Editorial Description: Notations made on blank page of ms, not in DGR's penmanship.
- Our Lombard country-girls along the coast
- Wear daggers in their garters; for they know
- That they might hate another girl to death
- Or meet a German lover. Such a knife
- I bought her, with a hilt of horn and pearl.
- Father, you cannot know of all my thoughts
- That day in going to meet her,—that last day
- For the last time, she said;—of all the love
- And all the hopeless hope that she might change
10And go back with me. Ah! and everywhere,
- At places we both knew along the road,
- Some fresh shape of herself as once she was
- Grew present at my side; until it seemed—
- So close they gathered round me—they would all
- Be with me when I reached the spot at last,
- To plead my cause with her against herself
- So changed. O Father, if you knew all this
- You cannot know, then you would know too, Father,
- And only then, if God can pardon me.
20What can be told I'll tell, if you will hear.
- That day, some three hours afterwards, I found
- For certain, it must be a parting gift.
- And, standing silent now at last, I looked
30Into her scornful face; and heard the sea
- Still trying hard to din into my ears
- Some speech it knew which still might change her heart
- If only it could make me understand.
- One moment thus. Another, and her face
- Seemed further off than the last line of sea,
- So that I thought, if now she were to speak
- I could not hear her. Then again I knew
- All, as we stood together on the sand
- At Iglio, in the first thin shade o'the hills.
40‘Take it,’ I said, and held it out to her,
- While the hilt glanced within my trembling hold;
- ‘Take it,’ I said, ‘and keep it for my sake.’
- Her neck did not unbend, nor
did her eyes
drooped her eyes,
Nor did her foot
leave beating of the sand;
- Only she put it by from her and laughed.
- Father, you hear my speech and not her laugh;
- But God was there and heard. Father, will God
Pardon me this?
Remember all? He heard her when she laughed.
Editorial Description: Line to indicate stanza break drawn by DGR between lines 45 and 46.
Note: Pages 3-4 missing from extant manuscript.
Manuscript Addition: b
Editorial Description: Lower-case letter written in upper left corner of page. Not in DGR's penmanship.
- I have been speaking to you of some matters
50There was no need to speak of, have I not?
- You do not know how clearly those things stood
- Within my mind, which I have spoken of,
- Nor how they strove for utterance. Life all past
- Is like the sky when the sun sets in it,
- Clearest where furthest off.
- I told you how
- She scorned my parting gift and laughed. And yet
- A woman's laugh's another thing sometimes:
- I think they laugh in Heaven. I know last night
- I dreamed I saw into the garden of God,
60Where women walked whose painted images
- I have seen with candles round them in the
- They bent this way and that, one to another,
- Playing: and over the long golden hair
- Of each there floated like a ring of fire
- Which when she stooped stooped with her, and when she rose
- Rose with her. Then a breeze flew in among them,
- As if a window had been opened in heaven
- For God to give his blessing from, before
- This world of ours should set; (for in my dream
70I thought our world was setting, and the sun
, a spent taper;) and beneath that gust
- The rings of light quivered like forest-leaves.
- Then all the blessed maidens who were there
- Stood up together, as it were a voice
- That called them; and they threw their
Making their bosoms all jut out at once,
- And smote their palms, and all laughed up at once,
- For the strong heavenly joy they had in them
- To hear God bless the world. Wherewith I woke:
80And looking round, I saw as usual
- That she was standing there with her long locks
- Pressed to her side; and her laugh ended theirs.
- For always when I see her now, she laughs.
- And yet her childish laughter haunts me too,
- The life of this dead terror; as in days
- When she, a child, dwelt with me. I must tell
- Something of those days yet before the end.
- Another later thing comes back to me
- 'Twas in those hardest foulest days of all,
- When still from his shut palace, sitting clean
- Above the splash of blood, old M
130(May his soul die, and never-dying worms
- Feast on its pain for ever!) used to thin
- His year's doomed hundreds daintily, each month
- Thirties and fifties. This time, as I think,
- Was when his thrift forbad the poor to take
- That evil brackish salt which the dry rocks
- Keep all through winter when the sea draws in.
- The first I heard of it was a chance shot
- Here and there in the street, and on the stones
- A stumbling clatter as of horse hemmed round.
140Then, when she saw me hurry out of doors,
- My gun slung at my shoulder and my knife
- Stuck in my girdle, she smoothed down my hair
- And laughed to see me look so brave, and leaped
- Up to my neck and kissed me. She was still
- A child; and yet that kiss was on my lips
- So hot all day where the smoke shut us in.
- For now, being always with her, the first love
- I had—the father's
, brother's love—was changed,
- I think, in somewise; like a holy thought
150Which is a prayer before one knows of it.
- The first time I perceived this, I remember,
- Was once when after hunting I came home
- Weary, and she brought food and fruit for me,
- And sat down at my feet upon the floor
- Leaning against my side. But when I felt
- Her sweet head reach from that low seat of hers
- So high as to be laid upon my heart,
- I turned and looked upon my darling there
- And marked for the first time how tall she was;
160And my heart beat with so much violence
- Under her cheek, I thought she could not choose
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in DGR's penmanship.
Manuscript Addition: In order
Editorial Description: Notation along right hand side of page. Not in DGR's penmanship
- But wonder at it soon and ask me why;
- And so I bade her rise and eat with me.
- And when, remembering all and counting back
- The time
, I made out
fourteen years for her
- And told her so, she gazed
into my face,
And bent her body back like a bent bow,
- And drew her long hands through her hair, and asked me
- If she was not a woman; and then laughed:
170And as she stooped in laughing, I could see
- Beneath the growing throat the breasts half globed
- Like folded lilies
deepset in the stream.
Printer's Direction: one word
Editorial Description: In right hand margin, next to “under
lip” in line 176.
- Yes, let me think of her as then; for so
- Her image, Father,
does not bring
is not like the sights
- Which come when you are gone. She had a mouth
- Made to bring death to life,—the underlip
- Sucked in, as if it strove to kiss itself.
- Her face was ever pale, as when one stoops
- Over wan water; and the dark crisped hair
180And the hair's shadow made it paler still
Deep-serried locks, the darkness of the cloud
Where the moon dwells in eddying waves of glo
Transcription Gap: at least two letters (image trunc)
Where the moon gazes,
Where the moon's gaze is shrined in eddying gloom.
- Her body bore her neck as the tree's stem
- Bears the top branch; and as the branch sustains
- Its pride of flower
s and fruit, her high neck bore
- That face made wonderful with night and day.
- Her voice was swift, yet ever the last words
- Fell lingeringly; and rounded finger-tips
- She had, that clung a little where they touched
190And then were gone o' the instant. Her great eyes,
- That sometimes turned half dizzily beneath
- The passionate lids, as faint, when she would speak
- Had also in them hidden springs of mirth
- Which under the dark lashes evermore
- Shook to her laugh, as when a bird flies low
- Between the water and the willow-leaves,
- And the shade quivers till he wins the light.
Printer's Direction: make equal
Editorial Description: Notation attached to first two lines of Italian song, to eliminate the
indentation of the song's first line.
- La bella donna*
- Piangendo disse:
230‘Come son fisse
- Le stelle in cielo!
Transcribed Footnote (page 11):
Note: Pagenote formatted in two columns at bottom of page.
- * She wept, sweet lady,
- And said in weeping:
- ‘What spell is keeping
- The stars so steady?
- Why does the power
- Of the sun's noon-hour
- To sleep so move me?
- And the moon in heaven,
- Stained where she passes
10 As a worn-out glass is,—
- Wearily driven,
- Why walks she above me?
- ‘Stars, moon, and sun too,
- I'm tired of either
- And all together!
- Whom speak they unto
- That I should listen?
- For very surely,
- Though my arms and shoulders
20 Dazzle beholders,
- And my eyes glisten,
- All's nothing purely!
- What are words said for
- At all about them,
- If he they are made for
- Can do without them
- She laughed, sweet lady,
- And said in laughing:
- ‘His hand clings half in
My own already!
- Oh! do you love me?
- Oh! speak of passion
- In no new fashion,
- No loud inveighings,
- But the old sayings
- You once said of me.
: “As summer,
- Through boughs grown brittle,
- Comes back a little
40 Ere frosts benumb her,—
- So bring'st thou to me
- All leaves and flowers,
- Though autumn's gloomy
- To-day in the bowers.
- ‘Oh! does he love me,
- When my voice teaches
- The very speeches
- He then spoke of me?
- Alas! what flavour
50 Still with me lingers?’
- (But she laughed as my kisses
- Glowed in her fingers
- With love's old blisses.)
- ‘Oh! where's one favour
- Left me to woo him,
- Whose whole poor savour
- Belongs not to him?’
- Quel fiato anelo
- Dello stanco sole,
- Quanto m'assonna!
- E la luna, macchiata
- Come uno specchio
- Logoro e vecchio,—
- Faccia affannata.
e cosa vuole?
è stelle, luna, e sole,
- Ciascun m'annoja
- E m'annojano insieme;
- Non me ne preme
- Nè ci prendo gioja.
- E veramente,
- Che le spalle sien franche
- E le braccia bianche
- E il seno caldo e tondo,
- Non mi fa niente.
250Chè cosa al mondo
- Posso più far di questi
- Se non piacciono a te, come dicesti?’
- La donna rise
- E riprese ridendo:—
- ‘Questa mano che prendo
- E dunque mia?
- Tu m'ami dunque?
- Dimmelo ancora,
- Non in modo qualunque,
260Ma le parole
- Belle e precise
- Che dicesti pria.
La state talora
un qualche istante
Tornare innanzi inverno,
Così ta fai ch'io scerno
Le foglie tutte quante
Ben ch'io certo tenessi
Per passato l'autunno.
- ‘Eccolo il mio alunno!
- Io debbo insegnargli
- Quei cari detti istessi
- Ch'ei mi disse una volta!
- Oimè! Che cosa dargli,’
- (Ma ridea piano piano
- Dei baci in sulla mano,)
- ‘Ch'ei non m'abbia da lungo tempo tolta?’
- That I should sing upon this bed!—with you
280To listen, and such words still left to say!
- Yet was it I that sang? The voice seemed hers,
- As on the very day she
done, she took out of my hand
- Something that I had played with all the while
- And laid it down beyond my reach; and so
- Turning my face round till it fronted hers,—
- ‘Weeping or laughing, which was best?’
- But these are foolish tales. How should I show
- The heart that glowed then with love's heat, each day
290More and more brightly?—when for long years now
- The very flame that flew about the heart,
- And gave it fiery wings, has come to be
- The lapping blaze of hell's environment
- Whose tongues all bid the molten heart despair.
- Yet one more thing comes back on me to-night
- Which I may tell you: for it bore my soul
- Dread firstlings of the brood that re
nd it now.
- It chanced that in our last year's wanderings
- We dwelt at Monza, far away from home,
300If home we had: and in the Duomo there
- I sometimes entered with her when she prayed.
- An Image of Our Lady stands there, wrought
- In marble by some great Italian hand
- In the great days when she and Italy
- Sat on one throne together: and to her
- And to none else
child would tell loved one told
- She was a woman then; and as she knelt,—
- Her sweet brow in the sweet brow's shadow there,—
- They seemed two kindred forms whereby our land
310(Whose work still serves the world for miracle)
- Made manifest herself in womanhood.
- Father, the day I speak of was the first
- For weeks that I had borne her company
- Into the Duomo; and those weeks had been
- Much troubled, for then first the glimpses came
f some impenetrable restlessness
- Growing in her to make her changed and cold.
- And as we entered there that day, I bent
- My eyes on the fair Image, and I said
320Within my heart, ‘Oh
turn her heart to me!’
- And so I left her to her prayers, and went
- To gaze upon the pride of Monza's shrine,
- Where in the sacristy the
light still falls
- Upon the Iron Crown of Italy,
- On whose crowned heads the day has closed, nor yet
The daybreak gilds another head to crown.
- But coming back, I wondered when I saw
- That the sweet Lady of her prayers now stood
- Alone without her; until further off,
- Tinselled and gewgawed, a slight German toy,
- I saw her kneel, still praying. At my step
- She rose, and side by side we left the church.
- I was much moved, and sharply questioned her
- Of her transferred devotion; but she seemed
- Stubborn and heedless; till she lightly laughed
- And said: ‘The old Madonna? Aye indeed,
- ‘She had my old thoughts,—this one has
- Then silent to the soul I held my way:
340And from the fountains of the public place
- Unto the pigeon-haunted pinnacles,
- Bright wings and water winnowed the bright air;
- And stately with her laugh's subsiding smile
- She went, with clear-swayed waist and towering neck
- And hands held light before her; and the face
- Which long had made a day in my life's night
- Was night in day to me; as all men's eyes
- Turned on her beauty, and she seemed to tread
- Beyond my heart to the world made for her.
Printer's Direction: too much space
Editorial Description: Notation by DGR, between “laugh's”
and “subsiding” in line 344.
Note: Page has negative impression of ink from facing page. Text blurred.
Editorial Description: Paragraph indentation symbol, attached by DGR to the beginning of line 351.
350Ah there! my wounds will snatch my sense again:
- The pain comes billowing on like a full cloud
- Of thunder, and the flash that breaks from it
- Leaves my brain burning. That's the wound he gave,
- The Austrian whose white coat I still made match
- With his white face, only the two were red
- As suits his trade. The devil makes them wear
- White for a livery, that the blood may show
- Braver that brings them to him. So he looks
- Sheer o'er the field and knows his own at once.
360Give me a draught of water in that cup;
- My voice feels thick; perhaps you do not hear;
- But you
must hear. If you mistake my words
- And so absolve me, I am sure the blessing
- Will burn my soul. If you mistake my words
- And so absolve me, Father, the great sin
- Is yours, not mine: mark this: your soul shall burn
- With mine for it. I have seen pictures where
- Souls burned with Latin shriekings in their mouths:
- Shall my end be as theirs? Nay, but I know
370'Tis you shall shriek in Latin. Some bell rings,
- Rings through my brain: it strikes the hour in hell.
- At Iglio in the first thin shade o' the hills
390The sand is black and red. The black was black
- When what was
spilt that day sank into it,
- And the red scarcely darkened. There I stood
- This night with her, and saw the sand the same.
- What would you have me tell you? Father, father,
- How shall I make you know? You have not known
- The dreadful soul of woman, who one day
- Forgets the old and takes the new to heart,
- Forgets what man remembers, and therewith
- Forgets the man. Nor can I clearly tell
400How the change happened between her and me.
- Her eyes looked on me from an emptied heart
- When most my heart was full of her; and still
- In every corner of myself I sought
- To find what service failed her; and no less
- Than in the good time past, there all was hers.
- What do you love? Your Heaven? Conceive it spread
- For one first year of all eternity
- All round you with all joys and gifts of God;
- And then when most your soul is blent with it
410And all yields song together,—then it stands
- O' the sudden like a pool that once gave back
- Your image, but now drowns it and is clear
- Again,—or like a sun bewitched, that burns
- Your shadow from you, and still shines in sight.
- How could you bear it? Would you not cry out,
- Among those eyes grown blind to you, those ears
- That hear no more your voice you hear the same,—
- ‘God! what is left but hell for company,
- But hell, hell, hell?’—until the name
420Whirled with hot wind and sucked you down in fire?
- Even so I stood the day her empty heart
- Left her place empty in our home, while yet
- I knew not why she went nor where she went
- Nor how to reach her: so I stood the day
- When to my prayers at last one sight of her
- Was granted, and I looked on heaven made pale
- With scorn, and heard heaven mock me in that laugh.
- My Father,
was is hard
- To tell you
of one thing on
the last things of that last day;
But I must tell you all now. While I stopped
- To buy the dagger at the village fair,
- I saw two cursed rats about the place
440I knew for spies—blood-sellers both. That day
- Was not yet over; for three hours to come
- I prized my life: and so I looked around
- For safety. A poor painted mountebank
- Was playing pranks and shouting in a crowd.
- I knew he must have heard my name, so I
- Pushed past and whispered to him who I was,
- And of my danger. Straight he hustled me
- Into his booth, as it were in the trick,
- And brought me out next minute with my face
450All smeared in patches and a zany's gown;
- And there I handed him his cups and balls
- And swung the sand-bags round to clear the ring
- For half an hour. The spies came once and looked;
- And while they stopped, and made all sights and sounds
- Sharp to my startled senses, I remember
- A woman laughed above me. I looked
- And saw her—a brown, handsome harlot—leaning
- Half through a tavern window thick with vine.
- Some man had come behind her in the room,
460And caught her by her arms, and she had turned
- With that coarse empty laugh. I saw him there
- Munching her neck with kisses, while the vine
- Crawled in her back.
- And three hours afterwards,
- When she that I had run all risks to meet
- Laughed as I told you, my life burned to death
- Within me, for I thought it like the laugh
- Heard at the fair. She had not left me long;
- But all she might have changed to, or might change to,
- (I know nought since—she never speaks a word—)
470Seemed in that laugh. Have I not told you yet,
- Not told you all this time what happened, Father,
- When I had offered her the little knife,
- And bade her keep it for my sake that loved her,
- And she had laughed? Have I not told you yet?
- ‘Take it,’ I said to her the
- And keep it for my sake;’ and in her heart
- I plunged the blade, and with her blood my hand
- Was burnt; and like some wine of hell, her blood
- Rushed to my brain, and as in fire my soul
480Swam in it, and it filled the sun and sea
- With one red blindness. So she took the knife, —
- Took it, not laughing as I bade her then,—
- And fell, and her stiff boddice scooped the sand
- Into her bosom.
Note: Last stanza on page 20 entirely stricken by DGR. Replaced with first
stanza on page 21.
Manuscript Addition: b
Editorial Description: Lower-case letter hand-written in upper left-hand corner of page. Not in
- “Take it,” I said to her the second time,
“And keep it for my sake.”
- “Take it and keep it.” And then
came a fire
- That burnt my hand; and then the fire was blood,
- And sea and sky were blood and fire, and all
- The day was one red blindness; till it seemed
480Within the whirling brain's entanglement
- That she or I or all things bled to death.
- And then I found her lying at my feet
- And knew that I had stabbed her, and still saw
- The look she gave me when she took the knife
- Deep in her heart, even as I bade her then,
- And fell, and her stiff boddice scooped the sand
- Into her bosom.
- And she keeps it, see—
- Do you not see she keeps it? There beneath
- Wet fingers and wet tresses—in her heart!
490For look you, when she stirs her hand, it shows
- The little hilt of horn and pearl,—even such
- A dagger as our women of the coast
- Twist in their garters.
- Father, I have done—
- And from her side now she unwinds the thick
- Dark hair; all round her side it is wet through,
- But, like the sand at Iglio, does not change.
- Now you may see the dagger clearly. Father,
- I have told all. Tell me at once what hope
- Can reach me still; for now she draws it out
500Slowly, and only smiles as yet. Look, Father,
- She scarcely smiles: but I shall hear her laugh
- Soon, when she shows the crimson blade to God.
Manuscript Addition: b
Editorial Description: Lower-case letter hand-written in upper left-hand corner of page. Not in DGR's penmanship
“Vengeance of Jenny's case! Fie on her! Never name her,
- Lazy laughing languid Jenny,
- Fond of a kiss and fond of a guinea,
- Whose head is on my knee to-night;—
- (Have all our dances left it light
- With their wild tunes?)—Ah, Jenny, queen
- Of kisses which the blush between
- Could hardly make much daintier!—Nay,
- Poor flower left torn since yesterday
- Until to-morrow leave you bare;
10Poor handful of bright spring-water
- Flung in the whirlpool's shrieking face!—
- Poor shameful Jenny, full of grace
- Thus with your head upon my knee;—
look, whose voice,
person or whose purse may be
- The lodestar of your reverie?
- This room of yours, my Jenny, looks
- A change from mine so full of books,
- Whose serried ranks hold fast, forsooth,
- So many captive hours of youth,—
20The hours they thieve from day and night
- To make one's cherished work come right,
- And leave it wrong for all their theft,
- Even as to-night my work was left:
- Until I vowed that since my brain
- And eyes of dancing seemed so fain,
- My feet should have some dancing too:—
- And thus it was I met with you.
- Well, I suppose 'twas hard to part,
- For here I am. And now, sweetheart,
30You seem too tired to get to bed.
- It was a careless life I led
- When rooms like this were
scarce so strange
No long time since.
Not long ago. What breeds the change,—
- The many aims or the few years?
- Because to-night it all appears
- Something I do not know again.
- If of myself you think at all,
- What is the thought?—conjectural
- On sorry matters best unsolved?—
- Or inly is each grace revolved
- To fit me with a lure?—or (sad
- To think!) perhaps you're merely glad
- That I'm not drunk or ruffianly
60And let you rest upon my knee.
- For sometimes, were the truth confess'd,
- You're thankful for a little rest,—
- Glad from the crush to rest within,
- From the heart-sickness and the din
Where envy's voice
, at virtue's pitch
- Mocks you because your gown is rich;
- And from the pale girl's dumb rebuke,
- Whose ill-clad grace and toil-worn look
- Proclaim the strength that keeps her weak
70And other nights than yours bespeak;
- And from the
wise unchildish elf,
- To schoolmate lesser than himself
- Pointing you out, what thing you are:—
- Yes, from the daily jeer and jar,
- From shame and shame's outbraving too,
- Is rest not sometimes sweet to you?—
- But most from the hatefulness of man
- Who spares not to end what he began,
- Whose acts are foul and his speech hard,
80Who, having used you, afterward
- Thrusts you aside, as when I dine
- I serve the dishes and the wine.
- Well, handsome Jenny mine, sit up,
- I've filled our glasses, let us sup,
- And do not let me think of you,
- Lest shame of yours suffice for two.
- What, still so tired? Well, well then, keep
- Your head there, so you do not sleep;
- But that the weariness may pass
90And leave you merry, take this glass.
- Ah! lazy lily hand, more bless'd
- If ne'er in rings it had been dress'd
- Nor ever by a glove conceal'd!
- What, Jenny, are your lilies dead?
- Aye, and the snow-white leaves are spread
- Like winter on the garden-bed.
- But you had roses left in May,—
- They were not gone too. Jenny, nay,
110But must your roses die away?
- Even so; the leaves are curled apart,
- Still red as from the broken heart,
- And here's the naked stem of thorns.
- Nay, nay, mere words. Here nothing warns
- As yet of winter. Sickness here
- Or want alone could waken fear,—
- Nothing but passion wrings a tear.
- Except when there may rise unsought
- Haply at times a passing thought
120Of the old days which seem to be
- Much older than any history
- That is written in any book;
- When she would lie in fields and look
- Along the ground through the thick grass,
- And wonder where the city was,
- Far out of sight, whose broil and bale
- They told her then for a child's tale.
- Jenny, you know the city now
- A child can tell the tale there, how
130Some things, which are not yet enroll'd
- In market-lists, are bought and sold
- Even till the early Sunday light,
- When Saturday night is market-night
- Everywhere, be it dry or wet,
- And market-night in the Haymarket.
- Our learned London children know,
- Poor Jenny, all your mirth and woe;
- Have seen your lifted silken skirt
- Advertize dainties through the dirt;
140Have seen your coach-wheels splash rebuke
- On virtue; and have learned your look
- When, wealth and health slipped past, you stare
- Along the streets alone, and there,
- Round the long park, across the bridge
- The cold lamps at the pavement's edge
- Wind on together and apart,
- A fiery serpent for your heart.
What Jenny, fast asleep? . . . . How fair,
Added TextWhy, Jenny, you're asleep at last!—
Added TextAsleep, poor Jenny, hard and fast,—
Added TextSo young and soft and tired; so fair
With chin nestled in her hair,
Added TextWith chin thus nestled in your hair,
- Mouth quiet, eyelids almost blue
- As if some sky of dreams shone through!
170Just as another woman sleeps!
- Enough to throw one's thoughts in heaps
- Of doubt and horror,—what to say
- Or think,—this awful secret sway,
- The potter's power over the clay!
- Of the same lump (it has been said)
- For honour and dishonour made,
- Two sister vessels. Here is one.
- My cousin Nell is fond of fun,
- And fond of dress, and change, and praise,
180So mere a woman in her ways:
- And if her sweet eyes rich in youth
- Are like her lips that tell the truth,
- My cousin Nell is fond of love.
- And she's the girl I'm proudest of.
- Who does not prize her, guard her well?
- The love of change, in cousin Nell,
- Shall find the best and hold it dear:
- The unconquered mirth turn quieter
- Not through her own, through others' woe:
190The conscious pride of beauty glow
- Beside another's pride in her,
- One little part of all they share.
- For Love himself shall ripen these
- In a kind soil to just increase
- Through years of fertilizing peace.
- Of the same lump (as it is said)
For honour and dishonour made,
- Two sister vessels. Here is one.
- It makes a goblin of the sun.
- Each of such curdled lives alike
- A life for which my twelve hours strike
- And time must be and time must end.
- Hard to keep sight of! What might tend
- To give the thought clear presence? Well,
- Remember it is possible,
- Whether I please or do not please,
220That in the making each of these
- A separate man has lost his soul.
- Fair shines the gilded aureole
- In which our highest painters place
- Some living woman's simple face.
- And the stilled features thus descried
- As Jenny's long throat droops aside,—
- The loving underlip drawn in,
- The shadows where the cheeks are thin,
- And pure wide curve from ear to chin,—
230With Raffael's or Da Vinci's hand
- To show them to men's souls, might stand,
- Whole ages long, the whole world through,
- For preachings of what God can do.
- What has man done here? How atone,
- Great God, for this which man has done?
- And for the body and soul which by
- Man's pitiless doom must now comply
- With lifelong hell, what lullaby
- Of sweet forgetful second birth
240Remains? All dark. No sign on earth
- What measure of God's rest endows
- The many mansions of his house.
- If but a woman's heart might see
- Such erring heart unerringly
- For once! But that can never be.
- Yet, Jenny, looking long at you,
270The woman almost fades from view.
- A cypher of man's changeless sum
- Of lust, past, present, and to come,
- Is left. A riddle that one shrinks
- To challenge from the scornful sphinx.
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- Like a toad within a stone
- Seated while Time crumbles on;
- Which sits there since the earth was curs'd
- For Man's transgression at the first;
- Which, living through all centuries,
280Not once has seen the sun arise;
- Whose life, to its cold circle charmed,
- The earth's whole summers have not warmed;
- Which always—whither so the stone
- Be cast—sits there, deaf, blind, alone;—
- Aye, and shall not be driven out
- Till that which shuts him round about
- Break at the very Master's stroke,
- And the dust thereof vanish as smoke,
- And the seed of Man vanish as dust:—
290Even so within this world is Lust.
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- Come, come, what use in thoughts like this?
- Poor little Jenny, good to kiss,—
- You'd not believe by what strange roads
- Thought travels, when your beauty goads
- A man to-night to think of toads!
- Jenny, wake up
. . . . Why, there's the dawn!
- And there's an early waggon drawn
- To market, and some sheep that jog
- Bleating before a barking dog;
300And the old streets come peering through
- Another night that London knew;
- And all as ghostlike as the lamps.
- So on the wings of day decamps
- My last night's frolic. Glooms begin
- To shiver off as lights creep in
- Past the gauze curtains half drawn-to,
- And the lamp's doubled shade grows blue,—
- Your lamp, my Jenny, kept alight,
- Like a wise virgin's
, all one night!
310And in the alcove coolly spread
- Glimmers with dawn your
- And yonder your fair face I see
- Reflected lying on my knee,
- Where teems with first foreshadowings
- Your pier-glass scrawled with diamond rings.
- For even the Paphian Venus seems
- A goddess o'er the realms of love,
350When silver-shrined in shadowy grove:
- Aye, or let offerings nicely placed
But hide Priapus to the waist,
- And whoso looks on him shall see
- An eligible deity.
- Why, Jenny, waking here alone
- May help you to remember one!
- I think I see you when you wake,
- And rub your eyes for me
, and shake
- My gold, in rising, from your hair,
360A Danaë for a moment there.
- Jenny, my love rang true! for still
- Love at first sight is vague
- That tinkling makes him audible.
- And must I mock you to the last,
- Ashamed of my own shame
- Because some thoughts not born amiss
- Rose at a poor fair face like this?
- Well, of such thoughts so much I know:
Though all the memory's long outworn
Of many a double-bedded morn
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