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- The House of Life - 9/9 -


I

Beholding youth and hope in mockery caught From life; and mocking pulses that remain When the soul's death of bodily death is fain; Honour unknown, and honour known unsought; And penury's sedulous self-torturing thought On gold, whose master therewith buys his bane; And longed-for woman longing all in vain For lonely man with love's desire distraught; And wealth, and strength, and power, and pleasantness, Given unto bodies of whose souls men say, None poor and weak, slavish and foul, as they:-- Beholding these things, I behold no less The blushing morn and blushing eve confess The shame that loads the intolerable day. As some true chief of men, bowed down with stress Of life's disastrous eld, on blossoming youth May gaze, and murmur with self-pity and ruth, 'Might I thy fruitless treasure but possess, Such blessing of mine all coming years should bless;'-- Then sends one sigh forth to the unknown goal, And bitterly feels breathe against his soul The hour swift-winged of nearer nothingness:--

Even so the World's grey Soul to the green World Perchance one hour must cry: 'Woe's me, for whom Inveteracy of ill portends the doom,-- Whose heart's old fire in shadow of shame is furl'd: While thou even as of yore art journeying, All soulless now, yet merry with the Spring!' MICHELANGELO'S KISS

Great Michelangelo, with age grown bleak And uttermost labours, having once o'ersaid All grievous memories on his long life shed, This worst regret to one true heart could speak:-- That when, with sorrowing love and reverence meek, He stooped o'er sweet Colonna's dying bed, His Muse and dominant Lady, spirit-wed, Her hand he kissed, but not her brow or cheek.

0 Buonarruoti,--good at Art's fire-wheels To urge her chariot!--even thus the Soul, Touching at length some sorely-chastened goal, Earns oftenest but a little: her appeals Were deep and mute,--lowly her claim. Let be: What holds for her Death's garner? And for thee? THE VASE OF LIFE

Around the vase of Life at your slow pace He has not crept, but turned it with his hands, And all its sides already understands. There, girt, one breathes alert for some great race; Whose road runs far by sands and fruitful space; Who laughs, yet through the jolly throng has pass'd; Who weeps, nor stays for weeping; who at last, A youth, stands somewhere crowned, with silent face.

And he has filled this vase with wine for blood, With blood for tears, with spice for burning vow, With watered flowers for buried love most fit; And would have cast it shattered to the flood, Yet in Fate's name has kept it whole; which now Stands empty till his ashes fall in it. LIFE THE BELOVED

As thy friend's face, with shadow of soul o'erspread, Somewhile unto thy sight perchance hath been Ghastly and strange, yet never so is seen In thought, but to all fortunate favour wed; As thy love's death-bound features never dead To memory's glass return, but contravene Frail fugitive days, and always keep, I ween Than all new life a livelier lovelihead:--

So Life herself, thy spirit's friend and love, Even still as Spring's authentic harbinger Glows with fresh hours for hope to glorify; Though pale she lay when in the winter grove Her funeral flowers were snow-flakes shed on her And the red wings of frost-fire rent the sky. A SUPERSCRIPTION

Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been; I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell; Unto thine ear I hold the dead-sea shell Cast up thy Life's foam-fretted feet between; Unto thine eyes the glass where that is seen Which had Life's form and Love's, but by my spell Is now a shaken shadow intolerable, Of ultimate things unuttered the frail screen.

Mark me, how still I am! But should there dart One moment through thy soul the soft surprise Of that winged Peace which lulls the breath of sighs, Then shalt thou see me smile, and turn apart Thy visage to mine ambush at thy heart Sleepless with cold commemorative eyes. HE AND I

Whence came his feet into my field, and why? How is it that he sees it all so drear? How do I see his seeing, and how hear The name his bitter silence knows it by? This was the little fold of separate sky Whose pasturing clouds in the soul's atmosphere Drew living light from one continual year: How should he find it lifeless? He, or I?

Lo! this new Self now wanders round my field, With plaints for every flower, and for each tree A moan, the sighing wind's auxiliary: And o'er sweet waters of my life, that yield Unto his lips no draught but tears unseal'd, Even in my place he weeps. Even I, not he. NEWBORN DEATH

I

To-day Death seems to me an infant child Which her worn mother Life upon my knee Has set to grow my friend and play with me; If haply so my heart might be beguil'd To find no terrors in a face so mild,-- If haply so my weary heart might be Unto the newborn milky eyes of thee, 0 Death, before resentment reconcil'd.

How long, 0 Death? And shall thy feet depart Still a young child's with mine, or wilt thou stand Fullgrown the helpful daughter of my heart, What time with thee indeed I reach the strand Of the pale wave which knows thee what thou art, And drink it in the hollow of thy hand? II

And thou, 0 Life, the lady of all bliss, With whom, when our first heart beat full and fast, I wandered till the haunts of men were pass'd, And in fair places found all bowers amiss Till only woods and waves might hear our kiss, While to the winds all thought of Death we cast: Ah, Life! and must I have from thee at last No smile to greet me and no babe but this?

Lo! Love, the child once ours; and Song, whose hair Blew like a flame and blossomed like a wreath; And Art, whose eyes were worlds by God found fair; These o'er the book of Nature mixed their breath With neck-twined arms, as oft we watched them there: And did these die that thou mightst bear me Death? THE ONE HOPE

When all desire at last and all regret Go hand in hand to death, and all is vain, What shall assuage the unforgotten pain And teach the unforgetful to forget? Shall Peace be still a sunk stream long unmet,-- Or may the soul at once in a green plain Stoop through the spray of some sweet life-fountain And cull the dew-drenched flowering amulet?

Ah! when the wan soul in that golden air Between the scriptured petals softly blown Peers breathless for the gift of grace unknown, Ah! let none other written spell soe'er But only the one Hope's one name be there,-- Not less nor more, but even that word alone.


The House of Life - 9/9

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