But ah! an inextinguishable sense Haunts him that he has not made what he should; That he has still, though old, to recommence, Since he has not yet found the word God would.
And empire after empire, at their height Of sway, have felt this boding sense come on; Have felt their huge frames not constructed right, And droop'd, and slowly died upon their throne.
One day, thou say'st, there will at last appear The word, the order, which God meant should be. —Ah! we shall know that well when it comes near; The band will quit man's heart, he will breathe free.
Weary of myself, and sick of asking What I am, and what I ought to be, At this vessel's prow I stand, which bears me Forwards, forwards, o'er the starlit sea.
And a look of passionate desire O'er the sea and to the stars I send: "Ye who from my childhood up have calm'd me, Calm me, ah, compose me to the end!
"Ah, once more," I cried, "ye stars, ye waters, On my heart your mighty charm renew; Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you, Feel my soul becoming vast like you!"
From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven, Over the lit sea's unquiet way, In the rustling night-air came the answer: "Wouldst thou be as these are? Live as they.
"Unaffrighted by the silence round them, Undistracted by the sights they see, These demand not that the things without them Yield them love, amusement, sympathy.
"And with joy the stars perform their shining, And the sea its long moon-silver'd roll; For self-poised they live, nor pine with noting All the fever of some differing soul.
"Bounded by themselves, and unregardful In what state God's other works may be, In their own tasks all their powers pouring, These attain the mighty life you see."
O air-born voice! long since, severely clear, A cry like thine in mine own heart I hear: "Resolve to be thyself; and know that he, Who finds himself, loses his misery!"
We cannot kindle when we will The fire which in the heart resides; The spirit bloweth and is still, In mystery our soul abides. But tasks in hours of insight will'd Can be through hours of gloom fulfill'd.
With aching hands and bleeding feet We dig and heap, lay stone on stone; We bear the burden and the heat Of the long day, and wish 'twere done. Not till the hours of light return, All we have built do we discern.
Then, when the clouds are off the soul, When thou dost bask in Nature's eye, Ask, how she view'd thy self-control, Thy struggling, task'd morality— Nature, whose free, light, cheerful air, Oft made thee, in thy gloom, despair.
And she, whose censure thou dost dread, Whose eye thou wast afraid to seek, See, on her face a glow is spread, A strong emotion on her cheek! "Ah, child!" she cries, "that strife divine, Whence was it, for it is not mine?
"There is no effort on my brow— I do not strive, I do not weep; I rush with the swift spheres and glow In joy, and when I will, I sleep. Yet that severe, that earnest air, I saw, I felt it once—but where?
"I knew not yet the gauge of time, Nor wore the manacles of space; I felt it in some other clime, I saw it in some other place. 'Twas when the heavenly house I trod, And lay upon the breast of God."
A SUMMER NIGHT
In the deserted, moon-blanch'd street, How lonely rings the echo of my feet! Those windows, which I gaze at, frown, Silent and white, unopening down, Repellent as the world;—but see, A break between the housetops shows The moon! and, lost behind her, fading dim Into the dewy dark obscurity Down at the far horizon's rim, Doth a whole tract of heaven disclose!
And to my mind the thought Is on a sudden brought Of a past night, and a far different scene. Headlands stood out into the moonlit deep As clearly as at noon; The spring-tide's brimming flow Heaved dazzlingly between; Houses, with long white sweep, Girdled the glistening bay; Behind, through the soft air, The blue haze-cradled mountains spread away, The night was far more fair— But the same restless pacings to and fro, And the same vainly throbbing heart was there, And the same bright, calm moon.
And the calm moonlight seems to say: Hast thou then still the old unquiet breast, Which neither deadens into rest, Nor ever feels the fiery glow That whirls the spirit from itself away, But fluctuates to and fro, Never by passion quite possess'd And never quite benumb'd by the world's sway?— And I, I know not if to pray Still to be what I am, or yield and be Like all the other men I see.
For most men in a brazen prison live, Where, in the sun's hot eye, With heads bent o'er their toil, they languidly Their lives to some unmeaning taskwork give, Dreaming of nought beyond their prison-wall. And as, year after year, Fresh products of their barren labour fall From their tired hands, and rest Never yet comes more near, Gloom settles slowly down over their breast; And while they try to stem The waves of mournful thought by which they are prest, Death in their prison reaches them, Unfreed, having seen nothing, still unblest.
And the rest, a few, Escape their prison and depart On the wide ocean of life anew. There the freed prisoner, where'er his heart Listeth, will sail; Nor doth he know how there prevail, Despotic on that sea, Trade-winds which cross it from eternity. Awhile he holds some false way, undebarr'd By thwarting signs, and braves The freshening wind and blackening waves. And then the tempest strikes him; and between The lightning-bursts is seen Only a driving wreck, And the pale master on his spar-strewn deck With anguish'd face and flying hair Grasping the rudder hard, Still bent to make some port he knows not where, Still standing for some false, impossible shore. And sterner comes the roar Of sea and wind, and through the deepening gloom Fainter and fainter wreck and helmsman loom, And he too disappears, and comes no more.
Is there no life, but these alone? Madman or slave, must man be one?
Plainness and clearness without shadow of stain! Clearness divine! Ye heavens, whose pure dark regions have no sign Of languor, though so calm, and, though so great, Are yet untroubled and unpassionate; Who, though so noble, share in the world's toil, And, though so task'd, keep free from dust and soil! I will not say that your mild deeps retain A tinge, it may be, of their silent pain Who have long'd deeply once, and long'd in vain— But I will rather say that you remain A world above man's head, to let him see How boundless might his soul's horizons be, How vast, yet of what clear transparency! How it were good to abide there, and breathe free; How fair a lot to fill Is left to each man still!
THE BURIED LIFE
Light flows our war of mocking words, and yet, Behold, with tears mine eyes are wet! I feel a nameless sadness o'er me roll. Yes, yes, we know that we can jest, We know, we know that we can smile! But there's a something in this breast, To which thy light words bring no rest, And thy gay smiles no anodyne. Give me thy hand, and hush awhile, And turn those limpid eyes on mine, And let me read there, love! thy inmost soul.
Alas! is even love too weak To unlock the heart, and let it speak? Are even lovers powerless to reveal To one another what indeed they feel? I knew the mass of men conceal'd Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd They would by other men be met With blank indifference, or with blame reproved; I knew they lived and moved Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest Of men, and alien to themselves—and yet The same heart beats in every human breast!
But we, my love!—doth a like spell benumb Our hearts, our voices?—must we too be dumb?
Ah! well for us, if even we, Even for a moment, can get free Our heart, and have our lips unchain'd; For that which seals them hath been deep-ordain'd!
Fate, which foresaw How frivolous a baby man would be—— By what distractions he would be possess'd, How he would pour himself in every strife, And well-nigh change his own identity—— That it might keep from his capricious play His genuine self, and force him to obey Even in his own despite his being's law, Bade through the deep recesses of our breast The unregarded river of our life Pursue with indiscernible flow its way; And that we should not see The buried stream, and seem to be Eddying at large in blind uncertainty, Though driving on with it eternally.
But often, in the world's most crowded streets, But often, in the din of strife, There rises an unspeakable desire After the knowledge of our buried life; A thirst to spend our fire and restless force In tracking out our true, original course; A longing to inquire Into the mystery of this heart which beats So wild, so deep in us—to know Whence our lives come and where they go. And many a man in his own breast then delves, But deep enough, alas! none ever mines. And we have been on many thousand lines, And we have shown, on each, spirit and power; But hardly have we, for one little hour, Been on our own line, have we been ourselves— Hardly had skill to utter one of all The nameless feelings that course through our breast, But they course on for ever unexpress'd. And long we try in vain to speak and act Our hidden self, and what we say and do Is eloquent, is well—but 'tis not true! And then we will no more be rack'd With inward striving, and demand Of all the thousand nothings of the hour Their stupefying power; Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call! Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn, From the soul's subterranean depth upborne As from an infinitely distant land, Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey A melancholy into all our day.
Only—but this is rare— When a beloved hand is laid in ours, When, jaded with the rush and glare Of the interminable hours, Our eyes can in another's eyes read clear, When our world-deafen'd ear Is by the tones of a loved voice caress'd— A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast, And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again. The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain, And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know. A man becomes aware of his life's flow, And hears its winding murmur; and he sees The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.
And there arrives a lull in the hot race Wherein he doth for ever chase That flying and elusive shadow, rest. An air of coolness plays upon his face, And an unwonted calm pervades his breast. And then he thinks he knows The hills where his life rose, And the sea where it goes.
WRITTEN IN KENSINGTON GARDENS
In this lone, open glade I lie, Screen'd by deep boughs on either hand; And at its end, to stay the eye, Those black-crown'd, red-boled pine-trees stand!
Birds here make song, each bird has his, Across the girdling city's hum. How green under the boughs it is! How thick the tremulous sheep-cries come!
Sometimes a child will cross the glade To take his nurse his broken toy; Sometimes a thrush flit overhead Deep in her unknown day's employ.
Here at my feet what wonders pass, What endless, active life is here! What blowing daisies, fragrant grass! An air-stirr'd forest, fresh and clear.
Scarce fresher is the mountain-sod Where the tired angler lies, stretch'd out, And, eased of basket and of rod, Counts his day's spoil, the spotted trout.
In the huge world, which roars hard by, Be others happy if they can! But in my helpless cradle I Was breathed on by the rural Pan.
I, on men's impious uproar hurl'd, Think often, as I hear them rave, That peace has left the upper world And now keeps only in the grave.
Yet here is peace for ever new! When I who watch them am away, Still all things in this glade go through The changes of their quiet day.
Then to their happy rest they pass! The flowers upclose, the birds are fed, The night comes down upon the grass, The child sleeps warmly in his bed.
Calm soul of all things! make it mine To feel, amid the city's jar, That there abides a peace of thine, Man did not make, and cannot mar.
The will to neither strive nor cry, The power to feel with others give! Calm, calm me more! nor let me die Before I have begun to live.
I ask not that my bed of death From bands of greedy heirs be free; For these besiege the latest breath Of fortune's favour'd sons, not me.
I ask not each kind soul to keep Tearless, when of my death he hears. Let those who will, if any, weep! There are worse plagues on earth than tears.
I ask but that my death may find The freedom to my life denied; Ask but the folly of mankind Then, then at last, to quit my side.
Spare me the whispering, crowded room, The friends who come, and gape, and go; The ceremonious air of gloom— All, which makes death a hideous show!
Nor bring, to see me cease to live, Some doctor full of phrase and fame, To shake his sapient head, and give The ill he cannot cure a name.
Nor fetch, to take the accustom'd toll Of the poor sinner bound for death, His brother-doctor of the soul, To canvass with official breath
The future and its viewless things— That undiscover'd mystery Which one who feels death's winnowing wings Must needs read clearer, sure, than he!
Bring none of these; but let me be, While all around in silence lies, Moved to the window near, and see Once more, before my dying eyes,
Bathed in the sacred dews of morn The wide aerial landscape spread— The world which was ere I was born, The world which lasts when I am dead;
Which never was the friend of one, Nor promised love it could not give, But lit for all its generous sun, And lived itself, and made us live.
There let me gaze, till I become In soul, with what I gaze on, wed! To feel the universe my home; To have before my mind—instead
Of the sick room, the mortal strife, The turmoil for a little breath— The pure eternal course of life, Not human combatings with death!
Thus feeling, gazing, might I grow Composed, refresh'd, ennobled, clear; Then willing let my spirit go To work or wait elsewhere or here!
A wanderer is man from his birth. He was born in a ship On the breast of the river of Time; Brimming with wonder and joy He spreads out his arms to the light, Rivets his gaze on the banks of the stream.
As what he sees is, so have his thoughts been. Whether he wakes, Where the snowy mountainous pass, Echoing the screams of the eagles, Hems in its gorges the bed Of the new-born clear-flowing stream; Whether he first sees light Where the river in gleaming rings Sluggishly winds through the plain; Whether in sound of the swallowing sea— As is the world on the banks, So is the mind of the man.
Vainly does each, as he glides, Fable and dream Of the lands which the river of Time Had left ere he woke on its breast, Or shall reach when his eyes have been closed. Only the tract where he sails He wots of; only the thoughts, Raised by the objects he passes, are his.
Who can see the green earth any more As she was by the sources of Time? Who imagines her fields as they lay In the sunshine, unworn by the plough? Who thinks as they thought, The tribes who then roam'd on her breast, Her vigorous, primitive sons?
What girl Now reads in her bosom as clear As Rebekah read, when she sate At eve by the palm-shaded well? Who guards in her breast As deep, as pellucid a spring Of feeling, as tranquil, as sure?
What bard, At the height of his vision, can deem Of God, of the world, of the soul, With a plainness as near, As flashing as Moses felt When he lay in the night by his flock On the starlit Arabian waste? Can rise and obey The beck of the Spirit like him?
This tract which the river of Time Now flows through with us, is the plain. Gone is the calm of its earlier shore. Border'd by cities and hoarse With a thousand cries is its stream. And we on its breast, our minds Are confused as the cries which we hear, Changing and shot as the sights which we see.
And we say that repose has fled For ever the course of the river of Time. That cities will crowd to its edge In a blacker, incessanter line; That the din will be more on its banks, Denser the trade on its stream, Flatter the plain where it flows, Fiercer the sun overhead. That never will those on its breast See an ennobling sight, Drink of the feeling of quiet again.
But what was before us we know not, And we know not what shall succeed.
Haply, the river of Time— As it grows, as the towns on its marge Fling their wavering lights On a wider, statelier stream— May acquire, if not the calm Of its early mountainous shore, Yet a solemn peace of its own.
And the width of the waters, the hush Of the grey expanse where he floats, Freshening its current and spotted with foam As it draws to the Ocean, may strike Peace to the soul of the man on its breast— As the pale waste widens around him, As the banks fade dimmer away, As the stars come out, and the night-wind Brings up the stream Murmurs and scents of the infinite sea.
Go, for they call you, shepherd, from the hill; Go, shepherd, and untie the wattled cotes! No longer leave thy wistful flock unfed, Nor let thy bawling fellows rack their throats, Nor the cropp'd herbage shoot another head. But when the fields are still, And the tired men and dogs all gone to rest, And only the white sheep are sometimes seen Cross and recross the strips of moon-blanch'd green, Come, shepherd, and again begin the quest!
Here, where the reaper was at work of late— In this high field's dark corner, where he leaves His coat, his basket, and his earthen cruse, And in the sun all morning binds the sheaves, Then here, at noon, comes back his stores to use— Here will I sit and wait, While to my ear from uplands far away The bleating of the folded flocks is borne, With distant cries of reapers in the corn— All the live murmur of a summer's day.
Screen'd is this nook o'er the high, half-reap'd field, And here till sun-down, shepherd! will I be. Through the thick corn the scarlet poppies peep, And round green roots and yellowing stalks I see Pale pink convolvulus in tendrils creep; And air-swept lindens yield Their scent, and rustle down their perfumed showers Of bloom on the bent grass where I am laid, And bower me from the August sun with shade; And the eye travels down to Oxford's towers.
And near me on the grass lies Glanvil's book— Come, let me read the oft-read tale again! The story of the Oxford scholar poor, Of pregnant parts and quick inventive brain, Who, tired of knocking at preferment's door, One summer-morn forsook His friends, and went to learn the gipsy-lore, And roam'd the world with that wild brotherhood, And came, as most men deem'd, to little good, But came to Oxford and his friends no more.
But once, years after, in the country-lanes, Two scholars, whom at college erst he knew, Met him, and of his way of life enquired; Whereat he answer'd, that the gipsy-crew, His mates, had arts to rule as they desired The workings of men's brains, And they can bind them to what thoughts they will. "And I," he said, "the secret of their art, When fully learn'd, will to the world impart; But it needs heaven-sent moments for this skill."
This said, he left them, and return'd no more.— But rumours hung about the country-side, That the lost Scholar long was seen to stray, Seen by rare glimpses, pensive and tongue-tied, In hat of antique shape, and cloak of grey, The same the gipsies wore. Shepherds had met him on the Hurst in spring; At some lone alehouse in the Berkshire moors, On the warm ingle-bench, the smock-frock'd boors Had found him seated at their entering,
But, 'mid their drink and clatter, he would fly. And I myself seem half to know thy looks, And put the shepherds, wanderer! on thy trace; And boys who in lone wheatfields scare the rooks I ask if thou hast pass'd their quiet place; Or in my boat I lie Moor'd to the cool bank in the summer-heats, 'Mid wide grass meadows which the sunshine fills, And watch the warm, green-muffled Cumner hills, And wonder if thou haunt'st their shy retreats.
For most, I know, thou lov'st retired ground! Thee at the ferry Oxford riders blithe, Returning home on summer-nights, have met Crossing the stripling Thames at Bab-lock-hithe, Trailing in the cool stream thy fingers wet, As the punt's rope chops round; And leaning backward in a pensive dream, And fostering in thy lap a heap of flowers Pluck'd in shy fields and distant Wychwood bowers, And thine eyes resting on the moonlit stream.
And then they land, and thou art seen no more!— Maidens, who from the distant hamlets come To dance around the Fyfield elm in May, Oft through the darkening fields have seen thee roam, Or cross a stile into the public way. Oft thou hast given them store Of flowers—the frail-leaf'd, white anemony, Dark bluebells drench'd with dews of summer eves, And purple orchises with spotted leaves— But none hath words she can report of thee.
And, above Godstow Bridge, when hay-time's here In June, and many a scythe in sunshine flames, Men who through those wide fields of breezy grass Where black-wing'd swallows haunt the glittering Thames, To bathe in the abandon'd lasher pass, Have often pass'd thee near Sitting upon the river bank o'ergrown; Mark'd thine outlandish garb, thy figure spare, Thy dark vague eyes, and soft abstracted air— But, when they came from bathing, thou wast gone!
At some lone homestead in the Cumner hills, Where at her open door the housewife darns, Thou hast been seen, or hanging on a gate To watch the threshers in the mossy barns. Children, who early range these slopes and late For cresses from the rills, Have known thee eying, all an April-day, The springing pastures and the feeding kine; And mark'd thee, when the stars come out and shine, Through the long dewy grass move slow away.
In autumn, on the skirts of Bagley Wood— Where most the gipsies by the turf-edged way Pitch their smoked tents, and every bush you see With scarlet patches tagg'd and shreds of grey, Above the forest-ground called Thessaly— The blackbird, picking food, Sees thee, nor stops his meal, nor fears at all; So often has he known thee past him stray, Rapt, twirling in thy hand a wither'd spray, And waiting for the spark from heaven to fall.
And once, in winter, on the causeway chill Where home through flooded fields foot-travellers go, Have I not pass'd thee on the wooden bridge, Wrapt in thy cloak and battling with the snow, Thy face tow'rd Hinksey and its wintry ridge? And thou hast climb'd the hill, And gain'd the white brow of the Cumner range; Turn'd once to watch, while thick the snowflakes fall, The line of festal light in Christ-Church hall— Then sought thy straw in some sequester'd grange.
But what—I dream! Two hundred years are flown Since first thy story ran through Oxford halls, And the grave Glanvil did the tale inscribe That thou wert wander'd from the studious walls To learn strange arts, and join a gipsy-tribe; And thou from earth art gone Long since, and in some quiet churchyard laid— Some country-nook, where o'er thy unknown grave Tall grasses and white flowering nettles wave, Under a dark, red-fruited yew-tree's shade.
—No, no, thou hast not felt the lapse of hours! For what wears out the life of mortal men? 'Tis that from change to change their being rolls; 'Tis that repeated shocks, again, again, Exhaust the energy of strongest souls And numb the elastic powers. Till having used our nerves with bliss and teen, And tired upon a thousand schemes our wit, To the just-pausing Genius we remit Our worn-out life, and are—what we have been.
Thou hast not lived, why should'st thou perish, so? Thou hadst one aim, one business, one desire; Else wert thou long since number'd with the dead! Else hadst thou spent, like other men, thy fire! The generations of thy peers are fled, And we ourselves shall go; But thou possessest an immortal lot, And we imagine thee exempt from age And living as thou liv'st on Glanvil's page, Because thou hadst—what we, alas! have not.
For early didst thou leave the world, with powers Fresh, undiverted to the world without, Firm to their mark, not spent on other things; Free from the sick fatigue, the languid doubt, Which much to have tried, in much been baffled, brings. O life unlike to ours! Who fluctuate idly without term or scope, Of whom each strives, nor knows for what he strives, And each half lives a hundred different lives; Who wait like thee, but not, like thee, in hope.
Thou waitest for the spark from heaven! and we, Light half-believers of our casual creeds, Who never deeply felt, nor clearly will'd, Whose insight never has borne fruit in deeds, Whose vague resolves never have been fulfill'd; For whom each year we see Breeds new beginnings, disappointments new; Who hesitate and falter life away, And lose to-morrow the ground won to-day— Ah! do not we, wanderer! await it too?
Yes, we await it!—but it still delays, And then we suffer! and amongst us one, Who most has suffer'd, takes dejectedly His seat upon the intellectual throne; And all his store of sad experience he Lays bare of wretched days; Tells us his misery's birth and growth and signs, And how the dying spark of hope was fed, And how the breast was soothed, and how the head, And all his hourly varied anodynes.
This for our wisest! and we others pine, And wish the long unhappy dream would end, And waive all claim to bliss, and try to bear; With close-lipp'd patience for our only friend, Sad patience, too near neighbour to despair— But none has hope like thine! Thou through the fields and through the woods dost stray, Roaming the country-side, a truant boy, Nursing thy project in unclouded joy, And every doubt long blown by time away.
O born in days when wits were fresh and clear, And life ran gaily as the sparkling Thames; Before this strange disease of modern life, With its sick hurry, its divided aims, Its heads o'ertax'd, its palsied hearts, was rife— Fly hence, our contact fear! Still fly, plunge deeper in the bowering wood! Averse, as Dido did with gesture stern From her false friend's approach in Hades turn, Wave us away, and keep thy solitude!
Still nursing the unconquerable hope, Still clutching the inviolable shade, With a free, onward impulse brushing through, By night, the silver'd branches of the glade— Far on the forest-skirts, where none pursue, On some mild pastoral slope Emerge, and resting on the moonlit pales Freshen thy flowers as in former years With dew, or listen with enchanted ears, From the dark dingles, to the nightingales!
But fly our paths, our feverish contact fly! For strong the infection of our mental strife, Which, though it gives no bliss, yet spoils for rest; And we should win thee from thy own fair life, Like us distracted, and like us unblest. Soon, soon thy cheer would die, Thy hopes grow timorous, and unfix'd thy powers, And thy clear aims be cross and shifting made; And then thy glad perennial youth would fade, Fade, and grow old at last, and die like ours.
Then fly our greetings, fly our speech and smiles! —As some grave Tyrian trader, from the sea, Descried at sunrise an emerging prow Lifting the cool-hair'd creepers stealthily, The fringes of a southward-facing brow Among the AEgaean isles; And saw the merry Grecian coaster come, Freighted with amber grapes, and Chian wine, Green, bursting figs, and tunnies steep'd in brine— And knew the intruders on his ancient home,
The young light-hearted masters of the waves— And snatch'd his rudder, and shook out more sail; And day and night held on indignantly O'er the blue Midland waters with the gale, Betwixt the Syrtes and soft Sicily, To where the Atlantic raves Outside the western straits; and unbent sails There, where down cloudy cliffs, through sheets of foam, Shy traffickers, the dark Iberians come; And on the beach undid his corded bales.
A MONODY, to commemorate the author's friend, ARTHUR HUGH CLOUGH, who died at Florence, 1861.
How changed is here each spot man makes or fills! In the two Hinkseys nothing keeps the same; The village street its haunted mansion lacks, And from the sign is gone Sibylla's name, And from the roofs the twisted chimney-stacks— Are ye too changed, ye hills? See, 'tis no foot of unfamiliar men To-night from Oxford up your pathway strays! Here came I often, often, in old days—— Thyrsis and I; we still had Thyrsis then.
Runs it not here, the track by Childsworth Farm, Past the high wood, to where the elm-tree crowns The hill behind whose ridge the sunset flames? The signal-elm, that looks on Ilsley Downs, The Vale, the three lone weirs, the youthful Thames?— This winter-eve is warm, Humid the air! leafless, yet soft as spring, The tender purple spray on copse and briers! And that sweet city with her dreaming spires, She needs not June for beauty's heightening,
Lovely all times she lies, lovely to-night!— Only, methinks, some loss of habit's power Befalls me wandering through this upland dim. Once pass'd I blindfold here, at any hour; Now seldom come I, since I came with him. That single elm-tree bright Against the west—I miss it! is it gone? We prized it dearly; while it stood, we said, Our friend, the Gipsy-Scholar, was not dead; While the tree lived, he in these fields lived on.
Too rare, too rare, grow now my visits here, But once I knew each field, each flower, each stick; And with the country-folk acquaintance made By barn in threshing-time, by new-built rick. Here, too, our shepherd-pipes we first assay'd. Ah me! this many a year My pipe is lost, my shepherd's holiday! Needs must I lose them, needs with heavy heart Into the world and wave of men depart; But Thyrsis of his own will went away.
It irk'd him to be here, he could not rest. He loved each simple joy the country yields, He loved his mates; but yet he could not keep, For that a shadow lour'd on the fields, Here with the shepherds and the silly sheep. Some life of men unblest He knew, which made him droop, and fill'd his head. He went; his piping took a troubled sound Of storms that rage outside our happy ground; He could not wait their passing, he is dead.
So, some tempestuous morn in early June, When the year's primal burst of bloom is o'er, Before the roses and the longest day— When garden-walks and all the grassy floor With blossoms red and white of fallen May And chestnut-flowers are strewn— So have I heard the cuckoo's parting cry, From the wet field, through the vext garden-trees, Come with the volleying rain and tossing breeze: The bloom is gone, and with the bloom go I!
Too quick despairer, wherefore wilt thou go? Soon will the high Midsummer pomps come on, Soon will the musk carnations break and swell, Soon shall we have gold-dusted snapdragon, Sweet-William with his homely cottage-smell, And stocks in fragrant blow; Roses that down the alleys shine afar, And open, jasmine-muffled lattices, And groups under the dreaming garden-trees, And the full moon, and the white evening-star.
He hearkens not! light comer, he is flown! What matters it? next year he will return, And we shall have him in the sweet spring-days, With whitening hedges, and uncrumpling fern, And blue-bells trembling by the forest-ways, And scent of hay new-mown. But Thyrsis never more we swains shall see; See him come back, and cut a smoother reed, And blow a strain the world at last shall heed— For Time, not Corydon, hath conquer'd thee!
Alack, for Corydon no rival now!— But when Sicilian shepherds lost a mate, Some good survivor with his flute would go, Piping a ditty sad for Bion's fate; And cross the unpermitted ferry's flow, And relax Pluto's brow, And make leap up with joy the beauteous head Of Proserpine, among whose crowned hair Are flowers first open'd on Sicilian air, And flute his friend, like Orpheus, from the dead.
O easy access to the hearer's grace When Dorian shepherds sang to Proserpine! For she herself had trod Sicilian fields, She knew the Dorian water's gush divine, She knew each lily white which Enna yields, Each rose with blushing face; She loved the Dorian pipe, the Dorian strain. But ah, of our poor Thames she never heard! Her foot the Cumner cowslips never stirr'd; And we should tease her with our plaint in vain!
Well! wind-dispersed and vain the words will be, Yet, Thyrsis, let me give my grief its hour In the old haunt, and find our tree-topp'd hill! Who, if not I, for questing here hath power? I know the wood which hides the daffodil, I know the Fyfield tree, I know what white, what purple fritillaries The grassy harvest of the river-fields, Above by Ensham, down by Sandford, yields, And what sedged brooks are Thames's tributaries;
I know these slopes; who knows them if not I?— But many a dingle on the loved hill-side, With thorns once studded, old, white-blossom'd trees, Where thick the cowslips grew, and far descried High tower'd the spikes of purple orchises, Hath since our day put by The coronals of that forgotten time; Down each green bank hath gone the ploughboy's team, And only in the hidden brookside gleam Primroses, orphans of the flowery prime.
Where is the girl, who by the boatman's door, Above the locks, above the boating throng, Unmoor'd our skiff when through the Wytham flats, Red loosestrife and blond meadow-sweet among And darting swallows and light water-gnats, We track'd the shy Thames shore? Where are the mowers, who, as the tiny swell Of our boat passing heaved the river-grass, Stood with suspended scythe to see us pass?— They all are gone, and thou art gone as well!
Yes, thou art gone! and round me too the night In ever-nearing circle weaves her shade. I see her veil draw soft across the day, I feel her slowly chilling breath invade The cheek grown thin, the brown hair sprent with grey; I feel her finger light Laid pausefully upon life's headlong train;— The foot less prompt to meet the morning dew, The heart less bounding at emotion new, And hope, once crush'd, less quick to spring again.
And long the way appears, which seem'd so short To the less practised eye of sanguine youth; And high the mountain-tops, in cloudy air, The mountain-tops where is the throne of Truth, Tops in life's morning-sun so bright and bare! Unbreachable the fort Of the long-batter'd world uplifts its wall; And strange and vain the earthly turmoil grows, And near and real the charm of thy repose, And night as welcome as a friend would fall.
But hush! the upland hath a sudden loss Of quiet!—Look, adown the dusk hill-side, A troop of Oxford hunters going home, As in old days, jovial and talking, ride! From hunting with the Berkshire hounds they come. Quick! let me fly, and cross Into yon farther field!—'Tis done; and see, Back'd by the sunset, which doth glorify The orange and pale violet evening-sky, Bare on its lonely ridge, the Tree! the Tree!
I take the omen! Eve lets down her veil, The white fog creeps from bush to bush about, The west unflushes, the high stars grow bright, And in the scatter'd farms the lights come out. I cannot reach the signal-tree to-night, Yet, happy omen, hail! Hear it from thy broad lucent Arno-vale (For there thine earth-forgetting eyelids keep The morningless and unawakening sleep Under the flowery oleanders pale),
Hear it, O Thyrsis, still our tree is there!— Ah, vain! These English fields, this upland dim, These brambles pale with mist engarlanded, That lone, sky-pointing tree, are not for him; To a boon southern country he is fled, And now in happier air, Wandering with the great Mother's train divine (And purer or more subtle soul than thee, I trow, the mighty Mother doth not see) Within a folding of the Apennine,
Thou hearest the immortal chants of old!— Putting his sickle to the perilous grain In the hot cornfield of the Phrygian king, For thee the Lityerses-song again Young Daphnis with his silver voice doth sing; Sings his Sicilian fold, His sheep, his hapless love, his blinded eyes— And how a call celestial round him rang, And heavenward from the fountain-brink he sprang, And all the marvel of the golden skies.
There thou art gone, and me thou leavest here Sole in these fields! yet will I not despair. Despair I will not, while I yet descry Neath the mild canopy of English air That lonely tree against the western sky. Still, still these slopes, 'tis clear, Our Gipsy-Scholar haunts, outliving thee! Fields where soft sheep from cages pull the hay, Woods with anemonies in flower till May, Know him a wanderer still; then why not me?
A fugitive and gracious light he seeks, Shy to illumine; and I seek it too. This does not come with houses or with gold, With place, with honour, and a flattering crew; 'Tis not in the world's market bought and sold— But the smooth-slipping weeks Drop by, and leave its seeker still untired; Out of the heed of mortals he is gone, He wends unfollow'd, he must house alone; Yet on he fares, by his own heart inspired.
Thou too, O Thyrsis, on like quest wast bound; Thou wanderedst with me for a little hour! Men gave thee nothing; but this happy quest, If men esteem'd thee feeble, gave thee power, If men procured thee trouble, gave thee rest. And this rude Cumner ground, Its fir-topped Hurst, its farms, its quiet fields, Here cam'st thou in thy jocund youthful time, Here was thine height of strength, thy golden prime! And still the haunt beloved a virtue yields.
What though the music of thy rustic flute Kept not for long its happy, country tone; Lost it too soon, and learnt a stormy note Of men contention-tost, of men who groan, Which task'd thy pipe too sore, and tired thy throat— It fail'd, and thou wast mute! Yet hadst thou alway visions of our light, And long with men of care thou couldst not stay, And soon thy foot resumed its wandering way, Left human haunt, and on alone till night.
Too rare, too rare, grow now my visits here! 'Mid city-noise, not, as with thee of yore, Thyrsis! in reach of sheep-bells is my home. —Then through the great town's harsh, heart-wearying roar, Let in thy voice a whisper often come, To chase fatigue and fear: Why faintest thou? I wander'd till I died. Roam on! The light we sought is shining still. Dost thou ask proof? Our tree yet crowns the hill, Our Scholar travels yet the loved hill-side.
Goethe in Weimar sleeps, and Greece, Long since, saw Byron's struggle cease. But one such death remain'd to come; The last poetic voice is dumb— We stand to-day by Wordsworth's tomb.
When Byron's eyes were shut in death, We bow'd our head and held our breath. He taught us little; but our soul Had felt him like the thunder's roll. With shivering heart the strife we saw Of passion with eternal law; And yet with reverential awe We watch'd the fount of fiery life Which served for that Titanic strife.
When Goethe's death was told, we said: Sunk, then, is Europe's sagest head. Physician of the iron age, Goethe has done his pilgrimage. He took the suffering human race, He read each wound, each weakness clear; And struck his finger on the place, And said: Thou ailest here, and here! He look'd on Europe's dying hour Of fitful dream and feverish power; His eye plunged down the weltering strife, The turmoil of expiring life— He said: The end is everywhere, Art still has truth, take refuge there! And he was happy, if to know Causes of things, and far below His feet to see the lurid flow Of terror, and insane distress, And headlong fate, be happiness.
And Wordsworth!—Ah, pale ghosts, rejoice! For never has such soothing voice Been to your shadowy world convey'd, Since erst, at morn, some wandering shade Heard the clear song of Orpheus come Through Hades, and the mournful gloom. Wordsworth has gone from us—and ye, Ah, may ye feel his voice as we! He too upon a wintry clime Had fallen—on this iron time Of doubts, disputes, distractions, fears. He found us when the age had bound Our souls in its benumbing round; He spoke, and loosed our heart in tears. He laid us as we lay at birth On the cool flowery lap of earth, Smiles broke from us and we had ease; The hills were round us, and the breeze Went o'er the sun-lit fields again; Our foreheads felt the wind and rain. Our youth return'd; for there was shed On spirits that had long been dead, Spirits dried up and closely furl'd, The freshness of the early world.
Ah! since dark days still bring to light Man's prudence and man's fiery might, Time may restore us in his course Goethe's sage mind and Byron's force; But where will Europe's latter hour Again find Wordsworth's healing power? Others will teach us how to dare, And against fear our breast to steel; Others will strengthen us to bear— But who, ah! who, will make us feel? The cloud of mortal destiny, Others will front it fearlessly— But who, like him, will put it by?
Keep fresh the grass upon his grave O Rotha, with thy living wave! Sing him thy best! for few or none Hears thy voice right, now he is gone.
IN MEMORY OF EDWARD QUILLINAN
I saw him sensitive in frame, I knew his spirits low; And wish'd him health, success, and fame— I do not wish it now.
For these are all their own reward, And leave no good behind; They try us, oftenest make us hard, Less modest, pure, and kind.
Alas! yet to the suffering man, In this his mortal state, Friends could not give what fortune can— Health, ease, a heart elate.
But he is now by fortune foil'd No more; and we retain The memory of a man unspoil'd, Sweet, generous, and humane—
With all the fortunate have not, With gentle voice and brow. —Alive, we would have changed his lot, We would not change it now.
STANZAS FROM CARNAC
Far on its rocky knoll descried Saint Michael's chapel cuts the sky. I climb'd;—beneath me, bright and wide, Lay the lone coast of Brittany.
Bright in the sunset, weird and still, It lay beside the Atlantic wave, As though the wizard Merlin's will Yet charm'd it from his forest-grave.
Behind me on their grassy sweep, Bearded with lichen, scrawl'd and grey, The giant stones of Carnac sleep, In the mild evening of the May.
No priestly stern procession now Moves through their rows of pillars old; No victims bleed, no Druids bow— Sheep make the daisied aisles their fold.
From bush to bush the cuckoo flies, The orchis red gleams everywhere; Gold furze with broom in blossom vies, The blue-bells perfume all the air.
And o'er the glistening, lonely land, Rise up, all round, the Christian spires; The church of Carnac, by the strand, Catches the westering sun's last fires.
And there, across the watery way, See, low above the tide at flood, The sickle-sweep of Quiberon Bay, Whose beach once ran with loyal blood!
And beyond that, the Atlantic wide!— All round, no soul, no boat, no hail; But, on the horizon's verge descried, Hangs, touch'd with light, one snowy sail!
Ah! where is he, who should have come Where that far sail is passing now, Past the Loire's mouth, and by the foam Of Finistere's unquiet brow,
Home, round into the English wave? —He tarries where the Rock of Spain Mediterranean waters lave; He enters not the Atlantic main.
Oh, could he once have reach'd this air Freshen'd by plunging tides, by showers! Have felt this breath he loved, of fair Cool northern fields, and grass, and flowers!
He long'd for it—press'd on.—In vain! At the Straits fail'd that spirit brave. The south was parent of his pain, The south is mistress of his grave.
A SOUTHERN NIGHT
The sandy spits, the shore-lock'd lakes, Melt into open, moonlit sea; The soft Mediterranean breaks At my feet, free.
Dotting the fields of corn and vine, Like ghosts the huge, gnarl'd olives stand. Behind, that lovely mountain-line! While, by the strand,
Cette, with its glistening houses white, Curves with the curving beach away To where the lighthouse beacons bright Far in the bay.
Ah! such a night, so soft, so lone, So moonlit, saw me once of yore Wander unquiet, and my own Vext heart deplore.
But now that trouble is forgot; Thy memory, thy pain, to-night, My brother! and thine early lot, Possess me quite.
The murmur of this Midland deep Is heard to-night around thy grave, There, where Gibraltar's cannon'd steep O'erfrowns the wave.
For there, with bodily anguish keen, With Indian heats at last fordone, With public toil and private teen— Thou sank'st, alone.
Slow to a stop, at morning grey, I see the smoke-crown'd vessel come; Slow round her paddles dies away The seething foam.
A boat is lower'd from her side; Ah, gently place him on the bench! That spirit—if all have not yet died— A breath might quench.
Is this the eye, the footstep fast, The mien of youth we used to see, Poor, gallant boy!—for such thou wast, Still art, to me.
The limbs their wonted tasks refuse; The eyes are glazed, thou canst not speak; And whiter than thy white burnous That wasted cheek!
Enough! The boat, with quiet shock, Unto its haven coming nigh, Touches, and on Gibraltar's rock Lands thee to die.
Ah me! Gibraltar's strand is far, But farther yet across the brine Thy dear wife's ashes buried are, Remote from thine.
For there, where morning's sacred fount Its golden rain on earth confers, The snowy Himalayan Mount O'ershadows hers.
Strange irony of fate, alas, Which, for two jaded English, saves, When from their dusty life they pass, Such peaceful graves!
In cities should we English lie, Where cries are rising ever new, And men's incessant stream goes by— We who pursue
Our business with unslackening stride, Traverse in troops, with care-fill'd breast, The soft Mediterranean side, The Nile, the East, And see all sights from pole to pole, And glance, and nod, and bustle by, And never once possess our soul Before we die.
Not by those hoary Indian hills, Not by this gracious Midland sea Whose floor to-night sweet moonshine fills, Should our graves be.
Some sage, to whom the world was dead, And men were specks, and life a play; Who made the roots of trees his bed, And once a day
With staff and gourd his way did bend To villages and homes of man, For food to keep him till he end His mortal span
And the pure goal of being reach; Hoar-headed, wrinkled, clad in white, Without companion, without speech, By day and night
Pondering God's mysteries untold, And tranquil as the glacier-snows He by those Indian mountains old Might well repose.
Some grey crusading knight austere, Who bore Saint Louis company, And came home hurt to death, and here Landed to die; Some youthful troubadour, whose tongue Fill'd Europe once with his love-pain, Who here outworn had sunk, and sung His dying strain;
Some girl, who here from castle-bower, With furtive step and cheek of flame, 'Twixt myrtle-hedges all in flower By moonlight came
To meet her pirate-lover's ship; And from the wave-kiss'd marble stair Beckon'd him on, with quivering lip And floating hair;
And lived some moons in happy trance, Then learnt his death and pined away— Such by these waters of romance 'Twas meet to lay.
But you—a grave for knight or sage, Romantic, solitary, still, O spent ones of a work-day age! Befits you ill.
So sang I; but the midnight breeze, Down to the brimm'd, moon-charmed main, Comes softly through the olive-trees, And checks my strain.
I think of her, whose gentle tongue All plaint in her own cause controll'd; Of thee I think, my brother! young In heart, high-soul'd—
That comely face, that cluster'd brow, That cordial hand, that bearing free, I see them still, I see them now, Shall always see!
And what but gentleness untired, And what but noble feeling warm, Wherever shown, howe'er inspired, Is grace, is charm?
What else is all these waters are, What else is steep'd in lucid sheen, What else is bright, what else is fair, What else serene?
Mild o'er her grave, ye mountains, shine! Gently by his, ye waters, glide! To that in you which is divine They were allied.
Where, under Loughrigg, the stream Of Rotha sparkles through fields Vested for ever with green, Four years since, in the house Of a gentle spirit, now dead— Wordsworth's son-in-law, friend— I saw the meeting of two Gifted women. The one, Brilliant with recent renown, Young, unpractised, had told With a master's accent her feign'd Story of passionate life; The other, maturer in fame, Earning, she too, her praise First in fiction, had since Widen'd her sweep, and survey'd History, politics, mind.
The two held converse; they wrote In a book which of world-famous souls Kept the memorial;—bard, Warrior, statesman, had sign'd Their names; chief glory of all, Scott had bestow'd there his last Breathings of song, with a pen Tottering, a death-stricken hand.
Hope at that meeting smiled fair. Years in number, it seem'd, Lay before both, and a fame Heighten'd, and multiplied power.— Behold! The elder, to-day, Lies expecting from death, In mortal weakness, a last Summons! the younger is dead!
First to the living we pay Mournful homage;—the Muse Gains not an earth-deafen'd ear.
Hail to the steadfast soul, Which, unflinching and keen, Wrought to erase from its depth Mist and illusion and fear! Hail to the spirit which dared Trust its own thoughts, before yet Echoed her back by the crowd! Hail to the courage which gave Voice to its creed, ere the creed Won consecration from time!
Turn we next to the dead. —How shall we honour the young, The ardent, the gifted? how mourn? Console we cannot, her ear Is deaf. Far northward from here, In a churchyard high 'mid the moors Of Yorkshire, a little earth Stops it for ever to praise.
Where, behind Keighley, the road Up to the heart of the moors Between heath-clad showery hills Runs, and colliers' carts Poach the deep ways coming down, And a rough, grimed race have their homes— There on its slope is built The moorland town. But the church Stands on the crest of the hill, Lonely and bleak;—at its side The parsonage-house and the graves.
Strew with laurel the grave Of the early-dying! Alas, Early she goes on the path To the silent country, and leaves Half her laurels unwon, Dying too soon!—yet green Laurels she had, and a course Short, but redoubled by fame.
And not friendless, and not Only with strangers to meet, Faces ungreeting and cold, Thou, O mourn'd one, to-day Enterest the house of the grave! Those of thy blood, whom thou lov'dst, Have preceded thee—young, Loving, a sisterly band; Some in art, some in gift Inferior—all in fame. They, like friends, shall receive This comer, greet her with joy; Welcome the sister, the friend; Hear with delight of thy fame!
Round thee they lie—the grass Blows from their graves to thy own! She, whose genius, though not Puissant like thine, was yet Sweet and graceful;—and she (How shall I sing her?) whose soul Knew no fellow for might, Passion, vehemence, grief, Daring, since Byron died, That world-famed son of fire—she, who sank Baffled, unknown, self-consumed; Whose too bold dying song Stirr'd, like a clarion-blast, my soul.
Of one, too, I have heard, A brother—sleeps he here? Of all that gifted race Not the least gifted; young, Unhappy, eloquent—the child Of many hopes, of many tears. O boy, if here thou sleep'st, sleep well! On thee too did the Muse Bright in thy cradle smile; But some dark shadow came (I know not what) and interposed.
Sleep, O cluster of friends, Sleep!—or only when May, Brought by the west-wind, returns Back to your native heaths, And the plover is heard on the moors, Yearly awake to behold The opening summer, the sky, The shining moorland—to hear The drowsy bee, as of old, Hum o'er the thyme, the grouse Call from the heather in bloom! Sleep, or only for this Break your united repose!
So I sang; but the Muse, Shaking her head, took the harp— Stern interrupted my strain, Angrily smote on the chords.
April showers Rush o'er the Yorkshire moors. Stormy, through driving mist, Loom the blurr'd hills; the rain Lashes the newly-made grave.
Unquiet souls! —In the dark fermentation of earth, In the never idle workshop of nature, In the eternal movement, Ye shall find yourselves again!
Coldly, sadly descends The autumn-evening. The field Strewn with its dank yellow drifts Of wither'd leaves, and the elms, Fade into dimness apace, Silent;—hardly a shout From a few boys late at their play! The lights come out in the street, In the school-room windows;—but cold, Solemn, unlighted, austere, Through the gathering darkness, arise The chapel-walls, in whose bound Thou, my father! art laid.
There thou dost lie, in the gloom Of the autumn evening. But ah! That word, gloom, to my mind Brings thee back, in the light Of thy radiant vigour, again; In the gloom of November we pass'd Days not dark at thy side; Seasons impair'd not the ray Of thy buoyant cheerfulness clear. Such thou wast! and I stand In the autumn evening, and think Of bygone autumns with thee.
Fifteen years have gone round Since thou arosest to tread, In the summer-morning, the road Of death, at a call unforeseen, Sudden. For fifteen years, We who till then in thy shade Rested as under the boughs Of a mighty oak, have endured Sunshine and rain as we might, Bare, unshaded, alone, Lacking the shelter of thee.
O strong soul, by what shore Tarriest thou now? For that force, Surely, has not been left vain! Somewhere, surely, afar, In the sounding labour-house vast Of being, is practised that strength, Zealous, beneficent, firm!
Yes, in some far-shining sphere, Conscious or not of the past, Still thou performest the word Of the Spirit in whom thou dost live— Prompt, unwearied, as here! Still thou upraisest with zeal The humble good from the ground, Sternly repressest the bad! Still, like a trumpet, dost rouse Those who with half-open eyes Tread the border-land dim 'Twixt vice and virtue; reviv'st, Succourest!—this was thy work, This was thy life upon earth.
What is the course of the life Of mortal men on the earth?— Most men eddy about Here and there—eat and drink, Chatter and love and hate, Gather and squander, are raised Aloft, are hurl'd in the dust, Striving blindly, achieving Nothing; and then they die— Perish;—and no one asks Who or what they have been, More than he asks what waves, In the moonlit solitudes mild Of the midmost Ocean, have swell'd, Foam'd for a moment, and gone.
And there are some, whom a thirst Ardent, unquenchable, fires, Not with the crowd to be spent, Not without aim to go round In an eddy of purposeless dust, Effort unmeaning and vain. Ah yes! some of us strive Not without action to die Fruitless, but something to snatch From dull oblivion, nor all Glut the devouring grave! We, we have chosen our path— Path to a clear-purposed goal, Path of advance!—but it leads A long, steep journey, through sunk Gorges, o'er mountains in snow. Cheerful, with friends, we set forth— Then, on the height, comes the storm. Thunder crashes from rock To rock, the cataracts reply, Lightnings dazzle our eyes. Roaring torrents have breach'd The track, the stream-bed descends In the place where the wayfarer once Planted his footstep—the spray Boils o'er its borders! aloft The unseen snow-beds dislodge Their hanging ruin; alas, Havoc is made in our train! Friends, who set forth at our side, Falter, are lost in the storm. We, we only are left! With frowning foreheads, with lips Sternly compress'd, we strain on, On—and at nightfall at last Come to the end of our way, To the lonely inn 'mid the rocks; Where the gaunt and taciturn host Stands on the threshold, the wind Shaking his thin white hairs— Holds his lantern to scan Our storm-beat figures, and asks: Whom in our party we bring? Whom we have left in the snow?
Sadly we answer: We bring Only ourselves! we lost Sight of the rest in the storm. Hardly ourselves we fought through, Stripp'd, without friends, as we are. Friends, companions, and train, The avalanche swept from our side.
But thou would'st not alone Be saved, my father! alone Conquer and come to thy goal, Leaving the rest in the wild. We were weary, and we Fearful, and we in our march Fain to drop down and to die. Still thou turnedst, and still Beckonedst the trembler, and still Gavest the weary thy hand.
If, in the paths of the world, Stones might have wounded thy feet, Toil or dejection have tried Thy spirit, of that we saw Nothing—to us thou wast still Cheerful, and helpful, and firm! Therefore to thee it was given Many to save with thyself; And, at the end of thy day, O faithful shepherd! to come, Bringing thy sheep in thy hand.
And through thee I believe In the noble and great who are gone; Pure souls honour'd and blest By former ages, who else— Such, so soulless, so poor, Is the race of men whom I see— Seem'd but a dream of the heart, Seem'd but a cry of desire. Yes! I believe that there lived Others like thee in the past, Not like the men of the crowd Who all round me to-day Bluster or cringe, and make life Hideous, and arid, and vile; But souls temper'd with fire, Fervent, heroic, and good, Helpers and friends of mankind.
Servants of God!—or sons Shall I not call you? because Not as servants ye knew Your Father's innermost mind, His, who unwillingly sees One of his little ones lost— Yours is the praise, if mankind Hath not as yet in its march Fainted, and fallen, and died!
See! In the rocks of the world Marches the host of mankind, A feeble, wavering line. Where are they tending?—A God Marshall'd them, gave them their goal. Ah, but the way is so long! Years they have been in the wild! Sore thirst plagues them, the rocks, Rising all round, overawe; Factions divide them, their host Threatens to break, to dissolve. —Ah, keep, keep them combined! Else, of the myriads who fill That army, not one shall arrive; Sole they shall stray; in the rocks Stagger for ever in vain, Die one by one in the waste.
Then, in such hour of need Of your fainting, dispirited race, Ye, like angels, appear, Radiant with ardour divine! Beacons of hope, ye appear! Languor is not in your heart, Weakness is not in your word, Weariness not on your brow. Ye alight in our van! at your voice, Panic, despair, flee away. Ye move through the ranks, recall The stragglers, refresh the outworn, Praise, re-inspire the brave! Order, courage, return. Eyes rekindling, and prayers, Follow your steps as ye go. Ye fill up the gaps in our files, Strengthen the wavering line, Stablish, continue our march, On, to the bound of the waste, On, to the City of God.
"HENRI HEINE"—— 'tis here! That black tombstone, the name Carved there—no more! and the smooth, Swarded alleys, the limes Touch'd with yellow by hot Summer, but under them still, In September's bright afternoon, Shadow, and verdure, and cool. Trim Montmartre! the faint Murmur of Paris outside; Crisp everlasting-flowers, Yellow and black, on the graves.
Half blind, palsied, in pain, Hither to come, from the streets' Uproar, surely not loath Wast thou, Heine!—to lie Quiet, to ask for closed Shutters, and darken'd room, And cool drinks, and an eased Posture, and opium, no more; Hither to come, and to sleep Under the wings of Renown.
Ah! not little, when pain Is most quelling, and man Easily quell'd, and the fine Temper of genius so soon Thrills at each smart, is the praise, Not to have yielded to pain! No small boast, for a weak Son of mankind, to the earth Pinn'd by the thunder, to rear His bolt-scathed front to the stars; And, undaunted, retort 'Gainst thick-crashing, insane, Tyrannous tempests of bale, Arrowy lightnings of soul.
Hark! through the alley resounds Mocking laughter! A film Creeps o'er the sunshine; a breeze Ruffles the warm afternoon, Saddens my soul with its chill. Gibing of spirits in scorn Shakes every leaf of the grove, Mars the benignant repose Of this amiable home of the dead.
Bitter spirits, ye claim Heine?—Alas, he is yours! Only a moment I long'd Here in the quiet to snatch From such mates the outworn Poet, and steep him in calm. Only a moment! I knew Whose he was who is here Buried—I knew he was yours! Ah, I knew that I saw Here no sepulchre built In the laurell'd rock, o'er the blue Naples bay, for a sweet Tender Virgil! no tomb On Ravenna sands, in the shade Of Ravenna pines, for a high Austere Dante! no grave By the Avon side, in the bright Stratford meadows, for thee, Shakespeare! loveliest of souls, Peerless in radiance, in joy.
What, then, so harsh and malign, Heine! distils from thy life? Poisons the peace of the grave?
I chide with thee not, that thy sharp Upbraidings often assail'd England, my country—for we, Heavy and sad, for her sons, Long since, deep in our hearts, Echo the blame of her foes. We, too, sigh that she flags; We, too, say that she now— Scarce comprehending the voice Of her greatest, golden-mouth'd sons Of a former age any more— Stupidly travels her round Of mechanic business, and lets Slow die out of her life Glory, and genius, and joy.
So thou arraign'st her, her foe; So we arraign her, her sons.
Yes, we arraign her! but she, The weary Titan, with deaf Ears, and labour-dimm'd eyes, Regarding neither to right Nor left, goes passively by, Staggering on to her goal; Bearing on shoulders immense, Atlantean, the load, Wellnigh not to be borne, Of the too vast orb of her fate.
But was it thou—I think Surely it was!—that bard Unnamed, who, Goethe said, Had every other gift, but wanted love; Love, without which the tongue Even of angels sounds amiss?
Charm is the glory which makes Song of the poet divine, Love is the fountain of charm. How without charm wilt thou draw, Poet! the world to thy way? Not by the lightnings of wit— Not by the thunder of scorn! These to the world, too, are given; Wit it possesses, and scorn— Charm is the poet's alone. Hollow and dull are the great, And artists envious, and the mob profane. We know all this, we know! Cam'st thou from heaven, O child Of light! but this to declare? Alas, to help us forget Such barren knowledge awhile, God gave the poet his song!
Therefore a secret unrest Tortured thee, brilliant and bold! Therefore triumph itself Tasted amiss to thy soul. Therefore, with blood of thy foes, Trickled in silence thine own. Therefore the victor's heart Broke on the field of his fame.
Ah! as of old, from the pomp Of Italian Milan, the fair Flower of marble of white Southern palaces—steps Border'd by statues, and walks Terraced, and orange-bowers Heavy with fragrance—the blond German Kaiser full oft Long'd himself back to the fields, Rivers, and high-roof'd towns Of his native Germany; so, So, how often! from hot Paris drawing-rooms, and lamps Blazing, and brilliant crowds, Starr'd and jewell'd, of men Famous, of women the queens Of dazzling converse—from fumes Of praise, hot, heady fumes, to the poor brain That mount, that madden—how oft Heine's spirit outworn Long'd itself out of the din, Back to the tranquil, the cool Far German home of his youth!
See! in the May-afternoon, O'er the fresh, short turf of the Hartz, A youth, with the foot of youth, Heine! thou climbest again! Up, through the tall dark firs Warming their heads in the sun, Chequering the grass with their shade— Up, by the stream, with its huge Moss-hung boulders, and thin Musical water half-hid— Up, o'er the rock-strewn slope, With the sinking sun, and the air Chill, and the shadows now Long on the grey hill-side— To the stone-roof'd hut at the top!
Or, yet later, in watch On the roof of the Brocken-tower Thou standest, gazing!—to see The broad red sun, over field, Forest, and city, and spire, And mist-track'd stream of the wide, Wide German land, going down In a bank of vapours——again Standest, at nightfall, alone!
Or, next morning, with limbs Rested by slumber, and heart Freshen'd and light with the May, O'er the gracious spurs coming down Of the Lower Hartz, among oaks, And beechen coverts, and copse Of hazels green in whose depth Ilse, the fairy transform'd, In a thousand water-breaks light Pours her petulant youth— Climbing the rock which juts O'er the valley, the dizzily perch'd Rock—to its iron cross Once more thou cling'st; to the Cross Clingest! with smiles, with a sigh!
Goethe, too, had been there. In the long-past winter he came To the frozen Hartz, with his soul Passionate, eager—his youth All in ferment!—but he Destined to work and to live Left it, and thou, alas! Only to laugh and to die.
But something prompts me: Not thus Take leave of Heine! not thus Speak the last word at his grave! Not in pity, and not With half censure—with awe Hail, as it passes from earth Scattering lightnings, that soul!
The Spirit of the world, Beholding the absurdity of men— Their vaunts, their feats—let a sardonic smile, For one short moment, wander o'er his lips. That smile was Heine!—for its earthly hour The strange guest sparkled; now 'tis pass'd away.
That was Heine! and we, Myriads who live, who have lived, What are we all, but a mood, A single mood, of the life Of the Spirit in whom we exist, Who alone is all things in one?
Spirit, who fillest us all! Spirit, who utterest in each New-coming son of mankind Such of thy thoughts as thou wilt! O thou, one of whose moods, Bitter and strange, was the life Of Heine—his strange, alas, His bitter life!—may a life Other and milder be mine! May'st thou a mood more serene, Happier, have utter'd in mine! May'st thou the rapture of peace Deep have embreathed at its core; Made it a ray of thy thought, Made it a beat of thy joy!
STANZAS FROM THE GRANDE CHARTREUSE
Through Alpine meadows soft-suffused With rain, where thick the crocus blows, Past the dark forges long disused, The mule-track from Saint Laurent goes. The bridge is cross'd, and slow we ride, Through forest, up the mountain-side.
The autumnal evening darkens round, The wind is up, and drives the rain; While, hark! far down, with strangled sound Doth the Dead Guier's stream complain, Where that wet smoke, among the woods, Over his boiling cauldron broods.
Swift rush the spectral vapours white Past limestone scars with ragged pines, Showing—then blotting from our sight!— Halt—through the cloud-drift something shines! High in the valley, wet and drear, The huts of Courrerie appear.
Strike leftward! cries our guide; and higher Mounts up the stony forest-way. At last the encircling trees retire; Look! through the showery twilight grey What pointed roofs are these advance?— A palace of the Kings of France?
Approach, for what we seek is here! Alight, and sparely sup, and wait For rest in this outbuilding near; Then cross the sward and reach that gate. Knock; pass the wicket! Thou art come To the Carthusians' world-famed home.
The silent courts, where night and day Into their stone-carved basins cold The splashing icy fountains play— The humid corridors behold! Where, ghostlike in the deepening night, Cowl'd forms brush by in gleaming white.
The chapel, where no organ's peal Invests the stern and naked prayer— With penitential cries they kneel And wrestle; rising then, with bare And white uplifted faces stand, Passing the Host from hand to hand; Each takes, and then his visage wan Is buried in his cowl once more. The cells!—the suffering Son of Man Upon the wall—the knee-worn floor— And where they sleep, that wooden bed, Which shall their coffin be, when dead!
The library, where tract and tome Not to feed priestly pride are there, To hymn the conquering march of Rome, Nor yet to amuse, as ours are! They paint of souls the inner strife, Their drops of blood, their death in life.
The garden, overgrown—yet mild, See, fragrant herbs are flowering there! Strong children of the Alpine wild Whose culture is the brethren's care; Of human tasks their only one, And cheerful works beneath the sun.
Those halls, too, destined to contain Each its own pilgrim-host of old, From England, Germany, or Spain— All are before me! I behold The House, the Brotherhood austere! —And what am I, that I am here?
For rigorous teachers seized my youth, And purged its faith, and trimm'd its fire, Show'd me the high, white star of Truth, There bade me gaze, and there aspire. Even now their whispers pierce the gloom: What dost thou in this living tomb?
Forgive me, masters of the mind! At whose behest I long ago So much unlearnt, so much resign'd— I come not here to be your foe! I seek these anchorites, not in ruth, To curse and to deny your truth;
Not as their friend, or child, I speak! But as, on some far northern strand, Thinking of his own Gods, a Greek In pity and mournful awe might stand Before some fallen Runic stone— For both were faiths, and both are gone.
Wandering between two worlds, one dead, The other powerless to be born, With nowhere yet to rest my head, Like these, on earth I wait forlorn. Their faith, my tears, the world deride— I come to shed them at their side.
Oh, hide me in your gloom profound, Ye solemn seats of holy pain! Take me, cowl'd forms, and fence me round, Till I possess my soul again; Till free my thoughts before me roll, Not chafed by hourly false control!
For the world cries your faith is now But a dead time's exploded dream; My melancholy, sciolists say, Is a pass'd mode, an outworn theme— As if the world had ever had A faith, or sciolists been sad!
Ah, if it be pass'd, take away, At least, the restlessness, the pain; Be man henceforth no more a prey To these out-dated stings again! The nobleness of grief is gone— Ah, leave us not the fret alone!
But—if you cannot give us ease— Last of the race of them who grieve Here leave us to die out with these Last of the people who believe! Silent, while years engrave the brow; Silent—the best are silent now.
Achilles ponders in his tent, The kings of modern thought are dumb; Silent they are, though not content, And wait to see the future come. They have the grief men had of yore, But they contend and cry no more.
Our fathers water'd with their tears This sea of time whereon we sail, Their voices were in all men's ears Who pass'd within their puissant hail. Still the same ocean round us raves, But we stand mute, and watch the waves.
For what avail'd it, all the noise And outcry of the former men?— Say, have their sons achieved more joys, Say, is life lighter now than then? The sufferers died, they left their pain— The pangs which tortured them remain.
What helps it now, that Byron bore, With haughty scorn which mock'd the smart, Through Europe to the AEtolian shore The pageant of his bleeding heart? That thousands counted every groan, And Europe made his woe her own?
What boots it, Shelley! that the breeze Carried thy lovely wail away, Musical through Italian trees Which fringe thy soft blue Spezzian bay? Inheritors of thy distress Have restless hearts one throb the less?
Or are we easier, to have read, O Obermann! the sad, stern page, Which tells us how thou hidd'st thy head From the fierce tempest of thine age In the lone brakes of Fontainebleau, Or chalets near the Alpine snow?
Ye slumber in your silent grave!— The world, which for an idle day Grace to your mood of sadness gave, Long since hath flung her weeds away. The eternal trifler breaks your spell; But we—we learnt your lore too well!
Years hence, perhaps, may dawn an age, More fortunate, alas! than we, Which without hardness will be sage, And gay without frivolity. Sons of the world, oh, speed those years; But, while we wait, allow our tears!
Allow them! We admire with awe The exulting thunder of your race; You give the universe your law, You triumph over time and space! Your pride of life, your tireless powers, We laud them, but they are not ours.
We are like children rear'd in shade Beneath some old-world abbey wall, Forgotten in a forest-glade, And secret from the eyes of all. Deep, deep the greenwood round them waves, Their abbey, and its close of graves!
But, where the road runs near the stream, Oft through the trees they catch a glance Of passing troops in the sun's beam— Pennon, and plume, and flashing lance! Forth to the world those soldiers fare, To life, to cities, and to war!
And through the wood, another way, Faint bugle-notes from far are borne, Where hunters gather, staghounds bay, Round some fair forest-lodge at morn. Gay dames are there, in sylvan green; Laughter and cries—those notes between!
The banners flashing through the trees Make their blood dance and chain their eyes That bugle-music on the breeze Arrests them with a charm'd surprise. Banner by turns and bugle woo: Ye shy recluses, follow too!
O children, what do ye reply?— "Action and pleasure, will ye roam Through these secluded dells to cry And call us?—but too late ye come! Too late for us your call ye blow, Whose bent was taken long ago.
"Long since we pace this shadow'd nave; We watch those yellow tapers shine, Emblems of hope over the grave, In the high altar's depth divine; The organ carries to our ear Its accents of another sphere.
"Fenced early in this cloistral round Of reverie, of shade, of prayer, How should we grow in other ground? How can we flower in foreign air? —Pass, banners, pass, and bugles, cease; And leave our desert to its peace!"
STANZAS IN MEMORY OF THE AUTHOR OF "OBERMANN"
In front the awful Alpine track Crawls up its rocky stair; The autumn storm-winds drive the rack, Close o'er it, in the air.
Behind are the abandon'd baths Mute in their meadows lone; The leaves are on the valley-paths, The mists are on the Rhone—
The white mists rolling like a sea! I hear the torrents roar. —Yes, Obermann, all speaks of thee; I feel thee near once more!
I turn thy leaves! I feel their breath Once more upon me roll; That air of languor, cold, and death, Which brooded o'er thy soul.
Fly hence, poor wretch, whoe'er thou art, Condemn'd to cast about, All shipwreck in thy own weak heart, For comfort from without!
A fever in these pages burns Beneath the calm they feign; A wounded human spirit turns, Here, on its bed of pain.
Yes, though the virgin mountain-air Fresh through these pages blows; Though to these leaves the glaciers spare The soul of their white snows;
Though here a mountain-murmur swells Of many a dark-bough'd pine; Though, as you read, you hear the bells Of the high-pasturing kine—
Yet, through the hum of torrent lone, And brooding mountain-bee, There sobs I know not what ground-tone Of human agony.
Is it for this, because the sound Is fraught too deep with pain, That, Obermann! the world around So little loves thy strain?
Some secrets may the poet tell, For the world loves new ways; To tell too deep ones is not well— It knows not what he says.
Yet, of the spirits who have reign'd In this our troubled day, I know but two, who have attain'd, Save thee, to see their way.
By England's lakes, in grey old age, His quiet home one keeps; And one, the strong much-toiling sage, In German Weimar sleeps.
But Wordsworth's eyes avert their ken From half of human fate; And Goethe's course few sons of men May think to emulate.
For he pursued a lonely road, His eyes on Nature's plan; Neither made man too much a God, Nor God too much a man.
Strong was he, with a spirit free From mists, and sane, and clear; Clearer, how much! than ours—yet we Have a worse course to steer.
For though his manhood bore the blast Of a tremendous time, Yet in a tranquil world was pass'd His tenderer youthful prime.
But we, brought forth and rear'd in hours Of change, alarm, surprise— What shelter to grow ripe is ours? What leisure to grow wise?
Like children bathing on the shore, Buried a wave beneath, The second wave succeeds, before We have had time to breathe.
Too fast we live, too much are tried, Too harass'd, to attain Wordsworth's sweet calm, or Goethe's wide And luminous view to gain.
And then we turn, thou sadder sage, To thee! we feel thy spell! —The hopeless tangle of our age, Thou too hast scann'd it well!
Immoveable thou sittest, still As death, composed to bear! Thy head is clear, thy feeling chill, And icy thy despair.
Yes, as the son of Thetis said, I hear thee saying now: Greater by far than thou art dead; Strive not! die also thou!
Ah! two desires toss about The poet's feverish blood. One drives him to the world without, And one to solitude.
The glow, he cries, the thrill of life, Where, where do these abound?— Not in the world, not in the strife Of men, shall they be found.
He who hath watch'd, not shared, the strife, Knows how the day hath gone. He only lives with the world's life, Who hath renounced his own.
To thee we come, then! Clouds are roll'd Where thou, O seer! art set; Thy realm of thought is drear and cold— The world is colder yet!
And thou hast pleasures, too, to share With those who come to thee— Balms floating on thy mountain-air, And healing sights to see.
How often, where the slopes are green On Jaman, hast thou sate By some high chalet-door, and seen The summer-day grow late; And darkness steal o'er the wet grass With the pale crocus starr'd, And reach that glimmering sheet of glass Beneath the piny sward,
Lake Leman's waters, far below! And watch'd the rosy light Fade from the distant peaks of snow; And on the air of night
Heard accents of the eternal tongue Through the pine branches play— Listen'd, and felt thyself grow young! Listen'd and wept——Away!
Away the dreams that but deceive And thou, sad guide, adieu! I go, fate drives me; but I leave Half of my life with you.
We, in some unknown Power's employ, Move on a rigorous line; Can neither, when we will, enjoy, Nor, when we will, resign.
I in the world must live; but thou, Thou melancholy shade! Wilt not, if thou canst see me now, Condemn me, nor upbraid.
For thou art gone away from earth, And place with those dost claim, The Children of the Second Birth, Whom the world could not tame; And with that small, transfigured band, Whom many a different way Conducted to their common land, Thou learn'st to think as they.
Christian and pagan, king and slave, Soldier and anchorite, Distinctions we esteem so grave, Are nothing in their sight.
They do not ask, who pined unseen, Who was on action hurl'd, Whose one bond is, that all have been Unspotted by the world.
There without anger thou wilt see Him who obeys thy spell No more, so he but rest, like thee, Unsoil'd!—and so, farewell.
Farewell!—Whether thou now liest near That much-loved inland sea, The ripples of whose blue waves cheer Vevey and Meillerie:
And in that gracious region bland, Where with clear-rustling wave The scented pines of Switzerland Stand dark round thy green grave,
Between the dusty vineyard-walls Issuing on that green place The early peasant still recalls The pensive stranger's face, And stoops to clear thy moss-grown date Ere he plods on again;— Or whether, by maligner fate, Among the swarms of men,
Where between granite terraces The blue Seine rolls her wave, The Capital of Pleasure sees The hardly heard-of grave;—
Farewell! Under the sky we part, In the stern Alpine dell. O unstrung will! O broken heart! A last, a last farewell!
OBERMANN ONCE MORE
(COMPOSED MANY YEARS AFTER THE PRECEDING)
Savez-vous quelque bien qui console du regret d'un monde?
Glion?——Ah, twenty years, it cuts All meaning from a name! White houses prank where once were huts. Glion, but not the same!
And yet I know not! All unchanged The turf, the pines, the sky! The hills in their old order ranged; The lake, with Chillon by!
And, 'neath those chestnut-trees, where stiff And stony mounts the way, The crackling husk-heaps burn, as if I left them yesterday!
Across the valley, on that slope, The huts of Avant shine! Its pines, under their branches, ope Ways for the pasturing kine.
Full-foaming milk-pails, Alpine fare, Sweet heaps of fresh-cut grass, Invite to rest the traveller there Before he climb the pass—
The gentian-flower'd pass, its crown With yellow spires aflame; Whence drops the path to Alliere down, And walls where Byron came,
By their green river, who doth change His birth-name just below; Orchard, and croft, and full-stored grange Nursed by his pastoral flow.
But stop!—to fetch back thoughts that stray Beyond this gracious bound, The cone of Jaman, pale and grey, See, in the blue profound!
Ah, Jaman! delicately tall Above his sun-warm'd firs— What thoughts to me his rocks recall, What memories he stirs!
And who but thou must be, in truth, Obermann! with me here? Thou master of my wandering youth, But left this many a year!
Yes, I forget the world's work wrought, Its warfare waged with pain; An eremite with thee, in thought Once more I slip my chain,
And to thy mountain-chalet come, And lie beside its door, And hear the wild bee's Alpine hum, And thy sad, tranquil lore!
Again I feel the words inspire Their mournful calm; serene, Yet tinged with infinite desire For all that might have been—
The harmony from which man swerved Made his life's rule once more! The universal order served, Earth happier than before!
—While thus I mused, night gently ran Down over hill and wood. Then, still and sudden, Obermann On the grass near me stood.
Those pensive features well I knew, On my mind, years before, Imaged so oft! imaged so true! —A shepherd's garb he wore,
A mountain-flower was in his hand, A book was in his breast. Bent on my face, with gaze which scann'd My soul, his eyes did rest.
"And is it thou," he cried, "so long Held by the world which we Loved not, who turnest from the throng Back to thy youth and me?
"And from thy world, with heart opprest, Choosest thou now to turn?— Ah me! we anchorites read things best, Clearest their course discern!
"Thou fledst me when the ungenial earth, Man's work-place, lay in gloom. Return'st thou in her hour of birth, Of hopes and hearts in bloom?
"Perceiv'st thou not the change of day? Ah! Carry back thy ken, What, some two thousand years! Survey The world as it was then!
"Like ours it look'd in outward air. Its head was clear and true, Sumptuous its clothing, rich its fare, No pause its action knew;
"Stout was its arm, each thew and bone Seem'd puissant and alive— But, ah! its heart, its heart was stone, And so it could not thrive!
"On that hard Pagan world disgust And secret loathing fell. Deep weariness and sated lust Made human life a hell.
"In his cool hall, with haggard eyes, The Roman noble lay; He drove abroad, in furious guise, Along the Appian way.
"He made a feast, drank fierce and fast, And crown'd his hair with flowers— No easier nor no quicker pass'd The impracticable hours.
"The brooding East with awe beheld Her impious younger world. The Roman tempest swell'd and swell'd, And on her head was hurl'd.
"The East bow'd low before the blast In patient, deep disdain; She let the legions thunder past, And plunged in thought again.
"So well she mused, a morning broke Across her spirit grey; A conquering, new-born joy awoke, And fill'd her life with day.
"'Poor world,' she cried, 'so deep accurst, That runn'st from pole to pole To seek a draught to slake thy thirst— Go, seek it in thy soul!
"She heard it, the victorious West, In crown and sword array'd! She felt the void which mined her breast, She shiver'd and obey'd.
"She veil'd her eagles, snapp'd her sword, And laid her sceptre down; Her stately purple she abhorr'd, And her imperial crown.
"She broke her flutes, she stopp'd her sports, Her artists could not please; She tore her books, she shut her courts, She fled her palaces;
"Lust of the eye and pride of life She left it all behind, And hurried, torn with inward strife, The wilderness to find.
"Tears wash'd the trouble from her face! She changed into a child! 'Mid weeds and wrecks she stood—a place Of ruin—but she smiled!
"Oh, had I lived in that great day, How had its glory new Fill'd earth and heaven, and caught away My ravish'd spirit too!
"No thoughts that to the world belong Had stood against the wave Of love which set so deep and strong From Christ's then open grave.
"No cloister-floor of humid stone Had been too cold for me. For me no Eastern desert lone Had been too far to flee.
"No lonely life had pass'd too slow, When I could hourly scan Upon his Cross, with head sunk low, That nail'd, thorn-crowned Man!
"Could see the Mother with her Child Whose tender winning arts Have to his little arms beguiled So many wounded hearts!
"And centuries came and ran their course, And unspent all that time Still, still went forth that Child's dear force, And still was at its prime.
"Ay, ages long endured his span Of life—'tis true received— That gracious Child, that thorn-crown'd Man! —He lived while we believed.
"While we believed, on earth he went, And open stood his grave. Men call'd from chamber, church, and tent; And Christ was by to save.
"Now he is dead! Far hence he lies In the lorn Syrian town; And on his grave, with shining eyes, The Syrian stars look down.
"In vain men still, with hoping new, Regard his death-place dumb, And say the stone is not yet to, And wait for words to come.
"Ah, o'er that silent sacred land, Of sun, and arid stone, And crumbling wall, and sultry sand, Sounds now one word alone!
"Unduped of fancy, henceforth man Must labour!—must resign His all too human creeds, and scan Simply the way divine!
"But slow that tide of common thought, Which bathed our life, retired; Slow, slow the old world wore to nought, And pulse by pulse expired.
"Its frame yet stood without a breach When blood and warmth were fled; And still it spake its wonted speech— But every word was dead.
"And oh, we cried, that on this corse Might fall a freshening storm! Rive its dry bones, and with new force A new-sprung world inform!
"—Down came the storm! O'er France it pass'd In sheets of scathing fire; All Europe felt that fiery blast, And shook as it rush'd by her.
"Down came the storm! In ruins fell The worn-out world we knew. It pass'd, that elemental swell! Again appear'd the blue;
"The sun shone in the new-wash'd sky, And what from heaven saw he? Blocks of the past, like icebergs high, Float on a rolling sea!
"Upon them plies the race of man All it before endeavour'd; 'Ye live,' I cried, 'ye work and plan, And know not ye are sever'd!
"'Poor fragments of a broken world Whereon men pitch their tent! Why were ye too to death not hurl'd When your world's day was spent?
"'That glow of central fire is done Which with its fusing flame Knit all your parts, and kept you one— But ye, ye are the same!
"'The past, its mask of union on, Had ceased to live and thrive. The past, its mask of union gone, Say, is it more alive?
"'Your creeds are dead, your rites are dead, Your social order too! Where tarries he, the Power who said: See, I make all things new?
"'The millions suffer still, and grieve, And what can helpers heal With old-world cures men half believe For woes they wholly feel?
"'And yet men have such need of joy! But joy whose grounds are true; And joy that should all hearts employ As when the past was new.
"'Ah, not the emotion of that past, Its common hope, were vain! Some new such hope must dawn at last, Or man must toss in pain.
"'But now the old is out of date, The new is not yet born, And who can be alone elate, While the world lies forlorn?'
"Then to the wilderness I fled.— There among Alpine snows And pastoral huts I hid my head, And sought and found repose.
"It was not yet the appointed hour. Sad, patient, and resign'd, I watch'd the crocus fade and flower, I felt the sun and wind.
"The day I lived in was not mine, Man gets no second day. In dreams I saw the future shine— But ah! I could not stay!
"Action I had not, followers, fame; I pass'd obscure, alone. The after-world forgets my name, Nor do I wish it known.
"Composed to bear, I lived and died, And knew my life was vain, With fate I murmur not, nor chide, At Sevres by the Seine
"(If Paris that brief flight allow) My humble tomb explore! It bears: Eternity, be thou My refuge! and no more.
"But thou, whom fellowship of mood Did make from haunts of strife Come to my mountain-solitude, And learn my frustrate life;
"O thou, who, ere thy flying span Was past of cheerful youth, Didst find the solitary man And love his cheerless truth—
"Despair not thou as I despair'd, Nor be cold gloom thy prison! Forward the gracious hours have fared, And see! the sun is risen!
"He breaks the winter of the past; A green, new earth appears. Millions, whose life in ice lay fast, Have thoughts, and smiles, and tears.
"What though there still need effort, strife? Though much be still unwon? Yet warm it mounts, the hour of life! Death's frozen hour is done!
"The world's great order dawns in sheen, After long darkness rude, Divinelier imaged, clearer seen, With happier zeal pursued.
"With hope extinct and brow composed I mark'd the present die; Its term of life was nearly closed, Yet it had more than I.
"But thou, though to the world's new hour Thou come with aspect marr'd, Shorn of the joy, the bloom, the power Which best befits its bard—
"Though more than half thy years be past, And spent thy youthful prime; Though, round thy firmer manhood cast, Hang weeds of our sad time
"Whereof thy youth felt all the spell, And traversed all the shade— Though late, though dimm'd, though weak, yet tell Hope to a world new-made!
"Help it to fill that deep desire, The want which rack'd our brain, Consumed our heart with thirst like fire, Immedicable pain;
"Which to the wilderness drove out Our life, to Alpine snow, And palsied all our word with doubt, And all our work with woe—
"What still of strength is left, employ That end to help attain: One common wave of thought and joy Lifting mankind again!"
—The vision ended. I awoke As out of sleep, and no Voice moved;—only the torrent broke The silence, far below.
Soft darkness on the turf did lie. Solemn, o'er hut and wood, In the yet star-sown nightly sky, The peak of Jaman stood.
Still in my soul the voice I heard Of Obermann!——away I turned; by some vague impulse stirr'd, Along the rocks of Naye
Past Sonchaud's piny flanks I gaze And the blanch'd summit bare Of Malatrait, to where in haze The Valais opens fair,
And the domed Velan, with his snows, Behind the upcrowding hills, Doth all the heavenly opening close Which the Rhone's murmur fills;—
And glorious there, without a sound, Across the glimmering lake, High in the Valais-depth profound, I saw the morning break.
STORY OF THE DRAMA
Apollodorus says:—"Cresphontes had not reigned long in Messenia when he was murdered, together with two of his sons. And Polyphontes reigned in his stead, he, too, being of the family of Hercules; and he had for his wife, against her will, Merope, the widow of the murdered king. But Merope had borne to Cresphontes a third son, called AEpytus; him she gave to her own father to bring up. He, when he came to man's estate, returned secretly to Messenia, and slew Polyphontes and the other murderers of his father."
Hyginus says:—"Merope sent away and concealed her infant son. Polyphontes sought for him everywhere in vain. He, when he grew up, laid a plan to avenge the murder of his father and brothers. In pursuance of this plan he came to king Polyphontes and reported the death of the son of Cresphontes and Merope. The king ordered him to be hospitably entertained, intending to inquire further of him. He, being very tired, went to sleep, and an old man, who was the channel through whom the mother and son used to communicate, arrives at this moment in tears, bringing word to Merope that her son had disappeared from his protector's house, and was slain. Merope, believing that the sleeping stranger is the murderer of her son, comes into the guest-chamber with an axe, not knowing that he whom she would slay was her son; the old man recognised him, and withheld Merope from slaying him. The king, Polyphontes, rejoicing at the supposed death of AEpytus, celebrated a sacrifice; his guest, pretending to strike the sacrificial victim, slew the king, and so got back his father's kingdom."