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CCCLXXXIII. ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTOR,
No thank you, John.
I never said I loved you, John,
Why will you teaze me day by day,
And wax a weariness to think upon
With always do and pray?
You know I never loved you, John ;
No fault of mine made me your toast:
Why will you haunt me with a face as wan
As any hour-told ghost?
I dare say Meg or Moll would take
Pity upon you if you'd ask :
And pray don't remain single for my sake,
Who can't perform that task.
I have not heart? Perhaps I've not;
But then you're mad to take offence
That I don't give you what I have not got:
Use your own common sense.
Let byegones be byegones:
Don't call me false, who own'd not to be true; I'd rather answer No to fifty Johns
Than answer Yes to you.
Let's mar our pleasant days no more,-
Song-birds of passage-days of youth-
Catch at to-day-forget the days before:
I'll wink at your untruth.
Let us strike hands as hearty friends,
No more, no less: and friendship's good;
Only don't keep in view ulterior ends,
And points not understood.
In open treaty rise above
Quibbles and shufflings off and on:
Here's friendship for you if you like, but love—
No, thank you, John!
CCCLXXXIV. ELIZ. BARRETT BROWNING
If I were thou, oh butterfly,
And poised my purple wings to spy
The sweetest flowers that live and die,
I would not waste my strength on those
As thou-for summer hath a close,
And pansies bloom not in the snows.
If I were thou, oh working bee,
And all that honey-gold I see,
Could delve from roses easily,
I would not hive it at man's door,
As thou that heirdom of my store
Should make him rich and leave me poor.
If I were thou, oh eagle proud,
And screamed the thunder back aloud,
And faced the lightning from the cloud,
I would not build my eyrie throne,
As thou, upon a crumbling stone,
Which the next storm may trample down.
If I were thou, oh gallant steed,
With pawing hoof and dancing head,
And eye outrunning thine own speed:
I would not meeken to the rein,
As thou, nor smooth my nostril plain
From the glad desert's snort and strain.
If I were thou, red-breasted bird,
Whose song's at shut-up window heard,
Like Love's sweet Yes! too long deferred,
I would not over-stay delight,
As thou, but take a swallow's flight,
Till the new spring returned to sight.
While yet I spake, a touch was laid
Upon my brow, whose pride did fad.,
As thus methought an angel said:
If I were thou who sing'st this song,
Most wise for others and most strong
In seeing right while doing wrong,
I would not waste my cares, and choose
As thou, to seek what thou must lose,
Such gains as perish in the use;
I would not work where none can win,
As thou, half-way 'twixt grief and sin,
But look above and judge within.
I would not let my pulse beat high,
As thou, toward fame's regality,
Nor yet in love's great jeopardy.
I would not champ the hard cold bit,
As thou, of what the world thinks fit,
But take God's freedom, using it.
I would not play earth's winter out,
As thou, but gird myself about,
And live for life past death and doubt.
Then sing, oh singer, but allow
Beast, fly, and bird, called foolish now,
As wise (for all thy scorn) as thou.
CCCLXXXV. WILLIAM SMITH.
JOY AND SORROW.
Joy is a weak and giddy thing that laughs
Itself to weariness or sleep, and wakes
To the same barren laughter; 'tis a child
Perpetually, and all its past and future
Lie in the compass of an infant's day.
Crushed from our sorrow all that's great in man
Has ever sprung. In the old pagan world
Men deified the beautiful, the glad,
The strong, the boastful, and it came to nought;
We have raised Pain and Sorrow into heaven,
And in our temples, on our altars, Grief
Stands symbol of our faith, and it shall last
As long as man is mortal and unhappy.
The gay at heart may wander to the skies,
And harps may there be found them, and the branch
Of palm be put into their hands; on earth
We know them not; no votarist of our faith,
Till be has dropped his tears into the stream.
Tastes of its sweetness.
Nor did he cease repeating to himself,
"How worthless is the boon if this be all!
Broad is the way; the steeds are tame enough."
Till, hungered with hot zeal, he seized the thong;
Then whirled it, curling it beneath the flank
Of the two vanward; thence with sharp recoil
Crossing the arched necks of the hindmost two.
And lo! the sudden insult dug like steel
Into the one heart of the fiery four.
They in a moment knew the vulgar hands
That held them; and their lordly eyes wept fire
at the ungenerous pilotage;
And each dilated nostril panted fire,
And the sides, heaving through their sleek expanse,
Stared with a noble horror, foaming fire;
While, raving up the causeway, hoof and wheel,
With screams and anvil-thunder, a deafening din,
Rained earthward and to heaven a storm of fire.
So to the summit, from whose brows the team,
Thrice-maddening, prone adown the diamond arc
Swept, and a triple whirlwind of white fire,
Blown skyward, sloped upon the charioteer;
Whom yet the chrism preserved invulnerable.
Nor even his eyelids faltered in white fire;
But as a sick man stares, who, from some wound
Smit with red fever and delirious dream,
Thinks himself bound upon a wheel of fire,
Whirling, whirling for ever, and passes through
Cycles of anguish ere his eye can wink-
So, with like fascination, in the eyes
Of Phaeton was fixed a straining stare,
Yea, one to be remembered afterwards
that had seen it, man or god.
And though his brain shook, yet he could not wink;
And though his brain reeled, yet he could not fall.
Fixed were his feet, and o'er the ebbing reins
Drooped the spent fingers from the nerveless wrist,
Yet motionless and with no quivering drooped,
He standing like a statue of pale Fear;
While louder and more loud the affrighted stars
Cried from their burning vault, or seemed to cry,
Doom in his ears, and anger and fell revenge.
CCCLXXXVII. JEAN INGELOW.
Men must die-one dies by day, and near him moans his mother,
They dig his grave, and tread it down, and go from it
And one dies about midnight, and the wind moans and no other,
And the snows give him a burial-and God loves them both.
The first hath no advantage-it shall not soothe his slumber
That a lock of his brown hair his father aye shall keep; For the last, he nothing grudgeth, it shall nought his quiet cumber
That in a golden mesh of his the callow eaglets sleep. CCCLXXXVIII. ARTHUR HENRY BROWNING.
If I'd an orchard full of fruit,
(But this is quite between us)
With Paris I would follow suit,
And give the fruit to Venus.
Juno might promise wealth and power,
A sceptre and a throne too,
But who would hesitate an hour,
If single and alone too?
Minerva, first of female sages,
Might swear in vain my mind
To fill with wit and lore of ages,
And leave out-womankind.
Then honour to the shepherd boy,
Who taught the world we dwell in
How man should risk another Troy,
To win a second Helen.