Gerald Massey: Craigcrook Castle (2)

Home Up Biography Poetry Prose Reviews News Reports Miscellanea Main Index Site Search
 


 


LADY LAURA.

I.


MIDSUMMER Morn her silvery-gray
        Rain-veil uplifteth fold on fold;
        And, purple-flusht, and topt with gold,
The white clouds kindle and float away

O'er violet-shadowed hills that stand
        In cloudy crowns, and soft attire;
        And, in a fragrancy of fire,
Midsummer Morn floods all the land.

The Rainbow with its living arch
        Of glory brightens in the blue;
        Like Spirit-Bridge Earth rolled up
            through,
Unconscious on her midnight march.

Into quick flames of emerald break
        The woods against the ruddied light.
        A dance of radiance bickers bright
As laughter o'er a dimpling cheek;

In sapphire rain heaven ripples down:
        The sweet south-winds waft opened
            wide
        The glory-gates of Summer's tide;
A starry sweep of flowers is strown

Through the green meadows; white and gold,
        It laughs along the glowing ground:
        Such throng of blessings dance around
The old World's heart; lo, these unfold.

At emerald palace-portals peer
        Quick eyes of Birds that in the sun
        All singing sit, sing every one;
Listens each leafy forest-ear.

Wee cups of faery-wine brim high,
        By the way-side, on brier and bush;
        As lifted in a holy hush
By unseen hands for passers by.

Her ripe cheek on the air, red Rose!
        She leaneth from her fragrant bower;
        Like lady from her latticed tower;
And by sweet force of beauty blows!

Bright-hearted with a golden dream,
        The little daisy lifts its head;
        Its wee lips glister wet and red;
Its smile is as a thankful hymn.

The wildest weed the wind hath sown,
        The commonest grass, are glorified,
        Even as the Tulip in her pride;
The trumpet of her beauty blown.

All Life lies in a bath of balm,
        Feeling the lavish glory flow;
        With nought to do but thrill and grow
In strength, and joy, and luscious calm.

Now Love breathes dewier delight,
        In cool green ways, and tender gloom;
        Being hath such a dazzling bloom;
Its sun of bliss is over-bright.

O balmy Morn! O tender type!
        What tearful wooings of the May
        Have brought about this bridal-day
Of Earth the rath, with June the ripe.

But, we must turn where Greed for Toil
        Hath closed and claspt Morn's pictured
            book;
        Where Nature hath a Gnome-like look,
And from her features dies the smile.

 

______________


II.


PLEASANTLY rings the Chime that calls to the Bridal-hall
            or Kirk;
But the Devil might gloatingly pull for the peal that wakes
            the Child to work!
"Come, little Children," the Mill-bell rings, and drowsily
            they run,
Little old Men and Women, and human worms who have
            spun
The life of Infancy into silk; and fed, Child, Mother, and
            Wife,
The factory's smoke of torment, with the fuel of human
            life.
O weird white face, and weary bones, and whether they
            hurry or crawl,
You know them by the factory-stamp, they wear it one
            and all.
The Factory-Fiend in a grim hush waits till all are in, and
            he grins
As he shuts the door on the fair, fair world without, and
            hell begins!
The least faint living rose of health from the childish
            cheek he strips,
To run the thorn in a Mother's heart: and ever he sternly
            grips
His sacrifice; with Life's soiled waters turns his wildering
            wheels;
And shouts, till his rank breath thicks the air, and the
            Child's brain Devil-ward reels.

From cockcrow until starlight, very patiently they
            plod;
A sea of human faces turning sadly up to God.
O wan white winter world that hides no coloured dreams
            of Spring!
No summer sunshine brightens; no buds blossom; no
            birds sing.
In at the windows Nature looks, and sings, and smiles
            them forth,
To walk with her, and talk with her, and see the summering
            Earth:
And drink the spicy air in perfumed pathways dim with
            dew;
While the miracle of Morning raises glorified life anew.
But they are shut from the heavenly largess; they must
            stint and moil,
Tho' Death stares ghastly in their face, and life is endless
            toil.
Did you mark how vacantly they eyed this land of
            loveliness,
The Flower of Sleep into their eyes, your heart would ache
            to press.
The moving glory of the heavens, their pomp, and
            pageantry,
Flame in their shadowed faces, but no soul comes up to see.
They see no Angels lean to them; they stretch no spirit-
           hand;
Melodious Beauty sings to them; they cannot understand.

Yet here, where the sweet flower of life may hoard no
            precious dew,
To feed its heart of greenness, keep the glory of its hue;
Here, where the fingers of Work and Want keep writing
            silent, slow,
Their warrant for the grave on many a Mother's darling's
            brow;
Here, where the Fiend doth trample out the soul-sparks
            day by day;
Here, where such seed of God is rotting in the killing
            clay;
Some Saviour-Seraph walks the waves of sorrow and of sin,
And some poor wrestler doth not sink the wrecking gulfs
            within;
And aye she rises with her charge in loving arms caressed,
As Morning rises out of night, her love-star on her breast.

 

______________


III.

IN a grand old Gothic Palace,
    The Lady Laura dwells:
It crowns the warm green vallies,
    High as their summer-surge swells.
There, with her emerald chalice, Spring
    Kneels, offering beauty's wine;
There, in a land of enchantment, sing
    The birds thro' shower and shine.
'tis a noble solitude serene,
    Where the sudden glory glows!
'tis a happy nook of nestling green,
    Where that virginal flower blows,—
Just in the sweetness of the bud,
    Brimming with brightness and balm;
The tenderest glimpse of Womanhood
    Golden, and sweet, and calm.
She is the Lily of the land;
    Born neither to spin nor toil:
She can rest her fair cheek on her dainty white hand,
    While the human honey-bees moil.
O the world of rich visions that peer in her eyes!
    Around her what fantasies dance!
As she leans in her air of paradise,
  And her bower of dalliance:
But her earnest life is sorrowfully
   O'ershadowed from above:
She feels the ache of Life's mystery,
    And she feels the hurt of Love.
The Lady Laura's soul is sad
    For the suffering under the sun:
She looks on the world, and is only glad
    For the duties to be done.
She might have moved by in the pageant grand,
    Sweet slip of a lordly line!
Nor soiled the glory of her white hand,
    And fairy fingers fine;
And swam in this world's wine and oil,
    With those who sink for the next,
Faint with delight, and plundered Toil
    With no strange thought perplext.
O the burnisht stream would have bravely borne
    Her, dancing down in its whirl;
And the dark wreck-kingdom have proudly worn
    On its bosom the pure queen-pearl.
But Sorrow hath toucht her young, young years,
    When their rose-light was smiling and fair;
And her eyes have wept the sharp, sharp tears,
    That pierce through all mirage of air.
Ah, the Poor! with her finer sense she hears
    How they moan in their cloud of care.
They will tell you down in the vallies
    What the Orphan Heiress hath done;
How the grand old Gothic Palace
    With Love's new wine doth run.
She's a light on the cold hill-tops that divide
    The poor from their neighbour Rank;
The first bright wave of a sluggish tide,
    That hath overleapt its bank.
And to Lady Laura by window and door,
    Hearts climb with the Roses up,
Their blessings to breathe, and their pride to pour,
    In many a brimming cup.
Rebel hindrance she treads queenly down,
   Where it stands in her high Throne's way.
O Factory-Fiend with the fearful frown,
    She will bloom in your desert to-day.

 

______________


IV.

THE lady Light hath Daughters seven,
        In wedded calm sit smiling fair
        On their cloud-throne; and down the air
They float from arms of clasping Heaven.

For they their lofty home will leave,
        To winnow, on their golden plumes,
        Through ocean-bowers, and water-glooms;
And wondrous spells of beauty weave

To clothe the sea-shells in their trance
        So lone and cold, with coloured lights,
        And jewel-flames; till their dense Night's
Alive with shapes of radiance.

On Alpine heights a little Flower
        From its snow-cradle soft doth reach;
        And with its tiny hands beseech
The vesture-hem of Eternal Power:

Then straightway help of heaven descends,
        And vital influences run
        Down golden ladders of the sun,
And pleading life wins spirit-friends.

Thus souls in barrenest solitude
        Oft bring the kindly powers down,
        To lighten on them with a crown,
Or banquet of immortal food.

And thus on one poor Worker's sight
        The Lady Laura through the mirk
        Dawns, marvelling how there may lurk
A presence toucht with tender light.

His life stands still to hear what fate
        Comes with the step of mystery;
        And husht for some event to be,
In conscious calm the waters wait.

She sees a prayer for rest and air
        In every face, but, in his eyes
        Alone, are childish memories;
And his the only spirit there

That waves the Seraph-wand of fire,
        To fright the Serpent flickering near.
        One jewel in that dark Mine! and clear
It flashes as she brightens nigher.

And all beside how dull and grim!
        O saintly show of maiden grace!
        From out a golden mist, her face
Seems floating, floating on to him.

Daughter of Light! she seems to swim,
        As on the wings of a mighty love;
        Sad-smiling that blind world above;
Sunning that human forest dim.

She speaks to him; she takes his hand;
        With such a gracious tenderness!
        The tears up in his eyes will press;
Life's desert in sudden flower doth stand.

As when the spirit of Winter old
        Passes away in a dream of spring,
        The quick buds burst, and fluttering
All into shimmering wings unfold,

And wave so strong, and thrill so free,
        As they the wakened world would wing
        Along the warm way of the Spring,
Where they are drawn deliciously:

So from his life a burst of wings
        Is fluttering leaf-like for the light ;
        And in that Splendour's wake of white,
They make melodious murmurings.

At her soft touch ethereal dies
        The old dark, as Morning's spear of light
        Doth gently touch the dying night,
And from it Day, a white Spirit, doth rise.

Light, Music, Fragrance, seem to kiss
        And swathe him in a bloom of fire;
        Make shining beauty his attire,
And bury his dead past in bliss.

 

______________


V.

THE Lady Laura took him, in her kind and queenly way,
From out that cruel iron world, to the tender human day.
There all the folded bloom of life like a banner rich unfurled,
And waved luxuriant in the air of a glad and glorious world.

She fed his mind, she led his mind, thro' phases strange
            and sweet;
Ah, blessèd boon to toil and lay the fruitage at her feet!
She took his widowed Mother; bless her full and flowing
            hand!
To rest her weary bones from toil, and live upon her land.

Their barren world of poverty with flowers she girdled
            round,
Till life that toiled with bleeding feet can walk on softer
            ground.
My Lady comes; my Lady goes; his being doth rejoice,
A breaking sea of rapture; every wave uplifts a voice.

Like dungeoned foe that seeth the King's daughter walking
            nigh,
He blesseth the revealing dark for the beauty thronèd high.
And in the beating of his heart, and flashing of his eye,
His new life standeth waving glory as she passeth by.

My Lady comes; my Lady goes; he can see her day by
            day,
And bless his eyes with her beauty, and with blessings
            strew her way.
My Lady comes; my Lady goes; she passes from his sight,
As daylight dies into the skies, and at her gate stands
            Night.

 

______________


VI.

AH, little thinks my Lady
    Of the subtle seedling sown;
But, fruitful was the silence
    Where its secret life hath grown.
'T was nurst with sweet love-rain;
    At her eyes it drank rich springs;
And 'tis fed on hidden manna
    That her fragrant beauty brings.

Ah, little thinks my Lady,
    As the days and seasons roll;
How she took him by the hand,
    To pass in to his soul.
There she lies in a light of smiles;
    And like a soft caress,
Her voice goes feeling, feeling
    With a kiss of tenderness.

O Love, tho' shut without, will laugh
    All barriers above;
And higher as they soar, still towers
    The stature of mighty Love.
And bud by bud, the climbing seed
    Into a tall tree springs!
Ah, little thinks my Lady
    What the Bird in the branches sings!

 

______________


VII.

"SHE smiled on me, she smiled on me,
    And I walk in a glory now;
'tis writ on my cheek in a rose of pride;
    'tis read in a light on my brow.

"She smiled on me, she smiled on me,
    And my soul with bliss doth ache;
So many a clue to happiness,
    I know not which to take!

"She smiled on me, she smiled on me,
    And the human world goes by—
In a sound as of Angels talking
    'Neath the palms of Paradise nigh.

"She stoopt to kiss me with her smile,
    Thro' the clouds where I darkly lay;
As she glided thro' my night, Sweet Moon!
    High on her heavenly way.

"She stoopt to kiss me with her smile,
    And life soared up in flame!
But, for my worship, not my kiss,
    The glorious phantom came.

"She smiled on me, she smiled on me,
    I think as I sit alone;
And my heart o'er its tender secret
    Is brooding with love's sweet moan.

"She smiled on me, she smiled on me,
    And that surging smile of light,
In a happy silence, thro' my life
    Goes circling out of sight.

"She smiled on me, and my heart like a Bird
    In dreams of the night doth go
To make its bride-bed where the little buds red
    Peep warm from the white, white snow.

"She smiled on me, she smiled on me;
    Ah me, that in her smiles,
My heart might break, in a wide love-wave,
    On her bosom's happy Isles!"

 

______________


VIII.

AS earliest flowers, the sweet first-love of Spring,
Are tenderest in their fragrance—saintliest pure,
Love's firstlings, budding in the heart, unfold
Most precious sweet of all the lusty year;
And all his life is with their fragrance filled.
In shy and shady nooks he steals, to brood
O'er what his heart for kisses lifteth up.

With a ripe glow in his warm face the Dawn
Uplifts the veil of dew-mist from the shape
Of Beauty sleeping on the lap of Earth:
So down into his secret soul he peers,
To see the veilèd Beauty thro' its mist,
And bows to bless her where she lies alight,
Unconscious of the reddening dawn of love.

A face, like nestling luxury of flowers;
Soft hair, on which Light drops a diadem;
Twin eyes that smile,—ah, when in their far heaven
Shall Love stand up and wave the Victor's palm?—
A mouth of roses wet with damask wine:
And all the beauty hid from mortal eyes,
Like lily-bud in leaves of cool green light.

His happy eyes brim with voluptuous dew,
Gathered in the rich air of secret love.
Anon his heart goes wandering like a wind
That reels thro' meads of spice, o'er hills of myrrh,
Drunk with flower-fragrance, and the wine of love,
And making music at the lightest touch,
Till faint with sweet it wearies into rest.

 

______________


IX.

LADY of the forest
    Is the Silver Birk;
Shimmering in the sunshine;
    Shivering at the mirk;
Rocking in her rapture;
  A dancing Psaltress slim!
Her hair a shower of beauty!
  Her motion a glory-swim!
Or, when dewy twilight
  Pours its chrism of balm,
And her tremulous bosom
  Fills with a tender calm.
'Mid the dance of colours,
  And semitones of green,
Gleams this daintier Spirit
  That in leafdom is the Queen.
Of all the trees o' the forest,
  He loves the Silver Birk,
Shimmering in the sunshine,
  Shivering at the mirk.
So like the Lady Laura
  In her purity and grace;
Dreaming in its shadow,
  Often rose her face!
And as when a Sunburst
  Goldens the green aisles,
The woodland water smileth,
  So his heart within him smiles.

 

______________


X.

"JUST a smile i' the face of Nature;
      Just a mirror of May-morn;
Is the shining, comely creature,
     Worshipt by the peasant-born.
Beauty has no rarer blossom,
     Budding fain, or flowering fair;
Nestling to a Mother's bosom,
     If a lover's hand should dare.

"She is graceful as the greenly
     Waving boughs in summer wind;
And her beauty calm and queenly
     Wears its royal crown of mind.
O were I the prince of plenty;
     O were she my own wed Wife;
Love would bring the crowning dainty,
     To the banquet of my life.

"Might I bear Love's shield above her;
     Might I snood her silken hair;
How my heart would round her hover
     On the tender wings of care!
Ah, dear Heaven, all blessings shower
     On her sweet life's balmy bud;
Till it lift immortal flower,
    In the blooming fields of God."

 

______________


XI.

A DAZZLING wonder in the dark of Dreams,
His heart-hid Jewel gleams;
And for a peerless richness it doth range
The zones of radiant change.
Breathing soft hues the glorious thing doth shine,
With lustres Opaline.
The shifting Sapphire lovingly beguiles,
With dewy azure smiles.
The Ruby now with eye of crimson yearns,
Or like a blood-drop burns.
The Amber in transparent hand doth hold
Imprisoned flame of gold.
Now twinkles from soft shade the Emerald tender,
A drop of cool green splendour.
Or, with love-drooping eye, the Pearl o' the deep
Melts in a sea of sleep.
And now, wide ope, it lights the inner night,
A starry Chrysolite.
And aye, for a peerless richness it doth range
The zones of radiant change.

 

______________


XII.

ONE of the silent Poets of the world who find no word
To utter their dumb soul of love, so, like the shy night-bird,
They break their hearts in music; die in sorrow's solitude;
One Autumn eve he sat beneath the Beauty of the Wood;
Where Birds of Thought so often brought his love ambro-
             sial food;
When all the spirits of the flowers stole forth i' the hush-
             of night,
And all the greeny silence slumbered in a dream of light.

The world lay in a purple calm, and tenderness of tears;
In every pulse of being lived the tenderness of years.
He had wrestled with his passion,—caught up in its wild-
             caress—
Voluptuous as a Bride of Fire, with arms as pitiless.
He had wept his pain in a fiery rain, and a calm came o'er-
             his tears,
As a vision of sweet Peace comes treading down War's-
             cruel spears.
Then in a trembling confidence of love to himself he talkt,
And sang above his whispering heart, that felt what Spirit-
             walkt.

 

"We cannot lift the wintry pall
   From buried life; nor bring
 Back, with Love's passionate thinking, all
   The glory of the Spring.
 But soft along the old green way
   We feel her breath of gold;
 Her radiant vesture ripples gay,—
   She comes! and all is told.

"So in Her absence Memory
   Aye strives, but cannot paint
 The Vision of sweet Majesty;
   The beauty of my Saint.
 She comes! like dawn in spring her fame!
   My winter-world doth melt;
 The thorns with Roses wave a-flame!
   She smiles! and all is felt."

 

 Is it a vision! or the pure pale face
 Of Lady Laura, blossoming from the trees?
 Strange fire consumes the rich dew of her eyes!
 Trembles her lip; her soul, tho' very calm,
 Gleams like a naked sword from its soft sheath.
 Ah, she has found his secret in its nest?
 And will she crush him with her silent scorn?
 He dare not know. She speaks; he scarcely hears;
 So loud the blood goes singing through his brain.

"I am no longer mistress at the Hall;
 False friends usurp my title and my lands,
 And keep them till the Law shall do me right.
 I leave to-morrow morn. I think you have
 The mounting spirit to rise where'er you fall,
 And shall rejoice to mark your fortunes shine."

 She paused; he raised his eyes to hers, and saw
 The unuttered something that could not be told.
 Her rustling robe thrilled all his life, and soft
 Her fragrant footsteps died upon the night.

 

______________


XIII.

LIKE one caught in the Tempest's arms unseen,
Dasht overboard unheard, and left all night
With the mad waves, blindfolded by the gloom,
All thro' that desolate dark he wrestled lone;
Tossing tumultuous in a storm of soul;
And lived his life o'er in the agony stern;
As on the drowning rushes all the past.

Again he saw her in the Silk-mill stand.
Complete in beauty, crowned with meekest calm,
As missioned Angel down to Hell wings when
Some suffering spirit's time is up in heaven.
He went with her among the Poor where fell
Her smile as sunshine on a ripening land;
And from the folded flowers of thorny life,
Her presence charmed a kindlier spirit forth.
He hoarded up their blessings in his heart.

He saw her in the spring-dawns gliding down,
Like Morning on the world, to tend the flowers
That from her touch sprang thrilling with delight.
Darkened into himself, he watcht, all eye,
Like Spirit that sees its mortal love go by,
Itself invisible.
                                 In languorous noons
Of summer, when, a Shape of fragrant warmth,
Nature seems glowing thro' her sumptuous robe;
Her softened beauty rounding tenderly;
And from behind the tapestry of flowers,
Her pantings take you with ambrosial breath;
He in the cool, green shadows would lie down,
O'er him the leaves a lowe of glimmering gold,
To kiss where the beloved foot had toucht,
With lip of crimson fire, and fondling cheek,
All tingling thro' and thro' with costly life.

He saw the visible Divinity
O' the time and place, taking her twilight walk,
All starrily moving in an air of smiles;
The serious sea-blue dreaming in her eyes;
Her lofty beauty robed about with heaven.
He fed upon her fairness daintiest-hued,
And drank the wine of wonder as she went.
So tender hour by hour, love grew in his heart;
A dew-drop in the flower's cup held toward heaven.

Ah, happy times, when on the top of life
He saw her beauty's daily sunrise, heard
Her voice, breathed holy air made fragrant by her,
And in her presence cloud-like sunned himself,
With such sweet silent awe; while all his heart
With rich love trembled as 't would break for bliss;
Like shaken dews in jewelled cups of morn!

Ah, happy nights, and lustrous darks, in which
He watcht her casement when the house was mute,
Where the tall Chestnuts husht her beauty round,
Uplifting in their hands a light of flowers!
And Silence took the place in loving arms.
There with its speechless yearning strove his heart,
O'erflowing till the night was filled with love.

How often thro' the winter wind and rain,
His spirit fluttered to her winged with blessings.
And he stood clothed and warmed with thoughts of her;
And thro' the darkness and the cold, his love
Glowed like a watch-fire in a wilderness;
Or glistened upward in a light of tears;
Soul-diamonds of the purest water—tears
Such as the Angels wear for jewels in heaven;
Trembling with tenderness, alive with light.
Ah, happy times that wave their sad farewells,
To come no more, no more, O Nevermore!
To him, who, tasting the forbidden tree,
Now sat at Eden gates, and they were closed.

Sudden a thought struck new life thro' him as strikes
Land on the swimmer's feet who gives up lost!
He who could die for her, could he not live
For her, and help her win her rightful throne?
He sat not down on shore to mourn his wreck;
Not his the heart to wail when he might work.

That night hath passed; but from its death-bed rose
A Star, to sing and sparkle in his soul,
And light him to some crowned accomplishment.

 

______________


XIV.

O MIGHTY mystery London, there be children still, who
            hold
Her palaces are silver-rooft, her pavements are of gold;
And blindly in that dark of fate, they grope for the golden
            prize,
For somewhere hidden in her heart the charmèd treasure
            lies.
Such glory burning in the skies, she lifts her crown of light
Above the dark, we see not what we trample in the night.
O merry world of London!   O aching world of moan,
How many a soul hath stoopt to thee, and lost its starry throne!
There Circe brims her sparkling ruby, dancing welcome,—
            laughs
All scruples down with wicked eye, and the crazed lover
            quaffs,
Until the fires of Hell have left white ashes on his lips;
And there they pass whose tortured hearts the worm that
            dies not grips.

The stricken crawl apart to die. There, many a bosom
            heaves
With merry laughters mournful as the dancing of dead
            leaves.
There griping Greed rich-heaps the yellow wealth of Bank
            and Shop,
As Autumn leaves grow goldenest when rotten-ripe to drop:
And many melt the marrow of their Manhood, burn its
            bloom,
In Passion's serpent arms, and with her kiss of fire
            consume:
And sideling Vanity seeks a mirror in each passing face.
But through the dark some luminous lives flash up and
            pray Heaven's grace.

All beauteous stand her Idols shining on their azure height,
And from their fairy heaven lean veiled Shapes, half-dim,
            half-bright;
They draw us with a dream delicious to the aching sight;
Armfuls of warm delight, white waists, ripe lips, and
            merry Brides;
Life-dew in melting roses, low sweet music, worlds besides!
And day by day, on each highway, from many a sunny
            shire,
The country life comes green to wither for the hungry fire.
All into London leaping, leaping flows the human sea,
Where, a wreck at heart, or a prize in arms, the waves
            flash merrily.
With a prayer to God on high, he sees the tumult, hears
            the strife,
And dives, from out the gulfs to snatch a nobler-
            crownèd life.
The Lady Laura leaneth like a bending heaven above,
And his life is safely steadied with the anchor of his love.

Three times into the City's heart there ran the news of
            Spring:
Sweet primrose-time is come again, and the silver showers
            sing.
The cloudy imagery of heaven sails o'er him day by day,
He watches parching as the Palm when the rain floats far
            away,
All thirsty, as the Hero's soul with glory's burning
            drouth!
And yearning, as the dying yearn for a death-bed in the
            South!
For Spring's warm breath, and bright caress, and pleasant
            feel of leaves,
And all her beauty wet with morn, his heart within him
            grieves.
The country memories rich inlaid, so fragrantly are stirred,
As spice-winds whisper something low, or sings a careless
            Bird.
The green-woods beckon spirit-like thro' a dream of azure
            sky;
All heaven looks out from a flower as from the Beloved's
            eye,
And visions of a lovelier-lighted life move glimmering by.

Above that wilderness of life he often sat alone,
Watching the surges of his soul, which, ever and anon,
Revealed the proud wave-wrestler Hope forever battling on!
And ever thro' the dark the Lady Laura's star-smile shone.
Ah, the dear night was all his own, then life rose starry-
            towered;
Full-honeyed with its folded Spring, his shut heart bud-
            like flowered.
Upon the stream that pines all day, the calm of heaven
            doth rest,
And its Star of love, tho' far above, keeps bridal on its
            breast.
Pure, painèd, Loveliness! she walks a world of wrong
            and guile,
Yet nightly looketh in his face with the same sweet,
            patient smile.
While ever and for ever goeth up to God for doom,
The City's breath of life and death, in glory or in gloom;
And there it rings each spirit round, of light or darkness
            woven,
And they shall wake and walk their self-unfolded hell or
            heaven.
Nightly a merry harvest-home the Devil in London drives,
And gathers on the shores of hell the wreck of human lives.
While God sits over all, in heaven, and in His hand doth
            hold,
The Flower of Silence shedding worlds like seed of sunny
            gold.

 

______________


XV.

A LONELY life, a lonely lot;
        He climbs his mountain day by day;
        But finds beside the stoniest way
Love's wild rock-honey, and fainteth not.

He sees the Vision shine afar;
        Sweet wedded lives in happy home;
        And strains his eyes against the gloom,
Like Nuns that throb at prison-bar,

Wooed by a dear and dazzling dream,
        When thro' the mirk Love's glory burns.
        The hearth of Home warm welcome yearns;
His face is glowing with the gleam

And sparkle of their brimming cup,
        Who round the home-altar dance and sing,
        All in a golden marriage-ring,
And light with love Life's picture up.

They sit in nestling nook, and see
        The ripening promise of the years;
        The budding quicks, the springing ears;
Flowers honey-wet, and fruits to be.

As bridal-gifts from God above,
        The Children bring their glad new spring;
        Past joy's refrain their voices ring,
All loud with mirth, or lown with love.

Fine actions feed Love's holy fire,
        Like sandal-wood of fragrant gold;
        Till heaven-ward, glorious to behold,
It breaks, in many a splendid spire.

There, hand in hand, they reach across
        A double range of rich delights;
        And climb in safety where the heights
Of Life have many a chasm of Loss.

A happy soul in song doth gush,
        Ere closes their day-book of bliss,
        So softly claspèd with a kiss,
While eyes with tears of trembling flush.

 


"O blessèd Bird that soars and sings,
           And moves in heaven on triumphing wings ;
                         Then drops to rest
                         Within my breast,
           And aye some balm of blessing brings.

          "O Flower of mine, Life's stream may start
            Thy trembling leaves, but cannot thwart
                         Love's calm below,
                         Where wed roots grow
            In twin strength, smiling heart to heart.


          "O crest of beauty on my brow;
            O light of love upon my prow;
                         To the death-dark,
                         I row my bark;
            You gild with glory as we go."
 

 

'Tis merry to walk the deck of life,
        Tho' billows beat, and the wild winds blow ;
        And proudly feel they rest below;
That precious freightage, weans and wife.

But, he drifts on, in lonely bark,
        Past shining home, and singing isle.
        Fine Apparition, with a smile
Like spirit-music! in the dark

Thy sudden beauty lightens near,
        And bows him to the knees in prayer.
        He needs long draughts of heavenly air,
Who dives to clutch a pearl so dear.

 

______________


XVI.

TO-DAY, 'mid fall of palms the Victor stands;
His brows are bound by Lady Laura's hands.
He conquered.   To her feet he brought the prize;
Twin worlds of bliss rose throbbing in her eyes.
Sparkled her smiling soul like that of a child,
And, smiling, all her luminous body smiled.

The lilies, white upon her stream of life,
Heaved with the sweet feel of its dancing strife.
She, glowing happy as the languorous South,
When Spring doth kiss her on the flowery mouth.
From out her heart's heaven a sweet simple Grace
Came blushing all the secret in her face,
And dyed her beauty daintier for embrace.

He lookt into the windows of her eyes,
To see Love, sitting by the hearth, arise
And let him in, and lead him to his throne,
For love and worship thro' all worlds his own.
Her virgin tree at a trembling touch doth move;
Into his bosom drops the fruit of love.

Upon his life now leaneth dewily
The rose of her ripe beauty rare to see.
In honeyed light, and sweet with pleasant showers,
Lies all the land, a coloured flame of flowers;
And with a sidelong grace smiles of the sight;
Heaven shakes its bridal torch and laughs delight.

On her white holy hand the ring of gold
Exults its branch of glory to enfold.
Comes forth in greeting all the country side,
To welcome Lady Laura home, a Bride.
Ring, merry bells, ring, blithesome bridal bells!
To the tune of happy hearts your triumph swells.

 

______________


XVII.

"My life lay like a Sea-bud, dark upon the watery wold,
 That feels when Spring is in the world, and striveth to unfold,
 The breath of Love passed o'er me, and the Spring went laughing by,
 Till on a sudden I was 'ware, Beloved, thou wert nigh!
 The Bird of Love to my window came, and sang a strain divine.
 Sweet Bird! he makes his nest, I said, 'neath other eaves than
            mine:
 But many a day hath come and gone, and still he sits and sings
 His song of happy futures, and of dear remembered things.

"My life went darkling like the Earth, nor knew it shone a Star
 To that dear Heaven on which it hung in worship from afar.
 O, many bared their beauty like brave flowers to the bee;
 She might have ranged thro' sunny fields, but nestled down by me:
 A King upon his Throne might have smiled her to his side;
 But, with a lowly majesty she came to me, my Bride,
 And grandly gave her love to me, the dearest thing on Earth,
 Like one who gives a jewel, all unweeting of its worth.

"O, was it an Immortal Child, left by a fair Dream-Bride,
 Seen in a world of vision with mine eyes stretcht spirit-wide?
 Or was the Image pictured, by the sun of another life,
 In secret soul, that I might know its living like my Wife?
 I know not; but, when luminous she floated on to me,
 Methought she flamed from out the mist of some far memory.
 The hidden Love just stirring the spring-roses of her face;
 The picture of sweet Saintliness; the glory and the grace.

"'Twas when the Earth her green lap spreads for Summer's
              gorgeous gifts;
 And plump for kisses of the Sun, her ripened cheek uplifts;
 When maiden May was caught and kist in lusty arms of June;
 She newly strung my harp of life, and played its sweetest tune.
 O, I had been content to live in a cottage of the clay,
 So I might see and bless her, when she chanced to pass that way;
 But she swam down from her heaven, with a look of glorious pride,
 And I clasp my heart's sweet Vision;  lo! a nestling human Bride.'

 

______________


XVIII.

CALM is their sheltered shore of life, caressed
By gentle tides of peace, whose murmurs are
Of storms at rest, and sorrows sanctified.
But not for them alone the honey-time,
And bliss of being! hearts were all too full
Of lusty longing for all human good,
And happiness was only meant to share.
That luminous revealer, hallowing Love,
Gave them the seeing eye, not drooping lid.
His chosen are but caught up into Heaven,
For wider vision of a suffering Earth.
Their lavish bliss ran over to make rich,
And kindle with a spring of laughing life
The poor world kneeling at the feet of theirs.
And not forgotten was that Factory-world,
Which like a doomed Ship far away i' the night
Pleaded—each port-hole lighted up for help!
Christ on the Cross for eighteen hundred years,
And still His Poor their long redemption wait—
Still tempted of the Devil in the Desert.
Still are they, crouching by the fireless hearth,
In the dead winter often driven to burn
The bravest hangings of their house of life,
To scare the gaunt wolf Hunger, whose eyes glare
In at the window lit with bloody lust!
Sometimes a cry runs throbbing thro' the night,
As tho' Creation quickened with the birth
Of new life strange and monstrous, in our world.
Then startled Fear from his high lattice looks,
With face as white as death-toucht Want's below:
There rage a people like a forest of fire!
Grim on the banner Labour's challenge flames,
"Leave to live working, or die fighting."
                                                                             Fear
Sends forth his Guards, and to his pillow slinks.
Red Murder leaps up sudden in their midst;
The gathering of fierce suffering breaks in blood:
Begins again the old long agony,
And Order reigns! tho' many a day the Ghost
Of Revolution at his banquet sits,
And standeth Sentry at his door o' nights.

O hopeless Poor, and impotently Rich!
O hurrying host of battling enmities,
That, fighting, feel no earthquake rock the ground!
O human world, panting without the pale
Of harmony, the universal law,
Like Soul, with troublous wail, shut out of bliss!
Shall it not come, the time of which we dream
To crown long years of strife, and blood, and tears,
When from the Book the Poet's thought shall step
Clothed on with human lineaments, and live?
And this Ideal of our hopeful Brave
Come down and dwell with us in daily life,
And Earth and Heaven lie in each other's arms?

They deem so, who, with visionary eyes,
Have held communion with that world to come;
Our wedded pair: their faith made quick by love;
They look within—its Shadow comes that way.
And they will make their outer life a dial,
On which the inner light may rise and shine;
And touch with radiance soft some sullen spot
Where falls the Devil's shadow, till a smile
Is on its face as it turns up to God.
Sing Ho for the New World and its golden age
Of delicate dream-work, and of rich romance.
They bought the Factory: turned its stream of toil
To a flood of Joy, on Lady Laura's lands.
There Life, whose dark and stagnant waters swarmed
With hideous things, in merry radiance runs;
Brightens with health, and breaks in frolic spray;
Peeps thro' a garland green, and laughs in light;
Its rest, blessèd as tho' the calm high heavens
Had lookt it into a transfiguring trance,
Then with light-hearted morrow sparkling on—
So to the dark arch Death, thro' which the stream
Will bicker or darken for the shoreless sea.

They built their little world, wherein the Poor
Might grow the flower of Hope, and fruit of Love;
And human trees, with outstretcht arms of cheer,
Might mingle music, wreathe in bud and bloom,
And in their branches nest the birds of God,
That in immortal beauty whitely hover,
But come not down to build while boughs are bare.

They bought and sold, they ploughed, and sowed,
            and reapt.
Cheapness, Free Trade, and such Economy
As suck their strength from human blood and tears;
Feeding on beauty's waste, and Childhood's spring;
Shredding with wintry hand life's leafy prime;
They bowed not down to—Baal of the strife
That gives the Devil his own vantage-ground,
Where each man's hand is at his brother's throat;
The knight in golden mail combats the naked!
And hearts must run with never-tiring wheels!
The weak go down; the Victors merciless
Still wield the Sword of Selfish interest,
To win their crown of Individual gain,
And throne of Isolation cold and lone.

Not this, but life of freedom, law of love;
The wine-press trod by each, the cup for all;
In this serener world—this morning star
That rises out of chaos and the night,
Like throbbing heart of some Millennial Day.
Here, life is no soul-sickening round of toil;
No need to blink the Spirit's longing sight.
Here, simple Childhood opens vernal eyes,
And young blood dances thro' the veins of Age.
White Cottage homes rise from the sea of green,
Like clouds where happy spirits sit and sing.

The old wild-brier, Labour, from which spring
The radiant Roses of a warmer world,
With kindlier nurture blossoms forth anew,
A glory of Flowers, and wears immortal green;
Breaks the stern granite, sparkling into beauty,
And precious jewels glow from common stones:
Soft white hands smoothe the brow of wrinkled Wrath;
The gentle balm of Love makes hard eyes soft,
And melted hearts to swim thro' woe-worn looks,
With sweet and delicate human tenderness.
The trampled battle-field of sin-scarred faces
Is healèd with the harvest of ripe love;
Its frowning furrows crowned with ridgèd smiles.

Over their World where Passion hurtled down
Burning instead of beauty, as its sun,
And all around was black eternal night;
Love's radiant shadow sheds an atmosphere
Of soft celestial brightness, calm, and peace.
And Life goes hand in hand with happy things;
In lovely shadow-lands with spirits talks;
There with all gracious Shapes of Beauty walks,
And wins their motion, majesty, and mien;
And rears his temple rich for God, inlaid
With precious jewels and colours fair, and cries,
"Behold how good and joyful a thing it is
To dwell together in peace and unity."

Thus Lady Laura and her peasant lord
Built o'er the dead past their proud monument,
That signals to far times their message of love:
And God was with them smiling on their work.
They wrought not without hindrance, sorrow and pain:
Who work for Freedom win not in an hour:
Their cost of conquest never can be summed!
They toil and toil thro' many a bitter day,
And dark, when false friends flee, and true ones faint.
The seed of that great Truth from which shall spring
The forest of the future, and give shade
To the reapers of the harvest, must be watcht
With faith that fails not, fed with rain of tears,
And walled around with life that, fighting, fell.


______________


[Next page]

 



[Home] [Up] [Biography] [Poetry] [Prose] [Reviews] [News Reports] [Miscellanea] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be sent to Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk