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

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                                 POEMS

                                  BY

                            MATTHEW ARNOLD.

                      _NEW AND COMPLETE EDITION._

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                               NEW YORK:

                       THOMAS Y. CROWELL & CO.,

                          NO. 13 ASTOR PLACE.



CONTENTS.


_EARLY POEMS._

                                                                    PAGE

SONNETS:--

  Quiet Work                                                           1

  To a Friend                                                          2

  Shakspeare                                                           2

  Written in Emerson’s Essays                                          3

  Written in Butler’s Sermons                                          3

  To the Duke of Wellington                                            4

  “In Harmony with Nature”                                             5

  To George Cruikshank                                                 5

  To a Republican Friend, 1848                                         6

  Continued                                                            7

  Religious Isolation                                                  7


MYCERINUS                                                              8


THE CHURCH OF BROU:--

    I. The Castle                                                     12

   II. The Church                                                     16

  III. The Tomb                                                       18


A MODERN SAPPHO                                                       19

REQUIESCAT                                                            21

YOUTH AND CALM                                                        22

A MEMORY-PICTURE                                                      23

THE NEW SIRENS                                                        25

THE VOICE                                                             34

YOUTH’S AGITATIONS                                                    36

THE WORLD’S TRIUMPHS                                                  36

STAGIRIUS                                                             37

HUMAN LIFE                                                            39

TO A GYPSY CHILD BY THE SEASHORE                                      40

A QUESTION                                                            43

IN UTRUMQUE PARATUS                                                   43

THE WORLD AND THE QUIETIST                                            45

THE SECOND BEST                                                       46

CONSOLATION                                                           47

RESIGNATION                                                           49


_NARRATIVE POEMS._

SOHRAB AND RUSTUM                                                     59

THE SICK KING IN BOKHARA                                              86

BALDER DEAD:--

    I. Sending                                                        94

  II. Journey to the Dead                                            104

  III. Funeral                                                       114

TRISTRAM AND ISEULT:--

    I. Tristram                                                      131

   II. Iseult of Ireland                                             143

  III. Iseult of Brittany                                            150

SAINT BRANDAN                                                        157

THE NECKAN                                                           160

THE FORSAKEN MERMAN                                                  162


_SONNETS._

AUSTERITY OF POETRY                                                  167

A PICTURE AT NEWSTEAD                                                167

RACHEL: I., II., III                                                 168

WORLDLY PLACE                                                        170

EAST LONDON                                                          170

WEST LONDON                                                          171

EAST AND WEST                                                        171

THE BETTER PART                                                      172

THE DIVINITY                                                         172

IMMORTALITY                                                          173

THE GOOD SHEPHERD WITH THE KID                                       173

MONICA’S LAST PRAYER                                                 174


_LYRIC AND DRAMATIC POEMS._

SWITZERLAND:--

    I. Meeting                                                       175

   II. Parting                                                       176

  III. A Farewell                                                    179

   IV. Isolation. To Marguerite                                      182

    V. To Marguerite. Continued                                      183

   VI. Absence                                                       184

  VII. The Terrace at Berne                                          185

THE STRAYED REVELLER                                                 187

FRAGMENT OF AN “ANTIGONE”                                            197

FRAGMENT OF CHORUS OF A “DEJANEIRA”                                  201

EARLY DEATH AND FAME                                                 202

PHILOMELA                                                            202

URANIA                                                               204

EUPHROSYNE                                                           205

CALAIS SANDS                                                         206

FADED LEAVES:--

    I. The River                                                     207

   II. Too Late                                                      208

  III. Separation                                                    208

   IV. On the Rhine                                                  209

    V. Longing                                                       209


DESPONDENCY                                                          210

SELF-DECEPTION                                                       210

DOVER BEACH                                                          211

GROWING OLD                                                          213

THE PROGRESS OF POESY                                                214

PIS ALLER                                                            214

THE LAST WORD                                                        215

A NAMELESS EPITAPH                                                   215

EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA                                                   216

BACCHANALIA; OR, THE NEW AGE                                         254

EPILOGUE TO LESSING’S LAOCOÖN                                        258

PERSISTENCY OF POETRY                                                264

A CAUTION TO POETS                                                   264

THE YOUTH OF NATURE                                                  265

THE YOUTH OF MAN                                                     269

PALLADIUM                                                            273

PROGRESS                                                             273

REVOLUTIONS                                                          275

SELF-DEPENDENCE                                                      276

MORALITY                                                             277

A SUMMER NIGHT                                                       278

THE BURIED LIFE                                                      281

LINES WRITTEN IN KENSINGTON GARDENS                                  284

A WISH                                                               286

THE FUTURE                                                           288


_ELEGIAC POEMS._

THE SCHOLAR-GYPSY                                                    291

THYRSIS                                                              299

MEMORIAL VERSES                                                      307

STANZAS IN MEMORY OF EDWARD QUILLINAN                                310

STANZAS FROM CARNAC                                                  311

A SOUTHERN NIGHT                                                     312

HAWORTH CHURCHYARD                                                   317

EPILOGUE                                                             321

RUGBY CHAPEL                                                         321

HEINE’S GRAVE                                                        328

STANZAS FROM THE GRANDE CHARTREUSE                                   335

STANZAS IN MEMORY OF THE AUTHOR OF “OBERMANN”                        342

OBERMANN ONCE MORE                                                   348

NOTES                                                                361



EARLY POEMS.

_SONNETS._



QUIET WORK.


    One lesson, Nature, let me learn of thee,
    One lesson which in every wind is blown,
    One lesson of two duties kept at one
    Though the loud world proclaim their enmity,--

    Of toil unsevered from tranquillity;
    Of labor, that in lasting fruit outgrows
    Far noisier schemes, accomplished in repose,
    Too great for haste, too high for rivalry.

    Yes, while on earth a thousand discords ring,
    Man’s senseless uproar mingling with his toil,
    Still do thy quiet ministers move on,

    Their glorious tasks in silence perfecting;
    Still working, blaming still our vain turmoil,
    Laborers that shall not fail, when man is gone.



TO A FRIEND.


    Who prop, thou ask’st, in these bad days, my mind?--
    He much, the old man, who, clearest-souled of men,
    Saw The Wide Prospect, and the Asian Fen,[1]
    And Tmolus hill, and Smyrna bay, though blind.

    Much he, whose friendship I not long since won,
    That halting slave, who in Nicopolis
    Taught Arrian, when Vespasian’s brutal son
    Cleared Rome of what most shamed him. But be his

    My special thanks, whose even-balanced soul,
    From first youth tested up to extreme old age,
    Business could not make dull, nor passion wild;

    Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole;
    The mellow glory of the Attic stage,
    Singer of sweet Colonus, and its child.



SHAKSPEARE.


    Others abide our question. Thou art free.
    We ask and ask. Thou smilest, and art still,
    Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill,
    Who to the stars uncrowns his majesty,

    Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea,
    Making the heaven of heavens his dwelling-place,
    Spares but the cloudy border of his base
    To the foiled searching of mortality;

    And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams know,
    Self-schooled, self-scanned, self-honored, self-secure,
    Didst tread on earth unguessed at.--Better so!

    All pains the immortal spirit must endure,
    All weakness which impairs, all griefs which bow,
    Find their sole speech in that victorious brow.



WRITTEN IN EMERSON’S ESSAYS.


    “O monstrous, dead, unprofitable world,
    That thou canst hear, and hearing hold thy way!
    A voice oracular hath pealed to-day,
    To-day a hero’s banner is unfurled;

    Hast thou no lip for welcome?”--So I said.
    Man after man, the world smiled and passed by;
    A smile of wistful incredulity,
    As though one spake of life unto the dead,--

    Scornful, and strange, and sorrowful, and full
    Of bitter knowledge. Yet the will is free;
    Strong is the soul, and wise, and beautiful;

    The seeds of godlike power are in us still;
    Gods are we, bards, saints, heroes, if we will!--
    Dumb judges, answer, truth or mockery?



WRITTEN IN BUTLER’S SERMONS.


    Affections, Instincts, Principles, and Powers,
    Impulse and Reason, Freedom and Control,--
    So men, unravelling God’s harmonious whole,
    Rend in a thousand shreds this life of ours.

    Vain labor! Deep and broad, where none may see,
    Spring the foundations of that shadowy throne
    Where man’s one nature, queen-like, sits alone,
    Centred in a majestic unity;

    And rays her powers, like sister-islands seen
    Linking their coral arms under the sea,
    Or clustered peaks with plunging gulfs between,

    Spanned by aërial arches all of gold,
    Whereo’er the chariot-wheels of life are rolled
    In cloudy circles to eternity.



TO THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON.

ON HEARING HIM MISPRAISED.


    Because thou hast believed, the wheels of life
    Stand never idle, but go always round;
    Not by their hands, who vex the patient ground,
    Moved only; but by genius, in the strife

    Of all its chafing torrents after thaw,
    Urged; and to feed whose movement, spinning sand,
    The feeble sons of pleasure set their hand;
    And, in this vision of the general law,

    Hast labored, but with purpose; hast become
    Laborious, persevering, serious, firm,--
    For this, thy track across the fretful foam

    Of vehement actions without scope or term,
    Called history, keeps a splendor; due to wit,
    Which saw one clew to life, and followed it.



IN HARMONY WITH NATURE.

TO A PREACHER.


    “In harmony with Nature?” Restless fool,
    Who with such heat dost preach what were to thee,
    When true, the last impossibility,--
    To be like Nature strong, like Nature cool!

    Know, man hath all which Nature hath, but more,
    And in that _more_ lie all his hopes of good.
    Nature is cruel, man is sick of blood;
    Nature is stubborn, man would fain adore;

    Nature is fickle, man hath need of rest;
    Nature forgives no debt, and fears no grave;
    Man would be mild, and with safe conscience blest.

    Man must begin, know this, where Nature ends;
    Nature and man can never be fast friends.
    Fool, if thou canst not pass her, rest her slave!



TO GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.

ON SEEING, IN THE COUNTRY, HIS PICTURE OF “THE BOTTLE.”


    Artist, whose hand, with horror winged, hath torn
    From the rank life of towns this leaf! and flung
    The prodigy of full-blown crime among
    Valleys and men to middle fortune born,
    Not innocent, indeed, yet not forlorn,--
    Say, what shall calm us when such guests intrude
    Like comets on the heavenly solitude?
    Shall breathless glades, cheered by shy Dian’s horn,

    Cold-bubbling springs, or caves? Not so! The soul
    Breasts her own griefs; and, urged too fiercely, says,
    “Why tremble? True, the nobleness of man

    May be by man effaced; man can control
    To pain, to death, the bent of his own days.
    Know thou the worst! So much, not more, he _can_.”



TO A REPUBLICAN FRIEND, 1848.


    God knows it, I am with you. If to prize
    Those virtues, prized and practised by too few,
    But prized, but loved, but eminent in you,
    Man’s fundamental life; if to despise

    The barren optimistic sophistries
    Of comfortable moles, whom what they do
    Teaches the limit of the just and true
    (And for such doing they require not eyes);

    If sadness at the long heart-wasting show
    Wherein earth’s great ones are disquieted;
    If thoughts, not idle, while before me flow

    The armies of the homeless and unfed,--
    If these are yours, if this is what you are,
    Then am I yours, and what you feel, I share.

CONTINUED.

    Yet, when I muse on what life is, I seem
    Rather to patience prompted, than that proud
    Prospect of hope which France proclaims so loud,--
    France, famed in all great arts, in none supreme;

    Seeing this vale, this earth, whereon we dream,
    Is on all sides o’ershadowed by the high
    Uno’erleaped mountains of necessity,
    Sparing us narrower margin than we deem.

    Nor will that day dawn at a human nod,
    When, bursting through the network superposed
    By selfish occupation,--plot and plan,

    Lust, avarice, envy,--liberated man,
    All difference with his fellow-mortal closed,
    Shall be left standing face to face with God.



RELIGIOUS ISOLATION.

TO THE SAME FRIEND.


    Children (as such forgive them) have I known,
    Ever in their own eager pastime bent
    To make the incurious bystander, intent
    On his own swarming thoughts, an interest own,--

    Too fearful or too fond to play alone.
    Do thou, whom light in thine own inmost soul
    (Not less thy boast) illuminates, control
    Wishes unworthy of a man full-grown.

    What though the holy secret, which moulds thee,
    Moulds not the solid earth? though never winds
    Have whispered it to the complaining sea,

    Nature’s great law, and law of all men’s minds?
    To its own impulse every creature stirs:
    Live by thy light, and earth will live by hers!



MYCERINUS.[2]

    “Not by the justice that my father spurned,
    Not for the thousands whom my father slew,
    Altars unfed and temples overturned,
    Cold hearts and thankless tongues, where thanks are due;
    Fell this dread voice from lips that cannot lie,
    Stern sentence of the Powers of Destiny.

    “I will unfold my sentence and my crime.
    My crime,--that, rapt in reverential awe,
    I sate obedient, in the fiery prime
    Of youth, self-governed, at the feet of Law;
    Ennobling this dull pomp, the life of kings,
    By contemplation of diviner things.

    “My father loved injustice, and lived long;
    Crowned with gray hairs he died, and full of sway.
    I loved the good he scorned, and hated wrong--
    The gods declare my recompense to-day.
    I looked for life more lasting, rule more high;
    And when six years are measured, lo, I die!

    “Yet surely, O my people, did I deem
    Man’s justice from the all-just gods was given;
    A light that from some upper fount did beam,
    Some better archetype, whose seat was heaven;
    A light that, shining from the blest abodes,
    Did shadow somewhat of the life of gods.

    “Mere phantoms of man’s self-tormenting heart,
    Which on the sweets that woo it dares not feed!
    Vain dreams, which quench our pleasures, then depart,
    When the duped soul, self-mastered, claims its meed;
    When, on the strenuous just man, Heaven bestows,
    Crown of his struggling life, an unjust close!

    “Seems it so light a thing, then, austere powers,
    To spurn man’s common lure, life’s pleasant things?
    Seems there no joy in dances crowned with flowers,
    Love free to range, and regal banquetings?
    Bend ye on these indeed an unmoved eye,
    Not gods, but ghosts, in frozen apathy?

    “Or is it that some force, too stern, too strong,
    Even for yourselves to conquer or beguile,
    Bears earth and heaven and men and gods along,
    Like the broad volume of the insurgent Nile?
    And the great powers we serve, themselves may be
    Slaves of a tyrannous necessity?

    “Or in mid-heaven, perhaps, your golden cars,
    Where earthly voice climbs never, wing their flight,
    And in wild hunt, through mazy tracts of stars,
    Sweep in the sounding stillness of the night?
    Or in deaf ease, on thrones of dazzling sheen,
    Drinking deep draughts of joy, ye dwell serene?

    “Oh, wherefore cheat our youth, if thus it be,
    Of one short joy, one lust, one pleasant dream?
    Stringing vain words of powers we cannot see,
    Blind divinations of a will supreme;
    Lost labor! when the circumambient gloom
    But hides, if gods, gods careless of our doom?

    “The rest I give to joy. Even while I speak,
    My sand runs short; and as yon star-shot ray,
    Hemmed by two banks of cloud, peers pale and weak,
    Now, as the barrier closes, dies away,--
    Even so do past and future intertwine,
    Blotting this six years’ space, which yet is mine.

    “Six years,--six little years,--six drops of time!
    Yet suns shall rise, and many moons shall wane,
    And old men die, and young men pass their prime,
    And languid pleasure fade and flower again,
    And the dull gods behold, ere these are flown,
    Revels more deep, joy keener than their own.

    “Into the silence of the groves and woods
    I will go forth; though something would I say,--
    Something,--yet what, I know not: for the gods
    The doom they pass revoke not nor delay;
    And prayers and gifts and tears are fruitless all,
    And the night waxes, and the shadows fall.

    “Ye men of Egypt, ye have heard your king!
    I go, and I return not. But the will
    Of the great gods is plain; and ye must bring
    Ill deeds, ill passions, zealous to fulfil
    Their pleasure, to their feet; and reap their praise,--
    The praise of gods, rich boon! and length of days.”

   --So spake he, half in anger, half in scorn;
    And one loud cry of grief and of amaze
    Broke from his sorrowing people; so he spake,
    And turning, left them there: and with brief pause,
    Girt with a throng of revellers, bent his way
    To the cool region of the groves he loved.
    There by the river-banks he wandered on,
    From palm-grove on to palm-grove, happy trees,
    Their smooth tops shining sunward, and beneath
    Burying their unsunned stems in grass and flowers;
    Where in one dream the feverish time of youth
    Might fade in slumber, and the feet of joy
    Might wander all day long and never tire.
    Here came the king, holding high feast, at morn,
    Rose-crowned; and ever, when the sun went down,
    A hundred lamps beamed in the tranquil gloom,
    From tree to tree all through the twinkling grove,
    Revealing all the tumult of the feast,--
    Flushed guests, and golden goblets foamed with wine;
    While the deep-burnished foliage overhead
    Splintered the silver arrows of the moon.
      It may be that sometimes his wondering soul
    From the loud joyful laughter of his lips
    Might shrink half startled, like a guilty man
    Who wrestles with his dream; as some pale shape,
    Gliding half hidden through the dusky stems,
    Would thrust a hand before the lifted bowl,
    Whispering, _A little space, and thou art mine!_
    It may be, on that joyless feast his eye
    Dwelt with mere outward seeming; he, within,
    Took measure of his soul, and knew its strength,
    And by that silent knowledge, day by day,
    Was calmed, ennobled, comforted, sustained.
    It may be; but not less his brow was smooth,
    And his clear laugh fled ringing through the gloom,
    And his mirth quailed not at the mild reproof
    Sighed out by winter’s sad tranquillity;
    Nor, palled with its own fulness, ebbed and died
    In the rich languor of long summer-days;
    Nor withered when the palm-tree plumes, that roofed
    With their mild dark his grassy banquet-hall,
    Bent to the cold winds of the showerless spring;
    No, nor grew dark when autumn brought the clouds.
      So six long years he revelled, night and day.
    And when the mirth waxed loudest, with dull sound
    Sometimes from the grove’s centre echoes came,
    To tell his wondering people of their king;
    In the still night, across the steaming flats,
    Mixed with the murmur of the moving Nile.



_THE CHURCH OF BROU._

I.

The Castle.


    Down the Savoy valleys sounding,
      Echoing round this castle old,
    ’Mid the distant mountain-chalets
      Hark! what bell for church is tolled?

    In the bright October morning
      Savoy’s Duke had left his bride.
    From the castle, past the drawbridge,
      Flowed the hunters’ merry tide.

    Steeds are neighing, gallants glittering.
      Gay, her smiling lord to greet,
    From her mullioned chamber-casement
      Smiles the Duchess Marguerite.

    From Vienna, by the Danube,
      Here she came, a bride, in spring.
    Now the autumn crisps the forest;
      Hunters gather, bugles ring.

    Hounds are pulling, prickers swearing,
      Horses fret, and boar-spears glance.
    Off!--They sweep the marshy forests,
      Westward on the side of France.

    Hark! the game’s on foot; they scatter!
      Down the forest-ridings lone,
    Furious, single horsemen gallop.
      Hark! a shout--a crash--a groan!

    Pale and breathless, came the hunters--
      On the turf dead lies the boar.
    God! the duke lies stretched beside him,
      Senseless, weltering in his gore.

    In the dull October evening,
      Down the leaf-strewn forest-road,
    To the castle, past the drawbridge,
      Came the hunters with their load.

    In the hall, with sconces blazing,
      Ladies waiting round her seat,
    Clothed in smiles, beneath the dais
      Sate the Duchess Marguerite.

    Hark! below the gates unbarring!
      Tramp of men, and quick commands!
    “’Tis my lord come back from hunting;”
      And the duchess claps her hands.

    Slow and tired, came the hunters;
      Stopped in darkness in the court.
    “Ho, this way, ye laggard hunters!
      To the hall! What sport, what sport?”

    Slow they entered with their master;
      In the hall they laid him down.
    On his coat were leaves and blood-stains,
      On his brow an angry frown.

    Dead her princely youthful husband
      Lay before his youthful wife,
    Bloody ’neath the flaring sconces--
      And the sight froze all her life.

    In Vienna, by the Danube,
      Kings hold revel, gallants meet.
    Gay of old amid the gayest
      Was the Duchess Marguerite.

    In Vienna, by the Danube,
      Feast and dance her youth beguiled.
    Till that hour she never sorrowed;
      But from then she never smiled.

    ’Mid the Savoy mountain-valleys,
      Far from town or haunt of man,
    Stands a lonely church, unfinished,
      Which the Duchess Maud began.

    Old, that duchess stern began it,
      In gray age, with palsied hands;
    But she died while it was building,
      And the church unfinished stands,--

    Stands as erst the builders left it,
      When she sank into her grave;
    Mountain greensward paves the chancel,
      Harebells flower in the nave.

    “In my castle all is sorrow,”
      Said the Duchess Marguerite then:
    “Guide me, some one, to the mountain;
      We will build the church again.”

    Sandalled palmers, faring homeward,
      Austrian knights from Syria came.
    “Austrian wanderers bring, O warders!
      Homage to your Austrian dame.”

    From the gate the warders answered,--
      “Gone, O knights, is she you knew!
    Dead our duke, and gone his duchess;
      Seek her at the church of Brou.”

    Austrian knights and march-worn palmers
      Climb the winding mountain-way;
    Reach the valley, where the fabric
      Rises higher day by day.

    Stones are sawing, hammers ringing;
      On the work the bright sun shines;
    In the Savoy mountain-meadows,
      By the stream, below the pines.

    On her palfrey white the duchess
      Sate, and watched her working train,--
    Flemish carvers, Lombard gilders,
      German masons, smiths from Spain.

    Clad in black, on her white palfrey,
      Her old architect beside,--
    There they found her in the mountains,
      Morn and noon and eventide.

    There she sate, and watched the builders,
      Till the church was roofed and done;
    Last of all, the builders reared her
      In the nave a tomb of stone.

    On the tomb two forms they sculptured,
      Lifelike in the marble pale,--
    One, the duke in helm and armor;
      One, the duchess in her veil.

    Round the tomb the carved stone fret-work
      Was at Easter-tide put on.
    Then the duchess closed her labors;
      And she died at the St. John.


II.

The Church.

    Upon the glistening leaden roof
    Of the new pile, the sunlight shines;
      The stream goes leaping by.
    The hills are clothed with pines sun-proof;
    ’Mid bright green fields, below the pines,
      Stands the church on high.
    What church is this, from men aloof?
    ’Tis the Church of Brou.

    At sunrise, from their dewy lair
    Crossing the stream, the kine are seen
      Round the wall to stray,--
    The churchyard wall that clips the square
    Of open hill-sward fresh and green
      Where last year they lay.
    But all things now are ordered fair
    Round the Church of Brou.

    On Sundays, at the matin-chime,
    The Alpine peasants, two and three,
      Climb up here to pray;
    Burghers and dames, at summer’s prime,
    Ride out to church from Chambery,
      Dight with mantles gay.
    But else it is a lonely time
    Round the Church of Brou.

    On Sundays, too, a priest doth come
    From the walled town beyond the pass,
      Down the mountain-way;
    And then you hear the organ’s hum,
    You hear the white-robed priest say mass,
      And the people pray.
    But else the woods and fields are dumb
    Round the Church of Brou.

    And after church, when mass is done,
    The people to the nave repair
      Round the tomb to stray;
    And marvel at the forms of stone,
    And praise the chiselled broideries rare--
      Then they drop away.
    The princely pair are left alone
    In the Church of Brou.


III.

The Tomb.

    So rest, forever rest, O princely pair!
    In your high church, ’mid the still mountain-air,
    Where horn, and hound, and vassals, never come.
    Only the blessed saints are smiling dumb
    From the rich painted windows of the nave
    On aisle, and transept, and your marble grave;
    Where thou, young prince, shalt never more arise
    From the fringed mattress where thy duchess lies,
    On autumn-mornings, when the bugle sounds,
    And ride across the drawbridge with thy hounds
    To hunt the boar in the crisp woods till eve;
    And thou, O princess, shalt no more receive,
    Thou and thy ladies, in the hall of state,
    The jaded hunters with their bloody freight,
    Coming benighted to the castle-gate.
      So sleep, forever sleep, O marble pair!
    Or, if ye wake, let it be then, when fair
    On the carved western front a flood of light
    Streams from the setting sun, and colors bright
    Prophets, transfigured saints, and martyrs brave,
    In the vast western window of the nave;
    And on the pavement round the tomb there glints
    A checker-work of glowing sapphire-tints,
    And amethyst, and ruby,--then unclose
    Your eyelids on the stone where ye repose,
    And from your broidered pillows lift your heads,
    And rise upon your cold white marble beds;
    And looking down on the warm rosy tints
    Which checker, at your feet, the illumined flints,
    Say, _What is this? we are in bliss--forgiven--
    Behold the pavement of the courts of heaven!_
    Or let it be on autumn-nights, when rain
    Doth rustlingly above your heads complain
    On the smooth leaden roof, and on the walls
    Shedding her pensive light at intervals
    The moon through the clere-story windows shines,
    And the wind washes through the mountain-pines,--
    Then, gazing up ’mid the dim pillars high,
    The foliaged marble forest where ye lie,
    _Hush_, ye will say, _it is eternity!
    This is the glimmering verge of heaven, and these
    The columns of the heavenly palaces._
    And in the sweeping of the wind your ear
    The passage of the angels’ wings will hear,
    And on the lichen-crusted leads above
    The rustle of the eternal rain of love.



_A MODERN SAPPHO._


    They are gone--all is still! Foolish heart, dost thou quiver?
      Nothing stirs on the lawn but the quick lilac-shade.

    Far up shines the house, and beneath flows the river:
      Here lean, my head, on this cold balustrade!

    Ere he come,--ere the boat by the shining-branched border
      Of dark elms shoot round, dropping down the proud stream,--
    Let me pause, let me strive, in myself make some order,
      Ere their boat-music sound, ere their broidered flags gleam.

    Last night we stood earnestly talking together:
      She entered--that moment his eyes turned from me!
    Fastened on her dark hair, and her wreath of white heather.
      As yesterday was, so to-morrow will be.

    Their love, let me know, must grow strong and yet stronger,
      Their passion burn more, ere it ceases to burn.
    They must love--while they must! but the hearts that love longer
      Are rare--ah! most loves but flow once, and return.

    I shall suffer--but they will outlive their affection;
      I shall weep--but their love will be cooling; and he,
    As he drifts to fatigue, discontent, and dejection,
      Will be brought, thou poor heart, how much nearer to thee!

    For cold is his eye to mere beauty, who, breaking
      The strong band which passion around him hath furled,
    Disenchanted by habit, and newly awaking,
      Looks languidly round on a gloom-buried world.

    Through that gloom he will see but a shadow appearing,
      Perceive but a voice as I come to his side;
   --But deeper their voice grows, and nobler their bearing,
      Whose youth in the fires of anguish hath died.

    So, to wait! But what notes down the wind, hark! are driving?
      ’Tis he! ’tis their flag, shooting round by the trees!
   --Let my turn, if it _will_ come, be swift in arriving!
      Ah! hope cannot long lighten torments like these.

    Hast thou yet dealt him, O life, thy full measure?
      World, have thy children yet bowed at his knee?
    Hast thou with myrtle-leaf crowned him, O pleasure?
    --Crown, crown him quickly, and leave him for me.



_REQUIESCAT._


    Strew on her roses, roses,
      And never a spray of yew:
    In quiet she reposes;
      Ah! would that I did too!

    Her mirth the world required;
      She bathed it in smiles of glee.
    But her heart was tired, tired,
      And now they let her be.

    Her life was turning, turning,
      In mazes of heat and sound;
    But for peace her soul was yearning,
      And now peace laps her round.

    Her cabined, ample spirit,
      It fluttered and failed for breath;
    To-night it doth inherit
      The vasty hall of death.



_YOUTH AND CALM._


    ’Tis death! and peace indeed is here,
    And ease from shame, and rest from fear.
    There’s nothing can dismarble now
    The smoothness of that limpid brow.
    But is a calm like this, in truth,
    The crowning end of life and youth?
    And when this boon rewards the dead,
    Are all debts paid, has all been said?
    And is the heart of youth so light,
    Its step so firm, its eye so bright,
    Because on its hot brow there blows
    A wind of promise and repose
    From the far grave, to which it goes;
    Because it has the hope to come,
    One day, to harbor in the tomb?
    Ah, no! the bliss youth dreams is one
    For daylight, for the cheerful sun,
    For feeling nerves and living breath;
    Youth dreams a bliss on this side death.
    It dreams a rest, if not more deep,
    More grateful than this marble sleep;
    It hears a voice within it tell,--
    _Calm’s not life’s crown, though calm is well_.
    ’Tis all, perhaps, which man acquires,
    But ’tis not what our youth desires.



_A MEMORY-PICTURE._


    Laugh, my friends, and without blame
    Lightly quit what lightly came;
    Rich to-morrow as to-day,
    Spend as madly as you may!
    I, with little land to stir,
    Am the exacter laborer.
      Ere the parting hour go by,
      Quick, thy tablets, Memory!

    Once I said, “A face is gone
    If too hotly mused upon;
    And our best impressions are
    Those that do themselves repair.”
    Many a face I so let flee--
    Ah!-is faded utterly.
      Ere the parting hour go by,
      Quick, thy tablets, Memory!

    Marguerite says, “As last year went,
    So the coming year’ll be spent;
    Some day next year, I shall be,
    Entering heedless, kissed by thee.”
    Ah, I hope! yet, once away,
    What may chain us, who can say?
      Ere the parting hour go by,
      Quick, thy tablets, Memory!

    Paint that lilac kerchief, bound
    Her soft face, her hair around;
    Tied under the archest chin
    Mockery ever ambushed in.
    Let the fluttering fringes streak
    All her pale, sweet-rounded cheek.
      Ere the parting hour go by,
      Quick, thy tablets, Memory!

    Paint that figure’s pliant grace
    As she toward me leaned her face,
    Half refused and half resigned,
    Murmuring, “Art thou still unkind?”
    Many a broken promise then
    Was new made--to break again.
      Ere the parting hour go by,
      Quick, thy tablets, Memory!

    Paint those eyes, so blue, so kind,
    Eager tell-tales of her mind;
    Paint, with their impetuous stress
    Of inquiring tenderness,
    Those frank eyes, where deep doth be
    An angelic gravity.
      Ere the parting hour go by,
      Quick, thy tablets, Memory!

    What! my friends, these feeble lines
    Show, you say, my love declines?
    To paint ill as I have done,
    Proves forgetfulness begun?
    Time’s gay minions, pleased you see,
    Time, your master, governs me;
      Pleased, you mock the fruitless cry,--
      “Quick, thy tablets, Memory!”

    Ah, too true! Time’s current strong
    Leaves us true to nothing long.
    Yet, if little stays with man,
    Ah, retain we all we can!
    If the clear impression dies,
    Ah, the dim remembrance prize!
      Ere the parting hour go by,
      Quick, thy tablets, Memory!



_THE NEW SIRENS._


      In the cedar-shadow sleeping,
      Where cool grass and fragrant glooms
      Late at eve had lured me, creeping
      From your darkened palace rooms,--
      I, who in your train at morning
      Strolled and sang with joyful mind,
      Heard, in slumber, sounds of warning;
    Saw the hoarse boughs labor in the wind.

      Who are they, O pensive Graces,
      (For I dreamed they wore your forms)
      Who on shores and sea-washed places
      Scoop the shelves and fret the storms?
      Who, when ships are that way tending,
      Troop across the flushing sands,
      To all reefs and narrows wending,
    With blown tresses, and with beckoning hands?

      Yet I see, the howling levels
      Of the deep are not your lair;
      And your tragic-vaunted revels
      Are less lonely than they were.
      Like those kings with treasure steering
      From the jewelled lands of dawn,
      Troops, with gold and gifts, appearing,
    Stream all day through your enchanted lawn.

      And we too, from upland valleys,
      Where some Muse with half-curved frown
      Leans her ear to your mad sallies
      Which the charmed winds never drown;
      By faint music guided, ranging
      The scared glens, we wandered on,
      Left our awful laurels hanging,
    And came heaped with myrtles to your throne.

      From the dragon-wardered fountains
      Where the springs of knowledge are,
      From the watchers on the mountains,
      And the bright and morning star;
      We are exiles, we are falling,
      We have lost them at your call--
      O ye false ones, at your calling
    Seeking ceiled chambers and a palace-hall!

      Are the accents of your luring
      More melodious than of yore?
      Are those frail forms more enduring
      Than the charms Ulysses bore?
      That we sought you with rejoicings,
      Till at evening we descry
      At a pause of Siren voicings
    These vexed branches and this howling sky?...

           *       *       *       *       *

      Oh, your pardon! The uncouthness
      Of that primal age is gone,
      And the skin of dazzling smoothness
      Screens not now a heart of stone.
      Love has flushed those cruel faces;
      And those slackened arms forego
      The delight of death-embraces,
    And yon whitening bone-mounds do not grow.

      “Ah!” you say; “the large appearance
      Of man’s labor is but vain,
      And we plead as stanch adherence
      Due to pleasure as to pain.”
      Pointing to earth’s careworn creatures,
      “Come,” you murmur with a sigh:
      “Ah! we own diviner features,
    Loftier bearing, and a prouder eye.

      “Come,” you say, “the hours were dreary;
      Life without love does not fade;
      Vain it wastes, and we grew weary
      In the slumbrous cedarn shade.
      Round our hearts with long caresses,
      With low sighings, Silence stole,
      And her load of steaming tresses
    Weighed, like Ossa, on the aery soul.

      “Come,” you say, “the soul is fainting
      Till she search and learn her own,
      And the wisdom of man’s painting
      Leaves her riddle half unknown.
      Come,” you say, “the brain is seeking,
      While the princely heart is dead;
      Yet this gleaned, when gods were speaking,
    Rarer secrets than the toiling head.

      “Come,” you say, “opinion trembles,
      Judgment shifts, convictions go;
      Life dries up, the heart dissembles:
      Only, what we feel, we know.
      Hath your wisdom known emotions?
      Will it weep our burning tears?
      Hath it drunk of our love-potions
    Crowning moments with the weight of years?”

      I am dumb. Alas! too soon all
      Man’s grave reasons disappear!
      Yet, I think, at God’s tribunal
      Some large answer you shall hear.
      But for me, my thoughts are straying
      Where at sunrise, through your vines,
      On these lawns I saw you playing,
    Hanging garlands on your odorous pines;

      When your showering locks inwound you,
      And your heavenly eyes shone through;
      When the pine-boughs yielded round you,
      And your brows were starred with dew;
      And immortal forms, to meet you,
      Down the statued alleys came,
      And through golden horns, to greet you,
    Blew such music as a god may frame.

      Yes, I muse! And if the dawning
      Into daylight never grew,
      If the glistering wings of morning
      On the dry noon shook their dew,
      If the fits of joy were longer,
      Or the day were sooner done,
      Or, perhaps, if hope were stronger,
    No weak nursling of an earthly sun ...
        Pluck, pluck cypress, O pale maidens,
            Dusk the hall with yew!

           *       *       *       *       *

      For a bound was set to meetings,
      And the sombre day dragged on;
      And the burst of joyful greetings,
      And the joyful dawn, were gone.
      For the eye grows filled with gazing,
      And on raptures follow calms;
      And those warm locks men were praising
    Drooped, unbraided, on your listless arms.

      Storms unsmoothed your folded valleys,
      And made all your cedars frown;
      Leaves were whirling in the alleys
      Which your lovers wandered down.
    --Sitting cheerless in your bowers,
      The hands propping the sunk head,
      Do they gall you, the long hours,
    And the hungry thought that must be fed?

      Is the pleasure that is tasted
      Patient of a long review?
      Will the fire joy hath wasted,
      Mused on, warm the heart anew?
    --Or, are those old thoughts returning,
      Guests the dull sense never knew,
      Stars, set deep, yet inly burning,
    Germs, your untrimmed passion overgrew?

      Once, like us, you took your station,
      Watchers for a purer fire;
      But you drooped in expectation,
      And you wearied in desire.
      When the first rose flush was steeping
      All the frore peak’s awful crown,
      Shepherds say, they found you sleeping
    In some windless valley, farther down.

      Then you wept, and slowly raising
      Your dozed eyelids, sought again,
      Half in doubt, they say, and gazing
      Sadly back, the seats of men;
      Snatched a turbid inspiration
      From some transient earthly sun,
      And proclaimed your vain ovation
    For those mimic raptures you had won....

           *       *       *       *       *

      With a sad, majestic motion,
      With a stately, slow surprise,
      From their earthward-bound devotion
      Lifting up your languid eyes--
      Would you freeze my louder boldness,
      Dumbly smiling as you go,
      One faint frown of distant coldness
    Flitting fast across each marble brow?

      Do I brighten at your sorrow,
      O sweet pleaders? doth my lot
      Find assurance in to-morrow
      Of one joy which you have not?
      Oh, speak once, and shame my sadness!
      Let this sobbing, Phrygian strain,
      Mocked and baffled by your gladness,
    Mar the music of your feasts in vain!

           *       *       *       *       *

      Scent, and song, and light, and flowers!
      Gust on gust, the harsh winds blow--
      Come, bind up those ringlet showers!
      Roses for that dreaming brow!
      Come, once more that ancient lightness,
      Glancing feet, and eager eyes!
      Let your broad lamps flash the brightness
    Which the sorrow-stricken day denies.

      Through black depths of serried shadows,
      Up cold aisles of buried glade;
      In the mist of river-meadows
      Where the looming deer are laid;
      From your dazzled windows streaming,
      From your humming festal room,
      Deep and far, a broken gleaming
    Reels and shivers on the ruffled gloom.

      Where I stand, the grass is glowing:
      Doubtless you are passing fair!
      But I hear the north wind blowing,
      And I feel the cold night-air,
      Can I look on your sweet faces,
      And your proud heads backward thrown,
      From this dusk of leaf-strewn places
    With the dumb woods and the night alone?

      Yet, indeed, this flux of guesses,--
      Mad delight, and frozen calms,--
      Mirth to-day, and vine-bound tresses,
      And to-morrow--folded palms;
      Is this all? this balanced measure?
      Could life run no happier way?
      Joyous at the height of pleasure,
    Passive at the nadir of dismay?

      But, indeed, this proud possession,
      This far-reaching, magic chain,
      Linking in a mad succession
      Fits of joy and fits of pain,--
      Have you seen it at the closing?
      Have you tracked its clouded ways?
      Can your eyes, while fools are dozing,
    Drop, with mine, adown life’s latter days?

      When a dreary light is wading
      Through this waste of sunless greens,
      When the flashing lights are fading
      On the peerless cheek of queens,
      When the mean shall no more sorrow,
      And the proudest no more smile;
      While the dawning of the morrow
    Widens slowly westward all that while?

      Then, when change itself is over,
      When the slow tide sets one way,
      Shall you find the radiant lover,
      Even by moments, of to-day?
      The eye wanders, faith is failing:
      Oh, loose hands, and let it be!
      Proudly, like a king bewailing,
    Oh, let fall one tear, and set us free!

      All true speech and large avowal
      Which the jealous soul concedes;
      All man’s heart which brooks bestowal,
      All frank faith which passion breeds,--
      These we had, and we gave truly;
      Doubt not, what we had, we gave!
      False we were not, nor unruly;
    Lodgers in the forest and the cave.

      Long we wandered with you, feeding
      Our rapt souls on your replies,
      In a wistful silence reading
      All the meaning of your eyes.
      By moss-bordered statues sitting,
      By well-heads, in summer days.
      But we turn, our eyes are flitting--
    See, the white east, and the morning-rays!

      And you too, O worshipped Graces,
      Sylvan gods of this fair shade!
      Is there doubt on divine faces?
      Are the blessed gods dismayed?
      Can men worship the wan features,
      The sunk eyes, the wailing tone,
      Of unsphered, discrownèd creatures,
    Souls as little godlike as their own?

      Come, loose hands! The wingèd fleetness
      Of immortal feet is gone;
      And your scents have shed their sweetness,
      And your flowers are overblown.
      And your jewelled gauds surrender
      Half their glories to the day;
      Freely did they flash their splendor,
    Freely gave it--but it dies away.

      In the pines, the thrush is waking;
      Lo, yon orient hill in flames!
      Scores of true-love-knots are breaking
      At divorce which it proclaims.
      When the lamps are paled at morning,
      Heart quits heart, and hand quits hand.
      Cold in that unlovely dawning,
      Loveless, rayless, joyless, you shall stand!

      Pluck no more red roses, maidens,
      Leave the lilies in their dew;
      Pluck, pluck cypress, O pale maidens,
      Dusk, oh, dusk the hall with yew!
    --Shall I seek, that I may scorn her,
      Her I loved at eventide?
      Shall I ask, what faded mourner
    Stands, at daybreak, weeping by my side?...
        Pluck, pluck cypress, O pale maidens!
            Dusk the hall with yew!



_THE VOICE._


              As the kindling glances,
                Queen-like and clear,
              Which the bright moon lances
                From her tranquil sphere
              At the sleepless waters
                Of a lonely mere,
    On the wild whirling waves, mournfully, mournfully,
                  Shiver and die;
              As the tears of sorrow
                Mothers have shed--
              Prayers that to-morrow
                Shall in vain be sped
              When the flower they flow for
                Lies frozen and dead--
    Fall on the throbbing brow, fall on the burning breast,
                  Bringing no rest;

              Like bright waves that fall
              With a lifelike motion
    On the lifeless margin of the sparkling ocean;
    A wild rose climbing up a mouldering wall;
    A gush of sunbeams through a ruined hall;
    Strains of glad music at a funeral,--
              So sad, and with so wild a start
              To this deep-sobered heart,
              So anxiously and painfully,
              So drearily and doubtfully,
    And, oh! with such intolerable change
              Of thought, such contrast strange,
    O unforgotten voice, thy accents come,
    Like wanderers from the world’s extremity,
              Unto their ancient home!

    In vain, all, all in vain,
    They beat upon mine ear again,--
    Those melancholy tones so sweet and still;
    Those lute-like tones which in the bygone year
              Did steal into mine ear;
    Blew such a thrilling summons to my will,
      Yet could not shake it;
    Made my tost heart its very life-blood spill,
      Yet could not break it.



_YOUTH’S AGITATIONS._


    When I shall be divorced, some ten years hence,
    From this poor present self which I am now;
    When youth has done its tedious vain expense
    Of passions that forever ebb and flow:

    Shall I not joy youth’s heats are left behind,
    And breathe more happy in an even clime?
    Ah, no! for then I shall begin to find
    A thousand virtues in this hated time!

    Then I shall wish its agitations back,
    And all its thwarting currents of desire;
    Then I shall praise the heat which then I lack,
    And call this hurrying fever, generous fire;

    And sigh that one thing only has been lent
    To youth and age in common,--discontent.



_THE WORLD’S TRIUMPHS._


    So far as I conceive the world’s rebuke
    To him addressed who would recast her new,
    Not from herself her fame of strength she took,
    But from their weakness who would work her rue.

    “Behold,” she cries, “so many rages lulled,
    So many fiery spirits quite cooled down;
    Look how so many valors, long undulled,
    After short commerce with me, fear my frown!

    Thou too, when thou against my crimes wouldst cry,
    Let thy foreboded homage check thy tongue!”--
    The world speaks well; yet might her foe reply,
    “Are wills so weak? then let not mine wait long!

    Hast thou so rare a poison? let me be
    Keener to slay thee, lest thou poison me!”



_STAGIRIUS._[3]


        Thou, who dost dwell alone;
        Thou, who dost know thine own;
        Thou, to whom all are known
        From the cradle to the grave,--
            Save, oh! save.
        From the world’s temptations,
        From tribulations,
        From that fierce anguish
        Wherein we languish,
        From that torpor deep
        Wherein we lie asleep,
    Heavy as death, cold as the grave,
            Save, oh! save.

        When the soul, growing clearer,
          Sees God no nearer;
        When the soul, mounting higher,
          To God comes no nigher;
        But the arch-fiend Pride
        Mounts at her side,
        Foiling her high emprise,
        Sealing her eagle eyes,
        And, when she fain would soar,
        Makes idols to adore,
        Changing the pure emotion
        Of her high devotion,
        To a skin-deep sense
        Of her own eloquence;
    Strong to deceive, strong to enslave,--
            Save, oh! save.

        From the ingrained fashion
        Of this earthly nature
        That mars thy creature;
        From grief that is but passion,
        From mirth that is but feigning,
        From tears that bring no healing,
        From wild and weak complaining,
          Thine old strength revealing,
            Save, oh! save.
        From doubt, where all is double;
        Where wise men are not strong,
        Where comfort turns to trouble,
        Where just men suffer wrong;
        Where sorrow treads on joy,
        Where sweet things soonest cloy,
        Where faiths are built on dust,
        Where love is half mistrust,
    Hungry, and barren, and sharp as the sea,--
            Oh! set us free.
        Oh, let the false dream fly,
        Where our sick souls do lie
          Tossing continually!
            Oh, where thy voice doth come,
            Let all doubts be dumb,
            Let all words be mild,
            All strifes be reconciled,
            All pains beguiled!
            Light bring no blindness,
            Love no unkindness,
            Knowledge no ruin,
            Fear no undoing!
            From the cradle to the grave,
              Save, oh! save.



_HUMAN LIFE._


    What mortal, when he saw,
    Life’s voyage done, his heavenly Friend,
    Could ever yet dare tell him fearlessly,--
    “I have kept uninfringed my nature’s law;
    The inly-written chart thou gavest me,
    To guide me, I have steered by to the end”?

    Ah! let us make no claim,
    On life’s incognizable sea,
    To too exact a steering of our way;
    Let us not fret and fear to miss our aim,
    If some fair coast has lured us to make stay,
    Or some friend hailed us to keep company.

    Ay! we would each fain drive
    At random, and not steer by rule.
    Weakness! and worse, weakness bestowed in vain!
    Winds from our side the unsuiting consort rive;
    We rush by coasts where we had lief remain:
    Man cannot, though he would, live chance’s fool.

    No! as the foaming swath
    Of torn-up water, on the main,
    Falls heavily away with long-drawn roar
    On either side the black deep-furrowed path
    Cut by an onward-laboring vessel’s prore,
    And never touches the ship-side again;

    Even so we leave behind,
    As, chartered by some unknown Powers,
    We stem across the sea of life by night,
    The joys which were not for our use designed,--
    The friends to whom we had no natural right,
    The homes that were not destined to be ours.



_TO A GYPSY CHILD BY THE SEASHORE_;

DOUGLAS, ISLE OF MAN.


    Who taught this pleading to unpractised eyes?
    Who hid such import in an infant’s gloom?
    Who lent thee, child, this meditative guise?
    Who massed, round that slight brow, these clouds of doom?

    Lo! sails that gleam a moment, and are gone;
    The swinging waters, and the clustered pier.
    Not idly earth and ocean labor on,
    Nor idly do these sea-birds hover near.

    But thou, whom superfluity of joy
    Wafts not from thine own thoughts, nor longings vain,
    Nor weariness, the full-fed soul’s annoy,
    Remaining in thy hunger and in thy pain;
    Thou, drugging pain by patience; half averse
    From thine own mother’s breast, that knows not thee;
    With eyes which sought thine eyes thou didst converse,
    And that soul-searching vision fell on me.

    Glooms that go deep as thine, I have not known;
    Moods of fantastic sadness, nothing worth.
    Thy sorrow and thy calmness are thine own;
    Glooms that enhance and glorify this earth.

    What mood wears like complexion to thy woe?
    His, who in mountain glens, at noon of day,
    Sits rapt, and hears the battle break below?
   --Ah! thine was not the shelter, but the fray.

    Some exile’s, mindful how the past was glad?
    Some angel’s, in an alien planet born?
   --No exile’s dream was ever half so sad,
    Nor any angel’s sorrow so forlorn.

    Is the calm thine of stoic souls, who weigh
    Life well, and find it wanting, nor deplore;
    But in disdainful silence turn away,
    Stand mute, self-centred, stern, and dream no more?

    Or do I wait, to hear some gray-haired king
    Unravel all his many-colored lore;
    Whose mind hath known all arts of governing,
    Mused much, loved life a little, loathed it more?

    Down the pale cheek, long lines of shadow slope,
    Which years, and curious thought, and suffering give.
   --Thou hast foreknown the vanity of hope,
    Foreseen thy harvest, yet proceed’st to live.

    O meek anticipant of that sure pain
    Whose sureness gray-haired scholars hardly learn!
    What wonder shall time breed, to swell thy strain?
    What heavens, what earth, what suns, shalt thou discern?

    Ere the long night, whose stillness brooks no star,
    Match that funereal aspect with her pall,
    I think thou wilt have fathomed life too far,
    Have known too much--or else forgotten all.

    The Guide of our dark steps, a triple veil
    Betwixt our senses and our sorrow keeps;
    Hath sown with cloudless passages the tale
    Of grief, and eased us with a thousand sleeps.

    Ah! not the nectarous poppy lovers use,
    Not daily labor’s dull, Lethæan spring,
    Oblivion in lost angels can infuse
    Of the soiled glory, and the trailing wing;

    And though thou glean, what strenuous gleaners may,
    In the thronged fields where winning comes by strife;
    And though the just sun gild, as mortals pray,
    Some reaches of thy storm-vexed stream of life;

    Though that blank sunshine blind thee; though the cloud
    That severed the world’s march and thine, be gone;
    Though ease dulls grace, and wisdom be too proud
    To halve a lodging that was all her own,--

    Once, ere thy day go down, thou shalt discern,
    Oh, once, ere night, in thy success, thy chain!
    Ere the long evening close, thou shalt return,
    And wear this majesty of grief again.



_A QUESTION._

TO FAUSTA.


    Joy comes and goes, hope ebbs and flows
            Like the wave;
    Change doth unknit the tranquil strength of men.
        Love lends life a little grace,
        A few sad smiles; and then
        Both are laid in one cold place,--
            In the grave.

    Dreams dawn and fly, friends smile and die
            Like spring flowers;
    Our vaunted life is one long funeral.
        Men dig graves with bitter tears
        For their dead hopes; and all,
        Mazed with doubts and sick with fears,
            Count the hours.

    We count the hours! These dreams of ours,
            False and hollow,
    Do we go hence, and find they are not dead?
        Joys we dimly apprehend
        Faces that smiled and fled,
        Hopes born here, and born to end,
            Shall we follow?



_IN UTRUMQUE PARATUS._


    If, in the silent mind of One all-pure,
        At first imagined lay
    The sacred world; and by procession sure
    From those still deeps, in form and color drest,
    Seasons alternating, and night and day,
    The long-mused thought to north, south, east, and west,
        Took then its all-seen way;

    Oh, waking on a world which thus-wise springs!
        Whether it needs thee count
    Betwixt thy waking and the birth of things
    Ages or hours--oh, waking on life’s stream!
    By lonely pureness to the all-pure fount
    (Only by this thou canst) the colored dream
        Of life remount!

    Thin, thin the pleasant human noises grow,
        And faint the city gleams;
    Rare the lone pastoral huts--marvel not thou!
    The solemn peaks but to the stars are known,--
    But to the stars, and the cold lunar beams;
    Alone the sun arises, and alone
        Spring the great streams.

    But, if the wild unfathered mass no birth
        In divine seats hath known;
    In the blank, echoing solitude, if Earth,
    Rocking her obscure body to and fro,
    Ceases not from all time to heave and groan,
    Unfruitful oft, and at her happiest throe
        Forms, what she forms, alone;

    Oh, seeming sole to awake, thy sun-bathed head
        Piercing the solemn cloud
    Round thy still dreaming brother-world outspread!
    O man, whom Earth, thy long-vexed mother, bare
    Not without joy,--so radiant, so endowed
    (Such happy issue crowned her painful care),--
        Be not too proud!

    Oh, when most self-exalted most alone,
        Chief dreamer, own thy dream!
    Thy brother-world stirs at thy feet unknown;
    Who hath a monarch’s hath no brother’s part--
    Yet doth thine inmost soul with yearning teem.
    Oh, what a spasm shakes the dreamer’s heart!
          “_I, too, but seem._”



_THE WORLD AND THE QUIETIST._

TO CRITIAS.


        “Why, when the world’s great mind
        Hath finally inclined,
    Why,” you say, Critias, “be debating still?
        Why, with these mournful rhymes
        Learned in more languid climes,
        Blame our activity
        Who, with such passionate will,
        Are what we mean to be?”

        Critias, long since, I know
        (For Fate decreed it so),
    Long since the world hath set its heart to live;
        Long since, with credulous zeal
        It turns life’s mighty wheel,
        Still doth for laborers send
        Who still their labor give,
        And still expects an end.

        Yet, as the wheel flies round,
        With no ungrateful sound
    Do adverse voices fall on the world’s ear.
        Deafened by his own stir,
        The rugged laborer
        Caught not till then a sense
        So glowing and so near
          Of his omnipotence.

        So, when the feast grew loud
        In Susa’s palace proud,
    A white-robed slave stole to the great king’s side.
        He spake--the great king heard;
        Felt the slow-rolling word
        Swell his attentive soul;
        Breathed deeply as it died,
          And drained his mighty bowl.



_THE SECOND BEST._


    Moderate tasks and moderate leisure,
    Quiet living, strict-kept measure
    Both in suffering and in pleasure,--
      ’Tis for this thy nature yearns.

    But so many books thou readest,
    But so many schemes thou breedest,
    But so many wishes feedest,
      That thy poor head almost turns.

    And (the world’s so madly jangled,
    Human things so fast entangled)
    Nature’s wish must now be strangled
      For that best which she discerns.

    So it _must_ be! yet, while leading
    A strained life, while over-feeding,
    Like the rest, his wit with reading,
      No small profit that man earns,--

    Who through all he meets can steer him,
    Can reject what cannot clear him,
    Cling to what can truly cheer him;
      Who each day more surely learns

    That an impulse, from the distance
    Of his deepest, best existence,
    To the words, “Hope, Light, Persistence,”
      Strongly sets and truly burns.



_CONSOLATION._


    Mist clogs the sunshine.
    Smoky dwarf houses
    Hem me round everywhere;
    A vague dejection
    Weighs down my soul.

    Yet, while I languish,
    Everywhere countless
    Prospects unroll themselves,
    And countless beings
    Pass countless moods.

    Far hence, in Asia,
    On the smooth convent-roofs,
    On the gold terraces,
    Of holy Lassa,
    Bright shines the sun.

    Gray time-worn marbles
    Hold the pure Muses;
    In their cool gallery,
    By yellow Tiber,
    They still look fair.

    Strange unloved uproar[A]
    Shrills round their portal;
    Yet not on Helicon
    Kept they more cloudless
    Their noble calm.

    Through sun-proof alleys
    In a lone, sand-hemmed
    City of Africa,
    A blind, led beggar,
    Age-bowed, asks alms.

    No bolder robber
    Erst abode ambushed
    Deep in the sandy waste;
    No clearer eyesight
    Spied prey afar.

    Saharan sand-winds
    Seared his keen eyeballs;
    Spent is the spoil he won.
    For him the present
    Holds only pain.

    Two young, fair lovers,
    Where the warm June-wind,
    Fresh from the summer fields
    Plays fondly round them,
    Stand, tranced in joy.

    With sweet, joined voices,
    And with eyes brimming,
    “Ah!” they cry, “Destiny,
    Prolong the present!
    Time, stand still here!”

    The prompt stern goddess
    Shakes her head, frowning:
    Time gives his hour-glass
    Its due reversal;
    Their hour is gone.

    With weak indulgence
    Did the just goddess
    Lengthen their happiness,
    She lengthened also
    Distress elsewhere.

    The hour whose happy
    Unalloyed moments
    I would eternalize,
    Ten thousand mourners
    Well pleased see end.

    The bleak, stern hour,
    Whose severe moments
    I would annihilate,
    Is passed by others
    In warmth, light, joy.

    Time, so complained of,
    Who to no one man
    Shows partiality,
    Brings round to all men
    Some undimmed hours.

 [A] Written during the siege of Rome by the French, 1849.



_RESIGNATION._

TO FAUSTA.


    _To die be given us, or attain!
    Fierce work it were, to do again._

    So pilgrims, bound for Mecca, prayed
    At burning noon; so warriors said,
    Scarfed with the cross, who watched the miles
    Of dust which wreathed their struggling files
    Down Lydian mountains; so, when snows
    Round Alpine summits, eddying, rose,
    The Goth, bound Rome-wards; so the Hun,
    Crouched on his saddle, while the sun
    Went lurid down o’er flooded plains
    Through which the groaning Danube strains
    To the drear Euxine: so pray all,
    Whom labors, self-ordained, inthrall;
    Because they to themselves propose
    On this side the all-common close
    A goal which, gained, may give repose.
    So pray they; and to stand again
    Where they stood once, to them were pain;
    Pain to thread back and to renew
    Past straits, and currents long steered through.

    But milder natures, and more free,--
    Whom an unblamed serenity
    Hath freed from passions, and the state
    Of struggle these necessitate;
    Whom schooling of the stubborn mind
    Hath made, or birth hath found, resigned,--
    These mourn not, that their goings pay
    Obedience to the passing day.
    These claim not every laughing hour
    For handmaid to their striding power;
    Each in her turn, with torch upreared,
    To await their march; and when appeared,
    Through the cold gloom, with measured race,
    To usher for a destined space
    (Her own sweet errands all foregone)
    The too imperious traveller on.
    These, Fausta, ask not this; nor thou,
    Time’s chafing prisoner, ask it now!

    We left just ten years since, you say,
    That wayside inn we left to-day.[4]
    Our jovial host, as forth we fare,
    Shouts greeting from his easy-chair.
    High on a bank our leader stands,
    Reviews and ranks his motley bands,
    Makes clear our goal to every eye,--
    The valley’s western boundary.
    A gate swings to! our tide hath flowed
    Already from the silent road.
    The valley-pastures, one by one,
    Are threaded, quiet in the sun;
    And now, beyond the rude stone bridge,
    Slopes gracious up the western ridge.
    Its woody border, and the last
    Of its dark upland farms, is past;
    Cool farms, with open-lying stores,
    Under their burnished sycamores,--
    All past! and through the trees we glide
    Emerging on the green hillside.
    There climbing hangs, a far-seen sign,
    Our wavering, many-colored line;
    There winds, up-streaming slowly still
    Over the summit of the hill.
    And now, in front, behold outspread
    Those upper regions we must tread,--
    Mild hollows, and clear heathy swells,
    The cheerful silence of the fells.

    Some two hours’ march, with serious air,
    Through the deep noontide heats we fare;
    The red-grouse, springing at our sound,
    Skims, now and then, the shining ground;
    No life, save his and ours, intrudes
    Upon these breathless solitudes.
    Oh, joy! again the farms appear.
    Cool shade is there, and rustic cheer;
    There springs the brook will guide us down,
    Bright comrade, to the noisy town.
    Lingering, we follow down; we gain
    The town, the highway, and the plain.
    And many a mile of dusty way,
    Parched and road-worn, we made that day;
    But, Fausta, I remember well,
    That as the balmy darkness fell,
    We bathed our hands with speechless glee,
    That night, in the wide-glimmering sea.

    Once more we tread this self-same road,
    Fausta, which ten years since we trod;
    Alone we tread it, you and I,
    Ghosts of that boisterous company.
    Here, where the brook shines, near its head,
    In its clear, shallow, turf-fringed bed;
    Here, whence the eye first sees, far down,
    Capped with faint smoke, the noisy town,--
    Here sit we, and again unroll,
    Though slowly, the familiar whole.
    The solemn wastes of heathy hill
    Sleep in the July sunshine still;
    The self-same shadows now, as then,
    Play through this grassy upland glen;
    The loose dark stones on the green way
    Lie strewn, it seems, where then they lay;
    On this mild bank above the stream,
    (You crush them!) the blue gentians gleam.
    Still this wild brook, the rushes cool,
    The sailing foam, the shining pool!
    These are not changed; and we, you say,
    Are scarce more changed, in truth, than they.

    The gypsies, whom we met below,
    They too have long roamed to and fro;
    They ramble, leaving, where they pass,
    Their fragments on the cumbered grass.
    And often to some kindly place
    Chance guides the migratory race,
    Where, though long wanderings intervene,
    They recognize a former scene.
    The dingy tents are pitched; the fires
    Give to the wind their wavering spires;
    In dark knots crouch round the wild flame
    Their children, as when first they came;
    They see their shackled beasts again
    Move, browsing, up the gray-walled lane.
    Signs are not wanting, which might raise
    The ghost in them of former days,--
    Signs are not wanting, if they would;
    Suggestions to disquietude.
    For them, for all, time’s busy touch,
    While it mends little, troubles much.
    Their joints grow stiffer--but the year
    Runs his old round of dubious cheer;
    Chilly they grow--yet winds in March,
    Still, sharp as ever, freeze and parch;
    They must live still--and yet, God knows,
    Crowded and keen the country grows;
    It seems as if, in their decay,
    The law grew stronger every day.
    So might they reason, so compare,
    Fausta, times past with times that are;
    But no! they rubbed through yesterday
    In their hereditary way,
    And they will rub through, if they can,
    To-morrow on the self-same plan,
    Till death arrive to supersede,
    For them, vicissitude and need.

    The poet, to whose mighty heart
    Heaven doth a quicker pulse impart,
    Subdues that energy to scan
    Not his own course, but that of man.
    Though he move mountains, though his day
    Be passed on the proud heights of sway,
    Though he hath loosed a thousand chains,
    Though he hath borne immortal pains,
    Action and suffering though he know,--
    He hath not lived, if he lives so.
    He sees, in some great-historied land,
    A ruler of the people stand,
    Sees his strong thought in fiery flood
    Roll through the heaving multitude,
    Exults--yet for no moment’s space
    Envies the all-regarded place.
    Beautiful eyes meet his, and he
    Bears to admire uncravingly;
    They pass: he, mingled with the crowd,
    Is in their far-off triumphs proud.

    From some high station he looks down,
    At sunset, on a populous town;
    Surveys each happy group which fleets,
    Toil ended, through the shining streets,--
    Each with some errand of its own,--
    And does not say, _I am alone_.
    He sees the gentle stir of birth
    When morning purifies the earth;
    He leans upon a gate, and sees
    The pastures, and the quiet trees.
    Low, woody hill, with gracious bound,
    Folds the still valley almost round;
    The cuckoo, loud on some high lawn,
    Is answered from the depth of dawn;
    In the hedge straggling to the stream,
    Pale, dew-drenched, half-shut roses gleam.
    But, where the farther side slopes down,
    He sees the drowsy new-waked clown
    In his white quaint-embroidered frock
    Make, whistling, toward his mist-wreathed flock,
    Slowly, behind his heavy tread,
    The wet, flowered grass heaves up its head.
    Leaned on his gate, he gazes: tears
    Are in his eyes, and in his ears
    The murmur of a thousand years.
    Before him he sees life unroll,
    A placid and continuous whole,--
    That general life, which does not cease,
    Whose secret is not joy, but peace;
    That life, whose dumb wish is not missed
    If birth proceeds, if things subsist;
    The life of plants, and stones, and rain,
    The life he craves--if not in vain
    Fate gave, what chance shall not control,
    His sad lucidity of soul.

    You listen; but that wandering smile,
    Fausta, betrays you cold the while!
    Your eyes pursue the bells of foam
    Washed, eddying, from this bank, their home.
    _Those gypsies_--so your thoughts I scan--
    _Are less, the poet more, than man_.
    _They feel not, though they move and see._
    _Deeper the poet feels; but he_
    _Breathes, when he will, immortal air,_
    _Where Orpheus and where Homer are._
    _In the day’s life, whose iron round_
    _Hems us all in, he is not bound;_
    _He leaves his kind, o’erleaps their pen,_
    _And flees the common life of men._
    _He escapes thence, but we abide._
   _ Not deep the poet sees, but wide._

    The world in which we live and move
    Outlasts aversion, outlasts love,
    Outlasts each effort, interest, hope,
    Remorse, grief, joy; and, were the scope
    Of these affections wider made,
    Man still would see, and see dismayed,
    Beyond his passion’s widest range,
    Far regions of eternal change.
    Nay, and since death, which wipes out man,
    Finds him with many an unsolved plan,
    With much unknown, and much untried,
    Wonder not dead, and thirst not dried,
    Still gazing on the ever full
    Eternal mundane spectacle,--
    This world in which we draw our breath,
    In some sense, Fausta, outlasts death.

      Blame thou not, therefore, him who dares
    Judge vain beforehand human cares;
    Whose natural insight can discern
    What through experience others learn;
    Who needs not love and power, to know
    Love transient, power an unreal show;
    Who treads at ease life’s uncheered ways:
    Him blame not, Fausta, rather praise!
    Rather thyself for some aim pray,
    Nobler than this, to fill the day;
    Rather that heart, which burns in thee,
    Ask, not to amuse, but to set free;
    Be passionate hopes not ill resigned
    For quiet, and a fearless mind.
    And though fate grudge to thee and me
    The poet’s rapt security,
    Yet they, believe me, who await
    No gifts from chance, have conquered fate.
    They, winning room to see and hear,
    And to men’s business not too near,
    Through clouds of individual strife
    Draw homeward to the general life.
    Like leaves by suns not yet uncurled;
    To the wise, foolish; to the world,
    Weak: yet not weak, I might reply,
    Not foolish, Fausta, in His eye,
    To whom each moment in its race,
    Crowd as we will its neutral space,
    Is but a quiet watershed
    Whence, equally, the seas of life and death are fed.

    Enough, we live! and if a life
    With large results so little rife,
    Though bearable, seem hardly worth
    This pomp of worlds, this pain of birth;
    Yet, Fausta, the mute turf we tread,
    The solemn hills around us spread,
    This stream which falls incessantly,
    The strange-scrawled rocks, the lonely sky,
    If I might lend their life a voice,
    Seem to bear rather than rejoice.
    And even could the intemperate prayer
    Man iterates, while these forbear,
    For movement, for an ampler sphere,
    Pierce Fate’s impenetrable ear;
    Not milder is the general lot
    Because our spirits have forgot,
    In action’s dizzying eddy whirled,
    The something that infects the world.



NARRATIVE POEMS.



_SOHRAB AND RUSTUM._[5]

AN EPISODE.


    And the first gray of morning filled the east,
    And the fog rose out of the Oxus stream.
    But all the Tartar camp along the stream
    Was hushed, and still the men were plunged in sleep.
    Sohrab alone, he slept not; all night long
    He had lain wakeful, tossing on his bed:
    But when the gray dawn stole into his tent,
    He rose, and clad himself, and girt his sword,
    And took his horseman’s cloak, and left his tent,
    And went abroad into the cold wet fog,
    Through the dim camp to Peran-Wisa’s tent.
      Through the black Tartar tents he passed, which stood
    Clustering like bee-hives on the low flat strand
    Of Oxus, where the summer-floods o’erflow
    When the sun melts the snows in high Pamere;
    Through the black tents he passed, o’er that low strand,
    And to a hillock came, a little back
    From the stream’s brink,--the spot where first a boat,
    Crossing the stream in summer, scrapes the land.
    The men of former times had crowned the top
    With a clay fort; but that was fallen, and now
    The Tartars built there Peran-Wisa’s tent,
    A dome of laths, and o’er it felts were spread.
    And Sohrab came there, and went in, and stood
    Upon the thick piled carpets in the tent,
    And found the old man sleeping on his bed
    Of rugs and felts, and near him lay his arms.
    And Peran-Wisa heard him, though the step
    Was dulled; for he slept light, an old man’s sleep;
    And he rose quickly on one arm, and said,--
      “Who art thou? for it is not yet clear dawn.
    Speak! is there news, or any night alarm?”
      But Sohrab came to the bedside, and said,--
    “Thou know’st me, Peran-Wisa! it is I.
    The sun has not yet risen, and the foe
    Sleep: but I sleep not; all night long I lie
    Tossing and wakeful, and I come to thee.
    For so did King Afrasiab bid me seek
    Thy counsel, and to heed thee as thy son,
    In Samarcand, before the army marched;
    And I will tell thee what my heart desires.
    Thou know’st if, since from Ader-baijan first
    I came among the Tartars, and bore arms,
    I have still served Afrasiab well, and shown,
    At my boy’s years, the courage of a man.
    This too thou know’st, that while I still bear on
    The conquering Tartar ensigns through the world,
    And beat the Persians back on every field,
    I seek one man, one man, and one alone,--
    Rustum, my father; who I hoped should greet,
    Should one day greet, upon some well-fought field,
    His not unworthy, not inglorious son.
    So I long hoped, but him I never find.
    Come then, hear now, and grant me what I ask.
    Let the two armies rest to-day; but I
    Will challenge forth the bravest Persian lords
    To meet me, man to man: if I prevail,
    Rustum will surely hear it; if I fall--
    Old man, the dead need no one, claim no kin.
    Dim is the rumor of a common fight,
    Where host meets host, and many names are sunk;
    But of a single combat fame speaks clear.”
      He spoke; and Peran-Wisa took the hand
    Of the young man in his, and sighed, and said,--
      “O Sohrab, an unquiet heart is thine!
    Canst thou not rest among the Tartar chiefs,
    And share the battle’s common chance with us
    Who love thee, but must press forever first,
    In single fight incurring single risk,
    To find a father thou hast never seen?
    That were far best, my son, to stay with us
    Unmurmuring; in our tents, while it is war,
    And when ’tis truce, then in Afrasiab’s towns.
    But if this one desire indeed rules all,
    To seek out Rustum--seek him not through fight!
    Seek him in peace, and carry to his arms,
    O Sohrab, carry an unwounded son!
    But far hence seek him, for he is not here.
    For now it is not as when I was young,
    When Rustum was in front of every fray:
    But now he keeps apart, and sits at home,
    In Seistan, with Zal, his father old;
    Whether that his own mighty strength at last
    Feels the abhorred approaches of old age;
    Or in some quarrel with the Persian king.
    There go!--Thou wilt not? Yet my heart forebodes
    Danger or death awaits thee on this field.
    Fain would I know thee safe and well, though lost
    To us; fain therefore send thee hence in peace
    To seek thy father, not seek single fights
    In vain. But who can keep the lion’s cub
    From ravening, and who govern Rustum’s son?
    Go, I will grant thee what thy heart desires.”
      So said he, and dropped Sohrab’s hand, and left
    His bed, and the warm rugs whereon he lay;
    And o’er his chilly limbs his woollen coat
    He passed, and tied his sandals on his feet,
    And threw a white cloak round him, and he took
    In his right hand a ruler’s staff, no sword;
    And on his head he set his sheep-skin cap,
    Black, glossy, curled, the fleece of Kara-Kul;
    And raised the curtain of his tent, and called
    His herald to his side, and went abroad.
      The sun by this had risen, and cleared the fog
    From the broad Oxus and the glittering sands.
    And from their tents the Tartar horsemen filed
    Into the open plain: so Haman bade,--
    Haman, who next to Peran-Wisa ruled
    The host, and still was in his lusty prime.
    From their black tents, long files of horse, they streamed;
    As when some gray November morn the files,
    In marching order spread, of long-necked cranes
    Stream over Casbin and the southern slopes
    Of Elburz, from the Aralian estuaries,
    Or some frore Caspian reed-bed, southward bound
    For the warm Persian seaboard,--so they streamed.
    The Tartars of the Oxus, the king’s guard,
    First, with black sheep-skin caps and with long spears;
    Large men, large steeds, who from Bokhara come
    And Khiva, and ferment the milk of mares.
    Next, the more temperate Toorkmuns of the south,
    The Tukas, and the lances of Salore,
    And those from Attruck and the Caspian sands;
    Light men and on light steeds, who only drink
    The acrid milk of camels, and their wells.
    And then a swarm of wandering horse, who came
    From far, and a more doubtful service owned,--
    The Tartars of Ferghana, from the banks
    Of the Jaxartes, men with scanty beards
    And close-set skull-caps; and those wilder hordes
    Who roam o’er Kipchak and the northern waste,
    Kalmucks and unkempt Kuzzaks, tribes who stray
    Nearest the Pole, and wandering Kirghizzes,
    Who come on shaggy ponies from Pamere,--
    These all filed out from camp into the plain.
    And on the other side the Persians formed,--
    First a light cloud of horse, Tartars they seemed,
    The Ilyats of Khorassan; and behind,
    The royal troops of Persia, horse and foot,
    Marshalled battalions bright in burnished steel.
    But Peran-Wisa with his herald came,
    Threading the Tartar squadrons to the front,
    And with his staff kept back the foremost ranks.
    And when Ferood, who led the Persians, saw
    That Peran-Wisa kept the Tartars back,
    He took his spear, and to the front he came,
    And checked his ranks, and fixed them where they stood.
    And the old Tartar came upon the sand
    Betwixt the silent hosts, and spake, and said,--
      “Ferood, and ye, Persians and Tartars, hear!
    Let there be truce between the hosts to-day.
    But choose a champion from the Persian lords
    To fight our champion Sohrab, man to man.”
      As in the country, on a morn in June,
    When the dew glistens on the pearled ears,
    A shiver runs through the deep corn for joy,--
    So, when they heard what Peran-Wisa said,
    A thrill through all the Tartar squadrons ran
    Of pride and hope for Sohrab, whom they loved.
      But as a troop of pedlers from Cabool
    Cross underneath the Indian Caucasus,
    That vast sky-neighboring mountain of milk snow;
    Crossing so high, that, as they mount, they pass
    Long flocks of travelling birds dead on the snow,
    Choked by the air, and scarce can they themselves
    Slake their parched throats with sugared mulberries;
    In single file they move, and stop their breath,
    For fear they should dislodge the o’erhanging snows,--
    So the pale Persians held their breath with fear.
      And to Ferood his brother chiefs came up
    To counsel; Gudurz and Zoarrah came,
    And Feraburz, who ruled the Persian host
    Second, and was the uncle of the king;
    These came and counselled, and then Gudurz said,--
      “Ferood, shame bids us take their challenge up,
    Yet champion have we none to match this youth.
    He has the wild stag’s foot, the lion’s heart.
    But Rustum came last night; aloof he sits
    And sullen, and has pitched his tents apart.
    Him will I seek, and carry to his ear
    The Tartar challenge, and this young man’s name;
    Haply he will forget his wrath, and fight.
    Stand forth the while, and take their challenge up.”
      So spake he; and Ferood stood forth and cried,--
    “Old man, be it agreed as thou hast said!
    Let Sohrab arm, and we will find a man.”
      He spake; and Peran-Wisa turned, and strode
    Back through the opening squadrons to his tent.
    But through the anxious Persians Gudurz ran,
    And crossed the camp which lay behind, and reached,
    Out on the sands beyond it, Rustum’s tents.
    Of scarlet cloth they were, and glittering gay,
    Just pitched; the high pavilion in the midst
    Was Rustum’s, and his men lay camped around.
    And Gudurz entered Rustum’s tent, and found
    Rustum; his morning meal was done, but still
    The table stood before him, charged with food,--
    A side of roasted sheep, and cakes of bread,
    And dark-green melons; and there Rustum sate
    Listless, and held a falcon on his wrist,
    And played with it; but Gudurz came and stood
    Before him; and he looked, and saw him stand,
    And with a cry sprang up, and dropped the bird,
    And greeted Gudurz with both hands, and said,--
      “Welcome! these eyes could see no better sight.
    What news? but sit down first, and eat and drink.”
      But Gudurz stood in the tent-door, and said,--
    “Not now. A time will come to eat and drink,
    But not to-day: to-day has other needs.
    The armies are drawn out, and stand at gaze;
    For, from the Tartars is a challenge brought
    To pick a champion from the Persian lords
    To fight their champion--and thou know’st his name:
    Sohrab men call him, but his birth is hid.
    O Rustum, like thy might is this young man’s!
    He has the wild stag’s foot, the lion’s heart;
    And he is young, and Iran’s chiefs are old,
    Or else too weak; and all eyes turn to thee.
    Come down and help us, Rustum, or we lose!”
      He spoke; but Rustum answered with a smile,--
    “Go to! if Iran’s chiefs are old, then I
    Am older. If the young are weak, the king
    Errs strangely; for the king, for Kai Khosroo,
    Himself is young, and honors younger men,
    And lets the aged moulder to their graves.
    Rustum he loves no more, but loves the young:
    The young may rise at Sohrab’s vaunts, not I.
    For what care I, though all speak Sohrab’s fame?
    For would that I myself had such a son,
    And not that one slight helpless girl I have!--
    A son so famed, so brave, to send to war,
    And I to tarry with the snow-haired Zal,
    My father, whom the robber Afghans vex,
    And clip his borders short, and drive his herds,
    And he has none to guard his weak old age.
    There would I go, and hang my armor up,
    And with my great name fence that weak old man,
    And spend the goodly treasures I have got,
    And rest my age, and hear of Sohrab’s fame,
    And leave to death the hosts of thankless kings,
    And with these slaughterous hands draw sword no more.”
      He spoke, and smiled; and Gudurz made reply,--
    “What then, O Rustum, will men say to this,
    When Sohrab dares our bravest forth, and seeks
    Thee most of all, and thou, whom most he seeks,
    Hidest thy face? Take heed lest men should say,--
    _Like some old miser, Rustum hoards his fame,_
    _And shuns to peril it with younger men_.”
      And, greatly moved, then Rustum made reply,--
    “O Gudurz, wherefore dost thou say such words?
    Thou knowest better words than this to say.
    What is one more, one less, obscure or famed,
    Valiant or craven, young or old, to me?
    Are not they mortal? am not I myself?
    But who for men of naught would do great deeds?
    Come, thou shalt see how Rustum hoards his fame!
    But I will fight unknown, and in plain arms:
    Let not men say of Rustum, he was matched
    In single fight with any mortal man.”
      He spoke, and frowned; and Gudurz turned, and ran
    Back quickly through the camp in fear and joy,--
    Fear at his wrath, but joy that Rustum came.
    But Rustum strode to his tent-door, and called
    His followers in, and bade them bring his arms,
    And clad himself in steel. The arms he chose
    Were plain, and on his shield was no device;
    Only his helm was rich, inlaid with gold,
    And, from the fluted spine a-top, a plume
    Of horse-hair waved, a scarlet horse-hair plume.
    So armed, he issued forth; and Ruksh, his horse,
    Followed him like a faithful hound at heel,--
    Ruksh, whose renown was noised through all the earth,
    The horse whom Rustum on a foray once
    Did in Bokhara by the river find
    A colt beneath its dam, and drove him home,
    And reared him; a bright bay, with lofty crest,
    Dight with a saddle-cloth of broidered green
    Crusted with gold, and on the ground were worked
    All beasts of chase, all beasts which hunters know.
    So followed, Rustum left his tents, and crossed
    The camp, and to the Persian host appeared.
    And all the Persians knew him, and with shouts
    Hailed; but the Tartars knew not who he was.
    And dear as the wet diver to the eyes
    Of his pale wife who waits and weeps on shore,
    By sandy Bahrein, in the Persian Gulf,
    Plunging all day in the blue waves, at night,
    Having made up his tale of precious pearls,
    Rejoins her in their hut upon the sands,--
    So dear to the pale Persians Rustum came.
      And Rustum to the Persian front advanced;
    And Sohrab armed in Haman’s tent, and came.
    And as a-field the reapers cut a swath
    Down through the middle of a rich man’s corn,
    And on each side are squares of standing corn,
    And in the midst a stubble short and bare,--
    So on each side were squares of men, with spears
    Bristling, and in the midst the open sand.
    And Rustum came upon the sand, and cast
    His eyes toward the Tartar tents, and saw
    Sohrab come forth, and eyed him as he came.
      As some rich woman, on a winter’s morn,
    Eyes through her silken curtains the poor drudge
    Who with numb blackened fingers makes her fire,--
    At cock-crow, on a starlit winter’s morn,
    When the frost flowers the whitened window-panes,--
    And wonders how she lives, and what the thoughts
    Of that poor drudge may be; so Rustum eyed
    The unknown adventurous youth, who from afar
    Came seeking Rustum, and defying forth
    All the most valiant chiefs; long he perused
    His spirited air, and wondered who he was.
    For very young he seemed, tenderly reared;
    Like some young cypress, tall and dark and straight,
    Which in a queen’s secluded garden throws
    Its slight dark shadow on the moonlit turf,
    By midnight, to a bubbling fountain’s sound,--
    So slender Sohrab seemed, so softly reared.
    And a deep pity entered Rustum’s soul
    As he beheld him coming; and he stood,
    And beckoned to him with his hand, and said,--
      “O thou young man, the air of heaven is soft,
    And warm, and pleasant; but the grave is cold!
    Heaven’s air is better than the cold dead grave.
    Behold me! I am vast, and clad in iron,
    And tried; and I have stood on many a field
    Of blood, and I have fought with many a foe:
    Never was that field lost, or that foe saved.
    O Sohrab, wherefore wilt thou rush on death?
    Be governed: quit the Tartar host, and come
    To Iran, and be as my son to me,
    And fight beneath my banner till I die!
    There are no youths in Iran brave as thou.”
      So he spake, mildly. Sohrab heard his voice,
    The mighty voice of Rustum, and he saw
    His giant figure planted on the sand,
    Sole, like some single tower, which a chief
    Hath builded on the waste in former years
    Against the robbers; and he saw that head,
    Streaked with its first gray hairs; hope filled his soul,
    And he ran forward, and embraced his knees,
    And clasped his hand within his own, and said,--
      “Oh, by thy father’s head! by thine own soul!
    Art thou not Rustum? Speak! art thou not he?”
      But Rustum eyed askance the kneeling youth,
    And turned away, and spake to his own soul,--
      “Ah me! I muse what this young fox may mean!
    False, wily, boastful, are these Tartar boys.
    For if I now confess this thing he asks,
    And hide it not, but say, _Rustum is here!_
    He will not yield indeed, nor quit our foes;
    But he will find some pretext not to fight,
    And praise my fame, and proffer courteous gifts,
    A belt or sword perhaps, and go his way.
    And on a feast-tide, in Afrasiab’s hall
    In Samarcand, he will arise and cry,--
      ‘I challenged once, when the two armies camped
    Beside the Oxus, all the Persian lords
    To cope with me in single fight; but they
    Shrank, only Rustum dared; then he and I
    Changed gifts, and went on equal terms away.’
    So will he speak, perhaps, while men applaud;
    Then were the chiefs of Iran shamed through me.”
      And then he turned, and sternly spake aloud,--
    “Rise! wherefore dost thou vainly question thus
    Of Rustum? I am here, whom thou hast called
    By challenge forth; make good thy vaunt, or yield!
    Is it with Rustum only thou wouldst fight?
    Rash boy, men look on Rustum’s face, and flee!
    For well I know, that did great Rustum stand
    Before thy face this day, and were revealed,
    There would be then no talk of fighting more.
    But being what I am, I tell thee this,--
    Do thou record it in thine inmost soul:
    Either thou shalt renounce thy vaunt, and yield,
    Or else thy bones shall strew this sand, till winds
    Bleach them, or Oxus with his summer-floods,
    Oxus in summer wash them all away.”
      He spoke; and Sohrab answered, on his feet,--
    “Art thou so fierce? Thou wilt not fight me so!
    I am no girl, to be made pale by words.
    Yet this thou hast said well, did Rustum stand
    Here on this field, there were no fighting then.
    But Rustum is far hence, and we stand here.
    Begin! thou art more vast, more dread than I;
    And thou art proved, I know, and I am young--
    But yet success sways with the breath of Heaven.
    And though thou thinkest that thou knowest sure
    Thy victory, yet thou canst not surely know.
    For we are all, like swimmers in the sea,
    Poised on the top of a huge wave of fate,
    Which hangs uncertain to which side to fall;
    And whether it will heave us up to land,
    Or whether it will roll us out to sea,--
    Back out to sea, to the deep waves of death,--
    We know not, and no search will make us know:
    Only the event will teach us in its hour.”
      He spoke; and Rustum answered not, but hurled
    His spear: down from the shoulder, down it came,
    As on some partridge in the corn a hawk,
    That long has towered in the airy clouds,
    Drops like a plummet; Sohrab saw it come,
    And sprang aside, quick as a flash; the spear
    Hissed, and went quivering down into the sand,
    Which it sent flying wide. Then Sohrab threw
    In turn, and full struck Rustum’s shield; sharp rang,
    The iron plates rang sharp, but turned the spear.
    And Rustum seized his club, which none but he
    Could wield; an unlopped trunk it was, and huge,
    Still rough,--like those which men in treeless plains
    To build them boats fish from the flooded rivers,
    Hyphasis or Hydaspes, when, high up
    By their dark springs, the wind in winter-time
    Hath made in Himalayan forests wrack,
    And strewn the channels with torn boughs,--so huge
    The club which Rustum lifted now, and struck
    One stroke; but again Sohrab sprang aside,
    Lithe as the glancing snake, and the club came
    Thundering to earth, and leapt from Rustum’s hand.
    And Rustum followed his own blow, and fell
    To his knees, and with his fingers clutched the sand.
    And now might Sohrab have unsheathed his sword,
    And pierced the mighty Rustum while he lay
    Dizzy, and on his knees, and choked with sand;
    But he looked on, and smiled, nor bared his sword,
    But courteously drew back, and spoke, and said,--
      “Thou strik’st too hard! that club of thine will float
    Upon the summer-floods, and not my bones.
    But rise, and be not wroth! not wroth am I;
    No, when I see thee, wrath forsakes my soul.
    Thou say’st thou art not Rustum; be it so!
    Who art thou, then, that canst so touch my soul?
    Boy as I am, I have seen battles too,--
    Have waded foremost in their bloody waves,
    And heard their hollow roar of dying men;
    But never was my heart thus touched before.
    Are they from Heaven, these softenings of the heart?
    O thou old warrior, let us yield to Heaven!
    Come, plant we here in earth our angry spears,
    And make a truce, and sit upon this sand,
    And pledge each other in red wine, like friends,
    And thou shalt talk to me of Rustum’s deeds.
    There are enough foes in the Persian host,
    Whom I may meet, and strike, and feel no pang;
    Champions enough Afrasiab has, whom thou
    Mayst fight; fight _them_, when they confront thy spear!
    But oh, let there be peace ’twixt thee and me!”
      He ceased; but while he spake, Rustum had risen,
    And stood erect, trembling with rage; his club
    He left to lie, but had regained his spear,
    Whose fiery point now in his mailed right hand
    Blazed bright and baleful, like that autumn-star,
    The baleful sign of fevers; dust had soiled
    His stately crest, and dimmed his glittering arms.
    His breast heaved, his lips foamed, and twice his voice
    Was choked with rage; at last these words broke way:--
      “Girl! nimble with thy feet, not with thy hands!
    Curled minion, dancer, coiner of sweet words!
    Fight, let me hear thy hateful voice no more!
    Thou art not in Afrasiab’s gardens now
    With Tartar girls, with whom thou art wont to dance;
    But on the Oxus-sands, and in the dance
    Of battle, and with me, who make no play
    Of war: I fight it out, and hand to hand.
    Speak not to me of truce, and pledge, and wine!
    Remember all thy valor; try thy feints
    And cunning! all the pity I had is gone,
    Because thou hast shamed me before both the hosts
    With thy light skipping tricks and thy girl’s wiles.”
      He spoke; and Sohrab kindled at his taunts,
    And he too drew his sword; at once they rushed
    Together, as two eagles on one prey
    Come rushing down together from the clouds,
    One from the east, one from the west; their shields
    Dashed with a clang together, and a din
    Rose, such as that the sinewy woodcutters
    Make often in the forest’s heart at morn,
    Of hewing axes, crashing trees,--such blows
    Rustum and Sohrab on each other hailed.
    And you would say that sun and stars took part
    In that unnatural conflict: for a cloud
    Grew suddenly in heaven, and darked the sun
    Over the fighters’ heads; and a wind rose
    Under their feet, and moaning swept the plain,
    And in a sandy whirlwind wrapped the pair.
    In gloom they twain were wrapped, and they alone;
    For both the on-looking hosts on either hand
    Stood in broad daylight, and the sky was pure,
    And the sun sparkled on the Oxus stream.
    But in the gloom they fought, with bloodshot eyes
    And laboring breath. First Rustum struck the shield
    Which Sohrab held stiff out; the steel-spiked spear
    Rent the tough plates, but failed to reach the skin,
    And Rustum plucked it back with angry groan.
    Then Sohrab with his sword smote Rustum’s helm,
    Nor clove its steel quite through; but all the crest
    He shore away, and that proud horse-hair plume,
    Never till now defiled, sank to the dust;
    And Rustum bowed his head. But then the gloom
    Grew blacker, thunder rumbled in the air,
    And lightnings rent the cloud; and Ruksh the horse,
    Who stood at hand, uttered a dreadful cry:
    No horse’s cry was that, most like the roar
    Of some pained desert-lion, who all day
    Has trailed the hunter’s javelin in his side,
    And comes at night to die upon the sand;
    The two hosts heard that cry, and quaked for fear,
    And Oxus curdled as it crossed his stream.
    But Sohrab heard, and quailed not, but rushed on,
    And struck again; and again Rustum bowed
    His head; but this time all the blade, like glass,
    Sprang in a thousand shivers on the helm,
    And in the hand the hilt remained alone.
    Then Rustum raised his head; his dreadful eyes
    Glared, and he shook on high his menacing spear,
    And shouted, _Rustum_! Sohrab heard that shout,
    And shrank amazed: back he recoiled one step,
    And scanned with blinking eyes the advancing form;
    And then he stood bewildered, and he dropped
    His covering shield, and the spear pierced his side.
    He reeled, and staggering back sank to the ground.
    And then the gloom dispersed, and the wind fell,
    And the bright sun broke forth, and melted all
    The cloud; and the two armies saw the pair,--
    Saw Rustum standing safe upon his feet,
    And Sohrab wounded on the bloody sand.
      Then, with a bitter smile, Rustum began,--
    “Sohrab, thou thoughtest in thy mind to kill
    A Persian lord this day, and strip his corpse,
    And bear thy trophies to Afrasiab’s tent;
    Or else that the great Rustum would come down
    Himself to fight, and that thy wiles would move
    His heart to take a gift, and let thee go.
    And then that all the Tartar host would praise
    Thy courage or thy craft, and spread thy fame,
    To glad thy father in his weak old age.
    Fool, thou art slain, and by an unknown man!
    Dearer to the red jackals shalt thou be
    Than to thy friends, and to thy father old.”
      And, with a fearless mien, Sohrab replied,--
    “Unknown thou art, yet thy fierce vaunt is vain.
    Thou dost not slay me, proud and boastful man!
    No! Rustum slays me, and this filial heart.
    For, were I matched with ten such men as thee,
    And I were that which till to-day I was,
    They should be lying here, I standing there.
    But that belovèd name unnerved my arm,--
    That name, and something, I confess, in thee,
    Which troubles all my heart, and made my shield
    Fall; and thy spear transfixed an unarmed foe.
    And now thou boastest, and insult’st my fate.
    But hear thou this, fierce man, tremble to hear:
    The mighty Rustum shall avenge my death!
    My father, whom I seek through all the world,
    He shall avenge my death, and punish thee!”
      As when some hunter in the spring hath found
    A breeding eagle sitting on her nest,
    Upon the craggy isle of a hill-lake,
    And pierced her with an arrow as she rose,
    And followed her to find her where she fell
    Far off; anon her mate comes winging back
    From hunting, and a great way off descries
    His huddling young left sole; at that, he checks
    His pinion, and with short uneasy sweeps
    Circles above his eyry, with loud screams
    Chiding his mate back to her nest; but she
    Lies dying, with the arrow in her side,
    In some far stony gorge out of his ken,
    A heap of fluttering feathers,--never more
    Shall the lake glass her, flying over it;
    Never the black and dripping precipices
    Echo her stormy scream as she sails by,--
    As that poor bird flies home, nor knows his loss,
    So Rustum knew not his own loss, but stood
    Over his dying son, and knew him not.
      And with a cold, incredulous voice, he said,--
    “What prate is this of fathers and revenge?
    The mighty Rustum never had a son.”
      And, with a failing voice, Sohrab replied,--
    “Ah, yes, he had! and that lost son am I.
    Surely the news will one day reach his ear,--
    Reach Rustum, where he sits, and tarries long,
    Somewhere, I know not where, but far from here;
    And pierce him like a stab, and make him leap
    To arms, and cry for vengeance upon thee.
    Fierce man, bethink thee, for an only son!
    What will that grief, what will that vengeance, be?
    Oh, could I live till I that grief had seen!
    Yet him I pity not so much, but her,
    My mother, who in Ader-baijan dwells
    With that old king, her father, who grows gray
    With age, and rules over the valiant Koords.
    Her most I pity, who no more will see
    Sohrab returning from the Tartar camp,
    With spoils and honor, when the war is done.
    But a dark rumor will be bruited up,
    From tribe to tribe, until it reach her ear;
    And then will that defenceless woman learn
    That Sohrab will rejoice her sight no more;
    But that in battle with a nameless foe,
    By the far-distant Oxus, he is slain.”
      He spoke; and as he ceased, he wept aloud,
    Thinking of her he left, and his own death.
    He spoke; but Rustum listened, plunged in thought.
    Nor did he yet believe it was his son
    Who spoke, although he called back names he knew;
    For he had had sure tidings that the babe
    Which was in Ader-baijan born to him
    Had been a puny girl, no boy at all--
    So that sad mother sent him word, for fear
    Rustum should seek the boy, to train in arms.
    And so he deemed that either Sohrab took,
    By a false boast, the style of Rustum’s son;
    Or that men gave it him, to swell his fame.
    So deemed he: yet he listened, plunged in thought;
    And his soul set to grief, as the vast tide
    Of the bright rocking ocean sets to shore
    At the full moon; tears gathered in his eyes;
    For he remembered his own early youth,
    And all its bounding rapture; as, at dawn,
    The shepherd from his mountain-lodge descries
    A far, bright city, smitten by the sun,
    Through many rolling clouds,--so Rustum saw
    His youth; saw Sohrab’s mother in her bloom;
    And that old king, her father, who loved well
    His wandering guest, and gave him his fair child
    With joy; and all the pleasant life they led,
    They three, in that long-distant summer-time,--
    The castle, and the dewy woods, and hunt
    And hound, and morn on those delightful hills
    In Ader-baijan. And he saw that youth,
    Of age and looks to be his own dear son,
    Piteous and lovely, lying on the sand;
    Like some rich hyacinth which by the scythe
    Of an unskilful gardener has been cut,
    Mowing the garden grass-plots near its bed,
    And lies, a fragrant tower of purple bloom,
    On the mown, dying grass,--so Sohrab lay,
    Lovely in death, upon the common sand.
    And Rustum gazed on him with grief, and said,--
      “O Sohrab, thou indeed art such a son
    Whom Rustum, wert thou his, might well have loved!
    Yet here thou errest, Sohrab, or else men
    Have told thee false: thou art not Rustum’s son.
    For Rustum had no son: one child he had,--
    But one,--a girl; who with her mother now
    Plies some light female task, nor dreams of us,--
    Of us she dreams not, nor of wounds, nor war.”
      But Sohrab answered him in wrath; for now
    The anguish of the deep-fixed spear grew fierce,
    And he desired to draw forth the steel,
    And let the blood flow free, and so to die.
    But first he would convince his stubborn foe;
    And, rising sternly on one arm, he said,--
      “Man, who art thou who dost deny my words?
    Truth sits upon the lips of dying men;
    And falsehood, while I lived, was far from mine.
    I tell thee, pricked upon this arm I bear
    That seal which Rustum to my mother gave,
    That she might prick it on the babe she bore.”
      He spoke; and all the blood left Rustum’s cheeks,
    And his knees tottered, and he smote his hand
    Against his breast, his heavy mailèd hand,
    That the hard iron corslet clanked aloud;
    And to his heart he pressed the other hand,
    And in a hollow voice he spake, and said,--
      “Sohrab, that were a proof which could not lie!
    If thou show this, then art thou Rustum’s son.”
      Then, with weak hasty fingers, Sohrab loosed
    His belt, and near the shoulder bared his arm,
    And showed a sign in faint vermilion points
    Pricked; as a cunning workman, in Pekin,
    Pricks with vermilion some clear porcelain vase,
    An emperor’s gift,--at early morn he paints,
    And all day long, and, when night comes, the lamp
    Lights up his studious forehead and thin hands,--
    So delicately pricked the sign appeared
    On Sohrab’s arm, the sign of Rustum’s seal.
    It was that griffin which of old reared Zal,
    Rustum’s great father, whom they left to die,
    A helpless babe, among the mountain rocks;
    Him that kind creature found, and reared, and loved;
    Then Rustum took it for his glorious sign.
    And Sohrab bared that image on his arm,
    And himself scanned it long with mournful eyes,
    And then he touched it with his hand, and said,--
      “How say’st thou? Is that sign the proper sign
    Of Rustum’s son, or of some other man’s?”
      He spoke; but Rustum gazed, and gazed, and stood
    Speechless; and then he uttered one sharp cry,--
    _O boy--thy father!_ and his voice choked there.
    And then a dark cloud passed before his eyes,
    And his head swam, and he sank down to earth.
    But Sohrab crawled to where he lay, and cast
    His arms about his neck, and kissed his lips,
    And with fond faltering fingers stroked his cheeks,
    Trying to call him back to life; and life
    Came back to Rustum, and he oped his eyes,
    And they stood wide with horror; and he seized
    In both his hands the dust which lay around,
    And threw it on his head, and smirched his hair,--
    His hair, and face, and beard, and glittering arms;
    And strong convulsive groanings shook his breast,
    And his sobs choked him; and he clutched his sword,
    To draw it, and forever let life out.
    But Sohrab saw his thought, and held his hands,
    And with a soothing voice he spake, and said,--
      “Father, forbear! for I but meet to-day
    The doom which at my birth was written down
    In Heaven, and thou art Heaven’s unconscious hand.
    Surely my heart cried out that it was thou,
    When first I saw thee; and thy heart spoke too,
    I know it! But fate trod those promptings down
    Under its iron heel; fate, fate engaged
    The strife, and hurled me on my father’s spear.
    But let us speak no more of this. I find
    My father, let me feel that I have found!
    Come, sit beside me on this sand, and take
    My head betwixt thy hands, and kiss my cheeks,
    And wash them with thy tears, and say, _My son!_
    Quick, quick! for numbered are my sands of life,
    And swift; for like the lightning to this field
    I came, and like the wind I go away,--
    Sudden, and swift, and like a passing wind;
    But it was writ in Heaven that this should be.”
      So said he; and his voice released the heart
    Of Rustum, and his tears broke forth; he cast
    His arms round his son’s neck, and wept aloud,
    And kissed him. And awe fell on both the hosts,
    When they saw Rustum’s grief; and Ruksh, the horse,
    With his head bowing to the ground, and mane
    Sweeping the dust, came near, and in mute woe
    First to the one, then to the other, moved
    His head, as if inquiring what their grief
    Might mean; and from his dark, compassionate eyes,
    The big warm tears rolled down, and caked the sand.
    But Rustum chid him with stern voice, and said,--
      “Ruksh, now thou grievest; but, O Ruksh, thy feet
    Should then have rotted on their nimble joints,
    When first they bore thy master to this field!”
      But Sohrab looked upon the horse, and said,--
    “Is this, then, Ruksh? How often, in past days,
    My mother told me of thee, thou brave steed,
    My terrible father’s terrible horse! and said,
    That I should one day find thy lord and thee.
    Come, let me lay my hand upon thy mane!
    O Ruksh, thou art more fortunate than I!
    For thou hast gone where I shall never go,
    And snuffed the breezes of my father’s home.
    And thou hast trod the sands of Seistan,
    And seen the River of Helmund, and the Lake
    Of Zirrah; and the aged Zal himself
    Has often stroked thy neck, and given thee food,
    Corn in a golden platter, soaked with wine,
    And said, _O Ruksh! bear Rustum well!_ But I
    Have never known my grandsire’s furrowed face,
    Nor seen his lofty house in Seistan,
    Nor slaked my thirst at the clear Helmund stream;
    But lodged among my father’s foes, and seen
    Afrasiab’s cities only, Samarcand,
    Bokhara, and lone Khiva in the waste,
    And the black Toorkmun tents; and only drunk
    The desert rivers, Moorghab and Tejend,
    Kohik, and where the Kalmuks feed their sheep,
    The northern Sir; and this great Oxus stream,
    The yellow Oxus, by whose brink I die.”
      Then, with a heavy groan, Rustum bewailed,--
    “Oh that its waves were flowing over me!
    Oh that I saw its grains of yellow silt
    Roll tumbling in the current o’er my head!”
      But, with a grave mild voice, Sohrab replied,--
    “Desire not that, my father! thou must live.
    For some are born to do great deeds, and live
    As some are born to be obscured, and die.
    Do thou the deeds I die too young to do,
    And reap a second glory in thine age;
    Thou art my father, and thy gain is mine.
    But come! thou seest this great host of men
    Which follow me; I pray thee, slay not these!
    Let me entreat for them: what have they done?
    They followed me, my hope, my fame, my star.
    Let them all cross the Oxus back in peace.
    But me thou must bear hence, not send with them,
    But carry me with thee to Seistan,
    And place me on a bed, and mourn for me,--
    Thou, and the snow-haired Zal, and all thy friends.
    And thou must lay me in that lovely earth,
    And heap a stately mound above my bones,
    And plant a far-seen pillar over all;
    That so the passing horseman on the waste
    May see my tomb a great way off, and cry,--
    _Sohrab, the mighty Rustum’s son, lies there,_
    _Whom his great father did in ignorance kill!_
    And I be not forgotten in my grave.”
      And, with a mournful voice, Rustum replied,--
    “Fear not! as thou hast said, Sohrab my son,
    So shall it be; for I will burn my tents,
    And quit the host, and bear thee hence with me,
    And carry thee away to Seistan,
    And place thee on a bed, and mourn for thee,
    With the snow-headed Zal, and all my friends.
    And I will lay thee in that lovely earth,
    And heap a stately mound above thy bones,
    And plant a far-seen pillar over all,
    And men shall not forget thee in thy grave.
    And I will spare thy host; yea, let them go!
    Let them all cross the Oxus back in peace!
    What should I do with slaying any more?
    For would that all whom I have ever slain
    Might be once more alive,--my bitterest foes,
    And they who were called champions in their time,
    And through whose death I won that fame I have,--
    And I were nothing but a common man,
    A poor, mean soldier, and without renown,
    So thou mightest live too, my son, my son!
    Or rather would that I, even I myself,
    Might now be lying on this bloody sand,
    Near death, and by an ignorant stroke of thine,
    Not thou of mine! and I might die, not thou;
    And I, not thou, be borne to Seistan;
    And Zal might weep above my grave, not thine;
    And say, _O son, I weep thee not too sore,
    For willingly, I know, thou met’st thine end!_
    But now in blood and battles was my youth,
    And full of blood and battles is my age,
    And I shall never end this life of blood.”
      Then, at the point of death, Sohrab replied,--
    “A life of blood indeed, thou dreadful man!
    But thou shalt yet have peace; only not now,
    Not yet! but thou shalt have it on that day,
    When thou shalt sail in a high-masted ship,
    Thou and the other peers of Kai Khosroo,
    Returning home over the salt blue sea,
    From laying thy dear master in his grave.”
      And Rustum gazed in Sohrab’s face, and said,--
    “Soon be that day, my son, and deep that sea!
    Till then, if fate so wills, let me endure.”
      He spoke; and Sohrab smiled on him, and took
    The spear, and drew it from his side, and eased
    His wound’s imperious anguish; but the blood
    Came welling from the open gash, and life
    Flowed with the stream; all down his cold white side
    The crimson torrent ran, dim now and soiled,
    Like the soiled tissue of white violets
    Left, freshly gathered, on their native bank,
    By children whom their nurses call with haste
    In-doors from the sun’s eye; his head drooped low,
    His limbs grew slack; motionless, white, he lay,--
    White, with eyes closed; only when heavy gasps,
    Deep heavy gasps quivering through all his frame,
    Convulsed him back to life, he opened them,
    And fixed them feebly on his father’s face;
    Till now all strength was ebbed, and from his limbs
    Unwillingly the spirit fled away,
    Regretting the warm mansion which it left,
    And youth, and bloom, and this delightful world.
      So, on the bloody sand, Sohrab lay dead;
    And the great Rustum drew his horseman’s cloak
    Down o’er his face, and sate by his dead son.
    As those black granite pillars, once high-reared
    By Jemshid in Persepolis, to bear
    His house, now ’mid their broken flights of steps
    Lie prone, enormous, down the mountain side,--
    So in the sand lay Rustum by his son.
      And night came down over the solemn waste,
    And the two gazing hosts, and that sole pair,
    And darkened all; and a cold fog, with night,
    Crept from the Oxus. Soon a hum arose,
    As of a great assembly loosed, and fires
    Began to twinkle through the fog; for now
    Both armies moved to camp, and took their meal;
    The Persians took it on the open sands
    Southward, the Tartars by the river-marge;
    And Rustum and his son were left alone.

      But the majestic river floated on,
    Out of the mist and hum of that low land,
    Into the frosty starlight, and there moved,
    Rejoicing, through the hushed Chorasmian waste,
    Under the solitary moon; he flowed
    Right for the polar star, past Orgunjè,
    Brimming, and bright, and large; then sands begin
    To hem his watery march, and dam his streams,
    And split his currents; that for many a league
    The shorn and parcelled Oxus strains along
    Through beds of sand and matted rushy isles,--
    Oxus, forgetting the bright speed he had
    In his high mountain cradle in Pamere,
    A foiled circuitous wanderer,--till at last
    The longed-for dash of waves is heard, and wide
    His luminous home of waters opens, bright
    And tranquil, from whose floor the new-bathed stars
    Emerge, and shine upon the Aral Sea.



_THE SICK KING IN BOKHARA._


HUSSEIN.

    O most just vizier, send away
    The cloth-merchants, and let them be,
    Them and their dues, this day! the king
    Is ill at ease, and calls for thee.


THE VIZIER.

    O merchants, tarry yet a day
    Here in Bokhara! but at noon
    To-morrow come, and ye shall pay
    Each fortieth web of cloth to me,
    As the law is, and go your way.

    O Hussein, lead me to the king!
    Thou teller of sweet tales, thine own,
    Ferdousi’s, and the others’, lead!
    How is it with my lord?


HUSSEIN.

                              Alone,
    Ever since prayer-time, he doth wait,
    O vizier! without lying down,
    In the great window of the gate,
    Looking into the Registàn,
    Where through the sellers’ booths the slaves
    Are this way bringing the dead man
    O vizier, here is the king’s door!


THE KING.

    O vizier, I may bury him?


THE VIZIER.

    O king, thou know’st, I have been sick
    These many days, and heard no thing
    (For Allah shut my ears and mind),
    Not even what thou dost, O king!
    Wherefore, that I may counsel thee,
    Let Hussein, if thou wilt, make haste
    To speak in order what hath chanced.


THE KING.

    O vizier, be it as thou say’st!


HUSSEIN.

    Three days since, at the time of prayer,
    A certain Moollah, with his robe
    All rent, and dust upon his hair,
    Watched my lord’s coming forth, and pushed
    The golden mace-bearers aside,
    And fell at the king’s feet, and cried,--

    “Justice, O king, and on myself!
    On this great sinner, who did break
    The law, and by the law must die!
    Vengeance, O king!”

                            But the king spake:
    “What fool is this, that hurts our ears
    With folly? or what drunken slave?
    My guards, what! prick him with your spears!
    Prick me the fellow from the path!”

    As the king said, so was it done,
    And to the mosque my lord passed on.

    But on the morrow, when the king
    Went forth again, the holy book
    Carried before him, as is right,
    And through the square his way he took;

    My man comes running, flecked with blood
    From yesterday, and falling down
    Cries out most earnestly, “O king,
    My lord, O king, do right, I pray!

    “How canst thou, ere thou hear, discern
    If I speak folly? but a king,
    Whether a thing be great or small,
    Like Allah, hears and judges all.

    “Wherefore hear thou! Thou know’st, how fierce
    In these last days the sun hath burned;
    That the green water in the tanks
    Is to a putrid puddle turned;
    And the canal, that from the stream
    Of Samarcand is brought this way,
    Wastes and runs thinner every day.

    ‘Now I at nightfall had gone forth
    Alone, and in a darksome place
    Under some mulberry-trees I found
    A little pool; and in short space
    With all the water that was there
    I filled my pitcher, and stole home
    Unseen; and having drink to spare,
    I hid the can behind the door,
    And went up on the roof to sleep.

    “But in the night, which was with wind
    And burning dust, again I creep
    Down, having fever, for a drink.

    “Now, meanwhile had my brethren found
    The water-pitcher, where it stood
    Behind the door upon the ground,
    And called my mother; and they all,
    As they were thirsty, and the night
    Most sultry, drained the pitcher there;
    That they sate with it, in my sight,
    Their lips still wet, when I came down.

    “Now mark! I, being fevered, sick,
    (Most unblest also), at that sight
    Brake forth, and cursed them--dost thou hear?--
    One was my mother.---- Now do right!”

    But my lord mused a space, and said,--
    “Send him away, sirs, and make on!
    It is some madman,” the king said.
    As the king bade, so was it done.

    The morrow, at the self-same hour,
    In the king’s path, behold, the man,
    Not kneeling, sternly fixed! He stood
    Right opposite, and thus began,
    Frowning grim down: “Thou wicked king,
    Most deaf where thou shouldst most give ear!
    What! must I howl in the next world,
    Because thou wilt not listen here?

    “What! wilt thou pray, and get thee grace,
    And all grace shall to me be grudged?
    Nay, but I swear, from this thy path
    I will not stir till I be judged!”

    Then they who stood about the king
    Drew close together, and conferred;
    Till that the king stood forth, and said,
    “Before the priests thou shalt be heard.”

    But when the Ulemas were met,
    And the thing heard, they doubted not;
    But sentenced him, as the law is,
    To die by stoning on the spot.

    Now the king charged us secretly:
    “Stoned must he be, the law stands so.
    Yet, if he seek to fly, give way:
    Hinder him not, but let him go.”

    So saying, the king took a stone,
    And cast it softly; but the man,
    With a great joy upon his face,
    Kneeled down, and cried not, neither ran.

    So they, whose lot it was, cast stones,
    That they flew thick, and bruised him sore.
    But he praised Allah with loud voice,
    And remained kneeling as before.

    My lord had covered up his face;
    But when one told him, “He is dead,”
    Turning him quickly to go in,
    “Bring thou to me his corpse,” he said.

    And truly, while I speak, O king,
    I hear the bearers on the stair:
    Wilt thou they straightway bring him in?
   --Ho! enter ye who tarry there!


THE VIZIER.

    O king, in this I praise thee not!
    Now must I call thy grief not wise.
    Is he thy friend, or of thy blood,
    To find such favor in thine eyes?

    Nay, were he thine own mother’s son,
    Still thou art king, and the law stands.
    It were not meet the balance swerved,
    The sword were broken in thy hands.

    But being nothing, as he is,
    Why for no cause make sad thy face?
    Lo, I am old! three kings ere thee
    Have I seen reigning in this place.

    But who, through all this length of time,
    Could bear the burden of his years,
    If he for strangers pained his heart
    Not less than those who merit tears?

    Fathers we _must_ have, wife and child,
    And grievous is the grief for these;
    This pain alone, which _must_ be borne,
    Makes the head white, and bows the knees.

    But other loads than this his own,
    One man is not well made to bear.
    Besides, to each are his own friends,
    To mourn with him, and show him care.

    Look, this is but one single place,
    Though it be great; all the earth round,
    If a man bear to have it so,
    Things which might vex him shall be found.

    Upon the Russian frontier, where
    The watchers of two armies stand
    Near one another, many a man,
    Seeking a prey unto his hand,

    Hath snatched a little fair-haired slave;
    They snatch also, towards Mervè,
    The Shiah dogs, who pasture sheep,
    And up from thence to Orgunjè.

    And these all, laboring for a lord,
    Eat not the fruit of their own hands;
    Which is the heaviest of all plagues,
    To that man’s mind who understands.

    The kaffirs also (whom God curse!)
    Vex one another, night and day;
    There are the lepers, and all sick;
    There are the poor, who faint alway.

    All these have sorrow, and keep still,
    Whilst other men make cheer, and sing.
    Wilt thou have pity on all these?
    No, nor on this dead dog, O king!


THE KING.

    O vizier, thou art old, I young!
    Clear in these things I cannot see.
    My head is burning, and a heat
    Is in my skin which angers me.

    But hear ye this, ye sons of men!
    They that bear rule, and are obeyed,
    Unto a rule more strong than theirs
    Are in their turn obedient made.

    In vain therefore, with wistful eyes
    Gazing up hither, the poor man,
    Who loiters by the high-heaped booths,
    Below there, in the Registàn,--

    Says, “Happy he who lodges there!
    With silken raiment, store of rice,
    And for this drought, all kinds of fruits,
    Grape-sirup, squares of colored ice,--

    “With cherries served in drifts of snow.”
    In vain hath a king power to build
    Houses, arcades, enamelled mosques;
    And to make orchard-closes, filled

    With curious fruit-trees brought from far,
    With cisterns for the winter-rain,
    And, in the desert, spacious inns
    In divers places,--if that pain

    Is not more lightened, which he feels,
    If his will be not satisfied;
    And that it be not, from all time
    The law is planted, to abide.

    Thou wast a sinner, thou poor man!
    Thou wast athirst; and didst not see,
    That, though we take what we desire,
    We must not snatch it eagerly.

    And I have meat and drink at will,
    And rooms of treasures, not a few.
    But I am sick, nor heed I these;
    And what I would, I cannot do.

    Even the great honor which I have,
    When I am dead, will soon grow still;
    So have I neither joy, nor fame.
    But what I can do, that I will.

    I have a fretted brick-work tomb
    Upon a hill on the right hand,
    Hard by a close of apricots,
    Upon the road of Samarcand;

    Thither, O vizier, will I bear
    This man my pity could not save,
    And, plucking up the marble flags,
    There lay his body in my grave.

    Bring water, nard, and linen-rolls!
    Wash off all blood, set smooth each limb!
    Then say, “He was not wholly vile,
    Because a king shall bury him.”



_BALDER DEAD._[6]


I. SENDING.

    So on the floor lay Balder dead; and round
    Lay thickly strewn swords, axes, darts, and spears,
    Which all the gods in sport had idly thrown
    At Balder, whom no weapon pierced or clove;
    But in his breast stood fixed the fatal bough
    Of mistletoe, which Lok the Accuser gave
    To Hoder, and unwitting Hoder threw threw--
    ’Gainst that alone had Balder’s life no charm.
      And all the gods and all the heroes came,
    And stood round Balder on the bloody floor,
    Weeping and wailing; and Valhalla rang
    Up to its golden roof with sobs and cries;
    And on the tables stood the untasted meats,
    And in the horns and gold-rimmed sculls the wine.
    And now would night have fallen, and found them yet
    Wailing; but otherwise was Odin’s will.
    And thus the Father of the ages spake:--
      “Enough of tears, ye gods, enough of wail!
    Not to lament in was Valhalla made.
    If any here might weep for Balder’s death,
    I most might weep, his father; such a son
    I lose to-day, so bright, so loved a god.
    But he has met that doom which long ago
    The Nornies, when his mother bare him, spun,
    And fate set seal, that so his end must be.
    Balder has met his death, and ye survive.
    Weep him an hour, but what can grief avail?
    For ye yourselves, ye gods, shall meet your doom,--
    All ye who hear me, and inhabit heaven,
    And I too, Odin too, the lord of all.
    But ours we shall not meet, when that day comes,
    With women’s tears and weak complaining cries:
    Why should we meet another’s portion so?
    Rather it fits you, having wept your hour,
    With cold dry eyes, and hearts composed and stern,
    To live, as erst, your daily life in heaven.
    By me shall vengeance on the murderer Lok,
    The foe, the accuser, whom, though gods, we hate,
    Be strictly cared for, in the appointed day.
    Meanwhile, to-morrow, when the morning dawns,
    Bring wood to the seashore to Balder’s ship,
    And on the deck build high a funeral pile,
    And on the top lay Balder’s corpse, and put
    Fire to the wood, and send him out to sea
    To burn; for that is what the dead desire.”
      So spake the king of gods, and straightway rose,
    And mounted his horse Sleipner, whom he rode;
    And from the hall of heaven he rode away
    To Lidskialf, and sate upon his throne,
    The mount, from whence his eye surveys the world.
    And far from heaven he turned his shining orbs
    To look on Midgard, and the earth, and men.
    And on the conjuring Lapps he bent his gaze,
    Whom antlered reindeer pull over the snow;
    And on the Finns, the gentlest of mankind,
    Fair men, who live in holes under the ground;
    Nor did he look once more to Ida’s plain,
    Nor toward Valhalla and the sorrowing gods;
    For well he knew the gods would heed his word,
    And cease to mourn, and think of Balder’s pyre.
      But in Valhalla all the gods went back
    From around Balder, all the heroes went;
    And left his body stretched upon the floor.
    And on their golden chairs they sate again,
    Beside the tables, in the hall of heaven;
    And before each the cooks who served them placed
    New messes of the boar Serimner’s flesh,
    And the Valkyries crowned their horns with mead.
    So they, with pent-up hearts and tearless eyes,
    Wailing no more, in silence ate and drank,
    While twilight fell, and sacred night came on.
      But the blind Hoder left the feasting gods
    In Odin’s hall, and went through Asgard streets,
    And past the haven where the gods have moored
    Their ships, and through the gate, beyond the wall;
    Though sightless, yet his own mind led the god.
    Down to the margin of the roaring sea
    He came, and sadly went along the sand,
    Between the waves and black o’erhanging cliffs
    Where in and out the screaming seafowl fly;
    Until he came to where a gully breaks
    Through the cliff-wall, and a fresh stream runs down
    From the high moors behind, and meets the sea.
    There, in the glen, Fensaler stands, the house
    Of Frea, honored mother of the gods,
    And shows its lighted windows to the main.
    There he went up, and passed the open doors;
    And in the hall he found those women old,
    The prophetesses, who by rite eterne
    On Frea’s hearth feed high the sacred fire
    Both night and day; and by the inner wall
    Upon her golden chair the mother sate,
    With folded hands, revolving things to come.
    To her drew Hoder near, and spake, and said,--
      “Mother, a child of bale thou bar’st in me!
    For, first, thou barest me with blinded eyes,
    Sightless and helpless, wandering weak in heaven;
    And, after that, of ignorant witless mind
    Thou barest me, and unforeseeing soul;
    That I alone must take the branch from Lok,
    The foe, the accuser, whom, though gods, we hate,
    And cast it at the dear-loved Balder’s breast,
    At whom the gods in sport their weapons threw.
    ’Gainst that alone had Balder’s life no charm.
    Now therefore what to attempt, or whither fly,
    For who will bear my hateful sight in heaven?
    Can I, O mother, bring them Balder back?
    Or--for thou know’st the fates, and things allowed--
    Can I with Hela’s power a compact strike,
    And make exchange, and give my life for his?”
      He spoke: the mother of the gods replied,--
    “Hoder, ill-fated, child of bale, my son,
    Sightless in soul and eye, what words are these?
    That one, long portioned with his doom of death,
    Should change his lot, and fill another’s life,
    And Hela yield to this, and let him go!
    On Balder, Death hath laid her hand, not thee;
    Nor doth she count this life a price for that.
    For many gods in heaven, not thou alone,
    Would freely die to purchase Balder back,
    And wend themselves to Hela’s gloomy realm.
    For not so gladsome is that life in heaven
    Which gods and heroes lead, in feast and fray,
    Waiting the darkness of the final times,
    That one should grudge its loss for Balder’s sake,--
    Balder their joy, so bright, so loved a god.
    But fate withstands, and laws forbid this way.
    Yet in my secret mind one way I know,
    Nor do I judge if it shall win or fail;
    But much must still be tried, which shall but fail.”
      And the blind Hoder answered her, and said,--
    “What way is this, O mother, that thou show’st?
    Is it a matter which a god might try?”
      And straight the mother of the gods replied,--
    “There is a way which leads to Hela’s realm,
    Untrodden, lonely, far from light and heaven.
    Who goes that way must take no other horse
    To ride, but Sleipner, Odin’s horse, alone.
    Nor must he choose that common path of gods
    Which every day they come and go in heaven,
    O’er the bridge Bifrost, where is Heimdall’s watch,
    Past Midgard fortress, down to earth and men.
    But he must tread a dark untravelled road
    Which branches from the north of heaven, and ride
    Nine days, nine nights, toward the northern ice,
    Through valleys deep-ingulfed with roaring streams.
    And he will reach on the tenth morn a bridge
    Which spans with golden arches Giall’s stream,
    Not Bifrost, but that bridge a damsel keeps,
    Who tells the passing troops of dead their way
    To the low shore of ghosts, and Hela’s realm.
    And she will bid him northward steer his course.
    Then he will journey through no lighted land,
    Nor see the sun arise, nor see it set;
    But he must ever watch the northern Bear,
    Who from her frozen height with jealous eye
    Confronts the Dog and Hunter in the south,
    And is alone not dipt in ocean’s stream;
    And straight he will come down to ocean’s strand,--
    Ocean, whose watery ring infolds the world,
    And on whose marge the ancient giants dwell.
    But he will reach its unknown northern shore,
    Far, far beyond the outmost giant’s home,
    At the chinked fields of ice, the wastes of snow.
    And he must fare across the dismal ice
    Northward, until he meets a stretching wall
    Barring his way, and in the wall a grate.
    But then he must dismount, and on the ice
    Tighten the girths of Sleipner, Odin’s horse,
    And make him leap the grate, and come within.
    And he will see stretch round him Hela’s realm,
    The plains of Niflheim, where dwell the dead,
    And hear the roaring of the streams of hell.
    And he will see the feeble, shadowy tribes,
    And Balder sitting crowned, and Hela’s throne.
    Then must he not regard the wailful ghosts
    Who all will flit, like eddying leaves, around;
    But he must straight accost their solemn queen,
    And pay her homage, and entreat with prayers,
    Telling her all that grief they have in heaven
    For Balder, whom she holds by right below;
    If haply he may melt her heart with words,
    And make her yield, and give him Balder back.”
      She spoke; but Hoder answered her and said,--
    “Mother, a dreadful way is this thou show’st;
    No journey for a sightless god to go!”
      And straight the mother of the gods replied,--
    “Therefore thyself thou shalt not go, my son.
    But he whom first thou meetest when thou com’st
    To Asgard, and declar’st this hidden way,
    Shall go; and I will be his guide unseen.”
    She spoke, and on her face let fall her veil,
    And bowed her head, and sate with folded hands.
    But at the central hearth those women old,
    Who while the mother spake had ceased their toil,
    Began again to heap the sacred fire.
    And Hoder turned, and left his mother’s house,
    Fensaler, whose lit windows look to sea;
    And came again down to the roaring waves,
    And back along the beach to Asgard went,
    Pondering on that which Frea said should be.
      But night came down, and darkened Asgard streets.
    Then from their loathèd feast the gods arose,
    And lighted torches, and took up the corpse
    Of Balder from the floor of Odin’s hall,
    And laid it on a bier, and bare him home
    Through the fast-darkening streets to his own house
    Breidablik, on whose columns Balder graved
    The enchantments that recall the dead to life.
    For wise he was, and many curious arts,
    Postures of runes, and healing herbs he knew;
    Unhappy! but that art he did not know,
    To keep his own life safe, and see the sun.
    There to his hall the gods brought Balder home,
    And each bespake him as he laid him down,--
      “Would that ourselves, O Balder, we were borne
    Home to our halls, with torchlight, by our kin,
    So thou might’st live, and still delight the gods!”
      They spake, and each went home to his own house.
    But there was one, the first of all the gods
    For speed, and Hermod was his name in heaven;
    Most fleet he was, but now he went the last,
    Heavy in heart for Balder, to his house
    Which he in Asgard built him, there to dwell,
    Against the harbor, by the city-wall.
    Him the blind Hoder met, as he came up
    From the sea cityward, and knew his step;
    Nor yet could Hermod see his brother’s face,
    For it grew dark; but Hoder touched his arm.
    And as a spray of honeysuckle-flowers
    Brushes across a tired traveller’s face
    Who shuffles through the deep dew-moistened dust,
    On a May evening, in the darkened lanes,
    And starts him, that he thinks a ghost went by,--
    So Hoder brushed by Hermod’s side, and said,--
      “Take Sleipner, Hermod, and set forth with dawn
    To Hela’s kingdom, to ask Balder back;
    And they shall be thy guides, who have the power.”
    He spake, and brushed soft by, and disappeared.
    And Hermod gazed into the night, and said,--
      “Who is it utters through the dark his best
    So quickly, and will wait for no reply?
    The voice was like the unhappy Hoder’s voice.
    Howbeit I will see, and do his hest;
    For there rang note divine in that command.”
      So speaking, the fleet-footed Hermod came
    Home, and lay down to sleep in his own house;
    And all the gods lay down in their own homes.
    And Hoder too came home, distraught with grief,
    Loathing to meet, at dawn, the other gods;
    And he went in, and shut the door, and fixed
    His sword upright, and fell on it, and died.
      But from the hill of Lidskialf Odin rose,--
    The throne from which his eye surveys the world,--
    And mounted Sleipner, and in darkness rode
    To Asgard. And the stars came out in heaven,
    High over Asgard, to light home the king.
    But fiercely Odin galloped, moved in heart;
    And swift to Asgard, to the gate, he came;
    And terribly the hoofs of Sleipner rang
    Along the flinty floor of Asgard streets;
    And the gods trembled on their golden beds
    Hearing the wrathful Father coming home,--
    For dread, for like a whirlwind, Odin came.
    And to Valhalla’s gate he rode, and left
    Sleipner; and Sleipner went to his own stall;
    And in Valhalla Odin laid him down.
      But in Breidablik Nanna, Balder’s wife,
    Came with the goddesses who wrought her will,
    And stood by Balder lying on his bier.
    And at his head and feet she stationed scalds
    Who in their lives were famous for their song;
    These o’er the corpse intoned a plaintive strain,
    A dirge,--and Nanna and her train replied.
    And far into the night they wailed their dirge;
    But when their souls were satisfied with wail,
    They went, and laid them down, and Nanna went
    Into an upper chamber, and lay down;
    And Frea sealed her tired lids with sleep.
      And ’twas when night is bordering hard on dawn,
    When air is chilliest, and the stars sunk low;
    Then Balder’s spirit through the gloom drew near,
    In garb, in form, in feature, as he was,
    Alive; and still the rays were round his head
    Which were his glorious mark in heaven; he stood
    Over against the curtain of the bed,
    And gazed on Nanna as she slept, and spake,--
      “Poor lamb, thou sleepest, and forgett’st thy woe!
    Tears stand upon the lashes of thine eyes,
    Tears wet the pillow by thy cheek; but thou,
    Like a young child, hast cried thyself to sleep.
    Sleep on; I watch thee, and am here to aid.
    Alive I kept not far from thee, dear soul!
    Neither do I neglect thee now, though dead.
    For with to-morrow’s dawn the gods prepare
    To gather wood, and build a funeral-pile
    Upon my ship, and burn my corpse with fire,
    That sad, sole honor of the dead; and thee
    They think to burn, and all my choicest wealth,
    With me, for thus ordains the common rite.
    But it shall not be so; but mild, but swift,
    But painless, shall a stroke from Frea come,
    To cut thy thread of life, and free thy soul,
    And they shall burn thy corpse with mine, not thee.
    And well I know that by no stroke of death,
    Tardy or swift, wouldst thou be loath to die,
    So it restored thee, Nanna, to my side,
    Whom thou so well hast loved; but I can smooth
    Thy way, and this, at least, my prayers avail.
    Yes, and I fain would altogether ward
    Death from thy head, and with the gods in heaven
    Prolong thy life, though not by thee desired;
    But right bars this, not only thy desire.
    Yet dreary, Nanna, is the life they lead
    In that dim world, in Hela’s mouldering realm;
    And doleful are the ghosts, the troops of dead,
    Whom Hela with austere control presides.
    For of the race of gods is no one there,
    Save me alone, and Hela, solemn queen.
    For all the nobler souls of mortal men
    On battle-field have met their death, and now
    Feast in Valhalla, in my father’s hall:
    Only the inglorious sort are there below;
    The old, the cowards, and the weak are there,--
    Men spent by sickness, or obscure decay.
    But even there, O Nanna, we might find
    Some solace in each other’s look and speech,
    Wandering together through that gloomy world,
    And talking of the life we led in heaven,
    While we yet lived, among the other gods.”
      He spake, and straight his lineaments began
    To fade; and Nanna in her sleep stretched out
    Her arms towards him with a cry; but he
    Mournfully shook his head, and disappeared.
    And as the woodman sees a little smoke
    Hang in the air afield, and disappear,
    So Balder faded in the night away.
    And Nanna on her bed sank back; but then
    Frea, the mother of the gods, with stroke
    Painless and swift, set free her airy soul,
    Which took, on Balder’s track, the way below;
    And instantly the sacred morn appeared.


II. JOURNEY TO THE DEAD.

    Forth from the east, up the ascent of heaven,
    Day drove his courser with the shining mane;
    And in Valhalla, from his gable-perch,
    The golden-crested cock began to crow.
    Hereafter, in the blackest dead of night,
    With shrill and dismal cries that bird shall crow,
    Warning the gods that foes draw nigh to heaven;
    But now he crew at dawn, a cheerful note,
    To wake the gods and heroes to their tasks.
    And all the gods and all the heroes woke.
    And from their beds the heroes rose, and donned
    Their arms, and led their horses from the stall,
    And mounted them, and in Valhalla’s court
    Were ranged; and then the daily fray began.
    And all day long they there are hacked and hewn
    ’Mid dust, and groans, and limbs lopped off, and blood;
    But all at night return to Odin’s hall
    Woundless and fresh: such lot is theirs in heaven.
    And the Valkyries on their steeds went forth
    Toward earth and fights of men; and at their side
    Skulda, the youngest of the Nornies, rode;
    And over Bifrost, where is Heimdall’s watch,
    Past Midgard fortress, down to earth they came;
    There through some battle-field, where men fall fast,
    Their horses fetlock-deep in blood, they ride,
    And pick the bravest warriors out for death,
    Whom they bring back with them at night to heaven,
    To glad the gods, and feast in Odin’s hall.
      But the gods went not now, as otherwhile,
    Into the tilt-yard, where the heroes fought,
    To feast their eyes with looking on the fray;
    Nor did they to their judgment-place repair
    By the ash Igdrasil, in Ida’s plain,
    Where they hold council, and give laws for men.
    But they went, Odin first, the rest behind,
    To the hall Gladheim, which is built of gold;
    Where are in circle ranged twelve golden chairs,
    And in the midst one higher, Odin’s throne.
    There all the gods in silence sate them down;
    And thus the Father of the ages spake:--
      “Go quickly, gods, bring wood to the seashore,
    With all which it beseems the dead to have,
    And make a funeral-pile on Balder’s ship;
    On the twelfth day the gods shall burn his corpse.
    But, Hermod, thou take Sleipner, and ride down
    To Hela’s kingdom, to ask Balder back.”
      So said he; and the gods arose, and took
    Axes and ropes, and at their head came Thor,
    Shouldering his hammer, which the giants know.
    Forth wended they, and drave their steeds before.
    And up the dewy mountain tracks they fared
    To the dark forests, in the early dawn;
    And up and down, and side and slant they roamed.
    And from the glens all day an echo came
    Of crashing falls; for with his hammer Thor
    Smote ’mid the rocks the lichen-bearded pines,
    And burst their roots, while to their tops the gods
    Made fast the woven ropes, and haled them down,
    And lopped their boughs, and clove them on the sward,
    And bound the logs behind their steeds to draw,
    And drave them homeward; and the snorting steeds
    Went straining through the crackling brushwood down,
    And by the darkling forest-paths the gods
    Followed, and on their shoulders carried boughs.
    And they came out upon the plain, and passed
    Asgard, and led their horses to the beach,
    And loosed them of their loads on the seashore,
    And ranged the wood in stacks by Balder’s ship;
    And every god went home to his own house.

      But when the gods were to the forest gone,
    Hermod led Sleipner from Valhalla forth,
    And saddled him: before that, Sleipner brooked
    No meaner hand than Odin’s on his mane,
    On his broad back no lesser rider bore;
    Yet docile now he stood at Hermod’s side,
    Arching his neck, and glad to be bestrode,
    Knowing the god they went to seek, how dear.
    But Hermod mounted him, and sadly fared
    In silence up the dark untravelled road
    Which branches from the north of heaven, and went
    All day; and daylight waned, and night came on.
    And all that night he rode, and journeyed so,
    Nine days, nine nights, toward the northern ice,
    Through valleys deep-ingulfed, by roaring streams.
    And on the tenth morn he beheld the bridge
    Which spans with golden arches Giall’s stream,
    And on the bridge a damsel watching armed,
    In the strait passage, at the farther end,
    Where the road issues between walling rocks.
    Scant space that warder left for passers-by;
    But as when cowherds in October drive
    Their kine across a snowy mountain pass
    To winter pasture on the southern side,
    And on the ridge a wagon chokes the way,
    Wedged in the snow; then painfully the hinds
    With goad and shouting urge their cattle past,
    Plunging through deep untrodden banks of snow
    To right and left, and warm steam fills the air,--
    So on the bridge that damsel blocked the way,
    And questioned Hermod as he came, and said,--
      “Who art thou on thy black and fiery horse,
    Under whose hoofs the bridge o’er Giall’s stream
    Rumbles and shakes? Tell me thy race and home.
    But yester-morn, five troops of dead passed by,
    Bound on their way below to Hela’s realm,
    Nor shook the bridge so much as thou alone.
    And thou hast flesh and color on thy cheeks,
    Like men who live, and draw the vital air;
    Nor look’st thou pale and wan, like men deceased,
    Souls bound below, my daily passers here.”
      And the fleet-footed Hermod answered her,--
    “O damsel, Hermod am I called, the son
    Of Odin; and my high-roofed house is built
    Far hence, in Asgard, in the city of gods;
    And Sleipner, Odin’s horse, is this I ride.
    And I come, sent this road on Balder’s track:
    Say, then, if he hath crossed thy bridge or no?”
      He spake; the warder of the bridge replied,--
    “O Hermod, rarely do the feet of gods
    Or of the horses of the gods resound
    Upon my bridge; and, when they cross, I know.
    Balder hath gone this way, and ta’en the road
    Below there, to the north, toward Hela’s realm.
    From here the cold white mist can be discerned,
    Not lit with sun, but through the darksome air
    By the dim vapor-blotted light of stars,
    Which hangs over the ice where lies the road.
    For in that ice are lost those northern streams,
    Freezing and ridging in their onward flow,
    Which from the fountain of Vergelmer run,
    The spring that bubbles up by Hela’s throne.
    There are the joyless seats, the haunt of ghosts,
    Hela’s pale swarms; and there was Balder bound.
    Ride on! pass free! but he by this is there.”
      She spake, and stepped aside, and left him room.
    And Hermod greeted her, and galloped by
    Across the bridge; then she took post again.
    But northward Hermod rode, the way below;
    And o’er a darksome tract, which knows no sun,
    But by the blotted light of stars, he fared.
    And he came down to ocean’s northern strand,
    At the drear ice, beyond the giants’ home.
    Thence on he journeyed o’er the fields of ice
    Still north, until he met a stretching wall
    Barring his way, and in the wall a grate.
    Then he dismounted, and drew tight the girths,
    On the smooth ice, of Sleipner, Odin’s horse,
    And made him leap the grate, and came within.
    And he beheld spread round him Hela’s realm,
    The plains of Niflheim, where dwell the dead,
    And heard the thunder of the streams of hell.
    For near the wall the river of Roaring flows,
    Outmost; the others near the centre run,--
    The Storm, the Abyss, the Howling, and the Pain;
    These flow by Hela’s throne, and near their spring.
    And from the dark flocked up the shadowy tribes;
    And as the swallows crowd the bulrush-beds
    Of some clear river, issuing from a lake,
    On autumn-days, before they cross the sea;
    And to each bulrush-crest a swallow hangs
    Swinging, and others skim the river-streams,
    And their quick twittering fills the banks and shores,--
    So around Hermod swarmed the twittering ghosts.
    Women, and infants, and young men who died
    Too soon for fame, with white ungraven shields;
    And old men, known to glory, but their star
    Betrayed them, and of wasting age they died,
    Not wounds; yet, dying, they their armor wore,
    And now have chief regard in Hela’s realm.
    Behind flocked wrangling up a piteous crew,
    Greeted of none, disfeatured and forlorn,--
    Cowards, who were in sloughs interred alive;
    And round them still the wattled hurdles hung
    Wherewith they stamped them down, and trod them deep,
    To hide their shameful memory from men.
    But all he passed unhailed, and reached the throne
    Of Hela, and saw, near it, Balder crowned,
    And Hela set thereon, with countenance stern;
    And thus bespake him first the solemn queen:--
      “Unhappy, how hast thou endured to leave
    The light, and journey to the cheerless land
    Where idly flit about the feeble shades?
    How didst thou cross the bridge o’er Giall’s stream,
    Being alive, and come to ocean’s shore?
    Or how o’erleap the grate that bars the wall?”
      She spake; but down off Sleipner Hermod sprang,
    And fell before her feet, and clasped her knees;
    And spake, and mild entreated her, and said,--
      “O Hela, wherefore should the gods declare
    Their errands to each other, or the ways
    They go? the errand and the way is known.
    Thou know’st, thou know’st, what grief we have in heaven
    For Balder, whom thou hold’st by right below.
    Restore him! for what part fulfils he here?
    Shall he shed cheer over the cheerless seats,
    And touch the apathetic ghosts with joy?
    Not for such end, O queen, thou hold’st thy realm.
    For heaven was Balder born, the city of gods
    And heroes, where they live in light and joy.
    Thither restore him, for his place is there!”
      He spoke; and grave replied the solemn queen,--
    “Hermod, for he thou art, thou son of heaven!
    A strange unlikely errand, sure, is thine.
    Do the gods send to me to make them blest?
    Small bliss my race hath of the gods obtained.
    Three mighty children to my father Lok
    Did Angerbode, the giantess, bring forth,--
    Fenris the wolf, the serpent huge, and me.
    Of these the serpent in the sea ye cast,
    Who since in your despite hath waxed amain,
    And now with gleaming ring infolds the world;
    Me on this cheerless nether world ye threw,
    And gave me nine unlighted realms to rule;
    While on his island in the lake afar,
    Made fast to the bored crag, by wile not strength
    Subdued, with limber chains lives Fenris bound.
    Lok still subsists in heaven, our father wise,
    Your mate, though loathed, and feasts in Odin’s hall;
    But him too foes await, and netted snares,
    And in a cave a bed of needle-rocks,
    And o’er his visage serpents dropping gall.
    Yet he shall one day rise, and burst his bonds,
    And with himself set us his offspring free,
    When he guides Muspel’s children to their bourne.
    Till then in peril or in pain we live,
    Wrought by the gods--and ask the gods our aid?
    Howbeit, we abide our day: till then,
    We do not as some feebler haters do,--
    Seek to afflict our foes with petty pangs,
    Helpless to better us, or ruin them.
    Come, then! if Balder was so dear beloved,
    And this is true, and such a loss is heaven’s,--
    Hear how to heaven may Balder be restored.
    Show me through all the world the signs of grief!
    Fails but one thing to grieve, here Balder stops!
    Let all that lives and moves upon the earth
    Weep him, and all that is without life weep;
    Let gods, men, brutes, beweep him; plants and stones.
    So shall I know the lost was dear indeed,
    And bend my heart, and give him back to heaven.”
      She spake; and Hermod answered her, and said,--
    “Hela, such as thou say’st, the terms shall be.
    But come, declare me this, and truly tell:
    May I, ere I depart, bid Balder hail,
    Or is it here withheld to greet the dead?”
      He spake; and straightway Hela answered him,--
    “Hermod, greet Balder if thou wilt, and hold
    Converse; his speech remains, though he be dead.”
      And straight to Balder Hermod turned, and spake:
    “Even in the abode of death, O Balder, hail!
    Thou hear’st, if hearing, like as speech, is thine,
    The terms of thy releasement hence to heaven;
    Fear nothing but that all shall be fulfilled.
    For not unmindful of thee are the gods,
    Who see the light, and blest in Asgard dwell;
    Even here they seek thee out, in Hela’s realm.
    And, sure, of all the happiest far art thou
    Who ever have been known in earth or heaven:
    Alive, thou wast of gods the most beloved;
    And now thou sittest crowned by Hela’s side,
    Here, and hast honor among all the dead.”
      He spake; and Balder uttered him reply,
    But feebly, as a voice far off; he said,--
      “Hermod the nimble, gild me not my death!
    Better to live a serf, a captured man,
    Who scatters rushes in a master’s hall,
    Than be a crowned king here, and rule the dead.
    And now I count not of these terms as safe
    To be fulfilled, nor my return as sure,
    Though I be loved, and many mourn my death;
    For double-minded ever was the seed
    Of Lok, and double are the gifts they give.
    Howbeit, report thy message; and therewith,
    To Odin, to my father, take this ring,
    Memorial of me, whether saved or no;
    And tell the heaven-born gods how thou hast seen
    Me sitting here below by Hela’s side,
    Crowned, having honor among all the dead.”
      He spake, and raised his hand, and gave the ring.
    And with inscrutable regard the queen
    Of hell beheld them, and the ghosts stood dumb.
    But Hermod took the ring, and yet once more
    Kneeled and did homage to the solemn queen;
    Then mounted Sleipner, and set forth to ride
    Back, through the astonished tribes of dead, to heaven.
    And to the wall he came, and found the grate
    Lifted, and issued on the fields of ice.
    And o’er the ice he fared to ocean’s strand,
    And up from thence, a wet and misty road,
    To the armed damsel’s bridge, and Giall’s stream.
    Worse was that way to go than to return,
    For him: for others, all return is barred.
    Nine days he took to go, two to return,
    And on the twelfth morn saw the light of heaven.
    And as a traveller in the early dawn
    To the steep edge of some great valley comes,
    Through which a river flows, and sees, beneath,
    Clouds of white rolling vapors fill the vale,
    But o’er them, on the farther slope, descries
    Vineyards, and crofts, and pastures, bright with sun,--
    So Hermod, o’er the fog between, saw heaven.
    And Sleipner snorted, for he smelt the air
    Of heaven; and mightily, as winged, he flew.
    And Hermod saw the towers of Asgard rise;
    And he drew near, and heard no living voice
    In Asgard; and the golden halls were dumb.
    Then Hermod knew what labor held the gods;
    And through the empty streets he rode, and passed
    Under the gate-house to the sands, and found
    The gods on the seashore by Balder’s ship.


III. FUNERAL.

    The gods held talk together, grouped in knots,
    Round Balder’s corpse, which they had thither borne;
    And Hermod came down towards them from the gate.
    And Lok, the father of the serpent, first
    Beheld him come, and to his neighbor spake,--
      “See, here is Hermod, who comes single back
    From hell; and shall I tell thee how he seems?
    Like as a farmer, who hath lost his dog,
    Some morn, at market, in a crowded town,--
    Through many streets the poor beast runs in vain,
    And follows this man after that, for hours;
    And late at evening, spent and panting, falls
    Before a stranger’s threshold, not his home,
    With flanks a-tremble, and his slender tongue
    Hangs quivering out between his dust-smeared jaws,
    And piteously he eyes the passers-by;
    But home his master comes to his own farm,
    Far in the country, wondering where he is,--
    So Hermod comes to-day unfollowed home.”
      And straight his neighbor, moved with wrath, replied,--
    “Deceiver! fair in form, but false in heart!
    Enemy, mocker, whom, though gods, we hate,--
    Peace, lest our father Odin hear thee gibe!
    Would I might see him snatch thee in his hand,
    And bind thy carcass, like a bale, with cords,
    And hurl thee in a lake, to sink or swim!
    If clear from plotting Balder’s death, to swim;
    But deep, if thou devisedst it, to drown,
    And perish, against fate, before thy day.”
      So they two soft to one another spake.
    But Odin looked toward the land, and saw
    His messenger; and he stood forth, and cried.
    And Hermod came, and leapt from Sleipner down,
    And in his father’s hand put Sleipner’s rein,
    And greeted Odin and the gods, and said,--
      “Odin, my father, and ye, gods of heaven!
    Lo, home, having performed your will, I come.
    Into the joyless kingdom have I been,
    Below, and looked upon the shadowy tribes
    Of ghosts, and communed with their solemn queen;
    And to your prayer she sends you this reply:--
    _Show her through all the world the signs of grief!_
    _Fails but one thing to grieve, there Balder stops!_
    _Let gods, men, brutes, beweep him; plants and stones._
    _So shall she know your loss was dear indeed,_
    _And bend her heart, and give you Balder back._”
      He spoke, and all the gods to Odin looked;
    And straight the Father of the ages said,--
      “Ye gods, these terms may keep another day.
    But now put on your arms, and mount your steeds,
    And in procession all come near, and weep
    Balder; for that is what the dead desire.
    When ye enough have wept, then build a pile
    Of the heaped wood, and burn his corpse with fire
    Out of our sight; that we may turn from grief,
    And lead, as erst, our daily life in heaven.”
      He spoke, and the gods armed; and Odin donned
    His dazzling corslet and his helm of gold,
    And led the way on Sleipner; and the rest
    Followed, in tears, their father and their king.
    And thrice in arms around the dead they rode,
    Weeping; the sands were wetted, and their arms,
    With their thick-falling tears,--so good a friend
    They mourned that day, so bright, so loved a god.
    And Odin came, and laid his kingly hands
    On Balder’s breast, and thus began the wail:--
      “Farewell, O Balder, bright and loved, my son!
    In that great day, the twilight of the gods,
    When Muspel’s children shall beleaguer heaven,
    Then we shall miss thy counsel and thy arm.”
      Thou camest near the next, O warrior Thor!
    Shouldering thy hammer, in thy chariot drawn,
    Swaying the long-haired goats with silvered rein;
    And over Balder’s corpse these words didst say:--
      “Brother, thou dwellest in the darksome land,
    And talkest with the feeble tribes of ghosts,
    Now, and I know not how they prize thee there--
    But here, I know, thou wilt be missed and mourned.
    For haughty spirits and high wraths are rife
    Among the gods and heroes here in heaven,
    As among those whose joy and work is war;
    And daily strifes arise, and angry words.
    But from thy lips, O Balder, night or day,
    Heard no one ever an injurious word
    To god or hero, but thou keptest back
    The others, laboring to compose their brawls.
    Be ye then kind, as Balder too was kind!
    For we lose him, who smoothed all strife in heaven.”
      He spake, and all the gods assenting wailed.
    And Freya next came nigh, with golden tears;
    The loveliest goddess she in heaven, by all
    Most honored after Frea, Odin’s wife.
    Her long ago the wandering Oder took
    To mate, but left her to roam distant lands;
    Since then she seeks him, and weeps tears of gold.
    Names hath she many; Vanadis on earth
    They call her, Freya is her name in heaven;
    She in her hands took Balder’s head, and spake,--
      “Balder, my brother, thou art gone a road
    Unknown and long, and haply on that way
    My long-lost wandering Oder thou hast met,
    For in the paths of heaven he is not found.
    Oh! if it be so, tell him what thou wast
    To his neglected wife, and what he is,
    And wring his heart with shame, to hear thy word!
    For he, my husband, left me here to pine,
    Not long a wife, when his unquiet heart
    First drove him from me into distant lands;
    Since then I vainly seek him through the world,
    And weep from shore to shore my golden tears,
    But neither god nor mortal heeds my pain.
    Thou only, Balder, wast forever kind,
    To take my hand, and wipe my tears, and say,--
    _Weep not, O Freya, weep no golden tears!_
    _One day the wandering Oder will return,_
    _Or thou wilt find him in thy faithful search,_
    _On some great road, or resting in an inn,_
    _Or at a ford, or sleeping by a tree_.
    So Balder said; but Oder, well I know,
    My truant Oder I shall see no more
    To the world’s end; and Balder now is gone,
    And I am left uncomforted in heaven.”
      She spake, and all the goddesses bewailed.
    Last from among the heroes one came near,
    No god, but of the hero-troop the chief,--
    Regner, who swept the northern sea with fleets,
    And ruled o’er Denmark and the heathy isles,
    Living; but Ella captured him and slew,--
    A king, whose fame then filled the vast of heaven:
    Now time obscures it, and men’s later deeds.
    He last approached the corpse, and spake and said,--
      “Balder, there yet are many scalds in heaven
    Still left, and that chief scald, thy brother Brage,
    Whom we may bid to sing, though thou art gone.
    And all these gladly, while we drink, we hear,
    After the feast is done, in Odin’s hall;
    But they harp ever on one string, and wake
    Remembrance in our soul of wars alone,
    Such as on earth we valiantly have waged,
    And blood, and ringing blows, and violent death.
    But when thou sangest, Balder, thou didst strike
    Another note, and, like a bird in spring,
    Thy voice of joyance minded us, and youth,
    And wife, and children, and our ancient home.
    Yes, and I too remembered then no more
    My dungeon, where the serpents stung me dead,
    Nor Ella’s victory on the English coast;
    But I heard Thora laugh in Gothland Isle,
    And saw my shepherdess, Aslauga, tend
    Her flock along the white Norwegian beach.
    Tears started to mine eyes with yearning joy.
    Therefore with grateful heart I mourn thee dead.”
      So Regner spake, and all the heroes groaned.
    But now the sun had passed the height of heaven,
    And soon had all that day been spent in wail;
    But then the Father of the ages said,--
      “Ye gods, there well may be too much of wail!
    Bring now the gathered wood to Balder’s ship;
    Heap on the deck the logs, and build the pyre.”
      But when the gods and heroes heard, they brought
    The wood to Balder’s ship, and built a pile,
    Full the deck’s breadth, and lofty; then the corpse
    Of Balder on the highest top they laid,
    With Nanna on his right, and on his left
    Hoder, his brother, whom his own hand slew.
    And they set jars of wine and oil to lean
    Against the bodies, and stuck torches near,
    Splinters of pine-wood, soaked with turpentine;
    And brought his arms and gold, and all his stuff,
    And slew the dogs who at his table fed,
    And his horse, Balder’s horse, whom most he loved,
    And threw them on the pyre; and Odin threw
    A last choice gift thereon, his golden ring.
    The mast they fixed, and hoisted up the sails;
    Then they put fire to the wood; and Thor
    Set his stout shoulder hard against the stern
    To push the ship through the thick sand; sparks flew
    From the deep trench she ploughed, so strong a god
    Furrowed it; and the water gurgled in.
    And the ship floated on the waves, and rocked.
    But in the hills a strong east-wind arose,
    And came down moaning to the sea; first squalls
    Ran black o’er the sea’s face, then steady rushed
    The breeze, and filled the sails, and blew the fire.
    And wreathed in smoke the ship stood out to sea.
    Soon with a roaring rose the mighty fire,
    And the pile crackled; and between the logs
    Sharp quivering tongues of flame shot out, and leapt,
    Curling and darting, higher, until they licked
    The summit of the pile, the dead, the mast,
    And ate the shrivelling sails; but still the ship
    Drove on, ablaze above her hull with fire.
    And the gods stood upon the beach, and gazed.
    And while they gazed, the sun went lurid down
    Into the smoke-wrapt sea, and night came on.
    Then the wind fell, with night, and there was calm;
    But through the dark they watched the burning ship
    Still carried o’er the distant waters on,
    Farther and farther, like an eye of fire.
    And long, in the far dark, blazed Balder’s pile;
    But fainter, as the stars rose high, it flared;
    The bodies were consumed, ash choked the pile.
    And as, in a decaying winter-fire,
    A charred log, falling, makes a shower of sparks,--
    So with a shower of sparks the pile fell in,
    Reddening the sea around; and all was dark.
      But the gods went by starlight up the shore
    To Asgard, and sate down in Odin’s hall
    At table, and the funeral-feast began.
    All night they ate the boar Serimner’s flesh,
    And from their horns, with silver rimmed, drank mead,
    Silent, and waited for the sacred morn.
      And morning over all the world was spread.
    Then from their loathèd feast the gods arose,
    And took their horses, and set forth to ride
    O’er the bridge Bifrost, where is Heimdall’s watch,
    To the ash Igdrasil, and Ida’s plain.
    Thor came on foot, the rest on horseback rode.
    And they found Mimir sitting by his fount
    Of wisdom, which beneath the ash-tree springs;
    And saw the Nornies watering the roots
    Of that world-shadowing tree with honey-dew.
    There came the gods, and sate them down on stones;
    And thus the Father of the ages said:--
      “Ye gods, the terms ye know, which Hermod brought.
    Accept them or reject them! both have grounds.
    Accept them, and they bind us, unfulfilled,
    To leave forever Balder in the grave,
    An unrecovered prisoner, shade with shades.
    But how, ye say, should the fulfilment fail?--
    Smooth sound the terms, and light to be fulfilled;
    For dear-beloved was Balder while he lived
    In heaven and earth, and who would grudge him tears?
    But from the traitorous seed of Lok they come,
    These terms, and I suspect some hidden fraud.
    Bethink ye, gods, is there no other way?
    Speak, were not this a way, the way for gods,--
    If I, if Odin, clad in radiant arms,
    Mounted on Sleipner, with the warrior Thor
    Drawn in his car beside me, and my sons,
    All the strong brood of heaven, to swell my train,
    Should make irruption into Hela’s realm,
    And set the fields of gloom ablaze with light,
    And bring in triumph Balder back to heaven?”
      He spake, and his fierce sons applauded loud.
    But Frea, mother of the gods, arose,
    Daughter and wife of Odin; thus she said:--
      “Odin, thou whirlwind, what a threat is this!
    Thou threatenest what transcends thy might, even thine.
    For of all powers the mightiest far art thou,
    Lord over men on earth, and gods in heaven;
    Yet even from thee thyself hath been withheld
    One thing,--to undo what thou thyself hast ruled.
    For all which hath been fixed was fixed by thee.
    In the beginning, ere the gods were born,
    Before the heavens were builded, thou didst slay
    The giant Ymir, whom the abyss brought forth,--
    Thou and thy brethren fierce, the sons of Bor,--
    And cast his trunk to choke the abysmal void.
    But of his flesh and members thou didst build
    The earth and ocean, and above them heaven.
    And from the flaming world, where Muspel reigns,
    Thou sent’st and fetchedst fire, and madest lights,
    Sun, moon, and stars, which thou hast hung in heaven,
    Dividing clear the paths of night and day.
    And Asgard thou didst build, and Midgard fort;
    Then me thou mad’st; of us the gods were born.
    Last, walking by the sea, thou foundest spars
    Of wood, and framedst men, who till the earth,
    Or on the sea, the field of pirates, sail.
    And all the race of Ymir thou didst drown,
    Save one, Bergelmer: he on shipboard fled
    Thy deluge, and from him the giants sprang.
    But all that brood thou hast removed far off,
    And set by ocean’s utmost marge to dwell.
    But Hela into Niflheim thou threw’st,
    And gav’st her nine unlighted worlds to rule,
    A queen, and empire over all the dead.
    That empire wilt thou now invade, light up
    Her darkness, from her grasp a subject tear?
    Try it; but I, for one, will not applaud.
    Nor do I merit, Odin, thou shouldst slight
    Me and my words, though thou be first in heaven;
    For I too am a goddess, born of thee,
    Thine eldest, and of me the gods are sprung;
    And all that is to come I know, but lock
    In mine own breast, and have to none revealed.
    Come, then! since Hela holds by right her prey,
    But offers terms for his release to heaven,
    Accept the chance: thou canst no more obtain.
    Send through the world thy messengers; entreat
    All living and unliving things to weep
    For Balder: if thou haply thus may’st melt
    Hela, and win the loved one back to heaven.”
      She spake, and on her face let fall her veil,
    And bowed her head, and sate with folded hands.
    Nor did the all-ruling Odin slight her word;
    Straightway he spake, and thus addressed the gods:--
      “Go quickly forth through all the world, and pray
    All living and unliving things to weep
    Balder, if haply he may thus be won.”
      When the gods heard, they straight arose, and took
    Their horses, and rode forth through all the world.
    North, south, east, west, they struck, and roamed the world,
    Entreating all things to weep Balder’s death;
    And all that lived, and all without life, wept.
    And as in winter, when the frost breaks up,
    At winter’s end, before the spring begins,
    And a warm west-wind blows, and thaw sets in,
    After an hour a dripping sound is heard
    In all the forests, and the soft-strewn snow
    Under the trees is dibbled thick with holes,
    And from the boughs the snow-loads shuffle down;
    And, in fields sloping to the south, dark plots
    Of grass peep out amid surrounding snow,
    And widen, and the peasant’s heart is glad,--
    So through the world was heard a dripping noise
    Of all things weeping to bring Balder back;
    And there fell joy upon the gods to hear.
      But Hermod rode with Niord, whom he took
    To show him spits and beaches of the sea
    Far off, where some unwarned might fail to weep,--
    Niord, the god of storms, whom fishers know;
    Not born in heaven, he was in Vanheim reared,
    With men, but lives a hostage with the gods;
    He knows each frith, and every rocky creek
    Fringed with dark pines, and sands where seafowl scream,--
    They two scoured every coast, and all things wept.
    And they rode home together, through the wood
    Of Jarnvid, which to east of Midgard lies
    Bordering the giants, where the trees are iron;
    There in the wood before a cave they came,
    Where sate, in the cave’s mouth, a skinny hag,
    Toothless and old; she gibes the passers-by.
    Thok is she called, but now Lok wore her shape.
    She greeted them the first, and laughed, and said,--
      “Ye gods, good lack, is it so dull in heaven,
    That ye come pleasuring to Thok’s iron wood?
    Lovers of change ye are, fastidious sprites.
    Look, as in some boor’s yard a sweet-breathed cow,
    Whose manger is stuffed full of good fresh hay,
    Snuffs at it daintily, and stoops her head
    To chew the straw, her litter, at her feet,--
    So ye grow squeamish, gods, and sniff at heaven!”
      She spake; but Hermod answered her, and said,--
    “Thok, not for gibes we come, we come for tears.
    Balder is dead, and Hela holds her prey,
    But will restore if all things give him tears.
    Begrudge not thine! to all was Balder dear.”
      Then, with a louder laugh, the hag replied,--
    “Is Balder dead? and do ye come for tears?
    Thok with dry eyes will weep o’er Balder’s pyre.
    Weep him all other things, if weep they will:
    I weep him not! let Hela keep her prey.”
      She spake, and to the cavern’s depth she fled,
    Mocking; and Hermod knew their toil was vain.
    And as seafaring men, who long have wrought
    In the great deep for gain, at last come home,
    And towards evening see the headlands rise
    Of their dear country, and can plain descry
    A fire of withered furze which boys have lit
    Upon the cliffs, or smoke of burning weeds
    Out of a tilled field inland: then the wind
    Catches them, and drives out again to sea;
    And they go long days tossing up and down
    Over the gray sea-ridges, and the glimpse
    Of port they had makes bitterer far their toil,--
    So the gods’ cross was bitterer for their joy.
      Then, sad at heart, to Niord Hermod spake,--
    “It is the accuser Lok, who flouts us all!
    Ride back, and tell in heaven this heavy news;
    I must again below, to Hela’s realm.”
      He spoke, and Niord set forth back to heaven.
    But northward Hermod rode, the way below,
    The way he knew; and traversed Giall’s stream,
    And down to ocean groped, and crossed the ice,
    And came beneath the wall, and found the grate
    Still lifted: well was his return foreknown.
    And once more Hermod saw around him spread
    The joyless plains, and heard the streams of hell.
    But as he entered, on the extremest bound
    Of Niflheim, he saw one ghost come near,
    Hovering, and stopping oft, as if afraid,--
    Hoder, the unhappy, whom his own hand slew.
    And Hermod looked, and knew his brother’s ghost,
    And called him by his name, and sternly said,--
      “Hoder, ill-fated, blind in heart and eyes!
    Why tarriest thou to plunge thee in the gulf
    Of the deep inner gloom, but flittest here,
    In twilight, on the lonely verge of hell,
    Far from the other ghosts, and Hela’s throne?
    Doubtless thou fearest to meet Balder’s voice,
    Thy brother, whom through folly thou didst slay.”
      He spoke; but Hoder answered him, and said,--
    “Hermod the nimble, dost thou still pursue
    The unhappy with reproach, even in the grave?
    For this I died, and fled beneath the gloom,
    Not daily to endure abhorring gods,
    Nor with a hateful presence cumber heaven;
    And canst thou not, even here, pass pitying by?
    No less than Balder have I lost the light
    Of heaven, and communion with my kin;
    I too had once a wife, and once a child,
    And substance, and a golden house in heaven:
    But all I left of my own act, and fled
    Below; and dost thou hate me even here?
    Balder upbraids me not, nor hates at all,
    Though he has cause, have any cause; but he,
    When that with downcast looks I hither came,
    Stretched forth his hand, and with benignant voice,
    _Welcome_, he said, _if there be welcome here,_
    _Brother and fellow-sport of Lok with me!_
    And not to offend thee, Hermod, nor to force
    My hated converse on thee, came I up
    From the deep gloom, where I will now return;
    But earnestly I longed to hover near,
    Not too far off, when that thou camest by;
    To feel the presence of a brother god,
    And hear the passage of a horse of heaven,
    For the last time--for here thou com’st no more.”
      He spake, and turned to go to the inner gloom.
    But Hermod stayed him with mild words, and said,--
      “Thou doest well to chide me, Hoder blind!
    Truly thou say’st, the planning guilty mind
    Was Lok’s: the unwitting hand alone was thine.
    But gods are like the sons of men in this:
    When they have woe, they blame the nearest cause.
    Howbeit stay, and be appeased; and tell,
    Sits Balder still in pomp by Hela’s side,
    Or is he mingled with the unnumbered dead?”
      And the blind Hoder answered him and spake,--
    “His place of state remains by Hela’s side,
    But empty; for his wife, for Nanna, came
    Lately below, and joined him; and the pair
    Frequent the still recesses of the realm
    Of Hela, and hold converse undisturbed.
    But they too, doubtless, will have breathed the balm
    Which floats before a visitant from heaven,
    And have drawn upward to this verge of hell.”
      He spake; and, as he ceased, a puff of wind
    Rolled heavily the leaden mist aside
    Round where they stood, and they beheld two forms
    Make toward them o’er the stretching cloudy plain.
    And Hermod straight perceived them, who they were,--
    Balder and Nanna; and to Balder said,--
      “Balder, too truly thou foresaw’st a snare!
    Lok triumphs still, and Hela keeps her prey.
    No more to Asgard shalt thou come, nor lodge
    In thy own house Breidablik, nor enjoy
    The love all bear toward thee, nor train up
    Forset, thy son, to be beloved like thee.
    Here must thou lie, and wait an endless age.
    Therefore for the last time, O Balder, hail!”
      He spake; and Balder answered him, and said,--
    “Hail and farewell! for here thou com’st no more.
    Yet mourn not for me, Hermod, when thou sitt’st
    In heaven, nor let the other gods lament,
    As wholly to be pitied, quite forlorn.
    For Nanna hath rejoined me, who of old,
    In heaven, was seldom parted from my side;
    And still the acceptance follows me, which crowned
    My former life, and cheers me even here.
    The iron frown of Hela is relaxed
    When I draw nigh, and the wan tribes of dead
    Love me, and gladly bring for my award
    Their ineffectual feuds and feeble hates,--
    Shadows of hates, but they distress them still.”
      And the fleet-footed Hermod made reply,--
    “Thou hast, then, all the solace death allows,--
    Esteem and function; and so far is well.
    Yet here thou liest, Balder, underground,
    Rusting forever; and the years roll on,
    The generations pass, the ages grow,
    And bring us nearer to the final day
    When from the south shall march the fiery band,
    And cross the bridge of heaven, with Lok for guide,
    And Fenris at his heel with broken chain;
    While from the east the giant Rymer steers
    His ship, and the great serpent makes to land;
    And all are marshalled in one flaming square
    Against the gods, upon the plains of heaven.
    I mourn thee, that thou canst not help us then.”
      He spake; but Balder answered him, and said,--
    “Mourn not for me! Mourn, Hermod, for the gods;
    Mourn for the men on earth, the gods in heaven,
    Who live, and with their eyes shall see that day!
    The day will come, when fall shall Asgard’s towers,
    And Odin, and his sons, the seed of heaven;
    But what were I, to save them in that hour?
    If strength might save them, could not Odin save,
    My father, and his pride, the warrior Thor,
    Vidar the silent, the impetuous Tyr?
    I, what were I, when these can naught avail?
    Yet, doubtless, when the day of battle comes,
    And the two hosts are marshalled, and in heaven
    The golden-crested cock shall sound alarm,
    And his black brother-bird from hence reply,
    And bucklers clash, and spears begin to pour,--
    Longing will stir within my breast, though vain.
    But not to me so grievous as, I know,
    To other gods it were, is my enforced
    Absence from fields where I could nothing aid;
    For I am long since weary of your storm
    Of carnage, and find, Hermod, in your life
    Something too much of war and broils, which make
    Life one perpetual fight, a bath of blood.
    Mine eyes are dizzy with the arrowy hail;
    Mine ears are stunned with blows, and sick for calm.
    Inactive therefore let me lie, in gloom,
    Unarmed, inglorious; I attend the course
    Of ages, and my late return to light,
    In times less alien to a spirit mild,
    In new-recovered seats, the happier day.”
      He spake, and the fleet Hermod thus replied:--
    “Brother, what seats are these, what happier day?
    Tell me, that I may ponder it when gone.”
      And the ray-crownèd Balder answered him,--
    “Far to the south, beyond the blue, there spreads
    Another heaven, the boundless. No one yet
    Hath reached it. There hereafter shall arise
    The second Asgard, with another name.
    Thither, when o’er this present earth and heavens
    The tempest of the latter days hath swept,
    And they from sight have disappeared and sunk,
    Shall a small remnant of the gods repair;
    Hoder and I shall join them from the grave.
    There re-assembling we shall see emerge
    From the bright ocean at our feet an earth
    More fresh, more verdant than the last, with fruits
    Self-springing, and a seed of man preserved,
    Who then shall live in peace, as now in war.
    But we in heaven shall find again with joy
    The ruined palaces of Odin, seats
    Familiar, halls where we have supped of old;
    Re-enter them with wonder, never fill
    Our eyes with gazing, and rebuild with tears.
    And we shall tread once more the well-known plain
    Of Ida, and among the grass shall find
    The golden dice wherewith we played of yore;
    And that will bring to mind the former life
    And pastime of the gods, the wise discourse
    Of Odin, the delights of other days.
    O Hermod, pray that thou may’st join us then!
    Such for the future is my hope; meanwhile,
    I rest the thrall of Hela, and endure
    Death, and the gloom which round me even now
    Thickens, and to its inner gulf recalls.
    Farewell, for longer speech is not allowed!”
      He spoke, and waved farewell, and gave his hand
    To Nanna; and she gave their brother blind
    Her hand, in turn, for guidance; and the three
    Departed o’er the cloudy plain, and soon
    Faded from sight into the interior gloom.
    But Hermod stood beside his drooping horse,
    Mute, gazing after them in tears; and fain,
    Fain had he followed their receding steps,
    Though they to death were bound, and he to heaven,
    Then: but a power he could not break withheld.
    And as a stork which idle boys have trapped,
    And tied him in a yard, at autumn sees
    Flocks of his kind pass flying o’er his head
    To warmer lands, and coasts that keep the sun;
    He strains to join their flight, and from his shed
    Follows them with a long complaining cry,--
    So Hermod gazed, and yearned to join his kin.

      At last he sighed, and set forth back to heaven.



_TRISTRAM AND ISEULT._[7]


I.

Tristram.

    TRISTRAM.

    Is she not come? The messenger was sure.
    Prop me upon the pillows once again.
    Raise me, my page! this cannot long endure.
   --Christ, what a night! how the sleet whips the pane!
    What lights will those out to the northward be?

    THE PAGE.

    The lanterns of the fishing-boats at sea.

    TRISTRAM.

    Soft--who is that, stands by the dying fire?

    THE PAGE.

    Iseult.

    TRISTRAM.

          Ah! not the Iseult I desire.

           *       *       *       *       *

    What knight is this so weak and pale,
    Though the locks are yet brown on his noble head,
    Propped on pillows in his bed,
    Gazing seaward for the light
    Of some ship that fights the gale
    On this wild December night?
    Over the sick man’s feet is spread
    A dark green forest-dress;
    A gold harp leans against the bed,
    Ruddy in the fire’s light.
    I know him by his harp of gold,
    Famous in Arthur’s court of old;
    I know him by his forest-dress,--
    The peerless hunter, harper, knight,
    Tristram of Lyoness.

    What lady is this, whose silk attire
    Gleams so rich in the light of the fire?
    The ringlets on her shoulders lying
    In their flitting lustre vying
    With the clasp of burnished gold
    Which her heavy robe doth hold.
    Her looks are mild, her fingers slight
    As the driven snow are white;
    But her cheeks are sunk and pale.
    Is it that the bleak sea-gale
    Beating from the Atlantic sea
    On this coast of Brittany,
    Nips too keenly the sweet flower?
    Is it that a deep fatigue
    Hath come on her, a chilly fear,
    Passing all her youthful hour
    Spinning with her maidens here,
    Listlessly through the window-bars
    Gazing seawards many a league
    From her lonely shore-built tower,
    While the knights are at the wars?
    Or, perhaps, has her young heart
    Felt already some deeper smart,
    Of those that in secret the heart-strings rive,
    Leaving her sunk and pale, though fair?
    Who is this snowdrop by the sea?--
    I know her by her mildness rare,
    Her snow-white hands, her golden hair;
    I know her by her rich silk dress,
    And her fragile loveliness,--
    The sweetest Christian soul alive,
    Iseult of Brittany.

    Iseult of Brittany? but where
    Is that other Iseult fair,
    That proud, first Iseult, Cornwall’s queen?
    She, whom Tristram’s ship of yore
    From Ireland to Cornwall bore,
    To Tyntagel, to the side
    Of King Marc, to be his bride?
    She who, as they voyaged, quaffed
    With Tristram that spiced magic draught
    Which since then forever rolls
    Through their blood, and binds their souls,
    Working love, but working teen?
    There were two Iseults who did sway
    Each her hour of Tristram’s day;
    But one possessed his waning time,
    The other his resplendent prime.
    Behold her here, the patient flower,
    Who possessed his darker hour!
    Iseult of the snow-white hand
    Watches pale by Tristram’s bed.
    She is here who had his gloom:
    Where art thou who hadst his bloom?
    One such kiss as those of yore
    Might thy dying knight restore!
    Does the love-draught work no more?
    Art thou cold, or false, or dead,
    Iseult of Ireland?

           *       *       *       *       *

    Loud howls the wind, sharp patters the rain,
    And the knight sinks back on his pillows again;
    He is weak with fever and pain,
    And his spirit is not clear.
    Hark! he mutters in his sleep,
    As he wanders far from here,
    Changes place and time of year,
    And his closèd eye doth sweep
    O’er some fair unwintry sea,
    Not this fierce Atlantic deep,
    While he mutters brokenly,--

    TRISTRAM.

    The calm sea shines, loose hang the vessel’s sails;
    Before us are the sweet green fields of Wales,
    And overhead the cloudless sky of May.
    “_Ah! would I were in those green fields at play,
    Not pent on shipboard this delicious day!
    Tristram, I pray thee, of thy courtesy,
    Reach me my golden cup that stands by thee,
    But pledge me in it first for courtesy._”
    Ha! dost thou start? are thy lips blanched like mine
    Child, ’tis no water this, ’tis poisoned wine!
    Iseult!...

           *       *       *       *       *

    Ah, sweet angels, let him dream!
    Keep his eyelids; let him seem
    Not this fever-wasted wight
    Thinned and paled before his time,
    But the brilliant youthful knight
    In the glory of his prime,
    Sitting in the gilded barge,
    At thy side, thou lovely charge,
    Bending gayly o’er thy hand,
    Iseult of Ireland!
    And she too, that princess fair,
    If her bloom be now less rare,
    Let her have her youth again,
    Let her be as she was then!
    Let her have her proud dark eyes,
    And her petulant quick replies;
    Let her sweep her dazzling hand
    With its gesture of command,
    And shake back her raven hair
    With the old imperious air!
    As of old, so let her be,
    That first Iseult, princess bright,
    Chatting with her youthful knight
    As he steers her o’er the sea,
    Quitting at her father’s will
    The green isle where she was bred,
    And her bower in Ireland,
    For the surge-beat Cornish strand;
    Where the prince whom she must wed
    Dwells on loud Tyntagel’s hill,
    High above the sounding sea.
    And that golden cup her mother
    Gave her, that her future lord,
    Gave her, that King Marc and she,
    Might drink it on their marriage-day,
    And forever love each other,--
    Let her, as she sits on board,
   --Ah! sweet saints, unwittingly!--
    See it shine, and take it up,
    And to Tristram laughing say,--
    “Sir Tristram, of thy courtesy,
    Pledge me in my golden cup.”
    Let them drink it; let their hands
    Tremble, and their cheeks be flame,
    As they feel the fatal bands
    Of a love they dare not name,
    With a wild delicious pain,
    Twine about their hearts again!
    Let the early summer be
    Once more round them, and the sea
    Blue, and o’er its mirror kind
    Let the breath of the May-wind,
    Wandering through their drooping sails,
    Die on the green fields of Wales;
    Let a dream like this restore
    What his eye must see no more.

    TRISTRAM.

    Chill blows the wind, the pleasaunce-walks are drear:
    Madcap, what jest was this, to meet me here?
    Were feet like those made for so wild a way?
    The southern winter-parlor, by my fay,
    Had been the likeliest trysting-place to-day!--
    “_Tristram!--nay, nay--thou must not take my hand!--_
    _Tristram!--sweet love!--we are betrayed--out-planned._
    _Fly--save thyself--save me! I dare not stay._”
    One last kiss first!--“’_Tis vain--to horse--away!_”

           *       *       *       *       *

    Ah! sweet saints, his dream doth move
    Faster surely than it should,
    From the fever in his blood!
    All the spring-time of his love
    Is already gone and past,
    And instead thereof is seen
    Its winter, which endureth still,--
    Tyntagel on its surge-beat hill,
    The pleasaunce-walks, the weeping queen,
    The flying leaves, the straining blast,
    And that long, wild kiss,--their last.
    And this rough December-night,
    And his burning fever-pain,
    Mingle with his hurrying dream,
    Till they rule it; till he seem
    The pressed fugitive again,
    The love-desperate, banished knight,
    With a fire in his brain,
    Flying o’er the stormy main.
   --Whither does he wander now?
    Haply in his dreams the wind
    Wafts him here, and lets him find
    The lovely orphan child again
    In her castle by the coast;
    The youngest, fairest chatelaine,
    That this realm of France can boast,
    Our snowdrop by the Atlantic sea,--
    Iseult of Brittany.
    And--for through the haggard air,
    The stained arms, the matted hair,
    Of that stranger-knight ill-starred,
    There gleamed something which recalled
    The Tristram who in better days
    Was Launcelot’s guest at Joyous Gard--
    Welcomed here, and here installed,
    Tended of his fever here,
    Haply he seems again to move
    His young guardian’s heart with love,
    In his exiled loneliness,
    In his stately, deep distress,
    Without a word, without a tear.
   --Ah! ’tis well he should retrace
    His tranquil life in this lone place;
    His gentle bearing at the side
    Of his timid youthful bride;
    His long rambles by the shore
    On winter-evenings, when the roar
    Of the near waves came, sadly grand,
    Through the dark, up the drowned sand;
    Or his endless reveries
    In the woods, where the gleams play
    On the grass under the trees,
    Passing the long summer’s day
    Idle as a mossy stone
    In the forest-depths alone,
    The chase neglected, and his hound
    Couched beside him on the ground.
   --Ah! what trouble’s on his brow?
    Hither let him wander now;
    Hither, to the quiet hours
    Passed among these heaths of ours
    By the gray Atlantic sea,--
    Hours, if not of ecstasy,
    From violent anguish surely free!

    TRISTRAM.

    All red with blood the whirling river flows,
    The wide plain rings, the dazed air throbs with blows.
    Upon us are the chivalry of Rome;
    Their spears are down, their steeds are bathed in foam.
    “Up, Tristram, up!” men cry, “thou moonstruck knight!
    What foul fiend rides thee? On into the fight!”
   --Above the din, her voice is in my ears;
    I see her form glide through the crossing spears.--
    Iseult!...

    Ah! he wanders forth again;
    We cannot keep him: now, as then,
    There’s a secret in his breast
    Which will never let him rest.
    These musing fits in the green wood,
    They cloud the brain, they dull the blood!
   --His sword is sharp, his horse is good;
    Beyond the mountains will he see
    The famous towns of Italy,
    And label with the blessed sign
    The heathen Saxons on the Rhine.
    At Arthur’s side he fights once more
    With the Roman Emperor.
    There’s many a gay knight where he goes
    Will help him to forget his care;
    The march, the leaguer, heaven’s blithe air,
    The neighing steeds, the ringing blows,--
    Sick pining comes not where these are.
   --Ah! what boots it, that the jest
    Lightens every other brow,
    What, that every other breast
    Dances as the trumpets blow,
    If one’s own heart beats not light
    On the waves of the tossed fight,
    If one’s self cannot get free
    From the clog of misery?
    Thy lovely youthful wife grows pale
    Watching by the salt sea-tide,
    With her children at her side,
    For the gleam of thy white sail.
    Home, Tristram, to thy halls again!
    To our lonely sea complain,
    To our forests tell thy pain.

    TRISTRAM.

    All round the forest sweeps off, black in shade,
    But it is moonlight in the open glade;
    And in the bottom of the glade shine clear
    The forest-chapel and the fountain near.
   --I think I have a fever in my blood;
    Come, let me leave the shadow of this wood,
    Ride down, and bathe my hot brow in the flood.
   --Mild shines the cold spring in the moon’s clear light.
    God! ’tis _her_ face plays in the waters bright!
    “Fair love,” she says, “canst thou forget so soon,
    At this soft hour, under this sweet moon?”--
    Iseult!...

    Ah, poor soul! if this be so,
    Only death can balm thy woe.
    The solitudes of the green wood
    Had no medicine for thy mood;
    The rushing battle cleared thy blood
    As little as did solitude.
   --Ah! his eyelids slowly break
    Their hot seals, and let him wake;
    What new change shall we now see?
    A happier? Worse it cannot be.

    TRISTRAM.

    Is my page here? Come, turn me to the fire!
    Upon the window-panes the moon shines bright;
    The wind is down; but she’ll not come to-night.
    Ah, no! she is asleep in Cornwall now,
    Far hence; her dreams are fair, smooth is her brow.
    Of me she recks not, nor my vain desire.
   --I have had dreams, I have had dreams, my page,
    Would take a score years from a strong man’s age;
    And with a blood like mine, will leave, I fear,
    Scant leisure for a second messenger.
   --My princess, art thou there? Sweet, ’tis too late!
    To bed, and sleep! my fever is gone by;
    To-night my page shall keep me company.
    Where do the children sleep? kiss them for me!
    Poor child, thou art almost as pale as I:
    This comes of nursing long and watching late.
    To bed--good night!

      She left the gleam-lit fireplace,
      She came to the bedside;
      She took his hands in hers, her tears
      Down on her slender fingers rained.
      She raised her eyes upon his face,
      Not with a look of wounded pride,
      A look as if the heart complained;
      Her look was like a sad embrace,--
      The gaze of one who can divine
      A grief, and sympathize.
      Sweet flower! thy children’s eyes
      Are not more innocent than thine.

      But they sleep in sheltered rest,
      Like helpless birds in the warm nest,
      On the castle’s southern side;
      Where feebly comes the mournful roar
      Of buffeting wind and surging tide
      Through many a room and corridor.
    --Full on their window the moon’s ray
      Makes their chamber as bright as day.
      It shines upon the blank white walls,
      And on the snowy pillow falls,
      And on two angel-heads doth play
      Turned to each other; the eyes closed,
      The lashes on the cheeks reposed.
      Round each sweet brow the cap close-set
      Hardly lets peep the golden hair;
      Through the soft-opened lips, the air
      Scarcely moves the coverlet.
      One little wandering arm is thrown
      At random on the counterpane,
      And often the fingers close in haste
      As if their baby-owner chased
      The butterflies again.
      This stir they have, and this alone;
      But else they are so still!
    --Ah, tired madcaps! you lie still;
      But were you at the window now,
      To look forth on the fairy sight
      Of your illumined haunts by night,
      To see the park-glades where you play
      Far lovelier than they are by day,
      To see the sparkle on the eaves,
      And upon every giant-bough
      Of those old oaks, whose wet red leaves
      Are jewelled with bright drops of rain,--
      How would your voices run again!
      And far beyond the sparkling trees
      Of the castle-park, one sees
      The bare heaths spreading, clear as day,
      Moor behind moor, far, far away,
      Into the heart of Brittany.
      And here and there, locked by the land,
      Long inlets of smooth glittering sea,
      And many a stretch of watery sand
      All shining in the white moonbeams.
      But you see fairer in your dreams!
    What voices are these on the clear night air?
    What lights in the court, what steps on the stair?



_TRISTRAM AND ISEULT._

II.

Iseult of Ireland.


    TRISTRAM.

    Raise the light, my page! that I may see her.--
      Thou art come at last, then, haughty queen!
    Long I’ve waited, long I’ve fought my fever;
      Late thou comest, cruel thou hast been.

    ISEULT.

    Blame me not, poor sufferer! that I tarried:
      Bound I was, I could not break the band.
    Chide not with the past, but feel the present;
      I am here, we meet, I hold thy hand.

    TRISTRAM.

    Thou art come, indeed; thou hast rejoined me;
      Thou hast dared it--but too late to save.
    Fear not now that men should tax thine honor!
      I am dying; build (thou may’st) my grave.

    ISEULT.

    Tristram, ah! for love of heaven, speak kindly!
      What! I hear these bitter words from thee?
    Sick with grief I am, and faint with travel;
      Take my hand--dear Tristram, look on me!

    TRISTRAM.

    I forgot, thou comest from thy voyage;
      Yes, the spray is on thy cloak and hair.
    But thy dark eyes are not dimmed, proud Iseult!
      And thy beauty never was more fair.

    ISEULT.

    Ah, harsh flatterer! let alone my beauty!
      I, like thee, have left my youth afar.
    Take my hand, and touch these wasted fingers;
      See my cheek and lips, how white they are!

    TRISTRAM.

    Thou art paler; but thy sweet charm, Iseult,
      Would not fade with the dull years away.
    Ah, how fair thou standest in the moonlight!
      I forgive thee, Iseult! thou wilt stay?

    ISEULT.

    Fear me not, I will be always with thee;
      I will watch thee, tend thee, soothe thy pain;
    Sing thee tales of true, long-parted lovers,
      Joined at evening of their days again.

    TRISTRAM.

    No, thou shalt not speak! I should be finding
      Something altered in thy courtly tone.
    Sit--sit by me! I will think, we’ve lived so
      In the green wood, all our lives, alone.

    ISEULT.

    Altered, Tristram? Not in courts, believe me,
      Love like mine is altered in the breast:
    Courtly life is light, and cannot reach it;
      Ah! it lives, because so deep-suppressed!

    What! thou think’st men speak in courtly chambers
      Words by which the wretched are consoled?
    What! thou think’st this aching brow was cooler,
      Circled, Tristram, by a band of gold?

    Royal state with Marc, my deep-wronged husband,--
      That was bliss to make my sorrows flee!
    Silken courtiers whispering honeyed nothings,--
      Those were friends to make me false to thee!

    Ah! on which, if both our lots were balanced,
      Was indeed the heaviest burden thrown,--
    Thee, a pining exile in thy forest,
      Me, a smiling queen upon my throne?

    Vain and strange debate, where both have suffered
      Both have passed a youth repressed and sad,
    Both have brought their anxious day to evening,
      And have now short space for being glad!

    Joined we are henceforth; nor will thy people
      Nor thy younger Iseult take it ill,
    That a former rival shares her office,
      When she sees her humbled, pale, and still.

    I, a faded watcher by thy pillow,
      I, a statue on thy chapel-floor,
    Poured in prayer before the Virgin-Mother,
      Rouse no anger, make no rivals more.

    She will cry, “Is this the foe I dreaded?
      This his idol, this that royal bride?
    Ah! an hour of health would purge his eyesight!
      Stay, pale queen, forever by my side.”

    Hush, no words! that smile, I see, forgives me.
      I am now thy nurse, I bid thee sleep.
    Close thine eyes: this flooding moonlight blinds them.
      Nay, all’s well again! thou must not weep.

    TRISTRAM.

    I am happy! yet I feel there’s something
      Swells my heart, and takes my breath away.
    Through a mist I see thee; near--come nearer!
      Bend--bend down! I yet have much to say.

    ISEULT.

    Heaven! his head sinks back upon the pillow.--
      Tristram! Tristram! let thy heart not fail!
    Call on God and on the holy angels!
      What, love, courage!--Christ! he is so pale.

    TRISTRAM.

    Hush, ’tis vain: I feel my end approaching.
      This is what my mother said should be,
    When the fierce pains took her in the forest,
      The deep draughts of death, in bearing me.

    “Son,” she said, “thy name shall be of sorrow;
      Tristram art thou called for my death’s sake.”
    So she said, and died in the drear forest.
      Grief since then his home with me doth make.

    I am dying. Start not, nor look wildly!
      Me, thy living friend, thou canst not save.
    But, since living we were ununited,
      Go not far, O Iseult! from my grave.

    Close mine eyes, then seek the princess Iseult;
      Speak her fair, she is of royal blood.
    Say, I charged her, that thou stay beside me:
      She will grant it; she is kind and good.

    Now to sail the seas of death I leave thee--
      One last kiss upon the living shore!

    ISEULT.

    Tristram! Tristram! stay--receive me with thee!
      Iseult leaves thee, Tristram! nevermore.

           *       *       *       *       *

    You see them clear--the moon shines bright.
    Slow, slow and softly, where she stood,
    She sinks upon the ground; her hood
    Had fallen back, her arms outspread
    Still hold her lover’s hands; her head
    Is bowed, half-buried, on the bed.
    O’er the blanched sheet, her raven hair
    Lies in disordered streams; and there,
    Strung like white stars, the pearls still are;
    And the golden bracelets, heavy and rare,
    Flash on her white arms still,--
    The very same which yesternight
    Flashed in the silver sconces’ light,
    When the feast was gay and the laughter loud
    In Tyntagel’s palace proud.
    But then they decked a restless ghost
    With hot-flushed cheeks and brilliant eyes,
    And quivering lips on which the tide
    Of courtly speech abruptly died,
    And a glance which over the crowded floor,
    The dancers, and the festive host,
    Flew ever to the door;
    That the knights eyed her in surprise,
    And the dames whispered scoffingly,--
    “Her moods, good lack, they pass like showers!
    But yesternight and she would be
    As pale and still as withered flowers;
    And now to-night she laughs and speaks,
    And has a color in her cheeks.
    Christ keep us from such fantasy!”--

    Yes, now the longing is o’erpast,
    Which, dogged by fear and fought by shame.
    Shook her weak bosom day and night,
    Consumed her beauty like a flame,
    And dimmed it like the desert-blast.
    And though the curtains hide her face,
    Yet, were it lifted to the light,
    The sweet expression of her brow
    Would charm the gazer, till his thought
    Erased the ravages of time,
    Filled up the hollow cheek, and brought
    A freshness back as of her prime,--
    So healing is her quiet now;
    So perfectly the lines express
    A tranquil, settled loveliness,
    Her younger rival’s purest grace.

    The air of the December-night
    Steals coldly around the chamber bright,
    Where those lifeless lovers be.
    Swinging with it, in the light
    Flaps the ghost-like tapestry.
    And on the arras wrought you see
    A stately huntsman, clad in green,
    And round him a fresh forest-scene.
    On that clear forest-knoll he stays,
    With his pack round him, and delays.
    He stares and stares, with troubled face,
    At this huge, gleam-lit fireplace,
    At that bright, iron-figured door,
    And those blown rushes on the floor.
    He gazes down into the room
    With heated cheeks and flurried air,
    And to himself he seems to say,--
    “_What place is this, and who are they?_
    _Who is that kneeling lady fair?_
    _And on his pillows that pale knight_
    _Who seems of marble on a tomb?_
    _How comes it here, this chamber bright,_
    _Through whose mullioned windows clear_
    _The castle-court all wet with rain,_
    _The drawbridge and the moat appear,_
    _And then the beach, and, marked with spray,_
    _The sunken reefs, and far away_
    _The unquiet bright Atlantic plain?_
    _--What! has some glamour made me sleep,_
    _And sent me with my dogs to sweep,_
    _By night, with boisterous bugle-peal,_
    _Through some old, sea-side, knightly hall,_
    _Not in the free green wood at all?_
    _That knight’s asleep, and at her prayer_
    _That lady by the bed doth kneel--_
    _Then hush, thou boisterous bugle-peal!_
   --The wild boar rustles in his lair;
    The fierce hounds snuff the tainted air;
    But lord and hounds keep rooted there.

    Cheer, cheer thy dogs into the brake,
    O hunter! and without a fear
    Thy golden-tasselled bugle blow,
    And through the glades thy pastime take--
    For thou wilt rouse no sleepers here!
    For these thou seest are unmoved;
    Cold, cold as those who lived and loved
    A thousand years ago.



_TRISTRAM AND ISEULT._

III.

Iseult of Brittany.


    A year had flown, and o’er the sea away,
    In Cornwall, Tristram and Queen Iseult lay;
    In King Marc’s chapel, in Tyntagel old:
    There in a ship they bore those lovers cold.

    The young surviving Iseult, one bright day,
    Had wandered forth. Her children were at play
    In a green circular hollow in the heath
    Which borders the seashore; a country path
    Creeps over it from the tilled fields behind.
    The hollow’s grassy banks are soft-inclined;
    And to one standing on them, far and near
    The lone unbroken view spreads bright and clear
    Over the waste. This cirque of open ground
    Is light and green; the heather, which all round
    Creeps thickly, grows not here; but the pale grass
    Is strewn with rocks and many a shivered mass
    Of veined white-gleaming quartz, and here and there
    Dotted with holly-trees and juniper.
    In the smooth centre of the opening stood
    Three hollies side by side, and made a screen,
    Warm with the winter-sun, of burnished green
    With scarlet berries gemmed, the fell-fare’s food.
    Under the glittering hollies Iseult stands,
    Watching her children play: their little hands
    Are busy gathering spars of quartz, and streams
    Of stagshorn for their hats; anon, with screams
    Of mad delight they drop their spoils, and bound
    Among the holly-clumps and broken ground,
    Racing full speed, and startling in their rush
    The fell-fares and the speckled missel-thrush
    Out of their glossy coverts; but when now
    Their cheeks were flushed, and over each hot brow,
    Under the feathered hats of the sweet pair,
    In blinding masses showered the golden hair,
    Then Iseult called them to her, and the three
    Clustered under the holly-screen, and she
    Told them an old-world Breton history.

    Warm in their mantles wrapped, the three stood there,
    Under the hollies, in the clear still air,--
    Mantles with those rich furs deep glistering
    Which Venice ships do from swart Egypt bring.
    Long they stayed still, then, pacing at their ease,
    Moved up and down under the glossy trees;
    But still, as they pursued their warm dry road,
    From Iseult’s lips the unbroken story flowed,
    And still the children listened, their blue eyes
    Fixed on their mother’s face in wide surprise.
    Nor did their looks stray once to the sea-side,
    Nor to the brown heaths round them, bright and wide,
    Nor to the snow, which, though ’twas all away
    From the open heath, still by the hedgerows lay,
    Nor to the shining sea-fowl, that with screams
    Bore up from where the bright Atlantic gleams,
    Swooping to landward; nor to where, quite clear,
    The fell-fares settled on the thickets near.
    And they would still have listened, till dark night
    Came keen and chill down on the heather bright;
    But when the red glow on the sea grew cold,
    And the gray turrets of the castle old
    Looked sternly through the frosty evening-air,
    Then Iseult took by the hand those children fair,
    And brought her tale to an end, and found the path,
    And led them home over the darkening heath.
      And is she happy? Does she see unmoved
    The days in which she might have lived and loved
    Slip without bringing bliss slowly away,
    One after one, to-morrow like to-day?
    Joy has not found her yet, nor ever will:
    Is it this thought which makes her mien so still,
    Her features so fatigued, her eyes, though sweet,
    So sunk, so rarely lifted save to meet
    Her children’s? She moves slow; her voice alone
    Hath yet an infantine and silver tone,
    But even that comes languidly; in truth,
    She seems one dying in a mask of youth.
    And now she will go home, and softly lay
    Her laughing children in their beds, and play
    A while with them before they sleep; and then
    She’ll light her silver lamp,--which fishermen
    Dragging their nets through the rough waves afar,
    Along this iron coast, know like a star,--
    And take her broidery-frame, and there she’ll sit
    Hour after hour, her gold curls sweeping it;
    Lifting her soft-bent head only to mind
    Her children, or to listen to the wind.
    And when the clock peals midnight, she will move
    Her work away, and let her fingers rove
    Across the shaggy brows of Tristram’s hound,
    Who lies, guarding her feet, along the ground;
    Or else she will fall musing, her blue eyes
    Fixed, her slight hands clasped on her lap; then rise,
    And at her prie-dieu kneel, until she have told
    Her rosary-beads of ebony tipped with gold;
    Then to her soft sleep--and to-morrow’ll be
    To-day’s exact repeated effigy.
    Yes, it is lonely for her in her hall.
    The children, and the gray-haired seneschal,
    Her women, and Sir Tristram’s aged hound,
    Are there the sole companions to be found.
    But these she loves; and noisier life than this
    She would find ill to bear, weak as she is.
    She has her children, too, and night and day
    Is with them; and the wide heaths where they play,
    The hollies, and the cliff, and the sea-shore,
    The sand, the sea-birds, and the distant sails,
    These are to her dear as to them; the tales
    With which this day the children she beguiled
    She gleaned from Breton grandames, when a child,
    In every hut along this sea-coast wild;
    She herself loves them still, and, when they are told,
    Can forget all to hear them, as of old.

    Dear saints, it is not sorrow, as I hear,
    Not suffering, which shuts up eye and ear
    To all that has delighted them before,
    And lets us be what we were once no more.
    No: we may suffer deeply, yet retain
    Power to be moved and soothed, for all our pain,
    By what of old pleased us, and will again.
    No: ’tis the gradual furnace of the world,
    In whose hot air our spirits are upcurled
    Until they crumble, or else grow like steel,
    Which kills in us the bloom, the youth, the spring;
    Which leaves the fierce necessity to feel,
    But takes away the power: this can avail,
    By drying up our joy in every thing,
    To make our former pleasures all seem stale.
    This, or some tyrannous single thought, some fit
    Of passion, which subdues our souls to it,
    Till for its sake alone we live and move,--
    Call it ambition, or remorse, or love,--
    This too can change us wholly, and make seem
    All which we did before, shadow and dream.
      And yet, I swear, it angers me to see
    How this fool passion gulls men potently;
    Being, in truth, but a diseased unrest,
    And an unnatural overheat at best.
    How they are full of languor and distress
    Not having it; which when they do possess,
    They straightway are burnt up with fume and care,
    And spend their lives in posting here and there
    Where this plague drives them; and have little ease,
    Are furious with themselves, and hard to please.
    Like that bald Cæsar, the famed Roman wight,
    Who wept at reading of a Grecian knight
    Who made a name at younger years than he;
    Or that renowned mirror of chivalry,
    Prince Alexander, Philip’s peerless son,
    Who carried the great war from Macedon
    Into the Soudan’s realm, and thundered on
    To die at thirty-five in Babylon.

    What tale did Iseult to the children say,
    Under the hollies, that bright winter’s day?

    She told them of the fairy-haunted land
    Away the other side of Brittany,
    Beyond the heaths, edged by the lonely sea;
    Of the deep forest-glades of Broce-liande,
    Through whose green boughs the golden sunshine creeps,
    Where Merlin by the enchanted thorn-tree sleeps.
    For here he came with the fay Vivian,
    One April, when the warm days first began.
    He was on foot, and that false fay, his friend,
    On her white palfrey; here he met his end,
    In these lone sylvan glades, that April-day.
    This tale of Merlin and the lovely fay
    Was the one Iseult chose, and she brought clear
    Before the children’s fancy him and her.

    Blowing between the stems, the forest-air
    Had loosened the brown locks of Vivian’s hair,
    Which played on her flushed cheek, and her blue eyes
    Sparkled with mocking glee and exercise.
    Her palfrey’s flanks were mired and bathed in sweat,
    For they had travelled far and not stopped yet.
    A brier in that tangled wilderness
    Had scored her white right hand, which she allows
    To rest ungloved on her green riding-dress;
    The other warded off the drooping boughs.
    But still she chatted on, with her blue eyes
    Fixed full on Merlin’s face, her stately prize.
    Her ’havior had the morning’s fresh clear grace,
    The spirit of the woods was in her face;
    She looked so witching fair, that learned wight
    Forgot his craft, and his best wits took flight,
    And he grew fond, and eager to obey
    His mistress, use her empire as she may.

    They came to where the brushwood ceased, and day
    Peered ’twixt the stems; and the ground broke away
    In a sloped sward down to a brawling brook.
    And up as high as where they stood to look
    On the brook’s farther side was clear; but then
    The underwood and trees began again.
    This open glen was studded thick with thorns
    Then white with blossom; and you saw the horns,
    Through last year’s fern, of the shy fallow-deer
    Who come at noon down to the water here.
    You saw the bright-eyed squirrels dart along
    Under the thorns on the green sward; and strong
    The blackbird whistled from the dingles near,
    And the weird chipping of the woodpecker
    Rang lonelily and sharp; the sky was fair,
    And a fresh breath of spring stirred everywhere.
    Merlin and Vivian stopped on the slope’s brow,
    To gaze on the light sea of leaf and bough
    Which glistering plays all round them, lone and mild,
    As if to itself the quiet forest smiled.
    Upon the brow-top grew a thorn, and here
    The grass was dry and mossed, and you saw clear
    Across the hollow; white anemones
    Starred the cool turf, and clumps of primroses
    Ran out from the dark underwood behind.
    No fairer resting-place a man could find.
    “Here let us halt,” said Merlin then; and she
    Nodded, and tied her palfrey to a tree.

    They sate them down together, and a sleep
    Fell upon Merlin, more like death, so deep.
    Her finger on her lips, then Vivian rose,
    And from her brown-locked head the wimple throws,
    And takes it in her hand, and waves it over
    The blossomed thorn-tree and her sleeping lover.
    Nine times she waved the fluttering wimple round,
    And made a little plot of magic ground.
    And in that daisied circle, as men say,
    Is Merlin prisoner till the judgment-day;
    But she herself whither she will can rove--
    For she was passing weary of his love.



_SAINT BRANDAN._


    Saint Brandan sails the northern main;
    The brotherhoods of saints are glad.
    He greets them once, he sails again;
    So late! such storms! The saint is mad!

    He heard, across the howling seas,
    Chime convent-bells on wintry nights;
    He saw, on spray-swept Hebrides,
    Twinkle the monastery-lights;

    But north, still north, Saint Brandan steered;
    And now no bells, no convents more!
    The hurtling Polar lights are neared,
    The sea without a human shore.

    At last (it was the Christmas-night;
    Stars shone after a day of storm)
    He sees float past an iceberg white,
    And on it--Christ!--a living form.

    That furtive mien, that scowling eye,
    Of hair that red and tufted fell,
    It is--oh, where shall Brandan fly?--
    The traitor Judas, out of hell!

    Palsied with terror, Brandan sate;
    The moon was bright, the iceberg near.
    He hears a voice sigh humbly, “Wait!
    By high permission I am here.

    “One moment wait, thou holy man!
    On earth my crime, my death, they knew;
    My name is under all men’s ban:
    Ah! tell them of my respite too.

    “Tell them, one blessed Christmas-night
    (It was the first after I came,
    Breathing self-murder, frenzy, spite,
    To rue my guilt in endless flame),--

    “I felt, as I in torment lay
    ’Mid the souls plagued by heavenly power,
    An angel touch mine arm, and say,--
    _Go hence, and cool thyself an hour!_

    “‘Ah! whence this mercy, Lord?’ I said.
    _The leper recollect_, said he,
    _Who asked the passers-by for aid,_
    _In Joppa, and thy charity_.

    “Then I remembered how I went,
    In Joppa, through the public street,
    One morn when the sirocco spent
    Its storms of dust with burning heat;
    “And in the street a leper sate,
    Shivering with fever, naked, old;
    Sand raked his sores from heel to pate,
    The hot wind fevered him fivefold.

    “He gazed upon me as I passed,
    And murmured, _Help me, or I die!_
    To the poor wretch my cloak I cast,
    Saw him look eased, and hurried by.

    “O Brandan! think what grace divine,
    What blessing must full goodness shower,
    When fragment of it small, like mine,
    Hath such inestimable power!

    “Well-fed, well-clothed, well-friended, I
    Did that chance act of good, that one!
    Then went my way to kill and lie,
    Forgot my good as soon as done.

    “That germ of kindness, in the womb
    Of mercy caught, did not expire;
    Outlives my guilt, outlives my doom,
    And friends me in the pit of fire.

    “Once every year, when carols wake,
    On earth, the Christmas-night’s repose,
    Arising from the sinner’s lake,
    I journey to these healing snows.

    “I stanch with ice my burning breast,
    With silence balm my whirling brain.
    O Brandan! to this hour of rest,
    That Joppan leper’s ease was pain.”

    Tears started to Saint Brandan’s eyes;
    He bowed his head, he breathed a prayer,
    Then looked--and lo, the frosty skies!
    The iceberg, and no Judas there!



_THE NECKAN._


    In summer, on the headlands,
      The Baltic Sea along,
    Sits Neckan with his harp of gold,
      And sings his plaintive song.

    Green rolls, beneath the headlands,
      Green rolls the Baltic Sea;
    And there, below the Neckan’s feet,
      His wife and children be.

    He sings not of the ocean,
      Its shells and roses pale:
    Of earth, of earth, the Neckan sings,
      He hath no other tale.

    He sits upon the headlands,
      And sings a mournful stave
    Of all he saw and felt on earth,
      Far from the kind sea-wave.

    Sings how, a knight, he wandered
      By castle, field, and town;
    But earthly knights have harder hearts
      Than the sea-children own.

    Sings of his earthly bridal,
      Priest, knights, and ladies gay.
    “And who art thou,” the priest began,
      “Sir Knight, who wedd’st to-day?”

    “I am no knight,” he answered;
      “From the sea-waves I come.”
    The knights drew sword, the ladies screamed,
      The surpliced priest stood dumb.

    He sings how from the chapel
      He vanished with his bride,
    And bore her down to the sea-halls,
      Beneath the salt sea-tide.

    He sings how she sits weeping
      ’Mid shells that round her lie.
    “False Neckan shares my bed,” she weeps;
      “No Christian mate have I.”

    He sings how through the billows
      He rose to earth again,
    And sought a priest to sign the cross,
      That Neckan heaven might gain.

    He sings how, on an evening,
      Beneath the birch-trees cool,
    He sate and played his harp of gold,
      Beside the river-pool.

    Beside the pool sate Neckan,
      Tears filled his mild blue eye.
    On his white mule, across the bridge,
      A cassocked priest rode by.

    “Why sitt’st thou there, O Neckan,
      And play’st thy harp of gold?
    Sooner shall this my staff bear leaves,
      Than thou shalt heaven behold.”

    But, lo! the staff, it budded;
      It greened, it branched, it waved.
    “O ruth of God!” the priest cried out,
      “This lost sea-creature saved!”

    The cassocked priest rode onwards,
      And vanished with his mule;
    And Neckan in the twilight gray
      Wept by the river-pool.

    He wept, “The earth hath kindness,
      The sea, the starry poles;
    Earth, sea, and sky, and God above,--
      But, ah! not human souls!”

    In summer, on the headlands,
      The Baltic Sea along,
    Sits Neckan with his harp of gold,
      And sings this plaintive song.



_THE FORSAKEN MERMAN._


    Come, dear children, let us away;
    Down and away below!
    Now my brothers call from the bay,
    Now the great winds shoreward blow,
    Now the salt tides seaward flow;
    Now the wild white horses play,
    Champ and chafe and toss in the spray.
    Children dear, let us away!
    This way, this way!

    Call her once before you go,--
    Call once yet!
    In a voice that she will know,--
    “Margaret! Margaret!”
    Children’s voices should be dear
    (Call once more) to a mother’s ear;
    Children’s voices, wild with pain,--
    Surely she will come again!
    Call her once, and come away;
    This way, this way!
    “Mother dear, we cannot stay!
    The wild white horses foam and fret.”
    Margaret! Margaret!

    Come, dear children, come away down;
    Call no more!
    One last look at the white-walled town,
    And the little gray church on the windy shore;
    Then come down!
    She will not come, though you call all day;
    Come away, come away!

    Children dear, was it yesterday
    We heard the sweet bells over the bay,--
    In the caverns where we lay,
    Through the surf and through the swell,
    The far-off sound of a silver bell?
    Sand-strewn caverns, cool and deep,
    Where the winds are all asleep;
    Where the spent lights quiver and gleam,
    Where the salt weed sways in the stream,
    Where the sea-beasts, ranged all round,
    Feed in the ooze of their pasture-ground;
    Where the sea-snakes coil and twine,
    Dry their mail and bask in the brine;
    Where great whales come sailing by,
    Sail and sail, with unshut eye,
    Round the world for ever and aye?
    When did music come this way?
    Children dear, was it yesterday?

    Children dear, was it yesterday
    (Call yet once) that she went away?
    Once she sate with you and me,
    On a red gold throne in the heart of the sea,
    And the youngest sate on her knee.
    She combed its bright hair, and she tended it well,
    When down swung the sound of a far-off bell.
    She sighed, she looked up through the clear green sea;
    She said, “I must go, for my kinsfolk pray
    In the little gray church on the shore to-day.
    ’Twill be Easter-time in the world--ah me!
    And I lose my poor soul, merman! here with thee.”
    I said, “Go up, dear heart, through the waves;
    Say thy prayer, and come back to the kind sea-caves!”
    She smiled, she went up through the surf in the bay.

    Children dear, was it yesterday?
    Children dear, were we long alone?
    “The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan;
    Long prayers,” I said, “in the world they say;
    Come!” I said; and we rose through the surf in the bay.
    We went up the beach, by the sandy down
    Where the sea-stocks bloom, to the white-walled town;
    Through the narrow paved streets, where all was still,
    To the little gray church on the windy hill.
    From the church came a murmur of folk at their prayers,
    But we stood without in the cold blowing airs.
    We climbed on the graves, on the stones worn with rains,
    And we gazed up the aisle through the small leaded panes.
    She sate by the pillar; we saw her clear:
    “Margaret, hist! come quick, we are here!
    Dear heart,” I said, “we are long alone;
    The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan.”
    But, ah! she gave me never a look,
    For her eyes were sealed to the holy book.
    Loud prays the priest; shut stands the door.
    Come away, children, call no more!
    Come away, come down, call no more!

    Down, down, down!
    Down to the depths of the sea!
    She sits at her wheel in the humming town,
    Singing most joyfully.
    Hark what she sings: “O joy, O joy,
    For the humming street, and the child with its toy!
    For the priest, and the bell, and the holy well;
    For the wheel where I spun,
    And the blessed light of the sun!”
    And so she sings her fill,
    Singing most joyfully,
    Till the spindle drops from her hand,
    And the whizzing wheel stands still.
    She steals to the window, and looks at the sand,
    And over the sand at the sea;
    And her eyes are set in a stare;
    And anon there breaks a sigh,
    And anon there drops a tear,
    From a sorrow-clouded eye,
    And a heart sorrow-laden,
    A long, long sigh,
    For the cold strange eyes of a little mermaiden,
    And the gleam of her golden hair.

    Come away, away, children;
    Come, children, come down!
    The hoarse wind blows colder;
    Lights shine in the town.
    She will start from her slumber
    When gusts shake the door:
    She will hear the winds howling,
    Will hear the waves roar.
    We shall see, while above us
    The waves roar and whirl,
    A ceiling of amber,
    A pavement of pearl.
    Singing, “Here came a mortal,
    But faithless was she!
    And alone dwell forever
    The kings of the sea.”

    But, children, at midnight,
    When soft the winds blow,
    When clear falls the moonlight,
    When spring-tides are low;
    When sweet airs come seaward
    From heaths starred with broom,
    And high rocks throw mildly
    On the blanched sands a gloom;
    Up the still, glistening beaches,
    Up the creeks we will hie,
    Over banks of bright seaweed
    The ebb-tide leaves dry.
    We will gaze, from the sand-hills,
    At the white sleeping town;
    At the church on the hill-side,
    And then come back down,
    Singing, “There dwells a loved one,
    But cruel is she!
    She left lonely forever
    The kings of the sea.”



SONNETS.



_AUSTERITY OF POETRY._


    That son of Italy who tried to blow,[8]
    Ere Dante came, the trump of sacred song,
    In his light youth amid a festal throng
    Sate with his bride to see a public show.

    Fair was the bride, and on her front did glow
    Youth like a star; and what to youth belong,--
    Gay raiment sparkling gauds, elation strong.
    A prop gave way! crash fell a platform! Lo,

    Mid struggling sufferers, hurt to death, she lay!
    Shuddering, they drew her garments off--and found
    A robe of sackcloth next the smooth, white skin.

    Such, poets, is your bride, the Muse! young, gay,
    Radiant, adorned outside; a hidden ground
    Of thought and of austerity within.



_A PICTURE AT NEWSTEAD._


    What made my heart, at Newstead, fullest swell?--
    ’Twas not the thought of Byron, of his cry
    Stormily sweet, his Titan-agony;
    It was the sight of that Lord Arundel
    Who struck, in heat, his child he loved so well,
    And his child’s reason flickered, and did die.
    Painted (he willed it) in the gallery
    They hang; the picture doth the story tell.

    Behold the stern, mailed father, staff in hand!
    The little fair-haired son, with vacant gaze,
    Where no more lights of sense or knowledge are!

    Methinks the woe, which made that father stand
    Baring his dumb remorse to future days,
    Was woe than Byron’s woe more tragic far.



_RACHEL._


I.

    In Paris all looked hot and like to fade;
    Sere, in the garden of the Tuileries,
    Sere with September, drooped the chestnut-trees; was dawn,
        a brougham rolled through the streets, and made

    Halt at the white and silent colonnade
    Of the French Theatre. Worn with disease,
    Rachel, with eyes no gazing can appease,
    Sate in the brougham, and those blank walls surveyed.

    She follows the gay world, whose swarms have fled
    To Switzerland, to Baden, to the Rhine;
    Why stops she by this empty playhouse drear?

    Ah! where the spirit its highest life hath led,
    All spots, matched with that spot, are less divine;
    And Rachel’s Switzerland, her Rhine, is here!


II.

    Unto a lonely villa, in a dell
    Above the fragrant warm Provençal shore,
    The dying Rachel in a chair they bore
    Up the steep pine-plumed paths of the Estrelle,

    And laid her in a stately room, where fell
    The shadow of a marble Muse of yore,--
    The rose-crowned queen of legendary lore,
    Polymnia,--full on her death-bed. ’Twas well!

    The fret and misery of our northern towns,
    In this her life’s last day, our poor, our pain,
    Our jangle of false wits, our climate’s frowns,

    Do for this radiant Greek-souled artist cease:
    Sole object of her dying eyes remain
    The beauty and the glorious art of Greece.


III.

    Sprung from the blood of Israel’s scattered race,
    At a mean inn in German Aarau born,
    To forms from antique Greece and Rome uptorn,
    Tricked out with a Parisian speech and face,

    Imparting life renewed, old classic grace;
    Then soothing with thy Christian strain forlorn,
    A-Kempis! her departing soul outworn,
    While by her bedside Hebrew rites have place,--

    Ah! not the radiant spirit of Greece alone
    She had--one power, which made her breast its home.
    In her, like us, there clashed, contending powers,

    Germany, France, Christ, Moses, Athens, Rome.
    The strife, the mixture in her soul, are ours;
    Her genius and her glory are her own.



_WORLDLY PLACE._


    _Even in a palace, life may be led well!_
    So spake the imperial sage, purest of men,
    Marcus Aurelius. But the stifling den
    Of common life, where, crowded up pell-mell,

    Our freedom for a little bread we sell,
    And drudge under some foolish master’s ken
    Who rates us if we peer outside our pen,--
    Matched with a palace, is not this a hell?

    _Even in a palace!_ On his truth sincere,
    Who spoke these words, no shadow ever came;
    And when my ill-schooled spirit is aflame

    Some nobler, ampler stage of life to win,
    I’ll stop, and say, “There were no succor here!
    The aids to noble life are all within.”



_EAST LONDON._


    ’Twas August, and the fierce sun overhead
    Smote on the squalid streets of Bethnal Green,
    And the pale weaver, through his windows seen
    In Spitalfields, looked thrice dispirited.

    I met a preacher there I knew, and said,--
    “Ill and o’erworked, how fare you in this scene?”
    “Bravely!” said he; “for I of late have been
    Much cheered with thoughts of Christ, _the living bread_.”

    O human soul! as long as thou canst so
    Set up a mark of everlasting light,
    Above the howling senses’ ebb and flow,

    To cheer thee, and to right thee if thou roam,--
    Not with lost toil thou laborest through the night!
    Thou mak’st the heaven thou hop’st indeed thy home.



_WEST LONDON._


    Crouched on the pavement, close by Belgrave Square,
    A tramp I saw, ill, moody, and tongue-tied;
    A babe was in her arms, and at her side
    A girl; their clothes were rags, their feet were bare.

    Some laboring-men, whose work lay somewhere there,
    Passed opposite; she touched her girl, who hied
    Across, and begged, and came back satisfied.
    The rich she had let pass with frozen stare.

    Thought I, “Above her state this spirit towers;
    She will not ask of aliens, but of friends,
    Of sharers in a common human fate.

    She turns from that cold succor, which attends
    The unknown little from the unknowing great,
    And points us to a better time than ours.”



_EAST AND WEST._


    In the bare midst of Anglesey they show
    Two springs which close by one another play;
    And, “Thirteen hundred years agone,” they say,
    “Two saints met often where those waters flow.

    One came from Penmon westward, and a glow
    Whitened his face from the sun’s fronting ray;
    Eastward the other, from the dying day,
    And he with unsunned face did always go.”

    _Seiriol the Bright, Kybi the Dark!_ men said.
    The seer from the East was then in light,
    The seer from the West was then in shade.
    Ah! now ’tis changed. In conquering sunshine bright
    The man of the bold West now comes arrayed:
    He of the mystic East is touched with night.



_THE BETTER PART._


    Long fed on boundless hopes, O race of man,
    How angrily thou spurn’st all simpler fare!
    “Christ,” some one says, “was human as we are;
    No judge eyes us from heaven, our sin to scan;

    We live no more, when we have done our span.”
    “Well, then, for Christ,” thou answerest, “who can care?
    From sin which Heaven records not, why forbear?
    Live we like brutes our life without a plan!”

    So answerest thou; but why not rather say,--
    “Hath man no second life? _Pitch this one high!_
    Sits there no judge in heaven, our sin to see?

    _More strictly, then, the inward judge obey!_
    Was Christ a man like us? _Ah! let us try_
    _If we then, too, can be such men as he!_”



THE DIVINITY.


    “Yes, write it in the rock,” Saint Bernard said,
    “Grave it on brass with adamantine pen!
    ’Tis God himself becomes apparent, when
    God’s wisdom and God’s goodness are displayed;

    For God of these his attributes is made.”--
    Well spake the impetuous saint, and bore of men
    The suffrage captive: now not one in ten
    Recalls the obscure opposer he outweighed.[9]

    _God’s wisdom and God’s goodness!_ Ay, but fools
    Mis-define these till God knows them no more.
    _Wisdom and goodness, they are God!_--what schools

    Have yet so much as heard this simpler lore?
    This no saint preaches, and this no Church rules;
    ’Tis in the desert, now and heretofore.



_IMMORTALITY._


    Foiled by our fellow-men, depressed, outworn,
    We leave the brutal world to take its way,
    And, _Patience! in another life_, we say,
    _The world shall be thrust down, and we upborne_.

    And will not, then, the immortal armies scorn
    The world’s poor, routed leavings? or will they
    Who failed under the heat of this life’s day
    Support the fervors of the heavenly morn?

    No, no! the energy of life may be
    Kept on after the grave, but not begun;
    And he who flagged not in the earthly strife,

    From strength to strength advancing,--only he,
    His soul well-knit, and all his battles won,
    Mounts, and that hardly, to eternal life.



_THE GOOD SHEPHERD WITH THE KID._


    _He saves the sheep, the goats he doth not save._
    So rang Tertullian’s sentence, on the side
    Of that unpitying Phrygian sect which cried,[10]
    “Him can no fount of fresh forgiveness lave,
    Who sins, once washed by the baptismal wave.”
    So spake the fierce Tertullian. But she sighed,
    The infant Church! of love she felt the tide
    Stream on her from her Lord’s yet recent grave.

    And then she smiled; and in the Catacombs,
    With eye suffused but heart inspired true,
    On those walls subterranean, where she hid

    Her head ’mid ignominy, death, and tombs,
    She her Good Shepherd’s hasty image drew--
    And on his shoulders, not a lamb, a kid.



_MONICA’S LAST PRAYER._[11]

    “Ah! could thy grave at home, at Carthage, be!”
    _Care not for that, and lay me where I fall!
    Everywhere heard will be the judgment-call;
    But at God’s altar, oh! remember me._

    Thus Monica, and died in Italy.
    Yet fervent had her longing been, through all
    Her course, for home at last, and burial
    With her own husband, by the Libyan sea.

    Had been! but at the end, to her pure soul
    All tie with all beside seemed vain and cheap,
    And union before God the only care.

    Creeds pass, rites change, no altar standeth whole.
    Yet we her memory, as she prayed, will keep,
    Keep by this: _Life in God, and union there!_



LYRIC AND DRAMATIC POEMS.



_SWITZERLAND._


I. MEETING.

    Again I see my bliss at hand,
      The town, the lake, are here;
    My Marguerite smiles upon the strand,[12]
      Unaltered with the year.

    I know that graceful figure fair,
      That cheek of languid hue;
    I know that soft, enkerchiefed hair,
      And those sweet eyes of blue.

    Again I spring to make my choice;
      Again in tones of ire
    I hear a God’s tremendous voice,--
      “Be counselled, and retire.”

    Ye guiding Powers who join and part,
      What would ye have with me?
    Ah, warn some more ambitious heart,
      And let the peaceful be!


II. PARTING.

          Ye storm-winds of autumn!
          Who rush by, who shake
          The window, and ruffle
          The gleam-lighted lake;
          Who cross to the hillside
          Thin-sprinkled with farms,
          Where the high woods strip sadly
          Their yellowing arms,--
          Ye are bound for the mountains!
          Ah! with you let me go
          Where your cold, distant barrier,
          The vast range of snow,
          Through the loose clouds lifts dimly
          Its white peaks in air.
          How deep is their stillness!
          Ah! would I were there!

    But on the stairs what voice is this I hear,
    Buoyant as morning, and as morning clear?
    Say, has some wet bird-haunted English lawn
    Lent it the music of its trees at dawn?
    Or was it from some sun-flecked mountain brook
    That the sweet voice its upland clearness took?
              Ah! it comes nearer--
              Sweet notes, this way!

          Hark! fast by the window
          The rushing winds go,
          To the ice-cumbered gorges,
          The vast seas of snow!
          There the torrents drive upward
            Their rock-strangled hum;
          There the avalanche thunders
          The hoarse torrent dumb.
        --I come, O ye mountains!
          Ye torrents, I come!

    But who is this, by the half-opened door,
    Whose figure casts a shadow on the floor?
    The sweet blue eyes--the soft, ash-colored hair--
    The cheeks that still their gentle paleness wear--
    The lovely lips, with their arched smile that tells
    The unconquered joy in which her spirit dwells--
              Ah! they bend nearer--
              Sweet lips, this way!

          Hark! the wind rushes past us!
          Ah! with that let me go
          To the clear, waning hill-side,
          Unspotted by snow,
          There to watch, o’er the sunk vale,
          The frore mountain wall,
          Where the niched snow-bed sprays down
          Its powdery fall.
          There its dusky blue clusters
          The aconite spreads;
          There the pines slope, the cloud-strips
          Hung soft in their heads.
          No life but, at moments,
          The mountain bee’s hum.
        --I come, O ye mountains!
          Ye pine-woods, I come!

          Forgive me! forgive me!
            Ah, Marguerite, fain
          Would these arms reach to clasp thee!
            But see! ’tis in vain.

          In the void air, towards thee,
            My stretched arms are cast;
          But a sea rolls between us,--
            Our different past!

          To the lips, ah! of others
            Those lips have been prest,
          And others, ere I was,
            Were strained to that breast.

          Far, far from each other
            Our spirits have grown.
          And what heart knows another?
            Ah! who knows his own?

          Blow, ye winds! lift me with you!
            I come to the wild.
          Fold closely, O Nature!
            Thine arms round thy child.

          To thee only God granted
            A heart ever new,--
          To all always open,
            To all always true.

          Ah! calm me, restore me;
            And dry up my tears
          On thy high mountain platforms,
            Where morn first appears;

          Where the white mists, forever,
            Are spread and upfurled,--
          In the stir of the forces
            Whence issued the world.


III. A FAREWELL.

    My horse’s feet beside the lake,
    Where sweet the unbroken moonbeams lay,
    Sent echoes through the night to wake
    Each glistening strand, each heath-fringed bay.

    The poplar avenue was passed,
    And the roofed bridge that spans the stream;
    Up the steep street I hurried fast,
    Led by thy taper’s starlike beam.

    I came! I saw thee rise! the blood
    Poured flushing to thy languid cheek.
    Locked in each other’s arms we stood,
    In tears, with hearts too full to speak.

    Days flew; ah, soon I could discern
    A trouble in thine altered air!
    Thy hand lay languidly in mine,
    Thy cheek was grave, thy speech grew rare.

    I blame thee not! This heart, I know,
    To be long loved was never framed;
    For something in its depths doth glow
    Too strange, too restless, too untamed.

    And women,--things that live and move
    Mined by the fever of the soul,--
    They seek to find in those they love
    Stern strength, and promise of control.

    They ask not kindness, gentle ways;
    These they themselves have tried and known:
    They ask a soul which never sways
    With the blind gusts that shake their own.

    I too have felt the load I bore
    In a too strong emotion’s sway;
    I too have wished, no woman more,
    This starting, feverish heart away.

    I too have longed for trenchant force,
    And will like a dividing spear;
    Have praised the keen, unscrupulous course,
    Which knows no doubt, which feels no fear.

    But in the world I learnt, what there
    Thou too wilt surely one day prove,--
    That will, that energy, though rare,
    Are yet far, far less rare than love.

    Go, then! till time and fate impress
    This truth on thee, be mine no more!
    They will! for thou, I feel, not less
    Than I, wast destined to this lore.

    We school our manners, act our parts;
    But He, who sees us through and through,
    Knows that the bent of both our hearts
    Was to be gentle, tranquil, true.

    And though we wear out life, alas!
    Distracted as a homeless wind,
    In beating where we must not pass,
    In seeking what we shall not find;

    Yet we shall one day gain, life past,
    Clear prospect o’er our being’s whole;
    Shall see ourselves, and learn at last
    Our true affinities of soul.

    We shall not then deny a course
    To every thought the mass ignore;
    We shall not then call hardness force,
    Nor lightness wisdom any more.

    Then, in the eternal Father’s smile,
    Our soothed, encouraged souls will dare
    To seem as free from pride and guile,
    As good, as generous, as they are.

    Then we shall know our friends! Though much
    Will have been lost,--the help in strife,
    The thousand sweet, still joys of such
    As hand in hand face earthly life,--

    Though these be lost, there will be yet
    A sympathy august and pure;
    Ennobled by a vast regret,
    And by contrition sealed thrice sure.

    And we, whose ways were unlike here,
    May then more neighboring courses ply;
    May to each other be brought near,
    And greet across infinity.

    How sweet, unreached by earthly jars,
    My sister! to maintain with thee
    The hush among the shining stars,
    The calm upon the moonlit sea!

    How sweet to feel, on the boon air,
    All our unquiet pulses cease!
    To feel that nothing can impair
    The gentleness, the thirst for peace,--

    The gentleness too rudely hurled
    On this wild earth of hate and fear;
    The thirst for peace, a raving world
    Would never let us satiate here.


IV. ISOLATION. TO MARGUERITE.

    We were apart: yet, day by day,
    I bade my heart more constant be.
    I bade it keep the world away,
    And grow a home for only thee;
    Nor feared but thy love likewise grew,
    Like mine, each day, more tried, more true.

    The fault was grave! I might have known,
    What far too soon, alas! I learned,--
    The heart can bind itself alone,
    And faith may oft be unreturned.
    Self-swayed our feelings ebb and swell.
    Thou lov’st no more. Farewell! Farewell!

    Farewell!--And thou, thou lonely heart,
    Which never yet without remorse
    Even for a moment didst depart
    From thy remote and spherèd course
    To haunt the place where passions reign,--
    Back to thy solitude again!

    Back! with the conscious thrill of shame
    Which Luna felt, that summer-night,
    Flash through her pure immortal frame,
    When she forsook the starry height
    To hang o’er Endymion’s sleep
    Upon the pine-grown Latmian steep.

    Yet she, chaste queen, had never proved
    How vain a thing is mortal love,
    Wandering in heaven, far removed;
    But thou hast long had place to prove
    This truth,--to prove, and make thine own:
    “Thou hast been, shalt be, art, alone.”

    Or, if not quite alone, yet they
    Which touch thee are unmating things,--
    Ocean and clouds and night and day;
    Lorn autumns and triumphant springs;
    And life, and others’ joy and pain,
    And love, if love, of happier men.

    Of happier men; for they, at least,
    Have _dreamed_ two human hearts might blend
    In one, and were through faith released
    From isolation without end
    Prolonged; nor knew, although not less
    Alone than thou, their loneliness.


V. TO MARGUERITE. CONTINUED.

    Yes! in the sea of life enisled,
    With echoing straits between us thrown,
    Dotting the shoreless watery wild,
    We mortal millions live _alone_.
    The islands feel the enclasping flow,
    And then their endless bounds they know.

    But when the moon their hollows lights,
    And they are swept by balms of spring,
    And in their glens, on starry nights,
    The nightingales divinely sing;
    And lovely notes, from shore to shore,
    Across the sounds and channels pour,--

    Oh! then a longing like despair
    Is to their farthest caverns sent;
    For surely once, they feel, we were
    Parts of a single continent!
    Now round us spreads the watery plain:
    Oh, might our marges meet again!

    Who ordered that their longing’s fire
    Should be, as soon as kindled, cooled?
    Who renders vain their deep desire?--
    A God, a God their severance ruled!
    And bade betwixt their shores to be
    The unplumbed, salt, estranging sea.


VI. ABSENCE.

    In this fair stranger’s eyes of gray,
      Thine eyes, my love! I see.
    I shiver; for the passing day
      Had borne me far from thee.

    This is the curse of life! that not
      A nobler, calmer train
    Of wiser thoughts and feelings blot
      Our passions from our brain;

    But each day brings its petty dust,
      Our soon-choked souls to fill;
    And we forget because we must,
      And not because we will.

    I struggle towards the light; and ye,
      Once-longed-for storms of love!
    If with the light ye cannot be,
      I bear that ye remove.

    I struggle towards the light; but oh,
      While yet the night is chill,
    Upon time’s barren, stormy flow,
      Stay with me, Marguerite, still!


VII. THE TERRACE AT BERNE.

(COMPOSED TEN YEARS AFTER THE PRECEDING.)

    Ten years! and to my waking eye
    Once more the roofs of Berne appear;
    The rocky banks, the terrace high,
    The stream! and do I linger here?

    The clouds are on the Oberland,
    The Jungfrau snows look faint and far;
    But bright are those green fields at hand,
    And through those fields comes down the Aar,

    And from the blue twin-lakes it comes,
    Flows by the town, the churchyard fair;
    And ’neath the garden-walk it hums,
    The house! and is my Marguerite there

    Ah! shall I see thee, while a flush
    Of startled pleasure floods thy brow,
    Quick through the oleanders brush,
    And clap thy hands, and cry, _’Tis thou!_

    Or hast thou long since wandered back,
    Daughter of France! to France, thy home;
    And flitted down the flowery track
    Where feet like thine too lightly come?

    Doth riotous laughter now replace
    Thy smile, and rouge, with stony glare,
    Thy cheek’s soft hue, and fluttering lace
    The kerchief that inwound thy hair?

    Or is it over? art thou dead?--
    Dead!--and no warning shiver ran
    Across my heart, to say thy thread
    Of life was cut, and closed thy span!

    Could from earth’s ways that figure slight
    Be lost, and I not feel ’twas so?
    Of that fresh voice the gay delight
    Fail from earth’s air, and I not know?

    Or shall I find thee still, but changed,
    But not the Marguerite of thy prime?
    With all thy being re-arranged,--
    Passed through the crucible of time;

    With spirit vanished, beauty waned,
    And hardly yet a glance, a tone,
    A gesture--any thing--retained
    Of all that was my Marguerite’s own?

    I will not know! For wherefore try,
    To things by mortal course that live,
    A shadowy durability,
    For which they were not meant, to give?

    Like driftwood spars, which meet and pass
    Upon the boundless ocean-plain,
    So on the sea of life, alas!
    Man meets man,--meets, and quits again.

    I knew it when my life was young;
    I feel it still now youth is o’er.
   --The mists are on the mountain hung,
    And Marguerite I shall see no more.



_THE STRAYED REVELLER._


_THE PORTICO OF CIRCE’S PALACE. EVENING._

    A YOUTH.

    CIRCE.

    THE YOUTH.

    Faster, faster,
    O Circe, goddess,
    Let the wild, thronging train,
    The bright procession
    Of eddying forms,
    Sweep through my soul!

    Thou standest, smiling
    Down on me! thy right arm,
    Leaned up against the column there,
    Props thy soft cheek;
    Thy left holds, hanging loosely,
    The deep cup, ivy-cinctured,
    I held but now.

    Is it then evening
    So soon? I see, the night-dews,
    Clustered in thick beads, dim
    The agate brooch-stones
    On thy white shoulder;
    The cool night-wind, too,
    Blows through the portico,
    Stirs thy hair, goddess,
    Waves thy white robe!

    CIRCE.

    Whence art thou, sleeper?

    THE YOUTH.

    When the white dawn first
    Through the rough fir-planks
    Of my hut, by the chestnuts,
    Up at the valley-head,
    Came breaking, goddess!
    I sprang up, I threw round me
    My dappled fawn-skin;
    Passing out, from the wet turf,
    Where they lay, by the hut door,
    I snatched up my vine-crown, my fir-staff,
    All drenched in dew,--
    Came swift down to join
    The rout early gathered
    In the town, round the temple,
    Iacchus’ white fane
    On yonder hill.

    Quick I passed, following
    The woodcutters’ cart-track
    Down the dark valley. I saw
    On my left, through the beeches,
    Thy palace, goddess,
    Smokeless, empty!
    Trembling, I entered; beheld
    The court all silent,
    The lions sleeping,
    On the altar this bowl.
    I drank, goddess!
    And sank down here, sleeping,
    On the steps of thy portico.

    CIRCE.

    Foolish boy! Why tremblest thou?
    Thou lovest it, then, my wine?
    Wouldst more of it? See how glows,
    Through the delicate, flushed marble,
    The red creaming liquor,
    Strewn with dark seeds!
    Drink, then! I chide thee not,
    Deny thee not my bowl.
    Come, stretch forth thy hand, then--so!
    Drink--drink again!

    THE YOUTH.

    Thanks, gracious one!
    Ah, the sweet fumes again!
    More soft, ah me!
    More subtle-winding,
    Than Pan’s flute-music!
    Faint--faint! Ah me,
    Again the sweet sleep!

    CIRCE.

    Hist! Thou--within there!
    Come forth, Ulysses!
    Art tired with hunting?
    While we range the woodland,
    See what the day brings.

    ULYSSES.

    Ever new magic!
    Hast thou then lured hither,
    Wonderful goddess, by thy art,
    The young, languid-eyed Ampelus,
    Iacchus’ darling,
    Or some youth beloved of Pan,
    Of Pan and the nymphs;
    That he sits, bending downward
    His white, delicate neck
    To the ivy-wreathed marge
    Of thy cup; the bright, glancing vine-leaves
    That crown his hair,
    Falling forward, mingling
    With the dark ivy-plants;
    His fawn-skin, half untied,
    Smeared with red wine-stains? Who is he,
    That he sits, overweighed
    By fumes of wine and sleep,
    So late, in thy portico?
    What youth, goddess,--what guest
    Of gods or mortals?

    CIRCE.

    Hist! he wakes!
    I lured him not hither, Ulysses.
    Nay, ask him!

    THE YOUTH.

    Who speaks? Ah! who comes forth
    To thy side, goddess, from within?
    How shall I name him,--
    This spare, dark-featured,
    Quick-eyed stranger?
    Ah! and I see too
    His sailor’s bonnet,
    His short coat, travel-tarnished,
    With one arm bare!--
    Art thou not he, whom fame
    This long time rumors
    The favored guest of Circe, brought by the waves?
    Art thou he, stranger,--
    The wise Ulysses,
    Laertes’ son?

    ULYSSES.

    I am Ulysses.
    And thou too, sleeper?
    Thy voice is sweet.
    It may be thou hast followed
    Through the islands some divine bard,
    By age taught many things,--
    Age, and the Muses;
    And heard him delighting
    The chiefs and people
    In the banquet, and learned his songs,
    Of gods and heroes,
    Of war and arts,
    And peopled cities,
    Inland, or built
    By the gray sea. If so, then hail!
    I honor and welcome thee.

    THE YOUTH.

    The gods are happy.
    They turn on all sides
    Their shining eyes,
    And see below them
    The earth and men.

    They see Tiresias
    Sitting, staff in hand,
    On the warm, grassy
    Asopus bank,
    His robe drawn over
    His old sightless head,
    Revolving inly
    The doom of Thebes.

    They see the centaurs
    In the upper glens
    Of Pelion, in the streams
    Where red-berried ashes fringe
    The clear-brown shallow pools,
    With streaming flanks, and heads
    Reared proudly, snuffing
    The mountain wind.

    They see the Indian
    Drifting, knife in hand,
    His frail boat moored to
    A floating isle thick-matted
    With large-leaved, low-creeping melon-plants,
    And the dark cucumber.
    He reaps and stows them,
    Drifting--drifting; round him,
    Round his green harvest-plot,
    Flow the cool lake-waves,
    The mountains ring them.

    They see the Scythian
    On the wide steppe, unharnessing
    His wheeled house at noon.
    He tethers his beast down, and makes his meal,--
    Mares’ milk, and bread
    Baked on the embers. All around,
    The boundless, waving grass-plains stretch, thick-starred
    With saffron and the yellow hollyhock
    And flag-leaved iris-flowers.
    Sitting in his cart
    He makes his meal; before him, for long miles,
    Alive with bright green lizards,
    And the springing bustard-fowl,
    The track, a straight black line,
    Furrows the rich soil; here and there
    Clusters of lonely mounds
    Topped with rough-hewn,
    Gray, rain-bleared statues, overpeer
    The sunny waste.

    They see the ferry
    On the broad, clay-laden
    Lone Chorasmian stream; thereon,
    With snort and strain,
    Two horses, strongly swimming, tow
    The ferry-boat, with woven ropes
    To either bow
    Firm-harnessed by the mane; a chief,
    With shout and shaken spear,
    Stands at the prow, and guides them; but astern
    The cowering merchants in long robes
    Sit pale beside their wealth
    Of silk-bales and of balsam-drops,
    Of gold and ivory,
    Of turquoise-earth, and amethyst,
    Jasper and chalcedony,
    And milk-barred onyx-stones.
    The loaded boat swings groaning
    In the yellow eddies;
    The gods behold them.

    They see the heroes
    Sitting in the dark ship
    On the foamless, long-heaving,
    Violet sea,
    At sunset nearing
    The Happy Islands.

    These things, Ulysses,
    The wise bards also
    Behold, and sing.
    But oh, what labor!
    O prince, what pain!

    They too can see
    Tiresias; but the gods,
    Who gave them vision,
    Added this law:
    That they should bear too
    His groping blindness,
    His dark foreboding,
    His scorned white hairs;
    Bear Hera’s anger
    Through a life lengthened
    To seven ages.

    They see the centaurs
    On Pelion: then they feel,
    They too, the maddening wine
    Swell their large veins to bursting; in wild pain
    They feel the biting spears
    Of the grim Lapithæ, and Theseus, drive,
    Drive crashing through their bones; they feel,
    High on a jutting rock in the red stream,
    Alcmena’s dreadful son
    Ply his bow. Such a price
    The gods exact for song:
    To become what we sing.

    They see the Indian
    On his mountain lake; but squalls
    Make their skiff reel, and worms
    In the unkind spring have gnawn
    Their melon-harvest to the heart. They see
    The Scythian; but long frosts
    Parch them in winter-time on the bare steppe,
    Till they too fade like grass; they crawl
    Like shadows forth in spring.

    They see the merchants
    On the Oxus-stream; but care
    Must visit first them too, and make them pale:
    Whether, through whirling sand,
    A cloud of desert robber-horse have burst
    Upon their caravan; or greedy kings,
    In the walled cities the way passes through,
    Crushed them with tolls; or fever-airs,
    On some great river’s marge,
    Mown them down, far from home.

    They see the heroes
    Near harbor; but they share
    Their lives, and former violent toil in Thebes,--
    Seven-gated Thebes, or Troy;
    Or where the echoing oars
    Of Argo first
    Startled the unknown sea.

    The old Silenus
    Came, lolling in the sunshine,
    From the dewy forest-coverts,
    This way, at noon.
    Sitting by me, while his fauns
    Down at the water-side
    Sprinkled and smoothed
    His drooping garland,
    He told me these things.

    But I, Ulysses,
    Sitting on the warm steps,
    Looking over the valley,
    All day long, have seen,
    Without pain, without labor,
    Sometimes a wild-haired mænad,
    Sometimes a faun with torches,
    And sometimes, for a moment,
    Passing through the dark stems
    Flowing-robed, the beloved,
    The desired, the divine,
    Beloved Iacchus.

    Ah, cool night-wind, tremulous stars!
    Ah, glimmering water,
    Fitful earth-murmur,
    Dreaming woods!
    Ah, golden-haired, strangely smiling goddess,
    And thou, proved, much-enduring,
    Wave-tossed wanderer!
    Who can stand still?
    Ye fade, ye swim, ye waver before me--
    The cup again!

    Faster, faster,
    O Circe, goddess,
    Let the wild, thronging train,
    The bright procession
    Of eddying forms,
    Sweep through my soul!



_FRAGMENT OF AN “ANTIGONE.”_


    THE CHORUS.

    Well hath he done who hath seized happiness!
    For little do the all-containing hours,
        Though opulent, freely give,--
        Who, weighing that life well
        Fortune presents unprayed,
    Declines her ministry, and carves his own;
        And, justice not infringed,
    Makes his own welfare his unswerved-from law.

    He does well too, who keeps that clew the mild
    Birth-goddess and the austere Fates first gave.
        For, from the day when these
        Bring him, a weeping child,
        First to the light, and mark
    A country for him, kinsfolk, and a home,
        Unguided he remains,
    Till the Fates come again, this time with death.

        In little companies,
        And, our own place once left,
    Ignorant where to stand, or whom to avoid,
    By city and household grouped, we live; and many shocks
        Our order heaven-ordained
        Must every day endure,--
    Voyages, exiles, hates, dissensions, wars.
        Besides what waste _he_ makes,
        The all-hated, order-breaking,
        Without friend, city, or home,--
        Death, who dissevers all.

        Him then I praise, who dares
        To self-selected good
    Prefer obedience to the primal law
    Which consecrates the ties of blood; for these, indeed,
        Are to the gods a care:
        That touches but himself.
    For every day man may be linked and loosed
        With strangers; but the bond
        Original, deep-inwound,
        Of blood, can he not bind,
        Nor, if fate binds, not bear.

        But hush! Hæmon, whom Antigone,
        Robbing herself of life in burying,
        Against Creon’s law, Polynices,
        Robs of a loved bride,--pale, imploring,
            Waiting her passage,
        Forth from the palace hitherward comes.

    HÆMON.

        No, no, old men, Creon I curse not!
                I weep, Thebans,
            One than Creon crueller far!
        For he, he, at least, by slaying her,
        August laws doth mightily vindicate;
        But thou, too bold, headstrong, pitiless!--
      Ah me!--honorest more than thy lover,
              O Antigone!
      A dead, ignorant, thankless corpse.

    THE CHORUS.

          Nor was the love untrue
          Which the Dawn-Goddess bore
          To that fair youth she erst,
          Leaving the salt sea-beds,
    And coming flushed over the stormy frith
          Of loud Euripus, saw,--
          Saw and snatched, wild with love,
          From the pine-dotted spurs
          Of Parnes, where thy waves,
          Asopus! gleam rock-hemmed,--
    The Hunter of the Tanagræan Field.[13]

          But him, in his sweet prime,
          By severance immature,
          By Artemis’ soft shafts,
          She, though a goddess born,
    Saw in the rocky isle of Delos die.
          Such end o’ertook that love.
          For she desired to make
          Immortal mortal man,
          And blend his happy life,
          Far from the gods, with hers;
    To him postponing an eternal law.

    HÆMON.

      But like me, she, wroth, complaining,
      Succumbed to the envy of unkind gods;
      And, her beautiful arms unclasping,
      Her fair youth unwillingly gave.

    THE CHORUS.

          Nor, though enthroned too high
          To fear assault of envious gods,
    His beloved Argive seer would Zeus retain
          From his appointed end

          In this our Thebes; but when
          His flying steeds came near
          To cross the steep Ismenian glen,
    The broad earth opened, and whelmed them and him,
          And through the void air sang
          At large his enemy’s spear.

    And fain would Zeus have saved his tired son,
    Beholding him where the Two Pillars stand
        O’er the sun-reddened western straits,[14]
    Or at his work in that dim lower world.
          Fain would he have recalled
          The fraudulent oath which bound
    To a much feebler wight the heroic man.

    But he preferred fate to his strong desire.
    Nor did there need less than the burning pile
        Under the towering Trachis crags,
    And the Spercheios vale, shaken with groans,
          And the roused Maliac gulf,
          And scared Œtæan snows,
    To achieve his son’s deliverance, O my child!



_FRAGMENT OF CHORUS OF A “DEJANEIRA.”_


    O frivolous mind of man,
    Light ignorance, and hurrying, unsure thoughts!
    Though man bewails you not,
    How _I_ bewail you!

    Little in your prosperity
    Do you seek counsel of the gods.
    Proud, ignorant, self-adored, you live alone.
    In profound silence stern,
    Among their savage gorges and cold springs,
    Unvisited remain
    The great oracular shrines.

    Thither in your adversity
    Do you betake yourselves for light,
    But strangely misinterpret all you hear.
    For you will not put on
    New hearts with the inquirer’s holy robe,
    And purged, considerate minds.

    And him on whom, at the end
    Of toil and dolour untold,
    The gods have said that repose
    At last shall descend undisturbed,--
    Him you expect to behold
    In an easy old age, in a happy home:
    No end but this you praise.

    But him on whom, in the prime
    Of life, with vigor undimmed,
    With unspent mind, and a soul
    Unworn, undebased, undecayed,
    Mournfully grating, the gates
    Of the city of death have forever closed,--
    _Him_, I count _him_, well-starred.



_EARLY DEATH AND FAME._


    For him who must see many years,
    I praise the life which slips away
    Out of the light, and mutely; which avoids
    Fame, and her less fair followers, envy, strife,
    Stupid detraction, jealousy, cabal,
    Insincere praises; which descends
    The quiet mossy track to age.

    But when immature death
    Beckons too early the guest
    From the half-tried banquet of life,
    Young, in the bloom of his days;
    Leaves no leisure to press,
    Slow and surely, the sweets
    Of a tranquil life in the shade,--
    Fuller for him be the hours!
    Give him emotion, though pain!
    Let him live, let him feel, _I have lived_.
    Heap up his moments with life!
    Triple his pulses with fame!



_PHILOMELA._


    Hark! ah, the nightingale--
    The tawny-throated!
    Hark! from that moonlit cedar what a burst!
    What triumph! hark! what pain!

    O wanderer from a Grecian shore,
    Still, after many years, in distant lands,
    Still nourishing in thy bewildered brain
    That wild, unquenched, deep-sunken, old-world pain,
    Say, will it never heal?
    And can this fragrant lawn
    With its cool trees, and night,
    And the sweet, tranquil Thames,
    And moonshine, and the dew,
    To thy racked heart and brain
    Afford no balm?

    Dost thou to-night behold,
    Here, through the moonlight on this English grass,
    The unfriendly palace in the Thracian wild?
    Dost thou again peruse
    With hot cheeks and seared eyes
    The too clear web, and thy dumb sister’s shame?
    Dost thou once more assay
    Thy flight, and feel come over thee,
    Poor fugitive, the feathery change.
    Once more, and once more seem to make resound
    With love and hate, triumph and agony,
    Lone Daulis, and the high Cephissian vale?
    Listen, Eugenia,--
    How thick the bursts come crowding through the leaves!
    Again--thou hearest?
    Eternal passion!
    Eternal pain!



_URANIA._


    She smiles and smiles, and will not sigh,
    While we for hopeless passion die;
    Yet she could love, those eyes declare,
    Were but men nobler than they are.

    Eagerly once her gracious ken
    Was turned upon the sons of men;
    But light the serious visage grew grew--
    She looked, and smiled, and saw them through.

    Our petty souls, our strutting wits,
    Our labored, puny passion-fits,--
    Ah, may she scorn them still, till we
    Scorn them as bitterly as she!

    Yet show her once, ye heavenly Powers,
    One of some worthier race than ours!
    One for whose sake she once might prove
    How deeply she who scorns can love.

    His eyes be like the starry lights,
    His voice like sounds of summer nights;
    In all his lovely mien let pierce
    The magic of the universe!

    And she to him will reach her hand,
    And gazing in his eyes will stand,
    And know her friend, and weep for glee,
    And cry, _Long, long I’ve looked for thee_.

    Then will she weep: with smiles, till then,
    Coldly she mocks the sons of men;
    Till then, her lovely eyes maintain
    Their pure, unwavering, deep disdain.



_EUPHROSYNE._


    I must not say that she was true,
    Yet let me say that she was fair;
    And they, that lovely face who view,
    They should not ask if truth be there.

    Truth--what is truth? Two bleeding hearts,
    Wounded by men, by fortune tried,
    Outwearied with their lonely parts,
    Vow to beat henceforth side by side.

    The world to them was stern and drear,
    Their lot was but to weep and moan;
    Ah! let them keep their faith sincere,
    For neither could subsist alone.

    But souls whom some benignant breath
    Hath charmed at birth from gloom and care,--
    These ask no love, these plight no faith,
    For they are happy as they are.

    The world to them may homage make,
    And garlands for their forehead weave;
    And what the world can give, they take--
    But they bring more than they receive.

    They shine upon the world; their ears
    To one demand alone are coy:
    They will not give us love and tears,
    They bring us light and warmth and joy.

    On one she smiled, and he was blest;
    She smiles elsewhere--we make a din!
    But ’twas not love which heaved her breast,
    Fair child! it was the bliss within.



_CALAIS SANDS._


    A thousand knights have reined their steeds
    To watch this line of sand-hills run,
    Along the never-silent strait,
    To Calais glittering in the sun;

    To look toward Ardres’ Golden Field
    Across this wide aërial plain,
    Which glows as if the Middle Age
    Were gorgeous upon earth again.

    Oh, that to share this famous scene,
    I saw, upon the open sand,
    Thy lovely presence at my side,--
    Thy shawl, thy look, thy smile, thy hand!

    How exquisite thy voice would come,
    My darling, on this lonely air!
    How sweetly would the fresh sea-breeze
    Shake loose some band of soft brown hair!

    Yet now my glance but once hath roved
    O’er Calais and its famous plain;
    To England’s cliffs my gaze is turned,
    O’er the blue strait mine eyes I strain.

    Thou comest! Yes! the vessel’s cloud
    Hangs dark upon the rolling sea.
    Oh that yon sea-bird’s wings were mine,
    To win one instant’s glimpse of thee!

    I must not spring to grasp thy hand,
    To woo thy smile, to seek thine eye;
    But I may stand far off, and gaze,
    And watch thee pass unconscious by,--

    And spell thy looks, and guess thy thoughts,
    Mixed with the idlers on the pier.
    Ah! might I always rest unseen,
    So I might have thee always near!

    To-morrow hurry through the fields
    Of Flanders to the storied Rhine!
    To-night those soft-fringed eyes shall close
    Beneath one roof, my queen! with mine.



_FADED LEAVES._


I. THE RIVER.

    Still glides the stream, slow drops the boat
    Under the rustling poplars’ shade;
    Silent the swans beside us float:
    None speaks, none heeds; ah, turn thy head!

    Let those arch eyes now softly shine,
    That mocking mouth grow sweetly bland;
    Ah! let them rest, those eyes, on mine!
    On mine let rest that lovely hand!

    My pent-up tears oppress my brain,
    My heart is swoln with love unsaid.
    Ah! let me weep, and tell my pain,
    And on thy shoulder rest my head!

    Before I die,--before the soul,
    Which now is mine, must re-attain
    Immunity from my control,
    And wander round the world again;
    Before this teased, o’er-labored heart
    Forever leaves its vain employ,
    Dead to its deep habitual smart,
    And dead to hopes of future joy.


II. TOO LATE.

    Each on his own strict line we move,
    And some find death ere they find love;
    So far apart their lives are thrown
    From the twin soul that halves their own.

    And sometimes, by still harder fate,
    The lovers meet, but meet too late.
   --Thy heart is mine! _True, true! ah, true!_
   --Then, love, thy hand! _Ah, no! adieu!_


III. SEPARATION.

    Stop! not to me, at this bitter departing,
      Speak of the sure consolations of time!
    Fresh be the wound, still-renewed be its smarting,
      So but thy image endure in its prime!

    But if the steadfast commandment of Nature
      Wills that remembrance should always decay;
    If the loved form and the deep-cherished feature
      Must, when unseen, from the soul fade away,--

    Me let no half-effaced memories cumber;
      Fled, fled at once, be all vestige of thee!
    Deep be the darkness, and still be the slumber;
      Dead be the past and its phantoms to me!

    Then, when we meet, and thy look strays toward me,
      Scanning my face and the changes wrought there;
    _Who_, let me say, _is this stranger regards me,
      With the gray eyes, and the lovely brown hair_?


IV. ON THE RHINE.

    Vain is the effort to forget.
    Some day I shall be cold, I know,
    As is the eternal moon-lit snow
    Of the high Alps, to which I go;
    But ah! not yet, not yet!

    Vain is the agony of grief.
    ’Tis true, indeed, an iron knot
    Ties straitly up from mine thy lot;
    And, were it snapped--thou lov’st me not!
    But is despair relief?

    A while let me with thought have done.
    And as this brimmed unwrinkled Rhine,
    And that far purple mountain line,
    Lie sweetly in the look divine
    Of the slow-sinking sun;

    So let me lie, and, calm as they,
    Let beam upon my inward view
    Those eyes of deep, soft, lucent hue,--
    Eyes too expressive to be blue,
    Too lovely to be gray.

    Ah, quiet, all things feel thy balm!
    Those blue hills too, this river’s flow,
    Were restless once, but long ago.
    Tamed is their turbulent youthful glow;
    Their joy is in their calm.


V. LONGING.

    Come to me in my dreams, and then
    By day I shall be well again!
    For then the night will more than pay
    The hopeless longing of the day.

    Come, as thou cam’st a thousand times,
    A messenger from radiant climes,
    And smile on thy new world, and be
    As kind to others as to me!

    Or, as thou never cam’st in sooth,
    Come now, and let me dream it truth;
    And part my hair, and kiss my brow,
    And say, _My love! why sufferest thou?_

    Come to me in my dreams, and then
    By day I shall be well again!
    For then the night will more than pay
    The hopeless longing of the day.



_DESPONDENCY._


    The thoughts that rain their steady glow
    Like stars on life’s cold sea,
    Which others know, or say they know,--
    They never shone for me.

    Thoughts light, like gleams, my spirit’s sky,
    But they will not remain.
    They light me once, they hurry by,
    And never come again.



_SELF-DECEPTION._


    Say, what blinds us, that we claim the glory
    Of possessing powers not our share?
   --Since man woke on earth, he knows his story;
    But, before we woke on earth, we were.

    Long, long since, undowered yet, our spirit
    Roamed, ere birth, the treasuries of God;
    Saw the gifts, the powers it might inherit,
    Asked an outfit for its earthly road.

    Then, as now, this tremulous, eager being
    Strained and longed, and grasped each gift it saw;
    Then, as now, a Power beyond our seeing
    Staved us back, and gave our choice the law.

    Ah! whose hand that day through heaven guided
    Man’s new spirit, since it was not we?
    Ah! who swayed our choice, and who decided
    What our gifts and what our wants should be?

    For, alas! he left us each retaining
    Shreds of gifts which he refused in full;
    Still these waste us with their hopeless straining,
    Still the attempt to use them proves them null.

    And on earth we wander, groping, reeling;
    Powers stir in us, stir and disappear.
    Ah! and he, who placed our master-feeling,
    Failed to place that master-feeling clear.

    We but dream we have our wished-for powers;
    Ends we seek, we never shall attain.
    Ah! _some_ power exists there, which is ours?
    _Some_ end is there, we indeed may gain?



_DOVER BEACH._


    The sea is calm to-night.
    The tide is full, the moon lies fair
    Upon the straits; on the French coast, the light
    Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
    Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.

    Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
    Only, from the long line of spray
    Where the sea meets the moon-blanched sand,
    Listen! you hear the grating roar
    Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
    At their return, up the high strand,
    Begin and cease, and then again begin,
    With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
    The eternal note of sadness in.

    Sophocles long ago
    Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
    Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
    Of human misery: we
    Find also in the sound a thought,
    Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

    The sea of faith
    Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
    Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
    But now I only hear
    Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
    Retreating, to the breath
    Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
    And naked shingles of the world.

    Ah, love, let us be true
    To one another! for the world, which seems
    To lie before us like a land of dreams,
    So various, so beautiful, so new,
    Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
    Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
    And we are here as on a darkling plain
    Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
    Where ignorant armies clash by night.



_GROWING OLD._


    What is it to grow old?
    Is it to lose the glory of the form,
    The lustre of the eye?
    Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
   --Yes, but not this alone.

    Is it to feel our strength--
    Not our bloom only, but our strength--decay?
    Is it to feel each limb
    Grow stiffer, every function less exact,
    Each nerve more loosely strung?

    Yes, this, and more; but not,
    Ah! ’tis not what in youth we dreamed ’twould be.
    ’Tis not to have our life
    Mellowed and softened as with sunset-glow,--
    A golden day’s decline.

    ’Tis not to see the world
    As from a height, with rapt prophetic eyes,
    And heart profoundly stirred;
    And weep, and feel the fulness of the past,
    The years that are no more.

    It is to spend long days,
    And not once feel that we were ever young;
    It is to add, immured
    In the hot prison of the present, month
    To month with weary pain.

    It is to suffer this,
    And feel but half, and feebly, what we feel.
    Deep in our hidden heart
    Festers the dull remembrance of a change,
    But no emotion,--none.

    It is--last stage of all--
    When we are frozen up within, and quite
    The phantom of ourselves,
    To hear the world applaud the hollow ghost,
    Which blamed the living man.



_THE PROGRESS OF POESY._

A VARIATION.


    Youth rambles on life’s arid mount,
    And strikes the rock, and finds the vein,
    And brings the water from the fount,--
    The fount which shall not flow again.

    The man mature with labor chops
    For the bright stream a channel grand,
    And sees not that the sacred drops
    Ran off and vanished out of hand.

    And then the old man totters nigh,
    And feebly rakes among the stones.
    The mount is mute, the channel dry;
    And down he lays his weary bones.



_PIS ALLER._


    “Man is blind because of sin;
    Revelation makes him sure:
    Without that, who looks within
    Looks in vain, for all’s obscure.”

    Nay, look closer into man!
    Tell me, can you find indeed
    Nothing sure, no moral plan
    Clear prescribed, without your creed?

    “No, I nothing can perceive!
    Without that, all’s dark for men.
    That, or nothing, I believe.”--
    For God’s sake, believe it, then!



_THE LAST WORD._


    Creep into thy narrow bed,--
    Creep, and let no more be said.
    Vain thy onset! all stands fast.
    Thou thyself must break at last.

    Let the long contention cease!
    Geese are swans, and swans are geese.
    Let them have it how they will!
    Thou art tired: best be still.

    They out-talked thee, hissed thee, tore thee?
    Better men fared thus before thee;
    Fired their ringing shot, and passed,
    Hotly charged--and sank at last.

    Charge once more, then, and be dumb!
    Let the victors, when they come,
    When the forts of folly fall,
    Find thy body by the wall!



_A NAMELESS EPITAPH._


    Ask not my name, O friend!
    That Being only, which hath known each man
    From the beginning, can
    Remember each unto the end.



_EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA._

A DRAMATIC POEM.



PERSONS.


    EMPEDOCLES.
    PAUSANIAS, _a Physician_.
    CALLICLES, _a young Harp-player_.

_The Scene of the Poem is on Mount Etna; at first in the forest region,
afterwards on the summit of the mountain._



ACT I.


SCENE I.--_Morning. A Pass in the forest region of Etna._

    CALLICLES (_alone, resting on a rock by the path_).

    The mules, I think, will not be here this hour:
    They feel the cool wet turf under their feet
    By the stream-side, after the dusty lanes
    In which they have toiled all night from Catana,
    And scarcely will they budge a yard. O Pan,
    How gracious is the mountain at this hour!
    A thousand times have I been here alone,
    Or with the revellers from the mountain towns,
    But never on so fair a morn. The sun
    Is shining on the brilliant mountain crests,
    And on the highest pines; but farther down,
    Here in the valley, is in shade; the sward
    Is dark, and on the stream the mist still hangs;
    One sees one’s footprints crushed in the wet grass,
    One’s breath curls in the air; and on these pines
    That climb from the stream’s edge, the long gray tufts,
    Which the goats love, are jewelled thick with dew.
    Here will I stay till the slow litter comes.
    I have my harp too: that is well.--Apollo!
    What mortal could be sick or sorry here?
    I know not in what mind Empedocles,
    Whose mules I followed, may be coming up;
    But if, as most men say, he is half mad
    With exile, and with brooding on his wrongs,
    Pausanias, his sage friend, who mounts with him,
    Could scarce have lighted on a lovelier cure.
    The mules must be below, far down. I hear
    Their tinkling bells, mixed with the song of birds,
    Rise faintly to me: now it stops!--Who’s here?
    Pausanias! and on foot? alone?

    PAUSANIAS.

                                  And thou, then?
    I left thee supping with Peisianax,
    With thy head full of wine, and thy hair crowned,
    Touching thy harp as the whim came on thee,
    And praised and spoiled by master and by guests
    Almost as much as the new dancing-girl.
    Why hast thou followed us?

    CALLICLES.

                              The night was hot,
    And the feast past its prime: so we slipped out,
    Some of us, to the portico to breathe,--
    Peisianax, thou know’st, drinks late,--and then,
    As I was lifting my soiled garland off,
    I saw the mules and litter in the court,
    And in the litter sate Empedocles;
    Thou too wast with him. Straightway I sped home;
    I saddled my white mule, and all night long
    Through the cool lovely country followed you,
    Passed you a little since as morning dawned,
    And have this hour sate by the torrent here,
    Till the slow mules should climb in sight again.
    And now?

    PAUSANIAS.

             And now, back to the town with speed!
    Crouch in the wood first, till the mules have passed;
    They do but halt, they will be here anon.
    Thou must be viewless to Empedocles;
    Save mine, he must not meet a human eye.
    One of his moods is on him that thou know’st;
    I think, thou wouldst not vex him.

    CALLICLES.

                                       No; and yet
    I would fain stay, and help thee tend him. Once
    He knew me well, and would oft notice me;
    And still, I know not how, he draws me to him,
    And I could watch him with his proud sad face,
    His flowing locks and gold-encircled brow
    And kingly gait, forever; such a spell
    In his severe looks, such a majesty
    As drew of old the people after him,
    In Agrigentum and Olympia,
    When his star reigned, before his banishment,
    Is potent still on me in his decline.
    But, O Pausanias, he is changed of late:
    There is a settled trouble in his air
    Admits no momentary brightening now;
    And when he comes among his friends at feasts,
    ’Tis as an orphan among prosperous boys.
    Thou know’st of old he loved this harp of mine,
    When first he sojourned with Peisianax;
    He is now always moody, and I fear him;
    But I would serve him, soothe him, if I could,
    Dared one but try.

    PAUSANIAS.

                      Thou wast a kind child ever.
    He loves thee, but he must not see thee now.
    Thou hast indeed a rare touch on thy harp;
    He loves that in thee, too; there was a time
    (But that is past), he would have paid thy strain
    With music to have drawn the stars from heaven.
    He has his harp and laurel with him still;
    But he has laid the use of music by,
    And all which might relax his settled gloom.
    Yet thou may’st try thy playing, if thou wilt,
    But thou must keep unseen: follow us on,
    But at a distance! in these solitudes,
    In this clear mountain air, a voice will rise,
    Though from afar, distinctly; it may soothe him.
    Play when we halt; and when the evening comes,
    And I must leave him (for his pleasure is
    To be left musing these soft nights alone
    In the high unfrequented mountain spots),
    Then watch him, for he ranges swift and far,
    Sometimes to Etna’s top, and to the cone;
    But hide thee in the rocks a great way down,
    And try thy noblest strains, my Callicles,
    With the sweet night to help thy harmony!
    Thou wilt earn my thanks sure, and perhaps his.

    CALLICLES.

    More than a day and night, Pausanias,
    Of this fair summer-weather, on these hills,
    Would I bestow to help Empedocles.
    That needs no thanks: one is far better here
    Than in the broiling city in these heats.
    But tell me, how hast thou persuaded him
    In this his present fierce, man-hating mood,
    To bring thee out with him alone on Etna?

    PAUSANIAS.

    Thou hast heard all men speaking of Pantheia,
    The woman who at Agrigentum lay
    Thirty long days in a cold trance of death,
    And whom Empedocles called back to life.
    Thou art too young to note it, but his power
    Swells with the swelling evil of this time,
    And holds men mute to see where it will rise.
    He could stay swift diseases in old days,
    Chain madmen by the music of his lyre,
    Cleanse to sweet airs the breath of poisonous streams,
    And in the mountain chinks inter the winds.
    This he could do of old; but now, since all
    Clouds and grows daily worse in Sicily,
    Since broils tear us in twain, since this new swarm
    Of sophists has got empire in our schools
    Where he was paramount, since he is banished,
    And lives a lonely man in triple gloom,--
    He grasps the very reins of life and death.
    I asked him of Pantheia yesterday,
    When we were gathered with Peisianax;
    And he made answer, I should come at night
    On Etna here, and be alone with him,
    And he would tell me, as his old, tried friend,
    Who still was faithful, what might profit me,--
    That is, the secret of this miracle.

    CALLICLES.

    Bah! Thou a doctor! Thou art superstitious.
    Simple Pausanias, ’twas no miracle!
    Pantheia, for I know her kinsmen well,
    Was subject to these trances from a girl.
    Empedocles would say so, did he deign;
    But he still lets the people, whom he scorns,
    Gape and cry _wizard_ at him, if they list.
    But thou, thou art no company for him:
    Thou art as cross, as soured as himself.
    Thou hast some wrong from thine own citizens,
    And then thy friend is banished; and on that,
    Straightway thou fallest to arraign the times,
    As if the sky was impious not to fall.
    The sophists are no enemies of his;
    I hear, Gorgias, their chief, speaks nobly of him,
    As of his gifted master, and once friend.
    He is too scornful, too high-wrought, too bitter.
    ’Tis not the times, ’tis not the sophists, vex him:
    There is some root of suffering in himself,
    Some secret and unfollowed vein of woe,
    Which makes the time look black and sad to him.
    Pester him not, in this his sombre mood,
    With questionings about an idle tale,
    But lead him through the lovely mountain paths,
    And keep his mind from preying on itself,
    And talk to him of things at hand and common,
    Not miracles! thou art a learned man,
    But credulous of fables as a girl.

    PAUSANIAS.

    And thou, a boy whose tongue outruns his knowledge,
    And on whose lightness blame is thrown away.
    Enough of this! I see the litter wind
    Up by the torrent-side, under the pines.
    I must rejoin Empedocles. Do thou
    Crouch in the brushwood till the mules have passed;
    Then play thy kind part well. Farewell till night!


SCENE II.--_Noon. A Glen on the highest skirts of the woody region of
Etna._

    EMPEDOCLES. PAUSANIAS.

    PAUSANIAS.

    The noon is hot. When we have crossed the stream,
    We shall have left the woody tract, and come
    Upon the open shoulder of the hill.
    See how the giant spires of yellow bloom
    Of the sun-loving gentian, in the heat,[15]
    Are shining on those naked slopes like flame!
    Let us rest here; and now, Empedocles,
    Pantheia’s history!

[_A harp-note below is heard._

    EMPEDOCLES.

                       Hark! what sound was that
    Rose from below? If it were possible,
    And we were not so far from human haunt,
    I should have said that some one touched a harp.
    Hark! there again!

    PAUSANIAS.

                      ’Tis the boy Callicles,
    The sweetest harp-player in Catana.
    He is forever coming on these hills,
    In summer, to all country-festivals,
    With a gay revelling band; he breaks from them
    Sometimes, and wanders far among the glens.
    But heed him not, he will not mount to us;
    I spoke with him this morning. Once more, therefore,
    Instruct me of Pantheia’s story, master,
    As I have prayed thee.

    EMPEDOCLES.

                           That? and to what end?

    PAUSANIAS.

    It is enough that all men speak of it.
    But I will also say, that when the gods
    Visit us as they do with sign and plague,
    To know those spells of thine which stay their hand
    Were to live free from terror.

    EMPEDOCLES.

                                   Spells? Mistrust them!
    Mind is the spell which governs earth and heaven;
    Man has a mind with which to plan his safety,--
    Know that, and help thyself!

    PAUSANIAS.

                                  But thine own words?
    “The wit and counsel of man was never clear;
    Troubles confound the little wit he has.”
    Mind is a light which the gods mock us with,
    To lead those false who trust it.

    [_The harp sounds again._

    EMPEDOCLES.

                                      Hist! once more!
    Listen, Pausanias!--Ay, ’tis Callicles;
    I know those notes among a thousand. Hark!

    CALLICLES (_sings unseen, from below_).

    The track winds down to the clear stream,
    To cross the sparkling shallows; there
    The cattle love to gather, on their way
    To the high mountain pastures, and to stay,
    Till the rough cow-herds drive them past,
    Knee-deep in the cool ford; for ’tis the last
    Of all the woody, high, well-watered dells
    On Etna; and the beam
    Of noon is broken there by chestnut-boughs
    Down its steep verdant sides; the air
    Is freshened by the leaping stream, which throws
    Eternal showers of spray on the mossed roots
    Of trees, and veins of turf, and long dark shoots
    Of ivy-plants, and fragrant hanging bells
    Of hyacinths, and on late anemones,
    That muffle its wet banks; but glade,
    And stream, and sward, and chestnut-trees,
    End here; Etna beyond, in the broad glare
    Of the hot noon, without a shade,
    Slope behind slope, up to the peak, lies bare,--
    The peak, round which the white clouds play.

        In such a glen, on such a day,
        On Pelion, on the grassy ground
        Chiron, the aged Centaur, lay,
        The young Achilles standing by.
        The Centaur taught him to explore
        The mountains; where the glens are dry,
        And the tired Centaurs come to rest,
        And where the soaking springs abound,
        And the straight ashes grow for spears,
        And where the hill-goats come to feed,
        And the sea-eagles build their nest.
        He showed him Phthia far away,
        And said, “O boy, I taught this lore
        To Peleus, in long-distant years!”
        He told him of the gods, the stars,
        The tides; and then of mortal wars,
        And of the life which heroes lead
        Before they reach the Elysian place,
        And rest in the immortal mead;
        And all the wisdom of his race.


_The music below ceases, and EMPEDOCLES speaks, accompanying
himself in a solemn manner on his harp._

        The out-spread world to span,
        A cord the gods first slung,
        And then the soul of man
        There, like a mirror, hung,
    And bade the winds through space impel the gusty toy.

        Hither and thither spins
        The wind-borne, mirroring soul;
        A thousand glimpses wins,
        And never sees a whole;
    Looks once, and drives elsewhere, and leaves its last employ.

        The gods laugh in their sleeve
        To watch man doubt and fear,
        Who knows not what to believe
        Since he sees nothing clear,
    And dares stamp nothing false where he finds nothing sure.

        Is this, Pausanias, so?
        And can our souls not strive,
        But with the winds must go,
        And hurry where they drive?
    Is Fate indeed so strong, man’s strength indeed so poor?

        I will not judge. That man,
        Howbeit, I judge as lost,
        Whose mind allows a plan,
        Which would degrade it most;
    And he treats doubt the best who tries to see least ill.

        Be not, then, fear’s blind slave!
        Thou art my friend; to thee,
        All knowledge that I have,
        All skill I wield, are free.
    Ask not the latest news of the last miracle,--

        Ask not what days and nights
        In trance Pantheia lay,
        But ask how thou such sights
        May’st see without dismay;
    Ask what most helps when known, thou son of Anchitus!

        What! hate, and awe, and shame
        Fill thee to see our time;
        Thou feelest thy soul’s frame
        Shaken and out of chime?
    What! life and chance go hard with thee too, as with us;

        Thy citizens, ’tis said,
        Envy thee and oppress,
        Thy goodness no men aid,
        All strive to make it less;
    Tyranny, pride, and lust fill Sicily’s abodes;

        Heaven is with earth at strife;
        Signs make thy soul afraid,--
        The dead return to life,
        Rivers are dried, winds stayed;
    Scarce can one think in calm, so threatening are the gods;
        And we feel, day and night,
        The burden of ourselves:
        Well, then, the wiser wight
        In his own bosom delves,
    And asks what ails him so, and gets what cure he can.

        The sophist sneers, “Fool, take
        Thy pleasure, right or wrong.”
        The pious wail, “Forsake
        A world these sophists throng.”
    Be neither saint-nor sophist-led, but be a man!

        These hundred doctors try
        To preach thee to their school.
        “We have the truth!” they cry;
        And yet their oracle,
    Trumpet it as they will, is but the same as thine.

        Once read thy own breast right,
        And thou hast done with fears;
        Man gets no other light,
        Search he a thousand years.
    Sink in thyself! there ask what ails thee, at that shrine.

        What makes thee struggle and rave?
        Why are men ill at ease?
        ’Tis that the lot they have
        Fails their own will to please;
    For man would make no murmuring, were his will obeyed.

        And why is it, that still
        Man with his lot thus fights?
        ’Tis that he makes this _will_
        The measure of his _rights_,
    And believes nature outraged if his will’s gainsaid.

        Couldst thou, Pausanias, learn
        How deep a fault is this;
        Couldst thou but once discern
        Thou hast no _right_ to bliss,
    No title from the gods to welfare and repose,--

        Then thou wouldst look less mazed
        Whene’er of bliss debarred,
        Nor think the gods were crazed
        When thy own lot went hard.
    But we are all the same,--the fools of our own woes!

        For, from the first faint morn
        Of life, the thirst for bliss
        Deep in man’s heart is born;
        And, sceptic as he is,
    He fails not to judge clear if this be quenched or no.

        Nor is that thirst to blame.
        Man errs not that he deems
        His welfare his true aim:
        He errs because he dreams
    The world does but exist that welfare to bestow.

        We mortals are no kings
        For each of whom to sway
        A new-made world upsprings,
        Meant merely for his play:
    No, we are strangers here; the world is from of old.

        In vain our pent wills fret,
        And would the world subdue.
        Limits we did not set
        Condition all we do;
    Born into life we are, and life must be our mould.

        Born into life! man grows
        Forth from his parents’ stem,
        And blends their bloods, as those
        Of theirs are blent in them;
    So each new man strikes root into a far fore-time.

        Born into life! we bring
        A bias with us here,
        And, when here, each new thing
        Affects us we come near;
    To tunes we did not call, our being must keep chime.

        Born into life! in vain,
        Opinions, those or these,
        Unaltered to retain,
        The obstinate mind decrees:
    Experience, like a sea, soaks all-effacing in.

        Born into life! who lists
        May what is false hold dear,
        And for himself make mists
        Through which to see less clear:
    The world is what it is, for all our dust and din.

        Born into life! ’tis we,
        And not the world, are new;
        Our cry for bliss, our plea,
        Others have urged it too:
    Our wants have all been felt, our errors made before.

        No eye could be too sound
        To observe a world so vast,
        No patience too profound
        To sort what’s here amassed;
    How man may here best live, no care too great to explore.

        But we,--as some rude guest
        Would change, where’er he roam,
        The manners there professed
        To those he brings from home,--
    We mark not the world’s course, but would have _it_ take _ours_.

        The world’s course proves the terms
        On which man wins content;
        Reason the proof confirms:
        We spurn it, and invent
    A false course for the world, and for ourselves false powers.

        Riches we wish to get,
        Yet remain spendthrifts still;
        We would have health, and yet
        Still use our bodies ill;
    Bafflers of our own prayers, from youth to life’s last scenes.

        We would have inward peace,
        Yet will not look within;
        We would have misery cease,
        Yet will not cease from sin;
    We want all pleasant ends, but will use no harsh means;

        We do not what we ought;
        What we ought not, we do;
        And lean upon the thought
        That chance will bring us through:
    But our own acts, for good or ill, are mightier powers.

        Yet even when man forsakes
        All sin,--is just, is pure,
        Abandons all which makes
        His welfare insecure,--
    Other existences there are, that clash with ours.

        Like us, the lightning-fires
        Love to have scope and play;
        The stream, like us, desires
        An unimpeded way;
    Like us, the Libyan wind delights to roam at large.

        Streams will not curb their pride
        The just man not to entomb,
        Nor lightnings go aside
        To give his virtues room;
    Nor is that wind less rough which blows a good man’s barge.

        Nature, with equal mind,
        Sees all her sons at play;
        Sees man control the wind,
        The wind sweep man away;
    Allows the proudly riding and the foundering bark.

        And, lastly, though of ours
        No weakness spoil our lot,
        Though the non-human powers
        Of nature harm us not,
    The ill deeds of other men make often _our_ life dark.

        What were the wise man’s plan?
        Through this sharp, toil-set life,
        To fight as best he can,
        And win what’s won by strife.
    But we an easier way to cheat our pains have found.

        Scratched by a fall, with moans
        As children of weak age
        Lend life to the dumb stones
        Whereon to vent their rage,
    And bend their little fists, and rate the senseless ground;
        So, loath to suffer mute,
        We, peopling the void air,
        Make gods to whom to impute
        The ills we ought to bear;
    With God and fate to rail at, suffering easily.

        Yet grant,--as sense long missed
        Things that are now perceived,
        And much may still exist
        Which is not yet believed,--
    Grant that the world were full of gods we cannot see;

        All things the world which fill
        Of but one stuff are spun,
        That we who rail are still,
        With what we rail at, one;
    One with the o’er-labored Power that through the breadth and length

        Of earth, and air, and sea,
        In men, and plants, and stones,
        Hath toil perpetually,
        And travails, pants, and moans;
    Fain would do all things well, but sometimes fails in strength.

        And patiently exact
        This universal God
        Alike to any act
        Proceeds at any nod,
    And quietly declaims the cursings of himself.

        This is not what man hates,
        Yet he can curse but this.
        Harsh gods and hostile fates
        Are dreams! this only _is_,--
    Is everywhere; sustains the wise, the foolish elf.

        Nor only, in the intent
        To attach blame elsewhere,
        Do we at will invent
        Stern powers who make their care
    To imbitter human life, malignant deities;

        But, next, we would reverse
        The scheme ourselves have spun,
        And what we made to curse
        We now would lean upon,
    And feign kind gods who perfect what man vainly tries.

        Look, the world tempts our eye,
        And we would know it all!
        We map the starry sky,
        We mine this earthen ball,
    We measure the sea-tides, we number the sea-sands;

        We scrutinize the dates
        Of long-past human things,
        The bounds of effaced states,
        The lines of deceased kings;
    We search out dead men’s words, and works of dead men’s hands;

        We shut our eyes, and muse
        How our own minds are made,
        What springs of thought they use,
        How rightened, how betrayed,--
    And spend our wit to name what most employ unnamed.

        But still, as we proceed,
        The mass swells more and more
        Of volumes yet to read,
        Of secrets yet to explore.
    Our hair grows gray, our eyes are dimmed, our heat is tamed;
        We rest our faculties,
        And thus address the gods:
        “True science if there is,
        It stays in your abodes!
    Man’s measures cannot mete the immeasurable all.

        “You only can take in
        The world’s immense design;
        Our desperate search was sin,
        Which henceforth we resign,
    Sure only that your mind sees all things which befall.”

        Fools! That in man’s brief term
        He cannot all things view,
        Affords no ground to affirm
        That there are gods who do;
    Nor does being weary prove that he has where to rest.

        Again: Our youthful blood
        Claims rapture as its right;
        The world, a rolling flood
        Of newness and delight,
    Draws in the enamoured gazer to its shining breast;

        Pleasure, to our hot grasp,
        Gives flowers after flowers;
        With passionate warmth we clasp
        Hand after hand in ours;
    Now do we soon perceive how fast our youth is spent.

        At once our eyes grow clear!
        We see, in blank dismay,
        Year posting after year,
        Sense after sense decay;
    Our shivering heart is mined by secret discontent.

        Yet still, in spite of truth,
        In spite of hopes entombed,
        That longing of our youth
        Burns ever unconsumed,
    Still hungrier for delight as delights grow more rare.

        We pause; we hush our heart,
        And thus address the gods:--
        “The world hath failed to impart
        The joy our youth forebodes,
    Failed to fill up the void which in our breasts we bear.

        “Changeful till now, we still
        Looked on to something new;
        Let us, with changeless will,
        Henceforth look on to you,
    To find with you the joy we in vain here require!”

        Fools! That so often here
        Happiness mocked our prayer,
        I think, might make us fear
        A like event elsewhere;
    Make us not fly to dreams, but moderate desire.

        And yet, for those who know
        Themselves, who wisely take
        Their way through life, and bow
        To what they cannot break,
    Why should I say that life need yield but _moderate_ bliss?

        Shall we, with temper spoiled,
        Health sapped by living ill,
        And judgment all embroiled
        By sadness and self-will,--
    Shall we judge what for man is not true bliss or is?

        Is it so small a thing
        To have enjoyed the sun,
        To have lived light in the spring,
        To have loved, to have thought, to have done
    To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes,--

        That we must feign a bliss
        Of doubtful future date,
        And, while we dream on this,
        Lose all our present state,
    And relegate to worlds yet distant our repose?

        Not much, I know, you prize
        What pleasures may be had,
        Who look on life with eyes
        Estranged, like mine, and sad;
    And yet the village-churl feels the truth more than you;

        Who’s loath to leave this life
        Which to him little yields,--
        His hard-tasked sunburnt wife,
        His often-labored fields,
    The boors with whom he talked, the country-spots he knew.

        But thou, because thou hear’st
        Men scoff at heaven and fate,
        Because the gods thou fear’st
        Fail to make blest thy state,
    Tremblest, and wilt not dare to trust the joys there are!

        I say: Fear not! Life still
        Leaves human effort scope.
        But, since life teems with ill,
        Nurse no extravagant hope;
    Because thou must not dream, thou need’st not then despair!

     _A long pause._ _At the end of it the notes of a harp below are
     again heard, and_ CALLICLES _sings_:--

    Far, far from here,
    The Adriatic breaks in a warm bay
    Among the green Illyrian hills; and there
    The sunshine in the happy glens is fair,
    And by the sea, and in the brakes.
    The grass is cool, the sea-side air
    Buoyant and fresh, the mountain flowers
    More virginal and sweet than ours.
    And there, they say, two bright and aged snakes,
    Who once were Cadmus and Harmonia,
    Bask in the glens or on the warm seashore,
    In breathless quiet, after all their ills;
    Nor do they see their country, nor the place
    Where the Sphinx lived among the frowning hills,
    Nor the unhappy palace of their race,
    Nor Thebes, nor the Ismenus, any more.

    There those two live, far in the Illyrian brakes!
    They had stayed long enough to see,
    In Thebes, the billow of calamity
    Over their own dear children rolled,
    Curse upon curse, pang upon pang,
    For years, they sitting helpless in their home,
    A gray old man and woman; yet of old
    The gods had to their marriage come,
    And at the banquet all the Muses sang.

    Therefore they did not end their days
    In sight of blood; but were rapt, far away,
    To where the west-wind plays,
    And murmurs of the Adriatic come
    To those untrodden mountain lawns; and there
    Placed safely in changed forms, the pair
    Wholly forget their first sad life, and home,
    And all that Theban woe, and stray
    Forever through the glens, placid and dumb.

    EMPEDOCLES.

    That was my harp-player again! Where is he?
    Down by the stream?

    PAUSANIAS.

                       Yes, master, in the wood.

    EMPEDOCLES.

    He ever loved the Theban story well!
    But the day wears. Go now, Pausanias,
    For I must be alone. Leave me one mule;
    Take down with thee the rest to Catana.
    And for young Callicles, thank him from me;
    Tell him, I never failed to love his lyre;
    But he must follow me no more to-night.

    PAUSANIAS.

    Thou wilt return to-morrow to the city?

    EMPEDOCLES.

    Either to-morrow or some other day,
    In the sure revolutions of the world,
    Good friend, I shall revisit Catana.
    I have seen many cities in my time,
    Till mine eyes ache with the long spectacle,
    And I shall doubtless see them all again;
    Thou know’st me for a wanderer from of old.
    Meanwhile, stay me not now. Farewell, Pausanias!

_He departs on his way up the mountain._

    PAUSANIAS (_alone_).

    I dare not urge him further--he must go;
    But he is strangely wrought! I will speed back,
    And bring Peisianax to him from the city;
    His counsel could once soothe him. But, Apollo!
    How his brow lightened as the music rose!
    Callicles must wait here, and play to him;
    I saw him through the chestnuts far below,
    Just since, down at the stream.--Ho! Callicles!

    _He descends, calling._



ACT II.

_Evening._ _The Summit of Etna._


    EMPEDOCLES.

                                                    Alone!
    On this charred, blackened, melancholy waste,
    Crowned by the awful peak, Etna’s great mouth,
    Round which the sullen vapor rolls,--alone!
    Pausanias is far hence, and that is well,
    For I must henceforth speak no more with man.
    He has his lesson too, and that debt’s paid;
    And the good, learned, friendly, quiet man,
    May bravelier front his life, and in himself
    Find henceforth energy and heart. But I,--
    The weary man, the banished citizen,
    Whose banishment is not his greatest ill,
    Whose weariness no energy can reach,
    And for whose hurt courage is not the cure,--
    What should I do with life and living more?

      No, thou art come too late, Empedocles!
    And the world hath the day, and must break thee,
    Not thou the world. With men thou canst not live:
    Their thoughts, their ways, their wishes, are not thine.
    And being lonely thou art miserable;
    For something has impaired thy spirit’s strength,
    And dried its self-sufficing fount of joy.
    Thou canst not live with men nor with thyself,
    O sage! O sage! Take, then, the one way left;
    And turn thee to the elements, thy friends,
    Thy well-tried friends, thy willing ministers,
    And say: Ye servants, hear Empedocles,
    Who asks this final service at your hands!
    Before the sophist-brood hath overlaid
    The last spark of man’s consciousness with words;
    Ere quite the being of man, ere quite the world,
    Be disarrayed of their divinity;
    Before the soul lose all her solemn joys,
    And awe be dead, and hope impossible,
    And the soul’s deep eternal night come on,--
    Receive me, hide me, quench me, take me home!


_He advances to the edge of the crater. Smoke and fire
break forth with a loud noise, and CALLICLES is
heard below singing_:--

    The lyre’s voice is lovely everywhere;
    In the court of gods, in the city of men,
    And in the lonely rock-strewn mountain-glen,
    In the still mountain air.

    Only to Typho it sounds hatefully,--
    To Typho only, the rebel o’erthrown,
    Through whose heart Etna drives her roots of stone,
    To embed them in the sea.
    Wherefore dost thou groan so loud?
    Wherefore do thy nostrils flash,
    Through the dark night, suddenly,
    Typho, such red jets of flame?
    Is thy tortured heart still proud?
    Is thy fire-scathed arm still rash?
    Still alert thy stone-crushed frame?
    Doth thy fierce soul still deplore
    Thine ancient rout by the Cilician hills,
    And that curst treachery on the Mount of Gore?
    Do thy bloodshot eyes still weep
    The fight which crowned thine ills,
    Thy last mischance on this Sicilian deep?
    Hast thou sworn, in thy sad lair,
    Where erst the strong sea-currents sucked thee down,
    Never to cease to writhe, and try to rest,
    Letting the sea-stream wander through thy hair?
    That thy groans, like thunder prest,
    Begin to roll, and almost drown
    The sweet notes whose lulling spell
    Gods and the race of mortals love so well,
    When through thy caves thou hearest music swell?

    But an awful pleasure bland
    Spreading o’er the Thunderer’s face,
    When the sound climbs near his seat,
    The Olympian council sees;
    As he lets his lax right hand,
    Which the lightnings doth embrace,
    Sink upon his mighty knees.
    And the eagle, at the beck
    Of the appeasing, gracious harmony,
    Droops all his sheeny, brown, deep-feathered neck,
    Nestling nearer to Jove’s feet;
    While o’er his sovran eye
    The curtains of the blue films slowly meet.
    And the white Olympus-peaks
    Rosily brighten, and the soothed gods smile
    At one another from their golden chairs,
    And no one round the charmed circle speaks.
    Only the loved Hebe bears
    The cup about, whose draughts beguile
    Pain and care, with a dark store
    Of fresh-pulled violets wreathed and nodding o’er;
    And her flushed feet glow on the marble floor.

    EMPEDOCLES.

    He fables, yet speaks truth!
    The brave impetuous heart yields everywhere
    To the subtle, contriving head;
    Great qualities are trodden down,
    And littleness united
    Is become invincible.

    These rumblings are not Typho’s groans, I know!
    These angry smoke-bursts
    Are not the passionate breath
    Of the mountain-crushed, tortured, intractable Titan king;
    But over all the world
    What suffering is there not seen
    Of plainness oppressed by cunning,
    As the well-counselled Zeus oppressed
    That self-helping son of earth!
    What anguish of greatness,
    Railed and hunted from the world,
    Because its simplicity rebukes
    This envious, miserable age!

    I am weary of it.
   --Lie there, ye ensigns
    Of my unloved pre-eminence
    In an age like this!
    Among a people of children,
    Who thronged me in their cities,
    Who worshipped me in their houses,
    And asked, not wisdom,
    But drugs to charm with,
    But spells to mutter
    All the fool’s-armory of magic! Lie there,
    My golden circlet,
    My purple robe!

    CALLICLES (_from below_).

    As the sky-brightening south-wind clears the day,
    And makes the massed clouds roll,
    The music of the lyre blows away
    The clouds which wrap the soul.

    Oh that fate had let me see
    That triumph of the sweet persuasive lyre,
    That famous, final victory
    When jealous Pan with Marsyas did conspire!

    When, from far Parnassus’ side,
    Young Apollo, all the pride
    Of the Phrygian flutes to tame,
    To the Phrygian highlands came;
    Where the long green reed-beds sway
    In the rippled waters gray
    Of that solitary lake
    Where Mæander’s springs are born;
    Where the ridged pine-wooded roots
    Of Messogis westward break,
    Mounting westward, high and higher.
    There was held the famous strife;
    There the Phrygian brought his flutes,
    And Apollo brought his lyre;
    And, when now the westering sun
    Touched the hills, the strife was done,
    And the attentive muses said,--
    “Marsyas, thou art vanquishèd!”
    Then Apollo’s minister
    Hanged upon a branching fir
    Marsyas, that unhappy Faun,
    And began to whet his knife.
    But the Mænads, who were there,
    Left their friend, and with robes flowing
    In the wind, and loose dark hair
    O’er their polished bosoms blowing,
    Each her ribboned tambourine
    Flinging on the mountain-sod,
    With a lovely frightened mien
    Came about the youthful god.
    But he turned his beauteous face
    Haughtily another way,
    From the grassy sun-warmed place
    Where in proud repose he lay,
    With one arm over his head,
    Watching how the whetting sped.

    But aloof, on the lake-strand,
    Did the young Olympus stand,
    Weeping at his master’s end;
    For the Faun had been his friend.
    For he taught him how to sing,
    And he taught him flute-playing.
    Many a morning had they gone
    To the glimmering mountain lakes,
    And had torn up by the roots
    The tall crested water-reeds
    With long plumes and soft brown seeds,
    And had carved them into flutes,
    Sitting on a tabled stone
    Where the shoreward ripple breaks.
    And he taught him how to please
    The red-snooded Phrygian girls,
    Whom the summer evening sees
    Flashing in the dance’s whirls
    Underneath the starlit trees
    In the mountain villages.
    Therefore now Olympus stands,
    At his master’s piteous cries
    Pressing fast with both his hands
    His white garment to his eyes,
    Not to see Apollo’s scorn.--
    Ah, poor Faun, poor Faun! ah, poor Faun!

    EMPEDOCLES.

    And lie thou there,
    My laurel bough!
    Scornful Apollo’s ensign, lie thou there!
    Though thou hast been my shade in the world’s heat,
    Though I have loved thee, lived in honoring thee,
    Yet lie thou there,
    My laurel bough!

    I am weary of thee.
    I am weary of the solitude
    Where he who bears thee must abide,--
    Of the rocks of Parnassus,
    Of the gorge of Delphi,
    Of the moonlight peaks, and the caves.
    Thou guardest them, Apollo!
    Over the grave of the slain Pytho,
    Though young, intolerably severe!
    Thou keepest aloof the profane,
    But the solitude oppresses thy votary.
    The jars of men reach him not in thy valley,
    But can life reach him?
    Thou fencest him from the multitude:
    Who will fence him from himself?
    He hears nothing but the cry of the torrents,
    And the beating of his own heart;
    The air is thin, the veins swell,
    The temples tighten and throb there--
    Air! air!

    Take thy bough, set me free from my solitude;
    I have been enough alone!

    Where shall thy votary fly, then? back to men?
    But they will gladly welcome him once more,
    And help him to unbend his too tense thought,
    And rid him of the presence of himself,
    And keep their friendly chatter at his ear,
    And haunt him, till the absence from himself,
    That other torment, grow unbearable;
    And he will fly to solitude again,
    And he will find its air too keen for him,
    And so change back; and many thousand times
    Be miserably bandied to and fro
    Like a sea-wave, betwixt the world and thee,
    Thou young, implacable god! and only death
    Shall cut his oscillations short, and so
    Bring him to poise. There is no other way.

    And yet what days were those, Parmenides!
    When we were young, when we could number friends
    In all the Italian cities like ourselves;
    When with elated hearts we joined your train,
    Ye Sun-born Virgins! on the road of truth.[16]
    Then we could still enjoy, then neither thought
    Nor outward things were closed and dead to us;
    But we received the shock of mighty thoughts
    On simple minds with a pure natural joy;
    And if the sacred load oppressed our brain,
    We had the power to feel the pressure eased,
    The brow unbound, the thoughts flow free again,
    In the delightful commerce of the world.
    We had not lost our balance then, nor grown
    Thought’s slaves, and dead to every natural joy.
    The smallest thing could give us pleasure then,--
    The sports of the country-people,
    A flute-note from the woods,
    Sunset over the sea;
    Seed-time and harvest,
    The reapers in the corn,
    The vinedresser in his vineyard,
    The village-girl at her wheel.

    Fulness of life and power of feeling, ye
    Are for the happy, for the souls at ease,
    Who dwell on a firm basis of content!
    But he who has outlived his prosperous days;
    But he whose youth fell on a different world
    From that on which his exiled age is thrown,--
    Whose mind was fed on other food, was trained
    By other rules than are in vogue to-day;
    Whose habit of thought is fixed, who will not change,
    But, in a world he loves not, must subsist
    In ceaseless opposition, be the guard
    Of his own breast, fettered to what he guards,
    That the world win no mastery over him;
    Who has no friend, no fellow left, not one;
    Who has no minute’s breathing-space allowed
    To nurse his dwindling faculty of joy,--
    Joy and the outward world must die to him,
    As they are dead to me.


 _A long pause, during which EMPEDOCLES remains motionless,
 plunged in thought. The night deepens.
 He moves forward, and gazes around him, and proceeds_:--

    And yon, ye stars,
    Who slowly begin to marshal,
    As of old, in the fields of heaven,
    Your distant, melancholy lines!
    Have you, too, survived yourselves?
    Are you, too, what I fear to become?
    You too once lived;
    You too moved joyfully,
    Among august companions,
    In an older world, peopled by gods,
    In a mightier order,
    The radiant, rejoicing, intelligent sons of heaven.
    But now ye kindle
    Your lonely, cold-shining lights,
    Unwilling lingerers
    In the heavenly wilderness,
    For a younger, ignoble world;
    And renew, by necessity,
    Night after night your courses,
    In echoing, unneared silence,
    Above a race you know not,
    Uncaring and undelighted,
    Without friend and without home;
    Weary like us, though not
    Weary with our weariness.

    No, no, ye stars! there is no death with you,
    No languor, no decay! languor and death,
    They are with me, not you! ye are alive,--
    Ye, and the pure dark ether where ye ride
    Brilliant above me! And thou, fiery world,
    That sapp’st the vitals of this terrible mount
    Upon whose charred and quaking crust I stand,--
    Thou, too, brimmest with life! the sea of cloud,
    That heaves its white and billowy vapors up
    To moat this isle of ashes from the world,
    Lives; and that other fainter sea, far down,
    O’er whose lit floor a road of moonbeams leads
    To Etna’s Lipareän sister-fires
    And the long dusky line of Italy,--
    That mild and luminous floor of waters lives,
    With held-in joy swelling its heart: I only,
    Whose spring of hope is dried, whose spirit has failed,
    I, who have not, like these, in solitude
    Maintained courage and force, and in myself
    Nursed an immortal vigor,--I alone
    Am dead to life and joy, therefore I read
    In all things my own deadness.

    _A long silence. He continues_:--

    Oh that I could glow like this mountain!
    Oh that my heart bounded with the swell of the sea!
    Oh that my soul were full of light as the stars!
    Oh that it brooded over the world like the air!

    But no, this heart will glow no more; thou art
    A living man no more, Empedocles!
    Nothing but a devouring flame of thought,--
    But a naked, eternally restless mind!

    _After a pause_:--

    To the elements it came from,
    Every thing will return,--
    Our bodies to earth,
    Our blood to water,
    Heat to fire,
    Breath to air:
    They were well born, they will be well entombed.
    But mind?...

    And we might gladly share the fruitful stir
    Down in our mother earth’s miraculous womb;
    Well would it be
    With what rolled of us in the stormy main;
    We might have joy, blent with the all-bathing air,
    Or with the nimble, radiant life of fire.

    But mind, but thought,
    If these have been the master part of us,--
    Where will _they_ find their parent element?
    What will receive _them_, who will call _them_ home?
    But we shall still be in them, and they in us;
    And we shall be the strangers of the world;
    And they will be our lords, as they are now,
    And keep us prisoners of our consciousness,
    And never let us clasp and feel the All
    But through their forms, and modes, and stifling veils.
    And we shall be unsatisfied as now;
    And we shall feel the agony of thirst,
    The ineffable longing for the life of life
    Baffled forever; and still thought and mind
    Will hurry us with them on their homeless march
    Over the unallied unopening earth,
    Over the unrecognizing sea; while air
    Will blow us fiercely back to sea and earth,
    And fire repel us from its living waves.
    And then we shall unwillingly return
    Back to this meadow of calamity,
    This uncongenial place, this human life:
    And in our individual human state
    Go through the sad probation all again,
    To see if we will poise our life at last,
    To see if we will now at last be true
    To our own only true, deep-buried selves,
    Being one with which, we are one with the whole world;
    Or whether we will once more fall away
    Into the bondage of the flesh or mind,
    Some slough of sense, or some fantastic maze
    Forged by the imperious lonely thinking-power.
    And each succeeding age in which we are born
    Will have more peril for us than the last;
    Will goad our senses with a sharper spur,
    Will fret our minds to an intenser play,
    Will make ourselves harder to be discerned.
    And we shall struggle a while, gasp and rebel;
    And we shall fly for refuge to past times,
    Their soul of unworn youth, their breath of greatness;
    And the reality will pluck us back,
    Knead us in its hot hand, and change our nature.
    And we shall feel our powers of effort flag,
    And rally them for one last fight--and fail;
    And we shall sink in the impossible strife,
    And be astray forever.
                           Slave of sense
    I have in no wise been; but slave of thought?
    And who can say: I have been always free,
    Lived ever in the light of my own soul?
    I cannot; I have lived in wrath and gloom,
    Fierce, disputatious, ever at war with man,
    Far from my own soul, far from warmth and light;
    But I have not grown easy in these bonds,
    But I have not denied what bonds these were.
    Yea, I take myself to witness,
    That I have loved no darkness,
    Sophisticated no truth,
    Nursed no dlusion,
    Allowed no fear!

    And therefore, O ye elements! I know know--
    Ye know it too--it hath been granted me
    Not to die wholly, not to be all enslaved.
    I feel it in this hour. The numbing cloud
    Mounts off my soul; I feel it, I breathe free.

    Is it but for a moment?
   --Ah, boil up, ye vapors!
    Leap and roar, thou sea of fire!
    My soul glows to meet you.
    Ere it flag, ere the mists
    Of despondency and gloom
    Rush over it again,
    Receive me, save me!

    [_He plunges into the crater._

    CALLICLES (_from below_).

    Through the black, rushing smoke-bursts,
    Thick breaks the red flame;
    All Etna heaves fiercely
    Her forest-clothed frame.

    Not here, O Apollo!
    Are haunts meet for thee;
    But where Helicon breaks down
    In cliff to the sea,--

    Where the moon-silvered inlets
    Send far their light voice
    Up the still vale of Thisbe,--
    Oh, speed, and rejoice!

    On the sward at the cliff-top
    Lie strewn the white flocks:
    On the cliff-side the pigeons
    Roost deep in the rocks.

    In the moonlight the shepherds,
    Soft lulled by the rills,
    Lie wrapped in their blankets
    Asleep on the hills.

   --What forms are these coming
    So white through the gloom?
    What garments out-glistening
    The gold-flowered broom?

    What sweet-breathing presence
    Out-perfumes the thyme?
    What voices enrapture
    The night’s balmy prime?

    ’Tis Apollo comes leading
    His choir, the Nine.
    The leader is fairest,
    But all are divine.

    They are lost in the hollows!
    They stream up again!
    What seeks on this mountain
    The glorified train?

    They bathe on this mountain,
    In the spring by their road;
    Then on to Olympus,
    Their endless abode.

   --Whose praise do they mention?
    Of what is it told?
    What will be forever,
    What was from of old.

    First hymn they the Father
    Of all things; and then,
    The rest of immortals,
    The action of men.

    The day in his hotness,
    The strife with the palm;
    The night in her silence,
    The stars in their calm.



_BACCHANALIA; OR, THE NEW AGE._


I.

    The evening comes, the fields are still.
    The tinkle of the thirsty rill,
    Unheard all day, ascends again;
    Deserted is the half-mown plain,
    Silent the swaths; the ringing wain,
    The mower’s cry, the dog’s alarms,
    All housed within the sleeping farms.
    The business of the day is done,
    The last-left haymaker is gone.
    And from the thyme upon the height,
    And from the elder-blossom white
    And pale dog-roses in the hedge,
    And from the mint-plant in the sedge,
    In puffs of balm the night-air blows
    The perfume which the day foregoes.
    And on the pure horizon far,
    See, pulsing with the first-born star,
    The liquid sky above the hill!
    The evening comes, the fields are still.

      Loitering and leaping,
    With saunter, with bounds,
    Flickering and circling
    In files and in rounds,
    Gayly their pine-staff green
    Tossing in air,
    Loose o’er their shoulders white
    Showering their hair,
    See! the wild Mænads
    Break from the wood,
    Youth and Iacchus
    Maddening their blood.
    See! through the quiet land
    Rioting they pass,
    Fling the fresh heaps about,
    Trample the grass,
    Tear from the rifled hedge
    Garlands, their prize;
    Fill with their sports the field,
    Fill with their cries.

    Shepherd, what ails thee, then?
    Shepherd, why mute?
    Forth with thy joyous song!
    Forth with thy flute!
    Tempts not the revel blithe?
    Lure not their cries?
    Glow not their shoulders smooth?
    Melt not their eyes?
    Is not, on cheeks like those,
    Lovely the flush?
   --_Ah! so the quiet was!
    So was the hush!_


II.

    The epoch ends, the world is still.
    The age has talked and worked its fill.
    The famous orators have shone,
    The famous poets sung and gone,
    The famous men of war have fought,
    The famous speculators thought,
    The famous players, sculptors, wrought,
    The famous painters filled their wall,
    The famous critics judged it all.
    The combatants are parted now;
    Uphung the spear, unbent the bow,
    The puissant crowned, the weak laid low.
    And in the after-silence sweet,
    Now strifes are hushed, our ears doth meet,
    Ascending pure, the bell-like fame
    Of this or that down-trodden name,
    Delicate spirits, pushed away
    In the hot press of the noonday.
    And o’er the plain, where the dead age
    Did its now-silent warfare wage,--
    O’er that wide plain, now wrapped in gloom,
    Where many a splendor finds its tomb,
    Many spent fames and fallen nights nights--
    The one or two immortal lights
    Rise slowly up into the sky,
    To shine there everlastingly,
    Like stars over the bounding hill.
    The epoch ends, the world is still.

    Thundering and bursting
    In torrents, in waves,
    Carolling and shouting
    Over tombs, amid graves,
    See! on the cumbered plain
    Clearing a stage,
    Scattering the past about,
    Comes the new age.
    Bards make new poems,
    Thinkers new schools,
    Statesmen new systems,
    Critics new rules.
    All things begin again;
    Life is their prize;
    Earth with their deeds they fill,
    Fill with their cries.

    Poet, what ails thee, then?
    Say, why so mute?
    Forth with thy praising voice!
    Forth with thy flute!
    Loiterer! why sittest thou
    Sunk in thy dream?
    Tempts not the bright new age?
    Shines not its stream?
    Look, ah! what genius,
    Art, science, wit!
    Soldiers like Cæsar,
    Statesmen like Pitt!
    Sculptors like Phidias,
    Raphaels in shoals,
    Poets like Shakspeare,--
    Beautiful souls!
    See, on their glowing cheeks
    Heavenly the flush!
   --_Ah! so the silence was!
    So was the hush!_

      The world but feels the present’s spell:
    The poet feels the past as well;
    Whatever men have done, might do,
    Whatever thought, might think it too.



_EPILOGUE TO LESSING’S LAOCOÖN._


    One morn as through Hyde Park we walked,
    My friend and I, by chance we talked
    Of Lessing’s famed Laocoön;
    And after we a while had gone
    In Lessing’s track, and tried to see
    What painting is, what poetry,--
    Diverging to another thought,
    “Ah!” cries my friend, “but who hath taught
    Why music and the other arts
    Oftener perform aright their parts
    Than poetry? why she, than they,
    Fewer fine successes can display?

    “For ’tis so, surely! Even in Greece,
    Where best the poet framed his piece,
    Even in that Phœbus-guarded ground
    Pausanias on his travels found
    Good poems, if he looked, more rare
    (Though many) than good statues were--
    For these, in truth, were everywhere.
    Of bards full many a stroke divine
    In Dante’s, Petrarch’s, Tasso’s line,
    The land of Ariosto showed;
    And yet, e’en there, the canvas glowed
    With triumphs, a yet ampler brood,
    Of Raphael and his brotherhood.
    And nobly perfect, in our day
    Of haste, half-work, and disarray,
    Profound yet touching, sweet yet strong,
    Hath risen Goethe’s, Wordsworth’s song;
    Yet even I (and none will bow
    Deeper to these) must needs allow,
    They yield us not, to soothe our pains,
    Such multitude of heavenly strains
    As from the kings of sound are blown,--
    Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn.”

    While thus my friend discoursed, we pass
    Out of the path, and take the grass.
    The grass had still the green of May,
    And still the unblackened elms were gay;
    The kine were resting in the shade,
    The flies a summer murmur made.
    Bright was the morn, and south the air;
    The soft-couched cattle were as fair
    As those which pastured by the sea,
    That old-world morn, in Sicily,
    When on the beach the Cyclops lay,
    And Galatea from the bay
    Mocked her poor lovelorn giant’s lay.
    “Behold,” I said, “the painter’s sphere!
    The limits of his art appear.
    The passing group, the summer morn,
    The grass, the elms, that blossomed thorn,--
    Those cattle couched, or, as they rise,
    Their shining flanks, their liquid eyes,--
    These, or much greater things, but caught
    Like these, and in one aspect brought!
    In outward semblance he must give
    A moment’s life of things that live;
    Then let him choose his moment well,
    With power divine its story tell.”

    Still we walked on, in thoughtful mood,
    And now upon the bridge we stood.
    Full of sweet breathings was the air,
    Of sudden stirs and pauses fair.
    Down o’er the stately bridge the breeze
    Came rustling from the garden-trees,
    And on the sparkling waters played;
    Light-plashing waves an answer made,
    And mimic boats their haven neared.
    Beyond, the abbey-towers appeared,
    By mist and chimneys unconfined,
    Free to the sweep of light and wind;
    While through their earth-moored nave below,
    Another breath of wind doth blow,
    Sound as of wandering breeze--but sound
    In laws by human artists bound.
    “The world of music!” I exclaimed,--
    “This breeze that rustles by, that famed
    Abbey, recall it! what a sphere,
    Large and profound, hath genius here!
    The inspired musician, what a range,
    What power of passion, wealth of change!
    Some source of feeling he must choose,
    And its locked fount of beauty use,
    And through the stream of music tell
    Its else unutterable spell;
    To choose it rightly is his part,
    And press into its inmost heart.

    “_Miserere, Domine!_
    The words are uttered, and they flee.
    Deep is their penitential moan,
    Mighty their pathos, but ’tis gone.
    They have declared the spirit’s sore,
    Sore load, and words can do no more.
    Beethoven takes them then,--those two
    Poor, bounded words,--and makes them new;
    Infinite makes them, makes them young;
    Transplants them to another tongue,
    Where they can now, without constraint,
    Pour all the soul of their complaint,
    And roll adown a channel large
    The wealth divine they have in charge.
    Page after page of music turn,
    And still they live, and still they burn,
    Eternal, passion-fraught, and free,--
    _Miserere, Domine!_”

    Onward we moved, and reached the ride
    Where gayly flows the human tide.
    Afar, in rest the cattle lay;
    We heard, afar, faint music play;
    But agitated, brisk, and near,
    Men, with their stream of life, were here.
    Some hang upon the rails, and some
    On foot behind them go and come.
    This through the ride upon his steed
    Goes slowly by, and this at speed.
    The young, the happy, and the fair,
    The old, the sad, the worn, were there;
    Some vacant and some musing went,
    And some in talk and merriment.
    Nods, smiles, and greetings, and farewells!
    And now and then, perhaps, there swells
    A sigh, a tear--but in the throng
    All changes fast, and hies along.
    Hies, ah! from whence, what native ground?
    And to what goal, what ending, bound?
    “Behold at last the poet’s sphere!
    But who,” I said, “suffices here?

    “For, ah! so much he has to do,--
    Be painter and musician too!
    The aspect of the moment show,
    The feeling of the moment know!
    The aspect not, I grant, express
    Clear as the painter’s art can dress;
    The feeling not, I grant, explore
    So deep as the musician’s lore:
    But clear as words can make revealing,
    And deep as words can follow feeling.
    But, ah! then comes his sorest spell
    Of toil,--he must life’s _movement_ tell!
    The thread which binds it all in one,
    And not its separate parts alone.
    The _movement_ he must tell of life,
    Its pain and pleasure, rest and strife;
    His eye must travel down, at full,
    The long, unpausing spectacle;
    With faithful, unrelaxing force
    Attend it from its primal source,
    From change to change and year to year
    Attend it of its mid-career,
    Attend it to the last repose
    And solemn silence of its close.

    “The cattle rising from the grass,
    His thought must follow where they pass;
    The penitent with anguish bowed,
    His thought must follow through the crowd.
    Yes! all this eddying, motley throng
    That sparkles in the sun along,--
    Girl, statesman, merchant, soldier bold,
    Master and servant, young and old,
    Grave, gay, child, parent, husband, wife,--
    He follows home, and lives their life.

    “And many, many are the souls
    Life’s movement fascinates, controls.
    It draws them on, they cannot save
    Their feet from its alluring wave;
    They cannot leave it, they must go
    With its unconquerable flow.
    But ah! how few, of all that try
    This mighty march, do aught but die!
    For ill-endowed for such a way,
    Ill-stored in strength, in wits, are they.
    They faint, they stagger to and fro,
    And wandering from the stream they go;
    In pain, in terror, in distress,
    They see, all round, a wilderness.
    Sometimes a momentary gleam
    They catch of the mysterious stream;
    Sometimes, a second’s space, their ear
    The murmur of its waves doth hear;
    That transient glimpse in song they say,
    But not as painter can portray;
    That transient sound in song they tell,
    But not as the musician well.
    And when at last their snatches cease,
    And they are silent and at peace,
    The stream of life’s majestic whole
    Hath ne’er been mirrored on their soul.

    “Only a few the life-stream’s shore
    With safe unwandering feet explore;
    Untired its movement bright attend,
    Follow its windings to the end.
    Then from its brimming waves their eye
    Drinks up delighted ecstasy,
    And its deep-toned, melodious voice
    Forever makes their ear rejoice.
    They speak! the happiness divine
    They feel runs o’er in every line;
    Its spell is round them like a shower;
    It gives them pathos, gives them power.
    No painter yet hath such a way,
    Nor no musician made, as they,
    And gathered on immortal knolls
    Such lovely flowers for cheering souls.
    Beethoven, Raphael, cannot reach
    The charm which Homer, Shakspeare, teach.
    To these, to these, their thankful race
    Gives, then, the first, the fairest place;
    And brightest is their glory’s sheen,
    For greatest hath their labor been.”



_PERSISTENCY OF POETRY._


    Though the Muse be gone away,
    Though she move not earth to-day,
    Souls, erewhile who caught her word,
    Ah! still harp on what they heard.



_A CAUTION TO POETS._


    What poets feel not, when they make,
      A pleasure in creating,
    The world, in _its_ turn, will not take
      Pleasure in contemplating.



_THE YOUTH OF NATURE._


    Raised are the dripping oars,
    Silent the boat! The lake,
    Lovely and soft as a dream,
    Swims in the sheen of the moon.
    The mountains stand at its head
    Clear in the pure June-night,
    But the valleys are flooded with haze.
    Rydal and Fairfield are there;
    In the shadow Wordsworth lies dead.
    So it is, so it will be for aye.
    Nature is fresh as of old,
    Is lovely; a mortal is dead.

    The spots which recall him survive,
    For he lent a new life to these hills.
    The Pillar still broods o’er the fields
    Which border Ennerdale Lake,
    And Egremont sleeps by the sea.
    The gleam of The Evening Star
    Twinkles on Grasmere no more,
    But ruined and solemn and gray
    The sheepfold of Michael survives;
    And far to the south, the heath
    Still blows in the Quantock coombs,
    By the favorite waters of Ruth.
    These survive! Yet not without pain,
    Pain and dejection to-night,
    Can I feel that their poet is gone.

    He grew old in an age he condemned.
    He looked on the rushing decay
    Of the times which had sheltered his youth;
    Felt the dissolving throes
    Of a social order he loved;
    Outlived his brethren, his peers;
    And, like the Theban seer,
    Died in his enemies’ day.

    Cold bubbled the spring of Tilphusa,
    Copais lay bright in the moon,
    Helicon glassed in the lake
    Its firs, and afar rose the peaks
    Of Parnassus, snowily clear;
    Thebes was behind him in flames,
    And the clang of arms in his ear,
    When his awe-struck captors led
    The Theban seer to the spring.
    Tiresias drank and died.
    Nor did reviving Thebes
    See such a prophet again.

    Well may we mourn, when the head
    Of a sacred poet lies low
    In an age which can rear them no more!
    The complaining millions of men
    Darken in labor and pain;
    But he was a priest to us all
    Of the wonder and bloom of the world,
    Which we saw with his eyes, and were glad.
    He is dead, and the fruit-bearing day
    Of his race is past on the earth;
    And darkness returns to our eyes.

    For, oh! is it you, is it you,
    Moonlight, and shadow, and lake,
    And mountains, that fill us with joy,
    Or the poet who sings you so well?
    Is it you, O beauty, O grace,
    O charm, O romance, that we feel,
    Or the voice which reveals what you are?
    Are ye, like daylight and sun,
    Shared and rejoiced in by all?
    Or are ye immersed in the mass
    Of matter, and hard to extract,
    Or sunk at the core of the world
    Too deep for the most to discern?
    Like stars in the deep of the sky,
    Which arise on the glass of the sage,
    But are lost when their watcher is gone.

    “They are here,”--I heard, as men heard
    In Mysian Ida the voice
    Of the mighty Mother, or Crete,
    The murmur of Nature, reply,--
    “Loveliness, magic, grace,
    They are here! they are set in the world,
    They abide; and the finest of souls
    Hath not been thrilled by them all,
    Nor the dullest been dead to them quite.
    The poet who sings them may die,
    But they are immortal and live,
    For they are the life of the world.
    Will ye not learn it, and know,
    When ye mourn that a poet is dead,
    That the singer was less than his themes,
    Life, and emotion, and I?

    “More than the singer are these.
    Weak is the tremor of pain
    That thrills in his mournfullest chord
    To that which once ran through his soul.
    Cold the elation of joy
    In his gladdest, airiest song,
    To that which of old in his youth
    Filled him and made him divine.
    Hardly his voice at its best
    Gives us a sense of the awe,
    The vastness, the grandeur, the gloom,
    Of the unlit gulf of himself.

    “Ye know not yourselves; and your bards--
    The clearest, the best, who have read
    Most in themselves--have beheld
    Less than they left unrevealed.
    Ye express not yourselves: can ye make
    With marble, with color, with word,
    What charmed you in others re-live?
    Can thy pencil, O artist! restore
    The figure, the bloom of thy love,
    As she was in her morning of spring?
    Canst thou paint the ineffable smile
    Of her eyes as they rested on thine?
    Can the image of life have the glow,
    The motion of life itself?

    “Yourselves and your fellows ye know not; and me,
    The mateless, the one, will ye know?
    Will ye scan me, and read me, and tell
    Of the thoughts that ferment in my breast,
    My longing, my sadness, my joy?
    Will ye claim for your great ones the gift
    To have rendered the gleam of my skies,
    To have echoed the moan of my seas,
    Uttered the voice of my hills?
    When your great ones depart, will ye say,--
    _All things have suffered a loss,_
    _Nature is hid in their grave_?

      “Race after race, man after man,
    Have thought that my secret was theirs,
    Have dreamed that I lived but for them,
    That they were my glory and joy.
   --They are dust, they are changed, they are gone!
    I remain.”



_THE YOUTH OF MAN._


    We, O Nature, depart:
    Thou survivest us! This,
    This, I know, is the law.
    Yes! but, more than this,
    Thou who seest us die
    Seest us change while we live;
    Seest our dreams, one by one,
    Seest our errors depart;
    Watchest us, Nature! throughout
    Mild and inscrutably calm.

    Well for us that we change!
    Well for us that the power
    Which in our morning prime
    Saw the mistakes of our youth,
    Sweet, and forgiving, and good,
    Sees the contrition of age!

    Behold, O Nature, this pair!
    See them to-night where they stand,
    Not with the halo of youth
    Crowning their brows with its light,
    Not with the sunshine of hope,
    Not with the rapture of spring,
    Which they had of old, when they stood
    Years ago at my side
    In this self-same garden, and said,--
    “We are young, and the world is ours;
    Man, man is king of the world!
    Fools that these mystics are
    Who prate of Nature! but she
    Hath neither beauty, nor warmth,
    Nor life, nor emotion, nor power.
    But man has a thousand gifts,
    And the generous dreamer invests
    The senseless world with them all.
    Nature is nothing; her charm
    Lives in our eyes which can paint,
    Lives in our hearts which can feel.”

    Thou, O Nature, wast mute,
    Mute as of old! Days flew,
    Days and years; and Time
    With the ceaseless stroke of his wings
    Brushed off the bloom from their soul.
    Clouded and dim grew their eye,
    Languid their heart--for youth
    Quickened its pulses no more.
    Slowly, within the walls
    Of an ever-narrowing world,
    They drooped, they grew blind, they grew old.
    Thee, and their youth in thee,
    Nature! they saw no more.

    Murmur of living,
    Stir of existence,
    Soul of the world!
    Make, oh, make yourselves felt
    To the dying spirit of youth!
    Come, like the breath of the spring!
    Leave not a human soul
    To grow old in darkness and pain!
    Only the living can feel you,
    But leave us not while we live!

    Here they stand to-night,--
    Here, where this gray balustrade
    Crowns the still valley; behind
    In the castled house with its woods
    Which sheltered their childhood; the sun
    On its ivied windows; a scent
    From the gray-walled gardens, a breath
    Of the fragrant stock and the pink,
    Perfumes the evening air.
    Their children play on the lawns.
    They stand and listen; they hear
    The children’s shouts, and at times,
    Faintly, the bark of a dog
    From a distant farm in the hills.
    Nothing besides! in front
    The wide, wide valley outspreads
    To the dim horizon, reposed
    In the twilight, and bathed in dew,
    Cornfield and hamlet and copse
    Darkening fast; but a light,
    Far off, a glory of day,
    Still plays on the city-spires;
    And there in the dusk by the walls,
    With the gray mist marking its course
    Through the silent, flowery land,
    On, to the plains, to the sea,
    Floats the imperial stream.

      Well I know what they feel!
    They gaze, and the evening wind
    Plays on their faces; they gaze,--
    Airs from the Eden of youth
    Awake and stir in their soul;
    The past returns: they feel
    What they are, alas! what they were.
    They, not Nature, are changed.
    Well I know what they feel!

    Hush, for tears
    Begin to steal to their eyes!
    Hush, for fruit
    Grows from such sorrow as theirs!

    And they remember,
    With piercing, untold anguish,
    The proud boasting of their youth.
    And they feel how Nature was fair.
    And the mists of delusion,
    And the scales of habit,
    Fall away from their eyes;
    And they see, for a moment,
    Stretching out like the desert
    In its weary, unprofitable length,
    Their faded, ignoble lives.

    While the locks are yet brown on thy head,
    While the soul still looks through thine eyes,
    While the heart still pours
    The mantling blood to thy cheek,
    Sink, O youth, in thy soul!
    Yearn to the greatness of Nature;
    Rally the good in the depths of thyself!



_PALLADIUM._


    Set where the upper streams of Simois flow,
    Was the Palladium, high ’mid rock and wood;
    And Hector was in Ilium, far below,
    And fought, and saw it not; but there it stood!

    It stood, and sun and moonshine rained their light
    On the pure columns of its glen-built hall.
    Backward and forward rolled the waves of fight
    Round Troy; but while this stood, Troy could not fall.

    So, in its lovely moonlight, lives the soul.
    Mountains surround it, and sweet virgin air;
    Cold plashing, past it, crystal waters roll:
    We visit it by moments, ah, too rare!

    Men will renew the battle in the plain
    To-morrow: red with blood will Xanthus be;
    Hector and Ajax will be there again,
    Helen will come upon the wall to see.

    Then we shall rust in shade, or shine in strife,
    And fluctuate ’twixt blind hopes and blind despairs,
    And fancy that we put forth all our life,
    And never know how with the soul it fares.

    Still doth the soul, from its lone fastness high,
    Upon our life a ruling effluence send;
    And when it fails, fight as we will, we die;
    And, while it lasts, we cannot wholly end.



_PROGRESS._


    The Master stood upon the mount, and taught.
    He saw a fire in his disciples’ eyes;
    “The old law,” they said, “is wholly come to naught:
        Behold the new world rise!”

    “Was it,” the Lord then said, “with scorn ye saw
    The old law observed by scribes and Pharisees?
    I say unto you, see ye keep that law
        More faithfully than these!

    “Too hasty heads for ordering worlds, alas!
    Think not that I to annul the law have willed:
    No jot, no tittle, from the law shall pass
        Till all have been fulfilled.”

    So Christ said eighteen hundred years ago.
    And what, then, shall be said to those to-day,
    Who cry aloud to lay the old world low
        To clear the new world’s way?

    “Religious fervors! ardor misapplied!
    Hence, hence!” they cry, “ye do but keep man blind!
    But keep him self-immersed, pre-occupied,
        And lame the active mind.”

    Ah! from the old world let some one answer give:
    “Scorn ye this world, their tears, their inward cares?
    I say unto you, see that _your_ souls live
        A deeper life than theirs!

    “Say ye, ‘The spirit of man has found new roads,
    And we must leave the old faiths, and walk therein’?
    Leave, then, the cross as ye have left carved gods,
        But guard the fire within!

    “Bright, else, and fast the stream of life may roll,
    And no man may the other’s hurt behold;
    Yet each will have one anguish,--his own soul
        Which perishes of cold.”

    Here let that voice make end; then let a strain
    From a far lonelier distance, like the wind
    Be heard, floating through heaven, and fill again
        These men’s profoundest mind:--

    “Children of men! the unseen Power, whose eye
    Forever doth accompany mankind,
    Hath looked on no religion scornfully
        That men did ever find.

    “Which has not taught weak wills how much they can?
    Which has not fallen on the dry heart like rain?
    Which has not cried to sunk, self-weary man,--
        _Thou must be born again!_

    “Children of men! not that your age excel
    In pride of life the ages of your sires,
    But that _ye_ think clear, feel deep, bear fruit well,
        The Friend of man desires.”



_REVOLUTIONS._


    Before man parted for this earthly strand,
    While yet upon the verge of heaven he stood,
    God put a heap of letters in his hand,
    And bade him make with them what word he could.

    And man has turned them many times; made Greece,
    Rome, England, France; yes, nor in vain essayed
    Way after way, changes that never cease!
    The letters have combined, something was made.

    But ah! an inextinguishable sense
    Haunts him that he has not made what he should;
    That he has still, though old, to recommence,
    Since he has not yet found the word God would.

    And empire after empire, at their height
    Of sway, have felt this boding sense come on;
    Have felt their huge frames not constructed right,
    And drooped, and slowly died upon their throne.

    One day, thou say’st, there will at last appear
    The word, the order, which God meant should be.
   --Ah! we shall know _that_ well when it comes near;
    The band will quit man’s heart, he will breathe free.



_SELF-DEPENDENCE._


    Weary of myself, and sick of asking
    What I am, and what I ought to be,
    At this vessel’s prow I stand, which bears me
    Forwards, forwards, o’er the starlit sea.

    And a look of passionate desire
    O’er the sea and to the stars I send:
    “Ye who from my childhood up have calmed me,
    Calm me, ah, compose me to the end!

    Ah, once more,” I cried, “ye stars, ye waters,
    On my heart your mighty charm renew;
    Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,
    Feel my soul becoming vast like you!”

    From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven,
    Over the lit sea’s unquiet way,
    In the rustling night-air came the answer,--
    “Wouldst thou _be_ as these are? _Live_ as they.

    “Unaffrighted by the silence round them,
    Undistracted by the sights they see,
    These demand not that the things without them
    Yield them love, amusement, sympathy.

    “And with joy the stars perform their shining,
    And the sea its long moon-silvered roll;
    For self-poised they live, nor pine with noting
    All the fever of some differing soul.

    “Bounded by themselves, and unregardful
    In what state God’s other works may be,
    In their own tasks all their powers pouring,
    These attain the mighty life you see.”

    O air-born voice! long since, severely clear,
    A cry like thine in mine own heart I hear,--
    “Resolve to be thyself; and know, that he
    Who finds himself loses his misery!”



_MORALITY._


    We cannot kindle when we will
    The fire which in the heart resides;
    The spirit bloweth and is still,
    In mystery our soul abides.
      But tasks in hours of insight willed
      Can be through hours of gloom fulfilled.

    With aching hands and bleeding feet
    We dig and heap, lay stone on stone;
    We bear the burden and the heat
    Of the long day, and wish ’twere done.
      Not till the hours of light return,
      All we have built do we discern.

    Then, when the clouds are off the soul,
    When thou dost bask in Nature’s eye,
    Ask how _she_ viewed thy self-control,
    Thy struggling, tasked morality,--
      Nature, whose free, light, cheerful air,
      Oft made thee, in thy gloom, despair.

    And she, whose censure thou dost dread,
    Whose eye thou wast afraid to seek,
    See, on her face a glow is spread,
    A strong emotion on her cheek!
      “Ah, child!” she cries, “that strife divine,
      Whence was it, for it is not mine?

    “There is no effort on _my_ brow;
    I do not strive, I do not weep:
    I rush with the swift spheres, and glow
    In joy, and when I will, I sleep.
      Yet that severe, that earnest air,
      I saw, I felt it once--but where?

    “I knew not yet the gauge of time,
    Nor wore the manacles of space;
    I felt it in some other clime,
    I saw it in some other place.
      ’Twas when the heavenly house I trod,
      And lay upon the breast of God.”



_A SUMMER NIGHT._


    In the deserted, moon-blanched street,
    How lonely rings the echo of my feet!
    Those windows, which I gaze at, frown,
    Silent and white, unopening down,
    Repellent as the world; but see,
    A break between the housetops shows
    The moon! and lost behind her, fading dim
    Into the dewy dark obscurity
    Down at the far horizon’s rim,
    Doth a whole tract of heaven disclose!

    And to my mind the thought
    Is on a sudden brought
    Of a past night, and a far different scene.
    Headlands stood out into the moonlit deep
    As clearly as at noon;
    The spring-tide’s brimming flow
    Heaved dazzlingly between;
    Houses, with long white sweep,
    Girdled the glistening bay;
    Behind, through the soft air,
    The blue haze-cradled mountains spread away.
    That night was far more fair--
    But the same restless pacings to and fro,
    And the same vainly throbbing heart was there,
    And the same bright, calm moon.

    And the calm moonlight seems to say,--
    _Hast thou, then, still the old unquiet breast,_
    _Which neither deadens into rest,_
    _Nor ever feels the fiery glow_
    _That whirls the spirit from itself away,_
    _But fluctuates to and fro,_
    _Never by passion quite possessed,_
    _And never quite benumbed by the world’s sway?_
    And I, I know not if to pray
    Still to be what I am, or yield, and be
    Like all the other men I see.

    For most men in a brazen prison live,
    Where, in the sun’s hot eye,
    With heads bent o’er their toil, they languidly
    Their lives to some unmeaning task-work give,
    Dreaming of naught beyond their prison-wall.
    And as, year after year,
    Fresh products of their barren labor fall
    From their tired hands, and rest
    Never yet comes more near,
    Gloom settles slowly down over their breast.
    And while they try to stem
    The waves of mournful thought by which they are prest,
    Death in their prison reaches them,
    Unfreed, having seen nothing, still unblest.

    And the rest, a few,
    Escape their prison, and depart
    On the wide ocean of life anew.
    There the freed prisoner, where’er his heart
    Listeth, will sail;
    Nor doth he know how there prevail,
    Despotic on that sea,
    Trade-winds which cross it from eternity.
    Awhile he holds some false way, undebarred
    By thwarting signs, and braves
    The freshening wind and blackening waves.
    And then the tempest strikes him; and between
    The lightning-bursts is seen
    Only a driving wreck,
    And the pale master on his spar-strewn deck
    With anguished face and flying hair,
    Grasping the rudder hard,
    Still bent to make some port, he knows not where,
    Still standing for some false, impossible shore.
    And sterner comes the roar
    Of sea and wind; and through the deepening gloom
    Fainter and fainter wreck and helmsman loom,
    And he too disappears, and comes no more.

    Is there no life, but these alone?
    Madman or slave, must man be one?

    Plainness and clearness without shadow of stain!
    Clearness divine!
    Ye heavens, whose pure dark regions have no sign
    Of languor, though so calm, and though so great
    Are yet untroubled and unpassionate;
    Who, though so noble, share in the world’s toil,
    And, though so tasked, keep free from dust and soil!
    I will not say that your mild deeps retain
    A tinge, it may be, of their silent pain
    Who have longed deeply once, and longed in vain;
    But I will rather say that you remain
    A world above man’s head, to let him see
    How boundless might his soul’s horizons be,
    How vast, yet of what clear transparency!
    How it were good to live there, and breathe free;
    How fair a lot to fill
    Is left to each man still!



_THE BURIED LIFE._


    Light flows our war of mocking words; and yet,
    Behold, with tears mine eyes are wet!
    I feel a nameless sadness o’er me roll.
    Yes, yes, we know that we can jest,
    We know, we know that we can smile!
    But there’s a something in this breast,
    To which thy light words bring no rest,
    And thy gay smiles no anodyne;
    Give me thy hand, and hush awhile,
    And turn those limpid eyes on mine,
    And let me read there, love! thy inmost soul.

    Alas! is even love too weak
    To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
    Are even lovers powerless to reveal
    To one another what indeed they feel?

    I knew the mass of men concealed
    Their thoughts, for fear that if revealed
    They would by other men be met
    With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
    I knew they lived and moved
    Tricked in disguises, alien to the rest
    Of men, and alien to themselves--and yet
    The same heart beats in every human breast!

    But we, my love! doth a like spell benumb
    Our hearts, our voices? must we too be dumb?

    Ah! well for us, if even we,
    Even for a moment, can get free
    Our heart, and have our lips unchained;
    For that which seals them hath been deep-ordained!

    Fate, which foresaw
    How frivolous a baby man would be,--
    By what distractions he would be possessed,
    How he would pour himself in every strife,
    And well-nigh change his own identity,--
    That it might keep from his capricious play
    His genuine self, and force him to obey
    Even in his own despite his being’s law,
    Bade through the deep recesses of our breast
    The unregarded river of our life
    Pursue with indiscernible flow its way;
    And that we should not see
    The buried stream, and seem to be
    Eddying at large in blind uncertainty,
    Though driving on with it eternally.

    But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,
    But often, in the din of strife,
    There rises an unspeakable desire
    After the knowledge of our buried life;
    A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
    In tracking out our true, original course;
    A longing to inquire
    Into the mystery of this heart which beats
    So wild, so deep in us,--to know
    Whence our lives come, and where they go.
    And many a man in his own breast then delves,
    But deep enough, alas! none ever mines.
    And we have been on many thousand lines,
    And we have shown, on each, spirit and power;
    But hardly have we, for one little hour,
    Been on our own line, have we been ourselves,--
    Hardly had skill to utter one of all
    The nameless feelings that course through our breast,
    But they course on forever unexpressed.
    And long we try in vain to speak and act
    Our hidden self, and what we say and do
    Is eloquent, is well--but ’tis not true!
    And then we will no more be racked
    With inward striving, and demand
    Of all the thousand nothings of the hour
    Their stupefying power;
    Ah, yes, and they benumb us at our call!
    Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,
    From the soul’s subterranean depth upborne
    As from an infinitely distant land,
    Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey
    A melancholy into all our day.

    Only--but this is rare--
    When a beloved hand is laid in ours,
    When, jaded with the rush and glare
    Of the interminable hours,
    Our eyes can in another’s eyes read clear,
    When our world-deafened ear
    Is by the tones of a loved voice caressed,--
    A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,
    And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.
    The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,
    And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.

    A man becomes aware of his life’s flow,
    And hears its winding murmur, and he sees
    The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

    And there arrives a lull in the hot race
    Wherein he doth forever chase
    The flying and elusive shadow, rest.
    An air of coolness plays upon his face,
    And an unwonted calm pervades his breast;
    And then he thinks he knows
    The hills where his life rose,
    And the sea where it goes.



_LINES WRITTEN IN KENSINGTON GARDENS._


    In this lone, open glade I lie,
    Screened by deep boughs on either hand;
    And at its end, to stay the eye,
    Those black-crowned, red-boled pine-trees stand.

    Birds here make song, each bird has his,
    Across the girdling city’s hum.
    How green under the boughs it is!
    How thick the tremulous sheep-cries come!

    Sometimes a child will cross the glade
    To take his nurse his broken toy;
    Sometimes a thrush flit overhead
    Deep in her unknown day’s employ.

    Here at my feet what wonders pass!
    What endless, active life is here!
    What blowing daisies, fragrant grass!
    An air-stirred forest, fresh and clear.

    Scarce fresher is the mountain sod
    Where the tired angler lies, stretched out,
    And, eased of basket and of rod,
    Counts his day’s spoil, the spotted trout.

    In the huge world which roars hard by,
    Be others happy if they can!
    But in my helpless cradle I
    Was breathed on by the rural Pan.

    I, on men’s impious uproar hurled,
    Think often, as I hear them rave,
    That peace has left the upper world,
    And now keeps only in the grave.

    Yet here is peace forever new!
    When I who watch them am away,
    Still all things in this glade go through
    The changes of their quiet day.

    Then to their happy rest they pass;
    The flowers upclose, the birds are fed,
    The night comes down upon the grass,
    The child sleeps warmly in his bed.

    Calm soul of all things! make it mine
    To feel, amid the city’s jar,
    That there abides a peace of thine,
    Man did not make, and cannot mar.

    The will to neither strive nor cry,
    The power to feel with others, give!
    Calm, calm me more! nor let me die
    Before I have begun to live.



_A WISH._


    I ask not that my bed of death
    From bands of greedy heirs be free;
    For these besiege the latest breath
    Of fortune’s favored sons, not me.

    I ask not each kind soul to keep
    Tearless, when of my death he hears.
    Let those who will, if any, weep!
    There are worse plagues on earth than tears.

    I ask but that my death may find
    The freedom to my life denied;
    Ask but the folly of mankind
    Then, then at last, to quit my side.

    Spare me the whispering, crowded room,
    The friends who come, and gape, and go;
    The ceremonious air of gloom,--
    All which makes death a hideous show!

    Nor bring, to see me cease to live,
    Some doctor full of phrase and fame,
    To shake his sapient head, and give
    The ill he cannot cure a name.

    Nor fetch, to take the accustomed toll
    Of the poor sinner bound for death,
    His brother-doctor of the soul,
    To canvass with official breath
    The future and its viewless things,--
    That undiscovered mystery
    Which one who feels death’s winnowing wings
    Must needs read clearer, sure, than he!

    Bring none of these; but let me be,
    While all around in silence lies,
    Moved to the window near, and see
    Once more, before my dying eyes,--

    Bathed in the sacred dews of morn
    The wide aërial landscape spread,--
    The world which was ere I was born,
    The world which lasts when I am dead;

    Which never was the friend of _one_,
    Nor promised love it could not give,
    But lit for all its generous sun,
    And lived itself, and made us live.

    There let me gaze, till I become
    In soul, with what I gaze on, wed!
    To feel the universe my home;
    To have before my mind--instead

    Of the sick-room, the mortal strife,
    The turmoil for a little breath--
    The pure eternal course of life,
    Not human combatings with death!

    Thus feeling, gazing, might I grow
    Composed, refreshed, ennobled, clear;
    Then willing let my spirit go
    To work or wait elsewhere or here!



THE FUTURE.


    A wanderer is man from his birth.
    He was born in a ship
    On the breast of the river of Time;
    Brimming with wonder and joy,
    He spreads out his arms to the light,
    Rivets his gaze on the banks of the stream.

    As what he sees is, so have his thoughts been.
    Whether he wakes
    Where the snowy mountainous pass,
    Echoing the screams of the eagles,
    Hems in its gorges the bed
    Of the new-born, clear-flowing stream;
    Whether he first sees light
    Where the river in gleaming rings
    Sluggishly winds through the plain;
    Whether in sound of the swallowing sea,--
    As is the world on the banks,
    So is the mind of the man.

    Vainly does each, as he glides,
    Fable and dream
    Of the lands which the river of Time
    Had left ere he woke on its breast,
    Or shall reach when his eyes have been closed.
    Only the tract where he sails
    He wots of; only the thoughts,
    Raised by the objects he passes, are his.

    Who can see the green earth any more
    As she was by the sources of Time?
    Who imagines her fields as they lay
    In the sunshine, unworn by the plough?
    Who thinks as they thought,
    The tribes who then roamed on her breast,
    Her vigorous, primitive sons?

    What girl
    Now reads in her bosom as clear
    As Rebekah read, when she sate
    At eve by the palm-shaded well?
    Who guards in her breast
    As deep, as pellucid a spring
    Of feeling, as tranquil, as sure?

    What bard,
    At the height of his vision, can deem
    Of God, of the world, of the soul,
    With a plainness as near,
    As flashing, as Moses felt,
    When he lay in the night by his flock
    On the starlit Arabian waste?
    Can rise and obey
    The beck of the Spirit like him?

    This tract which the river of Time
    Now flows through with us, is the plain.
    Gone is the calm of its earlier shore.
    Bordered by cities, and hoarse
    With a thousand cries is its stream.
    And we on its breast, our minds
    Are confused as the cries which we hear,
    Changing and short as the sights which we see.

    And we say that repose has fled
    Forever the course of the river of Time.
    That cities will crowd to its edge
    In a blacker, incessanter line;
    That the din will be more on its banks,
    Denser the trade on its stream,
    Flatter the plain where it flows,
    Fiercer the sun overhead;
    That never will those on its breast
    See an ennobling sight,
    Drink of the feeling of quiet again.

    But what was before us we know not,
    And we know not what shall succeed.

    Haply, the river of Time--
    As it grows, as the towns on its marge
    Fling their wavering lights
    On a wider, statelier stream--
    May acquire, if not the calm
    Of its early mountainous shore,
    Yet a solemn peace of its own.

    And the width of the waters, the hush
    Of the gray expanse where he floats,
    Freshening its current, and spotted with foam
    As it draws to the ocean, may strike
    Peace to the soul of the man on its breast,--
    As the pale waste widens around him,
    As the banks fade dimmer away,
    As the stars come out, and the night-wind
    Brings up the stream
    Murmurs and scents of the infinite sea.



ELEGIAC POEMS.



_THE SCHOLAR-GYPSY._[17]


    Go, for they call you, shepherd, from the hill;
      Go, shepherd, and untie the wattled cotes!
        No longer leave thy wistful flock unfed,
      Nor let thy bawling fellows rack their throats,
        Nor the cropped grasses shoot another head;
          But when the fields are still,
      And the tired men and dogs all gone to rest,
        And only the white sheep are sometimes seen
        Cross and recross the strips of moon-blanched green,
      Come, shepherd, and again renew the quest!

    Here, where the reaper was at work of late,--
      In this high field’s dark corner, where he leaves
        His coat, his basket, and his earthen cruse,
      And in the sun all morning binds the sheaves,
        Then here at noon comes back his stores to use,--
          Here will I sit and wait,
      While to my ear from uplands far away
        The bleating of the folded flocks is borne,
        With distant cries of reapers in the corn,--
      All the live murmur of a summer’s day.

    Screened is this nook o’er the high, half-reaped field,
      And here till sundown, shepherd! will I be.
        Through the thick corn the scarlet poppies peep,
      And round green roots and yellowing stalks I see
        Pale blue convolvulus in tendrils creep;
          And air-swept lindens yield
        Their scent, and rustle down their perfumed showers
        Of bloom on the bent grass where I am laid,
        And bower me from the August-sun with shade;
      And the eye travels down to Oxford’s towers.

    And near me on the grass lies Glanvil’s book.
      Come, let me read the oft-read tale again!
        The story of that Oxford scholar poor,
      Of shining parts and quick inventive brain,
        Who, tired of knocking at preferment’s door,
          One summer-morn forsook
      His friends, and went to learn the gypsy-lore,
        And roamed the world with that wild brotherhood,
        And came, as most men deemed, to little good,
      But came to Oxford and his friends no more.

    But once, years after, in the country-lanes,
      Two scholars, whom at college erst he knew,
        Met him, and of his way of life inquired;
      Whereat he answered, that the gypsy-crew,
        His mates, had arts to rule as they desired
          The workings of men’s brains,
      And they can bind them to what thoughts they will.
        “And I,” he said, “the secret of their art,
        When fully learned, will to the world impart;
      But it needs Heaven-sent moments for this skill.”

    This said, he left them, and returned no more.
      But rumors hung about the country-side,
        That the lost Scholar long was seen to stray,
      Seen by rare glimpses, pensive and tongue-tied,
        In hat of antique shape, and cloak of gray,
          The same the gypsies wore.
      Shepherds had met him on the Hurst in spring;
        At some lone alehouse in the Berkshire moors,
        On the warm ingle-bench, the smock-frocked boors
      Had found him seated at their entering;

    But, ’mid their drink and clatter, he would fly.
      And I myself seem half to know thy looks,
        And put the shepherds, wanderer! on thy trace;
      And boys who in lone wheat-fields scare the rooks
        I ask if thou hast passed their quiet place;
          Or in my boat I lie
      Moored to the cool bank in the summer-heats,
        Mid wide grass meadows which the sunshine fills,
        And watch the warm, green-muffled Cumner hills,
      And wonder if thou haunt’st their shy retreats.

    For most, I know, thou lov’st retired ground!
      Thee at the ferry Oxford riders blithe,
        Returning home on summer-nights, have met
      Crossing the stripling Thames at Bab-lock-hithe,
        Trailing in the cool stream thy fingers wet,
          As the punt’s rope chops round;
      And leaning backward in a pensive dream,
        And fostering in thy lap a heap of flowers
          Plucked in shy fields and distant Wychwood bowers,
      And thine eyes resting on the moonlit stream.

    And then they land, and thou art seen no more!
      Maidens, who from the distant hamlets come
        To dance around the Fyfield elm in May,
      Oft through the darkening fields have seen thee roam,
        Or cross a stile into the public way;
          Oft thou hast given them store
      Of flowers,--the frail-leafed, white anemone,
        Dark bluebells drenched with dews of summer eves,
        And purple orchises with spotted leaves,--
      But none hath words she can report of thee!

    And, above Godstow Bridge, when hay-time’s here
      In June, and many a scythe in sunshine flames,
        Men who through those wide fields of breezy grass,
      Where black-winged swallows haunt the glittering Thames,
        To bathe in the abandoned lasher pass,
          Have often passed thee near
      Sitting upon the river-bank o’ergrown;
        Marked thine outlandish garb, thy figure spare,
        Thy dark vague eyes, and soft abstracted air:
      But, when they came from bathing, thou wast gone!

    At some lone homestead in the Cumner hills,
      Where at her open door the housewife darns,
        Thou hast been seen, or hanging on a gate
      To watch the threshers in the mossy barns.
        Children, who early range these slopes and late
          For cresses from the rills,
      Have known thee eying, all an April-day,
        The springing pastures and the feeding kine;
          And marked thee, when the stars come out and shine,
      Through the long dewy grass move slow away.

    In autumn, on the skirts of Bagley Wood,--
      Where most the gypsies by the turf-edged way
        Pitch their smoked tents, and every bush you see
      With scarlet patches tagged and shreds of gray,
        Above the forest ground called Thessaly,--
          The blackbird picking food
      Sees thee, nor stops his meal, nor fears at all;
        So often has he known thee past him stray,
        Rapt, twirling in thy hand a withered spray,
      And waiting for the spark from heaven to fall.

    And once, in winter, on the causeway chill
      Where home through flooded fields foot-travellers go,
        Have I not passed thee on the wooden bridge
      Wrapped in thy cloak and battling with the snow,
        Thy face toward Hinksey and its wintry ridge?
          And thou hast climbed the hill,
      And gained the white brow of the Cumner range;
        Turned once to watch, while thick the snowflakes fall,
        The line of festal light in Christ-church hall:
      Then sought thy straw in some sequestered grange.

    But what--I dream! Two hundred years are flown
      Since first thy story ran through Oxford halls,
        And the grave Glanvil did the tale inscribe
      That thou wert wandered from the studious walls
        To learn strange arts, and join a gypsy-tribe.
          And thou from earth art gone
      Long since, and in some quiet churchyard laid,--
        Some country-nook, where o’er thy unknown grave
        Tall grasses and white flowering nettles wave,
      Under a dark, red-fruited yew-tree’s shade.

   --No, no, thou hast not felt the lapse of hours!
      For what wears out the life of mortal men?
        ’Tis that from change to change their being rolls;
      ’Tis that repeated shocks, again, again,
        Exhaust the energy of strongest souls,
          And numb the elastic powers,
      Till having used our nerves with bliss and teen,
        And tired upon a thousand schemes our wit,
        To the just-pausing Genius we remit
      Our well-worn life, and are--what we have been.

    Thou hast not lived, why shouldst thou perish, so?
      Thou hadst _one_ aim, _one_ business, _one_ desire;
        Else wert thou long since numbered with thedead!
      Else hadst thou spent, like other men, thy fire!
        The generations of thy peers are fled,
          And we ourselves shall go;
      But thou possessest an immortal lot,
        And we imagine thee exempt from age,
        And living as thou liv’st on Glanvil’s page,
      Because thou hadst--what we, alas! have not.

    For early didst thou leave the world, with powers
      Fresh, undiverted to the world without,
        Firm to their mark, not spent on other things;
      Free from the sick fatigue, the languid doubt,
        Which much to have tried, in much been baffled, brings.
          O life unlike to ours!
      Who fluctuate idly without term or scope,
        Of whom each strives, nor knows for what he strives,
        And each half lives a hundred different lives;
      Who wait like thee, but not, like thee, in hope.

    Thou waitest for the spark from heaven! and we,
      Light half-believers of our casual creeds,
        Who never deeply felt, nor clearly willed,
      Whose insight never has borne fruit in deeds,
        Whose vague resolves never have been fulfilled;
          For whom each year we see
      Breeds new beginnings, disappointments new;
        Who hesitate and falter life away,
        And lose to-morrow the ground won to-day--
      Ah! do not we, wanderer! await it too?

    Yes, we await it! but it still delays,
      And then we suffer! and amongst us one,
        Who most has suffered, takes dejectedly
      His seat upon the intellectual throne;
        And all his store of sad experience he
          Lays bare of wretched days;
      Tells us his misery’s birth and growth and signs,
        And how the dying spark of hope was fed,
        And how the breast was soothed, and how the head,
      And all his hourly varied anodynes.

    This for our wisest! and we others pine,
      And wish the long unhappy dream would end,
        And waive all claim to bliss, and try to bear;
      With close-lipped patience for our only friend,--
        Sad patience, too near neighbor to despair,--
          But none has hope like thine!
      Thou through the fields and through the woods dost stray,
        Roaming the country-side, a truant boy,
        Nursing thy project in unclouded joy,
      And every doubt long blown by time away.

    Oh, born in days when wits were fresh and clear,
      And life ran gayly as the sparkling Thames;
        Before this strange disease of modern life,
      With its sick hurry, its divided aims,
        Its heads o’ertaxed, its palsied hearts, was rife,--
          Fly hence, our contact fear!
      Still fly, plunge deeper in the bowering wood!
        Averse, as Dido did with gesture stern
        From her false friend’s approach in Hades turn,
      Wave us away, and keep thy solitude!

    Still nursing the unconquerable hope,
      Still clutching the inviolable shade,
        With a free, onward impulse brushing through,
      By night, the silvered branches of the glade,--
        Far on the forest-skirts, where none pursue,
          On some mild pastoral slope
      Emerge, and resting on the moonlit pales
        Freshen thy flowers as in former years
        With dew, or listen with enchanted ears,
      From the dark dingles, to the nightingales!

    But fly our paths, our feverish contact fly!
      For strong the infection of our mental strife,
        Which, though it gives no bliss, yet spoils for rest;
      And we should win thee from thy own fair life,
        Like us distracted, and like us unblest.
          Soon, soon thy cheer would die,
      Thy hopes grow timorous, and unfixed thy powers,
        And thy clear aims be cross and shifting made;
        And then thy glad perennial youth would fade,
      Fade, and grow old at last, and die like ours.

    Then fly our greetings, fly our speech and smiles!
    --As some grave Tyrian trader, from the sea,
        Descried at sunrise an emerging prow
      Lifting the cool-haired creepers stealthily,
        The fringes of a southward-facing brow
          Among the Ægean isles;
      And saw the merry Grecian coaster come,
        Freighted with amber grapes, and Chian wine,
        Green bursting figs, and tunnies steeped in brine,
      And knew the intruders on his ancient home,--

    The young light-hearted masters of the waves,--
      And snatched his rudder, and shook out more sail,
        And day and night held on indignantly
      O’er the blue Midland waters with the gale,
        Betwixt the Syrtes and soft Sicily,
          To where the Atlantic raves
      Outside the western straits, and unbent sails
        There where down cloudy cliffs, through sheets of foam,
        Shy traffickers, the dark Iberians come;
      And on the beach undid his corded bales.



_THYRSIS._[18]


_A MONODY, to commemorate the author’s friend, ARTHUR HUGH CLOUGH, who
died at Florence, 1861._

    How changed is here each spot man makes or fills!
      In the two Hinkseys nothing keeps the same;
        The village street its haunted mansion lacks,
      And from the sign is gone Sibylla’s name,
        And from the roofs the twisted chimney-stacks.--
          Are ye too changed, ye hills?
      See, ’tis no foot of unfamiliar men
        To-night from Oxford up your pathway strays!
        Here came I often, often, in old days,--
      Thyrsis and I: we still had Thyrsis then.

    Runs it not here, the track by Childsworth Farm,
      Past the high wood, to where the elm-tree crowns
        The hill behind whose ridge the sunset flames?
      The single-elm, that looks on Ilsley Downs,
        The Vale, the three lone wears, the youthful Thames?
          This winter-eve is warm;
      Humid the air; leafless, yet soft as spring,
        The tender purple spray on copse and briers;
        And that sweet city with her dreaming spires,
      She needs not June for beauty’s heightening.

    Lovely all times she lies, lovely to-night!--
      Only, methinks, some loss of habit’s power
        Befalls me wandering through this upland dim.
      Once passed I blindfold here, at any hour;
        Now seldom come I, since I came with him.
          That single elm-tree bright
      Against the west--I miss it! is it gone?
        We prized it dearly; while it stood, we said,
        Our friend the Gypsy-Scholar was not dead;
      While the tree lived, he in these fields lived on.

    Too rare, too rare, grow now my visits here,
      But once I knew each field, each flower, each stick;
        And with the country-folk acquaintance made
      By barn in threshing-time, by new-built rick.
        Here, too, our shepherd-pipes we first assayed.
          Ah me! this many a year
      My pipe is lost, my shepherd’s-holiday!
        Needs must I lose them, needs with heavy heart
        Into the world and wave of men depart,
      But Thyrsis of his own will went away.

    It irked him to be here, he could not rest.
      He loved each simple joy the country yields,
        He loved his mates; but yet he could not keep,
      For that a shadow lowered on the fields,
        Here with the shepherds and the silly sheep.
          Some life of men unblest
      He knew, which made him droop, and filled his head.
        He went; his piping took a troubled sound
        Of storms that rage outside our happy ground;
      He could not wait their passing; he is dead.

    So, some tempestuous morn in early June,
      When the year’s primal burst of bloom is o’er,
        Before the roses and the longest day,--
      When garden-walks, and all the grassy floor,
        With blossoms red and white of fallen May,
          And chestnut-flowers, are strewn,--
      So have I heard the cuckoo’s parting cry,
        From the wet field, through the vexed garden-trees,
        Come with the volleying rain and tossing breeze:
      _The bloom is gone, and with the bloom go I_!

    Too quick despairer, wherefore wilt thou go?
      Soon will the high midsummer pomps come on,
        Soon will the musk carnations break and swell,
      Soon shall we have gold-dusted snapdragon,
        Sweet-william with his homely cottage-smell,
          And stocks in fragrant blow;
      Roses that down the alleys shine afar,
        And open, jasmine-muffled lattices,
        And groups under the dreaming garden-trees,
      And the full moon, and the white evening-star.

    He hearkens not! light comer, he is flown!
      What matters it? next year he will return,
        And we shall have him in the sweet spring-days,
      With whitening hedges, and uncrumpling fern,
        And bluebells trembling by the forest-ways,
          And scent of hay new-mown.
      But Thyrsis never more we swains shall see,--
        See him come back, and cut a smoother reed,
        And blow a strain the world at last shall heed;
      For Time, not Corydon, hath conquered thee!

    Alack, for Corydon no rival now!--
      But when Sicilian shepherds lost a mate,
        Some good survivor with his flute would go,
      Piping a ditty sad for Bion’s fate;
        And cross the unpermitted ferry’s flow,
          And relax Pluto’s brow,
      And make leap up with joy the beauteous head
        Of Proserpine, among whose crownèd hair
        Are flowers first opened on Sicilian air,
      And flute his friend, like Orpheus, from the dead.

    Oh, easy access to the hearer’s grace
      When Dorian shepherds sang to Proserpine!
        For she herself had trod Sicilian fields,
      She knew the Dorian water’s gush divine,
        She knew each lily white which Enna yields,
          Each rose with blushing face;
      She loved the Dorian pipe, the Dorian strain.
        But ah! of our poor Thames she never heard;
        Her foot the Cumner cowslips never stirred;
      And we should tease her with our plaint in vain.

    Well! wind-dispersed and vain the words will be;
      Yet, Thyrsis, let me give my grief its hour
        In the old haunt, and find our tree-topped hill!
      Who, if not I, for questing here hath power?
        I know the wood which hides the daffodil;
          I know the Fyfield tree;
      I know what white, what purple fritillaries
        The grassy harvest of the river-fields,
        Above by Ensham, down by Sandford, yields;
      And what sedged brooks are Thames’s tributaries;

    I know these slopes: who knows them if not I?
      But many a dingle on the loved hillside,
        With thorns once studded, old white-blossomed trees,
      Where thick the cowslips grew, and far descried
        High towered the spikes of purple orchises,
          Hath since our day put by
      The coronals of that forgotten time;
        Down each green bank hath gone the ploughboy’s team,
        And only in the hidden brookside gleam
      Primroses, orphans of the flowery prime.

    Where is the girl who by the boatman’s door,
      Above the locks, above the boating throng,
        Unmoored our skiff when through the Wytham flats,
      Red loosestrife and blond meadow-sweet among,
        And darting swallows and light water-gnats,
          We tracked the shy Thames shore?
      Where are the mowers, who, as the tiny swell
        Of our boat passing heaved the river-grass,
        Stood with suspended scythe to see us pass?--
      They all are gone, and thou art gone as well!

    Yes, thou art gone! and round me too the night
      In ever-nearing circle weaves her shade.
        I see her veil draw soft across the day,
      I feel her slowly chilling breath invade
        The cheek grown thin, the brown hair sprent with gray;
          I feel her finger light
      Laid pausefully upon life’s headlong train,--
        The foot less prompt to meet the morning dew,
        The heart less bounding at emotion new,
      And hope, once crushed, less quick to spring again.

    And long the way appears, which seemed so short
      To the less-practised eye of sanguine youth;
        And high the mountain tops, in cloudy air,--
      The mountain tops where is the throne of Truth,
        Tops in life’s morning-sun so bright and bare!
          Unbreachable the fort
      Of the long-battered world uplifts its wall;
        And strange and vain the earthly turmoil grows,
        And near and real the charm of thy repose,
      And night as welcome as a friend would fall.

    But hush! the upland hath a sudden loss
      Of quiet! Look, adown the dusk hillside,
        A troop of Oxford hunters going home,
      As in old days, jovial and talking, ride!
        From hunting with the Berkshire hounds they come.
          Quick! let me fly, and cross
      Into yon farther field! ’Tis done; and see,
        Backed by the sunset, which doth glorify
        The orange and pale violet evening-sky,
      Bare on its lonely ridge, the Tree! the Tree!

    I take the omen! Eve lets down her veil,
      The white fog creeps from bush to bush about,
        The west unflushes, the high stars grow bright,
      And in the scattered farms the lights come out.
        I cannot reach the signal-tree to-night,
          Yet, happy omen, hail!
      Hear it from thy broad lucent Arno-vale
        (For there thine earth-forgetting eyelids keep
        The morningless and unawakening sleep
      Under the flowery oleanders pale);

    Hear it, O Thyrsis, still our tree is there!--
      Ah, vain! These English fields, this upland dim,
        These brambles pale with mist engarlanded,
      That lone, sky-pointing tree, are not for him:
        To a boon southern country he is fled,
          And now in happier air,
      Wandering with the great Mother’s train divine
        (And purer or more subtile soul than thee,
        I trow the mighty Mother doth not see)
      Within a folding of the Apennine,--

    Thou hearest the immortal chants of old!
      Putting his sickle to the perilous grain
        In the hot cornfield of the Phrygian king,
      For thee the Lityerses-song again
        Young Daphnis with his silver voice doth sing;[19]
          Sings his Sicilian fold,
      His sheep, his hapless love, his blinded eyes;
        And how a call celestial round him rang,
        And heavenward from the fountain-brink he sprang,
      And all the marvel of the golden skies.

    There thou art gone, and me thou leavest here
      Sole in these fields! yet will I not despair.
        Despair I will not, while I yet descry
      ’Neath the soft canopy of English air
        That lonely tree against the western sky.
          Still, still these slopes, ’tis clear,
      Our Gypsy-Scholar haunts, outliving thee!
        Fields where soft sheep from cages pull the hay,
        Woods with anemones in flower till May,
      Know him a wanderer still; then why not me?

    A fugitive and gracious light he seeks,
      Shy to illumine; and I seek it too.
        This does not come with houses or with gold,
      With place, with honor, and a flattering crew;
        ’Tis not in the world’s market bought and sold;
          But the smooth-slipping weeks
      Drop by, and leave its seeker still untired;
        Out of the heed of mortals he is gone,
        He wends unfollowed, he must house alone;
      Yet on he fares, by his own heart inspired.

    Thou too, O Thyrsis, on like quest wast bound!
      Thou wanderedst with me for a little hour.
        Men gave thee nothing; but this happy quest,
      If men esteemed thee feeble, gave thee power,
        If men procured thee trouble, gave thee rest.
          And this rude Cumner ground,
      Its fir-topped Hurst, its farms, its quiet fields,
        Here cam’st thou in thy jocund youthful time,
        Here was thine height of strength, thy golden prime!
      And still the haunt beloved a virtue yields.

    What though the music of thy rustic flute
      Kept not for long its happy, country tone;
        Lost it too soon, and learnt a stormy note
      Of men contention-tost, of men who groan,
        Which tasked thy pipe too sore, and tired thy throat--
          It failed, and thou wast mute!
      Yet hadst thou alway visions of our light,
        And long with men of care thou couldst not stay,
        And soon thy foot resumed its wandering way,
      Left human haunt, and on alone till night.

    Too rare, too rare, grow now my visits here!
      ’Mid city-noise, not, as with thee of yore,
        Thyrsis! in reach of sheep-bells is my home.
    --Then through the great town’s harsh, heart-wearying roar,
        Let in thy voice a whisper often come,
          To chase fatigue and fear:
      _Why faintest thou? I wandered till I died._
        _Roam on! The light we sought is shining still._
        _Dost thou ask proof! Our tree yet crowns the hill,_
      _Our Scholar travels yet the loved hillside_.



_MEMORIAL VERSES._

APRIL, 1850.


    Goethe in Weimar sleeps; and Greece,
    Long since, saw Byron’s struggle cease.
    But one such death remained to come:
    The last poetic voice is dumb,--
    We stand to-day by Wordsworth’s tomb.

      When Byron’s eyes were shut in death,
    We bowed our head, and held our breath.
    He taught us little, but our soul
    Had _felt_ him like the thunder’s roll.
    With shivering heart the strife we saw
    Of passion with eternal law;
    And yet with reverential awe
    We watched the fount of fiery life
    Which served for that Titanic strife.

    When Goethe’s death was told, we said,--
    Sunk, then, is Europe’s sagest head.
    Physician of the iron age,
    Goethe has done his pilgrimage.
    He took the suffering human race,
    He read each wound, each weakness clear;
    And struck his finger on the place,
    And said, _Thou ailest here, and here_!
    He looked on Europe’s dying hour
    Of fitful dream and feverish power;
    His eye plunged down the weltering strife,
    The turmoil of expiring life:
    He said, _The end is everywhere,
    Art still has truth, take refuge there_!
    And he was happy, if to know
    Causes of things, and far below
    His feet to see the lurid flow
    Of terror, and insane distress,
    And headlong fate, be happiness.

    And Wordsworth! Ah, pale ghosts, rejoice!
    For never has such soothing voice
    Been to your shadowy world conveyed,
    Since erst, at morn, some wandering shade
    Heard the clear song of Orpheus come
    Through Hades and the mournful gloom.
    Wordsworth has gone from us; and ye,
    Ah, may ye feel his voice as we!
    He too upon a wintry clime
    Had fallen,--on this iron time
    Of doubts, disputes, distractions, fears.
    He found us when the age had bound
    Our souls in its benumbing round;
    He spoke, and loosed our heart in tears.
    He laid us as we lay at birth
    On the cool flowery lap of earth:
    Smiles broke from us, and we had ease;
    The hills were round us, and the breeze
    Went o’er the sunlit fields again;
    Our foreheads felt the wind and rain.
    Our youth returned; for there was shed
    On spirits that had long been dead,
    Spirits dried up and closely furled,
    The freshness of the early world.

    Ah! since dark days still bring to light
    Man’s prudence and man’s fiery might,
    Time may restore us in his course
    Goethe’s sage mind and Byron’s force;
    But where will Europe’s latter hour
    Again find Wordsworth’s healing power?
    Others will teach us how to dare,
    And against fear our breast to steel:
    Others will strengthen us to bear--
    But who, ah! who will make us feel?
    The cloud of mortal destiny,
    Others will front it fearlessly;
    But who, like him, will put it by?
    Keep fresh the grass upon his grave,
    O Rotha, with thy living wave!
    Sing him thy best! for few or none
    Hear thy voice right, now he is gone.



_STANZAS._

IN MEMORY OF EDWARD QUILLINAN.


    I saw him sensitive in frame,
      I knew his spirits low;
    And wished him health, success, and fame--
      I do not wish it now.

    For these are all their own reward,
      And leave no good behind;
    They try us, oftenest make us hard,
      Less modest, pure, and kind.

    Alas! yet to the suffering man,
      In this his mortal state,
    Friends could not give what fortune can,--
      Health, ease, a heart elate.

    But he is now by fortune foiled
      No more; and we retain
    The memory of a man unspoiled,
      Sweet, generous, and humane;

    With all the fortunate have not,
      With gentle voice and brow.
   --Alive, we would have changed his lot:
      We would not change it now.



_STANZAS FROM CARNAC._


    Far on its rocky knoll descried,
    Saint Michael’s chapel cuts the sky.
    I climbed; beneath me, bright and wide,
    Lay the lone coast of Brittany.

    Bright in the sunset, weird and still,
    It lay beside the Atlantic wave,
    As though the wizard Merlin’s will
    Yet charmed it from his forest-grave.

    Behind me on their grassy sweep,
    Bearded with lichen, scrawled and gray,
    The giant stones of Carnac sleep,
    In the mild evening of the May.

    No priestly stern procession now
    Streams through their rows of pillars old;
    No victims bleed, no Druids bow:
    Sheep make the daisied aisles their fold.

    From bush to bush the cuckoo flies,
    The orchis red gleams everywhere;
    Gold furze with broom in blossom vies,
    The bluebells perfume all the air.

    And o’er the glistening, lonely land,
    Rise up, all round, the Christian spires;
    The church of Carnac, by the strand,
    Catches the westering sun’s last fires.

    And there, across the watery way,
    See, low above the tide at flood,
    The sickle-sweep of Quiberon Bay,
    Whose beach once ran with loyal blood!

    And beyond that, the Atlantic wide!--
    All round, no soul, no boat, no hail;
    But, on the horizon’s verge descried,
    Hangs, touched with light, one snowy sail.

    Ah! where is he who should have come[20]
    Where that far sail is passing now,
    Past the Loire’s mouth, and by the foam
    Of Finistère’s unquiet brow,--

    Home, round into the English wave?--
    He tarries where the Rock of Spain
    Mediterranean waters lave;
    He enters not the Atlantic main.

    Oh, could he once have reached this air
    Freshened by plunging tides, by showers!
    Have felt this breath he loved, of fair
    Cool Northern fields, and grass, and flowers!

    He longed for it--pressed on. In vain!
    At the Straits failed that spirit brave.
    The South was parent of his pain,
    The South is mistress of his grave.



_A SOUTHERN NIGHT._


    The sandy spits, the shore-locked lakes,
      Melt into open, moonlit sea;
    The soft Mediterranean breaks
          At my feet, free.

    Dotting the fields of corn and vine,
      Like ghosts, the huge gnarled olives stand;
    Behind, that lovely mountain line!
          While, by the strand,--

    Cette, with its glistening houses white,
      Curves with the curving beach away
    To where the light-house beacons bright
          Far in the bay.

    Ah! such a night, so soft, so lone,
      So moonlit, saw me once of yore[21]
    Wander unquiet, and my own
          Vexed heart deplore.

    But now that trouble is forgot:
      Thy memory, thy pain, to-night,
    My brother! and thine early lot,[22]
          Possess me quite.

    The murmur of this Midland deep
      Is heard to-night around thy grave,
    There, where Gibraltar’s cannoned steep
          O’erfrowns the wave.

    For there, with bodily anguish keen,
      With Indian heats at last foredone,
    With public toil and private teen,--
          Thou sank’st alone.

    Slow to a stop, at morning gray,
      I see the smoke-crowned vessel come;
    Slow round her paddles dies away
          The seething foam.

    A boat is lowered from her side;
      Ah, gently place him on the bench!
    That spirit--if all have not yet died--
          A breath might quench.

    Is this the eye, the footstep fast,
      The mien of youth, we used to see?
    Poor, gallant boy! for such thou wast,
          Still art, to me.

    The limbs their wonted tasks refuse;
      The eyes are glazed, thou canst not speak;
    And whiter than thy white burnous
          That wasted cheek!

    Enough! The boat, with quiet shock,
      Unto its haven coming nigh,
    Touches, and on Gibraltar’s rock
          Lands thee, to die.

    Ah me! Gibraltar’s strand is far;
      But farther yet across the brine
    Thy dear wife’s ashes buried are,
          Remote from thine.

    For there, where morning’s sacred fount
      Its golden rain on earth confers,
    The snowy Himalayan Mount
          O’ershadows hers.

    Strange irony of fate, alas!
      Which, for two jaded English, saves,
    When from their dusty life they pass,
          Such peaceful graves!

    In cities should we English lie,
      Where cries are rising ever new,
    And men’s incessant stream goes by,--
          We who pursue

    Our business with unslackening stride,
      Traverse in troops, with care-filled breast,
    The soft Mediterranean side,
          The Nile, the East,--

    And see all sights from pole to pole,
      And glance, and nod, and bustle by;
    And never once possess our soul
          Before we die.

    Not by those hoary Indian hills,
      Not by this gracious Midland sea
    Whose floor to-night sweet moonshine fills,
          Should our graves be.

    Some sage, to whom the world was dead,
      And men were specks, and life a play;
    Who made the roots of trees his bed,
          And once a day

    With staff and gourd his way did bend
      To villages and homes of man,
    For food to keep him till he end
          His mortal span,--

    And the pure goal of being reach;
      Gray-headed, wrinkled, clad in white;
    Without companion, without speech,
          By day and night

    Pondering God’s mysteries untold,
      And tranquil as the glacier-snows,--
    He by those Indian mountains old
          Might well repose.

    Some gray crusading knight austere,
      Who bore Saint Louis company,
    And came home hurt to death, and here
          Landed to die;

    Some youthful troubadour, whose tongue
      Filled Europe once with his love-pain,
    Who here outworn had sunk, and sung
          His dying strain;

    Some girl, who here from castle-bower,
      With furtive step and cheek of flame,
    ’Twixt myrtle-hedges all in flower
          By moonlight came
    To meet her pirate-lover’s ship,
      And from the wave-kissed marble stair
    Beckoned him on with quivering lip
          And floating hair,

    And lived some moons in happy trance,
      Then learnt his death, and pined away,--
    Such by these waters of romance
          ’Twas meet to lay.

    But you--a grave for knight or sage,
      Romantic, solitary, still,
    O spent ones of a work-day age!
          Befits you ill.

    So sang I; but the midnight breeze,
      Down to the brimmed, moon-charmèd main,
    Comes softly through the olive-trees,
          And checks my strain.

    I think of her whose gentle tongue
      All plaint in her own cause controlled;
    Of thee I think, my brother! young
          In heart, high-souled;

    That comely face, that clustered brow,
      That cordial hand, that bearing free,--
    I see them still, I see them now,
          Shall always see!

    And what but gentleness untired,
      And what but noble feeling warm,
    Wherever shown, howe’er inspired,
          Is grace, is charm?

    What else is all these waters are,
      What else is steeped in lucid sheen,
    What else is bright, what else is fair,
          What else serene?

    Mild o’er her grave, ye mountains, shine!
      Gently by his, ye waters, glide!
    To that in you which is divine
          They were allied.



_HAWORTH CHURCHYARD._

APRIL, 1855.


    Where, under Loughrigg, the stream
    Of Rotha sparkles through fields
    Vested forever with green,
    Four years since, in the house
    Of a gentle spirit now dead,
    Wordsworth’s son-in-law, friend,--
    I saw the meeting of two
    Gifted women.[23] The one,
    Brilliant with recent renown,
    Young, unpractised, had told
    With a master’s accent her feigned
    Story of passionate life;
    The other, maturer in fame,
    Earning, she too, her praise
    First in fiction, had since
    Widened her sweep, and surveyed
    History, politics, mind.

    The two held converse; they wrote
    In a book which of world-famous souls
    Kept the memorial: bard,
    Warrior, statesman, had signed
    Their names: chief glory of all,
    Scott had bestowed there his last
    Breathings of song, with a pen
    Tottering, a death-stricken hand.

    Hope at that meeting smiled fair.
    Years in number, it seemed,
    Lay before both, and a fame
    Heightened, and multiplied power.--
    Behold! The elder, to-day,
    Lies expecting from death,
    In mortal weakness, a last
    Summons! the younger is dead!

    First to the living we pay
    Mournful homage: the Muse
    Gains not an earth-deafened ear.

    Hail to the steadfast soul,
    Which, unflinching and keen,
    Wrought to erase from its depth
    Mist and illusion and fear!
    Hail to the spirit which dared
    Trust its own thoughts, before yet
    Echoed her back by the crowd!
    Hail to the courage which gave
    Voice to its creed, ere the creed
    Won consecration from time!

    Turn we next to the dead.--
    How shall we honor the young,
    The ardent, the gifted? how mourn?
    Console we cannot, her ear
    Is deaf. Far northward from here,
    In a churchyard high ’mid the moors
    Of Yorkshire, a little earth
    Stops it forever to praise.

    Where behind Keighley the road
    Up to the heart of the moors
    Between heath-clad showery hills
    Runs, and colliers’ carts
    Poach the deep ways coming down,
    And a rough, grimed race have their homes,--
    There on its slope is built
    The moorland town. But the church
    Stands on the crest of the hill,
    Lonely and bleak; at its side
    The parsonage-house and the graves.

    Strew with laurel the grave
    Of the early-dying! Alas!
    Early she goes on the path
    To the silent country, and leaves
    Half her laurels unwon,
    Dying too soon; yet green
    Laurels she had, and a course
    Short, but redoubled by fame.

    And not friendless, and not
    Only with strangers to meet,
    Faces ungreeting and cold,
    Thou, O mourned one, to-day
    Enterest the house of the grave!
    Those of thy blood, whom thou lovedst,
    Have preceded thee,--young,
    Loving, a sisterly band;
    Some in art, some in gift
    Inferior--all in fame.
    They, like friends, shall receive
    This comer, greet her with joy;
    Welcome the sister, the friend;
    Hear with delight of thy fame!

    Round thee they lie; the grass
    Blows from their graves to thy own!
    She whose genius, though not
    Puissant like thine, was yet
    Sweet and graceful; and she
    (How shall I sing her?) whose soul
    Knew no fellow for might,
    Passion, vehemence, grief,
    Daring, since Byron died,--
    The world-famed son of fire,--she who sank
    Baffled, unknown, self-consumed;
    Whose too bold dying song[24]
    Shook, like a clarion-blast, my soul.

    Of one, too, I have heard,
    A brother: sleeps he here?
    Of all that gifted race
    Not the least gifted; young,
    Unhappy, eloquent; the child
    Of many hopes, of many tears.
    O boy, if here thou sleep’st, sleep well!
    On thee too did the Muse
    Bright in thy cradle smile;
    But some dark shadow came
    (I know not what) and interposed.

    Sleep, O cluster of friends,
    Sleep! or only when May,
    Brought by the west-wind, returns
    Back to your native heaths,
    And the plover is heard on the moors,
    Yearly awake to behold
    The opening summer, the sky,
    The shining moorland; to hear
    The drowsy bee, as of old,
    Hum o’er the thyme, the grouse
    Call from the heather in bloom!
    Sleep, or only for this
    Break your united repose!



_EPILOGUE._


    So I sang; but the Muse,
    Shaking her head, took the harp--
    Stern interrupted my strain,
    Angrily smote on the chords.

    April showers
    Rush o’er the Yorkshire moors.
    Stormy, through driving mist,
    Loom the blurred hills; the rain
    Lashes the newly-made grave.

    Unquiet souls!
   --In the dark fermentation of earth,
    In the never-idle workshop of nature,
    In the eternal movement,
    Ye shall find yourselves again!



_RUGBY CHAPEL._

NOVEMBER, 1857.


    Coldly, sadly descends
    The autumn evening. The field
    Strewn with its dank yellow drifts
    Of withered leaves, and the elms,
    Fade into dimness apace,
    Silent; hardly a shout
    From a few boys late at their play!
    The lights come out in the street,
    In the schoolroom windows; but cold,
    Solemn, unlighted, austere,
    Through the gathering darkness, arise
    The chapel-walls, in whose bound
    Thou, my father! art laid.

    There thou dost lie, in the gloom
    Of the autumn evening. But ah!
    That word _gloom_ to my mind
    Brings thee back in the light
    Of thy radiant vigor again.
    In the gloom of November we passed
    Days not dark at thy side;
    Seasons impaired not the ray
    Of thy buoyant cheerfulness clear.
    Such thou wast! and I stand
    In the autumn evening, and think
    Of bygone autumns with thee.

    Fifteen years have gone round
    Since thou arosest to tread,
    In the summer-morning, the road
    Of death, at a call unforeseen,
    Sudden. For fifteen years,
    We who till then in thy shade
    Rested as under the boughs
    Of a mighty oak, have endured
    Sunshine and rain as we might,
    Bare, unshaded, alone,
    Lacking the shelter of thee.

    O strong soul, by what shore
    Tarriest thou now? For that force,
    Surely, has not been left vain!
    Somewhere, surely, afar,
    In the sounding labor-house vast
    Of being, is practised that strength,
    Zealous, beneficent, firm!

    Yes, in some far-shining sphere,
    Conscious or not of the past,
    Still thou performest the word
    Of the Spirit in whom thou dost live,
    Prompt, unwearied, as here.
    Still thou upraisest with zeal
    The humble good from the ground,
    Sternly repressest the bad;
    Still, like a trumpet, dost rouse
    Those who with half-open eyes
    Tread the border-land dim
    ’Twixt vice and virtue; reviv’st,
    Succorest. This was thy work,
    This was thy life upon earth.

    What is the course of the life
    Of mortal men on the earth?
    Most men eddy about
    Here and there, eat and drink,
    Chatter and love and hate,
    Gather and squander, are raised
    Aloft, are hurled in the dust,
    Striving blindly, achieving
    Nothing; and then they die,--
    Perish; and no one asks
    Who or what they have been,
    More than he asks what waves,
    In the moonlit solitudes mild
    Of the midmost ocean, have swelled,
    Foamed for a moment, and gone.

    And there are some whom a thirst
    Ardent, unquenchable, fires,
    Not with the crowd to be spent,
    Not without aim to go round
    In an eddy of purposeless dust,
    Effort unmeaning and vain.
    Ah yes! some of us strive
    Not without action to die
    Fruitless, but something to snatch
    From dull oblivion, nor all
    Glut the devouring grave.
    We, we have chosen our path,--
    Path to a clear-purposed goal,
    Path of advance; but it leads
    A long, steep journey, through sunk
    Gorges, o’er mountains in snow.
    Cheerful, with friends, we set forth:
    Then, on the height, comes the storm.
    Thunder crashes from rock
    To rock; the cataracts reply;
    Lightnings dazzle our eyes;
    Roaring torrents have breached
    The track; the stream-bed descends
    In the place where the wayfarer once
    Planted his footstep; the spray
    Boils o’er its borders; aloft,
    The unseen snow-beds dislodge
    Their hanging ruin. Alas!
    Havoc is made in our train!
    Friends who set forth at our side
    Falter, are lost in the storm.

    We, we only are left!
    With frowning foreheads, with lips
    Sternly compressed, we strain on,
    On; and at nightfall at last
    Come to the end of our way,
    To the lonely inn ’mid the rocks;
    Where the gaunt and taciturn host
    Stands on the threshold, the wind
    Shaking his thin white hairs,
    Holds his lantern to scan
    Our storm-beat figures, and asks,--
    Whom in our party we bring?
    Whom we have left in the snow?

    Sadly we answer, We bring
    Only ourselves! we lost
    Sight of the rest in the storm.
    Hardly ourselves we fought through,
    Stripped, without friends, as we are.
    Friends, companions, and train,
    The avalanche swept from our side.

    But thou wouldst not _alone_
    Be saved, my father! _alone_
    Conquer and come to thy goal,
    Leaving the rest in the wild.
    We were weary, and we
    Fearful, and we in our march
    Fain to drop down and to die.
    Still thou turnedst, and still
    Beckonedst the trembler, and still
    Gavest the weary thy hand.
    If, in the paths of the world,
    Stones might have wounded thy feet,
    Toil or dejection have tried
    Thy spirit, of that we saw
    Nothing: to us thou wast still
    Cheerful, and helpful, and firm!
    Therefore to thee it was given
    Many to save with thyself;
    And, at the end of thy day,
    O faithful shepherd! to come,
    Bringing thy sheep in thy hand.

    And through thee I believe
    In the noble and great who are gone;
    Pure souls honored and blest
    By former ages, who else else--
    Such, so soulless, so poor,
    Is the race of men whom I see--
    Seemed but a dream of the heart,
    Seemed but a cry of desire.
    Yes! I believe that there lived
    Others like thee in the past,
    Not like the men of the crowd
    Who all round me to-day
    Bluster or cringe, and make life
    Hideous and arid and vile;
    But souls tempered with fire,
    Fervent, heroic, and good,
    Helpers and friends of mankind.

    Servants of God!--or sons
    Shall I not call you? because
    Not as servants ye knew
    Your Father’s innermost mind,
    His who unwillingly sees
    One of his little ones lost,--
    Yours is the praise, if mankind
    Hath not as yet in its march
    Fainted and fallen and died.

    See! In the rocks of the world
    Marches the host of mankind,
    A feeble, wavering line.
    Where are they tending? A God
    Marshalled them, gave them their goal.
    Ah, but the way is so long!

    Years they have been in the wild:
    Sore thirst plagues them; the rocks,
    Rising all round, overawe;
    Factions divide them; their host
    Threatens to break, to dissolve.
    Ah! keep, keep them combined!
    Else, of the myriads who fill
    That army, not one shall arrive;
    Sole they shall stray; on the rocks
    Batter forever in vain,
    Die one by one in the waste.

    Then, in such hour of need
    Of your fainting, dispirited race,
    Ye like angels appear,
    Radiant with ardor divine.
    Beacons of hope, ye appear!
    Languor is not in your heart,
    Weakness is not in your word,
    Weariness not on your brow.
    Ye alight in our van! at your voice,
    Panic, despair, flee away.
    Ye move through the ranks, recall
    The stragglers, refresh the outworn,
    Praise, re-inspire the brave.
    Order, courage, return;
    Eyes rekindling, and prayers,
    Follow your steps as ye go.
    Ye fill up the gaps in our files,
    Strengthen the wavering line,
    Stablish, continue our march,
    On, to the bound of the waste,
    On, to the City of God.



_HEINE’S GRAVE._


    “_Henri Heine_”--’tis here!
    The black tombstone, the name
    Carved there--no more; and the smooth,
    Swarded alleys, the limes
    Touched with yellow by hot
    Summer, but under them still,
    In September’s bright afternoon,
    Shadow, and verdure, and cool.
    Trim Montmartre! the faint
    Murmur of Paris outside;
    Crisp everlasting-flowers,
    Yellow and black, on the graves.

    Half blind, palsied, in pain,
    Hither to come, from the streets’
    Uproar, surely not loath
    Wast thou, Heine! to lie
    Quiet, to ask for closed
    Shutters, and darkened room,
    And cool drinks, and an eased
    Posture, and opium, no more;
    Hither to come, and to sleep
    Under the wings of Renown.

    Ah! not little, when pain
    Is most quelling, and man
    Easily quelled, and the fine
    Temper of genius so soon
    Thrills at each smart, is the praise,
    Not to have yielded to pain!
    No small boast, for a weak
    Son of mankind, to the earth
    Pinned by the thunder, to rear
    His bolt-scathed front to the stars;
    And, undaunted, retort
    ’Gainst thick-crashing, insane,
    Tyrannous tempests of bale,
    Arrowy lightnings of soul.

    Hark! through the alley resounds
    Mocking laughter! A film
    Creeps o’er the sunshine; a breeze
    Ruffles the warm afternoon,
    Saddens my soul with its chill.
    Gibing of spirits in scorn
    Shakes every leaf of the grove,
    Mars the benignant repose
    Of this amiable home of the dead.

    Bitter spirits, ye claim
    Heine? Alas, he is yours!
    Only a moment I longed
    Here in the quiet to snatch
    From such mates the outworn
    Poet, and steep him in calm.
    Only a moment! I knew
    Whose he was who is here
    Buried: I knew he was yours!
    Ah! I knew that I saw
    Here no sepulchre built
    In the laurelled rock, o’er the blue
    Naples bay, for a sweet
    Tender Virgil; no tomb
    On Ravenna sands, in the shade
    Of Ravenna pines, for a high
    Austere Dante; no grave
    By the Avon side, in the bright
    Stratford meadows, for thee,
    Shakspeare, loveliest of souls,
    Peerless in radiance, in joy!

    What, then, so harsh and malign,
    Heine! distils from thy life?
    Poisons the peace of thy grave?

    I chide with thee not, that thy sharp
    Upbraidings often assailed
    England, my country; for we,
    Heavy and sad, for her sons,
    Long since, deep in our hearts,
    Echo the blame of her foes.
    We too sigh that she flags;
    We too say that she now--
    Scarce comprehending the voice
    Of her greatest, golden-mouthed sons
    Of a former age any more--
    Stupidly travels her round
    Of mechanic business, and lets
    Slow die out of her life
    Glory, and genius, and joy.

    So thou arraign’st her, her foe;
    So we arraign her, her sons.
    Yes, we arraign her! but she,
    The weary Titan, with deaf
    Ears, and labor-dimmed eyes,
    Regarding neither to right
    Nor left, goes passively by,
    Staggering on to her goal;
    Bearing on shoulders immense,
    Atlanteän, the load,
    Well-nigh not to be borne,
    Of the too vast orb of her fate.

    But was it thou--I think
    Surely it was!--that bard
    Unnamed, who, Goethe said,
    _Had every other gift, but wanted love_--
    Love, without which the tongue
    Even of angels sounds amiss?

    Charm is the glory which makes
    Song of the poet divine.
    Love is the fountain of charm.
    How without charm wilt thou draw,
    Poet! the world to thy way?
    Not by the lightnings of wit,
    Not by the thunder of scorn.
    These to the world too are given;
    Wit it possesses, and scorn:
    Charm is the poet’s alone.
    _Hollow and dull are the great,_
    _And artists envious, and the mob profane._
    We know all this, we know!
    Cam’st thou from heaven, O child
    Of light! but this to declare?
    Alas! to help us forget
    Such barren knowledge a while,
    God gave the poet his song.

    Therefore a secret unrest
    Tortured thee, brilliant and bold;
    Therefore triumph itself
    Tasted amiss to thy soul.
    Therefore, with blood of thy foes,
    Trickled in silence thine own.
    Therefore the victor’s heart
    Broke on the field of his fame.

      Ah! as of old, from the pomp
    Of Italian Milan, the fair
    Flower of marble of white
    Southern palaces,--steps
    Bordered by statues, and walks
    Terraced, and orange bowers
    Heavy with fragrance,--the blond
    German Kaiser full oft
    Longed himself back to the fields,
    Rivers, and high-roofed towns
    Of his native Germany; so,
    So, how often! from hot
    Paris drawing-rooms, and lamps
    Blazing, and brilliant crowds,
    Starred and jewelled, of men
    Famous, of women the queens
    Of dazzling converse; from fumes
    Of praise, hot, heady fumes, to the poor brain
    That mount, that madden,--how oft
    Heine’s spirit outworn
    Longed itself out of the din,
    Back to the tranquil, the cool
    Far German home of his youth!

    See! in the May afternoon,
    O’er the fresh short turf of the Hartz,
    A youth, with the foot of youth,
    Heine! thou climbest again:
    Up through the tall dark firs
    Warming their heads in the sun,
    Checkering the grass with their shade;
    Up by the stream, with its huge
    Moss-hung bowlders, and thin
    Musical water half-hid;
    Up o’er the rock-strewn slope,
    With the sinking sun, and the air
    Chill, and the shadows now
    Long on the gray hillside,--
    To the stone-roofed hut at the top!

    Or, yet later, in watch
    On the roof of the Brocken-tower
    Thou standest, gazing!--to see
    The broad red sun over field,
    Forest, and city, and spire,
    And mist-tracked steam of the wide,
    Wide German land, going down
    In a bank of vapors,--again
    Standest, at nightfall, alone!

    Or, next morning, with limbs
    Rested by slumber, and heart
    Freshened and light with the May,
    O’er the gracious spurs coming down
    Of the Lower Hartz, among oaks
    And beechen coverts, and copse
    Of hazels green, in whose depth
    Ilse, the fairy transformed,
    In a thousand water-breaks light
    Pours her petulant youth;
    Climbing the rock which juts
    O’er the valley,--the dizzily perched
    Rock,--to its iron cross
    Once more thou cling’st; to the cross
    Clingest! with smiles, with a sigh!

    Goethe too had been there.[25]
    In the long-past winter he came
    To the frozen Hartz, with his soul
    Passionate, eager; his youth
    All in ferment. But he,
    Destined to work and to live,
    Left it, and thou, alas!
    Only to laugh and to die.

    But something prompts me: Not thus
    Take leave of Heine! not thus
    Speak the last word at his grave!
    Not in pity, and not
    With half censure: with awe
    Hail, as it passes from earth
    Scattering lightnings, that soul!

    The Spirit of the world,
    Beholding the absurdity of men,--
    Their vaunts, their feats,--let a sardonic smile,
    For one short moment, wander o’er his lips.
    _That smile was Heine!_ For its earthly hour
    The strange guest sparkled; now ’tis passed away.

    That was Heine! and we,
    Myriads who live, who have lived,
    What are we all, but a mood,
    A single mood, of the life
    Of the Spirit in whom we exist,
    Who alone is all things in one?

    Spirit, who fillest us all!
    Spirit, who utterest in each
    New-coming son of mankind
    Such of thy thoughts as thou wilt!
    O thou, one of whose moods,
    Bitter and strange, was the life
    Of Heine,--his strange, alas!
    His bitter life,--may a life
    Other and milder be mine!
    May’st thou a mood more serene,
    Happier, have uttered in mine!
    May’st thou the rapture of peace
    Deep have imbreathed at its core;
    Made it a ray of thy thought,
    Made it a beat of thy joy!



_STANZAS FROM THE GRANDE CHARTREUSE._


    Through Alpine meadows soft-suffused
    With rain, where thick the crocus blows,
    Past the dark forges long disused,
    The mule-track from Saint Laurent goes.
    The bridge is crossed, and slow we ride,
    Through forest, up the mountain side.

    The autumnal evening darkens round,
    The wind is up, and drives the rain;
    While, hark! far down, with strangled sound
    Doth the Dead Guier’s stream complain,
    Where that wet smoke, among the woods,
    Over his boiling caldron broods.

    Swift rush the spectral vapors white
    Past limestone scars with ragged pines,
    Showing--then blotting from our sight!--
    Halt--through the cloud-drift something shines!
    High in the valley, wet and drear,
    The huts of Courrerie appear.

    _Strike leftward!_ cries our guide; and higher
    Mounts up the stony forest-way.
    At last the encircling trees retire;
    Look! through the showery twilight gray,
    What pointed roofs are these advance?
    A palace of the kings of France?

    Approach, for what we seek is here!
    Alight, and sparely sup, and wait
    For rest in this outbuilding near;
    Then cross the sward, and reach that gate;
    Knock; pass the wicket. Thou art come
    To the Carthusians’ world-famed home.

    The silent courts, where night and day
    Into their stone-carved basins cold
    The splashing icy fountains play,
    The humid corridors behold,
    Where, ghost-like in the deepening night,
    Cowled forms brush by in gleaming white!

    The chapel, where no organ’s peal
    Invests the stern and naked prayer!
    With penitential cries they kneel
    And wrestle; rising then, with bare
    And white uplifted faces stand,
    Passing the Host from hand to hand;
    Each takes, and then his visage wan
    Is buried in his cowl once more.
    The cells!--the suffering Son of man
    Upon the wall; the knee-worn floor;
    And where they sleep, that wooden bed,
    Which shall their coffin be when dead!

    The library, where tract and tome
    Not to feed priestly pride are there,
    To hymn the conquering march of Rome,
    Nor yet to amuse, as ours are:
    They paint of souls the inner strife,
    Their drops of blood, their death in life.

    The garden, overgrown--yet mild,
    See, fragrant herbs are flowering there:
    Strong children of the Alpine wild
    Whose culture is the brethren’s care;
    Of human tasks their only one,
    And cheerful works beneath the sun.

    Those halls, too, destined to contain
    Each its own pilgrim-host of old,
    From England, Germany, or Spain,--
    All are before me! I behold
    The house, the brotherhood austere.
    And what am I, that I am here?

    For rigorous teachers seized my youth,
    And purged its faith, and trimmed its fire,
    Showed me the high, white star of Truth,
    There bade me gaze, and there aspire.
    Even now their whispers pierce the gloom:
    _What dost thou in this living tomb?_

    Forgive me, masters of the mind!
    At whose behest I long ago
    So much unlearned, so much resigned:
    I come not here to be your foe!
    I seek these anchorites, not in ruth,
    To curse and to deny your truth;

    Not as their friend, or child, I speak!
    But as, on some far northern strand,
    Thinking of his own gods, a Greek
    In pity and mournful awe might stand
    Before some fallen Runic stone;
    For both were faiths, and both are gone.

    Wandering between two worlds, one dead,
    The other powerless to be born,
    With nowhere yet to rest my head,
    Like these, on earth I wait forlorn.
    Their faith, my tears, the world deride:
    I come to shed them at their side.

    Oh, hide me in your gloom profound,
    Ye solemn seats of holy pain!
    Take me, cowled forms, and fence me round,
    Till I possess my soul again;
    Till free my thoughts before me roll,
    Not chafed by hourly false control!

    For the world cries, your faith is now
    But a dead time’s exploded dream;
    My melancholy, sciolists say,
    Is a passed mode, an outworn theme.--
    As if the world had ever had
    A faith, or sciolists been sad!

    Ah! if it _be_ passed, take away,
    At least, the restlessness, the pain!
    Be man henceforth no more a prey
    To these out-dated stings again!
    The nobleness of grief is gone:
    Ah, leave us not the fret alone!

    But,--if you cannot give us ease,--
    Last of the race of them who grieve,
    Here leave us to die out with these
    Last of the people who believe!
    Silent, while years engrave the brow;
    Silent--the best are silent now.

    Achilles ponders in his tent,
    The kings of modern thought are dumb;
    Silent they are, though not content,
    And wait to see the future come.
    They have the grief men had of yore,
    But they contend and cry no more.

    Our fathers watered with their tears
    This sea of time whereon we sail;
    Their voices were in all men’s ears
    Who passed within their puissant hail.
    Still the same ocean round us raves,
    But we stand mute, and watch the waves.

    For what availed it, all the noise
    And outcry of the former men?
    Say, have their sons achieved more joys?
    Say, is life lighter now than then?
    The sufferers died, they left their pain;
    The pangs which tortured them remain.

    What helps it now, that Byron bore,
    With haughty scorn which mocked the smart,
    Through Europe to the Ætolian shore
    The pageant of his bleeding heart?
    That thousands counted every groan,
    And Europe made his woe her own?
    What boots it, Shelley! that the breeze
    Carried thy lovely wail away,
    Musical through Italian trees
    Which fringe thy soft blue Spezzian bay?
    Inheritors of thy distress,
    Have restless hearts one throb the less?

    Or are we easier, to have read,
    O Obermann! the sad, stern page,
    Which tells us how thou hidd’st thy head
    From the fierce tempest of thine age
    In the lone brakes of Fontainebleau,
    Or chalets near the Alpine snow?

    Ye slumber in your silent grave!--
    The world, which for an idle day
    Grace to your mood of sadness gave,
    Long since hath flung her weeds away.
    The eternal trifler breaks your spell;
    But we--we learnt your lore too well!

    Years hence, perhaps, may dawn an age,
    More fortunate, alas! than we,
    Which without hardness will be sage,
    And gay without frivolity.
    Sons of the world, oh! speed those years;
    But, while we wait, allow our tears!

    Allow them! We admire with awe
    The exulting thunder of your race;
    You give the universe your law,
    You triumph over time and space:
    Your pride of life, your tireless powers,
    We praise them, but they are not ours.

    We are like children reared in shade
    Beneath some old-world abbey wall,
    Forgotten in a forest-glade,
    And secret from the eyes of all.
    Deep, deep the greenwood round them waves,
    Their abbey, and its close of graves!

    But, where the road runs near the stream,
    Oft through the trees they catch a glance
    Of passing troops in the sun’s beam,--
    Pennon, and plume, and flashing lance;
    Forth to the world those soldiers fare,
    To life, to cities, and to war.

    And through the woods, another way,
    Faint bugle-notes from far are borne,
    Where hunters gather, staghounds bay,
    Round some old forest-lodge at morn.
    Gay dames are there, in sylvan green;
    Laughter and cries--those notes between!

    The banners flashing through the trees
    Make their blood dance, and chain their eyes;
    That bugle-music on the breeze
    Arrests them with a charmed surprise.
    Banner by turns and bugle woo:
    _Ye shy recluses, follow too!_

    O children, what do ye reply?
    “Action and pleasure, will ye roam
    Through these secluded dells to cry
    And call us? but too late ye come!
    Too late for us your call ye blow,
    Whose bent was taken long ago.

    “Long since we pace this shadowed nave;
    We watch those yellow tapers shine,
    Emblems of hope over the grave,
    In the high altar’s depth divine.
    The organ carries to our ear
    Its accents of another sphere.

    “Fenced early in this cloistral round
    Of revery, of shade, of prayer,
    How should we grow in other ground?
    How can we flower in foreign air?
   --Pass, banners, pass, and bugles, cease;
    And leave our desert to its peace!”



_STANZAS_

IN MEMORY OF THE AUTHOR OF OBERMANN.[26]

NOVEMBER, 1849.


    In front the awful Alpine track
    Crawls up its rocky stair;
    The autumn storm-winds drive the rack,
    Close o’er it, in the air.

    Behind are the abandoned baths[27]
    Mute in their meadows lone;
    The leaves are on the valley-paths,
    The mists are on the Rhone,--

    The white mists rolling like a sea;
    I hear the torrents roar.
   --Yes, Obermann, all speaks of thee;
    I feel thee near once more.

    I turn thy leaves; I feel their breath
    Once more upon me roll;
    That air of languor, cold, and death,
    Which brooded o’er thy soul.

    Fly hence, poor wretch, whoe’er thou art,
    Condemned to cast about,
    All shipwreck in thy own weak heart,
    For comfort from without!

    A fever in these pages burns
    Beneath the calm they feign;
    A wounded human spirit turns,
    Here, on its bed of pain.

    Yes, though the virgin mountain air
    Fresh through these pages blows;
    Though to these leaves the glaciers spare
    The soul of their mute snows;

    Though here a mountain murmur swells
    Of many a dark-boughed pine;
    Though, as you read, you hear the bells
    Of the high-pasturing kine,--

    Yet through the hum of torrent lone,
    And brooding mountain bee,
    There sobs I know not what ground-tone
    Of human agony.

    Is it for this, because the sound
    Is fraught too deep with pain,
    That, Obermann! the world around
    So little loves thy strain?

    Some secrets may the poet tell,
    For the world loves new ways:
    To tell too deep ones is not well,--
    It knows not what he says.

    Yet, of the spirits who have reigned
    In this our troubled day,
    I know but two who have attained,
    Save thee, to see their way.

    By England’s lakes, in gray old age,
    His quiet home one keeps;
    And one, the strong much-toiling sage,
    In German Weimar sleeps.

    But Wordsworth’s eyes avert their ken
    From half of human fate;
    And Goethe’s course few sons of men
    May think to emulate.

    For he pursued a lonely road,
    His eyes on Nature’s plan;
    Neither made man too much a god,
    Nor God too much a man.

    Strong was he, with a spirit free
    From mists, and sane and clear;
    Clearer, how much! than ours--yet we
    Have a worse course to steer.

    For, though his manhood bore the blast
    Of a tremendous time,
    Yet in a tranquil world was passed
    His tenderer youthful prime.

    But we, brought forth and reared in hours
    Of change, alarm, surprise,--
    What shelter to grow ripe is ours?
    What leisure to grow wise?

    Like children bathing on the shore,
    Buried a wave beneath,
    The second wave succeeds before
    We have had time to breathe.

    Too fast we live, too much are tried,
    Too harassed, to attain
    Wordsworth’s sweet calm, or Goethe’s wide
    And luminous view to gain.

    And then we turn, thou sadder sage,
    To thee! we feel thy spell!
   --The hopeless tangle of our age,
    Thou too hast scanned it well.

    Immovable thou sittest, still
    As death, composed to bear;
    Thy head is clear, thy feeling chill,
    And icy thy despair.

    Yes, as the son of Thetis said,
    I hear thee saying now:
    _Greater by far than thou are dead;_
    _Strive not! die also thou!_

    Ah! two desires toss about
    The poet’s feverish blood;
    One drives him to the world without,
    And one to solitude.

    _The glow_, he cries, _the thrill of life,_
    _Where, where do these abound?_
    Not in the world, not in the strife
    Of men, shall they be found.

    He who hath watched, not shared, the strife,
    Knows how the day hath gone:
    He only lives with the world’s life,
    Who hath renounced his own.

    To thee we come, then! Clouds are rolled
    Where thou, O seer! art set;
    Thy realm of thought is drear and cold--
    The world is colder yet.

    And thou hast pleasures, too, to share
    With those who come to thee,--
    Balms floating on thy mountain air,
    And healing sights to see.

    How often, where the slopes are green
    On Jaman, hast thou sate
    By some high chalet-door, and seen
    The summer day grow late;

    And darkness steal o’er the wet grass
    With the pale crocus starred,
    And reach that glimmering sheet of glass
    Beneath the piny sward,--

    Lake Leman’s waters, far below;
    And watched the rosy light
    Fade from the distant peaks of snow;
    And on the air of night

    Heard accents of the eternal tongue
    Through the pine branches play,--
    Listened, and felt thyself grow young!
    Listened, and wept-- Away!

    Away the dreams that but deceive!
    And thou, sad guide, adieu!
    I go, fate drives me; but I leave
    Half of my life with you.

    We, in some unknown Power’s employ,
    Move on a rigorous line;
    Can neither, when we will, enjoy,
    Nor, when we will, resign.

    I in the world must live; but thou,
    Thou melancholy shade!
    Wilt not, if thou canst see me now,
    Condemn me, nor upbraid.

    For thou art gone away from earth,
    And place with those dost claim,
    The children of the second birth,
    Whom the world could not tame;

    And with that small transfigured band,
    Whom many a different way
    Conducted to their common land,
    Thou learn’st to think as they

    Christian and Pagan, king and slave,
    Soldier and anchorite,
    Distinctions we esteem so grave,
    Are nothing in their sight.

    They do not ask, who pined unseen,
    Who was on action hurled,
    Whose one bond is, that all have been
    Unspotted by the world.

    There without anger thou wilt see
    Him who obeys thy spell
    No more, so he but rest, like thee,
    Unsoiled; and so, farewell!

    Farewell! Whether thou now liest near
    That much-loved inland sea,
    The ripples of whose blue waves cheer
    Vevey and Meillerie;

    And in that gracious region bland,
    Where with clear-rustling wave
    The scented pines of Switzerland
    Stand dark round thy green grave,--

    Between the dusty vineyard-walls
    Issuing on that green place,
    The early peasant still recalls
    The pensive stranger’s face,--

    And stoops to clear thy moss-grown date
    Ere he plods on again;
    Or whether, by maligner fate,
    Among the swarms of men,--

    Where between granite terraces
    The blue Seine rolls her wave,
    The Capital of Pleasure sees
    Thy hardly-heard-of grave,--

    Farewell! Under the sky we part,
    In this stern Alpine dell.
    O unstrung will! O broken heart!
    A last, a last farewell!



_OBERMANN ONCE MORE._

(COMPOSED MANY YEARS AFTER THE PRECEDING.)

    _Savez-vous quelque bien qui console du regret d’un monde?_
                              OBERMANN.


    Glion? Ah! twenty years, it cuts[28]
    All meaning from a name!
    White houses prank where once were huts;
    Glion, but not the same!

    And yet I know not! All unchanged
    The turf, the pines, the sky!
    The hills in their old order ranged;
    The lake, with Chillon by;

    And ’neath those chestnut-trees, where stiff
    And stony mounts the way,
    The crackling husk-heaps burn, as if
    I left them yesterday.

    Across the valley, on that slope,
    The huts of Avant shine;
    Its pines, under their branches, ope
    Ways for the pasturing kine.

    Full-foaming milk-pails, Alpine fare,
    Sweet heaps of fresh-cut grass,
    Invite to rest the traveller there
    Before he climb the pass,--

    The gentian-flowered pass, its crown[29]
    With yellow spires aflame;
    Whence drops the path to Allière down,
    And walls where Byron came;[30]

    By their green river, who doth change
    His birth-name just below,
    Orchard and croft and full-stored grange
    Nursed by his pastoral flow.

    But stop! to fetch back thoughts that stray
    Beyond this gracious bound,
    The cone of Jaman, pale and gray,
    See, in the blue profound!

    Ah, Jaman! delicately tall
    Above his sun-warmed firs,--
    What thoughts to me his rocks recall,
    What memories he stirs!

    And who but thou must be, in truth,
    Obermann! with me here?
    Thou master of my wandering youth,
    But left this many a year!

    Yes, I forget the world’s work wrought,
    Its warfare waged with pain:
    An eremite with thee, in thought
    Once more I slip my chain,--

    And to thy mountain chalet come,
    And lie beside its door,
    And hear the wild bee’s Alpine hum,
    And thy sad, tranquil lore.

    Again I feel the words inspire
    Their mournful calm; serene,
    Yet tinged with infinite desire
    For all that _might_ have been,--

    The harmony from which man swerved
    Made his life’s rule once more;
    The universal order served,
    Earth happier than before.

   --While thus I mused, night gently ran
    Down over hill and wood.
    Then, still and sudden, Obermann
    On the grass near me stood.

    Those pensive features well I knew,--
    On my mind, years before,
    Imaged so oft, imaged so true!
   --A shepherd’s garb he wore;

    A mountain flower was in his hand,
    A book was in his breast.
    Bent on my face, with gaze which scanned
    My soul, his eyes did rest.

    “And is it thou,” he cried, “so long
    Held by the world which we
    Loved not, who turnest from the throng
    Back to thy youth and me?

    “And from thy world, with heart opprest,
    Choosest thou _now_ to turn?
    Ah me! we anchorites read things best,
    Clearest their course discern!

    “Thou fled’st me when the ungenial earth,
    Man’s work-place, lay in gloom:
    Return’st thou in her hour of birth,
    Of hopes and hearts in bloom?

    “Perceiv’st thou not the change of day?
    Ah! Carry back thy ken,
    What, some two thousand years! Survey
    The world as it was then.

    “Like ours it looked in outward air.
    Its head was clear and true,
    Sumptuous its clothing, rich its fare,
    No pause its action knew;

    “Stout was its arm, each thew and bone
    Seemed puissant and alive:
    But, ah! its heart, its heart was stone,
    And so it could not thrive!

    “On that hard Pagan world, disgust
    And secret loathing fell;
    Deep weariness and sated lust
    Made human life a hell.

    “In his cool hall, with haggard eyes,
    The Roman noble lay;
    He drove abroad, in furious guise,
    Along the Appian Way.

    “He made a feast, drank fierce and fast,
    And crowned his hair with flowers;
    No easier nor no quicker passed
    The impracticable hours.

    “The brooding East with awe beheld
    Her impious younger world.
    The Roman tempest swelled and swelled,
    And on her head was hurled.

    “The East bowed low before the blast
    In patient, deep disdain;
    She let the legions thunder past,
    And plunged in thought again.

    “So well she mused, a morning broke
    Across her spirit gray;
    A conquering, new-born joy awoke,
    And filled her life with day.

    “‘Poor world!’ she cried, ‘so deep accurst,
    That runn’st from pole to pole
    To seek a draught to slake thy thirst.--
    Go, seek it in thy soul!’

    “She heard it, the victorious West,
    In crown and sword arrayed;
    She felt the void which mined her breast,
    She shivered and obeyed.

    “She vailed her eagles, snapped her sword,
    And laid her sceptre down;
    Her stately purple she abhorred,
    And her imperial crown.

    “She broke her flutes, she stopped her sports,
    Her artists could not please.
    She tore her books, she shut her courts,
    She fled her palaces.

    “Lust of the eye, and pride of life,
    She left it all behind,
    And hurried, torn with inward strife,
    The wilderness to find.

    “Tears washed the trouble from her face;
    She changed into a child;
    ’Mid weeds and wrecks she stood,--a place
    Of ruin,--but she smiled!

    “Oh, had I lived in that great day,
    How had its glory new
    Filled earth and heaven, and caught away
    My ravished spirit too!

    “No thoughts that to the world belong
    Had stood against the wave
    Of love which set so deep and strong
    From Christ’s then open grave.

    “No cloister-floor of humid stone
    Had been too cold for me;
    For me no Eastern desert lone
    Had been too far to flee.

    “No lonely life had passed too slow,
    When I could hourly scan
    Upon his cross, with head sunk low,
    That nailed, thorn-crownèd Man;
    “Could see the Mother with the Child
    Whose tender winning arts
    Have to his little arms beguiled
    So many wounded hearts!

    “And centuries came, and ran their course;
    And, unspent all that time,
    Still, still went forth that Child’s dear force,
    And still was at its prime.

    “Ay, ages long endured his span
    Of life,--’tis true received,--
    That gracious Child, that thorn-crowned Man!
   --He lived while we believed.

    “While we believed, on earth he went,
    And open stood his grave;
    Men called from chamber, church, and tent,
    And Christ was by to save.

    “Now he is dead! Far hence he lies
    In the lorn Syrian town;
    And on his grave, with shining eyes,
    The Syrian stars look down.

    “In vain men still, with hoping new,
    Regard his death-place dumb,
    And say the stone is not yet to,
    And wait for words to come.

    “Ah! from that silent sacred land
    Of sun, and arid stone,
    And crumbling wall, and sultry sand,
    Comes now one word alone!

    “From David’s lips that word did roll;
    ’Tis true and living yet,--
    _No man can save his brother’s soul,_
    _Nor pay his brother’s debt._

    “Alone, self-poised, henceforward man
    Must labor; must resign
    His all too human creeds, and scan
    Simply the way divine;

    “But slow that tide of common thought,
    Which bathed our life, retired;
    Slow, slow the old world wore to naught,
    And pulse by pulse expired.

    “Its frame yet stood without a breach,
    When blood and warmth were fled;
    And still it spake its wonted speech,
    But every word was dead.

    “And oh! we cried, that on this corse
    Might fall a freshening storm!
    Rive its dry bones, and with new force
    A new-sprung world inform!

    “--Down came the storm! O’er France it passed
    In sheets of scathing fire.
    All Europe felt that fiery blast,
    And shook as it rushed by her.

    “Down came the storm! In ruins fell
    The worn-out world we knew.
    It passed, that elemental swell:
    Again appeared the blue;

    “The sun shone in the new-washed sky.
   --And what from heaven saw he?
    Blocks of the past, like icebergs high,
    Float on a rolling sea!

    “Upon them plies the race of man
    All it before endeavored:
    ‘Ye live,’ I cried, ‘ye work and plan,
    And know not ye are severed!

    “‘Poor fragments of a broken world,
    Whereon men pitch their tent!
    Why were ye too to death not hurled
    When your world’s day was spent?

    “‘That glow of central fire is done
    Which with its fusing flame
    Knit all your parts, and kept you one;
    But ye, ye are the same!

    “‘The past, its mask of union on,
    Had ceased to live and thrive:
    The past, its mask of union gone,
    Say, is it more alive?

    “‘Your creeds are dead, your rites are dead,
    Your social order too.
    Where tarries he, the Power who said,--
    _See, I make all things new?_

    “‘The millions suffer still, and grieve.
    And what can helpers heal
    With old-world cures men half believe
    For woes they wholly feel?

    “‘And yet men have such need of joy!
    But joy whose grounds are true,
    And joy that should all hearts employ
    As when the past was new.

    “‘Ah! not the emotion of that past,
    Its common hope, were vain!
    Some new such hope must dawn at last,
    Or man must toss in pain.

    “‘But now the old is out of date,
    The new is not yet born.
    And who can be _alone_ elate,
    While the world lies forlorn?’

    “Then to the wilderness I fled.
    There among Alpine snows
    And pastoral huts I hid my head,
    And sought and found repose.

    “It was not yet the appointed hour.
    Sad, patient, and resigned,
    I watched the crocus fade and flower,
    I felt the sun and wind.

    “The day I lived in was not mine:
    Man gets no second day.
    In dreams I saw the future shine,
    But ah! I could not stay!

    “Action I had not, followers, fame.
    I passed obscure, alone.
    The after-world forgets my name,
    Nor do I wish it known.

    “Composed to bear, I lived and died,
    And knew my life was vain.
    With fate I murmur not, nor chide.
    At Sèvres by the Seine

    “(If Paris that brief flight allow)
    My humble tomb explore!
    It bears: _Eternity, be thou
    My refuge!_ and no more.

    “But thou, whom fellowship of mood
    Did make from haunts of strife
    Come to my mountain solitude,
    And learn my frustrate life;

    “O thou, who, ere thy flying span
    Was past of cheerful youth,
    Didst find the solitary man,
    And love his cheerless truth,--

    “Despair not thou as I despaired,
    Nor be cold gloom thy prison!
    Forward the gracious hours have fared,
    And see! the sun is risen!

    “He breaks the winter of the past;
    A green, new earth appears.
    Millions, whose life in ice lay fast,
    Have thoughts and smiles and tears.

    “What though there still need effort, strife?
    Though much be still unwon?
    Yet warm it mounts, the hour of life;
    Death’s frozen hour is done.

    “The world’s great order dawns in sheen
    After long darkness rude,
    Divinelier imaged, clearer seen,
    With happier zeal pursued.

    “With hope extinct, and brow composed,
    I marked the present die;
    Its term of life was nearly closed,
    Yet it had more than I.

    “But thou, though to the world’s new hour
    Thou come with aspect marred,
    Shorn of the joy, the bloom, the power,
    Which best befits its bard;

    “Though more than half thy years be past,
    And spent thy youthful prime;
    Though, round thy firmer manhood cast,
    Hang weeds of our sad time

    “Whereof thy youth felt all the spell,
    And traversed all the shade,--
    Though late, though dimmed, though weak, yet tell
    Hope to a world new-made!

    “Help it to fill that deep desire,
    The want which crazed our brain,
    Consumed our soul with thirst like fire,
    Immedicable pain;

    “Which to the wilderness drove out
    Our life, to Alpine snow,
    And palsied all our word with doubt,
    And all our work with woe.

    “What still of strength is left, employ,
    This end to help attain:
    _One common wave of thought and joy_
    _Lifting mankind again!_”

   --The vision ended. I awoke
    As out of sleep, and no
    Voice moved: only the torrent broke
    The silence, far below.

    Soft darkness on the turf did lie;
    Solemn, o’er hut and wood,
    In the yet star-sown nightly sky,
    The peak of Jaman stood.

    Still in my soul the voice I heard
    Of Obermann! Away
    I turned; by some vague impulse stirred,
    Along the rocks of Naye,--

    Past Sonchaud’s piny flanks I gaze,
    And the blanched summit bare
    Of Malatrait, to where in haze
    The Valais opens fair,

    And the domed Velan, with his snows,
    Behind the upcrowding hills,
    Doth all the heavenly opening close
    Which the Rhone’s murmur fills;

    And glorious there, without a sound,
    Across the glimmering lake,
    High in the Valais-depth profound,
    I saw the morning break.



NOTES.


  NOTE [1], PAGE 2.

 _Saw The Wide Prospect, and the Asian Fen._

 The name Europe (Εὐρώπη, _the wide prospect_) probably describes the
 appearance of the European coast to the Greeks on the coast of Asia
 Minor opposite. The name Asia, again, comes, it has been thought, from
 the muddy fens of the rivers of Asia Minor, such as the Cayster or
 Mæander, which struck the imagination of the Greeks living near them.

  NOTE [2], PAGE 8.

 _Mycerinus._

 “After Chephren, Mycerinus, son of Cheops, reigned over Egypt. He
 abhorred his father’s courses, and judged his subjects more justly
 than any of their kings had done. To him there came an oracle from the
 city of Buto, to the effect that he was to live but six years longer,
 and to die in the seventh year from that time.”--HERODOTUS.

  NOTE [3], PAGE 37.

 _Stagirius._

 Stagirius was a young monk to whom St. Chrysostom addressed three
 books, and of whom those books give an account. They will be found in
 the first volume of the Benedictine edition of St. Chrysostom’s works.

  NOTE [4], PAGE 51.

 _That wayside inn we left to-day._

 Those who have been long familiar with the English Lake Country will
 find no difficulty in recalling, from the description in the text, the
 roadside inn at Wythburn, on the descent from Dunmail Raise towards
 Keswick; its sedentary landlord of thirty years ago; and the passage
 over the Wythburn Fells to Watendlath.

  NOTE [5], PAGE 59.

 _Sohrab and Rustum._

 The story of Sohrab and Rustum is told in Sir John Malcolm’s “History
 of Persia,” as follows:--

 “The young Sohrab was the fruit of one of Rustum’s early amours. He
 had left his mother, and sought fame under the banners of Afrasiab,
 whose armies he commanded; and soon obtained a renown beyond that
 of all contemporary heroes but his father. He had carried death and
 dismay into the ranks of the Persians, and had terrified the boldest
 warriors of that country, before Rustum encountered him, which at last
 that hero resolved to do under a feigned name. They met three times.
 The first time, they parted by mutual consent, though Sohrab had the
 advantage; the second, the youth obtained a victory, but granted
 life to his unknown father; the third was fatal to Sohrab, who, when
 writhing in the pangs of death, warned his conqueror to shun the
 vengeance that is inspired by parental woes, and bade him dread the
 rage of the mighty Rustum, who must soon learn that he had slain his
 son Sohrab. These words, we are told, were as death to the aged hero;
 and when he recovered from a trance, he called in despair for proofs
 of what Sohrab had said. The afflicted and dying youth tore open his
 mail, and showed his father a seal which his mother had placed on his
 arm when she discovered to him the secret of his birth, and bade him
 seek his father. The sight of his own signet rendered Rustum quite
 frantic: he cursed himself, attempting to put an end to his existence,
 and was only prevented by the efforts of his expiring son. After
 Sohrab’s death, he burned his tents and all his goods, and carried
 the corpse to Seistan, where it was interred; the army of Turan was,
 agreeably to the last request of Sohrab, permitted to cross the Oxus
 unmolested. To reconcile us to the improbability of this tale, we are
 informed that Rustum could have no idea his son was in existence. The
 mother of Sohrab had written to him her child was a daughter, fearing
 to lose her darling infant if she revealed the truth; and Rustum, as
 before stated, fought under a feigned name, an usage not uncommon in
 the chivalrous combats of those days.”

  NOTE [6], PAGE 94.


 _Balder Dead._

 “Balder the Good having been tormented with terrible dreams,
 indicating that his life was in great peril, communicated them to
 the assembled Æsir, who resolved to conjure all things to avert from
 him the threatened danger. Then Frigga exacted an oath from fire and
 water, from iron and all other metals, as well as from stones, earths,
 diseases, beasts, birds, poisons, and creeping things, that none of
 them would do any harm to Balder. When this was done, it became a
 favorite pastime of the Æsir, at their meetings, to get Balder to
 stand up and serve them as a mark, some hurling darts at him, some
 stones, while others hewed at him with their swords and battle-axes;
 for, do they what they would, none of them could harm him, and this
 was regarded by all as a great honor shown to Balder. But when Loki
 beheld the scene, he was sorely vexed that Balder was not hurt.
 Assuming, therefore, the shape of a woman, he went to Fensalir,
 the mansion of Frigga. That goddess, when she saw the pretended
 woman, inquired of her if she knew what the Æsir were doing at their
 meetings. She replied, that they were throwing darts and stones at
 Balder without being able to hurt him.

 “‘Ay,’ said Frigga, ’neither metal nor wood can hurt Balder, for I
 have exacted an oath from all of them.’

 “‘What!’ exclaimed the woman, ‘have all things sworn to spare Balder?’

 “‘All things,’ replied Frigga, ‘except one little shrub that grows on
 the eastern side of Valhalla, and is called Mistletoe, and which I
 thought too young and feeble to crave an oath from.’

 “As soon as Loki heard this, he went away, and, resuming his natural
 shape, cut off the mistletoe, and repaired to the place where the gods
 were assembled. There he found Hödur standing apart, without partaking
 of the sports, on account of his blindness; and going up to him said,
 ‘Why dost thou not also throw something at Balder?’ “‘Because I
 am blind,’ answered Hödur, ‘and see not where Balder is, and have,
 moreover, nothing to throw with.’

 “‘Come, then,’ said Loki, ‘do like the rest, and show honor to Balder
 by throwing this twig at him, and I will direct thy arm toward the
 place where he stands.’

 “Hödur then took the mistletoe, and, under the guidance of Loki,
 darted it at Balder, who, pierced through and through, fell down
 lifeless.”--_Edda._

  NOTE [7], PAGE 131.

 _Tristram and Iseult._

 “In the court of his uncle King Marc, the king of Cornwall, who
 at this time resided at the castle of Tyntagel, Tristram became
 expert in all knightly exercises. The king of Ireland, at Tristram’s
 solicitations, promised to bestow his daughter Iseult in marriage on
 King Marc. The mother of Iseult gave to her daughter’s confidante
 a philtre, or love-potion, to be administered on the night of her
 nuptials. Of this beverage Tristram and Iseult, on their voyage to
 Cornwall, unfortunately partook. Its influence, during the remainder
 of their lives, regulated the affections and destiny of the lovers.

 “After the arrival of Tristram and Iseult in Cornwall, and the
 nuptials of the latter with King Marc, a great part of the
 romance is occupied with their contrivances to procure secret
 interviews.--Tristram, being forced to leave Cornwall on account of
 the displeasure of his uncle, repaired to Brittany, where lived Iseult
 with the White Hands. He married her, more out of gratitude than love.
 Afterwards he proceeded to the dominions of Arthur, which became the
 theatre of unnumbered exploits.

 “Tristram, subsequent to these events, returned to Brittany, and
 to his long-neglected wife. There, being wounded and sick, he was
 soon reduced to the lowest ebb. In this situation, he dispatched a
 confidant to the queen of Cornwall, to try if he could induce her to
 accompany him to Brittany,” etc.--DUNLOP’S _History of Fiction_.

  NOTE [8], PAGE 167.

 _That son of Italy who tried to blow._

 Giacopone di Todi.

  NOTE [9], PAGE 172.

 _Recalls the obscure opposer he outweighed._

 Gilbert de la Porrée, at the Council of Rheims in 1148.

  NOTE [10], PAGE 173.

 _Of that unpitying Phrygian sect which cried._

 The Montanists.

  NOTE [11], PAGE 174.

 _Monica._

 See St. Augustine’s “Confessions,” book ix. chapter 11.

  NOTE [12], PAGE 175.

 _My Marguerite smiles upon the strand._

 See, among “Early Poems,” the poem called “A Memory-Picture,” p. 23.

  NOTE [13], PAGE 199.

 _The Hunter of the Tanagræan Field._

 Orion, the Wild Huntsman of Greek legend, and in this capacity
 appearing in both earth and sky.

  NOTE [14], PAGE 200.

 _O’er the sun-reddened western straits._

 Erytheia, the legendary region around the Pillars of Hercules,
 probably took its name from the redness of the west under which the
 Greeks saw it.

  NOTE [15], PAGE 222.

 _Of the sun-loving gentian, in the heat._

 The _gentiana lutea_.

  NOTE [16], PAGE 246.

 _Ye Sun-born Virgins! on the road of truth._

 See the Fragments of Parmenides:--

    ......κοῦραι δʹ ὁδὀν ἡγεμόνευον,
    ἡλἱαδες κοῦραι, προλιποῦσαι δὠματα νυκτός,
    εἰς ϕάος............



  NOTE [17], PAGE 291.

 _The Scholar-Gypsy._

 “There was very lately a lad in the University of Oxford, who was by
 his poverty forced to leave his studies there; and at last to join
 himself to a company of vagabond gypsies. Among these extravagant
 people, by the insinuating subtilty of his carriage, he quickly got
 so much of their love and esteem as that they discovered to him their
 mystery. After he had been a pretty while exercised in the trade,
 there chanced to ride by a couple of scholars, who had formerly been
 of his acquaintance. They quickly spied out their old friend among
 the gypsies; and he gave them an account of the necessity which drove
 him to that kind of life, and told them that the people he went with
 were not such impostors as they were taken for, but that they had
 a traditional kind of learning among them, and could do wonders by
 the power of imagination, their fancy binding that of others; that
 himself had learned much of their art, and when he had compassed the
 whole secret, he intended, he said, to leave their company, and give
 the world an account of what he had learned.”--GLANVIL’S _Vanity of
 Dogmatizing_, 1661.

  NOTE [18], PAGE 299.

 _Thyrsis._

 Throughout this poem there is reference to the preceding piece, “The
 Scholar-Gypsy.”

  NOTE [19], PAGE 305.

 _Young Daphnis with his silver voice doth sing._

 Daphnis, the ideal Sicilian shepherd of Greek pastoral poetry, was
 said to have followed into Phrygia his mistress Piplea, who had
 been carried off by robbers, and to have found her in the power of
 the king of Phrygia, Lityerses. Lityerses used to make strangers
 try a contest with him in reaping corn, and to put them to death if
 he overcame them. Hercules arrived in time to save Daphnis, took
 upon himself the reaping-contest with Lityerses, overcame him, and
 slew him. The Lityerses-song connected with this tradition was,
 like the Linus-song, one of the early plaintive strains of Greek
 popular poetry, and used to be sung by corn-reapers. Other traditions
 represented Daphnis as beloved by a nymph who exacted from him an oath
 to love no one else. He fell in love with a princess, and was struck
 blind by the jealous nymph. Mercury, who was his father, raised him
 to heaven, and made a fountain spring up in the place from which he
 ascended. At this fountain the Sicilians offered yearly sacrifices.
 See SERVIUS, _Comment. in Virgil. Bucol._, v. 20 and viii. 68.

  NOTE [20], PAGE 312.

 _Ah! where is he, who should have come._

 The author’s brother, William Delafield Arnold, Director of Public
 Instruction in the Punjab, and author of “Oakfield, or Fellowship in
 the East,” died at Gibraltar, on his way home from India, April the
 9th, 1859.

  NOTE [21], PAGE 313.

 _So moonlit, saw me once of yore._

 See the poem, “A Summer Night,” p. 278.

  NOTE [22], PAGE 313.

 _My brother! and thine early lot._

 See Note 20.

  NOTE [23], PAGE 317.

    _I saw the meeting of two
      Gifted women._

 Charlotte Brontë and Harriet Martineau.

  NOTE [24], PAGE 320.

 _Whose too bold dying song._

 See the last lines written by Emily Brontë, in “Poems by Currer,
 Ellis, and Acton Bell.”

  NOTE [25], PAGE 334.

 _Goethe too had been there._

 See _Harzreise im Winter_, in Goethe’s _Gedichte_.

  NOTE [26], PAGE 342.

 The author of _Obermann_, Étienne Pivert de Senancour, has little
 celebrity in France, his own country; and out of France he is almost
 unknown. But the profound inwardness, the austere sincerity, of his
 principal work, _Obermann_, the delicate feeling for nature which it
 exhibits, and the melancholy eloquence of many passages of it, have
 attracted and charmed some of the most remarkable spirits of this
 century, such as George Sand and Sainte-Beuve, and will probably
 always find a certain number of spirits whom they touch and interest.

 Senancour was born in 1770. He was educated for the priesthood, and
 passed some time in the Seminary of St. Sulpice; broke away from the
 seminary and from France itself, and passed some years in Switzerland,
 where he married; returned to France in middle life, and followed
 thenceforward the career of a man of letters, but with hardly any fame
 or success. He died an old man in 1846, desiring that on his grave
 might be placed these words only: _Éternité, deviens mon asile!_

 The influence of Rousseau, and certain affinities with more famous
 and fortunate authors of his own day,--Chateaubriand and Madame de
 Staël,--are everywhere visible in Senancour. But though, like these
 eminent personages, he may be called a sentimental writer, and though
 _Obermann_, a collection of letters from Switzerland treating almost
 entirely of nature and of the human soul, may be called a work of
 sentiment, Senancour has a gravity and severity which distinguish him
 from all other writers of the sentimental school. The world is with
 him in his solitude far less than it is with them; of all writers,
 he is the most perfectly isolated and the least attitudinizing. His
 chief work, too, has a value and power of its own, apart from these
 merits of its author. The stir of all the main forces by which modern
 life is and has been impelled lives in the letters of _Obermann_; the
 dissolving agencies of the eighteenth century, the fiery storm of the
 French Revolution, the first faint promise and dawn of that new world
 which our own time is but now fully bringing to light,--all these are
 to be felt, almost to be touched, there. To me, indeed, it will always
 seem that the impressiveness of this production can hardly be rated
 too high.

 Besides _Obermann_, there is one other of Senancour’s works which, for
 those spirits who feel his attraction, is very interesting: its title
 is _Libres Méditations d’un Solitaire Inconnu_.

  NOTE [27], PAGE 342.

 _Behind are the abandoned baths._

 The Baths of Leuk. This poem was conceived, and partly composed, in
 the valley going down from the foot of the Gemmi Pass towards the
 Rhone.

  NOTE [28], PAGE 348.

 _Glion? Ah! twenty years, it cuts._

 Probably all who know the Vevey end of the Lake of Geneva will
 recollect Glion, the mountain village above the Castle of Chillon.
 Glion now has hotels, _pensions_, and villas; but twenty years ago it
 was hardly more than the huts of Avant opposite to it,--huts through
 which goes that beautiful path over the Col de Jaman, followed by so
 many foot-travellers on their way from Vevey to the Simmenthal and
 Thun.

  NOTE [29], PAGE 349.

 _The gentian-flowered pass, its crown._

 See Note 15.

  NOTE [30], PAGE 349.

 _And walls where Byron came._

 Montbovon. See Byron’s Journal, in his “Works,” vol. iii. p. 258. The
 river Saane becomes the Sarine below Montbovon.

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Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 13 Astor Place, N.Y.

       *       *       *       *       *

“_Remember Jacob Abbott’s sensible rule to give children something that
they are growing up to, not away from, and keep down the stock of
children’s books to the very best._”

CLASSIC JUVENILES

BY JACOB ABBOTT,

“_The Prince of Writers for the Young._”


[Illustration]

“Jacob Abbott’s books contain so much practical wisdom concerning the
every-day life of children, and so many lessons in honor, truthfulness,
and courtesy, that they should not be left out of the libraries of boys
and girls.”--_From “Books for the Young,” compiled by C. M. Hewins,
Librarian of the Hartford Library Association._

[Illustration]

  =ABBOTT’S AMERICAN HISTORIES FOR YOUTH.= 8 vols.
  Illustrated by Darley, Herrick, Chapin, and others. 12mo      $10.00

     I. Aboriginal America.
    II. Discovery of America.
   III. The Southern Colonies.
    IV. The Northern Colonies.
     V. Wars of the Colonies.
    VI. The Revolt of the Colonies.
   VII. The War of the Revolution.
  VIII. George Washington.

  =THE ROLLO BOOKS.= 14 vols. Illustrated. 16mo      14.00

  Rollo Learning to Talk.
  Rollo Learning to Read.
  Rollo at Work.
  Rollo at Play.
  Rollo at School.
  Rollo’s Vacation.
  Rollo’s Experiments.
  Rollo’s Museum.
  Rollo’s Travels.
  Rollo’s Correspondence.
  Rollo’s Philosophy--Water.
  Rollo’s Philosophy--Air.
  Rollo’s Philosophy--Fire.
  Rollo’s Philosophy--Sky.

  =THE JONAS BOOKS.= 6 vols. Illustrated. 16mo      6.00

  Jonas a Judge.
  Caleb in Town.
  Caleb in the Country.
  Jonas’s Stories.
  Jonas on a Farm in Summer.
  Jonas on a Farm in Winter.

  =THE LUCY BOOKS.= 6 vols. Illustrated. 16mo      6.00

  Lucy Among the Mountains.
  Lucy’s Conversations.
  Lucy on the Sea Shore.
  Lucy at Study.
  Lucy at Play.
  Stories Told to Cousin Lucy.

  =AUGUST STORIES.= 4 vols. Illustrated. 16mo      5.00

  August and Elvie.
  Hunter and Tom.
  Schooner Mary Ann.
  Granville Valley.

  =JUNO STORIES.= 4 vols. Illustrated. 16mo      5.00

  Hubert.
  Juno and Georgie.
  Juno on a Journey.
  Mary Osborne.

 =Tennyson’s Complete Poems.= Illustrated Edition, with Portrait and
 24 Full Page Illustrations by celebrated Artists. Engraved by Geo. T.
 Andrew. Uniform in size and style with Cambridge Book of Poetry. Royal
 8vo.

  Cloth, gilt          $5.00
  Morocco, gilt       $10.00
  Tree calf           $12.00

 =The Cambridge Book of Poetry and Song.= Selected from English
 and American Authors, by CHARLOTTE F. BATES. Illustrated
 by the best artists. Containing many selections found in no other
 compilation. Carefully indexed and a most attractive and valuable book
 of reference. Royal 8vo.

  Cloth, gilt        $5.00
  Half morocco        7.50
  Full morocco      $10.00
  Tree calf          12.00

 =Initials and Pseudonyms. A Dictionary of Literary Disguises.= Edited
 by WILLIAM CUSHING. 8vo.

  Cloth             $5.00
  Half morocco      $7.50

 =A Dictionary of Poetical Quotations.= Based upon that of Henry G.
 Bohn. _Revised_, _Corrected_, and _Enlarged_ by the addition of over
 1200 Quotations. By ANNA L. WARD. Crown 8vo.

  Bevelled boards         $2.50
  Interleaved edition     $3.50

 =Her Majesty’s Tower.= By W. HEPWORTH DIXON. A History of the
 Tower of London. 2 vols. 12mo. 47 Illustrations $4.00

 =Foster’s Cyclopædias of Illustrations.= Containing over 16,000
 Quotations from Prose and Poetic Literature, on all subjects which
 come within the range of Christian Teaching. Prose Illustrations,
 Vols. I. and II.; Poetical Illustrations, Vols. I. and II. Price in
 cloth, $5.00; in sheep, $6.00 per volume.

 =Conybeare & Howson’s Life of St. Paul.= 12mo.

  Illustrated edition      $1.50
  Popular edition          $1.00

 =Red Letter Poems.= By English men and women. Illustrated edition. 24
 Full Page Illustrations. 8vo.

  Cloth, gilt               $3.50
  Morocco, or tree calf      7.50

 =George Eliot’s Poems.= 8vo. Illustrated edition.

  Cloth, gilt                4.50
  Morocco, or tree calf      9.00

  =George Eliot’s Works.= 8 vols. 12mo. Cloth      10.00

  =Hawthorne’s Complete Works.= 6 vols. 16mo. Cloth     10.00

  =Lytton’s (Bulwer) Works.= 13 vols. 12mo      16.25

  =Walton’s Complete Angler.= With 86 Illustrations. From
  Major’s 4th edition      2.00

  =Charles Lamb’s Works.= 3 vols. 12mo      3.75

  =Disraeli’s Works.= 6 vols. 12mo      7.50

  =Milman’s Works.= 8 vols. 12mo      12.00

  =Dickens’ Works.= 15 vols. 12mo      18.75

  =Thackeray’s Works.= 11 vols. 12mo      13.75

  =Waverley Novels.= 12 vols. 12mo      15.00

  =Princes, Authors and Statesmen of our Time.= By JAMES
  T. FIELDS, E. P. WHIPPLE, CANON FARRAR, LOUISE CHANDLER
  MOULTON and others, with 50 Illustrations. 8vo      2.75

  =The Poor Boy and the Merchant Prince=; OR, THE LIFE OF
  AMOS LAWRENCE. 16mo. By WILLIAM M. THAYER      1.00

  =The Good Girl and the True Woman=; OR, THE LIFE OF
  MARY LYON. 16mo. By WILLIAM M. THAYER      1.00

  =Nelson=; OR, HOW A COUNTRY BOY MADE HIS WAY IN THE CITY.
  Being Incidents in the Life of a Successful Merchant of Boston.
  16mo. By WILLIAM M. THAYER      1.25

  =Poor Boys who Became Famous.= By SARAH K. BOLTON.
  Short biographical sketches of George Peabody, Horace Greeley,
  Bayard Taylor, Michael Faraday, and other Noted People, with
  numerous portraits. 12mo      1.50

  =General Gordon, The Christian Hero.= A careful and well-written
  life of this Knightly Soldier, especially adapted to
  young people. 12mo      1.25

  =Little Arthur’s England.= By Lady CALCOTT. With 36 Illustrations.
  Elegantly printed and bound in red cloth, giving in
  concise and easy language all the essential facts of English History
  for young People. 12mo. Cloth      1.25

  =Little Arthur’s France.= On the plan of Little Arthur’s
  England, and bound in uniform style. 12mo      1.25

     “Exceptionally fitted to interest and instruct young
     people.”--_Boston Advertiser._

  =Off to the Wilds.= By GEO. MANVILLE FENN. A Story of Hunting
  Adventures in South Africa. A favorite book with the boys.
  Sq. 8vo. Fully Illustrated      1.75

  =The Mutiny on Board the Leander.= By BERNARD HELDMANN.
  A Story of Strange Adventures in the Southern Pacific.
  Sq. 8vo. 24 Illustrations      1.75

  =Martin the Skipper.= By JAMES F. COBB, author of “The
  Watchers on the Longships,” etc. A Tale for Boys and Seafaring
  Folk. 12mo      1.50

  =The Watchers on the Longships.= By JAMES F. COBB. A
  Story of Thrilling Interest, founded on fact, illustrating Moral
  Heroism and Faithfulness to Duty. 12mo      1.50

  =A Home in the Holy Land.= By MRS. FINN. An excellent
  and faithful Description of Home Life in the Holy Land at the
  Present Day. 12mo      1.50

  =The Farmer Boy=; OR, HOW HE BECAME COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF.
  The Life of George Washington. By Uncle Juvenal. 16mo      1.00

  =A Year at Poplar Row.= By MARCH ELLINWOOD. A noble
  ideal of Christian Girlhood and Young Womanhood. 12mo      1.25

  =Hints to Our Boys.= By A. J. SYMINGTON, with an Introduction
  by LYMAN ABBOTT, D.D. Square 16mo      .75

  =Abbott’s American Histories for Youth.= 8 vols. Illustrated.
  12mo, $10.00. 4 vols      6.00

  =August Stories.= 4 vols. Illustrated. 16mo      4.50

  =Juno Stories.= 4 vols. Illustrated. 16mo      4.50

  =The Jonas Books.= 6 vols. Illustrated. 16mo      5.00

  =The Lucy Books.= 6 vols. Illustrated. 16mo      5.00

  =The Rollo Books.= 14 vols. Illustrated. 16mo      12.00

 _Millions_ of copies of Jacob Abbott’s books have been sold, and they
 have become classics among the Literature for children.





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