Gerald Massey: My Lyrical Life X.

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A PERSONAL REPLY.


No! No.   My Lord Dark-Lanthorn's-field,
You are not the kind of man to wield
The weight of England's Sword and Shield.

No! No.   Too sacred is the Flag,
For flaunting like a Bull-ring rag,
Above your game of Bully-Brag.

No! No.   Far better it ceased to wave
There, with the Dead, suspended, safe
In dust enough to be its grave!

No! No. You have led us to the ridge
Of the Abysm, and like a Midge
Would cross it. Nations need a bridge!

No! No.   Though painted for the path
Of War, you had better take a bath:
Let Harlequin now sheathe his Lath.

No! No.   Our England, made to don
The mask of a face, with her true one
Shall laugh you into Oblivion!

No! No.   We do not mean to fight
For Murderer and Sodomite;
Born enemies of all that's right.

No! No.   If you must end the play
With some blood-letting Policy, pray
You follow that of Castlereagh.

 

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AT THE PRISON-DOOR.


RIGHT to the other side o' the World a yell
Rang round, so brutal, we could hardly tell
Whether it rose from England or from Hell.

"Great God!" they cried, "what has this Blabber
        done? 
Blazoned the sin of Modern Babylon 
To all beneath the never-setting sun!


"Why, 'tis the Law of Let-Alone that we,
Who are rich, should grind the poor, and trade be free;
We pay, and pluck the fruits of Poverty
.

"How shocking! he would strip us Shirt and Smock, 
And show us naked in the Public Dock!

'Twas shocking to the Knaves who need the shock!

The gorge of London rose; but not to thwart
The monsters who had made us sick at heart,—
Rose against Him who took the Children's part!

Time-honoured Institutions were at stake;
The Brothels so long Sacred to the Rake;
The Vested Interests began to quake.

The Cynics proffered him Don Quixote's crown,
The Libertines their pity, Fools their frown;
Press-gang and Judges kicked him when he was down!

But 'twas the voice of Truth we know, they know,
The Rowdy Rich who rushed to strike him low,
Or shut his mouth with one back-handed blow;

And Truth shall yet be free, nor vainly strive
For utterance, bound and dumbly buried alive;
Free from the gag, the manacle, and gyve.

The Curs and Cowards of the Cockney Press
May call it a great failure; nevertheless
'Tis the Foreshadow of as great Success!

The Labourers wake at last from their long sleep;
The Waters rise around us that shall sweep
This foulness with their Deluge to the deep.

Stead struck his blow and failed and fell, you say.
Such was Their failure who have paved a way
With their dead bodies for our feet to-day.

Look you! this Man is of another mould
Than you who sell your little souls for gold,
Or, where you have none, are in body sold!

And some are Chosen, born and bound, to be
Torch-bearers; they who set the sufferers free
Must show us sights men do not want to see.

In devious ways Detectives have to work
And tramp the mire and hide in midnight mirk,
If they would catch the Lawless where they lurk!

Though not in the Salvation Army's van,
Nor of the Shut-eyed Faith, some of us can
Respect a Worker, recognize a Man.

Honour to him, we cry, who sought to save
The Girls dragged down our gutters to the grave!
For him our plaudits ring, our welcomes wave.

And so we greet him at the Prison-porch,
With hearts that beat the music of his march,
And bosoms lifted for a Triumph-Arch.

 

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THE FALSIFYERS OF MYTHOLOGY.


YOU ask to have the Children's souls, in pledge
    That these shall only bear your kind of fruit,
Who are but dead sticks in the living hedge,
            Rotten from lack of root!

Let England lift her hand to scratch her head
    Consideringly, Your hold's not worth a pin
Who are dead scuf outside the skull, instead
            Of living brain within!

 

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DEDICATION TO THE "NATURAL GENESIS."


AT times I had to tread
    Where not a Star was found
To lead or light me, overhead;
    Nor footprint on the ground.

I toiled among the sands
    And stumbled with my feet;
Or crawled and climbed with knees
        and hands
    Some future path to beat.

I had to feel the flow
    Of waters whelming me:
No foothold to be touched below,
    No shore around to see.

Yet, in my darkest night,
    And farthest drift from land,
There dawned within the guiding
        light;
    I felt the unseen hand.

Year after year went by,
    And watchers wondered when
The diver, to their welcoming cry
    Of joy, would rise again.

And still rolled on Time's wave
    That whitened as it passed:
The ground is getting toward the
        grave
    That I have reached at last.

Child after child would say—
    "Ah, when his work is done, 
Father will come with us and play—

    'Tis done.   But Play-time's gone.

A willing slave for years,
    I strove to set men free;
Mine were the Labours, Hopes,
        and Fears,
    Be theirs the Victory.

 

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GARIBALDI
___________


GARIBALDI IN EXILE.


How dimmed is all thy glory, and how dark the
    shadow falls;
How wildly wails the Sorrow through thy Hamlets
    and thy Halls!
Our Banner on the Seven Hills no longer beckons
    me;
The Dead alone are blessèd who thy suffering may
    not see.
How are thy brave ones scattered on many an
    Alien strand,
Thy Children leal and true to the Roman
    Motherland.

The Birds that follow Summer, they come and they
    depart
For the Land of my love, and the Home of my
    heart:
And, like a wounded Bird, my spirit trembles in
    the wind,
And flutters down: and they are gone, and I am
    left behind.
O my Dovelets in the nest!   O the Spoiler's bloody
    hand!
And I so far away from the Roman
    Motherland.

They have bound thee in the Grave-clothes; but
    we watch with tears and sighs,
Till Freedom comes like Christ, and thou like
    Lazarus shalt rise.
Thy pale, pale face, my Country, yet shall flush
    with ripening bloom,
As Nature's colour kindles when the breath of
    Spring doth come.
Ah! come, thou Spring of promise; mighty Hope,
    put forth thy hand,
And build thy Arch of Triumph for the Roman
    Motherland.

Sometimes when life is darkest, a glory bursts its
    glooms,
As Lightning through the startled night, the face
    of things illumes;
A sudden splendour smites me, and ere the thunders
    roll,
I see thy face look radiant through the darkness
    of my soul!
I see thee sitting at the feet of Freedom, great and
    grand,
Thy children happy in thy smile, thou Roman
    Motherland.

O thou among the Nations, for thy might, shalt
    yet be themed;
Thy fatal curse of Beauty by Love's blessing all
    redeemed!
The red wounds where they pierced thee, shall to
    scars of glory turn,
And in thy tearful eyes the light of boundless life
    shall burn.
The Heavens are filled with Martyrs, but our
    Earth still holds a band
Who will meet in battle yet for the Roman
    Motherland.

Many are the gallant hearts will never answer
    when
Thy clarion-cry shall call us all into the field
    again!
And many are the tears must fall, and prayers go
    up to God,
But still the Vintage ripens, and the Wine-press
    shall be trod!
The Harvest reddens rich for death, the Reapers
    clench the hand,
And Victory comes to claim his Bride, our Roman
    Motherland.

 

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GARIBALDI ON THE MARCH.


THIS is the Helper that Italy wanted
    To free her from Fetters and Grave-clothes quite:
His is the great heart no dangers have daunted;
    His is the true hand to finish the fight.
Way, for a man of the kingliest nature!
Scope, for a soul of the high Roman stature!
            His great deeds have crowned him;
            His Heroes are round him;
On, on, Garibaldi, for Freedom and Right.

To brave battle-music up goes the smoke-curtain;
    A country arises all one to his call:
The sound of his trumpet is never uncertain;
    He fights for his Cause till it conquer or fall.
His Chariot-wheels do not spin without biting;
And far better pointed for Freedom's red writing—
            His Rifles and Guns—
            Than their Politics pens;
Garibaldi, my Hero, best man of them all!

When he sailed up our River, the frank, hearty
                Seaman,
    We saw how an English soul smiled from his
                face:
For Italy's Saviour we knew it was The man,
    All hero, no matter what garb, or what place—
And we prayed he might have one more grip that
                was glorious!
Prophesied he should be Leader victorious
            Of Italy, free
            From the Alps to the sea;
Now breathless we watch while he runs the great
                race.

Fierce out of torment his fighters have risen,
    Shouting from hell, where they tortured them
            dumb;
Maimed from old battle-fields, mad from the prison,
    Suddenly, strange as Cloud-armies, they come,
With mouths that can shut like the Eagle's beak
                clasping,
With hands that will grip like a bower-anchor
                grasping;
            The flying Foe feels,
            When they're close at his heels,
That Death and the Devil are bringing his doom.

Not only living! his dead men are fighting
    For him! thus with few he can scare the great
                host:
For each one they see an Unseen Foe is smiting;
    Over each head an avenging white Ghost!
All the young Martyrs they murdered by
                moonlight;
All the dark deeds of blood done in the noonlight,
            Make their hearts reel
            With a shudder, and kneel
To lay down their Arms and give all up for lost.

They tell the wild tales of him, gathered together,
    Turn pale at his Shadow in midst of their speech;
Down he swoops on them, like Hawk on the
                heather,
    Strikes home with sure aim, and upsoars beyond
                reach.
Or, he sweeps all before him with whirling blade
                reeking.
They fly helter-skelter, for shelter run shrieking,
            As waves wild and white,
            Driven mad with affright,
Are dashed into foam as they hide up the beach.

Watching o' nights in the cold, he remembers
    The Homes of his love in their ashes laid low;
And hot in his heart Vengeance rakes up the
                embers,
    To warm her old hands at the wrathful red glow.
He has had torn from him all that was nearest;
He has seen murdered his Darlings the dearest;
            With all this and more,
            To the heart's crimson core
He kindles! and all flashes out on the Foe.

No peace, Garibaldi, till Italy, stronger,
    Shall sit with free nations, majestic, serene;
And meet them as Lovers may meet when no longer
    The cold Corse of one that was dead lies between.
For this, God was with you when perils were round
                you;
For this, the fire smote you not, floods have not
                drowned you;
            Their Sword and their Shot
            Have hindered you not,
And your Purpose crouched long for its pouncing
                unseen.

On, with our British hearts all beating true to you;
    All keeping time to the march of the brave!
I would to God we might cut our way through to
                you,
    Gallantly breasting the stormiest wave.
Would the old Lion could leap in to greet you,
Just as our free blood is leaping to meet you,
            Stand by your side,
            In his terrible pride,
Mighty to shield, as You're daring to save.

Long was the night of her kneeling; but surely
    Shall Italy rise to her Queenliest height.
Many a time has the battle gone sorely,
    To make the last triumph more signal and bright.
Her Foes shall be swept from her path like the
                stubble;
Now is their day of down-treading and trouble;
            God tires of old Rome!
            Venetia cries "Come!"
On, on, Garibaldi, for Freedom and Right!

1859.

 

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ONE OF GARIBALDI'S MEN.


A crippled Child, a weak wan Boy,
    Sat by his Mother's side,—
A widowed Mother's gentle joy,
    Her only wealth and pride:
One of those Spirits, sweet and sad,
    That breathe with burdened breath;
Are grave in life, but calmly glad
    Their faces smile in death.

With a weird lustre in his look,
    Over his books he pored,
Like one that, in a secret nook,
    Sharpens a patriot sword.
The story of his Country's wrongs
    Made his heart melt in tears;
The music of her olden songs
    Rang ever in his ears.

Oft in his face, white as a corse,
    Brave Soldier-blood up-springs,
Hot as the Warrior leaps to horse,
    When Battle's trumpet rings;
With spirit afloat and sense aflame,
    Where Freedom's banners wave,
To win a name of glorious fame,
    Or fill a Soldier's grave.

The leal heart of a loving Maid
    Ran over towards him,
Longing with kisses to be stayed
    There at the ruddy brim!—
But hushed the yearning in her breast,
    Nor murmur made nor moan;
She looked as though she had found the nest,
    And, lo! the Bird was flown.

Suddenly, Freedom's thunder-horn
    The graveyard stillness broke;—
It was the Resurrection-Morn,
    And Italy awoke!
He felt her majesty and strength
    Up-lift his spirit too:
To Manhood he had leaped at length,
    And almost stately grew.

Then came, with all they had to give,
    Each fervid worshipper:
And he, too, not worth much to live,
    At least could die for her!
The Widow lent her only Child,
    And bade him help to win;
While outwardly her proud face smiled,
    She—dropping tears within!

The General looked on this young life
    Held out in hands so small!
He could not, for the battle-strife,
    Take the poor Widow's all.
"Poor Child!" he said, "rest you at home,
    For the good Mother's sake;
We'll not forget you when we come
." 
    It made his old heart ache.

'Twas at the close of a great day,
    The "Red-Shirts" raised their cheer,
For Garibaldi came to say,
    "Well done!"   One cried, "I'm here! 
And wounded in the Battle's brunt
." 
    "What! hit behind, my Child? 
But brave men wear their wounds in front
," 
    And playfully he smiled.

Again, at the Volturno's fight,
    The Boy led on his band;
Uplifted there on Capua's height,
    He saw the Promised Land,
As Pilgrims watch their Mecca rise
    Over the desert's rim;
He saw—possessed it with his eyes!
    Enough, enough for him.

Proud of his Boys, the General rode
    Past faces all aflame,
And praised them; and their spirits glowed
    As if from heaven he came.
Then something caught his eye; he reined
    His horse; stooped like a grand
Old weather-beaten Angel, stained
    With battle-smoke, and tanned.

With look more keen than cry or call,
    One staggered from the rest:
"I'm hit once more, my General, 
    And
"—pointing to his breast—
"This time—see! 'tis in the right place.
    His smile was strangely sweet;
He looked in Garibaldi's face,
    And fell dead at his feet!

 

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GARIBALDI AT ASPROMONTE.


THE Lion is down, and how the dogs will run!
    Something above the level is their delight
    To lift the leg at. How the birds of night
Will hoot from out their dark, "HIS DAY IS DONE."

The worldly-wise will hasten to condemn
    The Man of Ages measured by the Hour;
    The Summit of his visionary power,
A Pinnacle of Folly is to them.

"Would he had kept his attitude sublime!
    They cry. "With crossed arms held his heart at rest,
    And left us his grand likeness at its best, 
Upon a hill up which the world might climb!


"Better for all had he been sooner shrined;
    The old true heart, and very foolish head.
    A model Man; especially if dead:
Perfect as some Greek Statue, and—as blind.
"

Friends talk of failure: and I know how he
    Will slowly lift his surface-piercing eyes,
    And look them through with mournful, strange
            surprise,
Until they shrink and feel 'tis Italy

That fails instead. The words they came to speak
    Will shrink back awed by his majestic calm.
    His wounds are such as bleed immortal balm,
And he is strong again; 'tis we are weak.

It is not Failure to be thus struck down
    By Brothers who obeyed their Foe's command,
    And in the darkness lopped the saving hand
Put forth to reach their Country her last crown!

He only sought to see her safely home;
    The tragic trials end, the suffering cease
    In wedded oneness and completing peace;
Then bow his old gray head and rest in Rome.

It is not failure to be thus struck back—
    Caught in a Country's arms, clasped to her heart;
    She tends his wounds awhile, and then will start
Afresh.   Some precious drops mark out her track.

No failure!   Though the rocks dash into foam
    This first strength of a nation's new life-stream,
    'Twill rise—a Bow of Promise—that shall gleam
In glory over all the waves to come.

We miss a footstep thinking "Here's a stair,"
    In some uncertain way we darkly tread;
    But God's enduring skies are overhead,
And Spirits step their surest oft in air.

His ways are not as our ways; the new birth
    At cost of the old life is often given:
    To-day God crowns the Martyrs in His heaven;
To-morrow whips their murderers on our earth.

You take back Garibaldi to a prison?
    Well, that will prove the very road to Rome!
    They would have said "She croucheth to her doom,"
If Italy in some shape had not risen.

We say it was God's voice that called him up
    The "BITTER MOUNTAIN," bound for sacrifice;
    So to that height his Land might lift her eyes,
And bless him as he drank her bitterest cup.

It is a faith too many still receive—
    Since that false prophecy of old went forth—
    "The tribe of Judas yet shall rule the earth;
But he is one that never would believe.

His vision is most clear where ours is dim.
    The mystic spirit of eternity,
    That slumbers in us deep and dreamingly,
Was ever quick and more awake in him:

And, like a lamp across some pathless heath,
    A light shone through his eyes no night could
            quench;
    The winds might make it flicker, rains might
            drench,
Nothing could dout it save the dark of death.

And if His Work's unfinished in the flesh,
    Why, then his soul will join the noble Dead,
    And toil till all shall be accomplishèd,
And Italy hath burst this Devil's mesh.

Easier to conquer Kingdoms than to breed
    A man like Garibaldi, whose great name
    Hath fenced his Country with his glorious fame,
Worth many armies in her battle-need.

His is the royal heart that never quails,
    But always conquers; wounded, lying low,
    He never was so dear as he is now:
They bind him, and more strongly he prevails.

Greater to-day than Emperor or King,
    Although for Throne they seat him in the dust;
    The express Image of sublimest Trust,
Crowned, consecrated by his suffering,

With Sovereignty that overtops success!
    Nothing but Heaven might reach his patriot
            brow,
    And lo, the Crown of thorns is on it now,
With higher guerdon than our world's caress.

The Vision of all his glory fills our eyes,
    And with One heart expectant Nations throb
    Around him; with one mighty prayer they sob,
And wait God's answer to this Sacrifice,—

Praying for one more chance at turn of tide;
    One blow for Rome ere many setting suns;
    One stroke for Venice kneeling 'neath her guns;
All Italy abreast, and at his side:

That he may stand as Wellington once stood
    Victor upon the hard-won Pyrenees,
    With France below him, offering on her knees
The White Flower Peace, sprung from her Root
            of Blood.

 

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FRANCE AND GARIBALDI.


THEY tricked him when the Lion-heart broke loose;
They mocked him as they caught him in the noose,
Slew his young Heroes in the foulest strife:
And then he went to offer France his life.
She robbed him of his country, and he gave
Himself; and only asked of her a grave!
In natural greatness simple and sublime,
He stands up peerless, towering o'er the time,
With none beside him.   So the Gallic Elf
Explained him!   'Twas a man beside himself.

 

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GARIBALDI'S PROPHECY.


THAT Pyramid of Imposture reared by Rome
All of Cement for an Eternal Home
And Shelter, that might shut out Heaven's Dome,
Shall Crumble back to earth again: It must,
For lack of blood to bind it!   Every gust
Shall revel in the Desert of its dust!

No matter though it towers to the Sky
And darkens Earth, you cannot make the Lie
Immortal; though stupendously enshrined
By Art in every perfect mould of Mind:
Angelo, Rafaelle, Milton, Handel, all
Its Pillars cannot stay it from the fall!

And when that Prison of the Immortal, Mind,
Hath fallen to set free the bound and blind,
No more shall life be one long dread of death;
Humanity shall breathe with fuller breath;
Expand in Spirit and in Stature rise,
To match its Birthplace of the Earth and Skies.

 

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WEDDED LOVE.
______________



THE YOUNG POET TO HIS WIFE.


LIKE those Ambassadors of old, that went
To some far Orient land, with precious gifts
Of gems to nestle between Beauty's breasts,
And crown her brows with a crest of winking
        flame,
Or clothe her starrily as Queenly Night;
And found that land a garden where they grew,
Lavish, as all the dews were turned to gems;
So bring I thee, Dear Lady of my love,
My jewels, I have garnered up, to find
How poor they are beside thy peerless wealth.
My Muse! that moveth in a halo of light,
Throned on the regnant heights of Womanhood;
The heart of all thy beauty warm as when
I looked out on the sunny side of Life,
And saw thee summering like a blooming Vine,
That reacheth globes of wine in at the lattice
By the ripe armful, with ambrosial smile.
The flying Cares but touch thy Life's fair face,
Lightly as swimming shadows dusk the Lake.
Come sit thee down, dear, by my side, To-night;
The world shut out, our little world shut in,
Where we are happy as the Bird whose nest
Is heavened in the hush of purple Hills,
Or regioned in the palmy top of life.
Now shut thine eyes, and see a pageant bloom
Upon the dark,—a Vision sweeping by.

I was a dweller amid Shadows grim:
Till Freedom touched my yearning eyes, and lo!
Life in a shining circle, rounding rose,
As heaven on heaven goes up the starry night.
And Freedom was my glittering Bride.   For me
She walked the world as a Divinity,
Sang like a Spirit in Life's darkened ways,
I' the Rainbow reached forth girdling arms of
        love,
To clasp the Unapparent to the Earth,—
Turned common things to beauty: as the sun
Kindles a glory in the grass and dust,—
Went forth flame-plumed, in Chariot sublime,
And rode the winds, as one who walks the worlds.
And when the fresh Morn flowered like a Rose,
Birds sang of her, and all their happy hearts
Rang out in music, Leaves clapped faëry hands,
The flowers for joy stood tearful in her glory,
And World went singing unto World of Freedom.
And I would blazon her heroic name,
Sing such proud pæans as touch the world to
        tears,
Or chariot it to battle in her Cause:
For O! her softest breath, that might not stir
The summer gossamer tremulous on its throne,
Makes the crowned Tyrants start with realmless
        looks!
I would have given the lustre of my life
To add one jewel to her diadem!
And then You came, and Love grew lord of all.
Look how the Sun puts out the eyes of fire!
So when Love's royal glance my lattice lit,
The fires of Freedom whitened on my hearth.
The sleeping Beauty in my heart's charmed Palace
Woke at Love's kiss.   My life was set aflush,
As Roses redden when the Spring moves by,
And the green buds peer out like eyes, to see
The delicate spirit whose sweet presence stirred
        them.
How my heart ripened in its flooding spring;
As when the sap runs up the tingling trees,
Till all the sunny life laughs out in leaves,
And lifts its fluttering wings!   So my heart felt
With such brave shoots of glory bursting up,
As it had flowered for Immortality.
The heights of Being came out from their cloud,
As the cliffs kindle when the Morning comes
Swimming the utmost Sea in ruddy haste,
With foam of glory; till the flood of light,
Like mellow wine, runs down remotest hills.
You came, my sparkling Bird of Paradise!
With a soft murmuring as of winnowing wings
That fold the nest so dove-like tenderly!
With brows that parted lovely waves of hair,
And took the gazer's eye like some white Grace!
Eyes large with love; lips eloquent of love;
And cheeks fresh-misted with the bloom of Morn.
And thou didst move, a Splendour 'mid Life's
        Shadows,
Making a Rembrandt Picture. So the Stars
In all their glory pass the shrinking Dark.
O, I was stirred as though a Spirit went by;
Or I had met some awful Loveliness,
That haunts the realm of Dreams, or duskly floats
Across the wondering solitudes of Thought.
So Love grew lord of all.

                                                    I touch my lyre,
And Love o'erflows my heart, and floods my hand.
Love makes all dear delights so soothly sweet,
Life pants heart-stifled 'neath its luscious load,
Like young Earth clasped in June's voluptuous
        arms,
Faint with her fragrance, flooded in her flowers.
Love is divine life, Beauty is its smile.
O, Love will make the killing crown of thorn
Burst into blossom on the Martyr's brow!
Upon Love's bosom Earth floats like an Ark
Through all the o'erwhelming Deluge of the night.
Love rays us round as glory swathes a star,
And, from the mystic touch of lips and palms,
Streams rosy warmth enough to light a world:
And Spirit-eyes, from out the purpling glooms,
Mark how we feed this human Altar-flame;
How speeds this ripening into Deity;
What glittering robes for immortality
Trail starry radiance through our dark of Earth!
And in our home thy presence maketh Love
A Mortal, who hath died to rise again,
Immortal, in its nobler life with thee.

O Love! make clear my vision, roll thou up
My orb of Song from Passion's misting deeps
To climb the heavens, and win the eternal calm;
And though it shine not 'mid the Suns of Song,
To set the World sweet-murmuring in its light,
A Memnon, at the radiant touch of Dawn,
I know each Star hath its own perfect place
Above, though it may have no name on Earth.
I hope my hope, I dream my dream, that life
With me shall yet ring out melodious, 'twixt
The silences of heaven and the grave.

O Labour! blind and feeling for the day!
Might I go forth to peer with eagle ken
Into the blessed land of promise, where
The Future like a fruitfuller Summer sits
Ripening Her Eden silently, to bear
The crowning flower of consummated Life,—
Where Freedom's Song-Birds fly, to build their
        nests,
And warm to life their brood of darling dreams:
Then see thy dark look lighten at my news,
Thy dim eyes dance divinely at the grapes;
To loftier music time thy larger step;
And hearten thee to lift up onward brows!

I see a shape behind a mist, that burns
In the flushed distance of some unseen Goal;
It grows with gazing on, like Lovers' beauty.
With beckoning smiles the Glory draws me near;
One hand points up, one holds a leafy crown,
For me to climb and wear with manlier growth:
And airy Voices call me, bid me leap
In Victory's Car as it goes bickering by.
And Thou, dear Wife! with exultation lit,
Wilt drop proud tears to enrich my wine of joy,—
A costlier cup than ever Anthony's Queen
Magnificent! drank in her voluptuous vein!

 

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LONG EXPECTED.


O MANY and many a day before we met,
I knew some Spirit walked the world alone,
Awaiting the Beloved from afar;
And I was the anointed chosen one
Of all the world to crown her queenly brows
With the imperial crown of human love,
And light its glory in her happy look.
I saw not with mine eyes so full of mist,
But heard Faith's low sweet singing in the night,
And groping through the darkness, touched God's
        hand.
My heart might toil on blindly, but, like earth,
It kept sure footing through the thickest gloom.
I knew my sunshine somewhere warmed the world,
Though I trode darkling in a perilous way;
And I should reach it in His own good time
Who sendeth sun, and dew, and love for all.

Earth, with her many voices, talked of thee!—
Low winds, and whispering leaves, and piping
        birds;
The amorous sunlight, and the virgin dews;
Eve's crimson air and light of twinkling gold;
Spring's kindled greenery, and her breath of balm;
The dance of happiness in summer woods,
To silver dulcimer of sun-shot rain.
Thine eyes oped with their rainy lights, and
        laughters,
In April's tearful heaven of tender blue,
With all the changeful beauty melting through
        them,—
Dawn opened, Sunset ended, in thy face.
And standing as in Love's own presence-chamber,
When silence lay like sleep upon the world,
And it seemed rich to die, alone with Night,
The Stars have trembled through the holy hush,
And smiled down tenderly, and read to me
The love hid for me in a budding breast,
Like fragrance folded in a young flower's heart.
Strong as a sea-swell came the wave of wings,
Strange trouble trembled through my inner depths,
And answering wings have sprung within my soul:
And from the dumb waste places of the dark,
A voice has sighed, "She comes!" and ebbed again;
While all my life stood listening for thy coming:
I guessed the presence that I might not see,
And felt it in the beating of my heart.
When all was dark within, sweet thoughts would
        come,
As starry guests swim golden down the gloom,
And through Night's lattice smile a rare delight:
While, lifted for the dear and distant Dawn,
The face of all things wore a happy look,
Like those dream-smiles which are the speech of
        Sleep.
Thus Love lived on, and strengthened with the
        days,
Lit by its own true light within my heart,
Like a live diamond burning in the dark.

Then came there One, a mirage of the Dawn;
She swam on towards me sumptuous in her triumph,
Voluptuously upborne, like Aphrodité
Upon a meadowy swell of emerald sea.
A ripe, serene, smile-affluent graciousness
Hung like a shifting radiance on her motion,
As feathered flames upon the Dove's neck burn.
Her lip might flush a wrinkled life in bloom!
Her eyes had an omnipotence of power!
"O eyes!" I said, "if such your glories be,
Sure 'tis a warm heart feedeth ye with light!

The silver throbbing of her laughter pulsed
The air with music rich and resonant,—
As, from the deep heart of a summer night,
Some bird with sudden sparklings of fine sound
Strikes all the startled stillness into song.
And from her sumptuous wealth of golden hair
Down to the delicate, pearly finger-tip,
Fresh beauty trembled from its thousand springs:
And standing in the outer porch of life,
All eager for the templed mysteries,
With a full heart as rich in fragrant love
As the musk-roses are of morning's wine,
What marvel if I questioned not her brow,
For the flame-signet of the Hand divine,
Or gauged it for the crown of my large love?
I plunged to clutch the pearl of her babbling
        beauty,
Like some swift diver in a shallow stream,
That smites his life out on its heart of stone.
Ah! how my life did run with fire and tears!
With what a passionate pulse my love did beat!
But she, rose-warm without,—God pity her—
Was cold at heart as snow in last year's nest,
And struck like death into my burning brain.
Just passing with her wanton robes afloat,
She brushed and blurred the hues of my young
        life,
As one may smear a picture while 'tis wet.
My tears, that rained out love, she froze in falling,
And wore them, jewel-like, to deck her triumph!

But love is never lost, though hearts run waste;
Its tides may gush 'mid swirling, swathing deserts,
Where no green leaf drinks up the precious life:
True love doth evermore enrich itself,—
Its bitterest waters run some golden sands.
No star goes down but climbs in other skies;
The flower of Sunset folds its glory up,
To burst again from out the bosom of Dawn;
And love is never lost, though hearts run waste,
And sorrow makes the chastened soul a seer;
The deepest dark reveals the starriest hope,
And Faith can trust her heaven behind the veil.

 

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WOOED AND WON.


THE plough of Time breaks up our Eden-land,
And tramples down its flowery virgin prime.
Yet through the dust of ages living shoots
O' the old immortal seed start in the furrows:
And, where Love looketh on with lustrous eye,
These quickened germs of everlastingness
Flower lusty, as in fabled Paradise!

And blessings on the starry chance of love!—
And blessings on the morn of merry May!
That led my footsteps to your leafy bower.
Thus hangs the picture in my mind, sweet wife!
Clear as a Millais in its tint and tone.
Nature drew near me with her glorious shows,
And smiled to hear her young things all at play.
The birds were singing on the blossoming sprays,
With Love's sweet mystery stirring at their hearts,
Like first spring-motions in the veins o' the
        flowers.
A light of green laughed up the shining hills,
That rounded through the mellowing, gloating air,
As their big hearts heaved to some heart beyond,
Or strove with inner yearnings for the crown
Of purple rondure hung far-off in heaven!
The Flowers were forth in all their conquering
        beauty
And, winking in their Mother Earth's old face,
Said all her children should have happy hearts.

Deeper and deeper in the wood's green gloom
I nestled for the fever at life's core:
And thirstily my heart was drinking in
Rich overflowings of some Cushat's love;
When lo! the air instinct with glory grew,
As if the world, while on her starry journey,
Found sudden harbour in the clime of heaven.
Upon a primrose bank you sat,—a sight
To couch the old blind sorrow of my soul!
A sweet, new blossom of Humanity,
Fresh fallen from God's own home to flower on
        earth.
A golden burst of sunbeams glinted through
The verdurous roof's lush-leavy greenery,
And on you dropped its crown of wavering light.
Your eyes—half shut, while through their silken eaves
Trembled the secret sweetness hid at heart—
Oped sudden at full, and wide with wonderment!

The sweetest eyes that ever drank sun for soul:
As subtly tender as a summer heaven,
Brimmed with the beauty of a starry night!
Your face, so dewy fresh and wondrous fair,
Kindled as Love transfiguringly rose
Like heavenward martyr through a birth of fire!
The fleetest swallow-dip of a tender smile
Ran round your mouth in thrillings; while your
        cheek
Dimpled, as from the arch God's finger print;
Out flew his signal, fluttering in a flush!
And when your voice broke up the air for music,
It smote upon my startled heart as smites
The new-born babe's first cry a mother's ear,
Yet strangely touched some mystic memory,
And dimly seemed an old pre-natal sound.

That day, with an immortalizing kiss,
You crowned me monarch of your rich heart-world,
Which heaved a boundless sea of love, whose tides
Ran radiant pulsings through your rosy limbs.
How the love-lights did float up in your eyes,
Star after star from violet depths of night!
Dear eyes! all craving with Love's ache and
        hunger!
And all the spirit stood in your face athirst!
And from the rose-cup of your murmuring mouth
Sweetness o'erflowed, as from a fragrant fount.
O kiss of life! that oped our Eden-world!
The very earth heaved bosom-like, and heaven
Clung round and clasped us as in glowing arms,
To crush the wine of all your ripened beauty,
Which were a fitting sacrament for death—
Into a richer cup of life for me.

 

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THE BRIDAL.


SHE comes! the blushing Bridal Dawn,
With her Auroral splendours on,
And green Earth never lovelier shone:

She floateth on her azure way,
In dainty dalliance with the May,
Jubilant o'er the happy day!

Earth weareth heaven for marriage-ring,
And the best garland of glory, Spring
From out old Winter's world could bring.

All in white are the hawthorn boughs,
The green blood reddens in the Rose,
And every May-bud swells or glows.

The Apple-tree on its green bough
Hath caught a cloud of rosy snow;
Up in the blue the Chestnuts blow.

Cloud-shadow-ships swim faërily
Over the greenery's sunny sea,
That runs and ripples down the lea.

The birds a-brooding, strive to sing,
Feeling the life warm under the wing:
Their love, too, blossoms with the Spring!

The winds that make the flowers blow,
Heavy with balm, breathe soft and low,
All budding warmth, and amorous glow!

Such a delicious feel doth flood
The eyes, as laves the burning bud
When cool rains feed ambrosial blood.

Merrily Life doth revel and reign!
Light in heart, and blithe in brain;
Running like wine in every vein.

Alive with eyes, the Village sees
The Bridal dawning from the trees,
And Housewives swarm i' the sun like Bees.

All silent yet the Belfrey-Choir!
Up in the twinkling air the spire
Throbs, golden in the bickering fire.

The winking windows burn and blush
With colours rare as flow and flush
Through summer sunsets bloomed and hush.

But, enter: rarer splendours brim,
Such mists of gold and purple swim,
And the light falls so rich and dim.

Even so doth Love Life's doors unbar,
Where all the hidden glories are,
That from the windows shine afar.

Love's lovely to the passers-by,
But they who love are regioned high
On hills of Bliss, with heaven nigh.

Dainty as Iris, when she swims
With rainbow robe on lightsome limbs,
The Bride's rare beauty overbrims!

The gazers drink rich overflows,
Her cheek a livelier damask glows,
And on his arm she leans more close.

A drunken joy reels in his blood,
He wanders an enchanted wood;
She ranges realms of perfect good.

Dear God! that he alone hath grace
To light such splendour in her face,
And win the blessing of embrace!

She wears her maiden modesty
With tearful grace touched tenderly,
Yet with a ripe Expectancy

Her virgin veil reveals a form,
Flowering from the bud so warm,
It needs must break the Cestus-charm.

Last night, with her white wedding arms,
And thoughts that thronged with quaint
        alarms,
She trembled o'er her mirrored charms,

Like Eve first-glassing her new life;
And the Maid startled at the Wife,
Heart-painèd with herself at strife.

The unknown sea moans on her shore
Of life: she hears the breakers roar;
But, trusting Him, she fears no more;

For, o'er the deep seas there is calm,
Full as the hush of all-heaven's psalm:
The golden goal,—the Victor's palm!

And at her heart Love sits and sings,
And broodeth warmth, begetting wings
Shall lift her life to higher things.

The Blessing given, the ring is on;
And at God's Altar radiant run
The currents of two lives in one!

Hushed with happiness, every sense
Is crowded at the heart intense;
And silence hath most eloquence!

Down to his feet her meek eyes stoop,
As there her love should pour its cup;
But, like a King, he lifts them up.

Her flashing face to heaven up-turns,
There for a Mother's kiss it yearns:
Through all her life Hope's sunrise burns!

And now she trembles to his breast,
To proudly crown his loving quest;
And make it aye her happy nest.

His arms her hyacinth head caress,
And fold her fragrant slenderness,
With all its touching tenderness.

Now, on heaven's coast of crystal, crowned
Hesperus lights life's outward-bound:
And Evening palls her purple round.

A palace rich with glorious shows
She maketh his life's narrow house
To-night: but there he keeps no rouse!

Alone they hold their marriage-feast:
Fresh from the Chrism of the Priest,
He would not have the happiest jest

To storm her brows with a crimson fine;
And, sooth, they need no wings of wine
To waft them into Love's divine.

So Strength and Beauty, hand-in-hand,
Go forth into the honeyed land,
Lit by the love-moon golden-grand,

Where God hath built their Bridal-bower;
And on the top of life they tower,
To taste their Eden's perfect hour.

No lewd eyes o'er my shoulder look!
They do but ope the blessed book
Of Marriage, in their hallowed nook.

O, flowery be the paths they press,
And ruddiest human fruitage bless
Them, with a lavish loveliness!

Melodious move their wedded life
Through shocks of time, and storms of strife,—
Husband true, and perfect wife!

 

 

 

 

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WEDDED LOVE.


THE summer Night comes brooding over Earth,
As Love comes brooding down on human hearts,
With bliss that hath no utterance save rich tears.
She floats in fragrance through the smiling dark,
Foldeth a kiss upon the lips of Life,
Curtaineth into rest the weary world,
And shuts us in with all our hid delight.
The stars come sparkling through the tender gloom,
Like dew-drops in the fields of heaven; or tears
That hang their jewels on the face of Night.
A spirit-feel comes down the calm, and soft
The Flowers fold their cups like praying hands,
And with drooped head await the blessing, Night
Gives with her Motherly magnanimity.

'Tis evening with the world; but in my soul
The light of wedded love is still at dawn
Around my world, an everlasting Dawn.
My heart rings out in music, like a Lark
Hung in the charmèd palace of the Morn,
That circles singing to its mate i' the nest,
With luminous being running o'er in song:
So my life flutters round its mate at home!
There, with her eyes turned on her heart, she reads
The golden secrets written in its book,
And broodeth o'er its hidden wealth of love,
As Night i' the hush and halo of her beauty
Bares throbbing heaven to its most tremulous
        depths,
And broods in silence o'er her starry wealth.

And, fingering in her bosom's soft, white nest,
A fair babe, beautiful as Dawn in heaven,
Made of a Mother's richest thoughts of love,—
Lies like a smile of sunshine among lilies,
That giveth glory—drinking fragrant life.
Sweet bud upon a Rose! our plot of spring,
And burst of bloom amid a wintry world!
How dear it is to mark the look of life
Deepen, and darken, in her large, round eyes,—
To watch the other rose put forth its leaves,
And guess the perfumed secret of its heart;
To catch the silver words that come to break
The golden silence hung like heaven around!

But lo, my hush of thought is thrilling, as
A wood at night brims o'er with sudden song:
Dear Wife! with rich, low voice, she syllables
Some precious music hoarded in her heart,
And I am flooded with melodious rain,
Like Nature standing crowned with sunlit showers.

"As the heaving heart o' the Sea yearneth
                everlastingly
For the Moon, heaven-charmèd by her
                influence:
And as Star to Star with love palpitateth like a dove,
So my heart yearns up to his bright eminence.

"For my Love, he seems to stand where Heaven
                leans so near at hand,
That from other worlds his lineaments take
                light:
And he fills my cup of wonder, flooding all my life
                with splendour,
As a glorious, golden Moon fills all the night.

"At the music of his words my heart carols like
                a bird's,
And rich instincts burst from out it like
                heaven-flowers;
Wings bud in me at his kiss, all my being brims
                with bliss,
As a valley brims with life in spring-tide hours.

"For my life was dark and cold as the night-dews
                on the wold,
Waiting to be made alive with fire of dawn;
Till his presence on me lightened, and his blessing
                on me brightened,
And my life like dews lit up for heaven shone."

Nay, Sweet Heart! that should be my song, who
                search
Love's lore in vain for fit similitudes
To symbol what thy love hath been to me.
The God lies prisoned in the mountain stone,
The muffled Music slumbers in the strings,
Awaiting the Deliverer's magic touch!
So, thou belovèd! did I wait for Thee,
To waken at thy touch. My Tree of being
But made blind gropings in the dark, cold earth,
And moaned and trembled in the wintry air,
Stretching out naked hands to pluck at life:
Until you came, with all your light, and warmth,
Encircling round it like a summer heaven,
And fed, and clad it with your fragrant beauty,
Till budding branches burst on fire with bloom,
And into ripe fruits mellowed goldenly.
My life lay barren as a desolate moor
That breaks, and burns, in twinkling green and
                gold,
When Spring gives greeting with her kiss of life.

As weary earth goes darkling through the night,
So my heart toiled on, tearful with its burthen:
No beacon burned through all the gloom, to break
The sea of dark, with shining piers of light:
Then on a sudden rose the blessed Morn,
Sun-crowned my life, made all things beautiful,
And gave the world its Eden-robes again.
My spirit rose up orient with light;
Thy presence caught my heart up at the leap,
Winged like a young world from the hands of
                God!
Methought a thousand graves of buried hopes
Could crush it not from its proud eminence.
The Future's dim cloud-curtain rent in twain,
And lightened radiant revelation: All
Life's purpose dawned, as unto dying eyes
The dark of Death doth glisten into stars.

And since we met, thy life-long thought hath been
To be cup-bearer of the wine of joy
To one leal heart, and to make rich one life.
Pulse after pulse, thy life hath mixed with mine,
Like sea-waves hurrying up the beach to crown
Their shore, and break in starry showers of light.
Thou hast brought radiant sunrise every morn,
Renewing all the glory passed away.
Thy tender love hath twined about my life,
Like the fair Woodbine wedded to the Thorn;
Hiding its harshness with her wealth of flowers!
My heart drinks inspiration at thine eyes,
And lights my brain up as with fragrant flame:
Sweet eyes of starry tenderness, through which
The soul of some immortal sorrow looks!
Sorrow that addeth grace to loveliness,
As its sad bloom enricheth the ripe fruit.
Dear Eyes! they have a radiant Alchemy,
And pierce my being with such quickening light
As makes my heart a jewel-mine of love;
Even as the Sun strikes through the dark cold
                Earth,
And fires her million veins with precious life.

My Life ran like a river in rocky ways,
And seaward dashed, a sounding cataract!
But thine was like a quiet lake of beauty,
Soft-shadowed round by gracious influences,
That gathers silently its wealth of earth,
And woos heaven till it melts down into it.
They mingled: and the glory, and the calm,
Closed round me, brooding into perfect rest.
O blessings on thy true and tender heart!
How it hath gone forth like the Dove of old,
To bring some leaf of promise in Life's deluge!
Thou hast a strong up-soaring tendency,
That bears me God-ward, as the stalwart oak
Uplifts the clinging vine, and gives it growth.
Thy reverent heart familiarly doth take
Unconscious clasp of high and holy things,
And trusteth where it may not understand.
We have had sorrows, love! and wept the tears
That run the rose-hue from the cheek of Life;
But Grief hath jewels as Night hath her stars,
And she revealeth what we ne'er had known,
With Joy-wreaths danced about o'er our blinded
                eyes.
The heart is like an instrument whose strings
Steal nobler music from Life's many frets:
The golden threads are spun through Suffering's
                fire,
Wherewith the marriage-robes for heaven are
                woven:
And all the rarest hues of human life
Take radiance, and are rainbowed out in tears.

Thou'rt little changed, dear love! since we were
                wed.
Thy beauty hath climaxed like a crescent Moon,
With glory greatening to the golden full.
Thy flowers of spring are crowned with summer
                fruits,
And thou hast put a queenlier presence on
With thy regality of Womanhood!
Yet Time but toucheth thee with mellowing shades
That set thy graces in a wealthier light.
Thy soul still looks with its rare smile of love,
From the Gate Beautiful of its palace-home,
Fair as the spirit of the evening Star,
That lights its glory as a radiant porch
To beacon earth with brighter glimpse of heaven.

We are poor in this world's wealth, but rich in
                love;
And they who love feel rich in everything.
The heart of Ocean—thick with gems, as earth
With blooms—is jewelled like a Bride o' the
                East:
The heart of Heaven swarms with golden worlds:
A subtle heart of wealth hath our old world,
And darks of diamonds, grand as nights of stars:
But richer is the human heart that shrines
The peerless wealth—th' immortal jewel Love!
So let us live our life! and let our love,
Our large twin-love, above our children bend,
As the calm grand old heavens bend over earth,
Revealing God's own starry thoughts and things;
So shall the image of our hearts' Ideal—
The angel nestling in their bud of life—
Smile upward in the mirror of their face
A daily beauty in our darkened ways,
And a perpetual feast of holy things.

O let us walk the world, so that our love
Burn like a blessed beacon, beautiful
Upon the walls of Life's surrounding dark.
Ah! what a world 'twould be if love like ours
Made heaven in human hearts, and clothed with
                smiles
The sweet sad face of our Humanity!
What lives should quicken into sudden spring!
What flowers of glory burst their frozen soil!
As the red pulse of Dawn through cold gray skies,
New life should flush up in the darkened face
That readeth like a mourning epitaph
Above the grave of beauty and of soul!
A light should glimmer on the Helot's brow,
And love should come into the mirkest being
As mellowest moonlight silvers through the cloud.

1851.

 


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