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Still clutching his treasure he had died ;
And as he lay there, he appeared
A statue of gold with a silver beard,
His arms outstretched as if crucified.”
This is the story, strange and true,
That the great captain Aläu
Told to his brother the Tartar Khan,
When he rode that day into Kambalu
By the road that leadeth to Ispahan.
THE WIND OVER THE CHIMNEY.
SEE, the fire is sinking low,
Dusky red the embers glow,
While above them still I cower,
While a moment more I linger,
Though the clock, with lifted finger,
Points beyond the midnight hour.
Sings the blackened log a tune
Learned in some forgotten June
From a schoolboy at his play,
When they both were young together,
Heart of youth and summer weather
Making all their holiday.
And the night-wind rising, hark !
How above there in the dark,
In the midnight and the snow,
Ever wilder, fiercer, grander,
Like the trumpets of Iskander,
All the noisy chimneys blow!
Every quivering tongue of flame
Seerns to niurmur some great name,
Seems to say to me, Aspire !"
But the night-wind answers, Hollow
Are the visions that you follow,
Into darkness sinks your fire !"
Then the flicker of the blaze
Gleams on volumes of old days,
Written by masters of the art,
Loud through whose majestic pages
Rolls the melody of ages,
Throb the harp-strings of the heart.
And again the tongues of flame
Start exulting and exclaim :
“These are prophets, bards, and seers;
In the horoscope of nations,
Like ascendant constellations,
They control the coming years."
But the night-wind cries : “Despair !
Those who walk with feet of air
Leave no long-enduring marks;
At God's forges incandescent
Mighty hammers beat incessant,
These are but the flying sparks.
“Dust are all the hands that wrought;
Books are sepulchres of thought;
The dead laurels of the dead
Rustle for a moment only,
Like the withered leaves in lonely
Churchyards at some passing tread."
Suddenly the flame sinks down;
Sink the rumours of renown;
And alone the night-wind drear
Clamours louder, wilder, vaguer,–
'Tis the brand of Meleager
Dying on the hearth-stone here !"
And I answer,
• Though it be,
Why should that discomfort me?
No endeavour is in vain;
Its reward is in the doing,
And the rapture of pursuing
Is the prize the vanquished gain.”
O CURFEW of the setting sun ! O Bells of Lynn !
O requiem of the dying day! O Bells of Lynn !
From the dark belfries of yon cloud-cathedral wafted,
Your sounds aerial seem to float, O Bells of Lynn !
Borne on the evening wind across the crimson twilight,
O’er land and sea they rise and fall, O Bells of Lynn !
The fisherman in his boat, far out beyond the headland,
Listens, and leisurely rows ashore, O ́Bells of Lynn !
Over the shining sands the wandering cattle homeward
Follow each other at your call, O Bells of Lynn !
The distant lighthouse hears, and with his flaming signal
Answers you, passing the watchword on, O Bells of Lynn !
And down the darkening coast run the tumultuous surges,
And clap their hands, and shout to you, O Bells of Lyon !
Till from the shuddering sea, with your wild incantations,
Ye summon up the spectral moon, 0 Bells of Lynn !
And startled at the sight, like the weird woman of Eudor,
Ye cry aloud, and then are still, O Bells of Lynn !
KILLED AT THE FORD.
He is dead, the beautiful youth,
The heart of honour, the tongue of trath,
He, the life and light of us all,
Whose voice was blithe as a bugle-call,
Whom all eyes followed with one consent,
The cheer of whose laugh, and whose pleasant word,
Hushed all murmurs of discontent.
Only last night, as we rode along
Down the dark of the mountain gap,
To visit the picket-guard at the ford,
Little dreaming of any mishap,
He was humming the words of some old song:
“Two red roses he had on his cap,
And another he bore at the point of his sword.”
Sudden and swift a whistling ball
Came out of a wood, and the voice was still ;
Something I heard in the darkness fall,
And for a moment my blood grew chil?;
I spake in a whisper, as he who speaks
In a room where some one is lying deal ;
But he made no answer to what I said.
We lifted him up to his saddle again,
And through the mire and the mist and the rou
Carried him back to the silent camp,
And laid him as if asleep on his bed ;
And I saw by the light of the surgeon's lamp
Two white roses upon his cheeks,
And one, just over his heart, blood-red !
And I saw in a vision how far and fleet
That fatal bullet went speeding forth
Till it reached a town in the distant North,
Till it reached a house in a sunny street,
Till it reached a heart that ceased to beat
Without a murmur, without a cry;
And a bell was tolled in that far-off town,
For one who had passed from cross to crown,
And the neighbours wondered that she should die.
How many lives, made beautiful and sweet
By self-devotion and by self-restraint,
Whose pleasure is to run without complaint
On unknown errands of the Paraclete,
Wanting the reverence of unshodden feet,
Fail of the nimbus which the artists paint
Around the shining forehead of the saint,
And are in their completeness incomplete!
In the old Tuscan town stands Giotto's tower,
The lily of Florence blossoming in stone, —
A vision, a delight, and a desire,
The builder's perfect and centennial flower,
That in the night of ages bloomed alone,
But warting still the glory of the spire.
'Tis late at night, and in the realm of sleep
My little lambs are folded like the flocks ;
From room to room I hear the wakeful clocks
Challenge the passing hour, like guards that keep Their solitary watch on tower and steep;
Far off I hear the crowing of the cocks,
And through the opening door that time unlocks
Feel the fresh breathing of To-morrow creep.
To-morrow! the mysterious, unknown guest,
Who cries to me : “Remember Barmecide,
And tremble to be happy with the rest."
And I make answer: “I am satisfied ;
I dare not ask ; I know not what is best;
God hath already said what shall betide.”
OFT have I seen at some cathedral door
A labourer, pausing in the dust and heat,
Lay down his burden, and with reverent feet
Enter, and cross himself, and on the floor
Kneel to repeat his paternoster o'er ;
Far off the noises of the world retreat;
The loud vociferations of the street
Become an undistinguishable roar.
So, as I enter here from day to day,
And leave my burden at this minster gate,
Kneeling in prayer, and not ashamed to pray,
The tumult of the time disconsolate
To inarticulate murmurs dies away,
While the eternal ages watch and wait.
How strange the sculptures that adorn these towers !
This crowd of statues, in whose folded sleeves
Birds build their nests; while canopied with leaves
Parvis and portal bloom like trellised bowers,
And the vast minster seems a cross of flowers !
But tiends and dragons on the gargoyled eaves Watch the dead Christ between the living thieves, And, underneath, the traitor Judas lowers ! Ah! from what ágonies of heart and brain,
What exultations trampling on despair,
What tenderness, what tears, what hate of wrong, What passionate outcry of a soul in pain,
Uprose this poein of the earth and air,
This medieval miracle of song !
1 ENTER, and I see thee in the gloom
Of the long aisles, O poet saturnine !
And strive to make my steps keep pace with thine.
The air is filled with some unknown perfume ;
The congregation of the dead make room
For thee to pass ; the votive tapers shine;
Like rooks that haunt Ravenna's groves of pine
The hovering echoes fly from tomb to tomb.