Duchess Agnes (3)

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SONG.


A GREENNESS o'er my vision passed,
A freshness o'er my brain,
Rose up as when I saw them last
The glad green hills again.

Amid the streets' bewildering roar,
I heard the rushing stirs
Of vagrant breezes running o'er
The dark tops of the firs.

Far round, the wide and swooning view,
The bound of chained heights;
Far off, the dales my footsteps knew,
With all their green delights;

Far down the river winding through
The valley, silver white;
Far up, amid the cloudless blue,
The slow sail of the kite.

A greenness o'er my vision passed,
A freshness o'er my brain,
Rose up as when I saw them last
The glad green hills again.

___________________

 

 

SONG.


A WOOD lies on the shore,
Filled with murmurs, as each tree
Learned the music of the sea,
Which it heareth all the day,
Ever growing more and more,
Or fading far away.

And standing on that shore,
The past comes back to me;
In that music of the sea,
And that murmur of the wood,
Ever fading far away,
Yet evermore renewed.

___________________

 

 

SONG.


YELLOW, yellow leaves!
All grown pale with sighing
For the sweet days dead,
For the sad days dying:
Yellow, yellow leaves,
How this parting grieves!

Yellow, yellow leaves!
Falling, falling, falling;
Death is best when hope
There is no recalling:
Yet, O yellow leaves,
How the parting grieves!

___________________

 

 

THAMES.

-I-


A GLIMPSE of the river! it glimmers
Through the stems of the beeches;
Through the screen of the willows it shimmers
In long winding reaches;
Flowing so softly that scarcely
It seems to be flowing,
But the reeds of the low little islands
Are bent to its going;
And soft as the breath of a sleeper
Its heaving and sighing,
In the coves where the fleets of the lilies
At anchor are lying.
It looks as if fallen asleep
In the lap of the meadows, and smiling
Like a child in the grass, dreaming deep
Of the flowers and their golden beguiling


-II-


A glimpse of the river! it glooms
Underneath the black arches,
Across it the broad shadow looms,
And the eager crowd marches;
Where, washing the feet of the city,
Strong and swift it is flowing;
On its bosom the ships of the nations
Are coming and going;
Heavy laden it labours and spends,
In a great strain of duty,
The power that was gathered and nursed
In the calm and the beauty.
Like thee, noble river, like thee,
Let our lives in beginning and ending,
Fair in their gathering be,
And great in the time of their spending.

___________________

 

 

ASHFORD.


I STAND upon this little bridge
That serves three tiny villages—
Leaf-smothered 'mong their chestnut trees—
To cross the stream from ridge to ridge;
To hear the bells that round me ring,
To hear the bells the breezes bring.

Here meet three white and winding ways,
That travel through the level shire,
'Tween autumn hedges, now on fire
With wild-rose berries, and with sprays
Of bramble laced, whose every shoot
Is laden with ripe glistening fruit.

Calling the villagers to prayer,
Startling the swallows from the eaves,
Near bells that clang from out the leaves!
Far bells that come upon the air!
Ye spread a silver haze of sound
This morn o'er all this English ground.

The blowing breeze from west and south
Now mingles all the bells, along
With the cloud-hidden skylark's song;
Now softly and with whispering mouth,
Of apple-scented breath, it brings,
Alone, the furthest chime that rings.

Yonder a distant church peeps out,
A Sunbeam lighting on the spire—
A grey tower 'mid the trees, scarce higher
Than they, with ivy clasped about;
And far and wide a hundred such
Were brightened by that sunbeam's touch.

Now all the pleasant janglings cease—
Mild Autumn, folding sheafy bands,
At rest from all her labour stands;
And England's thoughts are thoughts of peace,
And silence sanctifies the air
The while she breathes her wonted prayer.

___________________

 

 

THE POOL.


ON one side the hedgerow runs,
    A woven wall of green,
Formed of interlacing shoots,
    Sapling oaks between,
Whose crisp leaves with crimson stains
Show the vigour in their veins.

From its tangled sprays peep out
    Blossoms, berries, nuts;
Bramble, woodbine, briony,
    Every crevice shuts,
And so shady, sweet, and cool
Makes the path beside the pool.

In the bosom of the pool
    All soft mirrored lies
Yonder elm that stands apart
    Half-way up the rise;
Here the willows by the edge;
There the green slopes and the hedge.

And the white cloud sailing slow,
    And the blue beyond,
And the swallow sweeping low,
    Whose breast dips in the pond;
Stars come forth at once on high,
And within this mimic sky.

To the gaze above thee bent
    Heaven thou bringest near,
While near things with heaven are blent
    In thy mirror clear:
Tranquil pool! awhile enclose
My image in thy heart's repose.

___________________

 

 

A REMEMBRANCE.


IN a garden we were sitting—
    Three whose hearts were one,—
And before us leaves were flitting,
    Golden in the sun.

And around us birds were singing,
    All things smiled and glowed;
Music in our hearts was ringing,
    Speech like music flowed.

But as we were converse holding
    Of all happy things,
Lo! the birds their wings were folding,
    And the time had wings.

Rosy clouds in swift transition
    Faded into gray,
Then we wished some old magician
    Would bid Time to stay.

Or that such had come and found us
    But an hour agone,
And in fabled shell had bound us,
    To be loosed by none!

Thus for ever! all unwitting
    How the ages flew;
Golden leaves before us flitting,
    Sunshine streaming through.

Thus for ever! thus for ever!
    Ah the thought how vain!
Mournful, too, for we shall never
    Be the same again.

All our brows have gathered sadness,
    Travelling sore of foot;
On our lips the songs of gladness
    Now are almost mute.

Could some great magician aid us
    By once famous magic might,
Would we give what time has made us
    For that old and dear delight?

Would we three again be sitting,
    As when life was new,
Golden leaves before us flitting,
    Sunshine streaming through?

___________________

 

 

EXPECTATION.


SHE sailed to-day—I cannot rest
    Till I have seen the mighty sea
Upon whose broad and billowy breast
    My bride is borne to me!

The sun is rising from the waves,
    And soon shall touch my western home,
With rays that gilded last the foam,
    Her vessel's side that laves.

And moving o'er the dark'ning deep,
    Her heart is straining to the land
She leaves; my love! she wakes to weep
    That parting on the strand.

But I rejoice in sorrow's cause,
    For strong the attraction needs must be
That from her happy sphere thus draws
    My star of life to me.

That draws her swifter than the sun,
    Yea, twice as swift; she leaves behind
The summer, and shall only find
    Our early spring begun.


-II-


I STOOD upon the distant run,
    My flocks and herds were mustered there;
Ten thousand fleeces in the sun
    This morn showed white and fair.

How fast this patriarchal wealth
    Has multiplied, as year by year,
In labour rude and rustic health,
    I've toiled and waited here;

And served like Jacob for his wife,
    Though shorter term to me was given;
Yet distance and our dwindled life
    Make three years more than seven.

The clouds are moving drift on drift,
    Now all my home fields darkened lie,
    And now a-flood with light, as high
And clear, the moon sails swift;

The Southern Cross is in the sky,
    And in my heart hope holds anew
Her empire, as the time draws nigh
    When hap'ly I shall view

Her welcome sail, and, 'mid the crowd
    Who stand to hail the shore, shall see
    My love look eagerly for me,
And speak my name aloud.

And soon my home her voice shall know,
    And she shall sylvan homage claim,
    And her sweet playful English name
About these fields shall blow.

She'll train the roses on the wall;
    This English rose, whose tender leaves,
Homesick and pale, come forth and fall,
    Shall reach our cottage eaves.

That English acorn which she sent,
    Fresh-gathered from the glade at home,
    Has sprouted, and shall yet become
A leafy oaken tent.

And I have planted out the shoots,
    That one day mighty arms shall reach,
    An avenue of English beech,
With violets at their roots.

And children playing in their shade,
    When she and I together rest,
Shall lisp our names as they who made
    Their bright home in the West.

___________________

 

 

SHADOW.


IT falls before, it follows behind,
    Darkest still when the day is bright;
No light without the shadow we find,
    And never shadow without the light.

From our shadow we cannot flee away;
    It walks when we walk, it runs when we run;
But it tells which way to look for the sun;
    We may turn our backs on it any day.

Ever mingle the light and shade
    That make this human world so dear;
Sorrow of joy is ever made,
    And what were a hope without a fear?

A morning shadow o'er youth is cast,
    Warning from pleasure's dazzling snare;
A shadow lengthening across the past,
    Fixes our fondest memories there.

One shadow there is, so dark, so drear,
    So broad we see not the brightness round it
Yet 'tis but the dark side of the sphere
    Moving into the light unbounded.

___________________

 

 

TOO LATE.


IT has been dreary all the day,
    Dark clouds have veiled the sun;
The clouds have wept themselves away,
    But then, the day is done!

The shadow of the mountain falls
    Far eastward o'er the plain,
Its broad base on these wet grey walls
    And church-roof black with rain;

While, kindling from a few faint streaks
    Flames day's funereal pyre,
Until between the purple peaks
    Lie lakes of crimson fire.

And, with a faint reflected smile
    That only lights to fade,
The meek plain brightens for a while
    Beyond those hills of shade.

The wind, that has been cow'ring, drenched,
    Has risen, and through the fire
Rushed, scattering crimson brands, that quenched
    In vap'ry gloom expire.

Moan round the mountain's side, wild blast,
    And sound thy moan "Too Late!"
To me the awful voice thou hast
    Of that remorseless fate.

Ah me! the heights I thought to climb
    An awful shadow throw;
Close are the barriers of Time,
    The pilgrim far below.

And ever, ever on before
    Sweeps that remorseless fate,
And when the fruitless pang is o'er,
    Flings back the prize "Too Late!"

The eyes of love that led us on,
    Are blank or coldly sealed;
And where the laurels have been won,
    The life-blood stains the field.

And as the glow on yonder height,
    Ere one could climb were cold;
The glory of life's later light
    Death waiteth to enfold.

Sweep on! the shadows back must roll,
    And at the morning gate
Before thee pass the winged soul;
    Time Spirit, lo!   I wait!

___________________

 

 

THE STRANGER'S LAIR.


STEEPED in sunshine the village lay,
The red-roofed houses looked more than warm;
The waves ran into the tiny bay,
Down on whose shore the children swarm,
Whom daily miracles keep from harms,
At play with the great sea, running to meet
And kissing and lapping their little bare feet,
Tempting them into his treacherous arms.

Up to the humble house of God
A straight path leads, all dazzling white;
'Tis the pastor's fancy to keep that road
With glistening shells and with pebbles bright;
And on either side of that milky way,
Sunning themselves, the still graves lie,
Whence the daisy looks up with her open eye,
Fearless as faith, to the Lord of day.

Here and there is a stone at the head
Of some village magnate now no more;
The farmer—his son now reigns in his stead—
Who held the fields that slope to the shore.
Some former pastors, never a squire,
Are buried here, for these higher-souled
Mix with their kindred in richer mould,
Under a distant and loftier spire.

Caught up from their play, strong fever bore
The children hither, with panting breath,
And cheeks that glowed more bright than before,
Till laid dead white in the arms of death.
And the fishermen, and the fishermen's wives,
Rest here as they ne'er could rest in their lives,
For nights of wind, with one on the deep,
And one on the shore who could not sleep.

Here 'mong his safely-folded flock,
The pastor would think out his sermon clear,
Telling his simple crew to steer
Heavenward, through storm, and shoal, and rock;
Each Sunday they gather beneath his eye,
From the boisterous boys who play on the sand,
And up in order before him stand,
With the little hoydens, blushing and shy.

But the urchin who feared his Sunday's frown
Would pluck his coat on a common day,
Till he looked on the elf who had stopped his way,
And tickled his head through the hole in the crown
Of his cap.   If the head was not wholly bare,
The hole in the crown was sure to be there,
For of attire, that highest grace
Was seldom in proper use or place.

'Mong his folded flock that bright noon-day
The pastor walked, and the way he took
That led to the churchyard's weediest nook,
The only spot where a shadow lay;
And stopped, and uncovered his head when there,—
I know not whether it was for prayer,
Or because of the heat,—while his gray locks float
About his neck, and down on his coat.

Truth is, no wifely, womanly hands
Over these elf-locks might claim control;
The good man had often holes in his bands,
Some rents too, I fear, in his genial soul.
I joined his walk, and with sauntering pace,
We trod in silence the shady place;
'Mong the weeds were waifs of brown sea-ware:
“You know this is called the Stranger's Lair;"

At length he said, looking down at these:
And here in my time I have laid no few,
Whom storms on our coast like drift-weed threw:
Strange, dark sailors from distant seas.
And almost all had some silken string,
'Neath the coarsest shirt, some coin or ring
Or locket, whose slender twist of hair
Had anchored the stormy heart somewhere.

"And more than one wreck from the storms of sin
Hath drifted hither, where storms must cease;
And though waters of sorrow swelled within,
The shattered hulk would break up in peace.
My own last bed I have chosen here,
See that they heed my last behest,
It is writ in my will"—at the strange request
I looked in his eyes, they were stern but clear.

He added, as in defence of blame,
"It is but a stranger in disguise
We see, even when we look into eyes
That look into ours by one hearth-flame.
We are strangers all, and everywhere,
We know not the heart in any breast;
They know not us who love us best,
Each grave on earth is a stranger's lair."

___________________

 

 

A LIFE-LIKENESS.


SHE seems not the common dress
    Of our cumbrous clay to wear,
Such a transparent loveliness
    Veileth her spirit fair.

A mystic moonlight splendour
    About her floats and gleams,
From her visions pure and tender,
    And the glory of her dreams.

And a music flows about her
    In motion and in calm,
Half like a household lay of love,
    And half like a martyr's psalm.

The flesh her spirit folding
    Seems to spirit itself akin,
Like a crystal casket holding
    Wreathen jewels within;

Through which their glow is heightened,
    While it gleams with their radiant dyes,
Like the faith by suffering brightened
    In the diamond-deeps of her eyes.

Her pale brow's pearly whiteness
    With the light of meekness shines,
And her lips have drawn their brightness
    From her rich heart's ruby mines.

One wraps her about in his love, and folds
    Prayer-arms around her ever,
Knowing the casket frail he holds
    At the slightest shock will shiver.

He bears it over the rough of life,
    Holds it his heart above,
With ever a trembling in his joy
    And a sorrow in his love.

Ever near he knows the robber Death
    A-watch for his prize doth stand,
And even the frost of his icy breath
    May rend it in his hand.

___________________

 

 

THE ANGEL IN THE ROOM.


'TIS the figure of a fair
Angel-wingèd child,
Heavenly garments o'er her feet
Flowing undefiled;
Light, from whence we cannot trace,
Falling on her upturned face.

Eyes that worship, lips of peace,
Calm, unsmiling, sweet,
Brow with saintly wisdom meek,
Hands that lightly meet,
Crossing softly on her breast
As in prayer and holy rest.

'Tis a mortal child who stands
Thus transfigured there,
Who within that chamber once
Breathed the household air;
Now, as risen from the tomb,
Stands an angel in the room.

In the sunshine of the day,
In the twilight's gloom,
In the home-light's cheerful ray,
Standing in the room,
Looking with those heavenly eyes
Into open Paradise.

Here in lifetime she was glad
In her happy play;
Here upon her mother's lap
Breathed her soul away;
Here her little image lay,
Beautiful but lifeless clay.

And the artist father wrought,
In the spotless stone,
That fair image of the child
He had called his own—
Only, angel wings were given,
Since she took her flight to Heaven.

But his sorrow and his love,
And his yearning fond,
And his faith that soared above,
Hope that looked beyond
All had wrought to give that face
Its serene, angelic grace.

___________________

 

 

MARTIN AND KATE.


    "Bold as he was, there were moments when he had dark and painful misgivings, and would fain have rested quietly in the bosom of the Church."

    "As he and Catherine were walking in the garden one night, the stars shone with unusual brilliancy. 'What a brilliant light,' said Luther, 'but it burns not for us.'  'And why are we to be shut out of the kingdom of heaven?' asked Catherine.  'Perhaps,' said Luther, with a sigh, 'because we left our convents.' "—Prin. Tulloch's Life of Luther.

 

O KATE, my Kate, these crooked Hebrew letters
    Are wriggling through my brain!
Cramps hold my fingers in their devil's fetters
    With crushing grip of pain.

Give me your hand, Kate!   Come into the garden,
    And sit beneath our vine;
Smoothing the cramp-knots as they twist and harden
    With those soft palms of thine.

A flask of wine and my old lute bring hither;
    And in the evening calm,
Tasting God's goodness, we will sing together
    My own triumphal psalm.

Good is our God! good all his gifts transcending,
    And yet this ghastly doubt—
As with the smoke of torment never ending
    The stars are blotted out.

O Kate! my Kate! again my soul is sinking
    Into the pit of pain;
'Tis writ in mockery—see those star eyes winking—
    "God's kingdom doth remain."

Yes, it may be, because our convents quitting,
    We vowed, and did not pay,
That in the outer darkness we are sitting,
    The heaven-gates closed for aye.

Shall we return? shall they from prison driven
    Out into God's free air,
Back, because blinded by the light of Heaven,
    Return for refuge there?

God is our trust; His word of truth we cherish
    Through doubt and fear and pain ;
Down, Satan, down, even though His Word should perish,
    "His kingdom doth remain."

___________________

 

 

"THESE THREE."


No viewless angels by our side,
    With wings, but women sweet and good;
"These Three," indeed, with us abide,
    True types of womanhood.
Yea, I, in turn, have reached a hand
    To each one of the blessed three,
In one fair group, I've seen them stand—
    Faith, Hope, and Charity.

My Faith hath misty hair,—and eyes,
    You cannot fix their changing hue,
But all the world within them lies,
    And all the soul looks through.
Her voice doth make divinely sweet
    Each song of sorrow which she sings,
And saddest wisdom fills replete
    With heavenly comfortings.

My Hope is ruddy with the flush
    Of morning joy, that keeps its place,
Though day has darkened, and the rush
    Of rain is on her face.
Her clear eyes look afar, as bent
    On shining futures gathering in;
Nought seems too high for her intent,
    Too hard for her to win.

My Love hath eyes as blue and clear
    As clefts between the clouds of June,
A tender mouth whose smiles are near
    To tears that gather soon.
Her best and loveliest she takes,
    To light dark places;—wastes of life
She sows with precious seed that makes
    All richest blessings rife.

Faith, when my soul in darkness dwells,
    Shall sing her song throughout the night;
For each new effort life compels
    Hope's clasp shall nerve with might.
Love shall divide each grief of mine,
    Share every joy thus doubly given,
With each in turn life grows divine,
    With all it tastes of heaven.

___________________

 

 

BROTHERS.

-I-


Hard is the lot of the worker,
His heart had need he brave,
With death in life to wrestle
From the cradle to the grave.
Sternly the sorrows meet him
In the thick of the mortal fray;
But the night must serve for weeping—
Work must be done to-day.

 

HIGH rose the houses a great human hive,
Crowded from roof to base with busy life,
While in the stifling courts the children swarmed.
A chill, grey day died blank and colourless
Within the narrow walls that hedged a home,
Amid those close-pent dwellings, as out-worn
A twice-made mother, on the bed of birth,
Trembled her life away.
                                              The light was gone;
And the poor chamber held the pomp of death—
More awful than the majesty of kings—
Before set free from labour, to his home
The father came, and first there greeted him
Faint cries of new-found life, and then he passed
Into that silent presence.
                                                From his sight
The nurse, a simple neighbour, bore the babe
And left him with his sorrow and the night.
Low in a corner lay his little lad,
Whose seven blithe years had brought no bitterness
Like this bad day's: for never in his pain
Had she been pitiless; nor, until now,
Unanswering to his cries.   For he had cried
"I'm hungry," and she had not stretched her hands;
"I'm weary," and she drew him not to rest,
With touch of tender kisses on his hair.
Now, wearied out with weeping wilderment,
He slept.
                    Between the sleeping and the dead
The strong man bowed himself and took his place
To watch the night out.
                                             Covered, still, and white,
It lay—that awful burden—on the bed
He should have shared.   He did not lift the shroud
To look upon the lifeless face, or press
Its lips with unfelt kisses; did not stain
Its whiteness with a tear.   Beside him lay
Her one ring—worn throughout those wedded years,
From fingers stiffening in the clasp of death
Withdrawn; and as he gently lifted it,
A sudden strangeness fell on all his life,
And made it blank through all its soulless days,
But left, like hill-tops lifted thro' a flood,
The living hours of love.
                                               The boy awoke
And saw him sit there; slept, and woke again;
And there he sat and loomed out of the dark
Until he seemed a giant to the child.
The chequered moonlight fell across the floor,
Leaving the death-bed curtained by the dark
And awful mysteries of life and death,
Confused, impenetrable, undefined,
Hovered about the boy, and he would fain
Have called upon his father in the night,
But that he seemed a portion of the dread,
The unappeasable, appealless fate
That held him, and should hold him ever more.
Then he bethought him of his prayer, and said
"Our Father," and so slept until the dawn.
And in the faint dawn he was sitting there,
Who never once had drowsed nor drooped his head
Nor groaned for any anguish of his soul—
But when the morning sun looked in, he rose
With sweat-drops on his forehead.

 


-II-


He must serve needs of the body,
Let the soul's be served or not;
And work must be remembered
Though God should be forgot.
Yet if God were forgotten
By weary women and men,
To the earth, however guilty,
He would come a child again.

 

The boy was nursed and named—a northern name—
Ronald—the rush of battle on the hills
It seemed to echo by the hearth of peace.
The father gave the elder brother charge
To shut out strangers, keep the child from harm,
And feed the fire upon the winter's hearth.
Himself performed the menial offices
Which humble women for their households do:
While in his bosom slept the little one,
And woke the woman's nature in the man,
To do the woman's part, that if he stirred
Or moaned as infants moan in mournful dreams,
It roused him from the deepest sleep of toil,
New nerving every sense.
When summer came, Allan, the elder boy,
In a round bundle clasping Ronald fast,
Sat in a door-way in the steep old street
That thrid the thickest quarter of the town,
Yet went out freely to the breezy fields
That lay within the shadow of the hills.
Then, as his baby learned to walk and run,
Farther and farther he would lead him forth
Beyond the streets, in the thick meadow grass
To find bright golden buttercups and nests
Of daisies silver-fringed.
Then, having learned to read on winter nights,
He took the Pilgrim's Progress to the hills,
And read while little Ronald ran about,
Till hunger drove them home.   And as the days
Lengthened and brightened, he, with pockets filled
With bread with which to feed the ravenous babe—
Who cried because he might not eat the book—
Stayed all day long abroad among the hills:
The hills to him were meanings of the book:
He saw the sunset redden on the rocks,
And climbing to a point where he could watch
The sun sink on the plain, before him lay
The deep dark river in a belt of cloud,
While the great glory of the golden towers
Of the celestial city rose beyond.
And in the night, when drunken revel roused
The echoing street, the boy would lie awake,
And firm resolve to go on pilgrimage:
His father should go with him, Ronald too:
Did they not dwell within that fearful place,
The City of Destruction?   And at length
One stifling night, when the court gasped for breath
Wide-windowed, with a sudden thrilling cry,
There rose a rush of flame into the dark;
There fell a sparkling shower of crimson fire;
And all the gathering crowd amid the glare
Had demon faces.   In his wild affright,
With passionate tears he seized his father's hand,
Beseeching him to flee.   Then for a fool
His father chid him, while, with wild delight,
Ronald had clambered to his arms, and clapped
His tiny hands and shouted when the crowd
Scattered before the fall of burning brands.
On Sabbath, to their haunts among the hills,
Allan and Ronald hired their father forth:
There lying in the grass, he watched their play,
And learned at length to share it.   Ronald loved
To play at burial: o'er his prostrate form
To heap Lip blade and blossom, ruthless plucked,
And then to have his victim start to life,
Scattering the light load of the fragrant tomb.
Then o'er his heart a grateful sense of rest
And pleasant things provided all for play
Stole: and on intervals to rest there rose
Strange questionings from childish lips, that reached
Unto the height of heaven, and went out
To the unmeasured bounds of Universe,
Till the man marvelled, feeling in his breast
The child-heart half renewed.
                                                  When suddenly—
His little Ronald fever-smitten lay:
Moaning in suffering, or in passionate strength
Rising with crimson cheek and sparkling eyes,
And hot clenched hands that battled as for life,
To sink back spent and helpless.   How he watched:
He worked not, slept not.   He was almost fierce,
When, with unknowing eyes, the little one
Put him aside, and with a vehement clasp
Clung to his brother's neck.   At length the fire
Burned itself out, and in its ashes left
The feeblest spark of life.   The emaciate limbs
Lay quiet, and the thin blue veins spread cool
Over the wasted temples.   As he watched
That healing night pass over him, he cried,
"God give him back, and lead me thus to Thee."
So learned he what was in the Father's heart,
And having learned, changed places with the child:
The fever smote him, and he bowed his head
With a strange meekness.   A few days and nights
Confused and hurrying like his pulses faint,
Then a clear conscious passing of the soul
Through which the pang of parting keenly smote,
And the last hour was come.   The children slept:
He gave no blessing, breathed no sad farewell—
He too would sleep and leave the world to God.

 


-III-


Deep in the heart of the worker—
Too little understood—
Deep in the heart of the worker
Lies the sense of brotherhood.
Alone may sit the thinker,
And build his tower of thought;
The earth's hard stone and iron.
By many hands are wrought.

 

And from the hour when they woke fatherless,
There grew into the elder brother's life,
A deep and conscious sense of brotherhood—
That henceforth he must think, and toil, and bear,
For one who could not.   So he took his place
Among the workers where the hundred wheels
That seem to weave the web of fate go round.
And Ronald's nursing mother took the twain
To enrich herself, because she was so poor.
Thus patient years went on, and Ronald grew
Above his young companions, tall and strong;
And when at length it was his time to toil,
Went daily forth.   His singing, as he went,
Even when the streets were grey and desolate
On rainy mornings, woke the echoes up.
He was not selfish, yet was of the stuff
Through which that rust eats readiest; careless, gay,
With strong exuberant life; and most unlike
That pale and feeble brother, whose slight frame
Was swift to suffer, and whose keen-strung nerves
Would find a very torture of the wheel
At times amid the noises of the mill.
He lived on books, and with the dew of dreams
Cooled his hot thirst throughout the labouring day
While every night he drank a living draught
From some full fount of thought to feed his dreams,—
Night after night he sat down to the feast
Of knowledge, with the poet and the sage:
The old magician Science led him on
Beneath the strong foundations of the earth,
Through palaces enchanted, builded up
Invisibly, through ages; heaped with stores
Of treasures; floored with strange mosaic work
Of living forms extinguished: opened up
World upon world of wonder, order fair
Reigning through all; no loose disjointed dream,
But one vast, endless sequence and design,
Worthy the thought of God.
                                                       And Wisdom came
And showed her glorious beauty to the youth,
Who thenceforth vowed to serve her evermore,
His rightful queen, whose servants all are free;
Who freely must be chosen, crowned, obeyed,
Administ'ring the righteous laws of life,
All whose transgressors perish: are enslaved
By sin's strong fetters and the pangs of pain.
                                                Then he saw
His fellows working blindly in the yoke,
Becoming bond-slaves.   Where man serves the work,
And not the work the man; if he escapes,
The hounds of famine hunt him back again;
He lives but half his days, gives life itself
For th' lowest needs of life.
                                                  And sadder still
And sadder grew the spirit of the man
That yearned within him.   Barren if unshared
By these his fellows, seemed the richest fruit
Of wisdom.   Bitter even the bread of life.
And Ronald shared not with him, but roamed forth
In search of action, for each sense fresh roused,
After the long day's dull monotony;
Till, on one night, flushed face and wandering eye
Met the pale student at the midnight hour,
Telling of fierce temptation.   And a voice
Within him cried, commanding him to save.
And then arose a conflict in his soul
As from its depths an evil whisper rose—
"Am I my brother's keeper evermore?"
And then he knew his lonely dreams were vain,
And all his life seemed walled up by despair.
Therefore his books were closed for many days;
And Ronald, restless, and half conscience-struck,
Watched him and wondered that he did not speak;
Till, sitting with his face hid in his hands,
One night he muttered almost with a groan,
"If I had only strength to work it out!"
And Ronald, turning on the threshold, cried,
"See, I have strength; it is strength this I feel!
That drives me out each night to meet with men,
Yet where's the use of it?   I wish I were
The great blind wheel that sets the mill to work.
I know not what to do."
                                            "Do this and live,"
Rose like a prophet's speech to Allan's lips;
And they, though drifting more and more apart,
Drew near and were at one as head and hand
As he unfolded what had been his thought
These many days.   That fellow-workers might
So work together for their common weal;
So pour together in a common store
Those sacred gains of labour, which are life,
As to become the masters of themselves,
Masters and lords of their own heritage
Of labour.   And the work inspired the youth,
And going forth he gathered soon a band
Of eager fellow-workers.   And the plan
Prospered, until the people owned the mill,
And not the mill the people.
                                                        And new life
Came to the dreamer, for his dream had birth
Into the living world.   And through it men
Began to rise full furnished and complete.
In all that makes the man, in strength and love;
In knowledge and in wisdom and in worth.

___________________

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