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To such divinity that soul and sense,
Once more commingled in their source, are lost,-
Canst thou descend to quench a vulgar thirst
With the mere dregs and rinsings of the world ?
Well, if my nature find her pleasure so,
I am content, nor need to blush ; I take
My little gist of being clean from God,
Not haggling for a better, holding it
Good as was ever any in the world,
My days as good and full of miracle.
I pluck my nutriment from any bush,
Finding out poison as the first men did
By tasting and then suffering, if I must.
Sometimes my bush burns, and sometimes it is
A leafless wilding shivering by the wall ;
But I have known when winter barberries
Pricked the effeminate palate with surprise
Of savour whose mere harshness seemed divine.
O, benediction of the higher mood
And human-kindness of the lower! for both
I will be grateful while I live, nor question
The wisdom that hath made us what we are,
With such large range as from the alehouse bench
Can reach the stars and be with both at home.
They tell us we have fallen on prosy days,
Condemned to glean the leavings of earth's feast
Where gods and heroes took delight of old ;
But though our lives, moving in one dull round
Of repetition infinite, become
Stale as a newspaper once read, and though
History herself, seen in her workshop, seem
To have lost the art that dyed those glorious panes,
Rich with memorial shapes of saint and sage,
with splendour the Past's dusky aisles, –
Panes that enchant the light of common day
With colours costly as the blood of kings,
Until it edge our thought with hues ideal,-
Yet while the world is left, while nature lasts
And man the best of nature, there shall be
Somewhere contentment for these human hearts,
Some freshness, some unused material
For wonder and for song. I lose myself
In other ways where solemn guide posts say,
This way to Knowledge, This
way to Repose, But here, here only, I am ne'er betrayed, For every by-path leads me to my love.
God's passionless reformers, influences,
That purify and heal and are not seen,
Shall man say whence your virtue is, or how
Ye make medicinal the wayside weed ?
I know that sunshine, through whatever rist
How shaped it matters not, upon my walls
Paints dices as perfect rounded as its source,
And, like its antitype, the ray divine,
However finding entrance, perfect still,
Repeats the image unimpaired of God.
We, who by shipwreck only find the shores
Of divine wisdom, can but kneel at first;
Can but exult to feel beneath our feet,
That long stretched vainly down the yielding deeps,
The shock and sustenance of solid earth ;
Inland afar we see what temples gleam
Through immemorial stems of sacred groves,
And we conjecture shining shapes therein ;
Yet for a space we love to wonder here
Among the shells and sea-weed of the beach.
So mused I once within my willow-tent
One brave June inorning, when the bluff northwest,
Thrusting aside a dank and snuffling day
That made us bitter at our neighbours' sins,
Brimmed the great cup of heaven with sparkling cheer
And roared a lusty stave; the sliding Charles,
Blue toward the west, and bluer and more blue,
Living and lustrous as a woman's eyes
Look once and look no more, with southward curve
Ran crinkling sunniness, like Helen's hair
Glimpsed in Elysium, insubstantial gold;
From blossom-clouded orchards, far away
The bobolink tinkled ; the deep meadows flowed
With multitudinous pulse of light and shade
Against the bases of the southern hills,
While here and there a drowsy island rick
Slept and its shadow slept; the wooden bridge
Thundered, and then was silent; on the roofs
The sun-warped shingles rippled with the heat;
Summer on field and hill, in heart and brain,
All life washed clean in this high tide of Junc.
When Persia's sceptre trembled in a hand
Wilted with harem-heats, and all the land
Was hovered over by those vulture ills
That snuff decaying empire from afar,
Then, with a nature balanced as a star,
Dara arose, a shepherd of the hills.
He who had governed fleecy subjects well
Made his own village by the selfsame spell
Secure and quiet as a guarded fold ;
Then, gathering strength by slow and wise degrees
Under his sway, to neighbour villages
Order returned, and faith and justice old.
Now when it fortuned that a king more wise
Endued the realm with brain and hands and eyes,
He sought on every side men brave and just ;
And having heard our mountain shepherd's praise,
How he refilled the mould of elder days,
To Dara gave a satrapy in trust.
So Dara shepherded a province wide,
Nor’in his viceroy's sceptre took more pride
Than in his crook before ; but envy finds
More food in cities than on mountains bare ;
And the frank sun of natures clear and rare
Breeds poisonous fogs in low and marish minds.
Soon it was hissed into the royal ear,
That, though wise Dara's province, year by year,
Like a great sponge, sucked wealth and plenty up,
Yet, when he squeezed it at the king's behest,
Some yellow drops, more rich than all the rest,
Went to the filling of his private cup.
For proof, they said, that, wheresoe’er he went,
A chest, beneath whose weight the camel bent,
Went with him ; and no mortal eye had seen
What was therein, save only Dara's own;
But, when 'twas opened, all his tent was known
To glow and lighten with heaped jewels' sheen.
The King set forth for Dara's province straight
There, as was fit, outside the city's gate,
The viceroy met him with a stately train,
And there, with archers circled, close at hand,
A camel with the chest was seen to stand :
T'he King's brow reddened, for the guilt was plain.
“Open me here," he cried, “this treasure chest !”
'Twas done ; and only a worn shepherd's vest
Was found therein. Some blushed and hung the head;
Not Dara ; open as the sky's blue roof
He stood, and, “O my lord, behold the proof
That I was faithful to my trust,” he said.
“To govern men, lo all the spell I had !
My soul in these rude vestments ever clad
Still to the unstained past kept true and leal,
Still on these plains could breathe her mountain air,
And fortune's heaviest gifts serenely bear,
Which bend men from their truth and make them reel.
“For ruling wisely I should have small skill,
Were I not lord of simple Dara still ;
That sceptre kept, I could not lose my way.'
Strange dew in royal eyes grew round and bright,
And strained the throbbing lids; before 'twas night
Two added provinces blest Dara's sway.
The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.
Every pine and fir and hernlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl, And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.
From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
Came Chanticleer's muffled crow,
The stiff rails were softened to swan’s-down,
And still fluttered down the snow.
I stood and watched by the window
The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snow-birds,
Like brown leaves whirling by.
I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
Where a little headstone stood ;
“That you will give me the first, first thing
You meet at your castle-gate,
And the Princess shall get the Singing Leaves,
Or mine be a traitor's fate."
The King's head dropt upon his breast
A moment, as it might be ;
'Twill be my dog, he thought, and said,
“My faith I plight to thee." Then Walter took from next his heart
A packet small and thin,
“Now give you this to the Princess Anne,
The Singing Leaves are therein."
As the King rode in at his castle-gate,
A maiden to meet him ran,
And “Welcome, father !” she laughed and cried
Together, the Princess Anne. “Lo, here the Singing Leaves," quoth he,
“And woe, but they cost me dear!” She took the packet, and the smile
Deepened down beneath the tear.
It deepened down till it reached her heart,
And then gushed up again,
And lighted her tears as the sudden sun
Transfigures the summer rain.
And the first Leaf, when it was opened,
Sang: “I am Walter the page,
And the songs I sing 'neath thy window
Are my only heritage.
And the second Leaf sang : “But in the land
That is neither on earth or sea,
My lute and I are lords of more
Than thrice this kingdom's fee." And the third Leaf sang, “Be mine! Be mine :" And ever it sang,
" Be mine!” Then sweeter it sang and ever sweeter,
And said, “I am thine, thine, thine !"
At the first Leaf she grew pale enough,
At the second she turned aside,
At the third, 'twas as if a lily flushed
With a rose's red heart's tide.