Aylmer's Field Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


Dust are our frames and gilded dust our prideA
Looks only for a moment whole and soundB
Like that long buried body of the kingC
Found lying with his urns and ornamentsD
Which at a touch of light an air of heavenE
Slipt into ashes and was found no moreF
Here is a story which in rougher shapeG
Came from a grizzled cripple whom I sawH
Sunning himself in a waste field aloneI
Old and a mine of memories who had servedJ
Long since a bygone Rector of the placeK
And been himself a part of what he toldL
Sir Aaylmer Aylmer that almighty manM
The county God in whose capacious hallN
Hung with a hundred shields the family treeO
Sprang from the midriff of a prostrate kingC
Whose blazing wyvern weathercock'd the spireP
Stood from his walls and wing'd his entry gatesQ
And swang besides on many a windy signR
Whose eyes from under a pyramidal headS
Saw from his windows nothing save his ownI
What lovelier of his own had he than herT
His only child his Edith whom he lovedU
As heiress and not heir regretfullyO
But 'he that marries her marries her name'V
This fiat somewhat soothed himself and wifeW
His wife a faded beauty of the BathsX
Insipid as the Queen upon a cardY
Her all of thought and bearing hardly moreF
Than his own shadow in a sickly sunE
A land of hops and poppy mingled cornZ
Little about it stirring save a brookA2
A sleepy land where under the same wheelB2
The same old rut would deepen year by yearC2
Where almost all the village had one nameV
Where Aylmer follow'd Aylmer at the HallN
And Averill Averill at the RectoryO
Thrice over so that Rectory and HallN
Bound in an immemorial intimacyO
Were open to each other tho' to dreamV
That Love could bind them closer well had madeD2
The hoar hair of the Baronet bristle upE2
With horror worse than had he heard his priestF2
Preach an inverted scripture sons of menG2
Daughters of God so sleepy was the landH2
And might not Averill had he will'd it soI2
Somewhere beneath his own low range of roofsJ2
Have also set his many shielded treeO
There was an Aylmer Averill marriage onceK2
When the red rose was redder than itselfL2
And York's white rose as red as Lancaster'sK2
With wounded peace which each had prick'd to deathM2
'Not proven' Averill said or laughinglyO
'Some other race of Averills' prov'n or noI2
What cared he what if other or the sameV
He lean'd not on his fathers but himselfL2
But Leolin his brother living oftN2
With Averill and a year or two beforeF
Call'd to the bar but ever call'd awayO2
By one low voice to one dear neighborhoodP2
Would often in his walks with Edith claimV
A distant kinship to the gracious bloodQ2
That shook the heart of Edith hearing himV
Sanguine he was a but less vivid hueR2
Than of that islet in the chestnut bloomV
Flamed his cheek and eager eyes that stillS2
Took joyful note of all things joyful beam'dT2
Beneath a manelike mass of rolling goldL
Their best and brightest when they dwelt on hersK2
Edith whose pensive beauty perfect elseK2
But subject to the season or the moodU2
Shone like a mystic star between the lessK2
And greater glory varying to and froI2
We know not wherefore bounteously madeD2
And yet so finely that a troublous touchV2
Thinn'd or would seem to thin her in a dayO2
A joyous to dilate as toward the lightW2
And these had been together from the firstX2
Leolin's first nurse was five years after hersK2
So much the boy foreran but when his dateY2
Doubled her own for want of playmates heO
Since Averill was a decad and a halfZ2
His elder and their parents undergroundB
Had tost his ball and flown his kite and roll'dL
His hoop to pleasure Edith with her diptL
Against the rush of the air in the prone swingC
Made blossom ball or daisy chain arrangedL
Her garden sow'd her name and kept it greenA3
In living letters told her fairy talesK2
Show'd here the fairy footings on the grassK2
The little dells of cowslip fairy palmsK2
The petty marestail forest fairy pinesK2
Or from the tiny pitted target blewR2
What look'd a flight of fairy arrows aim'dL
All at one mark all hitting make believesK2
For Edith and himself or else he forgedL
But that was later boyish historiesK2
Of battle bold adventure dungeon wreckB3
Flights terrors sudden rescues and true loveC3
Crown'd after trial sketches rude and faintL
But where a passion yet unborn perhapsK2
Lay hidden as the music of the moonD3
Sleeps in the plain eggs of the nightingaleE3
And thus together save for college timesK2
Or Temple eaten terms a couple fairF3
As ever painter painted poet sangG3
Or Heav'n in lavish bounty moulded grewR2
And more and more the maiden woman grownI
He wasted hours with Averill there when firstL
The tented winter field was broken upE2
Into that phalanx of the summer spearsK2
That soon should wear the garland there againG2
When burr and bine were gather'd lastly thereF3
At Christmas ever welcome at the HallN
On whose dull sameness his full tide of youthH3
Broke with a phosphorescence cheering evenI3
My lady and the Baronet yet had laidL
No bar between them dull and self involvedL
Tall and erect but bending from his heightL
With half allowing smiles for all the worldL
And mighty courteous in the main his prideL
Lay deeper than to wear it as his ringC
He like an Aylmer in his AylmerismV
Would care no more for Leolin's walking with herT
Than for his old Newfoundland's when they ranM
To loose him at the stables for he roseK2
Twofooted at the limit of his chainJ3
Roaring to make a third and how should LoveC3
Whom the cross lightnings of four chance met eyesK2
Flash into fiery life from nothing followI2
Such dear familiarities of dawnK3
Seldom but when he does Master of allN
So these young hearts not knowing that they lovedL
Not she at least nor conscious of a barL3
Between them nor by plight or broken ringC
Bound but an immemorial intimacyO
Wander'd at will but oft accompaniedL
By Averill his a brother's love that hungM3
With wings of brooding shelter o'er her peaceK2
Might have been other save for Leolin'sK2
Who knows but so they wander'd hour by hourT
Gather'd the blossom that rebloom'd and drankN3
The magic cup that fill'd itself anewR2
A whisper half reveal'd her to herselfL2
For out beyond her lodges where the brookA2
Vocal with here and there a silence ranM
By sallowy rims arose the laborers' homesK2
A frequent haunt of Edith on low knollsK2
That dimpling died into each other hutsK2
At random scatter'd each a nest in bloomV
Her art her hand her counsel all had wroughtL
About them here was one that summer blanch'dL
Was parcel bearded with the traveller's joyO3
In Autumn parcel ivy clad and hereP3
The warm blue breathings of a hidden hearthQ3
Broke from a bower of vine and honeysuckleR3
One look'd all rosetree and another woreF
A close set robe of jasmine sown with starsK2
This had a rosy sea of gillyflowersK2
About it this a milky way on earthS3
Like visions in the Northern dreamer's heavensK2
A lily avenue climbing to the doorsK2
One almost to the martin haunted eavesK2
A summer burial deep in hollyhocksK2
Each its own charm and Edith's everywhereF3
And Edith ever visitant with himV
He but less loved than Edith of her poorT3
For she so lowly lovely and so lovingC
Queenly responsive when the loyal handL
Rose from the clay it work'd in as she pastL
Not sowing hedgerow texts and passing byU3
Nor dealing goodly counsel from a heightL
That makes the lowest hate it but a voiceK2
Of comfort and an open hand of helpV3
A splendid presence flattering the poor roofsK2
Revered as theirs but kindlier than themselvesK2
To ailing wife or wailing infancyK2
Or old bedridden palsy was adoredL
He loved for her and for himself A graspW3
Having the warmth and muscle of the heartL
A childly way with children and a laughZ2
Ringing like proved golden coinage trueR2
Were no false passport to that easy realmV
Where once with Leolin at her side the girlX3
Nursing a child and turning to the warmthY3
The tender pink five beaded baby solesK2
Heard the good mother softly whisper 'BlessK2
God bless 'em marriages are made in Heaven '-
A flash of semi jealousy clear'd it to herT
My Lady's Indian kinsman unannouncedL
With half a score of swarthy faces cameV
His own tho' keen and bold and soldierlyX3
Sear'd by the close ecliptic was not fairF3
Fairer his talk a tongue that ruled the hourT
Tho' seeming boastful so when first he dash'dL
Into the chronicle of a deedful dayL
Sir Aylmer half forgot his lazy smileX3
Of patron 'Good my lady's kinsman good '-
My lady with her fingers interlock'dL
And rotatory thumbs on silken kneesK2
Call'd all her vital spirits into each earP3
To listen unawares they flitted offZ3
Busying themselves about the flowerageO3
That stood from our a stiff brocade in whichA4
The meteor of a splendid season sheK2
Once with this kinsman ah so long agoI2
Stept thro' the stately minuet of those daysK2
But Edith's eager fancy hurried with himV
Snatch'd thro' the perilous passes of his lifeW
Till Leolin ever watchful of her eyeU3
Hated him with a momentary hateL
Wife hunting as the rumor ran was heK2
I know not for he spoke not only shower'dL
His oriental gifts on everyoneE
And most on Edith like a storm he cameV
And shook the house and like a storm he wentL
Among the gifts he left her possiblyK2
He flow'd and ebb'd uncertain to returnB4
When others had been tested there was oneE
A dagger in rich sheath with jewels on itL
Sprinkled about in gold that branch'd itselfL2
Fine as ice ferns on January panesK2
Made by a breath I know not whence at firstL
Nor of what race the work but as he toldL
The story storming a hill fort of thievesK2
He got it for their captain after fightL
His comrades having fought their last belowI2
Was climbing up the valley at whom he shotL
Down from the beetling crag to which he clungM3
Tumbled the tawny rascal at his feetL
This dagger with him which when now admiredL
By Edith whom his pleasure was to pleaseK2
At once the costly Sahib yielded it to herT
And Leolin coming after he was goneK3
Tost over all her presents petulantlyI2
And when she show'd the wealthy scabbard sayingC
'Look what a lovely piece of workmanship '-
Slight was his answer 'Well I care not for it '-
Then playing with the blade he prick'd his handL
'A gracious gift to give a lady this '-
'But would it be more gracious' ask'd the girlI2
'Were I to give this gift of his to oneE
That is no lady ''Gracious No' said heK2
'Me but I cared not for it O pardon meK2
I seem to be ungraciousness itself '-
'Take it' she added sweetly 'tho' his giftL
For I am more ungracious ev'n than youR2
I care not for it either ' and he saidL
'Why then I love it ' but Sir Aylmer pastL
And neither loved nor liked the thing he heardL
The next day came a neighbor Blues and redsK2
They talk'd of blues were sure of it he thoughtL
Then of the latest fox where started kill'dL
In such a bottom 'Peter had the brushC4
My Peter first ' and did Sir Aylmer knowI2
That great pock pitten fellow had been caughtL
Then made his pleasure echo hand to handL
And rolling as it were the substance of itL
Between his palms a moment up and downD4
'The birds were warm the birds were warm upon himV
We have him now ' and had Sir Aylmer heardL
Nay but he must the land was ringing of itL
This blacksmith border marriage one they knewR2
Raw from the nursery who could trust a childL
That cursed France with her egalitiesK2
And did Sir Aylmer deferentiallyI2
With nearing chair and lower'd accent thinkE4
For people talk'd that it was wholly wiseK2
To let that handsome fellow Averill walkF4
So freely with his daughter people talk'dL
The boy might get a notion into himV
The girl might be entangled ere she knewR2
Sir Aylmer Aylmer slowly stiffening spokeG4
'The girl and boy Sir know their differences '-
'Good' said his friend 'but watch ' and he 'enoughL2
More than enough Sir I can guard my own '-
They parted and Sir Aylmer Aylmer watch'dL
Pale for on her the thunders of the houseK2
Had fallen first was Edith that same nightL
Pale as the Jeptha's daughter a rough pieceK2
Of early rigid color under whichA4
Withdrawing by the counter door to thatL
Which Leolin open'd she cast back upon himV
A piteous glance and vanish'd He as oneE
Caught in a burst of unexpected stormV
And pelted with outrageous epithetsK2
Turning beheld the Powers of the HouseK2
On either side the hearth indignant herT
Cooling her false cheek with a featherfanE
Him glaring by his own stale devil spurr'dL
And like a beast hard ridden breathing hardL
'Ungenerous dishonorable baseK2
Presumptuous trusted as he was with herT
The sole succeeder to their wealth their landsK2
The last remaining pillar of their houseK2
The one transmitter of their ancient nameV
Their child ' 'Our child ' 'Our heiress ' 'Ours ' for stillI2
Like echoes from beyond a hollow cameV
Her sicklier iteration Last he saidL
'Boy mark me for your fortunes are to makeH4
I swear you shall not make them out of mineE
Now inasmuch as you have practised on herT
Perplext her made her half forget herselfL2
Swerve from her duty to herself and usK2
Things in an Aylmer deem'd impossibleI2
Far as we track ourselves I say that thisK2
Else I withdraw favor and countenanceK2
From you and yours for ever shall you doR2
Sir when you see her but you shall not see herT
No you shall write and not to her but meK2
And you shall say that having spoken with meK2
And after look'd into yourself you findL
That you meant nothing as indeed you knowE
That you meant nothing Such as match as thisK2
Impossible prodigious 'These were wordsK2
As meted by his measure of himselfL2
Arguing boundless forbearance after whichA4
And Leolin's horror stricken answer 'II4
So foul a traitor to myself and herT
Never oh never ' for about as longJ4
As the wind hover hangs in the balance pausedL
Sir Aylmer reddening from the storm withinE
Then broke all bonds of courtesy and cryingC
'Boy should I find you by my doors againE
My men shall lash you from the like a dogK4
Hence ' with a sudden execration droveL2
The footstool from before him and aroseK2
So stammering 'scoundrel' out of teeth that groundL
As in a dreadful dream while Leolin stillI2
Retreated half aghast the fierce old manE
Follow'd and under his own lintel stoodL
Storming with lifted hands a hoary faceK2
Meet for the reverence of the hearth but nowE
Beneath a pale and unimpassion'd moonE
Vext with unworthy madness and deform'dL
Slowly and conscious of the rageful eyeU3
That watch'd him till he heard the ponderous doorF
Close crashing with long echoes thro' the landL
Went Leolin then his passions all in floodL
And masters of his motion furiouslyK2
Down thro' the bright lawns to his brother's ranE
And foam'd away his heart at Averill's earP3
Whom Averill solaced as he might amazedL
The man was his had been his father's friendL
He must have seen himself had seen it longJ4
He must have known himself had known besidesK2
He never yet had set his daughter forthL4
Here in the woman markets of the westL
Where our Caucasians let themselves be soldL
Some one he thought had slander'd Leolin to himV
'Brother for I have loved you more as a sonE
Than brother let me tell you I myselfL2
What is their pretty saying jilted is itL
Jilted I was I say it for your peaceK2
Pain'd and as bearing in myself the shameV
The woman should have borne humiliatedL
I lived for years a stunted sunless lifeL2
Till after our good parents past awayL
Watching your growth I seem'd again to growE
Leolin I almost sin in envying youR2
The very whitest lamb in all my foldL
Loves you I know her the worst thought she hasK2
Is whiter even than her pretty handL
She must prove true for brother where two fightL
The strongest wins and truth and love are strengthM4
And you are happy let her parents be '-
But Leolin cried out the more upon themV
Insolent brainless heartless heiress wealthN4
Their wealth their heiress wealth enough was theirsK2
For twenty matches Were he lord of thisK2
Why twenty boys and girls should marry on itL
And forty blest ones bless him and himselfL2
Be wealthy still ay wealthier He believedL
This filthy marriage hindering Mammon madeL
The harlot of the cities nature crostL
Was mother of the foul adulteriesK2
That saturate soul with body Name too nameV
Their ancient name they might be proud its worthS3
Was being Edith's Ah how pale she had look'dL
Darling to night they must have rated herT
Beyond all tolerance These old pheasant lordsK2
These partridge breeders of a thousand yearsK2
Who had mildew'd in their thousands doing nothingC
Since Egbert why the greater their disgraceK2
Fall back upon a name rest rot in thatL
Not keep it noble make it nobler foolsK2
With such a vantage ground for noblenessK2
He had known a man a quintessence of manE
The life of all who madly loved and heK2
Thwarted by one of these old father foolsK2
Had rioted his life out and made an endL
He would not do it her sweet face and faithO4
Held him from that but he had powers he knew itL
Back would he to his studies make a nameV
Name fortune too the world should ring of himV
To shame these mouldy Aylmers in their gravesK2
Chancellor or what is greatest would he beK2
'O brother I am grieved to learn your griefL2
Give me my fling and let me say my say '-
At which like one that sees his own excessK2
And easily forgives it as his ownE
He laugh'd and then was mute but presentlyK2
Wept like a storm and honest Averill seeingC
How low his brother's mood had fallen fetch'dL
His richest beeswing from a binn reservedL
For banquets praised the waning red and toldL
The vintage when this Aylmer came of ageO3
Then drank and past it till at length the twoR2
Tho' Leolin flamed and fell again agreedL
That much allowance must be made for menE
After an angry dream this kindlier glowE
Faded with morning but his purpose heldL
Yet once by night again the lovers metL
A perilous meeting under the tall pinesK2
That darken'd all the northward of her HallI2
Him to her meek and modest bosom prestL
In agony she promised that no forceK2
Persuasion no nor death could alter herT
He passionately hopefuller would goE
Labor for his own Edith and returnE
In such a sunlight of prosperityK2
He should not be rejected 'Write to meK2
They loved me and because I love their childL
They hate me there is war between us dearC2
Which breaks all bonds but ours we must remainE
Sacred to one another 'So they talk'dL
Poor children for their comfort the wind blewR2
The rain of heaven and their own bitter tearsK2
Tears and the careless rain of heaven mixtL
Upon their faces as they kiss'd each otherT
In darkness and above them roar'd the pineE
So Leolin went and as we task ourselvesK2
To learn a language known but smatteringlyR2
In phrases here and there at random toil'dL
Mastering the lawless science of our lawR2
That codeless myriad of precedentL
That wilderness of single instancesK2
Thro' which a few by wit or fortune ledL
May beat a pathway out to wealth and fameV
The jests that flash'd about the pleader's roomV
Lightning of the hour the pun the scurrilous taleR2
Old scandals buried now seven decads deepP4
In other scandals that have lived and diedL
And left the living scandal that shall dieL
Were dead to him already bent as he wasK2
To make disproof of scorn and strong in hopesK2
And prodigal of all brain labor heK2
Charier of sleep and wine and exerciseK2
Except when for a breathing while at eveL2
Some niggard fraction of an hour he ranE
Beside the river bank and then indeedL
Harder the times were and the hands of powerT
Were bloodier and the according hearts of menE
Seem'd harder too but the soft river breezeK2
Which fann'd the gardens of that rival roseK2
Yet fragrant in a heart rememberingC
His former talks with Edith on him breathedL
Far purelier in his rushings to and froE
After his books to flush his blood with airF3
Then to his books again My lady's cousinE
Half sickening of his pension'd afternoonE
Drove in upon the student once or twiceK2
Ran a Malayan muck against the timesK2
Had golden hopes for France and all mankindL
Answer'd all queries touching those at homeV
With a heaved shoulder and a saucy smileR2
And fain had haled him out into the worldL
And air'd him there his nearer friend would sayK2
'Screw not the chord too sharply lest it snap '-
Then left alone he pluck'd her dagger forthL4
From where his worldless heart had kept it warmV
Kissing his vows upon it like a knightL
And wrinkled benchers often talk'd of himV
Approvingly and prophesied his riseK2
For heart I think help'd head her letters tooL
Tho' far between and coming fitfullyK2
Like broken music written as she foundL
Or made occasion being strictly watch'dL
Charm'd him thro' every labyrinth till he sawR2
An end a hope a light breaking upon himV
But they that cast her spirit into fleshQ4
Her worldy wise begetters plagued themselvesK2
To sell her those good parents for her goodL
Whatever eldest born of rank or wealthN4
Might lie within their compass him they luredL
Into their net made pleasant by the baitsK2
Of gold and beauty wooing him to wooL
So month by month the noise about their doorsK2
And distant blaze of those dull banquets madeL
The nightly wirer of their innocent hareF3
Falter before he took it All in vainE
Sullen defiant pitying wroth return'dL
Leolin's rejected rivals from their suitL
So often that the folly taking wingsK2
Slipt o'er those lazy limits down the windL
With rumor and became in other fieldsK2
A mockery to the yeomen over aleR2
And laughter to their lords but those at homeV
As hunters round a hunted creature drawR2
The cordon close and closer toward the deathM2
Narrow'd her goings out and comings inE
Forbad her first the house of AverillR2
Then closed her access to the wealthiest farmsK2
Last from her own home circle of the poorT3
They barr'd her yet she bore it yet her cheekR4
Kept color wondrous but O mysteryK2
What amulet drew her down to that old oakG4
So old that twenty years before a partL
Falling had let appear the brand of JohnE
Once grovelike each huge arm a tree but nowE
The broken base of a black tower a caveL2
Of touchwood with a single flourishing sprayK2
There the manorial lord too curiouslyK2
Raking in that millenial touchwood dustL
Found for himself a bitter treasure troveL2
Burst his own wyvern on the seal and readL
Writhing a letter from his child for whichA4
Came at the moment Leolin's emissaryK2
A crippled lad and coming turn'd to flyL
But scared with threats of jail and halter gaveL2
To him that fluster'd his poor parish witsK2
The letter which he brought and swore besidesK2
To play their go between as heretoforeF
Nor let them know themselves betray'd and thenE
Soul stricken at their kindness to him wentL
Hating his own lean heart and miserableR2
Thenceforward oft from out a despot dreamV
Panting he woke and oft as early as dawnE
Aroused the black republic on his elmsK2
Sweeping the frothfly from the fescue brush'dL
Thro' the dim meadow toward his treasure troveL2
Seized it took home and to my lady who madeL
A downward crescent of her minion mouthS4
Listless in all despondence read and toreF
As if the living passion symbol'd thereF3
Were living nerves to feel the rent and burntL
Now chafing at his own great self defiedL
Now striking on huge stumbling blocks of scornE
In babyisms and dear diminutivesK2
Scatter'd all over the vocabularyK2
Of such a love as like a chidden babeT4
After much wailing hush'd itself at lastL
Hopeless of answer then tho' Averill wroteL
And bad him with good heart sustain himselfL2
All would be well the lover heeded notL
But passionately restless came and wentL
And rustling once at night about the placeK2
There by a keeper shot at slightly hurtL
Raging return'd nor was it well for herT
Kept to the garden now and grove of pinesK2
Watch'd even there and one was set to watchU4
The watcher and Sir Aylmer watch'd them allR2
Yet bitterer from his readings once indeedL
Warm'd with his wines or taking pride in herT
She look'd so sweet he kiss'd her tenderlyK2
Not knowing what possess'd him that one kissK2
Was Leolin's one strong rival upon earthS3
Seconded for my lady follow'd suitL
Seem'd hope's returning rose and then ensuedL
A Martin's summer of his faded loveL2
Or ordeal by kindness after thisK2
He seldom crost his child without a sneerC2
The mother flow'd in shallower acrimoniesK2
Never one kindly smile one kindly wordL
So that the gentle creature shut from allR2
Her charitable use and face to faceK2
With twenty months of silence slowly lostL
Nor greatly cared to lose her hold on lifeL2
Last some low fever ranging round to spyL
The weakness of a people or a houseK2
Like flies that haunt a wound or deer or menE
Or almost all that is hurting the hurtL
Save Christ as we believe him found the girlR2
And flung her down upon a couch of fireT
Where careless of the household faces nearC2
And crying upon the name of LeolinE
She and with her the race of Aylmer pastL
Star to star vibrates light may soul to soulR2
Strike thro' a finer element of her ownE
So from afar touch as at once or whyL
That night that moment when she named his nameV
Did the keen shriek 'yes love yes Edith yes '-
Shrill till the comrade of his chambers wokeG4
And came upon him half arisen from sleepP4
With a weird bright eye sweating and tremblingC
His hair as it were crackling into flamesK2
His body half flung forward in pursuitL
And his long arms stretch'd as to grasp a flyerT
Nor knew he wherefore he had made the cryL
And being much befool'd and idiotedL
By the rough amity of the other sankN3
As into sleep again The second dayL
My lady's Indian kinsman rushing inE
A breaker of the bitter news from homeV
Found a dead man a letter edged with deathM2
Beside him and the dagger which himselfL2
Gave Edith reddn'd with no bandit's bloodL
'From Edith' was engraven on the bladeL
Then Averill went and gazed upon his deathM2
And when he came again his flock believedL
Beholding how the years which are not Time'sK2
Had blasted him that many thousand daysK2
Were clipt by horror from his term of lifeL2
Yet the sad mother for the second deathM2
Scarce touch'd her thro' that nearness of the firstL
And being used to find her pastor textsK2
Sent to the harrow'd brother praying himV
To speak before the people of her childL
And fixt the Sabbath Darkly that day roseK2
Autumn's mock sunshine of the faded woodsK2
Was all the life of it for hard on theseK2
A breathless burthen of low folded heavensK2
Stifled and chill'd at once but every roofL2
Sent out a listener many too had knownE
Edith among the hamlets round and sinceK2
The parents' harshness and the hapless lovesK2
And double death were widely murmur'd leftL
Their own gray tower or plain faced tabernacleR2
To hear him all in mourning these and thoseK2
With blots of it about them ribbon gloveL2
Or kerchief while the church one night exceptL
For greenish glimmerings thro' the lancets madeL
Still paler the pale head of him who tower'dL
Above them with his hopes in either graveL2
Long o'er his bent brows linger'd AverillR2
His face magnetic to the hand from whichA4
Livid he pluck'd it forth and labor'd thro'L
His brief prayer prelude gave the verse 'BeholdL
Your house is left unto you desolate '-
But lapsed into so long a pause againE
As half amazed half frighted all his flockV4
Then from his height and loneliness of griefL2
Bore down in flood and dash'd his angry heartL
Against the desolations of the worldL
Never since our bad earth became one seaK2
Which rolling o'er the palaces of the proudL
And all but those who knew the living GodL
Eight that were left to make a purer worldL
When since had flood fire earthquake thunder wroughtL
Such waste and havoc as the idolatriesK2
Which from the low light of mortalityK2
Shot up their shadows to the Heaven of HeavensK2
And worshipt their own darkness as the HighestL
'Gash thyself priest and honor thy brute BaalR2
And to thy worst self sacrifice thyselfL2
For with thy worst self hast thou clothed thy God '-
Then came a Lord in no wise like to BaalR2
The babe shall lead the lion Surely nowE
The wilderness shall blossom as the roseK2
Crown thyself worm and worship thine own lustsK2
No coarse and blockish God of acreageO3
Stands at thy gate for thee to grovel toL
Thy God is far diffused in noble grovesK2
And princely halls and farms and flowing lawnsK2
And heaps of living gold that daily growL
And title scrolls and gorgeous heraldriesK2
In such a shape dost thou behold thy GodL
Thou wilt not gash thy flesh for him for thineE
Fares richly in fine linen not a hairL
Ruffled upon the scarfskin even whileR2
The deathless ruler of thy dying houseK2
Is wounded to the death that cannot dieL
And tho' thou numberest with the followersK2
Of One who cried 'leave all and follow me '-
Thee therefore with His light about thy feetL
Thee with His message ringing in thine earsK2
Thee shall thy brother man the Lord from HeavenE
Born of a village girl carpenter's sonE
Wonderful Prince of peace the Mighty GodL
Count the more base idolater of the twoL
Crueller as not passing thro' the fireL
Bodies but souls thy children's thro' the smokeG4
The blight of low desires darkening thine ownE
To thine own likeness or if one of theseK2
Thy better born unhappily from theeK2
Should as by miracle grow straight and fairL
Friends I was bid to speak of such a oneE
By those who most have cause to sorrow for herL
Fairer than Rachel by the palmy wellR2
Fairer than Ruth among the fields of cornE
Fair as the Angel that said 'hail' she seem'dL
Who entering fill'd the house with sudden lightL
For so mine own was brighten'd where indeedL
The roof so lowly but that beam of HeavenE
Dawn'd sometime thro' the doorway whose the babeT4
Too ragged to be fondled on her lapW4
Warm'd at her bosom The poor child of shameV
The common care whom no one cared for leaptL
To greet her wasting his forgotten heartL
As with the mother he had never knownE
In gambols for her fresh and innocent eyesK2
Had such a star of morning in their blueL
That all neglected places of the fieldL
Broke into nature's music when they saw herL
Low was her voice but won mysterious wayL
Thro' the seal'd ear to which a louder oneE
Was all but silence free of alms her handL
The hand that robed your cottage walls with flowersK2
Has often toil'd to clothe your little onesK2
How often placed upon the sick man's browE
Cool'd it or laid his feverous pillow smoothX4
Had you one sorrow and she shared it notL
One burthen and she would not lighten itL
One spiritual doubt she did not sootheX4
Or when some heat of difference sparkled outL
How sweetly would she glide between your wrathsK2
And steal you from each other for she walk'dL
Wearing the light yoke of that Lord of loveL2
Who still'd the rolling wave of GalileeK2
And one of him I was not bid to speakR4
Was always with her whom you also knewL
Him too you loved for he was worthy loveL2
And these had been together from the firstL
They might have been together till the lastL
Friends this frail bark of ours when sorely triedL
May wreck itself without the pilot's guiltL
Without the captain's knowledge hope with meK2
Whose shame is that if he went hence with shameV
Nor mine the fault if losing both of theseK2
I cry to vacant chairs and widow'd wallsK2
My house is left unto me desolateL
While thus he spoke his hearers wept but someV
Sons of the glebe with other frowns than thoseK2
That knit themselves for summer shadow scowl'dL
At their great lord He when it seem'd he sawK2
No pale sheet lightnings from afar but fork'dL
Of the near storm and aiming at his headL
Sat anger charm'd from sorrow soldierlikeR4
Erect but when the preacher's cadence flow'dL
Softening thro' all the gentle attributesK2
Of his lost child the wife who watch'd his faceK2
Paled at a sudden twitch of his iron mouthS4
And 'O pray God that he hold up' she thoughtL
'Or surely I shall shame myself and him '-
'Nor yours the blame for who beside your hearthsK2
Can take her place if echoing me you cryL
Our house is left unto us desolateL
But thou O thou that killest hadst thou knownE
O thou that stonest hadst thou understoodL
The things belonging to thy peace and oursK2
Is there no prophet but the voice that callsK2
Doom upon kings or in the waste 'Repent'L
Is not our own child on the narrow wayL
Who down to those that saunter in the broadL
Cries 'come up hither ' as a prophet to usK2
Is there no stoning save with flint and rockR4
Yes as the dead we weep for testifyL
No desolation but by sword and fireL
Yes as your moanings witness and myselfL2
Am lonelier darker earthlier for my lossK2
Give me your prayers for he is past your prayersK2
Not past the living fount of pity in HeavenE
But I that thought myself long suffering meekR4
Exceeding poor in spirit how the wordsK2
Have twisted back upon themselves and meanE
Vileness we are grown so proud I wish'd my voiceK2
A rushing tempest of the wrath of GodL
To blow these sacrifices thro' the worldL
Sent like the twelve divided concubineE
To inflame the tribes but there out yonder earthS3
Lightens from her own central Hell O thereL
The red fruit of an old idolatryK2
The heads of chiefs and princes fall so fastL
They cling together in the ghastly sackR4
The land all shambles naked marriagesK2
Flash from the bridge and ever murder'd FranceK2
By shores that darken with the gathering wolfL2
Runs in a river of blood to the sick seaK2
Is this a time to madden madness thenE
Was this a time for these to flaunt their prideL
May Pharaoh's darkness folds as dense as thoseK2
Which hid the Holiest from the people's eyesK2
Ere the great death shroud this great sin from allR2
Doubtless our narrow world must canvass itL
O rather pray for those and pity themV
Who thro' their own desire accomplish'd bringR4
Their own gray hairs with sorrow to the graveL2
Who broke the bond which they desired to breakR4
Which else had link'd their race with times to comeV
Who wove coarse webs to snare her purityK2
Grossly contriving their dear daughter's goodL
Poor souls and knew not what they did but satL
Ignorant devising their own daughter's deathM2
May not that earthly chastisement sufficeK2
Have not our love and reverence left them bareL
Will not another take their heritageO3
Will there be children's laughter in their hallR2
For ever and for ever or one stoneE
Left on another or is it a light thingR4
That I their guest their host their ancient friendL
I made by these the last of all my raceK2
Must cry to these the last of theirs as criedL
Christ ere His agony to those that sworeL
Not by the temple but the gold and madeL
Their own traditions God and slew the LordL
And left their memories a world's curse BeholdL
Your house is left unto you desolate '-
Ended he had not but she brook'd no moreL
Long since her heart had beat remorselesslyR2
Her crampt up sorrow pain'd her and a senseK2
Of meanness in her unresisting lifeL2
Then their eyes vext her for on enteringR4
He had cast the curtains of their seat asideL
Black velvet of the costliest she herselfL2
Had seen to that fain had she closed them nowE
Yet dared not stir to do it only near'dL
Her husband inch by inch but when she laidL
Wifelike her hand in one of his he veil'dL
His face with the other and at once as fallsK2
A creeper when the prop is broken fellR2
The woman shrieking at his feet and swoon'dL
Then her own people bore along the naveL2
Her pendent hands and narrow meagre faceK2
Seam'd with the shallow cares of fifty yearsK2
And here the Lord of all the landscape roundL
Ev'n to its last horizon and of allR2
Who peer'd at him so keenly follow'd outL
Tall and erect but in the middle aisleR2
Reel'd as a footsore ox in crowded waysK2
Stumbling across the market to his deathM2
Unpitied for he groped as blind and seem'dL
Always about to fall grasping the pewsK2
And oaken finials till he touch'd the doorL
Yet to the lychgate where his chariot stoodL
Strode from the porch tall and erect againE
But nevermore did either pass the gateL
Save under pall with bearers In one monthY4
Thro' weary and yet wearier hoursK2
The childless mother went to seek her childL
And when he felt the silence of his houseK2
About him and the change and not the changeO3
And those fixt eyes of painted ancestorsK2
Staring for ever from their gilded wallsK2
On him their last descendant his own headL
Began to droop to fall the man becameV
Imbecile his one word was 'desolate'L
Dead for two years before his death was heK2
But when the second Christmas came escapedL
His keepers and the silence which he feltL
To find a deeper in the narrow gloomV
By wife and child nor wanted at his endL
The dark retinue reverencing deathM2
At golden thresholds nor from tender heartsK2
And those who sorrow'd o'er a vanish'd raceK2
Pity the violet on the tyrant's graveL2
Then the great Hall was wholly broken downE
And the broad woodland parcell'd into farmsK2
And where the two contrived their daughter's goodL
Lies the hawk's cast the mole has made his runE
The hedgehog underneath the plaintain boresK2
The rabbit fondles his own harmless faceK2
The slow worm creeps and the thin weasel thereL
Follows the mouse and all is open fieldL

Alfred Lord Tennyson


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