fed, well grown, well dressed, well read
We might have been two horny-handed boors—
Lean, clumsy, ignorant, and ragged boors—
Planning for moonlight nights a poaching scheme,
Or soiling our dull souls and consciences
With plans for pilfering a cottage roost.
'What, chorus! are you dumb? you should have cried,
'So good comes out of evil;' ' and with that,
As if all pauses it was natural
To seize for songs, his voice broke out again:

Coo, dove, to thy married mate—
She has two warm eggs in her nest:
Tell her the hours are few to wait
Ere life shall dawn on their rest;
And thy young shall peck at the shells, elate
With a dream of her brooding breast.

Coo, dove, for she counts the hours,
Her fair wings ache for flight:
By day the apple. has grown in the flowers,
And the moon has grown by night,
And the white drift settled from hawthorn bowers,
Yet they will not seek the light.

Coo, dove; but what of the sky?
And what it the storm-wind swell,
And the reeling branch come down from on high
To the grass where daisies dwell,
And the brood beloved should with them lie
Or ever they break the shell?

Coo, dove; and yet black clouds lower,
Like fate, on the far-off sea:
Thunder and wind they bear to thy bower,
As on wings of destiny.
Ah, what if they break in an evil hour,
As they broke over mine and me?

What next?—we started like to girls, for lo!
The creaking voice, more harsh than rusty crane,
Of one who stooped behind us, cried aloud,
'Good lack! how sweet the gentleman does sing—
So loud and sweet, 't is like to split his throat.
Why, Mike's a child to him, a two-years child—
A Chrisom child.'
'Who's Mike?' my brother growled
A little roughly. Quoth the fisherman—
'Mike, Sir? he's just a fisher lad, no more;
But he can sing, when he takes on to sing,
So loud there's not a sparrow in the spire
But needs must hear. Sir, if I might make bold,
I 'd ask what song that was you sung. My mate,
As we were shoving off the mackerel boats,
Said he, 'I'll wager that 's the sort o' song
They kept their hearts up with in the Crimea.' '

'There, fisherman,' quoth I, 'be showed his wit,
Your mate; he marked the sound of savage war—
Gunpowder, groans, hot-shot, and bursting shells,
And 'murderous messages' delivered by
Spent balls that break the heads of dreaming men.

'Ay, ay, Sir!' quoth the fisherman. 'Have done!'
My brother. And I—'The gift belongs to few
Of sending farther than the words can reach
Their spirit and expression;' still—'Have done!'
He cried; and then, 'I rolled the rubbish out
More loudly than the meaning warranted,
To air my lungs—I thought not on the words.'

Then said the fisherman, who missed the point,
'So Mike rolls out the psalm; you'll hear him, Sir,
Please God you live till Sunday.'
'Even so:
And you, too, fisherman; for here, they say,
You all are church-goers.'
'Surely, Sir,' quoth he,
Took off his hat, and stroked his old white head
And wrinkled face; then sitting by us said,
As one that utters with a quiet mind
Unchallenged truth—' 'T is lucky for the boats.'

The boats! 't is lucky for the boats! Our eyes
Were drawn to him as either fain would say,
What! do they send the psalm up in the spire
And pray because 't is lucky for the boats?

But he, the brown old man, the wrinkled man,
That all his life had been a church-goer,
Familiar with celestial cadences,
Informed of all he could receive, and sure
Of all he understood—he sat content,
And we kept silence. In his reverend face
There was a simpleness we could not sound;
Much truth had passed him overhead; some error
He had trod under foot;—God comfort him!
He could not learn of us, for we were young
And he was old, and so we gave it up;
And the sun went into the west, and down
Upon the water stooped an orange cloud,
And the pale milky reaches flushed, as glad
To wear its colours; and the sultry air
Went out to sea, and puffed the sails of ships
With thymy wafts, the breath of trodden grass:
It took moreover music, for across
The heather belt and over pasture land
Came the sweet monotone of one slow bell,
And parted time into divisions rare,
Whereof each morsel brought its own delight.

'They ring for service,' quoth the fisherman;
'Our parson preaches in the church to-night.'

'And do the people go?' my brother asked.

'Ay, Sir; they count it mean to stay away,
He takes it so to heart. He's a rare man,
Our parson; half a head above us all.'

'That 's a great gift, and notable,' said I.

'Ay, Sir; and when he was a younger man
He went out in the lifeboat very oft,
Before the 'Grace of Sunderland' was wrecked.
He's never been his own man since that hour;
For there were thirty men aboard of her,
Anigh as close as you are now to me,
And ne'er a one was saved.
They're lying now,
With two small children, in a row: the church
And yard are full of seamen's graves, and few
Have any names.
She bumped upon the reef;
Our parson, my young son, and several more
Were lashed together with a two-inch rope,
And crept along to her; their mates ashore
Ready to haul them in. The gale was high,
The sea was all a boiling seething froth,
And God Almighty's guns were going off,
And the land trembled.

When she took the ground,
She went to pieces like a lock of hay
Tossed from a pitchfork. Ere it came to that,
The captain reeled on deck with two small things,
One in each arm—his little lad and lass,
Their hair was long, and blew before his face,
Or else we thought he had been saved; he fell,
But held them fast. The crew, poor luckless souls.
The breakers licked them off; and some were crushed,
Some swallowed in the yeast, some flung up dead,
The dear breath beaten out of them: not one
Jumped from the wreck upon the reef to catch
The hands that strained to reach, but tumbled back
With eyes wide open. But the captain lay
And clung—the only man alive. They prayed
'For God's sake, captain, throw the children here!'
'Throw them!' our parson cried; and then she struck:
And he threw one, a pretty two-years child;
But the gale dashed him on the slippery verge,
And down he went. They say they heard him cry.

'Then he rose up and took the other one,
And all our men reached out their hungry arms,
And cried out, 'Throw her, throw her!' and he did;
He threw her right against, the parson's breast,
And all at once a sea broke over them,
And they that saw it from the shore have said
It struck the wreck and piecemeal scattered it,
Just as a woman might the lump of salt
That 'twixt her hands into the kneading-pan
She breaks and crumbles on her rising bread.

'We hauled our men in: two of them were dead—
The sea had beaten them, their heads hung down;
Our parson's arms were empty, for the wave
Had torn away the pretty, pretty lamb;
We often see him stand beside her grave:
But 't was no fault of his, no fault of his.

'I ask your pardon, Sirs; I prate and prate,
And never have I said what brought me here.
Sirs, if you want a boat to-morrow morn,
I'm bold to say there's ne'er a boat like mine.'

'Ay, that was what we wanted,' we replied;
'A boat, his boat;' and off he went, well pleased.

We, too, rose up (the crimson in the shy
Flushing our faces), and went sauntering on,
And thought to reach our lodging, by the cliff.
And up and down among the heather beds,
And up and down between the sheaves, we sped,
Doubling and winding; for a long ravine
Ran up into the land and cut us off,
Pushing out slippery ledges for the birds.
And rent with many a crevice, where the wind
Had laid up drifts of empty eggshells, swept
From the bare berths of gulls and guillemots.

So as it chanced we lighted on a path
That led into a nutwood; and our talk
Was louder than beseemed, if we had known,
With argument and laughter; for the path,
As we sped onward, took a sudden turn
Abrupt, and we came out on churchyard grass,
And close upon a porch, and face to face
With those within, and with the thirty graves.
We heard the voice of one who preached within,
And stopped. 'Come on,' my brother whispered me,
'It were more decent that we enter now;
Come on! we'll hear this rare old demigod:
I like strong men and large; I like grey heads,
And grand gruff voices, hoarse though this may be
With shouting in the storm.'
It was not hoarse,
The voice that preached to those few fishermen
And women, nursing mothers with the babes
Hushed on their breasts; and yet it held them not:
Their drowsy eyes were drawn to look at us,
Till, having leaned our rods against the wall,
And left the dogs at watch, we entered, sat,
And were apprised that, though he saw us not,
The parson knew that he had lost the eyes
And ears of those before him, for he made
A pause—a long dead pause—and dropped his arms,
And stood awaiting, till I felt the red
Mount to my brow.
And a soft fluttering stir
Passed over all, and every mother hushed
The babe beneath her shawl, and he turned round
And met our eyes, unused to diffidence,
But diffident of his; then with a sigh
Fronted the folk, lifted his grand grey head,
And said, as one that pondered now the words
He had been preaching on with new surprise,
And found fresh marvel in their sound, 'Behold!
Behold!' saith He, 'I stand at the door and knock.'

Then said the parson: 'What! and shall He wait,
And must He wait, not only till we say,
'Good Lord, the house is clean, the hearth is swept,
The children sleep, the mackerel-boats are in,
And all the nets are mended; therefore I
Will slowly to the door and open it:'
But must He also wait where still, behold!
He stands and knocks, while we do say, 'Good Lord,
The gentlefolk are come to worship here,
And I will up and open to Thee soon;
But first I pray a little longer wait,
For I am taken up with them; my eyes
Must needs regard the fashion of their clothes,
And count the gains I think to make by them;
Forsooth, they are of much account, good Lord!
Therefore have patience with me—wait, dear Lord!
Or come again?'
What! must He wait for THIS—
For this? Ay, He doth wait for this, and still,
Waiting for this, He, patient, raileth not;
Waiting for this, e'en this He saith, 'Behold!
I stand at the door and knock.'
'O patient hand!
Knocking and waiting—knocking in the night
When work is done! I charge you, by the sea
Whereby you fill your children's mouths, and by
The might of Him that made it—fishermen!
I charge you, mothers! by the mother's milk
He drew, and by His Father, God over all,
Blessèd for ever, that ye answer Him!
Open the door with shame, if ye have sinned;
If ye be sorry, open it with sighs.
Albeit the place be bare for poverty,
And comfortless for lack of plenishing,
Be not abashed for that, but open it,
And take Him in that comes to sup with thee;
'Behold!' He saith, 'I stand at the door and knock.'

'Now, hear me: there be troubles in this world
That no man can escape, and there is one
That lieth hard and heavy on my soul,
Concerning that which is to come:—
I say
As a man that knows what earthly trouble means,
I will not bear this ONE—I cannot bear
This ONE—I cannot bear the weight of you—
You—every one of you, body and soul;
You, with the care you suffer, and the loss
That you sustain; you, with the growing up
To peril, maybe with the growing old
To want, unless before I stand with you
At the great white throne, I may be free of all,
And utter to the full what shall discharge
Mine obligation: nay, I will not wait
A day, for every time the black clouds rise,
And the gale freshens, still I search my soul
To find if there be aught that can persuade
To good, or aught forsooth that can beguile
From evil, that I (miserable man!
If that be so) have left unsaid, undone.

'So that when any risen from sunken wrecks,
Or rolled in by the billows to the edge
Of the everlasting strand, what time the sea
Gives up her dead, shall meet me, they may say
Never, 'Old man, you told us not of this;
You left us fisher-lads that had to toil
Ever in danger of the secret stab
Of rocks, far deadlier than the dagger; winds
Of breath more murderous than the cannon's; waves
Mighty to rock us to our death; and gulfs
Ready beneath to suck and swallow us in:
This crime be on your bead; and as for us—
What shall we do?' but rather—nay, not so,
I will not think it; I will leave the dead,
Appealing but to life: I am afraid
Of you, but not so much if you have sinned
As for the doubt if sin shall be forgiven.
The day was, I have been afraid of pride—
Hard man's hard pride; but now I am afraid
Of man's humility. I counsel you,
By the great God's great humbleness, and by
His pity, be not humble over-much.
See! I will show at whose unopened doors
He stands and knocks, that you may never say,
'I am too mean, too ignorant, too lost;
He knocks at other doors, but not at mine.'

'See here! it is the night! it is the night!
And snow lies thickly, white untrodden snow,
And the wan moon upon a casement shines—
A casement crusted o'er with frosty leaves,
That make her ray less bright along the floor.
A woman sits, with hands upon her knees,
Poor tired soul! and she has nought to do,
For there is neither fire nor candle light:
The driftwood ash lies cold upon her hearth;
The rushlight flickered down an hour ago;
Her children wail a little in their sleep
For cold and hunger, and, as if that sound
Was not enough, another comes to her,
Over God's undefilèd snow—a song—
Nay, never hang your heads—I say, a song.

'And doth she curse the alehouse, and the sots
That drink the night out and their earnings there,
And drink their manly strength and courage down,
And drink away the little children's bread,
And starve her, starving by the self-same act
Her tender suckling, that with piteous eyes
Looks in her face, till scarcely she has heart
To work, and earn the scanty bit and drop
That feed the others?
Does she curse the song?
I think not, fishermen; I have not heard
Such women curse. God's curse is curse enough.
To-morrow she will say a bitter thing,
Pulling her sleeve down lest the bruises show—
A bitter thing, but meant for an excuse—
My master is not worse than many men:'
But now, ay, now she sitteth dumb and still;
No food, no comfort, cold and poverty
Bearing her down.
My heart is sore for her;
How long, how long? When troubles come of God,
When men are frozen out of work, when wives
Are sick, when working fathers fail and die,
When boats go down at sea—then nought behoves
Like patience; but for troubles wrought of men
Patience is hard—I tell you it is hard.

'O thou poor soul! it is the night—the night;
Against thy door drifts up the silent snow,
Blocking thy threshold: 'Fall,' thou sayest, 'fall, fall,
Cold snow, and lie and be trod underfoot,
Am not I fallen? wake up, and pipe, O wind,
Dull wind, and beat and bluster at my door:
Merciful wind, sing me a hoarse rough song,
For there is other music made to-night
That I would fain not hear. Wake, thou still sea,
Heavily plunge. Shoot on, white waterfall.
O, I could long like thy cold icicles
Freeze, freeze, and hang upon the frosty clift
And not complain, so I might melt at last
In the warm summer sun, as thou wilt do!

' 'But woe is me! I think there is no sun;
My sun is sunken, and the night grows dark:
None care for me. The children cry for bread,
And I have none, and nought can comfort me;
Even if the heavens were free to such as I,
It were not much, for death is long to wait,
And heaven is far to go! '

'And speak'st then thus,
Despairing of the sun that sets to thee,
And of the earthly love that wanes to thee,
And of the heaven that lieth far from thee?
Peace, peace, fond fool! One draweth near thy door
Whose footsteps leave no print across the snow;
Thy sun has risen with comfort in his face,
The smile of heaven, to warm thy frozen heart
And bless with saintly hand. What! is it long
To wait and far to go? Thou shalt not go;
Behold, across the snow to thee He comes,
Thy heaven descends, and is it long to wait?
Thou shalt not wait: 'This night, this night,' He saith,
'I stand at the door and knock.'

It is enough—can such an one be here—
Yea, here? O God forgive you, fishermen!
One! is there only one? But do thou know,
O woman pale for want, if thou art here,
That on thy lot much thought is spent in heaven;
And, coveting the heart a hard man broke,
One standeth patient, watching in the night,
And waiting in the day-time.
What shall be
If thou wilt answer? He will smile on thee;
One smile of His shall be enough to heal
The wound of man's neglect; and He will sigh,
Pitying the trouble which that sigh shall cure;
And He will speak—speak in the desolate night,
In the dark night: 'For me a thorny crown
Men wove, and nails were driven in my hands
And feet: there was an earthquake, and I died;
I died, and am alive for evermore.

' 'I died for thee; for thee I am alive,
And my humanity doth mourn for thee,
For thou art mine; and all thy little ones,
They, too, are mine, are mine. Behold, the house
Is dark, but there is brightness where the sons
Of God are singing, and, behold, the heart
Is troubled: yet the nations walk in white;
They have forgotten how to weep; and thou
Shalt also come, and I will foster thee
And satisfy thy soul; and thou shalt warm
Thy trembling life beneath the smile of God.
A little while—it is a little while—
A little while, and I will comfort thee;
I go away, but I will come again.'

'But hear me yet. There was a poor old man
Who sat and listened to the raging sea,
And heard it thunder, lunging at the cliffs
As like to tear them down. He lay at night;
And 'Lord have mercy on the lads,' said he,
'That sailed at noon, though they be none of mine!
For when the gale gets up, and when the wind
Flings at the window, when it beats the roof,
And lulls, and stops, and rouses up again,
And cuts the crest clean off the plunging wave,
And scatters it like feathers up the field,
Why, then I think of my two lads: my lads
That would have worked and never let me want.
And never let me take the parish pay.
No, none of mine; my lads were drowned at sea—
My two—before the most of these were born.
I know how sharp that cuts, since my poor wife
Walked up and down, and still walked up and down,
And I walked after, and one could not hear
A word the other said, for wind and sea
That raged and beat and thundered in the night—
The awfullest, the longest, lightest night
That ever parents had to spend—a moon
That shone like daylight on the breaking wave.
Ah me! and other men have lost their lads,
And other women wiped their poor dead mouths,
And got them home and dried them in the house,
And seen the driftwood lie along the coast,
That was a tidy boat but one day back,
And seen next tide the neighbours gather it
To lay it on their fires.
Ay, I was strong
And able-bodied—loved my work;—but now
I am a useless hull: 't is time I sunk;
I am in all men's way; I trouble them;
I am a trouble to myself: but yet
I feel for mariners of stormy nights,
And feel for wives that watch ashore. Ay, ay!
If I had learning I would pray the Lord
To bring them in: but I 'm no scholar, no;
Book-learning is a world too hard for me:
But I make bold to say, 'O Lord, good Lord,
I am a broken-down poor man, a fool
To speak to Thee: but in the Book 't is writ,
As I hear say from others that can read,
How, when Thou camest, Thou didst love the sea,
And live with fisherfolk, whereby 't is sure
Thou knowest all the peril they go through,
And all their trouble.
As for me, good Lord,
I have no boat; I am too old, too old—
My lads are drowned; I buried my poor wife;
My little lasses died so long ago
That mostly I forget what they were like.
Thou knowest, Lord; they were such little ones
I know they went to Thee, but I forget
Their faces, though I missed them sore.
O Lord,
I was a strong man; I have drawn good food
And made good money out of Thy great sea:
But yet I cried for them at nights; and now,
Although I be so old, I miss my lads,
And there be many folk this stormy night
Heavy with fear for theirs. Merciful Lord,
Comfort them; save their honest boys, their pride,
And let them hear next ebb the blessedest,
Best sound—the boat keels grating on the sand.

' 'I cannot pray with finer words: I know
Nothing; I have no learning, cannot learn—
Too old, too old. They say I want for nought
I have the parish pay; but I am dull
Of hearing, and the fire scarce warms me through,
God save me—I have been a sinful man—
And save the lives of them that still can work,
For they are good to me; ay, good to me.
But, Lord, I am a trouble! and I sit,
And I am lonesome, and the nights are few
That any think to come and draw a chair,
And sit in my poor place and talk awhile.
Why should they come, forsooth? Only the wind
Knocks at my door, O long and loud it knocks,
The only thing God made that has a mind
To enter in.'
'Yea, thus the old man spake
These were the last words of his aged mouth—
BUT ONE DID KNOCK. One came to sup with him,
That humble, weak old man; knocked at his door
In the rough pauses of the labouring wind.
I tell you that One knocked while it was dark,
Save where their foaming passion had made white
Those livid seething billows. What He said
In that poor place where He did talk awhile,
I cannot tell: but this I am assured,
That when the neighbours came the morrow morn,
What time the wind had bated, and the sun
Shone on the old man's floor, they saw the smile
He passed away in, and they said, 'He looks
As he had woke and seen the face of Christ,
And with that rapturous smile held out his arms
To come to Him!'

'Can such an one be here,
So old, so weak, so ignorant, so frail?
The Lord be good to thee, thou poor old man;
It would be hard with thee if heaven were shut
To such as have not learning! Nay, nay, nay,
He condescends to them of low estate;
To such as are despised He cometh down,
Stands at the door and knocks.

'Yet bear with me.
I have a message; I have more to say.
Shall sorrow win His pity, and not sin—
That burden ten times heavier to be borne?
What think you? Shall the virtuous have His care
Alone? O virtuous women, think not scorn,
For you may lift your faces everywhere;
And now that it grows dusk, and I can see
None though they front me straight, I fain would tell
A certain thing to you. I say to you;
And if it doth concern you, as methinks
It doth, then surely it concerneth all.
I say that there was once—I say not here—
I say that there was once a castaway,
And she was weeping, weeping bitterly;
Kneeling, and crying with a heart-sick cry
That choked itself in sobs—'O my good name!
O my good name!' And none did hear her cry!
Nay; and it lightened, and the storm-bolts fell,
And the rain splashed upon the roof, and still
She, storm-tost as the storming elements
She cried with an exceeding bitter cry,
'O my good name!' And then the thunder-cloud
Stooped low and burst in darkness overhead,
And rolled, and rocked her on her knees, and shook
The frail foundations of her dwelling-place.
But she—if any neighbour had come in
(None did): if any neighbours had come in,
They might have seen her crying on her knees,
And sobbing 'Lost, lost, lost!' beating her breast—
Her breast for ever pricked with cruel thorns,
The wounds whereof could neither balm assuage
Nor any patience heal—beating her brow,
Which ached, it had been bent so long to hide
From level eyes, whose meaning was contempt.

'O ye good women, it is hard to leave
The paths of virtue, and return again.
What if this sinner wept, and none of you
Comforted her? And what if she did strive
To mend, and none of you believed her strife,
Nor looked upon her? Mark, I do not say,
Though it was hard, you therefore were to blame
That she had aught against you, though your feet
Never drew near her door. But I beseech
Your patience. Once in old Jerusalem
A woman kneeled at consecrated feet,
Kissed them, and washed them with her tears.
What then?
I think that yet our Lord is pitiful:
I think I see the castaway e'en now!
And she is not alone: the heavy rain
Splashes without, and sullen thunder rolls,
But she is lying at the sacred feet
Of One transfigured.
'And her tears flow down,
Down to her lips—her lips that kiss the print
Of nails; and love is like to break her heart!
Love and repentance—for it still doth work
Sore in her soul to think, to think that she,
Even she, did pierce the sacred, sacred feet,
And bruise the thorn-crowned head.
'O Lord, our Lord,
How great is Thy compassion! Come, good Lord,
For we will open. Come this night, good Lord;
Stand at the door and knock.
'And is this all?—
Trouble, old age and simpleness, and sin—
This all? It might be all some other night;
But this night, if a voice said 'Give account
Whom hast thou with thee?' then must I reply,
'Young manhood have I, beautiful youth and strength,
Rich with all treasure drawn up from the crypt
Where lies the learning of the ancient world—
Brave with all thoughts that poets fling upon
The strand of life, as driftweed after storms:
Doubtless familiar with Thy mountain heads,
And the dread purity of Alpine snows,
Doubtless familiar with Thy works concealed
For ages from mankind—outlying worlds,
And many mooned spheres—and Thy great store
Of stars, more thick than mealy dust which here
Powders the pale leaves of Auriculas.

This do I know, but, Lord, I know not more.

Not more concerning them—concerning Thee,
I know Thy bounty; where Then givest much
Standing without, if any call Thee in
Thou givest more.' Speak, then, O rich and strong;
Open, O happy young, ere yet the hand
Of Him that knocks, wearied at last, forbear;
The patient foot its thankless quest refrain,
The wounded heart for evermore withdraw.'

I have heard many speak, but this one man—
So anxious not to go to heaven alone—
This one man I remember, and his look,
Till twilight overshadowed him. He ceased,
And out in darkness with the fisher folk
We passed and stumbled over mounds of moss,
And heard, but did not see, the passing beck.
Ah, graceless heart, would that it could regain
From the dim storehouse of sensations past
The impress full of tender awe, that night,
Which fell on me! It was as if the Christ
Had been drawn down from heaven to track us home,
And any of the footsteps following us
Might have been His.