Part 2 out of 2
And square Pummerie.
The Nine-Pillared Cromlech, the Bride-streams,
The Axe, and the Otter
I passed, to the gate of the city
Where Exe scents the sea;
Till, spent, in the graveacre pausing,
I learnt 'twas not my Love
To whom Mother Church had just murmured
A last lullaby.
- "Then, where dwells the Canon's kinswoman,
My friend of aforetime?"--
('Twas hard to repress my heart-heavings
And new ecstasy.)
"She wedded."--"Ah!"--"Wedded beneath her -
She keeps the stage-hostel
Ten miles hence, beside the great Highway -
The famed Lions-Three.
"Her spouse was her lackey--no option
'Twixt wedlock and worse things;
A lapse over-sad for a lady
Of her pedigree!"
I shuddered, said nothing, and wandered
To shades of green laurel:
Too ghastly had grown those first tidings
So brightsome of blee!
For, on my ride hither, I'd halted
Awhile at the Lions,
And her--her whose name had once opened
My heart as a key--
I'd looked on, unknowing, and witnessed
Her jests with the tapsters,
Her liquor-fired face, her thick accents
In naming her fee.
"O God, why this seeming derision!"
I cried in my anguish:
"O once Loved, O fair Unforgotten -
That Thing--meant it thee!
"Inurned and at peace, lost but sainted,
Were grief I could compass;
Depraved--'tis for Christ's poor dependent
A cruel decree!"
I backed on the Highway; but passed not
The hostel. Within there
Too mocking to Love's re-expression
Was Time's repartee!
Uptracking where Legions had wayfared,
By cromlechs unstoried,
And lynchets, and sepultured Chieftains,
A feeling stirred in me and strengthened
That SHE was not my Love,
But she of the garth, who lay rapt in
Her long reverie.
And thence till to-day I persuade me
That this was the true one;
That Death stole intact her young dearness
Frail-witted, illuded they call me;
I may be. 'Tis better
To dream than to own the debasement
Of sweet Cicely.
Moreover I rate it unseemly
To hold that kind Heaven
Could work such device--to her ruin
And my misery.
So, lest I disturb my choice vision,
I shun the West Highway,
Even now, when the knaps ring with rhythms
From blackbird and bee;
And feel that with slumber half-conscious
She rests in the church-hay,
Her spirit unsoiled as in youth-time
When lovers were we.
Upon a noon I pilgrimed through
A pasture, mile by mile,
Unto the place where I last saw
My dead Love's living smile.
And sorrowing I lay me down
Upon the heated sod:
It seemed as if my body pressed
The very ground she trod.
I lay, and thought; and in a trance
She came and stood me by--
The same, even to the marvellous ray
That used to light her eye.
"You draw me, and I come to you,
My faithful one," she said,
In voice that had the moving tone
It bore ere breath had fled.
She said: "'Tis seven years since I died:
Few now remember me;
My husband clasps another bride;
My children's love has she.
"My brethren, sisters, and my friends
Care not to meet my sprite:
Who prized me most I did not know
Till I passed down from sight."
I said: "My days are lonely here;
I need thy smile alway:
I'll use this night my ball or blade,
And join thee ere the day."
A tremor stirred her tender lips,
Which parted to dissuade:
"That cannot be, O friend," she cried;
"Think, I am but a Shade!
"A Shade but in its mindful ones
By living, me you keep alive,
By dying you slay me.
"In you resides my single power
Of sweet continuance here;
On your fidelity I count
Through many a coming year."
- I started through me at her plight,
So suddenly confessed:
Dismissing late distaste for life,
I craved its bleak unrest.
"I will not die, my One of all! -
To lengthen out thy days
I'll guard me from minutest harms
That may invest my ways!"
She smiled and went. Since then she comes
Oft when her birth-moon climbs,
Or at the seasons' ingresses
Or anniversary times;
But grows my grief. When I surcease,
Through whom alone lives she,
Ceases my Love, her words, her ways,
Never again to be!
I longed to love a full-boughed beech
And be as high as he:
I stretched an arm within his reach,
And signalled unity.
But with his drip he forced a breach,
And tried to poison me.
I gave the grasp of partnership
To one of other race--
A plane: he barked him strip by strip
From upper bough to base;
And me therewith; for gone my grip,
My arms could not enlace.
In new affection next I strove
To coll an ash I saw,
And he in trust received my love;
Till with my soft green claw
I cramped and bound him as I wove . . .
Such was my love: ha-ha!
By this I gained his strength and height
Without his rivalry.
But in my triumph I lost sight
Of afterhaps. Soon he,
Being bark-bound, flagged, snapped, fell outright,
And in his fall felled me!
A MEETING WITH DESPAIR
As evening shaped I found me on a moor
Which sight could scarce sustain:
The black lean land, of featureless contour,
Was like a tract in pain.
"This scene, like my own life," I said, "is one
Where many glooms abide;
Toned by its fortune to a deadly dun -
Lightless on every side.
I glanced aloft and halted, pleasure-caught
To see the contrast there:
The ray-lit clouds gleamed glory; and I thought,
"There's solace everywhere!"
Then bitter self-reproaches as I stood
I dealt me silently
As one perverse--misrepresenting Good
In graceless mutiny.
Against the horizon's dim-discerned wheel
A form rose, strange of mould:
That he was hideous, hopeless, I could feel
Rather than could behold.
"'Tis a dead spot, where even the light lies spent
To darkness!" croaked the Thing.
"Not if you look aloft!" said I, intent
On my new reasoning.
"Yea--but await awhile!" he cried. "Ho-ho! -
Look now aloft and see!"
I looked. There, too, sat night: Heaven's radiant show
Had gone. Then chuckled he.
When, soul in soul reflected,
We breathed an aethered air,
When we neglected
All things elsewhere,
And left the friendly friendless
To keep our love aglow,
We deemed it endless . . .
--We did not know!
When, by mad passion goaded,
We planned to hie away,
The storm-shafts gray
So heavily down-pattered
That none could forthward go,
Our lives seemed shattered . . .
--We did not know!
When I found you, helpless lying,
And you waived my deep misprise,
And swore me, dying,
To wing to me when grieving,
And touch away my woe,
We kissed, believing . . .
--We did not know!
But though, your powers outreckoning,
You hold you dead and dumb,
Or scorn my beckoning,
And will not come;
And I say, "'Twere mood ungainly
To store her memory so:"
I say it vainly -
I feel and know!
William Dewy, Tranter Reuben, Farmer Ledlow late at plough,
Robert's kin, and John's, and Ned's,
And the Squire, and Lady Susan, lie in Mellstock churchyard now!
"Gone," I call them, gone for good, that group of local hearts and
Yet at mothy curfew-tide,
And at midnight when the noon-heat breathes it back from walls and
They've a way of whispering to me--fellow-wight who yet abide -
In the muted, measured note
Of a ripple under archways, or a lone cave's stillicide:
"We have triumphed: this achievement turns the bane to antidote,
Unsuccesses to success,
- Many thought-worn eves and morrows to a morrow free of thought.
"No more need we corn and clothing, feel of old terrestrial stress;
Chill detraction stirs no sigh;
Fear of death has even bygone us: death gave all that we possess."
W. D.--"Ye mid burn the wold bass-viol that I set such vallie by."
Squire.--"You may hold the manse in fee,
You may wed my spouse, my children's memory of me may decry."
Lady.--"You may have my rich brocades, my laces; take each household
Ransack coffer, desk, bureau;
Quiz the few poor treasures hid there, con the letters kept by me."
Far.--"Ye mid zell my favourite heifer, ye mid let the charlock grow,
Foul the grinterns, give up thrift."
Wife.--"If ye break my best blue china, children, I shan't care or
All. --"We've no wish to hear the tidings, how the people's fortunes
What your daily doings are;
Who are wedded, born, divided; if your lives beat slow or swift.
"Curious not the least are we if our intents you make or mar,
If you quire to our old tune,
If the City stage still passes, if the weirs still roar afar."
- Thus, with very gods' composure, freed those crosses late and soon
Which, in life, the Trine allow
(Why, none witteth), and ignoring all that haps beneath the moon,
William Dewy, Tranter Reuben, Farmer Ledlow late at plough,
Robert's kin, and John's, and Ned's,
And the Squire, and Lady Susan, murmur mildly to me now.
TO OUTER NATURE
Show thee as I thought thee
When I early sought thee,
Love alone had wrought thee -
Wrought thee for my pleasure,
Planned thee as a measure
Glad things that men treasure.
O for but a moment
Of that old endowment -
Light to gaily
See thy daily
But such re-adorning
Time forbids with scorning -
Makes me see things
Cease to be things
They were in my morning.
Fad'st thou, glow-forsaken,
Thy first sweetness,
None shall re-awaken.
Why not sempiternal
Thou and I? Our vernal
Passed the hodiernal!
THOUGHTS OF PHENA
AT NEWS OF HER DEATH
Not a line of her writing have I,
Not a thread of her hair,
No mark of her late time as dame in her dwelling, whereby
I may picture her there;
And in vain do I urge my unsight
To conceive my lost prize
At her close, whom I knew when her dreams were upbrimming with light,
And with laughter her eyes.
What scenes spread around her last days,
Sad, shining, or dim?
Did her gifts and compassions enray and enarch her sweet ways
With an aureate nimb?
Or did life-light decline from her years,
And mischances control
Her full day-star; unease, or regret, or forebodings, or fears
Disennoble her soul?
Thus I do but the phantom retain
Of the maiden of yore
As my relic; yet haply the best of her--fined in my brain
It maybe the more
That no line of her writing have I,
Nor a thread of her hair,
No mark of her late time as dame in her dwelling, whereby
I may picture her there.
To M. H.
We passed where flag and flower
Signalled a jocund throng;
We said: "Go to, the hour
Is apt!"--and joined the song;
And, kindling, laughed at life and care,
Although we knew no laugh lay there.
We walked where shy birds stood
Watching us, wonder-dumb;
Their friendship met our mood;
We cried: "We'll often come:
We'll come morn, noon, eve, everywhen!"
- We doubted we should come again.
We joyed to see strange sheens
Leap from quaint leaves in shade;
A secret light of greens
They'd for their pleasure made.
We said: "We'll set such sorts as these!"
- We knew with night the wish would cease.
"So sweet the place," we said,
"Its tacit tales so dear,
Our thoughts, when breath has sped,
Will meet and mingle here!" . . .
"Words!" mused we. "Passed the mortal door,
Our thoughts will reach this nook no more."
IN A WOOD
See "THE WOODLANDERS"
Pale beech and pine-tree blue,
Set in one clay,
Bough to bough cannot you
Bide out your day?
When the rains skim and skip,
Why mar sweet comradeship,
Blighting with poison-drip
Heart-halt and spirit-lame,
Unto this wood I came
As to a nest;
Dreaming that sylvan peace
Offered the harrowed ease--
Nature a soft release
From men's unrest.
But, having entered in,
Great growths and small
Show them to men akin -
Sycamore shoulders oak,
Bines the slim sapling yoke,
Ivy-spun halters choke
Elms stout and tall.
Touches from ash, O wych,
Sting you like scorn!
You, too, brave hollies, twitch
Sidelong from thorn.
Even the rank poplars bear
Illy a rival's air,
Cankering in black despair
Since, then, no grace I find
Taught me of trees,
Turn I back to my kind,
Worthy as these.
There at least smiles abound,
There discourse trills around,
There, now and then, are found
TO A LADY
OFFENDED BY A BOOK OF THE WRITER'S
Now that my page upcloses, doomed, maybe,
Never to press thy cosy cushions more,
Or wake thy ready Yeas as heretofore,
Or stir thy gentle vows of faith in me:
Knowing thy natural receptivity,
I figure that, as flambeaux banish eve,
My sombre image, warped by insidious heave
Of those less forthright, must lose place in thee.
So be it. I have borne such. Let thy dreams
Of me and mine diminish day by day,
And yield their space to shine of smugger things;
Till I shape to thee but in fitful gleams,
And then in far and feeble visitings,
And then surcease. Truth will be truth alway.
TO AN ORPHAN CHILD
Ah, child, thou art but half thy darling mother's;
Hers couldst thou wholly be,
My light in thee would outglow all in others;
She would relive to me.
But niggard Nature's trick of birth
Bars, lest she overjoy,
Renewal of the loved on earth
Save with alloy.
The Dame has no regard, alas, my maiden,
For love and loss like mine -
No sympathy with mind-sight memory-laden;
Only with fickle eyne.
To her mechanic artistry
My dreams are all unknown,
And why I wish that thou couldst be
But One's alone!
When I look forth at dawning, pool,
Field, flock, and lonely tree,
All seem to gaze at me
Like chastened children sitting silent in a school;
Their faces dulled, constrained, and worn,
As though the master's ways
Through the long teaching days
Their first terrestrial zest had chilled and overborne.
And on them stirs, in lippings mere
(As if once clear in call,
But now scarce breathed at all) -
"We wonder, ever wonder, why we find us here!
"Has some Vast Imbecility,
Mighty to build and blend,
But impotent to tend,
Framed us in jest, and left us now to hazardry?
"Or come we of an Automaton
Unconscious of our pains? . . .
Or are we live remains
Of Godhead dying downwards, brain and eye now gone?
"Or is it that some high Plan betides,
As yet not understood,
Of Evil stormed by Good,
We the Forlorn Hope over which Achievement strides?"
Thus things around. No answerer I . . .
Meanwhile the winds, and rains,
And Earth's old glooms and pains
Are still the same, and gladdest Life Death neighbours nigh.
(AT A CATHEDRAL SERVICE)
That from this bright believing band
An outcast I should be,
That faiths by which my comrades stand
Seem fantasies to me,
And mirage-mists their Shining Land,
Is a drear destiny.
Why thus my soul should be consigned
Why always I must feel as blind
To sights my brethren see,
Why joys they've found I cannot find,
Abides a mystery.
Since heart of mine knows not that ease
Which they know; since it be
That He who breathes All's Well to these
Breathes no All's-Well to me,
My lack might move their sympathies
And Christian charity!
I am like a gazer who should mark
An inland company
Standing upfingered, with, "Hark! hark!
The glorious distant sea!"
And feel, "Alas, 'tis but yon dark
And wind-swept pine to me!"
Yet I would bear my shortcomings
With meet tranquillity,
But for the charge that blessed things
I'd liefer have unbe.
O, doth a bird deprived of wings
Go earth-bound wilfully!
* * *
Enough. As yet disquiet clings
About us. Rest shall we.
AT AN INN
When we as strangers sought
Their catering care,
Veiled smiles bespoke their thought
Of what we were.
They warmed as they opined
Us more than friends -
That we had all resigned
For love's dear ends.
And that swift sympathy
With living love
Which quicks the world--maybe
The spheres above,
Made them our ministers,
Moved them to say,
"Ah, God, that bliss like theirs
Would flush our day!"
And we were left alone
As Love's own pair;
Yet never the love-light shone
Between us there!
But that which chilled the breath
And palsied unto death
The pane-fly's tune.
The kiss their zeal foretold,
And now deemed come,
Came not: within his hold
Why cast he on our port
A bloom not ours?
Why shaped us for his sport
As we seemed we were not
That day afar,
And now we seem not what
We aching are.
O severing sea and land,
O laws of men,
Ere death, once let us stand
As we stood then!
THE SLOW NATURE
(AN INCIDENT OF FROOM VALLEY)
"Thy husband--poor, poor Heart!--is dead--
Dead, out by Moreford Rise;
A bull escaped the barton-shed,
Gored him, and there he lies!"
- "Ha, ha--go away! 'Tis a tale, methink,
Thou joker Kit!" laughed she.
"I've known thee many a year, Kit Twink,
And ever hast thou fooled me!"
- "But, Mistress Damon--I can swear
Thy goodman John is dead!
And soon th'lt hear their feet who bear
His body to his bed."
So unwontedly sad was the merry man's face -
That face which had long deceived -
That she gazed and gazed; and then could trace
The truth there; and she believed.
She laid a hand on the dresser-ledge,
And scanned far Egdon-side;
And stood; and you heard the wind-swept sedge
And the rippling Froom; till she cried:
"O my chamber's untidied, unmade my bed
Though the day has begun to wear!
'What a slovenly hussif!' it will be said,
When they all go up my stair!"
She disappeared; and the joker stood
Depressed by his neighbour's doom,
And amazed that a wife struck to widowhood
Thought first of her unkempt room.
But a fortnight thence she could take no food,
And she pined in a slow decay;
While Kit soon lost his mournful mood
And laughed in his ancient way.
IN A EWELEAZE NEAR WEATHERBURY
The years have gathered grayly
Since I danced upon this leaze
With one who kindled gaily
Love's fitful ecstasies!
But despite the term as teacher,
I remain what I was then
In each essential feature
Of the fantasies of men.
Yet I note the little chisel
Of never-napping Time,
Defacing ghast and grizzel
The blazon of my prime.
When at night he thinks me sleeping,
I feel him boring sly
Within my bones, and heaping
Quaintest pains for by-and-by.
Still, I'd go the world with Beauty,
I would laugh with her and sing,
I would shun divinest duty
To resume her worshipping.
But she'd scorn my brave endeavour,
She would not balm the breeze
By murmuring "Thine for ever!"
As she did upon this leaze.
THE FIRE AT TRANTER SWEATLEY'S
They had long met o' Zundays--her true love and she -
And at junketings, maypoles, and flings;
But she bode wi' a thirtover uncle, and he
Swore by noon and by night that her goodman should be
Naibour Sweatley--a gaffer oft weak at the knee
From taking o' sommat more cheerful than tea -
Who tranted, and moved people's things.
She cried, "O pray pity me!" Nought would he hear;
Then with wild rainy eyes she obeyed.
She chid when her Love was for clinking off wi' her.
The pa'son was told, as the season drew near
To throw over pu'pit the names of the peair
As fitting one flesh to be made.
The wedding-day dawned and the morning drew on;
The couple stood bridegroom and bride;
The evening was passed, and when midnight had gone
The folks horned out, "God save the King," and anon
The two home-along gloomily hied.
The lover Tim Tankens mourned heart-sick and drear
To be thus of his darling deprived:
He roamed in the dark ath'art field, mound, and mere,
And, a'most without knowing it, found himself near
The house of the tranter, and now of his Dear,
Where the lantern-light showed 'em arrived.
The bride sought her cham'er so calm and so pale
That a Northern had thought her resigned;
But to eyes that had seen her in tide-times of weal,
Like the white cloud o' smoke, the red battle-field's vail,
That look spak' of havoc behind.
The bridegroom yet laitered a beaker to drain,
Then reeled to the linhay for more,
When the candle-snoff kindled some chaff from his grain -
Flames spread, and red vlankers, wi' might and wi' main,
And round beams, thatch, and chimley-tun roar.
Young Tim away yond, rafted up by the light,
Through brimble and underwood tears,
Till he comes to the orchet, when crooping thereright
In the lewth of a codlin-tree, bivering wi' fright,
Wi' on'y her night-rail to screen her from sight,
His lonesome young Barbree appears.
Her cwold little figure half-naked he views
Played about by the frolicsome breeze,
Her light-tripping totties, her ten little tooes,
All bare and besprinkled wi' Fall's chilly dews,
While her great gallied eyes, through her hair hanging loose,
Sheened as stars through a tardle o' trees.
She eyed en; and, as when a weir-hatch is drawn,
Her tears, penned by terror afore,
With a rushing of sobs in a shower were strawn,
Till her power to pour 'em seemed wasted and gone
From the heft o' misfortune she bore.
"O Tim, my OWN Tim I must call 'ee--I will!
All the world ha' turned round on me so!
Can you help her who loved 'ee, though acting so ill?
Can you pity her misery--feel for her still?
When worse than her body so quivering and chill
Is her heart in its winter o' woe!
"I think I mid almost ha' borne it," she said,
"Had my griefs one by one come to hand;
But O, to be slave to thik husbird for bread,
And then, upon top o' that, driven to wed,
And then, upon top o' that, burnt out o' bed,
Is more than my nater can stand!"
Tim's soul like a lion 'ithin en outsprung -
(Tim had a great soul when his feelings were wrung)--
"Feel for 'ee, dear Barbree?" he cried;
And his warm working-jacket about her he flung,
Made a back, horsed her up, till behind him she clung
Like a chiel on a gipsy, her figure uphung
By the sleeves that around her he tied.
Over piggeries, and mixens, and apples, and hay,
They lumpered straight into the night;
And finding bylong where a halter-path lay,
At dawn reached Tim's house, on'y seen on their way
By a naibour or two who were up wi' the day;
But they gathered no clue to the sight.
Then tender Tim Tankens he searched here and there
For some garment to clothe her fair skin;
But though he had breeches and waistcoats to spare,
He had nothing quite seemly for Barbree to wear,
Who, half shrammed to death, stood and cried on a chair
At the caddle she found herself in.
There was one thing to do, and that one thing he did,
He lent her some clouts of his own,
And she took 'em perforce; and while in 'em she slid,
Tim turned to the winder, as modesty bid,
Thinking, "O that the picter my duty keeps hid
To the sight o' my eyes mid be shown!"
In the tallet he stowed her; there huddied she lay,
Shortening sleeves, legs, and tails to her limbs;
But most o' the time in a mortal bad way,
Well knowing that there'd be the divel to pay
If 'twere found that, instead o' the elements' prey,
She was living in lodgings at Tim's.
"Where's the tranter?" said men and boys; "where can er be?"
"Where's the tranter?" said Barbree alone.
"Where on e'th is the tranter?" said everybod-y:
They sifted the dust of his perished roof-tree,
And all they could find was a bone.
Then the uncle cried, "Lord, pray have mercy on me!"
And in terror began to repent.
But before 'twas complete, and till sure she was free,
Barbree drew up her loft-ladder, tight turned her key -
Tim bringing up breakfast and dinner and tea -
Till the news of her hiding got vent.
Then followed the custom-kept rout, shout, and flare
Of a skimmington-ride through the naibourhood, ere
Folk had proof o' wold Sweatley's decay.
Whereupon decent people all stood in a stare,
Saying Tim and his lodger should risk it, and pair:
So he took her to church. An' some laughing lads there
Cried to Tim, "After Sweatley!" She said, "I declare
I stand as a maiden to-day!"
Written 1866; printed 1875.
HEIRESS AND ARCHITECT
FOR A. W. B.
She sought the Studios, beckoning to her side
An arch-designer, for she planned to build.
He was of wise contrivance, deeply skilled
In every intervolve of high and wide -
Well fit to be her guide.
"Whatever it be,"
With cold, clear voice, and cold, clear view,
"In true accord with prudent fashionings
For such vicissitudes as living brings,
And thwarting not the law of stable things,
That will I do."
"Shape me," she said, "high halls with tracery
And open ogive-work, that scent and hue
Of buds, and travelling bees, may come in through,
The note of birds, and singings of the sea,
For these are much to me."
"An idle whim!"
Broke forth from him
Whom nought could warm to gallantries:
"Cede all these buds and birds, the zephyr's call,
And scents, and hues, and things that falter all,
And choose as best the close and surly wall,
For winters freeze."
"Then frame," she cried, "wide fronts of crystal glass,
That I may show my laughter and my light -
Light like the sun's by day, the stars' by night -
Till rival heart-queens, envying, wail, 'Alas,
Her glory!' as they pass."
"O maid misled!"
He sternly said,
Whose facile foresight pierced her dire;
"Where shall abide the soul when, sick of glee,
It shrinks, and hides, and prays no eye may see?
Those house them best who house for secrecy,
For you will tire."
"A little chamber, then, with swan and dove
Ranged thickly, and engrailed with rare device
Of reds and purples, for a Paradise
Wherein my Love may greet me, I my Love,
When he shall know thereof?"
"This, too, is ill,"
He answered still,
The man who swayed her like a shade.
"An hour will come when sight of such sweet nook
Would bring a bitterness too sharp to brook,
When brighter eyes have won away his look;
For you will fade."
Then said she faintly: "O, contrive some way -
Some narrow winding turret, quite mine own,
To reach a loft where I may grieve alone!
It is a slight thing; hence do not, I pray,
This last dear fancy slay!"
"Such winding ways
Fit not your days,"
Said he, the man of measuring eye;
"I must even fashion as my rule declares,
To wit: Give space (since life ends unawares)
To hale a coffined corpse adown the stairs;
For you will die."
THE TWO MEN
There were two youths of equal age,
Wit, station, strength, and parentage;
They studied at the selfsame schools,
And shaped their thoughts by common rules.
One pondered on the life of man,
His hopes, his ending, and began
To rate the Market's sordid war
As something scarce worth living for.
"I'll brace to higher aims," said he,
"I'll further Truth and Purity;
Thereby to mend the mortal lot
And sweeten sorrow. Thrive I not,
"Winning their hearts, my kind will give
Enough that I may lowly live,
And house my Love in some dim dell,
For pleasing them and theirs so well."
Idly attired, with features wan,
In secret swift he laboured on:
Such press of power had brought much gold
Applied to things of meaner mould.
Sometimes he wished his aims had been
To gather gains like other men;
Then thanked his God he'd traced his track
Too far for wish to drag him back.
He looked from his loft one day
To where his slighted garden lay;
Nettles and hemlock hid each lawn,
And every flower was starved and gone.
He fainted in his heart, whereon
He rose, and sought his plighted one,
Resolved to loose her bond withal,
Lest she should perish in his fall.
He met her with a careless air,
As though he'd ceased to find her fair,
And said: "True love is dust to me;
I cannot kiss: I tire of thee!"
(That she might scorn him was he fain,
To put her sooner out of pain;
For incensed love breathes quick and dies,
When famished love a-lingering lies.)
Once done, his soul was so betossed,
It found no more the force it lost:
Hope was his only drink and food,
And hope extinct, decay ensued.
And, living long so closely penned,
He had not kept a single friend;
He dwindled thin as phantoms be,
And drooped to death in poverty . . .
Meantime his schoolmate had gone out
To join the fortune-finding rout;
He liked the winnings of the mart,
But wearied of the working part.
He turned to seek a privy lair,
Neglecting note of garb and hair,
And day by day reclined and thought
How he might live by doing nought.
"I plan a valued scheme," he said
To some. "But lend me of your bread,
And when the vast result looms nigh,
In profit you shall stand as I."
Yet they took counsel to restrain
Their kindness till they saw the gain;
And, since his substance now had run,
He rose to do what might be done.
He went unto his Love by night,
And said: "My Love, I faint in fight:
Deserving as thou dost a crown,
My cares shall never drag thee down."
(He had descried a maid whose line
Would hand her on much corn and wine,
And held her far in worth above
One who could only pray and love.)
But this Fair read him; whence he failed
To do the deed so blithely hailed;
He saw his projects wholly marred,
And gloom and want oppressed him hard;
Till, living to so mean an end,
Whereby he'd lost his every friend,
He perished in a pauper sty,
His mate the dying pauper nigh.
And moralists, reflecting, said,
As "dust to dust" in burial read
Was echoed from each coffin-lid,
"These men were like in all they did."
Spoken by Miss ADA REHAN at the Lyceum Theatre, July 23, 1890, at a
performance on behalf of Lady Jeune's Holiday Fund for City Children.
Before we part to alien thoughts and aims,
Permit the one brief word the occasion claims:
- When mumming and grave projects are allied,
Perhaps an Epilogue is justified.
Our under-purpose has, in truth, to-day
Commanded most our musings; least the play:
A purpose futile but for your good-will
Swiftly responsive to the cry of ill:
A purpose all too limited!--to aid
Frail human flowerets, sicklied by the shade,
In winning some short spell of upland breeze,
Or strengthening sunlight on the level leas.
Who has not marked, where the full cheek should be,
Incipient lines of lank flaccidity,
Lymphatic pallor where the pink should glow,
And where the throb of transport, pulses low? -
Most tragical of shapes from Pole to Line,
O wondering child, unwitting Time's design,
Why should Art add to Nature's quandary,
And worsen ill by thus immuring thee?
- That races do despite unto their own,
That Might supernal do indeed condone
Wrongs individual for the general ease,
Instance the proof in victims such as these.
Launched into thoroughfares too thronged before,
Mothered by those whose protest is "No more!"
Vitalized without option: who shall say
That did Life hang on choosing--Yea or Nay -
They had not scorned it with such penalty,
And nothingness implored of Destiny?
And yet behind the horizon smile serene
The down, the cornland, and the stretching green -
Space--the child's heaven: scenes which at least ensure
Some palliative for ill they cannot cure.
Dear friends--now moved by this poor show of ours
To make your own long joy in buds and bowers
For one brief while the joy of infant eyes,
Changing their urban murk to paradise -
You have our thanks!--may your reward include
More than our thanks, far more: their gratitude.
"I LOOK INTO MY GLASS"
I look into my glass,
And view my wasting skin,
And say, "Would God it came to pass
My heart had shrunk as thin!"
For then, I, undistrest
By hearts grown cold to me,
Could lonely wait my endless rest
But Time, to make me grieve;
Part steals, lets part abide;
And shakes this fragile frame at eve
With throbbings of noontide.