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PARDON, oh, pardon, that my soul should make
Of all that strong divineness which I know
For thine and thee, an image only so
Formed of the sand, and fit to shift and break.
It is that distant years which did not take
Thy sovranty, recoiling with a blow,
Have forced my swimming brain to undergo
Their doubt and dread, and blindly to forsake
Thy purity of likeness and distort
Thy worthiest love to a worthless counterfeit.
As if a shipwrecked Pagan, safe in port,
His guardian sea-god to commemorate,
Should set a sculptured porpoise, gills a-snort
And vibrant tail, within the temple-gate.
FIRST time he kissed me, he but only kissed
The fingers of this hand wherewith I write ;
And ever since, it grew more clean and white
Slow to world-greetings, quick with its “Oh, list,"
When the angels speak. A ring of amethyst
I could not wear here, plainer to my sight,
Than that first kiss. The second passed in height
The first, and sought the forehead, and half missed,
Half falling on the hair. O beyond meed !
That was the chrism of love, which love's own crown,
With sanctifying sweetness, did precede.
The third upon my lips was folded down
In perfect, purple state ; since when, indeed,
I have been proud and said, “ My love, my own,"
BECAUSE thou hast the power and own'st the grace
To look through and behind this mask of me,
(Against which, years have beat thus blanchingly
With their rains,) and behold my soul's true face,
The dim and weary witness of life's race,-
Because thou hast the faith and love to see,
Through that same soul's distracting lethargy,
The patient angel waiting for a place
In the new Heavens,-because nor sin nor woe,
Nor God's infliction, nor death's neighbourhood,
Nor all which others viewing, turn to go,
Nor all which makes me tired of all, self-viewed,-
Nothing repels thee, ... Dearest, teach me so
To pour out gratitude, as thou dost, good !
OH, yes ! they love through all this world of ours !
I will not gainsay love, called love forsooth :
I have heard love talked in my early youth,
And since, not so long back but that the flowers
Then gathered, smell still. Mussulmans and Giaours
Throw kerchiefs at a smile, and have no ruth
For any weeping. Polypheme's white tooth
Slips on the nut if, after frequent showers,
The shell is over-smooth,--and not so much
Will turn the thing called love, aside to hate
Or else to oblivion. But thou art not such
A lover, my Belovëd! thou canst wait
Through sorrow and sickness, to bring souls to touch,
And think it soon when others cry “Too late.”
I THANK all who have loved me in their hearts,
With thanks and love from mine. Deep thanks to all
Who paused a little near the prison-wall
To hear my music in its louder parts
Ere they went onward, each one to the mart's
Or temple's occupation, beyond call.
But thou, who, in my voice's sink and fall
When the sob took it, thy divinest Art's
Own instrument didst drop down at thy foot
To harken what I said between my tears, .
Instruct me how to thank thee! Oh, to shoot
My soul's full meaning into future years,
That they should lend it utterance, and salute
Love that endures, from Life that disappears !
My future will not copy fair my past”I wrote that once ; and thinking at my side My ministering life-angel justified The word by his appealing look upcast To the white throne of God, I turned at last, And there, instead, saw thee, not unallied To angels in thy soul ! Then I, long tried By natural ills, received the comfort fast, While budding, at thy sight, my pilgrim's staff Gave out green leaves with morning dews impearled. I seek no copy now of life's first half : Leave here the pages with long musing curled, And write me new my future's epigraph, New angel mine, unhoped for in the world !
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right ;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life !-and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
BELOVED, thou hast brought me many flowers
Plucked in the garden, all the summer through,
And winter, and it seemed as if they grew
In this close room, nor missed the sun and showers.
So, in the like name of that love of ours,
Take back these thoughts which here unfolded too,
And which on warm and cold days I withdrew
From my heart's ground. Indeed, those beds and bowers
Be overgrown with bitter weeds and rue,
And wait thy weeding ; yet here's eglantine,
Here's ivy !--take them, as I used to do
Thy flowers, and keep them where they shall not pine.
Instruct thine eyes to keep their colours true,
And tell thy soul, their roots are left in mine.
FREE Heart, that singest to-day
Like a bird on the first green spray,
Wilt thou go forth to the world
Where the hawk hath his wing unfurled
To follow, perhaps, thy way?
Where the tamer thine own will bind,
And, to make thee sing, will blind, While the little hip grows for the free behind ?
Heart, wilt thou go?
"No, no! “Free hearts are better so." The world, thou hast heard it told, Has counted its robber-gold, And the pieces stick to the hand ; The world goes riding it fair and grand,
While the truth is bought and sold ; World-voices east, world-voices west,
They call thee, Heart, from thine early rest “Come hither, come hither and be our guest.
Heart, wilt thou go?
-“ No, no! “Good hearts are calmer so." Who calleth thee, Heart? World's Strife, With a golden heft to his knife ; World's Mirth, with a finger fine That draws on a board in wine
Her blood-red plans of life ;
World's Gain, with a brow knit down ;
World's Fame, with a laurel crown
Which rustles most as the leaves turn brown:
Heart, wilt thou go?
—“No, no !
“ Calm hearts are wiser so."