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But touched his lute wherein was audible
Then the dark ripples spread to waving hair,
And now Love sang: but his was such a song.
They looked on us, and knew us and were known;
While fast together, alive from the abyss,
And still Love sang, and what he sang was this:—
"O ye, all ye that walk in Willowwood,
Ere ye again, who so in vain have wooed
Alas! if ever such a pillow could
Better all life forget her than this thing,
That Willowwood should hold her wandering!"
So sang he: and as meeting rose and rose Together cling through the wind's wellaway' Nor change at once, yet near the end of day
l An archaic expression of jtrlcf.
The leaves drop loosened where the heart-stain glows,—
So when the song died did the kiss unclose;
As its gray eyes; and if it ever may
Till both our heads were in his aureole.
LXV. Known In Vain
As two whose love, first foolish, widening scope,
Yet, at their meetings, laugh not as they laugh'd
In speech; nor speak, at length; but sitting oft
Thenceforth their incommunicable ways
LXVI. The Heaet or The Xiuht
From child to youth; from youth to arduous man;
From lethargy to fever of the heart; From faithful life to dream-dowered davs apart;
From trust to doubt; from doubt to brink of ban;—
Thus much of change in one swift cycle ran
LXVH. The Landmark
Was that the landmark? What—the foolish well
Whose wave, low down, I did not stoop to drink,
Hut sat and flung the pebbles from its brink
Which once I stained, which since may have
grown black. Yet though no light be left nor bird now sing As here I turn, I '11 thank God, hastening, That the same goal is still on the same track.
LXX. The Hill Summit
This feast-day of the sun, his altar there
I must tread downward through the sloping shade
And travel the bewildered tracks till night.
LXXIX. The Monochord*
Is it this sky's vast vault or ocean's sound
The lifted shifted steeps and all the way?— That draws round me at last this wind-warm space,
And in regenerate rapture turns my face
• A musical Instrument of one strlnc. hence, unity, harmony: here apparently used to symbolize the ultimate morning of separate lives into one Life.
CHRISTINA ROSSETTI (1830-1894)
Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
'Come buy our orchard fruits,
Lome buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Swart-headed mulberries, M
Wild free-born cranberries,
All ripe together
In summer weather,—
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy:
Our grapes fresh from the vine, 20
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye; 30 Come buy, come buy.'
* Of this poem. Yvni|am M. Rossctti. Christina's brother, writes: "I have more than once heard Christina say that she did not mean anything profound by this fairy tale—it is not a moral apologue consistently carried out In detail. Still the Incidents are ... suggestive, and different minds may be likely to read different messages into them." He remarks further that the central point of the story, read merely as a story. Is often missed. Lizzie's service to her sister lies in procuring for her a neeonrj taste of the goblin fruits, such as those who have once tasted them ever afterward long for. and pine away with longing, but which the goblins themselves will not voluntarily accord.
'We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots V
'Come buy,' call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.
'Oh,' cried Lizzie, 'Laura, Laura,
You should not peep at goblin men.'
Lizzie covered up her eyes, 50
Covered close lest they should look;
Laura reared her glossy head,
And whispered like the restless brook:
'Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie,
Down the glen tramp little men.
One hauls a basket,
One bears a plate,
One lugs a golden dish
Of many pounds' weight.
How fair the vine must grow 60
Laura stretched her gleaming neck
Backwards up the mossy glen
1 An Australian marsupial, nomethlng like a small
2 A hoxiey-badger; a nocturnal animal which feeds
on rats, birds, and honey.
Leering at each other,
Brother with queer brother;
Signalling each other,
Brother with sly brother.
One set his basket down,
One reared his plate;
One began to weave a crown
Of tendrils, leaves, and rough nuts brown 100
(Men sell not such in any town);
One heaved the golden weight
Of dish and fruit to offer her:
'Come buy, come buy,' was still their cry.
Laura stared but did not stir,
Longed but had no money.
The whisk-tailed merchant bade her taste
In tones as smooth as honey,
The cat-faced purr'd,
The rat-paced spoke a word 110
But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste:
'Good Folk, I have no coin;
To take were to purloin:
I have no copper in my purse,
I have no silver either,
And all my gold is on the furze 120
That shakes in windy weather
Above the rusty heather.'
'You have much gold upon your head,'
They answered all together:
'Buy from us with a golden curl.'
She clipped a precious golden lock,
She dropped a tear more rare than pearl,
Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red.
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine, 13°
Clearer than water flowed that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She sucked and sucked and sucked the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore
She sucked until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away
But gathered up one kernel stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turned home alone. 1*0
Lizzie met her at the gate
How she met them in the moonlight,
Then fell with the first snow,
While to this day no grass will grow
Where she lies low:
I planted daisies there a year ago 160
That never blow.
You should not loiter so.'
'Nay, hush,' said Laura:
'Nay, hush, my sister:
I ate and ate my fill,
Yet my mouth waters still:
To-morrow night I will
Buy more;' and kissed her.
'Have done with sorrow;
I '11 bring you plums to-morrow 170
With lilies at the brink,
Golden head by golden head,
Like two pigeons in one nest
Folded in each other's wings,
They lay down in their curtained bed:
Like two blossoms on one stem,
Like two flakes of new-fall 'n snow,
Like two wands of ivory 190
Tipped with gold for awful kings.
Moon and stars gazed in at them,
Wind sang to them lullaby,
Lumbering owls forebore to fly,
Not a bat flapped to and fro
Round their nest:
Cheek to cheek and breast to breast
Early in the morning
When the first cock crowed his warning, 200
Neat like bees, as sweet and busy,
Laura rose with Lizzie:
Fetched in honey, milked the cows,
Aired and set to rights the house,
Kneaded cakes of whitest wheat,
Cakes for dainty mouths to eat,
Next churned butter, whipped up cream,
Fed their poultry, gat and sewed;
Talked as modest maidens should:
Lizzie with an open heart, 210
Laura in an absent dream,
One content, one sick in part;
One warbling for the mere bright day's delight,
One longing for the night.
At length slow evening came:
Those furthest loftiest crags;
Come, Laura, not another maiden lags.
No wilful squirrel wags,
The beasts and birds are fast asleep.'
But Laura loitered still among the rushes,
And said the bank was steep,
And said the hour was early still,
The dew not fallen, the wind not chill;
Listening ever, but not catching 230
The customary cry,
'Come buy, come buy,'
With its iterated jingle
Of sugar-baited words:
Not for all her watching
Once discerning even one goblin
Racing, whisking, tumbling, hobbling—
Let alone the herds
That used to tramp along the glen,
In groups or single, 240
Of brisk fruit-merchant men.
Till Lizzie urged, 'O Laura, come;
I hear the fruit-call, but I dare not look:
You should not loiter longer at this brook:
Come with me home.
The stars rise, the moon bends her arc,
Each glow-worm winks her spark,
Let us go home before the night grows dark;
For clouds may gather
Though this is summer weather, 250 Put out the lights and drench us through; Then if we lost our way what should we dot' Laura turned cold as stone
To find her sister heard that cry alone,
That goblin cry,
'Come buy our fruits, come buy.'
MuBt she then buy no more such dainty fruit!
Must she no more such succous pasture* find,
Gone deaf and blind?
Her tree of life drooped from the root: 260 She said not one word in her heart's sore ache: But peering thro' the dimness, nought discerning,
Trudged home, her pitcher dripping all the way;
So crept to bed, and lay
As if her heart would break.
Day after day, night after night,
Laura kept watch in vain 270
In sullen silence of exceeding pain.
She never caught again the goblin cry,
'Come buy, come buy;'—
She never spied the goblin men
Hawking their fruits along the glen:
But when the noon waxed bright
Her hair grew thin and grey;
She dwindled, as the fair full moon doth turn
To swift decay and burn
Her Are away. 280
One day remembering her kernel-stone
She set it by a wall that faced the south;
Dewed it with tears, hoped for a root,
Watched for a waxing shoot,
But there came none.
It never saw the sun,
It never felt the trickling moisture run:
While with sunk eyes and faded mouth
She dreamed of melons, as a traveller sees
False waves in desert drouth 290
With shade of leaf-crowned trees.
And burns the thirstier in the sandful br?eze.
She no more swept the house,
Tended the fowls or cows,
Fetched honey, kneaded cakes of wheat,
Brought water from the brook:
But sat down listless in the chimney-nook
And would not eat.
Tender Lizzie could not bear
To watch her sister's cankerous care, 300
Yet not to share.
< Juicy fcnstlnc
She night and morning
Caught the goblin's cry:
'Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy: '—
Beside the brook, along the glen,
She heard the tramp of goblin men,
The voice and stir
Poor Laura could not hear;
Longed to buy fruit to comfort her, 310
But feared to pay too dear.
She thought of Jeanie in her grave,
Who should have been a bride;
But who for joys brides hope to have
Fell sick and died
In her gay prime,
In earliest winter time,
With the first glazing rime,
With the first snow-fall of crisp winter time.
Till Laura dwindling 320
But put a silver penny in her purse,
At twilight, halted by the brook:
Laughed every goblin
When they spied her peeping: 330
Came towards her hobbling,
Flying, running, leaping.
Puffing and blowing.
Chuckling, clapping, crowing,
Clucking and gobbling.
Mopping and mowing,1
Full of airs and graces.
Pulling wry faces,
Cat-like and rat-like, 340
Stretched up their dishes, 350
5 Sec The Trmpmt. IV. 1. 47, and note (page 184).