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Title: Eidolon, or The Course of a Soul - And Other Poems
Author: Cassels, Walter Richard, 1826-1907
Language: English
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                               EIDOLON,
                           AND OTHER POEMS,

                         BY WALTER R. CASSELS


                                LONDON
                          WILLIAM PICKERING
                                 1850


                                  TO
                            CHARLES PEEL,

                     THIS VOLUME IS INSCRIBED BY
                             HIS FRIEND,

                                      W. R. CASSELS.



                              CONTENTS.


                                                                Page
  Eidolon                                                          1
  Alcesté                                                         93
  Pygmalion                                                      136

                         MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
  Ode to Fancy                                                   159
  What is a sigh?                                                165
  Ione                                                           167
  Reality                                                        169
  Retrospection                                                  172
  The Stormy Petrel                                              181
  To ----                                                        183
  The Mermaid                                                    185
  The Spirit of the Air                                          190
  Why do I love thee?                                            195
  Lady Annabel                                                   196
  To Jenny Lind                                                  201
  The Gold Seekers                                               204
  To Woman                                                       209
  The Poet                                                       212
  Evening                                                        224
  Life                                                           226
  Sorrow                                                         229

                               SONNETS.
  I. Written at Ulleswater                                       233
  II. "There is a spell by which the panting soul"               234
  III. "We wander on through life as pilgrims do"                235
  IV. "Sweet spirits of the Beautiful! where'er ye dwell,"       236
  V. "We are ambitious overmuch in life,"                        237
  VI. "Mountains! and huge hills! wrap your mighty forms"        238
  VII. To Ella                                                   239
  VIII. "I traverse oft in thought the battle-plain"             240



INTRODUCTION TO EIDOLON.


Hazlitt says, one cannot "make an allegory go on all fours," it must
to a certain degree be obscure and shadowy, like the images which the
traveller in the desert sees mirrored on the heavens, wherein he can
trace but a dreamy resemblance to the reality beneath. It therefore
seems to me advisable to give a solution of the "Eidolon," the symbol,
which follows, that the purpose of the poem may at once be evident.

In "Eidolon" I have attempted to symbol the course of a Poet's mind
from a state wherein thought is disordered, barren and uncultivated,
to that which is ordered and swayed by the true Spirit of Poetry, and
holds its perfect creed.

I have therefore laid the scene on a desert island, whence, as from
the isolation of his own mind, he reflects upon the concerns of life.
At first he is a poet only by birthright '_Poeta nascitur_.' He has
the poet's inherent love for the Beautiful, his keen susceptibility of
all that is lovely in outward nature, but these are only the blossoms
which have fallen upon him from the Tree of Life, the fruit is yet
untasted. He has looked at the evil of the world alone, and seeing how
much "the time is out of joint" has become misanthropic, and turns his
back alike on the evil and the good.

Then comes Night, the stillness of the soul, with starlight breaking
through the gloom. He gazes on other worlds, and pictures there the
perfection he sighs for, but cannot find in this. Thus by the
conception of a higher and nobler existence acquiring some impetus
towards its realization.

We then find him lying in the sunshine with the beauties of Nature
around him, whose silent teaching works upon him till the true SPIRIT
OF POETRY speaks _within his soul_, and combats the misanthropy and
weakness of the sensuous MAN, showing him that Action is the end of
Life, not mere indulgence in abstract and visionary rhapsodies.

In the next scene he makes further advances, for the spirit of Poetry
shows him that the beauty for which he has sought amongst the stars of
heaven lies really at his feet; that Earth, too, is a star capable of
equal brightness with those on which he gazes. He is thus brought from
the Ideal to the Real.

The fifth scene emblems the influence of Love on the soul. It is the
nurse of Poetry, and Sorrow is the pang which stimulates the divine
germ into active vitality. Had he been entirely happy, and the course
of his love run smooth, he would have been content to enjoy life in
ease and idleness.

Next we find him looking broadly on life, on its utmost ills as well
as its beauties, but not with the eye of the misanthrope, but of the
Physician who searches out disease that he may find the remedy, and
though the soul still sighs for the serenity and placid delight of
the ideal life, the world of Thought, the glorious principle of Poetry
prevails, and he sacrifices self-ease, feeling that he has a nobler
mission than to dream through life, and that here he must labour ere
he can earn the right to rest.

Thus in the last scene the SPIRIT and the MAN have become one--he is
_truly_ a Poet. His prayer maintains the direct and divine inspiration
of the Poet-Priest.

The action in short is the conflict of two principles within the
breast, the False and the True, ending in the extinction of error
and the triumph of truth.



  EIDOLON,
  OR
  THE COURSE OF A SOUL.


  SCENE. _A desert Island. The sea-shore._

  MAN.

  How lonely were I in this solitude,
  This atom of creation which yon wave,
  White with the fury of a thousand years,
  Might gulf into oblivion, if the soul
  Knew circumscription. Far as eye can reach
  Around me lies a wild and watery waste,
  With every billow sentinel to keep
  Its prisoner fetter'd to his ocean cell--
  What were it but a plunge--an instant strife--
  Then liberty snatch'd from the clutch of Death
  The Tyrant, who with mystic terror grinds
  Men into slaves--But he who thinks _is_ free,
  And fineless as the unresting winds of heaven,
  Now rushing with wild joy around the belt
  Of whirling Saturn, then away through space
  Till he and all his radiant brotherhood
  Dwindle to fire-flies round the brow of Night.
  Thought is the great creator under God,
  Begotten of his breathing, that can raise
  Shapes from the dust and give them Beauty's soul;
  And though my empire be a continent,
  Squared down from leagues to inches, what of that?
  The mind contains a world within its frame
  Which Fancy peoples o'er with radiant forms,
  Replete with life and spirit excellence.
  O! there is glory in the thought that now
  I stand absolved from all the chilling forms
  And falsities of life, that like frail reeds
  Pierce the blind palms of those that lean on them,
  And from the springs of my own being draw
  All strength, and hope, and joyance, all that makes
  Lone meditations sweet, and schools the heart
  For prophecy. In the o'erpeopled world
  We seem like babes that cannot walk alone,
  But fasten on the skirts of other men,
  Their creeds, conclusions, and vain phantasies,
  Too languid, or too weak to poize ourselves;
  But here the crutch is shattered at a blow,
  Dependence made a thing for winds to blast,
  And paraphrase in bitter mockery.

  From this retreat, as from a cloister calm,
  I dream upon the busy haunts of men
  As things that touch me not. An empire riven,
  A monarchy o'erthrown, here seem to me
  Importless as a foam-bell's death. The world
  And all its revolutions are now less
  Within my chronicles, than is the ken
  Of a star's orbit on the fines of space;
  But like a mariner saved from the wreck
  On this calm spot I stand, unscathed, secure
  From the rough throbbings of the sea of strife,
  And woe, and clamour, wherewith this world's life
  Ebbs and declines unto the printless shore
  Of death. O! blessed change, if there were one
  To love me in this solitude, and make
  Life beautiful. My soul is wearied out
  With earth's fierce warfare, and its selfish ease;
  The slights and coldness of the hollow crowds
  That are its arbiters; the changeful face,
  The upstart arrogance of base-born fools,
  Who crown them with their golden dross, and deem
  _That_ the all-potent badge of sovereignty.

  O thou, my heart! hast thou not framed for life
  A golden palace in all solitude,
  Whither the strains of quiet melodies
  Float on the breath of memory, like songs
  From the dim bosom of the evening woods,
  Peopling its chambers with sweet poesy?
  Hast thou not called the sunshine from the morn
  To circle thee with a pure spirit life,
  And with the softness of its tender arms
  Clasp thee in the embrace of heav'nly love?
  Hast thou not heard the music of the stars,
  In the calm stillness of the summer night,
  And read their jewell'd pages o'er and o'er,
  Like the bright inspirations of a bard,
  Till glowing strophes rung within thy soul
  Of glad Orion and clear Pleiades?
  Hast thou not seen the silv'ry moonshine thrill
  Upon the dusky mantle of the night,
  Like radiant glances through a maiden's veil,
  Till shaken thence they fell in a pure shower
  O'er flood and field and bosky wilderness,
  Wreathing earth with the glory of a saint?

  O! thus to dwell far from the stir of life,
  Far from its pleasures and its miseries,
  Far from the panting cry of man's desire,
  That waileth upward in hoarse discontent,
  And here to list but to that liquid voice
  That riseth in the spirit, and whose flow
  Is like a rivulet from Paradise--
  To hear the wanderings of divine thought
  Within the soul, like the low ebb and flow
  Of waters in the blue-deep ocean caves,
  Forming itself a speech and melody
  Sweeter than words unto the aching sense--
  To stand alone with Nature where man's step
  Hath never bowed a grass-blade 'neath its weight,
  Nor hath the sound of his rude utterance
  Broken the pauses of the wild-bird's song;
  And thus in its unpeopled solitude
  To be the spirit of this universe,
  Centering thought and reason in one frame,
  And in the majesty of quenchless soul,
  Rising unto the stature of a man,
  _That_ is to make life glorious and great,
  Dissolving matter in the spiritual,
  As the green pine dissolveth into flame;
  Not on the breath of popular applause
  That is the spectre of all nothingness;
  Not on the fawning of a servile crew,
  Who kiss the hem of fortune's purple robe,
  And lick the dust before prosperity,
  Waiting the cogging of the downward scale,
  To turn from slaves to bravos in the dark;
  Not on the favours of the politic,
  Who in the smile of honour, Persian-like,
  Pamper the pampered from their banquet halls,
  But to his starving cry, when fortune frowns,
  Mutter their falsehoods through the bolted gate;
  But in the brightness of the inner soul,
  The placitude of peace and holy thought,
  The joyous lightness of the spirit's wings,
  Sweeping with equal strokes the azure sky
  Of Present, Past, and wide Futurity;
  In the high tidemarks on the sands of life,
  Where thought hath swept her purifying wave,
  Bearing the treasures of the unsearched deep
  To swell the riches of humanity.
  _That_ is a happiness apart from man
  To aid, to sympathise with, or destroy;
  In its calm solitude alike secure
  From the broad adulation of the weak,
  And the strained condescension of the great,
  Both insults to the mighty soul within,
  That is not prized but for its golden shrine.
  Here there is that which makes the spirit free
  And noble in the measure of its strength,
  Untrammelled by conventionalities
  That make the very light of heaven take worth
  According to the casement it shines through.

  O solitude! thy blessed power hath swept
  All earthly passions from my soul like weeds
  That choke the issues of eternal love.
  What now to me are hatred and revenge?
  Thoughts that if fleeting through the mind would fall
  Like unknown birds upon a foreign shore,
  Strange, wonderful; where no false hearts are nigh
  To poison life with variance and strife.
  O holy Nature! thou art only love
  And peace and universal unity,
  From thy sweet bosom springeth up no seed
  Of bitterness and sorrow, that like thorns
  Cling to the vesture of mortality,
  Piercing the spirit through with cruel woe.
  With thee my soul could dwell for evermore,
  Expanding all good feelings day by day,
  Till, at the last, like roses in full bloom
  The blossoms fall from pure maturity.
  Pride! Here no scale of inches is set up
  For man to strain his littleness against,
  But o'er me hangs the majesty of heaven,
  Bright with the glory of the noontide sun;
  Beneath, the Earth, that whispers "Thou art dust,
  "Gat like a child forth from my fertile womb,
  "And bone of my bone, thus, flesh of my flesh!"
  Thou glorious firmament that like God's love
  Enfoldest all creation utterly,
  Making the pathway of the wheeling spheres
  A splendour, and a triumph, and a joy,
  That on the brightness of thine azure breast
  Settest the constellated stars like gems,
  To flash the glory of thy loveliness
  Through all the fulness of unmeasured space.
  Can madness in its raving cast a thought
  To soar unto thy blessed perfectness,
  Nor stand subdued with reverence and awe
  In contemplation of the Infinite?
  O Earth! thou Mother and true Monitress!
  Can thy frail children close their ears for aye
  'Gainst the deep-hearted warnings of thy voice?
  In the wild whirl of life the tones may die
  Amid the clangour of contending foes,
  But here, as in the stillness of the night,
  Thy solemn teaching falleth on the soul
  To the vibration of the low heart-beat.
  Then what is there to charm me back to life?
  To wrestle with the guilty and the vain,
  And lose identity amid the crowd
  Who struggle onward after base desire.
  This quiet scene doth teach me how to weigh
  Your pleasures and your vanities aright;
  To hold as dross the honour that is flung
  Around man like a winter covering,
  Which the same hand can pluck away again,
  And leave the outcast shivering in the blast.
  There is no honour saving that within,
  Which none, nor man, nor Death itself can snatch,
  But which falls from the spirit in its flight
  Like a prophetic mantle upon Time.

  Pleasure! O World! in thine insanity
  Thou sinkest Soul into a poor buffoon,
  Garbëd in tinsel and false ornament
  To play its antics on the stage of life,
  A thing for fools to laugh at in their mirth.
  Thou sat'st thy lust upon the sapless husks
  That strew the highways of this pilgrimage,
  Closing thine eyes unto their emptiness,
  And out of folly turning sour to sweet.
  Hast thou the joy that nature's converse sheds
  Thro' all the pulses of the quiet soul?
  The gentle calm that like a whispered song
  Steals o'er the sense with sweetest languishment?
  Hast thou the magic of the Beautiful,
  Wreathing about thy spirit evermore,
  In sunshine and in shadow; when the stars
  Gather around the azure dome of heaven,
  And the pale moon glides like a virgin bride
  Humbly behind the footsteps of her love:
  When the sweet morn dawns on the sleeping world
  To bring reality to visions bright;
  And on the curtain of dissolving mist
  Arches the many-tinted sign of heaven?
  Hast thou the minstrelsie of the wild woods,
  Clear-tided strains floating along the sky,
  Swelling, subsiding, like a silvery sea
  Beneath the dulcet breathing of the south?
  Hast thou that essence of all joyousness--
  The glorious independence of the soul--
  That spurneth man's usurpëd tyranny,
  The power of wealth, and hapless circumstance,
  And, sweeping on its own unaided wings,
  Measures the circuit of the boundless sky?
  What is thy wealth, that fadeth in the use,
  And all the pomp and vanity it buys,
  To the rich treasure of undying thought,
  Encreasing evermore, till like a dower
  It benizon humanity for aye?
  All thy poor gold resolveth into dust
  Before the test of such a scene as this:
  Can it charm forth the blossom of a flower
  Ere summer bids it with her gentle smile?
  Can it restore the verdure to the leaf
  When yellow Autumn marks it for her own?
  Or, in the noontide bid the dew-shower rise
  To fill one rosy chalice to the brim?
  Go! gild thee with it, worldling, as thou wilt,
  Yet all thy pains will leave thee but a fool!

  Ay! there is love to beckon me away
  And lead me to a fountain of delight,
  Gliding before me in its purity,
  Like some bright angel guiding souls to heaven.
  O Love! have I not drained thee to the dregs,
  Thy pleasures and thy sorrows equally;
  Clinging unto thee as the Arab doth
  To his low fountain in the wilderness?
  Have I not gazed into thy tender eyes
  And read the secret of thy holiness,
  Cleansing my soul in humbleness and faith,
  To shrine thee in thy fulness evermore?
  Have I not clasped thee in my frenzied arms
  And heard thy heart-beats answer back to mine,
  Fainter and fainter till the deep voice stilled
  In the eternal silence of the grave?
  O be to me henceforth but some sweet dream
  Illumining the sky of Memory:
  A fixëd star of everlasting light
  To pilot me along the sea of life,
  And keep the bearings of the spirit true.
  Visit me in imagination's train,
  The sweetest and the fairest child of Thought,
  Till thro' my being, as thro' columned aisles
  When incense from the altar upward wreaths,
  There float the fragrance of thy breath divine.
  Circle my soul in its far wanderings
  Thro' spirit lands and empyrean heights,
  Where though it sink in wide bewilderment,
  Thou wilt enfold it in thy dewy arms,
  And pillow it to strength and fearlessness!
  Be to me like a heaven beyond all Time,
  Dreamt of, and worshipped in this pilgrimage--
  The habitation of all pure desire,
  Solace of sorrow, and the home of rest,
  Where I may lay me from life's troublous way,
  And feel Eternity rise in my soul!
  No, World! the cords that bound me unto thee
  Are snapt in sunder ne'er to join again,
  Thy voice is waning fainter on mine ear,
  And thine allurements powerless and vain.
  There springeth up within me a new want,
  A perfect yearning for the spiritual,
  That shaketh from its pinions all the cares
  And interests of earth, like cleaving dust
  That clogs its upward winging to the skies.
  Wend onward, as thou wilt in weal or woe,
  Swell the rude triumph of thy battle march,
  Spread thy gay banners broadly to the wind,
  And let thy clarions ring among the spheres;
  Laurel thy heroes and thy favourites,
  And pluck the crowns again from off their brows;
  Worship thy follies, and thine empty gains,
  And barter life for mammon--gold for dross.
  Here let me lie upon the rear of Time,
  Unheeded, unremembered, and alone,
  Like a quick seed dropt by a flying dove,
  That groweth unto blossom and to fruit!


  SCENE. _Night._

  MAN.

  How still are all things now in earth and heaven!
  From the green-tided woods no rippling stir
  Breaks on the shore of silence; the sweet birds
  That sing, like naiads from the crystal deeps,
  Amid the murmurous coverts, now are mute
  As dreams of faded happiness, and life
  Seems calmly slumb'ring in the arms of death.
  The far waves alone are rocking in unrest,
  With moonlight flashing o'er them, but their sound
  Dies in their own wild bosom, like a song
  Murmuring in the spirit of a man.
  Thus is a poet's soul!--around it hangs
  The darkness of this world's reality,
  Its cares and struggles and necessities;
  But in its firmament for ever shines
  The starlight of divine imaginings,
  Shedding upon the waves of restless feeling,
  And aspirations for the undefined,
  The glory of a cloudless hemisphere.

  O Stars! that gaze upon me from on high,
  Like angels from the gates of Paradise,
  That weave your myriads in a golden chain
  To bind creation with the Beautiful,
  As locks are interrun with precious gems
  To deck a queen out for her royalty:
  Hear me, ye bright ones, for a poet's love,
  And let light fall upon my swelling soul,
  To crest each rising thought with purity!
  There was a time--in youth, ere yet the sands
  Of life clogged 'neath satiety, but ran
  Lighter than blithe rills down a mountain's side;
  There was a time, when in my soul a voice
  Rang faintly like a huntsman's horn afar,
  Sounding along a forest; and I arose,
  And listed, as the bounding Antelope
  Starts at the echo of a falling bough.
  Louder it grew, and clearer--"Search for it!"
  What?--It melted from me, but the voice still came.
  Then up I gat, and to the pressing world
  Sped on the wings of passion, striving on
  Thro' pleasure and thro' pain, alike unchecked.
  Then, what were lets to me? Amongst the strong
  I wrestled for ambition's upper seats--
  Clung to the slippery shrouds of policy--
  And in my fury prayed for eagle's wings
  To poize me in the shadow of the sun.
  At wealth I grasped as a poor crippled wretch
  Grasps at the crutch that steadies him along;
  Yet not for it but for the power it brought,
  For, Timon-like, within my heart of hearts
  I cursed the yellow dust I trampled on.
  But by the wayside I sat down and wept
  As a child weeps above some shattered toy.
  Oh Misery! to climb the steep of life
  Led by a phantom without form or truth--
  To find reality still rising up
  To crush hope's fabrics with relentless force.
  All was a fiction, but the voice said "Search!"
  And glory flashed before me like a wisp,
  Dazzling me on to bloodshed, and to strife.

  Upon the field I stood with Victory,
  And Death in all its ghastliness--Around
  The dim watchfires stood like a burning wall
  Betwixt the dead and living. On that night
  Ye saw me, ye pure ministers of heaven,--
  Shone on my anguish and my bitter tears.
  Then, when the mangled forms of fellow-men,
  With hideous passion stiff upon their lips,
  Blanch'd 'neath the twilight of your glimmering!
  Oh! there lay one beside me--a mere youth--
  Whose dying hands had pressed unto his lips
  A long fair tress, through which his dying sigh
  Crept, as in happier days perchance did love's.
  Witness, ye stars, of my abasement then,
  Judged and condemned by that poor lover's pledge,
  Lying there like a messenger of heaven,
  Breathing of peace and love, mid deadly hate.
  Glory! thou mirage on this desert life,
  Charming the weary on to water springs
  That shrivel up to barrenness ere reach'd!
  Thou shadow of a shadow that departs
  As the eye scans its bodiless outlines!
  Thou golden-imaged Ruin and Despair!
  When this earth cracks, like a poor blasted rock,
  Before the burning of Almighty wrath,
  Thy pallid spectre shall rise up to judge
  The wretched victims that did trust in thee!

  "O Heaven!" I said, "lead me to love and peace;
  Love, that makes all things calm and beautiful,
  And like the sun, e'en in its setting, flings
  A glory o'er the cloudy peaks of Time.
  Peace--that doth hush the throbbing voice of life,
  Till through the stillness of the Poet's soul,
  The echoes of Seraphic harmonies
  Float like a spirit through the blue eterne."
  I said--"I will sit neath the ancient woods,
  And list unto the voices of the winds
  Coming from far o'er spirit lands, and full
  With stolen snatches of their utterance."
  I said--"I will lay bare my soul unto the sun,
  And let its glory rest there till it charm
  Forth from its womb, as flowers from the cold ground,
  All lovely thoughts and high imaginings
  That shed sweet perfume o'er the waste of life.
  And when the sickle of autumnal time
  Gathereth in the harvest of ripe thought,
  Nourish and strengthen long futurity."

  Then as an eagle fleeth to his crag
  High in the stillness of the dim cloudland,
  Fled I from man into the trackless woods,
  To sate my soul with quietude and song.
  Then, too, ye saw me, ye pure orbs of heaven,
  And sent your blessed radiance to my heart
  In the still twilight of my calm content!
  Then came an answer to the unseen voice--
  "O holy calmness of the inner soul!
  Treasure of treasures! sweetness of all sense!
  Athwart the smoothness of whose liquid tide
  Floateth the spirit of eternal love,
  Tracing a pathway to the All-Divine!
  Thine is the perfectness of earthly bliss,
  The brimming of life's chalice o'er with peace,
  Till thro' all thought and feeling, the pure draught
  Sheddeth its gladness and serenity.
  Thine is a joyance passing utterance,
  A deep delight, that like the songs of heaven,
  Swell through its fulness, but are mute without.
  Thou art the goal of most sublime desire,
  The haven that all longing seeketh for,
  Where, shaded from the storms and blasts of life,
  The bark glides gently down the stream of Time."

  How cloudless is this azure firmament!
  Brighter than all the dreams of sinless youth!
  Deeper than the deep heart of woman's love!
  Now as I gaze upon each shining star,
  What visions steal upon me with its rays,
  Of that which makes its glorious excellence!
  Can there be revelation of high truths
  But through the channels of weak sense alone,
  Thus like a fountain filt'ring thro' the clay.
  Or doth the soul hold converse spiritual
  With powers unseen that fill the universe,
  Receiving, as by intuition, things
  That man attains not by intelligence?
  Is not the spirit perfect in itself,
  Unmingled with the base alloy of earth
  That prisons it within this narrow sphere?
  Hath it not apprehension natural,
  Attributive as immortality,
  Unshackled by an organ that will die
  Beneath the friction of a few short years?
  O there is blindness on us in this life,
  That seeth not the things which lie around,
  E'en in the circuit of our littleness!
  But death will loose the scales from off our eyes,
  And smite our fleshly dwelling place in twain;
  Freeing the spirit, till with joyous wings
  It cleave the limits of immensity.
  Yet _now_ the soul will shake its fetters off,
  And yearn unto the freedom of the skies,
  Like a poor bird whose life is liberty.

  Yon star, methinks, must be a glorious world,
  Where Nature hath a spiritual life
  And bloometh on in Spring perpetual,
  Unsatiating in its loveliness.
  Verdure of herb and leafy plenitude
  Spread o'er it like a vesture, and the glow
  Of sunlit waters smiling from afar,
  Half as in fancy, half reality.
  The skies above it glassy and serene
  As the reflection of its own repose,
  And every new alternation of the light
  Shedding new beauties on the scene below.
  Thus far in fashion, kin to Earth as Time
  Beareth the impress of Eternity,
  But differing henceforth as the gentle dove
  Doth from the vulture on its carrion:
  The dwellers on this paradisal sphere
  Methinks, must be of glorious lineament,
  Clad with the brightness of eternal youth,
  And buoyant with internal blessedness.
  Spirits that shining with untarnished light,
  Radiate, and make matter luminous,
  Filling the eyes with sweet felicity,
  And love, and peace, and all emotions pure.
  No sorrow there to make the vision dim,
  And wash the mellow ripeness from the cheek;
  No guilty deed to brand the heart with shame,
  And write its direful sentence on the brow;
  No rankling venom struggling through the veins,
  And blasting all the kindliness within,
  Till like a torrent bursting o'er restraint,
  It spread its desolation on mankind;
  But a pure regnant holiness and love,
  Directing impulse with most queenly sway
  To ends of tenderness and charity;
  A nature purified by fellowship
  With angels and bright ministers of Heaven,
  That wander thither from their homes above
  On missions of benignity and grace.
  And in this pleasaunce, as by holy need,
  There reigneth deep communion of soul,
  That frameth as it were one atmosphere
  Of joy, and hope, and blessedness for all;
  No selfish pleasures fluttering before
  To woo satanic emulation forth,
  But all combining for one common weal,
  Moved still by sympathetic influence.

  How passing beautiful must they not be,
  Thus dower'd with Virtue's highest attributes,
  That from the spiritual springeth up
  A living fount of light and loveliness.
  Soul is the life of Beauty, as the sun
  Is of the universe it luminates.
  O what were matter, fashioned ne'er so fair,
  But for the beaming of that quenchless light
  That plays around it, like the radiance
  Of heaven's own glory stamped upon its work?
  What were the charm of the soft arching brow
  White as the snow-flake 'neath its golden braid?
  What were the dimpled cheek with roseate shades
  Spread o'er it like the budding of a flower,
  The lips' ripe crimson, and the melting eye,
  Unbrightened by the sunshine from within,
  The emanations of seraphic thought,
  And full emotion, kindling into life
  Light, grace, the temple that they glorify?
  Oh Death! when thou dost bear the soul away
  The charm is shattered--the illusion gone!
  Ay, they are beautiful, and as bright forms
  Make fair the mirrors that they image in,
  So are their courses glorious and glad.
  Still doth their swelling harmony ascend
  In thrilling cadence to the gates of heaven,
  Making the air about them sweet with joy,
  As summer's breath with floral incense fumes;
  And every echo learns the words of love,
  And wonders at its sweet deliciousness,
  Repeating o'er and o'er the honied tones
  Till they infuse into their secret souls.

  O ye bright orbs! your shining would be dimmed
  By sin and all its pallid consequence,
  Till scarce a glimmer fluttered on the sky
  To 'lume the dreamer to your sadden'd sphere.
  But ye have held your priceless birthright sure,
  And walk among the panoply of heaven,
  Clear and true-hearted as the sons of God.
  Yet may we gaze upon you from afar
  As the unstained gaze on the innocent,
  Lovely and peerless in their purity,
  Smitten and wondering with humbleness
  Of that which is your everlasting dower;
  Quenching within us pride and earthliness
  Before the glance of your serenity;
  Aspiring ever for the spirit life,
  That casting off this fleshly tenement,
  With all its weakness and infirmities,
  Entereth on the cycle of the just,
  Unstained, immortal, glorious and strong!


  SCENE. _A Grove--Noontide._

  MAN.

  There is no place so sweet as the greenwoods
  In summer, heaven and earth awake with sounds
  Melodial; the ripple of the breeze
  Amongst the sun-green leaves, and pliant boughs,
  Just like the rustle of young summer's dress;
  The songs of birds, and the low mystic hum
  Of bees amongst their floral treasuries;
  Sweetest of all, the cool and liquid tones
  Of brooks--nature's true-hearted bards, who draw
  Bright inspirations from a pebbled ridge,
  And frame them into sweetest melody.
  There's poetry in every pendent leaf
  If we could read them truly; but our hearts
  Grow strange to nature's language in the world,
  Nor can translate their heaven lore. Ev'ry change
  From bud to full-blown ripeness, thence again
  To sereness and decay, is as the flow
  Of a short tale, whose moral is life's history.
  The woods were made for poets and all dreamers,
  Men who philosophize Time's hour-glass down,
  And younger grow, till with the last shot sand--
  They die. The very leaves are fanciful,
  And write their maxims on the sward in sun
  And shadow. Here I'll lay me down and dream
  An hour away amongst these violets!
  O my heart joys to gaze upon the sky
  Gleaming athwart green leaves, like happiness
  Above the gloom and shadow of the world!
  Then, thought first feels its attribute divine,
  And like a callow eagle spreads its wings,
  And makes its rest amid the lumin'd heavens.
  The lark sings poized above me in the sun,
  Like Moslem in his gilded minaret
  Calling the faithful unto matin prayer.
  There would my spirit follow thee, sweet bird,
  Ling'ring for ever in the midway air,
  Earth shrouded 'neath me by ascending mists,
  And sunny-crested cloudlets, like the base
  Of bright Imagination's airy halls,
  Whose roof is the star-fretted empyrean:
  Thence let the world hear my full gushing joy,
  And thrill at pleasures they can never know,
  Hear the sweet tumult of my throbbing breast,
  Like a clear spring of joyance bubbling up
  And overflowing time and space with streams;
  Whilst I, wrapt in my own high blessedness,
  Drain the sweet nectar shareless and alone.

  SPIRIT.

  The lark is beauteous in its skiey home,
  Amid the confluence of heaven's brightest rays
  Singing for heaven and earth undying hymns
  Of beauty, and deep-hearted tenderness;
  But more, when sinking on its own sweet song,
  It flutter, jubilant, to its soft nest
  Couched in the lowly bosom of the earth.
  And so it is with life. Man may build up
  A pillar of misanthropy and self,
  Raising him, statue-like, above his kind,
  And emulate the monumental stone
  In coldness and stern-browed indifference,
  But in the paths of love, and sympathy,
  And lowly charity, true glory lies,
  The substance of all joy and happiness.
  Let not thy spirit spurn man's fellowship,
  And force the stream of kindness up life's steep,
  Till, 'mid the rocky peaks of Thought it flow
  Unmargined by the verdant bloom of Act.
  Shun Self! 'tis like the worm a rosy bud
  Folds in its young embraces till it gnaw
  The heart out. Nature's is no volume writ
  For his interpreting who measures still
  Her wisdom by the inverted standard rule
  Of his own barrenness and blind conceit.
  There's not a flower but with its own sweet breath
  Cries out on selfishness, the while it gives
  Its fragrant treasures to the summer air;
  And not a bird within the greenwood shade,
  The burden of whose gentle minstrelsie
  Is not of love and open-hearted joy.
  The blest of earth are they whose sympathies
  Are free to all as streams by the wayside,
  Cheering, sustaining by their limpid tide,
  The weary and the footsore of the earth.

  O summer sunshine! floating round all things,
  Meadow and hill and leafy coverture,
  Steeping all Nature in most sweet delight,
  Till upward from the bosom of the earth,
  Before so cold and blank and unadorned,
  Spring fairest flowers to gladden and adore--
  That fillest the blue vault of heaven with smiles
  As of a mother smiling on her child,
  Pure, holy, without guile or artifice,
  Melting the spirit of each fleeting cloud
  From darkness unto beauty and soft grace--
  Thou art the emblem of that perfect love
  That sheddeth joy around it evermore,
  And from whose sweetness rise all gentle thoughts
  As scent from vernal flowers; that in the heart
  Waketh all goodness by a magic spell,
  As the fine touch of blindness makes a page
  Start into instant light and eloquence.
  Cherish thou kindness ever, for this life
  Would be most blissful if its sunshine came
  To strengthen on Endeavour to its aim.

  MAN.

  Methinks there is no blessedness in life
  More full than that which springs in solitude;
  A fount unruffled by the outer world,
  Unmingled with its honey or its gall;
  But welling through the spirit silently,
  Like a pure rill within a garden's bounds.
  Let my life float, like the sad Indian's lamp,
  Along the waves of Time, unpiloted
  Save by the breath of heaven, and the stirred tide,
  Till when its course be run it sink to rest
  Beyond the ken and fathoming of man;
  Let me not be a legend mouthed about
  By empty gossips o'er their clinking cups,
  Who tell the last sad tale and with a smack
  Turn to the merits of the passing wine.
  'Twere something to be wept for by the young
  And beautiful, but tears are things that dry
  Sooner than dew upon the waking flowers,
  Leaving the heart e'en gladder for their flow.
  O could my life subside into a dream
  Rising amid the stillness of calm sleep,
  Filling the soul with radiant images
  Of love, and grace, and beauty, all serene
  And shadowless as yon blue sky is now!--
  Would that the outward shows and forms of things
  Could melt away from cold reality
  To the warm brightness of the spiritual,
  Losing the grossness of this present world,
  As a fair face doth mirror'd in a glass--
  And thus, reposing in seraphic trance,
  Let the few years of earth's existence pass,
  Like minutes in the quietness of sleep,
  And waken to the glorious dawn of Heaven,
  Refreshed, and scatheless from mortality.

  SPIRIT.

  Thy wish, attain'd, would brand thee deep with shame;
  Life was not made to rust in idle sloth
  Until the canker eat its gloss away,
  But like a falchion to grow bright with use,
  And hew a passage to eternal bliss!
  Canst thou stand 'fore that glory of the sun,
  That like God's beacon on Eternity
  Wakeneth up Creation unto Act,
  And sheddeth strength and hope, to cheer them on,
  Yet rebel-wise cast down thine untried arms,
  Ere foes assail thee, or thy work be done?
  No, there's a power within the soul that yearns
  For action, as the lark for liberty,
  Pursuing ever with insatiate thirst
  And aspiration, some unsubstant aim.
  There is assertion of the rule divine,
  That rest must follow labour as the night
  Closeth the turmoil of the wakeful day;
  Then let the bright sun lead thee like a king
  With dauntless heart to struggle and o'ercome,
  Uncheck'd by mischance or poor discontent,
  That shrivels up a monarch to a clown,
  And rends his purple into beggar's rags.
  Let no alluring plea of sensuous ease
  Draw thee away from honour's rugged path,
  Till sleep fall on thee from the wings of death,
  And bear thee to sweet dreams and Paradise!

  MAN.

  How sweet it is to read fair Nature o'er
  Reclining thus upon her gentle breast,
  Like a young child that in her mother's face
  Traceth the motions of deep tenderness,
  Listing the murmurs of strange melodies
  That wander ever round her fresh and clear,
  Whence the sweet singers of our earth have caught
  Rapt harmonies and echoed them for aye!
  What study is like Nature's lumined page,
  So glorious with perfect excellence,
  That like the flowing of a mighty wind
  It fills the crevices and deeps of soul!

  No upper chamber and no midnight oil
  For me, to throw dim light upon the scroll,
  Whose feeble pedantry dulls down the soul
  From high imaginings to senseless words;
  But for my lamp I'll have the summer sun
  Set in the brightness of the firmament;
  My chamber shall be canopied by heaven,
  Gemmed by the glory of the fixëd stars,
  And round it floating evermore the breath
  Of nascent flowers, and fragrant greenery:
  And for my books, all lovely things in Earth
  And air, and heaven, all seasons and all times.
  The Spring shall bring me all the thoughts of youth,
  Its budding hopes and buoyant happiness;
  'Twill sing me lays of tenderness and love,
  That are the first sweet flowers of childhood's days,
  And win me back to purity and joy
  With the untainted current of its breath.
  Summer will be the volume of the heart,
  Expanded with the strength of growing life,
  Swelling with full brimm'd feeling evermore,
  And power and passion longing to be forth;
  'Twill tell of life quick with the seed of thought,
  Rising incessant into bud and bloom,
  And shedding hope and promise over Time,
  Like the sweet breath that tells the mariner
  Of fragrant shores fast rising in his course.
  Then Autumn, glorious with accomplishment,
  The harvest and the fruitage of the past,
  Stored with the gladness and the gain of life,
  Or sadden'd by its unproductiveness;
  And Winter like a prophecy would come
  To warn me of the end that draweth nigh.
  Each falling leaf that flutter'd from its bough,
  Pale with the sereness of keen-biting frosts,
  Would teach me that the ties of earth must loose,
  One after one, the interests and joys
  That made life's excellent completeness up,
  Until the trunk, stripped of its verdant dress,
  Stand in the naked dreadfulness of death.
  Thus will my soul learn wisdom true and deep,
  Not in the school of petty prejudice,
  Where truth is measured out by interest,
  And duty shrinks into expediency;
  Not in the volumes of pedantic fools,
  Who bind up knowledge, mummy-like, with terms,
  That sunder'd, the enclosure turns to dust;
  Not in the false philosophy of man,
  Who speculates on causes and effects,
  Yet thrusts his hand into the scorching flame,
  And wonders that it singeth in the act--
  But from her teaching who can never err,
  The Pure, the Beautiful, the Mother mind,
  That in the fulness of her unsearch'd soul,
  Shrineth all knowledge and all loveliness!

  SPIRIT.

  Ay! there are lessons of true wisdom writ
  In every page of Nature, from the flower
  Man treads beneath him as he wanders past,
  The humblest and the weakest thing of earth,
  Yet with its sweet breath rising on the air
  To make the fragrance of the summer full,
  Up to the rattle of the thunder cloud,
  The voice of heaven heard rolling through the spheres
  Till earth is dumb and stricken at the sound;
  Then let thy heart lean to them reverently,
  Knowing that action is the end of thought;
  And thus from Nature bring thou precepts still
  To guide thee nobly through this pilgrim world!
  One deed wrought out in holiness and love
  Is richer than all vain imaginings!
  Let then her lore fulfil thee evermore,
  And like high inspiration send thee forth
  To prophecy aloud unto mankind
  Of love, and peace, and verity sublime.
  Let not disaster daunt thee, nor reproach,
  No feeble yelpings of the toothless curs
  That follow on the heels of all who walk
  The highways of this world in faithfulness,
  And strength, but like a wild swan on the wave
  Let every billow swelling round thy breast
  Raise thee in spirit nigher unto heaven!


  SCENE. _A Grove--Sunset._

  MAN.

  O, Earth is beautiful! In such a scene
  The everlasting curse that sin entailed
  Strikes on the heart by contrast, as though heaven
  Rolled back its portals till the holy wrath
  Of God burst on Creation. All is still
  Save the rapt nightingale, that sings to rest
  Earth's warring multitudes, and this bright rill
  Whose voice is eloquent as poesy.
  The very breeze is hush'd that stirr'd the leaves
  To pleasure, and the golden clouds float on
  As though an angel steered them o'er the plain
  Of heaven. It is a blessed thing to feel
  The melody of silence in the woods,
  When outer life is hushed, and in the heart
  The echo of its murmurous sweetness sounds,
  As in the pauses of a song the harp
  Still vibrates. 'Tis a test by which the soul
  Lies open unto Nature, for its frame,
  Impure or guilty, unto discord turns
  Those tones of peace and harmony. Perchance
  These woods ne'er heard the voice of man till now,
  Nor know the motion of his jarring thoughts.
  I feel the weight of judgment o'er my head
  If, Adam-like, I bring the brand of guilt
  On this unfallen Paradise. In sooth
  This scene is rich in Eden loveliness,
  And peace, and the rude din of jabbering crowds
  Unheard as when Earth's generations yet
  Lay in the womb of Time. How soft the air
  Breathes with the scent of flow'rs, o'er which the dew
  Hangs like a charm of sweetness! Ah, fair Earth!
  'Tis sad to die and leave thee e'en for heaven;
  Yet the blue sky above is glorious,
  And brings the spirit visions of bright scenes
  Yet lovelier than this. There is a veil
  Of dreamy beauty o'er it, from whose woof
  The mystic star-eyes glimmer like a bride's.
  In such an hour peace steals upon the soul,
  Like the soft twilight o'er the toiling world;
  There is no room for passion--strife would blush
  As at the chiding of a gentle glance.

  SPIRIT.

  Eve brings forth bright thoughts from the soul, like stars
  From the blue heavens. Its sweet serenity
  Is as a boon of mercy from above,
  Restoring rest unto a toil-doomed world.
  Dost thou not turn from this to the pure calm
  Of Heaven as by a spell?

  MAN.

                            Ay! yonder cloud,
  Bright with the last faint glances of the sun,
  Bears my soul thither.

  SPIRIT.

                          All the Beautiful
  Points like the pilot-flower, magnetically,
  To Heaven, where beauty is accomplish'd. Earth
  Is but the reproduction of one form,
  Whose perfectness is heaven, and thus the mind,
  Unblinded by the blighting mist of sin,
  Sees emblems of its everlasting hope
  In Nature's loveliness. This quiet hour
  When the calm'd heart cries truce unto itself,
  And lays the weapons of resentment down,
  And bitterness and anger, yields the bliss
  That in completeness is the bliss of Heaven.
  The Earth is ne'er so sweet as when it seems
  By intuition to the soul like Heaven,
  And in the spirit earthliness dissolves
  Like mist before the sunshine.

  MAN.

                                  There's a power
  Within the soul that makes it yearn to soar
  Up to the Infinite, and, eagle-like,
  Bask in the unveiled glory of the sun;
  But this frame clogs its aspirations all,
  Like gyves that press the struggling captive down.
  Tell me of other worlds?

  SPIRIT.

                            There is a world
  Bright as yon star that flecks the wing of night,
  And sheds its glory o'er the Universe,
  Made up of such pure loveliness within,
  That like a gem it glistens through the crust,
  And makes heaven luminous. A chasten'd sound
  Of never failing melody still floats
  About it, like an ocean, undulating
  To the sweet breath of summer scented airs,
  From hill to dale and leafy-tufted woods,
  That catch the humours of the golden sun,
  And deck them in his livery. There falls
  From the soft twilight gloom of sparry grots,
  And crystal pillar'd caverns, many a stream
  That breaks in light and music on the soul,
  And like a diamond-sandall'd spirit glides
  In beauty through the land, margined by flowers
  That mirror in its tide, and seem like stars
  In heaven. There are flowers everywhere, in vale
  Hill-side and woodland, in the sun and shade,
  That whether dreams be on them, or they wake,
  Send evermore sweet incense to the heavens.
  Sun-crested mountains, softened into grace
  By the blue tints of distance, lend new charms
  To verdant swarded valleys, in whose lap
  As in a mother's bosom, waters lie
  And ripple to the wooing of the winds.
  The very clouds that scan the blue of heaven,
  Fused sometimes by the sunshine as with soul,
  Or flaked by the light fancies of the gale,
  Form to the vision labyrinths of grace
  And beauty, that melt into space, and spread
  A hemisphere of magic o'er the orb--
  And thro' this world at morning, noon, and night,
  A dreamy sweetness wanders, varying
  From blessing unto blessing, that the sense
  Of pleasure dull not with satiety.

  MAN.

  And it is habited?

  SPIRIT.

                      By beings framed
  After the model of all perfectness.
  In some the majesty of strength sublime,
  Rejoicing on the nervous power of life
  Like the broad noontide sun, with glances bold
  And open as the soul lies unto God,
  And brows that thought wreathes with a glorious crown
  Of fadeless immortality, which shines
  Like lightning, playing round the arc of heaven.
  And some there are as gentle and as fair
  As flowers made animate, whose motions are
  More graceful than the sweep of evening gales
  O'er moonlit waters; and whose beauty fills
  The air they breathe with sweetness, and to life
  Is what the sunshine is to summer. All
  Are filled with deathless spirits, capable
  Of joy, and love, and holiness, that make,
  Together, heaven's felicity. The strong,
  Tho' they be trenchëd round with mighty thoughts,
  Without one breach for weakness, in their souls
  Feel the sweet want for love's pure tenderness,
  That, like the dew, may soothe the eagle's breast,
  And send it soaring nigher to the sun.
  Thus to their lives they graft the fragile blossom,
  Whose sweetness is an amulet to lay
  Life's else perturbëd spirit; so that all
  Have oneness of necessity and good.

  MAN.

  O! I can compass spirit that could grasp
  A star and dash it from its orbit, till
  It flew through space eternally, and whelmed
  Myriads of spheres in flaming ruin, yet
  Cannot consummate that which is so light,
  One hour's emancipation from this clod
  To wander thro' such worlds. Which brightest orb
  In heaven's wide treasury shines in thy tale?

  SPIRIT.

  Listen! e'en in this paradise there works
  A mighty power of evil, conjured there
  By acts of foreknown consequence. This rears
  A standard of rebellion against God,
  And whirls a giddy tide of interest
  And pleasure to suck souls unto itself,
  The centre--dashing sorrow like salt foam
  To sterilize humanity. Yet still
  There is a virtue, given to make its guiles
  Shrink into ruin, like a withered leaf,
  And pass the spirit scatheless. 'Tis a strife
  Of spirit against spirit, whose result
  Of loss or gain fashions eternity.

  MAN.

  O! it is fine to brace the spirit up,
  To struggle with its foes, and feel it swell
  Till it could shake a thousand demons off
  As lightly as a lion doth the drops
  That eve sheds on him. There's no joy like that
  Of danger met, and danger overcome.
  The soul is like a sword that rusts to lie
  Inglorious in its scabbard, but will flash
  Bright as the lightning in the battle field.
  Spirit! will death transport to such a world?

  SPIRIT.

  Thou art upon it--It is earth--Itself
  All lovely, but man's soul so warped and blind
  He scarce can see her beauty, but still scans
  The stars of heaven for that which lies displayed
  Beneath his feet. The heart rears phantoms up
  To overthrow reality, and make
  Intention stand for Act. 'Tis well to boast
  Of spirit warfare in another sphere,
  Yet like a craven slight the trumpet call
  That bids man up and strive in this. In life
  There is a struggle evermore, wherein
  The spirit grapples with such subtle foes,
  That victory is glory infinite.
  No crumbling stone to whet ambition on,
  That 'neath the sapping of one wave of Time,
  Melts to the substance of oblivion.
  It is nobility to walk through life
  With a stout heart and cheerful courage on--
  To look on sorrow with undaunted mien,
  And smile away the fears that trouble brings--
  To bear unto the stricken solace sweet
  As water to the wounded, and to be
  A strength and an assurance to the weak.
  Ay! life, like matter, is atomic, and
  Man blows unto the winds what multiplied
  Makes up the universe. This radiant earth,
  Which, in its penitential moods the heart
  Feels were a paradise if guilt were not,
  Sprung from the womb of space, in perfectness
  Co-equal with the fairest orb that holds
  Vice-royalty in heaven for the sun;
  Form, substance, seeming, and that vivid charm
  Which is the soul of matter like in each.
  Mind differs only, making fair seem dull
  With what it glances through, and thus yon star
  Viewed with man's callous nature, would resolve
  Into reality as cold as Earth.

  O Earth! thou Beauty! and thou Wonderful!
  That from thy bosom like a living womb
  Bringest all forms of loveliness and grace
  Into the gladness of the summer air--
  That givest to the winds that are the breath
  And heaving of thy passion, wingëd thoughts
  To root, seed-like, into the ground, and spring,
  Bud, blossom, nourish'd ever by young showers,
  And moon-distillëd dews, until they make
  Thine utterance odorous. That from thy soul,
  As from an unseen presence of divinest light,
  Dartest into the spirit subtle rays
  That quicken life to blessing, as the breath
  Of being stirreth the inanimate,
  Making existence joy, and love, and power.
  O woods! and rustling forests! Ye that send
  Soft murmurs ever to the ends of heaven,
  And from your breast, as from a poet's soul,
  Issue all sweetest melodies of birds
  And leafy eloquence. O springs! and streams!
  Blithe hearted wanderers throughout the earth,
  Tracing your footsteps still with flowers that rise
  Like stars beneath the feet of Night. O hills!
  O mighty mountains! round whose hoary brows
  Gather the mystic clouds of heaven, like thoughts
  Of unimagined wisdom, that are rocked
  To slumber by the deep-songed hurricanes,
  Sons of Destruction, and whose waking voice
  Is the eternal thunder. O wide ocean!
  Swelling for ever with the mighty throes
  Of Nature's agony and ceaseless Act;
  Emblem of Time and of Eternity!
  Time the great worker, the Implacable,
  That with the roll of human will and deed,
  And hopes, and joys, and shatter'd purposes
  Dashes relentless on! Eternity--
  The Pauseless, the Insatiate! the gulf
  Whereto all motion, all existence flows,
  Enters and ends. O sunshine! and cool shade,
  And all that makes earth beautiful and sweet!
  Soft moonlight! life's pure maidenhood, whose dreams
  Are gleams of antenatal blessedness,
  Witness for Earth's equality, and bid
  The sister orbs of heaven cry "Hail!" to her.

  MAN.

  O Mother Earth! methinks I hear a voice
  Sound 'mid the surging of the stars of heaven,
  Like a clear trump athwart the mighty roar
  Of falling waters.

                      "Oh thou beautiful,
  "Frail daughter of Immensity! that hangest
  "Upon the bosom of dim night, at once
  "A glory, and a brightness, and a shame--
  "That from the urn of everlasting love
  "Drinkest of light and immortality,
  "Like a fair child in waywardness and mirth,
  "Triumphing in her loveliness; the swell
  "Of thy rapt harmonies is mute in heaven,
  "That once rang through the arches of all space,
  "A wonder and an ecstasy; but still
  "Thy path is with the glorious and pure,
  "Spanning the empyrean with a jewelled zone,
  "Making heaven beautiful, and with thy grace
  "Charming to goodness, though thou act it not.
  "Arise, O lovely fondling of the skies!
  "Wake from the silence of thy fallen doom,
  "Breathe forth thy sweetness to the longing air;
  "The angels are about thee evermore,
  "Like watchers o'er a stricken one, that hold
  "A glass to catch the life-mist from her lips.
  "Arise! and don thy bridal vestments pure,
  "And lead the train of heaven to the morn!
  "Art thou not beautiful, Daughter of Heaven?--
  "Beautiful as a bride before the sun,
  "Gliding along the blue serene of space,
  "Pensive and glorious; showering soft light
  "Upon the path of heaven, as from the eyes
  "Of downward-glancing cherubim. Arise!
  "Stand in the light of lights, and bare thy soul
  "Unto the searching of the undimmed spheres!"

  O, Spirit! are there angels hovering now
  In the dim ocean of this twilight air?

  SPIRIT.

  There are pure angels ever round the earth,
  As stars are round the azure dome of heaven,
  In sunshine and in twilight and in gloom,
  That with the sweetness of an unseen love
  Circle humanity, and like the lark
  Hid in the glory of the noonday sun,
  Pour o'er the world heaven's constant tenderness.
  Some in the soft-hued glimmering of dreams,
  Through the unfolded lattices of sleep,
  Steal to the soul in visions of delight,
  Pure and benignant as the evening dew
  That cools the bosom of the blushing rose.
  Some all unseen, save in the blessed care,
  That like a lover's arm, from life's rough way
  Presses the serried thorns that choke it up;
  But all as with an atmosphere of love,
  And peace and strength encircling man, alike
  Within him and without, that the foul breath
  Of pestilent corruption touch him not.
  Some are there who have loved and suffered much
  For earth, as a fond mother doth who sees
  Her babe die in her bosom; who have traced
  Man to the precipital brink of ruin,
  With open arms to charm him back from death,
  Rejected and despised; who on the scroll
  Of conscience, as with words of living light,
  Stamp the pure precepts of a holy lore,
  That sin obliterates and sets at naught.

  MAN.

  Oh! how polluted must man's spirit show
  In contrast with these ministers of heaven,
  That e'en beneath frail woman's purity
  Dims like a taper 'neath the light of day!--
  Methinks if from our eyes sin's blindness fell,
  And gave pure angels to our ravish'd sight,
  Gliding around us clad in the bright robes
  Of love and immortality, this earth
  Would be like heaven. O! 'twere a blessed change,
  And perfect as when Death's exulting sigh
  Swoons through the empty chambers of the soul
  His note of liberty.

  SPIRIT.

                        'Tis man alone
  Makes Earth less Paradise; its frame is full
  Of perfect blessedness, which to the pure
  Were Heaven in all its fulness; but mankind
  Are crimsoned o'er with sin, which like blood-stains
  A soundless ocean could not cleanse away.
  And thus all flesh must thaw back to the dust
  From which it sprang, as ice doth unto water,
  Before the soul is purified for heaven.
  Men little dream how near heaven is to them
  In possibility, how far in deed.
  As little as they dream amid their mirth,
  Death stalks beside them; that his shadow falls
  In the same mirror where the maiden sees
  The image of her loveliness, and flits
  Amongst the whirl of revelry and show.


  SCENE. _A rock overhanging the Sea._

  MAN.

  A rock and the wild waters! 'Tis a spot
  To moralize on life, and strip the world
  Of all its gaudy trappings and false gloss,
  That like the daubing on a wanton's cheek,
  Crimsons the paleness of disease and shame,
  And with life's semblance mocks a rotten heart.

  O wild, wild sea! eternal wilderness
  Of strife and toil and fruitless energy!
  Birthplace and Tomb! whence unto being spring
  Successive myriads to run their race,
  Rage, labour, and grow hoar, then pass away
  With all their deeds and memories, and cede
  Their petty sphere of inches to another.
  O wild, wild sea! thou bosom of all passion,
  And thought, and hope, and longing infinite!
  That struggling ever from the riven caves,
  And fathomless abysses of the Earth,
  As from the cells of an awakened soul,
  Fling your hoarse murmurs and aspiring groans
  To the strong wingëd winds, that puff them on
  In sport and in derision; that art stirred
  To tumult and to madness by the breath
  Of unseen currents, unsubstantial air,
  That passes on, and leaves a foaming train
  To wonder at the thing that angered them.
  O wild, wild sea! soul of indifference!
  Lashing eternally the rifted sands
  And lonely shores about ye; swallowing
  The wreck of man's dependence, and the life
  That struggles with ye for the prize of love,
  And joy, and sorrow, clinging round its soul;
  That flowest on in coldness and self-aim
  O'er the dissolving frames of countless waves,
  That sink like generations, and so rise,
  Pausing or stilling never, numb'ring up
  A myriad selfish interests to make
  Thy sum of being perfect. Man may read
  The lore of human nature in thee, writ
  Not with the pen of flattery, that gilds
  The base past recognition, but all plain
  And coloured only by its truthfulness;
  The good and ill alike displayed, that lie
  Within the sounding of its inmost soul.
  O! thought might wander o'er this briny waste,
  Dove-like, without one Ark whereon to rest
  From the interminable ebb and flow,
  As many a soul has flutter'd o'er the earth,
  Weary and faint, as mine did till it found
  A haven in the bosom of sweet love.

  SPIRIT.

  Then thou hast loved?

  MAN.

                        Ay! so that life is bound
  About by it, as by a Gordian knot,
  Inseparable, until Death's sharp blade
  Divide its inmost coil. There is a time
  When all that sweeten'd youth and childhood dulls
  And fades to nothingness, as the faint moon
  Pales at the bright foreshadowing of morn,
  And leaves heaven void, when every chord is dumb
  That once made music in the soul, and life
  Is still and silent, though it be the pause
  That presages the storm and bitter strife,
  Whose fury ofttimes bends the spirit down,
  And strips it of its blossoms; Then to me
  O'er the blank chaos of my being came,
  As from the haunted chambers of deep thought,
  A glorious presence--an imagined grace,
  Whose footfalls as she rose pulsed thro' my heart
  With tremblings exquisite. It was sweet Love,
  The Blessed! the Indwelling! that doth make
  A virgin firmament for its pure light,
  Then at the pleading of its own deep want,
  Shines forth in glory and in tenderness.

  Amongst the laughing and the gay I went,
  Seeking for one to realize love's dream,
  As mid the countless hosts of heaven the sage
  Peers for the brightness of a new-born star.
  Then, soft hands trembled in my palm, and forms
  Graceful and rounded with the bloom of youth,
  Flitted about me in the languishment
  Of music and sweet motion; voices low,
  And modulate from laughter unto sadness,
  Hung on the air like perfume on the wind,
  And eyes, flashing, and mild, and fond, spake too,
  A very Babel of soft speech, and yet--
  I sighed. Life seemed to me a painted daub--all glare,
  And show, and tinsel, where the eye in vain
  Sought some green spot to rest on, till a mist
  Swam o'er it as in gazing at the sun.

  SPIRIT.

  Man ofttimes palms an artificial life
  Upon the heart for that which is the true,
  Though to the real it be what a flower
  Is to its mimicry, a tinted rag
  Unsweetened by the breath of summer's love.
  Joy flows alone from an _untroubled_ spring,
  Unstirred by the false whirl of giddy dreams,
  That send the dregs of passion through its veins.

  Amid that gay assemblage many wore,
  Perchance, a laughing vizard o'er a heart
  Empty and sad; many a vacant smile,
  Like a sun-ray upon the winter's snow
  That freezes yet beneath it. Some there were
  Who flutter'd round its glitter, like a moth
  That takes a petty rush-light for the sun;
  And few who let the honest heart appear
  Unveiled mid Fashion's frigid masquerade.
  Didst thou look deeper than the outward guise?

  MAN.

  Ay! some there were so lovely, that the eye
  Dreamt of them in its night, when they were gone;
  But when I search'd them, like a single flower
  The outer blossoms parted, and showed nought within.

  Oh! then I fled, as one whose own wild thoughts
  Bid him outstrip the curbless winds of heaven,
  And storm the bulwarks of sublime desire.
  Want grew within me as a famine grows
  With every hour that fleets unsatisfied;
  But in my wanderings there rose a spot,
  Where man had wrought pure nature's counsel out,
  Nor reared a shrine to mock her loveliness;
  Yet this I heeded not, for there was one
  Who came to me on sudden with such joy
  That I stirred not, but like one weak with thirst,
  Let the life draught flow o'er my powerless lips.

  O! yet I see her, with those blessed eyes
  Slaying my soul with beauty; eyes so deep,
  That in their azure ocean of soft light
  Thought shrank into a fathom length; and smiles,
  Stealing their sweetness from a heaven of love,
  And joy, and immortality within,
  Whence all emotion, angel-like, came forth,
  Clad in a vesture of celestial light.
  Her face beamed on me like a glimpse of heaven
  Caught in the rapture of prophetic trance,
  That in all day-light thoughts, and shaded dreams,
  Haunts the deep soul for ever. As she went,
  Grace lapt its mantle o'er her, like the gold
  On fleecy-bosomed clouds in sunny skies.
  O Spirit! she was beautiful! a thing
  Guileless and pure, as though her youth had past
  With Heaven's own children in the light of God,
  Thence come to make a paradise of earth,
  And breathe the transports of transcendant bliss
  Like floral exhalations through my soul.

  And I--I loved her with the love of heaven,
  That melts down time and space, and all between,
  And clasps an essence in the soul's embrace;
  And from her being there would ever flow
  Full streams of holy melody, that lapt
  Earth, air, and heaven, and all terrestrial forms
  With charms bright as heaven's new-created light.
  And as she gazed on the blue firmament,
  And shrined the stars with her pure thoughts, and dreamt
  Of that which lay beyond; I gazed on her,
  And drew Elysian theories of Heaven,
  As though borne thither by wing'd seraphims.
  Oh! what is there in love that wreathes all things
  With an unfading halo of sweet light,
  Making the mystery of Nature clear?

  SPIRIT.

  Love, like the sun, clears from the soul all clouds
  That darken understanding, and wrap earth
  Round with a misty curtain, through whose folds
  The lineaments of beauty glimmer forth
  In undefined luxuriance. 'Tis a spell
  That brings by sympathetic influence
  The soul-deep glory from the universe.
  All things are beautiful to those who love,
  Whether in mind or matter. Life becomes
  A pathway of soft light and radiance,
  Whereon the spirit glideth unto heaven
  As angels up the sunshine. Thought and deed
  Are blessed in the framing and the act,
  Fashioned and temper'd with pure charity,
  That knits man unto man, and grants the weak
  Exemption from the thraldom of the strong;--
  And things inanimate, that yet are pierced
  Through with the spirit of eternal love,
  As with a life that circulates and glows
  In ruddy currents throughout all their frame,
  By gracious intuition stand revealed
  In all the plenitude of Eden charms.
  Then Nature's language reaches to the heart,
  As through the modulations of a song
  Sweet thoughts flow o'er the spirit. What was fair
  Seems fairer, what was vividless grows bright.

  MAN.

  Ay! she made all things beautiful to me,
  Drawing, with youth's pure privilege, the sting
  Of guilt and wrong from life--'twas as the sun
  Rose on a sphere seen but by night before.
  Ah! bitter image of a transient thing,
  That shineth with Promethean glory, then
  Sinks 'neath the shadow of Eternity!
  Oh Spirit! day by day I saw her fade,
  The life within her grew more spiritual,
  Triumphing in the weakness of the flesh,
  And in her eyes supernal brightness shone,
  As from the glory of approaching heaven.
  Dear child! that kisses could not keep awake,
  Or woo from the sweet love of Mother-land.
  She lay within these arms, and angels came
  And whispered her away with them to Heaven,
  So softly, that I knew it not, but still
  Murmured my heart to her. To sense she lay
  Upon my breast, and yet she was in heaven;
  This but the earthly mantle she had shed.
  There were those silken locks that curtained her,
  And her sweet lips that I had kissed but now;
  From whence, as from a living spring of love,
  Trickled pure heaven streams o'er my life's dull waste.
  But Oh! I kissed the soft lids from her eyes,
  And knew my desolation, for the soul
  That was their soul, as light is day's, no more
  Stood in their dewy portals, like a queen
  Swaying true-hearted multitudes. Oh heaven!
  'Twas wonderful to fold her thus unto me,
  With life's ripe bloom upon her cheeks, and grace
  Clinging round her like a bridal robe,
  Yet feel that she, the verity, the self,
  Was floating, worlds-off, on the stream of souls
  To God. Oh mind! 'tis ever thus with thee!
  Thou graspest at material shadowings,
  Whilst that the immaterial substance of all good
  Flies from thee like a vapour from the wind;
  So that thou hast a clod within thine hand,
  Life seems eternal, till the crumbling dust
  Runs through thy clenching fingers, and thy gage
  Mocks thee up from the mould'ring frame of Earth.
  There is no mystery like Death; it comes
  Sightless as the first breath of infant life,
  And goes to an unsearched Eternity--
  The End and the Beginning are alike.

  SPIRIT.

  Death strikes upon the soul the last deep chime,
  That tells it Time's short hour has passed away,
  Eternity's undialled course begun;
  There is a trackless ocean round this life
  Whose tide is tremulous with unseen gales,
  And storms that lash it off to fury--shades
  Of deep chaotic darkness ever hang
  Above it, like the thunder crags of heaven,
  And sounds, as of the swooning of a blast
  Through time-worn caverns, flap their heavy wings
  On the white foam crest of the surging waves.
  O man! that standest on the pinnacle
  Of life's abysmal heights with failing heart
  And reeling brain, gaze on that troubled gulf--
  It is thy pathway to the Better-Land,
  Which thou must traverse with a sea-bird's flight,
  Whose rest is on the bosom of the storm.
  Ay! 'tis a fearful plunge! Now think of Death--
  There is an angel merciful and strong,
  Hovering ever o'er the weary world,
  That foldeth in his arms the weak, whose feet
  Totter upon the brink of the Inane,
  And, like a mother, wafts them from Earth's strife
  Into the bosom of eternal rest;
  Is he not merciful who spares so long
  The guilty for repentance, and the pure
  Transplants in all their purity to heaven?
  Death harms not aught that's lovely, that poor frame
  Is mere corruption, which the soul makes fair
  By luminous infusion, and the soul
  Feels not Death's breathing on its healthful bloom,
  But like a virgin doffs its earthly veil,
  And gives its fullest beauty to the light.

  MAN.

  O Spirit! tell me, shall we meet again
  As those who have loved well in Time; or drop
  All memories of Earth with the sad dust
  The soul shakes from it at the gate of heaven?
  'Twere bitter to regard her angel there,
  Unknown, and lost amid the myriad host
  Of spirits glorified!

  SPIRIT.

                        The soul is wrought
  In an eternal mould, which still remains
  Unscathed 'mid the vicissitudes of flesh;
  And the same power that makes identity
  'Twixt man and man, being the soul within,
  That constitutes the _Self_ of every man,
  Bears its distinctive features when it sheds
  The crysalis of frail humanity;
  They who have loved on Earth will love in Heaven,
  Through each the current flowing unto God,
  Thence shed again in blessing on their souls,
  As from clear tided springs a summer cloud
  Gathers its dewy freight to yield again,
  In sunny showers upon the native earth.

  True Love is Earth's blest blessedness. All else,
  Wealth, fame, nobility, and the poor gauds
  Wherewith man trinkets out his little life,
  End with the dust that rattles on his bier;
  But Love, like a rich heritage, ascends
  With the freed spirit to the throne of God,
  There to be perfected and purified
  To commune with the Children of the Light.
  Therefore love much on Earth, keeping the heart
  Pure from the rank pollutions of the flesh,
  That like a mould'ring bank hangs loose above
  To launch its filth upon each errant wave;
  Let thy love circle wider with all time,
  Like the light ripple round a pebble plunge,
  Wider, and wider till the swells subside
  In the calm fulness of Eternity.
  The love of heaven flows in _one_ stream to God,
  As from a fountain'd unison of soul
  Wherein all spirits blend inseparably;
  There is no isolation but in Time,
  For Death that units out mortality
  Like minutes on a dial, now, will break
  His arrows 'mid the ruins of the Earth,
  Proclaiming _everlasting_ life and love,
  The consummation of all unity.


  SCENE. _Hill and Dale--Morning._

  MAN.

  The breath of morn is stealing o'er my brow
  All redolent of life, and health, and joy,
  As the first breeze that fans the prisoner's cheeks,
  And welcomes him to Liberty. The Earth
  Is yet in her sweet childhood innocence,
  Ere the dark cloud of worldly interests
  Obscure her taintless heavens, and the blue mist,
  Which is the spirit of the rising dew,
  Hangs o'er it like the sadness of first love,
  That makes youth beautiful. The lark is up
  And singing like a disembodied soul
  Within the brightness of the blessed sun,
  Telling of naught but heaven and happiness;
  There is no dew upon her bosom now,
  For the young beams have kissed it utterly;
  Yet over flower, and bud, and blade there lies
  The crystal tissue, trembling with soft light,
  As the young day moves gaily up the sky,
  And sheds his guerdon o'er the waiting Earth.

  O what a charm there is in purity,
  Of morn, life, love, and nature all. This scene,
  So clear and calm and peaceful, that it fills
  The soul with its o'erflowing blessedness,
  Pales 'neath the glare of noon, and man's rude lust,
  To scarce the semblance of its former self.
  But with the heart--O God! Thy richest gift
  Is Innocence, that like a quenchless spring
  Of everlasting light, encircles life
  With beauty and unfading radiance,
  Keeping all sense and feeling fresh and sweet
  As the untainted breathing of the morn.

  How lovely is all nature, separate
  From man! There is no whispering of strife
  Or sorrow here, naught to inform the soul
  Of man's deep wretchedness and sin. No lust
  To justify the wretch who binds his soul
  In the drear darkness of a murky cell,
  Scraping for gold as beasts do in the earth
  For carrion, and counting life-time out
  By ducats; closing house and heart alike
  To the benignant sunshine. If our hearts
  Could lave in Lethe's cleansing stream sometimes,
  Till evil vanished from its memory,
  And left a virgin tablet for the pen
  Of Nature, life would be as sweet as love.

  What far extremes of woe and blessedness
  This earth can yield! The woe create, the joy
  Begotten from a never failing womb;
  Woe! fashioned out of craft, and guile, and sin,
  That hungereth for prey, till, as it were,
  The mother eats the babe that sucks her breast;
  The joy! inherent and diffused like light
  From the eternal glory of the sun,
  Gather'd from all things, sight, and sound, and sense,
  E'en from the very breeze that whispers us
  Of yielded sweetness and unhoarded gifts.

  O God! preserve my heart emancipate
  From all world feelings that must die with Time,
  Like things unworthy of Eternity;
  Sow in my spirit seed that may spring up
  And bud and increase throughout life, until
  It blossom fully in the light of heaven,
  Grant that the evil of the world may ne'er
  Harden my heart against the sweet impress
  Of Beauty, that beholding there, she see
  No mirror'd image of her loveliness!

  Methinks life were a curse if separate
  From loving of the Good and Beautiful!
  To gaze upon that azure dome, so blue
  And penetrate with sunshine through and through,
  As lover's eyes with fondness--the far hills,
  And sun-green meadows sloping to the stream
  With tints of bosky shadows, yet not feel
  A motion in the spirit, like the tide
  Of waving woodlands rippled by a breeze;
  Better return to dust from which we sprang,
  And bid the winds of heaven scatter it!

  SPIRIT.

  Love Beauty: let it be an atmosphere
  Above thee and around, whence comes the breath
  Of life and health and gladness. Yet beware
  Thy love be not an ideality,
  That, like the smile upon a sculptur'd lip,
  Freezes upon the stone nor sheds abroad
  The genial influence of a loving heart.
  There is an aim still nobler than the love
  Of Beauty; to show Beauty forth in _act_,
  And _life_, that like some fertilizing stream
  It glide flower-margined to Eternity.
  Beauty quiescent loseth half its charms,
  As a blue eye when sleep hath closed its lid;
  But in its operation, 'tis a star
  That leaves a track of glory on the sky;
  Worst miser he who hoards up in his soul
  The blessed wealth of Beauty and repels
  Unbenison'd the weary at his gate.

  There is a way to make life glorious,
  And nobler than the heritage of kings,
  Though thy path lie along a vale in life,
  With mountain pride reared up on either side--
  To make thy march triumphant, trailing not
  The colours of thy Purpose in the dust--
  And be received as victor into heaven.
  Set Beauty in thy soul like a sea-light
  To warn thee from the rocks and shoals of wrong,
  And guide thee surely to thy journey's end;
  Let her pure promptings stablish in thy heart
  A living spring of motive, that may flow
  Through thought and action, like the veinëd life
  Through man and all his members; not for praise
  Let thy work be, nor gain, but heaven and right,
  And for the feeling of that sweetest sense,
  That from thy sowing springeth up no tare
  Of grief or bitterness, but goodly fruit
  That nourisheth the heart, and gives it strength
  To combat manfully for life and truth;
  Look manhood in the face unblanchingly,
  With no rose-coloured veil 'twixt it and thee--
  With pure integrity to match the great,
  And humbleness to poize thee with the small;
  Look at its guilt and shame, as on deep wounds
  Wherefrom a life is flowing; seek thou then
  To staunch them in thy measure; mark its wrongs,
  The burden of oppression and the toil
  That grind the sand of life down till it run
  Like water through the mighty glass of Time,
  And let thy voice come like a trump to call
  The faithful to the rescue. Find the weak,
  And weary, and the desolate of heart,
  Faint with the sorrows and the cares of life,
  And let no act add to their bitter cup
  One drop of gall, but like a priest do thou
  Tell them of hope and peace, and gladden them
  With that blest balm, pure kindness, which transforms,
  With more than Magian art, the meanest act
  Into the brightness of the summer sun!--
  Doth not this quiet hour fall on thy soul
  Like music dropping from the spheres?

  MAN.

                                        Ay! sooth
  It is most sweet! Methinks that such a time
  Were meeter far for lover's tryst than eve,
  When the dark night must sadden o'er their vows,
  And hide them from each other. Now, all things
  Are pure and beautiful as love should be,
  The dew of youth fresh on them, and though life
  Should darken o'er with clouds as it roll on,
  Still love would light them on, like the bright guide
  Of Israel, to the promised land of rest.
  'Tis beautiful, love plighted in the morn
  Of life, when not a shadow dims its heaven--
  Plighted for good or ill, as fate may rule,
  Enduring alike true through sun and storm,
  Save when the cold blast sweeps across the way,
  It knits them only closer heart to heart.

  SPIRIT.

  Love is no faint exotic made to bloom
  In the close summer of a glassy frame,
  That at the first breath of the unquelled air
  Shrivels up like a parchment in the flame.
  No! let it stand upon the mountain's brow,
  And bid the untamed winds make sport of it;
  Yet though they drive it 'fore them in their might,
  'Twill be like the strong eagle that exults
  In the wild rapture of his headlong swoop;
  The strongest and the tenderest is Love!

  MAN.

  Now as I gaze upon this cloudless sky,
  So soft and tranquil, mem'ry paints to me
  One whose life bid as fair--that my heart said
  Beholding her--"O flower! so bright and sweet,
  "With the pure dew of maidenhood bestrewn,
  "Thy life will be unfolded like the rose,
  "That leaf by leaf adds sweetness to the spring!"
  She was most beautiful! but more in this,
  That she moved like an angel, minist'ring
  To joy and peace and charity. The weak
  Rejoiced before her as the embodied smile
  Of Providence, and sadden'd when she pass'd;
  And yet one short, short year and she was gone,
  Her heart pierced through with thorns, who ne'er had borne
  The semblance of a sorrow into life.
  Is there no armour against sorrow's sting?

  SPIRIT.

  The highway of this world is set with thorns,
  O'er which poor pilgrims still must journey on;
  There are who walk it shod with iron sense,
  That crushes opposition like a vice,
  And puts aside the ready points like twigs
  Pressed backward in the woodlands by a child.
  There are who seem buoyed upward by some power
  Above the level of affliction's range,
  Until their term be run, and then they fall
  Into the bosom of the angel Death.
  And there are some whose tender feet are pierced
  Evermore deeper by the rugged path,
  Whose softness and whose beauty nigh invite
  The cruel spoiler to his unarmed prey,
  As the swift hawk high poizëd in the sky,
  Swoops when the dove floats past on silv'ry wings.

  There is a veil upon the eyes of men,
  That makes all things show dimly, but if rent
  Would work like resurrection on the mind,
  Bringing to life thoughts dead in doubt and error;
  Thus, standing on the bridge of Time, which spans
  The gulf 'twixt two eternities through which
  Flows ever on the tide of human life,
  That troubled stream would seem a sea of glass,
  And all its thick impurities appear
  Clear as the outline of a floating corpse;
  Gaze down upon it though it sicken thee.

  There cometh one beneath whose ermined pride
  Stalks the corruption of a charnel-house,
  Where fest'ring flesh lies in its cloth of gold,
  E'en yet the wonder of the gaping crowd.
  Upon his brow the jewelled circlet rests,
  His only title to nobility;
  But that, unto the vulgar, symbols still
  The orbit of the everlasting sun,
  That fills and glorifies a universe--of clay.
  Where is the mind that should have overtopp'd,
  Saul-like, the level of the multitude?
  Where the bold front that in the breach of wrong
  Stemm'd the fierce current of insidious foes,
  Flashing Truth's falchion in the van of Time?
  Shame! it hath rusted in its scabbard, till
  The nerveless arm can scarce withdraw it thence.
  O Earth! rejoice that at his side there comes
  An undimm'd light to beacon on the world;
  One who upholds the honour of his line
  Unsullied as the glory of the stars;
  Whose voice rings clear above the battle strife,
  And shakes oppression from his iron throne;
  And for the purple, round his heaving breast
  Folds like a vesture manly Honesty.
  Is it not glorious the light that gilds
  The hoary summits of the giant hills,
  Spread like the standard of eternal Truth
  O'er many phalanxed Ages--blazoning
  The stalwart band that barrier'd from the world
  The bitter fury of Heaven's huricanes!
  Onward there come a thick'ning mass who drown
  Defects and vices in a shower of gold;
  Who crush report, like Rome the Sabine maid,
  Beneath the burden of their molten wealth,
  And 'neath their gilding flaunt them in the sun
  Brightly as though there were no dross within;
  So the eye sees them, but search thou the soul,
  And part the sterling from the counterfeit.
  Oh! for the sighing of the desolate,
  The widow and the orphan in their woe,
  Drown'd 'neath the clink of gold wrung from their need,
  Like moisture from the crushing of the grape.
  Oh! for the fruitless cry of misery,
  The Tantalus of stern reality,
  That feebly perisheth in Famine's grasp,
  Whilst plenty moulders for the lust of pride,
  And adds its rottenness to the hot-bed
  Of wantonness and subtle infamy.
  And yet the worker wears as fair a port
  As he whose life is holy Charity,
  Setting his footprints on the way of life
  Like sunshine rippling o'er the summer sea.
  Some wear their little merit on their sleeve,
  Which 'neath the friction of Time's troublous waves,
  Grows threadbare as the coat of beggary.
  Some under rugged lineaments enclose
  Treasures of truth and goodness, that like gems
  Shine through the fissures of the strong Time-quake,
  Showing more perfect as affliction works,
  And sorrow rends the earthy covering.
  Some are there with the sight turned inwards still,
  Beholding but the narrow sphere of self,
  And trampling under foot the weak who stand
  Betwixt them and the goal of their desire.
  Blessed the few who unto fellow men
  Turn with the fervent grasp of Brotherhood,
  Breasting the surges of tempestuous fate,
  With souls fulfilled with kindliness and Faith--
  Raising the ensign of prophetic Hope
  Like the clear rainbow on the thunder-cloud;
  And 'mid the darkness of impending care,
  Pouring the cheerful daylight of the soul!
  There are sweet spirits mingling with the throng,
  Marked out with sunshine, like the pouting waves
  When heaven looks down in sun and shadow, hearts
  So leaven'd through with grace and purity,
  That though sin warp and sift them at its will,
  Some hidden sweetness lingers yet to tell
  The perfectness of Nature's handy-work.
  Are they not as the ministers of heaven,
  Liveried with beauty, and deep tenderness,
  Missioned in mercy to this fallen sphere
  Proclaiming peace and blessedness above;
  Threading the ranks of Earth's fierce battle field,
  Amid the clangour of death-darting steel,
  Raising the wounded from their helplessness,
  And bearing life draughts to the sinking soul!
  O Mother Earth! thine arms will fondle her
  When ingrate man hath drain'd her spirit dry,
  Fashioned in weakness, yet in weakness strong
  Where honour were the foeman, what is she
  Before the onslaught of satanic serfs?--
  The mirror of her purity obscured,
  Polluted by lust's pestilential breath--
  Pluck'd like a flower to while an hour away,
  Then cast to wither on the barren ground,
  Shattered and bruised beneath base passion's heel,
  And all the clinging tendrils of her love
  Torn bleeding from the stay round which they clung.

  Look thou upon that stream, rough with the whirl
  Of crime, and woe, and wretchedness, that float
  Like poisoned scum upon the driving flood,
  Filling the breath of life with noxious blasts
  That smite humanity with pestilence.
  And tremble thou, though man discern it not,
  Ten thousand times more foul it shows to God;
  Then praise him for the twilight of thy sense.
  Yet there is much of good and fair in life,
  That like the glow upon the eastern sky,
  Blazons the glory of approaching day.

  MAN.

  O! is not life then sweetest to the soul
  In utter solitude, or that deep calm
  When all of Earth, its cares and interests,
  Are shaken from the spirit, as the moth
  Doffs from its wings the natal crysalis
  And wanders through the blue serene of heaven?
  In this pure scene the din of man would sound
  Harsher than discord amid melody.
  Here no rude tongue should whisper of the things
  Poor Earth bows down to worship--fashion, wealth,
  And hollow mockings gilded by a name,
  That makes the calf which browses on the plain
  Turn to a god when moulded in the gold.
  No thought should rise, that passing into speech
  Might soil the purity of new-born flowers,
  Fresh with the dews of morn and paradise,
  But like an angel singing through the skies,
  Wing the blue empyrean of the mind,
  And break in music on the thrilling sense.

  SPIRIT.

  Is there no music in the gentle word
  That falls in consolation on the sad,
  Starting the crystal tear into the eye,
  Filtrate through gratitude till there remain
  Naught earthy in its brightness? Though the scene
  Be as a plague spot on the face of earth
  Sweet Charity can cleanse it, till it shine
  Bright as the jewels in a monarch's crown,
  That not the midnight of Earth's blackest sin
  Can dim. All beauty emanates from soul,
  And all deformity. The piteous straw
  Where sickness writhes in suffering and want--
  The cold, bleak dwelling where the winds have will
  To brag o'er man's debasement, if possess'd
  In fortitude and patience, with the heart
  Clear in its honour, stedfast in its faith,
  Is to the eye of angels, beautiful as day;
  And this fair spot with all its waken'd charms
  Is purgatorial torture to the wretch
  Whose life shrieks in him under conscience-stings.

  Let sunshine be within thee, and without
  Summer will dwell in everlasting bloom,
  Whether in light or darkness, in close cell,
  Or 'neath the blessed canopy of heaven.


  SCENE. _A Mountain Summit--Sunrise._

  POET.

  'Tis glorious to stand thus nigh to heaven,
  And like a Prophet with the mark of god
  Set on him for an everlasting work,
  With outstretched hands, and earnest-hearted words,
  To speak unto the Nations. This calm spot,
  Emblem of Truth's serenity and peace,
  With no hoarse dissonance to stir the deep
  Of thought to passion, till the whirling waves
  Swallow the love-steered purposes of soul,
  And leave its being desolate--looks down
  On Earth, and all its jarring multitudes,
  Its miseries of soul and sense, as Earth
  Looks on the distant glory of the stars,
  All unparticipant of weal or woe,
  Save as the glass is of its mirrored form;
  Thus Action rises over Thought, and sets
  Man over man prëeminent for and great,
  As mountains in the sphere of human life.
  This were a throne meet for the Sent of God
  To rest on, and give laws unto the world,
  Rooted in the unshaken strength of Earth,
  With man for footstool, and the disc of heaven
  For canopy and witness to swell down
  The quenchless words into the heart of Time;
  Here to raise up the wand, and smite Earth's soul
  Till streams of penitence and love gushed out
  To wipe away her barrenness, and fill
  The latent seeds of holiness with life,
  To blossom for the harvest of the Angels.

  O Thou that from Thy throne set on the flood
  Of measureless Eternity, dost bind
  The mighty thunder in its misty cave,
  And still'st its throbbings with a single word;
  That break'st the chain which holdeth it, and send'st
  It booming o'er the boundless Universe,
  Thy minister to testify of Thee,
  And shake the pillars of the firm-set Earth
  With knowledge of Thy majesty and strength;
  That with the trenchant lightning dost search out
  The limits of immensity, and bare
  Its inmost soul to Thy dread scrutiny,
  Before whose holiness the sun grows dim,
  And vanishes to nothingness like mist;
  That bidd'st the winds sweep o'er the bounds of space,
  Strong in the terror of Thy mightiness,
  Till stars are shaken from their seats, like fruit
  From the autumnal fulness of the bough;
  Breathe Thou upon me till my soul be full
  Of deathless inspiration, that may flow
  In burning currents through all space and Time,
  And stir up generations with warm life,
  To battle for the cause of Truth and Heaven.
  Let my words ring upon the sleeper's ear
  Clear as the trump that wakes the dead for doom,
  Fright him from false security and sloth,
  And rouse the _man_ within him, though it be
  Feeble and powerless as a creeping babe.
  Let them break on the conscience of the base,
  As billows break upon the shifting sands,
  Crumbling the false foundations of his hope,
  And sweeping all his theories to naught:
  Let them rush swifter on him as he flees,
  Circle him with their terrors everywhere,
  Snatch from his clutching fingers every prop
  That guilt or error flings him, till he fall
  Into the waves of truth a drowning man
  With not a straw to grasp at. Let them smite
  Wrong and oppression like a gnawing blight,
  Eating into the heart, till like dead leaves,
  Shrivell'd and pow'rless, beggars tread them down.
  Let them fall on the pure in heart like dews,
  To strengthen and to nourish all sweet thoughts,
  Raising the drooping and the weary up,
  And adding sweetness to the path of life.
  To all may they be wafted on the wings
  Of love, not the false love that shines alike
  On flower and weed, until the evil rise
  To choke the good seed with its overgrowth;
  But let deep kindness fill them utterly,
  In comfort, or in sorrow, or in doom.

  Hard is their journey, and unsmooth their way
  Who walk like pilgrims to eternal fame,
  Raising for ever hymns of love and beauty,
  Amid the jar and weariness of life,
  Working through joy and sorrow equally
  To stamp their names upon the world's great heart,
  And piercing their own bosoms, like the bird,
  For glowing streams to nourish it for aye.
  Yet it is glorious to make this life
  Great in the strength of Action, till it stand
  A landmark and a guide immoveable,
  To witness of the struggle and the end;
  A life of thought is blossom without fruit.

  O Life! would I could map thy minutes out,
  And give to each its purpose, like a king
  To claim just tribute from futurity;
  Would I could freight ye with such spirit power,
  That, like a huge rock cast into the sea,
  Ye sent Time waving back for evermore;
  Would ye could track your footsteps out in deeds,
  Like prints in the soft sands that heaven's decree
  Changeth into the adamantine rock,
  Till time nor tide can wipe the trace away.
  Let my steps march right onward, pausing none
  For pleasure or for folly, for the path
  Is long, and difficult, and hard to walk,
  And at its limit lies Eternity.
  Let no false weakness clog me in the work,
  And cramp the motions of my willing soul,
  But let me gird my spirit up to run
  Before the chariot of the speeding age,
  A Prophet, and a Poet, and a guide!

  O! my heart thrills to that great watchword "Act,"
  To leave no record written on the sand
  For the first wave to crumble into naught,
  But to materialize on thought--to raise
  A standard glorious with the sign of heaven,
  And set it waving o'er oblivion;
  To seize on spirit like a willow rod,
  And bend and fashion it to perfect use,
  Curbing its wayward fancies and desires,
  Until it sway true to the Poet's creed;
  To move Earth's multitudes with nervous power,
  And burning eloquence, as leaves are swept
  Before the breathing of a mighty wind,
  Urging them on for Truth and Nobleness,
  And leading on the van to show the way--
  No prating coward framing theories
  For other men to build on, with "Do _this_"
  For empty precept--but there, standing forth,
  Set _deeds_ in the world's face, and cry "Do _thus_!"

  The Poet's life is action spiritualized,
  Words sublimate by earnestness and truth
  To the reality and force of deed--
  Falling upon the great world's soul like spells
  That take the reason captive, and subdue
  Its motions to the gentle sway of love.
  His thoughts are like the moonlight that enshrines
  All earth and heaven with beauty and soft grace,
  Pouring rich floods of radiance divine
  O'er life's reality of grief and pain,
  Making e'en sorrow luminous and sweet,
  And freighting sighs with gentlest melody.
  His creed is--Love--Love perfect, uncontrolled;
  Twining round all the good and beautiful,
  As ivy twineth round the sapling oak,
  Evermore growing with its growth more strong,
  Till not e'en Death can tear those arms away;
  Love--winging o'er creation like the morn
  And show'ring light and beauty as it flies
  O'er mountain, vale, and streamlet, equally--
  In flowery mead and desert solitude
  Making itself a presence of delight,
  A radiant glory sweeter than all forms,
  All shows, all substance--rising in the soul,
  Like water in the desert--heaven in death!
  Opening the unseen gates of Heaven, till sense
  Dream of its utter blessedness and peace;
  Leading life onward like an angel pure,
  Through strife and sorrow scatheless and secure,
  Scattering joy around it evermore,
  Like benisons shed from a mother's heart,
  Making the weary and the bruizëd glad,
  Wiping the tears from sorrow's clouded eyes,
  And soothing pain like woman's tenderness.

  Let me love all things with a perfect love,
  That would e'en coin its own heart-drops to pay
  Life's ransom from the bitterness of woe,
  Bear tenderly upon the weaknesses
  Of flesh, and its oft seen infirmities,
  And turn with hope and trustfulness to man;
  Let me not be a stunted thorn on earth,
  With jaggëd points to scare all fondness off,
  Unsweeten'd by a blossom or a bud,
  And branded deep with harsh sterility,
  But like a soft wind breathing to and fro,
  May love and sympathy wave through the Earth.
  Life without love, is sorrow without hope.

  O Love! thou law of Heaven! thou joy of Earth!
  That like the Star of Bethlehem dost rest
  Above the cradle of a Poet's soul,
  The witness and the seal of holy birth;
  Before whose brightness all earth's shadows fade
  Like fiends before the angel of the Lord;
  That rend'st in twain the veil of doubt and fear
  Shrouding the perfectness of heaven's pure bliss,
  Till man may worship with unsmitten soul
  Before the glory of the inner shrine;
  O Love! the Quenchless! Pure! and Beautiful!
  Be to me as the Prophet's cruize of oil,
  That wasteth not, nor minisheth with use,
  To nourish me through this life's famine time,
  And strengthen me unto the poet's work;
  Fold my soul throughly in thy sweet embrace,
  In honour, or in sorrow, or in joy,
  Filling it with thy holy influence,
  As air is filled with sunshine at the noon,
  Till all thought feel its blessedness and peace.
  Thus would I furnish me for life's long march,
  Arm for its dangers, cater for its wants,
  Work out its ends with confidence and truth,
  And rest unstained, unwearied at the goal!



  ALCESTÉ.


  I.

  Beautiful Florence! e'en thy very name
  Falls on the ear with a strange magic spell,
  As though upon the wings of Time there came
  A breathing of sweet chances that befell
  In days of old, all chronicled by Fame,
  Whose faintest whisper makes the bosom swell
  With kindred feelings, as a sea-flower waves
  Concordant to the tale the ripple laves.


  II.

  Thou art entwinëd with all lovely things
  That bind a rosy chaplet round the earth;
  The life of Poets, whose sweet utterings
  Have the soft cadence of an angel's mirth;
  The springs of genius--high imaginings
  That are the wealth of ages, and the birth
  Of Art, beneath whose vivifying wand
  The stone, the canvas, animated, stand.


  III.

  Thy very dust is hallowed, and we tread
  The footsteps of the mighty, meeting ever
  The prized memorials of the Living Dead,
  Those whose sublimëd spirits, waning never,
  Hover around the struggling world and shed
  Their blessings o'er it, which nor time can sever,
  Nor can oblivion crush, but which endure
  Strong in their greatness, in their truth secure.


  IV.

  Would that some faint ray of the heavenly light
  Shower'd on thy children now might rest on me,
  Illume my twilight thoughts and grant me sight
  Into the depths of Nature's poesie;
  And tune my faltering tones to breathe aright
  That which my heart so fondly feels of thee,
  For 'twere a music sweet as heaven's own lays,
  Could love's deep soul be cadenced in thy praise.


  V.

  There was a garden sloping to the west,
  Smooth'd downward from the giant Apennines,
  The serried outlines of whose hoary crest
  Blent with the distant heavens in mystic lines,
  At eventide with golden splendours drest,
  When the red sun its farewell greeting shines;
  A palace topped it, from whose terraced height
  Wound a broad stair of marble, snowy white.


  VI.

  And paths went wandering beneath the sweep
  Of Orange boughs and trelliced vines, whose leaves
  Gave in their parting many a transient peep
  Of the blue sky, as through soft-tinted eaves;
  And oft they led to arbours shaded deep,
  As are the nooks the midway forest weaves,
  And carven forms of nymphs and dryads gleamed
  Through leafy screens, as though a Poet dreamed.


  VII.

  A fountain rippled in the midst, and threw
  Coolness into the sky; the sculptor's thought
  A quaint conceit--Aurora flinging dew
  Upon the earth--the marble finely wrought,
  Till through the Iris-tinted drops it grew
  Warm with existence, all its fair limbs fraught
  With grace and motion--'twas a thing so human,
  The heart forgot the goddess in the woman.


  VIII.

  Beside the marge of this fair fountain stood
  A maiden trancëd with its melting sound,
  For rillet murmurs are to pensive mood
  Sweet as the rain-drops to the thirsty ground.
  Alas! that youth so soon should feel the rude
  And merciless stinging of cold sorrow's wound,
  That Nature's sweetest melodies should gain
  The heart's full rapture through the ear of pain.


  IX.

  She was a maiden, in whose gentle mien
  The spirit mirror'd all its fairest hues,
  As on the undimm'd summer sky serene
  The noonday sun its golden splendour strews;
  Her deep blue eye o'erflowed with tender sheen,
  Like sadness through whose frame soft smiles infuse,
  Whilst on her lip expression rippling lay,
  And limned in silence what the soul would say.


  X.

  Her's was a beauty vivified by grace,
  That made each motion music to the eye,
  Beam'd from the sunny sweetness of her face,
  And tuned her accents all so tenderly,
  That when Alcesté spake the heart could trace
  A woman's spirit full of motions high,
  And kind, and noble, and whose inward bent
  Sway'd to all courses pure and innocent.


  XI.

  There were full many suitors who had sigh'd
  Their amorous orisons before her shrine,
  And with the flutter of a doublet vied
  To win the smile they toasted o'er their wine;
  There were full many who with blinded pride,
  Deem'd that a title could the scale incline,
  And flung their lordships, gauntlet-fashion, down,
  Daring a Cæsar to refuse a crown.


  XII.

  But there was one who loved for love's own sake,
  And treasured its dear sweetness in his breast,
  Whose spirit thrill'd within him when she spake,
  And bowed before her as the flower down-prest
  By her light step, and who could ever make
  A long day happy and a midnight blest
  With brooding on a word, a smile, a glance,
  That haply served to sun love's young romance.


  XIII.

  They had been playmates in gay childhood's days,
  When hearts are open as a summer flower,
  And love had wound them slowly in his maze,
  And knit them close ere yet they felt his power.
  But once a-wandering by green-shaded ways,
  The silence drew their souls out, and that hour,
  Hand clasped in hand, and lip to lip united,
  Their pure young vows of constant love they plighted.


  XIV.

  What spirit fused into the blossom'd spray,
  And wreathed about them in its waving scent?
  What angel echoes tuned the thrushes lay,
  And gave the tones such sudden ravishment?
  For sure they ne'er were sweet as on that day,
  Nor with such magic to the spirit went;
  If it was love, then love is wondrous sweet,
  The point of life where Earth and Heaven meet.


  XV.

  Yet Love but drew the summer clouds away
  That curtain'd heaven from their raptured eyes;
  Still from attainment spread an ocean wide,
  And bade them pause in sight of paradise:
  Her father sternly his fond suit denied,
  Nor soften'd to his prayers, nor heard his sighs;
  So Julian shrined her image in his soul,
  Till happier fortune brought them sweeter dole.


  XVI.

  Now at Verona sojourn'd he a space,
  Dreaming of her, as he must everywhere;
  Unconscious of the woes that grew apace,
  And soon might drive his spirit to despair;
  Unconscious that his love in grief's embrace
  Cradled her panting soul, nigh dead with care,
  And wept at noontide, wept at dewy eve,
  Till e'en the light that saw her seem'd to grieve.


  XVII.

  There was a suitor, who with crooked frame
  Crawled in the race for beauty; thither prest,
  Not 'fore the gaze of heaven, but as in shame
  Hid he the purpose in his own dark breast,
  And serpented his motions to his aim,
  Like one who stabs a victim in his rest;
  For still the heart must feel in its calm time,
  That to crush love's true spirit is a crime.


  XVIII.

  One midnight gather'd round the fatal board
  Where wealth's death rattle echoes in the dice,
  Her sire, Amieri, with some others pored
  In full abstraction of the cursëd vice.
  Each golden piece raked from his precious hoard,
  Froze the vext heart-pulse of the wretch like ice.
  There was no sound save the cold ring of gold,
  That broke the stillness as a knell had toll'd.


  XIX.

  Amieri staked, and lost, and staked again,
  Drawn, fascinated, to his ruin fast,
  Imploring fortune to his aid in vain,
  Till, desperate, he staked all on one cast,
  And lost--was ruined--and fell down as slain,
  Life, fortune, seeming at a moment past,
  Like gambling pledges raked from Earth's rich hoard
  By Death's strong hand, whose gains are ne'er restored.


  XX.

  Better if he had staked upon a throw
  His honour and his daughter openly,
  And thus like some fell fiend at one swift blow
  Sunk all he loved in utter misery,
  Than yielding unto calculation slow,
  Consent to blast them, and a witness be
  While sorrow sapped the vigour of her frame,
  And with her weakness stronger grew his shame;


  XXI.

  For in the morning the betrayer rose,
  The crippled Pietro, the false lover, and
  With honied phrases, and well studied shows,
  Sought from Amieri poor Alcesté's hand,
  Whilst for his "intercession" he bestows
  Full restitution of his wealth and land;
  Fortune and Honour, fronted, held the field--
  Ah! poor Alcesté, why did honour yield!


  XXII.

  Amieri humbled like a guilty thing
  Beneath shame's level, tremblingly agreed,
  And sought by torture of the mind to wring
  Her sad consent to save him in his need,
  Falsehood and art together minist'ring,
  To soften her weak heart, and gild the deed;
  By prayers he moved her, and by childish tears,
  And fann'd into fierce flame her woman's fears,


  XXIII.

  Till she, poor fluttering dove, mesh'd in the net,
  Panted with bitter anguish and dismay,
  By love and fear so grievously beset,
  That each would draw her on a diff'rent way.
  Her tears at night the sleepless pillow wet,
  And coursed along her pallid cheeks by day,
  Making life weary, sad, and full of woe,
  Her hopes of bliss and rapture shatter'd so.


  XXIV.

  When did a woman's spirit true and sweet,
  E'er close its issues against pity's cry,
  E'er hold the field for self without defeat,
  Nor yield to prayer, though yielding were to die!
  And so she trembled to this calm retreat,
  To weep her bitter doom forth silently,
  Where in the sadness of the fountain's tone,
  She heard a gentle echo of her own.


  XXV.

  A feeble step trail'd o'er the gravell'd way,
  At which she thrill'd and turned in sudden fright,
  Whilst in her eyes there shot a fitful ray,
  That scorched the tears up with its flashing light.
  He was a weak old man, and time's decay
  Stood on his brow and thin locks snowy white,
  And trembling hands that shook upon his staff,
  As though, alive, they wrote their epitaph.


  XXVI.

  Slowly he came, reading with anxious eyes
  The thoughts that flicker'd on Alcesté's mien,
  Veiling dishonour under Virtue's guise,
  And avarice as though 'twere sorrow keen;
  And still 'mid tears, and groans, and piping sighs,
  He querulled forth his plaints the space between,
  "Must thy poor father beg so near the grave,
  "Be not so cruel--O! my daughter--save!"


  XXVII.

  "Sir!" softly said she, while the colour fled
  From her smooth cheeks till they grew ashy pale,
  "Cast off your mourning features--I will wed
  "Though Death should be the bridegroom, and not quail;
  "The sorrows of our house be on my head;
  "What though a woman's--'tis no novel tale,--
  "Within her _weakness_ does my comfort lie,
  "For if the storm be sore, the _flower_ will die.


  XXVIII.

  "Think not, sir," she said on with noble scorn,
  "This husband of your choosing loses aught
  "In that the world doth know him basely born,
  "And with a shrine that fits the inner thought;
  "Think not a silly woman's heart will mourn
  "A shape in Nature's merry moments wrought,
  "Or weep the finding of each broad defect,
  "Or wish the form less wry or more erect.


  XXIX.

  "No! sir! each twisted joint will be my pride,
  "The blazon of my fortunes to the crowd,
  "Till envy shall pursue the happy bride
  "Sworn to a lord with graces so endowed;
  "And fame shall bear his virtues far and wide,
  "And trumpet them unto the world aloud;
  "Then let them say--'Ah! she is over-bought;
  "'He is a jewel rare, and she is naught'!


  XXX.

  "But, sir, although I would not have men hold
  "My love won by his merits or his charms,
  "This tongue shall ne'er the bitter truth unfold,
  "Though falsehood soil me with its sneering harms;
  "'Tis meet to _you_ the secret should be told,
  "But henceforth a stern law my grief disarms;
  "Pray heaven, sir, that your conscience may be dumb,
  "And his, as my lips for the time to come!"


  XXXI.

  Thus far her woman's indignation ran,
  Roused into conflict by the cruel wrong,
  Standing erect before that crouching man,
  Weak in his shame--she in her virtue strong;
  Whilst on her quivering lips and cheeks so wan,
  Reproach and scorn alternate coursed along--
  But to her heart the silence went, and then
  She swept past in her gentleness again,


  XXXII.

  The tresses rustling on her neck, and she
  A woman meek and tender as a dove,
  Yet to her full heart stricken utterly;
  And as she went, her moist eyes turn'd above,
  Sighing, "Poor Julian, heaven have care of thee,
  "And grant thee mercy for thy hapless love!"
  She said no more, but 'twas a piteous thing
  To see a helpless maid so sorrowing.


  XXXIII.

  She wept her tears full out, for on the day
  That was to make her bride, the lids were bare;
  And such cold sternness on her lips did stay,
  It seemed as though a smile had ne'er been there.
  They clad her graceful form in white array,
  And twined sweet blossoms with her golden hair,
  And made her lovely who must still be so
  E'en 'mid despair, and tears, and cruel woe.


  XXXIV.

  He darken'd by her side with honied smile,
  And fawning courtesy, and limping stride,
  Showing to those who knew the heart, more vile
  The baseness that his gilding sought to hide;
  But she went on unmoved, and stood the while
  Still as a marble statue at his side;
  Certes, a terror o'er the spirit crept,
  It had been mercy had the lady wept.


  XXXV.

  Julian heard it, and with passion burning
  Sped he to Florence--to the spoiler's den,
  Knock'd at the portals, and the lacqueys spurning,
  Rush'd into presence of the guilty men,
  Father and husband from the church returning,
  Alcesté standing by them--paler then,
  She thrill'd as though she would have fled to him,
  Then calm'd again to stone in every limb.


  XXXVI.

  He said--"Alcesté!"--he said nothing more,
  But gazed a space into her melting eyes
  So woefully, her poor heart flutter'd sore,
  Like a caged lark that thrills to mount the skies.
  He said, "Is this the bliss we pictured o'er?
  "Is this the rapture, this the Paradise?
  "O perjured vows! O cruel love!" he said,
  "Thus at a blow to strike hope's spirit dead."


  XXXVII.

  He said, "Shame on a venal love like thine,
  "That barters truth for every gilded toy;
  "Shame on the heart that kneels at mammon's shrine,
  "There calmly immolates another's joy;
  "Shame on the tongue that breathes in tones divine
  "Sweet vows, that on the fond soul never cloy,
  "Then with their echoes faded scarce away,
  "The victim of their magic can betray!"


  XXXVIII.

  "Shame on thee, false Alcesté, most of all;
  "Shame on thy gentle face, so frank and fair;
  "Shame on thy tender eyes, whose light did fall
  "Softly upon the soul, like blessings there;
  "Shame on thy voice, so low and musical;
  "Shame on the clusters of thy golden hair;
  "Shame on them that make thee so bright and sweet,
  "Yet but an angel-temple for deceit!"


  XXXIX.

  She stood stone still, and answer'd ne'er a word,
  Though sore the taunts went stabbing through her breast;
  But her heart beat till it could nigh be heard,
  Amid the silence of her breath supprest,
  And through her frame a fitful tremor stirr'd,
  Like a bowed willow trembling in its rest.
  And then he turn'd him to the speechless twain,
  With looks of bitter anger and disdain.


  XL.

  "Sirs! Ye are noble warriors in good sooth,
  "With bearing worthy of so fair a cause;
  "Spoilers of love, and constancy, and truth,
  "And laurelled by a sordid world's applause!
  "Curses upon ye and your gilded ruth,
  "Whom pity nor remorse could ever pause;
  "Curses upon ye, deep as your own shame,
  "Deep as your fiendish hearts themselves could frame."


  XLI.

  Again he turned to her with softened feeling,
  "Dear shattered idol of this heart" he cried,
  "I cannot curse _thee_, e'en thou art sealing
  "The cruel doom that bans me from thy side.
  "No! No! a blessing from my soul is stealing,
  "Nerved by a power that will not be denied,
  "So be thou blessëd, charm'd against all evil,
  "An angel still, though wedded to a devil."


  XLII.

  She answer'd ne'er a word, but stood stone still,
  Fetter'd as 'twere within some horrid trance,
  Alive to torture and to deadly ill,
  Yet powerless of a word, a sigh, a glance;
  But when he fled at last, a mortal thrill
  Shot cold and icy through her like a lance,
  And down she swoon'd, without a word or tear;
  It made those guilty men grow pale with fear.


  XLIII.

  They bore her, stirless, to her snowy nest,
  Stirless, they laid her there as cold as lead,
  All in her stainless bridal garments drest,
  With fragrant blossoms circled round her head.
  They laid their hands upon her dewy breast,
  And trembled back as those who touch the dead;
  They wiped the dew from off her clammy brow,
  And shudder'd, 'twas so cold and passive now.


  XLIV.

  Vainly they pierced the fair and rounded arm,
  No crimson stream gush'd o'er its spotless snow;
  Vainly they sought the frozen heart to warm,
  And bid its chill'd and torpid currents flow;
  Vainly they practised every learnëd charm
  To call into the veins life's ruddy glow;
  Stirless, they laid her on that bridal bed,
  Stirless, she lay, all life and motion fled.


  XLV.

  The life-long night they watched and laboured there,
  With fearful whispers pulsing on the ear,
  The trembling women gasping many a prayer,
  Wrung by a rustle, freighted up with fear,
  Till morning came, and with it came despair,
  So still she lay, so icy cold and sere;
  And silently and slow they crept away,
  With bated breath as though she slumb'ring lay.


  XLVI.

  They 'lumed pale torches at her moveless feet,
  That flung grey shadows round the ghostly room,
  And ofttimes misty clouds of incense sweet
  Went wreathing upward through the death-like gloom;
  There was no sound, not e'en a faint heart-beat,
  But all was silent as it were Death's tomb,
  And from without the breezes as they drave,
  Sigh'd low and sad like mourners o'er a grave.


  XLVII.

  The maiden lay there beautiful and pure,
  As one that slept and sunn'd her soul in heaven,
  From every chance of grief and pain secure,
  Sublimed from every taint of earthly leaven;
  Her placid bosom through white vestiture
  Shone soft and holy, that poor breast so riven,
  And her small hands prest gently as in prayer,
  Breath'd from the Earth to Heaven, and ended there.


  XLVIII.

  They came with stilly tread and panting breath,
  And softly laid her on the narrow bier,
  A lovely sleeper in the arms of death,
  Unruffled by a dream or chilly fear,
  As some fair child that sweetly slumbereth
  Upon the bosom of her mother dear.
  They bore the dead forth over flowers to rest,
  Whose living feet on cruel thorns had prest.


  XLIX.

  He, crooked though in frame, in spirit more,
  Went by her now as erst he did in life,
  A slayer, watching whilst they slowly bore
  The helpless victim of his unseen knife;
  And sorrow for a mask he broadly wore,
  To cloak the guilt that in his heart was rife.
  Woe to thee, base heart, from the lids that weep!
  Woe to thee, base heart, from the eyes that sleep!


  L.

  There was a vault within whose stifling maw
  Lay many a scion of Amieri's race,
  Crumbling to dust beneath Death's sapping thaw,
  That still melts down mortality apace;
  And round the fastness distillations raw
  Moulder'd the stones with damp and hideous trace;
  And here they laid her beautiful and pure,
  From every chance of grief and pain secure.


  LI.

  Close in their cold and narrow coffins pent,
  Around her lay ancestral ashes heaped,
  That through the dank and clammy darkness sent
  Currents in foul and noxious vapours steeped;
  And loudly through the gloomy stillness went
  The oozy plashes from the roof that dripped,
  Marking the minutes as they slid away,
  With slimy tokens of the frame's decay.


  LII.

  The rank air slumber'd deep on midnight wings,
  Dead as the dead that fester'd 'neath its shade,
  Hush'd from those low and fearful whisperings,
  That make the living pallid and afraid,
  Till nigh amid its awful shadowings,
  The cerements silver'd round the hapless maid,
  As might a lucent gem with radiance glow,
  Caught from the brightness of the soul below.


  LIII.

  Soh! 'tis a sigh--low drawn and very faint,
  A spirit stirring 'mid the slumb'ring dead,
  Bodiless, homeless, breathing forth its plaint,
  Nor yet from life and its sad memories fled.
  Soh! it comes swooning through the air so taint
  Acute and clear as ever arrow sped;
  Ah! miserere for the hapless soul,
  That from the shores of death thus wafts its dole.


  LIV.

  Soh! the soft raising of a white clad arm--
  Are holy angels bearing her away?
  Ave Maria! shield thy child from harm,
  And guard her from this mansion of decay!
  Soh! how the lady trembles with alarm,
  How wildly round the cave her glances stray,
  Until amid the torpid gloom they die
  Of space deep darken'd to immensity.


  LV.

  With frenzied strength from off her naked feet,
  She tore the linen fetters they had bound,
  And mantled closely in white winding sheet,
  The maiden slid upon the icy ground;
  With tottering steps that terror rendered fleet,
  And trembling hands she traced the vault around,
  Stumbling o'er rotten shells whose prison'd bones
  Rattled beneath her touch with hollow groans.


  LVI.

  Her palm grew clammy with the slimy ooze
  That fester'd on the walls in sick'ning streams,
  As on the pallid brow Death's icy dews
  Gather, the presage of corruption's seams;
  Pale horror every sound and motion glues,
  So corpse-like all around the dungeon seems;
  But on--and a low portal met her hand,
  By iron staunchions in quaint tracings spann'd.


  LVII.

  And so escaping from her death-like swoon,
  Forth sped she to the clear and healthful air,
  Fearing her shadow which the orbëd moon
  Flung darkly on the moss-enwoven stair;
  And her white feet, used to the silken shoon,
  Chilled 'neath the stone so comfortless and bare,
  Falling unechoed as she sped away,
  Wing'd with the strength of wonder and dismay.


  LVIII.

  Amid her loosen'd hair the night-breeze play'd,
  And sent it waving wildly o'er her breast,
  Until the snowy lawn with golden braid
  In soft and waving traceries seemed drest.
  And as she sped along a muffled shade
  Still at her side o'er tombs and grasses prest,
  As though insatiate Death in discontent
  Pursuing his escapëd victim went.


  LIX.

  Ah! whither shall she flee, poor hapless thing,
  To find a rest more blissful than the grave,
  For what sweet haven spread her weary wing,
  To nestle from the foam of sorrow's wave?
  The midnight winds are sadly whispering,
  And coldly on her beating temples lave;
  Yes!--on--an iron law is in her soul,
  Peace! trembling heart, brave not its stern controul.


  LX.

  Weary and trembling tarried she at last
  Before her bridal home, with fitful cries,
  Till on the crooked Pietro limping past
  The buried voice in trembling accents sighs.
  The portal opens--but the wretch, aghast,
  Before that white-draped phantom, livid, flies
  As slayer 'fore his risen victim might,
  Smitten with guilty terror at the sight.


  LXI.

  Woe to thee, coward, in thy secret places!
  Woe to thee in the daylight haunts of men!
  Cold terror wrap thee in his close embraces,
  And bear thee shrieking to his haunted den.
  Circle thy midnight couch with vengeful faces,
  And conscience torture beyond mortal ken;
  Ave Maria! blessings on the maid
  All in the moonlight at thy portal laid.


  LXII.

  Vainly she calls for help in fainting tones,
  Only the watchful echoes heed the sound,
  Respondless bearing on her hapless moans,
  Fainter and fainter o'er the moonlit ground--
  On--on--she hurries o'er the flinty stones,
  Like spirit on some dreadful mission bound;
  And from that guilty threshold as she stept,
  The grave clothes off her trembling footprints swept.


  LXIII.

  She sank nigh dead with weariness and fear
  Before the dwelling of her early youth,
  Breathing forth saddest sighs which but to hear
  Might melt the heart with tenderness and ruth.
  She lay there like a bud which tempests drear
  Nip in its spring time with remorseless tooth;
  Ah! sure a father's heart will tender be,
  Nor close its issues 'gainst her utterly.


  LXIV.

  Amieri wander'd through his gloomy halls
  With restless steps and vacant rolling eyne,
  Whilst from each wide spread casement down there falls
  Upon his blanchëd locks the moon's pale sheen,
  As though a voice within him ever calls,
  And bids him follow some old form unseen;
  She lies upon your threshold, weak old man--
  Up! take her to your arms while yet you can!


  LXV.

  Faint sighs come to him on the sleep-hush'd air,
  That swell to thunder in his timid breast,
  Rooted he gazes out with glazëd stare
  At his poor murder'd child in grave clothes drest;
  "My Father!" cried she in her chill despair,
  With palms together in mute anguish prest--
  "Hence! hence! avenging spirit, haunt me not!"
  He cried, then totter'd from the fearful spot.


  LXVI.

  She rose and fled in terror through the night,
  All witless whither her weak steps might stray,
  As some freed bird first wings its rapid flight
  From its close prison to the realms of day;
  But on a sudden beam'd an inward light
  Upon her troubled soul and bid her stay,
  With the warm blood sent swiftly to her cheeks,
  The trace that signals when the fond heart speaks.


  LXVII.

  She thought of Julian--he so kind and true,
  And how they gladden'd in the times gone by;
  She thought how he had stolen her love's young dew,
  And fused into her heart so tenderly,
  Until beneath affection's power, they grew
  Together knit in one sweet unity;
  And now poor maid, by kith and kin forsaken,
  Unto _his_ heart she felt she would be taken.


  LXVIII.

  O blessed power of Love! that still can keep
  A quiet haven for the weary soul,
  When o'er the sea of life grief-tempests sweep,
  And surging billows o'er contentment roll;
  And thither though Affliction's cloud be deep
  The heart steers true beneath its sweet controul!
  To him, the loved, the lost, thus basely spurned,
  She fled a prisoner from Death's chains return'd.


  LXIX.

  Sigh for the heart that follows to the grave
  The perish'd idol of its summer dreams!
  Sigh for the heart that powerless all to save,
  Sees its sweet treasure gulph'd in sorrow's streams;
  And joys that ivy-like around it clave,
  Nipp'd of their blossoms, shorn of their warm beams!
  So Julian follow'd from afar her bier,
  With many a sigh, with many a bitter tear.


  LXX.

  Within the stillness of his chamber, he
  Open'd the flood-gates of his chill despair,
  Darkening the midnight with deep misery,
  Freighting the moments all with heavy care,
  Weeping for her he loved so utterly,
  Whose presence only made existence fair,
  His pallid face sunk in the outspread palms,
  Moist with the dew that her dear loss embalms.


  LXXI.

  Soft through the lattice steals a gentle voice,
  Breathing his name in accents faint and weak,
  Tones that in past days made his soul rejoice,
  And now send crimson currents to his cheek.
  "Dear vision," said he, "of long cherish'd joys!
  "That now so sweetly in my soul dost speak,
  "Fade not away, but like a fixëd star,
  "Shine on my spirit from thy heavens afar.


  LXXII.

  "Oh! thou art lovely in thy radiant sphere,
  "As thou wert once, the day-star of my heart,
  "Revealing ever shadowless and clear
  "The blessed rays that in thy spirit start.
  "O light! O life! O angels hovering near!
  "Pity us, sunder'd thus so far apart."
  Upon her love the maid imploring cries--
  Awaken, Julian, or thy loved one dies!


  LXXIII.

  He rose, and to the lattice trancëd went,
  Where through the opened eaves the moonlight fell,
  And to his tearful glances downward bent,
  Show'd that dear form, loved and remember'd well.
  Gazed he in fond and loving wonderment,
  As one who slumbers under Fancy's spell,
  On his beloved in cerements snowy white,
  All in the moonrays pictured there so bright.


  LXXIV.

  "Dream of my soul!" he said, "thus softly stealing
  "From thine empyrean o'er my aching sense,
  "Pouring thy balm on my pierced heart, and healing
  "Cold sorrow's wounds with ravishment intense;
  "Fold still thy wings, and thus in light revealing
  "Thine angel charms, flee ne'er away from hence."
  Still on his name she call'd with swooning sighs,
  And hands convulsive prest, and upturn'd eyes.


  LXXV.

  "It is my love," he said, "by death set free
  "From cruel bonds that sever'd our true vows,
  "Thus from the piteous tomb return'd to me,
  "In white array with blossoms on her brows.
  "Ah! blessed is love's immortality,
  "That e'en the grave with softest charms endows;
  "And blessed thou, mine own, alive or dead,
  "That to this yearning heart once more hast fled.


  LXXVI.

  Entrancëd still he wander'd to the gate,
  Where stood Alcesté in sad weary plight,
  Sore press'd with sentience of her hapless fate,
  Weeping, nigh hopeless, in the pale moonlight.
  Tarried he there in strange delicious strait,
  Lapt in the wonder of his dreaming sight;
  Then opening wide his arms in raptured prayer,
  Her gentle spirit swoon'd and nestled there.


  LXXVII.

  O Paradise! to waken from a dream,
  A sleep-revealment of delights, and find
  The rosy fancies, beauteous though they seem,
  Reality, and in our fond arms twined;
  Truth haloed by imagination's beam,
  And heaven and earth in one sweet birth combined.
  Thus Julian gazed upon her fainting form,
  Robed for the grave yet with existence warm.


  LXXVIII.

  He bore her as a mother bears a child
  Within the cradle of her tender breast,
  His throbbing heart, 'twixt hope and fear nigh wild,
  With that dear lifeless form against it prest,
  Like some bright angel beautiful and mild,
  Sunk in the calmness of Elysian rest.
  Upon her lips he breath'd his soul away,
  Whilst she in stilly swoon Joy's prisoner lay.


  LXXIX.

  Slowly she oped her silken-lidded eyes,
  As night steals from the virgin blue of morn,
  Gazing on him she loved, in sweet surprise,
  Thus tenderly within his bosom borne;
  Whilst clouded Memory through old time flies,
  Sinking where she from that dear breast was torn.
  Ah! blessed future never snatch her thence,
  But sun the visions of her innocence.


  LXXX.

  Report ran through the city that the maid
  Ransom'd from Death's cold grasp had happily been,
  And, in the moonlight, no unhousell'd shade
  Those fearful, conscience-stricken men had seen;
  Till they in day-born confidence array'd,
  Followed in quest, like blood-hounds swift and keen,
  Tracking love's footsteps out with cruel art,
  To its sweet resting place within the heart.


  LXXXI.

  They came to Julian, and with honied guise
  Flatter'd him to restore the risen maid;
  Seek ye to charm the eagle of his prize,
  Within his eyrie on the mountain laid;
  But Love, more strong, all sapping art defies,
  Nor ever from its fixëd trust is sway'd!
  They came with arms, they came with vengeful threats,
  Poor fluttering dove! what danger thee besets.


  LXXXII.

  Before the Father of the Church they went
  With humble suit, with supplications strong,
  Revenge and lust confirming their intent,
  And like foul magic drawing them along.
  Ave Maria! save the innocent,
  Nor let firm judgment minister to wrong,
  Warping the tenor of the righteous laws,
  To aid oppression and a hollow cause.


  LXXXIII.

  It was decreed that she who thus had been
  Parted from all earth's cares and sympathies,
  Wafted by prayer into a fairer scene,
  As one who in pure penitency dies,
  Thence drew new birthright from that air serene
  To ransom her from antenatal ties.
  Rejoice, Alcesté, twice from Death thou'rt free!
  Rejoice, O Julian! life is brought to thee.


  LXXXIV.

  Sweet are the joys that follow on despair,
  Like sunrays kissing noontide mists away,
  Leaving the unveil'd summer skies more fair
  For the deep shades that on their brightness lay.
  And love's sweet firmament dispell'd of care,
  Rivals the glories of its early day,
  Sunning their progress down life's troubled stream,
  Wrapt in each other, pillow'd in a dream.



  PYGMALION.


  PART I.

  THE MAN.

      In the blue Ægean is Cyprus,
      Set in the midst of the waters
  Like a starry isle in the ocean of heaven.
      The waters ripple around it
      With soft and luminous motion,
        Strewing the silvery sands
      With shells amaranthine, and flowers
  Borne from amid the white coral stems,
  Like off'rings of peace from the ocean.

      Amid it riseth Olympus,[A]
      Stately and grand as the throne of the gods,
  And the island sleeps 'neath its shadow
  Like a fair babe 'neath the care of its father.
      Streams clear as the diamond
      Evermore wander around it,
  Like the vein'd tide through our members,
  Quick with the blessings of beauty,
  And health and verdurous pleasure,
      Filling with yellow sheaves
    And plenty the bosom of Ceres;
  Calling forth flowers from the slumbering Earth,
    Like thoughts from the dream of a Poet,
  Till the island throughout is a garden,
  The child and the plaything of summer.

    [A] The principal mountain of Cyprus was thus named.

    In luscious clusters the fruit hangs
    In the sunshine, melting away
      From sweetness to sweetness.
    The grapes clust'ring 'mid leaves,
    That give their bright hue to the eye
      Like the setting of rubies.
  The nectarines and the pomegranates
    Glowing with crimson ripeness,
  And the orange trees with their blossoms
  Yielding sweet odour to every breeze,
      As the incense flows from the censer.

  The air is languid with pleasure and love,
  Lulling the sense to dreams Elysian,
    Making life seem a glorious trance,
    Full of bright visions of heaven,
    Safe from the touch of reality,
    Toil none--woe none--pain,
  Wild and illusive as sleep-revelations.
  Time to be poured like wine from a chalice
      Sparkling and joyous for aye,
    Drained amid mirth and music,
      The brows circled with ivy,
    And the goblet at last like a gift
      Thrust in the bosom of slumber.

      Thus are the people of Cyprus;
  Young men and old making holiday,
      Decking them daintily forth
      In robes of Sidonian purple:
  The maidens all beauteous but wanton,
      Foolishly flinging youth's gifts,
    Its jewels--its richest adornment,
    Like dross on the altar of pleasure;
      Letting the worm of mortality
    Eat out their hearts till they bear
    Only the semblance of angels.

  Amongst them like a gaunt and gnarlëd oak
  Waving majestic o'er a pigmy race,
  Pygmalion was; for by the mete of soul
  Man ranges in the phalanx of his age.
  His heart was like an ocean, tremulous
  With radiant aspirations and high thoughts
  That fretted ever on mortality,
  Wearing life out with passion and desire,
  Struggling against the limits of the flesh,
  The bonds and shackles of the Possible,
  That bound him, like Prometheus, to the dust,
  And clogg'd the upward winging of his soul.
  He walk'd 'mongst men like one who felt the strength
  Of nobler nature swelling in his breast,
  Eternal breathings fanning the Divine
  Within him into flame and utterance.
  He spake not much, for that his heaving thoughts
  Yearn'd vainly for the living fire of heaven
  To burn them through the soul-core of the Time;
  But in the inner man the tumult sped
  In burning currents, like the ruddy streams
  From every pulse-beat of his o'er-fraught heart.
  His soul hung in an atmosphere of grace,
  And beauty, midway betwixt earth and heaven,
  Revolving, like the moon through azure space,
  Mid starry fancies and faint orbëd dreams,
  That made bright land-marks in the spirit's flight.
  Faint glimmerings of loveliness untold
  Flash'd ever on him in his solitudes,
  Luring him on to search and far pursuit
  Through empyrean altitudes of thought,
  Sped onward by the god-like thirst to grasp
  The spiritual, and with creative hand
  Mould it to corporal reality.
  Love was his guiding star--his bright ideal
  Shining above all visions and all dreams,
  As doth the Pole-star o'er the icy North;
  Love in its broad and fineless empery
  Ruling, directing all by right divine,
  Pressing its seal of vassalage on thought,
  And crushing passion with relentless heel;
  Love--the refiner, whose alchymic art
  Transmuteth very dross to purest gold,
  Passing emotion through the furnace heat
  That scorcheth up its perishable frame,
  And yields the essence purified for Act.
  The soul that wanders like the mission'd dove
  Along the chaos waste of boundless thought,
  Must have some ark to nestle in on Earth,
  And shelter from the endless Undefined.
  So to Eve's daughters would Pygmalion seek,
  Won by sweet hopes and promises of good
  And beauty, such as emblem'd to him still
  The end accomplish'd of aspiring thirst--
  Essence and grace materialized. In them
  He saw the sum of Nature's perfectness,
  The acmè of idealism reach'd:
  Fair forms, smooth with the ruddy glow of health,
  And ripening time, whose every motion seemed
  The wak'ning of ethereal gracefulness
  To life, and on whose lineaments the light
  Of a seraphic imagery play'd;
  Forms lithe and rounded by the art of youth
  To be the shrines of spirit excellence,
  And hold the fusion of immortal grace
  Unblemish'd by corporeal defect.
  What found he then? Flower-wreathëd chalices
  Tinted with rosy dyes, bright elegance
  Of shape and garniture, but brimming up
  Draughts bitter to the taste and nauseous.
  He gazed upon their beauty, which his soul
  In thought had dower'd with purity and truth,
  As from the inward reflex of itself;
  But, gazing, all his visions pass'd away,
  And cold reality rose death-like up
  To mow the aureate blossoms from his soul.

  In Amathus the chill grey morning dawn'd
  That woke him to truth's ruggedness, and left
  Life struggling, joyless, sunless, to its goal.
  Woman stood forth before him beautiful,
  But mocking heaven with a shameless brow,
  Wearing foul lewdness like a victor's crown,
  And dashing virtue's elixir away.
  From the deep fountains of her eyes there flow'd
  No lucid streams of holiness and love,
  But lust and utter wantonness, that fill'd
  The heart with loathing, fraught with death to Hope.
  Her crimson lips shed forth no silvery strains
  Of gentleness and peace to hymn life's bark
  Across the heaving waters of this Time,
  But folly and discordant revelry
  Sounded around her evermore, and woo'd
  To sin and shame with notes once toned for heaven.
  No Priestess she of lovely innocence,
  Stoled for the work with beauty nigh divine,
  But, warping all her natal destiny,
  Prostrate she lay before the shrine of vice,
  Yielding herself a living sacrifice
  To the deep blasting of the idol's breath.

  The heart clings fondly to the last faint hope
  That bindeth still the once dear to its love,
  Rejecting credence whilst a doubt remains,
  And so Pygmalion. Thought he, 'tis a phase
  Through which her soul doth pass, like rippling streams
  That filter for a space through earth's deep pores,
  Emerging thence more pure and bright than erst,
  And set himself with patient love to watch
  The giddy current of her blinded soul,
  For the subsidence of its troubled waves.

  It came not; till his spirit sick'ning o'er,
  Pour'd forth its bitterness and wounded sense.
  "Oh! living lie! truth's outward counterfeit!
  Fair masquerade of virtue's unknown charms!
  Thou too hast perish'd from my trusting soul;
  Thy beauty yet endureth, the fair sweep
  Of limb and rounded form, such as my art
  Can yield the senseless marble; but the soul
  That made the work of heaven stand forth alone,
  So peerless in its radiant loveliness,
  Hath perished 'neath mortality's cold grasp,
  And yielded up the patent of its charm.
  Henceforth I can compete with Heaven, and fill
  My world with bright creations as its own,
  Unmarr'd by inner loathsomeness and sin,
  That rushing through its pulses like a blight
  Make beauty hideous. Thou, my soul, return,
  Sit on thy throne, and with creative might
  People thy kingdom with a beauteous race,
  Fair form'd, and nobly featured, and the life
  Set undulating on the Parian,
  Whom viewing, thou may'st cry with lofty joy,
  'Behold the life without its baser part.'
  O Beauty! I have loved thee with full heart,
  Follow'd thy shadowy guidance as the cloud
  Sails at the unseen steering of the wind;
  Sought thee in Heaven and Earth and Nature all,
  Led by supreme adorings and desires,
  Till by communion with thy perfect soul,
  Mine hath grown wise, in measure, to discern.
  Not now can I be satiate with grace
  That gildeth but the superficial frame
  With the false tissue of deep-seeming life;
  The searching knife must pierce into the heart,
  And shew a frame veined with the same warm stream
  That melts in blushes on the downy cheek.
  My bright ideal, like the bow of heaven,
  Hath faded into nothingness, and made
  A blank upon the clouded sky of life.
  Can my soul live and love not?

                                  "I will call
  Art my divinity, and bid her frame
  New joys to cherish such as Earth hath not
  Create by natural developement;
  Nature shall be my monitress, and teach
  The chisel knowledge of all loveliness,
  That wrought upon the snowy Parian,
  Shall give investiture of life's pure part,
  Grace, ease, and motion's unexerted power.
  Better no soul than one debauched and foul,
  And shaming beauty with eternal blots;
  Therefore my creature shall be beautiful
  With all that makes up woman's excellence;
  Youth's bloom imprinted on her gentle charms,
  And tenderness set playing on her lips,
  Whilst round her gracious presence for a robe
  Shall float the vesture of pure modesty;
  A woman, she, save in the fallen soul,
  A spotless angel framed, but spiritless;
  This being shall I mould, and with my love
  Animate to ideal consciousness,
  Then let her sisterhood pass humbled on,
  Unheeded in the depth of my content."


  PART II.

  THE WORKER.

  Forth went he from the ebb and flow of men,
  Whose busy vortex drowneth quiet thought,
  To hold communion with wise Nature's soul
  In solitude. Amongst lone woods he roamed,
  Listing the murmurs of the swaying boughs
  That quivered with the spirit of the breeze,
  Threading their archëd aisles with solemn heart,
  And hiving in his soul a myriad thoughts
  That fell unseen upon him. Oft he stood
  On mountain fronts, and gazed long hours away,
  Tracing the sweep of hill and dale, now veined
  With glistening waters, and now dark with groves,
  Still changing till sight lost identity,
  And the ideal and the real met.
  He saw the sun enter the golden gates
  Of Night, that closed upon his radiant path,
  And left Earth wondering; and star by star
  Unlid their shining orbs, and o'er heaven's plain
  Wheel their bright cars to greet him in the East.
  He saw the morn break beautiful and pure,
  Like virgin from her slumbers, and robe earth
  In dewy brightness, cresting the far hills
  With glorious halos of oncoming day.
  All loveliness of earth and sky he sought,
  And pondered with a heart attent to learn,
  Knowing that Beauty, like a parent stream,
  Is nourished by each trickling rill that flows
  Into it; and the soul that would be apt
  To work its highest counsels out, must toil
  Through long apprentice-ship to mastery,
  By units gath'ring fitness for the whole.

  Thus did he, till with spirit brimming up
  With glorious inspiration, he returned,
  And set the god-like in him to create;
  His swelling soul grew patient to the work,
  Wise with the sense of innate potency,
  And on the shapeless marble still he wrought
  With faith and firm assurance.
                                  Many came
  Amid their aimless wanderings, and stood
  Beside that quiet worker, wondering
  At the majestic purpose on his brow,
  And vapouring forth their self-important views,
  That turned his course as little as the air
  Swerveth the eagle in his lightning flight.
  Many applauded with patronic warmth
  And empty commendation, and no scorn
  Curled his proud lip, not one defiant word
  Echoed their nothings into transient life.
  But as the marble grew beneath his hands
  To shape and comeliness, his soul-deep eyes
  Flashed with the joy of high accomplishment,
  And scanned each valiant critic with a glance
  That sifted all his littleness away.

  Thus did he till his work stood perfected,
  A woman beautiful with youth and grace,
  But like a Vestal singled from her sex
  To show the beauty of pure innocence.
  Her form was such as rapt Endymion
  Saw on the heights of Latmos when he slept
  And dreamed Heaven down to him. A glorious shape
  That to the brightness of ethereal charms
  Join'd the familiar sweetness of a maid;
  A soft clear forehead circled by the light
  That heaven sets lambent on its imaged self;
  A face that beaming on the heart of man
  As by a silent teaching in the sense
  Makes goodness natural. Upon each limb
  Grace laid its sweet commandment lovingly,
  Whilst the fair bosom glowed with tenderness,
  As from the fulness of a soul beneath,
  Woman's divinest attribute possessed
  Unsullied and entire; and through the frame
  And every feature radiating went
  A lovely sense of gentleness and love.

    Bright is the summer of Cyprus,
    Undimm'd the skies and clear,
    Blue and clear as a maiden's eyes
    That loves and hath never felt sadness.
    Then, Time is a sunlit river
    Flowing 'mid flowers and green pastures
    Brightly onward to heaven!
    There is music pervading the air,
    Music of voice and of instrument,
    And the silver toning of laughters
    Blendeth in jubilant chorus;
    Bands of maidens and youths
    With flowing garments of purple,
    And zones jewelled and bright
    As the mystic girdle of Venus,
    Wreathëd with myrtle and roses,
    And their beauty wantonly bared
    To the swimming glances of passion,
    Evermore sweep o'er the pathways,
    Strewing sweet flowers as they go
    To the sacred altars of Venus
    'Neath the feet of the snow-white kine,
    That must bleed at the shrine of the goddess;
    Care is forgotten, for life
    Hath no aim and no mission but pleasure;
    Its cup is a foretaste of Paradise,
    Drain the sweet draught to the dregs,
    The fountain will flow on for ever!
    'Tis the feast day of Venus--Hail! Hail!

  Pygmalion stood beside his master-piece,
  Still with his mind devote to mighty thoughts
  And busy inspiration, for through Time
  The worker must be constant to his toil,
  Heedless of pleasure and the idle toys
  For which man bartereth eternity;
  Life is his seed-time, after life his rest.
  Had he not joyed to scan that lovely form,
  And mark each glorious lineament, that held
  A model up to Nature of pure grace
  Unblemished by the shadow of a fault?
  Had he not loved with more than Artist soul
  The beauteous creature of his heaven-drawn power,
  And oped again the flood-gates of his heart
  To the full current of humanity?
  Had he not thanked the gods for victory,
  And gloried in his strength with conscious might
  That made e'en fame his fellow? Yet he stood
  Silent and sad beside his finished work.
  What lacked he yet? Life! life! for his creation:
  "What have I wrought," he uttered, "what achieved?
  Naught! naught! my power hath wasted on a stone,
  Changed its rude seeming haply unto grace,
  But as it was, so is it now, mere stone;
  My beauteous image, emblem of my soul,
  Cast in the mould of thought's supremest good,
  Fairer than all of womankind on Earth,
  Is yet more worthless and more transient
  Than is the meanest wretch who feels the life
  Throb quenchlessly within him. Time may strew
  Its fragments blindly o'er the face of Earth,
  Scatter its spotless beauties, yet pass on
  And leave the world no poorer than it was.
  There is no beauty separate from soul;
  From it as from a spring flow all the streams
  That clothe this dust with living loveliness
  Else doomed to deep aridity and death.
  O lovely daughter of my craving soul!
  Hope of my life! Divinest shape of Earth!
  Can I regard thy beauty thus and know
  Thou art the empty semblance of a worthless thing.
  Are those sweet charms where loveliness hath set
  The limits of her potency, mere dust
  Unnobled by the passage of a soul,
  Rescued a moment from the senseless mass,
  That soon again shall have thee for its own?
  What hath my soul begotten? Death in life--
  A child of Earth unblessed, unstamped of heaven.
  First-fruit of Spirit love! is this thy fate?
  Gods! hear me from your thrones! Must it be so?"
  Forth sped he.
    Like a stream that is swayed in the sunlight,
    Breaking in flashes of brightness,
    The people of Cyprus were gathered
    Around the temple of Venus;
    Mirth and music ascended.
    Amid the fumes of the incense,
    Loud as when pleasure hath knocked
    On a heart that is hollow and empty.
      Maidens rejoiced in their shame,
    And fancied their lewdness devotion,
    Banishing thought from their bosoms,
    And making them giddy with passion.
      Men forgetting their birthright,
    And the glorious spirit of freedom,
    Made themselves slaves unto folly,
      And lust, and imbecile pleasure.
    Life was summed up in the Present,
    For foolishness knoweth no Future.

  Through the deluded mass Pygmalion prest,
  As each true soul must on its course to Fame,
  Blind to the follies that beset his path,
  The empty pleasures, and fictitious joys;
  Deaf to the jeers and mockings of the crowd,
  Their sottish laughters and unmeaning mirth,
  His senses all attent to his great aim,
  Fixed on the prize of immortality.
  Within the Temple separate he stood
  From the base host of giddy worshippers,
  And prostrated his soul with strong desire
  At the bright shrine of Cytherea's power.

  "O Cypris! goddess! Light of heaven and Earth!
  That from the snow-crest of the waving sea,
  The endless worker--the unresting soul,
  Sprang'st in the glory of thy charms divine,
  And Beauty mad'st immortal! That dost hold
  The sacred urn of everlasting love,
  Whose draught is life, strength, rapture to the soul,
  And pouring of its fulness o'er the Earth,
  Makest its drooping energies revive,
  To struggle onward through the fight of life!
  O thou divinest arbitress of fate!
  Stoop from thy starry throne, receive my prayer,
  And grant me life, breath, being for my work.
  Let not the love that glorifies a man,
  Sink 'neath the level of humanity,
  And take unto its Holiest a shape
  Of woman's dust engraven on a stone;
  Grant that this first-fruit of my soul may be
  Endued with lovely immortality;
  That she may have the throbbing pulse of life,
  Quick'ning with every gracious influence,
  To work some sweet seraphic Purpose out,
  And walking 'mongst Earth's multitudes exalt
  Man's soul to worship Beauty, that when I
  The Worker shall have gone unto my rest,
  A glorious witness may remain to tell
  That such an one wrought, struggled and attained."

  Thus prayed he. And an answer stirred his soul,
  "That which is born of Truth dies never. Time
  Still takes its sweet impression as it flies,
  And drops it seed-like into some wise heart,
  Where it may blossom and bear fruit anew
  To make its good perpetual. Thy prayer
  Is heard. The fire shall go from Heaven. Thy work
  Shall live."

  Homeward he sped, and by his work stood soon.
  O'er that sweet visage once so motionless,
  To his rapt gaze there stole the rays divine
  That bear all high intelligence of heaven,
  And undulating o'er each graceful line
  Made the cold stone angelic. Liquid eyes,
  Bright with all pure imaginings, and full
  Of young emotion, love, and gentleness,
  Beamed softly on him in dim wonderment;
  Whilst from her lips that parted half for speech,
  Flowed the deep sweetness of a woman's smile,
  And o'er his perplex'd spirit shed the light
  Of Hope and glad assurance. All her frame
  Glowed with the rosy hue of life and youth,
  And melting from the rigidness of stone
  Sank into attitudes of peerless grace.

  And when conviction strengthened in his soul
  As the awak'ning beauties of his work
  Expanded 'neath the spirit influence,
  He clasp'd the maid unto his beating heart,
  As father might the daughter of his love,
  Rejoicing with blent pride and tenderness
  In the supernal beauty of his child.
  Hearing within him murmurs of a voice--
  "I have accomplish'd, have not wrought in vain,
  Left no faint record written on the tide
  Of life, to perish with its setting wave;
  But my fair work shall live for evermore,
  And through the phalanx of advancing Ages
  Speed like a herald sounding to the world,
  'Behold a man who crushed oblivion,
  'And girding up his soul in faith and love
  'Wrought like a God beyond the reach of Time!'"



  ODE TO FANCY.


  O! thou art a sweet and playful thing,
  And light as a lark upon the wing,
  Pouring the melody of thy mirth,
  In sunny showers down to the earth.
  The sunbeams pave o'er the crystal waters
  A pathway for thee to Triton's daughters,
  Down in the depths of the waving sea,
  Where their bright archëd palaces be:
  There mermaids hasten unto thy side,
  And sing their songs till the ravished tide
  Feels the soft music through all its swells,
  And whispers them o'er to the coral shells.
  Fays are thy playmates at dewy e'en,
  For o'er their land they have made thee queen,
  Crowned thee with flowers of fadeless hue,
  And drained thy health in the honey dew;
  And over mountain, and hill, and dale,
  'Lumed by the glow of the moonbeams pale,
  Thy merry train in the stillness dance,
  Like a beam of pleasure and radiance;
  Thine are the revels each summer night,
  Held on the mead by the glow-worm's light,
  Till maidens, straying at early dawn,
  Trace thy blithe footsteps upon the lawn;
  Thus dost thou lead on thy joyous rout,
  And trip around till thou'rt wearied out;
  And in the harebells the yellow bee
  Creeps in the morning to waken thee
  Forth from thy sweet dreams of joy and love,
  That rise in odorous breath above.

  Like some fair wizard thou weavest spells
  Over all flowers, and brooks, and dells,
  Wreathing above every mossy bed,
  Till with bright dreams it is canopied
  And through the rose-coloured atmosphere
  All things more lovely and bright appear,
  Losing the faintness of earthly things,
  And shining with heaven's illuminings.
  Thine are the Naiads and Nymphs which rise
  From dell and fountain to daze our eyes;
  Thine are the spirits 'mid leafy trees,
  Whose voices come to us on the breeze.
  Thine are the maidens whose trackless feet
  Bear to the flower cups their honey sweet,
  Pressing their perfume till through and through
  Is pierced the soul of the rising dew.

  Lead me, sweet sprite, to thy sunny dwelling!
  Is it where brooklets are softly welling
  Amid the greenwoods with many a fall,
  Making the lily-cups musical?
  Is it where mosses and violets meet,
  And blend their lives in an union sweet,
  Whither the butterflies speed to tell
  Glad tales of the flowers thou lovest so well?
  Is't in the covert whose lonely shade
  The ring-dove her resting place hath made,
  Lulled by the melody of her note
  Till dreams of Elysium round thee float?
  Is't on the breast of the sunlit sea,
  With ripples of glory to circle thee,
  Bright flashing dolphins to bear thy car,
  And waft thee to glorious isles afar?
  Is't in some cave where the light of day
  Borrows new hues from the diamond ray,
  Paven with jewels and silv'ry sand
  Borne by the waves from the mermaid's land
  Is't in the arms of the balmy gale
  Over the ocean thou lovest to sail,
  Loosing the folds of thy silken hair
  To float at will on the perfumed air?
  Is it by valley or heath-clad mountain?
  Is it by streamlet or limpid fountain?
  Tell me, and I will come to thee,
  Follow thy flight through immensity!

  Dost thou not roam in the realms of sleep,
  While stars above thee their bright watch keep,
  Lapping the soul in a crystal sea,
  Whose every swell is felicity?
  And in the halls of her quiet home,
  Where darkness pillars the starry dome,
  Making all beauty more beautiful,
  And keeping the moonbeams soft and cool,
  Dost thou not sit till the morning beams
  Weaving the fabric of happy dreams,
  Bringing dear visions to weeping eyes,
  Till sorrow transforms to paradise?
  Dost thou not kiss sweet lips till they smile,
  And murmur of joys they knew erewhile,
  And build up hopes that are shatter'd quite,
  Decking the past in a robe of light?

  O! thou art a kind and gentle thing,
  Bearing the gifts that _good_ angels bring,
  Joying in all that is bright and free,
  And soothing the sting of misery;
  If thou would'st dwell in my beating heart,
  And breathe thy fragrance through every part,
  I would ever love and obey thee,
  Never slight thee and never betray thee
  Into the hands of cruel scoffers,
  Who sell their souls to fill their coffers,
  Crush every flower beneath their feet,
  And make the sole bliss of life--to cheat;
  Cheat the greenwoods of happy ramblers,
  To rear a race of slaves and gamblers;
  Cheat the summer, cheat the spring,
  Cheat the sweet flowers of their ministring;
  Cheat the soft meadows and sunny skies
  Of their glad tribute from glist'ning eyes;
  Cheat the birds in their leafy bowers,
  Cheat every day of its few short hours,
  Cheat even life of its little pleasure,
  Dealing its needfuls out in short measure;
  Cheating all beauty while they draw breath,
  But true to _one_ commerce, that is--Death!

  Come to me then, and I'll cherish thee,
  Thou shalt my loving companion be;
  From the cold world we will live apart,
  And build up a new one within my heart.



  WHAT IS A SIGH?


              It is the sound
  Raised by the sweeping of an angel's wing,
              As through the air
              It bears a prayer
          Of the soul's uttering.

              It is the sweet
  Melodious echo of some thrilling thought
              Retold by sadness
              Unto gladness,
          Which memory hath brought.

              It is the hymn
  Breath'd ever by the votaries of love,
              Whose dulcidence,
              Soft and intense,
          Soars dreamily above.

              It is the sign
  Of Earth's fraternity, the only tie
              That links us all,
              Both great and small,
          In common sympathy.

              It is the heart
  Issueing from its prison house of clay;
              Perchance gladly,
              Perchance sadly,
          Wending on its way.



  IONE.


  Sad are the glances from thy deep blue eyes,
                    Ione,
  Soft as the mirror of the summer skies
  When twilight shadows o'er its surface steal,
  And twinkling stars their radiant orbs reveal!
                Why are they sad
                Which were so glad,
                    Ione?
  Have their rays bathed in dew-drops 'mid the air,
  And still the sparkling moisture trembles there?
            Then, smile, for dewy tears
            Melt when the sun appears,
                    Ione!
  Yet thou art very beautiful in sadness,
                    Ione!
  More beautiful e'en than in gladness,
  And the sweet music of thy gentle sighs
  Comes like the language of thy speaking eyes;
                What do they say?
                Tell me their lay,
                    Ione!
  Fain would I learn from thee what passing thought
  Can with such plaintive melody be fraught--
                Ah! wherefore turn away,
                Stay, yet a little stay,
                    Ione!



  REALITY.


  O the heart has dreams Elysian!
    That steal o'er it calm and sweet,
  Hushing pain like a magician
    Who binds spirits at his feet.

  But the forms that throng its mazes
    Are too bright for mortal birth,
  And the scenes that fancy raises
    Far too beautiful for earth.

  Let us turn with humbler spirits
    To the things that God has made,
  Pass the weakness flesh inherits,
    Since the sunshine, too, has shade.

  'Tis the pride of human nature
    That makes life seem cold and drear,
  Drawing up a dwarfish stature
    To o'ertop its proper sphere.

  Gath'ring round it misty fancies,
    Like the mountain's cloudy wreath,
  Till the spirit's errant glances
    See no beauty underneath.

  There are true hearts beating nigh us
    As we fight the fight of life,
  Hearts unstain'd by guilty bias,
    Hearts unharden'd by its strife.

  There are gentle bosoms swelling
    With all motions pure and kind,
  That unceasingly are welling
    Solace to the weary mind.

  Few there are without possessing
    Some good virtue in their heart,
  Whence, beneath love's soft compressing,
    As from flowers, sweet perfumes start.

  Dreamer, turn then to the real
    With a frank and trusting soul,
  Not alone to the ideal
    Let thy genial currents roll.

  Pierce the clay that oft encloses
    The pure brightness of a gem,
  Think thee, flowers less fair than roses,
    In their sweetness rival them.

  Thus in truth, and not in dreaming,
    Life will blossom to the full,
  Unto love's eyes all things seeming
    Prism'd through the beautiful.



  RETROSPECTION.


  Oh, my heart throbs ever wildly, half in joy and half in scorning,
  As the course of my life's story dimly flits across my mind,
  Now that fate seems clear and steady, and the mist that veil'd its
          morning
  Has resolved into bright sunshine with the azure heaven behind.

  And I cry with exultation--"Bless he who feeling in him
  Precepts of pure grace and beauty guiding on his willing soul,
  Yields himself unto their teaching, nor lets toil nor danger win him
  To forsake the race he runneth till he resteth at the goal."

  I was sprung, from lineage noble, with a spirit inly burning
  To uphold my name and honor taintless from the blast of shame,
  I was born to be a freeman, by my birthright therefore spurning
  All the gilded chains of fashion that make freedom but a name.

  From the forms and outward emblems of the deep-lored spirit Nature
  Drew I inspiration early for the moulding of my thought,
  Gath'ring strength from her o'erflowing, till I grew unto the
          stature
  Of a man nerved to accomplish all the good her wisdom taught.

  So when years had ripen'd on me, and the world's great portals
          yawning,
  Bid me enter the enchanted palace of youth's mystic life,
  Eager, breathless to explore it, at each step new wonders dawning,
  I went on with stedfast courage, arm'd alike for peace or strife.

  And I loved, that I might ever in my bosom bear a treasure
  Strong to ransom life from sorrow, strong to furnish it with joy;
  So I sought with keenest insight--neither small nor scant the
          measure
  To content my requisition--purest gold without alloy.

  And I found it lying lowly, far beneath my proud line's dreaming,
  Who if they perchance had seen it, would with scorn have turn'd
          away,
  But I sought it with soul-gladness, e'en with pride, for to my
          seeming
  A pure gem is worth the lifting though it lie amongst the clay.

  She was fair, a lumin'd beauty rippling o'er each chisell'd feature,
  Changing ever like the sunshine playing on the summer sea,
  Revelations of God's spirit permeating through his creature,
  Making loveliness all perfect by infused divinity.

  What to me though all her dow'ry were the wealth of love and
          kindness,
  And a heart full fraught with feelings vein'd with gentleness
          and grace?
  Which the worldling holds as nothing, smitten with judicial
          blindness,
  But which I o'er all things prizing, wed her in the weak world's
          face.

  Scared my kinsmen were and bitter for the shame and the dishonour,
  Said they, I had brought upon them and the noble name I bore;
  And my sire with passion burning launch'd his deepest curses on her,
  And as though I were a felon, drove me fiercely from his door.

  I was destined for some puppet, some gold image of his choosing,
  Doubtless, who was made to worship like the golden calf of old,
  With no merit but her riches, but such shame my soul refusing,
  I was cast forth without blessing, poor and guideless from the fold.

  Poor?--Not poor, for she went with me, pouring still with patient
          spirit
  Balm upon my wounded feelings, peace upon my burning soul;
  So that though man's love was reft me, 'twas the better to inherit
  That which far transcends man's favour,--sentience of Heaven's
          sweetest dole.

  Words of scorn and deep contemning gave I back for their reviling,
  For my soul waxed wroth within me to be judged by such as they,
  Fools so sage in their great folly, that they shake their bells, and
          smiling
  With an imbecile self-blindness, sneer the wise of heart away.

  Let them wear their masking purple, threadbare now with vilest uses,
  All the ancient gloss and brightness faded from it through their
          stains,
  _They_ may be disgraced, degraded, but true nobleness, ne'er loses
  By relinquishing its trappings, whilst the spirit still remains.

  Did I shame them that I ceded all the forms and false adorning
  That doth deck them for their stations heedless of the stuff within,
  And stood forth in my own fashion, such as God had made me, scorning
  To be made a man of tinsel, to be honoured for my kin.

  Did I shame them that rejoicing in the freedom of my spirit
  I asserted all its fulness, spite of prejudice and pride;
  Whilst they, slaves of wealth and fashion, trembling cowards did not
          dare it,
  Would not risk a pointed finger e'en to gain an angel bride.

  Was the noble name they cited but the badge of slaves and vassals,
  Bound beyond emancipation to obey another's mood?
  Better far to be a peasant 'neath the shadow of their castles,
  Than debase the soul within me to such brutish servitude.

  What were they with all their lordship, all their riches,
          measured duly,
  That they looked with scorn upon her in her unadornëd worth?
  Ashy fruit with surface golden, she with goodness leavened
          throughly,
  All her wealth by heaven imparted, their's derived alone from
          Earth.

  Oh! I felt a high compassion for their warp'd and narrow feelings
  As I press'd my bride unto me, and read o'er her gentle eyes,
  Gaining deeper insight daily, meeting ever new revealings
  Of the grace of woman's spirit, and her holy sympathies.

  So we pilgrim'd on together, buffeting the ills about us,
  Sharing hope, and joy, and sorrow, as we shared our daily bread,
  Keeping still a pleasaunce scathless in our hearts, though all
          without us
  Might be cheerless desolation, and the sky with clouds o'erspread.

  Through much toil and tribulation, we attain'd at last to honour
  With no succour from my kindred, I upreared my house alone,
  And I see my cherish'd maiden, with admiring gazes on her,
  Glide amid the high and noble with a grace beyond their own.

  And those proud ones now are gracious, bowing fawningly before her,
  Whilst she with her true eyes calmly takes the measure of their
          hearts,
  Weighs aright the honied speeches, and the praise they heap upon
          her,
  Her own innocence instinctively disarming all their arts.

  For she knows their tongues are venal, sold to flatter wealth and
          power,
  And to crouch with serpent homage in the dust at Fortune's shrine,
  Ready to revile and slander if calamity should lower,
  And to flout as base, deceitful, what they late had termed divine.

  Thus unmask'd and sifted throughly let them stoop and fawn at
          pleasure,
  Little reck I to revenge me better for their former spite
  As I mark their degradation falling on them in full measure
  When they humble themselves vilely, thus, to one who reads them
          right.



  THE STORMY PETREL.


  Far in the wilderness of waves,
  Where vision dieth 'mid endless motion,
  Where only the madden'd storm-wind raves,
  And sinketh its chains in the soundless ocean;
  Far from the ken and the power of men,
  And lone as though Earth were in chaos again,
  The Stormy Petrel cleaveth the air,
  And maketh the surging billow its lair.

  The black cloud scuddeth along on high,
  Silent and swift as the angel Death,
  Led by Euroclydon through the sky
  Unto its victim with bated breath,
  Whilst only God and the Petrel seeth
  The path by which the Avenger fleeth,
  And with shrill accent of wail and mourning
  Riseth the Petrel's wild cry of warning.

  Anon the bones of the wreck come past
  Bitterly mock'd of the roaring tide,
  From wave to wave in derision cast
  With scorn and jeers at poor human pride;
  And still the Petrel with lightning sweep
  Circles their way through the raging deep,
  Settling in awe on some shatter'd spar,
  And tracking its course as it drifts afar.

  Into this realm of the winds and waves
  Man cometh not with his living soul,
  But like the mounds over clammy graves,
  Over his body the surges roll;
  No mortal weeper hath seen his tomb,
  Buried he lies in eternal gloom,
  Save that the Petrel with wailing cry
  Hover'd around as he floated by.

  What doth the Petrel so far away
  From the home of love and the field of strife?
  In this lone spot doth the Petrel stay
  To show the beauty and power of LIFE.
  For the broad Earth and the boundless sea,
  Time and the endless eternity,
  All, all acknowledge the spirit's controul,
  And like the frail body, were made for the soul.



  TO ----


  When the stars are up and keeping
  Holy vigils in the skies,
  Whilst Night's train is passing slowly,
  Footsteps hush'd, and voices lowly,
  And on earth sweet dreams are steeping
  Slumbering souls in Paradise,
  In my heart there comes a vision,
  Angel-like from its elysian,
  Bent upon some blessed mission,
  And its form resembleth thee
  In thy grace and purity.

  I with trancëd rapture gazing,
  Scan each lineament divine,
  Trace again thy pensive sweetness,
  Beauty's soul, and love's completeness,
  Heart and hands devoutly raising
  Like a pilgrim at Love's shrine,
  Evermore within me feeling
  Like a charm thy beauty stealing,
  Hushing pain, and sorrow healing,
  And I pray to dream for ever
  Gazing thus, and waking never;

  For the morn comes, and the Real
  Once again resumes its sway,
  Scattereth these radiant fancies,
  Cloudeth o'er thy gentle glances,
  And still seeking my Ideal
  Through this life I take my way,
  Weary, heart-sick, longing, sighing,
  Praying much, yet no replying,
  Phantom Hope before me flying
  Leading ever back to thee,
  To behold thee in thy beauty,
  Feel that love is only duty,
  Meritless, save that so dying
  Gain I Love's eternity.



  THE MERMAID.


  A mermaid smoothing her sunny hair,
  Fanned by the breath of the summer air,
  Sang to me,--"Love, wilt thou go with me
  "Down to the depths of the purple sea?"--
  "Maiden, ah yes! I will go with thee,
  "And lap my soul in felicity!"

  Down we went through the crystal waters
  Evermore waving round Neptune's daughters,
  Down, till the light of the starry sky
  Melted away like an echoed sigh,
  And the rapt breast of the restless ocean
  Sank into still dreams of past emotion,
  Down, and we stood on a pleasant shore
  Paven with shells from the Naiad's store,
  Shining and rosy-lipp'd such as keep
  The mermaid's songs for their balmy sleep.
  Flowers there were set with sparkling gems,
  Gleaming amid the white coral stems,
  And flinging their measure of light and scent
  Up through the translucent firmament.
  And as the air by a bird's wing laven,
  Or a deep pool by a white hand waven,
  Floated the swells of the dewy tide
  Round the sea-maiden and me beside.
  Onward we went where a diamond portal
  Kept the pure light of the dawn immortal,
  Making the heart sicken o'er to win
  The halcyon joys it enclosed within;
  Entered we under its arching sweep
  Into the palace hall of the deep,
  Where 'neath the vault of its lofty dome
  Have the nymphs and mermen gay their home;
  There sat old Neptune upon his throne,
  A foaming wave that was turn'd to stone,
  And round about him his merry crew
  With brimming cups of the purple dew;
  Wandering far through the lumin'd halls,
  Where light was bred in the ruby walls,
  Stray'd the fair Naiads with golden hair,
  That wanton'd about in the perfumed air;
  And flowing robes round their white limbs waved,
  Like moonbeams bright into substance laved.
  Neptune in tones that spread far and wide,
  "Ho! Ho! a man with a mermaid bride!"
  And the blue dome rung with cruel laughter,
  Till all the arches mutter'd it after;
  Then came the nymphs in a radiant string,
  And circled us round like Saturn's ring,
  Forms that appearing to mortal eyes
  Dazzle them so that the spirit dies.
  Then to my mermaid old Neptune saith,
  "Hymn the rash mortal unto his death!"
  She with a voice that murmuring stole
  Deep as a heaven thought into my soul--
  "O! in the land that is under the waves
  "To dwell with my love in the coral caves,
  "To bind his brows with a diamond zone,
  "And call the light of his eyes mine own;
  "To roam with him through the boundless space,
  "And make the billow our resting place,
  "There sing our songs till we fall asleep,
  "And dream of Elysium in the deep;
  "Waves are flowing for ever and ever,
  "O they will rock us for ever and ever,
  "Hush every sorrow to quiet rest,
  "And pillow love in each other's breast;
  "O they will sink us deeper and deeper,
  "Until they themselves sleep with the sleeper,
  "Until there is only love awake,
  "That cannot sleep for his own sweet sake;
  "Come in my bosom, then, come with me,
  "Down to the depths of the purple sea!"
  All my soul thrill'd and panted for bliss
  As pilgrims thirst in the wilderness;
  I cried, "O maiden, whose softest sighs
  "Are sweeter than all Earth's melodies,
  "If thou wilt wander with me for ever,
  "And naught have power our true hearts to sever,
  "I shall forget all that earth calls fair,
  "And all that I fondly treasured there,
  "The meadows and hills and sunny dells,
  "And the birds and fragrant heather-bells,
  "And I will follow thee through the deep,
  "Where waves shall rock us to tender sleep;
  "All powers of ocean I will defy,
  "And follow thee though it be but to die!"
  Neptune then, "Youth thou hast bravely said,
  "And meet art thou with a nymph to wed,
  "So thou shalt live out thy little span
  "Unscathed by the hands of the blithe merman."

  So they bound me fast in cruel sleep,
  And bore me silently from the deep,
  And ne'er have I seen my mermaid more,
  Though oft I watch for her on the shore.



  THE SPIRIT OF THE AIR.


  A spirit came to me on the breeze
  Sweet with the breath of the orange trees,
  Floated about me, and murmur'd soft,
  "O Poet! wilt fly with me far aloft?
  "And I will show thee the realms of space
  "Where the lightning can find no resting place.
  "We will away to the home of morn,
  "And see the first youngling sunbeams born.
  "We will away to the cave of Night,
  "And wake the echoes to sudden fright,
  "And then we'll wander among the stars
  "And mark the roll of their golden cars?"--
  "Spirit! I'll go with thee through the sky,
  "For my soul pants ever to soar on high,
  "If thou wilt bear me upon thy wings,
  "And guide me amid our bright wanderings."

  Swiftly we went through the sunny air,
  Higher than ever the skylark dare,
  And the bright clouds where the summer beams
  Slumber and revel in golden dreams,
  Lay far beneath us like dewy fumes
  Hovering over the flower-blooms.
  Higher we went till the puny Earth
  Dwindled away to an atom girth,
  And the record of our rapid way
  Was the far death of a starry ray;
  Then we drew nigh to the palace bright
  Where morning treasures her dewy light,
  Cool'd by the breath of the angels' wings,
  And sweet with their musical utterings.
  There we saw the young day-beams awaken,
  And the earth's rays from their soft tresses shaken,
  And there we saw the sweet zephyrs rise,
  That woo the flowers with gentle sighs,
  And kiss the mist from the streamlet's tide,
  As tears are kiss'd from a happy bride;
  The angels of Joy and bliss were there,
  Lapt in the folds of the balmy air,
  Breathing their pæans till far away
  The echoes went with the light of day;
  The spirit said, "Hence the ray of morn,
  "Like a poor child unto sorrow born,
  "Wends to the earth with sweet smiles uplit,
  "And from the darkness awakens it;
  "But though it whisper of peace and love,
  "And tell the world of the joys above,
  "They will not hearken unto the voice
  "Whose accents faint make the flowers rejoice,
  "But still grovel on in strife and sorrow,
  "And make the signal of war, 'the morrow.'"
  Onward we went through the heavens afar
  Swift as the course of a shooting star,
  Until dark shadows began to fall
  Around our way, like a funeral pall,
  Deeper and deeper, and then the gloom
  Grew thick as it were the Night's own tomb;
  There was no sound save the rushing wave
  Closing the furrow our passing clave;
  There was no sound save the beating heart,
  That at its own throbbings seemed to start;
  There was no sound save the ebb and flow
  Of my own breathing drawn long and low;
  Then the air-spirit gave forth a cry
  That rang through the arches of the sky,
  Whereat a myriad echoes leapt
  Forth from the darkness 'mid which they slept,
  Shouted an answer in fierce surprise,
  That rumbled far into faintest sighs,
  Then slowly sank to their rest again,
  And left the Night to her silent reign.
  On we went whilst the sounds grew dimmer,
  Till stars afar began to glimmer
  Like flashing lights on a lonely mere,
  Like tapers dim round a sable bier;
  Onward, till many a radiant world
  In solemn glory across us whirl'd,
  Shaking the air in their mighty march,
  Like thunder beneath its prison arch;
  Ever louder the swift wind bore us
  The swell of their eternal chorus,
  Filling the soul of the boundless sky
  With strains of adoring harmony.
  Past us came Mars all fiery and red,
  Like a warrior stain'd with the blood he shed;
  And his voice o'er all rang clear and high
  Pealing for ever Truth's battle-cry;
  Saturn came with his blazing ring,
  Like a crown round the brows of a Titan king,
  Circled by many a satellite,
  That made his pathway through heaven bright;
  The star of eve like a maiden sphere,
  Gleaming with beauty and grace, drew near,
  Sweeping along 'mid heaven's panoply,
  The sweetest and fairest child of the sky;
  Onward they came in myriad lines
  From space whereon the sun never shines,
  But fades away like a twinkling star
  'Neath orbs whose glory is greater far;
  Many a beautiful world appear'd,
  Such as not even Fancy hath rear'd,
  Sinless and happy as Heaven will be,
  And stamp'd with the seal of Eternity.

  But sadly we sank to Earth again,
  And heard the discord and strife of men,
  Like a harp that jars from a sudden fall,
  And turns to discord tones musical.



  WHY DO I LOVE THEE?


  'Tis not because thou art so fair,
  So beautiful unto the sight;
  'Tis not because thy silken hair
  Curls o'er a neck of spotless white;
  'Tis not because thy speaking eye
  Claims kindred with the deep blue sky,
            Alone I love thee!

  No! 'tis because around thee gleams
  The light of innocence and truth,
  Adorning with its radiant beams,
  And pure reflex the charms of youth;
  Because thine every word and thought
  With thy soul's gentleness is fraught,
            Therefore I love thee!



  LADY ANNABEL.


  She had suitors many, many,
  The fair Lady Annabel,
  But she loved him more than any,
  For she knew he loved her well.
  She was rich, but he was lowly,
  Lowly in the world's esteem,
  But that made her love more holy,
  As the darkness gilds the beam;
  For she knew his manly honour,
  All the beauties of his mind,
  And they sweetly stole upon her
  Like the scent borne on the wind;
  So she loved him ere she knew it,
  Ere she thought to close her heart
  'Gainst the tender spells that drew it
  Evermore to take his part
  When in idlesse or in malice
  Others lightly spoke of him,
  Careless that in his life's chalice
  They poured sadness to the brim;
  For he was a dreamer throughly,
  Feeding on sweet Poesie,
  And few knew his spirit truly,
  And none prized it well as she;
  But upon the thymy mosses,
  With wild flowers by his side,
  Blossoms that the summer glosses
  For the brow of fairy bride,
  He would lie and weave bright fancies
  From the maze within his heart,
  Which her gentle smiles and glances
  Kindled with an angel's art;
  For a firmament of beauty
  Hung like heaven o'er his mind,
  And it seem'd a sacred duty
  To hymn all the fair it shrined;
  So he praised her golden tresses,
  And he thought them fair and soft
  As the locks the sun caresses
  On bright angels far aloft;
  And her eyes so blue and tender,
  Made for love to glisten through,
  That their gentleness might render
  Love as welcome as the dew;
  And her cheeks with roses blushing,
  And her lips with sunshine drest,
  Her white bosom gently hushing
  With its swells all ill to rest,
  All came to him in his dreaming
  Like things from another sphere,
  Till bewildered by their gleaming
  He felt only they were dear.
  Must he perish, must he languish
  For the love of one so fair,
  Till the cruel sting of anguish
  Change a blessing to despair?
  He is poor, and favour never
  Smiles on one so weak as he,
  Poverty still comes to sever
  All hopes of felicity.
  But she loves him, and communion
  With his soul gives strength to hers,
  So they blend their lives in union
  Careless of cold fashion's slurs;
  She resigns what earth calls treasure,
  Titled suitors, wealthy-dower,
  That is _commerce_, she seeks pleasure,
  For she knows life's but an hour,
  Far too short and full of sadness,
  Far too full of grief and pain,
  For the heart to barter gladness
  For a shadow or for gain;
  So she fondly stood beside him,
  And she placed her hand in his
  With a smile that seem'd to chide him
  For the shade that veil'd his bliss,
  As he thought how he could duly
  Make return for all her love,
  Only could he serve her truly,
  Love her as the light above;
  And she said "We will live gaily
  In some sylvan hermitage,
  Worshipping all beauty daily,
  Till my foolish heart grow sage;
  We will have sweet flowers about us,
  Birds to sing from every tree
  No suspicious friends to doubt us,
  So we must live merrily!"

  Thus they went, and of their marriage
  Jesting spake the giddy world;
  Nobles, pillow'd in their carriage,
  Laugh'd aloud with proud lips curled,
  And fair ladies smiled their pity,
  With a sigh for mortal folly,
  Whilst rich merchants in the city
  Frown'd, and called it, "Melancholy."
  What they said, or what they ponder'd
  Little reck'd fair Annabel,
  As with joyous hearts they wander'd
  By green vale and shady dell;
  And she cried "O! life was never
  Made to be ambition's fool,
  Bound in fashion's chains, and ever
  Banish'd from the Beautiful!"



  TO JENNY LIND.

  ON HER RE-APPEARANCE IN ENGLAND

  MAY 4th. 1848.


  Summer hath come, led on by sunny May
  The blue-eyed, round whose brow the first pure ray
  That trembles from the opening gates of dawn
  Still seems to circle, and the mossy lawn,
  As they glide gently onward, ever breathes
  A beauty and a fragrance, which enwreathes
  Within the being until every thought
  With a strange mystery of joy is fraught.
  And where the hazel forms a leafy screen
  Of verdant matting, the cuckoo, unseen,
  Chaunts forth her woodnotes through the stilly air,
  Whose silent motions far the accents bear.
  And thou hast come, sweet Nightingale! once more
  O'er our entrancëd spirits to outpour
  Thy liquid warblings! 'Mid the flow'rets' scent
  And summer's gladness rises interblent
  Thy loving welcome! Not the bird that sighs
  Her thrilling love-tale through the moonlit skies
  Of Italy, as erst to Juliet's ear
  From the pomegranate tree 'twas wafted near,
  Seizes the soul with ravishment more sweet
  Than thy soft tones, stealing unto the seat
  Of passion, waking echoes in the breast
  Of love, and purity, and quiet rest,
  Murmuring through the windings of the soul,
  Till interpenetrated is the whole
  With holy harmonies, and blissful sense
  Of joyance, and straightway is refted thence
  All baser feeling, and all earthly leaven,
  By the dear magic of that voice from heaven.
  Fair Priestess of the Beautiful! that bringest
  Missions of sweetness from above, and flingest
  In a rich flood of song--now faint, yet clear
  As Helicon's own murmurs to the ear,
  Now swelling till around our being floats
  In thrilling cadences thy bell-like notes,--
  The poetry of poetry, the deep
  Mysterious essences whose wavings steep
  Life in the bliss of angels, and the real
  In the ethereal hues of the ideal;
  A welcome to thee! heartfelt as the lay
  Hymn'd by the panting lark to the young day,
  Joyous and loving as the sunny beam
  That greets the early primrose, when the dream
  Of flowery revels through the noontide hours
  First steals upon it. Such a joy is ours
  Now, as with falt'ring tones our spirits hail
  Thy glad return, O sweetest Nightingale!



  THE GOLD SEEKERS.


  Ever onward sweep the Nations, marching with a mighty train,
  Prince and peasant, youth and maiden, toiling, struggling o'er
          Life's plain;

  Turning from the land that bore them, from the loving ties of old,
  Still to wander, weary pilgrims, o'er the wide world after gold.

  Little reck they of the dangers, little reck they of the woes,
  Urged along by strong endeavour, heedless both of friends and foes;

  Gazing on the shadow moving at their sides till sun hath set,
  Ever whisp'ring to their spirit, "Courage! we will grasp it yet!"

  Over plain and over mountain, rocks their zeal cannot resist,
  Up the rugged heights they clamber till they perish in the mist;

  Down the precipital hollows blindly falling as they speed,
  Calling still with dying accents on their fellows to take heed;

  Over stream, and trackless ocean, with the storm-cloud hatching
          nigh,
  Ever waiting there to thunder at the bidding of the sky;

  Tossing on the angry billow, heart and soul beset with fear,
  Yet with longing all unshaken, onward through the blast they steer;

  Over marsh, and sandy desert, sinking 'neath the scorching sun,
  Hopeless, weary, madly thirsting, slowly dying one by one;

  Leaving many a bone to whiten by the wayside, and to tell
  By mortality's drear tide-marks, how its surges rose and fell;

  Through the spring, and through the summer, when the flowers are on
          the lea;
  Through the Autumn when the blossoms fade and wither drearily;

  Through the chill and ghostly Winter when the year is in its shroud,
  And corruption preys on Nature, stooping fiercely from its cloud;

  Through the light and through the darkness, through the rain and
          through the snow,
  Striving onward without resting seeking it above, below,

  In the earth, and in the water, in the rock, and in the clay,
  Gathering up the sandy beaches, searching, sifting them away;

  Never resting, but with spirits eager, breathless to attain,
  Evermore they hurry forward to their purpose o'er life's plain,

  With their garments waxen olden, and their sandals wearing out,
  And the sinews growing weaker that once bore them up so stout,

  With the vision ever dimmer to discern the cherish'd prize,
  Till at length upon the highway, at each step some pilgrim dies,

  His glazed eyes still feebly turning e'en in death unto the goal
  That yet glimmers far beyond him, the life haven of his soul.

  But a stalwart phalanx presseth onward still with hearts serene,
  Strong in faith and stedfast courage, meeting toil with dauntless
          mien;

  Working out their primal mission through the calm and through the
          blast,
  Gath'ring fitness for the Future from the Present, and the Past.

  Thus enduring, thus pursuing upheld by a mighty hand
  Through all dangers of the travel, come they to the Golden Land,

  Find the treasures they are seeking richly pour'd into their breast;
  Toil and danger ever finish'd, now they sweetly take their rest,

  With the light of glory shining from the Godhead on their souls,
  Whilst above them the broad banner of Eternity unrolls.



  TO WOMAN.


  Beautiful Spirit! Angel of the Earth!
  That glidest through the storm-tost world,
                And bearest
  Blessings of peace and rest unto the weak,
  Giddy and faint within its vortex whirled;
                O! fairest,
  Sweetest Pilot of the wavering soul
  Through the wide-yawning gulfs and shoals of crime,
  Whence issue siren-spells that seek
  To sink the wayward in their noxious slime;
                Emblem of Purity!
  That like the star of Bethlehem dost lume
  The wise of heart through this life's deepest gloom
    To hope, and joy, and blessedness,
                Hail to thee!
  Thou art the Priestess of all Holiness!
  Standing midway betwixt the earth and heaven,
                Part shared of either,
  Mortality inwrought with purer leaven,
  Good sympathies, sweet thoughts, and stainless love,
  That like distillëd perfume float above
            To charm the breather!

  O vision of soft eyes and flowing hair,
  Mild gentle eyes that chasten as they glance,
  And on their dewy brightness ever bear
  The heart's warm language writ in radiance!
  O blessed smiles! heaven's golden sunrays shed
            On life's cold stream,
  Renewëd summer when the old is fled
                Like a dream!
  O voice tinct with the spirit's sweetness,
  Last tone of heaven's clear harmonies
  Ere in the silence of wide space it dies,
            Music's completeness!
  O gentle laughters! rising from the crystal spring
  Of joyance and free-hearted sympathy,
      Pure rills to trickle sunnily
  From eyes and rosy lips in liquid warbling,
            Sweetly ye win us
  To shrine the blest spirit of Beauty
                Within us!

  O tender heart! Love's everlasting dwelling,
  Beautiful fountain of all generous thoughts,
  From whose unsealëd fulness, ever welling,
  Come to mankind their purest pleasure draughts;
  O gentle heart! Grief's only sanctuary,
  Safe refuge from the rude assaults of woe,
  Throbbing with mild compassion constantly,
  That never change nor withering can know;
  From the pure spring of virgin slumbers
  Peace falls upon the soul when thou art by,
  Lulling it sweeter than Philomel's numbers,
  Lapping it deep within felicity.
  O brightest! dearest! still there floats to thee
  The incense of pure minds eternally,
  Thoughts sown of loveliness, that bud and bloom,
  And through the summer-time of after years
                Shed sweet perfume,
  Love-imaginings that rise through tears
  Like rainbows, and soft dreams
            That are the heaven-gleams,
              Caught from the deep
                Of Elysian sleep!



  THE POET.


  You might think, to look upon them with their arms around each
          other,
  And the tale that he is breathing softly crimsoned on her cheek,
  That a sweeter spell enwound them than the love she bears a brother,
  And that sweeter words are spoken than the words that brothers
          speak.

  For, fair one, she loves him dearly, dearly as a woman's spirit
  Full of gentleness and beauty loves all pure and holy things,
  Just as though some blessëd angel, screened from sight, were
          floating near it,
  Fanning every tender feeling into motion with its wings.

  So she hears with echoed rapture hopes that in his breast are
          swelling,
  Of the glory and the honour that have sunned his poet's dream,
  Charmed him by their bright illusion madly from his quiet dwelling
  To immerse him in life's ocean, there to lose him like a stream.

  Ay! look in her eyes, poor poet, kiss the tears that tremble
          brightly
  On their fringes till thou deem'st them her pure soul distill'd
          for thee,
  They are true ones, they are fond ones, and that vision, coming
          nightly,
  May refresh thee like a fountain rising 'mid sterility.

  Backward from her upturned beauty did he smooth the golden tresses,
  That Madonna-like fell clust'ring round the softness of her cheek;
  'Twas a frank one, and a fair one, with the grace that truth
          impresses
  Beaming o'er it without shadow, so he gazed but did not speak.

  Then he whispered, "Bright May, dear May, in the world where I am
          going,
  Going, it may be unwisely, but some magic draws me on,
  There to win the fame and honour with whose fire my soul is glowing,
  Thou shalt be my guiding angel, thou shalt be my helicon.

  I will paint thee in my verses, thee, so beautiful and tender,
  Till that world shall thrill with pleasure, and pure hearts shall
          cherish thee;
  Bright May, dear May, they will love thee, and thy gentleness shall
          render
  Earth again a sunny Eden dedicate to Poesy.

  They will crown me for _thy_ beauty, they will love me for _thy_
          sweetness,
  They will shrine my name in glory, hear it like a household thing,
  They will feel the spell of beauty, think of heaven for thy
          meetness,
  Thus I'll do the poet's mission, thou an angel's ministring."

  So he went into the wide world with bright hopes around him playing,
  Youth to make his footsteps buoyant, and firm trust to nerve his
          heart,
  Fame and glory clear before him like a sun the path arraying,
  Witless that the golden vision of his dreams could ere depart.


  II.

  There are thousands in the highways buffeting the waves beside
          them,
  Struggling onward without respite in pursuit of sandbuilt gain;
  There are thousands sinking daily, but the selfish crowd deride
          them,
  Only hurry on the swifter--there's no time to pity pain.

  Ah! what hope for thee, poor poet! in the race that they are
          running,
  When the jar of stormy passions makes thy temples wildly beat;
  Can'st thou wrestle with the torrent, can'st thou stand against
          their cunning,
  Who will crush thee without mercy, like a flower beneath their feet.

  Wherefore did'st thou leave thy dwelling 'mid the calm and pleasant
          places,
  Where no sorrow came to rouse thee from the heaven of thy dreams,
  Where the wood-birds gave thee music, and the path the wild bee
          traces
  For its sweetness thou could'st follow, or repose by gentle streams.

  O poor world! immersed in folly, O dull world! that will not hearken
  To the music of a Poet singing of the Beautiful,
  Close your heart against its teaching, though it be so sweet, and
          darken
  All the sunshine of the spirit by the coldness of your rule.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Who would bid us draw the curtain that conceals the poet's sorrow,
  Who would need to _hear_ his anguish when they look upon his brow,--
  It is written there in tracings far more true than tongue could
          borrow,
  It is brimming in his glances, once so bright, so woeful now.

  Gaze upon him! dost thou know him? to his long-left home returning,
  For his step is very feeble, and his cheek is very pale,
  And amid it like a sunset is the hectic plague-spot burning,
  Ye who know no shatter'd hope-dreams, gaze upon him--there's the
          tale!

  O the holy love of woman! O the gentle love of woman!
  Breathing like a balmy zephyr on the fever'd brows of care,
  Centrate sweetness of all sweetness, only in its sorrow human,
  Joy without you were a phantom, grief without you were despair!

  See! how tenderly she leads him with her arm around him pressing,
  As to shield him from the rough world that had wrought him so much
          woe,
  And his eyes are filled with moisture, scarcely can he breathe his
          blessing,
  But she feels it in the throbbing of his full heart as they go.

  Gaze again into her kind eyes, gaze into them, weary poet,
  Fill thy soul with holy calmness from the fountain of her love,
  If there's peace for thy poor spirit in this earth they will bestow
          it,
  For she is a gentle angel sent to bless thee from above.

  And she said, as she bent o'er him, half in language, half in
          glances,
  For there is a hidden meaning far too deep for words to tell,
  "We will dwell," she said, "with nature, nourishing all gentle
          fancies,
  And the lark shall be our minstrel, and the flowers shall love us
          well."

  So he smiled upon her gently with a glance more sad than weeping,
  That a bitter thrill ran through her like a harp struck suddenly,
  And she thought upon the summer with cold shadows o'er it creeping,
  And she thought upon the flowers fading on the mossy lea.

  But she turn'd her till the paleness, and the tears that would be
          flowing
  Faded from her that they might not be the mirrors of his own;
  Smiling comfort on him ever, evermore as they were going,
  For she said "Ah! there are none to smile on him but I alone."


  III.

  He is lying in the sunshine with the blithe birds round him singing,
  There are flowers beside his pillow, there are flowers beneath his
          feet,
  Summer pours her treasures round him, like a gentle maiden flinging
  Fragrant blossoms from her bosom o'er a path to make it sweet.

  She is kneeling in the sunshine with the radiant glory o'er her,
  And his palm is on her tresses, her's are folded on her breast;
  He were very calm and happy, only for the love he bore her,
  Which was far too sweet a feeling to resign it e'en for rest.

  "Bright May! dear May! draw still nearer, nearer, dear May! till my
          spirit
  Sun itself within your brightness, as the lark doth in the day;
  Soon the air will be so lumined that my weakness will not bear it,
  So I'll gather new strength from thee to support me on my way.

  "There are tears within your eyes, May, let me kiss them from your
          eyes, May,
  They will taste as sweet to me as do the dews upon the rose;
  Dear eyes how I love them! they oft tell me of the skies, May,
  Tell me secrets of the Blessed more than mortal spirit knows.

  "Ah! I knew not in the old time half the sweetness that doth linger
  Round the simple things of Nature which the proud heart passes by,
  Now I see there's not a wildflower but doth point with warning
          finger,
  To the unobservant passer, truths of immortality.

  "Bright May, thou shalt be my beadsman, and thy golden tresses
          drooping
  Round thee shall be all the vesture that my loving soul shall seek;
  Thou shalt be a meet confessor for a lowly poet stooping
  To breathe forth his secret failings, and read pardon on thy cheek.

  "Bright May! I have been a strayer from the narrow path that wanders
  Through this world to lead the traveller to a glad eternity,
  I have been an erring madman, for the blind heart never ponders
  Till the fancied light it follows lead it from felicity.

  "I have been most false and perjured, false to all a poet's duty,
  Even whilst my heart was boasting proudly of a poet's creed,
  I have loudly claimed the title of a worshipper of beauty,
  Yet could gaze upon a flower till I thought it but a weed.

  "Yes! I dwelt amid the woodlands with bright streamlets singing
          round me,
  Sunny dells, moss-paven alleys, and cool shades to ramble in;
  All was happy, all was peaceful, yet e'en there ambition found me,
  Charm'd me forth into the rough world to engulph me in its din.

  "Yes! I wearied of the woodlands, of the streams and sunny places
  Where I lay me in the summer to dream all the noontide o'er,
  Like the child of a sweet mother lapt within her fond embraces
  Drawing fitness from her beauty to lisp forth in poet's lore.

  But the time is drawing nigh; now, when my soul sublimed from folly
  Shall see all things in their trueness, with no sun-veil drawn
          between;
  Know that glory is mere weakness and that aim alone is holy
  Which, wrought out in life with patience, fits man for a higher
          scene.



  EVENING.


  Far away in Western ether
    Day and Night at length have met,
  Like old friends that come together,
    And their eyes with tears are wet.

  In the heart, too, joy and sorrow
    Meet together without pain,
  Loving friends who, on the morrow,
    At the dawning, part again.

  'Tis the time for sweet contentment,
    Thoughts all dedicate to love,
  Soften'd down from all resentment,
    Chasten'd as the light above.

  'Tis the time to breathe a blessing
    Forth on all things good and fair,
  That make life so sweet, repressing
    Like a charm the strokes of care.

  Tis the time when those who love us
    Rise like stars in Fancy's sky,
  Shining steadily above us,
    Though afar, in seeming nigh.

  Sure our life is but a gloaming
    Deep'ning slowly unto Night,
  To give rest unto the roaming,
    To the sad, dreams of delight.

  Should not _life_, then, be contentment,
    Only dedicate to love,
  Softened down from all resentment,
    Holy as the light above.



  LIFE.


  Many a bright and pleasant vision
      Hath the heart in youth,
  Visions that the wizard Fancy
  Conjures by sweet Necromancy,
  Ever robed in hues Elysian,
      From the world of Truth;
  Many a bright and pleasant vision
      Cheers the heart of youth!

  Just as though the curtain parted
      From the Life Unseen,
  And a portion of its gladness,
  Unalloy'd by any sadness,
  O'er the ripening spirit darted
      Like the morning's sheen,
  Making us awhile pure-hearted
      And our sky serene.

  Many a pleasure from the real
      Hath our manly prime,
  Though the mystic light is shaded,
  And the rosy dreams have faded;
  For our strengthen'd spirits see all
      Things matured by Time,
  Growing out of the ideal
      Unto truth sublime;

  Blossom unto fruitage golden,
      Hope to certainty;
  All things by divine transition
  Keeping pace with life's ambition,
  New joys springing from the olden
      As we pass them by
  Climbing still, by faith upholden,
      Onward to the sky.

  Many a pleasant recollection
      Hath the heart of Age,
  That life's tide hath staunchly breasted,
  Wrought, achieved and nobly rested,
  Musing with calm retrospection
      Their past pilgrimage;
  Many a sweet and wise reflection
      Hath the heart of Age;

  Looking forward, dreaming ever
      Of the Better Land;
  Waiting for the promised glory,
  That shall bind their temples hoary
  With a brightness fading never
      On that holy strand,
  Crowning life's devout Endeavour
      With a bounteous hand.



  SORROW.


  Through the Earth a Spirit goeth
  Onward still from morn till night,
  Silent as the Time-stream floweth
  Out of darkness into light.

  And her heart is very tender,
  Full of love and kindliness,
  Yearning evermore to render
  Goodness fuller, error less.

  Through the Earth the spirit wendeth,
  And full many a little child
  With light heart her course attendeth,
  By her gentle eyes beguiled;

  Turning to her fond embraces,
  Playing round her as she goes,
  With no shade on their glad faces
  Deeper than the budding rose.

  A maiden dreaming of her lover
  Like a star amid the night,
  Felt the spirit bend above her,
  In between her and the light;

  And she quivered back in terror
  From the spirit's offered kiss;
  Ah! how often, thus, doth error
  Backward fright our souls from bliss!

  Then the spirit "Ah! thou dearest,
  Wilt thou close thy heart from me?
  Through the shadow that thou fearest
  Heaven's own light will shine on thee.

  "Like the streams that most refresh us
  In the desert parch'd and drear,
  Sorrow renders love more precious,
  Makes the cherish'd one more dear."

  On--the spirit circled gently,
  Kindly round a Poet's heart,
  Gazing through the veil intently
  After life's diviner part;

  And the poet bent to meet her,
  For he said "The truth will be
  Made through Sorrow ever sweeter,
  Ever clearer unto me.

  "We are blinded by the sunlight
  From the heaven's _unclouded_ blue,
  But through mist we eye the One-light
  Till we read it through and through."

  To the beautiful the Spirit
  Open'd wide her loving breast,
  Wooed their souls to nestle near it
  And from life's excitement rest,

  Whispering, "Sleep on Sorrow's bosom,
  Dear ones, and your souls will rise
  With fresh sweetness on their blossom,
  Richer perfume, brighter dyes."

  Most shrunk from her, but some weeping
  Yielded to her soft controul;
  And whilst on that bosom sleeping
  Heaven-dew fell upon each soul.

  Young and old fled from her ever
  Waving off her proffered grace,
  Thwarting each divine endeavour,
  Trembling still before her face;

  And she said "Ah! ye are blinded,
  Seeing not the things that are,
  For unto the earnest-minded
  Sorrow is life's guiding star;

  "Not delusive, not unsparing,
  Richer fraught with good than pain,
  Unto life sweet blessings bearing
  Though she scatter them in rain."



  I.

  WRITTEN AT ULLESWATER.

  The tide is rippling to my very feet,
  The mountains are before me, and around,
  Stretching in misty grandeur till they meet
  In one dim bourne, their hoary summits crown'd
  With cloudy chaplets, such as might have bound
  The new-born Thunderer when Saturn fell,
  All wonder-stricken, from his mighty throne.
  The sun is shining upon wooded slopes,
  And distant headlands, with faint shadows thrown
  Amid its brightness like the shatter'd hopes
  Of a young noontide, and its golden light
  Crests the upheaving waters till each swell
  Is tremulous with glory, and the sight
  Pictures strange fancies which no tongue can tell.


  II.

  There is a spell by which the panting soul
  Shakes from its stainless pinions all the gyves
  Wherewith our frail mortality still strives
  To bind it downward 'neath its stern controul;
  When springing from the earth like the sweet lark
  That wings its flight in music to the sky,
  Amid the spheres it wanders, where the eye
  Trembles to blindness, and the last faint spark
  Of Earth's far gleaming flickers and expires;
  Thine is the charm, dear Poesy, which sets
  The cagëd spirit on its heavenward flight,
  And fills its being with those pure desires,
  And holy aspirations, which like light
  Shower on the world in distillations bright.


  III.

  We wander on through life as pilgrims do
  O'er trackless deserts to a distant shrine,
  Weary and parch'd, and to our longing view
  Springs many a false mirage of joy divine,
  That fades before us as we fain pursue
  The empty picture which our fancy drew.
  O thou, my heart! seek not the empty shows
  And gilded nothings of this little Time,
  But let thine endless effort be to climb
  Above Earth's petty vanities and woes
  Unto a nobler range of feelings, joys,
  Which no false leaven of decay alloys,
  But whose substantial sweetness may increase,
  And make thy journey pleasure, and thy slumber peace.


  IV.

  Sweet spirits of the Beautiful! where'er ye dwell,
  Whether upon the misty mountain tops
  With mantling crags about ye, or in dell
  And sunny valley, by the hazel copse
  Wherein the ring-dove nestles, or by streams
  That wander amid woodlands, with the sheen
  Of noontide trembling through the leafy screen
  Down to their mossy banks in fitful gleams,
  That murmur with the linnets and at e'en
  Sigh with the plaintive nightingale, and oft
  Mirror your bright eyes in the sparkling dew,
  Circle me ever with your joyous crew,
  Bring inspirations to me bland and soft,
  And sun my slumbers still with happy dreams.


  V.

  We are ambitious overmuch in life,
  Straining at ends of hard accomplishment,
  And goaded onward by poor discontent,
  We build our little Babels up through strife,
  And bitterness of soul, and motions rife
  With passions that oft slay the innocent,
  Like Priests of Lust plunging the cruel knife
  Into the victims of their wilderment.
  Not thus do thou, but with a patient hand
  Place thou thine acorn in the fertile soil,
  Labouring ever with unhurtful toil,
  And cheerful hope until the seed expand,
  Grow with the strength of truth, and ripening Time,
  And stand at last in majesty sublime.


  VI.

  Mountains! and huge hills! wrap your mighty forms
  Close with mantle of eternal cloud;
  Gather around ye the fierce band of storms;
  And let the stainless snow-drift be your shroud.
  Back from your rugged steeps, and caverns hoar
  Bellow in hoarse disdain the tempest's roar;
  Laugh at the rolling thunder; let the flash
  Of its fierce lightning lumine but your scorn;
  Down your deep-furrow'd slopes let torrents dash,
  And on the winds their hollow rage be borne.
  Ye mighty ones! Why should ye bow your pride,
  And doff your venerable crowns, or dress
  Your wrinkled brows in smiles, or lay aside
  The dread insignias of your mightiness!


  VII.

  TO ELLA.

  Ofttimes I gaze upon thine eyes, fair child,
  Till sense forgets all but the beautiful,
  And my entranced and raptured heart is full
  Of blissful visions, pure, and bland, and mild
  In their o'erstealing, as the rosy sleep
  That falls upon an infant, wafting it
  In balmy dreams to heaven. Within the deep
  The thrilling sea of their blue loveliness,
  By sun-reflected gleams of heaven uplit,
  My spirit bathes in sweet unconsciousness
  Of aught material, and oft doth drink
  Of beauty there, whose freshness never dies,
  Till, pleasure-lapt, it feels as it could sink
  Beneath the waves, and enter paradise.


  VIII.

  I traverse oft in thought the battle-plain
  Of my past life, 'mid many a shatter'd dream
  Of pleasure, and of hope, which youth in vain
  Based on the shifting sands of Time's swift stream,
  Fond bulwarks 'gainst the strong assaults of pain;
  And 'mid their ruins, like an exiled man
  Gazing on scenes where he can dwell no more,
  I stand and mourn their sweet enchantment o'er,
  Where both life's pleasures and its cares began.
  Earth crumbles 'neath our feet as we walk on,
  And leaves a gulf behind none can retrace;
  Its pleasures flash a moment and are gone;
  But if we treasure in our soul _love's_ grace,
  _That_ will refresh and gladden all our race.


      *       *       *       *       *

                    C. WHITTINGHAM, CHISWICK.





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