Page images
PDF
EPUB

They cursed us, living without laws!

They, in their pride of peace:
Who bared no blade, but in just cause:

Nor grieved, that war should cease.
O spirit of the wild hill-side!

O spirit of the steel!
We answered nothing, when they cried,

But challenged with a peal.

And, when the battle blood had poured

To slake our souls' desire:
Oh, brave to hear, how torrents roared

Beside the pinewood fire!

My brothers, whom in warrior wise

The death of deaths hath stilled!
Ah, you would understand these eyes,
Although with strange tears filled!

Lionel Johnson (1867–1902)

COMRADES

I ROSE up when the battle was dead,

I, the most wounded man of us all!
From the slain that fell, to the living that fled,

Over the waste one name I call.

Thou whose strength was an oak that branched,

Thou whose voice was a fire that burned, Thine the face that the fighting blanched,

Thine the heart that the tumult turned! Had I, beloved, when swords swept measure,

Had I but reached thee, and slain thee then: Then in thy death had my soul found pleasure,

Counting thee dead as a man with men.

Then with the peace, when the fight was ended,

Men would have asked, and I would have said, “Yonder he lies whom once I befriended,

Sharing his rest in the ranks of the dead.”

Ghosts of the riders, ghosts of the ridden,

Here keep tryst for the loves that died; Thou alone of all loves art hidden,

Never again to be near my side.
Here, beloved, when the fight has slackened,

I rise up, and a sword is mine!
Over the mounds with dead men blackened,

Ever my soul makes haste for thine.

Though thou lurk in the caverns beneath,

Though thou crouch by the moaning sea, I am a sword that leaps to its sheath,

Never at rest till I find out thee!

Oh, poor soul, all the night unstanched,

Poor heart, couched in a shameful breast, Thou, whose face at the fighting blanched, Out of the battle I bring thee-rest.

Laurence Housman (1867

JAFFAR
Shelley, take this to thy dear memory,

To praise the generous, is to think of thee.
JAFFÀR, the Barmecide, the good Vizier,
The poor man's hope, the friend without a peer,
Jaffàr was dead, slain by a doom unjust;
And guilty Hàroun, sullen with mistrust
Of what the good, and e’en the bad, might say,
Ordained that no man living from that day
Should dare to speak his name on pain of death.
All Araby and Persia held their breath;
All but the brave Mondeer: he, proud to show
How far for love a grateful soul could go,
And facing death for very scorn and grief
(For his great heart wanted a great relief),
Stood forth in Bagdad daily, in the square
Where once had stood a happy house, and there
Harangued the tremblers at the scimitar
On all they owed to the divine Jaffàr.

“Bring me this man,” the caliph cried. The man
Was brought, was gazed upon. The mutes began
To bind his arms. Welcome, brave cords,” cried he;
“From bonds far worse Jaffàr delivered me;
From wants, from shames, from loveless household fears;
Made a man's eyes friends with delicious tears;
Restored me, loved me, put me on a par
With his great self. How can I pay Jaffàr?”

Haroun, who felt that on a soul like this
The mightiest vengeance could but fall amiss,
Now deigned to smile, as one great lord of fate
Might smile upon another half as great.
He said, “Let worth grow frenzied if it will;
The caliph's judgment shall be master still.
Go: and since gifts so move thee, take this gem,
The richest in the Tartar's diadem,
And hold the giver as thou deemest fit!”

“Gifts!” cried the friend; he took, and holding it High toward the heavens, as though to meet his star, Exclaimed, “This, too, I owe to thee, Jaffàr!”

Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)

COUNSEL

IF thou shouldst bid thy friend farewell,

But for one night though that farewell may be, Press thou his hand in thine; thou canst not tell

How far from thee

Fate or caprice may lead his feet

Ere that to-morrow come. Men have been known Lightly to turn the corner of a street,

And days have grown

To months, and months to lagging years,

Before they look on loving eyes again. Parting, at best, is underlaid with tears,

With tears and pain,

Therefore, lest sudden death should come between,

Or time, or distance, clasp with pressure true
The palm of him who goeth forth; unseen,

Fate goeth too!
Yea, find thou always time to say

Some earnest word betwixt the idle talk,
Lest with thee henceforth ever, night and day,
Regret should walk.

Mary Evelyn Moore Davis (1852–1909)

TO A FRIEND WHEN we were idlers with the loitering rills,

The need of human love we little noted:

Our love was nature; and the peace that floated
On the white mist, and dwelt upon the hills,
To sweet accord subdued our wayward wills:

One soul was ours, one mind, one heart devoted,

That, wisely doting, asked not why it doted, And ours the unknown joy, which knowing kills. But now I find how dear thou wert to me;

That man is more than half of nature's treasure, Of that fair beauty which no eye can see,

Of that sweet music which no ear can measure;

And now the streams may sing for others' pleasure, The hills sleep on in their eternity.

Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849) “FAREWELL! BUT WHENEVER” FAREWELL!—but whenever you welcome the hour That awakens the night-song of mirth in your bower, Then think of the friend who once welcomed it too, And forgot his own griefs, to be happy with you. His griefs may return, -not a hope may remain Of the few that have brightened his pathway of pain, But he ne'er will forget the short vision that threw Its enchantment around him, while ling'ring with you! And still on that evening, when Pleasure fills up To the highest top sparkle each heart and each cup, Where'er my path lies, be it gloomy or bright, My soul, happy friends, shall be with you that night;

Shall join in your revels, your sports, and your wiles,
And return to me, beaming all o'er with your smiles, –
Too blest if it tell me that, 'mid the gay cheer,
Some kind voice had murmured, “I wish he were here!”

Let Fate do her worst, there are relics of joy,
Bright dreams of the past, which she cannot destroy;
Which come, in the night-time of sorrow and care,
And bring back the features that joy used to wear.
Long, long be my heart with such memories filled!
Like the vase in which roses have once been distilled, -
You may break, you may shatter the vase, if you will,
But the scent of the roses will hang round it still.

Thomas Moore (1779-1852]

AWAKE! AWAKE!”

From “ Song of the Dawn

AWAKE! awake! the stars are pale, the east is russet gray; They fade, behold the phantoms fade, that keep the gates of

Day; Throw wide the burning valves, and let the golden streets be

free, The morning watch is past-the watch of evening shall not

be.

Put off, put off your mail, ye kings, and beat your brands

to dust; A surer grasp your hands must know, your hearts a better

trust; Nay, bend aback the lance's point, and break the helmet

bar,A noise is on the morning winds; but not the noise of war!

For aye, the time of wrath is past, and near the time of rest, And honor binds the brow of man, and faithfulness his

breast, Behold, the time of wrath is past, and righteousness shall be, And the Wolf is dead in Arcady and the Dragon in the sea!

John Ruskin (1819-1900)

« PreviousContinue »