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So home we went, and all the livelong way
With solemn gibe did Eustace banter me.
“ Now,” said he, will you climb the top of Art.
You cannot fail but work in hues to dim
The Titanic Flora. Will you match
My Juliet? you, not you, — the Master, Love,
A more ideal Artist he than all.”
So home I went, but could not sleep for joy,
Reading her perfect features in the gloom,
Kissing the rose she gave me o’er and o’er,
And shaping faithful record of the glance
That graced the giving - such a noise of life
Swarm'd in the golden present, such a voice
Call'd to me from the years to come, and such
A length of bright horizon rimm'd the dark.
And all that night I heard the watchmen peal
The sliding season : all that night I heard
The heavy clocks knolling the drowsy hours.
The drowsy hours, dispensers of all good,
O'er the mute city stole with folded wings,
Distilling odours on me as they went
To greet their fairer sisters of the East.
Love at first sight, first-born, and heir to all, Made this night thus. Henceforward squall nor storm Could keep me from that Eden where she dwelt. Light pretexts drew me : sometimes a Dutch love For tulips ; then for roses, moss or musk, To grace my city-rooms ; or fruits and cream Served in the weeping elm ; and more and more A word could bring the colour to my cheek ; A thought would fill my eyes with happy dew; Love trebled life within me, and with each The year increased.
The daughters of the year, One after one, thro' that still garden pass’d : Each garlanded with her peculiar flower Danced into light, and died into the shade ; And each in passing touch'd with some new grace Or seem'd to touch her, so that day by day, Like one that never can be wholly known, Her beauty grew ; till Autumn brought an hour For Eustace, when I heard his deep “ I will,” Breathed, like the covenant of a God, to hold From thence thro' all the worlds : but I rose up
Full of his bliss, and following her dark eyes
Felt earth as air beneath me, till I reach'd
The wicket-gatë, and found her standing there.
There sat we down upon a garden mound,
Two mutually enfolded ; Love, the third,
Between us, in the circle of his arms
Enwound us both! and over many a range
Of waning lime the gray cathedral towers,
Across a hazy glimmer of the west,
Reveald their shining windows : from them clash'd
The bells; we listen'd ; with the time we play'd:
We spoke of other things : we coursed about
The subject most at heart, more near and near,
Like doves about a dovecote, wheeling round
The central wish, until we settled there.
Then, in that time and place, I spoke to her,
Requiring, though I knew it was mine own,
Yet for the pleasure that I took to hear,
Requiring at her hand the greatest gift,
A woman's heart, the heart of her I loved ;
And in that time and place she answer'd me,
And in the compass of three little words,
More musical than ever came in one,
The silver fragments of a broken voice,
Made me most happy, lisping “ I am thine.”
Shall I cease here? Is this enough to say
That my desire, like all strongest hopes,
By its own energy fulfill'd itself,
Merged in completion ? Would you learn at full
How passion rose thro' circumstantial grades
Beyond all grades develop?d? and indeed
I had not staid so long to tell you all,
But while I mused came Memory with sad eyes,
Holding the folded annals of my youth;
And while I mused, Love with knit þrows went by,
And with a flying finger swept my lips,
And spake, “ Be wise : not easily forgiven
Are those, who setting wide the doors, that bar
The secret bridal chambers of the heart,
Let in the day.” Here, then, my words have end.
Yet might I tell of meetings, of farewells — Of that which came between, more sweet than each, In whispers, like the whispers of the leaves
That tremble round a nightingale — in sighs
Which perfect Joy, perplex'd for utterance,
Stole from her sister Sorrow. Might I not tell
Of difference, reconcilement, pledges given,
And vows, where there was never need of vows,
And kisses, where the heart on one wild leap
Hung tranced from all pulsation, as above
The heavens between their fairy fleeces pale
Sow'd all their mystic gulfs with fleeting stars ;
Or while the balmy glooming crescent-lit,
Spread the light haze along the river-shores,
And in the hollows; or as once we met
Unheedful, though beneath a whispering rain
Night slid down one long stream of sighing wind,
And in her bosom bore the baby, Sleep.
But this whole hour your eyes have been intent On that veil'd picture — veil’d, for what it holds May not be dwelt on by the common day.
This prelude has prepared thee. Raise thy soul ; Make thine heart ready with thine eyes : the time Is come to raise the veil.