Lewis. But doleful nights, and self-inflicted
Are these the love of God? Is He well pleased
With this stern holocaust of health and joy?
Eliz. What! Am I not as gay a lady-love
As ever clipt in arms a noble knight?
Am I not blithe as bird the live-long day?
It pleases me to bear what you call pain,
Therefore to me ’tis pleasure: joy and grief
Are the will’s creatures; martyrs kiss the stake—
The moorland colt enjoys the thorny furze—
The dullest boor will seek a fight, and count
His pleasure by his wounds; you must forget, love,
Eve’s curse lays suffering, as their natural lot,
On womankind, till custom makes it light.
I know the use of pain: bar not the leech
Because his cure is bitter—’Tis such medicine
Which breeds that paltry strength, that weak devotion,
For which you say you love me.—Ay, which brings
Even when most sharp, a stern and awful joy
As its attendant angel—I’ll say no more—
Not even to thee—command, and I’ll obey thee.
Lewis. Thou casket of all graces! fourfold wonder
Of wit and beauty, love and wisdom! Canst thou
Beatify the ascetic’s savagery
To heavenly prudence? Horror melts to pity,
And pity kindles to adoring shower
Of radiant tears! Thou tender cruelty!
Gay smiling martyrdom! Shall I forbid thee?
Limit thy depth by mine own shallowness?
Thy courage by my weakness? Where thou darest,
I’ll shudder and submit. I kneel here spell-bound
Before my bleeding Saviour’s living likeness
To worship, not to cavil: I had dreamt of such things,
Dim heard in legends, while my pitiful blood
Tingled through every vein, and wept, and swore
’Twas beautiful, ’twas Christ-like—had I thought
That thou wert such:—
Eliz. You would have loved me still?
Lewis. I have gone mad, I think, at every parting
At mine own terrors for thee. No; I’ll learn to glory
In that which makes thee glorious! Noble stains!
I’ll call them rose leaves out of paradise
Strewn on the wreathed snows, or rubies dropped
From martyrs’ diadems, prints of Jesus’ cross
Too truly borne, alas!
Eliz. I think, mine own,
I am forgiven at last?
Lewis. To-night, my sister—
Henceforth I’ll clasp thee to my heart so fast
Thou shalt not ’scape unnoticed.
Eliz [laughing] We shall see—
Now I must stop those wise lips with a kiss,
And lead thee back to scenes of simpler bliss.
A Chamber in the Castle. Elizabeth—the
High among the lonely hills,
While I lay beside my sheep,
Rest came down and filled my soul,
From the everlasting deep.
Changeless march the stars above,
Changeless morn succeeds to even;
Still the everlasting hills,
Changeless watch the changeless heaven.