« PreviousContinue »
Her looser hair in braid, and stirred her lips
For some sweet answer, though no answer came;
Nor yet refused the rose, but granted it,
And moved away, and left me, statue-like,
In act to render thanks.
I, that whole day,
Saw her no more, although I lingered there
Till every daisy slept, and Love's white star
Beamed through the thickened cedar in the dusk.
So home we went, and all the livelong way With solemn gibe diu Eustace banter me.
Now," said he,“ will you climb the top of Art.
You cannot fail but work in hues to dim
The Titianic Flora. Will match
My Juliet ? you, not you,—the Master, Love,
A more ideal Artist he than all.”
So home I went, but could not sleep for joy,
Reading her perfect features in the gloom,
Kissing the rose she gave me o'er and o’er,
And shaping faithful record of the glance
That graced the giving—such a noise of life
Swarmed in the golden present, such a voice
Called to me from the years to come, and such
A length of bright horizon rimmed the dark.
And all that night I heard the watchmen peal
The sliding season: all that night I heard
The heavy clocks knolling the drowsy hours.
The drowsy hours, dispensers of all good,
O’er the mute city stole with folded wings,
Distilling odors on me as they went
To greet their fairer sisters of the East.
Love at first sight, first-born and heir to all, Made this night thus. Henceforward squall nor
storm Could keep me from that Eden where she dwelt. Light pretexts drew me: sometimes a Dutch love For tulips; then for roses, moss or musk, To grace my city-rooms; or fruits and cream Served in the weeping elm; and more and more
A word could bring the color to my cheek;
A thought would fill my eyes with happy dew;
Love trebled life within me, and with each
The year increased.
The daughters of the year,
One after one, through that still garden passed :
Each garlanded with her peculiar flower
Danced into light, and died into the shade;
And each in passing touched with some new
grace Or seemed to touch her, so that day by day, Like one that never can be wholly known, Her beauty grew; till Autumn brought an hour For Eustace, when I heard his deep “ I will,” Breathed, like the covenant of a God, to hold From thence through all the worlds : but I rose up Full of his bliss, and following her dark eyes, Felt earth as air beneath me, till I reached The wicket-gate, and found her standing there.
There sat we down upon a garden mound, Two mutually enfolded; Love, the third, Between us, in the circle of his arms Enwound us both; and over many a range Of waning lime the gray cathedral towers, Across a hazy glimmer
Revealed their shining windows: from them clashed
The bells; we listened, with the time we played ;
We spoke of other things; we coursed about
The subject most at heart, more near and near,
Like doves about a dovecote, wheeling round
The central wish, until we settled there.
Then, in that time and place, I spoke to her,
Requiring, though I knew it was mine own,
Yet for the pleasure that I took to hear,
Requiring at her hand the greatest gift,
A woman's heart, the heart of her I loved ;
And in that time and place she answered me,
And in the compass of three little words,
More musical than ever came in one,
The silver fragments of a broken voice,
Made me most happy, faltering “ I am thine!”
Shall I cease here? Is this enough to say
That my desire, like all strongest hopes,
By its own energy fulfilled itself,
Merged in completion ? Would you learn at full
How passion rose through circumstantial grades
Beyond all grades developed ? and indeed
I had not stayed so long to tell you all,
But while I mused came Memory with sad eyes,
Holding the folded annals of my youth ;
And while I mused, Love with knit brows went by,
And with a flying finger swept my lips,
And spake, " Be wise : not easily forgiven
Are those, who setting wide the doors, that bar
The secret bridal chambers of the heart,
Let in the day.” Here, then, my words have end.
Yet might I tell of meetings, of farewellsOf that which came between, more sweet than each, In whispers, like the whispers of the leaves That tremble round a nightingale—in sighs Which perfect Joy, perplexed for utterance, Stole from her sister Sorrow. Might I not tell Of difference, reconcilement, pledges given, And vows, where there was never need of vows, And kisses, where the heart on one wild leap Hung tranced from all pulsation, as above The heavens between their fairy fleeces pale Sowed all their mystic gulfs with fleeting stars; Or while the balmy glooming, crescent-lit, Spread the light haze along the river-shores, And in the hollows; or as once we met Unheedful, though beneath a whispering rain Night slid down one long stream of sighing wind, And in her bosom bore the baby, Sleep.
But this whole hour your eyes have been intent On that veiled picture-veiled, for what it holds May not be dwelt on by the common day, This prelude has prepared thee. Raise thy soul,
Make thine heart ready with thine eyes : the time
Is come to raise the veil.
Behold her there,
As I beheld her ere she knew my heart,
My first, last love; the idol of my youth,
The darling of my manhood, and, alas !
Now the most blessed memory of mine age.
With farmer Allan at the farm abode
William and Dora. William was his son,
And she his niece. He often looked at them,
And often thought “ I'll make them man and wife."
Now Dora felt her uncle's will in all,
And yearned towards William ; but the youth, be-
He had been always with her in the house,
Thought not of Dora.
Then there came a day
When Allan called his son, and said : " My son,
I married late, but I would wish to see
My grandchild on my knees before I die:
And I have set my heart upon a match.
Now therefore look to Dora; she is well
To look to; thrifty too beyond her age.
She is my brother's daughter: he and I
Had once hard words, and parted, and he died
In foreign lands; but for his sake I bred
His daughter Dora: take her for your wife ;
For I have wished this marriage, night and day,
For many years.” But William answered short;
“ I cannot marry Dora ; by my life,
I will not marry Dora.” Then the old man
Was wroth, and doubled up his hands, and said:
“ You will not, boy! you dare to answer thus !
But in my time a father's word was law,
And so it shall be now for me. Look to't ;
Consider, William : take a month to think,
And let me have an answer to my wish ;
Or, by the Lord that made me, you shall pack.
And nevermore darken my doors again!”
But William answered madly; bit his lips,
And broke away. The more he looked at her
The less he liked her; and his ways were harsb ;
But Dora bore them meekly. Then before
The month was out he left his father's house,
And hired himself to work within the fields;
And half in love, half spite, he wooed and wed
A laborer's daughter, Mary Morrison.
Then, when the bells were ringing, Allan called
His niece and said: “ My girl, I love you well;
But if you speak with him that was my son,
Or change a word with her he calls his wife,
My home is none of yours. My will is law.”
And Dora promised, being meek. She thought,
" It cannot be : my uncle's mind will change !”
And days went on, and there was born a boy To William ; then distresses came on him ; And day by day he passed his father's gate, Heart-broken, and his father helped him not. But Dora stored what little she could save, And sent it them by stealth, nor did they know Who sent it; till at last a fever seized On William, and in harvest-time he died.
Then Dora went to Mary. Mary sat And looked with tears upon her boy, and thought Hard things of Dora. Dora came and said: “ I have obeyed my uncle until now, And I have sinned, for it was all through me This evil came on William at the first. But, Mary, for the sake of him that's gone, And for your sake, the woman that he chose, And for this orphan, I am come to you: You know there has not been for these five years So full a harvest : let me take the boy,