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Title: Renascence
       A Book of Verse

Author: Walter Crane

Release Date: December 22, 2016 [EBook #53787]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK RENASCENCE ***




Produced by Charlene Taylor, Emmy and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net






RENASCENCE

cover

[i]

This Edition on Large Paper is limited to Sixty-five copies for England and Thirty-five for America. This copy is No. 45 of the English Edition.

·RENASCENCE·
·A·BOOK·of·
·VERSE·


BY
·WALTER·CRANE·


·London: ELKIN·
·MATHEWS·AT·THE·
·SIGN·OF·THE·BODLEY
·HEAD·IN·VIGO·ST·1891·

[ii]
[iii]

To ·M·F·C·
THIS sheaf that I have bound, of mingled grain,
Beneath the noon to give a spot of shade,
Where might we sit and mark, before they fade,
The fleeting lights across life’s dappled plain;
Ere with its treasured had Time’s rolling wain—
Piled up with memories, and thoughts unsaid,
With hopes and fears in trembling leaf and blade—
Turns sun-ward, where the harvest-home is made.
Perchance the tangled stems some flowers enfold,
Not all unmeet the brows of her to wreath,
Who with me bore the burden of the morn.
If yet the scarlet please not, on the corn,
Love’s blue is stedfast, and thy name in gold
Is writ by love’s wing-feather underneath.
decoration

[iv]
[v]

OF the poems in this book, the whole of those included in Part I. are now printed for the first time.

Of the rest, “The Sirens Three,” “Thoughts in a Hammock,” “A Herald of Spring,” and the Rondeau—“Across the Fields,” all appeared with designs of mine, as decorative pages, in “The English Illustrated Magazine,” “The Sirens Three” being afterwards issued, with the illustrations, in book-form, by Messrs. Macmillan and Co., whom I have to thank for permission to reprint it with the others here.

“Flora’s Feast,” with coloured designs of the flowers to each couplet, has been published as a Christmas book by Messrs. Cassell and Co., at whose consent it re-appears.

I regret there should have been any delay in the appearance of the book, which has been owing to the illness of the engraver who had charge of some of the blocks.

Walter Crane.
April, 1891.

[vi]
[vii]

Pandora opening large box

CONTENTS

Part I.
EARLIER POEMS.
  PAGE
Invocation 3
The City of Love 8
The House of Dreams 16
Love’s Labyrinth 31
The Dividing Gulf 43
The Valley of Deliverance 45
The Unknown Shore 51
The West Wind 53
The New Light 55
Hymn of Free Peoples 57
[viii]Twelve Sonnets of Love 63
 
Part II.
LATER POEMS
A Herald of Spring 77
Thoughts in a Hammock 80
The Sirens Three 89
Flora’s Feast 129
From Hellas Homeward 133
Rondeaus:
Beyond the Verge 139
The Old and New 140
Across the Fields 141
In Love’s Disport 142
What makes the World 143
Seed Time 144
A Seat for Three 145
Rondels:
When Time upon Wing 146
This Book of Hours 147
Triolet 148
Sonnets:
At Shelley’s Grave 151
The Voice of Spring 152
A Day in Early Spring 153
A Night in May 154
Illusions 155
[ix]On the Suppression of Free Speech at Chicago 156
Freedom in America 157
To the Prisoners of Liberty 158
Reminiscent 159
Of Hellas Dead 160
To the Hammersmith Choir 161
Renascence 162
decoration of man crouched down

[x]
[xi]

 LIST OF DESIGNS
No.         PAGE
1.  Frontispiece  Engraved on wood by Arthur Leverett
2.  Dedication Heading  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
3.  Tail-piece iii
4.  Contents Head.  
Engraved on wood by Arthur Leverett
5.  Tail. vii
6.  List of Designs Head.  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
xi
7.  ”” Tail. xiii
8.  Part I.  Title device  
Engraved on wood by Arthur Leverett
1
9.  Invocation Head.  
Engraved on wood by Arthur Leverett
3
10.  Tail. 7
11.  The City of Love Head.  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
8
12.  ”” Tail. 15
13.  The House of Dreams Head.  
Engraved on wood by Arthur Leverett
16
14.  ”” Tail. 30[xii]
15.  Love’s Labyrinth Head.  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
31
16.  The Dividing Gulf Head. 43
17.  The Valley of Deliverance    Head.  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
45
18.  ”” Tail. 50
19.  The Unknown Shore Head.  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
51
20.  ”” Tail. 52
21.  The West Wind Head.  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
53
22.  ”” Tail. 54
23.  The New Light Head.  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
55
  (Tail-piece No. 7 repeated.) 56
24.  Hymn of Free Peoples Head.  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
57
25.  Twelve Sonnets Title device  
Engraved on wood by Arthur Leverett
61
26.  Part II.  Title device 75
27.  A Herald of Spring Head.  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
77
28.  Thoughts in a Hammock Head.  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
80
29.  ””” Tail. 85
30.  The Siren’s Three Title device  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
87
31.  ”” Dedicatory 89
32.  ”” Head. 90
33.  ”” Tail. 128
34.  Flora’s Feast Head.  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
129[xiii]
35.  From Hellas Homeward Head.  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
133
36.  ”” Tail. 136
37.  Rondeaus, &c.  Title device  
Engraved on wood by Arthur Leverett
137
38.  Sonnets Title device  
Photo-engraved by Emery Walker and W. Boutall
149
39.  Pegasus Colophon  
Engraved on wood by Arthur Leverett
163
peacock

[1]

PART I. EARLIER POEMS

PART I. EARLIER POEM

[2]
[3]

INVOCATION

INVOCATION
O SOUL of souls, awake! Lift up thine eyes
To meet the dayspring, till their spherèd skies
Flash answering light to pierce the clinging veil
Of mists and shadows of the night grown pale.
Renascent, leave the tombment of thy bed,
Though rich with painted love of legend dead,
And gilded with the gold of hallowed time,
And dim with dreams and darkness of the prime.
O joy of Man, arise! Behold Time brings
Deliverance for thee, and thoughts’ swift wings
Are dyed afresh in iris hues of Hope
Who paints for thee, by her creative scope,
New heaven in earth renewed before thy sight,
With golden fields unreaped and fresh delight
Of flower, and fruit of no forbidden tree,
[4]Where Life is Love, and blooms sweet Liberty.
O Bride of Light! Like Aphrodite rise
From rosy waves of morn that crystallize
Thy sacred image in their mirror, smooth
As sculpture of the shining limbs they soothe;
And clothe thyself in pureness like the sun,
With lily lawn and blue of heaven, spun
From spotless fields of interstellar space—
A seamless shrine to keep thy inward grace.
Put on thy broidered robe, thy bride’s attire,
Put on thy glory, and the jewel fire
Of fearless thought, nor let thine handmaids spare,
All grateful tribute from the sweet and fair
To deck thy loveliness, and make appear
The fullness of the beauty thou dost wear:
But let no crown thy golden head dethrone
Except the coronal of wisdom’s own.
Fare forth, fair Bride, and from thy chamber come,
Lo! they are waiting who shall lead thee home:
The winged procession of the eager Hours,
Before thy feet to pave the way with flowers;
The Daughters of the Year, the Seasons Four,
Have decked the happy earth with sun and shower;
Each joyful mouth, each blissful day is swift
[5]To bring unto thy feet its treasured gift;
The Sisters Three, who plough, and sow, and reap,
Still gather thee Time’s grain in growing heap,
From golden age to golden age to be;
Their dreamful faces rapt in prophecy
Of veiled futurity’s potential hour
Where Fate prepareth thine immortal dower.
Arise, sweet soul! Arise, and take thy throne,
Upbuilt in ages long by stone on stone—
The human spirit’s still aspiring stair
Whose marble feet were laid in toil and care,
And washed with tears, and worn in eager quest
Of false and fleeting phantoms, seeking rest.
But now thy feet are fledged and would aspire
To climb the summit of thy hope’s desire,
High where in sculptured walls and towers rise
Her architecture, white in azure skies,
Tinged with the fire of dawn above thy head—
Ah! there, fair soul, thy marriage feast is spread.
And there, with Wisdom still, and Knowledge clear,
Sweet counsel shalt thou take, and without fear,
For Love will give thee law, and Love shall be
Thy chancellor and rule equality.
No sceptre shall thy white right hand e’er hold
[6]But sacred Freedom, brighter than the gold
Of kingships, and blessing by the power
That crowns life’s magic staff with bud and flower:
Nor be thy sister hand forgotten sole,
The while her slender fingers do control
The world’s large heart, and in its compass found
The wealth of all the universe embound.
And thou shalt open the eternal reign
Of Justice; while fair Peace, with all her train,
Shall sow the earth with blessings and impart
New joy and skill to men in Craft and Art;
To gather from all shores the scattered gems
With beauty’s pearls to deck thought’s diadems:
And Poesy shall fill thy courts with song,
And Commonwealth the ocean gateways throng
With white-winged messengers from all the lands
And tidings glad shall join the nation’s hands,
From riches and from penury set free,
And from the last dread link of slavery;
And eke from tyrant sword, and tyrant gold,
And priestly nightmare that the soul doth fold.
There Giant Labour in his strength new-found,
Rejoicing, shall go forth to break new ground,
One brotherhood with Art and Knowledge clear;
To bridge the gulf of space and bring men near;
[7]With fruitful brain and hand to bring new birth
Of Titan forces to subdue the earth,
And from the willing hands of nature draw
New benefits, and, owning but her law,
Out of her treasury things tried and true,
In human faith and hope to build anew
Man’s shattered house, and paint his storied wall
For Life and Love, a heritage for all.
decoration

[8]

·THE·CITY·OF·LOVE·

The City of Love
ABOUT the time when garlanded green May
At Summer’s threshold casts her blossom crown,
Time bore me on his wingèd wheels away,
Out of the joyless city where I lay,
From smoke-dimmed streets whose dusky skies disown
The day-god’s glorious face, serene that shows
This day of days, to reign in his fair house,
Cloud-built, and white, and interspaced with blue,
Above the green earth’s fields that I did pass,
Bearing ungathered harvests in their grass
Of star-bright flowers, and every magic hue
Born of the hours, and of the kindling zone
Sun-cast o’er wandering mead and upland lone,
That now on every hand mine eyes did fill,
As went the wheel whirl’d with the fiery will.
And always, as the changeful landscape spread
[9]Mead beyond mead, and furrow’d ridge and tree,
And traversed road, and bridge, and woodland lea;
Me seemèd as a chart my life to see,
What was, and is, and that which is to be,
As dark and bright the region’s face I read.
Nor yet I stay’d at all, but still with Time
Fled by, and onward many leagues, until,
About the height of day the wheel was still,
About the hour it was ere noon should chime,
And I look’d forth and saw dim-pointed spires,
Like flames, arising from a golden mead
Which burn’d with all the yellow crowded fires
Of shining cups that fill the fields of May:
Whereby a city fair mine eyes had heed,
Verged round with bowery close, and willows grey
Shading the silent water’s secret way,
Girdling the quiet town with cluster’d reed.
Thence rose no surge of men, or sound of strife,
But smoothly glode the even hours of life,
Told by the sweet-tongued bells in tuneful towers;
And in the streets there moved the breath of flowers,
And incense, such as riseth after showers
Upon deep gardens, hiding in their bowers
The inmost heart of sweetness.
Still my way
[10]Drew on, between high-window’d walls and old,
That to the street an ancient story told,
With solemn mien unto Life’s changing day,
In restless ebb and flow, as sea-waves play
About the feet of lonely cliff’s; tho’ now
Even these I pass’d, as fleeting things and vain,
For all my heart a strange consuming pain
Possess’d, in thought of what I hoped to gain
Fill’d with an exquisite fire, wherein did show
All things as dross, or gold of fairest vein:
As, since the gate of Love had oped for me,
I lived in hell or heavenly ecstasy.
But all things on this day had good import,
For even now I went to Love’s high court,
To greet my heart’s dear queen, where she did dwell
In this his holy city, where the streets
Seem’d gold, or like the burnish’d path which meets
The sun’s bright porch across the shining sea;
So in Love’s glory shone my way to me.
Until before her gate the splendour fell.
Robed in sweet grace and crowned with her hair,
I met my queen, upon her palace stair,
And near I was to fall and worship there,
As to her hand I brought a golden gift,
[11]Which she, my gracious sovereign, counted well,
And me unto her highest grace did lift,
Making me rich above all kingly state.
For side by side within her house we sate,
Or ’neath the azure canopy of heaven,
And every hour and every day, of seven,
Brought unto our feet their separate joy.
And every day the plenteous feast was spread
Before my grateful heart, and eyes, and lips
That drank the wine of Love and broke his bread,
And drew my soul delight thro’ honey sips
From the sweet source of sweet which may not cloy.
Then from Love’s banquet, rising, my beloved
Forth led me in the bond of her dear hand,
That we in his glad courts might understand
Fresh joyance; and thro’ all his realm we moved.
Adown the golden street my lady led,
Where pass’d us, to and fro, Love’s votaries—
The searchers of his book, within whose eyes
Was writ his name, whose chanting lips had said
His prayers and orisons within the shrines,
Dim-window’d, strange, and still with sacred air,
Stirr’d by the wings of singing spirits fair,
When the sweet anthem lifteth or declines,
[12]In organ waves that sweep along the lines
Of the soul’s shore, to break upon and die,
Soft on the soothed borders, silently.
We passéd by the door and enter’d in,
For in Love’s holy place we sought to win
High ecstasy whereon our souls might climb
Even to the utmost gate of golden bliss,
And know within the sanctuary of this,
Our dear inheritance in God’s good time.
Love’s service done, forth streamed from their place
His choristers and singing boys, attired
In white raiment, shining where they quired;
And after them we went with silent pace,
And towards the groves of pleasure turn’d our face,
Whence by green quietude of cloister’d stone,
And shadow’d courts that kept themselves alone,
And ’neath the carven boughs that interlace;
Until we came beneath the fairer roof
Of curtain’d leaves, light spread, of greenest woof,
Glowing between the stoney window fret,
As shines such light of paradise men get,
Dark-barr’d by care which holdeth them aloof
And binds their souls within life’s twisted net.
But enter’d we the joyful Eden gate,
[13]Where talk the trees of summer, and of green
More glorious than May’s bright head doth screen
Whereas she hideth from the flaming state,
When the all regal sun would penetrate,
Seeking dominion in the realm of shade,
Where now we thought to find sweet pleasure laid,
And take her sleeping, while the hours should wait.
Yea! hidden in the odorous aisles of May;
Whose fragrance fans the air which faints away,
There, in a labyrinth of leaves I caught her—
Whereby soft willows kiss the silent water—
I caught her, and I kiss’d, tho’ she did pray
Release, and said: “Thou canst not hold Time’s daughter.”
But her I held, nor let her thence depart
Till I had won her favourable grace;
And after oft we saw her fleeting face
Laugh through the leaves, and in our kindled heart
Were glad exceedingly, nor thought to part,
Content a little while in each fair place
To know a sweet above all flowery space.
My faint tongue faltereth when I would tell
What doors of joy we pass’d, what sights to seek,
But Love’s day endeth, and his holy week,
[14]Whose dear appointed feasts we kept full well;
Seeking Love’s face at morn and eventide,
Tho’ oft it was too bright to look upon,
Shining above the splendour of the sun,
A burning flame when day’s dim fire had died.
And now, the last of days, it came to pass
I with my Love, upon a space of grass,
Sate by a water which the willows kept
And silently the stream beneath them swept,
Secret as time, and still, and staying not;
Fair fell the sun thro’ glancing leaves above,
And fair on us did shine the sun of Love,
As one brief hour together we forgot
All earthly things in that enchanted plot—
The world of strife, and evil-favour’d care,
And misery whose voice was silent there:
Even so, a little while, our blissful lot.
A little while—but soon the end befel,
For Time, a sudden shadow, on us fell,
And loud above I heard his hateful bell
Clang in the tower to ring our sweet day’s knell.
Thence was I torn from my dear Love away,
And, as a dream, I lost upon that day
[15]My hold of joy, and slipp’d adown, adown.
Nor knew I more until I woke again
Unto the endless world with all its pain—
The sea-wide city, and the sad refrain
Of hungry waves that now my song would drown.
decoration

[16]

THE·HOVSE·OF·DREAMS

THE·HOVSE·OF·DREAMS
I SATE in my soul’s house one day
The world-wide book before me lay
And in mine eyes, as through a glass
The colours of all things did pass,
And thought and life, in mingled stream,
Strange semblance showed as in a dream.
My soul’s still house lies hid in trees,
And sitting in its porch one sees,
Before the feet, a garden green,
Amidst a wild and dark demesne,
When sight may range by lea and lawn,
From sunset to the gate of dawn,
Till through the utmost wood may be
[17]Descried a dim and dreadful sea.
Five gates it hath, five porches fair,
That know bright guests of light and air,
And through the windows, clear and high,
The winged thoughts come from earth and sky
That show me things by shore and sea,
And visions high of things to be.
Anigh the house a water clear,
Born of some secret crystal mere
Among the mountains of the land,
And flowing to the dim sea-strand;
But still and silent in its pace,
That in its smooth translucent face
Bright image flashed of many a thing,
And folk that passed in wandering,
With colours fresh of tree and flower.
Here kept my soul a secret bower;
And in the garden all the year
One plied his craft of gardener,
Nor slept between the moon and sun,
Nor ever was his labour done;
For this was Time who told my hours
And gave, and took away, my flowers.
And one beside him fed a fire
[18]With listless hands, whose whole desire
Was not therein, but far away
She watched an ever dying day:
She smiled sometimes, and oft she wept,
But through her tears her watch she kept:
Time brought her flowers; she cast the same
To feed the hungering tongues of flame—
Yea, all men know the dreamful dame,
Pale Memory, ye rede her name.
In my soul’s house, alway to be,
Dwelt spirits five for company,
And fair they were in form and face,
And well my soul’s white house did grace:
For one the chambers garnished fit
With boughs and flowers, and them she lit
By night and day, for she was Sight
And rulèd all my soul’s delight.
Her sister to my table bare
Sweet pleasure of earth’s fruits and rare,
As every season brought its meed
Or ever as my soul had need.
Another made sweet incense rise
From out a censer in such wise
That mingled sweet of every kind,
[19]And let the slender smoke enwind
The pillars of the roof, and send
The pleasant mist from end to end.
The while another yet of these
With music soft my soul would please;
To every thought in every mood
She made her tuneful interlude:
She touched the strings, she ruled the lute,
And many a soft harmonious flute
That mocked the birds in leafy quire;
But oft this spirit would aspire
To lift the solemn organ’s voice,
And this would be her dearest choice,
Till, with its deeper soul embued,
My soul forgot its solitude.
Yet one there was, both dumb and blind,
Who yet was wise in every kind,
And many a thing her hand could teach,
In silent service serving each.
These watched the house and kept it fair
As each its several part had care.
Thus sate my soul and talked with these
In its white porch among the trees;
And each brought word what she had seen
[20]Of all that ranged that region green:
For many folk passed to and fro,
As flew the hours or footed slow.
One came in garment green and pale
Across the hill, adown the dale,
And blossoms in her hand she bore;
A swallow skimmed her path before;
It was a herald bright of spring,
And this the song that she did sing:
 
There fell a day of sun and shower,
Spring stirred within her leafless bower,
She sent me from her wintry home—
“Go forth and tell the world I come.”
Beneath the windows of the dawn
I took my way, by lake and lawn,
I saw of flowers the firstling born,
I gathered of the flowering thorn:
And from the dale and from the down
I passed into the sleeping town,
Along the stoney streets to spill
My flowers, by door and window sill:
But they were like the eyes of men,
[21]Sleep-locked, though some were open then:
I saw within a darkened room
An old man, lying in the gloom.
He saw my flowers, and then he sighed,
And turned upon his bed and died.
I took my way with soundless feet,
But none I met my steps to greet.
Save when a wakeful babe me spied,
And stretched his dimpled arms and cried.
They hushed his voice, nor knew his will—
I left the city sleeping still.
 
She ceased her song, and there was hush,
As after when the tuneful thrush
Hath warbled clear the wood is still
Ere yet again the quire sings shrill
For very joy.
And then I heard,
Among the grass, Time grind and gird
Upon his blade: He stooped to slay,
And soon before his feet there lay
The fallen emblems of the hours—
A harvest sheaf of spring’s first flowers—
[22]Which she beside him gathering flung
Into the fire the while they sung,
And thus I heard their voices chime:

(THE SONG OF MEMORY AND TIME.)

TIME.
Spring-tide come and winter going;
Flower to seed, and seed to sowing;
Seed and harvest, reaping, mowing.
MEMORY.
Life beginning, and life ending;
Life his substance ever spending;
Time to life his little lending.
TIME.
Hark! the wingèd winds are calling;
Clouds the young year’s path appalling;
Blooms of spring like snow are falling.
MEMORY.
Snows of spring green earth bestrewing!
Wasted hopes must I be rueing,
Spring of life there’s no renewing.
And after these had ceased their song,
[23]A company there passed along,
In divers weed, and changeful mien,
And glad, or sad, athwart my green:
Their fluttering robes of dark or pale,
Like leaves adrift on Autumn gale;
And they like shadows o’er the grass
Before my porch did singly pass,
But through the house their voices rang,
Tune-tongued like bells, as thus they sang:—

(SONG OF THE HOURS.)

Between the gates of night and morn,
With sleepless hands and sleepless eyes,
We watch the sun and moon outworn,
The silent stars that sink and rise.
In hidden chambers of the night,
The thread of Fate we sit and spin,
Through death and life, in dark and light,
From life’s slim staff to wind and win.
With joinèd hands and parting feet,
The work is wove, and still undone;
But still we tread Time’s measure fleet,
As through the glass the sand is spun.
With linkèd hands and feet that wind
[24]Between the pillars of the day,
Around the house the garland bind,
For spring hath come, we cannot stay.
 
They passed. A change came o’er the sky.
I heard a shout—I heard a cry.
A horn’s far sound the woods awoke,
And sudden from the thicket broke,
In my soul’s sight, a thing of flame,
And after, swift, a horseman came—
A youth intent upon the chase;
But ever, as he urged his pace,
One laid her hands upon his rein,
And from that end would him restrain;
While did the stirring horn resound,
And in the leash each panting hound
Pressed hard to slip the tightened chain.
What would that eager hunter gain?
Some magic thing whose form and hue
Still changed as he did close pursue—
A flame, a bubble of the air?
A woman, marvellously fair?
Yea, every shape it hath in turn
That makes man’s troubled soul to burn,
And doth his baffled sight elude
[25]To leave the world a solitude.
Again the sounding horn did bray,
The hounds were slipt and broke away,
And swift throughout the close they sped,
Still as the changeful quarry led;
Till far beyond the open green
They flashed the forest stems between,
And soon were lost in night of wood.
Again I heard Time’s interlude:—

TIME

Whence the way and whither wending?
Seeks hot youth, till eld descending,
Leaves unread the secret pending.
What is Life? Truth answers never;
Darkly flows the secret river,
But its springs are hid for ever.
What is Truth? Man’s long endeavour
Finds the web but not the weaver:
Sleeps the riddle none may sever.
As it was in Time’s beginning,
Then, as now, while Fate is spinning
Man her clue would still be winning.
 
My soul knew rest no more that day.
[26]I heard Time’s voice sink far away,
And long did muse till light was gone,
Still sitting in my porch alone.
Strange thoughts like flashes went and came,
And dreams of love, and hopes of fame,
With dim desires that inly burned;
Dead hopes that rose again and yearned
To follow still that unknown quest,
And failing, fluttered back to rest.
Then had my soul a vision strange,
As far in spirit did I range,
And I beheld a far dim plain,
Dyed in day’s last Tyrean stain,
And through its dark and desert ground
A gleaming vein of water wound,
Where lonely piles of ruin old
Loomed vast, with hollow chambers cold,
Where horror dwelt with night and death,
And filled they were with ghostly breath.
But there amid the gathering glooms,
Among the temples and the tombs,
One wandered in a pilgrim’s guise,
Who fixed afar his wistful eyes;
His footsteps kept the river’s side,
[27]A glowing lamp his feet did guide,
That shone upon that desert’s dearth,
As like a star there fall’n to earth;
And moving through the twilight dim,
By shattered arch and column slim,
With staff and scrip he kept his way,
Among those wrecks of ancient day.
 
Far, far upon that desert land,
Half buried in her grave of sand,
The ancient head of Egypt rose;
And, still sublime in death’s repose,
Great Memnon kept his awful throne
Outwatching day and night alone:
And where the Greek laid stone on stone
The faces of his gods were shown,
When to the world—a youth—there came
Fair Wisdom, Power, and Beauty’s dame,
Heré, not Pallas, had his choice
But Aphrodité won his voice.
The crumbling strength of mighty Rome,
Her grave, her cradle, and her home;
There stood the emblems of her reign—
The Arch that would the world sustain,
And still doth span in legioned range
[28]The gulf of time, the waves of change.
Long stood the Pilgrim here at gaze,
As lost in thought of antique days,
As far his searching eyes could scan
Beneath the age-worn arches’ span.
He marked each age’s builded pile
Loom dimly down the endless aisle,
Where shone the winding waters’ thread,
A wandering life among the dead,
Until his sight no more could trace
Its courses from their hidden place,
Wrapt in the clinging mists that shroud
The trackless mountains dim with cloud;
But still his spirit found no home
Beneath the broad eternal dome.
At last the Pilgrim turned and sighed,
Nor stayed he where a cross beside
Marked how a greater power and pride
Did conquer Rome, and still doth bide.
Full many a stone about that ground
Made stumbling, but of flowers were found
None save the sanguined poppy’s hue
Between still sleep and death that grew.
The Pilgrim stayed for sleep nor rest,
[29]As bent upon some hidden quest;
Nor turned he from his painful way
Where folk made feast and holiday
Beneath fair vines and fruited trees,
As pipe, and dance, and song them please.
He seemed the world of men to shun,
And joyed when he a wood had won,
Sweet cloistered green, and roofed above,
Where soft he heard the wooing dove,
And sound of wandering water near;
He drank its crystal cup and clear,
And kept his path beside the stream
Till he beheld white pillars gleam.
He passed from green to blossomed boughs
That compassed fair a secret house;
Still music drew him to the door,
Swift beat his heart, and trembling more,
He entered, to a gold dim space
Flame-lit before an altar daïs,
Rose-garlanded, most fair and meet,
And all the air was still and sweet,
But over these in fairer case
Shone the clear semblance of a face.
He knelt before that altar stone,
[30]The anthem soothed his heart’s faint tone,
And seraph voices high and soft,
In measured cadence quired aloft,
Or sailed in tempest gusts of sound
When passion’s music shook the ground.
Filled was the Pilgrim’s soul and bowed,
Till in his stress he cried aloud:
“O Love! This is thy holy place,
Give me, I pray, my lady’s grace!”
decoration

[31]

LOVE’S·LABYRINTH

LOVE’S·LABYRINTH
WHEN summer reigned in leafy sheen,
I found me in a garden green,
Deep hidden from the sun’s gold edge,
Beneath a rose-hung thorny hedge,
Upon a space of cool fair grass,
Whereon not yet the scythe should pass;
Though in the meadows was it laid,
Where Time was stooping in the shade
As, foot by foot, with measured sweep
His engine cleft the grassy deep;
And thence fresh fragrance wafted sweet
The smell of roses blown to meet,
Mixed in the drowsèd air and stole
In slumber to my dreamful soul.
Full long I lay in leafy lair,
Until, upon the murmurous air,
[32]One murmur grew with deep’ning note
And soon my sleeping ear it smote,
And woke a trouble in my breast—
A joyful pain more sweet than rest.
Like as the voice of plaining strings
When magic hands the music brings
Out of the viols’ soul in sound
That hath a power when speech is bound,
To lift the whirlwind and the wail
Of passion’s tempest, and the veil
Of dumb desires and hopes that cry,
Until the strong winds sinking die,
Though still the wrought waves strike the shore,
Above them shrill a voice dost soar;
Or with the soft gale, falling low,
To lull the soul, sings sweet and slow,
And folds the fluttering wings of peace:
So thrilled that music through the trees;
The leaves were stirred upon the boughs,
The petals shaken from a rose,
As though a spirit moved anear.
Then from the hedge a voice broke clear:—
“O Time! O Time! Thy dial stay,
And lend to Love thy little day,
And make him free of thy domain;
[33]And thou shalt not have less of gain,
For he must pay thee back again
In penal hours of longing pain.
“O Time! O Time! Thy labour stay
Between the sun and moon to-day:
Tell not thy hours of moon and noon
Lest they should find us swift and soon
To steal from us our secret joy,
And give us to the world’s annoy.
“Let Love be king in hour and place,
And give thy garden for his chase,
Set all with lilies fair and white,
And roses for his heart’s delight,
Both red, and crimson dark, and pale
Like snow that hidden fire doth veil:
Yea, give them on their thorny stem,
Before thy breath shalt shatter them,
That chaplets Love may bind for those
Who wander in his tangled close.”
Time, ceasing not his toil, far heard,
Gave back to Love this answering word:—
“Love, to Time dost thou come sueing?
Love, with all thy debt accrueing?
[34]Time can give thee no renewing.
“Ask the hearts thy sceptre schooleth,
Seek the kings thy kingship ruleth,
Who is he that Time befooleth?
“Rest thee, Love, in thine own city,
But of my dominion quit ye,
Time is hard, and hath no pity.
“Erst for king didst thou disown me,
Wouldst thou o’er thy kingdom crown me?
Thee I serve when thou hast won me.
“Slave and servant, no man’s master,
They who will me slow or faster
Urge me to their own disaster.
“Lo! this garden for thy going,
Fair and sweet life-blooms in growing,
Gather, ere its leaves be strowing.
“Hive thy honey, sweet bestowing,
Take life’s apples, red and glowing,
Ere they fall to earth unknowing.
“Days and hours, perforce, Time gives thee
By the sun’s swift wheel that drives ye,
[35]Rest you merry! Time survives Thee.”
His shadow passed, his voice had died,
And from the rosy covert side,
Clear shining in his goodlihead,
Love to my soul came forth and said:—
“Arise, O Soul! and go with me,
And thou shalt read my book and see
Things hidden from the wise, and know
The height of joy, the depth of woe,
And hear the seas of passion roll,
And scan the dim strange human scroll,
The writing of its speechless lore,
And poesy’s unfathomed store;
The mystic birth of Song and Art
In painted chambers of the heart;
Love’s histories of bliss and strife,
And woven mysteries of life—
Yea, all that in Love’s house do dwell
Between the doors of heaven and hell.”
Now in this garden lay apart
A space contrived with cunning art,
Where whoso entered at its gate
Might choose of pleasant paths and straight,
Green walled in privet, rose, and yew,
[36]Anon that interlaced and drew
The wildered wight still to and fro,
Who wists not if to turn or go,
Amid the close entangled ways,
Where oft, for his yet more amaze,
Soft voices, wandering, called his name,
And through the leaves sweet music came,
Clear faces showed like sudden light,
To vanish from his longing sight
Ere he might hope of help to win
The secret bliss hid far within.
Few ’scape from out that pleasaunce whole,
Few gain the inmost golden goal;
Full many wander there forlorn,
Or come out thence sore wounded, torn,
To weep their wasted lives forespent.
Thither by Love my soul was bent:
Soon in the green maze sweet and still,
I heard the brown and blackbird trill,
Where, linkèd lanes and alleys through,
Love led me by his secret clue;
And oft the scented briar would cling,
Or in the hedge some fluttering thing
Shake soft adown a summer snow
[37]Of roses bloom in overblow,
Among the leaves all fair bedight
And prankt with buds of red and white.
But still by these Love’s footsteps led,
Dim paths before him turned and fled;
Full oft some sweet or anguished face
Would part the leaves to seek his grace;
For many folk did wander there,
Both gleaming knights and dames most fair,
And o’er the level hedge and trim
Fair showed in quaint attire and slim
Of samite, broidery, and brocade,
As folk of passèd time portrayed
By cunning painters, skilled full well,
That mid so goodly sights did dwell.
And there about the stems were hung
Sweet names and legends poets sung,
Ywrought on scrolls and tablets fine,
And bound with knots that true loves twine;
And oft the lute’s full tender strain
Amid the rose leaves made soft plain,
As songs were heard in women’s fame
That crownèd singers sweet proclaim—
Prophets and kings of lyre and pen,
[38]Who sound the hearts of silent men
That hold their word as treasure trove
In the immortal book of love.
These all were passed, and in a while,
Love showed my soul a dim green aisle,
And far at end a stone-built stair,
That led us from the woody lair,
Forth issuing through a night of trees
To know anew the day’s increase,
And there a fragrant arbour found,
With clinging jasmine close embound.
Soon, in this leafy ambush set,
Love bade my soul look forth and let
Sight wonder at its might or will.
Then saw I those that wandered still
Lost in the green and covert ways,
And all the secret of the maze.
How there, as folks distraught, misled,
Sought lovers for their lover, who fled
Far from them, or, unwitting, past
The prisoning hedge that shut them fast:
How, oft their eyes met far amain
In severed paths that kept them twain;
How, after toil and weary pace,
Some met at last with shamefast face,
[39]And silent lips, or coldly masked
With wintry speech their hearts that asked
For utterance, and leapt, and cried—
Love’s dear deliverance denied.
Thereby great heaviness and pain
Had then my soul, and turned again
To ask of him who stood beside
What hope for these might yet betide.
Clothed in his godhead strong he stood,
He bent his bow above the wood,
And swift the wingèd arrow left
The quivering string—what heart it cleft
My soul ne’er knew, for then the light
Of falling day dazed all my sight
With splendour, as the level sun
Blazed in his gold pavilion spun
Out of his rays whose burning thread
A glorious tapestry outspread
With all life’s hues commingling blent.
And ere the golden web was rent
By darkness, Love led me away,
And passed, about the end of day,
Beneath the hanging umbrage dread
Till grew in sight a summer stead,
Fair corniced, roofed, and pillared clean,
[40]Closed in the midmost heart of green,
And girt about with garlands round,
Clear-built upon a pleasant ground,
That gardened was and set with flowers,
Which had the speech of love and powers
After that they are dead to keep
Sweet thoughts in heart and cherished deep.
Also of mythic trees and rare
That grew in love’s high region there,
My soul did mark fair Daphne’s leaf;
The almond bloom, for love and grief,
When Phillis died; and Syrinx’ reed,
Like sprung of legendary seed,
The sun’s broad flower, that shows his flame
And blooms in Clyte’s sculptured fame.
Amidst them fair and high uprose
The carven images of those
That wrought with men for good or ill,
And gave good gifts, and god-like skill,
And reverence had upon the earth—
Yea, still, in all man’s strife and mirth
Have part and glory, yet for him
The mingled cup of life they brim,
As gods, who here Love’s lordship own
Casting their crowns before his throne.
[41]Their marble image broken fell
Where leapt a water from its well
Gemmed in the green and grassy space
Before the pillars of the place,
Where now my soul love’s travel brought.
Soon trod we both the marble court,
And passed into a painted hall,
Most goodly wrought on roof and wall
With dreams, and golden mysteries
Of love and love’s rich histories
Wherein dumb thoughts of heart and brain
Took form and speech and breathed again.
Natheless, ere we the end might win
Was hung a veil, fine-woven, thin,
But through the veil a fire glowed dim,
And faint-heard music soft did swim,
Till out of vague and murmurous tone
Rose up a voice to take its throne:—
“Last night my lady talked with me,
As on a green hill, I and she
Sat close, where erst alone I stood
Beneath the dusk-leaved ilex wood.
“The earth was gathered to her rest,
[42]Sweet silence lay upon her breast,
Well nigh asleep, save that she heard
The wandering waters’ silver word.
“The sun had kissed the earth’s dark lips
That grow so ruddy ere he dips,
Wine-coloured to his golden rim,
As purple evening pours for him.
“Low stooped his head as he would drink,
Till out of sight we saw him sink,
And with his splendour in our eyes,
Full-orbed we watched the great moon rise.
“Rose-tinged in the dim sky shone she
Like Venus from the opal sea,
So grew her glory in our sight,
Till in her face we saw love’s light,
“Love’s light in hers, like flame on flame—
Yea, very Love in presence came,
Between the fires of moon and sun
He stood, like dawn ere night begun.
“Clear-aureoled his golden head,
His eyes our burning hearts well read,
And in the sanctuary of my soul
I won of love the golden goal.”

ERRATUM.

Page 33, line 5, for “moon” read “morn”.

[43]

·THE·DIVIDING·GULF·

THE·DIVIDING·GULF
A GULF divideth Heaven and Hell
Whose depth no fathom line can tell;
A gulf is fixed between two souls
As cold and deep, which ever rolls
To hinder messengers of light,
Who else would wing in welcome flight,
With water from love’s living spring,
And peace to the tormented bring:
But now if any will to pass
From hence to thence, alas! alas!
The gulf is fixed, they cannot go,
And all unaided lie in woe,
Sad souls unto their succour near,
And yet so far as though they were
Divided by an ocean plain;
And so thoughts die within each brain
That might in interchanging wed,
[44]And fruitfulness and plenty spread
To clothe and crown the naked fields,
And give them bread for barren yields,
That waste beneath a sunless sky
Their empty ears, or, blighted die.
But as when we have longed to greet
Some wished-for-one we never meet,
Their semblance still may please our eyes,
Their presence in our dreams arise;
So, though lone thoughts ne’er meet their kind,
Or, meeting in the darkness blind,
Know not they meet—falls there no flash
Upon the waters wide that wash
The silent shores of either mind,
And both by sudden pathway find?
Shines there no light we never sought
On all the ways of toil and thought—
A flash in momentary course,
Like lightning from an unseen source
That, in the trembling of a star,
Shows all world anear and far,
When in a flood of flame intense
The gulf is banished from our sense,
And in one moment, bridging space,
Two spirits stand as face to face.

[45]

·THE·VALLEY·of·DELIVERANCE

THE·VALLEY·of·DELIVERANCE

I

SEA-BLUE infinitude of silent hills!
That fold, like waves that crested are and smooth,
The wide-spread vale that slowly eve instils
With misty lakes, and all thy summits sooth.

II

In baths of amber light where melt and merge
The wandering purples into green and gold,
Athwart the slumbrous fields, and moorland verge
O’ersailed by slow cloud-shadows softly rolled.

III

With alternations new and grateful change
Of burning tones to cool in magic show,
As oft the opalescent sea do range
Or in the sun-built arch transfused do glow.

[46]

IV

O silent hills! ye hold a meaning more
Than speech; ye are not voiceless, O ye vales!
But eloquent of time and treasured lore
Of memory, and filled with untold tales.

V

That well nigh dim my gazing eyes with tears,
Whereas they follow those familiar lines;
Dear as the features shaped by hopes and fears
On friendship’s face, oft read and sought for signs.

VI

For dear to me the crags—the weather-worn;
The slopes of green, the waving woodland towers
Whose crested pageantry of leaves adorn
The shadowed graves of faded summer hours.

VII

Full well I know the belts of larch that fringe
The dark verge of the lonely moor, which seems
The limit of the world, touched with the tinge
Of dying light, and burned with day’s last beams.

[47]

VIII

And oft, as now, I pressed the purple bloom—
The heather-plumaged breast of this high moor;
And heard, as now I hear, the wandering boom
Of these winged gleaners of the honeyed store.

IX

O well loved vale! For I am bound to thee
By subtle threads of thought that memory weaves;
Yea, sitting in thy shadow, Liberty,
Like dawn first knew I, opening life’s leaves;

X

E’en then, when first I tasted of the tree,
And dayspring of new knowledge touched mine eyes,
That erst were sealed—as other books to me,
Until upon thy hills new light should rise:

XI

Until my soul, new born, within this vale
Should learn of Nature in her age-worn book,
And strive, beyond the starry void, to scale
The dim unknown, or in truth’s glass to look

[48]

XII

On life, and life’s dark mystery which broods
And clings, a shadow, to the sad-eyed world;
Born in the horror of primæval woods,
And in death’s cloud impenetrable furled.

XIII

Beyond the gathering years since first I knew
Thee, happy vale, my yearning spirit reads,
Beyond night’s mist on thy horizon blue,
Where glow day’s embers, ere the night succeeds—

XIV

The Legends rich of unforgotten time—
Azure, and white, and gray enfolded days,
That long have passed away, unto the chime
Of brief on lingering hours, their restful ways:

XV

And, even now, clear imaged on my brain
Their semblance comes again—I see them move
In long procession slow, with joy or pain
Enrobed, with faces hid, and eyes of doubt or love:

[49]

XVI

Until the day which died with yestern sun
Begins to merge in that unending line;
And soon her lingering sister will be one
For on her face the light has ceased to shine.

XVII

So pass the days, with days unborn, to die,
And gather them to years in time’s swift pace,
But we would fain forecast futurity,
Or read fate’s rune upon the sky’s calm face.

XVIII

And I could well believe that in the shade
Of this still vale the secret sign lies hid—
The secret that shall shape my life, unsaid,
As in a casket treasured with close lid;

XIX

Mid fir-woods dark, or tumbled crags, unknown,
Or in brown deeps, where swift the river flows
Among tumultuous rocks, whence I have heard
Vague murmurings, ofttimes, beneath the boughs.

[50]

XX

But silence with her finger locks the lips,
When stand we watching at Futura’s gate;
Though eager thought would climb, and climbing slips;
While, all unwatched, each hour doth carve our fate.
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[51]

THE·UNKNOWN·SHORE·

THE·UNKNOWN·SHORE

I

THERE is no voice, there is no voice,
Or answer from the UNKNOWN shore:
Turn! turn again—there is no choice
But Life or Death—we know no more.

II

Yet Thought in Art and Song awakes;
Still Hope doth speak, and Reason brings
New light to men, and Wisdom takes
Sweet comfort from most lowly things.

III

Have loveliness or glory fled?
Hath Love or Beauty passed away?
Is poesy or fancy dead,
When light returns with every day?

[52]

IV

Sweet Hope and Beauty cannot die,
Enshrined as one in heaven’s blue;
And still eternal as the sky
Is good, and knowledge ever new.

V

And evermore rolls on the fight
Of good and evil by the sea;
But on the waters falls a light
From golden ages yet to be.

VI

Hear how they cry from every side,
The voices from the deepening strife!
The fields are white, the world is wide;
Arise! take heart! take hope! take Life!
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[53]

THE·WEST·WIND

THE·WEST·WIND
WILD Wind! Thy tameless spirit lifts my mind—
Thou, all night long the troubled earth hast torn,
And tossed the stormy trees until the morn,
Which struggles now unto its noon, half blind
With those wild locks which ye have cast across
The face of heaven, scarcely showing through
Her eyes between are still of stedfast blue,
And still look calm above the woods ye toss;
As they were wrathful waves of that green main
From whence ye come, beyond the sunset’s grave,
To freshen on the sunburnt hills, and lave
The summer-thirsty fields with gracious rain.
Hark! in the wood thy voice, a lion, roars!
Beneath thy breath upon the parchèd hill,
Shudders the wasted grass, and shrieketh shrill,
[54]As though it feared thee: but thy spirit soars
To lash the fossil waves of hill and dale
Ye may not move, yet melted make appear
Their solid sides, enrobed in rains ye bear
Across the valley like a falling veil.
But, night or day, thy ceaseless song to me
Makes melody, and music wild and free,
And I rejoice to drink thy breath for ye
Do bring the sound and savour of the sea.
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[55]

·THE·NEW·LIGHT·

THE·NEW·LIGHT
AWAKE, O world! From thy long sleep arise!
For a new light breaks in reddening skies:
Shake off your rust-eaten fetters, ye slaves!
And claim the Freedom of winds and of waves:
Unwind! O unwind all the swathing clothes
Of bondage and ignorance, nations’ woes:
Break the dark might of enchantment’s spell,
Burst all thy bonds, and the chorus swell!
Kindle on every high hill a clear fire:
Plant in the cities, on tower and spire,
The banner of Freedom! Wide let it wave
Over sea and land, and over the grave
Of buried oppression, and chains decayed
Of tyrant’s power: till the ghosts shall be laid
Of fraud and violence, bloodshed and war:
[56]And, burned in the flame of freedom’s fair star,
All wrongs shall be dust and ashes on earth—
Dead leaves from whose death shall spring a new birth
Which shall spread and grow like a fruitful tree,
And under its branches shall live the Free.
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[57]

HYMN OF FREE PEOPLES

HYMN OF FREE PEOPLES

I

O KINDREDS! peoples strong!
That earth’s large arms enfold,
Against the powers that work ye wrong,
In common cause make bold.

II

From North, from East and West;
Beneath the southern star;
In bonds of slavery opprest,
In cruel arms of war.

III

From East, and South, and North;
From desert-cities shade,
From living tombs of toil, come forth,
Where rich man’s gold is made.

[58]

IV

From North, from West, and East,
O starved and meagre-fed!
Be gathered to the equal feast
The earth for all hath spread.

V

Beneath Life’s healing tree,
Truth’s fountain’s crystal flow,
Let all the Nations kindred be
The joy of life to know.

VI

And let each soul rejoice,
Who in that meat is strong;
And, hunger stayed, let heart and voice
Be filled with a new song.

VII

For Freedom like the sun
Hath risen on the world!
This hour a new age is begun—
A stainless scroll unfurled.

[59]

VIII

Old things have passed away—
The curse of gold, and gore;
The Law of Love all peoples sway,
And war shall be no more.

IX

No more to joyless toil
Shall Labour’s hands be chained;
No more shall Fraud have power to spoil
Man’s equal rights regained.

X

One hope, one joy, one light,
United all men know;
And from all lands with gathering might
The voice of truth shall go:

XI

And far and wide proclaim,
Defying tyrants’ ban,
Writ in all hearts, like tongues of flame—
The Brotherhood of Man!

[60]
[61]

·TWELVE·SONNETS·OF·LOVE

TWELVE·SONNETS·OF·LOVE

[62]
[63]

I
LOVE’S SANCTUARY

NO more I go to worship with the crowd
In Christian temples, pagan now to me,
No dim cathedral hears me pray aloud,
I sing no credo, as it used to be:
Though kneeling not beneath the roof of Rome,
Or in protesting fanes, I have a shrine—
A holiest of holies—Love’s sweet home,
On whose white altar lies life’s bread and wine.
There oft, in saddened times and weary hours,
To secret sanctuary do I flee,
Where one sweet presence soothes, like breath of flowers,
To whom their incense rises ceaselessly;
For there, though not a Roman devotee,
Sweet virgin Mary I do worship thee.

[64]

II
LOVE’S HERALDRY

I GAVE to thee at parting, dear, a rose,
Encrimsoned with the hue of Love’s warm lips,
But yet it faded when compared to those
Wherefrom my soul unfailing honey sips.
And thou didst plant it in the snowy lawn
Which veiled the purer treasures of thy breast,
As when we see o’er earth, by winter drawn
The white sky-covering in spotless rest.
Warm gules on argent, like a blazoned field,
The hues of life and death in red and white—
A fair device for any knightly shield,
Nor needing motto to proclaim its might.
Henceforth I bear it on my battle crest,
Till in thine arms from life’s alarms I rest.

[65]

III
THE SOLACE OF LOVE

IN my heart’s chamber cold in day’s white glare,
Sate Love disconsolate with tatter’d wings,
And brooding on the memory of lost things
That erst made glad those walls, so wan and bare.
Came Hope then unto him and bade him look
Upon the brightness of the cloudless hours,
And on the buds of yet unopened flowers;
But Love, being blind, all blank was nature’s book.
Sleep came to him, and would have brought him peace,
But dreams awoke Desire whose torturing flame
Made worse his case and left him agony:
Till one, with wreathèd brows, for his release,
Unto his fingers gave a stringèd frame,
And then Love wept, and sang his pain to thee.

[66]

IV
PASSION MUSIC

THE air grows faint within the shrine of Love,
And from his altar rose-leaves fall away,
As smoke of incense dims the dying day
That crimsons on the golden roof above:
But, slowly stealing, soon the organ plains,
With quiring voices in a tender song,
Which shakes my soul as with a tempest strong,
Still as the music rolleth on refrains.
Now lifted light upon melodious wave,
My spirit rises on each beating wing,
That near unto the gates of bliss me bring;
Full soon cast down, and bowed by thunder-tones,
He falls upon the ground, and weeps and moans—
Such madness doth Love’s votaries enslave.

[67]

V
LOVE’S ANCHORITE

LOVE’S anchorite, within my lonely cell,
His breviary I learn you every day,
And Aves to my sainted Mary say,
As all my rosary I careful tell:
While on thy picture sweet my fond eyes dwell,
Or rapt upon thy treasured story pore,
Which, ending, leaves me yet to hunger more,
And still athirst to seek again the well.
Yet all Love’s calendar I follow through,
And each fair day, where memory shows thy sign,
Keep holy unto thee in prayer and song;
So every season brings to thee its due;
But, while thy table’s set with corn and wine,
Fasting I keep Love’s Lenten-tide so long.

[68]

VI
LOVE’S GARDEN

IN my heart’s garden, winter dark and bare,
Love sought for flowers to make a wreath for thee,
Which, since the sun was gone, he scarce might see
In all the waste, and Time was gardener there,
Who yet a little bloom will hardly spare,
But with remorseless hand still prunes away,
And still his scythe he sharpeneth every day;
So Love was left with empty hands to fare.
Till Hope had led him to a little well
That in this desert kept a joyful spot,
Made sapphire with the eyes of flowers Love knew,
As though from heavenly seed their harvest grew,
That soon into his reaping fingers fell
Which bring you these—sweet, sweet FORGET-ME-NOT.

[69]

VII
LOVE’S SOLITUDE

FILLED with the breath of Love, my soul knows change
Throughout its troubled region, day by day,
Still as the breaking fire upclimbs its way
From scarlet dawn, through fervent noon to range;
Until the fainting eve, grown wan and pale,
Swoons in the arms of close embracing night
That putteth forth her spells of dreamful might,
And sweet enchantments, till the starry veil
Is cloven by the gleaming shafts of morn,
Ascending new with all his glittering train
To bring me peace, or strange tempestuous pain;
Or soft winds singing in the sacred grove
That keeps thy shrine, and where I talk with Love,
Watching the far-off sea whence hope is born.

[70]

VIII
LOVE’S HOPE

JOY, like the flashes of a fitful sun,
Falls on my storm-worn heart, and kindling, dies
In wandering gleams about the changeful skies,
Cloud-built with tempest towers, and wind-undone:
For winds make desolate the day begun
Wild on my path that climbs a bleak green hill,
Among the writhen thorns, oft traversed, chill
With the breath of March, until the ridge is won:
Wherefrom I think to gain some hopeful sign,
As range mine eyes the saddened landscape round,
That keeps my soul’s white house, whence I return,
With thoughts that may not utterly repine,
But hearing even in the strong wind’s sound
The shout of coming spring which makes me burn.

[71]

IX
LOVE’S DOUBT

DOUBT, Hope, and Fear, all day within my breast
Have clanged in cruel war where none prevail,
Though their fierce cries have rent the sacred veil,
When in Love’s sanctuary I sought to rest.
Since brazen morn awoke this wild alarm
So have they striven long with clashing swords
Of two edged thought—since fell the words
Upon my soul from herald lips of harm;
Whose message strange a fiery hand imprest
In charact’ry that burns my mazèd sight:
Yet loud with iron hands they tear and smite,
But through the cloud of strife I see Hope’s crest
Rise loftier, and his voice above the rest
Grows calm and clearer with the falling night.

[72]

X
LOVE’S GARLAND

YOUNG Love with rosy wings came through a mead,
Whereon before the feet of spring had gone,
Along a slender brook that wound and shone
By stems made bright with blooms of fruitful deed.
He gathered as he went of such fair seed
As Spring upon her grassy ways had sown,
And in his fingers wove a garland crown
That faded not, or drooped or died for need.
Full soon the stream had brought him to a space
Of orchard green, where maidens sweet were met
With Time’s frail gifts around his dial stone;
And, these among, thou sat’st in such sweet grace,
That, seeing thee, Love on thy dear head set
His magic wreath and crowned thee on my throne.

[73]

XI
LOVE’S ARROWS

I SAW young Love make trial of his bow,
In May’s green garden where he shot his dart,
Nor recked if any nigh beheld his art,
But other eyes did mark him as I know;
For my sweet lady sate anear his throw,
And I with her, and joinèd heart to heart,
So that we might not feel the bitter smart
Love leaveth there when time doth force us go.
We heard Love’s arrows falling in the grass,
Or watched them quiver in the targe below;
Yet few to us came nigh, nor might they pass
Beyond our feet, which trembled when they came,
Whose hearts were not the quarry for his aim,
That in Love’s chase fell stricken long ago.

[74]

XII
LOVE’S HARVEST

I STAND to gaze across the years’ long fields
That have the tinge of Autumn, and their gold
Gathered by careful hours on lea and wold;
Rich spoils of time that he to Love upyields
Who yet amid fair corn his sickle wields,
Though harvest’s done, and summer groweth old:
Well-storèd barns, and orchards he doth hold
Whose wealth against the steely winter shields.
Unto my feet the days, like full-eared sheaves,
Have fallen, one by one, time-bound and borne
To be the bread of Love through barren days;
E’en such dear heritage the sweet year leaves,
And life to live again Love’s night and morn
Whose light thou art, whose glory is their praise.

[75]

·PART·II·LATER·POEMS·

Part II Later Poems

[76]
[77]

·A·HERALD·OF·SPRING

A·HERALD·OF·SPRING
SWEET bird, what makes thee glad?
Beneath this sky so wan and sad,
And leafless poplars, thin and grey,
Bowed down before the wintry sway.
What tuneful thought of days gone by
Doth make thee sing? Or knowest thou why
Thy soul is lifted up, sweet bird?
Or dost thou hear Spring’s voice, unheard
Of earth that sleeps, nor, dreaming, minds
The herald blast of trumpet winds
That make old Winter’s fortress quail,
And force him cast his coat of mail.
What secret bower thy shape doth keep?
Close hidden by the buds that sleep;
Thy voice—the firstling bloom that blows—
[78]Breaks joyful through the wintry boughs,
That bear thy song of promise, meet
For happy hours when lovers greet,
When every leaf-lorn tree shall bear
Flower, fruit, and song upon the air,
And summer’s choir is full, and gay
The soft winds on the sun’s feast-day.
Sweet bird, as thou dost sing, my soul
Doth partly catch the speechless whole
Of joyful pain that lifts the wings
Of thy sequestered music—things
Remembered half, and half forgot,
Of sight, or sound, or sense begot,
Confused in love’s ambrosial streams,
And hidden in the house of dreams;
As frail sweet scent of flowers that hold
Past time and days in some book’s fold,
Which, when the leaves are turned again,
Doth warm, like wine, the wintry brain.
O bird, thy heart doth sing in me,
I hear what thou dost hear—I see
Upon a high green land, untrod
Of men, upon the flower-wrought sod
The feet of Spring, and her bright throng
Break from the woods with shout and song;
[79]Soft piping winds with pleasant cheer
Before her go, her path to clear,
Sweet maids come with her, and behind,
Light-footed as the lifting wind:
Some bear her canopy on high,
And warm gleams gild it from the sky;
Some strew with flowers the flower-strewn ground,
Some bind them garlands, some are bound,
And still, with all the happy rout,
Fleet little loves wind in and out;
Some hide in maiden’s fluttering weed,
And ply their pretty arts, nor heed,
While wilful gusts make sport, like them,
With mantle’s fold, and garment’s hem;
Or some, more bold, soft vengeance wreak
On lifting hair, and glowing cheek.
But, scarce the wood hath set them free,
Some forceful sprite in winter’s fee
To snatch Spring’s garland would make bold,
Whom shrill the shrinking maids do scold,
Until the sun, their champion bright,
Doth drive aback the wintry knight,
Whose wild assault being overthrown,
Far in the woodland makes he moan,
And gentle Spring with all her train
Doth hold high court on earth again.

[80]

·THOUGHTS·IN·A·HAMMOCK

·THOUGHTS·IN·A·HAMMOCK
ROCKED as in some fairy boat,
By swift fancy set afloat,
’Twixt the oceans, blue and green,
Of grass beneath, and sky serene,
Where the streams of dusk and day
Meet and mingle, far away,
On the universal tide,
Still with time and life to glide.
Boat, that, pendent ’mid the trees,
Swingeth moored, yet sails the seas,
Stem and stern from east to west,
Bound upon an unknown quest,
Past the marge of night and day,
Blanched or strewn with starry spray;
By the oar-strokes of the blood,
[81]Glides the shallop of my mood,
On the windings of the flood,
Shadowed by the summer wood,
Dusk with dreams yon leaves that play
With the falling blooms of May.
Like the web the Fates do spin
Helpless man to cradle in—
Hung, with life, upon a thread,
Here I swing, and, o’er my head,
Maze of apples, boughs and leaves,
Meshed wherein, my thought enweaves
Tapestry, phantasmic, strange,
Shot with shifting dyes of change:
So my shallow bark and frail
Spreads a rich emblazoned sail,
Filled, as now the summer breeze
Fans my brain and stirs the trees,
Where, a hidden heart of fire,
Strives the moon in her desire
Still to pierce the leafy fret
Her celestial seat to get.
Cynthia’s self that silver shape,
Boskage dark, she doth escape,
Long her gleaming body hid
[82]Forth from its embraces slid,
Doth naked, glorious, emerge
Upon the lucent starry verge.
Let me linger in the wood,
Hear the sound of pipings rude,
Watch the shapes of nymph and fawn,
Centaurs fleet across the lawn,
Satyrs brown, in rhythmic dance,
By the stream great Pan, perchance,
Hidden in the vocal reed—
All the happy antique breed.
I would turn again the book,
Yet again to steal a look,
Back to where Time’s firstling ran—
Arboreal ancestral man:
Wooing shy his dusky mate,
Wild-eyed, half articulate:
In his rude canoe, askance,
See him poise his flint-tipped lance,
Flashing in the ardent noon
O’er the sedgy broad lagoon,
When Thames reeds the river-horse
Crushed in his unconscious force.
Swinging on the pendent bough
[83]Had he sweet content enow?
Basking in the primal sun
Recked he how his race should run?
How, for forest night of trees,
Cities spreading, dense as these,
Where the shade of gilded pride,
Starved and savage men, should hide
Human vampires, hawks and flies,
Gliding snakes and lustrous eyes,
Dainty beauty, plumaged fair,
Hollow masks for smiling care,
Hopeless toil that smileth not,
Misery, untold, forgot—
Where the throng of fashion flaunts,
Where, in dark unwholesome haunts,
Lurks a darker race, to prowl
Desert streets when night doth scowl,
Desert stoney streets, and bare,
’Neath a strange electric glare,
Fiery eyed to track them down,
Homeless on the heartless town.
Ah! could early man, or late,
Set his ways, or Nature’s, straight,
Who life’s stream doth careless pour,
Lets the cup brim o’er and o’er,
[84]Who will drink, or, drinking, dream,
With the chosen skim the cream,
Struggle with the ravening swine,
For residue, or helpless whine,
Lazarus at Dives’ gate,
Dives at his feast of state,
Rising with a hungry heart,
As, one by one, life’s guests depart.
Could we chain those monsters up
That on human lives do sup—
Shameless lust of rule and gold,
Lawless greed grown overbold,
Vice and drink with palsied hand
Riding down the joyless land—
Then, if humanity could be
From these, and other tyrants, free
To win its bread—to win, I wot,
Vine, and fig, and breathing plot,
Joy in work, and joy in leisure,
Love and art to fill life’s measure,
Force and fraud might vainly rage
To see, new born, the golden age.
Sailing thus, as thought doth steer,
[85]With the moon through cloud and clear,
Fancy flutt’ring at the prow,
Sirens singing soft and low,
From the opal shores and streams,
Where they dye the cloth of dreams—
From the present and the past
Have I touched the land at last!
Voyaging the world around
Yet anchored still to English ground.
June, 1884.
decoration

[86]
[87]

·THE·SIRENS·THREE

THE·SIRENS·THREE

[88]
[89]

decoration

THE SIRENS THREE
DEDICATORY SONNET
TO
WILLIAM MORRIS

THE Mage of Naishapur in English tongue
Beside the northern sea, I, wandering, read,
With chaunt of breaking waves each verse was said,
Till, storm-possessed, my heart in answer sung;
And to the winds my ship of thoughts I flung,
And drifted wide upon the ocean dread
Of space and time, ere thought and life were bred,
Till Hope did cast the anchor, and I clung.
The Book of Omar saw I limned in gold,
And decked with vine and rose and pictured pause,
Enwrought by hands of one well skilled and bold
In art and poesy and Freedom’s cause—
Hope of humanity and equal laws—
To him and to this hope be mine enscrolled.

[90]

THE·SIRENS·THREE

I

LOST on a sleepless sea, without avail
My soul’s ship drifted wide, with idle sail
And slow pulsating oars, that night’s blue gulf
Beat noiselessly to Time’s recurring tale.

II

The rolling hours like waves broke, one by one,
Upon the tide of thought time’s sands outrun,
And cloudy visions hovered o’er my bed,
Piled to the stars, full soon like cloud undone:

III

As, like the wan moon through her fleecy sea,
My spirit clove their rack unceasingly,
And struck at last upon an unknown ground,
More still than sleep, more strange than dreamlands be.

[91]

IV

The echoes of lost thoughts wild music made,
Like Sirens, heard above the winds that played,
Above the rhythmic waves’ tumultuous tone,
Upon the hollows of that coast decayed.

V

Yea, on the strand they stood, the Sirens three—
No More, and golden Now, and dark To be,
Whose vocal harps are love, and hope, and grief;
To these they sang, and waved their hands to me.

VI

Who thence, unto the shore, escaping, clung,
As from the dread insatiate ocean’s tongue
That lapped the barren sand, and evermore,
Above its vain recoil, the Sisters sung.

[92]


VII

Prone on that unknown land, outcast, forlorn,
My soul lay; watching for the eyes of morn;
As from a dying universe adrift,
A naked life—to what dim world new born?

VIII

All former things had passed, the sea’s salt tears
From Youths’ frail ship had washed false hopes and fears,
And relics, treasured once, bestrewed the sand,
Wrapped in the clinging weed the seamaid wears.

IX

The bodies of lost Faith and Love, outcast,
Spurned by the waves, and clinging to the mast,
Were flung upon the shore, mid drift and wreck,—
Time’s fragile shells, which frailer lives outlast.

X

As at the world’s end left, the last of men,
Or ere the first was sphered, beyond his ken,
Was I, mid tumbled kosmic fragments cast—
A babe at play within a mammoth’s den:

[93]

XI

Mid bones of power extinct, and its lost prey,
With shreds and shards of unknown primal day—
The formless Future, and the Past forgot,
The broken statue, and the sculptor’s clay.

XII

The blue-breast bird of space his fan outspread,
And shook the starry splendour o’er my head—
A wood of eyes that wonder at the world,
Glassed in the world’s eyes’ wonder, scanned and read:

XIII

Each burning orb that did the sky emblaze
Upon my spirit lone cast piercing gaze;
World beyond world enringed, and suns aflame
Shot from night’s spangled cloud their storm of rays.

XIV

As doth the glass to one bright point intense
Draw the sun’s fervour to our shrinking sense;
So, on my soul, the concentrated fire
Of countless suns that moment did condense.

[94]

XV

My brain, an instant’s Atlas, seemed to bear
The Universe immense, and all its care;
For thought’s frail arms intolerable weight,
Since Nature’s triumph still is Man’s despair.

XVI

Untilled, unknown, the trackless regions spread
Which Thought, belated wanderer, doth tread,
Where, like river flashing through the night,
The milky way its myriad star-foam shed.

XVII

Cast from what vital source—what teeming brain?
By blind persistent force—from fiery rain?
Suns, moons, and stars, transmuted, globed, and hung—
The dew of Space upon its blue campaign:

XVIII

Trod by the feet of Time, as he doth go,
A labourer night and morn to reap and sow—
Who counts the glittering drops—the spheres that fall,
Or marvels they should hold such weight of woe?

[95]

XIX

Each drop a desert, or a battle-ground
Of life in its arena ringed around,
Where without quarter wears the endless war,
Till Death the hunter slips his famished hound.

XX

Here, circling with the horses of the sun,
Man’s fateful race from day to day is run;
Bound in this narrow ring—his crown, his grave
Still as the world for each is lost or won.

XXI

Then, like a homeless one, my spirit turned
For shelter ’neath the roofless void, and—spurned
From the star-desert to the stony one—
Scanned the dark waste where yet no hearth fire burned:

[96]

XXII

But through the veil of night, around me there,
Rose towering shapes clothed in the voiceless air,
Like kings enthroned amid their powers’ decay—
Statue, and ruined shrine, and temple bare:

XXIII

Dolmen, and sphinx, and Greek or Gothic fane,
The shattered caskets of man’s winged brain,
Whose flight hath left them empty, desolate,
Sublime in ruin on the crumbling plain.

XXIV

The perished bodies frail that once did house
His restless soul, and heard his sacred vows
To his own likeness, dressed in speech or stone,
Ere he forswore them for some fairer spouse.

XXV

He sought for Truth, and cried, “Where dost thou dwell?”
Ten thousand tongues replied, but none could tell:
They held their peace, and then the stones did cry—
“Lo! Truth sits naked by the wayside well.”

[97]

XXVI

She sitteth naked since they drove her out
From Babel of the Creeds to wastes of Doubt;
There hath she wandered long in dens and caves,
Through Custom’s winter, and through Reason’s drought.

XXVII

They would have cloaked her as a shameful thing;
Force brought her chains, and Fraud a marriage ring,
But Truth, affrighted, fled the market place
Where lies were coined in gold, and Craft was king.

XXVIII

And still she flies from sacred fount, and school,
When man defiles, or doth his kind befool;
And still they wait, the halt, the lame, the blind,
Though Truth, the angel, troubleth not the pool.

XXIX

A wandering spirit in this street of tombs,
I sought her yet who still to travel dooms,
From hostel unto hostel o’er the waste,
Her votaries the fitful lamp illumes.

[98]

XXX

But ere the dawn stood trembling at night’s gate,
Dark as the night, I reached a portal great,
Wide to the homeless wind, defaced and bare,
While yet it spake of power, and antique state,

XXXI

Of pillared hall and chambers large and fair,
Which Thought and Art had carven and made rare,
As life by life was laid with stone on stone,
Or flowed through marble veins the beams to bear;

XXXII

And flowered aloft in capital and frieze,
As roof and wall high rose with years’ increase;
Withal did slow decay still gild and stain,
Or like a stealthy robber climbed to seize.

XXXIII

Strange lights from windows glared, and stranger sound
Of mingled mourners’ grief and revel round—
Sad discords from a world’s disorder wrung—
With music broke upon the desert bound.

[99]

XXXIV

A fountain in the forecourt sullen slept,
One wintry tree beside it, wind beswept,
And shorn of its last leaves, which strewed the stone,
Like one above the water, drooped and wept.

XXXV

And at the threshold, on the shattered stair,
In raiment sad one sate as cloaked in care;
There, too, her sister shape in vernal green,
The lintel old did hang with garlands fair.

XXXVI

“Who,” then I would have cried, “art thou that weep?
And why with mourning festal garlands heap?
Why thus, though kindred, are your hearts in twain!
O Sisters weird this magic house who keep?

XXXVII

“This magic house, so fair, so disarrayed,
What god, what demon first its foundings laid?
Who thus its treasure to Oblivion casts,
Still hungering at the gate but never stayed?”

[100]

XXXVIII

And I was answered ere my thought found tongue,
As pealing from the gate their voices rung,
Like wailing harp and voice together heard;
With ear intent upon their speech I hung.

XXXIX

“Let no man ask, but he who doth not shrink
To stand at gaze upon thought’s giddy brink,
Where breaks the endless sea, and ebbs and flows
The tides of life and death that Time doth drink.

XL

“Time’s very house is this, his daughters we,
Ruin and Renovation, thou dost see,
That sweep or garnish, and its chambers fit
For grief or joy, or whatso guests may be.

XLI

“Pillared and roofed it is with nights and days,
And windows gemmed in gold, or azure space,
Its table spread, with earth’s, for fast or feast,
Between Birth’s gate and Death’s where all find place.

[101]

XLII

“Close curtained both with mystery and pain,
O’erwrought with costly tears, and heart-hued stain,
And Love the windows dim hath painted o’er
With dreams of dear delight, that wax and wane

XLIII

“From morn to eve, as through the glowing glass
His vital sun transfigures, as they pass,
Those visionary joys, and hopes, and fears
That mask Life’s face—a dream itself, alas!”

XLIV

But ere they ceased a fairer one forth came,
With cup of welcome and with torch aflame,
In floating raiment soft, and radiant hair,
And thus she sang, each captive sense to claim:—

XLV

“Dream on, O soul, or sleep and take thy rest,
The feast is spread however late the guest;
Let passion drug the cup with secret fire,
Till torturing thought be slain on pleasure’s breast.

[102]

XLVI

“Where all are masked thy mask shall be thy face,
Call for the best life gives, and take thy place
At Time’s long hostel board; cast off thy care,
And rest you merry in dame Fortune’s grace.

XLVII

“Vex not thy soul until the reckoning day,
Though life be but the least thou hast to pay;
Stand not too late on pleasure’s foaming brink,
Nor yet, with sightless eld, outsit the play.

XLVIII

“Time is thine host, and, ere the day grows old,
To thee his story strange he shall unfold,
Writ in a half-obliterated scroll,
But pictured fair, and graven deep—behold!”

[103]


XLIX

As though a new Pandora raised the lid,
And let life’s mystery escape unbid,
Broke sudden on my sight a wonder show,
As through the portal dark I gazed, close hid:

L

E’en like as one who sits expectant, dumb,
At gaze before some world’s proscenium,
When rolls the curtain from the painted stage,
To see life’s play,—Past, Present, and To Come;

LI

The drama of the earth before me rolled,
The war of good and evil, new and old,
The fight for very life, for space, for air,
The sum and cost of Being, still untold.

LII

Since when Time’s brooding bird did patient sit
Upon her spherèd egg—the world, to wit,
Potent with life, in ocean, earth, and air,
Ere ever faun or flower did people it:

[104]

LIII

Since when from countless germs life’s tree did grow
From writhing worms about its roots below,
From dragon-shapes that clasp its fossil stem,
To bear love’s fruit, and human flowers arow.

LIV

Where Thought’s winged kind among its branches dwell,
Still fertilized by Beauty’s potent spell;
Cast and re-cast in Nature’s supple mould,
Through death and change, and birth’s transforming cell.

LV

’Twas pictured here—with boughs outspread thro’ space,
Blossomed with stars upon the sky’s swart face,
With globing worlds for fruit, that cool or glow
As night and day, like leaves their shadows chase.

LVI

Out of the dream of ages, sleeping fast,
Out of the dim and unrecorded past,
Out of the caverns of uncounted time,
In life’s dark house Man saw the sun at last.

[105]

LVII

Inhuman Man, late come unto the birth,
Wrapped in the swathing bands of mother Earth,
Long his descent, his pedigree obscure,
To his inheritance of strife and dearth.

LVIII

As from the ground the earth worm crawls to light,
Speechless and blind, from antenatal night
Man rose on earth, the bitter strife began—
Man rose on earth, and craft did conquer might:

LIX

Since cruel Nature, careless of her child,
Left him an outcast on the worldly wild,
Cradled in space, and serpent-swathed in time,
And rocked to sleep by death, or dream-beguiled.

LX

I saw him in his cradle at the first,
With beasts and savage passions, rudely nursed,
To snatch uncertain life from Nature’s hand,
Niggard or prodigal, through best and worst;

[106]

LXI

He blindly bore the burden of his day
With his dumb kindred of the primal clay,
Whence drew his blood brute instincts, fiery lusts,
That waste his substance still, and tear and slay.

LXII

A babbling child he sits upon Time’s sand,
To the mute sky he cries, he would command;
Heedless he plays with serpents and with fire,
With life—a toy in his unconscious hand.

LXIII

Yet hath he held it from that early day,
Though Death did ever plot to snatch away,
And snared his tottering steps with dangers thick,
Prowling in countless shapes beside his way.

LXIV

Sore was the strife, and little was life’s boon
Between the toiling sun and wasting moon,
With lurid pleasures fierce, and horrid rite,
Blind day outworn, the long long sleep won soon.

[107]

LXV

Still Nature, prodigal, did cast his seed
O’er frozen sea, or burning zone, to breed—
Where hand or foot could cling, or heart could beat—
Man’s kind on earth, since sprung to flower, or weed.

LXVI

The rod of Want, the school of bitter Need,
Taught him Life’s letters, still so hard to read:
Use gave him skill, and skill new sense to use,
He bent the bow, he bade the ploughshare speed.

LXVII

Bread for his body and his soul he sought,
Raiment to cloak him from the cold he bought
Of ruthless nature, toiling brain and hand;
Past all the gates of death his race he brought.

LXVIII

Lo! infant Thought and Art, Man’s children fair,
First tottering from the cave, his primal lair;
Babes in the world’s wood wandering, to and fro,
To touch man’s sordid heart, and lift his care.

[108]

LXIX

Since the first hunter graved his dirk and horn,
Or in the shepherd state was music born—
When Song lay dreaming in the whispering reed,
Ere she discoursed unto the golden morn.

LXX

Born of life’s travail, Virtues, sweet, benign,
Grew like fair daughters of a race divine—
The pillars of Man’s house, before whose rod
Evil and Good, as twisted snakes, untwine.

LXXI

But to his roof had fled pale palsied Fear,
The child of Death and Night, but fathered there,
And nursed by Ignorance beside the hearth
To cloud his house with all her mystic gear.

LXXII

Demon and fetish painted she to scare,
And veils against the light did weave and wear;
Yea, Art and Thought, man’s firstlings, fain would bind
From birth to serve her will, her yoke to bear.

[109]

LXXIII

So Man, held hand and foot, a slave behold
Between the soldier-king and priest of old;
By force and fraud bound fast as by two chains—
How long, O Man, how long shall they thee hold?

LXXIV

“How long?” again I cried,—but Silence kept
Her finger on the lips of Hope: still slept,
Like clouds upon the mountains, dreams untold,
And Freedom on the tomb of ages wept.

LXXV

Yet, like a watcher by a beacon fire,
Amid the lurid gloom and shadows dire,
Wrapped in the cloak of darkness, fold on fold,
I marked through flames portentous shapes aspire.

[110]


LXXVI

Slow streamed the progress vast of human kind,
Out of the primal dark I watched it wind,
Like a full river gleaming towards the sun,
Crested with light, but lost in mists behind.

LXXVII

I saw the towering crests of ancient state
Arise and pass, and bow themselves to fate:
Captors of men bound still to conquering Time,
And in their triumph drawn to death’s dark gate.

LXXVIII

Colossal Egypt on her car rolled by,
Dragged by her crowd of slaves, with lash and cry;
Who now, a slave herself, is bought and sold,
And buried in the sand her pride doth lie.

LXXIX

Athens, supreme, with burnished helm and spear,
In art and arms and wisdom shining clear,
To other hands hath passed the lamp of life,
And weep the muses o’er her sculptured bier.

[111]

LXXX

There, clothed as with a robe with power and pride,
Great Rome upon her triumph car did ride
Over the necks of nations and of men,
Unto whose broken wheel still souls are tied.

LXXXI

All these I saw, as on time’s painted page
The figure of man’s life from age to age
Was figured, like his life of years and hours,
And glassed his face—an infant or a mage.

LXXXII

In boyhood bright beneath the Grecian sun,
I saw him stand, intent his race to run—
To touch the golden goal of thought and art,
And daring all man since hath dared or done.

LXXXIII

The apple of his life to Beauty’s hand
Freely he gave, and she so dowered his land,
That still that fond world takes it for her glass,
And gazes, leaving knowledge and command.

[112]

LXXXIV

In youth a mystic shadow o’er him fell:
He touched the lover’s lute beneath the spell;
He fought, a knight-at-arms, for lady’s grace;
He prayed a monk austere in haunted cell;

LXXXV

Till Nature roused him from his dreams again,
And Reason broke the chains which bound him then;
New knowledge, power, and beauty filled life’s cup,
And rolled the round world to his manhood’s ken.

LXXXVI

Yet old before his time he sits, out-worn
With words and wars, upon the seat of scorn;
Weary of life’s vain round, love’s fruitless chase,
False fortune’s whirling wheel, fame’s empty horn.

LXXXVII

For here, in living shape and semblance, shone
The passions and the powers man’s soul hath won
Through all his ages, like the starry signs
Where through life’s year revolves the sleepless sun.

[113]

LXXXVIII

The pattern and the form of thoughts untold;
The book of being wrought in runes of gold;
The twisted net that holds all gain and loss
The birth-clothes cover, or the shroud doth fold.

LXXXIX

The moving tapestry of human date,
Where lives for threads are crossed in love or hate,
Between the narrow beams of dark and day—
Time’s shifting loom, the toil of threefold fate.

XC

At their eternal task the sisters dread,
Who spin and weave and shear the slender thread
With all its dyes, that doth sustain and fill
This tangled web from pole to pole outspread.

XCI

The arras that doth clothe the house of Time,
Stained with the hues of all man’s bliss and crime:—
The chequered pageant of the changing earth
Still through its folds doth ever sink and climb:

[114]

XCII

Along the street of days and nights where rolls
The world’s car onwards and its throng of souls,
Like captives in a conqueror’s triumph chained—
Compelled by fortune’s wheel that none controls.

XCIII

The glittering triumph of youth’s golden dreams,
And ardent manhood in the zenith, beams
Of love, and fame, and power that guides the car,
And slow-pulsed eld still warmed in their last gleams.

XCIV

Masqued with the masquers in that endless race
The hours go by at grief’s or passion’s pace,
And cloaked alike in poverty or pride,
Through all life’s masks death shows his ashen face.

XCV

The shadow clinging to the feet of life,
As unto day doth cleave his silent wife—
Sower and reaper in the self-same field—
Twin spirits folded in immortal strife.

[115]

XCVI

There good and ill, brothers and bitter foes,
Do strike the balance of man’s joys and woes;
And in the traffic of the world’s exchange
Oft ill as good, and good as evil goes:

XCVII

Two knights that battle for Truth’s painted targe,
With flashing spears upon time’s river marge,
Where, like the rushing waters, rise their steeds,
And crash together in tremendous charge.

XCVIII

Their broken harness lies upon time’s plain,
Their wars’ receding tide doth cast the slain,
As shifts the battle ground from age to age,
And earth its grim memorials retain.

XCIX

These things I marked, as in a moving show
Before mine eyes life passed thro’ gloom and glow—
The trappings and the garniture that decked
This house of shadows still from room to room.

[116]


C

Man was; man is; but who shall count the gain,
Or measure out the sum of all life’s pain?
So to the play my thought made interlude,
And still to fate’s sad music sang refrain.

CI

Man is, but who can count his being’s cost?
Who metes the water from the pitcher lost?
The squandered corn upon the sower’s path?
Cast in time’s scale hath good or ill the most?

CII

Each out of Babel answers for himself,
As justice he doth love, or gilded pelf:
Who in the school of ignorance should read
Truth’s tattered book on thriftless nature’s shelf?

[117]

CIII

Unlettered children, hopeless to the task,
And dumb before life’s riddles, still we ask;
But labour, sole, is answered—patient thought,
And science still doth nature make unmask.

CIV

Ah! what is life?—A coin but stamped and cast
Into time’s treasury, counted, weighed, and pass’d,
Staked in the fateful race for weal or woe,
And, gold or silver, changed for lead at last?

CV

While dread Necessity, great Nature’s nurse,
Who rules man’s way for better or for worse,
Still watching by death’s bed and birth’s doth sit
To pour life’s blessing or to brand its curse.

CVI

Between the flickering lamps of day and night,
Cloaked in her age-worn mantle care-bedight,
Behold her shape, inexorable, vast—
Blind arbitress o’er changeling wrong and right:

[118]

CVII

Who pain, and bliss, and passion, hope, despair,
Casts in life’s cup, she, cunning, mixes fair,
And gives, as to a babe, man’s helpless lips,
Drawing delicious poison unaware.

CVIII

Then what is life? Well might we ask again—
A spirit from the cup that fills the brain
With teeming images of love and power,
And high desires ’tis impotent to gain?

CIX

Protean life which man doth vain pursue
From youth’s green meads to age’s mountains blue—
The painted fly a breathless child doth chase—
Through all its changing shapes to change but true:

CX

This quivering bubble, dyed with every stain
Of splendour and of passion, why in vain—
Ah! why?—It sails the summer air—
An iridescent moment lost in rain?

[119]


CXI

But still the cup is passed swift as of yore,
As life each new come guest doth pledge and pour
The priceless wine into the fragile glass,
Once to the brim filled up, and filled no more.

CXII

Some drink with eager thirst; some waste their store,
Or drop by drop still watch it shrinking sore;
Some, ere the vital juice hath passed their lips,
The frail cup shatter on the marble floor.

CXIII

Yet high the feast-tide rolled, and those who fell
Few missed, nor empty long their place did dwell,
For great the press is at earth’s table round,
And still new streams that company doth swell.

[120]

CXIV

Ah! bitter was the strife, and hot the breath,
Of envy, hate, their smiling masks beneath,
And baleful fires I saw in beauties’ eyes,
And rosy ensigns veiled the cheek of death.

CXV

While grovelled for the crumbs a famished crew,
As starvèd hounds for what man careless threw,
On wastrel bread and refuse fain to feed,
Or none, as deadlier their struggle grew.

CXVI

For very life at all too dear a cost
As slaves these toiled, while those as counters tost
Their lives for gold, or gold for lives exchanged,
Indifferent, so they did win, who lost.

CXVII

For those the roses, and for these the rue,
In man’s unequal measures paid undue:
Some murmured loud, some patient bore their fate—
The poor were many, and the rich were few.

[121]

CXVIII

Most weary of the sordid throng I grew,
And thence a little space apart withdrew,
Weary of life, that it this thing should be,
Nor other lot for man that hope foreknew.

CXIX

So to the portal dark I turned again,
And there, as at the first, the Sisters twain—
She who the fruitless garland hung aloft,
She on the shattered stone that wept in vain.

CXX

But in the forecourt flashed the fountain’s stream,
The wintry tree beside its glittering beam
Bore now a cloud of blossom, red and pale,
As if bright spring had touched it in a dream.

[122]


CXXI

Alone I stood in that still house of Time,
All swept and bare it was as at the prime,
And but the sea-wind peopled it with sighs,
And, heard afar, the slow waves’ measured chime.

CXXII

I saw Time’s shape colossal rising stark
Against the endless waves, receding dark
Beneath a rising dawn that never rose
Upon the sea, where yet would Hope embark.

CXXIII

Yea! Hope arose and drew the painted veil
Of things that are, and furled it like a sail,
And on her gilded prow I stood at gaze
On golden sands beyond the morning pale.

CXXIV

And from the face of Earth were drawn away,
Like clinging mists that do obscure the day,
The shadows and the fears which have oppressed
Her children long beneath their baneful sway.

[123]

CXXV

As new created in her sculptured sphere,
I saw her rise again translucent, clear,
Robed in the kindling splendour of the sun,
Renascent from the sea of crystal air,

CXXVI

That limpid broke on her rejoicing shore,
Where life’s reviving stream welled evermore
From Nature’s fount, through teeming veins that bred
Man’s countless kin from one redundant core.

CXXVII

I saw the dragons slain of lust and greed,
Of gold and power, that waste to serve their need
Poor human lives; and till earth’s fruitful fields
With fire and sword, and bloody vengeance breed.

CXXVIII

No more the nations armed did lie and wait,
Like bandits fierce, to spoil and desolate
What each did hold most dear—no dogs of war
At tyrant’s beck, let loose to maim and bait.

[124]

CXXIX

No peoples blind by blinder leaders led
Into the pit of shame, or daily fed
Like swine on empty husks and sophistries,
And frozen custom giving stones for bread.

CXXX

No selfish castes in internecine strife
Fought like the beasts to win a worthless life;
No ruthless commerce cheapened hope and health,
Or held to slavish throats starvation’s knife.

CXXXI

No rights usurped, against the common good
Breathed out defiance, and the claims withstood
Of labour and of life, where all by labour lived:
No bonds were there but bonds of brotherhood.

CXXXII

No temple-gloom obscured the lucent skies,
Nor incense fume of faith’s dead sacrifice,
No baneful toil made cities desolate
With hellish smoke at morn and eve to rise.

[125]

CXXXIII

No morbid anchorite with famished creed
Would man persuade to sell his nature’s need
Of joy—no fevered dream of future fate
Would snatch life’s brimming cup, his human meed.

CXXXIV

Not there blind dogma flung the bitter fruit
Of discord, burning red, or hate uproot
The flower of innocence, or fraud beguiled,
Or force laid iron hands on man and brute.

CXXXV

I saw regenerate Man, as stainless, free—
A child again on mother Nature’s knee;
His wistful eyes did scan the starry spheres,
His hand outstretched to life’s new-flowering tree.

CXXXVI

The Ages kneeling at his feet did bear
The treasure of their thoughts in caskets rare—
The fire-tried gold of science, and the lore
Of wisdom, bought with costly toil and care.

[126]

CXXXVII

The thoughts each moment from the quivering brain
That spring like flames, or, born with labour pain,
Embodied there I saw—quick thronging spirits fair
From whose inwoven wings light fell like summer rain.

CXXXVIII

And each in hand did bear the emblems bright
Wherein do art and poesy delight,
And mysteries of science, hid in time,
Her wands of power and globes of knowledge-light

CXXXIX

For, more than men, lives Man, through death alive;
Slow moves the progress vast, still cry and strive
New hopes, new thoughts for utterance and for act,
And Use, and Strength, and Beauty yet survive.

CXL

Yea, beauty’s image graven on the mind
Beats with the pulse of life, in life enshrined;
Irradiant she moves in love’s own flame,
And joy with her, and the sweet graces kind.

[127]

CXLI

Like Venus flashing from the lucent sea,
Or, from the earth, the flower Persephone;
She that was buried, lo! is born again,
And time her resurrection brings to be.

CXLII

Daughter of earth yet is not mortal she,
Though time hath shook the blossoms from her tree,
Her spring returns, her summer and her fruit,
And Art by her hath Immortality.

CXLIII

I saw, I heard no more, for sleep, like rain
Fell soft at last upon my restless brain;
For Sleep in all the pageant made the last,
And with her poppies swept mine eyes again:

[128]

CXLIV

Yea, far upon her wings then I was borne
All dreamlessly till, like a dream, the morn
Broke on my sense and sight, and swift and loud,
Day, like a hunter, blew his golden horn.
decoration

[129]

·FLORA’S·FEAST· ·A·MASQVE·OF·FLOWERS

FLORA’S·FEAST·A·MASQVE·OF·FLOWERS
THE sullen winter nearly spent,
Queen Flora to her garden went
To call the flowers from their long sleep,
The year’s glad festivals to keep:
And one by one each making bold
Their silken vesture to unfold,
And peeping forth to meet the sun,
The long procession is begun:—
The snowdrops, first upon the scene,
White-crested braved King Frost’s demesne:
The little Crocus reaches up
To catch a sunbeam in his cup:
The Daffodil his trumpet blows,
[130]And after spring a-hunting goes:
Anemones rode out the gale,
Frail wind-flowers fluttered, red and pale:
The Violet and the Primrose dame,
With modest mien but hearts a-flame:
Green kirtled from the brooklet’s fold,
The rustic maid Marsh Marigold:
The “Lady smocks all silver white”
The milkmaids of the meadows bright,
Where shining Buttercups abound
Among the Cowslips on the ground.
Here, Lords and Ladies of the wood,
With shaking spear and riding hood:
Black knight-at-arms, the white-plumed Thorn;
In pomp the Crown Imperial borne.
While Tulips lift the banner red,
Or fill their cups with fire instead:
Sweet Hyacinths their bells did ring,
To swell the music of the spring.
With blazoned pennons from each spear
The Iris and the Flag appear:
Sweet masking May, in white or red,
[131]Her snowy cloud of blossom spread:
And Chaucer’s Daisy, small and sweet—
“Si douce est la Margarete.”
The little Lilies of the Vale,
White ladies delicate and pale.
Great Peonies in crimson pride,
And budding ones in green that hide:
Fair Columbines that drew the car
Of Venus from her distant star:
And Love’s own flower, the blushing Rose,
The Queen of all the garden close:
And Roses from the hedgerow wild,
Behind their thorns that faintly smiled:
And from the cressy brook’s green side,
“Forget-me-Not,” a small voice cried.
Here stately Lilies pale and proud,
In vesture pure as summer cloud;
Or, burning like an orange flame,
With torches borne aloft they came.
The Monk that wears the Hood of blue,
The Belles of Canterbury, too:
Wide Oxeyes in the meads that gaze
[132]On scarlet Poppy heads ablaze:
Ere Evening Primrose lights her lamp,
A beacon to the garden camp:
When Lilies of the Day are done,
And sunk the golden westering sun:
Fresh Pinks cast incense on the air,
In fluttering garments fringed and rare.
Their cousin from the corn in blue;
Corn Marigold of golden hue.
The fond Convolvulus still clings,
The Honeysuckle spreads his wings:
The Hollyhock his standard high,
Rears proudly to the autumn sky:
The blazing Sunflower, black and bold,
Burns yet to win the sunset’s gold,
That, reddening on the Triton’s spear
Foretells the waning of the year:
When Lilies, turned to Tigers, blaze
Amid the garden’s tangled maze;
Where still in triumph, stiff with gold,
The rich Chrysanthemums unfold;
Ere doth the floral pageant close
With one last flower—a Christmas Rose.

[133]

·FROM·HELLAS·HOMEWARD·

FROM·HELLAS·HOMEWARD
FROM sea to sea our steamer glides,
The Adriatic laves her sides,
Her engines, deep pulsating, beat,
A throbbing heart of fire and heat;
Its freight of human hearts to bear
With good and ill as time doth wear.
Still changeful as the changing seas
Beneath the wayward winds’ increase,
Or like the bird that eastward flies,
Our thoughts fare backward with our eyes
Which still the blue Ægean holds;
Round Grecian isles its cincture folds,
Where on Sunium falls the light,
And carves anew the columns white;
Where the gulf of Nauplia fills
The sculptured sides of Argos’ hills;
[134]And through their gates thrown back do show
Fair gardens rich and trees arow,
Where yet in waking dreams one sees
The Apples of Hesperides,
With but the gleaming scales between
Of water in the sunsets’ sheen.
Past the twinkling lights that show,
Like stars to mock celestial glow,
And light us back to antique ground—
To Tiryn’s buried ruins found,
And Agamemnon’s house of old,
With treasures of Mykenæ’s gold,
Where stands the lion-guarded gate,
To keep the city’s shattered state,
Among the lonely hills forgot
Of ages long, as it were not.
Hill and dale dissolving glide,
As the winged wheels swiftly slide,
By Nemæan crags that still
The legendary echoes fill.
Or by Corinth’s fortressed steep,
And shattered temple, still that keep
The record of her ancient fame,
Her glory past into a name.
What oracle from Delphi hear?
[135]What message from Apollo bear?
Speaks no more the god of light?
Doth he no word to men indite?
Yea, day by day his arrows’ flight
Behold! Dividing dark and bright,
Till they strike Athena’s fanes—
Still upon the rock she reigns,
Though, alas! Her house of state,
Empty is, and desolate:
Fair still her shrine of marble shines,
Whenas the sun-like moon defines
With opal lights and shadows blue
That well nigh build the temple new,
Which day by day o’erlays with gold
As in the sun’s bright flame of old.
Many a morn and eve have we
Watched him rise and set at sea,
His foaming steeds with tossing crests
Turn fire the watery way they breast,
Where dolphins leaping drive the spray
Before them in their wanton play.
What if the ancient gods no more
Are seen of men on sea or shore?
What if a sterner creed and cold
Did drive them from the Temple’s fold?
Or pride of rule, or curse of gold,
[136]With wasting care that makes youth old,
Do blind men’s eyes to all save gain,
And beauty pleads with them in vain?
Though greed would all the earth degrade
And see the world a market made,
And drive the peasant from his soil,
And lay the yoke of hopeless toil
Upon the millions seeking bread,
To art and love and beauty dead;
Not all has gone while these have hold
In some true hearts not bought and sold.
Though fallen, Aphrodité’s shrines
Still through the opal wave she shines,
Or, veiled in light doth sail the blue
Where breaks the foam in iris hue;
And still from dangerous rocks is heard
The siren’s song Odysseus feared,
Far wandering from his sea-girt home
In Ithaca across the foam.
The same stars shine above his head
As watch us on our rocking bed;
As turned his thoughts to child and wife,
And homestead dear, and pleasant life;
So, tossing on the houseless seas
Sweet thoughts of home our hearts do please.
decoration: fish

[137]

RONDEAUS·RONDELS·& TRIOLET·

RONDEAUS·RONDELS·& TRIOLET

[138]
[139]

RONDEAU—BEYOND THE VERGE

BEYOND the verge of night dost sigh
To watch the glow of reddening sky,
While sleep the worldlings wrapt in grey
Of mist and dreams that round them play
In semblance of reality?
Thought’s craggy cliff is steep to try,
That walls the future, yet Hope’s eye
Doth catch the breaking beacon ray
Beyond the verge.
Now gleam and glance in gold array
Bright vanes on towers that meet half-way
Like spears and torches held on high,
And flashing as the wind sweeps by—
The herald’s fleet of that new day
Beyond the verge.

[140]

RONDEAU—THE OLD AND NEW

THE Old and New together meet,
Around the world, across the street,
As neighbours, side by side, that grew;
As friends, or foes, as false or true,
Whose tale the heedless hours repeat.
Two stems entwined to part and greet,
From one root springing, bitter-sweet
With flower and fruitage, seed to strew,
The Old and New.
Since, serpent-twined, their knowledge knew
The heart of man, between the two,
With clinging hands and winged feet
He stands the sport of Time’s deceit,
The parti-coloured shield in view—
The Old and New.

[141]

RONDEAU—ACROSS THE FIELDS

ACROSS the fields like swallows fly
Sweet thoughts and sad of days gone by,
From Life’s broad highway turned away,
Like children thought and memory play,
Nor heed Time’s scythe though grass be high.
Beneath the blue and shoreless sky,
Time is but told when seedlings dry
By love’s light breath are blown like spray
Across the fields.
Now comes the scent of fallen hay,
And flowers bestrew the foot-worn clay,
While summer breathes a passing sigh,
As westward rolls the day’s gold eye,
And Time with Labour ends his day
Across the fields.

[142]

RONDEAU—IN LOVE’S DISPORT

IN love’s disport, gay bubbles blown,
On summer’s winds, light-freighted, flown;—
A child intent upon delight
The painted spheres would keep in sight—
Dissolved too soon in worlds unknown.
Lo! from the furnace mouth hath grown
Fair shapes, as frail, with jewelled zone
Clear globes which fate might read aright
In love’s disport.
O frail as fair! Though in the white
Of flameful heat with force to fight,
Art thou by careless hands cast down
Or killed—when frozen hearts disown
The children born of love of light
In love’s disport.

[143]

RONDEAU—WHAT MAKES THE WORLD

WHAT makes the world for you and I?
A space of lawn a strip of sky,
The bread and wine of fellowship,
The cup of life for love to sip,
A glass of dreams in Hope’s blue eye.
So let the days and hours still fly,
Let Fortune flout, and Fame deny,
With feathered heel shall fancy trip—
What makes the world?
The wealth that never in the grip
Of blighting greed shall heedless slip—
When bought and sold is liberty:
With worth of life and love gone by,
What makes the world?

[144]

RONDEAU—SEED-TIME

THE field is wide, broadcast the seed
Of human hope and human need,
As, to and fro, from end to end,
The furrows of the world ye wend
Its legioned hungry mouths to feed.
Though lowering o’er the landscape bend
The brows of winter, rains descend,
And tempest sowings whirlwinds breed,
The field is wide.
Sowing, ye shall reap indeed
Golden grain, or grisly weed,
Or dragon’s teeth, that in the end,
Perchance, in golden ears depend,
Sunward, as our path doth lead,
The field is wide.

[145]

RONDEAU—A SEAT FOR THREE
WRITTEN ON THE PANELS OF A SETTLE

A SEAT for three, where host and guest
May side by side pass toast or jest;
And be their number two or three
With elbow-room and liberty,
What need to wander east or west?
A book for thought, a nook for rest,
And meet for fasting or for fest,
In fair and equal parts to be
A seat for three.
Then give you pleasant company,
For youth or eld a shady tree;
A roof for council or sequest,
A corner in a homely nest,
Free, equal, and fraternally,
A seat for three.

[146]

RONDEL—WHEN TIME UPON THE WING

WHEN Time, upon the wing,
A swallow heedless flies,
Love-birds forget to sing
Beneath the lucent skies:
For now belated spring
With her last blossom hies,
When time, upon the wing,
A swallow heedless flies.
What summer hope shall bring
To wistful dreaming eyes?
What fateful forecast fling
Before life’s last surprise
When Time upon the wing,
A swallow heedless flies?

[147]

RONDEL—THIS BOOK OF HOURS

THIS Book of Hours Love wrought
With burnished letters gold,
Each page with art and thought
And colours manifold.
His calendar he taught
To youths and virgins cold—
This Book of Hours Love wrought
With letters burnished gold.
Love’s priceless book is bought
With sighs and tears untold
Of votaries who sought
His countenance of old—
This Book of Hours Love wrought
With letters burnished gold.

[148]

TRIOLET

IN the light, in the shade,
This is Time and Life’s measure;
With a heart unafraid,
In the light, in the shade,
Hope is born and not made,
And the heart finds its treasure
In the light, in the shade—
This is Time and Life’s measure.

[149]

SONNETS

SONNETS

[150]
[151]


AT SHELLEY’S GRAVE
WRITTEN IN THE PROTESTANT CEMETERY,
ROME, APRIL 11, 1872

TREAD softly! Here the heart of Shelley lies:
His grave a garden ’neath the cypress wood,
Stirred with the tongues his spirit understood,
And spake in deathless song that vivifies
Men’s souls made heavy with the sad world’s cries,
Still where the darkness hides the dragon brood
Of evil, and while yet innocent blood
Is shed, and truth and falsehood change their dyes.
Thy voice is heard above the silent tomb,
And shall be heard until the end of days,
While Freedom lives, and whatsoever things
Are good and lovely—still thy spirit sings,
And by thy grave to-day fresh violets bloom,
But on thy head imperishable bays.

[152]

THE VOICE OF SPRING

I HEARD the voice of Spring—I saw her look
Out of the naked wood, and, on the green,
Traced the frail pattern of her steps unseen,
Toward Winter’s house which he this day forsook:
There she hath turned the leaves of Time’s sad book,
Seeking the songs, well-nigh forgotten clean
By faltering birds in Winter’s dark demesne,
O’erborne by bitter winds that none may brook.
Art thou so near! And we still all unmeet
To give thee welcome? Due with service clear
From dull world’s slavery, and sordid taint,
The soil and rust of cities, spirits faint—
O fill us with new life, and give us cheer,
Whom life’s best gifts—Art, Love, and Freedom greet.

[153]

A DAY IN EARLY SPRING

THOU art the bride of Light, most glorious morn!
Issuing to meet thy lord—thy crystal gate
Flung wide by flame-winged hours—where he doth wait
Till from thy face the æthereal veil be torn:
Clothed in white splendour and thy train upborne
By silken handed airs in fluttering state,
With piping minstrels, joyful in thy fate,
And still, before thee heard, Spring’s herald horn.
Thy silver feet have touched the sparkling grass,
Where flowers are stars of light from heaven’s blue dome
Dropt in the noiseless night to pave thy floor:
So, like a splendid vision, thou dost pass
Between the pillars of the sun’s bright home,
Drawn in Time’s pageant to return no more.

[154]

A NIGHT IN MAY

FROM eve’s lit casement turns reluctant day,
A lingering lover—dreaming of delights
Unseen, unknown, with summer scents and sights
Scarce whispered through the modest green of May—
Who yet beneath the dusk would kiss and play,
With mingled softness of mysterious lights,
With hidden sweets the silent hour requites,
Ere from the west he sinks to night away.
But on the still grey eve what glory breaks!
A glowing sphere between the trembling trees,
As though the wondering world returning sees
A silvern sun a softer day that makes,
Ere this departs and his last song doth cease
With his last breath that night’s enchantment takes.

[155]

ILLUSIONS

I STOOPED to drink of Life’s enchanted stream,
From fair green meads and flowery marge of youth,
Athirst for love, for fame, and sight of truth,
And, dreaming as I drank, all life did seem
Fair as the pageant of a lover’s dream,
That hides the grim and sordid world uncouth;
Till Time and change came by that know not ruth,
And grief was left to watch Hope’s flickering beam.
So from the bitter world I turned again,
To work, to sleep; but as in sleep I lay,
Truth touched me, and Hope said to me, “Arise!”
Whom, waking, I beheld as visions vain
As dream-beguiled one looks with clouded eyes
Upon the breaking morn, nor knows it is the day.

[156]

ON THE SUPPRESSION OF FREE SPEECH AT CHICAGO

WITH stifled voice who crieth from the West,
Where sinks the ensanguined sun of Freedom, erst
That spread her stainless wings, and sheltering nurst,
From out all lands, the hunted and opprest?
America! shrink not from thy new guest;
For liberty was thine for best and worst:
How should her seed upon thy land be curst
Till her false friends as traitors stand confest?
Doth Freedom dwell where ruthless Kings of gain,
Like stealthy vampires, still on Labour feed,
Still free—to toil or starve on plenty’s plain?
Then what of Labour’s hope—the will to be
Equal, fraternal, knowing want nor greed,
Shrined in a peoples’ heart when states are free?
June, 1886.

[157]

FREEDOM IN AMERICA

WHERE is thy home, O Freedom? Have they set
Thine image up upon a rock to greet
All comers, shaking from their wandering feet
The dust of old world bondage, to forget
The tyrannies of fraud and force, nor fret,
Where men are equal, slavish chain unmeet,
Nor bitter bread of discontent to eat,
Here, where all races of the earth are met?
America, beneath thy banded flag
Of old it was thy boast that men were free
To think, to speak, to meet, to come and go.
What meaneth then the gibbet and the gag
Held up to Labour’s sons who would not see
Fair Freedom but a mask—a hollow show?
Oct. 7, 1887.

[158]

TO THE PRISONERS OF LIBERTY

JOHN BURNS AND R. B. CUNNINGHAM GRAHAM, WHO SUFFERED FOR A BRAVE ATTEMPT TO MAINTAIN THE RIGHT OF FREE SPEECH AND PUBLIC MEETING IN TRAFALGAR SQUARE.
WHAT robe of honour doth the prison hide,
What glory lines its stony cell and bare,
That, erst its tenants, forth in triumph fare?
Bondsmen for Freedom, and the right denied
By fraud and force, in legal mask that bide,
Alike on Irish ground, or London’s square,
With violent hands on those, henceforth to bear
The crest of battle on the people’s side.
What! must ye learn the lesson still so late
That they who suffer for the common good
Stone walls confine not, and no chain doth hold,
Blind Tyranny? Whom these, like men, withstood:
Whose tenfold force flings back the iron gate,
Whose names upon the reddening morn are scrolled.
February 22, 1888.

[159]

REMINISCENT

THROUGH seas of light above the opal blue
Across the Adriatic sped our ship,
Her long wake trailing towards the ocean’s lip,
Far from the isles of Greece; in our fond view
A vision bright that all our thoughts embue;
Which from the Book of Days may never slip
But in the golden haze of memory dip,
And its fresh youth continually renew.
It was my fortune late to tread upon
The marble stairs of Athens’ sacred steep,
To see its columned gate in moonlight sleep
Beneath the shadow of the Parthenon,
Fair still in ruin, though well Time might weep
For Pallas fallen and her glory gone.

[160]

OF HELLAS DEAD

MID wrecks of Hellas dead in marble state,
Whose relics whiten still Ægean’s shore,
Gold treasuries of kings, Art’s precious ore,
Cast up by Time’s slow waves to us so late:
It reached me then these things to meditate—
How fell such pillared state, how lost its lore?
What palsy touched the hand, what ate the core
Of ancient life—why Hellas met such fate?
And so methought of nations now that sail
Upon the wings of commerce and of gold,
With new-found force electric, iron and steam,
To yoke fierce Nature’s neck; shall these avail
To save us, or our toil-wrung wealth redeem,
If Freedom fair, and justice loose their hold?

[161]

TO THE HAMMERSMITH CHOIR

SWEET voices broke my sleep on Christmas morn;
Clear through the moonlit air their anthem rung,
Of human hope and fellowship that sung,
A mass for souls not dead but yet new born,
A herald blast on Freedom’s silver horn,
At dayspring on the brooding darkness flung,
With tidings of new joy in tuneful tongue,
The marching song of workers travel-worn.
As one in dreams I heard, and wondering rose;
E’en as the shepherds’ marvelling of old
To hear the angels quiring, and my blood
Quickened to catch at last their stirring close,
And so my heart took hope and courage good
In thought of days to be in time untold.
Xmas, 1888.

[162]

RENASCENCE

ART, once an outcast in a wintry land,
Far from the sun-built house where she was born,
Did wander desolate and laughed to scorn
By eyeless men who counted gold like sand:
Nor any soul her speech would understand—
A friendless stranger in the city lorn,
Toil-grimed and blackened with the smoke upborne
Of human sacrifice of brain and hand.
Then Art, aweary, laid her down and slept
Beneath an ancient gate, and dreaming, smiled,
For Hope, like spring, came full of tidings good;
And Labour, huge and free, and Brotherhood
Led her between them like a little child
In time new born, to glad new life that leapt.

[163]

decoration

[164]
[165]

colophon




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