Bear on to death serenely, day by day,
Midst losses, gains, toil, and monotony,
The ignorance of social apathy,
And artifice which men to men display:
Like one who tramps a long and lonely way
Under the constant rain’s inclemency,
With vast clouds drifting in obscurity,
And sudden lightnings in the welkin grey.
To-morrow may be bright with healthy pleasure,
Banishing discontents and vain defiance:
The pearly clouds will pass to a slow measure,
Wayfarers walk the dusty road in joyance,
The wide heaths spread far in the sun’s alliance,
Among the furze inviting us to leisure.
Vanity, say they, quoting him of old.
Yet, if full knowledge lifted us serene
To look beyond mortality’s stern screen,
A reconciling vision could be told,
Brighter than western clouds or shapes of gold
That change in amber fires,—or the demesne
Of ever mystic sleep. Mists intervene,
Which then would melt, to show our eyesight bold
From God a perfect chain throughout the skies,
Like Jacob’s ladder light with winged men.
And as this world, all notched to terrene eyes
With Alpine ranges, smoothes to higher ken,
So death and sin and social miseries;
By God fixed as His bow o’er moor and fen.
The Blessed Damozel
The blessed Damozel leaned out
From the gold bar of Heaven:
Her blue grave eyes were deeper much
Than a deep water, even.
She had three lilies in her hand,
And the stars in her hair were seven.
Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,
No wrought flowers did adorn,
But a white rose of Mary’s gift
On the neck meetly worn;
And her hair, lying down her back,
Was yellow like ripe corn.
Herseemed she scarce had been a day
One of God’s choristers;
The wonder was not yet quite gone
From that still look of hers;
Albeit to them she left, her day
Had counted as ten years.
(To one it is ten years of years: ........ Yet now, here in this place Surely she leaned o’er me,—her hair Fell all about my face......... Nothing: the Autumn-fall of leaves. The whole year sets apace.)
It was the terrace of God’s house
That she was standing on,—
By God built over the sheer depth
In which Space is begun;
So high, that looking downward thence,
She could scarce see the sun.
It lies from Heaven across the flood
Of ether, as a bridge.
Beneath, the tides of day and night
With flame and blackness ridge
The void, as low as where this earth
Spins like a fretful midge.
But in those tracts, with her, it was
The peace of utter light
And silence. For no breeze may stir
Along the steady flight
O seraphim; no echo there,
Beyond all depth or height.