The House of Life, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Part II. Change and Fate

Transfigured Life

As growth of form or momentary glance

In a child’s features will recall to mind

The father’s with the mother’s face combin’d, —

Sweet interchange that memories still enhance:

And yet, as childhood’s years and youth’s advance,

The gradual mouldings leave one stamp behind,

Till in the blended likeness now we find

A separate man’s or woman’s countenance:—

So in the Song, the singer’s Joy and Pain,

Its very parents, evermore expand

To bid the passion’s fullgrown birth remain,

By Art’s transfiguring essence subtly spann’d;

And from that song-cloud shaped as a man’s hand

There comes the sound as of abundant rain.

The Song-Throe

By thine own tears thy song must tears beget,

O Singer! Magic mirror thou hast none

Except thy manifest heart; and save thine own

Anguish or ardour, else no amulet.

Cisterned in Pride, verse is the feathery jet

Of soulless air-flung fountains; nay, more dry

Than the Dead Sea for throats that thirst and sigh,

That song o’er which no singer’s lids grew wet.

The Song-god — He the Sun-god — is no slave

Of thine: thy Hunter he, who for thy soul

Fledges his shaft: to no august control

Of thy skilled hand his quivered store he gave:

But if thy lips’ loud cry leap to his smart,

The inspir’d recoil shall pierce thy brother’s heart.

The Soul’s Sphere

Come prisoned moon in steep cloud-fastnesses, —

Throned queen and thralled; some dying sun whose pyre

Blazed with momentous memorable fire; —

Who hath not yearned and fed his heart with these?

Who, sleepless, hath not anguished to appease

Tragical shadow’s realm of sound and sight

Conjectured in the lamentable night? . . .

Lo! the soul’s sphere of infinite images!

What sense shall count them? Whether it forecast

The rose-winged hours that flutter in the van

Of Love’s unquestioning unreveale’d span, —

Visions of golden futures: or that last

Wild pageant of the accumulated past

That clangs and flashes for a drowning man.


The changing guests, each in a different mood,

Sit at the roadside table and arise:

And every life among them in likewise

Is a soul’s board set daily with new food.

What man has bent o’er his son’s sleep, to brood

How that face shall watch his when cold it lies? —

Or thought, as his own mother kissed his eyes,

Of what her kiss was when his father wooed?

May not this ancient room thou sit’st in dwell

In separate living souls for joy or pain?

Nay, all its corners may be painted plain

Where Heaven shows pictures of some life spent well;

And may be stamped, a memory all in vain,

Upon the sight of lidless eyes in Hell.

Ardour and Memory

The cuckoo-throb, the heartbeat of the Spring;

The rosebud’s blush that leaves it as it grows

Into the full-eyed fair unblushing rose;

The summer clouds that visit every wing

With fires of sunrise and of sunsetting;

The furtive flickering streams to light reborn

‘Mid airs new-fledged and valorous lusts of morn,

While all the daughters of the daybreak sing:—

These ardour loves, and memory: and when flown

All joys, and through dark forest-boughs in flight

The wind swoops onward brandishing the light,

Even yet the rose-tree’s verdure left alone

Will flush all ruddy though the rose be gone;

With ditties and with dirges infinite.

Known in Vain

As two whose love, first foolish, widening scope,

Knows suddenly, with music high and soft,

The Holy of holies; who because they scoff’d

Are now amazed with shame, nor dare to cope

With the whole truth aloud, lest heaven should ope;

Yet, at their meetings, laugh not as they

In speech; nor speak, at length; but sitting oft

Together, within hopeless sight of hope

For hours are silent:— So it happeneth

When Work and Will awake too late, to gaze

After their life sailed by, and hold their breath.

Ah! who shall dare to search through what sad maze

Thenceforth their incommunicable ways

Follow the desultory feet of Death?

Heart of the Night

From child to youth; from youth to arduous man;

From lethargy to fever of the heart;

From faithful life to dream-dowered days apart;

From trust to doubt; from doubt to brink of ban; —

Thus much of change in one swift cycle ran

Till now. Alas, the soul! — how soon must she

Accept her primal immortality, —

The flesh resume its dust whence it began?

O Lord of work and peace! O Lord of life!

O Lord, the awful Lord of will! though late,

Even yet renew this soul with duteous breath:

That when the peace is garnered in from strife,

The work retrieved, the will regenerate,

This soul may see thy face, O Lord of death!

The Landmark

Was that the landmark? What, — the foolish well

Whose wave, low down, I did not stoop to drink,

But sat and flung the pebbles from its brink

In sport to send its imaged skies pell-mell,

(And mine own image, had I noted well!)

Was that my point of turning? — I had thought

The stations of my course should rise unsought,

As altar-stone or ensigned citadel.

But lo! the path is missed, I must go back,

And thirst to drink when next I reach the spring

Which once I stained, which since may have grown black.

Yet though no light be left nor bird now sing

As here I turn, I’ll thank God, hastening,

That the same goal is still on the same track.

A Dark Day

The gloom that breathes upon me with these airs

Is like the drops which strike the traveller’s brow

Who knows not, darkling, if they bring him now

Fresh storm, or be old rain the covert bears.

Ah! bodes this hour some harvest of new tares,

Or hath but memory of the day whose plough

Sowed hunger once, — the night at length when thou,

O prayer found vain, didst fall from out my prayers?

How prickly were the growths which yet how smooth,

Along the hedgerows of this journey shed,

Lie by Time’s grace till night and sleep may soothe!

Even as the thistledown from pathsides dead

Gleaned by a girl in autumns of her youth,

Which one new year makes soft her marriage-bed.

Autumn Idleness

This sunlight shames November where he grieves

In dead red leaves, and will not let him shun

The day, though bough with bough be over-run.

But with a blessing every glade receives

High salutation; while from hillock-eaves

The deer gaze calling, dappled white and dun,

As if, being foresters of old, the sun

Had marked them with the shade of forest-leaves.

Here dawn today unveiled her magic glass;

Here noon now gives the thirst and takes the dew;

Till eve bring rest when other good things pass.

And here the lost hours the lost hours renew

While I still lead my shadow o’er the grass,

Nor know, for longing, that which I should do.

The Hill Summit

This feast-day of the sun, his altar there

In the broad west has blazed for vesper-song;

And I have loitered in the vale too long

And gaze now a belated worshipper.

Yet may I not forget that I was ‘ware,

So journeying, of his face at intervals

Transfigured where the fringed horizon falls, —

A fiery bush with coruscating hair.

And now that I have climbed and won this height,

I must tread downward through the sloping shade

And travel the bewildered tracks till night.

Yet for this hour I still may here be stayed

And see the gold air and the silver fade

And the last bird fly into the last light.

The Choice


Eat thou and drink; tomorrow thou shalt die.

Surely the earth, that’s wise being very old,

Needs not our help. Then loose me, love, and hold

Thy sultry hair up from my face that I

May pour for thee this yellow wine, brim-high,

Till round the glass thy fingers glow like gold.

We’ll drown all hours: thy song, while hours toil’d,

Shall leap, as fountains veil the changing sky.

Now kiss, and think that there are really those,

My own high-bosomed beauty, who increase

Vain gold, vain lore, and yet might choose our way

Through many days they toil; then comes a day

They die not, — never having lived, — but cease;

And round their narrow lips the mould falls close.


Watch thou and fear; tomorrow thou shalt die.

Or art thou sure thou shalt have time for death?

Is not the day which God’s word promiseth

To come man knows not when? In yonder sky,

Now while we speak, the sun speeds forth: can I

Or thou assure him of his goal? God’s breath

Even at the moment haply quickeneth

The air to a flame; till spirits, always nigh

Though screened and hid, shall walk the daylight here.

And dost thou prate of all that man shall do?

Canst thou, who hast but plagues, presume to be

Glad in his gladness that comes after thee?

Will his strength slay thy worm in Hell? Go to:

Cover thy countenance, and watch, and fear.

Think thou and act; tomorrow thou shalt die.

Outstretched in the sun’s warmth upon the shore,

Thou say’st: ‘Man’s measured path is all gone o’er:

Up all his years, steeply, with strain and sigh,

Man clomb until he touched the truth; and I,

Even I, am he whom it was destined for.’

How should this be? Art thou then so much more

Than they who sowed, that thou shouldst reap thereby?

Nay, come up hither. From this wave-washed mound

Unto the furthest flood-brim look with me;

Then reach on with thy thought till it be drown’d.

Miles and miles distant though the grey line be,

And though thy soul sail leagues and leagues beyond, —

Still, leagues beyond those leagues there is more sea.

Old and New Art

I. St. Luke the Painter

Give honour unto Luke Evangelist;

For he it was (the aged legends say)

Who first taught Art to fold her hands and pray.

Scarcely at once she dared to rend the mist

Of devious symbols: but soon having wist

How sky-breadth and field-silence and this day

Are symbols also in some deeper way,

She looked through these to God and was God’s priest.

And if, past noon, her toil began to irk,

And she sought talismans, and turned in vain

To soulless self-reflections of man’s skill,

Yet now, in this the twilight, she might still

Kneel in the latter grass to pray again,

Ere the night cometh and she may not work.

II. Not as These

‘I am not as these are,’ the poet saith

In youth’s pride, and the painter, among men

At bay, where never pencil comes nor pen,

And shut about with his own frozen breath.

To others, for whom only rhyme wins faith

As poets, — only paint as painters, — then

He turns in the cold silence; and again

Shrinking, ‘I am not as these are,’ he saith.

And say that this is so, what follows it?

For were thine eyes set backwards in thine head,

Such words were well; but they see on, and far.

Unto the lights of the great Past, new-lit

Fair for the Future’s track, look thou instead, —

Say thou instead ‘I am not as these are.’

III. The Husbandmen

Though God, as one that is an householder,

Called these to labour in his vine-yard first,

Before the husk of darkness was well burst

Bidding them grope their way out and bestir,

(Who, questioned of their wages, answered, ‘Sir,

Unto each man a penny:’) though the worst

Burthen of heat was theirs and the dry thirst:

Though God hath since found none such as these were

To do their work like them:— Because of this

Stand not ye idle in the market-place.

Which of ye knoweth he is not that last

Who may be first by faith and will? — yea, his

The hand which after the appointed days

And hours shall give a Future to their Past?

Soul’s Beauty

Under the arch of Life, where love and death,

Terror and mystery, guard her shrine, I saw

Beauty enthroned; and though her gaze struck awe,

I drew it in as simply as my breath.

Hers are the eyes which, over and beneath,

The sky and sea bend on thee, — which can draw,

By sea or sky or woman, to one law,

The allotted bondman of her palm and wreath.

This is that Lady Beauty, in whose praise

Thy voice and hand shake still, — long known to thee

By flying hair and fluttering hem, — the beat

Following her daily of thy heart and feet,

How passionately and irretrievably,

In what fond flight, how many ways and days!

Body’s Beauty

Of Adam’s first wife, Lilith, it is told

(The witch he loved before the gift of Eve,)

That, ere the snake’s, her sweet tongue could deceive,

And her enchanted hair was the first gold.

And still she sits, young while the earth is old,

And, subtly of herself contemplative,

Draws men to watch the bright web she can weave,

Till heart and body and life are in its hold.

The rose and poppy are her flowers; for where

Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scent

And soft-shed kisses and soft sleep shall snare?

Lo! as that youth’s eyes burned at thine, so went

Thy spell through him, and left his straight neck bent

And round his heart one strangling golden hair.

The Monochord

Is it this sky’s vast vault or ocean’s sound

That is Life’s self and draws my life from me,

And by instinct ineffable decree

Holds my breath quailing on the bitter bound?

Nay, is it Life or Death, thus thunder-crown’d,

That ‘mid the tide of all emergency

Now notes my separate wave, and to what sea

Its difficult eddies labour in the ground?

Oh! what is this that knows the road I came,

The flame turned cloud, the cloud returned to flame,

The lifted shifted steeps and all the way? —

That draws round me at last this wind-warm space,

And in regenerate rapture turns my face

Upon the devious coverts of dismay?

From Dawn to Noon

As the child knows not if his mother’s face

Be fair; nor of his elders yet can deem

What each most is; but as of hill or stream

At dawn, all glimmering life surrounds his place:

Who yet, tow’rd noon of his half-weary race,

Pausing awhile beneath the high sun-beam

And gazing steadily back, — as through a dream,

In things long past new features now can trace:—

Even so the thought that is at length fullgrown

Turns back to note the sun-smit paths, all grey

And marvellous once, where first it walked alone;

And haply doubts, amid the unblenching day,

Which most or least impelled its onward way, —

Those unknown things or these things overknown.

Memorial Thresholds

What place so strange, — though unrevealed snow

With unimaginable fires arise

At the earth’s end, — what passion of surprise

Like frost-bound fire-girt scenes of long ago?

Lo! this is none but I this hour; and lo!

This is the very place which to mine eyes

Those mortal hours in vain immortalize,

‘Mid hurrying crowds, with what alone I know.

City, of thine a single simple door,

By some new Power reduplicate, must be

Even yet my life-porch in eternity,

Even with one presence filled, as once of yore

Or mocking winds whirl round a chaff-strown floor

Thee and thy years and these my words and me.

Hoarded Joy

I said: ‘Nay, pluck not, — let the first fruit be:

Even as thou sayest, it is sweet and red,

But let it ripen still. The tree’s bent head

Sees in the stream its own fecundity

And bides the day of fulness. Shall not we

At the sun’s hour that day possess the shade,

And claim our fruit before its ripeness fade,

And eat it from the branch and praise the tree?’

I say: ‘Alas! our fruit hath wooed the sun

Too long, — ’tis fallen and floats adown the stream.

Lo, the last clusters! Pluck them every one,

And let us sup with summer; ere the gleam

Of autumn set the year’s pent sorrow free,

And the woods wail like echoes from the sea.’

Barren Spring

So now the changed year’s turning wheel returns

And as a girl sails balanced in the wind,

And now before and now again behind

Stoops as it swoops, with cheek that laughs and burns, —

So Spring comes merry towards me now, but earns

No answering smile from me, whose life is twin’d

With the dead boughs that winter still must bind,

And whom today the Spring no more concerns.

Behold, this crocus is a withering flame;

This snowdrop, snow; this apple-blossom’s part

To breed the fruit that breeds the serpent’s art.

Nay, for these Spring-flowers, turn thy face from them,

Nor gaze till on the year’s last lily-stem

The white cup shrivels round the golden heart.

Farewell to the Glen

Sweet stream-fed glen, why say ‘farewell’ to thee

Who far’st so well and find’st for ever smooth

The brow of Time where man may read no ruth?

Nay, do thou rather say ‘farewell’ to me,

Who now fare forth in bitterer fantasy

Than erst was mine where other shade might soothe

By other streams, what while in fragrant youth

The bliss of being sad made melancholy.

And yet, farewell! For better shalt thou fare

When children bathe sweet faces in thy flow

And happy lovers blend sweet shadows there

In hours to come, than when an hour ago

Thine echoes had but one man’s sighs to bear

And thy trees whispered what he feared to know.

Vain Virtues

What is the sorriest thing that enters Hell?

None of the sins, — but this and that fair deed

Which a soul’s sin at length could supersede.

These yet are virgins, whom death’s timely knell

Might once have sainted; whom the fiends compel

Together now, in snake-bound shuddering sheaves

Of anguish, while the scorching bridegroom leaves

Their refuse maidenhood abominable.

Night sucks them down, the garbage of the pit,

Whose names, half entered in the book of Life,

Were God’s desire at noon. And as their hair

And eyes sink last, the Torturer deigns no whit

To gaze, but, yearning, waits his worthier wife,

The Sin still blithe on earth that sent them there.

Lost Days

The lost days of my life until today,

What were they, could I see them on the street

Lie as they fell? Would they be ears of wheat

Sown once for food but trodden into clay?

Or golden coins squandered and still to pay?

Or drops of blood dabbling the guilty feet?

Or such spilt water as in dreams must cheat

The throats of men in Hell, who thirst alway?

I do not see them here; but after death

God knows I know the faces I shall see,

Each one a murdered self, with low last breath.

‘I am thyself, — what hast thou done to me?’

‘And I— and I— thyself,’ (lo! each one saith,)

‘And thou thyself to all eternity!’

Death’s Songsters

When first that horse, within whose populous womb

The birth was death, o’ershadowed Troy with fate,

Her elders, dubious of its Grecian freight,

Brought Helen there to sing the songs of home:

She whispered, ‘Friends, I am alone; come, come!’

Then, crouched within, Ulysses waxed afraid,

And on his comrades’ quivering mouths he laid

His hands, and held them till the voice was dumb.

The same was he who, lashed to his own mast,

There where the sea-flowers screen the charnel-caves,

Beside the sirens’ singing island pass’d,

Till sweetness failed along the inveterate waves . . .

Say, soul, — are songs of Death no heaven to thee,

Nor shames her lip the cheek of Victory?

Hero’s Lamp

That lamp thou fill’st in Eros name to-night,

O Hero, shall the Sestian augurs take

To-morrow, and for drowned Leander’s sake

To Anteros its fireless lip shall plight.

Aye, waft the unspoken vow: yet dawn’s first light

On ebbing storm and life twice ebb’d must break;

While ‘neath no sunrise, by the Avernian Lake,

Lo where Love walks, Death’s pallid neophyte.

That lamp within Anteros’ shadowy shrine

Shall stand unlit (for so the gods decree)

Till some one man the happy issue see

Of a life’s love, and bid its flame to shine:

Which still may rest unfir’d; for, theirs or thine,

O brother, what brought love to them or thee?

[After the deaths of Leander and Hero, the signal-lamp was dedicated to Anteros, with the edict that no man should light it unless his love had proved fortunate.]

The Trees of the Garden

Ye who have passed Death’s haggard hills; and ye

Whom trees that knew your sires shall cease to know

And still stand silent:— is it all a show,

A wisp that laughs upon the wall? — decree

Of some inexorable supremacy

Which ever, as man strains his blind surmise

From depth to ominous depth, looks past his eyes,

Sphinx-faced with unabashed augury?

Nay, rather question the Earth’s self. Invoke

The storm-felled forest-trees moss-grown today

Whose roots are hillocks where the children play;

Or ask the silver sapling ‘neath what yoke

Those stars, his spray-crown’s clustering gems, shall wage

Their journey still when his boughs shrink with age.

‘Retro me, Sathana!’

Get thee behind me. Even as, heavy-curled,

Stooping against the wind, a charioteer

Is snatched from out his chariot by the hair,

So shall Time be; and as the void car, hurled

Abroad by reinless steeds, even so the world:

Yea, even as chariot-dust upon the air,

It shall be sought and not found anywhere.

Get thee behind me, Satan. Oft unfurled,

Thy perilous wings can beat and break like lath

Much mightiness of men to win thee praise.

Leave these weak feet to tread in narrow ways.

Thou still, upon the broad vine-sheltered path,

Mayst wait the turning of the phials of wrath

For certain years, for certain months and days.

Lost on Both Sides

As when two men have loved a woman well,

Each hating each, through Love’s and Death’s deceit;

Since not for either this stark marriage-sheet

And the long pauses of this wedding bell;

Yet o’er her grave the night and day dispel

At last their feud forlorn, with cold and heat;

Nor other than dear friends to death may fleet

The two lives left that most of her can tell:—

So separate hopes, which in a soul had wooed

The one same Peace, strove with each other long,

And Peace before their faces perished since:

So through that soul, in restless brotherhood,

They roam together now, and wind among

Its bye-streets, knocking at the dusty inns.

The Sun’s Shame


Beholding youth and hope in mockery caught

From life; and mocking pulses that remain

When the soul’s death of bodily death is fain;

Honour unknown, and honour known unsought;

And penury’s sedulous self-torturing thought

On gold, whose master therewith buys his bane;

And longed-for woman longing all in vain

For lonely man with love’s desire distraught;

And wealth, and strength, and power, and pleasantness,

Given unto bodies of whose souls men say,

None poor and weak, slavish and foul, as they:—

Beholding these things, I behold no less

The blushing morn and blushing eve confess

The shame that loads the intolerable day.

As some true chief of men, bowed down with stress

Of life’s disastrous eld, on blossoming youth

May gaze, and murmur with self-pity and ruth,

‘Might I thy fruitless treasure but possess,

Such blessing of mine all coming years should bless;’ —

Then sends one sigh forth to the unknown goal,

And bitterly feels breathe against his soul

The hour swift-winged of nearer nothingness:—

Even so the World’s grey Soul to the green World

Perchance one hour must cry: ‘Woe’s me, for whom

Inveteracy of ill portends the doom, —

Whose heart’s old fire in shadow of shame is furl’d:

While thou even as of yore art journeying,

All soulless now, yet merry with the Spring!’

Michelangelo’s Kiss

Great Michelangelo, with age grown bleak

And uttermost labours, having once o’ersaid

All grievous memories on his long life shed,

This worst regret to one true heart could speak:—

That when, with sorrowing love and reverence meek,

He stooped o’er sweet Colonna’s dying bed,

His Muse and dominant Lady, spirit-wed,

Her hand he kissed, but not her brow or cheek.

O Buonarruoti, — good at Art’s fire-wheels

To urge her chariot! — even thus the Soul,

Touching at length some sorely-chastened goal,

Earns oftenest but a little: her appeals

Were deep and mute, — lowly her claim. Let be:

What holds for her Death’s garner? And for thee?

The Vase of Life

Around the vase of Life at your slow pace

He has not crept, but turned it with his hands,

And all its sides already understands.

There, girt, one breathes alert for some great race;

Whose road runs far by sands and fruitful space;

Who laughs, yet through the jolly throng has pass’d;

Who weeps, nor stays for weeping; who at last,

A youth, stands somewhere crowned, with silent face.

And he has filled this vase with wine for blood,

With blood for tears, with spice for burning vow,

With watered flowers for buried love most fit;

And would have cast it shattered to the flood,

Yet in Fate’s name has kept it whole; which now

Stands empty till his ashes fall in it.

Life the Beloved

As thy friend’s face, with shadow of soul o’erspread,

Somewhile unto thy sight perchance hath been

Ghastly and strange, yet never so is seen

In thought, but to all fortunate favour wed;

As thy love’s death-bound features never dead

To memory’s glass return, but contravene

Frail fugitive days, and always keep, I ween

Than all new life a livelier lovelihead:—

So Life herself, thy spirit’s friend and love,

Even still as Spring’s authentic harbinger

Glows with fresh hours for hope to glorify;

Though pale she lay when in the winter grove

Her funeral flowers were snow-flakes shed on her

And the red wings of frost-fire rent the sky.

A Superscription

Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;

I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell;

Unto thine ear I hold the dead-sea shell

Cast up thy Life’s foam-fretted feet between;

Unto thine eyes the glass where that is seen

Which had Life’s form and Love’s, but by my spell

Is now a shaken shadow intolerable,

Of ultimate things unuttered the frail screen.

Mark me, how still I am! But should there dart

One moment through thy soul the soft surprise

Of that winged Peace which lulls the breath of sighs,

Then shalt thou see me smile, and turn apart

Thy visage to mine ambush at thy heart

Sleepless with cold commemorative eyes.

He and I

Whence came his feet into my field, and why?

How is it that he sees it all so drear?

How do I see his seeing, and how hear

The name his bitter silence knows it by?

This was the little fold of separate sky

Whose pasturing clouds in the soul’s atmosphere

Drew living light from one continual year:

How should he find it lifeless? He, or I?

Lo! this new Self now wanders round my field,

With plaints for every flower, and for each tree

A moan, the sighing wind’s auxiliary:

And o’er sweet waters of my life, that yield

Unto his lips no draught but tears unseal’d,

Even in my place he weeps. Even I, not he.

Newborn Death


To-day Death seems to me an infant child

Which her worn mother Life upon my knee

Has set to grow my friend and play with me;

If haply so my heart might be beguil’d

To find no terrors in a face so mild, —

If haply so my weary heart might be

Unto the newborn milky eyes of thee,

O Death, before resentment reconcil’d.

How long, O Death? And shall thy feet depart

Still a young child’s with mine, or wilt thou stand

Fullgrown the helpful daughter of my heart,

What time with thee indeed I reach the strand

Of the pale wave which knows thee what thou art,

And drink it in the hollow of thy hand?


And thou, O Life, the lady of all bliss,

With whom, when our first heart beat full and fast,

I wandered till the haunts of men were pass’d,

And in fair places found all bowers amiss

Till only woods and waves might hear our kiss,

While to the winds all thought of Death we cast:

Ah, Life! and must I have from thee at last

No smile to greet me and no babe but this?

Lo! Love, the child once ours; and Song, whose hair

Blew like a flame and blossomed like a wreath;

And Art, whose eyes were worlds by God found fair;

These o’er the book of Nature mixed their breath

With neck-twined arms, as oft we watched them there:

And did these die that thou mightst bear me Death?

The One Hope

When all desire at last and all regret

Go hand in hand to death, and all is vain,

What shall assuage the unforgotten pain

And teach the unforgetful to forget?

Shall Peace be still a sunk stream long unmet, —

Or may the soul at once in a green plain

Stoop through the spray of some sweet life-fountain

And cull the dew-drenched flowering amulet?

Ah! when the wan soul in that golden air

Between the scriptured petals softly blown

Peers breathless for the gift of grace unknown,

Ah! let none other written spell soe’er

But only the one Hope’s one name be there, —

Not less nor more, but even that word alone.

This web edition published by:

The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59