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These mortal lullabies of pain

May bind a book, may line a box,

May serve to curl a maiden's locks; Or when a thousand moons shall wane

A man upon a stall may find,

And, passing, turn the page that tells
A grief-then changed to something else,
Sung by a long forgotten mind.

But what of that? My darken'd ways
Shall ring with music all the same;

To breathe my loss is more than fame, To utter love more sweet than praise.

LXXVII

AGAIN at Christmas did we weave

The holly round the Christmas hearth,
The silent snow possess'd the earth,
And calmly fell our Christmas-eve:

The yule-clog sparkled keen with frost,
No wing of wind the region swept,
But over all things brooding slept
The quiet sense of something lost.

As in the winters left behind,

Again our ancient games had place, The mimic picture's breathing grace, And dance and song and hoodman-blind.

Who show'd a token of distress?

No single tear, no type of pain: O sorrow, then can sorrow wane? O grief, can grief be changed to less?

O last regret, regret can die!

No-mixt with all this mystic frame,
Her deep relations are the same,
But with long use her tears are dry.

LXXVIII

"MORE than my brothers are to me"

Let this not vex thee, noble heart! I know thee of what force thou art To hold the costliest love in fee.

But thou and I are one in kind,

As moulded like in nature's mint ; And hill and wood and field did print The same sweet forms in either mind.

For us the same cold streamlet curl'd

Through all his eddying coves; the same All winds that roam the twilight came In whispers of the beauteous world.

At one dear knee we proffer'd vows,

One lesson from one book we learn'd, Ere childhood's flaxen ringlet turn'd To black and brown on kindred brows.

And so my wealth resembles thine,

But he was rich where I was poor, And he supplied my want the more As his unlikeness fitted mine.

LXXIX

If any vague desire should rise,

That holy Death ere Arthur died Had moved me kindly from his side, And dropt the dust on tearless eyes;

Then fancy shapes, as fancy can,

The grief my loss in him had wrought,
A grief as deep as life or thought,
But stay'd in peace with God and man.

I make a picture in the brain;

I hear the sentence that he speaks;
He bears the burthen of the weeks,

But turns his burthen into gain.

His credit thus shall set me free;

And, influence-rich to soothe and save,
Unused example from the grave

Reach out dead hands to comfort me.

LXXX

COULD I have said while he was here

My love shall now no further range ; There cannot come a mellower change, For now is love mature in ear."

Love, then, had hope of richer store:
What end is here to my complaint?

This haunting whisper makes me faint, "More years had made me love thee more."

But Death returns an answer sweet:

"My sudden frost was sudden gain, And gave all ripeness to the grain, It might have drawn from after-heat."

LXXXI

I WAGE not any feud with Death

For changes wrought on form and face; No lower life that earth's embrace May breed with him, can fright my faith.

Eternal process moving on,

From state to state the spirit walks
And these are but the shatter'd stalks

Or ruin'd chrysalis of one.

Nor blame I Death, because he bare
The use of virtue out of earth :
I know transplanted human worth
Will bloom to profit, otherwhere.

For this alone on Death I wreak

The wrath that garners in my heart;
He put our lives so far apart
We cannot hear each other speak.

LXXXII

DIP down upon the northern shore,
O sweet new-year delaying long;
Thou doest expectant nature wrong;

Delaying long, delay no more.

What stays thee from the clouded noons, Thy sweetness from its proper place? Can trouble live with April days,

Or sadness in the summer moons?

Bring orchis, bring the foxglove spire,
The little speedwell's darling blue
Deep tulips dash'd with fiery dew,
Laburnums, dropping-wells of fire.

O thou, new-year, delaying long,

Delayest the sorrow in my blood, That longs to burst a frozen bud, And flood a fresher throat with song.

LXXXIII

WHEN I contemplate all alone,

The life that had been thine below,
And fix my thoughts on all the glow
To which thy crescent would have grown ;

I see thee sitting crown'd with good,
A central warmth diffusing bliss

In glance and smile, and clasp and kiss, On all the branches of thy blood;

Thy blood, my friend, and partly mine;
For now the day was drawing on,

When thou should'st link thy life with one Of mine own house, and boys of thine

Had babbled "Uncle" on my knee;
But that remorseless iron hour
Made cypress of her orange flower,
Despair of Hope, and earth of thee.

I seem to meet their least desire,

To clap their cheeks, to call them mine.
I see their unborn faces shine

Beside the never-lighted fire.

I see myself an honour'd guest,
Thy partner in the flowery walk
Of letters, genial table-talk,

Or deep dispute, and graceful jest:

While now thy prosperous labour fills
The lips of men with honest praise,
And sun by sun the happy days
Descend below the golden hills

With promise of a morn as fair;

And all the train of bounteous hours
Conduct by paths of growing powers,

To reverence and the silver hair

;

Till slowly worn her earthly robe,

Her lavish mission richly wrought, Leaving great legacies of thought, Thy spirit should fail from off the globe;

What time mine own might also flee,

As link'd with thine in love and fate, And, hovering o'er the dolorous strait To the other shore, involved in thee,

Arrive at last the blessed goal,

And He that died in Holy Land Would reach us out the shining hand, And take us as a single soul.

What reed was that on which I leant?
Ah, backward fancy, wherefore wake
The old bitterness again, and break
The low beginnings of content.

LXXXIV

THIS truth came borne with bier and pall,
I felt it, when I sorrow'd most,
'Tis better to have loved and lost,
Than never to have loved at all-

O true in word, and tried in deed,
Demanding, so to bring relief
To this which is our common grief,
What kind of life is that I lead ;

And whether trust in things above,

Be dimm'd of sorrow, or sustain'd;
And whether love for him have drain'd

My capabilities of love;

Your words have virtue such as draws

A faithful answer from the breast,
Thro' light reproaches, half exprest,

And loyal unto kindly laws.

My blood an even tenor kept,

Till on mine ear this message falls,
That in Vienna's fatal walls

God's finger touch'd him, and he slept.

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