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II.

A BALLAD.

1.

And again to the child I whispered, “ The show that husheth all,

He mounted and rode three days and Darling, the merciful Father

nights Alone can make it fill!"

Till he came to Vanity Fair, Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed And 't was easy to buy the gems and

the silk, her; And she, kissing back, could not

But no Singing Leaves were there. know That my kiss was given to her sister,

Then deep in the greenwood rode he, Folded close under deepening snow.

And asked of every tree,
O, if you have ever a Singing Leaf,

I pray you give it me!”
THE SINGING LEAVES.

But the trees all kept their counsel,

And never a word said they,
Only there sighed from the pine-tops

A music of seas far away. “What fairings will ye that I bring?" Only the pattering aspen

Said the King to his daughters three ; Made a sound of growing rain, "For I to Vanity Fair am boun, That fell ever faster and faster, Now say what shall they be?"

Then faltered to silence again. Then up and spake the eldest daughter, “0, where shall I find a little foot-page That lady tall and grand :

That would win both hose and shoon, “O, bring me pearls and diamonds great, and will bring to me the Singing Leaves And gold rings for niy band."

If they grow under the moon ?" Thereafter spake the second daughter,

Then lightly turned him Walter the That was both white and red : “For me bring silks that will stand

page,

By the stirrup as he ran : alone, And a gold comb for my head."

“Now pledge you me the truesome word

Of a king and gentleman, Then came the turn of the least daughter,

“That you will give me the first, first That was whiter than thistle-down,

thing And among the gold of her blithesome

You meet at your castle-gate, hair

And the Princess shall get the Singing Dim shone the golden crown.

Leaves,

Or mine be a traitor's fate." “ There came a bird this morning,

And sang 'neath my bower eaves, The King's head dropt upon his breast Till I dreamed, as his music made me, A monient, as it might be ; Ask thou for the Singing Leaves." "T will be my dog, he thought, and said,

“My faith I plight to thee." Then the brow of the King swelled crimson

Then Walter took from next his heart With a Hush of angry scorn :

A packet small and thin, “Well have ye spoken, my two eldest,

Now give you this to the Princess And chosen as ye were born ;

Anne, “ But she, like a thing of peasant race,

The Singing Leaves are therein." That is happy binding the sheaves" ; Then he saw her dead mother in her

face, And said, “Thou shalt have thy As the King rode in at his castle-gate, leaves."

A maiden to meet him ran,

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III.

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And “Welcome, father!" she laughed And all the mint and anise that I pay and cried

But swells my debt and deepens my Together, the Princess Anne.

self-blame. “ Lo, here the Singing Leaves," quoth Shall I less patience have than Thou, he,

who know “ And woe, but they cost me dear!” That Thou revisit'st all who wait for She took the packet, and the smile

thee, Deepened down beneath the tear.

Nor only fill'st the unsounded deeps

below, It deepened down till it reached her heart,

But dost refresh with punctual overflow And then gushed up again,

The rifts where unregarded mosses be? And lighted her tears as the sudden sun Transfigures the summer rain. The drooping sea-weed hears, in night

abyssed, And the first Leaf, when it was opened, Far and more far the wave's receding Sang : “I am Walter the page,

shocks, And the songs 1 sing 'neath thy window Nor doubts, for all the darkness and the Are my only heritage."

mist,

That the pale shepherdess will keep her And the second Leaf sang : “But in the

tryst, land

And shoreward lead again her foam. That is neither on earth or sea,

fleeced flocks. My lute and I are lords of more Than thrice this kingdom's fee."

For the same wave that rims the Carib And the third Leaf sang, “Be mine! With momentary brede of pearl and

shore Be mine!” And ever it sang, “ Be mine!"

gold,

Goes hurrying thence to gladden with Then sweeter it sang and ever sweeter,

its roar And said, “I am thine, thine, thine!" Lorn weeds bound fast on rocks of Lab

rador, At the first Leaf she grew pale enough, By love 'divine on one sweet errand At the second she turned aside,

rolled. At the third, 't was as if a lily flushed With a rose's red heart's tide.

And, though Thy healing waters far “Good counsel gave the bird,” said she, 1, too, can wait and feed on hope of

withdraw, I have my hope thrice o'er, For they sing to my very heart,” she and of the dear recurrence of Thy law,

Thee said,

Sure that the parting grace my morning " And it sings to them evermore." She brought to him her beauty and Abides its time to come in search of me.

truth, But and broad earldoms three, And he made her queen of the broader

THE FINDING OF THE LYRE. lands He held of his lute in fee.

THERE lay upon the ocean's shore
What once a tortoise served to cover.

A year and more, with rush and roar,
SEA-WEED.

The surf had rolled it over,

Had played with it, and flung it by, Not always unimpeded can I pray, As wind and weather might decide it, Nor, pitying saint, thine intercession Then tossed it high where sand-drifts claim;

dry Too closely clings the burden of the day, Cheap burial might provide it.

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It rested there to bleach or tan,

And though no man nor nation The rains had soaked, the suns had Will move with full consent burned it;

In heavenly gravitation, With many a ban the fisherman

Yet by one Sun is every orbit bent.
Had stumbled o'er and spurned it;
And there the fisher-girl would stay,
Conjecturing with her brother

FOR AN AUTOGRAPH.
How in their play the poor estray
Might serve some use or other.

Though old the thought and oft ex

prest,
So there it lay, through wet and dry, 'T is his at last who says it best,
As empty as the last new sonnet, I'll try my fortune with the rest.
Till by and by came Mercury,
And, having mused upon it,

Life is a leaf of paper white
“Why, here,” cries he, “the thing of Whereon each one of us may write
things

His word or two, and then comes night. In shape, material, and dimension ! Give it but strings, and, lo, it sings,

“Lo, time and space enough,” we cry, A wonderful invention!”

“ To write an epic!" so we try.

Our nibs upon the edge, and die.
So said, so done; the chords he strained,
And, as his fingers o'er them hovered,

Muse not which way the pen to hold, The shell disdained a soul had gained, Luck hates the slow and loves the bold, The lyre had been discovered.

Soon come the darkness and the cold. O empty world that round us lies, Deal shell, of soul and thought forsaken, Greatly begin! though thou have time Brought we but eyes like Mercury's,

But for a line, be that sublime, In thee what songs should waken!

Not failure, but low aim, is crime.

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move on ;

Ah, with what lofty hope we came! NEW-YEAR'S EVE. 1850.

But we forget it, dream of fame,

And scrawl, as I do here, a name. This is the midnight of the century,

hark ! Through aisle and arch of Godminster

AL FRESCO. Twelve throbs that tolled the zenith of the dark,

The dandelions and buttercups And mornward now the starry hands Gild all the lawn; the drowsy bee

Stumbles among the clover-tops, “Mornward !" the angelic watchers say,

And summer sweetens all but me: Passed is the sorest trial;

Away, mfruitful lore of books, No plot of nian can stay

For whose vain idiom we reject The hand upon the dial;

The soul's more native dialect, Night is the dark stem of the lily, Day." Aliens among the birds and brooks,

Dull to interpret or conceive

What gospels lost the woods retrieve ! If we, who watched in valleys here below, Away, ye critics, city-bred, Toward streaks, misdeemed of morn, our Who set man-traps of thus and so, faces turned

And in the first man's footsteps tread, When volcan glares set all the cast | Like those who toil through dristed aglow,

snow ! We are not poorer that we wept and Away, my poets, whose sweet spell yearned ;

(an make a garden of a cell ! Though earth swing wide from God's I need ye not, for I to-day intent,

Will make one long sweet verse of play.

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Snar, chord of manhood's tenser | While Roundheads prim, with point of strain !

fox, To-day I will be a boy again;

Probe wainscot-chink and empty box; The inind's pursuing element,

Here no hoarse-voiced iconoclast
Like a bow slackened and unbent, Insults thy statues, royal Past;
In some dark corner shall be leant. Myself too prone the axe to wield,
The robin sings, as of old, from the I touch the silver side of the shield
limb!

With lance reversed, and challenge The catbird croons in the lilac-bush!

peace, Through the din arbor, himnself more A willing convert of the trees.

dim, Silently hops the hermit-thrush,

How chanced it that so long I tost The withered leaves keep dumb for him; A cable's length from this rich coast, The irreverent buccaneering bee

With foolish anchors hugging close Hath stormed and rifled the nunnery

The beckoning weeds and lazy ooze, Of the lily, and scattered the sacred Hoor Nor hail the wit to wreck before With haste-dropt gold froin shrine to On this enchanted island's shore, door;

Whither the current of the sea, There, as of yore,

With wiser drift, persuaded me? The rich, milk-tingeing buttercup

0, might we but of such rare days Its tiny polished uru holds up, Filled with ripe summer to the edge,

Build up the spirit's dwelling-place! The sun in his own wine to pledge;

A temple of so Parian stone

Would brook a marble god alone,
And onr tall elm, this hundredth year

The statue of a perfect life,
Doge of our leafy Venice here,
Who, with an annual ring, doth wed

Far-shrined from earth's bestaining

strife. The blue Adriatic overhead, Shadows with his palatial mass

Alas! though such felicity
The deep canals of flowing grass.

In our vext world here may not be,
Yet, as sometimes the peasant's hut

Show's stones which old religion cut
O unestranged birds and bees ! With text inspired, or mystic sign
O face of nature always true!

Of the Eternal and Divine, O never-unsympathizing trees!

Torn from the consecration deep O never-rejecting roof of blue,

Of some fallen nunnery's mossy sleep, Whose rash disherison never falls So, from the ruins of this day On us unthinking prodigals,

Crumbling in golden dust away, Yet who convictest all our ill,

The soul one gracious block may draw, So grand and unappeasable !

Carved with some fragment of the law, Methinks my heart from each of these Which, set in life's uneven wall, Plucks part of childhood back again, Old benedictions may recall, Long there imprisoned, as the breeze And lure some nunlike thoughts to take Doth every hidden odor seize

Their dwelling here for memory's sake.
Of wood and water, bill and plain ;
Once more am I admitted peer
In the upper liouse of Nature here,

MASACCIO.
And feel through all my pulses run
The royal blood of breeze and sun.

(IN THE BRANCACCI CHAPEL.)

He came to Florence long ago, Upon these elm-arched solitudes

And painted here these walls, that shone No hum of neighbor toil intrudes; For Raphael and for Angelo, The only hammer that I hear

With secrets deeper than his own, Is wieldled by the woodpecker,

Then shrank into the dark again, The single noisy calling his

And died, we know not how or when. In all our leaf-hid Sybaris; The good old time, close-hidden here, The shadows deepened, and I turned Persists, a loyal cavalier,

Half sadly from the fresco grand;

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