Poems by Jean Ingelow, In Two Volumes, Volume II.
Part 1 out of 8
Produced by Juliet Sutherland and PG Distributed Proofreaders
[Illustration: MISS INGELOW'S FORMER HOME.
BOSTON, LINCOLNSHIRE, ENG.
ST. BOTOLPH'S CHURCH IN THE DISTANCE.]
POEMS BY JEAN INGELOW
_TO JEAN INGELOW.
When youth was high, and life was new
And days sped musical and fleet,
She stood amid the morning dew,
And sang her earliest measures sweet,--
Sang as the lark sings, speeding fair
To touch and taste the purer air,
To gain a nearer view of Heaven;
'Twas then she sang "The Songs of Seven."
Now, farther on in womanhood,
With trained voice and ripened art,
She gently stands where once she stood,
And sings from out her deeper heart.
Sing on, dear Singer! sing again;
And we will listen to the strain,
Till soaring earth greets bending Heaven,
And seven-fold songs grow seventy-seven.
_IN TWO VOLUMES_
AUTHOR'S COMPLETE EDITION.
CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
ECHO AND THE FERRY
PRELUDES TO A PENNY READING
IN THE NURSERY
THE AUSTRALIAN BELL-BIRD
LOSS AND WASTE
ON A PICTURE
THE SLEEP OF SIGISMUND
A VINE-ARBOUR IN THE FAR WEST
LOVERS AT THE LAKE SIDE
THE WHITE MOON
THE LOVER PLEADS
SONG IN THREE PARTS
'IF I FORGET THEE, O JERUSALEM'
NATURE, FOR NATURE'S SAKE
SERIOUS POEMS, AND SONGS AND POEMS OF LOVE AND CHILDHOOD.
LETTERS ON LIFE AND THE MORNING
THE MONITIONS OF THE UNSEEN
THE SHEPHERD LADY
POEMS ON THE DEATHS OF THREE CHILDREN.
THE SNOWDROP MONUMENT (IN LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL)
THE MEASURELESS GULFS OF AIR ARE FULL OF THEE
THOU WERT FAR OFF AND IN THE SIGHT OF HEAVEN
THICK ORCHARDS ALL IN WHITE
SWEET ARE HIS WAYS WHO RULES ABOVE
O NIGHT OF NIGHTS
DEAR IS THE LOST WIFE TO A LONE MAN'S HEART
WEEPING AND WAILING NEEDS MUST BE
JESUS, THE LAMB OF GOD
THOU HAST BEEN ALWAY GOOD TO ME
THOU THAT SLEEPEST NOT AFRAID
NOW WINTER PAST, THE WHITE-THORN BOWER
SUCH AS HAVE NOT GOLD TO BRING THEE
A MORN OF GUILT, AN HOUR OF DOOM
MARY OF MAGDALA
WOULD I, TO SAVE MY DEAR CHILD?
AT ONE AGAIN
ON THE BORDERS OF CANNOCK CHASE
AN ANCIENT CHESS KING
COMFORT IN THE NIGHT
THOUGH ALL GREAT DEEDS
A SNOW MOUNTAIN
A BIRTHDAY WALK
NOT IN VAIN I WAITED
A GLEANING SONG
WITH A DIAMOND
A WINTER SONG
THE MARINER'S CAVE
THE LONG WHITE SEAM
AN OLD WIFE'S SONG
COLD AND QUIET
MIDSUMMER NIGHT, NOT DARK, NOT LIGHT
THE BRIDEGROOM TO HIS BRIDE
THE FAIRY WOMAN'S SONG
ABOVE THE CLOUDS
SLEEP AND TIME
BEES AND OTHER-FELLOW-CREATURES
THE GYPSY'S SELLING SONG
A WOOING SONG
A COURTING SONG
LOVE'S THREAD OF GOLD
THE LEAVES OF LIGN ALOES
THE DAYS WITHOUT ALLOY
FEATHERS AND MOSS
ON THE ROCKS BY ABERDEEN
LIKE A LAVEROCK IN THE LIFT
SONG FOR A BABE
GIVE US LOVE AND GIVE US PEACE
THE TWO MARGARETS
MARGARET BY THE MERE SIDE
MARGARET IN THE XEBEC
A STORY OF DOOM
_His blew His winds, and they were scattered._
'One soweth and another reapeth.'
Too true, too true. One soweth--unaware
Cometh a reaper stealthily while he dreams--
Bindeth the golden sheaf, and in his bosom
As 't were between the dewfall and the dawn
Bears it away. Who other was to blame?
Is it I? Is it I?--No verily, not I,
'T was a good action, and I smart therefore;
Oblivion of a righteous enmity
Wrought me this wrong. I pay with my self ruth
That I had ruth toward mine enemy;
It needed not to slay mine enemy,
Only to let him lie and succourless
Drift to the foot o' the Everlasting Throne;
Being mine enemy, he had not accused
One of my nation there of unkind deeds
Or ought the way of war forbids.
I will not think upon it. Yet she was--
O, she was dear; my dutiful, dear child.
One soweth--Nay, but I will tell this out,
The first fyte was the best, I call it such
For now as some old song men think on it.
I dwell where England narrows running north;
And while our hay was cut came rumours up
Humming and swarming round our heads like bees:
'Drake from the bay of Cadiz hath come home,
And they are forth, the Spaniards with a force
'The Prince of Parma, couched
At Dunkirk, e'en by torchlight makes to toil
His shipwright thousands--thousands in the ports
Of Flanders and Brabant. An hundred hendes
Transports to his great squadron adding, all
For our confusion.'
'England's great ally
Henry of France, by insurrection fallen,
Of him the said Prince Parma mocking cries,
He shall not help the Queen of England now
Not even with his tears, more needing them
To weep his own misfortune.'
Was that all
The truth? Not half, and yet it was enough
(Albeit not half that half was well believed),
For all the land stirred in the half belief
As dreamers stir about to wake; and now
Comes the Queen's message, all her lieges bid
To rise, 'lieftenants, and the better sort
Of gentlemen' whereby the Queen's grace meant,
As it may seem the sort that willed to rise
And arm, and come to aid her.
Safety for us, my neighbours and near friends,
The peril lay along our channel coast
And marked the city, undefended fair
Rich London. O to think of Spanish mail
Ringing--of riotous conquerors in her street,
Chasing and frighting (would there were no more
To think on) her fair wives and her fair maids.
--But hope is fain to deem them forth of her.
Then Spain to the sacking; then they tear away
Arras and carved work. O then they break
And toss, and mar her quaint orfeverie
Priceless--then split the wine kegs, spill the mead,
Trail out the pride of ages in the dust;
Turn over with pikes her silken merchandise,
Strip off the pictures of her kings, and spoil
Their palaces that nigh five hundred years
Have rued no alien footsteps on the floor,
And work--for the days of miracle are gone--
All unimaginable waste and woe.
Some cried, 'But England hath the better cause;
We think not those good days indeed are done;
We look to Heaven for aid on England's side.'
Then other, 'Nay, the harvest is above,
God comforts there His own, and ill men leaves
To run long scores up in this present world,
And pay in another.
Look not here for aid.
Latimer, poor old saint, died in the street
With nigh, men say, three hundred of his kind,
All bid to look for worse death after death,
Succourless, comfortless, unfriended, curst.
Mary, and Gardiner, and the Pope's man Pole
Died upon down, lulled in a silken shade,
Soothed with assurance of a waiting heaven,
And Peter peering through the golden gate,
With his gold key in 's hand to let them in.'
'Nay, leave,' quoth I, 'the martyrs to their heaven,
And all who live the better that they died.
But look you now, a nation hath no heaven,
A nation's life and work and wickedness
And punishment--or otherwise, I say
A nation's life and goodness and reward
Are here. And in my nation's righteous cause
I look for aid, and cry, SO HELP ME GOD
As I will help my righteous nation now
With all the best I have, and know, and am,
I trust Thou wilt not let her light be quenched;
I go to aid, and if I fall--I fall,
And, God of nations, leave my soul to Thee.'
Many did say like words, and all would give
Of gold, of weapons, and of horses that
They had to hand or on the spur o' the time
Could gather. My fair dame did sell her rings,
So others. And they sent us well equipped
Who minded to be in the coming fray
Whether by land or sea; my hope the last,
For I of old therewith was conversant.
Then as we rode down southward all the land
Was at her harvesting. The oats were cut
Ere we were three days down, and then the wheat,
And the wide country spite of loathed threat
Was busy. There was news to hearten us:
The Hollanders were coming roundly in
With sixty ships of war, all fierce, and full
Of spleen, for not alone our sake but theirs
Willing to brave encounter where they might.
So after five days we did sight the Sound,
And look on Plymouth harbour from the hill.
Then I full glad drew bridle, lighted straight,
Ran down and mingled with a waiting crowd.
Many stood gazing on the level deep
That scarce did tremble; 't was in hue as sloes
That hang till winter on a leafless bough,
So black bulged down upon it a great cloud
And probed it through and through with forked stabs
Incessant, and rolled on it thunder bursts
Till the dark water lowered as one afraid.
That was afar. The land and nearer sea
Lay sweltering in hot sunshine. The brown beach
Scarce whispered, for a soft incoming tide
Was gentle with it. Green the water lapped
And sparkled at all edges. The night-heavens
Are not more thickly speckled o'er with stars
Than that fair harbour with its fishing craft.
And crowds of galleys shooting to and fro
Did feed the ships of war with their stout crews,
And bear aboard fresh water, furniture
Of war, much lesser victual, sallets, fruit,
All manner equipment for the squadron, sails,
Also was chaffering on the Hoe,
Buying and bargaining, taking of leave
With tears and kisses, while on all hands pushed
Tall lusty men with baskets on their heads
Piled of fresh bread, and biscuit newly drawn.
Then shouts, 'The captains!'
Raleigh, Hawkins, Drake,
Old Martin Frobisher, and many more;
Howard, the Lord High Admiral, headed them--
They coming leisurely from the bowling green,
Elbowed their way. For in their stoutness loth
To hurry when ill news first brake on them,
They playing a match ashore--ill news I say,
'The Spaniards are toward'--while panic-struck
The people ran about them, Drake cries out,
Knowing their fear should make the danger worse,
'Spaniards, my masters! Let the Spaniards wait.
Fall not a-shouting for the boats; is time
To play the match out, ay to win, and then
To beat the Spaniards.'
So the rest gave way
At his insistance, playing that afternoon
The bravest match (one saith) was ever scored.
'T was no time lost; nay, not a moment lost;
For look you, when the winning cast was made,
The town was calm, the anchors were all up,
The boats were manned to row them each to his ship,
The lowering cloud in the offing had gone south
Against the wind, and all was work, stir, heed,
Nothing forgot, nor grudged, nor slurred, and most
Men easy at heart as those brave sailors seemed.
And specially the women had put by
On a sudden their deep dread; yon Cornish coast
Neared of his insolency by the foe,
With his high seacastles numerous, seaforts
Many, his galleys out of number, manned
Each by three hundred slaves chained to the oar;
All his strong fleet of lesser ships, but great
As any of ours--why that same Cornish coast
Might have lain farther than the far west land,
So had a few stout-hearted looks and words
Wasted the meaning, chilled the menace of
That frightful danger, imminent, hard at hand.
'The captains come, the captains!' and I turned
As they drew on. I marked the urgency
Flashing in each man's eye: fain to be forth
But willing to be held at leisure. Then
Cried a fair woman of the better sort
To Howard, passing by her pannier'd ass,
'Apples, Lord Admiral, good captains all,
Look you, red apples sharp and sweet are these,'
Quoth he a little chafed, 'Let be, let be,
No time is this for bargaining, good dame.
Let be;' and pushing past, 'Beshrew thy heart
(And mine that I should say it), bargain! nay.
I meant not bargaining,' she falters; crying,
'I brought them my poor gift. Pray you now take,
He stops, and with a childlike smile
That makes the dame amend, stoops down to choose,
While I step up that love not many words,
'What should he do,' quoth I, 'to help this need
That hath a bag of money, and good will?'
'Charter a ship,' he saith, nor e'er looks up,
'And put aboard her victual, tackle, shot,
Ought he can lay his hand on--look he give
Wide sea room to the Spanish hounds, make sail
For ships of ours, to ease of wounded men,
And succour with that freight he brings withal.'
His foot, yet speaking, was aboard his boat,
His comrades, each red apples in the hand,
Come after, and with blessings manifold
Cheering, and cries, 'Good luck, good luck!' they speed.
'T was three years three months past.
O yet methinks
I hear that thunder crash i' the offing; hear
Their words who when the crowd melted away
Gathered together. Comrades we of old,
About to adventure us at Howard's best
On the unsafe sea. For he, a Catholic,
As is my wife, and therefore my one child,
Detested and defied th' most Catholic King
Philip. He, trusted of her grace--and cause
She had, the nation following suit--he deemed,
'T was whisper'd, ay and Raleigh, and Francis Drake
No less, the event of battle doubtfuller
Than English tongue might own; the peril dread
As ought in this world ever can be deemed
That is not yet past praying for.
So good. As birds awaked do stretch their wings
The ships did stretch forth sail, full clad they towered
And right into the sunset went, hull down
E'en with the sun.
To us in twilight left,
Glory being over, came despondent thought
That mocked men's eager act. From many a hill,
As if the land complained to Heaven, they sent
A towering shaft of murky incense high,
Livid with black despair in lieu of praise.
The green wood hissed at every beacon's edge
That widen'd fear. The smell of pitchpots fled
Far over the field, and tongues of fire leaped up,
Ay, till all England woke, and knew, and wailed.
But we i' the night through that detested reek
Rode eastward. Every mariner's voice was given
'Gainst any fear for the western shires. The cry
Was all, 'They sail for Calais roads, and thence,
The goal is London.'
Nought slept, man nor beast.
Ravens and rooks flew forth, and with black wings,
Affrighted, swept our eyes. Pale eddying moths
Came by in crowds and whirled them on the flames.
We rode till pierced those beacon fires the shafts
O' the sun, and their red smouldering ashes dulled.
Beside them, scorched, smoke-blackened, weary, leaned
Men that had fed them, dropped their tired arms
And also through that day we rode,
Till reapers at their nooning sat awhile
On the shady side of corn-shocks: all the talk
Of high, of low, or them that went or stayed
Determined but unhopeful; desperate
To strike a blow for England ere she fell.
And ever loomed the Spaniard to our thought,
Still waxed the fame of that great Armament--
New horsemen joining, swelled it more and more--
Their bulky ship galleons having five decks,
Zabraes, pataches, galleys of Portugal,
Caravels rowed with oars, their galliasses
Vast, and complete with chapels, chambers, towers.
And in the said ships of free mariners
Eight thousand, and of slaves two thousand more,
An army twenty thousand strong. O then
Of culverin, of double culverin,
Ordnance and arms, all furniture of war,
Victual, and last their fierceness and great spleen,
Willing to founder, burn, split, wreck themselves,
But they would land, fight, overcome, and reign.
Then would we count up England. Set by theirs,
Her fleet as walnut shells. And a few pikes
Stored in the belfries, and a few brave men
For wielding them. But as the morning wore,
And we went ever eastward, ever on,
Poured forth, poured down, a marching multitude
With stir about the towns; and waggons rolled
With offerings for the army and the fleet.
Then to our hearts valour crept home again,
The loathed name of Alva fanning it;
Alva who did convert from our old faith
With many a black deed done for a white cause
(So spake they erewhile to it dedicate)
Them whom not death could change, nor fire, nor sword,
To thirst for his undoing.
Ay, as I am a Christian man, our thirst
Was comparable with Queen Mary's. All
The talk was of confounding heretics,
The heretics the Spaniards. Yet methought,
'O their great multitude! Not harbour room
On our long coast for that great multitude.
They land--for who can let them--give us battle,
And after give us burial. Who but they,
For he that liveth shall be flying north
To bear off wife and child. Our very graves
Shall Spaniards dig, and in the daisied grass
Trample them down.'
Ay, whoso will be brave,
Let him be brave beforehand. After th' event
If by good pleasure of God it go as then
He shall be brave an' liketh him. I say
Was no man but that deadly peril feared.
Nights riding two. Scant rest. Days riding three,
Then Foulkstone. Need is none to tell all forth
The gathering stores and men, the charter'd ship
That I, with two, my friends, got ready for sea.
Ready she was, so many another, small
But nimble; and we sailing hugged the shore,
Scarce venturing out, so Drake had willed, a league,
And running westward aye as best we might,
When suddenly--behold them!
On they rocked,
Majestical, slow, sailing with the wind.
O such a sight! O such a sight, mine eyes,
Never shall you see more!
In crescent form,
A vasty crescent nigh two leagues across
From horn to horn, the lesser ships within,
The great without, they did bestride as 't were
And make a township on the narrow seas.
It was about the point of dawn: and light.
All grey the sea, and ghostly grey the ships;
And after in the offing rocked our fleet,
Having lain quiet in the summer dark.
O then methought, 'Flash, blessed gold of dawn,
And touch the topsails of our Admiral,
That he may after guide an emulous flock,
Old England's innocent white bleating lambs.
Let Spain within a pike's length hear them bleat,
Delivering of their pretty talk in a tongue
Whose meaning cries not for interpreter.'
And while I spoke, their topsails, friend and foe,
Glittered--and there was noise of guns; pale smoke
Lagged after, curdling on the sun-fleck'd main.
And after that? What after that, my soul?
Who ever saw weakling white butterflies
Chasing of gallant swans, and charging them,
And spitting at them long red streaks of flame?
We saw the ships of England even so
As in my vaunting wish that mocked itself
With 'Fool, O fool, to brag at the edge of loss.'
We saw the ships of England even so
Run at the Spaniards on a wind, lay to,
Bespatter them with hail of battle, then
Take their prerogative of nimble steerage,
Fly off, and ere the enemy, heavy in hand,
Delivered his reply to the wasteful wave
That made its grave of foam, race out of range,
Then tack and crowd all sail, and after them
So harassed they that mighty foe,
Moving in all its bravery to the east.
And some were fine with pictures of the saints,
Angels with flying hair and peaked wings,
And high red crosses wrought upon their sails;
From every mast brave flag or ensign flew,
And their long silken pennons serpented
Loose to the morning. And the galley slaves,
Albeit their chains did clink, sang at the oar.
The sea was striped e'en like a tiger skin
With wide ship wakes.
And many cried, amazed,
'What means their patience?'
'Lo you,' others said,
'They pay with fear for their great costliness.
Some of their costliest needs must other guard;
Once guarded and in port look to yourselves,
They count one hundred and fifty. It behoves
Better they suffer this long running fight--
Better for them than that they give us battle,
And so delay the shelter of their roads.
'Two of their caravels we sank, and one
(Fouled with her consort in the rigging) took
Ere she could catch the wind when she rode free.
And we have riddled many a sail, and split
Of spars a score or two. What then? To-morrow
They look to straddle across the strait, and hold
Having aye Calais for a shelter--hold
Our ships in fight. To-morrow shall give account
For our to-day. They will not we pass north
To meddle with Parma's flotilla; their hope
Being Parma, and a convoy they would be
For his flat boats that bode invasion to us;
And if he reach to London--ruin, defeat.'
Three fleets the sun went down on, theirs of fame
Th' Armada. After space old England's few;
And after that our dancing cockle-shells,
The volunteers. They took some pride in us,
For we were nimble, and we brought them powder,
Shot, weapons. They were short of these. Ill found,
Ill found. The bitter fruit of evil thrift.
But while obsequious, darting here and there,
We took their messages from ship to ship,
From ship to shore, the moving majesties
Made Calais Roads, cast anchor, all their less
In the middle ward; their greater ships outside
Impregnable castles fearing not assault.
So did we read their thought, and read it wrong,
While after the running fight we rode at ease,
For many (as is the way of Englishmen)
Having made light of our stout deeds, and light
O' the effects proceeding, saw these spread
To view. The Spanish Admiral's mighty host,
Albeit not broken, harass'd.
Some did tow
Others that we had plagued, disabled, rent;
Many full heavily damaged made their berths.
Then did the English anchor out of range.
To close was not their wisdom with such foe,
Rather to chase him, following in the rear.
Ay, truly they were giants in our eyes
And in our own. They took scant heed of us,
And we looked on, and knew not what to think,
Only that we were lost men, a lost Isle,
In every Spaniard's mind, both great and small.
But no such thought had place in Howard's soul,
And when 't was dark, and all their sails were furled,
When the wind veered a few points to the west,
And the tide turned ruffling along the roads,
He sent eight fireships forging down to them.
Blood-red pillars of reek
They looked on that vast host and troubled it,
As on th' Egyptian host One looked of old.
Then all the heavens were rent with a great cry,
The red avengers went right on, right on,
For none could let them; then was ruin, reek, flame;
Against th' unwieldy huge leviathans
They drave, they fell upon them as wild beasts,
And all together they did plunge and grind,
Their reefed sails set a-blazing, these flew loose
And forth like banners of destruction sped.
It was to look on as the body of hell
Seething; and some, their cables cut, ran foul
Of one the other, while the ruddy fire
Sped on aloft. One ship was stranded. One
Foundered, and went down burning; all the sea
Red as an angry sunset was made fell
With smoke and blazing spars that rode upright,
For as the fireships burst they scattered forth
Full dangerous wreckage. All the sky they scored
With flying sails and rocking masts, and yards
Licked of long flames. And flitting tinder sank
In eddies on the plagued mixed mob of ships
That cared no more for harbour, and were fain
At any hazard to be forth, and leave
Their berths in the blood-red haze.
It was at twelve
O' the clock when this fell out, for as the eight
Were towed, and left upon the friendly tide
To stalk like evil angels over the deep
And stare upon the Spaniards, we did hear
Their midnight bells. It was at morning dawn
After our mariners thus had harried them
I looked my last upon their fleet,--and all,
That night had cut their cables, put to sea,
And scattering wide towards the Flemish coast
Did seem to make for Greveline.
As for us,
The captains told us off to wait on them,
Bearers of wounded enemies and friends,
Bearers of messages, bearers of store.
We saw not ought, but heard enough: we heard
(And God be thanked) of that long scattering chase
And driving of Sidonia from his hope,
Parma, who could not ought without his ships
And looked for them to break the Dutch blockade,
He meanwhile chafing lion-like in his lair.
We heard--and he--for all one summer day,
Fenning and Drake and Raynor, Fenton, Cross,
And more, by Greveline, where they once again
Did get the wind o' the Spaniards, noise of guns.
For coming with the wind, wielding themselves
Which way they listed (while in close array
The Spaniards stood but on defence), our own
Went at them, charged them high and charged them sore,
And gave them broadside after broadside. Ay,
Till all the shot was spent both great and small.
It failed; and in regard of that same want
They thought it not convenient to pursue
Their vessels farther.
They were huge withal,
And might not be encountered one to one,
But close conjoined they fought, and poured great store
Of ordnance at our ships, though many of theirs,
Shot thorow and thorow, scarce might keep afloat.
Many were captured fighting, many sank.
This news they brought returned perforce, and left
The Spaniards forging north. Themselves did watch
The river mouth, till Howard, his new store
Gathered, encounter coveting, once more
Made after them with Drake.
And lo! the wind
Got up to help us. He yet flying north
(Their doughty Admiral) made all his wake
To smoke, and would not end to fight, but strewed
The ocean with his wreckage. And the wind
Drave him before it, and the storm was fell,
And he went up to th' uncouth northern sea.
There did our mariners leave him. Then did joy
Run like a sunbeam over the land, and joy
Rule in the stout heart of a regnant Queen.
But now the counsel came, 'Every man home,
For after Scotland rounded, when he curves
Southward, and all the batter'd armament,
What hinders on our undefended coast
To land where'er he listeth? Every man
And we mounted and did open forth
Like a great fan, to east, to north, to west,
And rumour met us flying, filtering
Down through the border. News of wicked joy,
The wreckers rich in the Faroes, and the Isles
Orkney, and all the clansmen full of gear
Gathered from helpless mariners tempted in
To their undoing; while a treacherous crew
Let the storm work upon their lives its will,
Spoiled them and gathered all their riches up.
Then did they meet like fate from Irish kernes,
Who dealt with them according to their wont.
In a great storm of wind that tore green leaves
And dashed them wet upon me, came I home.
Then greeted me my dame, and Rosamund,
Our one dear child, the heir of these my fields--
That I should sigh to think it! There, no more.
Being right weary I betook me straight
To longed-for sleep, and I did dream and dream
Through all that dolourous storm; though noise of guns
Daunted the country in the moonless night,
Yet sank I deep and deeper in the dream
And took my fill of rest.
A voice, a touch,
'Wake.' Lo! my wife beside me, her wet hair
She wrung with her wet hands, and cried, 'A ship!
I have been down the beach. O pitiful!
A Spanish ship ashore between the rocks,
And none to guide our people. Wake.'
Raised on mine elbow looked; it was high day;
In the windy pother seas came in like smoke
That blew among the trees as fine small rain,
And then the broken water sun-besprent
Glitter'd, fell back and showed her high and fast
A caravel, a pinnace that methought
To some great ship had longed; her hap alone
Of all that multitude it was to drive
Between this land of England her right foe,
And that most cruel, where (for all their faith
Was one) no drop of water mote they drink
For love of God nor love of gold.
And hasted; I was soon among the folk,
But late for work. The crew, spent, faint, and bruised
Saved for the most part of our men, lay prone
In grass, and women served them bread and mead,
Other the sea laid decently alone
Ready for burial. And a litter stood
In shade. Upon it lying a goodly man,
The govourner or the captain as it seemed,
Dead in his stiff gold-broider'd bravery,
And epaulet and sword. They must have loved
That man, for many had died to bring him in,
Their boats stove in were stranded here and there.
In one--but how I know not--brought they him,
And he was laid upon a folded flag,
Many times doubled for his greater ease,
That was our thought--and we made signs to them
He should have sepulture. But when they knew
They must needs leave him, for some marched them off
For more safe custody, they made great moan.
After, with two my neighbours drawing nigh,
One of them touched the Spaniard's hand and said,
'Dead is he but not cold;' the other then,
'Nay in good truth methinks he be not dead.'
Again the first, 'An' if he breatheth yet
He lies at his last gasp.' And this went off,
And left us two, that by the litter stayed,
Looking on one another, and we looked
(For neither willed to speak), and yet looked on.
Then would he have me know the meet was fixed
For nine o' the clock, and to be brief with you
He left me. And I had the Spaniard home.
What other could be done? I had him home.
Men on his litter bare him, set him down
In a fair chamber that was nigh the hall.
And yet he waked not from his deathly swoon,
Albeit my wife did try her skill, and now
Bad lay him on a bed, when lo the folds
Of that great ensign covered store of gold,
Rich Spanish ducats, raiment, Moorish blades
Chased in right goodly wise, and missals rare,
And other gear. I locked it for my part
Into an armoury, and that fair flag
(While we did talk full low till he should end)
Spread over him. Methought, the man shall die
Under his country's colours; he was brave,
His deadly wound to that doth testify.
And when 't was seemly order'd, Rosamund,
My daughter, who had looked not yet on death,
Came in, a face all marvel, pity, and dread--
Lying against her shoulder sword-long flowers,
White hollyhocks to cross upon his breast.
Slowly she turned as of that sight afeard,
But while with daunted heart she moved anigh,
His eyelids quiver'd, quiver'd then the lip,
And he, reviving, with a sob looked up
And set on her the midnight of his eyes.
Then she, in act to place the burial gift
Bending above him, and her flaxen hair
Fall'n to her hand, drew back and stood upright
Comely and tall, her innocent fair face
Cover'd with blushes more of joy than shame.
'Father,' she cried, 'O father, I am glad.
Look you! the enemy liveth.' ''T is enough,
My maiden,' quoth her mother, 'thou may'st forth,
But say an Ave first for him with me.'
Then they with hands upright at foot o' his bed
Knelt, his dark dying eyes at gaze on them,
Till as I think for wonder at them, more
Than for his proper strength, he could not die.
So in obedient wise my daughter risen,
And going, let a smile of comforting cheer
Lift her sweet lip, and that was all of her
For many a night and day that he beheld.
And then withal my dame, a leech of skill,
Tended the Spaniard fain to heal his wound,
Her women aiding at their best. And he
'Twixt life and death awaken'd in the night
Full oft in his own tongue would make his moan,
And when he whisper'd any word I knew,
If I was present, for to pleasure him,
Then made I repetition of the same.
'Cordova,' quoth he faintly, 'Cordova,'
'T was the first word he mutter'd. 'Ay, we know,'
Quoth I, 'the stoutness of that fight ye made
Against the Moors and their Mahometry,
And dispossess'd the men of fame, the fierce
Khalifs of Cordova--thy home belike,
Thy city. A fair city Cordova.'
Then after many days, while his wound healed,
He with abundant seemly sign set forth
His thanks, but as for language had we none,
And oft he strove and failed to let us know
Some wish he had, but could not, so a week,
Two weeks went by. Then Rosamund my girl,
Hearing her mother plain on this, she saith,
'So please you, madam, show the enemy
A Psalter in our English tongue, and fetch
And give him that same book my father found
Wrapped in the ensign. Are they not the same
Those holy words? The Spaniard being devout,
He needs must know them.'
'Peace, thou pretty fool!
Is this a time to teach an alien tongue?'
Her mother made for answer. 'He is sick,
The Spaniard.' 'Cry you mercy,' quoth my girl,
'But I did think 't were easy to let show
How both the Psalters are of meaning like;
If he know Latin, and 't is like he doth,
So might he choose a verse to tell his thought.'
Then said I (ay, I did!) 'The girl shall try,'
And straight I took her to the Spaniard's side,
And he, admiring at her, all his face
Changed to a joy that almost showed as fear,
So innocent holy she did look, so grave
Her pitiful eyes.
She sat beside his bed,
He covered with the ensign yet; and took
And showed the Psalters both, and she did speak
Her English words, but gazing was enough
For him at her sweet dimple, her blue eyes
That shone, her English blushes. Rosamund,
My beautiful dear child. He did but gaze,
And not perceive her meaning till she touched
His hand, and in her Psalter showed the word.
Then was all light to him; he laughed for joy,
And took the Latin Missal. O full soon,
Alas, how soon, one read the other's thought!
Before she left him, she had learned his name
Alonzo, told him hers, and found the care
Made night and day uneasy--Cordova,
There dwelt his father, there his kin, nor knew
Whether he lived or died, whether in thrall
To the Islanders for lack of ransom pined
Or rued the galling yoke of slavery.
So did he cast him on our kindness. I--
And care not who may know it--I was kind,
And for that our stout Queen did think foul scorn
To kill the Spanish prisoners, and to guard
So many could not, liefer being to rid
Our country of them than to spite their own,
I made him as I might that matter learn,
Eking scant Latin with my daughter's wit,
And told him men let forth and driven forth
Did crowd our harbours for the ports of Spain,
By one of whom, he, with good aid of mine,
Should let his tidings go, and I plucked forth
His ducats that a meet reward might be.
Then he, the water standing in his eyes,
Made old King David's words due thanks convey.
Then Rosamund, this all made plain, arose
And curtsey'd to the Spaniard. Ah, methinks
I yet behold her, gracious, innocent,
And flaxen-haired, and blushing maidenly,
When turning she retired, and his black eyes,
That hunger'd after her, did follow on;
And I bethought me, 'Thou shalt see no more,
Thou goodly enemy, my one ewe lamb.'
O, I would make short work of this. The wound
Healed, and the Spaniard rose, then could he stand,
And then about his chamber walk at ease.
Now we had counsell'd how to have him home,
And that same trading vessel beating up
The Irish Channel at my will, that same
I charter'd for to serve me in the war,
Next was I minded should mine enemy
Deliver to his father, and his land.
Daily we looked for her, till in our cove,
Upon that morn when first the Spaniard walked,
Behold her rocking; and I hasted down
And left him waiting in the house.
Woe 's me!
All being ready speed I home, and lo
My Rosamund, that by the Spaniard sat
Upon a cushion'd settle, book in hand.
I needs must think how in the deep alcove
Thick chequer'd shadows of the window-glass
Did fall across her kirtle and her locks,
For I did see her thus no more.
Her Psalter, and he his, and slowly read
Till he would stop her at the needed word.
'O well is thee,' she read, my Rosamund,
'O well is thee, and happy shalt thou be.
Thy wife--' and there he stopped her, and he took
And kissed her hand, and show'd in 's own a ring,
Taking no heed of me, no heed at all.
Then I burst forth, the choler red i' my face
When I did see her blush, and put it on.
'Give me,' quoth I, and Rosamund, afraid,
Gave me the ring. I set my heel on it,
Crushed it, and sent the rubies scattering forth,
And did in righteous anger storm at him.
'What! what!' quoth I, 'before her father's eyes,
Thou universal villain, thou ingrate,
Thou enemy whom I shelter'd, fed, restored,
Most basest of mankind!' And Rosamund,
Arisen, her forehead pressed against mine arm,
And 'Father,' cries she, 'father.'
And I stormed
At him, while in his Spanish he replied
As one would speak me fair. 'Thou Spanish hound!'
'Father,' she pleaded. 'Alien vile,' quoth I,
'Plucked from the death, wilt thou repay me thus?
It is but three times thou hast set thine eyes
On this my daughter.' 'Father,' moans my girl;
And I, not willing to be so withstood,
Spoke roughly to her. Then the Spaniard's eyes
Blazed--then he stormed at me in his own tongue,
And all his Spanish arrogance and pride
Broke witless on my wrathful English. Then
He let me know, for I perceived it well,
He reckon'd him mine equal, thought foul scorn
Of my displeasure, and was wroth with me
As I with him. 'Father,' sighed Rosamund.
'Go, get thee to thy mother, girl,' quoth I.
And slowly, slowly, she betook herself
Down the long hall; in lowly wise she went
And made her moans.
But when my girl was gone
I stood at fault, th' occasion master'd me;
Belike it master'd him, for both felt mute.
I calmed me, and he calmed him as he might.
For I bethought me I was yet an host,
And he bethought him on the worthiness
Of my first deeds.
So made I sign to him.
The tide was up, and soon I had him forth,
Delivered him his goods, commended him
To the captain o' the vessel, then plucked off
My hat, in seemly fashion taking leave,
And he was not outdone, but every way
Gave me respect, and on the deck we two
Parted, as I did hope, to meet no more.
Alas! my Rosamund, my Rosamund!
She did not weep, no. Plain upon me, no.
Her eyes mote well have lost the trick of tears:
As new-washed flowers shake off the down-dropt rain,
And make denial of it, yet more blue
And fair of favour afterward, so they.
The wild woodrose was not more fresh of blee
Than her soft dimpled cheek: but I beheld,
Come home, a token hung about her neck,
Sparkling upon her bosom for his sake,
Her love, the Spaniard, she denied it not,
All unaware, good sooth, such love was bale.
And all that day went like another day,
Ay, all the next; then was I glad at heart;
Methought, 'I am glad thou wilt not waste thy youth
Upon an alien man, mine enemy,
Thy nation's enemy. In truth, in truth,
This likes me very well. My most dear child,
Forget yon grave dark mariner. The Lord
Everlasting,' I besought, 'bring it to pass.'
Stealeth a darker day within my hall,
A winter day of wind and driving foam.
They tell me that my girl is sick--and yet
Not very sick. I may not hour by hour,
More than one watching of a moon that wanes,
Make chronicle of change. A parlous change
When he looks back to that same moon at full.
Ah! ah! methought, 't will pass. It did not pass,
Though never she made moan. I saw the rings
Drop from her small white wasted hand. And I,
Her father, tamed of grief, I would have given
My land, my name to have her as of old.
Ay, Rosamund I speak of with the small
White face. Ay, Rosamund. O near as white,
And mournfuller by much, her mother dear
Drooped by her couch; and while of hope and fear
Lifted or left, as by a changeful tide,
We thought 'The girl is better,' or we thought
'The girl will die,' that jewel from her neck
She drew, and prayed me send it to her love;
A token she was true e'en to the end.
What matter'd now? But whom to send, and how
To reach the man? I found an old poor priest,
Some peril 't was for him and me, she writ
My pretty Rosamund her heart's farewell,
She kissed the letter, and that old poor priest,
Who had eaten of my bread, and shelter'd him
Under my roof in troublous times, he took,
And to content her on this errand went,
While she as done with earth did wait the end.
Mankind bemoan them on the bitterness
Of death. Nay, rather let them chide the grief
Of living, chide the waste of mother-love
For babes that joy to get away to God;
The waste of work and moil and thought and thrift
And father-love for sons that heed it not,
And daughters lost and gone. Ay, let them chide
These. Yet I chide not. That which I have done
Was rightly done; and what thereon befell
Could make no right a wrong, e'en were 't to do
I will be brief. The days drag on,
My soul forebodes her death, my lonely age.
Once I despondent in the moaning wood
Look out, and lo a caravel at sea,
A man that climbs the rock, and presently
I did greet him, proud no more.
He had braved durance, as I knew, ay death,
To land on th' Island soil. In broken words
Of English he did ask me how she fared.
Quoth I, 'She is dying, Spaniard; Rosamund
My girl will die;' but he is fain, saith he,
To talk with her, and all his mind to speak;
I answer, 'Ay, my whilome enemy,
But she is dying.' 'Nay, now nay,' quoth he,
'So be she liveth,' and he moved me yet
For answer; then quoth I, 'Come life, come death,
What thou wilt, say.'
Soon made we Rosamund
Aware, she lying on the settle, wan
As a lily in the shade, and while she not
Believed for marvelling, comes he roundly in,
The tall grave Spaniard, and with but one smile,
One look of ruth upon her small pale face,
All slowly as with unaccustom'd mouth,
Betakes him to that English he hath conned,
Setting the words out plain:
Love! An so please thee, I would be thy man.
By all the saints will I be good to thee.
Come! what think you, would she come? Ay, ay.
They love us, but our love is not their life.
For the dark mariner's love lived Rosamund.
Soon for his kiss she bloomed, smiled for his smile.
(The Spaniard reaped e'en as th' Evangel saith,
And bore in 's bosom forth my golden sheaf.)
She loved her father and her mother well,
But loved the Spaniard better. It was sad
To part, but she did part; and it was far
To go, but she did go. The priest was brought,
The ring was bless'd that bound my Rosamund,
She sailed, and I shall never see her more.
One soweth and another reapeth. Ay,
Too true! too true!
ECHO AND THE FERRY.
Ay, Oliver! I was but seven, and he was eleven;
He looked at me pouting and rosy. I blushed where I stood.
They had told us to play in the orchard (and I only seven!
A small guest at the farm); but he said, 'Oh, a girl was no good!'
So he whistled and went, he went over the stile to the wood.
It was sad, it was sorrowful! Only a girl--only seven!
At home in the dark London smoke I had not found it out.
The pear-trees looked on in their white, and blue birds flash'd about,
And they too were angry as Oliver. Were they eleven?
I thought so. Yes, everyone else was eleven--eleven!
So Oliver went, but the cowslips were tall at my feet,
And all the white orchard with fast-falling blossom was litter'd;
And under and over the branches those little birds twitter'd,
While hanging head downwards they scolded because I was seven.
A pity. A very great pity. One should be eleven.
But soon I was happy, the smell of the world was so sweet,
And I saw a round hole in an apple-tree rosy and old.
Then I knew! for I peeped, and I felt it was right they should scold!
Eggs small and eggs many. For gladness I broke into laughter;
And then some one else--oh, how softly!--came after, came after
With laughter--with laughter came after.
And no one was near us to utter that sweet mocking call,
That soon very tired sank low with a mystical fall.
But this was the country--perhaps it was close under heaven;
Oh, nothing so likely; the voice might have come from it even.
I knew about heaven. But this was the country, of this
Light, blossom, and piping, and flashing of wings not at all.
Not at all. No. But one little bird was an easy forgiver:
She peeped, she drew near as I moved from her domicile small,
Then flashed down her hole like a dart--like a dart from the quiver.
And I waded atween the long grasses and felt it was bliss.
--So this was the country; clear dazzle of azure and shiver
And whisper of leaves, and a humming all over the tall
White branches, a humming of bees. And I came to the wall--
A little low wall--and looked over, and there was the river,
The lane that led on to the village, and then the sweet river
Clear shining and slow, she had far far to go from her snow;
But each rush gleamed a sword in the sunlight to guard her long flow,
And she murmur'd, methought, with a speech very soft--very low.
'The ways will be long, but the days will be long,' quoth the river,
'To me a long liver, long, long!' quoth the river--the river.
I dreamed of the country that night, of the orchard, the sky,
The voice that had mocked coming after and over and under.
But at last--in a day or two namely--Eleven and I
Were very fast friends, and to him I confided the wonder.
He said that was Echo. 'Was Echo a wise kind of bee
That had learned how to laugh: could it laugh in one's ear and then fly
And laugh again yonder?' 'No; Echo'--he whispered it low--
'Was a woman, they said, but a woman whom no one could see
And no one could find; and he did not believe it, not he,
But he could not get near for the river that held us asunder.
Yet I that had money--a shilling, a whole silver shilling--
We might cross if I thought I would spend it.' 'Oh yes, I was willing'--
And we ran hand in hand, we ran down to the ferry, the ferry,
And we heard how she mocked at the folk with a voice clear and merry
When they called for the ferry; but oh! she was very--was very
Swift-footed. She spoke and was gone; and when Oliver cried,
'Hie over! hie over! you man of the ferry--the ferry!'
By the still water's side she was heard far and wide--she replied
And she mocked in her voice sweet and merry, 'You man of the ferry,
You man of--you man of the ferry!'
'Hie over!' he shouted. The ferryman came at his calling,
Across the clear reed-border'd river he ferried us fast;--
Such a chase! Hand in hand, foot to foot, we ran on; it surpass'd
All measure her doubling--so close, then so far away falling,
Then gone, and no more. Oh! to see her but once unaware,
And the mouth that had mocked, but we might not (yet sure she was there!),
Nor behold her wild eyes and her mystical countenance fair.
We sought in the wood, and we found the wood-wren in her stead;
In the field, and we found but the cuckoo that talked overhead;
By the brook, and we found the reed-sparrow deep-nested, in brown--
Not Echo, fair Echo! for Echo, sweet Echo! was flown.
So we came to the place where the dead people wait till God call.
The church was among them, grey moss over roof, over wall.
Very silent, so low. And we stood on a green grassy mound
And looked in at a window, for Echo, perhaps, in her round
Might have come in to hide there. But no; every oak-carven seat
Was empty. We saw the great Bible--old, old, very old,
And the parson's great Prayer-book beside it; we heard the slow beat
Of the pendulum swing in the tower; we saw the clear gold
Of a sunbeam float down to the aisle and then waver and play
On the low chancel step and the railing, and Oliver said,
'Look, Katie! look, Katie! when Lettice came here to be wed
She stood where that sunbeam drops down, and all white was her gown;
And she stepped upon flowers they strew'd for her.' Then quoth small Seven:
'Shall I wear a white gown and have flowers to walk upon ever?'
All doubtful: 'It takes a long time to grow up,' quoth Eleven;
'You're so little, you know, and the church is so old, it can never
Last on till you're tall.' And in whispers--because it was old
And holy, and fraught with strange meaning, half felt, but not told,
Full of old parsons' prayers, who were dead, of old days, of old folk,
Neither heard nor beheld, but about us, in whispers we spoke.
Then we went from it softly and ran hand in hand to the strand,
While bleating of flocks and birds' piping made sweeter the land.
And Echo came back e'en as Oliver drew to the ferry,
'O Katie!' 'O Katie!' 'Come on, then!' 'Come on, then!' 'For, see,
The round sun, all red, lying low by the tree'--'by the tree.'
'By the tree.' Ay, she mocked him again, with her voice sweet and merry:
'Hie over!' 'Hie over!' 'You man of the ferry'--'the ferry.'
'You man of the ferry--
You man of--you man of--the ferry.'
Ay, here--it was here that we woke her, the Echo of old;
All life of that day seems an echo, and many times told.
Shall I cross by the ferry to-morrow, and come in my white
To that little low church? and will Oliver meet me anon?
Will it all seem an echo from childhood pass'd over--pass'd on?
Will the grave parson bless us? Hark, hark! in the dim failing light
I hear her! As then the child's voice clear and high, sweet and merry
Now she mocks the man's tone with 'Hie over! Hie over the ferry!'
'And, Katie.' 'And, Katie.' 'Art out with the glow-worms to-night,
My Katie?' 'My Katie?' For gladness I break into laughter
And tears. Then it all comes again as from far-away years;
Again, some one else--oh, how softly!--with laughter comes after,
Comes after--with laughter comes after.
PRELUDES TO A PENNY READING.
_SCHOOLMASTER (_not certificated_), VICAR, _and_ CHILD.
_VICAR_. Why did you send for me? I hope all's
_Schoolmaster_. Well, sir, we thought this end o' the room
_V_. Indeed! So 't is. There's my new study lamp--
_S_. 'T would stand, sir, well beside yon laurel wreath.
Shall I go fetch it?
_V._ Do, we must not fail.
Bring candles also.
[_Exit Schoolmaster. Vicar arranges chairs._
Now, small six years old,
And why may you be here?
_Child._ I'm helping father;
But, father, why d'you take such pains?
_V._ Sweet soul,
That's what I'm for!
_C._ What, and for nothing else?
_V._ Yes! I'm to bring thee up to be a man.
_C._ And what am I for?
_V._ There, I'm busy now.
_C._ Am I to bring you up to be a child?
_V._ Perhaps! Indeed, I have heard it said thou art.
_C._ Then when may I begin?
_V._ I'm busy, I say.
Begin to-morrow an thou canst, my son,
And mind to do it well.
[_Exit Vicar and Child._
_Enter a group of women, and some children._
_Mrs. Thorpe._ Fine lot o' lights!
_Mrs. Jillifer._ Should be! Would folk put on their Sunday best
I' the week unless they looked to have it seen?
What, you here, neighbour!
_Mrs. Smith._ Ay, you may say that.
Old Madam called; said she, 'My son would feel
So sorry if you did not come,' and slipped
The penny in my hand, she did; said I,
'Ma'am, that's not it. In short, some say your last
Was worth the penny and more. I know a man,
A sober man, who said, and stuck to it,
_Worth a good twopence_. But I'm strange, I'm shy.'
'We hope you'll come for once,' said she. In short,
I said I would to oblige 'em.
_Mrs. Green_. Ah, 't was well.
_Mrs. S_. But I feel strange, and music gets i' my throat,
It always did. And singers be so smart,
Ladies and folk from other parishes,
Candles and cheering, greens and flowers and all
I was not used to such in my young day;
We kept ourselves at home.
_Mrs. J_. Never say 'used,'
The most of us have many a thing to do
We were not used to. If you come to that,
Why none of us are used to growing old,
It takes us by surprise, as one may say,
That work, when we begin 't, and yet 't is work
That all of us must do.
_Mrs. G_. Nay, nay, not all.
_Mrs. J_. I ask your pardon, neighbour; you be right. Not all.
_Mrs. G_. And my sweet maid scarce three months dead.
_Mrs. J_. I ask your pardon truly.
_Mrs. G_. No, my dear,
Thou'lt never see old days. I cannot stint
To fret, the maiden was but twelve years old,
So toward, such a scholar.
_Mrs. S._ Ay, when God,
That knows, comes down to choose, He'll take the best.
_Mrs. T._ But I'm right glad you came, it pleases _them_.
My son, that loves his book, 'Mother,' said he,
'Go to the Reading when you have a chance,
For there you get a change, and you see life.'
But Reading or no Reading, I am slow
To learn. When parson after comes his rounds,
'Did it,' to ask with a persuading smile,
'Open your mind?' the woman doth not live
Feels more a fool.
_Mrs. J._ I always tell him 'Yes,'
For he means well. Ay, and I like the songs.
Have you heard say what they shall read to-night?
_Mrs. S._. Neighbour, I hear 'tis something of the East.
But what, I ask you, is the East to us,
And where d'ye think it lies?
_Mrs. J._ The children know,
At least they say they do; there's nothing deep
Nor nothing strange but they get hold on it.
_Enter Schoolmaster and a dozen children._
_S._ Now ladies, ladies, you must please to sit
More close; the room fills fast, and all these lads
And maidens either have to sing before
The Reading, or else after. By your leave
I'll have them in the front, I want them here.
[_The women make room._
_Enter ploughmen, villagers, servants, and children._
And mark me, boys, if I hear cracking o' nuts,
Or see you flicking acorns and what not
While folks from other parishes observe,
You'll hear on it when you don't look to. Tom
And Jemmy and Roger, sing as loud's ye can,
Sing as the maidens do, are they afraid?
And now I'm stationed handy facing you,
Friends all, I'll drop a word by your good leave.
_Young ploughman._ Do, master, do, we like your words a vast.
Though there be nought to back 'em up, ye see,
As when we were smaller.
_S._ Mark me, then, my lads.
When Lady Laura sang, 'I don't think much,'
Says her fine coachman, 'of your manners here.
We drove eleven miles in the dark, it rained,
And ruts in your cross roads are deep. We're here,
My lady sings, they sit all open-mouthed,
And when she's done they never give one cheer.'
_Old man._ Be folks to clap if they don't like the song?
_S._ Certain, for manners.
_Enter_ VICAR, _wife, various friends with violins and a flute.
They come to a piano, and one begins softly to tune his
violin, while the Vicar speaks_.
_V_. Friends, since there is a place where you must hear
When I stand up to speak, I would not now
If there were any other found to bid
You welcome. Welcome, then; these with me ask
No better than to please, and in good sooth
I ever find you willing to be pleased.
When I demand not more, but when we fain
Would lead you to some knowledge fresh, and ask
Your careful heed, I hear that some of you
Have said, 'What good to know, what good to us?
He puts us all to school, and our school days
Should be at end. Nay, if they needs must teach,
Then let them teach us what shall mend our lot;
The laws are strict on us, the world is hard.'
You friends and neighbours, may I dare to speak?
I know the laws are strict, and the world hard,
For ever will the world help that man up
That is already coming up, and still
And ever help him down that's going down.
Yet say, 'I will take the words out of thy mouth,
O world, being yet more strict with mine own life.
Thou law, to gaze shall not be worth thy while
On whom beyond thy power doth rule himself.'
Yet seek to know, for whoso seek to know
They seek to rise, and best they mend their lot.
Methinks, if Adam and Eve in their garden days
Had scorned the serpent, and obediently
Continued God's good children, He Himself
Had led them to the Tree of Knowledge soon
And bid them eat the fruit thereof, and yet
Not find it apples of death.
_Vicar's wife (aside)._ Now, dearest John,
We're ready. Lucky too! you always go
Above the people's heads.
_Young farmer stands forward. Vicar presenting him._
Sparkle of snow and of frost,
Blythe air and the joy of cold,
Their grace and good they have lost,
As print o' her foot by the fold.
Let me back to yon desert sand,
Rose-lipped love--from the fold,
Flower-fair girl--from the fold,
Let me back to the sultry land.
The world is empty of cheer,
Forlorn, forlorn, and forlorn,
As the night-owl's sob of fear,
As Memnon moaning at morn.
For love of thee, my dear,
I have lived a better man,
O my Mary Anne,
My Mary Anne.
Away, away, and away,
To an old palm-land of tombs,
Washed clear of our yesterday
And where never a snowdrop blooms,
Nor wild becks talk as they go
Of tender hope we had known,
Nor mosses of memory grow
All over the wayside stone.
Farewell, farewell, and farewell,
As voice of a lover's sigh
In the wind let yon willow wave
'Farewell, farewell, and farewell.'
The sparkling frost-stars brave
On thy shrouded bosom lie;
Thou art gone apart to dwell,
But I fain would have said good-bye.
For love of thee in thy grave
I have lived a better man,
O my Mary Anne,
My Mary Anne.
_Mrs. Thorpe (aside)._ O hearts! why, what a song!
To think on it, and he a married man!
_Mrs. Jillifer (aside)._ Bless you, that makes for nothing, nothing at
They take no heed upon the words. His wife,
Look you, as pleased as may be, smiles on him.
_Mrs. T. (aside)._ Neighbours, there's one thing beats me. We've enough
O' trouble in the world; I've cried my fill
Many and many a time by my own fire:
Now why, I'll ask you, should it comfort me
And ease my heart when, pitiful and sweet,
One sings of other souls and how they mourned?
A body would have thought that did not know
Songs must be merry, full of feast and mirth.
Or else would all folk flee away from them.
_Mrs. S. (aside)._ 'Tis strange, and I too love the sad ones best.
_Mrs. T. (aside)._ Ay, how they clap him!
'Tis as who should say,
Sing! we were pleased; sing us another song;
As if they did not know he loves to sing.
Well may he, not an organ pipe they blow
On Sunday in the church is half so sweet;
But he's a hard man.
_Mrs. J. (aside)._ Mark me, neighbours all,
Hard though he be--ay, and the mistress hard--
If he do sing 'twill be a sorrowful
Sad tale of sweethearts, that shall make you wish
Your own time would come over again, although
Were partings in 't and tears. Hist! now he sings.
_Young farmer sings again._
'Come hither, come hither.' The broom was in blossom all over yon rise;
There went a wide murmur of brown bees about it with songs from the wood.
'We shall never be younger! O love, let us forth, for the world 'neath our
Ay, the world is made young e'en as we, and right fair is her youth and
Then there fell the great yearning upon me, that never yet went into words;
While lovesome and moansome thereon spake and falter'd the dove to the
And I came at her calling, 'Inherit, inherit, and sing with the birds;'
I went up to the wood with the child of my heart and the wife of my love.
O pure! O pathetic! Wild hyacinths drank it, the dream light, apace
Not a leaf moved at all 'neath the blue, they hung waiting for messages
Tall cherry-trees dropped their white blossom that drifted no whit from
For the south very far out to sea had the lulling low voice of the
And the child's dancing foot gave us part in the ravishment almost a pain,
An infinite tremor of life, a fond murmur that cried out on time,
Ah short! must all end in the doing and spend itself sweetly in vain,
And the promise be only fulfilment to lean from the height of its prime?
'We shall never be younger;' nay, mock me not, fancy, none call from yon
They have thrown me the world they went over, went up, and, alas! For
I am left to grow old, and to grieve, and to change; but they change not
They will never be older, the child of my love, and the wife of my
_Mrs. J. I_ told you so!
_Mrs. T. (aside)._ That did you, neighbour. Ay,
Partings, said you, and tears: I liked the song.
_Mrs. G_. Who be these coming to the front to sing?
_Mrs. J. (aside)._ Why, neighbour, these be sweethearts, so 'tis said,
And there was much ado to make her sing;
She would, and would not; and he wanted her,
And, mayhap, wanted to be seen with her.
'Tis Tomlin's pretty maid, his only one.
_Mrs. G. (aside)._ I did not know the maid, so fair she looks.
_Mrs. J. (aside)._ He's a right proper man she has at last;
Walks over many a mile (and counts them nought)
To court her after work hours, that he doth,
Not like her other--why, he'd let his work
Go all to wrack, and lay it to his love,
While he would sit and look, and look and sigh.
Her father sent him to the right-about.
'If love,' said he, 'won't make a man of you,
Why, nothing will! 'Tis mainly that love's for.
The right sort makes,' said he, 'a lad a man;
The wrong sort makes,' said he, 'a man a fool.'
_Vicar presents a young man and a girl._
_She_. While he dreams, mine old grand sire,
And yon red logs glow,
Honey, whisper by the fire,
Whisper, honey low.
_He_. Honey, high's yon weary hill,
Stiff's yon weary loam;
Lacks the work o' my goodwill,
Fain I'd take thee home.
O how much longer, and longer, and longer,
An' how much longer shall the waiting last?
Berries red are grown, April birds are flown,
Martinmas gone over, ay, and harvest past.
_She_. Honey, bide, the time's awry,
Bide awhile, let be.
_He_. Take my wage then, lay it by,
Till 't come back with thee.
The red money, the white money,
Both to thee I bring--
_She_. Bring ye ought beside, honey?
_He_. Honey, ay, the ring.
_Duet_. But how much longer, and longer, and longer,
O how much longer shall the waiting last?
Berries red are grown, April birds are flown,
Martinmas gone over, and the harvest past.
_Mrs. S. (aside)._ O she's a pretty maid, and sings so small
And high, 'tis like a flute. And she must blush
Till all her face is roses newly blown.
How folks do clap. She knows not where to look.
There now she's off; he standing like a man
To face them.
_Mrs. G. (aside)._ Makes his bow, and after her;
But what's the good of clapping when they're gone?
_Mrs. T. (aside)._ Why 'tis a London fashion as I'm told,
And means they'd have 'em back to sing again.
_Mrs. J. (aside)._ Neighbours, look where her father, red as fire,
Sits pleased and 'shamed, smoothing his Sunday hat;
And Parson bustles out. Clap on, clap on.
Coming? Not she! There comes her sweetheart though.
_Vicar presents the young man again_.
Rain clouds flew beyond the fell,
No more did thunders lower,
Patter, patter, on the beck
Dropt a clearing shower.
Eddying floats of creamy foam
Flecked the waters brown,
As we rode up to cross the ford,
Rode up from yonder town.
Waiting on the weather,
She and I together,
Waiting on the weather,
Till the flood went down.
The sun came out, the wet leaf shone,
Dripped the wild wood vine.
Betide me well, betide me woe,
That hour's for ever mine.
With thee Mary, with thee Mary,
Full oft I pace again,
Asleep, awake, up yonder glen,
And hold thy bridle rein.
Waiting on the weather,
Thou and I together,
Waiting on the weather,
Till the flood shall wane.
And who, though hope did come to nought,
Would memory give away?
I lighted down, she leaned full low,
Nor chid that hour's delay.
With thee Mary, with thee Mary,
Methought my life to crown,
But we ride up, but we ride up,
No more from yonder town.
Waiting on the weather,
Thou and I together,
Waiting on the weather,
Till the flood go down.
_Mrs. J. (aside)._ Well, very well; but what of fiddler Sam?
I ask you, neighbours, if't be not his turn.
An honest man, and ever pays his score;
Born in the parish, old, blind as a bat,
And strangers sing before him; 't is a shame!
_Mrs. S. (aside)._ Ay, but his daughter--
_Mrs. J. (aside)._ Why, the maid's a maid
One would not set to guide the chant in church,
But when she sings to earn her father's bread,
The mildest mother's son may cry 'Amen.'
_Mrs. S. (aside)._ They say he plays not always true.
_Mrs. J. (aside)_ What then?
_Mrs. T. (aside)._ Here comes my lady. She's too fat by half
For love songs. O! the lace upon her gown,
I wish I had the getting of it up,
'T would be a pretty penny in my pouch.
_Mrs. J. (aside)._ Be quiet now for manners.
_Vicar presents a lady, who sings_.
Dark flocks of wildfowl riding out the storm
Upon a pitching sea,
Beyond grey rollers vex'd that rear and form,
When piping winds urge on their destiny,
To fall back ruined in white continually.
And I at our trysting stone,
Whereto I came down alone,
Was fain o' the wind's wild moan.
O, welcome were wrack and were rain
And beat of the battling main,
For the sake of love's sweet pain,
For the smile in two brown eyes,
For the love in any wise,
To bide though the last day dies;
For a hand on my wet hair,
For a kiss e'en yet I wear,
For--bonny Jock was there.
Pale precipices while the sun lay low
Tinct faintly of the rose,
And mountain islands mirror'd in a flow,
Forgotten of all winds (their manifold
Peaks, reared into the glory and the glow),
Floated in purple and gold.
And I, o'er the rocks alone,
Of a shore all silent grown,
Came down to our trysting stone,
And sighed when the solemn ray
Paled in the wake o' the day.
Comfort is not by the shore,
Going the gold that it wore,
Purple and rose are no more,
World and waters are wan,
And night will be here anon,
And--bonny Jock's gone.'
_[Moderate applause, and calls for fiddler Sam_.
_Mrs. Jillifer (aside)._ Now, neighbours, call again and be not shamed;
Stand by the parish, and the parish folk,
Them that are poor. I told you! here he comes.
Parson looks glum, but brings him and his girl.
_The fiddler Sam plays, and his daughter sings_.
Touch the sweet string. Fly forth, my heart,
Upon the music like a bird;
The silvery notes shall add their part,
And haply yet thou shalt be heard.
Touch the sweet string.
The youngest wren of nine
Dimpled, dark, and merry,
Brown her locks, and her two eyne
Browner than a berry.
When I was not in love
Maidens met I many;
Under sun now walks but one,
Nor others mark I any.
Twin lambs, a mild-eyed ewe,
That would her follow bleating,
A heifer white as snow
I'll give to my sweet sweeting.
Touch the sweet string. If yet too young,
O love of loves, for this my song,
I'll pray thee count it all unsung,
And wait thy leisure, wait it long.
Touch the sweet string.
_Vicar_. You hear them, Sam. You needs must play
Your neighbours ask it.
_Fiddler_. Thank ye, neighbours all,
I have my feelings though I be but poor;
I've tanged the fiddle here this forty year,
And I should know the trick on 't.
_The fiddler plays, and his daughter sings_.
For Exmoor, where the red deer run, my weary heart
She that will a rover wed, far her foot shall his.
Narrow, narrow, shows the street, dull the narrow sky.
_(Buy my cherries, whiteheart cherries, good my masters_,
O he left me, left alone, aye to think and sigh,
'Lambs feed down yon sunny coombe, hind and yearling
Mid the shrouding vapours walk now like ghosts on high.'
(_Buy my cherries, blackheart cherries, lads and lassies, buy_.)
Dear my dear, why did ye so? Evil days have I,
Mark no more the antler'd stag, hear the curlew cry.
Milking at my father's gate while he leans anigh.
(_Buy my cherries, whiteheart, blackheart, golden girls, O buy._)
_Mrs. T. (aside)._ I've known him play that Exmoor
'Ah me! and I'm from Exmoor. I could wish
To hear 't no more.
_Mrs. S. (aside)._ Neighbours, 't is mighty hot.
Ay, now they throw the window up, that's well,
A body could not breathe.
[_The fiddler and his daughter go away._
_Mrs. Jillifer (aside)._ They'll hear no parson's preaching,
no not they!
But innocenter songs, I do allow,
They could not well have sung than these to-night.
That man knows just so well as if he saw
They were not welcome.
_The Vicar stands up, on the point of beginning to read, when the tuning
and twang of the fiddle is heard close outside the open window, and the
daughter sings in a clear cheerful voice. A little tittering is heard
in the room, and the Vicar pauses discomfited_.
O my heart! what a coil is here!
Laurie, why will ye hold me dear?
Laurie, Laurie, lad, make not wail,
With a wiser lass ye'll sure prevail,
For ye sing like a woodland nightingale.
And there's no sense in it under the sun;
For of three that woo I can take but one,
So what's to be done--what's to be done?
There's no sense in it under the sun.
Hal, brave Hal, from your foreign parts
Come home you'll choose among kinder hearts.
Forget, forget, you're too good to hold
A fancy 't were best should faint, grow cold,
And fade like an August marigold;
For of three that woo I can take but one,
And what's to be done--what's to be done?
There's no sense in it under the sun,
Of three that woo I can take but one.
Geordie, Geordie, I count you true,
Though language sweet I have none for you.
Nay, but take me home to the churning mill
When cherry boughs white on yon mounting hill
Hang over the tufts o' the daffodil.
For what's to be done--what's to be done?
Of three that woo I must e'en take one,
Or there's no sense in it under the sun,
What's to be done--what's to be done?
_V_. (_aside_). What's to be done, indeed!
_Wife_ (_aside_). Done! nothing, love.
Either the thing has done itself, or _they_
Must undo. Did they call for fiddler Sam?
Well, now they have him.
[_More tuning heard outside_.
_Mrs. J_. (_aside_). Live and let live's my motto.
_Mrs. T_. So 't is mine.
Who's Sam, that he must fly in Parson's face?
He's had his turn. He never gave these lights,
Cut his best flowers--
_Mrs. S_. (_aside_). He takes no pride in us.
Speak up, good neighbour, get the window shut.
_Mrs. J_. (_rising_). I ask your pardon truly, that I do--
La! but the window--there's a parlous draught;
The window punishes rheumatic folk--
We'd have it shut, sir.
_Others_. Truly, that we would.
_V_. Certainly, certainly, my friends, you shall.
[_The window is shut, and the Reading begins amid marked
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