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Poetical Works of George MacDonald, Vol. 2 by George MacDonald

Part 3 out of 9

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You to the castle of Love belong:
Forgive the sore heart that made sharp the tongue!
Your swift-flying feet the Shepherd sends
To gather the lambs, his little friends,
And draw the sheep after for rich amends!
Sharp are your teeth, my wolves divine,
But loves and no hates in your deep eyes shine!
No more will I call you evil names,
No more assail you with untrue blames!
Wake me with howling, check me with biting,
Rouse up my strength for the holy fighting:
Hunt me still back, nor let me stray
Out of the infinite narrow way,
The radiant march of the Lord of Light
Home to the Father of Love and Might,
Where each puts Thou in the place of I,
And Love is the Law of Liberty.



Forth to his study the sculptor goes
In a mood of lofty mirth:
"Now shall the tongues of my carping foes
Confess what my art is worth!
In my brain last night the vision arose,
To-morrow shall see its birth!"

He stood like a god; with creating hand
He struck the formless clay:
"Psyche, arise," he said, "and stand;
In beauty confront the day.
I have sought nor found thee in any land;
I call thee: arise; obey!"

The sun was low in the eastern skies
When spoke the confident youth;
Sweet Psyche, all day, his hands and eyes
Wiled from the clay uncouth,
Nor ceased when the shadows came up like spies
That dog the steps of Truth.

He said, "I will do my will in spite
Of the rising dark; for, see,
She grows to my hand! The mar-work night
Shall hurry and hide and flee
From the glow of my lamp and the making might
That passeth out of me!"

In the flickering lamplight the figure swayed,
In the shadows did melt and swim:
With tool and thumb he modelled and made,
Nor knew that feature and limb
Half-obeying, half-disobeyed,
And mocking eluded him.

At the dawning Psyche of his brain
Joyous he wrought all night:
The oil went low, and he trimmed in vain,
The lamp would not burn bright;
But he still wrought on: through the high roof-pane
He saw the first faint light!

The dark retreated; the morning spread;
His creatures their shapes resume;
The plaster stares dumb-white and dead;
A faint blue liquid bloom
Lies on each marble bosom and head;
To his Psyche clings the gloom.

Backward he stept to see the clay:
His visage grew white and sear;
No beauty ideal confronted the day,
No Psyche from upper sphere,
But a once loved shape that in darkness lay,
Buried a lonesome year!

From maidenhood's wilderness fair and wild
A girl to his charm had hied:
He had blown out the lamp of the trusting child,
And in the darkness she died;
Now from the clay she sadly smiled,
And the sculptor stood staring-eyed.

He had summoned Psyche--and Psyche crept
From a half-forgotten tomb;
She brought her sad smile, that still she kept,
Her eyes she left in the gloom!
High grace had found him, for now he wept,
And love was his endless doom!

Night-long he pined, all day did rue;
He haunted her form with sighs:
As oft as his clay to a lady grew
The carvers, with dim surmise,
Would whisper, "The same shape come to woo,
With its blindly beseeching eyes!"


Through still, bare streets, and cold moonshine
His homeward way he bent;
The clocks gave out the midnight sign
As lost in thought he went
Along the rampart's ocean-line,
Where, high above the tossing brine,
Seaward his lattice leant.

He knew not why he left the throng,
Why there he could not rest,
What something pained him in the song
And mocked him in the jest,
Or why, the flitting crowd among,
A moveless moonbeam lay so long
Athwart one lady's breast!

He watched, but saw her speak to none,
Saw no one speak to her;
Like one decried, she stood alone,
From the window did not stir;
Her hair by a haunting gust was blown,
Her eyes in the shadow strangely shown,
She looked a wanderer.

He reached his room, he sought a book
His brooding to beguile;
But ever he saw her pallid look,
Her face too still to smile.
An hour he sat in his fireside nook,
The time flowed past like a silent brook,
Not a word he read the while.

Vague thoughts absorbed his passive brain
Of love that bleeding lies,
Of hoping ever and hoping in vain,
Of a sorrow that never dies--
When a sudden spatter of angry rain
Smote against every window-pane,
And he heard far sea-birds' cries.

He looked from the lattice: the misty moon
Hardly a glimmer gave;
The wind was like one that hums a tune,
The first low gathering stave;
The ocean lay in a sullen swoon,
With a moveless, monotonous, murmured croon
Like the moaning of a slave.

Sudden, with masterful, angry blare
It howled from the watery west:
The storm was up, he had left his lair!
The night would be no jest!
He turned: a lady sat in his chair!
Through her loose dim robe her arm came bare,
And it lay across her breast.

She sat a white queen on a ruined throne,
A lily bowed with blight;
In her eyes the darkness about was blown
By flashes of liquid light;
Her skin with very whiteness shone;
Back from her forehead loosely thrown
Her hair was dusk as night.

Wet, wet it hung, and wept like weeds
Down her pearly shoulders bare;
The pale drops glistened like diamond beads
Caught in a silken snare;
As the silver-filmy husk to its seeds
Her dank robe clings, and but half recedes
Her form so shadowy fair.

Doubting she gazed in his wondering face,
Wonder his utterance ties;
She searches, like one in forgetful case,
For something within his eyes,
For something that love holds ever in chase,
For something that is, and has no place,
But away in the thinking lies.

Speechless he ran, brought a wrap of wool,
And a fur that with down might vie;
Listless, into the gathering pool
She dropped them, and let them lie.
He piled the hearth with fagots so full
That the flames, as if from the log of Yule,
Up the chimney went roaring high.

Then she spoke, and lovely to heart and ear
Was her voice, though broke by pain;
Afar it sounded, though sweet and clear,
As if from out of the rain;
As if from out of the night-wind drear
It came like the voice of one in fear
Lest she should no welcome gain.

"I am too far off to feel the cold,
Too cold to feel the fire;
It cannot get through the heap of mould
That soaks in the drip from the spire:
Cerement of wax 'neath cloth of gold,
'Neath fur and wool in fold on fold,
Freezes in frost so dire."

Her voice and her eyes and her cheek so white
Thrilled him through heart and brain;
Wonder and pity and love unite
In a passion of bodiless pain;
Her beauty possessed him with strange delight:
He was out with her in the live wan night,
With her in the blowing rain!

Sudden she rose, she kneeled, she flung
Her loveliness at his feet:
"I am tired of being blown and swung
In the rain and the snow and the sleet!
But better no rest than stillness among
Things whose names would defile my tongue!
How I hate the mouldy sheet!

"Ah, though a ghost, I'm a lady still!"
The youth recoiled aghast.
Her eyes grew wide and pale and chill
With a terror that surpassed.
He caught her hand: a freezing thrill
Stung to his wrist, but with steadfast will
He held it warm and fast.

"What can I do to save thee, dear?"
At the word she sprang upright;
On tiptoe she stood, he bent his ear,
She whispered, whispered light.
She withdrew; she gazed with an asking fear:
Like one that looks on his lady's bier
He stood, with a face ghost-white.

"Six times--in vain, oh hapless maid!--
I have humbled myself to sue!
This is the last: as the sunset decayed,
Out with the twilight I grew,
And about the city flitted and strayed,
A wandering, lonely, forsaken shade:
No one saw me but you."

He shivered, he shook, he had turned to clay,
Vile fear had gone into his blood;
His face was a dismal ashy gray,
Through his heart crept slime and mud;
The lady stood in a still dismay,
She drooped, she shrank, she withered away
Like a half-blown frozen bud.

"Speak once more. Am I frightful then?
I live, though they call it death;
I am only cold! Say _dear_ again."
But scarce could he heave a breath;
Over a dank and steaming fen
He floated astray from the world of men,
A lost, half-conscious wraith.

"Ah, 'tis the last time! Save me!" Her cry
Entered his heart, and lay.
But he loved the sunshine, the golden sky,
And the ghosts' moonlight is gray!--
As feverous visions flit and fly
And without a motion elude the eye,
She stood three steps away.

But oh, her eyes!--refusal base
Those live-soul-stars had slain!
Frozen eyes in an icy face
They had grown. Like a ghost of the brain,
Beside the lattice, thought-moved in space,
She stood with a doleful despairing grace:
The fire burned! clanged the rain!

Faded or fled, she had vanished quite!
The loud wind sank to a sigh;
Pale faces without paled the face of night,
Sweeping the window by;
Some to the glass pressed a cheek of fright,
Some shot a gleam of decaying light
From a flickering, uncertain eye.

Whence did it come, from the sky or the deep,
That faint, long-cadenced wail?
From the closing door of the down-way steep,
His own bosom, or out of the gale?
From the land where dead dreams, or dead maidens sleep?
Out of every night to come will creep
That cry his heart to quail!

The clouds had broken, the wind was at rest,
The sea would be still ere morn,
The moon had gone down behind its breast
Save the tip of one blunt horn:
Was that the ghost-angel without a nest--
Across the moonset far in the west
That thin white vapour borne?

He turned from the lattice: the fire-lit room
With its ghost-forsaken chair
Was cold and drear as a rifled tomb,
Shameful and dreamless and bare!
Filled it was with his own soul's gloom,
With the sense of a traitor's merited doom,
With a lovely ghost's despair!

He had driven a lady, and lightly clad,
Out in the stormy cold!
Was she a ghost?--Divinely sad
Are the people of Hades old!
A wandering ghost? Oh, self-care bad,
Caitiff and craven and cowering, which had
Refused her an earthly fold!

Ill had she fared, his lovely guest!--
A passion of wild self-blame
Tore the heart that failed in the test
With a thousand hooks of shame,
Bent his proud head on his heaving breast,
Shore the plume from his ancient crest,
Puffed at his ancient name.

He sickened with scorn of a fallen will,
With love and remorse he wept;
He sank and kissed her footprints chill
And the track by her garment swept;
He kneeled by her chair, all ice-cold still,
Dropped his head in it, moaned until
For weariness he slept.

He slept until the flaming sun
Laughed at the by-gone dark:
"A frightful dream!--but the night is done,"
He said, "and I hear the lark!"
All day he held out; with the evening gun
A booming terror his brain did stun,
And Doubt, the jackal, gan bark.

Followed the lion, Conviction, fast,
And the truth no dream he knew!
Night after night raved the conscience-blast,
But stilled as the morning grew.
When seven slow moons had come and passed
His self-reproach aside he cast,
And the truth appeared untrue.

A lady fair--old story vile!--
Would make his heart her boast:
In the growing glamour of her smile
He forgot the lovely ghost:
Forgot her for bitterness wrapt in wile,
For the lady was false as a crocodile,
And her heart was a cave of frost.

Then the cold white face, with its woe divine,
Came back in the hour of sighs:
Not always with comfort to those that pine
The dear true faces arise!
He yearned for her, dreamed of her, prayed for a sign;
He wept for her pleading voice, and the shine
Of her solitary eyes.

"With thy face so still, which I made so sad--
Ah me! which I might have wooed--
Thou holdest my heart in a love not glad,
Sorrowful, shame-subdued!
Come to me, lady, in pardon clad;
Come to my dreams, white Aidead,
For on thee all day I brood!"

She came not. He sought her in churchyards old,
In churchyards by the sea;
And in many a church, when the midnight tolled
And the moon shone eerily,
Down to the crypt he crept, grown bold,
Sat all night in the dead men's cold,
And called to her: never came she.

Praying forgiveness more and more,
And her love at any cost,
Pining and sighing and longing sore
He grew like a creature lost;
Thin and spectral his body wore,
He faded out at the ghostly door,
And was himself a ghost.

But if he found the lady then,
So sorrowfully lost
For lack of the love 'mong earthly men
That was ready to brave love's cost,
I know not till I drop my pen,
Wander away from earthly ken,
And am myself a ghost.


"If I sit in the dust
For lauding good wine,
Ha, ha! it is just:
So sits the vine!"

Abu Midjan sang as he sat in chains,
For the blood of the grape ran the juice of his veins.
The Prophet had said, "O Faithful, drink not!"
Abu Midjan drank till his heart was hot;
Yea, he sang a song in praise of wine,
He called it good names--a joy divine,
The giver of might, the opener of eyes,
Love's handmaid, the water of Paradise!
Therefore Saad his chief spake words of blame,
And set him in irons--a fettered flame;
But he sings of the wine as he sits in his chains,
For the blood of the grape runs the juice of his veins:

"I will not think
That the Prophet said
_Ye shall not drink
Of the flowing red!_"

"'Tis a drenched brain
Whose after-sting
Cries out, _Refrain:
'Tis an evil thing!_

"But I will dare,
With a goodly drought,
To drink, nor spare
Till my thirst be out.

"_I_ do not laugh
Like a Christian fool
But in silence quaff
The liquor cool

"At door of tent
'Neath evening star,
With daylight spent,
And Uriel afar!

"Then, through the sky,
Lo, the emerald hills!
My faith swells high,
My bosom thrills:

"I see them hearken,
The Houris that wait!
Their dark eyes darken
The diamond gate!

"I hear the float
Of their chant divine,
And my heart like a boat
Sails thither on wine!

"Can an evil thing
Make beauty more?
Or a sinner bring
To the heavenly door?

"The sun-rain fine
Would sink and escape,
But is drunk by the vine,
Is stored in the grape:

"And the prisoned light
I free again:
It flows in might
Through my shining brain

"I love and I know;
The truth is mine;
I walk in the glow
Of the sun-bred wine.

"_I_ will not think
That the Prophet said
_Ye shall not drink
Of the flowing red!_

"For his promises, lo,
Sevenfold they shine
When the channels o'erflow
With the singing wine!

"But I care not, I!--'tis a small annoy
To sit in chains for a heavenly joy!"

Away went the song on the light wind borne;
His head sank down, and a ripple of scorn
Shook the hair that flowed from his curling lip
As he eyed his brown limbs in the iron's grip.

Sudden his forehead he lifted high:
A faint sound strayed like a moth-wing by!
Like beacons his eyes burst blazing forth:
A dust-cloud he spied in the distant north!
A noise and a smoke on the plain afar?
'Tis the cloud and the clang of the Moslem war!
He leapt aloft like a tiger snared;
The wine in his veins through his visage flared;
He tore at his fetters in bootless ire,
He called the Prophet, he named his sire;
From his lips, with wild shout, the Techir burst;
He danced in his irons; the Giaours he cursed;
And his eyes they flamed like a beacon dun,
Or like wine in the crystal twixt eye and sun.

The lady of Saad heard him shout,
Heard his fetters ring on the stones about
The heart of a warrior she understood,
And the rage of the thwarted battle-mood:
Her name, with the cry of an angry prayer,
He called but once, and the lady was there.

"The Giaour!" he panted, "the Godless brute!
And me like a camel tied foot to foot!
Let me go, and I swear by Allah's fear
At sunset I don again this gear,
Or lie in a heaven of starry eyes,
Kissed by moon-maidens of Paradise!
O lady, grant me the death of the just!
Hark to the hurtle! see the dust!"

With ready fingers the noble dame
Unlocked her husband's iron blame;
Brought his second horse, his Abdon, out,
And his second hauberk, light and stout;
Harnessed the warrior, and hight him go
An angel of vengeance upon the foe.

With clank of steel and thud of hoof
Away he galloped; she climbed the roof.

She sees the cloud and the flashes that leap
From the scythe-shaped swords inside it that sweep
Down with back-stroke the disordered swath:
Thither he speeds, a bolt of wrath!
Straight as an arrow she sees him go,
Abu Midjan, the singer, upon the foe!
Like an eagle he vanishes in the cloud,
And the thunder of battle bursts more loud,
Mingled of crashes and blows and falls,
Of the whish that severs the throat that calls,
Of neighing and shouting and groaning grim:
Abu Midjan, she sees no more of him!
Northward the battle drifts afar
On the flowing tide of the holy war.

Lonely across the desert sand,
From his wrist by its thong hung his clotted brand,
Red in the sunset's level flame
Back to his bonds Abu Midjan came.

"Lady, I swear your Saad's horse--
The Prophet himself might have rode a worse!
Like the knots of a serpent the play of his flesh
As he tore to the quarry in Allah's mesh!
I forgot him, and mowed at the traitor weeds,
Which fell before me like rushes and reeds,
Or like the tall poppies that sudden drop low
Their heads to an urchin's unstrung bow!
Fled the Giaour; the faithful flew after to kill;
I turned to surrender: beneath me still
Was Abdon unjaded, fresh in force,
Faithful and fearless--a heavenly horse!
Give him water, lady, and barley to eat;
Then haste thee and fetter the wine-bibber's feet."

To the terrace he went, and she to the stall;
She tended the horse like guest in hall,
Then to the warrior unhasting returned.
The fire of the fight in his eyes yet burned,
But he sat in a silence that might betoken
One ashamed that his heart had spoken--
Though where was the word to breed remorse?
He had lauded only his chief's brave horse!
Not a word she spoke, but his fetters locked;
He watched with a smile that himself bemocked;
She left him seated in caitiff-plight,
Like one that had feared and fled the fight.

But what singer ever sat lonely long
Ere the hidden fountain burst in song!
The battle wine foamed in the warrior's veins,
And he sang sword-tempest who sat in chains.

"Oh, the wine
Of the vine
Is a feeble thing!
In the rattle
Of battle
The true grapes spring!

"When on whir
Of Tecbir
Allah's wrath flies,
And the power
Of the Giaour
A blasted leaf lies!

"When on force
Of the horse
The arm flung abroad
Is sweeping,
And reaping
The harvest of God!

"Ha! they drop
From the top
To the sear heap below!
Ha! deeper,
Down steeper,
The infidels go!

Sheer to hell
Shoots the foul shoals!
There Monker
And Nakir
Torture their souls!

"But when drop
On their crop
The scimitars red,
And under
War's thunder
The faithful lie dead,

"Oh, bright
Is the light
On hero slow breaking!
Rapturous faces
Bent for embraces
Watch for his waking!

"And he hears
In his ears
The voice of Life's river,
Like a song
Of the strong,
Jubilant ever!

"Oh, the wine
Of the vine
May lead to the gates,
But the rattle
Of battle
Wakes the angel who waits!

"To the lord
Of the sword
Open it must!
The drinker,
The thinker
Sits in the dust!

"He dreams
Of the gleams
Of their garments of white;
He misses
Their kisses,
The maidens of light!

"They long
For the strong
Who has burst through alarms--
Up, by the labour
Of stirrup and sabre,
Up to their arms!

"Oh, the wine of the grape is a feeble ghost!
The wine of the fight is the joy of a host!"

When Saad came home from the far pursuit,
An hour he sat, and an hour was mute.
Then he opened his mouth: "Ah, wife, the fight
Had been lost full sure, but an arm of might
Sudden rose up on the crest of the battle,
Flashed blue lightnings, thundered steel rattle,
Took up the fighting, and drove it on--
Enoch sure, or the good Saint John!
Wherever he leaped, like a lion he,
The battle was thickest, or soon to be!
Wherever he sprang with his lion roar,
In a minute the battle was there no more!
With a headlong fear, the sinners fled,
And we swept them down the steep of the dead:
Before us, not from us, did they flee,
They ceased in the depths of a new Red Sea!
But him who saved us we saw no more;
He went as he came, by a secret door!
And strangest of all--nor think I err
If a miracle I for truth aver--
I was close to him thrice--the holy Force
Wore my silver-ringed hauberk, rode Abdon my horse!"

The lady rose up, withholding her word,
And led to the terrace her wondering lord,
Where, song-soothed, and weary with battle strain,
Abu Midjan sat counting the links of his chain:
"The battle was raging, he raging worse;
I freed him, harnessed him, gave him thy horse."

"Abu Midjan! the singer of love and of wine!
The arm of the battle, it also was thine?
Rise up, shake the irons from off thy feet:
For the lord of the fight are fetters meet?
If thou wilt, then drink till thou be hoar:
Allah shall judge thee; I judge no more!"

Abu Midjan arose; he flung aside
The clanking fetters, and thus he cried:
"If thou give me to God and his decrees,
Nor purge my sin with the shame of these,
Wrath against me I dare not store:
In the name of Allah, I drink no more!"


It is May, and the moon leans down at night
Over a blossomy land;
Leans from her window a lady white,
With her cheek upon her hand.

"Oh, why in the blue so misty, moon?
Why so dull in the sky?
Thou look'st like one that is ready to swoon
Because her tear-well is dry.

"Enough, enough of longing and wail!
Oh, bird, I pray thee, be glad!
Sing to me once, dear nightingale,
The old song, merry mad.

"Hold, hold with thy blossoming, colourless, cold,
Apple-tree white as woe!
Blossom yet once with the blossom of old,
Let the roses shine through the snow!"

The moon and the blossoms they gloomily gleam,
The bird will not be glad:
The dead never speak when the mournful dream,
They are too weak and sad.

Listened she listless till night grew late,
Bound by a weary spell;
Then clanked the latch of the garden-gate,
And a wondrous thing befell:

Out burst the gladness, up dawned the love.
In the song, in the waiting show;
Grew silver the moon in the sky above.
Blushed rosy the blossom below.

But the merry bird, nor the silvery moon,
Nor the blossoms that flushed the night
Had one poor thanks for the granted boon:
The lady forgot them quite!


Prince Breacan of Denmark was lord of the strand
And lord of the billowy sea;
Lord of the sea and lord of the land,
He might have let maidens be!

A maiden he met with locks of gold,
Straying beside the sea:
Maidens listened in days of old,
And repented grievously.

Wiser he left her in evil wiles,
Went sailing over the sea;
Came to the lord of the Western Isles:
Give me thy daughter, said he.

The lord of the Isles he laughed, and said:
Only a king of the sea
May think the Maid of the Isles to wed,
And such, men call not thee!

Hold thine own three nights and days
In yon whirlpool of the sea,
Or turn thy prow and go thy ways
And let the isle-maiden be.

Prince Breacan he turned his dragon prow
To Denmark over the sea:
Wise women, he said, now tell me how
In yon whirlpool to anchor me.

Make a cable of hemp and a cable of wool
And a cable of maidens' hair,
And hie thee back to the roaring pool
And anchor in safety there.

The smiths of Greydule, on the eve of Yule,
Will forge three anchors rare;
The hemp thou shalt pull, thou shalt shear the wool,
And the maidens will bring their hair.

Of the hair that is brown thou shalt twist one strand,
Of the hair that is raven another;
Of the golden hair thou shalt twine a band
To bind the one to the other!

The smiths of Greydule, on the eve of Yule,
They forged three anchors rare;
The hemp he did pull, and he shore the wool,
And the maidens brought their hair.

He twisted the brown hair for one strand,
The raven hair for another;
He twined the golden hair in a band
To bind the one to the other.

He took the cables of hemp and wool.
He took the cable of hair,
He hied him back to the roaring pool,
He cast the three anchors there.

The whirlpool roared, and the day went by,
And night came down on the sea;
But or ever the morning broke the sky
The hemp was broken in three.

The night it came down, the whirlpool it ran,
The wind it fiercely blew;
And or ever the second morning began
The wool it parted in two.

The storm it roared all day the third,
The whirlpool wallowed about,
The night came down like a wild black bird,
But the cable of hair held out.

Round and round with a giddy swing
Went the sea-king through the dark;
Round went the rope in the swivel-ring,
Round reeled the straining bark.

Prince Breacan he stood on his dragon prow,
A lantern in his hand:
Blest be the maidens of Denmark now,
By them shall Denmark stand!

He watched the rope through the tempest black
A lantern in his hold:
Out, out, alack! one strand will crack!
It is the strand of gold!

The third morn clear and calm came out:
No anchored ship was there!
The golden strand in the cable stout
Was not all of maidens' hair.


The witch lady walked along the strand,
Heard a roaring of the sea,
On the edge of a pool saw a dead man's hand,
Good thing for a witch lady!

Lightly she stepped across the rocks,
Came where the dead man lay:
Now pretty maid with your merry mocks,
Now I shall have my way!

On a finger shone a sapphire blue
In the heart of six rubies red:
Come back to me, my promise true,
Come back, my ring, she said.

She took the dead hand in the live,
And at the ring drew she;
The dead hand closed its fingers five,
And it held the witch lady.

She swore the storm was not her deed,
Dark spells she backward spoke;
If the dead man heard he took no heed,
But held like a cloven oak.

Deathly cold, crept up the tide,
Sure of her, made no haste;
Crept up to her knees, crept up each side,
Crept up to her wicked waist.

Over the blue sea sailed the bride
In her love's own sailing ship,
And the witch she saw them across the tide
As it rose to her lying lip.

Oh, the heart of the dead and the hand of the dead
Are strong hasps they to hold!
Fled the true dove with the kite's new love,
And left the false kite with the old.



As to her child a mother calls,
"Come to me, child; come near!"
Calling, in silent intervals,
The Master's voice I hear.

But does he call me verily?
To have me does he care?
Why should he seek my poverty,
My selfishness so bare?

The dear voice makes his gladness brim,
But not a child can know
Why that large woman cares for him,
Why she should love him so!

Lord, to thy call of me I bow,
Obey like Abraham:
Thou lov'st me because thou art thou,
And I am what I am!

Doubt whispers, _Thou art such a blot
He cannot love poor thee_:
If what I am he loveth not,
He loves what I shall be.

Nay, that which can be drawn and wooed,
And turned away from ill,
Is what his father made for good:
He loves me, I say still!


To give a thing and take again
Is counted meanness among men;
To take away what once is given
Cannot then be the way of heaven!

But human hearts are crumbly stuff,
And never, never love enough,
Therefore God takes and, with a smile,
Puts our best things away a while.

Thereon some weep, some rave, some scorn,
Some wish they never had been born;
Some humble grow at last and still,
And then God gives them what they will.


Would-be prophets tell us
We shall not re-know
Them that walked our fellows
In the ways below!

Smoking, smouldering Tophets
Steaming hopeless plaints!
Dreary, mole-eyed prophets!
Mean, skin-pledging saints!

Knowing not the Father
What their prophecies!
Grapes of such none gather,
Only thorns and lies.

Loving thus the brother,
How the Father tell?
Go without each other
To your heavenly hell!


O Thou that walkest with nigh hopeless feet
Past the one harbour, built for thee and thine.
Doth no stray odour from its table greet,
No truant beam from fire or candle shine?

At his wide door the host doth stand and call;
At every lattice gracious forms invite;
Thou seest but a dull-gray, solid wall
In forest sullen with the things of night!

Thou cravest rest, and Rest for thee doth crave,
The white sheet folded down, white robe apart.--
Shame, Faithless! No, I do not mean the grave!
I mean Love's very house and hearth and heart.


When thou turn'st away from ill,
Christ is this side of thy hill.

When thou turnest toward good,
Christ is walking in thy wood.

When thy heart says, "Father, pardon!"
Then the Lord is in thy garden.

When stern Duty wakes to watch,
Then his hand is on the latch.

But when Hope thy song doth rouse,
Then the Lord is in the house.

When to love is all thy wit,
Christ doth at thy table sit.

When God's will is thy heart's pole,
Then is Christ thy very soul.


Bands of dark and bands of light
Lie athwart the homeward way;
Now we cross a belt of Night,
Now a strip of shining Day!

Now it is a month of June,
Now December's shivering hour;
Now rides high loved memories' Moon,
Now the Dark is dense with power!

Summers, winters, days, and nights,
Moons, and clouds, they come and go;
Joys and sorrows, pains, delights,
Hope and fear, and _yes_ and _no_.

All is well: come, girls and boys,
Not a weary mile is vain!
Hark--dim laughter's radiant noise!
See the windows through the rain!


Love alone is great in might,
Makes the heavy burden light,
Smooths rough ways to weary feet,
Makes the bitter morsel sweet:
Love alone is strength!

Might that is not born of Love
Is not Might born from above,
Has its birthplace down below
Where they neither reap nor sow:
Love alone is strength!

Love is stronger than all force,
Is its own eternal source;
Might is always in decay,
Love grows fresher every day:
Love alone is strength!

Little ones, no ill can chance;
Fear ye not, but sing and dance;
Though the high-heaved heaven should fall
God is plenty for us all:
God is Love and Strength!


When the snow is on the earth
Birds and waters cease their mirth;
When the sunlight is prevailing
Even the night-winds drop their wailing.

On the earth when deep snows lie
Still the sun is in the sky,
And when most we miss his fire
He is ever drawing nigher.

In the darkest winter day
Thou, God, art not far away;
When the nights grow colder, drearer,
Father, thou art coming nearer!

For thee coming I would watch
With my hand upon the latch--
Of the door, I mean, that faces
Out upon the eternal spaces!


With us there is no gray fearing,
With us no aching for lack!
For the morn it is always nearing,
And the night is at our back.
At times a song will fall dumb,
A thought-bell burst in a sigh,
But no one says, "He will not come!"
She says, "He is almost nigh!"

The thing you call a sorrow
Is our delight on its way:
We know that the coming morrow
Comes on the wheels of to-day!
Our Past is a child asleep;
Delay is ripening the kiss;
The rising tear we will not weep
Until it flow for bliss.


Trust him in the common light;
Trust him in the awesome night;

Trust him when the earth doth quake:
Trust him when thy heart doth ache;

Trust him when thy brain doth reel
And thy friend turns on his heel;

Trust him when the way is rough,
Cry not yet, _It is enough_!

But obey with true endeavour,
Else the salt hath lost his savour.


I would I were an angel strong,
An angel of the sun, hasting along!

I would I were just come awake,
A child outbursting from night's dusky brake!

Or lark whose inward, upward fate
Mocks every wall that masks the heavenly gate!

Or hopeful cock whose clarion clear
Shrills ten times ere a film of dawn appear!

Or but a glowworm: even then
My light would come straight from the Light of Men!

I am a dead seed, dark and slow:
Father of larks and children, make me grow.


When I am dead unto myself, and let,
O Father, thee live on in me,
Contented to do nought but pay my debt,
And leave the house to thee,

Then shall I be thy ransomed--from the cark
Of living, from the strain for breath,
From tossing in my coffin strait and dark,
At hourly strife with death!

Have mercy! in my coffin! and awake!
A buried temple of the Lord!
Grow, Temple, grow! Heart, from thy cerements break!
Stream out, O living Sword!

When I am with thee as thou art with me,
Life will be self-forgetting power;
Love, ever conscious, buoyant, clear, and free,
Will flame in darkest hour.

Where now I sit alone, unmoving, calm,
With windows open to thy wind,
Shall I not know thee in the radiant psalm
Soaring from heart and mind?

The body of this death will melt away,
And I shall know as I am known;
Know thee my father, every hour and day,
As thou know'st me thine own!


"My life is drear; walking I labour sore;
The heart in me is heavy as a stone;
And of my sorrows this the icy core:
Life is so wide, and I am all alone!"

Thou did'st walk so, with heaven-born eyes down bent
Upon the earth's gold-rosy, radiant clay,
That thou had'st seen no star in all God's tent
Had not thy tears made pools first on the way.

Ah, little knowest thou the tender care
In a love-plenteous cloak around thee thrown!
Full many a dim-seen, saving mountain-stair
Toiling thou climb'st--but not one step alone!

Lift but thy languid head and see thy guide;
Let thy steps go in his, nor choose thine own;
Then soon wilt thou, thine eyes with wonder wide,
Cry, _Now I know I never was alone_!



Came of old to houses lonely
Men with wings, but did not show them:
Angels come to our house, only,
For their wings, they do not know them!


'Tis we, not in thine arms, who weep and pray;
The children in thy bosom laugh and play.


Who know thee, love: thy life be such
That, ere the year be o'er,
Each one who loves thee now so much,
Even God, may love thee more!


Go not forth to call Dame Sorrow
From the dim fields of Tomorrow;
Let her roam there all unheeded,
She will come when she is needed;
Then, when she draws near thy door,
She will find God there before.


Lie, little cow, and chew thy cud,
The farmer soon will shift thy tether;
Chirp, linnet, on the frozen mud,
Sun and song will come together;
Wait, soul, for God, and thou shalt bud,
He waits thy waiting with his weather.


Lost the little one roams about,
Pathway or shelter none can find;
Blinking stars are coming out;
No one is moving but the wind;
It is no use to cry or shout,
All the world is still as a mouse;
One thing only eases her mind:
"Father knows I'm not in the house!"


When thy heart, love-filled, grows graver,
And eternal bliss looks nearer,
Ask thy heart, nor show it favour,
Is the gift or giver dearer?

Love, love on; love higher, deeper;
Let love's ocean close above her;
Only, love thou more love's keeper,
More, the love-creating lover.


An unborn bird lies crumpled and curled,
A-dreaming of the world.

Round it, for castle-wall, a shell
Is guarding it well.

_Hope_ is the bird with its dim sensations;
The shell that keeps it alive is _Patience_.


I took it for a bird of prey that soared
High over ocean, battled mount, and plain;
'Twas but a bird-moth, which with limp horns gored
The invisibly obstructing window-pane!

Better than eagle, with far-towering nerve
But downward bent, greedy, marauding eye,
Guest of the flowers, thou art: unhurt they serve
Thee, little angel of a lower sky!


The hinges are so rusty
The door is fixed and fast;
The windows are so dusty
The sun looks in aghast:
Knock out the glass, I pray,
Or dash the door away,
Or break the house down bodily,
And let my soul go free!


Imagination cannot rise above thee;
Near and afar I see thee, and I love thee;
My misery away from me I thrust it,
For thy perfection I behold, and trust it.


When, with all the loved around thee,
Still thy heart says, "I am lonely,"
It is well; the truth hath found thee:
Rest is with the Father only.


Oh how oft I wake and find
I have been forgetting thee!
I am never from thy mind:
Thou it is that wakest me.


Oh that men would praise the Lord
For his goodness unto men!
Forth he sends his saving word,
--Oh that men would praise the Lord!--
And from shades of death abhorred
Lifts them up to light again:
Oh that men would praise the Lord
For his goodness unto men!


Where the bud has never blown
Who for scent is debtor?
Where the spirit rests unknown
Fatal is the letter.

In thee, Jesus, Godhead-stored,
All things we inherit,
For thou art the very Word
And the very Spirit!


Graut Euch nicht, Ihr lieben Leute,
Vor dem ungeheuren Morgen;
Wenn es kommt, es ist das Heute,
Und der liebe Gott zu sorgen.


Thou art my thought, my heart, my being's fortune,
The search for thee my growth's first conscious date;
For nought, for everything, I thee importune;
Thou art my all, my origin and fate!


"Where is thy crown, O tree of Love?
Flowers only bears thy root!
Will never rain drop from above
Divine enough for fruit?"

"I dwell in hope that gives good cheer,
Twilight my darkest hour;
For seest thou not that every year
I break in better flower?"


God gives his child upon his slate a sum--
To find eternity in hours and years;
With both sides covered, back the child doth come,
His dim eyes swollen with shed and unshed tears;
God smiles, wipes clean the upper side and nether,
And says, "Now, dear, we'll do the sum together!"


O Father, I am in the dark,
My soul is heavy-bowed:
I send my prayer up like a lark,
Up through my vapoury shroud,
To find thee,
And remind thee
I am thy child, and thou my father,
Though round me death itself should gather.

Lay thy loved hand upon my head,
Let thy heart beat in mine;
One thought from thee, when all seems dead,
Will make the darkness shine
About me
And throughout me!
And should again the dull night gather,
I'll cry again, _Thou art my father_.


If in my arms I bore my child,
Would he cry out for fear
Because the night was dark and wild
And no one else was near?

Shall I then treat thee, Father, as
My fatherhood would grieve?
I will be hopeful, though, alas,
I cannot quite believe!

I had no power, no wish to be:
Thou madest me half blind!
The darkness comes! I cling to thee!
Be thou my perfect mind.




There breathes not a breath of the summer air
But the spirit of love is moving there;
Not a trembling leaf on the shadowy tree,
Flutters with hundreds in harmony,
But that spirit can part its tone from the rest,
And read the life in its beetle's breast.
When the sunshiny butterflies come and go,
Like flowers paying visits to and fro,
Not a single wave of their fanning wings
Is unfelt by the spirit that feeleth all things.
The long-mantled moths that sleep at noon
And rove in the light of the gentler moon;
And the myriad gnats that dance like a wall,
Or a moving column that will not fall;
And the dragon-flies that go burning by,
Shot like a glance from a seeking eye--
There is one being that loves them all:
Not a fly in a spider's web can fall
But he cares for the spider, and cares for the fly;
He cares for you, whether you laugh or cry,
Cares whether your mother smile or sigh.
How he cares for so many, I do not know,
But it would be too strange if he did not so--
Dreadful and dreary for even a fly:
So I cannot wait for the _how_ and _why_,
But believe that all things are gathered and nursed
In the love of him whose love went first
And made this world--like a huge great nest
For a hen to sit on with feathery breast.


The bird on the leafy tree,
The bird in the cloudy sky,
The hart in the forest free,
The stag on the mountain high,
The fish inside the sea,
The albatross asleep
On the outside of the deep,
The bee through the summer sunny
Hunting for wells of honey--
What is the thought in the breast
Of the little bird in its nest?
What is the thought in the songs
The lark in the sky prolongs?
What mean the dolphin's rays,
Winding his watery ways?
What is the thought of the stag,
Stately on yonder crag?
What does the albatross think,
Dreaming upon the brink
Of the mountain billow, and then
Dreaming down in its glen?
What is the thought of the bee
Fleeting so silently,
Or flitting--with busy hum,
But a careless go-and-come--
From flower-chalice to chalice,
Like a prince from palace to palace?
What makes them alive, so very--
Some of them, surely, merry.
And others so stately calm
They might be singing a psalm?

I cannot tell what they think---
Only know they eat and drink,
And on all that lies about
With a quiet heart look out,
Each after its kind, stately or coy,
Solemn like man, gamesome like boy,
Glad with its own mysterious joy.

And God, who knows their thoughts and ways
Though his the creatures do not know,
From his full heart fills each of theirs:
Into them all his breath doth go;
Good and better with them he shares;
Content with their bliss while they have no prayers,
He takes their joy for praise.

If thou wouldst be like him, little one, go
And be kind with a kindness undefiled;
Who gives for the pleasure of thanks, my child,
God's gladness cannot know.


Root met root in the spongy ground,
Searching each for food:
Each turned aside, and away it wound.
And each got something good.

Sound met sound in the wavy air--
That made a little to-do!
They jostled not long, but were quick and fair;
Each found its path and flew.

Drop dashed on drop, as the rain-shower fell;
They joined and sank below:
In gathered thousands they rose a well,
With a singing overflow.

Wind met wind in a garden green,
They began to push and fret:
A tearing whirlwind arose between:
There love lies bleeding yet.


Winter froze both brook and well;
Fast and fast the snowflakes fell;
Children gathered round the hearth
Made a summer of their mirth;
When a boy, so lately come
That his life was yet one sum
Of delights--of aimless rambles.
Romps and dreams and games and gambols,
Thought aloud: "I wish I knew
What makes summer--that I do!"
Father heard, and it did show him
How to write a little poem.

What makes summer, little one,
Do you ask? It is the sun.
Want of heat is all the harm,
Summer is but winter warm.
'Tis the sun--yes, that one there,
Dim and gray, low in the air!
Now he looks at us askance,
But will lift his countenance
Higher up, and look down straighter.
Rise much earlier, set much later,
Till we sing out, "Hail, Well-comer,
Thou hast brought our own old Summer!"

When the sun thus rises early
And keeps shining all day rarely,
Up he draws the larks to meet him,
Earth's bird-angels, wild to greet him;
Up he draws the clouds, and pours
Down again their shining showers;
Out he draws the grass and clover,
Daisies, buttercups all over;
Out he wiles all flowers to stare
At their father in the air--
He all light, they how much duller,
Yet son-suns of every colour!
Then he draws their odours out,
Sends them on the winds about.
Next he draws out flying things--
Out of eggs, fast-flapping wings;
Out of lumps like frozen snails,
Butterflies with splendid sails;
Draws the blossoms from the trees,
From their hives the buzzy bees,
Golden things from muddy cracks--
Beetles with their burnished backs;
Laughter draws he from the river
Gleaming back to the gleam-giver;
Light he sends to every nook
That no creature be forsook;
Draws from gloom and pain and sadness,
Hope and blessing, peace and gladness,
Making man's heart sing and shine
With his brilliancy divine:
Summer, thus it is he makes it,
And the little child he takes it.

Day's work done, adown the west
Lingering he goes to rest;
Like a child, who, blissful yet,
Is unwilling to forget,
And, though sleepy, heels and head,
Thinks he cannot go to bed.
Even when down behind the hill
Back his bright look shineth still,
Whose keen glory with the night
Makes the lovely gray twilight--
Drawing out the downy owl,
With his musical bird-howl;
Drawing out the leathery bats--
Mice they are, turned airy cats--
Noiseless, sly, and slippery things
Swimming through the air on wings;
Drawing out the feathery moth,
Lazy, drowsy, very loath;
Drawing children to the door
For one goodnight-frolic more;
Drawing from the glow-worms' tails
Glimmers green in grassy dales;
Making ocean's phosphor-flashes
Glow as if they were sun-ashes.

Then the moon comes up the hill,
Wide awake, but dreaming still,
Soft and slow, as if in fear
Lest her path should not be clear.
Like a timid lady she
Looks around her daintily,
Begs the clouds to come about her,
Tells the stars to shine without her,
Then unveils, and, bolder grown,
Climbs the steps of her blue throne:
Stately in a calm delight,
Mistress of a whole fair night,
Lonely but for stars a few,
There she sits in silence blue,
And the world before her lies
Faint, a round shade in the skies!

But what fun is all about
When the humans are shut out!
Shadowy to the moon, the earth
Is a very world of mirth!
Night is then a dream opaque
Full of creatures wide awake!
Noiseless then, on feet or wings,
Out they come, all moon-eyed things!
In and out they pop and play,
Have it all their own wild way,
Fly and frolic, scamper, glow;
Treat the moon, for all her show,
State, and opal diadem,
Like a nursemaid watching them.
And the nightingale doth snare
All the merry tumult rare,
All the music and the magic,
All the comic and the tragic,
All the wisdom and the riot
Of the midnight moonlight diet,
In a diamond hoop of song,
Which he trundles all night long.

What doth make the sun, you ask,
Able for such mighty task?
He is not a lamp hung high
Sliding up and down the sky,
He is carried in a hand:
That's what makes him strong and grand!
From that hand comes all his power;
If it set him down one hour,
Yea, one moment set him by,
In that moment he would die,
And the winter, ice, and snow
Come on us, and never go.

Need I tell you whose the hand
Bears him high o'er sea and land?


Beautiful mother is busy all day,
So busy she neither can sing nor say;
But lovely thoughts, in a ceaseless flow,
Through her eyes, and her ears, and her bosom go--
Motion, sight, and sound, and scent,
Weaving a royal, rich content.

When night is come, and her children sleep,
Beautiful mother her watch doth keep;
With glowing stars in her dusky hair
Down she sits to her music rare;
And her instrument that never fails,
Is the hearts and the throats of her nightingales.


Kiss me: there now, little Neddy,
Do you see her staring steady?
There again you had a chance of her!
Didn't you catch the pretty glance of her?
See her nest! On any planet
Never was a sweeter than it!
Never nest was such as this is:
Tis the nest of all the kisses,
With the mother kiss-bird sitting
All through Christmas, never flitting,
Kisses, kisses, kisses hatching,
Sweetest birdies, for the catching!
Oh, the precious little brood
Always in a loving mood!--
There's one under Mamy's hood!

There, that's one I caught this minute,
Musical as any linnet!
Where it is, your big eyes question,
With of doubt a wee suggestion?
There it is--upon mouth merry!
There it is--upon cheek cherry!
There's another on chin-chinnie!
Now it's off, and lights on Minnie!
There's another on nose-nosey!
There's another on lip-rosy!
And the kissy-bird is hatching
Hundreds more for only catching.

Why the mistletoe she chooses,
And the Christmas-tree refuses?
There's a puzzle for your mother?
I'll present you with another!
Tell me why, you question-asker,
Cruel, heartless mother-tasker--
Why, of all the trees before her,
Gathered round, or spreading o'er her,
Jenny Wren should choose the apple
For her nursery and chapel!
Or Jack Daw build in the steeple
High above the praying people!
Tell me why the limping plover
O'er moist meadow likes to hover;
Why the partridge with such trouble
Builds her nest where soon the stubble
Will betray her hop-thumb-cheepers
To the eyes of all the reapers!--
Tell me, Charley; tell me, Janey;
Answer all, or answer any,
And I'll tell you, with much pleasure,
Why this little bird of treasure
Nestles only in the mistletoe,
Never, never goes the thistle to.

Not an answer? Tell without it?
Yes--all that I know about it:--
Mistletoe, then, cannot flourish,
Cannot find the food to nourish
But on other plant when planted--
And for kissing two are wanted.
That is why the kissy-birdie
Looks about for oak-tree sturdy
And the plant that grows upon it
Like a wax-flower on a bonnet.

But, my blessed little mannie,
All the birdies are not cannie
That the kissy-birdie hatches!
Some are worthless little patches,
Which indeed if they don't smutch you,
'Tis they're dead before they touch you!
While for kisses vain and greedy,
Kisses flattering, kisses needy,
They are birds that never waddled
Out of eggs that only addled!
Some there are leave spots behind them,
On your cheek for years you'd find them:
Little ones, I do beseech you,
Never let such birdies reach you.

It depends what net you venture
What the sort of bird will enter!
I will tell you in a minute
What net takes kiss--lark or linnet--
Any bird indeed worth hatching
And just therefore worth the catching:
The one net that never misses
Catching at least some true kisses,
Is the heart that, loving truly,
Always loves the old love newly;
But to spread out would undo it--
Let the birdies fly into it.


Nobody knows the world but me.
The rest go to bed; I sit up and see.
I'm a better observer than any of you all,
For I never look out till the twilight fall,
And never then without green glasses,
And that is how my wisdom passes.

I never think, for that is not fit:
_I observe._ I have seen the white moon sit
On her nest, the sea, like a fluffy owl,
Hatching the boats and the long-legged fowl!
When the oysters gape--you may make a note--
She drops a pearl into every throat.

I can see the wind: can you do that?
I see the dreams he has in his hat,
I see him shaking them out as he goes,
I see them rush in at man's snoring nose.
Ten thousand things you could not think,
I can write down plain with pen and ink!

You know that I know; therefore pull off your hat,
Whether round and tall, or square and flat:
You cannot do better than trust in me;
You may shut your eyes in fact--_I_ see!
Lifelong I will lead you, and then, like the owl,
I will bury you nicely with my spade and showl.


I will sing a song,
Said the owl.
You sing a song, sing-song
Ugly fowl!
What will you sing about,
Night in and day out?

All about the night,
When the gray
With her cloak smothers bright,
Hard, sharp day.
Oh, the moon! the cool dew!
And the shadows!--tu-whoo!

I will sing a song,
Said the nightingale.
Sing a song, long, long,
Little Neverfail!
What will you sing about,
Day in or day out?

All about the light
Gone away,
Down, away, and out of sight:
Wake up, day!
For the master is not dead,
Only gone to bed.

I will sing a song,
Said the lark.
Sing, sing, Throat-strong,
Little Kill-the-dark!
What will you sing about,
Day in and night out?

I can only call!
I can't think!
Let me up, that's all!
I see a chink!
I've been thirsting all night
For the glorious light!



I have only one foot, but thousands of toes;
My one foot stands well, but never goes;
I've a good many arms, if you count them all,
But hundreds of fingers, large and small;
From the ends of my fingers my beauty grows;
I breathe with my hair, and I drink with my toes;
I grow bigger and bigger about the waist
Although I am always very tight laced;
None e'er saw me eat--I've no mouth to bite!
Yet I eat all day, and digest all night.
In the summer, with song I shake and quiver,
But in winter I fast and groan and shiver.


There is a plough that hath no share,
Only a coulter that parteth fair;
But the ridges they rise
To a terrible size
Or ever the coulter comes near to tear:
The horses and ridges fierce battle make;
The horses are safe, but the plough may break.

Seed cast in its furrows, or green or sear,
Will lift to the sun neither blade nor ear:
Down it drops plumb
Where no spring-times come,
Nor needeth it any harrowing gear;
Wheat nor poppy nor blade has been found
Able to grow on the naked ground.



Who is it that sleeps like a top all night,
And wakes in the morning so fresh and bright
That he breaks his bed as he gets up,
And leaves it smashed like a china cup?


I've a very long nose, but what of that?
It is not too long to lie on a mat!

Book of the day: