Part 1 out of 2
This etext was produced by David Price, email email@example.com,
from the 1909 Gay and Hancock edition.
THE KINGDOM OF LOVE AND OTHER POEMS
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
The Kingdom Of Love
After The Engagement
The Phantom Ball
Words And Thoughts
Wanted--A Little Girl
"Now I Lay Me"
A Servian Legend
The Falling Of Thrones
Her Last Letter
The Princess's Finger-Nail
A Baby In The House
The Foolish Elm
New Year Resolve
What We Want
Breaking The Day In Two
The Rape Of The Mist
The Two Glasses
What Is Flirtation?
Husband And Wife
How Does Love Speak?
As You Go Through Life
How Salvator Won
How Will It Be?
A Man's Last Love
The Lady And The Dame
A Married Coquette
The Summer Girl
A Man's Repentance
Dell And I
The Giddy Girl
A Girl's Autumn Reverie
Under The Sheet
The Coming Man
THE KINGDOM OF LOVE
In the dawn of the day when the sea and the earth
Reflected the sunrise above,
I set forth with a heart full of courage and mirth
To seek for the Kingdom of Love.
I asked of a Poet I met on the way
Which cross-road would lead me aright;
And he said "Follow me, and ere long you shall see
Its glittering turrets of light."
And soon in the distance a city shone fair.
"Look yonder," he said; "How it gleams!"
But alas! for the hopes that were doomed to despair,
It was only the "Kingdom of Dreams."
Then the next man I asked was a gay Cavalier,
And he said: "Follow me, follow me";
And with laughter and song we went speeding along
By the shores of Life's beautiful sea.
Then we came to a valley more tropical far
Than the wonderful vale of Cashmere,
And I saw from a bower a face like a flower
Smile out on the gay Cavalier;
And he said: "We have come to humanity's goal:
Here love and delight are intense."
But alas and alas! for the hopes of my soul -
It was only the "Kingdom of Sense."
As I journeyed more slowly I met on the road
A coach with retainers behind;
And they said: "Follow me, for our Lady's abode
Belongs in that realm, you will find."
'Twas a grand dame of fashion, a newly-made bride,
I followed, encouraged and bold;
But my hopes died away like the last gleams of day,
For we came to the "Kingdom of Gold."
At the door of a cottage I asked a fair maid.
"I have heard of that realm," she replied;
"But my feet never roam from the 'Kingdom of Home,'
So I know not the way," and she sighed.
I looked on the cottage; how restful it seemed!
And the maid was as fair as a dove.
Great light glorified my soul as I cried:
"Why, HOME is the 'Kingdom of Love'!"
The sun rode high in a cloudless sky
Of a perfect summer morn.
She stood and gazed out into the street,
And wondered why she was born.
On the topmost branch of a maple-tree
That close by the window grew,
A robin called to his mate enthralled:
"I love but you, but you, but you."
A soft look came in her hardened face -
She had not wept for years;
But the robin's trill, as some sounds will,
Jarred open the door of tears.
She thought of the old home far away;
She heard the whr-r-r of the mill;
She heard the turtle's wild, sweet call,
And the wail of the whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will.
She saw again that dusty road
Whence he came riding down;
She smelled once more the flower she wore
In the breast of her simple gown.
Out on the new-mown meadow she heard
Two blue-jays quarrel and fret,
And the warning cry of a Phoebe bird
"More wet, more wet, more wet."
With a blithe "Hello" to the men below
Who were spreading the new-mown hay,
The rider drew rein at her window-pane -
How it all came back to-day!
How young she was, and how fair she was;
What innocence crowned her brow!
The future seemed fair, for Love was there -
And now--and now--and now.
In a dingy glass on the wall near by
She gazed on her faded face.
"Well, Meg, I declare, what a beauty you are!
She sneered, "What an angel of grace!
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
What a thing of beauty and grace!"
She reached out her arms with a moaning sob:
"Oh, if I could go back!"
Then, swift and strange, came a sudden change;
Her brow grew hard and black.
"A curse on the day and a curse on that man,
And on all who are his," she cried;
"May he starve and be cold, may he live to be old
When all who loved him have died."
Her wild voice frightened the robin away
From the branch by the window-sill;
And little he knew as away he flew,
Of the memories stirred by his trill.
He called to his mate on the grass below,
"Follow me," as he soared on high;
And as mates have done since the world begun
She followed, and asked not why.
The dingy room seemed curtained with gloom;
Meg shivered with nameless dread.
The ghost of her youth and her murdered truth
Seemed risen up from the dead.
She hurried out into the noisy street,
For the silence made her afraid;
To flee from thought was all she sought,
She cared not whither she strayed.
Still on she pressed in her wild unrest
Up avenues skirting the park,
Where fashion's throng moved gayly along
In Vanity Fair--when hark!
A clatter of hoofs down the stony street,
The snort of a frightened horse
That was running wild, and a laughing child
At play in its very course.
With one swift glance Meg saw it all.
"HIS child--my God! HIS child!"
She cried aloud, as she rushed through the crowd
Like one grown suddenly wild.
There, almost under the iron feet,
Hemmed in by a passing cart,
Stood the baby boy--the pride and joy
Of the man who had broken her heart.
Past swooning women and shouting men
She fled like a flash of light;
With her slender arm she gathered from harm
The form of the laughing sprite.
The death-shod feet of the mad horse beat
Her down on the pavings grey;
But the baby laughed out with a merry shout,
And thought it splendid play.
He pulled her gown and called to her: "Say,
Dit up and do dat some more,
Das jus' ze way my papa play
Wiz me on ze nursery floor."
When the frightened father reached the scene,
His boy looked up and smiled
From the stiffening fold of the arm, death-cold,
Of Meg, who had died for his child.
Oh! idle words are a woman's curse
Who loves as woman can;
For put to the test, she will bare her breast
And die for the sake of the man.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you:
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth
Must borrow its mirth,
It has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound
To a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go;
They want full measure
Of all your pleasure,
But they do not want your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all;
There are none to decline
Your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by;
Succeed and give,
And it helps you live,
But it cannot help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train;
But one by one
We must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
A rose in my garden, the sweetest and fairest,
Was hanging her head through the long golden hours;
And early one morning I saw her tears falling,
And heard a low gossiping talk in the bowers.
The yellow Nasturtium, a spinster all faded,
Was telling a Lily what ailed the poor Rose:
"That wild roving Bee who was hanging about her,
Has jilted her squarely, as every one knows.
"I knew when he came, with his singing and sighing,
His airs and his speeches so fine and so sweet,
Just how it would end; but no one would believe me,
For all were quite ready to fall at his feet."
"Indeed, you are wrong," said the Lily-belle proudly,
"I cared nothing for him; he called on me once,
And would have come often, no doubt, if I'd asked him,
But though he was handsome, I thought him a dunce."
"Now, now, that's not true," cried the tall Oleander.
"He has travelled and seen every flower that grows;
And one who has supped in the garden of princes,
We all might have known would not we with the Rose."
"But wasn't she proud when he showed her attention?
And she let him caress her," said sly Mignonette;
"And I used to see it and blush for her folly.
The silly thing thinks he will come to her yet."
"I thought he was splendid," said pretty pert Larkspur,
"So dark, and so grand with that gay cloak of gold;
But he tried once to kiss me, the impudent fellow!
And I got offended; I thought him too bold."
"Oh, fie!" laughed the Almond, "that does for a story.
Though I hang down my head, yet I see all that goes;
And I saw you reach out trying hard to detain him,
But he just tapped your cheek and flew by to the Rose.
"He cared nothing for her; he only was flirting
To while away time, as I very well knew;
So I turned a cold shoulder on all his advances,
Because I was certain his heart was untrue."
"The Rose is served right for her folly in trusting
An oily-tongued stranger," quoth proud Columbine.
"I knew what he was, and thought once I would warn her,
But of course the affair was no business of mine."
"Oh, well," cried the Peony, shrugging her shoulders,
"I saw all along that the Bee was a flirt;
But the Rose has been always so praised and so petted,
I thought a good lesson would do her no hurt."
Just then came the sound of a love-song sung sweetly,
I saw my proud Rose lifting up her bowed head;
And the talk of the gossips was hushed in a moment,
And the flowers all listened to hear what was said.
And the dark, handsome Bee, with his cloak o'er his shoulder,
Came swift through the sunlight and kissed the sad Rose,
And whispered: "My darling, I've roved the world over,
And you are the loveliest flower that grows."
I knew it the first of the summer,
I knew it the same at the end,
That you and your love were plighted,
But couldn't you be my friend?
Couldn't we sit in the twilight,
Couldn't we walk on the shore
With only a pleasant friendship
To bind us, and nothing more?
There was not a word of folly
Spoken between us two,
Though we lingered oft in the garden
Till the roses were wet with dew.
We touched on a thousand subjects -
The moon and the worlds above, -
And our talk was tinctured with science,
And everything else, save love.
A wholly Platonic friendship
You said I had proven to you
Could bind a man and a woman
The whole long season through,
With never a thought of flirting,
Though both were in their youth
What would you have said, my lady,
If you had known the truth!
What would you have done, I wonder,
Had I gone on my knees to you
And told you my passionate story,
There in the dusk and the dew?
My burning, burdensome story,
Hidden and hushed so long -
My story of hopeless loving -
Say, would you have thought it wrong?
But I fought with my heart and conquered,
I hid my wound from sight;
You were going away in the morning,
And I said a calm good-night.
But now when I sit in the twilight,
Or when I walk by the sea
That friendship, quite Platonic,
Comes surging over me.
And a passionate longing fills me
For the roses, the dusk, the dew;
For the beautiful summer vanished,
For the moonlight walks--and YOU.
In his great cushioned chair by the fender
An old man sits dreaming tonight,
His withered hands, licked by the tender
Warm rays of the red anthracite,
Are folded before him, all listless;
His dim eyes are fixed on the blaze,
While over him sweeps the resistless
Flood-tide of old days.
He hears not the mirth in the hallway,
He hears not the sounds of good cheer,
That through the old homestead ring alway
In the glad Christmas-time of the year.
He heeds not the chime of sweet voices
As the last gifts are hung on the tree.
In a long-vanished day he rejoices -
In his lost Used-to-be.
He has gone back across dead Decembers
To his childhood's fair land of delight;
And his mother's sweet smile he remembers,
As he hangs up his stocking at night.
He remembers the dream-haunted slumber
All broken and restless because
Of the visions that came without number
Of dear Santa Claus.
Again, in his manhood's beginning,
He sees himself thrown on the world,
And into the vortex of sinning
By Pleasure's strong arms he is hurled.
He hears the sweet Christmas bells ringing,
"Repent ye, repent ye, and pray";
But he joins with his comrades in singing
A bacchanal lay.
Again he stands under the holly
With a blushing face lifted to his
For love has been stronger than folly,
And has turned him from vice unto bliss;
And the whole world is lit with new glory
As the sweet vows are uttered again,
While the Christmas bells tell the old story
Of peace unto men.
Again, with his little brood 'round him,
He sits by the fair mother-wife;
He knows that the angels have crowned him
With the truest, best riches of life;
And the hearts of the children, untroubled,
Are filled with the gay Christmas-tide;
And the gifts for sweet Maudie are doubled,
Tis her birthday, beside.
Again,--ah, dear Jesus, have pity -
He finds in the chill, waning day,
That one has come home from the city -
Frail Maudie, whom love led astray.
She lies with her babe on her bosom -
Half-hid by the snow's fleecy spread;
A bud and a poor trampled blossom -
And both are quite dead.
So fair and so fragile! just twenty -
How mocking the bells sound to-night!
She starved in this great land of plenty,
When she tried to grope back to the light.
Christ. are Thy disciples inhuman,
Or only for MEN hast Thou died?
No mercy is shown to a woman
Who once steps aside.
Again he leans over the shrouded
Still form of the mother and wife;
Very lonely the way seems, and clouded,
As he looks down the vista of life.
With the sweet Christmas chimes there is blended
The knell for a life that is done,
And he knows that his joys are all ended
And his waiting begun.
So long have the years been, so lonely,
As he counts them by Christmases gone.
"I am homesick," he murmurs; "if only
The Angel would lead the way on.
I am cold, in this chill winter weather;
Why, Maudie, dear, where have you been?
And you, too, sweet wife--and together -
O Christ, let me in"
The children ran in from the hallway,
"Were you calling us, grandpa?" they said.
Then shrank, with that fear that comes alway
When young eyes look their first on the dead.
The freedom so longed for is given.
The children speak low and draw near:
"Dear grandpa keeps Christmas in Heaven
With grandma, this year."
AFTER THE ENGAGEMENT
Well, Mabel, 'tis over and ended -
The ball I wrote was to be;
And oh! it was perfectly splendid -
If you COULD have been here to see.
I've a thousand things to write you
That I know you are wanting to hear,
And one, that is sure to delight you -
I am wearing Joe's diamond, my dear!
Yes, mamma is quite ecstatic
That I am engaged to Joe;
She thinks I am rather erratic,
And feared that I might say "No."
But, Mabel, I'm twenty-seven
(Though nobody DREAMS it, dear),
And a fortune like Joe's isn't given
To lay at one's feet each year.
You know my old fancy for Harry -
Or, at least, I am certain you guessed
That it took all my sense not to marry
And go with that fellow out west.
But that was my very first season -
And Harry was poor as could be,
And mamma's good practical reason
Took all the romance out of me.
She whisked me off over the ocean,
And had me presented at court,
And got me all out of the notion
That ranch life out west was my forte.
Of course I have never repented -
I'm not such a goose of a thing;
But after I had consented
To Joe--and he gave me the ring -
I felt such a queer sensation.
I seemed to go into a trance,
Away from the music's pulsation,
Away from the lights and the dance.
And the wind o'er the wild prairie
Seemed blowing strong and free,
And it seemed not Joe, but Harry
Who was standing there close to me.
And the funniest feverish feeling
Went up from my feet to my head,
With little chills after it stealing -
And my hands got as numb as the dead.
A moment, and then it was over:
The diamond blazed up in my eyes,
And I saw in the face of my lover
A questioning, strange surprise.
Maybe 'twas the scent of the flowers,
That heavy with fragrance bloomed near,
But I didn't feel natural for hours;
It was odd now, wasn't it, dear?
Write soon to your fortunate Clara,
Who has carried the prize away,
And say you'll come on when I marry, -
I think it will happen in May.
The house is like a garden,
The children are the flowers,
The gardener should come methinks
And walk among his bowers,
Oh! lock the door on worry
And shut your cares away,
Not time of year, but love and cheer,
Will make a holiday.
Impossible! You women do not know
The toil it takes to make a business grow.
I cannot join you until very late,
So hurry home, nor let the dinner wait.
The feast will be like Hamlet
Without a Hamlet part:
The home is but a house, dear,
Till you supply the heart.
The Xmas gift I long for
You need not toil to buy;
Oh! give me back one thing I lack -
The love-light in your eye.
Of course I love you, and the children too
Be sensible, my dear, it is for you
I work so hard to make my business pay.
There, now, run home, enjoy your holiday.
THE WIFE (turning)
He does not mean to wound me,
I know his heart is kind.
Alas! that man can love us
And be so blind, so blind.
A little time for pleasure,
A little time for play;
A word to prove the life of love
And frighten Care away!
Tho' poor my lot in some small cot
THAT were a holiday.
THE HUSBAND (musing)
She has not meant to wound me, nor to vex -
Zounds! but 'tis difficult to please the sex.
I've housed and gowned her like a very queen
Yet there she goes, with discontented mien.
I gave her diamonds only yesterday:
Some women are like that, do what you may.
False! Good God, I am dreaming!
No, no, it never can be -
You who are so true in seeming,
You, false to your vows and me?
My wife and my fair boy's mother
The star of my life--my queen -
To yield herself to another
Like some light Magdalene!
Proofs! what are proofs--I defy them!
They never can shake my trust;
If you look in my face and deny them
I will trample them into the dust.
For whenever I read of the glory
Of the realms of Paradise,
I sought for the truth of the story
And found it in your sweet eyes.
Why, you are the shy young creature
I wooed in her maiden grace;
There was purity in each feature,
And my heaven I found in your face.
And, "not only married but mated,"
I would say in my pride and joy;
And our hopes were all consummated
When the angels gave us our boy.
Now you could not blot that beginning
So beautiful, pure and true,
With a record of wicked sinning
As a common woman might do.
Look up in your old frank fashion,
With your smile so free from art;
And say that no guilty passion
Has ever crept into your heart.
How pallid you are, and you tremble!
You are hiding your face from view!
"Tho' a sinner, you cannot dissemble" -
My God! then the tale is true?
True, and the sun above us
Shines on in the summer skies?
And men say the angels love us,
And that God is good and wise.
Yet he lets a wanton thing like you
Ruin my home and my name!
Get out of my sight or I strike you
Dead in your shameless shame!
No, no, I was wild, I was brutal;
I would not take your life,
For the efforts of death would be futile
To wipe out the sin of a wife.
Wife--why, that word has seemed sainted
I uttered it like a prayer;
And now to think it is tainted -
Christ! how much we can bear!
"Slay you!" my boy's stained mother -
Nay, that would not punish, or save;
A soul that has outraged another
Finds no sudden peace in the grave.
I will leave you here to REMEMBER
The Eden that was your own,
While on toward my life's December
I walk in the dark alone.
There was a man, it was said one time,
Who went astray in his youthful prime.
Can the brain keep cool and the heart keep quiet
When the blood is a river that's running riot?
And boys will be boys, the old folks say,
And a man is the better who's had his day
The sinner reformed; and the preacher told
Of the prodigal son who came back to the fold.
And Christian people threw open the door,
With a warmer welcome than ever before.
Wealth and honour were his to command,
And a spotless woman gave him her hand.
And the world strewed their pathway with blossoms abloom,
Crying, "God bless ladye, and God bless groom!"
There was a maiden who went astray,
In the golden dawn of her life's young day.
She had more passion and heart than head,
And she followed blindly where fond Love led.
And Love unchecked is a dangerous guide
To wander at will by a fair girl's side.
The woman repented and turned from sin,
But no door opened to let her in.
The preacher prayed that she might be forgiven,
But told her to look for mercy--in heaven.
For this is the law of the earth, we know:
That the woman is stoned, while the man may go.
A brave man wedded her after all,
But the world said, frowning, "We shall not call."
THE PHANTOM BALL
You remember the hall on the corner?
To-night as I walked down street
I heard the sound of music,
And the rhythmic beat and beat,
In time to the pulsing measure
Of lightly tripping feet.
And I turned and entered the doorway -
It was years since I had been there -
Years, and life seemed altered:
Pleasure had changed to care.
But again I was hearing the music
And watching the dancers fair.
And then, as I stood and listened,
The music lost its glee;
And instead of the merry waltzers
There were ghosts of the Used-to-be -
Ghosts of the pleasure-seekers
Who once had danced with me.
Oh, 'twas a ghastly picture!
Oh, 'twas a gruesome crowd!
Each bearing a skull on his shoulder,
Each trailing a long white shroud,
As they whirled in the dance together,
And the music shrieked aloud.
As they danced, their dry bones rattled
Like shutters in a blast;
And they stared from eyeless sockets
On me as they circled past;
And the music that kept them whirling
Was a funeral dirge played fast.
Some of them wore their face-cloths,
Others were rotted away.
Some had mould on their garments,
And some seemed dead but a day.
Corpses all, but I knew them
As friends, once blithe and gay.
Beauty and strength and manhood -
And this was the end of it all:
Nothing but phantoms whirling
In a ghastly skeleton ball.
But the music ceased--and they vanished,
And I came away from the hall.
WORDS AND THOUGHTS
He said as he sat in her theatre box
Between the acts, "What beastly weather!
How like a parrot the lover talks -
And the lady is tame, and the villain stalks -
I hope they finally die together."
He thought--"You are fair as the dawn's first ray;
I know the angels keep guard above you.
And so I chatter of weather, and play,
While all the time I am mad to say,
I love you, love you, love you."
He said--"The season is almost run;
How glad we are, when the whirl is over!
For the toil of pleasure is more than its fun,
And what is it all, when all is done,
But the stick of a rocket that has descended?"
He thought--"Oh God! to be off somewhere
Afar with you, from this scene of fashion;
To know you were mine, and to have you care,
And to lose myself in the crimson snare
Of your lips, in a kiss of passion."
He said--"You are going abroad, no doubt,
This land of Liberty coldly scorning.
I too shall journey a bit about,
From Wall Street up by the L. Road out
To Harlem, and down each morning."
He thought--"It must follow on land or sea,
This pent-up, passionate, dumb devotion,
Till the cry of a rapture that may not be
Shall reach your heart from the heart of me
And stir you with strange emotion."
WANTED--A LITTLE GIRL
Where have they gone to--the little girls
With natural manners and natural curls;
Who love their dollies and like their toys,
And talk of something besides the boys?
Little old women in plenty I find,
Mature in manners and old of mind;
Little old flirts who talk of their "beaux,"
And vie with each other in stylish clothes.
Little old belles who, at nine and ten,
Are sick of pleasure and tired of men;
Weary of travel, of balls, of fun,
And find no new thing under the sun.
Once, in the beautiful long ago,
Some dear little children I used to know;
Girls who were merry as lambs at play,
And laughed and rollicked the livelong day.
They thought not at all of the "style" of their clothes,
They never imagined that boys were "beaux" -
"Other girls' brothers" and "mates" were they,
Splendid fellows to help them play.
Where have they gone to? If you see
One of them anywhere send her to me.
I would give a medal of purest gold
To one of those dear little girls of old,
With an innocent heart and an open smile,
Who knows not the meaning of "flirt" or "style."
Vast was the wealth I carried in life's pack -
Youth, health, ambition, hope and trust; but Time
And Fate, those robbers fit for any crime,
Stole all, and left me but the empty sack.
Before me lay a long and lonely track
Of darkling hills and barren steeps to climb;
Behind me lay in shadows the sublime
Lost lands of Love's delight. Alack! Alack!
Unwearied, and with springing steps elate,
I had conveyed my wealth along the road.
The empty sack proved now a heavier load:
I was borne down beneath its worthless weight.
I stumbled on, and knocked at Death's dark gate.
There was no answer. Stung by sorrow's goad
I FORCED my way into that grim abode,
And laughed, and flung Life's empty sack to Fate.
Unknown and uninvited I passed in
To that strange land that hangs between two goals,
Round which a dark and solemn river rolls -
More dread its silence than the loud earth's din.
And now, where was the peace I hoped to win?
Black-masted ships slid past me in great shoals,
Their bloody decks thronged with mistaken souls.
(God punishes mistakes sometimes like sin.)
Not rest and not oblivion I found.
My suffering self dwelt with me just the same;
But here no sleep was, and no sweet dreams came
To give me respite. Tyrant Death, uncrowned
By my own hand, still King of Terrors, frowned
Upon my shuddering soul, that shrank in shame
Before those eyes where sorrow blent with blame,
And those accusing lips that made no sound.
What gruesome shapes dawned on my startled sight
What awful sighs broke on my listening ear!
The anguish of the earth, augmented here
A thousand-fold, made one continuous night.
The sack I flung away in impious spite
Hung yet upon me, filled, I saw in fear.
With tears that rained from earth's adjacent sphere,
And turned to stones in falling from that height.
And close about me pressed a grieving throng,
Each with his heavy sack, which bowed him so
His face was hidden. One of these mourned: "Know
Who enters here but finds the way more long
To those fair realms where sounds the angels' song.
There is no man-made exit out of woe;
Ye cannot dash the locked door down and go
To claim thy rightful joy through paths of wrong."
He passed into the shadows dim and grey,
And left me to pursue my path alone.
With terror greater than I yet had known.
Hard on my soul the awful knowledge lay,
Death had not ended life nor found God's way;
But, with my same sad sorrows still my own,
Where by-roads led to by-roads, thistle-sown,
I had but wandered off and gone astray.
With earth still near enough to hear its sighs,
With heaven afar and hell but just below,
Still on and on my lonely soul must go
Until I earn the right to Paradise.
We cannot force our way into God's skies,
Nor rush into the rest we long to know;
But patiently, with bleeding steps and slow
Toil on to where selfhood in Godhood dies.
"NOW I LAY ME"
When I pass from earth away,
Palsied though I be and grey,
May my spirit keep so young
That my failing, faltering tongue
Frames that prayer so dear to me,
Taught me at my mother's knee:
"Now I lay me down to sleep,"
(Passing to Eternal rest
On the loving parent breast)
"I pray the Lord my soul to keep;"
(From all danger safe and calm
In the hollow of His palm;)
"If I should die before I wake,"
(Drifting with a bated breath
Out of slumber into death,)
"I pray the Lord my soul to take."
(From the body's claim set free
Sheltered in the Great to be.)
Simple prayer of trust and truth.
Taught me in my early youth -
Let my soul its beauty keep
When I lay me down to sleep.
She rose up in the early dawn,
And white and silently she moved
About the house. Four men had gone
To battle for the land they loved,
And she, the mother and the wife,
Waited for tidings from the strife.
How still the house seemed! and her tread
Was like the footsteps of the dead.
The long day passed, the dark night came;
She had not seen a human face.
Some voice spoke suddenly her name.
How loud it echoed in that place
Where, day by day, no sound was heard
But her own footsteps! "Bring you word,"
She cried to whom she could not see,
"Word from the battle-plain to me?"
A soldier entered at the door,
And stood within the dim firelight:
"I bring you tidings of the four,"
He said, "who left you for the fight."
"God bless you, friend," she cried; "speak on!
For I can bear it. One is gone?"
"Ay, one is gone!" he said. "Which one?"
"Dear lady, he, your eldest son."
A deathly pallor shot across
Her withered face; she did not weep.
She said: "It is a grievous loss,
But God gives His beloved sleep.
What of the living--of the three?
And when can they come back to me?"
The soldier turned away his head:
"Lady, your husband, too, is dead."
She put her hand upon her brow;
A wild, sharp pain was in her eyes.
"My husband! Oh, God, help me now!"
The soldier heard her shuddering sighs.
The task was harder than he thought.
"Your youngest son, dear madam, fought
Close at his father's side; both fell
Dead, by the bursting of a shell."
She moved her lips and seemed to moan.
Her face had paled to ashen grey:
"Then one is left me--one alone,"
She said, "of four who marched away.
Oh, overruling, All-wise God,
How can I pass beneath Thy rod!"
The soldier walked across the floor,
Paused at the window, at the door,
Wiped the cold dew-drops from his cheek
And sought the mourner's side again.
"Once more, dear lady, I must speak:
Your last remaining son was slain
Just at the closing of the fight;
Twas he who sent me here to-night."
"God knows," the man said afterward,
"The fight itself was not so hard."
A SERVIAN LEGEND
Long, long ago, ere yet our race began,
When earth was empty, waiting still for man,
Before the breath of life to him was given
The angels fell into a strife in heaven.
At length one furious demon grasped the sun
And sped away as fast as he could run,
And with a ringing laugh of fiendish mirth,
He leaped the battlements and fell to earth.
Dark was it then in heaven, but light below;
For there the demon wandered to and fro,
Tilting aloft upon a slender pole
The orb of day--the pilfering old soul.
The angels wept and wailed; but through the dark
The Great Creator's voice cried sternly: "Hark!
Who will restore to me the orb of Light,
Him will I honour in all heaven's sight."
Then over the battlements there dropped another.
(A shrewder angel well there could not be.)
Quoth he: "Behold my love for thee, my brother,
For I have left all heaven to stay with thee.
"Thy loneliness and wanderings I will share,
Thy heavy burden I will help thee bear."
"Well said," the demon answered, "and well done,
But I'll not tax you with this heavy sun.
"Your company will cheer me, it is true,
And I could never think of burdening you."
Idly they wandered onward, side by side,
Till, by and by, they neared a silvery tide.
"Let's bathe," the angel suddenly suggested.
"Agreed," the demon answered. "I'll go last,
Because I needs must leave quite unmolested
This tiresome sun, which I will now make fast.
He set the pole well in the sandy turf,
And called a jackdaw near to watch the place.
Meanwhile the angel paddled in the surf,
And playfully dared his brother to a race.
They swam around together for a while,
The demon always keeping near his prize,
Till presently the angel, with a smile,
Proposed a healthful diving exercise.
The demon hesitated. "But," thought he,
"The jackdaw will inform me with a cry
If this good brother tries deceiving me;
I will not be outdone by him--not I!
Down, down they went. The angel in a trice
Rose up again, and swift to shore he sped.
The jackdaw shrieked, but lo! a mile of ice
The demon found had frozen o'er his head.
He swore an oath, and gathered all his force,
And broke the ice, to see the sun, of course,
Held firmly in the radiant angel's hand,
Who sailed away toward the heavenly land.
He gave pursuit. Wrath lent speed to his chase;
All heaven leaned down to watch the exciting race.
On, on they came, and still the Evil One
Gained on the angel burdened with the sun.
With bated breath and faces white as ghosts,
Over the walls leaned heaven's affrighted hosts.
Up, up, still up, the angel almost spent,
Threw one foot forward o'er the battlement.
The demon seized the other with a shout;
So fierce his clutch he pulled the bottom out,
As the good angel, fainting, laid the sun
Down by the throne of God, who cried: "Well done!
Thy great misfortune shall be made divine:
MAN will I create with a foot like thine!"
The cunningest thing that a baby can do
Is the very first time it plays peek-a-boo;
When it hides its pink little face in its hands,
And crows, and shows that it understands
What nurse, and mamma and papa, too,
Mean when they hide and cry, "Peek a-boo, peek-a-boo."
Oh, what a wonderful thing it is,
When they find that baby can play like this!
And every one listens, and thinks it true
That baby's gurgle means "Peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo";
And over and over the changes are rung
On the marvellous infant who talks so young.
I wonder if any one ever knew
A baby that never played peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo.
'Tis old as the hills are. I believe
Cain was taught it by Mother Eve;
For Cain was an innocent baby, too,
And I am sure he played peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo.
And the whole world full of the children of men,
Have all of them played that game since then.
Kings and princes and beggars, too,
Every one has played peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo.
Thief and robber and ruffian bold,
The crazy tramp and the drunkard old,
All have been babies who laughed and knew
How to hide, and play peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo.
THE FALLING OF THRONES
Above the din of commerce, above the clamour and rattle
Of labour disputing with riches, of Anarchists' threats and groans,
Above the hurry and hustle and roar of that bloodless battle,
Where men are fighting for riches, I hear the falling of thrones.
I see no savage host, I hear no martial drumming,
But down in the dust at our feet lie the useless crowns of kings;
And the mighty spirit of Progress is steadily coming, coming,
And the flag of one republic abroad to the world he flings.
The Universal Republic, where worth, not birth, is royal;
Where the lowliest born may climb on a self-made ladder to fame;
Where the highest and proudest born, if he be not true and loyal,
Shall find no masking title to cover and gild his shame.
Not with the bellow of guns and not with sabres whetting,
But with growing minds of men is waged this swordless fray;
While over the dim horizon the sun of royalty, setting,
Lights, with a dying splendour, the humblest toiler's way.
HER LAST LETTER
Sitting alone by the window,
Watching the moonlit street,
Bending my head to listen
To the well-known sound of your feet,
I have been wondering, darling,
How I can bear the pain,
When I watch, with sighs and tear-wet eyes,
And wait for your coming in vain.
For I know that a day approaches
When your heart will tire of me;
When by door and gate I may watch and wait
For a form I shall not see;
When the love that is now my heaven,
The kisses that make my life,
You will bestow on another,
And that other will be--your wife.
You will grow weary of sinning
(Though you do not call it so),
You will long for a love that is purer
Than the love that we two know.
God knows I have loved you dearly,
With a passion strong as true;
But you will grow tired and leave me,
Though I gave up all for you.
I was as pure as the morning
When I first looked on your face;
I knew I never could reach you
In your high, exalted place.
But I looked and loved and worshipped
As a flower might worship a star,
And your eyes shone down upon me,
And you seemed so far--so far.
And then? Well, then, you loved me,
Loved me with all your heart;
But we could not stand at the altar -
We were so far apart.
If a star should wed with a flower
The star must drop from the sky,
Or the flower in trying to reach it
Would droop on its stalk and die.
But you said that you loved me, darling,
And swore by the heavens above
That the Lord and all of His angels
Would sanction and bless our love.
And I? I was weak, not wicked.
My love was as pure as true,
And sin itself seemed a virtue
If only shared by you.
We have been happy together,
Though under the cloud of sin,
But I know that the day approaches
When my chastening must begin.
You have been faithful and tender,
But you will not always be,
But I think I had better leave you
While your thoughts are kind of me.
I know my beauty is fading -
Sin furrows the fairest brow -
And I know that your heart will weary
Of the face you smile on now.
You will take a bride to your bosom
After you turn from me;
You will sit with your wife in the moonlight,
And bold her babe on your knee.
O God! I never could bear it;
It would madden my brain, I know;
And so while you love me dearly
I think I had better go.
It is sweeter to feel, my darling -
To know as I fall asleep -
That some one will mourn me and miss me,
That some one is left to weep,
Than to die as I should in the future,
To drop in the street some day,
Unknown, unwept, and forgotten
After you cast me away.
Perhaps the blood of the Saviour
Can wash my garments clean;
Perchance I may drink of the waters
That flow through pastures green.
Perchance we may meet in heaven,
And walk in the streets above,
With nothing to grieve us or part us
Since our sinning was all through love
God says, "Love one another,"
And down to the depths of hell
Will He send the soul of a woman
Because she loved--and fell?
* * *
And so in the moonlight he found her,
Or found her beautiful clay,
Lifeless and pallid as marble,
For the spirit had flown away.
The farewell words she had written
She held to her cold, white breast,
And the buried blade of a dagger
Told how she had gone to rest.
THE PRINCESS'S FINGER-NAIL: A TALE OF NONSENSE LAND
All through the Castle of High-bred Ease,
Where the chief employment was do-as-you-please,
Spread consternation and wild despair.
The queen was wringing her hands and hair;
The maids of honour were sad and solemn;
The pages looked blank as they stood in column;
The court-jester blubbered, "Boo-hoo, boo-hoo"
The cook in the kitchen dropped tears in the stew
And all through the castle went sob and wail,
For the princess had broken her finger-nail:
The beautiful Princess Red-as-a-Rose,
Bride-elect of the Lord High-Nose,
Broken her finger-nail down to the quick -
No wonder the queen and her court were sick.
Never sorrow so dread before
Had dared to enter that castle door.
Oh! what would my Lord His-High-Nose say
When she took off her glove on her wedding-day?
The fairest princess in Nonsense Land,
With a broken finger-nail on her hand!
'Twas a terrible, terrible accident,
And they called a meeting of parliament;
And never before that royal Court
Had come such question of grave import
As "How could you hurry a nail to grow?"
And the skill of the kingdom was called to show.
They sent for Monsieur File-'em-off;
He smoothed down the corners so ragged and rough.
They sent for Madame la Diamond-Dust,
Who lived on the fingers of upper-crust;
They sent for Professor de Chamois-Skin,
Who took her powder and rubbed it in;
They sent for the pudgy nurse Fat-on-the-Bone
To bathe her finger in eau-de-Cologne;
And they called the court surgeon, Monsieur Red-Tape,
To hear what he thought of the new nail's shape,
Over the kingdom the telegrams flew
Which told how the finger-nail thrived and grew;
And all through the realm of Nonsense Land
They offered up prayers for the princess's hand.
At length the glad tidings were heard with a shout
What the princess's finger-nail had grown out:
Pointed and polished and pink and clean,
Befitting the hand of a some-day queen.
Salutes were fired all over the land
By the home-guard battery pop-gun band;
And great was the joy of my Lord High-Nose,
Who straightway ordered his wedding clothes,
And paid his tailor, Don Wait-for-aye,
Who died of amazement the self-same day.
My lord by a jury was judged insane;
For they said--and the truth of the saying was plain -
That a lord of such very high pedigree
Would never be paying his bills, you see,
Unless he was out of his head; and so
They locked him up without more ado.
And the beautiful Princess Red-as-a-Rose
Pined for her lover, my Lord High-Nose,
Till she entered a convent and took the veil -
And this is the end of my nonsense tale.
A BABY IN THE HOUSE
I knew that a baby was hid in the house;
Though I saw no cradle and heard no cry,
But the husband went tiptoeing round like a mouse,
And the good wife was humming a soft lullaby;
And there was a look on the face of that mother
That I knew could mean only ONE thing, and no other.
"The MOTHER," I said to myself; for I knew
That the woman before me was certainly that,
For there lay in the corner a tiny cloth shoe,
And I saw on the stand such a wee little hat;
And the beard of the husband said plain as could be,
"Two fat, chubby hands have been tugging at me."
And he took from his pocket a gay picture-book,
And a dog that would bark if you pulled on a string;
And the wife laid them up with such a pleased look;
And I said to myself, "There is no other thing
But a babe that could bring about all this, and so
That one is in hiding here somewhere, I know."
I stayed but a moment, and saw nothing more,
And heard not a sound, yet I knew I was right;
What else could the shoe mean that lay on the floor,
The book and the toy, and the faces so bright?
And what made the husband as still as a mouse?
I am sure, VERY sure, there's a babe in that house.
THE FOOLISH ELM
The bold young Autumn came riding along
One day where an elm-tree grew.
"You are fair," he said, as she bent down her head,
"Too fair for your robe's dull hue.
You are far too young for a garb so old;
Your beauty needs colour and sheen.
Oh, I would clothe you in scarlet and gold
Befitting the grace of a queen.
"For one little kiss on your lips, sweet elm,
For one little kiss, no more,
I would give you, I swear, a robe more fair
Than ever a princess wore.
One little kiss on those lips, my pet,
And lo! you shall stand, I say,
Queen of the forest, and, better yet,
Queen of my heart alway."
She tossed her head, but he took the kiss -
'Tis the way of lovers bold -
And a gorgeous dress for that sweet caress
He gave ere the morning was old.
For a week and a day she ruled a queen
In beauty and splendid attire;
For a week and a day she was loved, I ween,
With the love that is born of desire.
Then bold-eyed Autumn went on his way
In search of a tree more fair;
And mob-winds tattered her garments and scattered
Her finery here and there.
Poor and faded and ragged and cold
She rocked in her wild distress,
And longed for the dull green gown she had sold
For her fickle lover's caress.
And the days went by and Winter came,
And his tyrannous tempests beat
On the shivering tree, whose robes of flame
He had trampled under his feet.
I saw her reach up to the mocking skies
Her poor arms, bare and thin;
Ah, well-a-day! it is ever the way
With a woman who trades with sin.
What do you think Red Robin
Found by a mow of hay?
Why, a flask brimful of liquor,
That the mowers brought that day
To slake their thirst in the hayfield.
And Robin he shook his head:
"Now I wonder what they call it,
And how it tastes?" he said.
"I have seen the mowers drink it -
Why isn't it good for me?
So I'll just draw out the stopper
And get at the stuff, and see!"
But alas! for the curious Robin,
One draught, and he burned his throat
From his bill to his poor crop's lining,
And he could not utter a note.
And his head grew light and dizzy,
And he staggered left and right,
Tipped over the flask of brandy,
And spilled it, every mite.
But after awhile he sobered,
And quietly flew away,
And he never has tasted liquor,
Or touched it, since that day.
But I heard him say to his kindred,
In the course of a friendly chat,
"These men think they are above us,
Yet they drink such stuff as that!
Oh, the poor degraded creatures!
I am glad I am only a bird!"
Then he flew up over the meadow,
And that was all I heard.
NEW YEAR RESOLVE
As the dead year is clasped by a dead December,
So let your dead sins with your dead days lie.
A new life is yours and a new hope. Remember
We build our own ladders to climb to the sky.
Stand out in the sunlight of promise, forgetting
Whatever the past held of sorrow and wrong.
We waste half our strength in a useless regretting;
We sit by old tombs in the dark too long.
Have you missed in your aim? Well, the mark is still shining.
Did you faint in the race? Well, take breath for the next.
Did the clouds drive you back? But see yonder their lining.
Were you tempted and fell? Let it serve for a text.
As each year hurries by, let it join that procession
Of skeleton shapes that march down to the past,
While you take your place in the line of progression,
With your eyes to the heavens, your face to the blast.
I tell you the future can hold no terrors
For any sad soul while the stars revolve,
If he will stand firm on the grave of his errors,
And instead of regretting--resolve, resolve!
It is never too late to begin rebuilding,
Though all into ruins your life seems hurled;
For see! how the light of the New Year is gilding
The wan, worn face of the bruised old world.
WHAT WE WANT
All hail the dawn of a new day breaking,
When a strong-armed nation shall take away
The weary burdens from backs that are aching
With maximum labour and minimum pay;
When no man is honoured who hoards his millions;
When no man feasts on another's toil;
And God's poor suffering, striving billions
Shall share His riches of sun and soil.
There is gold for all in the earth's broad bosom,
There is food for all in the land's great store;
Enough is provided if rightly divided;
Let each man take what he needs--no more.
Shame on the miser with unused riches,
Who robs the toiler to swell his hoard,
Who beats down the wage of the digger of ditches,
And steals the bread from the poor man's board.
Shame on the owner of mines whose cruel
And selfish measures have brought him wealth,
While the ragged wretches who dig his fuel
Are robbed of comfort and hope and health.
Shame on the ruler who rides in his carriage
Bought with the labour of half-paid men -
Men who are shut out of home and marriage
And are herded like sheep in a hovel-pen.
Let the clarion voice of the nation wake him
To broader vision and fairer play;
Or let the hand of a just law shake him
Till his ill-gained dollars shall roll away.
Let no man dwell under a mountain of plunder,
Let no man suffer with want and cold;
We want right living, not mere alms-giving;
We want just dividing of labour and gold.
BREAKING THE DAY IN TWO
When from dawn till noon seems one long day,
And from noon till night another,
Oh, then should a little boy come from play,
And creep into the arms of his mother.
Snugly creep and fall asleep,
Oh, come, my baby, do;
Creep into my lap, and with a nap
We'll break the day in two.
When the shadows slant for afternoon,
When the midday meal is over,
When the winds have sung themselves into a swoon,
And the bees drone in the clover,
Then hie to me, hie, for a lullaby -
Come, my baby, do;
Creep into my lap, and with a nap
We'll break the day in two.
We'll break it in two with a crooning song,
With a soft and soothing number;
For the day has no right to be so long
And keep my baby from slumber.
Then rock-a-by, rock, may white dreams flock
Like angels over you;
Baby's gone, and the deed is done,
We've broken the day in two.
THE RAPE OF THE MIST
High o'er the clouds a Sunbeam shone,
And far down under him,
With a subtle grace that was all her own,
The Mist gleamed, fair and dim.
He looked at her with his burning eyes
And longed to fall at her feet;
Of all sweet things there under the skies,
He thought her the thing most sweet.
He had wooed oft, as a Sunbeam may,
Wave, and blossom, and flower;
But never before had he felt the sway
Of a great love's mighty power.
Tall cloud-mountains and vast space-seas,
Wind, and tempest, and fire -
What are obstacles such as these
To a heart that is filled with desire?
Boldly he trod over cloud and star,
Boldly he swam through space,
She caught the glow of his eyes afar
And veiled her delicate face.
He was so strong and he was so bright,
And his breath was a breath of flame;
The Mist grew pale with a vague, strange fright,
As fond, yet fierce, he came.
Close to his heart she was clasped and kissed;
She swooned in love's alarms,
And dead lay the beautiful pale-faced Mist
In the Sunbeam's passionate arms.
THE TWO GLASSES
There sat two glasses, filled to the brim,
On a rich man's table, rim to rim.
One was ruddy and red as blood,
And one was as clear as the crystal flood.
Said the glass of wine to his paler brother:
"Let us tell tales of the past to each other.
I can tell of banquet, and revel, and mirth,
Where I was king, for I ruled in might;
And the proudest and grandest souls on earth
Fell under my touch, as though struck with blight.
From the heads of kings I have torn the crown;
From the heights of fame I have hurled men down;
I have blasted many an honoured name;
I have taken virtue and given shame;
I have tempted the youth, with a sip, a taste,
That has made his future a barren waste.
Far greater than any king am I,
Or than any army under the sky.
I have made the arm of the driver fail,
And sent the train from its iron rail.
I have made good ships go down at sea,
And the shrieks of the lost were sweet to me.
Fame, strength, wealth, genius, before me fall,
And my might and power are over all.
Ho! ho! pale brother," laughed the wine,
"Can you boast of deeds as great as mine?"
Said the glass of water: "I cannot boast
Of a king dethroned or a murdered host;
But I can tell of hearts that were sad,
By my crystal drops made light and glad;
Of thirsts I have quenched, and brows I have laved;
Of hands I have cooled and souls I have saved.
I have leaped through the valley and dashed down the mountain;
Slept in the sunshine and dripped from the fountain.
I have burst my cloud-fetters and dropped from the sky,
And everywhere gladdened the landscape and eye.
I have eased the hot forehead of fever and pain;
I have made the parched meadows grow fertile with grain;
I can tell of the powerful wheel o' the mill,
That ground out the flour and turned at my will;
I can tell of manhood, debased by you,
That I have uplifted and crowned anew.
I cheer, I help, I strengthen and aid,
I gladden the heart of man and maid;
I set the chained wine-captive free,
And all are better for knowing me."
These are the tales they told each other,
The glass of wine and its paler brother,
As they sat together, filled to the brim,
On the rich man's table, rim to rim.
I saw them sitting in the shade;
The long green vines hung over,
But could not hide the gold-haired maid
And Earl, my dark-eyed lover.
His arm was clasped so close, so close,
Her eyes were softly lifted,
While his eyes drank the cheek of rose
And breasts like snowflakes drifted.
A strange noise sounded in my brain;
I was a guest unbidden.
I stole away, but came again
With two knives snugly hidden.
I stood behind them. Close they kissed,
While eye to eye was speaking;
I aimed my steels, and neither missed
The heart I sent it seeking.
There were two death-shrieks mingled so
It seemed like one voice crying,
I laughed--it was such bliss, you know,
To hear and see them dying.
I laughed and shouted while I stood
Above the lovers, gazing
Upon the trickling rills of blood
And frightened eyes fast glazing.
It was such joy to see the rose
Fade from her cheek for ever;
To know the lips he kissed so close
Could answer never, never.
To see his arm grow stark and cold,
And know it could not hold her;
To know that while the world grew old
His eyes could not behold her.
A crowd of people thronged about,
Brought thither by my laughter;
I gave one last triumphant shout -
Then darkness followed after.
That was a thousand years ago;
Each hour I live it over,
For there, just out of reach, you know,
SHE lies, with Earl, my lover.
They lie there, staring, staring so
With great, glazed eyes to taunt me.
Will no one bury them down low,
Where they shall cease to haunt me?
He kissed her lips, not mine; the flowers
And vines hung all about them.
Sometimes I sit and laugh for hours
To think just how I found them.
And then I sometimes stand and shriek
In agony of terror:
I see the red warm in her cheek,
Then laugh loud at my error.
My cheek was all too pale, he thought;
He deemed hers far the brightest.
Ha! but my dagger touched a spot
That made HER face the whitest!
But oh! the days seem very long,
Without my Earl, my lover;
And something in my head seems wrong
The more I think it over.
Ah! look--she is not dead--look there!
She's standing close beside me!
Her eyes are open--how they stare!
Oh, hide me! hide me! hide me!
WHAT IS FLIRTATION?
What is flirtation? Really,
How can I tell you that?
But when she smiles I see its wiles,
And when he lifts his hat.
'Tis walking in the moonlight,
'Tis buttoning on a glove,
'Tis lips that speak of plays next week,
While eyes are talking love.
'Tis meeting in the ball-room,
'Tis whirling in the dance;
'Tis something hid beneath the lid
More than a simple glance.
'Tis lingering in the hallway,
'Tis sitting on the stair,
'Tis bearded lips on finger-tips,
If mamma isn't there.
'Tis tucking in the carriage,
'Tis asking for a call;
'Tis long good-nights in tender lights,
And that is--no, not all!
'Tis parting when it's over,
And one goes home to sleep;
Best joys must end, tra la, my friend,
But one goes home to weep!
HUSBAND AND WIFE
Reach out your arms, and hold me close and fast,
Tell me you have no memories of your past
That mar this love of ours, so great, so vast.
Some truths are cheapened when too oft averred -
Does not the deed speak louder than the word?
(Dear Christ! that old dream woke again and stirred.)
As you love me, you never loved before?
Though oft you say it--say it yet once more;
My heart is jealous of those days of yore.
Sweet wife, dear comrade, mother of my child,
My life is yours, by memory undefiled.
(It stirs again, that passion brief and wild.)
You never knew such happy hours as this,
We two alone, our hearts surcharged with bliss,
Nor other kisses sweet as my own kiss?
I was the thirsty field, long parched with drouth,
You were the warm rain blowing from the South.
(But oh! the crimson madness of her mouth.)
You would not, if you could, go down life's track
For just one little moment, and bring back
Some vanished raptures that you miss or lack?
I am content. You are my life, my all.
(One burning hour, but one, could I recall.
God! how men lie, when driven to the wall!)
HOW DOES LOVE SPEAK?
How does Love speak?
In the faint flush upon the tell-tale cheek,
And in the pallor that succeeds it; by
The quivering lid of an averted eye -
The smile that proves the parent of a sigh:
Thus doth Love speak.
How does Love speak?
By the uneven heart-throbs, and the freak
Of bounding pulses that stand still and ache
While new emotions, like strange barges, make
Along vein-channels their disturbing course,
Still as the dawn, and with the dawn's swift force:
Thus doth Love speak.
How does Love speak?
In the avoidance of that which we seek
The sudden silence and reserve when near;
The eye that glistens with an unshed tear;
The joy that seems the counterpart of fear,
As the alarmed heart leads in the breast,
And knows, and names, and greets its godlike guest:
Thus doth Love speak.
How does Love speak?
In the proud spirit suddenly grown meek,
The haughty heart grown humble; in the tender
And unnamed light that floods the world with splendour;
In the resemblance which the fond eyes trace
In all fair things to one beloved face;
In the shy touch of hands that thrill and tremble;
In looks and lips that can no more dissemble:
Thus doth Love speak.
How does Love speak?
In wild words that uttered seem so weak
They shrink ashamed to silence; in the fire
Glance strikes with glance, swift flashing high and higher,
Like lightnings that precede the mighty storm
In the deep, soulful stillness; in the warm,
Impassioned tide that sweeps thro' throbbing veins,
Between the shores of keen delights and pains;
In the embrace where madness melts in bliss,
And in the convulsive rapture of a kiss:
Thus doth Love speak.
He slept as weary toilers do,
She gazed up at the moon.
He stirred and said, "Wife, come to bed";
She answered, "Soon, full soon."
(Oh! that strange mystery of the dead moon's face.)
Her cheek was wan, her wistful mouth
Was lifted like a cup,
The moonful night dripped liquid light:
She seemed to quaff it up.
(Oh! that unburied corpse that lies in space.)
Her life had held but drudgery -
She spelled her Bible thro';
Of books and lore she knew no more
Than little children do.
(Oh! the weird wonder of that pallid sphere.)
Her youth had been a loveless waste,
Starred by no holiday.
And she had wed for roof, and bread;
She gave her work in pay.
(Oh! the moon-memories, vague and strange and dear.)
She drank the night's insidious wine,
And saw another scene:
A stately room--rare flowers in bloom,
Herself in silken sheen.
(Oh! vast the chambers of the moon, and wide.)
A step drew near, a curtain stirred;
She shook with sweet alarms.
Oh! splendid face; oh! manly grace;
Oh! strong impassioned arms.