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Be verily bitter as self-sacrifice, We are no less selfish! if we sleep on rocks
Or roses, sleeping past the hour of
noon, We're lazy.
[from Aurora Leigh.]
As light November snows to empty nests,
As grass to graves, as moss to mildewed stones,
As July suns to ruins, through the rents,
As ministering spirits to mourners,
through a loss, As Heaven itself to men, through
pangs of death He came uncalled wherever grief had
[From Aurora Leigh.]
She was not white nor brown But could look either, like a mist that changed
According to being shone on more or less.
The hair, too, ran its opulence of curls
In doubt 'twixt dark and bright, nor
left you clear To name the color. Too much hair
(I'll name a fault here) for so small a head,
Which seemed to droop on that side
and on this, As a full-blown rose, uneasy with its
Though not a breath should trouble
it. Again, The dimple in the cheek had better
With redder, fuller rounds: and somewhat large
The mouth was though the milky little teeth
Dissolved it to so infantine a smile!
For soon it smiled at me; the eyes
smiled too, But 'twas as if remembering they had
And knowing they should, some day, weep again.
[From Aurora Leigh.] THE ONE UNIVERSAL SYMPATHY. . . . . O WORLD,
O jurists, rhymers, dreamers, what
you please, We play a weary game of hide and
We shape a figure of our fantasy, Call nothing something, and run after it
And lose it, lose ourselves, too, in the search,
Till clash against us, comes a somebody
Who also has lost something and is lost
[From Aurora Leigh.]
Alas, long suffering and most patient
Thou need'st be surelier God to bear with us
Than even to have made us! thou aspire, aspire
From henceforth for me! thou who hast, thyself.
Endured this fleshhood, knowing how, as a soaked
And sucking vesture, it would drag us down
And choke us in the melancholy deep,
Sustain me, that, with thee, I walk
these waves, Resisting! — breathe me upward, thou
Aspiring, who art the Way, the Truth, the Life, —
That no truth henceforth seem indifferent,
No way to truth laborious, and no life. Not even this life I live, intolerable!
Fear death? — to feel the fog in my throat, The mist in my face, When the snows begin, and the blasts denote I am nearing the place, The power of the night, the press of the storm, The post of the foe; Where he stands, the Arch-Fear in a visible form, Yet the strong man must go; Now the journey is done and the summit attained, And the barriers fall, Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained, The reward of it all. I was ever a fighter, so, — one fight more,
The best and the last! I would hate that Death bandaged my eyes, and forbore, And bade me creep past. No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers. The heroes of old, Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears, Of pain, darkness and cold. For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave, The black minute's at end, And the elements' rage, the fiendvoices that rave, Shall dwindle, shall blend, Shall change, shall become first a peace, then a joy, Then a light, then thy breast, O soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again.
And with God be the rest!
IN A YEAR.
Never any more
While I live, Need I hope to see his face
Once his love grown chill.
Mine may strive, — Bitterly we re-embrace,
Was it something said,
Something done, Vexed him? was it touch of hand,
Turn of head?
When I sewed or drew,
I recall How he looked as if I sang
— Sweetly too. If I spoke a word,
First of all
Then he heard.
Sitting by my side,
At my feet,
Touched the sweet:
Sweet to him.
"Speak, — I love thee best!"
He exclaimed. "Let thy love my own foretell,"—
I confessed: "Cast my heart on thine
Now unblamed, Since upon thy soul as well
Was it wrong to own,
Beauty, youth, —
I gave these.
That was all I meant,
— To be just,
And the passion I had raised
Gold for dust,
Was it strange?
Would he love me yet,
On and on, While I found some way undreamed,
— Paid my debt! Give more life and more,
Till, all gone, He should smile, "She never seemed Mine before.
"What — she felt the while,
Must I think?
He should smile. •' Dying for my sake —
White and pink!
But they break?"
Dear, the pang is brief.
Do thy part, Have thy pleasure. How perplext
Grows belief 1 Well, this cold clay clod
Was man's heart. Crumble it, — and what comes next?
Is it God?
Beautiful Evelyn Hope is dead!
Sit and watch by her side an hour. That is her book-shelf, this her bed; She plucked that piece of geranium-flower, Beginning to die too, in the glass. Little has yet been changed, I think,
The shutters are shut, — no light may pass
Save two long rays through the hinge's chink.
Sixteen years old when she died! Perhaps she had scarcely heard my name, —
It was not her time to love; beside,
Duties enough and little cares;
Till God's hand beckoned unawares, And the sweet white brow is all of her.
Is it too late, then, Evelyn Hope?
What! your soul was pure and true; The good stars met in your horoscope,
Made you of spirit, fire, and dew; And just because I was thrice as old,
And our paths in the world diverged so wide,
Each was naught to each, must I be told?
We were fellow-mortals, — naught beside?
No, indeed! for God above
Is great to grant as mighty to make, And creates the love to reward the love;
I claim you still, for my own love's sake!
Delayed, it may be, for more lives yet,
Through worlds I shall traverse, not a few; Much is to learn and much to forget Ere the time be come for taking you.
But the time will come — at last it will —
When, Evelyn Hope, what meant,
I shall say, In the lower earth, — in the years
long still, — That body and soul so pure and
Why your hair was amber I shall divine,
And your mouth of your own geranium's red, — And what you would do with me, in fine,
In the new life come in the old one's stead.
I have lived, shall I say, so much since . then,
Given up myself so many times, Gained me the gains of various men,
Ransacked the ages, spoiled the climes;
Yet one thing — one — in my soul's full scope, Either I missed, or itself missed me, —
And I want and find you, Evelyn Hope!
What is the issue? let us see!
I loved you, Evelyn, all the while; My heart seemed full as it could hold, —
There was space and to spare for the
frank young smile, And the red young mouth, and the
hair's young gold. So, hush! I will give you this leaf to
See, I shut it inside the sweet, cold hand.
There, that is our secret! go to sleep; You will wake, and remember, and understand.
[from In a Gondola.]
THE TWO KISSES.
The Moth's kiss, first!
Kiss me as if you made believe
You were not sure, this eve,
IHow my face, your flower, had
HOW THEY BROUGHT THE GOOD NEWS FROM GHENT TO MX.
I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris and he:
I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;
"Good speed!" cried the watch as the gate-bolts undrew,
"Speed!" echoed the wall to us galloping through.
Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,
And into the midnight we galloped abreast.
Not a word to each other; we kept
the great pace — Neck by neck, stride by stride, never
changing our place; I turned in my saddle and made its
girths tight, Then shortened each stirrup and set
the pique right, Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained
slacker the bit, Nor galloped less steadily Roland a
'Twas moonset at starting; but while
we drew near Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight
dawned clear; At Boom a great yellow star came
out to see; At Dtlffeld 'twas morning as plain as
could be; And from Mecheln church-steeple we
heard the half-chime — So Joris broke silence with "Yet
there is time!"
At Aerschot up leaped of a sudden the sun.
And against him the cattle stood black every one,
To stare through the mist at us galloping past;
And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,
With resolute shoulders, each butting away
The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray;