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Had she willed it, still had stood the screen
So slight, so sure, 'twixt my love and her : I could fix her face with a guard between,
And find her soul as when friends confer, Friends-lovers that might have been.
XLI. For my heart had a touch of the woodland time,
Wanting to sleep now over its best. Shake the whole tree in the summer-prime,
But bring to the last leaf no such test ! “ Hold the last fast!” runs the rhyme.
For a chance to make your little much,
To gain a lover and lose a friend, Venture the tree and a myriad such,
When nothing you mar but the year can mend : But a last leaf— fear to touch !
Yet should it unfasten itself and fall
Eddying down till it find your face
Be your heart henceforth its dwelling-place
That hair so dark and dear, how worth
And taste a veriest hell on earth For the hope of such a prize!
You might have turned and tried a man,
Set him a space to weary and wear, And prove which suited more your plan,
His best of hope or his worst despair, Yet end as he began.
But you spared me this, like the heart you are,
And filled my empty heart at a word. If two lives join, there is oft a scar,
They are one and one, with a shadowy third ; One near one is too far.
A moment after, and hands unseen
Were hanging the night around us fast; But we knew that a bar was broken between
Life and life: we were mixed at last In spite of the mortal screen.
The forests had done it; there they stood ;
We caught for a moment the powers at play: They had mingled us so, for once and good,
Their work was done—we might go or stay, They relapsed to their ancient mood.
How the world is made for each of us !
How all we perceive and know in it Tends to some moment's product thus,
When a soul declares itself—to wit, By its fruit, the thing it does !
Be hate that fruit or love that fruit,
It forwards the general deed of man, And each of the Many helps to recruit
The life of the race by a general plan; Each living his own, to boot.
I am named and known by that moment's feat;
There took my station and degree; So grew my own small life complete,
As nature obtained her best of me One born to love you, sweet !
And to watch you sink by the fire-side now
Back again, as you mutely sit Musing by fire-light, that great brow
And the spirit-small hand propping it, Yonder, my heart knows how !
So, earth has gained by one man the more,
And the gain of earth must be heaven's gain too; And the whole is well worth thinking o'er
When autumn comes : which I mean to do One day, as I said before.
ANY WIFE TO ANY HUSBAND.
My love, this is the bitterest, that thou-
As thine eyes say, as thy voice breaks to say-
Would death, that leads me from thee, brook delay.
I have but to be by thee, and thy hand
The beating of my heart to reach its place.
Never, I know! Thy soul is in thy face.
Oh, I should fade—'t is willed so! Might I save,
Joy to thy sense, for that was precious too.
Vainly the flesh fades ; soul makes all things new.
It would not be because my eye grew dim
Who never is dishonoured in the spark
While that burns on, though all the rest grow dark.
So, how thou wouldst be perfect, white and clean
Alike, this body given to show it by!
Couldst thou repeat a stroke and gain the sky !
And is it not the bitterer to think
Although thy love was love in very deed ?
Nor bid its niusic's loitering echo speed.
Thou let'st the stranger's glove lie where it fell;
For thou art grateful as becomes man best:
With thee would such things fade as with the rest.