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The Poetical Works of George MacDonald

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And should the twilight darken into night, And sorrow grow to anguish, be thou strong; Thou art in God, and nothing can go wrong Which a fresh life-pulse cannot set aright. That thou dost know the darkness, proves the light. Weep if thou wilt, but weep not all too long; Or weep and work, for work will lead to song. But search thy heart, if, hid from all thy sight, There lies no cause for beauty's slow decay; If for completeness and diviner youth, And not for very love, thou seek'st the truth; If thou hast learned to give thyself away For love's own self, not for thyself, I say: Were God's love less, the world were lost, in sooth!

SCENE I.--Summer. Julian's room. JULIAN is reading out of a book of poems.

Love me, beloved; the thick clouds lower; A sleepiness filleth the earth and air; The rain has been falling for many an hour; A weary look the summer doth wear: Beautiful things that cannot be so; Loveliness clad in the garments of woe.

Love me, beloved; I hear the birds; The clouds are lighter; I see the blue; The wind in the leaves is like gentle words Quietly passing 'twixt me and you; The evening air will bathe the buds With the soothing coolness of summer floods.

Love me, beloved; for, many a day, Will the mist of the morning pass away; Many a day will the brightness of noon Lead to a night that hath lost her moon; And in joy or in sadness, in autumn or spring, Thy love to my soul is a needful thing.

Love me, beloved; for thou mayest lie Dead in my sight, 'neath the same blue sky; Love me, O love me, and let me know The love that within thee moves to and fro; That many a form of thy love may be Gathered around thy memory.

Love me, beloved; for I may lie Dead in thy sight, 'neath the same blue sky; The more thou hast loved me, the less thy pain, The stronger thy hope till we meet again; And forth on the pathway we do not know, With a load of love, my soul would go.

Love me, beloved; for one must lie Motionless, lifeless, beneath the sky; The pale stiff lips return no kiss To the lips that never brought love amiss; And the dark brown earth be heaped above The head that lay on the bosom of love.

Love me, beloved; for both must lie Under the earth and beneath the sky; The world be the same when we are gone; The leaves and the waters all sound on; The spring come forth, and the wild flowers live, Gifts for the poor man's love to give; The sea, the lordly, the gentle sea, Tell the same tales to others than thee; And joys, that flush with an inward morn, Irradiate hearts that are yet unborn; A youthful race call our earth their own, And gaze on its wonders from thought's high throne; Embraced by fair Nature, the youth will embrace. The maid beside him, his queen of the race; When thou and I shall have passed away Like the foam-flake thou looked'st on yesterday.

Love me, beloved; for both must tread On the threshold of Hades, the house of the dead; Where now but in thinkings strange we roam, We shall live and think, and shall be at home; The sights and the sounds of the spirit land No stranger to us than the white sea-sand, Than the voice of the waves, and the eye of the moon, Than the crowded street in the sunlit noon. I pray thee to love me, belov'd of my heart; If we love not truly, at death we part; And how would it be with our souls to find That love, like a body, was left behind!

Love me, beloved; Hades and Death Shall vanish away like a frosty breath; These hands, that now are at home in thine, Shall clasp thee again, if thou still art mine; And thou shall be mine, my spirit's bride, In the ceaseless flow of eternity's tide, If the truest love that thy heart can know Meet the truest love that from mine can flow. Pray God, beloved, for thee and me, That our souls may be wedded eternally.

[He closes the book, and is silent for some moments.]

Ah me, O Poet! did thy love last out The common life together every hour? The slumber side by side with wondrousness Each night after a day of fog and rain? Did thy love glory o'er the empty purse, And the poor meal sometimes the poet's lot? Is she dead, Poet? Is thy love awake?

Alas! and is it come to this with me? I might have written that! where am I now? Yet let me think: I love less passionately, But not less truly; I would die for her-- A little thing, but all a man can do. O my beloved, where the answering love? Love me, beloved. Whither art thou gone?

* * * * *

SCENE II.--Lilia's room. LILIA.

He grows more moody still, more self-withdrawn. Were it not better that I went away, And left him with the child; for she alone Can bring the sunshine on his cloudy face? Alas, he used to say to me, my child! Some convent would receive me in my land, Where I might weep unseen, unquestioned; And pray that God in whom he seems to dwell, To take me likewise in, beside him there.

Had I not better make one trial first To win again his love to compass me? Might I not kneel, lie down before his feet, And beg and pray for love as for my life? Clasping his knees, look up to that stern heaven, That broods above his eyes, and pray for smiles? What if endurance were my only meed? He would not turn away, but speak forced words, Soothing with kindness me who thirst for love, And giving service where I wanted smiles; Till by degrees all had gone back again To where it was, a slow dull misery. No. 'Tis the best thing I can do for him-- And that I will do--free him from my sight. In love I gave myself away to him; And now in love I take myself again. He will not miss me; I am nothing now.

* * * * *

SCENE III.--Lord Seaford's garden. LILIA; LORD SEAFORD.

Lord S.
How the white roses cluster on the trellis! They look in the dim light as if they floated Within the fluid dusk that bathes them round. One could believe that those far distant tones Of scarce-heard music, rose with the faint scent, Breathed odorous from the heart of the pale flowers, As the low rushing from a river-bed, Or the continuous bubbling of a spring In deep woods, turning over its own joy In its own heart luxuriously, alone. 'Twas on such nights, after such sunny days, The poets of old Greece saw beauteous shapes Sighed forth from out the rooted, earth-fast trees, With likeness undefinable retained In higher human form to their tree-homes, Which fainting let them forth into the air, And lived a life in death till they returned. The large-limbed, sweepy-curved, smooth-rounded beech Gave forth the perfect woman to the night; From the pale birch, breeze-bent and waving, stole The graceful, slight-curved maiden, scarcely grown. The hidden well gave forth its hidden charm, The Naiad with the hair that flowed like streams, And arms that gleamed like moonshine on wet sands. The broad-browed oak, the stately elm, gave forth Their inner life in shapes of ecstasy. All varied, loveliest forms of womanhood Dawned out in twilight, and athwart the grass Half danced with cool and naked feet, half floated Borne on winds dense enough for them to swim. O what a life they lived! in poet's brain-- Not on this earth, alas!--But you are sad; You do not speak, dear lady.


Pardon me.

If such words make me sad, I am to blame.

Lord S.
Ah, no! I spoke of lovely, beauteous things: Beauty and sadness always go together. Nature thought Beauty too golden to go forth Upon the earth without a meet alloy. If Beauty had been born the twin of Gladness, Poets had never needed this dream-life; Each blessed man had but to look beside him, And be more blest. How easily could God Have made our life one consciousness of joy! It is denied us. Beauty flung around Most lavishly, to teach our longing hearts To worship her; then when the soul is full Of lovely shapes, and all sweet sounds that breathe, And colours that bring tears into the eyes-- Steeped until saturated with her essence; And, faint with longing, gasps for some one thing More beautiful than all, containing all, Essential Beauty's self, that it may say: "Thou art my Queen--I dare not think to crown thee, For thou art crowned already, every part, With thy perfection; but I kneel to thee, The utterance of the beauty of the earth, As of the trees the Hamadryades; I worship thee, intense of loveliness! Not sea-born only; sprung from Earth, Air, Ocean, Star-Fire; all elements and forms commingling To give thee birth, to utter each its thought Of beauty held in many forms diverse, In one form, holding all, a living Love, Their far-surpassing child, their chosen queen By virtue of thy dignities combined!"-- And when in some great hour of wild surprise, She floats into his sight; and, rapt, entranced, At last he gazes, as I gaze on thee, And, breathless, his full heart stands still for joy, And his soul thinks not, having lost itself In her, pervaded with her being; strayed Out from his eyes, and gathered round her form, Clothing her with the only beauty yet That could be added, ownness unto him;-- Then falls the stern, cold No with thunder-tone. Think, lady,--the poor unresisting soul Clear-burnished to a crystalline abyss To house in central deep the ideal form; Led then to Beauty, and one glance allowed, From heart of hungry, vacant, waiting shrine, To set it on the Pisgah of desire;-- Then the black rain! low-slanting, sweeping rain! Stormy confusions! far gray distances! And the dim rush of countless years behind!

[He sinks at her feet.]

Yet for this moment, let me worship thee!

Rise, rise, my lord; this cannot be, indeed. I pray you, cease; I will not listen to you. Indeed it must not, cannot, must not be!

[Moving as to go.]

Lord S.
Forgive me, madam. Let me cast myself On your good thoughts. I had been thinking thus, All the bright morning, as I walked alone; And when you came, my thoughts flowed forth in words. It is a weakness with me from my boyhood, That if I act a part in any play, Or follow, merely intellectually, A passion or a motive--ere I know, My being is absorbed, my brain on fire; I am possessed with something not myself, And live and move and speak in foreign forms. Pity my weakness, madam; and forgive My rudeness with your gentleness and truth. That you are beautiful is simple fact; And when I once began to speak my thoughts, The wheels of speech ran on, till they took fire, And in your face flung foolish sparks and dust. I am ashamed; and but for dread of shame, I should be kneeling now to beg forgiveness.

Think nothing more of it, my lord, I pray. --What is this purple flower with the black spot In its deep heart? I never saw it before.

SCENE IV.--Julian's room. The dusk of evening. JULIAN standing with his arms folded, and his eyes fixed on the floor.

I see her as I saw her then. She sat On a low chair, the child upon her knees, Not six months old. Radiant with motherhood, Her full face beamed upon the face below, Bent over it, as with love to ripen love; Till its intensity, like summer heat, Gathered a mist across her heaven of eyes, Which grew until it dropt in large slow tears, The earthly outcome of the heavenly thing! [He walks toward the window, seats himself at a little table, and writes.]

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