Part 2 out of 8
Into the rock the road is cut full deep,
At its low ledges village children play,
From its high rifts fountains of leafage weep,
And silvery birches sway.
The boldest climbers have its face forsworn,
Sheer as a wall it doth all daring flout;
But benchlike at its base, and weather-worn,
A narrow ledge leans out.
There do they set forth feasts in dishes rude
Wrought of the rush--wild strawberries on the bed
Left into August, apples brown and crude,
Cress from the cold well-head.
Shy gamesome girls, small daring imps of boys,
But gentle, almost silent at their play--
Their fledgling daws, for food, make far more noise
Ranged on the ledge than they.
The children and the purple martins share
(Loveliest of birds) possession of the place;
They veer and dart cream-breasted round the fair
Faces with wild sweet grace.
Fresh haply from Palmyra desolate,
Palmyra pale in light and storyless--
From perching in old Tadmor mate by mate
In the waste wilderness.
These know the world; what do the children know?
They know the woods, their groaning noises weird,
They climb in trees that overhang the slow
Deep mill-stream, loved and feared.
Where shaken water-wheels go creak and clack,
List while a lorn thrush calls and almost speaks;
See willow-wrens with elderberries black
Staining their slender beaks.
They know full well how squirrels spend the day;
They peeped when field-mice stole and stored the seed,
And voles along their under-water way
Donned collars of bright beads.
Still from the deep-cut road they love to mark
Where set, as in a frame, the nearer shapes
Rise out of hill and wood; then long downs dark
As purple bloom on grapes.
But farms whereon the tall wheat musters gold,
High barley whitening, creases in bare hills,
Reed-feathered, castle-like brown churches old,
Nor churning water-mills,
Shall make ought seem so fair as that beyond--
Beyond the down, which draws their fealty;
Blow high, blow low, some hearts do aye respond
The wind is from the sea.
Above the steep-cut steps as they did grow,
The children's cottage homes embowered are seen;
Were this a world unfallen, they scarce could show
More beauteous red and green.
Milk-white and vestal-chaste the hollyhock
Grows tall, clove, sweetgale nightly shed forth spice,
Long woodbines leaning over scent the rock
With airs of Paradise.
Here comforted of pilot stars they lie
In charmed dreams, but not of wold nor lea.
Behold a ship! her wide yards score the sky;
She sails a steel-blue sea.
As turns the great amassment of the tide,
Drawn of the silver despot to her throne,
So turn the destined souls, so far and wide
The strong deep claims its own.
Still the old tale; these dreaming islanders,
Each with hot Sunderbunds a somewhat owns
That calls, the grandsire's blood within them stirs
Dutch Java guards his bones.
And these were orphan'd when a leak was sprung
Far out from land when all the air was balm;
The shipmen saw their faces as they hung,
And sank in the glassy calm.
These, in an orange-sloop their father plied,
Deck-laden deep she sailed from Cadiz town,
A black squall rose, she turned upon her side,
Drank water and went down.
They too shall sail. High names of alien lands
Are in the dream, great names their fathers knew;
Madras, the white surf rearing on her sands,
E'en they shall breast it too.
See threads of scarlet down fell Roa creep,
When moaning winds rend back her vapourous veil;
Wild Orinoco wedge-like split the deep,
Raging forth passion-pale;
Or a blue berg at sunrise glittering tall,
Great as a town adrift come shining on
With sharp spires, gemlike as the mystical
Clear city of Saint John.
Still the old tale; but they are children yet;
O let their mothers have them while they may!
Soon it shall work, the strange mysterious fret
That mars both toil and play.
The sea will claim its own; and some shall mourn;
They also, they, but yet will surely go;
So surely as the planet to its bourne,
The chamois to his snow.
'Father, dear father, bid us now God-speed;
We cannot choose but sail, it thus befell.'
'Mother, dear mother--' 'Nay, 't is all decreed.
Dear hearts, farewell, farewell!'
A waxing moon that, crescent yet,
In all its silver beauty set,
And rose no more in the lonesome night
To shed full-orbed its longed-for light.
Then was it dark; on wold and lea,
In home, in heart, the hours were drear.
Father and mother could no light see,
And the hearts trembled and there was fear.
--So on the mount, Christ's chosen three,
Unware that glory it did shroud,
Feared when they entered into the cloud.
She was the best part of love's fair
Adornment, life's God-given care,
As if He bade them guard His own,
Who should be soon anear His throne.
Dutiful, happy, and who say
When childhood smiles itself away,
'More fair than morn shall prove the day.'
Sweet souls so nigh to God that rest,
How shall be bettering of your best!
That promise heaven alone shall view,
That hope can ne'er with us come true,
That prophecy life hath not skill,
No, nor time leave that it fulfil.
There is but heaven, for childhood never
Can yield the all it meant, for ever.
Or is there earth, must wane to less
What dawned so close by perfectness.
How guileless, sweet, by gift divine,
How beautiful, dear child, was thine--
Spared all their grief of thee bereaven.
Winner, who had not greatly striven,
Hurts of sin shall not thee soil,
Carking care thy beauty spoil.
So early blest, so young forgiven.
Among the meadows fresh to view,
And in the woodland ways she grew,
On either side a hand to hold,
Nor the world's worst of evil knew,
Nor rued its miseries manifold,
Nor made discovery of its cold.
What more, like one with morn content.
Or of the morrow diffident,
Unconscious, beautiful she stood,
Calm, in young stainless maidenhood.
Then, with the last steps childhood trod,
Took up her fifteen years to God.
Farewell, sweet hope, not long to last,
All life is better for thy past.
Farewell till love with sorrow meet,
To learn that tears are obsolete.
_Her younger sister, that Speranza hight_.
England puts on her purple, and pale, pale
With too much light, the primrose doth but wait
To meet the hyacinth; then bower and dale
Shall lose her and each fairy woodland mate.
April forgets them, for their utmost sum
Of gift was silent, and the birds are come.
The world is stirring, many voices blend,
The English are at work in field and way;
All the good finches on their wives attend,
And emmets their new towns lay out in clay;
Only the cuckoo-bird only doth say
Her beautiful name, and float at large all day.
Everywhere ring sweet clamours, chirrupping,
Chirping, that comes before the grasshopper;
The wide woods, flurried with the pulse of spring,
Shake out their wrinkled buds with tremor and stir;
Small noises, little cries, the ear receives
Light as a rustling foot on last year's leaves.
All in deep dew the satisfied deep grass
Looking straight upward stars itself with white,
Like ships in heaven full-sailed do long clouds pass
Slowly o'er this great peace, and wide sweet light.
While through moist meads draws down yon rushy mere
Influent waters, sobbing, shining, clear.
Almost is rapture poignant; somewhat ails
The heart and mocks the morning; somewhat sighs,
And those sweet foreigners, the nightingales,
Made restless with their love, pay down its price,
Even the pain; then all the story unfold
Over and over again--yet 't is not told.
The mystery of the world whose name is life
(One of the names of God) all-conquering wends
And works for aye with rest and cold at strife.
Its pedigree goes up to Him and ends.
For it the lucent heavens are clear o'erhead,
And all the meads are made its natal bed.
Dear is the light, and eye-sight ever sweet,
What see they all fair lower things that nurse,
No wonder, and no doubt? Truly their meat,
Their kind, their field, their foes; man's eyes are more;
Sight is man's having of the universe,
His pass to the majestical far shore.
But it is not enough, ah! not enough
To look upon it and be held away,
And to be sure that, while we tread the rough,
Remote, dull paths of this dull world, no ray
Shall pierce to us from the inner soul of things,
Nor voice thrill out from its deep master-strings.
'To show the skies, and tether to the sod!
A daunting gift!' we mourn in our long strife.
And God is more than all our thought of God;
E'en life itself more than our thought of life,
And that is all we know--and it is noon,
Our little day will soon be done--how soon!
O let us to ourselves be dutiful:
We are not satisfied, we have wanted all,
Not alone beauty, but that Beautiful;
A lifted veil, an answering mystical.
Ever men plead, and plain, admire, implore,
'Why gavest Thou so much--and yet--not more?
We are but let to look, and Hope is weighed.'
Yet, say the Indian words of sweet renown,
'The doomed tree withholdeth not her shade
From him that bears the axe to cut her down;'
Is hope cut down, dead, doomed, all is vain:
The third day dawns, she too has risen again
(For Faith is ours by gift, but Hope by right),
And walks among us whispering as of yore:
'Glory and grace are thrown thee with the light;
Search, if not yet thou touch the mystic shore;
Immanent beauty and good are nigh at hand,
For infants laugh and snowdrops bloom in the land.
Thou shalt have more anon.' What more? in sooth,
The mother of to-morrow is to-day,
And brings forth after her kind. There is no ruth
On the heart's sigh, that 'more' is hidden away,
And man's to-morrow yet shall pine and yearn;
He shall surmise, and he shall not discern,
But list the lark, and want the rapturous cries
And passioning of morning stars that sing
Together; mark the meadow-orchis rise
And think it freckled after an angel's wing;
Absent desire his land, and feel this, one
With the great drawing of the central sun.
But not to all such dower, for there be eyes
Are colour-blind, and souls are spirit-blind.
Those never saw the blush in sunset skies,
Nor the others caught a sense not made of words
As if were spirits about, that sailed the wind
And sank and settled on the boughs like birds.
Yet such for aye divided from us are
As other galaxies that seem no more
Than a little golden millet-seed afar.
Divided; swarming down some flat lee shore,
Then risen, while all the air that takes no word
Tingles, and trembles as with cries not heard.
For they can come no nearer. There is found
No meeting point. We have pierced the lodging-place
Of stars that cluster'd with their peers lie bound,
Embedded thick, sunk in the seas of space,
Fortunate orbs that know not night, for all
Are suns;--but we have never heard that call,
Nor learned it in our world, our citadel
With outworks of a Power about it traced;
Nor why we needs must sin who would do well,
Nor why the want of love, nor why its waste,
Nor how by dying of One should all be sped,
Nor where, O Lord, thou hast laid up our dead.
But Hope is ours by right, and Faith by gift.
Though Time be as a moon upon the wane,
Who walk with Faith far up the azure lift
Oft hear her talk of lights to wax again.
'If man be lost,' she cries, 'in this vast sea
Of being,--lost--he would be lost with Thee
Who for his sake once, as he hears, lost all.
For Thou wilt find him at the end of the days:
Then shall the flocking souls that thicker fall
Than snowflakes on the everlasting ways
Be counted, gathered, claimed.--Will it be long?
Earth has begun already her swan-song.
Who, even that might, would dwell for ever pent
In this fair frame that doth the spirit inhearse,
Nor at the last grow weary and content,
Die, and break forth into the universe,
And yet man would not all things--all--were new.'
Then saith the other, that one robed in blue:
'What if with subtle change God touch their eyes
When he awakes them,--not far off, but here
In a new earth, this: not in any wise
Strange, but more homely sweet, more heavenly dear,
Or if He roll away, as clouds disperse
Somewhat, and lo, that other universe.
O how 't were sweet new waked in some good hour,
Long time to sit on a hillside green and high
There like a honeybee domed in a flower
To feed unneath the azure bell o' the sky,
Feed in the midmost home and fount of light
Sown thick with stars at noonday as by night
To watch the flying faultless ones wheel down,
Alight, and run along some ridged peak,
Their feet adust from orbs of old renown,
Procyon or Mazzaroth, haply;--when they speak
Other-world errands wondrous, all discern
That would be strange, there would be much to learn.
Ay, and it would be sweet to share unblamed
Love's shining truths that tell themselves in tears,
Or to confess and be no more ashamed
The wrongs that none can right through earthly years;
And seldom laugh, because the tenderness
Calm, perfect, would be more than joy--would bless.
I tell you it were sweet to have enough,
And be enough. Among the souls forgiven
In presence of all worlds, without rebuff
To move, and feel the excellent safety leaven
With peace that awe must loss and the grave survive--
But palpitating moons that are alive
Nor shining fogs swept up together afar,
Vast as a thought of God, in the firmament;
No, and to dart as light from star to star
Would not long time man's yearning soul content:
Albeit were no more ships and no more sea,
He would desire his new earth presently.
Leisure to learn it. Peoples would be here;
They would come on in troops, and take at will
The forms, the faces they did use to wear
With life's first splendours--raiment rich with skill
Of broidery, carved adornments, crowns of gold;
Still would be sweet to them the life of old.
Then might be gatherings under golden shade,
Where dust of water drifts from some sheer fall,
Cooling day's ardour. There be utterance made
Of comforted love, dear freedom after thrall,
Large longings of the Seer, through earthly years
An everlasting burden, but no tears.
Egypt's adopted child might tell of lore
They taught him underground in shrines all dim,
And of the live tame reptile gods that wore
Gold anklets on their feet. And after him,
With fairest eyes ere met of mortal ken,
Glorious, forgiven, might speak the mother of men.
Talk of her apples gather'd by the marge
Of lapsing Gihon. 'Thus one spoke, I stood,
I ate.' Or next the mariner-saint enlarge
Right quaintly on his ark of gopher wood
To wandering men through high grass meads that ran
Or sailed the sea Mediterranean.
It might be common--earth afforested
Newly, to follow her great ones to the sun,
When from transcendent aisles of gloom they sped
Some work august (there would be work) now done.
And list, and their high matters strive to scan
The seekers after God, and lovers of man,
Sitting together in amity on a hill,
The Saint of Visions from Greek Patmos come--
Aurelius, lordly, calm-eyed, as of will
Austere, yet having rue on lost, lost Rome,
And with them One who drank a fateful bowl,
And to the unknown God trusted his soul.
The mitred Cranmer pitied even there
(But could it be?) for that false hand which signed
O, all pathetic--no. But it might bear
To soothe him marks of fire--and gladsome kind
The man, as all of joy him well beseemed
Who 'lighted on a certain place and dreamed.'
And fair with the meaning of life their divine brows,
The daughters of well-doing famed in song;
But what! could old-world love for child, for spouse,
For land, content through lapsing eons long?
Oh for a watchword strong to bridge the deep
And satisfy of fulness after sleep.
What know we? Whispers fall, '_And the last first,
And the first last._' The child before the king?
The slave before that man a master erst?
The woman before her lord? Shall glory fling
The rolls aside--time raze out triumphs past?
They sigh, '_And the last first, and the first last._'
Answers that other, 'Lady, sister, friend,
It is enough, for I have worshipped Life;
With Him that is the Life man's life shall blend,
E'en now the sacred heavens do help his strife.
There do they knead his bread and mix his cup,
And all the stars have leave to bear him up.
Yet must he sink and fall away to a sleep,
As did his Lord. This Life his worshipped
Religion, Life. The silence may be deep,
Life listening, watching, waiting by His dead,
Till at the end of days they wake full fain
Because their King, the Life, doth love and reign.
I know the King shall come to that new earth,
And His feet stand again as once they stood,
In His man's eyes will shine Time's end and worth
The chiefest beauty and the chiefest good,
And all shall have the all and in it bide,
And every soul of man be satisfied.
They tell strange things of the primeval earth,
But things that be are never strange to those
Among them. And we know what it was like,
Many are sure they walked in it; the proof
This, the all gracious, all admired whole
Called life, called world, called thought, was all as one.
Nor yet divided more than that old earth
Among the tribes. Self was not fully come--
Self was asleep, embedded in the whole.
I too dwelt once in a primeval world,
Such as they tell of, all things wonderful;
Voices, ay visions, people grand and tall
Thronged in it, but their talk was overhead
And bore scant meaning, that one wanted not
Whose thought was sight as yet unbound of words,
This kingdom of heaven having entered through
Being a little child.
Such as can see,
Why should they doubt? The childhood of a race.
The childhood of a soul, hath neither doubt
Nor fear. Where all is super-natural
The guileless heart doth feed on it, no more
Afraid than angels are of heaven.
Another life, the next one shall not have
Another childhood growing gently thus,
Able to bear the poignant sweetness, take
The rich long awful measure of its peace,
Endure the presence sublime.
Once in that earth primeval, once--a face,
A little face that yet I dream upon.'
'Of this world was it?'
'Not of this world--no,
In the beginning--for methinks it was
In the beginning but an if you ask
How long ago, time was not then, nor date
For marking. It was always long ago,
E'en from the first recalling of it, long
And long ago.
And I could walk, and went,
Led by the hand through a long mead at morn,
Bathed in a ravishing excess of light.
It throbbed, and as it were fresh fallen from heaven,
Sank deep into the meadow grass. The sun
Gave every blade a bright and a dark side,
Glitter'd on buttercups that topped them, slipped
To soft red puffs, by some called holy-hay.
The wide oaks in their early green stood still
And took delight in it. Brown specks that made
Very sweet noises quivered in the blue;
Then they came down and ran along the brink
Of a long pool, and they were birds.
Pranked at the edges with pale peppermint,
A rare amassment of veined cuckoo flowers
And flags blue-green was lying below. This all
Was sight it condescended not to words
Till memory kissed the charmed dream.
Hollowing and heaving, in the hollows fair
With dropping roses fell away to it,
A strange sweet place; upon its further side
Some people gently walking took their way
Up to a wood beyond; and also bells
Sang, floated in the air, hummed--what you will.'
'Then it was Sunday?'
'Sunday was not yet;
It was a holiday, for all the days
Were holy. It was not our day of rest
(The earth for all her rolling asks not rest,
For she was never weary).
It was sweet,
Full of dear leisure and perennial peace,
As very old days when life went easily,
Before mankind had lost the wise, the good
Habit of being happy.
For the pool
A beauteous place it was as might be seen,
That led one down to other meads, and had
Clouds and another sky. I thought to go
Deep down in it, and walk that steep clear slope.
Then she who led me reached the brink, her foot
Staying to talk with one who met her there.
Here were fresh marvels, sailing things whose vans
Floated them on above the flowering flags.
We moved a little onward, paused again,
And here there was a break in these, and here
There came the vision; for I stooped to gaze
So far as my small height would let me--gaze
Into that pool to see the fishes dart,
And in a moment from her under hills
Came forth a little child who lived down there,
Looked up at me and smiled. We could not talk,
But looked and loved each other. I a hand
Held out to her, so she to me, but ah,
She would not come. Her home, her little bed,
Was doubtless under that soft shining thing
The water, and she wanted not to run
Among red sorrel spires, and fill her hand
In the dry warmed grass with cowslip buds.
Awhile our feeding hearts all satisfied,
Took in the blue of one another's eyes,
Two dimpled creatures, rose-lipped innocent.
But when we fain had kissed--O! the end came,
For snatched aloft, held in the nurse's arms,
She parting with her lover I was borne
Far from that little child.
And no one knew
She lived down there, but only I; and none
Sought for her, but I yearned for her and left
Part of myself behind, as the lambs leave
Their wool upon a thorn.'
'And was she seen
Never again, nor known for what she was?'
'Never again, for we did leave anon
The pasture and the pool. I know not where
They lie, and sleep a heaven on earth, but know
From thenceforth yearnings for a lost delight;
On certain days I dream about her still.'
IN THE NURSERY.
Where do you go, Bob, when you 're fast asleep?'
'Where? O well, once I went into a deep
Mine, father told of, and a cross man said
He'd make me help to dig, and eat black bread.
I saw the Queen once, in her room, quite near.
She said, "You rude boy, Bob, how came you here?"'
'Was it like mother's boudoir?'
Gold chairs and things--all over diamonds--Ah!'
'You're sure it was the Queen?'
'Of course, a crown
Was on her, and a spangly purple gown.'
'I went to heaven last night.'
'O Lily, no,
How could you?'
'Yes I did, they told me so,
And my best doll, my favourite, with the blue
Frock, Jasmine, I took her to heaven too.'
'What was it like?'
'A kind of--I can't tell--
A sort of orchard place in a long dell,
With trees all over flowers. And there were birds
Who could do talking, say soft pretty words;
They let me stroke them, and I showed it all
To Jasmine. And I heard a blue dove call,
"Child, this is heaven." I was not frightened when
It spoke, I said "Where are the angels then?"'
'So it said, "Look up and you shall see."
There were two angels sitting in the tree,
As tall as mother; they had long gold hair.
They let drop down the fruit they gather'd there
And little angels came for it--so sweet.
Here they were beggar children in the street,
And the dove said they had the prettiest things,
And wore their best frocks every day.'
Had they no wings?'
'O yes, and lined with white
Like swallow wings, so soft--so very light
'Well, I did not stay,
So that was all.'
'They made you go away?'
'I did not go--but--I was gone.'
'But it's a pity, Bob, we never go
'Yes, and have no dreams to tell,
But the next day both know it all quite well.'
'And, Bob, if I could dream you came with me
You would be there perhaps.'
THE AUSTRALIAN BELL-BIRD.
Toll.' 'The bell-bird sounding far away,
Hid in a myall grove.' He raised his head,
The bush glowed scarlet in descending day,
A masterless wild country--and he said,
My father ('Toll.') 'Full oft by her to stray,
As if a spirit called, have I been led;
Oft seems she as an echo in my soul
('Toll.') from my native towers by Avon ('Toll').
('Toll.') Oft as in a dream I see full fain
The bell-tower beautiful that I love well,
A seemly cluster with her churches twain.
I hear adown the river faint and swell
And lift upon the air that sound again,
It is, it is--how sweet no tongue can tell,
For all the world-wide breadth of shining foam,
The bells of Evesham chiming "Home, sweet home."
The mind hath mastery thus--it can defy
The sense, and make all one as it DID HEAR--
Nay, I mean more; the wraiths of sound gone by
Rise; they are present 'neath this dome all clear.
ONE, sounds the bird--a pause--then doth supply
Some ghost of chimes the void expectant ear;
Do they ring bells in heaven? The learnedest soul
Shall not resolve me such a question. ('Toll.')
('Toll.') Say I am a boy, and fishing stand
By Avon ('Toll.') on line and rod intent,
How glitters deep in dew the meadow land--
What, dost thou flit, thy ministry all spent,
Not many days we hail such visits bland,
Why steal so soon the rare enravishment?
Ay gone! the soft deceptive echoes roll
Away, and faint into remoteness.' ('Toll.')
While thus he spoke the doom'd sun touched his bed
In scarlet, all the palpitating air
Still loyal waited on. He dipped his head,
Then all was over, and the dark was there;
And northward, lo! a star, one likewise red
But lurid, starts from out her day-long lair,
Her fellows trail behind; she bears her part,
The balefullest star that shines, the Scorpion's heart
Or thus of old men feigned, and then did fear,
Then straight crowd forth the great ones of the sky
In flashing flame at strife to reach more near.
The little children of Infinity,
They next look down as to report them 'Here,'
From deeps all thoughts despair and heights past high,
Speeding, not sped, no rest, no goal, no shore,
Still to rush on till time shall be no more.
'Loved vale of Evesham, 'tis a long farewell,
Not laden orchards nor their April snow
These eyes shall light upon again; the swell
And whisper of thy storied river know,
Nor climb the hill where great old Montfort fell
In a good cause hundreds of years ago;
So fall'n, elect to live till life's ally,
The river of recorded deeds, runs dry.
This land is very well, this air,' saith he,
'Is very well, but we want echoes here.
Man's past to feed the air and move the sea;
Ages of toil make English furrows dear,
Enriched by blood shed for his liberty,
Sacred by love's first sigh and life's last fear,
We come of a good nest, for it shall yearn
Poor birds of passage, but may not return,
Spread younger wings, and beat the winds afar.
There sing more poets in that one small isle
Than all isles else can show--of such you are;
Remote things come to you unsought erewhile,
Near things a long way round as by a star.
Wild dreams!' He laughed, 'A sage right infantile;
With sacred fear behold life's waste deplored,
Undaunted by the leisure of the Lord.
Ay go, the island dream with eyes make good,
Where Freedom rose, a lodestar to your race;
And Hope that leaning on her anchor stood
Did smile it to her feet: a right small place.
Call her a mother, high such motherhood,
Home in her name and duty in her face;
Call her a ship, her wide arms rake the clouds,
And every wind of God pipes in her shrouds.
Ay, all the more go you. But some have cried
"The ship is breaking up;" they watch amazed
While urged toward the rocks by some that guide;
Bad steering, reckless steering, she all dazed
Tempteth her doom; yet this have none denied
Ships men have wrecked and palaces have razed,
But never was it known beneath the sun,
They of such wreckage built a goodlier one.
God help old England an't be thus, nor less
God help the world.' Therewith my mother spake,
'Perhaps He will! by time, by faithlessness,
By the world's want long in the dark awake,
I think He must be almost due: the stress
Of the great tide of life, sharp misery's ache,
In a recluseness of the soul we rue
Far off, but yet--He must be almost due.
God manifest again, the coming King.'
Then said my father, 'I beheld erewhile,
Sitting up dog-like to the sunrising,
The giant doll in ruins by the Nile,
With hints of red that yet to it doth cling,
Fell, battered, and bewigged its cheeks were vile,
A body of evil with its angel fled,
Whom and his fellow fiends men worshipped.
The gods die not, long shrouded on their biers,
Somewhere they live, and live in memory yet;
Were not the Israelites for forty years
Hid from them in the desert to forget--
Did they forget? no more than their lost feres
Sons of to-day with faces southward set,
Who dig for buried lore long ages fled,
And sift for it the sand and search the dead.
Brown Egypt gave not one great poet birth,
But man was better than his gods, with lay
He soothed them restless, and they zoned the earth,
And crossed the sea; there drank immortal praise;
Then from his own best self with glory and worth
And beauty dowered he them for dateless days.
Ever "their sound goes forth" from shore to shore,
When was there known an hour that they lived more.
Because they are beloved and not believed,
Admired not feared, they draw men to their feet;
All once, rejected, nothing now, received
Where once found wanting, now the most complete;
Man knows to-day, though manhood stand achieved,
His cradle-rockers made a rustling sweet;
That king reigns longest which did lose his crown,
Stars that by poets shine are stars gone down.
Still drawn obedient to an unseen hand,
From purer heights comes down the yearning west,
Like to that eagle in the morning land,
That swooping on her predatory quest,
Did from the altar steal a smouldering brand,
The which she bearing home it burned her nest,
And her wide pinions of their plumes bereaven.
Spoiled for glad spiring up the steeps of heaven.
I say the gods live, and that reign abhor,
And will the nations it should dawn? Will they
Who ride upon the perilous edge of war?
Will such as delve for gold in this our day?
Neither the world will, nor the age will, nor
The soul--and what, it cometh now? Nay, nay,
The weighty sphere, unready for release,
Rolls far in front of that o'ermastering peace.
Wait and desire it; life waits not, free there
To good, to evil, thy right perilous--
All shall be fair, and yet it is not fair.
I thank my God He takes th'advantage thus;
He doth not greatly hide, but still declare
Which side He is on and which He loves, to us,
While life impartial aid to both doth lend,
And heed not which the choice nor what the end.
Among the few upright, O to be found,
And ever search the nobler path, my son,
Nor say 'tis sweet to find me common ground
Too high, too good, shall leave the hours alone--
Nay, though but one stood on the height renowned,
Deny not hope or will, to be that one.
Is it the many fall'n shall lift the land,
The race, the age!--Nay, 't is the few that stand.'
While in the lamplight hearkening I sat mute,
Methought 'How soon this fire must needs burn out'
Among the passion flowers and passion fruit
That from the wide verandah hung, misdoubt
Was mine. 'And wherefore made I thus long suit
To leave this old white head? His words devout,
His blessing not to hear who loves me so--
He that is old, right old--I will not go.'
But ere the dawn their counsels wrought with me,
And I went forth; alas that I so went
Under the great gum-forest canopy,
The light on every silken filament
Of every flower, a quivering ecstasy
Of perfect paleness made it; sunbeams sent
Up to the leaves with sword-like flash endued
Each turn of that grey drooping multitude.
I sought to look as in the light of one
Returned. 'Will this be strange to me that day?
Flocks of green parrots clamorous in the sun
Tearing out milky maize--stiff cacti grey
As old men's beards--here stony ranges lone,
Their dust of mighty flocks upon their way
To water, cloudlike on the bush afar,
Like smoke that hangs where old-world cities are.
Is it not made man's last endowment here
To find a beauty in the wilderness;
Feel the lorn moor above his pastures dear,
Mountains that may not house and will not bless
To draw him even to death? He must insphere
His spirit in the open, so doth less
Desire his feres, and more that unvex'd wold
And fine afforested hills, his dower of old.
But shall we lose again that new-found sense
Which sees the earth less for our tillage fair?
Oh, let her speak with her best eloquence
To me, but not her first and her right rare
Can equal what I may not take from hence.
The gems are left: it is not otherwhere
The wild Nepean cleaves her matchless way,
Nor Sydney harbour shall outdo the day.
Adding to day this--that she lighteth it.'
But I beheld again, and as must be
With a world-record by a spirit writ,
It was more beautiful than memory,
Than hope was more complete.
Tall brigs did sit
Each in her berth the pure flood placidly,
Their topsails drooping 'neath the vast blue dome
Listless, as waiting to be sheeted home.
And the great ships with pulse-like throbbing clear,
Majestical of mien did take their way
Like living creatures from some grander sphere,
That having boarded ours thought good to stay,
Albeit enslaved. They most divided here
From God's great art and all his works in clay,
In that their beauty lacks, though fair it shows
That divine waste of beauty only He bestows.
The day was young, scarce out the harbour lights
That morn I sailed: low sun-rays tremulous
On golden loops sped outward. Yachts in flights
Flutter'd the water air-like clear, while thus
It crept for shade among brown rocky bights
With cassia crowned and palms diaphanous,
And boughs ripe fruitage dropping fitfully,
That on the shining ebb went out to sea.
'Home,' saith the man self-banished, 'my son
Shall now go home.' Therewith he sendeth him
Abroad, and knows it not, but thence is won,
Rescued, the son's true home. His mind doth limn
Beautiful pictures of it, there is none
So dear, a new thought shines erewhile but dim,
'That was my home, a land past all compare,
Life, and the poetry of life, are there.'
But no such thought drew near to me that day;
All the new worlds flock forth to greet the old,
All the young souls bow down to own its sway,
Enamoured of strange richness manifold;
Not to be stored, albeit they seek for aye,
Besieging it for its own life to hold,
E'en as Al Mamoun fain for treasures hid,
Stormed with an host th' inviolate pyramid.
And went back foiled but wise to walled Bagdad.
So I, so all. The treasure sought not found,
But some divine tears found to superadd
Themselves to a long story. The great round
Of yesterdays, their pathos sweet as sad,
Found to be only as to-day, close bound
With us, we hope some good thing yet to know,
But God is not in haste, while the lambs grow
The Shepherd leadeth softly. It is great
The journey, and the flock forgets at last
(Earth ever working to obliterate
The landmarks) when it halted, where it passed;
And words confuse, and time doth ruinate,
And memory fail to hold a theme so vast;
There is request for light, but the flock feeds,
And slowly ever on the Shepherd leads.
'Home,' quoth my father, and a glassy sea
Made for the stars a mirror of its breast,
While southing, pennon-like, in bravery
Of long drawn gold they trembled to their rest.
Strange the first night and morn, when Destiny
Spread out to float on, all the mind oppressed;
Strange on their outer roof to speed forth thus,
And know th' uncouth sea-beasts stared up at us.
But yet more strange the nights of falling rain,
That splashed without--a sea-coal fire within;
Life's old things gone astern, the mind's disdain,
For murmurous London makes soft rhythmic din.
All courtier thoughts that wait on words would fain
Express that sound. The words are not to win
Till poet made, but mighty, yet so mild
Shall be as cooing of a cradle-child.
Sensation like a piercing arrow flies,
Daily out-going thought. This Adamhood,
This weltering river of mankind that hies
Adown the street; it cannot be withstood.
The richest mundane miles not otherwise
Than by a symbol keep possession good,
Mere symbol of division, and they hold
The clear pane sacred, the unminted gold
And wild outpouring of all wealth not less.
Why this? A million strong the multitude,
And safe, far safer than our wilderness
The walls; for them it daunts with right at feud,
Itself declares for law; yet sore the stress
On steeps of life: what power to ban and bless,
Saintly denial, waste inglorious,
Desperate want, and riches fabulous.
Of souls what beautiful embodiment
For some; for some what homely housing writ;
What keen-eyed men who beggared of content
Eat bread well earned as they had stolen it;
What flutterers after joy that forward went,
And left them in the rear unqueened, unfit
For joy, with light that faints in strugglings drear
Of all things good the most awanting here.
Some in the welter of this surging tide
Move like the mystic lamps, the Spirits Seven,
Their burning love runs kindling far and wide,
That fire they needed not to steal from heaven,
'Twas a free gift flung down with them to bide,
And be a comfort for the hearts bereaven,
A warmth, a glow, to make the failing store
And parsimony of emotion more.
What glorious dreams in that find harbourage,
The phantom of a crime stalks this beside,
And those might well have writ on some past page,
In such an hour, of such a year, we--died,
Put out our souls, took the mean way, false wage,
Course cowardly; and if we be denied
The life once loved, we cannot alway rue
The loss; let be: what vails so sore ado.
And faces pass of such as give consent
To live because 'tis not worth while to die;
This never knew the awful tremblement
When some great fear sprang forward suddenly,
Its other name being hope--and there forthwent
As both confronted him a rueful cry
From the heart's core, one urging him to dare,
'Now! now! Leap now.' The other, 'Stand, forbear.'
A nation reared in brick. How shall this be?
Nor by excess of life death overtake.
To die in brick of brick her destiny,
And as the hamadryad eats the snake
His wife, and then the snake his son, so she
Air not enough, 'though everyone doth take
A little,' water scant, a plague of gold,
Light out of date--a multitude born old.
And then a three-day siege might be the end;
E'en now the rays get muddied struggling down
Through heaven's vasty lofts, and still extend
The miles of brick and none forbid, and none
Forbode; a great world-wonder that doth send
High fame abroad, and fear no setting sun,
But helpless she through wealth that flouts the day
And through her little children, even as they.
But forth of London, and all visions dear
To eastern poets of a watered land
Are made the commonplace of nature here,
Sweet rivers always full, and always bland.
Beautiful, beautiful! What runlets clear
Twinkle among the grass. On every hand
Fall in the common talk from lips around
The old names of old towns and famous ground.
It is not likeness only charms the sense,
Not difference only sets the mind aglow,
It is the likeness in the difference,
Familiar language spoken on the snow,
To have the Perfect in the Present tense,
To hear the ploughboy whistling, and to know,
It smacks of the wild bush, that tune--'Tis ours,
And look! the bank is pale with primrose flowers,
What veils of tender mist make soft the lea,
What bloom of air the height; no veils confer
On warring thought or softness or degree
Or rest. Still falling, conquering, strife and stir.
For this religion pays indemnity.
She pays her enemies for conquering her.
And then her friends; while ever, and in vain
Lots for a seamless coat are cast again.
Whose it shall be; unless it shall endow
Thousands of thousands it can fall to none,
But faith and hope are not so simple now,
As in the year of our redemption--One.
The pencil of pure light must disallow
Its name and scattering, many hues put on,
And faith and hope low in the valley feel,
There it is well with them, 'tis very well.
The land is full of vision, voices call.
Can spirits cast a shadow? Ay, I trow
Past is not done, and over is not all,
Opinion dies to live and wanes to grow,
The gossamer of thought doth filmlike fall,
On fallows after dawn make shimmering show,
And with old arrow-heads, her earliest prize,
Mix learning's latest guess and last surmise.
There heard I pipes of fame, saw wrens 'about
That time when kings go forth to battle' dart,
Full valorous atoms pierced with song, and stout
To dare, and down yclad; I shared the smart
Of grieved cushats, bloom of love, devout
Beyond man's thought of it. Old song my heart
Rejoiced, but O mine own forelders' ways
To look on, and their fashions of past days.
The ponderous craft of arms I craved to see,
Knights, burghers, filtering through those gates ajar,
Their age of serfdom with my spirit free;
We cannot all have wisdom; some there are
Believe a star doth rule their destiny,
And yet they think to overreach the star,
For thought can weld together things apart,
And contraries find meeting in the heart.
In the deep dust at Suez without sound
I saw the Arab children walk at eve,
Their dark untroubled eyes upon the ground,
A part of Time's grave quiet. I receive
Since then a sense, as nature might have found
Love kin to man's that with the past doth grieve;
And lets on waste and dust of ages fall
Her tender silences that mean it all.
We have it of her, with her; it were ill
For men, if thought were widowed of the world,
Or the world beggared of her sons, for still
A crowned sphere with many gems impearled
She rolls because of them. We lend her will
And she yields love. The past shall not be hurled
In the abhorred limbo while the twain,
Mother and son, hold partnership and reign.
She hangs out omens, and doth burdens dree.
Is she in league with heaven? That knows but One.
For man is not, and yet his work we see
Full of unconscious omen darkly done.
I saw the ring-stone wrought at Avebury
To frame the face of the midwinter sun,
Good luck that hour they thought from him forth smiled
At midwinter the Sun did rise--the Child.
Still would the world divine though man forbore,
And what is beauty but an omen?--what
But life's deep divination cast before,
Omen of coming love? Hard were man's lot,
With love and toil together at his door,
But all-convincing eyes hath beauty got;
His love is beautiful, and he shall sue.
Toil for her sake is sweet, the omen true.
Love, love, and come it must, then life is found
Beforehand that was whole and fronting care,
A torn and broken half in durance bound
That mourns and makes request for its right fair
Remainder, with forlorn eyes cast around
To search for what is lost, that unaware
With not an hour's forebodement makes the day
From henceforth less or more for ever and aye.
Her name--my love's--I knew it not; who says
Of vagrant doubt for such a cause that stirs
His fancy shall not pay arrearages
To all sweet names that might perhaps be hers?
The doubts of love are powers. His heart obeys,
The world is in them, still to love defers,
Will play with him for love, but when 't begins
The play is high, and the world always wins.
For 'tis the maiden's world, and his no more.
Now thus it was: with new found kin flew by
The temperate summer; every wheatfield wore
Its gold, from house to house in ardency
Of heart for what they showed I westward bore--
My mother's land, her native hills drew nigh;
I was--how green, how good old earth can be--
Beholden to that land for teaching me.
And parted from my fellows, and went on
To feel the spiritual sadness spread
Adown long pastoral hollows. And anon
Did words recur in far remoteness said:
'See the deep vale ere dews are dried and gone,
Where my so happy life in peace I led,
And the great shadow of the Beacon lies--
See little Ledbury trending up the rise.
With peaked houses and high market hall--
An oak each pillar--reared in the old days.
And here was little Ledbury, quaint withal,
The forest felled, her lair and sheltering place
She long time left in age pathetical.
'Great oaks' methought, as I drew near to gaze,
'Were but of small account when these came down,
Drawn rough-hewn in to serve the tree-girt town.
And thus and thus of it will question be
The other side the world.' I paused awhile
To mark. 'The old hall standeth utterly
Without or floor or side, a comely pile,
A house on pillars, and by destiny
Drawn under its deep roof I saw a file
Of children slowly through their way make good,
And lifted up mine eyes--and there--SHE STOOD.
She was so stately that her youthful grace
Drew out, it seemed, my soul unto the air,
Astonished out of breathing by her face
So fain to nest itself in nut-brown hair
Lying loose about her throat. But that old place
Proved sacred, she just fully grown too fair
For such a thought. The dimples that she had!
She was so truly sweet that it was sad.
I was all hers. That moment gave her power--
And whom, nay what she was, I scarce might know,
But felt I had been born for that good hour.
The perfect creature did not move, but so
As if ordained to claim all grace for dower.
She leaned against the pillar, and below
Three almost babes, her care, she watched the while
With downcast lashes and a musing smile.
I had been 'ware without a rustic treat,
Waggons bedecked with greenery stood anigh,
A swarm of children in the cheerful street
With girls to marshal them; but all went by
And none I noted save this only sweet:
Too young her charge more venturous sport to try,
With whirling baubles still they play content,
And softly rose their lisping babblement.
'O what a pause! to be so near, to mark
The locket rise and sink upon her breast;
The shadow of the lashes lieth dark
Upon her cheek. O fleeting time, O rest!
A slant ray finds the gold, and with a spark
And flash it answers, now shall be the best.
Her eyes she raises, sets their light on mine,
They do not flash nor sparkle--no--but shine.'
As I for very hopelessness made bold
Did off my hat ere time there was for thought,
She with a gracious sweetness, calm, not cold,
Acknowledged me, but brought my chance to nought
'This vale of imperfection doth not hold
A lovelier bud among its loveliest wrought!
She turns,' methought 'O do not quite forget
To me remains for ever--that we met.'
And straightway I went forth, I could no less,
Another light unwot of fall'n on me,
And rare elation and high happiness
Some mighty power set hands of mastery
Among my heartstrings, and they did confess
With wild throbs inly sweet, that minstrelsy
A nightingale might dream so rich a strain,
And pine to change her song for sleep again.
The harp thrilled ever: O with what a round
And series of rich pangs fled forth each note
Oracular, that I had found, had found
(Head waters of old Nile held less remote)
Golden Dorado, dearest, most renowned;
But when as 't were a sigh did overfloat,
Shaping 'how long, not long shall this endure,
_Au jour le jour'_ methought, _'Aujour le jour'_.
The minutes of that hour my heart knew well
Were like the fabled pint of golden grain,
Each to be counted, paid for, till one fell,
Grew, shot up to another world amain,
And he who dropped might climb it, there to dwell.
I too, I clomb another world full fain,
But was she there? O what would be the end,
Might she nor there appear, nor I descend?
All graceful as a palm the maiden stood;
Men say the palm of palms in tropic Isles
Doth languish in her deep primeval wood,
And want the voice of man, his home, his smiles,
Nor flourish but in his dear neighborhood;
She too shall want a voice that reconciles,
A smile that charms--how sweet would heaven so please--
To plant her at my door over far seas.
I paced without, nor ever liege in truth
His sovran lady watched with more grave eyes
Of reverence, and she nothing ware forsooth,
Did standing charm the soul with new surprise.
Moving flow on a dimpled dream of youth.
Look! look! a sunbeam on her. Ay, but lies
The shade more sweetly now she passeth through
To join her fellow maids returned anew.
I saw (myself to bide unmarked intent)
Their youthful ease and pretty airs sedate,
They are so good, they are so innocent,
Those Islanders, they learn their part so late,
Of life's demand right careless, dwell content
Till the first love's first kiss shall consecrate
Their future to a world that can but be
By their sweet martyrdom and ministry.
Most happy of God's creatures. Afterward
More than all women married thou wilt be,
E'en to the soul. One glance desired afford,
More than knight's service might'st thou ask of me.
Not any chance is mine, not the best word,
No, nor the salt of life withouten thee.
Must this all end, is my day so soon o'er?
Untroubled violet eyes, look once,--once more.
No, not a glance: the low sun lay and burned,
Now din of drum and cry of fife withal,
Blithe teachers mustering frolic swarms returned,
And new-world ways in that old market hall,
Sweet girls, fair women, how my whole heart yearned
Her to draw near who made my festival.
With others closing round, time speeding on,
How soon she would be gone, she would be gone!
Ay, but I thought to track the rustic wains,
Their goal desired to note, but not anigh,
They creaking down long hop ycrested lanes
'Neath the abiding flush of that north sky.
I ran, my horse I fetched, but fate ordains
Love shall breed laughter when th' unloving spy.
As I drew rein to watch the gathered crowd,
With sudden mirth an old wife laughed aloud.
Her cheeks like winter apples red of hue,
Her glance aside. To whom her speech--to me?
'I know the thing you go about to do--
The lady--' 'What! the lady--' 'Sir,' saith she,
('I thank you kindly, sir), I tell you true
She's gone,' and 'here's a coil' methought 'will be.'
'Gone--where?' ''Tis past my wit forsooth to say
If they went Malvern way or Hereford way.
A carriage took her up--where three roads meet
They needs must pass; you may o'ertake it yet.'
And 'Oyez, Oyez' peals adown the street,
'Lost, lost, a golden heart with pearls beset.'
'I know her, sir?--not I. To help this treat,
Many strange ladies from the country met.'
'O heart beset with pearls! my hope was crost.
Farewell, good dame. Lost! oh my lady lost.'
And 'Oyez, Oyez' following after me
On my great errand to the sundown went.
Lost, lost, and lost, whenas the cross road flee
Up tumbled hills, on each for eyes attent
A carriage creepeth.
'Though in neither she,
I ne'er shall know life's worst impoverishment,
An empty heart. No time, I stake my all,
To right! and chase the rose-red evenfall.
Fly up, good steed, fly on. Take the sharp rise
As't were a plain. A lady sits; but one.
So fast the pace she turns in startled wise,
She sets her gaze on mine and all is done.
"Persian Roxana" might have raised such eyes
When Alexander sought her. Now the sun
Dips, and my day is over; turn and fleet
The world fast flies, again do three roads meet.'
I took the left, and for some cause unknown
Full fraught of hope and joy the way pursued,
Yet chose strong reasons speeding up alone
To fortify me 'gainst a shock more rude.
E'en so the diver carrieth down a stone
In hand, lest he float up before he would,
And end his walk upon the rich sea-floor,
Those pearls he failed to grasp never to look on more.
Then as the low moon heaveth, waxen white,
The carriage, and it turns into a gate.
Within sit three in pale pathetic light.
O surely one of these my love, my fate.
But ere I pass they wind away from sight.
Then cottage casements glimmer. All elate
I cross a green, there yawns with opened latch
A village hostel capped in comely thatch.
'The same world made for all is made for each.
To match a heart's magnificence of hope.
How shall good reason best high action teach
To win of custom, and with home to cope
How warrantably may he hope to win
A star, that wants it? Shall he lie and grope,
No, truly.--I will see her; tell my tale,
See her this once,--and if I fail--I fail.'
Thus with myself I spoke. A rough brick floor
Made the place homely; I would rest me there.
But how to sleep? Forth of the unlocked door
I passed at midnight, lustreless white air
Made strange the hour, that ecstasy not o'er
I moved among the shadows, all my care--
Counted a shadow--her drawn near to bless,
Impassioned out of fear, rapt, motionless.
Now a long pool and water-hens at rest
(As doughty seafolk dusk, at Malabar)
A few pale stars lie trembling on its breast.
Hath the Most High of all His host afar
One most supremely beautiful, one best,
Dearest of all the flock, one favourite star?
His Image given, in part the children know
They love one first and best. It may be so.
Now a long hedge; here dream the woolly folk;
A majesty of silence is about.
Transparent mist rolls off the pool like smoke,
And Time is in his trance and night devout.
Now the still house. O an I knew she woke
I could not look, the sacred moon sheds out
So many blessings on her rooftree low,
Each more pathetic that she nought doth know.
I would not love a little, nor my start
Make with the multitude that love and cease.
He gives too much that giveth half a heart,
Too much for liberty, too much for peace.
Let me the first and best and highest impart,
The whole of it, and heaven the whole increase!
For _that_ were not too much.
(In the moon's wake
How the grass glitters, for her sweetest sake.)
I would toward her walk the silver floors.
Love loathes an average--all extreme things deal
To love--sea-deep and dazzling height for stores.
There are on Fortune's errant foot can steal,
Can guide her blindfold in at their own doors,
Or dance elate upon her slippery wheel.
Courage! there are 'gainst hope can still advance,
Dowered with a sane, a wise extravagance.
To one a dreaming: when the dew
Falls, 'tis a time for rest; and when the bird
Calls, 'tis a time to wake, to wake for you.
A long-waking, aye, waking till a word
Come from her coral mouth to be the true
Sum of all good heart wanted, ear hath heard.
Yet if alas! might love thy dolour be,
Dream, dear heart dear, and do not dream of me.
To one awakened, when the heart
Cries 'tis a day for thought, and when the soul
Sighs choose thy part, O choose thy part, thy part.
I bring to one beloved, bring my whole
Store, make in loving, make O make mine art
More. Yet I ask no, ask no wished goal
But this--if loving might thy dolour be,
Wake, O my lady loved, and love not me.
'That which the many win, love's niggard sum,
I will not, if love's all be left behind.
That which I am I cannot unbecome,
My past not unpossess, nor future blind.
Let me all risk, and leave the deep heart dumb
For ever, if that maiden sits enshrined
The saint of one more happy. She is she.
There is none other. Give her then to me.
Or else to be the better for her face
Beholding it no more.' Then all night through
The shadow moves with infinite dark grace.
The light is on her windows, and the dew
Comforts the world and me, till in my place
At moonsetting, when stars flash out to view,
Comes 'neath the cedar boughs a great repose,
The peace of one renouncing, and then a doze.
There was no dream, yet waxed a sense in me
Asleep that patience was the better way,
Appeasement for a want that needs must be,
Grew as the dominant mind forbore its sway,
Till whistling sweet stirred in the cedar tree--
I started--woke--it was the dawn of day.
That was the end. 'Slow solemn growth of light,
Come what come will, remains to me this night.'
It was the end, with dew ordained to melt,
How easily was learned, how all too soon
Not there, not thereabout such maiden dwelt.
What was it promised me so fair a boon?
Heart-hope is not less vain because heart-felt,
Gone forth once more in search of her at noon
Through the sweet country side on hill, on plain,
I sought and sought many long days in vain.
To Malvern next, with feathery woodland hung,
Whereto old Piers the Plowman came to teach,
On her green vasty hills the lay was sung,
He too, it may be, lisping in his speech,
'To make the English sweet upon his tongue.'
How many maidens beautiful, and each
Might him delight, that loved no other fair;
But Malvern blessed not me,--she was not there.
Then to that town, but still my fate the same.
Crowned with old works that her right well beseem,
To gaze upon her field of ancient fame
And muse on the sad thrall's most piteous dream,
By whom a 'shadow like an angel came,'
Crying out on Clarence, its wild eyes agleam,
Accusing echoes here still falter and flee,
'That stabbed me on the field by Tewkesbury.'
It nothing 'vailed that yet I sought and sought,
Part of my very self was left behind,
Till risen in wrath against th' o'ermastering thought,
'Let me be thankful,' quoth the better mind,
Thankful for her, though utterly to nought
She brings my heart's cry, and I live to find
A new self of the old self exigent
In the light of my divining discontent.
The picture of a maiden bidding 'Arise,
I am the Art of God. He shows by me
His great idea, so well as sin-stained eyes
Love aidant can behold it.'
Is this she?
Or is it mine own love for her supplies
The meaning and the power? Howe'er this be,
She is the interpreter by whom most near
Man's soul is drawn to beauty and pureness here.
The sweet idea, invisible hitherto,
Is in her face, unconscious delegate;
That thing she wots not of ordained to do:
But also it shall be her votary's fate,
Through her his early days of ease to eschew,
Struggle with life and prove its weary weight.
All the great storms that rising rend the soul,
Are life in little, imaging the whole.
Ay, so as life is, love is, in their ken
Stars, infant yet, both thought to grasp, to keep,
Then came the morn of passionate splendour, when
So sweet the light, none but for bliss could weep,
And then the strife, the toil; but we are men,
Strong, brave to battle with the stormy deep;
Then fear--and then renunciation--then
Appeals unto the Infinite Pity--and sleep.
But after life the sleep is long. Not so
With love. Love buried lieth not straight, not still,
Love starts, and after lull awakes to know
All the deep things again. And next his will,
That dearest pang is, never to forego.
He would all service, hardship, fret fulfill.
Unhappy love! and I of that great host
Unhappy love who cry, unhappy most.
Because renunciation was so short,
The starved heart so easily awaked;
A dream could do it, a bud, a bird, a thought,
But I betook me with that want which ached
To neighbour lands where strangeness with me wrought.
The old work was so hale, its fitness slaked
Soul-thirst for truth. 'I knew not doubt nor fear,'
Its language, 'war or worship, sure sincere.'
Then where by Art the high did best translate
Life's infinite pathos to the soul, set down
Beauty and mystery, that imperious hate
On its best braveness doth and sainthood frown,
Nay more the MASTER'S manifest pity--'wait,
Behold the palmgrove and the promised crown.
He suffers with thee, for thee.--Lo the Child!
Comfort thy heart; he certainly so smiled.'
Thus love and I wore through the winter time.
Then saw her demon blush Vesuvius try,
Then evil ghosts white from the awful prime,
Thrust up sharp peaks to tear the tender sky.
'No more to do but hear that English chime'
I to a kinsman wrote. He made reply,
'As home I bring my girl and boy full soon,
I pass through Evesham,--meet me there at noon.
'The bells your father loved you needs must hear,
Seek Oxford next with me,' and told the day.
'Upon the bridge I'll meet you. What! how dear
Soever was a dream, shall it bear sway
To mar the waking?'
I set forth, drew near,
Beheld a goodly tower, twin churches grey,
Evesham. The bridge, and noon. I nothing knew
What to my heart that fateful chime would do.
For suddenly the sweet bells overcame
A world unsouled; did all with man endow;
His yearning almost tell that passeth name
And said they were full old, and they were now
And should be; and their sighing upon the same
For our poor sake that pass they did avow,
While on clear Avon flowed like man's short day
The shining river of life lapsing away.
The stroke of noon. The bell-bird! yes and no.
Winds of remembrance swept as over the foam
Of anti-natal shores. At home is it so,
My country folk? Ay, 'neath this pale blue dome,
Many of you in the moss lie low--lie low.
Ah! since I have not HER, give me too, home.
A footstep near! I turned; past likelihood,
Past hope, before me on the bridge--SHE STOOD.
A rosy urchin had her hand; this cried,
'We think you are our cousin--yes, you are;
I said so to Estelle.' The violet-eyed,
'If this be Geoffrey?' asked; and as from far
A doubt came floating up; but she denied
Her thought, yet blushed. O beautiful! my Star!
Then, with the lifting of my hat, each wore
That look which owned to each, 'We have met before.'
Then was the strangest bliss in life made mine;
I saw the almost worshipped--all remote;
The Star so high above that used to shine,
Translated from the void where it did float,
And brought into relation with the fine
Charities earth hath grown. A great joy smote
Me silent, and the child atween us tway,
We watched the lucent river stealing away.
While her deep eyes down on the ripple fell,
Quoth the small imp, '"How fast you go and go,
You Avon. Does it wish to stop, Estelle,
And hear the clock, and see the orchards blow?
_It does not care!_ Not when the old big bell
Makes a great buzzing noise?--Who told you so?"
And then to me, "I like to hear it hum.
Why do you think that father could not come?"
Estelle forgot her violin. And he,
O then he said: "How careless, child, of you;
I must send on for it. 'T would pity be
If that were lost.
I want to learn it too;
And when I'm nine I shall."
Then turning, she
Let her sweet eyes unveil them to my view;
Her stately grace outmatched my dream of old,
But ah! the smile dull memory had not told.
My kinsman next, with care-worn kindly brow.
'Well, father,' quoth the imp, 'we've done our part.
We found him.'
And she, wholly girlish now,
Laid her young hand on his with lovely art
And sweet excuses. O! I made my vow
I would all dare, such life did warm my heart;
We journeyed, all the air with scents of price
Was laden, and the goal was Paradise.
When that the Moors betook them to their sand,
Their domination over in fair Spain,
Each locked, men say, his door in that loved land,
And took the key in hope to come again.
On Moorish walls yet hung, long dust each hand,
The keys, but not the might to use, remain;
Is there such house in some blest land for me?
I can, I will, I do reach down the key.
A country conquered oft, and long before,
Of generations aye ordained to win;
If mine the power, I will unlock the door.
Enter, O light, I bear a sunbeam in.
What, did the crescent wane! Yet man is more,
And love achieves because to heaven akin.
O life! to hear again that wandering bell,
And hear it at thy feet, Estelle, Estelle.
Full oft I want the sacred throated bird,
Over our limitless waste of light which spoke
The spirit of the call my fathers heard,
Saying 'Let us pray,' and old world echoes woke
Ethereal minster bells that still averr'd,
And with their phantom notes th' all silence broke.
'The fanes are far, but whom they shrined is near.
Thy God, the Island God, is here, is here.'
To serve; to serve a thought, and serve apart
To meet; a few short days, a maiden won.
'Ah, sweet, sweet home, I must divide my heart,
Betaking me to countries of the sun.'
'What straight-hung leaves, what rays that twinkle and dart,
Make me to like them.'
'Love, it shall be done,'
'What weird dawn-fire across the wide hill flies.'
'It is the flame-tree's challenge to yon scarlet skies.'
'Hark, hark, O hark! the spirit of a bell!
What would it? ('Toll.') An air-hung sacred call,
Athwart the forest shade it strangely fell'--
The longed-for voice, but ah, withal
I felt, I knew, it was my father's knell
That touched and could the over-sense enthrall.
Perfect his peace, a whispering pure and deep
As theirs who 'neath his native towers by Avon sleep.
If love and death are ever reconciled,
'T is when the old lie down for the great rest.
We rode across the bush, a sylvan wild
That was an almost world, whose calm oppressed
With audible silence; and great hills inisled
Rose out as from a sea. Consoling, blest
And blessing spoke she, and the reedflower spread,
And tall rock lilies towered above her head.
* * * * *
Sweet is the light aneath our matchless blue,
The shade below yon passion plant that lies,
And very sweet is love, and sweet are you,
My little children dear, with violet eyes,
And sweet about the dawn to hear anew
The sacred monotone of peace arise.
Love, 't is thy welcome from the air-hung bell,
Congratulant and clear, Estelle, Estelle.
LOSS AND WASTE.
Up to far Osteroe and Suderoe
The deep sea-floor lies strewn with Spanish wrecks,
O'er minted gold the fair-haired fishers go,
O'er sunken bravery of high carved decks.
In earlier days great Carthage suffered bale
(All her waste works choke under sandy shoals);
And reckless hands tore down the temple veil;
And Omar burned the Alexandrian rolls.
The Old World arts men suffered not to last,
Flung down they trampled lie and sunk from view,
He lets wild forest for these ages past
Grow over the lost cities of the New.
O for a life that shall not be refused
To see the lost things found, and waste things used.
ON A PICTURE.
As a forlorn soul waiting by the Styx
Dimly expectant of lands yet more dim,
Might peer afraid where shadows change and mix
Till the dark ferryman shall come for him.
And past all hope a long ray in his sight,
Fall'n trickling down the steep crag Hades-black
Reveals an upward path to life and light,
Nor any let but he should mount that track.
As with the sudden shock of joy amazed,
He might a motionless sweet moment stand,
So doth that mortal lover, silent, dazed,
For hope had died and loss was near at hand.
'Wilt thou?' his quest. Unready but for 'Nay,'
He stands at fault for joy, she whispering 'Ay.'
THE SLEEP OF SIGISMUND.
The doom'd king pacing all night through the windy fallow.
'Let me alone, mine enemy, let me alone,'
Never a Christian bell that dire thick gloom to hallow,
Or guide him, shelterless, succourless, thrust from his own.
Foul spirits riding the wind do flout at him friendless,
The rain and the storm on his head beat ever at will;
His weird is on him to grope in the dark with endless
Weariful feet for a goal that shifteth still.
A sleuth-hound baying! The sleuth-hound bayeth behind him,
His head, he flying and stumbling turns back to the sound,
Whom doth the sleuth-hound follow? What if it find him;
Up! for the scent lieth thick, up from the level ground.
Up, on, he must on, to follow his weird essaying,
Lo you, a flood from the crag cometh raging past,
He falls, he fights in the water, no stop, no staying,
Soon the king's head goes under, the weird is dreed at last.
'Wake, O king, the best star worn
In the crown of night, forlorn
Blinks a fine white point--'t is morn.'
Soft! The queen's voice, fair is she,
'Wake!' He waketh, living, free,
In the chamber of arras lieth he.
Delicate dim shadows yield
Silken curtains over head
All abloom with work of neeld,
Martagon and milleflower spread.
On the wall his golden shield,
Dinted deep in battle field,
When the host o' the Khalif fled.
Gold to gold. Long sunbeams flit
Upward, tremble and break on it.
'Ay, 't is over, all things writ
Of my sleep shall end awake,
Now is joy, and all its bane
The dark shadow of after pain.'
Then the queen saith, 'Nay, but break
Unto me for dear love's sake
This thy matter. Thou hast been
In great bitterness I ween
All the night-time.' But 'My queen,
Life, love, lady, rest content,
Ill dreams fly, the night is spent,
Good day draweth on. Lament
'Vaileth not,--yea peace,' quoth he;
'Sith this thing no better may be,
Best were held 'twixt thee and me.'
Then the fair queen, 'Even so
As thou wilt, O king, but know
Mickle nights have wrought thee woe,
Yet the last was troubled sore
Above all that went before.'
Quoth the king, 'No more, no more.'
Then he riseth, pale of blee,
As one spent, and utterly
Master'd of dark destiny.
Comes a day for glory famed
Tidings brought the enemy shamed,
Fallen; now is peace proclaimed.
And a swarm of bells on high
Make their sweet din scale the sky,
'Hail! hail! hail!' the people cry
To the king his queen beside,
And the knights in armour ride
After until eventide.
All things great may life afford,
Praise, power, love, high pomp, fair gaud,
Till the banquet be toward
Hath this king. Then day takes flight,
Sinketh sun and fadeth light,
Late he coucheth--Night; 't is night.
_The proud king heading the host on his red roan charger._
Dust. On a thicket of spears glares the Syrian sun,
The Saracens swarm to the onset, larger aye larger
Loom their fierce cohorts, they shout as the day were won.
Brown faces fronting the steel-bright armour, and ever
The crash o' the combat runs on with a mighty cry,
Fell tumult; trampling and carnage--then fails endeavour,
O shame upon shame--the Christians falter and fly.
The foe upon them, the foe afore and behind them,
The king borne back in the melee; all, all is vain;
They fly with death at their heels, fierce sun-rays blind them,
Riderless steeds affrighted, tread down their ranks amain.
Disgrace, dishonour, no rally, ah no retrieving,
The scorn of scorns shall his name and his nation brand,
'T is a sword that smites from the rear, his helmet cleaving,
That hurls him to earth, to his death on the desert sand.
Ever they fly, the cravens, and ever reviling
Flies after. Athirst, ashamed, he yieldeth his breath,
While one looks down from his charger; and calm slow smiling,
Curleth his lip. 'T is the Khalif. And this is death.
'Wake, yon purple peaks arise,
Jagged, bare, through saffron skies;
Now is heard a twittering sweet,
For the mother-martins meet,
Where wet ivies, dew-besprent,
Glisten on the battlement.
Now the lark at heaven's gold gate
Aiming, sweetly chides on fate
That his brown wings wearied were
When he, sure, was almost there.
Now the valley mist doth break,
Shifting sparkles edge the lake,
Love, Lord, Master, wake, O wake!'
Ay, he wakes,--and dull of cheer,
Though this queen be very dear,
Though a respite come with day
From th' abhorred flight and fray,
E'en though life be not the cost,
Nay, nor crown nor honour lost;
For in his soul abideth fear
Worse than of the Khalif's spear,
Smiting when perforce in flight
He was borne,--for that was night,
That his weird. But now 't is day,
'And good sooth I know not--nay,
Know not how this thing could be.
Never, more it seemeth me
Than when left the weird to dree,
I am I. And it was I
Felt or ever they turned to fly,
How, like wind, a tremor ran,
The right hand of every man
Shaking. Ay, all banners shook,
And the red all cheeks forsook,
Mine as theirs. Since this was I,
Who my soul shall certify
When again I face the foe
Manful courage shall not go.
Ay, it is not thrust o' a spear,
Scorn of infidel eyes austere,
But mine own fear--is to fear.'
After sleep thus sore bestead,
Beaten about and buffeted,
Featly fares the morning spent
In high sport and tournament.
Served within his sumptuous tent,
Looks the king in quiet wise,
Till this fair queen yield the prize
To the bravest; but when day
Falleth to the west away,
Unto her i' the silent hour,
While she sits in her rose-bower.
Come, 'O love, full oft,' quoth she,