Page images

The three men who did most abhor Their life in Paris yesterday,

So killed themselves and now, enthroned Each on his copper couch, they lay

Fronting me, waiting to be owned.

I thought, and think, their sin 's atoned.


Poor men, God made, and all for that!
The reverence struck me; o'er each head
Religiously was hung its hat,

Each coat dripped by the owner's bed,
Sacred from touch: each had his berth,
His bounds, his proper place of rest,
Who last night tenanted on earth

Some arch, where twelve such slept abreast, Unless the plain asphalte seemed best.


How did it happen, my poor boy?
You wanted to be Buonaparte
And have the Tuileries for toy,

And could not, so it broke your
You, old one by his side, I judge,

Were, red as blood, a socialist,


A leveller! Does the Empire grudge
You've gained what no Republic missed?
Be quiet, and unclench your fist!

[merged small][ocr errors]

Or black,


why, he was red in vain,

poor fellow that is blue!
What fancy was it, turned your brain?
Oh, women were the prize for you !
Money gets women, cards and dice
Get money, and ill-luck gets just
The copper couch and one clear nice
Cool squirt of water o'er your bust,
The right thing to extinguish lust!


It's wiser being good than bad;
It's safer being meek than fierce :

It's fitter being sane than mad.

My own hope is, a sun will pierce

The thickest cloud earth ever stretched;
That, after Last, returns the First,
Though a wide compass round be fetched;
That what began best, can't end worst,
Nor what God blessed once, prove accurst.




ON the first of the Feast of Feasts,
The Dedication Day,

When the Levites joined the Priests
At the Altar in robed array,
Gave signal to sound and say,


When the thousands, rear and van,
Swarming with one accord,
Became as a single man

(Look, gesture, thought and word)
In praising and thanking the Lord,-


When the singers lift up their voice,
And the trumpets made endeavor,
Sounding, "In God rejoice!"

Saying, "In Him rejoice
Whose mercy endureth forever!"


Then the Temple filled with a cloud,
Even the House of the Lord;

Porch bent and pillar bowed:

For the presence of the Lord,

In the glory of His cloud,

Had filled the House of the Lord.


Gone now! All gone across the dark so far, Sharpening fast, shuddering ever, shutting still,

Dwindling into the distance, dies that star

Which came, stood, opened once! We gazed our fill With upturned faces on as real a Face

That, stooping from grave music and mild fire, Took in our homage, made a visible place

Through many a depth of glory, gyre on gyre, For the dim human tribute. Was this true? Could man indeed avail, mere praise of his, To help by rapture God's own rapture too, Thrill with a heart's red tinge that pure pale bliss? Why did it end? Who failed to beat the breast, And shriek, and throw the arms protesting wide, When a first shadow showed the star addressed Itself to motion, and on either side The rims contracted as the rays retired;

The music, like a fountain's sickening pulse, Subsided on itself; awhile transpired

Some vestige of a Face no pangs convulse,
No prayers retard; then even this was gone,
Lost in the night at last. We, lone and left
Silent through centuries, ever and anon

Venture to probe again the vault bereft
Of all now save the lesser lights, a mist
Of multitudinous points, yet suns, men say
And this leaps ruby, this lurks amethyst,

But where may hide what came and loved our clay? How shall the sage detect in yon expanse

The star which chose to stoop and stay for us?
Unroll the records! Hailed ye such advance
Indeed, and did your hope evanish thus?
Watchers of twilight, is the worst averred?
We shall not look up, know ourselves are seen,
Speak, and be sure that we again are heard,
Acting or suffering, have the disk's serene
Reflect our life, absorb an earthly flame,

Nor doubt that, were mankind inert and numb,
Its core had never crimsoned all the same,
Nor, missing ours, its music fallen dumb?
Oh, dread succession to a dizzy post,

Sad sway of sceptre whose mere touch appalls,
Ghastly dethronement, cursed by those the most
On whose repugnant brow the crown next falls!



Witless alike of will and way divine,

How heaven's high with earth's low should intertwine! Friends, I have seen through your eyes: now use mine!


Take the least man of all mankind, as I;

Look at his head and heart, find how and why
He differs from his fellows utterly:


Then, like me, watch when nature by degrees
Grows alive round him, as in Arctic seas
(They said of old) the instinctive water flees


Toward some elected point of central rock,
As though, for its sake only, roamed the flock
Of waves about the waste: awhile they mock


With radiance caught for the occasion,- hues
Of blackest hell now, now such reds and blues
As only heaven could fitly interfuse,


The mimic monarch of the whirlpool, king
O' the current for a minute: then they wring
Up by the roots and oversweep the thing,


And hasten off, to play again elsewhere
The same part, choose another peak as bare,
They find and flatter, feast and finish there.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

About each man of us, retire, advance,
As though the pageant's end were to enhance


His worth, and once the life, his product, gained
Roll away elsewhere, keep the strife sustained,
And show thus real, a thing the North but feigned –


When you acknowledge that one world could do
All the diverse work, old yet ever new,

Divide us, each from other, me from



Why, where's the need of Temple, when the walls
O' the world are that? What use of swells and falls
From Levites' choir, Priests' cries, and trumpet-calls?


That one Face, far from vanish, rather grows,

Or decomposes but to recompose,

Become my universe that feels and knows!

« PreviousContinue »