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840                                   My Delight and Thy Delight

MY delight and thy delight
Walking, like two angels white,
In the gardens of the night:
My desire and thy desire
Twining to a tongue of fire,
Leaping live, and laughing higher:
Thro’ the everlasting strife
In the mystery of life.
Love, from whom the world begun,
Hath the secret of the sun.
Love can tell, and love alone,
Whence the million stars were strewn,
Why each atom knows its own,
How, in spite of woe and death,
Gay is life, and sweet is breath:
This he taught us, this we knew,
Happy in his science true,
Hand in hand as we stood
’Neath the shadows of the wood,
Heart to heart as we lay
In the dawning of the day.

841                                                  Spirits

ANGEL spirits of sleep,
White-robed, with silver hair,
In your meadows fair,
Where the willows weep,
And the sad moonbeam
On the gliding stream
Writes her scatter’d dream:
Angel spirits of sleep,
Dancing to the weir
In the hollow roar
Of its waters deep;
Know ye how men say
That ye haunt no more
Isle and grassy shore
With your moonlit play;
That ye dance not here,
White-robed spirits of sleep,
All the summer night
Threading dances light?

842                                                  Nightingales

BEAUTIFUL must be the mountains whence ye come,
And bright in the fruitful valleys the streams, wherefrom
          Ye learn your song:
Where are those starry woods? O might I wander there,
    Among the flowers, which in that heavenly air
          Bloom the year long!
Nay, barren are those mountains and spent the streams:
Our song is the voice of desire, that haunts our dreams,
          A throe of the heart,
Whose pining visions dim, forbidden hopes profound,
    No dying cadence nor long sigh can sound,
          For all our art.
Alone, aloud in the raptured ear of men
We pour our dark nocturnal secret; and then,
          As night is withdrawn
From these sweet-springing meads and bursting boughs of
     Dream, while the innumerable choir of day
           Welcome the dawn.

843                                                    A Passer-by

WHITHER, O splendid ship, thy white sails crowding,
  Leaning across the bosom of the urgent West,
That fearest nor sea rising, nor sky clouding,
  Whither away, fair rover, and what thy quest?
  Ah! soon, when Winter has all our vales opprest,
When skies are cold and misty, and hail is hurling,
  Wilt thoàu glide on the blue Pacific, or rest
In a summer haven asleep, thy white sails furling.
I there before thee, in the country that well thou knowest,
  Already arrived am inhaling the odorous air:
I watch thee enter unerringly where thou goest,
  And anchor queen of the strange shipping there,
  Thy sails for awnings spread, thy masts bare:
Nor is aught from the foaming reef to the snow-capp’d grandest
  Peak, that is over the feathery palms, more fair
Than thou, so upright, so stately and still thou standest.
And yet, O splendid ship, unhail’d and nameless,
  I know not if, aiming a fancy, I rightly divine
That thou hast a purpose joyful, a courage blameless,
  Thy port assured in a happier land than mine.
  But for all I have given thee, beauty enough is t
hine, As thou, aslant with trim tackle and shrouding,
  From the proud nostril curve of a prow’s line
In the offing scatterest foam, thy white sails crowding.

844                                               Pater Filio

SENSE with keenest edge unusàd,
  Yet unsteel’d by scathing fire;
Lovely feet as yet unbruisàd
  On the ways of dark desire;
Sweetest hope that lookest smil
ing O’er the wilderness defiling!
Why such beauty, to be blighted
  By the swarm of foul destruction?
Why such innocence delighted,
  When sin stalks to thy seduction?
All the litanies e’er chaunted
Shall not keep thy faith undaunted.
I have pray’d the sainted Morning
  To unclasp her hands to hold thee;
From resignful Eve’s adorning
  Stol’n a robe of peace to enfold thee;
With all charms of man’s contriving
Arm’d thee for thy lonely striving.
Me too once unthinking Nature,
  —Whence Love’s timeless mockery took me,—
Fashion’d so divine a creature,
  Yea, and like a beast forsook me.
I forgave, but tell the measure
Of her crime in thee, my treasure.

845                                             Winter Nightfall

THE day begins to droop,—
  Its course is done:
But nothing tells the place
  Of the setting sun.
The hazy darkness deepens,
  And up the lane
You may hear, but cannot see,
  The homing wain.
An engine pants and hums
  In the farm hard by:
Its lowering smoke is lost
  In the lowering sky.
The soaking branches drip,
  And all night through
The dropping will not cease
  In the avenue.
A tall man there in the house
  Must keep his chair:
He knows he will never again
  Breathe the spring air:
His heart is worn with work;
  He is giddy and sick
If he rise to go as far
  As the nearest rick:
He thinks of his morn of life,
  His hale, strong years;
And braves as he may the night
  Of darkness and tears.

846                                      When Death to Either shall come

WHEN Death to either shall come,—
  I pray it be first to me,—
Be happy as ever at home,
  If so, as I wish, it be.
Possess thy heart, my own;
  And sing to the child on thy knee,
Or read to thyself alone
  The songs that I made for thee.

847                                                The Linnet

I HEARD a linnet courting
  His lady in the spring:
His mates were idly sporting,
  Nor stayed to hear him sing
    His song of love.—
I fear my speech distorting
    His tender love.
The phrases of his pleading
  Were full of young delight;
And she that gave him heeding
  Interpreted aright
    His gay, sweet notes,-
- So sadly marred in the reading,—
    His tender notes.
And when he ceased, the hearer
  Awaited the refrain,
Till swiftly perching nearer
  He sang his song again,
    His pretty song:—
Would that my verse spake clearer
    His tender song!
Ye happy, airy creatures!
  That in the merry spring
Think not of what misfeatures
  Or cares the year may bring;
    But unto love
Resign your simple natures,
    To tender love.

848                                     Awake, my Heart, to be loved

AWAKE, my heart, to be loved, awake, awake:
The darkness silvers away, the morn doth break,
It leaps in the sky: unrisen lustres slake
The o’ertaken moon. Awake, O heart, awake!
She too that loveth awaketh and hopes for thee;
Her eyes already have sped the shades that flee,
Already they watch the path thy feet shall take:
Awake, O heart, to be loved, awake, awake!
And if thou tarry from her,—if this could be,—
She cometh herself, O heart, to be loved, to thee;
For thee would unashamàd herself forsake:
Awake to be loved, my heart, awake, awake!
Awake, the land is scattered with light, and see,
Uncanopied sleep is flying from field and tree:
And blossoming boughs of April in laughter shake;
Awake, O heart, to be loved, awake, awake!
Lo all things wake and tarry and look for thee:
She looketh and saith, ‘O sun, now bring him to me.
Come more adored, O adored, for his coming’s sake,
And awake my heart to be loved: awake, awake!’

849                               Elegy: On a Lady, whom Grief
                                 for the Death of her Betrothed killed

ASSEMBLE, all ye maidens, at the door,
And all ye loves, assemble; far and wide
Proclaim the bridal, that proclaim’d before
Has been deferr’d to this late eventide:
       For on this night the bride,
     The days of her betrothal over,
   Leaves the parental hearth for evermore;
To-night the bride goes forth to meet her lover.
Reach down the wedding vesture, that has lain
Yet all unvisited, the silken gown:
Bring out the bracelets, and the golden chain
Her dearer friends provided: sere and brown
       Bring out the festal crown,
     And set it on her forehead lightly:
   Though it be wither’d, twine no wreath again;
This only is the crown she can wear rightly.
Cloke her in ermine, for the night is cold,
And wrap her warmly, for the night is long,
In pious hands the flaming torches hold,
While her attendants, chosen from among
       Her faithful virgin throng,
     May lay her in her cedar litter,
   Decking her coverlet with sprigs of gold,
Roses, and lilies white that best befit her.
Sound flute and tabor, that the bridal be
Not without music, nor with these alone;
But let the viol lead the melody,
With lesser intervals, and plaintive moan
       Of sinking semitone;
     And, all in choir, the virgin voices
   Rest not from singing in skill’d harmony
The song that aye the bridegroom’s ear rejoices.
Let the priests go before, array’d in white,
And let the dark-stoled minstrels follow slow,
Next they that bear her, honour’d on this night,
And then the maidens, in a double row,
       Each singing soft and low,
     And each on high a torch upstaying:
   Unto her lover lead her forth with light,
With music, and with singing, and with praying.
’Twas at this sheltering hour he nightly came,
And found her trusty window open wide,
And knew the signal of the timorous flame,
That long the restless curtain would not hide
       Her form that stood beside;
     As scarce she dared to be delighted,
   Listening to that sweet tale, that is no shame
To faithful lovers, that their hearts have plighted.
But now for many days the dewy grass
Has shown no markings of his feet at morn:
And watching she has seen no shadow pass
The moonlit walk, and heard no music borne
       Upon her ear forlorn.
     In vain has she looked out to greet him;
   He has not come, he will not come, alas!
So let us bear her out where she must meet him.
Now to the river bank the priests are come:
The bark is ready to receive its freight:
Let some prepare her place therein, and some
Embark the litter with its slender weight:
       The rest stand by in state,
     And sing her a safe passage over;
   While she is oar’d across to her new home,
Into the arms of her expectant lover.

And thou, O lover, that art on the watch,
Where, on the banks of the forgetful streams,
The pale indifferent ghosts wander, and snatch
The sweeter moments of their broken dreams,—
       Thou, when the torchlight gleams,
     When thou shalt see the slow procession,
   And when thine ears the fitful music catch,
Rejoice, for thou art near to thy possession.


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