Author:

A Serenade At The Villa

I.

That was I, you heard last night,
When there rose no moon at all,
Nor, to pierce the strained and tight
Tent of heaven, a planet small:
Life was dead and so was light.

II.

Not a twinkle from the fly,
Not a glimmer from the worm;
When the crickets stopped their cry,
When the owls forbore a term,
You heard music; that was I.

III.

Earth turned in her sleep with pain,
Sultrily suspired for proof:
In at heaven and out again,
Lightning!—where it broke the roof,
Bloodlike, some few drops of rain.

IV.

What they could my words expressed,
O my love, my all, my one!
Singing helped the verses best,
And when singing’s best was done,
To my lute I left the rest.

V.

So wore night; the East was gray,
White the broad-faced hemlock-flowers:
There would be another day;
Ere its first of heavy hours
Found me, I had passed away.

VI.

What became of all the hopes,
Words and song and lute as well?
Say, this struck you—“When life gropes
“Feebly for the path where fell
“Light last on the evening slopes,

VII.

“One friend in that path shall be,
“To secure my step from wrong;
“One to count night day for me,
“Patient through the watches long,
“Serving most with none to see.”

VIII.

Never say—as something bodes—
“So, the worst has yet a worse!
“When life halts ‘neath double loads,
“Better the taskmaster’s curse
“Than such music on the roads!

IX.

“When no moon succeeds the sun,
“Nor can pierce the midnight’s tent
“Any star, the smallest one,
“While some drops, where lightning rent,
“Show the final storm begun—

X.

“When the fire-fly hides its spot,
“When the garden-voices fail
“In the darkness thick and hot,—
“Shall another voice avail,
“That shape be where these are not?

XI.

“Has some plague a longer lease,
“Proffering its help uncouth?
“Can’t one even die in peace?
“As one shuts one’s eyes on youth,
“Is that face the last one sees?”

XII.

Oh how dark your villa was,
Windows fast and obdurate!
How the garden grudged me grass
Where I stood—the iron gate
Ground its teeth to let me pass!

Evelyn Hope

I.

Beautiful Evelyn Hope is dead!
Sit and watch by her side an hour.
That is her book-shelf, this her bed;
She plucked that piece of geranium-flower,
Beginning to die too, in the glass;
Little has yet been changed, I think:
The shutters are shut, no light may pass
Save two long rays thro’ the hinge’s chink.

II.

Sixteen years old, when she died!
Perhaps she had scarcely heard my name;
It was not her time to love; beside,
Her life had many a hope and aim,
Duties enough and little cares,
And now was quiet, now astir,
Till God’s hand beckoned unawares,—
And the sweet white brow is all of her.

III.

Is it too late then, Evelyn Hope?
What, your soul was pure and true,
The good stars met in your horoscope,
Made you of spirit, fire and dew—
And, just because I was thrice as old
And our paths in the world diverged so wide,
Each was nought to each, must I be told?
We were fellow mortals, nought beside?

IV.

No, indeed! for God above
Is great to grant, as mighty to make,
And creates the love to reward the love:
I claim you still, for my own love’s sake!
Delayed it may be for more lives yet,
Through worlds I shall traverse, not a few:
Much is to learn, much to forget
Ere the time be come for taking you.

V.

But the time will come,—at last it will,
When, Evelyn Hope, what meant (I shall say)
In the lower earth, in the years long still,
That body and soul so pure and gay?
Why your hair was amber, I shall divine,
And your mouth of your own geranium’s red—
And what you would do with me, in fine,
In the new life come in the old one’s stead.

VI.

I have lived (I shall say) so much since then,
Given up myself so many times,
Gained me the gains of various men,
Ransacked the ages, spoiled the climes;
Yet one thing, one, in my soul’s full scope,
Either I missed or itself missed me:
And I want and find you, Evelyn Hope!
What is the issue? let us see!

VII.

I loved you, Evelyn, all the while.
My heart seemed full as it could hold?
There was place and to spare for the frank young smile,
And the red young mouth, and the hair’s young gold.
So, hush,—I will give you this leaf to keep:
See, I shut it inside the sweet cold hand!
There, that is our secret: go to sleep!
You will wake, and remember, and understand.

Life In A Bottle

Escape me?
Never–
Beloved!
While I am I, and you are you,
So long as the world contains us both,
Me the loving and you the loth,
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
My life is a fault at last, I fear:
It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.
But what if I fail of my purpose here?
It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
To dry one’s eyes and laugh at a fall,
And, baffled, get up and begin again,–
So the chace takes up one’s life, that’s all.
While, look but once from your farthest bound
At me so deep in the dust and dark,
No sooner the old hope goes to ground
Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark,
I shape me–
Ever
Removed!

A Woman’s Last Word

I.

Let’s contend no more, Love,
Strive nor weep:
All be as before, Love,
—Only sleep!

II.

What so wild as words are?
I and thou
In debate, as birds are,
Hawk on bough!

III.

See the creature stalking
While we speak!
Hush and hide the talking,
Cheek on cheek!

IV.

What so false as truth is,
False to thee?
Where the serpent’s tooth is
Shun the tree—

V.

Where the apple reddens
Never pry—
Lest we lose our Edens,
Eve and I.

VI.

Be a god and hold me
With a charm!
Be a man and fold me
With thine arm!

VII.

Teach me, only teach, Love
As I ought
I will speak thy speech, Love,
Think thy thought—

VIII.

Meet, if thou require it,
Both demands,
Laying flesh and spirit
In thy hands.

IX.

That shall be to-morrow
Not to-night:
I must bury sorrow
Out of sight:

X

—Must a little weep, Love,
(Foolish me!)
And so fall asleep, Love,
Loved by thee.

The Pied Piper Of Hamelin

I.

Hamelin Town’s in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its wall on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But, when begins my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so
From vermin, was a pity.

II.

Rats!
They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks’ own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women’s chats
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.

III.

At last the people in a body
To the Town Hall came flocking:
“’Tis clear,” cried they, “our Mayor’s a noddy;
“And as for our Corporation—shocking.
“To think we buy gowns lined with ermine
“For dolts that can’t or won’t determine
“What’s best to rid us of our vermin!
“You hope, because you’re old and obese,
“To find in the furry civic robe ease?
“Rouse up, sirs! Give your brains a racking
“To find the remedy we’re lacking,
“Or, sure as fate, we’ll send you packing!”
At this the Mayor and Corporation
Quaked with a mighty consternation.

IV.

An hour they sat in council,
At length the Mayor broke silence:
“For a guilder I’d my ermine gown sell,
“I wish I were a mile hence!
“It’s easy to bid one rack one’s brain—
“I’m sure my poor head aches again,
“I’ve scratched it so, and all in vain.
“Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!”
Just as he said this, what should hap
At the chamber door but a gentle tap?
“Bless us,” cried the Mayor, “what’s that?”
(With the Corporation as he sat,
Looking little though wondrous fat;
Nor brighter was his eye, nor moister
Than a too-long-opened oyster,
Save when at noon his paunch grew mutinous
For a plate of turtle green and glutinous)
“Only a scraping of shoes on the mat?
“Anything like the sound of a rat
“Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!”

V.

“Come in!”—the Mayor cried, looking bigger:
And in did come the strangest figure!
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of yellow and half of red,
And he himself was tall and thin,
With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin,
And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin,
No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin,
But lips where smiles went out and in;
There was no guessing his kith and kin:
And nobody could enough admire
The tall man and his quaint attire.
Quoth one: “It’s as my great-grandsire,
“Starting up at the Trump of Doom’s tone,
“Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!”

VI.

He advanced to the council-table
And, “Please your honours,” said he, “I’m able,
“By means of a secret charm, to draw
“All creatures living beneath the sun,
“That creep or swim or fly or run,
“After me so as you never saw!
“And I chiefly use my charm
“On creatures that do people harm,
“The mole and toad and newt and viper;
“And people call me the Pied Piper.”
(And here they noticed round his neck
A scarf of red and yellow stripe,
To match with his coat of the self-same cheque;
And at the scarf’s end hung a pipe;
And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying
As if impatient to be playing
Upon this pipe, as low it dangled
Over his vesture so old-fangled.)
“Yet,” said he, “poor piper as I am,
“In Tartary I freed the Cham,
“Last June, from his huge swarms of gnats;
“I eased in Asia the Nizam
“Of a monstrous brood of vampyre-bats:
“And as for what your brain bewilders,
“If I can rid your town of rats
“Will you give me a thousand guilders?”
“One? fifty thousand!”—was the exclamation
Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.

VII.

Into the street the Piper stept,
Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic slept
In his quiet pipe the while;
Then, like a musical adept,
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled,
Like a candle-flame where salt is sprinkled;
And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,
Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives—
Followed the Piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step for step they followed dancing,
Until they came to the river Weser,
Wherein all plunged and perished!
—Save one who, stout as Julius Csar,
Swam across and lived to carry
(As he, the manuscript he cherished)
To Rat-land home his commentary:
Which was, “At the first shrill notes of the pipe,
“I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,
“And putting apples, wondrous ripe,
“Into a cider-press’s gripe:
“And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards,
“And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards,
“And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks,
“And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks:
“And it seemed as if a voice
“(Sweeter far than b harp or b psaltery
“Is breathed) called out, `Oh rats, rejoice!
“ `The world is grown to one vast drysaltery!
“ `So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
“ `Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!’
“And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon,
“All ready staved, like a great sun shone
“Glorious scarce an inch before me,
“Just as methought it said, `Come, bore me!’
“—I found the Weser rolling o’er me.”

VIII.

You should have heard the Hamelin people
ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple.
“Go,” cried the Mayor, “and get long poles,
“Poke out the nests and block up the holes!
“Consult with carpenters and builders,
“And leave in our town not even a trace
“Of the rats!”—when suddenly, up the face
Of the Piper perked in the market-place,
With a, “First, if you please, my thousand guilders!”

IX.

A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue;
So did the Corporation too.
For council dinners made rare havoc
With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock;
And half the money would replenish
Their cellar’s biggest butt with Rhenish.
To pay this sum to a wandering fellow
With a gipsy coat of red and yellow!
“Beside,” quoth the Mayor with a knowing wink,
“Our business was done at the river’s brink;
“We saw with our eyes the vermin sink,
“And what’s dead can’t come to life, I think.
“So, friend, we’re not the folks to shrink
“From the duty of giving you something for drink,
“And a matter of money to put in your poke;
“But as for the guilders, what we spoke
“Of them, as you very well know, was in joke.
“Beside, our losses have made us thrifty.
“A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!”

X.

The Piper’s face fell, and he cried
“No trifling! I can’t wait, beside!
“I’ve promised to visit by dinnertime
“Bagdat, and accept the prime
“Of the Head-Cook’s pottage, all he’s rich in,
“For having left, in the Caliph’s kitchen,
“Of a nest of scorpions no survivor:
“With him I proved no bargain-driver,
“With you, don’t think I’ll bate a stiver!
“And folks who put me in a passion
“May find me pipe after another fashion.”

XI.

“How?” cried the Mayor, “d’ye think I brook
“Being worse treated than a Cook?
“Insulted by a lazy ribald
“With idle pipe and vesture piebald?
“You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst,
“Blow your pipe there till you burst!”

XII.

Once more he stept into the street
And to his lips again
Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane;
And ere he blew three notes (such sweet
Soft notes as yet musician’s cunning
Never gave the enraptured air)
There was a rustling that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.

XIII.

The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood
As if they were changed into blocks of wood,
Unable to move a step, or cry
To the children merrily skipping by,
—Could only follow with the eye
That joyous crowd at the Piper’s back.
But how the Mayor was on the rack,
And the wretched Council’s bosoms beat,
As the Piper turned from the High Street
To where the Weser rolled its waters
Right in the way of their sons and daughters!
However be turned from South to West,
And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed,
And after him the children pressed;
Great was the joy in every breast.
“He never can cross that mighty top!
“He’s forced to let the piping drop,
“And we shall see our children stop!”
When, lo, as they reached the mountain-side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain-side shut fast.
Did I say, all? No! One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame
His sadness, he was used to say,—
“It’s dull in our town since my playmates left!
“I can’t forget that I’m bereft
“Of all the pleasant sights they see,
“Which the Piper also promised me.
“For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,
“Joining the town and just at hand,
“Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew
“And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
“And everything was strange and new;
“The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,
“And their dogs outran our fallow deer,
“And honey-bees had lost their stings,
“And horses were born with eagles’ wings:
“And just as I became assured
“My lame foot would be speedily cured,
“The music stopped and I stood still,
“And found myself outside the hill,
“Left alone against my will,
“To go now limping as before,
“And never hear of that country more!”

XIV.

Alas, alas for Hamelin!
There came into many a burgher’s pate
A text which says that heaven’s gate
Opes to the rich at as easy rate
As the needle’s eye takes a camel in!
The mayor sent East, West, North and South,
To offer the Piper, by word of mouth,
Wherever it was men’s lot to find him,
Silver and gold to his heart’s content,
If he’d only return the way he went,
And bring the children behind him.
But when they saw ’twas a lost endeavour,
And Piper and dancers were gone for ever,
They made a decree that lawyers never
Should think their records dated duly
If, after the day of the month and year,
These words did not as well appear,
“And so long after what happened here
“On the Twenty-second of July,
“Thirteen hundred and seventy-six:”
And the better in memory to fix
The place of the children’s last retreat,
They called it, the Pied Piper’s Street—
Where any one playing on pipe or tabor
Was sure for the future to lose his labour.
Nor suffered they hostelry or tavern
To shock with mirth a street so solemn;
But opposite the place of the cavern
They wrote the story on a column,
And on the great church-window painted
The same, to make the world acquainted
How their children were stolen away,
And there it stands to this very day.
And I must not omit to say
That in Transylvania there’s a tribe
Of alien people who ascribe
The outlandish ways and dress
On which their neighbours lay such stress,
To their fathers and mothers having risen
Out of some subterraneous prison
Into which they were trepanned
Long time ago in a mighty band
Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land,
But how or why, they don’t understand.

XV.

So, Willy, let me and you be wipers
Of scores out with all men—especially pipers!
And, whether they pipe us free frm rats or frm mice,
If we’ve promised them aught, let us keep our promise!

Life In A Love

Escape me?
Never—
Beloved!
While I am I, and you are you,
So long as the world contains us both,
Me the loving and you the loth
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
My life is a fault at last, I fear:
It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.
But what if I fail of my purpose here?
It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
To dry one’s eyes and laugh at a fall,
And, baffled, get up and begin again,—
So the chace takes up one’s life ‘ that’s all.
While, look but once from your farthest bound
At me so deep in the dust and dark,
No sooner the old hope goes to ground
Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark,
I shape me—
Ever
Removed!

A Light Woman

I.

So far as our story approaches the end,
Which do you pity the most of us three?—
My friend, or the mistress of my friend
With her wanton eyes, or me?

II.

My friend was already too good to lose,
And seemed in the way of improvement yet,
When she crossed his path with her hunting-noose
And over him drew her net.

III.

When I saw him tangled in her toils,
A shame, said I, if she adds just him
To her nine-and-ninety other spoils,
The hundredth for a whim!

IV.

And before my friend be wholly hers,
How easy to prove to him, I said,
An eagle’s the game her pride prefers,
Though she snaps at a wren instead!

V.

So, I gave her eyes my own eyes to take,
My hand sought hers as in earnest need,
And round she turned for my noble sake,
And gave me herself indeed.

VI.

The eagle am I, with my fame in the world,
The wren is he, with his maiden face.
—You look away and your lip is curled?
Patience, a moment’s space!

VII.

For see, my friend goes shaling and white;
He eyes me as the basilisk:
I have turned, it appears, his day to night,
Eclipsing his sun’s disk.

VIII.

And I did it, he thinks, as a very thief:
“Though I love her—that, he comprehends—
“One should master one’s passions, (love, in chief)
“And be loyal to one’s friends!”

IX.

And she,—she lies in my hand as tame
As a pear late basking over a wall;
Just a touch to try and off it came;
‘Tis mine,—can I let it fall?

X.

With no mind to eat it, that’s the worst!
Were it thrown in the road, would the case assist?
‘Twas quenching a dozen blue-flies’ thirst
When I gave its stalk a twist.

XI.

And I,—what I seem to my friend, you see:
What I soon shall seem to his love, you guess:
What I seem to myself, do you ask of me?
No hero, I confess.

XII.

‘Tis an awkward thing to play with souls,
And matter enough to save one’s own:
Yet think of my friend, and the burning coals
He played with for bits of stone!

XIII.

One likes to show the truth for the truth;
That the woman was light is very true:
But suppose she says,—Never mind that youth!
What wrong have I done to you?

XIV.

Well, any how, here the story stays,
So far at least as I understand;
And, Robert Browning, you writer of plays,
Here’s a subject made to your hand!

A Pretty Woman

I.

That fawn-skin-dappled hair of hers,
And the blue eye
Dear and dewy,
And that infantine fresh air of hers!

II.

To think men cannot take you, Sweet,
And enfold you,
Ay, and hold you,
And so keep you what they make you, Sweet!

III

You like us for a glance, you know- –
For a word’s sake
Or a sword’s sake,
All’s the same, whate’er the chance, you know.

IV.

And in turn we make you ours, we say- –
You and youth too,
Eyes and mouth too,
All the face composed of flowers, we say.

V.

All’s our own, to make the most of, Sweet- –
Sing and say for,
Watch and pray for,
Keep a secret or go boast of, Sweet!

VI.

But for loving, why, you would not, Sweet,
Though we prayed you,
Paid you, brayed you
in a mortar- -for you could not, Sweet!

VII.

So, we leave the sweet face fondly there:
Be its beauty
Its sole duty!
Let all hope of grace beyond, lie there!

VIII.

And while the face lies quiet there,
Who shall wonder
That I ponder
A conclusion? I will try it there.

IX.

As,- -why must one, for the love foregone,
Scout mere liking?
Thunder-striking
Earth,- -the heaven, we looked above for, gone!

X.

Why, with beauty, needs there money be,
Love with liking?
Crush the fly-king
In his gauze, because no honey-bee?

XI.

May not liking be so simple-sweet,
If love grew there
‘Twould undo there
All that breaks the cheek to dimples sweet?

XII.

Is the creature too imperfect,
Would you mend it
And so end it?
Since not all addition perfects aye!

XIII.

Or is it of its kind, perhaps,
Just perfection- –
Whence, rejection
Of a grace not to its mind, perhaps?

XIV.

Shall we burn up, tread that face at once
Into tinder,
And so hinder
Sparks from kindling all the place at once?

XV.

Or else kiss away one’s soul on her?
Your love-fancies!
– -A sick man sees
Truer, when his hot eyes roll on her!

XVI.

Thus the craftsman thinks to grace the rose,- –
Plucks a mould-flower
For his gold flower,
Uses fine things that efface the rose:

XVII.

Rosy rubies make its cup more rose,
Precious metals
Ape the petals,- –
Last, some old king locks it up, morose!

XVIII.

Then how grace a rose? I know a way!
Leave it, rather.
Must you gather?
Smell, kiss, wear it- -at last, throw away!

Home Thoughts, From Abroad

Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

After

Take the cloak from his face, and at first
Let the corpse do its worst!

How he lies in his rights of a man!
Death has done all death can.
And, absorbed in the new life he leads,
He recks not, he heeds
Nor his wrong nor my vengeance; both strike
On his senses alike,
And are lost in the solemn and strange
Surprise of the change.
Ha, what avails death to erase
His offence, my disgrace?
I would we were boys as of old
In the field, by the fold:
His outrage, God’s patience, man’s scorn
Were so easily borne!

I stand here now, he lies in his place:
Cover the face!

Love In A Life

I.

Room after room,
I hunt the house through
We inhabit together.
Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her—
Next time, herself!—not the trouble behind her
Left in the curtain, the couch’s perfume!
As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew:
Yon looking-glass gleaned at the wave of her feather.

II.

Yet the day wears,
And door succeeds door;
I try the fresh fortune—
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
Still the same chance! She goes out as I enter.
Spend my whole day in the quest,—who cares?
But ’tis twilight, you see,—with such suites to explore,
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!