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A still salt pool, lock'd in with bars of sand;
Left on the shore; that hears all night
The plunging seas draw backward from the land
Their moon-led waters white.

A star that with the choral starry dance
Join'd not, but stood, and standing saw
The hollow orb of moving Circumstance
Roll'd round by one fix'd law.

Back on herself her serpent pride had curl'd.
"No voice," she shriek'd in that lone hall,
"No voice breaks thro' the stillness of this world:
One deep, deep silence all!"

She, mouldering with the dull earth's mouldering sod,
Inwrapt tenfold in slothful shame,
Lay there exiled from eternal God,
Lost to her place and name;

And death and life she hated equally,
And nothing saw, for her despair,
But dreadful time, dreadful eternity,
No comfort anywhere;

Remaining utterly confused with fears,
And ever worse with growing time,
And ever unrelieved by dismal tears,
And all alone in crime:

Shut up as in a crumbling tomb, girt round
With blackness as a solid wall,

Far off she seem'd to hear the dully sound
Of human footsteps fall.

As in strange lands a traveller walking slow,
In doubt and great perplexity,

A little before moon-rise hears the low
Moan of an unknown sea;

And knows not if it be thunder or a sound
Of rocks thrown down, or one deep cry

Of great wild beasts; then thinketh, "I have found
A new land, but I die."

She howl'd aloud, "I am on fire within.

There comes no murmur of reply. What is it that will take away my sin, And save me lest I die?"

So when four years were wholly finished,

She threw her royal robes away.

"Make me a cottage in the vale," she said,
"Where I may mourn and pray.

"Yet pull not down my palace towers, that are
So lightly, beautifully built:
Perchance I may return with others there
When I have purged my guilt."

(1853)

LXXVI

LADY CLARA VERE DE VERE

LADY Clara Vere de Vere,

Of me you shall not win renown :
You thought to break a country heart
For pastime, ere you went to town.
At me you smiled, but unbeguiled
I saw the snare, and I retired:
The daughter of a hundred Earls,
You are not one to be desired.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

I know you proud to bear your name,
Your pride is yet no mate for mine,

Too proud to care from whence I came.
Nor would I break for your sweet sake
A heart that doats on truer charms.

A simple maiden in her flower

Is worth a hundred coats-of-arms.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

Some meeker pupil you must find,
For were you queen of all that is,

I could not stoop to such a mind.
You sought to prove how I could love,
And my disdain is my reply.

The lion on your old stone gates
Is not more cold to you than I.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

You put strange memories in my head.
Not thrice your branching limes have blown
Since I beheld young Laurence dead.
Oh your sweet eyes, your low replies:
A great enchantress you may be;

(1853)

But there was that across his throat
Which you had hardly cared to see.
Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

When thus he met his mother's view,
She had the passions of her kind,
She spake some certain truths of you.
Indeed I heard one bitter word

That scarce is fit for you to hear;
Her manners had not that repose

Which stamps the caste of Vere de Vere.
Lady Clara Vere de Vere,

There stands a spectre in your hall :
The guilt of blood is at your door:

You changed a wholesome heart to gall.
You held your course without remorse,
To make him trust his modest worth,
And, last, you fix'd a vacant stare,

And slew him with your noble birth.

Trust me, Clara Vere de Vere,

From yon blue heavens above us bent
The grand old gardener and his wife
Smile at the claims of long descent.
Howe'er it be, it seems to me,

'Tis only noble to be good.
Kind hearts are more than coronets,
And simple faith than Norman blood.

I know you, Clara Vere de Vere:

You pine among your halls and towers:
The languid light of your proud eyes
Is wearied of the rolling hours.

In glowing health, with boundless wealth,
But sickening of a vague disease,

You know so ill to deal with time,

You needs must play such pranks as these.
Clara, Clara Vere de Vere,

If Time be heavy on your hands,
Are there no beggars at your gate,
Nor any poor about your lands ?
Oh! teach the orphan-boy to read,

Or teach the orphan girl to sew,
Pray Heaven for a human heart,

And let the foolish yeoman go.

LXXVII

THE MAY QUEEN

You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother

dear;

To-morrow 'ill be the happiest time of all the glad Newyear;

Of all the glad New-year, mother, the maddest merriest day;

For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

There's many a black black eye, they say, but none so bright as mine ;

There's Margaret and Mary, there's Kate and Caroline :
But none so fair as little Alice in all the land they say,
So I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen
o' the May.

If

I sleep so sound all night, mother, that I shall never wake, you do not call me loud when the day begins to break : But I must gather knots of flowers, and buds and garlands

gay,

For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

ye

should I see,

As I came up the valley whom think
But Robin leaning on the bridge beneath the hazel-tree?
He thought of that sharp look, mother, I gave him

yesterday,

But I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

He thought I was a ghost, mother, for I was all in white, And I ran by him without speaking, like a flash of light. They call me cruel-hearted, but I care not what they say, For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

They say he's dying all for love, but that can never be: They say his heart is breaking, mother-what is that to me?

There's many a bolder lad 'ill woo me any summer day, And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

Little Effie shall go with me to-morrow to the green,
And you'll be there, too, mother, to see me made the
Queen;

For the shepherd lads on every side 'ill come from far

away,

And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

The honeysuckle round the porch has wov'n its wavy bowers,

And by the meadow-trenches blow the faint sweet cuckooflowers;

And the wild marsh-marigold shines like fire in swamps and hollows gray,

And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

The night-winds come and go, mother, upon the meadow

grass,

And the happy stars above them seem to brighten as they

pass;

There will not be a drop of rain the whole of the live-long

day,

And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

All the valley, mother, 'ill be fresh and green and still,
And the cowslip and the crowfoot are over all the hill,
And the rivulet in the flowery dale 'ill merrily glance and

play,

For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

So you must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear,

To-morrow 'ill be the happiest time of all the glad Newyear:

To-morrow 'ill be of all the year the maddest merriest day, For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

LXXVIII

NEW-YEAR'S EVE

If you're waking call me early, call me early, mother dear, For I would see the sun rise upon the glad New-year.

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