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573
THE SINGER'S PRIZE, ETC.


THE SINGER'S PRIZE.

The tall house lowers grimly,
Deformed by smoke and rain;
And the bleared sunshine dimly
Blinks on the window-pane.

Though sore and numb her fingers,
And slowly fades the light,
The girl nor rests nor lingers,
But sews from morn till night.

Her bright young face is sunken,
And fails her gentle breath;
Her fair young form is shrunken,
To fit the robes of death.

And I think of the woodland shadows
That she has never seen;
Of the wonder of song in the meadows,
When all the world is green.

But now the close lips quiver,
The nimble hands are slow, —
The voice she dreams of ever
Rings in the room below.

The mad young poet is singing,
With only a crust to eat;
But a fountain of light is springing
Up from the narrow street.

And whether he sings in sorrow,
Or whether he sings in glee,
He hopes that the world to-morrow
Will list to his melody.

And I think though his heart were burning
With words no man e'er said,
The world would be turning and turning
If to-morrow he were dead.

Only, both late and early,
The girl, as maidens will,
Dreams when the voice comes clearly
Up to her window-sill.

A brave face has she found him,
A manner frank and gay,
And long ago has crowned him
With myrtle wreath or bay.

A good sword clanging loudly,
A plume on waving hair,
A cloak that drapes him proudly,
Such as the players wear.

So whether in glee or sadness
He sings, he has won the prize,
When he brings the light of gladness
To a dying maiden's eyes.

Blackwood's Magazine. J. R. S.




TWO SONNETS.

I.

All love-adepts, all faithful hearts who wear
In love's sweet prime — his hour of blossoming —
The full, harmonious colors of his spring,
O think not when they fail ye shall go bare;

Take heart, his very mourning still is fair,
Ay, tho' the world its hail of pity fling,
Cutting as scorn, no meaner, earthlier thing,
Can match the royal robe of Love's despair!

Put on his weeds, then, ye who fear to sleep,
Because ye fear to wake to grief new-blown;
Rise, bear sweet spices to the grave, and weep
Love's balmy tears, there where by Love o'erthrown,
Death leaves but empty cerements in a heap,
And Love for love still rolls away the stone.


II.

 Fair friends of Love, who fear to take his pay,
Counting his service loss, his joys too brief,
Too much o'erweighted by his long-drawn grief,
Try his conclusions, ere ye say him nay.

What though his servants walk at close of day,
And hold sad commune o'er some vanished chief,
Not for love's death, but birth of high belief,
Their hearts still burn within them by the way.

They know their love is living, and take shame
That they one moment sought him with the dead;
They feel their love immortal, by the flame
That burns the brighter as it burns unfed.
So weeping, sing Love's praise, who could reframe
The universe whence all but love had fled.

Spectator. Emily Pfeiffer.
January 1877.




AN ODE OF HORACE.

[Horace, Book I., last Ode, beginning, "Persicos odi."]

To feast in high state
Like a Persian, I hate;
Wreaths of linden I care not to braid.
Then cease, boy, to look
Through each leafy nook
For the summer's last rose ere it fade.

The myrtle alone
Has a charm all its own;
I forbid thee aught else to entwine.
It is fairest for thee,
It is sweetest for me,
While I quaff 'neath the close-arching vine.
Saint Léonard, December 29, 1876.

Spectator. J. R.