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Title: Florence On A Certain Night - And Other Poems
Author: Dawson, Coningsby
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Florence On A Certain Night - And Other Poems" ***

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By Coningsby Dawson

New York: Henry Holt and Company








Here thou shalt find grave thought--the shade of thine Most is of earth,
some little all divine. By hands God-given, mine, this tower doth
thrive; Thine are the clouds which round my turrets drive.



(October, 1504)

                   _[Someone sings in the street below]_

               Fair-fleeting Youth must snatch at happiness,

               He knows not if To-morrow curse or bless,

               Nor round what bend upon his travel-way

               The bandit Death lurks armed--of Yesterday

               His palely featured griefs he knows too well;

               Therefore with jests To-day, come Heaven, come Hell,

               He plucks with either hand what joys he may.

               Joy is a flower

               White-leafd or red,

               None knows which colour

               Till it is dead:

               White gives forth fragrance

               Pure as God's breath;

               Red in its dying

               Yields the gatherer death.

                   _[Leonardo da Vinci speaks]_

               So 'tis Lorenzo's song they sing to-night,

               That haunting song which long years since he sang

               When, with his gallants through the torch-

                        smirched dusk,

               He laughing rode toward the Carnival,

               And young girls loosened all abroad their hair

               And flung up petals through the cool moonlight,

               Some of which falling rested on his face,

               Some of which falling covered up his eyes;

               And girls there were who kissed his drooping


               And clasped his stirrups, begging him to stay,

               To halt one little moment, stay with them:

               _"Life is so short. Delay with us a while."_

               But he rode on, and sang of joy and love.

               Lorenzo il Magnifico is dead;

               His lips are silent, and he now could halt

               Oh, endlessly, if one of those fair maids

               Should come to him imploring him to stay.

               For twelve slow years within the sacristy

               Of San Lorenzo he has never waked,

               But has the rest he could not find in life--

               Ungrateful now, because postponed too long.

               If one should steal to him from out the past

               And bending down should whisper low his name,

               He would not hearken. True, she would be old,

               As are all maids of that spent gala-night;

               So, if he heard her, he would only smile,

               For he loved only beauty in his day.


                   _[ Someone sings in the street below]_

               Fair-fleeting Youth wends ever to the West,

               He, like the sun, too soon must sink to rest.

               Stars of Remorse, fast-following on his track,

               Moon of Old-Age, can nothing turn ye back f

               Ah, soon the golden Day'll have spent his breath!

               Then comes the drear, eventless Night of Death

               When Youth, no longer young, all joys must lack.

                   _[Leonardo da Vinci speaks]_

               "Then comes the drear, eventless Night of Death!"

               'Tis true, for who in Tuscany to-day

               Dares breathe the Medicean name aloud?

               When a man dies, the watchers by the bed

               Close down his eye-lids, so is he once dead;

               Twice dead is he whose mem'ry men dang down

               To dark oblivion when his soul is fled.

               Florence forgets her singer, but his song

               Still echoes through her streets on autumn nights,

               And pausing at the door of some old friend,

               Bids him remember all the hope he had

               In spacious days, before Lorenzo died . . .

               It seems Lorenzo's soul crept back to earth

               Re-seeking Joy he coveted in life,

               Seeking the happiness he never found.

               Yet, was his labour lost? Did he not find?

               He sang one song which lingers in men's hearts

               And, having sung, he surely solved his quest.

               Who of Joy's seekers finds the flower itself,

               And plucking, knows the snow-white from the red?

               Not I, for I've been truant in my search;

               I've pluck't the mauve of Honour and the green

               Of cloistered Knowledge, yellow of Romance,

               The blue which feigns a deep Tranquillity,

               Scarlet of Boldness, purple of Despair,

               Orange of Idleness which flaunts the sun,

               And indigo of wizard Heresy--

               And gray which gives to Weariness unrest.

               Perchance I've clutched within this eager hand

               The Death of Joy--the fatal flower of blood.

               I know not. This I know, I have not trod

               The quiet vale where grows the flower of white.

               Like an unwise distiller of perfume

               I've blended each new fragrance as it came,

               Made something perfect for a day--two days;

               Then ruined all by adding something fresh.

               First I would be a scholar, so I learned

               Latin and Greek, and Mathematic Law.

               Then I would be a poet, so I wrote

               "Chi non puô quel che vuol, quel che puo voglia;

               Che quel che non si puô folle è volere.

               Adunque saggio l'uomo è da tenere,

               Che da quel che non puô sua vogler toglia."

               I could not live the wisdom which I taught,

               So I must be a master of design

               And studied sculpture with Verocchio,

               Verocchio who had his dusty shop

               On Amo's banks in grand Lorenzo's time.

               Thither, while yet a boy, I did resort

               And out of terra-cotta caused to smile

               Women whose beauty ne'er hath been surpassed,

               Nor equalled in the flesh for Man's delight.

               Still not content, I'd be an architect

               And renovate this battered world for God,

               Hurling across steep valleys, mile on mile

               Through cloudland, spans of marble aqueduct;

               Leading chained rivers from the mountain-heights

               Down to the plains where men are wont to toil,

               There I would cause these Samsons of the crags,

               Scenting the sea, whose waves are unconfined,

               To shake themselves as once at other times,

               And rush in frenzy forward turning mills.

               So would each city echo to the hum

               Of loom, and web, and swift-revolving wheels.

               Then, when prosperity had reached its height

               And merhants cavilled at each other's gains,

               I'd frame for them the iron beasts of war

               And hound than on to harry and destroy--

               And when our world was fallen, who but I,

               Da Vinci, should stand forth to raise it up?

               These were my dreams; I thought myself divine--

               All this was long ago, when I was young.

               Next I would make me wings, and I would fly

               As do the morning birds straight t'ward the sun,

               Piercing the mists, rise far above the clouds

               To seek out where God walks and whom He loves.

               I made me wings, but had not strength to fly.

               Still discontent and tethered to this world,

               I strove to wrench the secret out of Life,

               And swept the far horizon of the stars

               If there, at least, I might discern some sign

               To tell me whence souls come, to where depart.

               I, in my overhaste, pursued too far,

               Seeking that vague and fabled Paradise

               Where Adam and his many sons sing chaunts,

               While Eve walks through them pale and deified.

               I missed my track in pathless swamps of Time,

               I chilled my hands against the cold-dead stars,

               And lost my mind in unremembered Past,

               Remote from God and out of human sight.

               Lastly I took to painting down my thoughts,

               And pictured for the King of Portugal

               That fatal meadow in the Eden Land,

               Where Man's first sweet and deadly sin was


               I, in this art, all others did excel;

               Yet with success I was not satisfied

               But hourly craved for the impossible--

               To fashion men as real as flesh and blood.

               To-day I'd toil with fire in my brain

               And paint away the faults of yesterday,

               And shadow forth the dreams of yesternight,

               And so on through long months and weary years

               Till, losing heart, I'd toss my brush aside

               Leaving the thing unfinished as it was--

               Adding this broken promise to my last.

               There's Raphael with his wide unanxious eyes,

               He does his work as though it were his play;

               He never talks of fame, but sings the while

               He paints the Virgin with Lord Jesus Christ--

               Goes to the door, throws kisses to a child,

               Goes to the window, smiles to some slim girl,

               And so returns and flashes kiss and smile

               Into the canvas quaking 'neath his brush,

               Creating thus a masterpiece sublime.

               And then there's surly Michelangelo

               Who chisels _Davids_ through the death-long night,

               And paints _Last Judgments_ through the livelong


               Pantingly running, pace on pace with Fame,

               Racing dean-limbed toward his goal in life.

               But I, poor changeling, wake, and dream, and


               And dream again, retarded by desire.

               I was eight years in painting at Milan

               A fresco for the monks of Dominic--

               And even this I hear's begun to fade;

               It was a picture of that sacred feast

               Our Saviour gave before he went to die.

               Ten years I laboured on the Sforza horse

               Which should have been my monument through


               I built it huge and true in every line,

               Studied anatomy to make it strong,

               And set on top Francesco with his sword;

               But, when the time for casting had arrived

               And I had done one perfect work at last,

               The hungry French across the border came,

               Bringing their Gascons, who got drunk and shot

               The clay of my poor Titan into space.

               So were ten years of strenuous effort lost;

               And now I'm painting Mona Lisa's face . . .

                   _[Someone sings in the street below]_

               Seize then thy gladness ere it turns to dust,

               Youth can make all acts lovely, all deeds just;

               Heed not the tyrant, lean Morality,

               But steer thy passion down to the purple sea,

               Through winding hills where Beauty hath her home

               And calls to travellers, until thou come

               Unto the Deep of Lovés Satiety.

                   _[Leonardo da Vinci speaks]_

               Ha-ha, my passion to the purple sea!

               And yet, I'd go if Mona Lisa'd come.

               We two, close-seated in one crimson boat

               Would drift the yellow waters of Romance,

               Glide down its stream through hills of mystery

               Where Beauty roams, of which the song hath


               Nor ever speak of where that tide should end.

               We'd dip no oars, we'd set no hurrying sail,

               But swept on the full current of desire

               Would steer our course with unimpeded hands,

               Watching the pleasure in each other's eyes.

               Ah well, 'tis vain to talk! Two-thirds of life

               Till now I've spent in spotless purity--

               Affection's been retarded by desire

               As has my work; my dreams have far excelled

               The beauty God moulds into human shape.

               The sweet perfection of the womankind

               Who haunt my brain, has held me back from love.

               This . . . this was so till Mona Lisa came.

               Four years I've painted when it was her day,

               A day of mist, of mingled rain and sun;

               Four years before me silently she's sat

               And smiled to see me strive to catch her smile

               In liquid paint, with canvas and with brush,

               So that her eyes, searching, inscrutable,

               May question her sons' sons when she is dust.

               I only just begin to know her face.

               To learn its sudden changes I have paid

               The skill'dest men in all our Tuscan vales,

               Harpists, lute-players, masters of the viol,

               To make soft music while on her I gaze.

               For her content I ordered to be made

               A fountain in the courtyard of my house

               Whose waters falling, ere they dash to spray,

               Smite on smooth spheres, which thus revolve and


               The chaunt the winds toll in our upland pines.

               About the fountain's brink I caused to plant

               Pale iris roots and dew-blanched narcissi,

               Since white's the flower which most of all she loves.

               Also about the pillars, where the sun

               Lengthens the shadows when the evening fades,

               I've sculptured . . .

                   _[Someone sings in the street below]_

               Passion's a flower

               While-leaf d or red--

               None knows which colour

               Till it is dead;

               Love gives forth fragrance

               Pure as God's breath;

               Lust in Us dying

               Yields the gatherer death.

                   _[Leonardo da Vinci speaks]_

               And had Lorenzo sung those words to me

               His voice had had no more familiar sound;

               Had he turned back from lordly Paradise

               To urge me on in my pursuit of Joy,

               Knowing its flower almost within my hand,

               He had not said those words more earnestly.

               Lo, even now he stands without and I,

               By leaning forward, may discerrn his face.

                   _[Rises, goes to the window; looks out]_

               Nothing; the sky is covered with a cloud,

               The moon's obscured and all the stars are dead.

                   _[Cries, as though hailing someone]_

               Lorenzo, ho Lorenzo! Are you there?

               I heard your singing. I am come, old friend.

                   _[Listens; then to himself]_

               What's over there? I thought a shadow stirred.

               There, over there! Beneath Piero's wall.

               Hath Pagan Plato triumphed over Christ

               And sent his chief apostle back to us?

               Or hath Lord Christ in his compassion wrought

               That kindness Dives craved of Abraham,

               Sending Lorenzo here from off his breast

               To bid me snatch my Joy ere Death befalls?

               No . . . no, the moon shines through and makes

                        all plain.

               This is some old Florentine Lazarus--

               A soldier crippled in our Pisan wars

               Who begs upon San Marco's steps by day.

               Hi, here's a scudot Catch it in your cap.

               D'you hear me fellow?_

               Strange, he does not stay,

               But hastens on as if he . . . there, he's gone.

               Perchance he's mad or deaf, or blind and mad.

               And yet methought that, when he turned to go,

               His face looked upward, so it caught the light;

               And it was like to one . . .

                   _[Comes hack from the window and sits down]_

               Ah well,

               I'll think no more of spirits and of ghosts;

               Let the dead past go bury up its dead.

               I'll think of Mona Lisa's face alone . . .

                        _Of Mona Lisa's face.

               Just now I said

               One thing I knew, that I had never trod

               The quiet vale where grows the flower of white.

               'Twas false. Four years I've lived and wandered


               And seen my flower, but feared to break its stem.

               Dear God, thou knowest how often I have prayed

               That this temptation might not make me fall--

               Yea, I have asked for death's deliverance.

               Is this thy answer, that it is no sin

               For men to gather that which most they love?

               So be it. Silence answers every prayer;

               Thy voice hath spoken--I am satisfied.

               Men say in Florence, while I watched her face,

               That I bewitched her, so her very eyes

               Grew in expression like unto my own,

               So that her hands took on my restless ways,

               So that her mouth hath altered in its smile

               And, when I paint her face, I paint my own.

               Then let that be God's answer to my prayer.

               Ah, she is like me, she is very like!

               God made her for the sister of my soul;

               He would not have His plans jerked out of joint

               By one mistake, because she chanced to wed

               Her bankrupt father's sternest creditor

               To save his name--and this, some years ago;

               Therefore He sent His singer here to-night

               That he, in words I loved, might tell me so.

               Certainly God is good and very great.

               'Tis said her husband hath returned this night,

               Passing at sundown through the southern gate

               From Naples, where last spring he went to sell

               Certain Sicilian cattle which he had.

               (He sold, I'll warrant, at the highest price),

               So, if the husband's come, then _she_ is home.

               That day she left me, 'twas an April day,

               One of her days of mingled mist and sun,

               I well remember how she paused and gazed

               Full in my eyes, as if forbidden love

               Were vainly seeking words which shame denied;

               Then suddenly she stooped, and her lips brushed

               My forehead. God gave gentle words ; she prayed,

               "May the Christ-Mother have you in her care"--

               Nothing besides. Passionately I rose up,

               Willing for her sake to be crucified;

               Stretched forth my arms to snatch her to my


               And found her gone--the courtyard filled with sun.

               Six months have passed since then--six tortured


               There hangs her portrait, it has felt no brush

               Since on that April mom she went away;

               And now the empty courtyard's filled with night,

               And back to Florence Mona Lisa's come.

               To-morrow I will go to her and say,

               "Lisa, here take my life for it is yours.

               Do with it as you will; but do not stay

               To add, subtract, and reckon up its cost.

               Act a brave part and, if your love's like mine,

               We need not fear; for what we lose we gain,

               And, though we gain much, still to-day's to-day

               And, while we tarry, one day's love is lost."

               Ah, would that I might speak those words to-night

               For, while I halt, another night is gone--

               Crush'd to a mem'ry 'neath the heel of Time.

               I'm minded even now to venture forth,

               To go to her, although the hour is late;

               And through the darkness, when she hears me call,

               Only to say to her this one word, "_Come_."

               Thus unto men speak Birth, Fate, Love and Death,

               The four great captains of this brief campaign;

               Casting a shadow at the soul's tent-door,

               Each in his turn beckons and whispers, "_Come_."

               And I to her am Death, Birth, Love and Fate;

               And she to me is Love, and only Love.

               I'll go to her. How can I longer wait?

               Her nearer presence sets my blood aflame;

               I'll seize my flower . . .

               _[Commences to descend the stairway, then pauses]_

               Ah, the song again!

               _[Someone sings in the street below]_

               Let naught of fear Youth's laughing steps delay,

               Aye, gather gladness; pluck it while ye may--

               We burn not if To-morrow curse or Hess.

               Who cares--one red bud more, one white bud less?

               Only we burn that love was meant to spend,

               And this we burn, that each life hath its end;

               Therefore, O Youth, snatch all thy happiness.

               _[Descends slowly; passes out into the street]_

               _[Leonardo da Vinci speaks]_

               There's truth in every line that song hath sung.

               The hand that wrote it's twelve years turned to


               The brain's become a hollow nothingness--

               A little grayness lying in a skull;

               And yet Lorenzo guides my steps to-night

               Unto my love as truly as in life.

               Oh wonderful and strange that men should die

               And, being buried, still should talk with us!

               When _I_ am free, and future ages come

               To stand amazed before the girl I loved,

               Then I will speak with them, say thus and thus,

               And, though departed, never shall be dead.

               For this I'll paint her portrait till 'tis done,

               Singing, like Raphael, from gray dawn to dusk,

               Pausing to kiss her forehead, lips, throat, eyes,

               Learning their beauty, where mine own lips touch;

               So I, like Angelo, with measured stride

               Will race with Fame, until the prize is won.

               Yea, men attain most only when they love.

               "_But steer thy passion down to the purple sea,_"

               (How went the song?) "_Until at length thou come

               Unto the Deep of Love's Satiety_."

               Truly, that is the way that brave men love:

               Reckless of blame, despising consequence,

               Not counting on a better day to come,

               Seizing with warrior-hands their Joy at once.

               And love in life is everything to us,

               And I have failed because I have not loved.

               But, when her soft arms go about my neck

               And I grow pale before her great desire,

               A new success will pass into my blood

               And I'll be strong . . .

               Ah, someone's coming up!

               I'll draw into the shadow of this gate;

               Perhaps he'll pass. I seem to know his tread.

               No good! He's seen me; I must seek the light.

               Is't you Vitelli?



               _[Leonardo da Vinci]_


               _[Vitelli speaks]_

               Well, how's the painting? Is her portrait done?

               Whose portrait? Why, the one of Lisa's face.

               Not finished! What, 'tis only just begun?

               Well, that's a pity. Four years seems some time

               To gape before a canvas with a brush.

               Beg pardon. This is what I meant to say:

               That since you could not paint her in her life,

               You'll scarce be more successful now she's

                        dead . . .

               You did not know? . . . _Why, she's been dead

                        three months._


               In the solemn twilight, centuries ago,

               God walked in His Garden, all His stars below;

               God was very lonely, so He caused to grow

               Man, in some ways like Him, centuries ago.

               Man roamed through the twilight, centuries ago,

               Always thinking, thinking--wishing he might know

               Who it was that made him; then God caused to


               Woman, who was half-God, centuries ago.

               These, within God's Garden, centuries ago,

               Stood beneath the twilight calling very low

               To some voice to answer, whereby they might


               Had God really made them--centuries ago.

               Thus whilst they were listening, centuries ago,

               Solemn feet drew nigh them, treading very slow;

               Solemn hands so touched them that they caused to


               Something that was All-God, centuries ago.

               Then they left God's Garden, centuries ago.

               Scarcely dared to question, never hoped to know,

               Who it was that touched them, causing thus to


               That small child, so like them--centuries ago.


               I bore him in my breast--

               Yes, it was I.

               My mother's hands impressed

               Stars of the sky

               On to his infant sight,

               As we watched night by night,

               Jesus and I.

               I taught him how to pray;

               Yes, it was I

               Gave him the words to say.

               God drawing nigh,

               We two walked hand-in-hand

               Close to God's Hidden Land,

               Jesus and I.

               This little son of mine

               Fell from the sky;

               God made him all divine--

               Yet there was I.

               I came to bear his loss,

               He came to take his cross--

               He came to die.

               Thus we went hand-in-hand,

               My son and I,

               Up to God's Hidden Land--

               Went up to die.

               He entered in to reign

               And came not back again--

               Yet there was I.


               "Perhaps tomorrow, but not today.

               I am young and life is long," she said;

               And she smiled to herself and tossed her head--

               She scarcely cared that he went away.

               Perhaps tomorrow, but not today."

               Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps today,"

               She laughed; and the green things rose from bed

               And lived their moment. But still she said,

               Till the sky grew old and the world grew gray,

               Perhaps tomorrow, but not today."

               Neither tomorrow, nor yet today."

               Night fell. She heard the voice and sped,

               And followed his steps, till she found Love dead.

               The forest muttered, as it would say,

               Neither tomorrow, nor any day."


               Oh, the romance of it,

               Soul-thrilling trance of it,

               Though lives are lost which no love can restore!

               Hearts ride a-prance at it,

               Taking their chance at it--

               Wing-thriven hearts to the seat of Love's War.

               Sorrow is theirs in store;

               This they know well before,

               Yet do they ride from the West and the East

               Hoping for this at least,

               Out from the West and East,

               Glory with death at the end of the war.

               Should they return again,

               Life sings the old refrain,

               Mystery, madness and mirth at the core:

               Patter of falling rain,

               Dawnings which wax and wane,

               Life which is war at the end of Love's War.

               Thunders have ceased to roar,

               Terrors they knew before

               When they rode out from the East and the West.

               Though passions will not rest,

               Love, which is always best,

               Honours brave lips at the end of the war.


               She sits in God's garden,

               Queen Mary of Heaven,

               Where birds sing their steven

               Hid in the cool tree;

               And all the gold day-time,

               From morning till even,

               Earth's little strange children

               Play round her knee.

               Earth's lost little children

               She binds to her bosom,

               Each wind-gathered blossom,

               Till mothers are free

               To steal to God's Garden

               And name them and loose them--

               In Eden's green garden,

                   'Neath Mary's tree.


               The arid loneliness of life he knew,

               The doubtful darkness of the starless night,

               And fear lest he should never see the sight

               Of dawn and God the Father breaking through.

               Brave offspring of a disenchanted age

               He lived as though illusion were not dead;

               His was the pain of faiths discredited

               Which with new knowledge civil battles wage.

               In all his deeds for righteous quests he stood

               And we, who watched his face and heard his voice,

               Dreamed of the Christ; we had not any choice,

               In loving him we knew that God was good--

               We knew. And thus, beneath the hooded sky,

               Lightly we followed where his pain had made

               A path for us; if one should fall, he stayed

               To raise him, lest his frailer hope should die.

               Ofttimes when summer's day had ceased to shine

               And on our London roofs the moon looked down,

               We two would wander through the gas-lit town

               Speaking in whispers of the things divine;

               Or in love's stillness, high above the strife,

               We found our spirits strangely catching fire,

               And told of that "_ unspeakable desire

               After the knowledge of the buried life._"

               He knows its secret now; the morning mist

               Drifts up the road where his last footprint lies;

               And I, as ever when a Christ-man dies,

               Stand awe-struck, asking, "Was not this the


               His soul craved God. I think we always knew

               He would be with us but a little while.

               Night vanished; dawn broke--when he saw God


               Back like a homing-bird to God he flew.


               The world is a child who roams all day

               Through windswept meadows of gold and gray.

               The gold flowers fade; he foils to sleep,

               And night is his cradle wide and deep.

               The moon-mother creeps from behind God's throne

               And steals up the skies to protect her own.

               She leans her breast 'gainst his cradle-rim

               While her small star-children gaze down on him.

               Stars are his brothers; clouds his dreams;

               His mother's arms are the pale moon-beams.

               When meadows again grow gold and gray,

               He wakes from sleep and runs forth to play.

               But every night from behind God's throne

               The moon-mother steals to protect her own.


               It's not her hair and it's not her feet,

               Nor the way she walks with her head held high;

               It's not because her eye-brows meet

               Like a bird's wings over a glimpse of sky;

               And it isn't her voice like April bloom

               Rustling through an orchard's gloom--

               It's none of these; not her wide gray eye,

               Nor her crumpled mouth like a rose-bud red

               Round which the snows of the jasmine spread.

               Though her long white hands

               Are like lilies of Lent,

               Palely young and purely bent

               O'er her breast, where God stands,

               It's none of these.

               Flowers and trees

               With her to compare

               Are too little rare.

               Though the grass yearns up to touch her feet,

               She is loved for this--she is sweet, sweet, sweet.


_Hark to the patter of the rain,

               Voices of dead things come again:

               Feet that rustle the lush wet grass,

               Lips that mutter, "Alas! Alas!"

               And shadows that grope o'er my window-pane._

               Poor outcast souls, you saw my light

               And thought that I, on such a night,

               Would pity take and bid you in

               To warm your hands, so palely thin,

               Before my fire which blazeth bright.

               You come from hells of ice-cold clay

               So pent that, striving every way,

               You may not stir the coffin-lid;

               And well you know that, if you did,

               Darkness would come and not the day.

               Darkness! With you 'tis ever dark;

               No joy of skyward-mounting lark

               Or blue of swallow on the wing

               Can penetrate and comfort bring

               You, where you lie all cramp'd and stark.

               Deep sunk beneath the secret mould,

               You hear the worm his length unfold

               And slime across your frail roof-plank,

               And tap, and vanish, like the rank

               Foul memory of a sin untold.

               And this your penance in the tomb:

               To weave upon the mind's swift loom

               White robes, to garb remorsefully

               A _Better Life_--which may not be

               Or, when it comes, may seal your doom.

               Thus, side by side, through all the year,

               Yet just apart, you wake and hear,

               As men on land the ocean's strum,

               Your Dead World's hushed delirium

               Which, sounding distant, yet is near.

               So near that, could he lean aside,

               The bridegroom well might touch his bride

               And reach her flesh, which once was fair,

               And, slow across the pale lips where

               He kissed her, feel his fingers glide.

               So distant, that he can but weep

               Whene'er she moans his name in sleep:

               A cold-grown star, with light all spent,

               She gropes the abyssmal firmament.

               He hears her surging in the Deep.

               Ever throughout the year 'tis thus

               Till drones the dream-toned Angelus

               Of Hallowe'en; then, underground,

               Unto dead ears its voice doth sound

               Like Christ's voice, crying, "_Lazarus_."

               Palsied with haste the dead men rise

               Groaning, because their unused eyes

               Can scarce endure Earth's blackest night;

               It wounds them as 'twere furious light

               And stars were flame-clouds in the skies.

               What tenderness and sad amaze

               Must grieve lost spirits when they gaze

               Beneath a withered moon, and view

               The ancient happiness they knew--

               The live, sweet world and all its ways!

               Ho, Deadmen! for a night you're free

               Till Dawn leads back Captivity.

               To make your respite seem more dear

               Mutter throughout your joy this fear:

          "Who knows, within the coming year,

               That God, our gaoler, may not die;

               Then, who'll remember where we lief

               Who then will come to set us free f

               Through all the ages this may be

               Our final night of liberty."

               Aye, hoard your moments miserly.

               And yet .... and yet, it is His rain

               That drives against my window-pane.

               Oh, surely all Earth's dead have rest

               And stretch at peace in God's own breast,

               And never can return again!

               And yet . . . .


               Oh mother, why are you weeping

               When aLl the world's asleeping?

               Rest ye, rest ye, mother,

               I am near, dear, near.

               Not beneath the moon-drenched grass

               Do I turn to hear you pass--

               You would see me walk beside you, if your eyes

                        saw dear.

               Oh mother, why are you crying?

               There was no loss in dying.

               Rest ye, rest ye, mother,

               Have no fear, no fear.

               Still long hangs my golden hair,

               But the body that I wear

               Treads more kindly and more lightly, could you

                        hear, dear, hear.

               She has stayed her eyes from weeping;

               She is sleeping, sweetly sleeping.

               Rest ye, weary mother,

               I am here, dear, here.

               Now the dawn-wind fans her cheek,

               And she knows not that I speak--

               But my arms are warm about her, could her eyes

                        see clear.


               So kindly was His love to us,

               (We had not heard of love before),

               That all our life grew glorious

               When He had halted at our door.

               So meekly did He love us men,

               Though blind we were with shameful sin,

               He touched our eyes with tears, and then

               Led God's tall angels flaming in.

               He dwelt with us a little space,

               As mothers do in childhood's years;

               And still we can discern His face

               Wherever Joy or Love appears.

               He made our virtues all His own,

               And lent them grace we could not give;

               And now our world seems His alone,

               And while we live He seems to live.

               He took our sorrows and our pain,

               And hid their torture in His breast;

               Till we received them back again

               To find on each His grief impressed.

               He clasped our children in His arms,

               And showed us where their beauty shone;

               He took from us our gray alarms,

               And put Death's icy armor on.

               So gentle were His ways with us

               That crippled souls had ceased to sigh;

               On them He laid His hands, and thus

               They gloried at His passing by.

               Without reproof or word of blame,

               As mothers do in childhood's years,

               He kissed our lips, in spite of shame,

               And stayed the passage of our tears.

               So tender was His love to us,

               (We had not learnt to love before),

               That we grew like to Him, and thus

               Men sought His grace in us once more.

               April fields and England's flowers,

               English friends and April showers,

               April voices o'er the sea

               Calling, calling unto me:

               Oh, why tarry, why delay!

               Hither lies the meadow-way;

               No such meadows shalt thou see,

               Oh, come back to Arcady."

               Happy English Arcady

               Thou art calling, calling me

               Through thin flutes as frail as Pan

               Fingered, when long since he ran

               Careless as these foreign flowers,

               Trailing through these tropic bowers

               All their largess of gold leaf,

               Piling splendors sheaf on sheaf.

               Some there be who think Pan dead,

               Say his nymphs and flutings sped;

               I know better, I have seen

               Where his racing feet have been.

               Still I hear the dead god's voice--

               England's; Had my soul the choice,

               It should wade through starry bloom

               Knee-deep to the brown-burnt broom.

               April fields and April flowers,

               April friends and April showers,

               England shouting o'er the sea,

               Calling, calling unto me.


               Ah, little child, as you lie in my breast,

               Leaning your hair of gold close to my face,

               Flushed in the gathering glow of the West,

               Where shall we travel--to what joyous place?

               Shall we refashion our castles in Spain,

               Or sail to the Indies with Sinbad again,

               Or noiselessly drift to where tired stars wane--

               Shall it be Africa, Sinbad or Spain?

               Speak, little child, and together we'll go

               Back to the musical dreamlands we know.

               Dear little child, you have wandered to rest.

               While you are sleeping I wonder and think

               Where you will go, and what land will be best

               Treading for such baby feet, and I shrink.

               Should they be hillsides of laughing and song,

               Or gardens of mercy and righting of wrong,

               Of weeping, or triumph, or love growing strong,

               Journeys of shouting, of sorrow or song?

               I can but love you and kiss your gold hair,

               Happy in hoping that Christ may be there.


               Rattle the Ivory Latch of Love

               And who will unbar the gate?

               Ask no questions, my dearest love,

               But wait--wait--wait.

               Ah, will she be haughty Isabeau,

               Pale Isodore, or Kate?

               _Hush, dearest dear, some day you'll know,

               Be not importunate._

               Perchance I might love Isodore,

               I think I could love Kate;

               I have no fears for Isabeau

               Should she unbar the gate.

               _Perchance she may be Isabeau,

               Perhaps she will be Kate;

               But which, dear heart, you'll never know,

               Till you have learned to wait._


               Christ along the Road to Fame,

               When all birds were singing,

               Pluck't white lilies as He came,

               Set the blue-bells ringing;

               Poppies flared in strident flame

               When they heard His singing.

               Further up the Road to Fame

               Birds grew still in sorrow;

               Though His feet were very lame

               Courage did He borrow,

               Singing as He onward came,

               Dreaming of the morrow.

               Crimsoned by the Road of Fame

               Christ passed sick and dying.

               Through the hedges, red with shame,

               Crippled men there lying,

               Seeing how He singing came,

               Marvelled at their sighing.

               Distant down the Road to Fame,

               When all else ceased singing,

               Messengers of music came--

               Little echoes winging

               Withered hearts with wings of flame--

               Fragments of Christ's singing.


               _Sing, sing,

               Spring and birth!

               A maid shall be mother of all the earth._

               Winter's bones lie bare and bleak,

               Scattered white on the mountain peak.

               Through stark woods the Madonna Spring

               Glides with her unborn offering.

               Where she treads dead flowers stir

               And raise their heads to gaze after her,

               And trees make dense their boughs with green

               That her motherhood may not be seen.

               Summer lies hid 'neath her girlish breast;

               Till her babe is bom she shall find no rest.

               Yet is she glad in her wandering

               And weaves meek songs 'gainst her mothering.

               _Birth, birth,

               Lave and mirth!

               Spring is Madonna of all the earth_.


               Son of God, thou little child

               O'er whose sleep the Virgin smiled,

               Guard us, though this night be wild,

               From Lilith--Lilith.

               Guard us, though our watch be slack,

               Guard us, though the night be black,

               Though this night all stars should lack

               From Lilith--Lilith.

               Stay her steps from drawing nigh,

               Kiss my baby lest he cry,

               And she hear him, and he die

               From Lilith--Lilith.

               Son of God, thou little child

               O'er whose sleep the Virgin smiled,

               May his soul be unbeguiled

               By Lilith--Lilith.


               Is there light of moon or sun

               In the land where thou hast gone?

               Does the rush of wind and rain

               Smite thy woodlands green again?

               Do dawn-birds rise up and sing,

               Sunrise. Sunrise," heralding?

               Dost thou fear, as once, the stark

               Hours of panther-footed dark?

               Oh, little maiden, sweetly frail,

               Naught can these empty words avail.

               For thee I clasp God's mantle fast,

               Praying till night is overpast.



                        _"Bianca of the yellow hair,

               With witch-face white as ivory,

               Yield to our might that we may bear

               Thy body back to Rimini."_

               And thus the foemen cried all day

               And strove to daunt with fierce display

               Of armoured strength her maiden heart,

               So that with them she might depart

               From out that hill-tower where with three

               She'd held the pass right fearlessly--

               So that with them she might depart

               To shameful death in Rimini.

               Bianca, child of Abramo

               The despot lord of Reggio,

               Had set our country-side on flame

               With the binning torch of her beauty's fame,

               And a deadman's hate of her deadly name.

               For she had gazed with cold gray eyes

               On Rufo--he now starkly lies

               Deep in a sculptured sepulchre,

               Smitten with death through love of her.

               Rufo, the heir of Ugo Count

               Qf Rimini and vast amount

               Of warrior-men and chivalry,

               Had come to claim her haughtily;

               But had scorched his soul in her golden hair.

               As a wounded beast creeps to his lair,

               So he vilely died by slow degrees

               Of heart-break and a sore disease,

               Till his eyes grew glazed and ceased to stir,

               And his life gave out for his love of her.

               Then Ugo swore a mighty oath,

               By God's own Christ and by Christ's truth,

               Though I go unarmed and go alone,

               For my son's death she shall atone.

               I'll take this witch of Reggio

               And through the flames will make her go,

               Till her sweet red lips grow cracked and sere,

               Till her eyes are scarred and mad with fear,

               Till her false young tongue cannot speak love's


               Till her tender feet drop off with flame--

               Till she hath naught left that men desire

               She shall pass and pass through consuming fire."

               This was the oath which he did swear

               When he cursed her face in his hate of her.

               So Ugo rode on Reggio

               And called on the name of Abramo,

               Claiming the body of her who wrought

               Love's enchantments and made distraught

               The souls of the lovers who came to her,

               And told of the oath which he did swear.

               They bade him stand without the wall

               And bore his tidings to the hall.

               From early mom he stood till eve,

               And still no message did receive.

               When night was falling, dusk and dim,

               A city harlot drew nigh to him

               And grayly glimmered along the wall,

               And stopped where the Count was standing tall.

               What news," he cried, "from Abramo,

               Must I raze this city of Reggio?"

               He reared his plume to its towering height.

               She leaned far out in the waning light.

               He clutched with one hand his saddle-bow

               And saw her smile when she answered, "No,"

               And spat on his face and strained down on


               He rode away 'neath the crescent rim

               Of a new-made moon through an olive-grove,

               And evil passions within him strove;

               In anger he gained the shining sea

               Which silvers the shores of Rimini.

               There he made great stir and called out his men,

               And marshalled their ranks on a level fen,

               And clothed them in black and gave beside

               His knights black stallions which to ride,

               And ordered no singing. "For," said he,

               We mourn one dead in Rimini."

               Over the hills he caused to go

               His sombre ranks to Reggio;

               Through pleasant valleys and dew-drenched woods

               His horsemen paced in their sable hoods

               With no shrill of bugle or revelry,

               Like angels of Death's dread company.

               At night they stole to the dty-wall

               And clustered beneath the ramparts tall;

               And hearkened for noise of warlike din,

               And found no breath of strife within;

               And watched for lights in the houses' eyes,

               And saw but the stars within the skies.

               Then as one voice they raised the shout,

               The echo eddied their cry about,

               We call on you men of Reggio

               To give us the daughter of Abramo,

               That she pass and pass through consuming fire

               Till she hath naught left that men desire.

               Give us the daughter of Abramo."

               Swift and dread, dark-robed and dim,

               Like thunder about a crater's brim,

               They surged round the city at dead of night

               And chased their shadows in stately flight,

               And swept the circle with beating hoof,

               And flashed their blades on high as proof

               Of the hate they had; nor ceased to moan

               Like men long dead 'neath the charnel-stone,

               Give us the daughter of Abramo."

               The dawn was groping up the sky,

               An early bird was heard to cry;

               Forth from the gate with haunted eyes

               Four figures crept in leper's guise,

               And two had long and yellow hair

               And none had face or body bare.

               Swiftly they ran from tree to tree

               And wound their way all secretly

               Through gloom and grove to the rising sun,

               And through that day did onward run

               Till evening came, and they drew at length

               To the lonely might and granite strength

               Of the hill-tower in the narrow pass

               Where refuge and a safety was.

               Then did they lock and bar the door

               And armed themselves, for they knew before

               Another moon should flood the sky

               They would hear Count Ugo's hunting cry,

               Yield to us, daughter of Abramo."

               Two frail maids, two boyish men,

               Lovers all in the good days when

               Only the sun was in the sky

               Nor clouds of grief came trailing by;

               Two brave maids and two brave men

               Now, in an hour of darkness, when

               Only the clouds were in the sky

               Loved more dearly than formerly.

               Corrado, page of Bianca's court,

               Had loved his mistress and long had sought

               To speak his heart but feared, for he

               Was a love-child owned of no family.

               Celia was her half-sister,

               Wondrous sweet and like to her,

               So like that she had fled lest she

               For Bianca's self should mistaken be.

               Ciro, son of a noble name,

               Loved this girl, therefore he came

               To give his life, if need should be,

               He loved her life so utterly.

               Oft in the hush of a summer's night

               When earth has rest from the savage might

               Of flaming suns, and starlight sheds

               Kindness of dew on flowers' heads,

               And birds have got them away to rest,

               These lads had whispered breast to breast

               Of the joy they felt and happy thrills

               When they heard so much as the shaken frills

               Of these they loved in the passing by;

               And then, betwixt a sob and sigh,

               Had dreamed of a day when they should wed.

               Vain dream! Vain dream! now here, instead,

               With Bianca fled to the hill-side tower

               They should strain and hearken hour by hour,

               With clutching hands and bated breath,

               For man's last bride--the Woman, Death.

               And thus they sat a lengthy while

               Till one face lit with a wandering smile:

               Come now, my lords," Bianca said,

               Why sit ye heavy-eyed and sad?

               Men say ye each have loved a maid;

               Surely, I think, I should be glad

               To draw so near for an hour or two

               The maid I loved, though well I knew

               The early mom should find me dead."

               Then he who loved her, laughed and said,

               Yea, lady mine, I will be bold

               Too long my love hath lain untold;

               Yet mine was not an unshared sorrow

               But grief for thine and thy sad to-morrow

               If my lord, thy father, fail to send

               His cavalry."

                        'God will defend

               His maid," she said, "God will provide.

               But, if to Rimini I ride,

               I shall be glad recalling this,

               That thou did'st not withhold thy kiss

               When all my loves had forsaken me."

               Aye love, brief love, sweet love," sighed he,

               Thou art more than life--far more, far more."

               So through that night, by the fast-locked door,

               They spake of lové till they drooped to sleep,

               Nor heard at dawn the wary creep

               Of one who traced the outer-wall,

               And found the marks of their foot-fall.

               When mists were lifting off the sky

               They sprang from dreams at a sudden cry,

               And gazed with startled eyes around:

               "'Tis naught," they laughed, "'twas a country


               A late-awakened bird did call,

               A wind blew through the water-fall.

               'Tis naught--'tis naught."

               But afar they heard

               A wail not made by beast or bird;

               A hungry moan, long-drawn and low,

               "Give us the daughter of Abramo."

               She stretched her arms along the wall

               And leant aside as she would fall,

               And cowered low 'neath her yellow hair

               As though its weight were too much to bear.

               And, "Oh, sweet God, dear God," she cried,

               Hark how they come! They ride, they ride!

               What ill have I ever done to Thee

               That men should bum my fair body?

               Stoop from Thy skies and succour me."

               "Yea, God hath stooped. Fear not, dear heart,

               For I and Ciro will play God's part,

               And Celia sweet shall comfort thee

               While we brand these dogs of Rimini."

               With hurried feet they clomb the stair

               And quickly gained the outer air,

               And ghostly saw through the morning haze

               The winding funeral arrays

               Of Ugo's knights and warrior-men.

               Dumbly they watched, and heard often

               Their hunting cry borne down the breeze.

               Corrado laughed with an ugly ease,

               And thus it is he comes with these:

               Strong stallions, lances, Genoese--

               To take one slim and fragrant girl!

               Oh, Ciro mine, our hands shall hurl

               These valiant fighters from the wall,

               Though we be lads and they be tall.

               If God there be above us all,

               Then love shall give us strength this day."

               Down on the stones they kneeled to pray

               That He who brought their lives to be

               Should crown their loves with victory.

               They rose and flew their heraldry:

               An evening star, a saffron sea,

               And on the sea, the star below,

               The dry-shod pard of Reggio.

               No answer made the sable foe,

               But round the tower, with footsteps slow,

               Paced till his journeys numbered three;

               Then from the host one silently,

               Thrust on a spear for mockery,

               And raised the head of Abramo.

               Swift round the tower in mirthless rout

               They raced and tossed the words about,

                   _"Bianca of the yellow hair,

               With witch-face white as ivory,

               Yield to our might that we may bear

               Thy body back to Rimini,_"

               'Twas thus the foemen cried all day

               And strove to daunt with fierce display

               Of armoured strength her maiden heart,

               So that with them she might depart

               To shameful death in Rimini.

               Bianca, in the vault below,

               Crouched at her prayers and did not know

               This death, and of her father's shame;

               But heard their shouts and heard her name.

               Oh, little hands," she softly sighed,

               Wherefore should ye be crucified,

               What have ye done that men should see

               Naught in your grace, save witchery?

               Oh, yellow hair, so like the sun,

               What is this sin that thou hast done

               That men should have such hate of thee?

               And sweet grave face of ivory,

               So made for love and for desire,

               Why should they crave thee for the fire?

               Fire of love was meant for thee."

               Her sister bent and kissed the hands

               Which hung straight down like two white wands,

               And hid her lips in a yellow tress,

               And kissed the breasts where they met the dress,

               And laid her cheek on the weary face

               To wipe away each tear's distress,

               To cleanse of grief each grievous place.

               And this for thee," she said and kissed.

               And this for thee," and held each wrist.

               And this for thee," and met the lips.

               As priest in sacred water dips

               His hand at last confessional

               To purge each thoroughfare of sense

               And bring again lost innocence,

               So she made pure and perfect all.

               Shrill through their peace shrieked the battle-


               Per Jesum Christum! Reggio!

               Have at them Death! They fall, they fall!"

               And hoarse, hard-breathed, the wall below,

               Surged up the wrath of the hungry foe,

               Give USs the daughter of Abramo."

               Fierce through that day the struggle went,

               And blood was spilt and swords were bent.

               The sun sank bloody in the West;

               The day died bitter and unblest.

               The mountains strained against the sky

               And angrily, as they would try

               To wrench from earth their trampled gowns.

               An eagle o'er the upland downs

               Hung poised, then beat his wings, as he

               Refused to share man's cruelty.

               At nightfall, when the host withdrew,

               A spearman, whom they counted dead,

               In dying strength raised up his head

               And sped a poisoned dart, which slew

               Ciro, who from the tower's height

               Leaned out to watch the evening light.

               And thus of four there remained but three.

               Celia clomb the winding stair

               And thought of how her yellow hair

               Could save the three, if she should dare

               To yield herself to Rimini.

               For I am very like to her,"

               She said, "so like that if I were

               To feign myself for my sister

               By night--this night if I should go,

               I think the Count would never know

               Till they were safe and I was burned."

               The last bend in the stair she turned

               And halted as she gained the roof,

               And stretched her gaze abroad for proof

               Of where her lover might keep guard.

               There, where a shafted moonbeam barred

               An alcove of gray masonry,

               His face shone out, so tranquilly

               She thought him sleeping; but his eyes

               Were wide, intent on her and wise

               Beyond the sight of living men.

               Softly she called to him and, when

               He answered not, 'twas then she knew. . .

               She kissed his forehead, and withdrew

               Her tired feet adown the stair.

               Bianca kneeled entranced in prayer

               And noticed not her passing by,

               But counted fast her rosaRy.

               Corrado, touched upon the arm,

               Reeled as he turned in fierce alarm.

               She said, "We change the watch this hour.

               I will abide; guard you the tower."

               Then, as he set his foot to go,

               Kiss me, dear friend, for you must know

               We may not ever meet again,

               This war has brought us so much pain."

               He gazed on her a tender while,

               And wondered at the gracious smile

               Around her lips. "While we are four,"

               He said, "we need not fear this war;

               Love is more than life ... far more, far more."

               She answered, "Not while we are four."

               Ah, have no fear at all," he said;

               "She prays for us, see how her head

               Is bowed in reverence to God."

               He took his sword and clanking trod

               The stone-paved vault and winding stair,

               Till she could judge him mounting where

               Another turn would bring to sight

               Her dead love's face in the shafted light

               Where the moonbeam washed the turret white.

               She bared her feet and crept the floor,

               With eager hands wrenched loose the door,

               And weeping passed into the night.

               The dawn thrust up a wild white face

               And stared toward the lonely place,

               Where through the vigil, hour by hour,

               Corrado guarded well the tower.

               It seemed his own reflected face,

               So wannish and so wide of eye;

               The lips moved and he caught their sigh,

               I am thyself and I must die."

               Thus did he learn the uttermost,

               The live man meeting his own ghost,

               And knew that surely he must die.

               The sun flashed up; the face was fled.

               By night he knew he must be dead.

               He leaned beyond the parapet

               To scan the rocky pass if yet

               Some help might wind around the hill.

               The morning air was very still;

               He heard the noise of climbing feet,

               Of something dragged across the peat,

               And saw two knights who, drawing near,

               Bore that which clogged his heart with fear--

               A white gown, sown with golden threads

               Which held the light as do the meads

               When dandelions toss their heads

               Mid meadow-sweet and field-clover,

               Which poppy-leaves drift red over--

               A long white gown and smirched with red,

               And hands so still, they must be dead.

               They laid her on a grass-grown bank

               And loosed about her neck the stole,

               So that her gold hair round her sank

               To frame a burning aureole.-

               How now, ye dogs of Rimini,

               What crime is this that ye have done

               To show to God's new-risen sun,

               Which he will tell God secretly?"

               And one in shame drew back a pace,

               And one raised up his vizored face,

               No crime, Sir Knave. God's work, I trow.

               Give us the witch, and we will go--

               The match to this, from Reggio."

               We have no witch, as well ye know."

               But, as he spake, he heard with pain

               Their scornful laugh.

               To make things plain,

               The black knight pitched his voice and said

               And pointed, "Ho sir, turn your head;

               The witch stands by you even now."

               The world across his eyes and brow

               Streamed scarlet. By his side she stood,

               Her eyes bent on a distant wood

               Wherein the shadows came and went,

               Where horsemen from their stallions leant

               All eager for the bugle cry.

               We fight in vain," he heard her sigh,

               God wills it thus, that I should die."

               Nay, courage, sweetheart, while I stand

               With strength to grasp a sword in hand

               No harm shall come thee nigh nor by."

               But she had seen that on the hill

               Which made her moan, so that she still

               Kept looking and, "Oh, Christ," she sobbed,

               What is that thing so palely robed?"

               Her shadow slid throughout the space

               Until it reached across the face

               Of that dead maid, until their lips

               Strained to the kiss, their finger-tips

               Met at the touch.

               The enemy

               Shouted, "A witch, yea, verily,

               See how her shade feeds on the dead."

               Oh, I must go to her," she said:

               She sleeps alone, alone, alone."

               Her thin hands grazed against the stone,

               So blindly did she walk, her throat

               Stretched back, her hair far out did float

               Like sun-clouds following the sun.

               He followed her, passed down the stair,

               On through the vault and halted where

               She paused to swing the iron door;

               Then, out upon the trampled moor.

               There, where the dead girl lay, she knelt

               And made of her fair arms a belt

               Around the corse; there, with her hair,

               Wiped clean the face of earth and blood;

               There, with her mouth, rebuked the stare

               Of those strange eyes; last, made all good

               By placing in the hands for rood

               That which she pluck't from out the breast.

               They watched if God should stand the test.

               Ah, see," she cried, "God is awake,

               The dagger's bloodstains weep and make

               Large tears of red: the metal bleeds!"

               If Lord God is awake and heeds,

               He must heed quickly." So he said,

               For wading up the river-bed,

               Half-hid between its tree-topped banks,

               He caught the gleam of horses' flanks

               And, mingled with the water's flow,

               The low-breathed panting of the foe.

               Yea, God doth heed, and even now

               His finger burns across each brow

               His final lettering of doom:

               Not one of these beyond Hell's gloom

               Shall thrive to win a Heavenly home."

               The words fell so remote and meek

               She seemed not her own self to speak,

               But with her eyes to voice the spell

               Which should bring true the oracle.

               He caught her hand. "Come quick,"


               Come back, dear heart! See where they ride

               With sword in hand across the grass

               To thwart us, so we may not pass

               Within the tower-gate."

                   "Too late,"

               She said: "We may not win the gate.

               Yet now, true friend, though I must burn

               At Rimini, time is to learn

               One little lesson more of love:

               What would you?"

               "That I die your knight."

               Eh, truly?" So she held above

               And touched him with his jagged sword,

               And whispered low the crowning word

               Which flooded all his face with light.

               He said, "I shall not fear to die."

               She raised him, smiling wondrously,

               Nor I to ride to Rimini,

               When you have died my knight."

               Twelve lancers circled into sight.

               Count Ugo gallopped through the green

               And laughed at that which he had seen.

               And yet one lover more?" scoffed he,

               God's death, you use them royally;

               Maids grow less bold in Rimini."

               My only lover and my last,"

               She said. He scowled and caught her fast,

               Twisting his steel-glove in her hair,

               Jerked back her head, her eyes on him,

               So that her throat and breasts shone bare

               Above her corset's jewelled rim.

               Too good for fuel," he hissed, "too fair;

               Yet those pale cheeks, this yellow hair,

               Were not too good to deal out death.

               Eh? Hark to what the vixen saith,

               'She did not sin, nor meant to kill.'

               My son lies dead, say what you will;

               Lies dead because of you, you witch,

               While leprous things in our town's ditch

               Crawl, mate, and spawn beneath God's sky;

               Therefore. . .

               He raised his hand on high

               As he would smite her upturned face.

               A sword leapt flashing down through space

               And lopt the coward at the joint.

               Corrado on his blade's red point

               Pricked up the hand, "Tis thus we use

               Our dastard knights, whose hands abuse

               Our womenfolk in Reggio."

               The thunder rumbled long and low.

               Oh hark," she cried, "God is awake;

               He walks communing for our sake."

               Yea, He hath sent me here to take

               Your wilful body to the fire,

               Till all is marred that men desire.

               Slay me that boy," Count Ugo said.

               One, who stood near, smote off his head.

               She hid her eyes so as not to see,

               Shuddered, swung round convulsively,

               Stooped as a broken lily dips

               To kiss the water--kissed his lips;

               Then dumbly rode to Rimini.

               And every pace the march along

               The hunters sang their hunting song,

                   _" Bianca of the yellow hair,

               With witch-face white as ivory,

               Thy tender body back we bear

               To die the death in Rimini."_

               Within the lands of rising night

               And fields of departing day,

               What hours we wandered, you and I,

               How fain were we to stay!

               Star-flowers were in your maiden hands--

               The stars were white with May.

               Between moon-set and morning sun

               Where mist of the Dreamland lies,

               What glory there was yours and mine,

               What love was in our eyes!

               For Sleep and Love walk hand-in-hand,

               And Sleep with morning flies.

               Our star-lit land was wholly ours,

               No warning of beast or bird

               Perturbed the twilight of our peace,

               No watchers' tread was heard;

               We dwelt alone and loved alone,

               Naught save our lips was stirred.

               Would that this holiest mystery

               Might come again to me!

               The radiance of thy moon-lit face,

               The eyes of purity--

               The wide gray eyes, the beckoning lips,

               The silent cloudland sea.


               In frenzied haste, by legioned shadows pressed,

               The Chariot of Charity in flight

               Glittered along the Parapet of Night,

               With wheels of gold fast whirling to the West.

               Bridging with flame the barricaded Deep,

               It strove with sparking hoof and spangled heat,

               Where those twin rivers, Death and Life, retreat,

               And surge across the Agony of Sleep.

               I, to my casement, stark with horror crept;

               Day tottered tall, and breathed a shuddering


               Wading, knee-deep, the turgid fords of Death,

               He clomb the cloven cliff of Dawn--and leapt.

               A hand of ivory caught up the rein;

               The Chariot rolled back superb again.


               We shall not always dwell as now we dwell,

               Together 'neath one home-protecting roof.

               For some of us our lives may not go well:
               'Gainst such small perils courage will be proof,
               'Gainst stronger ills these memories may be proof;

               To some of us this life may say farewell--

               We cannot always dwell as now we dwell.

               What though we dwell not then as now we dwell?

               Hearts can recover hearts, when hearts are fain;

               While love stays with us everything is well;

               The roof of love is proof against the rain,

               Dead hands will guard our hearts against the rain--

               Love will abide when all have said farewell:

               Our hearts may ever dwell as now they dwell.


               When my love was nigh me

               Naught had I to say:

               Then I feigned a false love--

               And turned my lips away.

               When my love lay dying,

               Sorrowing I said,

                   'Soon shall I wear scarlet,

               Because my love is dead.'

               When my love had vanished,

               Then was nothing said:

               I forgot the scarlet

               For tears--and bowed my head.


               Not with a cry, nor with the stifled sound

               Of one who 'neath Death's billows of Despair

               Thrusts up blue lips toward the outer air,

               Searching if any breathing may be found;

               Who plucks with groping finger-tips to rend

               The water's edges for a fraction's space,

               Through which he may push up his haggard face

               For one last look--the last before the end.

               As a broad river, having journeyed far

               Constrained by banks--too often fretfully--

               'Neath a full moon goes rocking out to sea

               Sombred by night, cheered by a rising star,

               So may my days move murmurously to rest,

               Throbbed through with Death who knew Life's

                        sorrows best.


               Untriend to man and darkly passionate,

               Sneering in solitude, wide-winged for flight

               Lest one, from all our world, should read thee right

               And pity thee thy self-lured madman's fate,

               Why did'st thou strive so well to tempt our hate?

               Are we not comrades through the self-same night?

               The Caravan of Kindness, out of sight,

               We also follow--and arrive o'erlate.

               Thou, having failed thy Heaven, did'st scoff in


               Fiercely disguising, too much thou did'st dare;

               We caught the jangle of the cap and bell,

               And seeking, saw a quivering heart laid bare

               When thou wast dead--a sequel which did spell

               The pangs of love--"only a woman's hair."

[_N. B. "In a note in his biography, Scott says that his friend,
Doctor Tuke of Dublin, has a lock of Stella's hair, enclosed in
a paper by Swift, on which are written, in the Dean's hand,
the words: 'Only a woman's hair.' An instance, says Scott,
of the Dean's desire to veil his feelings under the mask of
cynical indifference."--Thackeray in his Essay on Dean Swift._]

               Years hence we two--I who wept yesterday,

               You who with death-chilled hands unheeding lay--

               Gazing from Heaven adown the sky's wild face,

               Seeing this pigmy planet churning space,

               Do you remember?" then we two shall say,

               Quite in the dear old-fashioned worldly way,

               Do you remember, in a former age,

               What happened in that girdled finite cage?"

               And you, through joy having forgot your pain,

               Laughing will shake your head and rack your brain,

               Clasping my hand and thinking all in vain.

               No," you will say, "it is a distant way

               From grief to God; my memories go astray."

               Then, I, staring athwart the jewelled pit

               Which God hath dug between the infinite

               And the great little loss of death's decay,

               Will tell you all that happened yesterday.

               Don't you recall, dear, how the fierce blow came?

               Earth was at Spring-tide, all the fields aflame;

               Hope was just freed from Winter's servitude

               And songsters through the tree-tops he had strewed,

               And promises of greenness in the wood,

               While you, dear, grew in grace to womanhood."

               Then you: "I would remember if I could,

               But all is vague. Faint, like a far off strain,

               I catch the rustle of field-flowers again

               And hear the muffled skirmish of the rain."

               Don't you recall, dear, anything of pain?"

               Nothing," you whisper.

               Then I tell to you

               How in a week from life to death you grew,

               Your spirit yearning Godward, as did fail

               The strength of your white body, lily-pale;

               How through long nights and seven too brief


               I held you fast, and flattered God with praise,

               Calling Him every kind endearing name,

               Hoping my love would fill His heart with shame

               Of doing that deed which He meant to do.

               What happened?"

               God was wise and He took you."


               "Ah yes, dearest, human loves are strange;

               Change seems so final in a world of change.

               Through the last night I watched your fluttering


               Desperate lest the unseen hand of Death

               Should touch you, still you e'er I was aware,

               Leaving me nothing save your golden hair

               And the wide doors of an abandoned place,

               And the wise smiling of your quiet face--

               The perishable chalice of your grace.

               "'In Heaven they all are serious,' so you said

               In your delirium. You shake your head,

               Denying what I surely heard you say.

               Since then you've seen the boys and girls at


               Climbing the knees of God.

                   "Listen again.

               Far out across the gulf you see a stain--

               Follow my hand--a smudge, a blur of gray;

               That is the world. Though you forget the day,

               We lived there once, suffered, had joy, laughed,


               And in sweet worship of each other moved.

               Then you fell sick and, while I held your hand,

               One took you ....

               "Ah, you do not understand!

               Only field-flowers you remember well.

               This seems an idle fable that I tell;

               Then never trouble, dear; forget the pain.

               See, here comes God; perhaps He will explain."


               In the glad month of May,

               When morning was breaking,

               She rose from her body

               And vanished away.

               From a tree cloaked in gray

               A shrill bird kept calling,

               "Come quick. God is waiting.

               He cannot delay."

               We had no heart to pray,

               But, seeing her glory,

               Said, "Go, little sister;

               God needs you to-day."

               Very stilly she lay:

               The bird had ceased calling--

               We let in the morning

               And kissed her dear clay.


               The lilies bloom above her head

               All unaware that she is dead.

               The small brown birds, with folded wing,

               Do not one whit less blithely sing.

               The sun goes on his usual round,

               Seeking die quiet she has found.

               And God looks down on everything,

               And that is why the small birds sing.


               Here, sweet, we lay

               Thy sorrow and pain,

               Earth will resolve them to gladness again.

               Lily-white hands

               To lilies shall grow;

               Breath of thy body in breezes shall blow.

               Languor and grief,

               These Death could slay;

               God took the portion which cannot decay.

               Thou hast thy joy,

               We have thy pain;

               Flame of a soul I shall know thee again.


               Out of the blackness into the light,

               From birth to death--a swallow's flight.

               Stars burning fainter, onward we strive.

               Cauldron of dawn! The East's alive.

               Joy in the journey, joy at the last;

               Day in its splendour--darkness past!

               In life's beginning clouds to be trod;

               At its brave ending, sunrise--God.

               From the veiled Hereafter

               Whither you have fled,

               Snatches of your laughter

               Vaguely wed

               With rustling of field-flowers,


               Guarded by God's towers,

               I have heard.

               God, in His compassion,

               Left Death's gate ajar

               So our faith might fashion

               Where you are;

               God's Mother walks beside you,


               And Lord Christ doth guide you,

               Through that Land.


               If God should come to me and say,

               Your little maiden, whom I took away

               But yesterday,

               I will give back to you again,

               If so you say, when you have seen the pain

               I did refrain

               In love from letting her endure.

               I knew death's surgery the only cure

               For one so pure.

               Joy in my breast is sure."

               Then should He show me all the way,

               Weary at whiles, her feet must stray,

               Had He decreed her death's delay,

               How should I choose? What should I say?


               I watched for her in the night,

               I watched for her in the day--

               But how could I hope to find her

               When her body had gone away?

               I spoke to her in the rooms

               Where she had been wont to play--

               But how could my dearest answer

               When her body had gone away?

               I searched for her in my heart,

               And when it unfroze to pray,

               I knew that we shared one mortal house

               Since hers had resolved to clay.


               Life without thee would be, dearest,

               Eyes without sight;

               Death, if thou stood'st not nearest,

               Night without light.

               Since thou Death's token wearest,

               Freedom from strife,

               This I have learnt, my dearest,

               Death's name is Life.


               We prayed that unto you, dear,

               God's best gifts might be given;

               We wished to strew for you, dear,

               Earth's paths with Heaven.

               We planned your life a May-day

               When young flowers should be bom,

               That you might stray the smooth way

               Of gold-robed Morn.

               We dared more than we knew, dear;

               When half God's gifts were given,

               He answered all our prayers, dear--

               He gave you Heaven.

               The shepherd is dead men tell me,

               He died upon a tree

               When Springtide was befalling

               Field-flowers in Galilee;

               But whenever the wind is blowing

               Straight out from the East or West,

               I can hear his brave voice calling,

               "Come after me. Come after me.

               Rise up, rise up and follow me--

               I am Christ, thy rest."

               Then, rising I quickly gird me,

               For wherever Christ may be,

               The land where he is staying

               He turns to Galilee;

               Through whose vales when the wind is blowing

               From meadows his feet have blest,

               He aye calls to his loved ones saying,

               Come after me. Come after me.

               Rise up, rise up and follow me--

               Where I am, is rest."

               I seek him in every day,

               I travel land and sea

               From dawn till dusk is falling

               And God hangs lamps for me.

               But whenever the wind is blowing,
               'Tis then that I find him best;

               For I hear his brave voice calling,

               In seeking me, thou followest me;

               Then where thou art is Galilee,

               And I am--thy rest."


               Lord, there is music in my world to-day.

               For this I thank Thee; once again I hear

               The foamy clash of cymbals and the grave

               Hoarse-throated shout of brass which is repulsed,

               And the clear triumph of unvanquished pipes--

               Battles against stringed instruments and fifes

               Which angels wage from organ-stops in Heaven.

               I, through the hostile grating of my cell,

               Can tiptoe just discern where warrior clouds

               Chum smoking broken waters in their wakes,

               Which unseen challengers, the winds, do chase,

               Drowning their anger to a tranquil depth,

               Till in blue sky-weed unrevenged they lie

               Like gaunt Armada galleons long since sunk.

               So all is calm again, and I look out

               With prison'd eyes upon Thy travelling world.

               A breath of flowers is in the air to-day,

               Spring flowers which have not bloomed for many


               Which, for my sake, have come to life this day.

               I cannot see them, they grow far from here

               With feet entangled in the green, gray earth.

               They too are prisoners from their earliest birth,

               Yet they have flung their fragrance forth to me

               That I, a captive mind, may share their joy.

               Now, as I listen, laughter dies away;

               In Earth's tall tree-tops, dim and out of sight,

               I hear the mining beak of one small bird,

               Striving for freedom with its puny strength.

               Now the shell breaks; it struggles into life;

               Its mother's wings enfold it; it is safe.

               Far down beneath the nest the forest sighs,

               Swaying its branches, as it too would say,

               _"I will protect thee from the driving rain,

               My leaves shall cover thee, so have no dread_"

               I also in my ruined strength would pray,

               "_God grant thee rest, and shelter thee from fear_"

               If I should live the seasons round again

               And God vouchsafe me one more summer's day

               Of utter peace, perchance thy voice I'll hear

               Trilling in confidence from some cool glade--

               And thus my madman's prayer will be repaid.

               Laughter breaks forth again; the world is glad.

               There's music in the very rocks to-day.

               Yea, through my sullen bars the red sun peers

               And stains my confines with his golden smile;

               God shakes His happiness abroad to-day.

               See, I will rake this yellow harvest home

               And treasure it against a sadder hour,

               When Winter's mantled all our stars in night.

               When that shall be, I'll paint my walls with gold,

               Loosen my breast and let the sun's rays free,

               Re-capture them and hoard them up again;

               And so will halt the summer at its prime.

               Lord, I am mad; but Thou canst heal my mind.

               Once, not long since--long after Thou hadst made

               And bastioned with grace my living soul--

               Thou, in a careless hour, didst plan my frame,

               Moulding my body from the oozy day;

               But, just before Thy task was most complete,

               Didst nod, and drowse, and waking didst forget

               Thy task unfinished--so was I bom mad;

               So was my perfect soul a bondsman made

               To serve vile lusts of my imperfect brain.

               Hast Thou to-day remembered Thy mistake?

               This mom I wakened, found that I was sane,

               Beheld the East as no unchartered dread

               Threat'ning the world with universal fire,

               But as Thy kindness held aloft for men;

               Then craned I forth my hands to dutch Thy winds,

               Nor shrank from them as fore-runners of Death.

               Father, before the Darkness falls again,

               Before my soul wends backward to the Night,

               Grant unto me Thy earliest gift to Man,

               Form me in image godlike to Thyself.

               Is it beyond Thy power to make me well?

               Thou weakling God! then send me down Thy


               He whose strong pity hath dethroned Thy might,

               And made a man a worthier god than Thou:

               For he in peasant lands of Galilee

               Did love, and love, and love till his heart brake;

               He took away the anguish of men's pain

               By spending all their pain on his own life;

               He drove away the shadows from men's minds

               By giving them himself, who was the Light.

               Ah Christ, that thou hadst not been crucified!

               Wert thou still living by the fishers' lake,

               Then thou hadst heard me half across the world;

               Though from the Andes, I had cried to thee,

               Still hadst thou heard, and come from Palestine

               Only to stretch thy cooling hands on me,

               Only to rest thy cooling hands in mine--

               Those gentle hands, by bleeding feet borne thence.


               When Pleasure's found,

               Away with the tear;

               Grief's a starved hound,

               Pursued by lean Fear.

               Life is a round

               Of languor and pain;

               When Joy is found,

               Go forth not again.

               Music's a sound

               Which guides men to rest;

               Love is the bound

               That ends every quest.

               Lie down to rest,

               Slay fragile Pain,

               Vanquish lean Fear,

               Away with the Tear.

               Finish thy quest

               And strive not again.

               Sick I had been, and very sore afraid,

               Baffled of life, and lost to every hope,

               Hounded by dread, pursued and left dismayed

               Standing alone, abandoned and afraid.

               Then did I ask, "What now is left to say?

               Why should I question? Wherefore should I


               Man was made thus, to fail and creep away;

               Thus was Man made, and there is naught to say."

               Oh, I was weak, and blind with too much pain,

               Bankrupt and blind, all feeble in my tread;

               Would I might touch one friendly hand again--

               Find love to rid me of this too much pain."

               I spoke in fear, and knew not what I said,

               Thought not of anguish hands of love must share,

               Lonely I was, because my hope was dead,

               Yearning and sad. I knew not what I said.

               Then did One come who laid His hands in mine,

               One who did kiss my poor unseeing eyes,

               Tenderly led to where the stars do shine,

               Speaking kind words, He placed His hands in mine.

               There did I see the trees go riding by

               Moved by the wind, and heard the nightingale

               Carol and slur, and sing, and sob, and sigh,

               Wing-mounted moths, and angels riding by.

               Then did I seek to see the healing friend;

               But He had vanished. I was left alone.

               There, where He stood, my body I did bend,

               Weeping in prayer, to Him my healing friend.


               Peace unto thee

               Wherever thou art,

               Childlike companion,

               Friend of my heart.

               Joy unto thee

               Dear image of God;

               Flowers are blowing

               Where thou hast trod.

               Peace unto thee

               And respite from pain;

               Whiteness of raiment,

               Freedom from stain.

               Love unto thee,

               Remembrance of Heaven,

               Tokens of Jesus

               By angels given.

               Peace unto thee

               Wherever thou art,

               Christlike companion

               Made for my heart.


               We meet

               In a lamp-lit street,

               You and I--

               Life is sweet.

               Clouds' tumultuous feet

               Shake the sky;

               They are all in retreat--

               Death draws nigh.

               Life is sweet--

               With anonymous beat

               Crowds surge by.

               Only I

               And my sweet

               Dare to linger and greet.

               Your lips sigh,
               "Time is fleet."

               Stars repeat,

               "Life is sweet--

               Kiss her," they cry;
               "In an unlit street

               One day you must die."

               Thus we meet.


               Lord God of Cities, how long must we wait

               Bound in our Babylons of tawdry sin;

               Hast Thou so many other stars to win,

               Is greed of conquest so insatiate?

               Or does Omnipotence design to take

               Example from the flaws of childhood's years,

               And what of folly in Thy work appears

               Thou studiest for newer worlds' sweet sake?

               Nay, Thou art shamed of Thy first dwelling-place,

               And we are wearied; neither of us know

               How we may remedy Thy fault, and so

               With slow tired hands Thou coverest Thy face.

               Poor Man! foredoomed to spurn such love as this!

               Sad God! what grief to make a world amiss!


               Down in the mud again!

               Thank God I'm up again,

               On through the rife of rain.

               Clouds, in their height,

               Gleam where some moon shines whit<

               Thank God I'm up again!

               Stars are in sight,

               Or will be in sight

               This night or next night.

               God be praised for the sight!

               It's brave to be up again.

               If I should fall again,

               Why, I'll rise up again--

               On through the rush of rain

               Search out some light.

               Somewhere on wings of white--

               Praise God I'm up again--

               Something's in flight,

               Star-flight or dawn-flight,

               Hereward through the night.

               God be praised for such flight!

               It's glad to be up again.


               With tattered sail, as ships which driven are

               On whatsoever course the winds may list,

               Which every peaceful waterway have missed,

               And drift on open seas with shattered spar

               And gaping seam, which toss and sway and nod,

               Remote from sight of land and hope of aid,

               So is the canvassed, crude conveyance made

               In which Man journeys to the port of God.

               No pillow in his vessel rests the head

               Of one who, sleeping, has the power to save--

               Who, when the clouds fly far, can calm the wave

               And send it sobbing to the ocean bed.

               Storm follows storm, the waters run more high;

               Across the vain and vacant void of death

               We lilt with lifeless motion to each breath,

               And grope grotesquely on, yet cannot die.

               Oh, for a respite from this weary place,

               Or else to see but once the Master's face!


               With you the world's at evening-light,

               With me the world's at day;

               Yet in my heart I think 'tis night

               While you are far away:

               While you are far away, dear lad,

               While you are far away,

               There comes no dawn, nor change of light,

               Nor any hope in day.

               With you it nears the hour of sleep;

               With me 'tis time to pray,

               That God may guide you o'er His deep

               Back from the Far-Away;

               Home from the Far-Away, dear lad,

               Back from the Far-Away,

               That God may drift you home in sleep,

               And bring me back my day.

               Christ placed his hand in mine and said,

               Come, little child, for thou art mine."

               I kissed him', raising up my head,

               And whispered, "Yea, Lord, I am thine."

               We wandered through white clover-flowers

               Beside a murmuring brook all day;

               When night led back the dream-tide hours

               Within his shepherd arms I lay.

               Older I grew, until at last

               Unto a clanging town we came;

               Christ wept for me, but in I passed

               Alone. It was the town of Fame,

               Wherein are lands of diverse name--

               The Saffron East, the Purple West,

               Whose walls enclose a Crimson Shame

               But hold no Land of Quiet Rest.

               Weary I grew and sad, and lame,

               Until in scorn I heard one say,

               How to the gate there seeking came

               A wounded shepherd yesterday.

               Painfully at the stroke of dawn

               I to the open country crept;

               And on a distant dewy lawn

               I found Christ, while the city slept.

               My crippled hands in his, I said,

               O Lord and art thou truly mine?"

               Upon his breast he laid my head,

               Yea, little child, am I not thine?"

               News, sent from far away,

               Came unto me to-day,

               Only these words to say,

               Lo, he is dead."

               He, who to comfort me,

               Laughing right merrily,

               Said, "Think, how glad we'll be

               When I return."

               He, strumming out Hope's song

               Wending lone lands among,

               Swept Life's harp overstrong--

               Felt the strings break.

               I shall return, you know,"

               So he spake long ago;

               How brave our love must grow,"

               Wrote a week since.

               Then news, from far away,

               Came unto me this day,

               Only these words to say,

               Lo, _he_ is dead."

"_The Terror by Night: the Arrow by Day: the Pestilence
walking in Darkness: the Destruction wasting at Noonday._"

               Thou Demon Fear, Assassin of Delight,

               Who makest impotent Man's royal might,

               Turning to poverty his wealth of days

               With hushed pursuit of him in all his ways,

               Whence art thou come, from what dead land of


               Speak, only speak, occult, accursèd shade,

               Who ne'er to human eyes hast yet displayed

               Thine awful shape; ah, could we only hear

               Thy thin, pale voice! Thy ghastly step draws


               But bring not _thee_--therefore we grow afraid.

               What things men fear they do not dare to say

               Lest, thus provoked, Fate should no more delay

               But run on them and wreak those ills they dread:

               To Death we kneel, to God we bow the head;

               Yet of our fears we have the most dismay.

               We fear our fears, but thee, Oh Fear, we hate,

               For thou with all our sins art intimate

               As He who made us; crimes wrought long ago,

               Follies and half-faults, each one thou dost know

               And dost avenge with rods deliberate.

               Ah, were this all, our lives might yet go well

               For, since we suffer here the pains of Hell,

               Heav'n should be certain, Death--God's just


               But thou with vain forebodings dost conceive

               To break our hearts, and turn us infidel.

               Oh for that silence, virgin of all sound,

               Vast, uncalamitous which did abound

               When Darkness, drooping from Eternity,

               Trailed his slow pinions o'er Time's tideless


               Before Fear was called forth from underground.

               Then Quiet, from the Nothingness of Space,

               Gazed down on Chaos with untroubled face,

               Such as babes have who enter Life still-born;

               For Evening Strife, nor Hurricane of Morn,

               Had then perturbed God's wonted resting-place.

               Now, though through utterest lands we wend our


               We hear thy footstep, so we cannot stay;

               Yea, though we search out Peace in dreams by


               Too soon we know thee following our flight,

               And shrieking wake, and clamour for new-day.

               Only Man's bygone days are truly sweet:

               _This day_ is darkened by _To-morrow's_ threat,

               _To-morrow_ by the menace of  _To-day;_

               From out the Past is fled away for aye

               The grinding doubt of possible defeat.

               Ah, were we wise, our lives 'tis thus we'd spend:

               Because the Past glides onward without end,

               Engulfing _our _To-day and _our_ Hereafter,

               We'd greet This Day, or Next, with careless


               As 'twere the Past, and so our fortunes mend.

               Too weak are we, too diligent in doubt,

               This fiend with sage philosophy to flout;

               When all his lawful issue fail his need,

               Fear doth with harlot Fancy quickly breed

               Frenzy, to put Tranquillity to rout.

               Nightly earth's infants, garret-roofs beneath,

               Wake shuddering and hark, with indrawn breath

               And small clenched hands and faces woe-begone,

               Till through the creaking gloom there mounteth


               Whom they in ignorance mistake for Death.

               Nor are we braver when we older grow,

               For still "'Tis Death!" we sob. "'Tis Death! Ah


               Deep woe, is me!" whene'er thou drawest nigh:

               Therefore, Oh Fear, full many times men die

               And Dissolution's torments undergo.

               Man, who was made in image like to God,

               Whom angels tended wheresoe'er he trod

               With glad huzzas and harpings all the way,

               So that the untamed beasts allowed his sway,

               Cringes a coward 'neath thine up-raised rod.

               Secret Chastiser of our secret heart,

               Speak, but this once, to tell us who thou art;

               Whether the hound that runs before Death's


               Discrowned Imagination in retreat,

               Or Echo, of our own flight the counterpart

               Like God, most silent ever thou dost keep.

               Thine eyes must be as God's, which never sleep

               But watch, aye watch, and know us all in all.

               Oh, can it be, that thou art but the call

               Of God, the Shepherd, guarding o'er His sheep?


               Just to be true to one grand swift desire

               Which shall all other furious faiths outpace;

               To run with strength an uncontested race

               Till, knowing how the soul is catching fire

               And generous flame is clambering through the


               For Self, what though heroic, is not best--

               I grasp my life and hurl it with the rest,

               Joining myself to God--a puny part.

               One holy thing to fail for--thus to die;

               To give men love, who knew before remorse;

               Then, meekly seek with Christ some scornful


               But leave the world more kind in passing by--

               In piercing through the covering doth of night

               To lodge one star, and vanish strong in flight.

               Kiss me," she said, "for I must die

               Ere any star his flight hath ta'en,

               And cold and unperturbed shall lie

               When Night doth pace our earth again.

               And thou, dear love, if thou should'st weep,

               And if thy heart with anguish break,

               From sweet sad dreams thy solace take

               And lose thy pain in painless sleep.

               Kiss me, dear love, for I must die

               And cold and unperturbed shall lie."

               Kiss me, dear friend, for now I feel

               That thou art as a glimpse of God;

               More tender passions through me steal

               Than when this wayward world I trod.

               Lie still, dear heart, and do not speak--

               God would not stoop to such as me;

               With silent mouth and noiselessly

               I would my grave Creator seek.

               Kiss me, dear love, for now I feel

               More noble passions through me steal."

               Kiss me, this last, for I must flee

               From all I loved and cherished here,

               And now must go distressfully

               Bereft, in solitude and fear.

               But, when your eyes are closed in sleep,

               I shall descend the starry steeps

               Where Leon for her lover weeps

               And tired hands have naught to reap.

               Kiss me, dear love, alone I flee

               To meet unknown Eternity."


               When God was young and wandered through the


               Supreme and unadored, content to be

               The only vessel on His starry sea,

               He had no wish for sight of other eyes.

               But, as the years flew by, He older grew,

               And held less dear the loneliness He found,

               When from some long-since reign He caught the


               Of play-mate deities, whom once He knew.

               Half-heedlessly He stooped toward a star

               And kissed its silver lips, when forth there came

               A little god, in speech like to those same

               Dear children whom in sleep He heard afar.

               The Father God pulsated through His heart,

               He cried, "O Child, my little son thou art."


               When I have looked upon Thy face

               I hear a wandering discontent

               Wail through my living, and retrace

               The leaf-strewn paths my feet frequent.

               Folly abode within a glade

               And saw my flight and, laughing, bade

               Me greet her lips and kiss her hair,

               Till I was fain to kiss her there.

               But Thou art sad and dost not speak,

               So sad and sorrowful art Thou;

               Thine eyes are scarred, my eyes they seek,

               And cruel marks have marred Thy brow.

               Pleasure laid hands on me and mine,

               She crowned my head with tangled vine,

               Her arms about my neck lay bare;

               I was constrained to kiss her there.

               Yea, Thou hast suffered. This I tell

               By those long wound-prints in Thy hands;

               Mankind has never used Thee well,

               And loves not Thee, nor Thy commands.

               Bitterness found me desolate

               And kissed me with the breath of hate;

               Since Folly fled, she bade me wear

               Her angry scarlet in my hair.

               Now, as I look into Thy face,

               Despised and battered though it be,

               Visage of scorn in every place,

               I know that I belong to Thee.

               Worthless these lips to give the kiss--

               And yet I dare, recalling this,

               When Life's last lovers left me bare

               Thy patient face was constant there.


               When earnest-eyed we conversed through the


               Recalled past pleasure, followed up the hour

               With plaintive music--sad memorial flower

               Of melancholy and of old delight--

               Rode bold as Taillefer with tossing brand

               Across the hills of fancy, chanting strains

               Of ancient chivalry, while loud refrains

               Rumbled responsive through our faery band,

               Then Courage kindled Courage, making gay

               Carnage and conflict, poverty and fear;

               The path to glory golden did appear,

               And I was brave to wend it any day.

               A far-blown cry of love and minstrelsy,

               Revealed to me myself as I would be.


               I'm sorry, dear--

               But I did not know

               That behind your eyes,

               Where the joy-fields grow

               And dance to the joy of dancing skies,

               There were forests where graver flowers rise;

               Weighted with shadow,

               They stand tiptoe:

               So I'm sorry, dear--

               I did not know.

               I'm sorry, dear.

               As we older grow

               There will come a day,

               May its feet move slow,

               When we, where the life-fields fade to gray

               And the skies dance not, shall have naught to say,

               Met by a Shadow,

               In voices low,

               But, "I'm sorry, God--

               I did not know."


               Here in the Far Land of our own begetting,

               Crouched on the haunted cliff begirt by sea,

               Hushed in the murmurous swell of dim waves


               Walls and sheer rocks which cradle you and me,

               How shall we lisp of older worlds and cities?

               How shall we sigh for newer worlds to be?

               Naught here is left of moanings or of pities,

               Only the whispered silence of the sea.

               We had no stars to shine our curved prows hither,

               Nor had we moons to guide us fearlessly,

               Only the age-long yearnings of the river

               Bruised by steep banks and aching for the sea;

               Rivers whose tides grow tired of earthly lilies,

               Too full of splendour to last so long as we,

               Rivers whose length-long craving and strong will is

               Once to see space, and then to cease to be.

               Hither we journeyed sunset-ways by water,

               I in my phantom keel of Poesy,

               You in Sleep's arms, of whom you are the daughter,

               Till in my arms Sleep laid you noiselessly.

               Down through the dusk our dreamland barque

                        drove gleaming,

               Under gray sails, through gradual groves of sea,

               Till from your eyes I saw the love-light streaming,

               And gave the kiss which set your spirit free.

               All the fair glories of our first beginnings

               We did forsake to gain this quiet place;

               Passions we left, and fears, and youthful sinnings;

               Virtues we left, and early signs of grace.

               Dreamings we brought and beauty of the May-


               All else we flung to where Time's whirlwinds race.

               Timeless are we in this our godlike play-time,

               Since Sleep has led us gently face to face.

               Gray glide the mists around our ocean's edges,

               Gray grope the tides across the gray-paved sea,

               Gray clings the foam about our granite ledges,

               Naught, naught remains to safeguard you from


               These axe the souls who watch us at our dreaming,

               Spirits of mist, of spray-dashed crag and sea;

               All, all is hushed, save your gray eyes deep gleaming,

               Eyes of veiled flame in caves of mystery.

               Like frozen stars, we watched each other's shining,

               Wondered with pain if any time might be,

               When we should lean beyond our own divining,

               Touching the lips of others such as we,

               Till I grew faint within my lonely heaven,

               Sank through the cloudland stretched twixt you

                        and me,

               Plunged through the thunder where firmaments

                        rocked riven,

               So gave the kiss which set your spirit free.

               We must go hence, when flames the tyrant morning,

               We shall go hence at breaking of new day;

               We, like the stars strange midnight lands adorning,

               We must go hence, steal separately away.

               Yet, like the stars, perchance we may glide burning

               When round the earth the skies are growing gray;

               We to our haunted cliff may sail returning,

               Nearing the crags where yesternight we lay.

               Thus from the Far Land of our own begetting

               I must depart across Sleep's sundering sea,

               Throughout the Sim Land wander inly fretting,

               Till night drifts back restoring you to me;

               Till through the dark I see Love's pennons streaming,

               When you will kiss and set my spirit free;

               Till through the dusk our dreamland barque drives


               Under gray sails, through gradual groves of sea.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Florence On A Certain Night - And Other Poems" ***

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