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Seem but the theme of writers, and, indeed,
Worn threadbare. Man is made of solid stuff.
I say, God made the woman for the man,
And for the good and increase of the world.”
"Parson,” said I, "you pitch the pipe too low;
But I have sudden touches, and can run
My faith beyond my practice into his;
Though if, in dancing after Letty Hill,
I do not hear the bells upon my cap,
I scarce hear other music; yet say on.
What should one give to light on such a dream?” I asked him half-sardonically.
Give all thou art," he answered, and a light
Of laughter dimpled in his swarthy cheek;
"I would have hid her needle in my heart,
To save her little finger from a scratch
No deeper than the skin; my ears could hear
Her lightest breaths; her least remark was worth
The experience of the wise. I went and came;
Her voice fled always through the summer land;
I spoke her name alone. Thrice-happy days!
The flower of each, those moments when we met,
The crown of all, we met to part no more.”
Were not his words delicious, I a beast
To take them as I did? but something jarred;
Whether he spoke too largely; that there seemed
A touch of something false, some self-conceit,
Or over-smoothness; howsoe'er it was,
He scarcely hit my humor, and I said :—
"Friend Edwin, do not think yourself alone
Of all men happy. Shall not Love to me,
As in the Latin song I learnt at school,
Sneeze out a full God-bless-you right and left?
But you can talk; yours is a kindly vein;
I have, I think,-Heaven knows,—as much within;
Have, or should have, but for a thought or two,
That, like a purple beech among the greens,
Looks out of place; 'tis from no want in her:
It is my shyness, or my self-distrust,
Or something of a wayward modern mind
Dissecting passion. Time will set me right.”
So spoke I, knowing not the things that were. Then said the fat-faced curate, Edward Bull: "God made the woman for the use of man, And for the good and increase of the world." And I and Edwin laughed; and now we paused About the windings of the marge to hear The soft wind blowing over meadowy holms And alders, garden-isles; and now we left The clerk behind us, I and he, and ran By ripply shallows of the lisping lake, Delighted with the freshness and the sound.
But, when the bracken rusted on their crags, My suit had withered, nipt to death by him That was a God, and is a lawyer's clerk, The rent-roll Cupid of our rainy isles. 'Tis true we met; one hour I had, no more, She sent a note, the seal an Elle vous suit, The close "Your Letty, only yours;" and this Thrice underscored. The friendly mist of morn Clung to the lake. I boated over, ran My craft aground, and heard with beating heart The Sweet-Gale rustle round the shelving keel; And out I stept, and up I crept; she moved, Like Proserpine in Enna, gathering flowers; Then low and sweet I whistled thrice; and she, She turned, we closed, we kissed, swore faith, I breathed
In some new planet; a silent cousin stole
Upon us and departed. "Leave," she cried, "O leave me!"
Never, dearest, never; here
I brave the worst;" and while we stood like fools Embracing, all at once a score of pugs
And poodles yelled within, and out they came,
Trustees and aunts and uncles. "What, with him!"
"Go" (shrilled the cotton-spinning chorus), “ him!
I choked. Again they shrieked the burthen
Again with hands of wild rejection, “ Go! —
Girl, get you in!" She went, and in one month
They wedded her to sixty thousand pounds,
To lands in Kent and messuages in York,
And slight Sir Robert with his watery smile
And educated whisker. But for me,
They set an ancient creditor to work:
It seems I broke a close with force and arms;
There came a mystic token from the king
To greet the sheriff, needless courtesy !
I read, and fled by night, and flying turned;
Her taper glimmered in the lake below;
I turned once more, close-buttoned to the storm
So left the place, left Edwin, nor have seen
Him since, nor heard of her, nor cared to hear.
Nor cared to hear? perhaps; yet long ago
I have pardoned little Letty; not indeed,
It may be, for her own dear sake, but this,
She seems a part of those fresh days to me;
For, in the dust and drouth of London life,
She moves among my visions of the lake,
While the prime swallow dips his wing, or then
While the gold-lily blows, and overhead
The light cloud smoulders on the summer crag.
AFTER READING A LIFE AND LETTERS.
"Cursed be he that moves my bones."
You might have won the Poet's name,
If such be worth the winning now,
And gained a laurel for your brow
Of sounder leaf than I can claim;
But you have made the wiser choice,
A life that moves to gracious ends
Through troops of unrecording friends,
A deedful life, a silent voice;
you have missed the irreverent doom Of those that wear the Poet's crown; Hereafter neither knave nor clown Shall hold their orgies at your tomb.
For now the Poet cannot die,
Nor leave his music as of old,
But round him, ere he scarce be cold,
Begins the scandal and the cry :
"Proclaim the faults he would not show;
Break lock and seal; betray the trust;
Keep nothing sacred; 'tis but just
The many-headed beast should know.”
Ah, shameless! for he did but sing
A song that pleased us from its worth;
No public life was his on earth,
No blazoned statesman he, nor king.
164 TO E. L., ON HIS TRAVELS IN GREECE.
He gave the people of his best ;
His worst he kept, his best he gave.
My Shakspeare's curse on clown and knave Who will not let his ashes rest!
Who make it seem more sweet to be
The little life of bank and brier,
The bird that pipes his lone desire
And dies unheard within his tree,
Than he that warbles long and loud
And drops at Glory's temple-gates,
For whom the carrion vulture waits
To tear his heart before the crowd!
TO E. L., ON HIS TRAVELS IN GREECE.
ILLYRIAN woodlands, echoing falls
Of water, sheets of summer glass,
The long divine Peneïan pass,
The vast Akrokeraunian walls,
Tomohrit, Athos, all things fair,
With such a pencil, such a pen,
You shadow forth to distant men,
I read and felt that I was there :
And trust me while I turned the page,
And tracked you still on classic ground,
I grew in gladness till I found
My spirits in the golden age.
For me the torrent ever poured
And glistened,-here and there alone
The broad-limbed Gods at random thrown
By fountain-urns;—and Naiads oared