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And thou mutterest, thy hands thou wringest,
Seeing something, ,-us thou seëst not.
Strange it is that, in this open brightness,
Thou shouldst sit in such a narrow cell ;
Strange it is that thou shouldst be so lonesome
Where those are who love thee all so well ;
Not so much of thee is left among us
As the hum outliving the hushed bell.
WHAT RABBI JEHOSHA SAID.
RABBI JEHOSHA used to say
That God made angels every day
Perfect as Michael and the rest
First brooded in creation's nest,
Whose only office was to cry
Hosanna! once, and then to die ;
Or rather, with Life's essence blent,
To be led home from banishment.
Rabbi Jehosha had the skill
To know that Heaven is in God's will ;
And doing that, though for a space
One heart-beat long, may win a grace
As full of grandeur and of glow
As Princes of the Chariot know.
'Twere glorious, no doubt, to be
One of the strong-winged Hierarchy,
To burn with Seraphs, or to shine
With Cherubs, deathlessly divine ;
Yet I, perhaps, poor earthly clod,
Could I forget myself in God,
Could I but find my nature's clew
Simply as birds and blossoms do,
And but for one rapt moment know
'Tis Heaven must come, not we must go,
Should win my place as near the throne
As the pearl-angel of its zone,
And God would listen ʼmid the throng
For my one breath of perfect song,
That, in its simple human way,
Said all the Host of Heaven could say.
One feast, of holy days the crest,
I, though no Churchman, love to keep,
All-Saints,-the unknown good that rest
In God's still memory folded deep;
The bravely dumb that did their deed,
And scorned to blot it with a name,
Men of the plain heroic breed,
That loved Heaven's silence more than fame.
Such lived not in the past alone,
But thread to-day the unheeding street,
And stairs to Sin and Famine known
Sing with the welcome of their feet;
The den they enter grows a shrine,
The grimy sash an oriel burns,
Their cup of water warms like wine,
Their speech is filled from heavenly urns.
About their brows to me appears
An aureole traced in tenderest light,
The rainbow-gleam of smiles through tears
In dying eyes, by them made bright,
Of souls that shivered on the edge
Of that chill ford repassed no more,
And in their mercy felt the pledge
And sweetness of the farther shore.
A WINTER-EVENING HYMN TO MY FIRE.
BEAUTY on my hearth-stone blazing !
To-night the triple Zoroaster
Shall my prophet be and master :
To-night will I pure Magian be,
Hymns to thy sole honour raising,
While thou leapest fast and faster,
Wild with self-delighted glee,
Or sink'st low and glowest faintly
As an aureole still and saintly,
Keeping cadence to my praising
Thee ! still thee! and only thee !
Elfish daughter of Apollo !
Thee, from thy father stolen and bound
The love that wanders not beyond
His earliest nest, but sits and sings
While children smooth his patient wings ;
Therefore with thee I love to read
Our brave old poets : at thy touch how stirs
Life in the withered words ! how swift recede
Time's shadows ! and how glows again
Through its dead mass the incandescent verse,
As when upon the anvils of the brain
It glittering lay, cyclopically wrought
By the fast-throbbing hammers of the poet's thought !
Thou murmurest, too, divinely stirred,
The aspirations unattained,
The rhythms so rathe and delicate,
They bent and strained
And broke, beneath the sombre weight
Of any airiest mortal word.
What warm protection dost thou bend
Round curtained talk of friend with friend,
While the gray snow-storm, held aloof,
To softest outline rounds the roof,
Or the rude North with baffled strain
Shoulders the frost-starred window-pane !
Now the kind nymph to Bacchus borne
By Morpheus' daugher, she that seems
Gifted upon her natal morn
By him with fire, by her with dreams,
Nicotia, dearer to the Muse
Than all the grapes' bewildering juice,
We worship, unforbid of thee;
And, as her incense floats and curls
In airy spires and wayward whirls,
Or poises on its tremulous stalk
A flower of frailest revery,
So winds and loiters, idly free,
The current of unguided talk,
Now laughter-rippled, and now caught
In smooth, dark pools of deeper thought.
Meanwhile thou mellowest every word,
A sweetly unobtrusive third ;
For thou hast magic beyond wine,
To unlock natures each to each;
The unspoken thought thou canst divine ;
Thou fillest the pauses of the speech
With whispers that to dreamland reach,
And frozen fancy-springs unchain
In Arctic outskirts of the brain;
Sun of all inmost confidences !
To thy rays doth the heart unclose
Its formal calyx of pretences,
That close against rude day's offences,
And open its shy midnight rose.
Thou holdest not the master key
With which thy Sire sets free the mystic gates
Of Past and Future : not for common fates
Do they wide open fling,
And, with a far-heard ring,
Swing back their willing valves melodiously;
Only to ceremonial days,
And great processions of imperial song
That set the world at gaze,
Doth such high privilege belong :
But thou a postern-door canst ope
To humbler chambers of the selfsame palace
Where Memory lodges, and her sister Hope,
Whose being is but as a crystal chalice
Which, with her various mood, the elder fills
Of joy or sorrow,
So colouring as she wills
With hues of yesterday the unconscious morrow.
Thou sinkest, and my fancy sinks with thee :
For thee I took the idle shell,
And struck the unused chords again,
But they are gone who listened well ;
Some are in heaven, and all are far from me :
Even as I sing, it turns to pain,
And with vain tears my eyelids throb and swell :
Enough ; I come not of the race
That hawk their sorrows in the market-place.
Earth stops the ears I best had loved to please ;
Then break, ye untuned chords, or rest in peace !
As if a white-haired actor should come back
Some midnight to the theatre void and black,
And there rehearse his youth's great part
'Mid thin applauses of the ghosts,
So seems it now : ye crowd upon my heart,
And I bow down in silence, shadowy hosts !
How struggles with the tempest's swells
That warning of tumultuous bells !
The fire is loose ! and frantic knells
Throb fast and faster,
As tower to tower confusedly tells
News of disaster.
But on my far-off solitude
No harsh'alarums can intrude ;
The terror comes to me subdued
And charmed by distance,
To deepen the habitual mood
Of my existence.
Are those, I muse, the Easter chimes ?
And listen, weaving careless rhymes
While the loud city's griefs and crimes
Pay gentle allegiance
To the fine quiet that sublimes
These dreamy regions.
And when the storm o'erwhelms the shore,
I watch entranced as, o'er and o'er,
The light revolves amid the roar
So still and saintly,
Now large and near, now more and more
This, too, despairing sailors see
Flash out the breakers 'neath their lee
In sudden snow, then lingeringly
Wane tow'rd eclipse.
While through the dark the shuddering sea
Gropes for the ships.
And is it right, this mood of mine
That thus, in revery enshrined,
Can in the world mere topics find
For musing stricture,
Seeing the life of humankind
Only as picture ?
The events in line of battle go;
In vain for me their trumpets blow
As unto him that lieth low
In death's dark arches,