Storm-winds rocking the red great dawn,
Close at last, and a film is drawn
Over the eyes of the storm-bird, scorning
Now no longer the loud wind's warning,
Waves that threaten or waves that fawn.
Peers were none of thee left us living,
Peers of theirs we shall see no more.
Eight years over the full fourscore
Knew thee : now shalt thou sleep, forgiving
All griefs past of the wild world's giving,
Moored at last on the stormless shore.
ON EDWARD JOHN TRELAWNY. 237
Worldwide liberty's lifelong lover,
Lover no less of the strength of song,
Sea-king, swordsman, hater of wrong,
Over thy dust that the dust shall cover
Comes my song as a bird to hover,
Borne of its will as of wings along.
Cherished of thee were this brief song's brothers
Now that follows them, cherishing thee.
Over the tides and the tideless sea
Soft as a smile of the earth our mother's
Flies it faster than all those others,
First of the troop at thy tomb to be.
Memories of Greece and the mountain's hollow
Guarded alone of thy loyal sword
Hold thy name for our hearts in ward :
Yet more fain are our hearts to follow
One way now with the southward swallow
Back to the grave of the man their lord.
Heart of hearts, art thou moved not, hearing
Surely, if hearts of the dead may hear,
Whose true heart it is now draws near ?
Surely the sense of it thrills thee, cheering
Darkness and death with the news now nearingâ€”
Shelley, Trelawny rejoins thee here.
2 3 8
ADIEUX A MARIE STUART.
Queen, for whose house my fathers fought,
With hopes that rose and fell,
Red star of boyhood's fiery thought,
They gave their lives, and I, my queen,
Have given you of my life,
Seeing your brave star burn high between
The strife that lightened round their spears
Long since fell still : so long
Hardly may hope to last in years
But still through strife of time and thought
Your light on me too fell :
Queen, in whose name we sang or fought,
ADIEUX A MARIE STUART. 239
There beats no heart on either border
Wherethrough the north blasts blow
But keeps your memory as a warder
His beacon-fire aglow.
Long since it fired with love and wonder
Mine, for whose April age
Blithe midsummer made banquet under
The shade of Hermitage.
Soft sang the burn's blithe notes, that gather
Strength to ring true :
And air and trees and sun and heather
Old border ghosts of fight or fairy
Or love or teen,
These they forgot, remembering Mary
Queen once of Scots and ever of ours
Whose sires brought forth for you
Their lives to strew your way like flowers,
Dead is full many a dead man's name
Who died for you this long
Time past : shall this too fare the same,
My song ?
24 o AD1EUX A MARIE STUART.
But surely, though it die or live,
Your face was worth
All that a man may think to give
No darkness cast of years between
Can darken you :
Man's love will never bid my queen
Love hangs like light about your name
As music round the shell :
No heart can take of you a tame
Yet, when your very face was seen,
111 gifts were yours for giving :
Love gat strange guerdons of my queen
O diamond heart unflawed and clear,
The whole world's crowning jewel !
Was ever heart so deadly dear
So cruel ?
Yet none for you of all that bled
Grudged once one drop that fell :
Not one to life reluctant said
ADIEUX A MARIE STUART. 241
Strange love they have given you, love disloyal,
Who mock with praise your name,
To leave a head so rare and royal
Too low for praise or blame.
You could not love nor hate, they tell us,
You had nor sense nor sting :
In God's name, then, what plague befell us
To fight for such a thing ?
' Some faults the gods will give/ to fetter
Man's highest intent :
But surely you were something better
Than innocent !
No maid that strays with steps unwary
Through snares unseen,
But one to live and die for ; Mary,
Forgive them all their praise, who blot
Your fame with praise of you :
Then love may say, and falter not,
242 ADIEUX A MARIE STUART,
Yet some you hardly would forgive
Who did you much less wrong
Once : but resentment should not live
They never saw your lip's bright bow,
Your swordbright eyes,
The bluest of heavenly things below
Clear eyes that love's self finds most like
A swordblade's blue,
A swordblade's ever keen to strike,
Though all things breathe or sound of fight
That yet make up your spell,
To bid you were to bid the light
Farewell the song says only, being
A star whose race is run :
Farewell the soul says never, seeing
Yet, wellnigh as with flash of tears,
The song must say but so
That took your praise up twenty years
AD1EUX A MARIE STUART. 243
More bright than stars or moons that vary,
Sun kindling heaven and hell,
Here, after all these years, Queen Mary,
When grace is given us ever to behold
A child some sweet months old,
Love, laying across our lips his finger, saith,
Smiling, with bated breath,
Hush ! for the holiest thing that lives is here,
And heaven's own heart how near !
How dare we, that may gaze not on the sun,
Gaze on this verier one ?
Heart, hold thy peace ; eyes, be cast down for shame ;
Lips, breathe not yet its name.
In heaven they know what name to call it ; we,
How should we know ? For, see !
The adorable sweet living marvellous
Strange light that lightens us
Who gaze, desertless of such glorious grace,
Full in a babe's warm face !
All roses that the morning rears are nought,
All stars not worth a thought,
Set this one star against them, or suppose
As rival this one rose.
What price could pay with earth's whole weight of gold
One least flushed roseleaf s fold
Of all this dimpling store of smiles that shine
From each warm curve and line,
Each charm of flower-sweet flesh, to reillume
The dappled rose-red bloom
Of all its dainty body, honey-sweet
Clenched hands and curled-up feet,
That on the roses of the dawn have trod
As they came down from God,
And keep the flush and colour that the sky
Takes when the sun comes nigh,
And keep the likeness of the smile their grace
Evoked on God's own face
When, seeing this work of his most heavenly mood,
He saw that it was good ?
For all its warm sweet body seems one smile,
And mere men's love too vile
To meet it, or with eyes that worship dims
Read o'er the little limbs,
Read all the book of all their beauties o'er,
Rejoice, revere, adore,
Bow down and worship each delight in turn,
Laugh, wonder, yield, and yearn.
But when our trembling kisses dare, yet dread,
Even to draw nigh its head,
And touch, and scarce with touch or breath surprise
Its mild miraculous eyes
Out of their viewless vision â€” O, what then,
What may be said of men ?
What speech may name a new-born child ? what word
Earth ever spake or heard ?
The best men's tongue that ever glory knew
Called that a drop of dew
Which from the breathing creature's kindly womb
Came forth in blameless bloom.
We have no word, as had those men most high,
To call a baby by.
Rose, ruby, lily, pearl of stormless seas â€”
A better word than these,
A better sign it was than flower or gem
That love revealed to them :
They knew that whence comes light or quickening
Thence only this thing came,
And only might be likened of our love
To somewhat born above,
Not even to sweetest things dropped else on earth,
Only to dew's own birth.
Nor doubt we but their sense was heavenly true,
Babe, when we gaze on you,
A dew-drop out of heaven whose colours are
More bright than sun or star,
As now, ere watching love dare fear or hope,
Lips, hands, and eyelids ope,
And all your life is mixed with earthly leaven.
O child, what news from heaven ?
Affectionately inscribed to W. M. R. and L. R.
April, on whose wings
Ride all gracious things,
Like the star that brings
All things good to man,
Ere his light, that yet
Makes the month shine, set,
And fair May forget
Whence her birth began,
Brings, as heart would choose,
Sound of golden news,
Bright as kindling dews
When the dawn begins ;
Tidings clear as mirth,
Sweet as air and earth
Now that hail the birth,
Twice thus blest, of twins.
In the lovely land
Where with hand in hand
Lovers wedded stand
Other joys before
Made your mixed life sweet :
Now, as Time sees meet,
Three glad blossoms greet
Two glad blossoms more.
Fed with sun and dew,
While your joys were new,
First arose and grew
One bright olive-shoot :
Then a fair and fine
Slip of warm-haired pine
Felt the sweet sun shine
On its leaf and fruit.
And it wore for mark
Graven on the dark
Beauty of its bark
That the noblest name
Worn in song of old
By the king whose bold
Hand had fast in hold
All the flower of fame.
Then, with southern skies
Flattered in her eyes,
Which, in lovelier wise
Yet, reflect their blue
Brightened more, being bright
Here with life's delight,
And with love's live light
Came, as fair as came
One who bore her name
(She that broke as flame
From the swan-shell white),
Crowned with tender hair
Only, but more fair
Than all queens that were
Themes of oldworld fight,
Of your flowers the third
Bud, or new-fledged bird
In your hearts' nest heard
Murmuring like a dove
Bright as those that drew
Over waves where blew
No loud wind the blue
Heaven-hued car of love.
Not the glorious grace
Even of that one face
Potent to displace
All the towers of Troy
Surely shone more clear
Once with childlike cheer
Than this child's face here
Now with living joy.
After these again
Here in April's train
Breaks the bloom of twain
Blossoms in one birth
For a crown of May
On the front of day
When he takes his way
Over heaven and earth.
Half a heavenly thing
Given from heaven to Spring
By the sun her king,
Half a tender toy,
Seems a child of curl
Yet too soft to twirl ;
Seems the flower- sweet girl
By the flower- bright boy.
All the kind gods' grace,
All their love, embrace
Ever either face,
Ever brood above them :
All soft wings of hours
Screen them as with flowers
From all beams and showers :
All life's seasons love them.
When the dews of sleep
Falling lightliest keep
Eyes too close to peep
Forth and laugh off rest,
Joy from face to feet
Fill them, as is meet :
Life to them be sweet
As their mother's breast.
When those dews are dry,
And in day's bright eye
Looking full they lie
Bright as rose and pearl,
All returns of joy
Pure of time's alloy
Bless the rose-red boy,
Guard the rose-white girl.
Friends, if I could take
Half a note from Blake
Or but one verse make
Of the Conqueror's mine,
Better than my best
Song above your nest
I would sing : the quest
Now seems too divine
April 28, 188]
THE SALT OF THE EARTH.
If childhood were not in the world,
But only men and women grown ;
No baby-locks in tendrils curled,
No baby-blossoms blown ;
Though men were stronger, women fairer,
And nearer all delights in reach,
And verse and music uttered rarer
Tones of more godlike speech j
Though the utmost life of life's best hours
Found, as it cannot now find, words ;
Though desert sands were sweet as flowers
And flowers could sing like birds,
But children never heard them, never
They felt a child's foot leap and run ;
This were a drearier star than ever
Yet looked upon the sun.
SEVEN YEARS OLD.
Seven white roses on one tree,
Seven white loaves of blameless leaven,
Seven white sails on one soft sea,
Seven white swans on one lake's lee,
Seven white flowerlike stars in heaven,
All are types unmeet to be
For a birthday's crown of seven.
Not the radiance of the roses,
Not the blessing of the bread,
Not the breeze that ere day grows is
Fresh for sails and swans, and closes
Wings above the sun's grave spread,
When the starshine on the snows is
Sweet as sleep on sorrow shed,
Nothing sweetest, nothing best,
Holds so good and sweet a treasure
254 SEVEN YEARS OLD.
As the love wherewith once blest
Joy grows holy, grief takes rest,
Life, half tired with hours to measure,
Fills his eyes and lips and breast
With most light and breath of pleasure ;
As the rapture unpolluted,
As the passion undefiled,
By whose force all pains heart-rooted
Are transfigured and transmuted,
Recompensed and reconciled,
Through the imperial, undisputed,
Present godhead of a child.
Brown bright eyes and fair bright head,
Worth a worthier crown than this is,
Worth a worthier song instead,
Sweet grave wise round mouth, full fed
With the joy of love, whose bliss is
More than mortal wine and bread,
Lips whose words are sweet as kisses,
Little hands so glad of giving,
Little heart so glad of love,
Little soul so glad of living,
SEVEN YEARS OLD. 255
While the strong swift hours are weaving
Light with darkness woven above,
Time for mirth and time for grieving,
Plume of raven and plume of dove,
I can give you but a word
Warm with love therein for leaven,
But a song that falls unheard
Yet on ears of sense unstirred
Yet by song so far from heaven,
Whence you came the brightest bird,
Seven years since, of seven times seven.
EIGHT YEARS OLD.
Sun, whom the faltering snow-cloud fears,
Rise, let the time of year be May,
Speak now the word that April hears,
Let March have all his royal way ;
Bid all spring raise in winter's ears
All tunes her children hear or play,
Because the crown of eight glad years
On one bright head is set to-day.
What matters cloud or sun to-day
To him who wears the wreath of years
So many, and all like flowers at play
With wind and sunshine, while his ears
Hear only song on every way ?
More sweet than spring triumphant hears
Ring through the revel-rout of May
Are these, the notes that winter fears.
EIGHT YEARS OLD. 257
Strong-hearted winter knows and fears
The music made of love at play,
Or haply loves the tune he hears
From hearts fulfilled with flowering May,
Whose molten music thaws his ears
Late frozen, deaf but yesterday
To sounds of dying and dawning years,
Now quickened on his deathward way.
For deathward now lies winter's way
Down the green vestibule of years
That each year brightens day by day
With flower and shower till hope sc arce fears
And fear grows wholly hope of May.
But we â€” the music in our ears
Made of love's pulses as they play
The heart alone that makes it hears.
The heart it is that plays and hears
High salutation of to-day.
Tongue falters, hand shrinks back, song fears
Its own unworthiness to play
Fit music for those eight sweet years,
Or sing their blithe accomplished way.
No song quite worth a young child's ears
Broke ever even from birds in May.
258 EIGHT YEARS OLD.
There beats not in the heart of May,
When summer hopes and springtide fears,
There falls not from the height of day,
When sunlight speaks and silence hears.
So sweet a psalm as children play
And sing, each hour of all their years,
Each moment of their lovely way,
And know not how it thrills our ears.
Ah child, what are we, that our ears
Should hear you singing on your way,
Should have this happiness ? The years
Whose hurrying wings about us play
Are not like yours, whose flower-time fears
Nought worse than sunlit showers in May,
Being sinless as the spring, that hears
Her own heart praise her every day.
Yet we too triumph in the day
That bare, to entrance our eyes and ears,
To lighten daylight, and to play
Such notes as darkness knows and fears,
The child whose face illumes our way,
Whose voice lifts up the heart that hears,
Whose hand is as the hand of May
To bring us flowers from eight full years.
February 4, 1882.
Child, when they say that others
Have been or are like you,
Babes fit to be your brothers,
Sweet human drops of dew,
Bright fruit of mortal mothers,
What should one say or do ?
We know the thought is treason,
We feel the dream absurd ;
A claim rebuked of reason,
That withers at a word :
For never shone the season
That bore so blithe a bird.
Some smiles may seem as merry,
Some glances gleam as wise,
From lips as like a cherry
And scarce less gracious eyes ;
Eyes browner than a berry,
Lips red as morning's rise.
But never yet rang laughter
So sweet in gladdened ears
Through wall and floor and rafter
As all this household hears
And rings response thereafter
Till cloudiest weather clears.
When those your chosen of all men,
Whose honey never cloys,
Two lights whose smiles enthrall men,
Were called at your age boys,
Those mighty men, while small men,
Could make no merrier noise.
Our Shakespeare, surely, daffed not
More lightly pain aside
From radiant lips that quaffed not
Of forethought's tragic tide :
Our Dickens, doubtless, laughed not
More loud with life's first pride.
The dawn were not more cheerless
With neither light nor dew
Than we without the fearless
Clear laugh that thrills us through :
If ever child stood peerless,
Love knows that child is you.
WHAT IS DEATH?
Looking on a page where stood
Graven of old on old-world wood
Death, and by the grave's edge grim,
Pale, the young man facing him,
Asked my well-beloved of me
Once what strange thing this might be,
Gaunt and great of limb.
Death, I told him : and, surprise
Deepening more his wildwood eyes
(Like some sweet fleet thing's whose breath
Speaks all spring though nought it saith),
Up he turned his rosebright face
Glorious with its seven years' grace,
Asking â€” What is death ?
A CHILD'S PITY.
No sweeter thing than children's ways and wiles,
Surely, we say, can gladden eyes and ears :
Yet sometime sweeter than their words or smiles
Are even their tears.
To one for once a piteous tale was read,
How, when the murderous mother crocodile
Was slain, her fierce brood famished, and lay dead.
Starved, by the Nile.
In vast green reed-beds on the vast grey slime
Those monsters motherless and helpless lay,
Perishing only for the parent's crime
Whose seed were they.
Hours after, toward the dusk, our blithe small bird
Of Paradise, who has our hearts in keeping,
Was heard or seen, but hardly seen or heard,
For pity weeping.
He was so sorry, sitting still apart,
For the poor little crocodiles, he said.
Six years had given him, for an angel's heart,
A child's instead.
A CHILD'S PITY. 263
Feigned tears the false beasts shed for murderous
We know from travellers' tales of crocodiles :
But these tears wept upon them of my friend's
Outshine his smiles.
What heavenliest angels of what heavenly city
Could match the heavenly heart in children here ?
The heart that hallowing all things with its pity
Casts out all fear ?
So lovely, so divine, so dear their laughter
Seems to us, we know not what could be more
But lovelier yet we see the sign thereafter
Of such a tear.
With sense of love half laughing and half weeping
We met your tears, our small sweet-spirited friend :
Let your love have us in its heavenly keeping
To life's last end.
A CHILD'S LAUGHTER.
All the bells of heaven may ring,
All the birds of heaven may sing,
All the wells on earth may spring,
All the winds on earth may bring
All sweet sounds together ;
Sweeter far than all things heard,
Hand of harper, tone of bird,
Sound of woods at sundawn stirred,
Welling water's winsome word,
Wind in warm wan weather,
One thing yet there is, that none
Hearing ere its chime be done
Knows not well the sweetest one
Heard of man beneath the sun,
Hoped in heaven hereafter ;
Soft and strong and loud and light,
Very sound of very light
Heard from morning's rosiest height,
When the soul of all delight
Fills a child's clear laughter.
A CHILD'S LAUGHTER. 265
Golden bells of welcome rolled
Never forth such notes, nor told
Hours so blithe in tones so bold,
As the radiant mouth of gold
Here that rings forth heaven.
If the golden-crested wren
Were a nightingale â€” why, then,
Something seen and heard of men
Might be half as sweet as when
Laughs a child of seven.
A CHILD'S THANKS.
How low soe'er men rank us,
How high soe'er we win,
The children far above us
Dwell, and they deign to love us,
With lovelier love than ours,
And smiles more sweet than flowers ;
As though the sun should thank us
For letting light come in.
With too divine complaisance,
Whose grace misleads them thus,
Being gods, in heavenly blindness
They call our worship kindness,
Our pebble-gift a gem :
They think us good to them,
Whose glance, whose breath, whose presence,
Are gifts too good for us.
The poet high and hoary
Of meres that mountains bind
Felt his great heart more often
Yearn, and its proud strength soften
A CHILD'S THANKS. 267
From stern to tenderer mood,
At thought of gratitude
Shown than of song or story
He heard of hearts unkind.
But with what words for token
And what adoring tears
Of reverence risen to passion,
In what glad prostrate fashion
Of spirit and soul subdued,
May man show gratitude
For thanks of children spoken
That hover in his ears ?
The angels laugh, your brothers,
Child, hearing you thank me,
With eyes whence night grows sunny,
And touch of lips like honey,
And words like honey-dew :
But how shall I thank you ?
For gifts above all others
What guerdon-gift may be ?
What wealth of words caressing,
What choice of songs found best,
Would seem not as derision,
Found vain beside the vision
And glory from above
Shown in a child's heart's love ?
His part in life is blessing ;
Ours, only to be blest.
A CHILD'S BATTLES.
7ru| aperav ciipdv. â€” PlNDAR.
Praise of the knights of old
May sleep : their tale is told,
And no man cares :
The praise which fires our lips is
A knight's whose fame eclipses
All of theirs.
The ruddiest light in heaven
Blazed as his birth-star seven
Long years ago :
All glory crown that old year
Which brought our stout small soldier
With the snow !
Each baby born has one
Star, for his friends a sun,
The first of stars :
And we, the more we scan it,
The more grow sure your planet,
Child, was Mars.
A CHILD'S BATTLES. 269
For each one flower, perchance,
Blooms as his cognizance :
The snowdrop chill,
The violet unbeholden,
For some : for you the golden
Erect, a fighting flower,
It breasts the breeziest hour
That ever blew,
And bent or broke things brittle
Or frail, unlike a little
Knight like you.
Its flower is firm and fresh
And stout like sturdiest flesh
Of children : all
The strenuous blast that parches
Spring hurts it not till March is
Near his fall.
If winds that prate and fret
Remark, rebuke, regret,
Lament, or blame
The brave plant's martial passion,
It keeps its own free fashion
All the same.
We that would fain seem wise
Assume grave mouths and eyes
Whose looks reprove
2 7 o A CHILD'S BATTLES.
Too much delight in battle :
But your great heart our prattle
We say, small children should
Be placid, mildly good
And blandly meek :
Whereat the broad smile rushes
Full on your lips, and flushes
All your cheek.
If all the stars that are
Laughed out, and every star
Could here be heard,
Such peals of golden laughter
We should not hear, as after
Such a word.
For all the storrri saith, still,
Stout stands the daffodil :
For all we say,
Howe'er he look demurely,
Our martialist will surely
Have his way.
We may not bind with bands
Those large and liberal hands,
Nor stay from fight,
Nor hold them back from giving
No lean mean laws of living
Bind a knight.
A CHILD'S BATTLES. 271
And always here of old
Such gentle hearts and bold
Our land has bred :
How durst her eye rest else on
The glory shed from Nelson
Quick and dead ?
Shame were it, if but one
Such once were born her son,
That one to have borne,
And brought him ne'er a brother :
His praise should bring his mother
Shame and scorn.
A child high-souled as he
Whose manhood shook the sea
Smiles haply here :
His face, where love lies basking,
With bright shut mouth seems asking,
What is fear ?
The sunshine-coloured fists