O father, come with me! I have found her--mother!
SCENE II.--A room in a cottage. LILIA on her knees before a crucifix. Her back only is seen, for the Poet dares not look on her face. On a chair beside her lies a book, open at CHAPTER VIII. Behind her stands an Angel, bending forward, as if to protect her with his wings partly expanded. Appear JULIAN, with LILY _in his arms. LILY _looks with love on the angel, and a kind of longing fear on her mother.
Angel, thy part is done; leave her to me.
Sorrowful man, to thee I must give place; Thy ministry is stronger far than mine; Yet have I done my part.--She sat with him. He gave her rich white flowers with crimson scent, The tuberose and datura ever burning Their incense to the dusky face of night. He spoke to her pure words of lofty sense, But tinged with poison for a tranced ear. He bade low music sound of faint farewells, Which fixed her eyes upon a leafy picture, Wherein she wandered through an amber twilight Toward a still grave in a sleepy nook. And ever and anon she sipped pale wine, Rose-tinged, rose-odoured, from a silver cup. He sang a song, each pause of which closed up, Like a day-wearied daisy for the night, With these words falling like an echo low: "Love, let us love and weep and faint and die." With the last pause the tears flowed at their will, Without a sob, down from their cloudy skies. He took her hand in his, and it lay still.-- blast of music from a wandering band Billowed the air with sudden storm that moment. The visible rampart of material things Was rent--the vast eternal void looked in Upon her awe-struck soul. She cried and fled.
It was the sealing of her destiny. A wild convulsion shook her inner world; Its lowest depths were heaved tumultuously; Far unknown molten gulfs of being rushed Up into mountain-peaks, rushed up and stood. The soul that led a fairy life, athirst For beauty only, passed into a woman's: In pain and tears was born the child-like need For God, for Truth, and for essential Love. But first she woke to terror; was alone, For God she saw not;--woke up in the night, The great wide night alone. No mother's hand, To soothe her pangs, no father's voice was near. She would not come to thee; for love itself Too keenly stung her sad, repentant heart, Giving her bitter names to give herself; But, calling back old words which thou hadst spoken, In other days, by light winds borne afar, And now returning on the storm of grief, Hither she came to seek her Julian's God. Farewell, strange friend! My care of her is over.
A heart that knows what thou canst never know, Fair angel, blesseth thee, and saith, farewell.
[The Angel goes. JULIAN and LILY take his place. LILIA is praying, and they hear parts of her prayer.]
O Jesus, hear me! Let me speak to thee. No fear oppresses me; for misery Fills my heart up too full for any fear.
Is there no help, O Holy? Am I stained Beyond release?
|Lilia, thy purity|
Maketh thy heart abuse thee. I, thy husband, Sinned more against thee, in believing ill, Than thou, by ten times what thou didst, poor child, Hadst wronged thy husband.
|Pardon will not do:|
I need much more, O Master. That word go Surely thou didst not speak to send away The sinful wife thou wouldst not yet condemn! Or was that crime, though not too great for pardon, Too great for loving-kindness afterward? Might she not too have come behind thy feet, And, weeping, wiped and kissed them, Mary's son, Blessed for ever with a heavenly grief? Ah! she nor I can claim with her who gave Her tears, her hair, her lips, her precious oil, To soothe feet worn with Galilean roads:-- She sinned against herself, not against--Julian.
My Lord, my God, find some excuse for me. Find in thy heart something to say for me, As for the crowd that cried against thee, then, When heaven was dark because thy lamp burned low.
Not thou, but I am guilty, Lilia. I made it possible to tempt thee, child. Thou didst not fall, my love; only, one moment, Beauty was queen, and Truth not lord of all.
O Julian, my husband, is it strange, That, when I think of Him, he looks like thee? That, when he speaks to comfort me, the voice Is like thy voice, my husband, my beloved? Oh! if I could but lie down at thy feet, And tell thee all--yea, every thought--I know That thou wouldst think the best that could be thought, And love and comfort me. O Julian, I am more thine than ever.--Forgive me, husband, For calling me, defiled and outcast, thine. Yet may I not be thine as I am His? Would I might be thy servant--yes, thy slave, To wash thy feet, and dress thy lovely child, And bring her at thy call--more wife than I. But I shall never see thee, till the earth Lies on us both--apart--oh, far apart! How lonely shall I lie the long, long years!
O mother, there are blue skies here, and flowers, And blowing winds, and kisses, mother dear! And every time my father kisses me, It is not father only, but another. Make haste and come. My head never aches here.
Can it be that they are dead? Is it possible? I feel as if they were near me!--Speak again, Beloved voices; comfort me; I need it.
- Come to us
- above the storm Ever shines the blue. Come to us: beyond its form Ever lies the True.
Mother, darling, do not weep-- All I cannot tell:
By and by you'll go to sleep, And you'll wake so well.
There is sunshine everywhere For thy heart and mine: God, for every sin and care, Is the cure divine.
We're so happy all the day, Waiting for another!
All the flowers and sunshine stay, Watching for my mother.
My maiden! for true wife is always maiden To the true husband: thou art mine for ever.
What gentle hopes keep passing to and fro! Thou shadowest me with thine own rest, my God; A cloud from thee stoops down and covers me.
[She falls asleep on her knees]