Nightly betwixt them and the frosty world),—
Hence we may learn, you poets, that of all
We should be most content. The earth is given
To us: we reign by virtue of a sense
Which lets us hear the rhythm of that old verse,
The ring of that old tune whereto she spins.
Humanity is given to us: we reign
By virtue of a sense, which lets us in
To know its troubles ere they have been told,
And take them home and lull them into rest
With mournfullest music. Time is given to us,—
Time past, time future. Who, good sooth, beside
Have seen it well, have walked this empty world
When she went steaming, and from pulpy hills
Have marked the spurting of their flamy crowns?
Have we not seen the tabernacle pitched,
And peered between the linen curtains, blue,
Purple, and scarlet, at the dimness there,
And, frighted, have not dared to look again?
But, quaint antiquity! beheld, we thought,
A chest that might have held the manna pot
And Aaron’s rod that budded. Ay, we leaned
Over the edge of Britain, while the fleet
Of Caesar loomed and neared; then, afterwards,
We saw fair Venice looking at herself
In the glass below her, while her Doge went forth
In all his bravery to the wedding.
However, counts for nothing to the grace
We wot of in time future:—therefore add,
And afterwards have done: “Hence we may learn,”
That though it be a grand and comely thing
To be unhappy,—(and we think it is,
Because so many grand and clever folk
Have found out reasons for unhappiness,
And talked about uncomfortable things,—
Low motives, bores, and shams, and hollowness,
The hollowness o’ the world, till we at last
Have scarcely dared to jump or stamp, for fear,
Being so hollow, it should break some day,
And let us in),—yet, since we are not grand,
O, not at all, and as for cleverness,
That may be or may not be,—it is well
For us to be as happy as we can!
Agreed: and with a word to the noble sex,
As thus: we pray you carry not your guns
On the full-cock; we pray you set your pride
In its proper place, and never be ashamed
Of any honest calling,—let us add,
And end; for all the rest, hold up your heads
And mind your English.
Note to “GLADYS AND HER ISLAND.”
The woman is Imagination; she is brooding over what she brought forth.
The two purple peaks represent the domains of Poetry and of History.
The girl is Fancy.
The sun was streaming in: I woke, and said,
“Where is my wife,—that has been made my wife
Only this year?” The casement stood ajar:
I did but lift my head: The pear-tree dropped,
The great white pear-tree dropped with dew from leaves
And blossom, under heavens of happy blue.