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Some nobler, ampler stage of life to win,
I'll stop, and say: "There were no succour here!
The aids to noble life are all within."

GROWING OLD.

[New Poems 1867.]

WHAT is it to grow old?

Is it to lose the glory of the form,

The lustre of the eye?

Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
-Yes, but not this alone.

Is it to feel our strength

Not our bloom only, but our strength-decay?

Is it to feel each limb

Grow stiffer, every function less exact,

Each nerve more loosely strung?

Yes, this, and more; but not

Ah, 'tis not what in youth we dream'd 'twould be! 'Tis not to have our life

Mellow'd and soften'd as with sunset-glow,
A golden day's decline.

'Tis not to see the world

As from a height, with rapt prophetic eyes,
And heart profoundly stirr'd;

And weep, and feel the fulness of the past,

The years that are no more.

It is to spend long days

And not once feel that we were ever young;
It is to add, immured

In the hot prison of the present, month
To month with weary pain.

It is to suffer this,

And feel but half, and feebly, what we feel.
Deep in our hidden heart

Festers the dull remembrance of a change,
But no emotion-none.

It is last stage of all

When we are frozen up within, and quite

The phantom of ourselves,

To hear the world applaud the hollow ghost Which blamed the living man.

THE LAST WORD.

[New Poems 1867.]

CREEP into thy narrow bed,
Creep, and let no more be said!
Vain thy onset! all stands fast.
Thou thyself must break at last.

Let the long contention cease!
Geese are swans, and swans are geese.
Let them have it how they will!
Thou art tired; best be still.

They out-talk'd thee, hiss'd thee, tore thee?
Better men fared thus before thee;
Fired their ringing shot and pass'd,
Hotly charged-and sank at last.

Charge once more, then, and be dumb!
Let the victors, when they come,
When the forts of folly fall,
Find thy body by the wall!

AUSTERITY OF POETRY.
[New Poems 1867.]

THAT Son of Italy who tried to blow,1
Ere Dante came, the trump of sacred song,
In his light youth amid a festal throng
Sate with his bride to see a public show.

Fair was the bride, and on her front did glow
Youth like a star; and what to youth belong-
Gay raiment, sparkling gauds, elation strong.
A prop gave way! crash fell a platform! lo,

'Mid struggling sufferers, hurt to death, she lay! Shuddering, they drew her garments off-and found A robe of sackcloth next the smooth, white skin.

Such, poets, is your bride, the Muse! young, gay,
Radiant, adorn'd outside; a hidden ground
Of thought and of austerity within.

DOVER BEACH.

[New Poems 1867.]

THE sea is calm to-night.

The tide is full, the moon lies fair

Upon the straits;-on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray

Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar

Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,

1 Giacopone di Todi.

Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago

Heard it on the Egæan, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow

Of human misery; we

Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith

Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.

But now I only hear

Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath

Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true

To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.

RUGBY CHAPEL.

NOVEMBER 1857.

[New Poems 1867.]

COLDLY, sadly descends

The autumn-evening. The field

Jiriczek, Englische Dichter.

17

Strewn with its dank yellow drifts
Of wither'd leaves, and the elms,
Fade into dimness apace,
Silent;-hardly a shout

From a few boys late at their play!
The lights come out in the street,
In the school-room windows;-but cold,
Solemn, unlighted, austere,
Through the gathering darkness, arise
The chapel-walls, in whose bound
Thou, my father! art laid.

There thou dost lie, in the gloom
Of the autumn evening. But ah!
That word, gloom, to my mind
Brings thee back, in the light
Of thy radiant vigour, again;
In the gloom of November we pass'd
Days not dark at thy side;
Seasons impair'd not the ray
Of thy buoyant cheerfulness clear.
Such thou wast! and I stand
In the autumn evening, and think
Of bygone autumns with thee.

Fifteen years have gone round
Since thou arosest to tread,
In the summer-morning, the road
Of death, at a call unforeseen,
Sudden. For fifteen years,
We who till then in thy shade
Rested as under the boughs
Of a mighty oak, have endured
Sunshine and rain as we might,
Bare, unshaded, alone,
Lacking the shelter of thee.

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