I laid me down beside the sea,
Endless in blue monotony;
The clouds were anchored in the sky.
Sometimes a sail went idling by.

Upon the shingles on the beach
Grey linen was spread out to bleach,
And gently with a gentle swell
The languid ripples rose and fell.

A fisher-boy, in level line,
Cast stone by stone into the brine:
Methought I too might do as he,
And cast my sorrows on the sea.

The old, old sorrows in a heap
Dropped heavily into the deep;
But with its sorrow on that day
My heart itself was cast away.

Why Will You Haunt Me

Why will you haunt me unawares,
And walk into my sleep,
Pacing its shadowy thoroughfares,
Where long-dried perfume scents the airs,
While ghosts of sorrow creep,
Where on Hope's ruined altar-stairs,
With ineffectual beams,
The Moon of Memory coldly glares
Upon the land of dreams?

My yearning eyes were fain to look
Upon your hidden face;
Their love, alas! you could not brook,
But in your own you mutely took
My hand, and for a space
You wrung it till I throbbed and shook,
And woke with wildest moan
And wet face channeled like a brook
With your tears or my own.

Why will you haunt me unawares,
And walk into my sleep,
Pacing its shadowy thoroughfares,
Where long-dried perfume scents the airs,

While ghosts of sorrow creep,
Where on Hope's ruined altar-stairs,
With ineffectual beams,
The Moon of Memory coldly glares

Upon the land of dreams?
My yearning eyes were fain to look
Upon your hidden face;
Their love, alas! you could not brook,

But in your own you mutely took
My hand, and for a space
You wrung it till I throbbed and shook,
And woke with wildest moan

And wet face channelled like a brook
With your tears or my own.

THOU camest with the coming Spring!
With swallows, and the murmuring
Of unloosed waters, with the birth
Of daisies dimpling the green earth.

And when the perfect rose of June
Responded to the golden noon,
My heart's deep core, suffused with bliss,
Broke into flower beneath thy kiss.

But now the swallows seaward fly,
The winds in chorus wail, 'Good-bye!'
The dead leaves whirl, and like a leaf
My heart shakes on the gusts of grief.

And yet awhile earth's flowerless breast
In lethal folds of snow will rest;
On thee too heart, with all thy woe,
Death falls one day like falling snow.

THOU camest with the coming Spring!
With swallows, and the murmuring
Of unloosed waters, with the birth
Of daisies dimpling the green earth.

And when the perfect rose of June
Responded to the golden noon,
My heart's deep core, suffused with bliss,
Broke into flower beneath thy kiss.

But now the swallows seaward fly,
The winds in chorus wail, 'Good-bye!'
The dead leaves whirl, and like a leaf
My heart shakes on the gusts of grief.

And yet awhile earth's flowerless breast
In lethal folds of snow will rest;
On thee too heart, with all thy woe,
Death falls one day like falling snow.

All veiled in black, with faces hid from sight,
Crouching together in the jolting cart,
What forms are these that pass alone, apart,
In abject apathy to life's delight?
The motley crowd, fantastically bright,
Shifts gorgeous through each dazzling street and mart;
Only these sisters of the suffering heart
Strike discords in this symphony of light.

Most wretched women! whom your prophet dooms
To take love's penalties without its prize!
Yes; you shall bear the unborn in your wombs,
And water dusty death with streaming eyes,
And, wailing, beat your breasts among the tombs;
But souls ye have none fit for Paradise.

As opiates to the sick on wakeful nights,
As light to flowers, as flowers in poor men's rooms,
As to the fisher when the tempest glooms
The cheerful twinkling of his village lights;
As emerald isles to flagging swallow flights,
As roses garlanding with tendrilled blooms
The unweeded hillocks of forgotten tombs,
As singing birds on cypress-shadowed heights,

Thou art to me--a comfort past compare--
For thy joy-kindling presence, sweet as May,
Sets all my nerves to music, makes away
With sorrow and the numbing frost of care,
Until the influence of thine eyes' bright sway
Has made life's glass go up from foul to fair.

Oh ye, all ye, who suffer here below,
Schooled in the baffling mystery of pain,
Who on life's anvil bear the fateful strain,
Wrong as forged iron, hammered blow on blow.
Take counsel with your grief, in that you know,
That he who suffers suffers not in vain,
Nay, that it shall be for the whole world's gain,
And wisdom prove the priceless price of woe.

Thus in some new-found land where no man's feet
Have trod a path, bold voyagers astray,
May fall foredone by torturing thirst and heat:
But from the impotent body of defeat--
The winners spring who carve a conquering way--
Measured by milestones of their perished clay.

Love-cradling Night, lit by the lucent moon,
Most pitiful and mother-hearted Night!
Blest armistice in life's tumultuous fight,
Resolving discords to a spheral tune!
When tired with heat and strenuous toil of noon,
With ceaseless conflict betwixt might and right,
With ebb and flow of sorrow and delight,
Our panting hearts beneath their burdens swoon:

To thee, O star-eyes comforter, we creep,
Earth's ill-used step-children to thee make moan,
As hiding in thy dark skirts' ample sweep;
--Poor debtors whose brief life is not their own;
For dunned by Death, to whom we owe its loan,
Give us, O Night, the interest paid in sleep.

THE young birds shy twitter
In hedges and bowers,
Fields brighten and glitter
With dewdrops and flowers.
Over flood, over fallow,
Impelled by old yearning,
The nest-building swallow
Exults at returning;
For dark days and hoary
Are routed and over,
Dark Winter is gone;
Resplendent in glory,
The earth meets her lover,
Her bridegroom the Sun.

Must I alone sorrow,
Despairingly languish,
Breaks never a morrow
On the night of my anguish?
The jubilant gladness
In bird, beam, and blossom,
But deepens the sadness
That weighs on my bosom.
Oh, Spring, in whose azure
Wake follow the starling,
The daisy, the dove;
Sweet spendthrift of pleasure,
Brings also my darling,
Oh bring me my love!

I charge you, O winds of the West, O winds with the wings of the dove,
That ye blow o'er the brows of my Love, breathing low that I sicken for love.

I charge you, O dews of the Dawn, O tears of the star of the morn,
That ye fall at the feet of my love with the sound of one weeping forlorn.

I charge you, O birds of the Air, O birds flying home to your nest,
That ye sing in his ears of the joy that for ever has fled from my breast.

I charge you, O flowers of the Earth, O frailest of things, and most fair,
That ye droop in his path as the life in me shrivels consumed by despair.

O Moon, when he lifts up his face, when he seeth the waning of thee,
A memory of her who lies wan on the limits of life let it be.

Many tears cannot quench, nor my sighs extinguish, the flames of love's fire,
Which lifteth my heart like a wave, and smites it, and breaks its desire.

I rise like one in a dream when I see the red sun flaring low,
That drags me back shuddering from sleep each morning to life with its woe.

I go like one in a dream, unbidden my feet know the way
To that garden where love stood in blossom with the red and white hawthorn of May.

The song of the throstle is hushed, and the fountain is dry to its core,
The moon cometh up as of old; she seeks, but she finds him no more.

The pale-faced, pitiful moon shines down on the grass where I weep,
My face to the earth, and my breast in an anguish ne'er soothed into sleep.

The moon returns, and the spring, birds warble, trees burst into leaf,
But Love once gone, goes for ever, and all that endures is the grief.

I.
SHE stood against the Orient sun,
Her face inscrutable for light;
A myriad larks in unison
Sang o'er her, soaring out of sight.

A myriad flowers around her feet
Burst flame-like from the yielding sod,
Till all the wandering airs were sweet
With incense mounting up to God.

A mighty rainbow shook, inclined
Towards her, from the Occident,
Girdling the cloud-wrack which enshrined
Half the light-bearing firmament.

Lit showers flashed golden o'er the hills,
And trees flung silver to the breeze,
And, scattering diamonds, fleet-foot rills
Fled laughingly across the leas.

Yea Love, the skylarks laud but thee,
And writ in flowers thine awful name;
Spring is thy shade, dread Ecstasy,
And life a brand which feeds thy flame.



II.
WINDING all my life about thee,
Let me lay my lips on thine;
What is all the world without thee,
Mine--oh mine!

Let me press my heart out on thee,
Crush it like a fiery vine,
Spilling sacramental on thee
Love's red wine.

Let thy strong eyes yearning o'er me
Draw me with their force divine;
All my soul has gone before me
Clasping thine.

Irresistibly I follow,
As wherever we may run
Runs our shadow, as the swallow
Seeks the sun.

Yea, I tremble, swoon, surrender
All my spirit to thy sway,
As a star is drowned in splendour
Of the day.


III.
I CHARGE you, O winds of the West, O winds with the wings of the dove,
That ye blow o'er the brows of my Love, breathing low that I sicken for love.

I charge you, O dews of the Dawn, O tears of the star of the morn,
That ye fall at the feet of my love with the sound of one weeping forlorn.

I charge you, O birds of the Air, O birds flying home to your nest,
That ye sing in his ears of the joy that for ever has fled from my breast.

I charge you, O flowers of the Earth, O frailest of things, and most fair,
That ye droop in his path as the life in me shrivels consumed by despair.

O Moon, when he lifts up his face, when he seeth the waning of thee,
A memory of her who lies wan on the limits of life let it be.

Many tears cannot quench, nor my sighs extinguish, the flames of love's fire,
Which lifteth my heart like a wave, and smites it, and breaks its desire.

I rise like one in a dream when I see the red sun flaring low,
That drags me back shuddering from sleep each morning to life with its woe.

I go like one in a dream, unbidden my feet know the way
To that garden where love stood in blossom with the red and white hawthorn of May.

The song of the throstle is hushed, and the fountain is dry to its core,
The moon cometh up as of old; she seeks, but she finds him no more.

The pale-faced, pitiful moon shines down on the grass where I weep,
My face to the earth, and my breast in an anguish ne'er soothed into sleep.

The moon returns, and the spring, birds warble, trees burst into leaf,
But Love once gone, goes for ever, and all that endures is the grief.

SHE sat by the wayside and wept, where roses, red roses and white,
Lay wasted and withered and sere, like her life and its ruined delight;
Like chaff blown about in the wind whirled roses, white roses and red,
And pale, on night's threshold, the moon bent over the day that was dead.

She sat by the wayside and wept; far over the desolate plain
A noise as of one that is weeping re-echoed in wind and in rain,
And the long dim line of the spectral poplars with dolorous wail
Nodded their bald-headed tops as they chattered with cold in the gale.

She sat by the wayside and wept in a passion of vain desire,
And her weak heart fluttered and failed like the flame of a faltering fire,
Fluttered and failed in her breast like the broken wing of a bird
When its feathers are dabbled with gore, and the low last gurgle is heard.

And behold, like balm on her soul, while she sat by the wayside and wept,
There came a forgetting of sorrow, a lulling of grief, and she slept;
Yea, like the wings of a dove when cooing it broods on the nest,
So the wings of slumber about her assuaged and filled her with rest.

And a light that was not the sun's nor the moon's light illumined her brain;
From afar in the country of dreams three maidens stole over the plain,
Three loveliest maidens they were, like roses, red roses and white;
And behold the earth and the heavens were glorified in their light.

And the first of the maidens was fair, as fair as the blue-kirtled Spring,
When she comes with a snowfall of blossoms and a rustling of birds on the wing,
When a glimmer of green like a tide rolls over the woodland and vales,
And odours are blown on the winds with the song of the nightingales.

The second was loftier of stature, a huntress of grief;
The wilderness glowed as she passed and broke into blossom and leaf;
Yea, it seemed that her upturned eyes, with their fathomless gaze,
Could pierce to the shining stars through the veil of the noonday blaze.

But the third was a splendour incarnate, a luminous form,
Thrilling with raptures that keep the heart of the cold earth warm,
Who hidden far in the mystical glory of quivering rays
Sets the whole world on fire for an absolute sight of her face.

But darkling ever they see her, and ever as through a veil,
For if naked she lightens upon them, their lives must shrivel and fail,
Must fail and shrivel consumed by that burst of insufferable light,
As a tree set on fire by lightning which burns to the ground in a night.

The first one kissed her cheek, her cheek grew pallid and wan:
'Goodbye,' she cried, 'we must part; I am Youth, and I follow the sun;
I am Youth, and I love to build in the heart that is buoyant and gay;
Goodbye, we shall meet not again,' she cried, as she fluttered away.

The second she kissed her eyes, then the glamour went out of their gaze,
Through the magical show she beheld life staring her straight in the face;
With a terrible Gorgon stare that turned her heart into stone--
'Adieu,' she sighed, 'I am Hope, all is over between us and done.'
The third one she kissed her lips, and the kiss was a quenchless fire,
It burned up her life like a victim's in the flames of a funeral pyre--
'Farewell,' she wailed, 'I am Love,' and her wings were spread as for flight--
It seemed like the wail of the wind as they left her alone with the night.

The Dying Dragoman

Far in the fiery wilderness,
Beyond the town of Assouan,
Left languishing in sore distress,
There lay a dying Dragoman.
Alone amid the waste, alone,
The hot sand burnt him to the bone;
And on his breast, like heated stone,
The burden of the air did press.

His head was pillowed on a tomb,
Reared to some holy Sheik of old;
The irresistible Simoom
Whirled drifts of sand that rose and rolled
Around him, and the panting air
Was one sulphureous spectral glare,
Shot with such gleams as lights the lair
Of tigers in a jungle's gloom.

Groaning, he closed his bloodshot eyes,
As if to shut out all he feared;
And greedily a swarm of flies
Fell on his face and tangled beard.
He lay like one who ne'er would lift
His head above that ashy drift;
When lo, there gleamed across a rift
The blue oasis of the skies.

Like smoke dispersing far and wide,
The draggled sands were blown away;
The wild clouds in a refluent tide
Receded from the face of day.
The lingering airs yet lightly blew
Till the last speck cleared out of view,
And left the hushed Eternal Blue,
And nothing else beside.

Then once again, with change of moods,
A mighty shadow, broadening, fell
Across those shadeless solitudes,
Without a Palm, without a Well.
Wing wedged in wing, an ordered mass
Unnumbered numbers pass and pass,
As if one Will, one only, was
In all those moving multitudes.

A chord thrilled in the sick man's brain;
He raised his heavy-lidded eyes,
He raised his heavy head with pain,
And caught a glimpse of netted skies,
Meshed in ten thousand wings in flight
That cleft the air. Oh wondrous sight!
He gasped, he shrieked in sheer delight:
"The Storks! The Storks fly home again!

"I too, O Storks, I too, even I,
Would see my native land again.
Oh, had I wings that I might fly
With you, wild birds, across the main!
Take, take me to the land, I pray,
The land where nests are full in May,
The land where my young children play:
Oh, take me with you, or I die.

"My lonely heart blooms like a flower,
My children, when I think of you,
My love is like an April shower,
And fills my heart with drops of dew.
Along their unknown tracks, ah me!
The Storks will fly across the sea;
My children soon will hail with glee
Their red bills on the rain-washed tower."

Home-sickness seized him for the herds
That browse upon the fresh green leas;
Home-sickness for the cuckoo birds
That shout afar in feathery trees;
For running stream and rippling rill
That, racing, turning his woodland mill:
And tears on tears began to fill
His eyes, confusing all he sees.

Again he doats on rosy cheeks
Of children rolling in the grass;
Again the busy days and weeks,
The months and years serenely pass.
Black forest clocks tick day and night,
His board and bed are snowy white,
His humble house is just as bright
As if it were a house of glass.

Again, beneath the high-peaked roof,
His wife's unresting shuttle flies
Across the even warp and woof;
Again his thrifty mother plies
Her wheel, that hums like noontide bees;
And lint-locked babes about her knees
Hark to strange tales of talking trees,
And Storks deep versed in sage replies.

Again the ring of swinging chimes
Calls all the pious folk to church,
With shining Sunday face, betimes,
Through rustling woods of beech and birch

Full of moist glimmering hollows where
The pines bow murmuring as in prayer,
And musically through the air
The forest's mighty Choral swells.

Again, O Lord, again he sees
The place where Heaven came down one day;
Where, in a space of bloom and bees,
He won his wife one morn of May.
Warm pulses shook and thrilled his blood,
Wild birds were singing in the wood,
The flowering world in bridal mood
Joined in the Pinewood's symphonies.

Again, O Lord, in grief and fear,
He bids good-bye to all he loves;
The waters swell, the woods are sere,
The Storks are gone, and hushed the doves.
He goes with them; he goes to heal
The sickness whose insidious seal
Is set on him. Ah, tears will steal
And blur the Storks that disappear.

A furnace fire behind the hill,
The sun has burnt itself away;
The ghost of light, transparent, chill,
Yet floats upon the edge of day.
And all the desert holds its breath
As if it felt and crouched beneath
The filmy, flying bat of death
About a heart for ever still.

And one by one, seraphic, bland,
The bright stars open in the skies;
The large above the Shadow land
The white-faced moon begins to rise.
And all the wilderness grows wan
Beneath the stars, that one by one
Look down upon the lifeless man
As if they were his children's eyes.

Echoes Of Spring

I.
I WALK about in driving snow,
And drizzling rain, splashed o'er and o'er;
No sign that radiant spring e'en now
Stands at the threshold of the door.

No sign that fragrant violets burn
To burst the ground and quicken forth;
No sign that swallow flights return,
To gladden all the serious north.

But in my breast--what flutterings here!
What bursts of song! what twitt'rings blest!
Sure the first swallow of the year
Within my heart has built her nest.


II.
Oft on the gleaming April days,
When skies are soft, and winds are warm,
And in the air a subtle charm,
And on the hill a flight of rays;

When silver clouds slide through the blue,
Spreading a pure, transparent wing,
And all the budding branches ring
With blithesome birds, that warbling woo;

Beneath a pear tree's shade I lay,
Deep bedded in the long thick grass,
And heard the twitt'ring swallow pass,
And grasshoppers at endless play.

I knew, though flowers mine eyes did screen,
That butterflies danced in the light;
For, breaking sunbeams in their flight,
They flashed their shadows on the green.

And gazing up, in dreamful ease,
Where quiv'ring frail on shivery sprays,
The blossoms mix a milky maze,
What hum of golden-girted bees!

So lily-white, the tree, behold,
Seems set on fire by burnished lights,
And shoal on honeying shoal alights,
And turns the snowy boughs to gold.

Thus on my spirit--music-fraught,
Burst swarms of glimm'ring melodies,
And like the yellow-banded bees,
Make honey of my flutt'ring thought.


III.
Sometimes on my soul will throng
Such a blossom-burst of song,
That I cannot seize it all,
Letting sweetest measures fall.

Thus a child feels--sudden sunk
On a crowding violet bank,
And delighted and amazed,
Gathers in a flushèd haste.

Gathers them so fast and fleet,
Little fingers cannot meet
O'er the lot; and swifter still
Than they cull, the wealth they spill.

To that sweets o'erflooded nook,
Casting back one longing look,
At the last it takes away
But one little odorous spray.

Yet through many a day and night,
Flinging back the fragrant sight,
Cleaves to face, and hands, and feet,
All the woodland's violets sweet.


IV.
Fain would I sing of each sweet sight and sound,
Of fleeting odours wheeling round and round,
Of sunbeams dancing on the virgin grass,
Of flocks of fleecy clouds that glimmer as they pass.

Of larks, that lost in the blue ether float,
Of the weird blackbird's dream--enchanted note!
While the glad hedges palpitate with song,
That drops like murm'ring rain the dewy fields among.

Of blooming bushes and of budding trees,
Of flaming flowers, dotting the grassy leas,
Of glowing pools and of the babbling rills,
That flash through azure mists, slumb'ring on folded hills.

Fain would I sing, sweet April-time, of thee,
And mingle in thy wantonness of glee;
But thou such overwealth of sweets dost fling,
My heart is all too full, too full to speak or sing.


V.
There's somewhat in the loveliness of spring,
In the young light, and in the fragrant bloom,
In the sweet song that each soft breeze doth wing,
In the bright flowers that rise from earth's dark womb;

Which fills with sadness the presentient mind,
And for a far-off home awakes the sigh;
Which makes us gaze, with longings undefined,
On dim blue hills, and weep--we know not why.


VI.
Oh, birds, winged voices! children of the light!
Whose song is love, whose love is melody;
Shedding o'er hedge, and field, and bush, and tree,
Your tuneful joy and musical delight,

Making the air, the earth, the heavens bright;
Melodious, tender, sad and gay and free;
By all these gifts true poets born are ye;
Love circumscribes alone your restless flight.

Poets, I say? Ah, not like poets here,
That wander forth alone, companionless;
Whose lays are wrung from them by care and pain;
Who sing, while blinded by the hot salt tear.

Not such are ye; but free from all distress,
Ye, with the sunlight, range o'er land and main.


VII.
Oh, soft sweet air of early spring,
Again thou float'st on viewless wing,
Coax'st snowdrops their white bells to ring,
And wak'st the blackbird up to sing.

Again, upon the bright'ning lea,
Beneath the budding bursting tree,
The toddling baby-mites I see,
Skip, jump, and frisk in lamb-like glee.

But I am sad, I know not why;
My breast heaves with the long-drawn sigh;
The tear rounds slowly in mine eye;
I'd like to lay me down and die.


VIII.
The blooming hedge, the budding grove,
Resound with notes of joy and love;
The gleaming bush, the glimm'ring tree,
Live with a dewy melody.

Along the meadows, flashing bright,
Run trills of shrill and sweet delight;
E'en the small snowy clouds among,
Gush showers on showers of silver song.
But thou, my heart, oh, tell me why
Hast thou no language but a sigh?


IX.
Like a flower-fall of rain,
Like a snowy elfin train,
Like stray gleams of moonlight fair,
Do you shift upon the air,
Do you flutter on the breeze,
Do you fall upon the leas,
Blossoms of the apple-trees;
Then on earth's bosom slow ye fade away,
Like to a low and sweetly dying lay.


X.
With thousand gaps the earth is split,
By sunbeams wounded o'er and o'er,
My heart, it acheth bit by bit;
Life's heat and dust have made it sore.

When wilt thou fall from clouds above,
In silver showers, refreshing rain?
When wilt thou come, reviving love,
With dew, and make me whole again?

A little while, big drops will slake,
Oh, earth, thy thirst's hot agony;
But till my fevered heart doth break,
Will solace ever come to me?

The Prophecy Of St. Oran: Part I

'Earth, earth on the mouth of Oran, that he may blab no more.' Gaelic Proverb.


I.
THE storm had ceased to rave: subsiding slow
Lashed ocean heaved, and then lay calm and still;
From the clear North a little breeze did blow
Severing the clouds: high o'er a wooded hill
The slant sun hung intolerably bright,
And spanned the sea with a broad bridge of light.


II.
Now St. Columba rose from where he sat
Among his monkish crew; and lifting high
His pale worn hands, his eagle glances met
The awful glory which suffused the sky.
As soars the lark, sweet singing from the sod,
So prayer is wafted from his soul to God.


III.
For they in their rude coracle that day
Shuddered had climbed the crests of mountainous wave,
To plunge down glassy walls of shifting spray,
From which death roared as from an open grave;
Till, the grim fury of the tempest o'er,
Bursts on their ravished sight an azure shore.


IV.
Ah! is this solid earth which meets their view,
Or some still cloud-land islanded on high?
Those crags are too aërially blue,
Too soft those mountains mingling with the sky,
And too ineffable their dewy gleam,
For aught but fabric of a fleeting dream.


V.
Entranced they gaze, and o'er the glimmering track
Of seething gold and foaming silver row:
Now to their left tower headlands, bare and black
And blasted, with grey centuries of snow,
Deep in whose echoing caves, with hollow sighs,
Monotonous seas for ever ebb and rise.


VI.
Rounding these rocks, they glide into a deep
And tranquil bay, in whose translucent flood
The shadows of the azure mountains sleep:
High on a hill, amid green foliage, stood
A square and rough-hewn tower, whose time-bleached stone,
Like some red beacon, with the sunset shone.


VII.
A few more vigorous strokes, and the sharp keel
Grates on the beach, on which, inclining low
Their tonsured heads, the monks adoring kneel;
While St. Columba, his pale face aglow
With outward light and inward, lifts on high
The Cross, swart outlined on the burning sky.


VIII.
Impassive, though in silent wonder, stood
The islesmen while these worshipped, on their shore,
A thorn-crowned figure nailed upon the wood,
From whose pierced side the dark blood seemed to pour;
While on the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
They loudly called as brow and breast they crost.


IX.
Spoke now their Master, in a voice whose ring
Was like the west wind's in a twilight grove:
'Glad tidings to this sea-girt isle we bring,
Good tidings of our heavenly Father's love,
Who sent His only Son,--oh, marvellous
Deep love!--to die that He might ransom us.'


X.
'Come! listen to the story of our Lord!
Sweet Jesus Christ, a child of lowly birth,
Whom in the manger the wise kings adored,
For well they knew Him Lord of Heaven and Earth,
With myrrh and spice they journeyed from the far
Prophetic East, led by the Pilgrim Star:


XI.
'And when the star stood still, and mildly shone
Above a shed where lay the new-born child,
They hailed Him God's only-begotten Son,
Saviour of sinners and Redeemer mild;
Eve's promised seed, when she with streaming eyes
Saw the bright sword wave her from Paradise.


XII.
'For we are children of a fallen race,
Our sins are grievous in the Father's sight,
Death was our doom, but that by heavenly grace
God sent His Son to be a steadfast light,
Which calmly shining o'er life's troubled wave,
The storm-tossed souls of erring men might save.


XIII.
'Go unto Him, all ye that toil and weep,
Ye that are weary with the long day's load;
He is the Shepherd watching o'er His sheep,
He leads His flock along the narrow road;
And when He hears the bleating lamb's alarm
He folds the weak one in His sheltering arm.


XIV.
'Ah, tender Shepherd, who didst love us so,
Choosing to die that we Thy flock might live;
What bitter anguish, ah! what heavy woe
To think, O Lord! that mortal hands should give
This wound that cleaves Thy side, that mortal scorn
In mockery crowned Thee with the barren thorn!'


XV.
Sad was Columba's face, his words were slow
As though reluctant to the piteous tale--
But now his eyes with sacred rapture glow,
And his wan features kindle, like a pale
Dissolving cloud through which the moon is shed:
He speaks of Christ re-risen from the dead.


XVI.
He ceased, then cried: 'Glory unto the Lord
Whose mercy is as boundless as the sea;
Fruitful to-day makes He my feeble word,
For with faith's eye an ancient chief I see,
Whose bark o'er the blue deep is drawing nigh,
He comes to be baptised before he die.'


XVII.
Scarce had he ended when towards the land
A wicker boat sped swiftly o'er the bay;
There by the Pictish chieftain, hand in hand,
Her golden locks entangled with his grey,
His grandchild sat, lit by the level rays;
The loveliest and the last of all her race.


XVIII.
They hailed the Chief as to a sea-worn stone
Two fishers bore him; and his muffled sense
Struggled with feeble eld to seize the tone
Of the Saint's voice, as he in words intense
Proclaimed the saving truth of gospel lore,
Then with his hands baptised the Chieftain hoar.


XIX.
And when the holy dew had wet his brow,
And his wan lips tasted the sacrament,
His head against Columba's breast sank low,
And o'er his face a smile of rapt content
Played softly, smoothing out the lines of care
Which joy and grief and toil had planted there.


XX.
Then on the spot where he has breathed his last
They lay him, letting dust to dust return;
Then one by one, as solemnly they cast
A little earth upon his grave, they turn
To the benighted heathen, look above,
And chaunt: 'His soul is God's, and God is love.'


XXI.
A piteous cry and terrible then rung
Even like a very echo to the word
Upon the startled hearers, whom it wrung
With answering grief, as when along the chord
Of palpitating harp the breezes sigh
Each string responsive wails in sympathy.


XXII.
A maiden with wild eyes and streaming hair
And features white with horror rose aghast,
Unconscious of the pitying people's stare,
And on the new-made grave herself she cast
In utter desolation, till her frame
Convulsed by sobs shook like a wind-blown flame.


XXIII.
'Oh father, father,' she at last made moan,
'My father's father, last of all our race,
Hast thou gone too, and left me here alone
So helpless as I am, so weak to face
The dreadful shifts of war with all its woes,
Cold, hunger, shame, fear of insulting foes.'


XXIV.
'Nay, child, blaspheme not in thine agony!
Art thou not in our heavenly Father's care?
He who upholds the everlasting sky
Throughout the ages, suffers not a hair
Of thine to fall but that it is His will;
Bless Him for joy, for sorrow bless Him still.


XXV.
'Yea! clasp thine unused hands in prayer, and lift
Thy still down-drooping eyes to Him above.
Is not the giver greater than His gift?
Must not His love contain all lesser love
Of father, mother, brother, husband, wife--
The Alpha He and Omega of life?'


XXVI.
Thus spake Columba, burning to allay
The pains of earthly love with saving truth;
But she, who deemed confusedly that they
With their sad rites had slain her sire, forsooth,
Was deaf to him, and ever made her moan,
'Hast thou gone too, and left me here alone!'


XXVII.
At last--when all his words and prayers had failed
To comfort or assuage the orphan's woe,
Who prostrate on the grave still wept and wailed,--
Columba muttered as he turned to go:
'Nay, sooner parley with the roaring main
Than with a woman maddening in her pain.'


XXVIII.
So thus they left her, as she would not come,
Left her to night and a few firstling stars
That here and there from the celestial dome
Peered brightly through the narrow cloudy bars,
As though some great white seraph's lidless eyes
Were looking down on her from Paradise.


XXIX.
But one there was who could not rest in peace,
For pity of that maiden's lonely pain!
Was there no balm in Gilead to appease
Her wounded spirit?--yea, might not he gain
That soul benighted to eternal bliss,
By teaching her God's love through grief like this?


XXX.
Thus Oran mused, the youngest and most fair
Of that devoted zealous little band
That now for many a laborious year
Followed Columba's lead from land to land,
Daring the danger of the narrow seas
To plant the Cross among the Hebrides.


XXXI.
Young, but most fervid of their brotherhood,
Fair Oran was, whose faith leaped like a sword
From out the sheath, and could not be subdued
When brandished in the service of the Lord,
To whom--as sparks leap upward from a fire--
His soaring thoughts incessantly aspire.


XXXII.
Yea, he must save her soul, that like a bark
Drifting without a rudder, rudely tossed
On life's rough sea, might founder in the dark,
In the abysm of hell engulfed and lost.
Thus musing, he retraced his steps once more
Towards the grave beside the sounding shore.


XXXIII.
'Arise, and let the dead bury their dead!'
He said to her still shedding stanchless tears.
Affrighted by his voice, she raised her head
With eyes dilated like a startled deer's;
With lovely, longing, melancholy eyes,
She looked up at him with a dumb surprise.


XXXIV.
'Come unto Jesus, He will give thee rest,'
Oran began, but stammered as he spoke:
Why throbbed his heart so loudly in his breast,
As if impatient of the heavy yoke
Of faith, that curbed desire as soon as born,
That nipped the rose, but left its piercing thorn?


XXXV.
A moment has undone the work of years!
A single glance o'erthrown an austere saint!
And the clear faith, achieved with stripes and tears
And midnight fasts and vigils, now grows faint,
And like a star lost in the new-born light
Flickers awhile, then fades into the night.


XXXVI.
Still Oran wrestles with the fiend within,
Striving to teach the gospel to the maid;
He tells her of man's fall through deadly sin,
And of the Saviour who our ransom paid:
She, with her eyes now bent upon the ground,
Listens like one by strong enchantment bound.


XXXVII.
It was a clear and cloudless summer night,
Stars without number clustered in the blue,
Some like mere sparks of evanescent light
Receding infinite from mortal view,
Some with a steadier lustre softly glow,
Like golden flames or silver flakes of snow.


XXXVIII.
But lo! like some lost soul from heaven's height
Hurled headlong, shivering to its awful doom,
A wingèd star shoots dazzling through the night,
And vanishes in some stupendous gloom:
Thus once the brightest of the angels fell
Through yawning space into profoundest hell.


XXXIX.
And trembling for his own soul, Oran prayed:
'Oh blessed Virgin, whom the angelic quire
Rapturous adore! immaculate Mother-maid!
Pure Queen! make pure my heart of every fire
Which is not kindled on thy sacred shrine,
Of every thought not wholly, solely thine!'


XL.
Even while suppliant's lips devoutly move,
A heavenly face, though not the Virgin's, filled
His eyes with beauty, and his heart with love,
Till with dread rapture all his pulses thrilled:
A face whose heavenly innocence might well
Eradicate the very thought of hell.


XLI.
Perplexed, bewildered, breathless Oran stood,
Torn by the passions he had still suppressed
With macerations of the flesh and blood;
But now this idol which enthralled his breast
With subtle witchcraft, snake-like seemed to hiss,
'Thine immortality for one long kiss!'


XLII.
'Get thee behind me, Satan!' wildly cries
The monk, and flees in horror from the place.
Did not the devil tempt him through those eyes
Burning like two fair lights in that fair face,
Till moth-like drawn in ever-narrowing rings
Towards the flame, his soul must scorch her wings?


XLIII.
Far o'er the moorland through the starlit night
He rushed, like one who flies in mortal fear
Of some dread enemy that dogs his flight,
And who, whate'er his speed, still draweth near:
Yea, though he shall outspeed the wingèd wind,
How fly the haunting thought of his own mind?


XLIV.
At last he knelt all breathless on the sod,
And gathered up his whole soul in one prayer,
Yea,--even as Jacob wrestled before God
While angels hovered on the heavenly stair,
He wrestled,--loudly calling on the Lord
To keep him from the sin his soul abhorred.


XLV.
When his long prayer was done, and the pale priest
Rose cold with clinging vapour, one by one
The flickering stars went out, and in the East
The dim air kindled with the coming sun,
While in illimitable sheer delight
The holy larks rose worshipping the light.

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