Page images



Now on some twisted ivy-net,

In robe and crown the king stept down, Now by some tinkling rivulet,

To meet and greet her on her way ; In mosses mixt with violet

• It is no wonder,' said the lords, Her cream-white mule his pastern set : "She is more beautiful than day.'

And fleeter now she skimm'd the

As shines the moon in clouded skies, Than she whose elfin prancer springs

She in her poor attire was seen : By night to eery warblings,

One praised her ancles, one her eyes, When all the glimmering moorland rings

One her dark hair and lovesome mien. With jingling bridle-reins.

So sweet a face, such angel grace,

In all that land had never been :
As fast she fled thro' sun and shade, Cophetua sware a royal oath :
The happy winds upon her play'd,

* This beggar maid shall be my queen!'
Blowing the ringlet from the braid :
She look'd so lovely, as she sway'd
The rein with dainty finger-tips,

A man had given all other bliss,

And all his worldly worth for this,
To waste his whole heart in one kiss

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Upon her perfect lips.

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ring'd with the azure world, he stands. A FAREWELL.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls ;

He watches from his mountain walls, Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.
Thy tribute wave deliver :
No more by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.

MOVE eastward, happy earth, and leave

Yon orange sunset waning slow :
Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea, From fringes of the faded eve,
A rivulet then a river :

O, happy planet, eastward go;
No where by thee my steps shall be, Till over thy dark shoulder glow
For ever and for ever.

Thy silver sister-world, and rise

To glass herself in dewy eyes But here will sigh thine alder tree, That watch me from the glen below.

And here thine aspen shiver ; And here by thee will hum the bee, Ah, bear me with thee, smoothly borne, For ever and for ever,

Dip forward under starry light,

And move me to my marriage-morn, A thousand suns will stream on thee, And round again to happy night.

A thousand moons will quiver ;
But not by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.

Come not, when I am dead,
To drop thy foolish tears upon my

THE BEGGAR MAID. To trample round my fallen head,

And vex the unhappy dust thou wouldst Her arms across her breast she laid ;

not save. She was more fair than words can say: There let the wind sweep and the plover Bare-footed came the beggar maid

cry; Before the king Cophetua.

But thou, go by.


[ocr errors]


Child, if it were thine error or thy crime No more of love ; your sex is known :

I care no longer, being all unblest : I never will be twice deceived.
Wed whom thou wilt, but I am sick of Henceforth I trust the man alone,

The woman cannot be believed.
And I desire to rest.
Pass on, weak heart, and leave me where
I lie:

• Thro' slander, meanest spawn of HellGo by, go by.

And women's slander is the worst, And you, whom once I lov'd so well,

Thro' you, my life will be accurst.' THE LETTERS.

I spoke with heart, and heat and force,

I shook her breast with vague alarms— I.

Like torrents from a mountain source Still on the tower stood the vane,

We rush'd into each other's arms. A black yew gloom'd the stagnant air,

vi. I peer'd athwart the chancel pane

And saw the altar cold and bare. We parted : sweetly gleam'd the stars, A clog of lead was round my feet,

And sweet the vapour-braided blue, A band of pain across my brow ;

Low breezes fann'd the belfry bars, Cold altar, Heaven and earth shall meet As homeward by the church I drew. Before you hear my marriage vow.' The very graves appear'd to smile,

So fresh they rose in shadow'd swells

Dark porch,' I said, 'and silent aisle, I turn'd and humm'd a bitter song

There comes a sound of marriage bells.' That mock'd the wholesome human heart,

THE VISION OF SIN. And then we met in wrath and wrong,

We met, but only meant to part. Full cold my greeting was and dry ;

I HAD a vision when the night was late : She faintly smiled, she hardly moved ;

A youth came riding toward a palace-gate. I saw with half-unconscious eye

He rode a horse with wings, that would She wore the colours I approved.

have flown, But that his heavy rider kept him down.

And from the palace came a child of sin, She took the little ivory chest,

And took him by the curls, and led him in, With half a sigh she turn'd the key, Where sat a company with heated eyes, Then raised her head with lips comprest, Expecting when a fountain should arise : And gave my letters back to me.

A sleepy light upon their brows and lipsAnd gave the trinkets and the rings, As when the sun, a crescent of eclipse, My gifts, when gifts of mine could Dreams over lake and lawn, and isles and please ;

capes— As looks a father on the things

Suffused them, sitting, lying, languid Of his dead son, I look'd on these.


By heaps of gourds, and skins of wine, IV.

and piles of grapes. She told me all her friends had said ;

II. I raged against the public liar ; She talk'd as if her love were dead, Then methought I heard a mellow sound,

But in my words were seeds of fire. Gathering up from all the lower ground;

[ocr errors]



Narrowing in to where they sat assembled | And warn'd that madman ere it grew too Low voluptuous music winding trembled,

late : Wor'n in circles: they that heard it sigh’d, But, as in dreams, I could not. Mine Panted hand-in-hand with faces pale,

was broken, Swung themselves, and in low tones re- When that cold vapour touch'd the palace plied ;

gate, Till the fountain spouted, showering wide And link'd again. I saw within my head Sleet of diamond-drift and pearly hail ; A gray and gap-tooth'd man as lean as Then the music touch'd the gates and died; death, Rose again from where it seem'd to fail, Who slowly rode across a wither'd heath, Storm'd in orbs of song, a growing gale; And lighted at a ruin’d inn, and said : Till thronging in and in, to where they

As 'twere a hundred-throated nightingale, Wrinkled ostler, grim and thin !
The strong tempestuous treble throbb’d Here is custom come your way ;
and palpitated;

Take my brute, and lead him in,
Ran into its giddiest whirl of sound, Stuff his ribs with mouldy hay.
Caught the sparkles, and in circles,
Purple gauzes, golden hazes, liquid mazes,

* Bitter barmaid, waning fast ! Flung the torrent rainbow round:

See that sheets are on my bed ; Then they started from their places,

What ! the flower of life is past : Moved with violence, changed in hue,

It is long before you wed. Caught each other with wild grimaces,

Slip-shod waiter, lank and sour, Half-invisible to the view,

At the Dragon on the heath! Wheeling with precipitate paces

Let us have a quiet hour,
To the melody, till they flew,

Let us hob-and-nob with Death.
Hair, and eyes, and limbs, and faces,
Twisted hard in fierce embraces,

I am old, but let me drink ;
Like to Furies, like to Graces,

Bring me spices, bring me wine ;
Dash'd together in blinding dew:

I remember, when I think,
Till, kill'd with some luxurious agony, That my youth was half divine.
The nerve-dissolving melody
Flutter'd headlong from the sky.

Wine is good for shrivellid lips,

When a blanket wraps the day,

When the rotten woodland drips, And then I look'd up toward a mountain. And the leaf is stamp'd in clay.

tract, That girt the region with high cliff and

“Sit thee down, and have no shame, lawn :

Cheek by jowl, and knee by knee: I saw that every morning, far withdrawn

What care I for any name?

What for order or degree ?
Beyond the darkness and the cataract,
God made Himself an awful rose of dawn, Let me screw thee up a peg:
Unheeded : and detaching, fold by fold,

Let me loose thy tongue with wine : From those still heights, and, slowly Callest thou that thing a leg? drawing near,

Which is thinnest ? thine or mine? A vapour heavy, hueless, formless, cold, Came floating on for many a month and * Thou shalt not be saved by works : year,

Thou hast been a sinner too : Unheeded : and I thought I would have Ruin'd trunks on wither'd forks, spoken,

Empty scarecrows, I and you !


[blocks in formation]

* You are bones, and what of that?

Every face, however full, Padded round with flesh and fat,

Is but modellid on a skull. * Death is king, and Vivat Rex !

Tread a measure on the stones, Madam—if I know your sex,

From the fashion of your bones. No, I cannot praise the fire

In your eye—nor yet your lip: All the more do I admire

Joints of cunning workmanship. 'Lo! God's likeness—the ground-plan-

Neither modell’d, glazed, nor framed : Buss me, thou rough sketch of man,

Far too naked to be shamed ! * Drink to Fortune, drink to Chance,

While we keep a little breath! Drink to heavy Ignorance !

Hob-and-nob with brother Death ! • Thou art mazed, the night is long,

And the longer night is near : What! I am not all as wrong

As a bitter jest is dear. • Youthful hopes, by scores, to all,

When the locks are crisp and curld ; Unto me my maudlin gall

And my mockeries of the world. *Fill the cup, and fill the can:

Mingle madness, mingle scorn ! Dregs of life, and lees of man :

Yet we will not die forlorn.'

Then some one spake: `Behold ! it was

a crime Of sense avenged by sense that wore with

time.' Another said: “The crime of sense

became The crime of malice, and is equal blame.' ! And one : He had not wholly quench'd

his power; A little grain of conscience made him

sour.' At last I heard a voice upon the slope Cry to the summit, “Is there any hope?' To which an answer peal'd from that high

land, But in a tongue no man could understand; And on the glimmering limit far with

drawn God made Himself an awful rose of dawn.

TO ,


‘Cursed be he that moves my bones.'

Shakespeare's Epitaph. You might have won the Poet's name,

If such be worth the winning now,

And gain'd a laurel for your brow Of sounder leaf than I can claim ;

But you have made the wiser choice,

A life that moves to gracious ends

Thro' troops of unrecording friends, A deedful life, a silent voice :


And you have miss'd the irreverent doom

Of those that wear the Poet's crown :

Hereafter, neither knave nor clown Shall hold their orgies at your tomb.

The voice grew faint: there came a

further change : Once more uprose the mystic mountain

range : Below were men and horses pierced with

worms, And slowly quickening into lower forms; By shards and scurf of salt, and scum of

dross, Old plash of rains, and refuse patch'd

with moss.

For now the Poet cannot die,

Nor leave his music as of old,

But round him ere he scarce be cold Begins the scandal and the cry:

Proclaim the faults he would not show

Break lock and seal : betray the trust. Keep nothing sacred : 'tis but just The many-headed beast should know.'

« PreviousContinue »