Gerald Massey: Poems and Ballads (1)

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TO MY WIFE.


LIKE those Ambassadors of old, that went
To the far Orient land, with kingly gifts
Of Gold, so royal-rare and wondrous fine;
And Jewels—from which a subtle spirit lookt—
To nestle richly between Beauty's breasts—
And crown her gorgeous brows with winking flame,
Or clothe her starrily as Queenly Night,
And found that land a garden where they grew,
Lavish, as all the dews were turn'd to gems;
So bring I thee, Sweet Lady of my love,
My gems, which I have garner'd up, to find
How poor they are beside thy peerless wealth.
Th' Elysium where thy tender spirit dwells
Is written o'er with thoughts of beauty, thick
As starry mysteries written on the night.
Thy realm is rich in Memory's golden mines,
And flashing out with harvest-fields of Hope.
My Muse! that moveth swathed with holier light,
Throned on the regnant heights of Womanhood
In all thy summer beauty, warm as when
I lookt 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 heaven'd in the heart of purple Hills,
Or region'd in the palmy top of life,
Where sleep is dark and lusty as leaves in June:
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 toucht my yearning eyes, aid lo!
Life in a shining circle, rounding rose,
As heaven on heaven goes up the jewell'd night.
New floods of passionate life swirl'd at my heart,
Like Ocean-surges rolling round the world: 
And FREEDOM was my glittering Bride.  For me
She walkt the world as a Divinity,
Sang like a Spirit in Life's darken'd ways,
I' the Rainbow reacht forth girdling arms of love,
To clasp the Unapparent to the Earth,—
Turn'd common things to beauty: as the sun
Doth kindle glory in the grass and dust—
When forth flame-plumed in chariot sublime,
And rode the winds, like him who walks the worlds
When the roused Storm-God strode his War-Horse, Ocean,
That sloughs the foam, with flying mane of fire!
And when the fresh Morn flower'd like a Rose,
Birds sang of her, and all their happy hearts
Rang out in music, Leaves clapt faery hands,
The Flowers for joy stood tearful in her glory,
And World went singing, unto World, of FREEDOM.
And I would blazon her melodious name,
Sing some wild pæan should 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 crown'd Tyrants start with realmless looks!
I would have given the lustre of nay life
To add one jewel to her Diadem!
And then thou cam'st, 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 whiten'd on my hearth.
The sleeping Beauty in my heart's charm'd 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 stirr'd them.
How my heart ripen'd 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 such brave shoots of glory bursting up,
As it had flower'd 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; and the ruby light,
Like mellow wine, runs down remotest hills.
Thou cam'st, my sparking 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, loving large!   Lips Houri-like, that light
A soul to glory with their kiss of fire;
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 stirr'd as though a Spirit went by;
Or I had met some awful Loveliness,
That haunts the realm of Dreams, or duskly floats
Across the wandering solitudes of Thought.
So Love was 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 with its luscious load,
Like young Earth claspt in June's voluptuous arms,
Faint with her fragrance, flooded up in flowers.
Love's life divine, and 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
Safely through all the Deluge of the dark.
Love rays us round as glory swathes a star,
And, from the mystic touch of lips and palms,
Streams rosy warmth enough t' illume a world:
And Spirit-eyes, from out the purpling glooms,
Mark how we feed this human Altar-flame,
How speeds this ripening into Diety!
What glittering robes for immortality
Trail starry radiance through our night 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 I sublime me unto loftier things;
Roll up my Orb from Passion's misting Deep,
To climb the heights of Thought's eternal Vast;
And though it shine not mid the Suns of Song,
To set a World sweet-murmuring in its light,
Like Memnon at the radiant touch of Dawn,
I know each Star hath its own perfect place
In heaven, though it may have no name on Earth.
I hope my hope, and 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 face lighten at my news,
And hearten thee to lift up grander brows
With light o'erflowing like a shining Sea.
I see a shape behind a mist, that burns
I' the flushing distance of some unseen Goal;
That grows with gazing on, like Lovers' beauty.
With beckoning smiles the Glory draws me on;
One hand points up, one holds a glittering crown,
For me to climb and wear with lordlier 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 weep proud tears t' enrich my wine of joy,—
A costlier cup than ever Anthony's Queen
Magnificent I drank in her voluptuous vein!

 


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THE BALLAD OF BABE CHRISTABEL.


WHEN Danaë-Earth bares all her charms,
        And gives the God her perfect flower,
        Who in the sunshine's golden shower,
Leaps warm into her amorous arms!

When buds are bursting on the brier,
        And all the kindled greenery glows,
        And life hath richest overflows,
And morning fields are fringed with fire:

When young Maids feel Love stir i' the blood,
        And wanton with the kissing leaves
        And branches, and the quick sap heaves,
And dances to a ripen'd flood;

Till, blown to its hidden heart with sighs,
        Love's red rose burns i' the cheek so dear,
        And, as sea-jewels upward peer,
Love-thoughts melt through their swimming eyes :

When Beauty walks in bravest dress,
        And, fed with April's mellow showers,
        The earth laughs out with sweet May-flowers
That flush for very happiness:

And Spider-Puck such wonder weaves
        O' nights, and nooks of greening gloom
        Are rich with violets that bloom
In the cool dark of dewy leaves:

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;

And honey'd plots are drowsed with Bees:
        And Larks rain music by the shower,
        While singing, singing hour by hour,
Song like a Spirit sits i' the Trees!

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,
        I' the perfect 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 dropt its precious balm,
And the tired world serenely slept.

The birds were darkling in the nest,
        Or bosom'd in voluptuous trees:
        On beds of flowers the panting breeze
Had kist its fill and sank to rest.

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

Without! the quiet heavens above
        The nest of life, did lean and brood!
        Within! the Mother's tears of blood
Wet the Gethsemane of her love!

And when the Morn with frolic zest,
        Lookt through the curtains of the night,
        There was a dearer dawn of light,
A tenderer life the Mother's prest!

Ah! bliss to make the brain reel wild!
        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 a Rose,
That she should one day see full-blown!

How she had throbb'd with hopes and fears,
        And strain'd her inner eyes till dim,
        To see the coming glory swim
Through the rich mist of happy tears;

For it, her woman's heart drank up
        And smiled at, Sorrow's darkest dole:
        And now Delight's most dainty soul
Was crusht 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 flusht with flowers,
        And drencht with beauty in rainbow showers,
She came through golden gates of Morn.

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

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

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

And May her kisses of love did blow
        On amorous airs, that came to her
        With gifts of Frankincense and Myrrh,
As came the Magi long ago

To worship Bethlehem's baby-King,
        Spring-Birds make welcoming merriment,
        And all the Flowers for welcome sent
The secret sweetness of the Spring.

With glancing lights and shimmering shade,
        And cheeks that toucht and ripelier burn'd
        May-Roses in at the lattice yearn'd
A-tiptoe, and Good Morrow bade.

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

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

Their looks praise God —souls sing for glee:
        They think if this old world had toil'd
        Through ages to bring forth their child,
It hath 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!

God! 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 faery-light as feet of air.

The Father, down in Toil's mirk mine,
        Turns to his wealthy 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 blossom'd up,
And hearts for very fulness sung.

Of what their budding Babe should grow,
        When the Maid crimson'd into Wife,
        And crown'd the summit of some life,
Like Phosphor, with morn on its 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!

But O! 'twas all too white a brow
        To flush with Passion that doth fire
        With Hymen's torch its own death-pyre, —
So pure her heart was beating now!

And thus they built their Castles brave
        In fairy lands of gorgeous cloud;
        They never saw a little white shroud,
Nor guess'd how flowers may mask the grave.

 

________________


SHE grew a sweet and sinless Child,
        In sun and shadow,—calm and strife;
        A Rainbow on the 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 burning into view.

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

The fields with flowers flamed out and flusht,
        The Roses into crimson yearned,
        With cloudy fire the wall-flowers burn'd,
And blood-red Sunsets bloom'd and blusht—

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

No blushes swarm'd to the sun's kiss
        Where violet-veins ran purple light,
        So tenderly thro' Parian white
Touching you into tenderness.

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

Such mystic lore was in her eyes,
        And light of other worlds than ours,
        She lookt as she had fed on flowers,
And drunk the dews of Paradise.

Her brow—fit home for daintiest—dreams
        With such a dawn of light was crown'd,
        And reeling ringlets showered round,
Like sunny sheaves of golden beams:

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

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

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

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

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.

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 Hesperian Isles.

 

________________


MIDNIGHT was trancèd solemnly
        Thinking of dawn:  Her Star-thoughts burn'd!
        The Trees like burden'd Prophets yearn'd,
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 like a spark,
And a cry smote heaven like a blow!

We sat and watcht 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 flasht up and smiled,
        As smile the young flowers in their prime,
        I' the face of their grey murderer Time,
And Death for true love kist our child.

She thought our good-night kiss was given,
        And like a lily her life did close;
        Angels uncurtain'd that repose,
And the next waking dawn'd in heaven.

 

________________


WITH her white hands claspt she sleepeth; her heart is
                husht, and lips are cold;
Death shrouds up her heaven of beauty, and a weary
                way I 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 widow'd nest my heart sits moaning for its young
                that's fled
From this world of wail and weeping, gone to join her
                starry peers;
And my light of life o'ershadow'd 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 call'd across the night with tender name and fond
                ling word;
And I yearn'd out thro' 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.

 

________________


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

Thro' tears it gleams perpetually,
        And glitters thro' 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.

And white-wing'd Angels nurture her
        With heaven's white radiance robed and
            crown'd,
        And all Love's purple glory round,
She summers on the Hills of Myrrh.

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

Till Life's highway broke bleak and wild;
        Then, lets 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 roll'd
        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,
Immortal love sows sovereign seed.

 


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LONG EXPECTED.


O MANY and many a day before we met,
I knew some spirit walkt 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 eyes.
I saw not with mine eyes so full of tears,
But heard Faith's low sweet singing in the night,
And, groping thro' the darkness, toucht God's hand.
I knew my sunshine somewhere warm'd the world,
Tho' 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:
My heart might toil on blindly, but, like earth,
It kept sure footing thro' the thickest gloom.
Earth, with her thousand voices, talkt of thee!—
Sweet winds, and whispering leaves, and piping birds;
The trickling sunlight, and the flashing dews;
Eve's crimson air and light of twinkling gold;
Spring's kindled greenery, and her breath of balm;
The happy hum and stir of summer woods,
And the light dropping of the silver rain.
Thine eyes oped with their rainy lights, and laughters,
In April's tearful heaven of tender blue,
With all the changeful beauty melting thro' them,
And Dawn and Sunset ended in thy face.
And standing as in God's own presence-chamber,
When silence lay like sleep upon the world,
And it seem'd rich to die, alone with Night,
Like Moses 'neath the kisses of God's lips!
The Stars have trembled thro' the holy hush,
And smiled down tenderly, and read to me
The love hid for me in a budding breast,
Like incense folded in a young flower's heart,
Strong as a sea-swell came the wave of wings,
Strange trouble trembled thro' my inner depths,
But heard Faith's low sweet singing in the night,
And answering wings have sprung within my soul;
And from the dumb waste places of the dark,
A voice has breathed,"She comes!" and ebb'd again;
While all my life stood listening for thy coming.
O, I have guessed thy presence out of sight,
And felt it in the beating of my heart.
When all was dark within, sweet thoughts would come,
As starry guests come golden down the gloom
And thro' Night's lattice smile a rare delight:
While, lifted for the dear and distant Dawn,
The face of all things were a happy light,
Like those dream-smiles which are the speech of Sleep.
Thus Love lived on, and strengthen'd 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 in her sumptuous triumph,
Voluptuously upborne, like Aphrodite
Upon a meadowy swell of emerald sea.
A ripe, serene, smile-affluent graciousness
Hung like a shifting radiance on her motion,
As bickering hues upon the Dove's neck burn.
Her lip might flush a wrinkled life in bloom!
Her eyes were an omnipotence of love!
"O eyes!" I said, "if such your glories be,
Sure 'tis a warm heart feedeth ye with light!"
The silver throbbing of her laughter pulst
The air with music rich and resonant,—
As from the deep heart of a summer night,
Some bird in sudden sparklings of fine sound
Hurries its startled being into song.
And from her sumptuous wealth of golden hair
Unto 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 rich heart as full of fragrant love
As May's musk-roses are of morning's wine,
What marvel if I question'd 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 Titan-pulse my love did beat!
But she, rose-lined without,-God pity her!
Was cold at heart as snow in last year's nest,
And struck like death into my burning brain.
My tears that rain'd out life, she froze in falling,
And wore them, jewel-like, to deck her triumph!
But love is never lost, tho' hearts run waste;
Its tides may gush 'mid swirling, swathing deserts,
Where no green leaf drinks up the precious life:
Yet love doth evermore enrich itself,—
Its bitterest waters run some golden sands!
No star goes down but climbs in other skies;
The rose of Sunset folds its glory up,
To burst again from out the heart of Dawn;
And love is never lost, tho' hearts run waste,
And sorrow makes the chasten'd heart 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 fruitful flowery prime.
Yet thro' the dust of ages living shoots
O' the old immortal seed start in the furrows;
And, where Love looketh on with glorious eye,
These quicken'd germs of everlastingness
Flower lusty, as of old in Paradise!
And blessings on the starry chance of love!
And blessings on the morn of merry May!—
That led my footsteps to your beechen bower.
Thus hangs the picture in my mind, sweet Wife!
Rich as a Millais in its tint and tone.
Nature flasht by me with her glorious shows.
The birds were singing on the blossoming boughs,
With Love's sweet mystery stirring at their hearts,
Like first spring-motions in the veins o' the flowers.
A light of green laught up the shining hills,
Which 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 smiling there 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, flash! the air instinct with splendours grew,
As if the world, while on her starry journey,
Had suddenly floated 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-leafy greenery,
And on you dropt its crown of living light.
Your eyes—half-shut, while thro' 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,
Brimm'd with the beauty of a starry night!
Your face, so dewy fresh and wondrous fair,
Kindled and lighten'd as the coming God
Were labouring upward thro' its 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 Love's finger-print,
Out flew his signal, fluttering in a blush!
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 toucht some mystic memory,
And dimly seem'd some old familiar sound.
That day, with an immortalizing kiss,
You crown'd me monarch of your rich heart-world,
Which heaved a boundless sea of love, whose tides
Ran radiant pulsings thro' your rosy limbs.
How the love-lights did float up in your eyes,
Like virgin stars 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'erflow'd, as from a fragrant fount.
O kiss of life! that oped our Eden-world!
The harvest of an age's wealth of bliss
In that first kiss was reapt in one rich minute!
The wanton airs came breathing like the touch
Of fragrant lips that feed the blood with flame!
The very earth seem'd bursting up, and heaven
Clung round and claspt us as in glowing arms,
To crush the wine of all your ripen'd beauty,
Which were a fitting sacrament for death —
Into a costly cup of life for me.

 


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SONG.


Ah! t'is like a tale of olden
    Time, long, long ago;
When the world was in its golden
    Prime, and love was lord below!
Every vein of Earth was dancing
    With the Spring's new wine!
'Twas the pleasant time of flowers,
    When I met you, love of mine!
Ah ! some spirit sure was straying
    Out of heaven that day,
When I met you; Sweet! a-Maying
    In the merry, merry May.

Little heart! it shyly open'd
    Its red leaves' love-lore,
Like a rose that must be ripen'd
    To the dainty, dainty core.
But its beauties daily brighten,
    And it blooms so dear, —
Tho' a many Winters whiten,
    I go Maying all the year.
And my proud heart will be praying
    Blessings on the day,
When I met you, Sweet, a-Maying,
    In the merry, merry May.

 


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WEDDED LOVE.


THE summer Night comes brooding down on Earth,
As Love comes brooding down on human hearts,
With bliss that hath no utterance save rich tears.
She floats in fragrance down 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 delights.
The Stars come sparkling thro' the gorgeous gloom,
Like dew-drops in the fields of heaven; or tears
That hang rich jewels on the cheeks of Night.
A spirit-feel is in the solemn air.
The Flowers fold their cups like praying hands,
And with droopt heads await the blessing, Night
Gives with her silent magnanimity.
'Tis evening with the world; but, in my soul
The light of wedded love is still at dawn!
And skies 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 with song:
So my heart flutters round its mate at home!
There, with her eyes turned to her heart, she reads
The golden secrets written on its heaven,
And broodeth o'er its panting -wealth of love,
As Night i' the hush and hallow 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—drinketh fragrant life!
Sweet bud upon a Rose! our plot of spring,
That bursts in bloom amid a wintry world!
How dear it is to mark th' immortal life
Deepen, and darken, in her large, round eyes,—
To watch Life's rose of dawn put forth its leaves,
And guess the perfumed secret of its heart—
And catch the silver words that come to break
The golden silence hung like heaven around.
But soft!   Elysium opens in my brain!
Dear Wife! with sweet, low voice, she syllables
Some precious music balm'd in her heart's book,
And I am flooded with melodious rain,
Like Nature standing crown'd with sunlit showers.

 

______________


"As the surging heart o' the Sea hungers everlastingly
    For the Moon, heaven-charméd by her influence:
As Star yearns to Star, with love palpitating like a dove,
           Doth my heart yearn up to his bright eminence.

"O 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, and floods all my life with
            splendour,
    As a glorious, golden Moon fills all the night.

"At his violet-sweet 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, and my being brims with
           bliss,
    As a valley brims with life in spring-tide hours.

"O my life was dark and cold as the night-dews on the
           world.
    Waiting to be made alive with fire of dawn;
Till his presence on me lighten'd and his blessing on me
             brighten'd,
    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 meet similitudes
To symbol what thy love hath been to me. 
The God lies prison'd in the mountain stone,
The muffled Music slumbers in the strings,
Awaiting the Deliverer's magic touch!
So, thou beloved! did I wait for Thee,
To waken at thy touch.   My Tree of being
But made blind gropings in the dark, cold earth,
And moan'd 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 mellow'd goldenly.
My life lay barren as a desolate moor
That breaks, and burns, in twinkling green and gold,
When Spring doth greet it with her kiss of life.
As weary earth goes darkling thro' the night,
So my heart toil'd on, tearful with its burthen:
No beacon burn'd thro' all the gloom, to break
The surging sea of dark, with piers of light: 
Then on a sudden rose the blessed Morn,
Sun-crown'd my life, made all things beautiful,
And gave the world its Eden-robes again.
My soul up-sprang full-statured, in the light,
Thy presence caught my heart up at the leap,
Wing'd 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 lighten'd radiant revelation: All
Life's purpose dawn'd, as unto dying eyes
The dark of Death doth blossom 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 surged in 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 past away.
Thy lavish love hath twined about my life,
Like the lush Wood-bine 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, thro' which
The soul of some immortal sorrow looks!
Sorrow that addeth grace to loveliness,
As its sad bloom enricheth blushing 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 thro' the dark cold Earth,
And fires her million veins with golden life.
My Life ran like a river in rocky ways,
And downward dasht, a sounding cataract!
But thine was like a quiet lake of beauty,
Soft-shadow'd round by gracious influences,
That gathers silently the wealth of earth,
And woos heaven till it melts down into it.
They mingled: and the glory, and the calm,
And royal-rich magnificence of thy love,
Closed round me, brooding into perfect rest,
And made my heart rejoice in all thy joy.
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,
Like little children playing of old with Christ;
And trusteth where it may not understand.
We have had sorrows, love ! and wept the tears
That run the rose-hue from the cheeks of Life
But Grief hath jewels as Night hath her stars!
And she revealeth what we ne'er had known,
With Joy's wreath tumbled o'er our blinded eyes.
The heart is like an instrument whose strings
Steal magic music from Life's mystic frets;
The golden threads are spun thro' Suffering's fire,
Wherewith the marriage-robes for heaven are woven:
And all the rarest hues of human life
Take radiance, and are rainbow'd out in tears,
As water'd marble blooms a richer grain.
Thou'rt little changed, dear love! since first was wed
To mine, the blossom of thy crimson lips;
Thy beauty hath climaxt like a crescent Moon,
With glory great'ning to the golden full.
Thy flowers of spring are crown'd 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 light,
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 a brief glimpse of heaven.
We are poor in this world's wealth, but rich in love;
And they who love feel rich in every thing.
The heart of Ocean—thick with gems, as earth
With blooms—is jewell'd 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
God's peerless wealth —the immortal jewel Love!
So let us live our life: and let our love,
Our large twin-love, bend o'er our little Babe,
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 her bud of life—
Smile upward in the mirror of her 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!
Like the red pulse of Dawn thro' cold grey skies,
New life should flush up in the darken'd face
That readeth as a written epitaph
Above the grave of beauty and of soul!
Love-light should glimmer on the Helot's brow
As mellow moonlight silvers through a cloud,
And God should come into the mirkest being,
As Stars new-kindled splendour nights of space.

 


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THIS WORLD IS FULL OF BEAUTY.


THERE lives a voice within me, a guest-angel of my heart,
And its sweet lispings win me, till the tears a-trembling
        start;
Up evermore it springeth, like some magic melody,
And evermore it singeth this sweet song of songs to me—
This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above;
And, if we did our duty, it might be full of love.

Night's starry tendernesses dower with glory evermore,
Morn's budding, bright, melodious hour comes sweetly as
        of yore;
But there be million hearts accurst, where no sweet sun-
        bursts shine,
And there be million hearts athirst for Love's immortal
        wine.
This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above;
And, if we did our duty, it might be full of love.

If faith, and hope, and kindness pass'd, as coin, 'twixt heart
        and heart;
How, thro' the eye's tear-blindness, should the sudden
        soul upstart!
The dreary, dim, and desolate, should wear a sunny bloom,
And Love should spring from buried Hate, like flowers
        o'er Winter's tomb
This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above;
And, if we did our duty, it might be full of love.

With truth our uttered language, Angels might talk with
        men,
And God-illumined earth should see the golden Age
        again:
The burthen'd heart should soar in mirth like Morn's
        young prophet-lark,
And Misery's last tear wept on earth, quench Hell's last
        cunning spark.
For this world is full of beauty, as other worlds above;
And, if we did our duty, it might be full of love.

Lo! plenty ripens round us, yet awakes the cry for bread,
The millions still are toiling, crusht, and clad in rags, unfed!
While sunny hills and valleys richly blush with fruit and
        grain,
But the paupers in the palace rob their toiling fellow-men.
This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above;
And, if we did our duty, it might be full of love.

Dear God! what hosts are trampled 'mid this killing
        crush for gold!
What noble hearts are sapp'd of love! what spirits lose
        life's hold!
Yet a merry world it might be, opulent for all, and aye,
With its lands that ask for labour, and its wealth that
        wastes away.
This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above;
And, if we did our duty, it might be full of love.

The leaf-tongues of the forest, and the flow'r-lips of the
        sod—
The happy Birds that hymn their raptures in the ear of
        God —
The summer wind that bringeth music over land and sea,
Have each a voice that singeth this sweet song of songs
        to me—
This world is, full of beauty, as other worlds above;
And, if we did our duty, it might be full of love.

 


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TO A BELOVED ONE.


HEAVEN hath its crown of Stars, the Earth
        Her glory-robe of flowers—
The Sea its gems—the grand old Woods
        Their songs and greening showers:
The Birds have homes, where leaves and blooms
        In beauty wreathe above;
High yearning hearts, their rainbow-dream
        And we, Sweet! we have love.

We walk not with the jewell'd Great,
        Where Love's dear name is sold;
Yet have we wealth we would not give
        For all their world of gold!
We revel not in Corn and Wine,
        Yet have we from above
Manna divine, and we'll not pine:
        Do we not live and love?

There's sorrow for the toiling poor,
        On Misery's bosom nurst;
Rich robes for ragged souls, and Crowns
        For branded brows Cain-curst!
But Cherubim, with clasping wings,
        Ever about us be,
And, happiest of God's happy things!
        There's love for you and me.
 
Thy lips, that kiss till death, have turn'd
        Life's water into wine;
The sweet life melting thro' thy looks,
        Hath made my life divine.
All Love's dear promise hath been kept,
        Since thou to me wert given;
A ladder for my soul to climb,
        And summer high in heaven,

I know, dear heart! that in our lot
        May mingle tears and sorrow;
But, Love's rich Rainbow's built from tears
        To-day, with smiles To-morrow.
The sunshine from our sky may die,
        The greenness from Life's tree,
But ever, 'mid the warring storm,
        Thy nest shall shelter'd be.

I see thee! Ararat of my life,
        Smiling the waves above!
Thou hail'st me Victor in the strife,
        And beacon'st me with love,
The world may never know, dear heart!
        What I have found in thee;
But, tho' nought to the world, dear heart!
        Thou'rt all the world to me.

 


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HOOD.

WHO SANG THE SONG OF THE SHIRT.


'Tis the old story! —ever the blind world
Knows not its Angels of Deliverance
Till they stand glorified 'twixt earth and heaven.
It stones the martyr: then, with praying hands,
Sees the God mount his chariot of fire,
And calls sweet names, and worships what it spurn'd.
It slays the Man to deify the Christ:
And then how lovingly 'twill bind the brows
Where late its thorn-crown laught with bloody lips—
Red, and rejoicing from grim Murder's kiss!
To those who walk beside them, great men seem
Mere common earth; but distance makes them stars.
As dying limbs do lengthen out in death,
So grows the stature of their after-fame;
And then we gather up their glorious words,
And treasure up their names with loving care.
So Hood, our Poet, lived his martyr-life:
With a swift soul that travell'd at rare speed,
And struck such flashes from its flinty road,
That by its trail of radiance through the dark,
We almost feature th' unknown Future's face—
And went uncrown'd to his untimely tomb.
Certes, the World did praise his glorious Wit—
The merry Jester with his cap and bells!
And sooth, his wit was like Ithuriel's spear;
But 'twas mere lightning from the cloud of his life,
Which held at heart most rich and blessed rain
Of tears melodious, that are worlds of love;
And Rainbows, that would bridge from earth 'to heaven,
And Light, that would have shone like Joshua's sun
Above our long death-grapple with the Wrong;
And thunder-voices, with their Words of fire,
To melt the Slave's chain, and the Tyrant's crown.
His wit?—a kind smile just to hearten us!—
Rich foam-wreaths on the waves of lavish life,
That flasht o'er precious pearls and golden sands.
But, there was that beneath surpassing show!
The starry soul that shines when all is dark!—
Endurance, that can suffer and grow strong—
Walk through the world with bleeding feet, and smile!—
Love's inner light, that kindles Life's rare colours!
And thoughts that swathe Humanity with such glory
As limns the outline of the coming God;
And wine of Beauty for the panting soul.
In him were gleams of such heroic splendours
As light this cold, dark world up as a star
Array'd in glory for the eyes of heaven:
And a great heart that beat according music
With theirs of old—God-likest, royallest men!
A conquering heart! which Circumstance, that frights
The Many down from Love's transfiguring height,
Aye mettled into martial attitude.
He might have clutcht the palm of Victory
In the world's wrestling ring of mightiest deeds;
But he went down like a rich Argosy
At sea, just glimmering into sight of home,
With its rare freightage from diviner climes.
The world may never know the wealth it lost,
When Hood went darkling to his tearful tomb,
So mighty in his undevelopt force!
With all his crowding unaccomplished hopes!
Th' unuttered wealth and glory of his soul!
And all the music ringing round his life,
And poems stirring in his dying brain!
O! blessings on him for the songs he sang—
Which yearned about the world till then for birth!
How like a bonny bird of God he came,
And pour'd his heart in music for the Poor;
Who sit in gloom while sunshine floods the land,
And feel, through darkness, for the hand of Help!
And trampled Manhood heard, and claimed his crown
And trampled Womanhood sprang up ennobled!
The human soul lookt radiantly through rags!
And there was melting of cold hearts, as when
The ripening sunlight fingers frozen flowers.
O ! blessings on him for the songs he sang!
When all the stars of happy thought had set
In many a mind, his spirit walkt the gloom
Clothed on with beauty, as the regal Moon
Walks her night-kingdom, turning clouds to light.
Our Champion! with his heart too big to beat
In bonds,—our Poet in his pride of power!
Ay, we'll remember him who fought our fight,
And chose the Martyr's robe of flame, and spurn'd
The gold and purple of the glistering slave.
His Mausoleum is the People's heart,
There he lies crown'd and glorified, —our King
In state, with singing robe wrapt richly round.
But 'tis not meet, my England, his dear dust
Should lie where splendid flatteries flaunt on tombs,
As treachery serves to brighten wanton tears—
With not a line of letter'd love to tell
What mighty heart lies quencht and broken there.
So let us build our Poet's monument!
With passionate hearts of love for corner-stones,
And tears that temper for immortal fame.
And it were well, my England, shouldst thou come
To weep some honest drops above his grave.
Our Hood is worthier of eternal praise
And blessings, and dear heart-immunities,
Than warrior Wellington, who rode to fame
On Death's white horse by Battle's crimson path.


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