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

Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Jonathan Ingram, Charles M. Bidwell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. THE POETICAL WORKS OF GEORGE MACDONALD IN TWO VOLUMES VOL. 2 CONTENTS. PARABLES– The Man of Songs The Hills The Journey The Tree’s Prayer Were I a Skilful Painter Far and Near My Room Death and Birth Love’s Ordeal The
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  • 1893
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Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Jonathan Ingram, Charles M. Bidwell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.




VOL. 2


The Man of Songs
The Hills
The Journey
The Tree’s Prayer
Were I a Skilful Painter
Far and Near
My Room
Death and Birth
Love’s Ordeal
The Lost Soul
The Three Horses
The Golden Key
Somnium Mystici
The Sangreal
The Failing Track
Tell Me
Brother Artist
After an Old Legend
A Meditation of St Eligius
The Early Bird
Sir Lark and King Sun
The Owl and the Bell
A Mammon-Marriage
A Song in the Night
Love’s History
The Lark and the Wind
A Dead House
Bell upon Organ
Master and Boy
The Clock of the Universe
The Thorn in the Flesh

The Unseen Model
The Homeless Ghost
Abu Midjan
The Thankless Lady
Legend of the Corrievrechan
The Dead Hand

In the Night
The Giver
False Prophets
Travellers’ Song
Love is Strength
A Song of the Waiting Dead
A Song in the Night
De Profundis
Blind Sorrow

The Father’s Worshippers
A Birthday-Wish
To Any One
Lost but Safe
Much and More
Hope and Patience
A Better Thing
A Prisoner
To My Lord and Master
To One Unsatisfied
To My God
The Word of God
Eine Kleine Predigt
To the Life Eternal
Hope Deferred

Lessons for a Child
What makes Summer?
Mother Nature
The Mistletoe
Professor Noctutus
Up and Down
Up in the Tree
A Baby-Sermon
Little Bo-Peep
Little Boy Blue
Willie’s Question
King Cole
Said and Did
Dr. Doddridge’s Dog
The Girl that Lost Things
A Make-Believe
The Christmas Child
A Christmas Prayer
No End of No-Story

The Haunted House
In the Winter
Christmas Day, 1878
The New Year
Two Rondels
To a Certain Critic
A Cry
From Home
To My Mother Earth
Thy Heart
0 Lord, how Happy
No Sign
November, 1851
Of One who Died in Spring
An Autumn Song
I See Thee Not
A Broken Prayer
Come Down
A Mood
The Carpenter
The Old Garden
A Noonday Melody
Who Lights the Fire?
Who would have Thought?
On a December Day
Christmas Day, 1850
To a February Primrose
In February
The True
The Dwellers Therein
Autumn’s Gold
Shew us the Father
The Pinafore
The Prism
In Bonds
New Year’s Eve: A Waking Dream
From North Wales: To the Mother
Come to Me
A Fear
The Lost House
The Talk of the Echoes
The Goal
The Healer
Oh that a Wind
A Vision of St. Eligius
Of the Son of Man
A Song-Sermon
Words in the Night
Consider the Ravens
The Wind of the World
Sabbath Bells
After the Fashion of an Old Emblem A Prayer in Sickness
Quiet Dead
Let your Light so Shine
The Souls’ Rising
To an Autograph-Hunter
With a Copy of “In Memoriam”
They are Blind
When the Storm was Proudest
The Diver
To the Clouds
Second Sight
Not Understood
Hom II. v. 403
The Dawn
The Prophet
The Watcher
The Beloved Disciple
The Lily of the Valley
Evil Influence
Spoken of several Philosophers
Nature a Moral Power
To June
On a Midge
First Sight of the Sea
On the Source of the Arve
One with Nature
My Two Geniuses
Sudden Calm
Thou Also
The Aurora Borealis
The Human
Written on a Stormy Night
Reverence waking Hope
Born of Water
To a Thunder-Cloud
Sun and Moon
Doubt heralding Vision
Life or Death?
Lost and Found
The Moon
Truth, not Form
God in Growth
In a Churchyard
That Holy Thing
From Novalis
What Man is there of You?
O Wind of God
Shall the Dead praise Thee?
A Year-Song
For where your Treasure is, there will your Heart be also The Asthmatic Man to the Satan that binds him Song-Sermon
A Winter Prayer
Song of a Poor Pilgrim
An Evening Prayer
A Dream-Song
Christmas, 1880
The Sparrow
December 23, 1879
December 27, 1879
Sunday, December 28, 1879
The Donkey in the Cart to the Horse in the Carriage Room to Roam
Cottage Songs–
1. By the Cradle
2. Sweeping the Floor
3. Washing the Clothes
4. Drawing Water
5. Cleaning the Windows
The Wind and the Moon
The Foolish Harebell
An Improvisation
The Consoler
To ——.
To a Sister
The Shortest and Sweetest of Songs

Annie she’s Dowie
O Lassie ayont the Hill!
The bonny, bonny Dell
Nannie Braw
Ower the Hedge
Gaein and Comin
A Sang o’ Zion
Time and Tide
The Waesome Carl
The Mermaid
The Yerl o’ Waterydeck
The Twa Gordons
The Last Wooin
The Laverock
Godly Ballants–
1. This Side an’ That
2. The Twa Baubees
3. Wha’s my Neibour?
4. Him wi’ the Bag
5. The Coorse Cratur
The Deil’s Forhooit his Ain
The Auld Fisher
The Herd and the Mavis
A Lown Nicht
The Home of Death
Win’ that Blaws
A Song of Hope
The Burnie
The Sang o’ the Auld Fowk
The Auld Man’s Prayer
Granny Canty
What the Auld Fowk are Thinkin
Greitna, Father
I Ken Something



“Thou wanderest in the land of dreams, O man of many songs!
To thee what is, but looks and seems; No realm to thee belongs!”

“Seest thou those mountains, faint and far, O spirit caged and tame?”
“Blue clouds like distant hills they are, And like is not the same.”

“Nay, nay; I know each mountain well, Each cliff, and peak, and dome!
In that cloudland, in one high dell, Nesteth my little home.”


Behind my father’s cottage lies
A gentle grassy height
Up which I often ran–to gaze
Back with a wondering sight,
For then the chimneys I thought high Were down below me quite!

All round, where’er I turned mine eyes, Huge hills closed up the view;
The town ‘mid their converging roots Was clasped by rivers two;
From, one range to another sprang
The sky’s great vault of blue.

It was a joy to climb their sides,
And in the heather lie!
A joy to look at vantage down
On the castle grim and high!
Blue streams below, white clouds above, In silent earth and sky!

And now, where’er my feet may roam,
At sight of stranger hill
A new sense of the old delight
Springs in my bosom still,
And longings for the high unknown
Their ancient channels fill.

For I am always climbing hills,
From the known to the unknown–
Surely, at last, on some high peak, To find my Father’s throne,
Though hitherto I have only found
His footsteps in the stone!

And in my wanderings I did meet
Another searching too:
The dawning hope, the shared quest
Our thoughts together drew;
Fearless she laid her band in mine
Because her heart was true.

She was not born among the hills,
Yet on each mountain face
A something known her inward eye
By inborn light can trace;
For up the hills must homeward be,
Though no one knows the place.

Clasp my hand close, my child, in thine– A long way we have come!
Clasp my hand closer yet, my child, Farther we yet must roam–
Climbing and climbing till we reach Our heavenly father’s home.



Hark, the rain is on my roof!
Every murmur, through the dark,
Stings me with a dull reproof
Like a half-extinguished spark.
Me! ah me! how came I here,
Wide awake and wide alone!
Caught within a net of fear,
All my dreams undreamed and gone!

I will rise; I will go forth.
Better dare the hideous night,
Better face the freezing north
Than be still, where is no light!
Black wind rushing round me now,
Sown with arrowy points of rain!
Gone are there and then and now–
I am here, and so is pain!

Dead in dreams the gloomy street!
I will out on open roads.
Eager grow my aimless feet–
Onward, onward something goads!
I will take the mountain path,
Beard the storm within its den;
Know the worst of this dim wrath
Harassing the souls of men.

Chasm ‘neath chasm! rock piled on rock! Roots, and crumbling earth, and stones!
Hark, the torrent’s thundering shock! Hark, the swaying pine tree’s groans!
Ah! I faint, I fall, I die,
Sink to nothingness away!–
Lo, a streak upon the sky!
Lo, the opening eye of day!


Mountain summits lift their snows
O’er a valley green and low;
And a winding pathway goes
Guided by the river’s flow;
And a music rises ever,
As of peace and low content,
From the pebble-paven river
Like an odour upward sent.

And the sound of ancient harms
Moans behind, the hills among,
Like the humming of the swarms
That unseen the forest throng.
Now I meet the shining rain
From a cloud with sunny weft;
Now against the wind I strain,
Sudden burst from mountain cleft.

Now a sky that hath a moon
Staining all the cloudy white
With a faded rainbow–soon
Lost in deeps of heavenly night!
Now a morning clear and soft,
Amber on the purple hills;
Warm blue day of summer, oft
Cooled by wandering windy rills!

Joy to travel thus along
With the universe around!
Every creature of the throng,
Every sight and scent and sound
Homeward speeding, beauty-laden,
Beelike, to its hive, my soul!
Mine the eye the stars are made in! Mine the heart of Nature’s whole!


Hills retreating on each hand
Slowly sink into the plain;
Solemn through the outspread land
Rolls the river to the main.
In the glooming of the night
Something through the dusky air
Doubtful glimmers, faintly white,
But I know not what or where.

Is it but a chalky ridge
Bared of sod, like tree of bark?
Or a river-spanning bridge
Miles away into the dark?
Or the foremost leaping waves
Of the everlasting sea,
Where the Undivided laves
Time with its eternity?

Is it but an eye-made sight,
In my brain a fancied gleam?
Or a faint aurora-light
From the sun’s tired smoking team?
In the darkness it is gone,
Yet with every step draws nigh;
Known shall be the thing unknown
When the morning climbs the sky!

Onward, onward through the night
Matters it I cannot see?
I am moving in a might
Dwelling in the dark and me!
End or way I cannot lose–
Grudge to rest, or fear to roam;
All is well with wanderer whose
Heart is travelling hourly home.


Joy! O joy! the dawning sea
Answers to the dawning sky,
Foretaste of the coming glee
When the sun will lord it high!
See the swelling radiance growing
To a dazzling glory-might!
See the shadows gently going
‘Twixt the wave-tops wild with light!

Hear the smiting billows clang!
See the falling billows lean
Half a watery vault, and hang
Gleaming with translucent green,
Then in thousand fleeces fall,
Thundering light upon the strand!– This the whiteness which did call
Through the dusk, across the land!

See, a boat! Out, out we dance!
Fierce blasts swoop upon my sail!
What a terrible expanse–
Tumbling hill and heaving dale!
Stayless, helpless, lost I float,
Captive to the lawless free!
But a prison is my boat!
Oh, for petrel-wings to flee!

Look below: each watery whirl
Cast in beauty’s living mould!
Look above: each feathery curl
Dropping crimson, dropping gold!–
Oh, I tremble in the flush
Of the everlasting youth!
Love and awe together rush:
I am free in God, the Truth!


Alas, ’tis cold and dark!
The wind all night hath sung a wintry tune! Hail from black clouds that swallowed up the moon Beat, beat against my bark.

Oh! why delays the spring?
Not yet the sap moves in my frozen veins; Through all my stiffened roots creep numbing pains, That I can hardly cling.

The sun shone yester-morn;
I felt the glow down every fibre float, And thought I heard a thrush’s piping note Of dim dream-gladness born.

Then, on the salt gale driven,
The streaming cloud hissed through my outstretched arms, Tossed me about in slanting snowy swarms, And blotted out the heaven.

All night I brood and choose
Among past joys. Oh, for the breath of June! The feathery light-flakes quavering from the moon The slow baptizing dews!

Oh, the joy-frantic birds!–
They are the tongues of us, mute, longing trees! Aha, the billowy odours! and the bees
That browse like scattered herds!

The comfort-whispering showers
That thrill with gratefulness my youngest shoot! The children playing round my deep-sunk root, Green-caved from burning hours!

See, see the heartless dawn,
With naked, chilly arms latticed across! Another weary day of moaning loss
On the thin-shadowed lawn!

But icy winter’s past;
Yea, climbing suns persuade the relenting wind: I will endure with steadfast, patient mind; My leaves _will_ come at last!


Were I a skilful painter,
My pencil, not my pen,
Should try to teach thee hope and fear, And who would blame me then?–
Fear of the tide of darkness
That floweth fast behind,
And hope to make thee journey on
In the journey of the mind.

Were I a skilful painter,
What should I paint for thee?–
A tiny spring-bud peeping out
From a withered wintry tree;
The warm blue sky of summer
O’er jagged ice and snow,
And water hurrying gladsome out
From a cavern down below;

The dim light of a beacon
Upon a stormy sea,
Where a lonely ship to windward beats For life and liberty;
A watery sun-ray gleaming
Athwart a sullen cloud
And falling on some grassy flower
The rain had earthward bowed;

Morn peeping o’er a mountain,
In ambush for the dark,
And a traveller in the vale below
Rejoicing like a lark;
A taper nearly vanished
Amid the dawning gray,
And a maiden lifting up her head,
And lo, the coming day!

I am no skilful painter;
Let who will blame me then
That I would teach thee hope and fear With my plain-talking pen!–
Fear of the tide of darkness
That floweth fast behind,
And hope to make thee journey on
In the journey of the mind.

[The fact which suggested this poem is related by Clarke in his Travels.]


Blue sky above, blue sea below,
Far off, the old Nile’s mouth,
‘Twas a blue world, wherein did blow A soft wind from the south.

In great and solemn heaves the mass
Of pulsing ocean beat,
Unwrinkled as the sea of glass
Beneath the holy feet.

With forward leaning of desire
The ship sped calmly on,
A pilgrim strong that would not tire Or hasten to be gone.


List!–on the wave!–what can they be, Those sounds that hither glide?
No lovers whisper tremulously
Under the ship’s round side!

No sail across the dark blue sphere
Holds white obedient way;
No far-fled, sharp-winged boat is near, No following fish at play!

‘Tis not the rippling of the wave,
Nor sighing of the cords;
No winds or waters ever gave
A murmur so like words;

Nor wings of birds that northward strain, Nor talk of hidden crew:
The traveller questioned, but in vain– He found no answer true.


A hundred level miles away,
On Egypt’s troubled shore,
Two nations fought, that sunny day, With bellowing cannons’ roar.

The fluttering whisper, low and near, Was that far battle’s blare;
A lipping, rippling motion here,
The blasting thunder there.


Can this dull sighing in my breast
So faint and undefined,
Be the worn edge of far unrest
Borne on the spirit’s wind?

The uproar of high battle fought
Betwixt the bond and free,
The thunderous roll of armed thought Dwarfed to an ache in me?


To G. E. M.

‘Tis a little room, my friend–
Baby walks from end to end;
All the things look sadly real
This hot noontide unideal;
Vaporous heat from cope to basement All you see outside the casement,
Save one house all mud-becrusted,
And a street all drought-bedusted!
There behold its happiest vision,
Trickling water-cart’s derision!
Shut we out the staring space,
Draw the curtains in its face!

Close the eyelids of the room,
Fill it with a scarlet gloom:
Lo, the walls with warm flush dyed! Lo, the ceiling glorified,
As when, lost in tenderest pinks,
White rose on the red rose thinks!
But beneath, a hue right rosy,
Red as a geranium-posy,
Stains the air with power estranging, Known with unknown clouding, changing.
See in ruddy atmosphere
Commonplaceness disappear!
Look around on either hand–
Are we not in fairyland?

On that couch, inwrapt in mist
Of vaporized amethyst,
Lie, as in a rose’s heart:
Secret things I would impart;
Any time you would believe them–
Easier, though, you will receive them Bathed in glowing mystery
Of the red light shadowy;
For this ruby-hearted hue,
Sanguine core of all the true,
Which for love the heart would plunder Is the very hue of wonder;
This dissolving dreamy red
Is the self-same radiance shed
From the heart of poet young,
Glowing poppy sunlight-stung:
If in light you make a schism
‘Tis the deepest in the prism.

This poor-seeming room, in fact
Is of marvels all compact,
So disguised by common daylight
By its disenchanting gray light,
Only eyes that see by shining,
Inside pierce to its live lining.
Loftiest observatory
Ne’er unveiled such hidden glory;
Never sage’s furnace-kitchen
Magic wonders was so rich in;
Never book of wizard old
Clasped such in its iron hold.

See that case against the wall,
A piano to the prosy,
But to us in twilight rosy–
What?–A cave where Nereids lie,
Naiads, Dryads, Oreads sigh,
Dreaming of the time when they
Danced in forest and in bay.
In that chest before your eyes
Nature self-enchanted lies;–
Lofty days of summer splendour;
Low dim eves of opal tender;
Airy hunts of cloud and wind;
Brooding storm–below, behind;
Awful hills and midnight woods;
Sunny rains in solitudes;
Babbling streams in forests hoar;
Seven-hued icebergs; oceans frore.– Yes; did I not say _enchanted_,
That is, hid away till wanted?
Do you hear a low-voiced singing?
‘Tis the sorceress’s, flinging
Spells around her baby’s riot,
Binding her in moveless quiet:–
She at will can disenchant them,
And to prayer believing grant them.

You believe me: soon will night
Free her hands for fair delight;
Then invoke her–she will come.
Fold your arms, be blind and dumb.
She will bring a book of spells
Writ like crabbed oracles;
Like Sabrina’s will her hands
Thaw the power of charmed bands.
First will ransomed music rush
Round thee in a glorious gush;
Next, upon its waves will sally,
Like a stream-god down a valley,
Nature’s self, the formless former, Nature’s self, the peaceful stormer;
She will enter, captive take thee,
And both one and many make thee,
One by softest power to still thee, Many by the thoughts that fill thee.–
Let me guess three guesses where
She her prisoner will bear!

On a mountain-top you stand
Gazing o’er a sunny land;
Shining streams, like silver veins, Rise in dells and meet in plains;
Up yon brook a hollow lies
Dumb as love that fears surprise;
Moorland tracts of broken ground
O’er it rise and close it round:
He who climbs from bosky dale
Hears the foggy breezes wail.
Yes, thou know’st the nest of love, Know’st the waste around, above!
In thy soul or in thy past,
Straight it melts into the vast,
Quickly vanishes away
In a gloom of darkening gray.

Sinks the sadness into rest,
Ripple like on water’s breast:
Mother’s bosom rests the daughter– Grief the ripple, love the water;
And thy brain like wind-harp lies
Breathed upon from distant skies,
Till, soft-gathering, visions new
Grow like vapours in the blue:
White forms, flushing hyacinthine,
Move in motions labyrinthine;
With an airy wishful gait
On the counter-motion wait;
Sweet restraint and action free
Show the law of liberty;
Master of the revel still
The obedient, perfect will;
Hating smallest thing awry,
Breathing, breeding harmony;
While the god-like graceful feet,
For such mazy marvelling meet,
Press from air a shining sound,
Rippling after, lingering round:
Hair afloat and arms aloft
Fill the chord of movement soft.

Gone the measure polyhedral!
Towers aloft a fair cathedral!
Every arch–like praying arms
Upward flung in love’s alarms,
Knit by clasped hands o’erhead–
Heaves to heaven a weight of dread; In thee, like an angel-crowd,
Grows the music, praying loud,
Swells thy spirit with devotion
As a strong wind swells the ocean,
Sweeps the visioned pile away,
Leaves thy heart alone to pray.

As the prayer grows dim and dies
Like a sunset from the skies,
Glides another change of mood
O’er thy inner solitude:
Girt with Music’s magic zone,
Lo, thyself magician grown!
Open-eyed thou walk’st through earth Brooding on the aeonian birth
Of a thousand wonder-things
In divine dusk of their springs:
Half thou seest whence they flow,
Half thou seest whither go–
Nature’s consciousness, whereby
On herself she turns her eye,
Hoping for all men and thee
Perfected, pure harmony.

But when, sinking slow, the sun
Leaves the glowing curtain dun,
I, of prophet-insight reft,
Shall be dull and dreamless left;
I must hasten proof on proof,
Weaving in the warp my woof!

What are those upon the wall,
Ranged in rows symmetrical?
Through the wall of things external Posterns they to the supernal;
Through Earth’s battlemented height Loopholes to the Infinite;
Through locked gates of place and time, Wickets to the eternal prime
Lying round the noisy day
Full of silences alway.

That, my friend? Now, it is curious
You should hit upon the spurious!
‘Tis a door to nowhere, that;
Never soul went in thereat;
Lies behind, a limy wall
Hung with cobwebs, that is all.

Do not open that one yet,
Wait until the sun is set.
If you careless lift its latch
Glimpse of nothing will you catch;
Mere negation, blank of hue,
Out of it will stare at you;
Wait, I say, the coming night,
Fittest time for second sight,
Then the wide eyes of the mind
See far down the Spirit’s wind.
You may have to strain and pull,
Force and lift with cunning tool,
Ere the rugged, ill-joined door
Yield the sight it stands before:
When at last, with grating sweep,
Wide it swings–behold, the deep!

Thou art standing on the verge
Where material things emerge;
Hoary silence, lightning fleet,
Shooteth hellward at thy feet!
Fear not thou whose life is truth,
Gazing will renew thy youth;
But where sin of soul or flesh
Held a man in spider-mesh,
It would drag him through that door, Give him up to loreless lore,
Ages to be blown and hurled
Up and down a deedless world.

Ah, your eyes ask how I brook
Doors that are not, doors to look!
That is whither I was tending,
And it brings me to good ending.

Baby is the cause of this;
Odd it seems, but so it is;–
Baby, with her pretty prate
Molten, half articulate,
Full of hints, suggestions, catches, Broken verse, and music snatches!
She, like seraph gone astray,
Must be shown the homeward way;
Plant of heaven, she, rooted lowly, Must put forth a blossom holy,
Must, through culture high and steady, Slow unfold a gracious lady;
She must therefore live in wonder,
See nought common up or under;
She the moon and stars and sea,
Worm and butterfly and bee,
Yea, the sparkle in a stone,
Must with marvel look upon;
She must love, in heaven’s own blueness, Both the colour and the newness;
Must each day from darkness break,
Often often come awake,
Never with her childhood part,
Change the brain, but keep the heart.

So, from lips and hands and looks,
She must learn to honour books,
Turn the leaves with careful fingers, Never lean where long she lingers;
But when she is old enough
She must learn the lesson rough
That to seem is not to be,
As to know is not to see;
That to man or book, _appearing_
Gives no title to revering;
That a pump is not a well,
Nor a priest an oracle:
This to leave safe in her mind,
I will take her and go find
Certain no-books, dreary apes,
Tell her they are mere mock-shapes
No more to be honoured by her
But be laid upon the fire;
Book-appearance must not hinder
Their consuming to a cinder.

Would you see the small immortal
One short pace within Time’s portal? I will fetch her.–Is she white?
Solemn? true? a light in light?
See! is not her lily-skin
White as whitest ermelin
Washed in palest thinnest rose?
Very thought of God she goes,
Ne’er to wander, in her dance,
Out of his love-radiance!

But, my friend, I’ve rattled plenty
To suffice for mornings twenty!
I should never stop of course,
Therefore stop I will perforce.–
If I led them up, choragic,
To reveal their nature magic,
Twenty things, past contradiction,
Yet would prove I spoke no fiction
Of the room’s belongings cryptic
Read by light apocalyptic:
There is that strange thing, glass-masked, With continual questions tasked,
Ticking with untiring rock:
It is called an eight-day clock,
But to me the thing appears
Busy winding up the years,
Drawing on with coiling chain
The epiphany again.


‘Tis the midnight hour; I heard
The Abbey-bell give out the word.
Seldom is the lamp-ray shed
On some dwarfed foot-farer’s head
In the deep and narrow street
Lying ditch-like at my feet
Where I stand at lattice high
Downward gazing listlessly
From my house upon the rock,
Peak of earth’s foundation-block.

There her windows, every story,
Shine with far-off nebulous glory!
Round her in that luminous cloud
Stars obedient press and crowd,
She the centre of all gazing,
She the sun her planets dazing!
In her eyes’ victorious lightning
Some are paling, some are brightening: Those on which they gracious turn,
Stars combust, all tenfold burn;
Those from which they look away
Listless roam in twilight gray!
When on her my looks I bent
Wonder shook me like a tent,
And my eyes grew dim with sheen,
Wasting light upon its queen!
But though she my eyes might chain, Rule my ebbing flowing brain,
Truth alone, without, within,
Can the soul’s high homage win!

He, I do not doubt, is there
Who unveiled my idol fair!
And I thank him, grateful much,
Though his end was none of such.
He from shapely lips of wit
Let the fire-flakes lightly flit,
Scorching as the snow that fell
On the damned in Dante’s hell;
With keen, gentle opposition,
Playful, merciless precision,
Mocked the sweet romance of youth
Balancing on spheric truth;
He on sense’s firm set plane
Rolled the unstable ball amain:
With a smile she looked at me,
Stung my soul, and set me free.

Welcome, friend! Bring in your bricks. Mortar there? No need to mix?
That is well. And picks and hammers? Verily these are no shammers!–
There, my friend, build up that niche, That one with the painting rich!

Yes, you’re right; it is a show
Picture seldom can bestow;
City palaces and towers,
Terraced gardens, twilight bowers,
Vistas deep through swaying masts,
Pennons flaunting in the blasts:
Build; my room it does not fit;
Brick-glaze is the thing for it!

Yes, a window you may call it;
Not the less up you must wall it:
In that niche the dead world lies;
Bury death, and free mine eyes.

There were youths who held by me,
Said I taught, yet left them free:
Will they do as I said then?
God forbid! As ye are men,
Find the secret–follow and find!
All forget that lies behind;
Me, the schools, yourselves, forsake; In your souls a silence make;
Hearken till a whisper come,
Listen, follow, and be dumb.

There! ’tis over; I am dead!
Of my life the broken thread
Here I cast out of my hand!–
O my soul, the merry land!
On my heart the sinking vault
Of my ruining past makes halt;
Ages I could sit and moan
For the shining world that’s gone!

Haste and pierce the other wall;
Break an opening to the All!
Where? No matter; done is best.
Kind of window? Let that rest:
Who at morning ever lies
Pondering how to ope his eyes!

I bethink me: we must fall
On the thinnest of the wall!
There it must be, in that niche!–
No, the deepest–that in which
Stands the Crucifix.

You start?–
Ah, your half-believing heart
Shrinks from that as sacrilege,
Or, at least, upon its edge!
Worse than sacrilege, I say,
Is it to withhold the day
From the brother whom thou knowest
For the God thou never sawest!

Reverently, O marble cold,
Thee in living arms I fold!
Thou who art thyself the way
From the darkness to the day,
Window, thou, to every land,
Wouldst not one dread moment stand
Shutting out the air and sky
And the dayspring from on high!
Brother with the rugged crown,
Gently thus I lift thee down!

Give me pick and hammer; you
Stand aside; the deed I’ll do.
Yes, in truth, I have small skill,
But the best thing is the will.

Stroke on stroke! The frescoed plaster Clashes downward, fast and faster.
Hark, I hear an outer stone
Down the rough rock rumbling thrown! There’s a cranny! there’s a crack!
The great sun is at its back!
Lo, a mass is outward flung!
In the universe hath sprung!

See the gold upon the blue!
See the sun come blinding through!
See the far-off mountain shine
In the dazzling light divine!
Prisoned world, thy captive’s gone! Welcome wind, and sky, and sun!


A recollection and attempted completion of a prose fragment read in boyhood.

“Hear’st thou that sound upon the window pane?” Said the youth softly, as outstretched he lay Where for an hour outstretched he had lain– Softly, yet with some token of dismay.
Answered the maiden: “It is but the rain That has been gathering in the west all day! Why shouldst thou hearken so? Thine eyelids close, And let me gather peace from thy repose.”

“Hear’st thou that moan creeping along the ground?” Said the youth, and his veiling eyelids rose From deeps of lightning-haunted dark profound Ruffled with herald blasts of coming woes. “I hear it,” said the maiden; “’tis the sound Of a great wind that here not seldom blows; It swings the huge arms of the dreary pine, But thou art safe, my darling, clasped in mine.”

“Hear’st thou the baying of my hounds?” said he; “Draw back the lattice bar and let them in.” From a rent cloud the moonlight, ghostily, Slid clearer to the floor, as, gauntly thin, She opening, they leaped through with bound so free, Then shook the rain-drops from their shaggy skin. The maiden closed the shower-bespattered glass, Whose spotted shadow through the room did pass.

The youth, half-raised, was leaning on his hand, But, when again beside him sat the maid, His eyes for one slow minute having scanned Her moonlit face, he laid him down, and said, Monotonous, like solemn-read command:
“For Love is of the earth, earthy, and is laid Lifeless at length back in the mother-tomb.” Strange moanings from the pine entered the room.

And then two shadows like the shadow of glass, Over the moonbeams on the cottage floor, As wind almost as thin and shapeless, pass; A sound of rain-drops came about the door, And a soft sighing as of plumy grass;
A look of sorrowing doubt the youth’s face wore; The two great hounds half rose; with aspect grim They eyed his countenance by the taper dim.

Shadow nor moaning sound the maiden noted, But on his face dwelt her reproachful look; She doubted whether he the saying had quoted Out of some evil, earth-begotten book,
Or up from his deep heart, like bubbles, had floated Words which no maiden ever yet could brook; But his eyes held the question, “Yea or No?” Therefore the maiden answered, “Nay, not so;

“Love is of heaven, eternal.” Half a smile Just twinned his lips: shy, like all human best, A hopeful thought bloomed out, and lived a while; He looked one moment like a dead man blest– His soul a bark that in a sunny isle
At length had found the haven of its rest; But he could not remain, must forward fare: He spoke, and said with words abrupt and bare,

“Maiden, I have loved other maidens.” Pale Her red lips grew. “I loved them, yes, but they Successively in trial’s hour did fail,
For after sunset clouds again are gray.” A sudden light shone through the fringy veil That drooping hid her eyes; and then there lay A stillness on her face, waiting; and then The little clock rung out the hour of ten.

Moaning once more the great pine-branches bow To a soft plaining wind they would not stem. Brooding upon her face, the youth said, “Thou Art not more beautiful than some of them, But a fair courage crowns thy peaceful brow, Nor glow thine eyes, but shine serene like gem That lamps from radiant store upon the dark The light it gathered where its song the lark.

“The horse that broke this day from grasp of three, Thou sawest then the hand thou holdest, hold: Ere two fleet hours are gone, that hand will be Dry, big-veined, wrinkled, withered up and old!– No woman yet hath shared my doom with me.” With calm fixed eyes she heard till he had told; The stag-hounds rose, a moment gazed at him, Then laid them down with aspect yet more grim.

Spake on the youth, nor altered look or tone: “‘Tis thy turn, maiden, to say no or dare.”– Was it the maiden’s, that importunate moan?– “At midnight, when the moon sets, wilt thou share The terror with me? or must I go alone
To meet an agony that will not spare?” She answered not, but rose to take her cloak; He staid her with his hand, and further spoke.

“Not yet,” he said; “yet there is respite; see, Time’s finger points not yet to the dead hour! Enough is left even now for telling thee The far beginnings whence the fearful power Of the great dark came shadowing down on me: Red roses crowding clothe my love’s dear bower– Nightshade and hemlock, darnel, toadstools white Compass the place where I must lie to-night!”

Around his neck the maiden put her arm And knelt beside him leaning on his breast, As o’er his love, to keep it strong and warm, Brooding like bird outspread upon her nest. And well the faith of her dear eyes might charm All doubt away from love’s primeval rest! He hid his face upon her heart, and there Spake on with voice like wind from lonely lair.

A drearier moaning through the pine did go As if a human voice complained and cried For one long minute; then the sound grew low, Sank to a sigh, and sighing sank and died. Together at the silence two voices mow– His, and the clock’s, which, loud grown, did divide The hours into live moments–sparks of time Scorching the soul that trembles for the chime.

He spoke of sins ancestral, born in him Impulses; of resistance fierce and wild; Of failure weak, and strength reviving dim; Self-hatred, dreariness no love beguiled; Of storm, and blasting light, and darkness grim; Of torrent paths, and tombs with mountains piled; Of gulfs in the unsunned bosom of the earth; Of dying ever into dawning birth.

“But when I find a heart whose blood is wine; Whose faith lights up the cold brain’s passionless hour; Whose love, like unborn rose-bud, will not pine, But waits the sun and the baptizing shower– Till then lies hid, and gathers odours fine To greet the human summer, when its flower Shall blossom in the heart and soul and brain, And love and passion be one holy twain–

“Then shall I rest, rest like the seven of yore; Slumber divine will steep my outworn soul And every stain dissolve to the very core. She too will slumber, having found her goal. Time’s ocean o’er us will, in silence frore, Aeonian tides of change-filled seasons roll, And our long, dark, appointed period fill. Then shall we wake together, loving still.”

Her face on his, her mouth to his mouth pressed, Was all the answer of the trusting maid. Close in his arms he held her to his breast For one brief moment–would have yet assayed Some deeper word her heart to strengthen, lest It should though faithful be too much afraid; But the clock gave the warning to the hour– And on the thatch fell sounds not of a shower.

One long kiss, and the maiden rose. A fear Lay, thin as a glassy shadow, on her heart; She trembled as some unknown thing were near, But smiled next moment–for they should not part! The youth arose. With solemn-joyous cheer, He helped the maid, whose trembling hands did thwart Her haste to wrap her in her mantle’s fold; Then out they passed into the midnight cold.

The moon was sinking in the dim green west, Curled upward, half-way to the horizon’s brink, A leaf of glory falling to its rest,
The maiden’s hand, still trembling, sought to link Her arm to his, with love’s instinctive quest, But his enfolded her; hers did not sink, But, thus set free, it stole his body round, And so they walked, in freedom’s fetters bound.

Pressed to his side, she felt, like full-toned bell, A mighty heart heave large in measured play; But as the floating moon aye lower fell
Its bounding force did, by slow loss, decay. It throbbed now like a bird; now like far knell Pulsed low and faint! And now, with sick dismay, She felt the arm relax that round her clung, And from her circling arm he forward hung.

His footsteps feeble, short his paces grow; Her strength and courage mount and swell amain. He lifted up his head: the moon lay low, Nigh the world’s edge. His lips with some keen pain Quivered, but with a smile his eyes turned slow Seeking in hers the balsam for his bane
And finding it–love over death supreme: Like two sad souls they walked met in one dream.[A]

[Note A:

In a lovely garden walking
Two lovers went hand in hand;
Two wan, worn figures, talking
They sat in the flowery land.

On the cheek they kissed one another, On the mouth with sweet refrain;
Fast held they each the other,
And were young and well again.

Two little bells rang shrilly–
The dream went with the hour:
She lay in the cloister stilly,
He far in the dungeon-tower!

_From Uhland._]

Hanging his head, behind each came a hound, Padding with gentle paws upon the road.
Straight silent pines rose here and there around; A dull stream on the left side hardly flowed; A black snake through the sluggish waters wound. Hark, the night raven! see the crawling toad! She thinks how dark will be the moonless night, How feeblest ray is yet supernal light.

The moon’s last gleam fell on dim glazed eyes, A body shrunken from its garments’ fold: An aged man whose bent knees could not rise, He tottered in the maiden’s tightening hold. She shivered, but too slight was the disguise To hide from love what never yet was old; She held him fast, with open eyes did pray, Walked through the fear, and kept the onward way.

Toward a gloomy thicket of tall firs, Dragging his inch-long steps, he turned aside. There Silence sleeps; not one green needle stirs. They enter it. A breeze begins to chide
Among the cones. It swells until it whirs, Vibrating so each sharp leaf that it sighed: The grove became a harp of mighty chords, Wing-smote by unseen creatures wild for words.

But when he turned again, toward the cleft Of a great rock, as instantly it ceased, And the tall pines stood sudden, as if reft Of a strong passion, or from pain released; Again they wove their straight, dark, motionless weft Across the moonset-bars; and, west and east, Cloud-giants rose and marched up cloudy stairs; And like sad thoughts the bats came unawares.

‘Twas a drear chamber for thy bridal night, O poor, pale, saviour bride! An earthen lamp With shaking hands he kindled, whose faint light Mooned out a tiny halo on the damp
That filled the cavern to its unseen height, Dim glimmering like death-candle in a swamp. Watching the entrance, each side lies a hound, With liquid light his red eyes gleaming round.

A heap rose grave-like from the rocky floor Of moss and leaves, by many a sunny wind Long tossed and dried–with rich furs covered o’er Expectant. Up a jealous glory shined
In her possessing heart: he should find more In her than in those faithless! With sweet mind She, praying gently, did herself unclothe, And lay down by him, trusting, and not loath.

Once more a wind came, flapping overhead; The hounds pricked up their ears, their eyes flashed fire. The trembling maiden heard a sudden tread– Dull, yet plain dinted on the windy gyre, As if long, wet feet o’er smooth pavement sped– Come fiercely up, as driven by longing dire To enter; followed sounds of hurried rout: With bristling hair, the hounds stood looking out.

Then came, half querulous, a whisper old, Feeble and hollow as if shut in a chest: “Take my face on your bosom; I am cold.” She bared her holy bosom’s truth-white nest, And forth her two hands instant went, love-bold, And took the face, and close against her pressed: Ah, the dead chill!–Was that the feet again?– But her great heart kept beating for the twain.

She heard the wind fall, heard the following rain Swelling the silent waters till their sound Went wallowing through the night along the plain. The lamp went out, by the slow darkness drowned. Must the fair dawn a thousand years refrain? Like centuries the feeble hours went round. Eternal night entombed her with decay:
To her live soul she clasped the breathless clay.

The world stood still. Her life sank down so low That but for wretchedness no life she knew. A charnel wind moaned out a moaning–_No_; From the devouring heart of earth it blew. Fair memories lost all their sunny glow: Out of the dark the forms of old friends grew But so transparent blanched with dole and smart She saw the pale worm lying in each heart.

And, worst of all–Oh death of keep-fled life! A voice within her woke and cried: In sooth Vain is all sorrow, hope, and care, and strife! Love and its beauty, its tenderness and truth Are shadows bred in hearts too fancy-rife, Which melt and pass with sure-decaying youth: Regard them, and they quiver, waver, blot; Gaze at them fixedly, and they are not.

And all the answer the poor child could make Was in the tightened clasp of arms and hands. Hopeless she lay, like one Death would not take But still kept driving from his empty lands, Yet hopeless held she out for his dear sake; The darksome horror grew like drifting sands Till nought was precious–neither God nor light, And yet she braved the false, denying night.

So dead was hope, that, when a glimmer weak Stole through a fissure somewhere in the cave, Thinning the clotted darkness on his cheek, She thought her own tired eyes the glimmer gave: He moved his head; she saw his eyes, love-meek, And knew that Death was dead and filled the Grave. Old age, convicted lie, had fled away!
Youth, Youth eternal, in her bosom lay!

With a low cry closer to him she crept And on his bosom hid a face that glowed: It was his turn to comfort–he had slept! Oh earth and sky, oh ever patient God,
She had not yielded, but the truth had kept! New love, new bliss in weeping overflowed. I can no farther tell the tale begun;
They are asleep, and waiting for the sun.


Look! look there!
Send your eyes across the gray
By my finger-point away
Through the vaporous, fumy air.
Beyond the air, you see the dark?
Beyond the dark, the dawning day?
On its horizon, pray you, mark
Something like a ruined heap
Of worlds half-uncreated, that go back: Down all the grades through which they rose Up to harmonious life and law’s repose,
Back, slow, to the awful deep
Of nothingness, mere being’s lack:
On its surface, lone and bare,
Shapeless as a dumb despair,
Formless, nameless, something lies: Can the vision in your eyes
Its idea recognize?

‘Tis a poor lost soul, alack!–
Half he lived some ages back;
But, with hardly opened eyes,
Thinking him already wise,
Down he sat and wrote a book;
Drew his life into a nook;
Out of it would not arise
To peruse the letters dim,
Graven dark on his own walls;
Those, he judged, were chance-led scrawls, Or at best no use to him.
A lamp was there for reading these; This he trimmed, sitting at ease,
For its aid to write his book,
Never at his walls to look–
Trimmed and trimmed to one faint spark Which went out, and left him dark.–
I will try if he can hear
Spirit words with spirit ear!

Motionless thing! who once,
Like him who cries to thee,
Hadst thy place with thy shining peers, Thy changeful place in the changeless dance Issuing ever in radiance
From the doors of the far eternity, With feet that glitter and glide and glance To the music-law that binds the free,
And sets the captive at liberty–
To the clang of the crystal spheres! O heart for love! O thirst to drink
From the wells that feed the sea!
O hands of truth, a human link
‘Twixt mine and the Father’s knee!
O eyes to see! O soul to think!
O life, the brother of me!
Has Infinitude sucked back all
The individual life it gave?
Boots it nothing to cry and call?
Is thy form an empty grave?

It heareth not, brothers, the terrible thing! Sounds no sense to its ear will bring!
Let us away, ’tis no use to tarry;
Love no light to its heart will carry! Sting it with words, it will never shrink; It will not repent, it cannot think!
Hath God forgotten it, alas!
Lost in eternity’s lumber-room?
Will the wind of his breathing never pass Over it through the insensate gloom?
Like a frost-killed bud on a tombstone curled, Crumbling it lies on its crumbling world, Sightless and deaf, with never a cry,
In the hell of its own vacuity!

See, see yon angel crossing our flight Where the thunder vapours loom,
From his upcast pinions flashing the light Of some outbreaking doom!
Up, brothers! away! a storm is nigh! Smite we the wing up a steeper sky!
What matters the hail or the clashing winds, The thunder that buffets, the lightning that blinds! We know by the tempest we do not lie
Dead in the pits of eternity!


What shall I be?–I will be a knight
Walled up in armour black,
With a sword of sharpness, a hammer of might. And a spear that will not crack–
So black, so blank, no glimmer of light Will betray my darkling track.

Saddle my coal-black steed, my men,
Fittest for sunless work;
Old Night is steaming from her den, And her children gather and lurk;
Bad things are creeping from the fen, And sliding down the murk.

Let him go!–let him go! Let him plunge!–Keep away! He’s a foal of the third seal’s brood!
Gaunt with armour, in grim array
Of poitrel and frontlet-hood,
Let him go, a living castle, away– Right for the evil wood.

I and Ravenwing on the course,
Heavy in fighting gear–
Woe to the thing that checks our force, That meets us in career!
Giant, enchanter, devil, or worse– What cares the couched spear!

Slow through the trees zigzag I ride. See! the goblins!–to and fro!
From the skull of the dark, on either side, See the eyes of a dragon glow!
From the thickets the silent serpents glide– I pass them, I let them go;

For somewhere in the evil night
A little one cries alone;
An aged knight, outnumbered in fight, But for me will be stricken prone;
A lady with terror is staring white, For her champion is overthrown.

The child in my arms, to my hauberk prest, Like a trembling bird will cling;
I will cover him over, in iron nest, With my shield, my one steel wing,
And bear him home to his mother’s breast, A radiant, rescued thing.

Spur in flank, and lance in rest,
On the old knight’s foes I flash;
The caitiffs I scatter to east and west With clang and hurtle and crash;
Leave them the law, as knaves learn it best, In bruise, and breach, and gash.

The lady I lift on my panting steed;
On the pommel she holds my mace;
Hand on bridle I gently lead
The horse at a gentle pace;
The thickets with martel-axe I heed, For the wood is an evil place.

What treasure is there in manly might That hid in the bosom lies!
Who for the crying will not fight
Had better be he that cries!
A man is a knight that loves the right And mounts for it till he dies.

Alas, ’tis a dream of ages hoar!
In the fens no dragons won;
No giants from moated castles roar; Through the forest wide roadways run;
Of all the deeds they did of yore
Not one is left to be done!

If I should saddle old Ravenwing
And hie me out at night,
Scared little birds away would spring An ill-shot arrow’s flight:
The idle fancy away I fling,
Now I will dream aright!

Let a youth bridle Twilight, my dapple-gray, With broad rein and snaffle bit;
He must bring him round at break of day When the shadows begin to flit,
When the darkness begins to dream away, And the owls begin to sit.

Ungraithed in plate or mail I go,
With only my sword–gray-blue
Like the scythe of the dawning come to mow The night-sprung shadows anew
From the gates of the east, that, fair and slow, Maid Morning may walk through.

I seek no forest with darkness grim,
To the open land I ride;
Low light, from the broad horizon’s brim, Lies wet on the flowing tide,
And mottles with shadows dun and dim The mountain’s rugged side.

Steadily, hasteless, o’er valley and hill. O’er the moor, along the beach,
We ride, nor slacken our pace until Some city of men we reach;
There, in the market, my horse stands still, And I lift my voice and preach.

Wealth and poverty, age and youth
Around me gather and throng;
I tell them of justice, of wisdom, of truth, Of mercy, and law, and wrong;
My words are moulded by right and ruth To a solemn-chanted song.

They bring me questions which would be scanned, That strife may be forgot;
Swerves my balance to neither hand, The poor I favour no jot;
If a man withstand, out sweeps my brand. I slay him upon the spot.

But what if my eye have in it a beam
And therefore spy his mote?
Righteousness only, wisdom supreme
Can tell the sheep from the goat!
Not thus I dream a wise man’s dream, Not thus take Wrong by the throat!

Lead Twilight home. I dare not kill;
The sword myself would scare.–
When the sun looks over the eastern hill, Bring out my snow-white mare:
One labour is left which no one will Deny me the right to share!

Take heed, my men, from crest to heel Snow-white have no speck;
No curb, no bit her mouth must feel, No tightening rein her neck;
No saddle-girth drawn with buckle of steel Shall her mighty breathing check!

Lay on her a cloth of silver sheen,
Bring me a robe of white;
Wherever we go we must be seen
By the shining of our light–
A glistening splendour in forest green, A star on the mountain-height.

With jar and shudder the gates unclose; Out in the sun she leaps!
A unit of light and power she goes
Levelling vales and steeps:
The wind around her eddies and blows, Before and behind her sleeps.

Oh joy, oh joy to ride the world
And glad, good tidings bear!
A flag of peace on the winds unfurled Is the mane of my shining mare:
To the sound of her hoofs, lo, the dead stars hurled Quivering adown the air!

Oh, the sun and the wind! Oh, the life and the love! Where the serpent swung all day
The loud dove coos to the silent dove; Where the web-winged dragon lay
In its hole beneath, on the rock above Merry-tongued children play.

With eyes of light the maidens look up As they sit in the summer heat
Twining green blade with golden cup– They see, and they rise to their feet;
I call aloud, for I must not stop,
“Good tidings, my sisters sweet!”

For mine is a message of holy mirth
To city and land of corn;
Of praise for heaviness, plenty for dearth, For darkness a shining morn:
Clap hands, ye billows; be glad, O earth, For a child, a child is born!

Lo, even the just shall live by faith! None argue of mine and thine!
Old Self shall die an ecstatic death And be born a thing divine,
For God’s own being and God’s own breath Shall be its bread and wine.

Ambition shall vanish, and Love be king, And Pride to his darkness hie;
Yea, for very love of a living thing A man would forget and die,
If very love were not the spring
Whence life springs endlessly!

The myrtle shall grow where grew the thorn; Earth shall be young as heaven;
The heart with remorse or anger torn Shall weep like a summer even;
For to us a child, a child is born, Unto us a son is given!

Lord, with thy message I dare not ride! I am a fool, a beast!
The little ones only from thy side
Go forth to publish thy feast!
And I, where but sons and daughters abide, Would have walked about, a priest!

Take Snow-white back to her glimmering stall; There let her stand and feed!–
I am overweening, ambitious, small, A creature of pride and greed!
Let me wash the hoofs, let me be the thrall, Jesus, of thy white steed!


From off the earth the vapours curled, Went up to meet their joy;
The boy awoke, and all the world
Was waiting for the boy!

The sky, the water, the wide earth
Was full of windy play–
Shining and fair, alive with mirth, All for his holiday!

The hill said “Climb me;” and the wood “Come to my bosom, child;
Mine is a merry gamboling brood,
Come, and with them go wild.”

The shadows with the sunlight played, The birds were singing loud;
The hill stood up with pines arrayed– He ran to join the crowd.

But long ere noon, dark grew the skies, Pale grew the shrinking sun:
“How soon,” he said, “for clouds to rise When day was but begun!”

The wind grew rough; a wilful power
It swept o’er tree and town;
The boy exulted for an hour,
Then weary sat him down.

And as he sat the rain began,
And rained till all was still:
He looked, and saw a rainbow span
The vale from hill to hill.

He dried his tears. “Ah, now,” he said, “The storm was good, I see!
Yon pine-dressed hill, upon its head I’ll find the golden key!”

He thrid the copse, he climbed the fence, At last the top did scale;
But, lo, the rainbow, vanished thence, Was shining in the vale!

“Still, here it stood! yes, here,” he said, “Its very foot was set!
I saw this fir-tree through the red, This through the violet!”

He searched and searched, while down the skies Went slow the slanting sun.
At length he lifted hopeless eyes,
And day was nearly done!

Beyond the vale, above the heath,
High flamed the crimson west;
His mother’s cottage lay beneath
The sky-bird’s rosy breast.

“Oh, joy,” he cried, “not _all_ the way Farther from home we go!
The rain will come another day
And bring another bow!”

Long ere he reached his mother’s cot, Still tiring more and more,
The red was all one cold gray blot, And night lay round the door.

But when his mother stroked his head
The night was grim in vain;
And when she kissed him in his bed
The rainbow rose again.

Soon, things that are and things that seem Did mingle merrily;
He dreamed, nor was it all a dream, His mother had the key.


A Microcosm In Terza Rima.


Quiet I lay at last, and knew no more Whether I breathed or not, so worn I lay With the death-struggle. What was yet before Neither I met, nor turned from it away;
My only conscious being was the rest Of pain gone dead–dead with the bygone day, And long I could have lingered all but blest In that half-slumber. But there came a sound As of a door that opened–in the west
Somewhere I thought it. As the hare the hound, The noise did start my eyelids and they rose. I turned my eyes and looked. Then straight I found It was my chamber-door that did unclose, For a tall form up to my bedside drew.
Grand was it, silent, its very walk repose; And when I saw the countenance, I knew
That I was lying in my chamber dead; For this my brother–brothers such are few– That now to greet me bowed his kingly head, Had, many years agone, like holy dove
Returning, from his friends and kindred sped, And, leaving memories of mournful love,
Passed vanishing behind the unseen veil; And though I loved him, all high words above. Not for his loss then did I weep or wail, Knowing that here we live but in a tent, And, seeking home, shall find it without fail. Feeble but eager, toward him my hands went– I too was dead, so might the dead embrace! Taking me by the shoulders down he bent, And lifted me. I was in sickly case,
But, growing stronger, stood up on the floor, There turned, and once regarded my dead face With curious eyes: its brow contentment wore, But I had done with it, and turned away.