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My will is bondsman to the dark;
I sit within a helmless bark,
That thou shouldst fail from thy desire,
Who scarcely darest to inquire “What is it makes me beat so low ?” Something it is which thou hast lost,
Some pleasure from thine early years.
Break, thou deep vase of chilling tears, That grief hath shaken into frost! Such clouds of nameless trouble cross
All night below the darkened eyes;
With morning wakes the will, and cries, “ Thou shalt not be the fool of loss ! ”
I SOMETIMES hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel,
For words, like nature, half reveal
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold ;
But that large grief which these infold Is given in outline and no more.
That “ Loss is common to the race," —
And common is the commonplace, And vacant chaff well meant for grain. That loss is common would not make
My own less bitter, rather more :
Too common! Never morning wore
Who pledgest now thy gallant son ;
A shot, ere half thy draught be done,
Thy sailor, while thy head is bowed,
His heavy-shotted hammock-shroud Drops in his vast and wandering grave. Ye know no more than I who wrought
At that last hour to please him well;
Who mused on all I had to tell, And something written, something thought ; Expecting still his advent home;
And ever met him on his way
With wishes, thinking, here to-day, Or here to-morrow will he come. 0, somewhere, meek unconscious dove,
That sittest 'ranging golden hair;
And glad to find thyself so fair, Poor child, that waitest for thy love ? For now her father's chimney glows
In expectation of a guest;
And thinking “ this will please him best,” She takes a ribbon or a rose;
For he will see them on to-night;
And with the thought her color burns ;
And, having left the glass, she turns Once more to set a ringlet right;
And, even when she turned, the curse
Had fallen, and her future Lord
Was drowned in passing through the ford, Or killed in falling from his horse.
0, what to her shall be the end ?
And what to me remains of good ?
To her, perpetual maidenhood, And unto me, no second friend.
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat So quickly, waiting for a hand,
A hand that can be clasped no more,
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep At earliest morning to the door.
He is not here ; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly through the drizzling rain On the bald street breaks the blank day.
A HAPPY lover who has come
To look on her that loves him well,
Who lights, and rings the gateway bell, And learns her gone, and far from home,
He saddens, all the magic light
Dies off at once from bower and hall,
And all the place is dark, and all The chambers emptied of delight.
So find I every pleasant spot
In which we two were wont to meet,
The field, the chamber, and the street, For all is dark, where thou art not.
Yet as that other, wandering there
A flower beat with rain and wind,
O my forsaken heart, with thee,
And this poor flower of poesy, Which, little cared for, fades not yet. But since it pleased a vanished eye,
I go to plant it on his tomb,
That if it can it there may bloom, Or dying there at least may die.
Sailest the placid ocean plains,
With my lost Arthur's loved remains, Spread thy full wings, and waft him o'er!
So draw him home to those that mourn,
In vain; a favorable speed
Ruffle thy mirrored mast, and lead Through prosperous floods his holy urn!
All night no ruder air perplex
Thy sliding keel, till Phosphor, bright
As our pure love, through early light Shall glimmer on the dewy decks !
Sphere all your lights around, above;
Sleep, gentle heavens, before the prow;
Sleep, gentle winds, as he sleeps now, My friend, the brother of my love!
My Arthur! whom I shall not see
Till all my widowed race be run;
Dear as the mother to the son, More than my brothers are to me!
I HEAR the noise about thy keel;
I hear the bell struck in the night;
I see the cabin-window bright; I see the sailor at the wheel.
Thou bringest the sailor to his wife;
And travelled men from foreign lands;
And letters unto trembling hands ; And, thy dark freight, a vanished life.
So bring him : we have idle dreams :
This look of quiet flatters thus
Our home-bred fancies : oh, to us, The fools of habit, sweeter seems
To rest beneath the clover sod,
That takes the sunshine and the rains,
Or where the kneeling hamlet drains The chalice of the grapes of God, Than if with thee the roaring wells
Should gulf him fathom deep in brine;
And hands so often clasped in mine Should toss with tangle and with shells.