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R. W. D.


O MY vague desires!

Ye lambent flames of the soul, her offspring fires:
That are my soul herself in pangs sublime

Rising and flying to heaven before her time:

What doth tempt you forth

To drown in the south or shiver in the frosty north?
What seek ye or find ye in your random flying,
Ever soaring aloft, soaring and dying?

Joy, the joy of flight!

They hide in the sun, they flare and dance in the night;
Gone up, gone out of sight: and ever again
Follow fresh tongues of fire, fresh pangs of pain.

Ah! they burn my soul,

The fires, devour my soul that once was whole :
She is scattered in fiery phantoms day by day,
But whither, whither? ay whither? away, away!

Could I but control

These vague desires, these leaping flames of the soul:
Could I but quench the fire: ah! could I stay
My soul that flieth, alas, and dieth away!



WHEN men were all asleep the snow came flying,
In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:

Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.
All night it fell, and when full inches seven
It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,
The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven ;
And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
The eye marvelled-marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;
The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air ;
No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,
And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.

Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling, They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing; Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees; Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder, 'O look at the trees!' they cried, 'O look at the trees!' With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder, Following along the white deserted way, A country company long dispersed asunder:

When now already the sun, in pale display Standing by Paul's high dome, spread forth below His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.

For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow; And trains of sombre men, past tale of number, Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go: But even for them awhile no cares encumber Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken, The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.



I STAND on the cliff and watch the veiled sun paling
A silver field afar in the mournful sea,

The scourge of the surf, and plaintive gulls sailing

At ease on the gale that smites the shuddering lea :
Whose smile severe and chaste

June never hath stirred to vanity, nor age defaced.
In lofty thought strive, O spirit, for ever:
In courage and strength pursue thine own endeavour.

Ah! if it were only for thee, thou restless ocean

Of waves that follow and roar, the sweep of the tides; Wer't only for thee, impetuous wind, whose motion Precipitate all o'errides, and turns, nor abides:

For you sad birds and fair,

Or only for thee, bleak cliff, erect in the air; Then well could I read wisdom in every feature, O well should I understand the voice of Nature.

But far away, I think, in the Thames valley,
The silent river glides by flowery banks:
And birds sing sweetly in branches that arch an alley

Of cloistered trees, moss-grown in their ancient ranks :
Where if a light air stray,

"Tis laden with hum of bees and scent of may.

Love and peace be thine, O spirit, for ever:
Serve thy sweet desire: despise endeavour.

And if it were only for thee, entranced river,
That scarce dost rock the lily on her airy stem,
Or stir a wave to murmur, or a rush to quiver;
Wer't but for the woods, and summer asleep in them:
For you my bowers green,

My hedges of rose and woodbine, with walks between,
Then well could I read wisdom in every feature,
O well should I understand the voice of Nature.



PERFECT little body, without fault or stain on thee,
With promise of strength and manhood full and fair!
Though cold and stark and bare,

The bloom and the charm of life doth awhile remain on thee.

Thy mother's treasure wert thou ;-alas! no longer

To visit her heart with wondrous joy; to be

Thy father's pride;—ah, he

Must gather his faith together, and his strength make stronger.

To me, as I move thee now in the last duty,
Dost thou with a turn or gesture anon respond;
Startling my fancy fond

With a chance attitude of the head, a freak of beauty.

Thy hand clasps, as 'twas wont, my finger, and holds it: But the grasp is the clasp of Death, heartbreaking and stiff ; Yet feels to my hand as if

'Twas still thy will, thy pleasure and trust that enfolds it.

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