Page images

My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech — (which I have not) — to make your
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark” — and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set 4o
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
— E'en then would be some stooping; and I
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave com-

mands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet

The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence 5o
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me !


* - ca --Morning, evening, noon and night, “Praise God!” sang Theocrite.

Then to his poor trade he turned, Whereby the daily meal was earned. Hard he laboured, long and well; O'er his work the boy's curls fell.

But ever, at each period,
He stopped and sang, “Praise God!”

Then back again his curls he threw,
And cheerful turned to work anew. ro

Said Blaise, the listening monk, “Well done; I doubt not thou art heard, my son:

“As well as if thy voice to-day
Were praising God, the Pope's great way.

“This Easter Day, the Pope at Rome Praises God from Peter's dome.”

Said Theocrite, “Would God that I
Might praise him that great way, and die!”

Night passed, day shone, And Theocrite was gone,

With God a day endures alway, A thousand years are but a day.

God said in heaven, “Nor day nor night Now brings the voice of my delight.”

Then Gabriel, like a rainbow’s birth, Spread his wings and sank to earth;

Entered, in flesh, the empty cell,

Lived there, and played the craftsman well;

And morning, evening, noon and night, Praised God in place of Theocrite.

And from a boy, to youth he grew: The man put off the stripling's hue:

The man matured and fell away Into the season of decay:

And ever o'er the trade he bent, And ever lived on earth content.

(He did God's will; to him, all one If on the earth or in the sun.)

God said, “A praise is in mine ear; There is no doubt in it, no fear:

“So sing old worlds, and so
New worlds that from my footstool go.

“Clearer loves sound other ways: I miss my little human praise.”

Then forth sprang Gabriel's wings, off fell The flesh disguise, remained the cell.

'Twas Easter Day: he flew to Rome, And paused above Saint Peter's dome.

In the tiring-room close by The great outer gallery,

With his holy vestments dight, Stood the new Pope, Theocrite:

And all his past career Came back upon him clear,

Since when, a boy, he plied his trade, Till on his life the sickness weighed;

And in his cell, when death drew near, An angel in a dream brought cheer:

And rising from his sickness drear,
He grew a priest, and now stood here.

[blocks in formation]

You acquiesce, and shall I repine? What, man of music, you grown grey With notes and nothing else to say, Is this your sole praise from a friend, “Greatly his opera's strains intend, But in music we know how fashions end l’”

I gave my youth; but we ride, in fine.

Who knows what's fit for us? Had fate
Proposed bliss here should sublimate 90
My being — had I signed the bond –
Still one must lead some life beyond,
Have a bliss to die with, dim-descried.
This foot once planted on the goal,
This glory-garland round my soul,
Could I descry such P Try and test |
I sink back shuddering from the quest.
Earth being so good, would heaven seem best?
Now, heaven and she are beyond this ride.
And yet — she has not spoke so long ! roo
What if heaven be that, fair and strong
At life's best, with our eyes upturned
Whither life's flower is first discerned,
We, fixed so, ever should so abide 2
What if we still ride on, we two,
With life forever old yet new,
Changed not in kind but in degree,
The instant made eternity, —
And heaven just prove that I and she

Ride, ride together, forever ride? I to



Let us begin and carry up this corpse,
Singing together.
Leave we the common crofts, the vulgar thorpes
Each in its tether
Sleeping safe on the bosom of the plain,
Cared-for till cock-crow:
Look out if yonder be not day again
Rimming the rock-row !
That's the appropriate country;
Rarer, intenser, ro
Self-gathered for an outbreak, as it ought,
Chafes in the censer.
Leave we the unlettered plain its herd and crop;
Seek we sepulture
On a tall mountain, citied to the top,
Crowded with culture |
All the peaks soar, but one the rest excels;
Clouds overcome it;

there, man's

No! yonder sparkle is the citadel's
Circling its summit. 2d
Thither our path lies; wind we up the heights;
Wait ye the warning?
Our low life was the level's and the night's;
He's for the morning.
Step to a tune, square chests, erect each head,
'Ware the beholders!
This is our master, famous, calm and dead,
Borne on our shoulders.

Sleep, crop and herd I sleep, darkling thorpe and
Safe from the weather! 30
He, whom we convoy to his grave aloft,
Singing together,
He was a man born with thy face and throat,
Lyric Apollo!
Long he lived nameless: how should Spring take
Winter would follow 2
Till lo, the little touch, and youth was gone!
Cramped and diminished,
Moaned he, “New measures, other feet anon!

My dance is finished”? 40 No, that's the world's way: (keep the mountainside,

Make for the city') He knew the signal, and stepped on with pride Over men's pity; Left play for work, and grappled with the world Bent on escaping: “What's in the scroll,” quoth he, “thou keepest furled? Show me their shaping, Theirs who most studied man, the bard and sage, – Give!” — So, he gowned him, So Straight got by heart that book to its last page: Learned, we found him. Yea, but we found him bald too, eyes like lead, Accents uncertain: “Time to taste life,” another would have said, “Up with the curtain l’” This man said rather, “Actual life comes next? Patience a moment Grant I have mastered learning's crabbed text, Still there's the comment. 6o Let me know all ! Prate not of most or least, Painful or easy! Even to the crumbs I’d fain eat up the feast, Ay, nor feel queasy.” Oh, such a life as he resolved to live, When he had learned it, When he had gathered all books had to give! Sooner, he spurned it.


Image the whole, then execute the parts —

Fancy the fabric 7o Quite, ere you build, ere steel strike fire from quartz,

Ere mortar dab brick | (Here's the town-gate reached : there's the market-place Gaping before us.) Yea, this in him was the peculiar grace (Hearten our chorus!) That before living he'd learn how to live — No end to learning: Earn the means first — God surely will contrive Use for our earning. 8o Others mistrust and say, “But time escapes: Live now or never!” He said, “What's time? Leave Now for dogs and apes! Man has Forever.” Back to his book then: head: Calculus racked him: Leaden before, his eyes grew dross of lead: Tussis attacked him. “Now, master, take a little rest l” — not hel (Caution redoubled, 90 Step two abreast, the way winds narrowly ) Not a whit troubled, Back to his studies, fresher than at first, Fierce as a dragon He (soul-hydroptic with a sacred thirst) Sucked at the flagon. Oh, if we draw a circle premature, Heedless of far gain, Greedy for quick returns of profit, sure Bad is our bargain! Ioo Was it not great? did not he throw on God, (He loves the burthen) — God's task to make the heavenly period Perfect the earthen? Did not he magnify the mind, show clear Just what it all meant? He would not discount life, as fools do here, Paid by instalment. He ventured neck or nothing — heaven's success Found, or earth's failure: I io “Wilt thou trust death or not?” He answered “Yes | Hence with life's pale lure That low man seeks a little thing to do, Sees it and does it: This high man, with a great thing to pursue, Dies ere he knows it. That low man goes on adding one to one, His hundred's soon hit:

deeper drooped his

[ocr errors]

This high man, aiming at a million,

Misses an unit. r 2 o That, has the world here – should he need the next,

Let the world mind him This, throws himself on God, and unperplexed Seeking shall find him. So, with the throttling hands of death at strife, Ground he at grammar; Still, through the rattle, parts of speech were rife: While he could stammer He settled Hoti's business — let it be 1 — Properly based Oun 13o Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic De, Dead from the waist down. Well, here's the platform, here's the proper place: Hail to your purlieus, All ye highfliers of the feathered race, Swallows and curlews | Here's the top-peak; the multitude below Live, for they can, there: This man decided not to Live but Know — Bury this man there? I4o Here — here's his place, where meteors shoot, clouds form, Lightnings are loosened, Stars come and go! Let joy break with the storm, Peace let the dew send | Lofty designs must close in like effects: Loftily lying, Leave him – still loftier than the world suspects, Living and dying.


(See Edgar's song in Lear)

My first thought was, he lied in every word, That hoary cripple, with malicious eye Askance to watch the working of his lie

On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford

Suppression of the glee, that pursed and scored Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby. 6

What else should he be set for, with his staff P
What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare
All travellers who might find him posted there,
And ask the road? I guessed what skull-like
Would break, what crutch 'gin write my epitaph
For pastime in the dusty thoroughfare, I2

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »