Изображения страниц

Example, but no meddling. See that hollow-
I knew it once all heath, and deep peat-bog-
I drowned a black mare in that self-same spot
Hunting with your good father: Well, he gave it,
One jovial night, to six poor Erfurt monks-
Six picked-visaged, wan, bird-fingered wights-
All in their rough hair shirts, like hedgehogs starved-
I told them, six weeks' work would break their hearts :
They answered, Christ would help, and Christ's great

And make them strong when weakest : So they settled :
And starved and froze.

And dug and built, it seems. Wal. Faith, that's true. See-as garden walls draw

snails, They have drawn a hamlet round; the slopes are blue Knee-deep with flax, the orchard boughs are breaking With strange outlandish fruits. See those young rogues Marching to school ; no poachers here, Lord Landgrave,– Too much to be done at home; there 's not a village Of yours, now, thrives like this : By God's good help These men have made their ownership worth something. Here comes one of them. Lew.

I would speak to himAnd learn his secret-We'll await him here.

Enter Conrad.
Con. Peace to you, reverend and war-worn knight,
And you, fair youth, upon whose swarthy lip

Blooms the rich promise of a noble manhood.
Methinks, if simple monks may read your thoughts,
That with no envious or distasteful eyes
Ye watch the labours of God's poor elect.

Wal. Why-we were saying, how you cunning rooks Pitch as by instinct on the fattest fallows.

Con. For He who feeds the ravens, promiseth
Our bread and water sure, and leads us on
By peaceful streams in pastures green to lie,
Beneath our Shepherd's eye.

În such a nook, now,
To nestle from this noisy world-

-And drop The burden of thyself upon the threshold. Lew. Think what rich dreams may haunt those lowly

roofs ! Con. Rich dreams, and more; their dreams will find

fulfilment Their discipline breeds strength—'Tis we alone Can join the patience of the laboring ox Unto the eagle's foresight,—not a fancy Of ours, but grows in time to mighty deeds ; Victories in heavenly warfare : but yours, yours, Sir, Oh choke them, choke the panting hopes of youth, Ere they be born, and wither in slow pains, Cast by for the next bauble ! Lew.

*Tis too true! I dread no toil: toil is the true knight's pastimeFaith fails, the will intense and fixed, so easy

To thee, cut off from life and love, whose powers
In one close channel must condense their stream:
But I, to whom this life blooms rich and busy,
Whose heart goes out a-Maying all the year
In this new Eden—in my fitful thought
What skill is there, to turn my faith to sight-
To pierce blank Heaven, like some trained falconer
After his game, beyond all human ken ?

Wal. And walk into the bog beneath your feet.

Con. And change it to firm land by magic step!
Build there cloud-cleaving spires, beneath whose shade
Great cities rise for vassals ; to call forth
From plough and loom the rank unlettered hinds,
And make them saints and heroes—send them forth
To sway with heavenly craft the spirit of princes ;
Change nations' destinies, and conquer worlds
With love, more mighty than the sword; what, Count ?
Art thou ambitious ? practical ? we monks
Can teach you somewhat there too.

Be it so;
But love you have foresworn; and what were life
Without that chivalry, which bends man's knees
Before God's image and his glory, best
Revealed in woman's beauty ?

. Ah! poor worldlings!
Little you dream what maddening ecstasies,
What rich ideals haunt, by day and night,
Alone, and in the crowd, even to the death,
The servitors of that celestial court


[ocr errors]

Where peerless Mary, sun-enthroned, reigns,
In whom all Eden dreams of womanhood,
All grace of form, hue, sound, all beauty strewn
Like pearls unstrung, about this ruined world,
Have their fulfilment and their archetype.
Why hath the rose its scent, the lily grace ?
To mirror forth her loveliness, from whom,
Primeval fount of grace, their livery came :
Pattern of Seraphs ! only worthy ark
To bear her God athwart the floods of time!

Lew. Who dare aspire to her? Alas, not I!
To me she is a doctrine, and a picture:
I cannot live on dreams.

She hath her train :
There thou may'st choose thy love : If world-wide

Shall please thee, and the Cherub's glance of fire,
Let Catharine lift thy soul, and rapt with her
Question the mighty dead, until thou float
Tranced on the ethereal ocean of her spirit.
If pity father passion in thee, hang
Above Eulalia’s tortured loveliness ;
And for her sake, and in her strength, go forth
To do and suffer greatly. Dost thou long
For some rich heart, as deep in love as weakness,
Whose wild simplicity sweet heaven-born instincts
Alone keep sane ?

I do, I do. I'd live
And die for each and all the three.


· Then go-
Entangled in the Magdalen’s tresses lie;
Dream hours before her picture, till thy lips
Dare to approach her feet, and thou shalt start
To find the canvas warm with life, and matter
A moment transubstantiate to heaven.

Wal. Ay, catch his fever, Sir, and learn to take
An indigestion for a troop of angels.
Come tell him, monk, about your magic gardens,
Where not a stringy head of kale is cut
But breeds a vision or a revelation.
Lew. Hush, hush, Count! Speak, strange monk, strange

words, and waken Longings more strange than either.'

Then, if proved,
As I dare vouch thee, loyal in thy love,
Even to the Queen herself thy saintlier soul
At length may soar: perchance—Oh, bliss too great
For thought-yet possible !
Receive some token-smile—or hallowing touch
Of that white hand, beneath whose soft caress
The raging world is smoothed, and runs its course
To shadow forth her glory.

Thou dost tempt me-
That were a knightly quest.

Ay, here's true love.
Love's heaven, without its hell; the golden fruit
Without the foul husk, which at Adam's fall
Did crust it o'er with filth and selfishness.


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »