Page images
PDF
EPUB

Far off from human neighbourhood,

Thou wert born, on a summer morn,
A mile beneath the cedar-wood.

Thy bounteous forehead was not fann'd
With breezes from our oaken glades,
But thou wert nursed in some delicious land
Of lavish lights, and floating shades:
And flattering thy childish thought
The oriental fairy brought,

At the moment of thy birth,

From old well-heads of haunted rills,
And the hearts of purple hills,

And shadow'd coves on a sunny shore,
The choicest wealth of all the earth,
Jewel or shell, or starry ore,

To deck thy cradle, Eleänore.

2

Or the yellow-banded bees,
Thro' half-open lattices
Coming in the scented breeze,

Fed thee, a child, lying alone,

With whitest honey in fairy gardens cull'd— A glorious child, dreaming alone,

In silk-soft folds, upon yielding down,

With the hum of swarming bees

Into dreamful slumber lull'd.

3

Who may minister to thee?

Summer herself should minister

To thee, with fruitage golden-rinded
On golden salvers, or it may be,
Youngest Autumn, in a bower

Grape-thicken'd from the light, and blinded.
With many a deep-hued bell-like flower

Of fragrant trailers, when the air

Sleepeth over all the heaven,

And the crag that fronts the Even,
All along the shadowing shore,

Crimsons over an inland mere,

Eleänore!

4

How may full-sail'd verse express,
How may measured words adore
The full-flowing harmony

Of thy swan-like stateliness,
Eleänore?

The luxuriant symmetry

Of thy floating gracefulness,
Eleänere?

Every turn and glance of thine,
Every lineament divine,
Eleänore,

And the steady sunset glow,
That stays upon thee? For in thee
Is nothing sudden, nothing single;
Like two streams of incense free
From one censer, in one shrine,
Thought and motion mingle,
Motions flow

Mingle ever.

To one another, even as tho'
They were modulated so

To an unheard melody,
Which lives about thee, and a sweep
Of richest pauses, evermore
Drawn from each other mellow-deep;
Who may express thee, Eleänore?

5

I stand before thee, Eleänore;

I see thy beauty gradually unfold,
Daily and hourly, more and more.
I muse, as in a trance, the while

Slowly, as from a cloud of gold,
Comes out thy deep ambrosial smile.
I muse, as in a trance, whene'er

The languors of thy love-deep eyes
Float on to me. I would I were

So tranced, so rapt in ecstacies,
To stand apart, and to adore,
Gazing on thee for evermore,
Serene, imperial Eleänore!

6

Sometimes, with most intensity

Gazing, I seem to see

Thought folded over thought, smiling asleep,
Slowly awaken'd, grow so full and deep
In thy large eyes, that, overpower'd quite,
I cannot veil, or droop my sight,
But am as nothing in its light:

As tho' a star, in inmost heaven set,
Ev'n while we gaze on it,

Should slowly round his orb, and slowly grow
To a full face, there like a sun remain
Fix'd-then as slowly fade again,

And draw itself to what it was before;
So full, so deep, so slow,

Thought seems to come and go
In thy large eyes, imperial Eleänore.

7

As thunder-clouds that, hung on high,
Koord the world with doubt and fear,
Floating thro' an evening atmosphere,
Grow golden all about the sky;

In thee all passion becomes passionless
Touch'd by thy spirit's mellowness,
Losing his fire and active might
In a silent meditation,

Falling into a still delight,

And luxury of contemplation : As waves that up a quiet cove Rolling slide, and lying still

Shadow forth the banks at will:

Or sometimes they swell and move,
Pressing up against the land,
With motions of the outer sea:
And the self-same influence
Controlleth all the soul and sense
Of Passion gazing upon thee.
His bow-string slacken'd, languid Love,
Leaning his cheek upon his hand,
Droops both his wings, regarding thee,
And so would languish evermore,

Serene, imperial Eleänore.

8

But when I see thee roam, with tresses unconfined, While the amorous, odorous wind

Breathes low between the sunset and the moon; Or, in a shadowy saloon,

On silken cushions half reclined;

I watch thy grace; and in its place
My heart a charmed slumber keeps,
While I muse upon thy face;

And a languid fire creeps

Thro' my veins to all my frame,

Dissolvingly and slowly soon
From thy rose-red lips MY.
Floweth ; and then, as in a swoon
With dinning sound my ears are rife,
My tremulous tongue faltereth,

name

I lose my colour, I lose my breath,
I drink the cup of a costly death,

[ocr errors]

Brimm'd with delirious draughts of warmest life.
I die with my delight, before

I hear what I would hear from thee;

Yet tell my name again to me,

I would be dying evermore,

So dying ever, Eleänore.

(1853)

LXX

THE MILLER'S DAUGHTER

I SEE the wealthy miller yet,
His double chin, his portly size,
And who that knew him could forget
The busy wrinkles round his eyes ?
The slow wise smile that, round about
His dusty forehead drily curl'd,
Seem'd half-within and half-without,
And full of dealings with the world?

In yonder chair I see him sit,

Three fingers round the old silver cup-
I see his gray eyes twinkle yet

At his own jest gray eyes lit up
With summer lightnings of a soul

So full of summer warmth, so glad,
So healthy, sound, and clear and whole,
ce can make me sad.

His memory scarce

Yet fill my glass: give me one kiss:
My own sweet Alice, we must die.
There's somewhat in this world amiss
Shall be unriddled by and by.
There's somewhat flows to us in life,
But more is taken quite away.
Pray, Alice, pray, my darling wife,
That we may die the self-same day.

Have I not found a happy earth?

I least should breathe a thought of pain.
Would God renew me from my birth
I'd almost live my life again.
So sweet it seems with thee to walk,
. And once again to woo thee mine-
It seems in after-dinner talk

Across the walnuts and the wine-
To be the long and listless boy
Late-left an orphan of the squire,
Where this old mansion mounted high
Looks down upon the village spire:
For even here, where I and you

Have lived and loved alone so long,
Each morn my sleep was broken thro'
By some wild skylark's matin song.
And oft I heard the tender dove

[ocr errors]

alone, In firry woodlands making moan; But ere I saw your eyes, my love, I had no motion of my own. For scarce my life with fancy play'd Before I dream'd that pleasant dream— Still hither thither, idly sway'd

Like those long mosses in the stream.

Or from the bridge I'lean'd to hear
The milldam rushing down with noise,
And see the minnows everywhere

In crystal eddies glance and poise,
The tall flag-flowers when they sprung
Below the range of stepping-stones,
Or those three chestnuts near, that hung
In masses thick with milky cones.

But, Alice, what an hour was that,
When after roving in the woods
('Twas April then), I came and sat

Below the chestnuts, when their buds
Were glistening to the breezy blue;
And on the slope, an absent fool,
I cast me down, nor thought of you,
But angled in the higher pool.

A love-song I had somewhere read,
An echo from a measured strain,

« PreviousContinue »