Page images
PDF
EPUB

And one, a full-fed river winding slow
By herds upon an endless plain,
The ragged rims of thunder brooding low,
With shadow-streaks of rain.

And one, the reapers at their sultry toil.
In front they Bound the sheaves.
Were realms of upland, prodigal in oil,
And hoary to the wind.

Behind

And one, a foreground black with stones and slags, Beyond, a line of heights, and higher

All barr'd with long white cloud the scornful crags, And highest, snow and fire.

And one, an English home
On dewy pastures, dewy trees,
Softer than sleep all things in order stored,
A haunt of ancient Peace.

gray twilight pour'd

Nor these alone, but every landscape fair,
As fit for every mood of mind,

Or gay, or grave, or sweet, or stern, was there,
Not less than truth design'd.

Or the maid-mother by a crucifix,

In tracts of pasture sunny-warm, Beneath branch-work of costly sardonyx Sat smiling, babe in arm.

Or in a clear-wall'd city on the sea,
Near gilded organ-pipes, her hair
Wound with white roses, slept St. Cecily;
An angel look'd at her.

Or thronging all one porch of Paradise,
A group of Houris bow'd to see
The dying Islamite, with hands and eyes
That said, We wait for thee.

Or mythic Uther's deeply-wounded son
In some fair space of sloping greens
Lay, dozing in the vale of Avalon,

And watch'd by weeping queens.

Or hollowing one hand against his ear,
To list a footfall, ere he saw

The wood-nymph, stay'd the Ausonian king to hear Of wisdom and of law.

Or over hills with peaky tops engrail'd,

And many a tract of palm and rice, The throne of Indian Cama slowly sail'd A summer fann'd with spice.

Or sweet Europa's mantle blue unclasp'd,
From off her shoulder backward borne:
From one hand droop'd a crocus: one hand grasp'd
The mild bull's golden horn.

Or else flushed Ganymede, his rosy thigh
Half-buried in the Eagle's down,
Sole as a flying star shot thro' the sky
Above the pillar'd town.

Nor these alone: but every legend fair
Which the supreme Caucasian mind
Carved out of Nature for itself, was there,
Not less than life, design'd.

Then in the towers I placed great bells that swung,
Mov'd of themselves, with silver sound;

And with choice paintings of wise men I hung
The royal dais round.

For there was Milton like a seraph strong,
Beside him Shakspeare bland and mild;

And there the world-worn Dante grasp'd his song,

And somewhat grimly smiled.

And there the Ionian father of the rest;
A million wrinkles carved his skin;
A hundred winters snow'd upon his breast,
From cheek and throat and chin.

Above, the fair hall-ceiling stately-set
Many an arch high up did lift,
And angels rising and descending met
With interchange of gift.

Below was all mosaic choicely plann'd
With cycles of the human tale

Of this wide world, the times of every land
So wrought, they will not fail.

The people here, a beast of burden slow,
Toil'd onward, prick'd with goads and stings;
Here play'd, a tiger, rolling to and fro
The heads and crowns of kings;

Here rose, an athlete, strong to break or bind
All force in bonds that might endure,

And here once more like some sick man declined,
And trusted any cure.

But over these she trod: and those great bells
Began to chime. She took her throne:
She sat betwixt the shining Oriels,
To sing her songs alone.

And thro' the topmost Oriels' color'd flame
Two godlike faces gazed below;
I'lato the wise, and large-brow'd Verulam,
The first of those who know.

And all those names, that in their motion were Full-welling fountain-heads of change, Betwixt the slender shafts were blazon'd fair

In diverse raiment strange:

Thro' which the lights, rose, amber, emerald, blue, Flush'd in her temples and her eyes,

And from her lips, as morn from Memnon, drew Rivers of melodies.

No nightingale delighteth to prolong
Her low preamble all alone,

More than my soul to hear her echo'd song
Throb thro' the ribbed stone;

Singing and murmuring in her feastful mirth,
Joying to feel herself alive,

Lord over Nature, Lord of the visible earth,
Lord of the senses five;

Communing with herself: "All these are mine,
And let the world have peace or wars,
'Tis one to me." She - when young night divine
Crown'd dying day with stars,

Making sweet close of his delicious toils -
Lit light in wreaths and anadems,
And pure quintessences of precious oils
In hollow'd moons of gems,

To mimic heaven; and clapt her hands and cried, "I marvel if my still delight

In this great house so royal-rich, and wide,
Be flatter'd to the height.

"O all things fair to sate my various eyes!
O shapes and hues that please me well!
O silent faces of the Great and Wise,
My Gods, with whom I dwell!

"O God-like isolation which art mine, I can but count thee perfect gain, What time I watch the darkening droves of swine

That range on yonder plain.

"In filthy sloughs they roll a prurient skin,
They graze and wallow, breed and sleep;
And oft some brainless devil enters in,
And drives them to the deep."

Then of the moral instinct would she prate,
And of the rising from the dead,
As hers by right of full-accomplish'd Fate;
And at the last she said:

"I take possession of man's mind and deed.
I care not what the sects may brawl.
I sit as God holding no form of creed,
But contemplating all."

Full oft the riddle of the painful earth
Flash'd thro' her as she sat alone,

Yet not the less held she her solemn mirth,
And intellectual throne.

And so she throve and prosper'd: so three years
She prosper'd: on the fourth she fell,
Like Herod, when the shout was in his ears,
Struck thro' with pangs of hell.

Lest she should fail and perish utterly,
God, before whom ever lie bare
The abysmal deeps of Personality,
Plagued her with sore despair.

When she would think, where'er she turn'd her sight
The airy hand confusion wrought,

Wrote "Mene, mene," and divided quite
The kingdom of her thought.

Deep dread and loathing of her solitude
Fell on her, from which mood was born
Scorn of herself; again, from out that mood
Laughter at her self-scorn.

« PreviousContinue »