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On fire to the West? or is the Demon-god
Foot-sore, way-worn, at length he touch'd his goal, The Christian city. All her splendour fail'd To lure those eyes that only yearn'd to see, Fleeting betwixt her column'd palace-walls, The shape with wings. Anon there past a crowd With shameless laughter, Pagan oath, and jest, Hard Romans brawling of their monstrous games; He, all but deaf thro' age and weariness, And muttering to himself "The call of God" And borne along by that full stream of men, Like some old wreck on some indrawing sea, Gain'd their huge Colosseum. The caged beast Yell'd, as he yell'd of yore for Christian blood. Three slaves were trailing a dead lion away, One, a dead man. He stumbled in, and sat Blinded; but when the momentary gloom, Made by the noonday blaze without, had left His aged eyes, he raised them, and beheld A blood-red awning waver overhead, The dust send up a steam of human blood, The gladiators moving toward their fight,
And eighty thousand Christian faces watch
His dream became a deed that woke the world, For while the frantic rabble in half-amaze Stared at him dead, thro' all the nobler hearts In that vast Oval ran a shudder of shame. The Baths, the Forum gabbled of his death, And preachers linger'd o'er his dying words, Which would not die, but echo'd on to reach Honorius, till he heard them, and decreed That Rome no more should wallow in this old lust Of Paganism, and make her festal hour Dark with the blood of man who murder'd man.
"THE YEARS THAT MADE THE STRIPLING WISE .. ""*"
Aus "THE ANCIENT SAGE."
[Tiresias, and other Poems 1885.]
The years that made the stripling wise
And leave him, blind of heart and eyes,
Who clings to earth, and once would dare
And now one breath of cooler air
He withers marrow and mind;
The tiger spasms tear his chest,
The wife, the sons, who love him best
The griefs by which he once was wrung Were never worth the while,
The shaft of scorn that once had stung
But wakes a dotard smile.
The statesman's brain that sway'd the past
Is feebler than his knees;
The passive sailor wrecks at last
The warrior hath forgot his arms,
The poet whom his Age would quote
He knows not ev'n the book he wrote,
For man has overlived his day,
The years that when my Youth began
By all my ways where'er they ran,
My rose of love for ever gone,
And laughing back the light,
But vain the tears for darken'd years
As laughter over wine,
And vain the laughter as the tears,
For all that laugh, and all that weep
[Macmillan's Magazine 1885.]
MANY a hearth upon our dark globe sighs after many a vanish'd face,
Many a planet by many a sun may roll with the dust of a vanish'd race.
Raving politics, never at rest-as this poor earth's pale history runs,
What is it all but a trouble of ants in the gleam of a million million of suns?
Lies upon this side, lies upon that side, truthless violence mourn'd by the Wise,
Thousands of voices drowning his own in a popular torrent of lies upon lies;
Stately purposes, valour in battle, glorious annals of army and fleet,
Death for the right cause, death for the wrong cause, trumpets of victory, groans of defeat;
Innocence seethed in her mother's milk, and Charity setting the martyr aflame;
Thraldom who walks with the banner of Freedom, and recks not to ruin a realm in her name.
Faith at her zenith, or all but lost in the gloom of doubts that darken the schools;
Craft with a bunch of all-heal in her hand, follow'd up by her vassal legion of fools;
Trade flying over a thousand seas with her spice and her vintage, her silk and her corn;
Desolate offing, sailorless harbours, famishing populace, wharves forlorn;
Star of the morning, Hope in the sunrise; gloom of the evening, Life at a close;
Pleasure who flaunts on her wide down-way with her flying robe and her poison'd rose;
Pain, that has crawl'd from the corpse of Pleasure, a worm which writhes all day, and at night