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- The House of Life - 5/9 -


And as she kissed, her mouth became her soul.

Thence in what ways we wandered, and how strove To build with fire-tried vows the piteous home Which memory haunts and whither sleep may roam,-- They only know for whom the roof of Love Is the still-seated secret of the grove, Nor spire may rise nor bell be heard therefrom. PARTED LOVE

What shall be said of this embattled day And armed occupation of this night By all thy foes beleaguered,--now when sight Nor sound denotes the loved one far away? Of these thy vanquished hours what shalt thou say,-- As every sense to which she dealt delight Now labours lonely o'er the stark noon-height To reach the sunset's desolate disarray?

Stand still, fond fettered wretch! while Memory's art Parades the Past before thy face, and lures Thy spirit to her passionate portraitures: Till the tempestuous tide-gates flung apart Flood with wild will the hollows of thy heart, And thy heart rends thee, and thy body endures. BROKEN MUSIC

The mother will not turn, who thinks she hears Her nursling's speech first grow articulate; But breathless with averted eyes elate She sits, with open lips and open ears, That it may call her twice. 'Mid doubts and fears Thus oft my soul has hearkened; till the song, A central moan for days, at length found tongue, And the sweet music welled and the sweet tears.

But now, whatever while the soul is fain To list that wonted murmur, as it were The speech-bound sea-shell's low importunate strain,-- No breath of song, thy voice alone is there, 0 bitterly beloved! and all her gain Is but the pang of unpermitted prayer. DEATH-IN-LOVE

There came an image in Life's retinue That had Love's wings and bore his gonfalon: Fair was the web, and nobly wrought thereon, 0 soul-sequestered face, thy form and hue! Bewildering sounds, such as Spring wakens to, Shook in its folds; and through my heart its power Sped trackless as the immemorable hour When birth's dark portal groaned and all was new.

But a veiled woman followed, and she caught The banner round its staff, to furl and cling,-- Then plucked a feather from the bearer's wing, And held it to his lips that stirred it not, And said to me, 'Behold, there is no breath: I and this Love are one, and I am Death.' WILLOWWOOD

I

I sat with Love upon a woodside well, Leaning across the water, I and he; Nor ever did he speak nor looked at me, But touched his lute wherein was audible The certain secret thing he had to tell: Only our mirrored eyes met silently In the low wave; and that sound came to be The passionate voice I knew; and my tears fell.

And at their fall, his eyes beneath grew hers; And with his foot and with his wing-feathers He swept the spring that watered my heart's drouth. Then the dark ripples spread to waving hair, And as I stooped, her own lips rising there Bubbled with brimming kisses at my mouth. II

And now Love sang: but his was such a song, So meshed with half-remembrance hard to free, As souls disused in death's sterility May sing when the new birthday tarries long. And I was made aware of a dumb throng That stood aloof, one form by every tree, All mournful forms, for each was I or she, The shades of those our days that had no tongue.

They looked on us, and knew us and were known; While fast together, alive from the abyss, Clung the soul-wrung implacable close kiss; And pity of self through all made broken moan Which said, 'For once, for once, for once alone!' And still Love sang, and what he sang was this:-- III

'O ye, all ye that walk in Willow-wood, That walk with hollow faces burning white; What fathom-depth of soul-struck widowhood, What long, what longer hours, one lifelong night, Ere ye again, who so in vain have wooed Your last hope lost, who so in vain invite Your lips to that their unforgotten food, Ere ye, ere ye again shall see the light!

Alas! the bitter banks in Willowwood, With tear-spurge wan, with blood-wort burning red: Alas! if ever such a pillow could Steep deep the soul in sleep till she were dead,-- Better all life forget her than this thing, That Willowwood should hold her wandering!' IV

So sang he: and as meeting rose and rose Together cling through the wind's wellaway Nor change at once, yet near the end of day The leaves drop loosened where the heart-stain glows,-- So when the song died did the kiss unclose; And her face fell back drowned, and was as grey As its grey eyes; and if it ever may Meet mine again I know not if Love knows.

0nly I know that I leaned low and drank A long draught from the water where she sank, Her breath and all her tears and all her soul: And as I leaned, I know I felt Love's face Pressed on my neck with moan of pity and grace, Till both our heads were in his aureole. WITHOUT HER

What of her glass without her? The blank grey There where the pool is blind of the moon's face. Her dress without her? The tossed empty space Of cloud-rack whence the moon has passed away. Her paths without her? Day's appointed sway Usurped by desolate night. Her pillowed place Without her? Tears, ah me! for love's good grace, And cold forgetfulness of night or day.

What of the heart without her? Nay, poor heart, Of thee what word remains ere speech be still? A wayfarer by barren ways and chill, Steep ways and weary, without her thou art, Where the long cloud, the long wood's counterpart, Sheds doubled darkness up the labouring hill. LOVE'S FATALITY

Sweet Love,-- but oh! most dread Desire of Love Life-thwarted. Linked in gyves I saw them stand, Love shackled with Vain-longing, hand to hand: And one was eyed as the blue vault above: But hope tempestuous like a fire-cloud hove I' the other s gaze, even as in his whose wand Vainly all night with spell-wrought power has spann'd The unyielding caves of some deep treasure-trove.

Also his lips, two writhen flakes of flame, Made moan: 'Alas 0 Love, thus leashed with me! Wing-footed thou, wing-shouldered, once born free: And I, thy cowering self, in chains grown tame, Bound to thy body and soul, named with thy name, Life's iron heart, even Love's Fatality.' STILLBORN LOVE

The hour which might have been yet might not be, Which man's and woman's heart conceived and bore Yet whereof life was barren,--on what shore Bides it the breaking of Time's weary sea? Bondchild of all consummate joys set free, It somewhere sighs and serves, and mute before The house of Love, hears through the echoing door His hours elect in choral consonancy.

But lo! what wedded souls now hand in hand Together tread at last the immortal strand With eyes where burning memory lights love home? Lo! how the little outcast hour has turned And leaped to them and in their faces yearned: -- 'I am your child: 0 parents, ye have come!' TRUE WOMAN

I. HERSELF

To be a sweetness more desired than Spring; A bodily beauty more acceptable Than the wild rose-tree's arch that crowns the fell; To be an essence more environing Than wine's drained juice; a music ravishing More than the passionate pulse of Philomel; - To be all this 'neath one soft bosom's swell That is the flower of life:--how strange a thing!

How strange a thing to be what Man can know But as a sacred secret! Heaven's own screen Hides her soul's purest depth and loveliest glow; Closely withheld, as all things most unseen,-- The wave-bowered pearl, the heart-shaped seal of green That flecks the snowdrop underneath the snow. II. HER LOVE

She loves him; for her infinite soul is Love, And he her lodestar. Passion in her is A glass facing his fire, where the bright bliss


The House of Life - 5/9

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