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But touched his lute wherein was audible
The certain secret thing he had to tell:
Only our mirrored eyes met silently
In the low wave; and that sound came to be
The passionate voice I knew; and my tears fell.
And at their fall, his eyes beneath grew hers;
And with his foot and with his wing-feathers
He swept the spring that watered my heart's

Then the dark ripples spread to waving hair,
And as I stooped, her own lips rising there
Bubbled with brimming kisses at my mouth.


And now Love sang: but his was such a song.
So meshed with half-remembranee hard to free,
As souls disused in death's sterility
May sing when the new birthday tarries long.
And I was made aware of a dumb throng
That stood aloof, one form by every tree,
All mournful forms, for each was I or she,
The shades of those our days that had no

They looked on us, and knew us and were known;

While fast together, alive from the abyss,
Clung the soul-wrung implacable close kiss;
And pity of self through all made broken moan
Which said, "For once, for once, for once

And still Love sang, and what he sang was this:—


"O ye, all ye that walk in Willowwood,
That walk with hollow faces burning white;
What fathom-depth of soul-struck widowhood,
What long, what longer hours, one life-long

Ere ye again, who so in vain have wooed
Your last hope lost, who so in vain invite
Your lips to that their unforgotten food,
Ere ye, ere ye again shall see the light!
Alas! the bitter banks in Willowwood,
With tear-spurge wan, with blood-wort burning

Alas! if ever such a pillow could
Steep deep the soul in sleep till she were

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;
And her face fell back drowned, and was as

As its gray eyes; and if it ever may
Meet mine again I know not if Love knows.
Only I know that I leaned low and drank
A long draught from the water where she sank.
Her breath and all her tears and all her soul:
And as I leaned, I know I felt Love's face
Pressed on my neck with moan of pity aj.d

Till both our heads were in his aureole.

LXV. Known In Vain

As two whose love, first foolish, widening scope,
Knows suddenly, to music high and soft,
The Holy of holies; who because they scoff'd
Are now amazed with shame, nor dare to cope
With the whole truth aloud, lest heaven should

Yet, at their meetings, laugh not as they laugh'd

In speech; nor speak, at length; but sitting oft
Together, within hopeless sight of hope
For hours are silent:—So it happeneth
When Work and Will awake too late, to gaze
After their life sailed by, and hold their breath.
Ah! who shall dare to search through what sail

Thenceforth their incommunicable ways
Follow the desultory feet of Deathf

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
Till now. Alas, the soul!—how soon must she
Accept her primal immortality,—
The flesh resume its dust whence it began?
O Lord of work and peace! O Lord of life!
O Lord, the awful Lord of will! though late,
Even yet renew this soul with duteous breath:
That when the peace is garnered in from strife.
The work retrieved, the will regenerate,
This soul may Bee thy face, O Lord of death!

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
In sport to send its imaged skies pell-mell,
(And mine own image, had 1 noted well!) —
Was that my point of turning?—I had thought
The stations of my course should rise unsought,
As altar-stone or ensigned citadel,
Hut lo! the path is missed, I must go back,
And thirst to drink when next I reach the

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
In the broad west has blazed for vesper-song;
And I have loitered in the vale too long
And gaze now a belated worshipper.
Yet may I not forget that 1 was 'ware,
So journeying, of his face at intervals
Transfigured where the fringed horizon falls,—
A fiery bush with coruscating hair.
And now that 1 have climbed and won this

I must tread downward through the sloping shade

And travel the bewildered tracks till night.
Yet for this hour 1 still may here be stayed
And see the gold air and the silver fade
And the last bird fly into the last light.

LXXIX. The Monochord*

Is it this sky's vast vault or ocean's sound
That is Life's self and draws my life from me,
And by instinct ineffable decree
Holds my breath quailing on the bitter bound)
Nay, is it Life or Death, thus thunder-crowned,
That 'mid the tide of all emergency
Now notes my separate wave, and to what sea
Its difficult eddies labour in the ground!
Oh! what is this that knows the road I came,
The flame turned cloud, the cloud returned to

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
Upon the devious coverts of dismay?

• A musical Instrument of one strlnc. hence, unity, harmony: here apparently used to symbolize the ultimate morning of separate lives into one Life.



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,

Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,

Swart-headed mulberries, M

Wild free-born cranberries,

Crab-apples, dewberries,

Pine-apples, blackberries,

Apricots, strawberries;—

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,

Bright-fire-like barberries,

Figs to fill your mouth,

Citrons from the South,

Sweet to tongue and sound to eye; 30 Come buy, come buy.'

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* 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
Whose grapes are so luscious;
How warm the wind must blow
Through those fruit bushes.'
'No,' said Lizzie: 'No, no, no;
Their offers should not charm us,
Their evil gifts would harm us.'
She thrust a dimpled finger
In each ear, shut eyes and ran:
Curious Laura chose to linger
Wondering at each merchant man. 70
One had a cat's face,
One whisked a tail,
One tramped at a rat's pace,
One crawled like a snail,
One like a wombat1 prowled obtuse and furry,
One like a ratel2 tumbled hurry skurry.
She heard a voice like voice of doves
Cooing all together:
They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather. so

Laura stretched her gleaming neck
Like a rush-imbedded swan,
Like a lily from the beck,3
Like a moonlit poplar branch,
Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone.

Backwards up the mossy glen
Turned and trooped the goblin men,
With their shrill repeated cry,
'Come buy, come buy.' 90
When they reached where Laura was
They stood stock still upon the moss,

1 An Australian marsupial, nomethlng like a small


2 A hoxiey-badger; a nocturnal animal which feeds

on rats, birds, and honey.

3 brook

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
Of welcome, and the snail-paced even was heard;
One parrot-voiced and jolly
Cried 'Pretty Goblin' still for 'Pretty Polly';
One whistled like a bird.

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
Full of wise upbraidings:
'Dear, you should not stay so late,
Twilight is not good for maidens;
Should not loiter in the glen
In the haunts of goblin men.
Do you not remember Jeanie,

How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice ami many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers 150
Plucked from bowers
Where summer ripens at all houraf
But ever in the moonlight
She pined and pined away;
Sought them by night and day,
Found them no more, but dwindled and grew

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
Fresh on their mother twigs,
Cherries worth getting;
You cannot think what figs
My teeth have met in,
What melons icy-cold
Piled on a dish of gold
Too huge for me to hold,
What peaches with a velvet nap,
Pellucid gTapes without one seed:
Odorous indeed must be the mead 180
Whereon they grow, and pure the wave they

With lilies at the brink,
And sugar-sweet their sap.'

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
Locked together in one nest.

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:
They went with pitchers to the reedy brook;
Lizzie most placid in her look,
Laura most like a leaping flame.
They drew the gurgling water from its deep.
Lizzie plucked purple and rich golden flags, 220
Then turning homeward said: 'The sunset

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
Silent till Lizzie slept;
Then sat up in a passionate yearning,
And gnashed her teeth for baulked desire, and

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
Seemed knocking at Death's door.
Then Lizzie weighed no more
Better and worse;

But put a silver penny in her purse,
Kissed Laura, crossed the heath with clumps of

At twilight, halted by the brook:
And for the first time in her life
Began to listen and look.

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,

Demure grimaces,

Cat-like and rat-like, 340
Ratel- and wombat-like,
Snail-paced in a hurry,
Parrot-voiced and whistler,
Helter skelter, hurry skurry,
Chattering like magpies,
Fluttering like pigeons,
Gliding like fishes-
Hugged her and kissed her:
Squeezed and caressed her:

Stretched up their dishes, 350
Panniers, and plates:
'Look at our apples
Russet and dun,
Bob at our cherries,

5 Sec The Trmpmt. IV. 1. 47, and note (page 184).

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