Poems by Currer Bell


Charlotte Bronte

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Text derived from Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, published in 1846.

This web edition published by eBooks@Adelaide.

Last updated Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 12:55.

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Table of Contents

  1. Pilate’s Wife’s Dream.
  2. Mementos.
  3. The Wife’s Will.
  4. The Wood.
  5. Frances.
  6. Gilbert.
    1. The Garden.
    2. The Parlour.
    3. The Welcome Home.
  7. Life.
  8. The Letter.
  9. Regret.
  10. Presentiment.
  11. The Teacher’s Monologue.
  12. Passion.
  13. Preference.
  14. Evening Solace.
  15. Stanzas.
  16. Parting.
  17. Apostasy.
  18. Winter Stores.
  19. The Missionary.

Pilate’s Wife’s Dream.

I’ve quench’d my lamp, I struck it in that start

Which every limb convulsed, I heard it fall —

The crash blent with my sleep, I saw depart

Its light, even as I woke, on yonder wall;

Over against my bed, there shone a gleam

Strange, faint, and mingling also with my dream.

It sank, and I am wrapt in utter gloom;

How far is night advanced, and when will day

Retinge the dusk and livid air with bloom,

And fill this void with warm, creative ray?

Would I could sleep again till, clear and red,

Morning shall on the mountain-tops be spread!

I’d call my women, but to break their sleep,

Because my own is broken, were unjust;

They’ve wrought all day, and well-earn’d slumbers steep

Their labours in forgetfulness, I trust;

Let me my feverish watch with patience bear,

Thankful that none with me its sufferings share.

Yet, oh, for light! one ray would tranquillize

My nerves, my pulses, more than effort can;

I’ll draw my curtain and consult the skies:

These trembling stars at dead of night look wan,

Wild, restless, strange, yet cannot be more drear

Than this my couch, shared by a nameless fear.

All black — one great cloud, drawn from east to west,

Conceals the heavens, but there are lights below;

Torches burn in Jerusalem, and cast

On yonder stony mount a lurid glow.

I see men station’d there, and gleaming spears;

A sound, too, from afar, invades my ears.

Dull, measured strokes of axe and hammer ring

From street to street, not loud, but through the night

Distinctly heard — and some strange spectral thing

Is now uprear’d — and, fix’d against the light

Of the pale lamps, defined upon that sky,

It stands up like a column, straight and high.

I see it all — I know the dusky sign —

A cross on Calvary, which Jews uprear

While Romans watch; and when the dawn shall shine

Pilate, to judge the victim, will appear —

Pass sentence-yield Him up to crucify;

And on that cross the spotless Christ must die.

Dreams, then, are true — for thus my vision ran;

Surely some oracle has been with me,

The gods have chosen me to reveal their plan,

To warn an unjust judge of destiny:

I, slumbering, heard and saw; awake I know,

Christ’s coming death, and Pilate’s life of woe.

I do not weep for Pilate — who could prove

Regret for him whose cold and crushing sway

No prayer can soften, no appeal can move:

Who tramples hearts as others trample clay,

Yet with a faltering, an uncertain tread,

That might stir up reprisal in the dead.

Forced to sit by his side and see his deeds;

Forced to behold that visage, hour by hour,

In whose gaunt lines the abhorrent gazer reads

A triple lust of gold, and blood, and power;

A soul whom motives fierce, yet abject, urge —

Rome’s servile slave, and Judah’s tyrant scourge.

How can I love, or mourn, or pity him?

I, who so long my fetter’d hands have wrung;

I, who for grief have wept my eyesight dim;

Because, while life for me was bright and young,

He robb’d my youth — he quench’d my life’s fair ray —

He crush’d my mind, and did my freedom slay.

And at this hour-although I be his wife —

He has no more of tenderness from me

Than any other wretch of guilty life;

Less, for I know his household privacy —

I see him as he is — without a screen;

And, by the gods, my soul abhors his mien!

Has he not sought my presence, dyed in blood —

Innocent, righteous blood, shed shamelessly?

And have I not his red salute withstood?

Ay, when, as erst, he plunged all Galilee

In dark bereavement — in affliction sore,

Mingling their very offerings with their gore.

Then came he — in his eyes a serpent-smile,

Upon his lips some false, endearing word,

And through the streets of Salem clang’d the while

His slaughtering, hacking, sacrilegious sword —

And I, to see a man cause men such woe,

Trembled with ire — I did not fear to show.

And now, the envious Jewish priests have brought

Jesus — whom they in mock’ry call their king —

To have, by this grim power, their vengeance wrought;

By this mean reptile, innocence to sting.

Oh! could I but the purposed doom avert,

And shield the blameless head from cruel hurt!

Accessible is Pilate’s heart to fear,

Omens will shake his soul, like autumn leaf;

Could he this night’s appalling vision hear,

This just man’s bonds were loosed, his life were safe,

Unless that bitter priesthood should prevail,

And make even terror to their malice quail.

Yet if I tell the dream — but let me pause.

What dream? Erewhile the characters were clear,

Graved on my brain — at once some unknown cause

Has dimm’d and razed the thoughts, which now appear,

Like a vague remnant of some by-past scene; —

Not what will be, but what, long since, has been.

I suffer’d many things — I heard foretold

A dreadful doom for Pilate — lingering woes,

In far, barbarian climes, where mountains cold

Built up a solitude of trackless snows,

There he and grisly wolves prowl’d side by side,

There he lived famish’d — there, methought, he died;

But not of hunger, nor by malady;

I saw the snow around him, stain’d with gore;

I said I had no tears for such as he,

And, lo! my cheek is wet — mine eyes run o’er;

I weep for mortal suffering, mortal guilt,

I weep the impious deed, the blood self-spilt.

More I recall not, yet the vision spread

Into a world remote, an age to come —

And still the illumined name of Jesus shed

A light, a clearness, through the unfolding gloom —

And still I saw that sign, which now I see,

That cross on yonder brow of Calvary.

What is this Hebrew Christ?-to me unknown

His lineage — doctrine — mission; yet how clear

Is God-like goodness in his actions shown,

How straight and stainless is his life’s career!

The ray of Deity that rests on him,

In my eyes makes Olympian glory dim.

The world advances; Greek or Roman rite

Suffices not the inquiring mind to stay;

The searching soul demands a purer light

To guide it on its upward, onward way;

Ashamed of sculptured gods, Religion turns

To where the unseen Jehovah’s altar burns.

Our faith is rotten, all our rites defiled,

Our temples sullied, and, methinks, this man,

With his new ordinance, so wise and mild,

Is come, even as He says, the chaff to fan

And sever from the wheat; but will his faith

Survive the terrors of tomorrow’s death?

I feel a firmer trust — a higher hope

Rise in my soul — it dawns with dawning day;

Lo! on the Temple’s roof — on Moriah’s slope

Appears at length that clear and crimson ray

Which I so wished for when shut in by night;

Oh, opening skies, I hail, I bless pour light!

Part, clouds and shadows! Glorious Sun appear!

Part, mental gloom! Come insight from on high!

Dusk dawn in heaven still strives with daylight clear

The longing soul doth still uncertain sigh.

Oh! to behold the truth — that sun divine,

How doth my bosom pant, my spirit pine!

This day, Time travails with a mighty birth;

This day, Truth stoops from heaven and visits earth;

Ere night descends I shall more surely know

What guide to follow, in what path to go;

I wait in hope — I wait in solemn fear,

The oracle of God — the sole — true God — to hear.

Mementos.

Arranging long-locked drawers and shelves

Of cabinets, shut up for years,

What a strange task we’ve set ourselves!

How still the lonely room appears!

How strange this mass of ancient treasures,

Mementos of past pains and pleasures;

These volumes, clasped with costly stone,

With print all faded, gilding gone;

These fans of leaves from Indian trees —

These crimson shells, from Indian seas —

These tiny portraits, set in rings —

Once, doubtless, deemed such precious things;

Keepsakes bestowed by Love on Faith,

And worn till the receiver’s death,

Now stored with cameos, china, shells,

In this old closet’s dusty cells.

I scarcely think, for ten long years,

A hand has touched these relics old;

And, coating each, slow-formed, appears

The growth of green and antique mould.

All in this house is mossing over;

All is unused, and dim, and damp;

Nor light, nor warmth, the rooms discover —

Bereft for years of fire and lamp.

The sun, sometimes in summer, enters

The casements, with reviving ray;

But the long rains of many winters

Moulder the very walls away.

And outside all is ivy, clinging

To chimney, lattice, gable grey;

Scarcely one little red rose springing

Through the green moss can force its way.

Unscared, the daw and starling nestle,

Where the tall turret rises high,

And winds alone come near to rustle

The thick leaves where their cradles lie,

I sometimes think, when late at even

I climb the stair reluctantly,

Some shape that should be well in heaven,

Or ill elsewhere, will pass by me.

I fear to see the very faces,

Familiar thirty years ago,

Even in the old accustomed places

Which look so cold and gloomy now,

I’ve come, to close the window, hither,

At twilight, when the sun was down,

And Fear my very soul would wither,

Lest something should be dimly shown,

Too much the buried form resembling,

Of her who once was mistress here;

Lest doubtful shade, or moonbeam trembling,

Might take her aspect, once so dear.

Hers was this chamber; in her time

It seemed to me a pleasant room,

For then no cloud of grief or crime

Had cursed it with a settled gloom;

I had not seen death’s image laid

In shroud and sheet, on yonder bed.

Before she married, she was blest —

Blest in her youth, blest in her worth;

Her mind was calm, its sunny rest

Shone in her eyes more clear than mirth.

And when attired in rich array,

Light, lustrous hair about her brow,

She yonder sat, a kind of day

Lit up what seems so gloomy now.

These grim oak walls even then were grim;

That old carved chair was then antique;

But what around looked dusk and dim

Served as a foil to her fresh cheek;

Her neck and arms, of hue so fair,

Eyes of unclouded, smiling light;

Her soft, and curled, and floating hair,

Gems and attire, as rainbow bright.

Reclined in yonder deep recess,

Ofttimes she would, at evening, lie

Watching the sun; she seemed to bless

With happy glance the glorious sky.

She loved such scenes, and as she gazed,

Her face evinced her spirit’s mood;

Beauty or grandeur ever raised

In her, a deep-felt gratitude.

But of all lovely things, she loved

A cloudless moon, on summer night,

Full oft have I impatience proved

To see how long her still delight

Would find a theme in reverie,

Out on the lawn, or where the trees

Let in the lustre fitfully,

As their boughs parted momently,

To the soft, languid, summer breeze.

Alas! that she should e’er have flung

Those pure, though lonely joys away —

Deceived by false and guileful tongue,

She gave her hand, then suffered wrong;

Oppressed, ill-used, she faded young,

And died of grief by slow decay.

Open that casket-look how bright

Those jewels flash upon the sight;

The brilliants have not lost a ray

Of lustre, since her wedding day.

But see — upon that pearly chain —

How dim lies Time’s discolouring stain!

I’ve seen that by her daughter worn:

For, ere she died, a child was born; —

A child that ne’er its mother knew,

That lone, and almost friendless grew;

For, ever, when its step drew nigh,

Averted was the father’s eye;

And then, a life impure and wild

Made him a stranger to his child:

Absorbed in vice, he little cared

On what she did, or how she fared.

The love withheld she never sought,

She grew uncherished — learnt untaught;

To her the inward life of thought

Full soon was open laid.

I know not if her friendlessness

Did sometimes on her spirit press,

But plaint she never made.

The book-shelves were her darling treasure,

She rarely seemed the time to measure

While she could read alone.

And she too loved the twilight wood

And often, in her mother’s mood,

Away to yonder hill would hie,

Like her, to watch the setting sun,

Or see the stars born, one by one,

Out of the darkening sky.

Nor would she leave that hill till night

Trembled from pole to pole with light;

Even then, upon her homeward way,

Long — long her wandering steps delayed

To quit the sombre forest shade,

Through which her eerie pathway lay.

You ask if she had beauty’s grace?

I know not — but a nobler face

My eyes have seldom seen;

A keen and fine intelligence,

And, better still, the truest sense

Were in her speaking mien.

But bloom or lustre was there none,

Only at moments, fitful shone

An ardour in her eye,

That kindled on her cheek a flush,

Warm as a red sky’s passing blush

And quick with energy.

Her speech, too, was not common speech,

No wish to shine, or aim to teach,

Was in her words displayed:

She still began with quiet sense,

But oft the force of eloquence

Came to her lips in aid;

Language and voice unconscious changed,

And thoughts, in other words arranged,

Her fervid soul transfused

Into the hearts of those who heard,

And transient strength and ardour stirred,

In minds to strength unused,

Yet in gay crowd or festal glare,

Grave and retiring was her air;

’Twas seldom, save with me alone,

That fire of feeling freely shone;

She loved not awe’s nor wonder’s gaze,

Nor even exaggerated praise,

Nor even notice, if too keen

The curious gazer searched her mien.

Nature’s own green expanse revealed

The world, the pleasures, she could prize;

On free hill-side, in sunny field,

In quiet spots by woods concealed,

Grew wild and fresh her chosen joys,

Yet Nature’s feelings deeply lay

In that endowed and youthful frame;

Shrined in her heart and hid from day,

They burned unseen with silent flame.

In youth’s first search for mental light,

She lived but to reflect and learn,

But soon her mind’s maturer might

For stronger task did pant and yearn;

And stronger task did fate assign,

Task that a giant’s strength might strain;

To suffer long and ne’er repine,

Be calm in frenzy, smile at pain.

Pale with the secret war of feeling,

Sustained with courage, mute, yet high;

The wounds at which she bled, revealing

Only by altered cheek and eye;

She bore in silence — but when passion

Surged in her soul with ceaseless foam,

The storm at last brought desolation,

And drove her exiled from her home.

And silent still, she straight assembled

The wrecks of strength her soul retained;

For though the wasted body trembled,

The unconquered mind, to quail, disdained.

She crossed the sea — now lone she wanders

By Seine’s, or Rhine’s, or Arno’s flow;

Fain would I know if distance renders

Relief or comfort to her woe.

Fain would I know if, henceforth, ever,

These eyes shall read in hers again,

That light of love which faded never,

Though dimmed so long with secret pain.

She will return, but cold and altered,

Like all whose hopes too soon depart;

Like all on whom have beat, unsheltered,

The bitter blasts that blight the heart.

No more shall I behold her lying

Calm on a pillow, smoothed by me;

No more that spirit, worn with sighing,

Will know the rest of infancy.

If still the paths of lore she follow,

’Twill be with tired and goaded will;

She’ll only toil, the aching hollow,

The joyless blank of life to fill.

And oh! full oft, quite spent and weary,

Her hand will pause, her head decline;

That labour seems so hard and dreary,

On which no ray of hope may shine.

Thus the pale blight of time and sorrow

Will shade with grey her soft, dark hair;

Then comes the day that knows no morrow,

And death succeeds to long despair.

So speaks experience, sage and hoary;

I see it plainly, know it well,

Like one who, having read a story,

Each incident therein can tell.

Touch not that ring; ’twas his, the sire

Of that forsaken child;

And nought his relics can inspire

Save memories, sin-defiled.

I, who sat by his wife’s death-bed,

I, who his daughter loved,

Could almost curse the guilty dead,

For woes the guiltless proved.

And heaven did curse — they found him laid,

When crime for wrath was rife,

Cold — with the suicidal blade

Clutched in his desperate gripe.

’Twas near that long deserted hut,

Which in the wood decays,

Death’s axe, self-wielded, struck his root,

And lopped his desperate days.

You know the spot, where three black trees,

Lift up their branches fell,

And moaning, ceaseless as the seas,

Still seem, in every passing breeze,

The deed of blood to tell.

They named him mad, and laid his bones

Where holier ashes lie;

Yet doubt not that his spirit groans

In hell’s eternity.

But, lo! night, closing o’er the earth,

Infects our thoughts with gloom;

Come, let us strive to rally mirth

Where glows a clear and tranquil hearth

In some more cheerful room.

The Wife’s Will.

Sit still — a word — a breath may break

(As light airs stir a sleeping lake)

The glassy calm that soothes my woes —

The sweet, the deep, the full repose.

O leave me not! for ever be

Thus, more than life itself to me!

Yes, close beside thee let me kneel —

Give me thy hand, that I may feel

The friend so true — so tried — so dear,

My heart’s own chosen — indeed is near;

And check me not — this hour divine

Belongs to me — is fully mine.

’Tis thy own hearth thou sitt’st beside,

After long absence — wandering wide;

’Tis thy own wife reads in thine eyes

A promise clear of stormless skies;

For faith and true love light the rays

Which shine responsive to her gaze.

Ay — well that single tear may fall;

Ten thousand might mine eyes recall,

Which from their lids ran blinding fast,

In hours of grief, yet scarcely past;

Well mayst thou speak of love to me,

For, oh! most truly — I love thee!

Yet smile — for we are happy now.

Whence, then, that sadness on thy brow?

What sayst thou?” We muse once again,

Ere long, be severed by the main!”

I knew not this — I deemed no more

Thy step would err from Britain’s shore.

“Duty commands!” ’Tis true —’tis just;

Thy slightest word I wholly trust,

Nor by request, nor faintest sigh,

Would I to turn thy purpose try;

But, William, hear my solemn vow —

Hear and confirm! — with thee I go.

“Distance and suffering,” didst thou say?

“Danger by night, and toil by day?”

Oh, idle words and vain are these;

Hear me! I cross with thee the seas.

Such risk as thou must meet and dare,

I— thy true wife — will duly share.

Passive, at home, I will not pine;

Thy toils, thy perils shall be mine;

Grant this — and be hereafter paid

By a warm heart’s devoted aid:

’Tis granted — with that yielding kiss,

Entered my soul unmingled bliss.

Thanks, William, thanks! thy love has joy,

Pure, undefiled with base alloy;

’Tis not a passion, false and blind,

Inspires, enchains, absorbs my mind;

Worthy, I feel, art thou to be

Loved with my perfect energy.

This evening now shall sweetly flow,

Lit by our clear fire’s happy glow;

And parting’s peace-embittering fear,

Is warned our hearts to come not near;

For fate admits my soul’s decree,

In bliss or bale — to go with thee!

The Wood.

But two miles more, and then we rest!

Well, there is still an hour of day,

And long the brightness of the West

Will light us on our devious way;

Sit then, awhile, here in this wood —

So total is the solitude,

We safely may delay.

These massive roots afford a seat,

Which seems for weary travellers made.

There rest. The air is soft and sweet

In this sequestered forest glade,

And there are scents of flowers around,

The evening dew draws from the ground;

How soothingly they spread!

Yes; I was tired, but not at heart;

No — that beats full of sweet content,

For now I have my natural part

Of action with adventure blent;

Cast forth on the wide world with thee,

And all my once waste energy

To weighty purpose bent.

Yet — sayst thou, spies around us roam,

Our aims are termed conspiracy?

Haply, no more our English home

An anchorage for us may be?

That there is risk our mutual blood

May redden in some lonely wood

The knife of treachery?

Sayst thou, that where we lodge each night,

In each lone farm, or lonelier hall

Of Norman Peer — ere morning light

Suspicion must as duly fall,

As day returns — such vigilance

Presides and watches over France,

Such rigour governs all?

I fear not, William; dost thou fear?

So that the knife does not divide,

It may be ever hovering near:

I could not tremble at thy side,

And strenuous love — like mine for thee —

Is buckler strong ‘gainst treachery,

And turns its stab aside.

I am resolved that thou shalt learn

To trust my strength as I trust thine;

I am resolved our souls shall burn

With equal, steady, mingling shine;

Part of the field is conquered now,

Our lives in the same channel flow,

Along the self-same line;

And while no groaning storm is heard,

Thou seem’st content it should be so,

But soon as comes a warning word

Of danger — straight thine anxious brow

Bends over me a mournful shade,

As doubting if my powers are made

To ford the floods of woe.

Know, then it is my spirit swells,

And drinks, with eager joy, the air

Of freedom — where at last it dwells,

Chartered, a common task to share

With thee, and then it stirs alert,

And pants to learn what menaced hurt

Demands for thee its care.

Remember, I have crossed the deep,

And stood with thee on deck, to gaze

On waves that rose in threatening heap,

While stagnant lay a heavy haze,

Dimly confusing sea with sky,

And baffling, even, the pilot’s eye,

Intent to thread the maze —

Of rocks, on Bretagne’s dangerous coast,

And find a way to steer our band

To the one point obscure, which lost,

Flung us, as victims, on the strand; —

All, elsewhere, gleamed the Gallic sword,

And not a wherry could be moored

Along the guarded land.

I feared not then — I fear not now;

The interest of each stirring scene

Wakes a new sense, a welcome glow,

In every nerve and bounding vein;

Alike on turbid Channel sea,

Or in still wood of Normandy,

I feel as born again.

The rain descended that wild morn

When, anchoring in the cove at last,

Our band, all weary and forlorn

Ashore, like wave-worn sailors, cast —

Sought for a sheltering roof in vain,

And scarce could scanty food obtain

To break their morning fast.

Thou didst thy crust with me divide,

Thou didst thy cloak around me fold;

And, sitting silent by thy side,

I ate the bread in peace untold:

Given kindly from thy hand, ’twas sweet

As costly fare or princely treat

On royal plate of gold.

Sharp blew the sleet upon my face,

And, rising wild, the gusty wind

Drove on those thundering waves apace,

Our crew so late had left behind;

But, spite of frozen shower and storm,

So close to thee, my heart beat warm,

And tranquil slept my mind.

So now — nor foot-sore nor opprest

With walking all this August day,

I taste a heaven in this brief rest,

This gipsy-halt beside the way.

England’s wild flowers are fair to view,

Like balm is England’s summer dew

Like gold her sunset ray.

But the white violets, growing here,

Are sweeter than I yet have seen,

And ne’er did dew so pure and clear

Distil on forest mosses green,

As now, called forth by summer heat,

Perfumes our cool and fresh retreat —

These fragrant limes between.

That sunset! Look beneath the boughs,

Over the copse — beyond the hills;

How soft, yet deep and warm it glows,

And heaven with rich suffusion fills;

With hues where still the opal’s tint,

Its gleam of prisoned fire is blent,

Where flame through azure thrills!

Depart we now — for fast will fade

That solemn splendour of decline,

And deep must be the after-shade

As stars alone to-night will shine;

No moon is destined — pale — to gaze

On such a day’s vast Phoenix blaze,

A day in fires decayed!

There — hand-inhand we tread again

The mazes of this varying wood,

And soon, amid a cultured plain,

Girt in with fertile solitude,

We shall our resting-place descry,

Marked by one roof-tree, towering high

Above a farmstead rude.

Refreshed, erelong, with rustic fare,

We’ll seek a couch of dreamless ease;

Courage will guard thy heart from fear,

And Love give mine divinest peace:

To-morrow brings more dangerous toil,

And through its conflict and turmoil

We’ll pass, as God shall please.

[The preceding composition refers, doubtless, to the scenes acted in France during the last year of the Consulate.]

Frances.

She will not sleep, for fear of dreams,

But, rising, quits her restless bed,

And walks where some beclouded beams

Of moonlight through the hall are shed.

Obedient to the goad of grief,

Her steps, now fast, now lingering slow,

In varying motion seek relief

From the Eumenides of woe.

Wringing her hands, at intervals —

But long as mute as phantom dim —

She glides along the dusky walls,

Under the black oak rafters grim.

The close air of the grated tower

Stifles a heart that scarce can beat,

And, though so late and lone the hour,

Forth pass her wandering, faltering feet;

And on the pavement spread before

The long front of the mansion grey,

Her steps imprint the night-frost hoar,

Which pale on grass and granite lay.

Not long she stayed where misty moon

And shimmering stars could on her look,

But through the garden archway soon

Her strange and gloomy path she took.

Some firs, coeval with the tower,

Their straight black boughs stretched o’er her head;

Unseen, beneath this sable bower,

Rustled her dress and rapid tread.

There was an alcove in that shade,

Screening a rustic seat and stand;

Weary she sat her down, and laid

Her hot brow on her burning hand.

To solitude and to the night,

Some words she now, in murmurs, said;

And trickling through her fingers white,

Some tears of misery she shed.

“God help me in my grievous need,

God help me in my inward pain;

Which cannot ask for pity’s meed,

Which has no licence to complain,

“Which must be borne; yet who can bear,

Hours long, days long, a constant weight —

The yoke of absolute despair,

A suffering wholly desolate?

“Who can for ever crush the heart,

Restrain its throbbing, curb its life?

Dissemble truth with ceaseless art,

With outward calm mask inward strife?”

She waited — as for some reply;

The still and cloudy night gave none;

Ere long, with deep-drawn, trembling sigh,

Her heavy plaint again begun.

“Unloved — I love; unwept — I weep;

Grief I restrain — hope I repress:

Vain is this anguish — fixed and deep;

Vainer, desires and dreams of bliss.

“My love awakes no love again,

My tears collect, and fall unfelt;

My sorrow touches none with pain,

My humble hopes to nothing melt.

“For me the universe is dumb,

Stone-deaf, and blank, and wholly blind;

Life I must bound, existence sum

In the strait limits of one mind;

“That mind my own. Oh! narrow cell;

Dark — imageless — a living tomb!

There must I sleep, there wake and dwell

Content, with palsy, pain, and gloom.”

Again she paused; a moan of pain,

A stifled sob, alone was heard;

Long silence followed — then again

Her voice the stagnant midnight stirred.

“Must it be so? Is this my fate?

Can I nor struggle, nor contend?

And am I doomed for years to wait,

Watching death’s lingering axe descend?

“And when it falls, and when I die,

What follows? Vacant nothingness?

The blank of lost identity?

Erasure both of pain and bliss?

“I’ve heard of heaven — I would believe;

For if this earth indeed be all,

Who longest lives may deepest grieve;

Most blest, whom sorrows soonest call.

“Oh! leaving disappointment here,

Will man find hope on yonder coast?

Hope, which, on earth, shines never clear,

And oft in clouds is wholly lost.

“Will he hope’s source of light behold,

Fruition’s spring, where doubts expire,

And drink, in waves of living gold,

Contentment, full, for long desire?

“Will he find bliss, which here he dreamed?

Rest, which was weariness on earth?

Knowledge, which, if o’er life it beamed,

Served but to prove it void of worth?

“Will he find love without lust’s leaven,

Love fearless, tearless, perfect, pure,

To all with equal bounty given;

In all, unfeigned, unfailing, sure?

“Will he, from penal sufferings free,

Released from shroud and wormy clod,

All calm and glorious, rise and see

Creation’s Sire — Existence’ God?

“Then, glancing back on Time’s brief woes,

Will he behold them, fading, fly;

Swept from Eternity’s repose,

Like sullying cloud from pure blue sky?

“If so, endure, my weary frame;

And when thy anguish strikes too deep,

And when all troubled burns life’s flame,

Think of the quiet, final sleep;

“Think of the glorious waking-hour,

Which will not dawn on grief and tears,

But on a ransomed spirit’s power,

Certain, and free from mortal fears.

“Seek now thy couch, and lie till morn,

Then from thy chamber, calm, descend,

With mind nor tossed, nor anguish-torn,

But tranquil, fixed, to wait the end.

“And when thy opening eyes shall see

Mementos, on the chamber wall,

Of one who has forgotten thee,

Shed not the tear of acrid gall.

“The tear which, welling from the heart,

Burns where its drop corrosive falls,

And makes each nerve, in torture, start,

At feelings it too well recalls:

“When the sweet hope of being loved

Threw Eden sunshine on life’s way:

When every sense and feeling proved

Expectancy of brightest day.

“When the hand trembled to receive

A thrilling clasp, which seemed so near,

And the heart ventured to believe

Another heart esteemed it dear.

“When words, half love, all tenderness,

Were hourly heard, as hourly spoken,

When the long, sunny days of bliss

Only by moonlight nights were broken.

“Till, drop by drop, the cup of joy

Filled full, with purple light was glowing,

And Faith, which watched it, sparkling high

Still never dreamt the overflowing.

“It fell not with a sudden crashing,

It poured not out like open sluice;

No, sparkling still, and redly flashing,

Drained, drop by drop, the generous juice.

“I saw it sink, and strove to taste it,

My eager lips approached the brim;

The movement only seemed to waste it;

It sank to dregs, all harsh and dim.

“These I have drunk, and they for ever

Have poisoned life and love for me;

A draught from Sodom’s lake could never

More fiery, salt, and bitter, be.

“Oh! Love was all a thin illusion

Joy, but the desert’s flying stream;

And glancing back on long delusion,

My memory grasps a hollow dream.

“Yet whence that wondrous change of feeling,

I never knew, and cannot learn;

Nor why my lover’s eye, congealing,

Grew cold and clouded, proud and stern.

“Nor wherefore, friendship’s forms forgetting,

He careless left, and cool withdrew;

Nor spoke of grief, nor fond regretting,

Nor ev’n one glance of comfort threw.

“And neither word nor token sending,

Of kindness, since the parting day,

His course, for distant regions bending,

Went, self-contained and calm, away.

“Oh, bitter, blighting, keen sensation,

Which will not weaken, cannot die,

Hasten thy work of desolation,

And let my tortured spirit fly!

“Vain as the passing gale, my crying;

Though lightning-struck, I must live on;

I know, at heart, there is no dying

Of love, and ruined hope, alone.

“Still strong and young, and warm with vigour,

Though scathed, I long shall greenly grow;

And many a storm of wildest rigour

Shall yet break o’er my shivered bough.

“Rebellious now to blank inertion,

My unused strength demands a task;

Travel, and toil, and full exertion,

Are the last, only boon I ask.

“Whence, then, this vain and barren dreaming

Of death, and dubious life to come?

I see a nearer beacon gleaming

Over dejection’s sea of gloom.

“The very wildness of my sorrow

Tells me I yet have innate force;

My track of life has been too narrow,

Effort shall trace a broader course.

“The world is not in yonder tower,

Earth is not prisoned in that room,

‘Mid whose dark panels, hour by hour,

I’ve sat, the slave and prey of gloom.

“One feeling — turned to utter anguish,

Is not my being’s only aim;

When, lorn and loveless, life will languish,

But courage can revive the flame.

“He, when he left me, went a roving

To sunny climes, beyond the sea;

And I, the weight of woe removing,

Am free and fetterless as he.

“New scenes, new language, skies less clouded,

May once more wake the wish to live;

Strange, foreign towns, astir, and crowded,

New pictures to the mind may give.

“New forms and faces, passing ever,

May hide the one I still retain,

Defined, and fixed, and fading never,

Stamped deep on vision, heart, and brain.

“And we might meet — time may have changed him;

Chance may reveal the mystery,

The secret influence which estranged him;

Love may restore him yet to me.

“False thought — false hope — in scorn be banished!

I am not loved — nor loved have been;

Recall not, then, the dreams scarce vanished;

Traitors! mislead me not again!

“To words like yours I bid defiance,

’Tis such my mental wreck have made;

Of God alone, and self-reliance,

I ask for solace — hope for aid.

“Morn comes — and ere meridian glory

O’er these, my natal woods, shall smile,

Both lonely wood and mansion hoary

I’ll leave behind, full many a mile.”

Gilbert.

I. The Garden.

Above the city hung the moon,

Right o’er a plot of ground

Where flowers and orchard-trees were fenced

With lofty walls around:

’Twas Gilbert’s garden — there to-night

Awhile he walked alone;

And, tired with sedentary toil,

Mused where the moonlight shone.

This garden, in a city-heart,

Lay still as houseless wild,

Though many-windowed mansion fronts

Were round it; closely piled;

But thick their walls, and those within

Lived lives by noise unstirred;

Like wafting of an angel’s wing,

Time’s flight by them was heard.

Some soft piano-notes alone

Were sweet as faintly given,

Where ladies, doubtless, cheered the hearth

With song that winter-even.

The city’s many-mingled sounds

Rose like the hum of ocean;

They rather lulled the heart than roused

Its pulse to faster motion.

Gilbert has paced the single walk

An hour, yet is not weary;

And, though it be a winter night

He feels nor cold nor dreary.

The prime of life is in his veins,

And sends his blood fast flowing,

And Fancy’s fervour warms the thoughts

Now in his bosom glowing.

Those thoughts recur to early love,

Or what he love would name,

Though haply Gilbert’s secret deeds

Might other title claim.

Such theme not oft his mind absorbs,

He to the world clings fast,

And too much for the present lives,

To linger o’er the past.

But now the evening’s deep repose

Has glided to his soul;

That moonlight falls on Memory,

And shows her fading scroll.

One name appears in every line

The gentle rays shine o’er,

And still he smiles and still repeats

That one name — Elinor.

There is no sorrow in his smile,

No kindness in his tone;

The triumph of a selfish heart

Speaks coldly there alone;

He says: “She loved me more than life;

And truly it was sweet

To see so fair a woman kneel,

In bondage, at my feet.

“There was a sort of quiet bliss

To be so deeply loved,

To gaze on trembling eagerness

And sit myself unmoved.

And when it pleased my pride to grant

At last some rare caress,

To feel the fever of that hand

My fingers deigned to press.

“’Twas sweet to see her strive to hide

What every glance revealed;

Endowed, the while, with despot-might

Her destiny to wield.

I knew myself no perfect man,

Nor, as she deemed, divine;

I knew that I was glorious — but

By her reflected shine;

“Her youth, her native energy,

Her powers new-born and fresh,

’Twas these with Godhead sanctified

My sensual frame of flesh.

Yet, like a god did I descend

At last, to meet her love;

And, like a god, I then withdrew

To my own heaven above.

“And never more could she invoke

My presence to her sphere;

No prayer, no plaint, no cry of hers

Could win my awful ear.

I knew her blinded constancy

Would ne’er my deeds betray,

And, calm in conscience, whole in heart.

I went my tranquil way.

“Yet, sometimes, I still feel a wish,

The fond and flattering pain

Of passion’s anguish to create

In her young breast again.

Bright was the lustre of her eyes,

When they caught fire from mine;

If I had power — this very hour,

Again I’d light their shine.

“But where she is, or how she lives,

I have no clue to know;

I’ve heard she long my absence pined,

And left her home in woe.

But busied, then, in gathering gold,

As I am busied now,

I could not turn from such pursuit,

To weep a broken vow.

“Nor could I give to fatal risk

The fame I ever prized;

Even now, I fear, that precious fame

Is too much compromised.”

An inward trouble dims his eye,

Some riddle he would solve;

Some method to unloose a knot,

His anxious thoughts revolve.

He, pensive, leans against a tree,

A leafy evergreen,

The boughs, the moonlight, intercept,

And hide him like a screen

He starts — the tree shakes with his tremor,

Yet nothing near him pass’d;

He hurries up the garden alley,

In strangely sudden haste.

With shaking hand, he lifts the latchet,

Steps o’er the threshold stone;

The heavy door slips from his fingers —

It shuts, and he is gone.

What touched, transfixed, appalled, his soul? —

A nervous thought, no more;

’Twill sink like stone in placid pool,

And calm close smoothly o’er.

II. The Parlour.

Warm is the parlour atmosphere,

Serene the lamp’s soft light;

The vivid embers, red and clear,

Proclaim a frosty night.

Books, varied, on the table lie,

Three children o’er them bend,

And all, with curious, eager eye,

The turning leaf attend.

Picture and tale alternately

Their simple hearts delight,

And interest deep, and tempered glee,

Illume their aspects bright.

The parents, from their fireside place,

Behold that pleasant scene,

And joy is on the mother’s face,

Pride in the father’s mien.

As Gilbert sees his blooming wife,

Beholds his children fair,

No thought has he of transient strife,

Or past, though piercing fear.

The voice of happy infancy

Lisps sweetly in his ear,

His wife, with pleased and peaceful eye,

Sits, kindly smiling, near.

The fire glows on her silken dress,

And shows its ample grace,

And warmly tints each hazel tress,

Curled soft around her face.

The beauty that in youth he wooed,

Is beauty still, unfaded;

The brow of ever placid mood

No churlish grief has shaded.

Prosperity, in Gilbert’s home,

Abides the guest of years;

There Want or Discord never come,

And seldom Toil or Tears.

The carpets bear the peaceful print

Of comfort’s velvet tread,

And golden gleams, from plenty sent,

In every nook are shed.

The very silken spaniel seems

Of quiet ease to tell,

As near its mistress’ feet it dreams,

Sunk in a cushion’s swell

And smiles seem native to the eyes

Of those sweet children, three;

They have but looked on tranquil skies,

And know not misery.

Alas! that Misery should come

In such an hour as this;

Why could she not so calm a home

A little longer miss?

But she is now within the door,

Her steps advancing glide;

Her sullen shade has crossed the floor,

She stands at Gilbert’s side.

She lays her hand upon his heart,

It bounds with agony;

His fireside chair shakes with the start

That shook the garden tree.

His wife towards the children looks,

She does not mark his mien;

The children, bending o’er their books,

His terror have not seen.

In his own home, by his own hearth,

He sits in solitude,

And circled round with light and mirth,

Cold horror chills his blood.

His mind would hold with desperate clutch

The scene that round him lies;

No — changed, as by some wizard’s touch,

The present prospect flies.

A tumult vague — a viewless strife

His futile struggles crush;

‘Twixt him and his an unknown life

And unknown feelings rush.

He sees — but scarce can language paint

The tissue fancy weaves;

For words oft give but echo faint

Of thoughts the mind conceives.

Noise, tumult strange, and darkness dim,

Efface both light and quiet;

No shape is in those shadows grim,

No voice in that wild riot.

Sustain’d and strong, a wondrous blast

Above and round him blows;

A greenish gloom, dense overcast,

Each moment denser grows.

He nothing knows — nor clearly sees,

Resistance checks his breath,

The high, impetuous, ceaseless breeze

Blows on him cold as death.

And still the undulating gloom

Mocks sight with formless motion:

Was such sensation Jonah’s doom,

Gulphed in the depths of ocean?

Streaking the air, the nameless vision,

Fast-driven, deep-sounding, flows;

Oh! whence its source, and what its mission?

How will its terrors close?

Long-sweeping, rushing, vast and void,

The universe it swallows;

And still the dark, devouring tide

A typhoon tempest follows.

More slow it rolls; its furious race

Sinks to its solemn gliding;

The stunning roar, the wind’s wild chase,

To stillness are subsiding.

And, slowly borne along, a form

The shapeless chaos varies;

Poised in the eddy to the storm,

Before the eye it tarries.

A woman drowned — sunk in the deep,

On a long wave reclining;

The circling waters’ crystal sweep,

Like glass, her shape enshrining.

Her pale dead face, to Gilbert turned,

Seems as in sleep reposing;

A feeble light, now first discerned,

The features well disclosing.

No effort from the haunted air

The ghastly scene could banish,

That hovering wave, arrested there,

Rolled — throbbed — but did not vanish.

If Gilbert upward turned his gaze,

He saw the ocean-shadow;

If he looked down, the endless seas

Lay green as summer meadow.

And straight before, the pale corpse lay,

Upborne by air or billow,

So near, he could have touched the spray

That churned around its pillow.

The hollow anguish of the face

Had moved a fiend to sorrow;

Not death’s fixed calm could rase the trace

Of suffering’s deep-worn furrow.

All moved; a strong returning blast,

The mass of waters raising,

Bore wave and passive carcase past,

While Gilbert yet was gazing.

Deep in her isle-conceiving womb,

It seemed the ocean thundered,

And soon, by realms of rushing gloom,

Were seer and phantom sundered.

Then swept some timbers from a wreck.

On following surges riding;

Then sea-weed, in the turbid rack

Uptorn, went slowly gliding.

The horrid shade, by slow degrees,

A beam of light defeated,

And then the roar of raving seas,

Fast, far, and faint, retreated.

And all was gone — gone like a mist,

Corse, billows, tempest, wreck;

Three children close to Gilbert prest

And clung around his neck.

Good night! good night! the prattlers said,

And kissed their father’s cheek;

’Twas now the hour their quiet bed

And placid rest to seek.

The mother with her offspring goes

To hear their evening prayer;

She nought of Gilbert’s vision knows,

And nought of his despair.

Yet, pitying God, abridge the time

Of anguish, now his fate!

Though, haply, great has been his crime:

Thy mercy, too, is great.

Gilbert, at length, uplifts his head,

Bent for some moments low,

And there is neither grief nor dread

Upon his subtle brow.

For well can he his feelings task,

And well his looks command;

His features well his heart can mask,

With smiles and smoothness bland.

Gilbert has reasoned with his mind —

He says ’twas all a dream;

He strives his inward sight to blind

Against truth’s inward beam.

He pitied not that shadowy thing,

When it was flesh and blood;

Nor now can pity’s balmy spring

Refresh his arid mood.

“And if that dream has spoken truth,”

Thus musingly he says;

“If Elinor be dead, in sooth,

Such chance the shock repays:

A net was woven round my feet,

I scarce could further go;

Ere shame had forced a fast retreat,

Dishonour brought me low.

“Conceal her, then, deep, silent sea,

Give her a secret grave!

She sleeps in peace, and I am free,

No longer terror’s slave:

And homage still, from all the world,

Shall greet my spotless name,

Since surges break and waves are curled

Above its threatened shame.”

III. The Welcome Home.

Above the city hangs the moon,

Some clouds are boding rain;

Gilbert, erewhile on journey gone,

To-night comes home again.

Ten years have passed above his head,

Each year has brought him gain;

His prosperous life has smoothly sped,

Without or tear or stain.

’Tis somewhat late — the city clocks

Twelve deep vibrations toll,

As Gilbert at the portal knocks,

Which is his journey’s goal.

The street is still and desolate,

The moon hid by a cloud;

Gilbert, impatient, will not wait —

His second knock peals loud.

The clocks are hushed — there’s not a light

In any window nigh,

And not a single planet bright

Looks from the clouded sky;

The air is raw, the rain descends,

A bitter north-wind blows;

His cloak the traveller scarce defends —

Will not the door unclose?

He knocks the third time, and the last

His summons now they hear,

Within, a footstep, hurrying fast,

Is heard approaching near.

The bolt is drawn, the clanking chain

Falls to the floor of stone;

And Gilbert to his heart will strain

His wife and children soon.

The hand that lifts the latchet, holds

A candle to his sight,

And Gilbert, on the step, beholds

A woman, clad in white.

Lo! water from her dripping dress

Runs on the streaming floor;

From every dark and clinging tress

The drops incessant pour.

There’s none but her to welcome him;

She holds the candle high,

And, motionless in form and limb,

Stands cold and silent nigh;

There’s sand and sea-weed on her robe,

Her hollow eyes are blind;

No pulse in such a frame can throb,

No life is there defined.

Gilbert turned ashy-white, but still

His lips vouchsafed no cry;

He spurred his strength and master-will

To pass the figure by —

But, moving slow, it faced him straight,

It would not flinch nor quail:

Then first did Gilbert’s strength abate,

His stony firmness quail.

He sank upon his knees and prayed

The shape stood rigid there;

He called aloud for human aid,

No human aid was near.

An accent strange did thus repeat

Heaven’s stern but just decree:

“The measure thou to her didst mete,

To thee shall measured be!”

Gilbert sprang from his bended knees,

By the pale spectre pushed,

And, wild as one whom demons seize,

Up the hall-staircase rushed;

Entered his chamber — near the bed

Sheathed steel and fire-arms hung —

Impelled by maniac purpose dread

He chose those stores among.

Across his throat a keen-edged knife

With vigorous hand he drew;

The wound was wide — his outraged life

Rushed rash and redly through.

And thus died, by a shameful death,

A wise and worldly man,

Who never drew but selfish breath

Since first his life began.

Life.

Life, believe, is not a dream

So dark as sages say;

Oft a little morning rain

Foretells a pleasant day.

Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,

But these are transient all;

If the shower will make the roses bloom,

O why lament its fall?

Rapidly, merrily,

Life’s sunny hours flit by,

Gratefully, cheerily

Enjoy them as they fly!

What though Death at times steps in,

And calls our Best away?

What though sorrow seems to win,

O’er hope, a heavy sway?

Yet Hope again elastic springs,

Unconquered, though she fell;

Still buoyant are her golden wings,

Still strong to bear us well.

Manfully, fearlessly,

The day of trial bear,

For gloriously, victoriously,

Can courage quell despair!

The Letter.

What is she writing? Watch her now,

How fast her fingers move!

How eagerly her youthful brow

Is bent in thought above!

Her long curls, drooping, shade the light,

She puts them quick aside,

Nor knows that band of crystals bright,

Her hasty touch untied.

It slips adown her silken dress,

Falls glittering at her feet;

Unmarked it falls, for she no less

Pursues her labour sweet.

The very loveliest hour that shines,

Is in that deep blue sky;

The golden sun of June declines,

It has not caught her eye.

The cheerful lawn, and unclosed gate,

The white road, far away,

In vain for her light footsteps wait,

She comes not forth today.

There is an open door of glass

Close by that lady’s chair,

From thence, to slopes of messy grass,

Descends a marble stair.

Tall plants of bright and spicy bloom

Around the threshold grow;

Their leaves and blossoms shade the room

From that sun’s deepening glow.

Why does she not a moment glance

Between the clustering flowers,

And mark in heaven the radiant dance

Of evening’s rosy hours?

O look again! Still fixed her eye,

Unsmiling, earnest, still,

And fast her pen and fingers fly,

Urged by her eager will.

Her soul is in th’absorbing task;

To whom, then, doth she write?

Nay, watch her still more closely, ask

Her own eyes’ serious light;

Where do they turn, as now her pen

Hangs o’er th’unfinished line?

Whence fell the tearful gleam that then

Did in their dark spheres shine?

The summer-parlour looks so dark,

When from that sky you turn,

And from th’expanse of that green park,

You scarce may aught discern.

Yet, o’er the piles of porcelain rare,

O’er flower-stand, couch, and vase,

Sloped, as if leaning on the air,

One picture meets the gaze.

’Tis there she turns; you may not see

Distinct, what form defines

The clouded mass of mystery

Yon broad gold frame confines.

But look again; inured to shade

Your eyes now faintly trace

A stalwart form, a massive head,

A firm, determined face.

Black Spanish locks, a sunburnt cheek

A brow high, broad, and white,

Where every furrow seems to speak

Of mind and moral might.

Is that her god? I cannot tell;

Her eye a moment met

Th’impending picture, then it fell

Darkened and dimmed and wet.

A moment more, her task is done,

And sealed the letter lies;

And now, towards the setting sun

She turns her tearful eyes.

Those tears flow over, wonder not,

For by the inscription see

In what a strange and distant spot

Her heart of hearts must be!

Three seas and many a league of land

That letter must pass o’er,

Ere read by him to whose loved hand

’Tis sent from England’s shore.

Remote colonial wilds detain

Her husband, loved though stern;

She, ‘mid that smiling English scene,

Weeps for his wished return.

Regret.

Long ago I wished to leave

“The house where I was born;”

Long ago I used to grieve,

My home seemed so forlorn.

In other years, its silent rooms

Were filled with haunting fears;

Now, their very memory comes

O’ercharged with tender tears.

Life and marriage I have known.

Things once deemed so bright;

Now, how utterly is flown

Every ray of light!

‘Mid the unknown sea, of life

I no blest isle have found;

At last, through all its wild wave’s strife,

My bark is homeward bound.

Farewell, dark and rolling deep!

Farewell, foreign shore!

Open, in unclouded sweep,

Thou glorious realm before!

Yet, though I had safely pass’d

That weary, vexed main,

One loved voice, through surge and blast

Could call me back again.

Though the soul’s bright morning rose

O’er Paradise for me,

William! even from Heaven’s repose

I’d turn, invoked by thee!

Storm nor surge should e’er arrest

My soul, exalting then:

All my heaven was once thy breast,

Would it were mine again!

Presentiment.

“Sister, you’ve sat there all the day,

Come to the hearth awhile;

The wind so wildly sweeps away,

The clouds so darkly pile.

That open book has lain, unread,

For hours upon your knee;

You’ve never smiled nor turned your head;

What can you, sister, see?”

“Come hither, Jane, look down the field;

How dense a mist creeps on!

The path, the hedge, are both concealed,

Ev’n the white gate is gone

No landscape through the fog I trace,

No hill with pastures green;

All featureless is Nature’s face.

All masked in clouds her mien.

“Scarce is the rustle of a leaf

Heard in our garden now;

The year grows old, its days wax brief,

The tresses leave its brow.

The rain drives fast before the wind,

The sky is blank and grey;

O Jane, what sadness fills the mind

On such a dreary day!”

“You think too much, my sister dear;

You sit too long alone;

What though November days be drear?

Full soon will they be gone.

I’ve swept the hearth, and placed your chair.

Come, Emma, sit by me;

Our own fireside is never drear,

Though late and wintry wane the year,

Though rough the night may be.”

“The peaceful glow of our fireside

Imparts no peace to me:

My thoughts would rather wander wide

Than rest, dear Jane, with thee.

I’m on a distant journey bound,

And if, about my heart,

Too closely kindred ties were bound,

‘Twould break when forced to part.

“‘Soon will November days be o’er:’

Well have you spoken, Jane:

My own forebodings tell me more —

For me, I know by presage sure,

They’ll ne’er return again.

Ere long, nor sun nor storm to me

Will bring or joy or gloom;

They reach not that Eternity

Which soon will be my home.”

Eight months are gone, the summer sun

Sets in a glorious sky;

A quiet field, all green and lone,

Receives its rosy dye.

Jane sits upon a shaded stile,

Alone she sits there now;

Her head rests on her hand the while,

And thought o’ercasts her brow.

She’s thinking of one winter’s day,

A few short months ago,

Then Emma’s bier was borne away

O’er wastes of frozen snow.

She’s thinking how that drifted snow

Dissolved in spring’s first gleam,

And how her sister’s memory now

Fades, even as fades a dream.

The snow will whiten earth again,

But Emma comes no more;

She left, ‘mid winter’s sleet and rain,

This world for Heaven’s far shore.

On Beulah’s hills she wanders now,

On Eden’s tranquil plain;

To her shall Jane hereafter go,

She ne’er shall come to Jane!

The Teacher’s Monologue.

The room is quiet, thoughts alone

People its mute tranquillity;

The yoke put off, the long task done —

I am, as it is bliss to be,

Still and untroubled. Now, I see,

For the first time, how soft the day

O’er waveless water, stirless tree,

Silent and sunny, wings its way.

Now, as I watch that distant hill,

So faint, so blue, so far removed,

Sweet dreams of home my heart may fill,

That home where I am known and loved:

It lies beyond; yon azure brow

Parts me from all Earth holds for me;

And, morn and eve, my yearnings flow

Thitherward tending, changelessly.

My happiest hours, aye! all the time,

I love to keep in memory,

Lapsed among moors, ere life’s first prime

Decayed to dark anxiety.

Sometimes, I think a narrow heart

Makes me thus mourn those far away,

And keeps my love so far apart

From friends and friendships of today;

Sometimes, I think ’tis but a dream

I treasure up so jealously,

All the sweet thoughts I live on seem

To vanish into vacancy:

And then, this strange, coarse world around

Seems all that’s palpable and true;

And every sight, and every sound,

Combines my spirit to subdue

To aching grief, so void and lone

Is Life and Earth — so worse than vain,

The hopes that, in my own heart sown,

And cherished by such sun and rain

As Joy and transient Sorrow shed,

Have ripened to a harvest there:

Alas! methinks I hear it said,

“Thy golden sheaves are empty air.”

All fades away; my very home

I think will soon be desolate;

I hear, at times, a warning come

Of bitter partings at its gate;

And, if I should return and see

The hearth-fire quenched, the vacant chair;

And hear it whispered mournfully,

That farewells have been spoken there,

What shall I do, and whither turn?

Where look for peace? When cease to mourn?

’Tis not the air I wished to play,

The strain I wished to sing;

My wilful spirit slipped away

And struck another string.

I neither wanted smile nor tear,

Bright joy nor bitter woe,

But just a song that sweet and clear,

Though haply sad, might flow.

A quiet song, to solace me

When sleep refused to come;

A strain to chase despondency,

When sorrowful for home.

In vain I try; I cannot sing;

All feels so cold and dead;

No wild distress, no gushing spring

Of tears in anguish shed;

But all the impatient gloom of one

Who waits a distant day,

When, some great task of suffering done,

Repose shall toil repay.

For youth departs, and pleasure flies,

And life consumes away,

And youth’s rejoicing ardour dies

Beneath this drear delay;

And Patience, weary with her yoke,

Is yielding to despair,

And Health’s elastic spring is broke

Beneath the strain of care.

Life will be gone ere I have lived;

Where now is Life’s first prime?

I’ve worked and studied, longed and grieved,

Through all that rosy time.

To toil, to think, to long, to grieve —

Is such my future fate?

The morn was dreary, must the eve

Be also desolate?

Well, such a life at least makes Death

A welcome, wished-for friend;

Then, aid me, Reason, Patience, Faith,

To suffer to the end!

Passion.

Some have won a wild delight,

By daring wilder sorrow;

Could I gain thy love to-night,

I’d hazard death tomorrow.

Could the battle-struggle earn

One kind glance from thine eye,

How this withering heart would burn,

The heady fight to try!

Welcome nights of broken sleep,

And days of carnage cold,

Could I deem that thou wouldst weep

To hear my perils told.

Tell me, if with wandering bands

I roam full far away,

Wilt thou to those distant lands

In spirit ever stray?

Wild, long, a trumpet sounds afar;

Bid me — bid me go

Where Seik and Briton meet in war,

On Indian Sutlej’s flow.

Blood has dyed the Sutlej’s waves

With scarlet stain, I know;

Indus’ borders yawn with graves,

Yet, command me go!

Though rank and high the holocaust

Of nations steams to heaven,

Glad I’d join the death-doomed host,

Were but the mandate given.

Passion’s strength should nerve my arm,

Its ardour stir my life,

Till human force to that dread charm

Should yield and sink in wild alarm,

Like trees to tempest-strife.

If, hot from war, I seek thy love,

Darest thou turn aside?

Darest thou then my fire reprove,

By scorn, and maddening pride?

No — my will shall yet control

Thy will, so high and free,

And love shall tame that haughty soul —

 Yes — tenderest love for me.

I’ll read my triumph in thine eyes,

Behold, and prove the change;

Then leave, perchance, my noble prize,

Once more in arms to range.

I’d die when all the foam is up,

The bright wine sparkling high;

Nor wait till in the exhausted cup

Life’s dull dregs only lie.

Then Love thus crowned with sweet reward,

Hope blest with fulness large,

I’d mount the saddle, draw the sword,

And perish in the charge!

Preference.

Not in scorn do I reprove thee,

Not in pride thy vows I waive,

But, believe, I could not love thee,

Wert thou prince, and I a slave.

These, then, are thine oaths of passion?

This, thy tenderness for me?

Judged, even, by thine own confession,

Thou art steeped in perfidy.

Having vanquished, thou wouldst leave me!

Thus I read thee long ago;

Therefore, dared I not deceive thee,

Even with friendship’s gentle show.

Therefore, with impassive coldness

Have I ever met thy gaze;

Though, full oft, with daring boldness,

Thou thine eyes to mine didst raise.

Why that smile? Thou now art deeming

This my coldness all untrue —

But a mask of frozen seeming,

Hiding secret fires from view.

Touch my hand, thou self-deceiver;

Nay-be calm, for I am so:

Does it burn? Does my lip quiver?

Has mine eye a troubled glow?

Canst thou call a moment’s colour

To my forehead — to my cheek?

Canst thou tinge their tranquil pallor

With one flattering, feverish streak?

Am I marble? What! no woman

Could so calm before thee stand?

Nothing living, sentient, human,

Could so coldly take thy hand?

Yes — a sister might, a mother:

My good-will is sisterly:

Dream not, then, I strive to smother

Fires that inly burn for thee.

Rave not, rage not, wrath is fruitless,

Fury cannot change my mind;

I but deem the feeling rootless

Which so whirls in passion’s wind.

Can I love? Oh, deeply — truly —

Warmly — fondly — but not thee;

And my love is answered duly,

With an equal energy.

Wouldst thou see thy rival? Hasten,

Draw that curtain soft aside,

Look where yon thick branches chasten

Noon, with shades of eventide.

In that glade, where foliage blending

Forms a green arch overhead,

Sits thy rival, thoughtful bending

O’er a stand with papers spread —

Motionless, his fingers plying

That untired, unresting pen;

Time and tide unnoticed flying,

There he sits — the first of men!

Man of conscience — man of reason;

Stern, perchance, but ever just;

Foe to falsehood, wrong, and treason,

Honour’s shield, and virtue’s trust!

Worker, thinker, firm defender

Of Heaven’s truth — man’s liberty;

Soul of iron — proof to slander,

Rock where founders tyranny.

Fame he seeks not — but full surely

She will seek him, in his home;

This I know, and wait securely

For the atoning hour to come.

To that man my faith is given,

Therefore, soldier, cease to sue;

While God reigns in earth and heaven,

I to him will still be true!

Evening Solace.

The human heart has hidden treasures,

In secret kept, in silence sealed; —

The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,

Whose charms were broken if revealed.

And days may pass in gay confusion,

And nights in rosy riot fly,

While, lost in Fame’s or Wealth’s illusion,

The memory of the Past may die.

But there are hours of lonely musing,

Such as in evening silence come,

When, soft as birds their pinions closing,

The heart’s best feelings gather home.

Then in our souls there seems to languish

A tender grief that is not woe;

And thoughts that once wrung groans of anguish

Now cause but some mild tears to flow.

And feelings, once as strong as passions,

Float softly back — a faded dream;

Our own sharp griefs and wild sensations,

The tale of others’ sufferings seem.

Oh! when the heart is freshly bleeding,

How longs it for that time to be,

When, through the mist of years receding,

Its woes but live in reverie!

And it can dwell on moonlight glimmer,

On evening shade and loneliness;

And, while the sky grows dim and dimmer,

Feel no untold and strange distress —

Only a deeper impulse given

By lonely hour and darkened room,

To solemn thoughts that soar to heaven

Seeking a life and world to come.

Stanzas.

If thou be in a lonely place,

If one hour’s calm be thine,

As Evening bends her placid face

O’er this sweet day’s decline;

If all the earth and all the heaven

Now look serene to thee,

As o’er them shuts the summer even,

One moment — think of me!

Pause, in the lane, returning home;

’Tis dusk, it will be still:

Pause near the elm, a sacred gloom

Its breezeless boughs will fill.

Look at that soft and golden light,

High in the unclouded sky;

Watch the last bird’s belated flight,

As it flits silent by.

Hark! for a sound upon the wind,

A step, a voice, a sigh;

If all be still, then yield thy mind,

Unchecked, to memory.

If thy love were like mine, how blest

That twilight hour would seem,

When, back from the regretted Past,

Returned our early dream!

If thy love were like mine, how wild

Thy longings, even to pain,

For sunset soft, and moonlight mild,

To bring that hour again!

But oft, when in thine arms I lay,

I’ve seen thy dark eyes shine,

And deeply felt their changeful ray

Spoke other love than mine.

My love is almost anguish now,

It beats so strong and true;

’Twere rapture, could I deem that thou

Such anguish ever knew.

I have been but thy transient flower,

Thou wert my god divine;

Till checked by death’s congealing power,

This heart must throb for thine.

And well my dying hour were blest,

If life’s expiring breath

Should pass, as thy lips gently prest

My forehead cold in death;

And sound my sleep would be, and sweet,

Beneath the churchyard tree,

If sometimes in thy heart should beat

One pulse, still true to me.

Parting.

There’s no use in weeping,

Though we are condemned to part:

There’s such a thing as keeping

A remembrance in one’s heart:

There’s such a thing as dwelling

On the thought ourselves have nursed,

And with scorn and courage telling

The world to do its worst.

We’ll not let its follies grieve us,

We’ll just take them as they come;

And then every day will leave us

A merry laugh for home.

When we’ve left each friend and brother,

When we’re parted wide and far,

We will think of one another,

As even better than we are.

Every glorious sight above us,

Every pleasant sight beneath,

We’ll connect with those that love us,

Whom we truly love till death!

In the evening, when we’re sitting

By the fire, perchance alone,

Then shall heart with warm heart meeting,

Give responsive tone for tone.

We can burst the bonds which chain us,

Which cold human hands have wrought,

And where none shall dare restrain us

We can meet again, in thought.

So there’s no use in weeping,

Bear a cheerful spirit still;

Never doubt that Fate is keeping

Future good for present ill!

Apostasy.

This last denial of my faith,

Thou, solemn Priest, hast heard;

And, though upon my bed of death,

I call not back a word.

Point not to thy Madonna, Priest —

Thy sightless saint of stone;

She cannot, from this burning breast,

Wring one repentant moan.

Thou say’st, that when a sinless child,

I duly bent the knee,

And prayed to what in marble smiled

Cold, lifeless, mute, on me.

I did. But listen! Children spring

Full soon to riper youth;

And, for Love’s vow and Wedlock’s ring,

I sold my early truth.

’Twas not a grey, bare head, like thine,

Bent o’er me, when I said,

“That land and God and Faith are mine,

For which thy fathers bled.”

I see thee not, my eyes are dim;

But well I hear thee say,

“O daughter cease to think of him

Who led thy soul astray.

“Between you lies both space and time;

Let leagues and years prevail

To turn thee from the path of crime,

Back to the Church’s pale.”

And, did I need that, thou shouldst tell

What mighty barriers rise

To part me from that dungeon-cell,

Where my loved Walter lies?

And, did I need that thou shouldst taunt

My dying hour at last,

By bidding this worn spirit pant

No more for what is past?

Priest — MUST I cease to think of him?

How hollow rings that word!

Can time, can tears, can distance dim

The memory of my lord?

I said before, I saw not thee,

Because, an hour agone,

Over my eyeballs, heavily,

The lids fell down like stone.

But still my spirit’s inward sight

Beholds his image beam

As fixed, as clear, as burning bright,

As some red planet’s gleam.

Talk not of thy Last Sacrament,

Tell not thy beads for me;

Both rite and prayer are vainly spent,

As dews upon the sea.

Speak not one word of Heaven above,

Rave not of Hell’s alarms;

Give me but back my Walter’s love,

Restore me to his arms!

Then will the bliss of Heaven be won;

Then will Hell shrink away,

As I have seen night’s terrors shun

The conquering steps of day.

’Tis my religion thus to love,

My creed thus fixed to be;

Not Death shall shake, nor Priestcraft break

My rock-like constancy!

Now go; for at the door there waits

Another stranger guest;

He calls — I come — my pulse scarce beats,

My heart fails in my breast.

Again that voice — how far away,

How dreary sounds that tone!

And I, methinks, am gone astray

In trackless wastes and lone.

I fain would rest a little while:

Where can I find a stay,

Till dawn upon the hills shall smile,

And show some trodden way?

“I come! I come!” in haste she said,

“’Twas Walter’s voice I heard!”

Then up she sprang — but fell back, dead,

His name her latest word.

Winter Stores.

We take from life one little share,

And say that this shall be

A space, redeemed from toil and care,

From tears and sadness free.

And, haply, Death unstrings his bow,

And Sorrow stands apart,

And, for a little while, we know

The sunshine of the heart.

Existence seems a summer eve,

Warm, soft, and full of peace,

Our free, unfettered feelings give

The soul its full release.

A moment, then, it takes the power

To call up thoughts that throw

Around that charmed and hallowed hour,

This life’s divinest glow.

But Time, though viewlessly it flies,

And slowly, will not stay;

Alike, through clear and clouded skies,

It cleaves its silent way.

Alike the bitter cup of grief,

Alike the draught of bliss,

Its progress leaves but moment brief

For baffled lips to kiss

The sparkling draught is dried away,

The hour of rest is gone,

And urgent voices, round us, say,

“Ho, lingerer, hasten on!”

And has the soul, then, only gained,

From this brief time of ease,

A moment’s rest, when overstrained,

One hurried glimpse of peace?

No; while the sun shone kindly o’er us,

And flowers bloomed round our feet —

While many a bud of joy before us

Unclosed its petals sweet —

An unseen work within was plying;

Like honey-seeking bee,

From flower to flower, unwearied, flying,

Laboured one faculty —

Thoughtful for Winter’s future sorrow,

Its gloom and scarcity;

Prescient today, of want tomorrow,

Toiled quiet Memory.

’Tis she that from each transient pleasure

Extracts a lasting good;

’Tis she that finds, in summer, treasure

To serve for winter’s food.

And when Youth’s summer day is vanished,

And Age brings Winter’s stress,

Her stores, with hoarded sweets replenished,

Life’s evening hours will bless.

The Missionary.

Plough, vessel, plough the British main,

Seek the free ocean’s wider plain;

Leave English scenes and English skies,

Unbind, dissever English ties;

Bear me to climes remote and strange,

Where altered life, fast-following change,

Hot action, never-ceasing toil,

Shall stir, turn, dig, the spirit’s soil;

Fresh roots shall plant, fresh seed shall sow,

Till a new garden there shall grow,

Cleared of the weeds that fill it now —

Mere human love, mere selfish yearning,

Which, cherished, would arrest me yet.

I grasp the plough, there’s no returning,

Let me, then, struggle to forget.

But England’s shores are yet in view,

And England’s skies of tender blue

Are arched above her guardian sea.

I cannot yet Remembrance flee;

I must again, then, firmly face

That task of anguish, to retrace.

Wedded to home — I home forsake;

Fearful of change — I changes make;

Too fond of ease — I plunge in toil;

Lover of calm — I seek turmoil:

Nature and hostile Destiny

Stir in my heart a conflict wild;

And long and fierce the war will be

Ere duty both has reconciled.

What other tie yet holds me fast

To the divorced, abandoned past?

Smouldering, on my heart’s altar lies

The fire of some great sacrifice,

Not yet half quenched. The sacred steel

But lately struck my carnal will,

My life-long hope, first joy and last,

What I loved well, and clung to fast;

What I wished wildly to retain,

What I renounced with soul-felt pain;

What — when I saw it, axe-struck, perish —

Left me no joy on earth to cherish;

A man bereft — yet sternly now

I do confirm that Jephtha vow:

Shall I retract, or fear, or flee?

Did Christ, when rose the fatal tree

Before him, on Mount Calvary?

’Twas a long fight, hard fought, but won,

And what I did was justly done.

Yet, Helen! from thy love I turned,

When my heart most for thy heart burned;

I dared thy tears, I dared thy scorn —

Easier the death-pang had been borne.

Helen, thou mightst not go with me,

I could not — dared not stay for thee!

I heard, afar, in bonds complain

The savage from beyond the main;

And that wild sound rose o’er the cry

Wrung out by passion’s agony;

And even when, with the bitterest tear

I ever shed, mine eyes were dim,

Still, with the spirit’s vision clear,

I saw Hell’s empire, vast and grim,

Spread on each Indian river’s shore,

Each realm of Asia covering o’er.

There, the weak, trampled by the strong,

Live but to suffer — hopeless die;

There pagan-priests, whose creed is Wrong,

Extortion, Lust, and Cruelty,

Crush our lost race — and brimming fill

The bitter cup of human ill;

And I— who have the healing creed,

The faith benign of Mary’s Son,

Shall I behold my brother’s need,

And, selfishly, to aid him shun?

I— who upon my mother’s knees,

In childhood, read Christ’s written word,

Received his legacy of peace,

His holy rule of action heard;

I— in whose heart the sacred sense

Of Jesus’ love was early felt;

Of his pure, full benevolence,

His pitying tenderness for guilt;

His shepherd-care for wandering sheep,

For all weak, sorrowing, trembling things,

His mercy vast, his passion deep

Of anguish for man’s sufferings;

I— schooled from childhood in such lore —

Dared I draw back or hesitate,

When called to heal the sickness sore

Of those far off and desolate?

Dark, in the realm and shades of Death,

Nations, and tribes, and empires lie,

But even to them the light of Faith

Is breaking on their sombre sky:

And be it mine to bid them raise

Their drooped heads to the kindling scene,

And know and hail the sunrise blaze

Which heralds Christ the Nazarene.

I know how Hell the veil will spread

Over their brows and filmy eyes,

And earthward crush the lifted head

That would look up and seek the skies;

I know what war the fiend will wage

Against that soldier of the Cross,

Who comes to dare his demon rage,

And work his kingdom shame and loss.

Yes, hard and terrible the toil

Of him who steps on foreign soil,

Resolved to plant the gospel vine,

Where tyrants rule and slaves repine;

Eager to lift Religion’s light

Where thickest shades of mental night

Screen the false god and fiendish rite;

Reckless that missionary blood,

Shed in wild wilderness and wood,

Has left, upon the unblest air,

The man’s deep moan — the martyr’s prayer.

I know my lot — I only ask

Power to fulfil the glorious task;

Willing the spirit, may the flesh

Strength for the day receive afresh.

May burning sun or deadly wind

Prevail not o’er an earnest mind;

May torments strange or direst death

Nor trample truth, nor baffle faith.

Though such blood-drops should fall from me

As fell in old Gethsemane,

Welcome the anguish, so it gave

More strength to work — more skill to save.

And, oh! if brief must be my time,

If hostile hand or fatal clime

Cut short my course — still o’er my grave,

Lord, may thy harvest whitening wave.

So I the culture may begin,

Let others thrust the sickle in;

If but the seed will faster grow,

May my blood water what I sow!

What! have I ever trembling stood,

And feared to give to God that blood?

What! has the coward love of life

Made me shrink from the righteous strife?

Have human passions, human fears

Severed me from those Pioneers

Whose task is to march first, and trace

Paths for the progress of our race?

It has been so; but grant me, Lord,

Now to stand steadfast by Thy word!

Protected by salvation’s helm,

Shielded by faith, with truth begirt,

To smile when trials seek to whelm

And stand mid testing fires unhurt!

Hurling hell’s strongest bulwarks down,

Even when the last pang thrills my breast,

When death bestows the martyr’s crown,

And calls me into Jesus’ rest.

Then for my ultimate reward —

Then for the world-rejoicing word —

The voice from Father — Spirit — Son:

“Servant of God, well hast thou done!”

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