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So, when she died, it was scarce more strange
Than that, when delicate evening dies,
There's a shoot of colour startles the skies
As they put the little cross to her lips,
A spark from her eye in mid-eclipse,
“All the rest is gone or to go; “But the last, last grace, my all, my own, “Let it stay in the grave, that the ghosts may
know! “Leave my poor gold hair alone!". The passion thus vented, dead lay she;
Her parents sobbed their worst on that;
For indeed the hair was to wonder at,
And coiled beside her cheeks, like a cap,
To her breast, pressed flat, without a gap l' the gold, it reached her gown. All kissed that face, like a silver wedge
Mid the yellow wealth, nor disturbed its hair: E'en the priest allowed death's privilege,
As he planted the crucifix with care On her breast, 'twixt edge and edge. And thus was she buried, inviolate
Of body and soul, in the very space By the altar; keeping saintly state
In Pornic church, for her pride of race, Pure life and piteous fate.
And in after-time would your fresh tear fall, Though your mouth might twitch with a
dubious smile, As they told you of gold, both robe and pall,
How she prayed them leave it alone awhile, So it never was touched at all.
Years flew; this legend grew at last
The life of the lady; all she had done, All been, in the memories fading fast
Of lover and friend, was summed in one Sentence survivors passed:
To wit, she was meant for heaven, not earth;
Had turned an angel before the time: Yet, since she was mortal, in such dearth
Of frailty, all you could count a crime Was—she knew her gold hair's worth.
At little pleasant Pornic church,
It chanced, the pavement wanted repair, Was taken to pieces: left in the lurch,
A certain sacred space lay bare, And the boys began research.
'Twas the space where our sires would lay
a saint, A benefactor,-a bishop, suppose, A baron with armour-adornments quaint,
Dame with chased ring and jewelled rose, Things sanctity saves from taint;
So we come to find them in after-days
For the boys get pelf, and the town applauds, And the church deserves the praise,
They grubbed with a will: and at lengthO cor
Humanum, pectora cæca, and the rest!They found-no gaud they were prying for, No ring, no rose, but—who would have
guessed ?A double Louis-d'or! Here was a case for the priest: he heard,
Marked, inwardly digested, laid Finger on nose, smiled, “There's a bird
"Chirps in my ear":"then, “ Bring a spade, “Dig deeper!"—he gave the word. And lo, when they came to the coffin-lid,
Or rotten planks which composed it once,
A mint of money, it served for the nonce
(She the stainless soul) to treasure up Money, earth's trash and heaven's affront?
Had a spider found out the communion-cup, Was a toad in the christening font? Truth is truth: too true it was.
Gold! She hoarded and hugged it first, Longed for it, leaned o'er it, loved it-alas
Till the humour grew to a head and burst, And she cried, at the final pass,“Talk not of God, my heart is stone!
“Nor lover nor friend-be gold for both! “Gold I lack; and, my all, my own,
“ It shall hide in my hair. I scarce die loth
And duly double, every piece.
With parents preventing her soul's release
With heaven's gold gates about to ope,
With friends' praise, gold-like, lingering still, An instinct had bidden the girl's hand grope For gold, the true sort—"Gold in heaven, if
you will; "But I keep earth's too, I hope.” Enough! The priest took the grave's grim yield:
The parents, they eyed that price of sin
On the place to bury strangers in,
“It would build a new altar; that, we may!" And the altar therewith was built. Why I deliver this horrible verse ? .
As the text of a sermon, which now I preach: Evil or good may be better or worse
In the human heart, but the mixture of each
That the Christian faith proves false, I find; For our Essays-and-Reviews' debate
Begins to tell on the public mind,
See reasons and reasons; this, to begin: 'Tis the faith that launched point-blank her dart
At the head of a lie-taught Original Sin, The Corruption of Man's Heart.
THE WORST OF IT
On my speckled hide; not you, the pride
On her wonder of white must unswan, undo!
I had dipped in life's struggle and, out again.
Bore specks of it here, there, easy to see, When I found my swan and the cure was plain;
The dull turned bright as I caught your white On my bosom: you saved me—saved in vain
If you ruined yourself, and all through me!
Yes, (all through the speckled beast that I am,
Who taught you to stoop; you gave me yourself, And bound your soul by the vows that damn:
Since on better thought you break, as you ought, Vows—words, no angel set down, some elf
Mistook,-for an oath, an epigram!
Yes, might I judge you, here were my heart,
And a hundred its like, to treat as you pleased ! I choose to be yours, for my proper part,
Yours, leave or take, or mar me or make; If I acquiesce, why should you be teased
With the conscience-prickand the memory-smart?
But what will God say? Oh, my sweet,
Think, and be sorry you did this thing Though earth were unworthy to feel your feet,
There's a heaven above may deserve your love: Should you forfeit heaven for a snapt gold ring
And a promise broke, were it just or meet?