Jean Ingelow.

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POEMS

BY

JEAN INGELOW

_IN TWO VOLUMES_




VOL. I.




BOSTON

ROBERTS BROTHERS

1896


AUTHOR'S COMPLETE EDITION




_DEDICATION_


TO

GEORGE KILGOUR INGELOW


YOUR LOVING SISTER

OFFERS YOU THESE POEMS, PARTLY AS

AN EXPRESSION OF HER AFFECTION, PARTLY FOR THE

PLEASURE OF CONNECTING HER EFFORTS

WITH YOUR NAME



KENSINGTON: _June_, 1863




CONTENTS OF VOL. I.


DIVIDED
HONORS. - PART I.
HONORS. - PART II.
REQUIESCAT IN PACE
SUPPER AT THE MILL
SCHOLAR AND CARPENTER
THE STAR'S MONUMENT
A DEAD YEAR
REFLECTIONS
THE LETTER L
THE HIGH TIDE ON THE COAST OF LINCOLNSHIRE (1571)
AFTERNOON AT A PARSONAGE
SONGS OF SEVEN
A COTTAGE IN A CHINE
PERSEPHONE
A SEA SONG
BROTHERS, AND A SERMON
A WEDDING SONG
THE FOUR BRIDGES
A MOTHER SHOWING THE PORTRAIT OF HER CHILD
STRIFE AND PEACE

THE DREAMS THAT CAME TRUE

SONGS ON THE VOICES OF BIRDS.
INTRODUCTION. - CHILD AND BOATMAN
THE NIGHTINGALE HEARD BY THE UNSATISFIED HEART
SAND MARTINS
A POET IN HIS YOUTH AND THE CUCKOO-BIRD
A RAVEN IN A WHITE CHINE
THE WARBLING OF BLACKBIRDS
SEA-MEWS IN WINTER-TIME

LAURANCE

SONGS OF THE NIGHT WATCHES.
INTRODUCTORY. - EVENING
THE FIRST WATCH. - TIRED
THE MIDDLE WATCH
THE MORNING WATCH
CONCLUDING. - EARLY DAWN

CONTRASTED SONGS.
SAILING BEYOND SEAS
REMONSTRANCE
SONG FOR THE NIGHT OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION
SONG OF MARGARET
SONG OF THE GOING AWAY
A LILY AND A LUTE

GLADYS AND HER ISLAND

SONGS WITH PRELUDES.
WEDLOCK
REGRET
LAMENTATION
DOMINION
FRIENDSHIP

WINSTANLEY




DIVIDED.


I.

An empty sky, a world of heather,
Purple of foxglove, yellow of broom;
We two among them wading together,
Shaking out honey, treading perfume.

Crowds of bees are giddy with clover,
Crowds of grasshoppers skip at our feet,
Crowds of larks at their matins hang over,
Thanking the Lord for a life so sweet.

Flusheth the rise with her purple favor,
Gloweth the cleft with her golden ring,
'Twixt the two brown butterflies waver,
Lightly settle, and sleepily swing.

We two walk till the purple dieth
And short dry grass under foot is brown.
But one little streak at a distance lieth
Green like a ribbon to prank the down.


II.

Over the grass we stepped unto it,
And God He knoweth how blithe we were!
Never a voice to bid us eschew it:
Hey the green ribbon that showed so fair!

Hey the green ribbon! we kneeled beside it,
We parted the grasses dewy and sheen;
Drop over drop there filtered and slided
A tiny bright beck that trickled between.

Tinkle, tinkle, sweetly it sang to us,
Light was our talk as of faëry bells -
Faëry wedding-bells faintly rung to us
Down in their fortunate parallels.

Hand in hand, while the sun peered over,
We lapped the grass on that youngling spring;
Swept back its rushes, smoothed its clover,
And said, "Let us follow it westering."


III.

A dappled sky, a world of meadows,
Circling above us the black rooks fly
Forward, backward; lo, their dark shadows
Flit on the blossoming tapestry -

Flit on the beck, for her long grass parteth
As hair from a maid's bright eyes blown back;
And, lo, the sun like a lover darteth
His flattering smile on her wayward track.

Sing on! we sing in the glorious weather
Till one steps over the tiny strand,
So narrow, in sooth, that still together
On either brink we go hand in hand.

The beck grows wider, the hands must sever.
On either margin, our songs all done,
We move apart, while she singeth ever,
Taking the course of the stooping sun.

He prays, "Come over" - I may not follow;
I cry, "Return" - but he cannot come:
We speak, we laugh, but with voices hollow;
Our hands are hanging, our hearts are numb.


IV.

A breathing sigh, a sigh for answer,
A little talking of outward things
The careless beck is a merry dancer,
Keeping sweet time to the air she sings.

A little pain when the beck grows wider;
"Cross to me now - for her wavelets swell."
"I may not cross," - and the voice beside her
Faintly reacheth, though heeded well.

No backward path; ah! no returning;
No second crossing that ripple's flow:
"Come to me now, for the west is burning;
Come ere it darkens;" - "Ah, no! ah, no!"

Then cries of pain, and arms outreaching -
The beck grows wider and swift and deep:
Passionate words as of one beseeching -
The loud beck drowns them; we walk, and weep.


V.

A yellow moon in splendor drooping,
A tired queen with her state oppressed,
Low by rushes and swordgrass stooping,
Lies she soft on the waves at rest.

The desert heavens have felt her sadness;
Her earth will weep her some dewy tears;
The wild beck ends her tune of gladness,
And goeth stilly as soul that fears.

We two walk on in our grassy places
On either marge of the moonlit flood,
With the moon's own sadness in our faces,
Where joy is withered, blossom and bud.


VI.

A shady freshness, chafers whirring,
A little piping of leaf-hid birds;
A flutter of wings, a fitful stirring,
A cloud to the eastward snowy as curds.

Bare grassy slopes, where kids are tethered
Round valleys like nests all ferny-lined;
Round hills, with fluttering tree-tops feathered,
Swell high in their freckled robes behind.

A rose-flush tender, a thrill, a quiver,
When golden gleams to the tree-tops glide;
A flashing edge for the milk-white river,
The beck, a river - with still sleek tide.

Broad and white, and polished as silver,
On she goes under fruit-laden trees;
Sunk in leafage cooeth the culver,
And 'plaineth of love's disloyalties.

Glitters the dew and shines the river,
Up comes the lily and dries her bell;
But two are walking apart forever,
And wave their hands for a mute farewell.


VII.

A braver swell, a swifter sliding;
The river hasteth, her banks recede:
Wing-like sails on her bosom gliding
Bear down the lily and drown the reed.

Stately prows are rising and bowing
(Shouts of mariners winnow the air),
And level sands for banks endowing
The tiny green ribbon that showed so fair.

While, O my heart! as white sails shiver,
And crowds are passing, and banks stretch wide
How hard to follow, with lips that quiver,
That moving speck on the far-off side!

Farther, farther - I see it - know it -
My eyes brim over, it melts away:
Only my heart to my heart shall show it
As I walk desolate day by day.


VII.

And yet I know past all doubting, truly -
A knowledge greater than grief can dim -
I know, as he loved, he will love me duly -
Yea better - e'en better than I love him.

And as I walk by the vast calm river,
The awful river so dread to see,
I say, "Thy breadth and thy depth forever
Are bridged by his thoughts that cross to me."




HONORS. - PART I.

(_A Scholar is musing on his want of success._)


To strive - and fail. Yes, I did strive and fail;
I set mine eyes upon a certain night
To find a certain star - and could not hail
With them its deep-set light.

Fool that I was! I will rehearse my fault:
I, wingless, thought myself on high to lift
Among the winged - I set these feet that halt
To run against the swift.

And yet this man, that loved me so, can write -
That loves me, I would say, can let me see;
Or fain would have me think he counts but light
These Honors lost to me.

(_The letter of his friend._)
"What are they? that old house of yours which gave
Such welcome oft to me, the sunbeams fall
Yet, down the squares of blue and white which pave
Its hospitable hall.

"A brave old house! a garden full of bees,
Large dropping poppies, and Queen hollyhocks,
With butterflies for crowns - tree peonies
And pinks and goldilocks.

"Go, when the shadow of your house is long
Upon the garden - when some new-waked bird.
Pecking and fluttering, chirps a sudden song,
And not a leaf is stirred;

"But every one drops dew from either edge
Upon its fellow, while an amber ray
Slants up among the tree-tops like a wedge
Of liquid gold - to play

"Over and under them, and so to fall
Upon that lane of water lying below -
That piece of sky let in, that you do call
A pond, but which I know

"To be a deep and wondrous world; for I
Have seen the trees within it - marvellous things
So thick no bird betwixt their leaves could fly
But she would smite her wings; -

"Go there, I say; stand at the water's brink,
And shoals of spotted barbel you shall see
Basking between the shadows - look, and think
'This beauty is for me;

"'For me this freshness in the morning hours,
For me the water's clear tranquillity;
For me the soft descent of chestnut flowers;
The cushat's cry for me.

"'The lovely laughter of the wind-swayed wheat
The easy slope of yonder pastoral hill;
The sedgy brook whereby the red kine meet
And wade and drink their fill.'

"Then saunter down that terrace whence the sea
All fair with wing-like sails you may discern;
Be glad, and say 'This beauty is for me -
A thing to love and learn.

"'For me the bounding in of tides; for me
The laying bare of sands when they retreat;
The purple flush of calms, the sparkling glee
When waves and sunshine meet.'

"So, after gazing, homeward turn, and mount
To that long chamber in the roof; there tell
Your heart the laid-up lore it holds to count
And prize and ponder well.

"The lookings onward of the race before
It had a past to make it look behind;
Its reverent wonder, and its doubting sore,
Its adoration blind.

"The thunder of its war-songs, and the glow
Of chants to freedom by the old world sung;
The sweet love cadences that long ago
Dropped from the old-world tongue.

"And then this new-world lore that takes account
Of tangled star-dust; maps the triple whirl
Of blue and red and argent worlds that mount
And greet the IRISH EARL;

"Or float across the tube that HERSCHEL sways,
Like pale-rose chaplets, or like sapphire mist;
Or hang or droop along the heavenly ways,
Like scarves of amethyst.

"O strange it is and wide the new-world lore,
For next it treateth of our native dust!
Must dig out buried monsters, and explore
The green earth's fruitful crust;

"Must write the story of her seething youth -
How lizards paddled in her lukewarm seas;
Must show the cones she ripened, and forsooth
Count seasons on her trees;

"Must know her weight, and pry into her age,
Count her old beach lines by their tidal swell;
Her sunken mountains name, her craters gauge,
Her cold volcanoes tell;

"And treat her as a ball, that one might pass
From this hand to the other - such a ball
As he could measure with a blade of grass,
And say it was but small!

"Honors! O friend, I pray you bear with me:
The grass hath time to grow in meadow lands,
And leisurely the opal murmuring sea
Breaks on her yellow sands;

"And leisurely the ring-dove on her nest
Broods till her tender chick will peck the shell
And leisurely down fall from ferny crest
The dew-drops on the well;

"And leisurely your life and spirit grew,
With yet the time to grow and ripen free:
No judgment past withdraws that boon from you,
Nor granteth it to me.

"Still must I plod, and still in cities moil;
From precious leisure, learned leisure far,
Dull my best self with handling common soil;
Yet mine those honors are.

"Mine they are called; they are a name which means,
'This man had steady pulses, tranquil nerves:
Here, as in other fields, the most he gleans
Who works and never swerves.

"We measure not his mind; we cannot tell
What lieth under, over, or beside
The test we put him to; he doth excel,
We know, where he is tried;

"But, if he boast some farther excellence -
Mind to create as well as to attain;
To sway his peers by golden eloquence,
As wind doth shift a fane;

"'To sing among the poets - we are nought:
We cannot drop a line into that sea
And read its fathoms off, nor gauge a thought,
Nor map a simile.

"'It may be of all voices sublunar
The only one he echoes we did try;
We may have come upon the only star
That twinkles in his sky,'

"And so it was with me."
O false my friend!
False, false, a random charge, a blame undue;
Wrest not fair reasoning to a crooked end:
False, false, as you are true!

But I read on: "And so it was with me;
Your golden constellations lying apart
They neither hailed nor greeted heartily,
Nor noted on their chart.

"And yet to you and not to me belong
Those finer instincts that, like second sight
And hearing, catch creation's undersong,
And see by inner light.

"You are a well, whereon I, gazing, see
Reflections of the upper heavens - a well
From whence come deep, deep echoes up to me -
Some underwave's low swell.

"I cannot soar into the heights you show,
Nor dive among the deeps that you reveal;
But it is much that high things ARE to know,
That deep things ARE to feel.

"'Tis yours, not mine, to pluck out of your breast
Some human truth, whose workings recondite
Were unattired in words, and manifest
And hold it forth to light

"And cry, 'Behold this thing that I have found,'
And though they knew not of it till that day,
Nor should have done with no man to expound
Its meaning, yet they say,

"'We do accept it: lower than the shoals
We skim, this diver went, nor did create,
But find it for us deeper in our souls
Than we can penetrate.'

"You were to me the world's interpreter,
The man that taught me Nature's unknown tongue,
And to the notes of her wild dulcimer
First set sweet words, and sung.

"And what am I to you? A steady hand
To hold, a steadfast heart to trust withal;
Merely a man that loves you, and will stand
By you, whatever befall.

"But need we praise his tendance tutelar
Who feeds a flame that warms him? Yet 'tis true
I love you for the sake of what you are,
And not of what you do: -

"As heaven's high twins, whereof in Tyrian blue
The one revolveth: through his course immense
Might love his fellow of the damask hue,
For like, and difference.

"For different pathways evermore decreed
To intersect, but not to interfere;
For common goal, two aspects, and one speed,
One centre and one year;

"For deep affinities, for drawings strong,
That by their nature each must needs exert;
For loved alliance, and for union long,
That stands before desert.

"And yet desert makes brighter not the less,
For nearest his own star he shall not fail
To think those rays unmatched for nobleness,
That distance counts but pale.

"Be pale afar, since still to me you shine,
And must while Nature's eldest law shall hold;" -
Ah, there's the thought which makes his random line
Dear as refinèd gold!

Then shall I drink this draft of oxymel,
Part sweet, part sharp? Myself o'erprized to know
Is sharp; the cause is sweet, and truth to tell
Few would that cause forego,

Which is, that this of all the men on earth
Doth love me well enough to count me great -
To think my soul and his of equal girth -
O liberal estimate!

And yet it is so; he is bound to me,
For human love makes aliens near of kin;
By it I rise, there is equality:
I rise to thee, my twin.

"Take courage" - courage! ay, my purple peer
I will take courage; for thy Tyrian rays
Refresh me to the heart, and strangely dear
And healing is thy praise.

"Take courage," quoth he, "and respect the mind
Your Maker gave, for good your fate fulfil;
The fate round many hearts your own to wind."
Twin soul, I will! I will!

[Illustration]




HONORS. - PART II.

(_The Answer._)


As one who, journeying, checks the rein in haste
Because a chasm doth yawn across his way
Too wide for leaping, and too steeply faced
For climber to essay -

As such an one, being brought to sudden stand,
Doubts all his foregone path if 'twere the true,
And turns to this and then to the other hand
As knowing not what to do, -

So I, being checked, am with my path at strife
Which led to such a chasm, and there doth end.
False path! it cost me priceless years of life,
My well-beloved friend.

There fell a flute when Ganymede went up -
The flute that he was wont to play upon:
It dropped beside the jonquil's milk-white cup,
And freckled cowslips wan -

Dropped from his heedless hand when, dazed and mute,
He sailed upon the eagle's quivering wing,
Aspiring, panting - aye, it dropped - the flute
Erewhile a cherished thing.

Among the delicate grasses and the bells
Of crocuses that spotted a rill side,
I picked up such a flute, and its clear swells
To my young lips replied.

I played thereon, and its response was sweet;
But lo, they took from me that solacing reed.
"O shame!" they said; "such music is not meet;
Go up like Ganymede.

"Go up, despise these humble grassy things,
Sit on the golden edge of yonder cloud."
Alas! though ne'er for me those eagle wings
Stooped from their eyry proud.

My flute! and flung away its echoes sleep;
But as for me, my life-pulse beateth low;
And like a last-year's leaf enshrouded deep
Under the drifting snow,

Or like some vessel wrecked upon the sand
Of torrid swamps, with all her merchandise,
And left to rot betwixt the sea and land,
My helpless spirit lies.

Rueing, I think for what then was I made;
What end appointed for - what use designed?
Now let me right this heart that was bewrayed -
Unveil these eyes gone blind.

My well-beloved friend, at noon to-day
Over our cliffs a white mist lay unfurled,
So thick, one standing on their brink might say,
Lo, here doth end the world.

A white abyss beneath, and nought beside;
Yet, hark! a cropping sound not ten feet down:
Soon I could trace some browsing lambs that hied
Through rock-paths cleft and brown.

And here and there green tufts of grass peered through,
Salt lavender, and sea thrift; then behold
The mist, subsiding ever, bared to view
A beast of giant mould.

She seemed a great sea-monster lying content
With all her cubs about her: but deep - deep -
The subtle mist went floating; its descent
Showed the world's end was steep.

It shook, it melted, shaking more, till, lo,
The sprawling monster was a rock; her brood
Were boulders, whereon sea-mews white as snow
Sat watching for their food.

Then once again it sank, its day was done:
Part rolled away, part vanished utterly,
And glimmering softly under the white sun,
Behold! a great white sea.

O that the mist which veileth my To-come
Would so dissolve and yield unto mine eyes
A worthy path! I'd count not wearisome
Long toil, nor enterprise,

But strain to reach it; ay, with wrestlings stout
And hopes that even in the dark will grow
(Like plants in dungeons, reaching feelers out),
And ploddings wary and slow.

Is there such path already made to fit
The measure of my foot? It shall atone
For much, if I at length may light on it
And know it for mine own.

But is there none? why, then, 'tis more than well:
And glad at heart myself will hew one out,
Let me he only sure; for, sooth to tell,
The sorest dole is doubt -

Doubt, a blank twilight of the heart, which mars
All sweetest colors in its dimness same;
A soul-mist, through whose rifts familiar stare
Beholding, we misname.

A ripple on the inner sea, which shakes
Those images that on its breast reposed;
A fold upon a wind-swayed flag, that breaks
The motto it disclosed.

O doubt! O doubt! I know my destiny;
I feel thee fluttering bird-like in my breast;
I cannot loose, but I will sing to thee,
And flatter thee to rest.

There is no certainty, "my bosom's guest,"
No proving for the things whereof ye wot;
For, like the dead to sight unmanifest,
They are, and they are not.

But surely as they are, for God is truth,
And as they are not, for we saw them die,
So surely from the heaven drops light for youth,
If youth will walk thereby.

And can I see this light? It may be so;
"But see it thus and thus," my fathers said.
The living do not rule this world; ah no!
It is the dead, the dead.

Shall I be slave to every noble soul,
Study the dead, and to their spirits bend;
Or learn to read my own heart's folded scroll,
And make self-rule my end?

Thought from _without_ - O shall I take on trust,
And life from others modelled steal or win;
Or shall I heave to light, and clear of rust
My true life from _within_?

O, let me be myself! But where, O where,
Under this heap of precedent, this mound
Of customs, modes, and maxims, cumbrance rare,
Shall the Myself be found?

O thou _Myself_, thy fathers thee debarred
None of their wisdom, but their folly came
Therewith; they smoothed thy path, but made it hard
For thee to quit the same.

With glosses they obscured God's natural truth,
And with tradition tarnished His revealed;
With vain protections they endangered youth,
With layings bare they sealed.

What aileth thee, myself? Alas! thy hands
Are tied with old opinions - heir and son,
Thou hast inherited thy father's lands
And all his debts thereon.

O that some power would give me Adam's eyes!
O for the straight simplicity of Eve!
For I see nought, or grow, poor fool, too wise
With seeing to believe.

Exemplars may be heaped until they hide
The rules that they were made to render plain;
Love may be watched, her nature to decide,
Until love's self doth wane.

Ah me! and when forgotten and foregone
We leave the learning of departed days,
And cease the generations past to con,
Their wisdom and their ways, -

When fain to learn we lean into the dark,
And grope to feel the floor of the abyss,
Or find the secret boundary lines which mark
Where soul and matter kiss -

Fair world! these puzzled souls of ours grow weak
With beating their bruised wings against the rim
That bounds their utmost flying, when they seek
The distant and the dim.

We pant, we strain like birds against their wires;
Are sick to reach the vast and the beyond; -
And what avails, if still to our desires
Those far-off gulfs respond?

Contentment comes not therefore; still there lies
An outer distance when the first is hailed,
And still forever yawns before our eyes
An UTMOST - that is veiled.

Searching those edges of the universe,
We leave the central fields a fallow part;
To feed the eye more precious things amerce,
And starve the darkened heart.

Then all goes wrong: the old foundations rock;
One scorns at him of old who gazed unshod;
One striking with a pickaxe thinks the shock
Shall move the seat of God.

A little way, a very little way
(Life is so short), they dig into the rind,
And they are very sorry, so they say, -
Sorry for what they find.

But truth is sacred - ay, and must be told:
There is a story long beloved of man;
We must forego it, for it will not hold -
Nature had no such plan.

And then, if "God hath said it," some should cry,
We have the story from the fountain-head:
Why, then, what better than the old reply,
The first "Yea, HATH God said?"

The garden, O the garden, must it go,
Source of our hope and our most dear regret?
The ancient story, must it no more show
How man may win it yet?

And all upon the Titan child's decree,
The baby science, born but yesterday,
That in its rash unlearned infancy
With shells and stones at play,

And delving in the outworks of this world,
And little crevices that it could reach,
Discovered certain bones laid up, and furled
Under an ancient beach,

And other waifs that lay to its young mind
Some fathoms lower than they ought to lie,
By gain whereof it could not fail to find
Much proof of ancientry,

Hints at a Pedigree withdrawn and vast,
Terrible deeps, and old obscurities,
Or soulless origin, and twilight passed
In the primeval seas,

Whereof it tells, as thinking it hath been
Of truth not meant for man inheritor;
As if this knowledge Heaven had ne'er foreseen
And not provided for!


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