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Watching an eddy in the leaden deep, From which they deem the body of one drowned
Will be cast forth, from face to face doth creep An eager dread that holds all tongues fast bound
Until the horror, with a ghastly leap, Starts up, its dead blue arms stretched aimlessly, Heaved with the swinging of the careless sea,
So in the faces of all these there grew,
As by one impulse, a dark, freezing awe, Which, with a fearful fascination drew
All eyes toward the altar; damp and raw The air grew suddenly, and no man knew
Whether perchance his silent neighbor saw The dreadful' thing which all were
sure would rise To scare the strained lids wider from their eyes.
The incense trembled as it upward sent
Its slow, uncertain thread of wandering blue, As 'twere the only living element
In all the church, so deep the stillness grew; It seemed one might have heard it, as it went,
Give out an audible rustle, curling through The midnight silence of that awe-struck air, More hushed than death, though so much life was
Nothing they saw, but a low voice was heard
Threading the ominous silence of that fear, Gentle and terrorless as if a bird,
Wakened by some volcano's glare, should cheer The murk air with his song; yet every word
In the cathedral's farthest arch seemed near,
As if it spoke to every one apart,
“O Rest, to weary hearts thou art most dear!
O Silence, after life’s bewildering din, Thou art most welcome, whether in the sear
Days of our age thou comest, or we win Thy poppy-wreath in youth! then wherefore here
Linger I yet, once free to enter in At that wished gate which gentle Death doth ope, Into the boundless realm of strength and hope ?
" Think not in death my love could ever cease
If thou wast false, more need there is for me Still to be true; that slumber were not peace,
If 'twere unvisited with dreams of thee : And thou hadst never heard such words as these,
Save that in heaven I must ever be Most comfortless and wretched, seeing this Our unbaptized babe shut out from bliss.
“ This little spirit with imploring eyes
Wanders alone the dreary wild of space ; The shadow of his pain forever lies
Upon my soul in this new dwelling-place; His Ioneliness makes me in Paradise
More lonely, and, unless I see his face, Even here for grief could I lie down and die, Save for my curse of immortality.
XLI. “ World after world he sees around him swim
Crowded with happy souls, that take no heed Of the sad eyes that from the night's faint rim
Gaze sick with longing on them as they speed With golden gates, that only shut out him ;
And shapes sometimes from Hell's abysses freed Flap darkly by him, with enormous sweep Of wings that roughen wide the pitchy deep.
I am a mother,—spirits do not shake
This much of earth from them,—and I must pine Till I can feel his little hands, and take
head upon this heart of mine; And, might it be, full gladly for his sake
Would I this solitude of bliss resign,
“I strove to hush my soul, and would not speak
At first, for thy dear sake; a woman's love
And by its weakness overcomes; I strove
But still in the abyss my soul would rove,
"1 sit and weep while blessed spirits sing ;
I can but long and pine the while they praise, And, leaning o'er the wall of Heaven, I fling
My voice to where I deem my infant strays, Like a robbed bird that cries in vain to bring
Her nestlings back beneath her wings' embrace; But still he answers not, and I but know That Heaven and earth are both alike in woe."
Then the pale priests, with ceremony due,
Baptized the child within its dreadful tomb Beneath that mother's heart, whose instinct true
Star-like had battled down the triple gloom Of sorrow, love, and death: young maidens, too, Strewed the pale corpse with many a milk white
bloom, And parted the bright hair, and on the breast Crossed the unconscious hands in sign of rest.
Some said, that, when the priest had sprinkled o'er
The consecrated drops, they seemed to hear A sigh, as of some heart from travail sore
Released, and then two voices singing clear, Misereatur Deus, more and more
Fading far upward, and their ghastly fear Fell from them with that sound, as bodies fall From souls upspringing to celestial hall.
ONE after one the stars have risen and set, Sparkling upon the hoarfrost on my chain : The Bear, that prowled all night about the fold Of the North-star, hath shrunk into his den, Scared by the blithesome footsteps of the Dawn, Whose blushing smile floods all the Orient; And now bright Lucifer grows less and less, Into the heaven's blue quiet deep-withdrawn. Sunless and starless all, the desert sky Arches above me, empty as this heart For ages hath been empty of all joy, Except to brood upon its silent hope, As o'er its hope of day the sky doth now. All night have I heard voices : deeper yet The deep low breathing of the silence grew, While all about, muffled in awe, there stood Shadows, or forms, or both, clear-felt at heart, But, when I turned to front them, far along Only a shudder through the midnight ran, And the dense stillness walled me closer round. But still I heard them wander up and down That solitude, and flappings of dusk wings Did mingle with them, whether of those hags Let slip upon me once from Hades deep, Or of yet direr torments, if such be, I could but guess ; and then toward me came A shape as of a woman: very pale It was, and calm ; its cold yes did not move, And mine moved not, but only stared on them. Their fixed awe went through my brain like ice; A skeleton hand seemed clutching at my heart, And a sharp chill, as if a dank night fog