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R. W. D.
O MY vague desires!
Ye lambent flames of the soul, her offspring fires:
Rising and flying to heaven before her time:
What doth tempt you forth
To drown in the south or shiver in the frosty north?
Joy, the joy of flight!
They hide in the sun, they flare and dance in the night;
Ah! they burn my soul,
The fires, devour my soul that once was whole :
Could I but control
These vague desires, these leaping flames of the soul:
WHEN men were all asleep the snow came flying,
Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
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.
THE VOICE OF NATURE
I STAND on the cliff and watch the veiled sun paling
The scourge of the surf, and plaintive gulls sailing
At ease on the gale that smites the shuddering lea :
June never hath stirred to vanity, nor age defaced.
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,
Of cloistered trees, moss-grown in their ancient ranks :
"Tis laden with hum of bees and scent of may.
Love and peace be thine, O spirit, for ever:
And if it were only for thee, entranced river,
My hedges of rose and woodbine, with walks between,
ON A DEAD CHILD
PERFECT little body, without fault or stain on thee,
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,
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.