Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

And to thy worst self sacrifice thyself,
For with thy worst self hast thou clothed thy God.'
Then came a Lord in no wise like to Baäl.
The babe shall lead the lion. Surely now
The wilderness shall blossom as the rose.
Crown thyself, worm, and worship thine own

lusts! -
No coarse and blockish God of acreage
Stands at thy gate for thee to grovel to –
Thy God is far diffused in noble groves
And princely halls, and farms, and flowing lawns,
And heaps of living gold that daily grow,
And title-scrolls and gorgeous heraldries.
In such a shape dost thou behold thy God.
Thou wilt not gash thy flesh for him; for thine
Fares richly, in fine linen, not a hair
Ruffled upon the scarfskin, even while
The deathless ruler of thy dying house
Is wounded to the death that cannot die;
And tho' thou numberest with the followers
Of One who cried · leave all and follow me.'
Thee therefore with His light about thy feet,
Thee with His message ringing in thine ears,
Thee shall thy brother man, the Lord from Heaven,
Born of a village girl, carpenter's son,
Wonderful, Prince of peace, the Mighty God,
Count the more base idolater of the two;
Crueller: as not passing thro' the fire
Bodies, but souls - thy children's— thro' the smoke,
The blight of low desires - darkening thine own
To thine own likeness; or if one of these,
Thy better born unhappily from thee,
Should, as by miracle, grow straight and fair
Friends, I was bid to speak of such a one
By those who most have cause to sorrow for her
Fairer than Rachel by the palmy well,
Fairer than Ruth among the fields of corn,
Fair as the Angel that said “hail' she seemid,

a

Who entering fill’d the house with sudden light. For so mine own was brighten'd: where indeed The roof so lowly but that beam of Heaven Dawn'd sometime thro’ the doorway? whose the

babe Too ragged to be fondled on her lap, Warm’d at her bosom? The poor child of shame, The common care whom no one cared for, leapt To greet her, wasting his forgotten heart, As with the mother he had never known, In gambols; for her fresh and innocent eyes Had such a star of morning in their blue, That all neglected places of the field Broke into nature's music when they saw her. Low was her voice, but won mysterious way Thro' the seal'd ear to which a louder one Was all but silence - free of alms her hand The hand that robed your cottage-walls with flowers Has often toild to clothe your

little

ones; How often placed upon the sick man's brow Cool'd it, or laid his feverous pillow smooth ! Had you one sorrow and she shared it not ? One burthen and she would not lighten it ? One spiritual doubt she did not soothe ? Or when some heat of difference sparkled out, How sweetly would she glide between your wraths And steal you from each other! for she walk'd Wearing the light yoke of that Lord of love, Who stilld the rolling wave of Galilee ! And one

- of him I was not bid to speak Was always with her, whom you also knew. Him too you loved, for he was worthy love. And these had been together from the first; They might have been together till the last. Friends, this frail bark of ours, when sorely tried, May wreck itself without the pilot's guilt, Without the captain's knowledge : hope with me. Whose shame is that, if he went hence with shame?

6

Nor mine the fault, if losing both of these I cry to vacant chairs and widow'd walls, “My house is left unto me desolate.”

While thus he spoke, his hearers wept; but some, Sons of the glebe, with other frowns than those That knit themselves for summer shadow, scowl'd At their great lord. He, when it seem'd he saw No pale sheet-lightnings from afar, but fork'd Of the near storm, and aiming at his head, Sat anger-charm’d from sorrow, soldierlike, Erect: but when the preacher's cadence flow'd Softening thro' all the gentle attributes Of his lost child, the wife, who watch'd his face, Paled at a sudden twitch of his iron mouth; And • O pray God that he hold up' she thought Or surely I shall shame myself and him.' •Nor yours the blame

- for who beside your hearths Can take her place — if echoing me you cry “ Our house is left unto us desolate ?" But thou, O thou that killest, hadst thou known, O thou that stonest, hadst thou understood The things belonging to thy peace and ours ! Is there no prophet but the voice that calls Doom upon kings, or in the waste · Repent'? Is not our own child on the narrow way, Who down to those that saunter in the broad Cries . come up hither,' as a prophet to us? Is there no stoning save with flint and rock ? Yes, as the dead we wecp for testify No desolation but by sword and fire ? Yes, as your moanings witness, and myself Am lonelier, darker, earthlier for

my

loss. Give me your prayers, for he is past your prayers, Not past the living fount of pity in Heaven. But I that thought myself long-suffering, meek,

Exceeding “poor in spirit” – how the words
Have twisted back upon themselves, and mean
Vileness, we are grown so proud – I wish'd my

voice
A rushing tempest of the wrath of God
To blow these sacrifices thro' the world
Sent like the twelve-divided concubine
To inflame the tribes : but there — out yonder —

earth Lightens from her own central Hell O there The red fruit of an old idolatry The heads of chiefs and princes fall so fast, They cling together in the ghastly sack The land all shambles naked marriages Flash from the bridge, and ever-murder'd France, By shores that darken with the gathering wolf, Runs in a river of blood to the sick sea. Is this a time to madden madness then ? Was this a time for these to flaunt their pride ? May Pharaoh's darkness, folds as dense as those Which hid the Holiest from the people's eyes Ere the great death, shroud this great sin from all: Doubtless our narrow world must canvass it: O rather pray for those and pity them, Who thro' their own desire accomplish'd bring Their own gray hairs with sorrow to the graveWho broke the bond which they desired to break, Which else had link'd their race with times to

come

Who wove coarse webs to snare her purity,
Grossly contriving their dear daughter's good —
Poor sonls, and knew not what they did, but sat
Ignorant, devising their own daughter's death!
May not that earthly chastisement suffice ?
Have not our love and reverence left them bare ?
Will not another take their heritage ?
Will there be children's laughter in their hall
For ever and for ever, or one stone

Left on another, or is it a light thing
That I their guest, their host, their ancient friend,
I made by these the last of all my race
Must cry to these the last of theirs, as cried
Christ ere His agony to those that swore
Not by the temple but the gold, and made

Their own traditions God, and slew the Lord,
And left their memories a world's curse “Behold,
Your house is left unto you desolate ?":

Ended he had not, but she brook'd no more: Long since her heart had beat remorselessly, Her crampt-up sorrow pain’d her, and a sense Of meanness in her unresisting life. Then their eyes vext her; for on entering He had cast the curtains of their seat aside Black velvet of the costliest - she herself Had seen to that: fain bad she closed them now, Yet dared not stir to do it, only near'd Her husband inch by inch, but when she laid, Wifelike, her hand in one of his, he veild His face with the other, and at once, as falls A creeper when the prop is broken, fell The woman shrieking at his feet, and swoon'd. Then her own people bore along the nave Her pendent hands, and narrow meagre face Seam'd with the shallow cares of fifty years : And her the Lord of all the landscape round Ev'n to its last horizon, and of all Who peer'd at him so keenly, follow'd out Tall and erect, but in the middle aisle Reeld, as a footsore ox in crowded ways Stumbling across the market to his death, Unpitied; for he groped as blind, and seem'd Always about to fall, grasping the pews And oaken finials till he touch'd the door; Yet to the lychgate, where his chariot stood, Strode from the porch, tall and erect again.

« VorigeDoorgaan »