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Triumphal arches gleaming swell
His breast with thoughts of boundless sway : What recked the Roman what befell A paltry province far away, In the solemn midnight
Centuries ago ! Within that province far away
Went plodding home a weary boor : A streak of light before him lay,
Fall’n through a half-shut stable door Across his path. He passed-for naught
Told what was going on within ; How keen the stars ! his only thought ; The air how calm and cold and thin, In the solemn midnight
Centuries ago !
O strange indifference !low and high
Drowsed over common joys and cares : The earth was still—but knew not why ;
The world was listening-unawares ;
One that shall thrill the world for ever !
Centuries ago !
It is the calm and solemn night!
A thousand bells ring out, and throw Their joyous peals abroad, and smite
The darkness, charmed and holy now! The night that erst no name had worn,
To it a happy name is given ; For in that stable lay new-born The peaceful Prince of Earth and Heaven, În the solemn midnight Centuries ago.
The hill-side 's dew-pearled ;
If fortune fixed her as my lady there,
(Hist!—said Kate the queen ; But 'Oh '—cried the maiden, binding her tresses,
'Tis only a page that carols unseen, Crumbling your hounds their messes ! ') Is she wronged ?-To the rescue of her honour, 10
My heart ! Is she poor?—What costs it to be styled a donor ?
Merely an earth to cleave, a sea to part. But that fortune should have thrust all this upon
her ! ( Nay, list !'-bade Kate the queen ; And still cried the maiden, binding her tresses,
'Tis only a page that carols unseen, Fitting your hawks their jesses ! ')
R. BROWNING, 340 THE LOST LEADER Just for a handful of silver he left us,
Just for a riband to stick in his coatFound the one gift of which fortune bereft us,
Lost all the others she lets us devote;
They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver,
So much was theirs who so little allowed : How all our copper had gone for his service ! Rags—were they purple, his heart had been
proud ! Wethathad loved himso, followed him,honoured him,
Lived in his mild and magnificent eye, Learned his great language, caught his clear accents,
Made him our pattern to live and to die ! Shakespeare was of us, Milton was for us, Burns, Shelley, were with us,-they watch from
their graves ! He alone breaks from the van and the freemen,
He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves ! 16
We shall march prospering, -not thro' his presence;
Songs may inspirit us, -not from his lyre ; Deeds will be done, while he boasts his quiescence,
Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire : Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more,
Onetask more declined, one more footpath untrod, One more devils’-triumph and sorrow for angels,
One wrong more to man, one more insult to God! Life's night begins : let him never come back to us !
There would be doubt, hesitation, and pain, 26 Forced praise on our part—the glimmer of twilight,
Never glad confident morning again ! Best fight on well, for we taught him,-strike
gallantly, Menace our heart ere we master his own ; Then let him receive the new knowledge and wait us, Pardoned in heaven, the first by the throne !
341 HOME-THOUGHTS, FROM ABROAD Oh, to be in England now that April's there, And whoever wakes in England sees, some morn
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
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 edgeThat'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 16 The buttercups, the little children's dower -Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower !
HOME-THOUGHTS, FROM THE SEA Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the North-West
died away ; Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into
Cadiz Bay; Bluish mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar
lay ; In the dimmest North-East distance, dawned
Gibraltar grand and grey ; · Here and here did England help me : how can I
help England ?'-say, Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to
praise and.pray, While Jove's planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.
Making it blossom with pleasure,
Fit for her nest and her treasure.
Oh, what a hope beyond measure Was the poor spray's, which the flying feet hungto,So to be singled out, built in, and sung to !
This is a heart the Queen leant on,
Thrilled in a minute erratic,
Meet for love's regal dalmatic.
Oh, what a fancy ecstatic Was the poor heart's, ere the wanderer went on--Love to be saved for it, proffered to, spent on !
A WOMAN'S LAST WORD
Strive nor weep :
I and thou
Hawk on bough!
While we speak !
Cheek on cheek!
False to thee ?
Shun the tree