For well she knew, I could not choose
But gaze upon her face.
I told her of the Knight that wore
Upon his shield a burning brand;
And that for ten long years he wooed
The Lady of the Land.
I told her how he pined: and ah !
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang another's love,
Interpreted rhy own.
She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes, and modest grace;
And she forgave me, that I gazed
Too fondly on her face !
LOVE. 2 1
But when I told the cruel scorn
That crazed that bold and lovely Knight,
And that he crossed the mountain-woods,
Nor rested day nor night;
That sometimes from the savage den,
And sometimes from the darksome shade,
And sometimes starting up at once
In green and sunny glade,
There came and looked him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright;
And that he knew it was a Fiend,
This miserable Knight !
And that, unknowing what he did,
He leaped amid a murderous band,
And saved from outrage worse than death
The Lady of the Land;
And how she wept, and clasped his knees;
And how she tended him in vain
And ever strove to expiate
The scorn that crazed his brain;
And that she nursed him in a cave;
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest-leaves
A dying man he lay;
His dying words but when I reached
The tenderest strain of all the ditty,
My faltering voice and pausing harp
Disturbed her soul with pity.
28 THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrilled my guileless Genevieve;
The music and the doleful tale,
The rich and balmy eve;
And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
Subdued, and cherished long !
She wept with pity and delight,
She blushed with love, and virgin shame;
And like the murmur of a dream,
I heard her breathe my name.
Her bosom heaved she stepped aside,
As conscious of my look she stept
Then suddenly, with timorous eye,
She fled to me and wept.
She half inclosed me with her arms,
She pressed me with a meek embrace;
And bending back her head, looked up,
And gazed upon my face.
'Twas partly love, and partly fear,
And partly 'twas a bashful art,
That I might rather feel, than see,
The swelling of her heart.
I calmed her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin pride;
And so I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous Bride.
BY WILLIAM KNOX.
H, why should the spirit of, mortal be proud?
Like a swift fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud,
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave,
Man passeth from life to his rest in the grave.
The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade,
Be scattered around and together be laid;
And the young and the old, and the low and the high,
Shall moulder to dust and together shall lie.
The infant a mother attended and loved;
The mother that infant's affection who proved;
The husband that mother and infant who blessed,
Each, all, are away to their dwellings of rest.
The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye,
Shone beauty and pleasure, her triumphs are by;
And the memory of those who loved her and praised,
Are alike from the minds of the living erased.
THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
The hand of the king that the sceptre hath borne;
The brow of the priest that the mitre hath worn;
The eye of the sage and the heart of the brave,
Are hidden and lost in the depth of the grave.
The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap;
The herdsman, who climbed with his goats up the steep;
The beggar, who wandered in search of his bread,
Have faded away like the grass that we tread.
The saint who enjoyed the communion of heaven,
The sinner who dared to remain unforgiven,
The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just,
Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.
So the multitude goes, like the flower or the weed
That withers away to let others succeed;
So the multitude comes, even those we behold,
To repeat every tale that has often been told.
For we are the same our fathers have been;
We see the same sights our fathers have seen,
We drink the same stream and view the same sun,
And run the same course our fathers have run.
The thoughts we are thinking our fathers would think;
From the death we are shrinking our fathers would shrink;
To the life we are clinging they also would cling;
But it speeds for us all, like a bird on the wing.
They loved, but the story we cannot unfold;
They scorned, but the heart of the haughty is cold;
They grieved;, but no wail from their slumbers will come;
They joyed, but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.
OH, WHY SHOULD THE SPIRIT OF MORTAL BE PROUD? 31
-$ >* <r-
They died, ay ! they died: and we things that are now,
Who walk on the turf that lies over their brow,
Who make in their dwelling a transient abode,
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.
Yea! hope and despondency, pleasure and pain,
We mingle together in sunshine and rain;
And the smiles and the tears, the song and the dirge,
Still follow each other, like surge upon surge.
'Tis the wink of an eye, 'tis the draught of a breath,
From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,
From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud,
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud ?
BY THOMAS CAMPBELL.
LL worldly shapes shall melt in gloom;
The Sun himself must die,
Before this mortal shall assume
Its immortality !
I saw a vision in my sleep,
That gave my spirit strength to sweep
Adown the gulf of Time !
I saw the last of human mould
That shall Creation's death behold,
As Adam saw her prime.
The Sun's eye had a sickly glare,
The Earth with age was wan,
The skeletons of nations were
Around that lonely man !
Some had expired in fight the brands
Still rusted in their bony hands;
In plague and famine some !
Earth's cities had no sound nor tread,
And ships were drifting with the dead
To shores where all was dumb !
" Yet, prophet-like, that lone one stood,
With dauntless words and high."
THE LAST MAN. 33
Yet, prophet-like, that lone one stood,
With dauntless words and high,
That shook the sere leaves from the wood,
As if a storm passed by;
Saying, " We are twins in death, proud Sun,
Thy face is cold, thy race is run
'Tis mercy bids thee go;
For thou ten thousand, thousand years
Hast seen the tide of human tears,
That shall no longer flow.
" What though beneath thee man put forth
His pomp, his pride, his skill;
And arts that made fire, flood, and earth,
The vassals of his will !
Yet mourn I not thy parted sway,
Thou dim discrowned* king of day,
For all these trophied arts
And triumphs, that beneath thee sprang,
Healed not a passion, or a pang,
Entailed on human hearts.
" Go, let oblivion's curtain fall
Upon the stage of men,
Nor with thy rising beams recall
Life's tragedy again;
Its piteous pageants bring not back,
Nor weaken flesh upon the rack
Of pain anew to writhe;
Stretched in disease's shapes abhorred,
Or mown in battle by the sword,
Like grass beneath the scythe.
* "My gray, discrowned head." CHARLES I.
THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
" E'en I am weary in yon skies
To watch thy fading fire;
Test of all sumless agonies,
Behold not me expire.
My lips that speak thy dirge of death
Their rounded gasp and gurgling breath
To see thou shalt not boast;
The eclipse of Nature spreads my pall
The majesty of Darkness shall
Receive my parting ghost !
" This spirit shall return to him
That gave its heavenly spark;
Yet think not, Sun, it shall be dim
When thou thyself art dark !
No ! it shall live again, and shine
In bliss unknown to beams of thine,
By Him recalled to breath,
Who captive led captivity,
Who robbed the Grave of victory,
And took the sting from Death !
Go, Sun, while Mercy holds me up
On Nature's awful waste,
To drink this last and bitter cup
Of grief that man shall taste
Go, tell the night that hides thy face,
Thou saw'st the last of Adam's race,
On Earth's sepulchral clod,
The dark'ning universe defy
To quench his immortality,
Or shake his trust in God ! "
BY CHRISTINA ROSSETTI.
INTER is cold-hearted;
Spring is yea and nay;
Autumn is a weather-cock,
Blown every way;
Summer days for me,
When every leaf is on its tree,
When Robin's not a beggar,
And Jenny Wren's a bride,
And larks hang, singing, singing, singing,
Over the wheat-fields wide,
And anchored lilies ride,
And the pendulum spider
Swings from side to side,
And blue-black beetles transact business,
And gnats fly in a host,
And furry caterpillars hasten
That no time be lost,
And moths grow fat and thrive,
And ladybirds arrive.
THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
Before green apples blush,
Before green nuts embrown,
Why, one day in the country
Is worth a month in town
Is worth a day and a year
Of the dusty, musty, lag-last fashion
That days drone everywhere.
BY ROBERT BROWNING.
EAUTIFUL Evelyn Hope is dead !
Sit and watch by her side an hour.
That is her book-shelf, this her bed;
She plucked that geranium-flower,
Beginning to die, too, in the glass;
Little has yet been changed, I think:
The shutters are shut, no light may pass
Save two long rays through the hinge and chink.
Sixteen years old when she died !
Perhaps she had scarcely heard my name;
It was not her time to love; beside,
Her life had many a hope and aim,
Duties enough and little cares,
And now was quiet, now astir,
Till God's hand beckoned unawares
And the sweet white brow is all of her.
38 THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
It is too late, then, Evelyn Hope ?
What ! your soul was pure and true,
The good stars met in your horoscope,
Made you of spirit, fire and dew
And just because I was thrice as old,
And our paths in the world diverged so wide,
Each was nought to each, must I be told ?
We were fellow-mortals, nought beside ?
No, indeed ! for God above
Is great to grant, as mighty to make,
And creates the love to reward the love;
I claim you still, for my own love's sake !
Delayed it may be for more lives yet,
Through worlds I shall traverse not a few:
Much is to learn and much to forget
Ere the time be come for taking you.
But the time will come at last it will,
When, Evelyn Hope, what meant (I shall say)
In the lower Earth, in the years long still,
That body and soul so pure and gay ?
Why, your hair was amber, I shall divine,
And your mouth of your own geranium's red
And what you would do with me, in fine,
In the new life come in the old one's stead.
I have lived (I shall say) so much since then,
Given up myself so many times,
Gained me the gains of various men,
Ransacked the ages, spoiled the climes;
Yet one thing, one, in my soul's full scope,
Either I missed, or itself missed me:
And I want and find you, Evelyn Hope:
What is the issue ? let us see.
I loved you, Evelyn, all the while !
My heart seemed full as it could hold
There was place and to spare for the frank young smile
And the red young mouth and the hair's young gold,
So, hush I will give you this leaf to keep
See, I shut inside the sweet cold hand.
There, that is our secret: go to sleep;
You will wake, and remember, and understand.
BY ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
O ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers,
Ere the sorrow comes with years ?
They are leaning their young heads against their
And that cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows,
The young birds are chirping in the nest,
The young fawns are playing with the shadows,
The young flowers are blowing towards the west
But the young, young children, O my brothers,
They are weeping bitterly !
They are weeping in the playtime of the others,
In the country of the free.
Do you question the young children in their sorrow
Why their tears are falling so ?
The old man may weep for his to-morrow,
Which is lost in Long Ago;
The tree is leafless in the forest,
The old year is ending with the frost,
The old wound, if stricken, is the sorest,
The old hope is hardest to be lost:
But the young, young children, O my brothers,
Do you ask them why they stand
Weeping sore before the bosoms of their mothers,
In our happy Fatherland ?
THE CRY OF THE CHILDREN. 4!
They look up with their pale and sunken faces,
And their looks are sad to see,
For the man's hoary anguish draws and presses
Down the cheeks of infancy;
"Your old Earth," they say, "is very dreary;
Our young feet," they say, " are very weak;
Few paces have we taken, yet are weary,
Our grave-rest is very far to seek:
Ask the aged why they weep, and not the children;
For the outside Earth is cold,
And we young ones stand without in our bewildering,
And the graves are for the old."
" True," say the children, " it may happen,
That we die before our time:
Little Alice died last year; her grave is shapen
Like a snowball, in the rime.
We looked into the pit prepared to take her;
Was no room for any work in the close clay !
From the sleep wherein she lieth none can wake her,
Crying ' Get up, little Alice, it is day ! '
If you listen by that grave in sun and shower,
With your ear down, little Alice never cries;
Could we see her face, be sure we should not know her,
For the smile has time for growing in her eyes.
And merry go her moments, lulled and stilled in
The shroud by the kirk-chime.
It is good when it happens," say the children,
" That we die before our time."
Alas, alas, the children ! they are seeking
Death in life as best to have:
They are binding up their hearts, away from breaking
With a cerement from the grave.
42 THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
Go out, children, from the mine and from the city,
Sing out, children, as the little thrushes do;
Pluck your handfuls of the meadow cowslips pretty,
Laugh loud to feel your fingers let them through !
But they answer, "Are your cowslips of the meadows
Like our weeds anear the mine ?
Leave us quiet in the dark of the coal-shadows,
From your pleasures fair and fine !
" For oh," say the children, " we are weary,
And we cannot run or leap !
If we cared for any meadows, it were merely
To drop down in them and sleep.
Our knees tremble sorely in the stooping,
We fall upon our faces trying to go;
And underneath our heavy eyelids drooping
The reddest flower would look as pale as snow.
For, all day, we drag our burden tiring,
Through the coal-dark underground;
Or, all day, we drive the wheels of iron
In the factories, round and round.
" For all day the wheels are droning, turning;
Their wind comes in our faces,
Till our hearts turn, our head with pulses burning,
And the walls turn in their places;
Turns the sky in the high window blank and reeling,
Turns the long light that drops adown the wall,
Turn the black flies that crawl along the ceiling
All are turning, all the day, and we with all.
And all the day the iron wheels are droning,
And sometimes we could pray,
' O ye wheels ' (breakingJout in a mad moaning),
' Stop ! be silent for to-day ! ' "
THE CRY OF THE CHILDREN. 43
Ay, be silent ! Let them hear each other breathing *
For a moment, mouth to mouth !
Let them touch each other's hands, in a fresh wreathing
Of their tender human youth !
Let them feel that this cold metallic motion
Is not all the life God fashions and reveals:
Let them prove their living souls against the notion
That they live in you, or under you, O wheels !
Still all day the iron wheels go onward,
Grinding life down from its mark;
And the children's souls, which God is calling sunward,
Spin on blindly in the dark.
Now tell the poor young children, O my brothers,
To look up to him and pray;
So the Blessed One, who blesseth all the others,
Will bless them another day.
They answer, " Who is God that he should hear us,
While the rushing of the iron wheels is stirred ?
When we sob aloud, the human creatures near us
Pass by, hearing not, or answer not a word;
And we hear not (for the wheels in their resounding)
Strangers speaking at the door:
Is it likely God, with angels singing round him,
Hears our weeping any more ?
" Two words, indeed, of praying we remember,
And at midnight's hour of harm,
' Our Father,' looking upward in the chamber,
We say softly for a charm.
We know no other words except ' Our Father,'
And we think that, in some pause of angel's song,
God may pluck them with the silence sweet to gather,
And hold both within his right hafid which is strong.
Q 9 >
44 THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
" Our Father ! ' If he heard us, he would surely
(For they call him good and mild)
Answer, smiling down the steep world very purely,
* Come and rest with me, my child.'
" But no ! " say the children, weeping faster,
" He is speechless as a stone:
And they tell us, of his image is the master
'Who commands us to work on.
Go to ! " say the children, " up in heaven
Dark wheel-like turning clouds are all we find.
Do not mock us, grief has made us unbelieving:
We look up for God, but tears have made us blind."
1 Do you hear the children weeping and disproving,
O my brothers, what ye preach ?
For God's possible is taught by this world's loving,
And the children doubt of each.
And well may the children weep before you !
They are weary ere they run;
They have never seen the sunshine, nor the glory
Which is brighter than the sun.
They know the grief of man, without its wisdom;
They sink in man's despair, without its calm;
Are slaves, without the liberty in Christdom;
Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm:
Are worn, as if with age, yet unretrievingly
The harvest of its memories cannot reap,
Are orphans of the earthly love and heavenly.
Let them weep ! let them weep !
They look up with their pale and sunken faces,
And their look is dread to see;
For they,mind you of their angels in high places,
With their eyes turned on Deity.
THE CRY OF THE CHILDREN.
" How long," they say, " how long, O cruel nation,
Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's heart,-
Stifle down with a mailed heel its palpitation,
And tread onward to your throne amid the mart ?
Our blood splashes upward, O gold-heaper,
And your purple shows your path ! *
But the child's sob in the silence curses deeper
Than the strong man in his wrath."
WRITTEN WHILE SAILING IN A BOAT AT EVENING.
OW richly glows the water's breast
Before us, tinged with evening hues,
While facing thus the crimson west,
The boat her silent course pursues !
And see how dark the backward stream !
A little moment past so smiling !
And still, perhaps, with faithless gleam,
Some other loiterers beguiling.
Such views the youthful bard* allure,
But heedless of the following gloom,
He deems their colours shall endure
Till peace go with him to the tomb.
And let him nurse his fond deceit,
And what if he must die in sorrow !
Who would not cherish dreams so sweet,
Though grief and pain may come to-morrow !
BY TOM -HOOD.
HY do you wail, O Wind? why do you sigh,
Is it remorse for the ships gone down, with this
pitiless shore on the lea?
Moan, moan, moan
In the desolate night and lone!
Ah, what is the tale
You would fain unveil
In your wild weird cries to me?
A gleam of white on the shore! 'tis not the white sea-foam,
Nor wandering sea-bird's glimmering* wing, for at night no
'Tis one of the drowned drowned
Of the hapless homeward-bound,
Last night, in the dark,
There perish'd a bark
On the bar; and ? twas bound for home!
A woman's cold white corpse a woman so young and fair!
See, the cruel storm has entwined with weeds the wealth of
her weltering hair;
And the little, the little hand
Lies listless and limp on the sand.
They have bound her fast
To the wreck of a mast;
But the wild waves would not spare!
48 THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
Look, how they bound and leap cast themselves far o'er
Striving to seize on their stranded prey, and carry it off once
Or is it remorse or dread,
Or a longing to bury its dead,
That makes the surge
On the ocean-verge
So incessantly howl and roar?
Where do they list for her step? where do they look for her face?
Where are they waiting to see her once more in the old"
Dead, dead, dead!
In vain will their tears be shed;
For not one of them all,
Alas will fall
On that bosom's marble grace!
Why do you sigh, O Sea? why do you wail, O Wind?
Why do you murmur,. in mournful tone, like things with a
. - Wail, wail, wail,
Articulate ocean and gale!
For the loveliness rare,
So pallid and fair,
You slew in your fury blind!
Let us bear her away to a grave in the churchyard's calm
Where the sound of the wind and waves in strife may never
her peace molest.
Though we cannot carve her name,
She will slumber all the same;
And the wild-rose bloom
Shall cover her tomb,
And she shall have perfect rest.
" Where the hedgeside roses blow,
Where the little daisies grow."
E does well who does his best;
Is he weary ? let him rest.
Brothers ! I have done my best,
I am weary let me rest.
After toiling oft in vain,
Baffled, yet to struggle fain;
After toiling long, to gain
Little good with mickle pain,
Let me rest. But lay me low,
Where the hedgeside roses blow;
Where the little daisies grow,
Where the winds a-maying go;
Where the footpath' rustics plod;
Where the breeze-bowed poplars nod;
Where the old woods worship God,
Where His pencil paints the sod;
Where the wedded throstle sings,
Where the young bird tries his wings;
Where the wailing plover sings,
Near the runlet's rushing springs !
Where, at times, the tempest's roar,
Shaking distant sea and shore,
Still will rave old Barnesdale o'er,
To be heard by me no more!
There, beneath the breezy west,
Tired and thankful, let me rest,
Like a child that sleepeth best
On its mother's gentle breast.
BY PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.
SENSITIVE Plant in a garden grew,
And the young winds fed it with silver dew;
And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light,
And closed them beneath the kisses of night.
And the spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the spirit of love, felt everywhere !^
And each flower and herb on earth's dark
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
The Snowdrop, and then the Violet,
Arose from the ground with warm rain wet;
And their breath was mixed with fresh odor,
From the turf, like the voice to the instru-
Then the pied Wind-flowers, and the Tulip tall,
And Narcissi, the fairest among them all
Who gaze on their eyes in the stream's recess,
Till they die of their own dear loveliness.
THE SENSITIVE PLANT. 51
And the naiad-like Lily of the Vale,
Whom youth makes so fair, and passions so pale,
That the light of its tremulous bells is seen
Through their pavilions of tender green.
And the Hyacinth, purple, and white, and blue,
Which flung from its bells a sweet peal anew
Of music so delicate, soft, and intense,
It was felt like an odor within the sense.
And the Rose, like a nymph to the bath addrest,
Which unveiled the depth of her glowing breast,
Till, fold after fold, to the fainting air
The soul of her beauty and love lay bare.
And the wand-like Lily, which lifted up,
As a Maenad, its moonlight-colored cup,
Till the fiery star, which is its eye,
Gazed through clear dew on the tender sky.
And the Jessamine faint, and the sweet Tuberose,
The sweetest flower for scent that blows !
And all rare blossoms, from every clime,
Grew in that garden in perfect prime.
And on the stream, whose inconstant bosom
Was prankt under boughs of embowering blossom,
With golden and green light, and, starting through
Their heaven of many a tangled hue,
Broad Water-lilies lay tremulously,
And starry River-buds glimmered by,
And around them the soft stream did glide and dance
With a motion of sweet sound and radiance.
52 THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
And the sinuous paths of lawn and moss,
Which led through the garden along and across-
Some open at once to the sun and the breeze,
Some lost among bowers of blossoming trees
Were all paved with Daisies and delicate bells,