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poor

mother! And you, poor desolate father, and poor

me, The little senseless, worthless, wordless

babe, Saved when your life was wreck'd !

FATHER.

FATHER

morn

Desolate ? yes ! Desolate as that sailor whom the storm Had parted from his comrade in the boat, And dash'd half dead on barren sands,

was I.

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Ay, poor Muriel, when you hear What follows! Miriam loved me from the

first, Not thro’ the ring; but on her marriageThis birthday, death-day, and betrotbal

ring, Laid on her table overnight, was gone; And after hours of search and doubt and

threats, And hubbub, Muriel enter'd with it,

• See ! Found in a chink of that old moulder'd

floor !' My Miriam nodded with a pitying smile, As who should say that those who lose

can find.' Then I and she were married for a year, One year without a storm, or even a cloud; And you, my Miriam, born within the

year; And she, my Miriam, dead within the

year. I sat beside her dying, and she gaspt: • The books, the miniature, the lace are

hers, My ring too when she comes of age, or

when She marries; you — you loved me, kept

Nay, you were my one solace; only - you Were always ailing. Muriel's mother,

sent, And sure am I, by Muriel, one day came And saw you, shook her head, and patted

yours, And smiled, and making with a kindly

pinch Each poor pale cheek a momentary rose – That should be fix’d,' she said; your pretty

bud, So blighted here, would flower into full

health Among our heath and bracken. Let her

come! And we will feed her with our mountain

air, And send her home to you rejoicing.'

No
We could not part. And

once, when

you, my girl, Rode on my shoulder home the tiny fist Had graspt a daisy from your mother's

grave By the lych-gate was Muriel. “Ay,' she

said, • Among the tombs in this damp vale of

yours ! You scorn my mother's warning, but the

cbild Is paler than before. We often walk In open sun, and see beneath our feet The mist of autumn gather from your lake, And shroud the tower; and once we only Your gilded vane,

a light above the mist

your word.

You love me still,

“ Io t'amo." — Muriel

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saw

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nay!

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Our old bright bird that still is veering And then the tear fell, the voice broke. there

Her heart ! Above his four gold letters —'and the light,' I gazed into the mirror, as a man She said, 'was like that light'- and there Who sees his face in water, and a stone, she paused,

That glances from the bottom of the pool, And long; till I, believing that the girl's Strike upward thro' the shadow; yet at Lean fancy, groping for it, could not find

last, One likeness, laugh'd a little and found her Gratitude - loneliness desire to keep two

So skilled a nurse about you always – • A warrior's crest above the cloud of war'

Some half remorseful kind of pity too A fiery phenix rising from the smoke, Well ! well, you know I married Muriel The pyre he burnt in.' — Nay,' she said,

Erne. the light

• I take thee Muriel for my wedded That glimmers on the marsh and on the

wife' grave.'

I had forgotten it was your birthday, And spoke no more, but turn’d and past

childaway.

When all at once with some electric thrill Miriam, I am not surely one of those A cold air pass'd between us, and the Caught by the flower that closes on the

hands fly,

Fell from each other, and were join'd But after ten slow weeks her fix'd intent,

again. In aiming at an all but hopeless mark No second cloudless honeymoon was To strike it, struck. I took, I left you

mine. there;

For by and by she sicken'd of the farce, I came, I went, was happier day by day; She dropt the gracious mask of motherFor Muriel nursed you with a mother's

hood, care;

She came no more to meet me, carrying Till on that clear and heather - scented

you, height

Nor ever cared to set you on her knee, The rounder cheek had brighten’d into Nor ever let you gambol in her sight, bloom.

Nor ever cheer'd you with a kindly smile, She always came to meet me carrying you, Nor ever ceased to clamor for the ring; And all her talk was of the babe she Why had I sent the ring at first to her ? loved;

Why had I made her love me thro' the So, following her old pastime of the brook, ring, She threw the fly for me; but oftener left And then had changed ? so fickle are men That angling to the mother. • Muriel's

the best! health

Not she but now my love

was hers Had weaken’d, nursing little Miriam. again, Strange !

The ring by right, she said, was bers She used to shun the wailing babe, and again.

360 dotes

At times too shrilling in her angrier moods, On this of yours.' But when the matron • That weak and watery nature love you ?

No! That hinted love was only wasted bait, Io t'amo, Io t'amo”!' flung herself Not risen to, she was bolder. • Ever since Against my heart, but often while her lips You sent the fatal ring'— I told her ósent Were warm upon my cheek, an icy breath, To Miriam,' • Doubtless — ay, but ever As from the grating of a sepulchre, since

Past over both. I told her of my vow, In all the world my dear one sees but No pliable idiot I to break my vow; you

But still she made her outcry for the ring; In your sweet babe she finds but you she For one monotonous fancy madden'd her, makes

Till I myself was madden'd with her Her heart a mirror that reflects but you.'

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saw

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cry,

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And even that Io tamo,' those three Then, hurrying home, I found her not in sweet

bouse Italian words, became a weariness.

Or garden — up the tower— an icy air My people too were scared with eerie

Fled by me. There, the chest was open sounds,

- all A footstep, a low throbbing in the walls, The sacred relics tost about the floor A noise of falling weights that never fell, Among them Muriel lying on her face Weird whispers, bells that rang without a I raised her, callid her, Muriel, Muriel, hand,

wake!' Door handles turn'd when none was at the The fatal ring lay near her; the glazed door,

eye And bolted doors that open’d of themselves; Glared at me as in horror. Dead! I took And one betwixt the dark and light had seen And chafed the freezing hand. A red Her, bending by the cradle of her babe. 381

mark ran All round one finger pointed straight, the

rest And I remember once that being waked Were crumpled inwards. Dead !- and By noises in the house — and no

maybe stung

With some remorse, had stolen, worn the I cried for nurse, and felt a gentle hand

ring Fall on my forehead, and a sudden face Then torn it from her finger, or as if Look'd in upon me like gleam and pass'd, For never had I seen her show remorse And I was quieted, and slept again.

As if Or is it some half memory of a dream ?

those two ghost lovers — FATHER. Your fifth September birthday.

Lovers yet

MIRIAM.

one

near

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MIRIAM.

FATHER

MIRIAM.

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The hand, - my mother.

FATHER.

FATHER.

— but dead so long, gone up so far,
That now their ever-rising life has dwarf'd
Or lost the moment of their past on earth,
As we forget our wail at being born -
As if —

392

MIRIAM.

- a dearer ghost had

FATHER.

- wrench'd it away.

Miriam, on that day Two lovers parted by so scurrilous tale Mere want of gold -- and still for twenty

years Bound by the golden cord of their first

love -
Had ask'd us to their marriage, and to share
Their marriage - banquet. Muriel, paler

then
Than ever you were in your cradle, moan'd,
I am fitter for my bed, or for my grave,
I cannot go, go you. And then she rose,
She clung to me with such a hard embrace,
So lingeringly long, that half-amazed
I parted from her, and I went alone.
And when the bridegroom murmur'd,

• With this ring,'
I felt for what I could not find, the key,
The guardian of her relics, of her ring.
I kept it as a sacred amulet
About me,

gone ! and gone in that em-
brace !

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Well, no more! No bridal music this ! but fear not you ! You have the ring she guarded; that poor

link

In the night, 0, the night! O, the death watch beating !

V

With earth is broken, and has left her

free, Except that, still drawn downward for an

hour, Her spirit hovering by the church, where

she Was married too, may linger, till she sees Her maiden coming like a queen, who

leaves Some colder province in the North to gain Her capital city, where the loyal bells Clash welcome — linger, till her own, the

babe She lean'd to from her spiritual sphere, Her lonely maiden princess, crowned with

flowers, Has enter'd on the larger woman-world Of wives and mothers.

But the bridal veil Your nurse is waiting. Kiss me, child, and

go.

There will come a witness soon

Hard to be confuted,
All the world will hear a voice

Scream you are polluted -
In the night! O, the night,
When the owls are wailing !

VI
Shame and marriage, shame and marriage

Fright and foul dissembling, Bantering bridesman, reddening priest, Tower

and altar trembling – In the night, O, the night, When the mind is failing !

440

VII

FORLORN

Mother, dare you kill your child ?

How your hand is shaking !
Daughter of the seed of Cain,

What is this you 're taking ? -
In the night, 0, the night,
While the house is sleeping.

I

VIII

.He is filed - I wish him dead

He that wrought my ruin O, the flattery and the craft Which were my undoing In the night, in the night, When the storms are blowing.

Dreadful ! bas it come to this,

O unhappy creature ?
You that would not tread on a worm

For your gentle nature
In the night, 0, the night,
0, the night of weeping !

IX

II • Who was witness of the crime ?

Who shall now reveal it ?
He is fled, or he is dead,

Marriage will conceal it
In the night, in the night,
While the gloom is growing.'

Murder would not veil your sin,

Marriage will not hide it,
Earth and Hell will brand your name,

Wretch, you must abide it -
In the night, 0, the night,
Long before the dawning.

III

X

Catherine, Catherine, in the night,

What is this you 're dreaming ? There is laughter down in hell

At your simple scheming –
In the night, in the night,
When the ghosts are fleeting.

Up, get up, and tell him all,

Tell him you were lying !
Do not die with a lie in your mouth,

You that know you ’re dying -
In the night, O, the night,
While the grave is yawning.

IV

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You to place a hand in his

Like an honest woman's, You that lie with wasted lungs

Waiting for your summons —

No — you will not die before,

Tho' you 'll ne'er be stronger;

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VI

once

I

Suggested by the quotation from an archæological letter by Rev. Bourchier James, ap- My warrior of the Holy Cross and of the pended to the poem by Tennyson.

conquering sword,
The roses that you cast aside

more I bring you these. WAY wail you, pretty plover ? and what is No nearer ? do you scorn me when you tell it that you fear ?

me, O my lord, Is he sick, your mate, like mine? have You would not mar the beauty of your you lost him, is he fled ?

bride with your

disease. And there - the heron rises from his watch

beside the mere, And flies above the leper's hut, where You say your body is so foul then here lives the living-dead.

I stand apart,
Who yearn to lay my loving head upon

your leprous breast. Come back, nor let me know it ! would he The leper plague may scale my skin, but live and die alone ?

never taint any heart; And has he not forgiven me yet, bis over- Your body is not foul to me, and body is jealous bride,

foul at best.

VII

II

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