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- A Lover's Diary, Volume 2. - 6/7 -

My heart beats to them like a muffled bell.

Change--Time and Change! O Change and Time, you come Not knocking at my door, knowing me gone; Here have I dwelt within my heart alone, Watching and waiting, while my muse was dumb

Song was gone from me--sweet, I could not sing, Save as men sing upon the lonely hills; Under my hand the old chord ceased to ring,

Hushed by the grinding of the high gods' mills. Dearest, once more. Those mad mills had their way-- Now is mine hour. To every man his day.


How have I toiled, how have I set my face Fair to the swords! No man could say I quailed; Ne'er did I falter; I dare not to have failed, I dare not to have dropped from out the race.

Good was the fight--good, till a piteous dream Crept from some direful covert of despair; Showed me your look, that look so true and fair, Distant and bleak; for me no more to gleam.

Then was I driven back upon my soul, Then came dark moments; lady, then I drew Forth from its place the round unfathomed bowl

Of sorrow, and from it I quaffed to you; Speaking as men speak who have lost Their hearts' last prize--and dare not count the cost.


But you are here unchanged. You say not so In words, but when you placed your hands in mine; But when I saw the same old glory shine Within your eyes, I read it; and I know.

And when those hands ran up along my arm, And rested on my shoulder for a space, A sacred inquisition in your face, To read my heart, how could I doubt that charm,

That truth ineffable!--I set my soul In hazard to a farthing, that you kept The faith, with pride unspeakable, the whole

Course of those years in which communion slept. Your soul flamed in your look; you read; I knew How little worth was I, how heavenly you.


I read your truth. You read--What did you read? Did you read all, and, reading all, forgive? How I--O little dwarf of conscience sieve My soul; bare all before her bare indeed!

And, looking on the remnant and the waste, Can you absolve me,--me, the doubter, one Who challenged what God spent His genius on, His genius and His pride; so fair, so chaste?

I am ashamed. . . . And when I told my dreams, Shaken and humble,--"Dear, there was no cause," Your words; proud, sorrowful, as it beseems

Such as thou art. There never was a cause Why you should honour me. Ashamed am I. And you forgive me, bless me, for reply.


You bless me, then you turn away your head-- "Never again, dear. I have blessed you so, My lips upon your lips; between must flow The river--Oh the river!" Thus you said.

The river--Oh the river, and the sun; Stream that we may not cross, sun that is joy: Flow as thou must; shine on in full employ-- Shine through her eyes thou; let the river run.

O lady, to your liegeman speak. You say: "Dream no more dreams; yourself be as am I" Your hands clasped to your face, so shutting out the day.

An instant, then to me, your low good-bye-- Good-night, good-bye; and then the social reign, The lights, the songs, the flowers--and the pain.


"Oh, hush!" you said; "oh, hush!" The twilight hung Between us and the world; but in your face, Flooding with warm inner light, the sovereign grace Of one who rests the brooding trees among--

Of one who steps down from a lofty throne, Seeking that peace the sceptre cannot call; And leaving courtier, page, and seneschal, Goes down the lane of sycamores alone;

And, going, listens to the notes that swell From golden throats--stories of ardent days, And lovers in fair vales; and homing bell:

And the sweet theme unbearable, she prays The song-bird cease! So, on the tale I dare, Your "hush!" your wistful "hush!" broke like prayer.


"Never," you said, "never this side the grave, And what shall come hereafter, who may know? Whether we e'en shall guess the way we go, Passing beneath Death's mystic architrave

Silence or song, dumb sleep or cheerful hours?" O lady, you have questioned, answer too. You--you to die--silence and gloom for you: Dead song, dead lights, dead graces, and dead flowers?

It is not so: the foolish trivial end, The inconsequent paltry Nothing--gone--gone all; The genius of the ageless Something spend

Itself within this little earthly wall: The commonplace conception, that we reap Reward of drudge and ploughman--idle sleep!


You shall live on triumphant, you shall take Your place among the peerless, fearless ones; And those who loved you here shall tell their sons To honour every woman for your sake.

And those your Peers shall say, "Others are pure, Others are noble, others too have vowed, And for a vow have suffered; but she bowed Her own soul and another's to endure.

She smote the being more to her than all,-- Her own soul and the world,--a truth to hold, Faith with the dead; and hung a heavy pall

'Tween her and love and life. The world is old, It hath sent here none queenlier. Of the few, The royal few is she, martyred and true."


Upon the rack of this tough world I hear, As when Cordelia's glories all dissever- "Never--never--never--never--never,--"

A Lover's Diary, Volume 2. - 6/7

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