Toll.' 'The bell-bird sounding far away,
Hid in a myall grove.' He raised his head,
The bush glowed scarlet in descending day,
A masterless wild country - and he said,
My father ('Toll.') 'Full oft by her to stray,
As if a spirit called, have I been led;
Oft seems she as an echo in my soul
('Toll.') from my native towers by Avon ('Toll').
('Toll.') Oft as in a dream I see full fain
The bell-tower beautiful that I love well,
A seemly cluster with her churches twain.
I hear adown the river faint and swell
And lift upon the air that sound again,
It is, it is - how sweet no tongue can tell,
For all the world-wide breadth of shining foam,
The bells of Evesham chiming "Home, sweet home."
The mind hath mastery thus - it can defy
The sense, and make all one as it DID HEAR -
Nay, I mean more; the wraiths of sound gone by
Rise; they are present 'neath this dome all clear.
ONE, sounds the bird - a pause - then doth supply
Some ghost of chimes the void expectant ear;
Do they ring bells in heaven? The learnedest soul
Shall not resolve me such a question. ('Toll.')
('Toll.') Say I am a boy, and fishing stand
By Avon ('Toll.') on line and rod intent,
How glitters deep in dew the meadow land -
What, dost thou flit, thy ministry all spent,
Not many days we hail such visits bland,
Why steal so soon the rare enravishment?
Ay gone! the soft deceptive echoes roll
Away, and faint into remoteness.' ('Toll.')
While thus he spoke the doom'd sun touched his bed
In scarlet, all the palpitating air
Still loyal waited on. He dipped his head,
Then all was over, and the dark was there;
And northward, lo! a star, one likewise red
But lurid, starts from out her day-long lair,
Her fellows trail behind; she bears her part,
The balefullest star that shines, the Scorpion's heart
Or thus of old men feigned, and then did fear,
Then straight crowd forth the great ones of the sky
In flashing flame at strife to reach more near.
The little children of Infinity,
They next look down as to report them 'Here,'
From deeps all thoughts despair and heights past high,
Speeding, not sped, no rest, no goal, no shore,
Still to rush on till time shall be no more.
'Loved vale of Evesham, 'tis a long farewell,
Not laden orchards nor their April snow
These eyes shall light upon again; the swell
And whisper of thy storied river know,
Nor climb the hill where great old Montfort fell
In a good cause hundreds of years ago;
So fall'n, elect to live till life's ally,
The river of recorded deeds, runs dry.
This land is very well, this air,' saith he,
'Is very well, but we want echoes here.
Man's past to feed the air and move the sea;
Ages of toil make English furrows dear,
Enriched by blood shed for his liberty,
Sacred by love's first sigh and life's last fear,
We come of a good nest, for it shall yearn
Poor birds of passage, but may not return,
Spread younger wings, and beat the winds afar.
There sing more poets in that one small isle
Than all isles else can show - of such you are;
Remote things come to you unsought erewhile,
Near things a long way round as by a star.
Wild dreams!' He laughed, 'A sage right infantile;
With sacred fear behold life's waste deplored,
Undaunted by the leisure of the Lord.
Ay go, the island dream with eyes make good,
Where Freedom rose, a lodestar to your race;
And Hope that leaning on her anchor stood
Did smile it to her feet: a right small place.
Call her a mother, high such motherhood,
Home in her name and duty in her face;
Call her a ship, her wide arms rake the clouds,
And every wind of God pipes in her shrouds.
Ay, all the more go you. But some have cried
"The ship is breaking up;" they watch amazed
While urged toward the rocks by some that guide;
Bad steering, reckless steering, she all dazed
Tempteth her doom; yet this have none denied
Ships men have wrecked and palaces have razed,
But never was it known beneath the sun,
They of such wreckage built a goodlier one.
God help old England an't be thus, nor less
God help the world.' Therewith my mother spake,
'Perhaps He will! by time, by faithlessness,
By the world's want long in the dark awake,
I think He must be almost due: the stress
Of the great tide of life, sharp misery's ache,
In a recluseness of the soul we rue
Far off, but yet - He must be almost due.
God manifest again, the coming King.'
Then said my father, 'I beheld erewhile,
Sitting up dog-like to the sunrising,
The giant doll in ruins by the Nile,
With hints of red that yet to it doth cling,
Fell, battered, and bewigged its cheeks were vile,
A body of evil with its angel fled,
Whom and his fellow fiends men worshipped.
The gods die not, long shrouded on their biers,
Somewhere they live, and live in memory yet;
Were not the Israelites for forty years
Hid from them in the desert to forget -
Did they forget? no more than their lost feres
Sons of to-day with faces southward set,
Who dig for buried lore long ages fled,
And sift for it the sand and search the dead.
Brown Egypt gave not one great poet birth,
But man was better than his gods, with lay
He soothed them restless, and they zoned the earth,
And crossed the sea; there drank immortal praise;
Then from his own best self with glory and worth
And beauty dowered he them for dateless days.
Ever "their sound goes forth" from shore to shore,
When was there known an hour that they lived more.
Because they are beloved and not believed,
Admired not feared, they draw men to their feet;
All once, rejected, nothing now, received
Where once found wanting, now the most complete;
Man knows to-day, though manhood stand achieved,
His cradle-rockers made a rustling sweet;
That king reigns longest which did lose his crown,
Stars that by poets shine are stars gone down.
Still drawn obedient to an unseen hand,
From purer heights comes down the yearning west,
Like to that eagle in the morning land,
That swooping on her predatory quest,
Did from the altar steal a smouldering brand,
The which she bearing home it burned her nest,
And her wide pinions of their plumes bereaven.
Spoiled for glad spiring up the steeps of heaven.
I say the gods live, and that reign abhor,
And will the nations it should dawn? Will they
Who ride upon the perilous edge of war?
Will such as delve for gold in this our day?
Neither the world will, nor the age will, nor
The soul - and what, it cometh now? Nay, nay,
The weighty sphere, unready for release,
Rolls far in front of that o'ermastering peace.
Wait and desire it; life waits not, free there
To good, to evil, thy right perilous -
All shall be fair, and yet it is not fair.
I thank my God He takes th'advantage thus;
He doth not greatly hide, but still declare
Which side He is on and which He loves, to us,
While life impartial aid to both doth lend,
And heed not which the choice nor what the end.
Among the few upright, O to be found,
And ever search the nobler path, my son,
Nor say 'tis sweet to find me common ground
Too high, too good, shall leave the hours alone -
Nay, though but one stood on the height renowned,
Deny not hope or will, to be that one.
Is it the many fall'n shall lift the land,
The race, the age! - Nay, 't is the few that stand.'
While in the lamplight hearkening I sat mute,
Methought 'How soon this fire must needs burn out'
Among the passion flowers and passion fruit
That from the wide verandah hung, misdoubt
Was mine. 'And wherefore made I thus long suit
To leave this old white head? His words devout,
His blessing not to hear who loves me so -
He that is old, right old - I will not go.'
But ere the dawn their counsels wrought with me,
And I went forth; alas that I so went
Under the great gum-forest canopy,
The light on every silken filament
Of every flower, a quivering ecstasy
Of perfect paleness made it; sunbeams sent
Up to the leaves with sword-like flash endued
Each turn of that grey drooping multitude.
I sought to look as in the light of one
Returned. 'Will this be strange to me that day?
Flocks of green parrots clamorous in the sun
Tearing out milky maize - stiff cacti grey
As old men's beards - here stony ranges lone,
Their dust of mighty flocks upon their way
To water, cloudlike on the bush afar,
Like smoke that hangs where old-world cities are.
Is it not made man's last endowment here
To find a beauty in the wilderness;
Feel the lorn moor above his pastures dear,
Mountains that may not house and will not bless
To draw him even to death? He must insphere
His spirit in the open, so doth less
Desire his feres, and more that unvex'd wold
And fine afforested hills, his dower of old.
But shall we lose again that new-found sense
Which sees the earth less for our tillage fair?
Oh, let her speak with her best eloquence
To me, but not her first and her right rare
Can equal what I may not take from hence.
The gems are left: it is not otherwhere
The wild Nepèan cleaves her matchless way,
Nor Sydney harbour shall outdo the day.
Adding to day this - that she lighteth it.'
But I beheld again, and as must be
With a world-record by a spirit writ,
It was more beautiful than memory,
Than hope was more complete.
Tall brigs did sit
Each in her berth the pure flood placidly,
Their topsails drooping 'neath the vast blue dome
Listless, as waiting to be sheeted home.
And the great ships with pulse-like throbbing clear,
Majestical of mien did take their way
Like living creatures from some grander sphere,
That having boarded ours thought good to stay,
Albeit enslaved. They most divided here
From God's great art and all his works in clay,
In that their beauty lacks, though fair it shows
That divine waste of beauty only He bestows.
The day was young, scarce out the harbour lights
That morn I sailed: low sun-rays tremulous
On golden loops sped outward. Yachts in flights
Flutter'd the water air-like clear, while thus
It crept for shade among brown rocky bights
With cassia crowned and palms diaphanous,
And boughs ripe fruitage dropping fitfully,
That on the shining ebb went out to sea.
'Home,' saith the man self-banished, 'my son
Shall now go home.' Therewith he sendeth him
Abroad, and knows it not, but thence is won,
Rescued, the son's true home. His mind doth limn
Beautiful pictures of it, there is none
So dear, a new thought shines erewhile but dim,
'That was my home, a land past all compare,
Life, and the poetry of life, are there.'
But no such thought drew near to me that day;
All the new worlds flock forth to greet the old,
All the young souls bow down to own its sway,
Enamoured of strange richness manifold;
Not to be stored, albeit they seek for aye,
Besieging it for its own life to hold,
E'en as Al Mamoun fain for treasures hid,
Stormed with an host th' inviolate pyramid.
And went back foiled but wise to walled Bagdad.
So I, so all. The treasure sought not found,
But some divine tears found to superadd
Themselves to a long story. The great round
Of yesterdays, their pathos sweet as sad,
Found to be only as to-day, close bound
With us, we hope some good thing yet to know,
But God is not in haste, while the lambs grow
The Shepherd leadeth softly. It is great
The journey, and the flock forgets at last
(Earth ever working to obliterate
The landmarks) when it halted, where it passed;
And words confuse, and time doth ruinate,
And memory fail to hold a theme so vast;
There is request for light, but the flock feeds,
And slowly ever on the Shepherd leads.
'Home,' quoth my father, and a glassy sea
Made for the stars a mirror of its breast,
While southing, pennon-like, in bravery
Of long drawn gold they trembled to their rest.
Strange the first night and morn, when Destiny
Spread out to float on, all the mind oppressed;
Strange on their outer roof to speed forth thus,
And know th' uncouth sea-beasts stared up at us.
But yet more strange the nights of falling rain,
That splashed without - a sea-coal fire within;
Life's old things gone astern, the mind's disdain,
For murmurous London makes soft rhythmic din.
All courtier thoughts that wait on words would fain
Express that sound. The words are not to win
Till poet made, but mighty, yet so mild
Shall be as cooing of a cradle-child.
Sensation like a piercing arrow flies,
Daily out-going thought. This Adamhood,
This weltering river of mankind that hies
Adown the street; it cannot be withstood.
The richest mundane miles not otherwise
Than by a symbol keep possession good,
Mere symbol of division, and they hold
The clear pane sacred, the unminted gold
And wild outpouring of all wealth not less.
Why this? A million strong the multitude,
And safe, far safer than our wilderness
The walls; for them it daunts with right at feud,
Itself declares for law; yet sore the stress
On steeps of life: what power to ban and bless,
Saintly denial, waste inglorious,
Desperate want, and riches fabulous.
Of souls what beautiful embodiment
For some; for some what homely housing writ;
What keen-eyed men who beggared of content
Eat bread well earned as they had stolen it;
What flutterers after joy that forward went,
And left them in the rear unqueened, unfit
For joy, with light that faints in strugglings drear
Of all things good the most awanting here.
Some in the welter of this surging tide
Move like the mystic lamps, the Spirits Seven,
Their burning love runs kindling far and wide,
That fire they needed not to steal from heaven,
'Twas a free gift flung down with them to bide,
And be a comfort for the hearts bereaven,
A warmth, a glow, to make the failing store
And parsimony of emotion more.
What glorious dreams in that find harbourage,
The phantom of a crime stalks this beside,
And those might well have writ on some past page,
In such an hour, of such a year, we - died,
Put out our souls, took the mean way, false wage,
Course cowardly; and if we be denied
The life once loved, we cannot alway rue
The loss; let be: what vails so sore ado.
And faces pass of such as give consent
To live because 'tis not worth while to die;
This never knew the awful tremblement
When some great fear sprang forward suddenly,
Its other name being hope - and there forthwent
As both confronted him a rueful cry
From the heart's core, one urging him to dare,
'Now! now! Leap now.' The other, 'Stand, forbear.'
A nation reared in brick. How shall this be?
Nor by excess of life death overtake.
To die in brick of brick her destiny,
And as the hamadryad eats the snake
His wife, and then the snake his son, so she
Air not enough, 'though everyone doth take
A little,' water scant, a plague of gold,
Light out of date - a multitude born old.
And then a three-day siege might be the end;
E'en now the rays get muddied struggling down
Through heaven's vasty lofts, and still extend
The miles of brick and none forbid, and none
Forbode; a great world-wonder that doth send
High fame abroad, and fear no setting sun,
But helpless she through wealth that flouts the day
And through her little children, even as they.
But forth of London, and all visions dear
To eastern poets of a watered land
Are made the commonplace of nature here,
Sweet rivers always full, and always bland.
Beautiful, beautiful! What runlets clear
Twinkle among the grass. On every hand
Fall in the common talk from lips around
The old names of old towns and famous ground.
It is not likeness only charms the sense,
Not difference only sets the mind aglow,
It is the likeness in the difference,
Familiar language spoken on the snow,
To have the Perfect in the Present tense,
To hear the ploughboy whistling, and to know,
It smacks of the wild bush, that tune - 'Tis ours,
And look! the bank is pale with primrose flowers,
What veils of tender mist make soft the lea,
What bloom of air the height; no veils confer
On warring thought or softness or degree
Or rest. Still falling, conquering, strife and stir.
For this religion pays indemnity.
She pays her enemies for conquering her.
And then her friends; while ever, and in vain
Lots for a seamless coat are cast again.
Whose it shall be; unless it shall endow
Thousands of thousands it can fall to none,
But faith and hope are not so simple now,
As in the year of our redemption - One.
The pencil of pure light must disallow
Its name and scattering, many hues put on,
And faith and hope low in the valley feel,
There it is well with them, 'tis very well.
The land is full of vision, voices call.
Can spirits cast a shadow? Ay, I trow
Past is not done, and over is not all,
Opinion dies to live and wanes to grow,
The gossamer of thought doth filmlike fall,
On fallows after dawn make shimmering show,
And with old arrow-heads, her earliest prize,
Mix learning's latest guess and last surmise.
There heard I pipes of fame, saw wrens 'about
That time when kings go forth to battle' dart,
Full valorous atoms pierced with song, and stout
To dare, and down yclad; I shared the smart
Of grievèd cushats, bloom of love, devout
Beyond man's thought of it. Old song my heart
Rejoiced, but O mine own forelders' ways
To look on, and their fashions of past days.
The ponderous craft of arms I craved to see,
Knights, burghers, filtering through those gates ajar,
Their age of serfdom with my spirit free;
We cannot all have wisdom; some there are
Believe a star doth rule their destiny,
And yet they think to overreach the star,
For thought can weld together things apart,
And contraries find meeting in the heart.
In the deep dust at Suez without sound
I saw the Arab children walk at eve,
Their dark untroubled eyes upon the ground,
A part of Time's grave quiet. I receive
Since then a sense, as nature might have found
Love kin to man's that with the past doth grieve;
And lets on waste and dust of ages fall
Her tender silences that mean it all.
We have it of her, with her; it were ill
For men, if thought were widowed of the world,
Or the world beggared of her sons, for still
A crownèd sphere with many gems impearled
She rolls because of them. We lend her will
And she yields love. The past shall not be hurled
In the abhorred limbo while the twain,
Mother and son, hold partnership and reign.
She hangs out omens, and doth burdens dree.
Is she in league with heaven? That knows but One.
For man is not, and yet his work we see
Full of unconscious omen darkly done.
I saw the ring-stone wrought at Avebury
To frame the face of the midwinter sun,
Good luck that hour they thought from him forth smiled
At midwinter the Sun did rise - the Child.
Still would the world divine though man forbore,
And what is beauty but an omen? - what
But life's deep divination cast before,
Omen of coming love? Hard were man's lot,
With love and toil together at his door,
But all-convincing eyes hath beauty got;
His love is beautiful, and he shall sue.
Toil for her sake is sweet, the omen true.
Love, love, and come it must, then life is found
Beforehand that was whole and fronting care,
A torn and broken half in durance bound
That mourns and makes request for its right fair
Remainder, with forlorn eyes cast around
To search for what is lost, that unaware
With not an hour's forebodement makes the day
From henceforth less or more for ever and aye.
Her name - my love's - I knew it not; who says
Of vagrant doubt for such a cause that stirs
His fancy shall not pay arrearages
To all sweet names that might perhaps be hers?
The doubts of love are powers. His heart obeys,
The world is in them, still to love defers,
Will play with him for love, but when 't begins
The play is high, and the world always wins.
For 'tis the maiden's world, and his no more.
Now thus it was: with new found kin flew by
The temperate summer; every wheatfield wore
Its gold, from house to house in ardency
Of heart for what they showed I westward bore -
My mother's land, her native hills drew nigh;
I was - how green, how good old earth can be -
Beholden to that land for teaching me.
And parted from my fellows, and went on
To feel the spiritual sadness spread
Adown long pastoral hollows. And anon
Did words recur in far remoteness said:
'See the deep vale ere dews are dried and gone,
Where my so happy life in peace I led,
And the great shadow of the Beacon lies -
See little Ledbury trending up the rise.
With peakèd houses and high market hall -
An oak each pillar - reared in the old days.
And here was little Ledbury, quaint withal,
The forest felled, her lair and sheltering place
She long time left in age pathetical.
'Great oaks' methought, as I drew near to gaze,
'Were but of small account when these came down,
Drawn rough-hewn in to serve the tree-girt town.
And thus and thus of it will question be
The other side the world.' I paused awhile
To mark. 'The old hall standeth utterly
Without or floor or side, a comely pile,
A house on pillars, and by destiny
Drawn under its deep roof I saw a file
Of children slowly through their way make good,
And lifted up mine eyes - and there - SHE STOOD.
She was so stately that her youthful grace
Drew out, it seemed, my soul unto the air,
Astonished out of breathing by her face
So fain to nest itself in nut-brown hair
Lying loose about her throat. But that old place
Proved sacred, she just fully grown too fair
For such a thought. The dimples that she had!
She was so truly sweet that it was sad.
I was all hers. That moment gave her power -
And whom, nay what she was, I scarce might know,
But felt I had been born for that good hour.
The perfect creature did not move, but so
As if ordained to claim all grace for dower.
She leaned against the pillar, and below
Three almost babes, her care, she watched the while
With downcast lashes and a musing smile.
I had been 'ware without a rustic treat,
Waggons bedecked with greenery stood anigh,
A swarm of children in the cheerful street
With girls to marshal them; but all went by
And none I noted save this only sweet:
Too young her charge more venturous sport to try,
With whirling baubles still they play content,
And softly rose their lisping babblement.
'O what a pause! to be so near, to mark
The locket rise and sink upon her breast;
The shadow of the lashes lieth dark
Upon her cheek. O fleeting time, O rest!
A slant ray finds the gold, and with a spark
And flash it answers, now shall be the best.
Her eyes she raises, sets their light on mine,
They do not flash nor sparkle - no - but shine.'
As I for very hopelessness made bold
Did off my hat ere time there was for thought,
She with a gracious sweetness, calm, not cold,
Acknowledged me, but brought my chance to nought
'This vale of imperfection doth not hold
A lovelier bud among its loveliest wrought!
She turns,' methought 'O do not quite forget
To me remains for ever - that we met.'
And straightway I went forth, I could no less,
Another light unwot of fall'n on me,
And rare elation and high happiness
Some mighty power set hands of mastery
Among my heartstrings, and they did confess
With wild throbs inly sweet, that minstrelsy
A nightingale might dream so rich a strain,
And pine to change her song for sleep again.
The harp thrilled ever: O with what a round
And series of rich pangs fled forth each note
Oracular, that I had found, had found
(Head waters of old Nile held less remote)
Golden Dorado, dearest, most renowned;
But when as 't were a sigh did overfloat,
Shaping 'how long, not long shall this endure,
Au jour le jour' methought, 'Aujour le jour'.
The minutes of that hour my heart knew well
Were like the fabled pint of golden grain,
Each to be counted, paid for, till one fell,
Grew, shot up to another world amain,
And he who dropped might climb it, there to dwell.
I too, I clomb another world full fain,
But was she there? O what would be the end,
Might she nor there appear, nor I descend?
All graceful as a palm the maiden stood;
Men say the palm of palms in tropic Isles
Doth languish in her deep primeval wood,
And want the voice of man, his home, his smiles,
Nor flourish but in his dear neighborhood;
She too shall want a voice that reconciles,
A smile that charms - how sweet would heaven so please -
To plant her at my door over far seas.
I paced without, nor ever liege in truth
His sovran lady watched with more grave eyes
Of reverence, and she nothing ware forsooth,
Did standing charm the soul with new surprise.
Moving flow on a dimpled dream of youth.
Look! look! a sunbeam on her. Ay, but lies
The shade more sweetly now she passeth through
To join her fellow maids returned anew.
I saw (myself to bide unmarked intent)
Their youthful ease and pretty airs sedate,
They are so good, they are so innocent,
Those Islanders, they learn their part so late,
Of life's demand right careless, dwell content
Till the first love's first kiss shall consecrate
Their future to a world that can but be
By their sweet martyrdom and ministry.
Most happy of God's creatures. Afterward
More than all women married thou wilt be,
E'en to the soul. One glance desired afford,
More than knight's service might'st thou ask of me.
Not any chance is mine, not the best word,
No, nor the salt of life withouten thee.
Must this all end, is my day so soon o'er?
Untroubled violet eyes, look once, - once more.
No, not a glance: the low sun lay and burned,
Now din of drum and cry of fife withal,
Blithe teachers mustering frolic swarms returned,
And new-world ways in that old market hall,
Sweet girls, fair women, how my whole heart yearned
Her to draw near who made my festival.
With others closing round, time speeding on,
How soon she would be gone, she would be gone!
Ay, but I thought to track the rustic wains,
Their goal desired to note, but not anigh,
They creaking down long hop ycrested lanes
'Neath the abiding flush of that north sky.
I ran, my horse I fetched, but fate ordains
Love shall breed laughter when th' unloving spy.
As I drew rein to watch the gathered crowd,
With sudden mirth an old wife laughed aloud.
Her cheeks like winter apples red of hue,
Her glance aside. To whom her speech - to me?
'I know the thing you go about to do -
The lady - ' 'What! the lady - ' 'Sir,' saith she,
('I thank you kindly, sir), I tell you true
She's gone,' and 'here's a coil' methought 'will be.'
'Gone - where?' ''Tis past my wit forsooth to say
If they went Malvern way or Hereford way.
A carriage took her up - where three roads meet
They needs must pass; you may o'ertake it yet.'
And 'Oyez, Oyez' peals adown the street,
'Lost, lost, a golden heart with pearls beset.'
'I know her, sir? - not I. To help this treat,
Many strange ladies from the country met.'
'O heart beset with pearls! my hope was crost.
Farewell, good dame. Lost! oh my lady lost.'
And 'Oyez, Oyez' following after me
On my great errand to the sundown went.
Lost, lost, and lost, whenas the cross road flee
Up tumbled hills, on each for eyes attent
A carriage creepeth.
'Though in neither she,
I ne'er shall know life's worst impoverishment,
An empty heart. No time, I stake my all,
To right! and chase the rose-red evenfall.
Fly up, good steed, fly on. Take the sharp rise
As't were a plain. A lady sits; but one.
So fast the pace she turns in startled wise,
She sets her gaze on mine and all is done.
"Persian Roxana" might have raised such eyes
When Alexander sought her. Now the sun
Dips, and my day is over; turn and fleet
The world fast flies, again do three roads meet.'
I took the left, and for some cause unknown
Full fraught of hope and joy the way pursued,
Yet chose strong reasons speeding up alone
To fortify me 'gainst a shock more rude.
E'en so the diver carrieth down a stone
In hand, lest he float up before he would,
And end his walk upon the rich sea-floor,
Those pearls he failed to grasp never to look on more.
Then as the low moon heaveth, waxen white,
The carriage, and it turns into a gate.
Within sit three in pale pathetic light.
O surely one of these my love, my fate.
But ere I pass they wind away from sight.
Then cottage casements glimmer. All elate
I cross a green, there yawns with opened latch
A village hostel capped in comely thatch.
'The same world made for all is made for each.
To match a heart's magnificence of hope.
How shall good reason best high action teach
To win of custom, and with home to cope
How warrantably may he hope to win
A star, that wants it? Shall he lie and grope,
No, truly. - I will see her; tell my tale,
See her this once, - and if I fail - I fail.'
Thus with myself I spoke. A rough brick floor
Made the place homely; I would rest me there.
But how to sleep? Forth of the unlocked door
I passed at midnight, lustreless white air
Made strange the hour, that ecstasy not o'er
I moved among the shadows, all my care -
Counted a shadow - her drawn near to bless,
Impassioned out of fear, rapt, motionless.
Now a long pool and water-hens at rest
(As doughty seafolk dusk, at Malabar)
A few pale stars lie trembling on its breast.
Hath the Most High of all His host afar
One most supremely beautiful, one best,
Dearest of all the flock, one favourite star?
His Image given, in part the children know
They love one first and best. It may be so.
Now a long hedge; here dream the woolly folk;
A majesty of silence is about.
Transparent mist rolls off the pool like smoke,
And Time is in his trance and night devout.
Now the still house. O an I knew she woke
I could not look, the sacred moon sheds out
So many blessings on her rooftree low,
Each more pathetic that she nought doth know.
I would not love a little, nor my start
Make with the multitude that love and cease.
He gives too much that giveth half a heart,
Too much for liberty, too much for peace.
Let me the first and best and highest impart,
The whole of it, and heaven the whole increase!
For that were not too much.
(In the moon's wake
How the grass glitters, for her sweetest sake.)
I would toward her walk the silver floors.
Love loathes an average - all extreme things deal
To love - sea-deep and dazzling height for stores.
There are on Fortune's errant foot can steal,
Can guide her blindfold in at their own doors,
Or dance elate upon her slippery wheel.
Courage! there are 'gainst hope can still advance,
Dowered with a sane, a wise extravagance.
To one a dreaming: when the dew
Falls, 'tis a time for rest; and when the bird
Calls, 'tis a time to wake, to wake for you.
A long-waking, aye, waking till a word
Come from her coral mouth to be the true
Sum of all good heart wanted, ear hath heard.
Yet if alas! might love thy dolour be,
Dream, dear heart dear, and do not dream of me.
To one awakened, when the heart
Cries 'tis a day for thought, and when the soul
Sighs choose thy part, O choose thy part, thy part.
I bring to one belovèd, bring my whole
Store, make in loving, make O make mine art
More. Yet I ask no, ask no wished goal
But this - if loving might thy dolour be,
Wake, O my lady loved, and love not me.
'That which the many win, love's niggard sum,
I will not, if love's all be left behind.
That which I am I cannot unbecome,
My past not unpossess, nor future blind.
Let me all risk, and leave the deep heart dumb
For ever, if that maiden sits enshrined
The saint of one more happy. She is she.
There is none other. Give her then to me.
Or else to be the better for her face
Beholding it no more.' Then all night through
The shadow moves with infinite dark grace.
The light is on her windows, and the dew
Comforts the world and me, till in my place
At moonsetting, when stars flash out to view,
Comes 'neath the cedar boughs a great repose,
The peace of one renouncing, and then a doze.
There was no dream, yet waxed a sense in me
Asleep that patience was the better way,
Appeasement for a want that needs must be,
Grew as the dominant mind forbore its sway,
Till whistling sweet stirred in the cedar tree -
I started - woke - it was the dawn of day.
That was the end. 'Slow solemn growth of light,
Come what come will, remains to me this night.'
It was the end, with dew ordained to melt,
How easily was learned, how all too soon
Not there, not thereabout such maiden dwelt.
What was it promised me so fair a boon?
Heart-hope is not less vain because heart-felt,
Gone forth once more in search of her at noon
Through the sweet country side on hill, on plain,
I sought and sought many long days in vain.
To Malvern next, with feathery woodland hung,
Whereto old Piers the Plowman came to teach,
On her green vasty hills the lay was sung,
He too, it may be, lisping in his speech,
'To make the English sweet upon his tongue.'
How many maidens beautiful, and each
Might him delight, that loved no other fair;
But Malvern blessed not me, - she was not there.
Then to that town, but still my fate the same.
Crowned with old works that her right well beseem,
To gaze upon her field of ancient fame
And muse on the sad thrall's most piteous dream,
By whom a 'shadow like an angel came,'
Crying out on Clarence, its wild eyes agleam,
Accusing echoes here still falter and flee,
'That stabbed me on the field by Tewkesbury.'
It nothing 'vailed that yet I sought and sought,
Part of my very self was left behind,
Till risen in wrath against th' o'ermastering thought,
'Let me be thankful,' quoth the better mind,
Thankful for her, though utterly to nought
She brings my heart's cry, and I live to find
A new self of the old self exigent
In the light of my divining discontent.
The picture of a maiden bidding 'Arise,
I am the Art of God. He shows by me
His great idea, so well as sin-stained eyes
Love aidant can behold it.'
Is this she?
Or is it mine own love for her supplies
The meaning and the power? Howe'er this be,
She is the interpreter by whom most near
Man's soul is drawn to beauty and pureness here.
The sweet idea, invisible hitherto,
Is in her face, unconscious delegate;
That thing she wots not of ordained to do:
But also it shall be her votary's fate,
Through her his early days of ease to eschew,
Struggle with life and prove its weary weight.
All the great storms that rising rend the soul,
Are life in little, imaging the whole.
Ay, so as life is, love is, in their ken
Stars, infant yet, both thought to grasp, to keep,
Then came the morn of passionate splendour, when
So sweet the light, none but for bliss could weep,
And then the strife, the toil; but we are men,
Strong, brave to battle with the stormy deep;
Then fear - and then renunciation - then
Appeals unto the Infinite Pity - and sleep.
But after life the sleep is long. Not so
With love. Love buried lieth not straight, not still,
Love starts, and after lull awakes to know
All the deep things again. And next his will,
That dearest pang is, never to forego.
He would all service, hardship, fret fulfill.
Unhappy love! and I of that great host
Unhappy love who cry, unhappy most.
Because renunciation was so short,
The starved heart so easily awaked;
A dream could do it, a bud, a bird, a thought,
But I betook me with that want which ached
To neighbour lands where strangeness with me wrought.
The old work was so hale, its fitness slaked
Soul-thirst for truth. 'I knew not doubt nor fear,'
Its language, 'war or worship, sure sincere.'
Then where by Art the high did best translate
Life's infinite pathos to the soul, set down
Beauty and mystery, that imperious hate
On its best braveness doth and sainthood frown,
Nay more the MASTER'S manifest pity - 'wait,
Behold the palmgrove and the promised crown.
He suffers with thee, for thee. - Lo the Child!
Comfort thy heart; he certainly so smiled.'
Thus love and I wore through the winter time.
Then saw her demon blush Vesuvius try,
Then evil ghosts white from the awful prime,
Thrust up sharp peaks to tear the tender sky.
'No more to do but hear that English chime'
I to a kinsman wrote. He made reply,
'As home I bring my girl and boy full soon,
I pass through Evesham, - meet me there at noon.
'The bells your father loved you needs must hear,
Seek Oxford next with me,' and told the day.
'Upon the bridge I'll meet you. What! how dear
Soever was a dream, shall it bear sway
To mar the waking?'
I set forth, drew near,
Beheld a goodly tower, twin churches grey,
Evesham. The bridge, and noon. I nothing knew
What to my heart that fateful chime would do.
For suddenly the sweet bells overcame
A world unsouled; did all with man endow;
His yearning almost tell that passeth name
And said they were full old, and they were now
And should be; and their sighing upon the same
For our poor sake that pass they did avow,
While on clear Avon flowed like man's short day
The shining river of life lapsing away.
The stroke of noon. The bell-bird! yes and no.
Winds of remembrance swept as over the foam
Of anti-natal shores. At home is it so,
My country folk? Ay, 'neath this pale blue dome,
Many of you in the moss lie low - lie low.
Ah! since I have not HER, give me too, home.
A footstep near! I turned; past likelihood,
Past hope, before me on the bridge - SHE STOOD.
A rosy urchin had her hand; this cried,
'We think you are our cousin - yes, you are;
I said so to Estelle.' The violet-eyed,
'If this be Geoffrey?' asked; and as from far
A doubt came floating up; but she denied
Her thought, yet blushed. O beautiful! my Star!
Then, with the lifting of my hat, each wore
That look which owned to each, 'We have met before.'
Then was the strangest bliss in life made mine;
I saw the almost worshipped - all remote;
The Star so high above that used to shine,
Translated from the void where it did float,
And brought into relation with the fine
Charities earth hath grown. A great joy smote
Me silent, and the child atween us tway,
We watched the lucent river stealing away.
While her deep eyes down on the ripple fell,
Quoth the small imp, '"How fast you go and go,
You Avon. Does it wish to stop, Estelle,
And hear the clock, and see the orchards blow?
It does not care! Not when the old big bell
Makes a great buzzing noise? - Who told you so?"
And then to me, "I like to hear it hum.
Why do you think that father could not come?"
Estelle forgot her violin. And he,
O then he said: "How careless, child, of you;
I must send on for it. 'T would pity be
If that were lost.
I want to learn it too;
And when I'm nine I shall."
Then turning, she
Let her sweet eyes unveil them to my view;
Her stately grace outmatched my dream of old,
But ah! the smile dull memory had not told.
My kinsman next, with care-worn kindly brow.
'Well, father,' quoth the imp, 'we've done our part.
We found him.'
And she, wholly girlish now,
Laid her young hand on his with lovely art
And sweet excuses. O! I made my vow
I would all dare, such life did warm my heart;
We journeyed, all the air with scents of price
Was laden, and the goal was Paradise.
When that the Moors betook them to their sand,
Their domination over in fair Spain,
Each locked, men say, his door in that loved land,
And took the key in hope to come again.
On Moorish walls yet hung, long dust each hand,
The keys, but not the might to use, remain;
Is there such house in some blest land for me?
I can, I will, I do reach down the key.
A country conquered oft, and long before,
Of generations aye ordained to win;
If mine the power, I will unlock the door.
Enter, O light, I bear a sunbeam in.
What, did the crescent wane! Yet man is more,
And love achieves because to heaven akin.
O life! to hear again that wandering bell,
And hear it at thy feet, Estelle, Estelle.
Full oft I want the sacred throated bird,
Over our limitless waste of light which spoke
The spirit of the call my fathers heard,
Saying 'Let us pray,' and old world echoes woke
Ethereal minster bells that still averr'd,
And with their phantom notes th' all silence broke.
'The fanes are far, but whom they shrined is near.
Thy God, the Island God, is here, is here.'
To serve; to serve a thought, and serve apart
To meet; a few short days, a maiden won.
'Ah, sweet, sweet home, I must divide my heart,
Betaking me to countries of the sun.'
'What straight-hung leaves, what rays that twinkle and dart,
Make me to like them.'
'Love, it shall be done,'
'What weird dawn-fire across the wide hill flies.'
'It is the flame-tree's challenge to yon scarlet skies.'
'Hark, hark, O hark! the spirit of a bell!
What would it? ('Toll.') An air-hung sacred call,
Athwart the forest shade it strangely fell' -
'Toll' - 'Toll.'
The longed-for voice, but ah, withal
I felt, I knew, it was my father's knell
That touched and could the over-sense enthrall.
Perfect his peace, a whispering pure and deep
As theirs who 'neath his native towers by Avon sleep.
If love and death are ever reconciled,
'T is when the old lie down for the great rest.
We rode across the bush, a sylvan wild
That was an almost world, whose calm oppressed
With audible silence; and great hills inisled
Rose out as from a sea. Consoling, blest
And blessing spoke she, and the reedflower spread,
And tall rock lilies towered above her head.
* * * * *
Sweet is the light aneath our matchless blue,
The shade below yon passion plant that lies,
And very sweet is love, and sweet are you,
My little children dear, with violet eyes,
And sweet about the dawn to hear anew
The sacred monotone of peace arise.
Love, 't is thy welcome from the air-hung bell,
Congratulant and clear, Estelle, Estelle.