"Josiah Allen's Wife," (Marietta Holley)
When I wrote many of these verses I was much younger than I am now, and the "sweetest eyes in the world" would brighten over them, through the reader's love for me. I dedicate them to her memory —the memory of MY MOTHER.
WHAT MAKES THE SUMMER? THE BROTHERS A RICH MAN'S REVERIE GLORIA THE TRUE THE DEACON'S DAUGHTER SONGS OF THE SWALLOW THE COQUETTE LITTLE NELL THE FISHER'S WIFE THE LAND OF LONG AGO LEMOINE SLEEP THE LADY MAUD THE HAUNTED CASTLE THE STORY OF GLADYS FAREWELL THE KNIGHT OF NORMANDY SOMETIME MOTIVES NIGHTFALL HIS PLACE A DREAM OF SPRING WAITING A SONG FOR TWILIGHT THE FLIGHT COMFORT JENNY ALLEN THE UNSEEN CITY THE WAGES OF SIN ISABELLE AND I GOOD-BY THE SEA-CAPTAIN'S WOOING IONE SUMMER DAYS THE LADY CECILE HOME STEPS WE CLIMB SQUIRE PERCY'S PRIDE ROSES OF JUNE MAGDALENA MY ANGEL GRIEF WILD OATS AUTUMN THE FAIREST LAND THE MESSENGER SLEEP THE SONG OF THE SIREN EIGHTEEN SIXTY-TWO AWEARY TOO LOW AT LAST TWILIGHT THE SEWING-GIRL HARRY THE FIRST THE CRIMINAL'S BETROTHED GONE BEFORE A WOMAN'S HEART WARNING GENIEVE TO HER LOVER THE WILD ROSE OUR BIRD THE TIME THAT IS TO BE
All through my busy years of prose writing I have occasionally jotted down idle thoughts in rhyme. Imagining ideal scenes, ideal characters, and then, as is the way, I suppose, with more ambitious poets, trying to put myself inside the personalities I have invoked, trying to feel as they would be likely to, speak the words I fancied they would say.
The many faults of my verses I can see only too well; their merits, if they have any, I leave with the public—which has always been so kind to me—to discover.
And half-hopefully, half-fearfully, I send out the little craft on the wide sea strewn with so many wrecks. But thinking it must be safer from adverse winds because it carries so low a sail, and will cruise along so close to the shore and not try to sail out in the deep waters.
And so I bid the dear little wanderer (dear to me), God-speed, and bon voyage.
New York, June, 1887.
WHAT MAKES THE SUMMER?
It is not the lark's clear tone Cleaving the morning air with a soaring cry, Nor the nightingale's dulcet melody all the balmy night— Not these alone Make the sweet sounds of summer; But the drone of beetle and bee, the murmurous hum of the fly And the chirp of the cricket hidden out of sight— These help to make the summer.
Not roses redly blown, Nor golden lilies, lighting the dusky meads, Nor proud imperial pansies, nor queen-cups quaint and rare— Not these alone Make the sweet sights of summer But the countless forest leaves, the myriad wayside weeds And slender grasses, springing up everywhere— These help to make the summer.
One heaven bends above; The lowliest head ofttimes has sweetest rest; O'er song-bird in the pine, and bee in the ivy low, Is the same love, it is all God's summer; Well pleased is He if we patiently do our best, So hum little bee, and low green grasses grow, You help to make the summer.
High on a rocky cliff did once a gray old castle stand, From whence rough-bearded chieftains led their vassals—ruled the land. For centuries had dwelt here sire and son, till it befell, Last of their ancient line, two brothers here alone did dwell.
The eldest was stern-visaged, but the youngest smooth and fair Of countenance; both zealous, men who bent the knee in prayer To God alone; loved much, read much His holy word, And prayed above all gifts desired, that they might see their Lord.
For this the elder brother carved a silent cell of stone, And in its deep and dreary depths he entered, dwelt alone, And strove with scourgings, vigils, fasts, to purify his gaze, And sought amidst these shadows to behold the Master's face.
And from the love of God that smiles on us from bright lipped flowers, And from the smile of God that falls in sunlight's golden showers, That thrills earth's slumbering heart so, where its warm rays fall That it laughs out in beauty, turned he as from tempters all.
From bird-song running morn's sweet-scented chalice o'er with cheer, The child's light laughter, lifting lowliest souls heaven near, From tears and glad smiles, linked light and gloom of the golden day, He counting these temptations all, austerely turned away.
And thus he lived alone, unblest, and died unblest, alone, Save for a brother monk, who held the carved cross of stone In his cold, rigid clasp, the while his dying eyes did wear A look of mortal striving, mortal agony, and prayer.
Though at the very last, as his stiff fingers dropped the cross, A gleam as from some distant city swept his face across, The clay lips settled into calm—thus did the monk attest, A look of one who through much peril enters into rest.
Not thus did he, the younger brother, seek the Master's face; But in earth's lowly places did he strive his steps to trace, Wherever want and grief besought with clamorous complaint, There he beheld his Lord—naked, athirst, and faint.
And when his hand was wet with tears, wrung with a grateful grasp, He lightly felt upon his palm the Elder Brother's clasp; And when above the loathsome couch of woe and want bent he, A low voice thrilled his soul, "So have ye done it unto Me."
Despised he not the mystic ties of blood, yet did he claim The broader, wider brotherhood, with every race and name; To his own kin he kind and loyal was in truth, yet still, His mother and his brethren were all who did God's will
All little ones were dear to him, for light from Paradise Seemed falling on him through their pure and innocent eyes; The very flowers that fringed cool streams, and gemmed the dewy sod, To his rapt vision seemed like the visible smiles of God.
The deep's full heart that throbs unceasing against the silent ships, The waves together murmuring with weird, mysterious lips To hear their untranslated psalm, drew down his anointed ear, And listening, lo! he heard God's voice, to Him was he so near.
The happy hum of bees to him made summer silence sweet, Not lightly did he view the very grass beneath his feet, It paved His presence-chamber, where he walked a happy guest, Ah! slight the veil between, in very truth his life was blest.
And when on a still twilight passed he to the summer land, Those whom he had befriended, weeping, clinging to his hand, The west gleamed with a sudden glory, and from out the glow Trembled the semblance of a crown, and rested on his brow.
And with wide, eager eyes he smiled, and stretched his hands abroad, As if his dearest friend were welcoming him to his abode; Eternal silence sealed that wondrous smile as he cried— "Thy face! Thy face, dear Lord!" and, saying this, he died.
But legends tell that on his grave fell such a strange, pure light, That wine-red roses planted thereupon would spring up white, Holding such mystic healing in their cool snow bloom, that lain On aching brows or sorrowful hearts, they would ease their pain.
A RICH MAN'S REVERIE.
The years go by, but they little seem Like those within our dream; The years that stood in such luring guise, Beckoning us into Paradise, To jailers turn as time goes by Guarding that fair land, By-and-By, Where we thought to blissfully rest, The sound of whose forests' balmy leaves Swaying to dream winds strangely sweet, We heard in our bed 'neath the cottage eaves, Whose towers we saw in the western skies When with eager eyes and tremulous lip, We watched the silent, silver ship Of the crescent moon, sailing out and away O'er the land we would reach some day, some day.
But years have flown, and our weary feet Have never reached that Isle of the Blest; But care we have felt, and an aching breast, A lifelong struggle, grief, unrest, That had no part in our boyish plans; And yet I have gold, and houses, and lands, And ladened vessels a white-winged fleet, That fly at my bidding across the sea; And hats are doffed by willing hands As I tread the village street; But wealth and fame are not to me What I thought that they would be.
I turn from it all to wander back With Memory down the dusty track Of the years that lie between, To the farm-house old and brown, Shaded with poplars dusky green, I pause at its gate, not a bearded man, But a boy with earnest eyes.
I stand at the gate and look around At the fresh, fair world that before me lies. The misty mountain-top aglow With love of the sun, and the pleasant ground Asleep at its feet, with sunny dreams Of milk-white flowers in its heart, and clear The tall church-spire in the distance gleams Pointing up to the tranquil sky's Blue roof that seems so near.
And up from the woods the morning breeze Comes freighted with all the rich perfume That from myriad spicy cups distils, Loitering along o'er the locust-trees. Scattering down the plum-trees' bloom In flakes of crimson snow— Down on the gold of the daffodils That border the path below.
And the silver thread of the rivulet Tangled and knotted with fern and sedge. And the mill-pond like a diamond set In the streamlet's emerald edge; And over the stream on the gradual hill, Its headstones glimmering palely white, Is the graveyard quiet and still. I wade through its grasses rank and deep, Past slanting marbles mossy and dim, Carven with lines from some old hymn, To one where my mother used to lean On Sunday noons and weep. That tall white shape I looked upon With a mysterious dread, Linking unto the senseless stone The image of the dead— The father I never had seen; I remember on dark nights of storm, When our parlor was bright and warm, I would turn away from its glowing light, And look far out in the churchyard dim, And with infinite pity think of him Shut out alone in the dismal night.
And the ruined mill by the waterfall, I see again its crumbling wall, And I hear the water's song. It all comes back to me— Its song comes back to me, Floating out like a spirit's call The drowsy air along; Blending forever with my name Wonderful prophecies, dreamy talk, Of future paths when I should walk Crowned with manhood, and honor, and fame.
I shut my eyes and the rich perfume Of the tropical lily fills the room From its censer of frosted snow; But it seems to float to me through the night From those apple-blossoms red and white That starred the orchard's fragrant gloom; Those old boughs hanging low, Where my sister's swing swayed to and fro Through the scented aisles of the air; While her merry voice and her laugh rung out Like a bird's, to answer my brother's shout, As he shook the boughs o'er her curly head, Till the blossoms fell in a rosy rain On her neck and her shining hair. Oh, little Belle! Oh, little sister, I loved so well; It seems to me almost as if she died In that lost time so gay and fair, And was buried in childhood's sunny plain; And she who walks the street to-day, Or in gilded carriage sweeps through the town Staring her humbler sisters down, With her jewels gleaming like lucent flame, Proud of her grandeur and fine array, Is only a stranger, who bears her name.
And the little boy who played with me, Hunting birds'-nests in sheltered nooks, Trudging at nightfall after the cows, Exploring the barn-loft, fording the brooks, Ending, in school-time, puzzled brows Over the same small lesson books; Who knelt by my side in the twilight dim, Praying "the Lord our souls to keep," Then on the same pillow fell asleep, Hushed by our mother's evening hymn; Whose heart and mine kept such perfect time, Such loving cadence, such tender rhyme, Blent in child grief, and perfected in glee— We meet on the street and we clasp the hand, And our names on charitable papers stand Side by side, and we go and bow Our two gray heads with prayer and vow, In the same grand church, and hasty word Of anger, has never our bosoms stirred. Yet a whole wide world is between us now; How broad and deep does the gulf appear Between the hearts that were so near!
I have pleasure grounds and mansions grand, Low-voiced servants come at my call, From Senate my name sounds over the land In "ayes" and "nays" so solemnly read; They call me "Honorable," "General," and all, But to-night I am only Charley again, I am Charley, and want to lay my head On my mother's heart and rest, With her soft hand pressed upon my brow Curing its weary pain. But never, nevermore will it be, For mould and marble rises now Between my head and that loving breast; And death has a cruel power to part— Forever gone and lost to me That true and tender heart.
Oh, mother, I've never found love like thine, Never have eyes looked into mine With such proud love, such perfect trust. Never have hands been so true and kind, To lead me into the path of right— Hands so gentle, and soft, and white, That on my head like a blessing lay, And led me a child and guided my youth; To-night 'tis a dreary thought, in truth, That those gentle hands are dust. That I may be blamed, and you not be sad, That I may be praised, and you not be glad; 'Tis a dreary thought to your boy to-night, That over your sweet smile, over your brow, The clay-cold turf is pressing now, That never again as the twilight falls You will welcome your boy to the old brown walls Of the homestead far away.
The homestead is ruined—gone to decay, But we read of a house not made with hands, Whose firm foundation forever stands; And there is a twilight soft and sweet. Will she not stand with outstretched hands My homesick eyes to meet— To welcome her boy as in days before, To home, and to rest, forevermore?
But the years come and the years go, And they lay on her grave as they silently pass, Red summer buds and wreaths of snow, And springing and fading grass. And far away in an English town, In the secluded, tranquil shade Of an old Cathedral quaint and brown, Another grave is made— A small grave, yet so high It shadowed all the world to me, And darkened earth and sky. But only for a time; it passed, The unreasoning agony, Like a cloud that drops its rain; And light shone into our hearts at last. And patience born of pain. And now like a breath of healing balm The sweet thought comes to me, That my child has reached the Isle of Calm, Over the silent sea— That my pure little Blanche is safe in truth, Safe in immortal beauty and youth.
When she left us in the twilight gloom, When she left her empty nest, And the aching hearts below; Full well, full well I know, What tender-eyed angel bent Down for my brown-eyed little bird, From the shining battlement. I know with what fond caressing, And loving smile and word, And look of tender blessing, She took her to her breast, And led her into some quiet room, In the mansions of the blest. Oh, mother, beloved, oh, child so dear, Not by a wish, would I lure you here.
My son is a bright, brave boy, with a grace Of beauty caught from his mother's face, And his mother and he in truth are dear, Full tenderly, and fond, and near My heart is bound to my wife and child; But the summer of life is not its May, And dreams and hopes that our youth beguiled, Are but pallid forms of clay.
There's the boy's first love and passionate dream, A face like a morning star, a gleam Of hair the hue of a robin's wing— Brown hair aglow with a golden sheen, And eyes the sweetest that ever were seen.
Mary, we have been parted long, You were proud, and we both were wrong, But 'tis over and past, no living gleam Can come again to the dear, dead dream. It is dead, so let it lie, But nothing, nothing can ever be Like that old dream to you or to me.
I think we shall know, shall know at last, All that was strange in all the past, Shall one day know, and shall haply see That the sorrows and ills, that with tears and sighs, We vainly endeavored to flee, Were angels who, veiled in sorrow's guise Came to us only to bless. Maybe we shall kneel and kiss their feet, With grateful tears, when we shall meet Their unveiled faces, pure and sweet, Their eyes' deep tenderness. We shall know, perchance, had these angels come Like mendicants unto a kingly gate When we sat in joy's royal state, We had barred them from our home. But when in our doorway one appears Clothed in the purple of sorrow's power, He will enter in, no prayers or tears Avail us in that hour. So what we call our pains and losses We may not always count aright, The rough bars of our heavy crosses May change to living light.
GLORIA THE TRUE.
Gayly a knight set forth against the foe, For a fair face had shone on him in dreams; A voice had stirred the silence of his sleep, "Go win the battle, and I will be thine."
So, for the love of those appealing eyes, Led by low accents of fair Gloria's voice, He wound the bugle down his castle's steep, And gayly rode to battle in the morn.
And none were braver in the tented field, Like lightning heralding the doomful bolt; The enemy beheld his snowy plume, And death-lights flashed along his glancing spear.
But in the lonesome watches of the night, An angel came and warned him with clear voice, Against high God his rash right arm was raised, Was rashly raised against the true, the right.
He strove to drown the angel voice with song And merry laughter with his princely peers; But still the angel bade him with clear voice, "Go join the ranks you rashly have opposed."
"Oh, Angel!" cried he, "they are few and weak, They may not stand before the press of knights;" But still the angel bade him with clear voice, "Go help the weak against the mighty wrong."
At last the words sunk deep within his heart, With god-like courage cried he out at last, "Oh, Gloria, beautiful, I can lose thee, Lose life and thee, to battle for the right."
And when he joined the brave and stalwart ranks, Like Saul amid his brethren he stood, Braver and seemlier than all his peers, And nobly did he battle for the right.
Gentlest unto the weak, and in the fray, So dauntless, none—no fear of man had he; He wrought dismay in Error's blackened ranks So nobly did he battle for the right.
But at the last he lay on a lost field; Couched on a broken spear, he pallid lay; With dying lips he murmured Gloria's name, "The field is lost, and thou art lost to me."
When lo! she stood beside him, pure and fair, With tender eyes that blessed him as he lay; And lo! she knelt and clasped his dying hands, And murmured, "I am thine, am thine at last."
With wondering eyes, he moaned, "All—all is lost, And I am dying." "Ah, not so," she cried, "Nothing is lost to him who dare be true; Who gives his life shall find it evermore."
"Methought I saw the spears beat down like grain, And the ranks reel before the press of knights; The level ground ran gory with our wounds; Methought the field was lost, and then I fell."
"Be calm," she cried, "the right is never lost, Though spear, and shield, and cross may shattered be, Out of their dust shall spring avenging blades That yet shall rid us of some giant wrong.
"And all the blood that falls in righteous cause, Each crimson drop shall nourish snowy flowers And quicken golden grain, bright sheaves of good, That under happier skies shall yet be reaped.
"When right opposes wrong, shall evil win? Nay, never—but the year of God is long, And you are weary, rest ye now in peace, For so He giveth His beloved sleep."
He smiled, and murmured low, "I am content," With blissful tears that hid the battle's loss; So, held to her true heart he closed his eyes, In quietest rest that ever he had known.
THE DEACON'S DAUGHTER.
The spare-room windows wide were raised, And you could look that summer day On pastures green, and sunny hills, And low rills wandering away. Near by, the square front yard was sweet With rose and caraway.
Upon a couch drawn near the light, The Deacon's only daughter lay, Bending upon the distant hills Her eyes of dark and thoughtful gray; The blue veins on her forehead shone 'Twas wasted so away.
She moved, and from her slender hand Fell off her mother's wedding-ring; She smiled into her father's face— "So drops from me each earthly thing; My hands are free to hold the flowers Of the eternal spring."
She had ever walked in quiet ways, Not over beds of flowery ease, But Sundays in the village choir She sweetly sang of "ways of peace," Of "ways of peace and pleasantness," She trod such paths as these.
No sweeter voice in all the choir Praised God in innocence and truth, The Deacon in his straight-backed pew Had dreams of her he lost in youth, And thought of fair-faced Hebrew maids— Of Rachel, and of Ruth.
But she had faded, day by day, Growing more mild, and pure, and sweet, As nearer to her ear there came A distant sea's mysterious beat, Till now this summer afternoon, Its waters touched her feet.
Upon the painted porch without Two women stood, and whispered low, They thought "she'd go out with the day," They said, "the Deacon's wife went so." And then they gently pitied him— "It was a dreadful blow."
"But she was good, she was prepared, She would be better off than here," And then they thought "'twas strange that he, Her father, had not shed a tear," And then they talked of news, and all The promise of the year.
Her father sat beside the bed, Holding her cold hands tenderly, And to the everlasting hills He mutely turned his eyes away: "My God, my Shelter, and my Rock, Oh shadow me to-day!"
He knew not when she crossed the stream, And passed into the land unseen, So gently did she go from him Into its pastures still and green; Into the land of pure delight, And Jordan rolled between.
Then knelt he down beside his dead, His white locks lit with sunset's flame: "My God! oh leave me not alone— But blessed be Thy holy name." The golden gates were lifted up The King of Glory came.
SONGS OF THE SWALLOW.
The sides of the hill were brown, but violet buds had started In gray and hidden nooks o'erhung by feathery ferns and heather, And a bird in an April morn was never lighter-hearted Than the pilot swallow we saw convoying sunny weather, And sunshine golden, and gay-voiced singing-birds into the land; And this was the song—the clear, shrill song of the swallow, That it carolled back to the southern sun, and his brown winged band, Clear it arose, "Oh, follow me—come and follow—and follow."
A tender story was in his eyes, he wished to tell me I knew, As he stood in the happy morn by my side at the garden-gate; But I fancy the tall rose branches that bent and touched his brow, Were whispering to him, "Wait, impatient heart, oh, wait, Before the bloom of the rose is the tender green of the leaf; Not rash is he who wisely followeth patient Nature's ways, The lily-bud of love should be swathed in a silken sheaf, Unfolding at will to summer bloom in the warm and perfect days."
So silently sailed the early sun, through clouds of fleecy white; So stood we in dreamy silence, enwrapped in a tender spell; But the pulses of soft Spring air were quickened to fresh delight, For I read in his eye the story sweet, he longed, yet feared to tell; It spoke from his heart to mine, and needed no word from his mouth, And high o'er our heads rang out the happy song of the swallow; It cried to the sunshine and beauty and bloom of the South, Exultingly carolling clear, "Oh, follow me—oh, follow."
SPRING SONG OF THE SWALLOW.
Oh, the days are growing longer; So rang the jubilant song of the swallow; I come a-bringing beauty into the land, The sky of the West grows warm and yellow, Oh, gladness comes with my light-winged band, And the days are growing longer.
Oh, the days are growing longer, The wavy gleam of fluttering wings, Touching the silent earth so lightly, Will wake all the sleeping, beautiful things, The world will glow so brightly—brightly; And the days are growing longer.
Oh, the days are growing longer, All the rivulets dumb will laugh, and run Over the meadows with dancing feet; Following the silvery plough of the sun, Will be furrows filled with wild flowers sweet: And the days are growing longer.
Oh, the days are growing longer; Over whispering streams will rushes lean, To answer the waves' soft murmurous call; The lily will bend from its watch-tower green, To list to the lark's low madrigal, And the days are growing longer.
Oh, the days are growing longer; When they lengthen to ripe and perfect prime, Then, oh, then, I will build my happy nest; And all in that pleasant and balmy time, There never will be a bird so blest; And the days are growing longer.
* * * * *
Now sinks the Summer sun into the sea; Sure never such a sunset shone as this, That on its golden wing has borne such bliss; Dear Love to thee and me.
Ah, life was drear and lonely, missing thee, Though what my loss I did not then divine; But all is past—the sweet words, thou art mine, Make bliss for thee and me.
How swells the light breeze o'er the blossoming lea, Sure never winds swept past so sweet and low, No lonely, unblest future waiteth now; Dear Love for thee and me.
Look upward o'er the glowing West, and see, Surely the star of evening never shone With such a holy radiance—oh, my own, Heaven smiles on thee and me.
SUMMER SONG OF THE SWALLOW.
You will journey many a weary day and long, Ere you will see so restful and sweet a place, As this, my home, my nest so downy and warm, The labor of many happy and hopeful days; But its low brown walls are laid and softly lined, And oh, full happily now my rest I take, And care not I when it lightly rocks in the wind, For the branch above though it bends will never break; And close by my side rings out the voice of my mate—my lover; Oh, the days are long, and the days are bright—and Summer will last forever.
Now the stream that divides us from perfect bliss Seems floating past so narrow—so narrow, You could span its wave such a morn as this, With a moment winged like a golden arrow, And the sweet wind waves all the tasselled broom, And over the hill does it loitering come, Oh, the perfect light—oh, the perfect bloom, And the silence is thrilled with the murmurous hum Of the bees a-kissing the red-lipped clover; Oh, the days are long, and the days are bright—and Summer will last forever.
When the West is a golden glow, and lower The sun is sinking large and round, Like a golden goblet spilling o'er, Glittering drops that drip to the ground— Then I spread my lustrous wings and cleave the air Sailing high with a motion calm and slow, Far down the green earth lies like a picture fair, Then with rapid wing I sink in the shining glow; A-chasing the glinting, gleaming drops; oh, a diver Am I in a clear and golden sea, and Summer will last forever.
The leaves with a pleasant rustling sound are stirred Of a night, and the stars are calm and bright; And I know, although I am only a little bird, One large serious star is watching me all the night, For when the dewy leaves are waved by the breeze, I see it forever smiling down on me. So I cover my head with my wing, and sleep in peace, As blessed as ever a little bird can be; And the silver moonlight falls over land and sea and river, And the nights are cool, and the nights are still, and Summer will last forever.
I think you would journey many and many a day, Ere you so contented and blest a bird would see; Not all the wealth of the world could lure my love away, For my brown little nest is all the world to me; And care not I if brighter bowers there are Lying close to the sun—where tall palms pierce the sky; Oh, you would journey a weary way and a far, Ere you would behold a bird so blest as I; And singing close to my side is my mate—my kin—my lover; Oh, the days are long, and the days are bright—and Summer will last forever.
* * * * *
Yes! yes! I dare say it is so, And you should be pitied, but how could I know, Watching alone by the moon-lit bay; But that is past for many a day, For the woman that loved, died years ago, Years ago.
She had loving eyes, with a wistful look In their depths that day, and I know you took Her face in your hands and read it o'er, As if you should never see it more; You were right, for she died long years ago, Years ago.
Had I trusted you—for trust, you know Will keep love's fire forever aglow; Then what would have mattered storm or sun, But the watching—the waiting, all is done; For the woman that loved, died years ago, Years ago.
Yes; I think you are constant, true and good, I am tired, and would love you if I could; I am tired, oh, friend, tired out; and yet, Can we make sweet morn of the dim sunset? The woman that loved, died years ago, Years ago.
Not a pulse of my heart is stirred by you, No; even your tears cannot move me now; So leave me alone, what is said is said, What boots your prayers, she is dead! is dead! The woman you loved, long years ago, Years ago.
AUTUMN SONG OF THE SWALLOW.
The sky is dark and the air is full of snow, I go to a warmer clime afar and away; Though my heart is so tired I do not care for it now, But here in my empty nest I cannot stay; Thus cried the swallow, I go from the falling snow, oh, follow me—oh, follow.
One night my mate came home with a broken wing, So he died; and my brood went long ago; And I am alone, and I have no heart to sing, With no one to hear my song, and I must go; Thus cried the swallow, Away from dust and decay, oh, follow me—oh, follow.
But I think I will never find so warm and safe a nest, As my home, in the pleasant days gone by, gone by, I think I shall never fold my wings in such happy rest, Never again—oh, never again till I die; Thus cried the swallow, But I go from the falling snow, oh, follow me—oh, follow.
How can I be to blame? Is it my fault I am fair? I did not fashion my features, Or brush the gold in my hair; Because my eyes are so blue and bright, Must I never look up from the ground, But put out with my eyelids' snow their light, Lest some foolish heart they should wound?
How can I be in fault? I am sure where hearts are so few, It is difficult to discern The diamonds of paste from the true; I thought him like all the rest, Skilful in playing his part; As careful at cards or at chess, As winning a woman's heart.
I am sure it is nothing wrong, Nothing to think of—and yet I know I lured him with glance and song, Into my shining net; Provokingly cold at first he seemed, Like crystal to smiles and sighs, But at last he felt the magic that gleamed In my dreamy violet eyes.
And I led him on and on, Farther, in truth, than I strove, For he frightened me with the earnestness And violence of his love; These calm-eyed men deceive— Had I known the man had a heart, I would have paused, I would, I believe, Have acted a different part.
In his royal indignation He uttered some wholesome truth— He almost roused the emotion That died in my innocent youth; Emotion that lived when life was new, Ere that man my pathway crossed, Who played me a game untrue, When I staked all my love, and lost.
Oh for a saintly beauty, What efforts my soul did make; I thought all goodness and purity Were possible for his sake; The world seemed born anew, my life Such holy meaning wore, I fancy so fair and fond a dream Never fell into ruins before.
He toyed with my fresh affection As he breathed the country air, To refresh him after a season Of fashion, and falsehood, and glare; Had he not slain my tenderness, Had my life been more sweet, I might have known nobler happiness Than to humble men to my feet.
But now I love to lure them on, To make them slaves to my gaze, Like serfs to a conqueror's chariot, Like moths to a candle-blaze. I melt most royally time, the pearl, And quaff the cup like a queen, And forget in the dizzy tumult and whirl, The woman I might have been.
Clasp your arms round her neck to-night, Little Nell, Arms so delicate, soft and white, And yet so strong in love's strange might; Clasp them around the kneeling form, Fold them tenderly close and warm, And who can tell But such slight links may draw her back, Away from the fatal, fatal track; Who can tell, Little Nell?
Press your lips to the lips of snow, Little Nell; Oh baby heart, may you never know The anguish that makes them quiver so; But now in her weakness and mortal pain, Let your kisses fall like a dewy rain, And who can tell But your innocent love, your childish kiss May lure her back from the dread abyss; Who can tell, Little Nell.
Lay your cheek on her aching breast, Little Nell; To you 'tis a refuge of holy rest, But a dying bird never drooped its crest With a deadlier pain in its wounded heart; Ah! love's sweet links may be torn apart, Little Nell; The altar may flame with gems and gold, And splendor be bought, and peace be sold, But is it well, Little Nell?
Veil her face with your tresses bright, Little Nell; Hide that vision out of her sight— Those dark dark eyes with their tender light— Uplift your pure face, can it be She will bid farewell to heaven and thee, Little Nell? No; your mute lips plead with eloquent power, Her tears fall like a tropic shower; All is well, Little Nell.
Close your blue eyes now in sleep, Little Nell; Her angel smiles to see her weep; At morn a ship will cleave the deep, And one alone will be borne away, And one will clasp thee close, and pray; Oh Little Nell, Never, never beneath the sun, Will you dream what you this night have done, Done so well, Little Nell.
THE FISHER'S WIFE.
A long, low waste of yellow sand Lay shining northward far as eye could reach, Southward a rocky bluff rose high Broken in wild, fantastic shapes. Near by, one jagged rock towered high, And o'er the waters leaned, like giant grim, Striving to peer into the mysteries The ocean whispers of continually, And covers with her soft, treacherous face. For the rest, the sun was sinking low Like a great golden globe, into the sea; Above the rock a bird was flying In dizzy circles, with shrill cries, And on a plank floated from some wreck, With shreds of musty seaweed Clinging to it yet, a woman sat Holding a child within her arms; A sweet-faced woman—looking out to sea With dark, patient eyes, and singing to the child, And this the song she in the sunset sang:
Thine eyes are brown, my beauty, brown and bright, Drowned deep in languor now, the angel Sleep Is clasping thee within her arms so white, Bearing thee up the dreamland's sunny steep. Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.
Thy father's boat, I see its swaying shroud Like a white sea-gull, swinging to and fro Against the ledges of a crimson cloud, A tiny bird with flutt'ring wing of snow. Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.
Thy father toils beyond the harbor bar, And, singing at his toil, he thinks of thee; Lit by the red lamp of the evening star Home will he come, will come to thee and me, Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.
His cabin shall be bright with flowers sweet, The table shall be set, the fire shall glow, We'll wait within the door, his coming steps to greet, And if my eye be sad, he will not know— Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.
He will not pause to ponder things so slight, He is not one a smile to prize or miss; Yet he would shield us with a strong arm's might, And he will meet us with a loving kiss— Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.
But would I could forget those other days When if with gayer gleam mine eyes had shone, Or shade of sorrow, gentlest eyes would gaze With tender questioning into my own. Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.
Thine eyes are brown—thou hast thy father's eyes, But those, my darling, those were clear and blue, Ah, me! how sorrowfully that sea-bird cries, Cries for its mate, oh, tender bird and true; My, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.
Oh, of my truest love well worthy he, And near was I, ah, nearest to his heart; But ships are parted on the dreary sea Swept by the waves, forever swept apart— Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.
And sometimes sad-eyed women sighing say, Sweet love is lost, all that remains is rest, So in their weakness they are lured to lay Their head upon some strong and loving breast. Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.
Our cabin stands upon the dreary sands, And it is sad to be alone, alone. But on my bosom thou hast lain thy hands, Near to me art thou, near, my precious one— My, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.
The red light faded as she sung, A chill breeze rose and swept across the sea, She drew her cloak still closer round the child, And turned toward the cabin; As she went a faint glow glimmered In the east, and slowly rose— The silver crescent of the moon. Another, paler light, than the warm sunset glow, But clear enough to guide her home.
THE LAND OF LONG AGO.
Now while the crimson light fades in the west, And twilight drops her purple shadows low— We stand with Memory on the mountain's crest, That overlooks the land of Long Ago.
Unmoved and still the form beside us stands, While mournful tears our heavy eyes o'erflow, As silently he lifts his shadowy hands, And points us to the land of Long Ago.
It lies in beauty 'neath our sad eyes' range, Bathed in a richer light, a warmer glow; For fairer moons, and sunsets rare and strange, Illume the landscape of the Long Ago.
We see its vales of peace, its hills of light Shine in the rosy air, ah! well we know— That nevermore will bless our yearning sight, So fair and dear a land as Long Ago.
We see the gleaming spires of those high halls We garnished with bright gems and precious show; No foot within the gilded doorway falls, Empty the rooms within the Long Ago.
Troops of white doves still haunt the shining towers, And fold in blissful calm, their wings of snow; We bade them build their nests in brighter bowers, But still they linger in the Long Ago.
There in its sunny bay stand stately ships, We freighted for fair lands where we would go; Still gleams our gold within their secret crypts, Becalmed beside the shore of Long Ago.
Between that land and this of dread and doubt, The silent years have drifted trackless snow; Hiding the pathway where we wandered out, Forever from the land of Long Ago.
In the unquiet night, With all her beauty bright, She walketh my silent chamber to and fro; Not twice of the same mind, Sometimes unkind—unkind, And again no cooing dove hath a voice so sweet and low.
Such madness of mirth lies In the haunting hazel eyes, When the melody of her laugh charms the listening night; Its glamour as of old My charmed senses hold, Forget I earth and heaven in the pleasures of sense and sight.
With sudden gay caprice Quaint sonnets doth she seize, Wedding them unto sweetness, falling from crimson lips; Holding the broidered flowers Of those enchanted hours, When she wound my will with her silk round her white finger-tips.
Then doth she silent stand, Lifting her slender hand, On which gleams the ring I tore from his hand at Baywood; The tiny opal hearts Are broken in two parts, And where the ruby burned there hangeth a drop of blood.
Then with my burning cheek, Raising my head, I speak, "Lemoine, Lemoine, my lost! Oh, speak to me once, I pray!" But no word will she deign, Adown the shining lane, The long and lustrous lane of the moonlight she glides away.
I fancy oft a stir, Of wings seem following her, Trailing a terrible gloom along the oaken floor, As she walks to and fro; Louder the strange sounds grow To a nameless, dreadful horror, that floods the chamber o'er.
And then I raise my head From terror-haunted bed, And hush my breath, and my very pulses hush and hark; But as I glance around, The stir, the murmuring sound, Dies away in the moonlight, lying there stiff and stark.
* * * * *
And thus you ever flee, Elude and baffle me, My lady you will not always so lightly glide away; Though on the swiftest breeze, You sail o'er farthest seas, Remember, side by side we two will stand one day.
Though my dust feed the wind, Yours be with prayer consigned To the keeping of churchyard seraphs and marble saints; Lemoine, we two shall meet, And not then at my feet Will you fetter a late repentance with wiles and tearful plaints.
Repentance and strong, That would have found a tongue, And shrieked the truth to heaven with madd'ning din; The truth of that dread hour, That black accursed hour, When to free you from hated fetters, I plunged my soul in sin.
Whatever wise man thinks, Sin forges strongest links, You can break them never, although for a time you may hide Buried in flowers and wine; This chain of thine and mine, At the last dread day of doom will draw us side by side.
If one, then both are cursed, And come the best, the worst, Forever and ever your fate and mine are entwined; And though it be mad—mad, Heaven knows the thought is glad, I do not breed my thoughts, how can I help my mind.
* * * * *
So silent doth she come, Standing here pale and dumb, With her finger laid on her lips in a warning way; Her dark eyes looking back, As if upon her track And mine, some phantom shape of impending evil lay.
But when I strive to see, Of what she's warning me, Cruelly calm, no sign will she deign to love or fears; Unheeding vow or prayer, As noiseless as the air, She glideth into the pallid moonlight and disappears.
Come to me soft-eyed sleep, With your ermine sandalled feet; Press the pain from my troubled brow With your kisses cool and sweet; Lull me with slumbrous song, Song of your clime, the blest, While on my heavy eyelids Your dewy fingers rest.
Come with your native flowers, Heartsease and lotus bloom, Enwrap my weary senses With the cloud of their perfume; For the whispers of thought tire me, Their constant, dull repeat, Like low waves throbbing, sobbing, With endless, endless beat.
THE LADY MAUD.
I sit in the cloud and the darkness Where I lost you, peerless one; Your bright face shines upon fairer lands, Like the dawning of the sun, And what to you is the rustic youth, You sometimes smiled upon.
You have roamed through mighty cities, By the Orient's gleaming sea, Down the glittering streets of Venice, And soft-skied Araby: Life to you has been an anthem, But a solemn dirge to me.
For everywhere, by Rome's bright hills, Or by the silvery Rhine, You win all hearts to you, where'er Your glancing tresses shine; But, darling, the love of the many, Is not a love like mine.
Last night I heard your voice in my dreams, I woke with a joyous thrill To hear but the half-awakened birds, For the dark dawn lingered still, And the lonesome sound of the waters, At the foot of Carey's hill.
Oh the pines are dark on Carey's hill, And the waters are black below, But they shone like waves of jasper Upon one day I know, The day I bore you out of the stream, With your face as white as snow.
You lay like a little lamb in my arms, So frail a thing, so weak, And my coward lips said burning words They never had dared to speak If they had not felt the chill of your brow, And the marble of your cheek.
Life had been but a bitter gift, That I fain would have thrown away, But I could have thanked my God on my knees, For giving me life that day, As I took you, lying so helpless, From the gates of death away.
How your noble kinsmen laughed and wept O'er their treasure snatched from the flood, And your white-faced brother brought me gold— You loved him, or I could Have obeyed the fiend that told me To curse him where he stood.
Gold! Oh, darling, they had no need Such insults to repeat; I knew the Heaven was above the earth, I knew, I knew, my sweet, I was not worthy to touch the shoes That covered your dainty feet.
I knew as you laid your hand in mine, So kind as I turned away, That we were severed as wide apart, That hour, as we are to-day, And you in your stately English home, So far, so far away.
That soft white hand you laid in mine With a smile as I turned to go, Oh, Lady Maud, I marvel If you ever stoop so low, As to wonder what those tears meant, That glittered on its snow.
But I know if you had dreamed the truth Your beautiful dark brown eyes Would only have grown more gentle, With a sorrowful surprise; For a nobler and a kinder heart Ne'er beat beneath the skies.
You never meant to give me pain, But oh, 'twas a cruel good, I so low in the world's esteem, You of such noble blood, That you stooped to as gentle words and deeds, As ever an angel could.
I blessed you for your brightness When you came unto our shore, For the dull earth caught a beauty It never had before; But you left a lonesome shadow, That will lie there evermore.
How proud the good ship bore you Adown the golden bay, The sun's last light upon its sails— I stood there mournfully; For I know it left the darkness— Took the sunlight all away.
THE HAUNTED CASTLE.
It stands alone on a haunted shore, With curious words of deathless lore On its massive gate impearled; And its carefully guarded mystic key Locks in its silent mystery From the seeking eyes of the world.
Oft do its stately walls repeat Echoes of music wildly sweet Swelling to gladness high— With mournful ballads of ancient time, And funeral hymns—and a nursery rhyme Dying away in a sigh.
Pictures out of each haunted room, Up through the ghostly shadows loom, And gleam with a spectral light; Pictures lit with a radiant glow, And some that image such desolate woe That, weeping, you turn from the sight.
Shining like stars in the twilight gloom Brows as white as a lily's bloom Gleam from its lattice and door; And voices soft as a seraph's note, Through its mysterious chambers float Back from eternity's shore.
In the mournful silence of midnight air You hear on its stately and winding stair The echoes of fairy feet. Gentle footsteps that lightly fall Through the enchanted castle hall, And up in the golden street.
And still in a dark forsaken tower, Crowned with a withered cypress flower, Is a bowed head turned away; A face like carved marble white, Sweet eyes drooping away from the light, Shunning the eye of day.
And oft when the light burns low and dim A haggard form ungainly and grim Unbidden enters the door; With chiding eyes whose burning light You fain would bury in darkness and night, Never to meet you more.
Mysteries strange its still walls keep, Strange are the forms that through it sweep— Walking by night and by day. But evermore will the castle hall Echo their footsteps' phantom fall, Till its walls shall crumble away.
THE STORY OF GLADYS.
"I leave my child to Heaven." And with these words Upon her lips, the Lady Mildred passed Unto the rest prepared for her pure soul; Words that meant only this: I cannot trust Unto her earthly parent my young child, So leave her to her heavenly Father's care; And Heaven was gentle to the motherless, And fair and sweet the maiden, Gladys, grew, A pure white rose in the old castle set, The while her father rioted abroad.
But as the day drew near when he should give, By his dead lady's will, his child her own, He having basely squandered all her wealth To him intrusted, to his land returned, And thrilled her trusting heart with terrors vague, Of peril, of some shame to come to him, Did she not yield unto his prayer—command, That she would to Our Lady's convent go, Forget the world and save him from disgrace.
But hidden as she had been all her life From tender human ties, she loved the world With all her loving heart, the fresh, free world That God had made, and this life seemed to her As but a living death. A living tomb The harsh stone walls that from the convent frowned Upon the peaceful valley sweet with flowers. The beautiful green valley, threaded by Bright rivulets that sought the quiet lake, Dear haunts sought daily by her maiden feet. And "wilt thou not, for my sake?" and "thou shalt To save thy sire from shame!" so wore the days, And still she did not promise, though she wept At his wild pleadings, trembled at his rage; Then of her mother's dying words he thought— Her dying words—"I leave my child to Heaven." And twisting them with his own wishes, wove A chain therewith that bound her wavering will; A chain made mighty by the golden threads Of rev'rence and of holy memories. And so with heavy heart she gave her vow, That in the autumn she would leave the world, But first for one free summer did she pray.
And through those bright spring days she roamed abroad, And poured upon the winds her low complaints; The while her dark soft eyes sought all the earth, The beauteous earth that she too soon must leave; And all her mournful murmurs ended thus With this sad cry of, "Oh, the happy world!" Ended with these low words as a sigh, I will obey, but, "oh, the happy world!"
Oh, wondrous beauty of the morning skies! Oh, wide green fields with beady dew impearled! The lark soars upward, singing as she flies, Oh, wave of free, swift wings, oh, happy world!
Oh, wordless wonder of the evening sky, Far ivory citadels with flags unfurled; Deep sapphire seas where rosy fleets float by The golden shores remote; oh, happy world!
Oh, my blue violets by the laughing brook! My shy, sweet darlings, in your green leaves curled, Bright eyes, sometime you will all vainly look For me, your lover. Oh, the happy world!
So passed the days of spring, and she must sign Dull papers to appease the hungry law, And to the castle down a writer came; No graybeard old, and dryer than his tomes, A tall, fair-faced youth, with bright, bold gaze, And blood that leaped afresh like crimson wine, Rash blood that led him to leap o'er a gate Five-barred, within the mossy park, upon The knight's old stumbling steed that played him false To its own harm, for which it lost its life, More fortunate the youth, though bruised he, And bleeding from his many grievous wounds, And Gladys tended him with gentlest care Till love crept in and took the place of pain, And in her heart took Pity's weeping place And dwelt a king. He knew she was the bride Of Heaven, not to be vexed with earthly love, But yet, upon the last night of his stay, As by the lake's low marge he met the maid, And saw her soft eyes fall before his own, He laid an almond blossom in her hand, A blossom that both sweet and bitter is, And said but this, "Say, is dear love a dream?"
"Nay, not a dream," she murmured, looking out To where the light upon the waters lay, A golden pathway leading to the sun, "Dear love the wakening is, this life we live Is but a dream." Then with a sudden hope He would have caught her hands, but no, she clasped Them o'er the snowy muslin on her breast, And on her heart like drops of crimson blood, There lay the almond blossoms, bitter, sweet; And far away her pure eyes looked adown That shining path across the summer sea, "Nay, life a long dream is, a sleep that lasts Until we waken in the land of love." But though thus calmly did she speak to him, When he had gone to hide his breaking heart As best he might, to bravely bide his time, And do his life work as she bade him do, Then all her lonely haunts echoed this cry, This cry of deeper anguish—"Oh, my heart!"
Why did I pray for one more summer bright, The outward world but held me in time past; Now, life and love have added links of might, A chain that fetters me, that holds me fast; I will, I will obey, but oh, my heart!
My life was like some little mountain spring By slight waves stirred till some deep overflow Swift breaks its peace, then with its risen king Down to the mighty deep it needs must go; Thus did I follow love, but oh, my heart!
For dear love sought me, claimed me for his own, And called me with his voice so strong, so low, I followed unto bliss, thou hapless one, I did bethink me of my cruel vow, The vow I will obey, but oh, my heart!
And through the long, still nights this cry was hers, As on her couch she lay till dreary dawn, Her large eyes dark with horror looking out Upon the pitchy darkness unafraid. And as the breathings of the new spring breeze, Soft sights of sad complaint, to autumn's storms That hold the burdened sorrow of a year, Was this, her sigh of, "oh, the happy world!" To this despairing cry of, "oh, my heart!" And as the year's late winds leave pale and chill The earth, so did this weary cry of hers So oft repeated leave her lips like snow. And oft the lonely midnight heard her moan Of hopes foregone, that women hold most dear.
"No little ones to ever cling to me In closest love, look on me through his eyes And call me mother, bless me with his smile." Then low in tearful prayer her voice would sound Despairing, wailing, through the lonely room, The silent turret chamber steep and high, "Thou maiden mother, Mary, knows my heart, Thou who didst love and suffer, look on me, Oh, pity me, sweet mother of the Christ!"
Then would the passion of her woe die out In dreary calm, and as a chidden child Who cries himself to rest, sobs in his sleep, So pitifully would sound the latest words— "I will, I will be patient, and obey." But all the long days' silent anguish, all These secret trysts she kept alone with pain Wore her meek face, till like a spirit's looked It, gleaming white from out her shadowy hair, And so the last day came, the day of doom, The dreaded day when she should leave the world.
But He who holdeth little useless birds In His protecting care, looked tenderly Upon this patient soul, so sorely tried. This sweet soul purified by all its pain, For on this day, so fair a morn, it seemed A heavenly peace sunk down to this sad earth From gate ajar, the bright and pearly gate Swung widely open for an angel guest. A faithful servant climbed the winding stair, Sent by her eager father with the dawn To rouse her, tell her that the hour had come When she to save his name should leave the world. And as the woman stood beside the couch She said, "Sweet soul, she talks out in her sleep." For there she lay with closed eyes murmuring low, With mournful brow and sad lips, "oh, dear love." Then cried out with a sob, "'tis not a dream." Then spake of blood-red blossoms, bitter, sweet, And with her white lips sighing this, she sunk Into what seemed to be a dreamless sleep.
And as the loving servant weeping stood, Loath to awake her to her evil doom, She opened her large violet eyes, and gazed Upon the morning sunlight stealing in; The clear light trembling, growing on the wall, And as she looked, her eyes grew like the eyes Of blessed angels looking on their Lord. And high toward Heaven she lifted up her hands, Then clasped them in content upon her breast, And cried out in a glad voice, "oh, my heart!" And with such glory lighting up her face, As if the flood of joy had filled her heart, And overrun her lips with blissful smiles She left the world, and saved her sire from shame.
Lift up your brown eyes, darling, Not timidly and shy, As in the fair, lost past, not thus I'd have you meet my eye. But grave, and calm, and earnest, Thus bravely should we part, Not sorrowfully, not lightly, And so farewell, dear heart.
Yes, fare thee well, farewell, Whate'er shall me betide May gentlest angels comfort thee, And peace with thee abide; Our love was but a stormy love, 'Tis your will we should part— So smile upon me once, darling, And then farewell, dear heart.
But lay your hand once on my brow, Set like a saintly crown, It will shield me, it will help me To hurl temptations down. God give thee better love than mine— Nay, dear, no tears must start, See, I am quiet, thou must be, And now farewell, dear heart.
THE KNIGHT OF NORMANDY.
Clear shone the moon, my mansion walls Towered white above the wood, Near, down the dark oak avenue An humble cottage stood.
My gardener's cottage, small and brown, Yet precious unto me; For there she dwelt, who sat by me That night beside the sea.
So sweet, the white rose on her neck Was not more fair than she, As silently her soft brown eyes Looked outward o'er the sea.
So still, the muslin o'er her heart Seemed with no breath to stir, As silently she sat and heard The tale I told to her.
"It was a knight of Normandy, He vowed on his good sword He would not wed his father's choice, The Lady Hildegarde.
"Near dwelt the beauteous Edith, A lowly maiden she—" Ah! still unmoved, her dark sweet eyes Looked far away from me.
"Dearer to him one blossom small That had but touched her hand, Than all the high-born beauties— The ladies of the land.
"Dearer to him," quick came my breath As I looked down on her, But the white roses in her hand No lightest leaf did stir.
Ah! wistfully I read her face, Full gently did I speak, No light dawned in her tender eye, No flush stole o'er her cheek.
"He wore her colors on the field, He went where brave hearts were; Ah, gallantly and nobly He fought for love of her.
"He loved her with his whole true heart," Now like a sudden flame Up to her cheek so pure and white, A flood of crimson came.
Her hands unclasped, down to her feet My flowers unnoticed shook; I leaned and followed with my gaze Her glad and eager look.
I saw a boat sweep round the rock, Rowed with a steady grace; I saw the fisher's manly form, His brown and handsome face.
"For love of her, to victory He his brave squadron led, Then broke his true heart, and her scarf Pillowed his dying head.
"So died this knight of Normandy, Died with his sword unstained;" I know not that she heard my words, So near the boat had gained.
I said, Heaven bless her, in my heart, She had no thought for me; I turned away and left them there Beside the beating sea.
Behind me lay the sweet moonlight, My shadow went before, And passed a dark and gloomy shape Before me through the door.
Oh strange and sad this life of ours, This life beneath the sun; O sad and strange and full of pain God help us, every one.
God help us, that we may endure Like him of Normandy; And die with sword unstained, that has Led us to victory.
On the shore I sit and gaze Out on the twilight sea, For my ship may come, though many days I have waited patiently; With waiting trusting eyes, A lonely watch I keep For its silver sails to rise Like a blossom out of the deep.
It is built of a costly wood, Bearing the strange perfume Of the gorgeous solitude, Where it grew in tropical gloom; And the odorous scent, the spicy balm Of its isle it will bear to me, As I stand on the shore, in the magic calm. And my ship come in from sea.
It is laden with all that is sweet Of the beauty of every clime; Slowly and proudly 'twill glide to my feet In the eve of that fair "Sometime," Before me its sails will be furled, A princess I shall be, Crowned with the wealth of the world, When my ship comes in from sea.
Sweet faces I then shall see, Tender, undoubting, true, Soft hands will be stretched to me With a welcome I never knew; In the peace of such tenderness I shall rest forevermore, And weep in my perfect bliss, As I never wept before.
Sometimes I think it is not far And I bend my head and list, For I think I see a slender spar Gleam through the golden mist; And I fancy I hear the sound Of wind in a silken sail, And an odor rare from Eastern ground, Floats in on the languid gale.
But I sit and watch the west Till the sun goes down, in vain; It was only a cloud with an ivory crest, A cloud of vapor and rain; It rises and hides the sea, And my heart grows chill and numb, Lest this terrible thing should be, That my ship will never come.
But the morn is bright—the wave Is a golden and shining track, Softly the waters the white sands lave, And my trusting faith comes back; Oh, all that I ever lost, And all that I long to be, Will be mine when the deep is crossed, And my ship comes home from sea.
I said that I would see Her once, to curse her fair, deceitful grace, To curse her for my life-long agony; But when I saw her face, I said, "Sweet Christ, forgive both her and me."
High swelled the chanted hymn, Low on the marble swept the velvet pall, I bent above, and my eyes grew dim, My sad heart saw it all— She loved me, loved me though she wedded him.
And then shot through my soul A thrill of fierce delight, to think that he Must yield her form, his all, to Death's control, The while her love for me Would live, when sun and stars had ceased to roll.
But no, on the white brow, Graved in its marble, was deep calm impressed, Saying that peace had come to her through woe; Saying, she had found rest At last, and I, I must not love her now.
It may be in Heaven's grace, Beneath the shade of some immortal palm, That God will let me see her angel face; Then wild, wild heart be calm, Wipe out that old love, every sorrowful trace.
I know that if it be, We two should meet again in Paradise, 'Twould trouble her pure soul if she should see The old grief in my eyes; 'Twould grieve her dear heart through eternity.
Wipe out that grief, my soul, And shall I lose all love, in losing this? Unclasp my spirit, self's close stolid stole. Are there no lives to bless? So will I give my love, my life, no stinted dole.
God will note deeds and sighs, Throned in far splendor on the heavenly hill, Though mad sounds from this wretched planet rise— Moans wild enough to fill Heaven's air, and drown its harps in doleful cries.
And angels shall look down, Through incense rising from my godly deeds. Approving gleam those eyes of tender brown; Sure on a brow that bleeds, The thorns should change to a more glorious crown.
Well done, my soul, well done, Out of thy grief to rear a ladder tall To reach the land that lies beyond the sun, To scale the jasper wall, And rise to glory on grief's stepping stone.
God looks into the tide, Angel and demon troubled, of a man's mind; And if my alms are scattered far and wide, Only my love to find, Only to pave a path to reach her side—
Will he accept from me My worship, gifts—the heavens are very still, No answer do I hear, no sign I see, If I but knew His will; Would He would come a-walking on the sea.
* * * * *
The storm is overpast, for sweet and fair A sudden radiance shone o'er wave and lea; And in the glory trembling through the air, He came unto me walking on the sea.
The heavy waves that had rushed to and fro Cowered at His feet in sudden melody; And all transfigured in the shining glow Did He come to me walking on the sea.
Far off I saw His form, but knew it not; He nearer drew, He smiled, my fears did flee; His loving look dispelled a lingering doubt, As He came to me o'er the twilight sea.
I dropped my burden on the shelving sand So I might meet Him, if such bliss could be, I reached the shore, I knelt and kissed His hand With blissful tears beside the twilight sea.
Such love He woke, I would my life have lain Low down to pave His way, "He loveth me Who loveth this sad world, and blesseth man," Came blown to me across the twilight sea.
Perplexing questions died within my breast, "Deep peace hath he who doeth lovingly My will, who loveth most, he loveth best," Came blown to me across the twilight sea.
The storm was overpast, a breath of balm Lapped the low waves, and lingered on the lea, For in the twilight fell a holy calm, He came unto me walking on the sea.
* * * * *
Was this a dream? If it were not a dream My life is blest in truth, and if it be, I know across the deep has fallen a gleam, A bridge of glory spans the twilight sea.
Soft o'er the meadow, and murmuring mere, Falleth a shadow, near and more near; Day like a white dove floats down the sky, Cometh the night, love, darkness is nigh; So dies the happiest day.
Slow in thy dark eye riseth a tear, Hear I thy sad sigh, Sorrow is near; Hope smiling bright, love, dies on my breast, As day like a white dove flies down the west; So dies the happiest day.
So all things come to our mind at last, He is close by your side in the twilight gloom, And you two are alone in the dim old room, Yet he is mute, as you bade him be, time past.
You bade him to weary you, never again With his idle love, in truth he was wise, For he spake no more, although in his eyes You read, you fancied, a language of pain.
But this is past, and vex you he never will, With loving glance, or look of sad reproach; His lips move not, smile not at your approach; The flowers he clasps are not more calm and still.
Your favorite flowers he has heard you praise, Purple pansies, and lilies creamy white; But he offers them not to you to-night, He troubles you not, he has learned "his place."
You wished to teach him that lesson, you told Him as much, you know, in this very room, 'Twas about this hour, for the twilight gloom As now, was enwrapping you, fold on fold.
Was "his place" in the haunts of the herded poor, Where the pestilence stalked with deadly breath? Face to face with its dreadful shadow, death, How he wrestled with it from door to door,
Giving his life that others life might find, Shaming you with his toil, his bravery, Not by a word or look, no boaster he, He was always gentle to you, and kind.
He has found "his place," but no need of fears, No; you need not summon your jealous pride, For "his place" will never be by your side, Nevermore, nevermore, through all the years.
And when from Time shall drop Earth's days Like chaff from the bloom of the year sublime, With the gentle spirits of every time, And the martyr souls, he will find his place.
So answers will come to our seeking wills, Nevermore will his sad face vex your sight, For you never will make your robes so white As to stand by him on the heavenly hills.
Yes, lay your cheek upon his, and press The clustering hair from his broad white brow, Have no fear, he will not annoy you now By a word in praise of your loveliness.
Yes, kneel by him, moaning, kissing his brow, Not now will it grieve him, your tears' swift rain, And he will not ask you to share your pain; Ah! Once he would, but not now—not now.
So leave the old room in the waning light, Go out in your peerless beauty and pride, And let no shadow go out by your side To follow you under the falling night.
A DREAM OF SPRING.
The world is asleep! All hushed is Nature's warm, sweet breath. The world is asleep, and dreaming the silent dream of snow, But through the silence that seems like the silence of death, Under their shroud of ermine, the souls of the roses glow.
And forever the heart of the water throbs and beats, Though bound by a million gleaming fetters and crystal rings, No sound on lonesome mornings the lonely watcher greets, But the frosty pane is impressed with the shadow of coming wings.
I know not where you wait for me in all your maiden sweetness, Sweet soul in whom my life will find its rest, its full completeness; But somewhere you await me, Fate will lead us to each other, As roses know the sunlight, so shall we know one another.
Dear heart, what are you doing in this twilight's purple splendor, Do you tend your dewy flowers with fingers white and slender, Heavy, odor-laden branches in blessing bent above you, Fond lilies kneeling at your feet, winds murmuring they love you?
Mayhap, your heart in maiden peace is like a closed bud sleeping, Wrapped in pure folds of saintly thought, its tender freshness keeping. Yet like a dream that comes in sleep, your soul sweet quiet breaking, Is a thought of me, my darling, that shall come true on waking.
Perchance you turn from passionate vows, words wild with love's sweet madness, With soft eyes looking far sway, in yearning trust and sadness; A look that tells his alien soul how widely you are parted, Though he knows not whom your rapt eyes seek, my sweet, my loving-hearted.
Oh, the world is rough; the heart against its sneers, its cold derision, Locks all its better feelings, making it a gloomy prison; But your hand, my angel, shall unlock its rocky, dust-strewn portal, Your smile shall rouse its dying dreams of good to life immortal.
You will make me better, purer, for love, the true refiner, Burning out the baser passions, will kindle the diviner, Will plead and wind my spirit, not to shame its heavenly station, You will trust me, and that trust will prove my tempted soul's salvation.
God keep you tenderly, my life's dear hope and unseen blessing; Oh, night wind, touch her tresses till I come with fond caressing, Thy crown of pearl-linked light, oh, royal moon stoop down and give her, Till queen of love's own kingdom, I crown her mine forever.
A SONG FOR TWILIGHT.
Oh! the day was dark and dreary, For clouds swept o'er the sun, The burden of life seemed heavy, And its warfare never done; But I heard a voice at twilight, It whispered in my ear, "Oh, doubting heart, look upward, Dear soul, be of good cheer. Oh, weary heart, look upward, Dear soul, be of good cheer."
And lo! on looking upward The stars lit up the sky Like the lights of an endless city, A city set on high. And my heart forgot its sorrow These heavenly homes to see— Sure in those many mansions Is room for even me, Sure in those many mansions, Is room for thee and me.
Here in the silent doorway let me linger One moment, for the porch is still and lonely; That shadow's but the rose vine in the moonlight; All are asleep in peace, I waken only, And he I wait, by my own heart's beating I know how slow to him the tide creeps by, Nor life, nor death, could bar our hearts from meeting; Were worlds between, his soul to mine would fly.
Oh, shame! to think a heap of paltry metal Should overbalance manhood's noblest graces; A film of gold had gilt his worth and honor, Warming to smiles the coldness of their faces; Gentle to me, they rise in condemnation, And plead with me than words more powerfully. Oh! well I love them—but they have wealth and station To fill their hearts, and he has only me.
But oh, my roses, how their great pure faces Beseech me as they bend from sculptured column. So with my wet cheek closely pressed against them, I listen to their pleadings sweet and solemn. Oh, Memory, if an hour of gloom and grieving I here have known, that hour before me set; But all the peace and joy I am leaving, In mercy, Memory, let me forget.
Oh, home! if here a frown has ever chilled me, Let it now rise and darken on my sight. If a harsh word or look has ever grieved me, Let me remember that harsh word to-night. But all the tender words, the fond caressing, The loving smiles that daily I have met, The patient mother love, God's crowning blessing, In mercy, Memory, let me forget.
Here she has kissed me with fond looks of greeting; Will that smile fade when waiting me no longer? Oh, true first love, tender and changing never; But there's a love that nearer is and stronger— He comes! I kneel and kiss the stone, oh, mother, Where you have stood and blessed me with your eyes; Forgive—forgive me, mother—father—brother— For oh, he loves me—and love sanctifies.
Once through an autumn wood I roamed in tearful mood, By grief dismayed, doubting, and ill at ease; When from a leafless oak, Methought low murmurs broke, Complaining accents, as of words like these:
"Incline thy mighty ear Great Mother Earth, and hear How I, thy child, am sorely vexed and tossed; No one to heed my moan, I shudder here, alone With my destroyers, wind and snow, and frost.
Then low and unaware This answer cleaved the air, This tender answer, "Doubting one be still; Oh trust to me, and know The wind, the frost, the snow, Are but my servants sent to do my will.
"For the destroyer frost, His labor is not lost, Rid thee he shall of many noisome things; And thou shalt praise the snow When drinking far below Refreshment sweet from overflowing springs.
"My child thou'rt not alone, I love thee, hear thy moan, But winds that fret thee only causeth thee To more securely stand, More firmly clasp my hand, And soaring upward, closer cling to me."
Then from my burdened heart The shadows did depart, Then said I softly—"winds of sorrow blow So I but closer cling To thee, my Lord, my King, Who loves me, even me, so weak and low."
I never shall hear your voice again, Your voice so gentle and low But the thought of you, Jenny Allen, Will go with me where I go. Your sweet voice drowns the Atlantic wave And the rush of the Alpine snow.
You were very fair, Jenny Allen, Fair as a woodland rose; Your heart was pure as an angel's heart, Too good for earth and its woes, And I loved you, Jenny Allen, With a sorrowful love, God knows.
You loved me, Jenny Allen, My sorrow made me wise; And I read your heart, 'twas an easy task, For within your clear blue eyes, Your pure and innocent thoughts shone out Like stars from the summer skies.
He had riches and fame with his seventy years When he won you for his wife; You were but a child, and poor, and tired, Tired of toil and strife; And you only thought of rest, poor dove, When you sold your beautiful life.
Alas, for the hour I entered in Your halls of lordly mirth; For I lost there, Jenny Allen, All that gives life worth; You taught your teacher, Jenny, The saddest lesson of earth.
Ah, woe's the hour I ever stepped Your mansion walls within; For you loved me, Jenny Allen, But you never dreamed 'twas sin; Your heart was white as a lily's heart, When it drinks the sunshine in.
God pity me, Jenny Allen, That I ever loved you so, I would have died to give you peace, And I only gave you woe; For your eyes looked like a wounded dove's, When I told you I must go.
You were but a child, Jenny Allen, But that hour made you wise; A woman's grief and holy strength Sprang up in your mournful eyes; Ah, you were an angel, Jenny, An angel in woman's guise.
But a pitiful, pitiful look, Jenny, Your seraph features wore, As I left you that dark autumn morn, Left you forevermore; And heaven seemed shut against me As I blindly shut that door.
The years have rained on you golden gifts, You dwell in a queenly show; There are jewels of price in your silken hair, And upon your neck of snow. Do you ever think of me, Jenny, And the dream of the long ago?
I have sat me down under foreign skies Afire with an Orient glow; I have seen the moon gild the desert sand, And silver the Arctic snow, But the thought of you Jenny Allen, Goes with me where I go.
THE UNSEEN CITY.
Not far away does that bright city stand, 'Tis but the mist o'er its dividing stream, That wraps the glory of its glitt'ring strand, Its radiant skies, and mountains silvery gleam; Oh, often in the blindness of our fate We wander very near the city's gate.
We love that unseen city, and we yearn Ever within our earthly homes to see Its golden towers, that in the sunset burn, Its white walls rising from the quiet sea; Its mansions gleaming with immortal glow, Filled with the treasure lost to us below.
Yes, dear ones that we loved and lost are there; Bright in that fair clime beam those sweet eyes now; Fanned by its soft breeze floats the shining hair, Hair we have smoothed back from the gentlest brow; Softest white hands we kissed and clasped in ours Slipped from our grasp, lured by its glowing flowers.
Fairer it seems, its velvet walks were sweet, Dearer its quiet streets, with gold paved o'er, Since o'er them lightly fall the little feet— The light feet bounding through our homes no more; Oh, heart's dear music, tearfully missed, That city's filled with melody like this.
It is not far away; down from its arches roll Anthems too sacred for the outward ear, Pouring their haunting sweetness on the soul; Oh, how our waiting spirits thrill to hear, In listening to the low bewildering strain, Voices they said we should not hear again.
Oh, dear to us that city. He is there, He whom unseen we love; no need of light; His tender eyes illume the crystal air Where His beloved walk in vesture white, What though on earth they wandered, poor, distressed, And saw through tears His glory, now they rest.
Oh, that fair city, shining o'er the tide, Thither we journey through the storm and night; But soon shall we adown its still bay glide, Soon will the city's gate gleam on our sight, There with our own forever shall we be, In that fair city rising from the sea.
THE WAGES OF SIN.
I am an outcast, sinful and vile I know, But what are you, my lady, so fair, and proud, and high? The fringe of your robe just touched me, me so low— Your feet defiled, I saw the scorn in your eye, And the jeweled hand, that drew back your garments fine. What should you say if I told you to your face Your robes are dyed with as deep a stain as mine, The only difference is you are better paid for disgrace.
You loved a man, you promised to be his bride, Strong vows you gave, you were in the sight of Heaven his wife, And when you sold yourself for another's wealth, he died; And what is that but murder? To take a life That is a little beyond my guilt, I ween, To murder the one you love is a crime of deeper grade Than mine, yet in purple you walk on the earth a queen; I think the wages of sin are very unequally paid.
For what did you receive when you sold yourself for his gold, When with guilty loathing you plighted your white, false hand, A palace in town and country, his name long centuries old, A carriage with coachmen and footmen, wealth in broad tracts of land, Wealth in coffers and vaults, high station, the family gems, For these you stood at God's altar and swore to a lie; But smother your conscience to silence if it condemns, With this you are liberally paid for your life of infamy.
What wages did I receive when I gave myself for his love, So young, so weak, and loving him, loving him so— What did I get for my sin, O merciful God above! But the terrible, terrible wages—pain and want and woe; The world's scorn, and my own contempt and disdain, The hideous hue of guilt that stares in every eye. Like you I cannot 'broider with gold my garments' stain, You see, my lady, you get far better wages than I.
In your constancy to sin you far exceed my power, Since that day marked with blackness from other days— The day before your marriage—never since that hour Have I heard his voice, have I looked upon his face; For I threw his gold at his feet and stole away Anywhere—anywhere—only out of his sight, Longing to hide from the mocking glare of the day, Longing to cover my eyes forever away from the light.
And long I strove to hate him, for I thought I was so young, a friendless orphan left to his care, It was a terrible sin that he had wrought, And since I had the burden of guilt to bear It was enough without the wild despair of love, So I strove to reason my passionate love to hate. Can we kneel with tears and bid the strong sun move Away from the sky? It is vain to war with fate.
That a hard life I have lived since then, 'tis true, My hands are unblackened by sinful wages since that day, And my baby died, I was not fit, God knew To guide a sinless soul, so He took my bird away; And my heart was empty and lone as a robin's winter nest, With the trusting eyes that never looked scornfully, The head that nestled fearlessly on my guilty breast, And the little constant hands that clung to me, even me.
But I knew it were best for God to unclasp her hand From mine, while yet she clung to it in trust, Than for her to draw it from me, live to understand, Blush for her mother—had she lived she must. And then she had her father's smile, and his soft, dark eyes, Maybe she would have had his fair, false ways—his heart. It is well that she passed through the starry gate of the skies Though it closed and bars us forever and ever apart.
For I am a sinful woman, well I know, And though by others' sins my own are not excused Things seem so strange to me in this strange world of woe, In a maze of doubt and wonder I get confused; Whether a sin of impulse, born of a fatal love, Is worse than deliberate bargain, a life of legal shame, Legal below, I think in the courts above The heavenly scribes will call a crime by its right name.
But we stand before the wise, wise judgment-seat Of the world, and it calls you pure, That in your pearl-gemmed breast all saintly virtues meet, Holier than other holy women, higher, truer, So sweet a creature an angel in woman's guise. They would not wonder much, though much they might admire, Should you be caught again up to your native skies From an alien world in a chariot of fire.
So we stand before the tender judgment-seat Of the world, and it calls me vile, So low that it is a wonder God will let His joyous sunshine gild my guilty head with its smiles, An outcast barred beyond the pale of hope, Beyond the lamp of their mercy's flickering light, They would scarcely wonder if the earth should ope And swallow up the wretch from their vexed sight.
Before another judgment-seat one day we will stand You and I, my lady, and he by our side, He who won my heart, who held my life in his hand, He who bought you with gold to be his bride; Before an assembled world we shall stand, we three, To meet from the merciful Judge our doom of weal or woe, He holds His righteous balance true and evenly, And which is the vilest sinner we then shall know.
ISABELLE AND I.
Isabelle has gold, and lands, Fate gave her a fair lot; Like the white lilies of the field Her soft hands toil not. I gaze upon her splendor Without an envious sigh; I have no wealth in lands and gold, And yet sweet peace have I.
I know the blue sky smiles as bright On the low field violet, As on the proud crest of the pine On loftiest mountain set. I am content—God loveth all, And if He tenderly The sparrow guides, He knoweth best The place where I should be.
Her violet velvet curtains trail Down to the floor, But brightly God's rich sunshine streams Into my cottage door; And not a picture on her walls, Hath beauty unto me, Like that which from my window frame I daily lean to see.
She has known such pomp, she careth not, For any humble sight; Flowers bending o'er the brook's green edge, To her give no delight; She tends her costly eastern bird With gold upon its wing; But her wild roses bloom for me, For me her wild birds sing.
She tires of home, and fain would see The brightest clime of earth, And so she sails for summer lands With friends to share her mirth; She waves her jewelled hand to me The opal spray-clouds fly; She leaves me with the fading shore— Do I envy her? not I.
She will see the sailor's hardened palms Curbing the toiling sails, She will faint beneath the tropic calms And face the angry gales. She will labor for her happiness While I've no need to speak, But on a lotus leaf I float, Unto the land they seek.
There, like a dream from out the wave, I see a city rise, I stand entranced, as by a spell, Upon the Bridge of Sighs. The low and measured dip of oars Falls softly on my ear Blent with the tender evening song, Of some swart gondolier.
And down from marble terraces Veiled ladies slowly pass, And, entering antique barges, Glide down the streets of glass; And eyes filled with the dew and fire Of their own midnight sky, Gleam full on me, as silently The gondolas float by.
The sunset burns, and turns the wave To an enchanted stream, And far up on the shadowy steeps The white walled convents gleam, The music of their bells float out— The sweet wind bears it by, Adown the warm and sunny slopes, Where purple vineyards lie.
And I stand in old cathedrals, By tombs of buried kings, White angels bend above them— Mute guard with folded wings. Far down the aisle the organ peals, The priests are knelt in prayer And memories flood its ancient walls, As the music fills the air.
I may not see that blessed land, But she roams o'er the sod The Lord's pure eyes have hallowed, Where once His feet have trod. Yet He in mercy has drawn near, He has me comforted— So near He seemed I almost felt His hand upon my head.
And I with slow and reverent steps Through ancient cities roam, Treading o'er crumbling columns, The dust of spire and dome; The tall and shattered arches Their flickering shadows cast, Like bent and hoary spectres, Low murmuring of the past.
And Isabelle toils o'er the Alps, Through fields of ice and snow, To see the lofty glaciers Flash in the sun's red glow. I feel no cold, and yet on high Their shining spires I see. Why should I envy Isabelle? Why should she pity me?
Why should I envy Isabelle When thus so easily, Upon a tropic flower's perfume I float across the sea?
Again I see that May moon shine, Dost thou remember, soul of mine? I held your hand in mine, you know, And as I bent to whisper low, A tender light was in your eye, "Sweetheart, good-by, sweetheart, good-by."
There came a time my lips were white Beneath the pale and cold moonlight, And burning words I might not speak, You read, love, in my ashen cheek, As my whole heart breathed in this one cry, "Sweetheart, good-by, sweetheart, good-by."
Time's waves that roll so swift and fleet Have borne you far from me, my sweet, Have borne you to a sunny bay, Where brightest sunshine gilds your way, Do these words ever dim your sky— Sweetheart, good-by, sweetheart, good-by?
I cannot tell, but this I know They go with me where'er I go, I hear them in the crowded mart, At midnight lone, they chill my heart— They dim for me the earth and sky, Sweetheart, good-by, sweetheart good-by.
And in that hour of mystery, When loved ones shall bend over me, Near ones to kiss my lips and weep, As nearer steals the dreamless sleep, From all I'll turn with this last sigh, "Sweetheart, good-by, sweetheart, good-by."
THE SEA-CAPTAIN'S WOOING.
Put the crown of your love on my forehead, Its sweet links clasped with a kiss, And all the great monarchs of England Never wore such a gem as this. Give me your hand, little maiden, That sceptre so pearly white, And I'll envy not the kingliest wand That ever waved in might.
I know 'tis like asking a morning cloud With a grim old mountain to stay, But your love would soften its ruggedness, And melt its roughness away. I have seen a delicate rosy cloud, A rough, gray cliff enfold, Till his heart was warmed by its loveliness, And his brow was tinged with its gold.
Oh, poor and mean does my life show Compared with the beauty of thine, Like a diamond embedded in granite Your life would be set in mine; But a faithful love should guard you, And shelter you from life's storm, The rock must be shivered to atoms Ere its treasure should come to harm.
How your sweet face has shone on me From the tropics' midnight sea, When the sailors slept, and I kept watch Alone with my God and thee. I know your heart is relenting, The tender look in your eyes Seems like that sky's soft splendor When the sun was beginning to rise.
You need not veil their glorious light With your eyelids' cloud of snow, A tell-tale bird with a crimson wing On your cheek flies to and fro; And whispers to me such blissful hope That my foolish tears will start, Ah, little bird! your fluttering wing Is folded on my heart.
I might strive as well to melt to softness the soulless breast Of some fair and saintly image, carven out of stone, With my smile, as to stir you heart from its icy rest, Or win a tender glance from your royal eyes, Ione; But your sad smile lures me on, as toward some fatal rock Is the fond wave drawn, but to break with passionate moan. Break! to be spurned from its cold feet with a stony shock, As you would spurn my suppliant heart from your feet, Ione.
Ione, there is a grave in the churchyard under the hill, The villagers shun like the unblest haunt of a ghost, Dropped there out of a dark spring night, I remember still, For a foreign ship had anchored that night on the coast; On the gray stone tablet is written this one word "Rest." Did he who sleeps underneath seek for it vainly here? What is the secret hidden there in the buried breast, The secret deeper sunken by dripping rains each year.
When autumn's bending boughs and harvests burdened the ground An early laborer, chancing to pass that way alone, Saw a small glove gleaming whitely upon the mound, And into the delicate wrist was woven "Ione," And he said as he dropped it again his eye did mark— For this unknown, unhallowed grave had been shunned by all— A narrow footpath winding through to the lofty wall, That guards the wild grandeur and gloom of your father's park.
'Tis well to put small faith in a simple rustic's eye, This story your father heard, and haughtily denied, The grass waves rankly now, and gives the fellow the lie, How many secrets the tall, deceitful grasses hide, Patting the turf that covers a maiden's innocent rest, And creeping and winding old haunted ruins among, As silently smooth's the mould above the murdered breast, Smothering down to deeper silence a buried wrong.
In your father's gallery once, I saw your pictured face, Ione you were not always so sad and pale as this, No beauty in all the long line of your noble race Had eyes so softly bathed in bright bewitchment of bliss, You were just nineteen, they said—it was painted in Spain The year before you came—it was on your foreign tour, By an artist too low to be reached by your disdain, A delicate, passionate-hearted boy, proud and poor.
So said the rumors floating to us across the sea, You had only an invalid mother with you there, I fancy that then you set your heart's pure feelings free For the first time, far from your proud old father's care, For you used to wander down the shaded garden ways, Your slight hand closely clasped by the fair-haired English youth, His blue eyes bent on your blushing face, so rumor says, Though such light birds are not to be trusted much in truth.
Your face is not the face that looked from the antique frame, Ione, and even that is gone from the oaken wall; That picture that never was painted for gold or fame, So vowed the artist friend who went with me to the hall; But the pain on your white brow sits regally I ween, The smile on your perfect lips is perilously sweet, My slavish glances crown you my love, my fate, my queen, As you pass in peerless beauty adown the village street.
Like emerald lakes the meadows lie, And daisies dot the main; The sunbeams from the deep blue sky Drop down in golden rain, And gild the lily's silver bell, And coax buds apart, But I miss the sunshine of my youth, The summer of my heart.
The wild birds sing the same glad song They sang in days of yore; The laughing rivulet glides along, Low whispering to the shore, And its mystic water turns to gold The sunbeam's quivering dart, But I miss the sunshine of my youth, The summer of my heart.
The south wind murmurs tenderly To the complaining leaves; The Flower Queen gorgeous tapestry Of rose and purple weaves. Yes, Nature's smile, the wary while, Wears all its olden truth, But I miss the sunshine of my heart, The summer of my youth.
THE LADY CECILE.
Sitting alone in the windy tower, While the waves leap high, or are low at rest, What does she think of, hour by hour, With her strange eyes bent on the distant west, And a fresh white rose on her withered breast, What does she think of, hour by hour? The Lady Cecile.
Low under the lattice, day by day, White homeward sails like swallows come, But the sad eyes look afar and away, And the sailors' songs as they near their home, No glance may win, for she sitteth dumb, With her sad eyes looking afar and away, The Lady Cecile.
Just forty years has she dwelt alone With an ancient servant, grim and gray, Sat alone under sun and moon; But once each year, on the third of June, She treads the creaking staircase down, But back in her tower with the dying day, Is the Lady Cecile.
Beneath the tower of the lonesome hall, Stone stairs creep down where the slow tide flows, There, out of a niche in the mouldering wall, Low leaneth a royal tropical rose: Who set it there none cares, nor knows, Long years ago in the mouldering wall, But the Lady Cecile.
But each third of June as the sun dips low, She descends the stairs to the water's verge, And plucks a rose from the lowest bough Which the lapping waves almost submerge, And what forms out of the deep, resurge To vex her, maybe, with mournful brow, Knows the Lady Cecile.
Her locks are sown with silver hairs, And the face they shroud is pale and wan; Once it was sweet as the rose she wears, Though the perfect lips wore a proud disdain! But the rose-face paled by time and pain, No new springs know, like the flower she wears, The Lady Cecile.
Why does she set the fresh white rose So faithfully over her silent breast? And what her thoughts are nobody knows, She sits with her secret hid, unguessed, With her strange eyes bent on the distant west, So the slow years come, and the slow year goes, O'er the Lady Cecile.
Forty years! and June the third Came with a storm—loud the winds did blow— And up in her tower the lady heard The deep waves calling her far below; Wild they leaped and surged, wild the winds did blow, And, listening alone, she thought she heard "Cecile! Cecile!"
And, wrapping her cloak round her withered form, She crept down the stairs of crumbling stone; Higher and fiercer raged the storm As she bent and plucked the rose—but one Had the tempest spared—and the winds did moan, And she thought that she heard o'er the voice of the storm, "Cecile! Cecile!"
She placed the rose on her bloodless breast, And dizzy and faint she reached the tower, And her strange eyes looked out again on the west, And a wave dashed up, as she looked from the tower, Like a hand, and lifted the roots of the flower, And swept it—carried it out to the west, From the Lady Cecile.
And like death was her face, when suddenly, Strangely—a tremulous golden gleam Pierced the pile of clouds, high-massed and gray, And the shining, quivering, golden beam Seemed a bridge of light—a gold highway Thrown o'er the wild waves of the bay; And the Lady Cecile
Did eagerly out of her lattice lean With her glad eyes bent on that bridge gold-bright, As if some form by her rapt eyes seen, Were beckoning her down that path of light, That quivering, shining, led from sight, Ending afar in the sunset sheen. And the Lady Cecile
Cried with her lips that erst were dumb "See! am I not true? your flower I wore," And her thin hand eagerly touched the flower, "He is smiling upon me! yes, love, I come." And a pleasant light, like the light of home, Lit her eyes, and life and pain were o'er To the Lady Cecile.
A spirit is out to-night! His steeds are the winds; oh, list, How he madly sweeps o'er the clouds, And scatters the driving mist.
We will let the curtains fall Between us and the storm; Wheel the sofa up to the hearth, Where the fire is glowing warm.
Little student, leave your book, And come and sit by my side; If you dote on Tennyson so, I'll be jealous of him, my bride.
There, now I can call you my own! Let me push back the curls from your brow, And look in your dark eyes and see What my bird is thinking of now.
Is she thinking of some high perch Of freedom, and lofty flight? You smile; oh, little wild bird, You are hopelessly bound to-night!
You are bound with a golden ring, And your captor, like some grim knight, Will lock you up in the deepest cell Of his heart, and hide you from sight.
Sweetheart, sweetheart, do you hear far away The mournful voice of the sea? It is telling me of the time When I thought you were lost to me.