Part 1 out of 3
This etext was prepared by David Price, email email@example.com
from the 1890 George Bell and Sons edition.
LEGENDS AND LYRICS - SECOND SERIES
by Adelaide Ann Proctor
A Legend of Provence
Over the Mountain
A Lost Chord
In the Wood
A New Mother
King and Slave
The Tyrant and the Captive
The Carver's Lesson
My Picture Gallery
Sent to Heaven
Philip and Mildred
Light and Shade
If Thou couldst know
The Warrior to his Dead Bride
A Remembrance of Autumn
Three Evenings in a Life
A Woman's Answer
The Story of the Faithful Soul
The Bride's Dream
The Angel's Bidding
The Inner Chamber
A Woman's Last Word
Past and Present
For the Future
VERSE: A LEGEND OF PROVENCE
The lights extinguished, by the hearth I leant,
Half weary with a listless discontent.
The flickering giant-shadows, gathering near,
Closed round me with a dim and silent fear.
All dull, all dark; save when the leaping flame,
Glancing, lit up a Picture's ancient frame.
Above the hearth it hung. Perhaps the night,
My foolish tremors, or the gleaming light,
Lent power to that Portrait dark and quaint -
A Portrait such as Rembrandt loved to paint -
The likeness of a Nun. I seemed to trace
A world of sorrow in the patient face,
In the thin hands folded across her breast -
Its own and the room's shadow hid the rest.
I gazed and dreamed, and the dull embers stirred,
Till an old legend that I once had heard
Came back to me; linked to the mystic gloom
Of that dark Picture in the ghostly room.
In the far south, where clustering vines are hung;
Where first the old chivalric lays were sung,
Where earliest smiled that gracious child of France,
Angel and knight and fairy, called Romance,
I stood one day. The warm blue June was spread
Upon the earth; blue summer overhead,
Without a cloud to fleck its radiant glare,
Without a breath to stir its sultry air.
All still, all silent, save the sobbing rush
Of rippling waves, that lapsed in silver hush
Upon the beach; where, glittering towards the strand,
The purple Mediterranean kissed the land.
All still, all peaceful; when a convent chime
Broke on the mid-day silence for a time,
Then trembling into quiet, seemed to cease,
In deeper silence and more utter peace.
So as I turned to gaze, where gleaming white,
Half hid by shadowy trees from passers' sight,
The Convent lay, one who had dwelt for long
In that fair home of ancient tale and song,
Who knew the story of each cave and hill,
And every haunting fancy lingering still
Within the land, spake thus to me, and told
The Convent's treasured Legend, quaint and old:
Long years ago, a dense and flowering wood,
Still more concealed where the white convent stood,
Borne on its perfumed wings the title came:
"Our Lady of the Hawthorns" is its name.
Then did that bell, which still rings out to-day,
Bid all the country rise, or eat, or pray.
Before that convent shrine, the haughty knight
Passed the lone vigil of his perilous fight;
For humbler cottage strife or village brawl,
The Abbess listened, prayed, and settled all.
Young hearts that came, weighed down by love or wrong,
Left her kind presence comforted and strong.
Each passing pilgrim, and each beggar's right
Was food, and rest, and shelter for the night.
But, more than this, the Nuns could well impart
The deepest mysteries of the healing art;
Their store of herbs and simples was renowned,
And held in wondering faith for miles around.
Thus strife, love, sorrow, good and evil fate,
Found help and blessing at the convent gate.
Of all the nuns, no heart was half so light,
No eyelids veiling glances half as bright,
No step that glided with such noiseless feet,
No face that looked so tender or so sweet,
No voice that rose in choir so pure, so clear,
No heart to all the others half so dear,
So surely touched by others' pain or woe,
(Guessing the grief her young life could not know,)
No soul in childlike faith so undefiled,
As Sister Angela's, the "Convent Child."
For thus they loved to call her. She had known
No home, no love, no kindred, save their own.
An orphan, to their tender nursing given,
Child, plaything, pupil, now the Bride of Heaven.
And she it was who trimmed the lamp's red light
That swung before the altar, day and night;
Her hands it was whose patient skill could trace
The finest broidery, weave the costliest lace;
But most of all, her first and dearest care,
The office she would never miss or share,
Was every day to weave fresh garlands sweet,
To place before the shrine at Mary's feet.
Nature is bounteous in that region fair,
For even winter has her blossoms there.
Thus Angela loved to count each feast the best,
By telling with what flowers the shrine was dressed.
In pomp supreme the countless Roses passed,
Battalion on battalion thronging fast,
Each with a different banner, flaming bright,
Damask, or striped, or crimson, pink, or white,
Until they bowed before a newborn queen,
And the pure virgin Lily rose serene.
Though Angela always thought the Mother blest
Must love the time of her own hawthorn best,
Each evening through the year, with equal, care,
She placed her flowers; then kneeling down in prayer,
As their faint perfume rose before the shrine,
So rose her thoughts, as pure and as divine.
She knelt until the shades grew dim without,
Till one by one the altar lights shone out,
Till one by one the Nuns, like shadows dim,
Gathered around to chant their vesper hymn;
Her voice then led the music's winged flight,
And "Ave, Maris Stella" filled the night.
But wherefore linger on those days of peace?
When storms draw near, then quiet hours must cease.
War, cruel war, defaced the land, and came
So near the convent with its breath of flame,
That, seeking shelter, frightened peasants fled,
Sobbing out tales of coming fear and dread,
Till after a fierce skirmish, down the road,
One night came straggling soldiers, with their load
Of wounded, dying comrades; and the band,
Half pleading yet as if they could command,
Summoned the trembling Sisters, craved their care,
Then rode away, and left the wounded there.
But soon compassion bade all fear depart.
And bidding every Sister do her part,
Some prepare simples, healing salves, or bands,
The Abbess chose the more experienced hands,
To dress the wounds needing most skilful care;
Yet even the youngest Novice took her share.
To Angela, who had but ready will
And tender pity, yet no special skill,
Was given the charge of a young foreign knight,
Whose wounds were painful, but whose danger slight.
Day after day she watched beside his bed,
And first in hushed repose the hours fled:
His feverish moans alone the silence stirred,
Or her soft voice, uttering some pious word.
At last the fever left him; day by day
The hours, no longer silent, passed away.
What could she speak of? First, to still his plaints,
She told him legends of the martyred Saints;
Described the pangs, which, through God's plenteous grace,
Had gained their souls so high and bright a place.
This pious artifice soon found success -
Or so she fancied--for he murmured less.
So she described the glorious pomp sublime,
In which the chapel shone at Easter time,
The Banners, Vestments, gold, and colours bright,
Counted how many tapers gave their light;
Then, in minute detail went on to say,
How the High Altar looked on Christmas-day:
The kings and shepherds, all in green and red,
And a bright star of jewels overhead.
Then told the sign by which they all had seen,
How even nature loved to greet her Queen,
For, when Our Lady's last procession went
Down the long garden, every head was bent,
And, rosary in hand, each Sister prayed;
As the long floating banners were displayed,
They struck the hawthorn boughs, and showers and showers
Of buds and blossoms strewed her way with flowers.
The Knight unwearied listened; till at last,
He too described the glories of his past;
Tourney, and joust, and pageant bright and fair,
And all the lovely ladies who were there.
But half incredulous she heard. Could this -
This be the world? this place of love and bliss!
Where then was hid the strange and hideous charm,
That never failed to bring the gazer harm?
She crossed herself, yet asked, and listened still,
And still the knight described with all his skill
The glorious world of joy, all joys above,
Transfigured in the golden mist of love.
Spread, spread your wings, ye angel guardians bright,
And shield these dazzling phantoms from her sight!
But no; days passed, matins and vespers rang,
And still the quiet Nuns toiled, prayed, and sang,
And never guessed the fatal, coiling net
Which every day drew near, and nearer yet,
Around their darling; for she went and came
About her duties, outwardly the same.
The same? ah, no! even when she knelt to pray,
Some charmed dream kept all her heart away.
So days went on, until the convent gate
Opened one night. Who durst go forth so late?
Across the moonlit grass, with stealthy tread,
Two silent, shrouded figures passed and fled.
And all was silent, save the moaning seas,
That sobbed and pleaded, and a wailing breeze
That sighed among the perfumed hawthorn trees.
What need to tell that dream so bright and brief,
Of joy unchequered by a dread of grief?
What need to tell how all such dreams must fade,
Before the slow, foreboding, dreaded shade,
That floated nearer, until pomp and pride,
Pleasure and wealth, were summoned to her side.
To bid, at least, the noisy hours forget,
And clamour down the whispers of regret.
Still Angela strove to dream, and strove in vain;
Awakened once, she could not sleep again.
She saw, each day and hour, more worthless grown
The heart for which she cast away her own;
And her soul learnt, through bitterest inward strife,
The slight, frail love for which she wrecked her life,
The phantom for which all her hope was given,
The cold bleak earth for which she bartered heaven!
But all in vain; would even the tenderest heart
Now stoop to take so poor an outcast's part?
Years fled, and she grew reckless more and more,
Until the humblest peasant closed his door,
And where she passed, fair dames, in scorn and pride,
Shuddered, and drew their rustling robes aside.
At last a yearning seemed to fill her soul,
A longing that was stronger than control:
Once more, just once again, to see the place
That knew her young and innocent; to retrace
The long and weary southern path; to gaze
Upon the haven of her childish days;
Once more beneath the convent roof to lie;
Once more to look upon her home--and die!
Weary and worn--her comrades, chill remorse
And black despair, yet a strange silent force
Within her heart, that drew her more and more -
Onward she crawled, and begged from door to door.
Weighed down with weary days, her failing strength
Grew less each hour, till one day's dawn at length,
As first its rays flooded the world with light,
Showed the broad waters, glittering blue and bright,
And where, amid the leafy hawthorn wood,
Just as of old the quiet cloister stood.
Would any know her? Nay, no fear. Her face
Had lost all trace of youth, of joy, of grace,
Of the pure happy soul they used to know -
The novice Angela--so long ago.
She rang the convent bell. The well-known sound
Smote on her heart, and bowed her to the ground,
And she, who had not wept for long dry years,
Felt the strange rush of unaccustomed tears;
Terror and anguish seemed to check her breath,
And stop her heart. Oh God! could this be death?
Crouching against the iron gate, she laid
Her weary head against the bars, and prayed:
But nearer footsteps drew, then seemed to wait:
And then she heard the opening of the grate,
And saw the withered face, on which awoke
Pity and sorrow, as the portress spoke,
And asked the stranger's bidding: "Take me in,"
She faltered, "Sister Monica, from sin,
And sorrow, and despair, that will not cease;
Oh, take me in, and let me die in peace!"
With soothing words the Sister bade her wait,
Until she brought the key to unbar the gate.
The beggar tried to thank her as she lay,
And heard the echoing footsteps die away.
But what soft voice was that which sounded near,
And stirred strange trouble in her heart to hear?
She raised her head; she saw--she seemed to know -
A face that came from long, long years ago:
Herself; yet not as when she fled away,
The young and blooming novice, fair and gay,
But a grave woman, gentle and serene:
The outcast knew it--WHAT SHE MIGHT HAVE BEEN.
But, as she gazed and gazed, a radiance bright
Filled all the place with strange and sudden light;
The Nun was there no longer, but instead,
A figure with a circle round its head,
A ring of glory; and a face, so meek,
So soft, so tender . . . Angela strove to speak,
And stretched her hands out, crying, "Mary mild,
Mother of mercy, help me!--help your child!"
And Mary answered, "From thy bitter past,
Welcome, my child! oh, welcome home at last!
I filled thy place. Thy flight is known to none,
For all thy daily duties I have done;
Gathered thy flowers, and prayed, and sung, and slept;
Didst thou not know, poor child, THY PLACE WAS KEPT?
Kind hearts are here; yet would the tenderest one
Have limits to its mercy: God has none.
And man's forgiveness may be true and sweet,
But yet he stoops to give it. More complete
Is Love that lays forgiveness at thy feet,
And pleads with thee to raise it. Only Heaven
Means CROWNED, not VANQUISHED, when it says 'Forgiven!'"
Back hurried Sister Monica; but where
Was the poor beggar she left lying there?
Gone; and she searched in vain, and sought the place
For that wan woman with the piteous face:
But only Angela at the gateway stood,
Laden with hawthorn blossoms from the wood.
And never did a day pass by again,
But the old portress, with a sigh of pain,
Would sorrow for her loitering: with a prayer
That the poor beggar, in her wild despair,
Might not have come to any ill; and when
She ended, "God forgive her!" humbly then
Did Angela bow her head, and say "Amen!"
How pitiful her heart was! all could trace
Something that dimmed the brightness of her face
After that day, which none had seen before;
Not trouble--but a shadow--nothing more.
Years passed away. Then, one dark day of dread
Saw all the sisters kneeling round a bed,
Where Angela lay dying; every breath
Struggling beneath the heavy hand of death.
But suddenly a flush lit up her cheek,
She raised her wan right hand, and strove to speak.
In sorrowing love they listened; not a sound
Or sigh disturbed the utter silence round.
The very tapers' flames were scarcely stirred,
In such hushed awe the sisters knelt and heard.
And through that silence Angela told her life:
Her sin, her flight; the sorrow and the strife,
And the return; and then clear, low and calm,
"Praise God for me, my sisters;" and the psalm
Rang up to heaven, far and clear and wide,
Again and yet again, then sank and died;
While her white face had such a smile of peace,
They saw she never heard the music cease;
And weeping sisters laid her in her tomb,
Crowned with a wreath of perfumed hawthorn bloom.
And thus the Legend ended. It may be
Something is hidden in the mystery,
Besides the lesson of God's pardon shown,
Never enough believed, or asked, or known.
Have we not all, amid life's petty strife,
Some pure ideal of a noble life
That once seemed possible? Did we not hear
The flutter of its wings, and feel it near,
And just within our reach? It was. And yet
We lost it in this daily jar and fret,
And now live idle in a vague regret.
But still OUR PLACE IS KEPT, and it will wait,
Ready for us to fill it, soon or late:
No star is ever lost we once have seen,
We always may be what we might have been.
Since Good, though only thought, has life and breath,
God's life--can always be redeemed from death;
And evil, in its nature, is decay,
And any hour can blot it all away;
The hopes that lost in some far distance seem,
May be the truer life, and this the dream.
He was the first always: Fortune
Shone bright in his face.
I fought for years; with no effort
He conquered the place:
We ran; my feet were all bleeding,
But he won the race.
Spite of his many successes
Men loved him the same;
My one pale ray of good fortune
Met scoffing and blame.
When we erred, they gave him pity,
But me--only shame.
My home was still in the shadow,
His lay in the sun:
I longed in vain: what he asked for
It straightway was done.
Once I staked all my heart's treasure,
We played--and he won.
Yes; and just now I have seen him,
Cold, smiling, and blest,
Laid in his coffin. God help me!
While he is at rest,
I am cursed still to live:- even
Death loved him the best.
VERSE: OVER THE MOUNTAIN
Like dreary prison walls
The stern grey mountains rise,
Until their topmost crags
Touch the far gloomy skies:
One steep and narrow path
Winds up the mountain's crest,
And from our valley leads
Out to the golden West.
I dwell here in content,
Thankful for tranquil days;
And yet, my eyes grow dim,
As still I gaze and gaze
Upon that mountain pass,
That leads--or so it seems -
To some far happy land,
Known in a world of dreams.
And as I watch that path
Over the distant hill,
A foolish longing comes
My heart and soul to fill,
A painful, strange desire
To break some weary bond,
A vague unuttered wish
For what might lie beyond!
In that far world unknown,
Over that distant hill,
May dwell the loved and lost,
Lost--yet beloved still;
I have a yearning hope,
Half longing, and half pain,
That by that mountain pass
They may return again.
Space may keep friends apart,
Death has a mighty thrall;
There is another gulf
Harder to cross than all;
Yet watching that far road,
My heart beats full and fast -
If they should come once more,
If they should come at last!
See, down the mountain side
The silver vapours creep;
They hide the rocky cliffs.
They hide the craggy steep,
They hide the narrow path
That comes across the hill -
Oh, foolish longing, cease,
Oh, beating Heart, be still!
We must not doubt, or fear, or dread, that love for life is only
And that the calm and sainted dead will meet estranged and cold in
Oh, Love were poor and vain indeed, based on so harsh and stern a
True that this earth must pass away, with all the starry worlds of
With all the glory of the day, and calmer tenderness of night;
For, in that radiant home can shine alone the immortal and divine.
Earth's lower things--her pride, her fame, her science, learning,
wealth and power -
Slow growths that through long ages came, or fruits of some
Whose very memory must decay--Heaven is too pure for such as they.
They are complete: their work is done. So let them sleep in
Love's life is only here begun, nor is, nor can be, fully blest;
It has no room to spread its wings, amid this crowd of meaner
Just for the very shadow thrown upon its sweetness here below,
The cross that it must bear alone, and bloody baptism of woe,
Crowned and completed through its pain, we know that it shall rise
So if its flame burn pure and bright, here, where our air is dark
And nothing in this world of night lives with a living so intense;
When it shall reach its home at length--how bright its light! how
strong its strength!
And while the vain weak loves of earth (for such base counterfeits
Shall perish with what gave them birth--their graves are green and
No funeral song shall need to rise, for the true Love that never
If in my heart I now could fear that, risen again, we should not
What was our Life of Life when here--the hearts we loved so much
I would arise this very day, and cast so poor a thing away.
But Love is no such soulless clod: living, perfected it shall rise
Transfigured in the light of God, and giving glory to the skies:
And that which makes this life so sweet, shall render Heaven's joy
VERSE: A WARNING
Place your hands in mine, dear,
With their rose-leaf touch:
If you heed my warning,
It will spare you much.
Ah! with just such smiling
Years ago I heard it:-
You shall be more wise.
You have one great treasure
Joy for all your life;
Do not let it perish
In one reckless strife.
Do not venture all, child,
In one frail, weak heart;
So, through any shipwreck,
You may save a part.
Where your soul is tempted
Most to trust your fate,
There, with double caution,
Linger, fear, and wait.
Measure all you give--still
Counting what you take;
Love for love: so placing
Each an equal stake.
Treasure love; though ready
Still to live without.
In your fondest trust, keep
Just one thread of doubt.
Build on no to-morrow;
Love has but to-day:
If the links seem slackening,
Cut the bond away.
Trust no prayer nor promise;
Words are grains of sand;
To keep your heart unbroken,
Hold it in your hand.
That your love may finish
Calm as it begun,
Learn this lesson better,
Dear, than I have done.
Years hence, perhaps, this warning
You shall give again,
In just the self-same words, dear,
And--just as much--in vain.
Many, if God should make them kings,
Might not disgrace the throne He gave;
How few who could as well fulfil
The holier office of a slave.
I hold him great who, for Love's sake
Can give, with generous, earnest will, -
Yet he who takes for Love's sweet sake,
I think I hold more generous still.
I prize the instinct that can turn
From vain pretence with proud disdain;
Yet more I prize a simple heart;
Paying credulity with pain.
I bow before the noble mind
That freely some great wrong forgives;
Yet nobler is the one forgiven,
Who bears that burden well, and lives.
It may be hard to gain, and still
To keep a lowly steadfast heart
Yet he who loses has to fill
A harder and a truer part.
Glorious it is to wear the crown
Of a deserved and pure success; -
He who knows how to fail has won
A Crown whose lustre is not less.
Great may he be who can command
And rule with just and tender sway;
Yet is diviner wisdom taught
Better by him who can obey.
Blessed are those who die for God,
And earn the Martyr's crown of light -
Yet he who lives for God may be
A greater Conqueror in His sight.
There is a deep and subtle snare
Whose sure temptation hardly fails,
Which, just because it looks so fair,
Only a noble heart assails.
So all the more we need be strong
Against this false and seeming Right;
Which none the less is deadly wrong,
Because it glitters clothed in light.
When duties unfulfilled remain,
Or noble works are left unplanned,
Or when great deeds cry out in vain
On coward heart and trembling hand, -
Then will a seeming Angel speak: -
"The hours are fleeting--great the need -
If thou art strong and others weak,
Thine be the effort and the deed.
"Deaf are their ears who ought to hear;
Idle their hands, and dull their soul;
While sloth, or ignorance, or fear,
Fetters them with a blind control.
"Sort thou the tangled web aright;
Take thou the toil--take thou the pain:
For fear the hour begin its flight,
While Right and Duty plead in vain."
And now it is I bid thee pause,
Nor let this Tempter bend thy will:
There are diviner, truer laws
That teach a nobler lesson still.
Learn that each duty makes its claim
Upon one soul: not each on all.
How, if God speaks thy Brother's name,
Dare thou make answer to the call?
The greater peril in the strife,
The less this evil should be done;
For as in battle, so in life,
Danger and honour still are one.
Arouse him then:- this is thy part:
Show him the claim; point out the need;
And nerve his arm, and cheer his heart;
Then stand aside, and say "God speed!"
Smooth thou his path ere it is trod;
Burnish the arms that he must wield;
And pray, with all thy strength, that God
May crown him Victor of the field.
And then, I think, thy soul shall feel
A nobler thrill of true content,
Than if presumptuous, eager zeal
Had seized a crown for others meant.
And even that very deed shall shine
In mystic sense, divine and true,
More wholly and more purely thine -
Because it is another's too.
VERSE: A LOST CHORD
Seated one day at the Organ,
I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys.
I do not know what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then;
But I struck one chord of music,
Like the sound of a great Amen.
It flooded the crimson twilight
Like the close of an Angel's Psalm,
And it lay on my fevered spirit
With a touch of infinite calm.
It quieted pain and sorrow,
Like love overcoming strife;
It seemed the harmonious echo
From our discordant life.
It linked all perplexed meanings
Into one perfect peace,
And trembled away into silence
As if it were loth to cease.
I have sought, but I seek it vainly,
That one lost chord divine,
Which came from the soul of the Organ,
And entered into mine.
It may be that Death's bright angel
Will speak in that chord again, -
It may be that only in Heaven
I shall hear that grand Amen.
VERSE: TOO LATE
Hush! speak low; tread softly;
Draw the sheet aside; -
Yes, she does look peaceful;
With that smile she died.
Yet stern want and sorrow
Even now you trace
On the wan, worn features
Of the still white face.
Restless, helpless, hopeless,
Was her bitter part; -
Now--how still the Violets
Lie upon her Heart!
She who toiled and laboured
For her daily bread;
See the velvet hangings
Of this stately bed.
Yes, they did forgive her;
Brought her home at last;
Strove to cover over
Their relentless past.
Ah, they would have given
Wealth, and home, and pride,
To see her just look happy
Once before she died!
They strove hard to please her,
But, when death is near
All you know is deadened,
Hope, and joy, and fear.
And besides, one sorrow
Deeper still--one pain
Was beyond them: healing
Came to-day--in vain!
If she had but lingered
Just a few hours more;
Or had this letter reached her
Just one day before!
I can almost pity
Even him to-day;
Though he let this anguish
Eat her heart away.
Yet she never blamed him:-
One day you shall know
How this sorrow happened;
It was long ago.
I have read the letter:
Many a weary year,
For one word she hungered -
There are thousands here.
If she could but hear it,
Could but understand;
See--I put the letter
In her cold white hand.
Even these words, so longed for,
Do not stir her rest;
Well--I should not murmur,
For God judges best.
She needs no more pity, -
But I mourn his fate,
When he hears his letter
Came a day too late.
VERSE: THE REQUITAL
Loud roared the Tempest,
Fast fell the sleet;
A little Child Angel
Passed down the street,
With trailing pinions,
And weary feet.
The moon was hidden;
No stars were bright;
So she could not shelter
In heaven that night,
For the Angels' ladders
Are rays of light.
She beat her wings
At each window pane,
And pleaded for shelter,
But all in vain: -
"Listen," they said,
"To the pelting rain!"
She sobbed, as the laughter
And mirth grew higher,
"Give me rest and shelter
Beside your fire,
And I will give you
Your heart's desire."
The dreamer sat watching
His embers gleam,
While his heart was floating
Down hope's bright stream;
. . . So he wove her wailing
Into his dream.
The worker toiled on,
For his time was brief;
The mourner was nursing
Her own pale grief:
They heard not the promise
That brought relief.
But fiercer the Tempest
Rose than before,
When the Angel paused
At a humble door,
And asked for shelter
And help once more.
A weary woman,
Pale, worn, and thin,
With the brand upon her
Of want and sin,
Heard the Child Angel
And took her in.
Took her in gently,
And did her best
To dry her pinions;
And made her rest
With tender pity
Upon her breast.
When the eastern morning
Grew bright and red,
Up the first sunbeam
The Angel fled;
Having kissed the woman
And left her--dead.
VERSE: RETURNED--"MISSING" (FIVE YEARS AFTER)
Yes, I was sad and anxious,
But now, dear, I am gay;
I know that it is wisest
To put all hope away:-
Thank God that I have done so
And can be calm to-day.
For hope deferred--you know it,
Once made my heart so sick:
Now, I expect no longer;
It is but the old trick
Of hope, that makes me tremble,
And makes my heart beat quick.
All day I sit here calmly;
Not as I did before,
Watching for one whose footstep
Comes never, never more . . .
Hush! was that someone passing,
Who paused beside the door?
For years I hung on chances,
Longing for just one word;
At last I feel it:- silence
Will never more be stirred . . .
Tell me once more that rumour,
You fancied you had heard.
Life has more things to dwell on
Than just one useless pain,
Useless and past for ever;
But noble things remain,
And wait us all: . . . you too, dear,
Do you think hope quite vain?
All others have forgotten,
'Tis right I should forget,
Nor live on a keen longing
Which shadows forth regret: . . .
Are not the letters coming?
The sun is almost set.
Now that my restless legion
Of hopes and fears is fled,
Reading is joy and comfort . . .
. . .This very day I read,
Oh, such a strange returning
Of one whom all thought dead!
Not that _I_ dream or fancy,
You know all that is past;
Earth has no hope to give me,
And yet:- Time flies so fast
That all but the impossible
Might be brought back at last.
VERSE: IN THE WOOD
In the wood where shadows are deepest
From the branches overhead,
Where the wild wood-strawberries cluster
And the softest moss is spread,
I met to-day with a fairy,
And I followed her where she led.
Some magical words she uttered,
I alone could understand,
For the sky grew bluer and brighter;
While there rose on either hand
The cloudy walls of a palace
That was built in Fairy-land.
And I stood in a strange enchantment;
I had known it all before:
In my heart of hearts was the magic
Of days that will come no more,
The manic of joy departed,
That Time can never restore.
That never, ah, never, never,
Never again can be:-
Shall I tell you what powerful fairy
Built up this palace for me?
It was only a little white Violet
I found at the root of a tree.
VERSE: TWO WORLDS
God's world is bathed in beauty,
God's world is steeped in light;
It is the self-same glory
That makes the day so bright,
Which thrills the earth with music,
Or hangs the stars in night.
Hid in earth's mines of silver,
Floating on clouds above, -
Ringing in Autumn's tempest,
Murmured by every dove;
One thought fills God's creation -
His own great name of Love!
In God's world Strength is lovely,
And so is Beauty strong,
And Light--God's glorious shadow -
To both great gifts belong;
And they all melt into sweetness,
And fill the earth with Song.
Above God's world bends Heaven,
With day's kiss pure and bright,
Or folds her still more fondly
In the tender shade of night;
And she casts back Heaven's sweetness,
In fragrant love and light.
God's world has one great echo;
Whether calm blue mists are curled,
Or lingering dew-drops quiver,
Or red storms are unfurled;
The same deep love is throbbing
Through the great heart of God's world.
Man's world is black and blighted,
Steeped through with self and sin;
And should his feeble purpose
Some feeble good begin,
The work is marred and tainted
By Leprosy within.
Man's world is bleak and bitter;
Wherever he has trod
He spoils the tender beauty
That blossoms on the sod,
And blasts the loving Heaven
Of the great, good world of God.
There Strength on coward weakness
In cruel might will roll;
Beauty and Joy are cankers
That eat away the soul;
And Love--Oh God, avenge it -
The plague-spot of the whole.
Man's world is Pain and Terror;
He found it pure and fair,
And wove in nets of sorrow
The golden summer air.
Black, hideous, cold, and dreary,
Man's curse, not God's, is there.
And yet God's world is speaking:
Man will not hear it call;
But listens where the echoes
Of his own discords fall,
Then clamours back to Heaven
That God has done it all.
Oh God, man's heart is darkened,
He will not understand!
Show him Thy cloud and fire;
And, with Thine own right hand
Then lead him through his desert,
Back to Thy Holy Land!
VERSE: A NEW MOTHER
I was with my lady when she died:
I it was who guided her weak hand
For a blessing on each little head,
Laid her baby by her on the bed,
Heard the words they could not understand.
And I drew them round my knee that night,
Hushed their childish glee, and made them say
They would keep her words with loving tears,
They would not forget her dying fears
Lest the thought of her should fade away.
I, who guessed what her last dread had been,
Made a promise to that still, cold face,
That her children's hearts, at any cost,
Should be with the mother they had lost,
When a stranger came to take her place.
And I knew so much! for I had lived
With my lady since her childhood: known
What her young and happy days had been,
And the grief no other eyes had seen
I had watched and sorrowed for alone.
Ah! she once had such a happy smile!
I had known how sorely she was tried:
Six short years before, her eyes were bright
As her little blue-eyed May's that night,
When she stood by her dead mother's side.
No--I will not say he was unkind;
But she had been used to love and praise.
He was somewhat grave--perhaps, in truth,
Could not weave her joyous, smiling youth,
Into all his stern and serious ways.
She, who should have reigned a blooming flower,
First in pride and honour, as in grace, -
She, whose will had once ruled all around,
Queen and darling of us all--she found
Change indeed in that cold, stately place.
Yet she would not blame him, even to me,
Though she often sat and wept alone;
But she could not hide it near her death,
When she said with her last struggling breath,
"Let my babies still remain my own!"
I it was who drew the sheet aside,
When he saw his dead wife's face. That test
Seemed to strike right to his heart. He said,
In a strange, low whisper, to the dead,
"God knows, love, I did it for the best!"
And he wept--Oh yes, I will be just -
When I brought the children to him there -
Wondering sorrow in their baby eyes;
And he soothed them with his fond replies,
Bidding me give double love and care.
Ah, I loved them well for her dear sake:
Little Arthur, with his serious air;
May, with all her mother's pretty ways,
Blushing, and at any word of praise
Shaking out her sunny golden hair.
And the little one of all--poor child!
She had cost that dear and precious life.
Once Sir Arthur spoke my lady's name,
When the baby's gloomy christening came,
And he called her "Olga--like my wife!"
Save that time, he never spoke of her;
He grew graver, sterner, every day;
And the children felt it, for they dropped
Low their voices, and their laughter stopped
While he stood and watched them at their play.
No, he never named their mother's name.
But I told them of her: told them all
She had been; so gentle, good, and bright;
And I always took them every night
Where her picture hung in the great hall.
There she stood: white daisies in her hand,
And her red lips parted as to speak
With a smile; the blue and sunny air
Seemed to stir her floating golden hair,
And to bring a faint blush on her cheek.
Well, so time passed on; a year was gone,
And Sir Arthur had been much away.
Then the news came! I shed many tears
When I saw the truth of all my fears
Rise before me on that bitter day.
Any one but her I could have borne!
But my lady loved her as her friend.
Through their childhood and their early youth,
How she used to count upon the truth
Of this friendship that would never end!
Older, graver than my lady was,
Whose young, gentle heart on her relied,
She would give advice, and praise, and blame,
And my lady leant on Margaret's name,
As her dearest comfort, help, and guide.
I had never liked her, and I think
That my lady grew to doubt her too,
Since her marriage; for she named her less,
Never saw her, and I used to guess
At some secret wrong I never knew.
That might be or not. But now, to hear
She would come and reign here in her stead,
With the pomp and splendour of a bride:
Would no thought reproach her in her pride
With the silent memory of the dead?
So, the day came, and the bells rang out,
And I laid the children's black aside;
And I held each little trembling hand,
As I strove to make them understand
They must greet their father's new-made bride.
Ah, Sir Arthur might look grave and stern,
And his lady's eyes might well grow dim,
When the children shrank in fear away, -
Little Arthur hid his face, and May
Would not raise her eyes, or speak to him.
When Sir Arthur bade them greet their "mother,"
I was forced to chide, yet proud to hear
How my little loving May replied,
With her mother's pretty air of pride, -
"Our dear mother has been dead a year!"
Ah, the lady's tears might well fall fast,
As she kissed them, and then turned away.
She might strive to smile or to forget,
But I think some shadow of regret
Must have risen to blight her wedding-day.
She had some strange touch of self-reproach;
For she used to linger day by day,
By the nursery door, or garden gate,
With a sad, calm, wistful look, and wait
Watching the three children at their play.
But they always shrank away from her
When she strove to comfort their alarms,
And their grave, cold silence to beguile:
Even little Olga's baby-smile
Quivered into tears when in her arms.
I could never chide them: for I saw
How their mother's memory grew more deep
In their hearts. Each night I had to tell
Stories of her whom I loved so well
When a child, to send them off to sleep.
But Sir Arthur--Oh, this was too hard! -
He, who had been always stern and sad
In my lady's time, seemed to rejoice
Each day more; and I could hear his voice
Even, sounding younger and more glad.
He might perhaps have blamed them, but his wife
Never failed to take the children's part:
She would stay him with her pleading tone,
Saying she would strive, and strive alone,
Till she gained each little wayward heart.
And she strove indeed, and seemed to be
Always waiting for their love, in vain;
Yet, when May had most her mother's look,
Then the lady's calm, cold accents shook
With some memory of reproachful pain.
Little May would never call her Mother:
So, one day, the lady, bending low,
Kissed her golden curls, and softly said,
"Sweet one, call me Margaret, instead, -
Your dear mother used to call me so."
She was gentle, kind, and patient too,
Yet in vain: the children held apart.
Ah, their mother's gentle memory dwelt
Near them, and her little orphans felt
She had the first claim upon their heart.
So three years passed; then the war broke out;
And a rumour seemed to spread and rise;
First we guessed what sorrow must befall,
Then all doubt fled, for we read it all
In the depths of her despairing eyes.
Yes; Sir Arthur had been called away
To that scene of slaughter, fear, and strife, -
Now he seemed to know with double pain,
The cold, bitter gulf that must remain
To divide his children from his wife.
Nearer came the day he was to sail,
Deeper grew the coming woe and fear,
When, one night, the children at my knee
Knelt to say their evening prayer to me,
I looked up and saw Sir Arthur near.
There they knelt with folded hands, and said
Low, soft words in stammering accents sweet;
In the firelight shone their golden hair
And white robes: my darlings looked so fair,
With their little bare and rosy feet!
There he waited till their low "Amen;"
Stopped the rosy lips raised for "Good night!" -
Drew them with a fond clasp, close and near,
As he bade them stay with him, and hear
Something that would make his heart more light.
Little Olga crept into his arms;
Arthur leant upon his shoulder; May
Knelt beside him, with her earnest eyes
Lifted up in patient, calm surprise -
I can almost hear his words to-day.
"Years ago, my children, years ago,
When your mother was a child, she came
From her northern home, and here she met
Love for love, and comfort for regret,
In one early friend,--you know her name.
"And this friend--a few years older--gave
Such fond care, such love, that day by day
The new home grew happy, joy complete,
Studies easier, and play more sweet,
While all childish sorrows passed away.
"And your mother--fragile, like my May -
Leant on this deep love,--nor leant in vain.
For this friend (strong, generous, noble heart!)
Gave the sweet, and took the bitter part, -
Brought her all the joy, and kept the pain.
"Years passed on, and then I saw them first:
It was hard to say which was most fair,
Your sweet mother's bright and blushing face,
Or the graver Margaret's stately grace;
Golden locks, or braided raven hair.
"Then it happened, by a strange, sad fate,
One thought entered into each young soul:
Joy for one--if for the other pain;
Loss for one--if for the other gain:
One must lose, and one possess the whole.
"And so this--this--what they cared for--came
And belonged to Margaret: was her own.
But she laid the gift aside, to take
Pain and sorrow for your mother's sake,
And none knew it but herself alone.
"Then she travelled far away, and none
The strange mystery of her absence knew.
Margaret's secret thought was never told:
Even your mother thought her changed and cold,
And for many years I thought so too.
"She was gone; and then your mother took
That poor gift which Margaret laid aside:
Flower, or toy, or trinket, matters not:
What it was had better be forgot . . .
It was just then she became my bride.
"Now, I think May knows the hope I have.
Arthur, darling, can you guess the rest?
Even my little Olga understands
Great gifts can be given by little hands,
Since of all gifts Love is still the best.
"Margaret is my dear and honoured wife,
And I hold her so. But she can claim
From your hearts, dear ones, a loving debt
I can neither pay, nor yet forget:
You can give it in your mother's name.
"Earth spoils even Love, and here a shade
On the purest, noblest heart may fall:
Now your mother dwells in perfect light,
She will bless us, I believe, to-night, -
She is happy now, and she knows all."
Next day was farewell--a day of tears;
Yet Sir Arthur, as he rode away,
And turned back to see his lady stand
With the children clinging to her hand,
Looked as if it were a happy day.
Ah, they loved her soon! The little one
Crept into her arms as to a nest;
Arthur always with her now; and May
Growing nearer to her every day: -
- Well, I loved my own dear lady best.
VERSE: GIVE PLACE
Starry Crowns of Heaven
Set in azure night!
Linger yet a little
Ere you hide your light:-
- Nay; let Starlight fade away
Heralding the day!
Snowflakes pure and spotless,
Still, oh, still remain,
Binding dreary winter,
In your silver chain:-
- Nay; but melt at once and bring
Radiant sunny Spring!
Blossoms, gentle blossoms,
Do not wither yet;
Still for you the sun shines,
Still the dews are wet: -
- Nay; but fade and wither last,
Fruit must come at last!
Joy, so true and tender,
Dare you not abide?
Will you spread your pinions,
Must you leave our side?
- Nay; an Angel's shining grace
Waits to fill your place!
VERSE: MY WILL
Since I have no lands or houses,
And no hoarded golden store,
What can I leave those who love me
When they see my face no more?
Do not smile; I am not jesting,
Though my words sound gay and light,
Listen to me, dearest Alice,
I will make my Will to-night.
First for Mabel--who will never
Let the dust of future years
Dim the thought of me, but keep it
Brighter still: perhaps with tears.
In whose eyes, whate'er I glance at,
Touch, or praise, will always shine,
Through a strange and sacred radiance,
By Love's Charter, wholly mine;
She will never lend to others
Slenderest link of thought I claim,
I will, therefore, to her keeping
Leave my memory and my name.
Bertha will do truer service
To her kind than I have done,
So I leave to her young spirit
The long Work I have begun.
Well! the threads are tangled, broken,
And the colours do not blend,
She will bend her earnest striving
Both to finish and amend:
And, when it is all completed,
Strong with care and rich with skill,
Just because my hands began it,
She will love it better still.
Ruth shall have my dearest token,
The one link I dread to break,
The one duty that I live for,
She, when I am gone, will take.
Sacred is the trust I leave her,
Needing patience, prayer, and tears;
I have striven to fulfil it,
As she knows--these many years.
Sometimes hopeless, faint, and weary
Yet a blessing shall remain
With the task, and Ruth will prize it
For my many hours of pain.
What must I leave you, my Alice?
Nothing, Love, to do or bear,
Nothing that can dim your blue eyes
With the slightest cloud of care.
I will leave my heart to love you,
With the tender faith of old;
Still to comfort, warm, and light you,
Should your life grow dark or cold.
No one else, my child, can claim it;
Though you find old scars of pain,
They were only wounds, my darling,
There is not, I trust, one stain.
Are my gifts indeed so worthless
Now the slender sum is told?
Well, I know not: years may bless them
With a nobler price than gold.
Am I poor? ah no, most wealthy,
Not in these poor gifts you take,
But in the true hearts that tell me
You will keep them for my sake.
VERSE: KING AND SLAVE
If in my soul, dear,
An omen should dwell,
Bidding me pause, ere
I love thee too well;
If the whole circle,
Of noble and wise,
With stern forebodings,
Between us should rise.
I will tell THEM, dear,
That Love reigns--a King,
Where storms cannot reach him,
And words cannot sting;
He counts it dishonour
His faith to recall;
He trusts;--and for ever
He gives--and gives all!
I will tell THEE, dear,
That Love is--a Slave,
Who dreads thought of freedom,
As life dreads the grave;
And if doubt or peril
Of change there may be,
Such fear would but drive him
Still nearer to thee!
VERSE: A CHANT
"Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini."
Who is the Angel that cometh?
Let us not question what he brings,
Peace or Strife,
Under the shade of his mighty wings,
One by one,
Are his secrets told;
One by one,
Lit by the rays of each morning sun,
Shall a new flower its petals unfold,
With the mystery hid in its heart of gold.
We will arise and go forth to greet him,
Singly, gladly, with one accord; -
"Blessed is he that cometh
In the name of the Lord!"
Who is the Angel that cometh?
Look at his glittering rainbow wings -
Lies in the radiant gifts he brings;
Tender and sweet,
He is come to-day,
Tender and sweet:
While chains of love on his silver feet
Will hold him in lingering fond delay.
But greet him quickly, he will not stay,
Soon he will leave us; but though for others
All his brightest treasures are stored; -
"Blessed is he that cometh
In the name of the Lord!"
Who is the Angel that cometh?
Let us arise and go forth to greet him;
Not in vain
Is the summons come for us to meet him;
He will stay,
And darken our sun;
He will stay
A desolate night, a weary day.
Since in that shadow our work is done,
And in that shadow our crowns are won,
Let us say still, while his bitter chalice
Slowly into our hearts is poured, -
"Blessed is he that cometh
In the name of the Lord!"
Who is the Angel that cometh?
But do not shudder and do not fear;
Hold your breath,
For a kingly presence is drawing near.
Cold and bright
Is his flashing steel,
Cold and bright
The smile that comes like a starry light
To calm the terror and grief we feel;
He comes to help and to save and heal:
Then let us, baring our hearts and kneeling,
Sing, while we wait this Angel's sword, -
"Blessed is he that cometh
In the name of the Lord!"
Listen, friend, and I will tell you
Why I sometimes seem so glad,
Then, without a reason changing,
Soon become so grave and sad.
Half my life I live a beggar,
Ragged, helpless, and alone;
But the other half a monarch,
With my courtiers round my throne.
Half my life is full of sorrow,
Half of joy, still fresh and new;
One of these lives is a fancy,
But the other one is true.
While I live and feast on gladness,
Still I feel the thought remain,
This must soon end,--nearer, nearer
Comes the life of grief and pain.
While I live a wretched beggar,
One bright hope my lot can cheer;
Soon, soon, thou shalt have thy kingdom,
Brighter hours are drawing near.
So you see my life is twofold,
Half a pleasure, half a grief;
Thus all joy is somewhat tempered,
And all sorrow finds relief.
Which, you ask me, is the real life,
Which the Dream--the joy, or woe?
Hush, friend! it is little matter,
And, indeed--I never know.
Spread, spread thy silver wings, oh Dove!
And seek for rest by land and sea,
And bring the tidings back to me
For thee and me and those I love.
Look how my Dove soars far away;
Go with her, heart of mine, I pray;
Go where her fluttering silver pinions
Follow the track of the crimson day.
Is rest where cloudlets slowly creep,
And sobbing winds forget to grieve,
And quiet waters gently heave,
As if they rocked the ship to sleep?
Ah no! that southern vapour white
Will bring a tempest ere the night,
And thunder through the quiet Heaven,
Lashing the sea in its angry might.
The battle-field lies still and cold,
While stars that watch in silent light
Gleam here and there on weapons bright,
In weary sleepers' slackened hold;
Nay, though they dream of no alarm,
One bugle sound will stir that calm,
And all the strength of two great nations,
Eager for battle, will rise and arm.
Pause where the Pilgrim's day is done,
Where scrip and staff aside are laid,
And, resting in the silent shade,
They watch the slowly sinking sun.
Ah no! that worn and weary band
Must journey long before they stand,
With bleeding feet, and hearts rejoicing,
Kissing the dust of the Holy Land.
Then find a soul who meets at last
A noble prize but hard to gain,
Or joy long pleaded for in vain,
Now sweeter for a bitter past.
Ah no! for Time can rob her yet,
And even should cruel Time forget,
Then Death will come, and, unrelenting,
Brand her with sorrowful long regret.
Seek farther, farther yet, oh Dove!
Beyond the Land, beyond the Sea,
There shall be rest for thee and me,
For thee and me and those I love.
I heard a promise gently fall,
I heard a far-off Shepherd call
The weary and the broken-hearted,
Promising rest unto each and all.
It is not marred by outward strife,
It is not lost in calm repose,
It heedeth neither joys nor woes,
Is not disturbed by death or life;
Through, and beyond them, lies our Rest:
Then cease, oh Heart, thy longing quest!
And thou, my Dove, with silver pinions
Flutter again to thy quiet nest!
VERSE: THE TYRANT AND THE CAPTIVE
It was midnight when I listened,
And I heard two Voices speak;
One was harsh, and stern, and cruel,
And the other soft and weak:
Yet I saw no Vision enter,
And I heard no steps depart,
Of this Tyrant and his Captive, . . .
FATE it might be and a HEART.
Thus the stern Voice spake in triumph:-
"I have shut your life away
From the radiant world of nature,
And the perfumed light of day.
You, who loved to steep your spirit
In the charm of Earth's delight,
See no glory of the daytime,
And no sweetness of the night."
But the soft Voice answered calmly:
"Nay, for when the March winds bring
Just a whisper to my window,
I can dream the rest of Spring;
And to-day I saw a Swallow
Flitting past my prison bars,
And my cell has just one corner
Whence at night I see the stars."
But its bitter taunt repeating,
Cried the harsh Voice: --"Where are they -
All the friends of former hours,
Who forget your name to-day?
All the links of love are shattered,
Which you thought so strong before;
And your very heart is lonely,
And alone since loved no more."
But the low Voice spoke still lower: -
"Nay, I know the golden chain
Of my love is purer, stronger,
For the cruel fire of pain:
They remember me no longer,
But I, grieving here alone,
Bind their souls to me for ever
By the love within their own."
But the Voice cried:- "Once remember
You devoted soul and mind
To the welfare of your brethren,
And the service of your kind.
Now, what sorrow can you comfort?
You, who lie in helpless pain,
With an impotent compassion
Fretting out your life in vain."
"Nay;" and then the gentle answer
Rose more loud, and full, and clear:
"For the sake of all my brethren
I thank God that I am here!
Poor had been my Life's best efforts,
Now I waste no thought or breath -
For the prayer of those who suffer
Has the strength of Love and Death."
VERSE: THE CARVER'S LESSON
Trust me, no mere skill of subtle tracery,
No mere practice of a dexterous hand,
Will suffice, without a hidden spirit,
That we may, or may not, understand.
And those quaint old fragments that are left us
Have their power in this,--the Carver brought
Earnest care, and reverent patience, only
Worthily to clothe some noble thought.
Shut then in the petals of the flowers,
Round the stems of all the lilies twine,
Hide beneath each bird's or angel's pinion,
Some wise meaning or some thought divine.
Place in stony hands that pray for ever
Tender words of peace, and strive to wind
Round the leafy scrolls and fretted niches
Some true, loving message to your kind.
Some will praise, some blame, and, soon forgetting,
Come and go, nor even pause to gaze;
Only now and then a passing stranger
Just may loiter with a word of praise.
But I think, when years have floated onward,
And the stone is grey, and dim, and old,
And the hand forgotten that has carved it,
And the heart that dreamt it still and cold;
There may come some weary soul, o'erladen
With perplexed struggle in his brain,
Or, it may be, fretted with life's turmoil,
Or made sore with some perpetual pain.
Then, I think those stony hands will open,
And the gentle lilies overflow,
With the blessing and the loving token
That you hid there many years ago.
And the tendrils will unroll, and teach him
How to solve the problem of his pain;
And the birds' and angels' wings shake downward
On his heart a sweet and tender rain.
While he marvels at his fancy, reading
Meaning in that quaint and ancient scroll,
Little guessing that the loving Carver
Left a message for his weary soul.
VERSE: THREE ROSES
Just when the red June Roses blow
She gave me one,--a year ago.
A Rose whose crimson breath revealed
The secret that its heart concealed,
And whose half shy, half tender grace
Blushed back upon the giver's face.
A year ago--a year ago -
To hope was not to know.
Just when the red June Roses blow
I plucked her one,--a month ago:
Its half-blown crimson to eclipse,
I laid it on her smiling lips;
The balmy fragrance of the south
Drew sweetness from her sweeter mouth.
Swiftly do golden hours creep, -
To hold is not to keep.
The red June Roses now are past,
This very day I broke the last -
And now its perfumed breath is hid,
With her, beneath a coffin-lid;
There will its petals fall apart,
And wither on her icy heart:-
At three red Roses' cost
My world was gained and lost.
VERSE: MY PICTURE GALLERY
You write and think of me, my friend, with pity;
While you are basking in the light of Rome,
Shut up within the heart of this great city,
Too busy and too poor to leave my home.
You think my life debarred all rest or pleasure,
Chained all day to my ledger and my pen;
Too sickly even to use my little leisure
To bear me from the strife and din of men.
Well, it is true; yet, now the days are longer,
At sunset I can lay my writing down,
And slowly crawl (summer has made me stronger)
Just to the nearest outskirt of the town.
There a wide Common, blackened though and dreary
With factory smoke, spreads outward to the West;
I lie down on the parched-up grass, if weary,
Or lean against a broken wall to rest.
So might a King, turning to Art's rich treasure,
At evening, when the cares of state were done,
Enter his royal gallery, drinking pleasure
Slowly from each great picture, one by one.
Towards the West I turn my weary spirit,
And watch my pictures: one each night is mine.
Earth and my soul, sick of day's toil, inherit
A portion of that luminous peace divine.
There I have seen a sunset's crimson glory,
Burn as if earth were one great Altar's blaze;
Or, like the closing of a piteous story,
Light up the misty world with dying rays.
There I have seen the Clouds, in pomp and splendour,
Their gold and purple banners all unfurl;
There I have watched colours, more faint and tender