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Of thine own nobler nature's strength and science,
Drawing two pinions, white as wings of swan,
From thy strong shoulders, to amaze the place
With holier light! that thou to woman's claim
And man’s, mightst join beside the angel's grace
Of a pure genius sanctified from blame,-
Till child and maiden pressed to thine embrace,
To kiss upon thy lips a stainless fame.
True genius, but true woman ! dost deny
Thy woman's nature with a manly scorn,
And break away the gauds and armlets worn
By weaker women in captivity ?
Ah, vain denial ! that revolted cry
Is sobbed in by a woman's voice forlorn !-
Thy woman's hair, my sister, all unshorn,
Floats back dishevelled strength in agony,
Disproving thy man's name and while before
The world thou burnest in a poet-fire,
We see thy woman-heart beat evermore
Through the large flame. Beat purer, heart, and higher,
Till God unsex thee on the heavenly shore,
Where unincarnate spirits purely aspire.
E. B. BROWNING.
“YES,' I answered you last night ; | Yet the sin is on us both ; No,' this morning, sir, I say.
Time to dance is not to woo ; Colours seen by candle-light Wooing light makes fickle troth,
Will not look the same by day. Scorn of me recoils on you. When the viols played their best, Learn to win a lady's faith
Lamps above, and laughs below, Nobly, as the thing is high, Love me sounded like a jest, Bravely, as for life and deathFit for yes or fit for no.
With a loyal gravity. Call me false or call me free- Lead her from the festive boards,
Vow, whatever light may shine, Point her to the starry skies, No man on your face shall see Guard her, by your truthful words, Any grief, for change on mine. Pure from courtship’s flatteries.
By your truth she shall be true,
Ever true, as wives of yore ;
And her yes, once said to you,
SHALL be Yes for evermore.
E. B. BROWNING.
88. YET LOVE, MERE LOVE
YET, love, mere love, is beautiful indeed
And worthy of acceptation. Fire is bright,
Let temple burn, or flax. An equal light
Leaps in the flame from cedar-plank or weed.
And love is fire ; and when I say at need
I love thee . . mark! .. I love thee! .. in thy sight
I stand transfigured, glorified aright,
With conscience of the new rays that proceed
Out of my face toward thine. There's nothing low
In love, when love the lowest: meanest creatures
Who love God, God accepts while loving so.
And what I feel, across the inferior features
Of what I am, doth flash itself, and show
How that great work of Love enhances Nature's.
E. B. BROWNING (Sonnets from the Portuguese).
89. FLUSH OR FAUNUS
You see this dog. It was but yesterday
I mused forgetful of his presence here.
Till thought on thought drew downward tear on tear,
When from the pillow, where wet-cheeked I lay,
A head as hairy as Faunus, thrust its way
Right sudden against my face,—two golden-clear
Great eyes astonished mine,-a drooping ear
Did flap me on either cheek to dry the spray!
I started first, as some Arcadian,
Amazed by goatly god in twilight grove ;
But, as the bearded vision closelier ran
My tears off, I knew Flush, and rose above
Surprise and sadness,—thanking the true Pan,
Who, by low creatures, leads to heights of love.
E. B. BROWNING.
90. MY STAR
All that I know
Of a certain star,
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue,
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue !
Then it stops like a bird ; like a flower, hangs furled :
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world ?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.
ESCAPE me ?
While I am I, and you are you,
So long as the world contains us both,
Me the loving and you the loath,
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
My life is a fault at last, I fear :
It seems too much like a fate, indeed !
Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.
But what if I fail of my purpose here ?
It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall,
And, baffled, get up and begin again,-
So the chace takes up one's life, that's all.
While, look but once from your farthest bound
At me so deep in the dust and dark,
No sooner the old hope drops to ground
Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark,
I shape me-
FEAR death ?-to feel the fog in my throat,
The mist in my face,
When the snows begin, and the blasts denote
I am nearing the place,
The power of the night, the press of the storm,
The post of the foe;
Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,
Yet the strong man must go :
For the journey is done and the summit attained,
And the barriers fall,
Though a battle 's to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
The reward of it all.
I was ever a fighter, so—one fight more,
The best and the last !
I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forbore,
And bade me creep past.
No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers
The heroes of old,
Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears
Of pain, darkness and cold.
For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave,
The black minute's at end,
And the elements’ rage, the fiend-voices that rave,
Shall dwindle, shall blend,
Shall change, shall become first a peace, then a joy,
Then a light, then thy breast,
O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,
And with God be the rest !
93. GROW OLD ALONG WITH ME Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made : Our times are in His hand Who saith ‘A whole I planned, Youth shows but half ; trust God: see all, nor be afraid !' Then, welcome each rebuff That turns earth's smoothness rough, Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go ! Be our joys three-parts pain ! Strive, and hold cheap the strain ; Learn, nor account the pang ; dare, never grudge the throe ! Not on the vulgar mass Called 'work', must sentence pass, Things done, that took the eye and had the price ; O’er which, from level stand, The low world laid its hand, Found straightway to its mind, could value in a trice: But all, the world's coarse thumb And finger failed to plumb, So passed in making up the main account; All instincts immature, All purposes unsure, That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's amount: Thoughts hardly to be packed Into a narrow act, Fancies that broke through language and escaped ; All I could never be, All, men ignored in me, This, I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped. So, take and use Thy work ! Amend what flaws may lurk, What strain o' the stuff, what warpings past the aim ! My times be in Thy hand ! Perfect the cup as planned ! Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same!
R. BROWNING (Rabbi Ben Ezra).
94. THE NELSON TOUCH
HERE 'S to Nelson's memory !
'Tis the second time that I, at sea,
Right off Cape Trafalgar here,
Have drunk it deep in British Beer.
Nelson for ever--any time
Am I his to command in prose or rhyme !
Give me of Nelson only a touch,
And I save it, be it little or much.
R. BROWNING (Nationality in Drinks).
95. RUDEL TO THE LADY OF TRIPOLI
I KNOW a Mount, the gracious Sun perceives
First when he visits, last, too, when he leaves
The world ; and, vainly favoured, it repays
The day-long glory of his steadfast gaze
By no change of its large calm front of snow.
And underneath the Mount, a Flower I know,
He cannot have perceived, that changes ever
At his approachand, in the lost endeavour
To live his life, has parted, one by one,
With all a flower's true graces, for the grace
Of being but a foolish mimic sun,
With ray-like florets round a disk-like face.
Men nobly call by many a name the Mount
As over many a land of theirs its large
Calm front of snow like a triumphal targe
Is reared, and still with old names, fresh ones vie,
Each to its proper praise and own account:
Men call the Flower, the Sunflower, sportively.
Oh, Angel of the East, one, one gold look
Across the waters to this twilight nook,
- The far sad waters, Angel, to this nook !
Dear Pilgrim, art thou for the East indeed ?
Go! Saying ever as thou dost proceed,
That I, French Rudel, choose for my device
A sunflower outspread like a sacrifice
Before its idol. See! These inexpert
And hurried fingers could not fail to hurt
The woven picture ; 'tis a woman's skill
Indeed; but nothing baffled me, so, ill
Or well, the work is finished. Say, men feed
On songs I sing, and therefore bask the bees
On my flower's breast as on a platform broad :
But, as the flower's concern is not for these
But solely for the sun, so men applaud
In vain this Rudel, he not looking here
But to the East—the East! Go, say this, Pilgrim dear!