Page images

"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-accomplished Fate;

And at the last she said :

s 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.”


[ocr errors]

Full oft the riddle of the painful earth

Flashed through her as she sat alone, Yet not the less held she her solemn mirth,

And intellectual throne.

And so she throve and prospered: so three years

She prospered: on the fourth she fell, Like Herod, when the shout was in his ears,

Struck through 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 turned 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 herselt, again, from out that mood

Laughter at her self-scorn.

* What! is not this my place of strength,” she said,

“My spacious mansion built for me, Whereof the strong foundation-stones were laid

Since my first memory ?”

But in dark corners of her palace stood

Uncertain shapes; and unawares On white-eyed phantasms weeping tears of blood,

And horrible nightmares,

And hollow shades enclosing hearts of flame,

And, with dim fretted foreheads all,
On corpses three-months-old at noon she came,

That stood against the wall.

A spot of dull stagnation, without light

Or power of movement, seemed my soul, 'Mid onward-sloping motions infinite

Making for one sure goal.

A still salt pool, locked in with bars of sand;

Left on the shore; that hears all night The plunging seas draw backward from the land

Their moon-led waters white.

A star that with the choral starry dance

Joined not, but stood, and standing saw The hollow orb of moving Circumstance

Rolled round by one fixed law.

Jack on herself her serpent pride had curled.

“No voice,” she shrieked in that lone hall, No voice breaks through the stillness of this world,

One deep, deep silence all ! ”

She, mouldering with the dull earth's mouldering

sod, Inwrapt tenfold in slothful shame, Lay there exiled from eternal God,

Lost to her place and name;

And death and life she hated equally,

And nothing saw, for her despair, But dreadful time, dreadful eternity,

No comfort anywhere;

Remaining utterly confused with fears,

And ever worse with growing time, And ever unrelieved by dismal tears,

And all alone in crime :

Shut up as in a crumbling tomb, girt round

With blackness as a solid wall,
Far off she seemed to hear the dully sound

Of human footsteps fall.

As in strange lands a traveller walking slow,

In doubt and great perplexity,
A little before moon-rise hears the low

Moan of an unknown sea;

And knows not if it be thunder or a sound

Of rocks thrown down, or one deep cry Of great wild beasts; then thinketh, “I have found

A new land, but I die.”

She howled aloud, “ I am on fire within.

There comes no murmur of reply. What is it that will take away my sin,

And save me lest I die ?

So when four years were wholly finished,

She threw her royal robes away. “Make me a cottage in the vale,” she said.

“ Where I may mourn and pray.

* Yet pull not down my palace towers, that are

So lightly, beautifully built :
Perchance I may return with others there

When I have purged my guilt.”


LADY Clara Vere de Vere,

Of me you shall not win renown;
You thought to break a country heart

For pastime, ere you went to town.
At me you smiled, but unbeguiled

I saw the snare, and I retired :
The daughter of a hundred Earls,

You are not one to be desired.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

I know you proud to bear your name;
Your pride is yet no mate for mine,

Too proud to care from whence I came.
Nor would I break for your sweet sake

A heart that dotes on truer charms.
A simple maiden in her flower

Is worth a hundred coats-of-arms.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

Some meeker pupil you must find,
For were you queen of all that is,

I could not stoop to such a mind.
You sought to prove how I could love,

And my disdain is my reply.
The lion on your old stone gates

Is not more cold to you than I.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

You put strange memories in my head.

Not thrice your branching limes have blown

Since I beheld young Laurence dead. O your sweet eyes, your low replies :

A great enchantress you may be; But there was that across his throat

Which you had hardly cared to see.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

When thus he met his mother's view, She had the passions of her kind,

She spake some certain truths of you. Indeed, I heard one bitter word

That scarce is fit for you to hear; Her manners had not that repose

Which stamps the caste of Vere de Vere.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

There stands a spectre in your hall: The guilt of blood is at your door:

You changed a wholesome heart to gall. You held your course without remorse,

To make him trust his modest worth, And, last, you fixed a vacant stare,

And slew him with your noble birth.

Trust me, Clara Vere de Vere,

From yon blue heavens above us bent The grand old gardener and his wife

Smile at the claims of long descent. Howe'er it be, it seems to me,

'Tis only noble to be good. Kind hearts are more than coronets,

And simple faith than Norman blood.

I know you, Clara Vere de Vere:

You pine among your halls and towers, The languid light of your proud eyes

Is wearied of the rolling hours.
In glowing health, with boundless wealth,

« PreviousContinue »