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THOUGH old the thought and oft exprest,
"T is his at last who says it best,
I'll try my fortune with the rest.

Life is a leaf of paper white
Whereon each one of us may write
His word or two, and then comes night.

"Lo, time and space enough," we cry,
"To write an epic!" so we try
Our nibs upon the edge, and die.

Muse not which way the pen to hold,
Luck hates the slow and loves the bold,
Soon come the darkness and the cold.

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Ah, with what lofty hope we came ! But we forget it, dream of fame, And scrawl, as I do here, a name.


THE dandelions and buttercups
Gild all the lawn; the drowsy bee
Stumbles among the clover-tops,
And summer sweetens all but me:
Away, unfruitful lore of books,
For whose vain idiom we reject
The soul's more native dialect,
Aliens among the birds and brooks,
Dull to interpret or conceive
What gospels lost the woods retrieve !
Away, ye critics, city-bred,
Who springes set of thus and so,
And in the first man's footsteps tread,
Like those who toil through drifted snow!
Away, my poets, whose sweet spell
Can make a garden of a cell!

I need ye not, for I to-day

Will make one long sweet verse of play.

Snap, chord of manhood's tenser strain !
To-day I will be a boy again;
The mind's pursuing element,
Like a bow slackened and unbent,
In some dark corner shall be leant.
The robin sings, as of old, from the limb!
The cat-bird croons in the lilac-bush!
Through the dim arbor, himself more dim,
Silently hops the hermit-thrush,
The withered leaves keep dumb for him;
The irreverent buccaneering bee

Hath stormed and rifled the nunnery
Of the lily, and scattered the sacred floor
With haste - dropt gold from shrine to

There, as of yore,

The rich, milk-tingeing buttercup
Its tiny polished urn holds up,
Filled with ripe summer to the edge,
The sun in his own wine to pledge;
And our tall elm, this hundredth year
Doge of our leafy Venice here,
Who, with an annual ring, doth wed
The blue Adriatic overhead,
Shadows with his palatial mass
The deep canals of flowing grass.

O unestranged birds and bees !
O face of Nature always true!

O never-unsympathizing trees!
O never-rejecting roof of blue,
Whose rash disherison never falls
On us unthinking prodigals,
Yet who convictest all our ill,
So grand and unappeasable !
Methinks my heart from each of these
Plucks part of childhood back again,
Long there imprisoned, as the breeze
Doth every hidden odor seize
Of wood and water, hill and plain;
Once more am I admitted peer
In the upper house of Nature here,
And feel through all my pulses run
The royal blood of wind and sun.

Upon these elm-arched solitudes
No hum of neighbor toil intrudes;
The only hammer that I hear
Is wielded by the woodpecker,
The single noisy calling his
In all our leaf-hid Sybaris;
The good old time, close-hidden here,
Persists, a loyal cavalier,

While Roundheads prim, with point of fox,
Probe wainscot-chink and empty box;
Here no hoarse-voiced iconoclast
Insults thy statues, royal Past;
Myself too prone the axe to wield,

I touch the silver side of the shield
With lance reversed, and challenge peace,
A willing convert of the trees.

How chanced it that so long I tost
A cable's length from this rich coast,
With foolish anchors hugging close
The beckoning weeds and lazy ooze,
Nor had the wit to wreck before
On this enchanted island's shore,
Whither the current of the sea,
With wiser drift, persuaded me?

Oh, might we but of such rare days
Build up the spirit's dwelling-place!
A temple of so Parian stone

Would brook a marble god alone,
The statue of a perfect life,
Far-shrined from earth's bestaining strife.
Alas! though such felicity

In our vext world here may not be,
Yet, as sometimes the peasant's hut
Shows stones which old religion cut
With text inspired, or mystic sign
Of the Eternal and Divine,
Torn from the consecration deep

Of some fallen nunnery's mossy sleep,
So, from the ruins of this day
Crumbling in golden dust away,
The soul one gracious block may draw,
Carved with some fragment of the law,
Which, set in life's prosaic wall,
Old benedictions may recall,

And lure some nunlike thoughts to take
Their dwelling here for memory's sake.



HE came to Florence long ago,
And painted here these walls, that shone
For Raphael and for Angelo,
With secrets deeper than his own,
Then shrank into the dark again,
And died, we know not how or when.

The shadows deepened, and I turned
Half sadly from the fresco grand;
"And is this," mused I, "all ye earned,
High-vaulted brain and cunning hand,
That ye to greater men could teach
The skill yourselves could never reach ?"

"And who were they," I mused, "that wrought

Through pathless wilds, with labor long, The highways of our daily thought? Who reared those towers of earliest song That lift us from the crowd to peace Remote in sunny silences?"

Out clanged the Ave Mary bells,
And to my heart this message came:
Each clamorous throat among them tells
What strong-souled martys died in flame
To make it possible that thou

Shouldst here with brother sinners bow.

Thoughts that great hearts once broke for,


Breathe cheaply in the common air;
The dust we trample heedlessly

Throbbed once in saints and heroes rare,
Who perished, opening for their race
New pathways to the commonplace.

Henceforth, when rings the health to those
Who live in story and in song,

O nameless dead, that now repose

Safe in Oblivion's chambers strong,
One cup of recognition true
Shall silently be drained to you!


"Madrid, January 15, 1879. I wrote some verses thirty odd years ago called Without and Within, and they originally ended with the author's looking up at the stars through six feet of earth and feeling dreadfully bored, while a passer-by deciphers the headstone and envies the supposed sleeper beneath. I was persuaded to leave out this ending as too grimbut I often think of it. They have a fine name for this kind of feeling nowadays, and would fain make out pessimism to be a monstrous birth of our century. I suspect it has always been common enough, especially with naughty children who get tired of their playthings as soon as I do the absurdity being that then we are not content with smashing the toy which turns out to be finite- but everything else into the bargain." J. R. L. to Miss Grace Norton. Letters II. 236.

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GODMINSTER? Is it Fancy's play?
I know not, but the word
Sings in my heart, nor can I say

Whether 't was dreamed or heard;
Yet fragrant in my mind it clings.
As blossoms after rain,

And builds of half-remembered things
This vision in my brain.

Through aisles of long-drawn centuries
My spirit walks in thought,
And to that symbol lifts its eyes

Which God's own pity wrought;
From Calvary shines the altar's gleam,
The Church's East is there,
The Ages one great minster seem,

That throbs with praise and prayer.

And all the way from Calvary down
The carven pavement shows
Their graves who won the martyr's crown
And safe in God repose;

The saints of many a warring creed
Who now in heaven have learned
That all paths to the Father lead

Where Self the feet have spurned.

And, as the mystic aisles I pace,

By aureoled workmen built, Lives ending at the Cross I trace Alike through grace and guilt; One Mary bathes the blessed feet With ointment from her eyes,

With spikenard one, and both are sweet, For both are sacrifice.

Moravian hymn and Roman chant
In one devotion blend,

To speak the soul's eternal want
Of Him, the inmost friend;

One prayer soars cleansed with martyr fire,

One choked with sinner's tears, In heaven both meet in one desire, And God one music hears.

Whilst thus I dream, the bells clash out Upon the Sabbath air,

Each seems a hostile faith to shout,

A selfish form of prayer;

My dream is shattered, yet who knows
But in that heaven so near
These discords find harmonious close
In God's atoning ear?

O chime of sweet Saint Charity,
Peal soon that Easter morn
When Christ for all shall risen be,
And in all hearts new-born!
That Pentecost when utterance clear
To all men shall be given,
When all shall say My Brother here,
And hear My Son in heaven!


WHO hath not been a poet? Who hath not, With life's new quiver full of winged


Shot at a venture, and then, following on, Stood doubtful at the Parting of the Ways?

There once I stood in dream, and as paused,

This slippery globe of life whirls of itself, Hasting our youth away into the dark; These senses, quivering with electric heats, Too soon will show, like nests on wintry boughs

Obtrusive emptiness, too palpable wreck, Which whistling north-winds line with downy snow

Sometimes, or fringe with foliaged rime, in vain,

Thither the singing birds no more return."

Then glowed to me a maiden from the left,

With bosom half disclosed, and naked


More white and undulant than necks of swans;

And all before her steps an influence ran Warm as the whispering South that opens buds

And swells the laggard sails of Northern May.

"I am called Pleasure, come with me!" she said,

Then laughed, and shook out sunshine from her hair,

Nor only that, but, so it seemed, shook out All memory too, and all the moonlit past, Old loves, old aspirations, and old dreams, More beautiful for being old and gone.

So we two went together; downward sloped

The path through yellow meads, or so I dreamed,

Yellow with sunshine and young green,

but I

Saw naught nor heard, shut up in one close joy;

II only felt the hand within my own, Transmuting all my blood to golden fire, Dissolving all my brain in throbbing mist.

Looking this way and that, came forth

to me

The figure of a woman veiled, that said, "My name is Duty, turn and follow me;" Something there was that chilled me in her voice;

I felt Youth's hand grow slack and cold in mine,

As if to be withdrawn, and I exclaimed: "Oh, leave the hot wild heart within my breast!

Duty comes soon enough, too soon comes Death;

Suddenly shrank the hand; suddenly burst A cry that split the torpor of my brain, And as the first sharp thrust of lightning loosens

From the heaped cloud its rain, loosened my sense:

"Save me!" it thrilled; "oh, hide me! there is Death!

Death the divider, the unmerciful,
That digs his pitfalls under Love and

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The heart grows hardened with perpetual wont,

And palters with a feigned necessity,
Bargaining with itself to be content;
Let me behold thy face."
The Form replied:
"Men follow Duty, never overtake;
Duty nor lifts her veil nor looks behind."
But, as she spake, a loosened lock of hair
Slipped from beneath her hood, and I, who

To see it gray and thin, saw amplest gold;
Not that dull metal dug from sordid earth,
But such as the retiring sunset flood
Leaves heaped on bays and capes of island

"O Guide divine," I prayed, "although not yet


may repair the virtue which I feel Gone out at touch of untuned things and


With draughts of Beauty, yet declare how soon!"

"Faithless and faint of heart," the voice returned,

"Thou seest no beauty save thou make it first;

Man, Woman, Nature each is but a glass Where the soul sees the image of herself, Visible echoes, offsprings of herself.

But, since thou need'st assurance of how soon,

Wait till that angel comes who opens all,
The reconciler, he who lifts the veil,
The reuniter, the rest-bringer, Death.”

I waited, and methought he came; but how,

Or in what shape, I doubted, for no sign, By touch or mark, he gave me as he


Only I knew a lily that I held
Snapt short below the head and shrivelled

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