I THINK if thou couldst know,
Oh soul that will complain,
Our burden and our pain;
How just our
We seek for
now in vain,—
I think thou wouldst rejoice, and not complain.
I think if
thou couldst see,
With thy dim mortal sight,
dark to thee,
Are shadows hiding light;
efforts crossed and vexed,
purpose all perplexed,—
couldst see them right,
I think that they would seem all clear, and
And yet thou
canst not know,
And yet thou canst not see;
sight are slow
In poor humanity.
couldst trust, poor soul,
In Him who
rules the whole,
find peace and rest:
Wisdom and sight are well, but Trust is best.
THE WARRIOR TO HIS DEAD BRIDE.
in the fight my arm was strong,
And forced my foes to yield,
If conquering and unhurt I came
Back from the battle-field—
It is because thy prayers have been
My safeguard and my shield.
My comrades smile to see my arm
Spare or protect a foe,
They think thy gentle pleading voice
Was silenced long ago;
But pity and compassion, love,
Were taught me first by woe.
Thy heart, my own, still beats in Heaven
With the same love divine
That made thee stoop to such a soul,
So hard, so stern, as mine—
My eyes have learnt to weep, beloved,
Since last they looked on thine.
I hear thee murmur words of peace
Through the dim midnight air,
And a calm falls from the angel stars
And soothes my great despair—
The Heavens themselves look brighter, love,
Since thy sweet soul is there.
And if my heart is once more calm,
My step is once more free,
It is because each hour I feel
Thou prayest still for me;
Because no fate or change can come
Between my soul and thee.
It is because my heart is stilled.
Not broken by despair,
Because I see the grave is bright,
And death itself is fair—
I dread no more the wrath of Heaven—
I have an angel there!
I tried to write you such a letter
As would tell you all my heart to-day.
Written Love is poor; one word were better;
Easier, too, a thousand times, to say.
I can tell you all: fears, doubts unheeding,
While I can be near you, hold your hand,
Looking right into your eyes, and reading
Reassurance that you understand.
Yet I wrote it through, then lingered,
Of its reaching you,—what hour, what day;
Till I felt my heart and courage sinking
With a strange, new, wondering dismay.
"Will my letter fall," I wondered sadly,
"On her mood like some discordant tone,
Or be welcomed tenderly and gladly?
Will she be with others, or alone?
"It may find her too absorbed to read it,
Save with hurried glance and careless air:
Sad and weary, she may scarcely heed it;
Gay and happy, she may hardly care.
"Shall I—dare I—risk the chances?" slowly
Something,—was it shyness, love, or pride?—
Chilled my heart, and checked my courage
So I laid it wistfully aside.
Then I leant against the casement, turning
Tearful eyes towards the far-off west,
Where the golden evening light was burning,
Till my heart throbbed back again to rest.
And I thought: "Love's soul is not in fetters,
Neither space nor time keep souls apart;
Since I cannot—dare not—send my letters,
Through the silence I will send my heart.
"If, perhaps now, while my tears are falling,
She is dreaming quietly alone,
She will hear my Love's far echo calling,
Feel my spirit drawing near her own.
"She will hear, while twilight shades enfold
All the gathered Love she knows so well—
Deepest Love my words have ever told her,
Deeper still—all I could never tell.
"Wondering at the strange mysterious power
That has touched her heart, then she will
'Some one whom I love, this very hour,
Thinks of me, and loves me, far away.'
"If, as well may be, to-night has found her
Full of other thoughts, with others by,
Through the words and claims that gather
She will hear just one, half-smothered sigh;
"Or will marvel why, without her seeking,
Suddenly the thought of me recurs;
Or, while listening to another speaking,
Fancy that my hand is holding hers."
So I dreamed, and watched the stars' far
Glimmering on the azure darkness, start,—
While the star of trust rose bright and tender,
Through the twilight shadows of my heart.
she come to me, little Effie,
Will she come in my arms to rest,
And nestle her head on my shoulder,
While the sun goes down in the west?
"I and Effie will sit together,
All alone, in this great arm-chair:—
Is it silly to mind it, darling,
When Life is so hard to bear?
"No one comforts me like my Effie,
Just I think that she does not try,—
Only looks with a wistful wonder
Why grown people should ever cry;
"While her little soft arms close tighter
Round my neck in their clinging hold:—
Well, I must not cry on your hair, dear,
For my tears might tarnish the gold.
"I am tired of trying to read, dear;
It is worse to talk and seem gay:
There are some kinds of sorrow, Effie,
It is useless to thrust away.
"Ah, advice may be wise, my darling,
But one always knows it before;
And the reasoning down one's sorrow
Seems to make one suffer the more.
"But my Effie won't reason, will she?
Or endeavour to understand;
Only holds up her mouth to kiss me,
As she strokes my face with her hand.
"If you break your plaything yourself, dear,
Don't you cry for it all the same?
I don't think it is such a comfort,
One has only oneself to blame.
"People say things cannot be helped, dear,
But then that is the reason why;
For if things could be helped or altered,
One would never sit down to cry:
"They say, too, that tears are quite useless
To undo, amend, or restore,—
When I think how useless, my Effie,
Then my tears only fall the more.
"All to-day I struggled against it;
But that does not make sorrow cease;
And now, dear, it is such a comfort
To be able to cry in peace.
"Though wise people would call that folly,
And remonstrate with grave surprise;
We won't mind what they say, my Effie;—
We never professed to be wise.
"But my comforter knows a lesson
Wiser, truer than all the rest:—
That to help and to heal a sorrow,
Love and silence are always best.
"Well, who is my comforter—tell me?
Effie smiles, but she will not speak;
Or look up through the long curled lashes
That are shading her rosy cheek.
"Is she thinking of talking fishes,
The blue bird, or magical tree?
Perhaps I am thinking, my darling,
Of something that never can be.
"You long—don't you, dear?—for the Genii,
Who were slaves of lamps and of rings;
And I—I am sometimes afraid, dear,—
I want as impossible things.
"But hark! there is Nurse calling Effie!
It is bedtime, so run away;
And I must go back, or the others
Will be wondering why I stay.
"So good-night to my darling Effie;
Keep happy, sweetheart, and grow wise:—
There's one kiss for her golden tresses,
And two for her sleepy eyes."
are more things in Heaven and Earth,
Can dream of, or than nature understands;
We learn not through our poor philosophy
What hidden chords are touched by unseen
The present hour repeats upon its strings
Echoes of some vague dream we have forgot;
Dim voices whisper half-remembered things,
And when we pause to listen,—answer not.
Forebodings come: we know not how, or
Shadowing a nameless fear upon the soul,
And stir within our hearts a subtler sense,
Than light may read, or wisdom may control.
And who can tell what secret links of thought
Bind heart to heart? Unspoken things are
As if within our deepest selves was brought
The soul, perhaps, of some unuttered word.
But, though a veil of shadow hangs between
That hidden life, and what we see and hear,
Let us revere the power of the Unseen,
And know a world of mystery is near.
A REMEMBRANCE OF AUTUMN.
stirs the sunny silence,—
Save the drowsy humming of the bees
Round the rich, ripe peaches on the
And the south wind sighing in the trees,
And the dead leaves rustling as they
While the swallows, one by one, are
All impatient to be on the wing,
And to wander from us, seeking
Their belovèd Spring!
Cloudless rise the azure heavens!
Only vaporous wreaths of snowy white
Nestle in the grey hill's rugged
And the golden woods are bathed in light,
Dying, if they must, with kingly
While the swallows in the blue air wheeling,
Circle now an eager fluttering band,
Ready to depart and leave us
For a brighter land!
But a voice is sounding sadly,
Telling of a glory that has been;
Of a day that faded all too fast—
See afar through the blue air serene,
Where the swallows wing their way at
And our hearts perchance, as sadly wander-
Vainly seeking for a long-lost day,
While we watch the far-off swallows,
Flee with them away!
THREE EVENINGS IN A LIFE.
YES, it looked dark and dreary,
That long and narrow street:
Only the sound of the rain,
And the tramp of passing feet,
The duller glow of the fire,
And gathering mists of night
To mark how slow and weary
The long day's cheerless flight!
Watching the sullen fire,
Hearing the dismal rain,
Drop after drop, run down
On the darkening window-pane:
Chill was the heart of Alice,
Chill as that winter day,—
For the star of her life had risen
Only to fade away.
The voice that had been so strong
To bid the snare depart,
The true and earnest will,
The calm and steadfast heart,
Were now weighed down by sorrow,
Were quivering now with pain;
The clear path now seemed clouded,
And all her grief in vain.
Duty, Right, Truth, who promised
To help and save their own,
Seemed spreading wide their pinions
To leave her there alone.
So, turning from the Present
To well-known days of yore,
She called on them to strengthen
And guard her soul once more.
She thought how in her girlhood
Her life was given away,
The solemn promise spoken
She kept so well to-day;
How to her brother Herbert
She had been help and guide,
And how his artist nature
On her calm strength relied.
How through life's fret and turmoil
The passion and fire of art
In him was soothed and quickened
By her true sister heart;
How future hopes had always
Been for his sake alone;
And now,—what strange new feeling
Possessed her as its own?
Her home—each flower that breathed there,
The wind's sigh, soft and low,
Each trembling spray of ivy,
The river's murmuring flow,
The shadow of the forest,
Sunset, or twilight dim—
Dear as they were, were dearer
By leaving them for him.
And each year as it found her
In the dull, feverish town,
Saw self still more forgotten,
And selfish care kept down
By the calm joy of evening
That brought him to her side,
To warn him with wise counsel,
Or praise with tender pride.
Her heart, her life, her future,
Her genius, only meant
Another thing to give him,
And be therewith content.
To-day, what words had stirred her,
Her soul could not forget?
What dream had filled her spirit
With strange and wild regret?
To leave him for another,—
Could it indeed be so?
Could it have cost such anguish
To bid this vision go?
Was this her faith? Was Herbert
The second in her heart?
Did it need all this struggle
To bid a dream depart?
And yet, within her spirit
A far-off land was seen,
A home, which might have held her,
A love, which might have been.
And Life—not the mere being
Of daily ebb and flow,
But Life itself had claimed her,
And she had let it go!
Within her heart there echoed
Again the well-known tone
That promised this bright future,
And asked her for her own:
Then words of sorrow, broken
By half-reproachful pain;
And then a farewell spoken
In words of cold disdain.
Where now was the stern purpose
That nerved her soul so long?
Whence came the words she uttered,
So hard, so cold, so strong?
What right had she to banish
A hope that God had given?
Why must she choose earth's portion,
And turn aside from Heaven?
To-day! Was it this morning?
If this long, fearful strife
Was but the work of hours,
What would be years of life?
Why did a cruel Heaven
For such great suffering call?
And why—Oh, still more cruel!—
Must her own words do all?
Did she repent? Oh Sorrow!
Why do we linger still
To take thy loving message,
And do thy gentle will?
See, her tears fall more slowly,
The passionate murmurs cease,
And back upon her spirit
Flow strength, and love, and peace.
The fire burns more brightly,
The rain has passed away,
Herbert will see no shadow
Upon his home to-day;
Only that Alice greets him
With doubly tender care,
Kissing a fonder blessing
Down on his golden hair.
THE studio is deserted,
Palette and brush laid by,
The sketch rests on the easel,
The paint is scarcely dry;
And Silence—who seems always
Within her depths to bear
The next sound that will utter—
Now holds a dumb despair.
So Alice feels it: listening
With breathless, stony fear,
Waiting the dreadful summons
Each minute brings more near:
When the young life, now ebbing,
Shall fail, and pass away
Into that mighty shadow
Who shrouds the house to-day.
But why—when the sick chamber
Is on the upper floor—
Why dares not Alice enter
Within the close—shut door?
If he—her all—her Brother,
Lies dying in that gloom,
What strange mysterious power
Has sent her from the room?
It is not one week's anguish
That can have changed her so;
Joy has not died here lately,
Struck down by one quick blow;
But cruel months have needed
Their long relentless chain,
To teach that shrinking manner
Of helpless, hopeless pain.
The struggle was scarce over
Last Christmas Eve had brought:
The fibres still were quivering
Of the one wounded thought,
When Herbert—who, unconscious,
Had guessed no inward strife—
Bade her, in pride and pleasure,
Welcome his fair young wife.
Bade her rejoice, and smiling,
Although his eyes were dim,
Thanked God he thus could pay her
The care she gave to him.
This fresh bright life would bring her
A new and joyous fate—
Oh, Alice, check the murmur
That cries, "Too late! too late!"
Too late! Could she have known it
A few short weeks before,
That his life was completed,
And needing hers no more,
She might—Oh sad repining!
What "might have been," forget;
"It was not," should suffice us
To stifle vain regret.
He needed her no longer,
Each day it grew more plain;
First with a startled wonder,
Then with a wondering pain.
Love: why, his wife best gave it;
Comfort: durst Alice speak,
Or counsel, when resentment
Flushed on the young wife's cheek?
No more long talks by firelight
Of childish times long past,
And dreams of future greatness
Which he must reach at last;
Dreams, where her purer instinct
With truth unerring told,
Where was the worthless gilding,
And where refined gold.
Slowly, but surely ever,
Dora's poor jealous pride,
Which she called love for Herbert,
Drove Alice from his side;
And, spite of nervous effort
To share their altered life,
She felt a check to Herbert,
A burden to his wife.
This was the least; for Alice
Feared, dreaded, knew at length
How much his nature owed her
Of truth, and power, and strength;
And watched the daily failing
Of all his nobler part:
Low aims, weak purpose, telling
In lower, weaker art.
And now, when he is dying,
The last words she could hear
Must not be hers, but given
The bride of one short year.
The last care is another's;
The last prayer must not be
The one they learnt together
Beside their mother's knee.
Summoned at last: she kisses
The clay-cold stiffening hand;
And, reading pleading efforts
To make her understand,
Answers, with solemn promise,
In clear but trembling tone,
To Dora's life henceforward
She will devote her own.
Now all is over. Alice
Dares not remain to weep,
But soothes the frightened Dora
Into a sobbing sleep.
The poor weak child will need her: . . .
Oh, who can dare complain,
When God sends a new Duty
To comfort each new Pain!
THE House is all deserted,
In the dim evening gloom,
Only one figure passes
Slowly from room to room;
And, pausing at each doorway,
Seems gathering up again
Within her heart the relics
Of bygone joy and pain.
There is an earnest longing
In those who onward gaze,
Looking with weary patience
Towards the coming days.
There is a deeper longing,
More sad, more strong, more keen:
Those know it who look backward,
And yearn for what has been.
At every hearth she pauses,
Touches each well-known chair;
Gazes from every window,
Lingers on every stair.
What have these months brought Alice
Now one more year is past?
This Christmas Eve shall tell us,
The third one and the last.
The wilful, wayward Dora,
In those first weeks of grief,
Could seek and find in Alice
Strength, soothing, and relief;
And Alice—last sad comfort
True woman-heart can take—
Had something still to suffer
And bear for Herbert's sake.
Spring, with her western breezes,
From Indian islands bore
To Alice news that Leonard
Would seek his home once more.
What was it—joy, or sorrow?
What were they—hopes, or fears?
That flushed her cheeks with crimson,
And filled her eyes with tears?
He came. And who so kindly
Could ask and hear her tell
Herbert's last hours; for Leonard
Had known and loved him well.
Daily he came; and Alice,
Poor weary heart, at length,
Weighed down by others' weakness,
Could lean upon his strength.
Yet not the voice of Leonard
Could her true care beguile,
That turned to watch, rejoicing
Dora's reviving smile.
So, from that little household
The worst gloom passed away,
The one bright hour of evening
Lit up the livelong day.
Days passed. The golden summer
In sudden heat bore down
Its blue, bright, glowing sweetness
Upon the scorching town.
And sighs and sounds of country
Came in the warm soft tune
Sung by the honeyed breezes
Borne on the wings of June.
One twilight hour, but earlier
Than usual, Alice thought
She knew the fresh sweet fragrance
Of flowers that Leonard brought;
Through opened doors and windows
It stole up through the gloom,
And with appealing sweetness
Drew Alice from her room.
Yes, he was there; and pausing
Just near the opened door,
To check her heart's quick beating,
She heard—and paused still more—
His low voice—Dora's answers—
His pleading—Yes, she knew
The tone—the words—the accents:
She once had heard them too.
"Would Alice blame her?" Leonard's
Low, tender answer came;—
"Alice was far too noble
To think or dream of blame."
"And was he sure he loved her?"
"Yes, with the one love given
Once in a lifetime only,
With one soul and one heaven!"
Then came a plaintive murmur,—
"Dora had once been told
That he and Alice"—"Dearest,
Alice is far too cold
To love; and I, my Dora,
If once I fancied so,
It was a brief delusion,
And over,—long ago."
Between the Past and Present,
On that bleak moment's height,
She stood. As some lost traveller
By a quick flash of light
Seeing a gulf before him,
With dizzy, sick despair,
Reels backward, but to find it
A deeper chasm there.
The twilight grew still darker,
The fragrant flowers more sweet,
The stars shone out in heaven,
The lamps gleamed down the street;
And hours passed in dreaming
Over their new-found fate,
Ere they could think of wondering
Why Alice was so late.
She came, and calmly listened;
In vain they strove to trace
If Herbert's memory shadowed
In grief upon her face.
No blame, no wonder showed there,
No feeling could be told;
Her voice was not less steady,
Her manner not more cold.
They could not hear the anguish
That broke in words of pain
Through the calm summer midnight,—
"My Herbert—mine again!"
Yes, they have once been parted,
But this day shall restore
The long lost one: she claims him:
"My Herbert—mine once more!"
Now Christmas Eve returning,
Saw Alice stand beside
The altar, greeting Dora,
Again a smiling bride;
And now the gloomy evening
Sees Alice pale and worn,
Leaving the house for ever,
To wander out forlorn.
Forlorn—nay, not so. Anguish
Shall do its work at length;
Her soul, passed through the fire,
Shall gain still purer strength.
Somewhere there waits for Alice
An earnest noble part;
And, meanwhile God is with her,—
God, and her own true heart!
wind went forth o'er land and sea
Loud and free;
Foaming waves leapt up to meet it,
Stately pines bowed down to greet it;
While the wailing sea
And the forest's murmured sigh
Joined the cry
Of the wind that swept o'er land and sea.
The wind that blew upon the sea
Fierce and free,
Cast the bark upon the shore,
Whence it sailed the night before
Full of hope and glee;
And the cry of pain and death
Was but a breath,
Through the wind that roared upon the sea.
The wind was whispering on the lea
But the white rose felt it pass,
And the fragile stalks of grass
Shook with fear to see
All her trembling petals shed,
As it fled,
So gently by,—the wind upon the lea.
Blow, thou wind, upon the sea
Fierce and free,
And a gentler message send,
Where frail flowers and grasses bend,
On the sunny lea;
For thy bidding still is one,
Be it done
In tenderness or wrath, on land or sea!
King's three daughters stood on the
The hanging terrace, so broad and green,
Which keeps the sea from the marble Palace,
There was Princess May, and Princess Alice,
And the youngest Princess, Gwendoline.
Sighed Princess May, "Will it last much longer,
Time throbs so slow and my Heart so quick;
And oh, how long is the day in dying;
Weary am I of waiting and sighing,
For Hope deferred makes the spirit sick."
But Princess Gwendoline smiled and kissed
"Am I not sadder than you, my Sister?
Expecting joy is a happy pain.
The Future's fathomless mine of treasures,
All countless hordes of possible pleasures,
Might bring their store to my feet in vain."
Sighed Princess Alice as night grew nearer:—
"So soon, so soon, is the daylight fled!
And oh, how fast comes the dark to-morrow,
Who hides, perhaps in her veil of sorrow,
The terrible hour I wait and dread!"
But Princess Gwendoline kissed her, sighing,—
"It is only Life that can fear dying;
Possible loss means possible gain.
Those who still dread, are not quite forsaken;
But not to fear, because all is taken,
Is the loneliest depth of human pain."
the grey mists of early dawn
Were lingering round the hill,
And the dew was still upon the flowers,
And the earth lay calm and still,
A wingèd Spirit came to me
Noble, and radiant, and free.
Folding his blue and shining wings,
He laid his hand on mine.
I know not if I felt, or heard
The mystic word divine,
Which woke the trembling air to sighs,
And shone from out his starry eyes.
The word he spoke, within my heart
Stirred life unknown before,
And cast a spell upon my soul
To chain it evermore;
Making the cold dull earth look bright,
And skies flame out in sapphire light.
When noon ruled from the heavens, and man
Through busy day toiled on,
My Spirit drooped his shining wings;
His radiant smile was gone;
His voice had ceased, his grace had flown,
His hand grew cold within my own.
Bitter, oh bitter tears, I wept,
Yet still I held his hand,
Hoping with vague unreasoning hope:
I would not understand
That this pale Spirit never more
Could be what he had been before.
Could it be so? My heart stood still.
Yet he was by my side.
I strove; but my despair was vain;
Vain, too, was love and pride.
Could he have changed to me so soon?
My day was only at its noon.
Now stars are rising one by one,
Through the dim evening air;
Near me a household Spirit waits,
With tender loving care;
He speaks and smiles, but never sings,
Long since he lost his shining wings.
With thankful, true content, I know
This is the better way;
Is not a faithful spirit mine—
Mine still—at close of day? . . .
Yet will my foolish heart repine
For that bright morning dream of mine.
is our own: we hold our pleasures
Just a little while, ere they are fled:
One by one life robs us of our treasures;
Nothing is our own except our Dead.
They are ours, and hold in faithful keeping
Safe for ever, all they took away.
Cruel life can never stir that sleeping,
Cruel time can never seize that prey.
Justice pales; truth fades; stars fall from
Human are the great whom we revere:
No true crown of honour can be given,
Till we place it on a funeral bier.
How the Children leave us: and no traces
Linger of that smiling angel band;
Gone, for ever gone; and in their places,
Weary men and anxious women stand.
Yet we have some little ones, still ours;
They have kept the baby smile we know,
Which we kissed one day and hid with flowers,
On their dead white faces, long ago.
When our Joy is lost—and life will take it—
Then no memory of the past remains;
Save with some strange, cruel sting, to make it
Bitterness beyond all present pains.
Death, more tender-hearted, leaves to sorrow
Still the radiant shadow, fond regret:
We shall find, in some far, bright to-morrow,
Joy that he has taken, living yet.
Is Love ours, and do we dream we know it,
Bound with all our heart-strings, all our own?
Any cold and cruel dawn may show it,
Shattered, desecrated, overthrown.
Only the dead Hearts forsake us never;
Death's last kiss has been the mystic sign
Consecrating Love our own for ever,
Crowning it eternal and divine.
So when Fate would fain besiege our city,
Dim our gold, or make our flowers fall,
Death the Angel, comes in love and pity,
And to save our treasures, claims them all.
A WOMAN'S ANSWER.
WILL not let you say a Woman's part
Must be to give exclusive love alone;
Dearest, although I love you so, my heart
Answers a thousand claims beside your own.
I love—what do I not love? earth and air
Find space within my heart, and myriad
You would not deign to heed, are cherished
And vibrate on its very inmost strings.
I love the summer with her ebb and flow
Of light, and warmth, and music that have
Her tender buds to blossoms . . . and you know
It was in summer that I saw you first.
I love the winter dearly too, . . . but then
I owe it so much; on a winter's day,
Bleak, cold, and stormy, you returned again,
When you had been those weary months
I love the Stars like friends; so many nights
I gazed at them, when you were far from me,
Till I grew blind with tears . . . those far-off
Could watch you, whom I longed in vain
I love the Flowers; happy hours lie
Shut up within their petals close and fast:
You have forgotten, dear: but they and I
Keep every fragment of the golden Past.
I love, too, to be loved; all loving praise
Seems like a crown upon my Life,—to make
It better worth the giving, and to raise
Still nearer to your own the heart you take.
I love all good and noble souls;—I heard
One speak of you but lately, and for days
Only to think of it, my soul was stirred
In tender memory of such generous praise.
I love all those who love you; all who owe
Comfort to you: and I can find regret
Even for those poorer hearts who once could
And once could love you, and can now
Well, is my heart so narrow—I, who spare
Love for all these? Do I not even hold
My favourite books in special tender care,
And prize them as a miser does his gold?
The Poets that you used to read to me
While summer twilights faded in the sky;
But most of all I think Aurora Leigh,
Because—because—do you remember why?
Will you be jealous? Did you guess before
I loved so many things?—Still you the
Dearest, remember that I love you more,
Oh, more a thousand times than all the rest!
THE STORY OF THE FAITHFUL SOUL.
FOUNDED ON AN OLD FRENCH LEGEND.
fettered Spirits linger
In purgatorial pain,
With penal fires effacing
Their last faint earthly stain,
Which Life's imperfect sorrow
Had tried to cleanse in vain.
Yet on each feast of Mary
Their sorrow finds release,
For the Great Archangel Michael
Comes down and bids it cease;
And the name of these brief respites
Is called "Our Lady's Peace."
Yet once—so runs the Legend—
When the Archangel came
And all these holy spirits
Rejoiced at Mary's name;
One voice alone was wailing,
Still wailing on the same.
And though a great Te Deum
The happy echoes woke,
This one discordant wailing
Through the sweet voices broke;
So when St. Michael questioned,
Thus the poor spirit spoke:—
"I am not cold or thankless,
Although I still complain;
I prize our Lady's blessing
Although it comes in vain
To still my bitter anguish,
Or quench my ceaseless pain.
"On earth a heart that loved me,
Still lives and mourns me there,
And the shadow of his anguish
Is more than I can bear;
All the torment that I suffer
Is the thought of his despair.
"The evening of my bridal
Death took my Life away;
Not all Love's passionate pleading
Could gain an hour's delay.
And he I left has suffered
A whole year since that day.
"If I could only see him,—
If I could only go
And speak one word of comfort
And solace,—then, I know
He would endure with patience,
And strive against his woe."
Thus the Archangel answered:—
"Your time of pain is brief,
And soon the peace of Heaven
Will give you full relief;
Yet if his earthly comfort
So much outweighs your grief,
"Then, through a special mercy
I offer you this grace,—
You may seek him who mourns you
And look upon his face,
And speak to him of comfort
For one short minute's space.
"But when that time is ended,
Return here, and remain
A thousand years in torment,
A thousand years in pain:
Thus dearly must you purchase
The comfort he will gain."
The Lime-trees' shade at evening
Is spreading broad and wide;
Beneath their fragrant arches,
Pace slowly, side by side,
In low and tender converse,
A Bridegroom and his Bride.
The night is calm and stilly,
No other sound is there
Except their happy voices:
What is that cold bleak air
That passes through the Lime-trees
And stirs the Bridegroom's hair?
While one low cry of anguish,
Like the last dying wail
Of some dumb, hunted creature,
Is borne upon the gale:—
Why does the Bridegroom shudder
And turn so deathly pale?
Near Purgatory's entrance
The radiant Angels wait;
It was the great St. Michael
Who closed that gloomy gate,
When the poor wandering spirit
Came back to meet her fate.
"Pass on," thus spoke the Angel:
"Heaven's joy is deep and vast;
Pass on, pass on, poor Spirit,
For Heaven is yours at last;
In that one minute's anguish
Your thousand years have passed."
Can you open that ebony Casket?
Look, this is the key: but stay,
Those are only a few old letters
Which I keep,—to burn some day.
Yes, that Locket is quaint and ancient;
But leave it, dear, with the ring,
And give me the little Portrait
Which hangs by a crimson string.
I have never opened that Casket
Since, many long years ago,
It was sent me back in anger
By one whom I used to know.
But I want you to see the Portrait:
I wonder if you can trace
A look of that smiling creature
Left now in my faded face.
It was like me once; but remember
The weary relentless years,
And Life, with its fierce, brief Tempests,
And its long, long rain of tears.
Is it strange to call it my Portrait?
Nay, smile, dear, for well you may,
To think of that radiant Vision
And of what I am to-day.
With restless, yet confident longing
How those blue eyes seem to gaze
Into deep and exhaustless Treasures,
All hid in the coming days.
With that trust which leans on the Future,
And counts on her promised store,
Until she has taught us to tremble
And hope,—but to trust no more.
How that young, light heart would have pitied
Me now—if her dreams had shown
A quiet and weary woman
With all her illusions flown.
Yet I—who shall soon be resting,
And have passed the hardest part,
Can look back with a deeper pity
On that young unconscious heart.
It is strange; but Life's currents drift us
So surely and swiftly on,
That we scarcely notice the changes,
And how many things are gone:
And forget, while to-day absorbs us,
How old mysteries are unsealed;
How the old, old ties are loosened,
And the old, old wounds are healed.
And we say that our Life is fleeting
Like a story that Time has told;
But we fancy that we—we only
Are just what we were of old.
So now and then it is wisdom
To gaze, as I do to-day,
At a half-forgotten relic
Of a Time that is passed away.
The very look of that Portrait,
The Perfume that seems to cling
To those fragile and faded letters,
And the Locket, and the Ring,
If they only stirred in my spirit
Forgotten pleasure and pain,—
Why, memory is often bitter,
And almost always in vain;
But the contrast of bygone hours
Comes to rend a veil away,—
And I marvel to see the stranger
Who is living in me to-day.
THE BRIDE'S DREAM.
stars are gleaming;
The maiden sleeps—
What is she dreaming?
For see—she weeps.
By her side is an Angel
With folded wings;
While the Maiden slumbers
The Angel sings:
He sings of a Bridal,
Of Love, of Pain,
Of a heart to be given,—
And all in vain;
(See, her cheek is flushing,
As if with pain;)
He telleth of sorrow,
Regrets and fears,
And the few vain pleasures
We buy with tears;
And the bitter lesson
We learn from years.
The stars are gleaming
Upon her brow:
What is she dreaming
So calmly now?
By her side is the Angel
With folded wings;
She smiles in her slumber
The while he sings.
He sings of a Bridal,
Of Love divine;
Of a heart to be laid
On a sacred shrine;
Of a crown of glory,
Where seraphs shine;
Of the deep, long rapture
The chosen know
Who forsake for Heaven
Vain joys below,
Who desire no pleasure,
And fear no woe.
The Bells are ringing,
The sun shines clear,
The Choir is singing,
The guests are here.
Before the High Altar
Behold the Bride;
And a mournful Angel
Is by her side.
She smiles, all content
With her chosen lot,—
(Is her last night's dreaming
So soon forgot?)
And oh, may the Angel
Forsake her not!
For on her small hand
There glitters plain
The first sad link
Of a life-long chain;—
And she needs his guiding
Through paths of pain.
THE ANGEL'S BIDDING.
a sound is heard in the Convent;
The Vesper Chant is sung,
The sick have all been tended,
The poor nun's toils are ended
Till the Matin bell has rung.
All is still, save the Clock, that is ticking
So loud in the frosty air,
And the soft snow, falling as gently
As an answer to a prayer.
But an Angel whispers, "Oh, Sister,
You must rise from your bed to pray;
In the silent, deserted chapel,
You must kneel till the dawn of day;
For, far on the desolate moorland,
So dreary, and bleak, and white,
There is one, all alone and helpless,
In peril of death to-night.
"No sound on the moorland to guide him,
No star in the murky air;
And he thinks of his home and his loved ones
With the tenderness of despair;
He has wandered for hours in the snow-drift,
And he strives to stand in vain,
And so lies down to dream of his children
And never to rise again.
Then kneel in the silent chapel
Till the dawn of to-morrow's sun,
And ask of the Lord you worship
For the life of that desolate one;
And the smiling eyes of his children
Will gladden his heart again,
And the grateful tears of God's poor
Will fall on your soul like rain!—
"Yet, leave him alone to perish,
And the grace of your God implore,
With all the strength of your spirit,
For one who needs it more.
Far away, in the gleaming city,
Amid perfume, and song, and light,
A soul that Jesus has ransomed
Is in peril of sin to-night.
"The Tempter is close beside him,
And his danger is all forgot,
And the far-off voices of childhood
Call aloud, but he hears them not;
He sayeth no prayer, and his mother—
He thinks not of her to-day,
And he will not look up to Heaven,
And his Angel is turning away.
"Then pray for a soul in peril,
A soul for which Jesus died;
Ask, by the cross that bore Him,
And by her who stood beside;
And the Angels of God will thank you,
And bend from their thrones of light,
To tell you that Heaven rejoices
At the deed you have done to-night."
the Hours are softly calling,
Bidding Spring arise,
To listen to the raindrops falling
From the cloudy skies,
To listen to Earth's weary voices,
Louder every day,
Bidding her no longer linger
On her charmèd way;
But hasten to her task of beauty
Scarcely yet begun;
By the first bright day of summer
It should all be done.
She has yet to loose the fountain
From its iron chain;
And to make the barren mountain
Green and bright again;
She must clear the snow that lingers
Round the stalks away
And let the snowdrop's trembling whiteness
See the light of day.
She must watch, and warm, and cherish
Every blade of green;
Till the tender grass appearing
From the earth is seen;
She must bring the golden crocus
From her hidden store;
She must spread broad showers of daisies
Each day more and more.
In each hedgerow she must hasten
Cowslips sweet to set;
Primroses in rich profusion,
With bright dewdrops wet,
And under every leaf, in shadow
Hide a Violet!
Every tree within the forest
Must be decked anew
And the tender buds of promise
Should be peeping through,
Folded deep, and almost hidden,
Leaf by leaf beside,
What will make the Summer's glory,
And the Autumn's pride.
She must weave the loveliest carpets,
Chequered sun and shade,
Every wood must have such pathways
Laid in every glade;
She must hang laburnum branches
On each archèd bough;—
And the white and purple lilac
Should be waving now;
She must breathe, and cold winds vanish
At her breath away;
And then load the air around her
With the scent of May!
Listen then, Oh Spring! nor linger
On thy charmèd way;
Have pity on thy prisoned flowers
Wearying for the day.
Listen to the raindrops falling
From the cloudy skies;
Listen to the hours calling
Bidding thee arise.
shadows of the evening hours
Fall from the darkening sky;
Upon the fragrance of the flowers
The dews of evening lie:
Before Thy throne, O Lord of Heaven,
We kneel at close of day;
Look on Thy children from on high,
And hear us while we pray.
The sorrows of Thy Servants, Lord,
Oh, do not Thou despise;
But let the incense of our prayers
Before Thy mercy rise;
The brightness of the coming night
Upon the darkness rolls:
With hopes of future glory chase
The shadows on our souls.
Slowly the rays of daylight fade;
So fade within our heart,
The hopes in earthly love and joy,
That one by one depart:
Slowly the bright stars, one by one,
Within the Heavens shine;—
Give us, Oh, Lord, fresh hopes in Heaven,
And trust in things divine.
Let peace, Oh Lord, Thy peace, Oh God,
Upon our souls descend;
From midnight fears and perils,
Thou Our trembling hearts defend;
Give us a respite from our toil,
Calm and subdue our woes;
Through the long day we suffer, Lord,
Oh, give us now repose!
THE INNER CHAMBER.
the outer Court I was singing,
Was singing the whole day long;
From the inner chamber were ringing
Echoes repeating my song.
And I sang till it grew immortal;
For that very song of mine,
When re-echoed behind the Portal,
Was filled with a life divine.
Was the Chamber a silver round
Of arches, whose magical art
Drew in coils of musical sound,
And cast them back on my heart?
Was there hidden within a lyre
Which, as air breathed over its strings,
Filled my song with a soul of fire,
And sent back my words with wings?
Was some seraph imprisoned there,
Whose voice made my song complete,
And whose lingering, soft despair,
Made the echo so faint and sweet?
Long I trembled and paused—then parted
The curtains with heavy fringe;
And, half fearing, yet eager-hearted
Turned the door on its golden hinge.
Now I sing in the court once more,
I sing and I weep all day,
As I kneel by the close-shut door,
For I know what the echoes say.
Yet I sing not the song of old,
Ere I knew whence the echo came,
Ere I opened the door of gold;
But the music sounds just the same.
Then take warning, and turn away
Do not ask of that hidden thing,
Do not guess what the echoes say,
Or the meaning of what I sing.
TRINKET made like a Heart, dear,
Of red gold, bright and fine,
Was given to me for a keepsake,
Given to me for mine.
And another heart, warm and tender,
As true as a heart could be;
And every throb that stirred it
Was always and all for me.
Sailing over the waters,
Watching the far blue land,
I dropped my golden heart, dear,
Dropped it out of my hand!
It lies in the cold blue waters,
Fathoms and fathoms deep,
The golden heart which I promised,
Promised to prize and keep.
Gazing at Life's bright visions,
So false, and fair, and new,
I forgot the other heart, dear,
Forgot it and lost it too!
I might seek that heart for ever,
I might seek and seek in vain;—
And for one short, careless hour,
I pay with a life of pain.
THE Heart?—Yes I wore it
As sign and as token
Of a love that once gave it,
A vow that was spoken;
But a love, and a vow, and a heart
Can be broken.
The Love?—Life and Death
Are crushed into a day,
So what wonder that Love
Should as soon pass away—
What wonder I saw it
Fade, fail, and decay.
The Vow?—why what was it,
It snapped like a thread:
Who cares for the corpse
When the spirit is fled?
Then I said, "Let the Dead rise
And bury its dead,
"While the true, living future
Grows pure, wise, and strong"
So I cast the gold heart,
I had worn for so long,
In the Lake, and bound on it
A Stone—and a Wrong!
Look, this little golden Heart
Was a true-love shrine
For a tress of hair; I held them,
Heart and tress, as mine,
Like the Love which gave the token
See to-day the Heart is broken!
Broken is the golden heart,
Lost the tress of hair;
Ah, the shrine is empty, vacant,
Desolate, and bare!
So the token should depart,
When Love dies within the heart.
Fast and deep the river floweth,
Floweth to the west;
I will cast the golden trinket
In its cold dark breast,—
Flow, oh river, deep and fast,
Over all the buried past!
within my heart of hearts, dear,
Bound with all its strings,
Two Loves are together reigning
Both are crowned like Kings;
While my life, still uncomplaining,
Rests beneath their wings.
So they both will rule my heart, dear,
Till it cease to beat;
No sway can be deeper, stronger,
Truer, more complete;
Growing, as it lasts the longer,
Sweeter, and more sweet.
One all life and time transfigures,
Piercing through and through
Meaner things with magic splendour,
Old, yet ever new:
This,—so strong and yet so tender,—
Is . . . my Love for you.
Should it fail,—forgive my doubting
In this world of pain,—
Yet my other Love would ever
And I know that I could never
Turn to that in vain.
Though its radiance may be fainter,
Yet its task is wide;
For it lives to comfort sorrows,
Strengthen, calm, and guide,
And from Trust and Honour borrows
All its peace and pride.
Will you blame my dreaming even
If the first were flown?
Ah, I would not live without it,
It is all your own:
And the other—can you doubt it?—
Yours, and yours alone.
A WOMAN'S LAST WORD.
links are broken,
All is past;
This farewell, when spoken,
Is the last.
I have tried and striven
All in vain;
Such bonds must be riven,
Spite of pain,
And never, never, never
So I tell you plainly,
It must be:
I shall try, not vainly,
To be free;
Truer, happier chances
Wait me yet,
While you, through fresh fancies,
And life has nobler uses
All past words retracing,
One by one,
Does not help effacing
What is done.
Let it be. Oh, stronger
Links can break!
Had we dreamed still longer
We could wake,—
Yet let us part in kindness
For Love's sake.
Bitterness and sorrow
Will at last,
In some bright to-morrow,
Heal their past;
But future hearts will never
Be as true
As mine was—is ever,
Dear, for you. . . . .
. .Then must we part, when loving
As we do?
PAST AND PRESENT.
"LINGER," I cried, "oh radiant Time! thy
Has nothing more to give; life is complete:
Let but the perfect Present, hour by hour,
Itself remember and itself repeat.
"And Love,—the future can but mar its
Change can but dim the glory of its youth;
Time has no star more faithful or more tender,
To crown its constancy or light its truth."
But Time passed on in spite of prayer or
Through storm and peril; but that life might
A Peace through strife all other peace exceed-
Fresh joy from sorrow, and new hope from pain.
And since Love lived when all save Love was
And, passed through fire, grew stronger than
Dear, you know why, in double faith relying,
I prize the Past much, but the Present more.
FOR THE FUTURE.
I WONDER did you ever count
The value of one human fate;
Or sum the infinite amount
Of one heart's treasures, and the
Of Life's one venture, and the whole concen-
trate purpose of a soul.
And if you ever paused to think
That all this in your hands I laid
Without a fear:—did you not shrink
From such a burthen? half afraid,
Half wishing that you could divide the risk,
or cast it all aside.
While Love has daily perils, such
As none foresee and none control;
And hearts are strung so that one
Careless or rough, may jar the whole,
You well might feel afraid to reign with abso-
lute power of joy and
You well might fear—if Love's sole
Were to be happy: but true Love
Takes joy as solace, not as aim,
And looks beyond, and looks above;
And sometimes through the bitterest strife
first learns to live her
Earth forges joy into a chain
Till fettered Love forgets its
Its purpose, and its end;—but Pain
Restores its heritage at length,
And bids Love rise again and be eternal,
mighty, pure, and free.
If then your future life should need
A strength my Love can only gain
Through suffering, or my heart be
Only by sorrow, from some stain—
Then you shall give, and I will take, this
Crown of fire for Love's
Sept. 8th, 1860.
Butler & Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and
PER PACEM AD LUCEM.
I DO not ask, O Lord, that
life may be
A pleasant road;
I do not ask that Thou wouldst take from me
Aught of its load;
I do not ask that flowers should always spring
Beneath my feet;
I know too well the poison and the sting
Of things too sweet.
For one thing only, Lord, dear Lord, I plead,
Lead me aright—
Though strength should falter, and though
heart should bleed—
Through Peace to Light.
I do not ask, O Lord, that thou shouldst shed
Full radiance here;
Give but a ray of peace, that I may tread
Without a fear.
I do not ask my cross to understand,
My way to see;
Better in darkness just to feel Thy hand
And follow Thee.
Joy is like restless day; but peace divine
Like quiet night:
Lead me, O Lord,—till perfect Day shall shine,
Through Peace to Light.