Opportunity.From The Italian Of Machiavelli
Who art thou, glorious Form, flashing by me,
So beautiful, so Godlike—wilt thou fly me?
Why o’er thy face and bosom fall thy tresses streaming?
And why the airy pinions on thy white feet gleaming?
My name is Opportunity. Pause or rest I never:
Mortals rarely know me till I’m gone for ever.
To seize me passing on to few is granted;
Therefore one foot upon a wheel is planted
Therefore the light wings bound on them, to make me
So quick in flight that none shall overtake me.
Down fall my tresses, face and bosom veiling,
That none may know me ’till to know be unavailing;
Then, mockingly, I fling aside the veil, and please me
With their vain hope, and vainer haste to seize me.
And who is this dark form that follows thee with weeping,
Ever as a shadow on thy bright track keeping?
Her name’s Repentance. When I fleet quickly by them,
She stoppeth weeping, vainly weeping nigh them.
But thou, poor mortal, precious moments wasting,
Idly thou dreamest while I’m onwards hasting.
Wilt thou not wake? Alas! weep now, I’ve passed for ever.
Weep, for Repentance henceforth leaves thee never.
A Lament For The Potato
There is woe, there is clamour, in our desolated land,
And wailing lamentation from a famine‐stricken band;
And weeping are the multitudes in sorrow and despair,
For the green fields of Munster lying desolate and bare.
Woe for Lorc’s ancient kingdom, sunk in slavery and grief;
Plundered, ruined, are our gentry, our people, and their Chief;
For the harvest lieth scattered, more worth to us than gold,
All the kindly food that nourished both the young and the old.
Well I mind me of the cosherings, where princes might dine,
And we drank until nightfall the best seven sorts of wine;
Yet was ever the Potato our old, familiar dish,
And the best of all sauces with the beeves and the fish.
But the harp now is silent, no one careth for the sound;
No flowers, no sweet honey, and no beauty can be found;
Not a bird its music thrilling through the leaves of the wood,
Nought but weeping and hands wringing in despair for our food.
And the Heavens, all in darkness, seem lamenting our doom,
No brightness in the sunlight, not a ray to pierce the gloom;
The cataract comes rushing with a fearful deepened roar,
And ocean bursts its boundaries, dashing wildly on the shore.
Yet, in misery and want, we have one protecting man,
Kindly Barry, of Fitzstephen’s old hospitable clan;
By mount and river working deeds of charity and grace:
Blessings ever on our champion, best hero of his race!
Save us, God! In Thy mercy bend to hear the people’s cry,
From the famine‐stricken fields, rising bitterly on high;
Let the mourning and the clamour cease in Lorc’s ancient land,
And shield us in the death‐hour by Thy strong, protecting hand!*
Lorc, or Lorcan, an ancient King of Munster, the grandfather of the great King Brian Boru.
Gone from us—dead to us—he whom we worshipped so!
Low lies the altar we raised to his name;
Madly his own hand hath shattered and laid it low
Madly his own breath hath blasted his fame.
He whose proud bosom once raged with humanity,
He whose broad forehead was circled with might,
Sunk to a time‐serving, driv’lling inanity
God! Why not spare our loved country the sight?
Was it the gold of the stranger that tempted him?
Ah! we’d have pledged to him body and soul;
Toiled for him—fought for him—starved for him—died for him
Smiled, tho’ our graves were the steps to his goal.
Breathed he one word in his deep, earnest whispering,
Wealth, crown, and kingdom, were laid at his feet;
Raised he his right hand, the millions would round him cling
Hush! ’tis the Sassenach ally you greet.
Leaders have fallen—we wept, but we triumphed, too
Patriot blood never sinks in the sod;
He falls, and the jeers of the nation he bent to sue
Rise like accusing weird spirits to God.
Weep for him—weep for him—deep is the tragedy
Angels themselves now might doubt of God’s truth;
Souls from their bloody graves, shuddering, rise to see
How he avenges their lost, murdered youth.
Tone, and Fitzgerald, and the pale‐brow’d enthusiast—
He whose heart broke, but shrank not from the strife;
Davis, the latest loved—he who in glory passed,
Kindling Hope’s lamp with the chrism of life.
Well may they wail for him—power and might were his
Loved as no mortal was loved in the land
What has he sold them for? Sorrow and shame it is,
Fair words and false from a recreant band.
Time’s shade was on him; what matter? we loved him yet;
Aye, would have torn the veins with our teeth,
Made him a bath of our young blood to pay the debt
Purchased his life, tho’ we bought brough it by death.
Pray for him—pray: an archangel has fallen low;
There’s a throne less in Heaven, there is sorrow on earth.
Weep, angels—laugh, demons! When his hand could strike the blow,
Where shall we seek for truth, honour, or worth?
France In '93
Ark! the onward heavy tread
Hark! the voices rude
’Tis the famished cry for Bread
From a wildered multitude.
They come! They come!
Point the cannon—roll the drum;
Thousands wail and weep with hunger
Faster let your soldiers number.
Sword, and gun, and bayonet
A famished people’s cries have met.
Hark! the onward heavy tread
Hark! the voices rude—
’Tis the famished cry for Bread
From an armed multitude.
They come! They come!
Not with meek submission’s hum.
Bloody trophy they have won,
Ghastly glares it in the sun
Gory head on lifted pike.
Ha! they weep not now, but strike.
Ye, the deaf ones to their cries
Ye, who scorned their agonies
’Tis no longer prayers for bread
Shriek in your ears the famishéd;
But wildly, fiercely, peal on peal,
Resoundeth—Down with the Bastile!
Can ye tame a people now?
Try them—flatter, promise, vow,
Swear their wrongs shall be redressed
But patience—time will do the rest;
Swear they shall one day be fed
Hark! the People—Dead for Dead!
Calculating statesmen, quail;
Proud aristocrat, grow pale;
Savage sounds that deathly song:
Down with tyrants! Down with wrong!
Blindly now they wreak revenge
How rudely do a mob avenge!
What! coronetted Prince of Peer,
Will not the base‐born slavelings fear?
Sooth, their cry is somewhat stern:
Aristocrats, à la Lanterne!
Ghastly fruit their lances bear
Noble heads with streaming hair;
Diadem and kingly crown
Strike the famine‐stricken down.
Now, the People’s work is done
On they stride o’er prostrate throne;
Royal blood of King and Queen
Streameth from the guillotine;
Wildly on the people goeth,
Reaping what the noble soweth.
Little dreamed he, prince or peer,
Of who should be his heritor.
Hunger now, at last, is sated
In halls where once it wailed and waited;
Wild Justice fiercely rives the laws
Which failed to right a people’s cause.
On that human ocean floweth,
Whither stops it no one knoweth
Surge the wild waves in their strength
Against all chartered rights at length
Throne, and King, and Noble fall;
But the People—they hold Carnival!
Pale victims, where is your Fatherland?
Where oppression is law from age to age,
Where the death‐plague, and hunger, and misery rage,
And tyrants a godless warfare wage
'Gainst the holiest rights of an ancient land.
Where the corn waves green on the fair hillside,
But each sheaf by the serfs and slavelings tied
Is taken to pamper a foreigner's pride—
There is our suffering Fatherland.
Where broad rivers flow 'neath a glorious sky,
And the valleys like gems of emerald lie;
Yet, the young men, and strong men, starve and die,
For want of bread in their own rich land.
And we pile up their corses, heap on heap,
While the pale mothers faint, and the children weep;
Yet, the living might envy the dead their sleep,
So bitter is life in that mourning land.
Oh! Heaven ne'er looked on a sadder scene;
Earth shuddered to hear that such woe had been;
Then we prayed, in despair, to a foreign queen,
For leave to live on our own fair land.
We have wept till our faces are pale and wan;
We have knelt to a throne till our strength is gone;
We prayed to our masters, but, one by one,
They laughed to scorn our suffering land;
And sent forth their minions, with cannon and steel,
Swearing with fierce, unholy zeal,
To trample us down with an iron heel,
If we dared but to murmur our just demand.—
Know ye not now our Fatherland?
What! are there no MEN in your Fatherland,
To confront the tyrant's stormy glare,
With a scorn as deep as the wrongs ye bear,
With defiance as fierce as the oaths they sware,
With vengeance as wild as the cries of despair,
That rise from your suffering Fatherland?
Are there no SWORDS in your Fatherland,
To smite down the proud, insulting foe,
With the strength of despair dispair give blow for blow
Till the blood of the baffled murderers flow
On the trampled soil of your outraged land?
Are your right arms weak in that land of slaves,
That ye stand by your murdered brothers' graves,
Yet tremble like coward and crouching knaves,
To strike for freedom and Fatherland?
Oh! had ye faith in your Fatherland,
In God, your Cause, and your own right hand,
Ye would go forth as saints to the holy fight,
Go in the strength of eternal right,
Go in the conquering Godhead's might
And save or Avenge your Fatherland!
The Waiwode.From The Russian
Secretly by night returning,
Jealous fears within him burning,
The Waiwode seeks his young wife’s bed,
And with trembling hand, uncertain,
Backward draws the silken curtain
Death and vengeance—she has fled!
With a frown like tempest weather,
Fierce he knits his brows together,
Tears his beard in wrathful mood
Roars in thunder through the castle,
Summoning each trembling vassal,
“Ho there! slaves—ye devil’s brood!
“Who left the castle gate unguarded,
And slew the hound?—some hand unbarr’d it!
Quick! prepare ye sack and cord!
My arms here, fellows—loaded, ready!
Now, slave, your pistols, follow—steady
Ha, traitress! thou shalt feel this sword
Close in the murky shadows hiding,
Slave and master, onward gliding,
Reach the garden. There, indeed,
Listening to the soft appealing
Of a youth before her kneeling,
Stands she in her white naridd.
Through the marble fountain’s playing,
Passion’s words they hear him saying
“How I love thee, yet thou’st sold
All thy beauty’s glowing treasures,
All this soft hand’s tender pressures,
For the Waiwode’s cursed gold.
“How I loved, as none can love thee;
Waited, wept—if tears could move thee
Ah! and is it thus we meet?
He ne’er strove through tears and troubles,
Only clang’d his silver roubles,
And thou fallest at his feet.
Yet once more, through night and storm,
I ride to gaze upon thy form,
Touch again that thrilling hand;
Pray that peace may rest upon thee
In the home that now has won thee,
Then for ever fly this land.”
Low she bendeth o’er him weeping,
Heeds not stealthy footsteps creeping,
Sees not jealous eye‐balls glare
“Now, slave, steady,—Fool, thou tremblest
Vengeance if thy heart dissemblest
Kill her as she standeth there.”
“Oh, my Lord and master, hear me
Patience yet, or much I fear me
I shall never aim aright.
See, the bitter night wind’s blowing
Numbs my hand, and brings these flowing
Icy tears to dim my sight.”
“Silence! thou accurséd Russian.
Hold—I’ll guide the pistol’s motion;
See’st thou not her gleaming brow?
So, steady—straight before thee—higher
When I give gave the signal, fire
Darker doom awaits him—Now!”
A shot, a groan, and all is over;
Still she standeth by her lover
’Tis the Waiwode falleth dead!
Was ever known such sad disaster?
The bungling slave hath shot his master
Straight and steady through the head.
What though Freedom’s hosts are parted,
Yet, beneath one banner fighting,
Strong in love and hero‐hearted,
All, their Country’s wrongs are righting
With the weapon that each deemeth best to strike oppression down.
And one battle‐cry resoundeth
From your ranks, success presaging;
And one heart within you boundeth
With a martyr’s faith, engaging
Each to bind upon his forehead cypress wreath or laurel crown.
For a power without you urges
That can brook no more delaying,
And the heaving myriad surges,
To and fro in tumult swaying,
Threaten death to all who vainly would oppose them in their might.
Thrilling words, that burn like fire,
Ye have preached to hut and hovel,
Till they leap up in their ire
From the death‐dust where they grovel,
These men of many sufferings, to die or win their right.
Pass the word that bands together
Word of mystic conjuration
And, as fire consumes the heather,
So the young hearts of the nation
Fierce will blaze up, quick and scathing, ’gainst the stranger and the foe.
Hand to hand with them confronted,
Looking death and danger gravely
In the face, with brow undaunted;
Doing nobly, dying bravely,
Stern as men resolved to conquer or to perish in their woe.
For the God‐breath speaketh in you,
Dare ye not belie your mission;
And the beck’ning angels win you
On with many a radiant vision,
Up the thorny path of glory, where the hero gains his crown.
Fling abroad our Country’s banner,
Foremost march to Freedom leading,
Let the breath of millions fan her,
Not alone the wine‐press treading,
For a Nation is arising from her long and ghastly swoon.
Go with lips that dare not falter,
Offer up, with exaltations,
On your country’s holy altar,
Youth, with all its fervid passions,
And your life, if she demands it—Can a patriot fear to die?
What is life that ye should love it
More than manlike deeds of duty?
There’s a glory far above it
Crowns your brow with nobler beauty—
’Tis to die, with cheers heroic, lifting Freedom’s standard high.
Through the darkness and the dunlight,
Of this sorrow‐night of weeping,
Ye shall trail the radiant sunlight,
And, like strong men armed, leaping
Forth to wondrous deeds of glory, make Humanity sublime.
Rising higher still, and higher,
Till the Angel who stands nighest
To the Throne shall tune his lyre
To your praise before the Highest,
And the Crown of Fame Immortal shall be yours throughout all time.
The Year Of Revolutions
Lift up your pale faces, ye children of sorrow,
The night passes on to a glorious to‐morrow!
Hark! hear you not sounding glad Liberty’s pæan,
From the Alps to the Isles of the tideless Ægean?
And the rhythmical march of the gathering nations,
And the crashing of thrones ’neath their fierce exultations,
And the cry of Humanity cleaving the ether,
With hymns of the conquering rising together
God, Liberty, Truth! How they burn heart and brain
These words shall they burn—shall they waken in vain?
No! soul answers soul, steel flashes on steel,
And land wakens land with a grand thunder‐peal.
Shall we, oh! my Brothers, but weep, pray, and groan,
When France reads her rights by the flames of a Throne?
Shall we fear and falter to join the grand chorus,
When Europe has trod the dark pathway before us?
Oh, courage! and we, too, will trample them down,
The minions of power, the serfs of a crown.
Oh, courage! but courage, if once to the winds
Ye fling Freedom’s banner, no tyranny binds.
At the voice of the people the weak symbols fall,
And Humanity marches o’er purple and pall,
O’er sceptre and crown, with a glorious disdain,
For the symbol must fall and Humanity reign.
Onward! then onward! ye brave to the vanguard,
Gather in glory round Liberty’s standard!
Like France, lordly France, we shall sweep from their station
All, all who oppose the stern will of a nation;
Like Prussia’s brave children will stoop to no lord,
But demand our just rights at the point of the sword.
We’ll conquer! we’ll conquer! No tears for the dying,
The portal to Heaven be the field where they’re lying.
We’ll conquer! we’ll conquer! No tears for the slain,
God’s angels will smile on their death‐hour of pain.
On, on in your masses dense, resolute, strong
To war against treason, oppression, and wrong;
On, on with your chieftains, and Him we adore most,
Who strikes with the bravest and leads with the foremost,
Who brings the proud light of a name great in story,
To guide us through danger unconquered to glory.
With faith like the Hebrew’s we’ll stem the Red Sea
God! smite down the Pharaohs—our trust is in Thee;
Be it blood of the tyrant or blood of the slave,
We’ll cross it to Freedom, or find there a grave.
Lo! a throne for each worker, a crown for each brow,
The palm for each martyr that dies for us now;
Spite the flash of their muskets, the roar of their cannon,
The assassins of Freedom shall lower their pennon;
For the will of a Nation what foe dare withstand?
Then Patriots, Heroes, strike! God for our Land!
Thekla. A Swedish Saga. The Temptation
On the green sward Thekla’s lying,
Summer winds are round her sighing,
At her feet the ocean plays;
In that mirror idly gazing
She beholds, with inward praising,
Her own beauty in amaze.
And with winds and waves attuning
Her low voice, in soft communing
Said: “If truly I’m so fair,
Might the best in our Swedish land
Die all for love of my white hand,
Azure eyes and golden hair.”
And fair Thekla bent down gazing,
Light her golden curls upraising
From her bosom fair to see,
Which, within the azure ocean,
Glittered back hack in soft commotion,
Like a lotus tremblingly.
Saying soft, with pleasure trembling,
“If so fair is the resembling,
How much fairer I must be!
Rose‐lipped shadow, smiling brightly,
Are we angels floating lightly
Through the azure air and sea?
“Oh! that beauty never faded,
That years passing never shaded
Youthful cheek with hues of age!
Oh! thou fairest crystal form,
Can we not time’s hand disarm?”
Hark! the winds begin to rage;
And with onward heaving motion
Rise the waves in wild commotion
Spirits mournfullest they seem
Round the crystal shadow plaining,
Shivered, shattered, fades it waning
From the maiden like a dream.
And from midst the drooping oziers
Of the sunny banks’ enclosures
Rose a woman weird to see:
Strange her mien mein and antique vesture,
Yet with friendly look and gesture
To the trembling girl spake she.
“As the cruel winds bereft thee
Of the shadow that hath left thee,
Maiden, will thy children steal
One by one these treasures from thee,
Till all beauty hath foregone thee:
Mother’s woe is children’s weal.
“For the beauty of the mother
Is the children’s—sister, brother,
As she fades away, will bloom.
Mother’s eyes grow dim by weeping,
Wan her cheek cheak , lone vigils keeping:
Youthful virgin, ’ware your doom!
“Wifely name is sweet from lover,
Yet ere many years are over,
From the fatal day you wed,
Sore you’ll rue the holy altar,
And the salt sea will grow salter
For the bitter tears you’ll shed.
“See the pallid cheek reflected,
Hollow, sunken eyes dejected,
Look of weary, wasting pain;
All changed for thy beauty rarest:
Maiden, tell me, if thou darest
Then come here, and look again.
“But should lovers’ pleading gain thee,
Haste thee quick and I will sain thee
Ere the marriage vows are said;
By the might of magic power,
I can save thee from the hour
Of a mother’s anguish dread.”
Answered Thekla:: “Save me! save me!
Witch or woman, then I crave thee,
From a mother’s fated doom!
So my beauty never fading
Thou canst make with magic aiding,
Fatal Mother, I shall come.”
Ignez De Castro.From The Portuguese
Far from her Royal lover, by Mondego’s sunny tide,
Does the Lady Inez wander, Don Pedro’s lovely bride;
Her long hair fell around her, like a veil of a golden light,
And the jewelled zone that bound her in the noontide sparkled bright.
But heavy showers are falling fast adown her azure eyes,
As on Heaven with anguish calling, she lifts them to the skies.
Where is her princely lover? Is there none to save her nigh?
Does he know that King Alonzo hath sworn that she shall die?
She trembles at each murmured sound that’s wafted on the breeze:
It is the murderer’s footstep that rustles through the trees;
But wearily, all wearily, with watching and with weeping,
She sank in troubled slumber, while her maidens guard were keeping.
She dream’d that in the palace, by her Royal lover’s side,
She sat upon the high throne, as his crownéd Queen and bride;
And words of love he murmured, and the crowd knelt down to praise,
And she proudly took their homage, but blushed beneath his gaze.
Fair cloth of silver brighter than the sunbeam’s woven light,
And marble pillars whiter than the pale queen of night—
Flowers and odours blending, all loveliest lovliest things were there,
Incense‐clouds upsending, for her—the beautiful, the fair!
Her robes of tissue golden outvied her golden tresses,
As she lay enfolden in her lover’s soft caresses;
But brighter than the diamonds that circled round her brow,
Were the flashing eyes beneath them—he murmured with a vow.
And redder than the rubies that enclasped her jewelled zone,
Were the roses on her cheek when he whispered—Thou’rt mine own.
And he stooped his plumed head gently to kiss her—so she dreamed
But his lips were icy cold, like the touch of death it seemed.
And she started from her slumber all tearfully and pale,
For hurrying steps and voices were heard, and woman’s wail
“O God! the hour has come,” they cried—“the murderers are near!
Why weep ye so, my maidens, now?—your cheeks are blanched with fear.
“I see—I see their shadows—down the marble steps they run;
I see their daggers gleaming in the red light of the sun
O Pedro! Pedro! save me!”—help from God nor man is nigh:
All vainly to her murderers for mercy did she cry.
Then she raised her eyes to Heaven, and threw back her golden hair,
And in the streaming sunlight calm and saintly stood she there;
While upon her snowy bosom she meekly crossed her hands
You’d take her for an Angel as she there in beauty stands.
What! shrink ye now, false cravens!—do ye fear yon pale faced girl?
Tigers, traitors, as ye are, dare ye touch one golden curl?
King Alonzo’s gold is tempting, yet fain ye now would fly
From the calm and holy glance of that tearful azure eye.
It was but for a moment’s pause—the next their daggers gleam,
And she falls, the young and lovely, by Mondego’s fated stream;
Like red rain on the young flowers, pours forth life’s crimson tide
And softly murmuring, Pedro! she looked to Heaven, and died.
The Famine Year
Weary men, what reap ye? —Golden corn for the stranger.
What sow ye? —Human corses that wait for the avenger.
Fainting forms, hunger‐stricken, what see you in the offing?
Stately ships to bear our food away, amid the stranger's scoffing.
There's a proud array of soldiers—what do they round your door?
They guard our masters' granaries from the thin hands of the poor.
Pale mothers, wherefore weeping? —Would to God that we were dead
Our children swoon before us, and we cannot give them bread.
Little children, tears are strange upon your infant faces,
God meant you but to smile within your mother's soft embraces.
Oh! we know not what is smiling, and we know not what is dying;
But we're hungry, very hungry, and we cannot stop our crying.
And some of us grow cold and white—we know not what it means;
But, as they lie beside us, we tremble in our dreams.
There's a gaunt crowd on the highway—are ye come to pray to man,
With hollow eyes that cannot weep, and for words your faces wan?
No; the blood is dead within our veins—we care not now for life;
Let us die hid in the ditches, far from children and from wife;
We cannot stay and listen to their raving, famished cries
Bread! Bread! Bread! and none to still their agonies.
We left our infants playing with their dead mother's hand:
We left our maidens maddened by the fever's scorching brand:
Better, maiden, thou were strangled in thy own dark‐twisted tresses—
Better, infant, thou wert smothered in thy mother's first caresses.
We are fainting in our misery, but God will hear our groan;
Yet, if fellow‐men desert us, will He hearken from His Throne?
Accursed are we in our own land, yet toil we still and toil;
But the stranger reaps our harvest—the alien owns our soil.
O Christ! how have we sinned, that on our native plains
We perish houseless, naked, starved, with branded brow, like Cain's?
Dying, dying wearily, with a torture sure and slow
Dying, as a dog would die, by the wayside as we go.
One by one they're falling round us, their pale faces to the sky;
We've no strength left to dig them graves—there let them lie.
The wild bird, if he's stricken, is mourned by the others,
But we—we die in Christian land—we die amid our brothers,
In the land which God has given, like a wild beast in his cave,
Without a tear, a prayer, a shroud, a coffin, or a grave.
Ha! but think ye the contortions on each livid face ye see,
Will not be read on judgment‐day by eyes of Deity?
We are wretches, famished, scorned, human tools to build your pride,
But God will yet take vengeance for the souls for whom Christ died.
Now is your hour of pleasure—bask ye in the world's caress;
But our whitening bones against ye will rise as witnesses,
From the cabins and the ditches, in their charred, uncoffin'd masses,
For the Angel of the Trumpet will know them as he passes.
A ghastly, spectral army, before the great God we'll stand,
And arraign ye as our murderers, the spoilers of our land.
The Faithless Shepherds
Dead! Dead! Ye are dead while ye live;
Ye've a name that ye live—but are dead.
Neither counsel nor love did ye give,
And your lips never uttered a word
While swift ruin downward sped,
And the plague raged on undisturbed.
Not a throb of true life in your veins,
Not a pulse in your passionless heart,
Not a thought in the dull, cold brains,
Of how ye should bear your part,
When summoned the strife to brave,
For our Country, with Death and the Grave.
Ye have gold for the follies of fashion,
And gold for its tinsel glare,
But none for the wild, sobbing passion
Wrung from the lips of despair.
False Shepherds and Guides are ye,
For the heart in each bosom is cold
As the ice on a frozen sea;
And your trappings of velvet and gold
Lie heavy and close as a pall,
When the steps of the bearers fall
On a grave, with measured tread;
For ye seem to live—but are dead.
Ye are dead! —ye are dead! stone by stone
The temple is crumbling down;
It will fall with a crash of doom,
For the night deepens dark in its gloom.
But ye look on with vacant stare,
Like men lying still in the tomb.
Stand forth! face the sun, if ye dare,
With your cold eyes unwet by a tear,
For your Country laid low on your bier,
And say—have ye stretched forth a hand
To raise up our desolate Land?
She dies—but ye flourish and grow
In the midst of the deadly maze:
Like the palm springing heavenward? —No,
But like weeds in the churchyard fed
By the vapours of death below,
Breathing round you a poisonous haze.
Go! —go! True life is not so
For decay lies beneath your tread,
And the staff in your hand is a reed
Too weak for your Country's need;
For you seem to live—but are dead.
Ye are dead! —ye are dead! Fling the clay
On the noble names—noble no more;
Leave the sword in the sheath to rust;
Let the banners be trailed in the dust;
And the memory perish away
Of the dead, who are dead evermore;
Blot them out from the book writ in gold.
Noble neither in deed nor in soul,
Are ye worthy to stand in the roll
Of the glorified heroes of old?
Has Ireland need of such sons?
Floating down with a silken sail,
On the crimson tide of her life, that runs
With a mournful, ceaseless wail,
Like rain pouring down from the eaves.
And ye laugh when the strangers deride
Her trials, the saddest and sorest,
And plunge the sword deep in her side;
And no kindly heart sighs or grieves
For her branches, all bare as a forest,
When the autumn wind scatters the leaves.
Laugh low with your perfumed breath,
For the air is heavy with death.
But ye hear not the gliding feet
Of the Future, that stands at your door;
For the roses lie heavy and sweet,
And too thick on your marble floor,
And the dead soul is dead to his call.
And your eyes are heavy with wine;
Ye see not the letters of flame,
Traced by a hand divine
The writing of God on the wall
"Ye are weighed, and found wanting"—Oh, shame!
Your life is a gilded lie;
And the wide world that doom has read,
With a shudder and chill of dread;
For the judgment of God is nigh,
And the universe echoes the cry
You've a name that ye live—but are Dead.
Tis midnight, falls the lamp‐light dull and sickly,
On a pale and anxious crowd,
Through the court, and round the judges, thronging thickly,
With prayers none dare to speak aloud.
Two youths, two noble youths, stand prisoners at the bar
You can see them through the gloom
In pride of life and manhood’s beauty, there they are
Awaiting their death doom.
All eyes an earnest watch on them are keeping,
Some, sobbing, turn away,
And the strongest men can hardly see for weeping,
So noble and so loved were they.
Their hands are locked together, those young brothers,
As before the judge they stand
They feel not the deep grief that moves the others,
For they die for Fatherland.
They are pale, but it is not fear that whitens
On each proud, high brow,
For the triumph of the martyr’s glory brightens
Around them even now.
They sought to free their land from thrall of stranger;
Was it treason? Let them die;
But their blood will cry to Heaven—the Avenger
Yet will hearken from on high.
Before them, shrinking, cowering, scarcely human,
The base informer bends,
Who, Judas‐like, could sell the blood of true men,
While he clasped their hands as friends.
Aye, could fondle the young children of his victim,
Break bread with his young wife,
At the moment that for gold his perjured dictum
Sold the husband and the father’s life.
There is silence in the midnight—eyes are keeping
Troubled watch till forth the jury come;
There is silence in the midnight—eyes are weeping—
“Guilty!”—is the fatal uttered doom.
For a moment o’er the brothers’ noble faces
Came a shadow sad to see;
Then silently they rose up in their places,
And embraced each other fervently.
Oh! the rudest heart might tremble at such sorrow,
The rudest cheek might blanch at such a scene:
Twice the judge essayed to speak the word—to‐morrow
Twice faltered, as a woman he had been.
To‐morrow!—Fain the elder would have spoken,
Prayed for respite, tho’ it is not death he fears;
But thoughts of home and wife his heart hath broken,
And his words are stopped by tears.
But the youngest—oh, he spake out bold and clearly:
“I have no ties of children or of wife;
Let me die—but spare the brother who more dearly
Is loved by me than life.”
Pale martyrs, ye may cease, your days are numbered;
Next noon your sun of life goes down;
One day between the sentence and the scaffold
One day between the torture and the crown!
A hymn of joy is rising from creation;
Bright the azure of the glorious summer sky;
But human hearts weep sore in lamentation,
For the Brothers are led forth to die.
Aye, guard them with your cannon and your lances
So of old came martyrs to the stake;
Aye, guard them—see the people’s flashing glances,
For those noble two are dying for their sake.
Yet none spring forth their bonds to sever
Ah! methinks, had I been there,
I’d have dared a thousand deaths ere ever
The sword should touch their hair.
It falls!—there is a shriek of lamentation
From the weeping crowd around;
They’re stilled—the noblest hearts within the nation
The noblest heads lie bleeding on the ground.
Years have passed since that fatal scene of dying,
Yet, lifelike to this day,
In their coffins still those severed heads are lying,
Kept by angels from decay.
Oh! they preach to us, those still and pallid features
Those pale lips yet implore us, from their graves,
To strive for our birthright as God’s creatures,
Or die, if we can but live as slaves.
And Erick roamed in distant lands,
But cannot fly his weary fate;
Before him in the lonely night,
Before him in the noonday bright,
His guilty wife for ever stands,
A thing of loathing and of hate.
Alone, as under blight and ban,
He roams, a saddened, weary man.
Yet yearnings came to him at last,
And, drawn as by a spirit hand,
He homeward turned, his wanderings past,
To his own distant Swedish land;
And rose up with a spirit grace,
As pleading to him for her life,
Before him, with her angel face,
His beautiful, his sinning wife.
The ship sailed fast through storm and wrack,
The ship sailed slow the Isles between,
And Erick, watching on the deck,
Saw rise before him, low and green,
The Swedish Sweedish shores in level lines,
The fringèd shores of lordly pines:
A spirit’s touch, a spirit’s power,
Seemed on him at that magic hour.
He stood within his castle halls,
The grass grew rank around the gate,
The weeds hung from the mouldering walls,
And all around was desolate.
The bridal room was closed from sight,
For none had dared to enter in,
Since by God’s awful, searching light
The sinner had confessed her sin.
Her golden ring of hellish ban
Still lay upon the marble floor,
Her broken ring—the fatal sign
Of love that could return no more.
And nought the purple curtains stirred
Save the drear night‐wind’s mournful gust,
And golden crown and silken veil
Lay mouldering in the silent dust.
A bitter cry, a mournful cry,
Was wrung by grief from Erick’s breast.
She sinned, he said, but suffered, too,
Could penitence the sin undo,
Her sinning soul had rest.
If God can pity, why should I
Relentless doom a soul to die
Unpardoned, and unblest?
Christ did not scorn the sinner’s touch:
Shall man avenge sin overmuch,
And crush the heart‐woe riven?
Fain would I say one word of grace
Ere yet I meet her face to face,
Before the throne in Heaven.
Then led as by a spirit’s might,
He wandered forth into the night,
And rested not till he stood
By the lone Chapel in the wood.
And she that night in bitter woe,
Low kneeling by the closèd gate,
Poured out the grief those only know
By God and man left desolate.
Nought but the sacred owl heard her moan
Of inarticulate agony,
As down upon the threshold stone
She sank, and prayed that she might die.
O piteous sound of vain despair,
That mournful wailing by the gate;
That wailing of a ruined soul,
Downfallen from its high estate!
She wrung her wasted hands the while,
And pressed her forehead to the bar,
As if within that holy aisle
God’s pardon yet might come to her.
The cruel moon lit up the sward,
And pierced the guilty soul within,
That blighted form, all seared and marred
With deadly consciousness of sin;
The form that threw no shadow more
Besides God’s holy temple door;
And the awful moon, sharp, cold, and clear,
Struck through her like the Avenger’s spear.
O saddest sight beneath its light,
That humbled, suffering creature!
For all too heavy lay the doom.
Upon her human nature.
The curse of sin that none forego,
The agony, the pain, the strife,
The sullied soul, the wasted life,
Sin’s endless heritage of woe.
She prayed as only those can pray
Who pray to be forgiven;
She wept as only those can weep
Who fear to forfeit Heaven.
With outstretched hands and streaming eyes
She pleads to Heaven, imploring,
As if her cries could pierce the skies,
Where angels stand adoring.
O writhing hands! O wasted hands!
Flung out with frenzied gesture,
As if they fain would touch the hem
Of Christ’s fair flowing vesture.
Bitter the dole of that sinning soul,
Outcast of Earth and Heaven;
And her cry went up like a wail from Hell,
Across the night‐wind driven.
The Fountain In The Forest.From Lamartine
Lonely stream of rushing water,
From the rock that gave thee birth,
Hast thou fallen, O Naiad's daughter!
Mingling with the common earth?
Shall Carrara's snowy marble
Never more thy waves inurn;
That with wild and plaintive warble,
By their broken temple mourn?
Nor thy dolphins lying shattered,
Fling their columns up again,
That in radiant glory scattered,
Fell to the earth a jewelled rain
Must the bending beeches only,
Veil thy desolate decay,
Spreading solemnly and lonely
O'er thy waters, dark as they?
Pallid Autumn‐leaves are lying
On thy hollow marble tomb,
And the willows round it sighing,
Wave their bannerets of gloom.
Still thou flowest ever, ever
Like a loving heart that gives
Smiles and blessings, though it never
Meeteth smile from one who lives.
Roughest rocks to polished beauty
Changing as thou flowest on;
Such the Poet's heaven‐taught duty,
Mid the stony‐hearted throng!
Thus thy voice to me hath spoken,
Falling, falling from on high,
As a chord in music, broken
By a gently‐murmured sigh.
Ah! what sad yet glorious vision
Of my youth thy scenes unroll,
When I felt the Poet's mission
Kindling first within my soul;
When the passion and the glory
Of the far‐off future years,
Shone in radiant light before me,
Through the present dimm'd by tears.
Can thy stream recall the shadow
Of the spirit‐haunted boy,
Who in sunlight, through the meadow,
Roamed in deep and wondrous woundrous joy?
Yet bright memory still reaches,
All athwart thy glistening beams,
Where, beneath the shading beeches,
Lay the sunny child of dreams;
Weaving fancies bright as morning,
With its purple and its gold;
Strong to trample down earth's scorning
With the faith of men of old.
Ready life itself to render
At the shrine to which he bowed,
Knowing not the transient splendour
Gilded but the tempest‐cloud.
On my heart was still'd the laughter,
Cold the clay around the dead,
When I came in years long after
Here to rest my weary head.
Waked the sad tears fast and warm,
Once again the ancient place,
Till, like droppings of the storm,
They fell heavy on thy face.
Human voice was none to hear me
In that silence of the tomb;
But thy waters, sobbing near me,
Seemed responsive to the gloom;
And I flung my thoughts all idly
On thy current in a dream,
Like the pale leaves scattered widely
On thy autumn‐drifted stream.
Yet 'twas in that mournful hour
Rose the spirit's mighty words;
Never soul could know its power
Until sorrow swept the chords
Blended with each solemn feature
Of the lonely scenes I trod,
For the sacred love of Nature
Is the Poet's hymn to God.
Did He hear the words imploring
Of a strong heard tempest‐riven?
Did the tears of sorrow pouring
Rise like incense up to Heaven?
Ah! the heart that mutely prayeth
From the ashes of the past,
Finds the strength that ever stayeth,
Of the Holy, round it cast!
But the leaf in winter fadeth,
And the cygnet drops her plumes:
Time in passing ever shadeth
Human life in deeper glooms;
So, perchance, with white hair streaming,
In my age to thee I'll turn
Muse on life, with softened dreaming,
By thy broken marble urn.
While thy murmuring waters falling
dropp by dropp upon the plain,
Seem like spirit‐voices calling
Spirit‐voices not in vain;
For life's fleeting course they teach me,
With life's endless source on high,
Past and future thus may reach me,
While I learn from thee to die.
O stream! hath thy lonely torrent
Many ages yet to run?
O life! will thy mournful current
See many a setting sun?
I know not; but both are passing
From the sunlight into gloom
Yet the light we left will meet us
Once again beyond the tomb!
Oremus! Oremus! Look down on us, Father!
Like visions of Patmos Thy last judgments gather
The angels of doom, in bright, terrible beauty,
Rise up from their thrones to fulfil their stern duty.
Woe to us, woe! the thunders have spoken,
The first of the mystical seals hath been broken.
Through the cleft thunder‐cloud the weird wierd coursers are rushing
Their hoofs will strike deep in the hearts they are crushing;
And the crown'd and the proud of the old kingly races
Fall down at the vision, like stars from their places:
Oremus! Oremus! The pale earth is heark'ning;
Already the spirit‐steeds round us are dark'ning.
With crown and with bow, on his white steed immortal,
The Angel of Wrath passes first through the portal;
But faces grow paler, and hush'd is earth's laughter,
When on his pale steed comes the Plague Spirit after.
Oremus! Oremus! His poison‐breath slayeth;
The red will soon fade from each bright lip that prayeth.
Now, with nostrils dilated and thunder hoofs crashing,
On rushes the war‐steed, his lurid eyes flashing;
There is blood on the track where his long mane is streaming,
There is death where the sword of his rider is gleaming.
Woe to the lands where that red steed is flying!
There tyrants are warring, and heroes are dying.
Oh! the golden‐hair'd children reck nought but their playing,
Thro' the rich fields of corn with their young mothers straying;
And the strong‐hearted men, with their muscles of iron,
What reck they of ills that their pathway environ?
There's a tramp like a knell—a cold shadow gloometh
Woe! 'tis the black steed of Famine that cometh
At the breath of its rider the green earth is blasted,
And childhood's frail form droops down pallid, and wasted;
The soft sunny hair falleth dank on the arm
Of the mother, whose love shields no longer from harm:
For strength is scarce left her to weep o'er the dying,
Ere dead by the loved one the mother is lying.
But can we only weep, when above us thus lour
The death‐bearing wings of the angels of power;
When around are the arrows of pestilence flying
Around, the pale heaps of the famine‐struck lying
—No, brother of sorrow, when life's light is weakest,
Look up, it is nigh the redemption thou seekest.
Still WORK, though the tramp of the weird spirit‐horses,
Fall dull on the ear, like the clay upon corses;
Still Freedom must send forth her young heroes glowing,
Though her standard be red with their life‐current flowing;
Still the preacher must cast forth the seed, as God's sower,
Though he perish like grass at the scythe of the mower.
Still do the Lord's work through life's tragical drama,
Though weeping goes upward like weeping at Rama;
The path may be thorny, but Spirit eyes see us;
The cross may be heavy, but Death will soon free us:
Still, strong in Christ's power we'll chant the Hosanna,
Fling down Christ's defiance—Υπαγε Σατανα!
I see in a vision the shadowy portal,
That leadeth to regions of glory immortal;
I see the pale forms from the seven wounds bleeding,
Which up to God's Throne the bright angels are leading;
I see the crown placed on each saint bending lowly,
While sounds the Trisagion—Holy, thrice Holy!
I have Paradise dreams of a band with palm‐branches,
Whose wavings give back their gold harps' resonances,
And a jewelled‐walled city, where walketh in splendour
Each one who his life for God's truth did surrender.
Who would weep their death‐doom, if such bliss we inherit,
When the veil of the human falls off from the spirit?
The Christian may shrink from the last scenes of trial,
And the woes yet unknown of each mystical vial;
But the hosts of Jehovah will gather beside him,
The rainbow‐crowned angel stoop downward to guide him;
And to him, who as hero and martyr hath striven,
Will the Crown, and the Throne, and the Palm‐branch be given.
The Prisoners. Christmas, 1869.
Has not vengeance been sated at last?
Will the holy and beautiful chimes
Ring out the old wrongs of the past,
Ring in the new glories and times?
Will the eyes of the pale prisoners rest
Once again on their loved mountain scenes,
When the crimson of East or of West
Falls o’er them as mantles on Queens?
Will they muse once again by the sea,
List the thunder of waves on the strand,
As exultant, as fearless and free
As the foam‐flakes that dash on the land?
Will they lift their wan faces to God
In the radiant, bright, infinite air,
Press their lips to the old native sod
In a rapture of praise and of prayer?
Ah, the years of their young lives pass over,
Still wept out in dungeons alone,
Where the lips of a wife, child, or mother
Were never yet pressed to their own;
Years of torture and sorrow and trials,
In the gloom of the desolate cell,
Where the wrath of the sevenfold vials
Seem poured to turn Earth to a Hell;
Where strong brains are seared into madness,
And burning hearts frozen to stone,
And despair surges over life’s gladness,
And young life goes out with a moan.
Go, kneel as at graves, weeping woman
When the last fatal sentence was said,
All ties that are tender and human
Were rent as from those that are dead.
They were young then, in youth’s glorious fashion
With a pulse‐throb of fire in each vein,
And the glow and the splendours of passion
Flashing up from the heart to the brain.
Sharp as falchions their keen words reproving
Great words moved by no coward breath
And no crime on their souls save of loving
Their Country with love strong as death.
Oh, their hearts, how they leaped to the surface,
As a sword from the scabbard unsheathed,
Their pale faces stern with a purpose,
Their brows with Fate’s cypress enwreathed.
Grave, earnest, the judgment unheeding,
Or the wreck of their lives lying prone,
From these doomed lips the strong spirits’ pleading
Soared up from man’s bar to God’s Throne.
“We but taught men,” they said, “from the pages
Graven deep in our history and soil,
From the Litanies poured through the ages
Of sorrow, and torture, and toil;
By the insults, the mockings, the scornings,
The bondage on body and soul;
By the ruin, the slaughters, the burnings,
When death was the patriot’s goal;
By the falsehood enthroned in high places,
By the feeble hearts cowering within,
By the slave‐brand read plain on their faces,
Though the ermine might cover the sin.
We were broken and sundered and shattered,
Made thrall by the tyrant’s strong arm,
To the wild waves and fierce winds were scattered
As dead leaves swept on by the storm.
For each age gave a traitor or tyrant
To build up the wrongs that we see,
But each age, too, gives heroes aspirant
Of the Fame or the death of the Free!”
Oh, Chimes ringing out in our city,
Oh, Angels that walk to and fro,
Oh, Christ‐words of pardon and pity,
Can ye speak to those souls lying low
In a sorrow no festal chime scatters,
In a night where no Angel appears,
The wasted limbs heavy with fetters,
The weary heart heavy with tears;
With the ghost of dead youth crushing on them,
And the gloom of the years yet to be,
With a blackness of darkness upon them
As of night when it falls on the sea?
When the Christmas bells ring out at even
The song of the Angels’ bright spheres,
Their sad eyes will strain up to Heaven,
Their bread will be bitter with tears.
Through our laughter will come that sad vision,
Through the ivy‐wreathed wine‐cup’s red glow,
Through our wassail the wail from their prison,
Lamentation and mourning and woe.
With sorrow wrapped round like a garment,
With ashes for joy as their crown,
With bonds tight’ning close as a cerement
They wait till God’s morning comes down;
Yet no echo from their lips will falter
Of the solemn, sweet carol or song,
But a cry, as of souls ’neath the Altar,
“How long! oh, our Lord God, how long?”
The Fall Of The Tyrants
Ho! Spaniards! rise for Liberty—your country on ye calls,
To fight to‐day, in proud array, before Granáda’s walls;
A proud array is here to‐day, full fifty thousand strong,
Of Fantassins and Cavaliers Gonzalo leads along.
From Leon to Granáda—from Corunna to Sevílle,
Gather, Spaniards, gather, by the banks of the Xenil!
Eight hundred years of blood and tears beneath a foreign sway
Eight hundred years of blood and tears must be avenged to‐day.
Think of your ancient glory, Oh ye lions of León!
And how in ancient story your great lion name was won;
Think of Zamora’s conquest field, and royal Douro’s flood
How ye bridged with Moslem corses, and swam it in their blood.
And, mountaineers, have ye no tears to be avenged to‐day
Asturians, and Gallicians, and wild dwellers by Vizcày?
Ye, the unconquered remnant of the brave old Celtic race
For ne’er could Roman, Goth, or Moor, your nationhood efface.
Ye, too, proud Gothic nobles! by your memories as men,
Will never fail, or shrink, or quail to meet the Saracen;
Ye, ’fore whose conquering arm were the bravest forced to yield,
Who smote the Suevi in their tent—the Romans in the field.
Now, now, oh, shame and misery! a stranger rules your lands!
A stranger’s spoil is your native soil—a stranger’s voice commands;
Ye, princes once and chieftains, ere the false foe crossed the flood,
Now, drawers of their water and base hewers of their wood!
And, Adalusian Brothers, of the old Vandalic race,
Will ye alone ’midst Spaniards, be proud of your disgrace?
They flatter, fawn, but hate you, these proud foes to whom you’ve sold
Your Liberty for mocking smiles—your country for their gold.
They own your stately palaces, they desecrate your shrines,
They trample on your vineyards, yet ye stoop to drink their wines;
Ye wear their silk, their gold, their gems, and to their feasts ye run;
Now shame for ye, my brothers, is it thus that Freedom’s won?
Back to your wild sierras, better die there in your homes
Than cringingly bow low beneath your masters’ haughty domes;
Their Syrian silks, their Indian Indiam gems, go—fling them to the Sea,
But keep their Syrian steel, for it will help to set us free.
Oh! by your ancient memories, rise Prince, and Peer, and Chief
Smite down the foe that wrought our woe at Gebel el Taríf.
The robber horde awaits your sword—draw, Spaniards! for your land!
The crown ye lost by Roderic, regain it by Fernand!
No coward fears—eight hundred years ye’ve lived as slaves, not men;
But swords makes bright each chartered right—ye’ll have your own again.
Brave hearts and leal of proud Castile—Revenge, on Mauritania!
Rend earth and sky with your gathering cry: Charge! Cierra Espana!
As tempests sweep the surging deep, thus on the Moorish ranks
Dashes the Spanish chivalry; they charge on van and flanks.
From Calpe’s rock the thunder‐shock re‐echoes o’er the main
Now, God and Santiago, for our Liberty and Spain!
Little they think of mercy, these slaves of eight hundred years;
Never they spare a foeman, these bold true Iberian spears.
Crescènted hosts your taunting boasts this day find answer meet,
For the light of Heaven is darkened by the dust of your flying feet.
Granàda falls! From the Castle walls tear down the Alien’s rag
On turret and Alcàzar, comrades, up with our ancient flag!
It floats from the proud Alhambra! Thank God, we’ve lived to see
Our ancient standard waving once again above the Free!
Pass out, ye weeping people; aye, weep—for never more
Shall ye gather in Granàda by the sound of Atambór;
For, by the rood, ye Moslem brood, we swore it in Castile,
Never again should Spain be ruled by foreign Alquazil.
O Moorish King! by suffering thou has earned a name to‐day—*
But we give thee life, Abdallah; pass onwards on thy way.
Accursed race, the foul disgrace thy rule hath brought on Spain,
Is cleansed away in blood to‐day—we drive thee ’cross the main.
By Elvira’s gate he goeth, all solemnly and slow
One last look at Granàda, ere they pass that gate of woe.
“Oh, better far thy scimitar had laid thee with the dead,
Than weep for what thou could’st not keep”—the proud
Allah, Allah Hu Akbar! what sorrow like my sorrows?
Thus he goeth weeping by the way of Alpujarras;
Allah, Allah Hu Akbar! on his tomb is written down
The King who lost a Kingdom when great Spain regained her Crown.
Cassandra. From Schiller
Joy in Ilion's hall resoundeth,
Ere the mighty city fell;
Festive hymns of triumph sounded
With the gold harp's richest swell.
Each stern warrior rests at last
From that strife of direst slaughter;
For the brave Pelides weds
Royal Priam's loveliest daughter.
Troop on troop, with laurel garlands,
Slowly swept the bridal train
Onward to the sacred temple
Where arose the Thymbrian's fane.
By them ran, with long hair streaming,
One alone, of sorrow dreaming,
Wandered in her wretchedness.
Joyless, while they chant their praises
None to soothe her, none to love
Did Cassandra tread the mazes
Of Apollo's laurel grove;
To the wild wood's deepest shadow
Fled the mystic maiden now,
And she dashed the priestess‐fillet
Wildly from her throbbing brow.
"Everywhere are sounds of gladness,
From each happy heart awoke;
I alone must rove in sadness,
I alone must grief invoke.
Joy illumes my father's features,
Garlanded my sisters stand
Yet I hear the rushing pinions
Of Destruction o'er our land.
"Wildly high a torch is flashing,
But 'tis not from Hymen's hand;
Upward see the red stream dashing,
But 'tis not an altar brand.
Costly viands, festal dances,
Wait the bridegroom and the bride
Yet the Avenger's step advances,
Who will crush them in their pride.
"And they mock my prophet wailing,
And they scorn my words of woe;
Fatal gift and unavailing
Still I've wandered to and fro,
Shunn'd by all the happy round me,
Scorned by all where'er I trod;
Heavily thou hast foredoomed me,
Oh! thou mighty Pythian God!
"Why on me was laid the mission:
Lift the future's mystic shroud?
Why to me the seer's vision
'Mid a spirit‐darkened crowd?
When the mortal arm is weak,
Wherefore give the prophet's power?
Can it turn the stream, or break
Clouds of woe that darkly lower?
"Wherefore lift the pall o'ershading
Dark and dread Futurity?
Ignorance is joy unfading
Knowledge, death and misery.
Oh! recall thy mournful mission
Take the future from my sight:
Fatal is the prophet's vision
To the form that shrines its light.
"Give me back the happy blindness,
Ere my childhood felt thy spell;
Never sang I in joy's wildness
Since I heard thy oracle.
Clear the future lies before me,
But the present veiled away;
Oh! to life and joy restore me
Take thy cruel gift away!
"Never round my perfumed tresses
May the bridal wreath entwine;
'Mid thy temple's drear recesses
Doomed in loneliness to pine.
Never o'er my youth of weeping
Did one happy moment rise
Never aught but sorrow reaping
From thy fatal mysteries.
"See my gay companions round me,
Blessed with all that love can give;
I alone, my youth consuming,
Live to weep, and weep to live.
Vain to me the sun, the skies,
The flowers on the green earth bending;
Who the joys of life would prize
That could know their bitter ending?
"Thou, Polyxena, art happy
In thy love's first deep excess,
Hellas gives her bravest hero
To thy young heart's fond caress.
Proudly is her bosom heaving,
Conscious of her bridegroom's love,
Whilst her dreams of pleasure weaving,
Envies not the Gods above.
"And I, too, have trembled gazing
Upon one my heart adored
In his deep eyes' soft appraising
Reading love's unspoken word.
Bridal vows I'd fain have uttered,
Oh, to him how willingly!
But there stepped a Stygian spectre
Nightly between him and me.
"Pale and hideous phantoms haunt me,
From the realms of Proserpine;
Ghastly shades of gloom confront me,
Everywhere my steps incline;
Even in festive scenes of pleasure,
Stifling bright youth's careless glee
Oh! that I could know the treasure
Of a young heart's gaiety!
"Ha! the murderer's steel is beaming!
The murderer's eye glares wildly bright!
Whither shall I fly the gleaming
Of the Future's lurid light?
All in vain I turn my glances
Still the vision's ghastly hand
Points my doom as it advances:
Death within the stranger's land."
Does the phophet‐maiden falter?
Hark! those wild disordered cries!
Slain before the sacred altar,
Dead the son of Thetis lies.
Eris shakes her wreathed serpents
All the Gods their temples shun
And a thunder‐cloud is resting
Heavily on Ilion!
Shall we tread the dust of ages,
Musing, dreamlike, on the past,
Seeking on the broad earth’s pages
For the shadows Time hath cast;
Waking up some ancient story,
From each prostrate shrine or hall,
Old traditions of a glory
Earth may never more recall?
Poets thoughts of sadness breathing,
For the temples overthrown;
Where no incense now is wreathing,
And the gods are turned to stone.
Wandering by the graves of heroes,
Shrouded deep in classic gloom,
Or the tombs where Egypt’s Pharaohs
Wait the trumpet and the doom.
By the city, desert‐hidden,*
Which Judea’s mighty king
Made the Genii, at his bidding,
Raise by magic of his ring;
By the Lake Asphaltian wander,
While the crimson sunset glow
Flings its radiance, as we ponder
On the buried towns below.
By the Cromleach, sloping downward,
Where the Druid’s victim bled;
By those Towers, pointing sunward,
Hieroglyphics none have read:
In their mystic symbols seeking,
Of past creeds and rites o’erthrown,
If the truths they shrined are speaking
Yet in Litanies of Stone.
By the Temple of the Muses,
Where the climbers of the mount
Learned the soul’s diviner uses
From the Heliconian fount.
By the banks of dark Illyssus,
Where the Parcæ walked of old,
In their crowns of white narcissus,
And their garments starred with gold.
By the tomb of queenly Isis,
Where her fallen prophets wail,
Yet no hand has dared the crisis
Of the lifting of the vail.
By the altar which the Grecian
Raised to God without a name;
By the stately shrine Ephesian,
Erostratus burned for fame.
By the Libyan shrine of Ammon,
Where the sands are trod with care,
Lest we, bending to examine,
Start the lion from his lair.
Shall we tread the halls Assyrian,
Where the Arab tents are set;
Trace the glory of the Tyrian,
Where the fisher spreads speads his net?
Shall we seek the “Mene, mene,”
Wrote by God upon the wall,
While the proud son of Mandane
Strode across the fated hall?
Shall we mourn the Loxian’s lyre,
Or the Pythian priestess mute?
Shall we seek the Delphic fire,
Though we’ve lost Apollo’s lute?
Ah! the world has sadder ruins
Than these wrecks of things sublime;
For the touch of man’s misdoings
Leaves more blighted tracks than Time.
Ancient lore gives no examples
Of the ruins here we find—
Prostrate souls for fallen temples,
Mighty ruins of the mind.
We had hopes that rose as proudly
As each sculptured marble shrine;
And our prophets spake as loudly
As their oracles divine.
Grand resolves of giant daring,
Such as Titans breathed of old;
Brilliant aims their front uprearing,
Like a temple roofed with gold.
Souls of fire, like columns pointing,
Flamelike, upward to the skies;
Glorious brows, which God’s anointing
Stainless hearts, like temples olden,
None but priest hath ever trod;
Hands as pure as were the golden
Staves which bore the ark of God.
Oh! they built up radiant visions,
Like an iris after rain;
How all Paradise traditions
Might be made to live again.
Of Humanity’s sad story,
How their hand should turn the page,
And the ancient primal glory,
Fling upon this latter age.
How with Godlike aspirations,
Up the souls of men would climb,
Till the fallen, enslavéd nations
Trod in rhythmic march sublime;
Reaching heights the people knew not,
Till their Prophet Leaders led—
Bathed in light that mortals view not,
While the spirit life lies dead.
How the pallid sons of labour,
They should toil, and toil to raise,
Till a glory, like to Tabor,
Once again should meet earth’s gaze.
How the poor, no longer keeping
Count of life alone by groans,
With the strong cry of their weeping,
Start the angels on their thrones.
Ah! that vision’s bright ideal,
Must it fade and perish thus?
Must its fall alone be real?
Are its ruins trod by us?
Ah! they dreamed an Eldorado,
Given not to mortal sight;
Yet the souls that walk in shadow,
Still bend forward to its light.
Earnest dreamers, sooth we blame not
If ye failed to reach the goal—
If the glorious Real came not
At the strong prayer of each soul.
By the path ye’ve trod to duty,
Blessings yet to man may flow,
Though the proud and stately beauty
Of your structure lieth low.
Low as that which Salem mourneth,
On Moriah’s holy hill;
While the heathen proudly scorneth,
Yet the wrecks are glorious still:
Like the seven columns frowning,
On the desert city down;
Or the seven cedars crowning
Poet wanderer, hast thou bent thee
O’er such ruins of the soul?
Pray to God that some Nepenthe
May efface that hour of dole.
We may lift the shrine and column,
From the dust which Time hath cast;
Choral chants may mingle solemn,
Once again where silence passed;
But the stately, radiant palace,
We had built up in our dreams,
With Hope’s rainbow‐woven trellis,
And Truth’s glorious sunrise beams;
Our aims of towering stature,
Our aspirations vain,
And our prostrate human nature
Who will raise them up again?
The Parable Of Life
He treads alone the burning sand
Of the fiery desert plain;
No human heart is near to love,
No human hands sustain.
There are spirits dread in that region wild,
And they howl in the desert blast;
There are spirits lost, who wail and weep
As viewless they hurry past.
There are forms that man never looked upon,
Nor mortal eye could bear—
The terrible sight of an angel’s brow,
On which is stamped despair.
No lofty palm‐tree casts a shade,
Gusheth no silvery well,
Where the stately Giraffe stoops down to drink,
Or cometh the soft Gazelle.
For the desert islands of waving green
Are far, oh! far away;
And never a spot can the wanderer find
To rest from the noontide ray.
Oh! weary, weary, the changeless, waste,
Of that burning desert sand;
Oh! weary, weary, the changeless changless sky,
Of that blasted fiery land!
Weary to listen, with straining sense,
For the step or the voice of man;
To watch in despair, till the sun goes down,
For the wandering caravan.
But the sun goes down, and the white stars rise,
And never a sound is heard,
Save the roar of the Lion, the Panther’s howl,
Or the scream of the carrion bird.
Still on the pale young wanderer goes
On, without fear or dread,
The hot sand burning beneath his feet,
The hot sun above his head:
On, tho’ never his fevered lips
Have been cooled in the desert springs;
For the soul that is filled with the Spirit of God,
Recks little of earthly things.
On, tho’ never the bending fruit
Of the palm‐tree meets his hand;
No food, no rest, no shelter for him
In all that terrible land.
And the powers of Hell seem gathering round
That frail and gentle form,
But, sublime in the strength of faith, he stands
Unmoved, amid the storm.
The spirit is strong, but the flesh is weak,
He hath borne what a mortal can;
And down on the desolate waste he sinks,
A fainting, dying man.
Now the hot samiri approaches fast,
The desert wind of dread;
Glaring upon the horizon’s verge,
Like a pillar fiery red.
Onward it comes in its lurid light,
Like a giant form of death,
Blasting the earth, and air, and sky,
With its scorching, deadly breath.
The sands rise high as the billows at sea,
Raging when tempest‐tossed:
Ah! the fiery column has reached him now
Pale wanderer—thou art lost!
It drinks the blood from his youthful cheek,
It burns up the life within;
And fiercely around him it dashes and whirls,
With a wild, unearthly din.
Then he seems to hear a silvery flow,
Soft gushing, like Paradise streams;
For of such whom the desert kills, it is said,
These are the dying dreams.
And he lifts his head from the burning waste;
But in place of the silvery fall,
He sees but that lurid, fiery cloud
Encircling him as a pall.
Nearer and nearer it gathers round,
Stifling the half‐breathed prayer,
And the fainting hands dropp weary down,
That were lifted in mute despair.
There’s an hour of dread for human souls,
When help there seemeth none,
And the powers of Hell rage fierce around
The God‐forsaken one;
’Tis the hour of dread, when souls are tired,
And angels are bending down,
Watching each one that resisteth to death,
To weave for him the crown.
But an hour more dark, a trial more dread,
That Weary‐one hath known;
For now he must fight the Lord of Hell,
In the desolate waste alone.
Oh! the burning breath of the fiery wind,
Hunger, and thirst, and woe—
What are they all to that strange, lone strife
With man’s dark Demon‐foe?
What terrible form the Tempter chose.
Saw never a mortal eye
Did he come in the flame, or the thunder‐cloud,
Or flash as the lightning by?
Was his blasted brow as the midnight black,
Or wreathed with a lurid light,
Like the livid rays that play on the ice
In the gloom of a polar night?
None can tell; but the subtle words
He poured in the wanderer’s ears,
Are echoed to us from that desert wild,
Through the long, long course of years.
And ages many have shadowed the earth
Since human woes began,
Yet still, with the self‐same words and lures,
He tempteth the sons of man.
Woe, woe to the suffering soul, unless
Sustained, O God, by Thee,
Who hears in its anguish the Tempter’s words
“Fall down, and worship me.”
Woe to the soul that ascends the mount
Of pomp, and power, and pride,
With the glories of earth within his reach,
And the Demon at his side.
But Christ, with His meek and holy brow,
Shuns not the deadly strife;
For His soul is strong in the armour of faith,
And His sword is the Word of Life.
The soul is strong, tho’ the human frame
May faint ’neath the chastening rod;
And the Demon‐foe recognises there
The mortal and the God.
With the radiant light of a stainless soul,
As a crown upon His brow,
How He forces the trembling Chief of Hell
To bend in homage low.
Thus, with His foot on the serpent’s head,
He stands a triumphant king;
But the serpent fangs that have pierced His heel,
Sorrow and Death must bring.
How glorious now is that frail, weak form,
Strong in the spirit within,
Standing alone in the desert of life,
Conquering Hell and Sin.
And we must tread the desert too,
Where want and woe assail;
We must war, like Christ, with the Prince of Hell,
We—human, weak, and frail.
The Tempter will come in those moments of life,
When the soul is dark with fears,
And we sit by the empty urn of joy,
Filling it with our tears;
When those we love, as shadows pass,
And we tread life’s desert lone,
Without hope in heaven, or love upon earth,
Wearily ever on.
It is then he will lead us to doubt upon God,
Doubt in His love for us;
And the murmuring soul he will tempt to ask
“Why must I suffer thus?”
And pleasure and power will seem so near,
If we but kneel to him
O God, keep from us the Tempter far,
When faith is burning dim!
O Christ, who hast known the Tempter’s strength,
Bend from Thy throne of light;
Aid in the terrible strife with Hell,
Aid with Thy power and might.
Teach us to fight as Thou hast fought;
To conquer as Thou hast done;
That angels may bring from the starry skies
The plan for the conquering one.
For never yet was the Tempter foiled
By the might of Jehovah’s name,
But holy joys in the sufferer’s heart.
Like blessed angels came.
And the terrible strife, and the desert drear,
Will pass like earthly things;
But the soul that has conquered will rest in peace,
’Neath angels’ shadowing wings.
Full seven years have passed and flown
But years o’er Thekla lightly pass,
As rose leaves, falling one by one,
From roses on the summer grass.
“It is our bridal day,” she said;
“We’re bidden to a christ’ning feast
I’ll wear the robe I had when wed,
The robe I love of all the best.
“I’ll wear my crown of jewels rare:
On brow and bosom let them shine;
Yet diamonds in my golden hair
Were dull beside these eyes of mine!”
She laughed aloud before the glass.
“Some women’s hair would turn to grey
With cares, ere half the years did pass
I’ve numbered since my wedding day.
“But they were mothers—fools, I trow.
Life’s current all too quickly runs;
I would not give my beauty now
For all their goodly race of sons.”
She sprang upon her palfrey white,
While Erick held the broidered broiderd rein,
And showered down her veil of light
Upon the flowing, silky mane.
The guests rose up in wonderment
Such beauty never had been seen
And bowed before her as she went,
As if she were a crownéd queen.
The knights pressed round with words of praise,
And murmured homage in her ear,
And swore to serve her all their days,
E’en die for her—would she but hear.
But vainly, all in vain they sought
One answering smile of love to win.
Upon her soul there lieth nought
Save that one only, deadly sin.
“I pray you now I fain would have
So fair an angel hold my child,”
The mother said; and smiling smilling , gave
To Thekla’s arms her infant mild.
Advancing slow, with stately air,
Beside the font she took her place,
The infant, like a rosebud fair,
Nestling amid her bosom’s lace.
She lays it on the bishop’s arm,
The while he makes the blessed sign,
And sains it safe from ghostly harm
By Father, Spirit, Son Divine.
Then reaches out her hands again
To take it—but with moaning sound,
Like one distraught with sudden pain,
Falls pale and fainting to the ground.
“She has no children,” Erick said,
As pleading for the strange mischance;
“This only grief since we were wed
Has saddened sore her life, perchance.”
“She has no children!” murmured low
The happy mothers, gathered near;
“No child to love her—bitter woe;
No child to kiss her on her bier!”
But graver matrons shook the head:
“That witchlike beauty bodes no good;
Witch hands can never hold, ’tis said,
A child just blessed by holy rood.”
They raised her up; she spake no word,
But slowly drooped her tearful eyes;
The rushing wave was all she heard,
The whirling wheels, the infants’ cries.
And Erick said, with bitter smile:
“You play the mother all too ill;
Madonnas do not suit your style.”
Her thoughts were by the lonely mill.
They set her on her palfrey white;
She heeds not all their taunting sneers,
But showers down her veil of light,
To hide the conscious, guilty tears.
They rode through all his vast estate,
But rode in silence—he behind,
Sore pondering on his childless fate,
With ruffled brow and moody mind.
They rode through shadowy forest glades,
By meadows filled with lowing kine,
By streams that ran like silver threads
Down from the dark‐fringed hills of pine.
“Alas!” he thought, “no child of mine
When I am dead shall take my place;
Must all the wealth of all my line
Pass to a hated kinsman’s race?
“Now, by my sword, I’d give up all,
Wealth, fame, and glory, all I’ve won,
So that within my father’s hall
Beside me stood a noble son!”
He saw her white veil floating back
Along the twilight gray and still,
Like ghostly shadows on her track
Her thoughts were by the lonely mill.
And now they neared the ancient church,
The ancient church where they were wed!
The moonlight full upon the porch
Shone bright, and Erick raised his head.
O Heaven! There upon the lawn
The palfrey’s shadow stands out clear,
But Thekla’s shadow—it is gone!
Nor form nor floating veil is there.
He spurred his steed with bitter cry:
“Could she have fallen in deathly swoon?”
But no, there, slowly riding by,
He sees her by the bright full moon.
With gesture fierce he seized her rein:
“ Woman or fiend! Look, if you dare,
The palfrey casts a shadow plain,
But yours—O horror!—is not there!”
She gathered close her silken veil,
And wrung her hands, and prayed for grace,
While down from Heaven the calm moon pale
Looked like God’s own accusing face.
He flung aside the broidered rein:
“O woe the day that we were wed!
A witch bride to my arms I’ve ta’en,
Branded by God’s own finger dread.”
She followed, weeping, step by step,
Led by the unseen hand of Fate,
Still keeping in the shadows deep,
Until they reached the castle gate.
He strode across the corridor,
And rolling back upon its ring
The curtain curtan of her chamber door,
He motioned her to enter in.
She laid aside her silken veil,
The golden circlet from her head,
And waited, motionless and pale,
Like one uprisen from the dead.
Could she deny, e’en if she would?
The moonlight wrapped her like a sheet.
And in the accusing light she stood,
As if before God’s judgment‐seat.
Brief were his questions, stern his wrath;
A doom seemed laid on her to tell,
How, with the ring of plighted troth,
Her hand had wrought the murd’rous spell.
How she had marred his ancient line,
And broke the life‐chord that should bless,
And sent the seven fair souls to pine
Back to the shades of nothingness
That so her beauty might not wane,
Her glorious beauty—fatal good;
Yet one she would not lose to gain
The rights of sacred motherhood.
And still she told the tale as cold
The witch‐fire burning in her eyes
As if it were some legend old,
Drawn from a poet’s memories.
He cursed her in his bitter wrath,
He cursed her by her children dead,
He cursed the ring of plighted troth,
He cursed the day when they were wed.
Fierce and more fierce his accents rose:
“Away!” he cried, “false hag of sin:
I see through all this painted gloze
The black and hideous soul within.
“Oh! false and foul, thou art to me
A devil—not a woman fair!
Like coiling snakes I seem to see
Each twisted tress of golden hair.
“I hate thee, as I hate God’s foe.
Forth from my castle halls this night:
I could not breathe the air, if so
Thy poison breath were here to blight.”
She cowered, shivered, spake no word,
But fell before him at his feet,
As if an angel of the Lord
Had smote her at the judgment‐seat.
And on her heart there came at last
The dread, deep consciousness of sin,
That ghastly spectre which had cast
Upon her life this suffering.
And from her hand the gold ring fell
Her wedding ring—and broke in twain;
The fatal ring that wrought the spell,
The accursed ring of love and pain.
The spell seemed broken then: the word
Came, softly breath’d: “Oh, pardon! grace!”
And pleadingly to her dread lord
She lifted up her angel face
With golden tresses all unbound,
Still lovely through her shame and loss,
Around his feet her arms she wound,
As sinner might around the cross.
He dashed her twining hands aside,
He spurned her from him as she knelt.
“O hateful beauty!” Erick cried,
“The source of all thy hellish guilt.
“Pray for a cloud that can eclipse
That long, white streak of moonlight pale.
No word of grace from mortal lips
Can bring a ruined soul from Hell.
“Away! I would not pardon, not
(I swear it by the holy rood)
Unless upon that hated spot
An angel with a lily stood!”
She shuddered in the moonlight pale,
That doomed and banned her from his sight,
Then rose up with a bitter wail,
And fled away into the night!
Shadows From Life
Vain the love that looketh upward; we may worship, may adore;
From the heart's o'erflowing chalice all the tide of feeling pour;
Dash our souls against the barriers that divide us from the shrine;
Fling the incense; pour libations—aye, of life's own ruddy wine;
But, the angel we gaze up to, calm as form of pictured saint,
From its golden mist of glory bendeth never to our plaint plant;
Heedeth not if crushed the temple where the altar fires burned,
For the doom runs through the ages—Love was never yet returned.
Thus it was he loved a lady: never priest in Ispahàn
So adored when mount and ocean morning's flashing glories span.
Never sun‐god in its glory, marching stately from the east,
Crimson‐robed and cloud‐attended, heeded less the praying priest,
Than the lady that pale lover, while her lonely path she took
O'er the spirit's glittering summits, with her proud and queenly look;
Like that Roman Sybil bearing in her hands the mystic scroll,
And her large eyes looking onward where the future ages roll.
So, in lone and lofty beauty, she stood high above the world,
Never heeding, dashing neathward, how life's stormy billows curled;
As a pine upon the mountain, warring tempests raging round,
As an island peak of ocean, with the starry midnight crowned.
How could she who trod the pathway of the spirit's starry zones
Stoop to listen, bending earthward, to a lover's murmuring tones? —
While her ear was gathering music from Creation's golden chords,
List the human tears low falling, with the pleading human words?
And could he, who tracked the eagle borne on through cloud and light,
With her glorious regnant beauty filling soul and sense and sight,
Stoop to gaze on me, half‐blasted by fierce Passion's fiery skies,
Only Love, the love of woman, burning strangely in my eyes?
Oh! I've watched his glance dilating, as it rested where afar
Rose her lofty brow, as riseth the pale glory of a star;
Heard the world's praise hymning round her, saw his cheek of flushing pride,
Whilst I, writhing in heart‐agony, all calmly sat beside.
No rays of genius crowning, such as brows like hers enrol,
With no flashing thoughts, like North‐lights, rushing up my darkened darkned soul;
Waking but his earnest feelings with, perchance, my graver words,
While her spirit, like a tempest, swept the range of Passion's chords.
Oh, Woman! calmest sufferer! what deep agony oft lies
In thy low, false‐hearted laughter, glancing bright through tearless eyes!
And how little deemed he truly that the calmest eyes he met
Were but Joy's funereal torches, on Life's ruined altar set.
How could I light up his nature, with no glory in my own?
Soul like his, that throbbed and glittered in the radiance of her throne.
Bitter came the words of plaining:—Why should fate to me deny
All the beauty of the mortal, all the soul to deify?
What had she done, then, for Heaven, so that Heaven should confer
Every gift, to make man prostrate at her feet as worshipper?
Raised her high enough to scorn him—aye, to trample in disdain
On the heart flung down before her—heart that I had died to gain!
Trod his love down calmly, queenly, like a mantle 'neath her feet,
While with lordly spirit‐monarchs she moved proudly to her seat,
Grand as eagle in the zenith, with the noonday radiance crowned
Lone and icy as an Alp‐peak, with the circling glaciers round.
But an echo of all beauty through her fine‐toned spirit rang,
As a golden harp re‐echoes to each passing music clang,
Till in thrilling, clear vibrations rang her poet‐words in air,
Summoning souls to lofty duties, as an Angelus to prayer.
Oh! she flung abroad her fancies, free as waves dash off the foam
As the palm‐tree flings its branches on the blue of Heaven's dome,
With a genius‐shadow dark'ning in the stillness of her eyes
With her rainbow‐spirit arching half the circle of the skies,
Like a dark‐browed Miriam chanting songs of triumph on the foe,
As the rushing waters bore them to the Hades halls below,
Till up through the startled ether, down the far horizon's rim,
Clashed the swords of men in music to her lofty prophet‐hymn.
But no beauty thrill'd my nature, noon, or night or sunset skies;
For the only heaven I gazed on was the heaven of his eyes—
I'd have bartered Freedom, Justice, People's rights, or native Land,
All the island homes of Ocean, for one pressure of his hand;
Trembling, weak, a coward spirit, only wishing low to lie,
As a flower beneath his footstep, breathe my life out, and so die.
Yet he liked me—aye, he liked me—'twas the phrase—O saints above!
Cold and cruel sounds this liking from the lips of one we love.
They said that he was dying; could I longer silence keeping,
Only pour forth my deep passion in my chamber lonely weeping?
I reck'd not if 'twere womanly, cold convention little heeding,
But in mine his hand enfolding, said, with tearful raised eyes pleading
"She hath left you, left you lonely—sorrow's harvest death may reap;
I say not—love me; let me only watch here by you and weep! "
Then he said, his pale brow raising, with a faint, unquiet smile,
And with saddest eyes upgazing upon mine for all the while
"Sweetest friend, this sorrow‐blighted, faded form, and searéd heart,
To pale death, I fear, are plighted, yet 'twere bitter now to part;
For the chords of life are shaken by a sympathy so true,
And they tremble, in vibration, with a pleasure strange and new.
Still, no love‐dream may be cherished—ah! the time of love is o'er
Youthful heart, by passion blighted, can be kindled never more;
But if sympathy thou darest with a heart so wrecked as mine,
I will give thee back the rarest kindred souls can inter twine."
And so bending coldly, gently, on my brow he placed his lips;
While, I trembling in the shadow of that faint and brief eclipse,
Murmur'd:—"Tell me, tell me truly, do you love her then so well? "
And the hot tears, all unruly, through my twinèd fingers fell,
And I sank down there unheeding so of maidenhood or wrong,
While I told him, weeping, pleading, how I'd loved him, loved him long;
Seen my hopes all faded, perished, spread around in pale dismay,
Wept their pallid corses over—I alone, like Niobe!
Thank God, that no cruel scorning dimm'd his starry eyes divine,
Softly, tender, earnest gazing down the tearful depths of mine—
But with warmest splendours resting on the paleness of his cheek,
As the roseate tinted sunset on a snowy Alpine peak,
Bent he down upon my shoulder, murmuring loverlike and low,
While his breathing softly trembled on my pale lips lying so:
"Ah! such deep and tender loving hath recall'd me from the grave
And this heart with soft approving bids you keep the life you gave;
"Woman's soothing grief to lighten hath a mystic healing power,
And their sympathy can brighten man's most dark and destined hour.
Let the holy words be spoken that bind soul to soul for life;
Let me place the symbol token on this hand—my wedded wife! "
Oh! never yet did an angel breathe diviner words of bliss,
Never mortal heard evangel of a joy like unto this;
In my gladness, smiling, weeping, knelt I down before him there,
Blessing God with wild words leaping from my full heart's inward prayer;
And a glory, ruddy, golden‐hued, streamed down on me from high,
As with lifted hands enfolden gazed I up into the sky
Ever brighter, flashing downward, till my pained eyes ached with light,
And I turned from gazing sunward back to earth's more calm delight.
But—was it spell, or was it charm? —when I turned me to the room,
Fading seem'd the loved one's form, half in light and half in gloom
Throbb'd my brain in wild confusion, slowly died his words in air,
All around me seemed illusion, save that streaming golden glare.
On my fevered eyelids aching, madly press'd my hands I keep
Then arose like one awaking from a strange and magic sleep;
Round I gazed in wild amazement for the glorious light that shone,
Was morn streaming through my casement, but it shone on me alone!
The last cold words he had written still lay there beside my bed;
The last flowers he had given lay beside them, faded, dead;
Life's lonely bitter desolation was true, for aye, I deem,
But, joy's blessed revelations, that—oh, that—was but a dream!