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Blue-eyed, frank-faced, with clear and open brow,
Scar-seamed a little, as the women love ; So kindly fronted that you marvel how
The frequent sword-hilt had so frayed his glove ;
Who switched at Psyche plunging in the sun ;
Uncrowned three lilies with a backward swinge ; And standing somewhat widely, like to one
More used to “Boot and Saddle" than to cringe
As courtiers do, but gentleman withal,
Took out the note; held it as one who feared The fragile thing he held would slip and fall ;
Read and re-read, pulling his tawny beard ;
Kissed it, I and hid it in his breast;
Laughed softly in a flattered happy way, Arranged the broidered baldrick on his chest,
And sauntered past, singing a roundelay.
The shade crept forward through the dying glow;
There came no more nor dame nor cavalier ; But for a little time the brass will show
A small gray spot-the record of a tear.
AN UNFINISHED SONG.
"Cantat Deo qui vivit Deo."
7ES, he was well-nigh gone and near his rest,
The year could not renew him ; nor the cry Of building nightingales about the nest ;
Nor that soft freshness of the May-wind's sigh,
That fell before the garden scents, and died
Between the ampler leafage of the trees : All these he knew not, lying open-eyed,
Deep in a dream that was not pain nor ease,
But death not yet. Outside a woman talked —
His wife she was-whose clicking needles sped To faded phrases of complaint that balked
My rising words of comfort. Overhead,
A cage that hung amid the jasmine stars
Trembled a little, and a blossom dropped. Then notes came pouring through the wicker bars,
Climbed half a rapid arc of song, and stopped.
“Is it a thrush ?” I asked. A thrush,” she said.
“That was Will's tune. Will taught him that before He left the doorway settle for his bed,
Sick as you see, and could n't teach him more.
“He'd bring his Bible here o' nights, would Will,
Following the light, and whiles when it was dark And days were warm, he'd sit there whistling still,
Teaching the bird. He whistled like a lark."
“Jack ! Jack !” A joyous flutter stirred the cage,
Shaking the blossoms down. The bird began ; The woman turned again to want and wage,
And in the inner chamber sighed the man.
How clear the song was ! Musing as I heard,
My fancies wandered from the droning wife To sad comparison of man and bird,
The broken song, the uncompleted life,
That seemed a broken song; and of the two,
My thought a moment deemed the bird more blest, That, when the sun shone, sang the notes it knew,
Without desire or knowledge of the rest.
Nay, happier man. For him futurity
Still hides a hope that this his earthly praise Finds heavenly end, for surely will not He,
Solver of all, above his Flower of Days,
Teach him the song that no one living knows?
Let the man die, with that half-chant of his,What Now discovers not Hereafter shows,
And God will surely teach him more than this.
Again the Bird. I turned, and passed along ;
But Time and Death, Eternity and Change, Talked with me ever, and the climbing song
Rose in my hearing, beautiful and strange.
E had played for his lordship's levee,
He had played for her ladyship’s whim, Till the poor little head was heavy,
And the poor little brain would swim.
And the face grew peaked and eerie,
And the large eyes strange and bright, And they said—too late-"He is weary !
He shall rest for, at least, To-night!"
But at dawn, when the birds were waking,
As they watched in the silent room,
A something snapped in the gloom.
'Twas a string of his violoncello,
And they heard him stir in his bed “Make room for a tired little fellow,
Kind God!" was the last that he said.