Page images
PDF
EPUB

Brought visionary looks,
As yet in their astonied hearing rung

The strange, sweet angel-tongue.
The magi of the East, in sandals worn,

Knelt reverent, sweeping round,
With long pale beards, their gifts upon the ground,

The incense, myrrh and gold
These baby hands were impotent to hold.
So, let all earthlies and celestials wait

Upon thy royal state.
Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!

[ocr errors][merged small]

I am not proud-meek angels, ye invest
New meeknesses to hear such utterance rest
On mortal lips,—-I am not proud'-not proud !
Albeit in my flesh God sent his Son,
Albeit over Him my head is bowed
As others bow before Him, still mine heart
Bows lower than their knees. O centuries
That roll, in vision, your futurities

My future grave athwart, --
Whose murmurs seem to reach me while I keep

Watch o'er this sleep,
Say of me as the Heavenly said — Thou art
The blessedest of women!'-blessedest,
Not holiest, not noblest-no high name,
Whose height misplaced may pierce me like a shame,
When I sit meek in heaven!

For me, for me God knows that I am feeble like the rest 1I often wandered forth, more child than maiden. Among the midnight hills of Galilee

Whose summits looked heaven-laden,

Listening to silence as it seemed to be
God's voice, so soft yet strong—so fain to press
Upon my heart as Heaven did on the height,
And waken up its shadows by a light,
And show its vileness by a holiness.
Then I knelt down most silent like the night,

Too self-renounced for fears,
Raising my small face to the boundless blue
Whose stars did mix and tremble in my tears.
God heard them falling after—with his dew.

VII.
So, seeing my corruption, can I see
This Incorruptible now born of me,
This fair new Innocence no sun did chance
To shine on, (for even Adam was no child)
Created from my nature all defiled,
This mystery, from out mine ignorance, —
Nor feel the blindness, stain, corruption, more
Than others do, or I did heretofore?-
Can hands wherein such burden pure has been,
Not open with the cry unclean, unclean,'
More oft than any else beneath the skies?

Ah King, ah Christ, ah son!
The kine, the shepherds, the abasèd wise,

Must all less lowly wait
Than I, upon thy state.-
Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!

VIII.

Art Thou a King, then? Come, his universe,

Come, crown me Him a King!
Pluck rays from all such stars as never fling

Their light where fell a curse,

And make a crowning for this kingly brow!-
What is my word ?—Each empyreal star

Sits in a sphere afar
In shining ambuscade.
The child-brow, crowned by none,
Keeps its unchildlike shade.
Sleep, sleep, my crownless One!

18.

Unchildlike shade!-No other babe doth wear
An aspect very sorrowful, as thou.-
No small babe-smiles, my watching heart has seen,
To float like speech the speechless lips between.
No dovelike cooing in the golden air,
No quick short joys of leaping babyhood.

Alas, our earthly good
In heaven thought evil, seems too good for Thee:

Yet, sleep, my weary One!

And then the drear sharp tongue of prophecy,
With the dread sense of things which shall be done,
Doth sinite me inly, like a sword! a sword ?-
(That ‘smites the Shepherd.') Then, I think aloud
The words “despised,'— rejected,'—every word
Recoiling into darkness as I view

The DARLING on my knee.
Bright angels,-move not!-lest ye stir the cloud
Betwixt my soul and His futurity!
I must not die, with mother's work to do,

And could not live—and see.

XI. .
It is enough to bear
This image still and fair-

This holier in sleep,
Than a saint at prayer:
This aspect of a child
Who never sinned or smiled ;
This Presence in an infant's face;
This sadness most like love,
This love than love more deep,
This weakness like omnipotence
It is so strong to move.
Awful is this watching place,
Awful what I see from hence-

A king, without regalia,
· A God, without the thunder,

A child, without the heart for play;
Ay, a Creator, rent asunder
From his first glory and cast away

On His own world, for me alone
To hold in hands created, crying—Son!.

XII.
That tear fell not on thee,
Beloved, yet thou stirrest in thy slumber!
Thou, stirring not for glad sounds out of number
Which through the vibratory palm-trees run

From summer wind and bird,
So quickly hast thou heard
A tear fall silently?
Wak’st thou, O loving One ?-

AN ISLAND.

All goeth but Goddis will.-OLD POET.

I.

My dream is of an island place

Which distant seas keep lonely, A little island, on whose face

The stars are watchers only.
Those bright still stars! they need not seem
Brighter or stiller in my dream.

II.
An island full of hills and dells,

All rumpled and uneven
· With green recesses, sudden swells,

And odorous valleys driven
So deep and straight, that always there
The wind is cradled to soft air.

III.
Hills running up to heaven for light

Through woods that half-way ran!
As if the wild earth mimicked right

The wilder heart of man.
Only it shall be greener far
And gladder than hearts ever are.

IV.

More like, perhaps, that mountain piece

Of Dante's paradise,
Disrupt to an hundred hills like these,

In falling from the skies;

« PreviousContinue »