Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

The endless craving of the soul but love ?
Give me thy love, or but the hope of that
Which must be evermore my spirit's goal.”
After a little

pause

she said again, But with a glimpse of sadness in her tone, " I give it, Rhæcus, though a perilous gift; An hour before the sunset meet me here.' And straightway there was nothing he could see But the green glooms beneath the shadowy oak, And not a sound came to his straining ears But the low trickling rustle of the leaves, And far away upon an emerald slope The falter of an idle shepherd's pipe.

Now, in those days of simpleness and faith, Men did not think that happy things were dreams Because they overstepped the narrow bourne Of likelihood, but reverently deemed Nothing too wondrous or too beautiful To be the guerdon of a daring heart. So Rhæcus made no doubt that he was blest, And all along unto the city's gate Earth seemed to spring beneath him as he walked, The clear, broad sky looked bluer than its wont, And he could scarce believe he had not wings Such sunshine seemed to glitter through his veins Instead of blood, so light he felt and strange.

Young Rhæcus had a faithful heart enough, But one

that in the present dwelt too much, And, taking with blíthe welcome whatsoe'er Chance

gave of joy, was wholly bound in that,
Like the contented peasant of a 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.
We spirits only show to gentle eyes.
We ever ask an undivided love,
And he who scorns the least of Nature's works
Is thenceforth exiled and shut out from all.
Farewell! for thou canst never see me more.”

Then Rhæcus 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.

his ear

THE FALCON.

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.

I.

WHETHER the idle prisoner through his grate
Watches the waving of the grass-tuft small,
Which, having colonized its rift i' the wall,
Takes its free risk of good or evil fate,
And, from the sky's just helmet draws its lot
Daily of shower or sunshine, cold or hot ;-
Whether the closer captive of a creed,
Cooped up from birth to grind out endless chaff,
Sees through his treadmill-bars the noonday laugh,
And feels in vain his crumpled pinions breed ;
Whether the Georgian slave look up and mark,
With bellying sails puffed full, the tall cloud-bark
Sink northward slowly,—thou alone seem’st good,
Fair only thou, O Freedom, whose desire
Can light in muddiest souls quick seeds of fire,
And strain life's chords to the old heroic mood.

II.

Yet are there other gifts more fair than thine,
Nor can I count him happiest who has never
Been forced with his own hand his chains to

sever,
And for himself find out the way divine ;
He never knew the aspirer's glorious pains,
He never earned the struggle's priceless gains.
O, block by block, with sore and sharp endeavor,
Lifelong we build these human natures up
Into a temple fit for freedom's shrine,
And Trial ever consecrates the cup
Wherefrom we pour her sacrificial wine.

« ElőzőTovább »