Legends and lyrics, Series 1.
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 WORDS.

 

WORDS are lighter than the cloud-foam
    Of the restless ocean spray;
Vainer than the trembling shadow
    That the next hour steals away.
By the fall of summer raindrops
    Is the air as deeply stirred;
And the rose-leaf that we tread on
        Will outlive a word.

Yet, on the dull silence breaking
    With a lightning flash, a Word,
Bearing endless desolation
    On its blighting wings, I heard:
Earth can forge no keener weapon,
    Dealing surer death and pain,
And the cruel echo answered
        Through long years again.

I have known one word hang starlike
    O'er a dreary waste of years,
And it only shone the brighter
    Looked at through a mist of tears;
While a weary wanderer gathered
    Hope and heart on Life's dark way,
By its faithful promise, shining
        Clearer day by day.

I have known a spirit, calmer
    Than the calmest lake, and clear
As the heavens that gazed upon it,
    With no wave of hope or fear;
But a storm had swept across it,
    And its deepest depths were stirred,
(Never, never more to slumber,)
        Only by a word.

I have known a word more gentle
    Than the breath of summer air;
In a listening heart it nestled,
    And it lived for ever there.
Not the beating of its prison
    Stirred it ever, night or day;
Only with the heart's last throbbing
        Could it fade away.

Words are mighty, words are living:
    Serpents with their venomous stings,
Or bright angels, crowding round us,
    With heaven's light upon their wings:
Every word has its own spirit,
    True or false, that never dies;
Every word man's lips have uttered
        Echoes in God's skies.

 

___________________

 
A LOVE TOKEN.

 

DO you grieve no costly offering
    To the Lady you can make?
One there is, and gifts less worthy
    Queens have stooped to take.

Take a Heart of virgin silver,
    Fashion it with heavy blows,
Cast it into Love's hot furnace
    When it fiercest glows.

With Pain's sharpest point transfix it,
    And then carve in letters fair,
Tender dreams and quaint devices,
    Fancies sweet and rare.

Set within it Hope's blue sapphire,
    Many-changing opal fears,
Blood-red ruby-stones of daring,
    Mixed with pearly tears.

And when you have wrought and laboured
    Till the gift is all complete,
You may humbly lay your offering
    At the Lady's feet.

Should her mood perchance be gracious—
    With disdainful smiling pride,
She will place it with the trinkets
    Glittering at her side.

 

___________________

 
A TRYST WITH DEATH.

 

I AM footsore and very weary,
    But I travel to meet a Friend:
The way is long and dreary,
    But I know that it soon must end.

He is travelling fast like the whirlwind,
    And though I creep slowly on,
We are drawing nearer, nearer,
    And the journey is almost done.

Through the heat of many summers,
    Through many a springtime rain,
Through long autumns and weary winters,
    I have hoped to meet him, in vain.

I know that he will not fail me,
    So I count every hour chime,
Every throb of my own heart's beating,
    That tells of the flight of Time.

On the day of my birth he plighted
    His kingly word to me:—
I have seen him in dreams so often,
    That I know what his smile must be.

I have toiled through the sunny woodland,
    Through fields that basked in the light;
And through the lone paths in the forest
    I crept in the dead of night.

I will not fear at his coming,
    Although I must meet him alone;
He will look in my eyes so gently,
    And take my hand in his own.

Like a dream all my toil will vanish,
    When I lay my head on his breast—
But the journey is very weary,
    And he only can give me rest!

 

___________________

 
FIDELIS.

 

You have taken back the promise
    That you spoke so long ago;
Taken back the heart you gave me—
    I must even let it go.
Where Love once has breathed, Pride dieth:
    So I struggled, but in vain,
First to keep the links together,
    Then to piece the broken chain.

But it might not be—so freely
    All your friendship I restore,
And the heart that I had taken
    As my own for evermore.
No shade of reproach shall touch you,
    Dread no more a claim from me—
But I will not have you fancy
    That I count myself as free.

I am bound by the old promise;
    What can break that golden chain?
Not even the words that you have spoken,
    Or the sharpness of my pain:
Do you think, because you fail me
    And draw back your hand to-day,
That from out the heart I gave you
    My strong love can fade away?

It will live.   No eyes may see it;
    In my soul it will lie deep,
Hidden from all; but I shall feel it
    Often stirring in its sleep.
So remember, that the friendship
    Which you now think poor and vain,
Will endure in hope and patience,
    Till you ask for it again.

Perhaps in some long twilight hour,
    Like those we have known of old,
When past shadows gather round you,
    And your present friends grow cold,
You may stretch your hands out towards me,—
    Ah! you will—I know not when—
I shall nurse my love and keep it
    Faithfully, for you, till then.

 

___________________

 
A SHADOW.

 

What lack the valleys and mountains
    That once were green and gay?
What lack the babbling fountains?
    Their voice is sad to-day.
            Only the sound of a voice,
            Tender and sweet and low,
            That made the earth rejoice,
                A year ago!

What lack the tender flowers?
    A shadow is on the sun:
What lack the merry hours,
    That I long that they were done?
            Only two smiling eyes,
            That told of joy and mirth:
            They are shining in the skies,
                I mourn on earth!

What lacks my heart, that makes it
    So weary and full of pain,
That trembling Hope forsakes it,
    Never to come again?
        Only another heart,
        Tender and all mine own,
        In the still grave it lies;
            I weep alone!

 

___________________

 
THE SAILOR BOY

-I-

 

MY Life you ask of? why, you know
Full soon my little Life is told;
It has had no great joy or woe,
For I am only twelve years old.
Ere long I hope I shall have been
On my first voyage, and wonders seen.
Some princess I may help to free
From pirates, on a far-off sea;
Or, on some desert isle be left,
Of friends and shipmates all bereft.

 

-II-
 

    For the first time I venture forth,
From our blue mountains of the north.
My kinsman kept the lodge that stood
Guarding the entrance near the wood,
By the stone gateway grey and old,
With quaint devices carved about,
And broken shields; while dragons bold
Glared on the common world without;
And the long trembling ivy spray
Half hid the centuries' decay.
In solitude and silence grand
The castle towered above the land:
The castle of the Earl, whose name
(Wrapped in old bloody legends) came
Down through the times when Truth and
          Right
Bent down to armed Pride and Might.
He owned the country far and near;
And, for some weeks in every year,
(When the brown leaves were falling fast
And the long, lingering autumn passed,)
He would come down to hunt the deer,
With hound and horse in splendid pride.
The story lasts the live-long year,
The peasant's winter evening fills,
When he is gone and they abide
In the lone quiet of their hills.

 

-III-
 

    I longed, too, for the happy night,
When, all with torches flaring bright,
The crowding villagers would stand,
A patient, eager, waiting band,
Until the signal ran like flame—
"They come!" and, slackening speed, they
          came.
Outriders first, in pomp and state,
Pranced on their horses through the gate;
Then the four steeds as black as night,
All decked with trappings blue and white,
Drew through the crowd that opened wide,
The Earl and Countess side by side.
The stern grave Earl, with formal smile
And glistening eyes and stately pride,
Could ne'er my childish gaze beguile
From the fair presence by his side.
The lady's soft sad glance, her eyes,
(Like stars that shone in summer skies,)
Her pure white face so calmly bent,
With gentle greetings round her sent
Her look, that always seemed to gaze
Where the blue past had closed again
Over some happy shipwrecked days,
With all their freight of love and pain:
She did not even seem to see
The little lord upon her knee.
And yet he was like angel fair,
With rosy cheeks and golden hair,
That fell on shoulders white as snow:
But the blue eyes that shone below
His clustering rings of auburn curls,
Were not his mother's, but the Earl's.

 

-IV-
 

    I feared the Earl, so cold and grim,
I never dared be seen by him.
When through our gate he used to ride,
My kinsman Walter bade me hide;
He said he was so stern.
So, when the hunt came past our way,
I always hastened to obey,
Until I heard the bugles play
The notes of their return.
But she—my very heart-strings stir
Whene'er I speak or think of her—
The whole wide world could never see
A noble lady such as she,
So full of angel charity.

 

-V-
 

    Strange things of her our neighbours told
In the long winter evenings cold,
Around the fire.   They would draw near
And speak half-whispering, as in fear;
As if they thought the Earl could hear
Their treason 'gainst his name.
They thought the story that his pride
Had stooped to wed a low-born bride,
A stain upon his fame.
Some said 'twas false; there could not be
Such blot on his nobility:
But others vowed that they had heard
The actual story word for word,
From one who well my lady knew,
And had declared the story true.

 

-VI-
 

    In a far village, little known,
She dwelt—so ran the tale—alone.
A widowed bride, yet, oh! so bright,
Shone through the mist of grief, her charms;
They said it was the loveliest sight—
She with her baby in her arms.
The Earl, one summer morning, rode
By the sea-shore where she abode;
Again he came—that vision sweet
Drew him reluctant to her feet.
Fierce must the struggle in his heart
Have been, between his love and pride,
Until he chose that wondrous part,
To ask her to become his bride.
Yet, ere his noble name she bore,
He made her vow that nevermore
She would behold her child again,
But hide his name and hers from men.
The trembling promise duly spoken,
All links of the low past were broken;
And she arose to take her stand
Amid the nobles of the land.
Then all would wonder—could it be
That one so lowly born as she,
Raised to such height of bliss, should seem
Still living in some weary dream?
'Tis true she bore with calmest grace
The honours of her lofty place,
Yet never smiled, in peace or joy,
Not even to greet her princely boy.
She heard, with face of white despair,
The cannon thunder through the air,
That she had given the Earl an heir.
Nay, even more, (they whispered low,
As if they scarce durst fancy so,)
That, through her lofty wedded life,
No word, no tone, betrayed the wife.
Her look seemed ever in the past;
Never to him it grew more sweet;
The self-same weary glance she cast
Upon the grey-hound at her feet,
As upon him, who bade her claim
The crowning honour of his name.

 

-VII-
 

    This gossip, if old Walter heard,
He checked it with a scornful word:
I never durst such tales repeat;
He was too serious and discreet
To speak of what his lord might do;
Besides, he loved my lady too.
And many a time, I recollect,
They were together in the wood;
He, with an air of grave respect,
And earnest look, uncovered stood.
And though their speech I never heard,
(Save now and then a louder word,)
I saw he spake as none but one
She loved and trusted, durst have done;
For oft I watched them in the shade
That the close forest branches made,
Till slanting golden sunbeams came
And smote the fir-trees into flame,
A radiant glory round her lit,
Then down her white robes seemed to flit,
Gilding the brown leaves on the ground,
And all the waving ferns around.
While by some gloomy pine she leant
And he in earnest talk would stand,
I saw the tear-drops, as she bent,
Fall on the flowers in her hand.—
Strange as it seemed and seems to be,
That one so sad, so cold as she,
Could love a little child like me—
Yet so it was.   I never heard
Such tender words as she would say,
And murmurs, sweeter than a word,
Would breathe upon me as I lay.
While I, in smiling joy, would rest,
For hours, my head upon her breast.
Our neighbours said that none could see
In me the common childish charms,
(So grave and still I used to be,)
And yet she held me in her arms,
In a fond clasp, so close, so tight—
I often dream of it at night.
She bade me tell her all—no other
My childish thoughts e'er cared to know:
For I—I never knew my mother;
I was an orphan long ago.
And I could all my fancies pour,
That gentle loving face before.
She liked to hear me tell her all;
How that day I had climbed the tree,
To make the largest fir-cones fall;
And how one day I hoped to be
A sailor on the deep blue sea—
She loved to hear it all!

 

-VIII-
 

    Then wondrous things she used to tell,
Of the strange dreams that she had known.
I used to love to hear them well,
If only for her sweet low tone,
Sometimes so sad, although I knew
That such things never could be true.
One day she told me such a tale
It made me grow all cold and pale,
The fearful thing she told!
Of a poor woman mad and wild
Who coined the life-blood of her child,
And tempted by a fiend, had sold
The heart out of her breast for gold.
But, when she saw me frightened seem,
She smiled, and said it was a dream.
When I look back and think of her,
My very heart-strings seem to stir;
How kind, how fair she was, how good
I cannot tell you. If I could
You, too, would love her.
The mere thought
Of her great love for me has brought
Tears in my eyes: though far away,
It seems as it were yesterday.
And just as when I look on high
Through the blue silence of the sky,
Fresh stars shine out, and more and more,
Where I could see so few before;
So, the more steadily I gaze
Upon those far-off misty days,
Fresh words, fresh tones, fresh memories start
Before my eyes and in my heart.
I can remember how one day
(Talking in silly childish way)
I said how happy I should be
If I were like her son—as fair,
With just such bright blue eyes as he,
And such long locks of golden hair.
A strange smile on her pale face broke,
And in strange solemn words she spoke:
    "My own, my darling one—no, no!
I love you, far, far better so.
I would not change the look you bear,
Or one wave of your dark brown hair.
The mere glance of your sunny eyes,
Deep in my deepest soul I prize
Above that baby fair!
Not one of all the Earl's proud line
In beauty ever matched with thine;
And, 'tis by thy dark locks thou art
Bound even faster round my heart,
And made more wholly mine!"
And then she paused, and weeping said,
"You are like one who now is dead—
Who sleeps in a far-distant grave.
Oh may God grant that you may be
As noble and as good as he,
As gentle and as brave!"
Then in my childish way I cried,
"The one you tell me of who died,
Was he as noble as the Earl?"
I see her red lips scornful curl,
I feel her hold my hand again
So tightly, that I shrink in pain—
I seem to hear her say,
"He whom I tell you of, who died,
He was so noble and so gay,
So generous and so brave,
That the proud Earl by his dear side
Would look a craven slave."
She paused; then, with a quivering sigh,
She laid her hand upon my brow:
"Live like him, darling, and so die.
Remember that he tells you now,
True peace, real honour, and content,
In cheerful pious toil abide;
That gold and splendour are but sent
To curse our vanity and pride."

 

-IX-
 

    One day some childish fever pain
Burnt in my veins and fired my brain.
Moaning, I turned from side to side;
And, sobbing in my bed, I cried,
Till night in calm and darkness crept
Around me, and at last I slept.
When suddenly I woke to see
The Lady bending over me.
The drops of cold November rain
Were falling from her long, damp hair;
Her anxious eyes were dim with pain;
Yet she looked wondrous fair.
Arrayed for some great feast she came,
With stones that shone and burnt like flame;
Wound round her neck, like some bright
          snake,
And set like stars within her hair,
They sparkled so, they seemed to make
A glory everywhere.
I felt her tears upon my face,
Her kisses on my eyes;
And a strange thought I could not trace
I felt within my heart arise;
And, half in feverish pain, I said:
"Oh if my mother were not dead!"
And Walter bade me sleep; but she
Said, "Is it not the same to thee
That I watch by thy bed?"
I answered her, "I love you, too;
But it can never be the same;
She was no Countess like to you,
Nor wore such sparkling stones of flame."
Oh the wild look of fear and dread!
The cry she gave of bitter woe!
I often wonder what I said
To make her moan and shudder so.
Through the long night she tended me
With such sweet care and charity.
But should weary you to tell
All that I know and love so well:
Yet one night more stands out alone
With a sad sweetness all its own.

 

-X-
 

    The wind blew loud that dreary night:
Its wailing voice I well remember:
The stars shone out so large and bright
Upon the frosty fir-boughs white,
That dreary night of cold December.
I saw old Walter silent stand,
Watching the soft white flakes of snow
With looks I could not understand,
Of strange perplexity and woe.
At last he turned and took my hand,
And said the Countess just had sent
To bid us come; for she would fain
See me once more, before she went
Away—never to come again.
We came in silence through the wood
(Our footfall was the only sound)
To where the great white castle stood,
With darkness shadowing it around.
Breathless, we trod with cautious care
Up the great echoing marble stair;
Trembling, by Walter's hand I held,
Scared by the splendours I beheld:
Now thinking, "Should the Earl appear!"
Now looking up with giddy fear
To the dim vaulted roof, that spread
Its gloomy arches overhead.
Long corridors we softly past,
(My heart was beating loud and fast)
And reached the Lady's room at last:
A strange faint odour seemed to weigh
Upon the dim and darkened air;
One shaded lamp, with softened ray,
Scarce showed the gloomy splendour there.
The dull red brands were burning low,
And yet a fitful gleam of light,
Would now and then, with sudden glow,
Start forth, then sink again in night.
I gazed around, yet half in fear,
Till Walter told me to draw near:
And in the strange and flickering light,
Towards the Lady's bed I crept;
All folded round with snowy white,
She lay; (one would have said she slept;)
So still the look of that white face,
It seemed as it were carved in stone,
I paused before I dared to place
Within her cold white hand my own.
But, with a smile of sweet surprise,
She turned to me her dreamy eyes;
And slowly, as if life were pain,
She drew me in her arms to lie:
She strove to speak, and strove in vain;
Each breath was like a long-drawn sigh.
The throbs that seemed to shake her breast,
The trembling clasp, so loose and weak,
At last grew calmer, and at rest;
And then she strove once more to speak:
"My God, I thank thee, that my pain
Of day by day and year by year,
Has not been suffered all in vain,
And I may die while he is near.
I will not fear but that Thy grace
Has swept away my sin and woe,
And sent this little angel face,
In my last hour to tell me so."
(And here her voice grew faint and low,)
"My child, where'er thy life may go,
To know that thou art brave and true,
Will pierce the highest heavens through,
And even there my soul shall be
More joyful for this thought of thee."
She folded her white hands, and stayed;
All cold and silently she lay:
I knelt beside the bed, and prayed
The prayer she used to make me say.
I said it many times, and then
She did not move, but seemed to be
In a deep sleep, nor stirred again.
No sound woke in the silent room,
Or broke the dim and solemn gloom,
Save when the brands that burnt so low,
With noisy fitful gleam of light,
Would spread around a sudden glow,
Then sink in silence and in night.
How long I stood I do not know:
At last poor Walter came, and said
(So sadly) that we now must go,
And whispered, she we loved was dead.
He bade me kiss her face once more,
Then led me sobbing to the door.
I scarcely knew what dying meant,
Yet a strange grief, before unknown,
Weighed on my spirit as we went
And left her lying all alone.

 

-XI-
 

    We went to the far North once more,
To seek the well-remembered home,
Where my poor kinsman dwelt before,
Whence now he was too old to roam;
And there six happy years we past,
Happy and peaceful till the last;
When poor old Walter died, and he
Blessed me and said I now might be
A sailor on the deep blue sea.
And so I go; and yet in spite
Of all the joys I long to know,
Though I look onward with delight,
With something of regret I go;
And young or old, on land or sea,
One guiding memory I shall take—
Of what She prayed that I might be,
And what I will be for her sake!

 

___________________

 
A CROWN OF SORROW.

 

A SORROW, wet with early tears
    Yet bitter, had been long with me;
I wearied of this weight of years,
        And would be free.

I tore my Sorrow from my heart,
    I cast it far away in scorn;
Right joyful that we two could part—
        Yet most forlorn.

I sought, (to take my Sorrow's place,)
    Over the world for flower or gem—
But she had had an ancient grace
        Unknown to them.

I took once more with strange delight
    My slighted Sorrow; proudly now,
I wear it, set with stars of light,
        Upon my brow.

 

___________________

 
THE LESSON OF THE WAR.
(1855.)

 

THE feast is spread through England
    For rich and poor to-day;
Greetings and laughter may be there,
    But thoughts are far away;
Over the stormy ocean,
    Over the dreary track,
Where some are gone, whom England
    Will never welcome back.

Breathless she waits, and listens
    For every eastern breeze
That bears upon its bloody wings
    News from beyond the seas.
The leafless branches stirring
    Make many a watcher start;
The distant tramp of steed may send
    A throb from heart to heart.

The rulers of the nation,
    The poor ones at their gate,
With the same eager wonder
    The same great news await.
The poor man's stay and comfort,
    The rich man's joy and pride,
Upon the bleak Crimean shore
    Are fighting side by side.

The bullet comes—and either
    A desolate hearth may see;
And God alone to-night knows where
    The vacant place may be!
The dread that stirs the peasant
    Thrills nobles' hearts with fear—
Yet above selfish sorrow
    Both hold their country dear.

The rich man who reposes
    In his ancestral shade,
The peasant at his ploughshare,
    The worker at his trade,
Each one his all his perilled,
    Each has the same great stake,
Each soul can but have patience,
    Each heart can only break!

Hushed is all party clamour;
    One thought in every heart,
One dread in every household,
    Has bid such strife depart.
England has called her children;
    Long silent—the word came
That lit the smouldering ashes
    Through all the land to flame.

Oh you who toil and suffer,
    You gladly heard the call;
But those you sometimes envy
    Have they not given their all?
Oh you who rule the nation,
    Take now the toil-worn hand—
Brothers you are in sorrow,
    In duty to your land.
Learn but this noble lesson
    Ere Peace returns again,
And the life-blood of Old England
    Will not be shed in vain.

 

___________________

 
THE TWO SPIRITS.
(1855.)

 

LAST night, when weary silence fell on all,
    And starless skies arose so dim and vast,
I heard the Spirit of the Present call
    Upon the sleeping Spirit of the Past.
Far off and near, I saw their radiance shine,
    And listened while they spoke of deeds divine.

 

The Spirit of the Past.


My deeds are writ in iron;
    My glory stands alone;
A veil of shadowy honour
    Upon my tombs is thrown;
The great names of my heroes
    Like gems in history lie;
To live they deemed ignoble,
    Had they the chance to die!

 

The Spirit of the Present.


My children, too, are honoured;
    Dear shall their memory be
To the proud lands that own them;
    Dearer than thine to thee;
For, though they hold that sacred
    Is God's great gift of life,
At the first call of duty
    They rush into the strife!

 

The Spirit of the Past.


Then, with all valiant precepts
    Woman's soft heart was fraught;
"Death, not dishonour," echoed
    The war-cry she had taught.
Fearless and glad, those mothers,
    At bloody deaths elate,
Cried out they bore their children
    Only for such a fate!

 

The Spirit of the Present.


Though such stern laws of honour
    Are faded now away,
Yet many a mourning mother,
    With nobler grief than they,
Bows down in sad submission:
    The heroes of the fight
Learnt at her knee the lesson,
    "For God and for the Right!"

 

The Spirit of the Past.


No voice there spake of sorrow:
    They saw the noblest fall
With no repining murmur;
    Stern Fate was lord of all.
And when the loved ones perished,
    One cry alone arose,
Waking the startled echoes,
    "Vengeance upon our foes!"

 

The Spirit of the Present.


Grief dwells in France and England
    For many a noble son;
Yet louder than the sorrow,
    "Thy will, Oh God, be done!"
From desolate homes is rising
    One prayer, "Let carnage cease!
On friends and foes have mercy,
    Oh Lord, and give us peace!"

 

The Spirit of the Past.


Then, every hearth was honoured
    That sent its children forth,
To spread their country's glory,
    And gain her south or north.
Then, little recked they numbers,
    No band would ever fly,
But stern and resolute they stood
    To conquer or to die.

 

The Spirit of the Present.


And now from France and England
    Their dearest and their best
Go forth to succour freedom,
    To help the much oppressed;
Now, let the far-off Future
    And Past bow down to-day,
Before the few young hearts that hold
    Whole armaments at bay.

 

The Spirit of the Past.


Then, each one strove for honour,
    Each for a deathless name;
Love, home, rest, joy, were offered
    As sacrifice to Fame.
They longed that in far ages
    Their deeds might still be told,
And distant times and nations
    Their names in honour hold.

 

The Spirit of the Present.


Though nursed by such old legends,
    Our heroes of to-day
Go cheerfully to battle
    As children go to play;
They gaze with awe and wonder
    On your great names of pride,
Unconscious that their own will shine
    In glory side by side!

 

Day dawned; and as the Spirits passed away,
Methought I saw, in the dim morning grey,
The Past's bright diadem had paled before
The starry crown the glorious Present wore.

 

___________________

 
A LITTLE LONGER.

 

A LITTLE longer yet—a little longer,
Shall violets bloom for thee, and sweet birds
            sing;
And the lime branches where soft winds are
            blowing,
Shall murmur the sweet promise of the
            Spring!

A little longer yet—a little longer,
Thou shalt behold the quiet of the morn;
While tender grasses and awakening flowers
Send up a golden mist to greet the dawn!

A little longer yet—a little longer,
The tenderness of twilight shall be thine,
The rosy clouds that float o'er dying daylight,
Nor fade till trembling stars begin to shine.

A little longer yet—a little longer,
Shall starry night be beautiful for thee;
And the cold moon shall look through the
            blue silence,
Flooding her silver path upon the sea.

A little longer yet—a little longer,
Life shall be thine; life with its power to will;
Life with its strength to bear, to love, to
            conquer,
Bringing its thousand joys thy heart to fill.

A little longer yet—a little longer,
The voices thou hast loved shall charm thine
            ear;
And thy true heart, that now beats quick to
            hear them,
A little longer yet shall hold them dear.

A little longer yet—joy while thou mayest;
Love and rejoice! for time has nought in store;
And soon the darkness of the grave shall bid
            thee
Love and rejoice and feel and know no more.

__________


A little longer still—Patience, Belovèd:
A little longer still, ere Heaven unroll
The Glory, and the Brightness, and the
            Wonder,
Eternal, and divine, that waits thy Soul!

A little longer ere Life true, immortal,
(Not this our shadowy Life,) will be thine own;
And thou shalt stand where winged Arch-
            angels worship,
And trembling bow before the Great White Throne.

A little longer still, and Heaven awaits thee,
And fills thy spirit with a great delight;
Then our pale joys will seem a dream for-
            gotten,
Our Sun a darkness, and our Day a Night.

A little longer, and thy Heart, Belovèd,
Shall beat for ever with a Love divine;
And joy so pure, so mighty, so eternal,
No creature knows and lives, will then be
            thine.

A little longer yet—and angel voices
Shall ring in heavenly chant upon thine ear;
Angels and Saints await thee, and God needs
            thee:
Beloved, can we bid thee linger here!

 

___________________

 
GRIEF.

 

AN ancient enemy have I,
And either he or I must die;
For he never leaveth me,
Never gives my soul relief,
Never lets my sorrow cease,
Never gives my spirit peace—
For mine enemy is Grief!

Pale he is, and sad and stern;
And whene'er he cometh nigh,
Blue and dim the torches burn,
Pale and shrunk the roses turn;
While my heart that he has pierced
Many a time with fiery lance,
Beats and trembles at his glance:
Clad in burning steel is he,
All my strength he can defy;
For he never leaveth me—
And one of us must die!

I have said, "Let ancient sages
Charm me from my thoughts of pain!"
So I read their deepest pages,
And I strove to think—in vain!
Wisdom's cold calm words I tried,
But he was seated by my side:—
Learning I have won in vain;
She cannot rid me of my pain.

When at last soft sleep comes o'er me,
A cold hand is on my heart;
Stern sad eyes are there before me;
Not in dreams will he depart:
And when the same dreary vision
From my weary brain has fled,
Daylight brings the living phantom,
He is seated by my bed,
Bending o'er me all the while,
With his cruel, bitter smile,
Ever with me, ever nigh;—
And either he or I must die!

Then I said, long time ago,
"I will flee to other climes,
I will leave mine ancient foe!"
Though I wandered far and wide—
Still he followed at my side.

And I fled where the blue waters
Bathe the sunny isles of Greece;
Where Thessalian mountains rise
Up against the purple skies;
Where a haunting memory liveth
In each wood and cave and rill;
But no dream of gods could help me—
He went with me still!

I have been where Nile's broad river
Flows upon the burning sand;
Where the desert monster broodeth,
Where the Eastern palm-trees stand;
I have been where pathless forests
Spread a black eternal shade;
Where the lurking panther hiding
Glares from every tangled glade;
But in vain I wandered wide,
He was always by my side!
Then I fled where snows eternal
Cold and dreary ever lie;
Where the rosy lightnings gleam,
Flashing through the northern sky;
Where the red sun turns again
Back upon his path of pain;—
But a shadowy form was with me—
I had fled in vain!

I have thought, "If I can gaze
Sternly on him he will fade,
For I know that he is nothing
But a dim ideal shade."
As I gazed at him the more,
He grew stronger than before!

Then I said, "Mine arm is strong,
I will make him turn and flee:"
I have struggled with him long—
But that could never be!

Once I battled with him so
That I thought I laid him low;
Then in trembling joy I fled,
While again and still again
Murmuring to myself I said,
"Mine old enemy is dead!"
And I stood beneath the stars,
When a chill came on my frame,
And a fear I could not name,
And a sense of quick despair,
And, lo! mine enemy was there!

Listen, for my soul is weary,
Weary of its endless woe;
I have called on one to aid me
Mightier even than my foe.
Strength and hope fail day by day;
I shall cheat him of his prey;
Some day soon, I know not when,
He will stab me through and through;
He has wounded me before,
But my heart can bear no more;
Pray that hour may come to me,
Only then shall I be free;
Death alone has strength to take me
Where my foe can never be;
Death, and Death alone, has power
To conquer mine old enemy!

 

___________________

 
THE TRIUMPH OF TIME.

 

            THE tender delicate Flowers,
I saw them fanned by a warm western wind,
            Fed by soft summer showers,
Shielded by care, and yet, (oh Fate unkind!)
            Fade in a few short hours.

            The gentle and the gay,
Rich in a glorious Future of bright deeds,
            Rejoicing in the day,
Are met by Death, who sternly, sadly leads
            Them far away.

            And Hopes, perfumed and bright,
So lately shining, wet with dew and tears,
            Trembling in morning light;
I saw them change to dark and anxious fears
            Before the night!

            I wept that all must die—
"Yet Love," I cried, "doth live, and conquer
                death—"
            And Time passed by,
And breathed on Love, and killed it with his
                breath
            Ere Death was nigh.

            More bitter far than all
It was to know that Love could change and
                die—
            Hush! for the ages call
"The Love of God lives through eternity,
            And conquers all!"

___________________

 
A PARTING.

WITHOUT one bitter feeling let us part—
    And for the years in which your love has
                shed
    A radiance like a glory round my head,
I thank you, yes, I thank you from my heart.

I thank you for the cherished hope of years,
    A starry future, dim and yet divine,
    Winging its way from Heaven to be mine,
Laden with joy, and ignorant of tears.

I thank you, yes, I thank you even more
    That my heart learnt not without love to live,
    But gave and gave, and still had more to
                give,
From an abundant and exhaustless store.

I thank you, and no grief is in these tears;
    I thank you, not in bitterness but truth,
    For the fair vision that adorned my youth
And glorified so many happy years.

Yet how much more I thank you that you tore
    At length the veil your hand had woven
                away,
    Which hid my idol was a thing of clay,
And false the altar I had knelt before.

I thank you that you taught me the stern truth,
    (None other could have told and I believed,)
    That vain had been my life, and I deceived,
And wasted all the purpose of my youth.

I thank you that your hand dashed down the
                shrine,
    Wherein my idol worship I had paid;
    Else had I never known a soul was made
To serve and worship only the Divine.

I thank you that the heart I cast away
    On such as you, though broken, bruised
                and crushed,
    Now that its fiery throbbing is all hushed,
Upon a worthier altar I can lay.

I thank you for the lesson that such love
    Is a perverting of God's royal right,
    That it is made but for the Infinite,
And all too great to live except above.

I thank you for a terrible awaking,
    And if reproach seemed hidden in my pain,
    And sorrow seemed to cry on your disdain,
Know that my blessing lay in your forsaking.

Farewell for ever now:—in peace we part;
    And should an idle vision of my tears
    Arise before your soul in after years—
Remember that I thank you from my heart!

___________________

 
THE GOLDEN GATE.

DIM shadows gather thickly round, and up
          the misty stair they climb,
The cloudy stair that upward leads to where
          the closed portals shine,
Round which the kneeling spirits wait the
          opening of the Golden Gate.

And some with eager longing go, still pressing
          forward, hand in hand,
And some with weary step and slow, look back
          where their Beloved stand—
Yet up the misty stair they climb, led onward
          by the Angel Time.

As unseen hands roll back the doors, the light
          that floods the very air
Is but the shadow from within, of the great
          glory hidden there—
And morn and eve, and soon and late, the
          shadows pass within the gate.

As one by one they enter in, and the stern
          portals close once more,
The halo seems to linger round those kneeling
          closest to the door:
The joy that lightened from that place shines
          still upon the watcher's face.

The faint low echo that we hear of far-off
          music seems to fill
The silent air with love and fear, and the
          world's clamours all grow still,
Until the portals close again, and leave us
          toiling on in pain.

Complain not that the way is long—what
          road is weary that leads there?
But let the Angel take thy hand, and lead
          thee up the misty stair,
And then with beating heart await, the open-
          ing of the Golden Gate.

___________________

 
PHANTOMS.

BACK, ye Phantoms of the Past;
    In your dreary caves remain:
What have I to do with memories
    Of a long-forgotten pain?

For my Present is all peaceful,
    And my Future nobly planned:
Long ago Time's mighty billows
    Swept your footsteps from the sand.

Back into your caves; nor haunt me
    With your voices full of woe;
I have buried grief and sorrow
    In the depths of Long-ago.

See the glorious clouds of morning
    Roll away, and clear and bright
Shine the rays of cloudless daylight—
    Wherefore will ye moan of night?

Never shall my heart be burthened
    With its ancient woe and fears;
I can drive them from my presence,
    I can check these foolish tears.

Back, ye Phantoms; leave, oh leave me
    To a new and happy lot;
Speak no more of things departed;
    Leave me—for I know ye not.

Can it be that 'mid my gladness
    I must ever hear you wail,
Of the grief that wrung my spirit,
    And that made my cheek so pale?

Joy is mine; but your sad voices
    Murmur ever in mine ear:
Vain is all the Future's promise,
    While the dreary Past is here.

Vain, oh worse than vain, the Visions
    That my heart, my life would fill,
If the Past's relentless phantoms
    Call upon me still!

___________________

 
THANKFULNESS.

MY God, I thank Thee who hast made
        The Earth so bright;
So full of splendour and of joy,
        Beauty and light;
So many glorious things are here,
        Noble and right!

I thank Thee, too, that Thou hast made
        Joy to abound;
So many gentle thoughts and deeds
        Circling us round,
That in the darkest spot of Earth
        Some love is found.

I thank Thee more that all our joy
        Is touched with pain;
That shadows fall on brightest hours;
        That thorns remain;
So that Earth's bliss may be our guide,
        And not our chain.

For Thou who knowest, Lord, how soon
        Our weak heart clings,
Hast given us joys, tender and true,
        Yet all with wings,
So that we see, gleaming on high,
        Diviner things!

I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou hast kept
        The best in store;
We have enough, yet not too much
        To long for more:
A yearning for a deeper peace,
        Not known before.

I thank Thee, Lord, that here our souls,
        Though amply blest,
Can never find, although they seek,
        A perfect rest—
Nor ever shall, until they lean
        On Jesus' breast!

___________________

 
HOME-SICKNESS.

WHERE I am, the halls are gilded,
    Stored with pictures bright and rare;
Strains of deep melodious music
    Float upon the perfumed air:—
Nothing stirs the dreary silence
    Save the melancholy sea,
Near the poor and humble cottage,
    Where I fain would be!

Where I am, the sun is shining,
    And the purple windows glow,
Till their rich armorial shadows
    Stain the marble floor below:—
Faded Autumn leaves are trembling,
    On the withered jasmine tree,
Creeping round the little casement,
    Where I fain would be!

Where I am, the days are passing
    O'er a pathway strewn with flowers;
Song and joy and starry pleasures
    Crown the happy smiling hours:—
Slowly, heavily, and sadly,
    Time with weary wings must flee,
Marked by pain, and toil, and sorrow,
    Where I fain would be!

Where I am, the great and noble
    Tell me of renown and fame,
And the red wine sparkles highest,
    To do honour to my name:—
Far away a place is vacant,
    By a humble hearth, for me,
Dying embers dimly show it,
    Where I fain would be!

Where I am, are glorious dreaminess,
    Science, genius, art divine;
And the great minds whom all honour
    Interchange their thoughts with mine:—
A few simple hearts are waiting,
    Longing, wearying, for me,
Far away where tears are falling,
    Where I fain would be!

Where I am, all think me happy,
    For so well I play my part,
None can guess, who smile around me,
    How far distant is my heart—
Far away, in a poor cottage,
    Listening to the dreary sea,
Where the treasures of my life are,
    Where I fain would be!

___________________

 
WISHES.

ALL the fluttering wishes
    Caged within thy heart
Beat their wings against it,
    Longing to depart,
Till they shake their prison
    With their wounded cry;
Open wide thy heart to-day,
    And let the captives fly.

Let them first fly upward
    Through the starry air,
Till you almost lose them,
    For their home is there;
Then, with outspread pinions,
    Circling round and round,
Wing their way, wherever
    Want and woe are found.

Where the weary stitcher
    Toils for daily bread;
Where the lonely watcher
    Watches by her dead;
Where with thin weak fingers,
    Toiling at the loom,
Stand the little children,
    Blighted ere they bloom.

Where, by darkness blinded,
    Groping for the light,
With distorted conscience
    Men do wrong for right;
Where, in the cold shadow,
    By smooth pleasure thrown,
Human hearts by hundreds
    Harden into stone.

Where on dusty highways,
    With faint heart and slow,
Cursing the glad sunlight,
    Hungry outcasts go:
Where all mirth is silenced,
    And the hearth is chill,
For one place is empty,
    And one voice is still.

Some hearts will be lighter
    While your captives roam
For their tender singing,
    Then recal them home;
When the sunny hours
    Into night depart,
Softly they will nestle
    In a quiet heart.

___________________

 
THE PEACE OF GOD.

        WE ask for Peace, oh Lord!
            Thy children ask Thy Peace;
        Not what the world calls rest,
            That toil and care should cease,
        That through bright sunny hours
            Calm Life should fleet away,
        And tranquil night should fade
                In smiling day;—
It is not for such Peace that we would pray.

        We ask for Peace, oh Lord!
            Yet not to stand secure,
        Girt round with iron Pride,
            Contented to endure:
        Crushing the gentle strings
            That human hearts should know,
        Untouched by others' joy
                Or others' woe;—
Thou, oh dear Lord, wilt never teach us so.

        We ask Thy Peace, oh Lord!
            Through storm, and fear, and strife,
        To light and guide us on,
            Through a long struggling life:
        While no success or gain
            Shall cheer the desperate fight,
        Or nerve, what the world calls,
                Our wasted might:—
Yet pressing through the darkness to the light.

        It is Thine own, oh Lord,
            Who toil while others sleep;
        Who sow with loving care
            What other hands shall reap:
        They lean on Thee entranced,
            In calm and perfect rest:
        Give us that Peace, oh Lord,
                Divine and blest,
Thou keepest for those hearts who love Thee
        best.

___________________

 
LIFE IN DEATH AND DEATH IN LIFE.

-I-

IF the dread day that calls thee hence,
    Through a red mist of fear should loom,
    (Closing in deadliest night and gloom
Long hours of aching dumb suspense,)
    And leave me to my lonely doom.

I think, beloved, I could see
    In thy dear eyes the loving light
    Glaze into vacancy and night,
And still say, "God is good to me,
    And all that He decrees is right."

That, watching thy slow struggling breath,
    And answering each imperfect sign,
    I still could pray thy prayer and mine,
And tell thee, dear, though this was death,
    That God was love, and love divine.

Could hold thee in my arms, and lay
    Upon my heart thy weary head,
    And meet thy last smile ere it fled;
Then hear, as in a dream, one say,
    "Now all is over,—she is dead."

Could smooth thy garments with fond care,
    And cross thy hands upon thy breast,
    And kiss thine eyelids down to rest,
And yet say no word of despair,
    But, through my sobbing, "It is best."

Could stifle down the gnawing pain,
    And say, "We still divide our life,
    She has the rest, and I the strife,
And mine the loss, and hers the gain:
    My ill with bliss for her is rife."

Then turn, and the old duties take—
    Alone now—yet with earnest will
    Gathering sweet sacred traces still
To help me on, and, for thy sake,
    My heart and life and soul to fill.

I think I could check vain weak tears,
    And toil,—although the world's great space
    Held nothing but one vacant place,
And see the dark and weary years
    Lit only by a vanished grace.

And sometimes, when the day was o'er,
    Call up the tender past again:
    Its painful joy, its happy pain,
And live it over yet once more,
    And say, "But few more years remain."

And then, when I had striven my best,
    And all around would smiling say,
    "See how Time makes all grief decay,"
Would lie down thankfully to rest,
    And seek thee in eternal day.


-II-


But if the day should ever rise—
    It could not and it cannot be—
    Yet, if the sun should ever see,
Looking upon us from his skies,
    A day that took thy heart from me;

If loving thee still more and more,
    And still so willing to be blind,
    I should the bitter knowledge find,
That Time had eaten out the core
    Of love, and left the empty rind;

If the poor lifeless words, at last,
    (The soul gone, that was once so sweet,)
    Should cease my eager heart to cheat,
And crumble back into the past,
    And show the whole a vain deceit;

If I should see thee turn away,
    And know that prayer, and time, and pain,
    Could no more thy lost love regain,
Than bid the hours of dying day
    Gleam in their mid-day noon again;

If I should loose thy hand, and know
    That henceforth we must dwell apart,
    Since I had seen thy love depart,
And only count the hours flow
    By the dull throbbing of my heart;

If I should gaze and gaze in vain
    Into thine eyes so deep and clear,
    And read the truth of all my fear
Half mixed with pity for my pain,
    And sorrow for the vanished year;

If not to grieve thee overmuch,
    I strove to counterfeit disdain,
    And weave me a new life again,
Which thy life could not mar, or touch,
    And so smile down my bitter pain;

The ghost of my dead Past would rise
    And mock me, and I could not dare
    Look to a future of despair,
Or even to the eternal skies,
    For I should still be lonely there.

All Truth, all Honour, then would seem
    Vain clouds, which the first wind blew by;
All Trust, a folly doomed to die;
    All Life, a useless empty dream;
    All Love—since thine had failed—a lie.

But see, thy tender smile has cast
    My fear away: this thought of mine
    Is treason to my Love and thine;
For Love is Life, and Death at last
    Crowns it eternal and divine!

___________________

 
RECOLLECTIONS.

AS strangers, you and I are here;
    We both as aliens stand,
Where once, in years gone by,
    I dwelt No stranger in the land.
Then while you gaze on park and stream,
    Let me remain apart,
And listen to the awakened sound
    Of voices in my heart.

Here, where upon the velvet lawn
    The cedar spreads its shade,
And by the flower-beds all around,
    Bright roses bloom and fade;
Shrill merry childish laughter rings,
    And baby voices sweet,
And by me, on the path, I hear
    The tread of little feet.

Down the dark avenue of limes,
    Whose perfume loads the air,
Whose boughs are rustling overhead,
    (For the west wind is there,)
I hear the sound of earnest talk,
    Warnings and counsels wise,
And the quick questioning that brought
    Such gentle calm replies.

Still the light bridge hangs o'er the lake,
    Where broad-leaved lilies lie,
And the cool water shows again
    The cloud that moves on high;—
And one voice speaks, in tones I thought
    The past for ever kept;
But now I know, deep in my heart
    Its echoes only slept.

I hear, within the shady porch,
    Once more, the measured sound
Of the old ballads that were read,
    While we sat listening round;
The starry passion-flower still
    Up the green trellice climbs;
The tendrils waving seem to keep
    The cadence of the rhymes.

I might have striven, and striven in vain,
    Such visions to recall,
Well known and yet forgotten; now
    I see, I hear, them all!
The Present pales before the Past,
    Who comes with angel wings;
As in a dream I stand, amidst
    Strange yet familiar things!

Enough; so let us go, mine eyes
    Are blinded by their tears;
A voice speaks to my soul to-day
    Of long forgotten years.
And yet the vision in my heart,
    In a few hours more,
Will fade into the silent past,
    Silently as before.

___________________

 
ILLUSION.

WHERE the golden corn is bending,
    And the singing reapers pass,
Where the chestnut woods are sending
    Leafy showers upon the grass,

The blue river onward flowing
    Mingles with its noisy strife,
The murmur of the flowers growing,
    And the hum of insect life.

I, from that rich plain was gazing
    Towards the snowy mountains high,
Who their gleaming peaks were raising
    Up against the purple sky.

And the glory of their shining,
    Bathed in clouds of rosy light,
Set my weary spirit pining
    For a home so pure and bright!

So I left the plain, and weary,
    Fainting, yet with hope sustained,
Toiled through pathways long and dreary
    Till the mountain top was gained.

Lo! the height that I had taken,
    As so shining from below,
Was a desolate, forsaken
    Region of perpetual snow.

I am faint, my feet are bleeding,
    All my feeble strength is worn,
In the plain no soul is heeding,
    I am here alone, forlorn.

Lights are shining, bells are tolling,
    In the busy vale below;
Near me night's black clouds are rolling,
    Gathering o'er a waste of snow.

So I watch the river winding
    Through the misty fading plain,
Bitter are the tear-drops blinding,
    Bitter useless toil and pain—
Bitterest of all the finding
    That my dream was false and vain!

___________________

 
A VISION.

GLOOMY and black are the cypress trees,
Drearily waileth the chill night breeze.
The long grass waveth, the tombs are white,
And the black clouds flit o'er the chill moon-
            light.
Silent is all save the dropping rain,
When slowly there cometh a mourning train,
The lone churchyard is dark and dim,
And the mourners raise a funeral hymn:

"Open, dark grave, and take her;
    Though we have loved her so,
Yet we must now forsake her,
Love will no more awake her:
        (Oh, bitter woe!)
Open thine arms and take her
        To rest below!

"Vain is our mournful weeping,
    Her gentle life is o'er;
Only the worm is creeping,
Where she will soon be sleeping,
        For evermore—
Nor joy nor love is keeping
        For her in store!"

Gloomy and black are the cypress trees,
And drearily wave in the chill night breeze.
The dark clouds part and the heavens are
          blue,
Where the trembling stars are shining
          through.
Slowly across the gleaming sky,
A crowd of white angels are passing by.
Like a fleet of swans they float along,
Or the silver notes of a dying song.
Like a cloud of incense their pinions rise,
Fading away up the purple skies.
But hush! for the silent glory is stirred,
By a strain such as earth has never heard:

"Open, oh Heaven! we bear her,
    This gentle maiden mild,
Earth's griefs we gladly spare her,
From earthly joys we tear her,
        Still undefiled;
And to thine arms we bear her,
        Thine own, thy child.

"Open, oh Heaven! no morrow
    Will see this joy o'ercast,
No pain, no tears, no sorrow,
Her gentle heart will borrow;
        Sad life is past;
Shielded and safe from sorrow,
        At home at last."

But the vision faded and all was still,
On the purple valley and distant hill.
No sound was there save the wailing breeze,
The rain, and the rustling cypress trees.

___________________

 
PICTURES IN THE FIRE.

What is it you ask me, darling?
    All my stories, child, you know;
I have no strange dreams to tell you,
    Pictures I have none to show.

Tell you glorious scenes of travel?
    Nay, my child, that cannot be,
I have seen no foreign countries,
    Marvels none on land or sea.

Yet strange sights in truth I witness,
    And I gaze until I tire,
Wondrous pictures, changing ever,
    As I look into the fire.

There, last night, I saw a cavern,
    Black as pitch; within it lay
Coiled in many folds a dragon,
    Glaring as if turned at bay.

And a knight in dismal armour
    On a winged eagle came,
To do battle with this dragon;
    And his crest was all of flame.

As I gazed the dragon faded,
    And, instead, sate Pluto crowned,
By a lake of burning fire;
    Spirits dark were crouching round.

That was gone, and lo! before me,
    A cathedral vast and grim;
I could almost hear the organ
    Peal alone the arches dim.

As I watched the wreathed pillars,
    Groves of stately palms arose,
And a group of swarthy Indians
    Stealing on some sleeping foes.

Stay; a cataract glancing brightly,
    Dashed and sparkled; and beside
Lay a broken marble monster,
    Mouth and eyes were staring wide.

Then I saw a maiden wreathing
    Starry flowers in garlands sweet;
Did she see the fiery serpent
    That was wrapped about her feet?

That fell crashing all and vanished;
    And I saw two armies close—
I could almost hear the clarions,
    And the shouting of the foes.

They were gone; and lo! bright angels,
    On a barren mountain wild,
Raised appealing arms to Heaven,
    Bearing up a little child.

And I gazed, and gazed, and slowly
    Gathered in my eyes sad tears,
And the fiery pictures bore me
    Back through distant dreams of years.

Once again I tasted sorrow,
    With past joy was once more gay,
Till the shade had gathered round me—
    And the fire had died away.

___________________

 
THE SETTLERS.

TWO stranger youths in the Far West,
    Beneath the ancient forest trees,
Pausing, amid their toil to rest,
    Spake of their home beyond the seas;
Spake of the hearts that beat so warmly,
    Of the hearts they loved so well.
In their chilly northern country.
    "Would," they cried, "some voice could tell
Where they are, our own beloved ones!"
    They looked up to the evening sky
Half hidden by the giant branches,
    But heard no angel-voice reply.
All silent was the quiet evening;
    Silent were the ancient trees;
They only heard the murmuring song
        Of the summer breeze,
    That gently played among
        The acacia trees.

And did no warning spirit answer,
    Amid the silence all around;
"Before the lowly village altar
    She thou lovest may be found,
Thou, who trustest still so blindly,
    Know she stands a smiling bride!
Forgetting thee, she turneth kindly
    To the stranger at her side.
Yes, this day thou art forgotten,
    Forgotten, too, thy last farewell,
All the vows that she has spoken,
    And thy heart has kept so well.
Dream no more of a starry future,
    In thy home beyond the seas!"
But he only heard the gentle sigh
        Of the summer breeze,
    So softly passing by
        The acacia trees.

And vainly, too, the other, looking
    Smiling up through hopeful tears,
Asked in his heart of hearts, "Where is she,
    She I love these many years?"
He heard no echo calling faintly:
    "Lo, she lieth cold and pale,
And her smile so calm and saintly
    Heeds not grieving sob or wail—
Heeds not the lilies strewn upon her,
    Pure as she is, and as white,
Or the solemn chanting voices,
    Or the taper's ghastly light."
But silent still was the ancient forest,
    Silent were the gloomy trees,
He only heard the wailing sound
        Of the summer breeze,
    That sadly played around
        The acacia trees!

___________________

 
HUSH!

"I can scarcely hear," she murmured,
    "For my heart beats loud and fast,
But surely, in the far, far distance,
    I can hear a sound at last."
        "It is only the reapers singing,
            As they carry home their sheaves,
        And the evening breeze has risen,
            And rustles the dying leaves."

"Listen! there are voices talking."
    Calmly still she strove to speak,
Yet her voice grew faint and trembling,
    And the red flushed in her cheek.
        "It is only the children playing
            Below, now their work is done,
        And they laugh that their eyes are dazzled
            By the rays of the setting sun."

Fainter grew her voice, and weaker
    As with anxious eyes she cried,
"Down the avenue of chestnuts,
    I can hear a horseman ride."
        "It was only the deer that were feeding
            In a herd on the clover grass,
        They were startled, and fled to the thicket,
            As they saw the reapers pass."

Now the night arose in silence,
    Birds lay in their leafy nest,
And the deer couched in the forest,
    And the children were at rest:
        There was only a sound of weeping
            From watchers around a bed,
        But Rest to the weary spirit,
            Peace to the quiet Dead!

___________________

 
HOURS.

WHEN the bright stars came out last night,
    And the dew lay on the flowers,
I had a vision of delight—
    A dream of by-gone hours.

Those hours that came and fled so fast,
    Of pleasure or of pain,
As phantoms rose from out the past
    Before my eyes again.

With beating heart did I behold
    A train of joyous hours,
Lit with the radiant light of old,
    And, smiling, crowned with flowers.

And some were hours of childish sorrow,
    A mimicry of pain,
That through their tears looked for a morrow
    They knew must smile again.

Those hours of hope that longed for life,
    And wished their part begun,
And ere the summons to the strife,
    Dreamed that the field was won.

I knew the echo of their voice,
    The starry crowns they wore;
The vision made my soul rejoice
    With the old thrill of yore.

I knew the perfume of their flowers;
    The glorious shining rays
Around these happy smiling hours
    Were lit in by-gone days.

Oh stay, I cried—bright visions, stay,
And leave me not forlorn!
But, smiling still, they passed away,
Like shadows of the morn.

One spirit still remained, and cried,
    "Thy soul shall ne'er forget!"
He standeth ever by my side—
    The phantom called Regret!

But still the spirits rose, and there
    Were weary hours of pain,
And anxious hours of fear and care
    Bound by an iron chain.

Dim shadows came of lonely hours,
    That shunned the light of day,
And in the opening smile of flowers
    Saw only quick decay.

Calm hours that sought the starry skies
    For heavenly lore were there;
With folded hands and earnest eyes,
    I knew the hours of prayer.

Stern hours that darkened the sun's light,
    Heralds of coming woes,
With trailing wings, before my sight
    From the dim past arose.

As each dark vision passed and spoke
    I prayed it to depart:
At each some buried sorrow woke
    And stirred within my heart.

Until these hours of pain and care
    Lifted their tearful eyes,
Spread their dark pinions in the air
    And passed into the skies.

___________________

 
THE TWO INTERPRETERS.

"THE clouds are fleeting by, father,
    Look in the shining west,
The great white clouds sail onward
    Upon the sky's blue breast.
Look at a snowy eagle,
    His wings are tinged with red,
And a giant dolphin follows him,
    With a crown upon his head!"

The father spake no word, but watched
    The drifting clouds roll by;
He traced a misty vision too
    Upon the shining sky:
A shadowy form, with well-known grace
    Of weary love and care,
Above the smiling child she held,
    Shook down her floating hair.

"The clouds are changing now, father,
    Mountains rise higher and higher!
And see where red and purple ships
    Sail in a sea of fire!"
The father pressed the little hand
    More closely in his own,
And watched a cloud-dream in the sky
    That he could see alone:
Bright angels carrying far away
    A white form, cold and dead,
Two held the feet, and two bore up
    The flower-crowned, drooping head.

"See, father, see! a glory floods
    The sky, and all is bright,
And clouds of every hue and shade
    Burn in the golden light.
And now, above an azure lake,
    Rise battlements and towers,
Where knights and ladies climb the heights,
    All bearing purple flowers."

The father looked, and, with a pang
    Of love and strange alarm,
Drew close the little eager child
    Within his sheltering arm;
From out the clouds the mother looks
    With wistful glance below,
She seems to seek the treasure left
    On earth so long ago;
She holds her arms out to her child,
    His cradle-song she sings:
The last rays of the sunset gleam
    Upon her outspread wings.

Calm twilight veils the summer sky,
    The shining clouds are gone;
In vain the merry laughing child
    Still gaily prattles on;
In vain the bright stars, one by one,
    On the blue silence start,
A dreary shadow rests to-night
    Upon the father's heart.

___________________

 
COMFORT.

HAST thou o'er the clear heaven of thy soul
              Seen tempests roll?
Hast thou watched all the hopes thou wouldst
          have won
              Fade, one by one?
Wait till the clouds are past, then raise thine
          eyes
              To bitter skies.

Hast thou gone sadly through a dreary night,
              And found no light,
No guide, no star, to cheer thee through the
          plain—
              No friend, save pain?
Wait, and thy soul shall see, when most
          forlorn,
              Rise a new morn.

Hast thou beneath another's stern control
              Bent thy sad soul,
And wasted sacred hopes and precious tears?
              Yet calm thy fears,
For thou canst gain, even from the bitterest
          part,
              A stronger heart.

Has Fate overwhelmed thee with some sudden
          blow?
              Let thy tears flow;
But know when storms are past, the heavens
          appear
              More pure, more clear;
And hope, when farthest from their shining
          rays,
              For brighter days.

Hast thou found life a cheat, and worn in
          vain
              Its iron chain?
Has thy soul bent beneath earth's heavy
          bond?
              Look thou beyond;
If life is bitter—there for ever shine
              Hopes more divine.

Art thou alone, and does thy soul complain
              It lives in vain?
Not vainly does he live who can endure
              Oh be thou sure,
That he who hopes and suffers here, can earn
              A sure return.

Hast thou found nought within thy troubled
          life
              Save inward strife?
Hast thou found all she promised thee,
          Deceit,
              And Hope a cheat?
Endure, and there shall dawn within thy
          breast
              Eternal rest!

___________________

 
HOME AT LAST.

            CHILD, do not fear;
We shall reach our home to-night,
    For the sky is clear,
            And the waters bright;
And the breezes have scarcely strength
    To unfold that little cloud,
            That like a shroud
    Spreads out its fleecy length
            Then have no fear,
As we cleave our silver way
            Through the waters clear.

            Fear not, my child!
Though the waves are white and high,
    And the storm blows wild
            Through the gloomy sky;
On the edge of the western sea,
    See that line of golden light,
            Is the haven bright
Where home is awaiting thee;
            Where, this peril past,
We shall rest from our stormy voyage
            In peace at last.

            Be not afraid;
But give me thy hand, and see
    How the waves have made
            A cradle for thee.
Night is come, dear, and we shall rest;
    So turn from the angry skies,
            And close thine eyes,
And lay thy head on my breast:
            Child, do not weep;
In the calm, cold, purple depths
            There we shall sleep.

___________________

 
UNEXPRESSED.

DWELLS within the soul of every Artist
More than all his effort can express;
And he knows the best remains unuttered;
Sighing at what we call his success.

Vainly he may strive; he dare not tell us
All the sacred mysteries of the skies:
Vainly he may strive; the deepest beauty
Cannot be unveiled to mortal eyes.

And the more devoutly that he listens,
And the holier message that is sent,
Still the more his soul must struggle vainly,
Bowed beneath a noble discontent.

No great Thinker ever lived and taught you
All the wonder that his soul received;
No true Painter ever set on canvas
All the glorious vision he conceived.

No Musician ever held your spirit
Charmed and bound in his melodious chains,
But be sure he heard, and strove to render,
Feeble echoes of celestial strains.

No real Poet ever wove in numbers
All his dream; but the diviner part,
Hidden from all the world, spake to him only
In the voiceless silence of his heart.

So with Love: for Love and Art united
Are twin mysteries; different, yet the same:
Poor indeed would be the love of any
Who could find its full and perfect name.

Love may strive, but vain is the endeavour
All its boundless riches to enfold;
Still its tenderest, truest secret lingers
Ever in its deepest depths untold.

Things of Time have voices: speak and perish.
Art and Love speak—but their words must be
Like sighings of illimitable forests,
And waves of an unfathomable sea.

___________________

 
BECAUSE.

IT is not because your heart is mine—mine
          only—
                Mine alone;
It is not because you chose me, weak and
          lonely,
                For your own;
Not because the earth is fairer, and the skies
                Spread above you
Are more radiant for the shining of your eyes—
                That I love you!

It is not because the world's perplexed meaning
                Grows more clear;
And the Parapets of Heaven, with angels lean-
          ing,
                Seem more near;
And Nature sings of praise with all her voices
                Since yours spoke,
Since within my silent heart, that now rejoices,
                Love awoke!

Nay, not even because your hand holds heart
          and life;
                At your will
Soothing, hushing all its discord, making strife
                Calm and still;
Teaching Trust to fold her wings, nor ever roam
                From her nest;
Teaching Love that her securest, safest home
                Must be Rest.

But because this human Love, though true
          and sweet—
                Yours and mine—
Has been sent by Love more tender, more
          complete,
                More divine;
That it leads our hearts to rest at last in Heaven,
                Far above you;
Do I take you as a gift that God has given—
                —And I love you!

___________________

 
REST AT EVENING.

WHEN the weariness of Life is ended,
And the task of our long day is done,
And the props, on which our hearts depended,
All have failed or broken, one by one;
Evening and our Sorrow's shadow blended
Telling us that peace is now begun.

How far back will seem the sun's first dawning,
And those early mists so cold and grey!
Half forgotten even the toil of morning,
And the heat and burthen of the day:
Flowers that we were tending, and weeds
            scorning,
All alike withered and cast away.

Vain will seem the impatient heart, which
            waited
Toils that gathered but too quickly round;
And the childish joy, so soon elated
At the path we thought none else had found;
And the foolish ardour, soon abated
By the storm which cast us to the ground.

Vain those pauses on the road, each seeming
As our final home and resting-place;
And the leaving them, while tears were
            streaming
Of eternal sorrow down our face;
And the hands we held, fond folly dreaming
That no future could their touch efface.

All will then be faded:—night will borrow
Stars of light to crown our perfect rest;
And the dim vague memory of faint sorrow
Just remain to show us all was best,
Then melt into a divine to-morrow:—
Oh, how poor a day to be so blest!

___________________

 
A RETROSPECT.

FROM this fair point of present bliss,
    Where we together stand,
Let me look back once more, and trace
    That long and desert land,
Wherein till now was cast my lot, and I could
            live, and thou wert not.

Strange that my heart could beat, and know
    Alternate joy and pain,
That suns could roll from east to west,
    And clouds could pass in rain,
And the slow hours without thee fleet, nor stay
            their noiseless silver feet.

What had I then? a hope, that grew
    Each hour more bright and dear,
The flush upon the eastern skies
    That showed the sun was near:—
Now night has faded far away, my sun has
            risen, and it is day.

A dim Ideal of tender grace
    In my soul reigned supreme;
Too noble and too sweet I thought
    To live, save in a dream—
Within thy heart to-day it lies, and looks on
            me from thy dear eyes.

Some gentle spirit—Love I thought—
    Built many a shrine of pain;
Though each false Idol fell to dust,
    The worship was not vain,
But a faint radiant shadow cast back from our
            Love upon the Past.

And Grief, too, held her vigil there;
    With unrelenting sway
Breaking my cloudy visions down,
    Throwing my flowers away:—
I owe to her fond care alone that I may now
            be all thine own.

Fair Joy was there—her fluttering wings
    At times she strove to raise;
Watching through long and patient nights,
    Listening long eager days:
I know now that her heart and mine were
            waiting, Love, to welcome thine.

Thus I can read thy name throughout,
    And, now her task is done,
Can see that even that faded Past
    Was thine, beloved one,
And so rejoice my Life may be all consecrated,
            dear, to thee.

___________________

 
TRUE OR FALSE.

SO you think you love me, do you?
    Well, it may be so;
But there are many ways of loving
    I have learnt to know.
Many ways, and but one true way,
    Which is very rare;
And the counterfeits look brightest,
    Though they will not wear.

Yet they ring, almost, quite truly,
    Last (with care) for long;
But in time must break, may shiver
    At a touch of wrong:
Having seen what looked most real
    Crumble into dust;
Now I chose that test and trial
    Should precede my trust.

I have seen a love demanding
    Time and hope and tears,
Chaining all the past, exacting
    Bonds from future years;
Mind and heart, and joy and sorrow,
    Claiming as its fee:
That was Love of Self, and never,
    Never Love of me!

I have seen a love forgetting
    All above, beyond,
Linking every dream and fancy
    In a sweeter bond;
Counting every hour worthless,
    Which was cold or free:—
That, perhaps, was—Love of Pleasure,
    But not Love of me!

I have seen a love whose patience
    Never turned aside,
Full of tender, fond devices;
    Constant, even when tried;
Smallest boons were held as victories,
    Drops that swelled the sea:
That I think was—Love of Power,
    But not Love of me!

I have seen a love disdaining
    Ease and pride and fame,
Burning even its own white pinions
    Just to feed its flame;
Reigning thus, supreme, triumphant,
    By the soul's decree;
That was—Love of Love, I fancy,
    But not Love of me!

I have heard—or dreamt, it may be—
    What Love is when true;
How to test and how to try it,
    Is the gift of few:
These few say (or did I dream it?)
    That true Love abides
In these very things, but always
    Has a soul besides.

Lives among the false loves, knowing
    Just their peace and strife:
Bears the self-same look, but always
    Has an inner life.
Only a true heart can find it,
    True as it is true,
Only eyes as clear and tender
    Look it through and through.

If it dies, it will not perish
    By Time's slow decay,
True Love only grows (they tell me)
    Stronger, day by day:
Pain—has been its friend and comrade;
    Fate—it can defy;
Only by its own sword, sometimes
    Love can choose to die.

And its grave shall be more noble
    And more sacred still,
Than a throne, where one less worthy
    Reigns and rules at will.
Tell me then, do you dare offer
    This true Love to me? . . .
Neither you nor I can answer;
    We will—wait and see!

___________________

 
GOLDEN WORDS.

SOME words are played on golden strings,
    Which I so highly rate,
I cannot bear for meaner things
    Their sound to desecrate.

For every day they are not meet,
    Or for a careless tone;
They are for rarest, and most sweet,
    And noblest use alone.

One word is POET: which is flung
    So carelessly away,
When such as you and I have sung,
    We hear it, day by day.

Men pay it for a tender phrase
    Set in a cadenced rhyme:
I keep it as a crown of praise
    To crown the kings of time.

And LOVE: the slightest feelings, stirred
    By trivial fancy, seek
Expression in that golden word
    They tarnish while they speak.

Nay, let the heart's slow, rare decree,
That word in reverence keep
Silence herself should only be
More sacred and more deep.

FOR EVER: men have grown at length
    To use that word, to raise
Some feeble protest into strength,
    Or turn some tender phrase.

It should be said in awe and fear
    By true heart and strong will,
And burn more brightly year by year,
    A starry witness still.

HONOUR: all trifling hearts are fond
    Of that divine appeal,
And men, upon the slightest bond,
    Set it as slighter seal.

That word should meet a noble foe
    Upon a noble field,
And echo—like a deadly blow
    Turned by a silver shield.

Trust me, the worth of words is such
    They guard all noble things,
And that this rash irreverent touch
    Has jarred some golden strings.

For what the lips have lightly said
    The heart will lightly hold,
And things on which we daily tread
    Are lightly bought and sold.

The sun of every day will bleach
    The costliest purple hue.
And so our common daily speech
    Discolours what was true.

But as you keep some thoughts apart
    In sacred honoured care,
If in the silence of your heart,
    Their utterance too be rare;

Then, while a thousand words repeat
    Unmeaning clamours all,
Melodious golden echoes sweet
    Shall answer when you call.

___________________


 

END OF PART 1

 



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