[blocks in formation]

“Trooping from their mouldy dens

The chap-fallen circle spreads : Welcome, fellow-citizens,

Hollow hearts and empty heads !

• You are bones, and what of that?

Every face, however full, Padded round with flesh and fat,

Is but modell’d on a skull.

Death is king, and Vivat Rex !

Tread a measure on the stones, Madam--if I know your sex,

From the fashion of your bones.

“No, I cannot praise the fire

In your eye-nor yet your lip : All the more do I admire

Joints of cunning workmanship. *Lo ! God's likeness—the ground-plan

Neither modell’d, glazed, nor framed : Buss me, thou rough sketch of man,

Far too naked to be shamed !

The voice grew faint : there came a further

change : Once more uprose the mystic mountain

range : Below were men and horses pierced with

worms, And slowly quickening into lower forms; By shards and scurf of salt, and scum of

dross, Old plash of rains, and refuse patch'd

with moss. Then some one spake : Behold ! it was

a crime Of sense avenged by sense that wore with

time.' Another said: “The crime of sense

became The crime of malice, and is equal blame.' And one : He had not wholly quench’d

his power ; A little grain of conscience made him sour.' At last I heard a voice upon the slopes Cry to the summit, “Is there any hope?' To which an answer peal’d from that high

land, But in a tongue no man could understand ; And on the glimmering limit far with

drawn God made Himself an awful rose of dawn.

* Drink to Fortune, drink to Chance,

While we keep a little breath! Drink to heavy Ignorance !

Hob-and-nob with brother Death !

• Thou art mazed, the night is long,

And the longer night is near :

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]



ILLYRIAN woodlands, echoing falls Of water, sheets of summer glass,

The long divine Peneïan pass, The vast Akrokeraunian walls,

Tomohrit, Athos, all things fair,

With such a pencil, such a pen,

You shadow forth to distant men, I read and felt that I was there :

You might have won the Poet's name,

If such be worth the winning now, And gain'd a laurel for your brow Of sounder leaf than I can claim ; But you have made the wiser choice,

A life that moves to gracious ends

Thro' troops of unrecording friends, A deedful life, a silent voice : And you have miss'd the irreverent doom

Of those that wear the Poet's crown: Hereafter, neither knave nor clown Shall hold their orgies at your tomb. For now the Poet cannot die,

Nor leave his music as of old,

But round him ere he scarce be cold Begins the scandal and the cry : Proclaim the faults he would not show : Break lock and seal : betray the trust : Keep nothing sacred : 'tis but just The many-headed beast should know.' Ah shameless : for he did but sing

A song that pleased us from its worth ; No public life was his on earth, No blazon'd statesman he, nor king.

And trust me while I turn'd the page,

And track'd you still on classic ground,

I grew in gladness till I found My spirits in the golden age.

For me the torrent ever pour'd

And glisten’d-here and there alone
The broad-limb'd Gods at random

By fountain-urns ;--and Naiads oar'd

A glimmering shoulder under gloom

Of cavern pillars ; on the swell

The silver lily heaved and fell; And many a slope was rich in bloom

He gave the people of his best :

His worst he kept, his best he gave. My Shakespeare's curse on clown and

knave Who will not let his ashes rest!

From him that on the mountain lea

By dancing rivulets fed his flocks,

To him who sat upon the rocks, And fluted to the morning sea.

Who make it seem more sweet to be

The little life of bank and brier,

The bird that pipes his lone desire And dies unheard within his tree,

BREAK, break, break,

On thy cold gray stones, O Sea ! And I would that my tongue could utter

The thoughts that arise in me.

[blocks in formation]


LONG lines of cliff breaking have left a

chasm; And in the chasm are foam and yellow

sands; Beyond, red roofs about a narrow wharf In cluster; then a moulder'd church ; and

higher A long street climbs to one tall-towerd

mill; And high in heaven behind it a gray down With Danish barrows; and a hazelwood By autumn nutters haunted, flourishes Green in a cuplike hollow of the down.

Here on this beach a hundred years ago, Three children of three houses, Annie Lee, The prettiest little damsel in the port, And Philip Ray the miller's only son, And Enoch Arden, a rough sailor's lad Made orphan by a winter shipwreck, play'd Among the waste and lumber of the shore, Hard coils of cordage, swarthy fishing

nets, Anchors of rusty fluke, and boats up

drawn ; And built their castles of dissolving sand To watch them overflow'd, or following up And flying the white breaker, daily left The little footprint daily wash'd away.

A narrow cave ran in beneath the cliff : In this the children play'd at keeping

house. Enoch was host one day, Philip the next, While Annie still was mistress ; but at

times Enoch would hold possession for a week : * This is my house and this my little wife.' * Mine too' said Philip turn and turn

about :' When, if they quarrell’d, Enoch stronger

made Was master : then would Philip, his blue

eyes All flooded with the helpless wrath of

tears, Shriek out I hate you, Enoch,' and at

this The little wife would weep for company, And pray them not to quarrel for her sake, And say she would be little wife to both.

Than Enoch. Likewise had he served a

year On board a merchantman, and made

himself Full sailor ; and he thrice had pluck'd a

life From the dread sweep of the down-stream

ing seas : And all men look'd upon him favourably : And ere he touch'd his one-and-twentieth

May He purchased his own boat, and made a

home For Annie, neat and nestlike, halfway up The narrow street that clamber'd toward

the mill.

But when the dawn of rosy childhood

past, And the new warmth of life's ascending

sun Was felt by either, either fixt his heart On that one girl; and Enoch spoke his

love, But Philip loved in silence ; and the girl Seem'd kinder unto Philip than to him; But she loved Enoch ; tho she knew it

Then, on a golden autumn eventide, The younger people making holiday, With bag and sack and basket, great and

small, Went nutting to the hazels. Philip stay'd (His father lying sick and needing him) An hour behind; but as he climb’d the hill, Just where the prone edge of the wood

began To feather toward the hollow, saw the

pair, Enoch and Annie, sitting hand-in-hand, His large gray eyes and weather-beaten

face All-kindled by a still and sacred fire, That burn'dàs on an altar. Philip look'd, And in their eyes and faces read his doom ; Then, as their faces drew together,

groan'd, And slipt aside, and like a wounded life Crept down into the hollows of the wood; There, while the rest were loud in merry

making, Had his dark hour unseen, and rose and

past Bearing a lifelong hunger in his heart.


And would if ask'd deny it. Enoch set
A purpose evermore before his eyes,
To hoard all savings to the uttermost,
To purchase his own boat, and make a

home For Annie : and so prosper'd that at last A luckier or a bolder fisherman, A carefuller in peril, did not breathe For leagues along that breaker-beaten


So these were wed, and merrily rang

the bells, And merrily ran the years, seven happy

years, Seven happy years of health and com

petence, And mutual love and honourable toil ; With children; first a daughter. In him

woke, With his first babe's first cry, the noble

wish To save all earnings to the uttermost, And give his child a better bringing-up Than his had been, or hers; a wish re

new'd, When two years after came a boy to be The rosy idol of her solitudes, While Enoch was abroad on wrathful seas, Or often journeying landward ; for in truth Enoch's white horse, and Enoch's ocean

spoil In ocean-smelling osier, and his face, Rough-redden'd with a thousand winter

gales, Not only to the market-cross were known, But in the leafy lanes behind the down, Far as the portal-warding lion-whelp, And peacock.yewtree of the lonely Hall, Whose Friday fare was Enoch's minister.


Taking her bread and theirs : and on him

fell, Altho'a grave and staid God-fearing man, Yet lying thus inactive, doubt and gloom. He seemd, as in a nightmare of the night, To see his children leading evermore Low miserable lives of hand-to-mouth, And her, he loved, a beggar : then he

pray'd ‘Save them from this, whatever comes to

me.' And while he pray'd, the master of that

ship Enoch had served in, hearing his mis

chance, Came, for he knew the man and valued

him, Reporting of his vessel China-bound, And wanting yet a boatswain. Would he

go? There yet were many weeks before she

sail'd, Sail'd from this port. Would Enoch

have the place ? And Enoch all at once assented to it,' Rejoicing at that answer to his prayer.

Then came a change, as all things

human change. Ten miles to northward of the narrow port Open'd a larger haven : thither used Enoch at times to go by land or sea ; And once when there, and clambering on

a mast In harbour, by mischance he slipt and fell : A limb was broken when they lifted him ; And while he lay recovering there, his wife Bore him another son, a sickly one : Another hand crept too across his trade

So now that shadow of mischance

appear'd No graver than as when some little cloud Cuts off the fiery highway of the sun, And isles a light in the offing : yet the

wife-When he was gone--the children-what

to do? Then Enoch lay long-pondering on his

plans; To sell the boat-and yet he loved her

wellHow many a rough sea had he weather'd

in her! He knew her, as a horseman knows his


« ElőzőTovább »