To these dear walls, once dear to Shakespeare's eyes,
Time's Vandal hand itself has done no wrong;
This nestling lattice opened to his song,
When, with the lark, he bade his love arise
In words whose strong enchantment never dies--
Old as these flowers, and, like them, ever young.
HIS Eve of Women! She, whose mortal lot
Was linked to an Immortal's unaware,
With Love's lost Eden in her blissful air,
Perchance would greet him in this blessed spot.
No shadow of the coming days durst blot,
The flower-like face, so innocently fair,
As lip met lip, and lily arms, all bare,
Clung round him in a perfect lover's knot.
Was not this Anne the flame-like daffodil
Of Shakespeare's March, whose maiden beauty took
His senses captive? Thus the stripling brook
Mirrors a wild flower nodding by the mill,
Then grows a river in which proud cities look,
And with a land's load widens seaward still
Even here, methinks, when moon-lapped shallows smiled
Round isles no bigger than a baby cot,
Titania found a glowworm-lighted child,
Led far astray, and, with anointing hand
Sprinkling clear dew from a forget-me-not,
Hailed him the Laureate of her Fairyland.
Here--fresh from fumes of some Falstaffian bout,
When famous champions, fired by many a bet,
Had drained huge bumpers while the stars would set--
Beneath its reeling branches by the way,
Till twice twelve hours of April bloom were out--
Locked in oblivion--Shakespeare lost a day.
Green Avon's haunted! Look, from yonder bank
The willow leans, that hath not ceased to weep,
Whence, hanging garlands, fair Ophelia sank;
Since Jacques moped here the trees have had a tongue;
And all these streams and whispering willows keep
The moan of Desdemona's dying song.
THE hectic autumn's dilatory fire
Has turned this lime tree to a sevenfold brand,
Which, self consuming, lights the sunless land,
A death to which all poet souls aspire.
Above the graves, where all men's vain desire
Is hushed at last as by a Mother's hand,
And, Time confounded, Love's blank records stand,
The Evensong swells from the pulsing choir.
What incommunicable presence clings
To this grey church and willowy twilight stream?
Am I the dupe of some delusive dream?
Or, like faint fluid phosphorent rings
On refluent seas, doth Shakespeare's spirit gleam
Pervasive round these old familiar things?
The world of men, unrolled before our sight,
Showed like a map, where stream and waterfall
And village-cradling vale and cloud-capped height
Stand faithfully recorded, great and small;
For Shakespeare was, and at his touch, with light
Impartial as the Sun's, revealed the All.
Borne hither when Christ's Sepulchre was won,
And planted by hoar Warwick's feudal walls,
You grew, o'ershadowing every rival stem.
When English woods don May's fresh coronals,
Say,--Mourn ye still lost Jerusalem,
Funeral trees--beloved of Lebanon?