Girlhood, the dearest time of joy and love,
The sunny spring of gladness and of peace,
The time that joins its links with heaven above,
And all that's pure below; a running ease
Of careless thought beguiles the murmuring stream
Of girlish life, and as some sweet, vague dream,
The fleeting days go by; fair womanhood
Comes oft to lure the girlish feet away,
But by the brooklet still they love to stray,
Nor long to seek the world's engulfing flood.
Hilda--a name that seems to stand alone--
So strong, so clear it sharply echoing tone;
And yet a name that holds a weirdlike grace,
Withal like some strange, haunting, beauteous face;
A woman's name, by woman's truth made dear,
That leans upon itself and knows no fear,
And yet a name a shrinking girl might wear,
With girlish ease, devoid of thought and care.
And she is worthy of this name so true--
This girl with thoughtful eyes of darkest hue,
This maiden stepping o'er the golden line
That separates the child from woman divine.
Not yet she feels the longing, vague unrest
That ever fills the woman's throbbing breast,
But with a childlike questioning after truth,
She lingers yet amid the dreams of youth.
And now upon the bounding ocean's shore
She stands where creep the wavelets more and more,
Until at last the rocky ledge they meet,
And break in foam around her lingering feet.
Her eyes glance downward in a careless way,
As though she loved their soft caressing play,
And fain would stand and muse forever there,
Lulled by their murmuring sound.
Placid and fair
The ocean lies before her dreamy eyes,
Stretched forth in beauty 'neath the sunny skies,
And through the clouds' far lifting, sheeny mist
She sees the pale blue skies by sunlight kissed.
Enraptured by the calm and holy scene,
She stands a creature pure and glad; serene,
Her eyes glance heavenward and a roseate shade
Plays o'er her Hebe features--perfect made.
A child of nature, she has never known
The arts and wiles which worldlier spirits own;
She loves the ocean's ever changing play,
When round her form is flung its dashing spray,
And oft she laughs in wildest, merriest glee
When folded close within its billows free.
She loves the wildwood's green and leafy maze,
Within whose foliage hide the sun's bright rays;
And like a child she hoards the bright-eyed flowers,
Companions of so many happy hours.
With loving heart she greets each form of earth,
To which God's kindly hand has given birth.
But better far than all, she loves to roam
Far on the cliff's lone height, and there at eve
To watch the dark ships as they wander home.
Strange dreams in this calm hour her fancies weave,
So quaint and odd, they seem but shadowy rays,
Caught from the sunset's deep, mysterious haze.
Lo! now she stands like some pale statue fair,
With eyes cast down and careless falling hair;
She vaguely dreams of things that are to be,
A woman's future, noble, fresh and free;
And o'er her face youth's crimson colors flow,
As with a beating heart she thinks she'll give
Her life to one true heart, and with a glow
Of pride she vows her future life to live
So good and true that all her days shall seem
But the fulfillment of his heart's proud dream.
Yet soon she trembles with some unknown thought,
A vague and restless longing fills her breast,
And with a passionate fear her mind is wrought.
She cannot case away the strange unrest;
With hands clasped close in attitude of prayer
She stands, her pleading face so young and fair,
Is turned unto the skies, but no, not here
Will God speak all unto her listening ear;
Too soon in dark, deep strife upon this shore
Her soul will yield its peace forevermore.
And then she hurries home with flying feet,
The faces of that humble home to meet;
For there in peace her dear old parents dwell,
That simple twain who love this maid so well
They fain would keep her with them ever there,
A thoughtless child, free from all grief and care.
But ah! they cannot understand the heart,
Which turns from all their loving ways apart,
And dwells within a region of its own.
Within that home she seems to stand alone,
While all unseen the forces gather, day
By day, that o'er her life shall hold their sway;
And like a fragile flower before the storm,
She bows her head and ends her slender form,
For even like the flower she must stand
And brave the tempest, for 'tis God's command.
And like to her how many a girl has stood
Upon the unknown brink of womanhood
And sought in vain from guiding hand and power;
But unlike her in that dread trial hour,
They've lost their faith, for Hilda's trusting mind,
E'en though it stood alone, had so much strength,
And faith that to life's problem she could find
Solution strange and subtle; even though at length
She might complain and grieve o'er all the wasted past.
Oh! life is dark and full of unseen care,
And better were it if all girls thus fair
And young were truly understood at last.
For every girl some time will feel the need
Of loving hearts to strengthen and to lead,
When first are opened to her wondering eyes
The world's fair fields and seeming paradise.
She only sees the beauty--hears the song,
Knows not the hidden snares, nor dreams of wrong.
'Tis woman's happiest time, and yet 'tis true
A sombre tinge may mar its brightest hue.
For girlhood too will have its doubts and fears,
Will lose the past and long for coming years,
And sad indeed when youth is left alone
To face the coming future all unknown.
The eyes see not that should be strong and keen;
While powerless, weak girlhood stands between
The tides of life, and though its aims are high,
How often will they fail!
Where dangers lie
Poor Hilda stands and knows it not, the dream
Of life to her is bright, youth's sunny gleam
Shines over all in tender, softened light,
And swiftly do the moments wing their flight.
But yet so sensitive her shrinking soul,
That o'er her life sometimes great shadows roll,
Like angry clouds; upon a wild dark shore
She stands, alone and weak, while more and more
The unknown forces grow and cast their blight,
Till all the past is lost in one dark night;
Unto the woman's lot her life is cast,
And like a dream the girlish days drift past.
One eve she stood upon a lonely lea
And watched the deep'ning shadows grim
That threw their forms athwart the restless sea,
Making the radiance of the West grow dim.
A glorious canopy appeared to rest
O'er changing sky and distant rocky caves,
While o'er some weary sea-bird's pure white breast,
A bright glow spread when dipping in the waves,
Her tired form found therein coolness; peace
Supremely reigned, and under Silence's wings
Vanished afar and near the waves' wide rings;
Still grander grew the heavy golden skies,
With gorgeous hues and airy snow-white fleece,
And dreamier grew the maiden's watching eyes,
As through and through her trembling soul and frame,
The thrill of nature's beauty softly came;
And while her eyes with love and rapture filled,
Of all that weird and strangely splendid scene,
All other thoughts within her soul were stilled,
While o'er her head fair spirits seemed to lean.
Around her grew a stillness unto death,
The waves their ever restless motion stayed;
All living nature seemed to hold its breath,
As if by some stupendous power o'erweighed;
And right athwart the sunset's fading glow,
A great black cloud, like some huge monstrous thing,
Threw round and round the sun's last dipping ring
The impress of its shadow drooping low;
And lower, lower fell that mighty cloud,
With menacing shape as in defiance proud,
Until at last all sky and earth and sea
Seemed filled with shadows from its darkening wings---
That dreadful spell cast over waves once free,
Hushed into silence deep all living things.
And still the maiden's watching, eager eyes
Were fixed unmoved on black'ning sea and skies;
So motionless she stood with hands clasped close
And heart-beats growing few and fainter all this time,
That e'en it seemed as though the life-blood froze
Within her veins, like streams in frigid clime!
To-night she'd seen strange visions in the clouds,
Of cities great and busy murmuring crowds,
That called her on to some far different life,
'Mid active minds and noisy, changing strife.
With beating heart she saw the clouds unfold,
Within their depths there gleamed a crown of gold.
Too soon the scene had faded from the skies,
While o'er the earth the threat'ning cloud had spread
That rudely thrust itself before her eyes
And filled her with an overpowering dread;
Yet still she stood with proud, unbending form,
Though all the world seemed near some awful doom.
That dreary silence by foretold the storm
That soon would rage within the night's dark gloom;
A deathly hush o'er waiting land and sea,
And then with one loud clap the storm cloud burst.
Behold! the elements again set free,
As if with fearful spell they'd long been curst,
Now vented all the power of stifled birth
Upon the luckless unoffending earth.
The waves around the cliff's low base sprang high
And madly dashed their spray in furious rage;
The maid, howe'er, looked down with scornful eye,
As if she could their mighty power assuage.
She gloried in that strange, terrific storm,
The lightning's glare and hurried thunder peal
Awakened in her slight and girlish form
A hidden might that bade her trembling kneel
Upon that lonely, wave-encircled height
And pledge her life to fame, that she might win
The glory of the world's enthroning light,
Then give it back to God all freed from sin.
Long, long she knelt, her soul in prayer thrown,
Unheeding still the lightning's lurid glare;
For what were raging storms and nature's moan
To that mad strife within her bosom fair!
At last the lightnings ceased, the winds grew still;
All powers recognized God's mightier will;
Old ocean, like a child with passion spent,
Lay gently sobbing in its rocky bed;
Anon it sighed and to the dark waves lent,
A sad, sweet song; the storm indeed was dead.
Along the sable robes that veiled the sky,
The red stars glowed, yet paled each tiny fire
Before the yellow moon, who, throned on high,
Hung on her crescent bow a golden lyre.
From Hilda, too, the stormy grief had fled,
And with a strange, deep peace inspired, she rose
From off the rocks and lifted up her head.
The moon smiled on her upturned face, and close
Beneath her feet the waves swept to and fro.
A smile as that which lit the tide below,
Then dawned upon her lips, for god her prayer
Had heard; that harp of gold--these skies now fair,
Seemed but the emblem that her soul's dark strife
Should lead her soon unto a nobler life.
Beyond her, on the ledge, a dark form stood,
Regarding her with wistful, wondering eyes;
He seemed the type of all that's true and good
In man; down from the starry, moonlit skies
The radiance fell and crowned his youthful head,
While on his brow a dim, vague majesty
Seemed shadowed forth. Yet restless as the sea
His eyes that Hilda's fair young face had read.
With beating heart he'd watched her kneeling there
Upon the rocks; had listened to her prayer
In silence wondering; so strange it seemed
To see her there amid the storm, but still
He stood and powerless; a gladdening thrill
Ran through his veins to see that form alone,
And o'er his noble, Godlike face there gleamed
A pride to think this maid was all his own.
He loved--and love our hearts can ne'er repress--
In truth he gazed upon that face and form
As though upon her head each wet and gleaming tress
Were more than all the phantoms of the storm.
He loved as even the sun must love the flowers
That shyly glance to him 'neath leafy bowers,
Or as the river with its strong deep tide
Must love the willows nestling by its side.
She stood as one within a waking dream,
Nor looked upon the earth, nor in the sky;
But only far at sea whose amber gleam
Was as the light that in fair gems doth lie.
Entranced she stood--the mocking visions came--
But see! she starts; upon the air her name
Steals like a whisper of the wave's low song,
Borne by the zephyrs of the night along.
She turns--beside her on the rocks he stands
With questioning eyes and eager, outstretched hands;
She smiles, then starts back with a startled look,
As some wild fawn within its sheltered nook.
"Fair Hilda, tell me why with reckless feet
You braved the elements and dared to kneel
Here in the angry storm--it was not meet
That all this night's wild tempest you should feel."
She looked at him with almost haughty air,
To think that to reprove her he should dare;
Then fearlessly as some undaunted child
She met his eyes that searched her own for truth,
She who had scorned the tempest dark and wild,
Feared not the chidings of his hasty youth.
And undismayed she moved to where he stood,
With blushing, beauteous charms of maidenhood,
And there with rapt eyes looking up to him,
She told him of those visions never dim;
Of that wild spirit born amid the storm
Whose restless strength had swayed her fragile form.
Before his own she laid her very soul,
That he might there its inmost thoughts unroll.
Her pleading voice grew stronger with each word,
Until enthralled and hushed his spirit heard.
Upright she stood in girlish, thrilling grace,
The glancing moonlight falling o'er her face;
It seemed as though some heavenly, unknown power
Had come to her within that strange, short hour,
To make the listener feel the truth divine
That lingered in her words and true design.
Her rich young voice flowed on and on,
In silvery cadence earnest, clear and strong,
And still he stood with bowed head 'neath the skies
Bound by the fascination of her eyes
And winning voice--and manly thought he stood,
He humbly bowed before that womanhood
Which seemed with conscious might to grasp the power
Of fame, the world's alluring, phantom flower.
Amazed he stood, before her words struck dumb;
And startled gazed--the maid he loved had come
This night to teach him that her woman's soul
Had dared to seek, than his, a higher goal.
At last each thought was told; with eager eyes
That glowed with fire, as stars throughout the night,
She waited as some birdling ere it flies,
Awaits to poise itself for stronger flight.
But he, when that dear voice had ceased to flow,
Awoke as if from some entrancing spell;
He knew not what to say, but to and fro,
He paced awhile with restless step; too well
He knew her dauntless will, her fearless heart;
He dared not say her dreams, her plans were naught,
And yet to lose her--quickly came the thought--
It roused him with a sudden mad'ning start.
"Oh! Hilda unto me these things do seem
But burning traces of some ill-starred dream;
I grieve that e'er thy soul should long to claim
The thorny diadem of worldly fame.
Life's mystery to thee is yet unknown;
Why dost thou seek its misery to own?
With all a woman's power thou this night
Hast led me on by th' fascinating light
Of thy dear eyes and voice, till almost blind
To reason, I allowed my wandering mind
To follow as a willing captive thine;
I listened with a will not wholly mine.
But now when freed from th' witchery of thy voice
I see no wisdom in thy new made choice.
Thou art a woman pure, whose noble heart
Would fain do, in this world, its earnest part;
But Hilda, with a girl's weak, erring hand,
Thy hopes are builded on the treacherous sand.
Give up this dream that in thy mind now lies
And be again my Hilda, glad and wise."
"No, no" the dark eyes flash with sudden fire,
"Of this bright dream I know I ne'er shall tire;
The busy world has called me, I will go
And take my station, be it high or low."
"Dear Hilda," then his voice grew low and sweet,
"I love thee; and my love has not been brief.
When thou wert young I led thy wand'ring feet,
And ever guarded thee from pain and grief.
Through all my life thou wert its hope and pride,
But now you turn from that true life aside,
And long to wander as a willful child,
In other paths, by luring dreams beguiled.
Not so my love for thee; though e'en the sun
Should disappear, his race of glory run,
And stars like lost souls wand'ring through the sky,
Should vanish as that sun; though worlds should die,
And all the purple clouds should come at eve
And for the earth a robe of mourning weave,
While to the very skies the seas should roll
In waves of grief to sweep the heavens' scroll,
It could not change my smallest thought of thee;
I count a man as naught if he's not free,
Yet willingly for thy dear sake I'd live
Where all the world my freedom could not give,
If that I knew could save thee from one tear.
Than werefore take from my thy presence dear?
If thou would'st wear a crown, why leave this scene?
But stay! I'll crown thee as my love--my queen."
She sadly drew away with troubled mien,
O'er bending face a heightened color spread,
"You cannot understand me yet," she said,
"I'd rather be a WOMAN than a QUEEN."
Then wistfully she looked out on the sea,
"I have a gift that God has given me,
I'd use it that the world should better grow;
I long for fame because I then should know
My power was felt and recognized--but stay,
My words are vain, you sadly turn away."
"Choose, Hilda," then once more he proudly cried;
Upon his face there gleamed a passionate pride;
"Between this love that I now offer thee
And that vain fame as faithless as the sea.
I give thee deepest love that man can feel,
Before thine own my heart in truth doth kneel.
Beware how you do mock your early love,
Lest it should die as some poor tortured dove;
If once 'tis dead your woman's heart my grieve
Itself to death; return it never will,
And like the sun, a shadow it may leave
Whose glory, dead and gone, will haunt you still."
Her eyes were filled with grief, her head bent low,
Upon the shore the waves crept to and fro,
Their moan was vaguely echoed in her breast
That vainly struggled with its great unrest.
Her heart was throbbing with the heavy pain
His words had caused; on each fair cheek a stain
Of crimson lay, as that which softly falls
From setting sun on gleaming marble walls.
It rose unto a glow, then died away
In fitful gleams; on drooping eyelids lay
A weight, yet 'neath those heavy veils of snow
The dark eyes quivered with a restless glow.
She could not speak, mute as the rocks that stand
In stony silence now and evermore,
She stood, while stars looked down from heaven's shore
And pitied her. Unto his proud command
Her heart had not yet dared to make reply
Lest in those words a deeper pain should lie.
Impatient grown, he paces to and fro
Upon the rocks, then on the tide below,
Looks down with troubled frowns and stifled sighs.
As quick as light across the calm, clear skies,
A meteor flashes down, a dazzling sight,
Then dies, and all the heavens seem as before.
"Look, Hilda, look! so dies this lamp of night
That once was placed upon god's starry floor
To give us light, while yet doth gleam each star
That calmly moves within its own allotted space.
Take warning, Hilda, fly not from thy place.
Nor seek to wander from thy realm too far,
Lest in a trackless waste thy soul shall stray,
And as this meteor, flash and fade away,
While all unmoved the world's calm eyes shall gaze,
Nor give one tear unto thy shortened days."
Back from her face the waves of crimson rolled,
And left it pale as death; as flowers unfold
Their dewy depths, to him her liquid eyes
Were gently raised: "Within that symbol lies
Perhaps a truth," she says, "I dare not say,
Yet, Adrian, it cannot matter now,
Determined is my heart; upon my brow
A crown will rest that will not fade away.
Oh! seek not in my sorely troubled breast
To rouse again its strength of dark unrest;
For better were my heart in torture wrung
Than linger here and leave its song unsung."
With sad, sad eyes he looked into her face,
Then turned aside with grand, unconscious grace,
And bravely stifled every wayward sigh,
Though in his voice his sorrow still did lie.
"Then as the sea that looks up to some star,
Reflecting its bright beauty from afar,
Thus shall I ever look on thy dear face
And from afar behold thy winning grace.
And as the star's light in the deep blue sea
Still mirrored in my life thy soul shall be.
Even as the ocean hears the star's glad song
Above its own sad, plaintive melody,
So to my heart thy music shall belong
And in my saddest hours will gladden me.
I give thee to that mocking world so vain,
Although it gives me much and weary pain,
And may its ruthless hand be laid on thee
With lighter touch than it has given me.
Remember, if thy spirit should grow weak,
To thee my aid will come if thou'lt but speak
And tell me if within thy troubled breast
A longing comes for loving care and rest.
For even now I love thee none the less
Because thou lov'st not me; each waving tress
Upon thy brow is still as dear to me
As sunlight to each flower and budding tree.
One look into those eyes I love so well,
And then, dear one--a sad, a last farewell."
With that he caught her small and trembling hand;
With simple royal grace and gesture grand,
He pressed it to his lips, then let it fall;--
His dream of love had passed beyond recall.
That touch awakened all her woman's love,
Her heart responded to his silent cry;
As flowers love the strong, brave sun above,
She loved this man nor ever questioned why.
Before this night no doubts had come between
To mar its trust or stir its depths serene.
Oh! blessed is that love and faith indeed,
Which knows no doubt but only feels its need;
That unsought love which comes and fills the breast
Because we cannot help--that is the best.
With soft caressing touch unto his own
She pressed her hand, then backward swept the hair
Whose shining wreath around her form was thrown;
Her darkened eyes with pleading, troubled air
Looked up into his own; she seemed a child
Beside his strength, yet through his form a shiver
Ran, and to his lips there came a painful quiver,
That told too well the stormy passion wild
This childlike girl had wakened this hour.
Its might swept o'er his soul with fearful power--
He dared not move--a silence strange and deep
Fell o'er them both, as some half-waking sleep.
To lose her! ah! the fearful, madd'ning thought,
Unto a wilder grief his soul it wrought;
With desperate pride he wrestled with his pain
Lest she should see it in his face again.
But ah! what slender chain of love is this
That can be broken with a last warm kiss!
With longing eyes she stood there by his side,
Her looks fixed on the ocean's tireless tide,
Then gazed down on the robes that swept her feet;
His searching eyes she dared not, could not meet;
And why? within her own the dark tears stood,
True signs of weak and loving womanhood.
At last she put aside her love's young dream,
And all the brighter did its glory seem
Because it must be banished from her heart.
They stood so near, and yet how far apart--
A gulf had come between them, vast and wide,
A gulf made by her longing, restless pride.
With low and trembling voice at last she said
With sadly falling tears and bended head:
"Oh! Adrian, my faint heart fain would dwell
Forever here beneath thy love's dear spell;
But ah! beyond the height where breaks the day,
There lives a charm that calls my soul away.
Afar the mountains glow in pale, blue mist,
By fleecy clouds and summer sunshine kissed.
And see! beyond them all I long to be,
Beyond this shore, beyond the trackless sea.
Ah! this is why, dear Adrian, we must part,
Although it rends my grieving, restless heart;
Forgive me if to-night I've caused thee pain--
If grief be thine, forgive me once again.
Farewell! when from thy life my love is fled,
Henceforth to thee let Hilda's name be dead."
And this was all--vague shadows crept around,
The waves sung in his ears their moaning sound;
He looked in vain for Hilda's dear, sweet face,
Forevermore was lost her loving grace
To him. In vain he called forth in despair;
His words returned upon the empty air.
Like some pale spirit she had stolen from him
And left him there 'mid shadows dark and grim.
Oh what is fame! a flower that dies at eve,
A golden mist that subtle fancies weave,
An unknown star that wise men never see,
An idle dream of things that may not be.
Farewell to peace when once the dreams of fame
Shall stir the soul into a restless flame.
There is no rest by day, no sleep by night;
The eyes are blinded by the dazzling light.
Ah! woe to him who first espies the star,
It hath the power his life to make or mar.
Amid the sombre draperies of the sky,
The faintly-gleaming stars half-hidden lie;
Upon Night's bending head a hood of snow
Seems weighing it unto the earth below;
With gentle frowns she shakes her sable hair
And sends the snow-flakes whirling through the air.
And soon a soft, thick mantle, pure and white,
Gives to the earth a new and holy light.
While with a thousand lamps the city glows
As if encircled with a diadem;
Each lamp transformed into a sparkling gem,
That o'er the earth its flickering splendor throws.
Paris, that brilliant city, gleams to-night
With glittering lights that hide her ghastly woes;
In mockery she's robed in bridal white,
Though in her heart a tide of crimson flows.
The city is aglow with wealth and pride;
A gilded hall is thronged from side to side
With fashion's train of beauteous dames, who smile
And gaily, archly chat the happy while
With gallant men who smile on them again.
All seems forgotten--want and weary pain
That fill the earth with all their drear distress;
Yet many a heart beneath the silken dress
Of its fair wearer hides its weariness
'Neath such bright smiles that none would ever guess
What lies concealed; and handsome, manly eyes
In which the hidden lovelight dreaming lies,
Are telling o'er in silent language sweet,
The love which lips and tongue would fain repeat.
Rich jewels gleam and proud eyes quickly glance,
And costly robes each womanly charm enhance,
From tempting coral lips gay laughter flies,
To be reflected o'er in arch, coquettish eyes.
But see! each tongue is hushed within that hall,
From dainty hands gay fans unheeded fall;
While eyes that one glad moment just before
Were bent 'neath love's warm glances to the floor,
Are looking now, forgetting lovers' sighs,
To see the veiling curtain slowly rise:
And breathless waits that glittering, changing throng,
To hear once more their idol's rippling song.
A face divine, a crown of braided hair,
Dark eyes that gleam with proud and passionate air,
A robe of snowy satin sweeping wide,
A brow that shadows forth a noble pride.
And she is here--the queen of song, Arline,
With flashing eyes and proud triumphant mien.
She smiles--she knows her potent power full well;
With silvery song she breaks the golden spell
Of silence--sings until the walls resound
With echoing strains, and all the air around
Grow tremulous with melody; high
Beyond the very dome it seems to rise
And reach with daring wings the listening skies.
Within her breast a power that cannot die
Seems lifting her beyond the earth; along
On living waves of fire her glorious song
Of songs seems borne. Triumphant in this hour,
Her voice reveals a wild and stormy power
Of weird, sad passion that awakes each soul
Into a mad, sweet ecstasy of pain;
Then low the waves of dying music roll
And leave the air in silence once again.
Ah! conquering song, thou wert not born of earth,
Celestial stars proclaim thy heavenly birth!
And proud Arline, with wondrous, thrilling art,
Has cast thy spell upon each answering heart.
Oh, sing, Arline, and fear not for thy song!
The music of the waves upon the shore,
Is not so grand as that, nor e'en the roar
Of countless oceans swiftly borne along.
Oh! poets, rave not of your singing seas,
Your rivers with their rippling melodies;
The human voice alone can touch the heart,
And draw it from its lower self apart.
Then sing, Arline, uplift your starry eyes,
Awake the very echoes of the skies,
And rouse to nobler deeds this eager throng;--
In all the world there's naught so sweet as song.
But hush--in low sad strains the music dies,
Low at her feet a wealth of flowers lies;
She smiles--the world's bright fame is clearly won,
Along her veins the quickened fires now run;
Her dark eyes flash--Oh! fame, thou art divine!
Into her heart, like streams of blood-red wine,
The world's sweet homage flows; a deepening strain
Of crimson plays upon her face. Oh! fame,
Fear not, for she is thine; within thy flame
Her soul enraptured burns--and love's sad pain
Is all forgotten in this brilliant hour
That proves too well her strange and gifted power.
But see! still deeper grows the crimson glow
Upon her face, for at her feet a crown
Is thrown of royal roses; bending down
She sees in star-gemmed flowers of purest snow
The word "Arline" amid the diadem
Of circling red; and in their midst a gem
That sparkles with a strange intensive light.
She smiles--a smile that rouses all the fire
In one young heart; with quick and eager flight
His eyes seek hers; unto her face still higher
The warm blood flows beneath that ling'ring gaze.
Her drooping eyes grow liquid with the rays
Of light within their depths; the rippling hair,
With burnished hues of brown and amber rare,
Falls o'er the shaded brow; while sweeping low,
The long, dark lashes hide the deepening glow
In downcast eyes.
Oh! painter, do not tell
Of silvery streams and shaded, flowery dell,
Nor talk of clouds with faces to the sun,
That hang low down where golden rivers run.
But dare to paint with skillful, cunning art
The secret workings of a woman's heart.
Oh, catch the light that lingers in her eyes--
The passing gleam that o'er the shadow flies;
Then paint for me the secrets of her soul,
That I may read as on some written scroll.
If this you cannot do, then talk no more
Of nature's wealth of deep and mystic lore--
Of waving grass and azure skies; a face
Is worth them all.
She stands in sunny grace,
A woman--the fairest picture e'er was wrought;
A poem fresh from God's own living thought.
She turns again, for once more at her feet
A few fair flowers fall--spell-bound she stands,
Then stoops and clasps them all with eager hands;
Blue violets, and roses wild and sweet,
Forget-me-nots and daises, pure and white--
Oh! dear wild flowers, how come you here this night
To welcome her with shy and modest eyes,
And dewy faces where the sunshine lies.
Caressingly she bends and kisses them
With warm, bright lips--the royal diadem
Is thrown aside for these few welcome flowers,
And all forgotten is the fame--the hours
Of dazzling triumph; like an eager child
She stands and clasps them in her hands; and wild
And restless are her thoughts; oh! mocking fame,
Where is thy victory now! thy burning flame!
On memory's wings she's carried back to where
These same wild flowers perfumed the sunny air.
And once again in childhood's tireless feet,
She wanders on the shore where dark waves beat
And moan. She bends her head, her eyes are wet
With tears. Weep not, Arline! your heart may fret
Itself in vain, the world will never care.
Reveal not to these heartless eyes the pain
That clasps your heart, but raise your head again
And let your grand, young voice ring on the air!
See! 'neath your feet the crown of roses lies
All crushed and torn; then lift your proud, dark eyes
Unto this throng once more, and let them see
Within those depths, a spirit strong and free.
The fragrant breath of flowers she loves so well
Breathes on her face and wraps her in a spell;
So often may a flower's fair perfume
Bring back the sunny past--the present gloom.
Arline, Arline, the world is at your feet,
Why droop your head, why grow so still and pale?
Are flowers worth tears, does life no joys repeat?
And fame is yours--is this the hour to fail?
And see! those eyes have never left your face,
Those eyes like pansies heavy with the dew;
They seek your own, reflect your royal grace,
Arline, and read your every thought; anew.
They wonder at your silence--smile once more,
Thou queenly one, and send that eager heart
Into a rapturous dream. Upon the floor
There lies his off'ring--turn your steps apart
And crush it not, for he will grieve, Arline,
To see it this.
At last her troubled eyes
Are raised once more, and now a gentle queen
She stands before them all--the shadow dies--
A softened splendor like the night's weird grace
Rests on her brow and faintly-glowing face.
She lifts her head--she sees the eager crowd,
Her blood begins to leap, her eyes grow proud,
Yet still within their liquid depths there lies
A childlike mournfulness, a dread of truth.
Forever fled they are, the dreams of youth,
All broken are the dear and olden ties,
And yet what can it matter to her now
She wears the crown of fame upon her brow.
For those bright laurels that so soon can fade
She's sold her love nor deemed the choice ill made.
Once more upon the silent evening air
Her rich voice ripples like a golden stream
Let loose beneath the sun; a yearning prayer
Within her low-voiced, echoing song doth seem
To lie. The bounding blood now swiftly flows
Along her veins, and on her face it glows
With warm, bright fires. With trembling hands are pressed
The flowers against her heart, a dark unrest
Seems in her soul, yet in those glancing eyes
A tender radiance, like faint sunlight lies.
Oh, sing, Arline, and let the echoes die
In deep'ning melody throughout the sky.
Sing on, for hearts are growing pure again
Beneath thy woman's spell; a power divine
You wield to-night to soften and refine.
Faint hearts are growing sad and full of pain,
Proud eyes that have not wept for many years
Are downward cast, and filled with unshed tears.
What though thy heart is in that low, sad song,
They know it not, their souls are borne along
And strangely thrilled by its sweet melody;
They cannot know what thoughts may dwell in thee.
A song may wake the echoes of the soul
And o'er each life the tides of memory roll.
The music dies--she fain would go--but no.
They call her back, again her dark eyes glow
With longing light; once more she stands and sings
The plaintive words whose hidden sorrow rings
Through every heart. These words her lips repeat;
The crowd move not; they listen at her feet.
When nobler lips than mine shall sing
Of faith and holy love;
And angles round thee closer fling
Their glory from above;
Then think thou of my sad, long song,
In realms far, far away;
Though brighter memories round thee throng
To gild each happy day.
When fond lips with their glad, dear thrill,
Shall press thine own once more;
And softly of their own free will
Shall whisper love's sweet lore;
Then think of one who loved thee well
In happy days gone by;
Though round thee glows a golden spell
That carries thee on high.
Perhaps when each brave life is o'er
And duties are well done;
Our hearts shall meet as once of yore
Beneath a brighter sun.
And there, where life and love are well,
We never more shall part;
While will return the olden spell
To bind us heart to heart.
A parting glance--a glimpse of dreamy eyes,
A fair young face on which a shadow lies;
And she is gone, the plaintive song is done.
Arline has faded as the setting sun
Fades from the skies, and left no parting trace,
Save memories of her pale and haunting face.
'Tis twelve o'clock, the city lies asleep,
And far above, within the azure deep,
The jeweled stars keep watch. Down from the skies
A dark veil falls o'er tired, earthly eyes;
Sleep bids us take farewell of care and sin
And seek a nobler, purer life within.
Night watches like a black-robed, silent nun,
When men would sleep, and kindly shades the sun
Till morning comes. Upon the grim, dark walls
The moon's pale light in softened splendor falls,
And 'neath a mantle of redeeming light
Hides each unsightly stain and time-worn blight;
While unto eyes now old and dim with grief,
Come visions of a childhood glad, though brief,
When mother-love touched from their hearts all care
And left the impress of her teachings there.
As rifts in hanging clouds through which the rays
Of silvery moonlight glance, so o'er each heart
Steal flitting gleams of happy golden days,
When in life's drama sorrow took no part.
Into a stately dwelling dark and old,
A woman glides with troubled, weary air
Her face is pale, her hands are white and cold,
The silken hood falls from her loosened hair;
She heeds it not, but listlessly stands,
With thoughtful eyes and tightly folded hands.
At last the maid with noiseless step draws near,
Removes her wraps and in her listening ear
Speaks these few words: "In passing through the crowd
To-night, a man of face and manner proud,
This missive gave to me. I looked around,---
For one brief moment his face upon me frowned,
Then he was gone, and though I scanned the street,
His form again my glances did not meet."
The lady takes the note with careless hands,
Then turns to where the ling'ring maid still stands
And bids her go. At last she is alone,
With eyes indifferent, though thoughtful grown,
She looks upon the note. "Oh woman's heart,
Can you and earthly love ne'er dwell apart?
Why is it though I would not love, love's pain
Must ever follow me. Are hearts so weak
That they must love though love is all in vain,
And all unworthy is the prize they seek.
Ah, many like to this do I receive,
Couched in such words as do my proud heart grieve;
And oft I wish that woman had no power,
So fleet, it lingers but a tearful hour,
To draw unto herself the love of man,
Whose shallow depths too well her eyes may scan.
Too oft his love with deep and fearful blight
Steals from her woman's life its holiest light.
My heart is not for love, though love is well,
And oft it hath a dear and happy spell.
Wrapped in the cherished mission of my art,
Contentment dwells within my earnest heart.
Within the rippling measures of my song
The choicest treasures of the world belong.
Why seek for more, the world and fame are mine,
Then wherefore love, though love should be divine?"
At last she reads the note; upon her face
A deep indifference lies,--a cold, calm grace;
But suddenly her eyes light up, her hands
Are trembling, with a nervous haste she stands
And glances o'er the page. What can this be,
Arline, that brings such new-found pain to thee?
At first her eyes are filled with unshed tears,
Brought back by memories of other years;
Anon, her mind by wondering fear is wrought
Awakened by some new unwelcome thought.
Ah! these the words that stir her heart and soul,
And write new truths on life's unwritten scroll.
"Arline, from all the world thou fame hast won.
A crown thou wear'st that fades not with the sun;
Yet chide me not, if now unto thy ear
I speak such words as thou may'st grieve to hear,
For I shall give thee tidings from the shore
Which knows thy face and welcome step no more.
"The two beloved ones left alone, each day,
Grieved more and more until in peace at last
The bounding line of life was safely past,
And all their sorrow then was put away.
They pined in vain for that dear birdling flown,
Who, with swift wings had left them there alone.
Yet oft in gentle tones they spoke of thee
And longed they fair, young face once more to see.
Unto our far-off shore there sometimes came
Faint rumors of thy longed-for, new-found fame.
This gave them joy indeed, yet more of pain.
For thus they knew their hopes were all in vain.
Allured unto the world was thy young heart;---
The gay, bright world in which they had no part.
"But, ere thy mother's eyes were closed in sleep,
She gave to me a secret strange to keep;
'Twas this, that though they called thee daughter, child,
No blood of theirs flowed in thy veins, thy race
Was of a noble kind, to splendor born;
An ancestry who wore a kingly grace,
The traces of a lineage undefiled.
Upon thy brow their dauntless pride is worn---
But stay, thy mother, child, though strangely fair,
Was but a singer whose voice of wondrous power
Thine own is like, a voice that filled the air
With strange, sweet sounds, and oft, in many an hour,
Enchantment threw o'er all the eager throng
Who came to hear. Enthralled by her glad song
One young heart pined; low at her feet he laid
The glory of his life that she might wear
His crown of love. His wife she soon was made;
They lived awhile a happy, loving pair,
Until thou show'dst thy tiny, smiling face,
And then thy mother died that thou might'st live.
He grieved as only strong, brave men can grieve
For what is lost. Then wandered off a pace
To seek new life in lands across the sea;
He left thee here, thy life was wild and free.
Long years ago came tidings of his death,
Born sadly on the wind's taint whispering breath.
He was a peer, the last of all his race,
His Saxon strength was written on thy face.
Yet in thy veins thy mother's Southern blood
Is bounding with its warm, impetuous flood.
Enough; my words are wandering; a will
He left that may thy heart with gladness fill,
Thy girlish right be recognized at last
And left for thee his rich and vast estate.
Into the world's deep tide thy life is cast,
Yet thou art still the mistress of thy fate.
If thou would'st wear thy birthright's name and power
Speak but the word and claim thy rightful dower."
And this is all, her head is bending low,
From shaded eyes the tears unbidden flow.
Across her face the darkening shadows fly
That tell too well the thoughts that hidden lie.
"Oh, God! where is the joy that honor brings,
Where is the spell a golden glory flings,
When one short hour, like this, of passing pain,
Can prove the brightest hopes of life are vain?
I fondly dreamed that fame's short, fleeting power,
Could satisfy my heart in every hour.
Then wherefore is this pain, these sudden tears,
That fell like rain upon the last few years,
And wash their glory out? What joy is mine,
When two dear hearts that loved me as their own,
Have gone and left me, saddened and alone!
Sweet mother, had I heard that voice of thine
My life had not been thus. Can fame, though dear,
Replace that loss or save me from one tear?
And can it fill my heart through all the years---
Oh, God! be kind, my heart is full of fears."
A passionate misery o'er her fair face swept,
It awakened all the fires that long had slept.
She threw the missive down, and paced the floor
With restless steps, then suddenly stood still.
Unto her heart there came a dreadful thrill
Of grief as she had never felt before;
Her face grew pale as death, her lips were white,
And then she cried, "Oh! Father, pity me,
For I am grieved and full of doubt to-night.
I sink as one into a dark and lonely sea
Where ships are not, so desolate it seems.
Oh! can it be my aim in life is wrong,
Are hearts no better when they hear my song!
My visions fair,--Oh! are they then but dreams,
That do no good, but only lure my heart
From woman's truer paths in life apart?
"Oh! Adrian, had'st thou then the better thought,
And have I but a web of sorrow wrought?
Do all our hopes but lead to care and pain,
Has life no sunshine, only clouds and rain?
Has woman no power to rouse to nobler deeds
The heart of man, and fill his higher needs!
Oh, God! in heaven, guide thy child to-night,
Upon my longings shed thy holiest light.
Oh! mother, with thy tender, loving eyes,
Look down upon me from the starlit skies."
Upon her knees she sinks upon the floor
As one upon a wild and stormy shore;
Her face against the velvet cushion pressed
With hands clasped tightly to her throbbing breast.
Her robes of satin sweep the floor; her hair
Unloosened, falls low down, a golden snare
Of wondrous lights and shades; and pale and cold
Her face gleams 'neath that veil of brown and gold.
Her breath comes quick, she battles with the storm
That gathers in her breast and trembling form.
She stills her heart--heeds not its painful throb,
Drives back her longings, stifles every sob;
And bravely through the watches of the night,
She turns her soul to God for help and light.
A prayer breathed low, a struggle long and wild,
Then peace comes near, and like a weary child,
Worn out with grief, Arline lays low her head.
A silence falls, the night is almost fled,
The lamp burns low, the moon with mystic grace
Looks down upon her fair, uplifted face.
She moves not, o'er her dusky, shaded eyes
The lids lay closed, a moonlit splendor lies
Upon her broad, white brow, and cheeks of snow
Are pressed against the crimson velvet's glow
On which her head is lain.
Oh, ne'er was wrought
A fairer form than thine, Arline, nor thought
Was ever purer than thine own; though wild
And free thy life has ever been, a child
Indeed thou art in ways of sin and wrong.
Within thy eyes and silvery sounding song,
There ever lives a simple, heaven-born truth.
An earnest motive and a girl's fair youth
Are thine, and though thy heart is wrought with fears--
Ah! sacred unto heaven those falling tears--
For these are more to Him than many a prayer
Said by unholy lips with humble air.
God does not care so much for empty deeds,
If pure the motive that such action feeds.
Then rest, Arline; upon thy pale, young face
There falls the peace of heaven, a lovely grace;
Around thy head the moon's bright, silver rays
Are not more stainless than thy youthful days.
Low in the West, a banner floating wide
Of God's own colors hangs in dreamy pride;
A wealth of purple stains and gleams of gold,
A crimson splendor o'er each waving fold;
A heap of gold--a rim of amethyst,
A hanging cloud by glancing sunbeams kissed.
Afar upon the tinted, azure skies
A tiny cloud of rosy color lies;
A coral on a velvet robe of blue,
A warm, bright wave upon the skies' pale hue.
Oh! such the sunset sky of Italy,
The land of dreams, of love and melody;
The country of the passions and the heart,
The mother of th' ideal and of art.
Oh, painter! still your heart's wild throb and cry,
You cannot paint this sunset tough you try;
The canvas cannot rival Nature's skies,
Before her hand each human effort dies.
Oh! you must dip your brush in waves of gold
If you would paint for me that amber fold.
Oh! poet, seize your pen--'tis all in vain,
You cannot paint in words that crimson stain;
Though all your soul in quivering rapture lies,
Your pen brings not those clouds to other eyes.
Though Art has power, still Nature is the queen,
Her hand alone commands this glorious scene.
Back from the shore there stands a villa old
And quaint, upon a sloping flower-wreathed hill,
Along the side thee flows a singing rill;
Beyond, the frowning rocks rise clear and bold.
More like a palace is this lonely home,
With marble terraces and princely lands;
Rare paintings fill each high and finished room,
And marble statues made by master hands.
Without, a view of waves, and skies, and flowers;
Within a dim, luxurious sense of hours,
Of ease and wealth; a spot where one could dwell
Forever 'neath some strange, enchanted spell.
Upon the steps a woman stands--alone,
Her lovely face, a trifle paler grown
Since last we looked upon its haunting grace.
Yet still the same child mouth, the radiant eyes,
The dauntless pride, that time cannot efface.
Before her gazes the earth in beauty lies;
Awhile she stands and gaze on the scene
With dreamy, far-off looks and thoughtful mien.
Then wends her way to where the flowers lie,
She lingers here, she cannot pass them by,
And as she bends to touch each smiling flower,
Her hands seem gifted with a magic power
That draws unto herself their clinging love,
As human tendrils drawn to God above.
At last with ling'ring steps she takes her way
To where great massive rocks like near the bay;
Upon a rock which seems a resting place,
Just formed by Nature for some tired queen,
She half reclines, and upward lifts her face
To drink in all the glory of the scene.
Low on her cheeks the veiling lashes sweep
That hid the languid fire within her eyes,
Like shadows fall'n on flowers that softly sleep
Beneath Night's falling dews and bending skies.
Her dark brown hair, with gleams of flitting gold,
Her queenly head encircles as a crown;
A wealth of hair whose careless waves enfold
The quivering sunlight, and its rays chain down.
But soon she starts, for even at her side
There stands a youthful from with fearless pride;
At first upon her face a deep surprise,
And then a haughty look within her eyes,
As turning round she views the handsome face
So near her own with careless, easy grace.
"Why come you here?" she says, "why follow me?
Oh! from thy presence can I ne'er be free?"
"Arline!" he tosses back his sunny hair,
Half kneels before her with a humble air;
"Forgive me, for the fault indeed is mine
To love too well, and for thy face to ever pine.
But oh! Arline, without thee life is naught,
An idle dream, with only longings fraught;
And once, Arline, you listened to my prayer,
Nor turned away with cold and haughty air."
She looks upon him with a face aglow:
"Why bring back memories of the long ago?
The past is dead, wake not its depths again,
Lest such remembrance bring thee only pain.
'Tis true that once a careless, heedless child,
Bewildered by the world, by fame beguiled,
I have allowed my heart to hear thy prayer."
"Yes, yes, Arline," he speaks with eager air,
"I know full well your love was mine, and I
Now claim the hand your heart cannot deny."
"Lorraine, how can you speak such words to me?
My love was never thine, my heart is free;
You know full well I was but kind, Lorraine,
When from thy love I fled to save thee pain.
When first I met the world a vision came
So bright--of glorious power and wealth and fame;
A part of that bright dream your worship seemed,
That you could claim my heart I little dreamed.
Yet soon I woke and with an earnest will
I sought thy mind with deeper thoughts to fill.
It mattered not, your heart's bright flame still burned;--
What were your flowers, your jeweled love to me?--
I loved thee not; each one I would have spurned,
Had not my woman's heart been kind to thee.
At last to fly from thee, the season o'er,
I refuge sought upon this lonely shore;
And though the riches of the world were thine,
They could not win for thee one thought of mine."
His face grows darker with a fiery pride,
His eyes flash forth the love he cannot hide;
He rises to his feet, across his soul
A passionate fury his will cannot control,
"Arline, you know not what is love!
To tell me this, for by the fates above,
You shall be mine! See, yonder is my boat,
Upon the waves with me you soon shall float.
Hush! rouse me not or you shall see
What angry might your scorn has wrought in me."
"Lorraine!" she meets his gaze with fearless eyes,
Though on each cheek a burning crimson lies.
She folds her arms and stands before him there
A womanly woman, pure, and good, and fair.
She says no word, but who can tell the power
An earnest woman wields in such an hour?
He turns away--a silence falls--the night
Is coming on, the sun has taken flight,
Upon the skies a veiling shadow lies.
She moves not--from her face the color dies
And leaves it pale and calm.
Unto her side
He comes again: "Forgive my hasty pride,
Arline, for me thou are too purely good,
And far above me is thy womanhood."
For answer she extends her jeweled hand,
He takes it with a loving awe, as though
It were a sacred thing, and thus they stand.
At last he speaks: "Arline, before I go
The secrets of thy life I'll tell to thee,
That you may see 'tis not unknown to me.
You say you ne'er have loved--'tis false, before
You sought for fame, upon a wild, dark shore,
You lived and loved"--to Arline's questioning eyes
There came a startled look--a vague surprise--
"The one you loved, Arline, no more loves you,
Although, perchance, you dream that he is true."
Why grow so pale, Arline, why stand so still?
Have you no woman's pride? no woman's will?
Why should you care? the world is yours and fame,
And worldly hearts will love you all the same.
It matters not, you parted long ago,
To meet no more. Why bend your head so low!
Lorraine is watching you with searching eyes,
Before his gaze your poor heart quivering lies;
He still speaks on, his words are sure, though slow,
They find the truth he long has sought to know.
Back from her face she sweeps the heavy hair,
And looks up with a proud, unconquered air;
Ah! few have wills like hers to do or die,
To hide each wound, to still each longing cry.
"Lorraine, the secrets of my life are mine,
You have no right to solve its mystery;
Why seek to penetrate my heat's design?
How sensitive a human heart can be,
You do not seem to know nor even care;
You tell me that you love, yet love is rare
And generous, its truth you ne'er can know,
If thus within the dust you trail it low."
The night has come, the clouds are hanging low,
Their splendor gone, the wind begins to blow,
It shifts the clouds across the gloomy sky,
Now lashed to foam the troubled waters lie.
The sails are hurrying home, the sea bird flies
Around and round with frightened, screaming cries.
From rock to rock across the frowning hill,
And deep within the vale, a muttering sound
Of far-off thunder rolls along the ground,
A herald of the storm, then all is still.
And yet they heed it not, "Arline! Arline!"
He cries with flashing eyes, "my peerless queen,
I cannot give you up, you must be mine;
You thrill my heart, your beauty divine.
What matters it though you have loved before,
You cannot love him now, that dream is o'er.
Look up, Arline, within your starry eyes
There lies for me the only paradise;
I care not for the heaven or earth below--
If you are mine, what care I more to know?
A woman's love can make man what it will,
For love and thee my heart is throbbing still.
Oh! quick, Arline, for see on yonder height
The lightning circles round with flashing light,
It grows so dark--I scarce can see your face,
Give me your hand, I'll lead you to the place
Where waits my boat; before the storm comes on
We'll reach the farther coast, for I am strong
His face is close to hers--she starts
And with a shudder shuts her frightened eyes;
A silence as of death--the storm-cloud parts;
A sheet of lightning flashes o'er the skies,
It blinds his eyes, then all is dark again.
Where is Arline? She is not there, in vain
His search--how fierce the storm, how black the night!
Another lurid flash--what fearful sight
Is this? Arline upon the ground, her head
Against the rocks, as pallid as the dead.
And look! on one fair temple lies a stain
Of blood, and on her dusky veil of hair,
The crimson moisture too--what cruel pain
The rocks have caused; and yet how pale and fair
She lies, unconscious of the rain and storm.
"Oh, God! what fearful sight is this to see!"
Half frantic he attempts to lift her form
Into his arms--but no, it shall not be,
For suddenly a hand is laid on his
With iron grasp; upon the stormy air
A voice rings out, "To touch her do not dare,
Or you shall pay the penalty of this;
If she is dead 'tis by your hand alone--
One pitying thought your dark soul does not own.
Begone, or here beneath this angry sky,
Upon these rocks one of us two must die.
Ah! think you not, you fair-faced, proud Lorraine,
I know you not; and well I know the pain
You gave Arline; her lovely grace is far
Above you as the highest, holiest star
That decks God's throne; then go and leave her here,
For sacred as the dead she is to me."
'Tis Adrian--he drops upon one knee
And looks upon her face with dread and fear,
Then tenderly he wipes away the red,
Dark stains, and with a strong, yet tender grace,
Uplifts her to his arms.
Her marble face
Lies close unto his own--he bends his head
And is he any less the man because one tear
Falls on that wayward face so proud and dear?
What thoughts are his! they parted long ago
To meet again, but how? Ah! who can know
What bitterness he feels--that slender form
Within his arms. Beneath the fierce wild storm
He hurries to her stately home, and there
Her followers wait with hushed and frightened air.
Oh! can it be that she is dead, Arline--
The idol of his heart, the world's proud queen?
No, no; it must not be, her white lids move,
She wakes once more to life and song and love.
The pale lips quiver with a sudden pain,
The lashes half unveil the eyes again.
He gives her up, and leaves her to their care--
When she awakes she must not find him there.
Oh! brave, warm heart, your love indeed is true,
You give your all though naught is given you.
True love is like the watching stars of night,
They shine for aye though eyes see not their light.
And Adrian, fear not, God hears your cry,
In His strong hand your fears and sorrows lie.
And what is life?--a pleasure and a pain,
A vision of the sun--a day of rain.
And what is love?--a dream, a chain of gold
That turns to iron bands when love is cold.
What matters they?--the visions of our youth,
Through years of sorrow we must pass to truth.
A woman's life is full of longing days,
Her heart is not content to live on praise;
She must have more; a woman measures life
By length of love, a man by deeds and strife.
Arline! once more we greet thy sunny face.
Once more behold thy noble, earnest grace;
But ah, how changed! the hopes of youth are dead;
Life's dark unrest has bowed thy proud young head,
And fame the mocking vision of thy youth,
Has led thee from the paths of peace and truth.
With longing eyes Arline is standing now,
Her arms are folded with a weary air;
The same deep pride is written on her brow,
As once was there of old; her gold-brown hair
Is gathered back in careless waves of light
That hide a scar--the memory of one night.
Her eyes look down, her dark robes sweep the floor--
She starts, for some one passes through the door;
She glances up--recoils with haughty pride,
Which all her self-possession cannot hide;
Then with a look of pity on her face
She meets Lorraine with kind, forgiving grace.
"Arline, I would that I had died indeed
Before I gave thee pain, my heart has need
Of thy forgiveness, else I cannot live,
I crave the boon that only thou canst give."
"Lorraine, the highest graces of a woman's heart
Are purity and truth, no cunning art
Can e'er replace these gifts; 'gainst sin and wrong
They are her surest safe-guards, and her guide
In life. With these she conquers man's dark pride
And wins the tributes that to Heaven belong.
To womanhood belongs forgiveness too,
And therefore is my pardon given you."
With humbled pride he bowed his proud young head,
Then looking in her face he gently said:
"'Tis nobly given; if women were all like thee,
Arline, how many truer men would be
Within this world; for man will ever go
Where woman leads. And on this earth below
The grandest masterpiece of Nature's art
Must ever be a woman's sinless heart.
For thee, Arline, the passion of my life is dead;
The feverish dream is o'er, and in its stead,
There comes a reverence f