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Andromeda and Other Poems by Charles Kingsley

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But men must work, and women must weep,
Though storms be sudden, and waters deep,
And the harbour bar be moaning.

Three corpses lay out on the shining sands
In the morning gleam as the tide went down,
And the women are weeping and wringing their hands
For those who will never come home to the town;
For men must work, and women must weep,
And the sooner it's over, the sooner to sleep;
And good-bye to the bar and its moaning.

Eversley, June 25, 1851.

SONNET

Oh, thou hadst been a wife for Shakspeare's self!
No head, save some world-genius, ought to rest
Above the treasures of that perfect breast,
Or nightly draw fresh light from those keen stars
Through which thy soul awes ours: yet thou art bound--
O waste of nature!--to a craven hound;
To shameless lust, and childish greed of pelf;
Athene to a Satyr: was that link
Forged by The Father's hand? Man's reason bars
The bans which God allowed.--Ay, so we think:
Forgetting, thou hadst weaker been, full blest,
Than thus made strong by suffering; and more great
In martyrdom, than throned as Caesar's mate.

Eversley, 1851.

MARGARET TO DOLCINO

Ask if I love thee? Oh, smiles cannot tell
Plainer what tears are now showing too well.
Had I not loved thee, my sky had been clear:
Had I not loved thee, I had not been here,
Weeping by thee.

Ask if I love thee? How else could I borrow
Pride from man's slander, and strength from my sorrow?
Laugh when they sneer at the fanatic's bride,
Knowing no bliss, save to toil and abide
Weeping by thee.

Andernach on the Rhine,
August 1851.

DOLCINO TO MARGARET

The world goes up and the world goes down,
And the sunshine follows the rain;
And yesterday's sneer and yesterday's frown
Can never come over again,
Sweet wife:
No, never come over again.

For woman is warm though man be cold,
And the night will hallow the day;
Till the heart which at even was weary and old
Can rise in the morning gay,
Sweet wife;
To its work in the morning gay.

Andernach, 1851.

THE UGLY PRINCESS

My parents bow, and lead them forth,
For all the crowd to see--
Ah well! the people might not care
To cheer a dwarf like me.

They little know how I could love,
How I could plan and toil,
To swell those drudges' scanty gains,
Their mites of rye and oil.

They little know what dreams have been
My playmates, night and day;
Of equal kindness, helpful care,
A mother's perfect sway.

Now earth to earth in convent walls,
To earth in churchyard sod:
I was not good enough for man,
And so am given to God.

Bertrich in the Eifel, 1851.

SONNET

The baby sings not on its mother's breast;
Nor nightingales who nestle side by side;
Nor I by thine: but let us only part,
Then lips which should but kiss, and so be still,
As having uttered all, must speak again--
O stunted thoughts! O chill and fettered rhyme
Yet my great bliss, though still entirely blest,
Losing its proper home, can find no rest:
So, like a child who whiles away the time
With dance and carol till the eventide,
Watching its mother homeward through the glen;
Or nightingale, who, sitting far apart,
Tells to his listening mate within the nest
The wonder of his star-entranced heart
Till all the wakened woodlands laugh and thrill--
Forth all my being bubbles into song;
And rings aloft, not smooth, yet clear and strong.

Bertrich, 1851

THE SWAN-NECK

Evil sped the battle play
On the Pope Calixtus' day;
Mighty war-smiths, thanes and lords,
In Senlac slept the sleep of swords.
Harold Earl, shot over shield,
Lay along the autumn weald;
Slaughter such was never none
Since the Ethelings England won.
Thither Lady Githa came,
Weeping sore for grief and shame;
How may she her first-born tell?
Frenchmen stript him where he fell,
Gashed and marred his comely face;
Who can know him in his place?
Up and spake two brethren wise,
'Youngest hearts have keenest eyes;
Bird which leaves its mother's nest,
Moults its pinions, moults its crest.
Let us call the Swan-neck here,
She that was his leman dear;
She shall know him in this stound;
Foot of wolf, and scent of hound,
Eye of hawk, and wing of dove,
Carry woman to her love.'
Up and spake the Swan-neck high,
'Go! to all your thanes let cry
How I loved him best of all,
I whom men his leman call;
Better knew his body fair
Than the mother which him bare.
When ye lived in wealth and glee
Then ye scorned to look on me;
God hath brought the proud ones low
After me afoot to go.'
Rousing erne and sallow glede,
Rousing gray wolf off his feed,
Over franklin, earl, and thane,
Heaps of mother-naked slain,
Round the red field tracing slow,
Stooped that Swan-neck white as snow;
Never blushed nor turned away,
Till she found him where he lay;
Clipt him in her armes fair,
Wrapt him in her yellow hair,
Bore him from the battle-stead,
Saw him laid in pall of lead,
Took her to a minster high,
For Earl Harold's soul to cry.

Thus fell Harold, bracelet-giver;
Jesu rest his soul for ever;
Angles all from thrall deliver;
Miserere Domine.

Eversley, 1851.

A THOUGHT FROM THE RHINE

I heard an Eagle crying all alone
Above the vineyards through the summer night,
Among the skeletons of robber towers:
Because the ancient eyrie of his race
Was trenched and walled by busy-handed men;
And all his forest-chace and woodland wild,
Wherefrom he fed his young with hare and roe,
Were trim with grapes which swelled from hour to hour,
And tossed their golden tendrils to the sun
For joy at their own riches:--So, I thought,
The great devourers of the earth shall sit,
Idle and impotent, they know not why,
Down-staring from their barren height of state
On nations grown too wise to slay and slave,
The puppets of the few; while peaceful lore
And fellow-help make glad the heart of earth,
With wonders which they fear and hate, as he,
The Eagle, hates the vineyard slopes below.

On the Rhine, 1851.

THE LONGBEARDS' SAGA. A.D. 400

Over the camp-fires
Drank I with heroes,
Under the Donau bank,
Warm in the snow trench:
Sagamen heard I there,
Men of the Longbeards,
Cunning and ancient,
Honey-sweet-voiced.
Scaring the wolf cub,
Scaring the horn-owl,
Shaking the snow-wreaths
Down from the pine-boughs,
Up to the star roof
Rang out their song.
Singing how Winil men,
Over the ice-floes
Sledging from Scanland
Came unto Scoring;
Singing of Gambara,
Freya's beloved,
Mother of Ayo,
Mother of Ibor.
Singing of Wendel men,
Ambri and Assi;
How to the Winilfolk
Went they with war-words,--
'Few are ye, strangers,
And many are we:
Pay us now toll and fee,
Cloth-yarn, and rings, and beeves:
Else at the raven's meal
Bide the sharp bill's doom.'
Clutching the dwarfs work then,
Clutching the bullock's shell,
Girding gray iron on,
Forth fared the Winils all,
Fared the Alruna's sons,
Ayo and Ibor.
Mad at heart stalked they:
Loud wept the women all,
Loud the Alruna wife;
Sore was their need.
Out of the morning land,
Over the snow-drifts,
Beautiful Freya came,
Tripping to Scoring.
White were the moorlands,
And frozen before her:
Green were the moorlands,
And blooming behind her.
Out of her gold locks
Shaking the spring flowers,
Out of her garments
Shaking the south wind,
Around in the birches
Awaking the throstles,
And making chaste housewives all
Long for their heroes home,
Loving and love-giving,
Came she to Scoring.
Came unto Gambara,
Wisest of Valas,--
'Vala, why weepest thou?
Far in the wide-blue,
High up in the Elfin-home,
Heard I thy weeping.'
'Stop not my weeping,
Till one can fight seven.
Sons have I, heroes tall,
First in the sword-play;
This day at the Wendels' hands
Eagles must tear them.
Their mothers, thrall-weary,
Must grind for the Wendels.'
Wept the Alruna wife;
Kissed her fair Freya:--
'Far off in the morning land,
High in Valhalla,
A window stands open;
Its sill is the snow-peaks,
Its posts are the waterspouts,
Storm-rack its lintel;
Gold cloud-flakes above
Are piled for the roofing,
Far up to the Elfin-home,
High in the wide-blue.
Smiles out each morning thence
Odin Allfather;
From under the cloud-eaves
Smiles out on the heroes,
Smiles on chaste housewives all,
Smiles on the brood-mares,
Smiles on the smiths' work:
And theirs is the sword-luck,
With them is the glory,--
So Odin hath sworn it,--
Who first in the morning
Shall meet him and greet him.'
Still the Alruna wept:--
'Who then shall greet him?
Women alone are here:
Far on the moorlands
Behind the war-lindens,
In vain for the bill's doom
Watch Winil heroes all,
One against seven.'
Sweetly the Queen laughed:--
'Hear thou my counsel now;
Take to thee cunning,
Beloved of Freya.
Take thou thy women-folk,
Maidens and wives:
Over your ankles
Lace on the white war-hose;
Over your bosoms
Link up the hard mail-nets;
Over your lips
Plait long tresses with cunning;--
So war-beasts full-bearded
King Odin shall deem you,
When off the gray sea-beach
At sunrise ye greet him.'

Night's son was driving
His golden-haired horses up;
Over the eastern firths
High flashed their manes.
Smiled from the cloud-eaves out
Allfather Odin,
Waiting the battle-sport:
Freya stood by him.
'Who are these heroes tall,--
Lusty-limbed Longbeards?
Over the swans' bath
Why cry they to me?
Bones should be crashing fast,
Wolves should be full-fed,
Where such, mad-hearted,
Swing hands in the sword-play.'

Sweetly laughed Freya:--
'A name thou hast given them,
Shames neither thee nor them,
Well can they wear it.
Give them the victory,
First have they greeted thee;
Give them the victory,
Yokefellow mine!
Maidens and wives are these,--
Wives of the Winils;
Few are their heroes
And far on the war-road,
So over the swans' bath
They cry unto thee.'

Royally laughed he then;
Dear was that craft to him,
Odin Allfather,
Shaking the clouds.
'Cunning are women all,
Bold and importunate!
Longbeards their name shall be,
Ravens shall thank them:
Where women are heroes,
What must the men be?
Theirs is the victory;
No need of me!'

Eversley, 1852.
From Hypatia.

SAINT MAURA. A.D. 304

Thank God! Those gazers' eyes are gone at last!
The guards are crouching underneath the rock;
The lights are fading in the town below,
Around the cottage which this morn was ours.
Kind sun, to set, and leave us here alone;
Alone upon our crosses with our God;
While all the angels watch us from the stars.
Kind moon, to shine so clear and full on him,
And bathe his limbs in glory, for a sign
Of what awaits him! Oh look on him, Lord!
Look, and remember how he saved thy lamb!
Oh listen to me, teacher, husband, love,
Never till now loved utterly! Oh say,
Say you forgive me! No--you must not speak:
You said it to me hours ago--long hours!
Now you must rest, and when to-morrow comes
Speak to the people, call them home to God,
A deacon on the Cross, as in the Church;
And plead from off the tree with outspread arms,
To show them that the Son of God endured
For them--and me. Hush! I alone will speak,
And while away the hours till dawn for you.
I know you have forgiven me; as I lay
Beneath your feet, while they were binding me,
I knew I was forgiven then! When I cried
'Here am I, husband! The lost lamb returned,
All re-baptized in blood!' and you said, 'Come!
Come to thy bride-bed, martyr, wife once more!'
From that same moment all my pain was gone;
And ever since those sightless eyes have smiled
Love--love! Alas, those eyes! They made me fall.
I could not bear to see them, bleeding, dark,
Never, no never to look into mine;
Never to watch me round the little room
Singing about my work, or flash on me
Looks bright with counsel.--Then they drove me mad
With talk of nameless tortures waiting you--
And I could save you! You would hear your love--
They knew you loved me, cruel men! And then--
Then came a dream; to say one little word,
One easy wicked word, we both might say,
And no one hear us, but the lictors round;
One tiny sprinkle of the incense grains,
And both, both free! And life had just begun--
Only three months--short months--your wedded wife
Only three months within the cottage there--
Hoping I bore your child. . . .
Ah! husband! Saviour! God! think gently of me!
I am forgiven! . . .
And then another dream;
A flash--so quick, I could not bear the blaze;
I could not see the smoke among the light--
To wander out through unknown lands, and lead
You by the hand through hamlet, port, and town,
On, on, until we died; and stand each day
To glory in you, as you preached and prayed
From rock and bourne-stone, with that voice, those words,
Mingled with fire and honey--you would wake,
Bend, save whole nations! would not that atone
For one short word?--ay, make it right, to save
You, you, to fight the battles of the Lord?
And so--and so--alas! you knew the rest!
You answered me. . . .
Ah cruel words! No! Blessed, godlike words.
You had done nobly had you struck me dead,
Instead of striking me to life!--the temptress! . . .
'Traitress! apostate! dead to God and me!'--
'The smell of death upon me?'--so it was!
True! true! well spoken, hero! Oh they snapped,
Those words, my madness, like the angel's voice
Thrilling the graves to birth-pangs. All was clear.
There was but one right thing in the world to do;
And I must do it. . . . Lord, have mercy! Christ!
Help through my womanhood: or I shall fail
Yet, as I failed before! . . . I could not speak--
I could not speak for shame and misery,
And terror of my sin, and of the things
I knew were coming: but in heaven, in heaven!
There we should meet, perhaps--and by that time
I might be worthy of you once again--
Of you, and of my God. . . . So I went out.
. . . . . .
Will you hear more, and so forget the pain?
And yet I dread to tell you what comes next;
Your love will feel it all again for me.
No! it is over; and the woe that's dead
Rises next hour a glorious angel. Love!
Say, shall I tell you? Ah! your lips are dry!
To-morrow, when they come, we must entreat,
And they will give you water. One to-day,
A soldier, gave me water in a sponge
Upon a reed, and said, 'Too fair! too young!
She might have been a gallant soldier's wife!'
And then I cried, 'I am a soldier's wife!
A hero's!' And he smiled, but let me drink.
God bless him for it!
So they led me back:
And as I went, a voice was in my ears
Which rang through all the sunlight, and the breath
And blaze of all the garden slopes below,
And through the harvest-voices, and the moan
Of cedar-forests on the cliffs above,
And round the shining rivers, and the peaks
Which hung beyond the cloud-bed of the west,
And round the ancient stones about my feet.
Out of all heaven and earth it rang, and cried,
'My hand hath made all these. Am I too weak
To give thee strength to say so?' Then my soul
Spread like a clear blue sky within my breast,
While all the people made a ring around,
And in the midst the judge spoke smilingly--
'Well! hast thou brought him to a better mind?'
'No! He has brought me to a better mind!'--
I cried, and said beside--I know not what--
Words which I learnt from thee--I trust in God
Nought fierce or rude--for was I not a girl
Three months ago beneath my mother's roof?
I thought of that. She might be there! I looked--
She was not there! I hid my face and wept.
And when I looked again, the judge's eye
Was on me, cold and steady, deep in thought--
'She knows what shame is still; so strip her.' 'Ah!'
I shrieked, 'Not that, Sir! Any pain! So young
I am--a wife too--I am not my own,
But his--my husband's!' But they took my shawl,
And tore my tunic off, and there I stood
Before them all. . . . Husband! you love me still?
Indeed I pleaded! Oh, shine out, kind moon,
And let me see him smile! Oh! how I prayed,
While some cried 'Shame!' and some, 'She is too young!'
And some mocked--ugly words: God shut my ears.
And yet no earthquake came to swallow me.
While all the court around, and walls, and roofs,
And all the earth and air were full of eyes,
Eyes, eyes, which scorched my limbs like burning flame,
Until my brain seemed bursting from my brow:
And yet no earthquake came! And then I knew
This body was not yours alone, but God's--
His loan--He needed it: and after that
The worst was come, and any torture more
A change--a lightening; and I did not shriek--
Once only--once, when first I felt the whip--
It coiled so keen around my side, and sent
A fire-flash through my heart which choked me--then
I shrieked--that once. The foolish echo rang
So far and long--I prayed you might not hear.
And then a mist, which hid the ring of eyes,
Swam by me, and a murmur in my ears
Of humming bees around the limes at home;
And I was all alone with you and God.
And what they did to me I hardly know;
I felt, and did not feel. Now I look back,
It was not after all so very sharp:
So do not pity me. It made me pray;
Forget my shame in pain, and pain in you,
And you in God: and once, when I looked down,
And saw an ugly sight--so many wounds!
'What matter?' thought I. 'His dear eyes are dark;
For them alone I kept these limbs so white--
A foolish pride! As God wills now. 'Tis just.'
But then the judge spoke out in haste: 'She is mad,
Or fenced by magic arts! She feels no pain!'
He did not know I was on fire within:
Better he should not; so his sin was less.
Then he cried fiercely, 'Take the slave away,
And crucify her by her husband's side!'
And at those words a film came on my face--
A sickening rush of joy--was that the end?
That my reward? I rose, and tried to go--
But all the eyes had vanished, and the judge;
And all the buildings melted into mist:
So how they brought me here I cannot tell--
Here, here, by you, until the judgment-day,
And after that for ever and for ever!
Ah! If I could but reach that hand! One touch!
One finger tip, to send the thrill through me
I felt but yesterday!--No! I can wait:--
Another body!--Oh, new limbs are ready,
Free, pure, instinct with soul through every nerve,
Kept for us in the treasuries of God.
They will not mar the love they try to speak,
They will not fail my soul, as these have done!
. . . . .
Will you hear more? Nay--you know all the rest:
Yet those poor eyes--alas! they could not see
My waking, when you hung above me there
With hands outstretched to bless the penitent--
Your penitent--even like The Lord Himself--
I gloried in you!--like The Lord Himself!
Sharing His very sufferings, to the crown
Of thorns which they had put on that dear brow
To make you like Him--show you as you were!
I told them so! I bid them look on you,
And see there what was the highest throne on earth--
The throne of suffering, where the Son of God
Endured and triumphed for them. But they laughed;
All but one soldier, gray, with many scars;
And he stood silent. Then I crawled to you,
And kissed your bleeding feet, and called aloud--
You heard me! You know all! I am at peace.
Peace, peace, as still and bright as is the moon
Upon your limbs, came on me at your smile,
And kept me happy, when they dragged me back
From that last kiss, and spread me on the cross,
And bound my wrists and ankles--Do not sigh:
I prayed, and bore it: and since they raised me up
My eyes have never left your face, my own, my own,
Nor will, till death comes! . . .
Do I feel much pain?
Not much. Not maddening. None I cannot bear.
It has become like part of my own life,
Or part of God's life in me--honour--bliss!
I dreaded madness, and instead comes rest;
Rest deep and smiling, like a summer's night.
I should be easy, now, if I could move . . .
I cannot stir. Ah God! these shoots of fire
Through all my limbs! Hush, selfish girl! He hears you!
Who ever found the cross a pleasant bed?
Yes; I can bear it, love. Pain is no evil
Unless it conquers us. These little wrists, now--
You said, one blessed night, they were too slender,
Too soft and slender for a deacon's wife--
Perhaps a martyr's:--You forgot the strength
Which God can give. The cord has cut them through;
And yet my voice has never faltered yet.
Oh! do not groan, or I shall long and pray
That you may die: and you must not die yet.
Not yet--they told us we might live three days . . .
Two days for you to preach! Two days to speak
Words which may wake the dead!
. . . . .
Hush! is he sleeping?
They say that men have slept upon the cross;
So why not he? . . . Thanks, Lord! I hear him breathe:
And he will preach Thy word to-morrow!--save
Souls, crowds, for Thee! And they will know his worth
Years hence--poor things, they know not what they do!--
And crown him martyr; and his name will ring
Through all the shores of earth, and all the stars
Whose eyes are sparkling through their tears to see
His triumph--Preacher! Martyr!--Ah--and me?--
If they must couple my poor name with his,
Let them tell all the truth--say how I loved him,
And tried to damn him by that love! O Lord!
Returning good for evil! and was this
The payment I deserved for such a sin?
To hang here on my cross, and look at him
Until we kneel before Thy throne in heaven!

Eversley, 1852.

ON THE DEATH OF A CERTAIN JOURNAL {282}

So die, thou child of stormy dawn,
Thou winter flower, forlorn of nurse;
Chilled early by the bigot's curse,
The pedant's frown, the worldling's yawn.

Fair death, to fall in teeming June,
When every seed which drops to earth
Takes root, and wins a second birth
From steaming shower and gleaming moon.

Fall warm, fall fast, thou mellow rain;
Thou rain of God, make fat the land;
That roots which parch in burning sand
May bud to flower and fruit again.

To grace, perchance, a fairer morn
In mightier lands beyond the sea,
While honour falls to such as we
From hearts of heroes yet unborn,

Who in the light of fuller day,
Of purer science, holier laws,
Bless us, faint heralds of their cause,
Dim beacons of their glorious way.

Failure? While tide-floods rise and boil
Round cape and isle, in port and cove,
Resistless, star-led from above:
What though our tiny wave recoil?

Eversley, 1852.

DOWN TO THE MOTHERS

Linger no more, my beloved, by abbey and cell and cathedral;
Mourn not for holy ones mourning of old them who knew not the Father,
Weeping with fast and scourge, when the bridegroom was taken from them.
Drop back awhile through the years, to the warm rich youth of the nations,
Childlike in virtue and faith, though childlike in passion and pleasure,
Childlike still, and still near to their God, while the day-spring of Eden
Lingered in rose-red rays on the peaks of Ionian mountains.
Down to the mothers, as Faust went, I go, to the roots of our manhood,
Mothers of us in our cradles; of us once more in our glory.
New-born, body and soul, in the great pure world which shall be
In the renewing of all things, when man shall return to his Eden
Conquering evil, and death, and shame, and the slander of conscience--
Free in the sunshine of Godhead--and fearlessly smile on his Father.
Down to the mothers I go--yet with thee still!--be with me, thou purest!
Lead me, thy hand in my hand; and the dayspring of God go before us.

Eversley, 1852.

TO MISS MITFORD: AUTHORESS OF 'OUR VILLAGE'

The single eye, the daughter of the light;
Well pleased to recognise in lowliest shade
Some glimmer of its parent beam, and made
By daily draughts of brightness, inly bright.
The taste severe, yet graceful, trained aright
In classic depth and clearness, and repaid
By thanks and honour from the wise and staid--
By pleasant skill to blame, and yet delight,
And high communion with the eloquent throng
Of those who purified our speech and song--
All these are yours. The same examples lure,
You in each woodland, me on breezy moor--
With kindred aim the same sweet path along,
To knit in loving knowledge rich and poor.

Eversley, 1853.

BALLAD OF EARL HALDAN'S DAUGHTER

It was Earl Haldan's daughter,
She looked across the sea;
She looked across the water;
And long and loud laughed she:
'The locks of six princesses
Must be my marriage fee,
So hey bonny boat, and ho bonny boat!
Who comes a wooing me?'

It was Earl Haldan's daughter,
She walked along the sand;
When she was aware of a knight so fair,
Came sailing to the land.
His sails were all of velvet,
His mast of beaten gold,
And 'Hey bonny boat, and ho bonny boat!
Who saileth here so bold?'

'The locks of five princesses
I won beyond the sea;
I clipt their golden tresses,
To fringe a cloak for thee.
One handful yet is wanting,
But one of all the tale;
So hey bonny boat, and ho bonny boat!
Furl up thy velvet sail!'

He leapt into the water,
That rover young and bold;
He gript Earl Haldan's daughter,
He clipt her locks of gold:
'Go weep, go weep, proud maiden,
The tale is full to-day.
Now hey bonny boat, and ho bonny boat!
Sail Westward ho! away!'

Devonshire, 1854
From Westward Ho!

FRANK LEIGH'S SONG. A.D. 1586

Ah tyrant Love, Megaera's serpents bearing,
Why thus requite my sighs with venom'd smart?
Ah ruthless dove, the vulture's talons wearing,
Why flesh them, traitress, in this faithful heart?
Is this my meed? Must dragons' teeth alone
In Venus' lawns by lovers' hands be sown?

Nay, gentlest Cupid; 'twas my pride undid me;
Nay, guiltless dove; by mine own wound I fell.
To worship, not to wed, Celestials bid me:
I dreamt to mate in heaven, and wake in hell;
For ever doom'd, Ixion-like, to reel
On mine own passions' ever-burning wheel.

Devonshire, 1854.
From Westward Ho!

ODE TO THE NORTH-EAST WIND

Welcome, wild North-easter.
Shame it is to see
Odes to every zephyr;
Ne'er a verse to thee.
Welcome, black North-easter!
O'er the German foam;
O'er the Danish moorlands,
From thy frozen home.
Tired we are of summer,
Tired of gaudy glare,
Showers soft and steaming,
Hot and breathless air.
Tired of listless dreaming,
Through the lazy day:
Jovial wind of winter
Turns us out to play!
Sweep the golden reed-beds;
Crisp the lazy dyke;
Hunger into madness
Every plunging pike.
Fill the lake with wild-fowl;
Fill the marsh with snipe;
While on dreary moorlands
Lonely curlew pipe.
Through the black fir-forest
Thunder harsh and dry,
Shattering down the snow-flakes
Off the curdled sky.
Hark! The brave North-easter!
Breast-high lies the scent,
On by holt and headland,
Over heath and bent.
Chime, ye dappled darlings,
Through the sleet and snow.
Who can over-ride you?
Let the horses go!
Chime, ye dappled darlings,
Down the roaring blast;
You shall see a fox die
Ere an hour be past.
Go! and rest to-morrow,
Hunting in your dreams,
While our skates are ringing
O'er the frozen streams.
Let the luscious South-wind
Breathe in lovers' sighs,
While the lazy gallants
Bask in ladies' eyes.
What does he but soften
Heart alike and pen?
'Tis the hard gray weather
Breeds hard English men.
What's the soft South-wester?
'Tis the ladies' breeze,
Bringing home their true-loves
Out of all the seas:
But the black North-easter,
Through the snowstorm hurled,
Drives our English hearts of oak
Seaward round the world.
Come, as came our fathers,
Heralded by thee,
Conquering from the eastward,
Lords by land and sea.
Come; and strong within us
Stir the Vikings' blood;
Bracing brain and sinew;
Blow, thou wind of God!

1854.

A FAREWELL: TO C. E. G.

My fairest child, I have no song to give you;
No lark could pipe in skies so dull and gray;
Yet, if you will, one quiet hint I'll leave you,
For every day.

I'll tell you how to sing a clearer carol
Than lark who hails the dawn or breezy down
To earn yourself a purer poet's laurel
Than Shakespeare's crown.

Be good, sweet maid, and let who can be clever;
Do lovely things, not dream them, all day long;
And so make Life, and Death, and that For Ever,
One grand sweet song.

February 1, 1856.

TO G. A. G.

A hasty jest I once let fall--
As jests are wont to be, untrue--
As if the sum of joy to you
Were hunt and picnic, rout and ball.

Your eyes met mine: I did not blame;
You saw it: but I touched too near
Some noble nerve; a silent tear
Spoke soft reproach, and lofty shame.

I do not wish those words unsaid.
Unspoilt by praise and pleasure, you
In that one look to woman grew,
While with a child, I thought, I played.

Next to mine own beloved so long!
I have not spent my heart in vain.
I watched the blade; I see the grain;
A woman's soul, most soft, yet strong.

Eversley, 1856.

THE SOUTH WIND: A FISHERMAN'S BLESSINGS

O blessed drums of Aldershot!
O blessed South-west train!
O blessed, blessed Speaker's clock,
All prophesying rain!

O blessed yaffil, laughing loud!
O blessed falling glass!
O blessed fan of cold gray cloud!
O blessed smelling grass!

O bless'd South wind that toots his horn
Through every hole and crack!
I'm off at eight to-morrow morn,
To bring _such_ fishes back!

Eversley, April 1, 1856.

THE INVITATION: TO TOM HUGHES

Come away with me, Tom,
Term and talk are done;
My poor lads are reaping,
Busy every one.
Curates mind the parish,
Sweepers mind the court;
We'll away to Snowdon
For our ten days' sport;
Fish the August evening
Till the eve is past,
Whoop like boys, at pounders
Fairly played and grassed.
When they cease to dimple,
Lunge, and swerve, and leap,
Then up over Siabod,
Choose our nest, and sleep.
Up a thousand feet, Tom,
Round the lion's head,
Find soft stones to leeward
And make up our bed.
Eat our bread and bacon,
Smoke the pipe of peace,
And, ere we be drowsy,
Give our boots a grease.
Homer's heroes did so,
Why not such as we?
What are sheets and servants?
Superfluity!
Pray for wives and children
Safe in slumber curled,
Then to chat till midnight
O'er this babbling world--
Of the workmen's college,
Of the price of grain,
Of the tree of knowledge,
Of the chance of rain;
If Sir A. goes Romeward,
If Miss B. sings true,
If the fleet comes homeward,
If the mare will do,--
Anything and everything--
Up there in the sky
Angels understand us,
And no 'saints' are by.
Down, and bathe at day-dawn,
Tramp from lake to lake,
Washing brain and heart clean
Every step we take.
Leave to Robert Browning
Beggars, fleas, and vines;
Leave to mournful Ruskin
Popish Apennines,
Dirty Stones of Venice
And his Gas-lamps Seven--
We've the stones of Snowdon
And the lamps of heaven.
Where's the mighty credit
In admiring Alps?
Any goose sees 'glory'
In their 'snowy scalps.'
Leave such signs and wonders
For the dullard brain,
As aesthetic brandy,
Opium and cayenne.
Give me Bramshill common
(St. John's harriers by),
Or the vale of Windsor,
England's golden eye.
Show me life and progress,
Beauty, health, and man;
Houses fair, trim gardens,
Turn where'er I can.
Or, if bored with 'High Art,'
And such popish stuff,
One's poor ear need airing,
Snowdon's high enough.
While we find God's signet
Fresh on English ground,
Why go gallivanting
With the nations round?
Though we try no ventures
Desperate or strange;
Feed on commonplaces
In a narrow range;
Never sought for Franklin
Round the frozen Capes;
Even, with Macdougall, {295}
Bagged our brace of apes;
Never had our chance, Tom,
In that black Redan;
Can't avenge poor Brereton
Out in Sakarran;
Tho' we earn our bread, Tom,
By the dirty pen,
What we can we will be,
Honest Englishmen.
Do the work that's nearest,
Though it's dull at whiles,
Helping, when we meet them,
Lame dogs over stiles;
See in every hedgerow
Marks of angels' feet,
Epics in each pebble
Underneath our feet;
Once a year, like schoolboys,
Robin-Hooding go,
Leaving fops and fogies
A thousand feet below.

Eversley, August 1856.

THE FIND

Yon sound's neither sheep-bell nor bark,
They're running--they're running, Go hark!
The sport may be lost by a moment's delay;
So whip up the puppies and scurry away.
Dash down through the cover by dingle and dell,
There's a gate at the bottom--I know it full well;
And they're running--they're running,
Go hark!

They're running--they're running, Go hark!
One fence and we're out of the park;
Sit down in your saddles and race at the brook,
Then smash at the bullfinch; no time for a look;
Leave cravens and skirters to dangle behind;
He's away for the moors in the teeth of the wind,
And they're running--they're running,
Go hark!

They're running--they're running, Go hark!
Let them run on and run till it's dark!
Well with them we are, and well with them we'll be,
While there's wind in our horses and daylight to see:
Then shog along homeward, chat over the fight,
And hear in our dreams the sweet music all night
Of--They're running--they're running,
Go hark!

Eversley, 1856.

FISHING SONG: TO J. A. FROUDE AND TOM HUGHES

Oh, Mr. Froude, how wise and good,
To point us out this way to glory--
They're no great shakes, those Snowdon Lakes,
And all their pounders myth and story.
Blow Snowdon! What's Lake Gwynant to Killarney,
Or spluttering Welsh to tender blarney, blarney, blarney?

So Thomas Hughes, sir, if you choose,
I'll tell you where we think of going,
To swate and far o'er cliff and scar,
Hear horns of Elfland faintly blowing;
Blow Snowdon! There's a hundred lakes to try in,
And fresh caught salmon daily, frying, frying, frying.

Geology and botany
A hundred wonders shall diskiver,
We'll flog and troll in strid and hole,
And skim the cream of lake and river,
Blow Snowdon! give me Ireland for my pennies,
Hurrah! for salmon, grilse, and--Dennis, Dennis, Dennis!

Eversley, 1856

THE LAST BUCCANEER

Oh England is a pleasant place for them that's rich and high,
But England is a cruel place for such poor folks as I;
And such a port for mariners I ne'er shall see again
As the pleasant Isle of Aves, beside the Spanish main.

There were forty craft in Aves that were both swift and stout,
All furnished well with small arms and cannons round about;
And a thousand men in Aves made laws so fair and free
To choose their valiant captains and obey them loyally.

Thence we sailed against the Spaniard with his hoards of plate and gold,
Which he wrung with cruel tortures from Indian folk of old;
Likewise the merchant captains, with hearts as hard as stone,
Who flog men and keel-haul them, and starve them to the bone.

Oh the palms grew high in Aves, and fruits that shone like gold,
And the colibris and parrots they were gorgeous to behold;
And the negro maids to Aves from bondage fast did flee,
To welcome gallant sailors, a-sweeping in from sea.

Oh sweet it was in Aves to hear the landward breeze,
A-swing with good tobacco in a net between the trees,
With a negro lass to fan you, while you listened to the roar
Of the breakers on the reef outside, that never touched the shore.

But Scripture saith, an ending to all fine things must be;
So the King's ships sailed on Aves, and quite put down were we.
All day we fought like bulldogs, but they burst the booms at night;
And I fled in a piragua, sore wounded, from the fight.

Nine days I floated starving, and a negro lass beside,
Till for all I tried to cheer her, the poor young thing she died;
But as I lay a gasping, a Bristol sail came by,
And brought me home to England here, to beg until I die.

And now I'm old and going--I'm sure I can't tell where;
One comfort is, this world's so hard, I can't be worse off there:
If I might but be a sea-dove, I'd fly across the main,
To the pleasant Isle of Aves, to look at it once again.

Eversley, 1857,

THE KNIGHT'S RETURN

Hark! hark! hark!
The lark sings high in the dark.
The were wolves mutter, the night hawks moan,
The raven croaks from the Raven-stone;
What care I for his boding groan,
Riding the moorland to come to mine own?
Hark! hark! hark!
The lark sings high in the dark.

Hark! hark! hark!
The lark sings high in the dark.
Long have I wander'd by land and by sea,
Long have I ridden by moorland and lea;
Yonder she sits with my babe on her knee,
Sits at the window and watches for me!
Hark! hark! hark!
The lark sings high in the dark.

Written for music, 1857.

PEN-Y-GWRYDD: TO TOM HUGHES, ESQ.

There is no inn in Snowdon which is not awful dear,
Excepting Pen-y-gwrydd (you can't pronounce it, dear),
Which standeth in the meeting of noble valleys three--
One is the vale of Gwynant, so well beloved by me,
One goes to Capel-Curig, and I can't mind its name,
And one it is Llanberris Pass, which all men knows the same;
Between which radiations vast mountains does arise,
As full of tarns as sieves of holes, in which big fish will rise,
That is, just one day in the year, if you be there, my boy,
Just about ten o'clock at night; and then I wish you joy.
Now to this Pen-y-gwrydd inn I purposeth to write,
(Axing the post town out of Froude, for I can't mind it quite),
And to engage a room or two, for let us say a week,
For fear of gents, and Manichees, and reading parties meek,
And there to live like fighting-cocks at almost a bob a day,
And arterwards toward the sea make tracks and cut away,
All for to catch the salmon bold in Aberglaslyn pool,
And work the flats in Traeth-Mawr, and will, or I'm a fool.
And that's my game, which if you like, respond to me by post;
But I fear it will not last, my son, a thirteen days at most.
Flies is no object; I can tell some three or four will do,
And John Jones, Clerk, he knows the rest, and ties and sells 'em too.
Besides of which I have no more to say, leastwise just now,
And so, goes to my children's school and 'umbly makes my bow.

Eversley, 1857.

ODE ON THE INSTALLATION OF THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE, CHANCELLOR OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, 1862 {303}

Hence a while, severer Muses;
Spare your slaves till drear October.
Hence; for Alma Mater chooses
Not to be for ever sober:
But, like stately matron gray,
Calling child and grandchild round her,
Will for them at least be gay;
Share for once their holiday;
And, knowing she will sleep the sounder,
Cheerier-hearted on the morrow
Rise to grapple care and sorrow,
Grandly leads the dance adown, and joins the children's play.
So go, for in your places
Already, as you see,
(Her tears for some deep sorrow scarcely dried),
Venus holds court among her sinless graces,
With many a nymph from many a park and lea.
She, pensive, waits the merrier faces
Of those your wittier sisters three,
O'er jest and dance and song who still preside,
To cheer her in this merry-mournful tide;
And bids us, as she smiles or sighs,
Tune our fancies by her eyes.

Then let the young be glad,
Fair girl and gallant lad,
And sun themselves to-day
By lawn and garden gay;
'Tis play befits the noon
Of rosy-girdled June:
Who dare frown if heaven shall smile?
Blest, who can forget a while;
The world before them, and above
The light of universal love.
Go, then, let the young be gay;
From their heart as from their dress
Let darkness and let mourning pass away,
While we the staid and worn look on and bless.

Health to courage firm and high!
Health to Granta's chivalry!
Wisely finding, day by day,
Play in toil, and toil in play.
Granta greets them, gliding down
On by park and spire and town;
Humming mills and golden meadows,
Barred with elm and poplar shadows;
Giant groves, and learned halls;
Holy fanes and pictured walls.
Yet she bides not here; around
Lies the Muses' sacred ground.
Most she lingers, where below
Gliding wherries come and go;
Stalwart footsteps shake the shores;
Rolls the pulse of stalwart oars;
Rings aloft the exultant cry
For the bloodless victory.
There she greets the sports, which breed
Valiant lads for England's need;
Wisely finding, day by day,
Play in toil, and toil in play.
Health to courage, firm and high!
Health to Granta's chivalry!

Yet stay a while, severer Muses, stay,
For you, too, have your rightful parts to-day.
Known long to you, and known through you to fame,
Are Chatsworth's halls, and Cavendish's name.
You too, then, Alma Mater calls to greet
A worthy patron for your ancient seat;
And bid her sons from him example take,
Of learning purely sought for learning's sake,
Of worth unboastful, power in duty spent;
And see, fulfilled in him, her high intent.

Come, Euterpe, wake thy choir;
Fit thy notes to our desire.
Long may he sit the chiefest here,
Meet us and greet us, year by year;
Long inherit, sire and son,
All that their race has wrought and won,
Since that great Cavendish came again,
Round the world and over the main,
Breasting the Thames with his mariners bold,
Past good Queen Bess's palace of old;
With jewel and ingot packed in his hold,
And sails of damask and cloth of gold;
While never a sailor-boy on board
But was decked as brave as a Spanish lord,
With the spoils he had won
In the Isles of the Sun,
And the shores of Fairy-land,
And yet held for the crown of the goodly show,
That queenly smile from the Palace window,
And that wave of a queenly hand.
Yes, let the young be gay,
And sun themselves to-day;--
And from their hearts, as from their dress,
Let mourning pass away.
But not from us, who watch our years fast fleeing,
And snatching as they flee, fresh fragments of our being.
Can we forget one friend,
Can we forget one face,
Which cheered us toward our end,
Which nerved us for our race?
Oh sad to toil, and yet forego
One presence which has made us know
To Godlike souls how deep our debt!
We would not, if we could, forget.

Severer Muses, linger yet;
Speak out for us one pure and rich regret.
Thou, Clio, who, with awful pen,
Gravest great names upon the hearts of men,
Speak of a fate beyond our ken;
A gem late found and lost too soon; {306}
A sun gone down at highest noon;
A tree from Odin's ancient root,
Which bore for men the ancient fruit,
Counsel, and faith and scorn of wrong,
And cunning lore, and soothing song,
Snapt in mid-growth, and leaving unaware
The flock unsheltered and the pasture bare
Nay, let us take what God shall send,
Trusting bounty without end.
God ever lives; and Nature,
Beneath His high dictature,
Hale and teeming, can replace
Strength by strength, and grace by grace,
Hope by hope, and friend by friend:
Trust; and take what God shall send.
So shall Alma Mater see
Daughters fair and wise
Train new lands of liberty
Under stranger skies;
Spreading round the teeming earth
English science, manhood, worth.

1862.

SONGS FROM 'THE WATER-BABIES'

THE TIDE RIVER

Clear and cool, clear and cool,
By laughing shallow, and dreaming pool;
Cool and clear, cool and clear,
By shining shingle, and foaming wear;
Under the crag where the ouzel sings,
And the ivied wall where the church-bell rings,
Undefiled, for the undefiled;
Play by me, bathe in me, mother and child.

Dank and foul, dank and foul,
By the smoky town in its murky cowl;
Foul and dank, foul and dank,
By wharf and sewer and slimy bank;
Darker and darker the farther I go,
Baser and baser the richer I grow;
Who dare sport with the sin-defiled?
Shrink from me, turn from me, mother and child.

Strong and free, strong and free,
The floodgates are open, away to the sea.
Free and strong, free and strong,
Cleansing my streams as I hurry along
To the golden sands, and the leaping bar,
And the taintless tide that awaits me afar,
As I lose myself in the infinite main,
Like a soul that has sinned and is pardoned again.
Undefiled, for the undefiled;
Play by me, bathe in me, mother and child.

From The Water-Babies.
Eversley, 1862.

YOUNG AND OLD

When all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.

When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among:
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.

From The Water-Babies. 1862

THE SUMMER SEA

Soft soft wind, from out the sweet south sliding,
Waft thy silver cloud webs athwart the summer sea;
Thin thin threads of mist on dewy fingers twining
Weave a veil of dappled gauze to shade my babe and me.

Deep deep Love, within thine own abyss abiding,
Pour Thyself abroad, O Lord, on earth and air and sea;
Worn weary hearts within Thy holy temple hiding,
Shield from sorrow, sin, and shame my helpless babe and me.

From The Water-Babies. 1862

MY LITTLE DOLL

I once had a sweet little doll, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world;
Her cheeks were so red and so white, dears,
And her hair was so charmingly curled.
But I lost my poor little doll, dears,
As I played in the heath one day;
And I cried for more than a week, dears,
But I never could find where she lay.

I found my poor little doll, dears,
As I played in the heath one day:
Folks say she is terribly changed, dears,
For her paint is all washed away,
And her arms trodden off by the cows, dears
And her hair not the least bit curled:
Yet for old sakes' sake she is still, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world.

From The Water-Babies.
Eversley, 1862.

THE KNIGHT'S LEAP: A LEGEND OF ALTENAHR

'So the foemen have fired the gate, men of mine;
And the water is spent and gone?
Then bring me a cup of the red Ahr-wine:
I never shall drink but this one.

'And reach me my harness, and saddle my horse,
And lead him me round to the door:
He must take such a leap to-night perforce,
As horse never took before.

'I have fought my fight, I have lived my life,
I have drunk my share of wine;
From Trier to Coln there was never a knight
Led a merrier life than mine.

'I have lived by the saddle for years two score;
And if I must die on tree,
Then the old saddle tree, which has borne me of yore,
Is the properest timber for me.

'So now to show bishop, and burgher, and priest,
How the Altenahr hawk can die:
If they smoke the old falcon out of his nest,
He must take to his wings and fly.'

He harnessed himself by the clear moonshine,
And he mounted his horse at the door;
And he drained such a cup of the red Ahr-wine,
As man never drained before.

He spurred the old horse, and he held him tight,
And he leapt him out over the wall;
Out over the cliff, out into the night,
Three hundred feet of fall.

They found him next morning below in the glen,
With never a bone in him whole--
A mass or a prayer, now, good gentlemen,
For such a bold rider's soul.

Eversley, 1864.

THE SONG OF THE LITTLE BALTUNG. A.D. 395

A harper came over the Danube so wide,
And he came into Alaric's hall,
And he sang the song of the little Baltung
To him and his heroes all.

How the old old Balt and the young young Balt
Rode out of Caucaland,
With the royal elephant's trunk on helm
And the royal lance in hand.

Thuringer heroes, counts and knights,
Pricked proud in their meinie;
For they were away to the great Kaiser,
In Byzant beside the sea.

And when they came to the Danube so wide
They shouted from off the shore,
'Come over, come over, ye Roman slaves,
And ferry your masters o'er.'

And when they came to Adrian's burgh,
With its towers so smooth and high,
'Come out, come out, ye Roman knaves,
And see your lords ride by.'

But when they came lo the long long walls
That stretch from sea to sea,
That old old Balt let down his chin,
And a thoughtful man grew he.

'Oh oft have I scoffed at brave Fridigern,
But never will I scoff more,
If these be the walls which kept him out
From the Micklegard there on the shore.'

Then out there came the great Kaiser,
With twice ten thousand men;
But never a Thuring was coward enough
To wish himself home again.

'Bow down, thou rebel, old Athanarich,
And beg thy life this day;
The Kaiser is lord of all the world,
And who dare say him nay?'

'I never came out of Caucaland
To beg for less nor more;
But to see the pride of the great Kaiser,
In his Micklegard here by the shore.

'I never came out of Caucaland
To bow to mortal wight,
But to shake the hand of the great Kaiser,
And God defend my right.'

He shook his hand, that cunning Kaiser,
And he kissed him courteouslie,
And he has ridden with Athanarich
That wonder-town to see.

He showed him his walls of marble white--
A mile o'erhead they shone;
Quoth the Balt, 'Who would leap into that garden,
King Siegfried's boots must own.'

He showed him his engines of arsmetrick
And his wells of quenchless flame,
And his flying rocks, that guarded his walls
From all that against him came.

He showed him his temples and pillared halls,
And his streets of houses high;
And his watch-towers tall, where his star-gazers
Sit reading the signs of the sky.

He showed him his ships with their hundred oars,
And their sides like a castle wall,
That fetch home the plunder of all the world,
At the Kaiser's beck and call.

He showed him all nations of every tongue
That are bred beneath the sun,
How they flowed together in Micklegard street
As the brooks flow all into one.

He showed him the shops of the china ware,
And of silk and sendal also,
And he showed him the baths and the waterpipes
On arches aloft that go.

He showed him ostrich and unicorn,
Ape, lion, and tiger keen;
And elephants wise roared 'Hail Kaiser!'
As though they had Christians been.

He showed him the hoards of the dragons and trolls,
Rare jewels and heaps of gold--
'Hast thou seen, in all thy hundred years,
Such as these, thou king so old?'

Now that cunning Kaiser was a scholar wise,
And could of gramarye,
And he cast a spell on that old old Balt,
Till lowly and meek spake he.

'Oh oft have I heard of the Micklegard,
What I held for chapmen's lies;
But now do I know of the Micklegard,
By the sight of mine own eyes.

'Woden in Valhalla,
But thou on earth art God;
And he that dare withstand thee, Kaiser,
On his own head lies his blood.'

Then out and spake that little Baltung,
Rode at the king's right knee,
Quoth 'Fridigern slew false Kaiser Valens,
And he died like you or me.'

'And who art thou, thou pretty bold boy,
Rides at the king's right knee?'
'Oh I am the Baltung, boy Alaric,
And as good a man as thee.'

'As good as me, thou pretty bold boy,
With down upon thy chin?'
'Oh a spae-wife laid a doom on me,
The best of thy realm to win.'

'If thou be so fierce, thou little wolf cub
Or ever thy teeth be grown;
Then I must guard my two young sons
Lest they should lose their own.'

'Oh, it's I will guard your two lither lads,
In their burgh beside the sea,
And it's I will prove true man to them
If they will prove true to me.

'But it's you must warn your two lither lads,
And warn them bitterly,
That if I shall find them two false Kaisers,
High hanged they both shall be.'

Now they are gone into the Kaiser's palace
To eat the peacock fine,
And they are gone into the Kaiser's palace
To drink the good Greek wine.

The Kaiser alone, and the old old Balt,
They sat at the cedar board;
And round them served on the bended knee
Full many a Roman lord.

'What ails thee, what ails thee, friend Athanarich?
What makes thee look so pale?'
'I fear I am poisoned, thou cunning Kaiser,
For I feel my heart-strings fail.

'Oh would I had kept that great great oath
I swore by the horse's head,
I would never set foot on Roman ground
Till the day that I lay dead.

'Oh would I were home in Caucaland,
To hear my harpers play,
And to drink my last of the nut-brown ale,
While I gave the gold rings away.

'Oh would I were home in Caucaland,
To hear the Gothmen's horn,
And watch the waggons, and brown brood mares
And the tents where I was born.

'But now I must die between four stone walls
In Byzant beside the sea:
And as thou shalt deal with my little Baltung,
So God shall deal with thee.'

The Kaiser he purged himself with oaths,
And he buried him royally,
And he set on his barrow an idol of gold,
Where all Romans must bow the knee.

And now the Goths are the Kaiser's men,
And guard him with lance and sword,
And the little Baltung is his sworn son-at-arms,
And eats at the Kaiser's board,

And the Kaiser's two sons are two false white lads
That a clerk may beat with cane.
The clerk that should beat that little Baltung
Would never sing mass again.

Oh the gates of Rome they are steel without,
And beaten gold within:
But they shall fly wide to the little Baltung
With the down upon his chin.

Oh the fairest flower in the Kaiser's garden
Is Rome and Italian land:
But it all shall fall to the little Baltung
When he shall take lance in hand.

And when he is parting the plunder of Rome,
He shall pay for this song of mine,
Neither maiden nor land, neither jewel nor gold,
But one cup of Italian wine.

Eversley, 1864.

ON THE DEATH OF LEOPOLD, KING OF THE BELGIANS {319}

A King is dead! Another master mind
Is summoned from the world-wide council hall.
Ah, for some seer, to say what links behind--
To read the mystic writing on the wall!

Be still, fond man: nor ask thy fate to know.
Face bravely what each God-sent moment brings.
Above thee rules in love, through weal and woe,
Guiding thy kings and thee, the King of kings.

Windsor Castle,
November 10, 1865.

EASTER WEEK

(Written for music to be sung at a parish industrial exhibition)

See the land, her Easter keeping,
Rises as her Maker rose.
Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from winter snows.
Earth with heaven above rejoices;
Fields and gardens hail the spring;
Shaughs and woodlands ring with voices,
While the wild birds build and sing.

You, to whom your Maker granted
Powers to those sweet birds unknown,
Use the craft by God implanted;
Use the reason not your own.
Here, while heaven and earth rejoices,
Each his Easter tribute bring--
Work of fingers, chant of voices,
Like the birds who build and sing.

Eversley, 1867.

DRIFTING AWAY: A FRAGMENT

They drift away. Ah, God! they drift for ever.
I watch the stream sweep onward to the sea,
Like some old battered buoy upon a roaring river,
Round whom the tide-waifs hang--then drift to sea.

I watch them drift--the old familiar faces,
Who fished and rode with me, by stream and wold,
Till ghosts, not men, fill old beloved places,
And, ah! the land is rank with churchyard mold.

I watch them drift--the youthful aspirations,
Shores, landmarks, beacons, drift alike.
. . . . .
I watch them drift--the poets and the statesmen;
The very streams run upward from the sea.
. . . . . .
Yet overhead the boundless arch of heaven
Still fades to night, still blazes into day.
. . . . .
Ah, God! My God! Thou wilt not drift away

November 1867.

CHRISTMAS DAY

How will it dawn, the coming Christmas Day?
A northern Christmas, such as painters love,
And kinsfolk, shaking hands but once a year,
And dames who tell old legends by the fire?
Red sun, blue sky, white snow, and pearled ice,
Keen ringing air, which sets the blood on fire,
And makes the old man merry with the young,
Through the short sunshine, through the longer night?
Or southern Christmas, dark and dank with mist,
And heavy with the scent of steaming leaves,
And rosebuds mouldering on the dripping porch;
One twilight, without rise or set of sun,
Till beetles drone along the hollow lane,
And round the leafless hawthorns, flitting bats
Hawk the pale moths of winter? Welcome then
At best, the flying gleam, the flying shower,
The rain-pools glittering on the long white roads,
And shadows sweeping on from down to down
Before the salt Atlantic gale: yet come
In whatsoever garb, or gay, or sad,
Come fair, come foul, 'twill still be Christmas Day.
How will it dawn, the coming Christmas Day?
To sailors lounging on the lonely deck
Beneath the rushing trade-wind? Or to him,
Who by some noisome harbour of the East,
Watches swart arms roll down the precious bales,
Spoils of the tropic forests; year by year
Amid the din of heathen voices, groaning
Himself half heathen? How to those--brave hearts!
Who toil with laden loins and sinking stride
Beside the bitter wells of treeless sands
Toward the peaks which flood the ancient Nile,
To free a tyrant's captives? How to those--
New patriarchs of the new-found underworld--
Who stand, like Jacob, on the virgin lawns,
And count their flocks' increase? To them that day
Shall dawn in glory, and solstitial blaze
Of full midsummer sun: to them that morn,
Gay flowers beneath their feet, gay birds aloft,
Shall tell of nought but summer: but to them,
Ere yet, unwarned by carol or by chime,
They spring into the saddle, thrills may come
From that great heart of Christendom which beats
Round all the worlds; and gracious thoughts of youth;
Of steadfast folk, who worship God at home;
Of wise words, learnt beside their mothers' knee;
Of innocent faces upturned once again
In awe and joy to listen to the tale
Of God made man, and in a manger laid--
May soften, purify, and raise the soul
From selfish cares, and growing lust of gain,
And phantoms of this dream which some call life,
Toward the eternal facts; for here or there,
Summer or winter, 'twill be Christmas Day.

Blest day, which aye reminds us, year by year,
What 'tis to be a man: to curb and spurn
The tyrant in us; that ignobler self
Which boasts, not loathes, its likeness to the brute,
And owns no good save ease, no ill save pain,
No purpose, save its share in that wild war
In which, through countless ages, living things
Compete in internecine greed.--Ah God!
Are we as creeping things, which have no Lord?
That we are brutes, great God, we know too well;
Apes daintier-featured; silly birds who flaunt
Their plumes unheeding of the fowler's step;
Spiders, who catch with paper, not with webs;
Tigers, who slay with cannon and sharp steel,
Instead of teeth and claws;--all these we are.
Are we no more than these, save in degree?
No more than these; and born but to compete--
To envy and devour, like beast or herb;
Mere fools of nature; puppets of strong lusts,
Taking the sword, to perish with the sword
Upon the universal battle-field,
Even as the things upon the moor outside?
The heath eats up green grass and delicate flowers,
The pine eats up the heath, the grub the pine,
The finch the grub, the hawk the silly finch;
And man, the mightiest of all beasts of prey,
Eats what he lists; the strong eat up the weak,
The many eat the few; great nations, small;
And he who cometh in the name of all--
He, greediest, triumphs by the greed of all;
And, armed by his own victims, eats up all:
While ever out of the eternal heavens
Looks patient down the great magnanimous God,
Who, Maker of all worlds, did sacrifice
All to Himself? Nay, but Himself to one;
Who taught mankind on that first Christmas Day,
What 'twas to be a man; to give, not take;
To serve, not rule; to nourish, not devour;
To help, not crush; if need, to die, not live.
O blessed day, which givest the eternal lie
To self, and sense, and all the brute within;
Oh, come to us, amid this war of life;
To hall and hovel, come; to all who toil
In senate, shop, or study; and to those
Who, sundered by the wastes of half a world,
Ill-warned, and sorely tempted, ever face
Nature's brute powers, and men unmanned to brutes--
Come to them, blest and blessing, Christmas Day.
Tell them once more the tale of Bethlehem;
The kneeling shepherds, and the Babe Divine:
And keep them men indeed, fair Christmas Day.

Eversley, 1868.

SEPTEMBER 21, 1870 {325}

Speak low, speak little; who may sing
While yonder cannon-thunders boom?
Watch, shuddering, what each day may bring:
Nor 'pipe amid the crack of doom.'

And yet--the pines sing overhead,
The robins by the alder-pool,
The bees about the garden-bed,
The children dancing home from school.

And ever at the loom of Birth
The mighty Mother weaves and sings:
She weaves--fresh robes for mangled earth;
She sings--fresh hopes for desperate things.

And thou, too: if through Nature's calm
Some strain of music touch thine ears,
Accept and share that soothing balm,
And sing, though choked with pitying tears.

Eversley, 1870.

THE MANGO-TREE

He wiled me through the furzy croft;
He wiled me down the sandy lane.
He told his boy's love, soft and oft,
Until I told him mine again.

We married, and we sailed the main;
A soldier, and a soldier's wife.
We marched through many a burning plain;
We sighed for many a gallant life.

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