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With sails full set, the ship her anchor weighs.
Strange names shine out beneath her figure head.
What glad farewells with eager eyes are said!
What cheer for him who goes, and him who stays!
Fair skies, rich lands, new homes, and untried days
Some go to seek: the rest but wait instead,
Watching the way wherein their comrades led,
Until the next stanch ship her flag doth raise.
Who knows what myriad colonies there are
Of fairest fields, and rich, undreamed-of gains
Thick planted in the distant shining plains
Which we call sky because they lie so far?
Oh, write of me, not “Died in bitter pains,”
But “Emigrated to another star!”

 

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…..(from The Merchant of Venice)

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings.
It is an attribute in God himself,
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Musts needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.

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I.

Said Abner, “At last thou art come! Ere I tell, ere thou speak,
“Kiss my cheek, wish me well!” Then I wished it, and did kiss his cheek.
And he, “Since the King, O my friend, for thy countenance sent,
“Neither drunken nor eaten have we; nor until from his tent
“Thou return with the joyful assurance the King liveth yet,
“Shall our lip with the honey be bright, with the water be wet.
“For out of the black mid-tent’s silence, a space of three days,
“Not a sound hath escaped to thy servants, of prayer nor of praise,
“To betoken that Saul and the Spirit have ended their strife,
“And that, faint in his triumph, the monarch sinks back upon life.

II.

“Yet now my heart leaps, O beloved! God’s child with his dew
“On thy gracious gold hair, and those lilies still living and blue
“Just broken to twine round thy harp-strings, as if no wild beat
“Were now raging to torture the desert!”

III.

Then I, as was meet,
Knelt down to the God of my fathers, and rose on my feet,
And ran o’er the sand burnt to powder. The tent was unlooped;
I pulled up the spear that obstructed, and under I stooped
Hands and knees on the slippery grass-patch, all withered and gone,
That extends to the second enclosure, I groped my way on
Till I felt where the foldskirts fly open. Then once more I prayed,
And opened the foldskirts and entered, and was not afraid
But spoke, “Here is David, thy servant!” And no voice replied.
At the first I saw nought but the blackness but soon I descried
A something more black than the blackness—the vast, the upright
Main prop which sustains the pavilion: and slow into sight
Grew a figure against it, gigantic and blackest of all.
Then a sunbeam, that burst thro’ the tent-roof, showed Saul.

IV.

He stood as erect as that tent-prop, both arms stretched out wide
On the great cross-support in the centre, that goes to each side;
He relaxed not a muscle, but hung there as, caught in his pangs
And waiting his change, the king-serpent all heavily hangs,
Far away from his kind, in the pine, till deliverance come
With the spring-time,—so agonized Saul, drear and stark, blind and dumb.

V.

Then I tuned my harp,—took off the lilies we twine round its chords
Lest they snap ‘neath the stress of the noon-tide—those sunbeams like swords!
And I first played the tune all our sheep know, as, one after one,
So docile they come to the pen-door till folding be done.
They are white and untorn by the bushes, for lo, they have fed
Where the long grasses stifle the water within the stream’s bed;
And now one after one seeks its lodging, as star follows star
Into eve and the blue far above us,—so blue and so far!

VI.

—Then the tune, for which quails on the cornland will each leave his mate
To fly after the player; then, what makes the crickets elate
Till for boldness they fight one another: and then, what has weight
To set the quick jerboa amusing outside his sand house—
There are none such as he for a wonder, half bird and half mouse!
God made all the creatures and gave them our love and our fear,
To give sign, we and they are his children, one family here.

VII.

Then I played the help-tune of our reapers, their wine-song, when hand
Grasps at hand, eye lights eye in good friendship, and great hearts expand
And grow one in the sense of this world’s life.—And then, the last song
When the dead man is praised on his journey—“Bear, bear him along
“With his few faults shut up like dead flowerets! Are balm-seeds not here
“To console us? The land has none left such as he on the bier.
“Oh, would we might keep thee, my brother!”—And then, the glad chaunt
Of the marriage,—first go the young maidens, next, she whom we vaunt
As the beauty, the pride of our dwelling.—And then, the great march
Wherein man runs to man to assist him and buttress an arch
Nought can break; who shall harm them, our friends?—Then, the chorus intoned
As the Levites go up to the altar in glory enthroned.
But I stopped here: for here in the darkness Saul groaned.

VIII.

And I paused, held my breath in such silence, and listened apart;
And the tent shook, for mighty Saul shuddered: and sparkles ‘gan dart
From the jewels that woke in his turban, at once with a start,
All its lordly male-sapphires, and rubies courageous at heart.
So the head: but the body still moved not, still hung there erect.
And I bent once again to my playing, pursued it unchecked,
As I sang,—

IX.

“Oh, our manhood’s prime vigour! No spirit feels waste,
“Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor sinew unbraced.
“Oh, the wild joys of living! the leaping from rock up to rock,
“The strong rending of boughs from the fir-tree, the cool silver shock
“Of the plunge in a pool’s living water, the hunt of the bear,
“And the sultriness showing the lion is couched in his lair.
“And the meal, the rich dates yellowed over with gold dust divine,
“And the locust-flesh steeped in the pitcher, the full draught of wine,
“And the sleep in the dried river-channel where bulrushes tell
“That the water was wont to go warbling so softly and well.
“How good is man’s life, the mere living! how fit to employ
“All the heart and the soul and the senses for ever in joy!
“Hast thou loved the white locks of thy father, whose sword thou didst guard
“When he trusted thee forth with the armies, for glorious reward?
“Didst thou see the thin hands of thy mother, held up as men sung
“The low song of the nearly-departed, and bear her faint tongue
“Joining in while it could to the witness, `Let one more attest,
“ `I have lived, seen God’s hand thro’a lifetime, and all was for best’?
“Then they sung thro’ their tears in strong triumph, not much, but the rest.
“And thy brothers, the help and the contest, the working whence grew
“Such result as, from seething grape-bundles, the spirit strained true:
“And the friends of thy boyhood—that boyhood of wonder and hope,
“Present promise and wealth of the future beyond the eye’s scope,—
“Till lo, thou art grown to a monarch; a people is thine;
“And all gifts, which the world offers singly, on one head combine!
“On one head, all the beauty and strength, love and rage (like the throe
“That, a-work in the rock, helps its labour and lets the gold go)
“High ambition and deeds which surpass it, fame crowning them,—all
“Brought to blaze on the head of one creature—King Saul!”

X.

And lo, with that leap of my spirit,—heart, hand, harp and voice,
Each lifting Saul’s name out of sorrow, each bidding rejoice
Saul’s fame in the light it was made for—as when, dare I say,
The Lord’s army, in rapture of service, strains through its array,
And up soareth the cherubim-chariot—“Saul!” cried I, and stopped,
And waited the thing that should follow. Then Saul, who hung propped
By the tent’s cross-support in the centre, was struck by his name.
Have ye seen when Spring’s arrowy summons goes right to the aim,
And some mountain, the last to withstand her, that held (he alone,
While the vale laughed in freedom and flowers) on a broad bust of stone
A year’s snow bound about for a breastplate,—leaves grasp of the sheet?
Fold on fold all at once it crowds thunderously down to his feet,
And there fronts you, stark, black, but alive yet, your mountain of old,
With his rents, the successive bequeathings of ages untold—
Yea, each harm got in fighting your battles, each furrow and scar
Of his head thrust ‘twixt you and the tempest—all hail, there they are!
—Now again to be softened with verdure, again hold the nest
Of the dove, tempt the goat and its young to the green on his crest
For their food in the ardours of summer. One long shudder thrilled
All the tent till the very air tingled, then sank and was stilled
At the King’s self left standing before me, released and aware.
What was gone, what remained? All to traverse, ‘twixt hope and despair;
Death was past, life not come: so he waited. Awhile his right hand
Held the brow, helped the eyes left too vacant forthwith to remand
To their place what new objects should enter: ’twas Saul as before.
I looked up and dared gaze at those eyes, nor was hurt any more
Than by slow pallid sunsets in autumn, ye watch from the shore,
At their sad level gaze o’er the ocean—a sun’s slow decline
Over hills which, resolved in stern silence, o’erlap and entwine
Base with base to knit strength more intensely: so, arm folded arm
O’er the chest whose slow heavings subsided.

XI.

What spell or what charm,
(For, awhile there was trouble within me) what next should I urge
To sustain him where song had restored him?—Song filled to the verge
His cup with the wine of this life, pressing all that it yields
Of mere fruitage, the strength and the beauty: beyond, on what fields,
Glean a vintage more potent and perfect to brighten the eye
And bring blood to the lip, and commend them the cup they put by?
He saith, “It is good;” still he drinks not: he lets me praise life,
Gives assent, yet would die for his own part.

XII.

Then fancies grew rife
Which had come long ago on the pasture, when round me the sheep
Fed in silence—above, the one eagle wheeled slow as in sleep;
And I lay in my hollow and mused on the world that might lie
‘Neath his ken, though I saw but the strip ‘twixt the hill and the sky:
And I laughed—“Since my days are ordained to be passed with my flocks,
“Let me people at least, with my fancies, the plains and the rocks,
“Dream the life I am never to mix with, and image the show
“Of mankind as they live in those fashions I hardly shall know!
“Schemes of life, its best rules and right uses, the courage that gains,
“And the prudence that keeps what men strive for.” And now these old trains
Of vague thought came again; I grew surer; so, once more the string
Of my harp made response to my spirit, as thus—

XIII.

“Yea, my King,”
I began—“thou dost well in rejecting mere comforts that spring
“From the mere mortal life held in common by man and by brute:
“In our flesh grows the branch of this life, in our soul it bears fruit.
“Thou hast marked the slow rise of the tree,—how its stem trembled first
“Till it passed the kid’s lip, the stag’s antler then safely outburst
“The fan-branches all round; and thou mindest when these too, in turn
“Broke a-bloom and the palm-tree seemed perfect: yet more was to learn,
“E’en the good that comes in with the palm-fruit. Our dates shall we slight,
“When their juice brings a cure for all sorrow? or care for the plight
“Of the palm’s self whose slow growth produced them? Not so! stem and branch
“Shall decay, nor be known in their place, while the palm-wine shall staunch
“Every wound of man’s spirit in winter. I pour thee such wine.
“Leave the flesh to the fate it was fit for! the spirit be thine!
“By the spirit, when age shall o’ercome thee, thou still shalt enjoy
“More indeed, than at first when inconscious, the life of a boy.
“Crush that life, and behold its wine running! Each deed thou hast done
“Dies, revives, goes to work in the world; until e’en as the sun
“Looking down on the earth, though clouds spoil him, though tempests efface,
“Can find nothing his own deed produced not, must everywhere trace
“The results of his past summer-prime’—so, each ray of thy will,
“Every flash of thy passion and prowess, long over, shall thrill
“Thy whole people, the countless, with ardour, till they too give forth
“A like cheer to their sons, who in turn, fill the South and the North
“With the radiance thy deed was the germ of. Carouse in the past!
“But the license of age has its limit; thou diest at last:
“As the lion when age dims his eyeball, the rose at her height
“So with man—so his power and his beauty for ever take flight.
“No! Again a long draught of my soul-wine! Look forth o’er the years!
“Thou hast done now with eyes for the actual; begin with the seer’s!
“Is Saul dead? In the depth of the vale make his tomb—bid arise
“A grey mountain of marble heaped four-square, till, built to the skies,
“Let it mark where the great First King slumbers: whose fame would ye know?
“Up above see the rock’s naked face, where the record shall go
“In great characters cut by the scribe,—Such was Saul, so he did;
“With the sages directing the work, by the populace chid,—
“For not half, they’ll affirm, is comprised there! Which fault to amend,
“In the grove with his kind grows the cedar, whereon they shall spend
“(See, in tablets ’tis level before them) their praise, and record
“With the gold of the graver, Saul’s story,—the statesman’s great word
“Side by side with the poet’s sweet comment. The river’s a-wave
“With smooth paper-reeds grazing each other when prophet-winds rave:
“So the pen gives unborn generations their due and their part
“In thy being! Then, first of the mighty, thank God that thou art!”

XIV.

And behold while I sang … but O Thou who didst grant me that day,
And before it not seldom hast granted thy help to essay,
Carry on and complete an adventure,—my shield and my sword
In that act where my soul was thy servant, thy word was my word,—
Still be with me, who then at the summit of human endeavour
And scaling the highest, man’s thought could, gazed hopeless as ever
On the new stretch of heaven above me—till, mighty to save,
Just one lift of thy hand cleared that distance—God’s throne from man’s grave!
Let me tell out my tale to its ending—my voice to my heart
Which can scarce dare believe in what marvels last night I took part,
As this morning I gather the fragments, alone with my sheep,
And still fear lest the terrible glory evanish like sleep!
For I wake in the grey dewy covert, while Hebron upheaves
The dawn struggling with night on his shoulder, and Kidron retrieves
Slow the damage of yesterday’s sunshine.

XV.

I say then,—my song
While I sang thus, assuring the monarch, and ever more strong
Made a proffer of good to console him—he slowly resumed
His old motions and habitudes kingly. The right-hand replumed
His black locks to their wonted composure, adjusted the swathes
Of his turban, and see—the huge sweat that his countenance bathes,
He wipes off with the robe; and he girds now his loins as of yore,
And feels slow for the armlets of price, with the clasp set before.
He is Saul, ye remember in glory,—ere error had bent
The broad brow from the daily communion; and still, though much spent
Be the life and the bearing that front you, the same, God did choose,
To receive what a man may waste, desecrate, never quite lose.
So sank he along by the tent-prop till, stayed by the pile
Of his armour and war-cloak and garments, he leaned there awhile,
And sat out my singing,—one arm round the tent-prop, to raise
His bent head, and the other hung slack—till I touched on the praise
I foresaw from all men in all time, to the man patient there;
And thus ended, the harp falling forward. Then first I was ‘ware
That he sat, as I say, with my head just above his vast knees
Which were thrust out on each side around me, like oak-roots which please
To encircle a lamb when it slumbers. I looked up to know
If the best I could do had brought solace: he spoke not, but slow
Lifted up the hand slack at his side, till he laid it with care
Soft and grave, but in mild settled will, on my brow: thro’ my hair
The large fingers were pushed, and he bent back my bead, with kind power—
All my face back, intent to peruse it, as men do a flower.
Thus held he me there with his great eyes that scrutinized mine—
And oh, all my heart how it loved him! but where was the sign?
I yearned—“Could I help thee, my father, inventing a bliss,
“I would add, to that life of the past, both the future and this;
“I would give thee new life altogether, as good, ages hence,
“As this moment,—had love but the warrant, love’s heart to dispense!”

XVI.

Then the truth came upon me. No harp more—no song more! outbroke—

XVII.

“I have gone the whole round of creation: I saw and I spoke:
“I, a work of God’s hand for that purpose, received in my brain
“And pronounced on the rest of his hand-work—returned him again
“His creation’s approval or censure: I spoke as I saw:
“I report, as a man may of God’s work—all’s love, yet all’s law.
“Now I lay down the judgeship he lent me. Each faculty tasked
“To perceive him, has gained an abyss, where a dewdrop was asked.
“Have I knowledge? confounded it shrivels at Wisdom laid bare.
“Have I forethought? how purblind, how blank, to the Infinite Care!
“Do I task any faculty highest, to image success?
“I but open my eyes,—and perfection, no more and no less,
“In the kind I imagined, full-fronts me, and God is seen God
“In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod.
“And thus looking within and around me, I ever renew
“(With that stoop of the soul which in bending upraises it too)
“The submission of man’s nothing-perfect to God’s all-complete,
“As by each new obeisance in spirit, I climb to his feet.
“Yet with all this abounding experience, this deity known,
“I shall dare to discover some province, some gift of my own.
“There’s a faculty pleasant to exercise, hard to hoodwink,
“I am fain to keep still in abeyance, (I laugh as I think)
“Lest, insisting to claim and parade in it, wot ye, I worst
“E’en the Giver in one gift.—Behold, I could love if I durst!
“But I sink the pretension as fearing a man may o’ertake
“God’s own speed in the one way of love: I abstain for love’s sake.
“—What, my soul? see thus far and no farther? when doors great and small,
“Nine-and-ninety flew ope at our touch, should the hundredth appal?
“In the least things have faith, yet distrust in the greatest of all?
“Do I find love so full in my nature, God’s ultimate gift,
“That I doubt his own love can compete with it? Here, the parts shift?
“Here, the creature surpass the Creator,—the end, what Began?
“Would I fain in my impotent yearning do all for this man,
“And dare doubt he alone shall not help him, who yet alone can?
“Would it ever have entered my mind, the bare will, much less power,
“To bestow on this Saul what I sang of, the marvellous dower
“Of the life he was gifted and filled with? to make such a soul,
“Such a body, and then such an earth for insphering the whole?
“And doth it not enter my mind (as my warm tears attest)
“These good things being given, to go on, and give one more, the best?
“Ay, to save and redeem and restore him, maintain at the height
“This perfection,—succeed with life’s day-spring, death’s minute of night?
“Interpose at the difficult minute, snatch Saul the mistake,
“Saul the failure, the ruin he seems now,—and bid him awake
“From the dream, the probation, the prelude, to find himself set
“Clear and safe in new light and new life,—a new harmony yet
“To be run, and continued, and ended—who knows?—or endure!
“The man taught enough, by life’s dream, of the rest to make sure;
“By the pain-throb, triumphantly winning intensified bliss,
“And the next world’s reward and repose, by the struggles in this.

XVIII.

“I believe it! ‘Tis thou, God, that givest, ’tis I who receive:
“In the first is the last, in thy will is my power to believe.
“All’s one gift: thou canst grant it moreover, as prompt to my prayer
“As I breathe out this breath, as I open these arms to the air.
“From thy will, stream the worlds, life and nature, thy dread Sabaoth:
“_I_ will?—the mere atoms despise me! Why am I not loth
“To look that, even that in the face too? Why is it I dare
“Think but lightly of such impuissance? What stops my despair?
“This;—’tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do!
“See the King—I would help him but cannot, the wishes fall through.
“Could I wrestle to raise him from sorrow, grow poor to enrich,
“To fill up his life, starve my own out, I would—knowing which,
“I know that my service is perfect. Oh, speak through me now!
“Would I suffer for him that I love? So wouldst thou—so wilt thou!
“So shall crown thee the topmost, ineffablest, uttermost crown—
“And thy love fill infinitude wholly, nor leave up nor down
“One spot for the creature to stand in! It is by no breath,
“Turn of eye, wave of hand, that salvation joins issue with death!
“As thy Love is discovered almighty, almighty be proved
“Thy power, that exists with and for it, of being Beloved!
“He who did most, shall bear most; the strongest shall stand the most weak.
“’Tis the weakness in strength, that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek
“In the Godhead! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it shall be
“A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me,
“Thou shalt love and be loved by, for ever: a Hand like this hand
“Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!”

XIX.

I know not too well how I found my way home in the night.
There were witnesses, cohorts about me, to left and to right,
Angels, powers, the unuttered, unseen, the alive, the aware:
I repressed, I got through them as hardly, as strugglingly there,
As a runner beset by the populace famished for news—
Life or death. The whole earth was awakened, hell loosed with her crews;
And the stars of night beat with emotion, and tingled and shot
Out in fire the strong pain of pent knowledge: but I fainted not,
For the Hand still impelled me at once and supported, suppressed
All the tumult, and quenched it with quiet, and holy behest,
Till the rapture was shut in itself, and the earth sank to rest.
Anon at the dawn, all that trouble had withered from earth—
Not so much, but I saw it die out in the day’s tender birth;
In the gathered intensity brought to the grey of the hills;
In the shuddering forests’ held breath; in the sudden wind-thrills;
In the startled wild beasts that bore off, each with eye sidling still
Though averted with wonder and dread; in the birds stiff and chill
That rose heavily, as I approached them, made stupid with awe:
E’en the serpent that slid away silent,—he felt the new law.
The same stared in the white humid faces upturned by the flowers;
The same worked in the heart of the cedar and moved the vine-bowers:
And the little brooks witnessing murmured, persistent and low,
With their obstinate, all but hushed voices—“E’en so, it is so!”

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Here, in this little Bay,
Full of tumultuous life and great repose,
Where, twice a day,
The purposeless, glad ocean comes and goes,
Under high cliffs, and far from the huge town,
I sit me down.
For want of me the world’s course will not fail:
When all its work is done, the lie shall rot;
The truth is great, and shall prevail,
When none cares whether it prevail or not.

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A Drop fell on the Apple Tree –
Another – on the Roof –
A Half a Dozen kissed the Eaves –
And made the Gables laugh – 

A few went out to help the Brook
That went to help the Sea –
Myself Conjectured were they Pearls –
What Necklaces could be – 

The Dust replaced, in Hoisted Roads –
The Birds jocoser sung –
The Sunshine threw his Hat away –
The Bushes – spangles flung – 

The Breezes brought dejected Lutes –
And bathed them in the Glee –
Then Orient showed a single Flag,
And signed the Fete away –

 

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Peace! Be still!
In this night of sorrow bow,
O my heart! Contend not thou!
What befalls thee is God’s will –
Peace! Be still!

Peace! Be still!
All thy murmuring words are vain –
God will make the riddle plain,
Wait His word and bear His will –
Peace! Be still!

Hold thou still!
Though the good Physician’s knife
Seems to touch thy very life,
Death alone He means to kill, –
Hold thou still!

Shepherd mine!
From Thy fullness give me still
Faith to do and hear Thy will,
Till the morning light shall shine,
Shepherd mine!

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O but is it not hard, Dear?
Mine are the nerves to quake at a mouse:
If a spider drops I shrink with fear:
I should die outright in a haunted house;
While for you—did the danger dared bring help—
From a lion’s den I could steal his whelp,
With a serpent round me, stand stock-still,
Go sleep in a churchyard,—so would will
Give me the power to dare and do
Valiantly—just for you!

Much amiss in the head, Dear,
I toil at a language, tax my brain
Attempting to draw—the scratches here!
I play, play, practise and all in vain:
But for you—if my triumph brought you pride,
I would grapple with Greek Plays till I died,
Paint a portrait of you—who can tell?
Work my fingers off for your “Pretty well:”
Language and painting and music too,
Easily done—for you!

Strong and fierce in the heart, Dear,
With—more than a will—what seems a power
To pounce on my prey, love outbroke here
In flame devouring and to devour.
Such love has laboured its best and worst
To win me a lover; yet, last as first,
I have not quickened his pulse one beat,
Fixed a moment’s fancy, bitter or sweet:
Yet the strong fierce heart’s love’s labour’s due,
Utterly lost, was—you!

 

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All, that I know
Of a certain star
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.

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(a fragment)

In the dungeon-crypts idly did I stray,
Reckless of the lives wasting there away;
“Draw the ponderous bars! open, Warder stern!”
He dared not say me nay—the hinges harshly turn.

“Our guests are darkly lodged,” I whisper’d, gazing through
The vault, whose grated eye showed heaven more gray than blue;
(This was when glad Spring laughed in awaking pride;)
“Ay, darkly lodged enough!” returned my sullen guide.

Then, God forgive my youth; forgive my careless tongue;
I scoffed, as the chill chains on the damp flagstones rung:
“Confined in triple walls, art thou so much to fear,
That we must bind thee down and clench thy fetters here?”

The captive raised her face; it was as soft and mild
As sculptured marble saint, or slumbering unwean’d child;
It was so soft and mild, it was so sweet and fair,
Pain could not trace a line, nor grief a shadow there!

The captive raised her hand and pressed it to her brow;
“I have been struck,” she said, “and I am suffering now;
Yet these are little worth, your bolts and irons strong;
And, were they forged in steel, they could not hold me long.”

Hoarse laughed the jailor grim: “Shall I be won to hear;
Dost think, fond, dreaming wretch, that I shall grant thy prayer?
Or, better still, wilt melt my master’s heart with groans?
Ah! sooner might the sun thaw down these granite stones.

“My master’s voice is low, his aspect bland and kind,
But hard as hardest flint the soul that lurks behind;
And I am rough and rude, yet not more rough to see
Than is the hidden ghost that has its home in me.”

About her lips there played a smile of almost scorn,
“My friend,” she gently said, “you have not heard me mourn;
When you my kindred’s lives, MY lost life, can restore,
Then may I weep and sue,—but never, friend, before!

“Still, let my tyrants know, I am not doomed to wear
Year after year in gloom, and desolate despair;
A messenger of Hope comes every night to me,
And offers for short life, eternal liberty.

“He comes with western winds, with evening’s wandering airs,
With that clear dusk of heaven that brings the thickest stars.
Winds take a pensive tone, and stars a tender fire,
And visions rise, and change, that kill me with desire.

“Desire for nothing known in my maturer years,
When Joy grew mad with awe, at counting future tears.
When, if my spirit’s sky was full of flashes warm,
I knew not whence they came, from sun or thunder-storm.

“But, first, a hush of peace—a soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress, and fierce impatience ends;
Mute music soothes my breast—unuttered harmony,
That I could never dream, till Earth was lost to me.

“Then dawns the Invisible; the Unseen its truth reveals;
My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels:
Its wings are almost free—its home, its harbour found,
Measuring the gulph, it stoops and dares the final bound,

“Oh I dreadful is the check—intense the agony—
When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see;
When the pulse begins to throb, the brain to think again;
The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain.

“Yet I would lose no sting, would wish no torture less;
The more that anguish racks, the earlier it will bless;
And robed in fires of hell, or bright with heavenly shine,
If it but herald death, the vision is divine!”

She ceased to speak, and we, unanswering, turned to go—
We had no further power to work the captive woe:
Her cheek, her gleaming eye, declared that man had given
A sentence, unapproved, and overruled by Heaven.

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‘When I was just as far as I could walk
From here today,
There was an hour
All still
When leaning with my head again a flower
I heard you talk.
Don’t say I didn’t, for I heard you say–
You spoke from that flower on the window sill-
Do you remember what it was you said?’
‘First tell me what it was you thought you heard.’
‘Having found the flower and driven a bee away,
I leaned on my head
And holding by the stalk,
I listened and I thought I caught the word–
What was it? Did you call me by my name?
Or did you say–
Someone said “Come” — I heard it as I bowed.’
‘I may have thought as much, but not aloud.’
“Well, so I came.’

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