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This Present, thou, forsooth, would fain arrest:
Try thee and turn thee forth, sufficiently impressed.*
What though the earlier grooves,
Look not thou down but up!
The festal board, lamp's flash and trumpet's peal,
The new wine's foaming flow,
Thou, heaven's consummate cup, what needst thou with earth's wheel? ISO
But I need, now as then,
So, take and use thy work:
My times be in thy hand! 190
Fear death?—to feel the fog in my throat,
The mist in my face, When the snows begin, and the blasts denote
1 am nearing the place. The power of the night, the press of the storm,
The post of the foe; Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,
Yet the strong man must go: For the journey is done and the tummit attained,
And the barriers fall, 10 I
4 moulded and figured
•This poem nus written in 1881. shortly after j Mrs. Browning's death. The title means "Look forward." I
Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be
The best and the last! t would hate that death bandaged my eyes, ami forbore, And bade me creep past. No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers The heroes of old, Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears
Of pain, darkness and cold. 20 i'or sudden the worst turns the best to the brave,
The black minute's at end, And the elements' rage, the fiend-voices thai, rave,
skill dwindle, shall blend, Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain,
Then a light, then thy breast,
0 thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee
And with God be the rest!
On the sea and at the Hogue, sixteen hundred ninety-two,
Did the English fight the French,—woe to France!
And, the thirty-first of May, helter-skelter
through the blue, Like a crowd of frightened porpoises1 a shoal
of sharks pursue, Came crowding ship on ship to Saint Malo
on the Ranee, With the English fleet in view.
'T was the squadron that escaped, with the victor in full chase; First and foremost of the drove, in his great ship, Damfreville;
Close on him fled, great and small,
Twenty-two good ships in all; 10
And they signalled to the place
"Help the winners of a race!
1 Supply "which."
t The victory of La ITogue was won off the north coast of Normandy by the British and Dutch Allies against Louis XIV. Horn- Kiel, a Breton sailor from the village of Oroisic. saved many of the fleeing French vessels by piloting them through the shalloivs at the mouth of the river Hance to the roadstead at St. Malo.
Get us guidance, give us harbour, take us quick—or, quicker still, Here 's the English can and will!''
Then the pilots of the place put out brisk and leapt on board; "Why what hope or chance have ships like these to passf" laughed they: "Rocks to starboard, rocks to port, all the
passage scarred and scored, Shall the 'Formidable' here with her twelve and eighty guns Think to make the river-mouth by the single narrow way, Trust to enter where 't is ticklish for a craft of twenty tons, 20 And with flow at full beside? Now, 't is slackest ebb of tide.
Reach the mooring! Rather say, While rock stands or water runs, Not a ship will leave the bay!"
Then was called a council straight.
Brief and bitter the debate:
"Here's the English at our heels; would you
have them take in tow All that's left us of the fleet, linked together
stern and bow, For a prize to Plymouth Sound f 30 Better run the ships aground!"
(Ended Damfreville his speech). "Not a minute more to wait! Let the Captains all and each Shove ashore, then blow up, burn the vessels on the beach! France must undergo her fate.
"Give the word!" But no such word
For up stood, for out stepped, for in struck
amid all these —A Captaint A Lieutenant! A Mate—first,
second, third! 40 No such man of mark, and meet With his betters to compete! But a simple Breton sailor pressed by Tourvillc
for the fleet, A poor coasting pilot he, Herv6 Riel the Croi
And "What mockery or malice have we here?" cries Herv* Riel: "Are you mad, you Malouins? Are you cowards, fools, or rogues?
Talk to me of rocks and shoals, me who took the soundings' tell
On my fingers every bank, every shallow, every swell,
'Twixt the ofting here and Greve where the
river disembogues? Are you bought by English gold? Is it love
the lying's for? 10 .Morn and eve, night and day, Have I piloted your bay,
Entered free and anchored fast at the foot of Solidor.
Burn the fleet and ruin France? That were worse than fifty Hogues! Sirs, they know I speak the truth! Sirs, believe
me there's a way! Only let me lead the line,
Have the biggest ship to steer, Get this 'Formidable' clear, Make the others follow mine. And I lead them, most and least, by a passage I know well, W Right to Solidor past Greve, And there lay them safe and sound: And if one ship misbehave, —Keel so much as grate the ground, Why I've nothing but my life,—here's my bead! " cries Hcrvfi Riel.
Not a minute more to wait.
"Steer us in, then, small and great!
Take the helm, lead the line, save the squadron!'' cried its chief. Captains, give the sailor place!
He is Admiral, in brief. 70 Still the north-wind, by God's grace! See the noble fellow's face As the big ship, with a bound, Clears the entry like a hound, Keeps the passage as its inch of way were the wide sea's profound!
See, safe through shoal and rock,
How they follow in a flock, Not a ship that misbehaves, not a keel that grates the ground,
Not a spar that comes to grief! The peril, see, is past," All are harboured to the last, And just as Herv6 Riel hollas "Anchor!"—
sure as fate, Up the English come—too late!
So, the storm subsides to calm:
Hearts that bled are stanched with balm.
"Just our rapture to enhance.
Gnash their teeth ami glare askance 90 j
As they cannonade away! 'Neath rampired Solidor pleasant riding on the Ranee!"
How hope succeeds despair on each Captain's
"This is Paradise for Hell!
Not a symptom of surprise
In the frank blue Breton eyes, Just the same man as before.
Then said Damfreville, "My friend,
Though I find the speaking hard.
You must name your own reward.
Then a beam of fun outbroke
Since on board the duty 's done,
And from Malo Roads to Croisic Point, what is it but a runt— 120 Since 't is ask and have, I may—
Since the others go ashore— Come! A good whole holiday!
Leave to go and sec my wife, whom I call the Belle Aurore!"
That he asked and that he got,—nothing more.
Name and deed alike arc lost:
In his Croisic keeps alive the feat as it be-
Not a head in white and black
All that France saved from the fight whence England bore the bell.1 l had the victory
do to Paris: rank on rank
Search the heroes flung pell-mell On the Louvre,' face aad flank:
You shall look long enough ere you come to HervS Riel. So, for better and for worse, Herve' Riel, accept my verse! In my verse, Herv6 Riel, do thou once more Save the squadron, honour France, love thy wife, the Belle Aurore! 140
—Where is the blotf Beamy the world, yet a blank all the same, —Framework which waits for a picture to frame:
What of the leafage, what of the flower?
Breathe but one breath
And all that was death
Grows life, grows love,
WHY I AM A LIBERAL
"Why?" Because all I haply can and do,
But little do or can the best of us:
That little is achieved through Liberty.
Who, then, dares hold, emancipated thus,
His fellow shall continue bound? Not I,
Who live, love, labour freely, nor discuss
A brother's right to freedom. That is '' Why.''
At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time,
When you set your fancies free, Will they pass to where—by death, fools think, imprisoned—
I An ancient roval palace, now mainly an artKallery. adorned with the statues of eminent Frenchmen.
* This Is the Epilogue to Anolando. which was published at London on the day when Browning died at Venice.
Low be lies who once so lovcil you, whom you
Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken!
What had I on earth to do With the slothful, with the mawkish, the unmanly?
Like the aimless, helpless, hopeless, did 1 drivel
One who never turned his bark but marched
wrong would triumph,
No, at noonday in the bustle of man's worktime
Greet the unseen with a cheer! Bid him forward, breast and back as cither should be,
"Strive and thrive!" cry "Speed,—fight on, fare ever
There as here!''
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWN-
SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE*
I thought once how Theocritus had sung1
Who each one in a gracious hand appears
l Idyls, xv, 104.
* Those Sonnets, forty-four In number, were written by Miss Barrett during the time of Mr. Browning's courtship, but were not shown to him until after their marriage In 1840. The title under which they were published (1850) was adopted as a disguise. To understand them aright, it must be remembered that Miss Barrett was in middle life and had long been an invalid. See Eng. Lit., p. 307. F. G. Kenvon. In his edition of Mrs. Browning's Letter*, writes: "With the single exception of Itossetti. no modern English I poet has written of love with such genius. | such beauty, and such sincerity, as the two; who gave the most beautiful example of it in their own lives." i
So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
said. But, there,
Unlike are we, unlike, O princely Heart!
Of chief musician. What hast thou to do
And Death must dig the level where these agree,
Thou hast thy calling to some palace-floor,
To let thy music drop here unaware
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
j 2 The sacred ointment; here figurative for poeti<
But love nit> for love's sake, that evermore Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity.
When our two souls stand up erect and strong.
The angels would press on us and aspire
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and. if God choose,
1 shall but love thee better after death.
RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM*
Wake! For the Sun, who scatter'd into flight
The Sultan's Turret with a Shaft of Light.!
1 "False Dawn," preceding the real dawn about
an hour; "a well known phenomenon hi I he East." (This note, and many that follow, are condensed from Fitzgerald's notes, i
2 The Vernal equinox.
s See Kxodun, lv, •!. A strong figure fur the
miracle of spring blossoms. 4 "According to the Persians, the healing power
of Jesus resided in his breath."
Before the phantom of False morning died,' Methought a Voice within the Tavern cried,
"When all the Temple is prepared within. Why nods the drowsy Worshipper outside ?''
And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before The Tavern shouted—"Open then the Door!
You know how little while we have to stay, And, once departed, may return no more."
Now the New Year- reviving old Desires,
Puts out,3 and Jesus from the Ground suspires.1 v
Irani indeed is gone with all his Rose, And Jamshyd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows;
But still a Ruby kindles in the Vine, And many a Garden by the Water blows.t
* Omar Khayyam <i. e.. Omar the Tent-maker) was a Persian astronomer and poet of the 12th century, who dwelt at Xalshilpflr. Rub6iy6t is a Persian word, the plural of rnbdi. which signifies "a quatrain. These rubaiytit are therefore short, epigrammatic poems, virtually independent of each other. From among the numerous quatrains left by Omar, Edward Fitzgerald selected and freelv translated a number, and printed them in Is.'ih (see Eng. Lit., p. IMJil). The number In that edition was seventy-five. The third edition (1873) contained one hundred and one; the fourth edition, which is reproduced here, had a few further verbal changes. There are two widely divergent views of the philosophy contained in them, the one regarding it as wholly materialistic, raising questions of the "Two Worlds" only to dismiss them and take refuge in the pleasures of sense—an Epicurean philosophy of "Eat, drink, and be merry." The other regards it as an example of Oriental mysticism, employing Wine and the like as poetic symbols of deity. Fitzgerald held firmly to (he former view, content, however, "to believe that, while the wine Omar celebrates is simply the juice of the grape, he bragged more than he drank of it. In very defiance perhaps of that spiritual wine which loft lis votaries sunk In hypocrisy or disgust."
!■ The o|>ening stanza of the first edition Is considerably more daring In its imagery, drawing one of Its figures from the practice. In the desert, of flinging a stone into the cup as a signal "To Horse !"—
Awake! for Morning In the Bowl of Night
lias Hung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And I.o! the Hunter of (be Fast has caught The Sultan's Turret In a Noose of Light.
I Iram was an ancient garden, planted by King ShaddAd. Jamshyd was a legendary king of Persia's golden age; his seven-ringed cup was "typical of (he seven heavens, etc., and was a divining cup." Other kings and heroes are mentioned in quatrains X and XVIII. Ilattm was "a well known type of oriental generosity." For ZAI and Rustum, see Arnold's poem of nohiab and Runtum.