The railway bore him through
An earthen cutting out from a city:
There was no scope for view,
Though the frail light shed by a slim young moon
Fell like a friendly tune.
Fell like a liquid ditty,
And the blank lack of any charm
Of landscape did no harm.
The bald steep cutting, rigid, rough,
And moon-lit, was enough
For poetry of place: its weathered face
Formed a convenient sheet whereon
The visions of his mind were drawn.
THE TWO WIVES (SMOKER’S CLUB-STORY)
I waited at home all the while they were boating together
My wife and my near neighbour’s wife:
Till there entered a woman I loved more than life,
And we sat and sat on, and beheld the uprising dark weather,
With a sense that some mischief was rife.
Tidings came that the boat had capsized, and that
one of the ladies
Was drowned—which of them was unknown:
And I marvelled—my friend’s wife?—or was it my own
Who had gone in such wise to the land where the sun as the shade is?
—We learnt it was his had so gone.
Then I cried in unrest: “He is free!
But no good is releasing
To him as it would be to me!”
“—But it is,” said the woman I loved, quietly.
“How?” I asked her. “—Because he has long loved me too without
And it’s just the same thing, don’t you see.”
I knew a lady when the days
Grew long, and evenings goldened;
But I was not emboldened
By her prompt eyes and winning ways.
And when old Winter nipt the haws,
“Another’s wife I’ll be,
And then you’ll care for me,”
She said, “and think how sweet I was!”
And soon she shone as another’s wife:
As such I often met her,
And sighed, “How I regret her!
My folly cuts me like a knife!”
And then, to-day, her husband came,
And moaned, “Why did you flout her?
Well could I do without her!
For both our burdens you are to blame!”
There is a house in a city street
Some past ones made their own;
Its floors were criss-crossed by their feet,
And their babblings beat
From ceiling to white hearth-stone.
And who are peopling its parlours now?
Who talk across its floor?
Mere freshlings are they, blank of brow,
Who read not how
Its prime had passed before
Their raw equipments, scenes, and says
Afflicted its memoried face,
That had seen every larger phase
Of human ways
Before these filled the place.
To them that house’s tale is theirs,
No former voices call
Aloud therein. Its aspect bears
Their joys and cares
Alone, from wall to wall.