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But his words are drowned in the wind's
course. “Nay hear, nay hear, you must hear perforce,
Little brother !”
(O Mother, Mary Mother, What word now heard, between Hell and
“ He sends a ring and a broken coin,
Sister Helen, And bids you mind the banks of Boyne." ** What else he broke will he ever join,
Little brother ?”
(O Mother, Mary Mother, No, never joined, between Helland
Heaven :) "He yields you these and craves full fain,
(O Mother, Mary Mother, Not twice to give, between Hell and
Heaven !) “ He calls your name in an agony,
Sister Helen, That even dead Love must weep to see." Hate, born of Love, is blind as he,
Little brother !"
(O Mother, Mary Mother, Love turned to hate, between Hell and
Heaven!) " Oh it's Keith of Keith now that rides fast,
Sister Helen, For I know the white hair on the blast.” • The short, short hour will soon be past,
(O Mother, Mary Mother, Will soon be past, between Hell and
Heaven !) “ He looks at me and he tries to speak,
Sister Helen, But oh! his voice is sad and weak!" “What here should the mighty Baron
(O Mother, Mary Mother, Is this the end, between Hell and Hearen ) Oh his son still cries, if you forgive,
Sister Helen, The body dies, but the soul shall live." Fire shall forgive me as I forgive,
(O Mother, Mary Mother, As she forgives, between Hell and
Heaven !) “ Oh he prays you, as his heart would rive,
Sister Helen, To save his dear son's soul alive." Fire cannot slay it, it shall thrive,
(O Mother, Mary Mother, Alas, alas, between Hell and Heaven!) “ He cries to you, kneeling in the road,
Sister Helen, To go with him for the love of God!" · The way is long to his son's abode,
(O Mother, Mary Mother, The way is long, between Hell and
Heaven !) “ A lady's here, by a dark steed brought,
(O Mother, Mary Mother, What more to see, between Hell and
Heaven ?) “ Her hood falls back, and the moon shines fair,
Sister Helen, On the Lady of Ewern's golden hair.". · Blest hour of my power and her despair,
(O Mother, Mary Mother, Hour blest and bann'd, between Hell and
Heaven !) “ Pale, pale her cheeks, that in pride did glow,
Sister Helen, 'Neath the bridal-wreath three days ago." One morn for pride and three days for
(O Mother, Mary Mother, Three days, three nights, beturen Hell
and Heaven !)
er clasped hands stretch from her bending head,
Sister Helen ; h the loud wind's wail her sobs are
wed." That wedding-strains hath her bridalbed,
Little brother ?"
(O Mother, Mary Mother, at strain but death's, between Hell
and Heaven )
he may not speak, she sinks in a Swoon,
Sister Helen, lifts her lips and gasps on the moon." Dh! might I but hear her soul's blithe tune,
Little brother !”
(O Mother, Mary Mother. r woe's dumb cry, between Hell and
Heaven !) Chey've caught her to Westholm's saddle-bow,
Sister Helen, id her moonlit hair gleams white in
its flow." Let it turn whiter than winter snow,
(O Mother. Mary Mother, 've-withered gold, between Hell und
(O Mother, Mary Mother, The naked soul, between Hell and
Heaven!) Flank to flank are the three steeds gone,
Sister Helen, But the lady's dark steed goes alone." · And lonely her bridegroom's soul hath flown,
(O Mother, Mary Mother. The lonely ghost, between Hell and
Heaven!) “Oh the wind is sad in the iron chill,
Sister Helen, And weary sad they look by the hill." * But he and I are sadder still,
Little brother !"
(O Mother, Mary Mother, Most sad of all, between Hell and
Heaven!) “See, see, the wax has dropped from its place,
Sister Helen, And the flames are winning up apace!” Yet here they burn but for a space,
(O Mother, Mary Mother, Here for a space, between Hell and
Heaven !) “ Ah ! what white thing at the door has crossid,
Sister Helen ? Ah! what is this that sighs in the frost ?” * A soul that's lost as mine is lost,
(O Mother, Mary Mother, Lost, lost, all lost, between Hell and Heaven!)
O Sister Helen, you heard the bell,
Sister Helen ! ore loud than the vesper-chime it fell." No vesper-chime, but a dying knell,
(O Mother, Mary Mother, 'is dying knell, between Hell and
THE BURDEN OF NINEVEH
Alas! but I fear the heavy sound,
Sister Helen ; ; it in the sky or in the ground ?" Say, have they turned their horses round,
(O Jother. Mary Mother, Vhat would she more, between Hell and
IN our Museum galleries
From hour to hour rejoicing me.
A winged beast from Nineveh.
They have raised the old man from his knee,
Sister Helen, And they ride in silence hastily.' More fast the naked soul doti flee,
'T was bull, 't was mitred Minotaur,
A dead disbowelled mystery ; The mummy of a buried faith Stark from the charnel without scathe, Its wings stood for the light to bathe,Such fossil cerements as might swathe
The very corpse of Nineveh. The print of its first rush-wrapping. Wound ere it dried, still ribbed the
thing. What song did the brown maidens sing, From purple mouths alternating,
When that was woven languidly ? What vows, what rites, what prayers
preferr’d, What songs has the strange image
heard ? In what blind vigil stood interr'd For ages, till an English word
Broke silence first at Nineveh ?
Smote him between the altar-stones :
Of gold, her incense brought to thee,
shade Within his trenches newly made Last year the Christian knelt and
pray'dNot to thy strength-in Nineveh. Now, thou poor god, within this hall Where the blank windows blind the wall From pedestal to pedestal, The kind of light shall on thee fall
Which Loudon takes the day to be: While school-foundations in the act Of holiday, three files compact, Shall learn to view thee as a fact Connected with that zealous tract:
· Rome,- Babylon and Nineveh." Deemed they of this, those worshippers, When, in some mythic chain of verse Which man shall not again rehearse, The faces of thy ministers
Yearned pale with bitter ecstasy? Greece, Egypt, Rome,-did any god Before whose feet men knelt unshod Deem that in this unblest abode Another scarce more unknown god
Should house with him, from Nineveh!
Oh when upon each sculptured court, Where even the wind might not re
sort, O'er which Time passed, of like import With the wild Arab boys at sport,
A living face looked in to see :Oh seemed it not—the spell once brokeAs though the carven warriors woke, As though the shaft the string forsook, The cymbals clashed, the chariots shook,
And there was life in Nineveh ? On London stones our sun anew The beast's recovered shadow threw. (No shade that plague of darkness knew, No light, no shade, while older grew
By ages the old earth and sea.) Lo thou ! could all thy priests have
shown Such proof to make thy godhead known? From their dead Past thou liv'st alone And still thy shadow is thine own
Even as of yore in Nineveh. That day whereof we keep record, When near thy city-gates the Lord Sheltered his Jonah with a gourd, This sun. (I said) here present, pour'd
Even thus this shadow that I see.
Ah ! in what quarries lay the stone From which this pygmy pile has grown. Unto man's need how long unknown. Since thy vast temples, court and cone,
Rose far in desert history? Ah! what is here that does not lie All strange to thine awakened eye? Ah! what is here can testify (Save that dumb presence of the sky)
Unto thy day and Nineveh ?
Why, of those mummies in the room
Of these thine own “antiquity "?
Whether of Thebes or Nineveh?
The consecrated metals found,
Fell into dust immediately. And even as these, the images Of awe and worship,-even as these,So, smitten with the sun's increase, Her glory mouldered and did cease From immemorial Nineveh.
They followed forms which had been
pass, till on my sight should burst That future of the best or worst When some may question which was
first, Of London or of Nineveh.
The day her builders made their halt,
With sardonyx and porphyry,
The day when he, Pride's lord and Man's,
And said, Fall down and worship me :Mid all the pomp beneath that look, Then stirred there, haply, some rebuke, Where to the wind the salt pools shook, And in those tracts, of life forsook,
That knew thee not, O Nineveh ! Delicate harlot ! On thy throne Thou with a world beneath thee prone In state for ages sat'st alone ; And needs were years and lustres flown Ere strength of man could vanquish
thee : Whom even thy victor foes must bring, Still royal, among maids that sing As with doves' voices, taboring Upon their breasts, unto the King,A kingly conquest, Nineveh !
Here woke my thought. The
wind's slow sway. Had waxed ; and like the human play Of scorn that smiling spreads away, The sunshine shivered off the day :
The callous wind, it seemed to me, Swept up the shadow from the ground : And pale as whom the Fates astound, The god forlorn stood winged and
crown'd; Within I knew the cry lay bound
Of the dumb soul of Nineveh.
For as that Bull-god once did stand
And blinded him with destiny :-
Of London, not of Nineveh !
More clear than later times may be : Who, finding in this desert place This form, shall hold us for some race That walked not in Christ's lowly ways, But bowed its pride and vowed its praise
Unto the god of Nineveh. The smile rose first,-anon drew nigh The thought : .. Those heavy wings
spread high So sure of flight, which do not fly ; That set gaze never on the sky;
Those scriptured flanks it cannot see ; Its crown, a brow-contracting load ; Its planted feet which trust the sod:... (So grew the image as I trod :) O Nineveh, was this thy God, ---
Thine also, mighty Nineveh? 1856.
AT THE DOOR OF SIMON THE PHARISEE
(For a Drawing :) “ WHY wilt thou cast the roses from thine
hair? Nay, be thou all a rose,-wreath, lips,
and cheek. Nay, not this house,-that banquet
house we seek ; See how they kiss and enter ; come thou
there. 1 In the drawing Mary has left a festal proces. sion, and is ascending by a sudden impulse the steps of the house where she sees Christ. Her lover has followed her and is trying to turn her back.
And as I turned, my sense half shut
This delicate day of love we two will Weary labor laid a-heap; share
Interludes, Till at our ear love's whispering night Some, of grievous moods that weey
shall speak. What, sweet one,--hold'st thou still the Poets' fancies all are there : foolish freak?
There the elf-girls flood with wins Nay, when I kiss thy feet they 'll leave Valleys full of plaintive air; the stair.”
There breathe perfumes; there “Oh loose me! See'st thou not my
rings Bridegroom's face
Whirl the foam-bewildered spring That draw's me to Him? For His feet
Winds her dizzy hair and sings. My hair, my tears He craves to-day :-and oh!
Thence the one dream mutually What words can tell what other day and
Dreamed in bridal unison), place
Less than waking ecstasy : Shall see me clasp those blood-stained
Half-formed visions that make mai feet of His ?
In the house of birth alone; He needs me, calls me, loves me: let me
And what we, 1856-7. 1870. At death's wicket, see, unknown. ASPECTA MEDUSA
But for mine own sleep, it lies
In one gracious form's control, (For a Drawing)
Fair with honorable eyes, ANDROMEDA, by Perseus saved and wed,
Lamps of a translucent soul; Hankered each day to see the Gorgon's
O their glance is loftiest dole,
Sweet and wise, head:
Wherein Love descries his goal Till o'er a fount he held it, bade her lean, And mirrored in the wave was safely Reft of her, my dreams are all
Clammy trance that fears the sky: That death she lived by.
Changing footpaths shift and fall; Let not thine eves know Any forbidden thing itself, although
From polluted coverts nigh,
Miserable phantoms sigh: It once should save as well as kill: but
Quakes the pall, be
And the funeral goes by. Its shadow upon life enough for thee.
1870. Master, is it soothly said LOVE'S NOCTURN
That, as echoes of man's speech
Far in secret clefts are made, MASTER of the murmuring courts
So do all men's bodies reach Where the shapes of sleep convene
Shadows o'er thy sunken beach,Lo! my spirit here exhorts
Shape or shade All the powers of thy demesne
In those halls portrayed of each? For their aid to woo my queen. What reports
Ah! might I, by thy good grace Yield thy jealous courts unseen?
Groping in the windy stair,
(Darkness and the breath of space, Vaporous, unaccountable,
Like loud waters everywhere). Dreamland lies forlorn of light,
Meeting mine own image there Hollow like a breathing shell.
Face to face, Ah! that from all dreams I might Send it from that place to her! Choose one dream and guide its flight! I know well
Nay, not I; but oh! do thou, What her sleep should tell to-night. Master, from thy shadow kind
Call my body's phantom now: There the dreams are multitudes :
Bid it bear its face declin'd Some that will not wait for sleep,
Till its fight her slumbers find, Deep within the August woods :
And her brow Some that hum while rest may steep Feel its presence bow like wind.