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IRIS, HER BOOK.
I PRAY thee by the soul of her that bore thee,
For Iris had no mother to infold her,
She had not learned the mystery of awaking
Yet lived, wrought, suffered. Lo, the pictured token! Why should her fleeting day-dreams fade unspoken, Like daffodils that die with sheaths unbroken?
She knew not love, yet lived in maiden fancies, -
Twin-souled she seemed, a twofold nature wearing, -
Questioning all things: Why her Lord had sent her? What were these torturing gifts, and wherefore lent her? Scornful as spirit fallen, its own tormentor.
And then all tears and anguish: Queen of Heaven,
And then — Ah, God! But nay, it little matters :
If she had — Well! She longed, and knew not
wherefore. Had the world nothing she might live to care for ? No second self to say her evening prayer for ?
She knew the marble shapes that set men dreaming, Yet with her shoulders bare and tresses streaming Showed not unlovely to her simple seeming.
Vain? Let it be so ! Nature was her teacher.
Saying, unsaddened, — This shall soon be faded,
-- This her poor book is full of saddest follies, Of tearful smiles and laughing melancholies, With summer roses twined and wintry hollies.
In the strange crossing of uncertain chances, Somewhere, beneath some maiden's tear-dimmed glances May fall her little book of dreams and fancies.
Sweet sister! Iris, who shall never name thee,
Spare her, I pray thee! If the maid is sleeping,
UNDER THE VIOLETS.
Her hands are cold; her face is white;
No more her pulses come and go;
Fold the white vesture, snow on snow,
But not beneath a graven stone,
To plead for tears with alien eyes;
Shall say, that here a maiden lies
And gray old trees of hugest limb
Shall wheel their circling shadows round
That drinks the greenness from the ground,
When o'er their boughs the squirrels run,
And through their leaves the robins call, And, ripening in the autumn sun,
The acorns and the chestnuts fall,
For her the morning choir shall sing
Its matins from the branches high,
That trills beneath the April sky,
When, turning round their dial-track,
Eastward the lengthening shadows pass, Her little mourners, clad in black,
The crickets, sliding through the grass,
At last the rootlets of the trees
Shall find the prison where she lies,
In leaves and blossoms to the skies.