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Title: Wessex Poems and Other Verses
Author: Hardy, Thomas
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wessex Poems and Other Verses" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcribed from the 1919 Macmillan and Co. “Wessex Poems and Other
Verses; Poems of the Past and the Present” edition by David Price, email

                             WESSEX POEMS AND
                               OTHER VERSES

                                * * * * *

                               THOMAS HARDY

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                        MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
                       ST. MARTIN’S STREET, LONDON

                                * * * * *


   “_Wessex Poems_”: _First Edition_, _Crown_ 8vo, 1898.  _New Edition_
    _First Pocket Edition June_ 1907.  _Reprinted January_ 1909, 1913

     “_Poems_, _Past and Present_”: _First edition_ 1901 (dated 1902)
         _Second Edition_ 1903.  _First Pocket Edition June_ 1907
                _Reprinted January_ 1908, 1913, 1918, 1919

                                * * * * *


OF the miscellaneous collection of verse that follows, only four pieces
have been published, though many were written long ago, and other partly
written.  In some few cases the verses were turned into prose and printed
as such, it having been unanticipated at that time that they might see
the light.

Whenever an ancient and legitimate word of the district, for which there
was no equivalent in received English, suggested itself as the most
natural, nearest, and often only expression of a thought, it has been
made use of, on what seemed good grounds.

The pieces are in a large degree dramatic or personative in conception;
and this even where they are not obviously so.

The dates attached to some of the poems do not apply to the rough
sketches given in illustration, which have been recently made, and, as
may be surmised, are inserted for personal and local reasons rather than
for their intrinsic qualities.

                                                                     T. H.

_September_ 1898.


THE TEMPORARY THE ALL                        1
AMABEL                                       4
HAP                                          7
“IN VISION I ROAMED”                         9
AT A BRIDAL                                 11
POSTPONEMENT                                13
NEUTRAL TONES                               17
SHE                                         19
HER INITIALS                                21
HER DILEMMA                                 23
REVULSION                                   27
SHE, TO HIM, I.                             31
   ,,     ,,   II.                          33
   ,,     ,,   III.                         35
   ,,     ,,   IV.                          37
DITTY                                       39
THE SERGEANT’S SONG                         43
VALENCIENNES                                45
SAN SEBASTIAN                               51
THE STRANGER’S SONG                         59
THE BURGHERS                                61
LEIPZIG                                     67
THE PEASANT’S CONFESSION                    79
THE ALARM                                   91
HER DEATH AND AFTER                        103
THE DANCE AT THE PHŒNIX                    115
THE CASTERBRIDGE CAPTAINS                  125
A SIGN-SEEKER                              129
MY CICELY                                  133
HER IMMORTALITY                            143
THE IVY-WIFE                               147
A MEETING WITH DESPAIR                     149
UNKNOWING                                  153
FRIENDS BEYOND                             155
TO OUTER NATURE                            159
THOUGHTS OF PHENA                          163
MIDDLE-AGE ENTHUSIASMS                     167
IN A WOOD                                  169
TO A LADY                                  173
TO AN ORPHAN CHILD                         175
NATURE’S QUESTIONING                       177
THE IMPERCIPIENT                           181
AT AN INN                                  187
THE SLOW NATURE                            191
HEIRESS AND ARCHITECT                      211
THE TWO MEN                                217
LINES                                      223
“I LOOK INTO MY GLASS”                     227

                 [Picture: Sketch of tower with sun-dial]


   CHANGE and chancefulness in my flowering youthtime,
   Set me sun by sun near to one unchosen;
   Wrought us fellow-like, and despite divergence,
      Friends interlinked us.

   “Cherish him can I while the true one forthcome—
   Come the rich fulfiller of my prevision;
   Life is roomy yet, and the odds unbounded.”
      So self-communed I.

   Thwart my wistful way did a damsel saunter,
   Fair, the while unformed to be all-eclipsing;
   “Maiden meet,” held I, “till arise my forefelt
      Wonder of women.”

   Long a visioned hermitage deep desiring,
   Tenements uncouth I was fain to house in;
   “Let such lodging be for a breath-while,” thought I,
      “Soon a more seemly.

   “Then, high handiwork will I make my life-deed,
   Truth and Light outshow; but the ripe time pending,
   Intermissive aim at the thing sufficeth.”
      Thus I . . . But lo, me!

   Mistress, friend, place, aims to be bettered straightway,
   Bettered not has Fate or my hand’s achieving;
   Sole the showance those of my onward earth-track—
      Never transcended!


   I MARKED her ruined hues,
   Her custom-straitened views,
   And asked, “Can there indwell
      My Amabel?”

   I looked upon her gown,
   Once rose, now earthen brown;
   The change was like the knell
      Of Amabel.

   Her step’s mechanic ways
   Had lost the life of May’s;
   Her laugh, once sweet in swell,
      Spoilt Amabel.

   I mused: “Who sings the strain
   I sang ere warmth did wane?
   Who thinks its numbers spell
      His Amabel?”—

   Knowing that, though Love cease,
   Love’s race shows undecrease;
   All find in dorp or dell
      An Amabel.

   —I felt that I could creep
   To some housetop, and weep,
   That Time the tyrant fell
      Ruled Amabel!

   I said (the while I sighed
   That love like ours had died),
   “Fond things I’ll no more tell
      To Amabel,

   “But leave her to her fate,
   And fling across the gate,
   ‘Till the Last Trump, farewell,
      O Amabel!’”


                     [Picture: Sketch of hour-glass]


   IF but some vengeful god would call to me
   From up the sky, and laugh: “Thou suffering thing,
   Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
   That thy love’s loss is my hate’s profiting!”

   Then would I bear, and clench myself, and die,
   Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
   Half-eased in that a Powerfuller than I
   Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.

   But not so.  How arrives it joy lies slain,
   And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?
   —Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,
   And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan . . .
   These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown
   Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.


TO —

   IN vision I roamed the flashing Firmament,
   So fierce in blazon that the Night waxed wan,
   As though with an awed sense of such ostent;
   And as I thought my spirit ranged on and on

   In footless traverse through ghast heights of sky,
   To the last chambers of the monstrous Dome,
   Where stars the brightest here to darkness die:
   Then, any spot on our own Earth seemed Home!

   And the sick grief that you were far away
   Grew pleasant thankfulness that you were near?
   Who might have been, set on some outstep sphere,
   Less than a Want to me, as day by day
   I lived unware, uncaring all that lay
   Locked in that Universe taciturn and drear.


TO —

   WHEN you paced forth, to wait maternity,
   A dream of other offspring held my mind,
   Compounded of us twain as Love designed;
   Rare forms, that corporate now will never be!

   Should I, too, wed as slave to Mode’s decree,
   And each thus found apart, of false desire,
   A stolid line, whom no high aims will fire
   As had fired ours could ever have mingled we;

   And, grieved that lives so matched should mis-compose,
   Each mourn the double waste; and question dare
   To the Great Dame whence incarnation flows.
   Why those high-purposed children never were:
   What will she answer?  That she does not care
   If the race all such sovereign types unknows.



   SNOW-BOUND in woodland, a mournful word,
   Dropt now and then from the bill of a bird,
   Reached me on wind-wafts; and thus I heard,
      Wearily waiting:—

   “I planned her a nest in a leafless tree,
   But the passers eyed and twitted me,
   And said: ‘How reckless a bird is he,
      Cheerily mating!’

   “Fear-filled, I stayed me till summer-tide,
   In lewth of leaves to throne her bride;
   But alas! her love for me waned and died,
      Wearily waiting.

   “Ah, had I been like some I see,
   Born to an evergreen nesting-tree,
   None had eyed and twitted me,
      Cheerily mating!”



   YOUR troubles shrink not, though I feel them less
   Here, far away, than when I tarried near;
   I even smile old smiles—with listlessness—
   Yet smiles they are, not ghastly mockeries mere.

   A thought too strange to house within my brain
   Haunting its outer precincts I discern:
   —_That I will not show zeal again to learn_
   _Your griefs_, _and sharing them_, _renew my pain_ . . .

   It goes, like murky bird or buccaneer
   That shapes its lawless figure on the main,
   And each new impulse tends to make outflee
   The unseemly instinct that had lodgment here;
   Yet, comrade old, can bitterer knowledge be
   Than that, though banned, such instinct was in me!



   WE stood by a pond that winter day,
   And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
   And a few leaves lay on the starving sod,
      —They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

   Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
   Over tedious riddles solved years ago;
   And some words played between us to and fro—
      On which lost the more by our love.

   The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
   Alive enough to have strength to die;
   And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
      Like an ominous bird a-wing . . .

   Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
   And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
   Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,
      And a pond edged with grayish leaves.


           [Picture: Sketch of church with person outside wall]


   THEY bear him to his resting-place—
   In slow procession sweeping by;
   I follow at a stranger’s space;
   His kindred they, his sweetheart I.
   Unchanged my gown of garish dye,
   Though sable-sad is their attire;
   But they stand round with griefless eye,
   Whilst my regret consumes like fire!


 [Picture: Sketch of open book with two letters hand-written on left-hand


   UPON a poet’s page I wrote
   Of old two letters of her name;
   Part seemed she of the effulgent thought
   Whence that high singer’s rapture came.
   —When now I turn the leaf the same
   Immortal light illumes the lay,
   But from the letters of her name
   The radiance has died away!



   THE two were silent in a sunless church,
   Whose mildewed walls, uneven paving-stones,
   And wasted carvings passed antique research;
   And nothing broke the clock’s dull monotones.

   Leaning against a wormy poppy-head,
   So wan and worn that he could scarcely stand,
   —For he was soon to die,—he softly said,
   “Tell me you love me!”—holding hard her hand.

   She would have given a world to breathe “yes” truly,
   So much his life seemed handing on her mind,
   And hence she lied, her heart persuaded throughly
   ’Twas worth her soul to be a moment kind.

   But the sad need thereof, his nearing death,
   So mocked humanity that she shamed to prize
   A world conditioned thus, or care for breath
   Where Nature such dilemmas could devise.


               [Picture: Sketch of two people in a church]


   THOUGH I waste watches framing words to fetter
   Some spirit to mine own in clasp and kiss,
   Out of the night there looms a sense ’twere better
   To fail obtaining whom one fails to miss.

   For winning love we win the risk of losing,
   And losing love is as one’s life were riven;
   It cuts like contumely and keen ill-using
   To cede what was superfluously given.

   Let me then feel no more the fateful thrilling
   That devastates the love-worn wooer’s frame,
   The hot ado of fevered hopes, the chilling
   That agonizes disappointed aim!
   So may I live no junctive law fulfilling,
   And my heart’s table bear no woman’s name.


    [Picture: Sketch of person walking long path to building on hill]


   WHEN you shall see me in the toils of Time,
   My lauded beauties carried off from me,
   My eyes no longer stars as in their prime,
   My name forgot of Maiden Fair and Free;

   When in your being heart concedes to mind,
   And judgment, though you scarce its process know,
   Recalls the excellencies I once enshrined,
   And you are irked that they have withered so:

   Remembering that with me lies not the blame,
   That Sportsman Time but rears his brood to kill,
   Knowing me in my soul the very same—
   One who would die to spare you touch of ill!—
   Will you not grant to old affection’s claim
   The hand of friendship down Life’s sunless hill?



   PERHAPS, long hence, when I have passed away,
   Some other’s feature, accent, thought like mine,
   Will carry you back to what I used to say,
   And bring some memory of your love’s decline.

   Then you may pause awhile and think, “Poor jade!”
   And yield a sigh to me—as ample due,
   Not as the tittle of a debt unpaid
   To one who could resign her all to you—

   And thus reflecting, you will never see
   That your thin thought, in two small words conveyed,
   Was no such fleeting phantom-thought to me,
   But the Whole Life wherein my part was played;
   And you amid its fitful masquerade
   A Thought—as I in yours but seem to be.



   I WILL be faithful to thee; aye, I will!
   And Death shall choose me with a wondering eye
   That he did not discern and domicile
   One his by right ever since that last Good-bye!

   I have no care for friends, or kin, or prime
   Of manhood who deal gently with me here;
   Amid the happy people of my time
   Who work their love’s fulfilment, I appear

   Numb as a vane that cankers on its point,
   True to the wind that kissed ere canker came;
   Despised by souls of Now, who would disjoint
   The mind from memory, and make Life all aim,

   My old dexterities of hue quite gone,
   And nothing left for Love to look upon.



   This love puts all humanity from me;
   I can but maledict her, pray her dead,
   For giving love and getting love of thee—
   Feeding a heart that else mine own had fed!

   How much I love I know not, life not known,
   Save as some unit I would add love by;
   But this I know, my being is but thine own—
   Fused from its separateness by ecstasy.

   And thus I grasp thy amplitudes, of her
   Ungrasped, though helped by nigh-regarding eyes;
   Canst thou then hate me as an envier
   Who see unrecked what I so dearly prize?
   Believe me, Lost One, Love is lovelier
   The more it shapes its moan in selfish-wise.


(E. L G.)

   BENEATH a knap where flown
      Nestlings play,
   Within walls of weathered stone,
      Far away
   From the files of formal houses,
   By the bough the firstling browses,
   Lives a Sweet: no merchants meet,
   No man barters, no man sells
      Where she dwells.

   Upon that fabric fair
      “Here is she!”
   Seems written everywhere
      Unto me.
   But to friends and nodding neighbours,
   Fellow-wights in lot and labours,
   Who descry the times as I,
   No such lucid legend tells
      Where she dwells.

   Should I lapse to what I was
      Ere we met;
   (Such can not be, but because
      Some forget
   Let me feign it)—none would notice
   That where she I know by rote is
   Spread a strange and withering change,
   Like a drying of the wells
      Where she dwells.

   To feel I might have kissed—
      Loved as true—
   Otherwhere, nor Mine have missed
      My life through.
   Had I never wandered near her,
   Is a smart severe—severer
   In the thought that she is nought,
   Even as I, beyond the dells
      Where she dwells.

   And Devotion droops her glance
      To recall
   What bond-servants of Chance
      We are all.
   I but found her in that, going
   On my errant path unknowing,
   I did not out-skirt the spot
   That no spot on earth excels,
      —Where she dwells!


                [Picture: Sketch of man in military dress]


   WHEN Lawyers strive to heal a breach,
   And Parsons practise what they preach;
   Then Little Boney he’ll pounce down,
   And march his men on London town!
      Rollicum-rorum, tol-lol-lorum,
      Rollicum-rorum, tol-lol-lay!

   When Justices hold equal scales,
   And Rogues are only found in jails;
   Then Little Boney he’ll pounce down,
   And march his men on London town!
      Rollicum-rorum, &c.

   When Rich Men find their wealth a curse,
   And fill therewith the Poor Man’s purse;
   Then Little Boney he’ll pounce down,
   And march his men on London town!
      Rollicum-rorum, &c.

   When Husbands with their Wives agree,
   And Maids won’t wed from modesty;
   Then Little Boney he’ll pounce down,
   And march his men on London town!
      Rollicum-rorum, tol-tol-lorum,
      Rollicum-rorum, tol-lol-lay!


                               _Published in_ “_The Trumpet-Major_,” 1880.

             [Picture: Sketch of cannons overlooking a town]


             BY CORP’L TULLIDGE: _see_ “_The Trumpet-Major_”
                IN MEMORY OF S. C. (PENSIONER).  DIED 184–

      WE trenched, we trumpeted and drummed,
   And from our mortars tons of iron hummed
      Ath’art the ditch, the month we bombed
         The Town o’ Valencieën.

      ’Twas in the June o’ Ninety-dree
   (The Duke o’ Yark our then Commander been)
      The German Legion, Guards, and we
         Laid siege to Valencieën.

      This was the first time in the war
   That French and English spilled each other’s gore;
      —Few dreamt how far would roll the roar
         Begun at Valencieën!

      ’Twas said that we’d no business there
   A-topperèn the French for disagreën;
      However, that’s not my affair—
         We were at Valencieën.

      Such snocks and slats, since war began
   Never knew raw recruit or veteran:
      Stone-deaf therence went many a man
         Who served at Valencieën.

      Into the streets, ath’art the sky,
   A hundred thousand balls and bombs were fleën;
      And harmless townsfolk fell to die
         Each hour at Valencieën!

      And, sweatèn wi’ the bombardiers,
   A shell was slent to shards anighst my ears:
      —’Twas nigh the end of hopes and fears
         For me at Valencieën!

      They bore my wownded frame to camp,
   And shut my gapèn skull, and washed en cleän,
      And jined en wi’ a zilver clamp
         Thik night at Valencieën.

      “We’ve fetched en back to quick from dead;
   But never more on earth while rose is red
      Will drum rouse Corpel!” Doctor said
         O’ me at Valencieën.

      ’Twer true.  No voice o’ friend or foe
   Can reach me now, or any livèn beën;
      And little have I power to know
         Since then at Valencieën!

      I never hear the zummer hums
   O’ bees; and don’ know when the cuckoo comes;
      But night and day I hear the bombs
         We threw at Valencieën . . .

      As for the Duke o’ Yark in war,
   There be some volk whose judgment o’ en is mean;
      But this I say—a was not far
         From great at Valencieën.

      O’ wild wet nights, when all seems sad,
   My wownds come back, as though new wownds I’d had;
      But yet—at times I’m sort o’ glad
         I fout at Valencieën.

      Well: Heaven wi’ its jasper halls
   Is now the on’y Town I care to be in . . .
      Good Lord, if Nick should bomb the walls
         As we did Valencieën!


(August 1813)


   “WHY, Sergeant, stray on the Ivel Way,
   As though at home there were spectres rife?
   From first to last ’twas a proud career!
   And your sunny years with a gracious wife
      Have brought you a daughter dear.

   “I watched her to-day; a more comely maid,
   As she danced in her muslin bowed with blue,
   Round a Hintock maypole never gayed.”
   —“Aye, aye; I watched her this day, too,
      As it happens,” the Sergeant said.

   “My daughter is now,” he again began,
   “Of just such an age as one I knew
   When we of the Line and Forlorn-hope van,
   On an August morning—a chosen few—
      Stormed San Sebastian.

   “She’s a score less three; so about was _she_—
   The maiden I wronged in Peninsular days . . .
   You may prate of your prowess in lusty times,
   But as years gnaw inward you blink your bays,
      And see too well your crimes!

   “We’d stormed it at night, by the vlanker-light
   Of burning towers, and the mortar’s boom:
   We’d topped the breach; but had failed to stay,
   For our files were misled by the baffling gloom;
      And we said we’d storm by day.

                      [Picture: Sketch of mountain]

   “So, out of the trenches, with features set,
   On that hot, still morning, in measured pace,
   Our column climbed; climbed higher yet,
   Past the fauss’bray, scarp, up the curtain-face,
      And along the parapet.

   “From the battened hornwork the cannoneers
   Hove crashing balls of iron fire;
   On the shaking gap mount the volunteers
   In files, and as they mount expire
      Amid curses, groans, and cheers.

   “Five hours did we storm, five hours re-form,
   As Death cooled those hot blood pricked on;
   Till our cause was helped by a woe within:
   They swayed from the summit we’d leapt upon,
      And madly we entered in.

   “On end for plunder, ’mid rain and thunder
   That burst with the lull of our cannonade,
   We vamped the streets in the stifling air—
   Our hunger unsoothed, our thirst unstayed—
      And ransacked the buildings there.

   “Down the stony steps of the house-fronts white
   We rolled rich puncheons of Spanish grape,
   Till at length, with the fire of the wine alight,
   I saw at a doorway a fair fresh shape—
      A woman, a sylph, or sprite.

   “Afeard she fled, and with heated head
   I pursued to the chamber she called her own;
   —When might is right no qualms deter,
   And having her helpless and alone
      I wreaked my will on her.

   “She raised her beseeching eyes to me,
   And I heard the words of prayer she sent
   In her own soft language . . . Seemingly
   I copied those eyes for my punishment
      In begetting the girl you see!

   “So, to-day I stand with a God-set brand
   Like Cain’s, when he wandered from kindred’s ken . . .
   I served through the war that made Europe free;
   I wived me in peace-year.  But, hid from men,
      I bear that mark on me.

   “And I nightly stray on the Ivel Way
   As though at home there were spectres rife;
   I delight me not in my proud career;
   And ’tis coals of fire that a gracious wife
      Should have brought me a daughter dear!”


    (_As sung by_ MR. CHARLES CHARRINGTON _in the play of_ “_The Three

               O MY trade it is the rarest one,
   Simple shepherds all—
         My trade is a sight to see;
   For my customers I tie, and take ’em up on high,
      And waft ’em to a far countree!

   My tools are but common ones,
               Simple shepherds all—
         My tools are no sight to see:
   A little hempen string, and a post whereon to swing,
      Are implements enough for me!

   To-morrow is my working day,
            Simple shepherds all—
         To-morrow is a working day for me:
   For the farmer’s sheep is slain, and the lad who did it ta’en,
      And on his soul may God ha’ mer-cy!

                               _Printed in_ “_The Three Strangers_,” 1883.

                  [Picture: Sketch of man in old street]


   THE sun had wheeled from Grey’s to Dammer’s Crest,
   And still I mused on that Thing imminent:
   At length I sought the High-street to the West.

   The level flare raked pane and pediment
   And my wrecked face, and shaped my nearing friend
   Like one of those the Furnace held unshent.

   “I’ve news concerning her,” he said.  “Attend.
   They fly to-night at the late moon’s first gleam:
   Watch with thy steel: two righteous thrusts will end

   Her shameless visions and his passioned dream.
   I’ll watch with thee, to testify thy wrong—
   To aid, maybe.—Law consecrates the scheme.”

   I started, and we paced the flags along
   Till I replied: “Since it has come to this
   I’ll do it!  But alone.  I can be strong.”

   Three hours past Curfew, when the Froom’s mild hiss
   Reigned sole, undulled by whirr of merchandize,
   From Pummery-Tout to where the Gibbet is,

   I crossed my pleasaunce hard by Glyd’path Rise,
   And stood beneath the wall.  Eleven strokes went,
   And to the door they came, contrariwise,

   And met in clasp so close I had but bent
   My lifted blade upon them to have let
   Their two souls loose upon the firmament.

   But something held my arm.  “A moment yet
   As pray-time ere you wantons die!” I said;
   And then they saw me.  Swift her gaze was set

   With eye and cry of love illimited
   Upon her Heart-king.  Never upon me
   Had she thrown look of love so thorough-sped! . . .

   At once she flung her faint form shieldingly
   On his, against the vengeance of my vows;
   The which o’erruling, her shape shielded he.

   Blanked by such love, I stood as in a drowse,
   And the slow moon edged from the upland nigh,
   My sad thoughts moving thuswise: “I may house

   And I may husband her, yet what am I
   But licensed tyrant to this bonded pair?
   Says Charity, Do as ye would be done by.” . . .

   Hurling my iron to the bushes there,
   I bade them stay.  And, as if brain and breast
   Were passive, they walked with me to the stair.

   Inside the house none watched; and on we prest
   Before a mirror, in whose gleam I read
   Her beauty, his,—and mine own mien unblest;

   Till at her room I turned.  “Madam,” I said,
   “Have you the wherewithal for this?  Pray speak.
   Love fills no cupboard.  You’ll need daily bread.”

   “We’ve nothing, sire,” said she; “and nothing seek.
   ’Twere base in me to rob my lord unware;
   Our hands will earn a pittance week by week.”

   And next I saw she’d piled her raiment rare
   Within the garde-robes, and her household purse,
   Her jewels, and least lace of personal wear;

   And stood in homespun.  Now grown wholly hers,
   I handed her the gold, her jewels all,
   And him the choicest of her robes diverse.

   “I’ll take you to the doorway in the wall,
   And then adieu,” I to them.  “Friends, withdraw.”
   They did so; and she went—beyond recall.

   And as I paused beneath the arch I saw
   Their moonlit figures—slow, as in surprise—
   Descend the slope, and vanish on the haw.

   “‘Fool,’ some will say,” I thought.  “But who is wise,
   Save God alone, to weigh my reasons why?”
   —“Hast thou struck home?” came with the boughs’ night-sighs.

   It was my friend.  “I have struck well.  They fly,
   But carry wounds that none can cicatrize.”
   —“Not mortal?” said he.  “Lingering—worse,” said I.


      _Scene_: _The Master-tradesmen’s Parlour at the Old Ship Inn_,
                       _Casterbridge_.  _Evening_.

   “OLD Norbert with the flat blue cap—
      A German said to be—
   Why let your pipe die on your lap,
      Your eyes blink absently?”—

   —“Ah! . . . Well, I had thought till my cheek was wet
      Of my mother—her voice and mien
   When she used to sing and pirouette,
      And touse the tambourine

   “To the march that yon street-fiddler plies:
      She told me ’twas the same
   She’d heard from the trumpets, when the Allies
      Her city overcame.

   “My father was one of the German Hussars,
      My mother of Leipzig; but he,
   Long quartered here, fetched her at close of the wars,
      And a Wessex lad reared me.

   “And as I grew up, again and again
      She’d tell, after trilling that air,
   Of her youth, and the battles on Leipzig plain
      And of all that was suffered there! . . .

   “—’Twas a time of alarms.  Three Chiefs-at-arms
      Combined them to crush One,
   And by numbers’ might, for in equal fight
      He stood the matched of none.

   “Carl Schwarzenberg was of the plot,
      And Blücher, prompt and prow,
   And Jean the Crown-Prince Bernadotte:
      Buonaparte was the foe.

   “City and plain had felt his reign
      From the North to the Middle Sea,
   And he’d now sat down in the noble town
      Of the King of Saxony.

   “October’s deep dew its wet gossamer threw
      Upon Leipzig’s lawns, leaf-strewn,
   Where lately each fair avenue
      Wrought shade for summer noon.

   “To westward two dull rivers crept
      Through miles of marsh and slough,
   Whereover a streak of whiteness swept—
      The Bridge of Lindenau.

   “Hard by, in the City, the One, care-tossed,
      Gloomed over his shrunken power;
   And without the walls the hemming host
      Waxed denser every hour.

   “He had speech that night on the morrow’s designs
      With his chiefs by the bivouac fire,
   While the belt of flames from the enemy’s lines
      Flared nigher him yet and nigher.

   “Three sky-lights then from the girdling trine
      Told, ‘Ready!’  As they rose
   Their flashes seemed his Judgment-Sign
      For bleeding Europe’s woes.

   “’Twas seen how the French watch-fires that night
      Glowed still and steadily;
   And the Three rejoiced, for they read in the sight
      That the One disdained to flee . . .

   “—Five hundred guns began the affray
      On next day morn at nine;
   Such mad and mangling cannon-play
      Had never torn human line.

   “Around the town three battles beat,
      Contracting like a gin;
   As nearer marched the million feet
      Of columns closing in.

   “The first battle nighed on the low Southern side;
      The second by the Western way;
   The nearing of the third on the North was heard:
      —The French held all at bay.

   “Against the first band did the Emperor stand;
      Against the second stood Ney;
   Marmont against the third gave the order-word:
      —Thus raged it throughout the day.

   “Fifty thousand sturdy souls on those trampled plains and knolls,
      Who met the dawn hopefully,
   And were lotted their shares in a quarrel not theirs,
      Dropt then in their agony.

   “‘O,’ the old folks said, ‘ye Preachers stern!
      O so-called Christian time!
   When will men’s swords to ploughshares turn?
      When come the promised prime?’ . . .

   “—The clash of horse and man which that day began,
      Closed not as evening wore;
   And the morrow’s armies, rear and van,
      Still mustered more and more.

   “From the City towers the Confederate Powers
      Were eyed in glittering lines,
   And up from the vast a murmuring passed
      As from a wood of pines.

   “‘’Tis well to cover a feeble skill
      By numbers!’ scoffèd He;
   ‘But give me a third of their strength, I’d fill
      Half Hell with their soldiery!’

                [Picture: Sketch of town square, Leipzig?]

   “All that day raged the war they waged,
      And again dumb night held reign,
   Save that ever upspread from the dark deathbed
      A miles-wide pant of pain.

   “Hard had striven brave Ney, the true Bertrand,
      Victor, and Augereau,
   Bold Poniatowski, and Lauriston,
      To stay their overthrow;

   “But, as in the dream of one sick to death
      There comes a narrowing room
   That pens him, body and limbs and breath,
      To wait a hideous doom,

   “So to Napoleon, in the hush
      That held the town and towers
   Through these dire nights, a creeping crush
      Seemed inborne with the hours.

   “One road to the rearward, and but one,
      Did fitful Chance allow;
   ’Twas where the Pleiss’ and Elster run—
      The Bridge of Lindenau.

   “The nineteenth dawned.  Down street and Platz
      The wasted French sank back,
   Stretching long lines across the Flats
      And on the bridge-way track;

   “When there surged on the sky an earthen wave,
      And stones, and men, as though
   Some rebel churchyard crew updrave
      Their sepulchres from below.

   “To Heaven is blown Bridge Lindenau;
      Wrecked regiments reel therefrom;
   And rank and file in masses plough
      The sullen Elster-Strom.

   “A gulf was Lindenau; and dead
      Were fifties, hundreds, tens;
   And every current rippled red
      With Marshal’s blood and men’s.

   “The smart Macdonald swam therein,
      And barely won the verge;
   Bold Poniatowski plunged him in
      Never to re-emerge.

   “Then stayed the strife.  The remnants wound
      Their Rhineward way pell-mell;
   And thus did Leipzig City sound
      An Empire’s passing bell;

   “While in cavalcade, with band and blade,
      Came Marshals, Princes, Kings;
   And the town was theirs . . . Ay, as simple maid,
      My mother saw these things!

   “And whenever those notes in the street begin,
      I recall her, and that far scene,
   And her acting of how the Allies marched in,
      And her touse of the tambourine!”

   [Picture: Sketch of person standing outside bay window, looking in]


    “Si le maréchal Grouchy avait été rejoint par l’officier que Napoléon
    lui avait expédié la veille à dix heures du soir, toute question eût
    disparu.  Mais cet officier n’était point parvenu à sa destination,
    ainsi que le maréchal n’a cessé de l’affirmer toute sa vie, et il
    faut l’en croire, car autrement il n’aurait eu aucune raison pour
    hésiter.  Cet officier avait-il été pris? avait-il passé à l’ennemi?
    C’est ce qu’on a toujours ignoré.”

                             —THIERS: _Histoire de l’Empire_.  “Waterloo.”

   GOOD Father! . . . ’Twas an eve in middle June,
      And war was waged anew
   By great Napoleon, who for years had strewn
      Men’s bones all Europe through.

   Three nights ere this, with columned corps he’d crossed
      The Sambre at Charleroi,
   To move on Brussels, where the English host
      Dallied in Parc and Bois.

   The yestertide we’d heard the gloomy gun
      Growl through the long-sunned day
   From Quatre-Bras and Ligny; till the dun
      Twilight suppressed the fray;

   Albeit therein—as lated tongues bespoke—
      Brunswick’s high heart was drained,
   And Prussia’s Line and Landwehr, though unbroke,
      Stood cornered and constrained.

   And at next noon-time Grouchy slowly passed
      With thirty thousand men:
   We hoped thenceforth no army, small or vast,
      Would trouble us again.

   My hut lay deeply in a vale recessed,
      And never a soul seemed nigh
   When, reassured at length, we went to rest—
      My children, wife, and I.

   But what was this that broke our humble ease?
      What noise, above the rain,
   Above the dripping of the poplar trees
      That smote along the pane?

   —A call of mastery, bidding me arise,
      Compelled me to the door,
   At which a horseman stood in martial guise—
      Splashed—sweating from every pore.

   Had I seen Grouchy?  Yes?  Which track took he?
      Could I lead thither on?—
   Fulfilment would ensure gold pieces three,
      Perchance more gifts anon.

   “I bear the Emperor’s mandate,” then he said,
      “Charging the Marshal straight
   To strike between the double host ahead
      Ere they co-operate,

   “Engaging Blücher till the Emperor put
      Lord Wellington to flight,
   And next the Prussians.  This to set afoot
      Is my emprise to-night.”

   I joined him in the mist; but, pausing, sought
      To estimate his say.
   Grouchy had made for Wavre; and yet, on thought,
      I did not lead that way.

   I mused: “If Grouchy thus instructed be,
      The clash comes sheer hereon;
   My farm is stript.  While, as for pieces three,
      Money the French have none.

   “Grouchy unwarned, moreo’er, the English win,
      And mine is left to me—
   They buy, not borrow.”—Hence did I begin
      To lead him treacherously.

   By Joidoigne, near to east, as we ondrew,
      Dawn pierced the humid air;
   And eastward faced I with him, though I knew
      Never marched Grouchy there.

   Near Ottignies we passed, across the Dyle
      (Lim’lette left far aside),
   And thence direct toward Pervez and Noville
      Through green grain, till he cried:

   “I doubt thy conduct, man! no track is here—
      I doubt thy gagèd word!”
   Thereat he scowled on me, and pranced me near,
      And pricked me with his sword.

   “Nay, Captain, hold!  We skirt, not trace the course
      Of Grouchy,” said I then:
   “As we go, yonder went he, with his force
      Of thirty thousand men.”

   —At length noon nighed; when west, from Saint-John’s-Mound,
      A hoarse artillery boomed,
   And from Saint-Lambert’s upland, chapel-crowned,
      The Prussian squadrons loomed.

   Then to the wayless wet gray ground he leapt;
      “My mission fails!” he cried;
   “Too late for Grouchy now to intercept,
      For, peasant, you have lied!”

   He turned to pistol me.  I sprang, and drew
      The sabre from his flank,
   And ’twixt his nape and shoulder, ere he knew,
      I struck, and dead he sank.

                      [Picture: Sketch of landscape]

   I hid him deep in nodding rye and oat—
      His shroud green stalks and loam;
   His requiem the corn-blade’s husky note—
      And then I hastened home, . . .

   —Two armies writhe in coils of red and blue,
      And brass and iron clang
   From Goumont, past the front of Waterloo,
      To Pap’lotte and Smohain.

   The Guard Imperial wavered on the height;
      The Emperor’s face grew glum;
   “I sent,” he said, “to Grouchy yesternight,
      And yet he does not come!”

   ’Twas then, Good Father, that the French espied,
      Streaking the summer land,
   The men of Blücher.  But the Emperor cried,
      “Grouchy is now at hand!”

   And meanwhile Vand’leur, Vivian, Maitland, Kempt,
      Met d’Erlon, Friant, Ney;
   But Grouchy—mis-sent, blamed, yet blame-exempt—
      Grouchy was far away.

   By even, slain or struck, Michel the strong,
      Bold Travers, Dnop, Delord,
   Smart Guyot, Reil-le, l’Heriter, Friant,
      Scattered that champaign o’er.

   Fallen likewise wronged Duhesme, and skilled Lobau
      Did that red sunset see;
   Colbert, Legros, Blancard! . . . And of the foe
      Picton and Ponsonby;

   With Gordon, Canning, Blackman, Ompteda,
      L’Estrange, Delancey, Packe,
   Grose, D’Oyly, Stables, Morice, Howard, Hay,
      Von Schwerin, Watzdorf, Boek,

   Smith, Phelips, Fuller, Lind, and Battersby,
      And hosts of ranksmen round . . .
   Memorials linger yet to speak to thee
      Of those that bit the ground!

   The Guards’ last column yielded; dykes of dead
      Lay between vale and ridge,
   As, thinned yet closing, faint yet fierce, they sped
      In packs to Genappe Bridge.

   Safe was my stock; my capple cow unslain;
         Intact each cock and hen;
   But Grouchy far at Wavre all day had lain,
      And thirty thousand men.

   O Saints, had I but lost my earing corn
      And saved the cause once prized!
   O Saints, why such false witness had I borne
      When late I’d sympathized! . . .

   So now, being old, my children eye askance
      My slowly dwindling store,
   And crave my mite; till, worn with tarriance,
      I care for life no more.

   To Almighty God henceforth I stand confessed,
      And Virgin-Saint Marie;
   O Michael, John, and Holy Ones in rest,
      Entreat the Lord for me!

             [Picture: Silhouette of solder standing on hill]


                       _See_ “_The Trumpet-Major_”


         IN a ferny byway
         Near the great South-Wessex Highway,
      A homestead raised its breakfast-smoke aloft;
   The dew-damps still lay steamless, for the sun had made no sky-way,
         And twilight cloaked the croft.

         ’Twas hard to realize on
         This snug side the mute horizon
      That beyond it hostile armaments might steer,
   Save from seeing in the porchway a fair woman weep with eyes on
         A harnessed Volunteer.

         In haste he’d flown there
         To his comely wife alone there,
      While marching south hard by, to still her fears,
   For she soon would be a mother, and few messengers were known there
         In these campaigning years.

         ’Twas time to be Good-bying,
         Since the assembly-hour was nighing
      In royal George’s town at six that morn;
   And betwixt its wharves and this retreat were ten good miles of hieing
      Ere ring of bugle-horn.

         “I’ve laid in food, Dear,
         And broached the spiced and brewed, Dear;
      And if our July hope should antedate,
   Let the char-wench mount and gallop by the halterpath and wood, Dear,
         And fetch assistance straight.

         “As for Buonaparte, forget him;
         He’s not like to land!  But let him,
      Those strike with aim who strike for wives and sons!
   And the war-boats built to float him; ’twere but wanted to upset him
         A slat from Nelson’s guns!

         “But, to assure thee,
         And of creeping fears to cure thee,
      If he _should_ be rumoured anchoring in the Road,
   Drive with the nurse to Kingsbere; and let nothing thence allure thee
         Till we’ve him safe-bestowed.

         “Now, to turn to marching matters:—
         I’ve my knapsack, firelock, spatters,
      Crossbelts, priming-horn, stock, bay’net, blackball, clay,
   Pouch, magazine, flints, flint-box that at every quick-step clatters;
      . . . My heart, Dear; that must stay!”

         —With breathings broken
         Farewell was kissed unspoken,
      And they parted there as morning stroked the panes;
   And the Volunteer went on, and turned, and twirled his glove for
      And took the coastward lanes.

         When above He’th Hills he found him,
         He saw, on gazing round him,
      The Barrow-Beacon burning—burning low,
   As if, perhaps, uplighted ever since he’d homeward bound him;
         And it meant: Expect the Foe!

      [Picture: Sketch of person riding with wide landscape behind]

         Leaving the byway,
         And following swift the highway,
      Car and chariot met he, faring fast inland;
   “He’s anchored, Soldier!” shouted some: “God save thee, marching thy
      Th’lt front him on the strand!”

         He slowed; he stopped; he paltered
         Awhile with self, and faltered,
      “Why courting misadventure shoreward roam?
   To Molly, surely!  Seek the woods with her till times have altered;
         Charity favours home.

         “Else, my denying
         He would come she’ll read as lying—
      Think the Barrow-Beacon must have met my eyes—
   That my words were not unwareness, but deceit of her, while trying
         My life to jeopardize.

         “At home is stocked provision,
         And to-night, without suspicion,
      We might bear it with us to a covert near;
   Such sin, to save a childing wife, would earn it Christ’s remission,
      Though none forgive it here!”

         While thus he, thinking,
         A little bird, quick drinking
      Among the crowfoot tufts the river bore,
   Was tangled in their stringy arms, and fluttered, well-nigh sinking,
      Near him, upon the moor.

         He stepped in, reached, and seized it,
         And, preening, had released it
      But that a thought of Holy Writ occurred,
   And Signs Divine ere battle, till it seemed him Heaven had pleased it
      As guide to send the bird.

         “O Lord, direct me! . . .
         Doth Duty now expect me
      To march a-coast, or guard my weak ones near?
   Give this bird a flight according, that I thence know to elect me
      The southward or the rear.”

         He loosed his clasp; when, rising,
         The bird—as if surmising—
      Bore due to southward, crossing by the Froom,
   And Durnover Great-Field and Fort, the soldier clear advising—
         Prompted he wist by Whom.

         Then on he panted
         By grim Mai-Don, and slanted
      Up the steep Ridge-way, hearkening betwixt whiles;
   Till, nearing coast and harbour, he beheld the shore-line planted
      With Foot and Horse for miles.

         Mistrusting not the omen,
         He gained the beach, where Yeomen,
      Militia, Fencibles, and Pikemen bold,
   With Regulars in thousands, were enmassed to meet the Foemen,
      Whose fleet had not yet shoaled.

         Captain and Colonel,
         Sere Generals, Ensigns vernal,
      Were there; of neighbour-natives, Michel, Smith,
   Meggs, Bingham, Gambier, Cunningham, roused by the hued nocturnal
      Swoop on their land and kith.

         But Buonaparte still tarried;
         His project had miscarried;
      At the last hour, equipped for victory,
   The fleet had paused; his subtle combinations had been parried
      By British strategy.

         Homeward returning
         Anon, no beacons burning,
      No alarms, the Volunteer, in modest bliss,
   Te Deum sang with wife and friends: “We praise Thee, Lord, discerning
         That Thou hast helped in this!”


   ’TWAS a death-bed summons, and forth I went
   By the way of the Western Wall, so drear
   On that winter night, and sought a gate—
         The home, by Fate,
      Of one I had long held dear.

   And there, as I paused by her tenement,
   And the trees shed on me their rime and hoar,
   I thought of the man who had left her lone—
         Him who made her his own
      When I loved her, long before.

   The rooms within had the piteous shine
   That home-things wear when there’s aught amiss;
   From the stairway floated the rise and fall
         Of an infant’s call,
      Whose birth had brought her to this.

   Her life was the price she would pay for that whine—
   For a child by the man she did not love.
   “But let that rest for ever,” I said,
         And bent my tread
      To the chamber up above.

   She took my hand in her thin white own,
   And smiled her thanks—though nigh too weak—
   And made them a sign to leave us there
         Then faltered, ere
      She could bring herself to speak.

   “’Twas to see you before I go—he’ll condone
   Such a natural thing now my time’s not much—
   When Death is so near it hustles hence
         All passioned sense
      Between woman and man as such!

   “My husband is absent.  As heretofore
   The City detains him.  But, in truth,
   He has not been kind . . . I will speak no blame,
         But—the child is lame;
      O, I pray she may reach his ruth!

   “Forgive past days—I can say no more—
   Maybe if we’d wedded you’d now repine! . . .
   But I treated you ill.  I was punished.  Farewell!
         —Truth shall I tell?
      Would the child were yours and mine!

   “As a wife I was true.  But, such my unease
   That, could I insert a deed back in Time,
   I’d make her yours, to secure your care;
         And the scandal bear,
      And the penalty for the crime!”

   —When I had left, and the swinging trees
   Rang above me, as lauding her candid say,
   Another was I.  Her words were enough:
         Came smooth, came rough,
      I felt I could live my day.

   Next night she died; and her obsequies
   In the Field of Tombs, by the Via renowned,
   Had her husband’s heed.  His tendance spent,
         I often went
      And pondered by her mound.

   All that year and the next year whiled,
   And I still went thitherward in the gloam;
   But the Town forgot her and her nook,
         And her husband took
      Another Love to his home.

   And the rumour flew that the lame lone child
   Whom she wished for its safety child of mine,
   Was treated ill when offspring came
         Of the new-made dame,
      And marked a more vigorous line.

                      [Picture: Sketch of cemetery]

   A smarter grief within me wrought
   Than even at loss of her so dear;
   Dead the being whose soul my soul suffused,
         Her child ill-used,
      I helpless to interfere!

   One eve as I stood at my spot of thought
   In the white-stoned Garth, brooding thus her wrong,
   Her husband neared; and to shun his view
         By her hallowed mew
      I went from the tombs among

   To the Cirque of the Gladiators which faced—
   That haggard mark of Imperial Rome,
   Whose Pagan echoes mock the chime
         Of our Christian time:
      It was void, and I inward clomb.

   Scarce night the sun’s gold touch displaced
   From the vast Rotund and the neighbouring dead
   When her husband followed; bowed; half-passed,
         With lip upcast;
      Then, halting, sullenly said:

   “It is noised that you visit my first wife’s tomb.
   Now, I gave her an honoured name to bear
   While living, when dead.  So I’ve claim to ask
         By what right you task
      My patience by vigiling there?

   “There’s decency even in death, I assume;
   Preserve it, sir, and keep away;
   For the mother of my first-born you
         Show mind undue!
      —Sir, I’ve nothing more to say.”

   A desperate stroke discerned I then—
   God pardon—or pardon not—the lie;
   She had sighed that she wished (lest the child should pine
         Of slights) ’twere mine,
      So I said: “But the father I.

   “That you thought it yours is the way of men;
   But I won her troth long ere your day:
   You learnt how, in dying, she summoned me?
         ’Twas in fealty.
      —Sir, I’ve nothing more to say,

   “Save that, if you’ll hand me my little maid,
   I’ll take her, and rear her, and spare you toil.
   Think it more than a friendly act none can;
         I’m a lonely man,
      While you’ve a large pot to boil.

   “If not, and you’ll put it to ball or blade—
   To-night, to-morrow night, anywhen—
   I’ll meet you here . . . But think of it,
         And in season fit
      Let me hear from you again.”

   —Well, I went away, hoping; but nought I heard
   Of my stroke for the child, till there greeted me
   A little voice that one day came
         To my window-frame
      And babbled innocently:

   “My father who’s not my own, sends word
   I’m to stay here, sir, where I belong!”
   Next a writing came: “Since the child was the fruit
         Of your lawless suit,
      Pray take her, to right a wrong.”

   And I did.  And I gave the child my love,
   And the child loved me, and estranged us none.
   But compunctions loomed; for I’d harmed the dead
         By what I’d said
      For the good of the living one.

   —Yet though, God wot, I am sinner enough,
   And unworthy the woman who drew me so,
   Perhaps this wrong for her darling’s good
         She forgives, or would,
      If only she could know!

                   [Picture: Sketch of tree-lined path]

                                * * * * *

             [Picture: Sketch of a decorative stave of music]


   TO Jenny came a gentle youth
      From inland leazes lone,
   His love was fresh as apple-blooth
      By Parrett, Yeo, or Tone.
   And duly he entreated her
   To be his tender minister,
      And call him aye her own.

   Fair Jenny’s life had hardly been
      A life of modesty;
   At Casterbridge experience keen
      Of many loves had she
   From scarcely sixteen years above;
   Among them sundry troopers of
      The King’s-Own Cavalry.

   But each with charger, sword, and gun,
      Had bluffed the Biscay wave;
   And Jenny prized her gentle one
      For all the love he gave.
   She vowed to be, if they were wed,
   His honest wife in heart and head
      From bride-ale hour to grave.

   Wedded they were.  Her husband’s trust
      In Jenny knew no bound,
   And Jenny kept her pure and just,
      Till even malice found
   No sin or sign of ill to be
   In one who walked so decently
      The duteous helpmate’s round.

   Two sons were born, and bloomed to men,
      And roamed, and were as not:
   Alone was Jenny left again
      As ere her mind had sought
   A solace in domestic joys,
   And ere the vanished pair of boys
      Were sent to sun her cot.

   She numbered near on sixty years,
      And passed as elderly,
   When, in the street, with flush of fears,
      One day discovered she,
   From shine of swords and thump of drum.
   Her early loves from war had come,
      The King’s-Own Cavalry.

   She turned aside, and bowed her head
      Anigh Saint Peter’s door;
   “Alas for chastened thoughts!” she said;
      “I’m faded now, and hoar,
   And yet those notes—they thrill me through,
   And those gay forms move me anew
      As in the years of yore!” . . .

   ’Twas Christmas, and the Phœnix Inn
      Was lit with tapers tall,
   For thirty of the trooper men
      Had vowed to give a ball
   As “Theirs” had done (’twas handed down)
   When lying in the selfsame town
      Ere Buonaparté’s fall.

   That night the throbbing “Soldier’s Joy,”
      The measured tread and sway
   Of “Fancy-Lad” and “Maiden Coy,”
      Reached Jenny as she lay
   Beside her spouse; till springtide blood
   Seemed scouring through her like a flood
      That whisked the years away.

   She rose, and rayed, and decked her head
      Where the bleached hairs ran thin;
   Upon her cap two bows of red
      She fixed with hasty pin;
   Unheard descending to the street,
   She trod the flags with tune-led feet,
      And stood before the Inn.

   Save for the dancers’, not a sound
      Disturbed the icy air;
   No watchman on his midnight round
      Or traveller was there;
   But over All-Saints’, high and bright,
   Pulsed to the music Sirius white,
      The Wain by Bullstake Square.

   She knocked, but found her further stride
      Checked by a sergeant tall:
   “Gay Granny, whence come you?” he cried;
      “This is a private ball.”
   —“No one has more right here than me!
   Ere you were born, man,” answered she,
      “I knew the regiment all!”

   “Take not the lady’s visit ill!”
      Upspoke the steward free;
   “We lack sufficient partners still,
      So, prithee let her be!”
   They seized and whirled her ’mid the maze,
   And Jenny felt as in the days
      Of her immodesty.

   Hour chased each hour, and night advanced;
      She sped as shod with wings;
   Each time and every time she danced—
      Reels, jigs, poussettes, and flings:
   They cheered her as she soared and swooped,
   (She’d learnt ere art in dancing drooped
      From hops to slothful swings).

   The favourite Quick-step “Speed the Plough”—
      (Cross hands, cast off, and wheel)—
   “The Triumph,” “Sylph,” “The Row-dow-dow,”
      Famed “Major Malley’s Reel,”
   “The Duke of York’s,” “The Fairy Dance,”
   “The Bridge of Lodi” (brought from France),
      She beat out, toe and heel.

   The “Fall of Paris” clanged its close,
      And Peter’s chime told four,
   When Jenny, bosom-beating, rose
      To seek her silent door.
   They tiptoed in escorting her,
   Lest stroke of heel or clink of spur
      Should break her goodman’s snore.

   The fire that late had burnt fell slack
      When lone at last stood she;
   Her nine-and-fifty years came back;
      She sank upon her knee
   Beside the durn, and like a dart
   A something arrowed through her heart
      In shoots of agony.

   Their footsteps died as she leant there,
      Lit by the morning star
   Hanging above the moorland, where
      The aged elm-rows are;
   And, as o’ernight, from Pummery Ridge
   To Maembury Ring and Standfast Bridge
      No life stirred, near or far.

   Though inner mischief worked amain,
      She reached her husband’s side;
   Where, toil-weary, as he had lain
      Beneath the patchwork pied
   When yestereve she’d forthward crept,
   And as unwitting, still he slept
      Who did in her confide.

   A tear sprang as she turned and viewed
      His features free from guile;
   She kissed him long, as when, just wooed,
      She chose his domicile.
   She felt she could have given her life
   To be the single-hearted wife
      That she had been erstwhile.

   Time wore to six.  Her husband rose
      And struck the steel and stone;
   He glanced at Jenny, whose repose
      Seemed deeper than his own.
   With dumb dismay, on closer sight,
   He gathered sense that in the night,
      Or morn, her soul had flown.

   When told that some too mighty strain
      For one so many-yeared
   Had burst her bosom’s master-vein,
      His doubts remained unstirred.
   His Jenny had not left his side
   Betwixt the eve and morning-tide:
      —The King’s said not a word.

   Well! times are not as times were then,
      Nor fair ones half so free;
   And truly they were martial men,
      The King’s-Own Cavalry.
   And when they went from Casterbridge
   And vanished over Mellstock Ridge,
      ’Twas saddest morn to see.

              [Picture: Two lines of military men on horses]

                                * * * * *

                    [Picture: Sketch of wooden panel]


              A TRADITION OF J. B. L—, T. G. B—, AND J. L—.

   THREE captains went to Indian wars,
      And only one returned:
   Their mate of yore, he singly wore
      The laurels all had earned.

   At home he sought the ancient aisle
      Wherein, untrumped of fame,
   The three had sat in pupilage,
      And each had carved his name.

   The names, rough-hewn, of equal size,
      Stood on the panel still;
   Unequal since.—“’Twas theirs to aim,
      Mine was it to fulfil!”

   —“Who saves his life shall lose it, friends!”
      Outspake the preacher then,
   Unweeting he his listener, who
      Looked at the names again.

   That he had come and they’d been stayed,
      ’Twas but the chance of war:
   Another chance, and they’d sat here,
      And he had lain afar.

   Yet saw he something in the lives
      Of those who’d ceased to live
   That sphered them with a majesty
      Which living failed to give.

   Transcendent triumph in return
      No longer lit his brain;
   Transcendence rayed the distant urn
      Where slept the fallen twain.

                        [Picture: Sketch of comet]


   I MARK the months in liveries dank and dry,
      The noontides many-shaped and hued;
      I see the nightfall shades subtrude,
   And hear the monotonous hours clang negligently by.

   I view the evening bonfires of the sun
      On hills where morning rains have hissed;
      The eyeless countenance of the mist
   Pallidly rising when the summer droughts are done.

   I have seen the lightning-blade, the leaping star,
      The cauldrons of the sea in storm,
      Have felt the earthquake’s lifting arm,
   And trodden where abysmal fires and snow-cones are.

   I learn to prophesy the hid eclipse,
      The coming of eccentric orbs;
      To mete the dust the sky absorbs,
   To weigh the sun, and fix the hour each planet dips.

   I witness fellow earth-men surge and strive;
      Assemblies meet, and throb, and part;
      Death’s soothing finger, sorrow’s smart;
   —All the vast various moils that mean a world alive.

   But that I fain would wot of shuns my sense—
      Those sights of which old prophets tell,
      Those signs the general word so well,
   Vouchsafed to their unheed, denied my long suspense.

   In graveyard green, behind his monument
      To glimpse a phantom parent, friend,
      Wearing his smile, and “Not the end!”
   Outbreathing softly: that were blest enlightenment;

   Or, if a dead Love’s lips, whom dreams reveal
      When midnight imps of King Decay
      Delve sly to solve me back to clay,
   Should leave some print to prove her spirit-kisses real;

   Or, when Earth’s Frail lie bleeding of her Strong,
      If some Recorder, as in Writ,
      Near to the weary scene should flit
   And drop one plume as pledge that Heaven inscrolls the wrong.

   —There are who, rapt to heights of trancéd trust,
      These tokens claim to feel and see,
      Read radiant hints of times to be—
   Of heart to heart returning after dust to dust.

   Such scope is granted not to lives like mine . . .
      I have lain in dead men’s beds, have walked
      The tombs of those with whom I’d talked,
   Called many a gone and goodly one to shape a sign,

   And panted for response.  But none replies;
      No warnings loom, nor whisperings
      To open out my limitings,
   And Nescience mutely muses: When a man falls he lies.

        [Picture: Sketch of person on horseback in wide landscape]


   “ALIVE?”—And I leapt in my wonder,
      Was faint of my joyance,
   And grasses and grove shone in garments
      Of glory to me.

   “She lives, in a plenteous well-being,
      To-day as aforehand;
   The dead bore the name—though a rare one—
      The name that bore she.”

   She lived . . . I, afar in the city
      Of frenzy-led factions,
   Had squandered green years and maturer
      In bowing the knee

   To Baals illusive and specious,
      Till chance had there voiced me
   That one I loved vainly in nonage
      Had ceased her to be.

   The passion the planets had scowled on,
      And change had let dwindle,
   Her death-rumour smartly relifted
      To full apogee.

   I mounted a steed in the dawning
      With acheful remembrance,
   And made for the ancient West Highway
      To far Exonb’ry.

   Passing heaths, and the House of Long Sieging,
      I neared the thin steeple
   That tops the fair fane of Poore’s olden
      Episcopal see;

   And, changing anew my onbearer,
      I traversed the downland
   Whereon the bleak hill-graves of Chieftains
      Bulge barren of tree;

   And still sadly onward I followed
      That Highway the Icen,
   Which trails its pale riband down Wessex
      O’er lynchet and lea.

   Along through the Stour-bordered Forum,
      Where Legions had wayfared,
   And where the slow river upglasses
      Its green canopy,

   And by Weatherbury Castle, and thencefrom
      Through Casterbridge held I
   Still on, to entomb her my vision
      Saw stretched pallidly.

   No highwayman’s trot blew the night-wind
      To me so life-weary,
   But only the creak of the gibbets
      Or waggoners’ jee.

   Triple-ramparted Maidon gloomed grayly
      Above me from southward,
   And north the hill-fortress of Eggar,
      And square Pummerie.

   The Nine-Pillared Cromlech, the Bride-streams,
      The Axe, and the Otter
   I passed, to the gate of the city
      Where Exe scents the sea;

   Till, spent, in the graveacre pausing,
      I learnt ’twas not my Love
   To whom Mother Church had just murmured
      A last lullaby.

   —“Then, where dwells the Canon’s kinswoman,
      My friend of aforetime?”—
   (’Twas hard to repress my heart-heavings
      And new ecstasy.)

   “She wedded.”—“Ah!”—“Wedded beneath her—
      She keeps the stage-hostel
   Ten miles hence, beside the great Highway—
      The famed Lions-Three.

   “Her spouse was her lackey—no option
      ’Twixt wedlock and worse things;
   A lapse over-sad for a lady
      Of her pedigree!”

   I shuddered, said nothing, and wandered
      To shades of green laurel:
   Too ghastly had grown those first tidings
      So brightsome of blee!

   For, on my ride hither, I’d halted
      Awhile at the Lions,
   And her—her whose name had once opened
      My heart as a key—

   I’d looked on, unknowing, and witnessed
      Her jests with the tapsters,
   Her liquor-fired face, her thick accents
      In naming her fee.

   “O God, why this seeming derision!”
      I cried in my anguish:
   “O once Loved, O fair Unforgotten—
      That Thing—meant it thee!

   “Inurned and at peace, lost but sainted,
      Were grief I could compass;
   Depraved—’tis for Christ’s poor dependent
      A cruel decree!”

   I backed on the Highway; but passed not
      The hostel.  Within there
   Too mocking to Love’s re-expression
      Was Time’s repartee!

   Uptracking where Legions had wayfared,
      By cromlechs unstoried,
   And lynchets, and sepultured Chieftains,
      In self-colloquy,

   A feeling stirred in me and strengthened
      That _she_ was not my Love,
   But she of the garth, who lay rapt in
      Her long reverie.

   And thence till to-day I persuade me
      That this was the true one;
   That Death stole intact her young dearness
      And innocency.

   Frail-witted, illuded they call me;
      I may be.  ’Tis better
   To dream than to own the debasement
      Of sweet Cicely.

   Moreover I rate it unseemly
      To hold that kind Heaven
   Could work such device—to her ruin
      And my misery.

   So, lest I disturb my choice vision,
      I shun the West Highway,
   Even now, when the knaps ring with rhythms
      From blackbird and bee;

   And feel that with slumber half-conscious
      She rests in the church-hay,
   Her spirit unsoiled as in youth-time
      When lovers were we.

                  [Picture: Sketch of top of church tower]

                                  * * * * *

                   [Picture: Sketch of fields with trees]


   UPON a noon I pilgrimed through
      A pasture, mile by mile,
   Unto the place where I last saw
      My dead Love’s living smile.

   And sorrowing I lay me down
      Upon the heated sod:
   It seemed as if my body pressed
      The very ground she trod.

   I lay, and thought; and in a trance
      She came and stood me by—
   The same, even to the marvellous ray
      That used to light her eye.

   “You draw me, and I come to you,
      My faithful one,” she said,
   In voice that had the moving tone
      It bore ere breath had fled.

   She said: “’Tis seven years since I died:
      Few now remember me;
   My husband clasps another bride;
      My children’s love has she.

   “My brethren, sisters, and my friends
      Care not to meet my sprite:
   Who prized me most I did not know
      Till I passed down from sight.”

   I said: “My days are lonely here;
      I need thy smile alway:
   I’ll use this night my ball or blade,
      And join thee ere the day.”

   A tremor stirred her tender lips,
      Which parted to dissuade:
   “That cannot be, O friend,” she cried;
      “Think, I am but a Shade!

   “A Shade but in its mindful ones
      Has immortality;
   By living, me you keep alive,
      By dying you slay me.

   “In you resides my single power
      Of sweet continuance here;
   On your fidelity I count
      Through many a coming year.”

   —I started through me at her plight,
      So suddenly confessed:
   Dismissing late distaste for life,
      I craved its bleak unrest.

   “I will not die, my One of all!—
      To lengthen out thy days
   I’ll guard me from minutest harms
      That may invest my ways!”

   She smiled and went.  Since then she comes
      Oft when her birth-moon climbs,
   Or at the seasons’ ingresses
      Or anniversary times;

   But grows my grief.  When I surcease,
      Through whom alone lives she,
   Ceases my Love, her words, her ways,
      Never again to be!


   I LONGED to love a full-boughed beech
      And be as high as he:
   I stretched an arm within his reach,
      And signalled unity.
   But with his drip he forced a breach,
      And tried to poison me.

   I gave the grasp of partnership
      To one of other race—
   A plane: he barked him strip by strip
      From upper bough to base;
   And me therewith; for gone my grip,
      My arms could not enlace.

   In new affection next I strove
      To coll an ash I saw,
   And he in trust received my love;
      Till with my soft green claw
   I cramped and bound him as I wove . . .
      Such was my love: ha-ha!

   By this I gained his strength and height
      Without his rivalry.
   But in my triumph I lost sight
      Of afterhaps.  Soon he,
   Being bark-bound, flagged, snapped, fell outright,
      And in his fall felled me!


   AS evening shaped I found me on a moor
      Which sight could scarce sustain:
   The black lean land, of featureless contour,
      Was like a tract in pain.

   “This scene, like my own life,” I said, “is one
      Where many glooms abide;
   Toned by its fortune to a deadly dun—
      Lightless on every side.

   I glanced aloft and halted, pleasure-caught
      To see the contrast there:
   The ray-lit clouds gleamed glory; and I thought,
      “There’s solace everywhere!”

   Then bitter self-reproaches as I stood
      I dealt me silently
   As one perverse—misrepresenting Good
      In graceless mutiny.

   Against the horizon’s dim-discernèd wheel
      A form rose, strange of mould:
   That he was hideous, hopeless, I could feel
      Rather than could behold.

   “’Tis a dead spot, where even the light lies spent
      To darkness!” croaked the Thing.
   “Not if you look aloft!” said I, intent
      On my new reasoning.

   “Yea—but await awhile!” he cried.  “Ho-ho!—
      Look now aloft and see!”
   I looked.  There, too, sat night: Heaven’s radiant show
      Had gone.  Then chuckled he.


   WHEN, soul in soul reflected,
   We breathed an æthered air,
      When we neglected
      All things elsewhere,
   And left the friendly friendless
   To keep our love aglow,
      We deemed it endless . . .
      —We did not know!

   When, by mad passion goaded,
   We planned to hie away,
      But, unforeboded,
      The storm-shafts gray
   So heavily down-pattered
   That none could forthward go,
      Our lives seemed shattered . . .
      —We did not know!

   When I found you, helpless lying,
   And you waived my deep misprise,
      And swore me, dying,
      In phantom-guise
   To wing to me when grieving,
   And touch away my woe,
      We kissed, believing . . .
      —We did not know!

   But though, your powers outreckoning,
   You hold you dead and dumb,
      Or scorn my beckoning,
      And will not come;
   And I say, “’Twere mood ungainly
   To store her memory so:”
      I say it vainly—
      I feel and know!


   WILLIAM DEWY, Tranter Reuben, Farmer Ledlow late at plough,
      Robert’s kin, and John’s, and Ned’s,
   And the Squire, and Lady Susan, lie in Mellstock churchyard now!

   “Gone,” I call them, gone for good, that group of local hearts and
      Yet at mothy curfew-tide,
   And at midnight when the noon-heat breathes it back from walls and

   They’ve a way of whispering to me—fellow-wight who yet abide—
      In the muted, measured note
   Of a ripple under archways, or a lone cave’s stillicide:

   “We have triumphed: this achievement turns the bane to antidote,
      Unsuccesses to success,
   —Many thought-worn eves and morrows to a morrow free of thought.

   “No more need we corn and clothing, feel of old terrestrial stress;
      Chill detraction stirs no sigh;
   Fear of death has even bygone us: death gave all that we possess.”

   _W. D._—“Ye mid burn the wold bass-viol that I set such vallie by.”
      _Squire_.—“You may hold the manse in fee,
   You may wed my spouse, my children’s memory of me may decry.”

   _Lady_.—“You may have my rich brocades, my laces; take each household
      Ransack coffer, desk, bureau;
   Quiz the few poor treasures hid there, con the letters kept by me.”

   _Far._—“Ye mid zell my favourite heifer, ye mid let the charlock grow,
      Foul the grinterns, give up thrift.”
   _Wife_.—“If ye break my best blue china, children, I shan’t care or

   _All_. —“We’ve no wish to hear the tidings, how the people’s fortunes
      What your daily doings are;
   Who are wedded, born, divided; if your lives beat slow or swift.

   “Curious not the least are we if our intents you make or mar,
      If you quire to our old tune,
   If the City stage still passes, if the weirs still roar afar.”

   —Thus, with very gods’ composure, freed those crosses late and soon
      Which, in life, the Trine allow
   (Why, none witteth), and ignoring all that haps beneath the moon,

   William Dewy, Tranter Reuben, Farmer Ledlow late at plough,
      Robert’s kin, and John’s, and Ned’s,
   And the Squire, and Lady Susan, murmur mildly to me now.

               [Picture: Sketch of vase with dead flowers]


   SHOW thee as I thought thee
   When I early sought thee,
      All undoubting
   Love alone had wrought thee—

   Wrought thee for my pleasure,
   Planned thee as a measure
      For expounding
      And resounding
   Glad things that men treasure.

   O for but a moment
   Of that old endowment—
      Light to gaily
      See thy daily
   Irisèd embowment!

   But such re-adorning
   Time forbids with scorning—
      Makes me see things
      Cease to be things
   They were in my morning.

   Fad’st thou, glow-forsaken,
      Thy first sweetness,
      Radiance, meetness,
   None shall re-awaken.

   Why not sempiternal
   Thou and I?  Our vernal
      Brightness keeping,
      Time outleaping;
   Passed the hodiernal!


         NOT a line of her writing have I,
            Not a thread of her hair,
   No mark of her late time as dame in her dwelling, whereby
         I may picture her there;
      And in vain do I urge my unsight
         To conceive my lost prize
   At her close, whom I knew when her dreams were upbrimming with light,
         And with laughter her eyes.

         What scenes spread around her last days,
            Sad, shining, or dim?
   Did her gifts and compassions enray and enarch her sweet ways
         With an aureate nimb?
      Or did life-light decline from her years,
         And mischances control
   Her full day-star; unease, or regret, or forebodings, or fears
         Disennoble her soul?

         Thus I do but the phantom retain
            Of the maiden of yore
   As my relic; yet haply the best of her—fined in my brain
         It maybe the more
      That no line of her writing have I,
         Nor a thread of her hair,
   No mark of her late time as dame in her dwelling, whereby
         I may picture her there.

_March_ 1890.

         [Picture: Sketch of woman cover in sheet lying on couch]

To M. H.

      WE passed where flag and flower
      Signalled a jocund throng;
      We said: “Go to, the hour
      Is apt!”—and joined the song;
   And, kindling, laughed at life and care,
   Although we knew no laugh lay there.

      We walked where shy birds stood
      Watching us, wonder-dumb;
      Their friendship met our mood;
      We cried: “We’ll often come:
   We’ll come morn, noon, eve, everywhen!”
   —We doubted we should come again.

      We joyed to see strange sheens
      Leap from quaint leaves in shade;
      A secret light of greens
      They’d for their pleasure made.
   We said: “We’ll set such sorts as these!”
   —We knew with night the wish would cease.

      “So sweet the place,” we said,
      “Its tacit tales so dear,
      Our thoughts, when breath has sped,
      Will meet and mingle here!” . . .
   “Words!” mused we.  “Passed the mortal door,
   Our thoughts will reach this nook no more.”


   PALE beech and pine-tree blue,
      Set in one clay,
   Bough to bough cannot you
      Bide out your day?
   When the rains skim and skip,
   Why mar sweet comradeship,
   Blighting with poison-drip
      Neighbourly spray?

   Heart-halt and spirit-lame,
   Unto this wood I came
      As to a nest;
   Dreaming that sylvan peace
   Offered the harrowed ease—
   Nature a soft release
      From men’s unrest.

   But, having entered in,
      Great growths and small
   Show them to men akin—
      Combatants all!
   Sycamore shoulders oak,
   Bines the slim sapling yoke,
   Ivy-spun halters choke
      Elms stout and tall.

   Touches from ash, O wych,
      Sting you like scorn!
   You, too, brave hollies, twitch
      Sidelong from thorn.
   Even the rank poplars bear
   Illy a rival’s air,
   Cankering in black despair
      If overborne.

   Since, then, no grace I find
      Taught me of trees,
   Turn I back to my kind,
      Worthy as these.
   There at least smiles abound,
   There discourse trills around,
   There, now and then, are found

1887: 1896.


   NOW that my page upcloses, doomed, maybe,
   Never to press thy cosy cushions more,
   Or wake thy ready Yeas as heretofore,
   Or stir thy gentle vows of faith in me:

   Knowing thy natural receptivity,
   I figure that, as flambeaux banish eve,
   My sombre image, warped by insidious heave
   Of those less forthright, must lose place in thee.

   So be it.  I have borne such.  Let thy dreams
   Of me and mine diminish day by day,
   And yield their space to shine of smugger things;
   Till I shape to thee but in fitful gleams,
   And then in far and feeble visitings,
   And then surcease.  Truth will be truth alway.


   AH, child, thou art but half thy darling mother’s;
      Hers couldst thou wholly be,
   My light in thee would outglow all in others;
      She would relive to me.
   But niggard Nature’s trick of birth
      Bars, lest she overjoy,
   Renewal of the loved on earth
         Save with alloy.

   The Dame has no regard, alas, my maiden,
      For love and loss like mine—
   No sympathy with mind-sight memory-laden;
      Only with fickle eyne.
   To her mechanic artistry
      My dreams are all unknown,
   And why I wish that thou couldst be
         But One’s alone!

                     [Picture: Sketch of broken key?]


      WHEN I look forth at dawning, pool,
         Field, flock, and lonely tree,
         All seem to gaze at me
   Like chastened children sitting silent in a school;

      Their faces dulled, constrained, and worn,
         As though the master’s ways
         Through the long teaching days
   Their first terrestrial zest had chilled and overborne.

      And on them stirs, in lippings mere
         (As if once clear in call,
         But now scarce breathed at all)—
   “We wonder, ever wonder, why we find us here!

      “Has some Vast Imbecility,
         Mighty to build and blend,
         But impotent to tend,
   Framed us in jest, and left us now to hazardry?

      “Or come we of an Automaton
         Unconscious of our pains? . . .
         Or are we live remains
   Of Godhead dying downwards, brain and eye now gone?

      “Or is it that some high Plan betides,
         As yet not understood,
         Of Evil stormed by Good,
   We the Forlorn Hope over which Achievement strides?”

      Thus things around.  No answerer I . . .
         Meanwhile the winds, and rains,
         And Earth’s old glooms and pains
   Are still the same, and gladdest Life Death neighbours nigh.


   THAT from this bright believing band
      An outcast I should be,
   That faiths by which my comrades stand
      Seem fantasies to me,
   And mirage-mists their Shining Land,
      Is a drear destiny.

   Why thus my soul should be consigned
      To infelicity,
   Why always I must feel as blind
      To sights my brethren see,
   Why joys they’ve found I cannot find,
      Abides a mystery.

   Since heart of mine knows not that ease
      Which they know; since it be
   That He who breathes All’s Well to these
      Breathes no All’s-Well to me,
   My lack might move their sympathies
      And Christian charity!

   I am like a gazer who should mark
      An inland company
   Standing upfingered, with, “Hark! hark!
      The glorious distant sea!”
   And feel, “Alas, ’tis but yon dark
      And wind-swept pine to me!”

   Yet I would bear my shortcomings
      With meet tranquillity,
   But for the charge that blessed things
      I’d liefer have unbe.
   O, doth a bird deprived of wings
      Go earth-bound wilfully!

                                * * * * *

   Enough.  As yet disquiet clings
      About us.  Rest shall we.

                  [Picture: Sketch of inside of church]


   WHEN we as strangers sought
      Their catering care,
   Veiled smiles bespoke their thought
      Of what we were.
   They warmed as they opined
      Us more than friends—
   That we had all resigned
      For love’s dear ends.

   And that swift sympathy
      With living love
   Which quicks the world—maybe
      The spheres above,
   Made them our ministers,
      Moved them to say,
   “Ah, God, that bliss like theirs
      Would flush our day!”

   And we were left alone
      As Love’s own pair;
   Yet never the love-light shone
      Between us there!
   But that which chilled the breath
      Of afternoon,
   And palsied unto death
      The pane-fly’s tune.

   The kiss their zeal foretold,
      And now deemed come,
   Came not: within his hold
      Love lingered-numb.
   Why cast he on our port
      A bloom not ours?
   Why shaped us for his sport
      In after-hours?

   As we seemed we were not
      That day afar,
   And now we seem not what
      We aching are.
   O severing sea and land,
      O laws of men,
   Ere death, once let us stand
      As we stood then!


   “THY husband—poor, poor Heart!—is dead—
      Dead, out by Moreford Rise;
   A bull escaped the barton-shed,
      Gored him, and there he lies!”

   —“Ha, ha—go away!  ’Tis a tale, methink,
      Thou joker Kit!” laughed she.
   “I’ve known thee many a year, Kit Twink,
      And ever hast thou fooled me!”

   —“But, Mistress Damon—I can swear
      Thy goodman John is dead!
   And soon th’lt hear their feet who bear
      His body to his bed.”

   So unwontedly sad was the merry man’s face—
      That face which had long deceived—
   That she gazed and gazed; and then could trace
      The truth there; and she believed.

   She laid a hand on the dresser-ledge,
      And scanned far Egdon-side;
   And stood; and you heard the wind-swept sedge
      And the rippling Froom; till she cried:

   “O my chamber’s untidied, unmade my bed
      Though the day has begun to wear!
   ‘What a slovenly hussif!’ it will be said,
      When they all go up my stair!”

   She disappeared; and the joker stood
      Depressed by his neighbour’s doom,
   And amazed that a wife struck to widowhood
      Thought first of her unkempt room.

   But a fortnight thence she could take no food,
      And she pined in a slow decay;
   While Kit soon lost his mournful mood
      And laughed in his ancient way.



   THE years have gathered grayly
      Since I danced upon this leaze
   With one who kindled gaily
      Love’s fitful ecstasies!
   But despite the term as teacher,
      I remain what I was then
   In each essential feature
      Of the fantasies of men.

   Yet I note the little chisel
      Of never-napping Time,
   Defacing ghast and grizzel
      The blazon of my prime.
   When at night he thinks me sleeping,
      I feel him boring sly
   Within my bones, and heaping
      Quaintest pains for by-and-by.

   Still, I’d go the world with Beauty,
      I would laugh with her and sing,
   I would shun divinest duty
      To resume her worshipping.
   But she’d scorn my brave endeavour,
      She would not balm the breeze
   By murmuring “Thine for ever!”
      As she did upon this leaze.


       [Picture: Sketch of pair of glasses on sketch of landscape]



   THEY had long met o’ Zundays—her true love and she—
      And at junketings, maypoles, and flings;
   But she bode wi’ a thirtover uncle, and he
   Swore by noon and by night that her goodman should be
   Naibour Sweatley—a gaffer oft weak at the knee
   From taking o’ sommat more cheerful than tea—
      Who tranted, and moved people’s things.

   She cried, “O pray pity me!”  Nought would he hear;
      Then with wild rainy eyes she obeyed.
   She chid when her Love was for clinking off wi’ her.
   The pa’son was told, as the season drew near
   To throw over pu’pit the names of the peäir
      As fitting one flesh to be made.

   The wedding-day dawned and the morning drew on;
      The couple stood bridegroom and bride;
   The evening was passed, and when midnight had gone
   The folks horned out, “God save the King,” and anon
      The two home-along gloomily hied.

   The lover Tim Tankens mourned heart-sick and drear
      To be thus of his darling deprived:
   He roamed in the dark ath’art field, mound, and mere,
   And, a’most without knowing it, found himself near
   The house of the tranter, and now of his Dear,
      Where the lantern-light showed ’em arrived.

   The bride sought her cham’er so calm and so pale
      That a Northern had thought her resigned;
   But to eyes that had seen her in tide-times of weal,
   Like the white cloud o’ smoke, the red battle-field’s vail,
      That look spak’ of havoc behind.

   The bridegroom yet laitered a beaker to drain,
      Then reeled to the linhay for more,
   When the candle-snoff kindled some chaff from his grain—
   Flames spread, and red vlankers, wi’ might and wi’ main,
      And round beams, thatch, and chimley-tun roar.

   Young Tim away yond, rafted up by the light,
      Through brimble and underwood tears,
   Till he comes to the orchet, when crooping thereright
   In the lewth of a codlin-tree, bivering wi’ fright,
   Wi’ on’y her night-rail to screen her from sight,
      His lonesome young Barbree appears.

   Her cwold little figure half-naked he views
      Played about by the frolicsome breeze,
   Her light-tripping totties, her ten little tooes,
   All bare and besprinkled wi’ Fall’s chilly dews,
   While her great gallied eyes, through her hair hanging loose,
      Sheened as stars through a tardle o’ trees.

   She eyed en; and, as when a weir-hatch is drawn,
      Her tears, penned by terror afore,
   With a rushing of sobs in a shower were strawn,
   Till her power to pour ’em seemed wasted and gone
      From the heft o’ misfortune she bore.

   “O Tim, my _own_ Tim I must call ’ee—I will!
      All the world ha’ turned round on me so!
   Can you help her who loved ’ee, though acting so ill?
   Can you pity her misery—feel for her still?
   When worse than her body so quivering and chill
      Is her heart in its winter o’ woe!

   “I think I mid almost ha’ borne it,” she said,
      “Had my griefs one by one come to hand;
   But O, to be slave to thik husbird for bread,
   And then, upon top o’ that, driven to wed,
   And then, upon top o’ that, burnt out o’ bed,
      Is more than my nater can stand!”

   Tim’s soul like a lion ’ithin en outsprung—
   (Tim had a great soul when his feelings were wrung)—
      “Feel for ’ee, dear Barbree?” he cried;
   And his warm working-jacket about her he flung,
   Made a back, horsed her up, till behind him she clung
   Like a chiel on a gipsy, her figure uphung
      By the sleeves that around her he tied.

   Over piggeries, and mixens, and apples, and hay,
      They lumpered straight into the night;
   And finding bylong where a halter-path lay,
   At dawn reached Tim’s house, on’y seen on their way
   By a naibour or two who were up wi’ the day;
      But they gathered no clue to the sight.

   Then tender Tim Tankens he searched here and there
      For some garment to clothe her fair skin;
   But though he had breeches and waistcoats to spare,
   He had nothing quite seemly for Barbree to wear,
   Who, half shrammed to death, stood and cried on a chair
      At the caddle she found herself in.

   There was one thing to do, and that one thing he did,
      He lent her some clouts of his own,
   And she took ’em perforce; and while in ’em she slid,
   Tim turned to the winder, as modesty bid,
   Thinking, “O that the picter my duty keeps hid
      To the sight o’ my eyes mid be shown!”

   In the tallet he stowed her; there huddied she lay,
      Shortening sleeves, legs, and tails to her limbs;
   But most o’ the time in a mortal bad way,
   Well knowing that there’d be the divel to pay
   If ’twere found that, instead o’ the elements’ prey,
      She was living in lodgings at Tim’s.

   “Where’s the tranter?” said men and boys; “where can er be?”
      “Where’s the tranter?” said Barbree alone.
   “Where on e’th is the tranter?” said everybod-y:
   They sifted the dust of his perished roof-tree,
      And all they could find was a bone.

   Then the uncle cried, “Lord, pray have mercy on me!”
      And in terror began to repent.
   But before ’twas complete, and till sure she was free,
   Barbree drew up her loft-ladder, tight turned her key—
   Tim bringing up breakfast and dinner and tea—
      Till the news of her hiding got vent.

   Then followed the custom-kept rout, shout, and flare
   Of a skimmington-ride through the naibourhood, ere
      Folk had proof o’ wold Sweatley’s decay.
   Whereupon decent people all stood in a stare,
   Saying Tim and his lodger should risk it, and pair:
   So he took her to church.  An’ some laughing lads there
   Cried to Tim, “After Sweatley!”  She said, “I declare
      I stand as a maiden to-day!”

                                           _Written_ 1866; _printed_ 1875.

FOR A. W. B.

   SHE sought the Studios, beckoning to her side
   An arch-designer, for she planned to build.
   He was of wise contrivance, deeply skilled
   In every intervolve of high and wide—
      Well fit to be her guide.

         “Whatever it be,”
         Responded he,
   With cold, clear voice, and cold, clear view,
   “In true accord with prudent fashionings
   For such vicissitudes as living brings,
   And thwarting not the law of stable things,
      That will I do.”

   “Shape me,” she said, “high halls with tracery
   And open ogive-work, that scent and hue
   Of buds, and travelling bees, may come in through,
   The note of birds, and singings of the sea,
      For these are much to me.”

      “An idle whim!”
      Broke forth from him
   Whom nought could warm to gallantries:
   “Cede all these buds and birds, the zephyr’s call,
   And scents, and hues, and things that falter all,
   And choose as best the close and surly wall,
      For winters freeze.”

      [Picture: Sketch of people carrying a large object up stairs]

   “Then frame,” she cried, “wide fronts of crystal glass,
   That I may show my laughter and my light—
   Light like the sun’s by day, the stars’ by night—
   Till rival heart-queens, envying, wail, ‘Alas,
      Her glory!’ as they pass.”

      “O maid misled!”
      He sternly said,
   Whose facile foresight pierced her dire;
   “Where shall abide the soul when, sick of glee,
   It shrinks, and hides, and prays no eye may see?
   Those house them best who house for secrecy,
      For you will tire.”

   “A little chamber, then, with swan and dove
   Ranged thickly, and engrailed with rare device
   Of reds and purples, for a Paradise
   Wherein my Love may greet me, I my Love,
      When he shall know thereof?”

      “This, too, is ill,”
      He answered still,
   The man who swayed her like a shade.
   “An hour will come when sight of such sweet nook
   Would bring a bitterness too sharp to brook,
   When brighter eyes have won away his look;
      For you will fade.”

   Then said she faintly: “O, contrive some way—
   Some narrow winding turret, quite mine own,
   To reach a loft where I may grieve alone!
   It is a slight thing; hence do not, I pray,
      This last dear fancy slay!”

      “Such winding ways
      Fit not your days,”
   Said he, the man of measuring eye;
   “I must even fashion as my rule declares,
   To wit: Give space (since life ends unawares)
   To hale a coffined corpse adown the stairs;
      For you will die.”



   THERE were two youths of equal age,
   Wit, station, strength, and parentage;
   They studied at the selfsame schools,
   And shaped their thoughts by common rules.

   One pondered on the life of man,
   His hopes, his ending, and began
   To rate the Market’s sordid war
   As something scarce worth living for.

   “I’ll brace to higher aims,” said he,
   “I’ll further Truth and Purity;
   Thereby to mend the mortal lot
   And sweeten sorrow.  Thrive I not,

   “Winning their hearts, my kind will give
   Enough that I may lowly live,
   And house my Love in some dim dell,
   For pleasing them and theirs so well.”

   Idly attired, with features wan,
   In secret swift he laboured on:
   Such press of power had brought much gold
   Applied to things of meaner mould.

   Sometimes he wished his aims had been
   To gather gains like other men;
   Then thanked his God he’d traced his track
   Too far for wish to drag him back.

   He lookèd from his loft one day
   To where his slighted garden lay;
   Nettles and hemlock hid each lawn,
   And every flower was starved and gone.

   He fainted in his heart, whereon
   He rose, and sought his plighted one,
   Resolved to loose her bond withal,
   Lest she should perish in his fall.

   He met her with a careless air,
   As though he’d ceased to find her fair,
   And said: “True love is dust to me;
   I cannot kiss: I tire of thee!”

   (That she might scorn him was he fain,
   To put her sooner out of pain;
   For incensed love breathes quick and dies,
   When famished love a-lingering lies.)

   Once done, his soul was so betossed,
   It found no more the force it lost:
   Hope was his only drink and food,
   And hope extinct, decay ensued.

   And, living long so closely penned,
   He had not kept a single friend;
   He dwindled thin as phantoms be,
   And drooped to death in poverty . . .

   Meantime his schoolmate had gone out
   To join the fortune-finding rout;
   He liked the winnings of the mart,
   But wearied of the working part.

   He turned to seek a privy lair,
   Neglecting note of garb and hair,
   And day by day reclined and thought
   How he might live by doing nought.

   “I plan a valued scheme,” he said
   To some.  “But lend me of your bread,
   And when the vast result looms nigh,
   In profit you shall stand as I.”

   Yet they took counsel to restrain
   Their kindness till they saw the gain;
   And, since his substance now had run,
   He rose to do what might be done.

   He went unto his Love by night,
   And said: “My Love, I faint in fight:
   Deserving as thou dost a crown,
   My cares shall never drag thee down.”

   (He had descried a maid whose line
   Would hand her on much corn and wine,
   And held her far in worth above
   One who could only pray and love.)

   But this Fair read him; whence he failed
   To do the deed so blithely hailed;
   He saw his projects wholly marred,
   And gloom and want oppressed him hard;

   Till, living to so mean an end,
   Whereby he’d lost his every friend,
   He perished in a pauper sty,
   His mate the dying pauper nigh.

   And moralists, reflecting, said,
   As “dust to dust” in burial read
   Was echoed from each coffin-lid,
   “These men were like in all they did.”



_Spoken by Miss_ ADA REHAN _at the Lyceum Theatre_, _July_ 23, 1890, _at
a performance on behalf of Lady Jeune’s Holiday Fund for City Children_.

   BEFORE we part to alien thoughts and aims,
   Permit the one brief word the occasion claims:
   —When mumming and grave projects are allied,
   Perhaps an Epilogue is justified.

   Our under-purpose has, in truth, to-day
   Commanded most our musings; least the play:
   A purpose futile but for your good-will
   Swiftly responsive to the cry of ill:
   A purpose all too limited!—to aid
   Frail human flowerets, sicklied by the shade,
   In winning some short spell of upland breeze,
   Or strengthening sunlight on the level leas.

   Who has not marked, where the full cheek should be,
   Incipient lines of lank flaccidity,
   Lymphatic pallor where the pink should glow,
   And where the throb of transport, pulses low?—
   Most tragical of shapes from Pole to Line,
   O wondering child, unwitting Time’s design,
   Why should Art add to Nature’s quandary,
   And worsen ill by thus immuring thee?
   —That races do despite unto their own,
   That Might supernal do indeed condone
   Wrongs individual for the general ease,
   Instance the proof in victims such as these.

   Launched into thoroughfares too thronged before,
   Mothered by those whose protest is “No more!”
   Vitalized without option: who shall say
   That did Life hang on choosing—Yea or Nay—
   They had not scorned it with such penalty,
   And nothingness implored of Destiny?

   And yet behind the horizon smile serene
   The down, the cornland, and the stretching green—
   Space—the child’s heaven: scenes which at least ensure
   Some palliative for ill they cannot cure.

   Dear friends—now moved by this poor show of ours
   To make your own long joy in buds and bowers
   For one brief while the joy of infant eyes,
   Changing their urban murk to paradise—
   You have our thanks!—may your reward include
   More than our thanks, far more: their gratitude.


   I LOOK into my glass,
   And view my wasting skin,
   And say, “Would God it came to pass
   My heart had shrunk as thin!”

   For then, I, undistrest
   By hearts grown cold to me,
   Could lonely wait my endless rest
   With equanimity.

   But Time, to make me grieve;
   Part steals, lets part abide;
   And shakes this fragile frame at eve
   With throbbings of noontide.

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