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Beyond the wild haunts of the mockers-- Far in the distance and gray, Floateth that sorrowful spirit Away, and away, and away.
Pale phantoms fly past it, like shadows: Dim eyes that are blinded with tears; Old faces all white with affliction-- The ghosts of the wasted dead years!
"Soul that hath ruined us, shiver And moan when you know us," they cry-- "Behold, I was part of thy substance!"-- "And I"--saith another--"and I!"
Drifting from starless abysses Into the ether sublime, Where is no upward nor downward, Nor region nor record of Time!
Out of the Body for ever No refuge--no succour nor stay-- Floated that sorrowful Spirit Away, and away, and away.
To N. D. Stenhouse, Esq.
Dark days have pa.s.sed, but you who taught me then To look upon the world with trustful eyes, Are not forgotten! Quick to sympathise With n.o.ble thoughts, I've dreamt of moments when Your low voice filled with strains of fairer skies!
Stray breaths of Grecian song that went and came, Like floating fragrance from some quiet glen In those far hills which shine with cla.s.sic fame Of pa.s.sioned nymphs and grand-browed G.o.d-like men!
I sometimes fear my heart hath lost the same Sweet sense of harmony; but _this_ I know That Beauty waits on you _where'er_ you go, Because she loveth child-like Faith! Her bowers Are rich for it with glad perennial flowers.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
A lofty Type of all her s.e.x, I ween, My English brothers, though your wayward race Now slight the Soul that never wore a screen, And loved too well to keep her n.o.ble place!
Ah, bravest Woman that our World hath seen (A light in s.p.a.ces wild and tempest-tost), In every verse of thine, behold, we trace The full reflection of an earnest face And hear the scrawling of an eager pen!
O sisters! knowing what you've loved and lost, I ask where shall we find its like, and when?
That dear heart with its pa.s.sion sorrow-crost, And pathos rippling, like a brook in June Amongst the roses of a windless noon.
Sir Walter Scott
The Bard of ancient lore! Like one forlorn, He turned, enamoured, to the silent Past; And searching down its mazes gray and vast, As you might find the blossom by the thorn, He found fair things in barren places cast And brought them up into the light of morn.
Lo! Truth, resplendent, as a tropic dawn, Shines always through his wond'rous pictures! Hence The many quick emotions which are born Of an Imagination so intense!
The chargers' hoofs come tearing up the sward-- The claymores rattle in the restless sheath; You close his page, and almost look abroad For Highland glens and windy leagues of heath.
Let me here endeavour to draw the fair distinctions between the great writers, or some of the great writers, of Scott's day; borrowing at the same time a later name. I shall start with that strange figure, Percy Bysshe Sh.e.l.ley.
He was too subjective to be merely a descriptive poet, too metaphysical to be vague, and too imaginative to be didactic.
As Scott was the most dramatic, Wordsworth the most profound, Byron the most pa.s.sionate, so Sh.e.l.ley was the most spiritual writer of his time. Scott's poetry was the result of vivid emotion, Wordsworth's of quiet observation, Byron's of pa.s.sion, and Sh.e.l.ley's of pa.s.sion and reflection. Scott races like a torrent, Byron rolls like a sea, Wordsworth ripples into a lake, Tennyson flows like a river, and Sh.e.l.ley gushes like a fountain.
As Tennyson is the most harmonious, so Sh.e.l.ley is the most musical of modern bards. I fear to touch upon that grand old man, Coleridge; he appears to me so utterly apart from his contemporaries. He stands, like Teneriffe, alone. Can I liken him to a magnificent thunder-scorched crag with its summits eternally veiled in vapour?--H.K.
The Bereaved One
She sleeps--and I see through a shadowy haze, Where the hopes of the past and the dreams that I cherished In the sunlight of brighter and happier days, As the mists of the morning, have faded and perished.
She sleeps--and will waken to bless me no more; Her life has died out like the gleam on the river, And the bliss that illumined my bosom of yore Has fled from its dwelling for ever and ever.
I had thought in this life not to travel alone, I had hoped for a mate in my joys and my sorrow-- But the face of my idol is colder than stone, And my path will be lonely without her to-morrow.
I was hoping to bask in the light of her smile When Fortune and Fame with their laurels had crown'd me-- But the fire in her eyes has been dying the while, And the thorns of affliction are planted around me.
There are those that may vent all their grief in their tears And weep till the past is away in the distance; But this wreck of the dream of my sunshiny years Will hang like a cloud o'er the rest of existence.
In the depth of my soul she shall ever remain; My thoughts, like the angels, shall hover about her; For our hearts have been reft and divided in pain And what is this world to be left in without her?
Here, pent about by office walls And barren eyes all day, 'Tis sweet to think of waterfalls Two hundred miles away!
I would not ask you, friends, to brook An old, old truth from me, If I could shut a Poet's book Which haunts me like the Sea!
He saith to me, this Poet saith, So many things of light, That I have found a fourfold faith, And gained a twofold sight.
He telleth me, this Poet tells, How much of G.o.d is seen Amongst the deep-mossed English dells, And miles of gleaming green.
From many a black Gethsemane, He leads my bleeding feet To where I hear the Morning Sea Round shining s.p.a.ces beat!
To where I feel the wind, which brings A sound of running creeks, And blows those dark, unpleasant things, The sorrows, from my cheeks.
I'll shut mine eyes, my Poet choice, And spend the day with thee; I'll dream thou art a fountain voice Which G.o.d hath sent to me!
And far beyond these office walls My thoughts shall even stray, And watch the wilful waterfalls, Two hundred miles away.
For, if I know not of thy deeds, And darling Kentish downs, I've seen the deep, wild Dungog fells, And _hate_ the heart of towns!
Then, ho! for beaming bank and brake, Far-folded hills among, Where Williams,* like a silver snake, Draws winding lengths along!
-- * A tributary of the river Hunter, after Hunter, on which Dungog stands.
And ho! for stormy mountain cones, Where headlong Winter leaps, What time the gloomy swamp-oak groans, And weeps and wails and weeps.
_There_, friends, are spots of sleepy green, Where one may hear afar, O'er fifteen leagues of waste, I ween, A moaning harbour bar!