DOWN dropped the sun upon the sea,
The gradual darkness filled the land ;
Amid the twilight, silently,
I felt the pressure of a hand.
And a low voice: 'Have courage, friend.
Be of good cheer, 'tis not for long ;
He conquers who awaits the end,
And dares to suffer and be strong.'
I have seen many a land since then,
Known many a joy and many a pain.
Victor in many a strife of men,
Vanquished again and yet again.
The ancient sorrow now is not,
Since time can heal the keenest smart ;
Yet the vague memory, scarce forgot,
Lingers deep down within the heart.
Still, when the ruddy flame of gold
Fades into gray on sea and land,
I hear the low sweet voice of old,
I feel the pressure of a hand.
Good In Everything
THE white shafts of the dawn dispel
The night clouds banked across the sky;
The sluggish vapours curl and die,
And the day rises. It is well.
Unfold, ye tender blooms of life ;
Sing, birds ; let all the world be gay:
'Tis well, the morning of our day
Must rise 'mid joyous songs and strife.
Beat, noonday sun, till all the plain
Swoons, and life seems asleep or dead :
'Tis well, the harvest of our bread
Is sown in sorrow and reaped in pain.
Close, evening shadows, soft and deep,
When life reviving breathes once more ;
Fall, silent night, when toil is o'er,
And the soul folds her wings in sleep.
Come joy or grief, come right or wrong,
In good or evil, life or death ;
We are the creatures of His breath :
Nor shall His hand forsake us long.
WHO but has seen
Once in his life, when youth and health ran high,
The fair, clear face of truth
Grow dark to his eye ?
Who but has known
Cold mists of doubt and icy questionings
Creep round him like a nightmare, blotting out
The sight of better things.
A hopeless hour,
When all the voices of the soul are dumb,
When o'er the tossing seas
No ligh may come,
When God and right
Are gone, and seated on the empty throne
Are dull philosophies and words of wind,
Making His praise their own.
Better than this,
The burning sins of youth, the old man's greed,
Than thus to live inane ;
To sit and read,
And with blind brain
Daily to treasure up a deadly doubt,
And live a life from which the light has fled,
And faith's pure fire gone out.
Until at last,
For some blest souls, but never here for all,
Burns out a sudden light,
And breaks the thrall,
And doubt has fled,
And the soul rises, with a clearer sight
For this its pain, its sorrow, its despair,
To God and truth and right.
Plead we for those
Gently and humbly, as befitteth men
On whom the same chill shade
Broods now as then.
So shall they learn
How an eternal wisdom rules above,
And all the cords of Being ar bound fast
To an unfailing love.
A Yorkshire River
THE silent surfaces sleep
With a sullen viscous flow,
And scarce in the squalid deep
Swing the dead weeds to and fro,
And no living thing is there to swim or creep
In the sunless gulfs below.
And beneath are the ooze and the slime,
Where the corpse lies as it fell,
The hidden secrets of crime
Which no living tongue shall tell,
The shameful story of time,
The old, old burden of hell.
All the grasses upon the bank
Are bitter with scurf and drift,
And the reeds are withered and dank ;
And sometimes, when the smoke clouds shift,
You may see the tall shafts in a hideous rank
Their sulphurous fumes uplift.
From the black blot up the stream
The funeral barges glide,
And the waves part as in a dream,
From broad bow and sunken side ;
And 'tis 'greed, greed!' hisses from coal and from steam,
Foul freightage and turbid tide,
Like the life of a slumb'ring soul
Grown dull in content and health,
Whose dark depths lazily roll,
Whose still currents creep by stealth.
Nor sorrow nor yearning comes to control
The monotonous tide of wealth.
Fair or foul, in life as in death,
One blight and corruption o'er all,
Blow on them, great wind, with thy breath,
Fall, blinding water-floods, fall,
Till the dead life below awakeneth,
And deep unto deep doth call !
To A Child Of Fancy
THE nests are in the hedgerows,
The lambs are on the grass ;
With laughter sweet as music
Thy hours lightfooted pass,
My darling child of fancy,
My winsome prattling lass.
Blue eyes, with long brown lashes,
Thickets of golden curl,
Red little lips disclosing
Twin rows of fairy pearl,
Cheeks like the apple blossom,
Voice lightsome as the merle.
A whole Spring's fickle changes
In every short-lived day,
A passing cloud of April,
A flowery smile of May,
A thousand quick mutations
From graver moods to gay.
Far off, I see the season
When thy childhood's course is run,
And thy girlhood opens wider
Beneath the growing sun,
And the rose begins to redden,
But the violets are done.
And further still the summer,
When thy fair tree, fully grown,
Shall burgeon, and grow splendid
With blossoms of its own,
And the fruit begins to gather,
But the buttercups are mown.
If I should see thy autumn,
'Twill not be close at hand,
But with a spirit vision,
From some far distant land.
Or, perhaps, I hence may see thee
Amongst the angels stand.
I know not what of fortune
The future holds for thee,
Nor if skies fair or clouded
Wait thee in days to be,
But neither joy nor sorrow
Shall sever thee from me.
Dear child, whatever changes
Across our lives may pass,
I shall see thee still for ever,
Clearly as in a glass,
The same sweet child of fancy,
The same dear winsome lass.
The Living Past
FAITHFUL souls that watch and yearn,
Expectant of the coming light,
With kindling hearts and eyes that burn
With hope to see the rule of right ;
The time of peace and of good will,
When the thick clouds of wrong and pain
Roll up as from a shining hill,
And never more descend again ;
The perfect day, the golden year,
The end of sorrow and of sighs ;
Whether the heavenly change be here,
Or far beyond the sunset skies,—
I cherish you, I love your faith,
I long with you that this may be ;
But hark, a dreary voice which saith,
'Vain dreamer, what were it to thee!'
For though the blest hour strike before
Another sunrise vex the earth,
And pain and evil rule no more,
But vanish in the newer birth,—
Though war and hatred come to cease,
And sorrow be no more, nor sin,
And in their stead an endless peace
Its fair unbroken reign begin,—
What comfort have ye? What shall blot
The memories of bitter years,
Of joys which have been, but are not,
And floods of unforgotten tears ?
The painful records graven clear
On carven rock or deathless page ;
The long unceasing reign of fear,
The weary tale of lust and rage ;
The ills whose dark sum baffles thought,
Done day by day beneath the sun ?
'That which is done,' the old sage taught,
'Not God Himself can make undone.'
For that which has been, still must live,
And 'neath the shallow Present last.
Oh, who will sweet oblivion give,
Who free us from the dreadful Past ?
The Voice Of One Crying
'CRY, cry aloud in the land, cry aloud in the streets of the city ;
Cry and proclaim that no more shall the blood of the people be shed.
Too long have the great ones waxed strong, without justice or any pity,
Too long have they ground down the poor, and eaten the people as bread.'
Thus said the voice from the dead.
'Terrible voice, I said, immoderate, voice of unreason,
Not of themselves do the lowly ones mourn, or the great ones rejoice ;
He who hath made them unequal, hath made all things in their season ;
If they are mighty and strong, they were made without freedom or choice.'
'Cry, cry aloud,' said the voice.
' How shall the sins of the few be reckoned against the many ?
Are there no tender hearts and kind 'midst the selfish and proud ;
Merciful souls and pure, full of love for their suffering brothers ;
Pitiful, touched with compassion and care for the desolate crowd ?'
'Cry,' said the voice, 'cry aloud.'
'Nay, but the world is ruled by merciless rules unbending ;
The feeble folk fade from the earth, and only the mighty remain ;
Not men alone, but all things send upwards a clamour unending ;
Always the whole creation travails in sorrow and pain.'
'Cry, 'said the voice, 'cry again,'
'Are not our sins and our fathers' worked out in our children's sorrow ?
Does not excess of laughter sink at its close in a sigh ?
Mirth and enjoyment to-day turn to pain and repentance to-morrow ;
Thousands are born every hour, in the place of the thousands who die.'
'Cry,' said the stubborn voice, 'cry.'
'Lo ! He hath made all things ; good and evil, sorrow and pleasure ;
Not as your ways are His ways, yet are ye not all in His hand ?
Just is He, though ye know not the measure wherewith He will measure ;
Dark things shall one day be clear ; to obey is to understand !'
Thus that voice, solemn and grand.
The Garden Of Regret
BEYOND the dim walls of the shadowy Past,
A sweet vague host of fancies flourishes,
Like garden seeds in some rough hollow cast,
Which all unasked the kind earth nourishes,
And sends up tender blooms more sweet and fair
Than the dull Present rears with all its care.
There on its thin stem hangs the frail white flower;
Far sweeter now she shines within the shade,
Than when of old within the trim-kept bower
And perfumed lush parterres her home she made ;
Because her sister blooms are past and gone,
And this alone it is that lingers on.
The same white flower, but oh, the depths of change !
Before, the creamy petals, broad and strong,
Were all adust with gold, and filled with strange
Sweet scents, which lurked the odorous depths among ;
Deep in her honeyed wells, the bee would stay
Content, and birds sing round the livelong day.
The same white flower yet changed in scent and hue.
Now the fair feeble petals curl and shrink ;
The dead smooth surfaces are veined with blue ;
No honeyed draughts they hold for bee to drink,
Nor busy hum, nor joyous song is heard.
What hath she left to charm or bee or bird ?
Only a faint sweet odour lingers yet,
Dearer than those rich scents of former years :
A fragile fairness, fairer through regret,
And watered by the dewy fount of tears.
To me that outcast flower is dearer grown,
Than when in those fair gardens overblown.
I set her in the garden of my heart,
And water her from life's sincerest spring ;
And lo ! once more the frail stems quicken and start,
Fair honeyed blooms arise and blithe birds sing :
The old sweet flower in scent and gorgeous hue,
But not the tender grace that once I knew.
Alas ! not in the Present will she grow :
The Present has its own blooms sweet and bright ;
Within its four walls life's fair pleasures blow,
And each gay season brings its own delight :
Far off in dewy shades the exile sweet
Grows fair, and paths untrodden by living feet.
There let her stay. I know not if my theme
Be love, or some fair child of heart or mind :
Young friendships, hopes, beliefs, which like a dream
Pass from us leaving some sweet ghost behind.
Leave them behind, they have been ; others are,
And shall be. Lo ! the spring time is not far.
On A Young Poet
HERE lay him down in peace to take his rest,
Who tired of singing ere the day was done.
A little time, a little, beneath the sun,
He tarried and gave forth his artless song;
The bird that sings with the dawn, sings not for long,
Only when dew is on the grass his breast
Thrills, but his voice is silent long ere noon.
So sang he once, but might not long sustain
The high pure note of youth, for soon, too soon !
He ceased to know the sweet creative pain
Made still one voice, amid the clamorous strife,
And proved no more the joys or pains of life.
And better so than that his voice should fail,
And sink to earth, and lose its heavenlier tone ;
Perchance, if he had stayed, the sad world's moan,
The long low discord of incessant wrong,
Had marred the perfect cadence of his song,
And made a grosser music to prevail.
But now it falls as pure upon the ear,
As sings the brown bird to the star of eve,
Or child's voice in grey minster quiring clear.
Rather then, give we thanks for him than grieve;
Thoughts of pure joys which but in memory live,
More joy than lower present joys can give.
For him, deep rest or high spontaneous strains ;
For us, fierce strife and low laborious song;
For him, truth's face shining out clear and strong ;
For us, half lights, thick clouds, and darkling days.
No longer walks his soul in mortal ways,
Nor thinks our thoughts, nor feels our joys or pains,
Nor doubts our doubts, nor any more pursues,
Knowing all things, the far-off searchless cause ;
Nor thrills with art, or nature's fairest hues,
Gazing on absolute beauty's inmost laws;
Or lies for ever sunk in dreamless sleep,
Nor recks of us ; and therefore 'tis we weep.
But surely if he sleep, some fair faint dream,
Some still small whisper from his ancient home,
Not joy, nor pain, but mixt of each shall come ;
Or if he wake, the thought of earthly clays
Shall add a tender sweetness to his praise ;
Tempering the unbroken joyance of his theme.
And by-and-by the time shall come when we,
Laden with all our lives, once more shall meet,
Like friends, who after infinite wastes of sea,
Look in each other's eyes ; and lo ! the sweet
Sad fount of memory to its depths is stirred,
And the past lives again, without a word.
Mourn not for him ! perchance he lends his voice
To swell the fulness of the eternal psalm ;
Or haply, wrapt in nature's holy calm,
As lurks the seed within the vital earth,
He quickens surely to a higher birth.
Mourn not for him ! but let your souls rejoice.
We know not what we shall be, but are sure
The spark once kindled by the Eternal breath,
Goes not out quite, but somewhere doth endure
In that strange life we blindly christen death.
Somewhere he is, though where we can' not tell ;
But wheresoe'er God hides him, it is well.
SAID one,' Tis Use must lend
The clue our thoughts to bend
To the true end.'
Then I. ' But can your thought
Reach thus for ages sought,
The eternal 'Ought?' '
' Would not the martyr spurn
The truth you teach, to learn,
Rot, rather, burn ?'
' Were not death's self more sweet
Than to live incomplete
A life effete?'
Then he. ' But who shall hold
They grasped not over bold
Their faith of old,'
''Hoarding a random creed
For which they bore to bleed,
Not proved indeed ?'
' For who the truth shall seize
Grasps it by slow degrees,
Not snatched, as these.'
'And who would save his kind
Must spend, the clue to find,
Not heart, but mind.'
Then I. ' But mind alone,
Is dead as wood or stone,
Stirs naught and none.'
'And who with prying eyes
Will motive analyze,
For him it dies.'
'And all his hours remain
A barren, endless plain,
Not joy nor pain ;'
' A tideless, windless sea,
A blank eternity,
Still doomed to be.'
Then he. ' The Use we teach
All forms of being can reach,
Saves all by each.'
'No hasty glance or blind,
To passing goods confined,
Changeful as wind ;'
'But with a steadfast view,
Piercing the boundless blue
Up to the True.'
'Contented to efface
Self, if from out its place
Blossoms the race ;'
' If from lives crushed and wrecked,
A perfected effect,
Man stands erect.'
'To whom all pleasures show
An aspect mean and low
Beside to know.'
'Holding all other thought
Than which for this is sought
A thing of naught.'
' This seeking, nothing less,
What broader happiness
Most lives may bless ?'
Then I. 'If the desire
To which your thoughts aspire
Blazed forth afire ;'
' If all the task were done,
All stubborn contests won
Beneath the sun ;'
'If hope came not to cheer,
Nor bracing chill of fear,
Sweet sigh nor tear ;'
' But all the race should sleep
In a broad calm, too deep
For one to weep.'
'And o'er all lands should reign
A dull content inane,
Worse far than pain ;'
'If, all its griefs forgot,
Slowly the race should rot,
Fade and be not ;'
' Would not the thought oppress
The dream that once could bless,
With such distress,'
'That, from the too great strain,
Life withered, heart and brain,
Would rise in vain?'
Then he. ' The outcome this
Of all philosophies,
'Who seeks shall miss.''
' Who toil aright, for those
Life's pathway, ere it close,
Is as the rose.'
' The spires of wisdom stand,
Piled by the unconscious hand,
From grains of sand.'
'And pleasure comes unsought,
To those who take but thought
For that, they ought ;'
'A bloom, a perfume rare,
A deep-hid jewel fair
For those who dare.'
'So who the race aright
Loveth, a clearer sight
Shall yet requite ;'
'And, since he seeks it less,
An unsought happiness
His toil shall bless.'
Then I. ' 'Twere strange indeed
Should not our longing need
A clearer creed.'
'If only this were blest,
To ponder well how best
To serve the rest.'
'Since grows ; 'tis understood,
The happy multitude,
From each man's good,'
' From general sacrifice,
How should for each arise,
Content for sighs?'
' Or shall we deem it true
That who the road pursue
To gain the True,'
'May not the summit gain
By paths direct and plain
To heart and brain,'
' But with averted mind,
And sedulously blind,
The end must find ?'
'Is truth a masker, then,
Rejoiced to mock the ken
Of toiling men ?'
'Now tricked as Use, now Right,.
But always in despite
Of our poor sight.'
' Doth it not rather seem
We live, whate'er we deem,
As in a dream,'
'Acting, but acting still
The dictates to fulfil
Of a sure Will,'
'Seeing in Use and Right,
Twin rays indefinite
Of a great Light,'
' A mystic Sun and clear,
Which through mind's atmosphere
Can scarce appear,'
'But which not less we know ;
In all fair flowers that grow,
Loud storms that blow,'
' In noble thought and word,
In aspirations heard,
When hearts are stirred,'
' In every breathing breath,
Life that awakeneth,
Life that is death,'
'Whether serene it shine
Or clouds our view confine,
Then he. ' Shall this excuse
Him who a dream should choose
Rather than Use,'
' That he prefer to hold
Some dark abstraction old,
Remote and cold,'
' Some thin ghost, fancy-dressed,
Whereby men's souls oppressed,
Forfeit the best,'
' And for a dream neglect
What splendours of effect
Their lives had decked ?'
Then I. 'Though mind and brain
Wither and are in vain,
And thought a pain ;'
'Though sorrow, like a thief,
Follow to rob belief,
And faith be grief;'
'Though my obedience show
No fruit I here may know
Save utter woe ;'
'' Though health and strength decay ;
Yea, though the Truth shall slay,
I will obey.'
OH ! sometimes when the solemn organ rolls
Its stream of sound down gray historic aisles ;
Or the full, high-pitched struggling symphony
Pursues the fleeting melody in vain :
Like a fawn through shadowy groves, or heroine
Voiced like a lark, pours out in burning song
Her love or grief; or when, to the rising stars
Linked village maidens chant the hymn of eve ;
Or Sabbath concourse, flushed and dewy-eyed
Booms its full bass ; or before tasks begun,
Fresh childish voices sanctify the morn :
My eyes grow full, my heart forgets to beat.
What is this mystic yearning fills my being ?
Hark ! the low music wakes, and soft and slow
Wanders at will through flowery fields of sound ;
Climbs gentle hills, and sinks in sunny vales,
And stoops to cull sweet way-side blooms, and weaves
A dainty garland ; then, grown tired, casts down
With careless hand the fragrant coronal,
And child-like sings itself to sleep.
The loud strain rises like a strong knight armed,
Battling with wrong ; or passionate seer of God
Scathing with tongue of fire the hollow shows,
The vain deceits of men ; or law-giver,
Parting in thunder from the burning hill
With face aflame j or with fierce rush of wings
And blazing brand, upon the crest of Sin,
The swift archangel swooping ; or the roll
Which follows on the lightning ; all are there
In that great hurry of sound.
And then the voice
Grows thinner like a lark's, and soars and soars,
And mounts in circles, higher, higher, higher,
Up to heaven's gate, and lo I the unearthly song
Thrills some fine inner chord, and the swift soul,
Eager and fluttering like a prisoned bird,
Breaks from its cage, and soars aloft to join
The enfranchised sound, and for a moment seems
To touch on some dim border-land of being,
Full of high thought and glorious enterprise
And vague creative fancies, till at length
Waxed grosser than the thin ethereal air,
It sinks to earth again.
And then a strain
Sober as is the tender voice of home,
Unbroken like a gracious life, and lo
Young children sit around me, and the love
I never knew is mine, and so my eyes
Grow full, and all my being is thrilled with tears.
What is this strange new life, this finer sense,
This passionate exaltation, which doth' force
Like the weird Indian juggler, instantly
My soul from seed to flower, from flower to fruit,
Which lifts me out of self, and bids me tread
Without a word, on dim aerial peaks,
Impossible else, and rise to glorious thoughts,
High hopes, and inarticulate fantasies
Denied to soberer hours ? No spoken thought
Of bard or seer can mount so far, or lift
The soul to such transcendent heights, or work
So strong a spell of love, or roll along
Such passionate troubled depths. No painter's hand
Can limn so clear, the luminous air serene
Of Paradise, the halcyon deep, the calm
Of the eternal snows, the eddy and whirl
Of mortal fight, the furious flood let loose
From interlacing hills, the storm which glooms
Over the shoreless sea. Our speech too oft
Is bound and fettered by such narrow laws,
That words which to one nation pierce the heart,
To another are but senseless sounds, or weak
And powerless to stir the soul ; but this
Speaks with a common tongue, uses a speech
Which all may understand, or if it bear
Some seeds of difference in it, only such
As separates gracious sisters, like in form,
But one by gayer fancies touched, and one
Rapt by sweet graver thoughts alone, and both
Mighty to reach the changing moods of the soul,
Or grave or gay, and though sometimes they be
Mated with unintelligible words,
Or feeble and unworthy, yet can lend
A charm to gild the worthless utterance,
And wing the sordid chrysalis to float
Amid the shining stars.
Oh strange sweet power,
Ineffable, oh gracious influence,
I know not whence thou art, but this
Thou boldest in thy hand the silver key
That can unlock the sacred fount of tears,
Which falling make life green ; the hidden spring
Of purer fancies and high sympathies ;
No mirth is thine, thou art too high for mirth,
Like Him who wept but 'smiled not *, mirth is born
On the low plains of thoughts bes' reached by words.
But those who scale the untrodden mountain peak,
Or sway upon the trembling spire, are far
From laughter ; so thy gracious power divine,
Not sad but solemn, stirs the well of tears,
But not mirth's shallow spring : tears are divine,
But mirth is of the earth, a creature born
Of careless youth and joyance ; satisfied
With that which is ; parched by no nobler thirst
For that which might be ; pained by no regret
For that which was, but is not : but for thee.
Oh, fair mysterious power, the whole great scheme
Lies open like a book ; and if the charm
Of its high beauty makes thee sometimes gay,
Yet 'tis an awful joy, so mixed with thought,
That even Mirth grows grave, and evermore
The myriad possibilities unfulfilled,
The problem of Creation, the immense
Impenetrable depths of thought, the vague
Perplexities of being, touch thy lips
And keep thee solemn always.
Oh, fair voice,
Oh virginal, sweet interpreter, reveal
Our inner selves to us, lay bare the springs,
The hidden depths of life, the high desires
Which lurk there unsuspected, the remorse
Which never woke before ; unclothe the soul
Of this its shroud of sense, and let it mount,
On the harmonious beat of thy light wings,
Up to those heights where life is so attuned,
So pure and self-concordant ; filled so deep
With such pervading beauty that no voice
Mars the unheard ineffable harmony,
And o'er white plain and breathless summit reigns
A silence sweeter than the sweetest sound.
Love In Death
DEAR heart ! what a little time it is since Francis and I used to walk
From church in the still June evenings together, busy with loving talk ;
And now he is gone, far away over seas, to some strange foreign country, and I
Shall never rise from my bed any more, till the day when I come to die.
I tried not to think of him during the prayers; but when his dear voice I heard,
I failed to take part in the hymn ; for my heart fluttered up to my throat like a bird,
And scarcely a word of the sermon I caught. I doubt 'twas a grievous sin;
But 'twas only one poor little hour in the week that I had to be happy in.
When the blessing was given, and we left the dim aisles for the light of the evening star ;
Though I durst not lift up my eyes from the ground, yet I knew that he was not far.
And I hurried on, though I fain would have stayed, till I heard his footstep draw near ;
And love rising up in my breast like a flame, cast out every shadow of fear.
Ah me ! 'twas a pleasant pathway home, a pleasant pathway and sweet ;
Ankle deep through the purple clover ; breast high 'mid the blossoming wheat ;
I can hear the landrails prate through the dew, and the night-jars' tremulous thrill,
And the nightingale pouring her passionate song from the hawthorn under the hill.
One day, when we came to the wicket gate, 'neath the elms, where we used to part,
His voice began to falter and break as he told me I had his heart.
And I whispered back that mine was his : we knew what we felt long ago ;
Six weeks are as long as a lifetime almost, when you love each other so.
So we put up the banns, and were man and wife, in the sweet fading time of the year,
And till Christmas was over and past, I knew no shadow of sorrow or fear.
It seems like a dream already, alas ! a sweet dream vanished and gone,
So hurried and brief while passing away, so long to look back upon.
I had only had him three little months, and the world lay frozen and dead,
When the summons came, which we feared and hoped, and he sailed over seas for our bread.
Ah, well ! it is fine to be wealthy and grand, and never to need to part ;
But 'tis better far to love and be poor than be rich with an empty heart.
Though I thought 'twould have killed me to lose him at first, yet was he not going for me ?
So I hid deep down in my breast all the grief, which I knew it would pain him to see.
He'd surely be back by the autumn, he said ; and since his last passionate kiss
He has scarcely been out of my thoughts, day or night, for a moment, from that day to this.
When I wrote to him how I thought it would be, and he answered so full of love,
Ah ! there was not an angel happier than I, in all the white chorus above.
And I seemed to be lonely no longer, the days and the weeks passed so swiftly away;
And the March winds died, and the sweet April showers gave place to the blossoms of May.
And then came the sad summer eve, when I sat with the little frock in the sun,
And Patience ran in with the news of the ship Ah, veil ! may His will be done.
They said that all hands were lost, and I swooned away on the floor like a stone ;
And another life came, ere I knew he was safe, and my own was over and gone.
* * * * * * *
And now I lie helpless here, and shall never rise up again ;
I grow weaker and weaker, day by day, till my weakness itself is a pain.
Every morning the slow dawn creeps ; every evening I see from my bed
The orange-gold fade into lifeless gray, and the old evening star overhead.
Sometimes by the twilight dim, or the awful birth of the day,
As I lie, very still, not asleep nor awake, my soul seems to flutter away ;
And I float far beyond the stars, till I thrill with a rapturous pain,
And the feeble touch of a tiny hand recalls me to life again.
And the doctor says she will live. Ah ! 'tis hard to leave her alone,
And to think she will never know, in the world, the love of the mother who's gone.
They will tell her of me, by-and-by, and perhaps she will shed me a tear ;
But if I should stoop to her bed in the night, she would start with a horrible fear.
She will grow into girlhood, I trust, and will bask in the light of love,
And I, if I gain to see her at all, shall only look on from above.
I shall see her and cannot aid, though she fall into evil and woe.
Ah, how can the angels find heart to rejoice, when they think of their dear ones below ?
And Francis, he too will forget me, and go on the journey of life ;
And I hope, though I dare not think of it yet, will take him another wife
It will hardly be Patience, I think, though she liked him in days gone by.
Was that why she came ? But what thoughts are these for one who is soon to die?
I hope he will come ere I go, though I feel no longer the thirst
For the sound of his voice and the light of his eye, which I used to feel at first.
!Tis not that I care for him less, but death dries, with a finger of fire,
The tender springs of innocent love and the torrents of strong desire.
And I know we shall meet again. I have done many things that are wrong,
But surely the Lord of Life and of Love cannot bear to be angry long.
I am only a girl of eighteen, and have had no teacher but love ;
And, it may be, the sorrow and pain I have known will be counted for tna above.
For I doubt if the minister knows all the depths of the goodness of God,
When he says, He is jealous of earthly love, and bids me bow down 'neath the rod.
He is learned and wise, I know, but somehow to dying eyes
God opens the secret doors of the shrine that are closed to the learned and wise.
So now I am ready to go, for I know He will do what is best,
Though He call me away while the sun is on high, like a child sent early to rest.
I should like him to see her first, though the yearning is over and past :
But what is that footstep upon the stair ? Oh, my darling at last, at last!
Ode On A Fair Spring Morning
COME, friend, let us forget
The turmoil of the world a little while,
For now the soft skies smile,
With dew the flowers are wet.
Let us away awhile
With fierce unrest and carking thoughts of care,
And breathe a little while the jocund air,
And sing the joyous measures sung
By blither singers, when the world was young.
For still the world is young, for still the spring
Renews itself, and still the lengthening hours
Bring back the month of flowers ;
The leaves are green to-day as those of old,
For Chaucer and for Shakspeare ; still the gold
Of August gilds the rippling waves of wheat;
Young maids are fair and sweet
As when they frolicked gay, with flashing feet,
Round the old May-pole. All young things rejoice.
No sorrow dulls the blackbird's mellow voice,
Thro' the clear summer dawns or twilights long.
With aspect not more dim
Thro' space the planets swim
Than of old time o'er the Chaldean plain.
We only, we alone,
Let jarring discords mar our song.
And find our music take a lower tone.
We only with dim eyes
And laboured vision feebly strain,
And flout the undying splendours of the skies.
Oh, see how glorious show,
On this fair morn in May, the clear-cut hills,
The dewy lawns, the hawthorn's white,
Argent on fields of gold ; the growing light
Pure as when first on the young earth
The faint warm sunlight came to birth ;
There is a nameless air
Of sweet renewal over all which fills
The earth and sky with life, and everywhere
Before the new-born sun begins to glow,
The birds awake which slumhered all night long,
And with a gush of song,
First doubting of their strain, then full and wide
Raise their fresh hymns thro' all the country side;
Already, above the dewy clover,
The soaring lark begins to hover
Over his mate's low nest ;
And soon, from childhood's early rest
In hall and cottage, to the casement rise
The little ones with their fresh opened eyes,
And gaze on the old Earth, which still grows new,
And see the tranquil heaven's unclouded blue,
And, since as yet no sight nor sound of toil
The fair spread, peaceful picture comes to soil,
Look with their young and steadfast gaze
Fixed in such artless sweet amaze
As Adam knew, when first on either hand
He saw the virgin landscapes of the morning land.
Oh, youth, dawn, springtide, triune miracle,
Renewing life in earth, and sky, and man,
By what eternal plan
Dost thou revive again and yet again ?
There is no morn that breaks,
No bud that bursts, no life that comes to birth,
But the rapt fancy takes,
Far from the duller plains of mind and earth,
Up to the source and origin of things,
Where, poised on brooding wings,
It seems to hover o'er the immense inane,
And see the suns, like feeble rings of light,
Orb from the gray, and all the youngling globe
A coil of vapour circling like a dream,
Then fixed compact for ever ; the first beam
Strike on the dark and undivided sea,
And wake the deeps with life. Oh, mystery
That still dost baffle thought,
Though by all sages sought,
And yet art daily done
With each returning sun,
With every dawn which reddens in the skies,
With every opening of awakened eyes !
How shall any dare to hold
That the fair world growing old,
Hath spent in vanished time
The glories of its prime ?
Beautiful were the days indeed
Of the Pagan's simple creed,
When all of life was made for girl and boy,
And all religion was but to enjoy.
The fair chivalric dream
To some may glorious seem,
When from the sleeping centuries,
Awakened Europe seemed to rise ;
It may be that we cannot know,
In these ripe years, the glory and the glow
Of those young hours of time, and careless days,
Borne down too much by knowledge, and opprest,
To halt a little for the needed rest,
And yield ourselves awhile to joy and praise ;
Yet every year doth bring
With each recurrence of the genial hour
The infancy of spring,
Crowned with unfolding leaf and bursting flower,
And still to every home
Fresh childish voices come,
And eyes that opened last in Paradise,
And with each rosy dawn
Are night and death withdrawn ;
Another world rises for other eyes ;
Again begins the joy, the stress, the strife,
Ancient as time itself, and wide as life.
We are the ancients of the world indeed ;
No more the simple creed,
When every hill and stream and grove
Was filled with shy divinities of love,
Allures us, serving as our King
A Lord of grief and suffering.
Too much our wisdom burdens to permit
The fair, thin visions of the past, to flit
From shade to shade, or float from hill to hill.
We are so compassed round by ill,
That all the music of our lives is dumb,
Amid the turbulent waves of sound that rise,
The discord born of doubts, and tears, and sighs,
Which daily to the listening ear do come ;
Nay, oft, confounded by the incessant noise
Of vast world-engines, grinding law on law,
We lose the godhead that our fathers saw,
And all our higher joys,
And bear to plod on daily, deaf and blind,
To a dark goal we dare not hope to find.
But grows the world then old ?
Nay, all things that are born of time
Spring upwards, and expand from youth to prime,
Ripen from flower to fruit,
From song-tide till the days are mute,
Green blade to ear of gold.
But not the less through the eternal round
The sleep of winter wakes in days of spring,
And not the less the bare and frozen ground
Grows blithe with blooms that burst and birds that sing.
Nature is deathless ; herb and tree,
Through time that has been and shall be,
Change not, although the outward form
Seem now the columned palm
Nourished in zones of calm,
And now the gnarled oak that defies the storm.
The cedar's thousand summers are no more
To her than are the fleeting petals gay
Which the young spring, ere March is o'er,
Scarce offered, takes away.
Eternal arc her works. Unchanging she,
Alike in short-lived flower and everchanging sea.
We, too, are deathless ; we,
Eternal as the Earth,
We cannot cease to be
While springtide comes or birth.
If our being cease to hold
Reflected lights divine
On budding lives, with every morn they shine
With unabated gold.
Though lost it may be to our mortal sight,
It cannot be that any perish quite
Only the baser part forgets to be.
And if within the hidden Treasury
Of the great Ruler we awhile should rest,
To issue with a higher stamp imprest,
With all our baser alloy purged and spent,
Were we not thus content?
Our thoughts too mighty are
To be within our span of years confined,
Too deep and wide and far,
The hopes, the fears, that crowd the labouring mind,
The sorrows that oppress
The sanctities that bless,
Are vaster than this petty stage of things.
The soaring fancy mounts on careless wings
Beyond the glimmer of the furthest star.
The nightly watcher who with patient eye
Scans the illumined sky,
Knows when the outward rushing fire shall turn,
And in far ages hence shall brightly burn
For eyes to-day undreamt of. The clear voice
From Greece or Israel thro' the centuries heard
Still bids us tremble or rejoice,
Stronger than living look or word ;
The love of home or race,
Which doth transfigure us, and seems to bring
On every heaven-lit face
Some shadow of the glory of our King,
Fades not on earth, nor with our years doth end ;
Nay, even earth's poor physical powers transcend
The narrow bounds of space and time,
The swift thought by some mystic sympathy
Speeding through desert sand, and storm-tost sea.
And shall we hold the range of mind
Is to our little lives confined ;
That the pure heart in some blest sphere above,
Loves not which here was set on fire of love ;
The clear eye scans not still, which here could scan
The confines of the Universal plan ;
The seer nor speaks nor thinks his thoughts sublime,
And all of Homer is a speck of lime ?
Nay, friend, let us forget
Our haunting doubts and fears a little while,
Again our springs shall smile ;
We shall not perish yet.
If God so guide our fate,
The nobler portions of ourselves shall last
Till all the lower rounds of life be past,
And we, regenerate.
We too again shall rise,
The same and not the same,
As daily rise upon the orient skies
New dawns with wheels of flame.
So, if it worthy prove,
Our being, self-perfected, shall upward move
To higher essence, and still higher grown,
Not sweeping idle harps before a throne,
Nor spending praise where is no need of praise,
But through unnumbered lives and ages come
From pure laborious days,
To an eternal home,
Where spring is not, nor birth, nor any dawn,
But life's full noontide never is withdrawn.
I MAY not scorn, I cannot prize
Those whose quick-coming fancies rise
Only in quaint disguise
Some trick of speech, or mien, or dress,
Some obsolete uncomeliness,
Some ancient wickedness.
Strange words antique for tilings not strange,
Like broken tower and mould'ring grange,
Made fair through time and change.
Legends of knight, and squire, and dame,
With this our common life the same
In glory and in shame.
Mean lives and narrow aims which owe
The glamour and the charm they show
To that strange 'Long ago;'
Nay, meaner, lower than our own,
Because To-day is wider grown,
Knows deeper, and is known.
I doubt if anything there be
Which best thro' mask of chivalry,
Reveals myself to me ;
Myself, its yearnings and desires,
Its glimpses of supernal fires,
The something which aspires ;
Myself, the thing of blot and stain,
Which fallen, rises, falls again,
A mystery of pain ;
Myself, the toiler slow to earn,
The thinker sowing words that burn,
The sensuous in turn,
The vanquished, the disgraced, the saint,
Now free as air, now bound and faint,
By everyday constraint.
Or, if too near the present lies
For common brains and common eyes
To probe its mysteries.
If feeble fancy fails to tear
The outer husk of fact, and bare
The seed to vital air,
But too extended, too immense,
Life's orb a vast circumference
Stretches for mortal sense ;
If simpler shows the past, more fair,
Set in a pure and luminous air,
Not dimmed by mists of care,
Seeming to breathe a lighter strain
Of lutes and lyres where none complain
With undertones of pain ;
If haply there we seem to view
Ourselves, behind a veil, yet true
The germ from which we grew ;
Not less our duty and our pride
Forbid to leave unsought, untried,
The glories at our side.
What ? shall the limner only paint
Blue hills with adumbrations faint,
Or misty aureoled saint,
And scorn to ponder flower or tree,
Ripe fields, child-faces, summer sea,
And all fair things that be ;
Nor care thro' passion's endless play,
Our living brethren to portray,
Who fare to doom to-day,
When the sun's finger deigns to trace
Each line and feature of man's face,
Its beauty and disgrace ?
Or shall the skilled musician dare
Only to sound some jocund air
Arcadian, free from care,
Round whom in strains that scorn control
The mighty diapasons roll,
That speak from soul to soul ;
Our mystical modern music deep,
Not piped by shepherds to their sheep,
But wrung from souls that weep ;
Where seldom melody is heard,
Nor simple woodland note of bird,
So deep a depth is stirred,
Such blended harmonies divine
Across the core of sweetness twine
As round the grape the vine ?
Or shall some false cold dream of art
Corrupt the voice and chill the heart,
And turn us from our part,
Blot out the precious lesson won
From all the ages past and done,
That bard and seer are one ?
Dull creed of earthy souls ! who tell
That, be the song of heaven or hell,
Who truly sings, sings well,
And with the same encomiums greet
The satyr baring brutish feet,
And pure child-angels sweet ;
Whose praise in equal meed can share
The Mcenad with distempered hair,
The cold Madonna fair.
Great singers of the past ! whose song
Still streams down earthward pure and strong,
Free from all stain of wron'.
Whose lives were chequered, but whose verse
The generations still rehearse ;
Yet never soul grew worse.
What is it that these would ? shall I,
Born late in time, consent to lie
In the old misery ?
I who have learnt that flesh is dust,
What gulfs dissever love from lust,
The wrongful from the just-
Put on again the rags of sense,
A Pagan without innocence,
A Christian in offence ?
Perish the thought ! I am to-day
What God and Time have made me; they
Have ordered, I obey.
And day by day the labouring earth
Whirls on glad mysteries of birth,
Sad death throes, sorrow, mirth,
Youth's flower just bursting into bloom,
Wan age, a sun which sets in gloom,
The cradle, and the tomb ;
These are around me hope and fear,
Not fables, but alive and near,
Fresh smile and scarce-dried tear ;
These are around me, these I sing,
These, these of every thought and thing,
My verse shall heavenward wing.
The sun but seems to kiss the hill,
And all the vast eternal Will
Is moving, working, still
God is, Truth lives, and overhead
Behold a visible glory spread ;
Only the past is dead.
Courage ! arise ; if hard it seem
To sing the present, yet we deem
'Tis worthier than a dream.
Awake, arise, for to the bold
The seeming desert comes to hold
Blossoms of white and gold.
* * * *
Shall I then choose to take my side
With those who love their thoughts to hide
In vague abstractions wide ?
Whose dim verse struggles to recall
The hopes, the fears that rise and fall
Deep in the souls of all.
Who fitly choose a fitting theme.
Not things which neither are nor seem,
No visionary dream,
But the great psalm of life, the long
Harmonious confluence of song,
Thro' all the ages strong,
But grown to wider scale to-day,
And sweeping fuller chords than they
Knew who have passed away.
A worthy theme for worthy bard
But all too often blurred and marred
By intonations hard.
So that the common eye and ear
Can dimly see and faintly hear
What should be bright and clear.
Who wing the fiery thought so high,
An arrow shot into the sky,
Its failing forces die,
And all the straining eye discerns
Is but a spark which feebly burns,
Then quenched to earth returns,
Or with a borrowed lyre devote
Hoarse accent and untuneful throat
To sound a difficult note,
By currents of conflicting thought,
And counter themes which rise unsought,
And jangling chords distraught.
Not song, but science, sign not sound,
Not soaring to high heaven, but bound
Fast to the common ground.
Who with a pitiless skill dissect
What secret sources, vexed and checked,
Surge upward in effect,
And trace in endless struggling rhyme
How hearts forlorn of love and time
Have rotted into crime.
Or those who, baffled and opprest
By life's incessant fierce unrest,
Where naught that is seems best,
Assail the tyrant, lash the wrong,
Till but a wild invective long,
Is left in lieu of song.
Most precious all, yet this is sure,
The song which longest shall endure
Is simple, sweet, and pure.
Not psychologic riddles fine,
Not keen analysis, combine
In verse we feel divine.
Nor fierce o'erbalanced rage alone,
Which mars the rhyme, and dulls the tone
They may not sing who groan ;
But a sweet cadence, wanting much
Of depth, perhaps, and fire, but such
As finer souls can touch,
To finer issues ; such as come
To him who far afield must roam,
Thinking old thoughts of home.
Or who in Sabbath twilights hears
His children lisp a hymn, and fears
Lest they should see his tears.
Wherefore, my soul, if song be thine,
If any gleam of things divine
Thro' thee may dimly shine,
If ever any faintest note
Of far-off sweetness swell thy throat,
True echo tho' remote,
This is my task, to sing To-day,
Not dead years past and fled away,
But this alone To-day.
Or if I pause a little space
Striving, across the gulf, to trace
Some fine, forgotten face
Some monarch of the race whose name
Still lives upon the lips of fame,
Touched by no stain ofshame ;
Some sweet old love-tale, ever young,
Which of old time the burning tongue
Of god -like bard has sung ;
Some meed of effort nobly won,
Some more than human task begun,
Precious though left undone ;
Some awful story, strong to show
How passions unrestricted flow
Into a sea of woe ;
Not less my powers I strive to bend,
Not less my song aspires to tend
To one unchanging end,
By lofty aspirations, stirred
Thro' homely music, daily heard,
Trite phrase and common word,
Simple, but holding at the core
Thoughts which strange speech and varied lore
Have hid from men before.
To lift how little howsoe'er
The hearts of toilers struggling here,
In joyless lives and sere.
To make a little lighter yet
Their lives by daily ills beset,
Whom men and laws forget.
To sing, if sing I must, of love
As a pure spell, with power to move
Dull hearts to things above.
But choosing rather to portray
The warring tides of thought which stray
Thro' doubting souls to-day.
Or if at times, with straining eye
And voice, I dwell on things which lie
Hidden in Futurity,
And strive to tell in halting rhyme
The glorious dawn, the golden prime,
The victories of Time,
The race transfigured, wrong redressed,
None worn with labour, nor oppressed,
But peace for all and rest,
And knowledge throwing wide the shrine
From whose broad doorways seems to shine
An effluence Divine ;
If of these visions fain to dream,
Not less I hold, whate'er may seem,
The Present for my theme,
The vain regret remembering,
Which lost occasion knows to bring,
Afraid, yet bound, to sing.