Within and Without: Part III: A Dramatic Poem


And weep not, though the Beautiful decay
Within thy heart, as daily in thine eyes;
Thy heart must have its autumn, its pale skies,
Leading, mayhap, to winter’s dim dismay.
Yet doubt not. Beauty doth not pass away;
Her form departs not, though her body dies.
Secure beneath the earth the snowdrop lies,
Waiting the spring’s young resurrection-day,
Through the kind nurture of the winter cold.
Nor seek thou by vain effort to revive
The summer-time, when roses were alive;
Do thou thy work—be willing to be old:
Thy sorrow is the husk that doth infold
A gorgeous June, for which thou need’st not strive.

Time: Five years later.

SCENE I.—Night. London. A large meanly furnished room; a single
candle on the table; a child asleep in a little crib
sits by the table, reading in a low voice out of a book. He looks
older, and his hair is lined with grey; his eyes look clearer

What is this? let me see; ’tis called The Singer:

“Melchah stood looking on the corpse of his son, and spoke not. At
length he broke the silence and said: ‘He hath told his tale to the
Immortals.’ Abdiel, the friend of him that was dead, asked him what
he meant by the words. The old man, still regarding the dead body,
spake as follows:—”

“Three years ago, I fell asleep on the summit of the hill Yarib; and
there I dreamed a dream. I thought I lay at the foot of a cliff, near
the top of a great mountain; for beneath me were the clouds, and
above me, the heavens deep and dark. And I heard voices sweet and
strong; and I lifted up my eyes, and, Lo! over against me, on a
rocky slope, some seated, each on his own crag, some reclining
between the fragments, I saw a hundred majestic forms, as of men who
had striven and conquered. Then I heard one say: ‘What wouldst thou
sing unto us, young man?’ A youthful voice replied, tremblingly: ‘A
song which I have made for my singing.’ ‘Come, then, and I will lead
thee to the hole in the rock: enter and sing.’ From the assembly
came forth one whose countenance was calm unto awfulness; but whose
eyes looked in love, mingled with doubt, on the face of a youth whom
he led by the hand toward the spot where I lay. The features of the
youth I could not discern: either it was the indistinctness of a
dream, or I was not permitted to behold them. And, Lo! behind me was
a great hole in the rock, narrow at the entrance, but deep and wide
within; and when I looked into it, I shuddered; for I thought I saw,
far down, the glimmer of a star. The youth entered and vanished. His
guide strode back to his seat; and I lay in terror near the mouth of
the vast cavern. When I looked up once more, I saw all the men
leaning forward, with head aside, as if listening intently to a
far-off sound. I likewise listened; but, though much nearer than they,
I heard nothing. But I could see their faces change like waters in a
windy and half-cloudy day. Sometimes, though I heard nought, it
seemed to me as if one sighed and prayed beside me; and once I heard
a clang of music triumphant in hope; but I looked up, and, Lo! it
was the listeners who stood on their feet and sang. They ceased, sat
down, and listened as before. At last one approached me, and I
ventured to question him. ‘Sir,’ I said, ‘wilt thou tell me what it
means?’ And he answered me thus: ‘The youth desired to sing to the
Immortals. It is a law with us that no one shall sing a song who
cannot be the hero of his tale—who cannot live the song that he
sings; for what right hath he else to devise great things, and to
take holy deeds in his mouth? Therefore he enters the cavern where
God weaves the garments of souls; and there he lives in the forms of
his own tale; for God gives them being that he may be tried. The
sighs which thou didst hear were his longings after his own Ideal;
and thou didst hear him praying for the Truth he beheld, but could
not reach. We sang, because, in his first great battle, he strove
well and overcame. We await the next.’ A deep sleep seemed to fall
upon me; and when I awoke, I saw the Immortals standing with their
eyes fixed on the mouth of the cavern. I arose and turned toward it
likewise. The youth came forth. His face was worn and pale, as that
of the dead man before me; but his eyes were open, and tears trembled
within them. Yet not the less was it the same face, the face of my
son, I tell thee; and in joy and fear I gazed upon him. With a weary
step he approached the Immortals. But he who had led him to the cave
hastened to meet him, spread forth his arms, and embraced him, and
said unto him: ‘Thou hast told a noble tale; sing to us now what
songs thou wilt.’ Therefore said I, as I gazed on my son: ‘He hath
told his tale to the Immortals.’”

[He puts the book down; meditates awhile; then rises and
walks up and down the room

And so five years have poured their silent streams,
Flowing from fountains in eternity,
Into my soul, which, as an infinite gulf,
Hath swallowed them; whose living caves they feed;
And time to spirit grows, transformed and kept.
And now the day draws nigh when Christ was born;
The day that showed how like to God himself
Man had been made, since God could be revealed
By one that was a man with men, and still
Was one with God the Father; that men might
By drawing nigh to him draw nigh to God,
Who had come near to them in tenderness.
O God! I thank thee for the friendly eye
That oft hath opened on me these five years;
Thank thee for those enlightenings of my spirit
That let me know thy thought was toward me;
Those moments fore-enjoyed from future years,
Telling what converse I should hold with God.
I thank thee for the sorrow and the care,
Through which they gleamed, bright phosphorescent sparks
Crushed from the troubled waters, borne on which
Through mist and dark my soul draws nigh to thee.
Five years ago, I prayed in agony
That thou wouldst speak to me. Thou wouldst not then,
With that close speech I craved so hungrily.
Thy inmost speech is heart embracing heart;
And thou wast all the time instructing me
To know the language of thy inmost speech.
I thought thou didst refuse, when every hour
Thou spakest every word my heart could hear,
Though oft I did not know it was thy voice.
My prayer arose from lonely wastes of soul;
As if a world far-off in depths of space,
Chaotic, had implored that it might shine
Straightway in sunlight as the morning star.
My soul must be more pure ere it could hold
With thee communion. ‘Tis the pure in heart
That shall see God. As if a well that lay
Unvisited, till water-weeds had grown
Up from its depths, and woven a thick mass
Over its surface, could give back the sun!
Or, dug from ancient battle-plain, a shield
Could be a mirror to the stars of heaven!
And though I am not yet come near to him,
I know I am more nigh; and am content
To walk a long and weary road to find
My father’s house once more. Well may it be
A long and weary—I had wandered far.
My God, I thank thee, thou dost care for me.
I am content, rejoicing to go on,
Even when my home seems very far away;
For over grief, and aching emptiness,
And fading hopes, a higher joy arises.
In cloudiest nights, one lonely spot is bright,
High overhead, through folds and folds of space;
It is the earnest-star of all my heavens;
And tremulous in the deep well of my being
Its image answers, gazing eagerly.

Alas, my Lilia!—But I’ll think of Jesus,
Not of thee now; him who hath led my soul
Thus far upon its journey home to God.
By poor attempts to do the things he said,
Faith has been born; free will become a fact;
And love grown strong to enter into his,
And know the spirit that inhabits there.
One day his truth will spring to life in me,
And make me free, as God says “I am free.”
When I am like him, then my soul will dawn
With the full glory of the God revealed—
Full as to me, though but one beam from him;
The light will shine, for I shall comprehend it:
In his light I shall see light. God can speak,
Yea, will speak to me then, and I shall hear.
Not yet like him, how can I hear his words?

[Stopping by the crib, and bending over the child.]

My darling child! God’s little daughter, drest
In human clothes, that light may thus be clad
In shining, so to reach my human eyes!
Come as a little Christ from heaven to earth,
To call me father, that my heart may know
What father means, and turn its eyes to God!
Sometimes I feel, when thou art clinging to me,
How all unfit this heart of mine to have
The guardianship of a bright thing like thee,
Come to entice, allure me back to God
By flitting round me, gleaming of thy home,
And radiating of thy purity
Into my stained heart; which unto thee
Shall ever show the father, answering
The divine childhood dwelling in thine eyes.
O how thou teachest me with thy sweet ways,
All ignorant of wherefore thou art come,
And what thou art to me, my heavenly ward,
Whose eyes have drunk that secret place’s light
And pour it forth on me! God bless his own!

[He resumes his walk, singing in a low voice.]

My child woke crying from her sleep;
I bended o’er her bed,
And soothed her, till in slumber deep
She from the darkness fled.

And as beside my child I stood,
A still voice said in me—
“Even thus thy Father, strong and good,
Is bending over thee.”

SCENE II.—Rooms in Lord Seaford’s house. A large company; dancers;
gentlemen looking on.

1st Gentleman.
Henry, what dark-haired queen is that? She moves
As if her body were instinct with thought,
Moulded to motion by the music’s waves,
As floats the swan upon the swelling lake;
Or as in dreams one sees an angel move,
Sweeping on slow wings through the buoyant air,
Then folding them, and turning on his track.

You seem inspired; nor can I wonder at it;
She is a glorious woman; and such eyes!
Think—to be loved by such a woman now!

You have seen her, then, before: what is her name?

I saw her once; but could not learn her name.

She is the wife of an Italian count,
Who for some cause, political I think,
Took refuge in this country. His estates
The Church has eaten up, as I have heard:
Mephisto says the Church has a good stomach.

How do they live?

Poorly, I should suppose;
For she gives Lady Gertrude music-lessons:
That’s how they know her.—Ah, you should hear her sing!

If she sings as she looks or as she dances,
It were as well for me I did not hear.

If Count Lamballa followed Lady Seaford
To heaven, I know who’d follow her on earth.

SCENE III.—Julian’s room. LILY asleep.

I wish she would come home. When the child wakes,
I cannot bear to see her eyes first rest
On me, then wander searching through the room,
And then return and rest. And yet, poor Lilia!
‘Tis nothing strange thou shouldst be glad to go
From this dull place, and for a few short hours
Have thy lost girlhood given back to thee;
For thou art very young for such hard things
As poor men’s wives in cities must endure.

I am afraid the thought is not at rest,
But rises still, that she is not my wife—
Not truly, lawfully. I hoped the child
Would kill that fancy; but I fear instead,
She thinks I have begun to think the same—
Thinks that it lies a heavy weight of sin
Upon my heart. Alas, my Lilia!
When every time I pray, I pray that God
Would look and see that thou and I be one!

(starting up in her cri .
Oh, take me! take me!

(going up to her with a smil).
What is the matter with my little child?

I don’t know, father; I was very frightened.

‘Twas nothing but a dream. Look—I am with you.

I am wake now; I know you’re there; but then
I did not know it.


Lie down now, darling. Go to sleep again.

Not yet. Don’t tell me go to sleep again;
It makes me so, so frightened! Take me up,
And let me sit upon your knee.—Where’s mother?
I cannot see her.

She’s not at home, my child;
But soon she will be back.

But if she walk
Out in the dark streets—so dark, it will catch her.

She will not walk—but what would catch her, sweet?

I don’t know. Tell me a story till she comes.

(taking her, and sitting with her on his knees by the fire).
Come then, my little Lily, I will tell you
A story I have read this very night.

[She looks in his face.]

There was a man who had a little boy,
And when the boy grew big, he went and asked
His father to give him a purse of money.
His father gave him such a large purse full!
And then he went away and left his home.
You see he did not love his father much.

Oh! didn’t he?—If he had, he wouldn’t have gone!

Away he went, far far away he went,
Until he could not even spy the top
Of the great mountain by his father’s house.
And still he went away, away, as if
He tried how far his feet could go away;
Until he came to a city huge and wide,
Like London here.

Perhaps it was London.

Perhaps it was, my child. And there he spent
All, all his father’s money, buying things
That he had always told him were not worth,
And not to buy them; but he would and did.

How very naughty of him!

Yes, my child.
And so when he had spent his last few pence,
He grew quite hungry. But he had none left
To buy a piece of bread. And bread was scarce;
Nobody gave him any. He had been
Always so idle, that he could not work.
But at last some one sent him to feed swine.

Swine! Oh!

Yes, swine: ’twas all that he could do;
And he was glad to eat some of their food.

[She stares at him.]

But at the last, hunger and waking love
Made him remember his old happy home.
“How many servants in my father’s house
Have plenty, and to spare!” he said. “I’ll go
And say, ‘I have done very wrong, my father;
I am not worthy to be called your son;
Put me among your servants, father, please.’”
Then he rose up and went; but thought the road
So much, much farther to walk back again,
When he was tired and hungry. But at last
He saw the blue top of the great big hill
That stood beside his father’s house; and then
He walked much faster. But a great way off,
His father saw him coming, lame and weary
With his long walk; and very different
From what he had been. All his clothes were hanging
In tatters, and his toes stuck through his shoes—

[She bursts into tears.]

Like that poor beggar I saw yesterday?

Yes, my dear child.

And was he dirty, too?

Yes, very dirty; he had been so long
Among the swine.

Is it all true though, father?

Yes, my darling; all true, and truer far
Than you can think.

What was his father like?

A tall, grand, stately man.

Like you, dear father?

Like me, only much grander.

I love you
The best though.

[Kissing him.]

Well, all dirty as he was,
And thin, and pale, and torn, with staring eyes,
His father knew him, the first look, far off,
And ran so fast to meet him! put his arms
Around his neck and kissed him.

Oh, how dear!
I love him too;—but not so well as you.

[Sound of a carriage drawing up.]

There is your mother.

I am glad, so glad!

Enter LILIA, looking pale.

You naughty child, why are you not in bed?

I am not naughty. I am afraid to go,
Because you don’t go with me into sleep;
And when I see things, and you are not there,
Nor father, I am so frightened, I cry out,
And stretch my hands, and so I come awake.
Come with me into sleep, dear mother; come.

What a strange child it is! There! (kissing her) go to bed.

[Lays her down.]

(gazing on the child).
As thou art in thy dreams without thy mother,
So are we lost in life without our God.

SCENE IV.—LILIA in bed. The room lighted from a gas-lamp in the
street; the bright shadow of the window on the wall and ceiling

Oh, it is dreary, dreary! All the time
My thoughts would wander to my dreary home.
Through every dance, my soul walked evermore
In a most dreary dance through this same room.
I saw these walls, this carpet; and I heard,
As now, his measured step in the next chamber,
Go pacing up and down, and I shut out!
He is too good for me, I weak for him.
Yet if he put his arms around me once,
And held me fast as then, kissed me as then,
My soul, I think, would come again to me,
And pass from me in trembling love to him.
But he repels me now. He loves me, true,—
Because I am his wife: he ought to love me!
Me, the cold statue, thus he drapes with duty.
Sometimes he waits upon me like a maid,
Silent with watchful eyes. Oh, would to Heaven,
He used me like a slave bought in the market!
Yes, used me roughly! So, I were his own;
And words of tenderness would falter in,
Relenting from the sternness of command.
But I am not enough for him: he needs
Some high-entranced maiden, ever pure,
And thronged with burning thoughts of God and him.
So, as he loves me not, his deeds for me
Lie on me like a sepulchre of stones.
Italian lovers love not so; but he
Has German blood in those great veins of his.
He never brings me now a little flower.
He sings low wandering sweet songs to the child;
But never sings to me what the voice-bird
Sings to the silent, sitting on the nest.
I would I were his child, and not his wife!
How I should love him then! Yet I have thoughts
Fit to be women to his mighty men;
And he would love them, if he saw them once.

Ah! there they come, the visions of my land!
The long sweep of a bay, white sands, and cliffs
Purple above the blue waves at their feet!
Down the full river comes a light-blue sail;
And down the near hill-side come country girls,
Brown, rosy, laden light with glowing fruits;
Down to the sands come ladies, young, and clad
For holiday; in whose hearts wonderment
At manhood is the upmost, deepest thought;
And to their side come stately, youthful forms,
Italy’s youth, with burning eyes and hearts:—
Triumphant Love is lord of the bright day.
Yet one heart, under that blue sail, would look
With pity on their poor contentedness;
For he sits at the helm, I at his feet.
He sung a song, and I replied to him.
His song was of the wind that blew us down
From sheltered hills to the unsheltered sea.
Ah, little thought my heart that the wide sea,
Where I should cry for comforting in vain,
Was the expanse of his wide awful soul,
To which that wind was helpless drifting me!
I would he were less great, and loved me more.
I sung to him a song, broken with sighs,
For even then I feared the time to come:
“O will thine eyes shine always, love, as now?
And will thy lips for aye be sweetly curved?”
Said my song, flowing unrhymed from my heart.
“And will thy forehead ever, sunlike bend,
And suck my soul in vapours up to thee?
Ah love! I need love, beauty, and sweet odours.
Thou livest on the hoary mountains; I
In the warm valley, with the lily pale,
Shadowed with mountains and its own great leaves;
Where odours are the sole invisible clouds,
Making the heart weep for deliciousness.
Will thy eternal mountain always bear
Blue flowers upspringing at the glacier’s foot?
Alas! I fear the storms, the blinding snow,
The vapours which thou gatherest round thy head,
Wherewith thou shuttest up thy chamber-door,
And goest from me into loneliness.”
Ah me, my song! it is a song no more!
He is alone amid his windy rocks;
I wandering on a low and dreary plain!

[She weeps herself asleep.]

SCENE V.—LORD SEAFORD, alternately writing at a table and
composing at his pianoforte


Eyes of beauty, eyes of light,
Sweetly, softly, sadly bright!
Draw not, ever, o’er my eye,
Radiant mists of ecstasy.

Be not proud, O glorious orbs!
Not your mystery absorbs;
But the starry soul that lies
Looking through your night of eyes.

One moment, be less perfect, sweet;
Sin once in something small;
One fault to lift me on my feet
From love’s too perfect thrall!

For now I have no soul; a sea
Fills up my caverned brain,
Heaving in silent waves to thee,
The mistress of that main.

O angel! take my hand in thine;
Unfold thy shining silver wings;
Spread them around thy face and mine,
Close curtained in their murmurings.

But I should faint with too much bliss
To be alone in space with thee;
Except, O dread! one angel-kiss
In sweetest death should set me free.

O beauteous devil, tempt me, tempt me on,
Till thou hast won my soul in sighs;
I’ll smile with thee upon thy flaming throne,
If thou wilt keep those eyes.

And if the meanings of untold desires
Should charm thy pain of one faint sting,
I will arise amid the scorching fires,
I will arise and sing.

O what is God to me? He sits apart
Amid the clear stars, passionless and cold.
Divine! thou art enough to fill my heart;
O fold me in thy heaven, sweet love, infold.

With too much life, I fall before thee dead.
With holding thee, my sense consumes in storm.
Thou art too keen a flame, too hallowed
For any temple but thy holy form.

SCENE VI.—Julian’s room next morning; no fire. JULIAN stands at
the window, looking into a London fog

And there are mountains on the earth, far-off;
Steep precipices laved at morn in wind
From the blue glaciers fresh; and falls that leap,
Springing from rock to pool abandonedly;
And all the spirit of the earth breathed out,
Bearing the soul, as on an altar-flame,
Aloft to God! And there is woman-love—
Far off, ah me!

[Sitting down wearily.]

—the heart of earth’s delight
Withered from mine! O for a desert sea,
The cold sun flashing on the sailing icebergs!
Where I might cry aloud on God, until
My soul burst forth upon the wings of pain,
And fled to him. A numbness as of death
Infolds me. As in sleep I walk. I live,
But my dull soul can hardly keep awake.
Yet God is here as on the mountain-top,
Or on the desert sea, or lonely isle;
And I should know him here, if Lilia loved me,
As once I thought she did. But can I blame her?
The change has been too much for her to bear.
Can poverty make one of two hearts cold,
And warm the other with the love of God?
But then I have been silent, often moody,
Drowned in much questioning; and she has thought
That I was tired of her, while more than all
I pondered how to wake her living soul.
She cannot think why I should haunt my chamber,
Except a goaded conscience were my grief;
Thinks not of aught to gain, but all to shun.
Deeming, poor child, that I repent me thus
Of that which makes her mine for evermore,
It is no wonder if her love grow less.
Then I am older much than she; and this
Fever, I think, has made me old indeed
Before my fortieth year; although, within,
I seem as young as ever to myself.
O my poor Lilia! thou art not to blame;
I’ll love thee more than ever; I will be
So gentle to thy heart where love lies dead!
For carefully men ope the door, and walk
With silent footfall through the room where lies,
Exhausted, sleeping, with its travail sore,
The body that erewhile hath borne a spirit.
Alas, my Lilia! where is dead Love’s child?

I must go forth and do my daily work.
I thank thee, God, that it is hard sometimes
To do my daily labour; for, of old,
When men were poor, and could not bring thee much,
A turtle-dove was all that thou didst ask;
And so in poverty, and with a heart
Oppressed with heaviness, I try to do
My day’s work well to thee,—my offering:
That he has taught me, who one day sat weary
At Sychar’s well. Then home when I return,
I come without upbraiding thoughts to thee.
Ah! well I see man need not seek for penance—
Thou wilt provide the lamb for sacrifice;
Thou only wise enough to teach the soul,
Measuring out the labour and the grief,
Which it must bear for thy sake, not its own.
He neither chose his glory, nor devised
The burden he should bear; left all to God;
And of them both God gave to him enough.
And see the sun looks faintly through the mist;
It cometh as a messenger to me.
My soul is heavy, but I will go forth;
My days seem perishing, but God yet lives
And loves. I cannot feel, but will believe.

[He rises and is going. LILIA enters, looking weary.]

Look, my dear Lilia, how the sun shines out!

Shines out indeed! Yet ’tis not bad for England.
I would I were in Italy, my own!


‘Tis the same sun that shines in Italy.

But never more will shine upon us there!
It is too late; all wishing is in vain;
But would that we had not so ill deserved
As to be banished from fair Italy!

Ah! my dear Lilia, do not, do not think
That God is angry when we suffer ill.
‘Twere terrible indeed, if ’twere in anger.

Julian, I cannot feel as you. I wish
I felt as you feel.

God will hear you, child,
If you will speak to him. But I must go.
Kiss me, my Lilia.

[She kisses him mechanically. He goes with a sigh.]

It is plain to see
He tries to love me, but is weary of me.

[She weeps.]

Enter LILY.

Mother, have you been naughty? Mother, dear!

[Pulling her hand from her face.]

SCENE VII.—Julian’s room. Noon. LILIA at work; LILY playing in
a closet

(running up to her mother).
Sing me a little song; please, mother dear.

[LILIA, looking off her work, and thinking with
fixed eyes for a few moments, sings


Once I was a child,
Full of frolic wild;
All the stars for glancing,
All the earth for dancing;
Oime! Oime!

When I ran about,
All the flowers came out,
Here and there like stray things,
Just to be my playthings.
Oime! Oime!

Mother’s eyes were deep,
Never needing sleep.
Morning—they’re above me!
Eventide—they love me!
Oime! Oime!

Father was so tall!
Stronger he than all!
On his arm he bore me,
Queen of all before me.
Oime! Oime!

Mother is asleep;
For her eyes so deep,
Grew so tired and aching,
They could not keep waking.
Oime! Oime!

Father, though so strong,
Laid him down along—
By my mother sleeping;
And they left me weeping,
Oime! Oime!

Now nor bird, nor bee,
Ever sings to me!
Since they left me crying,
All things have been dying.
Oime! Oime!

[LILY looks long in her mother’s face, as if wondering
what the song could be about; then turns away to the closet.
After a little she comes running with a box in her hand

O mother, mother! there’s the old box I had
So long ago, and all my cups and saucers,
And the farm-house and cows.—Oh! some are broken.
Father will mend them for me, I am sure.
I’ll ask him when he comes to-night—I will:
He can do everything, you know, dear mother.

SCENE VIII.—A merchants counting-house. JULIAN preparing to go

I would not give these days of common toil,
This murky atmosphere that creeps and sinks
Into the very soul, and mars its hue—
Not for the evenings when with gliding keel
I cut a pale green track across the west—
Pale-green, and dashed with snowy white, and spotted
With sunset crimson; when the wind breathed low,
So low it hardly swelled my xebec’s sails,
That pointed to the south, and wavered not,
Erect upon the waters.—Jesus said
His followers should have a hundred fold
Of earth’s most precious things, with suffering.—
In all the labourings of a weary spirit,
I have been bless’d with gleams of glorious things.
The sights and sounds of nature touch my soul,
No more look in from far.—I never see
Such radiant, filmy clouds, gathered about
A gently opening eye into the blue,
But swells my heart, and bends my sinking knee,
Bowing in prayer. The setting sun, before,
Signed only that the hour for prayer was come,
But now it moves my inmost soul to pray.

On this same earth He walked; even thus he looked
Upon its thousand glories; read them all;
In splendour let them pass on through his soul,
And triumph in their new beatitude,
Finding a heaven of truth to take them in;
But walked on steadily through pain to death.

Better to have the poet’s heart than brain,
Feeling than song; but better far than both,
To be a song, a music of God’s making;
A tablet, say, on which God’s finger of flame,
In words harmonious, of triumphant verse,
That mingles joy and sorrow, sets down clear,
That out of darkness he hath called the light.
It may be voice to such is after given,
To tell the mighty tale to other worlds.

Oh! I am blest in sorrows with a hope
That steeps them all in glory; as gray clouds
Are bathed in light of roses; yea, I were
Most blest of men, if I were now returning
To Lilia’s heart as presence. O my God,
I can but look to thee. And then the child!—
Why should my love to her break out in tears?
Why should she be only a consolation,
And not an added joy, to fill my soul
With gladness overflowing in many voices
Of song, and prayer—and weeping only when
Words fainted ‘neath the weight of utterance?

SCENE IX.—LILIA preparing to go out. LILY.

Don’t go to-night again.

Why, child, your father
Will soon be home; and then you will not miss me.

Oh, but I shall though! and he looks so sad
When you’re not here!

He cannot look much sadder
Than when I am. I am sure ’tis a relief
To find his child alone when he returns.

Will you go, mother? Then I’ll go and cry
Till father comes. He’ll take me on his knee,
And tell such lovely tales: you never do—
Nor sing me songs made all for my own self.
He does not kiss me half so many times
As you do, mother; but he loves me more.
Do you love father, too? I love him so!

There’s such a pretty book! Sit on the stool,
And look at the pictures till your father comes.


(putting the book down, and going to the window).
I wish he would come home. I wish he would.


Oh, there he is!

[Running up to him.]

Oh, now I am so happy!


I had not time to watch before you came.

(taking her in his arms).
I am very glad to have my little girl;
I walked quite fast to come to her again.

I do, do love you. Shall I tell you something?
Think I should like to tell you. Tis a dream
That I went into, somewhere in last night.
I was alone—quite;—you were not with me,
So I must tell you. ‘Twas a garden, like
That one you took me to, long, long ago,
When the sun was so hot. It was not winter,
But some of the poor leaves were growing tired
With hanging there so long. And some of them
Gave it up quite, and so dropped down and lay
Quiet on the ground. And I was watching them.
I saw one falling—down, down—tumbling down—
Just at the earth—when suddenly it spread
Great wings and flew.—It was a butterfly,
So beautiful with wings, black, red, and white—

[Laughing heartily.]

I thought it was a crackly, withered leaf.
Away it flew! I don’t know where it went.
And so I thought, I have a story now
To tell dear father when he comes to Lily.

Thank you, my child; a very pretty dream.
But I am tired—will you go find another—
Another dream somewhere in sleep for me?

O yes, I will.—Perhaps I cannot find one.

[He lays her down to sleep; then sits musing.]

What shall I do to give it life again?
To make it spread its wings before it fall,
And lie among the dead things of the earth?

I cannot go to sleep. Please, father, sing
The song about the little thirsty lily.

[JULIAN sings.]


Little white Lily
Sat by a stone,
Drooping and waiting
Till the sun shone.
Little white Lily
Sunshine has fed;
Little white Lily
Is lifting her head.

Little white Lily
Said, “It is good:
Little white Lily’s
Clothing and food!
Little white Lily
Drest like a bride!
Shining with whiteness,
And crowned beside!”

Little white Lily
Droopeth in pain,
Waiting and waiting
For the wet rain.
Little white Lily
Holdeth her cup;
Rain is fast falling,
And filling it up.

Little white Lily
Said, “Good again,
When I am thirsty
To have nice rain!
Now I am stronger,
Now I am cool;
Heat cannot burn me,
My veins are so full!”

Little white Lily
Smells very sweet:
On her head sunshine,
Rain at her feet.
“Thanks to the sunshine!
Thanks to the rain!
Little white Lily
Is happy again!”

[He is silent for a moment; then goes and looks at her.]

She is asleep, the darling! Easily
Is Sleep enticed to brood on childhood’s heart.
Gone home unto thy Father for the night!

[He returns to his seat.]

I have grown common to her. It is strange—
This commonness—that, as a blight, eats up
All the heart’s springing corn and promised fruit.

[Looking round.]

This room is very common: everything
Has such a well-known look of nothing in it;
And yet when first I called it hers and mine,
There was a mystery inexhaustible
About each trifle on the chimney-shelf:
The gilding now is nearly all worn off.
Even she, the goddess of the wonder-world,
Seems less mysterious and worshipful:
No wonder I am common in her eyes.
Alas! what must I think? Is this the true?
Was that the false that was so beautiful?
Was it a rosy mist that wrapped it round?
Or was love to the eyes as opium,
Making all things more beauteous than they were?
And can that opium do more than God
To waken beauty in a human brain?
Is this the real, the cold, undraperied truth—
A skeleton admitted as a guest
At life’s loud feast, wearing a life-like mask?
No, no; my heart would die if I believed it.
A blighting fog uprises with the days,
False, cold, dull, leaden, gray. It clings about
The present, far dragging like a robe; but ever
Forsakes the past, and lets its hues shine out:
On past and future pours the light of heaven.
The Commonplace is of the present mind.
The Lovely is the True. The Beautiful
Is what God made. Men from whose narrow bosoms
The great child-heart has withered, backward look
To their first-love, and laugh, and call it folly,
A mere delusion to which youth is subject,
As childhood to diseases. They know better!
And proud of their denying, tell the youth,
On whom the wonder of his being shines,
That will be over with him by and by:
“I was so when a boy—look at me now!”
Youth, be not one of them, but love thy love.
So with all worship of the high and good,
And pure and beautiful. These men are wiser!
Their god, Experience, but their own decay;
Their wisdom but the gray hairs gathered on them.
Yea, some will mourn and sing about their loss,
And for the sake of sweet sounds cherish it,
Nor yet believe that it was more than seeming.
But he in whom the child’s heart hath not died,
But grown a man’s heart, loveth yet the Past;
Believes in all its beauty; knows the hours
Will melt the mist; and that, although this day
Cast but a dull stone on Time’s heaped-up cairn,
A morning light will break one morn and draw
The hidden glories of a thousand hues
Out from its diamond-depths and ruby-spots
And sapphire-veins, unseen, unknown, before.
Far in the future lies his refuge. Time
Is God’s, and all its miracles are his;
And in the Future he overtakes the Past,
Which was a prophecy of times to come:
There lie great flashing stars, the same that shone
In childhood’s laughing heaven; there lies the wonder
In which the sun went down and moon arose;
The joy with which the meadows opened out
Their daisies to the warming sun of spring;
Yea, all the inward glory, ere cold fear
Froze, or doubt shook the mirror of his soul:
To reach it, he must climb the present slope
Of this day’s duty—here he would not rest.
But all the time the glory is at hand,
Urging and guiding—only o’er its face
Hangs ever, pledge and screen, the bridal veil:
He knows the beauty radiant underneath;
He knows that God who is the living God,
The God of living things, not of the dying,
Would never give his child, for God-born love,
A cloud-made phantom, fading in the sun.
Faith vanishes in sight; the cloudy veil
Will melt away, destroyed of inward light.

If thy young heart yet lived, my Lilia, thou
And I might, as two children, hand in hand,
Go home unto our Father.—I believe
It only sleeps, and may be wakened yet.

SCENE X.—Julian’s room. Christmas Day; early morn. JULIAN.

The light comes feebly, slowly, to the world
On this one day that blesses all the year,
Just as it comes on any other day:
A feeble child he came, yet not the less
Brought godlike childhood to the aged earth,
Where nothing now is common any more.
All things had hitherto proclaimed God:
The wide spread air; the luminous mist that hid
The far horizon of the fading sea;
The low persistent music evermore
Flung down upon the sands, and at the base
Of the great rocks that hold it as a cup;
All things most common; the furze, now golden, now
Opening dark pods in music to the heat
Of the high summer-sun at afternoon;
The lone black tarn upon the round hill-top,
O’er which the gray clouds brood like rising smoke,
Sending its many rills, o’erarched and hid,
Singing like children down the rocky sides;—
Where shall I find the most unnoticed thing,
For that sang God with all its voice of song?
But men heard not, they knew not God in these;
To their strange speech unlistening ears were strange;
For with a stammering tongue and broken words,
With mingled falsehoods and denials loud,
Man witnessed God unto his fellow man:
How then himself the voice of Nature hear?
Or how himself he heeded, when, the leader,
He in the chorus sang a discord vile?
When prophet lies, how shall the people preach?
But when He came in poverty, and low,
A real man to half-unreal men,
A man whose human thoughts were all divine,
The head and upturned face of human kind—
Then God shone forth from all the lowly earth,
And men began to read their maker there.
Now the Divine descends, pervading all.
Earth is no more a banishment from heaven;
But a lone field among the distant hills,
Well ploughed and sown, whence corn is gathered home.
Now, now we feel the holy mystery
That permeates all being: all is God’s;
And my poor life is terribly sublime.
Where’er I look, I am alone in God,
As this round world is wrapt in folding space;
Behind, before, begin and end in him:
So all beginnings and all ends are hid;
And he is hid in me, and I in him.

Oh, what a unity, to mean them all!—
The peach-dyed morn; cold stars in colder blue
Gazing across upon the sun-dyed west,
While the dank wind is running o’er the graves;
Green buds, red flowers, brown leaves, and ghostly snow;
The grassy hills, breeze-haunted on the brow;
And sandy deserts hung with stinging stars!
Half-vanished hangs the moon, with daylight sick,
Wan-faced and lost and lonely: daylight fades—
Blooms out the pale eternal flower of space,
The opal night, whose odours are gray dreams—
Core of its petal-cup, the radiant moon!
All, all the unnumbered meanings of the earth,
Changing with every cloud that passes o’er;
All, all, from rocks slow-crumbling in the frost
Of Alpine deserts, isled in stormy air,
To where the pool in warm brown shadow sleeps,
The stream, sun-ransomed, dances in the sun;
All, all, from polar seas of jewelled ice,
To where she dreams out gorgeous flowers—all, all
The unlike children of her single womb!
Oh, my heart labours with infinitude!
All, all the messages that these have borne
To eyes and ears, and watching, listening souls;
And all the kindling cheeks and swelling hearts,
That since the first-born, young, attempting day,
Have gazed and worshipped!—What a unity,
To mean each one, yet fuse each in the all!
O centre of all forms! O concord’s home!
O world alive in one condensed world!
O face of Him, in whose heart lay concealed
The fountain-thought of all this kingdom of heaven!
Lord, thou art infinite, and I am thine!

I sought my God; I pressed importunate;
I spoke to him, I cried, and in my heart
It seemed he answered me. I said—”Oh! take
Me nigh to thee, thou mighty life of life!
I faint, I die; I am a child alone
‘Mid the wild storm, the brooding desert-night.”

“Go thou, poor child, to him who once, like thee,
Trod the highways and deserts of the world.”

“Thou sendest me then, wretched, from thy sight!
Thou wilt not have me—I am not worth thy care!”

“I send thee not away; child, think not so;
From the cloud resting on the mountain-peak,
I call to guide thee in the path by which
Thou may’st come soonest home unto my heart.
I, I am leading thee. Think not of him
As he were one and I were one; in him
Thou wilt find me, for he and I are one.
Learn thou to worship at his lowly shrine,
And see that God dwelleth in lowliness.”

I came to Him; I gazed upon his face;
And Lo! from out his eyes God looked on me!—
Yea, let them laugh! I will sit at his feet,
As a child sits upon the ground, and looks
Up in his mother’s face. One smile from him,
One look from those sad eyes, is more to me
Than to be lord myself of hearts and thoughts.
O perfect made through the reacting pain
In which thy making force recoiled on thee!
Whom no less glory could make visible
Than the utter giving of thyself away;
Brooding no thought of grandeur in the deed,
More than a child embracing from full heart!
Lord of thyself and me through the sore grief
Which thou didst bear to bring us back to God,
Or rather, bear in being unto us
Thy own pure shining self of love and truth!
When I have learned to think thy radiant thoughts,
To love the truth beyond the power to know it,
To bear my light as thou thy heavy cross,
Nor ever feel a martyr for thy sake,
But an unprofitable servant still,—
My highest sacrifice my simplest duty
Imperative and unavoidable,
Less than which All, were nothingness and waste;
When I have lost myself in other men,
And found myself in thee—the Father then
Will come with thee, and will abide with me.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

LILIA risesHe places her a chair, and seats himself at the
instrument; plays a low, half-melancholy, half-defiant prelude, and


Look on the magic mirror;
A glory thou wilt spy;

Be with thine heart a sharer,
But go not thou too nigh;
Else thou wilt rue thine error,
With a tear-filled, sleepless eye.

The youth looked on the mirror,
And he went not too nigh;
And yet he rued his error,
With a tear-filled, sleepless eye;
For he could not be a sharer
In what he there did spy.

He went to the magician
Upon the morrow morn.
“Mighty,” was his petition,
“Look not on me in scorn;
But one last gaze elision,
Lest I should die forlorn!”

He saw her in her glory,
Floating upon the main.
Ah me! the same sad story!
The darkness and the rain!
If I live till I am hoary,
I shall never laugh again.

She held the youth enchanted,
Till his trembling lips were pale,
And his full heart heaved and panted
To utter all its tale:
Forward he rushed, undaunted—
And the shattered mirror fell.

[He rises and leaves the room. LILIA weeping.]

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