Legends and Lyrics - First Series
Adelaide Ann Proctor
Part 4 out of 4
And ere the summons to the strife,
Dreamed that the field was won.
I knew the echo of their voice,
The starry crowns they wore;
The vision made my soul rejoice
With the old thrill of yore.
I knew the perfume of their flowers;
The glorious shining rays
Around these happy smiling hours
Were lit in by-gone days.
Oh stay, I cried--bright visions, stay,
And leave me not forlorn!
But, smiling still, they passed away,
Like shadows of the morn.
One spirit still remained, and cried,
"Thy soul shall ne'er forget!"
He standeth ever by my side -
The phantom called Regret!
But still the spirits rose, and there
Were weary hours of pain,
And anxious hours of fear and care
Bound by an iron chain.
Dim shadows came of lonely hours,
That shunned the light of day,
And in the opening smile of flowers
Saw only quick decay.
Calm hours that sought the starry skies
For heavenly lore were there;
With folded hands and earnest eyes,
I knew the hours of prayer.
Stern hours that darkened the sun's light,
Heralds of coming woes,
With trailing wings, before my sight
From the dim past arose.
As each dark vision passed and spoke
I prayed it to depart:
At each some buried sorrow woke
And stirred within my heart.
Until these hours of pain and care
Lifted their tearful eyes,
Spread their dark pinions in the air
And passed into the skies.
VERSE: THE TWO INTERPRETERS
"The clouds are fleeting by, father,
Look in the shining west,
The great white clouds sail onward
Upon the sky's blue breast.
Look at a snowy eagle,
His wings are tinged with red,
And a giant dolphin follows him,
With a crown upon his head!"
The father spake no word, but watched
The drifting clouds roll by;
He traced a misty vision too
Upon the shining sky:
A shadowy form, with well-known grace
Of weary love and care,
Above the smiling child she held,
Shook down her floating hair.
"The clouds are changing now, father,
Mountains rise higher and higher!
And see where red and purple ships
Sail in a sea of fire!"
The father pressed the little hand
More closely in his own,
And watched a cloud-dream in the sky
That he could see alone:
Bright angels carrying far away
A white form, cold and dead,
Two held the feet, and two bore up
The flower-crowned, drooping head.
"See, father, see! a glory floods
The sky, and all is bright,
And clouds of every hue and shade
Burn in the golden light.
And now, above an azure lake,
Rise battlements and towers,
Where knights and ladies climb the heights,
All bearing purple flowers."
The father looked, and, with a pang
Of love and strange alarm,
Drew close the little eager child
Within his sheltering arm;
From out the clouds the mother looks
With wistful glance below,
She seems to seek the treasure left
On earth so long ago;
She holds her arms out to her child,
His cradle-song she sings:
The last rays of the sunset gleam
Upon her outspread wings.
Calm twilight veils the summer sky,
The shining clouds are gone;
In vain the merry laughing child
Still gaily prattles on;
In vain the bright stars, one by one,
On the blue silence start,
A dreary shadow rests to-night
Upon the father's heart
Hast thou o'er the clear heaven of thy soul
Seen tempests roll?
Hast thou watched all the hopes thou wouldst have won
Fade, one by one?
Wait till the clouds are past, then raise thine eyes
To bitter skies.
Hast thou gone sadly through a dreary night,
And found no light,
No guide, no star, to cheer thee through the plain -
No friend, save pain?
Wait, and thy soul shall see, when most forlorn,
Rise a new morn.
Hast thou beneath another's stern control
Bent thy sad soul,
And wasted sacred hopes and precious tears?
Yet calm thy fears,
For thou canst gain, even from the bitterest part,
A stronger heart.
Has Fate overwhelmed thee with some sudden blow?
Let thy tears flow;
But know when storms are past, the heavens appear
More pure, more clear;
And hope, when farthest from their shining rays,
For brighter days.
Hast thou found life a cheat, and worn in vain
Its iron chain?
Has thy soul bent beneath earth's heavy bond?
Look thou beyond;
If life is bitter--THERE for ever shine
Hopes more divine.
Art thou alone, and does thy soul complain
It lives in vain?
Not vainly does he live who can endure
Oh be thou sure,
That he who hopes and suffers here, can earn
A sure return.
Hast thou found nought within thy troubled life
Save inward strife?
Hast thou found all she promised thee, Deceit,
And Hope a cheat?
Endure, and there shall dawn within thy breast
VERSE: HOME AT LAST
Child, do not fear;
We shall reach our home to-night,
For the sky is clear,
And the waters bright;
And the breezes have scarcely strength
To unfold that little cloud,
That like a shroud
Spreads out its fleecy length
Then have no fear,
As we cleave our silver way
Through the waters clear.
Fear not, my child!
Though the waves are white and high,
And the storm blows wild
Through the gloomy sky;
On the edge of the western sea,
See that line of golden light,
Is the haven bright
Where home is awaiting thee;
Where, this peril past,
We shall rest from our stormy voyage
In peace at last.
Be not afraid;
But give me thy hand, and see
How the waves have made
A cradle for thee.
Night is come, dear, and we shall rest;
So turn from the angry skies,
And close thine eyes,
And lay thy head on my breast:
Child, do not weep;
In the calm, cold, purple depths
There we shall sleep.
Dwells within the soul of every Artist
More than all his effort can express;
And he knows the best remains unuttered;
Sighing at what WE call his success.
Vainly he may strive; he dare not tell us
All the sacred mysteries of the skies:
Vainly he may strive; the deepest beauty
Cannot be unveiled to mortal eyes.
And the more devoutly that he listens,
And the holier message that is sent,
Still the more his soul must struggle vainly,
Bowed beneath a noble discontent.
No great Thinker ever lived and taught you
All the wonder that his soul received;
No true Painter ever set on canvas
All the glorious vision he conceived.
No Musician ever held your spirit
Charmed and bound in his melodious chains,
But be sure he heard, and strove to render,
Feeble echoes of celestial strains.
No real Poet ever wove in numbers
All his dream; but the diviner part,
Hidden from all the world, spake to him only
In the voiceless silence of his heart.
So with Love: for Love and Art united
Are twin mysteries; different, yet the same:
Poor indeed would be the love of any
Who could find its full and perfect name.
Love may strive, but vain is the endeavour
All its boundless riches to enfold;
Still its tenderest, truest secret lingers
Ever in its deepest depths untold.
Things of Time have voices: speak and perish.
Art and Love speak--but their words must be
Like sighings of illimitable forests,
And waves of an unfathomable sea.
It is not because your heart is mine--mine only -
It is not because you chose me, weak and lonely,
For your own;
Not because the earth is fairer, and the skies
Spread above you
Are more radiant for the shining of your eyes -
That I love you!
It is not because the world's perplexed meaning
Grows more clear;
And the Parapets of Heaven, with angels leaning,
Seem more near;
And Nature sings of praise with all her voices
Since yours spoke,
Since within my silent heart, that now rejoices,
Nay, not even because your hand holds heart and life;
At your will
Soothing, hushing all its discord, making strife
Calm and still;
Teaching Trust to fold her wings, nor ever roam
From her nest;
Teaching Love that her securest, safest home
Must be Rest.
But because this human Love, though true and sweet -
Yours and mine -
Has been sent by Love more tender, more complete,
That it leads our hearts to rest at last in Heaven,
Far above you;
Do I take you as a gift that God has given -
- And I love you!
VERSE: REST AT EVENING
When the weariness of Life is ended,
And the task of our long day is done,
And the props, on which our hearts depended,
All have failed or broken, one by one;
Evening and our Sorrow's shadow blended
Telling us that peace is now begun.
How far back will seem the sun's first dawning,
And those early mists so cold and grey!
Half forgotten even the toil of morning,
And the heat and burthen of the day:
Flowers that we were tending, and weeds scorning,
All alike withered and cast away.
Vain will seem the impatient heart, which waited
Toils that gathered but too quickly round;
And the childish joy, so soon elated
At the path we thought none else had found;
And the foolish ardour, soon abated
By the storm which cast us to the ground.
Vain those pauses on the road, each seeming
As our final home and resting-place;
And the leaving them, while tears were streaming
Of eternal sorrow down our face;
And the hands we held, fond folly dreaming
That no future could their touch efface.
All will then be faded:- night will borrow
Stars of light to crown our perfect rest;
And the dim vague memory of faint sorrow
Just remain to show us all was best,
Then melt into a divine to-morrow:-
Oh, how poor a day to be so blest!
VERSE: A RETROSPECT
From this fair point of present bliss,
Where we together stand,
Let me look back once more, and trace
That long and desert land,
Wherein till now was cast my lot, and I could live, and thou wert
Strange that my heart could beat, and know
Alternate joy and pain,
That suns could roll from east to west,
And clouds could pass in rain,
And the slow hours without thee fleet, nor stay their noiseless
What had I then? a hope, that grew
Each hour more bright and dear,
The flush upon the eastern skies
That showed the sun was near:-
Now night has faded far away, my sun has risen, and it is day.
A dim Ideal of tender grace
In my soul reigned supreme;
Too noble and too sweet I thought
To live, save in a dream -
Within thy heart to-day it lies, and looks on me from thy dear
Some gentle spirit--Love I thought -
Built many a shrine of pain;
Though each false Idol fell to dust,
The worship was not vain,
But a faint radiant shadow cast back from our Love upon the Past.
And Grief, too, held her vigil there;
With unrelenting sway
Breaking my cloudy visions down,
Throwing my flowers away:-
I owe to her fond care alone that I may now be all thine own.
Fair Joy was there--her fluttering wings
At times she strove to raise;
Watching through long and patient nights,
Listening long eager days:
I know now that her heart and mine were waiting, Love, to welcome
Thus I can read thy name throughout,
And, now her task is done,
Can see that even that faded Past
Was thine, beloved one,
And so rejoice my Life may be all consecrated, dear, to thee.
VERSE: TRUE OR FALSE
So you think you love me, do you?
Well, it may be so;
But there are many ways of loving
I have learnt to know.
Many ways, and but one true way,
Which is very rare;
And the counterfeits look brightest,
Though they will not wear.
Yet they ring, almost, quite truly,
Last (with care) for long;
But in time must break, may shiver
At a touch of wrong:
Having seen what looked most real
Crumble into dust;
Now I chose that test and trial
Should precede my trust.
I have seen a love demanding
Time and hope and tears,
Chaining all the past, exacting
Bonds from future years;
Mind and heart, and joy and sorrow,
Claiming as its fee:
That was Love of Self, and never,
Never Love of me!
I have seen a love forgetting
All above, beyond,
Linking every dream and fancy
In a sweeter bond;
Counting every hour worthless,
Which was cold or free:-
That, perhaps, was--Love of Pleasure,
But not Love of me!
I have seen a love whose patience
Never turned aside,
Full of tender, fond devices;
Constant, even when tried;
Smallest boons were held as victories,
Drops that swelled the sea:
That I think was--Love of Power,
But not Love of me!
I have seen a love disdaining
Ease and pride and fame,
Burning even its own white pinions
Just to feed its flame;
Reigning thus, supreme, triumphant,
By the soul's decree;
That was--Love of Love, I fancy,
But not Love of me!
I have heard--or dreamt, it may be -
What Love is when true;
How to test and how to try it,
Is the gift of few:
These few say (or did I dream it?)
That true Love abides
In these very things, but always
Has a soul besides.
Lives among the false loves, knowing
Just their peace and strife:
Bears the self-same look, but always
Has an inner life.
Only a true heart can find it,
True as it is true,
Only eyes as clear and tender
Look it through and through.
If it dies, it will not perish
By Time's slow decay,
True Love only grows (they tell me)
Stronger, day by day:
Pain--has been its friend and comrade;
Fate--it can defy;
Only by its own sword, sometimes
Love can choose to die.
And its grave shall be more noble
And more sacred still,
Than a throne, where one less worthy
Reigns and rules at will.
Tell me then, do you dare offer
This true Love to me? . . .
Neither you nor I can answer;
We will--wait and see!
VERSE: GOLDEN WORDS
Some words are played on golden strings,
Which I so highly rate,
I cannot bear for meaner things
Their sound to desecrate.
For every day they are not meet,
Or for a careless tone;
They are for rarest, and most sweet,
And noblest use alone.
One word is POET: which is flung
So carelessly away,
When such as you and I have sung,
We hear it, day by day.
Men pay it for a tender phrase
Set in a cadenced rhyme:
I keep it as a crown of praise
To crown the kings of time.
And LOVE: the slightest feelings, stirred
By trivial fancy, seek
Expression in that golden word
They tarnish while they speak.
Nay, let the heart's slow, rare decree,
That word in reverence keep
Silence herself should only be
More sacred and more deep.
FOR EVER: men have grown at length
To use that word, to raise
Some feeble protest into strength,
Or turn some tender phrase.
It should be said in awe and fear
By true heart and strong will,
And burn more brightly year by year,
A starry witness still.
HONOUR: all trifling hearts are fond
Of that divine appeal,
And men, upon the slightest bond,
Set it as slighter seal.
That word should meet a noble foe
Upon a noble field,
And echo--like a deadly blow
Turned by a silver shield.
Trust me, the worth of words is such
They guard all noble things,
And that this rash irreverent touch
Has jarred some golden strings.
For what the lips have lightly said
The heart will lightly hold,
And things on which we daily tread
Are lightly bought and sold.
The sun of every day will bleach
The costliest purple hue.
And so our common daily speech
Discolours what was true.
But as you keep some thoughts apart
In sacred honoured care,
If in the silence of your heart,
Their utterance too be rare;
Then, while a thousand words repeat
Unmeaning clamours all,
Melodious golden echoes sweet
Shall answer when you call.
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