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Mere highway dust? or year by year alone
Sit brooding in the ruins of a life,
Nightmare of youth, the spectre of himself?
If this were thus, if this, indeed, were all,
Better the narrow brain, the stony heart,
The staring eye glazed o'er with sapless days,
The long mechanic pacings to and fro,
The set gray life, and apathetic end.
But am I not the nobler through thy love?
O three times less unworthy! likewise thou
Art more through Love, and greater than thy years.
The Sun will run his orbit, and the Moon
Her circle. Wait, and Love himself will bring
The drooping flower of knowledge changed to fruit
Of wisdom. Wait: my faith is large in Time,
And that which shapes it to some perfect end.
Will some one say, then why not ill for good? Why took ye not your pastime? To that man My work shall answer, since I knew the right And did it; for a man is not as God, But then most Godlike being most a man.
-So let me think 'tis well for thee and meIll-fated that I am, what lot is mine Whose foresight preaches peace, my heart so slow To feel it! For how hard it seemed to me, When eyes, love-languid through half-tears, would dwell
One earnest, earnest moment upon mine,
Then not to dare to see! when thy low voice,
Faltering, would break its syllables, to keep
My own full-tuned,-hold passion in a leash,
And not leap forth and fall about thy neck,
And on thy bosom, (deep-desired relief!)
Rain out the heavy mist of tears, that weighed
Upon my brain, my senses and my soul !
For Love himself took part against himself
To warn us off, and Duty loved of Love—
O this world's curse-beloved but hated-came
Like Death betwixt thy dear embrace and mine,
And crying, "Who is this? behold thy bride,”
She pushed me from thee.
If the sense is hard To alien cars, I did not speak to these— No, not to thee, but to thyself in me: Hard is my doom and thine: thou knowest it all.
Could love part thus? was it not well to speak, To have spoken once? It could not but be well. The slow sweet hours that bring us all things good, The slow sad hours that bring us all things ill, And all good things from evil, brought the night In which we sat together and alone, And to the want, that hollowed all the heart, Gave utterance by the yearning of an eye, That burned upon its object through such tears As flow but once a life.
The trance gave way
To those caresses, when a hundred times
In that last kiss, which never was the last,
Farewell, like endless welcome, lived and died.
Then followed counsel, comfort, and the words
That make a man feel strong in speaking truth;
Till now the dark was worn, and overhead
The lights of sunset and of sunrise mixed
In that brief night; the summer night, that paused
Among her stars to hear us; stars that hung
Love-charmed to listen: all the wheels of Time
Spun round in station, but the end had come.
O then like those, who clench their nerves to rush
Upon their dissolution, we. two rose,
There-closing like an individual life-
In one blind cry of passion and of pain,
Like bitter accusation even to death,
Caught up the whole of love and uttered it,
And bade adieu forever.
Shall sharpest pathos blight us, knowing all
Life needs for life is possible to will-
Live happy; tend thy flowers; be tended by
My blessing! Should my Shadow cross thy thoughts
Too sadly for thy peace, remand it thou
For calmer hours to Memory's darkest hold,
If not to be forgotten-not at once-
Not all forgotten. Should it cross thy dreams,
O might it come like one that looks content,
With quiet eyes unfaithful to the truth,
And point thee forward to a distant light,
Or seem to lift a burthen from thy heart
And leave thee freer, till thou wake refreshed,
Then when the first low matin-chirp hath grown
Full quire, and morning driven her plow of pearl
Far furrowing into light the mounded rack,
Beyond the fair green field and eastern sea.
THE GOLDEN YEAR.
WELL, you shall have that song which Leonard
It was last summer on a tour in Wales: [wrote:
Old James was with me: we that day had been
Up Snowdon; and I wished for Leonard there,
And found him in Llanberis: then we crost
Between the lakes, and clambered half way up
The counter side; and that same song of his
He told me; for I bantered him, and swore
They said he lived shut up within himself,
A tongue-tied Poet in the feverous days,
That, setting the how much before the how,
Cry, like the daughters of the horse-leech, "Give,
Cram us with all," but count not me the herd!
To which, "They call me what they will," he said: "But I was born too late: the fair new forms, That float about the threshold of an age, Like truths of Science waiting to be caught— Catch me who can, and make the catcher crownedAre taken by the forelock. Let it be.
But if you care indeed to listen, hear These measured words, my work of yestermorn. "We sleep and wake and sleep, but all things
The Sun flies forward to his brother Sun;
The dark Earth follows wheeled in her ellipse:
And human things returning on themselves
Move onward, leading up the golden year.
"Ah, though the times when some new thought can bud
Are but as poets' seasons when they flower,
Yet seas that daily gain upon the shore
Have ebb and flow conditioning their march,
And slow and sure comes up the golden year.
"When wealth no more shall rest in mounded
But smit with freer light shall slowly melt
In many streams to fatten lower lands,
And light shall spread, and man be liker man
Through all the season of the golden year.
"Shall eagles not be eagles? wrens be wrens?
If all the world were falcons, what of that?
The wonder of the eagle were the less,
But he not less the eagle. Happy days
Roll onward, leading up the golden year.
"Fly, happy, happy sails, and bear the Press; Fly happy with the mission of the Cross; Knit land to land, and blowing havenward. With silks, and fruits, and spices, clear of toll, Enrich the markets of the golden year.
"But we grow old. Ah! when shall all men's good
Be each man's rule, and universal Peace Lie like a shaft of light across the land, And like a lane of beams athwart the sea, Through all the circle of the golden year?" Thus far he flowed, and ended; whereupon "Ah, folly!" in mimic cadence answered James"Ah, folly! for it lies so far away,
Not in our time, nor in our children's time,
'Tis like the second world to us that live,
'Twere all as one to fix our hopes on Heaven
As on this vision of the golden year."
With that he struck his staff against the rocks And broke it,-James,-you know him,-old, but full
Of force and choler, and firm upon his feet,
And like an oaken stock in winter woods,
O'erflourished with the hoary clematis :
Then added, all in heat :
"What stuff is this? Old writers pushed the happy season back,— The more fools they,-we forward: dreamers both: You most, that in an age, when every hour Must sweat her sixty minutes to the death, Live on, God love us, as if the seedsman, rapt Upon the teeming harvest, should not dip His hand into the bag: but well I know That unto him who works, and feels he works, This same grand year is ever at the doors."
He spoke; and, high above, I heard them blast The steep slate-quarry, and the great echo flap And buffet round the hills from bluff to bluff.
Ir little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades