Слике страница
PDF
ePub

So, when she died, it was scarce more strange

Than that, when delicate evening dies,
And you follow its spent sun's pallid range,

There's a shoot of colour startles the skies
With sudden, violent change,-
That, while the breath was nearly to seek,

As they put the little cross to her lips,
She changed; a spot came out on her cheek,

A spark from her eye in mid-eclipse,
And she broke forth, “I must speak!”
“Not my hair!” made the girl her moan-

“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;
All friends joined in, nor observed degree:

For indeed the hair was to wonder at,
As it spread-not flowing free,
But curled around her brow, like a crown,

And coiled beside her cheeks, like a cap,
And calmed about her neck—ay, down

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
When the corpse is presumed to have done

with gauds
Of use to the living, in many ways:

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,
Why, there lay the girl's skull wedged amid

A mint of money, it served for the nonce
To hold in its hair-heaps hid!
Hid there? Why? Could the girl be wont

(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
“If they let my hair alone!”.
Louis-d'or, some six times five,

And duly double, every piece.
Now do you see? With the priest to shrive,

With parents preventing her soul's release
By kisses that kept alive,

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
As if thirty pieces lay revealed

On the place to bury strangers in,
The hideous Potter's Field.
But the priest bethought him: “Milk that's

spilt'
- You know the adage! Watch and pray!
“ Saints tumble to earth with so slight a tilt!

“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
Is a marvel and a curse.
The candid incline to surmise of late

That the Christian faith proves false, I find; For our Essays-and-Reviews' debate

Begins to tell on the public mind,
And Colenso's words have weight:
I still, to suppose it true, for my part,

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
ITOULD it were I had been false, not you!
VV I that am nothing, not you that are all:
I, never the worse for a touch or two

On my speckled hide; not you, the pride
Of the day, my swan, that a first fleck's fall

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?

[blocks in formation]
« ПретходнаНастави »