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Like a train of fire as ye run !
Pause not for choosing of words,
Let them but blossom and sing
Blithe as the orchards and birds
With the new coming of spring!
Dance in your jollity, bells,
Shout, cannon, cease not, ye drums,
Answer, ye hill-sides and dells,
Bow, all ye people, she comes,
Radiant, calm-fronted as when
She hallowed that April day :
Stay with us! Yes, thou shalt stay,
Softener and strengthener of men,
Freedom, not won by the vain,
Not to be courted in play,
Not to be kept without pain !
Stay with us! Yes, thou wilt stay,
Handmaid and mistress of all,
Kindler of deed and of thought,
Thou, that to hut and to hall
Equal deliverance brought !
Souls of her martyrs, draw near,
Touch our dull lips with your fire,
That we may praise without fear
Her, our delight, our desire,
Our saith's inextinguishable star,
Our hope, our remembrance, our trust,
Our present, our past, our to be,
Who will mingle lier life with our dust
And make us deserve to be free!
While the slow clock, as they were miser's gold,
Counts and recounts the mornward steps of Time,
The darkness thrills with conscience of each crime
By Death committed, daily grown more cold ;
Once more the list of all my wrongs is told,
And ghostly hands stretch to me from my prime,
Helpless farewells, as from an alien clime ;
For each new loss redoubles all the old.
This morn 'twas May; the blossoms were astir
With southern wind; but now the boughs are bent
With snow instead of birds, and all things freeze :
How much of all my past is dumb with her,
And of my future, too, for with her went
Half of that world I ever cared to please !
May 13th, 1877
As sinks the sun behind yon alien hills,
Whose heather-purpled slopes, in glory round
Flush all my thoughts with momentary gold
What pang of vain regret my fancy thrills !
Here 'tis enchanted ground the peasant tills,
Where the shy ballad dared its blooms unfold,
And memory's glamour makes new sights seem old,
As when our life some vanished dream fulfils;
Yet not to thee belong these painless tears,
Land loved, ere seen; before my darkened eyes,
From far beyond the waters and the years,
Horizons mute that wait their poet rise ;
The stream before me faints and disappears,
And in the shades the western splendour dies.
ON BEING ASKED FOR AN AUTOGRAPH IN VENICE.
Amid these fragments of heroic days,
When thought met deed with mutual passions' leap,
There sits a Fame whose silent trump makes cheap
What short-lived rumour of ourselves we raise ;
They had far other estimate of praise
Who stamped the signet of their soul so deep
In art and action, and whose memories keep
Their height like stars above our misty ways ;
In this grave presence to record my name,
Something within me hangs the head and shrinks ;
Dull were the soul without some joy in Fame :
Yet here to claim remembrance were, methinks,
Like him who in the desert's awful frame,
Notches his cockney initials on the sphinx.
Far over Ell-land poets sketch their sway,
And win their dearest crowns beyond the goal
Of their cwn conscious purpose; they control
With gossamer threads wide-flown our fancy's play,
And so our action. On my walk to-day
A wallowing bear begged clumsily his toll,
When straight a vision rose of Atta Troll,
And scenes ideal witched mine eyes away.
“Merci, Mossiew !” the astonished bear-ward cried,
Grateful for thrice his hope to me, the slave
Of partial memory, seeing at his side
A bear immortal ; the glad dole I gave
Was none of mine ; poor Heine o'er the wide
Atlantic water reached it from his grave.
June 11th, 1875.
UNCONSCIOUS as the sunshine, simply sweet,
And generous as that, thou dost not close
Thyself in art, as life were but a rose
To rumple bee-like with luxurious feet ;
Thy higher mind therein finds sure retreat,
But not from care of common hopes and woes :
Thee the dark chamber, thee the unfriended knows,
Although no gaping crowds thy praise repeat;
Consummate artist, who life's landscape bleak
Hast brimmed with sun, to many a clouded eye,
Touched to a brighter hue the beggar's cheek,
Hung over orphan lives a gracious sky,
And traced for eyes, that else would vainly seek,
Fair pictures of an angel drawing nigh.
FLORENCE, ITALY, January 1874.
WRITTEN IN A CHILD'S ALBUNI.
'Twas sung of old in hut and hall,
How once a king in evil hour
Hung musing o'er his castle wall,
And, lost in idle dreams, let fall
Into the sea his ring of power.
Then, let him sorrow as he might,
And pledge his daughter and his throne
To who restored the jewel bright,
The broken spell would ne'er unite;
The grim old ocean held his own.
Those awsul powers on man that wait,
On man, the beggar or the king,
To hovel bare or hall of state,
A magic ring that masters fale
On each succeeding birthday bring.
Therein are set four jewels rare;
Pearl winter, summer's ruby blaze,
Spring's emerald, and than all more fair,
Fate's pensive opal doomed to bear
A pearl of fire bedreamed with haze.
To him the simple spell who knows,
The spirits of the ring to sway,
Fresh power with every sunrise flows,
And royal pursuivants are those
That fly his mandates to obey.
But he that with a slackened will
Dreams of things past or things to be,
From him the charm is slipping still,
And drops ere he suspect the ill
Into the inexorable sea.
Don't believe in the Flying Dutchman !
Well, I have known him for years ; My button I've wrenched from his clutch, inan,
I shudder whenever he nears. He's a Rip Van Winkle skipper,
A Wandering Jew of the sea, Who sails his bedevilled old clipper
In the mind's eye, straight as a bee. Back topsails, you can't escape him,
The man ropes stretch with his weight, And the queerest old toggeries drape him,
The Lord knows how far out of date.
Like a long disembodied idea,
A kind of ghost plentisul now ;
He stands there ; you fancy you see a
Cæval of Teniers or Douw.
He greets you ; would have you take letters,
You scan the addresses with dreal, Whiie he mutters his donners and wetters
They're all from the dead to the dead. You seem taking time for reflection,
But the heart fills your throat with a jam, As you spell in each faded direction,
An ominous ending in “dam."
Am I tagging my rhymes to a legend,
That were changing green turtle to mock, No thank you ; I've found out which wedge end
Is meant for the head of the block. The fellow I have in my mind's eye
Plays the old Skipper's part upon shore, And sticks like a burr till he finds I
Have got just the gauge of his bore. This postman twixt one ghost and t' other
With last dates that smell of the mould ; I have met him ; O man and brother
(Forgive me !) in azure and gold. In the pulpit I've known of his preaching,
Out of hearing behind the times Some statement
of Balaam impeaching, Giving Eve a due sense of her crimes. I have seen him some poor ancient thrashing
Into something (God save us !) more dry; With the Water of Life itself washing,
The life out of earth, sea, and sky. O dread fellow-mortal ; get newer
Despatches to carry, or none; We're as quick as the Greek and the Jew were,
As knowing a loaf from a stone. Till the Couriers of God fail in duty
We shan't ask a mummy for news, Nor sate the soul's hunger for beauty
With your drawings from casts of a Muse.