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CHAPTER XXV.


IN MEMORIAM.


IN memory of Eric Ericson, I add a chapter of sonnets gathered from his papers, almost desiring that those only should read them who turn to the book a second time. How his papers came into my possession, will be explained afterwards.


Tumultuous rushing o'er the outstretched plains;

A wildered maze of comets and of suns;

The blood of changeless God that ever runs

With quick diastole up the immortal veins;

A phantom host that moves and works in chains;

A monstrous fiction which, collapsing, stuns

The mind to stupor and amaze at once;

A tragedy which that man best explains

Who rushes blindly on his wild career

With trampling hoofs and sound of mailed war,

Who will not nurse a life to win a tear,

But is extinguished like a falling star:--

Such will at times this life appear to me,

Until I learn to read more perfectly.


HOM. IL. v. 403.


If thou art tempted by a thought of ill,

Crave not too soon for victory, nor deem

Thou art a coward if thy safety seem

To spring too little from a righteous will:

For there is nightmare on thee, nor until

Thy soul hath caught the morning's early gleam

Seek thou to analyze the monstrous dream

By painful introversion; rather fill

Thine eye with forms thou knowest to be truth:

But see thou cherish higher hope than this;

A hope hereafter that thou shalt be fit

Calm-eyed to face distortion, and to sit

Transparent among other forms of youth

Who own no impulse save to God and bliss.


And must I ever wake, gray dawn, to know

Thee standing sadly by me like a ghost?

I am perplexed with thee, that thou shouldst cost

This Earth another turning: all aglow

Thou shouldst have reached me, with a purple show

Along far-mountain tops: and I would post

Over the breadth of seas though I were lost

In the hot phantom-chase for life, if so

Thou camest ever with this numbing sense

Of chilly distance and unlovely light;

Waking this gnawing soul anew to fight

With its perpetual load: I drive thee hence--

I have another mountain-range from whence

Bursteh a sun unutterably bright.


GALILEO.


'And yet it moves!' Ah, Truth, where wert thou then,

When all for thee they racked each piteous limb?

Wert though in Heaven, and busy with thy hymn,

When those poor hands convulsed that held thy pen?

Art thou a phantom that deceivest men

To their undoing? or dost thou watch him

Pale, cold, and silent in his dungeon dim?

And wilt thou ever speak to him again?

'It moves, it moves! Alas, my flesh was weak;

That was a hideous dream! I'll cry aloud

How the green bulk wheels sunward day by day!

Ah me! ah me! perchance my heart was proud

That I alone should know that word to speak;

And now, sweet Truth, shine upon these, I pray.'


If thou wouldst live the Truth in very deed,

Thou hast thy joy, but thou hast more of pain.

Others will live in peace, and thou be fain

To bargain with despair, and in thy need

To make thy meal upon the scantiest weed.

These palaces, for thee they stand in vain;

Thine is a ruinous hut; and oft the rain

Shall drench thee in the midnight; yea the speed

Of earth outstrip thee pilgrim, while thy feet

Move slowly up the heights. Yet will there come

Through the time-rents about thy moving cell,

An arrow for despair, and oft the hum

Of far-off populous realms where spirits dwell.


TO * * * *


Speak, Prophet of the Lord! We may not start

To find thee with us in thine ancient dress,

Haggard and pale from some bleak wilderness,

Empty of all save God and thy loud heart:

Nor with like rugged message quick to dart

Into the hideous fiction mean and base:

But yet, O prophet man, we need not less,

But more of earnest; though it is thy part

To deal in other words, if thou wouldst smite

The living Mammon, seated, not as then

In bestial quiescence grimly dight,

But thrice as much an idol-god as when

He stared at his own feet from morn to night.8


THE WATCHER.


From out a windy cleft there comes a gaze

Of eyes unearthly which go to and fro

Upon the people's tumult, for below

The nations smite each other: no amaze

Troubles their liquid rolling, or affrays

Their deep-set contemplation: steadily glow

Those ever holier eye-balls, for they grow

Liker unto the eyes of one that prays.

And if those clasped hands tremble, comes a power

As of the might of worlds, and they are holden

Blessing above us in the sunrise golden;

And they will be uplifted till that hour

Of terrible rolling which shall rise and shake

This conscious nightmare from us and we wake.


THE BELOVED DISCIPLE.




One do I see and twelve; but second there

Methinks I know thee, thou beloved one;

Not from thy nobler port, for there are none

More quiet-featured; some there are who bear

Their message on their brows, while others wear

A look of large commission, nor will shun

The fiery trial, so their work is done:

But thou hast parted with thine eyes in prayer--

Unearthly are they both; and so thy lips

Seem like the porches of the spirit land;

For thou hast laid a mighty treasure by,

Unlocked by Him in Nature, and thine eye

Burns with a vision and apocalypse

Thy own sweet soul can hardly understand.


II


A Boanerges too! Upon my heart

It lay a heavy hour: features like thine

Should glow with other message than the shine

Of the earth-burrowing levin, and the start

That cleaveth horrid gulfs. Awful and swart

A moment stoodest thou, but less divine--

Brawny and clad in ruin!--till with mine

Thy heart made answering signals, and apart

Beamed forth thy two rapt eye-balls doubly clear,

And twice as strong because thou didst thy duty,

And though affianced to immortal Beauty,

Hiddest not weakly underneath her veil

The pest of Sin and Death which maketh pale:

Henceforward be thy spirit doubly dear.9


THE LILY OF THE VALLEY.


There is not any weed but hath its shower,

There is not any pool but hath its star;

And black and muddy though the waters are,

We may not miss the glory of a flower,

And winter moons will give them magic power

To spin in cylinders of diamond spar;

And everything hath beauty near and far,

And keepeth close and waiteth on its hour.

And I when I encounter on my road

A human soul that looketh black and grim,

Shall I more ceremonious be than God?

Shall I refuse to watch one hour with him

Who once beside our deepest woe did bud

A patient watching flower about the brim.


'Tis not the violent hands alone that bring

The curse, the ravage, and the downward doom

Although to these full oft the yawning tomb

Owes deadly surfeit; but a keener sting,

A more immortal agony, will cling

To the half-fashioned sin which would assume

Fair Virtue's garb. The eye that sows the gloom

With quiet seeds of Death henceforth to spring

What time the sun of passion burning fierce

Breaks through the kindly cloud of circumstance;

The bitter word, and the unkindly glance,

The crust and canker coming with the years,

Are liker Death than arrows, and the lance

Which through the living heart at once doth pierce.


SPOKEN OF SEVERAL PHILOSOPHERS.


I pray you, all ye men, who put your trust

In moulds and systems and well-tackled gear,

Holding that Nature lives from year to year

In one continual round because she must--

Set me not down, I pray you, in the dust

Of all these centuries, like a pot of beer,

A pewter-pot disconsolately clear,

Which holds a potful, as is right and just.

I will grow clamorous--by the rood, I will,

If thus ye use me like a pewter pot.

Good friend, thou art a toper and a sot--

I will not be the lead to hold thy swill,

Nor any lead: I will arise and spill

Thy silly beverage, spill it piping hot.


Nature, to him no message dost thou bear,

Who in thy beauty findeth not the power

To gird himself more strongly for the hour

Of night and darkness. Oh, what colours rare

The woods, the valleys, and the mountains wear

To him who knows thy secret, and in shower

And fog, and ice-cloud, hath a secret bower

Where he may rest until the heavens are fair!

Not with the rest of slumber, but the trance

Of onward movement steady and serene,

Where oft in struggle and in contest keen

His eyes will opened be, and all the dance

Of life break on him, and a wide expanse

Roll upward through the void, sunny and green.


TO JUNE.


Ah, truant, thou art here again, I see!

For in a season of such wretched weather

I thought that thou hadst left us altogether,

Although I could not choose but fancy thee

Skulking about the hill-tops, whence the glee

Of thy blue laughter peeped at times, or rather

Thy bashful awkwardness, as doubtful whether

Thou shouldst be seen in such a company

Of ugly runaways, unshapely heaps

Of ruffian vapour, broken from restraint

Of their slim prison in the ocean deeps.

But yet I may not, chide: fall to thy books,

Fall to immediately without complaint--

There they are lying, hills and vales and brooks.


WRITTEN ABOUT THE LONGEST DAY.


Summer, sweet Summer, many-fingered Summer!

We hold thee very dear, as well we may:

It is the kernel of the year to-day--

All hail to thee! Thou art a welcome corner!

If every insect were a fairy drummer,

And I a fifer that could deftly play,

We'd give the old Earth such a roundelay

That she would cast all thought of labour from her

Ah! what is this upon my window-pane?

Some sulky drooping cloud comes pouting up,

Stamping its glittering feet along the plain!

Well, I will let that idle fancy drop.

Oh, how the spouts are bubbling with the rain!

And all the earth shines like a silver cup!


ON A MIDGE.


Whence do ye come, ye creature? Each of you

Is perfect as an angel; wings and eyes

Stupendous in their beauty--gorgeous dyes

In feathery fields of purple and of blue!

Would God I saw a moment as ye do!

I would become a molecule in size,

Rest with you, hum with you, or slanting rise

Along your one dear sunbeam, could I view

The pearly secret which each tiny fly,

Each tiny fly that hums and bobs and stirs,

Hides in its little breast eternally

From you, ye prickly grim philosophers,

With all your theories that sound so high:

Hark to the buzz a moment, my good sirs!


ON A WATERFALL.


Here stands a giant stone from whose far top

Comes down the sounding water. Let me gaze

Till every sense of man and human ways

Is wrecked and quenched for ever, and I drop

Into the whirl of time, and without stop

Pass downward thus! Again my eyes I raise

To thee, dark rock; and through the mist and haze

My strength returns when I behold thy prop

Gleam stern and steady through the wavering wrack

Surely thy strength is human, and like me

Thou bearest loads of thunder on thy back!

And, lo, a smile upon thy visage black--

A breezy tuft of grass which I can see

Waving serenely from a sunlit crack!


Above my head the great pine-branches tower

Backwards and forwards each to the other bends,

Beckoning the tempest-cloud which hither wends

Like a slow-laboured thought, heavy with power;

Hark to the patter of the coming shower!

Let me be silent while the Almighty sends

His thunder-word along; but when it ends

I will arise and fashion from the hour

Words of stupendous import, fit to guard

High thoughts and purposes, which I may wave,

When the temptation cometh close and hard,

Like fiery brands betwixt me and the grave

Of meaner things--to which I am a slave

If evermore I keep not watch and ward.


I do remember how when very young,

I saw the great sea first, and heard its swell

As I drew nearer, caught within the spell

Of its vast size and its mysterious tongue.

How the floor trembled, and the dark boat swung

With a man in it, and a great wave fell

Within a stone's cast! Words may never tell

The passion of the moment, when I flung

All childish records by, and felt arise

A thing that died no more! An awful power

I claimed with trembling hands and eager eyes,

Mine, mine for ever, an immortal dower.--

The noise of waters soundeth to this hour,

When I look seaward through the quiet skies.


ON THE SOURCE OF THE ARVE.


Hear'st thou the dash of water loud and hoarse

With its perpetual tidings upward climb,

Struggling against the wind? Oh, how sublime!

For not in vain from its portentous source,

Thy heart, wild stream, hath yearned for its full force,

But from thine ice-toothed caverns dark as time

At last thou issuest, dancing to the rhyme

Of thy outvolleying freedom! Lo, thy course

Lies straight before thee as the arrow flies,

Right to the ocean-plains. Away, away!

Thy parent waits thee, and her sunset dyes

Are ruffled for thy coming, and the gray

Of all her glittering borders flashes high

Against the glittering rocks: oh, haste, and fly!


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