The Two Villages
Over the river, on the hill,
Lieth a village white and still;
All around it the forest-trees
Shiver and whisper in the breeze;
Over it sailing shadows go
Of soaring hawk and screaming crow,
And mountain grasses, low and sweet,
Grow in the middle of every street.
Over the river, under the hill,
Another village lieth still;
There I see in the cloudy night
Twinkling stars of household light,
Fires that gleam from the smithy's door,
Mists that curl on the river-shore;
And in the roads no grasses grow,
For the wheels that hasten to and fro.
In that village on the hill
Never is sound of smithy or mill;
The houses are thatched with grass and flowers;
Never a clock to toll the hours;
The marble doors are always shut,
You cannot enter in hall or hut;
All the villagers lie asleep;
Never a grain to sow or reap;
Never in dreams to moan or sigh;
Silent and idle and low they lie.
In that village under the hill,
When the night is starry and still,
Many a weary soul in prayer
Looks to the other village there,
And weeping and sighing, longs to go
Up to that home from this below;
Longs to sleep in the forest wild,
Whither have vanished wife and child,
And heareth, praying, this answer fall:
'Patience! that village shall hold ye all!'
I watch her in the corner there,
As, restless, bold, and unafraid,
She slips and floats along the air
Till all her subtile house is made.
Her home, her bed, her daily food
All from that hidden store she draws;
She fashions it and knows it good,
By instinct's strong and sacred laws.
No tenuous threads to weave her nest,
She seeks and gathers there or here;
But spins it from her faithful breast,
Renewing still, till leaves are sere.
Then, worn with toil, and tired of life,
In vain her shining traps are set.
Her frost hath hushed the insect strife
And gilded flies her charm forget.
But swinging in the snares she spun,
She sways to every winter wind:
Her joy, her toil, her errand done,
Her corse the sport of storms unkind.
Poor sister of the spinster clan!
I too from out my store within
My daily life and living plan,
My home, my rest, my pleasure spin.
I know thy heart when heartless hands
Sweep all that hard-earned web away:
Destroy its pearled and glittering bands,
And leave thee homeless by the way.
I know thy peace when all is done.
Each anchored thread, each tiny knot,
Soft shining in the autumn sun;
A sheltered, silent, tranquil lot.
I know what thou hast never known,
-Sad presage to a soul allowed;-
That not for life I spin, alone.
But day by day I spin my shroud.
The Death Of Tankerfield
The death of holy Tankerfield,
That martyr of the Lord's,
And his great worth I do set forth
As seasonable words.
In young King Edward's blessed time,
A Papist vile was he;
Uncleansèd from the filthy slime
Of vain idolatry.
But when it pleased the Lord most high
To take the king away,
Unto his everlasting rest,
To be with him alway,-
When bloody Mary's reign began,
Wherein the flock of Christ
Did wander through the valleys low,
And stumble in the mist,-
Then, as he saw what cruel pains
From men they did endure,
And suffered pangs of many deaths
To make their glory sure-
His heart was moved and stirred within
To see their evil tide,
And that foul church which wrought the sin
He might no more abide.
But turned unto the sacred Word,
To light his darksome soul;
And learned to leave that faith abhorred
That would his mind control.
And did his feeble voice uplift
To make a protest bold,
Renouncing all the devil's works,
To which he clave of old.
Thereat unto his house there came
A man of cruel mind,
By name one Byrd, who thought no shame
This godly youth to bind.
Before the judge they haled him then,
Who sent him back apace,
Unto a doleful prison-cell,
Where he remained a space.
But when before the court he came,
To answer for his faith,
Of Christ the Lord he was not shamed,
But owned him unto death.
So, when the summer-tide was come,
And all the fields were green,
And flowers upon the dewy meads
Were joyful to be seen,
They brought him from his dungeon-cell
Unto a certain Inn,
And bade him to remember well
The wages of his sin.
For that he never more should see
The rising of the sun.
'Then,' with a cheerful voice, quoth he,
'Good Lord, thy will be done!'
'Now, bring me here a cup of wine,
Withal a wheaten cake,
To keep the Supper of the Lord,
Ere I my end do make.
'I may not have a minister
To break this bread to me,
But by the passion, gracious Lord,
Lay not the sin to me!
'I fain would keep thy feast again
Before I drink it new,
To aid my flesh in deathly pain,
And keep my spirit true.'
So, giving thanks, he took the bread,
And drank the sacred wine,
Which now in heaven he doth partake
From chalices divine.
Then prayed he them to light a fire,
That he his strength might try;
The host did grant him his desire,
And stood amazèd by:
For, lo! he stretched his naked food
Into the scorching flame,
But bone and sinew quivering shrank,
And loud he spake in pain:
'Ho, flesh! thou wilt not gladly burn,
But spirit shall endure;
Ho, sense! thou wouldst from glory turn,
But soul thou shalt make sure!'
Then, as the time drew on apace
That he by fire should die,
He kneeled again and prayed for grace
To bear his agony.
Then, with a calm and pleasant smile,
Saith he,-'However long
The day may seem, yet at the last
It rings for even-song.'
The sheriffs brought him to a green,
Hard by the abbey-wall,
And seeing there the fagots piled,
They spake aloud to all.
'A dinner sharp is mine today,'
Quoth he, with joyful faith,
'But I shall sup on heavenly cates,
And triumph over death.'
When he was fettered to the stake,
They heaped the pile full high,
And called a priest, with subtle words
To shake his constancy.
But loudly he denied the mass
And all the works of Rome,
So might not Babylonish tricks
Delay his passage home.
A certain knight, who stood thereby,
Laid hold upon his hand.
Quoth he, 'Good brother in the Lord,
Be strong in Christ, and stand.'
'Oh, sir!' the martyr made reply,
'I give you thanks indeed.
May God be lauded, I am strong!'
With that they bade him heed.
And set the fire unto the pile:
When, as the flame shot high,
Unto the strong and mighty One
He powerfully did cry.
Yea, from the depths uplifted he
A cry for help to God,
And homeward then, on fiery wings,
Right joyfully he rode.