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Yet by long sufferance this love had grown
Into a passion with him, that would make As great a triumph for a child o'erthrown
As for a giant, and, self-blinded, take Ambition's meanest footstool for a throne:
So day by day he nursed a bitterer ache At heart, and learned to see no wider realm Than could be spanned by a grand-master's helm.
He could seem noble a rich end to gain,
Praise was a thing it seemed he could not bear, Wrapping himself therefrom in high disdain,
Yet his most careless deeds were done with care,
And, if they were unheeded or unseen,
He had been noble, but some great deceit
Had turned his better instinct to a vice: He strove to think the world was all a cheat,
That power and fame were cheap at any price, That the sure way of being shortly great
Was even to play life's game with loaded dice, Since he had tried the honest play and found That vice and virtue differed but in sound.
But none can wholly put his heart away,
And, though he aimed to act upon a plan
Of steady fraud to keep his soul at bay,
Yet sometimes through his breast an instinct ran, That roused the memory of a purer day
Ere life to be a bitter toil began :
A self-made minotaur, half man half beast,
Spurn at the world and it will deem you great,
Scorn it if you would win its high esteem, Make your own chance, life is too short to wait
Until the side of error kicks the beam,
Set down your value at your own huge rate,
The world will pay it;-such was his weak scheme
To make the most of life, and it serves well
Yet Margaret's sight redeemed him for a space
Smiled in upon his heart; the agony
Fell lightly from him, and, a moment free,
Like a sweet wind-harp to him was her thought, Which would not let the common air come near, Till from its dim enchantment it had caught
A musical tenderness that brimmed his ear With sweetness more ethereal than aught
Save silver-dropping snatches that whilere Rained down from some sad angel's faithful harp To cool her fallen lover's anguish sharp.
Deep in the forest was a little dell
High overarched with the leafy sweep
Of a broad oak, through whose gnarled roots there fell A slender rill that sung itself asleep,
Where its continuous toil had scooped a well
To please the fairy folk; breathlessly deep The stillness was, save when the dreaming brook From its small urn a drizzly murmur shook.
The wooded hills sloped upward all around
With gradual rise, and made an even rim, So that it seemed a mighty casque unbound
From some huge Titan's brow to lighten him, Ages ago, and left upon the ground,
Where the slow soil had mossed it to the brim,
Till after countless centuries it grew
Into this dell, the haunt of noontide dew.
Dim vistas, sprinkled o'er with sun-flecked green,
A gothic window in its blazing pride,
Lit up the leaves beyond, which, autumn-dyed With lavish hues, would into splendor start, Shaming the labored panes of richest art.