Sonnet: What a Christian Loves Most
I love to hear the church-bells peeling loud
For Angelus, before each service starts;
I am a Christian and I am so proud
To keep my soul pure till my life departs.
God’s peace descends on minds that deeply pray;
The atmosphere within a church is great;
I wish to get communion every day,
Confessing sins mortal, venial till date.
I love to pray kneeling ’fore grotto-gate
Emptying the heaviness from off my heart;
And then, I know my God will change my fate,
And help me do my duty and my part.
’Tis nice to live quite near a church always,
And spend in Piety our earthly days.
- quotes about Earth
- quotes about beginning
- quotes about intellect
- quotes about fate
- quotes about time
- quotes about divine
- quotes about life
- quotes about love
- quotes about peace
A Borough-Bailiff, who to law was train'd,
A wife and sons in decent state maintain'd,
He had his way in life's rough ocean steer'd
And many a rock and coast of danger clear'd;
He saw where others fail'd, and care had he,
Others in him should not such feelings see:
His sons in various busy states were placed,
And all began the sweets of gain to taste,
Save John, the younger, who, of sprightly parts,
Felt not a love for money-making arts:
In childhood feeble, he, for country air,
Had long resided with a rustic pair;
All round whose room were doleful ballads, songs,
Of lovers' sufferings and of ladies' wrongs;
Of peevish ghosts who came at dark midnight,
For breach of promise, guilty men to fright;
Love, marriage, murder, were the themes, with
All that on idle, ardent spirits seize;
Robbers at land and pirates on the main,
Enchanters foil'd, spells broken, giants slain;
Legends of love, with tales of halls and bowers,
Choice of rare songs, and garlands of choice
And all the hungry mind without a choice devours.
From village-children kept apart by pride,
With such enjoyments, and without a guide,
Inspired by feelings all such works infused,
John snatch'd a pen, and wrote as he perused:
With the like fancy he could make his knight
Slay half a host, and put the rest to flight;
With the like knowledge he could make him ride
From isle to isle at Parthenissa's side;
And with a heart yet free, no busy brain
Form'd wilder notions of delight and pain,
The raptures smiles create, the anguish of disdain.
Such were the fruits of John's poetic toil -
Weeds, but still proofs of vigour in the soil:
He nothing purposed but with vast delight,
Let Fancy loose, and wonder'd at her flight:
His notions of poetic worth were high,
And of his own still-hoarded poetry; -
These to his father's house he bore with pride,
A miser's treasure, in his room to hide;
Till spurr'd by glory, to a reading friend,
He kindly show'd the sonnets he had penn'd:
With erring judgment, though with heart sincere,
That friend exclaim'd, 'These beauties must appear
In magazines they claim'd their share of fame,
Though undistinguish'd by their author's name;
And with delight the young enthusiast found
The muse of Marcus with applauses crown'd.
This heard the father, and with some alarm;
'The boy,' said he, 'will neither trade nor farm,
He for both law and physic is unfit,
Wit he may have, but cannot live on wit:
Let him his talents then to learning give,
Where verse is honour'd, and where poets live.'
John kept his terms at college unreproved,
Took his degree, and left the life he loved;
Not yet ordain'd, his leisure he employ'd
In the light labours he so much enjoy'd;
His favourite notions and his daring views
Were cherish'd still, and he adored the Muse.
'A little time, and he should burst to light,
And admiration of the world excite;
And every friend, now cool and apt to blame
His fond pursuit, would wonder at his fame.'
When led by fancy, and from view retired,
He call'd before him all his heart desired;
'Fame shall be mine, then wealth shall I possess,
And beauty next an ardent lover bless;
For me the maid shall leave her nobler state,
Happy to raise and share her poet's fate.'
He saw each day his father's frugal board,
With simple fare by cautious prudence stored:
Where each indulgence was foreweigh'd with care,
And the grand maxims were to save and spare:
Yet in his walks, his closet, and his bed,
All frugal cares and prudent counsels fled;
And bounteous Fancy, for his glowing mind,
Wrought various scenes, and all of glorious kind:
Slaves of the ring and lamp! what need of you,
When Fancy's self such magic deeds can do?
Though rapt in visions of no vulgar kind,
To common subjects stoop'd our poet's mind;
And oft when wearied with more ardent flight,
He felt a spur satiric song to write;
A rival burgess his bold Muse attack'd,
And whipp'd severely for a well known fact;
For while he seem'd to all demure and shy,
Our poet gazed at what was passing by;
And e'en his father smiled when playful wit,
From his young bard, some haughty object hit.
From ancient times, the borough where they dwelt
Had mighty contests at elections felt;
Sir Godfrey Ball, 'tis true, had held in pay
Electors many for the trying day;
But in such golden chains to bind them all
Required too much for e'en Sir Godfrey Ball.
A member died, and to supply his place
Two heroes enter'd for th' important race;
Sir Godfrey's friend and Earl Fitzdonnel's son,
Lord Frederick Darner, both prepared to run;
And partial numbers saw with vast delight
Their good young lord oppose the proud old knight.
Our poet's father, at a first request,
Gave the young lord his vote and interest;
And what he could our poet, for he stung
The foe by verse satiric, said and sung.
Lord Frederick heard of all this youthful zeal,
And felt as lords upon a canvass feel;
He read the satire, and he saw the use
That such cool insult, and such keen abuse,
Might on the wavering minds of voting men produce;
Then too his praises were in contrast seen,
'A lord as noble as the knight was mean.'
'I much rejoice,' he cried, 'such worth to find;
To this the world must be no longer blind:
His glory will descend from sire to son,
The Burns of English race, the happier Chatterton.'
Our poet's mind now hurried and elate,
Alarm'd the anxious parent for his fate;
Who saw with sorrow, should their friend succeed,
That much discretion would the poet need.
Their friends succeeded, and repaid the zeal
The Poet felt, and made opposers feel,
By praise (from lords how soothing and how sweet!)
An invitation to his noble seat.
The father ponder'd, doubtful if the brain
Of his proud boy such honour could sustain;
Pleased with the favours offer'd to a son,
But seeing dangers few so ardent shun.
Thus when they parted, to the youthful breast
The father's fears were by his love impress'd:
'There will you find, my son, the courteous ease
That must subdue the soul it means to please;
That soft attention which e'en beauty pays
To wake our passions, or provoke our praise;
There all the eye beholds will give delight,
Where every sense is flatter'd like the sight;
This is your peril; can you from such scene
Of splendour part, and feel your mind serene,
And in the father's humble state resume
The frugal diet and the narrow room?'
To this the youth with cheerful heart replied,
Pleased with the trial, but as yet untried;
And while professing patience, should he fail,
He suffered hope o'er reason to prevail.
Impatient, by the morning mail conveyed,
The happy guest his promised visit paid;
And now arriving at the Hall, he tried
For air composed, serene and satisfied;
As he had practised in his room alone,
And there acquired a free and easy tone:
There he had said, 'Whatever the degree
A man obtains, what more than man is he?'
And when arrived--'This room is but a room;
Can aught we see the steady soul o'ercome?
Let me in all a manly firmness show,
Upheld by talents, and their value know.'
This reason urged; but it surpassed his skill
To be in act as manly as in will:
When he his Lordship and the Lady saw
Brave as he was, he felt oppress'd with awe;
And spite of verse, that so much praise had won,
The poet found he was the Bailiff's son.
But dinner came, and the succeeding hours
Fix'd his weak nerves, and raised his failing
Praised and assured, he ventured once or twice
On some remark, and bravely broke the ice;
So that, at night, reflecting on his words,
He found, in time, he might converse with lords.
Now was the Sister of his Patron seen -
A lovely creature, with majestic mien;
Who, softly smiling, while she looked so fair,
Praised the young poet with such friendly air;
Such winning frankness in her looks express'd,
And such attention to her brother's guest;
That so much beauty, join'd with speech so kind,
Raised strong emotions in the poet's mind;
Till reason fail'd his bosom to defend,
From the sweet power of this enchanting friend. -
Rash boy! what hope thy frantic mind invades?
What love confuses, and what pride persuades?
Awake to truth! shouldst thou deluded feed
On hopes so groundless, thou art mad indeed.
What say'st thou, wise one?--'that all powerful
Can fortune's strong impediments remove;
Nor is it strange that worth should wed to worth,
The pride of genius with the pride of birth.'
While thou art dreaming thus, the Beauty spies
Love in thy tremor, passion in thine eyes;
And with th' amusement pleased, of conquest vain,
She seeks her pleasure, careless of thy pain;
She gives thee praise to humble and confound,
Smiles to ensnare, and flatters thee to wound.
Why has she said that in the lowest state
The noble mind ensures a noble fate?
And why thy daring mind to glory call? -
That thou may'st dare and suffer, soar and fall.
Beauties are tyrants, and if they can reign,
They have no feeling for their subjects' pain:
Their victim's anguish gives their charms applause,
And their chief glory is the woe they cause:
Something of this was felt, in spite of love,
Which hope, in spite of reason, would remove.
Thus lived our youth, with conversation, books,
And Lady Emma's soul-subduing looks:
Lost in delight, astonish'd at his lot,
All prudence banish'd, all advice forgot -
Hopes, fears, and every thought, were fix'd upon
'Twas autumn yet, and many a day must frown
On Brandon-Hall, ere went my Lord to town;
Meantime the father, who had heard his boy
Lived in a round of luxury and joy,
And justly thinking that the youth was one
Who, meeting danger, was unskill'd to shun;
Knowing his temper, virtue, spirit, zeal,
How prone to hope and trust, believe and feel;
These on the parent's soul their weight impress'd,
And thus he wrote the counsels of his breast: -
'John, thou'rt a genius; thou hast some
I think, to wit,--but hast thou sterling sense?
That which, like gold, may through the world go
And always pass for what 'tis truly worth:
Whereas this genius, like a bill must take
Only the value our opinions make.
'Men famed for wit, of dangerous talents vain.
Treat those of common parts with proud disdain;
The powers that wisdom would, improving, hide,
They blaze abroad with inconsid'rate pride;
While yet but mere probationers for fame,
They seize the honour they should then disclaim;
Honour so hurried to the light must fade,
The lasting laurels flourish in the shade.
'Genius is jealous: I have heard of some
Who, if unnoticed, grew perversely dumb;
Nay, different talents would their envy raise;
Poets have sicken'd at a dancer's praise;
And one, the happiest writer of his time,
Grew pale at hearing Reynolds was sublime;
That Rutland's Duchess wore a heavenly smile -
'And I,' said he, 'neglected all the while!'
'A waspish tribe are these, on gilded wings,
Humming their lays, and brandishing their stings:
And thus they move their friends and foes among,
Prepared for soothing or satiric song.
'Hear me, my Boy; thou hast a virtuous mind -
But be thy virtues of the sober kind;
Be not a Quixote, ever up in arms
To give the guilty and the great alarms:
If never heeded, thy attack is vain;
And if they heed thee, they'll attack again;
Then too in striking at that heedless rate,
Thou in an instant may'st decide thy fate.
'Leave admonition--let the vicar give
Rules how the nobles of his flock should live;
Nor take that simple fancy to thy brain,
That thou canst cure the wicked and the vain.
'Our Pope, they say, once entertain'd the whim,
Who fear'd not God should be afraid of him;
But grant they fear'd him, was it further said,
That he reform'd the hearts he made afraid?
Did Chartres mend? Ward, Waters, and a score
Of flagrant felons, with his floggings sore?
Was Cibber silenced? No; with vigour blest,
And brazen front, half earnest, half in jest,
He dared the bard to battle, and was seen
In all his glory match'd with Pope and spleen;
Himself he stripp'd, the harder blow to hit,
Then boldly match'd his ribaldry with wit;
The poet's conquest truth and time proclaim,
But yet the battle hurt his peace and fame.
'Strive not too much for favour; seem at ease.
And rather please thyself, than bent to please:
Upon thy lord with decent care attend,
But not too near; thou canst not be a friend;
And favourite be not, 'tis a dangerous post -
Is gain'd by labour, and by fortune lost:
Talents like thine may make a man approved,
But other talents trusted and beloved.
Look round, my son, and thou wilt early see
The kind of man thou art not form'd to be.
'The real favourites of the great are they
Who to their views and wants attention pay,
And pay it ever; who, with all their skill,
Dive to the heart, and learn the secret will;
If that be vicious, soon can they provide
The favourite ill, and o'er the soul preside,
For vice is weakness, and the artful know
Their power increases as the passions grow;
If indolent the pupil, hard their task;
Such minds will ever for amusement ask;
And great the labour! for a man to choose
Objects for one whom nothing can amuse;
For ere those objects can the soul delight,
They must to joy the soul herself excite;
Therefore it is, this patient, watchful kind
With gentle friction stir the drowsy mind:
Fix'd on their end, with caution they proceed,
And sometimes give, and sometimes take the lead;
Will now a hint convey, and then retire,
And let the spark awake the lingering fire;
Or seek new joys, and livelier pleasures bring
To give the jaded sense a quick'ning spring.
'These arts, indeed, my son must not pursue;
Nor must he quarrel with the tribe that do:
It is not safe another's crimes to know,
Nor is it wise our proper worth to show: -
'My lord,' you say, 'engaged me for that worth;' -
True, and preserve it ready to come forth:
If questioned, fairly answer,--and that done,
Shrink back, be silent, and thy father's son;
For they who doubt thy talents scorn thy boast,
But they who grant them will dislike thee most:
Observe the prudent; they in silence sit,
Display no learning, and affect no wit;
They hazard nothing, nothing they assume,
But know the useful art of acting dumb.
Yet to their eyes each varying look appears,
And every word finds entrance at their ears.
'Thou art Religion's advocate--take heed,
Hurt not the cause, thy pleasure 'tis to plead;
With wine before thee, and with wits beside,
Do not in strength of reasoning powers confide;
What seems to thee convincing, certain, plain,
They will deny, and dare thee to maintain;
And thus will triumph o'er thy eager youth,
While thou wilt grieve for so disgracing truth.
With pain I've seen, these wrangling wits among,
Faith's weak defenders, passionate and young;
Weak thou art not, yet not enough on guard,
Where wit and humour keep their watch and ward:
Men gay and noisy will o'erwhelm thy sense,
Then loudly laugh at truth's and thy expense;
While the kind ladies will do all they can
To check their mirth, and cry, 'The good young man
'Prudence, my Boy, forbids thee to commend
The cause or party of thy noble friend;
What are his praises worth, who must be known,
To take a Patron's maxims for his own?
When ladies sing, or in thy presence play,
Do not, dear John, in rapture melt away;
'Tis not thy part, there will be list'ners round,
To cry Divine! and dote upon the sound;
Remember, too, that though the poor have ears,
They take not in the music of the spheres;
They must not feel the warble and the thrill,
Or be dissolved in ecstasy at will;
Beside, 'tis freedom in a youth like thee
To drop his awe, and deal in ecstasy!
'In silent ease, at least in silence, dine,
Nor one opinion start of food or wine:
Thou knowest that all the science thou can boast,
Is of thy father's simple boil'd or roast;
Nor always these; he sometimes saved his cash,
By interlinear days of frugal hash:
Wine hadst thou seldom; wilt thou be so vain
As to decide on claret or champagne?
Dost thou from me derive this taste sublime,
Who order port the dozen at a time?
When (every glass held precious in our eyes)
We judged the value by the bottle's size:
Then never merit for thy praise assume,
Its worth well knows each servant in the room.
'Hard, Boy, thy task, to steer thy way among
That servile, supple, shrewd, insidious throng;
Who look upon thee as of doubtful race,
An interloper, one who wants a place:
Freedom with these, let thy free soul condemn,
Nor with thy heart's concerns associate them.
'Of all be cautious--but be most afraid
Of the pale charms that grace My Lady's Maid;
Of those sweet dimples, of that fraudful eye,
The frequent glance designed for thee to spy;
The soft bewitching look, the fond bewailing sigh:
Let others frown and envy; she the while
(Insidious syren!) will demurely smile;
And for her gentle purpose, every day
Inquire thy wants, and meet thee in thy way;
She has her blandishments, and, though so weak,
Her person pleases, and her actions speak:
At first her folly may her aim defeat;
But kindness shown, at length will kindness meet:
Have some offended? them will she disdain,
And, for thy sake, contempt and pity feign;
She hates the vulgar, she admires to look
On woods and groves, and dotes upon a book;
Let her once see thee on her features dwell,
And hear one sigh, then liberty farewell.
'But, John, remember we cannot maintain
A poor, proud girl, extravagant and vain.
'Doubt much of friendship: shouldst thou find a
Pleased to advise thee, anxious to commend;
Should he the praises he has heard report,
And confidence (in thee confiding) court;
Much of neglected Patrons should he say,
And then exclaim--'How long must merit stay!'
Then show how high thy modest hopes may stretch,
And point to stations far beyond thy reach;
Let such designer, by thy conduct, see
(Civil and cool) he makes no dupe of thee;
And he will quit thee, as a man too wise
For him to ruin first, and then despise.
'Such are thy dangers: --yet, if thou canst
Past all the perils, all the quicksands clear,
Then may'st thou profit; but if storms prevail,
If foes beset thee, if thy spirits fail, -
No more of winds or waters be the sport,
But in thy father's mansion, find a port.'
Our poet read.--'It is in truth,' said he,
'Correct in part, but what is this to me?
I love a foolish Abigail! in base
And sordid office! fear not such disgrace:
Am I so blind?' 'Or thou wouldst surely see
That lady's fall, if she should stoop to thee!'
'The cases differ.' 'True! for what surprise
Could from thy marriage with the maid arise?
But through the island would the shame be spread,
Should the fair mistress deign with thee to wed.'
John saw not this; and many a week had pass'd,
While the vain beauty held her victim fast;
The Noble Friend still condescension show'd,
And, as before, with praises overflowed;
But his grave Lady took a silent view
Of all that pass'd, and smiling, pitied too.
Cold grew the foggy morn, the day was brief,
Loose on the cherry hung the crimson leaf;
The dew dwelt ever on the herb; the woods
Roar'd with strong blasts, with mighty showers the
All green was vanish'd, save of pine and yew,
That still displayed their melancholy hue;
Save the green holly with its berries red,
And the green moss that o'er the gravel spread.
To public views my Lord must soon attend;
And soon the ladies--would they leave their friend?
The time was fix'd--approach'd--was near--was come;
The trying time that fill'd his soul with gloom:
Thoughtful our poet in the morning rose,
And cried, 'One hour my fortune will disclose;
Terrific hour! from thee have I to date
Life's loftier views, or my degraded state;
For now to be what I have been before
Is so to fall, that I can rise no more.'
The morning meal was past; and all around
The mansion rang with each discordant sound;
Haste was in every foot, and every look
The trav'ller's joy for London-journey spoke:
Not so our youth; whose feelings at the noise
Of preparation, had no touch of joys:
He pensive stood, and saw each carriage drawn,
With lackeys mounted, ready on the lawn:
The ladies came; and John in terror threw
One painful glance, and then his eyes withdrew;
Not with such speed, but he in other eyes
With anguish read--'I pity, but despise -
Unhappy boy!--presumptuous scribbler!--you,
To dream such dreams!--be sober, and adieu!'
Then came the Noble Friend--'And will my Lord
Vouchsafe no comfort; drop no soothing word?
Yes, he must speak;' he speaks, 'My good young
You know my views; upon my care depend;
My hearty thanks to your good father pay,
And be a student.--Harry, drive away.'
Stillness reign'd all around; of late so full
The busy scene, deserted now and dull:
Stern is his nature who forbears to feel
Gloom o'er his spirits on such trials steal;
Most keenly felt our poet as he went
From room to room without a fix'd intent;
'And here,' he thought, 'I was caress'd; admired
Were here my songs; she smiled, and I aspired.
The change how grievous!' As he mused, a dame
Busy and peevish to her duties came;
Aside the tables and the chairs she drew,
And sang and mutter'd in the poet's view: -
'This was her fortune; here they leave the poor;
Enjoy themselves, and think of us no more;
I had a promise'--here his pride and shame
Urged him to fly from this familiar dame;
He gave one farewell look, and by a coach
Reach'd his own mansion at the night's approach.
His father met him with an anxious air,
Heard his sad tale, and check'd what seem'd
Hope was in him corrected, but alive;
My lord would something for a friend contrive;
His word was pledged: our hero's feverish mind
Admitted this, and half his grief resigned:
But, when three months had fled, and every day
Drew from the sickening hopes their strength away,
The youth became abstracted, pensive, dull;
He utter'd nothing, though his heart was full;
Teased by inquiring words and anxious looks,
And all forgetful of his Muse and books;
Awake he mourn'd, but in his sleep perceived
A lovely vision that his pain relieved: -
His soul, transported, hail'd the happy seat,
Where once his pleasure was so pure and sweet;
Where joys departed came in blissful view
Till reason waked, and not a joy he knew.
Questions now vex'd his spirit, most from those
Who are call'd friends, because they are not foes:
'John?' they would say; he, starting, turn'd
'John!' there was something shocking in the sound:
Ill brook'd he then the pert familiar phrase,
The untaught freedom and th' inquiring gaze;
Much was his temper touch'd, his spleen provoked,
When ask'd how ladies talk'd, or walk'd, or look'd?
'What said my Lord of politics! how spent
He there his time? and was he glad he went?'
At length a letter came, both cool and brief,
But still it gave the burden'd heart relief:
Though not inspired by lofty hopes, the youth
Placed much reliance on Lord Frederick's truth;
Summon'd to town, he thought the visit one
Where something fair and friendly would be done;
Although he judged not, as before his fall,
When all was love and promise at the hall.
Arrived in town, he early sought to know
The fate such dubious friendship would bestow;
At a tall building trembling he appear'd,
And his low rap was indistinctly heard;
A well-known servant came--'Awhile,' said he,
'Be pleased to wait; my Lord has company.'
Alone our hero sat; the news in hand,
Which though he read, he could not understand:
Cold was the day; in days so cold as these
There needs a fire, where minds and bodies freeze.
The vast and echoing room, the polish'd grate,
The crimson chairs, the sideboard with its plate;
The splendid sofa, which, though made for rest,
He then had thought it freedom to have press'd;
The shining tables, curiously inlaid,
Were all in comfortless proud style display'd;
And to the troubled feelings terror gave,
That made the once-dear friend the sick'ning slave.
'Was he forgotten?' Thrice upon his ear
Struck the loud clock, yet no relief was near:
Each rattling carriage, and each thundering stroke
On the loud door, the dream of fancy broke;
Oft as a servant chanced the way to come,
'Brings he a message?' no! he passed the room.'
At length 'tis certain; 'Sir, you will attend
At twelve on Thursday!' Thus the day had end.
Vex'd by these tedious hours of needless pain,
John left the noble mansion with disdain;
For there was something in that still, cold place,
That seemed to threaten and portend disgrace.
Punctual again the modest rap declared
The youth attended; then was all prepared:
For the same servant, by his lord's command,
A paper offer'd to his trembling hand:
'No more!' he cried: 'disdains he to afford
One kind expression, one consoling word?'
With troubled spirit he began to read
That 'In the Church my lord could not succeed;'
Who had 'to peers of either kind applied,
And was with dignity and grace denied;
While his own livings were by men possess'd,
Not likely in their chancels yet to rest;
And therefore, all things weigh'd (as he my lord,
Had done maturely, and he pledged his word),
Wisdom it seem'd for John to turn his view
To busier scenes, and bid the Church adieu!'
Here grieved the youth: he felt his father's
Must with his own be shocked and mortified;
But, when he found his future comforts placed
Where he, alas! conceived himself disgraced -
In some appointment on the London quays,
He bade farewell to honour and to ease;
His spirit fell, and from that hour assured
How vain his dreams, he suffer'd and was cured.
Our Poet hurried on, with wish to fly
From all mankind, to be conceal'd, and die.
Alas! what hopes, what high romantic views
Did that one visit to the soul infuse,
Which cherished with such love, 'twas worse than
death to lose.
Still he would strive, though painful was the
To walk in this appointed road of life;
On these low duties duteous he would wait,
And patient bear the anguish of his fate.
Thanks to the Patron, but of coldest kind,
Express'd the sadness of the Poet's mind;
Whose heavy hours were pass'd with busy men,
In the dull practice of th' official pen;
Who to superiors must in time impart;
(The custom this) his progress in their art:
But so had grief on his perception wrought,
That all unheeded were the duties taught;
No answers gave he when his trial came,
Silent he stood, but suffering without shame;
And they observed that words severe or kind
Made no impression on his wounded mind:
For all perceived from whence his failure rose,
Some grief, whose cause he deign'd not to disclose.
A soul averse from scenes and works so new,
Fear ever shrinking from the vulgar crew;
Distaste for each mechanic law and rule.
Thoughts of past honour and a patron cool;
A grieving parent, and a feeling mind,
Timid and ardent, tender and refined:
These all with mighty force the youth assail'd,
Till his soul fainted, and his reason fail'd:
When this was known, and some debate arose,
How they who saw it should the fact disclose,
He found their purpose, and in terror fled
From unseen kindness, with mistaken dread.
Meantime the parent was distress'd to find
His son no longer for a priest design'd;
But still he gain'd some comfort by the news
Of John's promotion, though with humbler views;
For he conceived that in no distant time
The boy would learn to scramble and to climb;
He little thought his son, his hope and pride,
His favour'd boy, was now a home denied:
Yes! while the parent was intent to trace
How men in office climb from place to place,
By day, by night, o'er moor and heath, and hill,
Roved the sad youth, with ever-changing will,
Of every aid bereft, exposed to every ill.
Thus as he sat, absorb'd in all the care
And all the hope that anxious fathers share,
A friend abruptly to his presence brought,
With trembling hand, the subject of his thought;
Whom he had found afflicted and subdued
By hunger, sorrow, cold, and solitude.
Silent he enter'd the forgotten room,
As ghostly forms may be conceived to come;
With sorrow-shrunken face and hair upright,
He look'd dismayed, neglect, despair, affright;
But dead to comfort, and on misery thrown,
His parent's loss he felt not, nor his own.
The good man, struck with horror, cried aloud,
And drew around him an astonish'd crowd;
The sons and servants to the father ran,
To share the feelings of the griev'd old man.
'Our brother, speak!' they all exclam'd 'explain
Thy grief, thy suffering:'--but they ask'd in vain:
The friend told all he knew; and all was known,
Save the sad causes whence the ills had grown;
But, if obscure the cause, they all agreed
From rest and kindness must the cure proceed:
And he was cured; for quiet, love, and care,
Strove with the gloom, and broke on the despair;
Yet slow their progress, and as vapours move
Dense and reluctant from the wintry grove;
All is confusion, till the morning light
Gives the dim scene obscurely to the sight;
More and yet more defined the trunks appear,
Till the wild prospect stands distinct and clear; -
So the dark mind of our young poet grew
Clear and sedate; the dreadful mist withdrew;
And he resembled that bleak wintry scene,
Sad, though unclouded; dismal, though serene.
At times he utter'd, 'What a dream was mine!
And what a prospect! glorious and divine!
Oh! in that room, and on that night to see
Those looks, that sweetness beaming all on me;
That syren-flattery--and to send me then,
Hope-raised and soften'd, to those heartless men;
That dark-brow'd stern Director, pleased to show
Knowledge of subjects I disdain'd to know;
Cold and controlling--but 'tis gone--'tis past;
I had my trial, and have peace at last.'
Now grew the youth resigned: he bade adieu
To all that hope, to all that fancy drew;
His frame was languid, and the hectic heat
Flush'd on his pallid face, and countless beat
The quick'ning pulse, and faint the limbs that bore
The slender form that soon would breathe no more.
Then hope of holy kind the soul sustain'd,
And not a lingering thought of earth remain'd;
Now heaven had all, and he could smile at Love,
And the wild sallies of his youth reprove;
Then could he dwell upon the tempting days,
The proud aspiring thought, the partial praise;
Victorious now, his worldly views were closed,
And on the bed of death the youth reposed.
The father grieved--but as the poet's heart
Was all unfitted for his earthly part;
As, he conceived, some other haughty fair
Would, had he lived, have led him to despair;
As, with this fear, the silent grave shut out
All feverish hope, and all tormenting doubt;
While the strong faith the pious youth possess'd,
His hope enlivening gave his sorrows rest;
Soothed by these thoughts, he felt a mournful joy
For his aspiring and devoted boy.
Meantime the news through various channels
The youth, once favour'd with such praise, was
'Emma,' the lady cried, 'my words attend,
Your syren-smiles have kill'd your humble friend;
The hope you raised can now delude no more,
Nor charms, that once inspired, can now restore.'
Faint was the flush of anger and of shame,
That o'er the cheek of conscious beauty came:
'You censure not,' said she, 'the sun's bright
When fools imprudent dare the dangerous gaze;
And should a stripling look till he were blind,
You would not justly call the light unkind:
But is he dead? and am I to suppose
The power of poison in such looks as those?'
She spoke, and pointing to the mirror, cast
A pleased gay glance, and curtsied as she pass'd.
My Lord, to whom the poet's fate was told,
Was much affected, for a man so cold:
'Dead!' said his lordship, 'run distracted, mad!
Upon my soul I'm sorry for the lad;
And now no doubt th' obliging world will say
That my harsh usage help'd him on his way:
What! I suppose, I should have nursed his muse,
And with champagne have brighten'd up his views;
Then had he made me famed my whole life long,
And stunn'd my ears with gratitude and song.
Still should the father bear that I regret
Our joint misfortune--Yes! I'll not forget.'
Thus they: --the father to his grave convey'd
The son he loved, and his last duties paid.
'There lies my Boy,' he cried, 'of care bereft,
And heaven be praised, I've not a genius left:
No one among ye, sons! is doomed to live
On high-raised hopes of what the Great may give;
None, with exalted views and fortunes mean,
To die in anguish, or to live in spleen:
Your pious brother soon escaped the strife
Of such contention, but it cost his life;
You then, my sons, upon yourselves depend,
And in your own exertions find the friend.'
- quotes about writers
- quotes about friendship
- quotes about sadness
- quotes about boys
- quotes about honor
- quotes about drawing
- quotes about strength
- quotes about Thanksgiving
My Mind, My Body, My Soul
My mind is a river
It flows through life
My body is my temple
Please don't hurt it
My soul is a bright room
Silent but loud
My mind, my body, my soul
My life is mine of my own
I love it even though
It is now shown
This life is my thrown
Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees
Somewhere in, in the distant night
I hear Christmas bells
The gentle snow keeps falling down on people
Who are homeward bound
That's the it's always been
The circle really never ends
Christmas seems to come and go
From the place that I don't know
Holly leaves and Christmas trees
It's that time of year
Lights aglow and mistletoe
Don't mean a thing when you're not here
As I walk, walk this lonely street
The sound of snow beneath my feet
I'll think of how it used to be
Holly leaves and Christmas trees
Use to mean so much to me
Sonnet: Lucky are They Who Choose to be My…
Lucky are they who choose to be my friends;
They’ll inculcate the good they find in me,
Repent for sins / misdeeds and make amends;
They’ll know Jesus and save their souls surely.
Lucky are they who choose to be my foes;
My life exemplary will show them Christ;
I’ll pray for their redemption too, of course;
Their hearts must change, giving up evil first.
Lucky are they who choose to be strangers;
I’ll think of them and pray for them also;
And God protects them from Satan’s dangers;
God’s love will cast its spell magical, Oh!
Lucky are they who choose to read my words;
They’ll have a peaceful, carefree life like birds!
Copyright by Dr John Celes 5-8-2006
I Shall Be Released
They say everything can be replaced
Well then distance is not near
I remember every face
Of everyone who put me here
I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now
Any day now
I shall be released
They say everyone needs protection
They say everyone must fall
Yet I swear I see my reflection
Some where so high above this wall
I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now
Any day now
I shall be released
Standing next to me in this lonely crowd
Is a man who swears hes not to blame
All day long I hear him shout so loud
That he swears he was framed
I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now
Any day now
I shall be released
I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now
Any day now
I shall be released
Any day now
Any day now
I shall be released
When I was young and God was close
And lived inside my heart,
The promises inside me rose
As I made my new start...
I gave my very life and soul
And put them in His hands,
I vowed to grant Him all control,
To old and new commands...
The years rolled by and Church felt fine
With studies, hymns and such
And most of me still towed the line
Until we two lost touch...
Of course, God hadn't moved away...
He never left my side,
But when temptations came to stay,
I lost God as my guide...
My conscience wasn't crystal clear,
There seemed no black and white,
Just twilight, grey and sometimes fear
That followed day and night...
I was a liar through and through,
My vows strewn here and there
And hard to tell God, 'I love You! '
The times I knelt in prayer...
No time machine can take me back,
I can't undo my sins,
Good conscience now, of course, I lack,
As each new day begins...
But while there's faith and joy and love
On offer every day...
Confessing sins, I look above,
With hope I will obey...
Denis Martindale, copyright, July 2012.
Time: Please pause
Just for a While,
Under any sky
On any earth;
In any place
Pause just for a while
And give me a chance
To experience true love,
On this thirsty heart of mine,
Give me a man
Who responds with warmth
To the unceasing fire
Of my passion;
Not in a cold dead like
Give me a man,
Who can give
As he can take,
I am bored to death
From the many
Silly semi men;
The mundane males
Who passed by
In theis peculiar life
Story of mine.
To Be Forgiven
Im going down
Wont you help me
Save me from myself
I hear the sound of a memory
Maybe time will tell
Suddenly my life is like a river
Taking me places I dont want to go
But like all good men who swim too well
It takes all that I have just to cry for help
Then that voice in my head
Tells me no
Im going down
Wont you help me
Save me from myself
I look around for a fantasy
Who can tell?
Let me live my life beside the river
Take me to places where a child can grow
Maybe the boy inside will forsake me
The child in me
Will just let me go
Im going down
The cold, cold water is rushing in
Im going down
And I would beg to be forgiven
If I knew my sin
The Moon And All Its Beauty
Smiling majestically in the twilight sky
enriching the beauty of the night
with it's sweet angelic face
which is the chocolate chip
in every warm chocolate chip cookie
whose beauty warms my heart and soul
for life is beautiful when I'm under your
spell of happiness for you enrich the beauty
of the night in all your charm and beauty
for my heart is warmed and touched by
every breath and smile I take when adoring
your sweet angelic face sailing majestically
in the nightly sky enriching life with gold
of happiness and peace on Earth
in knowing there is beauty in life
whenever I see your sweet, angelic face
in the nightly sky enriching Earth in all your beauty and charm
for I shall forever say
I love you moon!
Just About Now
Just about now
I'd be watching you wake up
Feeling my heart beat with yours
Just about now
Is when we would make love
Like all of the mornings before
But I know it don't help to turn the clock back
'Cause I'm not gonna make it
'Til I face this fact
This is not about trying to go back in time
This is not about where I'll be a year down the line
It's just moment to moment
This is not about then
This is just about now
Just about now
You'd pull in the driveway
And I'd be there waving hello
Run to my arms
You'd kiss me and hold me
As if you'd never let go
And it's just about now when the tears start to fall
I wonder if I'm gonna make it at all
This is not about trying to go back in time
This is not about where I'll be a year down the line
It's just moment to moment
This is not about then
This is just about now
It's just moment to moment
This is not about then
This is just about now
Advice to Youngsters
Not one’s perfect in this earthly domain;
Perfection’s something, we tend to attain;
Mistakes and blunders in life, we may do;
Repent for our sins, someday, we ought to.
God is our Helper, Protector and Guide;
By His life-tenets, we must all abide;
You act and live as per your conscience;
Forget not God despite progress in science.
Our thoughts and actions should not be reckless;
Keep body’s sanctity; be not careless;
To keep our soul stain-free, refrain from sin:
That is the only way to reach heaven.
Thank God for his remarkable kindness;
Be sure the life you lead is of fairness;
God holds His anger in undue harness;
Our earthly life should avoid ‘The Furnace.”
Whatever life, so far it could have been,
Whatever thought, word, deed, we do unseen;
God knows our every moment in our life;
In God, you take refuge, amidst your strife.
You count your blessings, God hath given you;
Thank Him for all the many things you do;
Remember our goal on earth is heaven;
We all must labor against the demon;
Comforts and beauty do not last for long;
We know the every right from every wrong;
Our human body is sacred also;
You keep your soul pure and seek God therefore.
Our love-making on earth is corporeal;
Our senses perceived may not be real;
True love is divine; you keep your virtues;
Between heaven and hell, your choice to choose.
It is not late to turn into new leaf;
In fierce winds, boats must come under a reef;
Our soul’s purity outscores other things;
The best in life, our labor only brings!
Tamerton Church-Tower, Or, First Love
We left the Church at Tamerton
In gloomy western air;
To greet the day we gallop'd on,
A merry-minded pair.
The hazy East hot noon did bode;
Our horses sniff'd the dawn;
We made ten Cornish miles of road
Before the dew was gone.
We clomb the hill where Lanson's Keep
Fronts Dartmoor's distant ridge;
Thence trotted South; walk'd down the steep
That slants to Gresson Bridge;
And paused awhile, where Tamar waits,
In many a shining coil,
And teeming Devon separates
From Cornwall's sorry soil.
Our English skies contain'd, that Spring,
A Caribbean sun;
The singing birds forgot to sing,
The rivulets to run.
For three noons past, the skies had frown'd,
Obscured with blighting shades
That only mock'd the thirsty ground
And unrejoicing glades.
To-day, before the noon was nigh,
Bright-skirted vapours grew,
And on the sky hung languidly;
The sky was languid too.
Our horses dropp'd their necks, and nosed
The dusty wayside grass,
Whilst we beneath still boughs reposed
And watch'd the water pass.
We spoke of plighted Bertha: Frank
Shot pebbles in the stream;
And I lay by him on the bank,
But dreamt no lover's dream.
She was a blythe and bashful maid,
Much blushing in her glee;
Yet gracing all she did and said
With sweet sufficiency.
‘Is Blanche as fair?’ ask'd I, who yearn'd
To feel my life complete;
To taste unselfish pleasures earn'd
By service strict and sweet.
‘Well, some say fairer: she'll surprise
Your heart with crimson lips;
Fat underlids, that hold bright eyes
In laughing half-eclipse;
Alluring locks, done up with taste
Behind her dainty ears;
And manners full of wayward haste,
Tho' facile as the deer's.’
‘You paint a leaflet, here and there;
And not the blossom: tell
What mysteries of good and fair
These blazon'd letters spell.’
‘Her mouth and teeth, by Cupid's bow!
Are letters spelling 'kiss;'
And, witchingly withdrawn below
Twin worlds of baby-bliss,
Her waist, so soft and small, may mean,
'O, when will some one come
To make me catch my breath between
His finger and his thumb!'’
My life, 'twas like a land of dreams,
Where nothing noble throve:
Dull seem'd it as to maiden seems
The verse that's not of love.
‘See where,’ sigh'd I, ‘the water dim
Repeats, with leaden hue,
The fervid sun, the cloud's hot rim,
The gap of dazzling blue!’
Quoth Frank, ‘I do, and hence foresee
And all too plainly scan
Some sentimental homily
On Duty, Death, or Man.’
‘'Tis this;’ said I, ‘our senses mar,
Ev'n so, sweet Nature's face,
Unless by love revived they are,
Or lit by heavenly grace.
Below the hazel talks the rill;
My heart speaks not again;
The solemn cloud, the stately hill,
I look on each in vain.
Sure he for whom no Power shall strike
This darkness into day—’
‘Is damn'd,’ said Frank, who morall'd like
The Fool in an old Play.
‘That's true!’ cried I, ‘yet, as the worm
That sickens ere it change—’
‘Or as the pup that nears the term
At which pups have the mange—
Pooh! Come, Man, let us on,’ he said,
‘For now the storm is nigh!’
And whilst we rode quaint sense we read
Within the changing sky.
Above us bent a prophet wild,
Pointing to hidden harm;
Beyond, a magic woman smiled,
And wove some wondrous charm;
Past that, a censer jetted smoke:
Black convolutions roll'd
Sunwards, and caught the light, and broke
In crowns of shining gold.
The gaps of blue shrank fast in span;
The long-forgotten breeze,
By lazy starts and fits, began
To stir the higher trees.
At noon, we came to Tavistock;
And sunshine still was there,
But gloomy Dartmoor seem'd to mock
Its weak and yellow glare.
The swallows, in the wrathful light,
Were pitching up and down;
A string of rooks made rapid flight,
Due southward, o'er the town,
Where, baiting at the Tiger-Inn,
We talk'd by windows wide,
Of Blanche and all my unseen kin,
Who did our coming bide.
The heavy sign-board swung and shriek'd,
In dark air whirl'd the vane,
Blinds flapp'd, dust rose, and, straining, creak'd
The shaken window-pane;
And, just o'erhead, a huge cloud flung,
For earnest of its stores,
A few calm drops, that struck among
The light-leaved sycamores.
Hot to be gone, Frank rose and eyed
Dark cloud and swinging branch;
But less long'd he to greet his Bride
Than I to look on Blanche.
Her name, pair'd still with praise at home,
Would make my pulses start;
The hills between us were become
A weight upon my heart.
‘Behold,’ I cried, ‘the storm comes not;
The northern heavens grow fair.’
‘Look South,’ said Frank, ‘'tis one wide blot
Of thunder-threatening air.’
The string of rooks had travell'd on,
Against the southern shroud,
And, like some snaky skeleton,
Lay twisted in the cloud.
‘No storm to-day!’ said I, ‘for, see,
Yon black thing travels south.’
We follow'd soon; our spirits free,
Our bodies slaked from drouth.
I rode in silence; Frank, with tongue
Made lax by too much port,
Soliloquising, said or sung
After this tipsy sort:
‘Yea, nerves they are the Devil's mesh,
And pups begin quite blind,
And health is ofttimes in the flesh,
And measles in the mind!
‘Foolish and fair was Joan without;
Foolish and foul within;
High as a hunted pig his snout,
She carried a foolish chin.
‘The Boy beheld, and brisk rose he
At this badly painted fly:
That boys less wise than fish will be
Makes many a man to sigh.’
On, on we toil'd, amidst the blaze
From Dartmoor's ridges bare;
Beneath the hush'd and scorching haze,
And through the twinkling air;
Along the endless mountain-side,
That seem'd with us to move;
Past dreary mine-mouths, far and wide;
Huge dross-heap, wheel, and groove;
Dark towns by disembowell'd hills,
Where swarthy tribes abode,
Who, in hard rocks with harder wills,
Pursued the crooked lode;
Up heights, that seem'd against us match'd;
Until, from table-land,
Before the teasing midge was hatch'd,
We hail'd the southern strand.
Then pleasantly, on level ground
And through the lighter air,
We paced along and breathed around,
A merry-minded pair.
A western night of even cloud
Suck'd in the sultry disk;
Bright racks look'd on, a fiery crowd,
To seamen boding risk;
The late crow wing'd his silent way
Across the shadowy East;
The gnat danced out his little day,
His ceaseless singing ceased;
Along the dim horizon round
Fled faint electric fires;
Blue glow-worms lit the fresher ground
By moisture-harbouring briers;
Far northward twinkled lonely lights,
The peopled vales among;
In front, between the gaping heights,
The mystic ocean hung.
Our weary spirits flagg'd beneath
The still and loaded air;
We left behind the freër heath,
A moody-minded pair.
With senses slack and sick of mirth,
Tho' near the happy goal,
I murmur'd, fearing nought on earth
Could quite content the soul:
‘Suppose your love prove such a light
As yonder glow-worm's lamp,
That gleams, at distance, strong and bright,
Approach'd, burns weak and damp.
Perchance, by much of bliss aroused,
Your heart will pant for more;
And then the worm of want lies housed
Within the sweet fruit's core!
Far worse, if, led by fancy blind,
But undeceiv'd by use—’
‘I dream,’ yawn'd Frank, ‘and wake to find
My Goddess a green goose!’
‘Vain, vain,’ said I, ‘is worldly weal:
We faint, within the heart,
For good which all we see and feel
Foreshadows but in part.’
Frank answer'd, ‘What you faint for, win!
Faint not, but forward press.
Heav'n proffers all: 'twere grievous sin
To live content in less.
The Sun rolls by us every day;
And it and all things speak
To the sinking heart of man, and say,
'Tis wicked to be weak.
We would not hear the hated sound;
But, by the Lord, we must:
If not, the heavy world goes round,
And grinds us into dust.’
With each a moral in his mouth,
We rein'd our sweating nags,
Where quiet Ocean, on the South,
Kiss'd Edgecumb's ruddy crags.
So subtly love within me wrought,
So excellent she seem'd,
Daily of Blanche was all my thought,
Nightly of Blanche I dream'd;
And this was all my wish, and all
The work now left for life,
To make this Wonder mine, to call
This laughing Blanche my Wife.
I courted her till hope grew bold;
Then sought her in her place,
And all my passion freely told,
Before her blushing face.
I kiss'd her twice, I kiss'd her thrice,
Thro' tresses and thro' tears;
I kiss'd her lips, I kiss'd her eyes,
And calm'd her joys and fears.
So woo'd I Blanche, and so I sped,
And so, with small delay,
I and the patient Frank were wed
Upon the self-same day.
And friends all round kiss'd either Bride,
I Frank's, Frank mine; and he
Laugh'd as for once we thus defied
Love's sweet monopoly.
And then we drove by garth and grove;
And soon forgot the place
Where all the world had look'd shy Love
So rudely in the face.
The noon was hot and close and still,
When, steadying Blanche's hand,
I led her down the southern hill,
And row'd with her from land.
Ere summer's prime that year the wasp
Lay gorged within the peach;
The tide, as though the sea did gasp,
Fell lax upon the beach.
Quietly dipp'd the dripping scull,
And all beside was calm;
But o'er the strange and weary lull
No angel waved his palm.
The sun was rayless, pale the sky,
The distance thick with light:
We glided past the fort and by
The war-ship's sleeping might.
Her paddle stirr'd: without a breeze,
A mimic tempest boil'd:
The sailors on the silent seas
With storm-tuned voices toil'd.
I could not toil; I seldom pray'd:
What was to do or ask?
Love's purple glory round me play'd,
Unfed by prayer or task.
All perfect my contentment was,
For Blanche was all my care;
And heaven seem'd only heaven because
My goddess would be there.
No wafted breeze the ships did strike,
No wish unwon moved me;
The peace within my soul was like
The peace upon the sea.
At times, when action sleeps, unstirr'd
By any motive gale,
A mystic wind, with warning heard,
Ruffles life's idle sail.
The fancy, then, a fear divines,
And, borne on gloomy wings,
Sees threats and formidable signs
In simply natural things.
It smote my heart, how, yesternight,
The moon rose in eclipse,
And how her maim'd and shapeless light
O'erhung the senseless ships.
The passion pass'd, as, lightning-lit,
Red cloud-scenes shew and close;
And soon came wonder at the fit,
And smiles and full repose.
Again I turn'd me, all devote,
To my sweet Idol's shrine;
Again I gazed where, on the boat,
Her shadow mix'd with mine.
Cried Frank, who, with his Wife, was there,
‘We dream! sing each a song.’
And he sang first an old, brave air,
And pull'd the boat along:
‘Sir Pelles woo'd, in scorn's despite;
He cherish'd love's sweet smart;
Ettarde proved light; then, like a Knight,
He turn'd her from his heart.
‘O, the remorse with which we pay
For duties done too well!
But conscience gay does grief allay;
As all true knights can tell.’
‘Alas, poor Knight!’ cried Blanche, ‘Nay, hear,’
Said Frank, ‘the saddest half!’
And drearily he troll'd, while clear
Rose Blanche's puzzled laugh.
‘Sir Lob was drunk; the stars were bright.
Within an empty ditch,
Sir Lob all night lay right and tight
As a Saint within his niche.
‘Now, well, quoth he, goes life with me;
I've liquor and to spare;
I hate the herd that vulgar be;
And, O, the stars are fair!
‘The mill-dam burst: Sir Lob lay sunk
In that celestial swound:
The mill-stream found the knight dead drunk,
And the Jury found him drown'd.’
‘The tunes are good; the words,’ said I,
‘Are hard to understand.’
And soon I prefaced with a sigh
This pagan love-song grand:
‘When Love's bright Ichor fills the veins,
Love's Amaranth lights the brow,
The Past grows dark, the Future wanes,
Before the golden Now.
‘Marc Antony the war-flags furl'd,
For Egypt's Queen said, 'Stay:
He reck'd not of the worthless world,
Well lost by that delay.
‘Quoth Antony, Here set I up
My everlasting rest:
Leave me to drain Joy's magic cup,
To dream on Egypt's breast.’
Frank smiled, and said my note was wrong;
'Twas neither Man's nor Boy's;
And Blanche sang next, some modern song,
Of ‘Flowers’ and ‘Fairy Joys.’
As bright disparted skies that break
To let a cherub through,
So seem'd her mouth: my sight did ache,
Glitt'ring with fiery dew;
And, in the laugh of her brown eye,
My heart, contented so,
Lay like the honey-thirsty fly
Drows'd in the cactus' glow.
Nor heeded I what sang my Saint,
Such magic had the sound.
The myrtle in her breath made faint
The air that hearken'd round.
‘Now, Wife,’ said Frank, ‘to shame our lays,
Try you in turn your power;
And sing your little song in praise
Of Love's selectest flower.’
Her hand felt his: thus sang she then,
Submitted to his rule,
Tho' shyer than the water-hen
On Tamar's shadiest pool.
‘The Myrtle sates with scent the air
That flows by Grecian hills;
Its fervid leaflets glisten fair
By warm Italian rills.
The North too has its Lover's-Flower,
The glad Forget-me-not;
Too bold thro' sunshine, wind, and shower,
Too blue to be forgot.’
Pointing far East, Frank said, ‘Do you see
Yon porpoise-droves at play?’
We gazed, and saw, with failing glee,
Bright lines of spotted spray.
Once more the boded terror shook
My heart, and made me dumb.
‘To land! to land!’ cried Frank, ‘for, look,
The storm, at last, is come!’
Above us, heated fields of mist
For shore we pull'd; the swift keel hiss'd;
Above us grew the shroud.
The pale gull flapp'd the stagnant air;
The thunder-drop fell straight;
The first wind lifted Blanche's hair;
Looking to me she sate.
Across the boundless mirror crept,
In dark'ning blasts, the squall;
And round our terror lightly leapt
Mad wavelets, many and small.
The oars cast by, convuls'd outflew
Our perilous hope the sail.
None spoke; all watch'd the waves, that grew
Under the splashing hail.
With urgent hearts and useless hands,
We sate and saw them rise,
Coursing to shore in gloomy bands,
Below the appalling skies.
The wrathful thunder scared the deeps,
And where, upon our wake,
The sea got up in ghastly heaps,
White lines of lightning strake.
On, on, with fainting hope we fled,
Hard-hunted by the grave;
Slow seem'd it, though like wind we sped
Over the shouldering wave;
In front swift rose the crags, where still
A storm of sunshine pour'd;
At last, beneath the southern hill,
The pitiless breakers roar'd.
O, bolt foreseen before it burst!
O, chastening hard to bear!
O, cup of sweetness quite revers'd,
And turn'd to void despair!
Blanche in fear swooning, I let go
The helm; we struck the ground;
The sea fell in from stern to prow,
And Blanche, my Bride, was drown'd.
What guilt was hers? But God is great,
And all that may be known
To each of any other's fate
Is, that it helps his own.
In a swift vortex go the years,
Each swifter than the last,
And seasons four their set careers
Pursued, and somehow pass'd.
The spirit of Spring, this year, was quench'd
With clouds and wind and rain;
All night the gust-blown torrent drench'd
The gloomy window-pane;
Against the pane the flapping blind
Flapp'd ever, dismally;
And ever, above the rain and wind,
Sounded the dismal sea.
The billows, like some guilty crew
Devour'd by vain remorse,
Dash'd up the beach, sighing withdrew,
And mix'd, with murmurs hoarse.
The morning was a cheerless sight,
Amongst the turbid skies;
But sweet was the relief of light
Within my restless eyes;
For then I rose to prayer and toil,
Forgat the ocean's moan,
Or faced the dizzy crash and coil
That drown'd its mournfuller tone.
But never, when the tide drew back,
Trod I the weltering strand;
For horribly my single track
Pursued me in the sand.
One morn I watch'd the rain subside;
And then fared singly forth,
Below the clouds, till eve to ride
From Edgecumb to the North.
Once, only once, I paused upon
The sea-transcending height,
And turn'd to gaze: far breakers shone,
Slow gleams of silent light.
Into my horse I struck the spur;
Sad was the soul in me;
Sore were my lids with tears for her
Who slept beneath the sea.
But soon I sooth'd my startled horse,
And check'd that sudden grief,
And look'd abroad on crag and gorse
And Dartmoor's cloudy reef.
Far forth the air was dark and clear,
The crags acute and large,
The clouds uneven, black, and near,
And ragged at the marge.
The spider, in his rainy mesh,
Shook not, but, as I rode,
The opposing air, sweet, sharp, and fresh,
Against my hot lids flow'd.
Peat-cutters pass'd me, carrying tools;
Hawks glimmer'd on the wing;
The ground was glad with grassy pools,
And brooklets galloping;
And sparrows chirp'd, with feathers spread,
And dipp'd and drank their fill,
Where, down its sandy channel, fled
The lessening road-side rill.
I cross'd the furze-grown table-land,
And near'd the northern vales,
That lay perspicuously plann'd
In lesser hills and dales.
Then rearward, in a slow review,
Fell Dartmoor's jagged lines;
Around were dross-heaps, red and blue,
Old shafts of gutted mines,
Impetuous currents copper-stain'd,
Wheels stream-urged with a roar,
Sluice-guiding grooves, strong works that strain'd
With freight of upheaved ore.
And then, the train, with shock on shock,
Swift rush and birth-scream dire,
Grew from the bosom of the rock,
And pass'd in noise and fire.
With brazen throb, with vital stroke,
It went, far heard, far seen,
Setting a track of shining smoke
Against the pastoral green.
Then, bright drops, lodged in budding trees,
Were loos'd in sudden showers,
Touch'd by the novel western breeze,
Friend of the backward flowers.
Then rose the Church at Tavistock,
The rain still falling there;
But sunny Dartmoor seem'd to mock
The gloom with cheerful glare.
About the West the gilt vane reel'd
And pois'd; and, with sweet art,
The sudden, jangling changes peal'd
Until, around my heart,
Conceits of brighter times, of times
The brighter for past storms,
Clung thick as bees, when brazen chimes
Call down the hiveless swarms.
I rested at the Tiger Inn,
There half-way on my ride,
And mused with joy of friends and kin
Who did my coming bide.
The Vicar, in his sombre wear
That shone about the knees,
Before me stood, his aspect fair
With godly memories.
I heard again his kind ‘Good-bye:
Christ speed and keep thee still
From frantic passions, for they die
And leave a frantic will.’
My fond, old Tutor, learn'd and meek!
A soul, in strangest truth,
As wide as Asia and as weak;
Not like his daughter Ruth.
A Girl of fullest heart she was;
Her spirit's lovely flame
Nor dazzled nor surprised, because
It always burn'd the same;
And in the maiden path she trod
Fair was the wife foreshown,
A Mary in the house of God,
A Martha in her own.
Charms for the sight she had; but these
Were tranquil, grave, and chaste,
And all too beautiful to please
A rash, untutor'd taste.
In love with home, I rose and eyed
The rainy North; but there
The distant hill-top, in its pride,
Adorn'd the brilliant air:
And, as I pass'd from Tavistock,
The scatter'd dwellings white,
The Church, the golden weather-cock,
Were whelm'd in happy light;
The children 'gan the sun to greet,
With song and senseless shout;
The lambs to skip, their dams to bleat;
In Tavy leapt the trout;
Across a fleeting eastern cloud,
The splendid rainbow sprang,
And larks, invisible and loud,
Within its zenith sang.
So lay the Earth that saw the skies
Grow clear and bright above,
As the repentant spirit lies
In God's forgiving love.
The lark forsook the waning day,
And all loud songs did cease;
The Robin, from a wither'd spray,
Sang like a soul at peace.
Far to the South, in sunset glow'd
The peaks of Dartmoor ridge,
And Tamar, full and tranquil, flow'd
Beneath the Gresson Bridge.
There, conscious of the numerous noise
Of rain-awaken'd rills,
And gathering deep and sober joys
From the heart-enlarging hills,
I sat, until the first white star
Appear'd, with dewy rays,
And the fair moon began to bar
With shadows all the ways.
O, well is thee, whate'er thou art,
And happy shalt thou be,
If thou hast known, within thy heart,
The peace that came to me.
O, well is thee, if aught shall win
Thy spirit to confess,
God proffers all, 'twere grievous sin
To live content in less!
I mounted, now, my patient nag;
And scaled the easy steep;
And soon beheld the quiet flag
On Lanson's solemn Keep.
And now, whenas the waking lights
Bespake the valley'd Town,
A child o'ertook me, on the heights,
In cap and russet gown.
It was an alms-taught scholar trim,
Who, on her happy way,
Sang to herself the morrow's hymn;
For this was Saturday.
‘Saint Stephen, stoned, nor grieved nor groan'd:
'Twas all for his good gain;
For Christ him blest, till he confess'd
A sweet content in pain.
‘Then Christ His cross is no way loss,
But even a present boon:
Of His dear blood fair shines a flood
On heaven's eternal noon.’
My sight, once more, was dim for her
Who slept beneath the sea,
As on I sped, without the spur,
By homestead, heath, and lea.
Beside my path the moon kept pace,
In meek and brilliant power,
And lit, ere long, the eastern face
Of Tamerton Church-tower.
The Missionary - Canto Third
Come,--for the sun yet hangs above the bay,--
And whilst our time may brook a brief delay
With other thoughts, and, haply with a tear,
An old man's tale of sorrow thou shalt hear.
I wished not to reveal it;--thoughts that dwell
Deep in the lonely bosom's inmost cell
Unnoticed, and unknown, too painful wake,
And, like a tempest, the dark spirit shake,
When, starting from our slumberous apathy,
We gaze upon the scenes of days gone by.
Yet, if a moment's irritating flush,
Darkens thy cheek, as thoughts conflicting rush,
When I disclose my hidden griefs, the tale
May more than wisdom or reproof prevail.
Oh, may it teach thee, till all trials cease,
To hold thy course, though sorrowing, yet in peace;
Still looking up to Him, the soul's best stay,
Who Faith and Hope shall crown, when worlds are swept away!
Where fair Seville's Morisco turrets gleam
On Guadilquiver's gently-stealing stream;
Whose silent waters, seaward as they glide,
Reflect the wild-rose thickets on its side,
My youth was passed. Oh, days for ever gone!
How touched with Heaven's own light your mornings shone
Even now, when lonely and forlorn I bend,
My weary journey hastening to its end,
A drooping exile on a distant shore,
I mourn the hours of youth that are no more.
The tender thought amid my prayers has part,
And steals, at times, from Heaven my aged heart.
Forgive the cause, O God!--forgive the tear,
That flows, even now, o'er Leonora's bier;
For, 'midst the innocent and lovely, none
More beautiful than Leonora shone.
As by her widowed mother's side she knelt,
A sad and sacred sympathy I felt.
At Easter-tide, when the high mass was sung,
And, fuming high, the silver censer swung;
When rich-hued windows, from the arches' height,
Poured o'er the shrines a soft and yellow light;
From aisle to aisle, amid the service clear,
When 'Adoremus' swelled upon the ear.
(Such as to Heaven thy rapt attention drew
First in the Christian churches of Peru),
She seemed, methought, some spirit of the sky,
Descending to that holy harmony.
But wherefore tell, when life and hope were new,
How by degrees the soul's first passion grew!
I loved her, and I won her virgin heart;
But fortune whispered, we a while must part.
The minster tolled the middle hour of night,
When, waked to agony and wild affright,
I heard those words, words of appalling dread--
'The Holy Inquisition!'--from the bed
I started; snatched my dagger, and my cloak--
Who dare accuse me!--none, in answer, spoke.
The demons seized, in silence, on their prey,
And tore me from my dreams of bliss away.
How frightful was their silence, and their shade,
In torch-light, as their victim they conveyed,
By dark-inscribed, and massy-windowed walls,
Through the dim twilight of terrific halls;
(For thou hast heard me speak of that foul stain
Of pure religion, and the rights of Spain
Whilst the high windows shook to night's cold blast,
And echoed to the foot-fall as we passed!
They left me, faint and breathless with affright,
In a cold cell, to solitude and night;
Oh! think, what horror through the heart must thrill
When the last bolt was barred, and all at once was still!
Nor day nor night was here, but a deep gloom,
Sadder than darkness, wrapped the living tomb.
Some bread and water, nature to sustain,
Duly was brought when eve returned again;
And thus I knew, hoping it were the last,
Another day of lingering life was passed.
Five years immured in that deep den of night,
I never saw the sweet sun's blessed light.
Once as the grate, with sullen sound, was barred,
And to the bolts the inmost cavern jarred,
Methought I heard, as clanged the iron door,
A dull and hollow echo from the floor;
I stamped; the vault, and winding caves around,
Returned a long and melancholy sound.
With patient toil I raised a massy stone,
And looked into a depth of shade unknown;
The murky twilight of the lurid place
Helped me, at length, a secret way to trace:
I entered; step by step explored the road,
In darkness, from my desolate abode;
Till, winding through long passages of night,
I saw, at distance, a dim streak of light:--
It was the sun--the bright, the blessed beam
Of day! I knelt--I wept;--the glittering stream
Rolled on beneath me, as I left the cave,
Concealed in woods above the winding wave.
I rested on a verdant bank a while,
I saw around the summer landscape smile;
I gained a peasant's hut; nor dared to leave,
Till, with slow step, advanced the glimmering eve.
Remembering still affection's fondest hours,
I turned my footsteps to the city towers;
In pilgrim's dress, I traced the streets unknown:
No light in Leonora's lattice shone.
The morning came; the busy tumult swells;
Knolling to church, I heard the minster bells;
Involuntary to that scene I strayed,
Disguised, where first I saw my faithful maid.
I saw her, pallid, at the altar stand,
And yield, half-shrinking, her reluctant hand;
She turned her head; she saw my hollow eyes,
And knew me, wasted, wan, in my disguise;
She shrieked, and fell;--breathless, I left the fane
In agony--nor saw her form again;
And from that day her voice, her look were given,
Her name, her memory, to the winds of heaven.
Far off I bent my melancholy way,
Heart-sick and faint, and, in this gown of gray,
From every human eye my sorrows hid,
Unknown, amidst the tumult of Madrid.
Grief in my heart, despair upon my look,
With no companion save my beads and book,
My morsel with Affliction's sons to share,
To tend the sick and poor, my only care,
Forgotten, thus I lived; till day by day
Had worn nigh thirteen years of grief away.
One winter's night, when I had closed my cell,
And bid the labours of the day farewell,
An aged crone approached, with panting breath,
And bade me hasten to the house of death.
I came. With moving lips intent to pray,
A dying woman on a pallet lay;
Her lifted hands were wasted to the bone,
And ghastly on her look the lamp-light shone;
Beside the bed a pious daughter stands
Silent, and, weeping, kisses her pale hands.
Feebly she spoke, and raised her languid head,
Forgive, forgive!--they told me he was dead!--
But in the sunshine of that dreadful day,
That gave me to another's arms away,
I saw him, like a ghost, with deadly stare;
I saw his wasted eye-balls' ghastly glare;
I saw his lips (oh, hide them, God of love!)
I saw his livid lips, half-muttering, move,
To curse the maid--forgetful of her vow:--
Perhaps he lives to curse--to curse me now!
He lives to bless! I cried; and, drawing nigh,
Held up the crucifix; her heavy eye
She raised, and scarce pronounced--Does he yet live?
Can he his lost, his dying child forgive?
Will God forgive--the Lord who bled--will He?--
Ah, no, there is no mercy left for me!
Words were but vain, and colours all too faint,
That awful moment of despair to paint.
She knew me; her exhausted breath, with pain,
Drawing, she pressed my hand, and spoke again:
By a false guardian's cruel wiles deceived,
The tale of fraudful falsehood I believed,
And thought thee dead; he gave the stern command,
And bade me take the rich Antonio's hand.
I knelt, implored, embraced my guardian's knees;
Ruthless inquisitor, he held the keys
Of the dark torture-house. Trembling for life,
Yes, I became a sad, heart-broken wife!
Yet curse me not; of every human care
Already my full heart has had its share:
Abandoned, left in youth to want and woe,
Oh! let these tears, that agonising flow,
Witness how deep ev'n now my heart is rent!
Yet one is lovely--one is innocent!
Protect, protect, (and faint in death she smiled)
When I am dead, protect my orphan child!
The dreadful prison, that so long detained
My wasting life, her dying words explained.
The wretched priest, who wounded me by stealth,
Bartered her love, her innocence for wealth!
I laid her bones in earth; the chanted hymn
Echoed along the hollow cloister dim;
I heard, far off, the bell funereal toll,
And sorrowing said: Now peace be with her soul!
Far o'er the Western Ocean I conveyed,
And Indiana called the orphan maid;
Beneath my eye she grew, and, day by day,
Seemed, grateful, every kindness to repay.
Renouncing Spain, her cruelties and crimes,
Amid untutored tribes, in distant climes,
'Twas mine to spread the light of truth, or save
From stripes and torture the poor Indian slave.
I saw thee, young and innocent, alone,
Cast on the mercies of a race unknown;
I saw, in dark adversity's cold hour,
Thy virtues blooming, like a winter's flower;
From chains and slavery I redeemed thy youth,
Poured on thy mental sight the beams of truth;
By thy warm heart and mild demeanour won,
Called thee my other child--my age's son.
I need not tell the sequel;--not unmoved
Poor Indiana heard thy tale, and loved;
Some sympathy a kindred fate might claim;
Your years, your fortunes, and your friend the same;
Both early of a parent's care bereft,
Both strangers in a world of sadness left;
I marked each slowly-struggling thought; I shed
A tear of love paternal on each head;
And, while I saw her timid eyes incline,
Blessed the affection that had made her thine!
Here let the murmurs of despondence cease:
There is a God--believe--and part in peace!
Rich hues illumed the track of dying day
As the great sun sank in the western bay,
And only its last light yet lingering shone,
Upon the highest palm-tree's feathery cone;
When at a distance on the dewy plain,
In mingled group appeared an Indian train;
Men, women, children, round Anselmo press,
Farewell! they cried. He raised his hand to bless,
And said: My children, may the God above
Still lead you in the paths of peace and love;
To-morrow, we must part;--when I am gone,
Raise on this spot a cross, and place a stone,
That tribes unborn may some memorial have,
When I far off am mouldering in the grave,
Of that poor messenger, who tidings bore
Of Gospel-mercy to your distant shore.
The crowd retired; along the twilight gray,
The condor kept its solitary way,
The fire-flies shone, when to the hermit's cell
Who hastens but the minstrel Zarinel!
In foreign lands, far from his native home,
'Twas his, a gay, romantic youth, to roam,
With a light cittern o'er his shoulders slung,
Where'er he passed he played, and loved, and sung;
And thus accomplished, late had joined the train
Of gallant soldiers on the southern plain.
Father, he cried, uncertain of the fate
That may to-morrow's toilsome march await,
For long will be the road, I would confess
Some secret thoughts that on my bosom press.
They are of one I left, an Indian maid,
Whose trusting love my careless heart betrayed.
Say, may I speak?
Say on, the father cried,
Nor be to penitence all hope denied.
Then hear, Anselmo! From a very child
I loved all fancies marvellous and wild;
I turned from truth, to listen to the lore
Of many an old and fabling troubadour.
Thus, with impassioned heart, and wayward mind,
To dreams and shapes of shadowy things resigned,
I left my native vales and village home,
Wide o'er the world a minstrel boy to roam.
I never shall forget the day, the hour,
When, all my soul resigned to Fancy's power,
First, from the snowy Pyrenees, I cast
My labouring vision o'er the landscape vast,
And saw beneath my feet long vapours float,
Streams, mountains, woods, and ocean's mist remote.
There once I met a soldier, poor and old,
Who tales of Cortes and Bilboa told,
And this new world; he spoke of Indian maids,
Rivers like seas, and forests whose deep shades
Had never yet been pierced by morning ray,
And how the green bird mocked, and talked all day.
Imagination thus, in colours new,
This distant world presented to my view;
Young, and enchanted with the fancied scene,
I crossed the toiling seas that roared between,
And with ideal images impressed,
Stood on these unknown shores a wondering guest.
Still to romantic phantasies resigned,
I left Callao's crowded port behind,
And climbed the mountains which their shadow threw
Upon the lessening summits of Peru.
Some sheep the armed peasants drove before,
That all our food through the wild passes bore,
Had wandered in the frost-smoke of the morn,
Far from the track; I blew the signal horn--
But echo only answered: 'mid the snows,
Wildered and lost, I saw the evening close.
The sun was setting in the crimson west;
In all the earth I had no home of rest;
The last sad light upon the ice-hills shone;
I seemed forsaken in a world unknown;
How did my cold and sinking heart rejoice,
When, hark! methought I heard a human voice!
It might be some wild Indian's roving troop,
Or the dread echo of their distant whoop;
Still it was human, and I seemed to find
Again some commerce with remote mankind.
The voice comes nearer, rising through the shade--
Is it the song of some rude mountain-maid?
And now I heard the tread of hastening feet,
And, in the western glen, a Llama bleat.
I listened--all is still; but hark! again
Near and more near is heard the welcome strain;
It is a wild maid's carolling, who seeks
Her wandering Llama 'midst the snowy peaks:
Truant, she cried, thy lurking place is found!
With languid touch I waked the cittern's sound,
And soon a maid, by the pale light, I saw
Gaze breathless with astonishment and awe:
What instant terrors to her fancy rose,
Ha! is it not the Spirit of the snows!
But when she saw me, weary, cold, and weak,
Stretch forth my hand (for now I could not speak),
She pitied, raised me from the snows, and led
My faltering footsteps to her father's shed;
The Llama followed with her tinkling bell;
The dwelling rose within a craggy dell,
O'erhung with icy summits. To be brief,
She was the daughter of an aged chief;
He, by her gentle voice to pity won,
Showed mercy, for himself had lost a son.
The father spoke not; by the pine-wood blaze,
The daughter stood, and turned a cake of maize;
And then, as sudden shone the light, I saw
Such features as no artist hand might draw.
Her form, her face, her symmetry, her air,
Father! thy age must such recital spare:--
She saved my life; and kindness, if not love,
Might sure in time the coldest bosom move!
Mine was not cold; she loved to hear me sing,
And sometimes touched with playful hand the string;
And when I waked some melancholy strain,
She wept, and smiled, and bade me sing again.
So many a happy day, in this deep glen,
Far from the noise of life, and sounds of men,
Was passed! Nay, father, the sad sequel hear:
'Twas now the leafy spring-time of the year--
Ambition called me: true, I knew to part
Would break her generous, warm, and trusting heart;
True, I had vowed, but now estranged and cold,
She saw my look, and shuddered to behold:--
She would go with me, leave the lonely glade
Where she grew up, but my stern voice forbade;
She hid her face and wept: Go then away,
(Father, methinks, ev'n now, I hear her say)
Go to thy distant land, forget this tear,
Forget these rocks, forget I once was dear;
Fly to the world, o'er the wide ocean fly,
And leave me unremembered here to die!
Yet to my father should I all relate,
Death, instant death, would be a traitor's fate!
Nor fear, nor pity moved my stubborn mind,
I left her sorrows and the scene behind;
I sought Valdivia on the southern plain,
And joined the careless military train;
Oh! ere I sleep, thus, lowly on my knee,
Father, I absolution crave from thee!
Anselmo spoke, with look and voice severe:
Yes, thoughtless youth, my absolution hear.
First, by deep penitence the wrong atone,
Then absolution ask from God alone!
Yet stay, and to my warning voice attend,
And hear me as a father, and a friend.
Let Truth severe be wayward Fancy's guide,
Let stern-eyed Conscience o'er each thought preside;
The passions, that on noblest natures prey,
Oh! cast them, like corroding bonds, away!
Disdain to act mean falsehood's coward part,
And let religion dignify thine art.
If, by thy bed, thou seest at midnight stand
Pale Conscience, pointing, with terrific hand,
To deeds of darkness done, whilst, like a corse,
To shake thy soul, uprises dire Remorse;
Fly to God's mercy, fly, ere yet too late--
Perhaps one hour marks thy eternal fate;
Let the warm tear of deep contrition flow,
The heart obdurate melt, like softening snow,
The last vain follies of thy youth deplore,
Then go, in secret weep, and sin no more!
The stars innumerous in their watches shone--
Anselmo knelt before the cross alone.
Ten thousand glowing orbs their pomp displayed,
Whilst, looking up, thus silently he prayed:--
Oh! how oppressive to the aching sense,
How fearful were this vast magnificence,
This prodigality of glory, spread
Above a poor and dying emmet's head,
That toiled his transient hour upon the shore
Of mortal life, and then was seen no more;
If man beheld, on his terrific throne,
A dark, cold, distant Deity, alone!
Felt no relating, no endearing tie,
That Hope might upwards raise her glistening eye,
And think, with deep unutterable bliss,
In yonder radiant realm my kingdom is!
More glorious than those orbs that silent roll,
Shines Heaven's redeeming mercy on the soul--
Oh, pure effulgence of unbounded love!
In Thee, I think--I feel--I live--I move;
Yet when, O Thou, whose name is Love and Light,
When will thy Dayspring on these realms of night
Arise! Oh! when shall severed nations raise
One hallelujah of triumphant praise,
Tibet on Fars, Andes on Atlas call,
And 'roll the loud hosannah' round the ball!
Soon may Thy kingdom come, that love, and peace,
And charity, may bid earth's chidings cease!
Meantime, in life or death, through good or ill,
Thy poor and feeble servant, I fulfil,
As best I may, Thy high and holy will,
Till, weary, on the world my eyelids close,
And I enjoy my long and last repose!
The Children Of The Lord's Supper. (From The Swedish Of Bishop Tegner)
Pentecost, day of rejoicing, had come. The church of the village
Gleaming stood in the morning's sheen. On the spire of the bell
Decked with a brazen cock, the friendly flames of the Spring-sun
Glanced like the tongues of fire, beheld by Apostles aforetime.
Clear was the heaven and blue, and May, with her cap crowned with roses,
Stood in her holiday dress in the fields, and the wind and the brooklet
Murmured gladness and peace, God's-peace! with lips rosy-tinted
Whispered the race of the flowers, and merry on balancing branches
Birds were singing their carol, a jubilant hymn to the Highest.
Swept and clean was the churchyard. Adorned like a leaf-woven arbor
Stood its old-fashioned gate; and within upon each cross of iron
Hung was a fragrant garland, new twined by the hands of
Even the dial, that stood on a mound among the departed,
(There full a hundred years had it stood,) was embellished with blossoms
Like to the patriarch hoary, the sage of his kith and the hamlet,
Who on his birthday is crowned by children and children's children,
So stood the ancient prophet, and mute with his pencil of iron
Marked on the tablet of stone, and measured the time and its changes,
While all around at his feet, an eternity slumbered in quiet.
Also the church within was adorned, for this was the season
When the young, their parents' hope, and the loved-ones of heaven,
Should at the foot of the altar renew the vows of their
Therefore each nook and corner was swept and cleaned, and the dust was
Blown from the walls and ceiling, and from the oil-painted benches.
There stood the church like a garden; the Feast of the Leafy Pavilions
Saw we in living presentment. From noble arms on the church wall
Grew forth a cluster of leaves, and the preacher's pulpit of oak-wood
Budded once more anew, as aforetime the rod before Aaron.
Wreathed thereon was the Bible with leaves, and the dove, washed with silver
Under its canopy fastened, had on it a necklace of wind-flowers.
But in front of the choir, round the altar-piece painted by
Crept a garland gigantic; and bright-curling tresses of
Peeped, like the sun from a cloud, from out of the shadowy leaf-work.
Likewise the lustre of brass, new-polished, blinked from the ceiling,
And for lights there were lilies of Pentecost set in the sockets.
Loud rang the bells already; the thronging crowd was
Far from valleys and hills, to list to the holy preaching.
Hark! then roll forth at once the mighty tones of the organ,
Hover like voices from God, aloft like invisible spirits.
Like as Elias in heaven, when he cast from off him his
So cast off the soul its garments of earth; and with one voice
Chimed in the congregation, and sang an anthem immortal
Of the sublime Wallin, of David's harp in the North-land
Tuned to the choral of Luther; the song on its mighty pinions
Took every living soul, and lifted it gently to heaven,
And each face did shine like the Holy One's face upon Tabor.
Lo! there entered then into the church the Reverend Teacher.
Father he hight and he was in the parish; a Christianly
Clothed from his head to his feet the old man of seventy winters.
Friendly was he to behold, and glad as the heralding angel
Walked he among the crowds, but still a contemplative
Lay on his forehead as clear as on moss-covered gravestone a sunbeam.
As in his inspiration (an evening twilight that faintly
Gleams in the human soul, even now, from the day of creation)
Th' Artist, the friend of heaven, imagines Saint John when in Patmos,
Gray, with his eyes uplifted to heaven, so seemed then the old man:
Such was the glance of his eye, and such were his tresses of silver.
All the congregation arose in the pews that were numbered.
But with a cordial look, to the right and the left hand, the old man
Nodding all hail and peace, disappeared in the innermost chancel.
Simply and solemnly now proceeded the Christian service,
Singing and prayer, and at last an ardent discourse from the old man.
Many a moving word and warning, that out of the heart came,
Fell like the dew of the morning, like manna on those in the desert.
Then, when all was finished, the Teacher re-entered the
Followed therein by the young. The boys on the right had their places,
Delicate figures, with close-curling hair and cheeks rosy-blooming.
But on the left of these there stood the tremulous lilies,
Tinged with the blushing light of the dawn, the diffident maidens,--
Folding their hands in prayer, and their eyes cast down on the pavement
Now came, with question and answer, the catechism. In the beginning
Answered the children with troubled and faltering voice, but the old man's
Glances of kindness encouraged them soon, and the doctrines eternal
Flowed, like the waters of fountains, so clear from lips unpolluted.
Each time the answer was closed, and as oft as they named the Redeemer,
Lowly louted the boys, and lowly the maidens all courtesied.
Friendly the Teacher stood, like an angel of light there among them.
And to the children explained the holy, the highest, in few words,
Thorough, yet simple and clear, for sublimity always is simple,
Both in sermon and song, a child can seize on its meaning.
E'en as the green-growing bud unfolds when Springtide
Leaf by leaf puts forth, and wanued, by the radiant sunshine,
Blushes with purple and gold, till at last the perfected blossom
Opens its odorous chalice, and rocks with its crown in the breezes,
So was unfolded here the Christian lore of salvation,
Line by line from the soul of childhood. The fathers and mothers
Stood behind them in tears, and were glad at the well-worded answer.
Now went the old man up to the altar;--and straightway transfigured
(So did it seem unto me) was then the affectionate Teacher.
Like the Lord's Prophet sublime, and awful as Death and as Judgment
Stood he, the God-commissioned, the soul-searcher, earthward descending
Glances, sharp as a sword, into hearts that to him were
Shot he; his voice was deep, was low like the thunder afar off.
So on a sudden transfigured he stood there, lie spake and he questioned.
'This is the faith of the Fathers, the faith the Apostles delivered,
This is moreover the faith whereunto I baptized you, while still ye
Lay on your mothers' breasts, and nearer the portals of heaven,
Slumbering received you then the Holy Church in its bosom;
Wakened from sleep are ye now, and the light in its radiant splendor
Downward rains from the heaven;--to-day on the threshold of childhood
Kindly she frees you again, to examine and make your election,
For she knows naught of compulsion, and only conviction
This is the hour of your trial, the turning-point of existence,
Seed for the coming days; without revocation departeth
Now from your lips the confession; Bethink ye, before ye make answer!
Think not, O think not with guile to deceive the questioning Teacher.
Sharp is his eye to-day, and a curse ever rests upon falsehood.
Enter not with a lie on Life's journey; the multitude hears you,
Brothers and sisters and parents, what dear upon earth is and holy
Standeth before your sight as a witness; the Judge everlasting
Looks from the sun down upon you, and angels in waiting beside him
Grave your confession in letters of fire upon tablets eternal.
Thus, then,--believe ye in God, in the Father who this world created?
Him who redeemed it, the Son, and the Spirit where both are united?
Will ye promise me here, (a holy promise!) to cherish
God more than all things earthly, and every man as a brother?
Will ye promise me here, to confirm your faith by your living,
Th' heavenly faith of affection! to hope, to forgive, and to suffer,
Be what it may your condition, and walk before God in
Will ye promise me this before God and man?'--With a clear voice
Answered the young men Yes! and Yes! with lips softly-breathing
Answered the maidens eke. Then dissolved from the brow of the Teacher
Clouds with the lightnings therein, and lie spake in accents more gentle,
Soft as the evening's breath, as harps by Babylon's rivers.
'Hail, then, hail to you all! To the heirdom of heaven be ye welcome!
Children no more from this day, but by covenant brothers and sisters!
Yet,--for what reason not children? Of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Here upon earth an assemblage of children, in heaven one Father,
Ruling them all as his household,--forgiving in turn and chastising,
That is of human life a picture, as Scripture has taught us.
Blest are the pure before God! Upon purity and upon virtue
Resteth the Christian Faith: she herself from on high is descended.
Strong as a man and pure as a child, is the sum of the doctrine,
Which the Divine One taught, and suffered and died on the cross for
Oh, as ye wander this day from childhood's sacred asylum
Downward and ever downward, and deeper in Age's chill valley,
Oh, how soon will ye come,--too soon!--and long to turn
Up to its hill-tops again, to the sun-illumined, where Judgment
Stood like a father before you, and Pardon, clad like a mother,
Gave you her hand to kiss, and the loving heart was for given
Life was a play and your hands grasped after the roses of heaven!
Seventy years have I lived already; the Father eternal
Gave rue gladness and care; but the loveliest hours of
When I have steadfastly gazed in their eyes, I have instantly known them,
Known them all again;-- the were my childhood's acquaintance.
Therefore take from henceforth, as guides in the paths of existence,
Prayer, with her eyes raised to heaven, and. Innocence, bride of man's childhood
Innocence, child beloved, is a guest from the world of the blessed,
Beautiful, and in her hand a lily; on life's roaring billows
Swings she in safety, she heedeth them not in the ship she is sleeping.
Calmly she gazes around in the turmoil of men; in the desert
Angels descend and minister unto her; she herself knoweth
Naught of her glorious attendance; but follows faithful and humble,
Follows so long as she may her friend; oh do not reject her,
For she cometh from God and she holdeth the keys of the heavens.
Prayer is Innocence' friend; and willingly flieth incessant
'Twixt rhe earth and the sky, the carrier-pigeon of heaven,
Son of Eternity, fettered in Time, and an exile, the Spirit
Tugs at his chains evermore, and struggles like flame ever upward.
Still he recalls with emotion his Father's manifold mansions,
Thinks of the land of his fathers, where blossomed more freshly the flowerets,
Shone a more beautiful sun, and he played with the winged angels.
Then grows the earth too narrow, too close; and homesick for heaven
Longs the wanderer again; and the Spirit's longings are worship;
Worship is called his most beautiful hour, and its tongue is entreaty.
Aid when the infinite burden of life descendeth upon us,
Crushes to earth our hope, and, under the earth, in the
Then it is good to pray unto God; for his sorrowiug children
Turns he ne'er from his door, but he heals and helps and consoles them,
Yet is it better to pray when all things are prosperous with us,
Pray in fortunate days, for life's most beautiful Fortune
Kneels before the Eternal's throne; and with hands interfolded,
Praises thankful and moved the only giver of blessings.
Or do ye know, ye children, one blessing that comes not from Heaven?
What has mankind forsooth, the poor! that it has not received?
Therefore, fall in the dust and pray! The seraphs adoring
Cover with pinions six their face in the glory of him who
Hung his masonry pendent on naught, when the world be created.
Earth declareth his might, and the firmament utters his glory.
Races blossom and die, and stars fall downward from heaven,
Downward like withered leaves; at the last stroke of midnight, millenniums
Lay themselves down at his feet, and he sees them, but counts them as nothing
Who shall stand in his presence? The wrath of the judge is terrific,
Casting the insolent down at a glance. When he speaks in his anger
Hillocks skip like the kid, and mountains leap like the roebuck.
Yet,--why are ye afraid, ye children? This awful avenger,
Ah! is a merciful God! God's voice was not in the earthquake,
Not in the fire, nor the storm, but it was in the whispering breezes.
Love is the root of creation; God's essence; worlds without number
Lie in his bosom like children; he made them for this purpose only.
Only to love and to be loved again, he breathed forth his spirit
Into the slumbering dust, and upright standing, it laid its
Hand on its heart, and felt it was warm with a flame out of heaven.
Quench, oh quench not that flame! It is the breath of your being.
Love is life, but hatred is death. Not father, nor mother
Loved you, as God has loved you; for 't was that you may be happy
Gave he his only Son. When he bowed down his head in the death-hour
Solemnized Love its triumph; the sacrifice then was completed.
Lo! then was rent on a sudden the veil of the temple, dividing
Earth and heaven apart, and the dead from their sepulchres rising
Whispered with pallid lips and low in the ears of each other
Th' answer, but dreamed of before, to creation's enigma,-- Atonement!
Depths of Love are Atonement's depths, for Love is Atonement.
Therefore, child of mortality, love thou the merciful Father;
Wish what the Holy One wishes, and not from fear, but affection
Fear is the virtue of slaves ; but the heart that loveth is willing
Perfect was before God, and perfect is Love, and Love only.
Lovest thou God as thou oughtest, then lovest thou likewise thy brethren:
One is the sun in heaven, and one, only one, is Love also.
Bears not each human figure the godlike stamp on his forehead
Readest thou not in his face thou origin? Is he not sailing
Lost like thyself on an ocean unknown, and is he not guided
By the same stars that guide thee? Why shouldst thou hate then thy brother?
Hateth he thee, forgive! For 't is sweet to stammer one letter
Of the Eternal's language;--on earth it is called Forgiveness!
Knowest thou Him, who forgave, with the crown of thorns on his temples?
Earnestly prayed for his foes, for his murderers? Say, dost thou know him?
Ah! thou confessest his name, so follow likewise his example,
Think of thy brother no ill, but throw a veil over his failings,
Guide the erring aright; for the good, the heavenly shepherd
Took the lost lamb in his arms, and bore it back to its mother.
This is the fruit of Love, and it is by its fruits that we know it.
Love is the creature's welfare, with God; but Love among mortals
Is but an endless sigh! He longs, and endures, and stands waiting,
Suffers and yet rejoices, and smiles with tears on his eyelids.
Hope,--so is called upon earth, his recompense, Hope, the befriending,
Does what she can, for she points evermore up to heaven, and faithful
Plunges her anchor's peak in the depths of the grave, and beneath it
Paints a more beautiful world, a dim, but a sweet play of shadows!
Races, better than we, have leaned on her wavering promise,
Having naught else but Hope. Then praise we our Father in heaven,
Him, who has given us more; for to us has Hope been
Groping no longer in night; she is Faith, she is living
Faith is enlightened Hope; she is light, is the eye of
Dreams of the longing interprets, and carves their visions in marble.
Faith is the sun of life ; and her countenance shines like the Hebrew's,
For she has looked upon God; the heaven on its stable foundation
Draws she with chains down to earth, and the New Jerusalem sinketh
Splendid with portals twelve in golden vapors descending.
There enraptured she wanders. and looks at the figures majestic,
Fears not the winged crowd, in the midst of them all is her homestead.
Therefore love and believe; for works will follow spontaneous
Even as day does the sun; the Right from the Good is an
Love in a bodily shape; and Christian works are no more than
Animate Love and faith, as flowers are the animate Springtide.
Works do follow us all unto God; there stand and bear witness
Not what they seemed,--but what they were only. Blessed is he who
Hears their confession secure; they are mute upon earth until death's hand
Opens the mouth of the silent. Ye children, does Death e'er alarm you?
Death is the brother of Love, twin-brother is he, and is only
More austere to behold. With a kiss upon lips that are fading
Takes he the soul and departs, and, rocked in the arms of affection,
Places the ransomed child, new born, 'fore the face of its father.
Sounds of his coming already I hear,--see dimly his pinions,
Swart as the night, but with stars strewn upon them! I fear not before him.
Death is only release, and in mercy is mute. On his bosom
Freer breathes, in its coolness, my breast; and face to face standing
Look I on God as he is, a sun unpolluted by vapors;
Look on the light of the ages I loved, the spirits majestic,
Nobler, better than I; they stand by the throne all
Vested in white, and with harps of gold, and are singing an anthem,
Writ in the climate of heaven, in the language spoken by angels.
You, in like manner, ye children beloved, he one day shall gather,
Never forgets he the weary;--then welcome, ye loved ones, hereafter!
Meanwhile forget not the keeping of vows, forget not the promise,
Wander from holiness onward to holiness; earth shall ye heed not
Earth is but dust and heaven is light; I have pledged you to heaven.
God of the universe, hear me! thou fountain of Love
Hark to the voice of thy servant! I send up my prayer to thy heaven!
Let me hereafter not miss at thy throne one spirit of all these,
Whom thou hast given me here! I have loved them all like a father.
May they bear witness for me, that I taught them the way of salvation,
Faithful, so far as I knew, of thy word; again may they know me,
Fall on their Teacher's breast, and before thy face may I place them,
Pure as they now are, but only more tried, and exclaiming with gladness,
Father, lo! I am here, and the children, whom thou hast given me!'
Weeping he spake in these words; and now at the beck of the old man
Knee against knee they knitted a wreath round the altar's enclosure.
Kneeling he read then the prayers of the consecration, and softly
With him the children read; at the close, with tremulous accents,
Asked he the peace of Heaven, a benediction upon them.
Now should have ended his task for the day; the following Sunday
Was for the young appointed to eat of the Lord's holy Supper.
Sudden, as struck from the clouds, stood the Teacher silent and laid his
Hand on his forehead, and cast his looks upward; while thoughts high and holy,
Flew through the midst of his soul, and his eyes glanced with wonderful brightness.
'On the next Sunday, who knows! perhaps I shall rest in the graveyard!
Some one perhaps of yourselves, a lily broken untimely,
Bow down his head to the earth; why delay I? the hour is accomplished,
Warm is the heart;--I will! for to-day grows the harvest of heaven.
What I began accomplish I now; what failing therein is
I, the old man, will answer to God and the reverend father.
Say to me only, ye children, ye denizens new-come in heaven,
Are ye ready this day to eat of the bread of Atonement?
What it denoteth, that know ye full well, I have told it you often.
Of the new covenant symbol it is, of Atonement a token,
Stablished between earth and heaven. Man by his sins and transgressions
Far has wandered from God, from his essence. 'T was in the beginning
Fast by the Tree of Knowledge he fell, and it hangs its crown o'er the
Fall to this day; in the Thought is the Fall; in the Heart the Atonement.
Infinite is the fall,--the Atonement infinite likewise.
See! behind me, as far as the old man remembers, and forward,
Far as Hope in her flight can reach with her wearied pinions,
Sin and Atonement incessant go through the lifetime of mortals.
Sin is brought forth full-grown; but Atonement sleeps in our bosoms
Still as the cradled babe; and dreams of heaven and of angels,
Cannot awake to sensation; is like the tones in the harp's strings,
Spirits imprisoned, that wait evermore the deliverer's finger.
Therefore, ye children beloved, descended the Prince of
Woke the slumberer from sleep, and she stands now with eyes all resplendent.
Bright as the vault of the sky, and battles with Sin and o'ercomes her.
Downward to earth he came and, transfigured, thence reascended,
Not from the heart in like wise, for there he still lives in the Spirit,
Loves and atones evermore. So long as Time is, is Atonement.
Therefore with reverence take this day her visible token.
Tokens are dead if the things live not. The light everlasting
Unto the blind is not, but is born of the eye that has vision.
Neither in bread nor in wine, but in the heart that is hallowed
Lieth forgiveness enshrined; the intention alone of amendment
Fruits of the earth ennobles to heavenly things, and removes all
Sin and the guerdon of sin. Only Love with his arms wide extended,
Penitence wee ping and praying; the Will that is tried, and whose gold flows
Purified forth from the flames; in a word, mankind by Atonement
Breaketh Atonement's bread, and drinketh Atonement's wine-cup.
But he who cometh up hither, unworthy, with hate in his bosom,
Scoffing at men and at God, is guilty of Christ's blessed body,
And the Redeemer's blood! To himself he eateth and drinketh
Death and doom ! And from this, preserve us, thou heavenly Father!
Are ye ready, ye children, to eat of the bread of Atonement?
Thus with emotion he asked, and together answered the children,
'Yes!' with deep sobs interrupted. Then read he the due
Read the Form of Communion, and in chimed the organ and anthem:
'O Holy Lamb of God, who takest away our transgressions,
Hear us! give us thy peace! have mercy, have mercy upon us!'
Th' old man, with trembling hand, and heavenly pearls on his eyelids,
Filled now the chalice and paten, and dealt round the mystical symbols.
Oh, then seemed it to me as if God, with the broad eye of midday,
Clearer looked in at the windows, and all the trees in the church yard
Bowed down their summits of green, and the grass on the graves 'gan to shiver
But in the children (I noted it well ; I knew it) there ran a
Tremor of holy rapture along through their ice-cold members.
Decked like an altar before them, there stood the green earth, and above it
Heaven opened itself, as of old before Stephen; they saw there
Radiant in glory the Father, and on his right hand the
Under them hear they the clang of harpstrings, and angels from gold clouds
Beckon to them like brothers, and fan with their pinions of purple.
Closed was the Teacher's task, and with heaven in their hearts and their faces,
Up rose the children all, and each bowed him, weeping full sorely,
Downward to kiss that reverend hand, but all of them pressed he
Moved to his bosom, and laid, with a prayer, his hands full of blessings,
Now on the holy breast, and now on the innocent tresses.
Book Eighth: Retrospect--Love Of Nature Leading To Love Of Man
WHAT sounds are those, Helvellyn, that are heard
Up to thy summit, through the depth of air
Ascending, as if distance had the power
To make the sounds more audible? What crowd
Covers, or sprinkles o'er, yon village green?
Crowd seems it, solitary hill! to thee,
Though but a little family of men,
Shepherds and tillers of the ground--betimes
Assembled with their children and their wives,
And here and there a stranger interspersed.
They hold a rustic fair--a festival,
Such as, on this side now, and now on that,
Repeated through his tributary vales,
Helvellyn, in the silence of his rest,
Sees annually, if clouds towards either ocean
Blown from their favourite resting-place, or mists
Dissolved, have left him an unshrouded head.
Delightful day it is for all who dwell
In this secluded glen, and eagerly
They give it welcome. Long ere heat of noon,
From byre or field the kine were brought; the sheep
Are penned in cotes; the chaffering is begun.
The heifer lows, uneasy at the voice
Of a new master; bleat the flocks aloud.
Booths are there none; a stall or two is here;
A lame man or a blind, the one to beg,
The other to make music; hither, too,
From far, with basket, slung upon her arm,
Of hawker's wares--books, pictures, combs, and pins--
Some aged woman finds her way again,
Year after year, a punctual visitant!
There also stands a speech-maker by rote,
Pulling the strings of his boxed raree-show;
And in the lapse of many years may come
Prouder itinerant, mountebank, or he
Whose wonders in a covered wain lie hid.
But one there is, the loveliest of them all,
Some sweet lass of the valley, looking out
For gains, and who that sees her would not buy?
Fruits of her father's orchard are her wares,
And with the ruddy produce she walks round
Among the crowd, half pleased with, half ashamed
Of, her new office, blushing restlessly.
The children now are rich, for the old to-day
Are generous as the young; and, if content
With looking on, some ancient wedded pair
Sit in the shade together; while they gaze,
'A cheerful smile unbends the wrinkled brow,
The days departed start again to life,
And all the scenes of childhood reappear,
Faint, but more tranquil, like the changing sun
To him who slept at noon and wakes at eve.'
Thus gaiety and cheerfulness prevail,
Spreading from young to old, from old to young,
And no one seems to want his share.--Immense
Is the recess, the circumambient world
Magnificent, by which they are embraced:
They move about upon the soft green turf:
How little they, they and their doings, seem,
And all that they can further or obstruct!
Through utter weakness pitiably dear,
As tender infants are: and yet how great!
For all things serve them: them the morning light
Loves, as it glistens on the silent rocks;
And them the silent rocks, which now from high
Look down upon them; the reposing clouds;
The wild brooks prattling from invisible haunts;
And old Helvellyn, conscious of the stir
Which animates this day their calm abode.
With deep devotion, Nature, did I feel,
In that enormous City's turbulent world
Of men and things, what benefit I owed
To thee, and those domains of rural peace,
Where to the sense of beauty first my heart
Was opened; tract more exquisitely fair
Than that famed paradise of ten thousand trees,
Or Gehol's matchless gardens, for delight
Of the Tartarian dynasty composed
(Beyond that mighty wall, not fabulous,
China's stupendous mound) by patient toil
Of myriads and boon nature's lavish help;
There, in a clime from widest empire chosen,
Fulfilling (could enchantment have done more?)
A sumptuous dream of flowery lawns, with domes
Of pleasure sprinkled over, shady dells
For eastern monasteries, sunny mounts
With temples crested, bridges, gondolas,
Rocks, dens, and groves of foliage taught to melt
Into each other their obsequious hues,
Vanished and vanishing in subtle chase,
Too fine to be pursued; or standing forth
In no discordant opposition, strong
And gorgeous as the colours side by side
Bedded among rich plumes of tropic birds;
And mountains over all, embracing all;
And all the landscape, endlessly enriched
With waters running, falling, or asleep.
But lovelier far than this, the paradise
Where I was reared; in Nature's primitive gifts
Favoured no less, and more to every sense
Delicious, seeing that the sun and sky,
The elements, and seasons as they change,
Do find a worthy fellow-labourer there--
Man free, man working for himself, with choice
Of time, and place, and object; by his wants,
His comforts, native occupations, cares,
Cheerfully led to individual ends
Or social, and still followed by a train
Unwooed, unthought-of even--simplicity,
And beauty, and inevitable grace.
Yea, when a glimpse of those imperial bowers
Would to a child be transport over-great,
When but a half-hour's roam through such a place
Would leave behind a dance of images,
That shall break in upon his sleep for weeks;
Even then the common haunts of the green earth,
And ordinary interests of man,
Which they embosom, all without regard
As both may seem, are fastening on the heart
Insensibly, each with the other's help.
For me, when my affections first were led
From kindred, friends, and playmates, to partake
Love for the human creature's absolute self,
That noticeable kindliness of heart
Sprang out of fountains, there abounding most,
Where sovereign Nature dictated the tasks
And occupations which her beauty adorned,
And Shepherds were the men that pleased me first;
Not such as Saturn ruled 'mid Latian wilds,
With arts and laws so tempered, that their lives
Left, even to us toiling in this late day,
A bright tradition of the golden age;
Not such as, 'mid Arcadian fastnesses
Sequestered, handed down among themselves
Felicity, in Grecian song renowned;
Nor such as--when an adverse fate had driven,
From house and home, the courtly band whose fortunes
Entered, with Shakspeare's genius, the wild woods
Of Arden--amid sunshine or in shade
Culled the best fruits of Time's uncounted hours,
Ere Phoebe sighed for the false Ganymede;
Or there where Perdita and Florizel
Together danced, Queen of the feast, and King;
Nor such as Spenser fabled. True it is,
That I had heard (what he perhaps had seen)
Of maids at sunrise bringing in from far
Their May-bush, and along the streets in flocks
Parading with a song of taunting rhymes,
Aimed at the laggards slumbering within doors;
Had also heard, from those who yet remembered,
Tales of the May-pole dance, and wreaths that decked
Porch, door-way, or kirk-pillar; and of youths,
Each with his maid, before the sun was up,
By annual custom, issuing forth in troops,
To drink the waters of some sainted well,
And hang it round with garlands. Love survives;
But, for such purpose, flowers no longer grow:
The times, too sage, perhaps too proud, have dropped
These lighter graces; and the rural ways
And manners which my childhood looked upon
Were the unluxuriant produce of a life
Intent on little but substantial needs,
Yet rich in beauty, beauty that was felt.
But images of danger and distress,
Man suffering among awful Powers and Forms;
Of this I heard, and saw enough to make
Imagination restless; nor was free
Myself from frequent perils; nor were tales
Wanting,--the tragedies of former times,
Hazards and strange escapes, of which the rocks
Immutable, and everflowing streams,
Where'er I roamed, were speaking monuments.
Smooth life had flock and shepherd in old time,
Long springs and tepid winters, on the banks
Of delicate Galesus; and no less
Those scattered along Adria's myrtle shores:
Smooth life had herdsman, and his snow-white herd
To triumphs and to sacrificial rites
Devoted, on the inviolable stream
Of rich Clitumnus; and the goat-herd lived
As calmly, underneath the pleasant brows
Of cool Lucretilis, where the pipe was heard
Of Pan, Invisible God, thrilling the rocks
With tutelary music, from all harm
The fold protecting, I myself, mature
In manhood then, have seen a pastoral tract
Like one of these, where Fancy might run wild,
Though under skies less generous, less serene:
There, for her own delight had Nature framed
A pleasure-ground, diffused a fair expanse
Of level pasture, islanded with groves
And banked with woody risings; but the Plain
Endless, here opening widely out, and there
Shut up in lesser lakes or beds of lawn
And intricate recesses, creek or bay
Sheltered within a shelter, where at large
The shepherd strays, a rolling hut his home.
Thither he comes with spring-time, there abides
All summer, and at sunrise ye may hear
His flageolet to liquid notes of love
Attuned, or sprightly fife resounding far.
Nook is there none, nor tract of that vast space
Where passage opens, but the same shall have
In turn its visitant, telling there his hours
In unlaborious pleasure, with no task
More toilsome than to carve a beechen bowl
For spring or fountain, which the traveller finds,
When through the region he pursues at will
His devious course. A glimpse of such sweet life
I saw when, from the melancholy walls
Of Goslar, once imperial, I renewed
My daily walk along that wide champaign,
That, reaching to her gates, spreads east and west,
And northwards, from beneath the mountainous verge
Of the Hercynian forest. Yet, hail to you
Moors, mountains, headlands, and ye hollow vales,
Ye long deep channels for the Atlantic's voice,
Powers of my native region! Ye that seize
The heart with firmer grasp! Your snows and streams
Ungovernable, and your terrifying winds,
That howl so dismally for him who treads
Companionless your awful solitudes!
There, 'tis the shepherd's task the winter long
To wait upon the storms: of their approach
Sagacious, into sheltering coves he drives
His flock, and thither from the homestead bears
A toilsome burden up the craggy ways,
And deals it out, their regular nourishment
Strewn on the frozen snow. And when the spring
Looks out, and all the pastures dance with lambs,
And when the flock, with warmer weather, climbs
Higher and higher, him his office leads
To watch their goings, whatsoever track
The wanderers choose. For this he quits his home
At day-spring, and no sooner doth the sun
Begin to strike him with a fire-like heat,
Than he lies down upon some shining rock,
And breakfasts with his dog. When they have stolen,
As is their wont, a pittance from strict time,
For rest not needed or exchange of love,
Then from his couch he starts; and now his feet
Crush out a livelier fragrance from the flowers
Of lowly thyme, by Nature's skill enwrought
In the wild turf: the lingering dews of morn
Smoke round him, as from hill to hill he hies,
His staff protending like a hunter's spear,
Or by its aid leaping from crag to crag,
And o'er the brawling beds of unbridged streams.
Philosophy, methinks, at Fancy's call,
Might deign to follow him through what he does
Or sees in his day's march; himself he feels,
In those vast regions where his service lies,
A freeman, wedded to his life of hope
And hazard, and hard labour interchanged
With that majestic indolence so dear
To native man. A rambling schoolboy, thus,
I felt his presence in his own domain,
As of a lord and master, or a power,
Or genius, under Nature, under God,
Presiding; and severest solitude
Had more commanding looks when he was there.
When up the lonely brooks on rainy days
Angling I went, or trod the trackless hills
By mists bewildered, suddenly mine eyes
Have glanced upon him distant a few steps,
In size a giant, stalking through thick fog,
His sheep like Greenland bears; or, as he stepped
Beyond the boundary line of some hill-shadow,
His form hath flashed upon me, glorified
By the deep radiance of the setting sun:
Or him have I descried in distant sky,
A solitary object and sublime,
Above all height! like an aerial cross
Stationed alone upon a spiry rock
Of the Chartreuse, for worship. Thus was man
Ennobled outwardly before my sight,
And thus my heart was early introduced
To an unconscious love and reverence
Of human nature; hence the human form
To me became an index of delight,
Of grace and honour, power and worthiness.
Meanwhile this creature--spiritual almost
As those of books, but more exalted far;
Far more of an imaginative form
Than the gay Corin of the groves, who lives
For his own fancies, or to dance by the hour,
In coronal, with Phyllis in the midst--
Was, for the purposes of kind, a man
With the most common; husband, father; learned,
Could teach, admonish; suffered with the rest
From vice and folly, wretchedness and fear;
Of this I little saw, cared less for it,
But something must have felt.
Call ye these appearances--
Which I beheld of shepherds in my youth,
This sanctity of Nature given to man--
A shadow, a delusion, ye who pore
On the dead letter, miss the spirit of things;
Whose truth is not a motion or a shape
Instinct with vital functions, but a block
Or waxen image which yourselves have made,
And ye adore! But blessed be the God
Of Nature and of Man that this was so;
That men before my inexperienced eyes
Did first present themselves thus purified,
Removed, and to a distance that was fit:
And so we all of us in some degree
Are led to knowledge, wheresoever led,
And howsoever; were it otherwise,
And we found evil fast as we find good
In our first years, or think that it is found,
How could the innocent heart bear up and live!
But doubly fortunate my lot; not here
Alone, that something of a better life
Perhaps was round me than it is the privilege
Of most to move in, but that first I looked
At Man through objects that were great or fair;
First communed with him by their help. And thus
Was founded a sure safeguard and defence
Against the weight of meanness, selfish cares,
Coarse manners, vulgar passions, that beat in
On all sides from the ordinary world
In which we traffic. Starting from this point
I had my face turned toward the truth, began
With an advantage furnished by that kind
Of prepossession, without which the soul
Receives no knowledge that can bring forth good,
No genuine insight ever comes to her.
From the restraint of over-watchful eyes
Preserved, I moved about, year after year,
Happy, and now most thankful that my walk
Was guarded from too early intercourse
With the deformities of crowded life,
And those ensuing laughters and contempts,
Self-pleasing, which, if we would wish to think
With a due reverence on earth's rightful lord,
Here placed to be the inheritor of heaven,
Will not permit us; but pursue the mind,
That to devotion willingly would rise,
Into the temple and the temple's heart.
Yet deem not, Friend! that human kind with me
Thus early took a place pre-eminent;
Nature herself was, at this unripe time,
But secondary to my own pursuits
And animal activities, and all
Their trivial pleasures; and when these had drooped
And gradually expired, and Nature, prized
For her own sake, became my joy, even then--
And upwards through late youth, until not less
Than two-and-twenty summers had been told--
Was Man in my affections and regards
Subordinate to her, her visible forms
And viewless agencies: a passion, she,
A rapture often, and immediate love
Ever at hand; he, only a delight
Occasional, an accidental grace,
His hour being not yet come. Far less had then
The inferior creatures, beast or bird, attuned
My spirit to that gentleness of love,
(Though they had long been carefully observed),
Won from me those minute obeisances
Of tenderness, which I may number now
With my first blessings. Nevertheless, on these
The light of beauty did not fall in vain,
Or grandeur circumfuse them to no end.
But when that first poetic faculty
Of plain Imagination and severe,
No longer a mute influence of the soul,
Ventured, at some rash Muse's earnest call,
To try her strength among harmonious words;
And to book-notions and the rules of art
Did knowingly conform itself; there came
Among the simple shapes of human life
A wilfulness of fancy and conceit;
And Nature and her objects beautified
These fictions, as in some sort, in their turn,
They burnished her. From touch of this new power
Nothing was safe: the elder-tree that grew
Beside the well-known charnel-house had then
A dismal look: the yew-tree had its ghost,
That took his station there for ornament:
The dignities of plain occurrence then
Were tasteless, and truth's golden mean, a point
Where no sufficient pleasure could be found.
Then, if a widow, staggering with the blow
Of her distress, was known to have turned her steps
To the cold grave in which her husband slept,
One night, or haply more than one, through pain
Or half-insensate impotence of mind,
The fact was caught at greedily, and there
She must be visitant the whole year through,
Wetting the turf with never-ending tears.
Through quaint obliquities I might pursue
These cravings; when the foxglove, one by one,
Upwards through every stage of the tall stem,
Had shed beside the public way its bells,
And stood of all dismantled, save the last
Left at the tapering ladder's top, that seemed
To bend as doth a slender blade of grass
Tipped with a rain-drop, Fancy loved to seat,
Beneath the plant despoiled, but crested still
With this last relic, soon itself to fall,
Some vagrant mother, whose arch little ones,
All unconcerned by her dejected plight,
Laughed as with rival eagerness their hands
Gathered the purple cups that round them lay,
Strewing the turfs green slope.
A diamond light
(Whene'er the summer sun, declining, smote
A smooth rock wet with constant springs) was seen
Sparkling from out a copse-clad bank that rose
Fronting our cottage. Oft beside the hearth
Seated, with open door, often and long
Upon this restless lustre have I gazed,
That made my fancy restless as itself.
'Twas now for me a burnished silver shield
Suspended over a knight's tomb, who lay
Inglorious, buried in the dusky wood:
An entrance now into some magic cave
Or palace built by fairies of the rock;
Nor could I have been bribed to disenchant
The spectacle, by visiting the spot.
Thus wilful Fancy, in no hurtful mood,
Engrafted far-fetched shapes on feelings bred
By pure Imagination: busy Power
She was, and with her ready pupil turned
Instinctively to human passions, then
Least understood. Yet, 'mid the fervent swarm
Of these vagaries, with an eye so rich
As mine was through the bounty of a grand
And lovely region, I had forms distinct
To steady me: each airy thought revolved
Round a substantial centre, which at once
Incited it to motion, and controlled.
I did not pine like one in cities bred,
As was thy melancholy lot, dear Friend!
Great Spirit as thou art, in endless dreams
Of sickliness, disjoining, joining, things
Without the light of knowledge. Where the harm,
If, when the woodman languished with disease
Induced by sleeping nightly on the ground
Within his sod-built cabin, Indian-wise,
I called the pangs of disappointed love,
And all the sad etcetera of the wrong,
To help him to his grave? Meanwhile the man,
If not already from the woods retired
To die at home, was haply, as I knew,
Withering by slow degrees, 'mid gentle airs,
Birds, running streams, and hills so beautiful
On golden evenings, while the charcoal pile
Breathed up its smoke, an image of his ghost
Or spirit that full soon must take her flight.
Nor shall we not be tending towards that point
Of sound humanity to which our Tale
Leads, though by sinuous ways, if here I show
How Fancy, in a season when she wove
Those slender cords, to guide the unconscious Boy
For the Man's sake, could feed at Nature's call
Some pensive musings which might well beseem
A grove there is whose boughs
Stretch from the western marge of Thurstonmere
With length of shade so thick, that whoso glides
Along the line of low-roofed water, moves
As in a cloister. Once--while, in that shade
Loitering, I watched the golden beams of light
Flung from the setting sun, as they reposed
In silent beauty on the naked ridge
Of a high eastern hill--thus flowed my thoughts
In a pure stream of words fresh from the heart:
Dear native Regions, wheresoe'er shall close
My mortal course, there will I think on you;
Dying, will cast on you a backward look;
Even as this setting sun (albeit the Vale
Is no where touched by one memorial gleam)
Doth with the fond remains of his last power
Still linger, and a farewell lustre sheds,
On the dear mountain-tops where first he rose.
Enough of humble arguments; recall,
My Song! those high emotions which thy voice
Has heretofore made known; that bursting forth
Of sympathy, inspiring and inspired,
When everywhere a vital pulse was felt,
And all the several frames of things, like stars,
Through every magnitude distinguishable,
Shone mutually indebted, or half lost
Each in the other's blaze, a galaxy
Of life and glory. In the midst stood Man,
Outwardly, inwardly contemplated,
As, of all visible natures, crown, though born
Of dust, and kindred to the worm; a Being,
Both in perception and discernment, first
In every capability of rapture,
Through the divine effect of power and love;
As, more than anything we know, instinct
With godhead, and, by reason and by will,
Acknowledging dependency sublime.
Ere long, the lonely mountains left, I moved,
Begirt, from day to day, with temporal shapes
Of vice and folly thrust upon my view,
Objects of sport, and ridicule, and scorn,
Manners and characters discriminate,
And little bustling passions that eclipse,
As well they might, the impersonated thought,
The idea, or abstraction of the kind.
An idler among academic bowers,
Such was my new condition, as at large
Has been set forth; yet here the vulgar light
Of present, actual, superficial life,
Gleaming through colouring of other times,
Old usages and local privilege,
Was welcomed, softened, if not solemnised.
This notwithstanding, being brought more near
To vice and guilt, forerunning wretchedness,
I trembled,--thought, at times, of human life
With an indefinite terror and dismay,
Such as the storms and angry elements
Had bred in me; but gloomier far, a dim
Analogy to uproar and misrule,
Disquiet, danger, and obscurity.
It might be told (but wherefore speak of things
Common to all?) that, seeing, I was led
Gravely to ponder--judging between good
And evil, not as for the mind's delight
But for her guidance--one who was to 'act',
As sometimes to the best of feeble means
I did, by human sympathy impelled:
And, through dislike and most offensive pain,
Was to the truth conducted; of this faith
Never forsaken, that, by acting well,
And understanding, I should learn to love
The end of life, and everything we know.
Grave Teacher, stern Preceptress! for at times
Thou canst put on an aspect most severe;
London, to thee I willingly return.
Erewhile my verse played idly with the flowers
Enwrought upon thy mantle; satisfied
With that amusement, and a simple look
Of child-like inquisition now and then
Cast upwards on thy countenance, to detect
Some inner meanings which might harbour there.
But how could I in mood so light indulge,
Keeping such fresh remembrance of the day,
When, having thridded the long labyrinth
Of the suburban villages, I first
Entered thy vast dominion? On the roof
Of an itinerant vehicle I sate,
With vulgar men about me, trivial forms
Of houses, pavement, streets, of men and things,--
Mean shapes on every side: but, at the instant,
When to myself it fairly might be said,
The threshold now is overpast, (how strange
That aught external to the living mind
Should have such mighty sway! yet so it was),
A weight of ages did at once descend
Upon my heart; no thought embodied, no
Distinct remembrances, but weight and power,--
Power growing under weight: alas! I feel
That I am trifling: 'twas a moment's pause,--
All that took place within me came and went
As in a moment; yet with Time it dwells,
And grateful memory, as a thing divine.
The curious traveller, who, from open day,
Hath passed with torches into some huge cave,
The Grotto of Antiparos, or the Den
In old time haunted by that Danish Witch,
Yordas; he looks around and sees the vault
Widening on all sides; sees, or thinks he sees,
Erelong, the massy roof above his head,
That instantly unsettles and recedes,--
Substance and shadow, light and darkness, all
Commingled, making up a canopy
Of shapes and forms and tendencies to shape
That shift and vanish, change and interchange
Like spectres,--ferment silent and sublime!
That after a short space works less and less,
Till, every effort, every motion gone,
The scene before him stands in perfect view
Exposed, and lifeless as a written book!--
But let him pause awhile, and look again,
And a new quickening shall succeed, at first
Beginning timidly, then creeping fast,
Till the whole cave, so late a senseless mass,
Busies the eye with images and forms
Boldly assembled,--here is shadowed forth
From the projections, wrinkles, cavities,
A variegated landscape,--there the shape
Of some gigantic warrior clad in mail,
The ghostly semblance of a hooded monk,
Veiled nun, or pilgrim resting on his staff:
Strange congregation! yet not slow to meet
Eyes that perceive through minds that can inspire.
Even in such sort had I at first been moved,
Nor otherwise continued to be moved,
As I explored the vast metropolis,
Fount of my country's destiny and the world's;
That great emporium, chronicle at once
And burial-place of passions, and their home
Imperial, their chief living residence.
With strong sensations teeming as it did
Of past and present, such a place must needs
Have pleased me, seeking knowledge at that time
Far less than craving power; yet knowledge came,
Sought or unsought, and influxes of power
Came, of themselves, or at her call derived
In fits of kindliest apprehensiveness,
From all sides, when whate'er was in itself
Capacious found, or seemed to find, in me
A correspondent amplitude of mind;
Such is the strength and glory of our youth!
The human nature unto which I felt
That I belonged, and reverenced with love,
Was not a punctual presence, but a spirit
Diffused through time and space, with aid derived
Of evidence from monuments, erect,
Prostrate, or leaning towards their common rest
In earth, the widely scattered wreck sublime
Of vanished nations, or more clearly drawn
From books and what they picture and record.
'Tis true, the history of our native land--
With those of Greece compared and popular Rome,
And in our high-wrought modern narratives
Stript of their harmonising soul, the life
Of manners and familiar incidents--
Had never much delighted me. And less
Than other intellects had mine been used
To lean upon extrinsic circumstance
Of record or tradition; but a sense
Of what in the Great City had been done
And suffered, and was doing, suffering, still,
Weighed with me, could support the test of thought;
And, in despite of all that had gone by,
Or was departing never to return,
There I conversed with majesty and power
Like independent natures. Hence the place
Was thronged with impregnations like the Wilds
In which my early feelings had been nursed--
Bare hills and valleys, full of caverns, rocks,
And audible seclusions, dashing lakes,
Echoes and waterfalls, and pointed crags
That into music touch the passing wind.
Here then my young imagination found
No uncongenial element; could here
Among new objects serve or give command,
Even as the heart's occasions might require,
To forward reason's else too-scrupulous march.
The effect was, still more elevated views
Of human nature. Neither vice nor guilt,
Debasement undergone by body or mind,
Nor all the misery forced upon my sight,
Misery not lightly passed, but sometimes scanned
Most feelingly, could overthrow my trust
In what we 'may' become; induce belief
That I was ignorant, had been falsely taught,
A solitary, who with vain conceits
Had been inspired, and walked about in dreams.
From those sad scenes when meditation turned,
Lo! everything that was indeed divine
Retained its purity inviolate,
Nay brighter shone, by this portentous gloom
Set off; such opposition as aroused
The mind of Adam, yet in Paradise
Though fallen from bliss, when in the East he saw
Darkness ere day's mid course, and morning light
More orient in the western cloud, that drew
O'er the blue firmament a radiant white,
Descending slow with something heavenly fraught.
Add also, that among the multitudes
Of that huge city, oftentimes was seen
Affectingly set forth, more than elsewhere
Is possible, the unity of man,
One spirit over ignorance and vice
Predominant, in good and evil hearts;
One sense for moral judgments, as one eye
For the sun's light. The soul when smitten thus
By a sublime 'idea', whencesoe'er
Vouchsafed for union or communion, feeds
On the pure bliss, and takes her rest with God.
Thus from a very early age, O Friend!
My thoughts by slow gradations had been drawn
To human-kind, and to the good and ill
Of human life: Nature had led me on;
And oft amid the 'busy hum' I seemed
To travel independent of her help,
As if I had forgotten her; but no,
The world of human-kind outweighed not hers
In my habitual thoughts; the scale of love,
Though filling daily, still was light, compared
With that in which 'her' mighty objects lay.
The Great Adventure Of Max Breuck
A yellow band of light upon the street
Pours from an open door, and makes a wide
Pathway of bright gold across a sheet
Of calm and liquid moonshine. From inside
Come shouts and streams of laughter, and a snatch
Of song, soon drowned and lost again in mirth,
The clip of tankards on a table top,
And stir of booted heels. Against the patch
Of candle-light a shadow falls, its girth
Proclaims the host himself, and master of his shop.
This is the tavern of one Hilverdink,
Jan Hilverdink, whose wines are much esteemed.
Within his cellar men can have to drink
The rarest cordials old monks ever schemed
To coax from pulpy grapes, and with nice art
Improve and spice their virgin juiciness.
Here froths the amber beer of many a brew,
Crowning each pewter tankard with as smart
A cap as ever in his wantonness
Winter set glittering on top of an old yew.
Tall candles stand upon the table, where
Are twisted glasses, ruby-sparked with wine,
Clarets and ports. Those topaz bumpers were
Drained from slim, long-necked bottles of the Rhine.
The centre of the board is piled with pipes,
Slender and clean, the still unbaptized clay
Awaits its burning fate. Behind, the vault
Stretches from dim to dark, a groping way
Bordered by casks and puncheons, whose brass stripes
And bands gleam dully still, beyond the gay tumult.
'For good old Master Hilverdink, a toast!'
Clamoured a youth with tassels on his boots.
'Bring out your oldest brandy for a boast,
From that small barrel in the very roots
Of your deep cellar, man. Why here is Max!
Ho! Welcome, Max, you're scarcely here in time.
We want to drink to old Jan's luck, and smoke
His best tobacco for a grand climax.
Here, Jan, a paper, fragrant as crushed thyme,
We'll have the best to wish you luck, or may we choke!'
Max Breuck unclasped his broadcloth cloak, and sat.
'Well thought of, Franz; here's luck to Mynheer Jan.'
The host set down a jar; then to a vat
Lost in the distance of his cellar, ran.
Max took a pipe as graceful as the stem
Of some long tulip, crammed it full, and drew
The pungent smoke deep to his grateful lung.
It curled all blue throughout the cave and flew
Into the silver night. At once there flung
Into the crowded shop a boy, who cried to them:
'Oh, sirs, is there some learned lawyer here,
Some advocate, or all-wise counsellor?
My master sent me to inquire where
Such men do mostly be, but every door
Was shut and barred, for late has grown the hour.
I pray you tell me where I may now find
One versed in law, the matter will not wait.'
'I am a lawyer, boy,' said Max, 'my mind
Is not locked to my business, though 'tis late.
I shall be glad to serve what way is in my power.
Then once more, cloaked and ready, he set out,
Tripping the footsteps of the eager boy
Along the dappled cobbles, while the rout
Within the tavern jeered at his employ.
Through new-burst elm leaves filtered the white moon,
Who peered and splashed between the twinkling boughs,
Flooded the open spaces, and took flight
Before tall, serried houses in platoon,
Guarded by shadows. Past the Custom House
They took their hurried way in the Spring-scented night.
Before a door which fronted a canal
The boy halted. A dim tree-shaded spot.
The water lapped the stones in musical
And rhythmic tappings, and a galliot
Slumbered at anchor with no light aboard.
The boy knocked twice, and steps approached. A flame
Winked through the keyhole, then a key was turned,
And through the open door Max went toward
Another door, whence sound of voices came.
He entered a large room where candelabra burned.
An aged man in quilted dressing gown
Rose up to greet him. 'Sir,' said Max, 'you sent
Your messenger to seek throughout the town
A lawyer. I have small accomplishment,
But I am at your service, and my name
Is Max Breuck, Counsellor, at your command.'
'Mynheer,' replied the aged man, 'obliged
Am I, and count myself much privileged.
I am Cornelius Kurler, and my fame
Is better known on distant oceans than on land.
My ship has tasted water in strange seas,
And bartered goods at still uncharted isles.
She's oft coquetted with a tropic breeze,
And sheered off hurricanes with jaunty smiles.'
'Tush, Kurler,' here broke in the other man,
'Enough of poetry, draw the deed and sign.'
The old man seemed to wizen at the voice,
'My good friend, Grootver, --' he at once began.
'No introductions, let us have some wine,
And business, now that you at last have made your choice.'
A harsh and disagreeable man he proved to be,
This Grootver, with no single kindly thought.
Kurler explained, his old hands nervously
Twisting his beard. His vessel he had bought
From Grootver. He had thought to soon repay
The ducats borrowed, but an adverse wind
Had so delayed him that his cargo brought
But half its proper price, the very day
He came to port he stepped ashore to find
The market glutted and his counted profits naught.
Little by little Max made out the way
That Grootver pressed that poor harassed old man.
His money he must have, too long delay
Had turned the usurer to a ruffian.
'But let me take my ship, with many bales
Of cotton stuffs dyed crimson, green, and blue,
Cunningly patterned, made to suit the taste
Of mandarin's ladies; when my battered sails
Open for home, such stores will I bring you
That all your former ventures will be counted waste.
Such light and foamy silks, like crinkled cream,
And indigo more blue than sun-whipped seas,
Spices and fragrant trees, a massive beam
Of sandalwood, and pungent China teas,
Tobacco, coffee!' Grootver only laughed.
Max heard it all, and worse than all he heard
The deed to which the sailor gave his word.
He shivered, 'twas as if the villain gaffed
The old man with a boat-hook; bleeding, spent,
He begged for life nor knew at all the road he went.
For Kurler had a daughter, young and gay,
Carefully reared and shielded, rarely seen.
But on one black and most unfriendly day
Grootver had caught her as she passed between
The kitchen and the garden. She had run
In fear of him, his evil leering eye,
And when he came she, bolted in her room,
Refused to show, though gave no reason why.
The spinning of her future had begun,
On quiet nights she heard the whirring of her doom.
Max mended an old goosequill by the fire,
Loathing his work, but seeing no thing to do.
He felt his hands were building up the pyre
To burn two souls, and seized with vertigo
He staggered to his chair. Before him lay
White paper still unspotted by a crime.
'Now, young man, write,' said Grootver in his ear.
'`If in two years my vessel should yet stay
From Amsterdam, I give Grootver, sometime
A friend, my daughter for his lawful wife.' Now swear.'
And Kurler swore, a palsied, tottering sound,
And traced his name, a shaking, wandering line.
Then dazed he sat there, speechless from his wound.
Grootver got up: 'Fair voyage, the brigantine!'
He shuffled from the room, and left the house.
His footsteps wore to silence down the street.
At last the aged man began to rouse.
With help he once more gained his trembling feet.
'My daughter, Mynheer Breuck, is friendless now.
Will you watch over her? I ask a solemn vow.'
Max laid his hand upon the old man's arm,
'Before God, sir, I vow, when you are gone,
So to protect your daughter from all harm
As one man may.' Thus sorrowful, forlorn,
The situation to Max Breuck appeared,
He gave his promise almost without thought,
Nor looked to see a difficulty. 'Bred
Gently to watch a mother left alone;
Bound by a dying father's wish, who feared
The world's accustomed harshness when he should be dead;
Such was my case from youth, Mynheer Kurler.
Last Winter she died also, and my days
Are passed in work, lest I should grieve for her,
And undo habits used to earn her praise.
My leisure I will gladly give to see
Your household and your daughter prosperous.'
The sailor said his thanks, but turned away.
He could not brook that his humility,
So little wonted, and so tremulous,
Should first before a stranger make such great display.
'Come here to-morrow as the bells ring noon,
I sail at the full sea, my daughter then
I will make known to you. 'Twill be a boon
If after I have bid good-by, and when
Her eyeballs scorch with watching me depart,
You bring her home again. She lives with one
Old serving-woman, who has brought her up.
But that is no friend for so free a heart.
No head to match her questions. It is done.
And I must sail away to come and brim her cup.
My ship's the fastest that owns Amsterdam
As home, so not a letter can you send.
I shall be back, before to where I am
Another ship could reach. Now your stipend --'
Quickly Breuck interposed. 'When you once more
Tread on the stones which pave our streets. -- Good night!
To-morrow I will be, at stroke of noon,
At the great wharf.' Then hurrying, in spite
Of cake and wine the old man pressed upon
Him ere he went, he took his leave and shut the door.
'Twas noon in Amsterdam, the day was clear,
And sunshine tipped the pointed roofs with gold.
The brown canals ran liquid bronze, for here
The sun sank deep into the waters cold.
And every clock and belfry in the town
Hammered, and struck, and rang. Such peals of bells,
To shake the sunny morning into life,
And to proclaim the middle, and the crown,
Of this most sparkling daytime! The crowd swells,
Laughing and pushing toward the quays in friendly strife.
The 'Horn of Fortune' sails away to-day.
At highest tide she lets her anchor go,
And starts for China. Saucy popinjay!
Giddy in freshest paint she curtseys low,
And beckons to her boats to let her start.
Blue is the ocean, with a flashing breeze.
The shining waves are quick to take her part.
They push and spatter her. Her sails are loose,
Her tackles hanging, waiting men to seize
And haul them taut, with chanty-singing, as they choose.
At the great wharf's edge Mynheer Kurler stands,
And by his side, his daughter, young Christine.
Max Breuck is there, his hat held in his hands,
Bowing before them both. The brigantine
Bounces impatient at the long delay,
Curvets and jumps, a cable's length from shore.
A heavy galliot unloads on the walls
Round, yellow cheeses, like gold cannon balls
Stacked on the stones in pyramids. Once more
Kurler has kissed Christine, and now he is away.
Christine stood rigid like a frozen stone,
Her hands wrung pale in effort at control.
Max moved aside and let her be alone,
For grief exacts each penny of its toll.
The dancing boat tossed on the glinting sea.
A sun-path swallowed it in flaming light,
Then, shrunk a cockleshell, it came again
Upon the other side. Now on the lee
It took the 'Horn of Fortune'. Straining sight
Could see it hauled aboard, men pulling on the crane.
Then up above the eager brigantine,
Along her slender masts, the sails took flight,
Were sheeted home, and ropes were coiled. The shine
Of the wet anchor, when its heavy weight
Rose splashing to the deck. These things they saw,
Christine and Max, upon the crowded quay.
They saw the sails grow white, then blue in shade,
The ship had turned, caught in a windy flaw
She glided imperceptibly away,
Drew farther off and in the bright sky seemed to fade.
Home, through the emptying streets, Max took Christine,
Who would have hid her sorrow from his gaze.
Before the iron gateway, clasped between
Each garden wall, he stopped. She, in amaze,
Asked, 'Do you enter not then, Mynheer Breuck?
My father told me of your courtesy.
Since I am now your charge, 'tis meet for me
To show such hospitality as maiden may,
Without disdaining rules must not be broke.
Katrina will have coffee, and she bakes today.'
She straight unhasped the tall, beflowered gate.
Curled into tendrils, twisted into cones
Of leaves and roses, iron infoliate,
It guards the pleasance, and its stiffened bones
Are budded with much peering at the rows,
And beds, and arbours, which it keeps inside.
Max started at the beauty, at the glare
Of tints. At either end was set a wide
Path strewn with fine, red gravel, and such shows
Of tulips in their splendour flaunted everywhere!
From side to side, midway each path, there ran
A longer one which cut the space in two.
And, like a tunnel some magician
Has wrought in twinkling green, an alley grew,
Pleached thick and walled with apple trees; their flowers
Incensed the garden, and when Autumn came
The plump and heavy apples crowding stood
And tapped against the arbour. Then the dame
Katrina shook them down, in pelting showers
They plunged to earth, and died transformed to sugared food.
Against the high, encircling walls were grapes,
Nailed close to feel the baking of the sun
From glowing bricks. Their microscopic shapes
Half hidden by serrated leaves. And one
Old cherry tossed its branches near the door.
Bordered along the wall, in beds between,
Flickering, streaming, nodding in the air,
The pride of all the garden, there were more
Tulips than Max had ever dreamed or seen.
They jostled, mobbed, and danced. Max stood at helpless stare.
'Within the arbour, Mynheer Breuck, I'll bring
Coffee and cakes, a pipe, and Father's best
Tobacco, brought from countries harbouring
Dawn's earliest footstep. Wait.' With girlish zest
To please her guest she flew. A moment more
She came again, with her old nurse behind.
Then, sitting on the bench and knitting fast,
She talked as someone with a noble store
Of hidden fancies, blown upon the wind,
Eager to flutter forth and leave their silent past.
The little apple leaves above their heads
Let fall a quivering sunshine. Quiet, cool,
In blossomed boughs they sat. Beyond, the beds
Of tulips blazed, a proper vestibule
And antechamber to the rainbow. Dyes
Of prismed richness: Carmine. Madder. Blues
Tinging dark browns to purple. Silvers flushed
To amethyst and tinct with gold. Round eyes
Of scarlet, spotting tender saffron hues.
Violets sunk to blacks, and reds in orange crushed.
Of every pattern and in every shade.
Nacreous, iridescent, mottled, checked.
Some purest sulphur-yellow, others made
An ivory-white with disks of copper flecked.
Sprinkled and striped, tasselled, or keenest edged.
Striated, powdered, freckled, long or short.
They bloomed, and seemed strange wonder-moths new-fledged,
Born of the spectrum wedded to a flame.
The shade within the arbour made a port
To o'ertaxed eyes, its still, green twilight rest became.
Her knitting-needles clicked and Christine talked,
This child matured to woman unaware,
The first time left alone. Now dreams once balked
Found utterance. Max thought her very fair.
Beneath her cap her ornaments shone gold,
And purest gold they were. Kurler was rich
And heedful. Her old maiden aunt had died
Whose darling care she was. Now, growing bold,
She asked, had Max a sister? Dropped a stitch
At her own candour. Then she paused and softly sighed.
Two years was long! She loved her father well,
But fears she had not. He had always been
Just sailed or sailing. And she must not dwell
On sad thoughts, he had told her so, and seen
Her smile at parting. But she sighed once more.
Two years was long; 'twas not one hour yet!
Mynheer Grootver she would not see at all.
Yes, yes, she knew, but ere the date so set,
The 'Horn of Fortune' would be at the wall.
When Max had bid farewell, she watched him from the door.
The next day, and the next, Max went to ask
The health of Jufvrouw Kurler, and the news:
Another tulip blown, or the great task
Of gathering petals which the high wind strews;
The polishing of floors, the pictured tiles
Well scrubbed, and oaken chairs most deftly oiled.
Such things were Christine's world, and his was she
Winter drew near, his sun was in her smiles.
Another Spring, and at his law he toiled,
Unspoken hope counselled a wise efficiency.
Max Breuck was honour's soul, he knew himself
The guardian of this girl; no more, no less.
As one in charge of guineas on a shelf
Loose in a china teapot, may confess
His need, but may not borrow till his friend
Comes back to give. So Max, in honour, said
No word of love or marriage; but the days
He clipped off on his almanac. The end
Must come! The second year, with feet of lead,
Lagged slowly by till Spring had plumped the willow sprays.
Two years had made Christine a woman grown,
With dignity and gently certain pride.
But all her childhood fancies had not flown,
Her thoughts in lovely dreamings seemed to glide.
Max was her trusted friend, did she confess
A closer happiness? Max could not tell.
Two years were over and his life he found
Sphered and complete. In restless eagerness
He waited for the 'Horn of Fortune'. Well
Had he his promise kept, abating not one pound.
Spring slipped away to Summer. Still no glass
Sighted the brigantine. Then Grootver came
Demanding Jufvrouw Kurler. His trespass
Was justified, for he had won the game.
Christine begged time, more time! Midsummer went,
And Grootver waxed impatient. Still the ship
Tarried. Christine, betrayed and weary, sank
To dreadful terrors. One day, crazed, she sent
For Max. 'Come quickly,' said her note, 'I skip
The worst distress until we meet. The world is blank.'
Through the long sunshine of late afternoon
Max went to her. In the pleached alley, lost
In bitter reverie, he found her soon.
And sitting down beside her, at the cost
Of all his secret, 'Dear,' said he, 'what thing
So suddenly has happened?' Then, in tears,
She told that Grootver, on the following morn,
Would come to marry her, and shuddering:
'I will die rather, death has lesser fears.'
Max felt the shackles drop from the oath which he had sworn.
'My Dearest One, the hid joy of my heart!
I love you, oh! you must indeed have known.
In strictest honour I have played my part;
But all this misery has overthrown
My scruples. If you love me, marry me
Before the sun has dipped behind those trees.
You cannot be wed twice, and Grootver, foiled,
Can eat his anger. My care it shall be
To pay your father's debt, by such degrees
As I can compass, and for years I've greatly toiled.
This is not haste, Christine, for long I've known
My love, and silence forced upon my lips.
I worship you with all the strength I've shown
In keeping faith.' With pleading finger tips
He touched her arm. 'Christine! Beloved! Think.
Let us not tempt the future. Dearest, speak,
I love you. Do my words fall too swift now?
They've been in leash so long upon the brink.'
She sat quite still, her body loose and weak.
Then into him she melted, all her soul at flow.
And they were married ere the westering sun
Had disappeared behind the garden trees.
The evening poured on them its benison,
And flower-scents, that only night-time frees,
Rose up around them from the beamy ground,
Silvered and shadowed by a tranquil moon.
Within the arbour, long they lay embraced,
In such enraptured sweetness as they found
Close-partnered each to each, and thinking soon
To be enwoven, long ere night to morning faced.
At last Max spoke, 'Dear Heart, this night is ours,
To watch it pale, together, into dawn,
Pressing our souls apart like opening flowers
Until our lives, through quivering bodies drawn,
Are mingled and confounded. Then, far spent,
Our eyes will close to undisturbed rest.
For that desired thing I leave you now.
To pinnacle this day's accomplishment,
By telling Grootver that a bootless quest
Is his, and that his schemes have met a knock-down blow.'
But Christine clung to him with sobbing cries,
Pleading for love's sake that he leave her not.
And wound her arms about his knees and thighs
As he stood over her. With dread, begot
Of Grootver's name, and silence, and the night,
She shook and trembled. Words in moaning plaint
Wooed him to stay. She feared, she knew not why,
Yet greatly feared. She seemed some anguished saint
Martyred by visions. Max Breuck soothed her fright
With wisdom, then stepped out under the cooling sky.
But at the gate once more she held him close
And quenched her heart again upon his lips.
'My Sweetheart, why this terror? I propose
But to be gone one hour! Evening slips
Away, this errand must be done.' 'Max! Max!
First goes my father, if I lose you now!'
She grasped him as in panic lest she drown.
Softly he laughed, 'One hour through the town
By moonlight! That's no place for foul attacks.
Dearest, be comforted, and clear that troubled brow.
One hour, Dear, and then, no more alone.
We front another day as man and wife.
I shall be back almost before I'm gone,
And midnight shall anoint and crown our life.'
Then through the gate he passed. Along the street
She watched his buttons gleaming in the moon.
He stopped to wave and turned the garden wall.
Straight she sank down upon a mossy seat.
Her senses, mist-encircled by a swoon,
Swayed to unconsciousness beneath its wreathing pall.
Briskly Max walked beside the still canal.
His step was firm with purpose. Not a jot
He feared this meeting, nor the rancorous gall
Grootver would spit on him who marred his plot.
He dreaded no man, since he could protect
Christine. His wife! He stopped and laughed aloud.
His starved life had not fitted him for joy.
It strained him to the utmost to reject
Even this hour with her. His heart beat loud.
'Damn Grootver, who can force my time to this employ!'
He laughed again. What boyish uncontrol
To be so racked. Then felt his ticking watch.
In half an hour Grootver would know the whole.
And he would be returned, lifting the latch
Of his own gate, eager to take Christine
And crush her to his lips. How bear delay?
He broke into a run. In front, a line
Of candle-light banded the cobbled street.
Hilverdink's tavern! Not for many a day
Had he been there to take his old, accustomed seat.
'Why, Max! Stop, Max!' And out they came pell-mell,
His old companions. 'Max, where have you been?
Not drink with us? Indeed you serve us well!
How many months is it since we have seen
You here? Jan, Jan, you slow, old doddering goat!
Here's Mynheer Breuck come back again at last,
Stir your old bones to welcome him. Fie, Max.
Business! And after hours! Fill your throat;
Here's beer or brandy. Now, boys, hold him fast.
Put down your cane, dear man. What really vicious whacks!'
They forced him to a seat, and held him there,
Despite his anger, while the hideous joke
Was tossed from hand to hand. Franz poured with care
A brimming glass of whiskey. 'Here, we've broke
Into a virgin barrel for you, drink!
Tut! Tut! Just hear him! Married! Who, and when?
Married, and out on business. Clever Spark!
Which lie's the likeliest? Come, Max, do think.'
Swollen with fury, struggling with these men,
Max cursed hilarity which must needs have a mark.
Forcing himself to steadiness, he tried
To quell the uproar, told them what he dared
Of his own life and circumstance. Implied
Most urgent matters, time could ill be spared.
In jesting mood his comrades heard his tale,
And scoffed at it. He felt his anger more
Goaded and bursting; -- 'Cowards! Is no one loth
To mock at duty --' Here they called for ale,
And forced a pipe upon him. With an oath
He shivered it to fragments on the earthen floor.
Sobered a little by his violence,
And by the host who begged them to be still,
Nor injure his good name, 'Max, no offence,'
They blurted, 'you may leave now if you will.'
'One moment, Max,' said Franz. 'We've gone too far.
I ask your pardon for our foolish joke.
It started in a wager ere you came.
The talk somehow had fall'n on drugs, a jar
I brought from China, herbs the natives smoke,
Was with me, and I thought merely to play a game.
Its properties are to induce a sleep
Fraught with adventure, and the flight of time
Is inconceivable in swiftness. Deep
Sunken in slumber, imageries sublime
Flatter the senses, or some fearful dream
Holds them enmeshed. Years pass which on the clock
Are but so many seconds. We agreed
That the next man who came should prove the scheme;
And you were he. Jan handed you the crock.
Two whiffs! And then the pipe was broke, and you were freed.'
'It is a lie, a damned, infernal lie!'
Max Breuck was maddened now. 'Another jest
Of your befuddled wits. I know not why
I am to be your butt. At my request
You'll choose among you one who'll answer for
Your most unseasonable mirth. Good-night
And good-by, -- gentlemen. You'll hear from me.'
But Franz had caught him at the very door,
'It is no lie, Max Breuck, and for your plight
I am to blame. Come back, and we'll talk quietly.
You have no business, that is why we laughed,
Since you had none a few minutes ago.
As to your wedding, naturally we chaffed,
Knowing the length of time it takes to do
A simple thing like that in this slow world.
Indeed, Max, 'twas a dream. Forgive me then.
I'll burn the drug if you prefer.' But Breuck
Muttered and stared, -- 'A lie.' And then he hurled,
Distraught, this word at Franz: 'Prove it. And when
It's proven, I'll believe. That thing shall be your work.
I'll give you just one week to make your case.
On August thirty-first, eighteen-fourteen,
I shall require your proof.' With wondering face
Franz cried, 'A week to August, and fourteen
The year! You're mad, 'tis April now.
April, and eighteen-twelve.' Max staggered, caught
A chair, -- 'April two years ago! Indeed,
Or you, or I, are mad. I know not how
Either could blunder so.' Hilverdink brought
'The Amsterdam Gazette', and Max was forced to read.
'Eighteen hundred and twelve,' in largest print;
And next to it, 'April the twenty-first.'
The letters smeared and jumbled, but by dint
Of straining every nerve to meet the worst,
He read it, and into his pounding brain
Tumbled a horror. Like a roaring sea
Foreboding shipwreck, came the message plain:
'This is two years ago! What of Christine?'
He fled the cellar, in his agony
Running to outstrip Fate, and save his holy shrine.
The darkened buildings echoed to his feet
Clap-clapping on the pavement as he ran.
Across moon-misted squares clamoured his fleet
And terror-winged steps. His heart began
To labour at the speed. And still no sign,
No flutter of a leaf against the sky.
And this should be the garden wall, and round
The corner, the old gate. No even line
Was this! No wall! And then a fearful cry
Shattered the stillness. Two stiff houses filled the ground.
Shoulder to shoulder, like dragoons in line,
They stood, and Max knew them to be the ones
To right and left of Kurler's garden. Spine
Rigid next frozen spine. No mellow tones
Of ancient gilded iron, undulate,
Expanding in wide circles and broad curves,
The twisted iron of the garden gate,
Was there. The houses touched and left no space
Between. With glassy eyes and shaking nerves
Max gazed. Then mad with fear, fled still, and left that place.
Stumbling and panting, on he ran, and on.
His slobbering lips could only cry, 'Christine!
My Dearest Love! My Wife! Where are you gone?
What future is our past? What saturnine,
Sardonic devil's jest has bid us live
Two years together in a puff of smoke?
It was no dream, I swear it! In some star,
Or still imprisoned in Time's egg, you give
Me love. I feel it. Dearest Dear, this stroke
Shall never part us, I will reach to where you are.'
His burning eyeballs stared into the dark.
The moon had long been set. And still he cried:
'Christine! My Love! Christine!' A sudden spark
Pricked through the gloom, and shortly Max espied
With his uncertain vision, so within
Distracted he could scarcely trust its truth,
A latticed window where a crimson gleam
Spangled the blackness, and hung from a pin,
An iron crane, were three gilt balls. His youth
Had taught their meaning, now they closed upon his dream.
Softly he knocked against the casement, wide
It flew, and a cracked voice his business there
Demanded. The door opened, and inside
Max stepped. He saw a candle held in air
Above the head of a gray-bearded Jew.
'Simeon Isaacs, Mynheer, can I serve
You?' 'Yes, I think you can. Do you keep arms?
I want a pistol.' Quick the old man grew
Livid. 'Mynheer, a pistol! Let me swerve
You from your purpose. Life brings often false alarms --'
'Peace, good old Isaacs, why should you suppose
My purpose deadly. In good truth I've been
Blest above others. You have many rows
Of pistols it would seem. Here, this shagreen
Case holds one that I fancy. Silvered mounts
Are to my taste. These letters `C. D. L.'
Its former owner? Dead, you say. Poor Ghost!
'Twill serve my turn though --' Hastily he counts
The florins down upon the table. 'Well,
Good-night, and wish me luck for your to-morrow's toast.'
Into the night again he hurried, now
Pale and in haste; and far beyond the town
He set his goal. And then he wondered how
Poor C. D. L. had come to die. 'It's grown
Handy in killing, maybe, this I've bought,
And will work punctually.' His sorrow fell
Upon his senses, shutting out all else.
Again he wept, and called, and blindly fought
The heavy miles away. 'Christine. I'm well.
I'm coming. My Own Wife!' He lurched with failing pulse.
Along the dyke the keen air blew in gusts,
And grasses bent and wailed before the wind.
The Zuider Zee, which croons all night and thrusts
Long stealthy fingers up some way to find
And crumble down the stones, moaned baffled. Here
The wide-armed windmills looked like gallows-trees.
No lights were burning in the distant thorps.
Max laid aside his coat. His mind, half-clear,
Babbled 'Christine!' A shot split through the breeze.
The cold stars winked and glittered at his chilling corpse.
IN yonder red-brick mansion, tight and square,
Just at the town's commencement, lives the mayor.
Some yards of shining gravel, fenced with box,
Lead to the painted portal--where one knocks :
There, in the left-hand parlour, all in state,
Sit he and she, on either side the grate.
But though their goods and chattels, sound and new,
Bespeak the owners very well to do,
His worship's wig and morning suit betray
Slight indications of an humbler day
That long, low shop, where still the name appears,
Some doors below, they kept for forty years :
And there, with various fortunes, smooth and rough,
They sold tobacco, coffee, tea, and snuff.
There labelled drawers display their spicy row--
Clove, mace, and nutmeg : from the ceiling low
Dangle long twelves and eights , and slender rush,
Mix'd with the varied forms of genus brush ;
Cask, firkin, bag, and barrel, crowd the floor,
And piles of country cheeses guard the door.
The frugal dames came in from far and near,
To buy their ounces and their quarterns here.
Hard was the toil, the profits slow to count,
And yet the mole-hill was at last a mount.
Those petty gains were hoarded day by day,
With little cost, for not a child had they ;
Till, long proceeding on the saving plan,
He found himself a warm, fore-handed man :
And being now arrived at life's decline,
Both he and she, they formed the bold design,
(Although it touched their prudence to the quick)
To turn their savings into stone and brick.
How many an ounce of tea and ounce of snuff,
There must have been consumed to make enough !
At length, with paint and paper, bright and gay,
The box was finished, and they went away.
But when their faces were no longer seen
Amongst the canisters of black and green ,
--Those well-known faces, all the country round--
'Twas said that had they levelled to the ground
The two old walnut trees before the door,
The customers would not have missed them more.
Now, like a pair of parrots in a cage,
They live, and civic honours crown their age :
Thrice, since the Whitsuntide they settled there,
Seven years ago, has he been chosen mayor ;
And now you'd scarcely know they were the same ;
Conscious he struts, of power, and wealth, and fame ;
Proud in official dignity, the dame :
And extra stateliness of dress and mien,
During the mayoralty, is plainly seen ;
With nicer care bestowed to puff and pin
The august lappet that contains her chin.
Such is her life ; and, like the wise and great,
The mind has journeyed hand in hand with fate :
Her thoughts, unused to take a longer flight
Than from the left-hand counter to the right,
With little change, are vacillating still,
Between his worship's glory, and the till.
The few ideas moving, slow and dull,
Across the sandy desert of her skull,
Still the same course must follow, to and fro,
As first they traversed three-score years ago ;
From whence, not all the world could turn them back,
Or lead them out upon another track.
What once was right or wrong, or high or low
In her opinion, always must be so :--
You might, perhaps, with reasons new and pat,
Have made Columbus think the world was flat ;
There might be times of energy worn out,
When his own theory would Sir Isaac doubt ;
But not the powers of argument combined,
Could make this dear good woman change her mind,
Or give her intellect the slightest clue
To that vast world of things she never knew.
Were but her brain dissected, it would show
Her stiff opinions fastened in a row,
Ranged duly, side by side, without a gap,
Much like the plaiting on her Sunday cap.
It is not worth our while, but if it were,
We all could undertake to laugh at her ;
Since vulgar prejudice, the lowest kind,
Of course, has full possession of her mind ;
Here, therefore, let us leave her, and inquire
Wherein it differs as it rises higher.
--As for the few who claim distinction here,
The little gentry of our narrow sphere,
Who occupy a safe enclosure, made
Completely inaccessible to trade,
Where, 'tis a trespass on forbidden ground,
If any foot plebeian pass the bound ;--
Wide as the distance that we choose to make
For pride, precedence, and for custom's sake,
Yet philosophic eyes (though passing fine)
Could scarcely ascertain the boundary line ;
So that, if any should be found at all,
The difference must be infinitely small.
The powdered matron, who for many a year
Has held her mimic routs and parties here,
(Exchanging just the counter, scales, and till
For cups of coffee, scandal, and quadrille)
Could boast nor range of thought, nor views of life,
Much more extended than our grocer's wife.
Although her notions may be better drest,
They are but vulgar notions at the best,--
Mere petrifactions, formed as time runs by,
Hard and unmalleable, and dull and dry,
Ne'er to the test of truth and reason brought,
--Opinions made by habit, not by thought.
Then let inquiry rise, with sudden flight,
To reason's utmost intellectual height ;
Where native powers, with culture high combined,
Present the choicest specimen of mind.
--Those minds that stand from all mankind aloof,
To smile at folly, or dispense reproof ;
Enlarged, excursive, reason soars away,
And breaks the shackles that confine its sway :
Their keen, dissecting, penetrating view,
Searches poor human nature through and through ;
But while they notice all the forms absurd,
That prejudice assumes among the herd,
And every nicer variation see,
Theirs lies in thinking that themselves are free.
There is a science reason cannot teach ;
It lies beyond the depth her line can reach ;
It is but taught by Heaven's imparted grace,
The feet of Jesus is the only place ;
And they who mental riches largely share,
But seldom stoop to seek their wisdom there.
'Not many mighty' in His train appear ;
The simple poor adorn it best ;--and here,
While prejudice the mental sight impairs
Of vulgar minds,--'tis like a beam in theirs.
Religion, as in common course professed,
Is first a question with them, then a jest :
Quick to discern the ludicrous and base,
With which blind votaries have deformed her face,
Errors, abuses, creeds imposed by man,
Are undistinguished from the Scripture plan.
Rome's proud ambition, tyranny, and fraud,
The Christian standard's bloody deeds abroad,
Priestcraft, the same in every age and clime,
From earliest record to the present time,
Contending parties' never-dying strife,
Each calling vengeance on the other's life,
The wretched hypocrite,--the wild extreme
Of blind fanatics,--the enthusiast's dream,
The lives of those who bear the Christian name,--
Of this, of all, religion bears the blame ;
Though these are men who most reject its sway,
And know as little what it means as they.
There's not a wolf within the church's fold,
But what the Bible has itself foretold ;
Yet these triumphantly are brought to view,
To prove that word of prophecy untrue.
A cold acknowledgment of one Supreme,
Avoids, they argue, every wide extreme ;
And this, if made by Christian, Turk, or Jew,
Is all the same in His impartial view.
But all beyond their rational degree
Of distant homage to the Deity,--
A firm attachment to the truth revealed ,
(Truth which with blood the Lord of glory sealed)
Zeal to obey, as well as to adore,--
Is vulgar prejudice, and nothing more.
Thus, christian service, spiritual and free,
They class (with pleased and proud complacency)
With rights impure that pagan India boasts,
The blood-dyed Koran, and the idol hosts ;
The cross, perhaps, held up with least respect,
The hated symbol of the hated sect :
That seal which marks it Heaven's appointed way,
They caring nor to read, nor to obey,
--That whoso names that name, must first depart
From all iniquity of life and heart.
Or, should the Christian code from all the rest
Be singled out, and owned to be the best,
The same keen shafts of ridicule are bent
Against its spirit, and its true intent.
Of all that gives it energy bereft,
There are but some mere scraps of ethics left,
Scarce more enlightened than were heard to flow
From Socrates and Plato long ago :
As though, had Scripture never solved a doubt,
We might have managed vastly well without.
Religion's nature, and its worth, are known
To those by whom it is possessed alone.
The Christian's aims and motives, simple, grand,
The wisest worldlings cannot understand :
Those views which worldly principles condemn,
Are so incomprehensible to them,
That they, unanimous in self defence,
Pronounce them mere delusion or pretence ;
And prejudice (a favourite word) explains
All that still unaccounted for remains.
Mid the strong course of passion's wonted sway,
What makes the wicked man forsake his way ?
Conquers the habits years had rooted in,
All fear subduing, but the fear of sin ?
And him who toiled for earthly bliss, arise,
Leave all, and lay up treasure in the skies ?
These are phenomena that, strange to say,
Religion is presenting every day ;
Changes, which they who witness dare not doubt,
Though little heard of by the world without.
The man now goes rejoicing on his way,
With inward peace, and cheerful, though not gay ;
Unseen the motives that his path define ;
His life is hidden, though his graces shine.
He walks through life's distracting changes now,
With even pace, and with an even brow ;
Hears the vain world's tumultuous hue and cry,
Just turns his head, and passes calmly by ;
Yet takes his cheerful share when duty draws,
And still is foremost found in mercy's cause.
What works this strange philosophy in him,
Is it misanthropy, or merely whim ?
No ; 'tis the glowing, present sense he feels
Of things invisible, which faith reveals.
And should the man thus walking with his God,
Be one unpolished as the valley's clod,
Should all his science but amount to this,
--To loathe iniquity, and long for bliss ?
This is not prejudice--or if it be,
'Twere well if all were prejudiced as he !
But things to come--the vast unfathomed state,
To which death opens instantly the gate,--
Although the thought of that expected change,
Affords the finest intellectual range,
Although that change must soon become our lot,
Whether the subject suit our taste or not,
Although objectors cannot well reply,
That 'tis a vulgar prejudice to die,--
The subject seems (howe'er it came to pass)
Avoided much by this enlightened class.
All other themes, whose tendencies appear
To add to our accommodation here,
Every contrivance of contriving men
To make a pleasant three-score years and ten,
--Inventions and improvements, whether made
In science, commerce, agriculture, trade,
The arts, belles lettres , politics, finance,
Their value is acknowledged at a glance ;
And these are studied, patronised, and taught,
With active diligence,--and so they ought.
But since a moment may--some moment must
Consign our interest in them all to dust,
Has not the business of the world to come,
Mid all our thoughts, at least a claim to some ?
But these are things mysterious and obscure,
Not tangible, and rational, and sure ;
'Tis such a vague untenable expanse :--
In short, they mean to wait, and take their chance.
Could you but show by demonstration clear,
How forms and things invisible appear ;
Produce your apparatus, bright and clean,
And try experiments on things unseen ;
Rare specimens, in due assortment bring,
Of seraph's eyes, and slips of angel's wing,
Or metaphysic air-pumps work, to show
A disembodied soul in vacuo ;
Then 'twere a study worthy of alliance
With any other branch of modern science.
But mere assertion of a future state,
By unknown writers, at a distant date,
If this be all its advocates advance,
It is but superstition and romance.
Thus, mental pride, unsubject to control ;
To God a secret enmity of soul ;
That stubbornness which scorns to yield assent
To aught unfounded on experiment ;
A wretched clinging to the present state,
That loathes to dwell on things beyond its date ;
That dread of death which ne'er the thought pursues,
And which the Christian's hope alone subdues,--
Combine a veil of prejudice to place
Between dark reason and the light of grace ;
--A prejudice as hopeless as can bind
The meanest, most illiterate of mankind.
Would that the films of error were allowed
But by the vulgar worldling, or the proud !
But this distemper of the moral eye
Never affects it more inveterately,
Than when the false of prejudice's view
Is intermingled with a little true .
And hence, the conscientious and sincere,
Who know essential truth, and hold it dear,
If education (as she doubtless can)
Have formed their souls upon the narrow plan,
Permit no notion from its nook to stir ;
Most obstinately certain--where they err.
Thus are opinions, as received in youth,
Wedged down immovably with slips of truth ;
Assured of part, they deem the whole is right ;
And what astonishment it would excite,
Should any have the boldness to allege,
That all is rubbish but the golden wedge !
--'Tis pity, for the sceptic world without
Produce the error to confirm their doubt,
Therefore refuse the sterling to behold ;
And thus the rubbish tarnishes the gold.
There is a tender, captivating glow
Which certain views on certain objects throw :
Taste, and poetic feeling, range alone
A fairy world exclusively their own ;
And delicacies gather that arise,
Where'er they turn, unseen by vulgar eyes.
Their dainty aliment serenely floats
On every breeze--they live like gnats on motes.
There they might safely, innocently stray ;
But when they come and stand in Reason's way,
They blind her views, demean her princely air,
And do more mischief than their smiles repair.
Why she their interference should restrain,
A simple instance shall at once explain.
When Paul the walks of beauteous Athens trod,
To point its children to their 'unknown God,'
If some refined Athenian, passing by,
Heard that new doctrine, how would he reply ?
Regarding first, with polished, scornful smile,
The stranger's figure and unclassic style,
Perceiving then the argument was bent
Against the gods of his establishment,
He need but cast his tutored eye around,
And in that glance he has an answer found :
--Altars and theatres, and sacred groves,
Temples and deities where'er it roves,
Each long perspective that the eye pervades,
Peopled with heroes, thickening as it fades;
Those awful forms that hold their silent sway,
Matchless in grace, while ages roll away;
There, softly blending with the evening shade,
Less light and less, the airy colonnade ;
Here, in magnificence of Attic grace,
Minerva's Temple, rising from its base ;
Its spotless marble forming to the eye
A ghostly outline on the deep-blue sky :--
'Enough--the doctrine that would undermine
These forms of beauty cannot be divine.'
Thus taste would, doubtless, intercept his view
Of that 'strange thing,' which after all--was true.
When Luther's sun arose, to chase away
The 'dim religious light' of Romish day,
Opposing, only, to the mellow glare
Of gold and gems that deck the papal chair,
And each imposing pageant of the church,
Good sense, plain argument, and sound research ;--
Here taste, again, would prove a dangerous guide,
And raise a prejudice on error's side.
--Behold the slow procession move along !
The Pontiff's blessing on the prostrate throng ;
The solemn service, and the anthem loud,
The altar's radiance on the kneeling crowd :--
Or seek, at summons of the convent bell,
Deep, sacred shades, where fair recluses dwell ;
See the long train of white-robed sisters come,
Appearing now--now lost amid the gloom,
Chanting shrill vespers in the twilight dim,
The plaintive music of the Virgin's hymn :--
Then would not taste and fancy join the cry
Against the rude, barbarian heresy,
That sought those sacred walls to overthrow,
And rend the veil from that seducing show ?
And yet, according to our present light,
That barbarous, tasteless heretic--was right.
It might not be convenient had we gone
To carry this reflection further on.
--But whether, mid the faint and foggy ray,
Of ages past, or at the present day,
Truth's native lustre ever must decline
When human art attempts to make it shine :
--Truth is too strong to need the proffered hand
Of human feebleness to make it stand.
Inveterate prejudice, infirm and blind,
May take possession of an honest mind :
Though weakly yielding to its stubborn sway,
'Tis not determined to be led astray.
But is there not a sin that must not claim,
Though near of kindred, such a gentle name ?
A daring sin, that comes with open face,
To rear its standard in the holy place ?
E'en from that day, when some would fain condemn
The works of those who followed not with them,
And for that early spark of party rage
Received reproof designed for every age,
Down to the present noisy moment, when
'Tis spirting from the tip of many a pen,--
E'en from that day to this, with ceaseless reign,
Has party spirit been the church's bane.
Then, let the verse trace clearly as it can,
The finer features of the party man.
By birth, connexion, interest, pride, or taste,
On one or other side we find him placed ;
No matter which, nor is there need to say,
For there he is--and there he means to stay.
That point decided, 'tis his second care
To find a reason for his being there ;
Some reason that may make a brave defence
Against assaults from truth and common sense ;
--Supposing for the present, that his ground
Is not exactly tenable all round.
He, not contented like the vulgar herd
To take his creed on other people's word,
And urged amain, by intellectual pride,
To prove he is not on the weaker side,
His choisest stores of wit and fancy draws,
To prop and beautify the needy cause :
And well do wit and fancy suit their end,
Who seek not to examine , but defend.
His is no simple scrupulous mistake,
Like the weak brother, wrong for conscience' sake ;
But prejudice, in him, has had to bind
A knowing, subtle, and enlightened mind.
Hence, at each step, he has to bear along
The secret consciousness of something wrong ;
But that suspicion, unavowed of course,
Serves but to nerve his arm with triple force ;
Provokes his zeal to lend its utmost aid,
And gives the edge of keenness to his blade.
His mind is formed, as though 'twere nature's plan
To cut him out to be a party man,
And send him down, in pity, to his post,
As foremost champion of the weaker host :
Not of that grander, philosophic tone,
That lets all party littleness alone ;
But keen, sagacious, armed for quick reply,
And, though not visible to every eye,
Nor from his courteous manner to be guessed--
A dash of gall and wormwood in his breast.
Yet, every harsher quality is graced
With wit and learning, eloquence and taste ;
Yes--and as charity delights to say,
Much self deceived, and hoping that he may,
While gratifying self, and party spleen,
Squeeze in some love to God and man between.
A show of candour too, at times, is lent,
To add its lustre to his argument :
To those who advocate the favorite notion,
It flows as wide as the Atlantic Ocean ;
But towards the heretic who turns it over,
About as narrow as the straits of Dover.
It seems too much for either side to boast
The right in every contest, if in most :
Yet our true partizan from none withdraws,
But lends his talents out to every cause.
Each new encounter prompt to undertake,
Asking no questions first for conscience' sake :
'Tis not for him the right and wrong to sift,
Enough to know his party wants a lift ;
And, though so hazardous none other can,
He boldly takes the field with--'I'm your man !'
And thus he dares the controversial fray ;
Though careful, first of all, to clear away
A little rubbish, till he finds a stone
Just broad enough to set his foot upon.
On that one stone he loudly stamps, to show
How firm a standing-place it is, although
Should he advance a step, or step retire,
He plunges all at once knee-deep in mire.
If thence beat off by some opposing band,
He finds some neighbouring jutment where to stand ;
There followed, seeks the old support amain,
Driv'n off anew--anew slips back again.
draft board may exemplify the thing ;
When chased from post to post, one hapless king,
At length, betakes him to--by marches short,
The double corner as his last resort ;
Where long, from square to square he bravely courses,
And stands his ground though robbed of all his forces.
Meantime, he trusts the checks his arms receive
But few will hear of--fewer still believe ;
Hopes the dry record will be little sought ;
And feels a Jesuit-pleasure at the thought.
It seems the choicest secret of his art,
To ward invasion from the weaker part ;
To veil all blemishes, and make the most
Of what he has, or thinks he has, to boast.
Of full exposure more than all afraid,
He trusts to neat manoeuvres to evade
That thorough search, in every hole and nook,
Which unencumbered truth alone can brook ;
And labours hard, by hiding all the traces,
To intimate that there are no such places.
His fairest movements seem to wear disguise ;
His plans are rather politic than wise ;
Not to elicit truth, but o'er the dross
To spread a plausible and specious gloss,
But he, who finds it needful, on his part,
To ply the mean artillery of art,
And sharpen every arrow that he draws,
May well suspect the soundness of his cause.
Suspect he may,--but vain that lucid doubt,
Devoid of nobleness to search it out.
--Between the man on controversial ground,
Panting for truth wherever it be found,
And him who does but seek it on one side,
There lies a gulf immeasurably wide.
Two brother sportsmen, on a blithsome morn,
Obey the summons of the inspiring horn :
One, predetermined to pursue the chase
Within the limits of a certain space ;
The other, glowing with the bold intent,
Lead where it may, to follow up the scent.
--They start the hare--and after many a bound
Doubling and winding on file aforesaid ground,
She leaps the fence and gains the neighbouring mead ;
At which our doughty sportsman checks his steed ;
Rather than follow boldly on to that,
He stays behind the hedge--and starts a cat ;
Pursues poor puss with vast advantage thence,
And has brave sport within his blessed fence.
--Then having clipt and trimmed her, here and there,
Assures the world that he has caught the hare ;
And should his sporting friends confirm the lie,
Ere there is time to ask the reason why,
A hare--though common sense should stand appalled--
She was, is now, and ever shall be called.
Meantime, the brother sportsman does not fail
To chase his victim over hill and dale ;
The five-barred gate, tall rampart, hedge and ditch,
Alike to him--he leaps, and cares not which
At length he sees,--nor sees without dismay,
The pack strike off an unexpected way ;
The path they take, by tact unerring shown,
Must cross a fine enclosure of his own ;
The fair plantation, on his favorite grounds,
Is rudely torn and trampled by the hounds :
Safe from attack the sheltered spot appeared ;
His fathers raised it, and himself revered :
Though startled, he disdains to call them back,
But leaps, and follows the sagacious pack ;
Tramples the ground himself, with noble pride,
And hears the death-cry on the other side ;
Secures his prey--content to bear the shame,
If such it be,--for he has got the game.
Interest its secret bias may impart,
When least suspected, to an upright heart :
But when a creed and worldly views unite,
Where interest is the only rule of right ;
Where loaves and fishes--all our goodly show
Depend on people's thinking so and so ;
What pompous, loud, declamatory wrath,
The mere expression of a doubt calls forth !
The weight of argument is balanced here,
Against so many thousand pounds a year ;
--What dreadful, dangerous heresy is taught !
It must be silenced--will not bear a thought !
Is party spirit, therefore, only found
In one enclosure of disputed ground ?
No ; while Nathaniels stand on either side
The boundary lines that differing sects divide,
Unchristian tempers every form may take,
And truth itself be loved for party's sake.
The man whom conscience, less than mental pride,
Early enlisted on the opposing side,
Proves that the flames of an unhallowed fire,
Not love to God and man, his zeal inspire.
--Pleased, proud to differ, eloquent to teach
The lesser doctrines that enlarge the breach,
In bold defiance of the christian rule,
Says to his brother, 'raca,' and 'thou fool ;'
Or vainly hopes to violate its laws,
Beneath the sanction of a righteous cause.
Rejoiced, not grieved in spirit, to behold
Abuses thicken in the neighbouring fold ;
And doubting, grudging, backward to concede
That any sheep within that pasture feed.
Intent his controversial shafts to draw,
Omits the weightier matters of the law ;
Wont more on points of party strife to dwell,
Than emulous to save a soul from hell.
Yet,--if his soul be free from wilful guile,
Believes he does God service all the while.
But oh ! the darkest candidate for bliss,
Who seeking that, spares not a thought for this,
Though much encumbered should his notions be,
Is safer, happier, nearer Heaven than he.
Come, let us rise from party's noisy sphere,
To trace an honest mind in its career ;
And see how far true greatness spreads its flight
Above the cleverness of party spite.
He, from the regions of a calmer day,
Hears the faint clamour of the distant fray :
Hears but to pity--while in tranquil mood
He holds his course in happy solitude.
Truth his sole object, this, with simple aim,
He follows, caring little for the name ;
Not with the poor intent to make her stand
And wave his party's ensign in her hand,
Mocking his neighbour's pitiful mistake ;
But for her own invaluable sake.
That is the truly philosophic mind,
Which no inferior influence can bind ;
Which all endeavours to confine were vain,
Though the earth's orbit were its length of chain.
--But not that boldness which delights to break
From what our fathers taught, for license' sake,
Through all dry places wandering, still in quest,
Like lawless fiends, of some unhallowed rest ;--
The love of truth is genuine, when combined
With unaffected humbleness of mind.
He values most, who feels with sense acute
His own deep interest in the grand pursuit ;
Who heaven-ward spreads his undiverted wing,
Godly simplicity the moving spring.
No meaner power can regulate his flight,
Too much is staked upon his going right.
Dry, heartless speculation may succeed,
Where the sole object is to frame a creed ;
The sophist's heart may suit their eager quest,
Who only aim to prove their creed the best ;
But not such views his anxious search control,
Who loves the truth because he loves his soul.
Truth is but one with Heaven, in his esteem,
The sparkling spring of life's eternal stream ;
And hence, with equal singleness of heart,
He traces out each less essential part :
No worldly motives can his views entice ;
He parts with all to gain the pearl of price.
Why is opinion, singly as it stands,
So much inherited like house and lands ?
Whence comes it that from sire to son it goes,
Like a dark eye-brow or a Roman nose ?
How comes it, too, that notions, wrong or right,
Which no direct affinities unite,
On every side of party ground, one sees,
Clung close together like a swarm of bees ?
Where one is held, through habit, form, or force,
The rest are all consented to of course,
As though combined by some interior plot ;
Is it necessity, or chance, or what ?
Where'er the undiscovered cause be sought,
No man would trace its origin to thought :
Then shall we say, with leave of Dr. Gall,
It comes to pass from thinking not at all ?
Though man a thinking being is defined,
Few use the grand prerogative of mind :
How few think justly of the thinking few !
How many never think, who think they do !
Opinion, therefore--such our mental dearth--
Depends on mere locality or birth.
Hence, the warm tory, eloquent and big
With loyal zeal, had he been born a whig,
Would rave for liberty with equal flame,
No shadow of distinction but the name.
Hence, Christian bigots, 'neath the pagan cloud,
Had roared for 'great Diana' just as loud ;
Or, dropped at Rome, at Mecca, or Pekin,
For Fo , the prophet, or the man of sin,
Much of the light and soundness of our creed,
Whate'er it be, depends on what we read.
How many clamour loudly for their way,
Who never heard what others have to say :
Fixt where they are, determined to be right,
They fear to be disturbed by further light ;
And where the voice of argument is heard,
Away they run, and will not hear a word.
Form notions vague, and gathered up by chance,
Or mere report, of what you might advance ;
Resolve the old frequented path to tread,
And still to think as they were born and bred.
Besides this blind devotion to a sect
Custom produces much the same effect.
Our desks with piles of controversy groan ;
But still, alas ! each party's with its own,
Each deems his logic must conviction bring,
If people would but read ;--but there's the thing !
The sermons, pamphlets, papers, books, reviews,
That plead our own opinions, we peruse ;
And these alone--as though the plan had been
To rivet all our prejudices in.
'Tis really droll to see how people's shelves,
Go where you will, are labelled like themselves.
Ask if your neighbour--he whose party tone,
Polemic, or political, is known--
Sees such a publication--naming one
That takes a different side, or sides with none ;
And straight in flat, uncomfortable-wise,
That damps all further mention, he replies,
'No, sir, we do not see that work--I know
Its general views ;--we take in so and so.'
Thus each retains his notions, every one ;
Thus they descend complete from sire to son ;
And hence, the blind contempt so freely shown
For every one's opinions but our own.
How oft from public or from private pique,
Conscience and truth are not allowed to speak :
Reasons might weigh that now are quite forgot,
If such a man or party urged them not ;
But oh, what logic strong enough can be,
To prove that they have clearer views than we !
In times like ours, 'twere wise if people would
Well scrutinize their zeal for doing good.
A few plain questions might suffice, to prove
What flows from party--what from christian love.
--Our prayers are heard--some Mussulman, at last
Forsakes his prophet--some Hindoo his caste ;
Accepts a Saviour, and avows the choice ;
How glad we are, how much our hearts rejoice !
The news is told and echoed, till the tale,
Howe'er reviving, almost waxes stale.
--A second convert Gospel grace allures--
Oh, but this time he was not ours but yours ;
It came to pass we know not when or how ;
Well, are we quite as glad and thankful now ?
Or can we scarce the rising wish suppress,
That we were honoured with the whole success ?
There is an eye that marks the ways of men,
With strict, impartial, analyzing ken :
Our motley creeds, our crude opinions, lie
All, all unveiled to that omniscient eye.
He sees the softest shades by error thrown ;
Marks where His truth is left to shine alone ;
Decides with most exact, unerring skill,
Wherein we differ from His word and will.
No specious names nor reasonings to His view,
The false can varnish, or deform the true ;
Nor vain excuses e'er avail, to plead
The right of theory for the wrong of deed.
Before that unembarrassed, just survey,
What heaps of refuse must be swept away ;
How must its search from every creed remove
All but the golden grains of truth and love !
Yet, with compassion for our feeble powers,
For oh ! His thoughts and ways are not as ours.
--There is a day, in flaming terrors bright,
When truth and error shall be brought to light.
Who then shall rise, amid the shining throng,
To boast that he was right, and you were wrong ?
When each rejoicing saint shall veil his face,
And none may triumph, but in glorious grace !
No meaner praise shall heavenly tongues employ :
Yet, they shall reap the more abundant joy,
Who sought His truth, with simple, humble aim
To do His will, and glorify His name.
Guilt and Sorrow
A traveller on the skirt of Sarum's Plain
Pursued his vagrant way, with feet half bare;
Stooping his gait, but not as if to gain
Help from the staff he bore; for mien and air
Were hardy, though his cheek seemed worn with care
Both of the time to come, and time long fled:
Down fell in straggling locks his thin grey hair;
A coat he wore of military red
But faded, and stuck o'er with many a patch and shred.
While thus he journeyed, step by step led on,
He saw and passed a stately inn, full sure
That welcome in such house for him was none.
No board inscribed the needy to allure
Hung there, no bush proclaimed to old and poor
And desolate, "Here you will find a friend!"
The pendent grapes glittered above the door;--
On he must pace, perchance 'till night descend,
Where'er the dreary roads their bare white lines extend.
The gathering clouds grow red with stormy fire,
In streaks diverging wide and mounting high;
That inn he long had passed; the distant spire,
Which oft as he looked back had fixed his eye,
Was lost, though still he looked, in the blank sky.
Perplexed and comfortless he gazed around,
And scarce could any trace of man descry,
Save cornfields stretched and stretching without bound;
But where the sower dwelt was nowhere to be found.
No tree was there, no meadow's pleasant green,
No brook to wet his lip or soothe his ear;
Long files of corn-stacks here and there were seen,
But not one dwelling-place his heart to cheer.
Some labourer, thought he, may perchance be near;
And so he sent a feeble shout--in vain;
No voice made answer, he could only hear
Winds rustling over plots of unripe grain,
Or whistling thro' thin grass along the unfurrowed plain.
Long had he fancied each successive slope
Concealed some cottage, whither he might turn
And rest; but now along heaven's darkening cope
The crows rushed by in eddies, homeward borne.
Thus warned he sought some shepherd's spreading thorn
Or hovel from the storm to shield his head,
But sought in vain; for now, all wild, forlorn,
And vacant, a huge waste around him spread;
The wet cold ground, he feared, must be his only bed.
And be it so--for to the chill night shower
And the sharp wind his head he oft hath bared;
A Sailor he, who many a wretched hour
Hath told; for, landing after labour hard,
Full long endured in hope of just reward,
He to an armed fleet was forced away
By seamen, who perhaps themselves had shared
Like fate; was hurried off, a helpless prey,
'Gainst all that in 'his' heart, or theirs perhaps, said nay.
For years the work of carnage did not cease,
And death's dire aspect daily he surveyed,
Death's minister; then came his glad release,
And hope returned, and pleasure fondly made
Her dwelling in his dreams. By Fancy's aid
The happy husband flies, his arms to throw
Round his wife's neck; the prize of victory laid
In her full lap, he sees such sweet tears flow
As if thenceforth nor pain nor trouble she could know.
Vain hope! for frand took all that he had earned.
The lion roars and gluts his tawny brood
Even in the desert's heart; but he, returned,
Bears not to those he loves their needful food.
His home approaching, but in such a mood
That from his sight his children might have run.
He met a traveller, robbed him, shed his blood;
And when the miserable work was done
He fled, a vagrant since, the murderer's fate to shun.
From that day forth no place to him could be
So lonely, but that thence might come a pang
Brought from without to inward misery.
Now, as he plodded on, with sullen clang
A sound of chains along the desert rang;
He looked, and saw upon a gibbet high
A human body that in irons swang,
Uplifted by the tempest whirling by;
And, hovering, round it often did a raven fly.
It was a spectacle which none might view,
In spot so savage, but with shuddering pain;
Nor only did for him at once renew
All he had feared from man, but roused a train
Of the mind's phantoms, horrible as vain.
The stones, as if to cover him from day,
Rolled at his back along the living plain;
He fell, and without sense or motion lay;
But, when the trance was gone, feebly pursued his way.
As one whose brain habitual phrensy fires
Owes to the fit in which his soul hath tossed
Profounder quiet, when the fit retires,
Even so the dire phantasma which had crossed
His sense, in sudden vacancy quite lost,
Left his mind still as a deep evening stream.
Nor, if accosted now, in thought engrossed,
Moody, or inly troubled, would he seem
To traveller who might talk of any casual theme.
Hurtle the clouds in deeper darkness piled,
Gone is the raven timely rest to seek;
He seemed the only creature in the wild
On whom the elements their rage might wreak;
Save that the bustard, of those regions bleak
Shy tenant, seeing by the uncertain light
A man there wandering, gave a mournful shriek,
And half upon the ground, with strange affright,
Forced hard against the wind a thick unwieldy flight.
All, all was cheerless to the horizon's bound;
The weary eye--which, wheresoe'er it strays,
Marks nothing but the red sun's setting round,
Or on the earth strange lines, in former days
Left by gigantic arms--at length surveys
What seems an antique castle spreading wide;
Hoary and naked are its walls, and raise
Their brow sublime: in shelter there to bide
He turned, while rain poured down smoking on every side.
Pile of Stone-henge! so proud to hint yet keep
Thy secrets, thou that lov'st to stand and hear
The Plain resounding to the whirlwind's sweep,
Inmate of lonesome Nature's endless year;
Even if thou saw'st the giant wicker rear
For sacrifice its throngs of living men,
Before thy face did ever wretch appear,
Who in his heart had groaned with deadlier pain
Than he who, tempest-driven, thy shelter now would gain.
Within that fabric of mysterious form,
Winds met in conflict, each by turns supreme;
And, from the perilous ground dislodged, through storm
And rain he wildered on, no moon to stream
From gulf of parting clouds one friendly beam,
Nor any friendly sound his footsteps led;
Once did the lightning's faint disastrous gleam
Disclose a naked guide-post's double head,
Sight which tho' lost at once a gleam of pleasure shed.
No swinging sign-board creaked from cottage elm
To stay his steps with faintness overcome;
'Twas dark and void as ocean's watery realm
Roaring with storms beneath night's starless gloom;
No gipsy cowered o'er fire of furze or broom;
No labourer watched his red kiln glaring bright,
Nor taper glimmered dim from sick man's room;
Along the waste no line of mournful light
From lamp of lonely toll-gate streamed athwart the night.
At length, though hid in clouds, the moon arose;
The downs were visible--and now revealed
A structure stands, which two bare slopes enclose.
It was a spot, where, ancient vows fulfilled,
Kind pious hands did to the Virgin build
A lonely Spital, the belated swain
From the night terrors of that waste to shield:
But there no human being could remain,
And now the walls are named the "Dead House" of the plain.
Though he had little cause to love the abode
Of man, or covet sight of mortal face,
Yet when faint beams of light that ruin showed,
How glad he was at length to find some trace
Of human shelter in that dreary place.
Till to his flock the early shepherd goes,
Here shall much-needed sleep his frame embrace.
In a dry nook where fern the floor bestrows
He lays his stiffened limbs,--his eyes begin to close;
When hearing a deep sigh, that seemed to come
From one who mourned in sleep, he raised his head,
And saw a woman in the naked room
Outstretched, and turning on a restless bed:
The moon a wan dead light around her shed.
He waked her--spake in tone that would not fail,
He hoped, to calm her mind; but ill he sped,
For of that ruin she had heard a tale
Which now with freezing thoughts did all her powers assail;
Had heard of one who, forced from storms to shroud,
Felt the loose walls of this decayed Retreat
Rock to incessant neighings shrill and loud,
While his horse pawed the floor with furious heat;
Till on a stone, that sparkled to his feet,
Struck, and still struck again, the troubled horse:
The man half raised the stone with pain and sweat,
Half raised, for well his arm might lose its force
Disclosing the grim head of a late murdered corse.
Such tale of this lone mansion she had learned
And, when that shape, with eyes in sleep half drowned,
By the moon's sullen lamp she first discerned,
Cold stony horror all her senses bound.
Her he addressed in words of cheering sound;
Recovering heart, like answer did she make;
And well it was that, of the corse there found,
In converse that ensued she nothing spake;
She knew not what dire pangs in him such tale could wake.
But soon his voice and words of kind intent
Banished that dismal thought; and now the wind
In fainter howlings told its 'rage' was spent:
Meanwhile discourse ensued of various kind,
Which by degrees a confidence of mind
And mutual interest failed not to create.
And, to a natural sympathy resigned,
In that forsaken building where they sate
The Woman thus retraced her own untoward fate.
"By Derwent's side my father dwelt--a man
Of virtuous life, by pious parents bred;
And I believe that, soon as I began
To lisp, he made me kneel beside my bed,
And in his hearing there my prayers I said:
And afterwards, by my good father taught,
I read, and loved the books in which I read;
For books in every neighbouring house I sought,
And nothing to my mind a sweeter pleasure brought.
"A little croft we owned--a plot of corn,
A garden stored with peas, and mint, and thyme,
And flowers for posies, oft on Sunday morn
Plucked while the church bells rang their earliest chime.
Can I forget our freaks at shearing time!
My hen's rich nest through long grass scarce espied;
The cowslip-gathering in June's dewy prime;
The swans that with white chests upreared in pride
Rushing and racing came to meet me at the water-side.
"The staff I well remember which upbore
The bending body of my active sire;
His seat beneath the honied sycamore
Where the bees hummed, and chair by winter fire;
When market-morning came, the neat attire
With which, though bent on haste, myself I decked;
Our watchful house-dog, that would tease and tire
The stranger till its barking-fit I checked;
The red-breast, known for years, which at my casement pecked.
"The suns of twenty summers danced along,--
Too little marked how fast they rolled away:
But, through severe mischance and cruel wrong,
My father's substance fell into decay:
We toiled and struggled, hoping for a day
When Fortune might put on a kinder look;
But vain were wishes, efforts vain as they;
He from his old hereditary nook
Must part; the summons came;--our final leave we took.
"It was indeed a miserable hour
When, from the last hill-top, my sire surveyed,
Peering above the trees, the steeple tower
That on his marriage day sweet music made!
Tilt then, he hoped his bones might there be laid
Close by my mother in their native bowers:
Bidding me trust in God, he stood and prayed;--
I could not pray:--through tears that fell in showers
Glimmered our dear-loved home, alas! no longer ours!
"There was a Youth whom I had loved so long,
That when I loved him not I cannot say:
'Mid the green mountains many a thoughtless song
We two had sung, like gladsome birds in May;
When we began to tire of childish play,
We seemed still more and more to prize each other;
We talked of marriage and our marriage day;
And I in truth did love him like a brother,
For never could I hope to meet with such another.
"Two years were passed since to a distant town
He had repaired to ply a gainful trade:
What tears of bitter grief, till then unknown!
What tender vows, our last sad kiss delayed!
To him we turned:--we had no other aid:
Like one revived, upon his neck I wept;
And her whom he had loved in joy, he said,
He well could love in grief; his faith he kept;
And in a quiet home once more my father slept.
"We lived in peace and comfort; and were blest
With daily bread, by constant toil supplied.
Three lovely babes had lain upon my breast;
And often, viewing their sweet smiles, I sighed,
And knew not why. My happy father died,
When threatened war reduced the children's meal:
Thrice happy! that for him the grave could hide
The empty loom, cold hearth, and silent wheel,
And tears that flowed for ills which patience might not heal.
"'Twas a hard change; an evil time was come;
We had no hope, and no relief could gain:
But soon, with proud parade, the noisy drum
Beat round to clear the streets of want and pain.
My husband's arms now only served to strain
Me and his children hungering in his view;
In such dismay my prayers and tears were vain:
To join those miserable men he flew,
And now to the sea-coast, with numbers more, we drew.
"There were we long neglected, and we bore
Much sorrow ere the fleet its anchor weighed;
Green fields before us, and our native shore,
We breathed a pestilential air, that made
Ravage for which no knell was heard. We prayed
For our departure; wished and wished--nor knew,
'Mid that long sickness and those hopes delayed,
That happier days we never more must view.
The parting signal streamed--at last the land withdrew.
"But the calm summer season now was past.
On as we drove, the equinoctial deep
Ran mountains high before the howling blast,
And many perished in the whirlwind's sweep.
We gazed with terror on their gloomy sleep,
Untaught that soon such anguish must ensue,
Our hopes such harvest of affliction reap,
That we the mercy of the waves should rue:
We reached the western world, a poor devoted crew.
"The pains and plagues that on our heads came down,
Disease and famine, agony and fear,
In wood or wilderness, in camp or town,
It would unman the firmest heart to hear.
All perished--all in one remorseless year,
Husband and children! one by one, by sword
And ravenous plague, all perished: every tear
Dried up, despairing, desolate, on board
A British ship I waked, as from a trance restored."
Here paused she of all present thought forlorn,
Nor voice nor sound, that moment's pain expressed,
Yet Nature, with excess of grief o'erborne,
From her full eyes their watery load released.
He too was mute; and, ere her weeping ceased,
He rose, and to the ruin's portal went,
And saw the dawn opening the silvery east
With rays of promise, north and southward sent;
And soon with crimson fire kindled the firmament.
"O come," he cried, "come, after weary night
Of such rough storm, this happy change to view."
So forth she came, and eastward looked; the sight
Over her brow like dawn of gladness threw;
Upon her cheek, to which its youthful hue
Seemed to return, dried the last lingering tear,
And from her grateful heart a fresh one drew:
The whilst her comrade to her pensive cheer
Tempered fit words of hope; and the lark warbled near.
They looked and saw a lengthening road, and wain
That rang down a bare slope not far remote:
The barrows glistered bright with drops of rain,
Whistled the waggoner with merry note,
The cock far off sounded his clarion throat;
But town, or farm, or hamlet, none they viewed,
Only were told there stood a lonely cot
A long mile thence. While thither they pursued
Their way, the Woman thus her mournful tale renewed.
"Peaceful as this immeasurable plain
Is now, by beams of dawning light imprest,
In the calm sunshine slept the glittering main;
The very ocean hath its hour of rest.
I too forgot the heavings of my breast.
How quiet 'round me ship and ocean were!
As quiet all within me. I was blest,
And looked, and fed upon the silent air
Until it seemed to bring a joy to my despair.
"Ah! how unlike those late terrific sleeps,
And groans that rage of racking famine spoke;
The unburied dead that lay in festering heaps,
The breathing pestilence that rose like smoke,
The shriek that from the distant battle broke,
The mine's dire earthquake, and the pallid host
Driven by the bomb's incessant thunderstroke
To loathsome vaults, where heart-sick anguish tossed,
Hope died, and fear itself in agony was lost!
"Some mighty gulf of separation past,
I seemed transported to another world;
A thought resigned with pain, when from the mast
The impatient mariner the sail unfurled,
And, whistling, called the wind that hardly curled
The silent sea. From the sweet thoughts of home
And from all hope I was for ever hurled.
For me--farthest from earthly port to roam
Was best, could I but shun the spot where man might come.
"And oft I thought (my fancy was so strong)
That I, at last, a resting-place had found;
'Here will I dwell,' said I, 'my whole life long,
Roaming the illimitable waters round;
Here will I live, of all but heaven disowned,
And end my days upon the peaceful flood.'--
To break my dream the vessel reached its bound;
And homeless near a thousand homes I stood,
And near a thousand tables pined and wanted food.
"No help I sought; in sorrow turned adrift,
Was hopeless, as if cast on some bare rock;
Nor morsel to my mouth that day did lift,
Nor raised my hand at any door to knock.
I lay where, with his drowsy mates, the cock
From the cross-timber of an out-house hung:
Dismally tolled, that night, the city clock!
At morn my sick heart hunger scarcely stung,
Nor to the beggar's language could I fit my tongue.
"So passed a second day; and, when the third
Was come, I tried in vain the crowd's resort.
--In deep despair, by frightful wishes stirred,
Near the sea-side I reached a ruined fort;
There, pains which nature could no more support,
With blindness linked, did on my vitals fall;
And, after many interruptions short
Of hideous sense, I sank, nor step could crawl:
Unsought for was the help that did my life recall.
"Borne to a hospital, I lay with brain
Drowsy and weak, and shattered memory;
I heard my neighbours in their beds complain
Of many things which never troubled me--
Of feet still bustling round with busy glee,
Of looks where common kindness had no part,
Of service done with cold formality,
Fretting the fever round the languid heart,
And groans which, as they said, might make a dead man start.
"These things just served to stir the slumbering sense,
Nor pain nor pity in my bosom raised.
With strength did memory return; and, thence
Dismissed, again on open day I gazed,
At houses, men, and common light, amazed.
The lanes I sought, and, as the sun retired,
Came where beneath the trees a faggot blazed,
The travellers saw me weep, my fate inquired,
And gave me food--and rest, more welcome, more desired.
"Rough potters seemed they, trading soberly
With panniered asses driven from door to door;
But life of happier sort set forth to me,
And other joys my fancy to allure--
The bag-pipe dinning on the midnight moor
In barn uplighted; and companions boon,
Well met from far with revelry secure
Among the forest glades, while jocund June
Rolled fast along the sky his warm and genial moon.
"But ill they suited me--those journeys dark
O'er moor and mountain, midnight theft to hatch!
To charm the surly house-dog's faithful bark,
Or hang on tip-toe at the lifted latch.
The gloomy lantern, and the dim blue match,
The black disguise, the warning whistle shrill,
And ear still busy on its nightly watch,
Were not for me, brought up in nothing ill:
Besides, on griefs so fresh my thoughts were brooding still.
"What could I do, unaided and unblest?
My father! gone was every friend of thine:
And kindred of dead husband are at best
Small help; and, after marriage such as mine,
With little kindness would to me incline.
Nor was I then for toil or service fit;
My deep-drawn sighs no effort could confine;
In open air forgetful would I sit
Whole hours, with idle arms in moping sorrow knit.
"The roads I paced, I loitered through the fields;
Contentedly, yet sometimes self-accused.
Trusted my life to what chance bounty yields,
Now coldly given, now utterly refused.
The ground I for my bed have often used:
But what afflicts my peace with keenest ruth,
Is that I have my inner self abused,
Foregone the home delight of constant truth,
And clear and open soul, so prized in fearless youth.
"Through tears the rising sun I oft have viewed,
Through tears have seen him towards that world descend
Where my poor heart lost all its fortitude:
Three years a wanderer now my course I bend--
Oh! tell me whither--for no earthly friend
Have I."--She ceased, and weeping turned away;
As if because her tale was at an end,
She wept; because she had no more to say
Of that perpetual weight which on her spirit lay.
True sympathy the Sailor's looks expressed,
His looks--for pondering he was mute the while.
Of social Order's care for wretchedness,
Of Time's sure help to calm and reconcile,
Joy's second spring and Hope's long-treasured smile,
'Twas not for 'him' to speak--a man so tried,
Yet, to relieve her heart, in friendly style
Proverbial words of comfort he applied,
And not in vain, while they went pacing side by side.
Ere long, from heaps of turf, before their sight,
Together smoking in the sun's slant beam,
Rise various wreaths that into one unite
Which high and higher mounts with silver gleam:
Fair spectacle,---but instantly a scream
Thence bursting shrill did all remark prevent;
They paused, and heard a hoarser voice blaspheme,
And female cries. Their course they thither bent,
And met a man who foamed with anger vehement,
A woman stood with quivering lips and pale,
And, pointing to a little child that lay
Stretched on the ground, began a piteous tale;
How in a simple freak of thoughtless play
He had provoked his father, who straightway,
As if each blow were deadlier than the last,
Struck the poor innocent. Pallid with dismay
The Soldier's Widow heard and stood aghast;
And stern looks on the man her grey-haired Comrade cast.
His voice with indignation rising high
Such further deed in manhood's name forbade;
The peasant, wild in passion, made reply
With bitter insult and revilings sad;
Asked him in scorn what business there he had;
What kind of plunder he was hunting now;
The gallows would one day of him be glad;--
Though inward anguish damped the Sailor's brow,
Yet calm he seemed as thoughts so poignant would allow.
Softly he stroked the child, who lay outstretched
With face to earth; and, as the boy turned round
His battered head, a groan the Sailor fetched
As if he saw--there and upon that ground--
Strange repetition of the deadly wound
He had himself inflicted. Through his brain
At once the griding iron passage found;
Deluge of tender thoughts then rushed amain,
Nor could his sunken eyes the starting tear restrain.
Within himself he said--What hearts have we!
The blessing this a father gives his child!
Yet happy thou, poor boy! compared with me,
Suffering not doing ill--fate far more mild.
The stranger's looks and tears of wrath beguiled
The father, and relenting thoughts awoke;
He kissed his son--so all was reconciled.
Then, with a voice which inward trouble broke
Ere to his lips it came, the Sailor them bespoke.
"Bad is the world, and hard is the world's law
Even for the man who wears the warmest fleece;
Much need have ye that time more closely draw
The bond of nature, all unkindness cease,
And that among so few there still be peace:
Else can ye hope but with such numerous foes
Your pains shall ever with your years increase?"--
While from his heart the appropriate lesson flows,
A correspondent calm stole gently o'er his woes.
Forthwith the pair passed on; and down they look
Into a narrow valley's pleasant scene
Where wreaths of vapour tracked a winding brook,
That babbled on through groves and meadows green;
A low-roofed house peeped out the trees between;
The dripping groves resound with cheerful lays,
And melancholy lowings intervene
Of scattered herds, that in the meadow graze,
Some amid lingering shade, some touched by the sun's rays.
They saw and heard, and, winding with the road,
Down a thick wood, they dropt into the vale;
Comfort, by prouder mansions unbestowed,
Their wearied frames, she hoped, would soon regale.
Erelong they reached that cottage in the dale:
It was a rustic inn;--the board was spread,
The milk-maid followed with her brimming pail,
And lustily the master carved the bread,
Kindly the housewife pressed, and they in comfort fed.
Their breakfast done, the pair, though loth, must part;
Wanderers whose course no longer now agrees.
She rose and bade farewell! and, while her heart
Struggled with tears nor could its sorrow ease,
She left him there; for, clustering round his knees,
With his oak-staff the cottage children played;
And soon she reached a spot o'erhung with trees
And banks of ragged earth; beneath the shade
Across the pebbly road a little runnel strayed.
A cart and horse beside the rivulet stood;
Chequering the canvas roof the sunbeams shone.
She saw the carman bend to scoop the flood
As the wain fronted her,--wherein lay one,
A pale-faced Woman, in disease far gone.
The carman wet her lips as well behoved;
Bed under her lean body there was none,
Though even to die near one she most had loved
She could not of herself those wasted limbs have moved.
The Soldier's Widow learned with honest pain
And homefelt force of sympathy sincere,
Why thus that worn-out wretch must there sustain
The jolting road and morning air severe.
The wain pursued its way; and following near
In pure compassion she her steps retraced
Far as the cottage. "A sad sight is here,"
She cried aloud; and forth ran out in haste
The friends whom she had left but a few minutes past.
While to the door with eager speed they ran,
From her bare straw the Woman half upraised
Her bony visage--gaunt and deadly wan;
No pity asking, on the group she gazed
With a dim eye, distracted and amazed;
Then sank upon her straw with feeble moan.
Fervently cried the housewife--"God be praised,
I have a house that I can call my own;
Nor shall she perish there, untended and alone!"
So in they bear her to the chimney seat,
And busily, though yet with fear, untie
Her garments, and, to warm her icy feet
And chafe her temples, careful hands apply.
Nature reviving, with a deep-drawn sigh
She strove, and not in vain, her head to rear;
Then said--"I thank you all; if I must die,
The God in heaven my prayers for you will hear;
Till now I did not think my end had been so near.
"Barred every comfort labour could procure,
Suffering what no endurance could assuage,
I was compelled to seek my father's door,
Though loth to be a burthen on his age.
But sickness stopped me in an early stage
Of my sad journey; and within the wain
They placed me--there to end life's pilgrimage,
Unless beneath your roof I may remain;
For I shall never see my father's door again.
"My life, Heaven knows, hath long been burthensome;
But, if I have not meekly suffered, meek
May my end be! Soon will this voice be dumb:
Should child of mine e'er wander hither, speak
Of me, say that the worm is on my cheek.--
Torn from our hut, that stood beside the sea
Near Portland lighthouse in a lonesome creek,
My husband served in sad captivity
On shipboard, bound till peace or death should set him free.
"A sailor's wife I knew a widow's cares,
Yet two sweet little ones partook my bed;
Hope cheered my dreams, and to my daily prayers
Our heavenly Father granted each day's bread;
Till one was found by stroke of violence dead,
Whose body near our cottage chanced to lie;
A dire suspicion drove us from our shed;
In vain to find a friendly face we try,
Nor could we live together those poor boys and I;
"For evil tongues made oath how on that day
My husband lurked about the neighbourhood;
Now he had fled, and whither none could say,
And 'he' had done the deed in the dark wood--
Near his own home!--but he was mild and good;
Never on earth was gentler creature seen;
He'd not have robbed the raven of its food.
My husband's lovingkindness stood between
Me and all worldly harms and wrongs however keen."
Alas! the thing she told with labouring breath
The Sailor knew too well. That wickedness
His hand had wrought; and when, in the hour of death,
He saw his Wife's lips move his name to bless
With her last words, unable to suppress
His anguish, with his heart he ceased to strive;
And, weeping loud in this extreme distress,
He cried--"Do pity me! That thou shouldst live
I neither ask nor wish--forgive me, but forgive!"
To tell the change that Voice within her wrought
Nature by sign or sound made no essay;
A sudden joy surprised expiring thought,
And every mortal pang dissolved away.
Borne gently to a bed, in death she lay;
Yet still while over her the husband bent,
A look was in her face which seemed to say,
"Be blest; by sight of thee from heaven was sent
Peace to my parting soul, the fulness of content."
'She' slept in peace,--his pulses throbbed and stopped,
Breathless he gazed upon her face,--then took
Her hand in his, and raised it, but both dropped,
When on his own he cast a rueful look.
His ears were never silent; sleep forsook
His burning eyelids stretched and stiff as lead;
All night from time to time under him shook
The floor as he lay shuddering on his bed;
And oft he groaned aloud, "O God, that I were dead!"
The Soldier's Widow lingered in the cot,
And, when he rose, he thanked her pious care
Through which his Wife, to that kind shelter brought,
Died in his arms; and with those thanks a prayer
He breathed for her, and for that merciful pair.
The corse interred, not one hour heremained
Beneath their roof, but to the open air
A burthen, now with fortitude sustained,
He bore within a breast where dreadful quiet reigned.
Confirmed of purpose, fearlessly prepared
For act and suffering, to the city straight
He journeyed, and forthwith his crime declared:
"And from your doom," he added, "now I wait,
Nor let it linger long, the murderer's fate."
Not ineffectual was that piteous claim:
"O welcome sentence which will end though late,"
He said, "the pangs that to my conscience came
Out of that deed. My trust, Saviour! is in thy name!"
His fate was pitied. Him in iron case
(Reader, forgive the intolerable thought)
They hung not:--no one on 'his' form or face
Could gaze, as on a show by idlers sought;
No kindred sufferer, to his death-place brought
By lawless curiosity or chance,
When into storm the evening sky is wrought,
Upon his swinging corse an eye can glance,
And drop, as he once dropped, in miserable trance.
The Golden Legend: II. A Farm In The Odenwald
A garden; morning;_ PRINCE HENRY _seated, with a
book_. ELSIE, _at a distance, gathering flowers._
_Prince Henry (reading)._ One morning, all alone,
Out of his convent of gray stone,
Into the forest older, darker, grayer,
His lips moving as if in prayer,
His head sunken upon his breast
As in a dream of rest,
Walked the Monk Felix. All about
The broad, sweet sunshine lay without,
Filling the summer air;
And within the woodlands as he trod,
The twilight was like the Truce of God
With worldly woe and care;
Under him lay the golden moss;
And above him the boughs of hemlock-tree
Waved, and made the sign of the cross,
And whispered their Benedicites;
And from the ground
Rose an odor sweet and fragrant
Of the wild flowers and the vagrant
Vines that wandered,
Seeking the sunshine, round and round.
These he heeded not, but pondered
On the volume in his hand,
A volume of Saint Augustine;
Wherein he read of the unseen
Splendors of God's great town
In the unknown land,
And, with his eyes cast down
In humility, he said:
'I believe, O God,
What herein I have read,
But alas! I do not understand!'
And lo! he heard
The sudden singing of a bird,
A snow-white bird, that from a cloud
And among the branches brown
So sweet, and clear, and loud,
It seemed a thousand harp strings ringing.
And the Monk Felix closed his book,
And long, long,
With rapturous look,
He listened to the song,
And hardly breathed or stirred,
Until he saw, as in a vision,
The land Elysian,
And in the heavenly city heard
Fall on the golden flagging of the street.
And he would fain
Have caught the wondrous bird,
But strove in vain;
For it flew away, away,
Far over hill and dell,
And instead of its sweet singing
He heard the convent bell
Suddenly in the silence ringing
For the service of noonday.
And he retraced
His pathway homeward sadly and in haste.
In the convent there was a change!
He looked for each well known face,
But the faces were new and strange;
New figures sat in the oaken stalls,
New voices chaunted in the choir,
Yet the place was the same place,
The same dusky walls
Of cold, gray stone,
The same cloisters and belfry and spire.
A stranger and alone
Among that brotherhood
The Monk Felix stood
'Forty years,' said a Friar.
'Have I been Prior
Of this convent in the wood,
But for that space
Never have I beheld thy face!'
The heart of the Monk Felix fell:
And he answered with submissive tone,
'This morning, after the hour of Prime,
I left my cell,
And wandered forth alone,
Listening all the time
To the melodious singing
Of a beautiful white bird,
Until I heard
The bells of the convent ringing
Noon from their noisy towers,
It was as if I dreamed;
For what to me had seemed
Moments only, had been hours!'
'Years!' said a voice close by.
It was an aged monk who spoke,
From a bench of oak
Fastened against the wall;--
He was the oldest monk of all.
For a whole century
Had he been there,
Serving God in prayer,
The meekest and humblest of his creatures.
He remembered well the features
Of Felix, and he said,
Speaking distinct and slow:
'One hundred years ago,
When I was a novice in this place,
There was here a monk, full of God's grace,
Who bore the name
Of Felix, and this man must be the same.'
They brought forth to the light of day
A volume old and brown,
A huge tome, bound
With brass and wild-boar's hide,
Therein were written down
The names of all who had died
In the convent, since it was edified.
And there they found,
Just as the old monk said,
That on a certain day and date,
One hundred years before,
Had gone forth from the convent gate
The Monk Felix, and never more
Had entered that sacred door.
He had been counted among the dead!
And they knew, at last,
That, such had been the power
Of that celestial and immortal song,
A hundred years had passed,
And had not seemed so long
As a single hour!
(ELSIE _comes in with flowers._)
_Elsie._ Here are flowers for you,
But they are not all for you.
Some of them are for the Virgin
And for Saint Cecilia.
_Prince Henry._ As thou standest there,
Thou seemest to me like the angel
That brought the immortal roses
To Saint Cecilia's bridal chamber.
_Elsie._ But these will fade.
_Prince Henry._ Themselves will fade,
But not their memory,
And memory has the power
To re-create them from the dust.
They remind me, too,
Of martyred Dorothea,
Who from celestial gardens sent
Flowers as her witnesses
To him who scoffed and doubted.
_Elsie._ Do you know the story
Of Christ and the Sultan's daughter?
That is the prettiest legend of them all.
_Prince Henry._ Then tell it to me.
But first come hither.
Lay the flowers down beside me.
And put both thy hands in mine.
Now tell me the story.
_Elsie._ Early in the morning
The Sultan's daughter
Walked in her father's garden,
Gathering the bright flowers,
All full of dew.
_Prince Henry._ Just as thou hast been doing
This morning, dearest Elsie.
_Elsie._ And as she gathered them,
She wondered more and more
Who was the Master of the Flowers,
And made them grow
Out of the cold, dark earth.
'In my heart,' she said,
'I love him; and for him
Would leave my father's palace,
To labor in his garden.'
_Prince Henry._ Dear, innocent child!
How sweetly thou recallest
The long-forgotten legend,
That in my early childhood
My mother told me!
Upon my brain
It reappears once more,
As a birth-mark on the forehead
When a hand suddenly
Is laid upon it, and removed!
_Elsie._ And at midnight,
As she lay upon her bed,
She heard a voice
Call to her from the garden,
And, looking forth from her window,
She saw a beautiful youth
Standing among the flowers.
It was the Lord Jesus;
And she went down to him,
And opened the door for him;
And he said to her, 'O maiden!
Thou hast thought of me with love,
And for thy sake
Out of my Father's kingdom
Have I come hither:
I am the Master of the Flowers.
My garden is in Paradise,
And if thou wilt go with me,
Thy bridal garland
Shall be of bright red flowers.'
And then he took from his finger
A golden ring,
And asked the Sultan's daughter
If she would be his bride.
And when she answered him with love,
His wounds began to bleed,
And she said to him,
'O Love! how red thy heart is,
And thy hands are full of roses,'
'For thy sake,' answered he,
'For thy sake is my heart so red,
For thee I bring these roses.
I gathered them at the cross
Whereon I died for thee!
Come, for my Father calls.
Thou art my elected bride!'
And the Sultan's daughter
Followed him to his Father's garden.
_Prince Henry._ Wouldst thou have done so, Elsie?
_Elsie._ Yes, very gladly.
_Prince Henry._ Then the Celestial Bridegroom
Will come for thee also.
Upon thy forehead he will place,
Not his crown of thorns,
But a crown of roses.
In thy bridal chamber,
Like Saint Cecilia,
Thou shall hear sweet music,
And breathe the fragrance
Of flowers immortal!
Go now and place these flowers
Before her picture.
* * * * *
A ROOM IN THE FARM-HOUSE.
* * * * *
_Twilight._ URSULA _spinning._ GOTTLIEB _asleep in his
_Ursula._ Darker and darker! Hardly a glimmer
Of light comes in at the window-pane;
Or is it my eyes are growing dimmer?
I cannot disentangle this skein,
Nor wind it rightly upon the reel.
_Gottlieb (starting)_. The stopping of thy wheel
Has wakened me out of a pleasant dream.
I thought I was sitting beside a stream,
And heard the grinding of a mill,
When suddenly the wheels stood still,
And a voice cried 'Elsie' in my ear!
It startled me, it seemed so near.
_Ursula._ I was calling her: I want a light.
I cannot see to spin my flax.
Bring the lamp, Elsie. Dost thou hear?
_Elsie (within)._ In a moment!
_Gottlieb._ Where are Bertha and Max?
_Ursula._ They are sitting with Elsie at the door.
She is telling them stories of the wood,
And the Wolf, and Little Red Ridinghood.
_Gottlieb_. And where is the Prince?
_Ursula_. In his room overhead;
I heard him walking across the floor,
As he always does, with a heavy tread.
(ELSIE _comes in with a lamp_. MAX _and_ BERTHA _follow her;
and they all sing the Evening Song on the lighting of the lamps_.)
O gladsome light
Of the Father Immortal,
And of the celestial
Sacred and blessed
Jesus, our Saviour!
Now to the sunset
Again hast thou brought us;
And, seeing the evening
Twilight, we bless thee,
Praise thee, adore thee!
Son, the Life-giver!
Spirit, the Comforter!
Worthy at all times
Of worship and wonder!
_Prince Henry (at the door)_. Amen!
_Ursula_. Who was it said Amen?
_Elsie_. It was the Prince: he stood at the door,
And listened a moment, as we chaunted
The evening song. He is gone again.
I have often seen him there before.
_Ursula_. Poor Prince!
_Gottlieb_. I thought the house was haunted!
Poor Prince, alas! and yet as mild
And patient as the gentlest child!
_Max._ I love him because he is so good,
And makes me such fine bows and arrows,
To shoot at the robins and the sparrows,
And the red squirrels in the wood!
_Bertha._ I love him, too!
_Gottlieb._ Ah, yes! we all
Love him, from the bottom of our hearts;
He gave us the farm, the house, and the grange,
He gave us the horses and the carts,
And the great oxen in the stall,
The vineyard, and the forest range!
We have nothing to give him but our love!
_Bertha._ Did he give us the beautiful stork above
On the chimney-top, with its large, round nest?
_Gottlieb._ No, not the stork; by God in heaven,
As a blessing, the dear, white stork was given;
But the Prince has given us all the rest.
God bless him, and make him well again.
_Elsie._ Would I could do something for his sake,
Something to cure his sorrow and pain!
_Gottlieb._ That no one can; neither thou nor I,
Nor any one else.
_Elsie._ And must he die?
_Ursula._ Yes; if the dear God does not take
Pity upon him, in his distress,
And work a miracle!
_Gottlieb._ Or unless
Some maiden, of her own accord,
Offers her life for that of her lord,
And is willing to die in his stead.
_Elsie._ I will!
_Ursula._ Prithee, thou foolish child, be still!
Thou shouldst not say what thou dost not mean!
_Elsie._ I mean it truly!
_Max._ O father! this morning,
Down by the mill, in the ravine,
Hans killed a wolf, the very same
That in the night to the sheepfold came,
And ate up my lamb, that was left outside.
_Gottlieb._ I am glad he is dead. It will be a warning
To the wolves in the forest, far and wide.
_Max._ And I am going to have his hide!
_Bertha._ I wonder if this is the wolf that ate
Little Red Ridinghood!
_Ursula._ O, no!
That wolf was killed a long while ago.
Come, children, it is growing late.
_Max._ Ah, how I wish I were a man,
As stout as Hans is, and as strong!
I would do nothing else, the whole day long,
But just kill wolves.
_Gottlieb._ Then go to bed,
And grow as fast as a little boy can.
Bertha is half asleep already.
See how she nods her heavy head,
And her sleepy feet are so unsteady
She will hardly be able to creep upstairs.
_Ursula._ Good-night, my children. Here's the light.
And do not forget to say your prayers
Before you sleep.
_Max and Bertha._ Good-night!
(_They go out with_ ELSIE.)
_Ursula, (spinning)._ She is a strange and wayward child,
That Elsie of ours. She looks so old,
And thoughts and fancies weird and wild
Seem of late to have taken hold
Of her heart, that was once so docile and mild!
_Gottlieb._ She is like all girls.
_Ursula._ Ah no, forsooth!
Unlike all I have ever seen.
For she has visions and strange dreams,
And in all her words and ways, she seems
Much older than she is in truth.
Who would think her but fourteen?
And there has been of late such a change!
My heart is heavy with fear and doubt
That she may not live till the year is out.
She is so strange,--so strange,--so strange!
_Gottlieb._ I am not troubled with any such fear!
She will live and thrive for many a year.
* * * * *
* * * * *
_Night._ ELSIE _praying._
_Elsie._ My Redeemer and my Lord,
I beseech thee, I entreat thee,
Guide me in each act and word,
That hereafter I may meet thee,
Watching, waiting, hoping, yearning,
With my lamp well trimmed and burning!
With these bleeding
Wounds upon thy hands and side,
For all who have lived and erred
Thou hast suffered, thou hast died,
Scourged, and mocked, and crucified,
And in the grave hast thou been buried!
If my feeble prayer can reach thee,
O my Saviour, I beseech thee,
Even as thou hast died for me,
Let me follow where thou leadest,
Let me, bleeding as thou bleedest,
Die, if dying I may give
Life to one who asks to live,
And more nearly,
Dying thus, resemble thee!
* * * * *
THE CHAMBER OF GOTTLIEB AND URSULA.
* * * * *
_Midnight._ ELSIE _standing by their bedside, weeping._
_Gottlieb._ The wind is roaring; the rushing rain
Is loud upon roof and window-pane,
As if the Wild Huntsman of Rodenstein,
Boding evil to me and mine,
Were abroad to-night with his ghostly train!
In the brief lulls of the tempest wild,
The dogs howl in the yard; and hark!
Some one is sobbing in the dark,
Here in the chamber!
_Elsie._ It is I.
_Ursula._ Elsie! what ails thee, my poor child?
_Elsie._ I am disturbed and much distressed,
In thinking our dear Prince must die,
I cannot close mine eyes, nor rest.
_Gottlieb._ What wouldst thou? In the Power Divine
His healing lies, not in our own;
It is in the hand of God alone.
_Elsie._ Nay, he has put it into mine,
And into my heart!
_Gottlieb._ Thy words are wild!
_Ursula._ What dost thou mean? my child! my child!
_Elsie._ That for our dear Prince Henry's sake
I will myself the offering make,
And give my life to purchase his.
_Ursula_ Am I still dreaming, or awake?
Thou speakest carelessly of death,
And yet thou knowest not what it is.
_Elsie._ 'T is the cessation of our breath.
Silent and motionless we lie;
And no one knoweth more than this.
I saw our little Gertrude die,
She left off breathing, and no more
I smoothed the pillow beneath her head.
She was more beautiful than before.
Like violets faded were her eyes;
By this we knew that she was dead.
Through the open window looked the skies
Into the chamber where she lay,
And the wind was like the sound of wings,
As if angels came to bear her away.
Ah! when I saw and felt these things,
I found it difficult to stay;
I longed to die, as she had died,
And go forth with her, side by side.
The Saints are dead, the Martyrs dead,
And Mary, and our Lord, and I
Would follow in humility
The way by them illumined!
_Ursula._ My child! my child! thou must not die!
_Elsie_ Why should I live? Do I not know
The life of woman is full of woe?
Toiling on and on and on,
With breaking heart, and tearful eyes,
And silent lips, and in the soul
The secret longings that arise,
Which this world never satisfies!
Some more, some less, but of the whole
Not one quite happy, no, not one!
_Ursula._ It is the malediction of Eve!
_Elsie._ In place of it, let me receive
The benediction of Mary, then.
_Gottlieb._ Ah, woe is me! Ah, woe is me!
Most wretched am I among men!
_Ursula._ Alas! that I should live to see
Thy death, beloved, and to stand
Above thy grave! Ah, woe the day!
_Elsie._ Thou wilt not see it. I shall lie
Beneath the flowers of another land,
For at Salerno, far away
Over the mountains, over the sea,
It is appointed me to die!
And it will seem no more to thee
Than if at the village on market-day
I should a little longer stay
Than I am used.
_Ursula._ Even as thou sayest!
And how my heart beats, when thou stayest!
I cannot rest until my sight
Is satisfied with seeing thee.
What, then, if thou wert dead?
_Gottlieb_ Ah me!
Of our old eyes thou art the light!
The joy of our old hearts art thou!
And wilt thou die?
_Ursula._ Not now! not now!
_Elsie_ Christ died for me, and shall not I
Be willing for my Prince to die?
You both are silent; you cannot speak.
This said I, at our Saviour's feast,
After confession, to the priest,
And even he made no reply.
Does he not warn us all to seek
The happier, better land on high,
Where flowers immortal never wither,
And could he forbid me to go thither?
_Gottlieb._ In God's own time, my heart's delight!
When he shall call thee, not before!
_Elsie._ I heard him call. When Christ ascended
Triumphantly, from star to star,
He left the gates of heaven ajar.
I had a vision in the night,
And saw him standing at the door
Of his Father's mansion, vast and splendid,
And beckoning to me from afar.
I cannot stay!
_Gottlieb._ She speaks almost
As if it were the Holy Ghost
Spake through her lips, and in her stead!
What if this were of God?
_Ursula._ Ah, then
Gainsay it dare we not.
Elsie! the words that thou hast said
Are strange and new for us to hear,
And fill our hearts with doubt and fear.
Whether it be a dark temptation
Of the Evil One, or God's inspiration,
We in our blindness cannot say.
We must think upon it, and pray;
For evil and good in both resembles.
If it be of God, his will be done!
May he guard us from the Evil One!
How hot thy hand is! how it trembles!
Go to thy bed, and try to sleep.
_Ursula._ Kiss me. Good-night; and do not weep!
(ELSIE _goes out._)
Ah, what an awful thing is this!
I almost shuddered at her kiss.
As if a ghost had touched my cheek,
I am so childish and so weak!
As soon as I see the earliest gray
Of morning glimmer in the east,
I will go over to the priest,
And hear what the good man has to say!
* * * * *
A VILLAGE CHURCH.
* * * * *
_A woman kneeling at the confessional.
The Parish Priest (from within)_. Go, sin no
more! Thy penance o'er,
A new and better life begin!
God maketh thee forever free
From the dominion of thy sin!
Go, sin no more! He will restore
The peace that filled thy heart before,
And pardon thine iniquity!
(_The woman goes out. The Priest comes forth, and
walks slowly up and down the church_.)
O blessed Lord! how much I need
Thy light to guide me on my way!
So many hands, that, without heed,
Still touch thy wounds, and make them bleed!
So many feet, that, day by day,
Still wander from thy fold astray!
Unless thou fill me with thy light,
I cannot lead thy flock aright;
Nor, without thy support, can bear
The burden of so great a care,
But am myself a castaway!
The day is drawing to its close;
And what good deeds, since first it rose,
Have I presented, Lord, to thee,
As offerings of my ministry?
What wrong repressed, what right maintained
What struggle passed, what victory gained,
What good attempted and attained?
Feeble, at best, is my endeavor!
I see, but cannot reach, the height
That lies forever in the light,
And yet forever and forever,
When seeming just within my grasp,
I feel my feeble hands unclasp,
And sink discouraged into night!
For thine own purpose, thou hast sent
The strife and the discouragement!
Why stayest thou, Prince of Hoheneck?
Why keep me pacing to and fro
Amid these aisles of sacred gloom,
Counting my footsteps as I go,
And marking with each step a tomb?
Why should the world for thee make room,
And wait thy leisure and thy beck?
Thou comest in the hope to hear
Some word of comfort and of cheer.
What can I say? I cannot give
The counsel to do this and live;
But rather, firmly to deny
The tempter, though his power is strong,
And, inaccessible to wrong,
Still like a martyr live and die!
The evening air grows dusk and brown;
I must go forth into the town,
To visit beds of pain and death,
Of restless limbs, and quivering breath,
And sorrowing hearts, and patient eyes
That see, through tears, the sun go down,
But never more shall see it rise.
The poor in body and estate,
The sick and the disconsolate.
Must not on man's convenience wait.
(_Goes out. Enter_ LUCIFER, _as a Priest_. LUCIFER,
_with a genuflexion, mocking_.)
This is the Black Pater-noster.
God was my foster,
He fostered me
Under the book of the Palm-tree!
St. Michael was my dame.
He was born at Bethlehem,
He was made of flesh and blood.
God send me my right food,
My right food, and shelter too,
That I may to yon kirk go,
To read upon yon sweet book
Which the mighty God of heaven shook.
Open, open, hell's gates!
Shut, shut, heaven's gates!
All the devils in the air
The stronger be, that hear the Black Prayer!
(_Looking round the church_.)
What a darksome and dismal place!
I wonder that any man has the face
To call such a hole the House of the Lord,
And the Gate of Heaven,--yet such is the word.
Ceiling, and walls, and windows old,
Covered with cobwebs, blackened with mould;
Dust on the pulpit, dust on the stairs,
Dust on the benches, and stalls, and chairs!
The pulpit, from which such ponderous sermons
Have fallen down on the brains of the Germans,
With about as much real edification
As if a great Bible, bound in lead,
Had fallen, and struck them on the head;
And I ought to remember that sensation!
Here stands the holy water stoup!
Holy-water it may be to many,
But to me, the veriest Liquor Gehennae!
It smells like a filthy fast day soup!
Near it stands the box for the poor;
With its iron padlock, safe and sure,
I and the priest of the parish know
Whither all these charities go;
Therefore, to keep up the institution,
I will add my little contribution!
(_He puts in money._)
Underneath this mouldering tomb,
With statue of stone, and scutcheon of brass,
Slumbers a great lord of the village.
All his life was riot and pillage,
But at length, to escape the threatened doom
Of the everlasting, penal fire,
He died in the dress of a mendicant friar,
And bartered his wealth for a daily mass.
But all that afterward came to pass,
And whether he finds it dull or pleasant,
Is kept a secret for the present,
At his own particular desire.
And here, in a corner of the wall,
Shadowy, silent, apart from all,
With its awful portal open wide,
And its latticed windows on either side,
And its step well worn by the bended knees
Of one or two pious centuries,
Stands the village confessional!
Within it, as an honored guest,
I will sit me down awhile and rest!
(_Seats himself in the confessional_.)
Here sits the priest, and faint and low,
Like the sighing of an evening breeze,
Comes through these painted lattices
The ceaseless sound of human woe,
Here, while her bosom aches and throbs
With deep and agonizing sobs,
That half are passion, half contrition,
The luckless daughter of perdition
Slowly confesses her secret shame!
The time, the place, the lover's name!
Here the grim murderer, with a groan,
From his bruised conscience rolls the stone,
Thinking that thus he can atone
For ravages of sword and flame!
Indeed, I marvel, and marvel greatly,
How a priest can sit here so sedately,
Reading, the whole year out and in,
Naught but the catalogue of sin,
And still keep any faith whatever
In human virtue! Never! never!
I cannot repeat a thousandth part
Of the horrors and crimes and sins and woes
That arise, when with palpitating throes
The graveyard in the human heart
Gives up its dead, at the voice of the priest,
As if he were an archangel, at least.
It makes a peculiar atmosphere,
This odor of earthly passions and crimes,
Such as I like to breathe, at times,
And such as often brings me here
In the hottest and most pestilential season.
To-day, I come for another reason;
To foster and ripen an evil thought
In a heart that is almost to madness wrought,
And to make a murderer out of a prince,
A sleight of hand I learned long since!
He comes In the twilight he will not see
the difference between his priest and me!
In the same net was the mother caught!
(_Prince Henry entering and kneeling at the confessional._)
Remorseful, penitent, and lowly,
I come to crave, O Father holy,
Thy benediction on my head.
_Lucifer_. The benediction shall be said
After confession, not before!
'T is a God speed to the parting guest,
Who stands already at the door,
Sandalled with holiness, and dressed
In garments pure from earthly stain.
Meanwhile, hast thou searched well thy breast?
Does the same madness fill thy brain?
Or have thy passion and unrest
Vanished forever from thy mind?
_Prince Henry_. By the same madness still made blind,
By the same passion still possessed,
I come again to the house of prayer,
A man afflicted and distressed!
As in a cloudy atmosphere,
Through unseen sluices of the air,
A sudden and impetuous wind
Strikes the great forest white with fear,
And every branch, and bough, and spray
Points all its quivering leaves one way,
And meadows of grass, and fields of grain,
And the clouds above, and the slanting rain,
And smoke from chimneys of the town,
Yield themselves to it, and bow down,
So does this dreadful purpose press
Onward, with irresistible stress,
And all my thoughts and faculties,
Struck level by the strength of this,
From their true inclination turn,
And all stream forward to Salem!
_Lucifer_. Alas! we are but eddies of dust,
Uplifted by the blast, and whirled
Along the highway of the world
A moment only, then to fall
Back to a common level all,
At the subsiding of the gust!
_Prince Henry_. O holy Father! pardon in me
The oscillation of a mind
Unsteadfast, and that cannot find
Its centre of rest and harmony!
For evermore before mine eyes
This ghastly phantom flits and flies,
And as a madman through a crowd,
With frantic gestures and wild cries,
It hurries onward, and aloud
Repeats its awful prophecies!
Weakness is wretchedness! To be strong
Is to be happy! I am weak,
And cannot find the good I seek,
Because I feel and fear the wrong!
_Lucifer_. Be not alarmed! The Church is kind--
And in her mercy and her meekness
She meets half-way her children's weakness,
Writes their transgressions in the dust!
Though in the Decalogue we find
The mandate written, 'Thou shalt not kill!'
Yet there are cases when we must.
In war, for instance, or from scathe
To guard and keep the one true Faith!
We must look at the Decalogue in the light
Of an ancient statute, that was meant
For a mild and general application,
To be understood with the reservation,
That, in certain instances, the Right
Must yield to the Expedient!
Thou art a Prince. If thou shouldst die,
What hearts and hopes would prostrate he!
What noble deeds, what fair renown,
Into the grave with thee go down!
What acts of valor and courtesy
Remain undone, and die with thee!
Thou art the last of all thy race!
With thee a noble name expires,
And vanishes from the earth's face
The glorious memory of thy sires!
She is a peasant. In her veins
Flows common and plebeian blood;
It is such as daily and hourly stains
The dust and the turf of battle plains,
By vassals shed, in a crimson flood,
Without reserve, and without reward,
At the slightest summons of their lord!
But thine is precious, the fore-appointed
Blood of kings, of God's anointed!
Moreover, what has the world in store
For one like her, but tears and toil?
Daughter of sorrow, serf of the soil,
A peasant's child and a peasant's wife,
And her soul within her sick and sore
With the roughness and barrenness of life!
I marvel not at the heart's recoil
From a fate like this, in one so tender,
Nor at its eagerness to surrender
All the wretchedness, want, and woe
That await it in this world below,
For the unutterable splendor
Of the world of rest beyond the skies.
So the Church sanctions the sacrifice:
Therefore inhale this healing balm,
And breathe this fresh life into thine;
Accept the comfort and the calm
She offers, as a gift divine,
Let her fall down and anoint thy feet
With the ointment costly and most sweet
Of her young blood, and thou shall live.
_Prince Henry._ And will the righteous Heaven forgive?
No action, whether foul or fair,
Is ever done, but it leaves somewhere
A record, written by fingers ghostly,
As a blessing or a curse, and mostly
In the greater weakness or greater strength
Of the acts which follow it, till at length
The wrongs of ages are redressed,
And the justice of God made manifest!
_Lucifer_ In ancient records it is stated
That, whenever an evil deed is done,
Another devil is created
To scourge and torment the offending one!
But evil is only good perverted,
And Lucifer, the Bearer of Light,
But an angel fallen and deserted,
Thrust from his Father's house with a curse
Into the black and endless night.
_Prince Henry._ If justice rules the universe,
From the good actions of good men
Angels of light should be begotten,
And thus the balance restored again.
_Lucifer._ Yes; if the world were not so rotten,
And so given over to the Devil!
_Prince Henry._ But this deed, is it good or evil?
Have I thine absolution free
To do it, and without restriction?
_Lucifer._ Ay; and from whatsoever sin
Lieth around it and within,
From all crimes in which it may involve thee,
I now release thee and absolve thee!
_Prince Henry._ Give me thy holy benediction.
_Lucifer._ (_stretching forth his hand and muttering_),
_The Angel_ (_with the aeolian harp_). Take heed! take heed!
Noble art thou in thy birth,
By the good and the great of earth
Hast thou been taught!
Be noble in every thought
And in every deed!
Let not the illusion of thy senses
Betray thee to deadly offences.
Be strong! be good! be pure!
The right only shall endure,
All things else are but false pretences!
I entreat thee, I implore,
Listen no more
To the suggestions of an evil spirit,
That even now is there,
Making the foul seem fair,
And selfishness itself a virtue and a merit!
* * * * *
A ROOM IN THE FARM-HOUSE.
* * * * *
_Gottlieb_. It is decided! For many days,
And nights as many, we have had
A nameless terror in our breast,
Making us timid, and afraid
Of God, and his mysterious ways!
We have been sorrowful and sad;
Much have we suffered, much have prayed
That he would lead us as is best,
And show us what his will required.
It is decided; and we give
Our child, O Prince, that you may live!
_Ursula_. It is of God. He has inspired
This purpose in her; and through pain,
Out of a world of sin and woe,
He takes her to himself again.
The mother's heart resists no longer;
With the Angel of the Lord in vain
It wrestled, for he was the stronger.
_Gottlieb_. As Abraham offered long ago
His son unto the Lord, and even
The Everlasting Father in heaven
Gave his, as a lamb unto the slaughter,
So do I offer up my daughter!
(URSULA _hides her face_.)
_Elsie_. My life is little,
Only a cup of water,
But pure and limpid.
Take it, O my Prince!
Let it refresh you,
Let it restore you.
It is given willingly,
It is given freely;
May God bless the gift!
_Prince Henry._ And the giver!
_Prince Henry._ I accept it!
_Gottlieb._ Where are the children?
_Ursula._ They are already asleep.
_Gottlieb._ What if they were dead?
* * * * *
IN THE GARDEN.
* * * * *
_Elsie._ I have one thing to ask of you.
_Prince Henry._ What is it?
It is already granted.
_Elsie._ Promise me,
When we are gone from here, and on our way
Are journeying to Salerno, you will not,
By word or deed, endeavor to dissuade me
And turn me from my purpose, but remember
That as a pilgrim to the Holy City
Walks unmolested, and with thoughts of pardon
Occupied wholly, so would I approach
The gates of Heaven, in this great jubilee,
With my petition, putting off from me
All thoughts of earth, as shoes from off my feet.
Promise me this.
_Prince Henry._ Thy words fall from thy lips
Like roses from the lips of Angelo: and angels
Might stoop to pick them up!
_Elsie._ Will you not promise?
_Prince Henry._ If ever we depart upon this journey,
So long to one or both of us, I promise.
_Elsie._ Shall we not go, then? Have you lifted me
Into the air, only to hurl me back
Wounded upon the ground? and offered me
The waters of eternal life, to bid me
Drink the polluted puddles of this world?
_Prince Henry._ O Elsie! what a lesson thou dost teach me!
The life which is, and that which is to come,
Suspended hang in such nice equipoise
A breath disturbs the balance; and that scale
In which we throw our hearts preponderates,
And the other, like an empty one, flies up,
And is accounted vanity and air!
To me the thought of death is terrible,
Having such hold on life. To thee it is not
So much even as the lifting of a latch;
Only a step into the open air
Out of a tent already luminous
With light that shines through its transparent walls!
O pure in heart! from thy sweet dust shall grow
Lilies, upon whose petals will be written
'Ave Maria' in characters of gold!
The Moat House
UNDER the shade of convent towers,
Where fast and vigil mark the hours,
From childhood into youth there grew
A maid as fresh as April dew,
And sweet as May's ideal flowers,
Brighter than dawn in wind-swept skies,
Like children's dreams most pure, unwise,
Yet with a slumbering soul-fire too,
That sometimes shone a moment through
Her wondrous unawakened eyes.
The nuns, who loved her coldly, meant
The twig should grow as it was bent;
That she, like them, should watch youth's bier,
Should watch her day-dreams disappear,
And go the loveless way they went.
The convent walls were high and grey;
How could Love hope to find a way
Into that citadel forlorn,
Where his dear name was put to scorn,
Or called a sinful thing to say?
Yet Love did come; what need to tell
Of flowers downcast, that sometimes fell
Across her feet when dreamily
She paced, with unused breviary,
Down paths made still with August's spell--
Of looks cast through the chapel grate,
Of letters helped by Love and Fate,
That to cold fingers did not come
But lay within a warmer home,
Upon her heart inviolate?
Somehow he loved her--she loved him:
Then filled her soul's cup to the brim,
And all her daily life grew bright
With such a flood of rosy light
As turned the altar candles dim.
But love that lights is love that leads,
And lives upon the heart it feeds;
Soon grew she pale though not less fair,
And sighed his name instead of prayer,
And told her heart-throbs, not her beads.
How could she find the sunlight fair,
A sunlight that he did not share?
How could a rose smell sweet within
The cruel bars that shut her in,
And shut him out while she was there?
He vowed her fealty firm and fast,
Then to the winds her fears she cast;
They found a way to cheat the bars,
And in free air, beneath free stars,
Free, and with him, she stood at last.
'Now to some priest,' he said, 'that he
May give thee--blessing us--to me.'
'No priest,' she cried in doubt and fear,
'He would divide, not join us, dear.
I am mine--I give myself to thee.
'Since thou and I are mine and thine,
What need to swear it at a shrine?
Would love last longer if we swore
That we would love for evermore?
God gives me thee--and thou art mine.'
'God weds us now,' he said, 'yet still
Some day shall we all forms fulfil.
Eternal truth affords to smile
At laws wherewith man marks his guile,
Yet law shall join us--when you will.
'So look your last, my love, on these
Forbidding walls and wooing trees.
Farewell to grief and gloom,' said he;
'Farewell to childhood's joy,' said she;
But neither said, 'Farewell to peace.'
My sweet, my sweet,
She is complete
From dainty head to darling feet;
So warm and white,
So brown and bright,
So made for love and love's delight.
God could but spare
One flower so fair,
There is none like her anywhere;
Beneath wide skies
The whole earth lies,
But not two other such brown eyes.
The world we're in,
If one might win?
Not worth that dimple in her chin
A heaven to know?
I'll let that go
But once to see her lids droop low
Over her eyes,
By love made wise:
To see her bosom fall and rise
Is more than worth
The angels' mirth,
And all the heaven-joys of earth.
This is the hour
Which gives me power
To win and wear earth's whitest flower.
Oh, Love, give grace,
Through all life's ways
Keep pure this heart, her dwelling place.
The fields were reaped and the pastures bare,
And the nights grown windy and chill,
When the lovers passed through the beech woods fair,
And climbed the brow of the hill.
In the hill's spread arm the Moat House lies
With elm and willow tree;
'And is that your home at last?' she sighs.
'Our home at last,' laughs he.
Across the bridge and into the hall
Where the waiting housefolk were.
'This is my lady,' he said to them all,
And she looked so sweet and fair
That every maid and serving-boy
God-blessed them then and there,
And wished them luck, and gave them joy,
For a happy, handsome pair.
And only the old nurse shook her head:
'Too young,' she said, 'too young.'
She noted that no prayers were read,
No marriage bells were rung;
No guests were called, no feast was spread,
As was meet for a marriage tide;
The young lord in the banquet hall broke bread
Alone with his little bride.
Yet her old heart warmed to the two, and blessed,
They were both so glad and gay,
By to-morrow and yesterday unoppressed,
Fulfilled of the joy of to-day;
Like two young birds in that dull old nest,
So careless of coming care,
So rapt in the other that each possessed,
The two young lovers were.
He was heir to a stern hard-natured race,
That had held the Moat House long,
But the gloom of his formal dwelling place
Dissolved at her voice and song;
So bright, so sweet, to the house she came,
So winning of way and word,
The household knew her by one pet name,
'My Lady Ladybird.'
First love so rarely gets leave to bring,
In our world where money is might,
Its tender buds to blossoming
With the sun of its own delight.
We love at rose or at vintage prime,
In the glare and heat of the day,
Forgetting the dawn and the violet time,
And the wild sweet scent of the may.
These loved like children, like children played,
The old house laughed with delight
At her song of a voice, at the radiance made
By her dress's flashing flight.
Up the dark oak stair, through the gallery's gloom,
She ran like a fairy fleet,
And ever her lover from room to room
Fast followed her flying feet.
They gathered the buds of the late-lived rose
In the ordered garden ways,
They walked through the sombre yew-walled close
And threaded the pine woods maze,
They rode through woods where their horses came
Knee-deep through the rustling leaves,
Through fields forlorn of the poppies' flame
And bereft of their golden sheaves.
In the mellow hush of October noon
They rowed in the flat broad boat,
Through the lily leaves so thickly strewn
On the sunny side of the moat.
They were glad of the fire of the beech-crowned hill,
And glad of the pale deep sky,
And the shifting shade that the willows made
On the boat as she glided by.
They roamed each room of the Moat House through
And questioned the wraiths of the past,
What legends rare the old dresses knew,
And the swords, what had wet them last?
What faces had looked through the lozenge panes,
What shadows darkened the door,
What feet had walked in the jewelled stains
That the rich glass cast on the floor?
She dressed her beauty in old brocade
That breathed of loss and regret,
In laces that broken hearts had swayed,
In the days when the swords were wet;
And the rubies and pearls laughed out and said,
'Though the lovers for whom we were set,
And the women who loved us, have long been dead,
Yet beauty and we live yet.'
When the wild white winter's spectral hand
Effaced the green and the red,
And crushed the fingers brown of the land
Till they grew death-white instead,
The two found cheer in their dark oak room,
And their dreams of a coming spring,
For a brighter sun shone through winter's gloom
Than ever a summer could bring.
They sat where the great fires blazed in the hall,
Where the wolf-skins lay outspread,
The pictured faces looked down from the wall
To hear his praise of the dead.
He told her ghostly tales of the past,
And legends rare of his house,
Till she held her breath at the shade fire-cast,
And the scamper-rush of the mouse,
Till she dared not turn her head to see
What shape might stand by her chair--
Till she cried his name, and fled to his knee,
And safely nestled there.
Then they talked of their journey, the city's crowd,
Of the convent's faint joy and pain,
Till the ghosts of the past were laid in the shroud
Of commonplace things again.
So the winter died, and the baby spring,
With hardly voice for a cry,
And hands too weak the signs to bring
That all men might know her by,
Yet woke, and breathed through the soft wet air
The promise of all things dear,
And poets and lovers knew she was there,
And sang to their hearts, 'She is here.'
Soft is the ground underfoot,
Soft are the skies overhead,
Green is the ivy round brown hedge root,
Green is the moss where we tread.
Purple the woods are, and brown;
The blackbird is glossy and sleek,
He knows that the worms are no more kept down
By frost out of reach of his beak.
Grey are the sheep in the fold,
Tired of their turnip and beet,
Dreaming of meadow and pasture and wold,
And turf the warm rain will make sweet.
Leaves sleep, no bud wakens yet,
But we know by the song of the sun,
And the happy way that the world smiles, wet,
That the spring--oh, be glad!--is begun.
What stirs the heart of the tree?
What stirs the seed the earth bears?
What is it stirring in you and in me
Longing for summer, like theirs?--
Longing you cannot explain,
Yearning that baffles me still!
Ah! that each spring should bring longings again
No summer can ever fulfil!
When all the world had echoed the song
That the poet and lover sang,
When 'Glory to spring,' sweet, soft, and strong,
From the ferny woods outrang,
In wet green meadow, in hollow green,
The primrose stars outshone,
And the bluebells balanced their drooping sheen
In copses lovely and lone.
The green earth laughed, full of leaf and flower,
The sky laughed too, full of sun;
Was this the hour for a parting hour,
With the heaven of spring just won?
The woods and fields were echoing
To a chorus of life and bliss.
Oh, hard to sting the face of the spring
With the smart of a parting kiss!
A kinsman ailing, a summons sent
To haste to his dying bed.
'Oh, cruel sentence of banishment!
For my heart says 'Go'!' he said.
'So now good-bye to my home, my dear,
To the spring we watched from its birth;
There is no spring, oh, my sweet, but here,
'Tis winter all over the earth.
'But I come again, oh, spring of my life,
You hold the cord in your hand
That will draw me back, oh, my sweetheart wife,
To the place where your dear feet stand;
But a few short days, and my arms shall be
Once more round your little head,
And you will be weeping glad tears with me
On the grave of our parting, dead!
'I leave you my heart for a short short while,
It will ache if 'tis wrapped in fears;
Keep it safe and warm in the sun of your smile,
Not wet with the rain of your tears.
Be glad of the joy that shall soon be won,
Be glad to-day, though we part;
You shall weep for our parting when parting is done,
And drop your tears on my heart.'
Good-bye, my love, my only dear, I know your heart is true
And that it lingers here with me while mine fares forth with you.
We part? Our hearts are almost one, and are so closely tied
'Tis yours that stirs my bosom-lace, mine beats against your side.
So not at losing you I grieve, since heart and soul stay here,
But all the gladness of my life, I cry to lose it, dear;
Warmth of the sun, sweet of the rose, night's rest and light of day,
I mourn for these, for if you go, you take them all away.
You are sad too--not at leaving me, whose heart must with you go,
But at the heaven you leave behind--ah, yes--you told me so,
You said wherever you might go you could not ever find
A spring so sweet, love so complete, as these you leave behind.
No future joy will ever pay this moment's bitter ache,
Yet I am glad to be so sad, since it is for your sake.
You take so much, I do but wish that you could take the whole,
Could take me, since you take my rest, my light, my joy, my soul.
Oh, love, I leave
This springtide eve,
When woods in sunset shine blood-red;
The long road lies
Before my eyes,
My horse goes on with even tread.
I dare not turn
These eyes that burn
Back to the terrace where you lean;
If I should see
Your tears for me,
I must turn back to dry them, O my queen!
Yet I must go,
Fate has it so,
Duty spoke once, and I obey;
Sadly I rise,
And turn my face the other way.
Nothing is dear
On earth but here,
There is no joy away from you;
What though there be
New things to see,
New friends, new faces, and adventures new?
Yet since I may
Not with you stay,
Hey for the outer world of life!
Brace limbs, shake rein,
And seek again
The hurry, jostle, jar and strife.
Hey for the new!
Yet, love, for you--
I have loved you so--the last hand-kiss.
How vast a world
Lies here unfurled!
How small, if sweet, home's inner round of bliss!
The road bends right,
Leads out of sight,
Here I may turn, nor fear to see;
So far away,
One could not say
If you are weeping now for me.
Behind this eve
My love I leave,
The big bright world spreads out before;
Yet will I come,
To you and home,
Oh, love, and rest beneath your yoke once more.
She stood upon the terrace, gazing still
Down the long road to watch him out of sight,
Dry-eyed at first, until the swelling hill
Hid him. Then turned she to the garden bright,
Whose ways held memories of lover's laughter,
And lover's sadness that had followed after,
Both born of passion's too intense delight.
The garden knew her secrets, and its bowers
Threw her her secrets back in mocking wise;
''Twas here he buried you in lilac flowers.
Here while he slept you covered up his eyes
With primroses. They died; and by that token
Love, like a flower whose stalk has once been broken,
Will live no more for all your tears and sighs.'
The sundial that had marked their happy hours
Cried out to her, 'I know that he is gone;
So many twos have wreathed me round with flowers,
And always one came afterwards alone,
And always wept--even as you are weeping.
The flowers while they lived were cold, shade keeping,
But always through the tears the sun still shone.'
She left the garden; but the house still more
Whispered, 'You love him--he has gone away.'
Where fell her single footstep sighed the floor,
'Another foot than yours fell here to-day.'
The very hound she stroked looked round and past her,
Then in her face, and whined, 'Where is our master?'
The whole house had the same one thing to say.
Empty, without its soul, disconsolate,
The great house was: through all the rooms went she,
And every room was dark and desolate,
Nothing seemed good to do or good to see.
At last, upon the wolf-skins, worn with weeping,
The old nurse found her, like a tired child, sleeping
With face tear-stained, and sobbing brokenly.
Wearily went the days, all sad the same,
Yet each brought its own added heaviness.
Why was it that no letter from him came
To ease the burden of her loneliness?
Why did he send no message, word, or greeting,
To help her forward to their day of meeting,
No written love--no black and white caress?
At last there came a letter, sweet but brief,
'He was so busy--had no time for more.'
No time! She had had time enough for grief,
There never had been so much time before;
And yet the letter lay within her bosom,
Pressed closely to her breathing beauty's blossom,
Worn for a balm, because her heart was sore.
She knew not where he stayed, and so could send,
Of all the letters that she wrote, not one;
Hour after soft spring hour the child would spend
In pouring out her soul, for, once begun,
The tale of all her love and grief flowed over
Upon the letters that she wrote her lover,
And that the fire read when the tale was done.
And yet she never doubted he would come,
If not before, yet when a baby's eyes
Should look for him, when his deserted home
Should waken to a baby's laughs and cries.
'He judges best--perhaps he comes to-morrow,
But come he will, and we shall laugh at sorrow
When in my arms our little baby lies.'
And in the August days a soft hush fell
Upon the house--the old nurse kept her place
Beside the little wife--and all was well;
After rapt anguish came a breathing space,
And she, mid tears and smiles, white-faced, glad-eyed,
Felt her wee baby move against her side,
Kissed its small hands, worshipped its tiny face.
Oh, baby, baby, baby dear,
We lie alone together here;
The snowy gown and cap and sheet
With lavender are fresh and sweet;
Through half-closed blinds the roses peer
To see and love you, baby dear.
We are so tired, we like to lie
Just doing nothing, you and I,
Within the darkened quiet room.
The sun sends dusk rays through the gloom,
Which is no gloom since you are here,
My little life, my baby dear.
Soft sleepy mouth so vaguely pressed
Against your new-made mother's breast,
Soft little hands in mine I fold,
Soft little feet I kiss and hold,
Round soft smooth head and tiny ear,
All mine, my own, my baby dear.
And he we love is far away!
But he will come some happy day.
You need but me, and I can rest
At peace with you beside me pressed.
There are no questions, longings vain,
No murmuring, nor doubt, nor pain,
Only content and we are here,
My baby dear.
While winged Love his pinions folded in the Moat House by the hill,
In the city there was anger, doubt, distrust, and thoughts of ill;
For his kinsmen, hearing rumours of the life the lovers led,
Wept, and wrung their hands, and sorrowed--'Better that the lad were dead
Than to live thus--he, the son of proudest man and noblest earl--
Thus in open sin with her, a nameless, shameless, foreign girl.'
(Ever when they thus lamented, 'twas the open sin they named,
Till one wondered whether sinning, if less frank, had been less blamed.)
''Tis our duty to reclaim him--mate him to a noble bride
Who shall fitly grace his station, and walk stately by his side--
Gently loose him from the fetters of this siren fair and frail
(In such cases time and absence nearly always will prevail).
He shall meet the Duke's fair daughter--perfect, saintly Lady May--
Beauty is the surest beacon to a young man gone astray!
Not at all precipitately, but with judgment sure and fine,
We will rescue and redeem him from his shameful husks and swine.
So--his uncle's long been ailing (gout and dropsy for his sins)--
Let that serve for pretext; hither bring the youth--his cure begins.'
So they summoned him and welcomed, and their utmost efforts bent
To snatch back a brand from burning and a soul from punishment--
Sought to charm him with their feastings, each more sumptuous than the last,
From his yearning recollections of his very sinful past--
Strove to wipe his wicked doings from his memory's blotted
By the chaster, purer interests of the ball-room and the stage.
And for Lady May--they hinted to the girl, child-innocent,
That her hand to save the sinner by her Saviour had been sent,
That her voice might bring his voice her Master's triumph choir to swell,
And might save a man from sorrow and a human soul from hell.
So she used her maiden graces, maiden glances, maiden smiles,
To protect the erring pilgrim from the devil's subtle wiles--
Saw him daily, sent him letters, pious verses by the score,
Every angel's trap she baited with her sweet religious lore--
Ventured all she knew, not knowing that her beauty and her youth
Were far better to bait traps with than her odds and ends of truth.
First he listened, vain and flattered that a girl as fair as she
Should be so distinctly anxious for his lost humanity,
Yet determined no attentions, even from the Lady May,
Should delay his home-returning one unnecessary day.
But as she--heart-wrung with pity for his erring soul--grew kind,
Fainter, fainter grew the image of his sweetheart left behind;
Till one day May spoke of sorrow--prayed him to reform--repent,
Urged the festival in heaven over every penitent;
Bold in ignorance, spoke vaguely and low-toned of sin and shame,
And at last her voice, half breathless, faltered, broke upon his name,
And two tears fell from her lashes on the roses at her breast,
Far more potent in their silence than her preaching at its best.
And his weak soul thrilled and trembled at her beauty, and he cried,
'Not for me those priceless tears: I am your slave--you shall decide.'
'Save your soul,' she sighed. 'Was ever man so tempted, tried, before?
It is yours!' and at the word his soul was lost for evermore.
Never woman pure and saintly did the devil's work so well!
Never soul ensnared for heaven took a surer road to hell!
Lady May had gained her convert, loved him, and was satisfied,
And before the last leaves yellowed she would kneel down as his bride.
She was happy, and he struggled to believe that perfidy
Was repentance--reformation was not one with cruelty,
Yet through all congratulations, friends' smiles, lovers' flatteries,
Lived a gnawing recollection of the lost love harmonies.
In the day he crushed it fiercely, kept it covered out of sight,
But it held him by the heart-strings and came boldly out at night:
In the solemn truthful night his soul shrank shuddering from its lies,
And his base self knew its baseness, and looked full in its false eyes.
In the August nights, when all the sky was deep and toneless blue,
And the gold star-points seemed letting the remembered sunlight through,
When the world was hushed and peaceful in the moonlight's searching white,
He would toss and cast his arms out through the silence and the night
To those eyes that through the night and through the silence came again,
Haunting him with the persistence and the passion of their pain.
'Oh, my little love--my sweetheart--oh, our past--our sweet love-day--
Oh, if I were only true--or you were only Lady May!'
But the sunshine scared the vision, and he rose once more love-warm
To the Lady May's perfections and his own proposed reform.
Coward that he was! he could not write and break that loving heart:
To the worn-out gouty kinsman was assigned that pleasing part.
'Say it kindly,' said her lover, 'always friends--I can't forget--
We must meet no more--but give her tenderest thought and all regret;
Bid her go back to the convent--she and I can't meet as friends--
Offer her a good allowance--any terms to make amends
For what nought could make amends for--for my baseness and my sin.
Oh, I know which side the scale this deed of mine will figure in!
Curse reform!--she may forget me--'tis on me the burdens fall,
For I love her only, solely--not the Lady May at all!'
'Patience,' said the uncle, 'patience, this is but the natural pain
When a young man turns from sinning to the paths of grace again.
Your wild oats are sown--you're plighted to the noble Lady May
(Whose estates adjoin your manor in a providential way).
Do your duty, sir, for surely pangs like these are such as win
Pardon and the heavenly blessing on the sinner weaned from sin.'
Day is fair, and so is she
Whom so soon I wed;
But the night, when memory
Guards my sleepless bed,
And with cold hands brings once more
Thorns from rose-sweet days of yore--
Night I curse and dread.
Day is sweet, as sweet as her
But the night, when near me stir
Rustlings of a dress,
Echoes of a loving tone
Now renounced, forsworn, foregone,
Night is bitterness.
Day can stir my blood like wine
Or her beauty's fire,
But at night I burn and pine,
Torture, turn and tire,
With a longing that is pain,
Just to kiss and clasp again
Love's one lost desire.
Day is glad and pure and bright,
Pure, glad, bright as she;
But the sad and guilty night
Outlives day--for me.
Oh, for days when day and night
Equal balance of delight
Were alike to me!
In the day I see my feet
Walk in steadfast wise,
Following my lady sweet
To her Paradise,
Like some stray-recovered lamb;
But I see the beast I am
When the night stars rise.
Yet in wedding day there lies
Magic--so they say;
Ghosts will have no chance to rise
Near my Lady May.
Vain the hope! In good or ill
Those lost eyes will haunt me still
Till my dying day.
Quickly died the August roses, and the kin of Lady May
Dowered her richly, blessed her freely, and announced her wedding day;
And his yearnings and remorses fainter grew as days went on
'Neath the magic of the beauty of the woman he had won;
And less often and less strongly was his fancy caught and crossed
By remembrance of the dearness of the woman he had lost.
Long sweet mornings in the boudoir where the flowers stood about,
Whisperings in the balcony when stars and London lamps came out,
Concerts, flower shows, garden parties, balls and dinners, rides and drives,
All the time-killing distractions of these fashionable lives;
Dreary, joyless as a desert, pleasure's everlasting way,
But enchantment can make lovely even deserts, so they say,
Sandy waste, or waste of London season, where no green leaf grows,
Shone on but by love or passion, each will blossom like the rose!
Came no answer to the letter that announced his marriage day;
But his people wrote that Lady Ladybird had gone away.
So he sent to bid get ready to receive his noble wife.
Two such loving women granted to one man, and in one life!
Though he shuddered to remember with what ghosts the Moat House swarmed--
Ghosts of lovely days and dreamings ere the time when he reformed--
Yet he said, 'She cannot surely greatly care, or I had heard
Some impulsive, passionate pleading, had some sorrowing written word;
She has journeyed to her convent--will be glad as ere I came,
Through her beauty's dear enchantment, to a life of shameless shame;
And the memories of her dearness passion's flaming sword shall slay,
When the Moat House sees the bridal of myself and Lady May!'
Bright the mellow autumn sunshine glows upon the wedding day;
Lawns are swept from leaves, and doorways are wreathed round with garlands gay,
Flowery arches span the carriage drive from grass again to grass,
Flowers are ready for the flinging when the wedded pair shall pass;
Bells are ringing, clanging, clamouring from the belfry 'mid the trees,
And the sound rings out o'er woodlands, parks and gardens, lawns and leas;
All the village gay with banners waits the signal, 'Here they come!'
To strew flowers, wave hats, drop curtseys, and hurra its 'Welcome home!'
At the gates the very griffins on the posts are wreathed with green.
In their ordered lines wait servants for the pair to pass between;
But among them there is missing more than one familiar face,
And new faces, blank expectant, fill up each vacated place,
And the other servants whisper, 'Nurse would wail to see this day,
It was well she left the service when 'my Lady' ran away.'
Louder, clearer ring the joy-bells through the shaken, shattered air,
Till the echoes of them waken in the hillside far and fair;
Level shine the golden sunbeams in the golden afternoon.
In the east the wan ghost rises of the silver harvest moon.
Hark! wheels was it? No, but fancy. Listen! No--yes--can you hear?
Yes, it is the coming carriage rolling nearer and more near!
Till the horse-hoofs strike the roadway, unmistakable and clear!
They are coming! shout your welcome to my lord and lady fair:
May God shower his choicest blessings on the happy wedded pair!
Here they are! the open carriage and surrounding dusty cloud,
Whence he smiles his proud acceptance of the homage of the crowd;
And my lady's sweet face! Bless her! there's a one will help the poor,
Eyes like those could never turn a beggar helpless from her door!
Welcome, welcome! scatter flowers: see, they smile--bow left and right,
Reach the lodge gates--God of heaven! what was that, the flash of white?
Shehas sprung out from the ambush of the smiling, cheering crowd:
'Fling your flowers--here's my welcome!' sharp the cry rings out and loud.
Sudden sight of wild white face, and haggard eyes, and outstretched hands--
Just one heart-beat's space before the bridal pair that figure stands,
Then the horses, past controlling, forward bound, their hoofs down thrust--
And the carriage wheels jolt over something bloody in the dust.
'Stop her! Stop her! Stop the horses!' cry the people all too late,
For my lord and Lady May have had their welcome at their gate.
'Twas the old nurse who sprang to her, raised the brown-haired, dust-soiled head,
Looked a moment, closed the eyelids--then turned to my lord and said,
Kneeling still upon the roadway, with her arm flung round the dead,
While the carriage waited near her, blood and dust upon its wheels
(Ask my lord within to tell you how a happy bridegroom feels):
'Now, my lord, you are contented; you have chosen for your bride
This same fine and dainty lady who is sitting by your side.
Did ye tell her ere this bridal of the girl who bore your shame,
Bore your love-vows--bore your baby--everything except your name?
When they strewed the flowers to greet you, and the banners were unfurled,
She has flung before your feet the sweetest flower in all the world!
Woe's the day I ever nursed you--loved your lisping baby word,
For you grew to name of manhood, and to title of my lord;
Woe's the day you ever saw her, brought her home to wreck her life,
Throwing by your human plaything, to seek out another wife.
God will judge, and I would rather be the lost child lying there,
With your babe's milk in her bosom, your horse-hoof marks on her hair,
Than be you when God shall thunder, when your days on earth are filled,
'Where is she I gave, who loved you, whom you ruined, left and killed?'
Murderer, liar, coward, traitor, look upon your work and say
That your heart is glad within you on your happy wedding day!
And for you, my noble lady, take my blessing on your head,
Though it is not like the blessing maidens look for when they wed.
Never bride had such a welcome, such a flower laid on her way,
As was given you when your carriage crushed her out of life to-day.
Take my blessing--see her body, see what you and he have done--
And I wish you joy, my lady, of the bridegroom you have won.'
Like a beaten cur, that trembles at the whistling of the lash,
He stands listening, hands a-tremble, face as pale as white wood ash;
But the Lady May springs down, her soul shines glorious in her eyes,
Moving through the angry silence comes to where the other lies,
Gazes long upon her silent, but at last she turns her gaze
On the nurse, and lips a-tremble, hands outstretched, she slowly says,
'She is dead--but, but her baby--' all her woman's heart is wild
With an infinite compassion for the little helpless child.
Then she turns to snatch the baby from the arms of one near by,
Holds it fast and looks towards him with a voiceless bitter cry,
As imploring him to loose her from some nightmare's deadly bands.
Dogged looks he down and past her, and she sees and understands,
Then she speaks--'I keep your baby--that's my right in sight of men,
But by God I vow I'll never see your dastard face again.'
So she turned with no word further towards the purple-clouded west,
And passed thither with his baby clasped against her maiden breast.
Little Ladybird was buried in the old ancestral tomb.
From that grave there streams a shadow that wraps up his life in gloom,
And he drags the withered life on, longs for death that will not come,
The interminable night hours riven by that 'Welcome home!'
And he dares not leave this earthly hell of sharp remorse behind,
Lest through death not rest but hotter fire of anguish he should find.
Coward to the last, he will not risk so little for so much,
So he burns, convicted traitor, in the hell self-made of such:
And at night he wakes and shivers with unvanquishable dread
At the ghosts that press each other for a place beside his bed,
And he shudders to remember all the dearness that is dead.
I had a soul,
Not strong, but following good if good but led.
I might have kept it clean and pure and whole,
And given it up at last, grown strong with days
Of steadfast striving in truth's stern sweet ways;
Instead, I soiled and smutched and smothered it
With poison-flowers it valued not one whit--
Now it is dead.
I had a heart
Most true, most sweet, that on my loving fed.
I might have kept her all my life, a part
Of all my life--I let her starve and pine,
Ruined her life and desolated mine.
Sin brushed my lips--I yielded at a touch,
Tempted so little, and I sinned so much,
And she is dead.
There was a life
That in my sin I took and chained and wed,
And made--perpetual remorse!--my wife.
In my sin's harvest she must reap her share,
That makes its sheaves less light for me to bear.
Oh, life I might have left to bloom and grow!
I struck its root of happiness one blow,
And it is dead.
Once joy I had,
Now I have only agony instead,
That maddens, yet will never send me mad.
The best that comes is numbed half-sick despair,
Remembering how sweet the dear dead were.
My whole life might have been one clear joy song!
Now--oh, my heart, how still life is, how long,
For joy is dead.
Yet there is this:
I chose the thorns not grapes, the stones not bread;
I had my chance, they say, to gain or miss.
And yet I feel it was predestinate
From the first hour, from the first dawn of fate,
That I, thus placed, when that hour should arise,
Must act thus, and could not act otherwise.
This is the worst of all that can be said;
For hope is dead.