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We were not cruel, yet did sunder
His white wing from the blue waves under,
And bound it, while his fearless eyes
Shone up to ours in calm surprise,
As deeming us some ocean wonder!

We bore our ocean bird unto

A grassy place, where he might view
The flowers that curtsy to the bees,
The waving of the tall green trees,
The falling of the silver dew.

But flowers of earth were pale to him
Who had seen the rainbow fishes swim;
And when earth's dew around him lay
He thought of ocean's winged spray,
And his eye waxed sad and dim.

The green trees round him only made
A prison with their darksome shade;
And drooped his wing, and mournèd he
For his own boundless glittering sea-
Albeit he knew not they could fade.
Then One her gladsome face did bring,
Her gentle voice's murmuring,

In ocean's stead his heart to move
And teach him what was human love-
He thought it a strange, mournful thing.
He lay down in his grief to die

(First looking to the sea-like sky
That hath no waves !), because, alas!
Our human touch did on him pass,

And with our touch, our agony. E. B. BROWNING.


I THOUGHT once how Theocritus had sung

Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years,
Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals, old or young:
And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,
The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me. Straightway I was 'ware,
So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair,
And a voice said in mastery while I strove,


Guess now who holds thee?". - Death,' I said. But, there,

The silver answer rang, 'Not Death, but Love.'

E. B. BROWNING (Sonnets from the Portuguese).


IF God compel thee to this destiny,

To die alone,-with none beside thy bed

To ruffle round with sobs thy last word said,
And mark with tears the pulses ebb from thee,-
Pray then alone-O Christ, come tenderly!
By thy forsaken Sonship in the red

Drear wine-press,-by the wilderness outspread,-
And the lone garden where Thine agony
Fell bloody from Thy brow,-by all of those
Permitted desolations, comfort mine!
No earthly friend being near me, interpose
No deathly angel 'twixt my face and Thine,
But stoop Thyself to gather my life's rose,
And smile away my mortal to Divine.'

E. B. BROWNING (To E. C.).


IF thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say

'I love her for her smile... her look . . . her way
Of speaking gently, . . for a trick of thought

That falls in well with mine, and certes brought

A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'

For these things in themselves, Beloved, may

Be changed, or change for thee, and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,—
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby !
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.

E. B. BROWNING (Sonnets from the Portuguese).


He giveth his beloved sleep.-Ps. cxxvii. 2.
Of all the thoughts of God that are

Borne inward unto souls afar,

Along the Psalmist's music deep,

Now tell me if that any is,

For gift or grace, surpassing this-
'He giveth His beloved, sleep'?

What would we give to our beloved?
The hero's heart, to be unmoved,
The poet's star-tuned harp, to sweep,

The patriot's voice, to teach and rouse,
The monarch's crown, to light the brows ?—
He giveth His belovèd, sleep.

What do we give to our beloved?
A little faith all undisproved,

A little dust to overweep,

And bitter memories to make

The whole earth blasted for our sake.

He giveth His belovèd, sleep.

'Sleep soft, beloved!' we sometimes say, But have no tune to charm away

Sad dreams that through the eye-lids creep.
But never doleful dream again

Shall break the happy slumber when
He giveth His beloved, sleep.

O earth, so full of dreary noises !
O men, with wailing in your voices!
O delved gold, the wailers heap!
O strife, O curse, that o'er it fall!
God strikes a silence through you all,
And giveth His beloved, sleep.

His dews drop mutely on the hill;
His cloud above it saileth still,
Though on its slope men sow and reap.
More softly than the dew is shed,
Or cloud is floated overhead,
He giveth His beloved, sleep.

Aye, men may wonder while they scan
A living, thinking, feeling man
Confirmed in such a rest to keep;
But angels say, and through the word
I think their happy smile is heard-
'He giveth His beloved, sleep.'

For me, my heart that erst did go
Most like a tired child at a show,

That sees through tears the mummers leap,
Would now its wearied vision close,
Would child-like on His love repose,

Who giveth His beloved, sleep.

And, friends, dear friends,—when it shall be
That this low breath is gone from me,
And round my bier ye come to weep,
Let One, most loving of you all,
Say, 'Not a tear must o'er her fall;
He giveth His beloved, sleep.'


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SPEAK low to me, my Saviour, low and sweet
From out the hallelujahs, sweet and low,
Lest I should fear and fall, and miss Thee so,
Who art not missed by any that entreat.
Speak to me as to Mary at Thy feet!
And if no precious gums my hands bestow,
Let my tears drop like amber, while I go
In reach of Thy divinest voice complete
In humanest affection-thus, in sooth,
To lose the sense of losing. As a child,
Whose song-bird seeks the wood for evermore,
Is sung to in its stead by mother's mouth,
Till, sinking on her breast, love-reconciled,
He sleeps the faster that he wept before.


THE cygnet finds the water, but the man
Is born in ignorance of his element
And feels out blind at first, disorganized
By sin i' the blood,—his spirit-insight dulled
And crossed by his sensations. Presently
He feels it quicken in the dark sometimes,
When, mark, be reverent, be obedient,
For such dumb motions of imperfect life
Are oracles of vital Deity

Attesting the Hereafter. Let who says
'The soul's a clean white paper', rather say,
A palimpsest, a prophet's holograph
Defiled, erased and covered by a monk's,-
The apocalypse, by a Longus! poring on
Which obscene text, we may discern perhaps
Some fair, fine trace of what was written once,
Some upstroke of an alpha and omega
Expressing the old scripture.

É. B. BROWNING (Aurora Leigh).


THE face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul
Move still, oh, still, beside me, as they stole
Betwixt me and the dreadful outer brink

Of obvious death, where I, who thought to sink,
Was caught up into love, and taught the whole
Of life in a new rhythm. The cup of dole
God gave for baptism, I am fain to drink,

And praise its sweetness, Sweet, with thee anear.
The names of country, heaven, are changed away
For where thou art or shalt be, there or here;
And this. . . this lute and song . . . loved yesterday
(The singing angels know) are only dear,

Because thy name moves right in what they say.

Ě. B. BROWNING (Sonnets from the Portuguese).


THERE, obedient to her praying, did I read aloud the poems
Made to Tuscan flutes, or instruments more various of our own ;
Read the pastoral parts of Spenser or the subtle interflowings
Found in Petrarch's sonnets-here's the book-the leaf is folded

Or at times a modern volume-Wordsworth's solemn-thoughted idyl,
Howitt's ballad-verse, or Tennyson's enchanted reverie,—

Or from Browning some 'Pomegranate', which, if cut deep down the middle,

Shows a heart within blood-tinctured, of a veined humanity.

E. B. BROWNING (Lady Geraldine's Courtship).


THEY Say Ideal beauty cannot enter

The house of anguish. On the threshold stands
An alien Image with enshackled hands,

Called the Greek Slave! as if the artist meant her
(That passionless perfection which he lent her,
Shadowed not darkened where the sill expands)
To, so, confront man's crimes in different lands
With man's ideal sense. Pierce to the centre,
Art's fiery finger !-and break up ere long
The serfdom of this world! appeal, fair stone,

From God's pure heights of beauty against man's wrong!
Catch up in thy divine face, not alone

East griefs but west,-and strike and shame the strong,
By thunders of white silence, overthrown.




THOU large-brained woman and large-hearted man,
Self-called George Sand! whose soul, amid the lions
Of thy tumultuous senses, moans defiance,
And answers roar for roar, as spirits can!
I would some mild miraculous thunder ran
Above the applauded circus, in appliance

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