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Ready in heart and ready in hand,
March with banner and bugle and fife
To the death, for their native land.

2

Maud with her exquisite face,

And wild voice pealing up to the sunny sky,
And feet like sunny gems on an English green,
Maud in the light of her youth and her grace,
Singing of Death, and of Honour that cannot die,
Till I well could weep for a time so sordid and mean,
And myself so languid and base.

Silence, beautiful voice!

3

Be still, for you only trouble the mind
With a joy in which I cannot rejoice,
A glory I shall not find.

Still! I will hear you no more,

For your sweetness hardly leaves me a choice
But to move to the meadow and fall before
Her feet on the meadow grass, and adore,
Not her, who is neither courtly nor kind,
Not her, not her, but a voice.

VI

I

MORNING arises stormy and pale,
No sun, but a wannish glare

In fold upon fold of hueless cloud,

And the budded peaks of the wood are bow'd
Caught and cuff'd by the gale:

I had fancied it would be fair.

2

Whom but Maud should I meet
Last night, when the sunset burn'd
On the blossom'd gable-ends

At the head of the village street,
Whom but Maud should I meet?

And she touch'd my hand with a smile so sweet

She made me divine amends

For a courtesy not return'd.

3

And thus a delicate spark
Of glowing and growing light

Maud

Thro' the livelong hours of the dark
Kept itself warm in the heart of my dreams
Ready to burst in a colour'd flame;
Till at last when the morning came

In a cloud, it faded, and seems
But an ashen-gray delight.

What if with her sunny hair,
And smile as sunny as cold,
She meant to weave me a snare
Of some coquettish deceit,
Cleopatra-like as of old

To entangle me when we met,

To have her lion roll in a silken net
And fawn at a victor's feet.

5

Ah, what shall I be at fifty
Should Nature keep me alive,
If I find the world so bitter
When I am but twenty-five?
Yet, if she were not a cheat,
If Maud were all that she seem'd,
And her smile were all that I dream'd,

Then the world were not so bitter

But a smile could make it sweet.

6

What if tho' her eye seem'd full
Of a kind intent to me,
What if that dandy-despot, he,
That jewell'd mass of millinery,
That oil'd and curl'd Assyrian Bull
Smelling of musk and of insolence,
Her brother, from whom I keep aloof,
Who wants the finer politic sense
To mask, tho' but in his own behoof,
With a glassy smile his brutal scorn-
What if he had told her yestermorn
How prettily for his own sweet sake
A face of tenderness might be feign'd,
And a moist mirage in desert eyes,
That so, when the rotten hustings shake
In another month to his brazen lies,
A wretched vote may be gain'd.

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7

For a raven ever croaks, at my side,

Keep watch and ward, keep watch and ward,
Or thou wilt prove their tool.

Yea too, myself from myself I guard,
For often a man's own angry pride
Is cap and bells for a fool.

8

Perhaps the smile and tender tone
Came out of her pitying womanhood,
For am I not, am I not, here alone
So many a summer since she died,
My mother, who was so gentle and good?
Living alone in an empty house,
Here half-hid in the gleaming wood,
Where I hear the dead at midday moan,
And the shrieking rush of the wainscot mouse,
And my own sad name in corners cried,
When the shiver of dancing leaves is thrown
About its echoing chambers wide,

Till a morbid hate and horror have grown
Of a world in which I have hardly mixt,
And a morbid eating lichen fixt

On a heart half-turn'd to stone.

9

O heart of stone, are you flesh, and caught
By that you swore to withstand?

For what was it else within me wrought

But, I fear, the new strong wine of love,

That made my tongue so stammer and trip
When I saw the treasured splendour, her hand
Come sliding out of her sacred glove,
And the sunlight broke from her lip?

ΙΟ

I have play'd with her when a child;
She remembers it now we meet.
Ah well, well, well, I may be beguiled
By some coquettish deceit.

Yet, if she were not a cheat,

If Maud were all that she seem'd,

And her smile had all that I dream'd,
Then the world were not so bitter
But a smile could make it sweet.

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And once, but once, she lifted her eyes,

And suddenly, sweetly, strangely blush'd

To find they were met by my own;

And suddenly, sweetly, my heart beat stronger And thicker, until I heard no longer

The snowy-banded, dilettante,

Delicate-handed priest intone;

And thought, is it pride, and mused and sigh'd "No surely, now it cannot be pride."

IX

I WAS walking a mile,

More than a mile from the shore,
The sun look'd out with a smile
Betwixt the cloud and the moor,

And riding at set of day
Over the dark moor land,
Rapidly riding far away,

She waved to me with her hand.
There were two at her side,
Something flash'd in the sun,
Down by the hill I saw them ride,
In a moment they were gone :
Like a sudden spark

Struck vainly in the night,
And back returns the dark
With no more hope of light.

X

I

SICK, am I sick of a jealous dread?

Was not one of the two at her side
This new-made lord, whose splendour plucks
The slavish hat from the villager's head?
'Whose old grand-father has lately died,
Gone to a blacker pit, for whom
Grimy nakedness dragging his trucks
And laying his trams in a poison'd gloom
Wrought, till he crept from a gutted mine
Master of half a servile shire,

And left his coal all turn'd into gold
To a grandson, first of his noble line,
Rich in the grace all women desire,
Strong in the power that all men adore,
And simper and set their voices lower,
And soften as if to a girl, and hold
Awe-stricken breaths at a work divine,
Seeing his gewgaw castle shine,
New as his title, built last year,
There amid perky larches and pine,
And over the sullen-purple moor
(Look at it) pricking a cockney ear.

2

What, has he found my jewel out?
For one of the two that rode at her side
Bound for the Hall, I am sure was he:
Bound for the Hall, and I think for a bride.
Blithe would her brother's acceptance be.

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