Page images
PDF
EPUB

30

And I said, “My cousin Amy, speak, and speak the truth to me,
Trust me, cousin, all the current of my being sets to thee.”
On her pallid cheek and forehead came a color and a light,
As I have seen the rosy red flushing in the northern night.
And she turned — her bosom shaken with a sudden storm of

sighsAll the spirit deeply dawning in the dark of hazel eyesSaying, “I have hid my feelings, fearing they should do me

wrong;" Saying, “Dost thou love me, cousin?” weeping, “I have loved

thee long."

35

40

Love took up the glass of Time, and turned it in his glowing

hands; Every moment, lightly shaken, ran itself in golden sands. Love took up the harp of Life, and smote on all the chords with

might; Smote the chord of Self, that, trembling, passed in music out of

sight. Many a morning on the moorland did we hear the copses ring, 45 And her whisper thronged my pulses with the fulness of the

spring

50

Many an evening by the waters did we watch the stately ships,
And our spirits rushed together at the touching of the lips.
O my cousin, shallow-hearted ! O my Amy, mine no more !
O the dreary, dreary moorland ! O the barren, barren shore !
Falser than all fancy fathoms, falser than all

sung, Puppet to a father's threat, and servile to a shrewish tongue ! Is it well to wish thee happy ?-having known me—to decline On a range of lower feelings and a narrower heart than mine!

songs have

55

Yet it shall be: thou shalt lower to his level day by day,
What is fine within thee growing coarse to sympathize with

clay.

As the husband is, the wife is: thou art mated with a clown,
And the grossness of his nature will have weight to drag thee 60

down. He will hold thee, when his passion shall have spent its novel

force, Something better than his dog, a little deårer than his horse. What is this ? his eyes are heavy: think not they are glazed with 65

wine. Go to him (it is thy duty; kiss him); take his hand in thine. It may be my lord is weary, that his brain is overwrought: Soothe him with thy finer fancies, touch him with thy lighter

thought. He will answer to the purpose, easy things to understandBetter thou wert dead before me, though I slew thee with my

hand! Better thou and I were lying, hidden from the heart's disgrace, Rolled in one another's arms, and silent in a last embrace. Curséd be the social wants that sin against the strength of

70

75

youth! Curséd be the social lies that warp us from the living truth! Curséd be the sickly forms that err from honest Nature's rule! Curséd be the gold that gilds the straitened forehead of the so

fool!

Well—'tis well that I should bluster! Hadst thou less un

worthy provedWould to God—for I had loved thee more than ever wife was loved.

85 Am I mad that I should cherish that which bears but bitter

fruit ? I will pluck it from my bosom, though my heart be at the root. Never, though my mortal summers to such length of years should

come

As the many-wintered crow that leads the clanging rookery

home.

105

Where is comfort? in division of the records of the mind ?
Can I part her from herself, and love her, as I knew her, kind?
I remember one that perished: sweetly did she speak and 95

move:
Such an one do I remember, whom to look at was to love.
Can I think of her as dead, and love her for the love she bore?
No; she never loved me truly: love is love for evermore.
Comfort ? comfort scorned of devils! This is truth the poet 100

sings, That a sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering happier

things. Drug thy memories, lest thou learn it, lest thy heart be put to

proof, In the dead, unhappy night, when the rain is on the roof. Like a dog, he hunts in dreams, and thou art staring at the wall, Where the dying night-lamp flickers and the shadows rise and

fall. Then a hand shall pass before thee, pointing to his drunken 110

sleep, To thy widowed marriage pillows, to the tears that thou wilt

weep. Thou shalt hear the “Never, never," whispered by the phantom

115 And a song from out the distance in the ringing of thine ears; And an eye shall vex thee, looking ancient kindness on thy

pain. Turn thee, turn thee on thy pillow; get thee to thy rest again. Nay, but Nature brings thee solace; for a tender voice will cry. 130 'Tis a purer life than thine; a lip to drain thy trouble dry. Baby lips will laugh me down : my latest rival brings thee rest. Baby fingers, waxen touches, press me from the mother's breast. Oh, the child, too, clothes the father with a dearness not his due. Half is thine and half is his: it will be worthy of the two.

years,

125 130

135

Oh, I see thee old and formal, fitted to thy petty part,
With a little hoard of maxims preaching down a daughter's

heart. “They were dangerous guides the feelings—she herself was not

exemptTruly, she herself had suffered.”—Perish in thy self-contempt ! Overlive it-lower yet—be happy! wherefore should I care? I myself must mix with action, lest I wither by despair. What is that which I should turn to, lighting upon days like

these? Every door is barred with gold, and opens but to golden keys. Every gate is thronged with suitors, all the markets overflow. I have but an angry fancy: what is that which I should do ? I had been content to perish, falling on the foeman's ground, When the ranks are rolled in vapor and the winds are laid with 140

sound. But the jingling of the guinea helps the hurt that Honor feels, And the nations do but murmur, snarling at each other's heels. Can I but relive in sadness ? I will turn that earlier page. Hide me from my deep emotion, O thou wondrous Mother Age! 145 Make me feel the wild pulsation that I felt before the strife, When I heard my days before me, and the tumult of my life; Yearning for the large excitement that the coming years would

yield; Eager-hearted as a boy when first he leaves his father's field, 150 And at night along the dusky highway, near and nearer drawn, Sees in heaven the light of London flaring like a dreary dawn; And his spirit leaps within him to be gone before him then, Underneath the light he looks at, in among the throngs of menMen my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something 155

new : That which they have done but earnest of the things that they

shall do.

For I dipped into the future far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be; 160
Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales;
Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rained a ghastly

dew From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue; 165 Far along the world-wide whisper of the south wind rushing

warm, With the standards of the peoples plunging through the thun

der-storm; Till the war-drum throbbed no longer, and the battle-flags were 170

furled In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world. There the common-sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in

awe, And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapped in universal law. 175 So I triumphed ere my passion sweeping through me left me

dry, Left me with the palsied heart, and left me with the jaundiced

eyeEye to which all order festers, all things here are out of joint: 180 Science moves, but slowly, slowly, creeping on from point to

point. Slowly comes a hungry people, as a lion, creeping nigher, Glares at one that nods and winks behind a slowly dying fire. Yet I doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs, 185 And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the

suns. What is that to him that reaps not harvest of his youthful joys, Though the deep heart of existence beat forever like a boy's ! Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the 190

shore, And the individual withers, and the world is more and more.

« PreviousContinue »