Statio Sexta

A poem by Thomas Edward Brown

Ha! snow
Upon the crags!
How slow
The winter lags
Ha, little lamb upon the crags,
How fearlessly you go!
Take care
Up there,
You little woolly atom! On and on
He goes . . . ‘tis steep . . . Hillo!
My friend is gone,
Friend orthodoxo-logical,
He could not argue with a waterfall!
And here it is, my Aber . . . Stay!
I’ll cross
This way:
The moss
Upon these stones is dripping with the spray,
And now one turn, left hand,
And I shall stand
Before the very rock: not yet . . . not yet!
O let me think ! No, no ! I don’t forget
(Forget!) but this is sacred . . . peace, then, peace!
From all dead things, that serve not to present
At my soul’s grate the lovely innocent.
He had heard some idle talk
Of how his father had great strength to walk
And climb;
And so he thought that he must lose no time,
But instantly addressed
His little breast
To that tall cliff
Smooth, perpendicular, too stiff
For cragsman from the wildest Hebrides,
But he did bend his knees,
And spread his little arms, and laid
His body to the work, and made
Such genuine effort of ascent
As though he meant
To reach the top, of course, and had no doubt
Of what he was about,
So serious, no passing whim,
O, no! ‘Twas thus his father clomb
And he had come
To climb like him.
And is he here?
O Braddan, are you here?
O darling, have no fear!
Speak to me! breathe some fond thing in my ear
But what should Braddan know
Of me, and what I am,
And what I want, the little lamb!
What should he know,
Who four brief years ago
Knew only what a little child should
Should some kind angel, who doth teach my child,
Some angel with the love-deep eyes,
Some angel charged to keep him undefiled,
Hear my sad cries,
And bring him unto me,
Is my whole heart a thing for him to see?
Am I prepared that his sweet honesty
Should search it through and through?
O, eyes of honest blue!
O, fearless eyes!
O, mild surprise!
O, is there one, one chamber of my heart
That’s fit
For him to sit
Therein, till it is time to part?
Or could I come to him?
No matter where, Swim,
Swim the dark river, and be there?
Could a deep acquiescence
Convey me to his presence?
And if it could,
What were it after all
But as a young prince stood
Upon the city wall,
And saw his foster-father at the gate,
And wondered at his mean estate,
And made no sign
Unto the warders? But my Braddan’s mine!
Mine! mine! and none’s beside!
O helpless men, has everything been tried?
Where does the secret bide?
Is it a simple thing perhaps?
Yea, after all, a very simple thing,
That through the lapse
Of all the ages any tide
Might bring,
Nay, every tide has brought
Up to the level of our thought?
Is the blest converse that I crave
The function of a faculty we have,
But know not how to use, being, by some dark mischance
Time-prisoned in a rooted ignorance?
A faculty which, if no God forbad it,
An accident might bring to light,
And some one, somewhere, waking in the night,
Would know he had it.
But we are cumbered with our egotisms;
A thousand prisms,
Hung round our souls, refract the single ray,
That else would show us instantly the way.
So even now, when my sad heart aspires
To height of paramount desires,
These verses mock it
With their rhyme-jangles, frustrate as a rocket,
That mounts, and breaks, and falls in coloured fading fire
A curse
Upon the impotent verse!
Yet, no!
Not so, It may be that in these
The soul shall yet win something more than ease
For song is of the essence, and who sings
Touches the central springs,
Ah, vain imaginings!
Let be! let be!
O Braddan, pity me!
Yes, yes!
I know there is another way, press, press,
And I will press, sweet Braddan.
Sink thought ‘sink, sink
To think
Is but to madden
Stop, heart!
You have no part
In this, die, soul:
Die, die! it must be soon,
The barrier’s but a film; one gasp, and I shall swoon
Into his arms,
Braddan! why, Braddan! see, I keep my tryst,
O God! O Christ!
That snow
Is very slow
To disappear: how winter lags!
I see the darn
Upon the crags
But nowhere can I see the little lamb

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