Ora pro me!
Mother, who lead’st me still by unknown ways,
Giving the gifts I know not how to ask,
Bless thou the work
Which, done, redeems my many wasted days,
Makes white the murk,
And crowns the few which thou wilt not dispraise.
When clear my Songs of Lady’s graces rang,
And little guess’d I ’twas of thee I sang!
Vainly, till now, my pray’rs would thee compel
To fire my verse with thy shy fame, too long
Shunning world-blazon of well-ponder’d song;
But doubtful smiles, at last, ’mid thy denials lurk;
From which I spell,
’Humility and greatness grace the task
Which he who does it deems impossible!’
XVIII. DEAD LANGUAGE.
’Thou dost not wisely, Bard.
A double voice is Truth’s, to use at will:
One, with the abysmal scorn of good for ill,
Smiting the brutish ear with doctrine hard,
Wherein She strives to look as near a lie
As can comport with her divinity;
The other tender-soft as seem
The embraces of a dead Love in a dream.
These thoughts, which you have sung
In the vernacular,
Should be, as others of the Church’s are,
Decently cloak’d in the Imperial Tongue.
Have you no fears
Lest, as Lord Jesus bids your sort to dread,
Yon acorn-munchers rend you limb from limb,
You, with Heaven’s liberty affronting theirs!’
So spoke my monitor; but I to him,
‘Alas, and is not mine a language dead?’
Whene’er mine eyes do my Amelia greet
It is with such emotion
As when, in childhood, turning a dim street,
I first beheld the ocean.
There, where the little, bright, surf-breathing town,
That shew’d me first her beauty and the sea,
Gathers its skirts against the gorse-lit down
And scatters gardens o’er the southern lea,
Abides this Maid
Within a kind, yet sombre Mother’s shade,
Who of her daughter’s graces seems almost afraid,
Viewing them ofttimes with a scared forecast,
Caught, haply, from obscure love-peril past.
Howe’er that be,
She scants me of my right,
Is cunning careful evermore to balk
Sweet separate talk,
And fevers my delight
By frets, if, on Amelia’s cheek of peach,
I touch the notes which music cannot reach,
Wherefore it came that, till to-day’s dear date,
I curs’d the weary months which yet I have to wait
Ere I find heaven, one-nested with my mate.
To-day, the Mother gave,
To urgent pleas and promise to behave
As she were there, her long-besought consent
To trust Amelia with me to the grave
Where lay my once-betrothed, Millicent:
‘For,’ said she, hiding ill a moistening eye,
’Though, Sir, the word sounds hard,
God makes as if He least knew how to guard