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Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet;
Myriads of rivulets hurrying through the lawn,
The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
And murmuring of innumerable bees."
So she low-toned; while with shut eyes I lay
Listening; then looked. Pale was the perfect face;
The bosom with long sighs labored; and meek
Seemed the full lips, and mild the luminous eyes,
And the voice trembled and the hand. She said
Brokenly, that she knew it, she had failed
In sweet humility; had failed in all;
That all her labor was but as a block
Left in the quarry; but she still were loth,
She still were loth to yield herself to one,
That wholly scorned to help their equal rights
Against the sons of men, and barbarous laws.
She prayed me not to judge their cause from her
That wronged it, sought far less for truth than
In knowledge: something wild within her breast,
A greater than all knowledge, beat her down.
And she had nursed me there from week to week:
Much had she learnt in little time. In part
It was ill counsel had misled the girl
To vex true hearts: yet was she but a girl-
“Ah fool, and made myself a Queen of farce!
When comes another such? never, I think,
Till the Sun drop dead from the signs."
Choked, and her forehead sank upon her hands,
And her great heart through all the faultful Past
Went sorrowing in a pause I dared not break;
Till notice of a change in the dark world
Was lispt about the acacias, and a bird
That early woke to feed her little ones
Sent from a dewy breast a cry for light:
She moved, and at her feet the volume fell.
"Blame not thyself too much," I said, "nor blame
Too much the sons of men and barbarous laws;
These were the rough ways of the world till now.
Henceforth thou hast a helper, me, that know
The woman's cause is man's: they rise or sink
Together, dwarfed or godlike, bond or free:
For she that out of Lethe scales with man
The shining steps of Nature, shares with man
His nights, his days, moves with him to one goal,
Stays all the fair young planet in her hands—
If she be small, slight-natured, miserable,
How shall men grow? but work no more alone!
Our place is much: as far as in us lies
We two will serve them both in aiding her—
Will clear away the parasitic forms
That seem to keep her up, but drag her down-
Will leave her space to burgeon out of all
Within her let her make herself her own
To give or keep, to live and learn and be
All that not harms distinctive womanhood.
For woman is not undeveloped man,
But diverse: could we make her as the man,
Sweet love were slain: his dearest bond is this,
Not like to like, but like in difference:
Yet in the long years liker must they grow;
The man be more of woman, she of man;
He gain in sweetness and in moral height,
Nor lose the wrestling thews that throw the world;
She mental breadth, nor fail in childward care,
Nor lose the childlike in the larger mind;
Till at the last she set herself to man,
Like perfect music unto noble words;
And so these twain, upon the skirts of Time,
Sit side by side, full-summed in all their powers,
Dispensing harvest, sowing the To-be,
Self-reverent each and reverencing each,
Distinct in individualities,
But like each other even as those who love.
Then comes the statelier Eden back to men:
Then reign the world's great bridals, chaste and calm Then springs the crowning race of humankind. May these things be!"
Sighing she spoke, “ I fear
"Dear, but let us type them now
In our own lives, and this proud watchword rest
Of equal; seeing either sex alone
Is half itself, and in true marriage lies
Nor equal, nor unequal: each fulfils
Defect in each, and always thought in thought,
Purpose in purpose, will in will, they grow,
The single pure and perfect animal,
The two-celled heart, beating with one full stroke,
And again sighing she spoke: "A dream That once was mine! what woman taught you this?”
"Alone," I said, " from earlier than I know, Immersed in rich foreshadowings of the world, I loved the woman: he, that doth not, lives A drowning life, besotted in sweet self, Or pines in sad experience worse than death, Or keeps his winged affections clipt with crime: Yet was there one through whom I loved her, one Not learned, save in gracious household ways, Not perfect, nay, but full of tender wants, No Angel, but a dearer being, all dipt In Angel instincts, breathing Paradise, Interpreter between the Gods and men, Who looked all native to her place, and yet On tiptoe seemed to touch upon a sphere Too gross to tread, and all male minds perforce Swayed to her from their orbits as they moved And girdled her with music. Happy he With such a mother! faith in womankind Beats with his blood, and trust in all things high Comes easy to him, and though he trip and fall, He shall not blind his soul with clay."
Said Ida, tremulously, “so all unlike—
It seems you love to cheat yourself with words:
This mother is your model. I have heard
Of your strange doubts: they well might be: I seem
A mockery to my own self. Never, Prince;
You cannot love me.”
"Nay, but thee," I said, "From year-long poring on thy pictured eyes, Ere seen I loved, and loved thee seen, and saw Thee woman through the crust of iron moods That masked thee from men's reverence up, and
Sweet love on pranks of saucy boyhood: now
Given back to life; to life indeed, through thee,
Indeed I love: the new day comes, the light
Dearer for night, as dearer thou for faults
Lived over: lift thine eyes; my doubts are dead,
My haunting sense of hollow shows: the change,
This truthful change in thee has killed it. Dear,
Look up and let thy nature strike on mine
Like yonder morning on the blind half-world;
Approach and fear not; breathe upon my brows;
In that fine air I tremble, all the past
Melts mist-like into this bright hour, and this
Is morn to more, and all the rich to come
Reels, as the golden Autumn woodland reels
Athwart the smoke of burning weeds. Forgive me,
I waste my heart in signs: let be. My bride,
My wife, my life. O we will walk this world,
Yoked in all exercise of noble end,
And so through those dark gates across the wild
That no man knows. Indeed I love thee; come,
Yield thyself up: my hopes and thine are one:
Accomplish thou my manhood and thyself,
Lay thy sweet hands in mine and trust to me."
So closed our tale, of which I give you all The random scheme as wildly as it rose: The words are mostly mine: for when we ceased There came a minute's pause, and Walter said, "I wish she had not yielded!" then to me, “What, if you drest it up poetically?”
So prayed the men, the women: I gave assent:
Yet how to bind the scattered scheme of seven
Together in one sheaf? What style could suit?
The men required that I should give throughout
The sort of mock-heroic gigantesque,
With which we bantered little Lilia first:
The women-and perhaps they felt their power,
For something in the ballads which they sang,
Or in their silent influence as they sat,
Had ever seemed to wrestle with burlesque,
And drove us, last, to quite a solemn close—
They hated banter, wished for something real,
A gallant fight, a noble princess-why
Not make her true-heroic-true-sublime?
Or all, they said, as earnest as the close?
Which yet with such a framework scarce could be.
Then rose a little feud betwixt the two,
Betwixt the mockers and the realists:
And I, betwixt them both, to please them both,
And yet to give the story as it rose,
I moved as in a strange diagonal,
And maybe neither pleased myself nor them.
But Lilia pleased me, for she took no part In our dispute: the sequel of the tale
Had touched her; and she sat, she plucked the
She flung it from her, thinking: last, she fixt A showery glance upon her aunt, and said, "You-tell us what we are ; " who might have told,