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The Fish, The Man, And The Spirit.
The Man to the Fish.
YOU strange, astonished-looking, angle-faced,
Dreary-mouthed, gaping wretches of the sea,
Gulping salt-water everlastingly,
Cold-blooded, though with red your blood be graced,
And mute, though dwellers in the roaring waste;
And you all shapes beside that fishy be,—
Some round, some flat, some long, all devilry,
Legless, unloving, infamously chaste :—
O scaly, slippery, wet, swift, staring wights,
What is't you do? what life lead? eh, dull goggles?
How do ye vary your dull days and nights?
How pass your Sundays? Are ye still but joggles,
In ceaseless wash? Still nought but gapes, and bites,
And drinks, and stares, diversified with boggles?
A Fish answers.
Amazing monster! that, for aught I know,
With the first sight of thee didst make our race
For ever stare! O, flat and shocking face,
Grimly divided from the breast below!
Thou that on dry land horribly dost go.
With a split body, and most ridiculous pace,
Prong after prong, disgracer of all grace,
Long-useless-finned, haired, upright, unwet, slow!
0 breather of unbreathable, swordsharp air,
How canst exist? how bear thyself, thou dry
And dreary sloth! What particle canst share
Of the only blessed life,—the watery?
1 sometimes see of ye an actual pair
Go by, linked fin by fin! most odiously.
The Fish turns into a Man, and then into a Spirit, and again speaks.
Indulge thy smiling scorn, if smiling still,
O man! and loathe, but with a sort of love:
For difference must its use by difference prove,
And, in sweet clang, the spheres with music fill.
One of the spirits am I, that at his will
Live in whatever has life,—fish, eagle, dove,—
No hate, no pride, beneath nought, nor above,
A visitor of the rounds of God's sweet skill.
Man's life is warm, glad, sad, twixt loves and graves,
Boundless in hope, honoured with pangs austere,
Heaven-gazing; and his angel-wings he craves ;—
The fish is swift, small-needing, vague yet clear,
A cold, sweet, silver life, wrapt in round waves,
Quickened with touches of transporting fear.
Abou Ben Adhem, And The Angel.
ABOU BEN ADHEM (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An Angel, writing in a book of gold :—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said,
'What writest thou ?'—the Vision raised its head,
And, with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, 'The names of those that love the Lord.'
'And is mine one?' said Abou. 'Nay, not so,'
Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still ; and said, 'I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow-men.'
The Angel wrote, and vanished. Tfie next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names of those whom love of God had
blessed, And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.
TO T. L. H., SIX YEARS OLD, DURING A SICKNESS.
SLEEP breathes at last from out thee,
My little patient boy;
And balmy rest about thee
Smoothes off the day's annoy.
I sit me down and think
Of all thy winning ways;
Yet almost wish, with sudden shrink,
That I had less to praise.
Thy sidelong pillowed meekness,
Thy thanks to all that aid,
Thy heart, in pain and weakness,
Of fancied faults afraid;
The little trembling hand
That wipes thy quiet tears,
These, these are things that may demand
Dread memories for years.
Sorrows, I 've had severe ones,
I will not think of now;
And calmly 'midst my dear ones,
Have wasted with dry brow;
But when thy fingers press
And pat my stooping head,
I cannot bear the gentleness—
The tears are in their bed.
Ah, first-born of thy mother,
When life and hope were new;
Kind playmate of thy brother,
Thy sister, father, too;
My light where'er I go,
My bird when prison-bound,
My hand-in-hand companion—no,
My prayers shall hold thee round.
To say—' he has departed'—
'His voice—his face—is gone!' To feel impatient-hearted,
Yet feel we must bear on;
Ah, I could not endure
To whisper of such woe, Unless I felt this sleep ensure
That it will not be so.
Yes still he's fixed and sleeping,
This silence too, the while—
Its very hush and creeping
Seems whispering as a smile;
Something divine and dim
Seems going by one's ear,
Like parting wings of Cherubim,
Who say, 'We've finished here'
Madeline In Her Chamber.
A CASEMENT high and triple-arched there was,
All garlanded with carven imageries
Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass,
And diamonded with panes of quaint device,
Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes,
As are the tiger-moth's deep damasked wings;
And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries,
And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings,
A shielded scutcheon blushed with blood of queens and kings.
Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast,
As down she knelt for heaven's grace and boon;
Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest,
And on her silver cross fair amethyst,
And on her hair a glory, like a saint:
She seemed a splendid angel, newly drest,'
Save wings, for heaven :—Porphyro grew faint:
She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint.
Anon his heart revives: her vespers done,
Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees;
Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
Loosens her fragrant boddice; by degrees