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Poems - Volume 1

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O, take to your fancy a sculptor whose fresh marble offspringappearsBefore him, shiningly perfect, the laurel-crown'd issue of years:Is heaven offended? for lightning behold from its bosom escape,And those are mocking fragments that made the harmonious shape!He cannot love the ruins, till, feeling that ruins aloneAre left, he loves them threefold. So passed the old grandfather'smoan.


John's text for a sermon on Slaughter he heard, and he did notprotest.All rigid as April snowdrifts, he stood, hard and feeble; his chestJust showing the swell of the fire as it melted him. Smiting a rib,'Heigh! what have we been about, Tom! Was this all a terrible fib?'He cried, and the letter forth-trembled. Tom told what the cannonhad done.Few present but ached to see falling those aged tears on his heart'sson!


Up lanes of the quiet village, and where the mill-waters rush redThro' browning summer meadows to catch the sun's crimsoning head,You meet an old man and a maiden who has the soft ways of a wifeWith one whom they wheel, alternate; whose delicate flush of newlifeIs prized like the early primrose. Then shake his right hand, inthe chair -The old man fails never to tell you: 'You've got the FrenchGeneral's there!'


How low when angels fall their black descent,Our primal thunder tells: known is the painOf music, that nigh throning wisdom went,And one false note cast wailful to the insane.Now seems the language heard of Love as rainTo make a mire where fruitfulness was meant.The golden harp gives out a jangled strain,Too like revolt from heaven's Omnipotent.But listen in the thought; so may there comeConception of a newly-added chord,Commanding space beyond where ear has home.In labour of the trouble at its fount,Leads Life to an intelligible LordThe rebel discords up the sacred mount.


By this he knew she wept with waking eyes:That, at his hand's light quiver by her head,The strange low sobs that shook their common bedWere called into her with a sharp surprise,And strangled mute, like little gaping snakes,Dreadfully venomous to him. She layStone-still, and the long darkness flowed awayWith muffled pulses. Then, as midnight makesHer giant heart of Memory and TearsDrink the pale drug of silence, and so beatSleep's heavy measure, they from head to feetWere moveless, looking through their dead black years,By vain regret scrawled over the blank wall.Like sculptured effigies they might be seenUpon their marriage-tomb, the sword between;Each wishing for the sword that severs all.


It ended, and the morrow brought the task.Her eyes were guilty gates, that let him inBy shutting all too zealous for their sin:Each sucked a secret, and each wore a mask.But, oh, the bitter taste her beauty had!He sickened as at breath of poison-flowers:A languid humour stole among the hours,And if their smiles encountered, he went mad,And raged deep inward, till the light was brownBefore his vision, and the world, forgot,Looked wicked as some old dull murder-spot....