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TRUE genius, but true woman ! dost deny
The woman's nature with a manly scorn,
And break away the gauds and armlets worn
By weaker women in captivity ?
Ah, vain denial ! that revolted cry
Is sobbed in by a woman's voice forlorn,-
Thy woman's hair, my sister, all unshorn
Floats back dishevelled strength in agony,
Disproving thy man's name : and while before
The world thou burnest in a poet-fire,
We see thy woman-heart beat evermore
Through the large flame. Beat purer, heart, and higher,
Till God unsex thee on the heavenly shore
Where unincarnate spirits purely aspire !
Each creature holds an insular point in space ;
Yet what man stirs a finger, breathes a sound,
But all the multitudinous beings round,
In all the countless worlds with time and place
For their conditions, down to the central base,
Thrill, haply, in vibration and rebound,
Life answering life across the vast profound,
In full antiphony, by a common grace ?
I think this sudden joyaunce which illumes
A child's mouth sleeping, unaware may run
From some soul newly loosened from earth's tombs :
I think this passionate sigh, which half-begun
I stifle back, may reach and stir the plumes
Of God's calm angel standing in the sun.
LOVE you seek for, presupposes
Summer heat and sunny glow.
Tell me, do you find moss-roses
Budding, blooming in the snow ?
Snow might kill the rose-tree's root-
Shake it quickly from your foot,
Lest it harm you as you go.
From the ivy where it dapples
A grey ruin, stone by stone,
Do you look for grapes or apples,
Or for sad green leaves alone ?
Pluck the leaves off, two or three-
Keep them for morality
When you shall be safe and gone.
OH, wilt thou have my hand, Dear, to lie along in thine ?
As a little stone in a running stream, it seems to lie and pine.
Now drop the poor pale hand, Dear, unfit to plight with thine.
Oh, wilt thou have my cheek, Dear, drawn closer to thine own? My cheek is white, my cheek is worn, by many a tear run down. Now leave a little space, Dear, lest it should wet thine own.
Oh, must thou have my soul, Dear, commingled with thy soul ?Red grows the cheek, and warm the hand; the part is in the whole ; Nor hands nor cheeks keep, separate, when soul is joined to soul.
SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE.
I THOUGHT once how Theocritus had sung .
Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years,
Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals, old or young :
And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,
The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me. Straightway I was 'ware,
So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair ;
And a voice said in mastery, while I strove, -
“Guess now who holds thee !”—“ Death,” I said.
The silver answer rang,—“Not Death, but Love."
But only three in all God's universe
Have heard this word thou hast said,-Himself, beside
Thee speaking, and me listening ! and replied
One of us ... that was God, ... and laid the curse
So darkly on my eyelids, as to amerce
My sight from seeing thee,—that if I had died,
The death-weights, placed there, would have signified
Less absolute exclusion. “Nay” is worse
From God than from all others, O my friend !
Men could not part us with their worldly jars,
Nor the seas change us, nor the tempests bend;
Our hands would touch for all the mountain-bars :
And, heaven being rolled between us at the end,
We should but vow the faster for the stars.
UNLIKE are we, unlike, O princely Heart !
Unlike our uses and our destinies.
Our ministering two angels look surprise
On one another, as they strike athwart
Their wings in passing. Thou, bethink thee, art
A guest for queens to social pageantries,
With gages from a hundred brighter eyes
Than tears even can make mine, to play thy part
Of chief musician. What hast thou to do
With looking from the lattice-lights at me,
A poor, tired, wandering singer, singing through
The dark, and leaning up a cypress tree?
The chrism is on thine head, -on mine, the dew,-
And Death must dig the level where these agree.
Thou hast thy calling to some palace-floor,
Most gracious singer of high poems ! where
The dancers will break footing, from the care
Of watching up thy pregnant lips for more.
And dost thou lift this house's latch too poor
For hand of thine ? and canst thou think and bear
To let thy music drop here unaware
In folds of golden fülness at my door?
Look up and see the casement broken in,
The bats and owlets builders in the roof!
My cricket chirps against thy mandolin.
Hush, call no echo up in further proof
Of desolation ! there 's a voice within
That weeps ... as thou must sing ... alone, aloof.
I LIFT my heavy heart up solemnly,
As once Electra her sepulchral urn,
And, looking in thine eyes, I overturn
The ashes at thy feet. Behold and see
What a great heap of grief lay hid in me,
And how the red wild sparkles dimly burn
Through the ashen greyness. If thy foot in scorn
Could tread them out to darkness utterly,
It might be well perhaps. But if instead
Thou wait beside me for the wind to blow
those laurels on thine head,
O my Belovëd, will not shield thee so,
That none of all the fires shall scorch and shred
The hair beneath. Stand further off then ! go !
Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand
Henceforward in thy shadow. Nevermore
Alone upon the threshold of my door
Of individual life, I shall command
The uses of my soul, nor lift my hand
Serenely in the sunshine as before,
Without the sense of that which I forbore-
Thy touch upon the palm. The widest land
Doom takes to part us, leaves thy heart in mine
With pulses that beat double. What I do
And what I dream include thee, as the wine
Must taste of its own grapes. And when I sue
God for myself, He hears that name of thine,
And sees within my eyes the tears of two.