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818                                        The Darkling Thrush

I LEANT upon a coppice gate
    When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
    The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
    Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
    Had sought their household fires.
The land’s sharp features seem’d to be
   The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
   The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
   Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
   Seem’d fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
   The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
   Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
   In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
   Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carollings
   Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
   Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
   His happy good-night air
Some blessàed Hope, whereof he knew
   And I was unaware.

819                                             She, to Him

PERHAPS, long hence, when I have pass’d away,
Some other’s feature, accent, thought like mine,
Will carry you back to what I used to say,
And bring some memory of your love’s decline.
Then you may pause awhile and think, ‘Poor jade!’
And yield a sigh to me—as ample due,
Not as the tittle of a debt unpaid
To one who could resign her all to you—
And thus reflecting, you will never see
That your thin thought, in two small words convey’d,
Was no such fleeting phantom-thought to me,
But the Whole Life wherein my part was play’d;
And you amid its fitful masquerade
A Thought—as I in yours but seem to be.

820                                         ‘I need not go’

I NEED not go
Through sleet and snow
To where I know
She waits for me;
She will tarry me there
Till I find it fair,
And have time to spare
From company.
When I’ve overgot
The world somewhat,
When things cost not
Such stress and strain,
Is soon enough
By cypress sough
To tell my Love
I am come again.

And if some day,
When none cries nay,
I still delay
To seek her side,
(Though ample measure
Of fitting leisure
Await my pleasure)
She will not chide.

What—not upbraid me
That I delay’d me,
Nor ask what stay’d me
So long? Ah, no!—
New cares may claim me.
New loves inflame me,
She will not blame me,
But suffer it so.

821                                         Friends Beyond

WILLIAM DEWY, Tranter Reuben, Farmer Ledlow
    late at plough,
  Robert’s kin, and John’s, and Ned’s,
And the Squire, and Lady Susan, lie in Mellstock church-
     yard now!
‘Gone,’ I call them, gone for good, that group of local
     hearts and heads;
   Yet at mothy curfew-tide,
And at midnight when the noon-heat breathes it back
     from walls and leads,
They’ve a way of whispering to me—fellow-wight who
     yet abide—
   In the muted, measured note
Of a ripple under archways, or a lone cave’s stillicide:

‘We have triumph’d: this achievement turns the bane to
   Unsuccesses to success,
Many thought-worn eves and morrows to a morrow free
     of thought.
‘No more need we corn and clothing, feel of old terrestrial
     Chill detraction stirs no sigh;
Fear of death has even bygone us: death gave all that we

W. D.—‘Ye mid burn the old bass-viol that set I such value
Squire.—‘You may hold the manse in fee,
You may wed my spouse, may let my children’s memory
     of me die.’

Lady.—‘You may have my rich brocades, my laces; take each
    household key;
   Ransack coffer, desk, bureau;
  Quiz the few poor treasures hid there, con the letters kept by me.’

Far.—‘Ye mid zell my favourite heifer, ye mid let the
     charlock grow,
   Foul the grinterns, give up thrift.’
Wife.—‘If ye break my best blue china, children, I shan’t
    care or ho.’

All.—‘We’ve no wish to hear the tidings, how the people’s
   fortunes shift;
   What your daily doings are;
  Who are wedded, born, divided; if your lives beat slow or swift.

‘Curious not the least are we if our intents you make or
    If you quire to our old tune,
If the City stage still passes, if the weirs still roar afar.’

—Thus, with very gods’ composure, freed those crosses
    late and soon
    Which, in life, the Trine allow
(Why, none witteth), and ignoring all that haps beneath the moon,

William Dewy, Tranter Reuben, Farmer Ledlow late at
    Robert’s kin, and John’s, and Ned’s,
And the Squire, and Lady Susan, murmur mildly to me

822                                In Time of ‘The Breaking of Nations’I

ONLY a man harrowing clods
   In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
  Half asleep as they stalk.
Only thin smoke without flame
  From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
  Though Dynasties pass.
Yonder a maid and her wight
  Come whispering by:
War’s annals will cloud into night
  Ere their story die.
I Jer. li. 20.


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