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Supposed to be written by one at the point of death.

 

Give me my scallop shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation:
My gown of glory, hope’s true gage,
And thus I’ll make my pilgrimage.

Blood must be my body’s balmer,
No other balm will there be given
Whilst my soul like a white palmer
Travels to the land of heaven,
Over the silver mountains,
Where spring the nectar fountains;
And there I’ll kiss
The bowl of bliss,
And drink my eternal fill
On every milken hill.
My soul will be a-dry before,
But after it, will ne’er thirst more.

And by the happy blissful way
More peaceful pilgrims I shall see,
That have shook off their gowns of clay,
And go apparelled fresh like me.
I’ll bring them  first
To slake their thirst,
And then to taste those nectar suckets
At the clear wells
Where sweetness dwells,
Drawn up by saints in crystal buckets.

And when our bottles and all we
Are filled with immortality;
Then the holy paths we’ll travel
Strewed with rubies thick as gravel,
Ceilings of diamonds, sapphire floors,
High walls of coral and pearl bowers.

From thence to heaven’s bribeless hall
Where no corrupted voices brawl,
No conscience molten into gold,
Nor forg’d accusers bought and sold,
No cause deferred, nor vain-spent journey,
For there Christ is the King’s Attorney:
Who pleads for all without degrees,
And he hath angels, but no fees.

When the grand twelve million jury
Of our sins with sinful fury,
Gainst our souls black verdicts give,
Christ pleads his death, and then we live.
Be thou my speaker, taintless pleader,
Unblotted lawyer, true proceeder,
Thou movest salvation even for alms,
Nor with a bribéd lawyer’s palms.

And this is my eternal plea,
To him that made heaven, earth and sea,
Seeing my flesh must die so soon,
And want a head to dine next noon,
Just at the stroke when my veins start and spread
Set on my soul and everlasting head.
Then am I ready like a palmer fit,
To tread those blest paths which before I writ.

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Science, true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee, or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car,
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

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Look out upon the stars, my love,
And shame them with thine eyes,
On which, than on the lights above,
There hang more destinies.
Night’s beauty is the harmony
Of blending shades and light;
Then, lady, up, – look out, and be
A sister to the night!

Sleep not! thine image wakes for aye
Within my watching breast:
Sleep not! from her soft sleep should fly
Who robs all hearts of rest.
Nay, lady, from thy slumbers break,
And make this darkness gay
With looks, whose brightness well might make
Of darker nights a day.

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Woodspurge

The wind flapped loose, the wind was still,
Shaken out dead from tree and hill:
I had walked on at the wind’s will, –
I saw now, for the wind was still.

Between my knees my forehead was, –
My lips, drawn in, said not Alas!
My hair was over in the grass,
My naked ears heard the day pass.

My eyes, wide open, had the run
Of some ten weeds to fix upon;
Among those few, out of the sun,
The woodspurge flowered, three cups in one.

From perfect grief there need not be
Wisdom or even memory:
One thing then learnt remains to me, –
The woodspurge has a cup of three.

——————————————–

Analysis:
http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/dgr/healey5.html

http://matthewspoetryanalysis.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-woodspurge-dante-gabriel-rossetti.html

https://hokku.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/the-woodspurge-all-thought-exhausted/

https://igcseblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/the-woodspurge-by-daniel-gabriel-rossetti/

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In the Orchard-Days, when you
Children look like blossoms, too,
Bessie, with her jaunty ways
And trim poise of head and face,
Must have looked superior
Even to the blossoms, – for
Little Winnie once averred
Bessie looked just like the bird
Tilted on the topmost spray
Of the apple boughs in May.
With the redbreast, and the strong
Clear, sweet warble of his song  –
“I don’t know their name,” Win said –
“I ist maked a name instead.” –
So forever afterwards
We called robins “Bessie-birds.”

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O heart of mine, we shouldn’t
Worry so!
What we’ve missed of calm we couldn’t
Have you know!
What we’ve met of stormy pain
And of sorrow’s driving rain,
We can better meet again,
If it blow!

We have erred in that dark hour
We have known,
When our tears fell with the shower,
All alone! –
Were not shine and shower blent
As the gracious Master meant? –
Let us temper our content
With His own.

For, we know not every morrow
Can be sad;
So, forgetting all the sorrow
We have had,
Let us fold away our fears,
And put by our foolish tears,
And through all the coming years
Just be glad.

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An old sweetheart of mine! – Is this her presence here with me,
Or but a vain creation of a lover’s memory?
A fair, illusive vision that would vanish into air
Dared I even touch the silence with the whisper of a prayer?

Nay, let me then believe in all the blended false and true –
The semblance of the old love and the substance of the new, –
The then of changeless sunny days, the now of shower and shine –
But Love forever smiling – as that old sweetheart of mine.

This ever-restful sense of home, though shouts ring in the hall.
The easy chair – the old book-shelves and prints along the wall;
The rare Habanas in their box, or gaunt church-warden-stem
That often wags, above the jar, derisively at them.

As one who cons at evening o’er an album, all alone,
And muses on the faces of the friends that he has known,
So I turn the leaves of Fancy, till, in shadowy, design,
I find the smiling features of an old sweetheart of mine.

The lamplight seems to glimmer with a flicker of surprise,
As I turn it low – to rest me of the dazzle in my eyes,
And light my pipe in silence, save a sigh that seems to yoke
Its fate with my tobacco and to vanish with the smoke.

‘Tis a fragrant retrospection, – for the loving thoughts that start
Into being are like perfume from the blossom of the heart;
And to dream the old dreams over is a luxury divine –
When my truant fancies wander with that old sweetheart of mine.

Though I hear beneath my study, like a fluttering of wings,
The voices of my children and the mother as she sings –
I feel no twinge of conscience to deny me any theme
When Care has cast her anchor in the harbor of a dream –

In fact, to speak in earnest, I believe it adds a charm
To spice the good a trifle with a little dust of harm, –
For I find an extra flavor in Memory’s mellow wine
That makes me drink the deeper to that old sweetheart of mine.

O Childhood-days enchanted! O the magic of the Spring! –
With all green boughs to blossom white, and all bluebirds to sing!
When all the air, to toss and quaff, made life a jubilee
And changed the children’s song and laugh to shrieks of ecstasy.

With eyes half closed in clouds that ooze from lips that taste, as well,
The peppermint and cinnamon, I hear the old School bell,
And from “Recess” romp in again from “Blackman’s” broken line,
To smile, behind my “lesson,” at that old sweetheart of mine.

A face of lily beauty, with a form of airy grace,
Floats out of my tobacco as the Genii from the vase;
And I thrill beneath the glances of a pair of azure eyes
As glowing as the summer and as tender as the skies.

I can see the pink sunbonnet and the little checkered dress
She wore when first I kissed her and she answered the caress
With the written declaration that, “as surely as the vine
Grew ’round the stump,” she loved me – that old sweetheart of mine.

Again I made her presents, in a really helpless way, –
The big “Rhode Island Greening” – I was hungry, too, that day! –
But I follow her from Spelling, with her hand behind her – so –
And I slip the apple in it – and the Teacher doesn’t know!

I give my treasures to her – all, – my pencil – blue-and-red; –
And, if little girls played marbles, mine should all be hers, instead!
But she gave me her photograph, and printed “Ever Thine”
Across the back – in blue-and-red – that old sweetheart of mine!

And again I feel the pressure of her slender little hand,
As we used to talk together of the future we had planned, –
When I should be a poet, and with nothing else to do
But write the tender verses that she set her music to…

When we should live together in a cozy little cot
Hid in a nest of roses, with a fairy garden-spot,
Where the vines were ever fruited, and the weather ever fine,
And the birds were ever singing for that old sweetheart of mine.

When I should be her lover forever and a day,
And she my faithful sweetheart till the golden hair was gray;
And we should be so happy that when either’s lips were dumb
They would not smile in Heaven till the other’s kiss had come.

But, ah! my dream is broken by a step upon the stair,
And the door is softly opened, and – my wife is standing there:
Yet with eagerness and rapture all my visions I resign, –
To greet the living presence of that old sweetheart of mine.

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ouorxtg

 

Thou dread, uncanny thing,
With fuzzy breast and leathern wing,
In mad, zigzagging flight,
Notching the dusk, and buffeting
The black cheeks of the night,
……With grim delight!

What witch’s hand unhasps
Thy keen claw-cornered wings
From under the barn roof, and flings
Thee forth, with chattering gasps,
……To scud the air,
And nip the ladybug, and tear
Her children’s hearts out unaware?

The glowworm’s glimmer, and the bright,
Sad pulsings of the firefly’s light,
Are banquet lights to thee.
O less than bird, and worse than beast,
Thou Devil’s self, or brat, at least,
Grate not they teeth at me!

——————————–

photo by Bartek Ambrozik at
http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/oUoRxTG/Bats

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The plunging limbers over the shattered track
Racketed with their rusty freight,
Stuck out like many crowns of thorns,
And the rusty stakes like sceptres old
To stay the flood of brutish men
Upon our brothers dear.

The wheels lurched over sprawled dead
But pained them not, though their bones crunched,
Their shut mouths made no moan.
They lie there huddled, friend and foeman,
Man born of man, and born of woman,
And shells go crying over them
From night till night and now.

Earth has waited for them,
All the time of their growth
Fretting for their decay:
Now she has them at last!
In the strength of their strength
Suspended—stopped and held.

What fierce imaginings their dark souls lit?
Earth! have they gone into you!
Somewhere they must have gone,
And flung on your hard back
Is their soul’s sack
Emptied of God-ancestralled essences.
Who hurled them out? Who hurled?

None saw their spirits’ shadow shake the grass,
Or stood aside for the half used life to pass
Out of those doomed nostrils and the doomed mouth,
When the swift iron burning bee
Drained the wild honey of their youth.

What of us who, flung on the shrieking pyre,
Walk, our usual thoughts untouched,
Our lucky limbs as on ichor fed,
Immortal seeming ever?
Perhaps when the flames beat loud on us,
A fear may choke in our veins
And the startled blood may stop.

The air is loud with death,
The dark air spurts with fire,
The explosions ceaseless are.
Timelessly now, some minutes past,
Those dead strode time with vigorous life,
Till the shrapnel called ‘An end!’
But not to all. In bleeding pangs
Some borne on stretchers dreamed of home,
Dear things, war-blotted from their hearts.

Maniac Earth! howling and flying, your bowel
Seared by the jagged fire, the iron love,
The impetuous storm of savage love.
Dark Earth! dark Heavens! swinging in chemic smoke,
What dead are born when you kiss each soundless soul
With lightning and thunder from your mined heart,
Which man’s self dug, and his blind fingers loosed?

A man’s brains splattered on
A stretcher-bearer’s face;
His shook shoulders slipped their load,
But when they bent to look again
The drowning soul was sunk too deep
For human tenderness.

They left this dead with the older dead,
Stretched at the cross roads.

Burnt black by strange decay
Their sinister faces lie,
The lid over each eye,
The grass and coloured clay
More motion have than they,
Joined to the great sunk silences.

Here is one not long dead;
His dark hearing caught our far wheels,
And the choked soul stretched weak hands
To reach the living word the far wheels said,
The blood-dazed intelligence beating for light,
Crying through the suspense of the far torturing wheels
Swift for the end to break
Or the wheels to break,
Cried as the tide of the world broke over his sight.

Will they come? Will they ever come?
Even as the mixed hoofs of the mules,
The quivering-bellied mules,
And the rushing wheels all mixed
With his tortured upturned sight.
So we crashed round the bend,
We heard his weak scream,
We heard his very last sound,
And our wheels grazed his dead face.

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The chiming seas may clang; and Tubal Cain
May clink his tinkling metals as he may;
Or Pan may sit and pipe his breath away;
Or Orpheus wake his most entrancing strain
Till not a note of melody remain! –
But thou, O cricket, with thy roundelay,
Shalt laugh them all to scorn!  So wilt thou, pray
Trill me thy glad song o’er and o’er again:
I shall not weary; there is purest worth
In thy sweet prattle, since it sings the lone
Heart home again.  Thy warbling hath no dearth
Of childish memories – no harsher tone
Than we might listen to in gentlest mirth,
Thou poor plebeian minstrel of the hearth.

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