The Poetical Works of George MacDonald in Two Volumes, Volume I
Part 2 out of 9
Not yet quite healed.
Ah, my poor Julian! How--
I am so sorry!--Oh, I _do_ remember!
I saw it all quite plain! It was no dream!
I saw you fighting!--Surely you did not kill him?
(_calmly, but drawing himself up_).
I killed him as I would a dog that bit you.
(_turning pale, and covering her face with her
Oh, that was dreadful! there is blood on you!
Shall I go, Lilia?
Oh no, no, no, do not.--
I shall be better presently.
As from a murderer!
Oh no, I love you--
Will never leave you. Pardon me, my Julian;
But blood is terrible.
(_drawing her close to him_).
My own sweet Lilia,
'Twas justly shed, for your defense and mine,
As it had been a tiger that I killed.
He had no right to live. Be at peace, darling;
His blood lies not on me, but on himself;
I do not feel its stain upon my conscience.
[_A tap at the door_.]
My lord, the steward waits on you below.
You have been standing till you're faint, my lady!
Lie down a little. There!--I'll fetch you something.
SCENE XVI.--_The Steward's room_. JULIAN. _The Steward_.
Well, Joseph, that will do. I shall expect
To hear from you soon after my arrival.
Is the boat ready?
Yes, my lord; afloat
Where you directed.
A strange feeling haunts me,
As of some danger near. Unlock it, and cast
The chain around the post. Muffle the oars.
I will, directly.
How shall I manage it?
I have her father's leave, but have not dared
To tell her all; and she must know it first!
She fears me half, even now: what will she think
To see my shaven head? My heart is free--
I know that God absolves mistaken vows.
I looked for help in the high search from those
Who knew the secret place of the Most High.
If I had known, would I have bound myself
Brother to men from whose low, marshy minds
Never a lark springs to salute the day?
The loftiest of them dreamers, and the best
Content with goodness growing like moss on stones!
It cannot be God's will I should be such.
But there was more: they virtually condemned
Me in my quest; would have had me content
To kneel with them around a wayside post,
Nor heed the pointing finger at its top?
It was the dull abode of foolishness:
Not such the house where God would train his children!
My very birth into a world of men
Shows me the school where he would have me learn;
Shows me the place of penance; shows the field
Where I must fight and die victorious,
Or yield and perish. True, I know not how
This will fall out: he must direct my way!
But then for her--she cannot see all this;
Words will not make it plain; and if they would,
The time is shorter than the words would need:
This overshadowing bodes nearing ill.--
It _may_ be only vapour, of the heat
Of too much joy engendered; sudden fear
That the fair gladness is too good to live:
The wider prospect from the steep hill's crest,
The deeper to the vale the cliff goes down;
But how will she receive it? Will she think
I have been mocking her? How could I help it?
Her illness and my danger! But, indeed,
So strong was I in truth, I never thought
Her doubts might prove a hindrance in the way.
My love did make her so a part of me,
I never dreamed she might judge otherwise,
Until our talk of yesterday. And now
Her horror at Nembroni's death confirms me:
To wed a monk will seem to her the worst
Of crimes which in a fever one might dream.
I cannot take the truth, and, bodily,
Hold it before her eyes. She is not strong.
She loves me--not as I love her. But always
--There's Robert for an instance--I have loved
A life for what it might become, far more
Than for its present: there's a germ in her
Of something noble, much beyond her now:
Chance gleams betray it, though she knows it not.
This evening must decide it, come what will.
SCENE XVII.--_The inn; the room which had been_ JULIAN'S. STEPHEN,
Host, _and_ Hostess. _Wine on the table_.
Here, my good lady, let me fill your glass;
Then send the bottle on, please, to your husband.
I thank you, sir; I hope you like the wine;
My husband's choice is praised. I cannot say
I am a judge myself.
It needs but to be tasted.
(_tasting critically, then nodding_).
That is wine!
Let me congratulate you, my good sir,
Upon your exquisite judgment!
Thank you, sir.
(_to the_ Hostess).
And so this man, you say, was here until
The night the count was murdered: did he leave
Before or after that?
I cannot tell;
He left, I know, before it was discovered.
In the middle of the storm, like one possessed,
He rushed into the street, half tumbling me
Headlong down stairs, and never came again.
He had paid his bill that morning, luckily;
So joy go with him! Well, he was an odd one!
What was he like, fair Hostess?
Tall and dark,
And with a lowering look about his brows.
He seldom spoke, but, when he did, was civil.
One queer thing was, he always wore his hat,
Indoors as well as out. I dare not say
He murdered Count Nembroni; but it was strange
He always sat at that same window there,
And looked into the street. 'Tis not as if
There were much traffic in the village now;
These are changed times; but I have seen the day--
Excuse me; you were saying that the man
Sat at the window--
Yes; even after dark
He would sit on, and never call for lights.
The first night, I brought candles, as of course;
He let me set them on the table, true;
But soon's my back was turned, he put them out.
Where is the lady?
That's the strangest thing
Of all the story: she has disappeared,
As well as he. There lay the count, stone-dead,
White as my apron. The whole house was empty,
Just as I told you.
Has no search been made?
The closest search; a thousand pieces offered
For any information that should lead
To the murderer's capture. I believe his brother,
Who is his heir, they say, is still in town,
Seeking in vain for some intelligence.
'Tis very odd; the oddest thing I've heard
For a long time. Send me a pen and ink;
I have to write some letters.
Thank you, sir,
For your kind entertainment.
[_Exeunt Host and Hostess_.]
We've found the badger's hole; we'll draw
him next. He couldn't have gone far with her and not
be seen. My life on it, there are plenty of holes and
corners in the old house over the way. Run off with a
wench! Holy brother Julian! Contemptuous brother
Julian! Stand-by-thyself brother Julian! Run away
with a wench at last! Well, there's a downfall! He'll
be for marrying her on the sly, and away!--I know the
old fox!--for her conscience-sake, probably not for his!
Well, one comfort is, it's damnation and no reprieve.
The ungrateful, atheistical heretic! As if the good old
mother wasn't indulgent enough to the foibles of her
children! The worthy lady has winked so hard at her
dutiful sons, that she's nearly blind with winking. There's
nothing in a little affair with a girl now and then; but to
marry, and knock one's vows on the head! Therein is
displayed a little ancestral fact as to a certain respectable
progenitor, commonly portrayed as the knight of the
cloven foot. _Keep back thy servant_, &c.--Purgatory
couldn't cleanse that; and more, 'twill never have the
chance. Heaven be about us from harm! Amen. I'll
go find the new count. The Church shall have the
castle and estate; Revenge, in the person of the new
count, the body of Julian; and Stephen may as well
have the thousand pieces as not.
SCENE XVIII.--_Night. The Nurse's room_. LILIA; _to her_ JULIAN.
How changed he is! Yet he looks very noble.
My Lilia, will you go to England with me?
Julian, my father!
Not without his leave.
He says, God bless us both.
Leave him in prison?
No, Lilia; he's at liberty and safe,
And far from this ere now.
You have done this,
My noble Julian! I will go with you
To sunset, if you will. My father gone!
Julian, there's none to love me now but you.
You _will_ love me, Julian?--always?
I but fear
That your heart, Lilia, is not big enough
To hold the love wherewith my heart would fill it.
I know why you think that; and I deserve it.
But try me, Julian. I was very silly.
I could not help it. I was ill, you know;
Or weak at least. May I ask you, Julian,
How your arm is to-day?
Almost well, child.
Twill leave an ugly scar, though, I'm afraid.
Never mind that, if it be well again.
I do not mind it; but when I remember
That I am all yours, then I grudge that scratch
Or stain should be upon me--soul, body, yours.
And there are more scars on me now than I
Should like to make you own, without confession.
My poor, poor Julian! never think of it;
[_Putting her arms round him_.]
I will but love you more. I thought you had
Already told me suffering enough;
But not the half, it seems, of your adventures.
You have been a soldier!
I have fought, my Lilia.
I have been down among the horses' feet;
But strange to tell, and harder to believe,
Arose all sound, unmarked with bruise, or blood
Save what I lifted from the gory ground.
My wounds are not of such.
[LILIA, _loosening her arms, and drawing back a little with a
kind of shrinking, looks a frightened interrogation_.]
No. Penance, Lilia;
Such penance as the saints of old inflicted
Upon their quivering flesh. Folly, I know;
As a lord would exalt himself, by making
His willing servants into trembling slaves!
Yet I have borne it.
(_laying her hand on his arm_).
Ah, alas, my Julian,
You have been guilty!
Not what men call guilty,
Save it be now; now you will think I sin.
Alas, I have sinned! but not in this I sin.--
Lilia, I have been a monk.
Julian,--I thought you said.... did you not say ... ?
[_Very pale, brokenly_.]
I thought you said ...
[_With an effort_.]
I was to be your wife!
[_Covering her face with her hands, and bursting into tears_.]
(_speaking low and in pain_).
And so I did.
(_hopefully, and looking up_).
Then you've had dispensation?
God has absolved me, though the Church will not.
He knows it was in ignorance I did it.
Rather would he have men to do his will,
Than keep a weight of words upon their souls,
Which they laid there, not graven by his finger.
The vow was made to him--to him I break it.
I would ... your words were true ... but I do know ...
It never can ... be right to break a vow;
If so, men might be liars every day;
You'd do the same by me, if we were married.
'Tis ever so. Words are the living things!
There is no spirit--save what's born of words!
Words are the bonds that of two souls make one!
Words the security of heart to heart!
God, make me patient! God, I pray thee, God!
(_not heeding him_).
Besides, we dare not; you would find the dungeon
Gave late repentance; I should weep away
My life within a convent.
Come to England,
To England, Lilia.
Men would point, and say:
_There go the monk and his wife_; if they, in truth,
Called me not by a harder name than that.
There are no monks in England.
But will that
Make right what's wrong?
Did I say so, my Lilia?
I answered but your last objections thus;
I had a different answer for the first.
No, no; I cannot, cannot, dare not do it.
Lilia, you will not doubt my love; you cannot.
--I would have told you all before, but thought,
Foolishly, you would feel the same as I;--
I have lived longer, thought more, seen much more;
I would not hurt your body, less your soul,
For all the blessedness your love can give:
For love's sake weigh the weight of what I say.
Think not that _must_ be right which you have heard
From infancy--it may----
[_Enter the_ Steward _in haste, pale, breathless, and bleeding_.]
My lord, there's such an uproar in the town!
They call you murderer and heretic.
The officers of justice, with a monk,
And the new Count Nembroni, accompanied
By a fierce mob with torches, howling out
For justice on you, madly cursing you!
They caught a glimpse of me as I returned,
And stones and sticks flew round me like a storm;
But I escaped them, old man as I am,
And was in time to bar the castle-gates.--
Would heaven we had not cast those mounds, and shut
The river from the moat!
[_Distant yells and cries_.]
Escape, my lord!
Will the gates hold them out awhile, my Joseph?
A little while, my lord; but those damned torches!
Oh, for twelve feet of water round the walls!
Leave us, good Joseph; watch them from a window,
And tell us of their progress.
[JOSEPH _goes. Sounds approach_.]
[_Putting his arm round her. She stands like stone_.]
Fear of a coward's name shall not detain me.
My presence would but bring down evil on you,
My heart's beloved; yes, all the ill you fear,
The terrible things that you have imaged out
If you fled with me. They will not hurt you,
If you be not polluted by my presence.
[_Light from without flares on the wall_.]
They've fired the gate.
[_An outburst of mingled cries_.]
They've fired the gate, my lord!
Well, put yourself in safety, my dear Joseph.
You and old Agata tell all the truth,
And they'll forgive you. It will not hurt me;
I shall be safe--you know me--never fear.
God grant it may be so. Farewell, dear lord!
But add, it was in vain; the signorina
Would not consent; therefore I fled alone.
[LILIA _stands as before_.]
Can it be so? Good-bye, good-bye, my master!
Put your arms round me once, my Lilia.
Not once?--not once at parting?
[_Rushing feet up the stairs, and along the galleries_.]
O God! farewell!
[_He clasps her to his heart; leaves her; pushes back the
panel, flings open a door, enters, and closes both
behind him_. LILIA _starts suddenly from her fixed bewilderment,
and flies after him, but forgets to close
[_The trampling offset and clamour of voices. The door
of the room is flung open. Enter the foremost of
I was sure I saw light here! There it is, burning still!
Nobody here? Praise the devil! he minds his
own. Look under the bed, Gian.
Another door! another door! He's in a trap
now, and will soon be in hell! (_Opening the door with
difficulty_.) The devil had better leave him, and make up
the fire at home--he'll be cold by and by. (_Rushes into
the inner room_.) Follow me, boys! [The rest follow.]
_Voices from within_.
I have him! I have him! Curse
your claws! Why do you fix them on me, you crab? You
won't pick up the fiend-spawn so easily, I can tell you.
Bring the light there, will you? (_One runs out for the
light_.) A trap! a trap! and a stair, down in the wall!
The hell-faggot's gone! After him, after him, noodles!
[_Sound of descending footsteps. Others rush in with
torches and follow_.]
* * * * *
SCENE XIX.--_The river-side_. LILIA _seated in the boat_; JULIAN
_handing her the bags_.
There! One at a time!--Take care, love; it
Put them right in the middle, of the boat:
Gold makes good ballast.
[_A loud shout. He steps in and casts the chain loose,
then pushes gently off_.]
Look how the torches gleam
Among the trees. Thank God, we have escaped!
[_He rows swiftly off. The torches come nearer, with
cries of search_.]
(_In a low tone_.) Slip down, my Lilia; lie at full length
In the bottom of the boat; your dress is white,
And would return the torches' glare. I fear
The damp night-air will hurt you, dressed like this.
[_Pulling off his coat, and laying it over her_.]
Now for a strong pull with my muffled oars!
The water mutters Spanish in its sleep.
My beautiful! my bride! my spirit's wife!
God-given, and God-restored! My heart exults,
Hovering about thee, beautiful! my soul!--
Once round the headland, I will set the sail;
The fair wind bloweth right adown the stream.
Dear wind, dear stream, dear stars, dear heart of all,
White angel lying in my little boat!
Strange that my boyhood's skill with sail and helm,
Oft steering safely 'twixt the winding banks,
Should make me rich with womanhood and life!
[_The boat rounds the headland_, JULIAN _singing_.]
Thou hast been blowing leaves, O wind of strife,
Wan, curled, boat-like leaves, that ran and fled;
Unresting yet, though folded up from life;
Sleepless, though cast among the unwaking dead!
Out to the ocean fleet and float;
Blow, blow my little leaf-like boat.
O wind of strife, to us a wedding wind,
O cover me with kisses of her mouth;
Blow thou our souls together, heart and mind;
To narrowing northern lines, blow from the south!
Out to the ocean fleet and float;
Blow, blow my little leaf-like boat.
Thou hast been blowing many a drifting thing
From circling cove down to the unsheltered sea;
Thou blowest to the sea my blue sail's wing,
Us to a new love-lit futurity:
Out to the ocean fleet and float;
Blow, blow my little leaf-like boat.
And weep not, though the Beautiful decay
Within thy heart, as daily in thine eyes;
Thy heart must have its autumn, its pale skies,
Leading, mayhap, to winter's dim dismay.
Yet doubt not. Beauty doth not pass away;
Her form departs not, though her body dies.
Secure beneath the earth the snowdrop lies,
Waiting the spring's young resurrection-day,
Through the kind nurture of the winter cold.
Nor seek thou by vain effort to revive
The summer-time, when roses were alive;
Do thou thy work--be willing to be old:
Thy sorrow is the husk that doth infold
A gorgeous June, for which thou need'st not strive.
Time: _Five years later_.
SCENE I.--_Night. London. A large meanly furnished room; a single
candle on the table; a child asleep in a little crib_. JULIAN
_sits by the table, reading in a low voice out of a book. He looks
older, and his hair is lined with grey; his eyes look clearer_.
What is this? let me see; 'tis called _The Singer_:
"Melchah stood looking on the corpse of his son, and spoke not. At
length he broke the silence and said: 'He hath told his tale to the
Immortals.' Abdiel, the friend of him that was dead, asked him what
he meant by the words. The old man, still regarding the dead body,
spake as follows:--"
"Three years ago, I fell asleep on the summit of the hill Yarib; and
there I dreamed a dream. I thought I lay at the foot of a cliff, near
the top of a great mountain; for beneath me were the clouds, and
above me, the heavens deep and dark. And I heard voices sweet and
strong; and I lifted up my eyes, and, Lo! over against me, on a
rocky slope, some seated, each on his own crag, some reclining
between the fragments, I saw a hundred majestic forms, as of men who
had striven and conquered. Then I heard one say: 'What wouldst thou
sing unto us, young man?' A youthful voice replied, tremblingly: 'A
song which I have made for my singing.' 'Come, then, and I will lead
thee to the hole in the rock: enter and sing.' From the assembly
came forth one whose countenance was calm unto awfulness; but whose
eyes looked in love, mingled with doubt, on the face of a youth whom
he led by the hand toward the spot where I lay. The features of the
youth I could not discern: either it was the indistinctness of a
dream, or I was not permitted to behold them. And, Lo! behind me was
a great hole in the rock, narrow at the entrance, but deep and wide
within; and when I looked into it, I shuddered; for I thought I saw,
far down, the glimmer of a star. The youth entered and vanished. His
guide strode back to his seat; and I lay in terror near the mouth of
the vast cavern. When I looked up once more, I saw all the men
leaning forward, with head aside, as if listening intently to a
far-off sound. I likewise listened; but, though much nearer than they,
I heard nothing. But I could see their faces change like waters in a
windy and half-cloudy day. Sometimes, though I heard nought, it
seemed to me as if one sighed and prayed beside me; and once I heard
a clang of music triumphant in hope; but I looked up, and, Lo! it
was the listeners who stood on their feet and sang. They ceased, sat
down, and listened as before. At last one approached me, and I
ventured to question him. 'Sir,' I said, 'wilt thou tell me what it
means?' And he answered me thus: 'The youth desired to sing to the
Immortals. It is a law with us that no one shall sing a song who
cannot be the hero of his tale--who cannot live the song that he
sings; for what right hath he else to devise great things, and to
take holy deeds in his mouth? Therefore he enters the cavern where
God weaves the garments of souls; and there he lives in the forms of
his own tale; for God gives them being that he may be tried. The
sighs which thou didst hear were his longings after his own Ideal;
and thou didst hear him praying for the Truth he beheld, but could
not reach. We sang, because, in his first great battle, he strove
well and overcame. We await the next.' A deep sleep seemed to fall
upon me; and when I awoke, I saw the Immortals standing with their
eyes fixed on the mouth of the cavern. I arose and turned toward it
likewise. The youth came forth. His face was worn and pale, as that
of the dead man before me; but his eyes were open, and tears trembled
within them. Yet not the less was it the same face, the face of my
son, I tell thee; and in joy and fear I gazed upon him. With a weary
step he approached the Immortals. But he who had led him to the cave
hastened to meet him, spread forth his arms, and embraced him, and
said unto him: 'Thou hast told a noble tale; sing to us now what
songs thou wilt.' Therefore said I, as I gazed on my son: 'He hath
told his tale to the Immortals.'"
[_He puts the book down; meditates awhile; then rises and
walks up and down the room_.]
And so five years have poured their silent streams,
Flowing from fountains in eternity,
Into my soul, which, as an infinite gulf,
Hath swallowed them; whose living caves they feed;
And time to spirit grows, transformed and kept.
And now the day draws nigh when Christ was born;
The day that showed how like to God himself
Man had been made, since God could be revealed
By one that was a man with men, and still
Was one with God the Father; that men might
By drawing nigh to him draw nigh to God,
Who had come near to them in tenderness.
O God! I thank thee for the friendly eye
That oft hath opened on me these five years;
Thank thee for those enlightenings of my spirit
That let me know thy thought was toward me;
Those moments fore-enjoyed from future years,
Telling what converse I should hold with God.
I thank thee for the sorrow and the care,
Through which they gleamed, bright phosphorescent sparks
Crushed from the troubled waters, borne on which
Through mist and dark my soul draws nigh to thee.
Five years ago, I prayed in agony
That thou wouldst speak to me. Thou wouldst not then,
With that close speech I craved so hungrily.
Thy inmost speech is heart embracing heart;
And thou wast all the time instructing me
To know the language of thy inmost speech.
I thought thou didst refuse, when every hour
Thou spakest every word my heart could hear,
Though oft I did not know it was thy voice.
My prayer arose from lonely wastes of soul;
As if a world far-off in depths of space,
Chaotic, had implored that it might shine
Straightway in sunlight as the morning star.
My soul must be more pure ere it could hold
With thee communion. 'Tis the pure in heart
That shall see God. As if a well that lay
Unvisited, till water-weeds had grown
Up from its depths, and woven a thick mass
Over its surface, could give back the sun!
Or, dug from ancient battle-plain, a shield
Could be a mirror to the stars of heaven!
And though I am not yet come near to him,
I know I am more nigh; and am content
To walk a long and weary road to find
My father's house once more. Well may it be
A long and weary--I had wandered far.
My God, I thank thee, thou dost care for me.
I am content, rejoicing to go on,
Even when my home seems very far away;
For over grief, and aching emptiness,
And fading hopes, a higher joy arises.
In cloudiest nights, one lonely spot is bright,
High overhead, through folds and folds of space;
It is the earnest-star of all my heavens;
And tremulous in the deep well of my being
Its image answers, gazing eagerly.
Alas, my Lilia!--But I'll think of Jesus,
Not of thee now; him who hath led my soul
Thus far upon its journey home to God.
By poor attempts to do the things he said,
Faith has been born; free will become a fact;
And love grown strong to enter into his,
And know the spirit that inhabits there.
One day his truth will spring to life in me,
And make me free, as God says "I am free."
When I am like him, then my soul will dawn
With the full glory of the God revealed--
Full as to me, though but one beam from him;
The light will shine, for I shall comprehend it:
In his light I shall see light. God can speak,
Yea, _will_ speak to me then, and I shall hear.
Not yet like him, how can I hear his words?
[_Stopping by the crib, and bending over the child_.]
My darling child! God's little daughter, drest
In human clothes, that light may thus be clad
In shining, so to reach my human eyes!
Come as a little Christ from heaven to earth,
To call me _father_, that my heart may know
What father means, and turn its eyes to God!
Sometimes I feel, when thou art clinging to me,
How all unfit this heart of mine to have
The guardianship of a bright thing like thee,
Come to entice, allure me back to God
By flitting round me, gleaming of thy home,
And radiating of thy purity
Into my stained heart; which unto thee
Shall ever show the father, answering
The divine childhood dwelling in thine eyes.
O how thou teachest me with thy sweet ways,
All ignorant of wherefore thou art come,
And what thou art to me, my heavenly ward,
Whose eyes have drunk that secret place's light
And pour it forth on me! God bless his own!
[_He resumes his walk, singing in a low voice_.]
My child woke crying from her sleep;
I bended o'er her bed,
And soothed her, till in slumber deep
She from the darkness fled.
And as beside my child I stood,
A still voice said in me--
"Even thus thy Father, strong and good,
Is bending over thee."
SCENE II.--_Rooms in Lord Seaford's house. A large company; dancers;
gentlemen looking on_.
Henry, what dark-haired queen is that? She moves
As if her body were instinct with thought,
Moulded to motion by the music's waves,
As floats the swan upon the swelling lake;
Or as in dreams one sees an angel move,
Sweeping on slow wings through the buoyant air,
Then folding them, and turning on his track.
You seem inspired; nor can I wonder at it;
She is a glorious woman; and such eyes!
Think--to be loved by such a woman now!
You have seen her, then, before: what is her name?
I saw her once; but could not learn her name.
She is the wife of an Italian count,
Who for some cause, political I think,
Took refuge in this country. His estates
The Church has eaten up, as I have heard:
Mephisto says the Church has a good stomach.
How do they live?
Poorly, I should suppose;
For she gives Lady Gertrude music-lessons:
That's how they know her.--Ah, you should hear her sing!
If she sings as she looks or as she dances,
It were as well for me I did not hear.
If Count Lamballa followed Lady Seaford
To heaven, I know who'd follow her on earth.
SCENE III.--_Julian's room_. LILY _asleep_.
I wish she would come home. When the child wakes,
I cannot bear to see her eyes first rest
On me, then wander searching through the room,
And then return and rest. And yet, poor Lilia!
'Tis nothing strange thou shouldst be glad to go
From this dull place, and for a few short hours
Have thy lost girlhood given back to thee;
For thou art very young for such hard things
As poor men's wives in cities must endure.
I am afraid the thought is not at rest,
But rises still, that she is not my wife--
Not truly, lawfully. I hoped the child
Would kill that fancy; but I fear instead,
She thinks I have begun to think the same--
Thinks that it lies a heavy weight of sin
Upon my heart. Alas, my Lilia!
When every time I pray, I pray that God
Would look and see that thou and I be one!
(_starting up in her crib_).
Oh, take me! take me!
(_going up to her with a smile_).
What is the matter with my little child?
I don't know, father; I was very frightened.
'Twas nothing but a dream. Look--I am with you.
I am wake now; I know you're there; but then
I did not know it.
Lie down now, darling. Go to sleep again.
Not yet. Don't tell me go to sleep again;
It makes me so, so frightened! Take me up,
And let me sit upon your knee.--Where's mother?
I cannot see her.
She's not at home, my child;
But soon she will be back.
But if she walk
Out in the dark streets--so dark, it will catch her.
She will not walk--but what would catch her, sweet?
I don't know. Tell me a story till she comes.
(_taking her, and sitting with her on his knees by the fire_).
Come then, my little Lily, I will tell you
A story I have read this very night.
[_She looks in his face_.]
There was a man who had a little boy,
And when the boy grew big, he went and asked
His father to give him a purse of money.
His father gave him such a large purse full!
And then he went away and left his home.
You see he did not love his father much.
Oh! didn't he?--If he had, he wouldn't have gone!
Away he went, far far away he went,
Until he could not even spy the top
Of the great mountain by his father's house.
And still he went away, away, as if
He tried how far his feet could go away;
Until he came to a city huge and wide,
Like London here.
Perhaps it was London.
Perhaps it was, my child. And there he spent
All, all his father's money, buying things
That he had always told him were not worth,
And not to buy them; but he would and did.
How very naughty of him!
Yes, my child.
And so when he had spent his last few pence,
He grew quite hungry. But he had none left
To buy a piece of bread. And bread was scarce;
Nobody gave him any. He had been
Always so idle, that he could not work.
But at last some one sent him to feed swine.
Yes, swine: 'twas all that he could do;
And he was glad to eat some of their food.
[_She stares at him_.]
But at the last, hunger and waking love
Made him remember his old happy home.
"How many servants in my father's house
Have plenty, and to spare!" he said. "I'll go
And say, 'I have done very wrong, my father;
I am not worthy to be called your son;
Put me among your servants, father, please.'"
Then he rose up and went; but thought the road
So much, much farther to walk back again,
When he was tired and hungry. But at last
He saw the blue top of the great big hill
That stood beside his father's house; and then
He walked much faster. But a great way off,
His father saw him coming, lame and weary
With his long walk; and very different
From what he had been. All his clothes were hanging
In tatters, and his toes stuck through his shoes--
[_She bursts into tears_.]
Like that poor beggar I saw yesterday?
Yes, my dear child.
And was he dirty too?
Yes, very dirty; he had been so long
Among the swine.
Is it all true though, father?
Yes, my darling; all true, and truer far
Than you can think.
What was his father like?
A tall, grand, stately man.
Like you, dear father?
Like me, only much grander.
I love you
The best though.
Well, all dirty as he was,
And thin, and pale, and torn, with staring eyes,
His father knew him, the first look, far off,
And ran so fast to meet him! put his arms
Around his neck and kissed him.
Oh, how dear!
I love him too;--but not so well as you.
[_Sound of a carriage drawing up_.]
There is your mother.
I am glad, so glad!
_Enter_ LILIA, _looking pale_.
You naughty child, why are you not in bed?
I am not naughty. I am afraid to go,
Because you don't go with me into sleep;
And when I see things, and you are not there,
Nor father, I am so frightened, I cry out,
And stretch my hands, and so I come awake.
Come with me into sleep, dear mother; come.
What a strange child it is! There! (_kissing her_) go to bed.
[_Lays her down_.]
(_gazing on the child_).
As thou art in thy dreams without thy mother,
So are we lost in life without our God.
SCENE IV.--LILIA _in bed. The room lighted from a gas-lamp in the
street; the bright shadow of the window on the wall and ceiling_.
Oh, it is dreary, dreary! All the time
My thoughts would wander to my dreary home.
Through every dance, my soul walked evermore
In a most dreary dance through this same room.
I saw these walls, this carpet; and I heard,
As now, his measured step in the next chamber,
Go pacing up and down, and I shut out!
He is too good for me, I weak for him.
Yet if he put his arms around me once,
And held me fast as then, kissed me as then,
My soul, I think, would come again to me,
And pass from me in trembling love to him.
But he repels me now. He loves me, true,--
Because I am his wife: he ought to love me!
Me, the cold statue, thus he drapes with duty.
Sometimes he waits upon me like a maid,
Silent with watchful eyes. Oh, would to Heaven,
He used me like a slave bought in the market!
Yes, used me roughly! So, I were his own;
And words of tenderness would falter in,
Relenting from the sternness of command.
But I am not enough for him: he needs
Some high-entranced maiden, ever pure,
And thronged with burning thoughts of God and him.
So, as he loves me not, his deeds for me
Lie on me like a sepulchre of stones.
Italian lovers love not so; but he
Has German blood in those great veins of his.
He never brings me now a little flower.
He sings low wandering sweet songs to the child;
But never sings to me what the voice-bird
Sings to the silent, sitting on the nest.
I would I were his child, and not his wife!
How I should love him then! Yet I have thoughts
Fit to be women to his mighty men;
And he would love them, if he saw them once.
Ah! there they come, the visions of my land!
The long sweep of a bay, white sands, and cliffs
Purple above the blue waves at their feet!
Down the full river comes a light-blue sail;
And down the near hill-side come country girls,
Brown, rosy, laden light with glowing fruits;
Down to the sands come ladies, young, and clad
For holiday; in whose hearts wonderment
At manhood is the upmost, deepest thought;
And to their side come stately, youthful forms,
Italy's youth, with burning eyes and hearts:--
Triumphant Love is lord of the bright day.
Yet one heart, under that blue sail, would look
With pity on their poor contentedness;
For he sits at the helm, I at his feet.
He sung a song, and I replied to him.
His song was of the wind that blew us down
From sheltered hills to the unsheltered sea.
Ah, little thought my heart that the wide sea,
Where I should cry for comforting in vain,
Was the expanse of his wide awful soul,
To which that wind was helpless drifting me!
I would he were less great, and loved me more.
I sung to him a song, broken with sighs,
For even then I feared the time to come:
"O will thine eyes shine always, love, as now?
And will thy lips for aye be sweetly curved?"
Said my song, flowing unrhymed from my heart.
"And will thy forehead ever, sunlike bend,
And suck my soul in vapours up to thee?
Ah love! I need love, beauty, and sweet odours.
Thou livest on the hoary mountains; I
In the warm valley, with the lily pale,
Shadowed with mountains and its own great leaves;
Where odours are the sole invisible clouds,
Making the heart weep for deliciousness.
Will thy eternal mountain always bear
Blue flowers upspringing at the glacier's foot?
Alas! I fear the storms, the blinding snow,
The vapours which thou gatherest round thy head,
Wherewith thou shuttest up thy chamber-door,
And goest from me into loneliness."
Ah me, my song! it is a song no more!
He is alone amid his windy rocks;
I wandering on a low and dreary plain!
[_She weeps herself asleep_.]
SCENE V.--LORD SEAFORD, _alternately writing at a table and
composing at his pianoforte_.
Eyes of beauty, eyes of light,
Sweetly, softly, sadly bright!
Draw not, ever, o'er my eye,
Radiant mists of ecstasy.
Be not proud, O glorious orbs!
Not your mystery absorbs;
But the starry soul that lies
Looking through your night of eyes.
One moment, be less perfect, sweet;
Sin once in something small;
One fault to lift me on my feet
From love's too perfect thrall!
For now I have no soul; a sea
Fills up my caverned brain,
Heaving in silent waves to thee,
The mistress of that main.
O angel! take my hand in thine;
Unfold thy shining silver wings;
Spread them around thy face and mine,
Close curtained in their murmurings.
But I should faint with too much bliss
To be alone in space with thee;
Except, O dread! one angel-kiss
In sweetest death should set me free.
O beauteous devil, tempt me, tempt me on,
Till thou hast won my soul in sighs;
I'll smile with thee upon thy flaming throne,
If thou wilt keep those eyes.
And if the meanings of untold desires
Should charm thy pain of one faint sting,
I will arise amid the scorching fires,
I will arise and sing.
O what is God to me? He sits apart
Amid the clear stars, passionless and cold.
Divine! thou art enough to fill my heart;
O fold me in thy heaven, sweet love, infold.
With too much life, I fall before thee dead.
With holding thee, my sense consumes in storm.
Thou art too keen a flame, too hallowed
For any temple but thy holy form.
SCENE VI.--_Julian's room next morning; no fire_. JULIAN _stands at
the window, looking into a London fog_.
And there are mountains on the earth, far-off;
Steep precipices laved at morn in wind
From the blue glaciers fresh; and falls that leap,
Springing from rock to pool abandonedly;
And all the spirit of the earth breathed out,
Bearing the soul, as on an altar-flame,
Aloft to God! And there is woman-love--
Far off, ah me!
[_Sitting down wearily_.]
--the heart of earth's delight
Withered from mine! O for a desert sea,
The cold sun flashing on the sailing icebergs!
Where I might cry aloud on God, until
My soul burst forth upon the wings of pain,
And fled to him. A numbness as of death
Infolds me. As in sleep I walk. I live,
But my dull soul can hardly keep awake.
Yet God is here as on the mountain-top,
Or on the desert sea, or lonely isle;
And I should know him here, if Lilia loved me,
As once I thought she did. But can I blame her?
The change has been too much for her to bear.
Can poverty make one of two hearts cold,
And warm the other with the love of God?
But then I have been silent, often moody,
Drowned in much questioning; and she has thought
That I was tired of her, while more than all
I pondered how to wake her living soul.
She cannot think why I should haunt my chamber,
Except a goaded conscience were my grief;
Thinks not of aught to gain, but all to shun.
Deeming, poor child, that I repent me thus
Of that which makes her mine for evermore,
It is no wonder if her love grow less.
Then I am older much than she; and this
Fever, I think, has made me old indeed
Before my fortieth year; although, within,
I seem as young as ever to myself.
O my poor Lilia! thou art not to blame;
I'll love thee more than ever; I will be
So gentle to thy heart where love lies dead!
For carefully men ope the door, and walk
With silent footfall through the room where lies,
Exhausted, sleeping, with its travail sore,
The body that erewhile hath borne a spirit.
Alas, my Lilia! where is dead Love's child?
I must go forth and do my daily work.
I thank thee, God, that it is hard sometimes
To do my daily labour; for, of old,
When men were poor, and could not bring thee much,
A turtle-dove was all that thou didst ask;
And so in poverty, and with a heart
Oppressed with heaviness, I try to do
My day's work well to thee,--my offering:
That he has taught me, who one day sat weary
At Sychar's well. Then home when I return,
I come without upbraiding thoughts to thee.
Ah! well I see man need not seek for penance--
Thou wilt provide the lamb for sacrifice;
Thou only wise enough to teach the soul,
Measuring out the labour and the grief,
Which it must bear for thy sake, not its own.
He neither chose his glory, nor devised
The burden he should bear; left all to God;
And of them both God gave to him enough.
And see the sun looks faintly through the mist;
It cometh as a messenger to me.
My soul is heavy, but I will go forth;
My days seem perishing, but God yet lives
And loves. I cannot feel, but will believe.
[_He rises and is going_. LILIA _enters, looking weary_.]
Look, my dear Lilia, how the sun shines out!
Shines out indeed! Yet 'tis not bad for England.
I would I were in Italy, my own!
'Tis the same sun that shines in Italy.
But never more will shine upon us there!
It is too late; all wishing is in vain;
But would that we had not so ill deserved
As to be banished from fair Italy!
Ah! my dear Lilia, do not, do not think
That God is angry when we suffer ill.
'Twere terrible indeed, if 'twere in anger.
Julian, I cannot feel as you. I wish
I felt as you feel.
God will hear you, child,
If you will speak to him. But I must go.
Kiss me, my Lilia.
[_She kisses him mechanically. He goes with a sigh_.]
It is plain to see
He tries to love me, but is weary of me.
Mother, have you been naughty? Mother, dear!
[_Pulling her hand from her face_.]
SCENE VII.--_Julian's room. Noon_. LILIA _at work_; LILY _playing in
(_running up to her mother_).
Sing me a little song; please, mother dear.
[LILIA, _looking off her work, and thinking with
fixed eyes for a few moments, sings_.]
Once I was a child,
Full of frolic wild;
All the stars for glancing,
All the earth for dancing;
When I ran about,
All the flowers came out,
Here and there like stray things,
Just to be my playthings.
Mother's eyes were deep,
Never needing sleep.
Morning--they're above me!
Eventide--they love me!
Father was so tall!
Stronger he than all!
On his arm he bore me,
Queen of all before me.
Mother is asleep;
For her eyes so deep,
Grew so tired and aching,
They could not keep waking.
Father, though so strong,
Laid him down along--
By my mother sleeping;
And they left me weeping,
Now nor bird, nor bee,
Ever sings to me!
Since they left me crying,
All things have been dying.
[LILY _looks long in her mother's face, as if wondering
what the song could be about; then turns away to the closet.
After a little she comes running with a box in her hand_.]
O mother, mother! there's the old box I had
So long ago, and all my cups and saucers,
And the farm-house and cows.--Oh! some are broken.
Father will mend them for me, I am sure.
I'll ask him when he comes to-night--I will:
He can do everything, you know, dear mother.
SCENE VIII.--_A merchants counting-house_. JULIAN _preparing to go
I would not give these days of common toil,
This murky atmosphere that creeps and sinks
Into the very soul, and mars its hue--
Not for the evenings when with gliding keel
I cut a pale green track across the west--
Pale-green, and dashed with snowy white, and spotted
With sunset crimson; when the wind breathed low,
So low it hardly swelled my xebec's sails,
That pointed to the south, and wavered not,
Erect upon the waters.--Jesus said
His followers should have a hundred fold
Of earth's most precious things, with suffering.--
In all the labourings of a weary spirit,
I have been bless'd with gleams of glorious things.
The sights and sounds of nature touch my soul,
No more look in from far.--I never see
Such radiant, filmy clouds, gathered about
A gently opening eye into the blue,
But swells my heart, and bends my sinking knee,
Bowing in prayer. The setting sun, before,
Signed only that the hour for prayer was come,
But now it moves my inmost soul to pray.
On this same earth He walked; even thus he looked
Upon its thousand glories; read them all;
In splendour let them pass on through his soul,
And triumph in their new beatitude,
Finding a heaven of truth to take them in;
But walked on steadily through pain to death.
Better to have the poet's heart than brain,
Feeling than song; but better far than both,
To be a song, a music of God's making;
A tablet, say, on which God's finger of flame,
In words harmonious, of triumphant verse,
That mingles joy and sorrow, sets down clear,
That out of darkness he hath called the light.
It may be voice to such is after given,
To tell the mighty tale to other worlds.
Oh! I am blest in sorrows with a hope
That steeps them all in glory; as gray clouds
Are bathed in light of roses; yea, I were
Most blest of men, if I were now returning
To Lilia's heart as presence. O my God,
I can but look to thee. And then the child!--
Why should my love to her break out in tears?
Why should she be only a consolation,
And not an added joy, to fill my soul
With gladness overflowing in many voices
Of song, and prayer--and weeping only when
Words fainted 'neath the weight of utterance?
SCENE IX.--LILIA _preparing to go out_. LILY.
Don't go to-night again.
Why, child, your father
Will soon be home; and then you will not miss me.
Oh, but I shall though! and he looks so sad
When you're not here!
He cannot look much sadder
Than when I am. I am sure 'tis a relief
To find his child alone when he returns.
Will you go, mother? Then I'll go and cry
Till father comes. He'll take me on his knee,
And tell such lovely tales: you never do--
Nor sing me songs made all for my own self.
He does not kiss me half so many times
As you do, mother; but he loves me more.
Do you love father, too? I love him _so_!
There's such a pretty book! Sit on the stool,
And look at the pictures till your father comes.
(_putting the book down, and going to the window_).
I wish he would come home. I wish he would.
Oh, there he is!
[_Running up to him_.]
Oh, now I am so happy!
I had not time to watch before you came.
(_taking her in his arms_).
I am very glad to have my little girl;
I walked quite fast to come to her again.
I do, _do_ love you. Shall I tell you something?
Think I should like to tell you. Tis a dream
That I went into, somewhere in last night.
I was alone--quite;--you were not with me,
So I must tell you. 'Twas a garden, like
That one you took me to, long, long ago,
When the sun was so hot. It was not winter,
But some of the poor leaves were growing tired
With hanging there so long. And some of them
Gave it up quite, and so dropped down and lay
Quiet on the ground. And I was watching them.
I saw one falling--down, down--tumbling down--
Just at the earth--when suddenly it spread
Great wings and flew.--It was a butterfly,
So beautiful with wings, black, red, and white--
I thought it was a crackly, withered leaf.
Away it flew! I don't know where it went.
And so I thought, I have a story now
To tell dear father when he comes to Lily.
Thank you, my child; a very pretty dream.
But I am tired--will you go find another--
Another dream somewhere in sleep for me?
O yes, I will.--Perhaps I cannot find one.
[_He lays her down to sleep; then sits musing_.]
What shall I do to give it life again?
To make it spread its wings before it fall,
And lie among the dead things of the earth?
I cannot go to sleep. Please, father, sing
The song about the little thirsty lily.
Little white Lily
Sat by a stone,
Drooping and waiting
Till the sun shone.
Little white Lily
Sunshine has fed;
Little white Lily
Is lifting her head.
Little white Lily
Said, "It is good:
Little white Lily's
Clothing and food!
Little white Lily
Drest like a bride!
Shining with whiteness,
And crowned beside!"
Little white Lily
Droopeth in pain,
Waiting and waiting
For the wet rain.
Little white Lily
Holdeth her cup;
Rain is fast falling,
And filling it up.
Little white Lily
Said, "Good again,
When I am thirsty
To have nice rain!
Now I am stronger,
Now I am cool;
Heat cannot burn me,
My veins are so full!"
Little white Lily
Smells very sweet:
On her head sunshine,
Rain at her feet.
"Thanks to the sunshine!
Thanks to the rain!
Little white Lily
Is happy again!"
[_He is silent for a moment; then goes and looks at her_.]
She is asleep, the darling! Easily
Is Sleep enticed to brood on childhood's heart.
Gone home unto thy Father for the night!
[_He returns to his seat_.]
I have grown common to her. It is strange--
This commonness--that, as a blight, eats up
All the heart's springing corn and promised fruit.
This room is very common: everything
Has such a well-known look of nothing in it;
And yet when first I called it hers and mine,
There was a mystery inexhaustible
About each trifle on the chimney-shelf:
The gilding now is nearly all worn off.
Even she, the goddess of the wonder-world,
Seems less mysterious and worshipful:
No wonder I am common in her eyes.
Alas! what must I think? Is this the true?
Was that the false that was so beautiful?
Was it a rosy mist that wrapped it round?
Or was love to the eyes as opium,
Making all things more beauteous than they were?
And can that opium do more than God
To waken beauty in a human brain?
Is this the real, the cold, undraperied truth--
A skeleton admitted as a guest
At life's loud feast, wearing a life-like mask?
No, no; my heart would die if I believed it.
A blighting fog uprises with the days,
False, cold, dull, leaden, gray. It clings about
The present, far dragging like a robe; but ever
Forsakes the past, and lets its hues shine out:
On past and future pours the light of heaven.
The Commonplace is of the present mind.
The Lovely is the True. The Beautiful
Is what God made. Men from whose narrow bosoms
The great child-heart has withered, backward look
To their first-love, and laugh, and call it folly,
A mere delusion to which youth is subject,
As childhood to diseases. They know better!
And proud of their denying, tell the youth,
On whom the wonder of his being shines,
That will be over with him by and by:
"I was so when a boy--look at me now!"
Youth, be not one of them, but love thy love.
So with all worship of the high and good,
And pure and beautiful. These men are wiser!
Their god, Experience, but their own decay;
Their wisdom but the gray hairs gathered on them.
Yea, some will mourn and sing about their loss,
And for the sake of sweet sounds cherish it,
Nor yet believe that it was more than seeming.
But he in whom the child's heart hath not died,
But grown a man's heart, loveth yet the Past;
Believes in all its beauty; knows the hours
Will melt the mist; and that, although this day
Cast but a dull stone on Time's heaped-up cairn,
A morning light will break one morn and draw
The hidden glories of a thousand hues
Out from its diamond-depths and ruby-spots
And sapphire-veins, unseen, unknown, before.
Far in the future lies his refuge. Time
Is God's, and all its miracles are his;
And in the Future he overtakes the Past,
Which was a prophecy of times to come:
_There_ lie great flashing stars, the same that shone
In childhood's laughing heaven; there lies the wonder
In which the sun went down and moon arose;
The joy with which the meadows opened out
Their daisies to the warming sun of spring;
Yea, all the inward glory, ere cold fear
Froze, or doubt shook the mirror of his soul:
To reach it, he must climb the present slope
Of this day's duty--here he would not rest.
But all the time the glory is at hand,
Urging and guiding--only o'er its face
Hangs ever, pledge and screen, the bridal veil:
He knows the beauty radiant underneath;
He knows that God who is the living God,
The God of living things, not of the dying,
Would never give his child, for God-born love,
A cloud-made phantom, fading in the sun.
Faith vanishes in sight; the cloudy veil
Will melt away, destroyed of inward light.
If thy young heart yet lived, my Lilia, thou
And I might, as two children, hand in hand,
Go home unto our Father.--I believe
It only sleeps, and may be wakened yet.
SCENE X.--_Julian's room. Christmas Day; early morn_. JULIAN.
The light comes feebly, slowly, to the world
On this one day that blesses all the year,
Just as it comes on any other day:
A feeble child he came, yet not the less
Brought godlike childhood to the aged earth,
Where nothing now is common any more.
All things had hitherto proclaimed God:
The wide spread air; the luminous mist that hid
The far horizon of the fading sea;
The low persistent music evermore
Flung down upon the sands, and at the base
Of the great rocks that hold it as a cup;
All things most common; the furze, now golden, now
Opening dark pods in music to the heat
Of the high summer-sun at afternoon;
The lone black tarn upon the round hill-top,
O'er which the gray clouds brood like rising smoke,
Sending its many rills, o'erarched and hid,
Singing like children down the rocky sides;--
Where shall I find the most unnoticed thing,
For that sang God with all its voice of song?
But men heard not, they knew not God in these;
To their strange speech unlistening ears were strange;
For with a stammering tongue and broken words,
With mingled falsehoods and denials loud,
Man witnessed God unto his fellow man:
How then himself the voice of Nature hear?
Or how himself he heeded, when, the leader,
He in the chorus sang a discord vile?
When prophet lies, how shall the people preach?
But when He came in poverty, and low,
A real man to half-unreal men,
A man whose human thoughts were all divine,
The head and upturned face of human kind--
Then God shone forth from all the lowly earth,
And men began to read their maker there.
Now the Divine descends, pervading all.
Earth is no more a banishment from heaven;
But a lone field among the distant hills,
Well ploughed and sown, whence corn is gathered home.
Now, now we feel the holy mystery
That permeates all being: all is God's;
And my poor life is terribly sublime.
Where'er I look, I am alone in God,
As this round world is wrapt in folding space;
Behind, before, begin and end in him:
So all beginnings and all ends are hid;
And he is hid in me, and I in him.
Oh, what a unity, to mean them all!--
The peach-dyed morn; cold stars in colder blue
Gazing across upon the sun-dyed west,
While the dank wind is running o'er the graves;
Green buds, red flowers, brown leaves, and ghostly snow;
The grassy hills, breeze-haunted on the brow;
And sandy deserts hung with stinging stars!
Half-vanished hangs the moon, with daylight sick,
Wan-faced and lost and lonely: daylight fades--
Blooms out the pale eternal flower of space,
The opal night, whose odours are gray dreams--
Core of its petal-cup, the radiant moon!
All, all the unnumbered meanings of the earth,
Changing with every cloud that passes o'er;
All, all, from rocks slow-crumbling in the frost
Of Alpine deserts, isled in stormy air,
To where the pool in warm brown shadow sleeps,
The stream, sun-ransomed, dances in the sun;
All, all, from polar seas of jewelled ice,
To where she dreams out gorgeous flowers--all, all
The unlike children of her single womb!
Oh, my heart labours with infinitude!
All, all the messages that these have borne
To eyes and ears, and watching, listening souls;
And all the kindling cheeks and swelling hearts,
That since the first-born, young, attempting day,
Have gazed and worshipped!--What a unity,
To mean each one, yet fuse each in the all!
O centre of all forms! O concord's home!
O world alive in one condensed world!
O face of Him, in whose heart lay concealed
The fountain-thought of all this kingdom of heaven!
Lord, thou art infinite, and I am thine!
I sought my God; I pressed importunate;
I spoke to him, I cried, and in my heart
It seemed he answered me. I said--"Oh! take
Me nigh to thee, thou mighty life of life!
I faint, I die; I am a child alone
'Mid the wild storm, the brooding desert-night."
"Go thou, poor child, to him who once, like thee,
Trod the highways and deserts of the world."
"Thou sendest me then, wretched, from thy sight!
Thou wilt not have me--I am not worth thy care!"
"I send thee not away; child, think not so;
From the cloud resting on the mountain-peak,
I call to guide thee in the path by which
Thou may'st come soonest home unto my heart.
I, I am leading thee. Think not of him
As he were one and I were one; in him
Thou wilt find me, for he and I are one.
Learn thou to worship at his lowly shrine,
And see that God dwelleth in lowliness."
I came to Him; I gazed upon his face;
And Lo! from out his eyes God looked on me!--
Yea, let them laugh! I _will_ sit at his feet,
As a child sits upon the ground, and looks
Up in his mother's face. One smile from him,
One look from those sad eyes, is more to me
Than to be lord myself of hearts and thoughts.
O perfect made through the reacting pain
In which thy making force recoiled on thee!
Whom no less glory could make visible
Than the utter giving of thyself away;
Brooding no thought of grandeur in the deed,
More than a child embracing from full heart!
Lord of thyself and me through the sore grief
Which thou didst bear to bring us back to God,
Or rather, bear in being unto us
Thy own pure shining self of love and truth!
When I have learned to think thy radiant thoughts,
To love the truth beyond the power to know it,
To bear my light as thou thy heavy cross,
Nor ever feel a martyr for thy sake,
But an unprofitable servant still,--
My highest sacrifice my simplest duty
Imperative and unavoidable,
Less than which _All_, were nothingness and waste;
When I have lost myself in other men,
And found myself in thee--the Father then
Will come with thee, and will abide with me.
* * * * *
SCENE XI.--LILIA _teaching_ LADY GERTRUDE. _Enter_ LORD SEAFORD.
LILIA _rises_. _He places her a chair, and seats himself at the
instrument; plays a low, half-melancholy, half-defiant prelude, and
Look on the magic mirror;
A glory thou wilt spy;
Be with thine heart a sharer,
But go not thou too nigh;
Else thou wilt rue thine error,
With a tear-filled, sleepless eye.
The youth looked on the mirror,
And he went not too nigh;
And yet he rued his error,
With a tear-filled, sleepless eye;
For he could not be a sharer
In what he there did spy.
He went to the magician
Upon the morrow morn.
"Mighty," was his petition,
"Look not on me in scorn;
But one last gaze elision,
Lest I should die forlorn!"
He saw her in her glory,
Floating upon the main.
Ah me! the same sad story!
The darkness and the rain!
If I live till I am hoary,
I shall never laugh again.
She held the youth enchanted,
Till his trembling lips were pale,
And his full heart heaved and panted
To utter all its tale:
Forward he rushed, undaunted--
And the shattered mirror fell.
[_He rises and leaves the room. LILIA weeping_.]
And should the twilight darken into night,
And sorrow grow to anguish, be thou strong;
Thou art in God, and nothing can go wrong
Which a fresh life-pulse cannot set aright.
That thou dost know the darkness, proves the light.
Weep if thou wilt, but weep not all too long;
Or weep and work, for work will lead to song.
But search thy heart, if, hid from all thy sight,
There lies no cause for beauty's slow decay;
If for completeness and diviner youth,
And not for very love, thou seek'st the truth;
If thou hast learned to give thyself away
For love's own self, not for thyself, I say:
Were God's love less, the world were lost, in sooth!
Back to Full Books