Poems, now first collected/Harebell



"Grant him," I said, "a well-earned name,
The stage's knight, the keen assayer
Of parts whence all save greatness came,
But—not a player.

"Strange, as of fate's perverseness, this
Proud, eager soul, this fine-strung creature
Should seem forever just to miss
That touch of nature;

"The instinct she so lightly gives
Some fellow at his rivals snarling,
Some churl who gains the boards, and lives
Transformed—her darling!"

"You think so?" he replied. "Well, I
Thought likewise, maugre Lanciotto,
And Yorick, though his Cassius nigh
Won Hamlet's motto.

"But would you learn, as I, his clew
To nature's heart, and judge him fairly—
Go see his rustic bard, go view
His Man o' Airlie.

"See that defenceless minstrel brought
From hope to wan despair, from laughter
To frenzy's moan: the image wrought
Will haunt you after.

"Then see him crowned at last! If such
A guerdon waits the stricken poet,
'T were well, you 'll own, to bear as much—
Even die, to know it."

"Bravo!" cried I, "I too, the thrill
Must feel which thus your blood can waken."
And once I saw upon the bill
That part retaken;

But leagues of travel stretched between
Me and that idyl played so rarely:
And then—his death! nor had I seen
"The Man o' Airlie."

My failure; not the actor's, loved
By all to art and nature loyal;
Not his, whom Harebell's passion proved
Of the blood royal.