“O, have I ’scaped the whistling ball,
And striven on smoky fields of fight,
And scaled the ’leaguered city’s wall
In the dangerous night;
“And borne my life unharmed still
Through foaming gulfs of yeasty spray,
To yield it on a grassy hill
At the noon of day?”
“Peace! Say thy prayers, and go to sleep,
Till some time, ONE my seal shall break,
And deep shall answer unto deep,
When He crieth, ‘AWAKE!’”
A LILY AND A LUTE.
(Song of the uncommunicated Ideal.)
I opened the eyes of my soul.
A white river-lily: a lily awake, and aware,—
For she set her face upward,—aware how in scarlet and gold
A long wrinkled cloud, left behind of the wandering air,
Lay over with fold upon fold,
With fold upon fold.
And the blushing sweet shame of the cloud made her
The white river-lily, that suddenly knew she was fair;
And over the far-away mountains that no man hath named,
And that no foot hath trod,
Flung down out of heavenly places, there fell, as it were,
A rose-bloom, a token of love, that should make them endure,
Withdrawn in snow silence forever, who keep themselves pure,
And look up to God.
Then I said, “In rosy air,
Cradled on thy reaches fair,
While the blushing early ray
Whitens into perfect day,
River-lily, sweetest known,
Art thou set for me alone?
Nay, but I will bear thee far,
Where yon clustering steeples are,
And the bells ring out o’erhead,
And the stated prayers are said;
And the busy farmers pace,
Trading in the market-place;
And the country lasses sit,
By their butter, praising it;
And the latest news is told,
While the fruit and cream are sold;
And the friendly gossips greet,
Up and down the sunny street.
For,” I said, “I have not met,
White one, any folk as yet
Who would send no blessing up,
Looking on a face like thine;
For thou art as Joseph’s cup,
And by thee might they divine.
“Nay! but thou a spirit art;
Men shall take thee in the mart
For the ghost of their best thought,
Raised at noon, and near them brought;
Or the prayer they made last night,
Set before them all in white.”
And I put out my rash hand,
For I thought to draw to land
The white lily. Was it fit
Such a blossom should expand,
Fair enough for a world’s wonder,
And no mortal gather it?
No. I strove, and it went under,
And I drew, but it went down;
And the waterweeds’ long tresses,
And the overlapping cresses,
Sullied its admired crown.
Then along the river strand,
Trailing, wrecked, it came to land,
Of its beauty half despoiled,
And its snowy pureness soiled:
O! I took it in my hand,—
You will never see it now,
White and golden as it grew:
No, I cannot show it you,
Nor the cheerful town endow
With the freshness of its brow.