Dust are our frames; and gilded dust, our pride
Looks only for a moment whole and sound;
Like that long-buried body of the king,
Found lying with his urns and ornaments,
Which at a touch of light, an air of heaven,
Slipt into ashes and was found no more.
Here is a story which in rougher shape
Came from a grizzled cripple, whom I saw
Sunning himself in a waste field alone
Old, and a mine of memorieswho had served,
Long since, a bygone Rector of the place,
And been himself a part of what he told.
Sir Aaylmer Aylmer that almighty man,
The county Godin whose capacious hall,
Hung with a hundred shields, the family tree
Sprang from the midriff of a prostrate king
Whose blazing wyvern weathercockd the spire,
Stood from his walls and wingd his entry-gates
And swang besides on many a windy sign
Whose eyes from under a pyramidal head
Saw from his windows nothing save his own
What lovelier of his own had he than her,
His only child, his Edith, whom he loved
As heiress and not heir regretfully?
But he that marries her marries her name
This fiat somewhat soothed himself and wife,
His wife a faded beauty of the Baths,
Insipid as the Queen upon a card;
Her all of thought and bearing hardly more
Than his own shadow in a sickly sun.
A land of hops and poppy-mingled corn,
Little about it stirring save a brook!
A sleepy land where under the same wheel
The same old rut would deepen year by year;
Where almost all the village had one name;
Where Aylmer followd Aylmer at the Hall
And Averill Averill at the Rectory
Thrice over; so that Rectory and Hall,
Bound in an immemorial intimacy,
Were open to each other; tho to dream
That Love could bind them closer well had made
The hoar hair of the Baronet bristle up
With horror, worse than had he heard his priest
Preach an inverted scripture, sons of men
Daughters of God; so sleepy was the land.
And might not Averill, had he willd it so,
Somewhere beneath his own low range of roofs,
Have also set his many-shielded tree?
There was an Aylmer-Averill marriage once,
When the red rose was redder than itself,
And Yorks white rose as red as Lancasters,
With wounded peace which each had prickd to death.
Not proven Averill said, or laughingly
Some other race of Averillsprovn or no,
What cared he? what, if other or the same?
He leand not on his fathers but himself.
But Leolin, his brother, living oft
With Averill, and a year or two before
Calld to the bar, but ever calld away
By one low voice to one dear neighborhood,
Would often, in his walks with Edith, claim
A distant kinship to the gracious blood
That shook the heart of Edith hearing him.
Sanguine he was: a but less vivid hue
Than of that islet in the chestnut-bloom
Flamed his cheek; and eager eyes, that still
Took joyful note of all things joyful, beamd,
Beneath a manelike mass of rolling gold,
Their best and brightest, when they dwelt on hers.
Edith, whose pensive beauty, perfect else,
But subject to the season or the mood,
Shone like a mystic star between the less
And greater glory varying to and fro,
We know not wherefore; bounteously made,
And yet so finely, that a troublous touch
Thinnd, or would seem to thin her in a day,
A joyous to dilate, as toward the light.
And these had been together from the first.
Leolins first nurse was, five years after, hers:
So much the boy foreran; but when his date
Doubled her own, for want of playmates, he
(Since Averill was a decad and a half
His elder, and their parents underground)
Had tost his ball and flown his kite, and rolld
His hoop to pleasure Edith, with her dipt
Against the rush of the air in the prone swing,
Made blossom-ball or daisy-chain, arranged
Her garden, sowd her name and kept it green
In living letters, told her fairy-tales,
Showd here the fairy footings on the grass,
The little dells of cowslip, fairy palms,
The petty marestail forest, fairy pines,
Or from the tiny pitted target blew
What lookd a flight of fairy arrows aimd
All at one mark, all hitting: make-believes
For Edith and himself: or else he forged,
But that was later, boyish histories
Of battle, bold adventure, dungeon, wreck,
Flights, terrors, sudden rescues, and true love
Crownd after trial; sketches rude and faint,
But where a passion yet unborn perhaps
Lay hidden as the music of the moon
Sleeps in the plain eggs of the nightingale.
And thus together, save for college-times
Or Temple-eaten terms, a couple, fair
As ever painter painted, poet sang,
Or Heavn in lavish bounty moulded, grew.
And more and more, the maiden woman-grown,
He wasted hours with Averill; there, when first
The tented winter-field was broken up
Into that phalanx of the summer spears
That soon should wear the garland; there again
When burr and bine were gatherd; lastly there
At Christmas; ever welcome at the Hall,
On whose dull sameness his full tide of youth
Broke with a phosphorescence cheering even
My lady; and the Baronet yet had laid
No bar between them: dull and self-involved,
Tall and erect, but bending from his height
With half-allowing smiles for all the world,
And mighty courteous in the mainhis pride
Lay deeper than to wear it as his ring
He, like an Aylmer in his Aylmerism,
Would care no more for Leolins walking with her
Than for his old Newfoundlands, when they ran
To loose him at the stables, for he rose
Twofooted at the limit of his chain,
Roaring to make a third: and how should Love,
Whom the cross-lightnings of four chance-met eyes
Flash into fiery life from nothing, follow
Such dear familiarities of dawn?
Seldom, but when he does, Master of all.
So these young hearts not knowing that they loved,
Not she at least, nor conscious of a bar
Between them, nor by plight or broken ring
Bound, but an immemorial intimacy,
Wanderd at will, but oft accompanied
By Averill: his, a brothers love, that hung
With wings of brooding shelter oer her peace,
Might have been other, save for Leolins
Who knows? but so they wanderd, hour by hour
Gatherd the blossom that rebloomd, and drank
The magic cup that filld itself anew.
A whisper half reveald her to herself.
For out beyond her lodges, where the brook
Vocal, with here and there a silence, ran
By sallowy rims, arose the laborers homes,
A frequent haunt of Edith, on low knolls
That dimpling died into each other, huts
At random scatterd, each a nest in bloom.
Her art, her hand, her counsel all had wrought
About them: here was one that, summer-blanchd,
Was parcel-bearded with the travellers-joy
In Autumn, parcel ivy-clad; and here
The warm-blue breathings of a hidden hearth
Broke from a bower of vine and honeysuckle:
One lookd all rosetree, and another wore
A close-set robe of jasmine sown with stars:
This had a rosy sea of gillyflowers
About it; this, a milky-way on earth,
Like visions in the Northern dreamers heavens,
A lily-avenue climbing to the doors;
One, almost to the martin-haunted eaves
A summer burial deep in hollyhocks;
Each, its own charm; and Ediths everywhere;
And Edith ever visitant with him,
He but less loved than Edith, of her poor:
For sheso lowly-lovely and so loving,
Queenly responsive when the loyal hand
Rose from the clay it workd in as she past,
Not sowing hedgerow texts and passing by,
Nor dealing goodly counsel from a height
That makes the lowest hate it, but a voice
Of comfort and an open hand of help,
A splendid presence flattering the poor roofs
Revered as theirs, but kindlier than themselves
To ailing wife or wailing infancy
Or old bedridden palsy,was adored;
He, loved for her and for himself.A grasp
Having the warmth and muscle of the heart,
A childly way with children, and a laugh
Ringing like proved golden coinage true,
Were no false passport to that easy realm,
Where once with Leolin at her side the girl,
Nursing a child, and turning to the warmth
The tender pink five-beaded baby-soles,
Heard the good mother softly whisper Bless,
God bless em; marriages are made in Heaven.
A flash of semi-jealousy cleard it to her.
My Ladys Indian kinsman unannounced
With half a score of swarthy faces came.
His own, tho keen and bold and soldierly,
Seard by the close ecliptic, was not fair;
Fairer his talk, a tongue that ruled the hour,
Tho seeming boastful: so when first he dashd
Into the chronicle of a deedful day,
Sir Aylmer half forgot his lazy smile
Of patron Good! my ladys kinsman! good!
My lady with her fingers interlockd,
And rotatory thumbs on silken knees,
Calld all her vital spirits into each ear
To listen: unawares they flitted off,
Busying themselves about the flowerage
That stood from our a stiff brocade in which,
The meteor of a splendid season, she,
Once with this kinsman, ah so long ago,
Stept thro the stately minuet of those days:
But Ediths eager fancy hurried with him
Snatchd thro the perilous passes of his life:
Till Leolin ever watchful of her eye
Hated him with a momentary hate.
Wife-hunting, as the rumor ran, was he:
I know not, for he spoke not, only showerd
His oriental gifts on everyone
And most on Edith: like a storm he came,
And shook the house, and like a storm he went.
Among the gifts he left her (possibly
He flowd and ebbd uncertain, to return
When others had been tested) there was one,
A dagger, in rich sheath with jewels on it
Sprinkled about in gold that branchd itself
Fine as ice-ferns on January panes
Made by a breath.I know not whence at first,
Nor of what race, the work; but as he told
The story, storming a hill-fort of thieves
He got it; for their captain after fight,
His comrades having fought their last below,
Was climbing up the valley; at whom he shot:
Down from the beetling crag to which he clung
Tumbled the tawny rascal at his feet,
This dagger with him, which when now admired
By Edith whom his pleasure was to please,
At once the costly Sahib yielded it to her.
And Leolin, coming after he was gone,
Tost over all her presents petulantly:
And when she showd the wealthy scabbard, saying
Look what a lovely piece of workmanship!
Slight was his answer WellI care not for it:
Then playing with the blade he prickd his hand,
A gracious gift to give a lady, this!
But would it be more gracious askd the girl
Were I to give this gift of his to one
That is no lady?Gracious?No said he.
Me?but I cared not for it.O pardon me,
I seem to be ungraciousness itself.
Take it she added sweetly tho his gift;
For I am more ungracious evn than you,
I care not for it either; and he said
Why then I love it: but Sir Aylmer past,
And neither loved nor liked the thing he heard.
The next day came a neighbor.Blues and reds
They talkd of: blues were sure of it, he thought:
Then of the latest foxwhere startedkilld
In such a bottom: Peter had the brush,
My Peter, first: and did Sir Aylmer know
That great pock-pitten fellow had been caught?
Then made his pleasure echo, hand to hand,
And rolling as it were the substance of it
Between his palms a moment up and down
The birds were warm, the birds were warm upon him;
We have him now: and had Sir Aylmer heard
Nay, but he mustthe land was ringing of it
This blacksmith-border marriageone they knew
Raw from the nurserywho could trust a child?
That cursed France with her egalities!
And did Sir Aylmer (deferentially
With nearing chair and lowerd accent) think
For people talkdthat it was wholly wise
To let that handsome fellow Averill walk
So freely with his daughter? people talkd
The boy might get a notion into him;
The girl might be entangled ere she knew.
Sir Aylmer Aylmer slowly stiffening spoke:
The girl and boy, Sir, know their differences!
Good said his friend but watch! and he enough,
More than enough, Sir!I can guard my own.
They parted, and Sir Aylmer Aylmer watchd.
Pale, for on her the thunders of the house
Had fallen first, was Edith that same night;
Pale as the Jepthas daughter, a rough piece
Of early rigid color, under which
Withdrawing by the counter door to that
Which Leolin opend, she cast back upon him
A piteous glance, and vanishd.He, as one
Caught in a burst of unexpected storm,
And pelted with outrageous epithets,
Turning beheld the Powers of the House
On either side the hearth, indignant; her,
Cooling her false cheek with a featherfan,
Him glaring, by his own stale devil spurrd,
And, like a beast hard-ridden, breathing hard.
Ungenerous, dishonorable, base,
Presumptuous! trusted as he was with her,
The sole succeeder to their wealth, their lands,
The last remaining pillar of their house,
The one transmitter of their ancient name,
Their child. Our child! Our heiress! Ours! for still,
Like echoes from beyond a hollow, came
Her sicklier iteration.Last he said
Boy, mark me! for your fortunes are to make.
I swear you shall not make them out of mine.
Now inasmuch as you have practised on her,
Perplext her, made her half forget herself,
Swerve from her duty to herself and us
Things in an Aylmer deemd impossible,
Far as we track ourselvesI say that this,
Else I withdraw favor and countenance
From you and yours for evershall you do.
Sir, when you see herbut you shall not see her
No, you shall write, and not to her, but me:
And you shall say that having spoken with me,
And after lookd into yourself, you find
That you meant nothingas indeed you know
That you meant nothing.Such as match as this!
Impossible, prodigious!These were words,
As meted by his measure of himself,
Arguing boundless forbearance: after which,
And Leolins horror-stricken answer, I
So foul a traitor to myself and her,
Never oh never, for about as long
As the wind-hover hangs in the balance, paused
Sir Aylmer reddening from the storm within,
Then broke all bonds of courtesy, and crying
Boy, should I find you by my doors again,
My men shall lash you from the like a dog;
Hence! with a sudden execration drove
The footstool from before him, and arose;
So, stammering scoundrel out of teeth that ground
As in a dreadful dream, while Leolin still
Retreated half-aghast, the fierce old man
Followd, and under his own lintel stood
Storming with lifted hands, a hoary face
Meet for the reverence of the hearth, but now,
Beneath a pale and unimpassiond moon,
Vext with unworthy madness, and deformd.
Slowly and conscious of the rageful eye
That watchd him, till he heard the ponderous door
Close, crashing with long echoes thro the land,
Went Leolin; then, his passions all in flood
And masters of his motion, furiously
Down thro the bright lawns to his brothers ran,
And foamd away his heart at Averills ear:
Whom Averill solaced as he might, amazed:
The man was his, had been his fathers, friend:
He must have seen, himself had seen it long;
He must have known, himself had known: besides,
He never yet had set his daughter forth
Here in the woman-markets of the west,
Where our Caucasians let themselves be sold.
Some one, he thought, had slanderd Leolin to him.
Brother, for I have loved you more as a son
Than brother, let me tell you: I myself
What is their pretty saying? jilted is it?
Jilted I was: I say it for your peace.
Paind, and, as bearing in myself the shame
The woman should have borne, humiliated,
I lived for years a stunted sunless life;
Till after our good parents past away
Watching your growth, I seemd again to grow.
Leolin, I almost sin in envying you:
The very whitest lamb in all my fold
Loves you: I know her: the worst thought she has
Is whiter even than her pretty hand:
She must prove true: for, brother, where two fight
The strongest wins, and truth and love are strength,
And you are happy: let her parents be.
But Leolin cried out the more upon them
Insolent, brainless, heartless! heiress, wealth,
Their wealth, their heiress! wealth enough was theirs
For twenty matches.Were he lord of this,
Why, twenty boys and girls should marry on it,
And forty blest ones bless him, and himself
Be wealthy still, ay wealthier.He believed
This filthy marriage-hindering Mammon made
The harlot of the cities: nature crost
Was mother of the foul adulteries
That saturate soul with body.Name, too! name,
Their ancient name! they might be proud; its worth
Was being Ediths.Ah, how pale she had lookd
Darling, to-night! they must have rated her
Beyond all tolerance.These old pheasant-lords,
These partridge-breeders of a thousand years,
Who had mildewd in their thousands, doing nothing
Since Egbertwhy, the greater their disgrace!
Fall back upon a name! rest, rot in that!
Not keep it noble, make it nobler? fools,
With such a vantage-ground for nobleness!
He had known a man, a quintessence of man,
The life of allwho madly lovedand he,
Thwarted by one of these old father-fools,
Had rioted his life out, and made an end.
He would not do it! her sweet face and faith
Held him from that: but he had powers, he knew it:
Back would he to his studies, make a name,
Name, fortune too: the world should ring of him
To shame these mouldy Aylmers in their graves:
Chancellor, or what is greatest would he be
O brother, I am grieved to learn your grief
Give me my fling, and let me say my say.
At which, like one that sees his own excess,
And easily forgives it as his own,
He laughd; and then was mute; but presently
Wept like a storm: and honest Averill seeing
How low his brothers mood had fallen, fetchd
His richest beeswing from a binn reserved
For banquets, praised the waning red, and told
The vintagewhen this Aylmer came of age
Then drank and past it; till at length the two,
Tho Leolin flamed and fell again, agreed
That much allowance must be made for men.
After an angry dream this kindlier glow
Faded with morning, but his purpose held.
Yet once by night again the lovers met,
A perilous meeting under the tall pines
That darkend all the northward of her Hall.
Him, to her meek and modest bosom prest
In agony, she promised that no force,
Persuasion, no, nor death could alter her:
He, passionately hopefuller, would go,
Labor for his own Edith, and return
In such a sunlight of prosperity
He should not be rejected.Write to me!
They loved me, and because I love their child
They hate me: there is war between us, dear,
Which breaks all bonds but ours; we must remain
Sacred to one another.So they talkd,
Poor children, for their comfort: the wind blew;
The rain of heaven, and their own bitter tears,
Tears, and the careless rain of heaven, mixt
Upon their faces, as they kissd each other
In darkness, and above them roard the pine.
So Leolin went; and as we task ourselves
To learn a language known but smatteringly
In phrases here and there at random, toild
Mastering the lawless science of our law,
That codeless myriad of precedent,
That wilderness of single instances,
Thro which a few, by wit or fortune led,
May beat a pathway out to wealth and fame.
The jests, that flashd about the pleaders room,
Lightning of the hour, the pun, the scurrilous tale,
Old scandals buried now seven decads deep
In other scandals that have lived and died,
And left the living scandal that shall die
Were dead to him already; bent as he was
To make disproof of scorn, and strong in hopes,
And prodigal of all brain-labor he,
Charier of sleep, and wine and exercise,
Except when for a breathing-while at eve,
Some niggard fraction of an hour, he ran
Beside the river-bank: and then indeed
Harder the times were, and the hands of power
Were bloodier, and the according hearts of men
Seemd harder too; but the soft river-breeze,
Which fannd the gardens of that rival rose
Yet fragrant in a heart remembering
His former talks with Edith, on him breathed
Far purelier in his rushings to and fro,
After his books, to flush his blood with air,
Then to his books again.My ladys cousin,
Half-sickening of his pensiond afternoon,
Drove in upon the student once or twice,
Ran a Malayan muck against the times,
Had golden hopes for France and all mankind,
Answerd all queries touching those at home
With a heaved shoulder and a saucy smile,
And fain had haled him out into the world,
And aird him there: his nearer friend would say
Screw not the chord too sharply lest it snap.
Then left alone he pluckd her dagger forth
From where his worldless heart had kept it warm,
Kissing his vows upon it like a knight.
And wrinkled benchers often talkd of him
Approvingly, and prophesied his rise:
For heart, I think, helpd head: her letters too,
Tho far between, and coming fitfully
Like broken music, written as she found
Or made occasion, being strictly watchd,
Charmd him thro every labyrinth till he saw
An end, a hope, a light breaking upon him.
But they that cast her spirit into flesh,
Her worldy-wise begetters, plagued themselves
To sell her, those good parents, for her good.
Whatever eldest-born of rank or wealth
Might lie within their compass, him they lured
Into their net made pleasant by the baits
Of gold and beauty, wooing him to woo.
So month by month the noise about their doors,
And distant blaze of those dull banquets, made
The nightly wirer of their innocent hare
Falter before he took it.All in vain.
Sullen, defiant, pitying, wroth, returnd
Leolins rejected rivals from their suit
So often, that the folly taking wings
Slipt oer those lazy limits down the wind
With rumor, and became in other fields
A mockery to the yeomen over ale,
And laughter to their lords: but those at home,
As hunters round a hunted creature draw
The cordon close and closer toward the death,
Narrowd her goings out and comings in;
Forbad her first the house of Averill,
Then closed her access to the wealthiest farms,
Last from her own home-circle of the poor
They barrd her: yet she bore it: yet her cheek
Kept color: wondrous! but, O mystery!
What amulet drew her down to that old oak,
So old, that twenty years before, a part
Falling had let appear the brand of John
Once grovelike, each huge arm a tree, but now
The broken base of a black tower, a cave
Of touchwood, with a single flourishing spray.
There the manorial lord too curiously
Raking in that millenial touchwood-dust
Found for himself a bitter treasure-trove;
Burst his own wyvern on the seal, and read
Writhing a letter from his child, for which
Came at the moment Leolins emissary,
A crippled lad, and coming turnd to fly,
But scared with threats of jail and halter gave
To him that flusterd his poor parish wits
The letter which he brought, and swore besides
To play their go-between as heretofore
Nor let them know themselves betrayd, and then,
Soul-stricken at their kindness to him, went
Hating his own lean heart and miserable.
Thenceforward oft from out a despot dream
Panting he woke, and oft as early as dawn
Aroused the black republic on his elms,
Sweeping the frothfly from the fescue, brushd
Thro the dim meadow toward his treasure-trove,
Seized it, took home, and to my lady, who made
A downward crescent of her minion mouth,
Listless in all despondence, read; and tore,
As if the living passion symbold there
Were living nerves to feel the rent; and burnt,
Now chafing at his own great self defied,
Now striking on huge stumbling-blocks of scorn
In babyisms, and dear diminutives
Scatterd all over the vocabulary
Of such a love as like a chidden babe,
After much wailing, hushd itself at last
Hopeless of answer: then tho Averill wrote
And bad him with good heart sustain himself
All would be wellthe lover heeded not,
But passionately restless came and went,
And rustling once at night about the place,
There by a keeper shot at, slightly hurt,
Raging returnd: nor was it well for her
Kept to the garden now, and grove of pines,
Watchd even there; and one was set to watch
The watcher, and Sir Aylmer watchd them all,
Yet bitterer from his readings: once indeed,
Warmd with his wines, or taking pride in her,
She lookd so sweet, he kissd her tenderly
Not knowing what possessd him: that one kiss
Was Leolins one strong rival upon earth;
Seconded, for my lady followd suit,
Seemd hopes returning rose: and then ensued
A Martins summer of his faded love,
Or ordeal by kindness; after this
He seldom crost his child without a sneer;
The mother flowd in shallower acrimonies:
Never one kindly smile, one kindly word:
So that the gentle creature shut from all
Her charitable use, and face to face
With twenty months of silence, slowly lost
Nor greatly cared to lose, her hold on life.
Last, some low fever ranging round to spy
The weakness of a people or a house,
Like flies that haunt a wound, or deer, or men,
Or almost all that is, hurting the hurt
Save Christ as we believe himfound the girl
And flung her down upon a couch of fire,
Where careless of the household faces near,
And crying upon the name of Leolin,
She, and with her the race of Aylmer, past.
Star to star vibrates light: may soul to soul
Strike thro a finer element of her own?
So,from afar,touch as at once? or why
That night, that moment, when she named his name,
Did the keen shriek yes love, yes Edith, yes,
Shrill, till the comrade of his chambers woke,
And came upon him half-arisen from sleep,
With a weird bright eye, sweating and trembling,
His hair as it were crackling into flames,
His body half flung forward in pursuit,
And his long arms stretchd as to grasp a flyer:
Nor knew he wherefore he had made the cry;
And being much befoold and idioted
By the rough amity of the other, sank
As into sleep again.The second day,
My ladys Indian kinsman rushing in,
A breaker of the bitter news from home,
Found a dead man, a letter edged with death
Beside him, and the dagger which himself
Gave Edith, reddnd with no bandits blood:
From Edith was engraven on the blade.
Then Averill went and gazed upon his death.
And when he came again, his flock believed
Beholding how the years which are not Times
Had blasted himthat many thousand days
Were clipt by horror from his term of life.
Yet the sad mother, for the second death
Scarce touchd her thro that nearness of the first,
And being used to find her pastor texts,
Sent to the harrowd brother, praying him
To speak before the people of her child,
And fixt the Sabbath.Darkly that day rose:
Autumns mock sunshine of the faded woods
Was all the life of it; for hard on these,
A breathless burthen of low-folded heavens
Stifled and chilld at once: but every roof
Sent out a listener: many too had known
Edith among the hamlets round, and since
The parents harshness and the hapless loves
And double death were widely murmurd, left
Their own gray tower, or plain-faced tabernacle,
To hear him; all in mourning these, and those
With blots of it about them, ribbon, glove
Or kerchief; while the church,one night, except
For greenish glimmerings thro the lancets,made
Still paler the pale head of him, who towerd
Above them, with his hopes in either grave.
Long oer his bent brows lingerd Averill,
His face magnetic to the hand from which
Livid he pluckd it forth, and labord thro
His brief prayer-prelude, gave the verse Behold,
Your house is left unto you desolate!
But lapsed into so long a pause again
As half amazed half frighted all his flock:
Then from his height and loneliness of grief
Bore down in flood, and dashd his angry heart
Against the desolations of the world.
Never since our bad earth became one sea,
Which rolling oer the palaces of the proud,
And all but those who knew the living God
Eight that were left to make a purer world
When since had flood, fire, earthquake, thunder wrought
Such waste and havoc as the idolatries,
Which from the low light of mortality
Shot up their shadows to the Heaven of Heavens,
And worshipt their own darkness as the Highest?
Gash thyself, priest, and honor thy brute Baal,
And to thy worst self sacrifice thyself,
For with thy worst self hast thou clothed thy God.
Then came a Lord in no wise like to Baal.
The babe shall lead the lion.Surely now
The wilderness shall blossom as the rose.
Crown thyself, worm, and worship thine own lusts!
No coarse and blockish God of acreage
Stands at thy gate for thee to grovel to
Thy God is far diffused in noble groves
And princely halls, and farms, and flowing lawns,
And heaps of living gold that daily grow,
And title-scrolls and gorgeous heraldries.
In such a shape dost thou behold thy God.
Thou wilt not gash thy flesh for him; for thine
Fares richly, in fine linen, not a hair
Ruffled upon the scarfskin, even while
The deathless ruler of thy dying house
Is wounded to the death that cannot die;
And tho thou numberest with the followers
Of One who cried leave all and follow me.
Thee therefore with His light about thy feet,
Thee with His message ringing in thine ears,
Thee shall thy brother man, the Lord from Heaven,
Born of a village girl, carpenters son,
Wonderful, Prince of peace, the Mighty God,
Count the more base idolater of the two;
Crueller: as not passing thro the fire
Bodies, but soulsthy childrensthro the smoke,
The blight of low desiresdarkening thine own
To thine own likeness; or if one of these,
Thy better born unhappily from thee,
Should, as by miracle, grow straight and fair
Friends, I was bid to speak of such a one
By those who most have cause to sorrow for her
Fairer than Rachel by the palmy well,
Fairer than Ruth among the fields of corn,
Fair as the Angel that said hail she seemd,
Who entering filld the house with sudden light.
For so mine own was brightend: where indeed
The roof so lowly but that beam of Heaven
Dawnd sometime thro the doorway? whose the babe
Too ragged to be fondled on her lap,
Warmd at her bosom?The poor child of shame,
The common care whom no one cared for, leapt
To greet her, wasting his forgotten heart,
As with the mother he had never known,
In gambols; for her fresh and innocent eyes
Had such a star of morning in their blue,
That all neglected places of the field
Broke into natures music when they saw her.
Low was her voice, but won mysterious way
Thro the seald ear to which a louder one
Was all but silencefree of alms her hand
The hand that robed your cottage-walls with flowers
Has often toild to clothe your little ones;
How often placed upon the sick mans brow
Coold it, or laid his feverous pillow smooth!
Had you one sorrow and she shared it not?
One burthen and she would not lighten it?
One spiritual doubt she did not soothe?
Or when some heat of difference sparkled out,
How sweetly would she glide between your wraths,
And steal you from each other! for she walkd
Wearing the light yoke of that Lord of love,
Who stilld the rolling wave of Galilee!
And oneof him I was not bid to speak
Was always with her, whom you also knew.
Him too you loved, for he was worthy love.
And these had been together from the first;
They might have been together till the last.
Friends, this frail bark of ours, when sorely tried,
May wreck itself without the pilots guilt,
Without the captains knowledge: hope with me.
Whose shame is that, if he went hence with shame?
Nor mine the fault, if losing both of these
I cry to vacant chairs and widowd walls,
My house is left unto me desolate.
While thus he spoke, his hearers wept; but some,
Sons of the glebe, with other frowns than those
That knit themselves for summer shadow, scowld
At their great lord.He, when it seemd he saw
No pale sheet-lightnings from afar, but forkd
Of the near storm, and aiming at his head,
Sat anger-charmd from sorrow, soldierlike,
Erect: but when the preachers cadence flowd
Softening thro all the gentle attributes
Of his lost child, the wife, who watchd his face,
Paled at a sudden twitch of his iron mouth;
And O pray God that he hold up she thought
Or surely I shall shame myself and him.
Nor yours the blamefor who beside your hearths
Can take her placeif echoing me you cry
Our house is left unto us desolate?
But thou, O thou that killest, hadst thou known,
O thou that stonest, hadst thou understood
The things belonging to thy peace and ours!
Is there no prophet but the voice that calls
Doom upon kings, or in the waste Repent?
Is not our own child on the narrow way,
Who down to those that saunter in the broad
Cries come up hither, as a prophet to us?
Is there no stoning save with flint and rock?
Yes, as the dead we weep for testify
No desolation but by sword and fire?
Yes, as your moanings witness, and myself
Am lonelier, darker, earthlier for my loss.
Give me your prayers, for he is past your prayers,
Not past the living fount of pity in Heaven.
But I that thought myself long-suffering, meek,
Exceeding poor in spirithow the words
Have twisted back upon themselves, and mean
Vileness, we are grown so proudI wishd my voice
A rushing tempest of the wrath of God
To blow these sacrifices thro the world
Sent like the twelve-divided concubine
To inflame the tribes: but thereout yonderearth
Lightens from her own central HellO there
The red fruit of an old idolatry
The heads of chiefs and princes fall so fast,
They cling together in the ghastly sack
The land all shamblesnaked marriages
Flash from the bridge, and ever-murderd France,
By shores that darken with the gathering wolf,
Runs in a river of blood to the sick sea.
Is this a time to madden madness then?
Was this a time for these to flaunt their pride?
May Pharaohs darkness, folds as dense as those
Which hid the Holiest from the peoples eyes
Ere the great death, shroud this great sin from all:
Doubtless our narrow world must canvass it:
O rather pray for those and pity them,
Who thro their own desire accomplishd bring
Their own gray hairs with sorrow to the grave
Who broke the bond which they desired to break,
Which else had linkd their race with times to come
Who wove coarse webs to snare her purity,
Grossly contriving their dear daughters good
Poor souls, and knew not what they did, but sat
Ignorant, devising their own daughters death!
May not that earthly chastisement suffice?
Have not our love and reverence left them bare?
Will not another take their heritage?
Will there be childrens laughter in their hall
For ever and for ever, or one stone
Left on another, or is it a light thing
That I their guest, their host, their ancient friend,
I made by these the last of all my race
Must cry to these the last of theirs, as cried
Christ ere His agony to those that swore
Not by the temple but the gold, and made
Their own traditions God, and slew the Lord,
And left their memories a worlds curseBehold,
Your house is left unto you desolate?
Ended he had not, but she brookd no more:
Long since her heart had beat remorselessly,
Her crampt-up sorrow paind her, and a sense
Of meanness in her unresisting life.
Then their eyes vext her; for on entering
He had cast the curtains of their seat aside
Black velvet of the costliestshe herself
Had seen to that: fain had she closed them now,
Yet dared not stir to do it, only neard
Her husband inch by inch, but when she laid,
Wifelike, her hand in one of his, he veild
His face with the other, and at once, as falls
A creeper when the prop is broken, fell
The woman shrieking at his feet, and swoond.
Then her own people bore along the nave
Her pendent hands, and narrow meagre face
Seamd with the shallow cares of fifty years:
And here the Lord of all the landscape round
Evn to its last horizon, and of all
Who peerd at him so keenly, followd out
Tall and erect, but in the middle aisle
Reeld, as a footsore ox in crowded ways
Stumbling across the market to his death,
Unpitied; for he groped as blind, and seemd
Always about to fall, grasping the pews
And oaken finials till he touchd the door;
Yet to the lychgate, where his chariot stood,
Strode from the porch, tall and erect again.
But nevermore did either pass the gate
Save under pall with bearers. In one month,
Thro weary and yet wearier hours,
The childless mother went to seek her child;
And when he felt the silence of his house
About him, and the change and not the change,
And those fixt eyes of painted ancestors
Staring for ever from their gilded walls
On him their last descendant, his own head
Began to droop, to fall; the man became
Imbecile; his one word was desolate;
Dead for two years before his death was he;
But when the second Christmas came, escaped
His keepers, and the silence which he felt,
To find a deeper in the narrow gloom
By wife and child; nor wanted at his end
The dark retinue reverencing death
At golden thresholds; nor from tender hearts,
And those who sorrowd oer a vanishd race,
Pity, the violet on the tyrants grave.
Then the great Hall was wholly broken down,
And the broad woodland parcelld into farms;
And where the two contrived their daughters good,
Lies the hawks cast, the mole has made his run,
The hedgehog underneath the plaintain bores,
The rabbit fondles his own harmless face,
The slow-worm creeps, and the thin weasel there
Follows the mouse, and all is open field.
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