I wish I had taught you to speak it While the light was on my brain ; It has vanished now, with the thousand things That will never come back again. Only a vision of waters Rising towards the flow, Cometh instead of the countless hills, The hills that I used to know.
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The people are frozen hard here — Not you, my darling, not you! There is never a line of beauty In all the weary rows, And the saddest thing of the whole is this, That the bareness no one knows ; They are quite contented, and think it fine. We gathered us round about him, And we told him our boyish dreams ; And I saw the light in his deep-set eyes Come flashing in tender gleams.
And we said, "Are our visions folly? Should we banish them, and forget?
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O Gorphwysfa! The old rallying shout at the open-air preachings ; said to have first suggested to Handel the idea of his Hallelujah Chorus. Part I. BEING then a child, had once two friends, 9 My cousins then, my guiding angels since : We dwelt together in a strange old house, That, like the fortunes of our family, Had shrunk and withered to pathetic age ; Until men said we should some day be crushed, A nest of eagles 'neath a crumbling rock ; And yet there was a certain charm in this, Like living on some cracked volcano side, That any day might yawn and let us in, United in the bridal of one death.
The room we used was once the banquet hall, With many-coloured windows looking east, Across a little, quaint, old-fashioned street, That scarcely suited its locality — The dark, tumultuous heart of London town. The walls were oaken, wrought in deep device Of pomegranates and acorns — once our shield ; While underneath the mantel one had carved, With mingled vanity and insolence, " Here dined with Owain Prynne, King James the Small.
The foolish fancy of a foolish child, So said my father, while he bade me look Along the telescope to find out truth. Then, through the dark and narrow way I peered, To see the little star become a sun, With satellites, and bright mysterious rings, While finest fragments of the Milky Way Grew into spheres and systems infinite, Until I sighed — " God must be very tired, With such a weight of worlds hung round His neck. Come hither, Elin, I will show you here The wonders that lie hidden in the world Of infusoria.
Sweet Agnes wove a silver web of song, And Mark, her cousin and mine, drove on a pen That like a thirsty bird drank up the ink. While I — I taught a most majestic cat That claws were made for sheathing, not to scratch, Until the bright-eyed mice came boldly forth, And puss was useless, being civilized. I made confession of my latest sins, And Agnes, while she chode, did comfort me.
Just so, I know and will the right, And err, and work my soul's despite, In sin and misery. As Thou didst live all sanctified, As Thou in solitude hast died, Help me to die, and live. Mark turned and left us : Agnes watched him go, Tike one who sees a sudden, angry sun Drop down behind the threatening, smoking hills, To rise upon the ruins of a world. Yet still she sang to me in notes sad-sweet. Only the nightingale from out the wood is coming, Singing her tender song, as though she wooed the night. Sleep, little sister, sleep, Sleep, sleep!
Prove that working men Are brutal, fools, with Machiavellian skill ; That they will climb to power as Satan climbed, To fall as Satan fell, and — Let me see : No, that was Samson — drew the gates down with him. Mark said, " Life is sweet. Agnes sing to me ; Tis better than rebuking — juster, too.
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Tall and large, With womanly dark hair that fell behind A massive face, deep graven in strong lines Around the lip and nostril, and the brow, Where silken lashes, startled, stood upright, Away from maniac eyes. At length she spoke In sonorous tones, that rolled upon the air Like church bells tolling 'mid an earthquake's crash : — " A Prynne can only love a Prynne : Doom one. The Prynne who weds a Prynne, weds Death: Doom two. The Prynne who weds not Death goes mad, like me : Doom three.
Beneath his voice she seemed to shrink and fall Suddenly, to a woman old and weak. Your mother died ; she had the lighter fate. And it was lost ; they would not help me look. Mark laid his forehead where her hand had lain, And sighed, as one who sighs out life in pain. To see my queen sink lower than the brutes, And know it was my hand had dragged her down, And know that I had done it, I, alone! The daylight waned, and shadows, gaunt and still, Crept in, and darkly filled my cousins' place, Until, for cowardice, I cried aloud. Then Agnes came, and said that all was well, And shared with me a sudden rain of tears, Quick dried as thunder showers ; then, like a bird, That sings its fluttered nestlings into rest, She softly sang an ancient British hymn : — " Holy Father, God most tender, We, Thy children, cry to Thee ; Let Thy light shine through our darkness, Till our earth-blind eyes shall see ; See the thread that guides our wanderings, See the hand that holds us free.
Holy Father, hear our cry! Suffer us to feel Thee near. So, I Dare now what I have never dared before, And pray that you will stoop r before we part, From your high maidenhood, and kiss me, Sweet.
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Part III. His journey was delayed from day to day; The mother died, all suddenly, at last, He only being with her, and some said He murdered her ; so wicked is the world!
He needs must stay to face the slander down, Though we, who loved him, cared about it least, Until I said one eve, " Why, Mark, your hand Grows thin and pale, and, held up so, looks like An alabaster shade before a lamp. Prophets that prophesy smooth things, to them shall the smooth things come ; Better than coal from the altar it is that a man be dumb.
Wake her not up, my beloved ; fan her with breeze of myrrh. Some of the planets, it may be, have air that is pure and best ; He who should set out to reach them would need on the way to rest. Wake her not up, my beloved. Strange that she does not stir! Neither a hero nor madman — alas for my state! Wake her not up, my beloved ; pillow the dainty head. Merciful God!follow
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And Agnes, reading it, saw what he feared For her, and in her ; and she shrank, like one All wrongfully accused of leprosy, Half angered and half sad at such a thought. I, sorely pressed with pain, sang hurriedly A baby song which she had taught of old : — " All the little flowers lie dead, dead, All the little flowers lie dead ; For the Frost-king came, and he knew no shame, And all the little flowers lie dead.
For the Man-king came, and he called them game, And all the little birds lie dead. Beneath the touch my sleeping woman's soul Was troubled into life, and I recoiled. Mark only smiled : " The child is pettish, Sweet, like all her race ; We have our special weaknesses, we Prynnes, Our angers, fantasies, and ghostly fears, No Saxon courage of tenacity; We spring, and rush, and suddenly fall back : Sometimes I almost hate to be a Prynne.
All this while A ceaseless moaning had gone round the house, A sighing like the sighing of the sea. Suddenly from the wall a picture sprang, And fell at Agnes' feet ; she smiled, " Poor nun, I think we will not hang her any more.
Listen, how still it is, for you to sing The plaint I heard at dusk, dear, yester-eve, Your last new song. Though bent and scarred with age and evil times, It still upreared its wand-like spears of leaves, That shimmered silver in the fitful light. The storm, returning, had seized hold of this, 'Twas bowed and quivering like a foundering ship, With mutinous leaves, that whispered cheek on cheek, How they would help the wrecking wind this night. Then all was dark. When I at length awoke I heard my father and his brother call : "The microscope! Stung into sudden life, I rose, And found my cousins 'neath a fallen beam, That, falling, sheltered them from all but death ; Crowned with the roses from the broken vase, They lay, a sleeping king and queen, at rest.
Like, but more blessed than, a child asleep ; While his, with smiling lips, bent over her, As though he shielded her from dazzling light — The light of joy that in their faces shone, The joy of those for whom all life and love, Condensed into one nectar drop of dew, Exhaled to Heaven, ere it touched the dust. I pray I may not see such light again Until mine eyes have gained immortal strength. Veiling my face within my trembling hands, I groped my way out to the darkened world, And, dull with sorrow, murmured Agnes' prayer : " A moment's bliss, dear Lord, before we die!
ANY maidens, many minds ; He that finds one, seldom binds. I will never choose my wife as one of many. But the maid who stands alone, And in solitude has grown, Such a one I wed, if, truly, I wed any. Gentle gaze he could not see, But the breezes, wickedly, Came behind him with the sound of girlish laughter. Then the maiden with a soul Saw her lover reach his goal, Never turning, turning once to look behind him ; And she said, " He loves his toil, Loves its constant seam and soil : They that seek him, with the earth-men still shall find him.
Then he saw the maiden fair Standing solitary there, And he knew it was his sin that she did fear him. Worker fleet and dreamer sweet Then in blissful rush did meet, And the root of pain was drawn from out its hiding. A LL over for me The struggle, and possible glory! All swept past, In the rush of my own brigade.
Will charges instead, And fills up my place in the story ; Well —'tis well, By the merry old games we played. There's a fellow asleep, the lout! Why, the horses might neigh contempt at him ; what is he like, I wonder? If the smoke would but clear away, I have strength in me yet to hiss. How that rascal enjoys his snooze! Would he wake to the touch of powder?