Would you seize and fix and capture
All his evanescent rapture?
Bind him fast with golden curls,
Fetter with a chain of pearls?
Would you catch him in a net,
Like a white moth prankt with jet?
Clutch him, and his bloomy wing
Turns a dead, discoloured thing!
Pluck him like a rosebud red,
And he leaves a thorn instead;
Let him go without a care,
And he follows unaware.
Love, oh Love's a dainty sweeting,
Wooing now, and now retreating;
Lightly come, and lightly gone,
Lost when most securely won!
The Many try, but oh! how few are they
To whom that finest of the arts is given
Which shall teach Love, the rosy runaway,
To bide from bridal Morn to brooding Even.
Yet this--this only--is the narrow way
By which, while yet on earth, we enter heaven.
Oh, it was delicious fooling!
In the hottest of the game,
Without thought of future cooling,
All too quickly burned Life's flame.
In this give-and-take of glances,
Kisses sweet as honey dews,
When we played with equal chances,
Did you win, or did I lose?
Was your heart then hurt to bleeding,
In the ardour of the throw?
Was it then I lost, unheeding,
Lost my heart so long ago?
Who shall say? The game is over.
Of us two who loved in fun,
One lies low beneath the clover,
One lies lonely in the sun.
I will take your thoughts to my heart;
I will keep and garner them there
Locked in a casket apart.
Far above rubies or rare
Pearls from the prodigal deep,
Which men stake their lives on to find,
And women their beauty to keep,
I will treasure the pearls of your mind.
How long has it taken the earth
To crystallize gems in a mine?
How long was the sea giving birth
To her pearls, washed in bitterest brine?
What sorrows, what struggles, what fierce
Endeavour of lives in the past,
Hearts tempered by fire and tears,
To fashion your manhood at last!
TAKE me to thy heart, and let me
Rest my head a little while;
Rest my heart from griefs that fret me
In the mercy of thy smile.
In a twilight pause of feeling,
Time to say a moment's grace,
Put thy hands, whose touch is healing,
Put them gently on my face.
Found too late in Life's wild welter,
All I ask, for weal and woe,
Friend, a moment's friendly shelter,
And thy blessing ere I go.
FULL many loves and friendships dear
Have blossomed brightly in my path;
And some were like the primrose rathe,
And withered with the vernal year.
And some were like the joyous rose,
Most prodigal with scent and hue,
That glows while yet the sky is blue,
And falls with every wind that blows--
Mere guests and annuals of the heart;
But you are that perennial bay,
Greenest when greener leaves decay,
Whom only death shall bid depart.
TO you who dwell withdrawn, above
The world's tumultuous strife,
And, in an atmosphere of love,
Have triumphed over life;
To you whose heart has kept so young
Beneath the weight of years,
I give these passion flowers of song,
Still wet with undried tears.
You too have trod that stony path
Which steeply winds afar,
And seen, through nights of storm and wrath,
The bright and Morning Star;
Where, shining o'er the Alps of time
On valleys full of mist,
It beckons us to peaks sublime,
Oh, brave Idealist.
As many as the birds that fly
Unpiloted across the deep;
As many as the clouds on high,
And all the drops they weep;
As many as the leaves that fall
In autumn, on the withering lea,
When wind to thundering wind doth call,
And sea calls unto sea;
As many as the multitude
Of quiet graves, where mutely bide
The wicked people and the good,
Laid softly side by side;--
So many thoughts, so many tears,
Such hosts of prayers, are sent on high,
Seeking, through all Man's perished years,
A love that will not die.
Lo, as I soared etherially on high,
You vanished, from my swimming eyes aloof,
Alone, alone, within the empty sky,
I reached out giddily, and reeling fell
From starriest heaven, to plunge in lowest hell,
My proud heart broken on Earth's humblest roof.
Far as her wondering eyes can reach
A Vastness, heaving grey in grey
To the frayed edges where the day
Furls his red standard on the breach,
Between the skyline and the beach.
The waters of the flowing tide
Cast up the seapink shells and weed;
She toys with shells, and doth not heed
The ocean, which on every side
Is closing round her vast and wide.
It creeps her way as if in play,
Pink shells at her pink feet to cast;
But now the wild waves hold her fast,
And bear her off and melt away
A Vastness heaving gray in gray.
Calling through the rippling rain
And red orchard blossom;
Calling up old love again,
Buried in my bosom;
Calling till he brought you too
From some magic region;
And the whole spring followed you,
Birds on birds in legion.
Youth was in your beaming glance,
Love a rainbow round you;
Blushing trees began to dance,
Wreaths of roses crowned you.
And I called your name, and woke
To the cuckoo's calling;
And you waned in waning smoke,
As the rain was falling.
Had the cuckoo called "Adieu,"
Ere the day was breaking?
All the old wounds bled anew
Between sleep and waking.
We are so tired; we ask no more
Than just to slip out by Life's door;
And leave behind the noisy rout
And everlasting turn about.
Once it seemed well to run on too
With her importunate, fevered crew,
And snatch amid the frantic strife
Some morsel from the board of life.
But we are tired. At Life's crude hands
We ask no gift she understands;
But kneel to him she hates to crave
The absolution of the grave.
Is this the End? This handful of brown earth
For all releasing elements to take
And free for ever from the bonds of birth?
Or will true life from Life's disguises break,
Called to that vast confederacy of minds
Which casts all flesh as chaff to all the winds?