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Doth a measured'softness keep,
Like a breathing babe asleep.
Five children, blithe as summer, were
Disporting in that bark,
Their gushing laughter thrill'd the air,
Like the carol of a lark ;
They stoop'd to see each face of glee
Peep from the waters gray,
And shouted when their plashing hands
Had startled it away :
An idle stripling saunter'd past,
And, with unthinking hand,
He loosed the guardian rope, and cast
The shallop from the sand;
But, careless still, the children play'd,
Too innocent to be afraid.
Oh, lightly springs the dancing bark
Upon the bounding waves !
Thick and fast, along the blast,
Ride the storm-clouds, gathering dark ;
And, from distant caves
Rise wind-murmurs, hoarse and deep,
Like a lion roused from sleep.
Remembering every tale of wreck
That they have ever heard,
Each child clings to another's neck,
And cowers like a wounded bird:
Fear, in those stainless hearts, woke Love,
And Love did comfort Fear,
And vague, sweet faith in One above
Kept back the rising tear.
But still the lessening shore grew pale,
Dark grew the widening sea,
That boat so frail, beneath the gale,
Writhed as in agony,
And infant sob and faint lament
Were with the night-wind's music blent.
Like the slow ooze of dropping rain,
Two heavy days went by;
The mother sate all desolate,
The father ranged the seas in vain,
And gazed, with straining eye,
On the gray vacancy of tide,
Till his sick heart within him died.
'Twas tbe third morn—upon the line
Of wan and watery light,
Which separates the sky and brine,
Gilding the skirts of night,
He sees a moving thing—apart
From cloud, or foam, or shoreNot faster beats his faltering heart
Than works his hurrying oar. Nearer !- It is an empty boat,
Wherewith th. slow wave plays! Christ, pity him! his eyes wax dim
He stands—he gasps-one gazeWhat sight hath made him start and weep ? Five helpless children fast asleep!
Opening each blue and wondering eye,
They greet him wistfully-
" Uh, father, nought but sea and sky,
Nothing but sky and sea!
Take, take us home!—'Tis lonely here,
And we are faint and cold ;
I strove the little ones to cheer,
For I am eight years old!
So I took the baby on my knee,
And cradled her to sleep,
And hid my face, lest they should see
When I was forced to weep :
And when I felt the most afraid,
I lifted up my hands and pray'd.
“ The stars came out and gazed on us,
And the white clouds went pastTheir silver wings, like living ihings,
Did rock upon the blast;
And we would fain have shelter'd us
Where the soft moonlight lay;
But waters dark were round our bark,
Still sweeping it away.
At last there came an edge of flame,
Far off as far could be,
And we knew the sun was rising,
And we all stood up to see.
Like a fired torch the heavens unblaze,
The waves are liquid light;
We shade our eyes, and gaze—and gaze-
There is no land in sight!
"I cannot tell what next befell
It seem'd a blank despair ;
Cur sļ irits had no strength for hope,
Our lips no voice for prayer;
A sleep of sorrow wrapp'd us then,
Such as, in God's own word,
Fell heavily on holy men
Who watch'd their praying Lord:
We thought to wake in heaven-but see,
Father, God gives us back to thee!"
Weeping, the sire stretch'd forth his hands,
And sank upon his knees
"O! Man," he saith, "if faint thy faith,
No stronger medicine it demands
Than what it hears and sees :
God's love so walls us round about,
How is it possible to doubt ? "
A fine passage in a poem entitled The Parting of Launcelot and
Guenerere, by OWEN MEREDITH.
As o'er the hungering heart of some deep sea,
That swells against the planets and the moon
With sad continual strife and vain unrest,
In silence rise and roll the labouring clouds
Tha: bind the thunder o'er the heaving heart
Of Guenevere all sorrows fraught with love,
All stormy sorrows in that silence pass'd.
And like a star in that tumultuous night
Love wax'd and waned, and came and went, changed hue,
And was and was not: till the cloud came down,
And all her soul dissolved in showers : and love
Rose through the broken storm : and, with a cry
Of passion sheath'd in sharpest pain she stretch'd
Wide her warm arms: she rose, she reel'd and fell
(All her great heart unqueen'd) upon the breast
Of Launcelot; and lifting up her voice,
She wept aloud “Unhappy that I am,"
She wept, “ Unhappy! "Would that I had died
Long since, long ere I loved thee, Launcelot!
Would I had died long since ! ere I had known
This pain, which hath become my punishment,
To have thirsted for the sea : to have received
A drop no bigger than a drop of dew!
I have done ill," she wept, “I am forlorn,
Forlorn! I falter where I stood secure :
The tower I built is fall'n, is fall’n: the staff
I lean'd upon hath broken in my hand.
And I, disrobed, dethroned, discrown'd, and all undone,
Survive my kingdom, widow'd of all rule,
And men shall muck me for a foolish queen,
For now I see thy love for me is dead,
Dead that brief love which was the light of life,
And all is dark : and I have lived too long.
For how henceforth, unhappy, shall I bear
To dwell among these halls where we have been ?
How keep these chambers emptied of thy voice ?
The walks where we have linger'd long ago,
The gardens and the places of our love,
Which shall recall the days that come no more,
And all the joy which has been ? "
Thus o'erthrown, And on the breast of Launcelot weeping wildWeeping and murmuring-hung queen Guenevere. But, while she wept, upon her brows and lips Warm kisses fell, warm kisses wet with tears. For all his mind was melted with remorse, And all his soorn was kill'd, and all his heart
Gave way in that caress, and all the love
Of happier years roll'd down upon his soul
Redoubled; and he bow'd his head, and cried,
“ Though thou be variable as the waves,
More sharp than winds among the Hebrides
That shut the frozen spring in stormy clouds,
As wayward as a child, and all unjust,
Yet must I love thee in despite of pain,
Thou peerless queen of perfect love! Thou star
That draw'st all tides! Thou goddess far above
My heart's weak worship! so adored thou art,
And I so irretrievably all thine!
But now I will arise, as thou hast said,
And join the king: and these thine enemies
Shall know thee not defenceless any more.
For, either, living, I yet hold my life
To arm for thine, or, dying, by my death
Will steep love's injured honour in such blood
Shall wash out every stain! And so farewell
Beloved. Forget me not when I am far,
But in thy prayers and in thine evening thoughts
Remember me: as I, when sundown crowns
The distant hills, and Ave-Mary rings,
Shall pine for thee on ways where thou art not."
So these two lovers in one long embrace,
An agony of reconcilement, hung
Blinded in tears and kisses, lip to lip,
And tranced from past and future, time and space.
But by this time, the beam of the slope day,
Edging blue mountain glooms with sullen gold,
A dying fire, fell mournfully athwart
The purple chambers. In the courts below
The shadow of the keep from wall to wall
Shook his dark skirt : great chimes began to sound,
And swing, and rock in glimmering heights, and roll
A reeling music down: but ere it fell
Faint bells in misty spires adown the vale
Caught it, and bore it floating on to night.
So from that long love-trance the envious time.