The Argosy, 1866 (1)

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SAND-MARTINS.


I PASSED an inland cliff precipitate:
    From tiny caves peeped many a sooty poll;
In each a mother martin sat elate,
    And of the news delivered her small soul.

Fantastic chatter! hasty, glad, and gay,
    Whereof the meaning was not ill to tell;—
"Gossip, how wags the world with you to-day?"
    "Gossip, the world wags well, the world wags well."

And listening, I was sure their little ones
    Were in the bird-talk, and discourse was made
Concerning hot sea-flights, and tropic suns,
    For a clear sultriness the tune conveyed;—

And visions of the sky as of a cup
    Hailing down light on pagan Pharaoh's sand,
And quivering air-waves trembling up and up,
    And blank stone-faces marvellously bland;—

When should the young be fledged, and with them hie
    Where costly day drops down in crimson light;
(Fortunate countries of the fire-fly,
    Swarm with blue diamonds all the sultry night,

And the immortal moon takes turn with them);—
    When should they pass again by that red land
Where lovely mirage works a broidered hem
    To fringe with phantom palms a robe of sand;—

When should they dip their breasts again and play
    In slumberous azure pools clear as the air,
Where rosy-winged flamingoes fish all day,
    Stalking amid the lotus-blossoms fair;—

Then over podded tamarinds bear their flight,
    While cassias feed the wind with spiceries;
And so betake them to a south sea-bight,
    To gossip in the crowns of cocoa-trees

Whose roots are in the spray.   O haply there,
    Some dawn—white-wingèd, they might chance to
        find
A frigate standing in to make more fair
    The loneliness unaltered of mankind:

A frigate come to water.   Nuts would fall,
    And nimble feet would climb the flower-flushed
        strand,
And northern talk would ring, and therewithal
    The martins would desire the cool north land,

And all would be as it had been before.
    Again at eve there would be news to tell;
Who passed should hear them chant it o'er and o'er,
    "Gossip, how wags the world?"  "Well, Gossip,
        well!"


JEAN INGELOW.

 

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ON BOARD THE ARGOSY.


OUR thoughts are ships that go,
Blown by a breath, and with their fit words freighted,
All up and down the world; we never know,
When we have sent them forth, if they are fated
To find a haven, or to sink below
Oblivion's waters that about them flow;
Whether they'll come again, with riches weighted,
Having made merchandize
With other thoughts—exchange that duly rated
Each gives yet gains the prize—
Or running swift aground,
Be left amid the ooze to drift and flounder;
Or unseaworthy found
In the first stress of weather leak and founder.

Our thoughts are ships; some ply
A safe and simple trade in common things,
Creeping about the coasts of certainty,
And borne upon the tide that duly brings,
Sleeping and waking, needs, necessities:
This little coasting trade let none despise,
None may dispense with it, and so it should
Teach us the virtues of good neighbourhood,
And fetch and carry daily charities.

Some venture farther forth,
To realms remote, still for no doubtful gain:
From east to west, from south to utmost north,
To make man free of earth, his fair domain;
Such commerce one great nation makes of men,
The world their city, each a citizen.

Our thoughts are ships that track
The unknown—that ocean of immensity,
Watched by eternal stars—and few there be
That from the first horizon turn not back;
Yet some have bravely gone
Hoping new heavens and a new earth to find,
Like him who in his glorious dreams divined
Half of the world lay hid, and on and on
Held with the sunsets through the pathless seas,
And saw the land at length—such dreams as these
Conquer the kingdoms of realities.

The wonder-land of dreams!
Our thoughts are ships, the only ships, that sail
On its enchanted streams.
And when day's last light dims,
And the moon's hollow boat of silver pall
To westward dancing swims;
Or steers through white cloud billows,
Or through the shadowy willows,
In a magic light of the water's birth
That is neither of heaven, nor yet of earth,
A floating phantom gleams.
And the dream-boat glides and we glide with it,
And we seem to sit as one might sit
In the hollow of the moon reclining,
As it moves o'er the hills and the rivers shining.

And in that marvel land
Changed are all things, as by enchanter's wand;
Near are the heavenly things that were afar,
The things that were not are.
Far sweeter is its sadness—
And the winds there are woven out of sighs—
Than any earthly gladness.
The love there never dies—
And it is full of laughters,
And song floats on its airs,
And it hath no despairs,
But heavens of hereafters.

Our Argonauts are still
The seër, and the singer, and the sage;
Our Mopsus and our Idmon still engage
Nature and Destiny interpreting
To utter things to come, and have the skill
To know the speech of birds;
And wonder-working words
Still wound, and heal, and make alive, and kill;
The Healer still we take
For leader, he who from his stores can bring
Fresh draughts the spirit's fever thirst to slake;
Or can that essence make
Wisdom's elixir vitæ, yet distilled
By some rare souls, with life's true knowledge filled.

And though our Argosy
Moves not to music o'er a charmëd strand
Nor golden fleece, on serpent-guarded tree,
Tempt us to visit famed or fabled land;
Nor silver-footed lady of the sea
Rises to help us in our straits, yet we
Launch forth in hope, in these despairing days
Launch bravely forth and hope new orphics yet to raise.


ISA CRAIG.

 

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HERMIONÉ.


WHENEVER I wander, up and about,
This is the puzzle I can't make out—
Because I care little for books, no doubt:

I have a Wife, and she is wise,
    Deep in philosophy, strong in Greek;
Spectacles shadow her pretty eyes,
    Coteries rustle to hear her speak;
She writes a little—for love, not fame;
Has published a book with a dreary name;
    And yet (God bless her!) is mild and meek.
And how I happened to woo and wed
    A wife so pretty and wise withal
Is part of the puzzle that fills my head—
Plagues me at daytime, racks me in bed,
    Haunts me, and makes me appear so small.
The only answer that I can see
Is—I could not have married Hermioné
(That is her fine wise name), but she
Stoop's in her wisdom and married me.

For I am a fellow of no degree,
Given to romping and jollity;
The Latin they thrashed into me at school
    The world and its fights have thrashed away:
At figures alone I am no fool,
    And in City circles I say my say.
But I am a dunce at twenty-nine,
And the kind of study that I think fine
Is a chapter of Dickens, a sheet of the Times,
    When I lounge, after work, in my easy-chair;
Punch for humour, and Praed for rhymes,
    And the butterfly mots blown here and there
    By the idle breath of the social air.
A little French is my only gift,
Wherewith at times I can make a shift,
Guessing at meanings, to flutter over
A filigree tale in a paper cover.

Hermioné, my Hermioné!
What could your wisdom perceive in me?
And, Hermioné, my Hermioné!
How does it happen at all that we
Love one another so utterly?
Well, I have a bright-eyed boy of two,
    A darling who cries with lung and tongue
         about:
As fine a fellow, I swear to you,
    As ever poet of sentiment sung about!
And my lady-wife with the serious eyes
    Brightens and lightens when he is nigh,
And looks, although she is deep and wise,
    As foolish and happy as he or I!
And I have the courage just then, you see,
    To kiss the lips of Hermioné
Those learnëd lips that the learnëd praise—
And to clasp her close as in sillier days;
To talk and joke in a frolic vein,
    To tell her my stories of things and men;
And it never strikes me that I'm profane,
For she laughs and blushes and kisses again,
    And, presto! fly! goes her wisdom then!
For Boy claps hands, and is up on her breast,
    Roaring to see her so bright with mirth,
And I know she deems me (O the jest!)
The cleverest fellow on all the earth!

And Hermioné, my Hermioné,
Nurses her boy and defers to me;
Does not seem to see I'm small—
Even to think me a dunce at all!
And wherever I wander, up and about,
Here is the puzzle I can't make out:
That Hermioné, my Hermioné,
In spite of her Greek and philosophy,
When sporting at night with her boy and me,
Seems sweeter and wiser, I assever—
Sweeter and wiser, and far more clever,
And makes me feel more foolish than ever,
Through her childish, girlish, joyous grace,
And the silly pride in her learnëd face!

That is the puzzle I can't make out—
Because I care little for books, no doubt;
But the puzzle is pleasant, I know not why,
    For, whenever I think of it, night or morn,
I thank my God she is wise, and I
    The happiest fool that was ever born!


R. B.

 

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CIVITAS DEI.


THE roads are long and rough, with many a bend,
                            But always tend
    To that Eternal City, and the home
Of all our footsteps, let them haste or creep
                That city is not Rome.
            Great Rome is but a heap
        Of shards and splinters lying in a field
                Where children of to-day
                Among the fragments play,
And for themselves in turn new cities build

                That City's gates and towers
Know nothing of the earth's all-famous flags;
        It hash its own wide region, its own air.
        Our kings, our lords, our mighty warriors
                Are not known there.
        The wily pen, the cannon's fierce report,
                        Fall very short.

        Where is it?   Tell who can.
    Ask all the best geographers' advice.
        'Tis builded in no valley of Japan
    Or secret Asia, nor in isle unfound
        As yet, nor in a region calm and warm,
                Enclosed from every storm,
    Within the magical and monstrous bound
                        Of polar ice.

        Where is it? Who can tell?
                        Yet surely know,
    Whatever land or city you may claim
                        And count as yours,
            From otherwhere you came,
            Elsewhither must you go;
Ev'n to a City with foundations low
    As Hell, with battlements Heaven-high,
Which is eternal; and its place and name
                        Are mystery.


WILLIAM ALLINGHAM.

 

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THE EARL O' QUARTERDECK.
A NEW OLD BALLAD.


THE wind it blew, and the ship it flew;
    And it was "Hey for hame!
And ho for hame!"   But the skipper cried,
    "Haud her oot o'er the saut sea faem."

Then up and spoke the king himsel':
    "Haud on for Dumferline!"
Quo the skipper, "Ye're king upo' the land—
    I'm king upo' the brine."

And he took the helm intil his hand,
    And he steered the ship sae free;
Wi' the wind astarn, he crowded sail,
    And stood right out to sea.

Quo the king, "There's treason in this, I vow;
    This is something underhand!
'Bout ship!"   Quo the skipper "Yer grace forgets
    Ye are king but o' the land!"

And still he held to the open sea;
    And the east wind sank behind;
And the wast had a bitter word to say,
    Wi' a white-sea-roarin' wind.

And he turned her head into the north.
    Said the king: "Gar fling him o'er."
Quo the fearless skipper: "It's a' ye're worth!
    We'll ne'er see Scotland more."

The king crept down the cabin-stair,
    To drink the gude French wine.
And up she came, his daughter fair,
    And luikit ower the brine.

She turned her face to the drivin' hail,
    To the hail but and the weet;
Her snood it brak, and, as lang's hersel',
    Her hair drave out i' the sleet.

She turned her face frame the drivin' win'
    "What's that ahead?" quo she.
The skipper he threw himsel' frae the win',
    And he drove the helm a-lee.

"Put to yer hand, my lady fair!
    Put to yer hand," quo' he;
"Gin she dinna face the win' the mair,
    It's the waur for you and me."

For the skipper kenned that strength is strength,
    Whether woman's or man's at last.
To the tiller the lady she laid her han',
    And the ship laid her cheek to the blast.

For that slender body was full o' soul,
    And the will is mair than shape ;
As the skipper saw when they cleared the berg,
    And he heard her quarter scrape.

Quo the skipper: "Ye are a lady fair,
    And a princess grand to see;
But ye are a woman, and a man wad sail
    To hell in yer company."

She liftit a pale and a queenly face;
    Her een flashed, and syne they swam.
"And what for no to heaven?" she says,
    And she turned awa' frae him.

But shoe took na her han' frae the good ship's
         helm,
    Until the day did daw;
And the skipper he spak, but what he said
    It was said atween them twa.

And then the good ship, she lay to,
    With the land far on the lee;
And up came the king upo' the deck,
    Wi' wan face and bluidshot ee.

The skipper he louted to the king:
    "Gae wa', gae wa'," said the king.
Said the king, like a prince, "I was a' wrang,
    Put on this ruby ring."

And the wind blew lowne, and the stars cam
         oot,
    And the ship turned to the shore;
And, afore the sun was up again,
    They saw Scotland ance more.

That day the ship hung at the pier-heid,
    And the king he stept on the land.
"Skipper, kneel down," the king he said,
    "Hoo daur ye afore me stand?"

The skipper he louted on his knee,
    The king his blade he drew:
Said the king, "How daured ye contre me?
    I'm aboard my ain ship noo.

"I canna mak ye a king," said he,
    "For the Lord alone can do that;
And besides ye took it intil yer ain han',
    And crooned yersel' sae pat!

"But wi' what ye will I redeem my ring
    For ance I am at your beck.
And first, as ye loutit Skipper o' Doon,
    Rise up Yerl o' Quarterdeck."

The skipper he rose and looked at the king
    In his een for all his croon;
Said the skipper, "Here is yer grace's ring,
    And yer daughter is my boon."

The reid blude sprang into the king's face—
    A wrathful man to see:
"The rascal loon abuses our grace;
    Gae hang him upon yon tree."

But the skipper he sprang aboard his ship,
    And he drew his biting blade;
And he struck the chain that held her fast,
    But the iron was ower weel made.

And the king he blew a whistle loud;
    And tramp, tramp, down the pier,
Cam' twenty riders on twenty steeds,
    Clankin' wi' spur and spear.

"He saved your life!" cried the lady fair;
    "His life ye daurna spill!"
"Will ye come atween me and my hate?"
    Quo the lady, "And that I will!"

And on cam the knights wi' spur and spear,
    For they heard the iron ring.
"Gin ye care na for yer father's grace,
    Mind ye that I am the king."

"I kneel to my father for his grace,
    Right lowly on my knee;
But I stand and look the king in the face,
    For the skipper is king o' me."

She turned and she sprang upo' the deck,
    And the cable splashed in the sea.
The good ship spread her wings sae white,
    And away with the skipper goes she.

Now was not this a king's daughter,
    And a brave lady beside?
And a woman with whom a man might sail
    Into the heaven wi' pride?

 

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ARTIST AND MODEL:
A LONDON POEM.


IS it not pleasant to wander
    In town on Saturday night,
While people go hither and thither,
    And shops shed cheerful light?
And, arm in arm, while our shadows
    Chase us along the panes,
Are we not quite as cozy
    As down among country lanes?

Nobody knows us, heeds us,
    Nobody hears or sees,
And the shop-lights gleam more gladly
    Than the moon on hedges and trees;
And people coming and going,
    All upon ends of their own,
Though they work a spell on the spirit,
    Make it more finely alone.

The sound seems harmless and pleasant
    As the murmur of brook and wind;
The shops with the fruit and the pictures
    Have sweetness to suit my mind;—
And nobody knows us, heeds us,
    And our loving none reproves,—
I, the poor figure-painter!
    You, the lady he loves!

And what if the world should scorn you,
    For now and again, as you do,
Assuming a country kirtle,
    And bonnet of straw thereto,
Or the robe of a vestal virgin,
    Or a nun's grey gaberdine,
And keeping a brother and sister
    By standing and looking divine?

And what if the world, moreover,
    Should silently pass me by,
Because, at the dawn of the struggle,
    I labour some stories high!
Why, there's comfort in waiting, working,
    And feeling one's heart beat right,—
And rambling alone, love-making,
    In London on Saturday night.

For when, with a blush Titianic,
    You peept in that lodging of mine,
Did I not praise the good angels
    For sending a model so fine?
When I was fill'd with the pureness
    You brought to the lonely abode,
Did I not learn to love you?
    And—did Love not lighten the load?

And haply, indeed, little darling,
    While I yearn'd and plotted and planned,
And you watch'd me in love and in yearning,
    Your heart did not quite understand
All the wonder and aspiration
    You meant by your loveliness,
All the faith in the frantic endeavour
    Your beautiful face could express!

For your love and your beauty have thriven
    On things of a low degree,
And you do not comprehend clearly
    The drift of a dreamer like me;
And perchance, when you lookt so divinely,
    You meant, and meant only, to say:
"How sad that he dwells in a garret!
    And lives on so little a day!"

What of that?   If your sweetness and beauty,
    And the love that is part of thee,
Was mirror'd in wilder visions,
    And express'd much more to me,
Did the beautiful face, my darling,
    Need subtler, loftier lore?—
Nay, beauty is all our wisdom,—
    We painters demand no more.

Indeed, I had been no painter,
    And never could hope to rise,
Had I lack'd the power of creating
    The meanings for your sweet eyes;
And what you were really thinking,
    Scarcely imported, in sooth,—
Since the truth we artists fail for,
    Is the truth that looks the truth.

Your beautiful face was before me,
    Set in its golden hair;
And the wonder and love and yearning
    Were shining sublimely there!
And your eyes said—"Work for glory!
    Up, up, where the angels call!"
And I understood, and I labour'd,
    And I love the face for it all!

I am talking, you think, so strangely!
    And you watch with wondering eyes!—
Could I utter one half of the yearning
    Your face, even now, implies!
But the yearning will not be utter'd,
    And never, ah! never can be,
Till the work of the world is over,
    And we see, as the angels see.

Yet bless thee for ever, my darling,
    For keeping me humble and true!
And would that my Art could utter
    The wisdom I find in you!
Enough to labour and labour,
    And feel one's heart beat right!
And to wander thus, love-making,
    In London on Saturday night!

You think: "How dearly I love him!
    How dearly he loves me!
How sweet to live on, and love him,
    With children at my knee!
With the useless labour over,
    And comfort and leisure won,
And clever people praising
    The work that he has done!"

I think: "How dearly I love her!
    How dearly she loves me!
Yet the beauty the heart would utter
    Endeth in agony;
And life is a climbing, a seeking
    Of something we never can see!
And death is a slumber, a dreaming
    Of something that may not be!"

And your face is sweetly troubled,
    Your little hand stirs on mine own,
For you guess at a hidden meaning,
    Since I speak in so tender a tone;
And you rain the yearning upon me
    You brought to my help before,
And I ask no mightier wisdom,—
    We painters demand no more.

And we shall live, my darling,
    Together till we grow old,
And people will buy my pictures,
    And you shall gather the gold,
And your loveliness will reward me,
    And sanctify all I do,
And toiling for Love's sake, darling,
    I may toil for Fame's sake, too.

Ah, dearest, how much you teach me,
    How much of hope and of light,
Up yonder, planning and painting,
    And here on Saturday night;
And I turn sad eyes no longer
    From the pageant that passes around,
And the vision no more seems weary,
    And the head may yet be crown'd!

And I ask no more from mortals
    Than your beautiful face implies,—
The beauty the artist, beholding,
    Interprets and sanctifies.
Who says that men have fallen,
    That life is wretched and rough?
I say, the world is lovely,
    And that loveliness is enough.

So my doubting days are ended,
    And the labour of life seems clear;
And life hums deeply around me,
    Just like the murmurs here,
And quickens the sense of living,
    And shapes me for peace and storm,—
And dims my eyes with gladness
    When it glides into colour and form!

His form and His colour, darling,
    Are all we apprehend,
Though the meaning that underlies them
    May be utter'd in the end;
And I seek to go no deeper
    Than the beauty and wonder there,
Since the world can look so wondrous,
    And your face can look so fair.

For ah! life's stream is bitter,
    When too greedily we drink,
And I might not be so happy,
    If I knew quite all you think;
And when God takes much, my darling,
    He leaves us the colour and form,—
The scorn of the nations is bitter,
    But the touch of a hand is warm!

Thank God, that the soul is silent!
    Its depths so dark to the sight,
That none may smile at its secrets,
    Or fathom its meaning quite;
For thence is the rapture, darling,
    That, wherever fair things be,
We confess our own soul's yearning,
    And create the spirit we see.

Do I puzzle you still?   Then, darling,
    Step hither, where few go by:
You comprehend, now I kiss you,
    As much of it all as I!
And, arm in arm, while our shadows
    Chase us along the panes,
Are we not quite as cozy
    As down among country lanes?


ROBERT BUCHANAN.

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THE FUTURE.


A FIGURE wanders through my dreams
    And wears a veil upon its face,
Still bending to my breast it seems
    Yet ever turns from my embrace;
And sometimes, passing from my sight,
    It lifts the veil as it departs
And shows me eyes of such a light
    As never dawned on waking hearts.

There is no need of sound or speech,
    Or toiling through the troubled years,
The rapture of that smile can teach
    More than a century of tears.
And this I know, if it could move
    Out of my dreams into my days,
One service of unbroken love
    Should fill and crown my life with praise:

Love, with no doubts and no demands,
    But generous as a southern June,—
Vast brotherhood of hearts and hands,
    Choir of a world in perfect tune;
No shallow sunset-films to gild
    Far summits which we dare not climb,
But ceaseless charms of Hope fulfilled,
    Making a miracle of Time.

How sure, how calm, the picture seems!
    How near it comes, beheld, possest!
And is it only in my dreams
    I feel that touch upon my breast?
It thrills me through the barren day,
    It holds me in the heart of strife,
No phantom grasp that flits away—
    It seems, it is, the touch of Life!

We look into the heart of flowers,
    And wonder whence their bloom can rise—
The secret hope of human hours
    Is hidden deeper from our eyes;
In helpless tracts of wind and rain,
    The work goes on without a sound,
And while you weep your weak "In vain!"
    The flower is growing underground.

We know the lesson, but a cry,
    Bitter and great, is in our ears;
One life of fruitless miserly
    Shakes all our wisdom into tears.
Then scorn my thought, my hope, and say,
    "Beholds what is—forsake what seems!"
I can but answer, "Well-a-day,
    There is that Figure in my dreams!"


M. B. S.

 

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FAIR PLAY.


A MAD game, my masters!
    Played under the moon;
The sun, round and red,
    Was bowled over too soon
For the match to be won
    In the short afternoon.

A mad game, my masters!
    Away the ball spins,
With rushing and shouting
    And kicking of shins;
Hard to tell, in the pell-mell,
    Who loses, who wins.

A mad game, my masters!
    But all cry "Fair play,"
"Hold hard," and "No tripping,"
    In thick of the fray,
And take the kicks kindly
    That come in their way.

A mad game, my masters!
    The crush is complete;
Each struggles to win,
    And all suffer defeat,
While the ball lies at rest
    Within reach of their feet.

A mad game, my masters!
    Played over the ice,
Which creaks with each rush,
    And may crack in a trice—
Well —life has some games
    That are never played twice.

"A mad world, my masters!"
    Let's stick, in beginning,
To the rules of the game,
    Whether losing or winning;
Fair play, and no malice,
    Will keep the ball spinning.


ISA CRAIG.

 

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WHO SHALL DELIVER ME?


GOD strengthen me to bear myself;
That heaviest weight of all to bear,
Inalienable weight of care.

All others are outside myself;
I lock my door and bar them out,
The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.

I lock my door upon myself,
And bar them out; but who shall wall
Self from myself, most loathed of all?

If I could once lay down myself,
And start self-purged upon the race
That all must run!   Death runs apace.

If I could set aside myself,
And start with lightened heart upon
The road by all men overgone!

God harden me against myself,
This coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease, and rest, and joys:

Myself, arch-traitor to myself;
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,
My clog whatever road I go.

Yet One there is can curb myself,
Can roll the strangling load from me,
Break off the yoke and set me free.


CHRISTINA G. ROSSETTI.

 

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THE LADDER OF FAME.
AN ALLEGORY.


I ONCE saw the Ladder of Fame,
    It stood o'er a ditch full of slime,
At its foot were the halt and the lame,
    And strong men were striving to climb.
And all eyes were fixed upon one,
    Whose triumph shone out in his face;
And they spoke of the deeds he had done,
    And he still appeared rising apace.
But his triumph soon changed into doubt,
    And he looked round amazed and perplext;
For a stave of the ladder was out,
    And he couldn't reach up to the next.
So he sought inspiration from Love;
    I scarcely could catch what he said,
When "a brother" who stood just above,
    Turned and struck him a blow on the head.
At this, there arose a loud cry,
    And two ill-looking men—Jones and Brown—
Who stood on the ladder close by,
    Endeavoured to hustle him down.
But his grasp was so stubborn and tight,
    That his knuckles were rapped all in vain;
And he sent out his feet left and right
    Till his enemies writhed with their pain.
Then one cried aloud, "It were base
    For the man to be driven to yield!
Let us succour his sorrowful case."
    But alas! all in vain he appealed,
For the people cried, "Give it him, Brown!"
    And pelted the poor man with stones,
And scoffed at his hopes of renown,
    And cheered on the efforts of Jones.
Then Brown seized him fast by the feet,
    And Jones said, "We'll teach him who's who!"
And "the brother" proclaimed him a cheat,
    While the little boys shouted "Buzzoo!"
And the wiseacres seeing him prest,
    Talked loudly of "pride and its fall,"
And "the notions some people possest,
    "It didn't surprise them at all:
"They knew he would never get up,
    "His place was with them down below;
"The silly, conceited young pup,
    "They saw it a long time ago!"
And those whom he fancied his friends
    Now joined with the others who jeered,
And tried hard to thwart all this ends,
    But the little man still persevered;
And his face grew uncommonly red,
    When, I noticed, Love lent him a switch,
Which he very soon swung round his head,
    And Brown and Jones splashed in the ditch.
Then Love lent him wings, and he flew,
    With proud flashing eyes and bent brow;
And "the brother so faithful and true"
    Was quickly hurled headlong below.
At this there arose a great shout,
    And they lauded him up to the skies;
For now there could not be a doubt
    That he would continue to rise.
And they said that the man for the time
    Was Robinson—(that was his name),
A man who was certain to climb
    To the top of the Ladder of Fame!
Then Robinson took off his hat,
    And bowed with his hand on his breast;
And the people cheered loudly at that,
    And Brown and Jones cheered with the rest.
Then lots of folks helped him along,
    And gaily he sped on his way;
And "the brother" confessed himself wrong,
    While the little boys shouted "Hooray!"
And the wiseacres looked very wise,
    And said, with his courage and wit
Of course he was certain to rise,
    And they weren't astonished a bit!
They had watched him since first he began,
    And nothing could keep him below,
For he was a wonderful man!
    They said so a long time ago.
Now, my friend, whosoe'er you may be,
    I think you will surely discern,
Without any prompting from me
    The lesson I'd have you to learn.
Of that there can scarce be a doubt,
    But I hope you won't take it amiss
If, for dull people's sakes, I point out
    That the moral I aim at is this:—
If your lot in this life should be hard,
    Men will treat you with scorn and neglect;
For they always mete out their regard
    By the credit that yours will reflect.
While you till your poor acre alone,
    They will mock as they sit and carouse;
When your wide fields are harrowed and sown,
    They will hasten to lend you their ploughs.
If your foes should be thoroughly thrashed,
    They will see your success with delight;
But if your own head should get smashed,
    Their verdict will be "Serve you right!"
For how noble soever your plan,
    The world lays it down as a rule—
"To succeed is to be a great man,
    To fail is to be a great fool!"


WILLIAM HENRY HARWOOD.

 

______________________

 
IF.


IF he would come to-day, to-day, to-day,
    O, what a day to-day would be!
But now he's away, miles and miles away
    From me across the sea.

O, little bird, flying, flying, flying
    To your nest in the warm west,
Tell him as you pass that I am dying,
    As you pass home to your nest.

I have a sister, I have a brother,
    A faithful hound, a tame white dove;
But I had another, once I had another,
    And I miss him, my love, my love!

In this weary world it is so cold, so cold,
    While I sit here all alone;
I would not like to wait and to grow old,
    But just to be dead and gone.

Make me fair when I lie dead on my bed,
    Fair where I am lying:
Perhaps he may come and look upon me dead—
    He for whom I am dying.

Dig my grave for two, with a stone to show it,
    And on the stone write my name:
If he never comes, I shall never know it,
    But sleep on all the same.


CHRISTINA G. ROSSETTI.

 

______________________

 
JOHN BOHUN MARTIN,
CAPTAIN OF "THE LONDON."


KEEPING his word, the promised Roman kept
Enough of worded breath to live till now.
Our Regulus was free of plighted vow
Or tacit debt: skies fell, seas leapt, storms swept;
Death yawned: with a mere step he might have stept
To life.   But the House-master would know how
To do the master's honours: and did know,
And did them to the hour of rest, and slept
The last of all his house.   O, thou heart's-core
Of Truth, how will the nations sentence thee?
Hark! as loud Europe cries "Could man do more?"
Great England lifts her head from her distress,
And answers "But could Englishman do less?"
Ah England! goddess of the years to be!


SYDNEY DOBELL.

Florence, Feb. 1866.

 

______________________

 
TOO LATE.


AY, I saw her, we have met,—
    Married eyes how sweet they be.
Are you happier, Margaret,
    Than you might have been with me?
Silence! make no more ado!—
    Did she think I should forget?
Matters nothing, though I knew,
    Margaret, Margaret.

Once those eyes, full sweet, full shy,
    Told a certain thing to mine;
What they told me I put by,
    O, so careless of the sign.
Such an easy thing to take
    And I did not want it then;
Fool!   I wish my heart would break,
    Scorn is hard on hearts of men.

Scorn of self is bitter work,
    Each of us has felt it now,
Bluest skies she counted mirk,
    Self-betrayed of eyes and brow;
As for me, I went my way,
    And a better man drew nigh,
Fain to earn, with long essay,
    What the winner's hand threw by.

Matters not in deserts old,
    What was born, and waxed, and yearned,
Year to year its meaning told,
    I am come—its deeps are learned—
Come, but there is nought to say,—
    Married eyes with mine have met.
Silence!   O, I had my day,
    Margaret, Margaret.


JEAN INGELOW.

 

______________________

 
CAPE USHANT.
A BALLAD.


OUR ship, the stout Bellerophon,
    Off Rochefort Harbour lay:
We took a passenger on board,
    And slowly sail'd away.
Seven days and nights, with baffling winds,
    We strove to fetch Tor Bay.

The eighth day, with the rising sun,
    A morning in July,
French land upon our starboard bow
    We plainly could descry,

When I, a little middy,
    (It's fifty years ago)
Came up, to take my watch on deck,
    Into the early glow.

Magnificently rose the sun
    Above the hills of France,
And spread his splendour on the sea,
    And through the sky's expanse.

Meanwhile upon the poop, alone,
    Our passenger stood there,
And view'd the gently gliding land
    In clearest morning air,—
The cliff of Ushant, and the slopes
    Of shadowy Finisterre.

"Ushant?" he ask'd,—and I replied,
    "Yes, Sire."   Whereon he raised
His little pocket-telescope,
    And gazed, and ever gazed.

For hours and hours he hardly moved
    And if his eyes grew dim,
We never saw it; there he stood,
    And none went near to him.

Till with a faint and fickle wind
    We drew from off the coast,
And in a noontide haze of heat
    France faded and was lost.

Napoleon's thoughts in that last look
    It were but vain to seek;
Enough he had to think upon,
    If he had gazed a week.

And sometimes from his rock, perhaps,
    He saw, amid the shine
Of lonely waves, Cape Ushant's ghost
    Upon the dim sea-line.


W. ALLINGHAM.

[The anecdote is given in Memoirs of an Aristocrat, by a
 Midshipman of the Bellerophon.]

 

______________________

 
IN LONDON, MARCH 1866.


TO-DAY the streets are dull and dreary,
    Heavily, slowly, the Rain is falling,
I hear around me, and am weary,
    The people murmuring and calling;
The gloomy room is full of faces,
    Firelight shadows are on the floor,
And the deep Wind cometh from country places,
    And the Rain hath a voice I would hear no more.
        Ah weary days of windy weather!
            And will the Rain cease never, never!
        A summer past we sat together,
            In that lost life that lives for ever!

 If yonder, where the clouds part slowly,
    The face for which my soul is sighing
Should smile upon me, I should solely
    Cover my face in terror, crying;—
He nurst his boy in days departed
    In such a firelight long ago,
And I am dull and human-hearted,
    And 'tis hard to feel that he loved me so.
        Ah! weary days of windy weather!
            And will the Rain cease never, never
        A summer past we sat together,
            In that lost life that lives for ever!

Ah! sad and slow the Rain is falling,—
    And singing on seems sad without him!
Ah! wearily the wind is calling!
    Would that mine arms were round about him
For the world rolls on with air and ocean
    Wetly and windily round and round,
And sleeping he feeleth the sad still motio
    And dreameth of me, tho' his sleep be sound!
        Ah! weary days of windy weather!
            And will the Rain cease never, never!
        A summer past we sat together,
            In that lost life that lives for ever!

I sing, because my heart is aching,
    With hollow sounds around me ringing
Ah! nevermore shall he awaking
    Yearn to the Singer and the Singing
Yet sleep, my father, calm and breathless,
    And if thou dreamest, dream on in joy
While over thy grave walks Love the deathless,
    Stir in the darkness and bless thy boy!
        Ah! weary days of windy weather!
            And will the Rain cease never, never!
        A summer past we sat together,
            In that lost life that lives for ever!


ROBERT BUCHANAN.

 

______________________

 
A SPRING CHANSON.


TO the amber east the happy merle
    From tree-top whistles clear—
"What Love is to young man and girl
    Spring-time is to the year."
While in the wind the poplar bent
    Like a torch of emerald flame;
'Neath the flowering currants' coloured light
    A brilliant chaffinch came:
And he hardly alit, ere away he flew
In a twinkle of yellow, green, and blue,
And when I saw him, I knew, I knew
That Spring, bringing favour to bird and beast,
    Mosses to thatches of cottage and shed,
Iris to mirrors of morning dew,
Sunset colours to west, sunrise colours to east,
    New green to old furrows of churchyard dead,
Would bring an ode to the poet too,
Or a chanson at the least.

When Spring came to my garden
    (The wintry world's retriever!)
The crocuses stood in their ranks, like a guard
    Of honour to receive her.
And now in Spring's inconstant smile,
    In Spring's inconstant light,
One rebus bush is a rosy cloud,
    Its neighbour a cloud of white.
The ivies have clomb o'er the cottage rafter:
    The gummy buds of the chestnut glitter:
    On the southern wall I mark a titter,
Of bloom—in a month, or so, hereafter
'Twill be all covered o'er with a blossoming
         laughter,
    And the ground beneath an exquisite litter
Of shed pink and white—and I know who
    Will then sit in the noon, the patientest knitter
(My dearest, my dearest, who is it but you!)
Sunshine-kissed, blossom-powdered; and, while
        the wind blows
    Warm and warmer, around her the hyacinth swells
    To break into clusters of coralline bells,
Princess rose-bud, green-hooded, to open to rose.

 

In the Spring-time's lovely thronging
Lurk a sacred thirst and longing.
Every deep earth-hidden root
Yearns to turn to flower and fruit;
Every hen-bird east and west
Pines for eggs beneath her breast;
On all harmless creeping things
Comes desire of painted wings;
And the brightest vision hovers
In the eyes of happy lovers;
The burst of apple-blossom brave
Hides the newly-mounded grave;
The voice of happy bird in brake
Soothes the oft-recurring ache.
Springs is breathing through my hair,
Spring is smiling in the air;
And in her deep delight I share
    With far-removèd things—
The solitary-mining mole,
The lark, a disembodied soul
    That, lost in heaven, sings.

Oh Spring that bids the crocus
    Uplift its coloured lamp,
That with the wind-flower lights the wood,
    With marigold the swamp,—
That woos from out the apple-bough
    The perfumed white and red—
Breaks the sod to daisies under my foot,
    Hangs a musical heaven o'er-head—
Oh Spring, Spring, I would meet thee
    The happiest man alive
If—as once—I could but greet thee
    With the heart of twenty-five,
Which was hermit of its sweetness
    As of honey is the hive!

 

Oh youth, youth, youth,
More beautiful than truth—

The truth that checks the blood, and makes the temples grey:

The light of thy sunrise
Dwells deep in memory's eyes,

And I feel as bare as winter in the thick leaf-coming May.

Oh youth, youth, youth,
Time has neither rest nor ruth.
Spring enkindles wood and plain
But it passes heart and brain.
Spring, above the mountain crag,
Waves the morning's fiery flag,
Draws the evening amethyst,—
Time has staled the lips I kissed
In such passion undissembled
That its very rapture trembled.
Spring may walk o'er daisies spread,
With a skylark over head;
Her garments scented with the May;
Round her footsteps lambs at play.
But she is alien, she is foreign:
Her delight I have no store in.
I regard her as a child
Singing in her spirits wild,
Dancing in the sheer excess
Of a thoughtless happiness.
Her smile is bright, but very shallow.
More I love September's yellow:
Morns of dew-strung gossamer,
Thoughtful days without a stir,
Rooky clangours, brazen leaves,
Stubbles dotted o'er with sheaves,
More than Spring's bright un-control
Suit the Autumn of the soul.
Who would choose the giddy girl,
In her spirits' endless whirl,
Before the calm, deep-thoughted woman,
With a heart entirely human?

 

From summit of thy slowly-greening tree,
    Sing to the breaking east, oh happy merle,
    Scatter rich jewel and melodious pearl,
Then close in a thick-warbled ecstasy!
Sing to the Spring—but through the Spring I look
    And see, when fields are bare, the woodlands pale,
    And hear a sad un-mated redbreast wail,
In beechen russets by a leaden brook.
For I am tortured by a boding eye
    That, gazing on the morning's glorious grain,
    Beholds late shreds of fiery sunset stain
The marble pallor of a western sky.
Sweet is thy song, oh merle! and sweetly sung
    Thy forefathers in our forefathers' ears;
    And this—far more than all—thy song endears
In that it knits the old world with the young.
Men live and die, the song remains; and when
    I list the passion of thy vernal breath,
    Methinks thou singest best to Love and Death—
To happy Lovers and to dying Men.


ALEXANDER SMITH.

 

______________________

 
THE VISION OF SHEIK HAMIL.


UP on the terrace Sheik Hamil lay,
    In the fort of El-Hamëd, hot in the sun;
But he heeded not the heat of the day
    Nor how much of its course had run.

The bleat of the sheep came up to his ear,
    Now a camel would cry, now a horse would snort,
And the tongues of the women he could hear,
    As they moved about in the court.

At length there softened and died away
    The grind of the mill and the fountain's gush;
No one moved in the heat of the day,
    And there fell on the fort a hush.

All the more that the master there,
    Under the shadow by Asrael cast,
Had sat apart since the hour of prayer,
    And had not broken his fast.

None to Sheik Hamil went near on the days
    When his household knew that his soul was sad;
Though they ceased not to shake the head in amaze
    When such dolorous days he had.

But cause for his grief that day there was—
    The wife of his youth had taken her leave:
If e'er he had sorrowed without a cause,
    Now he bad cause to grieve.

Fatima, wife of his youth, was dead—
    Of slaves he had many, of wives but one—
"There is but one God for the soul," he said,
    "And but one moon for the sun."

Now on the terrace he lay and gazed
    Afar, where the sky and the desert meet;
Beyond the fields where his cattle grazed,
    And the gardens stretched at his feet.

Burning and bright was the golden sand,
    Burning and blue was the sapphire sky;
And where they met on the verge of the land,
    Infinity touched infinity.

Sheik Hail went up at the hour of prayer,
    And there he had wept till the hour of noon,
And what with the weeping and fasting there,
    His senses began to swoon.

Then he thought, "On the eye and the head!
    I will go down and strengthen mine heart,
I will enter my house and there eat bread,
    And take my horse and depart.

"Joy of the desert will fill me then,
    And make mine eyes from their weeping cease;
The name of God be praised among men,
    For my soul shall thus have peace."

As he had thought, Sheik Hail did,
    Or ever the hour had run its course—
Entered his house and ate, and bid
    Them saddle his swiftest horse.

As he had thought lo! it was done,
    The horse was brought, and mounted; and sped,
In the very hour of the sun which shone,
    From the gate of El-Hamëd.

Into the desert, as he had thought,
    Straight he darted and, in the race,
Past the wind on its way he shot,
    And he turned to look in its face.

The fort had vanished! for lo! between
    The horse had measured a mighty space.
Such riding Sheik Hail had not seen,
    And still they went on apace.

Then he looked down, and not from the stall
    Had come the steed which he now bestrode
"God is God," he breathed, "over all—"
    The horse of his youth he rode:

The horse that had hasted to die for him,
    When they reached the wells, and the wells had dried;
On whose neck he had wept, when his eye grew dim,
    At the water's brink where he died.

Had he lived to taste the stream that day?
    He knew not—but stooping, he kissed his neck,
And with long light bounds he bore him away
    With a speed that knew no check.

Then the delight of the desert filled
    Sheik Hail's soul, and he drank new wine,
And his heart beat high, and his grief was stilled,
    And he breathed a life divine.

They journeyed far, and they journeyed fast—
    Hamil the Sheik, on that mighty horse,
Saw that the groves and the wells were past,
    And that still they held on their course.

At length they came to a shining wall,
    And the horse stood still and turned his head,
And spoke—"My master, may good befall;
    But I leave thee here," he said.

The wall was of ruby in mighty blocks,
    And over it, blowing through fountains fair,
Came breezes perfumed like scented locks;
    But never a gate was there.

And the horse had vanished, and lo, he stood
    Ankle deep in the drifting sand,
Alone, and famished for lack of food,
    By the wall of this watered land.

"An entrance hither thou shalt not win,
    If thou seek for a gate these thousand years,
Save by naming a name and entering in
    When a cleft in the wall appears."

He named the name that is over all,
    And falling forward in fainting pain,
He touched, with a touch, the ruby wall,
    And it cleft, at his touch, in twain.

And he entered in, and of sweets distilled
    By the trees of God—whose name be praised—
He ate, and drank till his soul was filled,
    And his heart to heaven was raised.

Then the old sadness, the old unrest,
    That ever and ever Sheik Hail drove
Into the desert, woke in his breast,
    And he hurried from grove to grove.

Seeking, yet knowing not what he sought,
    To an ivory palace at length he came,
And the doors were a thousand, of silver wrought,
    Yet not one door was the same.

"Only one will open to thee,
    And thou may'st not ask, is it this, or this?
But unto none other, by God's decree,
    Will it open, if thou shouldst miss."

Thus said the voice; and he, if he missed,
    Knew he must die of his longing sore;
"God is God," he said, as he kissed,
    And opened the silver door!

And the hand that drew him within and led
    To the ivory seats with cushions of silk,
By the silver fountain with perfume fed,
    Was Fatima's hand of milk.

And there she unveiled to him her face,
    Fair as the moon and clear as the day,
And there on his breast, the filled full of grace,
    The best, the beloved, lay.

It was she who arose and led him still
    Through other chambers of life and bliss,
Set forth with all fruits his soul to fill,
    And opening all at her kiss.

At length they came to another door,
    And, "Here I must enter alone," she said—
And her eyes looked not the same as before
    As she kissed, and veiled her head.

And she entered in, and he saw her not,
    In the dread of the darkness behind that door,
And he felt his feet cleave fast to the spot,
    And he swooned on the marble floor.

And lo! he lay on the drifting sand,
    Where a wall of sapphire rose to the sky;
And beyond the wall was a shining land,
    And he saw the beloved fly—

Fly on wings, like the wings of a dove;
    Changed to a dove, with her wings of white!
Leaving him, faint with the longing of love,
    Unable to follow her flight.

And the voice he had heard, holding far aloof,
    Said, "Feet may not follow where she has fled—"
And he woke, and a dove rose up from the roof,
    And the wife of his youth was dead.


ISA CRAIG.

 

______________________

 
THE BACHELOR DREAMS.


THE world is dreary, I am growing old,
    Wife nor bairn makes glad my chamber still,
The wintry season cometh with its cold,
    The hearth is dark, and the wind without is shrill;
Yea! twilight gloams around me—hope and power
Depart, like scent and colour from a flower—
    Yet, where I sit, sweet music floats to me:
'Tis the falling, falling, of a silver shower
    Around a forest tree!

Ah! can I hear the scented rain intone?
    Can I hear the leaves that stir and sigh
Or hear I but the movement and the moan
    Of busy folk that hurry darkly by?
Nay!—for a white hand lies in mine, sweet eyes
Shine on me, and a happy maiden cries!
    Nay! for my blood again flows fresh and free,—
To the falling, falling, of the shower that sighs
    Around the forest tree!

And can it be so many years ago,
    Since I clasp'd her, 'neath the leaves, that summer day?
And were there words of parting, words of woe?
    Sits she among her children far away?
Can she hear the sweet and melancholy sound?
Doth she see the shining dewdrops on the ground?
    Doth she flutter like the leaves and dream of me,—
To the falling, falling, of the rain around
    The murmurous forest tree?

The city closes round me, I am old,
    Yet 'tis melody from country lanes I hear;
The wintry season cometh with its cold,
    The hearth is dark, and the end of all is near;
Yet, love, the city fadeth with its pain!
The old bright dream is drowsy on my brain!
    And my life is flowing earthward fast and free,—
To the falling, falling, of the summer rain
    Around a forest tree!


ROBERT BUCHANAN.



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