Part 6 out of 9
But now they say--neither above the sphere
Nor down in the heart of man,
But solely in fancy, ambition, and fear
The thought of thee began.
If only that perfect tale were true
Which ages have not made old,
Which of endless many makes one anew,
And simplicity manifold!
But _he_ taught that they who did his word
The truth of it sure would know:
I will try to do it: if he be lord
Again the old faith will glow;
Again the old spirit-wind will blow
That he promised to their prayer;
And obeying the Son, I too shall know
His father everywhere!
O Mother Earth, I have a fear
Which I would tell to thee--
Softly and gently in thine ear
When the moon and we are three.
Thy grass and flowers are beautiful;
Among thy trees I hide;
And underneath the moonlight cool
Thy sea looks broad and wide;
But this I fear--lest thou shouldst grow
To me so small and strange,
So distant I should never know
On thee a shade of change,
Although great earthquakes should uplift
Deep mountains from their base,
And thy continual motion shift
The lands upon thy face;--
The grass, the flowers, the dews that lie
Upon them as before--
Driven upwards evermore, lest I
Should love these things no more.
Even now thou dimly hast a place
In deep star galaxies!
And I, driven ever on through space,
Have lost thee in the skies!
_THE LOST HOUSE_.
Out of thy door I run to do the thing
That calls upon me. Straight the wind of words
Whoops from mine ears the sounds of them that sing
About their work, "My God, my father-king!"
I turn in haste to see thy blessed door,
But, lo, a cloud of flies and bats and birds,
And stalking vapours, and vague monster-herds
Have risen and lighted, rushed and swollen between!
Ah me! the house of peace is there no more.
Was it a dream then?--Walls, fireside, and floor,
And sweet obedience, loving, calm, and free,
Are vanished--gone as they had never been!
I labour groaning. Comes a sudden sheen!--
And I am kneeling at my father's knee,
Sighing with joy, and hoping utterly.
_THE TALK OF THE ECHOES_.
When the cock crows loud from the glen,
And the moor-cock chirrs from the heather,
What hear ye and see ye then,
Ye children of air and ether?
A thunder as of waves at the rising of the moon,
And a darkness on the graves though the day is at its noon.
_2nd Echo_. A springing as of grass though the air is damp and chill,
And a glimmer from the river that winds about the hill.
_1st Echo_. A lapse of crags that leant from the mountain's earthen
And a shock of ruin sent on the river underneath.
_2nd Echo_. A sound as of a building that groweth fair and good,
And a piping of the thrushes from the hollow of the wood.
_1st Echo_. A wailing as of lambs that have wandered from the flock,
And a bleating of their dams that was answered from the rock.
_2nd Echo_. A breathing as of cattle in the shadow where they dream,
And a sound of children playing with the pebbles in the stream.
_1st Echo_. A driving as of clouds in the kingdom of the air,
And a tumult as of crowds that mingle everywhere.
_2nd Echo_. A waving of the grass, and a passing o'er the lakes,
And a shred of tempest-cloud in the glory when it breaks.
In God alone, the perfect end,
Wilt thou find thyself or friend.
They come to thee, the halt, the maimed, the blind,
The devil-torn, the sick, the sore;
Thy heart their well of life they find,
Thine ear their open door.
Ah, who can tell the joy in Palestine--
What smiles and tears of rescued throngs!
Their lees of life were turned to wine,
Their prayers to shouts and songs!
The story dear our wise men fable call,
Give paltry facts the mighty range;
To me it seems just what should fall,
And nothing very strange.
But were I deaf and lame and blind and sore,
I scarce would care for cure to ask;
Another prayer should haunt thy door--
Set thee a harder task.
If thou art Christ, see here this heart of mine,
Torn, empty, moaning, and unblest!
Had ever heart more need of thine,
If thine indeed hath rest?
Thy word, thy hand right soon did scare the bane
That in their bodies death did breed;
If thou canst cure my deeper pain
Then art thou lord indeed.
_OH THAT A WIND_.
Oh that a wind would call
From the depths of the leafless wood!
Oh that a voice would fall
On the ear of my solitude!
Far away is the sea,
With its sound and its spirit tone;
Over it white clouds flee;
But I am alone, alone.
Straight and steady and tall
The trees stand on their feet;
Fast by the old stone wall
The moss grows green and sweet;
But my heart is full of fears,
For the sun shines far away;
And they look in my face through tears,
And the light of a dying day.
My heart was glad last night
As I pressed it with my palm;
Its throb was airy and light
As it sang some spirit psalm;
But it died away in my breast
As I wandered forth to-day,--
As a bird sat dead on its nest,
While others sang on the spray.
O weary heart of mine,
Is there ever a Truth for thee?
Will ever a sun outshine
But the sun that shines on me?
Away, away through the air
The clouds and the leaves are blown;
And my heart hath need of prayer,
For it sitteth alone, alone.
_A VISION OF ST. ELIGIUS_.
I see thy house, but I am blown about,
A wind-mocked kite, between the earth and sky,
All out of doors--alas! of thy doors out,
And drenched in dews no summer suns can dry.
For every blast is passion of my own;
The dews cold sweats of selfish agony;
Dank vapour steams from memories lying prone;
And all my soul is but a stifled cry.
Lord, thou dost hold my string, else were I driven
Down to some gulf where I were tossed no more,
No turmoil telling I was not in heaven,
No billows raving on a blessed shore.
Thou standest on thy door-sill, calm as day,
And all my throbs and pangs are pulls from thee;
Hold fast the string, lest I should break away
And outer dark and silence swallow me.
No longer fly thy kite, Lord; draw me home.
Thou pull'st the string through all the distance bleak;
Lord, I am nearing thee; O Lord, I come;
Thy pulls grow stronger and the wind grows weak.
In thy remodelling hands thou tak'st thy kite;
A moment to thy bosom hold'st me fast.
Thou flingest me abroad:--lo, in thy might
A strong-winged bird I soar on every blast!
_OF THE SON OF MAN_.
I. I honour Nature, holding it unjust
To look with jealousy on her designs;
With every passing year more fast she twines
About my heart; with her mysterious dust
Claim I a fellowship not less august
Although she works before me and combines
Her changing forms, wherever the sun shines
Spreading a leafy volume on the crust
Of the old world; and man himself likewise
Is of her making: wherefore then divorce
What God hath joined thus, and rend by force
Spirit away from substance, bursting ties
By which in one great bond of unity
God hath together bound all things that be?
II. And in these lines my purpose is to show
That He who left the Father, though he came
Not with art-splendour or the earthly flame
Of genius, yet in that he did bestow
His own true loving heart, did cause to grow,
Unseen and buried deep, whate'er we name
The best in human art, without the shame
Of idle sitting in most real woe;
And that whate'er of Beautiful and Grand
The Earth contains, by him was not despised,
But rather was so deeply realized
In word and deed, though not with artist hand,
That it was either hid or all disguised
From those who were not wise to understand.
III. Art is the bond of weakness, and we find
Therein acknowledgment of failing power:
A man would worship, gazing on a flower--
Onward he passeth, lo his eyes are blind!
The unenlivened form he left behind
Grew up within him only for an hour!
And he will grapple with Nature till the dower
Of strength shall be retreasured in his mind.
And each form-record is a high protest
Of treason done unto the soul of man,
Which, striving upwards, ever is oppress'd
By the old bondage, underneath whose ban
He, failing in his struggle for the best,
Must live in pain upon what food he can.
IV. Moreover, were there perfect harmony
'Twixt soul and Nature, we should never waste
The precious hours in gazing, but should haste
To assimilate her offerings, and we
From high life-elements, as doth the tree,
Should grow to higher; so what we call Taste
Is a slow living as of roots encased
In the grim chinks of some sterility
Both cramping and withholding. Art is Truth,
But Truth dammed up and frozen, gagged and bound
As is a streamlet icy and uncouth
Which pebbles hath and channel but no sound:
Give it again its summer heart of youth
And it will be a life upon the ground.
V. And Love had not been prisoned in cold stone,
Nor Beauty smeared on the dead canvas so,
Had not their worshipper been forced to go
Questful and restless through the world alone,
Searching but finding not, till on him shone
Back from his own deep heart a chilly glow
As of a frost-nipped sunbeam, or of snow
Under a storm-dodged crescent which hath grown
Wasted to mockery; and beneath such gleam
His wan conceits have found an utterance,
Which, had they found a true and sunny beam,
Had ripened into real touch and glance--
Nay more, to real deed, the Truth of all,
To some perfection high and personal.
VI. "But yet the great of soul have ever been
The first to glory in all works of art;
For from the genius-form would ever dart
A light of inspiration, and a sheen
As of new comings; and ourselves have seen
Men of stern purpose to whose eyes would start
Sorrow at sight of sorrow though no heart
Did riot underneath that chilly, screen;
And hence we judge such utterance native to
The human soul--expression highest--best."
--Nay, it is by such sign they will pursue,
Albeit unknowing, Beauty, without rest;
And failing in the search, themselves will fling
Speechless before its shadow, worshipping.
VII. And how shall he whose mission is to bring
The soul to worship at its rightful shrine,
Seeing in Beauty what is most divine,
Give out the mightiest impulse, and thus fling
His soul into the future, scattering
The living seed of wisdom? Shall there shine
From underneath his hand a matchless line
Of high earth-beauties, till the wide world ring
With the far clang that tells a missioned soul,
Kneeling to homage all about his feet?
Alas for such a gift were this the whole,
The only bread of life men had to eat!
Lo, I behold them dead about him now,
And him the heart of death, for all that brow!
VIII. If _Thou_ didst pass by Art, thou didst not scorn
The souls that by such symbol yearned in vain
From Truth and Love true nourishment to gain:
On thy warm breast, so chilly and forlorn
Fell these thy nurslings little more than born
That thou wast anguished, and there fell a rain
From thy blest eyelids, and in grief and pain
Thou partedst from them yet one night and morn
To find them wholesome food and nourishment
Instead of what their blindness took for such,
Laying thyself a seed in earthen rent
From which, outspringing to the willing touch,
Riseth for all thy children harvest great,
For which they will all learn to bless thee yet.
IV. Thou sawest Beauty in the streaking cloud
When grief lift up those eyelids; nor in scorn
Broke ever on thine eyes the purple morn
Along the cedar tops; to thee aloud
Spake the night-solitude, when hushed and bowed
The earth lay at thy feet stony and worn;
Loving thou markedst when the lamb unshorn
Was glad before thee, and amongst the crowd
Famished and pent in cities did thine eye
Read strangest glory--though in human art
No record lives to tell us that thy heart
Bowed to its own deep beauty: deeper did lie
The burden of thy mission, even whereby
We know that Beauty liveth where Thou art.
X. Doubtless thine eyes have watched the sun aspire
From that same Olivet, when back on thee
Flushed upwards after some night-agony
Thy proper Godhead, with a purer fire
Purpling thy Infinite, and in strong desire
Thou sattest in the dawn that was to be
Uplifted on our dark perplexity.
Yea in thee lay thy soul, a living lyre,
And each wild beauty smote it, though the sound
Rung to the night-winds oft and desert air;
Beneath thine eyes the lily paled more fair,
And each still shadow slanting on the ground
Lay sweetly on thee as commissioned there,
So full wast thou of eyes all round and round.
XI. And so thou neededst not our human skill
To fix what thus were transient--there it grew
Wedded to thy perfection; and anew
With every coming vision rose there still
Some living principle which did fulfil
Thy most legitimate manhood; and unto
Thy soul all Nature rendered up its due
With not a contradiction; and each hill
And mountain torrent and each wandering light
Grew out divinely on thy countenance,
Whereon, as we are told, by word and glance
Thy hearers read an ever strange delight--So
strange to them thy Truth, they could not tell
What made thy message so unspeakable.
XII. And by such living witness didst thou preach:
Not with blind hands of groping forward thrust
Into the darkness, gathering only dust,
But by this real sign--that thou didst reach,
In natural order, rising each from each,
Thy own ideals of the True and Just;
And that as thou didst live, even so he must
Who would aspire his fellow-men to teach,
Looking perpetual from new heights of Thought
On his old self. Of art no scorner thou!
Instead of leafy chaplet, on thy brow
Wearing the light of manhood, thou hast brought
Death unto Life! Above all statues now,
Immortal Artist, hail! thy work is wrought!
XIII. Solemn and icy stand ye in my eyes,
Far up into the niches of the Past,
Ye marble statues, dim and holden fast
Within your stony homes! nor human cries
Had shook you from your frozen phantasies
Or sent the life-blood through you, till there passed
Through all your chilly bulks a new life-blast
From the Eternal Living, and ye rise
From out your stiffened postures rosy-warm,
Walking abroad a goodly company
Of living virtues at that wondrous charm,
As he with human heart and hand and eye
Walked sorrowing upon our highways then,
The Eternal Father's living gift to men!
XIV. As the pent torrent in uneasy rest
Under the griping rocks, doth ever keep
A monstrous working as it lies asleep
In the round hollow of some mountain's breast,
Till where it hideth in its sweltering nest
Some earthquake finds it, and its waters leap
Forth to the sunshine down the mighty steep,
So in thee once was anguished forth the quest
Whereby man sought for life-power as he lay
Under his own proud heart and black despair
Wedged fast and stifled up with loads of care,
Yet at dumb struggle with the tyrant clay;
Thou wentest down below the roots of prayer,
And he hath cried aloud since that same day!
XV. As he that parts in hatred from a friend
Mixing with other men forgets the woe
Which anguished him when he beheld and lo
Two souls had fled asunder which did bend
Under the same blue heaven! yet ere the end,
When the loud world hath tossed him to and fro,
Will often strangely reappear that glow
At simplest memory which some chance may send,
Although much stronger bonds have lost their power:
So thou God-sent didst come in lowly guise,
Striking on simple chords,--not with surprise
Or mightiest recollectings in that hour,
But like remembered fragrance of a flower
A man with human heart and loving eyes.
Job xiv. 13-15.
Would that thou hid me in the grave
And kept me with death's gaoler-care;
Until thy wrath away should wear
A sentence fixed thy prisoner gave!
I would endure with patience brave
So thou remembered I was there!
Would that thou hid me in the grave,
And kept me with death's gaoler-care!
To see thy creature thou wouldst crave--
Desire thy handiwork so fair;
Then wouldst thou call through death's dank air
And I would answer from the cave!
Would that thou hid me in the grave,
And kept me with death's gaoler-care!
_WORDS IN THE NIGHT_.
I woke at midnight, and my heart,
My beating heart, said this to me:
Thou seest the moon, how calm and bright!
The world is fair by day and night,
But what is that to thee?
One touch to me, down dips the light
Over the land and sea.
All is mine, all is my own!
Toss the purple fountain high!
The breast of man is a vat of stone;
I am alive, I, only I!
One little touch and all is dark--
The winter with its sparkling moons,
The spring with all her violets,
The crimson dawns and rich sunsets,
The autumn's yellowing noons!
I only toss my purple jets,
And thou art one that swoons
Upon a night of gust and roar,
Shipwrecked among the waves, and seems
Across the purple hills to roam:
Sweet odours touch him from the foam,
And downward sinking still he dreams
He walks the clover fields at home
And hears the rattling teams.
All is mine, all is my own!
Toss the purple fountain high!
The breast of man is a vat of stone;
I am alive, I, only I!
Thou hast beheld a throated fountain spout
Full in the air, and in the downward spray
A hovering Iris span the marble tank,
Which, as the wind came, ever rose and sank,
Violet and red; so my continual play
Makes beauty for the Gods with many a prank
Of human excellence, while they,
Weary of all the noon, in shadows sweet,
Supine and heavy-eyed rest in the boundless heat.
Let the world's fountain play!
Beauty is pleasant in the eyes of Jove;
Betwixt the wavering shadows where he lies
He marks the dancing column with his eyes
Celestial, and amid his inmost grove
Upgathers all his limbs, serenely blest,
Lulled by the mellow noise of the great world's unrest.
One heart beats in all nature, differing
But in the work it works; its doubts and clamours
Are but the waste and brunt of instruments
Wherewith a work is done, or as the hammers
On forge Cyclopean plied beneath the rents
Of lowest Etna, conquering into shape
The hard and scattered ore;
Choose thou narcotics, and the dizzy grape
Outworking passion, lest with horrid crash
Thy life go from thee in a night of pain;
So tutoring thy vision, shall the flash
Of dove white-breasted be to thee no more
Than a white stone heavy upon the plain.
Hark, the cock crows loud!
And without, all ghastly and ill,
Like a man uplift in his shroud,
The white, white morn is propped on the hill;
And adown from the eaves, pointed and chill
The icicles 'gin to glitter
And the birds with a warble short and shrill
Pass by the chamber-window still--
With a quick, uneasy twitter!
Let me pump warm blood, for the cold is bitter;
And wearily, wearily, one by one,
Men awake with the weary sun!
Life is a phantom shut in thee:
I am the master and keep the key;
So let me toss thee the days of old
Crimson and orange and green and gold;
So let me fill thee yet again
With a rush of dreams from my spout amain;
For all is mine, all is my own:
Toss the purple fountain high!
The breast of man is a vat of stone,
And I am alive, I only, I!
_CONSIDER THE RAVENS_
Lord, according to thy words,
I have considered thy birds;
And I find their life good,
And better the better understood:
Sowing neither corn nor wheat
They have all that they can eat;
Reaping no more than they sow
They have more than they could stow;
Having neither barn nor store,
Hungry again, they eat more.
Considering, I see too that they
Have a busy life, and plenty of play;
In the earth they dig their bills deep
And work well though they do not heap;
Then to play in the air they are not loath,
And their nests between are better than both.
But this is when there blow no storms,
When berries are plenty in winter, and worms,
When feathers are rife, with oil enough--
To keep the cold out and send the rain off;
If there come, indeed, a long hard frost
Then it looks as thy birds were lost.
But I consider further, and find
A hungry bird has a free mind;
He is hungry to-day, not to-morrow,
Steals no comfort, no grief doth borrow;
This moment is his, thy will hath said it,
The next is nothing till thou hast made it.
Thy bird has pain, but has no fear
Which is the worst of any gear;
When cold and hunger and harm betide him,
He does not take them and stuff inside him;
Content with the day's ill he has got,
He waits just, nor haggles with his lot:
Neither jumbles God's will
With driblets from his own still.
But next I see, in my endeavour,
Thy birds here do not live for ever;
That cold or hunger, sickness or age
Finishes their earthly stage;
The rooks drop in cold nights,
Leaving all their wrongs and rights;
Birds lie here and birds lie there
With their feathers all astare;
And in thy own sermon, thou
That the sparrow falls dost allow.
It shall not cause me any alarm,
For neither so comes the bird to harm
Seeing our father, thou hast said,
Is by the sparrow's dying bed;
Therefore it is a blessed place,
And the sparrow in high grace.
It cometh therefore to this, Lord:
I have considered thy word,
And henceforth will be thy bird.
_THE WIND OF THE WORLD_.
Chained is the Spring. The Night-wind bold
Blows over the hard earth;
Time is not more confused and cold,
Nor keeps more wintry mirth.
Yet blow, and roll the world about--
Blow, Time, blow, winter's Wind!
Through chinks of time heaven peepeth out,
And Spring the frost behind.
Oh holy Sabbath bells,
Ye have a pleasant voice!
Through all the land your music swells,
And man with one commandment tells
To rest and to rejoice.
As birds rejoice to flee
From dark and stormy skies
To brighter lands beyond the sea
Where skies are calm, and wings are free
To wander and to rise;
As thirsty travellers sing,
Through desert paths that pass,
To hear the welcome waters spring,
And see, beyond the spray they fling
Tall trees and waving grass;
So we rejoice to know
Your melody begun;
For when our paths are parched below
Ye tell us where green pastures glow
And living waters run.
LONDON, _December_ 15, 1840.
Here is a temple strangely wrought:
Within it I can see
Two spirits of a diverse thought
Contend for mastery.
One is an angel fair and bright,
Adown the aisle comes he,
Adown the aisle in raiment white,
A creature fair to see.
The other wears an evil mien,
And he hath doubtless slipt,
A fearful being dark and lean,
Up from the mouldy crypt.
* * * * *
Is that the roof that grows so black?
Did some one call my name?
Was it the bursting thunder crack
That filled this place with flame?
I move--I wake from out my sleep:
Some one hath victor been!
I see two radiant pinions sweep,
And I am borne between.
Beneath the clouds that under roll
An upturned face I see--
A dead man's face, but, ah, the soul
Was right well known to me!
A man's dead face! Away I haste
Through regions calm and fair:
Go vanquish sin, and thou shall taste
The same celestial air.
_AFTER THE FASHION OF AN OLD EMBLEM._
I have long enough been working down in my cellar,
Working spade and pick, boring-chisel and drill;
I long for wider spaces, airy, clear-dark, and stellar:
Successless labour never the love of it did fill.
More profit surely lies in a holy, pure quiescence,
In a setting forth of cups to catch the heavenly rain,
In a yielding of the being to the ever waiting presence,
In a lifting of the eyes upward, homeward again!
Up to my garret, its storm-windows and skylights!
There I'll lay me on the floor, and patient let the sun,
The moon and the stars, the blueness and the twilights
Do what their pleasure is, and wait till they have done.
But, lo, I hear a waving on the roof of great pinions!
'Tis the labour of a windmill, broad-spreading to the wind!
Lo, down there goes a. shaft through all the house-dominions!
I trace it to a cellar, whose door I cannot find.
But there I hear ever a keen diamond-drill in motion,
Now fast and now slow as the wind sits in the sails,
Drilling and boring to the far eternal ocean,
The living well of all wells whose water never fails.
So now I go no more to the cellar to my labour,
But up to my garret where those arms are ever going;
There the sky is ever o'er me, and the wind my blessed neighbour,
And the prayer-handle ready turns the sails to its blowing.
Blow, blow, my blessed wind; oh, keep ever blowing!
Keep the great windmill going full and free;
So shall the diamond-drill down below keep going
Till in burst the waters of God's eternal sea.
_A PRAYER IN SICKNESS._
Thou foldest me in sickness;
Thou callest through the cloud;
I batter with the thickness
Of the swathing, blinding shroud:
Oh, let me see thy face,
The only perfect grace
That thou canst show thy child.
0 father, being-giver,
Take off the sickness-cloud;
Saviour, my life deliver
From this dull body-shroud:
Till I can see thy face
I am not full of grace,
I am not reconciled.
Quiet, quiet dead,
Have ye aught to say
From your hidden bed
In the earthy clay?
Fathers, children, mothers,
Ye are very quiet;
Can ye shout, my brothers?
I would know you by it!
Have ye any words
That are like to ours?
Have ye any birds?
Have ye any flowers?
Could ye rise a minute
When the sun is warm?
I would know you in it,
I would take no harm.
I am half afraid
In the ghostly night;
If ye all obeyed
I should fear you quite.
But when day is breaking
In the purple east
I would meet you waking--
One of you at least--
When the sun is tipping
Every stony block,
And the sun is slipping
Down the weathercock.
Quiet, quiet dead,
I will not perplex you;
What my tongue hath said
Haply it may vex you!
Yet I hear you speaking
With a quiet speech,
As if ye were seeking
Better things to teach:
"Wait a little longer,
Suffer and endure
Till your heart is stronger
And your eyes are pure--
A little longer, brother,
With your fellow-men:
We will meet each other
_LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE._
Sometimes, O Lord, thou lightest in my head
A lamp that well might pharos all the lands;
Anon the light will neither rise nor spread:
Shrouded in danger gray the beacon stands!
A pharos? Oh dull brain! poor dying lamp
Under a bushel with an earthy smell!
Mouldering it stands, in rust and eating damp,
While the slow oil keeps oozing from its cell!
For me it were enough to be a flower
Knowing its root in thee, the Living, hid,
Ordained to blossom at the appointed hour,
And wake or sleep as thou, my Nature, bid;
But hear my brethren in their darkling fright!
Hearten my lamp that it may shine abroad
Then will they cry--Lo, there is something bright!
Who kindled it if not the shining God?
When the heart is a cup
In the body low lying,
And wine, drop by drop
Falls into that cup
From somewhere high up,
It is good to be dying
With the heart for a cup
In the body low lying.
_THE SOULS' RISING._
See how the storm of life ascends
Up through the shadow of the world!
Beyond our gaze the line extends,
Like wreaths of vapour tempest-hurled!
Grasp tighter, brother, lest the storm
Should sweep us down from where we stand,
And we may catch some human form
We know, amongst the straining band.
See! see in yonder misty cloud
One whirlwind sweep, and we shall hear
The voice that waxes yet more loud
And louder still approaching near!
Tremble not, brother, fear not thou,
For yonder wild and mystic strain
Will bring before us strangely now
The visions of our youth again!
Listen! oh listen!
See how its eyeballs roll and glisten
With a wild and fearful stare
Upwards through the shining air,
Or backwards with averted look,
As a child were gazing at a book
Full of tales of fear and dread,
When the thick night-wind came hollow and dead.
Round about it, wavering and light.
As the moths flock round a candle at night,
A crowd of phantoms sheeted and dumb
Strain to its words as they shrilly come:
Brother, my brother, dost thou hear?
They pierce through the tumult sharp and clear!
"The rush of speed is on my soul,
My eyes are blind with things I see;
I cannot grasp the awful whole,
I cannot gird the mystery!
The mountains sweep like mist away;
The great sea shakes like flakes of fire;
The rush of things I cannot see
Is mounting upward higher and higher!
Oh! life was still and full of calm
In yonder spot of earthly ground,
But now it rolls a thunder-psalm,
Its voices drown my ear in sound!
Would God I were a child again
To nurse the seeds of faith and power;
I might have clasped in wisdom then
A wing to beat this awful hour!
The dullest things would take my marks--
_They_ took my marks like drifted snow--
God! how the footsteps rise in sparks,
Rise like myself and onward go!
Have pity, O ye driving things
That once like me had human form!
For I am driven for lack of wings
A shreddy cloud before the storm!"
How its words went through me then,
Like a long forgotten pang,
Till the storm's embrace again
Swept it far with sudden clang!--
Ah, methinks I see it still!
Let us follow it, my brother,
Keeping close to one another,
Blessing God for might of will!
Closer, closer, side by side!
Ours are wings that deftly glide
Upwards, downwards, and crosswise
Flashing past our ears and eyes,
Splitting up the comet-tracks
With a whirlwind at our backs!
How the sky is blackening!
Yet the race is never slackening;
Swift, continual, and strong,
Streams the torrent slope along,
Like a tidal surge of faces
Molten into one despair;
Each the other now displaces,
A continual whirl of spaces;
Ah, my fainting eyesight reels
As I strive in vain to stare
On a thousand turning wheels
Dimly in the gloom descending,
Faces with each other blending!--
Let us beat the vapours back,
We are yet upon his track.
Didst thou see a spirit halt
Upright on a cloudy peak,
As the lightning's horrid fault
Smote a gash into the cheek
Of the grinning thunder-cloud
Which doth still besiege and crowd
Upward from the nether pits
Where the monster Chaos sits,
Building o'er the fleeing rack
Roofs of thunder long and black?
Yes, I see it! I will shout
Till I stop the horrid rout.
Ho, ho! spirit-phantom, tell
Is thy path to heaven or hell?
We would hear thee yet again,
What thy standing amongst men,
What thy former history,
And thy hope of things to be!
Wisdom still we gain from hearing:
We would know, we would know
Whither thou art steering--
Unto weal or woe!
Ah, I cannot hear it speaking!
Yet it seems as it were seeking
Through our eyes our souls to reach
With a quaint mysterious speech,
As with stretched and crossing palms
One were tracing diagrams
On the ebbing of the beach,
Till with wild unmeasured dance
All the tiptoe waves advance,
Seize him by the shoulder, cover,
Turn him up and toss him over:
He is vanished from our sight,
Nothing mars the quiet night
Save a speck of gloom afar
Like the ruin of a star!
Brother, streams it ever so,
Such a torrent tide of woe?
Ah, I know not; let us haste
Upwards from this dreary waste,
Up to where like music flowing
Gentler feet are ever going,
Streams of life encircling run
Round about the spirit-sun!
Up beyond the storm and rush
With our lesson let us rise!
Lo, the morning's golden flush
Meets us midway in the skies!
Perished all the dream and strife!
Death is swallowed up of Life!
The stars are all watching;
God's angel is catching
At thy skirts in the darkness deep!
Gold hinges grating,
The mighty dead waiting,
Why dost thou sleep?
Years without number,
Ages of slumber,
Stiff in the track of the infinite One!
Dead, can I think it?
Dropt like a trinket,
A thing whose uses are done!
White wings are crossing,
Glad waves are tossing,
The earth flames out in crimson and green
Spring is appearing,
Summer is nearing--
Where hast thou been?
Down in some cavern,
Death's sleepy tavern,
Housing, carousing with spectres of night?
There is my right hand!
Grasp it full tight and
Spring to the light.
Wonder, oh, wonder!
How the life-thunder
Bursts on his ear in horror and dread!
Happy shapes meet him;
Heaven and earth greet him:
Life from the dead!
_TO AN AUTOGRAPH-HUNTER_.
Seek not my name--it doth no virtue bear;
Seek, seek thine own primeval name to find--
The name God called when thy ideal fair
Arose in deeps of the eternal mind.
When that thou findest, thou art straight a lord
Of time and space--art heir of all things grown;
And not my name, poor, earthly label-word,
But I myself thenceforward am thine own.
Thou hearest not? Or hearest as a man
Who hears the muttering of a foolish spell?
My very shadow would feel strange and wan
In thy abode:--I say _No_, and _Farewell_.
Thou understandest? Then it is enough;
No shadow-deputy shall mock my friend;
We walk the same path, over smooth and rough,
To meet ere long at the unending end.
_WITH A COPY OF "IN MEMORIAM."_
TO E.M. II.
Dear friend, you love the poet's song,
And here is one for your regard.
You know the "melancholy bard,"
Whose grief is wise as well as strong;
Already something understand
For whom he mourns and what he sings,
And how he wakes with golden strings
The echoes of "the silent land;"
How, restless, faint, and worn with grief,
Yet loving all and hoping all,
He gazes where the shadows fall,
And finds in darkness some relief;
And how he sends his cries across,
His cries for him that comes no more,
Till one might think that silent shore
Full of the burden of his loss;
And how there comes sublimer cheer--
Not darkness solacing sad eyes,
Not the wild joy of mournful cries,
But light that makes his spirit clear;
How, while he gazes, something high,
Something of Heaven has fallen on him,
His distance and his future dim
Broken into a dawning sky!
Something of this, dear friend, you know;
And will you take the book from me
That holds this mournful melody,
And softens grief to sadness so?
Perhaps it scarcely suits the day
Of joyful hopes and memories clear,
When love should have no thought of fear,
And only smiles be round your way;
Yet from the mystery and the gloom,
From tempted faith and conquering trust,
From spirit stronger than the dust,
And love that looks beyond the tomb,
What can there be but good to win,
But hope for life, but love for all,
But strength whatever may befall?--
So for the year that you begin,
For all the years that follow this
While a long happy life endures,
This hope, this love, this strength be yours,
And afterwards a larger bliss!
May nothing in this mournful song
Too much take off your thoughts from time,
For joy should fill your vernal prime,
And peace your summer mild and long.
And may his love who can restore
All losses, give all new good things,
Like loving eyes and sheltering wings
Be round us all for evermore!
_THEY ARE BLIND_.
They are blind, and they are dead:
We will wake them as we go;
There are words have not been said,
There are sounds they do not know:
We will pipe and we will sing--
With the Music and the Spring
Set their hearts a wondering!
They are tired of what is old,
We will give it voices new;
For the half hath not been told
Of the Beautiful and True.
Drowsy eyelids shut and sleeping!
Heavy eyes oppressed with weeping!
Flashes through the lashes leaping!
Ye that have a pleasant voice,
Hither come without delay;
Ye will never have a choice
Like to that ye have to-day:
Round the wide world we will go,
Singing through the frost and snow
Till the daisies are in blow.
Ye that cannot pipe or sing,
Ye must also come with speed;
Ye must come, and with you bring
Weighty word and weightier deed--
Helping hands and loving eyes!
These will make them truly wise--
Then will be our Paradise.
_March 27, 1852._
_WHEN THE STORM WAS PROUDEST_.
When the storm was proudest,
And the wind was loudest,
I heard the hollow caverns drinking down below;
When the stars were bright,
And the ground was white,
I heard the grasses springing underneath the snow.
Many voices spake--
The river to the lake,
And the iron-ribbed sky was talking to the sea;
And every starry spark
Made music with the dark,
And said how bright and beautiful everything must be.
When the sun was setting,
All the clouds were getting
Beautiful and silvery in the rising moon;
Beneath the leafless trees
Wrangling in the breeze,
I could hardly see them for the leaves of June.
When the day had ended,
And the night descended,
I heard the sound of streams that I heard not through the day,
And every peak afar
Was ready for a star,
And they climbed and rolled around until the morning gray.
Then slumber soft and holy
Came down upon me slowly,
And I went I know not whither, and I lived I know not how;
My glory had been banished,
For when I woke it vanished;
But I waited on its coming, and I am waiting now.
"Which of you, knight or squire, will dare
Plunge into yonder gulf?
A golden beaker I fling in it--there!
The black mouth swallows it like a wolf!
Who brings me the cup again, whoever,
It is his own--he may keep it for ever!"
'Tis the king who speaks. He flings from the brow
Of the cliff, that, rugged and steep,
Hangs out o'er the endless sea below,
The cup in the whirlpool's howling heap:--
"Again I ask, what hero will follow,
What hero plunge into yon dark hollow?"
The knights and the squires the king about
Hear, and dumbly stare
Into the wild sea's tumbling rout;
To win the beaker they hardly care!
The king, for the third time, round him glaring--
"Not one soul of you has the daring?"
Speechless all, as before, they stand.
Then a squire, young, gentle, gay,
Steps from his comrades' shrinking band,
Flinging his girdle and cloak away;
And all the women and men that surrounded
Gazed on the noble youth, astounded.
And when he stepped to the rock's rough brow
And looked down on the gulf so black,
The waters which it had swallowed, now
Charybdis bellowing rendered back;
And, with a roar as of distant thunder,
Foaming they burst from the dark lap under.
It wallows, seethes, hisses in raging rout,
As when water wrestles with fire,
Till to heaven the yeasty tongues they spout;
And flood upon flood keeps mounting higher:
It will never its endless coil unravel,
As the sea with another sea were in travail!
But, at last, slow sinks the writhing spasm,
And, black through the foaming white,
Downward gapes a yawning chasm--
Bottomless, cloven to hell's wide night;
And, sucked up, see the billows roaring
Down through the whirling funnel pouring!
Then in haste, ere the out-rage return again,
The youth to his God doth pray,
And--ascends a cry of horror and pain!--
Already the vortex hath swept him away,
And o'er the bold swimmer, in darkness eternal,
Close the great jaws of the gulf infernal!
Then the water above grows smooth as glass,
While, below, dull roarings ply;
And trembling they hear the murmur pass--
"High-hearted youth, farewell, good-bye!"
And hollower still comes the howl affraying,
Till their hearts are sick with the frightful delaying.
If the crown itself thou in should fling,
And say, "Who back with it hies
Himself shall wear it, and shall be king,"
I would not covet the precious prize!
What Ocean hides in that howling hell of it
Live soul will never come back to tell of it!
Ships many, caught in that whirling surge,
Shot sheer to their dismal doom:
Keel and mast only did ever emerge,
Shattered, from out the all-gulping tomb!--
Like the bluster of tempest, clearer and clearer,
Comes its roaring nearer and ever nearer!
It wallows, seethes, hisses, in raging rout,
As when water wrestles with fire,
Till to heaven the yeasty tongues they spout,
Wave upon wave's back mounting higher;
And as with the grumble of distant thunder,
Bellowing it bursts from the dark lap under.
And, see, from its bosom, flowing dark,
Something heave up, swan-white!
An arm and a shining neck they mark,
And it rows with never relaxing might!
It is he! and high his golden capture
His left hand waves in success's rapture!
With long deep breaths his path he ploughed,
And he hailed the heavenly day;
Jubilant shouted the gazing crowd,
"He lives! he is there! he broke away!
Out of the grave, the whirlpool uproarious,
The hero hath rescued his life victorious!"
He comes; they surround him with shouts of glee;
At the king's feet he sinks on the sod,
And hands him the beaker upon his knee;
To his lovely daughter the king gives a nod:
She fills it brim-full of wine sparkling and playing,
And then to the king the youth turned him saying:
"Long live the king!--Well doth he fare
Who breathes in this rosy light,
But, ah, it is horrible down there!
And man must not tempt the heavenly Might,
Or ever seek, with prying unwholesome,
What he graciously covers with darkness dolesome!
"It tore me down with a headlong swing;
Then a shaft in a rock outpours,
Wild-rushing against me, a torrent spring;
It seized me, the double stream's raging force,
And like a top, with giddy twisting,
It spun me round--there was no resisting!
"Then God did show me, sore beseeching
In deepest, frightfullest need,
Up from the bottom a rock-ledge reaching--
At it I caught, and from death was freed!
And, behold, on spiked corals the beaker suspended,
Which had else to the very abyss descended!
"For below me it lay yet mountain-deep
The purply darksome maw;
And though to the ear it was dead asleep,
The ghasted eye, down staring, saw
How with dragons, lizards, salamanders crawling,
The hell-jaws horrible were sprawling.
"Black swarming in medley miscreate,
In masses lumped hideously,
Wallowed the conger, the thorny skate,
The lobster's grisly deformity;
And bared its teeth with cruel sheen a
Terrible shark, the sea's hyena.
"And there I hung, and shuddering knew
That human help was none;
One thinking soul mid the horrid crew,
In the ghastly solitude I was alone--
Deeper than man's speech ever sounded,
By the waste sea's dismal monsters surrounded.
"I thought and shivered. Then something crept near,
Moved at once a hundred joints!
Now it will have me!--Frantic with fear
I lost my grasp of the coral points!
Away the whirl in its raging tore me,
But it was my salvation, and upward bore me!"
The king at the tale is filled with amaze:--
"The beaker, well won, is thine;
And this ring I will give thee too," he says,
"Precious with gems that are more than fine,
If thou dive yet once, and bring me the story--
What thou sawst in the sea's lowest repertory."
His daughter she hears with a tender dismay,
And her words sweet-suasive plead:
"Father, enough of this cruel play!
For you he has done an unheard-of deed!
And can you not master your soul's desire,
'Tis the knights' turn now to disgrace the squire!"
The king he snatches and hurls the cup
Into the swirling pool:--
"If thou bring me once more that beaker up,
My best knight I hold thee, most worshipful;
And this very day to thy home thou shall lead her
Who there for thee stands such a pitying pleader."
A heavenly passion his being invades,
His eyes dart a lightning ray;
He sees on her beauty the flushing shades,
He sees her grow pallid and sink away!
Determination thorough him flashes,
And downward for life or for death he dashes!
They hear the dull roar!--it is turning again,
Its herald the thunderous brawl!
Downward they bend with loving strain:
They come! they are coming, the waters all!--
They rush up!--they rush down!--up, down, for ever!
The youth again bring they never.
_TO THE CLOUDS._
Through the unchanging heaven, as ye have sped,
Speed onward still, a strange wild company,
Fleet children of the waters! Glorious ye,
Whether the sun lift up his shining head,
High throned at noontide and established
Among the shifting pillars, or we see
The sable ghosts of air sleep mournfully
Against the sunlight, passionless and dead!
Take thus a glory, oh thou higher Sun,
From all the cloudy labour of man's hand--
Whether the quickening nations rise and run,
Or in the market-place we idly stand
Casting huge shadows over these thy plains--
Even thence, O God, draw thy rich gifts of rains.
Rich is the fancy which can double back
All seeming forms, and from cold icicles
Build up high glittering palaces where dwells
Summer perfection, moulding all this wrack
To spirit symmetry, and doth not lack
The power to hear amidst the funeral bells
The eternal heart's wind-melody which swells
In whirlwind flashes all along its track!
So hath the sun made all the winter mine
With gardens springing round me fresh and fair;
On hidden leaves uncounted jewels shine;
I live with forms of beauty everywhere,
Peopling the crumbling waste and icy pool
With sights and sounds of life most beautiful.
Tumultuous rushing o'er the outstretched plains;
A wildered maze of comets and of suns;
The blood of changeless God that ever runs
With quick diastole up the immortal veins;
A phantom host that moves and works in chains;
A monstrous fiction, which, collapsing, stuns
The mind to stupor and amaze at once;
A tragedy which that man best explains
Who rushes blindly on his wild career
With trampling hoofs and sound of mailed war,
Who will not nurse a life to win a tear,
But is extinguished like a falling star;--
Such will at times this life appear to me
Until I learn to read more perfectly.
_HOM. IL. v. 403._
If thou art tempted by a thought of ill,
Crave not too soon for victory, nor deem
Thou art a coward if thy safety seem
To spring too little from a righteous will;
For there is nightmare on thee, nor until
Thy soul hath caught the morning's early gleam
Seek thou to analyze the monstrous dream
By painful introversion; rather fill
Thine eye with forms thou knowest to be truth;
But see thou cherish higher hope than this,--
hope hereafter that thou shall be fit
Calm-eyed to face distortion, and to sit
Transparent among other forms of youth
Who own no impulse save to God and bliss.
And must I ever wake, gray dawn, to know
Thee standing sadly by me like a ghost?
I am perplexed with thee that thou shouldst cost
This earth another turning! All aglow
Thou shouldst have reached me, with a purple show
Along far mountain-tops! and I would post
Over the breadth of seas, though I were lost
In the hot phantom-chase for life, if so
Thou earnest ever with this numbing sense
Of chilly distance and unlovely light,
Waking this gnawing soul anew to fight
With its perpetual load: I drive thee hence!
I have another mountain-range from whence
Bursteth a sun unutterably bright!
"And yet it moves!" Ah, Truth, where wert thou then
When all for thee they racked each piteous limb?
Wert thou in heaven, and busy with thy hymn
When those poor hands convulsed that held thy pen?
Art thou a phantom that deceives! men
To their undoing? or dost thou watch him
Pale, cold, and silent in his dungeon dim?
And wilt thou ever speak to him again?
"It moves, it moves! Alas, my flesh was weak!
That was a hideous dream! I'll cry aloud
How the green bulk wheels sunward day by day!
Ah me! ah me! perchance my heart was proud
That I alone should know that word to speak!
And now, sweet Truth, shine upon these, I pray."
If thou wouldst live the Truth in very deed,
Thou hast thy joy, but thou hast more of pain.
Others will live in peace, and thou be fain
To bargain with despair, and in thy need
To make thy meal upon the scantiest weed.
These palaces, for thee they stand in vain;
Thine is a ruinous hut, and oft the rain
Shall drench thee in the midnight; yea, the speed
Of earth outstrip thee, pilgrim, while thy feet
Move slowly up the heights. Yet will there come
Through the time-rents about thy moving cell,
_Shot from the Truth's own bow, and flaming sweet,_
An arrow for despair, and oft the hum
Of far-off populous realms where spirits dwell.
Speak, Prophet of the Lord! We may not start
To find thee with us in thine ancient dress,
Haggard and pale from some bleak wilderness,
Empty of all save God and thy loud heart,
Nor with like rugged message quick to dart
Into the hideous fiction mean and base;
But yet, O prophet man, we need not less
But more of earnest, though it is thy part
To deal in other words, if thou wouldst smite
The living Mammon, seated, not as then
In bestial quiescence grimly dight,
But _robed as priest, and honoured of good men
Yet_ thrice as much an idol-god as when
He stared at his own feet from morn to night.
From out a windy cleft there comes a gaze
Of eyes unearthly, which go to and fro
Upon the people's tumult, for below
The nations smite each other: no amaze
Troubles their liquid rolling, or affrays
Their deep-set contemplation; steadily glow
Those ever holier eyeballs, for they grow
Liker unto the eyes of one that prays.
And if those clasped hands tremble, comes a power
As of the might of worlds, and they are holden
Blessing above us in the sunrise golden;
And they will be uplifted till that hour
Of terrible rolling which shall rise and shake
This conscious nightmare from us, and we wake.
_THE BELOVED DISCIPLE_.
One do I see and twelve; but second there
Methinks I know thee, thou beloved one;
Not from thy nobler port, for there are none
More quiet-featured: some there are who bear
Their message on their brows, while others wear
A look of large commission, nor will shun
The fiery trial, so their work is done;
But thou hast parted with thine eyes in prayer--
Unearthly are they both; and so thy lips
Seem like the porches of the spirit land;
For thou hast laid a mighty treasure by
Unlocked by Him in Nature, and thine eye
Burns with a vision and apocalypse
Thy own sweet soul can hardly understand.
A Boanerges too! Upon my heart
It lay a heavy hour: features like thine
Should glow with other message than the shine
Of the earth-burrowing levin, and the start
That cleaveth horrid gulfs! Awful and swart
A moment stoodest thou, but less divine--
Brawny and clad in ruin--till with mine
Thy heart made answering signals, and apart
Beamed forth thy two rapt eyeballs doubly clear
And twice as strong because thou didst thy duty,
And, though affianced to immortal Beauty,
Hiddest not weakly underneath her veil
The pest of Sin and Death which maketh pale:
Henceforward be thy spirit doubly dear!
_THE LILY OF THE VALLEY_.
There is not any weed but hath its shower,
There is not any pool but hath its star;
And black and muddy though the waters are
We may not miss the glory of a flower,
And winter moons will give them magic power
To spin in cylinders of diamond spar;
And everything hath beauty near and far,
And keepeth close and waiteth on its hour!
And I, when I encounter on my road
A human soul that looketh black and grim,
Shall I more ceremonious be than God?
Shall I refuse to watch one hour with him
Who once beside our deepest woe did bud
A patient watching flower about the brim?
'Tis not the violent hands alone that bring
The curse, the ravage, and the downward doom,
Although to these full oft the yawning tomb
Owes deadly surfeit; but a keener sting,
A more immortal agony will cling
To the half fashioned sin which would assume
Fair Virtue's garb; the eye that sows the gloom
With quiet seeds of Death henceforth to spring
What time the sun of passion burning fierce
Breaks through the kindly cloud of circumstance;
The bitter word, and the unkindly glance,
The crust and canker coming with the years,
Are liker Death than arrows and the lance
Which through the living heart at once doth pierce.
_SPOKEN OF SEVERAL PHILOSOPHERS_.
I pray you, all ye men who put your trust
In moulds and systems and well-tackled gear,
Holding that Nature lives from year to year
In one continual round because she must--
Set me not down, I pray you, in the dust
Of all these centuries, like a pot of beer--
A pewter-pot disconsolately clear,
Which holds a potful, as is right and just!
I will grow clamorous--by the rood, I will,
If thus ye use me like a pewter pot!
Good friend, thou art a toper and a sot--
will not be the lead to hold thy swill,
Nor any lead: I will arise and spill
Thy silly beverage--spill it piping hot!
_NATURE A MORAL POWER_.
Nature, to him no message dost thou bear
Who in thy beauty findeth not the power
To gird himself more strongly for the hour
Of night and darkness. Oh, what colours rare
The woods, the valleys, and the mountains wear
To him who knows thy secret, and, in shower,
And fog, and ice-cloud, hath a secret bower
Where he may rest until the heavens are fair!
Not with the rest of slumber, but the trance
Of onward movement steady and serene,
Where oft, in struggle and in contest keen,
His eyes will opened be, and all the dance
Of life break on him, and a wide expanse
Roll upward through the void, sunny and green.
Ah, truant, thou art here again, I see!
For in a season of such wretched weather
I thought that thou hadst left us altogether,
Although I could not choose but fancy thee
Skulking about the hill-tops, whence the glee
Of thy blue laughter peeped at times, or rather
Thy bashful awkwardness, as doubtful whether
Thou shouldst be seen in such a company
Of ugly runaways, unshapely heaps
Of ruffian vapour, broken from restraint
Of their slim prison in the ocean deeps.
But yet I may not chide: fall to thy books--
Fall to immediately without complaint--
There they are lying, hills and vales and brooks.
Summer, sweet Summer, many-fingered Summer!
We hold thee very dear, as well we may:
It is the kernel of the year to-day--
All hail to thee! thou art a welcome comer!
If every insect were a fairy drummer,
And I a fifer that could deftly play,
We'd give the old Earth such a roundelay
That she would cast all thought of labour from her.--
Ah! what is this upon my window-pane?
Some sulky, drooping cloud comes pouting up,
Stamping its glittering feet along the plain!--
Well, I will let that idle fancy drop!
Oh, how the spouts are bubbling with the rain!
And all the earth shines like a silver cup!
_ON A MIDGE_.
Whence do ye come, ye creatures? Each of you
Is perfect as an angel! wings and eyes
Stupendous in their beauty--gorgeous dyes
In feathery fields of purple and of blue!
Would God I saw a moment as ye do!
I would become a molecule in size,
Rest with you, hum with you, or slanting rise
Along your one dear sunbeam, could I view
The pearly secret which each tiny fly--
Each tiny fly that hums and bobs and stirs
Hides in its little breast eternally
From you, ye prickly, grim philosophers
With all your theories that sound so high:
Hark to the buz a moment, my good sirs!
Here stands a giant stone from whose far top
Comes down the sounding water: let me gaze
Till every sense of man and human ways
Is wrecked and quenched for ever, and I drop
Into the whirl of time, and without stop
Pass downward thus! Again my eyes I raise
To thee, dark rock; and through the mist and haze
My strength returns when I behold thy prop
Gleam stern and steady through the wavering wrack.
Surely thy strength is human, and like me
Thou bearest loads of thunder on thy back!
And, lo, a smile upon thy visage black--
A breezy tuft of grass which I can see
Waving serenely from a sunlit crack!
Above my head the great pine-branches tower;
Backwards and forwards each to the other bends,
Beckoning the tempest-cloud which hither wends
Like a slow-laboured thought, heavy with power:
Hark to the patter of the coming shower!
Let me be silent while the Almighty sends
His thunder-word along--but when it ends
I will arise and fashion from the hour
Words of stupendous import, fit to guard
High thoughts and purposes, which I may wave,
When the temptation cometh close and hard,
Like fiery brands betwixt me and the grave
Of meaner things--to which I am a slave,
If evermore I keep not watch and ward.
_FIRST SIGHT OF THE SEA_.
I do remember how, when very young,
I saw the great sea first, and heard its swell
As I drew nearer, caught within the spell
Of its vast size and its mysterious tongue.
How the floor trembled, and the dark boat swung
With a man in it, and a great wave fell
Within a stone's cast! Words may never tell
The passion of the moment, when I flung
All childish records by, and felt arise
A thing that died no more! An awful power
I claimed with trembling hands and eager eyes,
Mine, mine for ever, an immortal dower.--
The noise of waters soundeth to this hour
When I look seaward through the quiet skies.
_ON THE SOURCE OF THE ARVE_.
Hears't thou the dash of water, loud and hoarse,
With its perpetual tidings upward climb,
Struggling against the wind? Oh, how sublime!
For not in vain from its portentous source
Thy heart, wild stream, hath yearned for its full force,
But from thine ice-toothed caverns, dark as time,
At last thou issuest, dancing to the rime
Of thy outvolleying freedom! Lo, thy course
Lies straight before thee as the arrow flies!
Right to the ocean-plains away, away!
Thy parent waits thee, and her sunset dyes
Are ruffled for thy coming, and the gray
Of all her glittering borders flashes high
Against the glittering rocks!--oh, haste, and fly!
Lie down upon the ground, thou hopeless one!
Press thy face in the grass, and do not speak.
Dost feel the green globe whirl? Seven times a week
Climbeth she out of darkness to the sun,
Which is her God; seven times she doth not shun
Awful eclipse, laying her patient cheek
Upon a pillow ghost-beset with shriek
Of voices utterless, which rave and run
Through all the star-penumbra, craving light
And tidings of the dawn from East and West.
Calmly she sleepeth, and her sleep is blest
With heavenly visions, and the joy of Night
Treading aloft with moons; nor hath she fright
Though cloudy tempests beat upon her breast.
Oft, as I rest in quiet peace, am I
Thrust out at sudden doors, and madly driven
Through desert solitudes, and thunder-riven
Black passages which have not any sky:
The scourge is on me now, with all the cry
Of ancient life that hath with murder striven.
How many an anguish hath gone up to heaven,
How many a hand in prayer been lifted high
When the black fate came onward with the rush
Of whirlwind, avalanche, or fiery spume!
Even at my feet is cleft a shivering tomb
Beneath the waves; or else, with solemn hush
The graveyard opens, and I feel a crush
As if we were all huddled in one doom!
Comes there, O Earth, no breathing time for thee,
No pause upon thy many-chequered lands?
Now resting on my bed with listless hands
I mourn thee resting not. Continually
Hear I the plashing borders of the sea
Answer each other from the rocks and sands!
Troop all the rivers seawards; nothing stands,
But with strange noises hasteth terribly!
Loam-eared hyenas go a moaning by;
Howls to each other all the bloody crew
Of Afric's tigers! but, O men, from you
Comes this perpetual sound more loud and high
Than aught that vexes air! I hear the cry
Of infant generations rising too!
_ONE WITH NATURE_.
I have a fellowship with every shade
Of changing nature: with the tempest hour
My soul goes forth to claim her early dower
Of living princedom; and her wings have staid
Amidst the wildest uproar undismayed!
Yet she hath often owned a better power,
And blessed the gentle coming of the shower,
The speechless majesty of love arrayed
In lowly virtue, under which disguise
Full many a princely thing hath passed her by;
And she from homely intercourse of eyes
Hath gathered visions wider than the sky,
And seen the withered heart of man arise
Peaceful as God, and full of majesty.
_MY TWO GENIUSES_.
One is a slow and melancholy maid;
I know riot if she cometh from the skies
Or from the sleepy gulfs, but she will rise
Often before me in the twilight shade,
Holding a bunch of poppies and a blade
Of springing wheat: prostrate my body lies
Before her on the turf, the while she ties
A fillet of the weed about my head;
And in the gaps of sleep I seem to hear
A gentle rustle like the stir of corn,
And words like odours thronging to my ear:
"Lie still, beloved--still until the morn;
Lie still with me upon this rolling sphere--
Still till the judgment; thou art faint and worn."
The other meets me in the public throng;
Her hair streams backward from her loose attire;
She hath a trumpet and an eye of fire;
She points me downward, steadily and long:--
"There is thy grave--arise, my son, be strong!
Hands are upon thy crown--awake, aspire
To immortality; heed not the lyre
Of the Enchantress, nor her poppy-song,
But in the stillness of the summer calm
Tremble for what is Godlike in thy being.
Listen a while, and thou shall hear the psalm
Of victory sung by creatures past thy seeing;
And from far battle-fields there comes the neighing
Of dreadful onset, though the air is balm."
Maid with the poppies, must I let thee go?
Alas, I may not; thou art likewise dear!
I am but human, and thou hast a tear
When she hath nought but splendour, and the glow
Of a wild energy that mocks the flow
Of the poor sympathies which keep us here:
Lay past thy poppies, and come twice as near,
And I will teach thee, and thou too shalt grow;
And thou shalt walk with me in open day
Through the rough thoroughfares with quiet grace;
And the wild-visaged maid shall lead the way,
Timing her footsteps to a gentler pace
As her great orbs turn ever on thy face,
Drinking in draughts of loving help alway.
There is a bellowing in me, as of might
Unfleshed and visionless, mangling the air
With horrible convulse, as if it bare