’Oh, what is that in heaven where grey cloud-flakes
Where blackest clouds hang riven just at the rainy skirt?’ 10
’Oh, that’s a meteor sent us, a message dumb, portentous,—
An undeciphered solemn signal of help or hurt.’
’Oh, what is that glides quickly where velvet
flowers grow thickly,
Their scent comes rich and sickly?’—’A scaled and hooded worm.’
‘Oh, what’s that in the hollow, so pale I quake to follow?’
‘Oh, that’s a thin dead body which waits th’ eternal term.’
’Turn again, O my sweetest,—turn
again, false and fleetest:
This way whereof thou weetest I fear is hell’s own track.’
’Nay, too steep for hill-mounting,—nay, too late for cost-counting:
This downhill path is easy, but there’s no turning back.’ 20
WHO SHALL DELIVER ME?
(The Argosy, Feb. 1866.)
God strengthen me to bear myself;
That heaviest weight of all to bear,
Inalienable weight of care.
All others are outside myself,
I lock my door and bar them out
The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.
I lock my door upon myself,
And bar them out; but who shall wall
Self from myself, most loathed of all?
If I could once lay down myself,
And start self-purged upon the race
That all must run! Death runs apace.
If I could set aside myself,
And start with lightened heart upon
The road by all men overgone!
God harden me against myself,
This coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease, and rest, and joys:
Myself, arch-traitor to myself;
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe, 20
My clog whatever road I go.
Yet One there is can curb myself,
Can roll the strangling load from me,
Break off the yoke and set me free.
(The Argosy, March 1866.)
If he would come to-day, to-day, to-day,
O, what a day to-day would be!
But now he’s away, miles and miles away
From me across the sea.
O little bird, flying, flying, flying
To your nest in the warm west,
Tell him as you pass that I am dying,
As you pass home to your nest.
I have a sister, I have a brother,
A faithful hound, a tame white dove; 10
But I had another, once I had another,
And I miss him, my love, my love!
In this weary world it is so cold, so cold,
While I sit here all alone;
I would not like to wait and to grow old,
But just to be dead and gone.
Make me fair when I lie dead on my bed,
Fair where I am lying:
Perhaps he may come and look upon me dead—
He for whom I am dying. 20