Gerald Massey: My Lyrical Life I.

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Dedication.


Good Friend Of Mine, To Me Unknown,
Save For The Secret Friendship Shown,
Accept, In Your Sequestered Nook,
The Dedication Of My Book.

 

 
A GREETING.


ANNIE BESANT, brave and dear,
May some message, uttered here,
Reach you, ringing golden-clear.

Though we stand not side by side
In the front of battle wide,
Oft I think of you with pride,

Fellow-soldier in the fight!
Oft I see you flash by night,
Fiery-hearted for the Right!

You for others sow the Grain:
Yours the tears of ripening rain;
Theirs the smiling harvest-gain.

Fellow-worker! we shall be
Workers for Eternity;
Such my faith. And you shall see

Life's no bubble blown of breath
To delude the sight till death;
Whatsoe'er the Un-Seeing saith.

Love that closes dying eyes,
Wakes them too, in glad surprise:
Love that makes for ever wise.

Soul—whilst murmuring "There's no soul"—
Shall upspring like flame from coal:
Death is not Life's final goal.

Bruno lives!   Such Spirits come,
Swords, immortal-tempered, from
Fire and Forge of Martyrdom.

You have Soul enough for seven;
Life enough our earth to leaven,
Love enough to create heaven.

One of God's own faithful Few,
Whilst unknowing it, are you,
Annie Besant, bravely true.

 

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PREFATORY POEM.


A SINGER sang in sleep, and, sleeping, dreamed
He sang divinely, while his spirit seemed
So far in Music's heaven to soar and sing,
They could not follow who stood listening!
For him, the soul of sweetness found a voice.
For them, the Singer only "made a noise."

Such is the difference in the uttered strain,
From that fine music passing through the brain.
Such sumless treasures we possess in dreams,
To find at waking only mirrored gleams.
No revelation of the written word
Will render all the spirit saw and heard.

So fresh they breathed; so faded now they look;
My few poor withered flowers in a book.
Gone is the glory that once gleamed from them;
The Spirit of Light imprisoned in the gem!
Now the winged life hath settled down in words,
These seem but stuffed instead of Singing Birds.

Feelings brimful of warmth as is a rose
Of its June-red, have lost their perfumed glows;
The heaven-revealing thoughts that star-like shone,
The daily kindlings of eternal dawn,
All darkened down, like Meteors that have birth
In Heaven, to flash and quench them cold in earth.

We grasp at diamonds visible in the dew,
And open empty tear-wet hands to you!
We clasp at heart the daughters of the skies,
Their shadow stays with us; the substance flies.
Glimpses divine will peep; pictures will pass,
That leave no likeness in the Seer's glass.

The Poet's best immortally will lurk
In that rare motion of his soul at work.
Bee-like, he brings you one gold honey-drop;
But the full-swing, high on the flower-top,
'Twixt Heaven that rained itself in sweetness 
        down,
And Earth—all bloom for him—is ne'er made 
        known.

MY poem was in the making.   These are your
Warmth-needy nurslings, Reader! mine no more.
The life I gave will no more fill my breast
Than the flown birds come back to last year's nest:
And if these live again, 'tis you must give
The reflex thrill to them by which they live.

You must make out the music from the hint
Prelusive: I but tune the instrument.
The glory or the gladness or the grace
Must shine for me re-orient in your face.
The seed, that in my life took secret root,
In yours must bud, and flower, and bear you fruit.

 

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MY LYRICAL LIFE.


BABE CHRISTABEL.


IT fell upon a merry May morn,
        All in the prime of that sweet time
        When daisies whiten, woodbines climb,—
The dear Babe Christabel was born:

When Earth like Danaë bares her charms,
        That for the coming God unfold,
        Who, in the Sunshine's shower of Gold
Leaps warmly into her amorous arms;

When Beauty dons her daintiest dress,
        And, fed with April's mellow showers,
        The woods laugh out all leaves and flowers
That flush for very happiness;

And Spider-Puck his wonder weaves
        O' night: and nooks of greening gloom
        Grow rich with Violets that bloom
In the cool dusk of dewy leaves;

Green fields transfigure, like a page
        Of Fable to the eye of Faith;
        Where cowslips and primroses rathe
Bring back a real Golden Age;

When Rose-buds drink the fiery wine
        Of Dawn, with crimson stains i' the mouth,
        All thirstily as yearning Youth
From Love's hand drinks the draught divine;

When fainting hearts forget their fears,
        And in the poorest Life's salt cup
        Some rare wine runs, and Hope builds up
Her rainbow over Memory's tears,—

It fell upon a merry May morn,
        All in the prime of that sweet time
        When daisies whiten, woodbines climb,—
The dear Babe Christabel was born.

_______________


ALL night the Stars bright watches kept,
        Like Gods that look a golden calm;
        The Silence dropped its precious balm,
And the tired world serenely slept.

The birds were darkling in the nest,
        Or bosomed in voluptuous trees:
        On beds of flowers the happy breeze
Had kissed its fill and sank to rest.

All night beneath the Cottage eaves,
        A lonely light, with tremulous Arc,
        Surged back a space the sea of dark,
And glanced among the shimmering leaves.

And when the Morn with frolic zest,
        Unclosed the curtains of the night,
        There was a dearer dawn of light,
A tenderer life the Mother's pressed,

And she at all her suffering smiled.
        The Star new-kindled in the dark—
        Life that had fluttered like a Lark—
Lay in her bosom a sweet Child!

How she had felt it drawing down
        Her nesting heart more close and close,—
        Her rose-bud ripening to the Rose,
That she should one day see full-blown!

How she had throbbed with hopes and fears,
        And strained her inner eyes till dim,
        To see the expected glory swim
Through the rich mist of happy tears;

For it, her woman's heart drank up,
        And laughed at, Sorrow's darkest dole:
        And now Delight's most dainty soul
Was crushed for her in one rich cup!

And then delicious languors crept,
        Like nectar, on her pain's hot drouth,
        And feeling fingers—kissing mouth—
Being faint with joy, the Mother slept.

_______________


BABE Christabel was royally born!
        For when the earth was flushed with flowers,
        And drenched with beauty in sun-showers,
She came through golden gates of Morn.

No chamber arras-pictured round,
        Where sunbeams make a gorgeous gloom,
        And touch its glories into bloom,
And footsteps fall withouten sound,

Was her Birth-place that merry May-morn;
        No gifts were heaped, no bells were rung,
        No healths were drunk, no songs were sung
When dear Babe Christabel was born:

But Nature on the darling smiled,
        And with her beauty's blessing crowned:
        Love brooded o'er the hallowed ground,
And there were Angels with the Child.

And May her kisses of love did bring;
        Her Birds made welcoming merriment,
        And all her flowers in greeting sent
The secret sweetnesses of Spring.

In glancing light and glimmering shade,
        With cheeks that touched and ripelier burned
        May-Roses in at the lattice yearned,
A-tiptoe, and Good Morrow bade.

No purple and fine linen might
        Be hoarded up for her sweet sake:
        But Mother's love will clothe and make
The little wearer bravely dight!

Wide worlds of worship are their eyes,
        Their loyal hearts are worlds of love,
        Who fondly clasp their cooing Dove,
And read its news from Paradise.

Their looks praise God—souls sing for glee:
        They think if this old world had toiled
        Through ages to bring forth their child,
It was a glorious destiny.

_______________


O HAPPY Husband! happy Wife!
        The rarest blessing Heaven drops down,
        The sweetest blossom in Spring's crown,
Starts in the furrows of your life!

Ah! what a towering height ye win,
        Who cry, "Lo, my beloved Child!"
        And, life on life sublimely piled,
Ye touch the heavens and peep within.

Look how a star of glory swims
        Down aching silences of space,
        Flushing the Darkness till its face
With beating heart of light o'erbrims;

So brightening came Babe Christabel,
        To touch the earth with fresh romance,
        And light a Mother's countenance
With looking on her miracle.

With hands so flower-like soft, and fair,
        She caught at life, with words as sweet
        As first spring violets, and feet
As faëry-light as feet of air.

The Father, down in Toil's mirk mine,
        Turns to his wealthier world above,
        Its radiance, and its home of love;
And lights his life like sun-struck wine.

The Mother moves with queenlier tread:
        Proud swell the globes of ripe delight
        Above her heart, so warm and white
A pillow for the baby-head!

Their natures deepen, well-like, clear,
        Till God's eternal stars are seen,
        For ever shining and serene,
By eyes anointed Beauty's seer.

A sense of glory all things took,—
        The red Rose-Heart of Dawn would blow,
        And Sundown's sumptuous pictures show
Babe-Cherubs wearing their Babe's look!

And round their peerless one they clung,
        Like bees about a flower's wine-cup;
        New thoughts and feelings blossomed up,
And hearts for very fulness sung

Of what their budding Babe should grow,
        When the Maid crimsoned into Wife,
        And crowned the summit of some life,
To bear the morning on her brow!

And they should bless her for a Bride,
        Who, like a splendid saint alit
        In some heart's seventh heaven, should sit,
As now in theirs, all glorified.

'Twas thus they built their Castles brave
        In faëry lands of gorgeous cloud;
        They never saw a wee white shroud,
Nor guessed how flowers will mask the grave.

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SHE grew, a sweet and sinless Child,
        In shine and shower,—calm and strife;
        A Rainbow on our dark of Life,
From Love's own radiant heaven down-smiled!

In lonely loveliness she grew,—
        A shape all music, light, and love,
        With startling looks, so eloquent of
The spirit whitening into view.

At Childhood she could seldom play
        With merry heart, whose flashes rise
        Like splendour-wingèd butterflies
From honeyed hearts of flowers in May:

The fields in blossom flamed and flushed,
        The Roses into crimson yearned,
        With cloudy fire the wall-flowers burned,
And blood-red Sunsets bloomed and blushed,—

And still her cheek grew pale as pearl,—
        It took no tint of Summer's wealth
        Of colour, warmth, and wine of Health:
Death's hand so whitely pressed the Girl!

No blush grew ripe to sun or kiss
        Where violet veins ran purple light,
        So tenderly through Parian white,
Touching you into tenderness.

A spirit-look was in her face,
        That shadowed a miraculous range
        Of meanings, ever rich and strange,
Or lightened glory in the place.

Such mystic lore was in her eyes,
        And light of other worlds than ours,
        She looked as she had gathered flowers,
With little maids of Paradise.

And she would talk so weirdly-wild,
        And grow upon your wonderings,
        As though her stature rose on wings!
And you forgot she was a Child.

Ah! she was one of those who come
        With pledge and promise not to stay
        Long, ere the Angels let them stray
To nestle down in earthly home:

And, through the windows of her eyes,
        We often saw her saintly soul,
        Serene, and sad, and beautiful,
Go sorrowing for lost Paradise!

Our Lamb in mystic meadows played:
        In some celestial sleep she walked
        Her dream of life, and low we talked,
As of her waking heart-afraid.

In Earth she took no lusty root,
        Her beauty of promise to disclose,
        Or round into the Woman-Rose,
And climb into Life's crowning fruit.

She came,—as comes the light of smiles
        O'er earth, and every budding thing
        Makes quick with beauty—alive with 
                 Spring;
Then goeth to the golden Isles.

She came—like music in the night
        Floating as heaven in the brain,
        A moment oped, and shut again,
And all is dark where all was light.

_______________


MIDNIGHT was trancèd solemnly
        Thinking  of  dawn:    Her Star-thoughts 
                burned;
        The Trees like burdened Prophets yearned,
Rapt in a wind of prophecy:

When, like the Night, the shadow of Woe
        On all things laid its hand death-dark,
        Our last hope went out as a spark,
And a cry smote heaven like a blow.

We sat and watched by Life's dark stream,
        Our love-lamp blown about the night,
        With hearts that lived as lived its light,
And died as died its precious gleam.

In Death's face hers flashed up and smiled,
        As smile the young flowers in their prime,
        I' the face of their gray murderer Time,
And Death for true love kissed our child.

She thought our good-night kiss was given,
        And like a flower her life did close.
        Angels uncurtained that repose,
And the next waking dawned in heaven.

They snatched our little tenderling,
        So shyly opening into view,
        Delighted, as the Children do
The primrose that is first in Spring.

_______________


WITH her white hands clasped she sleepeth; heart 
            is hushed, and lips are cold;
    Death shrouds up her heaven of beauty, and a 
            weary way we go,
Like the sheep without a Shepherd on the wintry 
            norland wold,
        With the face of Day shut out by blinding 
            snow.

O'er its widowed nest my heart sits moaning for 
            its youngling fled
    From this world of wail and weeping, gone to 
            join her starry peers;
And my light of life's o'ershadowed where the dear 
            one lieth dead,
        And I'm crying in the dark with many fears.

All last night-tide she seemed near me, like a lost 
            beloved Bird,
    Beating at the lattice louder than the sobbing 
            wind and rain;
And I called across the night with tender name 
            and fondling word;
        And I yearned out through the darkness, all 
            in vain.

Heart will plead, "Eyes cannot see her: they are 
            blind with tears of pain;"
    And it climbeth up and straineth for dear life 
            to look and hark
While I call her once again: but there cometh no 
            refrain,
        And it droppeth down, and dieth in the dark.

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IN this dim world of clouding cares,
        We rarely know, till wildered eyes
        See white wings lessening up the skies,
The Angels with us unawares.

And thou hast stolen a jewel, Death!
        Shall light thy dark up like a Star,
        A Beacon kindling from afar
Our light of love, and fainting faith.

Through tears it streams perpetually,
        And glitters through the thickest glooms,
        Till the eternal morning comes
To light us o'er the Jasper Sea.

With our best branch in tenderest leaf,
        We've strewn the way our Lord doth come;
        And, ready for the harvest-home,
His Reapers bind our ripest sheaf.

Our beautiful Bird of light hath fled:
        Awhile she sat with folded wings—
        Sang round us a few hoverings—
Then straightway into glory sped.

With sense of Motherhood new-found
        Some white-winged Angel nurtures her,
        High on the heavenly hills of myrrh,
With all Love's purple glory round.

Through Childhood's morning-land, serene
        She walked betwixt us twain, like Love;
        While, in a robe of light above,
Her watching Angel walked unseen,

Till Life's highway broke bleak and wild;
        Then, lest her starry garments trail
        In mire, heart bleed, and courage fail,
The Angel's arms caught up the child.

Her wave of life hath backward rolled
        To the great ocean; on whose shore
        We wander up and down, to store
Some treasures of the times of old:

And aye we seek and hunger on
        For precious pearls and relics rare,
        Strewn on the sands for us to wear
At heart, for love of her that's gone.

O weep no more! there yet is balm
        In Gilead; Love doth ever shed
        Rich healing where it nestles,—spread
O'er desert pillows, some green Palm!

God's ichor fills the hearts that bleed;
        The best fruit loads the broken bough;
        And in the wounds our sufferings plough,
Love sows its own immortal seed.

Strange glory runs down Life's cloud-rents,
        And through the open door of Death
        We see the hand that beckoneth
To the beloved going hence.

 

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COUSIN WINNIE


THE glad spring-green grows luminous
    With coming Summer's golden glow;
Merry Birds sing as they sang to us
    In far-off seasons, long ago:
The old place brings the young Dawn back,
    That moist eyes mirror in their dew;
My heart goes forth along the track
    Where oft it danced, dear Winnie, with you.
A world of Time, a sea of change,
    Have rolled between the paths we tread,
Since you were my "Cousin Winnie," and I
    Was your "own little, good little Ned."

There's where I nearly broke my neck,
    Climbing for nests! and hid my pain:
And then I thought your heart would break,
    To have the Birds put back again!
Yonder, with lordliest tenderness,
    I carried you across the Brook;
So happy in my arms to press
    You, triumphing in your timid look:
So lovingly you leaned to mine
    Your cheek of sweet and dusky red:
You were my "Cousin Winnie," and I
    Was your "own little, good little Ned."

My Being in your presence basked,
    And kitten-like for pleasure purred;
A higher heaven I never asked
    Than watching, wistful as a bird,
To hear that voice so rich and low;
    Or sun me in the rosy rise
Of some soul-ripening smile, and know
    The thrill of opening paradise.
The Boy might look too tenderly,
    All lightly 'twas interpreted:
You were my "Cousin Winnie," and I
    Was your "own little, good little Ned."

Ay me, but I remember how
    I felt the heart-break, bitterly,
When the Well-handle smote your brow,
    Because the blow fell not on me!
Such holy longing filled my life,
    I could have died, Sweet, for your sake;
But never thought of you as Wife;
    A cure to clasp for love's heart-ache.
You entered my soul's temple, Dear,
    Something to worship, not to wed:
You were my "Cousin Winnie," and I
    Was your "own little, good little Ned."

I saw you, heaven on heaven higher,
    Grow into stately womanhood;
Your beauty kindling with the fire
    That swims in proud old English blood:
Away from me,—a radiant Joy!—
    You soared; fit for a Hero's bride:
While I, a Man in soul, a Boy
    In stature, nestled at your side!
You saw not how the poor wee Love
    Pined dumbly, and thus doubly pled:
You were my "Cousin Winnie," and I
    Was your "own little, good little Ned."

And then that other voice came in!
    There my Life's music suddenly stopped.
Silence and darkness fell between
    Us, and my Star from heaven dropped.
I led Him by the hand to you—
    He was my Friend—whose name you bear:
I had prayed for some great task to do,
    To prove my love.   I did it, Dear!
He was not jealous of poor me;
    Nor saw my life bleed under his tread:
You were my "Cousin Winnie," and I
    Was your "own little, good little Ned."

I smiled, Dear, at your happiness—
    So Martyrs smile upon the spears—
The smile of your reflected bliss
    Flashed from my heart's dark tarn of tears!
In love, that made the suffering sweet,
    My blessing with the rest was given—
"God's softest flowers kiss her feet
    On Earth, and crown Her head in Heaven!"
And lest the heart should leap to tell
    Its tale i' the eyes, I bowed the head:
You were my "Cousin Winnie," and I
    Was your "own little, good little Ned."

I do not blame you, Darling mine;
    You could not know the love that lurked
To make my life so intertwine
    With yours, and with mute mystery worked.
And, had you known, how distantly
    Your calm eyes would have looked it down,
Darkling with all the majesty
    Of Midnight wearing her star-crown!
Into its virgin veil of cloud,
    The startled dearness would have fled.
You were my "Cousin Winnie," and I
    Was your "own little, good little Ned."

I stretch my hand across the years;
    Feel, Dear, the heart still pulses true:
I have often dropped internal tears,
    Thinking the kindest thoughts of you.
I have fought like one in iron, they said,
    Who through the battle followed me.
I struck the blows for you, and bled
    Within my armour secretly.
Not caring for the cheers, my heart
    Far into the golden time had fled:
You were my "Cousin Winnie," and I
    Was your "own little, good little Ned."

I sometimes see you in my dreams,
    Asking for aid I may not give:
Down from your eyes the sorrow streams,
    And helplessly I look and grieve
At arms that toss with wild heart-ache,
    And secrets writhing to be told:
I start to hear your voice, I wake—
    There's nothing but the moaning cold!
Sometimes I pillow in mine arms
    The darling little rosy head.
You are my "Cousin Winnie," and I
    Am your "own little, good little Ned."

I bear the name of Hero now,
    And flowers at my feet are cast;
I feel the crown upon my brow—
    So keen the thorns that hold it fast!
Ay me, and I would rather wear
    The cooling green and luminous glow
Of one you made with Cowslips, Dear,
    A many golden Springs ago.
Your gentle fingers did not give
    This ache of heart, this throb of head,
When you were my "Cousin Winnie," and I
    Was your "own little, good little Ned."

Alone, unwearying, year by year,
    I go on laying up my love.
I think God makes no promise here
    But it shall be fulfilled above;
I think my wild weed of the waste
    Will one day prove a flower most sweet;
My love shall bear its fruit at last—
    'Twill all be righted when we meet;
And I shall find them gathered up
    In pearls for you—the tears I've shed
Since you were my "Cousin Winnie," and I
    Was your "own little, good little Ned."

 

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HESPER.


We called her Hesper; for it seemed
Our Star of Eve had on us beamed,
Like Hesper, from the Heaven above,
To latest life a Lamp of love.

But for a little while withdrawn
She heralds an Eternal Dawn,
Above these mists of mortal breath,
Our Hesper in the dark of death!

Beyond the Shadow of the night
That parted us, she lifts her light
To beacon us the Homeward way,
Where we shall meet again by day.

The Star of Eve may set, but how
It shines, the Star of Morning now,
And smiles with look of love that dries
All tears from our uplifted eyes!

 

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APOLOGUES.

THE YOUTH AND THE ANGEL.


Once on a time, when Immortals
    To earth came visibly down,
There went a Youth with an Angel
    Through the gates of an Eastern Town:
They passed a Dog by the roadside,
    Where dead and rotting it lay,
And the Youth, at the sickening odour,
    Shuddered and turned away:
He gathered his robes about him
    And hastily hurried thence;
But nought annoyed the Angel's
    Clear, pure, immortal sense.

By came a Lady, lip-luscious,
    On delicate tinkling feet:
All the place grew glad with her presence;
    The air about her sweet;
For she came in fragrance floating;
    Her voice most silverly rang;
And the Youth, to embrace her beauty,
    With all his being sprang.
A sweet, delightsome Lady!
    And yet, the Legend saith,
The Angel, while he passed her,
    Shuddered and held his breath.

 

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SUNBEAM AND ROSE.


"PRETTY Rosebud, are thy emerald
    Curtains still undrawn?
Odalisque of Flowers,—
    Tender soul o' the fervid South!
I am dainty of thy beauty,
    All this dewy dawn;
I am fainting for the ruddy
    Kisses of thy mouth."

Sweetly sang the Sunbeam,
    With a voice made low to win;
Round the Rose-heart playing,
    Till it touched the tenderest strings;
"Pretty Rose-bud, ope thy lattice,
    Let thy true love in."
And for Heaven down-wavering warm,
    She waved her leafy wings!
Listen, Maidens, to my Legend
        of the Sunbeam and the Rose.

Out she sprang, kiss-coloured,
    In her eyes the dews of bliss;
All her beauty glowing
    With a blush of bridal light;
Gave her balm and bloom for
        banquet
    To the Tempter's kiss;
Proudly oped each chamber
    For a princelier delight.

Soon the Snake of Sweetness,
    Sated, could no longer stay;
And away he went, a-wooing
    Every flower that blows!
'Twas the reign of Roses
    When her Lover passed to-day:
Lonely in her rifled ruin
    Drooped the dying Rose!
Listen, Maidens, to my Legend of
        the Sunbeam and the Rose.

 

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LOVE-LONGING.


LIKE a tree beside the river
    Of her life that runs from me,
Do I lean me, murmuring ever
    In my love's idolatry:
Lo, I reach out hands of blessing;
    Lo, I stretch out hands of prayer;
And, with passionate caressing,
    Pour my life upon the air.
In my ears the siren river
    Sings, and smiles up in my face;
But for ever and for ever
    Runs from my embrace.

Spring by Spring the branches duly
    Clothe themselves in tender flower;
And for her sweet sake as truly
    All their fruit and fragrance shower:
But the stream, with careless laughter,
    Fleets in merry beauty by,
And it leaves me yearning after,
    Lorn to droop, and lone to die.
In my ears the siren river
    Sings, and smiles up in my face;
But for ever and for ever
    Runs from my embrace.

I stand mazèd in the moonlight,
    O'er its happy face to dream;
I am parchèd in the noonlight
    By that cool and brimming stream:
I am dying by the river
    Of her life that runs from me,
And it sparkles past me ever,
    With its cool felicity.
In my ears the siren river
    Sings, and smiles up in my face;
But for ever and for ever
    Runs from my embrace.

 

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THE NEST.


I BUILT my Nest by a pleasant stream,
That glided along with a smile in its gleam,
    Bringing me gold that was sumless;
Ah me! but the floods came drowning one day,
Swept my Nest with its wealth away,
    And I in the world was homeless!

I built my Nest in a gay green tree,
And the summer of life went merrily
    With us—we were Birds of a feather!
But the leaves soon fell, and my pretty ones flew,
And through my Nest the bitter winds blew;
    'Twas bare in the wildest weather.

I built my Nest under Heaven's high eaves;
No rising of floods, no falling of leaves,
    Can mock my heart's endeavour.
Waters may wash, breezes may blow,
In the bosom of Rest I shall smile, I shall know
    My Nest is safe for ever.

 

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HUNT THE SQUIRREL.


IT was Atle of Vermeland
    In Winter used to go
A-hunting up in the pine-forest,
    With snow-shoes, sledge, and bow.

Soon his sledge with the soft fine furs
    Was heaped up heavily,
Enough to warm old Winter with,
    And a wealthy man was he.

When just as he was going back home,
    He looked up into a Tree;
There sat a merry brown Squirrel, that
        seemed
    To say—"You can't shoot me!"

And he twinkled all over temptingly,
    To the tip of his tail a-curl!
His humour was arch as the look may be
    Of a would-be-wooed sweet Girl,

That makes the Lover follow her, follow her,
    All his life up-caught,
A-dreaming on with sleeping wings,
    High in the heaven of thought.

Atle he left his sledge and furs;
    All day his arrows rung,—
The Squirrel went leaping from bough
        to bough,—
    Only himself they stung.

He hunted far in the dark forest,
    Till died the last day-gleams;
Then wearily laid him down to rest,
    And hunted it through his dreams.

All night long the snow fell fast,
    And covered his snug fur-store;
Long, long did he strain his eyes,
    But never found it more.

Home came Atle of Vermeland,
    No Squirrel!   No furs for the mart!
Empty head brought empty hand;
    Both a very full heart.

Ah, many a one hunts the Squirrel,
    In merry or mournful truth;
Until the gathering snows of age
    Cover the treasures of Youth.

Deeper into the forest dark
    The Squirrel will dance all day;
'Till eyes go blind and miss their mark,
    And hearts will lose their way.

My Boy! if you should ever espy
    This Squirrel up in the tree,
With a dancing devil in its eye,
    Just let the Squirrel be!

 

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THE GLOW-WORM.

 
The Apes found a Glow-worm,
    Smiling in the night,—
A little drop of radiance
    Tenderly alight.

"Ho! ho!" shivered the Apes,
    Grinning all together,
"We'll make a fire to warm us;
    'Tis jolly cold weather."

With dry sticks and dead leaves,
    All the Apes came;
Piled a heap and squatted round
    To blow it into flame!

But fire would not kindle so—
    Vain their wasted breath!
Only they blew out the glow,
    And put the worm to death!

Glow-worms were meant to shine,—
    Apes can't blow them hot,
Just to warm their foolish paws,
    Or boil their own flesh-pot.

So the world would serve the Poet,
    With his light of love:
Probably his use may be
    Better known above.

 

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THE SUNKEN CITY.


BY day it lies hidden, and lurks beneath
    The ripples that laugh with light;
But calmly and clearly and coldly as death
    It looms into shape by night,
When—the awful Heavens alone with me!—
I look on the City that's sunk in the sea.

Many a Castle I built in the air;
    Towers that gleamed in the sun;
Spires that soared up stately and fair,
    Till they touched heaven, every one,
Lie under the waters that mournfully
Closed over the City that's sunk in the sea.

Many fine houses, but never a home;
    Windows, and no live face!
Doors set wide where no beating hearts come;
    No voice is heard in the place;
It sleeps in the arms of Eternity—
The silent City that's sunk in the sea.

There the face of a dead love lies,
    Embalmed in the bitterest tears;
No breath on the lips! no smile in the eyes,
    Though you watched for years and years:
And the dear drowned eyes never close from me,
Looking up from the City that's sunk in the sea.

Two of the bonniest birds of God
    That ever warmed human heart
For a nest, till they fluttered their wings abroad,
    Lie in their chambers apart—
Dead! yet pleading most piteously
In the lonesome City that's sunk in the sea.

Oh, the brave Ventures there lying a wreck,
    Dark on the shore of the Lost!
Gone down with every hope on deck,
    When all-sail for a glorious Coast!
And the waves go sparkling splendidly
Over the City that's sunk in the sea.

Then I look from my City that's sunk in the sea,
    To that Star-Chamber overhead;
And torturingly they question me—
    "What of this world of the Dead
That lies out of sight? and how will it be
With the City and thee, when there's no more sea?"

 

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HOW IT SEEMS.


STARS in the Midnight's blue abyss
So closely shine, they seem to kiss;
But, Darling, they are far apart;
They close not beating heart to heart:

And high in glory many a Star
Glows, lighting other worlds afar,
Whilst hiding in its breast the dearth
And darkness of a fireless hearth.

All happy to the listener seems
The singer, with his gracious gleams;
His music rings, his ardours glow
Divinely: ah, we know, we know!

For all the beauty he sheds, we see
How bare his own poor life may be;
He gives Ambrosia, wanting bread;
Makes balm for Hearts, with ache of head.

He finds the Laurel budding yet,
From Love transfigured and tear-wet;
They are his life-drops turned to Flowers,
That make so sweet this world of ours!

 

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THE WILD-FLOWER.


A VAGRANT Wild-Flower sown by God,
    Out in the waste was born;
It sprang up as a Corn-flower
    In the golden fields of Corn:
The Corn all strong and stately
    In its bearded bravery grew—
Gathered the gold for harvest
    From earth and sun and dew;
And when it bowed the head,—as Wind
    And Shadow ran their race,
Like influences from Heaven
    Come to Earth, for playing place,—
It seemed to look down on the Flower
    All in a smiling scorn,
"Poor thing! you grow no grain for food,
    Or garner," said the Corn.

The bonny Flower felt lonely,
  Its look grew tearful-sad;
But there came a smile of sunshine
  And its beauty grew so glad!
Ah, bonny Flower! it bloomed its best
  Contented with its place;
A blessing fell upon it
  As it looked up in Heaven's face;
And there they grew together
  Till the Reapers white-winged came—
All their Sickles shining!
  All their faces were a-flame;
The Corn they reaped for earthly use,
  But an Angel fell in love
With that Wild Flower, and wore it
  At the Harvest-Home above!

 

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THE BIRD OF MORN.


UP out of the Corn the Lark carolled in light,
Like a new splendour sprung from the dark hush 
        of Night;
Green light shimmered laughing o'er forest and sod;
The rich sky was full of the presence of God.
A fountain of rapture he lavished around
His wealth of bird-fancies in blithest of sound:
All through the Morn's sun-city, sea-like his psalm,
With melodious waves dashed the bright world of 
        calm:
  But heavily hung the drooped ears of the Corn:
  Gathering gold in the dewy morn.

And he sang, as on heaven's fire-grains he had fed,
Till his heart's merry wine had made drunken his 
        head.
How he sang! as his honey in Life's cells ne'er 
        dwindled,
And bonfires of Joy on all Life's hills were 
        kindled:
He sang, as he felt that to singing was given
The magic to build rainbow-stairways to heaven!
And he could not have sung with more lusty cheer,
Had all the world listened a-tiptoe to hear!
  All the while heavily hung the Corn,
  Its drowsy ears heard not the minstrel of Morn.

 

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A BIRD OF NIGHT.


SING, Birdie, concealed in your Bower,
Sing, Birdie, for this is the hour,
Shake round you the musical shower,
    Like Larks from their cloud in the Spring:

The Star of the twilight is twinkling,
The bicycle bells are a-tinkling,
And I have a prescient inkling
    That Birdie is going to sing.

She sings not for laud or for Lover;
She sings all unseen as the Dove, or
The Nightingale hid in her cover;
    She sings—her delight is to sing!

I seek not my supper or pillow,
My bosom will heave like a billow,
I hang up my harp on the Willow,
    And listen like anything.

Sing, Birdie, when days have been dreary,
Sing, Birdie, when hearts are a-weary,
Sing, Birdie, till spirits grow cheery,
    Sing, Birdie, that never takes wing!

Sing, Birdie, in Spring or September,
From New Year to last of December;
Sing, Birdie, and never remember,
    That any one's listening!

 

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THE LADY OF LIGHT.


STAR of the Day and the Night!
    Star of the Dark that is dying;
    Star of the Dawn that is nighing,
            Lucifer, Lady of Light!

Still with the purest in white,
    Still art thou Queen of the Seven;
    Thou hast not fallen from Heaven,
            Lucifer, Lady of Light!

How large in thy lustre, how bright
    The beauty of promise thou wearest!
    The message of Morning thou bearest,
            Lucifer, Lady of Light!

Aid us in putting to flight
    The Shadows that darken about us,
    Illumine within, as without, us,
            Lucifer, Lady of Light!

Shine through the thick of our fight;
    Open the eyes of the sleeping;
    Dry up the tears of the weeping,
            Lucifer, Lady of Light!

Purge with thy pureness our sight,
    Thou light of the lost ones who love us,
    Thou lamp of the Leader above us,
            Lucifer, Lady of Light!

Shine with transfiguring might,
    Till earth shall reflect back as human
    Thy Likeness, Celestial Woman,
            Lucifer, Lady of Light!

With the flame of thy radiance smite
    The clouds that are veiling the vision
    Of Woman's millennial mission,
            Lucifer, Lady of Light!

Shine in the Depth and the Height,
    And show us the treasuries olden
    Of Wisdom, the hidden, the golden,
            Lucifer, Lady of Light!

 

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LITTLE PEARL.


"Poor little Pearl, good little Pearl!"
    Sighed every kindly neighbour;
It was so sad to see a girl
    So tender, doomed to labour.

A wee bird fluttered from its nest
    Too soon, was that meek creature;
Just fit to rest in mother's breast,
    The darling of fond Nature.

God shield poor little ones, where all
    Must help to be bread-bringers!
For once afoot, there's none too small
    To ply their tiny fingers.

Poor Pearl, she had no time to play
    The merry game of childhood;
From dawn to dark she went all day,
    A-wooding in the wild-wood.

When others played she stole apart
    In pale and shadowy quiet;
Too full of care was her child-heart
    For laughter running riot.

Hard lot for such a tender life,
    And miserable guerdon;
But, like a womanly wee wife,
    She bravely bore her burden.

One wintry day they wanted wood,
    When need was at the sorest;
Wee Pearl, without a bit of food
    Must up and to the forest.

But there she sank down in the snow,
    All over numbed and aching;
Poor little Pearl, she cried as though
    Her very heart was breaking.

The blinding snow shut out the house
    From little Pearl so weary;
The lonesome wind among the boughs
    Moaned with its warnings eerie.

A Spirit-Child to wee Pearl came,
    With footfall light as Fairy;
He took her hand, he called her name,
    The voice was sweet and airy.

His gentle eyes filled tenderly
    With mystical wet brightness:
"And would you like to come with me,
    And wear the robe of whiteness?"

He bore her bundle to the door,
    Gave her a flower when going;
"My darling, I shall come once more,
    When the little bud is blowing."

Home very wan came little Pearl,
    But on her face strange glory;
They only thought, "What ails the girl?"
    And laughed to hear her story.

Next morn the Mother sought her child,
    And clasped it to her bosom;
Poor little Pearl, in death she smiled,
    And the rose was full in blossom.

 

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THE MAIDEN MARRIAGE.


SHE sat in her virgin bower,
    Half sad with fancies sweet,
And wist not Love drew softly nigh,
    Till she nestled at his feet.
"Arise, arise, thou fair Maiden;
    And adieu, adieu, thou dear!
But meet me, meet me at the Kirk,
    In the May-time of the year."

Up in her face of holy grace
    The startled splendour broke;
Her smile was as a dream of heaven
    Fulfilled whene'er she spoke.
She felt such bliss in her beauty,
    Such pleasure in her power
To richly clothe her perfect love
    For a peerless marriage dower.

"Now kiss me, kiss me, Mother dear;
    He calls me, I must go!"
She went to the Kirk at tryste-time,
    In raiment like the snow.
But he who clasped her there was Death;
    And he hath led her where
No voice is heard, there is no breath
    Upon the frosty air.

 

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THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR
AS THYSELF.


To love our neighbour, we are told,
"Even as thyself."    That Creed I hold;
But love her more, a thousand-fold!

My lovely Neighbour; oft we meet
In lonely lane, or crowded street;
I know the music of her feet.

She little thinks how, on a day,
She must have missed her usual way,
And walked into my heart for aye.

Or how the rustle of her dress
Thrills through me like a soft caress,
With trembles of deliciousness.

Wee woman, with her smiling mien,
And soul celestially serene,
She passes me, unconscious Queen!

Her face most innocently good,
Where shyly peeps the sweet red blood:
Her form a nest of Womanhood!

Like Raleigh—for her dainty tread,
When ways are miry—I could spread
My cloak, but, there's my heart instead.

Ah, Neighbour, you will never know
Why 'tis my step is quickened so;
Nor what the prayer I murmur low!

I see you 'mid your flowers at morn,
Fresh as the rosebud newly born;
I marvel, can you have a thorn?

If so, 'twere sweet to lean one's breast
Against it, and, the more it pressed,
Sing like the Bird that sorrow hath blessed.

I hear you sing!   And through me Spring
Doth musically ripple and ring;
Little you think I'm listening!

You know not, dear, how dear you be;
All dearer for the secrecy:
Nothing, and yet a world to me.

So near, too! you could hear me sigh,
Or see my case with half an eye;
But must not.   There are reasons why.

 

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AN APOLOGUE.


IT was a goodly Apple,
    The topmost on the Tree,
That golden grew, and sweet all
        through,
    As Fruit that few could see.

Soft in God's smile it glistened,
    A Crown that might be given,
To man, if he would soar and win
    The Woman nighest Heaven.

Ah! many sighed with longing,
    To see the fruitage drop,
But no one climbed to gather it
    From off the tall tree-top!

And many ran for Apples
    That were rolled along the sod;
But this, which did but tempt toward
        Heaven,
    Was left alone for God.

 

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The dear ones who are worthiest of our love
Below, are also worthiest above.
Too lofty is his place in glory now,
For hands like ours to reach and wreathe his brow:
A few poor flowers we plant upon his tomb,
Watered with tears to make them breathe and bloom.
The gentle soul that was so long thy ward,
Now hovers over thee, thine Angel-Guard:
And, as thou mourn'st above his dust so dear,
Thy happy Comforter draws smiling near.
     Look up, dear friend, our Doves of Earth but rise,
     Transfigured into Birds of Paradise.

 

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IN MEMORIAM.


APPARELLED richly in presence of the Gods,
With crown upon his brow, the old Greek stood,
And offered up his soul at Sacrifice.
Even then the tidings came,—"THY SON IS DEAD."

They saw the sharp words pierce him through and 
       
through,
The firm lip quiver, and the face grow white;
They saw the strong man tremble to the knees:
Slowly the big drops gathered in his eyes:
Slowly he took the crown from off his head,
And let it fall to the ground, as one who feels
Heart-broke all over,—for his pride of life
Hath faded; all his strength spilled in the dust.

But, when the Messenger went on to tell
The exulting story—how the valiant youth
Had lost a life to win a country's love;
How bravely he had borne him in the battle;
How well he fought, how gloriously he fell;
The weeping Father put his war-look on,
And rose up with the stature of his soul—
All his life listening at the hungry ear—
Eyes burning with the splendour of quenched 
       
tears—
His pillared chin firm-set, his brave mouth clenched
In calm resolve to bear, and on his face
A smile as if of Sword-light!
                                                        Then he stooped,
And gently took the crown up from the ground;
Softly replaced it on his brow, and wore
It proudly, as the visible symbol of
That other awful crown which darkened down.

So, when the word came that our friend was 
        dead,
We bowed beneath the burden of our loss,
And could have grovelled straightway, prone in 
        dust.
But looking on the happy death he died,
And thinking of the holy life he lived,
And knowing he was one of those that soon
Attain their starry stature, and are crown'd,
We could not linger in the dust to weep,
But were upborne from earth as if on wings;
A sunbeam in the soul dried up the tears,
In which the sorrow trembled to be gone;
For his dear sake we could afford to smile.
Why should we weep, when 'tis so well with him?
Our loss even cannot measure his great gain!
Why should we weep when death is but a mask
Through which we know the face of Life beyond?
Grief did but bow us at his grave to show
Far more of Heaven in the landscape round!

For such a vestal soul as his,—so pure,
So crystal-clear, so filled with light, we looked
As at some window of the other world,
And almost saw the Angel smiling through—
'Twas but a step from out our muddy street
Of earth, on to the pavement all of pearl.

Why should we weep?    We do not bury love;
The dust of earth but claims its kindred dust;
We do not drop our jewels in the grave,
And have no need to seek our treasures there.
We do not bury life, and cannot feel
The grave-grass grow betwixt our warmth and 
        him;
Death emptieth the House, but not the Heart:
That keeps its darlings safe though out of sight.

Let us uplift the eyelids of the Mind,
And see the living Love who dwelt awhile
In that frail body, now a spirit of Light,
All jubilant upon the hills of God.
This gloom we feel, this mourning that we wear,
Is but the Shadow of his lordlier height.

Why should they weep who have another friend
In death; another thread to guide them through
Life's maze; another tie to draw them home;
A firmer foothold in the infinite;
Another kinsman on the spiritual side;
Another grasp to greet them through the Void;
Another face to kindle with its life
The pale impersonality of God?

The dearest souls, you know, must part in sleep,
Though lying hand in hand, or side by side,
And death is but a little longer night.
A little while, and we shall wake to find
The clasp unbroken by the dark, and see
Our lost ones with us face to face, and feel
All years of yearning summed up in a kiss.

Why should we fear the Grave?    It is the bed
Where the Kings lay in State with Angels round,
And hallowed it for evermore to us.
Why should we fear the Grave?   It is the way
The Conquerors went, and made the very dust
Grow starry with the sparkle of their splendour,
And left the darkness conscious of their presence.
We can look down upon the Grave now they
Have plumbed it, spanned it, one foot on each side.

Through their dear love who have abolished death,
We may shut up our Graveyards of the heart,
That looked so grim of old, and plant anew
This garden of our God to smile with flowers.

Why do we shrink so from Eternity?
We are in Eternity from Birth, not Death!
Eternity is not beyond the stars—
Some far Hereafter—it is Here, and Now!
The Kingdom of Heaven is within, so near
We do not see it save by spirit-sight.
We shut our eyes in prayer, and we are There
In thought, and Thoughts are spirit-things
Realities upon the other side.
In death we close our eyelids once for all
To pass for ever, and seem far away.
And yet the distance does not lie in death;
No distance, save in dissimilitude!
Death's not the only door of spirit-world,
Nor visibility sole presence-sign:
The Near or Far is in our depth of love
And height of life: We look Without, to learn
Our lost ones are beyond all human reach:
We feel Within, and find them nestling near.

Flow soft, ye tears, adown my Lady's face,
And bathe the broken spirit with your balm,
And melt the cloud about her into drops
That glister with the light of Heaven's own smile.
And thou, God, whisper as the tears do fall,
No cloud would rise to rain but for Thy Sun!
She sorroweth not as those who have no hope,
Nor is her House left wholly desolate.
O Grief, lie lightly on my Lady's brow:
She gave her best of life in love for him!
A crown of glory wears the dear bowed head
That hath grown gray in noble sacrifice.

Ah me, I know the heart must have its way.
I know the ache of utter loneliness;
The severance between those that were so near:
The silence never broken by a sound
We still keep listening for; the spirit's loss
Of its old clinging-place, that makes our life
A dead leaf drifting desolately free:
The many thousand things we had to say;
And on the dear still face that hushing look,
As though it bade us listen and be still;
As though the sweet life-music still went on,
Though too far off for hearing—(as it doth).
Thrice have I wrestled and been thrown by Death,
Thrice have I given my dear ones to the grave;
And yet I know—see it in spite of tears:
Say it, even while the heart breaks in the voice:
These are His ways to draw us nearer Him.
We climb our heavens by pathways of the cloud.

He breaks the image to reveal Himself!
He takes our dearest things to woo us with;
Takes, for a little while, the gift He gave
For ever: but to better still our best.

Feeling for that which fled, our finite love
Is caught up in the clasp o' the Infinite,
Palpably as though God did press the hand
And make the heart well up and flood the eyes
With that proud overflow of fuller Heaven!

O Lady, let mine be the songbird's part,
That singeth after rain, and shakes the drops
Down, with his thrillings from the drooping spray,
And sets it softly springing nigher Heaven
That 'twixt the blown-clouds smiles with gladdest 
        blue,
As with the eye of bliss that is to be.
Your love-ties have but lengthened to release
The shadowed soul that needed far more sun.
So the fair Valisneria down the dark
Beside his lover, yearneth towards the light,
And lives up faster, till he springs afloat,
To sun him on the surface of the stream:
And now he draws up, even by the root,
His Love left pining on the earth below,
Lifting her to his side again, full flower;
And 'tis her Heaven to die and get to him!

What did we ask for him, with all our love,
But just a little breath of fuller life,
To float the labouring lungs?   And God hath 
        given
Him Life itself; full, everlasting Life.
What did we pray for?   Rest, even for a night,
That he might rise with Sleep's most cooling dews
Refreshed, to feel the morning in his soul?
And God hath given him His Eternal Rest.
We could not offer freedom for one hour
From that dread weight of weariness they bear
Who try for years to shake Death's Shadow off:
And God hath made him free for Evermore.

Before me hangs his Picture on the wall,
Alive still, with the loving, cordial eyes.—
How tenderly their winsome lustre laughed!—
The fine pale face, pathetically sweet,
So thin with suffering that it seemed a soul:
We feared the Angels might be kissing it
Too often, and too wooingly for us:
The hands, so delicate and woman-white,
That day by day were gliding from our grasp,
They used to make my heart ache many a time.

I see another picture now.    The form
Ye sowed in weakness hath been raised in power;
A palace of pleasure for a prison of pain.
The beauty of his nature that we felt
Is featured in the shape he weareth now!
The same kind face, but changed and glorified;
From Life's unclouded summit it turns back,
And sweetly smiles at all the sorrows past,
With such a look as taketh away grief:
No longer pale, and there is no more pain.
His face is rosed with Heaven's immortal bloom,
For he hath found the land of Health at last;
The One Physician who can cure all ills:
And he hath eaten of the Tree of Life,
And felt the Eternal Spring in brain and breast
Make lusty life that lightens forth in love.

Indeed, indeed, as the old Poet saith,
He was a very perfect, gentle Knight!
A natural Noble, by the grace of God:
Affection in the dearest human form.
Yet, gentle as he was, how gallantly
He bore his sufferings, kept the worst from sight.
Having the heroic flash of English blood.
How freely would he spend his little hoard
Of saved-up strength with spirit lordly and blithe,
To enrich a welcome and make gladder cheer!

And to the Poor he was all tender heart.
The very last time that he talked with me
His trouble was to know how poor folk lived
Upon so small a pittance, and he sighed
For life, for strength to do more than he might,
And in his kingly eyes great sorrow reigned.

No sighs, no weakness now, in that glad world
Where yearning avails more than working here,
And to desire is to accomplish good:
For Wishes get them Wings of power, and range
Rejoicing through illimitable life;
And we shall find some Castles built in Air
Stand good; are habitable after all!

To me, his life is like the innocent Flower
That springs up for the light and spreads for love;
Breathes fragrantly in gratitude to God,
And in sweet odours passes from our sight.
But there's no jot of all his promise lost:—
Each golden hint shall have fulfilment yet—
All that was heavenliest perfected in heaven.

All the shy modesties of secret soul
That breathed like violets hidden in the dusk;
The folded sweetness, the unfingered bloom;
The unsunned riches of his rarer self;
With all the Manhood, coyly unconfessed;
Are shut up softly to be saved by Him
Who gave us of the Flower, but keeps the fruit.

The best his life could grow on earth is given;
The rest can ripen till ye meet in heaven.

And, dear my Lady, little can we guess
What God hath planned for those He loves so 
        much
And beckons home so early to Himself!
May some full foretaste of His perfect peace
Fall on you, solacing with solemn joy.
Of such as he was, there be few on Earth;
Of such as he is, there are many in Heaven;
And Life is all the sweeter that he lived,
And all he loved more sacred for his sake:
And Death is all the brighter that he died,
And Heaven is all the happier that he's there.

So, one by one the dear old faces fade.
Hands wave their far farewell while beckoning us
Across the river all must pass alone.
We stand at gaze upon their shining track,
Until the two worlds mingle in a mist,
And the two lives are molten into one;
Familiar things grow phantom-like remote;
Things visionary draw familiar-near;
The pictures that we gaze on seem the Real
Looking at us; and we the Shadows that pass.

And yet 'tis sweet to feel—as underfoot,
Our path slopes for the quiet place apart;
Day darkens in the Valley of Death's shade—
Our best half landed in the better life;
The balance leaning to the other side;
The peaceful evening comes that brings all home,
And we are weaning kindly to leave go
Our hold of earth; the Home-sigh of the soul
Is daily deepening; and as the gloom
Gathers, and things are growing all a-dusk,
We know our Stars are smiling overhead,
In their eternal setting high and safe
Where they can look down on our passing night,
Glad in the loftier lustre of a sun
We may not see, with steadfast gaze of love
Unfathomable as Eternity:
Dear memories of Hesper gentleness
That are the Phosphor hopes of coming day,
And death grows radiant with our Shining Ones.
Blessed are they whose treasures are in Heaven!
Their grief's too rich for our poor comforting.
Let us put on the robe of readiness,
The golden trumpet will be sounding soon,
That calls us to the gathering in the Heavens!
Let us press forward to their summit of life
Who have ceased to pant for breath and won their 
    Rest,
And there is no more parting, no more pain!

_______________________

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