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VANITY OF VANITIES.

[Time Flies, 1885.6 August 1858.]

Of all the downfalls in the world,
The flutter of an Autumn leaf
Grows grievous by suggesting grief:
Who thought, when Spring was first unfurled,
Of this? The wide world lay empearled;
Who thought of frost that nips the world?
Sigh on, my ditty.

There lurk a hundred subtle stings
To prick us in our daily walk:
An apple cankered on its stalk,
A robin snared for all his wings,
A voice that sang but never sings;
Yea, sight or sound or silence stings.
Kind Lord, show pity.

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THE hope I dreamed of was a dream,
Was but a dream; and now I wake,
Exceeding comfortless, and worn, and old,
For a dream's sake.

I hang my harp upon a tree,

A weeping willow in a lake;

I hang my silenced harp there, wrung and snapt
For a dream's sake.

Lie still, lie still, my breaking heart;

My silent heart, lie still and break:

Life, and the world, and mine own self, are changed For a dream's sake.

PASSING AWAY.

[Goblin Market etc. 1862.

PASSING away, saith the World, passing away:
Chances, beauty, and youth, sapped day by day:
Thy life never continueth in one stay.

Is the eye waxen dim, is the dark hair changing to grey
That hath won neither laurel nor bay?

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31 December 1860.]

I shall clothe myself in Spring and bud in May:
Thou, root-stricken, shalt not rebuild thy decay
On my bosom for aye.

Then I answered: Yea.

Passing away, saith my Soul, passing away:
With its burden of fear and hope, of labour and play,
Hearken what the past doth witness and say:
Rust in thy gold, a moth is in thine array,

A canker is in thy bud, thy leaf must decay.

At midnight, at cockcrow, at morning, one certain day Lo the Bridegroom shall come and shall not delay; Watch thou and pray.

Then I answered: Yea.

Passing away, saith my God, passing away:

Winter passeth after the long delay:

New grapes on the vine, new figs on the tender spray, Turtle calleth turtle in Heaven's May.

Though I tarry, wait for Me, trust Me, watch and pray:
Arise, come away, night is past and lo it is day,
My love, My sister, My spouse, thou shalt hear Me say.
Then I answered: Yea.

LIFE AND DEATH.

24 April 1863.]

[The Prince's Progress etc. 1866. LIFE is not sweet. One day it will be sweet To shut our eyes and die;

Nor feel the wild flowers blow, nor birds dart by
With flitting butterfly,

Nor grass grow long above our heads and feet,
Nor hear the happy lark that soars sky-high,
Nor sigh that spring is fleet and summer fleet,
Nor mark the waxing wheat,

Nor know who sits in our accustomed seat.

Life is not good. One day it will be good
To die, then live again;

To sleep meanwhile; so, not to feel the wane
Of shrunk leaves dropping in the wood,
Nor hear the foamy lashing of the main,

Nor mark the blackened bean-fields, nor, where stood
Rich ranks of golden grain,

Only dead refuse stubble clothe the plain:
Asleep from risk, asleep from pain.

THE LOWEST PLACE.

[The Prince's Progress etc. 1866. - 25 July 1863.]

GIVE me the lowest place; not that I dare
Ask for that lowest place, but Thou hast died
That I might live and share

Thy glory by Thy side.

Give me the lowest place: or if for me

That lowest place too high, make one more low Where I may sit and see

My God and love Thee so.

SOMEWHERE OR OTHER.

[The Prince's Progress etc. 1866. Towards November 1863.]

SOMEWHERE or other there must surely be

The face not seen, the voice not heard,

The heart that not yet-never yet-ah me! Made answer to my word.

Somewhere or other, may be near or far; Past land and sea, clean out of sight; Beyond the wandering moon, beyond the star That tracks her night by night.

Somewhere or other, may be far or near; With just a wall, a hedge, between; With just the last leaves of the dying year Fallen on a turf grown green.

IF I HAD WORDS.

[New Poems 1896. 3 September 1864.]

IF I had words, if I had words
At least to vent my misery:-
But muter than the speechless herds

I have no voice wherewith to cry.
I have no strength to lift my hands,

I have no heart to lift mine eye,
My soul is bound with brazen bands,

My soul is crushed and like to die.
My thoughts that wander here and there,
That wander wander listlessly,
Bring nothing back to cheer my care,
Nothing that I may live thereby.
My heart is broken in my breast,

My breath is but a broken sigh-
Oh if there be a land of rest

It is far off, it is not nigh.
If I had wings as hath a dove,
If I had wings that I might fly,

I yet would seek the land of love

Where fountains run which run not dry:
Though there be none that road to tell,
And long that road is verily:
Then if I lived I should do well,
And if I died I should but die.
If I had wings as hath a dove,

I would not sift the what and why,
I would make haste to find out Love,
If not to find at least to try.

I would make haste to Love, my rest-
To Love, my truth that doth not lie:
Then if I lived it might be best,

Or if I died I could but die.

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I WOULD have gone; God bade me stay:
I would have worked; God bade me rest.
He broke my will from day to day;
He read my yearnings unexprest,
And said them nay.

Now I would stay; God bids me go:
Now I would rest; God bids me work.
He breaks my heart tost to and fro;
My soul is wrung with doubts that lurk
And vex it so.

I go, Lord, where Thou sendest me;
Day after day I plod and moil:
But, Christ my God, when will it be
That I may let alone my toil
And rest with Thee?

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