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For if ye wrung a tear,
Like molten iron it will sear;
The look that proved you were unkind With hot remorse will blind;
And though you pray to be forgiven,
How will ye know that you are shriven? Ah! love ye one another well.
TO A CHILD WHO ASKED ME FOR A POEM.
You ask me for a poem, dear,
You want from me a lay;
You, child, have songs within your heart,
For life, my dear, is more than art;
I AM lying in the tomb, love,
Tho' I move within the gloom, love,
Deem my life not fled,
Tho' I with thee am dead, dear,
What is the gray world, darling,
Where the worm is curled, darling,
Will she waft upon her wing, dear,
For the hallowing of thy smile, love,
Would they put me out of pain, dear,
Since I may not live again, dear.
I am lying in the grave, love,
In thy little grave,
Yet I hear the wind rave, love,
And the wild wave!
I would lie asleep, darling,
Unhearing the world weep, darling,
O my little child!
Upon a cloud-car, vaporous alabaster
Who calls it failure?
God fulfils the prayer:
He is at home; he rests; the work is done.
Duty man's crown, and his eternal friend;
-The Death of Livingstone.
N the recent death of Mrs. Emily Pfeiffer, England has lost one of her leading poets. The childhood and early youth of Mrs. Pfeiffer, born Emily Davis, were spent amidst the rural scenery of Oxfordshire, England. Nature with her healthy influences, and early contact with the life and suffering of the cottagers into which she was brought as her mother's little messenger of comfort, soon developed her imagination, as well as the humane sympathies which characterize her writings.
It is from her father, who had many of the gifts and qualities of genius, that she derived her imaginative tendencies, as also the painter's talent, well known to those who have visited the exhibition of the Royal Academy. Living far away from any town, the instruction and reading of Emily Davis could necessarily be but desultory; that highest kind of education, however, which consists in the influence of parents well-bred and nobleminded, never failed her.
Shortly before her marriage Mrs. Pfeiffer fell into a state of physical prostration, which threatened to become permanent, and which in part lasted for about ten years after that event. During this time every mental exertion, even reading, was prohibited her. When at last- thanks to the tender care of her husband-she recovered a degree of health, it was clear that this long time in which she had lain fallow had, so far from being lost to her, assisted the development of her powers. If others write before they live, she first lived before she wrote. "Gerard's Monument," which then appeared (in 1878), at once secured for Mrs. Pfeiffer a place among English poets.
A time of happy activity now succeeded. Mrs. Pfeiffer became an enthusiastic, though temperate, advocate of women's claims. She introduced into London society her graceful "Greek Dress." Together with her husband she gathered round her a circle of distinguished literary and artistic friends, and produced her books in quick succession. Though a most conscientious worker, she wrote with great facility. Her poems mostly formed themselves in her mind before they were committed to paper; and the manuscripts of her prose works were frequently sent to the printer, with but few corrections, as they were first written.
The book which followed "Gerard's Monument" was a volume of "Poems" containing some thirty sonnets, which at once established the reputation of the writer as a sonneteer. "Glan Alark" succeeded, and after that "Quarterman's Grace." In little more than a year appeared "Under the
Aspens," shortly to be followed by "Songs and Sounds." In 1884 she issued "The Rhyme of the Lady of the Rock." Between these volumes of poetry Mrs. Pfeiffer wrote her book on "Women and Work," various essays on this and other subjects, published in the Contemporary Review, as well as "Flying Leaves from East and West"; the latter, perhaps, of all her books the one best known to American readers. The work which has secured for Mrs. Pfeiffer her highest fame as a poet is the volume of "Sonnets," which came out in 1887. Mrs. Pfeiffer's latest poems, "Flowers of the Night," possess a deep pathetic interest, independent of their intrinsic merit. When waiting for the editorship of a loving hand, the working power of that hand here below was stopped. In the loss of her husband the heaviest sorrow in a woman's life fell on the poet. The poems are the product of nights of insomnia, brought on by having continued anxiety, the anguish of which they in some measure relieved. They are, however, different from what might be expected from the conditions of their productions. The width of Mrs. Pfeiffer's sympathies has opened vistas beyond the sphere of her sorrow. C. B.
IT was cruel of them to part
Two hearts in the gladsome spring, Two lovers' hearts that had just burst forth With each blithe and beautiful thing;
Cruel, but only half
Had they known how to do us wrong,
Your kisses were so embalmed
With spices of beech and fir,
That they haunt my lips in the dead o' the night, If the night-winds do but stir.
When I rise with the rising dawn,
To let in the dewy south,
They should never have let our love
If they meant it to slumber on, cold and tame,
They should never have let it hide
'Neath the beeches' lucent shade, Or the upturned arch of the tender larch That blushed as it heaved and swayed.
Now the young and passionate year
Its conniving woods, with their raptures and thrills,
The troubadour nightingale
And the dove that o'erbends the bough, Have both learnt, and teach the trick of your speech,
As they echo it vow for vow.
My heart is heavy with scorn,
. My eyes with impatient tears,
Thou art not "calm," but restless as the ocean,
Churning the Universe with mindless motion.
But the heaven looks blue through the cherry- Blind Cyclop, hurling stones of destiny,
And preaches away my fears!
From the burning bush of the gorse,
Alive with murmurous sound,
I hear a voice, and it says, “Rejoice!”
I stand as on holy ground.
O flower of life! O love!
God's love is at thy root;
They may dim thy glory, but cannot blight
Or hinder thy golden fruit.
Yet all the same, I am mad,
However the end may fall,
That they dare to wring, in the gladsome spring, Two hearts that were gladdest of all.
(In her ascribed character of unmeaning and all-performing force.)
O, NATURE! thou whom I have thought to love, Seeing in thine the reflex of God's face,
A loathed abstraction would usurp thy place, With Him they not dethrone, they but disprove. Weird Nature! can it be that joy is fled, And bald unmeaning lurks beneath thy smile? That beauty haunts the dust but to beguile,
And that with Order, Love and Hope are dead? Pitiless Force, all-moving, all unmoved;
Dread mother of unfathered worlds, assuage
Vain prayer, although the last of human kind,
Dread Force, in whom of old we loved to see
And not in fury-working bootless ill,
Slaves, by mad chance be fooled to think them
We still might rise, and with one heart agree To mar the ruthless "grinding of thy mill!" Dead tyrant, tho' our cries and groans pass by
Man, cutting off from each new "tree of life" Himself, its fatal flower, could still defy thee, In waging on thy work eternal strifeThe races come and coming evermore, Heaping with hecatombs thy dead-sea shore.
If we be fools of chance, indeed, and tend
We call it sacred-all thy creatures own itThe tie which binds the parent and the child; Why has man's loving heart alone outgrown it?
Why hast thou travailed so to be denied,
THE GOSPEL OF DREAD TIDINGS.
Ir that sad creed which honest men and true