Page images
PDF
EPUB

your hearths

pent”?

it :

Paled at a sudden twitch of his iron Lightens from her own central Hell-O mouth;

there And O pray God that he hold up'she The red fruit of an old idolatrythought

The heads of chiefs and princes fall so Or surely I shall shame myself and him.' fast,

They cling together in the ghastly sack‘Nor yours the blame—for who beside The land all sha bles-naked marriages

Flash from the bridge, and ever-murder'd Can take her place—if echoing me you

France, cry

By shores that darken with the gathering “Our house is left unto us desolate"?

wolf, But thou, O thou that killest, hadst thou Runs in a river of blood to the sick sea. known,

Is this a time to madden madness then ? O thou that stonest, hadst thou under. Was this a time for these to flaunt their stood

pride ? The things belonging to thy peace and May Pharaoh's darkness, folds as dense ours !

as those Is there no prophet but the voice that which hid the Holiest from the people's calls

eyes Doom upon kings, or in the waste “Re- Ere the great death, shroud this great sin

from all ! Is not our own child on the narrow way, Doubtless our narrow world must canvass Who down to those that saunter in the broad

O rather pray for those and pity them, Cries “Come up hither," as a prophet to Who, thro' their own desire accomplish'd, us?

bring Is there no stoning save with flint and Their own gray hairs with sorrow to the rock ?

graveYes, as the dead we weep for testify— Who broke the bond which they desired No desolation but by sword and fire?

to break, Yes, as your moanings witness, and my. Which else had link'd their race with self

times to comeAm lonelier, darker, earthlier for my loss. Who wove coarse webs to snare her Give me your prayers, for he is past your purity, prayers,

Grossly contriving their dear daughter's Not past the living fount of pity in goodHeaven.

Poor souls, and knew not what they did, But I that thought myself long-suffering,

but sat meek,

Ignorant, devising their own daughter's Exceeding “poor in spirit”-how the

death ! words

May not that earthly chastisement suffice? Have twisted back upon themselves, and Have not our love and reverence left

them bare? Vileness, we are grown so proud - I Will not another take their heritage ? wish'd my voice

Will there be children's laughter in their A rushing tempest of the wrath of God

hall To blow these sacrifices thro' the world— For ever and for ever, or one stone Sent like the twelve-divided concubine Left on another, or is it a light thing To inflame the tribes : but there --- out That I, their guest, their host, their yonder-earth

ancient friend,

mean

sense

he;

I made by these the last of all my race, And oaken finials till he touch'd the Must cry to these the last of theirs, as

door; cried

Yet to the lychgate, where his chariot Christ ere His agony to those that swore stood, Not by the temple but the gold, and made Strode from the porch, tall and erect Their own traditions God, and slew the again.

Lord, And left their memories a world's curse- But nevermore did either pass the gate “ Behold,

Save under pall with bearers. In one Your house is left unto you desolate"?'

month,

Thro' weary and yet ever wearier hours, Ended he had not, but she brook'd no The childless mother went to seek her more :

child ; Long since her heart had beat remorse- And when he felt the silence of his house lessly,

About him, and the change and not the Her crampt-up sorrow pain'd her, and a change,

And those fixt eyes of painted ancestors Of meanness in her unresisting life. Staring for ever from their gilded walls Then their eyes vext her ; for on entering On him their last descendant, his own He had cast the curtains of their seat

head aside

Began to droop, to fall ; the man became Black velvet of the costliest—she herself Imbecile; his one word was desolate ;' Had seen to that: fain had she closed Dead for two years before his death was

them now, Yet dared not stir to do it, only near’d But when the second Christmas came, Her husband inch by inch, but when she escaped laid,

His keepers, and the silence which he felt, Wifelike, her hand in one of his, he veild To find a deeper in the narrow gloom His face with the other, and at once, as By wife and child ; nor wanted at his falls

end A creeper when the prop is broken, fell The dark retinue reverencing death The woman shrieking at his feet, and At golden thresholds; nor from tender swoon'd.

hearts, Then her own people bore along the nave And those who sorrow'd o'er a vanish'd Her pendent hands, and narrow meagre face

Pity, the violet on the tyrant's grave. Seam'd with the shallow cares of fifty Then the great Hall was wholly broken years :

down, And her the Lord of all the landscape And the broad woodland parcell'd into round

farms; Ev'n to its last horizon, and of all And where the two contrived their Who peer'd at him so keenly, follow'd daughter's good, out

Lies the hawk's cast, the mole has made Tall and erect, but in the middle aisle Reel'd, as a footsore ox in crowded | The hedgehog underneath the plantain ways

bores, Stumbling across the market to his death, The rabbit fondles his own harmless face, Unpitied; for he groped as blind, and The slow-worm creeps, and the thin seem'd

weasel there Always about to fall, grasping the pews Follows the mouse, and all is open field.

race,

his run,

years old :

man

Sat shuddering at the ruin of a world ; SEA DREAMS.

He at his own: but when the wordy storm

Had ended, forth they came and paced A city clerk, but gently born and bred ; the shore, His wife, an unknown artist's orphan Ran in and out the long sea-framing caves, child

Drank the large air, and saw, but scarce One babe was theirs, a Margaret, three

believed

(The sootflake of so many a summer still They, thinking that her clear germander Clung to their fancies) that they saw, the sea. eye

So now on sand they walk’d, and now on Droopt in the giant-factoried city-gloom, cliff, Came, with a month's leave given them, Lingering about the thymy promontories, to the sea :

Till all the sails were darken'd in the west, For which his gains were dock'd, however And rosed in the east: then homeward and small :

to bed : Small were his gains, and hard his work; Where she, who kept a tender Christian besides,

hope, Their slender household fortunes (for the Haunting a holy text, and still to that

Returning, as the bird returns, at night, Had risk'd his little) like the little thrift, Let not the sun go down upon your Trembled in perilous places o'er a deep : wrath, And oft, when sitting all alone, his face Said, 'Love, forgive him :' but he did not Would darken, as he cursed his credulous

speak; ness,

And silenced by that silence lay the wife, And that one unctuous mouth which lured Remembering her dear Lord who died for him, rogue,

all, To buy strange shares in some Peruvian And musing on the little lives of men, mine.

And how they mar this little by their feuds. Now seaward-bound for health they gain'd a coast,

But while the two were sleeping, a full All sand and cliff and deep-inrunning cave,

tide At close of day; slept, woke, and went Rose with ground-swell, which, on the the next,

foremost rocks The Sabbath, pious variers from the Touching, upjetted in spirts of wild seachurch,

smoke, To chapel ; where a heated pulpiteer, And scaled in sheets of wasteful foam, and Not preaching simple Christ to simple men,

fell Announced the coming doom, and ful. In vast sea-cataracts—ever and anon minated

Dead claps of thunder from within the cliffs Against the scarlet woman and her creed; Heard thro' the living roar. At this the For sideways up he swung his arms, and

babe, shriek'd

Their Margaret cradled near them, wail'd . Thus, thus with violence,' ev'n as if he

and woke held

The mother, and the father suddenly cried, The Apocalyptic millstone, and himself "A wreck, a wreck !' then turn'd, and Were that great Angel ; • Thus with

groaning said, violence Shall Babylon be cast into the sea ;

* Forgive! How many will say, “forThen comes the close.' The gentle

give," and find hearted wife

A sort of absolution in the sound

for use.

talk ;

To hate a little longer ! No; the sin “ To live in !” but in moving on I found That neither God nor man can well for- Only the landward exit of the cave, give,

Bright with the sun upon the stream Hypocrisy, I saw it in him at once.

beyond : Is it so true that second thoughts are best? And near the light a giant woman sat, Not first, and third, which are a riper first? All over earthy, like a piece of earth, Too ripe, too late! they come too late A pickaxe in her hand : then out I slipt

Into a land all sun and blossom, trees Ah love, there surely lives in man and As high as heaven, and every bird that beast

sings : Something divine to warn them of their And here the night-light flickering in my foes :

eyes
And such a sense, when first I fronted him, Awoke me.'
Said, “ Trust him not ;” but after, when
I came

* That was then your dream,' she said, To know him more, I lost it, knew him Not sad, but sweet.'

less; Fought with what seem'd my own un

'So sweet, I lay,' said he, charity;

• And mused upon it, drifting up the Sat at his table; drank his costly wines ;

stream Made more and more allowance for his In fancy, till I slept again, and pieced

The broken vision; for I dream'd that still Went further, fool! and trusted him with The motion of the great deep bore me on, all,

And that the woman walk'd upon the All my poor scrapings from a dozen years

brink : Of dust and deskwork : there is no such I wonder'd at her strength, and ask'd her mine,

of it: None; but a gulf of ruin, swallowing gold, “It came," she said, “by working in the Not making. Ruin'd! ruin'd! the sea

mines :

O then to ask her of my shares, I thought; Ruin : a fearful night!'

And ask'd; but not a word ; she shook

her head. • Not fearful ; fair,' | And then the motion of the current ceased, Said the good wife, if every star in And there was rolling thunder ; and we heaven

reach'd Can make it fair: you do but hear the tide. A mountain, like a wall of burs and Had you ill dreams?'

thorns ;

But she with her strong feet up the steep O yes,' he said, “I dream'd

hill Of such a tide swelling toward the land, Trod out a path : I follow'd ; and at top And I from out the boundless outer deep She pointed seaward : there a fleet of Swept with it to the shore, and enter'd one glass, Of those dark caves that run beneath the That seem'd a fleet of jewels under me, cliffs.

Sailing along before a gloomy cloud I thought the motion of the boundless deep That not one moment ceased to thunder, Bore thro' the cave, and I was heaved

past upon it

In sunshine: right across its track there lay, In darkness : then I saw one lovely star Down in the water, a long reef of gold, Larger and larger. “What a world,” I Or what seem'd gold : and I was glad at thought,

first

roars

off ;

in it;

To think that in our often-ransack'd world “And all things work together for the good Still so much gold was left ; and then I | Of those”—it makes me sick to quote him fear'd

- last Lest the gay navy there should splinter Gript my hand hard, and with God-blesson it,

you went. And fearing waved my arm to warn them I stood like one that had received a blow:

I found a hard friend in his loose accounts, An idle signal, for the brittle fleet A loose one in the hard grip of his hand, (I thought I could have died to save it) A curse in his God bless-you : then my near'd,

eyes Touch’d, clink'd, and clash'd, and Pursued him down the street, and far vanish'd, and I woke,

away, I heard the clash so clearly. Now I see Among the honest shoulders of the crowd, My dream was Life; the woman honest Read rascal in the motions of his back, Work ;

And scoundrel in the supple-sliding knee.' And my poor venture but a fleet of glass Wreck'd on a reef of visionary gold.' Was he so bound, poor soul ?' said

the good wife ; Nay,' said the kindly wife to comfort So are we all ; but do not call him, love, him,

Before you prove him, rogue, and proved, *You raised your arm, you tumbled down forgive. and broke

His gain is loss; for he that wrongs his The glass with little Margaret's medicine

friend

Wrongs himself more, and ever bears And, breaking that, you made and broke

about your dream :

A silent court of justice in his breast, A trifle makes a dream, a trifle breaks.' Himself the judge and jury, and himself

The prisoner at the bar, ever condemn'd: No trifle,' groan'd the husband ; And that drags down his life: then comes 'yesterday

what comes I met him suddenly in the street, and ask'd Hereafter : and he meant, he said he That which I ask'd the woman in my

meant, dream.

Perhaps he meant, or partly meant, you Like her, he shook his head. “Show me

well,' the books!” He dodged me with a long and loose 66. With all his conscience and one eye account.

askew" “The books, the books !” but he, he could Love, let me quote these lines, that you

not wait, Bound on a matter he of life and death : A man is likewise counsel for himself, When the great Books (see Daniel seven Too often, in that silent court of yours

“ With all his conscience and one eye Were open'd, I should find he meant me askew,

So false, he partly took himself for true; And then began to bloat himself, and ooze Whose pious talk, when most his heart All over with the fat affectionate smile

was dry, That makes the widow lean. “My dearest Made wet the crafty crowsfoot round his friend,

eye ; Have faith, have faith! We live by faith,” Who, never naming God except for gain, said he ;

So never took that useful name in vain,

may learn

and ten)

well ;

« PreviousContinue »