THE sun was
streaming in I woke, and said,
'Where is my wife—that has been made my wife
Only this year?' The casement stood ajar:
I did but lift my head: The pear-tree dropped,
The great white pear-tree dropped with dew from
And blossom, under heavens of happy blue.
My wife had wakened first, and had gone down
Into the orchard. All the air was calm;
Audible humming filled it. At the roots
Of peony bushes lay in rose-red heaps,
Or snowy, fallen bloom. The crag-like hills
Were tossing down their silver messengers,
And two brown foreigners, called cuckoo-birds,
Gave them good answer! all things else were mute;
An idle world lay listening to their talk,
They had it to themselves.
What ails my wife?
I know not if aught ails her; though her step
Tell of a conscious quiet, lest I wake.
She moves atween the almond boughs, and bends
One thick with bloom to look on it. 'O love!
A little while thou hast withdrawn thyself,
At unaware to think thy thoughts alone:
How sweet, and yet pathetic to my heart
The reason. Ah! thou art no more thine own.
Mine, mine, O love! Tears gather 'neath my lids,—
Sorrowful tears for thy lost liberty,
Because it was so sweet. Thy liberty,
That yet, O love, thou wouldst not have again.
No all is right. But who can give, or bless,
Or take a blessing, but there comes withal
She walks beside the lily bed,
And holds apart her gown; she would not hurt
The leaf-enfolded buds, that have not looked
Yet on the daylight. O, thy locks are brown,—
Fairest of colours!—and a darker brown
The beautiful, dear, veilèd, modest
A bloom as of blush roses covers her
Forehead, and throat, and cheek. Health breathes
And graceful vigour. Fair and wondrous soul!
To think that thou art mine!
My wife came in,
And moved into the chamber. As for me,
I heard, but lay as one that nothing hears,
And feigned to be asleep.
The racing river leaped, and sang
Full blithely in the perfect weather,
All round the mountain echoes rang,
For blue and green were glad together.
This rained out light from every part,
And that with songs of joy was thrilling;
But, in the hollow of my heart,
There ached a place that wanted filling.
Before the road and river meet,
And stepping-stones are wet and glisten,
I heard a sound of laughter sweet,
And paused to like it, and to listen.
I heard the chanting waters flow,
The cushat's note, the bee's low
Then turned the hedge, and did not know—
How could I?—that my time was
A girl upon the nighest stone,
Half doubtful of the deed, was standing,
So far the shallow flood had flown
Beyond the 'customed leap of landing.
She knew not any need of me,
Yet me she waited all unwitting;
We thought not I had crossed the sea,
And half the sphere to give her meeting.
I waded out, her eyes I met,
I wished the moments had been hours;
I took her in my arms, and set
Her dainty feet among the flowers.
Her fellow maids in copse and lane,
Ah! still, methinks, I hear them calling;
The wind's soft whisper in the plain,
The cushat's coo, the water's falling.
But now it is a year ago,
But now possession crowns endeavour;
I took her in my heart, to grow
And fill the hollow place for ever.
O THAT word REGRET!
There have been nights and morns when we have
'Let us alone, Regret! We are content
To throw thee all our past, so thou wilt sleep
For aye.' But it is patient, and it wakes;
It hath not learned to cry itself to sleep,
But plaineth on the bed that it is hard.
We did amiss when we did wish it gone
And over: sorrows humanise our race;
Tears are the showers that fertilise this world;
And memory of things precious keepeth warm
The heart that once did hold them.
They are poor
That have lost nothing; they are poorer far
Who, losing, have forgotten; they most poor
Of all, who lose and wish they MIGHT forget.
For life is one, and in its warp and woof
There runs a thread of gold that glitters fair,
And sometimes in the pattern shows most sweet
Where there are sombre colours. It is true
That we have wept. But oh! this thread of gold,
We would not have it tarnish; let us turn
Oft and look back upon the wondrous web,
And when it shineth sometimes we shall know
That memory is possession.
When I remember something which I had,
But which is gone, and I must do without,
I sometimes wonder how I can be glad,
Even in cowslip time when hedges sprout;
It makes me sigh to think on it,—but yet
My days will not be better days, should I forget.
When I remember something promised me,
But which I never had, nor can have now,
Because the promiser we no more see
In countries that accord with mortal vow;
When I remember this, I mourn,—but yet
My happier days are not the days when I forget.
I READ upon that book,
Which down the golden gulf doth let us look
On the sweet days of pastoral majesty; I read upon that book How, when the Shepherd Prince did flee (Red Esau's twin), he desolate took
The stone for a pillow: then he fell on sleep.
And lo! there was a ladder. Lo! there hung
A ladder from the star-place, and it clung
To the earth: it tied her so to heaven; and oh! There fluttered wings;
Then were ascending and descending things That stepped to him where he lay low;
Then up the ladder would a-drifting go
(This feathered brood of heaven), and show
Small as white flakes in that are blown
Together, underneath the great white throne.
When I had shut the book, I said,
'Now, as for me, my dreams upon my bed Are not like Jacob's dream;
Yet I have got it in my life; yes, I,
And many more: it doth not us beseem, Therefore, to sigh.
Is there not hung a ladder in our sky?
Yea; and, moreover, all the way up on high
Is thickly peopled with the prayers of men. We have no dream! What then?
Like wingèd wayfarers the height
(By Him that offers them they shall prevail)― The prayers of men.
But where is found a prayer for me; How should I pray?
My heart is sick, and full of strife.
I heard one whisper with departing breath,
"Suffer us not, for any pains of death, To fall from Thee."
But O, the pains of life! the pains of life!
There is no comfort now, and nought
to win, But yet—I will begin.'
'Preserve to me my wealth,' I do not say, For that is wasted away;
And much of it was cankered ere it went.
'Preserve to me my health,' I cannot say, For that, upon a day,
Went after other delights to banishment.
What can I pray? 'Give me forgetfulness?'
No, I would still possess
Past away smiles, though present fronts be stern,
'Give me again my kindred?' Nay; not so,
Not idle prayers. We know
They that have crossed the river cannot return.
I do not pray, 'Comfort me! comfort me!' For how should comfort be?
O,—O that cooing mouth—that little white head!
No; but I pray, 'If it be not too late, Open to me the gate,
That I may find my babe when I am dead.
'Show me the path. I had forgotten Thee When I was happy and free,
Walking down here in the gladsome light o' the
But now I come and mourn; O set my feet In the road to Thy blest seat,
And for the rest, O God, Thy will be done.'
WHEN found the
rose delight in her fair hue?
Colour is nothing to this world; 'tis I
That see it. Farther, I have found, my soul,
That trees are nothing to their fellow trees;
It is but I that love their stateliness,
And I that, comforting my heart, do sit
At noon beneath their shadow. I will step
On the ledges of this world, for it is mine;
But the other world ye wot of, shall go too;
I will carry it in my bosom. O my world,
That was not built with clay!
(This outer world we tread on) as a harp—
A gracious instrument on whose fair strings
We learn those airs we shall be set to play
When mortal hours are ended. Let the wings,
Man, of thy spirit move on it as wind,
And draw forth melody. Why shouldst thou yet
Lie grovelling? More is won than e'er was lost:
Inherit. Let thy day be to thy night
A teller of good tidings. Let thy praise
Go up as birds go up that, when they wake,
Shake off the dew and soar.
So take joy home,
And make a place in thy great heart for her,
And give her time to grow, and cherish her;
Then will she come, and oft will sing to thee,
When thou art working in the furrows; ay,
Or weeding in the sacred hour of dawn.
It is a comely fashion to be glad—
Joy is the grace we say to God.
There is a rest remaining. Hast thou sinned?
There is a Sacrifice. Lift up thy head,
The lovely world, and the over-world alike,
Ring with a song eterne, a happy rede,
'THY FATHER LOVES THEE.'
Yon moorèd mackerel fleet
Hangs thick as a swarm of bees,
Or a clustering village street
Foundationless built on the seas.
The mariners ply their craft,
Each set in his castle frail;
His care is all for the draught,
And he dries the rain-beaten sail.
For rain came down in the night,
And thunder muttered full oft,
But now the azure is bright,
And hawks are wheeling aloft.
I take the land to my breast,
In her coat with daisies fine;
For me are the hills in their best,
And all that's made is mine.
Sing high! 'Though the red sun dip,
There yet is a day for me
Nor youth I count for a ship
That long ago foundered at sea.
Did the lost love die and depart?
Many times since we have met;
For I hold the years in my heart,
And all that was—is yet.
'I grant to the king his reign;
Let us yield him homage due;
But over the lands there are twain,
O king, I must rule as you.
'I grant to the wise his meed,
But his yoke I will not brook,
For God taught ME to read—
He lent me the world for a book.'
ON A SUN-PORTRAIT OF HER HUSBAND,
SENT BY A WIFE TO THEIR FRIEND.
eyes—and shall I see no more
The living thought when it would leap from them,
And play in all its sweetness 'neath their lids?
Here was a man familiar with fair heights
That poets climb. Upon his peace the tears
And troubles of our race deep inroads made,
Yet life was sweet to him; he kept his heart
At home. Who saw his wife might well have
'God loves this man. He chose a wife for him—
The true one!' O sweet eyes, that seem to live,
I know so much of you, tell me the rest!
Eyes full of fatherhood and tender care
For small, young children. Is a message here
That you would fain have sent, but had not time?
If such there be, I promise, by long love
And perfect friendship, by all trust that comes
Of understanding, that I will not fail,
No, nor delay to find it.
O, my heart
Will often pain me as for some strange fault—
Some grave defect in nature—when I think
How I, delighted, 'neath those olive trees,
Moved to the music of the tideless main,
While, with sore weeping, in an island home
They laid that much-loved head beneath the sod,
And I did not know.
I stand on the bridge where last we stood
When young leaves played at their best.
The children called us from yonder wood,
And rock-doves crooned on the nest.
Ah, yet you call—in your gladness call—
And I hear your pattering feet
It does not matter, matter at all,
You fatherless children sweet—
It does not matter at all to you,
Young hearts that pleasure besets;
The father sleeps, but the world is new,
The child of his love forgets.
I too, it may be, before they drop,
The leaves that flicker to-day,
Ere bountiful gleams make ripe the crop,
Shall pass from my place away:
Ere yon grey cygnet puts on her white,
Or snow lies soft on the wold,
Shall shut these eyes on the lovely light,
And leave the story untold.
Shall I tell it there? Ah, let that be,
For the warm pulse beats so high;
To love to-day, and to breathe and see—
To-morrow perhaps to die—
Leave it with God. But this I have known,
That sorrow is over soon;
Some in dark nights, sore weeping alone,
Forget by full of the moon.
But if all loved, as the few can love,
This world would seldom be well;
And who need wish, if he dwells above,
For a deep, a long death knell?
There are four or five, who passing this place,
While they live will name me yet;
And when I am gone will think on my face.
And feel a kind of regret.
(1644–1703): constructed the first Eddystone lighthouse, which he
completed in November 1698. During the Great Storm on the
night of 27 November 1703, the lighthouse was swept away and
Winstanley, who was visiting to make repairs, and the five other
occupants lost their lives. No ships were wrecked on the
Eddystone during the five years Winstanley's lighthouses operated.
There have since been three further Eddystone lighthouses, the
second of which was destroyed by fire.
Jean Ingelow's poem
commemorates Winstanley's achievement . . . .
cedar to the reeds and rushes,
'Water-grass, you know not what I do;
Know not of my storms, nor of my hushes,
Quoth the reeds and rushes, 'Wind! O waken!
Breathe, O wind, and set our answer free,
For we have no voice, of you forsaken,
For the cedar
Quoth the earth at midnight to the ocean,
'Wilderness off water, lost to view,
Nought you are to me but sounds of motion;
I am nought
Quoth the ocean, 'Dawn! O fairest, clearest,
Touch me with thy golden finders bland;
For I have no smile till thou appearest
Quoth the hero dying, whelmed in glory,
'Many blame me, few have understood;
Ah, my folk, to you I leave a story―
Quoth the folk, 'Sing, poet! teach us, prove us;
Surely we shall learn the meaning then;
Wound us with a pain divine, O move us,
For this man
deed, you kindly folk,
With it I fill my lay,
And a nobler man ne'er walked the world,
Let his name be what it may.
The good ship 'Snowdrop' tarried long,
Up at the vane looked he;
'Belike,' be said, for the wind had dropped,
'She lieth becalmed at sea.'
The lovely ladies flocked within,
And still would each one say,
'Good mercer, be the ships come up?'
But still he answered 'Nay.'
Then stepped two mariners down the street,
With looks of grief and fear:
'Now, if Winstanley be your name,
We bring you evil cheer.'
'For the good ship "Snowdrop" struck—she
On the rock—the Eddystone,
And down she went with threescore men,
We two being left alone.
'Down in the deep, with freight and crew,
Past any help she lies,
And never a bale has come to shore
Of all thy merchandise.'
'For cloth o' gold and comely frieze,'
Winstanley said, and sighed,
'For velvet coif, or costly coat,
They fathoms deep may bide.
'O thou brave skipper, blithe and kind,
O mariners bold and true,
Sorry at heart, right sorry am I,
A-thinking of yours and you.
'Many long days Winstanley's breast
Shall feel a weight within,
For a waft of wind he shall be 'feard
And trading count but sin.
'To him no more it shall be joy
To pace the cheerful town,
And see the lovely ladies gay
Step on in velvet gown.'
The 'Snowdrop' sank at Lammas tide,
All under the yeasty spray
On Christmas Eve the brig 'Content'
Was also cast away.
He little thought o' New Year's night,
So jolly as he sat then,
While drank the toast and praised the roast
The round-faced Aldermen,—
While serving lads ran to and fro,
Pouring the ruby wine,
And jellies trembled on the board,
And towering pasties fine,—
While loud huzzas ran up the roof
Till the lamps did rock o'erhead,
And holly boughs from rafters hung
Dropped down their berries red,—
He little thought on Plymouth Hoe,
With every rising tide,
How the wave washed in his sailor lads,
And laid them side by side.
There stepped a stranger to the board:
'Now, stranger, who be ye?'
He looked to right, he looked to left,
And 'Rest you merry,' quoth he;
'For you did not see the brig go down,
Or ever a storm had blown;
For you did not see the white wave rear
At the rock—the Eddystone.
'She drave at the rock with sternsails set
Crash went the masts in twain;
She staggered back with her mortal blow,
Then leaped at it again.
'There rose a great cry, bitter and strong,
The misty moon looked out!
And the water swarmed with seamen's heads,
And the wreck was strewed about.
'I saw her mainsail lash the sea
As I clung to the rock alone;
Then she heeled over, and down she went,
And sank like any stone.
'She was a fair ship, but all's one!
For nought could bide the shock.'
'I will take horse,' Winstanley said,
And see this deadly rock.'
'For never again shall barque o' mine
Sail over the windy sea,
Unless, by the blessing of God, for this
Be found a remedy.'
Winstanley rode to Plymouth town
All in the sleet and the snow,
And he looked around on shore and sound
As he stood on Plymouth Hoe.
Till a pillar of spray rose far away,
And shot up its stately head,
Reared and fell over, and reared again:
' 'Tis the rock! the rock!' he said.
Straight to the Mayor he took his way
'Good Master Mayor,' quoth he,
'I am a mercer of London town,
And owner of vessels three,—
'But for your rock of dark renown,
I had five to track the main.'
'You are one of many,' the old Mayor said,
'That on the rock complain.
'An ill rock, mercer! your words ring right,
Well with my thoughts they chime,
For my two sons to the world to come
It sent before their time.'
'Lend me a lighter, good Master Mayor,
And a score of shipwrights free,
For I think to raise a lantern tower
On this rock o' destiny.'
The old Mayor laughed, but sighed also
'Ah, youth,' quoth he, 'is rash;
Sooner, young man, thou 'It root it out
From the sea that doth it lash.
'Who sails too near its jaggèd
He shall have evil lot;
For the calmest seas that tumble there
Froth like a boiling pot.
'And the heavier seas few look on nigh,
But straight they lay him dead;
A seventy-gun ship, sir!—they'll shoot
Higher than her mast-head.
'O, beacons sighted in the dark,
They are right welcome things,
And pitchpots flaming on the shore
Show fair as angel wings.
'Hast gold in hand? then light the land,
It 'longs to thee and me;
But let alone the deadly rock
In God Almighty's sea.'
Yet said he, 'Nay—I must away,
On the rock to set my feet;
My debts are paid, my will I made,
Or ever I did thee greet.
'If I must die, then let me die
By the rock and not elsewhere;
If I may live, O let me live
To mount my lighthouse stair.'
The old Mayor looked him in the face,
And answered: 'Have thy way;
Thy heart is stout, as if round about
It was braced with an iron stay:
'Have thy will, mercer! choose thy men,
Put off from the storm-rid shore;
God with thee be, or I shall see
Thy face and theirs no more.'
Heavily plunged the breaking wave,
And foam flew up the lea,
Morning and even the drifted snow
Fell into the dark grey sea.
Winstanley chose him men and gear;
He said, 'My time I waste,'
For the seas ran seething up the shore,
And the wrack drave on in haste.
But twenty days he waited and more,
Pacing the strand alone,
Or ever he set his manly foot
On the rock—the Eddystone.
Then he and the sea began their strife,
And worked with power and might:
Whatever the man reared up by day
The sea broke down by night.
He wrought at ebb with bar and beam,
He sailed to shore at flow;
And at his side, by that same tide,
Came bar and beam alsò.
'Give in, give in,' the old Mayor cried,
'Or thou wilt rue the day.'
'Yonder he goes,' the townsfolk sighed,
'But the rock will have its way.
'For all his looks that are so stout,
And his speeches brave and fair,
He may wait on the wind, wait on the wave,
But he'll build no lighthouse there.'
In fine weather and foul weather
The rock his arts did flout,
Through the long days and the short days,
Till all that year ran out.
With fine weather and foul weather
Another year came in:
'To take his wage,' the workmen said,
'We almost count a sin.'
Now March was gone, came April in,
And a sea-fog settled down,
And forth sailed he on a glassy sea,
He sail'd from Plymouth town.
With men and stores he put to sea,
As he was wont to do;
They showed in the fog like ghosts full faint―
A ghostly craft and crew.
And the sea-fog lay and waxed alway,
For a long eight days and more;
'God help our men!' quoth the women then;
'For they bide long from shore.'
They paced the Hoe in doubt and dread:
'Where may our mariners be?'
But the brooding fog lay soft as down
Over the quiet sea.
A Scottish schooner made the port,
The thirteenth day at e'en:
'As I am a man,' the captain cried,
'A strange sight I have seen:
'And a strange sound heard, my masters all,
At sea, in the fog and the rain,
Like shipwrights' hammers tapping low,
Then loud, then low again.
'And a stately house one instant showed,
Through a rift, on the vessel's lee;
What manner of creatures may be those
That build upon the sea?'
Then sighed the folk, 'The Lord be praised!'
And they flocked to the shore amain;
All over the Hoe that livelong night,
Many stood out in the rain.
It ceased, and the red sun reared his head,
And the rolling fog did flee
And, lo! in the offing faint and far
Winstanley's house at sea!
In fair weather with mirth and cheer
The stately tower uprose;
In foul weather, with hunger and cold,
They were content to close;
Till up the stair Winstanley went,
To fire the wick afar;
And Plymouth in the silent night
Look's out, and saw her star.
Winstanley set his foot ashore:
Said he, 'My work is done;
I hold it strong to last as long
As aught beneath the sun.
'But if it fail, as fail it may,
Borne down with ruin and rout,
Another than I shall rear it high,
And brace the girders stout.
'A better than I shall rear it high,
For now the way is plain,
And tho' I were dead,' Winstanley said,
'The light would shine again.
'Yet were I fain still to remain,
Watch in my tower to keep,
And tend my light in the stormiest night
That ever did move the deep;
'And if it stood, why then 'twere good,
Amid their tremulous stirs,
To count each stroke when the mad waves
For cheers of mariners.
'But if it fell, then this were well,
That I should with it fall:
Since, for my part, I have built my heart
In the courses of its wall.
'Ay! I were fain, long to remain,
Watch in my tower to keep,
And tend my light in the stormiest night
That ever did move the deep.'
With that Winstanley went his way,
And left the rock renowned,
And summer and winter his pilot star
Hung bright o'er Plymouth Sound.
But it fell out, fell out at last,
That he would put to sea,
To scan once more his lighthouse tower
On the rock o' destiny.
And the winds woke, and the storm broke,
And wrecks came plunging in;
None in the town that night lay down
Or sleep or rest to win.
The great mad waves were rolling graves,
And each flung up its dead;
The seething flow was white below,
And black the sky o'erhead.
And when the dawn, the dull, grey dawn,
Broke on the trembling town,
And men looked south to the harbour mouth,
The lighthouse tower was down.
Down in the deep where he doth sleep,
Who made it shine afar,
And then in the night that drowned its light,
Set, with his pilot star.
Many my fair tombs in the glorious glooms
At Westminster they show;
The brave and the great lie there in state:
Winstanley lieth low.
He blew with His winds, and they were scattered.
'ONE soweth and
Too true, too true. One soweth —unaware
Cometh a reaper stealthily while he dreams
Bindeth the golden sheaf, and in his bosom
As 'twere between the dewfall and the dawn
Bears it away. Who other was to blame?
Is it I? Is it I?—No verily, not I,
'Twas a good action, and I smart therefore;
Oblivion of a righteous enmity
Wrought me this wrong. I pay with my self-ruth
That I had ruth toward mine enemy;
It needed not to slay mine enemy,
Only to let him lie and succourless
Drift to the foot o' the Everlasting Throne;
Being mine enemy, he had not accused
One of my nation there of unkind deeds
Or ought the way of war forbids.
I will not think upon it. Yet she was—
O, she was dear; my dutiful, dear child.
One soweth—Nay, but I will tell this out,
The first fyte was the best, I call it such
For now as some old song men think on it.
I dwell where England narrows running north;
And while our hay was cut came rumours up
Humming and swarming round our heads like
'Drake from the bay of Cadiz hath come home,
And they are forth, the Spaniards with a force
'The Prince of Parma, couched
At Dunkirk, e'en by torchlight makes to toil
His shipwright thousands―thousands
in the ports
Of Flanders and Brabant. An hundred hendes
Transports to his great squadron adding, all
For our confusion.'
'England's great ally
Henry of France, by insurrection fallen,
Of him the said Prince Parma mocking cries,
He shall not help the Queen of England now
Not even with his tears, more needing them
To weep his own misfortune.'
Was that all
The truth? Not half, and yet it was enough
(Albeit not half that half was well believed),
For all the land stirred in the half belief
As dreamers stir about to wake; and now
Comes the Queen's message, all her lieges bid
To rise, 'lieftenants, and the better sort
Of gentlemen' whereby the Queen's grace meant,
As it may seem the sort that willed to rise
And arm, and come to aid her.
Safety for us, my neighbours and near friends,
The peril lay along our channel coast
And marked the city, undefended fair
Rich London. O to think of Spanish mail
Ringing—of riotous conquerors in her street,
Chasing and frighting (would there were no more
To think on) her fair wives and her fair maids.
—But hope is fain to deem them forth of her.
Then Spain to the sacking; then they tear away
Arras and carved work. O then they break
And toss, and mar her quaint orfèverie
Priceless—then split the wine kegs, spill the mead,
Trail out the pride of ages in the dust;
'Turn over with pikes her silken merchandise,
Strip off the pictures of her kings, and spoil
Their palaces that nigh five hundred years
Have rued no alien footsteps on the floor,
And work—for the days of miracle are gone—
All unimaginable waste and woe.
Some cried, 'But England hath the better cause;
We think not those good days indeed are done;
We look to Heaven for aid on England's side.'
Then other, 'Nay, the harvest is above,
God comforts there His own, and ill men leaves
To run long scores up in this present world,
And pay in another.
Look not here for aid.
Latimer, poor old saint, died in the street
With nigh, men say, three hundred of his kind,
All bid to look for worse death after death,
Succourless, comfortless, unfriended, curst.
Mary, and Gardiner, and the Pope's man Pole
Died upon down, lulled in a silken shade,
Soothed with assurance of a waiting heaven,
And Peter peering through the golden gate,
With his gold key in's hand to let them in.'
'Nay, leave,' quoth I, 'the martyrs to their heaven,
And all who live the better that they died.
But look you now, a nation hath no heaven,
A nation's life and work and wickedness
And punishment—or otherwise, I say
A nation's life and goodness and reward
Are here. And in my nation's righteous cause
I look for aid, and cry, SO HELP ME GOD
As I will help my righteous nation now
With all the best I have, and know, and am,
I trust Thou wilt not let her light be quenched;
I go to aid, and if I fall—I fall,
And, God of nations, leave my soul to Thee.'
Many did say like words, and all would give
Of gold, of weapons, and of horses that
They had to hand or on the spur o' the time
Could gather. My fair dame did sell her rings,
So others. And they sent us well equipped
Who minded to be in the coming fray
Whether by land or sea; my hope the last,
For I of old therewith was conversant.
Then as we rode down southward all the land
Was at her harvesting. The oats were cut
Ere we were three days forth, and then the wheat,
And the wide country spite of loathèd
Was busy. There was news to hearten us:
The Hollanders were coming roundly in
With sixty ships of war, all fierce, and full
Of spleen, for not alone our sake but theirs
Willing to brave encounter where they might.
So after five days we did sight the Sound,
And look on Plymouth harbour from the hill
Then I full glad drew bridle, lighted straight,
Ran down and mingled with a waiting crowd.
Many stood gazing on the level deep
That scarce did tremble; 'twas in hue as sloes
That hang till winter on a leafless bough,
So black bulged down upon it a great cloud
And probed it through and through with forkèd
Incessant, and rolled on it thunder bursts
Till the dark water lowered as one afraid.
That was afar. The land and nearer sea
Lay sweltering in hot sunshine. The brown beach
Scarce whispered, for a soft incoming tide
Was gentle with it. Green the water lapped
And sparkled at all edges. The night-heavens
Are not more thickly speckled o'er with stars
Than that fair harbour with its fishing craft.
And crowds of galleys shooting to and fro
Did feed the ships of war with their stout crews,
And bear aboard fresh water, furniture
Of war, much lesser victual, sallets, fruit,
All manner equipment for the squadron, sails,
Also was chaffering on the Hoe,
Buying and bargaining, taking of leave
With tears and kisses, while on all hands pushed
Tall lusty men with baskets on their heads
Piled of fresh bread, and biscuit newly drawn.
Then shouts, 'The captains!'
Raleigh, Hawkins, Drake,
Old Martin Frobisher, and many more;
Howard, the Lord High Admiral, headed them—
They coming leisurely from the bowling green,
Elbowed their way. For in their stoutness loth
To hurry when ill news first brake on them,
They playing a match ashore—ill news I say,
'The Spaniards are toward'—while panic-struck
The people ran about them, Drake cries out,
Knowing their fear should make the danger worse,
'Spaniards, my masters! Let the Spaniards wait.
Fall not a-shouting for the boats; is time
To play the match out, ay to win, and then
To beat the Spaniards.'
So the rest gave way
At his insistence, playing that afternoon
The bravest match (one saith) was ever scored.
'Twas no time lost; nay, not a moment lost;
For look you, when the winning cast was made,
The town was calm, the anchors were all up,
The boats were manned to row them each to his
The lowering cloud in the offing had gone south
Against the wind, and all was work, stir, heed,
Nothing forgot, nor grudged, nor slurred, and most
Men easy at heart as those brave sailors seemed.
And specially the women had put by
On a sudden their deep dread; yon Cornish coast
Neared of his insolency by the foe,
With his high sea-castles numerous, sea-forts
Many, his galleys out of number, manned
Each by three hundred slaves chained to the oar;
All his strong fleet of lesser ships, but great
As any of ours—why that same Cornish coast
Might have lain farther than the far west land,
So had a few stout-hearted looks and words
Wasted the meaning, chilled the menace of
That frightful danger, imminent, hard at hand.
'The captains come, the captains!' and I turned
As they drew on. I marked the urgency
Flashing in each man's eye: fain to be forth
But willing to be held at leisure. Then
Cried a fair woman of the better sort
To Howard, passing by her pannier'd ass,
'Apples, Lord Admiral, good captains all,
Look you, red apples sharp and sweet are these.'
Quoth he a little chafed, 'Let be, let be,
No time is this for bargaining, good dame.
Let be;' and pushing past, 'Beshrew thy heart
(And mine that I should say it), bargain! nay
I meant not bargaining,' she falters; crying,
'I brought them my poor gift. Pray you now take,
He stops, and with a childlike smile
That makes the dame amend, stoops down to
While I step up that love not many words,
'What should he do,' quoth I, 'to help this need
That hath a bag of money, and good will?'
'Charter a ship,' he saith, nor e'er looks up,
'And put aboard her victual, tackle, shot,
Ought he can lay his hand on—look he give
Wide sea room to the Spanish hounds, make sail
For ships of ours, to ease of wounded men,
And succour with that freight he brings withal.'
His foot, yet speaking, was aboard his boat,
His comrades, each red apples in the hand,
Come after, and with blessings manifold
Cheering, and cries, 'Good luck, good luck!' they
'Twas three years three months past.
O yet methinks
I hear that thunder crash i' the offing; hear
Their words who when the crowd melted away
Gathered together. Comrades we of old,
About to adventure us at Howard's hest
On the unsafe sea. For he, a Catholic,
As is my wife, and therefore my one child,
Detested and defied th' most Catholic King
Philip. He, trusted of her grace—and cause
She had, the nation following suit—he deemed,
'twas whisper'd, ay and Raleigh, and Francis Drake
No less, the event of battle doubtfuller
Than English tongue might own; the peril dread
As ought in this world ever can be deemed
That is not yet past praying for.
So good. As birds awaked do stretch their wings
The ships did stretch forth sail, full clad they
And right into the sunset went, hull down
E'en with the sun.
To us in twilight left,
Glory being over, came despondent thought
That mocked men's eager act. From many a hill,
As if the land complained to Heaven, they sent
A towering shaft of murky incense high,
Livid with black despair in lieu of praise.
The green wood hissed at every beacon's edge
That widened fear. The smell of pitchpots fled
Far over the field, and tongues of fire leaped up,
Ay, till all England woke, and knew, and wailed.
But we i' the night through that detested reek
Rode eastward. Every mariner's voice was given
'Gains any fear for the western shires. The cry
Was all, 'They sail for Calais roads, and thence,
The goal is London.'
Nought slept, man nor beast.
Ravens and rooks flew forth, and with black wings,
Affrighted, swept our eyes. Pale eddying moths
Came by in crowds and whirled them on the flames.
We rode till pierced those beacon fires the shafts
O' the sun, and their red smouldering ashes dulled.
Beside them, scorched, smoke-blackened, weary,
Men that had fed them, dropped their tired arms
And also through that day we rode,
Till reapers at their nooning sat awhile
On the shady side of corn-shocks: all the talk
Of high, of low, or them that went or stayed
Determined but unhopeful; desperate
To strike a blow for England ere she fell.
And ever loomed the Spaniard to our thought,
Still waxed the fame of that great Armament—
New horsemen joining, swelled it more and more—
Their bulky ships, galleons having five decks,
Zabraes, pataches, galleys of Portugal,
Caravels rowed with oars, their galliasses
Vast, and complete with chapels, chambers, towers.
And in the said ships of free mariners
Eight thousand, and of slaves two thousand more,
An army twenty thousand strong. O then
Of culverin, of double culverin,
Ordnance and arms, all furniture of war,
Victual, and last their fierceness and great spleen,
Willing to founder, burn, split, wreck themselves,
But they would land, fight, overcome, and reign.
Then would we count up England. Set by theirs,
Her fleet as walnut shells. And a few pikes
Stored in the belfries, and a few brave men
For wielding them. But as the morning wore,
And we went ever eastward, ever on,
Poured forth, poured down, a marching multitude
With stir about the towns; and waggons rolled
With offerings for the army and the fleet.
Then to our hearts valour crept home again,
The loathèd name of Alva fanning
Alva who did convert from our old faith
With many a black deed done for a white cause
(So spake they erewhile to it dedicate)
Them whom not death could change, nor fire, nor
To thirst for his undoing.
Ay, as I am a Christian man, our thirst
Was comparable with Queen Mary's. All
The talk was of confounding heretics,
The heretics the Spaniards. Yet methought,
'O their great multitude! Not harbour room
On our long coast for that great multitude.
They land—for who can let them?—give us battle,
And after give us burial. Who but they,
For he that liketh shall be flying north
To bear off wife and child. Our very graves
Shall Spaniards dig, and in the daisied grass
Trample them down.'
Ay, whoso will be brave,
Let him be brave beforehand. After th' event
If by good pleasure of God it go as then
He shall be brave an' liketh him. I say
Was no man but that deadly peril feared.
Nights riding two. Scant rest. Days riding
Then Foulkstone. Need is none to tell all forth
The gathering stores and men, the charter'd ship
That I, with two, my friends, got ready for sea.
Ready she was, so many another, small
But nimble; and we sailing hugged the shore,
Scarce venturing out, so Drake had willed, a league,
And running westward aye as best we might,
When suddenly―behold them!
On they rocked,
Majestical, slow, sailing with the wind.
O such a sight! O such a sight, mine eyes,
Never shall you see more!
In crescent form,
A vasty crescent nigh two leagues across
From horn to horn, the lesser ships within,
The great without, they did bestride as 'twere
And make a township on the narrow seas.
It was about the point of dawn: and light.
All grey the sea, and ghostly grey the ships;
And after in the offing rocked our fleet,
Having lain quiet in the summer dark.
O then methought, 'Flash, blessed gold of dawn,
And touch the topsails of our Admiral,
That he may after guide an emulous flock,
Old England's innocent white bleating lambs.
Let Spain within a pike's length hear them bleat,
Delivering of their pretty talk in a tongue
Whose meaning cries not for interpreter.'
And while I spoke, their topsails, friend and foe,
Glittered—and there was noise of guns; pale smoke
Lagged after, curdling on the sun-fleck'd main.
And after that? What after that, my soul?
Who ever saw weakling white butterflies
Chasing of gallant swans, and charging them,
And spitting at them long red streaks of flame?
We saw the ships of England even so
As in my vaunting wish that mocked itself
With 'Fool, O fool, to brag at the edge of loss.'
We saw the ships of England even so
Run at the Spaniards on a wind, lay to,
Bespatter them with hail of battle, then
Take their prerogative of nimble steerage,
Fly off, and ere the enemy, heavy in hand,
Delivered his reply to the wasteful wave
That made its grave of foam, race out of range,
Then tack and crowd all sail, and after them
So harass'd they that mighty foe,
Moving in all its bravery to the east.
And some were fine with pictures of the saints,
Angels with flying hair and peakèd
And high red crosses wrought upon their sails;
From every mast brave flag or ensign flew,
And their long silken pennons serpented
Loose to the morning. And the galley slaves,
Albeit their chains did clink, sang at the oar.
The sea was striped e'en like a tiger skin
With wide ship wakes.
And many cried, amazed,
'What means their patience?'
'Lo you,' others said,
'They pay with fear for their great costliness.
Some of their costliest needs must other guard;
Once guarded and in port look to yourselves,
They count one hundred and fifty. It behoves
Better they suffer this long running fight—
Better for them than that they give us battle,
And so delay the shelter of their roads.
'Two of their caravels we sank, and one
(Fouled with her consort in the rigging) took
Ere she could catch the wind when she rode free.
And we have riddled many a sail, and split
Of spars a score or two. What then?
They look to straddle across the strait, and hold—
Having aye Calais for a shelter—hold
Our ships in fight. To-morrow shall give account
For our to-day. They will not we pass north
To meddle with Parma's flotilla; their hope
Being Parma, and a convoy they would be
For his flat boats that bode invasion to us;
And if he reach to London—ruin, defeat.'
Three fleets the sun went down on, theirs of fame
Th' Armada. After space old England's few;
And after that our dancing cockle-shells,
The volunteers. They took some pride in us,
For we were nimble, and we brought them powder,
Shot, weapons. They were short of these. Ill
Ill found. The bitter fruit of evil thrift.
But while obsequious, darting here and there,
We took their messages from ship to ship,
From to shore, the moving majesties
Made Calais Roads, cast anchor, all their less
In the middle ward; their greater ships outside
Impregnable castles fearing not assault.
So did we read their thought, and read it wrong,
While after the running fight we rode at case,
For many (as is the way of Englishmen)
Having made light of our stout deeds, and light
O' the effects proceeding, saw these spread
To view. The Spanish Admiral's mighty host,
Albeit not broken, harass'd.
Some did tow
Others that we had plagued, disabled, rent;
Many full heavily damaged made their berths.
Then did the English anchor out of range.
To close was not their wisdom with such foe,
Rather to chase him, following in the rear.
Ay, truly they were giants in our eyes
And in our own. They took scant heed of us,
And we looked on, and knew not what to think,
Only that we were lost men, a lost Isle,
In every Spaniard's mind, both great and small.
But no such thought had place in Howard's soul,
And when 'twas dark, and all their sails were furled,
When the wind veered a few points to the west,
And the tide turned ruffling along the roads,
He sent eight fireships forging down to them.
Blood-red pillars of reek
They looked on that vast host and troubled it,
As on th' Egyptian host One looked of old.
Then all the heavens were rent with a great cry,
The red avengers went right on, right on,
For none could let them; then was ruin, reek, flame;
Against th' unwieldy huge leviathans
They drive, they fell upon them as wild beasts,
And all together they did plunge and grind;
Their reefed sails set a-blazing, these flew loose
And forth like banners of destruction sped.
It was to look on as the body of hell
Seething; and some, their cables cut, ran foul
Of one the other, while the ruddy fire
Sped on aloft. One ship was stranded. One
Foundered, and went down burning; all the sea
Red as an angry sunset was made fell
With smoke and blazing spars that rode upright,
For as the fireships burst they scattered forth
Full dangerous wreckage. All the sky they scored
With flying sails and rocking masts, and yards
Licked of long flames. And flitting tinder sank
In eddies on the plagued mixed mob of ships
That cared no more for harbour, and were fain
At any hazard to be forth, and leave
Their berths in the blood-red haze.
It was at twelve
O' the clock when this fell out, for as the eight
Were towed, and left upon the friendly tide
To stalk like evil angels over the deep
And stare upon the Spaniards, we did hear
Their midnight bells. It was at morning dawn
After our mariners thus had harried them
I looked my last upon their fleet,—and all,
That night had cut their cables, put to sea,
And scattering wide towards the Flemish coast
Did seem to make for Greveline.
As for us,
The captains told us off to wait on them,
Bearers of wounded enemies and friends,
Bearers of messages, bearers of store.
We saw not ought, but heard enough: we heard
(And God be thanked) of that long scattering chase
And driving of Sidonia from his hope,
Parma, who could not ought without his ships
And looked for them to break the Dutch blockade,
He meanwhile chafing lion-like in his lair.
We heard—and he—for all one summer day,
Denning and Drake and Raynor, Fenton, Cross,
And more, by Greveline, where they once again
Did get the wind o' the Spaniards, noise of guns.
For coming with the wind, wielding themselves
Which way they listed (while in close array
The Spaniards stood but on defence), our own
Went at them, charged them high and charged them
And gave them broadside after broadside. Ay,
Till all the shot was spent both great and smalls.
It failed; and in regard of that same want
They thought it not convenient to pursue
Their vessels farther.
They were huge withal,
And might not be encounter'd one to one,
But close conjoined they fought, and poured great
Of ordnance at our ships, though many of theirs,
Shot thorow and thorow, scarce might keep afloat.
Many were captured fighting, many sank.
This news they brought returned perforce, and left
The Spaniards forging north. Themselves did watch
The river mouth, till Howard, his new store
Gathered, encounter coveting, once more
Made after them with Drake.
And lo! the wind
Got up to help us. He yet flying north
(Their doughty Admiral) made all his wake
To smoke, and would not end to fight, but strewed
The ocean with his wreckage. And the wind
Drave him before it, and the storm was fell,
And he went up to th' uncouth northern sea.
There did our mariners leave him. Then did joy
Run like a sunbeam over the land, and joy
Rule in the stout heart of a regnant Queen.
But now the counsel came, 'Every man home,
For after Scotland rounded, when he curves
Southward, and all the batter'd armament,
What hinders on our undefended coast
To land where'er he listeth? Every man
And we mounted and did open forth
Like a great fan, to east, to north, to west,
And rumour met us flying, filtering
Down through the border. News of wicked joy,
The wreckers rich in the Faroes, and the Isles
Orkney, and all the clansmen full of gear
Gathered from helpless mariners tempted in
To their undoing; while a treacherous crew
Let the storm work upon their lives its will,
Spoiled them and gathered all their riches up.
Then did they meet like fate from Irish kernes,
Who dealt with them according to their wont.
In a great storm of wind that tore green leaves
And dashed them wet upon me, came I home.
Then greeted me my dame, and Rosamund,
Our one dear child, the heir of these my fields—
That I should sigh to think it! There, no more.
Being right weary I betook me straight
To longed-for sleep, and I did dream and dream
Through all that dolourous storm; though noise of
Daunted the country in the moonless night,
Yet sank I deep and deeper in the dream
And took my fill of rest.
A voice, a touch,
'Wake.' Lo! my wife beside me, her wet hair
She wrung with her wet hands, and cried, 'A ship!
I have been down the beach. O pitiful!
A Spanish ship ashore between the rocks,
And none to guide our people. Wake.'
Raised on mine elbow looked; it was high day;
In the windy pother seas came in like smoke
That blew among the trees as fine small rain,
And then the broken water sun-besprent
Glitter'd, fell back and showed her high and fast
A caravel, a pinnace that methought
To some great ship had longed; her hap alone
Of all that multitude it was to drive
Between this land of England her right foe,
And that most cruel, where (for all their faith
Was one) no drop of water mote they drink
For love of God nor love of gold.
And hasted; I was soon among the folk,
But late for work. The crew, spent, faint, and
Saved for the most part of our men, lay prone
In grass, and women served them bread and mead,
Other the sea laid decently along
Ready for burial. And a litter stood
In shade. Upon it lying a goodly man,
The govourner or the captain as it seemed,
Dead in his stiff gold-broider'd bravery,
And epaulet and sword. They must have loved
That man, for many had died to bring him in,
Their boats stove in were stranded here and there.
In one—but how I know not—brought they him,
And he was laid upon a folded flag,
Many times doubled for his greater ease,
That was our thought—and we made signs to them
He should have sepulture. But when they knew
They must needs leave him, for some marched
For more safe custody, they made great moan.
After, with two my neighbours drawing nigh,
One of them touched the Spaniard's hand and said,
'Dead is he but not cold;' the other then,
'Nay in good truth methinks he be not dead.'
Again the first, 'An' if he breatheth yet
He lies at his last gasp.' And this went off,
And left us two, that by the litter stayed,
Looking on one another, and we looked
(For neither willed to speak), and yet looked on.
Then would he have me know the meet was fixed
For nine o' the clock, and to be brief with you
He left me. And I had the Spaniard home.
What other could be done? I had him home.
Men on his litter bare him, set him down
In a fair chamber that was nigh the hall.
And yet he waked not from his deathly swoon,
Albeit my wife did try her skill, and now
Bad lay him on a bed, when lo the folds
Of that great ensign covered store of gold,
Rich Spanish ducats, raiment, Moorish blades
Chased in right goodly wise, and missals rare,
And other gear. I locked it for my part
Into an armoury, and that fair flag
(While we did talk full low till he should end)
Spread over him. Methought, the man shall die
Under his country's colours; he was brave,
His deadly wound to that doth testify.
And when 'twas seemly order'd, Rosamund,
My daughter, who had looked not yet on death,
Came in, a face all marvel, pity, and dread—
Lying against her shoulder sword-long flowers,
White hollyhocks to cross upon his breast.
Slowly she turned as of that sight afeard,
But while with daunted heart she moved anigh,
His eyelids quiver'd, quiver'd then the lip;
And he, reviving, with a sob looked up
And set on her the midnight of his eyes.
Then she, in act to place the burial gift
Bending above him, and her flaxen hair
Fall's to her hand, drew back and stood upright
Comely and tall, her innocent fair face
Cover'd with blushes more of joy than shame.
'Father,' she cried, 'O father, I am glad.
Look you! the enemy liveth.' ' 'Tis enough,
My maiden,' quoth her mother, 'thou may'st forth,
But say an Avè first for him with
Then they with hands upright at foot o' his bed
Knelt, his dark dying eyes at gaze on them,
Till as I think for wonder at them, more
Than for his proper strength, he could not die.
So in obedient wise my daughter risen,
And going, let a smile of comforting cheer
Lift her sweet lip, and that was all of her
For many a night and day that he beheld.
And then withal my dame, a leech of skill,
Tended the Spaniard fain to heal his wound,
Her women aiding at their best. And he
'Twixt life and death awakened in the night
Full oft in his own tongue would make his moan,
And when he whisper'd any word I knew,
If I was present, for to pleasure him,
Then made I repetition of the same.
'Cordova,' quoth he faintly, 'Cordova,'
'Twas the first word he mutter'd. 'Ay, we know,'
Quoth I, 'the stoutness of that fight ye made
Against the Moors and their Mahometry,
And dispossess'd the men of fame, the fierce
Khalifs of Cordova—thy home belike,
Thy city. A fair city Cordova.'
Then after many days, while his wound healed,
He with abundant seemly sign set forth
His thanks, but as for language had we none,
And oft he strove and failed to let us know
Some wish he had, but could not, so a week,
Two weeks went by. Then Rosamund my girl,
Hearing her mother plain on this, she saith,
'So please you, madam, show the enemy
A Psalter in our English tongue, and fetch
And give him that same book my father found
Wrapped in the ensign. Are they not the same
Those holy words? The Spaniard being devout,
He needs must know them.'
'Peace, thou pretty fool!
Is this a time to teach an alien tongue?'
Her mother made for answer. 'He is sick,
The Spaniard.' 'Cry you mercy,' quoth my girl,
'But I did think 'twere easy to let show
How both the Psalters are of meaning like;
If he know Latin, and 'tis like he doth,
So might he choose a verse to tell his thought.'
Then said I (ay, I did!) 'The girl shall try,'
And straight I took her to the Spaniard's side,
And he, admiring at her, all his face
Changed to a joy that almost showed as fear,
So innocent holy she did look, so grave
Her pitiful eyes.
She sat beside his bed,
He covered with the ensign yet; and took
And showed the Psalters both, and she did speak
Her English words, but gazing was enough
For him at her sweet dimple, her blue eyes
That shone, her English blushes. Rosamund,
My beautiful dear child. He did but gaze,
And not perceive her meaning till she touched
His hand, and in her Psalter showed the word.
Then was all light to him; he laughed for joy,
And took the Latin Missal. O full soon,
Alas, how soon, one read the other's thought!
Before she left him, she had learned his name
Alonzo, told him hers, and found the care
Made night and day uneasy—Cordova,
There dwelt his father, there his kin, nor knew
Whether he lived or died, whether in thrall
To the Islanders for lack of ransom pined
Or rued the galling yoke of slavery.
So did he cast him on our kindness. I—
And care not who may know it—I was kind,
And for that our stout Queen did think foul scorn
To kill the Spanish prisoners, and to guard
So many could not, liefer being to rid
Our country of them than to spite their own,
I made him as I might that matter learn,
Eking scant Latin with my daughter's wit,
And told him men let forth and driven forth
Did crowd our harbours for the ports of Spain,
By one of whom, he, with good aid of mine,
Should let his tidings go, and I plucked forth
His ducats that a meet reward might be.
Then he, the water standing in his eyes,
Made old King David's words due thanks convey.
So Rosamund, this all made plain, arose
And curtsey'd to the Spaniard. Ah, methinks
I yet behold her, gracious, innocent,
And flaxen-haired, and blushing maidenly,
When turning she retired, and his black eyes,
That hunger'd after her, did follow on;
And I bethought me, 'Thou shalt see no more,
Thou goodly enemy, my one ewe lamb.'
O, I would make short work of this. The wound
Healed, and the Spaniard rose, then could he stand,
And then about his chamber walk at ease.
Now we had counsell'd how to have him home,
And that same trading vessel beating up
The Irish Channel at my will, that same
I charter'd for to serve me in the war,
Next was I minded should mine enemy
Deliver to his father, and his land.
Daily we looked for her, till in our cove,
Upon that morn when first the Spaniard walked,
Behold her rocking; and I hasted down
And left him waiting in the house.
Woe 's me!
All being ready speed I home, and lo
My Rosamund, that by the Spaniard sat
Upon a cushion'd settle, book in hand.
I needs must think how in the deep alcove
Thick chequer'd shadows of the window-glass
Did fall across her kirtle and her locks,
For I did see her thus no more.
Her Psalter, and he his, and slowly read
Till he would stop her at the needed word.
'O well is thee,' she read, my Rosamund,
'O well is thee, and happy shalt thou be;
Thy wife—' and there he stopped her, and he took
And kissed her hand, and show'd in's own a ring,
Taking no heed of me, no heed at all.
Then I burst forth, the choler red i' my face
When I did see her blush, and put it on.
'Give me,' quoth I, and Rosamund, afraid,
Gave me the ring. I set my heel on it,
Crushed it, and sent the rubies scattering forth,
And did in righteous anger storm at him.
'What! what!' quoth I, 'before her father's eyes,
Thou universal villain, thou ingrate,
Thou enemy whom I shelter'd, fed, restored,
Most basest of mankind!' And Rosamund,
Arisen, her forehead pressed against mine arm,
And 'Father,' cries she, 'father.'
And I stormed
At him, while in his Spanish he replied
As one would speak me fair. 'Thou Spanish hound!'
'Father,' she pleaded. 'Alien vile,' quoth I,
'Plucked from the death, wilt thou repay me thus?
It is but three times thou hast set thine eyes
On this my daughter.' 'Father,' moans my girl;
And I, not willing to be so withstood,
Spoke roughly to her. Then the Spaniard's eyes
Blazed—then he stormed at me in his own tongue,
And all his Spanish arrogance and pride
Broke witless on my wrathful English. Then
He let me know, for I perceived it well,
He reckon'd him mine equal, thought foul scorn
Of my displeasure, and was wroth with me
As I with him. 'Father,' sighed Rosamund.
'Go, get thee to thy mother, girl,' quoth I.
And slowly, slowly, she betook herself
Down the long hall; in lowly wise she went
And made her moan.
But when my girl was gone
I stood at fault, th' occasion master'd me;
Belike it master'd him, for both fell mute.
I calmed me, and he calmed him as he might,
For I bethought me I was yet an host,
And he bethought him on the worthiness
Of my first deeds.
So made I sign to him
The tide was up, and soon I had him forth,
Delivered him his goods, commended him
To the captain o' the vessel, then plucked off
My hat, in seemly fashion taking leave,
And he was not outdone, but every way
Gave me respect, and on the deck we two
Parted, as I did hope, to meet no more.
Alas! my Rosamund, my Rosamund!
She did not weep, no. Plain upon me, no.
Her eyes mote well have lost the trick of tears:
As new-washed flowers shake off the down-dropt
And make denial of it, yet more blue
And fair of favour afterward, so they.
The wild woodrose was not more fresh of blee
Than her soft dimpled cheek: but I beheld,
Come home, a token hung about her neck,
Sparkling upon her bosom for his sake
Her love, the Spaniard; she denied it not,
All unaware, good sooth, such love was bale.
And all that day went like another day,
Ay, all the next; then was I glad at heart
Methought, 'I am glad thou wilt not waste thy youth
Upon an alien man, mine enemy,
Thy nation's enemy. In truth, in truth,
This likes me very well. My most dear child,
Forget yon grave dark mariner. The Lord
Everlasting,' I besought, 'bring it to pass.'
Stealeth a darker day within my hall,
A winter day of wind and driving foam.
They tell me that my girl is sick―and
Not very sick. I may not hour by hour,
More than one watching of a moon that wanes,
Make chronicle of change. A parlous change
When he looks back to that same moon at full.
Ah! ah! methought, 'twill pass. It did not pass,
Though never she made moan. I saw the rings
Drop from her small white wasted hand. And I,
Her father, tamed of grief, I would have given
My land, my name to have her as of old.
Ay, Rosamund I speak of with the small
White face. Ay, Rosamund. O near as white,
And mournfuller by much, her mother dear
Drooped by her couch; and while of hope and fear
Lifted or left, as by a changeful tide,
We thought 'The girl is better,' or we thought
'The girl will die,' that jewel from her neck
She drew, and prayed me send it to her love;
A token she was true e'en to the end.
What matter'd now? But whom to send, and how
To reach the man? I found an old poor priest,
Some peril 'twas for him and me, she writ
My pretty Rosamund her heart's farewell,
She kissed the letter, and that old poor priest,
Who had eaten of my bread, and shelter'd him
Under my roof in troublous times, he took,
And to content her on this errand went,
While she as done with earth did wait the end.
Mankind bemoan them on the bitterness
Of death. Nay, rather let them chide the grief
Of living, chide the waste of mother-love
For babes that joy to get away to God;
The waste of work and moil and thought and thrift
And father-love for sons that heed it not,
And daughters lost and gone. Ay, let them chide
These. Yet I chide not. That which I have
Was rightly done; and what thereon befell
Could make no right a wrong, e'en were't to do
I will be brief. The days drag on,
My soul forebodes her death, my lonely age.
Once I despondent in the moaning wood
Look out, and lo a caravel at sea,
A man that climbs the rock, and presently
I did greet him, proud no more.
He had braved durance, as I knew, ay death,
To land on th' Island soil. In broken words
Of English he did ask me how she fared.
Quoth I, 'She is dying, Spaniard; Rosamund
My girl will die;' but he is fain, saith he,
To talk with her, and all his mind to speak;
I answer, 'Ay, my whilome enemy,
But she is dying.' 'Nay, now nay,' quoth he,
'So be she liveth,' and he moved me yet
For answer; then quoth I, 'Come life, come death,
What thou wilt, say.'
Soon made we Rosamund
Aware, she lying on the settle, wan
As a lily in the shade, and while she not
Believed for marvelling, comes he roundly in,
The tall grave Spaniard, and with but one smile,
One look of rush upon her small pale face
All slowly as with unaccustom'd mouth,
Betakes him to that English he hath conned,
Setting the words out plain:
Love! An so please thee, I would be thy man.
By all the saints will I be good to thee.
Come! what think you, would she come?
They love us, but our love is not their life.
For the dark mariner's love lived Rosamund.
Soon for his kiss she bloomed, smiled for his smile.
(The Spaniard reaped e'en as th' Evangel saith,
And bore in's bosom forth my golden sheaf.)
She loved her father and her mother well,
But loved the Spaniard better. It was sad
To part, but she did part; and it was far
To go, but she did go. The priest was brought,
The ring was bless'd that bound my Rosamund,
She sailed, and I shall never see her more.
One soweth and another reapeth. Ay,
Too true! too true!