Page images

What should one give to light on such a It is my shyness, or my self-distrust, dream?'

Or something of a wayward modern mind I ask'd him half-sardonically.

Dissecting passion. Time will set me Give ?

right.' Give all thou art,' he answer'd, and a light

So spoke I knowing not the things Of laughter dimpled in his swarthy cheek;

that were. I would have hid her needle in my Then said the fat-faced curate, Edward heart,

Bull : To save her little finger from a scratch God made the woman for the use of No deeper than the skin : my ears could

man, hear

And for the good and increase of the Her lightest breath ; her least remark

world.' was worth

And I and Edwin laughed ; and now we The experience of the wise. I went and paused came ;

About the windings of the marge to hear Her voice fled always thro' the summer The soft wind blowing over meadowy land;

holms I spoke her name alone. Thrice-happy And alders, garden-isles; and now we left days !

The clerk behind us, I and he, and ran The flower of each, those moments when By ripply shallows of the lisping lake, we met,

Delighted with the freshness and the The crown of all, we met to part no

sound. more.'

But, when the bracken rusted on their Were not his words delicious, I a beast

crags, To take them as I did ? but something My suit had wither’d, nipt to death by jarr'd;

him Whether he spoke too largely; that there That was a God, and is a lawyer's clerk, seem'd

The rentroll Cupid of our rainy isles. A touch of something false, some self- 'Tis true, we met; one hour I had, no

conceit, Or over-smoothness : howsoe'er it was, She sent a note, the seal an Elle vous suit, He scarcely hit my humour, and I said : The close, ‘Your Letty, only yours;' and

this Friend Edwin, do not think yourself | Thrice underscored. The friendly mist alone

of morn Of all men happy. Shall not Love to Clung to the lake. I boated over, ran me,

My craft aground, and heard with beatAs in the Latin song I learnt at school,

ing heart Sneeze out a full God bless you right and The Sweet-Gale rustle round the shelving left ?

keel; But you can talk : yours is a kindly vein: And out I stept, and up I crept : she I have, I think, — Heaven knows--as

moved, much within ;

Like Proserpine in Enna, gathering Have, or should have, but for a thought flowers : or two,

Then low and sweet I whistled thrice ; That like a purple beech among the greens and she, Looks out of place : 'tis from no want in She turn'd, we closed, we kiss'd, swore her :

faith, I breathed



of prayer,

and cramps,

In some new planet: a silent cousin stole
Upon us and departed : Leave,' she ST. SIMEON STYLITES.

cried, O leave me!' Never, dearest, never : ALTHO' I be the basest of mankind, here

From scalp to sole one slough and crust I brave the worst :' and while we stood

of sin, like fools

Unfit for earth, unfit for heaven, scarce Embracing, all at once a score of pugs And poodles yelld within, and out they For troops of devils, mad with blasphemy, came

I will not cease to grasp the hope I hold Trustees and Aunts and Uncles. What, Of saintdom, and to clamour, mourn and with him !

sob, Go' (shrilld the cotton-spinning chorus); Battering the gates of heaven with storms

him !' I choked. Again they shriek'd the Have mercy, Lord, and take away my sin. burthen— Him !

Let this avail, just, dreadful, mighty Again with hands of wild rejection ‘Go!

God, Girl, get you in!' She went—and in one This not be all in vain, that thrice ten month

years, They wedded her to sixty thousand pounds, Thrice multiplied by superhuman pangs, To lands in Kent and messuages in York, In hungers and in thirsts, fevers and cold, And slight Sir Robert with his watery In coughs, aches, stitches, ulcerous throes

smile And educated whisker. But for me, A sign betwixt the meadow and the cloud, They set an ancient creditor to work : Patient on this tall pillar I have borne It seems I broke a close with force and Rain, wind, frost, heat, hail, damp, and arms :

sleet, and snow; There came a mystic token from the king And I had hoped that ere this period closed To greet the sheriff, needless courtesy! Thou wouldst have caught me up into thy I read, and filed by night, and flying

rest, turn'd :

Denying not these weather-beaten limbs Her taper glimmer'd in the lake below : The meed of saints, the white robe and I turn'd once more, close-button'd to the

the palm. storm ;

O take the meaning, Lord : I do not So left the place, left Edwin, nor have seen breathe, Him since, nor heard of her, nor cared to Not whisper, any murmur of complaint. hear.

Pain heap'd ten-hundred-fold to this, were

still Nor cared to hear ? perhaps : yet long Less burthen, by ten-hundred-fold, to bear, ago

Than were those lead-like tons of sin, I have pardon'd little Letty ; not indeed, that crush'd It may be, for her own dear sake but this, My spirit flat before thee. She seems a part of those fresh days to me;

O Lord, Lord, For in the dust and drouth of London life | Thou knowest I bore this better at the She moves among my visions of the lake,

first, While the prime swallow dips his wing, For I was strong and hale of body then ; or then

And tho' my teeth, which now are dropt While the gold-lily blows, and overhead

away, The light cloud smoulders on the summer Would chatter with the cold, and all my crag.



Was tagg'd with icy fringes in the moon, I bore, whereof, O God, thou knowest all. I drown'd the whoopings of the owl with Three winters, that my soul might sound

grow to thee, of pious hymns and psalms, and some- I lived up there on yonder mountain times saw

side. An angel stand and watch me, as I sang. My right leg chain'd into the crag, I lay Now am I feeble grown ; my end draws Pent in a roofless close of ragged stones ; nigh;

Inswathed sometimes in wandering mist, I hope my end draws nigh: half deaf I am,

and twice So that I scarce can hear the people hum Black'd with thy branding thunder, and About the column's base, and almost blind,

sometimes And scarce can recognise the fields I Sucking the damps for drink, and eating know;

not, And both my thighs are rotted with the Except the spare chance - gift of those

that came Yet cease I not to clamour and to cry, To touch my body and be heal'd, and live: While my stiff spine can hold my weary And they say then that I work'd miracles, head,

Whereof my fame is loud amongst man. Till all my limbs drop piecemeal from the kind, stone,

Cured lameness, palsies, cancers. Thou, Have mercy, mercy : take away my sin.

O God, O Jesus, if thou wilt not save my soul, Knowest alone whether this was or no. Who may be saved ? who is it may be Have mercy, mercy! cover all my sin. saved ?

Then, that I might be more alone Who may be made a saint, if I fail here?

with thee, Show me the man hath suffer'd more Three years I lived upon a pillar, high than I.

Six cubits, and three years on one of For did not all thy martyrs die one death ?

twelve ; For either they were stoned, or crucified, And twice three years I crouch'd on one Or burn'd in fire, or boil'd in oil, or sawn

that rose In twain beneath the ribs ; but I die here Twenty by measure; last of all, I grew To-day, and whole years long, a life of Twice ten long weary weary years to this, death.

That numbers forty cubits from the soil. Bear witness, if I could have found a way I think that I have borne as much as (And heedfully I sifted all my thought)

More slowly-painful to subdue this home or else I dream—and for so long a time,
Of sin, my flesh, which I despise and hate, If I may measure time by yon slow light,
I had not stinted practice, O my God. And this high dial, which my sorrow

For not alone this pillar-punishment,
Not this alone I bore : but while I lived So much—even so.
In the white convent down the valley there,

And yet I know not well, For many weeks about my loins I wore For that the evil ones come here, and say, The rope that haled the buckets from the Fall down, O Simeon: thou hast suffer'd well,

long Twisted as tight as I could knot the noose ; For ages and for ages !' then they prate And spake not of it to a single soul, Of penances I cannot have gone thro', Until the ulcer, eating thro' my skin, Perplexing me with lies; and oft I fall, Betray'd my secret penance, so that all Maybe for months, in such blind lethargies My brethren marvell’d greatly. More That Heaven, and Earth, and Time are than this



But yet

I wear

neck ;

Good people, you do ill to kneel to me. Bethink thee, Lord, while thou and all What is it I can have done to merit this? the saints

I am a sinner viler than you all. Enjoy themselves in heaven, and men on It may be I have wrought some miracles, earth

And cured some halt and maim'd ; but House in the shade of comfortable roofs,

what of that? Sit with their wives by fires, eat whole- It may be, no one, even among the saints, some food,

May match his pains with mine ; but And wear warm clothes, and even beasts

what of that? have stalls,

Yet do not rise ; for you may look on me, I, 'tween the spring and downfall of the And in your looking you may kneel to light,

God. Bow down one thousand and two hundred Speak! is there any of you halt or maim'd? times,

I think you know I have some power To Christ, the Virgin Mother, and the

with Heaven saints ;

From my long penance : let him speak Or in the night, after a little sleep,

his wish. I wake : the chill stars sparkle ; I am Yes, I can heal him. Power goes wet

forth from me. With drenching dews, or stiff with crack. They say that they are heal'd. Ah, ling frost.

hark! they shout
an undress'd goatskin on my 'St. Simeon Stylites.' Why, if so,
back ;

God reaps a harvest in me. O my soul, A grazing iron collar grinds my

God reaps a harvest in thee.

If this be, And in my weak, lean arms I lift the Can I work miracles and not be saved ? cross,

This is not told of any. They were saints. And strive and wrestle with thee till I It cannot be but that I shall be saved;

Yea, crown'd a saint. They shout, O mercy, mercy! wash away my sin.

Behold a saint!' O Lord, thou knowest what a man I And lower voices saint me from above.

Courage, St. Simeon! This dull chrysalis A sinful man, conceived and born in sin : Cracks into shining wings, and hope ere 'Tis their own doing ; this is none of

death mine;

Spreads more and more and more, that Lay it not to me. Am I to blame for

God hath now this,

Sponged and made blank of crimeful Trat here come those that worship me?

record all Ha ! ha!

My mortal archives. They think that I am somewhat. What

O my sons, my sons, am I?

I, Simeon of the pillar, by surname The silly people take me for a saint, Stylites, among men; I, Simeon, And bring me offerings of fruit and The watcher on the column till the end ; flowers :

I, Simeon, whose brain the sunshine And I, in truth (thou wilt bear witness

bakes ; here)

I, whose bald brows in silent hours Have all in all endured as much, and


Unnaturally hoar with rime, do now Than many just and holy men, whose From my high nest of penance here pro

claim Are register'd and calendar'd for saints. That Pontius and Iscariot by my side

die :

am ;



my chest :


If it may

slow steps,

Show'd like fair seraphs. On the coals When I am gather'd to the glorious I lay,

saints. A vessel full of sin : all hell beneath While I spake then, a sting of shrewdMade me boil over. Devils pluck'd my

est pain sleeve,

Ran shrivelling thro' me, and a cloudlike Abaddon and Asmodeus caught at me.

change, Ismote them with the cross; they In passing, with a grosser film made thick swarm'd again.

These heavy, horny eyes. The end ! the In bed like monstrous apes they crush'd

end !

Surely the end! What's here? a shape, They Alapp'd my light out as I read : I

a shade,

A flash of light. Is that the angel there Their faces grow between me and my That holds a crown? Come, blessed book ;

brother, come. With colt-like whinny and with hoggish I know thy glittering face. I waited whine

long; They burst my prayer. Yet this way My brows are ready. What! deny it was left,

now ? And by this way I 'scaped them. Mortify Nay, draw, draw, draw nigh. So I Your flesh, like me, with scourges and

clutch it. Christ ! with thorns ;

'Tis gone : 'tis here again ; the crown ! Smite, shrink not, spare not.

the crown! be, fast

So now 'tis fitted on and grows to ne, Whole Lents, and pray. I hardly, with And from it melt the dews of Paracise,

Sweet ! sweet ! spikenard, and baln, and With slow, faint steps, and much exceed

frankincense. ing pain,

Ah ! let me not be fool'd, sweet siints : Have scrambled past those pits of fire,

I trust that still

That I am whole, and clean, and meet Sing in mine ears. But yield not me the

for Heaven. praise :

Speak, if there be a priest, a man of God only thro' his bounty hath thought God, fit,

Among you there, and let him presently Among the powers and princes of this Approach, and lean a ladder on the shaft, world,

And climbing up into my airy home, To make me an example to mankind, Deliver me the blessed sacrament ; Which few can reach to. Yet I do not For by the warning of the Holy Ghos:, say

I prophesy that I shall die to-night, But that a time may come —

e-yea, even

A quarter before twelve. now,

But thou, O Lord, Now, now, his footsteps smite the thresh

Aid all this foolish people ; let them take old stairs

Example, pattern: lead them to thy light. Of life—I say, that time is at the doors When you may worship me without reproach ;

THE TALKING OAK, For I will leave my relics in your land, And you may carve a shrine about my ONCE more the gate behind me falls ; dust,

Once more before my face And burn a fragrant lamp before my I see the moulder'd Abbey-walls, bones,

That stand within the chace.

« PreviousContinue »