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Unclad herself in haste; adown the stair
Stole on; and, like a creeping sunbeam, slid
From pillar unto pillar, until she reach'd
The gateway; there she found her palfrey trapt
In purple blazon'd with armorial gold.

Then she rode forth, clothed on with chastity:
The deep air listen’d round her as she rode,
And all the low wind hardly breathed for fear.
The little wide-mouth'd heads upon the spout
Had cunning eyes to see : the barking cur
Made her cheek flame : her palfrey's footfall shot
Light horrors thro' her pulses : the blind walls
Were full of chinks and holes ; and overhead
Fantastic gables, crowding, stared: but she
Not less thro' all bore up, till, last, she saw
The white-flower'd elder-thicket from the field
Gleam thro’ the Gothic archways in the wall.

Then she rode back, clothed on with chastity :
And one low churl, compact of thankless earth,
The fatal byword of all years to come,
Boring a little augur-hole in fear,
Peep'd—but his eyes, before they had their will,
Were shrivelld into darkness in his head,
And dropt before him. So the Powers, who wait
On noble deeds, cancell’d a sense misused ;
And she, that knew not, pass’d : and all at once,
With twelve great shocks of sound, the shameless noon
Was clash'd and hammer'd from a hundred towers,

One after one : but even then she gain'd
Her bower; whence reissuing, robed and crown'de
To meet her lord, she took the tax away
And built herself an everlasting name.


A STILL small voice spake unto me,
“Thou art so full of misery,
Were it not better not to be ?

Then to the still small voice I said ; “Let me not cast in endless shade What is so wonderfully made.”

To which the voice did urge reply ;
“To-day I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.

“An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk : from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.

“He dried his wings : like gauze they grew : Thro' crofts and pastures wet with dew A living flash of light he flew.”

I said, “When first the world began,
Young Nature thro' five cycles ran,
And in the sixth she moulded man.

“She gave him mind, the lordliest Proportion, and, above the rest, Dominion in the head and breast.”

Thereto the silent voice replied ; “Self-blinded are you by your pride : Look up thro' night : the world is wide.

“This truth within thy mind rehearse,
That in a boundless universe
Is boundless better, boundless worse.

“Think you this mould of hopes and fears Could find no statelier than his peers In yonder hundred million spheres ?”

It spake, moreover, in my mind :
“ Tho' thou wert scatter'd to the wind.
Yet is there plenty of the kind.”

Then did my response clearer fall : “No compound of this earthly ball Is like another, all in all.”

To which he answer'd scoffingly;
“Good soul ! suppose I grant it thee,
Who'll weep for thy deficiency?

“Or will one beam be less intense,
When thy peculiar difference
Is cancell'd in the world of sense ?”

I would have said, “Thou canst not know,”
But my full heart, that work'd below
Rain'd thro' my sight its overflow.

Again the voice spake unto me : Thou art so steep'd in misery, Surely 'twere better not to be.

“Thine anguish will not let thee sleep, Nor any train of reason keep : Thou canst not think, but thou wilt weep."

I said, “The years with change advance :
If I make dark my countenance,
I shut my life from happier chance.

“Some turn this sickness yet might take, Ev'n yet.” But he : “What drug can make A wither'd palsy cease to shake ?"

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