Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

"O mother, hear me yet before I die. Hath he not sworn his love a thousand times, In this green valley, under this green hill, Ev'n on this hand, and sitting on this stone? Seal'd it. with kisses? water'd it with tears? O happy tears, and how unlike to these! O happy Heaven, how canst thou see my face? O happy earth, how canst thou bear my weight? O death, death, death, thou ever-floating cloud, There are enough unhappy on this earth, Pass by the happy souls, that love to live: I pray thee, pass before my light of life, And shadow all my soul, that I may die. Thou weighest heavy on the heart within, Weigh heavy on my eyelids: let me die.

"O mother, hear me yet before I die. I will not die alone, for fiery thoughts

Do shape themselves within me, more and more, Whereof I catch the issue, as I hear

Dead sounds at night come from the inmost hills,
Like footsteps upon wool. I dimly see
My far-off doubtful purpose, as a mother
Conjectures of the features of her child
Ere.it is born: her child!-a shudder comes
Across me: never child be born of me,
Unblest, to vex me with his father's eyes!

"O mother, hear me yet before I die.
Hear me, O earth. I will not die alone,
Lest their shrill happy laughter come to me
Walking the cold and starless road of Death
Uncomforted, leaving my ancient love
With the Greek woman. I will rise and go
Down into Troy, and ere the stars come forth
Talk with the wild Cassandra, for she says
A fire dances before her, and a sound
Rings ever in her ears of armed men.
What this may be I know not, but I know
That, wheresoe'er I am by night and day,
All earth and air seem only burning fire.”

THE SISTERS.

WE were two daughters of one race:
She was the fairest in the face:

The wind is blowing in turret and tree. They were together, and she fell ; Therefore revenge became me well.

O the Earl was fair to see!

She died she went to burning flame:
She mix'd her ancient blood with shame.

The wind is howling in turret and tree. Whole weeks and months, and early and late, To win his love I lay in wait:

O the Earl was fair to see!

I made a feast; I bade him come;
I won his love, I brought him home.

The wind is roaring in turret and tree.
And after supper, on a bed,
Upon my lap he laid his head:

O the Earl was fair to see!

I kiss'd his eyelids into rest :
His ruddy cheek upon my breast.

The wind is raging in turret and tree.
I hated him with the hate of hell,
But I loved his beauty passing well.
O the Earl was fair to see!

I rose up in the silent night:
I made my dagger sharp and bright.
The wind is raving in turret and tree.
As half-asleep his breath he drew,
Three times I stabb'd him thro' and thro'.
O the Earl was fair to see!

I curl'd and comb'd his comely head,
He look'd so grand when he was dead.

The wind is blowing in turret and tree.

I wrapt his body in the sheet,
And laid him at his mother's feet.

O the Earl was fair to see!

ΤΟ

WITH THE FOLLOWING POEM.

I SEND you here a sort of allegory,
(For you will understand it,) of a soul,
A sinful soul possess'd of many gifts,
A spacious garden full of flowering weeds,
A glorious Devil, large in heart and brain,
That did love Beauty only, (Beauty seen
In all varieties of mould and mind,)

And Knowledge for its beauty; or if Good,
Good only for its beauty, seeing not

That Beauty, Good, and Knowledge are three sisters
That doat upon each other, friends to man,
Living together under the same roof,

And never can be sunder'd without tears.

And he that shuts Love out, in turn shall be
Shut out from Love, and on her threshold lie
Howling in outer darkness. Not for this

Was common clay ta'en from the common earth,
Moulded by God, and temper'd with the tears
Of angels to the perfect shape of man.

THE PALACE OF ART.

I BUILT my soul a lordly pleasure-house,
Wherein at ease for aye to dwell.

I said, "O Soul, make merry and carouse,
Dear soul, for all is well."

A huge crag-platform, smooth as burnish'd brass,
I chose. The ranged ramparts bright
From level meadow-bases of deep grass
Suddenly scaled the light.

Thereon I built it firm. Of ledge or shelf
The rock rose clear, or winding stair.
My soul would live alone unto herself
In her high palace there.

And while the world runs round and round," I said,

66

Reign thou apart, a quiet king,

Still as, while Saturn whirls, his steadfast shade
Sleeps on his luminous ring."

To which my soul made answer readily:
"Trust me, in bliss I shall abide

In this great mansion, that is built for me,
So royal-rich and wide."

Four courts I made, East, West, and South and North,
In each a squared lawn, wherefrom

The golden gorge of dragons spouted forth
A flood of fountain-foam.

And round the cool green courts there ran a row
Of cloisters, branch'd like mighty woods,

Echoing all night to that sonorous flow
Of spouted fountain-floods.

And round the roofs a gilded gallery
That lent broad verge to distant lands,
Far as the wild swan wings, to where the sky
Dipt down to sea and sands.

From those four jets four currents in one swell
Across the mountain stream❜d below
In misty folds, that floating as they fell
Lit up a torrent-bow.

And high on every peak a statue seem'd
To hang on tiptoe, tossing up
A cloud of incense of all odor steam'd
From out a golden cup.

So that she thought, "And who shall gaze upon
My palace with unblinded eyes,
While this great bow will waver in the sun,
And that sweet incense rise?"

For that sweet incense rose and never fail'd,
And, while day sank or mounted higher,
The light aërial gallery, golden-rail'd,
Burnt like a fringe of fire.

Likewise the deep-set windows, stain'd and traced,
Would seem slow-flaming crimson fires
From shadow'd grots of arches interlaced,
And tipt with frost-like spires.

Full of long-sounding corridors it was,
That over-vaulted grateful gloom,
Thro' which the livelong day my soul did pass,
Well-pleased, from room to room.

Full of great rooms and small the palace stood,
All various, each a perfect whole

From living Nature, fit for every mood
And change of my still soul.

For some were hung with arras green and blue,
Showing a gaudy summer-morn,

Where with puff'd cheek the belted hunter blew
His wreathed bugle-horn.

One seem'd all dark and red a tract of sand,
And some one pacing there alone,
Who paced forever in a glimmering land,
Lit with a low large moon.

One show'd an iron coast and angry waves.
You seem'd to hear them climb and fall
And roar rock-thwarted under bellowing caves,
Beneath the windy wall.

« PreviousContinue »