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POEMS



THESE are the many-coloured beads of life ;
Blame me not, gentle reader, if their hues
Should please thee little, for I did but choose
And thread them where I found them, by the strife
Of Time's great ocean cast upon the shore-
Stay thou with me awhile, and tell them o'er.



POEMS



BY DORA GREENWELL




ALEXANDER STRAHAN, PUBLISHER

56, LUDGATE HILL, LONDON
1867




SetitcatrU



TO THE MEMORY



OF



ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.



" If I despair of being like to thee,

I, for such likeness, give thee boundless love."

Schiller's "Don Carlos.



CONTENTS



PAGE

Christina, ...... i

God's Singer, . . ... . .20

A Story of Olden Time, ..... 33

Seeking, 49

The Kiss, ...... 54

When the Night and Morning meet, . . -57

The Soul's Parting, ..... 60

Reconciliation, ...... 63

Gone, ....... 66

Haunted Ground, ..... 69

Poets, 74

A Comparison, . . . . . -77

The Eternal Now, ..... 79

Consolation, . . . . . .81

Pencil-marks in a Book of Devotion, . . .87

Faint, yet Pursuing, ..... 89



CONTENTS.



PAGB

Entreat for Me, .... 9 1

A Vision of Green Leaves, . . . -93

To a Long-parted Friend, . . . -97

" So it Happens," ..... 99

The Picture and the Scroll, . . . 101

To a Young Girl, . .103

A Song of Memory, ... . 105

To Josephine, . . . . . 1 1 1

The Marriage of True Minds, . . . .112

Without and Within, . . . .121

Madana, ....... 126



VALENTINES AND SONGS.

Luisa, . -135

The Summer Friend, . . . . 137

" Qui sait Aimer, sait Mourir, " . . 139

The Broken Chain, . . .141

A Valentine, . . . . . J 43

A Valentine, ... H5

"IchDien," . 146

The Babes in the Wood, ... .148

Home, .... 151

The Summer Roses, . . . 152

Imitated from the Troubadour Sordel, . . .154

The Singer, . . . . . .156

To L, A. ., . . . . . 159

To Maria Ivanovna, . . . . .161

If it be Pleasant to Remember Thee, . . .163

I Span beside our Cabin Door, . . . .165



CONTENTS.



A Song, . . 167

Amid Change, Unchanging .... 168

One Flower, . . . . . .170

A Scherzo, . . . . . .172

Rapture, . . . . . . .174

A Song, . 1 75

The Bridge, . . . . -177

A Picture, . . . . . .179

The Song of the Troubadour Pierre Raymond de Toulouse, 181



SONNETS.

Ascending, . . . . . .187

Life Tapestry, 188

Love Birds, . . . . . .189

To a Remembered Stream, and a Never-Forgotten Friend, 191
To Elizabeth Barrett Browning in 1851, . . . 192

To Elizabeth Barrett Browning in 1 86 1, . . 193

A Midsummer Night's Dream, . . . .194

Reserve, ....... 195

Dreams, ....... 196

The Soul's Wooers, . . . . .197

Hope, ....... 198



To a Friend, ...... 199

To L. M., . . . . . . 20 1

To the Author of "Ziska," .... 203

Rest, ... 206



CONTENTS.



LIBER VERITATIS.

PART FIRST.

PAGE

To the Nineteenth Century, . . .211

To an Early Friend, . . . .213

Old Letters, .... .217

After Parting, ...... 230

In Absence, ...... 233

The First Letter, . . 235

Silence, ....... 237

In Illness, ... . 240

Divided, ...'.. . 244

Together, ... 250

To a Long-parted Friend, . . 253

To**, . . . 259

To a Distant Friend, ... . 266

To my Friends at , . . -271

Meeting, . -273

Parting, . .275

To a Departed Spirit, ..... 277



PART SECOND.

The Reconciler, ... 283

The Question, . . 294

Forsaken, ... . 298

The Lesson, ... 3

The Two Religions, ... .301

Love, . . - -303



CONTENTS.





PAGE


In Sadness, .....


305


The Summons, .....


- 307


Pax in Novissimo, . . . .


309


A Meditation, .....


316



LATER POEMS.

A Farewell to Youth, ..... 327
The White Crusade, . . . . -333

The Cleft, .336

The " Saturday Review," .... 340

A Dialogue, . . 345

A Song to call to Remembrance, . 351

A National Song, ..... 355

A Christmas Carol, ..... 358

Go and Come, ...... 361

A Song which none but the Redeemed can Sing, . 366




CHRISTINA.

TJ*ATHER, when I am in my grave, kind Father,
Take thou this cross, I had it from a girl,
Take it to one that I will tell thee of,
Unto Christina.

I may not part with it while I have life ;
I kept it by me, treasured it through years
Of evil, when I dared not look upon it ;
But of the love and reconciling mercy
Whereof it is a token, now it speaks.
Sore bitten by the fiery flying serpent,
Yet have I strength to raise my languid eyes,
And fix them on that Sign, for sin uplift
Within the wilderness, and there my gaze
B



CHRISTINA.



My straining gaze will fasten to the last,
Death-glazed upon it. Oh ! may then my soul
Be drawn up after it unperishing !

Thou knowest of my life, that I have been
Saved as by fire, a brand plucked from the burning ;
But not before the breath of flame had passed
On all my garments, not before my spirit
Shrunk up within it as a shrivelled scroll
Falls from the embers, black, yet unconsumed,
For One in Heaven still loved me, one on earth !

Father, I would speak to thee of Love ;

We learn the price of goodliest things through losing.

They who have sat in darkness bless the light,

And sweetest songs have risen to Liberty

From souls once bound in misery and iron ;

So, Father, I would speak to thee of Love.

Fain are my lips, and fain my heart to sing

The glad new song that both have learned so late.

Once, ere my soul had burst the fowler's snare,

1 heard a wild stern man, that stood and cried
Within the market-place ; a man by love

Of souls sent forth among the lanes and highways,
To seek, and haply save, some wandering one



CHRISTINA.



Long strayed, like mine, from flock, and fold, and

pastor.

His words were bold and vehement ; as one
Set among flints, that strove to strike a spark
From out dull, hardened natures, then he used
The terrors of the Lord in his persuading ;
Death, Judgment, and their fearful after-looking,
Grew darker at his words : " How long," he said,
" O simple ones, will ye be fain to follow
Hard service and hard wages, Sin and Death 1
Now, the world comes betwixt your souls and God ;
Here, you can do without Him and be happy ;
He speaks to you by love, ye put Him by ;
But He will speak to you by wrath, and then
Vain will it be to shun Him, to forget,
In the next world ye may not do without Him :
Seek God, run after Him, for ye must die/"
Oh ! then, I thought, if one like me might speak,
If I might find a voice, now would I raise
A yet more bitter and exceeding cry,
" Seek God, run after Him, for ye must LIVE !
I know not what it may be in that world,
The future world, the wide unknown hereafter,
That waits for us, to be afar from God ;



CHRISTINA.



Yet can I witness of a desolation
That I have known ; can witness of a place
Where spirits wander up and down in torment,
And tell you what it is to want Him here"'

I had no friends, no parents ; I was poor
In all but beauty, and an innocence
That was not virtue failing in the trial.
Mine is a common tale, and all the sadder
Because it is so common : I was sought
By one that wore me for a time, then flung
Me off, a rose with all its sweetness gone,
Yet with enough of bloom to flaunt awhile,
Although the worm was busy at its core.
So I lived on in splendour, lived through years
Of scorning, till my brow grew hard to meet it ;
Though all the while, behind that brazen shield,
My spirit shrank before each hurtling arrow
That sang and whistled past me in the air.
On every wall methought I saw a Hand
Write evil things and bitter ; yea, the stones
Took up a taunting parable against me.
I looked unto the right hand and the left,
But not for help, for there was none would know me.



CHRISTINA.



I knew that no man cared for my soul ;

Yet One in heaven still loved me, one on earth !

But being then unto myself so hateful,

I deemed that all did hate me, hating all ;

Yet one there was I hated not, but envied,

A sad, despairing envy, having this

Of virtue, that it did not seek to soil

The whiteness that it gazed upon, and pined.

For I had loved Christina ! we had been

Playmates in innocent childhood ; girlish friends,

With hearts that, like the summer's half-oped buds,

Grew close, and hived their sweetness for each other.

She was not fair like me unto the eye,

But to the heart, that showed her by its light

Most lovely in the loveliness of love.

I parted from her on Life's cross-road, where

I parted from all good ; yet even then,

Had prayers and tears prevailed, we had not parted.

Long after me I heard her kind voice calling,

" Return ! " yet I went on ; our paths struck wide,

As were the issues that they led to; then

She lost me, but I never lost her: still

Across the world-wide gulf betwixt us set

My soul stretched out a bridge, a slender hair,



CHRISTINA.



Whereon repassing swiftly to and fro,

It linked itself unseen with all her lot,

Oft seeking for a moment but to lose

The bitter consciousness of self, to be

Aught other e'en in thought than that I was.

I took a portion of her innocent life

Within myself ; I watched her in her ways,

Unseen I looked upon her in her home,

Her humble home. Yes ; I that once had scorned

At lowly poverty and honest love,

I know not if it were its joys or sorrows

I envied most ! Her tears were like the dew

That lies all night upon the fruitful field

That Heaven hath blessed, and rises there again.

/ was like blasted corn shrunk up and mildewed,

Like sere, dry grass upon the housetops growing,

Whereof the mower nlleth not his arms,

Nor he that bindeth up his sheaves his bosom.

Earth, earth meth ought and Heaven alike refused me :

None gave me the kind wish, the holy word.

I had no joys, no griefs ; yet had I joyed,

Then none had said, " God bless thee ! " had I

grieved,
Then none that passed had said, "God pity thee !"



CHRISTINA.



I said, Christina wept. Within her home
There was one only little one, a girl :
Oft had I marked her playing in the sunshine,
Oft by the hearth-light on her father's knee
I watched her (little did Christina think
Who stood without) ; but she was taken from her,
This child of many prayers and hopes : I saw
The little bier borne forth ; this tender flower
That Love had nursed so warm, yet could not keep,
Did seem to leave a blank where it had been.
Christina wept, but yet as one whose tears
Rained inward on her heart, whence rising oft
They filled her eyes, but did not overflow them :
For still she moved about the house, serene,
And when her husband sought his home at eve
She met him now, as ever, with a smile,
So sweet, I know not if he missed its joy.
But oft I tracked her thoughts unto a field,
Quiet, yet populous as the city round it,
Thick sown with graves ; yet there the mother's heart
Had marked a place, and there her constant feet
Had worn a path. At early morn, I knew
Oft went she by the grave to weep unseen,
So oft at nightfall there I scattered flowers,



CHRISTINA.



The fairest and the sweetest I could find.

I thought She will not know whose hand hath strewed

them,

So wonder and a loving guess may cheat
Her mind, a moment taking it from grief.

I stood beside that grave one summer night ;

The skies were moonless, yet their dusk serene

Was grateful to my spirit, for it seemed

To wrap me from the world, myself, and heaven ;

And all the air was soft and cool, methought

It kissed my cheek as if it were a child

That loved me, sinless, shrinking not from sin.

Old legends say, that when the faithful join

On holy Sabbaths with one fervent voice,

Then doth prevailing prayer hold back awhile

The edge of torment, and the lost have rest.

So then, perchance, some gracious spirit wept,

And prayed for sinners, for the voices died,

The wailing ones, the mocking, at my heart ;

And through the hush came up a wish, a yearning

I know not where it took me not to heaven,

Yet, had I ever prayed, it had been then ;

I sought not death, for that were but a change



CHRISTINA.



Of being, and a passage to a world

Where thought would after me to hunt and vex

But to cease utterly to be, to find

A place among the rocks, among the stones,

With things that live not, that would never live,

To pass absorbed, and be at rest for ever.

So stood I, holding in that trance the flowers,

A wreath of white Immortelles, that as yet

I hung not on the gravestone, when I heard

A sudden step, and was aware that one

Had come upon me in the gloom ; I felt

A grasp upon my arm, detaining kindly,

A hand that sought to fold itself in mine :

Before she spoke, I knew it was Christina.

" And who art thou, with charitable hand

Such kindness showing to the dead, the living ?

Now let me look upon thy face, for long

My soul hath deemed of thee as of the angels

That come and go unseen, and only traced

By deeds that show some gracious Presence near ;

Yet, surely thou art one whom earth had taught,

Through sorrow and through love, this gentleness

With grieving hearts, with stricken ones ; from mine

The blessing of the sorrowful be on thee !"



CHRISTINA.



But at her words a madness took my soul ;

They seemed to mock me ; falling one by one

Like gracious drops upon my heart, they smote

Its stagnant waters, stirring there no spring

Of life or wholesomeness : yet were they stirred.

Now would I speak with her, the fire was kindled ;

Long had it smouldered, long enough consumed me.

Now by its flashes she shall read my soul,

Methought, and look upon me as I am ;

So, with a gesture of the hand, I led

Christina, following on my rapid steps

Like an unquestioning child, as if my will

Had power to draw her, till within the door

Of the great Minster passing, in the aisle's

Dim light we stood, together and alone.

Oft had I shunned Christina ; now beneath
A steadfast lamp that burned before a shrine,
Confronting her, I said, " Now look on me ;
Where is the blessing that thou spakest of?"
But to my words she answered not ; methought
She did not catch their import so her gaze
Was fastened on me then her very soul
Gave way in tears ; she took me in her arms,



CHRISTINA.



Me, wretched one, that never thought to feel,
In this, or in the after world, again
Such pure embrace around me ; to her heart,
That heaved as if it could not hold a joy
Made out of such an anguish, close she pressed me,
And, sobbing, murm'ring to herself or heaven,
In language half articulate, the words
Came broken : " I have found thee ! I have found
thee !"

" What hast thou found, Christina?" then I said,

And with the words unto my lips arose

A laugh of bitterness, whose mocking tones

Through all the dreary hollow of my heart

Woke up the echoes of its desolation ;

" What hast thou found ? Speak not to me of her

Whose name perchance thy lips are framing now,

The Magdalene ; my life hath been as hers

But not my heart, for she loved much for this

The more forgiveness meeting ; I love none !"

But then Christina pointed to the flowers

Still hanging on my arm; " Thou lovest none !"

And gently laid upon my mouth her hand,

A soft restraining curb that now my speech,



12 CHRISTINA.



Like an ungovernable steed sore stung
And goaded into frenzy, spurned aside,
And sprang the wilder ; " None, not even thee !"
I cried ; but then the whiteness of her face
Smote on my spirit, taming scorn to sadness.
" Why should I vex thee with my words ? of love
I know but as I know of God, of good,
Of hope, of heaven, of all things counted holy,
Know only by their names, for nought in me
Gives witness to their natures ; so, to speak
Of them is but to take their names in vain.
Oft hast thou told me how souls hang on God
Like leaves upon a gracious bough, that draw
Their juices from its fulness ; long ago
Mine fell from off that Tree of Life, thereon
Retaining not its hold ; a withered leaf
It lies, and bears the lightning's brand upon it"
" Yea, truly," said Christina, " it may bear
The spoiler's mark upon it, yet, like his *
Of whom the Scriptures tell us, may thy soul
(A watcher and an Holy One befriending)
Have yet a root within the earth ; though bound
About with brass and iron, still the dews
* Daniel iv.



TJNlVv



CHRISTINA. 13



Lie on it, and the tender grass around

Is wet with tears from heaven ; so may it spring

Once more to greenness and to life, for all

The years it felt the pressure of the band

So close and grievous round it." But I cried,

" There is no root ! a leaf, a withered leaf,

Long tossed upon the wind, and under foot

Of men long trodden in the streets and trampled,

God will not gather it within His bosom ! "

" And who art thou that answerest for God ?

Now from this mouth of thine will I condemn thee ;

For, saying that thou knowest nought of love,

How canst thou judge of Him whose name it is ?"

But here she clasped her fervent hands, and all

The sternness melted from her : " Look on me,

A sinner such as thou, yet I have loved thee ;

Remembering thee above my mirth, how oft

Beside the cheerful board that Heaven had blessed,

I ate my bread in heaviness ; and then,

Had I known where to seek thee, had risen up

And left my food untasted, till I brought

Thee in to share it ; to my lips thy name

Rose never, so I feared some bitter word

Might chide it back within my wounded heart,



I 4 CHRISTINA.



That shut it in from blame ; but then my prayers
Grew dearer to me, for the thought that here.
In this pure Presence only, could I meet thee ;
Here only to the Merciful could name thee,
Could love thee, plead for thee without rebuke.
Yes ! even in my sleep my quest went on ;
Through dreams I ever tracked thee, following hard
Upon thy steps, pursuing thee, and still
Before I reached thee (thus it is in dreams)
Came somewhat sundering us, and I awoke
With tearful eyes, and on my lips half-framed
Some loving word, recalling so the past,
I thought thou couldst not turn from it away.
Yes ! I have loved thee, I, a poor weak woman,
One like to thee, yet holding in my heart,
That else were dry and barren to all good,
One drop of love from out of God's great ocean.
And thinkest thou that we can love each other
As He loves us, as He that made us loves us ?
And sayest thou, ' I am cast out from God '?
No ! He hath loved thee from everlasting,
Therefore with loving-kindness will He draw thee.
Oft doth He chide, yet earnestly remember,
Long waiting to be gracious : come, poor child,



CHRISTINA.



Thy brethren scorn thee, come unto thy Father !

Away from Him, in that far country dwelling,

Long hast thou fed upon the husks, too long

Hast hungered sore, while no man gave unto thee ;

But there, within thy Father's house, is Bread

Enough and still to spare, and no upbraiding.

My little Child, my Innocent, that scarce

Had left His arms, nor angered Him, nor grieved,

Was not so welcome back to them as thou :

Even now, a great way off, even now He sees

thee,

And comes to meet thee rise and go to Him !
The home is distant, but the way is nigh.
Oh, Thou who, dying, madest us a way,
Who, living, for us keepest ever open
That access to the Father, look on us ! "
So speaking solemn, looking up to heaven,
She knelt down where we stood ; upon my knees
Beside her drew me ; holding both my hands
Firm folded 'twixt her own, she lifted them
Towards the Mercy-seat ; within her arms
She held me, still supporting me ; it seemed
As then the very fountains of her soul
Were broken up within her ; so she wept,



l6 CHRISTINA.



So pleaded : " Jesu, Lamb of God, O Thou,

The Father's righteous Son, that takest all

The sin of earth away, have mercy on us !"

But I was passive in her arms, I knew

She wrestled sorely for me ; yet as one

That feels in heavy dreams a strife go on,

And may not stir a finger, by the chain

Of slumber compassed ; so my torpid soul

Slept numb, yet conscious, till within my heart,

That had no movement of its own, but rose

Upon Christina's heart that heaved beneath it,

At length this miracle of love was wrought :

Her spirit lay on mine, as once of old

The Prophet on the little clay-cold child

Outstretched, through warmth compelling warmth

again,

And o'er the chaos of the void within
A breath moved lightly, and my soul stretched out
Its feelers darkly, as a broken vine
Puts forth its bruised tendrils to the sun :
A mighty yearning took me, and a sigh
Burst from my bosom, cleaving for my soul
A way to follow it, and in that hour
Methought I could have died, and known no pain



CHRISTINA.



In parting from the body ; then I cried,

" Oh, turn Thou me, and so I shall be turned !"

When we arose up from our knees, her face
Was calm and happy, then she kissed me, saying,
" I call thee not my Sister, as of old,
But come with me unto my home, and there
Be thou unto me even as a Daughter,
In place of her God gave and took again,
So hath He given thee to me." Thus she spoke,
And drew me on constraining ; but my soul
Held other counsel, minded in itself
That I would look upon her face no more,
Though all my soul clave unto her ; as he
From whom our Lord drave out the vexing demon,
Had followed fain upon His steps for ever,
So had I tarried by her well content ;
And yet I answered her, " Entreat me not ;
This may not be : yet fear not thou for me ;
I go upon my way, that crosses thine
Perchance no more j so give me counsel now
Upon my journey, for, as thou hast said,
The home I seek is far away, the road
Is strait and narrow, hard for erring feet
c



1-8 CHRISTINA.



Like mine to walk in." Then Christina said,
" I can but give thee counsel in the words
Of Him our Master, ' Go and sin no more !'
Keep in the Way, and as thou goest, there
A Blessing will o'ertake thee ; thou shalt meet
With One to pour within thy wounds the wine
And oil of consolation ; He will set thee
On His own steed, and bring thee to an inn
Where thou mayst tarry till He comes again ;
Yea ! all thou spendest more He will account for,
For thou wert purchased and redeemed of old :
Now must I leave thee, for the night wears on."
But still I held her closer, " Not before
I too have blessed thee, even I, Christina ;
May now the blessing of a soul well-nigh
To perishing be on thee ! may thy love
Be poured, a thousandfold by God requited,
Within thy bosom." Then Christina turned
Once more beneath the lamp, and smiled farewell,
Smiled as if then the sweetness of her soul
Rose to her very lips and overflowed them,
But spoke not : passing swiftly through the porch,
The darkness took her from me.



CHRISTINA. 19



That same night

I left the guilty city far behind me ;
Thou knowest, Father, of my life since then.
Here have I found the place Christina spoke of,
A goodly inn, where they have cared for me,
These gracious souls, who loving so their Lord,
And covetous for Him, upon the coin
Long-lost, defaced, and soiled, could trace His image
And read His superscription, half outworn.
Soon must I leave it for a surer refuge.
I sent Christina long ago a token,
To tell her it was well with me, and now
Fain would I send this other one, a sign
From Him that loved me in the heavens, to her
That loved so true on earth. When I am gone,
Kind Father, to my rest, take thou this cross,
Take it to her that I have told thee of
Unto Christina.



1851.



GOD'S SINGER.

T T E bore a harp within his hand,

And on his breast outspread
The flower, that from the dawn to dusk,

For love of one o'erhead,
Still follows on a look, till all

Its golden leaves are shed :
Ye had not called him grave or gay,

For old nor yet for young
Ye had not known him ; so he seemed

To be them all in one ;
And only in his smile ye knew

The Singer ere he sung.

" A Name, a Name is in my heart,
It bideth, hidden long,



GOD'S SINGER.



Because my hand hath not a chord

That would not do it wrong ;
So pure is it, so sweet, unmeet

For rounding of a song,
Yet in the cleft, its honey left

Hath made my spirit strong.

" A thought, a thought is in my heart

Though seldom on the string ;
I keep it, round all other thoughts

Its sweetnesses to fling :
Yea ! were it not within my soul,

Methinks I could not sing,
Nor ever raise my voice in praise

Of any other thing."

So sang he sweet, so sang he clear, and lift his look

above,
They said that listened, " Now he thinks of her, his

ladye love ;"
But through the wood, where in the calm of summer's

noon hung still
And motionless each little leaf, there ran a sudden

thrill



22 GOD'S SINGER.



He stood within a Castle's keep,

A Castle that could wear,
Stern looming o'er its rocky steep,

As dark a frown as Care.
Yet now it smiled, as one beguiled

Of ruggedness through sleep,
So sweet a sunshine on from tower

To tower did flash and leap,


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