Page images
PDF
EPUB

120

1“What Power ? aught akin to Mind,

The mind in me and you ?
Or power as of the Gods gone blind

Who see not what they do ?

80

His winter chills him to the root,

He withers marrow and mind;
The kernel of the shriveli'd fruit

Is jutting thro' the rind;
The tiger spasms tear his chest,

The palsy wags his head;
The wife, the sons, who love him best

Would fain that he were dead; The griefs by which he once was wrung

Were never worth the while"

of ours,

But some in yonder city hold, my son,
That none but gods could build this house
So beautiful, vast, various, so beyond
All work of man, yet, like all work of man,
A beauty with defect - till That which

knows, And is not known, but felt thro' what we

feel Within ourselves is highest, shall descend On this half-deed, and shape it at the last According to the Highest in the High

est.

[blocks in formation]

90

The placid gleam of sunset after storm!
66 The statesman's brain that sway'd the past

Is feebler than his knees ;
The passive sailor wrecks at last

In ever-silent seas ;
The warrior bath forgot his arms,

The learned all his lore;
The changing market frets or charms

140 The merchant's hope no more : The prophet's beacon burn'd in vain,

And now is lost in cloud;
The plowman passes, bent with pain,

To mix with what he plow'd;
The poet whom his age would quote

As heir of endless fame
He knows not even the book he wrote,

Not even his own name.
For man has overlived his day,

150 And, darkening in the light, Scarce feels the senses break away

To mix with ancient Night." The shell must break before the bird can

fly.

“What Power but the Years that make

And break the vase of clay,
And stir the sleeping earth, and wake

The bloom that fades away?
What rulers but the Days and Hours

That cancel weal with woe,
And wind the front of youth with flowers,

And cap our age with snow ?
The days and hours are ever glancing by,
And seem to flicker past thro' sun and

shade, Or short, or long, as Pleasure leads, or

Pain, But with the Nameless is nor day nor hour; Tho' we, thin minds, who creep from

thought to thought, Break into “ Thens” and “ Whens ” the

Eternal Now This double seeming of the single world! My words are like the babblings in a

dream Of nightmare, when the babblings break

the dream. But thou be wise in this dream-world of

ours, Nor take thy dial for thy deity, But make the passing shadow serve thy

will.

100

160

IIO

"" The years that made the stripling wise

Undo their work again,
And leave him, blind of heart and eyes,

The last and least of men;
Who clings to earth, and once would dare

Hell-heat or Arctic cold,
And now one breath of cooler air

Would loose him from his hold.

“ “ The years that when my youth began

Had set the lily and rose
By my ways where'er they ran,

Have ended mortal foes;
My rose of love for ever gone,

My lily of truth and trust
They made her lily and rose in one,

And changed her into dust.
O rose-tree planted in my grief,

And growing on her tomb,
Her dust is greening in your leaf,

Her blood is in your bloom.
O slender lily waving there,

And laughing back the light,
In vain you tell me 'Earth is fair'

When all is dark as night."

210

My son, the world is dark with griefs and Our village miseries, might be borne in graves,

white So dark that men cry out against the hea- To burial or to burning, hymn'd from vens.

hence Who knows but that the darkness is in With songs in praise of death, and crown'd man ?

with flowers ! The doors of Night may be the gates of

6“ ( worms and maggots of to-day Light;

Without their hope of wings ! ” For wert thou born or blind or deaf, and then

But louder than thy rhyme the silent Word Suddenly heald, how wouldst thou glory Of that world-prophet in the heart of man.

in all The splendors and the voices of the world !

"“ Tho' some have gleams, or so they say, And we, the poor earth's dying race, and

Of more than mortal things." yet

To-day ? but what of yesterday? for oft No phantoms, watching from a phantom

On me, when boy, there came what then I shore

call’d, A wait the last and largest sense to make Who knew no books and no philosophies, The phantom walls of this illusion fade,

In iny boy - phrase, “ The Passion of the And show us that the world is wholly fair.

Past.

The first gray streak of earliest summer6“ But vain the tears for darken'd years

dawn, As laughter over wine, And vain the laughter as the tears,

The last long strife of waning crimson O brother, mine or thine,

gloom, For all that laugh, and all that weep

As if the late and early were but one — And all that breathe are one

A height, a broken grange, a grove, a Slight ripple on the boundless deep

flower That moves, and all is gone.”

Had murmurs, “Lost and gone, and lost

179

220

190

and gone!”

But that one ripple on the boundless deep
Fuels that the deep is boundless, and it-

self
For ever changing form, but evermore
One with the boundless inotion of the deep.

A breath, a whisper some divine fare

well Desolate sweetness

far and far away What had he loved, what had he lost, the

boy?

"“Yet wine and laughter, friends ! and set

The lamps alight, and call For golden music, and forget

The darkness of the pall.”

230

If utter darkness closed the day, my

I know not, and I speak of what has been.
• And more, my son ! for more than once

when I
Sat all alone, revolving in myself
The word that is the symbol of myself,
The mortal limit of the Self was loosed,
And past into the Nameless, as a cloud
Melts into heaven. I touch'd my limbs

the limbs
Were strange, not mine and yet no shade

of doubt, But utter clearness, and thro' loss of self The gain of such large life as match'd with

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

ours

But earth's dark forehead flings athwart

the heavens Her shadow crown'd with stars

der — out To northward some that never set, but

pass From sight and night to lose themselves in

day. I hate the black negation of the bier, And wish the dead, as happier than our

selves And higher, having climb’d one step

yond

Were sun to spark

unshadowable in words, Themselves but shadows of a shadow.

world.

e

[blocks in formation]

The clouds themselves are children of the

Sun.

280

And Night and Shadow rule below

When only Day should reign."

And lay thine uphill shoulder to the wheel, And climb the Mount of Blessing, whence,

if thou Look higher, then — perchance — thon may

est beyond A hundred ever-rising mountain lines, And past the range of Night and Shadow The high-heaven dawn of more than mortal

day Strike on the Mount of Vision !

So, farewell.'

see

THE FLIGHT

250

A very early poem, as we learn from the ' Memoir,' though not printed until 1885.

I ARE you sleeping ? have you forgotten ?

do not sleep, my sister dear! How can you sleep ? the morning brings

the day I hate and fear; The cock has crow'd already once, he crows

before his time; Awake ! the creeping glimmer steals, the

hills are white with rime.

259

II

And Day and Night are children of the

Sun, And idle gleams to thee are light to me. Some say, the Light was father of the

Night, And some, the Night was father of the

Light, No night, no day ! -I touch thy world

again No ill, no good ! such counter-terms, my

son, Are border-races, holding each its own By endless war. But night enough is there In yon dark city. Get thee back; and since The key to that weird casket, which for

thee But holds a skull, is neither thine nor mine, But in the hand of what is more than man, Or in man's hand when man is more than

man, Let be thy wail, and help thy fellow-men, And make thy gold thy vassal, not thy

king, And fling free alms into the beggar's bowl, And send the day into the darken'd heart; Nor list for guerdon in the voice of men, A dying echo from a falling wall; Nor care —

for Hunger hath the evil eye To vex the noon with fiery gems, or fold Thy presence in the silk of sumptuous

looms; Nor roll thy viands on a luscious tongue, Nor drown thyself with flies in honeyed

wine; Nor thou be rageful, like a handled bee, And lose thy life by usage of thy sting; 270 Nor harm an adder thro the lust for harm, Nor make a snail's horn shrink for winton

ness. And more

think well Do-well will follow_thought, And in the fatal sequence of this world An evil thonght may soil thy children's

blood; But curb the beast would cast thee in the

mire, And leave the hot swamp of voluptuous

ness, A cloud between the Nameless and thyself,

[blocks in formation]

х

V

40

XI

20

VI

XII

more

VII

The blackthorn-blossom fades and falls and

leaves the bitter sloe, The hope I catch at vanishes, and youth is He left us weeping in the woods; his boat turn'd to woe.

was on the sand; How slowly down the rocks he went, how

loth to quit the land ! Come, speak a little comfort ! all night I And all my life was darken'd, as I saw the pray'd with tears,

white sail run, And yet no comfort came to me, and now And darken, up that lane of light into the the morn appears,

setting sun. When he will tear me from your side, who

bought me for his slave; This father pays his debt with me, and How often have we watch'd the sun fade weds me to my grave.

from us thro' the West, And follow Edwin to those isles, those

Islands of the Blest ! What father, this or mine, was he, who, on

Is he not there? would I were there, the that summer day

friend, the bride, the wife, When I had fallen from off the crag we

With him, where summer never dies, with clamber'd up in play,

Love, the sun of life! Found, fear'd me dead, and groan’d, and

took and kiss'd me, and again He kiss'd me; and I loved him tben; he

O, would I were in Edwin's arms - once was my father then.

to feel his breath Upon my cheek — on Edwin's ship, with

Edwin, even in death, No father now, the tyrant vassal of a ty

Tho' all about the shuddering wreck the

death-white sea should rave, rant vice ! The godless Jephtha vows his child .

Or if lip were laid to lip on the pillows of

the wave! to one cast of the dice. These ancient woods, this Hall at last will

go — perhaps have gone, Except his own meek daughter yield her

Shall I take him? I kneel with him? I

swear and swear forsworn life, heart, soul to one —

To love him most whom most I loathe, to

honor whom I scorn ?

The Fiend would yell, the grave would To one who knows I scorn him. O, the formal mocking bow,

yawn, my mother's ghost would

rise The cruel smile, the courtly phrase that To lie, to lie — in God's own house — the masks his malice now –

blackest of all lies ! But often in the sidelong eyes a gleam of all

things ill It is not Love but Hate that weds a bride

Why — rather than that hand in mine, tho' against her will;

every pulse would freeze, I'd sooner fold an icy corpse dead of some

foul disease. Hate, that would pluck from this true Wed him? I will not wed him, let tbem breast the locket that I wear,

spurn me from the doors, The precious crystal into which I braided And I will wander till I die about the bar

Edwin's hair !
The love that keeps this heart alive beats

on it night and day One golden curl, his golden gift, before he The dear, mad bride who stabb'd her bride past away.

groom on ber bridal night

XIII

VIII

50

30

XIV

a

IX

ren moors.

XV

[blocks in formation]

XXI Wild flowers blowing side by side in God's

free light and air, Wild flowers of the secret woods, when

Edwin found us there, Wild woods in which we roved with him,

and heard his passionate vow, Wild woods in which we rove no more, if we be parted now !

XXII You will not leave me thus in grief to wan

der forth forlorn; We never changed a bitter word, not once

since we were born; Our dying mother join'd our hands; she

knew this father well; She bade us love, like souls in heaven, and now I fly from hell,

XXIII And you with me; and we shall light upon

some lonely shore, Some lodge within the waste sea-dunes, and

hear the waters roar, And see the ships from out the West go

dipping thro' the foam, And sunshine on that sail at last which

brings our Edwin home.

XVII

90

They love their mates, to whom they sing;

or else their songs, that meet The morning with such music, would never

be so sweet! And tho' these fathers will not hear, the

blessed Heavens are just, And Love is fire, and burns the feet would trample it to dust.

XVIII A door was open'd in the house — who?

who ? my father sleeps ! A stealthy foot upon the stair ! he

- this way creeps ! If he ? yes, he – lurks, listens, fears his

victim may have fled — He ! where is some sharp-pointed thing ?

he comes, and finds me dead.

[ocr errors]

some

XXIV

one

70

But look, the morning grows apace, and

lights the old church-tower, And lights the clock ! the hand points five

0, me ! - it strikes the hour I bide no more, I meet my fate, whatever

ills betide! Arise, my own true sister, come forth ! the

world is wide.

[blocks in formation]

XXV And yet my heart is ill at ease, my eyes are

dim with dew, I seem to see a new-dug grave up yonder

by the yew ! If we should never more return, but wan

der hand in hand With breaking hearts, without a friend,

and in a distant land !

XX

but we

100

XXVI

Our gentle mother, had she lived

were left alone. That other left us to ourselves, he cared

not for his own; So all the summer long we roam'd in these

wild woods of ours, My Edwin loved to call us then his two

wild woodland flowers.'

O sweet, they tell me that the world is

hard, and harsh of mind, But can it be so hard, so harsh, as those

that should be kind ?

80

« PreviousContinue »