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O yet, if Nature's evil star
Drive men in manhood, as in youth, To follow flying steps of Truth Across the brazen bridge of war—
If New and Old, disastrous feud,
Must ever shock, like armed foes,
And this be true, till Time shall close,
That Principles are rained in blood;
Not yet the wise of heart would cease
To hold his hope through shame and guilt.
But with his hand against the hilt,
Would pace the troubled land, like Peace;
Not less, though dogs of Faction bay, Would serve his kind in deed and word, Certain, if knowledge bring the sword,
That knowledge takes the sword away—
Would love the gleams of good that broke
From either side, nor veil his eyes:
And if some dreadful need should rise,
Would strike, and firmly, and one stroke:
To-morrow yet would reap to-day,
As we bear blossom of the dead;
Earn well the thrifty months, nor wed
Raw Haste, half-sister to Delay.
I KNEw an old wife lean and poor,
Her rags scarce held together;
There strode a stranger to the door,
And it was windy weather.
II. He held a goose upon his arm, He uttered rhyme and reason, “Here, take the goose, and keep you warm, It is a stormy season.”
She caught the white goose by the leg,
A goose—’twas no great matter.
The goose let fall a golden egg
With cackle and with clatter.
She dropt the goose, and caught the pelf,
And ran to tell her neighbors;
And blessed herself, and cursed herself,
And rested from her labors.
And feeding high, and living soft,
Grew plump and able-bodied;
Until the grave churchwarden doffed,
The parson smirked and nodded.
So sitting, served by man and maid,
She felt her heart grow prouder:
But ah! the more the white goose laid,
It clacked and cackled louder.
It cluttered here, it chuckled there;
It stirred the old wife's mettle :
She shifted in her elbow-chair,
And hurled the pan and kettle.
“A quinsy choke thy cursed mote l’”
Then waxed her anger stronger.
“Go, take the goose, and wring her throat, I will not bear it longer.”
Then yelped the cur, and yawled the cat;
Ran Gaffer, stumbled Gammer.
The goose flew this way and flew that,
And filled the house with clamor.
As head and heels upon the floor
They floundered all together,
There strode a stranger to the door,
And it was windy weather:
He took the goose upon his arm,
He uttered words of scorning;
“So keep you cold, or keep you warm,
It is a stormy morning.”
The wild wind rang from park and plain, And round the attics rumbled,
Till all the tables danced again,
And half the chimneys tumbled.
The glass blew in, the fire blew out,
The blast was hard and harder.
Her cap blew off, her gown blew up,
And a whirlwind cleared the larder;
And while on all sides breaking loose
Her household fled the danger,
Quoth she, “The Devil take the goose,
And God forget the stranger!”
AT Francis Allen's on the Christmas-eve,
The game of forfeits done—the girls all kissed
Beneath the sacred bush and past away—
The parson Holmes, the poet Everard Hall,
The host and I, sat round the wassail-bowl,
Then half-way ebbed : and there we held a talk,
How all the old honor had from Christmas gone,
Or gone, or dwindled down to some odd games
In some odd nooks like this; till I, tired out
With cutting eights that day upon the pond,
Where, three times slipping from the outer edge,
I bumped the ice into three several stars,
Fell in a doze; and half-awake I heard
The parson taking wide and wider sweeps,
Now harping on the church-commissioners,
Now hawking at Geology and schism;
Until I woke, and found him settled down
Upon the general decay of faith
Right through the world—“at home was little left,
And none abroad: there was no anchor, none,
To hold by.” Francis, laughing, clapt his hand
On Everard's shoulder, with “I hold by him.”
“And I,” quoth Everard, “by the wassail-bowl.”
“Why yes,” I said, “we knew your gift that way
At college : but another which you had,
I mean of verse, (for so we held it then,)
What came of that ?” “You know,” said Frank,
His epic of King Arthur, some twelve books”—
And then to me demanding why? “O, sir,
He thought that nothing new was said, or else
Something so said 'twas nothing—that a truth
Looks freshest in the fashion of the day:
God knows: he has a mint of reasons: ask.
It pleased me well enough.” “Nay, nay,” said Hall,
“Why take the style of those heroic times?
For nature brings not back the Mastodon,
Nor we those times; and why should any man
Remodel models 2 these twelve books of mine
Were faint Homeric echoes, nothing worth,
Mere chaff and draft, much better burnt.” “But I.”
Said Francis, “picked the eleventh from this hearth,
And have it: keep a thing, its use will come.
I hoard it as a sugar-plum for Holmes.”
He laughed, and I, though sleepy, like a horse
That hears the corn-bin open, pricked my ears;
For I remembered Everard’s college fame
When we were Freshmen: then at my request
He brought it; and the poet, little urged,
But with some prelude of disparagement,
Read, mouthing out his hollow oes and aes,
Deep-chested music, and to this result.
So all day.long the noise of battle rolled
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur's table, man by man,
Had fallen in Lyonness about their Lord,
King Arthur: then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,
Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights,
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land.
On one side lay the Ocean, and on one
Lay a great water, and the moon was full.
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
“The sequel of to-day unsolders all
The goodliest fellowship of famous knights
Whereof this world holds record. Such a sleep
They sleep—the men I loved. I think that we
Shall never more, at any future time,
Delight our souls with talk of knightly deeds,