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Down which they stumble to eternal mock :
No chafferer's hand shall long the sceptre hold,
Who, given a Fate to shape, would sell the block.
“We sing old Sagas, songs of weal and woe,
Mystic because too cheaply understood ;
Dark sayings are not ours; men hear and know,
See Evil weak, see strength alone in Good,
Yet hope to stem God's fire with wall of tow.
“Time Was unlocks the riddle of Time Is,
That offers choice of glory or of gloom ;
The solver makes Time Shall Be surely his.
But hasten, Sisters ! for even now the tomb
Grates its slow hinge and calls from the abyss."
“But not for him," I cried, “not yet for him
Whose large horizon, westering, star by star
Wins from the void to where on Ocean's rim
The sunset shuts the world with golden bar,
Not yet his thews shall fail, his eye grow dim!
“His shall be larger manhood, saved for those
That walk unblenching through the trial-fires ;
Not suffering, but faint heart, is worst of woes,
And he no base-born son of craven sires,
Whose eye need blench confronted with his foes.
"Tears may be ours, but proud, for those who win
Death's royal purple in the foeman's lines ;
Peace, too, brings tears; and 'mid the battle-din,
The wiser ear some text of God divines,
For the sheathed blade may rust with darker sin.
“God give us peace ! not such as lulls to sleep,
But sword on thigh, and brow with purpose knit !
And let our Ship of State to harbour sweep,
Her ports all up, her battle-lanterns lit,
And her leashed thunders gathering for their leap!”
So cried I with clenched hands and passionate pain ;
Thinking of dear ones by Potomac's side ;
Again the loon laughed mocking, and again
The echoes bayed far down the night and died,
While waking I recalled my wandering brain.
TWO SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF BLONDEL.
SCENE I.--Near a Castle in Germany.
'TWERE no hard task, perchance, to win
The popular laurel for my song ;
'Twere only to comply with sin,
And own the crown, though snatched by wrong :
Rather Truth's chaplet let me wear,
Though sharp as death its thorns may sting :
Loyal to Loyalty, I bear
No badge but of my rightful king.
Patient by town and tower I wait,
Or o'er the blustering moorland go;
I buy no praise at cheaper rate,
Or what faint hearts may fancy so;
For me, no joy in lady's bower,
Or hall, or tourney, will I sing,
Till the slow stars wheel round the hour
That crowns my hero and my king.
While all the land runs red with strife,
And wealth is won by pedler-crimes,
Let who will find content in life
And tinkle in unmanly rhymes :
I wait and seek : through dark and light,
Safe in my heart my hope I bring,
Till I once more my faith may plight
To him my whole soul owns her king.
When power is filched by drone and dolt,
And, with caught breath and flashing eye,
Iler knuckles whitening round the bolt,
Vengeance leans eager from the sky,
While this and that the people guess,
And to the skirts of praters cling,
Who court the crowd they should compress,
I turn in scorn to seek my king.
Shut in what tower of darkling chance
Or dungeon of a narrow doom,
Dream'st thou of battle-axe and lance
That for the Cross make crashing room?
Come ! with hushed breath the battle waits
In the wild van thy mace's swing ;
While doubters parley with their fates,
Make thou thine own and ours, my king !
O, strong to keep upright the old,
And wise to buttress with the new,
Prudent, as only are the bold,
Clear-eyed, as only are the true,
To foes benign, to friendship stern,
Intent to imp Law's broken wing,
Who would not die, if death might earn
The right to kiss thy hand, my king ?
SCENE II.-An Inn near the Chateau of Chalus.
Well, the whole thing is over, and here I sit
With one arm in a sling and a milk-score of gashes, And this flagon of Cyprus must e'en warm my wit, Since what's left of youth's flame is a head flecked with
ashes. I remember I sat in this very same inn.-I was young then, and one young man thought I was hand
some, I had found out what prison King Richard was in,
And was spurring for England to push on the ransom.
Ilow I scorned the dull souls that sat guzzling around
And knew not my secret nor recked my derision !
Let the world sink or swim, John or Richard be crowned,
All one, so the beer-tax got lenient revision.
How little I dreamed, as I tramped up and down,
That granting our wish one of Fate's saddest jokes is ! I had mine with a vengeance,-my king got his crown,
And made his whole business to break other folks's. I might as well join in the safe old tum, tum ;
A hero's an excellent loadstar,--but, bless ye, What infinite odds 'twixt a hero to come
And your only too palpable hero in esse! Precisely the odds (such examples are rife)
'Twixt the poem conceived and the rhyme we make show of, 'Twixt the boy's morning dream and the
wake-up of life, 'Twixt the Blondel God meant and a Blondel I know of !
But the world's better off, I'm convinced of it now,
Than if heroes, like buns, could be bought for a penny
To regard all mankind as their haltered milch-cow,
And just care for themselves. Well, God cares for the
For somehow the poor old Earth blunders along,
Each son of hers adding his mite of unfitness,
And, choosing the sure way of coming out wrong,
Gets to port as the next generation will witness.
You think her old ribs have come all crashing through,
If a whisk of Fate's broom snap your cobweb asunder;
But her rivets were clinched by a wiser than you,
And our sins cannot push the Lord's right hand from under. Better one honest man who can wait for God's mind In our poor shifting scene
here though heroes were plenty ! Better one bite, at forty, of Truth's bitter rind,
Than the hot wine that gushed from the vintage of twenty ! I see it all now: when I wanted a king,
'Twas the kingship that failed in myself I was seeking, — 'Tis so much less easy to do than to sing,
So much simpler to reign by a proxy than be king! Yes, I think I do see ; after all's said and sung,
Take this one rule of life and you never will rue it,'Tis but do your own duty and hold your own tongue
And Blondel were royal himself, if he knew it !
BENEATH the trees,
My life-long friends in this dear spot,
Sad now for eyes that see them not
I hear the autumnal breeze
Wake the sear leaves to sigh for gladness gone,
Whispering hoarse presage of oblivion,-
Hear, restless as the seas,
Time's grim feet rustling through the withered grace
Of many a spreading realm and strong-stemmed race,
Even as my own through these.
Why make we moan
For loss that doth enrich us yet
With upward yearnings of regret?
Bleaker than unmossed stone
Our lives were but for this immortal gain
Of unstilled longing and inspiring pain !
As thrills of long-hushed tone
Live in the viol, so our souls grow fine
With keen vibrations from the touch divine
Of noble natures gone.
To vex the shy and sacred grief
With harsh obtrusions of relief;
Yet, Verse, with noiseless feet,
Go whisper : “ This death hath far choicer ends
Than slowly to impearl in hearts of friends ;
These obsequies 'tis meet
Not to seclude in closets of the heart,
But, church-like, with wide doorways, to impart
Even to the heedless street."
Brave, good, and true,
I see him stand before me now,
And read again on that young brow,
Where every hope was new,
How sweet were life! Yet, by the mouth firm-set,
And look made up for Duty's utmost debt,
I could divine he knew
That death within the sulphurous hostile lines,
In the mere wreck of nobly-pitched designs,
Plucks heart's-ease, and not rue.
Happy their end
Who vanish down life's evening stream
Placid as swans that drift in dream
Round the next river-bend !
Happy long lise, with honour at the close,
Friends' painless tears, the softened thought of foes !
And yet, like him, to spend All at a gush, keeping our first faith sure From mid-life's doubt and eld's contentment poor,
What more could Fortune send ?
Right in the van,
On the red rampart's slippery swell,
With heart that beat a charge, he fell
Foeward as fits a man;
But the high soul burns on to light men's feet
Where death for noble ends makes dying sweet;
His life her crescent's span
Orbs full with share in their undarkening days
Who ever climbed the battailous steeps of praise
Since valour's praise began.