Ballads & Sonnets (4)
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COME forth, and bring with thee a mind
    That rises to the poet's mood;
And leave the village far behind,
    And spend an hour within the wood;

For there the flowers begin to peer—
    Sweet primroses that ever seem
The glowing eyes of the New Year
    Lit up with Summer and her dream.

And violets that scarce are seen
    Until you stoop, with patient eye,
And see them in their lowly mien,
    Blue droplets shaken from the sky.

Come forth, so that thy soul again
    May talk a while with quiet things
That living far apart from men,
    Have in them love's untamper'd springs.

I heard the voice—like one who dreams
    I went forth, having in my breast
A stirring quiet, like the streams
    When pausing for a little rest.

I reach the wood, and all around
    The yearly mystery of birth
Unfolds itself without a sound,
    And broadens over all the earth.

The buds in virgin greenness burst
    And swell beneath the kindly skies
All pure as when they grew at first,
    Upon the boughs in Paradise.

The grass grows up, and in the wind
    Waves tiny fingers to and fro,
As if distraught to probe and find
    The secret of its life below.

I lay myself within the shade,
    I close my eyes, but in my ear
Voices and many sounds invade,
    With whispers which I like to hear.

For strange it is that as I lie,
    The wind, that leaves no footstep, seems
The spirit of that melody
    Which gave my boyhood all its dreams.

And as I listen, like a song
    Dear lips have sung in other years,
There comes, with fragrance pure and strong,
    From pent-up sources—sweetest tears.

I weep, and yet I know not why,
    For joy is hand in hand with pain;
Perchance it is to think how dry
    Our hearts remain for all such rain.

Or maybe of that other time,
    When youth uprising boldly said,
"I will sow seed in noble prime,"
    Alas! and tears have grown instead.

But still, as here I lie to-day,
    Seeing the new life quicken all,
The old hard feeling slips away,
    And I am under softer thrall,

I look, and from the slightest thing
    That God has fashion'd with His hand:
New thoughts and meanings upward spring
    That are not hard to understand.

And as I think and slowly slip
    Backward to all that early time,
I feel a prayer upon my lip,
    And in my heart a holier rhyme,

Until all freshen'd, as with dews
    That fall not from the sky above,
But from some angel's eyes; I lose
    The old self in a nobler love.

And I can look, as now I view
    The buds and grass, and singing birds,
On men, and know their purpose too,
    And wed my thoughts to nobler words.

I leave the wood all firm and bold,
    And whisper as through fields I pass—
"Dear Heaven, that heart is never old
    That takes an interest in the grass—

That hears in every lowly thing
    That spring has waken'd with her call
A God-taught melody, that sings,
    And gives a key-note unto all."



I SAT by night and read the Book,
Till doubt was mingled with my look,

And dimness lay before my eyes,
As mists in hollows form and rise.

"So dark, so very dark," I said,
And shut the Book and bow'd my head;

Then lo!   I felt a wondrous light
Behind me, making all things bright;

While a clear voice, like some refrain,
Said—"Ope the Book, and read again."

I open'd up its leaves, and lo!
Each page was living with the glow

Of some great Presence undefin'd,
Yet standing in its place behind.

Methought that as I read the Word
Each leaf turn'd of its own accord,

And all the meaning fair and clear,
As pebbles through the stream appear,

Lay to my eyes, that saw beneath
Each sentence lie without its sheath.

I raised my head, and spoke in fear—
"This is God's Book, and very clear."

Then, lo! the light behind me fled,
But left a clear, sweet voice that said—

"Read thou not like to him who sees
Evolving mists of mysteries,

But like to him whose heart perceives
God's finger turning o'er the leaves!"



"Satan watching the Sleep of Christ."—Sir Noel Paton.


HE sleeps; the inner agony hath pass'd
    With the sure dawn that slowly climbs the east;
    The night wherein man saw Him not hath ceas'd,
And sleep is on that glorious face at last.
But pain still lingers there, though faint and worn,
    Upon the grandest of all brows, whereon
    It makes its latest stand to be o'erthrown,
By the sunrise of Love's eternal morn.
It is no painter's touch! beneath those eyes
    The mission and the Cross rise slowly up;
    Death with them with the dregs that He must sup,
And sorrow with her choruses of sighs.
    And over all a halo from above,
    God's Signet on His Masterpiece of Love.


The splendid demon with the lurid eyes,
    Wherein, as when a serpent bites its coil
    Nearing its death—hate having felt its foil,
Turns back upon itself before it dies.
He sits; one massive evil, huge of limb,
    With hand still clench'd as with the wish to slay;
    While those dark brows for ever waste away
With their own anger as they glare at Him.
That beauty which repels nor draws us nigher
    Clothes him as with a raiment.   We draw near,
    Drawn, yet held back as by instinctive fear—
As if a tongue from that dread crown of fire
    Could leap to meet us, like a stroke from fate,
    And blast us with the poison of its hate.


A Faust in colours with the good and ill
    For ever at their conflict, dumb of speech,
    Nor drawing gladiator-like to each,
But armour'd in the panoply of will.
The ages with their trailing shadows wait,
    And Time, the white field-marshal with keen eyes.
    Surveys the struggle, while the passive skies
Bend and come nearer as if drawn by fate.
Thou thinkest God has hid himself, but, lo!
    His awful shadow, or a part, at least,
    Of that which is His shadow, dawns to view
In the young day, that, with its plumes aglow,
    All silently behind the silent Two
    Climbs the blue stair-way of the one-starr'd east.



"Man with the Muck-rake."—Sir Noel Paton.


HE kneels, his knee drawn down to kindred dust,
    For all is earth within him, from those eyes
    Wherein a noble nature fallen lies,
To the lean hands that clutch, as clutch they must,
The muck-rake of this world, for unto him
    His heaven is on a level with his soul,
    That, blind, can see no higher, purer goal
Than in the gold that glitters but to dim.
Jewels that tarnish, honours that take wing
    A moment after, luring shapes that sink
    To leave the grinning skull whose sockets blink
Derision sharper than the viper's sting,
    And Vanity, by hollow whispers nursed,
    Blowing her bubbles, which ere caught have burst.


Above him, yet he sees him not, there bends
    Compassion and Divinity in one,
    The Christ of time, earth, heaven, and the sun,
Of the soul's soul, and all that upward tends.
In His right hand he holds a crown of thorns,
    Sorrow's own symbol, and the other lies
    Almost upon him, while behind him mourns
His better angel with entreating eyes.
Thou toiler after things that will not live!
    Look but once upward, that thy soul may see
    The sadden'd splendour of that glorious face,
Then lift thyself against that hand, and give
    Thy better angel one sweet tear to place
    Within the very sight of God from thee.


Thou gazest and the picture fades away
    Like visions after sleep.   But unto thee
    One thing remaineth which thou still canst see,
Like midnight meteors when they flash astray.
It is the woven crown of thorns, and lo,
    Behind it, on thy dim and awe-struck sight
    There rises up a cross of pale sad light
That slowly deepens till its very glow
Reaches thy inmost soul that, kneeling down
    Beneath a sorrow which all speech but mars,
    Sees, as a glory rises in the night,
Through the rough circlet of the thorny crown
    Another issue forth that to the sight
    Becomes a blinding splendour thick with stars.



HAVE you so forgot the time, dear love,
    When we sat by the stream in the wood
With our hearts as bright as the sky above,
    Talking as lovers should?
And we whisper'd to each of that happy day—
    Looking forward is so sweet—
But still as the moments sped away
    The red leaf fell at our feet.

The birds were out on the leafy boughs,
    Strong in their voice and youth,
And between their songs we made our vows
    With a kiss to seal their truth;
And I turn'd to you as I said, "This stream"—
    The stream was then so sweet—
"Has music fit for our coming dream,"
    And the red leaf fell at our feet.

The blushes lay warm on your gentle cheek,
    As I took your hand in mine,
While your eyes they could not, would not
    Aught but that love of thine;
And you smiled as I clasp'd and kiss'd you
    Your smile was then so sweet—
But ever between the joy and thrill
    The red leaf fell at our feet.

I took the curls of your long, rich hair,
    And nursed them in my hand,
As we laid in the future clear and fair,
    The dreams we both had plann'd;
We had nothing to do with life's alloy—
    O the heart will rise and beat—
But still as we spoke of our coming joy
    The read leaf fell at our feet.

We stood by the gate as the virgin night
    Set her footsteps on the hill,
Yet so sweet were your eyes with their dark
            rich light
    That I fondly linger'd still;
But hours wait not whatever we do—
    And lovers' hours are sweet—
So I kiss'd you again and said, "Be true,"
    And the red leaf lay at our feet.

Now I walk this life with a solemn brow,
    For the sweetest of hopes is fled,
And the blossoms that once would burst and
    Are now for ever dead.
Yet I smile as they question "Why is this?"—
    O the pain of the inward heat!—
And seem to be gay as I laugh and say,
    The red leaf fell at our feet.



HE came from a land whose shadows
    Were brighter than our day;
And he sang of the streams and meadows,
    And then he went away.

Now I turn from the heart that ever
    Will moan for the clay behind;
When the soul is such glorious liver
    In the boundless realms of mind.

So at night when the shadows grow dreary,
    And a sorrow is in my breast,
And the wings of life grow weary,
    And flutter as if for rest:

Then I open my little book-case,
    When the quiet is breathing low,
And I take from the shelf in silence
    A volume of long ago.

And I read and read by the firelight,
    Till quick and clear as chimes
The man himself is with me,
    And is talking to me in rhymes:

Talking of waving meadows
    And cunningly-hidden brooks,
With the quietest gush of eddies
    That the flowers may see their looks:

Babbling of summer and sunshine,
    And hills that reach the cloud;
And this—all this in whispers,
    For he never speaks aloud.

Then betimes when I shut the volume
    To walk in the quiet street,
When the stars, which are shadows of angels,
    Have made the silence sweet:

He follows me still like a presence
    That none but spirits see;
And at every pause of my footstep
    His music is speaking to me:

Whispers and speaks till the night-time
    So trembles with all its tone
That I cannot but let my being
    Move into the clasp of his own.

So whenever I lift the volume,
    Like summer-beams that glow,
That spirit comes out from the silence
    And babbles of long ago.



First appeared in Cassell's Magazine, and taken from that Magazine
by kind permission of Messrs. Cassell, Petter, and Galpin.

THE sunlight fell through the shadowy trees
    In smiles all soft and sweet,
While the incense breath of an early breeze
    Stirr'd the primrose at our feet.

And you stoop'd to pluck its round bright eye
    That peep'd up to the day,
Then turn'd from its golden bloom with a sigh,
    For your thoughts were far away.

Ay, far away with some dearer one,
    And hearing within your ear,
Breath'd out in love's low undertone
    The vows that you loved to hear.

I knew I had no share in your heart,
    And yet I could but speak,
While my life's sweet thoughts began to start
    With the blush upon your cheek.

But you whisper'd as light as a leaf when turn'd
    By the breath of the wooing wind,
A low sweet whisper, as if it mourn'd
    For the pain it left behind.

And your eyes for a moment met my own
    With the love that might have been,
Then slowly sank, and their light was gone,
    And the sunlight fell between.

Ah me! through that sunlight I see thee now,
    With the old-love-bloom on your cheek,
And within your eyes the same sweet glow
    Of the thoughts you would not speak.

Then my heart, like a pilgrim, makes its choice,
    And flings all thoughts away,
And listens again to thy low sweet voice,
    As thine own did to his that day.



THE first sweet wind of the summer
    Is breathing upon my cheek,
And swaying the heads of the grasses
    That throb with a wish to speak.
The spray is upon the hawthorn,
    The leaf is out on the bough,
        The light swift birds
        Are singing sweet words
    Where I am lying now.

My head is upon a primrose,
    My hand on a violet,
My foot has bent down a daisy—
    It is looking up at me yet.
Two butterflies—one like snow-drift,
    The other like blood, I trow—
        Dip their fairy hues
        In the earth's sweet dews,
    Where I am lying now.

I turn away from the sunlight
    That is falling soft and rife,
And I hear the angel's spreading
    The miraculous network of life.
And still, as their hands are plying,
    They murmur a tender vow—
        From heaven to earth
        It is one great birth—
    Where I am lying now.

O, dweller within the city,
    Come forth from its smoke and dust,
And, were it but one hour only,
    Clean thy soul from its growing rust.
Here stretch thyself on this couch of grass,
    With a hand upon thy brow,
        And take a part,
        With a poet's heart,
    In the dreams I am dreaming now.



First appeared in Cassell's Magazine, and taken from that Magazine
by kind permission of Messrs. Cassell, Petter, and Galpin.

AS soft as an autumn leaf will light
    When the winds are hush'd and still,
Fell your hand into mine that summer night,
    When the moon rose above the hill.

And silent and pale through the holy skies
    Rose she on her starry throne;
But I turn'd from her beams to your own sweet
    That were looking up to, my own—

Looking up to my own, dear love,
    With their sweetest and tenderest glow,
As the angels may look from their home above
    On their kindred types below.

And I saw in their depths, like some glorious balm,
    All the wealth of their loving lore;
And the thoughts in my breast grew into calm,
    That were restless an hour before;

And the earth had a brighter look for me,
    For I saw with other eyes,
And a whisper rose up like some symphony
    Spirit-sung in paradise.

And beneath that whisper we stood nor stirr'd,
    The silence was so divine;
While our hearts, not our lips, spoke their own
            sweet word,
    And your eyes look'd up to mine.

O night! that now like a star is seen
    In the past's ever golden sky,
Come back with the joy and the thrill that have
    And that dear love-melody.

And it comes again with its magic tone,
    And the stars come out to teach,
And your hand falls as light as a leaf in my own,
    And our eyes look into each.

Then the thoughts that are restless in my breast
    Grow as still as still may be;
And my heart feels the calm of thine own sweet
    And that dear love-melody.

So whenever my life will droop and pine,
    And my thoughts rush to and fro,
Then I dream that your hand slips into mine
    As it did in the long ago.



First appeared in Chambers' Journal, and taken from that Journal
by kind permission of W. & R Chambers.

OPEN again the garden door,
    When the flowers live their little time,
And I stand as you used to stand before
    By the rose-bush in its prime.

And I pluck one bud from the laden stem—
    This is for you I say;
Then I take a leaf from the glowing gem,
    And fling the rest away.

Now why should I place this single leaf
    Where my other treasures lie?
And why should I keep it like the grief
    That is seen in a thoughtful eye?

I keep it because it was thus you stood,
    That golden afternoon,
Plucking a rose in your maiden mood,
    And humming a low, sweet tune:

Humming a low, sweet tune alone,
    And watching, with half a smile,
The fairy rose-leaves that were strewn
    Around your feet the while.

And I stood in the shade of the garden door,
    And heard you at your song,
And saw the rich leaves downward pour
    As the low winds came along.

Now, when death has pluck'd your life's sweet
    And your footsteps are heard no more,
I think it a joy to stand where you stood,
    By the rose at the garden door.

So I creep in as beneath some fear
    And pluck with trembling hand
A rose from the bush you held so dear
    Ere you went to the spirit land.

And I take one leaf from the bud—no more—
    Then fling the rest away,
And turn again to the garden door
    In the golden summer day.

And I whisper, "The bud that I resign
    Is thy clay to its own earth given;
But the leaf that I keep is that spirit of thine,
    With its incense—all of Heaven."




ROSES fade, and why not you?
Mary, in whose eyes we view
Sweetest fancies peeping through,

So that unto us they seem
Colours in a fairy's dream—
Shaded pool of woodland stream,

Where the rounded pebbles lie,
Underneath its melody:
Thus within thine earnest eye

All the happy thoughts we see
Rise in their sweet purity,
Speaking evermore of thee.

Roses fade, but thy decay
Must be very far away;
Angels live more than a day:

Yet if thou shouldst link thy fate
To the rose's blushing state,
Thou canst never shame thy mate.

Like the rose, if Death should come
And bear thee to his silent home,
Where thy kindred spirits roam,

Thou shalt leave, as a relief
Behind thee, calming down our grief,
All the fragrance of its leaf:

Thus within our hearts shall be,
For ever as a type of thee,
The incense of thy memory.



HE who, in his young sweet life-time,
    When his heart with its visions was rife,
Hath felt not the worship of sorrow
    Lapping round the shores of that life:

Goes out to the toil of his fellows
    With no share in their hopes or their fears;
And can only stand at a distance
    And see them weep their tears.

Nor hath he found out in the night-time,
    When his heart and himself were alone,
That each wondrous chord in their bosom
    Was an unseen link to his own,

And that every yearning within them,
    The manifold aim and desire,
Came along that link, as the message
    Is spoken in shocks through the wire.

It was thus in that past existence,
    With its purposeless unrest,
When the infinite nature of sorrow
    Was clasping me breast to breast.

And I stood in the dim, hush'd twilight,
    While the rising tears made me blind,
As within, like a rain-quicken'd streamlet;
    Rose the hopes and fears of my kind.

I am now in my bearded manhood,
    And the finer perceptions then
Have roughen'd and dull'd in their feelings,
    Since I stood with my shoulder to men.

But still at stray times, when the labour
    And fret of the day is o'er,
That early worship comes backward,
    As a wave returns to the shore.

It comes when I stand in the silence
    On the bridge at the head of the town,
With the streamlet running beneath me,
    And the stars above looking down.

But most when I go to the city,
    And see upon either side
The restless hurry of faces
    That come and go like the tide.

For I know that each one in his bosom,
    Amid the toil and the din,
Has a goal set out in the future
    Which he braces himself to will.

And I also know, ere the struggle
    And the life-long conflict be o'er,
He must enter this temple of sorrow,
    And worship, weary and sore.

For this mystical life around us,
    Like the earth, with its day and night,
Is a hope and a fear and a sorrow,
    Till we enter the purer light.



HOW bright were those early summers
    When, like Heaven's own dazzling bow,
All the rapt, deep life of the poet
    Rose up with its wildest glow.

When the quick, sweet rush of the fancy
    Came on me like a fairy crowd,
Or a sudden gush of sunlight
    Through the rift of an April cloud.

Then my heart took a deeper motion,
    As from stream and hill and tree
Came a music that bore in its cadence
    The sweetest of dreams to me.

Whispers, too, as when swaying grasses
    Bow down to the evening wind,
Were for ever thrilling my being
    With the touch of the wider mind.

Then the years that lay out before me
    Rose up in their height sublime,
Giving forth in oracular voices
    The promise of golden rhyme.

And my spirit at such sweet promise
    Leapt up in its wild delight,
Like the North light laying its fingers
    On the lips of the stars by night.

Nature wept in divinest secret
    The sweetest of tears on me,
Till I lost myself in the splendour
    Of the boundless good to be.

O, how bright were those early summers!
    Never come such moments now;
All that early madness has faded
    To a duller and paler glow.

Yet at times, like a flash of sunlight,
    From the inmost depths of the heart,
The old, sweet yearnings spring upward,
    That for want of words must depart.

But I whisper, "A greater triumph
    Is yet to be had with thy peers
Than the one that is cool'd with the laurel,
    Or a life in the front of the years.

Thou canst teach them in what of music
    Is left from that early song,
All the force that lies hid in their labour
    Like a saint's when his spirit is strong.

Thou canst teach them, too, that for ever,
    Like the waves that come again,
So over the world's rough bosom
    Flow the toiling races of men:

Who, in all their fighting and striving,
    With hearts that bid them be brave,
Are as types of the soul's high wrestle
    For other goals than the grave.

Yet, whatever thou sing, let thy lyrics
    Have something in them of cheer,
And a battle-word for the feeble
    Who sicken and weary here.

If thou sing not to them as they struggle,
    With the purpose of making them strong,
Then thou thyself art a traitor
    In the federation of song.

But if there be heard in thy music
    The fire and the true sphere tone,
That, striking within their bosoms,
    Makes a march to help them on:

Then sing with thy back to those summers,
    And the wild quick flush of that time,
When thy heart had no thought of its fellows
    Or the sacred priesthood of rhyme."



THE angels look'd up into God's own eyes,
As He shut the gateways of Paradise;

For they heard coming up from the earth below
A wail as of mortals in deepest woe;

And bending their far keen vision down,
Saw two on the earth from whom hope had flown.

Then the foremost one of the Angels said,
Drooping his wings and bowing his head—

"Here, Father, are two in Thy shape and ours
Who have lost the light of their bridal bowers,

And wander, blind in their tears, and tost
With the thoughts of their Eden for ever lost."

Then God said, turning His face on him—
"Look once again, for thine eyes are dim."

Then the Angel look'd, and, lo! he could see
A smiling Babe on the woman's knee.

While the man bent down, and within his eyes
Was the light of his former Paradise.

Then the Angel whisper'd—"My fears were vain,
For man has found his lost Eden again."



THE wings of the dear old past, Annie,
    Are falling over me,
And again my thoughts take their flight, Annie,
    Over the sea to thee.
Over the sea, over the sea,
    To that quaint, gray, quiet town,
Where you walk in the evening light, Annie,
    As the golden sun sinks down.

And later, when twilight begins, Annie,
    And the shadows grow deep and long,
Like whispers of spirits in dreams, Annie,
    I hear you singing my song—
Singing my song, and the old sweet words,
    Like incense of angels rise;
And their music is in my heart, Annie,
    While the tears are in my eyes.

O! just to see you again, Annie,
    To walk with your hand in mine;
To stand by your side and look, Annie,
    Into those eyes of thine—
Into the thoughts and the depths of those eyes,
    As I did two years ago,
When we stood by the old gray tower, Annie,
    With the woods and the fields below.

But the wish sinks away as it forms, Annie,
    Only from over the sea,
When the twilight is coming down, Annie,
    You are singing that song to me—
Singing that song, and the dear old words,
    Like the incense of angels rise,
And their music is in my heart, Annie,
    While the tears are in my eyes.



(After a Tour through Belgium and Germany.)


WE part: great London with its mighty rush
    Of life will daily send its shocks through thine,
    As tides go up a river, but on mine
The quiet hamlet with its quiet hush
Will fall like murmurs in the night.   But still,
    When the low ebbs are with us, shall we not
    Dream the fair dreams of many a pleasant spot,
By which we wander'd with a happy will!
I know that all between the roaring trains,
    When their wild thunder sinks, that I shall hear
    The murmur of the Rhine within my ear—
All soft and tremulously sweet, like strains
    Sung by some fair witch-maiden, ere the moon
    Touches a mountain that will hide her soon.


And with the murmur of the Rhine will come
    Those legends which have flung, as from a sky
    We cannot see but with the inner eye,
A light that rests as in its chosen home,
On hill, and peak, and old gray towers that stand
    Like sentinels to guard the rear of Time;
    For he, too, lingers in that fairy clime,
And turns the glass with an unwilling hand.
Sweet Rolandseck and sweeter Drachenfels
    Shall be with me, and glimpses of the vine
    Big with the purple promise of the wine;
Bingen, whereon the sloping sunshine dwells;
    The Lorelei rock, whose echoes still prolong
    The moonlight witchery of Heine's song.


Through these the town of Rubens shall arise,
    Its stone arms clasping the cathedral, where
    His dead Christ sends a worship through the air,
And takes the daily light from out the eyes
Of those that look in awe; for there they see
    Divinity as death, and woman's hands
    Clasping his feet as tender as can be;
While all behind the gazer as he stands,
Devotion bends the knee in that rich light
    Which flings a noonday twilight all around,
    That trembles as the organ lifts again
To fretted roof that narrows to the sight,
    Its unseen wailing hands of holy sound
    In moaning benedictions over men.


The sunshine over Brussels will be mine,
    But for a moment ere it pales its hue,
    And slowly deepens into one grim sign
Of thunder on the field of Waterloo.
The lower thunderbolts of men have spent
    The death-doom of their anger there, the plough
    Follows the mission of the sword that lent
A red strength to the soil it cleaves.   And now
There will be golden harvest.   Nature craves
    No boon from men.   She only needs one spring
    To work her miracles, which, ere it pass,
Has woven in the joy of fashioning,
    Over a battle-field and dead men's graves,
    The green forgetfulness of growing grass.


And quiet Weimar, hush'd of look and staid,
    As if she knew the passing stranger came,
    Drawn to her by the splendour and the fame
Of her two mighty sons, whose dust is laid
Within her bosom side by side.   And she
    Covers their ashes still with flowers that bind
    Mortals to all the high Immortals.   He,
Goethe—a sea without one waft of wind;
Schiller—the river yearning for that sea,
    High, pure and restless, with an upward mind.
    So let her keep their sacred dust.   For through
The march of ages as they sweep along,
    Will rise the potent voices of these two—
    The ocean and the river of her song.


And thou, in such calm moments, wilt again
Stand in that holy silent light which swims
With unsung liturgies and incensed hymns
That ever teach us life is light and vain!
Nay, in thy spirit thou wilt walk in awe
Adown the column'd vista of the nave,
Till transept, altar, and high architrave
Deepen and take the universal law
Of worship. Or wilt thou become as one
Who hath no motion, and with eyes that seem
To gaze beyond their light, drink in the mild
Celestial splendour of our Raphael's dream,
And steep'd in all the art thou gazest on—
Half worship the Madonna and her Child!


Half worship?   Nay, full worship must be thine,
    For all the best of Raphael's soul is there,
    Glowing as in that hour when the divine
Vision was with him, and the very air
Was wavy with that glory which we now
    See crowning, with a splendour fair and mild,
    The Virgin Mother as she clasps the Child
And smiling, for the sweetness on her brow
Is of that other light the painter saw
    In those high moments when his glorious art
    Lay round him like a heaven.   We turn away
Breathing the spell of some unconscious awe,
    And, turning, keep that sweetness in our heart
    That mingles not with that of common day.


Or Guido, where beneath the crown of thorns
    Love haloes the divinest of all eyes,
    And struggles with despair with unheard sighs,
Conquers, and in conquering ever mourns
Behold the man!   But thou canst never reach,
    Even with thy spirit's purest touch,
    That sorrow, or enfold in thy frail speech
The earnest sad divinity of such.
Thou seest only as through tears, the dread
    Shadow of that agony of pain,
    And those grand eyes that ever look above
With that far yearning, till, from overhead,
    God stoops and slowly arches in the twain,
    The unfading glory of unconquer'd love.


I know thou wilt.   And so to me the past
    Is richer from my pleasant days with thee,
    And wears a happy memory to me,
Chat, though the years may dim and die, will last.
We were not as we said with jest and smile,
    "Two idle dreamers of an empty day;"
    The future takes its colour and display
From what is best within us.   So the while
There might be rising to the inner ken
    The larger nature which must come with thought
    Grown wider from a wider view of earth,
And earnest purposes to shape our lot
    To all the grander things that take their birth
    Wherever God reveals Himself to men.





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