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- The House of Life - 6/9 -
Is mirrored, and the heat returned. Yet move That glass, a stranger's amorous flame to prove, And it shall turn, by instant contraries, Ice to the moon; while her pure fire to his For whom it burns, clings close i' the heart's alcove.
Lo! they are one. With wifely breast to breast And circling arms, she welcomes all command Of love,--her soul to answering ardours fann'd: Yet as morn springs or twilight sinks to rest, Ah! who shall say she deems not loveliest The hour of sisterly sweet hand-in-hand?III. HER HEAVEN
If to grow old in Heaven is to grow young, (As the Seer saw and said,) then blest were he With youth forevermore, whose heaven should be True Woman, she whom these weak notes have sung. Here and hereafter,--choir-strains of her tongue,-- Sky-spaces of her eyes,--sweet signs that flee About her soul's immediate sanctuary,-- Were Paradise all uttermost worlds among.
The sunrise blooms and withers on the hill Like any hillflower; and the noblest troth Dies here to dust. Yet shall Heaven's promise clothe Even yet those lovers who have cherished still This test for love:--in every kiss sealed fast To feel the first kiss and forebode the last.LOVE'S LAST GIFT
Love to his singer held a glistening leaf, And said: 'The rose-tree and the apple-tree Have fruits to vaunt or flowers to lure the bee; And golden shafts are in the feathered sheaf Of the great harvest-marshal, the year's chief, Victorious Summer; aye, and 'neath warm sea Strange secret grasses lurk inviolably Between the filtering channels of sunk reef.
All are my blooms; and all sweet blooms of love To thee I gave while Spring and Summer sang; But Autumn stops to listen, with some pang From those worse things the wind is moaning of. Only this laurel dreads no winter days: Take my last gift; thy heart hath sung my praise.'PART II. CHANGE AND FATE
As growth of form or momentary glance In a child's features will recall to mind The father's with the mother's face combin'd,-- Sweet interchange that memories still enhance: And yet, as childhood's years and youth's advance, The gradual mouldings leave one stamp behind, Till in the blended likeness now we find A separate man's or woman's countenance:--
So in the Song, the singer's Joy and Pain, Its very parents, evermore expand To bid the passion's fullgrown birth remain, By Art's transfiguring essence subtly spann'd; And from that song-cloud shaped as a man's hand There comes the sound as of abundant rain.THE SONG-THROE
By thine own tears thy song must tears beget, 0 Singer! Magic mirror thou hast none Except thy manifest heart; and save thine own Anguish or ardour, else no amulet. Cisterned in Pride, verse is the feathery jet Of soulless air-flung fountains; nay, more dry Than the Dead Sea for throats that thirst and sigh, That song o'er which no singer's lids grew wet.
The Song-god--He the Sun-god--is no slave Of thine: thy Hunter he, who for thy soul Fledges his shaft: to no august control Of thy skilled hand his quivered store he gave: But if thy lips' loud cry leap to his smart, The inspir'd recoil shall pierce thy brother's heart.THE SOUL'S SPHERE
Come prisoned moon in steep cloud-fastnesses,-- Throned queen and thralled; some dying sun whose pyre Blazed with momentous memorable fire;-- Who hath not yearned and fed his heart with these? Who, sleepless, hath not anguished to appease Tragical shadow's realm of sound and sight Conjectured in the lamentable night?... Lo! the soul's sphere of infinite images!
What sense shall count them? Whether it forecast The rose-winged hours that flutter in the van Of Love's unquestioning unreveale'd span,-- Visions of golden futures: or that last Wild pageant of the accumulated past That clangs and flashes for a drowning man.INCLUSIVENESS
The changing guests, each in a different mood, Sit at the roadside table and arise: And every life among them in likewise Is a soul's board set daily with new food. What man has bent o'er his son's sleep, to brood How that face shall watch his when cold it lies?-- Or thought, as his own mother kissed his eyes, Of what her kiss was when his father wooed?
May not this ancient room thou sit'st in dwell In separate living souls for joy or pain? Nay, all its corners may be painted plain Where Heaven shows pictures of some life spent well; And may be stamped, a memory all in vain, Upon the sight of lidless eyes in Hell.ARDOUR AND MEMORY
The cuckoo-throb, the heartbeat of the Spring; The rosebud's blush that leaves it as it grows Into the full-eyed fair unblushing rose; The summer clouds that visit every wing With fires of sunrise and of sunsetting; The furtive flickering streams to light re-born 'Mid airs new-fledged and valorous lusts of morn, While all the daughters of the daybreak sing:--
These ardour loves, and memory: and when flown All joys, and through dark forest-boughs in flight The wind swoops onward brandishing the light, Even yet the rose-tree's verdure left alone Will flush all ruddy though the rose be gone; With ditties and with dirges infinite.KNOWN IN VAIN
As two whose love, first foolish, widening scope, Knows suddenly, with music high and soft, The Holy of holies; who because they scoff'd Are now amazed with shame, nor dare to cope With the whole truth aloud, lest heaven should ope; Yet, at their meetings, laugh not as they In speech; nor speak, at length; but sitting oft Together, within hopeless sight of hope For hours are silent:--So it happeneth When Work and Will awake too late, to gaze After their life sailed by, and hold their breath. Ah! who shall dare to search through what sad maze Thenceforth their incommunicable ways Follow the desultory feet of Death?HEART OF THE NIGHT
From child to youth; from youth to arduous man; From lethargy to fever of the heart; From faithful life to dream-dowered days apart; From trust to doubt; from doubt to brink of ban;-- Thus much of change in one swift cycle ran Till now. Alas, the soul!--how soon must she Accept her primal immortality,-- The flesh resume its dust whence it began?
0 Lord of work and peace! O Lord of life! 0 Lord, the awful Lord of will! though late, Even yet renew this soul with duteous breath: That when the peace is garnered in from strife, The work retrieved, the will regenerate, This soul may see thy face, 0 Lord of death!THE LANDMARK
Was _that_ the landmark? What,--the foolish well Whose wave, low down, I did not stoop to drink, But sat and flung the pebbles from its brink In sport to send its imaged skies pell-mell, (And mine own image, had I noted well!) Was that my point of turning?--I had thought The stations of my course should rise unsought, As altar-stone or ensigned citadel.
But lo! the path is missed, I must go back, And thirst to drink when next I reach the spring Which once I stained, which since may have grown black. Yet though no light be left nor bird now sing As here I turn, I'll thank God, hastening, That the same goal is still on the same track.A DARK DAY
The gloom that breathes upon me with these airs Is like the drops which strike the traveller's brow Who knows not, darkling, if they bring him now Fresh storm, or be old rain the covert bears. Ah! bodes this hour some harvest of new tares, Or hath but memory of the day whose plough Sowed hunger once,-- the night at length when thou, 0 prayer found vain, didst fall from out my prayers?
How prickly were the growths which yet how smooth, Along the hedgerows of this journey shed, Lie by Time's grace till night and sleep may soothe! Even as the thistledown from pathsides dead Gleaned by a girl in autumns of her youth,
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