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The endless craving of the soul but love ?
Now, in those days of simpleness and faith,
Young Rhæcus had a faithful heart enough, But one that in the present dwelt too much, And, taking with blithe welcome whatsoe'er Chance gave of joy, was wholly bound in that, Like the contented peasant of
vale, Deemed it the world, and never looked beyond. So, haply meeting in the afternoon Some comrades who were playing at the dice, He joined them and forgot all else beside.
The dice were rattling at the merriest, And Rhæcus, who had met but sorry luck, Just laughed in triumph at a happy throw, When through the room there hummed a yellow
bee That buzzed about his ear with down-dropped legs As if to light. And Rhæcus laughed and said, Feeling how red and flushed he was with loss, “ By Venus ! does he take me for a rose ? ” And brushed him off with rough, impatient hand. But still the bee came back, and thrice again Rhæcus did beat him off with growing wrath. Then through the window flew the wounded bee, And Rhæcus, tracking him with angry eyes, Saw a sharp mountain-peak of Thessaly Against the red disc of the setting sun, And instantly the blood sank from his heart, As if its very walls had caved away. Without a word he turned, and, rushing forth, Ran madly through the city and the gate, And o’er the plain, which now the wood's long
shade, By the low sun thrown forward broad and dim, Darkened wellnigh unto the city's wall.
Quite spent and out of breath he reached the
tree, And, listening fearfully, he heard once more The low voice murmur “Rhæcus !” close at hand : Whereat he looked around him, but could see Nought but the deepening glooms beneath the oak. Then sighed the voice, “ Oh, Rhæcus! nevermore Shalt thou behold me or by day or night, Me, who would fain have blessed thee with a love More ripe and bounteous than ever yet Filled up with nectar any mortal heart : But thou didst scorn my humble messenger,
And sent'st him back to me with bruised wings.
Then Rhecus beat his breast, and groaned aloud, And cried, “ Be pitiful! forgive me yet This once, and I shall never need it more !” “ Alas !” the voice returned, “ 'tis thou art blind, Not I unmerciful ; I can forgive, But have no skill to heal thy spirit's eyes ; Only the soul hath power o'er itself.” With that again there murmured “ Nevermore! ” And Rhæcus after heard no other sound, Except the rattling of the oak’s crisp leaves, Like the long surf upon a distant shore, Raking the sea-worn pebbles up and down. The night had gathered round him: o'er the plain The city sparkled with its thousand lights, And sounds of revel fell
upon Harshly and like a curse ; above, the sky, With all its bright sublimity of stars, Deepened, and on his forehead smote the breeze: Beauty was all around him and delight, But from that eve he was alone on earth.
I KNOW a falcon swift and peerless
As e'er was cradled in the pine ; No bird had ever eye so fearless,
Or wing so strong as this of mine.
The winds not better love to pilot
A cloud with molten gold o’errun, Than him, a little burning islet,
A star above the coming sun.
For with a lark's heart he doth tower,
By a glorious, upward instinct drawn; No bee nestles deeper in the flower
Than he in the bursting rose of dawn.
No harmless dove, no bird that singeth,
Shudders to see him overhead; The rush of his fierce swooping bringeth
To innocent hearts no thrill of dread.
Let fraud and wrong and baseness shiver,
For still between them and the sky The falcon Truth hangs poised forever
And marks them with his vengeful eye. TRIAL.
WHETHER the idle prisoner through his grate
Yet are there other gifts more fair than thine,