Great God!
Greater than greatest! better than the best!
Kinder than kindest! with soft pity's eye
Look down -
On a poor breathing particle of dust!
Or, lower, - an immortal in his crimes.
His crimes forgive, forgive his virtues too!
Those smaller faults, half converts to the right.

by Edward Young.

Remorse - Is Memory - Awake -

Remorse - is Memory - awake -
Her Parties all astir -
A Presence of Departed Acts -
At window - and at Door -

Its Past - set down before the Soul
And lighted with a Match -
Perusal - to facilitate -
And help Belief to stretch -

Remorse is cureless - the Disease
Not even God - can heal -
For 'tis His institution - and
The Adequate of Hell -

by Emily Dickinson.

Remorse For Intemperate Speech

I RANTED to the knave and fool,
But outgrew that school,
Would transform the part,
Fit audience found, but cannot rule
My fanatic heart.
I sought my betters: though in each
Fine manners, liberal speech,
Turn hatred into sport,
Nothing said or done can reach
My fanatic heart,
Out of Ireland have we come.
Great hatred, little room,
Maimed us at the start.
I carry from my mother's womb
A fanatic heart.

by William Butler Yeats.

The Main Regret

[Written for the Charing Cross Album]

I.

Seen, too clear and historic within us, our sins of omission
Frown when the Autumn days strike us all ruthlessly bare.
They of our mortal diseases find never healing physician;
Errors they of the soul, past the one hope to repair.

II.

Sunshine might we have been unto seed under soil, or have scattered
Seed to ascendant suns brighter than any that shone.
Even the limp-legged beggar a sick desperado has flattered
Back to a half-sloughed life cheered by the mere human tone.

by George Meredith.

Like the ghost of a dear friend dead
Is Time long past.
A tone which is now forever fled,
A hope which is now forever past,
A love so sweet it could not last,
Was Time long past.

There were sweet dreams in the night
Of Time long past:
And, was it sadness or delight,
Each day a shadow onward cast
Which made us wish it yet might last--
That Time long past.

There is regret, almost remorse,
For Time long past.
'Tis like a child's belovèd corse
A father watches, till at last
Beauty is like remembrance, cast
From Time long past.

by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Sad is the thought of sunniest days
Of love and rapture perished,
And shine through memory's tearful haze
The eyes once fondliest cherished.
Reproachful is the ghost of toys
That charmed while life was wasted.
But saddest is the thought of joys
That never yet were tasted.

Sad is the vague and tender dream
Of dead love's lingering kisses,
To crushed hearts haloed by the gleam
Of unreturning blisses;
Deep mourns the soul in anguished pride
For the pitiless death that won them,
But the saddest wail is for lips that died
With the virgin dew upon them.

by John Hay.

The New Remorse

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

by Oscar Wilde.

MAGIC for fitful souls whose aim is still
Pleasures that forfeit not the mansions blest,
Who deem themselves absolved to approve the best .
While they, protesting hate, pursue the ill;
Who lack strength to attain or else lack will
To keep what was their will's supreme behest;
Daring in dreams but fearful of the test
When Time and Fate their dearest wish fulfil.
I will not taste of thy pale anodyne;
I will not alter, listening to a voice
That tells me joys immortal may be mine
Were I but traitor to my clearest choice.
Courage I count above all gifts of thine ­
Courage or to refrain or to rejoice.

by Alice Duer Miller.

The House Of Regret

It is not that I now were happier
If with the dawn my tireless feet were led
Along her path, till I saw her fair head
Thrown back to make the sunshine goldener:
For it is well, sometimes, the things that were

Are over, ere their perfectness hath fled;
Lest the old love of them should fade instead,
And lie like ruins round the throne of her.
Now with the wisdom of increasing years
I know each ancient joy a cup for tears;


Yet had I drunk, while they were draughts to praise,
Deeper, I were not now as men that grow
Old, and sit gazing out across the snow
To dream sad dreams of wasted summer days

by Francis Joseph Sherman.

There is a haunting phantom called Regret,
A shadowy creature robed somewhat like woe,
But fairer in the face, whom all men know
By her said mien, and eyes forever wet.
No heart would seek her; but once having met
All take her by the hand, and to and fro
They wander through those paths of long ago-
Those hallowed ways 'twere wiser to forget.

One day she led me to that lost land's gate
And bade me enter; but I answered 'No!
I will pass on with my bold comrade Fate;
I have no tears to waste on thee- no time-
My strength I hoard for heights I hope to climb,
No friend art thou, for souls that would be great.'

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Sonnet, To Genevra

Thine eyes' blue tenderness, thy long fair hair,
And the wan lustre of thy features­ caught
From contemplation-where serenely wrought,
Seems Sorrow's softness charm'd from its despair--
Have thrown such speaking sadness in thine air
That--but I know thy blessed bosom fraught
With mines of unalloy'd and stainless thought--
I should have deem'd thee doom'd to earthly care.
With such an aspect, by his colours blent,
When from his beauty-breathing pen­cil born
(Except that thou hast nothing to repent),
The Magdalen of Guido saw the morn--
Such seem'st thou--but how much more excellent!
With nought Remorse can claim--nor Virtue scorn.

December 17, 1813.

by George Gordon Byron.

There's a regret that from my bosom aye
Wrings forth a dirgy sweetness, like a rain
Of deathward love; that ever in my brain
Uttereth such tones as in some foregone way
Seem gathered from the harmonies that start
Into the dayspring, when some rarest view
Unveileth its Tempèan grace anew
To meet the sun—the great world’s fervent heart.
’Tis that, though living in his tuneful day,
My boyhood might not see the gentle smile,
Nor hear the voice of Shelley; that away
His soul had journeyed, ere I might beguile
In my warm youth, by some fraternal lay,
One thought of his towards this may native isle.

by Charles Harpur.

In Memoriam A. H. H.: Is It, Then, Regret For Buried Time

Is it, then, regret for buried time
That keenlier in sweet April wakes,
And meets the year, and gives and takes
The colours of the crescent prime?
Not all: the songs, the stirring air,
The life re-orient out of dust,
Cry thro' the sense to hearten trust
In that which made the world so fair.
Not all regret: the face will shine
Upon me, while I muse alone;
And that dear voice, I once have known,
Still speak to me of me and mine:

Yet less of sorrow lives in me
For days of happy commune dead;
Less yearning for the friendship fled,
Than some strong bond which is to be.

by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Build on resolve, and not upon regret,
The structure of thy future. Do not grope
Among the shadows of old sins, but let
Thine own soul’s light shine on the path of hope
And dissipate the darkness. Waste no tears
Upon the blotted record of lost years,
But turn the leaf, and smile, oh! smile, to see
The fair white pages that remain for thee.

Prate not of thy repentance. But believe
The spark divine dwells in thee: let it grow.
That which the unpreaching spirit can achieve,
The grand and all creative forces know;
They will assist and strengthen as the light
Lifts up the acorn to the oak-tree’s height.
Thou hast but to resolve, and lo! God’s whole
Great universe shall fortify thy soul.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

When I am tired, and old and worn,
And harass'd by regret;
When blame, reproach, and worldlings' scorn
On every side are met;
When I have lived long years in vain
And found Life's garlands rue,
Maybe I'll come back again -
At last - at last - to you!


When all the joys and all the zest
Of youthful years have fled,
Maybe that I shall leave the rest
And turn to you instead;
For you, Dear Heart, would never spurn
(With condemnation due!)
If, at the close of all, I turn
Homeward - at last - to you!


When other faces turn away,
And lighter loves have passed;
When life is weary, cold, and gray -
I may come back - at last!
When cares, remorse, regrets are rife -
Too late to live anew -
In the sad twilight of my life
I will come back - to you!

by Harry 'Breaker' Harbord Morant.

The Death Of Regret

I opened my shutter at sunrise,
And looked at the hill hard by,
And I heartily grieved for the comrade
Who wandered up there to die.


I let in the morn on the morrow,
And failed not to think of him then,
As he trod up that rise in the twilight,
And never came down again.


I undid the shutter a week thence,
But not until after I'd turned
Did I call back his last departure
By the upland there discerned.


Uncovering the casement long later,
I bent to my toil till the gray,
When I said to myself, 'Ah - what ails me,
To forget him all the day!'


As daily I flung back the shutter
In the same blank bald routine,
He scarcely once rose to remembrance
Through a month of my facing the scene.


And ah, seldom now do I ponder
At the window as heretofore
On the long valued one who died yonder,
And wastes by the sycamore.

by Thomas Hardy.

Remorse: A Fragment

OF all the numerous ills that hurt our peace,
That press the soul, or wring the mind with anguish
Beyond comparison the worst are those
By our own folly, or our guilt brought on:
In ev'ry other circumstance, the mind
Has this to say, "It was no deed of mine:"
But, when to all the evil of misfortune
This sting is added, "Blame thy foolish self!"
Or worser far, the pangs of keen remorse,
The torturing, gnawing consciousness of guilt—
Of guilt, perhaps, when we've involvèd others,
The young, the innocent, who fondly lov'd us;
Nay more, that very love their cause of ruin!
O burning hell! in all thy store of torments
There's not a keener lash!
Lives there a man so firm, who, while his heart
Feels all the bitter horrors of his crime,
Can reason down its agonizing throbs;
And, after proper purpose of amendment,
Can firmly force his jarring thoughts to peace?
O happy, happy, enviable man!
O glorious magnanimity of soul!

by Robert Burns.

Remorse. (From August Von Platen)

How I started up in the night, in the night,
Drawn on without rest or reprieval!
The streets, with their watchmen, were lost to my sight,
As I wandered so light
In the night, in the night,
Through the gate with the arch mediaeval.

The mill-brook rushed from the rocky height,
I leaned o'er the bridge in my yearning;
Deep under me watched I the waves in their flight,
As they glided so light
In the night, in the night,
Yet backward not one was returning.

O'erhead were revolving, so countless and bright,
The stars in melodious existence;
And with them the moon, more serenely bedight;--
They sparkled so light
In the night, in the night,
Through the magical, measureless distance.

And upward I gazed in the night, in the night,
And again on the waves in their fleeting;
Ah woe! thou hast wasted thy days in delight,
Now silence thou light,
In the night, in the night,
The remorse in thy heart that is beating.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

There's A Regret

There's a regret
So grinding, so immitigably sad,
Remorse thereby feels tolerant, even glad. ...
Do you not know it yet?

For deeds undone
Rnakle and snarl and hunger for their due,
Till there seems naught so despicable as you
In all the grin o' the sun.

Like an old shoe
The sea spurns and the land abhors, you lie
About the beach of Time, till by and by
Death, that derides you too --

Death, as he goes
His ragman's round, espies you, where you stray,
With half-an-eye, and kicks you out of his way
And then -- and then, who knows

But the kind Grave
Turns on you, and you feel the convict Worm,
In that black bridewell working out his term,
Hanker and grope and crave?

"Poor fool that might --
That might, yet would not, dared not, let this be,
Think of it, here and thus made over to me
In the implacable night!"

And writhing, fain
And like a triumphing lover, he shall take,
His fill where no high memory lives to make
His obscene victory vain.

by William Ernest Henley.

The Men We Might Have Been

When God's wrath-cloud is o'er me,
Affrighting heart and mind;
When days seem dark before me,
And days seem black behind;
Those friends who think they know me --
Who deem their insight keen --
They ne'er forget to show me
The man I might have been.

He's rich and independent,
Or rising fast to fame;
His bright star is ascendant,
The country knows his name;
His houses and his gardens
Are splendid to be seen;
His fault the wise world pardons --
The man I might have been.

His fame and fortune haunt me;
His virtues wave me back;
His name and prestige daunt me
When I would take the track;
But you, my friend true-hearted --
God keep our friendship green! --
You know how I was parted
From all I might have been.

But what avails the ache of
Remorse or weak regret?
We'll battle for the sake of
The men we might be yet!
We'll strive to keep in sight of
The brave, the true, and clean,
And triumph yet in spite of
The men we might have been.

by Henry Lawson.

Long ago I wished to leave
" The house where I was born; "
Long ago I used to grieve,
My home seemed so forlorn.
In other years, its silent rooms
Were filled with haunting fears;
Now, their very memory comes
O'ercharged with tender tears.

Life and marriage I have known,
Things once deemed so bright;
Now, how utterly is flown
Every ray of light !
'Mid the unknown sea of life
I no blest isle have found;
At last, through all its wild wave's strife,
My bark is homeward bound.

Farewell, dark and rolling deep !
Farewell, foreign shore !
Open, in unclouded sweep,
Thou glorious realm before !
Yet, though I had safely pass'd
That weary, vexed main,
One loved voice, through surge and blast,
Could call me back again.

Though the soul's bright morning rose
O'er Paradise for me,
William ! even from Heaven's repose
I'd turn, invoked by thee !
Storm nor surge should e'er arrest
My soul, exulting then:
All my heaven was once thy breast,
Would it were mine again !

by Charlotte Brontë.

How David, when by sin deceived,
From bad to worse went on!
For when the Holy Spirit's grieved,
Our strength and guard are gone.

His eye on Bathsheba once fixed,
With poison filled his soul;
He ventured on adult'ry next,
And murder crowned the whole.

So from a spark of fire at first,
That has not been descried;
A dreadful flame has often burst,
And ravaged far and wide.

When sin deceives it hardens too,
For though he vainly fought
To hide his crimes from public view,
Of God he little thought.

He neither would, or could repent,
No true compunction felt;
'Till God in mercy Nathan sent,
His stubborn heart to melt.

The parable held forth a fact,
Designed his case to show;
But though the picture was exact,
Himself he did not know.

Thou art the man, the prophet said,
That word his slumber broke;
And when he owned his sin, and prayed,
The Lord forgiveness spoke.

Let those who think they stand beware,
For David stood before;
Nor let the fallen soul despair,
For mercy can restore.

by John Newton.

Ballade Of Roulette

This life--one was thinking to-day,
In the midst of a medley of fancies -
Is a game, and the board where we play
Green earth with her poppies and pansies.
Let manque be faded romances,
Be passe remorse and regret;
Hearts dance with the wheel as it dances -
The wheel of Dame Fortune's roulette.

The lover will stake as he may
His heart on his Peggies and Nancies;
The girl has her beauty to lay;
The saint has his prayers and his trances;
The poet bets endless expanses
In Dreamland; the scamp has his debt:
How they gaze at the wheel as it glances -
The wheel of Dame Fortune's roulette!

The Kaiser will stake his array
Of sabres, of Krupps, and of lances;
An Englishman punts with his pay,
And glory the jeton of France is;
Your artists, or Whistlers or Vances,
Have voices or colours to bet;
Will you moan that its motion askance is -
The wheel of Dame Fortune's roulette?

ENVOY.

The prize that the pleasure enhances?
The prize is--at last to forget
The changes, the chops, and the chances -
The wheel of Dame Fortune's roulette.

by Andrew Lang.

Jesus To The Soul Savonarola

Air Soul, created in the primal hour,
Once pure and grand,
And for whose sake I left my throne and power
At God’s right hand
By this sad heart, pierced through because I love thee
Let love and mercy to contrition move thee.
Cast off the sins thy holy beauty veiling,
Spirit divine!
Vain against thee the host of hell assailing
My strength is thine.
Drink from my side the wine of life immortal,
And love will lead thee back to Heaven’s portal.
Quench in my light the flame of low desire,
Crush doubt and fear;
Even to my glory may each soul aspire,
If victor here.
Die now to earth, with earthly vanity,
And live for evermore in Heaven with me.

I, for thy sake, was pierced with many sorrows,
And bore the Cross;
Yet heeding not the galling of the arrows,
The shame or loss.
So, faint not thou, whate’er the burden be,
Bear with it bravely, even to Calvary.
Still shall my spirit urge if thou delayest,
My hand sustain;
My blood wash out thy errors if thou strayest
Plead I in vain?
An hour is coming when the judgment loometh;
Repent, fair soul, ere yet that hour cometh.

by Lady Jane Wilde.

Repentance And Reconciliation

JANE.
Mamma is displeased and looks very grave,
And I own, brother, I was to blame
Just now when I told her I wanted to have,
Like Miss Lydia, a very fine name.
'Twas foolish, for, Robert, Jane sounds very well,
When mamma says, 'I love my good Jane.'
I've been lately so naughty, I hardly can tell
If she ever will say so again.


ROBERT.
We are each of us foolish, and each of us young,
And often in fault and to blame.
Jane, yesterday I was too free with my tongue,
I acknowledge it now to my shame.
For a speech in my good mother's hearing I made,
Which reflected upon her whole sex;
And now like you, Jenny, I am much afraid
That this might my dear mother vex.


JANE.
But yet, brother Robert, 'twas not quite so bad
As that naughty reflection of mine,
When I grumbled because Liddy Bellenger had
Dolls and dresses expensive and fine.
For then 'twas of her, her own self, I complained;
Since mamma does provide all I have.


MOTHER.
Your repentance, my children, I see is unfeigned,
You are now my good Robert, and now my good Jane;
And if you will never be naughty again,
Your fond mother will never look grave.

by Charles Lamb.

Lord, I confess my sin is great;
Great is my sin. Oh! gently treat
With thy quick flow'r, thy momentany bloom;
Whose life still pressing
Is one undressing,
A steady aiming at a tomb.

Man's age is two hours' work, or three:
Each day doth round about us see.
Thus are we to delights: but we are all
To sorrows old,
If life be told
From what life feeleth, Adam's fall.

O let thy height of mercy then
Compassionate short-breathed men.
Cut me not off for my most foul transgression:
I do confess
My foolishness;
My God, accept of my confession.

Sweeten at length this bitter bowl,
Which thou hast pour'd into my soul;
Thy wormwood turn to health, winds to fair weather:
For if thou stay,
I and this day,
As we did rise, we die together.

When thou for sin rebukest man,
Forthwith he waxeth woe and wan:
Bitterness fills our bowels; all our hearts
Pine, and decay,
And dropp away,
And carry with them th'other parts.

But thou wilt sin and grief destroy;
That so the broken bones may joy,
And tune together in a well-set song,
Full of his praises,
Who dead men raises;
Fractures well cur'd make us more strong.

by George Herbert.

The Belle's Soliloquy

Heigh Ho! Well, the season’s over!
Once again we’ve come to Lent!
Programme’s changes from balls and parties –
Now we’re ordered to repent.
Forty days of self-denial!
Tell you what, I think it pays –
Know’t’l freshen my complexion
Going slow for forty days.

No more savoury French suppers –
Such as Madame R- can give.
Well, I need a little thinning –
Just a trifle – sure’s you live!
Sometimes been afraid my plumpness
Might grow into downright fat.
Rector urges need of fasting –
Think there’s lot of truth in that.

We must meditate, he tells us,
On our several acts of sin,
And repent them. Let me see now –
Whereabouts shall I begin!
Flirting – yes, they say ‘tis wicked;
Well, I’m awful penitent.
(Wonder if my handsome major
Goes to early Mass though Lent?)

Love of dress! I’m guilty there too –
Guess it’s my besetting sin.
Still I’m somewhat like the lillies,
For I neither toil or spin.
Forty days I’ll wear my plainest –
Could repentance be more true?
What a saving on my dresses!
They’ll make over just like new.

Pride, and worldliness and all that,
Rector bade us pray about
Every day through Lenten season,
And I mean to be devout!
Papa always talks entrenchment –
Lent is just the very thing.
Hope he’ll get enough in pocket
So we’ll move up town next spring.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

SOFTLY Death touched her and she passed away
Out of this glad, bright world she made more fair,
Sweet as the apple-blossoms, when in May
The orchards flush, of summer grown aware.

All that fresh delicate beauty gone from sight,
That gentle, gracious presence felt no more!
How must the house be emptied of delight,
What shadows on the threshold she passed o’er!

She loved me. Surely I was grateful, yet
I could not give her back all she gave me, —
Ever I think of it with vain regret,
Musing upon a summer by the sea;

Remembering troops of merry girls who pressed
About me, — clinging arms and tender eyes,
And love, like scent of roses. With the rest
She came to fill my heart with new surprise.

The day I left them all and sailed away,
While o’er the calm sea, ‘neath the soft gray sky
They waved farewell, she followed me, to say
Yet once again her wistful, sweet “good by.”

At the boat’s bow she drooped; her light green dress
Swept o’er the skiff in many a graceful fold,
Her glowing face, bright with a mute caress,
Crowned with her lovely hair of shadowy gold:

And tears she dropped into the crystal brine
For me, unworthy, as we slowly swung
Free of the mooring. Her last look was mine,
Seeking me still the motley crowd among.

O tender memory of the dead I hold
So precious through the fret and change of years
Were I to live till Time itself grew old,
The sad sea would be sadder for those tears.

by Celia Thaxter.

Regret For The Departure Of Friends

As smoke from a volcano soars in the air,
The soul of man discontent mounts from a sigh,
Exhaled as to heaven in mystical prayer,
Invoking that love which forbids him to die.

Sweet hope, lovely passion, my grief ever chase,
And scatter the gloom which veils pleasure's bright ray,
O lend me thy wings, and assist me to trace
The flight of my fair one when gone far away.

When the dim star of pleasure sets glimmering alone,
The planet of beauty on life's dreary shore,
And th' fair bird of fancy forever is flown,
On pinions of haste to be heard of no more.

Hope, tell me, dear passion, thou wilt not forget,
To flourish still sweetly and blossom as gay,
Expelling like morning the gloom of regret,
When the lark of affection is gone far away.

If hurried into some unchangeable clime,
Where oceans of pleasure continually roll,
Far, far from the limited borders of time,
With a total division of body and soul.

Hope, tell me, dear passion, which must earth survive,
That love will be sweeter when nature is o'er,
And still without pain though eternity live,
In the triumph of pleasure when time is no more.

O love, when the day-light of pleasure shall close,
Let the vesper of death break on life's dusky even;
Let the faint sun of time set in peace as it rose,
And eternity open thy morning in heaven.

Then hope, lovely passion, thy torch shall expire,
Effusing on nature life's last feeble ray;
While the night maid of love sets her taper on fire,
To guard smiling beauty from time far away.

by George Moses Horton.

Le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle.

THIS treasure of love, these passion-flowers,
Dear as desire, are dearly bought:
The sweet unrest of seeing you
For some too-happy hour or two,
Is paid by such a wealth of tears,
Such grief, such bitterness, such fears,
Such wild remorse, such weak regret,
Such tide of longing towards you set,
As poison all my other hours,
And murder every other thought.


I cannot drink joy steeped in fears,
I choose the cold unhurtful days;
The roses you hold out to me
Are red and sweet enough to be
A crown one would so gladly wear
If but one's brows were strong to bear
The weight, and did not ache and ache
For the fair coronation's sake,
And dread of coming crownless years
When tired feet shall tread thorny ways.


There is a peace in sombre skies
Where no sun even tries to shine,
But not in these where transient glow,
And passionate bursts of sunshine show
Only life's dull fields drenched with rain,
And then the clouds set fast again
Into a leaden sky like this is,
Lit by no lightnings of warm kisses,
Whence, while I look into your eyes,
A thunderbolt may fall on mine.


I give you back the rose I stole,
Pluck but pale leaves that near me grow.
I cannot love with half a heart,
'Tis all or nothing for my part;
And since the all may not be ours,
Since we may only pluck Love's flowers,
But may not in his temple stay,
I choose the grey and lonely way--
And you--be thankful from your soul
That, loving you, I let you go.

by Edith Nesbit.

Mine, to loose or to hold,
I held it, thus, in my hand.
Mine, to fetter or free-
Which should it be?
Dear little wings of gold,
Dear little voice that trilled
All the gay summer long,
Making each day a song!
Well, but one tires, at times,
Of even one’s favorite rhymes;
Of roses, oversweet;
Of joys that are too complete;
Of all things in one’s reach:
And just to be alone
With silence sweeter than speech,
Seems best of all things known.
Mine to command,
Hold captive, as I willed:
Little light wings, away!
Into the golden day-
Away, away,
Into the golden sky-
Good-by! Good-by!

That was a year ago.
Was it well-was it wiser so?
Shall I ever know?
A whole long weary year,
And summer is here.
But the rose a redness lacks,
And the sun is chill,
And the world, somehow, too still,
And time a dreary tax
On body and heart and brain.
Would it be less, I wonder,

If I could only hear
A piping, soft and clear,
A little mellow strain
Come back again?
Or see the flutterings
Of dainty golden wings,
That clove heaven’s blue asunder,
Away and away from me
Away and away,
On one poor foolish day?
Ah, well! Was it so to be,
And better so?
I shall never, never know.
It is gone-let it go.
But O! for the dear love-strain
Mine once, mine never again!
For the fluttering wings of gold,
Mine to loose or to hold-
Held lightly, loosened-so,
A year ago!

by Ina D. Coolbrith.

AWAY! the moor is dark beneath the moon,
   Rapid clouds have drunk the last pale beam of even:
Away! the gathering winds will call the darkness soon,
   And profoundest midnight shroud the serene lights of heaven.
Pause not! the time is past! Every voice cries, 'Away!'
   Tempt not with one last tear thy friend's ungentle mood:
Thy lover's eye, so glazed and cold, dares not entreat thy stay:
   Duty and dereliction guide thee back to solitude.

Away, away! to thy sad and silent home;
   Pour bitter tears on its desolated hearth;
Watch the dim shades as like ghosts they go and come,
   And complicate strange webs of melancholy mirth.
The leaves of wasted autumn woods shall float around thine head,
   The blooms of dewy Spring shall gleam beneath thy feet:
But thy soul or this world must fade in the frost that binds the dead,
   Ere midnight's frown and morning's smile, ere thou and peace, may
   meet.

The cloud shadows of midnight possess their own repose,
   For the weary winds are silent, or the moon is in the deep;
Some respite to its turbulence unresting ocean knows;
   Whatever moves or toils or grieves hath its appointed sleep.
Thou in the grave shalt rest:--yet, till the phantoms flee,
   Which that house and heath and garden made dear to thee erewhile,
Thy remembrance and repentance and deep musings are not free
   From the music of two voices, and the light of one sweet smile.

by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

O that word REGRET!
There have been nights and morns when we have sighed,
“Let us alone, Regret! We are content
To throw thee all our past, so thou wilt sleep
For aye.” But it is patient, and it wakes;
It hath not learned to cry itself to sleep,
But plaineth on the bed that it is hard.

We did amiss when we did wish it gone
And over: sorrows humanize our race;
Tears are the showers that fertilize this world;
And memory of things precious keepeth warm
The heart that once did hold them.
They are poor
That have lost nothing; they are poorer far
Who, losing, have forgotten; they most poor
Of all, who lose and wish they MIGHT forget.

For life is one, and in its warp and woof
There runs a thread of gold that glitters fair,
And sometimes in the pattern shows most sweet
Where there are sombre colors. It is true
That we have wept. But O! this thread of gold,
We would not have it tarnish; let us turn
Oft and look back upon the wondrous web,
And when it shineth sometimes we shall know
That memory is possession.

I.
When I remember something which I had,
But which is gone, and I must do without,
I sometimes wonder how I can be glad,
Even in cowslip time when hedges sprout;
It makes me sigh to think on it,—­but yet
My days will not be better days, should I forget.

II.
When I remember something promised me,
But which I never had, nor can have now,
Because the promiser we no more see
In countries that accord with mortal vow;
When I remember this, I mourn,—­but yet
My happier days are not the days when I forget.

by Jean Ingelow.

Divine Compassion

Long since, a dream of heaven I had,
And still the vision haunts me oft;
I see the saints in white robes clad,
The martyrs with their palms aloft;
But hearing still, in middle song,
The ceaseless dissonance of wrong;
And shrinking, with hid faces, from the strain
Of sad, beseeching eyes, full of remorse and pain.

The glad song falters to a wail,
The harping sinks to low lament;
Before the still unlifted veil
I see the crowned foreheads bent,
Making more sweet the heavenly air,
With breathings of unselfish prayer;
And a Voice saith: 'O Pity which is pain,
O Love that weeps, fill up my sufferings which remain!

'Shall souls redeemed by me refuse
To share my sorrow in their turn?
Or, sin-forgiven, my gift abuse
Of peace with selfish unconcern?
Has saintly ease no pitying care?
Has faith no work, and love no prayer?
While sin remains, and souls in darkness dwell,
Can heaven itself be heaven, and look unmoved on hell?'

Then through the Gates of Pain, I dream,
A wind of heaven blows coolly in;
Fainter the awful discords seem,
The smoke of torment grows more thin,
Tears quench the burning soil, and thence
Spring sweet, pale flowers of penitence
And through the dreary realm of man's despair,
Star-crowned an angel walks, and to! God's hope is there!

Is it a dream? Is heaven so high
That pity cannot breathe its air?
Its happy eyes forever dry,
Its holy lips without a prayer!
My God! my God! if thither led
By Thy free grace unmerited,
No crown nor palm be mine, but let me keep
A heart that still can feel, and eyes that still can weep.

by John Greenleaf Whittier.

Oh, with thy grace my heart inspire,
To bring forth fruites of thy desire.
Give me thy Peters penitence,
Paul's faith, and Job his patience,
And Marie's grace, and John his loue,
That in my heart I may approue.
When all these graces meete in mee,
What ioy my soule shall have in thee:
But oh, my God ! my heart cloth ake,
My soule with trembling fear doth quake,
That sinne hath brought me in such plight
As makes me ouglie in thy sight;
And I (O wretch !) am one of those
Whom thou hast reckoned for thy foes,
And that thy mercie will not heare me,
Nor comfort euer shall come near mee ;
My prayer turned into sinne,
No gate of grace shall enter in ;
But all my thoughts are farre amisse,
Shall banisht be from hope of blisse ;
And my poore soule, by sinne's desart,
Condemn'd vnto eternall smart.
And yet again, meethinks, I see
How thy great mercie lookes on mee,
And tels me faith may be victorious,
While grace will be in mercie glorious,
And what true hartes do truelie proue,
That turne to thee in teares of loue;
In which vnfaigned faithfull teares,
Wherein the wofull spirit weares,
I humbly fall at mercie's feete,
Where grace, and loue, and glorie meete;
And in teares of true contrition
Thus makes my wofull soule's petition :
In mercie looke on me, deare God ;
Forgive my sinnes, forbeare thy rod;
Behold my griefe and ease my paine,
And take me to thy grace againe,
That I may see that bright Sunne shine,
Whose glorie neuer can decline ;
Where I with Simeon's ioy may sing
When I embrace my holy King,
And sinne and sorrowes cease,
As my soule may rest in peace.

by Nicholas Breton.

Songs Without Sense: [for The Parlor And Piano]

I. THE PERSONIFIED SENTIMENTAL

AFFECTION’S charm no longer gilds
The idol of the shrine;
But cold Oblivion seeks to fill
Regret’s ambrosial wine.
Though Friendship’s offering buried lies
’Neath cold Aversion’s snow,
Regard and Faith will ever bloom
Perpetually below.

I see thee whirl in marble halls,
In Pleasure’s giddy train;
Remorse is never on that brow,
Nor Sorrow’s mark of pain.
Deceit has marked thee for her own;
Inconstancy the same;
And Ruin wildly sheds its gleam
Athwart thy path of shame.



II. THE HOMELY PATHETIC

The dews are heavy on my brow;
My breath comes hard and low;
Yet, mother dear, grant one request,
Before your boy must go.
Oh! lift me ere my spirit sinks,
And ere my senses fail,
Place me once more, O mother dear,
Astride the old fence-rail.

The old fence-rail, the old fence-rail!
How oft these youthful legs,
With Alice’ and Ben Bolt’s, were hung
Across those wooden pegs!
’Twas there the nauseating smoke
Of my first pipe arose:
O mother dear, these agonies
Are far less keen than those.

I know where lies the hazel dell,
Where simple Nellie sleeps;
I know the cot of Nettie Moore,
And where the willow weeps.
I know the brookside and the mill,
But all their pathos fails
Beside the days when once I sat
Astride the old fence-rails.



III. SWISS AIR

I’m a gay tra, la, la,
With my fal, lal, la, la,
And my bright—
And my light—
Tra, la, le. [Repeat.]

Then laugh, ha, ha, ha,
And ring, ting, ling, ling,
And sing fal, la, la,
La, la, le. [Repeat.]

by Francis Bret Harte.

A Woman’s Question

BEFORE I trust my fate to thee,
Or place my hand in thine,
Before I let thy future give
Color and form to mine,
Before I peril all for thee, question thy soul to-night for me.

I break all slighter bonds, nor feel
A shadow of regret:
Is there one link within the Past
That holds thy spirit yet?
Or is thy faith as clear and free as that which I can pledge to thee?

Does there within thy dimmest dreams
A possible future shine,
Wherein thy life could henceforth breathe,
Untouch’d, unshar’d by mine?
If so, at any pain or cost, O, tell me before all is lost.

Look deeper still. If thou canst feel,
Within thy inmost soul,
That thou hast kept a portion back,
While I have stak’d the whole;
Let no false pity spare the blow, but in true mercy tell me so.

Is there within thy heart a need
That mine cannot fulfil?
One chord that any other hand
Could better wake or still?
Speak now—lest at some future day my whole life wither and decay.

Lives there within thy nature hid
The demon-spirit Change,
Shedding a passing glory still
On all things new and strange?
It may not be thy fault alone—but shield my heart against thy own.

Couldst thou withdraw thy hand one day
And answer to my claim,
That Fate, and that to-day’s mistake—
Not thou—had been to blame?
Some soothe their conscience thus; but thou wilt surely warn and save me now.

Nay, answer not,—I dare not hear,
The words would come too late;
Yet I would spare thee all remorse,
So, comfort thee, my fate—
Whatever on my heart may fall—remember, I would risk it all!

by Adelaide Anne Procter.

To George, Earl Delwarr

Oh! yes, I will own we were dear to each other;
The friendships of childhood, though fleeting are true;
The love which you felt was the love of a brother,
Nor less the affection I cherish'd for you.

But Friendship can vary her gentle dominion;
The attachment of years in a moment expires:
Like Love, too, she moves on a swift-waving pinion,
But glows not, like Love, with unquenchable fires.

Full oft have we wander'd through Ida together,
And blest were the scenes of our youth, I allow:
In the spring of our life, how serene is the weather!
But winter's rude tempests are gathering now.

No more with affection shall memory blending,
The wonted delights of our childhood retrace:
When pride steels the bosom, the heart is unbending,
And what would be Justice appears a disgrace.

However, dear George, for I still must esteem you;
The few whom I love I can never upbraid:
The chance which has lost may in future redeem you,
Repentance will cancel the vow you have made.

I will not complain, and though chill'd is affection,
With me no corroding resentment shall live:
My bosom is calm'd by the simple reflection,
That both may be wrong, and that both should forgive.

You knew that my soul, that my heart, my existence,
If danger demanded, were wholly your own.
You knew me unalter'd by years or by distance
Devoted to love and to friendship alone.

You knew - but away with the vain retropection!
The bond of affection no longer endures;
Too late you may droop o'er the fond recollection,
And sigh for the friend who was formerly yours.

For the present, we part,--I will hope not for ever;
For time and regret will restore you at last:
To forget our dimension we both should endeavour,
I ask no atonement, but days like the past.

by George Gordon Byron.

Life is a crooked Labyrinth, and we
Are daily lost in that Obliquity.
'Tis a perplexed circle, in whose round
Nothing but sorrows and new sins abound.
How is the faint impression of each good
Drown'd in the vicious Channel of our blood?
Whose Ebbes and tides by their vicissitude
Both our great Maker and our selves delude.
O wherefore is the most discerning eye
Unapt to make its own discovery?
Why is the clearest and best judging mind
In her own ills prevention dark and blind?
Dull to advise, to act precipitate,
We scarce think what to do but when too late.
Or if we think, that fluid thought, like seed
Rots there to propagate some fouler deed.
Still we repent and sin, sin and repent;
We thaw and freeze, we harden and relent.
Those fires which cool'd to day the morrows heat
Rekindles. Thus frail nature does repeat
What she unlearnt, and still by learning on
Perfects her lesson of confusion.
Sick soul! what cure shall I for thee devise,
Whose leprous state corrupts all remedies?
What medicine or what cordial can be got
For thee, who poyson'st thy best antidot?
Repentance is thy bane, since thou by it
Onely reviv'st the fault thou didst commit.
Nor griev'st thou for the past, but art in pain
For fear thou mayst not act it o're again.
So that thy tears, like water spilt on lime,
Serve not to quench, but to advance the crime.
My blessed Saviour! unto thee I flie
For help against this homebred tyrannie.
Thou canst true sorrows in my soul imprint,
And draw contrition from a breast of flint.
Thou canst reverse this labyrinth of sin
My wild affects and actions wander in.
O guide my faith! and by thy graces clew
Teach me to hunt that kingdom at the view
Where true joyes reign, which like their day shall last;
Those never clouded, nor that overcast.

by Henry King.

A PASTORAL BALLAD

THE fields which with covetous spirit we sold,
Those beautiful fields, the delight of the day,
Would have brought us more good than a burthen of gold,
Could we but have been as contented as they.

When the troublesome Tempter beset us, said I,
'Let him come, with his purse proudly grasped in his hand;
But, Allan, be true to me, Allan,--we'll die
Before he shall go with an inch of the land!'

There dwelt we, as happy as birds in their bowers;
Unfettered as bees that in gardens abide;
We could do what we liked with the land, it was ours;
And for us the brook murmured that ran by its side.

But now we are strangers, go early or late;
And often, like one overburthened with sin,
With my hand on the latch of the half-opened gate,
I look at the fields, but I cannot go in!

When I walk by the hedge on a bright summer's day,
Or sit in the shade of my grandfather's tree,
A stern face it puts on, as if ready to say,
'What ails you, that you must come creeping to me!'

With our pastures about us, we could not be sad;
Our comfort was near if we ever were crost;
But the comfort, the blessings, and wealth that we had,
We slighted them all,--and our birth-right was lost.

Oh, ill-judging sire of an innocent son
Who must now be a wanderer! but peace to that strain!
Think of evening's repose when our labour was done,
The sabbath's return; and its leisure's soft chain!

And in sickness, if night had been sparing of sleep,
How cheerful, at sunrise, the hill where I stood,
Looking down on the kine, and our treasure of sheep
That besprinkled the field; 'twas like youth in my blood!

Now I cleave to the house, and am dull as a snail;
And, oftentimes, hear the church-bell with a sigh,
That follows the thought--We've no land in the vale,
Save six feet of earth where our forefathers lie!

by William Wordsworth.

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