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I HELD it truth, with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
That men may rise on stepping-stones Of their dead selves to higher things.
But who shall so forecast the
years And find in loss a gain to match ? Or reach a hand thro' time to catch
The far-off interest of tears?
Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drown'd,
Let darkness keep her raven gloss ;
Ah, sweeter to be drunk with loss, To dance with death, to beat the ground ;
Than that the victor Hours should scorn
The long result of love, and boast :
• Behold the man that loved and lost, But all he was is overworn.'
Old Yew, which graspest at the stones
That name the under-lying dead,
Thy fibres net the dreamless head ; Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.
The seasons bring the flower again,
And bring the firstling to the flock ;
And in the dusk of thee, the clock Beats out the little lives of men.
O not for thee the glow, the bloom,
Who changest not in any gale !
Nor branding summer suns avail To touch thy thousand years of gloom.
And gazing on the sullen tree,
Sick for thy stubborn hardihood,
I seem to fail from out my blood, And grow incorporate into thee.
O sorrow, cruel fellowship,
0 Priestess in the vaults of Death,
O sweet and bitter in a breath, What whispers from thy lying lip?
• The stars,' she whispers, blindly run ;
A web is wov'n across the sky ;
From out waste places comes a cry, And murmurs from the dying sun :
· And all the phantom, Nature, stands
With all her music in her tone,
A hollow echo of my own,A hollow form with empty hands.'
And shall I take a thing so blind,
Embrace her as my natural good ;
Or crush her, like a vice of blood, Upon the threshold of the mind ?
To Sleep I give my powers away ;
My will is bondsman to the dark ;
I sit within a helmless bark, And with my heart I muse and say :
• O heart, how fares it with thee now,
That thou should’st fail from thy desire,
Who scarcely darest to inquire • What is it makes me beat so low ?'
Something it is which thou hast lost,
Some pleasure from thine early years.
Break, thou deep vase of chilling tears, That grief hath shaken into frost !
Such clouds of nameless trouble cross
All night below the darken's eyes ;
With morning wakes the will, and cries, • Thou shall not be the fool of loss.'