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Days came and went; and now returned again
To Sicily the old Saturnian reign;
Under the Angel's governance benign
The happy island danced with corn and wine,
And deep within the mountain's burning breast
Enceladus, the giant, was at rest.
Meanwhile King Robert yielded to his fate,
Sullen and silent and disconsolate.
Dressed in the motley garb that Jesters wear,
With looks bewildered and a vacant stare,
Close shaven above the ears, as monks are shorn,
By courtiers mocked, by pages laughed to scorn,
His only friend the ape, his only food
What others left,- he still was unsubdued.
And when the Angel met him on his way,
And half in earnest, half in jest, would say,
Sternly, though tenderly, that he might feel
The velvet scabbard held a sword of steel,
'Art thou the King ?' the passion of his woe
Burst from him in resistless overflow,
And, lifting high his forehead, he would fling
The haughty answer back, “I am, I am the King!'
Almost three years were ended; when there came
Ambassadors of great repute and name
From Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine,
Unto King Robert, saying that Pope Urbane
By letter summoned them forthwith to come
On Holy Thursday to his city of Rome.
The Angel with great joy received his guests,
And gave them presents of embroidered vests,
And velvet mantles with rich ermine lined,
And rings and jewels of the rarest kind.
Then he departed with them o'er the sea
Into the lovely land of Italy,
Whose loveliness was more resplendent made
By the mere passing of that cavalcade,
With plumes, and cloaks, and housings, and the stir
Of jewelled bridle and of golden spur.
And lo! among the menials, in mock state,
Upon a piebald steed, with shambling gait,
His cloak of fox-tails flapping in the wind,
The solemn ape demurely perched behind,
King Robert rode, making huge merriment
In all the country towns through which they went.
The Pope received them with great pomp, and blare
Of bannered trumpets, on Saint Peter's square,
Giving his benediction and embrace,
Fervent, and full of apostolic grace.
While with congratulations and with prayers
He entertained the Angel unawares,
Robert, the Jester, bursting through the crowd,
Into their presence rushed, and cried aloud,
'I am the King! Look, and behold in me
Robert, your brother, King of Sicily!
This man, who wears my semblance to your eyes,
Is an impostor in a king's disguise.
Do you not know me? does no voice within
Answer my cry, and say we are akin?'
The Pope in silence, but with troubled mien,
Gazed at the Angel's countenance serene;
The Emperor, laughing, said, “It is strange sport
To keep a madman for thy Fool at court!'
And the poor, baffled Jester in disgrace
Was hustled back among the populace.
In solemn state the Holy Week went by,
And Easter Sunday gleamed upon the sky ;
The presence of the Angel, with its light,
Before the sun rose, made the city bright,
And with new fervour filled the hearts of men,
Who felt that Christ indeed had risen again.
Even the Jester, on his bed of straw,
With haggard eyes the unwonted splendour saw,
He felt within a power unfelt before,
And, kneeling humbly on his chamber floor,
He heard the rushing garments of the Lord
Sweep through the silent air, ascending heavenward.
And now the visit ending, and once more
Valmond returning to the Danube's shore,
Homeward the Angel journeyed, and again
The land was made resplendent with his train,
Flashing along the towns of Italy
Unto Salerno, and from there by sea.
And when once more within Palermo's wall,
And, seated on the throne in his great hall,
He heard the Angelus from convent towers,
As if the better world conversed with ours,
He beckoned to King Robert to draw nigher,
And with a gesture bade the rest retire;
And when they were alone, the Angel said,
Art thou the King ?' Then bowing down his head,
King Robert crossed both hands upon his breast,
And meekly answered him : 'Thou knowest best!
My sins as scarlet are ; let me go hence,
And in some cloister's school of penitence,
Across those stones, that pave the way to heaven,
Walk barefoot, till my guilty soul is shriven!'
The Angel smiled, and from his radiant face
A holy light illumined all the place,
And through the open window, loud and clear,
They heard the monks chant in the chapel near,
Above the stir and tumult of the street :
'He has put down the mighty from their seat,
And has exalted them of low degree!'
And through the chant a second melody
Rose like the throbbing of a single string :
'I am an Angel, and thou art the King !'
King Robert, who was standing near the throne,
Lifted his eyes, and lo! he was alone !
But all apparelled as in days of old,
With ermined mantle and with cloth of gold ;
And when his courtiers came, they found him there
Kneeling upon the floor, absorbed in silent prayer.
SOUND SLEEP.-Miss Rossetti.
SOME are laughing, some are weeping;
She is sleeping, only sleeping.
Round her rest wild flowers are creeping;
There the wind is heaping, heaping
Sweetest sweets of Summer's keeping,
By the corn fields ripe for reaping.
There are lilies, and there blushes
The deep rose, and there the thrushes
Sing till latest sunlight flushes
In the west ; a fresh wind brushes
Through the leaves while evening hushes.
There by day the lark is singing
And the grass and weeds are springing;
There by night the bat is winging;
There for ever winds are bringing
Far-off chimes of church-bells ringing.
Night and morning, noon and even,
Their sound fills her dreams with Heaven
The long strife at length is striven :
Till her grave-bands shall be riven.
Such is the good portion given
To her soul at rest and shriven.
LABOUR.-F. S. Osgood. Pause not to dream of the future before us : Pause not to weep the wild cares that come o'er us; Hark how Creation's deep musical chorus,
Unintermitting goes up into Heaven !
Never the ocean wave falters in flowing:
Never the little seed stops in its growing ;
More and more richly the rose-heart keeps glowing,
Till from its nourishing stem it is riven.
Labour is worship!' the robin is singing :
‘Labour is worship!' the wild bee is ringing :
Listen! that eloquent music upspringing
Speaks to thy soul from out Nature's great heart. From the dark cloud flows the life giving shower; From the rough sod blows the soft breathing flower ; From the small insect the rich coral bower;
Only man, in the plan, shrinks from his part. Labour is life !—'tis the still water faileth ; Idleness ever despaireth, bewaileth ; Keep the watch wound, for the dark rust assaileth !
Flowers droop and die in the stillness of noon.
Labour is glory!-the flying cloud lightens;
Only the waving wing changes and brightens;
Idle hearts only the dark future frightens ;
Play the sweet keys would'st thou keep them in tune!
Labour is rest-from the sorrows that greet us,
Rest from all petty vexations that meet us;
Rest from sin promptings that ever entreat us ;
Rest from world syrens that lure us to ill
Work—and pure slumbers shall wait on thy pillow,
Work—thou shalt ride over care's coming billow,
Lie not down wearied ’neath woe's weeping willow,
Work with a stout heart and resolute will.
Labour is health-lo! the husbandman reaping,
How through his veins goes the life-current leaping !
How his strong arm in its stalwart pride sweeping,
True as a'sunbeam, the swift sickle guides,
Labour is wealth-in the sea the pearl groweth,
Rich the Queen's robe from the frail cocoon floweth,
From the fine acorn the strong forest bloweth,
Temple, and statue, the marble block hides.
Droop not though shame, sin, and anguish are round
thee; Bravely fling off the cold chain that hath bound thee; Look to yon blue heaven smiling beyond thee;
Rest not content in thy darkness-a clod. Work-for some good, be it ever so slowly; Cherish some flower, be it ever so lowly; Labour-all labour is noble and holy,
Let thy great deeds be thy prayer to thy God.'
STONE walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage ;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for a hermitage :
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.