ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

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POEMS FROM OTHER SOURCES - 6

 

MORDRED

BY R. WILLIAMS BUCHANAN.

 

PART THE FIRST.

                   “FAREWELL! farewell!”
                         I softly sigh’d;
                   Clear as a bell
                         Her voice replied:
The boughs closed round, the whispering wind dropt low,
               And it was eventide.

                   While dim and gray
                         Dropt down the night,
                   Her fair face lay,
                         Snow-cold, snow-white,
Close to my heart, and, sparkling on her tears,
               Glimmer’d a pale starlight.

                   Under the shade
                         Of Arthur’s Towers,
                   Within a glade
                         Of garden bowers,
We linger’d, heart to heart, and the cool air
               Was sweet with scent of flowers.

                   In sweet unrest,
                         Forlorn and weak,
                   Upon my breast
                         She leant her cheek,
Whispering lowly, “Whither dost thou go?”
               I frown’d, and did not speak:

                   For blushful shame
                         And coward dread,
                   A face like flame,
                         A heart like lead,
Oppress’d me, and I shudder’d to behold
               The faith from which I fled.

                   I could not dare
                         To tell a thing
                   So sweet, so fair,
                         So suffering,
That a dark demon urged me on to join
               Against the blameless king;

                   That, spite of shame
                         And shame’s award,
                   A blacken’d name,
                         A recreant sword,
My soul had leagued with Lancelot’s red powers
               Against my sovereign lord.

                   Than falsehood she
                         Was fairer far,—
                   Fairer to me
                         Than spirits are;
And on the tumbled waters of my life
               She glimmer’d like a star.

                   But like a cloud
                         Rose, far away,
                   The dark and proud
                         Rebel array,
And over bloody graves to Camelot
               It redden’d day by day.

                   And I was drawn,
                         As by a chain,
                   By stealth to pawn
                         Body and brain,
Turn traitor to my liege, and to a love
               Sweet and without a stain.

                   Her beauty chid
                         My shame and fear:
                   How could I bid
                         A thing so dear
Fly from her loyal sweetness, peace, and truth,
               For falsehood sad and sere?

                   “Farewell!” I cried,
                         With heart wrung dry,—
                   The black wind sigh’d
                         Mournfully by.
And “When wilt thou return?” she whisper’d low—
               I answer’d with a lie.

                   With lips like ice,
                         And pulses hot,
                   I kiss’d her thrice,
                         And waited not,
But tore myself away, and through deep night
               Rode swift from Camelot.

                   By gleaming Usk
                         Fell branches green,
                   And through the dusk,
                         In silver sheen,
I saw the river glimmer to the hills,
               With Arthur’s Towers between.

                   And salt, salt tears
                         Flash’d large and fell,
                   And in mine ears
                         “Farewell! farewell!”
Rang as a voice from some diviner life,
               And warn’d me like a knell.

                   But blind to sight,
                         To feeling dead,
                   Along the night
                         Swiftly I fled,
Till on the ledges of the hills I saw
               The rebel watch-fires red.

 

PART THE SECOND.

                   Through summer leas,
                         Yellow with gold,
                   ’Neath shady trees,
                         The river roll’d,
And on its rush-fringed banks to Camelot
               Came lances manifold.

                   With fire and sword
                         We swept along,
                   A traitor horde,
                         A warlike throng,
And in our track the many hamlets mourn’d,
               For rapine, blood, and wrong.

                   Fairest of all,
                         And sinfullest,
                   Towering tall
                         Above the rest,
Upon a coal-black steed rode Lancelot,
               In sombre armour drest;

                   With form that stoop’d,
                         And unkempt beard,
                   A brow that droop’d
                         O’er lips that sneer’d,—
But the mere meekness of his henchman’s eye
               Seem’d something that he fear’d.

                   Forward we rode
                         ’Neath branches green,
                   By Usk that flow’d
                         In silver sheen,
Until the river glimmer’d to the hills,
               With Arthur’s Towers between.

                   The dewy mist
                         Of morn upwound;
                   And ere we wist,
                         A trumpet sound
Spake like a human cry; and, lo, the boughs
               Grew populous around.

                   And loudly then
                         Arose the shout
                   Of armèd men
                         And henchmen stout,
Who sprang upon us like a storm, and whirl’d
               Rude swords around about.

                   But swift as wind
                         We struggled through,
                   And left behind
                         That hireling crew;
While, turning at a cry, our meanest horse
               Assail’d them, and they flew.

                   When brightly o’er us
                         The morning flush’d,
                   And far before us,
                         To meet us, rush’d
The flower of loyal steedsmen—Lancelot
               Gript his great sword, but blush’d.

                   The greenwood rang
                         Again, again,
                   Till with a clang,
                         On the green plain,
We struck the foe, with hoofs that sparkled fire,
               And blows that fell like rain.

                   The shrill death-cry
                         Arose aloud.
                   Tumultuously,
                         In a pale cloud
Of fiery dust, we eddied to and fro—
               A fierce and shrieking crowd.

                   With deafen’d ears,
                         And blood-blurr’d sight,
                   Amid my peers
                         I strove in fight,
Till, hurl’d apart, I singled out for death
               A strange and visor’d knight.

                   For, in a place
                         Removed, we came
                   Full face to face
                         With hearts of flame,
And through his mask of mail he breathed in scorn
               My loyal lady’s name.

                   Then “Yield!” I cried,
                         With wrath grown higher;
                   But he defied
                         My murderous ire:—
I made a burning circle of my sword,
               And smote him down in fire!

                   With this red brand
                         His helm I clove,
                   And, sword in hand,
                         I strode above
His breast, and drew his visor down—and lo!
               My loyal lady-love!

                   Pale as the moon
                         On Snowdon’s crest,
                   In a cold swoon
                         She lay at rest;
And as I loosed her helm, her yellow hair
               Fell, blood-stain’d, on her breast.

                   Then, with low sighs,
                         Quick breath she drew,
                   And, opening eyes
                         Of fading blue,
She look’d upon me; and I moan’d aloud
               With heart as weak as dew.

                   Her pale lips stirr’d
                         Without a sound;
                   Without a word
                         She gazed around;
And then she smiled, as only Love can smile
               When Love is blest and crown’d!

                   And with a shriek
                         I raised her head;
                   And, cold and meek,
                         Apparellèd
In the new mystery of diviner life,
               She moan’d, and softly said,—

                   “From sorrow past
                         Come peace and gain;
                   And, love, at last
                         We meet again.—
I die, content with this poor blood to show
               Your honour its one stain.

                   “For when you fled
                         With shame-flush’d face,
                   To honour dead,
                         And dead to grace,
I arm’d my woman’s limbs at dead of night,
               And rose and took your place.

                   “Wherefore, in ruth,
                         I pay for thee
                   The love, the truth,
                         The loyalty
Which wait on noble deeds, and which you owed
               To Heaven, the King, and me!

                   “To sweeter climes
                         Of love I fly;
                   Sweet music chimes
                         Through earth and sky.—
O Mordred, take me softly in your arms,
               And kiss me ere I die!

                   “Farewell! farewell!”
                         She softly sigh’d;
                   And, like a knell,
                         My heart replied.
Then, in her eyes, I broke my sword in twain,
               And kiss’d her, and she died.

 

‘Mordred’ was published in The St. James's Magazine (August, 1863).

___

 

A MELODY.

HOW many passionate eyes
     Look up to the stars to-night!
               How many a spirit,
               Where angels can hear it,
Talks to its fellow in sighs!
         To-night, to-night,
The moon, where she wanders above her
     Star-sisters, dewy and bright,
     Is full of the pain or delight
Of the loved and the lover.

The night shuts down on my heart
     Like an icy hand of lead;
               I wander
               Near thee, and squander
My love and my strength where thou art
Sleeping alone and apart
     With the churchyard dead.
               I ponder! I ponder!
While lovers look up in their pride
     To the white-handed moon and her maidens,
And the hearts of the loved by their side
     Throb to passionate cadence.

I think, if my sleeper could rise
     Out of her beautiful sleep,—
               Could walk the air,
               With her yellow hair,
And that last sweet light in her eyes,
Mingling the blue of the skies
     With shadows of death, dark and deep,
               So fair! so fair!
         Teaching, with passionate sighs,
         The lovers around me her story,—
     Into a cloud the moon would creep
     With her stars, and the loved and the loving weep
         Till their bright hair grew hoary!

                                                                             NEWTON NEVILLE.

 

‘A Melody’ was published in The St. James's Magazine (August, 1863).

___

 

 THE RIVER.

A SANG THAT SEEKS A TUNE.

I.

IT leuchs in the sunshine, it thinks i' the shadow,
It sleeps i’ the misty gowd air by the meadow,
And on its green banks there are wild flowers in plenty,—
Frae the pansies new-blawn, to the lassies o’ twenty:
Frae the pansie that hides frae the een o’ the many,
Tae the wee rosy-posy, my ain winsome Annie!

 

II.

It stops in its toil, like a wean sweet and happy,
Tae stick yellow lilies and white in its cappie;
And it sees its ain beauty wi’ modest affection,
For the heart o’ the gude is its ain sweet reflection;
And it croons to itsel’, though unheard by the many,—
And, in fac’, it’s the eemage o’ my bonnie Annie!

 

III.

But like my ain Annie, the sweetest o’ ony,
It’s usefu’ and willing forbye being bonnie:
It’s wee azure arm turns the wheel for the miller,
It ripens the wheat tae a handfu’ o’ siller,
And ilk simmer it mak’s, wi’ a will crouse and cannie,
A braw bonnie Bowrie for me and my Annie!

 

IV.

It tak’s, when the day’s dune, fu’ snug and fu’ cosy,
The stars, like a wee flock o’ lambs, to its bosie;
And down i’ the moonlight, whaur lovers are meeting,
If ye listen at nicht, ye can hear its heart beating!
And the sound (like that ither far hid frae the many)
Is just like the heart o’ my ain sleeping Annie!

 

V.

Sae it croons, morn and nicht, though the deaf canna hear it,
A faint under-sang to the deep human speerit;
And as Luve flees awa’ to a far distant ocean,
It sooms to the sea wi’ a musical motion!
And for this, an’ for a’ things—to lilt ye too many—
It claims a sweet kindred wi’ me and my Annie.

                                                                                                                                     NEWTON NEVILLE.

 

‘The River’ was published in The St. James's Magazine (October, 1863).

___

 

LOVE.

I AM bound by her silken hair,
     I am captive for evermore!
Yet my fetters I proudly bear,
     For their burthen is sweet though sore:
Like a slave, I kneel on the earth,
     Like a queen, she sits above;
But I worship the noble birth
     That has shut me out from Love!
Though she may never be mine,
     Yet my heart at her feet I lay,
Nor seek to pilfer the shrine
     At which I silently pray.
Her changeless heaven broods over
     My life, and no hope I see;
But I love her, I love her, I love her!—
     That is enough for me!

                                                                   NEWTON NEVILLE.

 

‘Love’ was published in The St. James's Magazine (October, 1863).

___

 

MERLIN AND THE WHITE DEATH.

I.

DARKLY I sought, in shade and sun,
Fair Uniun, pale Uniun!
Long days I journeyed, fearing not,
     Through forests dark, by waters dire;
And far behind me Camelot
     Sank to its topmost spire.
Ay, wingëd as the summer wind,
I left the haunts of men behind:
By waters dire, through forests dark,
Under the white moon’s silver arc;
O’er hill, down valley, far away,
Toward the sunset gathering gray,
         I, Merlin, fled,—
With aged limbs and hoary hair,
Arm’d with strange amulets to snare
The peerless Water-Witch, whose head
With lilies of sleep is garlanded,
     Under the earth and air,—
And all the viewless lures to break
Of that pale Lady of the Lake.

 

II.

Swiftly I near’d her region dun,
Fair Uniun, pale Uniun!
Till, lastly, trees of hugest height,
     Below them, flowers of poppy red,
And weird deep whisperings of the night,
     And breezes dropping dead,
Closed round my path; while in the sky
The moon shone like a great white eye
That watched me through a belt of cloud,—
What time, with head and shoulders bowed,
And lips that mutter’d unaware,
I gained the haunted region where
         White Uniun dwells;
And far away, through forest trees,
I caught a gleam like moonlit seas—
A glassy gleam of silver swells,—
The lake rimm’d round with lily-bells,
     Unstirr’d by rain or breeze;—
And trembled on, my own to make
The matchless Lady of the Lake.

 

III.

Nor safely wooed, nor lightly won,
Fair Uniun, pale Uniun!
She dwells within her weed-hung cave,
     Deep in the green moon-lighted water,
She glimmers in the whispering wave—
     A demon’s awful daughter!
White, white as snow her oozy dress,
White as her face’s loveliness;
Supple her boneless limbs as snakes,
And full of radiance, such as breaks
Around the cestus of a star,
And strange as eyes of serpents are
         Her haunting eyes;
And she had power, as stars aver,
To make the wight who conquered her
More young, and beautiful, and wise,
For good and ill, and great emprize,
     Than all men else that stir;
Wherefore I sought to win and take
This matchless Lady of the Lake!

 

IV.

Colder than ice her blood doth run,
Fair Uniun, pale Uniun!
Pitiless to all things that range
     Below her, near her, or above,
Till, by some marvel dark and strange,
     She learn at last to love;
Knight after knight had thither gone,
Led by fierce impulse plunging on
To something that he loved with dread,
And each in turn been conquerëd;
Yea, each in turn been held and snared
By the pale syren, silver-hair’d,
     Whom all men fear!
And side by side they lay at rest,
With folded hands upon the breast,
On beds of weed and darnel drear,
And foam-bells hung in every ear,
     And all in white were drest,
And all were watch’d till they should wake
By the pale Lady of the Lake.

 

V.

Potent her spells in shade or sun,
Fair Uniun, pale Uniun!
Wherefore I, Merlin, old but strong,
     Sweeping my breast with hoary beard,
Skill’d in deep signs and magic song,
     Much honour’d and revered,
Vow’d, with a wise man’s purpose stern,
To face the Water-Witch, and learn
What wondrous arts, unknown to me,
What superhuman witchery,
She used, those sleepers to enslave
That rested in her ocean cave,
         Nor felt, nor heard;
Nay, vowed by her strange love to free
My soul for immortality,
To woo her darkly, till I heard
The sigh of love, the whisper’d word
That proved her love for me!
And then for aye her spells to break,
The wondrous Lady of the Lake.

 

VI.

Thus arm’d, I near’d her region dun,
Fair Uniun, pale Uniun!
I passed from out the forests old,
     And, ’tween two faintly purple hills,
Saw the smooth waters glitter cold,
     And throb with silvery thrills:
Under a heaven glassy gray,
Bare to the ghastly moon they lay.
And on their marge great lilies heaved,
Slimed with the water-snakes, huge-leaved
And monstrous, floating scores on scores,
With fire-sparks burning in their cores—
         Like eyes of flame;
Afar across the lake there passed
Great shadows, multiform and vast,
That with low murmurs went and came;
And crawling things, stingless and tame,
     Came creeping thick and fast
Upon me, as I silence brake
With, “Rise, white Phantom of the Lake!

 

VII.

“The time has come, thy spells are spun,
Fair Uniun, pale Uniun!
And, lo! with hands uplifted thus,
     I weave a spell of strange device,
To awe thine eyes soul-perilous,
     And thaw thy blood of ice!”
Then, like a hum of waterfalls,
I heard a voice, “Who calls, who calls?”
And, standing on the water’s brim,
With heart stone-still and brain a-swim,
I wove the spell of strange device,
With whirling arms I wove it thrice,
         And audibly.
From the deep silence of the flood,
The answer smote me where I stood,—
“Who summons me, who summons me?”
And, straining dizzy eyes to see,
     With fingers gushing blood,
I shrieked aloud, “Awake! awake!
Thou white-faced Phantom of the Lake.”

 

VIII.

The deep caves murmur’d, all and one,
“Fair Uniun, pale Uniun!”
And, from her wondrous weed-hung cave,
     Deep in the green moon-lighted water,
She rose above the whispering wave—
     A demon’s awful daughter!
White, white as snow her oozy dress,
White as her face’s loveliness,
Supple her boneless limbs as snakes,
And full of radiance, such as breaks
Around the cestus of a star,
And strange as eyes of serpents are
         Her haunting eyes.
What time I cried, “The fates decree,
That he will grow, who conquers thee,
More young, and beautiful, and wise,
For good, and ill, and high emprize,
     Than all men else that be;—
Wherefore I seek thy spells to break,
O wondrous Lady of the Lake!”

 

IX.

She rose erect, the peerless one,
Fair Uniun, pale Uniun!
She fixed her glassy eyes on mine,
     With gaze that swoon’d through soul and sense,
And wholly robed in white moonshine,
     In vestal white intense,
She rose before me to the waist,
What time bright silver snakes embraced
Her arms and neck, and lilies white
Throbbed to her sides with veins of light;
The pale moon, trembling overhead,
Slow widen’d like a flower, and shed
         Peace on the place;
And, one by one, peept stars that grew
To silver leaf, and sparkled dew,
Shedding a sweetness strange to trace
Upon the Witch’s bloodless face,
     Until I saw, and knew,
The lovely lure I sought to break
In the white Lady of the Lake!

 

X.

Fairer than aught that loves the sun
Was Uniun, pale Uniun!
But, weaving spells and waving arms,
     I gazed upon her unbeguiled,
And gazed, and gazed, and mutter’d charms,
     Till, beauteously, she smiled!
And at the smile, —O wondrous sight!—
Her body gleamed and gathered light;
Next, silent as a fountain springs,
From shining shoulders, golden wings
Uncurl’d, and round about her feet
The water murmured and grew sweet,
         And fair, so fair!
The lady smiled upon me still,
And tranced my fate to tears, until
I, gazing on her, waiting there,
Her gentle eyes, her yellow hair,
     Seemed lost to hope and will;
Then thus, in tones like music, spake
That matchless Lady of the Lake:

 

XI.

“Not safely wooed, nor lightly won,
Is Uniun, fair Uniun!
Yet unto those who, by a power
     Greater than mine, are given to me,
I grow in beauty hour by hour,
     And immortality!
Haste, haste thee back to Camelot;
I seek not those who love me not;
Nor, till due time, can mortal gaze
Behold how fair I am, and praise
My matchless beauty at its worth;
And thou, compact of subtle earth,
         Hast yet to learn
How fair I am, what peace I keep
For hearts that ache and eyes that weep,
And how, when humbled, men discern
That mine are eyes more sweet than stern!”
     Whereat a darkness deep
Oppressed my soul, and, as she spake,
Sank the white Lady of the Lake!

 

XII.

O beautiful, and all unwon,
Pale Uniun, pale Uniun!
With wiser wonder in my brain,
     And will as weak as ocean foam,
Stript of my pride, and pale with pain,
     I, Merlin, wander’d home.
But, ever since, in moon and sun,
Fair Uniun, pale Uniun,
Has haunted me from place to place
With the white glory of her face;
And I grow old, grow old, and long
At last to join that white-robed throng,
         Who sweetly sleep,
Watched ever by the peerless one,
Who sweetens sleep when work is done
For still, within her cavern deep,
Where never eye may ope to weep,
     Watches pale Uniun,
Till, at a call, the sleepers wake,
And see the Angel of the Lake!

                                                                                                                         R. WILLIAMS BUCHANAN.

 

‘Merlin and the White Death’ was published in Once A Week (20 February, 1864).

___

 

A TOKEN.

THIS little golden curl you gave
     To me long years ago,
Shines, like a cowslip on a grave,
     Above my buried woe!
What thoughts and dreams it summons back
     From youth, whose music pain’d!
Lo! it unites the love I lack
     With that I might have gain’d.

We loved each other, you and I,
     We toy’d, as lovers will;
Two tiny clouds through azure sky
     Moved slowly without will,
Driven by inner cloud and storm
     No human eye may know,
And distance-shaped to hue and form
     For eyes that watch below.

Now, if I have a hope, ’tis one
     That shows you still are dear:
’Tis—when this human life is done,
     And all this doubt and fear,
And I such scorn no longer brave
     As parted you from me—
That, on my breast within the grave,
     This little curl may be.

For in mine eyes you are so fair,
     That I can picture thee
A holy angel of the air,
     From human grossness free;
Ay, one of those who will to bliss
     Awake the dead that sleep;
And you might know me, dear, by this
     Small token that I keep!

                                                                   NEWTON NEVILLE.

 

‘A Token’ was published in The St. James's Magazine (April, 1864).

___

 

A’BECKETT’S TROTH.

 

PRISON’D in Palestine, A’Beckett saw
An Eastern maiden flutter to and fro,
Bringing a sunshine to his prison-house;
And while she waited on him silently,
And heard his speech she could not understand,
His eyes that hunger’d on her coming said
“I love thee;” and her Eastern eyes replied
“I love thee.” Wherefore, in the secret night,
She ope’d his prison door, looking the words,
“Fly—for I love thee!” and what time he paused
In act to wander forth, his eyes replied
In toneless speech her soul could understand,—
“I go—but I will come to make thee mine!”
So fled he forth, and, touching English shore,
Forgot the angel of his prison-house;
But she, the Eastern maiden, treasured up
The promise of his face, and moved about
With an uncertain step like one who dreams,
Murmuring evermore, in her own tongue,—
“Gilbert, thou wilt return to make me thine!”

Two little words, two little honey’d words,
Were all the maiden’s store of English speech—
“Gilbert” and “London”—words that she had heard
The prisoner breathe when looks interpreted
Their beauteous meaning; and with these she soothed
The weary waiting for her love’s return:
She murmur’d them awake and in her dreams,
And they were sweeter than all human sound;
And one brought back the tender glorious eyes
That swore with truth sure as the silent stars;
And one called up a pleasant western land,
Where she should dwell with Gilbert till the end.

But slowly. surely, passed the nights and days,
And Gilbert came not: days and months and years,
And still he came not. Therefore, doubting not,
“He cannot come,” she said, “though he has sworn
He loves me. I have also truly sworn;
Therefore I will arise and go to him.”

Fearing not, doubting not, she wander’d forth,
And journey’d till she stood beside the sea,
And heard the murmur of the waves, that seemed
Like Gilbert’s speech she could not understand.
Then, after many days, passed fearlessly
On shipboard; for when rude men hinder’d her,
She murmured, pointing westward, sunset-ward,
“London”—half the whole language of her Soul.
And rude men drew aside, and harmed her not.
For, though her face was strange, her garments poor,
There was an errand in her eyes which seemed
Too sanctified for rough impediment.

Upon the sun-kist strand of Italy
She landed: passing on, with face that still
Turned westward, like the sunflower sunward; still
“Gilbert” and “London” sweetly made for her
A melody such as a bird’s twin wings
Murmurs in flying. Here the monk stopped short
And blessed her for the errand on her face;
The soldier, shrugging shoulders, mutter’d “Mad!”
But felt as if a spirit passed him by;
The very lazzaroni in the streets
Grew bashful at the truth of her sweet smile.
So walked she onward to the setting sun,
Piloted by those twin sweet English words;
Till barbarous peasants in the wilds of France
Glared at her under rugged locks unkempt,
And when she murmured “London” dumbly gazed
Toward sunset. Many days, and weeks, and months
She journey’d, till again she saw the sea,
And heard the murmur of the waves that seemed
Like Gilbert’s speech she could not understand;
Till standing, looking to the west, she heard
One call unto another in a tongue
She knew was Gilbert’s tongue; and eagerly,
With asking eyes, she clang to him who spake,
And utter’d her Soul’s speech; and at the last
He pointed dumbly to a ship that rode
With murmurous sails at anchor in the bay.
Then, once again, unhinder’d by rude hands,
She calmly passed on shipboard; and, ere long,
Standing on English ground, heard everywhere,
A beauteous speech she knew was Gilbert’s speech,
A hollow murmur deafening soul and sense,
A blessed tearful memory, a voice
Like the sea’s voice she could not understand.

Not yet her search was ended. Days and nights
She wander’d, shone upon by rich and poor
With charity-giving smiles and silent prayers;
But, lastly, standing in a populous street,
What time the air was rent with joyous cries,
Beheld a pageant sweeping proudly past,
And Gilbert in the midst, erect and proud,
With stately eyes forgetful of their troth.
Then, first the sweet tears came, and, white as snow,
She fell at Gilbert’s feet, who knew her not;
Next, knowing her, turned crimson, and was shamed.
But, when she rose erect and clung to him,
Murmuring “Gilbert,” with an angry joy
He caught her to his heart, crying aloud,—
“O eyes, more true than truest human speech!
O lips, that need no language but the Soul’s!
O heart, that utterest against mine own
Love plainer than all false and spoken vows!”
Whereat the Eastern maiden clung to him
And could not understand; but when he stooped
And looked into her eyes, she knew he said
“I love thee—love thee—and will make thee mine!”

                                                                                                                                 ROBERT BUCHANAN.

beckettpic04

‘A’Beckett’s Troth’ was published in Once A Week (14 May, 1864).

___

 

HALCYONE.

THE eyes of heaven watch’d Halcyone,
And o’er the sleeper’s pillow softly bent
Mild-featured visions, while with tears unshed
She folded Ceyx unto her heart in dreams.

Ay, while the stars of heaven watch’d her, slept
The pale-faced lady in the dark of night;
Dove-eyed and beauteous as Cymodice,
Sweet as a fragrant bank of asphodels
Kiss’d into tumult by their own sweet wind,
Slumber’d Halcyone, and Silence waved
His dewy wings above her. Like a beam
That catches shadow in a brooklet’s breast,
She sank into the dusky arms of peace.

The eyes of midnight watch’d Halcyone,
Deepening the twilight of her inner doubt,
And belting one bright fear, like starry Mars,
Between her visions and the All-unknown;
But Hope had wove a tender film of prayer
About her sorrow, as Arachne weaves
Thin curtains for sad epitaphs. The morn
Spilt liquid brightness on the damask bed
Where lay, pour’d forth more white than morning milk,
The veilless beauty of her limbs embalm’d
In its own fragrance. Nakedly she lay,
Pure as the eyes above; and all the while
Sweet shone the stainless soul upon her face
Like mornrise on a flower. Her dewy lips
Trembled like leaves of roses, stirr’d with breath
Sweeter than odours from the spicy South;
And even as two diamond drops of rain
Closèd in aspen leaves, her eyes lay soft
Under the rainy lids; and all her form
Seem’d passing into rainbows where she slept
In silence—as the moist and sun kiss’d snow
Seems wonderfully melting into flowers.

The eyes of heaven watch’d Halcyone;
But standing in the bright and breathless noon,
She gazed to Claros, till, with throbbing heart,
She drew a dead man’s arm about her neck,
And smooth’d the seaweeds from a dead man’s eyes,
And kiss’d the cold and oozy lips of Ceyx;
And sweet Halcyone uplifted eyes
To heaven dumbly, praying power to die;
And trembling, glowing, sunbeam-like, she rose,
And held a dead man’s arm about her neck,
And flutter’d headlong to the sea, and died.

But those sweet stars that are the eyes of heaven
Pitied Halcyone, and unclosed to see
Two small blue birds that floated on the waves
Like moving violets; and all the air
Was silver with delight when Venus rose,
Clad in her robes of eve; and all the eyes
Look’d down with sweetness on the tiny twain
That sat upon the marriageable waves,
And join’d the murmur of the power that sought
To part them on the shores of death and sleep.

                                                                           NEWTON NEVILLE.

 

‘Halcyone’ was published in The St. James's Magazine (June, 1864).

___

 

HORATIAN PARAPHRASES.

Lydia, dic, per omnes
Te Deos oro, Sybarin cur properas amando
Perdere?
&c.—Lib. I, Carm. VIII.

 

I. —Anglicé.

     SAY, Lydia, I conjure you—
By all the little modern gods above you—
     Why wilt thou slay that poor you-
-Th, Cornet Brown, by teaching him to love you?
     Why down the Row’s green shade now
Rides he no more his proud and mettled mare, Miss?
     Why does he miss parade now,
And cease to brush and comb his auburn hair, Miss?—
     This poor abused young party
Could whack a bargeman once, you know full well O;
     Fenced, swam, was strong and hearty—
We know not what the devil ails the fellow!
     Why does he hide in sadness?
As Smith did, ere the Sepoy war began, Miss,
     Lest, in a fit of madness,
He might exchange to fight in Hindostan, Miss.

 

II.—Scotticé.

If ye’ve only respect for yoursel’,
     Or the stars that hae made ye sae bonnie,
O Lyddy Macphcrson, ye’ll tell
     What the deil ye hae dune to our Johnnie?

He bides ben, wi’ a gloom-wrappit mou’,
     Taks nae pleisure in runnin’ or soomin,
Disna wark, and nae langer gets fou’
     Wi’ Watt o’ that Ilk and the pleughmen!*
                     If ye’ve only respect for yoursel’, &c.

At fechtin’ and puttin’ the stane,
     Nae lad i’ the town had sic speerit;
At the pleugh-watch, last simmer was ane,
     He wan a gowd medal o’ meerit.
                     If ye’ve only respect for yoursel’, &c.

Then what way does he hide frae all fun,
     Ben the house be for ever a lodger—
Like Hugh, Mistress’s Jamieson’s son,
     Ere he listed and gang’d for a sodger?
                     If ye’ve only respect for yoursel’,
                         Or the stars that hae made ye sae bonnic,
                     O Lyddy Macpherson, ye’ll tell
                         What the deil ye hae dune to our Johnnie!

     * Inter equales.

                                                                                                                                     NEWTON NEVILLE.

 

‘Horatian Paraphrases’ was published in The St. James's Magazine (October, 1864).

_____

 

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