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Title: A Hermit of Carmel and Other Poems
Author: Santayana, George
Language: English
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A Hermit of Carmel

And Other Poems

By

George Santayana

New York

Charles Scribner's Sons

1901



CONTENTS

    A HERMIT OF CARMEL

    THE KNIGHT'S RETURN. A Sequel to A Hermit of Carmel

    ELEGIAC AND LYRIC POEMS

    Premonition
    Solipsism
    Sybaris
    Avila
    King's College Chapel
    On an Unfinished Statue
    Midnight
    In Grantchester Meadows
    Futility
    Before a Statue of Achilles
    Odi et Amo
    Cathedrals by the Sea
    Mont Brevent
    The Rustic at the Play
    Resurrection

    TRANSLATIONS

    From Michael Angelo
    From Alfred de Musset: _Souvenir_
    From Théophile Gautier: l'_Art_

    CONVIVIAL AND OCCASIONAL VERSES

    Prosit Neujahr
    Fair Harvard
    College Drinking Song
    Six Wise Fools
    Athletic Ode
    The Bottles and the Wine
    The Poetic Medium
    Young Sammy's first Wild Oats
    Spain in America
    Youth's Immortality



A HERMIT OF CARMEL



SCENE.--_A ravine amid the slopes of Mount Carmel. On one side a
hermitage, on the other a rustic cross. The sun is about to set in the
sea, which fills the background_.



  HERMIT. Thou who wast tempted in the wilderness,
  Guard me this night, for there are snares in sleep
  That baffle watching. O poisoned, bitter life
  Of doubt and longing! Were death possible,
  Who would not choose it? But that dim estate
  Might plunge my witless ghost in grosser matter
  And in still closer meshes choke my life.
  Yet thus to live is grievous agony,
  When sleep and thirst, hunger and weariness,
  And the sharp goads of thought-awakened lust
  Torture the flesh, and inward doubt of all
  Embitters with its lurking mockery
  Virtue's sad victories. This wilderness
  Whither I fly from the approach of men
  Keeps not the devil out. The treacherous glens
  Are full of imps, and ghosts in moonlit vesture
  Startle the watches of the lidless night.
  The giant forest, in my youth so fair,
  Is now a den of demons; the hoarse sea
  Is foul with monsters hungry for my soul;
  The dark and pregnant soil, once innocent
  Mother of flowers, reeks with venomous worms,
  And sore temptation is in all the world.
  But hist! A sound, as if of clanking hoofs.
  Saint Anthony protect me from the fiend,
  Whether he come in guise of horned beast
  Or of pernicious man! If I must die
  Be it upon this hallowed ground, O Lord!


        [_Hides in the hut._

        _Enter a young_ KNIGHT.


  KNIGHT [_reining in his horse_].

  Rest, Albus, rest.--Doth the sun sink in glory
    Because he sinks to rise?--
  Breathe here a space; here bends the promontory,
    There Acra's haven lies.
  Those specks are galleys waiting for the gale
    To make for Christian shores.
  To-morrow they will fly with bellying sail
    And plash of swinging oars,
  Bearing us both to where the freeman tills
    The plot where he was born,
  And belfry answers belfry from the hills
    Above the fields of corn.
  Thence one less sea to traverse ere we come
    Where all our hopes abide,
  One truant journey less to end in home,
    Thy mistress, and my bride. [_He dismounts._
  Good Albus, 't is enough for one day's riding.
    Here shall our bivouac be.
  Surely by that green sward some brook is hiding
    To welcome thee and me.
  Yes, hark! Its laugh betrays it. Graze thou there,
    Nor fear the camp's alarms.


        [_Lets the horse go and turns_, _perceiving the cross
        on the hillside._


  See where a cross, inviting me to prayer,
    Outspreads its sacred arms.
  O first of many that mine eyes shall see
    On altar, tomb, and tower,
  Art thou the last of crosses come to me
    Before my guerdon's hour?
  Or first or last, and by whatever hands
    Here planted in the wild,
  Hail to thee, cross, that blessest in far lands
    Thy champion and thy child.


        [_Goes up to the cross and kneels before it. The
        angel of the Lord appeared to Mary And she conceived
        of the Holy Ghost._

        [_Continues silently._


  HERMIT [_from within]._

  All's quiet. God hath made the danger pass.


        [_Comes out._


  Nay, hold! A horse without a rider here?
  Perchance a devil, come, if I should mount him,
  To gallop with me into yawning hell.
  Yet he looks gentle, munching the young grass,
  The tempting bridle looped about his neck.
  I will go catch him. When the traders pass--
  And they pass after Christmas--I will barter
  The beast for a good cloak. The winter's blasts
  Are on us.

  KNIGHT. _Behold the handmaid of the Lord._
          _Be't done to me according to thy word_--


        [_Confutes silently_.


  HERMIT. A voice! A Christian voice! Some winged angel
  Floats through the ether, magnifying God.
  Merciful heaven! There, ay, there he kneels
  Before the cross I planted. 'T is the cross
  That to earth brings down heaven. Yes, Saint Michael,
  For he is clad in arms, and his casque fringed
  With the bright nimbus of his golden hair.
  Yet he seems wingless; if he stirs a limb
  The heavy armour clangs. No angel, surely;
  Rather Saint George, with steed and magic lance
  Returned to fight against the infidel.

  KNIGHT. _And the Word was made flesh and dwelt
  among us.                   [Continues silently._

  HERMIT. Listen! they speak my native tongue in heaven.
  Those are the words my sainted mother spake--
  Nightly she crooned them, teaching Palmerin
  His orisons.


        [_The_ KNIGHT _rises._


               Come, shall I challenge him?
  No: I am foul. I will hide crouching here
  And spy him as he goes.

  KNIGHT. What stirreth there?


        [_Pushes a branch aside._


  HERMIT [_falling on his knees]._
  Have mercy, glorious Saint! a sinful man
  Lives in this hovel; no man's enemy
  Except his own. Sir, spare an anchorite.

  KNIGHT. Fear nothing, holy man. I am a Christian
  Although no saint, but sinful more than thou
  Who in the desert livest near to God.
  My sword is stained with blood, my heart is rash,
  And if my youth is free from foul dishonour
  'T is God's good mercies hedge my wayward days
  And marvellously guide me through the world.
  But thou art surely wise. In solitude
  The mind of the Most High possesseth men,
  And they whom sorrow chaseth from the world
  Learn in their grief the purposes of heaven.
  God's hand appears in this, that here I find thee
  To shrive me, father. Many months I roam
  Through heathen wilds in sorry need of shrift.
  Who knows if in some luckless fray to-morrow
  I bite the dust, or in that golden sea
  Perish unknelled and far from Christendom?
  A soldier's soul should be like his bright blade
  Ready to unsheathe.

  HERMIT.              O music of high thoughts!
  O harmony of long-forgotten words!
  Fair visitation! In her youth the soul,
  Gathering, the heavy heritage of Adam,
  Looks with strange horror on her own abyss
  And on the stars, and her increasing knowledge
  Ever increaseth sorrow; yet with years,
  Touching the depths and wholly mortified,
  She sees her desert bloom with mystic flowers
  And sweeter smiles of God. O mortal bosom
  Both in foreboding and in hope beguiled!
  Not where I fancied in my night of trouble
  Dawns comfort on mine eyes, but wondrously.
  Whence earnest thou? Tell me what princely house
  And fruitful country bred and nurtured thee.

  KNIGHT. 'T is not a fruitful land. On heathered hills
  My father fed his flocks. We gazed not down
  On vineyard slopes and waters blue as these
  But there a sea of swaying tree-tops spread
  Boundless beneath us, without path or tower,
  Save where beside the river's bend the monks
  Had built their cells and cleared the wood away.
  We called it milking time when we could hear
  The distant music of their matin chimes.

  HERMIT. Be your monks rich?

  KNIGHT.      Their fields are ploughed and brown
  But the poor upland shepherd has no corn;
  His flock must feed him with its milk and flesh,
  Unless he snare a partridge in the wood
  As I did oft, or standing in the brook
  Where the green water eddies in the pool
  Enmesh the foolish fishes.

  HERMIT.                     Never shepherd
  Could bear these arms or show this courtesy.
  Where wast thou bred, if thou wast born a hind,
  That thou art gentle? Who hath knighted thee?

  KNIGHT. The Baron of the Marches is my liege;
  To him I owe my nurture and my sword,
  And the sweet hope that leads me.

  HERMIT.                       Ah, the faith?

  KNIGHT. Nay, that my mother gave me with her prayers,
  Saintliest of women.

  HERMIT.             Thy mother and my own
  Were then alike. Hast thou another hope
  Sweeter than faith to thank thy master for?

  KNIGHT. He hath a daughter for whose hand I serve,
  Having her love; and on the happy night
  When I kept vigil o'er the virgin arms
  In which I should be knighted at the dawn
  He promised me her hand, if I proved worthy
  In five years' service. At the morrow's mass
  When we had both partaken of the Lord,
  I knelt before him, and while all his vassals
  Stood in a ring about us, up he rose
  And with his flat sword struck my shoulder thus,
  Speaking these words, now graven on my heart:
  "Arise, Sir Knight, to battle with the world
  For God and honour. If in youth thou fall,
  May thy bright soul take instant wing to heaven,
  But if thou blazon on this argent shield
  Valorous deeds, and come in safety back,
  Thy worth shall stand in lieu of ancient blood,
  For valour was the first nobility,
  And with the blessing of a hapless man
  Whom three brave sons, reversing nature's sentence,
  Condemned to mourn them, I will then deliver
  My daughter to thy hands. She and her honour,
  My lands, my castle, and my name be thine."
  Love is the hope, sweeter than faith in heaven,
  For which I toil in arms.
                            Enough of that.
  Methinks thou art a priest, and ere I leave thee
  I fain would make confession of what sins
  Lie on my soul.

  HERMIT.         God knoweth what they are,
  And hath, methinks, forgiven them already,
  For by the candour of thy looks I know
  Thou livest in his grace. But tell them o'er,
  For by the speaking of a word the heart
  Is lightened of its burden: and the Lord
  Commissioned us to listen in his name
  To all men's woes, and counsel and forgive.
  Therefore say on.

  KNIGHT.          Alas, where all is frail
  I know not with what sorrow to begin.
  If I could keep the thought of God alive
  I might live better; but my wit is loose
  And wanders into silly dreams awake,
  All to no purpose. Everything that stirs
  Sets me athinking of its life and ways
  And I forget my own. If a frog jump,
  Or busy squirrel run across my path,
  Or three sad crows fly cawing through the wood,
  Or if I spy a fox's trail, or print
  Of deer's foot in the mould--off go my thoughts
  And I am many leagues in fairy land
  Before I shake away the lethargy
  And say to my weak soul, Thou art a knight,
  What hast thou done to-day?

  HERMIT. Be these thy sins?

  KNIGHT. Nay, not the chief. For in all exercise,
  Or when in any test or feat of arms
  I meet another, not the worthy cause,
  The thought of God, my liege, or beauteous mistress
  Strengthens my arm, but the mere rage and pride
  Of the encounter sweeps my soul along,
  And win I must, whatever goal it be,
  When I am once engaged. That's in the blood.
  So were our heathen fathers wont to fight
  Merciless battles. But glory is the Lord's
  Who metes with measure. Still I stumble there.
  And envy, too, I often sin in that,
  For from my childhood up I never brooked
  A swifter runner, or a quicker eye
  To hit the mark, and what another does
  Better than I, that still I strive to do
  Till he be worsted. Else I cannot sleep.

  HERMIT. Thou knowest, child, that victory is God's
  To give and to deny. He gives it thee:
  'T is proof of thy deserving. Use it well,
  Which if thou do, to crave the victory
  In thee, a soldier, is no grievous sin.
  But hast thou not more special sins than these,
  No wrong, no murder?

  KNIGHT.                 Murder have I none,
  If murder be to kill a man by stealth
  Or in a private quarrel, but in war
  I oft have slain my man. I wear a sword
  Though nature gave me not a butcher's hand
  That loves to use it.--Oh, 't is marvellous
  How men will slaughter for the sake of blood,
  And Christians too. Before I crossed the sea,
  The Margrave fought a battle in the north
  Against the heathen. I then followed him,
  And when the fight was over and the foe,
  Routed, had fled into a deep morass
  Black 'neath the splendours of a fiery sky,
  The bugle called us back: and back I rode,
  My shield slung on my back, my visor up,
  Saying the Angelus, such peace there was
  Beneath the twilight heavens, when a groan
  That seemed the ending of a soul in pain
  Made me look down; there lay a heathen knight,
  And on his wounded breast a Christian crouched,
  Stabbing him still; I snatched the villain's sword,
  But just in time, and seized him by the throat
  Amazed, and loud with oaths; "Thou slave," quoth I,
  "Why wilt thou send a valiant soul to hell,
  That might be saved for heaven? The man is mine.
  Take thou his armour, if some happy chance
  Have made thee victor. But outrage not the cause
  Which thou wouldst well defend." We stripped the man,
  Whose gaping wounds were deep and hard to staunch
  With the few strips remaining of my tunic
  Torn in the fight; and as he could not sit,
  We needs must lift and bear him in our arms
  Back to the camp. He was a knight indeed,
  And when, his fever passing, I explained
  Our holy faith--(our chaplains spoke not well
  His northern tongue)--he listened open-eyed
  As a child might, and when I stopped and asked,
  "Dost thou believe?" he gazed and said: "I do.
  As thou believest, so in life and death
  Will I believe."--So humble was his soul
  And open to the sudden grace of heaven.
  Yet him my Christian ruffian would have slain
  To see the red blood ooze. 'T is pitiful!
  And yet I do him wrong. The fellow came
  The morning after, shy, with heavy looks,
  And said he begged to bring the armour back.
  It was not his, he had not felled the knight
  But found him on the ground; and when I bade him
  Retain the proffered sword, to use it better,
  He sobbed aloud, and bathed my hands in tears,
  So hearty was his grief.--But I confess
  Another's sins, good father, and forget
  My own, which I should tell of.

  HERMIT.                          Trouble not
  To tell them over, for I know them now.
  They are the same which seen in other men
  The world calls virtues. But one vice there is
  Which noblest natures in their youth are prone to.
  Hast thou offended against chastity?

  KNIGHT. Ah, father, I am guilty too in that,
  If whosoever looketh on a woman
  Unholily, already hath committed
  Adultery in his heart. 'T is in my thoughts,
  Perhaps, that I have sinned; but I am young,
  And have from childhood loved one noble maid.
  All other faces are but mirrors to me
  Of what she is in truth. When others smile
  And seem to say that haply they could love me,
  My heart yearns to them, yet its yearning goes
  Like incense past a picture, to her spirit.
  They are memorials of her I review
  To make me constant. Nay, but that's not all.
  A heavy season comes,--I know not whether
  At waxing or at waning of the moon,--
  When but the babble of a girlish voice
  Heard from a window, or a hand stretched forth,
  Or a chance motion, stops the beating heart
  Here in my breast, and melts my very soul,
  And I stand there bewitched, my brain benumbed,
  And nothing in me but the fell desire
  To do I know not what.--'T is dreams, dreams, dreams,
  And they are evil, treacherous, and base
  When they come so. One day on every side
  They girt me round. I cried to them "For shame!"
  They would not go nor quit tormenting me
  Till I put spurs into my steed, and rode,
  Rode with clenched teeth, hacking all branches off
  Within my axe's compass. When I stopped
  My soul was free: "We have outridden them,
  Albus," I cried, "the demons of that place
  Of foul enchantment! Here's the blue again
  Smiling upon us, God, and all his saints."
  Father, methinks the agony of death
  May happen so. A stifling darkness comes
  Upon the feeble soul, and doubtfully
  She keeps her strength alive on far-off hopes
  In that great stress of anguish. But it passes
  And slowly we awake in paradise.

  HERMIT. In paradise, my son, when thou awakest
  If I still suffer in the lake of fire
  Make me some prayerful alms, who in the name
  Of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
  Absolve thee now.

  KNIGHT.             And for my penance, father,
  What lay you on?

  HERMIT.             Three _Aves_ for three days
  Say for the soul of one unlike thyself
  Though of thy country. Robbers bore him thence
  Into their kingdoms. Hast thou never heard
  Tell of the hordes that ravaged Christendom
  Ere thou wast born, belike.

  KNIGHT.                     Nay, I remember.
  'T was then my mother brought me from the hills
  To dwell beside the castle, for the Huns
  Had slain my father and my elder brother
  And driven the sheep away.

  HERMIT.                     The Huns? The Huns?

  KNIGHT. Ay, when they ravaged all the land about
  Upon their western march.

  HERMIT.                     They slew thy brother?
  Thou sawest his body?

  KNIGHT.                  Nay, we saw it not.
  We fled, and many fearful weeks were past
  Ere we returned to search.

  HERMIT.                     The Lord is great.
  Thy brother's name was--

  KNIGHT.                     Damian.

  HERMIT.                            God of mercies,
  What shall become of us!

  KNIGHT.                  Thy gaze is fixed.
  What ails thee? Rest thee there.

  HERMIT.                          I cannot speak.
  I faint. Since dawn I have not tasted food.
  A draught! A morsel! Ah, my end is near.

  KNIGHT. I have a panier by my saddle-bow
  With food.--Albus has wandered down the glade.--
  I shall be here anon.                 [_Exit._

  HERMIT.                What bodes this portent?
  My practised soul well knows the things of earth,
  And there is none like this. Impossible.
  This is some essence metaphysical,
  And not the thing it seems. So much is sure;
  But whether fiend or minister of grace
  How shall I know? Is he a subtle demon
  And wins my ear? I am the devil's pawn.
  Is he an angel and I put him by?
  Then I am damned for that. All other sins
  Shall be forgiven, save such blasphemy
  Against the Holy Ghost. And being dead
  Might not my brother's spirit come from heaven?
  And though I be unworthy in my sins
  Of saintly visitation, I believe
  This vision is from God. 'T is beautiful
  And clothed in Christian speech and charity.
  Was not Mount Carmel, Lord, thy haunt of old
  Where men went up to meet thee? Show thy face.
  The Apostles at Emmaus knew the Lord
  When he broke bread. Blind heart, an angel comes
  To sup with thee to-night. Misknow him not.
  The ravens of Elijah, who were black,
  Came from the Lord, and Raphael himself
  Who led the lost Tobias by the hand
  Was black beside this vision's loveliness.
  Yea, by its glory pale the three bright strangers
  That from the desert came to Abraham's tent
  In figure of the blessed Trinity.--
    What am I raving? Am I Abraham,
  Tobias, or Elijah, that the gods
  Should visit me? Did not the artful devil
  Come to Saint Anthony in beauteous form?
  When first this ghost approached I dreaded him,--
  A certain sign. Yet by his subtle wiles,
  Flattering my earthly hopes, he vanquished me
  And quieted my doubts--as if Beelzebub
  Could not feign piety to murder souls!
  What, my young brother, whom I counted dead,
  Found in this shape, a knight, a Paladin,
  A vision such as minstrels sing about?
  Palpable lie, abominable snare
  The demon mocks me with! Let me but cry,
  "I am thy brother, I am Damian,"
  Let me but clasp his knees and with a flood
  Of joyful penitential childish tears
  Water his feet, and then look up again
  To drink the grace of his benignant eyes
  And by his kiss be healed in soul and body,
  And I shall see the grinning demon's self
  And feel that icy manacle, his claw,
  Clasping my wrist for ever. "Thou art damned,
  Damned," shrieks the fiend, "damned in believing lies,
  Damned in renouncing for a dreamful joy
  Thy solitude and penance. Thou art damned."
  Yes, 't is a hellish plot confronts me here.
  A knight, my brother, come to comfort me!
  'T is madness and wild dreams.--Again he comes.
  His gesture says, Here's food. Pitiful heaven,
  Assist me now. Let me not now be lost.
  Suffer my vigils and perpetual fasts
  To strengthen my resolve. To be so happy
  Were rash, and ah, how vain! To drown their sorrow
  Fools barter heaven for a drunkard's joy.


        [_Re-enter_ KNIGHT.


  KNIGHT. Drink this. 'T is water from the virgin springs
  Of Carmel, pure and cold. Stains of the world
  That leave the heavens clean leave earth's own heart
  Immaculate. 'T is but her outer garment
  That man and roving beast avail to smear.
  The curse of Adam stops at living things
  And Nature sleeps untainted. There is healing
  In such a fountain draught. Taste of this bread.
  Acorns I also bring and well-dried figs.
  Take freely: there is plenteous store for both.
  For often as I ride a village through
  Or tighten as I start from hostelries
  My horse's girth, the hospitable dame
  Or her young daughter brings me something forth
  From the rich larder, now a loaf or fowl
  And now a goat-skin full of seasoned wine.
  God prompts their kindly hearts and makes them bounteous
  Lest my strength fail me ere my journey's end,
  Who knows how distant yet.--Come, break thy fast.
  Remember, father, this is Christmas Eve
  When angels, joining in the songs of earth,
  Make mortals joyful, knowing their painful flesh
  Allied to deity.

  HERMIT.            I crave no food.

  KNIGHT. Nay, nay, thy faintness called for it but now.

  HERMIT. Not hunger gave that cry but wonderment.

  KNIGHT. At my poor brother's name?

  HERMIT.                          Thy brother lives.

  KNIGHT. Where? Dost thou know him? In this Holy Land?

  HERMIT. Poor Damian of the Marches! Verily
  His sins are scarlet. Pray for him, fair Knight,
  But seek not to discover his abode.
  If thou should st find him he would die of shame
  For bringing shame upon thee.

  KNIGHT.                          Hast thou seen him
  Or is it slander of a gossip's mouth
  That now usurps thy tongue? If he be fallen
  He hath the greater need of charity
  And some late succour.

  HERMIT.               Through long wanderings
  We never once were parted. In his youth
  I deemed him honest, loved him as myself,
  Nor doubted he should richly thrive and prosper
  Amongst the sons of men. But day by day
  The hand of opportunity unmasked
  The sleeping guilt within. Envy and greed,
  Pitiless malice, pride, and wantonness
  Started like lion's cubs that scent their prey
  And roared increasingly. Time drew aside
  Veil after veil that cloaked his villainy,
  Till looking on his stark and naked soul
  I stood aghast and trembled.

  KNIGHT.                       God, that made us,
  Engraved his sacred image in our hearts
  Deeper than cruel eyes may boast to pierce.
  Has not my brother too a priceless soul
  For which Christ died? Did God not ransom it?
  Yes, I will find him, lift him to my breast
  And say, "Forget the past. Thy home is here."

  HERMIT. Beware! Didst thou embrace him he would die,
  And he hath grievous penance yet to do
  Ere he be ripe for heaven. In purgatory
  The pains are doubly sharp and manifold
  With which our guilt is cleansed. Forbear to search.

  KNIGHT. This ministration is a task that heaven
  Now lays upon me. Hinder not his weal.
  What better battle could approve my courage
  Than in a brother's soul to fight despair?
  If I could bring that brother back to life
  Long dead to me, and dead, it seems, to God,
  Were't not a deed of Christian chivalry
  To win my lady by? Father, I pray thee,
  Where is my brother now?

  HERMIT.                  A mystery
  Enshrouds his penance. Vain to question more.
  A secret vow on which salvation hangs
  Lies between him and all men.

  KNIGHT.                      Marvellous!

  Where hath he roamed, what nameless sin committed
  That I may not embrace him?

  HERMIT.                      Listen, Knight,

  For I may tell thee that; and when thou knowest
  The sins he shrives and what his penance is,
  Assist him with thy charitable prayers
  To bear his cross, but lift it not away,
  For with it goes his hope of paradise.

  KNIGHT. There is indeed some mystery in this.
  The pain of it doth weigh upon thy soul
  Even in the telling.

  HERMIT.              Did his own pale lips
  Read from the branded tablets of his heart
  The record of his sorrows, they could never
  More truly speak than I, for all his woes
  I knew, and inly felt them as my own.
  Would that some ruffian knife had gashed his throat
  On that foul day of slaughter, when thy mother
  Bore thee afar to safety. Ah, how near
  Salvation hung that day above his head!
  But wondrously, as Isaac once was spared,
  Some voice he heard not stayed the murderous hand,
  Then dealing death abroad; and from that mercy
  The dreadful brood of all his torments sprang.

  They bound his wrists with painful twisted thongs
  And drove him with the flocks and captive women
  Into their camp, across the smouldering heaps
  Of burning rubbish and through sulphurous fumes.
  That night he found him tied behind a cart--
  The crawling palace of that savage chief
  Whose greed had saved him. Shivering he stood,
  For they had stripped him, through the starlight hours,
  And found no piteous orb less bright above him
  For looking on his grief. Alas, his soul
  Entered that night into the maze of hell.
  For gazing on those stars and on the corpses
  Of all he loved and knew, mangled and bare,
  Upbraiding heaven with their lidless eyes,
  And heaven's eyes still smiling back at them,
  He said to his cold heart, "There is no God."
  And when the rosy dawn with jocund seeming
  Gilded the valley as if naught had chanced,
  He, like the morning, banished grief and love,
  And in his vain and cruel heart repeating
  "There is no God," arose to greet the sun.
  They took him to a village by a stream,
  And in the market sold him to a Jew,
  A long-robed man, who stroked thy brother's hair--
  'T was flaxen then and silken as thy own--
  And chuckled as he hurried him away
  Into a galley, by the margin moored.
  They voyaged long, until they reached a vast
  And splendid city. Egypt's sunken shore
  Stretches behind it, and before its walls
  Pharos, by day a pillar and by night
  A flaming beacon, greets the mariner.
  'T is Satan's capital. If holy men
  Have dwelt within it, teaching all the Church,
  That was of old. Now Saracens and Jews
  Possess it wholly. There no Christian thrives,
  But every monstrous and lascivious crime
  Findeth a palace or a den to hide it.
  There did thy brother waste his youth, a slave,
  And no unwilling service did he render
  To every base command. His shepherd's skin,
  Ruddy with mountain suns, they smoothed with unguents,
  And bleached in pillared courts; they shaved his hair,
  Forbade him labour, save to hold a torch
  While his young masters read, or at the banquet
  To mix the lucent sherbets with the snows
  Of Sinai's deepest gorge, or in the censer
  To drop large incense-grains. He learned to sing
  What songs of wine their ribald poets penned,
  And all the witch of Lesbos raved of love.
  The lute and timbrel in his skilful hands
  They loved to place; oft in their languid souls
  His wild chant roused some savage memory
  And their hearts leapt like leopards in the night
  That prowl through broad Sahara. His delight
  Was henceforth the choice morsel, the fat fee,
  The subtle theft. He brought the gossip home
  From the loud market, lest his lord should yawn
  The morning long beneath the barber's hands,
  Nor praise his wit and to the tittering group
  Repeat his story. In the brothel streets
  He ran sly errands, nor escaped in fear
  If as he passed some wife of Potiphar
  Plucked at his tunic. His best art it was
  To know the cunning mixture of good wines
  And poisons too, if some adulterous slave
  Or long-lived uncle or importunate brother
  Needed a poison.--Close about his soul
  This bitter flood of luxury crept up
  Until it choked him. He forgot the past
  And blushed to be a Christian. Their vain prayers
  He learned to mutter, and was circumcised.
  Thrice in the day, and dawn and noon and eve,
  He washed his feet and hands, a foolish rite
  That left the soul still foul. Twice seven devils
  Lodged in his body and tormented him,
  And lust pursued him when all ways of lust
  Were stale and sickened.

                             But there came an end.
  For by the flesh as he had chiefly sinned,
  So in the flesh he had his punishment.
  Ulcers and boils, to make another Job,
  Thickened upon him, and his beauty gone,
  They drove him like a pest from all their gates
  Among the lepers. Then he called on God.
  Then he remembered all he once had heard
  But understood not touching Calvary;
  And rising up, all naked as he was,
  He plucked the stout stem of a bramble-bush
  To be his palmer's staff, and with a rag
  That once had been the blanket of a mule
  Girded his loins, and stalked into the wild.

  KNIGHT. And whither, father, whither did he go?

  HERMIT. Mount Sinai first received him, on whose crests
  The Lord in the beginning reared his throne,
  And from whose spurs and watered crevices
  The children of Saint Anthony for ever
  Pour praise and supplication. There he dwelt,
  Recalling to his troubled memory
  The precepts of the faith; but from those haunts
  He journeyed soon to deeper solitudes.

  KNIGHT. Then he repented and is surely saved?

  HERMIT. God grant it, son, God grant it for thy sake.
  'T is not a day can change the heart of man,
  Though grace doth much. The ancient demons lurk
  Still in their dark recesses, and at night,
  Or in the idle moments when the soul
  Breathes 'mid her travail, suddenly assail.
  In the vast wilderness the starving eye
  Spies many shapes that feed its lust. To me
  The buzz of bees, the lizard's sunny sleep,
  The snake's lithe coils are full of languishment.
  Oh, how the base blood then assaults the heart
  Crying, "Fool, fool, what were the life of heaven
  Unless in heaven too the sun were warm
  And the blood rose and all the passions flared,
  Even as in worms compact of earth and fire
  That lecherously writhe? Their goads and stings
  Are in thy flesh, why not their ravishment?"

  They are strange shapes the devil sometimes takes.
  There was a vine that crept along this wall,
  Ancient and knotted; far its branches spread
  And with their leafy greenness made a bower
  Over my cell. The juicy clusters hung
  Not far above me, and the little birds
  Chirped in the sun-flecked tangle all day long,
  Hopping from twig to twig and carolling.
  I sat and listened, and methought they said:
  "Bad hairy man, thou only in this world
  Repinest, hater of thyself and us,
  Thou art all nature's single enemy."
  And with a doubt that cleft my heart in twain
  I sat and pondered what they sang to me.
  Then I looked up into the sunlit maze
  Of that old vine, I breathed its subtle scent,
  I watched its spotted shadows shift and change
  With gusty murmurous tremblings of its leaves
  And eager tendrils, curling through the air,
  Until it seemed as if the thing had life
  And was a devil stooping over me
  With the obsession of his purring breath
  Wooing me to perdition. But I laughed,
  For I had dealt with imps of hell before.
  I searched the stubble till I found two flints,
  Sharp and with something like a cross upon them,
  And straight about the vine's outspreading roots
  Began to dig. A week, methinks, I dug
  With secret joy, well knowing that in vain
  The demon thought to ripen all his grapes.
  His filthy roots, now dangling in the air,
  Dried in the sun. In August fell the leaves,
  And the dead branches with the autumn's flaw
  Rotted and broke; now, see, they feed my fire.
  And when the Spring returns no silly birds
  Will fret me with their singing. God be praise
  That I could balk that devil: long he mocked
  My lonely penance with his evil eye.
  But others come anon; and what I suffer
  'T is very like thy brother suffers too.

  KNIGHT. I cannot think so, father. Thou art weak
  And long hast laid the hopes of youth aside.
  Thou canst not love. My brother still is young--

  HERMIT. Alas, if grief had multiplied his years!

  KNIGHT. He yet can love, and any natural voice
  Of wood or mountain, or perchance my own,
  Might wake in him another better life
  Of peace and happy hopes. We love the forest,
  We who were nurtured in its magic depths.
  Oft has it seemed as if God spoke to us
  In the low voices of the prayerful boughs
  That whisper nighest heaven.

  HERMIT.                         This false world
  Is naught, my son, but what we make of it.

  KNIGHT. Then I must think my brother loves the woods
  And hears God's message in their murmuring.
  Had he dwelt here, a hermit like thyself,
  He would have suffered that old vine to grow
  And those blithe birds to sing. 'T is positive,
  Else other blood than mine must fill his veins.
  Oh, I will find him yet.--I leave thee, father.
  Thou hast with heavy tidings and great hope
  Burdened my soul. Now I must journey on.
  I pray, thy blessing.

  HERMIT.               Kneel, thou happy stranger,
  Kneel, for a vision comes into my heart
  And I must prophesy. Thus saith the Lord:
  "Thou shalt not know thy brother upon earth;
  My will forbids. But thou shalt pass him by,
  And as Saint Peter's shadow healed a man,
  The passing of thee, by my grace and mercy,
  Shall save thy brother's soul." This comfort take
  And go thy ways.

  KNIGHT.               The will of God be done.
  If not on earth, we yet may meet in heaven.

  HERMIT. God grant it.

  KNIGHT.             May God keep thee.

  HERMIT.                         Fare thee well.

  KNIGHT [_sings as he goes_].


  _The star stood still o'er Bethlehem_
  _That showed the wise the way_,
  _And where the shepherds sleeping lay_
  _The angels sang to them:_
  _Glory be to God on high_
  _And peace on earth to men._


  HERMIT. Lord of Mount Carmel, hearken to my prayer.

  God of the hills, accept my sacrifice.



THE KNIGHT'S RETURN


A SEQUEL TO A HERMIT OF CARMEL


SCENE.--_A wooded lawn before the gate of a castle. In an arbour_ LADY
FLERIDA _and_ NURSE _at their handiwork._



  NURSE. The dews will soon be falling, Flerida.
  Come in, sweet lady.

  FLERIDA.             Hush! 'T is early yet.

  NURSE. 'T is time, methinks, to say the rosary.

  FLERIDA. See the sun hanging o'er the darkened hills
  Bright as the Host above the multitude
  Of bending worshippers! Tell thy beads here,
  The congregation of these rustling leaves
  Will answer all thy _Aves_ patiently.

  NURSE. I 've dropped a stitch. I cannot see to work
  'Neath trellises. These gentlefolk are mad.
  The mistress of a castle sits without,
  Like a poor homeless beggar!

  FLERIDA.                        Nay, go in
  And burn thy rush-light while the sun is shining,
  Or, by the casement squinting, knit thy hose
  While in these gilded clouds the seraphim
  Are singing Glory. Go, I follow thee.

  NURSE [_getting up to go_].
  Alack, this rheum. Young bones will brave the cold
  Till the twitch comes.--Trust me, 't is hazardous,
  Sweet child, to tarry here beyond the moat
  Alone, when evening falls. Once at thy age
  My mother sent me on a night like this
  To good old Prior Bennet, at Saint Giles.
  He was her uncle and a saintly man--
  How well do I remember his grey beard!--
  She went to him for shrift, and on that day
  She had a fainting turn: she had them oft
  Till in the last, poor sainted soul, she died.
  I needs must run and fetch him, for to die
  Unreconciled was all my mother feared,
  And but for that, she had so hard a life
  She would have changed it any day for heaven,
  And on the way ('t was scarce a rood from home)
  An idle foul young lout that sauntered by
  Griped at my frock--I tremble at it still--
  Thank God, the Virgin willed that at the trice
  Friar Peter (he was porter all that month)
  Opened the gate to let two pilgrims out,
  Bound, as they told us, for Jerusalem.
  Else Heaven knows what had become of me,
  Or whether I had ever had the face
  To cheat my husband, as most wenches do,
  Without confessing aught: for I am honest
  If ever woman was.

  FLERIDA.          Go in, go in.

  NURSE. Seest thou not I go? Can I make haste
  With these poor aching joints? Thou think'st thee safe?
  Remember Ulric in his dungeon plans
  Vengeance upon you, and his friends abroad
  Hatch plans for his deliverance. Thou a maid,
  An orphan, friendless, with these ill-paid men
  Guarding thy walls, what dost thou fading here?
  Who knows but he is dead, thy pretty knight?
  His time is up. Were he alive and true
  He had spurred home, hearing thy father's death,
  To claim thee and make good his heritage.
  Fie on this fondness, girl! It had been wiser
  To yield to Ulric. Was it not his place
  To guard thee? Led he not thy father's men?
  Ah, better be his wife, rich, safe, and loved,
  Than wait for ever among enemies
  For what will never come.

  FLERIDA.                    Poor soul, go in.

  The five years are not passed, and if they were
  And I had ocular proof that he was dead,
  Ulric should not be master in these walls.
  But I should open arches in the tower
  For bells to swing in, and the grass should grow
  Upon the buried hinges of the draw.
  Veiled we should walk within the garden-close,
  And in the dimmed hall chant our psalmodies
  With the frail voice of nuns. So get thee gone,
  And summon better counsel to thy heart
  Than quavers on thy lips. Go light thy taper,
  And pray for the safe-coming of thy liege.

  NURSE. I go. But thou, sweet lady, linger not.
  The victuals will grow cold, as many a night
  They have, since summer makes the twilight long
  And thou com'st late to supper.--Ah, poor bones!


  [_Exit._


  FLERIDA.

  Day wanes: full summer's hanging in the air.
    Oh, tarry not, my own.
  See! the first withered leaf is fallen there
    And I am here alone.
  Hath not my sorrow magic o'er thy breast?
    Hath not my weary plight
  The wings of love to fly into thy nest
    And reach thee in the night?
  Come to me, Palmerin. Thy trial's o'er,
    Thy knightly vow fulfilled.
  Come before winter chokes the ways, before
    My inmost soul is chilled.
  Where dost thou wander? From what lonely moor
    Dost thou salute this sun?
  Forget'st thou in gay courts what I endure?
    Lov'st thou some happier one?
  Weak woman! Can my doubting heart not wait
    While his true heart can fight?
  Why should I falter while he fronts his fate,
    Or mourn while he doth right?
  Keep him, great world, till the white shield he bore
    Be blazoned rich in pride.
  Fear not to echo, deserts, he's no more,
    If he have nobly died.


  _Re-enter_ NURSE; _later_ HUGH, _a page._


  NURSE. Run hither quickly, mistress. Hasten in
  And bid them raise the bridge. Some horsemen climb
  The western hill. Make haste, or all is lost.
  Young Hugh espied them from the northern tower,
  And gave us warning.

  FLERIDA.             Heaven hears my prayer.

  NURSE. Madness. Come in. I prithee hasten, Hugh.
  She 'll take thy word, though she mistrusts my oath
  Who never lied to her in all these years
  That I have served her, and her mother, too,
  Long before she was thought of. Speak, boy, speak.
  Assure thy mistress that a host arrives.

  HUGH. A single knight, my lady, clad in arms.

  FLERIDA. Young, with fair locks?

  HUGH.                        He had his helmet on.

  FLERIDA. Saw'st thou his shield?

  HUGH.                        It bore a rich device.
  But what I know not.

  FLERIDA.              Came he mounted well?

  HUGH. Right well, on a white steed. But at the turn
  Dismounted, and now leads the charger up.

  NURSE. O God, 't is he! I know him by that sign.
  He always did so. [_A bugle is heard in the distance._

  FLERIDA. God be my strength! Answer the bugle, Hugh.
  Thy master's call. It is Sir Palmerin.
  Again, again.--Summon the men-at-arms
  And fetch my father's sword, his helm and shield,
  That, with the great keys, I deliver them
  To him whose right they are.



        [_Exit_ HUGH.



                                The day is come,
  Merciful God, the day is come at last.

  NURSE. Runnest thou not to meet him? Flyest thou not?
  Oh, if I could, I'd rush to kiss his hands
  Full half-way down the steep. Alas! these bones.

  FLERIDA. I, who have waited for him five long years,
  May well be patient now. Here let him find me
  Where last we parted, at the castle gate.



        _Re-enter_ HUGH, _men-at-arms, and attendant, bearing
        some pieces of armour._



  NURSE. Oh, I must weep for joy! See, where he comes,
  Not so much changed but I should know him still
  Among a thousand. Such a pretty child
  As the knight was, and such a roguish boy!
  Can this be Palmerin? Who could have fancied
  That he should ever be this stalwart man?



        _Enter_ SIR PALMERIN, _who, seeing the lady_ FLERIDA,
        _who remains motionless, goes to kneel before her._



  PALMERIN. Lady, hast thou forgotten Palmerin?

  FLERIDA. Were memory dead, that voice would waken it.

  PALMERIN. What mean these weeds, these arms?

  FLERIDA.                       That thou, my liege,
  Art master in this castle.

  PALMERIN.                Ah, thy father--
  How long have we been orphaned, Flerida?

  FLERIDA. Ten moons have shed their light upon his grave.

  PALMERIN. Oh, more than father--

  FLERIDA.                   And thou more than son
  Wast ever to him. He remembered thee
  With his last breath, and bade me, when thou earnest,
  Render his arms, his vassals, and his towers
  Into thy hand. My lord, receive the keys. [_Kneels_.

  PALMERIN [_raising her_].
  How gladly, if these keys unlock thy heart,
  Dear lady. For my prize is not these walls,
  Nor these stout men and honourable arms.
  'T was not for them I served the Emperor
  In many a battle waged in heathen lands.
  'T was in the hope of what no strength of arm
  Nor kingly favour, without grace of thine,
  Could win for any man. If thou canst love me,
  I take all else to do thee homage with;
  But if thy heart, in my long absence won
  By some more worthy suitor, would withdraw,
  Keep the rest too, for to be wretched in
  I have this whole vast world for heritage.

  FLERIDA. My hand and heart my father plighted thee
  Upon the morning when he dubbed thee knight.
  Both shall be true. If other ground were lacking,
  My father's choice were ground enough for love.

  PALMERIN. Nay, let not duty and thy father's will
  Force thee to wed me. Bid thy heart pronounce.

  FLERIDA. A holy love is not the fancy's choice.
  A mother cherishes the child she bore,
  Nature's dear gift, bestowed with many a pang
  And weary vigil and sweet fluttering joy
  That flies over a sea of brooding care.
  A father is not chosen but revered,
  For God appointed him. 'T is destiny,
  And no man's wayward will, binds brothers, kindred,
  And childhood's friends in everlasting bonds.
  Our native land we chose not, nor our king,
  Nor our first sovereign, God. All sacred ties
  Are woven round us by the hand of heaven
  And therefore bear us up. Let homeless traitors
  Reject their lot, like fallen Lucifer
  Wretched 'neath every sky; let the false rabble
  Change with the moon its despicable chiefs;
  Let the vain fop and goaded libertine
  Pick their poor pleasures, and adulterous spirits
  Pursue a phantom down the drifts of hell.
  But we will breathe the air that quickened us
  And see by this same light that gave us eyes,
  Here rooted where God sowed us, flowering here
  Where we have grown, making our constancy
  A pivot for this wheeling universe.
  Ah! 't is a fickle and unholy fondness
  Springs from caprice of will. Who doteth once
  May dote again, for who shall fetter fancy?
  As thou couldst bare thy breast to fortune's arrows
  Undaunted, for thy hope was all in God
  And life or death must crown it, so my bosom,
  Enshrining his good gifts, is satisfied
  And cannot speak again. Him heaven gave me
  Shall be my lord and my unchangeable love.

  PALMERIN. O constant lady! Let me then thank heaven,
  That graced me with the treasure of thy troth.
  Rejoice with me, my comrades. Say no more
  That time has parted us, and devious chances
  Governed our lives. How now, is this good Carl?
  And little Hugh, so grown? And thou, old gossip,
  Goes thy rheum better now the season warms?
  But where is Ulric?

  FLERIDA.              Thou shalt know anon.
  First bid the people give us leave awhile.

  PALMERIN. Make ready, then; we follow you.



        [_Exeunt all save_ PALMERIN _and_ FLERIDA.



                                        Dear saint,
  Is this a vision or a waking truth
  In which I see thee, smiling on my hopes,
  As only visions smile on Jack-a-dreams?
  How often have I dreamt between two battles
  Thou stoodest thus above me in the dusk
  Half joy, half courage!

  FLERIDA.                  Haply't was my prayer,
  For prayer hath wings to travel in the night.

  PALMERIN. Didst thou remember

  FLERIDA.                          Not as others pray.
  What need of blessings to protest I loved thee,
  When benediction rose with every breath
  From my dumb heart to thee? Awake, adream,
  In woodland rambles or in household tasks,
  I moved in thy love's presence as in God's,
  One deity to me.

  PALMERIN.           How undeserving,
  Fair angel, are my merits of thy love!
  How could I win it!

  FLERIDA.            Ah, if God can love thee,
  Why should a mortal give a cause for love?

  PALMERIN. They say God loves us all.

  FLERIDA.                          Such pitying love
  Is his alone who knows the unsullied spirit
  Shrouded at birth beneath this fleshly coil,
  And can divine the stature of that virtue
  Each yet might climb to. But in thee declared
  Shine, Palmerin, the hopes of all the world.
  What God beheld and destined when he called thee
  Out of the void, he granted me to see
  First through the haze of maiden dreams and now
  With the deep glance of woman.

  PALMERIN.                          Then in sooth
  'T was no vain fancy, as the learned say,
  That made thy silent presence cross my path
  Where'er I turned, for if I slept my dream
  Painted thy smile, and when the vision fled
  The sunlit fountain met me with thy gaze.
  If the birds chirruped, it was _Flerida_,
  And _Flerida_ if any minstrel sang.
  Thy mien was in the lilies, the thin clouds
  Contrived thy garments' fashion, and thy courage
  Breathed from the mountains to renew my soul.
  Nor was there need, for in these tables here
  Thy name, thy looks, thy words, thy noble ways
  Were graven deep, and, as the gaudy shadows
  Stalked by me which men take for beauteous thing,
  I laughed to scorn each feeble counterfeit,
  And cried to the sweet image in my soul
  How much more bright thou wast and beautiful.
  Little I thought the love that brought me blessing
  Brought sorrow here to thee.

  FLERIDA.                      If it brought sorrow
  That grief was consecrate and offered up
  To aid thy noble venture. 'T was my hope
  That thy young sinews in a dreamless sleep
  Might knit them for the battle, while my vigils
  Kept trimmed thy spirit's lamp; so might thy valour,
  Fed on my sorrow's riches, greet the morn
  With more unsullied and resplendent rays
  Than her own shining, and the wondering world
  Should praise thy happy courage, little knowing
  The hidden might of love that nerved thy arm
  And taught thy blithe soul singing.

  PALMERIN.                           Flerida,
  Though I should give thee all ray life and blood,
  My honour and immortal soul, 't were nothing
  By what thou gavest first, and rendering all
  That should owe thee this sweet privilege
  Of having lived and loved thee.



        _Re-enter_ NURSE.



  NURSE.                          Loitering still?
  Come, come, the supper's spoiling.

  FLERIDA [_pointing to the castle]._ Wilt thou take
  Possession of thy poor inheritance?

  PALMERIN. 'Tis poor indeed, a case without its jewel,
  Till thou be mine.

  FLERIDA.           Thou hast my plighted troth.

  PALMERIN. Ah, pay the debt! my heart has waited long.

  FLERIDA. No priest is in attendance, Palmerin.
  Till one be duly summoned and arrive
  I am my father's hostage in thy hands
  Entrusted to thy love and chivalry.

  PALMERIN. I long have bivouacked, lady, 'neath the stars,
  And I shall better rest beneath their light
  While I am still an exile from thy bosom.
  Let me not change the canopy of heaven
  Except for heaven's self. Before this shrine
  I watched my virgin arms on the proud eve
  Of my first knighting. On this prouder vigil
  Let me hold silent session with my heart
  Again before this altar, keeping watch
  Over this sweeter boon, my virgin bride
  To be to-morrow mine.

  FLERIDA [_to the_ NURSE]. Bid them bring hither
  Some wine and morsels for Sir Palmerin,
  And torches, and their lutes and dulcimers.


          [_Exit_ NURSE.


  PALMERIN. We sup to-night beneath a lovers' moon
  Not quite at full.

  FLERIDA.           We sup beneath the stars
  That never wane, though nether storms obscure
  Their revolutions to the wistful eyes
  Of mortals. So our love shall never wane
  But when its fame on earth is heard no more,
  Translated to the language of the skies,
  It yet shall be a parcel of that joy
  Which saves the world from baseness.


        _Attendants with torches and musical instruments
        enter, while others bring in supper._


  SONG.

  _Come make thy dwelling here_
    _Where all sweet pleasures are._
  _For many a weary year_
  _From mates and lady dear_
    _Thou wanderest afar._
  _Come make thy dwelling here_
    _Beneath love's golden star.
  The battles' stress is o'er_
  _That should thy worth approve._
  _Oh, follow now no more_
  _The ruby star of war_
  _That onward still must move._
  _Fixed shines above thy door_
  _The golden star of love._

  PALMERIN.                          Flerida,
  What solace had thy orphaned life for thee
  In this fair desert? Was not Ulric here
  To lend thee succour?

  FLERIDA.  He was here, alas!

  PALMERIN. Alas?

  FLERIDA.        That he proved false.

  PALMERIN.                      I marvel. Speak.

  FLERIDA. Ah me! A sorry tale.--He said the castle
  As to my father's second came to him;
  That I within it, as the world would think,
  Must be his also. Doubtless thou wast dead,
  Else tidings would have come. To save my honour
  I must not wait, but bend to be his wife.

  PALMERIN. Said Ulric so, that brave and trusty man?
  Only some madness could transform his soul
  So utterly.

  FLERIDA. I question not the cause,

  I mark the deed and brand the infamy.
  When he had spoken and beheld me firm,
  The coward threatened force. We were alone
  And he unarmed; it was a woman's body,
  Not a man's soul, he thought to cope withal.
  My father's sword was hanging by the wall:
  I drew the blade, and as he rushed to snatch it
  Transfixed his body; at my feet he fell
  Writhing; I cried for help. Then Gunther came
  And the young Hugh. I published his offence,
  And when the torment and the fever passed,
  For my poor strength had left some breath in him,
  Fettered and manacled they brought him forth
  Into the hall, before my men-at-arms
  And the red witness of his own foul blood
  Staining the hearthstone; and I spoke and said:
  "Unhappy Ulric, traitor to thy liege,
  Whom on the cross thou tookest oath to serve,
  Thou shalt await his sentence. When he comes
  He shall know all and will decree thy forfeit.
  But if he come not, thou shalt live in chains
  Till God and death restore thy liberty."

  PALMERIN. Is he still captive?

  FLERIDA.                  In the northern tower,
  Whence Hugh but now, whom Christian charity
  Prompts oft to visit our sad prisoner,
  Saw thee approach. Ulric has heard the news.

  PALMERIN. Let him be brought.

  FLERIDA [_to the men-at-arms_]. You hear my lord's command.--
  Ah, Palmerin, when Christ returns to earth
  Only the good shall welcome him; thy coming
  Will bring thy faithless servant also joy,
  For I foresee thy sentence,

  PALMERIN.                   To be merciful
  Is to be truly just.--Has he not mended
  Or purged his sin in his captivity?

  FLERIDA. Indeed, it seems he has. Hugh and the friar
  Who daily visits him both bring report
  Of many pious and profound discourses
  With which he charms away his solitude.
  God grant his wisdom may outlive its cause
  And not forsake him now. For, see, he comes.


        _Re-enter the men-at-arms, leading in_ ULRIC, _bound._


  PALMERIN. Ulric, it wounds my soul to see thee thus.
  Undo the fetters.


        [ULRIC _is freed._


                       What has chanced I know.
  'T were idle to rehearse that history.
  Only one matter, past my understanding,
  I ask thee to confess: how came thy soul
  To harbour thoughts so opposite to thine
  And do thy nobleness this injury?

  ULRIC. Alas! The saddest sorrow of the world
  Is not foul sin, but that resplendent virtue
  That yet brings evil on. 'T was nothing base,
  Hideous, ignoble, or contemptible
  That led me to my ruin, but the might
  Of perfect sweetness, joy unthinkable,
  And infinite deserts_;_ it was the hunger
  For what most truly merits to be loved.
  'T was love, my lord, the love of Flerida
  Which, in thy bosom waking heaven's choirs,
  Brought hell into my breast. Was not her face
  As fair for me as thee to look upon?
  Was not her silver voice and high discourse
  Potent with reason on my listening ears?
  Why was it criminal in me to love
  And in thee lawful? For we both were men,
  And I the elder and the better born,
  Who might have wooed and won her worthily.
  Yet with no other crime than lucklessness,
  Because her father and her constant soul
  Lit first on thee, the tempest of my love
  Wrecked honour, faith, fame, life, and hope of heaven,
  Which, had the winds blown gently on my fortunes,
  The self-same love had blessed and glorified.

  PALMERIN. I pity thee; but summon not thy love
  To shield thy shame. Hadst thou been fortunate,
  Should I with cunning and outrageous hand
  Have moved against thy peace? Nay, by God's mercy,
  I should have gone my way, and patiently
  In other worlds have justified my soul;
  For sorrow more religiously than love
  Counselleth mortals.

  ULRIC.             Ah, I loved too much.

  PALMERIN. Thou sayest well, Too much. Not that thy love
  In sweetness or in silent potency
  Of grief surpassed or mine or any man's.
  But finding in thy spirit no defence,
  Love fattened on thy reason, drank thy will,
  And quite consumed thy being; growing great,
  It left thee little, as, when a fiery wind
  Devours the stubble, both together perish
  And all goes out in shame. Water these ashes,
  Ulric, with warm and consecrated tears,
  That haply some new sweetness thence arise
  Beneath another heaven. Though thou leave us,
  Our hearts will not forget thee. In thy prayers
  Remember us, and use thy freedom well.

  ULRIC. I thank thee for thy counsel and thy mercy,
  Generous knight. Not comfortless I go,
  For not thy lips alone, well catechised,
  Forgive me, Palmerin: thy heart forgives.
  I would not use my freedom now to rove
  But to ascend. A cloister's little earth
  Is covered by the whole wide firmament.
  Being changed within, there let me live and die
  An anchorite, that I may outwardly
  Become a breathing symbol and a hand
  Pointing to heaven, become a lamp of love
  And keep my spirit's sacrificial flame
  Burning before the altar, till my blood,
  Its living oil, to light refine its fire
  And rise, by prayer transmuted, from this world.
  And at this parting let me bless thee, lady,
  Angel God chose to save me from my sin
  Even by tempting me. For in the storm
  And fury of my madness thy calm eyes
  That unaware had called me, as the moon
  Summons the leaping sea to follow her,
  Soon with quick bolt and soul-transfixing ire
  Awaked me from my dream. For who was I,
  That I should lift me to so pure a being
  Except in adoration, as the wave
  That mirrors in its slimy breast the glory
  Of some clear star, soon, grateful for that light,
  Sinks, moaning, to its restless element.
  So moaned I, in my dungeon's loneliness
  And in that larger solitude, the world,
  Where now no joy remained to beckon me.
  I cried to Nature, questioned sun and moon,
  At my cell's bars celestial visitants;
  Yes, I importuned my own soul to tell me
  Whether a man be born to look on good
  And straightway perish. Long I questioned fate.
  No answer came from heaven to my doubts;
  But with the Spring and the reviving note
  Of thrush and swallow, and the ploughman's song
  Heard from the fields, I somewhat calmed my griefs,
  And my heart took new counsel. Though a wave
  Mirror a star and sink into the sea,
  It cannot suffer; though the summer fade
  It shivers not at autumn; though the spheres
  Crash back to chaos they lament it not.
  Never the blasted deserts of the moon
  Mourned their lost verdure or implored reprieve.
  But my loud heart-beats, self-contemplative,
  Note their own weariness, and death foreknown
  Makes life a grim and halting agony.
  Yet something in me rides on circumstance
  And swims the tide of change. How should that die
  Which knows its dying, or that pine and fade
  Which marks the shrivelled leafage of the year?
  Can ashes choke that voice to lying silence
  Which once has said: I love? That truth must live
  Though unremembered, and that splendour shine
  Though all eyes close in sleep. When first I loved thee
  Something immortal darted through my flesh
  And made me godlike. Henceforth all of me
  That loved thee, all of thee my puissant love
  Hedging with worship rescued from the void
  Lives in eternity, a part of God,
  Who feeds with earth's unquenchable desire
  The skies' ethereal altar, to whose flame
  Passions are brands, thoughts smoke and frankincense,
  Nations and worlds unceasing hecatombs.
  There, growing one with all that ravished me,
  I also bum and never cease from love.
  Farewell, sweet lady. For thy pity thanks,
  More thanks for thy disdain, but for thy beauty
  Infinite thanks, for it was infinite
  And, while it blinded most, unsealed mine eyes.

  FLERIDA. Go in God's peace, and may he grant thee grace
  To see him always.


          _Exit_ ULRIC.


                       Palmerin, this night
  Brings me a surfeit and a cloud of joys.
  I cannot seize them all. But many days
  Will suck their drop of sweetness from this store,
  And many silent nights and absences
  Feed on its garnered bliss.

  NURSE.                         What, prattling still?
  You 'll catch the ague and the chill of the fens,
  And lolling in the moonlight, talking love,
  You 'll die before the wedding. Come along.

  PALMERIN. Sleep, Flerida, falls sweetly on a heart
  Freed from long doubt and anguish. Take thy rest.
  Palmerin watches at thy castle gates
  And all is well. Sleep, sleep, my Flerida.

  FLERIDA. Let me gaze long upon thee ere I go,
  Lest, waking, I believe that I have dreamt
  And weep anew and be disconsolate.

  PALMERIN. Ah, were I only lying by thy side
  At the first checking of thy peaceful breath,
  To chase away that doubt before it grieved thee
  And with two kisses close thy dreamful eyes!
  Alas that we should meet to part, and love
  Only to be divided!

  FLERIDA.             Palmerin,
  Though thou hast faced the world and conquered it,
  Thy noble heart is young. My briefer years
  And lonely life have farther traced the thread
  By which fate guides us through this labyrinth.
  To learn to part, to learn to be divided,
  We meet and love on earth; to learn to die
  Is the one triumph of the life of prayer.
  Shall love be but to hug the mother's breast,
  Or else run wailing? To prolong for ever
  The lovers' kiss, or pine for blandishments?
  Is the Lord's body but unleavened bread
  Weighed with a baker's measure, or his blood
  Wine to be drunk in bumpers? And shall love
  Be reckoned in embraces, and its grace
  Die with the taking of its sacrament?
  These be but symbols to the eye of time
  Of secrets written in eternity.
  The love that fed must wean the nourished soul,
  And through the dark and narrow vale of death
  Send forth the lover lone but panoplied.
  Else life were vain and love a moment's trouble
  That, passing, left untenanted the void,
  As summer winds a-tremble in this bower
  Might waft some fragrance from a rifled rose
  Through yonder gulf of night and nothingness.
  Hadst thou in battle fallen, were my soul
  Bereft of Palmerin? Or had I languished,
  Would Flerida have mocked thy constancy?
  Banish such thoughts, dear master of my being,
  From thy immortal soul. These fond enchantments
  Make the sweet holiday and youth of love;
  They are a largess and bright boon of heaven
  To sweeten our resolves. But youth will fade,
  And death, not mowing with a two-edged scythe,
  Will cut down one and leave the other bowing
  Before the wintry wind. Arm not with terror
  That swift, unheralded, insidious foe,
  But let him find our love invulnerable
  And our heart's treasure in eternal hands.
  My lord, good-night. To-day my joy is full,
  To God I leave to-morrow. Fare thee well.

  PALMERIN [_kneeling to kiss the hand she gives him_].
  Good-night, my own. May angels guard thy
  slumber--

  FLERIDA. And share thy vigil--

  PALMERIN.                      Till my angel come.


        [_Exit_ FLERIDA, _followed by her household As they
        go, some voices repeat scratches of the previous
        song: "Come make thy dwelling here," etc._


  PALMERIN [_alone]._

  No, Palmerin, unbuckle not thy arms,
    Guard well thy lady's sleep.
  Haply the wizards of the wood have charms
    To make a virgin weep.

  All goblin sprites and fairies of the trees
    That lead their impish dance
  Will spy thy mantle's cross; their blood will freeze
    To see a Christian lance.

  Hark! the old croaking frogs, and the far din
    Of crickets in the field.
  They bid me welcome home. "Hie, Palmerin,
    Once of the argent shield,

  "What's this device? Is Flerida this flower,
    And these five pearls her tears,
  Shed for thy love in her disconsolate bower
    These five unhappy years?

  "Those sable bars athwart a field of gules,
    Are they thy nights and days
  Spent mid bluff captains and rash drunken fools
    In marches, bouts, and frays?"

  Ay, ye chirp well, if I divine your note,
    Ye civil, croaking elves!
  A foolish master have your fields and moat
    And your so learned selves.

  Nothing he knows of wit or bookish lore
    And nothing of the fair,
  Only to break the brutal front of war
    And half repeat a prayer.

  Yet this sad wight is he, as fairies know,
    Whom Flerida hath blest,
  Soon locked within her arms. She long ago
    Was locked within his breast,

  Celestial Flerida, whom all the hours
    Adorning from her birth
  Have crowned the queen of stars, the queen of flowers,
    The queen of maids on earth.

  Her peerless heart hath chosen him her lord,
    The rare intrepid maid,
  Whose tender hand incarnadined a sword
    Lest he should be betrayed.

  Out of his nothingness her bounteous love
    Bred all his poor desert
  As God lent to the void he made us of
    His image for a heart.

  Like to the dateless dark before our birth
    Are those five winters past,
  This vigil like the twilight life of earth,
    Then paradise at last

  And changeless love. How in the paling skies
    The star of morning burns!
  Open, heaven's gates! Eternal sun, arise!
    Sir Palmerin returns.



    ELEGIAC AND LYRIC POEMS



    PREMONITION


    The muffled syllables that Nature speaks
      Fill us with deeper longing for her word;
    She hides a meaning that the spirit seeks,
      She makes a sweeter music than is heard.

    A hidden light illumines all our seeing,
      An unknown love enchants our solitude.
    We feel and know that from the depths of being
      Exhales an infinite, a perfect good.

    Though the heart wear the garment of its sorrow
      And be not happy like a naked star,
    Yet from the thought of peace some peace we borrow,
      Some rapture from the rapture felt afar.

    Our heart strings are too coarse for Nature's fingers
      To wake her purest melodies upon,
    And the harsh tremor that among them lingers
      Will into sweeter silence die anon.

    We catch the broken prelude and suggestion
      Of things unuttered, needing to be sung;
    We know the burden of them, and their question
      Lies heavy on the heart, nor finds a tongue.

    Till haply, lightning through the storm of ages,
      Our sullen secret flash from sky to sky,
    Glowing in some diviner poet's pages
      And swelling into rapture from this sigh.



    SOLIPSISM


    I could believe that I am here alone,
      And all the world my dream;
    The passion of the scene is all my own,
      And things that seem but seem.

    Perchance an exhalation of my sorrow
      Hath raised this vaporous show,
    For whence but from my soul should all things borrow
      So deep a tinge of woe?

    I keep the secret doubt within my breast
      To be the gods' defence,
    To ease the heart by too much ruth oppressed
      And drive the horror hence.

    O sorrow that the patient brute should cower
      And die, not having sinned!
    O pity that the wild and fragile flower
      Should shiver in the wind!

    Then were I dreaming dreams I know not of,
      For that is part of me
    That feels the piercing pang of grief and love
      And doubts eternally.

    But whether all to me the vision come
      Or break in many beams,
    The pageant ever shifts, and being's sum
      Is but the sum of dreams.



    SYBARIS


    Lap, ripple, lap, Icarian wave, the sand
    Along the ruins of this piteous land;
    Murmur the praises of a lost delight,
    And soothe the aching of my starved sight
    With sheen of mirrored beauties, caught aright.

    Here stood enchanted palaces of old,
    All veined porphyry and burnished gold;
    Here matrons and slight maidens sat aloof
    Beneath cool porches, rich with Tyrian woof
    Hung from the carven rafters of the roof.

    Here in the mart a swarthy turbaned brave
    Showed the wrought blade or praised the naked slave.
    "Touch with your finger-tips this edge of steel,"
    Quoth he, "and see this lad, from head to heel
    Like a bronze Cupid. Feel, my masters, feel."

    Here Aphrodite filled with frenzied love
    The dark recesses of her murmurous grove.
    The doves that haunted it, the winds that sighed,
    Were souls of youths that in her coverts died,
    And hopes of heroes strewed her garden wide.

    Under her shades a narrow brazen gate
    Led to the courts of Ares and of Fate.
    Who entered breathed the unutterable prayer
    Of cruel hearts, and death was worshipped there,
    And men went thence enfranchised by despair.

    Here the proud athlete in the baths delayed,
    While a cool fountain on his shoulders played,
    Then in fine linen swathed his breast and thighs,
    And silent, myrtle-crowned, with serious eyes,
    Stepped forth to list the wranglings of the wise.

    A sage stalked by, his ragged mantle bound
    About his brows; his eyes perused the ground;
    He conned the number of the cube and square
    Of the moon's orb; his horny feet and bare
    Trampled the lilies carpeting the stair.

    A jasper terrace hung above the sea
    Where the King supped with his beloved three:
    The Libyan chanted of her native land
    In raucous melody, the Indian fanned,
    And the huge mastiff licked his master's hand.

    Below, alone, despairing of the gale,
    A crouching sailor furled the saffron sail;
    Then rose, breathed deep, and plunged in the lagoon.
    A mermaid spied his glistening limbs: her croon
    Enticed him down; her cold arms choked him soon.

    And the King laughed, filled full his jewelled bowl,
    And drinking cried: "What know we of the soul?
    What number addeth to her harmony
    These drops of vintage that attune her key,
    Or those of brine that set the wretched free?

    "If death should change me, as old fables feign,
    Into some slave or beast, to purge with pain
    My lordly pleasures, let my torment be
    Still to behold thee, Sybaris, and see
    The sacred horror of thy loves and thee.

    "Be thou my hell, my dumb eternal grief,
    But spare thy King the madness of belief,
    The brutish faith of ignorant desire
    That strives and wanders. Let the visible fire
    Of beauty torture me. That doom is higher.

    "I wear the crown of life. The rose and gem
    Twine with the pale gold of my diadem.
    Nature, long secret, hath unveiled to me
    And proved her vile. Her wanton bosoms be
    My pillow now. I know her, I am free."

    He spoke, and smiling stretched a languid hand,
    And music burst in mighty chords and bland
    Of harp and flute and cymbal.--When between
    Two cypresses the large moon rose, her sheen
    Silvered the nymphs' feet, tripping o'er the green.



    AVILA


    Again my feet are on the fragrant moor
      Amid the purple uplands of Castile,
    Realm proudly desolate and nobly poor,
      Scorched by the sky's inexorable zeal.

    Wide desert where a diadem of towers
      Above Adajar hems a silent town,
    And locks, unmindful of the mocking hours,
      Her twenty temples in a granite crown.

    The shafts of fervid light are in the sky,
      And in my heart the mysteries of yore.
    Here the sad trophies of my spirit lie:
      These dead fulfilled my destiny before.

    Like huge primeval stones that strew this plain,
      Their nameless sorrows sink upon my breast,
    And like this ardent sky their cancelled pain
      Smiles at my grief and quiets my unrest.

    For here hath mortal life from age to age
      Endured the silent hand that makes and mars,
    And, sighing, taken up its heritage
      Beneath the smiling and inhuman stars.

    Still o'er this town the crested castle stands,
      A nest for storks, as once for haughty souls;
    Still from the abbey, where the vale expands,
      The curfew for the long departed tolls,

    Wafting some ghostly blessing to the heart
      From prayer of nun or silent Capuchin,
    To heal with balm of Golgotha the smart
      Of weary labour and distracted sin.

    What fate has cast me on a tide of time
      Careless of joy and covetous of gold,
    What force compelled to weave the pensive rhyme
      When loves are mean, and faith and honour old,

    When riches crown in vain men's sordid lives,
      And learning chokes a mind of base degree?
    What winged spirit rises from their hives?
      What heart, revolting, ventures to be free?

    Their pride will sink and more ignobly fade
      Without memorial of its hectic fire.
    What altars shall survive them, where they prayed?
      What lovely deities? What riven lyre?

    Tarry not, pilgrim, but with inward gaze
      Pass daily, musing, where their prisons are,
    And o'er the ocean of their babble raise
      Thy voice in greeting to thy changeless star.

    Abroad a tumult, and a ruin here;
      Nor world nor desert hath a home for thee.
    Out of the sorrows of the barren year
      Build thou thy dwelling in eternity.

    Let patience, faith's wise sister, be thy heaven,
      And with high thoughts necessity alloy.
    Love is enough, and love is ever given,
      While fleeting days bring gift of fleeting joy.

    The little pleasures that to catch the sun
      Bubble a moment up from being's deep,
    The glittering sands of passion as they run,
      The merry laughter and the happy sleep,--

    These are the gems that, like the stars on fire,
      Encrust with glory all our heaven's zones;
    Each shining atom, in itself entire,
      Brightens the galaxy of sister stones,

    Dust of a world that crumbled when God's dream
      To throbbing pulses broke the life of things,
    And mingled with the void the scattered gleam
      Of many orbs that move in many rings,

    Perchance at last into the parent sun
      To fall again and reunite their rays,
    When God awakes and gathers into one
      The light of all his loves and all his days.



    KING'S COLLEGE CHAPEL


    The buttress frowns, the gorgeous windows blaze,
      The vault hangs wonderful with woven fans,
    The four stone sentinels to heaven raise
      Their heads, in a more constant faith than man':

    The College gathers, and the courtly prayer
      Is answered still by hymn and organ-groan;
    The beauty and the mystery are there,
      The Virgin and Saint Nicholas are gone.

    Not one _Ora pro nobis_ bids them pause
      In their far flight, to hear this anthem roll;
    No heart, of all that the King's relic awes,
      Sings _Requiescat_ to his mournful soul.

    No grain of incense thrown upon the embers
      Of their cold hearth, no lamp in witness hung
    Before their image. One alone remembers;
      Only the stranger knows their mother tongue.

    Long rows of tapers light the people's places;
      The little choristers may read, and mark
    The rhythmic fall; I see their wondering faces;
      Only the altar--like the soul--is dark.

    Ye floating voices through these arches ringing
      With measured music, subtle, sweet, and strong,
    Feel ye the inmost reason of your singing?
      Know ye the ancient burden of your song?

    The twilight deepens, and the blood-dyed glories
      Of all these fiery blazonings are dim.
    Oh, they are jumbled, sad, forgotten stories!
      Why should ye read them, children? Chant your hymn.

    But I must con them while the rays of even
      Kindle aloft some fading jewel-gleam
    And the vast windows glow a peopled heaven,
      Rich with the gathering pageant of my dream.

    Eden I see, where from the leafy cover
      The green-eyed snake begins to uncoil his length
    And whispers to the woman and her lover,
      As they lie musing, large, in peaceful strength.

    I see their children, bent with toil and terror,
      Lurking in caves, or heaping madly on
    The stones of Babel, or the endless error
      Of Sodom, Nineveh, and Babylon.

    Here the Egyptian, wedding life with death,
      Flies from the sun into his painted tomb,
    And winds the secret of his antique faith
      Tight in his shroud, and seals in sterile gloom.

    There the bold prophets of the heart's desire
      Hail the new Zion God shall build for them,
    And rapt Isaiah strikes the heavenly lyre,
      And Jeremiah mourns Jerusalem.

    Here David's daughter, full of grace and truth,
      Kneels in the temple, waiting for the Lord;
    With the first _Ave_ comes the wingèd youth,
      Bringing the lily ere he bring the sword.

    There, to behold the Mother and the Child,
      The sturdy shepherds down the mountain plod,
    And angels sing, with voices sweet and wild
      And wide lips parted: "Glory be to God."

    Here, mounted on an ass, the twain depart
      To hallowed Egypt, safe from Herod's wrong;
    And Mary ponders all things in her heart,
      And pensive Joseph sadly walks along.

    There with the Twelve, before his blood is shed,
      Christ blesses bread and breaks it with his hands,
    "This is my body." Thomas shakes his head,
      They marvel all, and no one understands,

    Save John, whom Jesus loved above the rest.
      He marvels too, but, seeking naught beside,
    Leans, as his wont is, on his Master's breast.
      Ah! the Lord's body also should abide.

    There Golgotha is dark against the blue
      In the broad east, above the painted crowd,
    And many look upon the sign, but few
      Read the hard lesson of the cross aloud.

    And from this altar, now an empty tomb,
      The Lord is risen. Lo! he is not here.
    No shining angel sitteth in the gloom,
      No Magdalen in anguish draweth near.

    All pure in heart, or all in aspect pure,
      The seemly Christians, kneeling, line the choir,
    And drop their eyelids, tender and demure,
      As the low lingering harmonies expire.

    In that _Amen_ are the last echoes blended
      Of all the ghostly world. The shades depart
    Into the sacred night. In peace is ended
      The long delirious fever of the heart.

    Then I go forth into the open wold
      And breathe the vigour of the freshening wind,
    And with the piling drift of cloud I hold
      A worship sweeter to the homeless mind,

    Where the squat willows with their osiers crowned
      Border the humble reaches of the Cam,
    And the deep meadows stretching far around
      Make me forget the exile that I am,--

    Exile not only from the wind-swept moor
      Where Guadarrama lifts his purple crest,
    But from the spirit's realm, celestial, sure
      Goal of all hope and vision of the best.

    They also will go forth, these gentle youths,
      Strong in the virtues of their manful isle,
    Till one the pathway of the forest smooths,
      And one the Ganges rules, and one the Nile

    And to whatever wilderness they choose
      Their hearts will bear the sanctities of home,
    The perfect ardours of the Grecian Muse,
      The mighty labour of the arms of Rome;

    But, ah! how little of these storied walls
      Beneath whose shadow all their nurture was!
    No, not one passing memory recalls
      The Blessed Mary and Saint Nicholas.

    Unhappy King, look not upon these towers,
      Remember not thine only work that grew.
    The moving world that feeds thy gift devours,
      And the same hand that finished overthrew.



    ON AN UNFINISHED STATUE


    BY MICHAEL ANGELO IN THE BARGELLO,

    CALLED AN APOLLO OR A DAVID


    What beauteous form beneath a marble veil
      Awaited in this block the Master's hand?
    Could not the magic of his art avail
      To unseal that beauty's tomb and bid it stand?

    Alas! the torpid and unwilling mass
      Misknew the sweetness of the mind's control,
    And the quick shifting of the winds, alas!
      Denied a body to that flickering soul.

    Fair homeless spirit, harbinger of bliss,
      It wooed dead matter that they both might live,
    But dreamful earth still slumbered through the kiss
      And missed the blessing heaven stooped to give,

    As when Endymion, locked in dullard sleep,
      Endured the gaze of Dian, till she turned
    Stung with immortal wrath and doomed to weep
      Her maiden passion ignorantly spurned.

    How should the vision stay to guide the hand,
      How should the holy thought and ardour stay,
    When the false deeps of all the soul are sand
      And the loose rivets of the spirit clay?

    What chisel shaking in the pulse of lust
      Shall find the perfect line, immortal, pure?
    What fancy blown by every random gust
      Shall mount the breathless heavens and endure?

    Vain was the trance through which a thrill of joy
      Passed for the nonce, when a vague hand, unled,
    Half shaped the image of this lovely boy
      And caught the angel's garment as he fled.

    Leave, leave, distracted hand, the baffling stone,
      And on that clay, thy fickle heart, begin.
    Mould first some steadfast virtue of thine own
      Out of the sodden substance of thy sin.

    They who wrought wonders by the Nile of old,
      Bequeathing their immortal part to us,
    Cast their own spirit first into the mould
      And were themselves the rock they fashioned thus.

    Ever their docile and unwearied eye
      Traced the same ancient pageant to the grave,
    And awe made rich their spirit's husbandry
      With the perpetual refluence of its wave,

    Till 'twixt the desert and the constant Nile
      Sphinx, pyramid, and awful temple grew,
    And the vast gods, self-knowing, learned to smile
      Beneath the sky's unalterable blue.

    Long, long ere first the rapt Arcadian swain
      Heard Pan's wild music pulsing through the grove,
    His people's shepherds held paternal reign
      Beneath the large benignity of Jove.

    Long mused the Delphic sibyl in her cave
      Ere mid his laurels she beheld the god,
    And Beauty rose a virgin from the wave
      In lands the foot of Heracles had trod.

    Athena reared her consecrated wall,
      Poseidon laid its rocky basement sure,
    When Theseus had the monstrous race in thrall
      And made the worship of his people pure.

    Long had the stripling stood in silence, veiled,
      Hearing the heroes' legend o'er and o'er,
    Long in the keen palæstra striven, nor quailed
      To tame the body to the task it bore,

    Ere soul and body, shaped by patient art,
      Walked linked with the gods, like friend with friend,
    And reason, mirrored in the sage's heart,
      Beheld her purpose and confessed her end.

    Mould, then, thyself and let the marble be.
      Look not to frailty for immortal themes,
    Nor mock the travail of mortality
      With barren husks and harvesting of dreams.



    MIDNIGHT


    The dank earth reeks with three days' rain,
    The phantom trees are dark and still,
    Above the darkness and the hill
    The tardy moon shines out again.
    O heavy lethargy of pain!
    O shadows of forgotten ill!

    My parrot lips, when I was young,
    To prove and to disprove were bold.
    The mighty world has tied my tongue,
    And in dull custom growing old
    I leave the burning truth untold
    And the heart's anguish all unsung.

    Youth dies in man's benumbed soul,
    Maid bows to woman's broken life,
    A thousand leagues of silence roll
    Between the husband and the wife.
    The spirit faints with inward strife
    And lonely gazing at the pole.

    But how should reptiles pine for wings
    Or a parched desert know its dearth?
    Immortal is the soul that sings
    The sorrow of her mortal birth.
    O cruel beauty of the earth!
    O love's unutterable stings!



    IN GRANTCHESTER MEADOWS


    ON FIRST HEARING A SKYLARK SING


    Too late, thou tender songster of the sky
    Trilling unseen, by things unseen inspired,
                  I list thy far-heard cry
    That poets oft to kindred song hath fired,
    As floating through the purple veils of air
                  Thy soul is poured on high,
    A little joy in an immense despair.

    Too late thou biddest me escape the earth,
                  In ignorance of wrong
    To spin a little slender thread of song;
                  On yet unwearied wing
                  To rise and soar and sing,
                  Not knowing death or birth
    Or any true unhappy human thing.

                  To dwell 'twixt field and cloud,
    By river-willow and the murmurous sedge,
                  Be thy sweet privilege,
    To thee and to thy happy lords allowed.
    My native valley higher mountains hedge
                  'Neath starlit skies and proud,
    And sadder music in my soul is loud.

                   Yet have I loved thy voice,
    Frail echo of some ancient sacred joy.
                   Ah, who might not rejoice
    Here to have wandered, a fair English boy,
    And breathed with life thy rapture and thy rest
    Where woven meadow-grasses fold thy nest?
                   But whose life is his choice?
    And he who chooseth not hath chosen best.



    FUTILITY


    Fair Nature, has thy wisdom naught to say
    To cheer thy child in a disconsolate hour?
    Why do thy subtle hands betray their power
    And but half-fashioned leave thy finer clay?
    Upon what journeys doth thy fancy stray
    That weeds in thy broad garden choke the flower,
    And many a pilgrim harboured in thy bower
    A stranger came, a stranger went away?
    Ah, Mother, little can the soul avail
    Unchristened at some font of ancient love.
    What boots the vision if the meaning fail,
    When all the marvels of the skies above
    March to the passions they are mirrors of?
    If the heart pine, the very stars will pale.



    BEFORE A STATUE OF ACHILLES


    I


    Behold Pelides with his yellow hair,
    Proud child of Thetis, hero loved of Jove;
    Above the frowning of his brows it wove
    A crown of gold, well combed, with Spartan care.
    Who might have seen him, sullen, great, and fair,
    As with the wrongful world he proudly strove,
    And by high deeds his wilder passion shrove,
    Mastering love, resentment, and despair.
    He knew his end, and Phoebus' arrow sure
    He braved for fame immortal and a friend,
    Despising life; and we, who know our end,
    Know that in our decay he shall endure
    And all our children's hearts to grief inure,
    With whose first bitter battles his shall blend.


    II


    Who brought thee forth, immortal vision, who
    In Phthia or in Tempe brought thee forth?
    Out of the sunlight and the sapful earth
    What god the simples of thy spirit drew?
    A goddess rose from the green waves, and threw
    Her arms about a king, to give thee birth;
    A centaur, patron of thy boyish mirth,
    Over the meadows in thy footsteps flew.
    Now Thessaly forgets thee, and the deep
    Thy keeled bark furrowed answers not thy prayer
    But far away new generations keep
    Thy laurels fresh, where branching Isis hems
    The lawns of Oxford round about, or where
    Enchanted Eton sits by pleasant Thames.


    III


    I gaze on thee as Phidias of old
    Or Polyclitus gazed, when first he saw
    These hard and shining limbs, without a flaw,
    And cast his wonder in heroic mould.
    Unhappy me who only may behold,
    Nor make immutable and fix in awe
    A fair immortal form no worm shall gnaw,
    A tempered mind whose faith was never told!
    The godlike mien, the lion's lock and eye,
    The well-knit sinew, utter a brave heart
    Better than many words that part by part
    Spell in strange symbols what serene and whole
    In nature lives, nor can in marble die.
    The perfect body is itself the soul.



    ODI ET AMO



    _I love and hate. Alas, the why_
    _I know not: but I love, and die._

    CATULLUS.



    I


    A wreathed altar was this pagan heart,
    In sad denial dressed and high intent,
    And amid ruins fed its flame apart,
    Heedless of shadows as they came and went.
    Till the poor soul, enticed by what she saw,
    Forsook her grief's eternal element,
    Filled with her tears a well from which to draw,
    And flooded heaven with a light she lent.
    A thousand times that mirrored glory fled,
    By ravished eyes a thousand times pursued;
    Yet loving hope outlived all beauties dead,
    And hunger turned the very stones to food.
    Insensate love, wilt thou then never tire,
    Breeding the fuel of thy proper fire?



    II


    What gleaming cross rebukes this infidel?
    What lion groans, awakened in his lair?
    Angel or demon, what unearthly spell
    Returns, divinely false like all things fair,
    To mock this desolation? Fleeting vision,
    Frail as a smoke-wreath in the sunlit air,
    Indomitable hope or vain derision,
    Madness or revelation, sin or prayer,
    What art thou? Is man's sum of wisdom this,
    That he believe denying, and blaspheme
    Worshipping still, and drink eternal bliss
    Out of the maddening chalice of a dream?
    Strange sweetness that embitterest content,
    Art thou a poison or a sacrament?



    CATHEDRALS BY THE SEA


    REPLY TO A SONNET BEGINNING "CATHEDRALS
    ARE NOT BUILT ALONG THE SEA"


    For æons had the self-responsive tide
    Risen to ebb, and tempests blown to clear,
    And the belated moon refilled her sphere
    To wane anew--for, æons since, she died--
    When to the deeps that called her earth replied
    (Lest year should cancel unavailing year)
    And took from her dead heart the stones to rear
    A cross-shaped temple to the Crucified.
    Then the wild winds through organ-pipes descended
    To utter what they meant eternally,
    And not in vain the moon devoutly mended
    Her wasted taper, lighting Calvary,
    While with a psalmody of angels blended
    The sullen diapason of the sea.



    MONT BRÉVENT


    O dweller in the valley, lift thine eyes
    To where, above the drift of cloud, the stone
    Endures in silence, and to God alone
    Upturns its furrowed visage, and is wise.
    There yet is being, far from all that dies,
    And beauty where no mortal maketh moan,
    Where larger planets swim the liquid zone,
    And wider spaces stretch to calmer skies.
    Only a little way above the plain
    Is snow eternal. Round the mountain's knees
    Hovers the fury of the wind and rain.
    Look up, and teach thy noble heart to cease
    From endless labour. There is perfect peace
    Only a little way above thy pain.



    THE RUSTIC AT THE PLAY


    Our youth is like a rustic at the play
    That cries aloud in simple-hearted fear,
    Curses the villain, shudders at the fray,
    And weeps before the maiden's wreathed bier.
    Yet once familiar with the changeful show,
    He starts no longer at a brandished knife,
    But, his heart chastened at the sight of woe,
    Ponders the mirrored sorrows of his life.
    So tutored too, I watch the moving art
    Of all this magic and impassioned pain
    That tells the story of the human heart
    In a false instance, such as poets feign;
    I smile, and keep within the parchment furled
    That prompts the passions of this strutting world.



    RESURRECTION


    THE SOUL OF A BURIED BODY

          Methought that I was dead,
    Felt my large heart, a tomb within the tomb,
          Cold, hope-untenanted,
          Not thankless for this gloom.
    For all I loved on earth had fled before me.
          I was the last to die.
    I heard what my soul hated tramping o'er me,
    And knew that trouble stalked beneath the sky.
    But now is loosed the mailed hand of Death
    Clapped on my mouth. I seem to draw a breath
          And something like a sigh.
          I feel the blood again
    Coursing within my body's quickened house,
          Feel hands and throat and brain,
          And dim thoughts growing plain,
    Or dreams of thoughts. So spring might thaw the boughs
    And from its winter's lethargy arouse
    An oak's numb spirit.--But hark! I seem to hear
          A sound, like distant thunder.
    Above the quaking earth it breaks, or under,
          And cracks the riven sphere.
    This vault is widened, I may lift my head,
    Behold a ray! The sun!--I was not dead.

    THE ANGEL OF ETERNITY

          Yes, dead. Be not affrighted.
    Ages have passed. This world is not the same.
          Thy lamp of life, relighted,
          Burns with a purer flame.

    THE SOUL

          What lovely form art thou?
          What spirit, voice, or face
    Known and unknown? I cannot name thee now
          Nor the long-vanished place
    Where first I pledged thee some forgotten vow.
          Dear mother or sweet son
    Or young love dead or lost familiar friend,
    Which of these all art thou, or all, or none,
          Bright stranger, that dost bend
          Thy glorious golden head,
    A kindlier sun, above the wakened dead?

    THE ANGEL

    We are not strangers. 'T is the world was strange,
    That rude antique parade of earth and sky,
    That foolish pageant of mortality
          And weary round of change.
    Till this glad moment thou hast lived in dreams,
    Nursed in a fable, catechised to croon
    The empty science of a sun and moon
          That with their dubious beams
    Light the huge dusky stage of all that seems.
    Believe it not, my own. Awake, depart
          Out of the shades of hell,
          Trusting the sacred spell
    That falls upon thy strong perplexed heart,
          The joy ineffable,
    The nameless premonition and dire pang
          Of love. Be free at last,
    Free as the hopes that from thy sorrow sprang
    Forget the horror of the tyrant past,
          Forget the gods, forget
    The baleful shadow on the present cast
          By all that is not yet.
    Arise and follow me. Say not I seem
          A shadow among shades,
    A dryad's laugh amid the windy glades,
    A swimmer's body guessed beneath the stream
          This is the dawn of day,
    Thy dream-oppressed vision breaking through
          Its icy hood of clay
    And plunging deep into the balmy blue.
          Bid thy vain cares adieu
    And say farewell to earth, thy foster-mother.
          She hath befooled thee long,
          And fondly thought to smother
    The sweet and cruel laughter of my song
    Which the stars sing together, and the throng
    Of seraphs ever shout to one another.
          Come, heaven-chosen brother,
          Dear kinsman, come along.

    THE SOUL

    To what fields beside what rivers
    Dost thou beckon me, fair love?
    With no sprinkled stars above
    Is high heaven seen? Or quivers,
    With no changes of the moon,
    Her bright path athwart the pool?
    Is thy strange world beautiful?
    Tell me true, before I shake
    From my sense this heavy swoon.
    Tell me true, lest I awake
    Into deeper dreams, poor fool,
    And rejoice for nothing's sake.

    THE ANGEL

          For mortals life and truth
    Are things apart, nor when the first is done
    Know they the other; for their lusty youth
    Is madness, and their age oblivion.
          But henceforth thou art one
          With the supernal mind,
    Not born in labour nor in death resigned,
          The life of all that live,
    The light by whose eclipse the world is blind,
          The truth of all that know,
          The joy for which we grieve,
    And the untasted sweet that makes our woe.
          Now thou hast drained the wine
            Shatter the glass.
          The music was divine,
            Let the voice pass.
          Linger not in the host
            Of the long lost
          Bidding the dying bring
          Meal-cakes and fruit, and sing
            To cheer thy ghost.
          But be the living joy
            That tunes all song,
          The loves of girl and boy,
            The hopes that throng
    The unconquerable heart, defying wrong.
    Seek for thine immortality of bliss
          Not other brighter skies
          Or later worlds than this,
    But all that in this struggle is the prize,
            The love that wings the kiss,
            The truth the visions miss.

    THE SOUL

    My heaven lives, bright angel, in thine eyes.
    As when, beside the Lake of Galilee,
          John, o'er his meshes bent,
    Looked up, and saw another firmament
          When God said, Follow me;
    So is my world transfigured, seeing thee,
    And, looking in thine eyes, I am content,
    And with thy sweet voice for all argument
    I leave my tangled nets beside the sea.
          Done is my feigned task,
            Fallen the mask
    That made me other, O my soul, than thee.
            I have fulfilled my pain
            And borne my cross,
            And my great gain
            Is to have known my loss.
            Keep, blessed vision, keep
    The sacred beauty that entranced my soul.
            I have read; seal the scroll.
            I have lived; let me sleep.

    THE ANGEL

          Behold, I close thine eyes
    With the first touch of my benignant hands.
          With consecrated brands
    I light thy pyre and loose thy spirit's bands.
    The eternal gods receive thy sacrifice,
          The changeless bless thy embers.
    May there arise from thence no wailing ghost
          That shivers and remembers
    The haunts he loved, where he hath suffered most.
          The life that lived by change
          Is dead, nor changeth more.
    No eager, dull, oblivious senses pore
          On portents dark and strange.
          Thy first life was not life,
          Nor was thy first death death.
    Thy children took thy heritage of strife,
          And thy transmutable breath
    Passed to another heart that travaileth.
          Now thou hast truly died;
          Escaped, renounced, defied
    The insensate fervour and the fret of being;
          And thy own master, freed
          From shame of murderous need,
             Pure, just, all-seeing,
          Now thou shalt live indeed.

    THE SOUL

          I pay the price of birth.
          My earth returns to earth.
    Hurry my ashes, thou avenging wind,
    Into the vortex of the whirling spheres!
          I die, for I have sinned,
    Yea, I have loved, and drained my heart of tears.
          And thou within whose womb,
    Mother of nations, labouring Universe,
          My life grew, be its tomb.
    Thou brought'st me forth, take now my vital seed.
    Receive thy wage, thou iron-hearted nurse,
    Thy blessing I requite thee and thy curse.
          Now shall my ashes breed
    Within thy flesh for every thought a thought,
          For every deed a deed,
          For every pang I bore
          An everlasting need,
    For every wrong a wrong, and endless war.
          All earthly hopes resigned
          And all thy battle's spoils
    I lay upon thine altar and restore;
          But the inviolate mind
          Is loosened from thy toils
    By thy own fatal fires. I mount, I soar,
          Glad Phoenix, from the flame
    Into the placid heaven whence I came,
    Floating upon the smoke's slow lurid wings
          Into my native sky
    To bear report of all this vanity
          And sad offence of things,
          Where with knowledge I may lie,
    Veiled in the shadow of eternal wings.

    THE ANGEL

    If in the secret sessions of our love
          Above the heavenly spheres,
    Some stain upon the page of wisdom prove
          Her earthly price of tears,
    Cling closer, my beloved, that the beat
          Of my unruffled heart
    May tune thy own, its tenderer counterpart,
    To noble courage, and from this high seat
          Of our divine repose
    Large consolation flow to mortal woes.
          For 'neath the sun's fierce heat,
    In midst of madness and inscrutable throes,
          His heart is strong who knows
    That o'er the mountains come the silent feet
          Of Patience, leading Peace,
          And his complainings cease
    To see the starlight shining on the snows.



    TRANSLATIONS



    FROM MICHAEL ANGELO



    I


    "_Non so se s'è la desiata luce_"


    I know not if from uncreated spheres
    Some longed-for ray it be that warms my breast,
    Or lesser light, in memory expressed,
    Of some once lovely face, that reappears,
    Or passing rumour ringing in my ears,
    Or dreamy vision, once my bosom's guest,
    That left behind I know not what unrest,
    Haply the reason of these wayward tears.
    But what I feel and seek, what leads me on,
    Comes not of me; nor can I tell aright
    Where shines the hidden star that sheds this light.
    Since I beheld thee, sweet and bitter fight
    Within me. Resolution have I none.
    Can this be, Master, what thine eyes have done?


    II


    "_Il mio refugio_"


    The haven and last refuge of my pain
    (A strong and safe defence)
    Are tears and supplications, but in vain.
    Love sets upon me banded with Disdain,
    One armed with pity and one armed with death,
    And as death smites me, pity lends me breath.
    Else had my soul long since departed thence.
    She pineth to remove
    Whither her hopes of endless peace abide
    And beauty dwelleth without beauty's pride,
    There her last bliss to prove.
    But still the living fountain of my tears
    Wells in the heart when all thy truth appears,
    Lest death should vanquish love.


    III


    "_Gli occhi miei vaghi delle cose belle_"


    Ravished by all that to the eyes is fair,
    Yet hungry for the joys that truly bless,
    My soul can find no stair
    To mount to heaven, save earth's loveliness.
    For from the stars above
    Descends a glorious light
    That lifts our longing to their highest height
    And bears the name of love.
    Nor is there aught can move
    A gentle heart, or purge or make it wise,
    But beauty and the starlight of her eyes.



    FROM ALFRED DE MUSSET



    SOUVENIR


    I weep, but with no bitterness I weep,
    To look again upon thee, hallowed spot,
    O dearest grave, and most of men forgot,
            Where buried love doth sleep.

    What witchcraft think you that this desert hath,
    Dear friends, who take my hand and bid me stay,
    Now that the gentle wont of many a day
            Would lead me down this path?

    Here are the wooded slopes, the flowering heath,
    The silver footprints on the silent sand,
    The loitering lanes, alive with lovers' breath,
            Where first I kissed her hand.

    I know these fir-trees, and this mossy stone,
    And this deep gorge, and all its winding ways;
    These friendly giants, whose primeval moan
            Hath rocked my happy days.

    My footsteps' echo in this tangled tree
    Gives back youth's music, like a singing bird;
    Dear haunts, fair wilderness her presence stirred,
            Did you not watch for me?

    I will not dry these tear-drops: let them flow,
    And soothe a bitterness that yet might last,
    And o'er my waking-weary eyelids throw
            The shadow of the past.

    My useless plainings shall not make to cease
    The happy echoes of the vows we vowed:
    Proud is this forest in its noble peace,
            And my heart too is proud.

    Give o'er to hopeless grief the bitter hours
    You kneel to pray upon a brother's tomb:
    Here blows the breath of love, and graveyard flowers
          Not in this garden bloom.

    See! The moon rides athwart a bank of cloud.
    Thy veils, fair Queen of Night, still cling to thee,
    But soon thou loosenest thy virgin shroud
          And smilest to be free.

    As the rich earth, still dank with April rain,
    Beneath thy rays exhales day's captive balm,
    So from my purged soul, as pure, as calm,
          The old love breathes again.

    Where are they gone, those ghosts of sorrow pale,
    Where fled the passion that my heart defiled?
    Once in the bosom of this friendly vale
          I am again a child.

    O  might of time, O changes of the year,
    Ye undo sorrow and the tears we shed,
    But, touched with pity, on our blossoms sere
          Your light feet never tread.

    Heavenly solace, be for ever blest!
    I had not thought a sword could pierce so far
    Into the heart, and leave upon the breast
          So sweet and dear a scar.

    Far from me the sharp word, the thankless mind,
    Of vulgar sorrow customary weed,
    Shroud that about the corse of love they wind
          Who never loved indeed.

    Why, Dante, dost thou say the saddest curse
    Is joy remembered in unhappy days?
    What grief compelled thee to this bitter verse
          In sorrow's harsh dispraise?

    O'er all the worlds is light bereft of gladness
    When sad eclipses cast their blight on us?
    Did thy great soul, in its immortal sadness,
          Speak to thee, Dante, thus?

    No, by this sacred light upon me cast!
    Not in thy heart this blasphemy had birth.
    It is the truest happiness on earth
          To have a happy past.

    What! When the soul forlorn finds yet a spark
    Mid the hot ashes of her stifled sighs,
    And doth that flame, her only treasure, mark
          With captivated eyes,

    Bathing her wounds in the delicious past
    That mirrors brokenly her loves again,
    Thy cruel word her feeble joy would blast
          And turn to bitter pain?

    And couldst thou wrong thine own Francesca so,
    Wrong thy bright angel with a word like this,
    Her whose lips, parting to rehearse her woe,
          Broke an eternal kiss?

    What, righteous Heaven, is our human thought,
    And to the love of truth who yet will cling,
    If every pain or joy e'er shunned or sought
          Turns to a doubtful thing?

    How can you live, strange souls that nothing awes?
    In midst of haste and passion, song and mirth,
    Nor all the stars of heaven give you pause,
          Nor all the sins of earth;

    But when upon your fated way you meet
    Some dumb memorial of a passion dead,
    That little pebble stops you, and you dread
          To bruise your tender feet.

    You cry aloud that life is but a dream,
    And, to the truth awaking, wring your hands,
    And grieve your bubble but a moment stands
          Upon time's foaming stream.

    Poor fools! That moment when your soul could shake
    The numbing fetters off that it enthrall,
    That fleeting moment was your all in all--
          Oh, mourn not for its sake!

    But rather mourn your weight of earthly dross,
    Your joyless toil, your stains of blood and mire,
    Your sunless days, your nights without desire;
          In these was utter loss.

    What profit have you of your late lament,
    And what from heaven do your murmurs crave,
    The plaints you sow upon the barren grave
          Of every pleasure spent?

    Life is a dream, and all things pass, I know:
    If some fair splendour we be charmed withal,
    We pluck the flower, and at the breath we blow
          Its withered petals fall.

    Ay, the first kiss and the first virgin vow
    That ever mortals upon earth did swear,
    That whirlwind caught which strips the frozen bough
          And stones to sand doth wear.

    A witness to the lovers' troth was night,
    With changeful skies, o'ercast with mystery,
    And stars unnumbered, that an inward light
    Devours unceasingly.

    They saw death hush the song bird in the glade,
    Blast the pale flower, and freeze the torpid worm,
    And choke the fountain where the image played
           Of their forgotten form.

    Yet they joined hands above the mouldering clod,
    Blind with love's light that flashed across the sky,
    Nor felt the cold eye of the changeless God
          Who watches all things die.

    Fools! says the sage: thrice blest! the poet says.
    What wretched joy is to the faint heart dear
    Whom noise of torrents fills with weak amaze
          And the wind fills with fear?

    I have seen beneath the sun more beauties fail
    Than white sea foam or leaves of forest sere;
    More than the swallows and the roses frail
          Desert the widowed year.

    Mine eyes have gazed on sights of deeper woe
    Than Juliet dead within the gorged tomb,
    And deadlier than the cup that Romeo
          Drank to his love and doom.

    I have seen my love, when all I loved had perished,
    Who to a whited sepulchre is turned;
    Seen the thin dust of all I ever cherished
          In her cold heart inurned,--

    Dust of that faith which, in our bosoms furled,
    The gentle night had warded well from doubt.
    More than a single life, alas! a world
          Was that day blotted out.

    Still young I found her, and, men said, more fair;
    In heaven's light her eyes could still rejoice,
    And her lips opened, and a smile was there,
          And sound as of a voice.

    But not that gentle voice, that tender grace,
    Those eyes I worshipped when they looked their prayer:
    My heart, still full of her, searched, searched her face
          And could not find her there.

    And still I could have gone to her, and cast
    My arms about that chill and lifeless stone,
    And cried, Where hast thou left it, faithless one,
          Where hast thou left the past?

    But no: it rather seemed as if by chance
    Some unknown woman had that voice and eye_;_
    I looked up into heaven; with cold glance
          I passed that statue by.

    Not without pangs of shame and bitterness
    I watched her smiling shadow glide away;
    But what of that? Immortal nature, say,
          Have I loved therefore less?

    On me the gods may now their lightnings fling,
    They cannot undo truth, nor kill the past.
    Like a wrecked sailor to a broken mast
          To my dead love I cling.

    I make no question of what flowers may bloom,
    What virtue from the seasons man may borrow,
    What heavenly lamp may flood with light to-morrow
          The vault of this great tomb.

    I only say: Here at this hour, one day,
    I loved, and I was loved, and she was fair.
    This treasure which no death can filch away
          My soul to God shall bear.



    FROM THEOPHILE GAUTIER


    ART


    All things are doubly fair
    If patience fashion them
            And care--
    Verse, enamel, marble, gem.

    No idle chains endure:
    Yet, Muse, to walk aright,
            Lace tight
    Thy buskin proud and sure.

    Fie on a facile measure,
    A shoe where every lout
            At pleasure
    Slips his foot in and out!

    Sculptor, lay by the clay
    On which thy nerveless finger
            May linger,
    Thy thoughts flown far away.

    Keep to Carrara rare,
    Struggle with Paros cold,
            That hold
    The subtle line and fair.

    Lest haply nature lose
    That proud, that perfect line,
            Make thine
    The bronze of Syracuse.

    And with a tender dread
    Upon an agate's face
            Retrace
    Apollo's golden head.

    Despise a watery hue
    And tints that soon expire.
            With fire
    Burn thine enamel true.

    Twine, twine in artful wise
    The blue-green mermaid's arms,
            Mid charms
    Of thousand heraldries.

    Show in their triple lobe
    Virgin and Child, that hold
            Their globe,
    Cross-crowned and aureoled.

    All things return to dust
    Save beauties fashioned well.
            The bust
    Outlasts the citadel.

    Oft doth the ploughman's heel,
    Breaking an ancient clod,
            Reveal
    A Cæsar or a god.

    The gods, too, die, alas!
    But deathless and more strong
            Than brass
    Remains the sovereign song.

    Chisel and carve and file,
    Till thy vague dream imprint
            Its smile
    On the unyielding flint.



    CONVIVIAL AND OCCASIONAL VERSES



    _PROSIT NEUJAHR_

    Be the new year sweet and short
      As the days of girl and boy are,
    Full of friendship, full of sport--
            _Prosit Neujahr!_

    Be it beautiful and great
      As the days of grief and joy are,
    Full of wonder and of fate--
            _Prosit Neujahr!_



    FAIR HARVARD


    Fair Harvard, the winter of Puritan snows
      That enshrouded thy tremulous birth
    Melts slowly to spring, now the south wind blows
      O'er the face of this generous earth.

    Thy elms are outspreading their flexible arms
      Over meadows more fruitful and broad,
    And soft ivy is veiling with negligent charms
      The gaunt walls of the castle of God.

    With freedom for heritage, reason for star,
      And friendship for sojourner here,
    Shall music long tremblingly sound from afar
      Or genius be smothered in fear?

    Where the ages may meet and the spirit may climb
      To a truth that is builded on doubt,
    The eternal may dwell mid the currents of time
      And peace above barbarous rout,

    And the just voice unlearn to be strident and sharp,
      And, attuned to life's happier choir,
    Join the stress of all David might shout to his harp
      With all Lysis might lisp to his lyre,

    And Olympia again call the strong and the fleet
      To glory and art and control,
    And a deathless Academy build a retreat
      To ponder the things of the soul.

    If to glory, young Mother, thy destiny tend,
      If thy labours have honour in store,
    Our loves shall not die, though their chronicle end
      Nor mortals remember us more.

    For once from their dreaming the man and the boy,
      Fair Harvard, awoke at thy name,
    And our happiest years were a part of thy joy,
      And our light was a spark of thy flame.



    COLLEGE DRINKING SONG


    As we say good-bye at the parting ways,
    Let us sing together a song of praise,
    Let us drink a toast to our college days,
    To the walks through a world made for you and me,
    To the boisterous farce and the echoing glee,
    To the wonderful A and the dreadful E,
            Drink, boys, drink!

    To the games we won and the games we lost,
    For we could n't tell which before we tossed,
    And who cares now who paid the cost?
    To the woman's love that came and went,
    To the good wine drunk and the money spent,
    To the night-long foolish argument,
            Drink, boys, drink!

    To the times when men were men indeed,
    To our fathers' youth and our mothers' creed,
    And to every faith that may succeed,
    To the after age and the later tongue
    That will ring the changes we have rung
    And sing the songs we have left unsung,
            Drink, boys, drink!

    When the eye is dull and the hand is cold,
    Then should the pocket be full of gold,
    For no one will love us when we 're old.
    So to vulgar gold and what it gets
    And an honest end to all our debts,
    For an old wine softens old regrets,
            Drink, boys, drink!

    When we are asleep beneath grey stone,
    Our children's lives shall repeat our own,
    For the light remains though the days be flown.
    To the opening buds of this ended May,
    And to all sweet things that will not stay,
    And to every dog that has had his day,
            Drink, boys, drink!



    SIX WISE FOOLS


    Twelve had struck. Our talk subsided.
        We were comrades in the schools
    By the world awhile divided--
        Six sententious merry fools.
    And I said, "We 've talked of college,
        Resurrecting callow youth.
    But you since have lived; what knowledge
        Have you gathered of the Truth?
    And you first, most learned scholar,
        Whom I 'm proud to sit beside,
    Speak: does wisdom sans a dollar
        Leave you wholly satisfied?
    You have walked, and never wavered,
        In the paths the sages took
    And three publishers have favoured
        With a yet unpublished book.
    The soul's garden you have weeded
        Which we mortals trample through,
    You love much we leave unheeded.
        Speak, and let us learn of you."
    And the student thus proceeded,
        As a gentle sigh he drew:



    THE SCHOLAR

    I'm thankful that as matters go
      I neither toil nor spin,
    But read the good old wits, heigh ho!
      And live with elder kin;

    That I need neither reap nor sow
      Nor gather into barns,
    But dwell among my books, heigh ho!
      Repeating ancient yarns.

    Dead things are not my science, no,
      Nor fossil parts of speech,
    But the great human heart, heigh ho!
      That pedants never reach.

    The record of man's joy and woe
      Upon his sculptured face
    I read by my heart's light, heigh ho!
      And vanquish time and space.

    I find no vice so foul and low
      But nature lurks therein,
    Nor any thought so high, heigh ho!
      But pays the price of sin.

    I feel the pity and the glow
      Of truth's sublime communion,
    And learn to smile at fate, heigh ho!
      In friendship's happy union.

    Let this but last till death's wind blow
      And till my bones are rotten,
    Then let the world sail on, heigh ho!
      And be ray name forgotten.

    "Now you, votary of pleasure,"
    Turning to the next, I said,
    "Count the profit of your leisure
    And the cost of unearned bread.
    Tell us what civilisation
    Merits your impartial praise,
    In what climate, in what nation
    You have spent most joyous days."
    Quoth he, as if in admiration
    That such questions I should raise:



    THE SPORT

    All things are nice when they are new,
    When they are old, all things are horrid.
    After the storm I like the blue,
    After the arctic zone the torrid.
    My loves are many, brief, and true,
    By mutual jealousy unworried.

    I like to leave my house and home
    And cross the mountains and the sea;
    With one small bag on earth to roam,
    That is the height of bliss for me.
    To roam on earth without my bag,
    That is the depth of misery.

    That freedom cheats us with a word
    Which sets up knaves and murders kings.
    What soul is free that never stirred?
    Go cut your mother's apron-strings,
    And putting money in your purse,
    Fly off on the express-train's wings.

    I'll stay at home when I am lame,
    And build a church when stuffed with gold,
    I will be grave when known to fame,
    I will be chaste when I am old.
    Then all the angels will rejoice
    That I, lost lamb, regain the fold.

    "Without some evil, nothing good,"
    Your subtle theologians say.
    I glorify their rectitude
    By straying in my artless way.
    My needful sins make possible
    The higher morals of the day.

    This is our only chance to taste
    The sweet and bitter fruits of earth.
    To pluck them all, we've need of haste;
    We cannot ask what each is worth.
    Up, up, wise virgin; do not waste
    The little time 'twixt death and birth.

    Come feel the joy of changing skies,
    Of rushing streams and windy weather.
    Though we be bound by fortune's ties,
    We' 11 to the utmost stretch the tether,
    And be they gay or be they sad,
    We'll go and see the sights together.



    THE CRITIC

    "Shall men agree?" the next man said,
    "Each mind is shut within some head
    (_Pace_ the minds of all the dead)
    With two eyes, seldom of a size,
    And spectacles before the eyes.
    Then, if men differ, what surprise?

    "See the wight who wrapped in sadness
      Grieves how soon this life is done,
    And, disgusted with the madness
      Of the way the world is run,
    Scorns the hollowness of gladness
      And the idiocy of fun:
      Why, the spots upon the sun
    Can be seen, when the ray passes
            Blue eye-glasses.

    "And what makes the moonlight shimmer
      With the dancing of the sea
    And the little stars cold glimmer
      Twinkle with an inward glee
    While this working-world grows dimmer
      If my Mary looks with me?
      Not the moon or stars or sea,
    But the fickle cause, alas, is
            Love's eye-glasses.

    "Oh, how sad a world to cough in
      Is a world once warm and fair,
    And how many fallings off in
      Old men's world of falling hair,
    Till they think within the coffin
      That there's no world anywhere.
      For I fancy dead men wear
    (Take your look now, lads and lasses!)
            No eye-glasses."

    He stopped, and with a civil look
    Said to his neighbour, "You come next,"
    Who had been looking at a book
    And seemed a trifle bored and vexed.
    He laid the book down, stretched his legs
    And yawned, and, emptying his glass,
    Made a grimace as if the dregs
    Were bitter, and replied, "I pass."
    When pressed, he shook his languid head
    Until at last he hemmed and said:



    THE PESSIMIST

    I set my heart on being good,
    Believed the Bible to the letter,
    Yes, joined a Christian brotherhood
    When I was young and knew no better;
    And, if I sometimes sinned, I wept
    That God's commandments were not kept.
    As time went on, I understood
    That it was wrong to be so good.

    My heart I set on being wise
    And passing for a clever fellow:
    Reading o' nights I spoilt my eyes,
    And lack of fresh air turned me yellow.
    Each book I read said t' other lied,
    I saw the less the more I pried,
    And so I found, to my surprise,
    I was a fool to be so wise.

    I set my heart on making friends
    Pleasant and clever, kind and witty;
    They now are at the earth's four ends,
    Two only have n't left the city.
    The one is given up to trade,
    The other in the churchyard laid.
    And when youth's gone and leisure ends,
    It is too late for making friends.

    I set my heart upon a girl
    Who chose at my approach to smile.
    Did she but pat some frizzled curl,
    I knew the angel free from guile.
    But now a rich man owns my belle,
    I find the others smile as well,
    And my moustache no more I twirl,
    Nor set my heart upon a girl.

    I set my heart on seeing things,
    And wished through every land to travel,
    See Troja's ruins, Nikis' springs,
    And culture's history unravel.
    When many a sea had made me sick,
    Men still were bipeds, houses brick.
    Since nearer Truth no journey brings
    I make an end of seeing things.

    I set my heart on politics;
    I glowed for honesty and freedom.
    My earnest thoughts I tried to fix
    Upon the poor, and how to feed 'em.
    But the reformer cheats himself,
    He serves his prejudice or pelf,
    And no man's will but inward fate
    Governs the fortunes of the state.

    I set my heart on nothing now,
    But bless the gifts of every hour,
    Holding my hand beneath life's bough
    To catch the fruit or falling flower.
    With the world breathing at my feet,
    I find the sunset stillness sweet,
    And with the night wind on my brow
    I set my heart on nothing now.

    He scarce had done, when the last man,
    Who'd listened hard to every word,
    Thus, rising in his place, began
    As if impatient to be heard:



    THE LOVER

    Oh, you men who are not married
    Have n't known the joy of living,
    On the margin you have tarried,
    Never putting out to sea;
    All your musing, all your grieving,
    Is a childish thing to me.

    I have done with idle moping
    And have seen my manly duty.
    There is no more doubt and groping,
    Since I took a woman's hand,
    And the loadstar of her beauty
    Led me to the promised land.

    For her sake my work is pleasure
    And I thrive in my devotion,
    Though I seek repute and treasure
    But to have the gifts to give,
    For my love, like River Ocean,
    Rounds the world in which I live.

    When I feel, in softest slumber,
    Her fair head upon my pillow,
    I think how the misty Humber
    And the Ganges' holy stream
    Send their treasures o'er the billow
    To embalm my lady's dream.

    Rightly did my father rear me
    Close beside the village steeple,
    Rightly shall my sons revere me
    When they come to take my place,
    For I serve my land and people
    And maintain my sturdy race.

    Fill your glasses up with liquor,
    Drink it down while yet it bubbles.
    When the heart beats quick and quicker
    Love is knocking. Drink with me:
    Here is death to all your troubles,
    And long life, fair love, to thee!

    "Yes, fill your glasses up, I pray you,"
    Said I, "and make it bumpers now,
    For whatsoever passion sway you
    Some noble love we all avow.

    "We bear a mark, an inward token,
    That parts us from the common herd.
    To each of us some muse has spoken
    A holy, unforgotten word.

    "Our stars, conjoined in youth's first season,
    Whether to musing moved or strife.
    Obedient to one touch of reason
    Together make the round of life.

    "Drink to the loves we knitted here,
    A bond by distance not undone.
    High thoughts outlive the wasted year;
    I drink to that which makes us one."



    ATHLETIC ODE


        I hear a rumour and a shout,
    A louder heart-throb pulses in the air.
    Fling, Muse, thy lattice open, and beware
          To keep the morning out.
    Beckon into the chamber of thy care
          The bird of healing wing
            That trilleth there
    Blithe happy passion of the strong and fair.
    Their wild heart singeth. Do thou also sing.
            How vain, how vain
    The feeble croaking of a reasoning tongue
            That heals no pain
    And prompts no bright deed worthy to be sung
            Too soon cold earth
    Refuses flowers. Oh, greet their lovely birth!
            Too soon dull death
    Quiets the heaving of our doubtful breath.
            Deem not its worth
          Too high for honouring mirth;
          Sing while the lyre is strung,
    And let the heart beat, while the heart is young.

    When the dank earth begins to thaw and yield
    The early clover, didst thou never pass
    Some balmy noon from field to sunny field
    And press thy feet against the tufted grass?
            So hadst thou seen
    A spring palæstra on the tender green.
    Here a tall stripling, with a woman's face,
    Draws the spiked sandal on his upturned heel,
          Sure-footed for the race;
    Another hurls the quoit of heavy steel
          And glories to be strong;
    While yet another, lightest of the throng,
    Crouching on tiptoe for the sudden bound,
    Flies o'er the level race-course, like the hound,
          And soon is lost afar;
          Another jumps the bar,
    For some god taught him easily to spring,
    The legs drawn under, as a bird takes wing,
    Till, tempting fortune farther than is meet,
    At last he fails, and fails, and vainly tries,
    And blushing, and ashamed to lift his eyes,
          Shakes the light earth from his feet.
          Him friendly plaudits greet
    And pleasing to the unaccustomed ear.
    Come then afield, come with the sporting year
          And watch the youth at play,
    For gentle is the strengthening sun, and sweet
    The soul of boyhood and the breath of May.

          And with the milder ray
    Of the declining sun, when sky and shore,
    In purple drest and misty silver-grey.
            Hang curtains round the day,
    Come list the beating of the plashing oar,
    For grief in rhythmic labour glides away.
    The glancing blades make circles where they dip,
            Now flash and drip
    Cool wind-blown drops into the glassy river,
            Now sink and cleave,
            While the lithe rowers heave
    And feel the boat beneath them leap and quiver.
            The supple oars in time,
    Shattering the mirror of the rippled water,
            Fly, fly as poets climb,
    Borne by the pliant promise of their rhyme,
    Or as bewitched by Nereus' loveliest daughter
    The painted dolphins, following along,
    Leap to the measure of her liquid song.

          But the blasts of late October,
          Tempering summer's paling grief
          With a russet glow and sober,
    Bring of these sports the latest and the chief.
    Then bursts the flame from many a smouldering ember,
          And many an ardent boy
    Woos harsher pleasures sweeter to remember,
    Hugged with a sterner and a tenser joy.
          Look where the rivals come:
    Each little phalanx on its chosen ground
    Strains for the sudden shock, and all around
          The multitude is dumb.
          Come, watch the stubborn fight
          And doubtful, in the sight
    Of wide-eyed beauty and unstinted love
          Ay, the wise gods above,
    Attentive to this hot and generous fray,
    Smile on its fortunes and its end prepare,
    For play is also life, and far from care
          Their own glad life is play.

    Ye nymphs and fauns, to Bacchus dear,
    That woke Cithæron with your midnight rout,
          Arise, arise and shout!
    Your day returns, your haunt is here.
    Shake off dull sleep and long despair;
    There is intoxication in this air,
    And frenzy in this yelping cheer.
    How oft of old the enraptured Muses sung
          Olympian victors' praise.
          Lo! even in these days
            The world is young.
          Life like a torrent flung
            For ever down
    For ever wears a rainbow for a crown.
    O idle sigh for loveliness outworn,
    When the red flush of each unfailing morn
          Floods every field and grove,
    And no moon wanes but some one is in love.
            O wasted tear,
    A new soul wakes with each awakened year.
    Beneath these rags, these blood-clots on the face,
    The valiant soul is still the same, the same
    The strength, the art, the inevitable grace,
          The thirst unquenched for fame
    Quenching base passion, the high will severe,
    The long obedience, and the knightly flame
    Of loyalty to honour and a name.

    Give o'er, ye chords, your music ere ye tire,
          Be sweetly mute, O lyre.
    Words soon are cold, and life is warm for ever.
    One half of honour is the strong endeavour,
    Success the other, but when both conspire
    Youth has her perfect crown, and age her old desire.



    THE BOTTLES AND THE WINE


    LINES READ AT THE REUNION OF A COLLEGE CLUB


    Would you have an illustration
        Of the thing we fellows are?
    Liken every generation
        To the bottles in the bar:
    Vessels full of precious liquor
        Standing in their brave array,--Never
    bosom friends were thicker
        Or of franker heart than they,
    There congenially hobnobbing,
        Always ready for a bout,
    As half laughing and half sobbing
        The fine spirits bubble out.

    We buy, break, drink, waste, decant them--
        Bottles come and bottles go--
    Yet there always, when you want them,
        Stand the bottles in a row:
    Port and sherry, rum and brandy,
        Irish, Bourbon, Scotch, and rye,
    Always smiling, always handy
        When the heart's a trifle dry.

    Though the bottles change their label
        And tag on another name,
    They're as welcome at the table,
        For the liquor's still the same.
    Days gone by saw jugs in plenty,
        Now less frequently on view.
    Every year some ten or twenty
        Pass to fields and pastures new.
    There, replenished, they grow fatter
        And their bellies bulge amain,

    But though full as yet of matter,
        You may mark a certain drain,
    For the busy world's contention
        Brings the liquid down a bit,
    And a small god I won't mention
        Sometimes takes a pull at it.
    Yet apart from some mischances,
        Though not standing where they stood,
    For big dinners and small dances
        Our old bottles still are good.
    But when once the dregs are emptied,
        We throw bottles in a heap,
    Not one favourite exempted,
        Were its spirit fine or cheap.
    They 're doled out in the back alley
        By the scrawny hands of hags
    When gaunt Death comes shilly-shally
        Crying, "Bottles and old rags!"
    What of that? While face and feature,
        Manners, minds, and pleasures pass,
    Mature breeds a younger creature.

        Mate to what the other was,
    And the sports we had forsaken,
        And the fancies blown away
    In the brighter souls they waken
        Live for ever and a day.
    The proud glories that entice us
        No more fail because we pass
    Than the founts of Dionysus
        For the quaffing of a glass.

    But what happens to the liquor?
        The old bottles' fate to share,
    Only that its flight is quicker
        Up the vortices of air?
    Is it lost as soon as tasted,
        Rising upon moth-like wings
    To be caught and scorched and wasted
        In this foolish flame of things?
    Ah, the blood of nature's spilling
        Trickles back into her veins,
    And her cup is ever filling
        With the vintage that she strains.
    For a moment she befriends us
        With unsealing of our eyes,
    But the light of life she lends us
        Floods her everlasting skies.
    The sweet wine that makes our passion
        Linking heart to mortal heart
    Is her ancient fire to fashion
        All the marvels of her art.
    It has painted woman's beauty,
        It is parent to the flowers,
    It has wedded joy to duty,
        Portioned loves among the hours,
    Built us palaces and churches,
        Plucked its music from the lyre,
    Lighted all the spirit's searches
        Through the mazes of desire,
    Yes, and scorning earthly places
        And our human loves and wars
    It has peopled heaven's spaces
        And has gilded heaven's stars.

    Drink, then, of this cup and drain it.
        Let the wine renew the soul,
    And all vessels that contain it,
        May they long be sound and whole
    To receive the boon and give it
        That makes mortal joys divine.
    Here's to life and all who live it,
        To the bottles and the wine.



    THE POETIC MEDIUM


    In Chelsea dwells a Sibyl known to fame
    Called Mrs. Fakir--necromantic name!
    Past, present, future, open to her view
    She (for ten dollars) will reveal to you.
    I for less sums--the discount to the trade--
    Quaff at her fount and seek her undismayed.
    I found the priestess in her wonted lair
    Up three steep flights of narrow dirty stair.
    Chill was the darkened chamber. A thick fume
    Of kerosene lent odour to the gloom.
    Clothed in black weeds, pale, with delirious hair,
    Rocked Mrs. Fakir in her rocking-chair.
    I told my errand; with some hushed complaint
    About the fee, she fell into a faint,
    Thrice rolled her eyes, thrice snorted through her nose,
    Thrice wrung her hands, and wriggled thrice her toes,
    Then spoke. (I versify: she uttered vulgar prose.)
    "You want some verse: not every poet's soul
    Whose aid you crave is still in my control.
    Whom would you summon? You must ask the boon
    Of some frail wight that floats below the moon.
    The spirits that have risen to the stars
    Reck not the echoes of our earthly jars.
    Their troubles past, they have forgotten ours,
    And move unmoved by even magic powers.
    Only weak souls entangled in the mesh
    Of passion, dying, still are bond to flesh,
    And hover o'er the battle-field of life
    To smell their kindred blood and pine for strife.
    Such I may summon, for they have no choice
    Who crave to live again and find a voice."
    "'T is well," I answered. "If the gods so please,
    We will not call on Aristophanes,
    Horace shall slumber, Juvenal be dumb.
    They rest in peace. But haply Swift will come."
    "Not Swift," she said, "not Swift. I cannot tell
    Whether he flew to heaven or to hell,
    But he is gone far from this mild, low-born,
    And canting age, incapable of scorn."
    "Well, summon Byron, then," I said and sighed.
    "Byron is also safe," the witch replied.
    "The first sin punished and the first forgiven
    Is love's, the slip of climbers into heaven.
    The petted passion and the shallow dream
    He purged at last; the heart survived supreme."
    "Byron gone too," thought I, "what wit remains
    All younger sprites have water in their veins.
    But, ah! might not the living help me out?
    Don't phantoms of the living flit about?"
    "They do, they do," quoth Chelsea's Pythoness.
    "Here in my telepathic cave's recess
    All that they say or think or wish or feel
    I read aloud, but most what they conceal.
    Whom would you plagiarise? You 're silent? Why,
    Have you forgot the ages galaxy--"
    I trembled as she named them one by one,
    From Willy Frilly down to Spider Spun.
    "Spare me," I cried. "Shall some prolific bard
    Reel off bright lyrics at a cent a yard,
    All about April rain, December snow,
    The brook, the sunset, and the squawking crow?
    Shall little Swinburnes turn a verse with ease
    And sing the flaccid pleasures of disease?
    Shall mimics, drunk with each Castalian rill,
    Be any poet but themselves at will,
    Luscious when Keats, when Spenser quaint and dull,
    When Browning turgid, and Noodles null?
    Shall weaklings, in thick verse and tortured prose,
    Strike affectation's quintessential pose,
    Sniffing the odours of a perfumed brain
    Where melts a Wordsworth _plus_ a Paul Verlaine?
    When, with no art, were precious fabrics wrought,
    When metaphysics with no mastering thought?
    No, Mrs. Fakir, none of this small fry.
    Catch me some ghost of sense, or else good-bye.
    Not at my bidding shall this choir prolong
    The cloying drivel of unmeaning song,
    Enrich the echo, maul the note and tease,
    Miauling nothing in a hundred keys.
    Better Pope's squirrel eye and polished sneer
    Than idiot mouthings, false without veneer.
    Better Boileau's 'monotony in wire,'
    Dressing good wit in periwigged attire;
    For in a garden's alleys or a wood
    Hung all in green, monotony is good,
    And a frail stem may need a bit of wire
    To keep the rose from trailing in the mire.
    Never will they dig deep or build for time
    Who of unreason weave a maze of rhyme,
    Worship a weakness, nurse a whim, and bind
    Wreaths about temples tenantless of mind,
    Forsake the path the seeing Muses trod,
    And shatter Nature to discover God.
    He only climbs the skies and proudly sings
    Whose heart, attentive, feels the pulse of things,
    Masters the fact, and hails the changeless goal
    That beckons, purges, and fulfils the soul."
    I ceased: no ghost was willing to befriend,
    And all the living useless to my end.
    Meantime the hag awoke with vacant stare,
    And passed her bony fingers through her hair.
    I left her den and hastened back to town,
    Writing the while my sad experience down.
    This you have heard. 'T is little that I give,
    But it makes sense. Long, masters, may you live.



    YOUNG SAMMY'S FIRST WILD OATS


    LINES WRITTEN BEFORE THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1900


    Mid Uncle Sam's expanded acres
        There's an old, secluded glade
    Where grey Puritans and Quakers
        Still grow fervid in the shade;
    And the same great elms and beeches
        That once graced the ancestral farm,
    Bending to the old men's speeches,
        Lend their words an echo's charm.
    Laurel, clematis, and vine
        Weave green trellises about,
    And three maples and a pine
        Shut the mucker-village out.
    Yet the smoke of trade and battle
        Cannot quite be banished hence,
    And the air-line to Seattle
        Whizzes just behind the fence.

    As one day old Deacon Plaster
        Hobbled to the wonted nook,
    There was Doctor Wise, the pastor,
        Meekly sitting with his book.
    "What has happened, Brother Deacon,
        That you look so hot and vexed?
    Is it something I might speak on
        When I preach on Sabbath next?"
    "Doctor Wise," replied the other,
        As he wiped the sweat away,
    "'T is a wicked sin, my brother,
        You should preach on every day.
    Cousin Sammy's gone a-tooting
        To the Creole County fair,
    Where the very sun's polluting
        And there's fever in the air
    He has picked up three young lasses,
        Three mulattoes on the mart,
    Who have offered him free passes
        To their fortune and their heart.
    One young woman he respected,
        Vowed he only came to woo.
    But his word may be neglected
        Since he ravished the other two.
    In the Porto Rican billing
        And carousing, I allow
    That the little minx was willing,
        Though she may be sorry now.
    But what came of those embraces
        And that taint of nigger blood?
    Now he looks on outraged faces
        And can laugh, defying God:
    He can stretch his hand, relieving,
        And strike down a cheated slave.
    Oh, if Uncle Sam were living,
        This would bring him to his grave!"

    Deacon Plaster ceased and, sighing,
        Mopped the reeking of his brain.
    Doctor Wise, before replying,
        Put his goggles on again.
    "Brother Plaster, to be candid,
        Were I managing the farm,
    I should do as the old man did--Lying
        low and safe from harm,
    Shoot at poachers from the hedges,
        If they ventured within range,
    Just round out my acre's edges,
        Grow and grow, but never change.
    I am old, and you are old, sir:
        Old the thoughts we live among.
    If the truth were to be told, sir,
        None of us was ever young.
    In the towns of sombre Britain--Merry
        England turned about--We
    were marked at birth and smitten
        Whom the Lord had chosen out;
    Picked to found a pilgrim nation,
        Far from men, estranged, remote,
    With the desert for a station
        And the ocean for a moat;
    To rebuke by sober living,
        In the dread of wrath to come,
    Of the joys of this world's giving
        The abominable sum.
    Yet all passion's seeds came smuggled
        In our narrow pilgrim ark,
    And, unwatered, grew and struggled,
        Pushed for ages through the dark,
    And, when summer granted pardon,
        Burst into the upper air,
    Till that desert was a garden
        And that sea a thoroughfare.
    Thus the virtue we rely on
        Melted 'neath the heathen sun,
    And what should have been a Zion
        Came to be this Babylon.
    Ignorant of ancient sorrow,
        With hot young blood in their veins,
    Now the prophets of the morrow
        Ply the spur and hold the reins.
    Can we blame them? Rather blame us,--
        Us, who uttered idle things.
    Our false prophecies shall shame us,
        And our weak imaginings.
    Liberty! delicious sound!
        The world loved it, and is free.
    But what's freedom? To be bound
        By a chance majority.
    Few are rich and many poor,
        Though all minds show one dull hue.
    Equality we don't secure,
        Mediocrity we do.
    Ah! what dreams beguiled our youth!
        Brothers we had hoped to be;
    But competition is the truth
        Of what we called fraternity.
    Can we blame them we mistaught
        If now they seek another guide
    And, since our wisdom comes to naught,
        Take counsel of their proper pride?
    Nature beckons them, inviting
        To a deeper draught of fate,
    And, the heart's desire inciting,
        Can we stop and bid them wait?

    "If old Uncle Sam were living,
        This, you say, should never be:
    Ah! if Uncle Sam were living,
        He might weep, but he must see.
    Yet he died in time, believing
        In the gods that ruled his days.
    We, alas! survive him, grieving
        Under gods we will not praise.
    The keen pleasures of December
        Mean the joys of April lost;
    And shall rising suns remember
        All the dream worlds they have crossed?
    All things mortal have their season:
        Nothing lives, for ever young,
    But renews its life by treason
        To the thing from which it sprung,
    And when man has reached immortal
        Mansions, after toiling long,
    Life deserts him at the portal,
        And he only lives in song.

    "As for Sam, the son, I wonder
        If you know the fellow's heart:
    There may yet be something under
        Nobler than the outer part.
    When he told that señorita
        That he kissed and hugged her close
    Like a brother, did he cheat her?
        Did he cheat himself? Who knows?
    That he liked her, that is certain;
        That he wronged her is n't true.
    On his thoughts I draw the curtain:
        I don't know them, nor do you.
    In her maid, the facile Rica,
        We have quite another case.
    Hardly did he go to seek her,
        When she rushed to his embrace.
    I confess it was improper,
        But all flesh, alas! is flesh.
    Things had gone too far to drop her;
        Each was in the other's mesh.
    But with that poor Filipina,
        When she shrank from his caress,
    His contemptible demeanour
        Is n't easy to express.
    First he bought her, then he kicked her;
        But the truth is, he was drunk,
    For that day had crowned him victor,
        And a Spanish fleet was sunk.

    "You perceive I do not spare him,
        Nor am blinded to his motes
    By the Christian love I bear him;
        Yes; he's sowing his wild oats.
    But you can't deny him talent;
        Once his instinct is awake,
    He can play the part of gallant
        And of soldier and of rake.
    And it's something to have spirit
        Though in rashness first expressed.
    Give me good blood to inherit:
        Time and trial do the rest.
    He's not Uncle Sam, the father,
        That prim, pompous, pious man,
    Yankee, or Virginian, rather:
        Sammy's an American--
    Lavish, clever, loud, and pushing,
        Loving bargains, loving strife,
    Kindly, fearless-eyed, unblushing,
        Not yet settled down in life.
    Send him forth; the world will mellow
        His bluff youth, or nothing can.
    Nature made the hearty fellow,
        Life will make the gentleman.
    And if Cousin Sam is callow,
        It was we who did the harm,
    Letting his young soul lie fallow--
        The one waste spot in the farm--
    Trained by sordid inventories
        To scorn all he could n't buy,
    Puffed with miserable glories
        Shouted at an empty sky,
    Fooled with cant of a past era,
        Droned 'twixt dreamy lid and lid,
    Till his God was a chimera
        And the living God was hid.
    Let him look up from his standard
        To the older stars of heaven,
    Seaward by whose might, and landward,
        All the tribes of men are driven;
    By whom ancient hopes were blasted,
        Ancient labours turned to dust;
    Whence the little that has lasted
        Borrows patience to be just:
    And beholding tribulation,
        Seeing whither states are hurled,
    Let him sign his declaration
        Of dependence on the world."

    Thus the Doctor's sermon ended;
        The old Deacon shook his head,
    For his conscience was offended
        And his wits had lost the thread.
    So have mine, but there's my fable:
        Now, and when you cast your votes,
    Be as lenient as you 're able
        On "Young Sammy's First Wild Oats."



    SPAIN IN AMERICA


      When scarce the echoes of Manila Bay,
      Circling each slumbering billowy hemisphere,
      Had met where Spain's forlorn Armada lay
      Locked amid hostile hills, and whispered near
      The double omen of that groan and cheer--Haste
      to do now what must be done anon
      Or some mad hope of selling triumph dear
      Drove the ships forth: soon was _Teresa_ gone,
    _Furór, Pluton, Vizcaya, Oquendo_, and _Colón_.

      And when the second morning dawned serene
      O'er vivid waves and foam-fringed mountains, dressed
      Like Nessus in their robe's envenomed sheen,
      Scarce by some fiery fleck the place was guessed
      Where each hulk smouldered; while from crest to crest
      Leapt through the North the news of victory,
      Victory tarnished by a boorish jest
      Yet touched with pity, lest the unkindly sea
    Should too much aid the strong and leave no enemy.

      As the anguished soul, that gasped for difficult breath,
      Passes to silence from its house of pain,
      So from those wrecks, in fumes of lurid death,
      Passed into peace the heavy pride of Spain,
      Passed from that aching tenement, half fain,
      Back to her castled hills and windy moors,
      No longer tossed upon the treacherous main
      Once boasted hers, which with its watery lures
    Too long enticed her sons to unhallowed sepultures.

      Why went Columbus to that highland race,
      Frugal and pensive, prone to love and ire,
      Despising kingdoms for a woman's face,
      For honour riches and for faith desire?
      On Spain's own breast was snow, within it fire;
      In her own eyes and subtle tongue was mirth;
      The eternal brooded in her skies, whence nigher
      The trebled starry host admonished earth
    To shame away her grief and mock her baubles' worth.

      Ah! when the crafty Tyrian came to Spain
      To barter for her gold his motley wares,
      Treading her beaches he forgot his gain.
      The Semite became noble unawares.
      Her passion breathed Hamilcar's cruel prayers;
      Her fiery winds taught Hannibal his vows;
      Out of her tribulations and despairs
      They wove a sterile garland for their brows.
    To her sad ports they fled before the Roman prows.

      And the Greek coming too forgot his art,
      And that large temperance which made him wise.
      The wonder of her mountains choked his heart,
      The languor of her gardens veiled his eyes;
      He dreamed, he doubted; in her deeper skies
      He read unfathomed oracles of woe,
      And stubborn to the onward destinies,
      Like some dumb brute before a human foe,
    Sank in Saguntum's flames and deemed them brighter so.

      The mighty Roman also when he came,
      Bringing his gods, his justice, and his tongue,
      Put off his greatness for a sadder fame,
      And what a Cæsar wrought a Lucan sung.
      Nor was the pomp of his proud music, wrung
      From Latin numbers, half so stern and dire,
      Nor the sad majesties he moved among
      Half so divine, as her unbreathed desire.
    Shall longing break the heart and not untune the lyre?

      When after many conquerors came Christ,
      The only conqueror of Spain indeed,
      Not Bethlehem nor Golgotha sufficed
      To show him forth, but every shrine must bleed
      And every shepherd in his watches heed
      The angels' matins sung at heaven's gate.
      Nor seemed the Virgin Mother wholly freed
      From taint of ill if born in frail estate,
    But shone the seraphs' queen and soared immaculate.

      And when the Arab from his burning sands
      Swept o'er the waters like a heavenly flail,
      He took her lute into his conquering hands,
      And in her midnight turned to nightingale.
      With woven lattices and pillars frail
      He screened the pleasant secrets of his bower,
      Yet little could his subtler arts avail
      Against the brutal onset of the Giaour.
    The rose passed from his courts, the muezzin from his tower.

      Only one image of his wisdom stayed,
      One only relic of his magic lore,--
      Allah the Great, whom silent fate obeyed,
      More than Jehovah calm and hidden more,
      Allah remained in her heart's kindred core
      High witness of these terrene shifts of wrong.
      Into his ancient silence she could pour
      Her passions' frailty--He alone is strong--
    And chant with lingering wail the burden of her song.

      Seizing at Covadonga the rude cross
      Pelayo raised amid his mountaineers,
      She bore it to Granada, one day's loss
      Ransomed with battles of a thousand years.
      A nation born in harness, fed on tears,
      Christened in blood, and schooled in sacrifice,
      All for a sweeter music in the spheres,
      All for a painted heaven--at a price
    Should she forsake her loves and sail to Ind for spice?

      Had Genoa in her merchant palaces
      No welcome for a heaven-guided son?
      Had Venice, mistress of the inland seas,
      No ships for bolder venture? Pisa none?
      Was sated Rome content? Her mission done?
      Saw Lusitania in her seaward dreams
      No floating premonition, beckoning on
      To vast horizons, gilded yet with gleams
    Of old Atlantis, whelmed beneath the bubbling streams?

      Or if some torpor lay upon the South,
      Tranced by the might of memories divine,
      Dwelt no shrewd princeling by the marshy mouth
      Of Scheldt, or by the many mouths of Rhine?
      Rode Albion not at anchor in the brine
      Whose throne but now the thrifty Tudor stole
      Changing a noble for a crafty line?
      Swarmed not the Norsemen yet about the pole,
    Seeking through endless mists new havens for the soul?

      These should have been thy mates, Columbus, these
      Patrons and partners of thy enterprise,
      Sad lovers of immeasurable seas,
      Bound to no hallowed earth, no peopled skies.
      No ray should reach them of their ladies' eyes
      In western deserts: no pure minstrel's rhyme,
      Echoing in forest solitudes, surprise
      Their heart with longing for a sweeter clime.
    These, these should found a world who drag no chains of time.

      In sooth it had seemed folly, to reveal
      To stubborn Aragon and evil-eyed
      These perilous hopes, folly to dull Castile
      Moated in jealous faith and walled in pride,
      Save that those thoughts, to Spain's fresh deeds allied,
      Painted new Christian conquests, and her hand
      Itched for that sword, now dangling at her side,
      Which drove the Moslem forth and purged the land.
    And then she dreamed a dream her heart could understand.

      Three caravels, a cross upon the prow,
      A broad cross on the banner and the sail,
      The liquid fields of Hesperus should plough
      Borne by the leaping waters and the gale.
      Before that sign all hellish powers should quail
      Troubling the deep: no dragon's obscene crest,
      No serpent's slimy coils should aught avail,
      Till ivory cities looming in the west
    Should gleam from high Cathay or Araby the Blest,

      Then, as with noble mien and debonair
      The captains from the galleys leapt to land,
      Or down the temple's alabaster stair
      Or by the river's marge of silvery sand,
      Proud Sultans should descend with outstretched hand
      Greeting the strangers, and by them apprised
      Of Christ's redemption and the Queen's command,
      Being with joy and gratitude baptised,
    Should lavish gifts of price by rarest art devised.

     Or if (since churls there be) they should demur
     To some least point of fealty or faith,
     A champion, clad in arms from crest to spur,
     Should challenge the proud caitiffs to their death
     And, singly felling them, from their last breath
     Extort confession that the Lord is lord,
     And India's Catholic queen, Elizabeth.
     Whereat yon turbaned tribes, with one accord,
    Should beat their heathen breasts and ope their treasures' horde.

      Or, if the worst should chance and high debates
      Should end in insult and outrageous deed,
      And, many Christians rudely slain, their mates
      Should summon heaven to their direful need,
      Suddenly from the clouds a snow-white steed
      Bearing a dazzling rider clad in flames
      Should plunge into the fray: with instant speed
      Rout all the foe at once, while mid acclaims
    The slaughtered braves should rise, crying, _Saint James! Saint James!_

      Then, the day won, and its bright arbiter
      Vanished, save for peace he left behind,
      Each in his private bosom should bestir
      Plis dearest dream: as that perchance there pined
      Some lovely maiden of angelic mind
      In those dark towers, awaiting out of Spain
      Two Saviours that her horoscope divined
      Should thence arrive. She (womanlike) were fain
    Not to be wholly free, but wear a chosen chain.

      That should be youth's adventure. Riper days
      Would crave the guerdon of a prouder power
      And pluck their nuggets from an earthly maze
      For rule and dignity and children's dower.
      And age that thought to near the fatal hour
      Should to a magic fount descend instead,
      Whose waters with the fruit revive the flower
      And deck in all its bloom the ashen head,
    Where a green heaven spreads, not peopled of the dead.

      By such false meteors did those helmsmen steer,
      Such phantoms filled their vain and vaulting souls
      With divers ardours, while this brooding sphere
      Swung yet ungirdled on her silent poles.
      All journeys took them farther from their goals,
      All battles won defeated their desire,
      Barred from one India by the other's shoals,
      Each sighted star extinguishing its fire,
    Cape doubled after cape, and never haven nigher.

      How many galleons sailed to sail no more,
      How many battles and how many slain,
      Since first Columbus touched the Cuban shore,
      Till Aurocania felt the yoke of Spain!
      What mounting miseries! What dwindling gain!
      To till those solitudes, soon swept of gold,
      And bear that ardent sun, across the main
      Slaves must come writhing in the festering hold
    Of galleys.--Poison works, though men be brave and bold.

      That slothful planter, once the buccaneer,
      Lord of his bastards and his mongrel clan,
      Ignorant, harsh, what could he list or hear
      Of Europe and the heritage of man?
      No petty schemer sees the larger plan,
      No privy tyrant brooks the mightier law,
      But lash in hand rides forth a partisan
      Of freedom: base, without the touch of awe,
    He poisoned first the blood his poniard was to draw.

      By sloth and lust and mindlessness and pelf
      Spain sank in sadness and dishonour down,
      Each in her service serving but himself,
      Each in his passion striking at her crown.
      Not that these treasons blotted her renown
      Emblazoned higher than such hands can reach:
      There where she reaped but sorrow she has sown
      The balm of sorrow; all she had to teach
    She taught the younger world--her faith and heart and speech.

      And now within her sea-girt walls withdrawn
      She waits in silence for the healing years,
      While where her sun has set a second dawn
      Comes from the north, with other hopes and fears.
      Spain's daughters stand, half ceasing from their tears,
      And watch the skies from Cuba to the Horn.
      "What is this dove or eagle that appears,"
      They seem to cry, "what herald of what morn
    Hovers o'er Andes' peaks in love or guile or scorn?"

      "O brooding Spirit, fledgling of the North,
      Winged for the levels of its shifting light,
      Child of a labouring ocean and an earth
      Shrouded in vapours, fear the southward flight,
      Dread waveless waters and their warm delight,
      Beware of peaks that cleave the cloudless blue
      And hold communion with the naked night.
      The souls went never back that hither flew,
    But sighing fell to earth or broke the heavens through.

      "Haunt still thy storm-swept islands, and endure
      The shimmering forest where thy visions live.
      Then if we love thee--for thy heart is pure--Thou
      shalt have something worthy love to give.
      Thrust not thy prophets on us, nor believe
      Thy sorry riches in our eyes are fair.
      Thy unctuous sophists never will deceive
      A mortal pang, or charm away despair.
    Not for the stranger's fee we plait our lustrous hair.

      "But of thy lingering twilight bring some gleam,
      Memorial of the immaterial fire
      Lighting thy heart, and to a wider dream
      Waken the music of our plaintive lyre.
      Check our rash word, hush, hush our base desire.
      Hang paler clouds of reverence about
      Our garish skies: laborious hope inspire
      That uncomplaining walks the paths of doubt,
    A wistful heart within, a mailed breast without.

      "Gold found is dross, but long Promethean art
      Transmutes to gold the unprofitable ore.
      Bring labour's joy, yet spare that better part
      Our mother, Spain, bequeathed to all she bore,
      For who shall covet if he once adore?
      Leave in our skies, strange Spirit passing there,
      No less of vision but of courage more,
      And of our worship take thy equal share,
    Thou who wouldst teach us hope, with her who taught us prayer."



    YOUTH'S IMMORTALITY


    What, when hearts have met, shall sever
      Heart from heart, though heaven fall?
    They alone are dead for ever
      Who have never lived at all.
    Roses that have bloomed to sweetness
      Never can untimely fade,
    Blessed by death in their completeness
      And on beauty's bosom laid,
    Garnered in the breast eternal
      Where all noble joys are one,
    Sweet Elysium, fair and vernal,
      Where they mount who face the sun.
    Happy he whom men call lonely,
      Whose companion is the truth,
    And whose heart is ravished only
      By the world's immortal youth.
    Happy he whose single treasure
      Is the infinite unfurled,
    And whose voice has caught the measure
      Of the music of the world.
    When Death gathers up our ashes
      And our sorry shades depart,
    Lo, Life's flame, rekindled, flashes
      From another mortal heart,
    And Death turns about, derided
      By the Life he would deride.
    Vainly space and time divided
      What eternity allied.
    One great hope guides all our seeing,
      One pure heaven lends us light.
    Love is still the crown of being,
      Faith the better part of sight.
    The same wisdom's ancient pages
      Stir again the generous soul
    To the mighty task of ages
      Crawling still to reason's goal.
    The prophetic Muse of Story
      Sings her ancient legend o'er,
    And the sea, still young and hoary,
      Chants along the beaten shore.
    Spring yet yields her flowery treasures
      To the guiltless hands of boys,
    Chastening their noisy pleasures
      To the depth of human joys.
    One eternal passion drives us,
      Zealots of the stars above,
    And our better part survives us,
      Living in the things we love.





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