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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 21

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II

Laura

If Laura--lady of the flower-soft face-- Should light upon these verses, she may take The tenderest line, and through its pulses trace What man can suffer for a woman's sake.

For in the nights that burn, the days that break, A thin pale figure stands in Pa.s.sion's place, And peace comes not, nor yet the perished grace Of youth, to keep old faiths and fires awake.

Ah! marvellous maid. Life sobs, and sighing saith, "She left me, fleeting like a fluttered dove; But I would have a moment of her breath, So I might taste the sweetest sense thereof, And catch from blossoming, honeyed lips of love Some faint, some fair, some dim, delicious death."



III

By a River

By red-ripe mouth and brown, luxurious eyes Of her I love, by all your sweetness shed In far, fair days, on one whose memory flies To faithless lights, and gracious speech gainsaid, I pray you, when yon river-path I tread, Make with the woodlands some soft compromise, Lest they should vex me into fruitless sighs With visions of a woman's gleaming head!

For every green and golden-hearted thing That gathers beauty in that shining place, Beloved of beams and wooed by wind and wing, Is rife with glimpses of her marvellous face; And in the whispers of the lips of Spring The music of her lute-like voice I trace.

IV

Attila

What though his feet were shod with sharp, fierce flame, And death and ruin were his daily squires, The Scythian, helped by Heaven's thunders, came: The time was ripe for G.o.d's avenging fires.

Lo! loose, lewd trulls, and lean, luxurious liars Had brought the fair, fine face of Rome to shame, And made her one with sins beyond a name-- That queenly daughter of imperial sires!

The blood of elders like the blood of sheep, Was dashed across the circus. Once while din And dust and lightnings, and a draggled heap Of beast-slain men made lords with laughter leap, Night fell, with rain. The earth, so sick of sin, Had turned her face into the dark to weep.

V

A Reward

Because a steadfast flame of clear intent Gave force and beauty to full-actioned life; Because his way was one of firm ascent, Whose stepping-stones were hewn of change and strife; Because as husband loveth n.o.ble wife He loved fair Truth; because the thing he meant To do, that thing he did, nor paused, nor bent In face of poor and pale conclusions; yea!

Because of this, how fares the Leader dead?

What kind of mourners weep for him to-day?

What golden shroud is at his funeral spread?

Upon his brow what leaves of laurel, say?

_About his breast is tied a sackcloth grey, And knots of thorns deface his lordly head._

VI

To----

A handmaid to the genius of thy song Is sweet, fair Scholarship. 'Tis she supplies The fiery spirit of the pa.s.sioned eyes With subtle syllables, whose notes belong To some chief source of perfect melodies; And glancing through a laurelled, lordly throng Of shining singers, lo! my vision flies To William Shakespeare! He it is whose strong, Full, flute-like music haunts thy stately verse.

A worthy Levite of his court thou art!

One sent among us to defeat the curse That binds us to the Actual. Yea, thy part, Oh, lute-voiced lover! is to lull the heart Of love repelled, its darkness to disperse.

VII

The Stanza of Childe Harold

Who framed the stanza of Childe Harold? He It was who, halting on a stormy sh.o.r.e, Knew well the lofty voice which evermore, In grand distress, doth haunt the sleepless sea With solemn sounds. And as each wave did roll Till one came up, the mightiest of the whole, To sweep and surge across the vacant lea, Wild words were wedded to wild melody.

This poet must have had a speechless sense Of some dead summer's boundless affluence; Else, whither can we trace the pa.s.sioned lore Of Beauty, steeping to the very core His royal verse, and that rare light which lies About it, like a sunset in the skies?

VIII

A Living Poet

He knows the sweet vexation in the strife Of Love with Time, this bard who fain would stray To fairer place beyond the storms of life, With astral faces near him day by day.

In deep-mossed dells the mellow waters flow Which best he loves; for there the echoes, rife With rich suggestions of his long ago, Astarte, pa.s.s with thee! And, far away, Dear southern seasons haunt the dreamy eye: Spring, flower-zoned, and Summer, warbling low In ta.s.selled corn, alternate come and go, While gypsy Autumn, splashed from heel to thigh With vine-blood, treads the leaves; and, halting nigh, Wild Winter bends across a beard of snow.

IX

Dante and Virgil

When lost Francesca sobbed her broken tale Of love and sin and boundless agony, While that wan spirit by her side did wail And bite his lips for utter misery-- The grief which could not speak, nor hear, nor see-- So tender grew the superhuman face Of one who listened, that a mighty trace Of superhuman woe gave way, and pale The sudden light up-struggled to its place; While all his limbs began to faint and fail With such excess of pity. But, behind, The Roman Virgil stood--the calm, the wise-- With not a shadow in his regal eyes, A stately type of all his stately kind.

X

Rest

Sometimes we feel so spent for want of rest, We have no thought beyond. I know to-day, When tired of bitter lips and dull delay With faithless words, I cast mine eyes upon The shadows of a distant mountain-crest, And said "That hill must hide within its breast Some secret glen secluded from the sun.

Oh, mother Nature! would that I could run Outside to thee; and, like a wearied guest, Half blind with lamps, and sick of feasting, lay An aching head on thee. Then down the streams The moon might swim, and I should feel her grace, While soft winds blew the sorrows from my face, So quiet in the fellowship of dreams."

XI

After Parting

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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 21 summary

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