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Then fled she to her inmost bower, and there
Unclasped the wedded eagles of her belt,
The grim Earl's gift; but ever at a breath
She lingered, looking like a summer moon
Half-dipt in cloud: anon she shook her head,
And showered the rippled ringlets to her knee;
Unclad herself in haste; adown the stair
Stole on; and, like a creeping sunbeam, slid
From pillar unto pillar, until she reached
The gateway; there she found her palfrey trapt
In purple blazoned with armorial gold.

Then she rode forth, clothed on with chastity:
The deep air listened round her as she rode,
And all the low wind hardly breathed for fear.
The little wide-mouthed heads upon the spout
Had cunning eyes to see: the barking cur
Made her cheek flame: her palfrey's footfall shot
Light horrors through her pulses: the blind walls
Were full of chinks and holes; and overhead
Fantastic gables, crowding, stared: but she
Not less through all bore up, till, last, she saw
The white-flowered elder thicket from the field
Gleam through the Gothic archways in the wall.

Then she rode back, clothed on with chastity. And one low churl, compact of thankless earth, The fatal byword of all years to come, Boring a little auger-hole in fear, Peeped-but his eyes, before they had their will, Were shrivelled into darkness in his head,

And dropt before him. So the Powers, who wait
On noble deeds, cancelled a sense misused;
And she, that knew not, passed: and all at once,
With twelve great shocks of sound, the shameless


Was clashed and hammered from a hundred towers,
One after one: but even then she gained
Her bower; whence reissuing, robed and crowned,
To meet her lord, she took the tax away,
And built herself an everlasting name.


A STILL Small voice spake unto me,
"Thou art so full of misery,
Were it not better not to be?"

Then to the still small voice I said: "Let me not cast in endless shade What is so wonderfully made.”

To which the voice did urge reply:
"To-day I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.

"An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.

“He dried his wings: like gauze they grew: Through crofts and pastures wet with dew A living flash of light he flew."

I said, "When first the world began,
Young Nature through five cycles ran,
And in the sixth she moulded man.

"She gave him mind, the lordliest Proportion, and, above the rest, Dominion in the head and breast."

Thereto the silent voice replied: "Self-blinded are you by your pride: Look up through night: the world is wide.

"This truth within thy mind rehearse,
That in a boundless universe
Is boundless better, boundless worse.

"Think you this mould of hopes and fears
Could find no statelier than his peers
In yonder hundred million spheres ? "

It spake, moreover, in my mind:


Though thou wert scattered to the wind, Yet is there plenty of the kind."

Then did my response clearer fall: "No compound of this earthly ball Is like another, all in all."

To which he answered scoffingly:
"Good soul! suppose I grant it thee,
Who'll weep for thy deficiency?

"Or will one beam be less intense,
When thy peculiar difference
Is cancelled in the world of sense?"

I would have said, "Thou canst not know," But my full heart, that worked below, Rained through my sight its overflow.

Again the voice spake unto me: “Thou art so steeped in misery, Surely 'twere better not to be.

"Thine anguish will not let thee sleep, Nor any train of reason keep: Thou canst not think, but thou wilt weep."

I said, "The years with change advance:
If I make dark my countenance,
I shut my life from happier chance.

"Some turn this sickness yet might take, Even yet." But he: "What drug can make A withered palsy cease to shake ?”

I wept, "Though I should die, I know
That all about the thorn will blow
In tufts of rosy-tinted snow;

"And men, through novel spheres of thought Still moving after truth long sought, Will learn new things when I am not.”

"Yet,” said the secret voice, "some time,
Sooner or later, will gray prime
Make thy grass hoar with early rime.

"Not less swift souls that yearn for light,
Rapt after heaven's starry flight,
Would sweep the tracts of day and night.

"Not less the bee would range her cells,
The furzy prickle fire the dells,
The foxglove cluster dappled bells.”

I said that" all the years invent;
Each month is various to present
The world with some development.

"Were this not well, to bide mine hour, Though watching from a ruined tower How grows the day of human power?”

"The highest-mounted mind," he said, "Still sees the sacred morning spread The silent summit overhead.

"Will thirty seasons render plain Those lonely lights that still remain, Just breaking over land and main ?

"Or make that morn, from his cold crown And crystal silence creeping down, Flood with full daylight glebe and town ?

"Forerun thy peers, thy time, and let Thy feet, millenniums hence, be set In midst of knowledge dreamed not yet.

“Thou hast not gained a real height, Nor art thou nearer to the light, Because the scale is infinite.

""Twere better not to breathe or speak, Than cry for strength, remaining weak, And seem to find, but still to seek.

"Moreover, but to seem to find Asks what thou lackest, thought resigned, A healthy frame, a quiet mind."

I said, "When I am gone away,
'He dared not tarry, men will say,
Doing dishonor to my clay."

"This is more vile," he made reply, "To breathe and loathe, to live and sigh, Than once from dread of pain to die.

"Sick art thou-a divided will Still heaping on the fear of ill The fear of men, a coward still.

"Do men love thee? Art thou so bound To men, that how thy name may sound Will vex thee lying underground?

"The memory of the withered leaf In endless time is scarce more brief Than of the garnered Autumn-sheaf.

"Go, vexed Spirit, sleep in trust; The right ear, that is filled with dust, Hears little of the false or just."

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