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823                                         The Desolate City

DARK to me is the earth. Dark to me are the heavens.
  Where is she that I loved, the woman with eyes like
Desolate are the streets. Desolate is the city.
  A city taken by storm, where none are left but the slain.
Sadly I rose at dawn, undid the latch of my shutters,
  Thinking to let in light, but I only let in love.
Birds in the boughs were awake; I listen’d to their chaunting;
  Each one sang to his love; only I was alone.
This, I said in my heart, is the hour of life and of pleasure.
  Now each creature on earth has his joy, and lives in the sun,
Each in another’s eyes finds light, the light of compassion,
  This is the moment of pity, this is the moment of love.
Speak, O desolate city! Speak, O silence in sadness!
  Where is she that I loved in my strength, that spoke to my
nbsp;  soul?
Where are those passionate eyes that appeal’d to my eyes in
  Where is the mouth that kiss’d me, the breast I laid to my own?
Speak, thou soul of my soul, for rage in my heart is kindled.
  Tell me, where didst thou flee in the day of destruction
   and fear?
See, my arms still enfold thee, enfolding thus all heaven,
  See, my desire is fulfill’d in thee, for it fills the earth.
Thus in my grief I lamented. Then turn’d I from the
Turn’d to the stair, and the open door, and the empty
Crying aloud in my grief, for there was none to chide me,
  None to mock my weakness, none to behold my tears.
Groping I went, as blind. I sought her house, my belovàed’s.
  There I stopp’d at the silent door, and listen’d and tried
nbsp;   the latch.
Love, I cried, dost thou slumber? This is no hour for
This is the hour of love, and love I bring in my hand.
I knew the house, with its windows barr’d, and its leafless
  Climbing round by the doorstep the only one in the street;
I knew where my hope had climb’d to its goal and there
  All that those desolate walls once held, my belovàed’s heart.
There in my grief she consoled me. She loved me when I
   loved not.
  She put her hand in my hand, and set her lips to my lips.
She told me all her pain and show’d me all her trouble.
  I, like a fool, scarce heard, hardly return’d her kiss.
Love, thy eyes were like torches. They changed as I beheld
Love, thy lips were like gems, the seal thou settest on my
Love, if I loved not then, behold this hour thy vengeance;
This is the fruit of thy love and thee, the unwise grown
Weeping strangled my voice. I call’d out, but none answer’d;
  Blindly the windows gazed back at me, dumbly the door;
She whom I love, who loved me, look’d not on my yearning,
  Gave me no more her hands to kiss, show’d me no more
     her soul.
Therefore the earth is dark to me, the sunlight blackness,
   Therefore I go in tears and alone, by night and day;
Therefore I find no love in heaven, no light, no beauty,
   A heaven taken by storm where none are left but the slain!

824                                           With Esther

HE who has once been happy is for aye
   Out of destruction’s reach. His fortune then
Holds nothing secret; and Eternity,
   Which is a mystery to other men,
Has like a woman given him its joy.
   Time is his conquest. Life, if it should fret,
Has paid him tribute. He can bear to die,
   He who has once been happy! When I set
The world before me and survey its range,
   Its mean ambitions, its scant fantasies,
The shreds of pleasure which for lack of change
   Men wrap around them and call happiness,
The poor delights which are the tale and sum
Of the world’s courage in its martyrdom;
When I hear laughter from a tavern door,
   When I see crowds agape and in the rain
Watching on tiptoe and with stifled roar
   To see a rocket fired or a bull slain,
When misers handle gold, when orators
   Touch strong men’s hearts with glory till they
When cities deck their streets for barren wars
   Which have laid waste their youth, and when
Calmly the count of my own life and see
   On what poor stuff my manhood’s dreams
Till I too learn’d what dole of vanity
   Will serve a human soul for daily bread,
—Then I remember that I once was young
And lived with Esther the world’s gods among.

825                                               Gibraltar

SEVEN weeks of sea, and twice seven days of storm
Upon the huge Atlantic, and once more
We ride into still water and the calm
Of a sweet evening, screen’d by either shore
Of Spain and Barbary. Our toils are o’er,
Our exile is accomplish’d. Once again
We look on Europe, mistress as of yore
Of the fair earth and of the hearts of men.
  Ay, this is the famed rock which Hercules
And Goth and Moor bequeath’d us. At this door
England stands sentry. God! to hear the shrill
Sweet treble of her fifes upon the breeze,
And at the summons of the rock gun’s roar
To see her red coats marching from the hill!

826                                             The Old Squire

I LIKE the hunting of the hare
  Better than that of the fox;
I like the joyous morning air,
  And the crowing of the cocks.
I like the calm of the early fields,
  The duc ce0 ks asleep by the lake,
The quiet hour which Nature yields,
  Before mankind is awake.
I like the pheasants and feeding things
  Of the unsuspicious morn;
I like the flap of the wood-pigeon’s wings
  As she rises from the corn.
I like the blackbird’s shriek, and his rush
  From the turnips as I pass by,
And the partridge hiding her head in a bush
  For her young ones cannot fly.
I like these things, and I like to ride
  When all the world is in bed,
To the top of the hill where the sky grows wide,
  And where the sun grows red.
The beagles at my horse heels trot
  In silence after me;
There’s Ruby, Roger, Diamond, Dot,
  Old Slut and Margery,—
A score of names well used, and dear,
  The names my childhood knew;
The horn, with which I rouse their cheer,
  Is the horn my father blew.
I like the hunting of the hare
  Better than that of the fox;
The new world still is all less fair
  Than the old world it mocks.
I covet not a wider range
  Than these dear manors give;
I take my pleasures without change,
  And as I lived I live.
I leave my neighbours to their thought;
  My choice it is, and pride,
On my own lands to find my sport,
  In my own fields to ride.
The hare herself no better loves
  The field where she was bred,
Than I the habit of these groves,
  My own iniherited.
I know my quarries every one,
  The meuse where she sits low;
The road she chose to-day was run
  A hundred years ago.
The lags, the gills, the forest ways,
  The hedgerows one and all,
These are the kingdoms of my chase,
  And bounded by my wall;
Nor has the world a better thing,
  Though one should search it round,
Than thus to live one’s own sole king,
  Upon one’s own sole ground.
I like the hunting of the hare;
  It brings me, day by day,
The memory of old days as fair,
  With dead men past away.
To these, as homeward still I ply
  And pass the churchyard gate
Where all are laid as I must lie,
  I stop and raise my hat.

I like the humting of the hare;
  New sports I hold in scorn.
I like to be as my fathers were,
  In the days e’er I was born.


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