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The Poetical Works of George MacDonald (Parables)

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The croak of a raven hoar!

  A dog's howl, kennel-tied! Loud shuts the carriage-door:

  The two are away on their ghastly ride To Death's salt shore!

Where are the love and the grace?

  The bridegroom is thirsty and cold! The bride's skull sharpens her face!

  But the coachman is driving, jubilant, bold, The devil's pace.

The horses shivered and shook

  Waiting gaunt and haggard With sorry and evil look;

  But swift as a drunken wind they staggered 'Longst Lethe brook.

Long since, they ran no more;

  Heavily pulling they died On the sand of the hopeless shore

  Where never swelled or sank a tide, And the salt burns sore.

Flat their skeletons lie,

  White shadows on shining sand; The crusted reins go high

  To the crumbling coachman's bony hand On his knees awry.

Side by side, jarring no more,

  Day and night side by side, Each by a doorless door,

  Motionless sit the bridegroom and bride On the Dead-Sea-shore.


A brown bird sang on a blossomy tree, Sang in the moonshine, merrily, Three little songs, one, two, and three, A song for his wife, for himself, and me.

He sang for his wife, sang low, sang high, Filling the moonlight that filled the sky; "Thee, thee, I love thee, heart alive! Thee, thee, thee, and thy round eggs five!"

He sang to himself, "What shall I do With this life that thrills me through and through! Glad is so glad that it turns to ache! Out with it, song, or my heart will break!"

He sang to me, "Man, do not fear Though the moon goes down and the dark is near; Listen my song and rest thine eyes; Let the moon go down that the sun may rise!"

I folded me up in the heart of his tune, And fell asleep with the sinking moon; I woke with the day's first golden gleam, And, lo, I had dreamed a precious dream!


Love, the baby,

  Crept abroad to pluck a flower: One said, Yes, sir; one said, Maybe;

  One said, Wait the hour.

Love, the boy,

  Joined the youngsters at their play: But they gave him little joy,

  And he went away.

Love, the youth,

  Roamed the country, quiver-laden; From him fled away in sooth

  Many a man and maiden!

Love, the man,

  Sought a service all about; But they called him feeble, one

  They could do without.

Love, the aged,

  Walking, bowed, the shadeless miles, Read a volume many-paged,

  Full of tears and smiles.

Love, the weary,

  Tottered down the shelving road: At its foot, lo, Night, the starry,

  Meeting him from God!

"Love, the holy,"

  Sang a music in her dome, Sang it softly, sang it slowly,

  "Love is coming home!"

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