I struck the board, and cried "No more!--
I will abroad.
What! shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free--free as the road,
Loose as the wind, as large as store.
Shall I be still in suit?
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me blood, and not restore
What I have lost with cordial fruit?
Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did dry it! There was corn
Before my tears did drown it!
Is the year only lost to me?
Have I no bays to crown it?
No flowers, no garlands gay? All blasted?
Not so, my heart; but there is fruit,
And thou hast hands.
Recover all thy sigh-blown age
On double pleasures. Leave thy cold dispute
Of what is fit, and not. Forsake thy cage,
Thy rope of sands,
Which petty thoughts have made--and made to thee
Good cable, to enforce and draw,
And be thy law,
While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.
Away! Take heed--
I will abroad.
Call in thy death's-head there. Tie up thy fears.
He that forbears
To suit and serve his need,
Deserves his load."
But as I raved, and grew more fierce and wild
At every word,
Methought I heard one calling "_Child!_"
And I replied, "_My Lord!_"
Coming now to speak of his art, let me say something first about his use
of homeliest imagery for highest thought. This, I think, is in itself
enough to class him with the highest kind of poets. If my reader will
refer to The Elixir, he will see an instance in the third stanza, "You
may look at the glass, or at the sky:" "You may regard your action only,
or that action as the will of God." Again, let him listen to the pathos
and simplicity of this one stanza, from a poem he calls The Flower. He
has been in trouble; his times have been evil; he has felt a spiritual
old age creeping upon him; but he is once more awake.
And now in age I bud again;
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing. O my only light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night!
Some may dream merrily, but when they wake
They dress themselves and come to thee.
He has an exquisite feeling of lyrical art. Not only does he keep to one
idea in it, but he finishes the poem like a cameo. Here is an instance
wherein he outdoes the elaboration of a Norman trouvère; for not merely
does each line in each stanza end with the same sound as the
corresponding line in every other stanza, but it ends with the very same
word. I shall hardly care to defend this if my reader chooses to call it
a whim; but I do say that a large degree of the peculiar musical effect
of the poem--subservient to the thought, keeping it dimly chiming in the
head until it breaks out clear and triumphant like a silver bell in the
last--is owing to this use of the same column of words at the line-ends
of every stanza. Let him who doubts it, read the poem aloud.