Page images
PDF
EPUB

PART IV

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining

Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote

The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance
With a glassy countenance

Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,

The Lady of Shalott.

Lying robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right -
The leaves upon her falling light -
Thro’ the noises of the night

She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,

The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,

Till her blood was frozen slowly
And her eyes were darken'd wholly,

Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reached upon the tide
The first house by the water side,
Singing in her song she died,

The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,

Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And around the prow they read her name,

The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross'd themselves for fear,

All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in His mercy lend her grace,

The Lady of Shalott.”

A LEGEND OF SERVICE 1

HENRY VAN DYKE

It pleased the Lord of Angels (praise his name !)

To hear, one day, report from those who came 1 From “Music and other Poems,” copyright, 1904, by Charles Scribner's Sons.

[ocr errors]

With pitying sorrow, or exultant joy,
To tell of earthly tasks in His employ;
For some were sorry when they saw how slow
The stream of heavenly love on earth must flow;
And some were glad because their eyes had seen,
Along its banks, fresh flowers and living green.
So, at a certain hour, before the throne
The youngest angel, Asmiel, stood alone;
Nor glad, nor sad, but full of earnest thought,
And thus his tidings to the Master brought:
“Lord, in the city Lupon I have found
Three servants of thy holy name, renowned
Above their fellows. One is very wise,
With thoughts that ever range above the skies;
And one is gifted with the golden speech
That makes men glad to hear when he will teach;
And one, with no rare gift or grace endued,
Has won the people's love by doing good.
With three such saints Lupon is trebly blest;
But, Lord, I fain would know which loves thee best ?"

Then spake the Lord of Angels, to whose look
The hearts of all are like an open book:
"In every soul the secret thought I read,
And well I know who loves me best indeed.
But every life has pages vacant still,
Whereon a man may write the thing he will;
Therefore I read in silence, day by day,
And wait for hearts untaught to learn my way.
But thou shalt go to Lupon, to the three
Who serve me there, and take this word from me:
Tell each of them his Master bids him go
Alone to Spiran's huts, across the snow;
There he shall find a certain task for me,
But what, I do not tell to them nor thee.

2

Give thou the message, make my word the test,
And crown for me the one who answers best."
Silent the angel stood, with folded hands,
To take the imprint of his Lord's commands;
Then drew one breath, obedient and elate,
And passed the self-same hour, through Lupon's gate.

First to the Temple door he made his way;
And then because it was an holy-day,
He saw the folk by thousands thronging, stirred
By ardent thirst to hear the preacher's word.
Then, while the echoes murmured Bernol's name,
Through aisles that hushed behind him, Bernol came;
Strung to the keenest pitch of conscious might,
With lips prepared and firm, and eyes alight.
One moment at the pulpit step he knelt
In silent prayer, and on his shoulder felt
The angel's hand: .“The Master bids thee go
Alone to Spiran's huts, across the snow,
To serve Him there.” Then Bernol's hidden face
Went white as death, and for about the space
Of ten slow heart-beats there was no reply;
Till Bernol looked around and whispered, “Why?”
But answer to this question came there none;
The angel sighed, and with a sigh was gone.

Within the humble house where Malvin spent
His studious years, on holy things intent,
Sweet stillness reigned; and there the angel found
The saintly sage immersed in thought profound,
Weaving with patient toil and willing care
A web of wisdom, wonderful and fair:
A seamless robe for Truth's great bridal meet,
And needing but one thread to be complete.

Then Asmiel touched his hand and broke the thread
Of fine-spun thought, and very gently said,
“The One of whom thou thinkest bids thee go
Alone to Spiran's huts, across the snow,
To serve Him there.” With sorrow and surprise
Malvin looked up, reluctance in his eyes.
The broken thought, the strangeness of the call,
The perilous passage of the mountain-wall,
The solitary journey, and the length
Of ways unknown, too great for his frail strength,
Appalled him. With a doubtful brow
He scanned the doubtful task, and muttered, “How?”
But Asmiel answered, as he turned to go,
With cold disheartened voice, “I do not know.”

Now as he went, with fading hope, to seek
The third and last, to whom God bade him speak,
Scarce twenty steps away whom should he meet
But Fermor, hurrying cheerful down the street,
With ready heart that faced his work like play,
And joyed to find it greater day by day!
The angel stopped him with uplifted hand,
And gave without delay his Lord's command:
“He whom thou servest here would have thee go
Alone to Spiran's huts, across the snow,
To serve Him there.” Ere Asmiel breathed again
The eager answer leaped to meet him, “When?”

The angel's face with inward joy grew bright,
And all his figure glowed with heavenly light;
He took the golden circlet from his brow
And gave the crown to Fermor, answering, "Now!
For thou hast met the Master's bidden test,
And I have found the man who loves Him best.

« PreviousContinue »