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And let the bedclothes for a mortcloth drop
Into great laps and folds of sculptor's-work :
And as yon tapers dwindle, and strange thoughts
Grow, with a certain humming in my ears,
About the life before I lived this life,
And this life too, popes, cardinals, and priests,
St. Praxed at his sermon on the mount,
Your tall pale mother with her talking eyes,
And new-found agate urns as fresh as day,
And marble’s language, Latin pure, discreet,
-Aha, ELUCESCEBAT, quoth our friend?
No Tully, said I, Ulpian at the best!
Evil and brief hath been my pilgrimage.
All lapis, all, sons ! Else I give the Pope
My villas : will ye ever eat my heart?
Ever your eyes were as a lizard's quick,
They glitter like your mother's for my soul,
Or ye would heighten my impoverished frieze,
Piece out its starved design, and fill my vase
With grapes, and add a visor and a term,
And to the tripod ye would tie a lynx
That in his struggle throws the thyrsus down,
To comfort me on my entablature
Whereon I am to lie till I must ask
Do I live, am I dead ?” There, leave me, there !
For ye have stabbed me with ingratitude
To death-ye wish it—God, ye wish it! Stone-
Gritstone, a-crumble ! Clammy squares which sweat
As if the corpse they keep were oozing through-
And no more lapis to delight the world !
Well, go! I bless ye. Fewer tapers there,
But in a row : and, going, turn your backs
-Ay, like departing altar-ministrants,

And leave me in my church, the church for peace,
That I may watch at leisure if he leers-
Old Gandolf, at me, from his onion-stone,
As still he envied me, so fair she was !




Here's the garden she walked across,

Arm in my arm, such a short while since: Hark, now I push its wicket, the moss

Hinders the hinges and makes them wince ! She must have reached this shrub ere she turned,

As back with that murmur the wicket swung ; For she laid the poor snail, my chance foot spurned,

To feed and forget it the leaves among.


Down this side of the gravel-walk

She went while her robe's edge brushed the box : And here she paused in her gracious talk

To point me a moth on the milk-white flox. Roses, ranged in valiant row,

I will never think that she passed you by! She loves you noble roses, I know;

But yonder, see, where the rock-plants lie !


This flower she stopped at, finger on lip,

Stooped over, in doubt, as settling its claim ; Till she gave me, with pride to make no slip,

Its soft meandering Spanish name. What a name ! was it love, or praise ?

Speech half-asleep, or song half-awake ? I must learn Spanish, one of these days,

Only for that slow sweet name's sake.


Roses, if I live and do well,

I may bring her, one of these days, To fix you fast with as fine a spell,

Fit you each with his Spanish phrase ! But do not detain me now; for she lingers

There, like sunshine over the ground, And ever I see her soft white fingers

Searching after the bud she found.


Flower, you Spaniard, look that you grow not,

Stay as you are and be loved for ever! Bud, if I kiss you 'tis that you blow not,

Mind, the shut pink mouth opens never ! For while thus it pouts, her fingers wrestle,

Twinkling the audacious leaves between, Till round they turn and down they nestle

Is not the dear mark still to be seen ?


Where I find her not, beauties vanish;

Whither I follow her, beauties flee;
Is there no method to tell her in Spanish

June's twice June since she breathed it with me? Come, bud, show me the least of her traces,

Treasure my lady's lightest foot-fall
--Ah, you may flout and turn up your faces-

Roses, you are not so fair after all !



Plague take all your pedants, say I!

He who wrote what I hold in my hand, Centuries back was so good as to die,

Leaving this rubbish to cumber the land; This, that was a book in its time,

Printed on paper and bound in leather, Last month in the white of a matin-prime

Just when the birds sang all together.


Into the garden I brought it to read,

And under the arbute and laurustine Read it, so help me grace in my need,

From title-page to closing line. Chapter on chapter did I count,

As a curious traveller counts Stonehenge ; Added up the mortal amount;

And then proceeded to my revenge.


Yonder’s a plum-tree, with a crevice

An owl would build in, were he but sage; For a lap of moss, like a fine pont-levis

In a castle of the middle age, Joins to a lip of gum, pure amber;

When he'd be private, there might he spend Hours alone in his lady's chamber:

Into this crevice I dropped our friend.




Splash, went he, as under he ducked,

-I knew at the bottom rain-drippings stagnate ; Next, a handful of blossoms I plucked

To bury him with, my bookshelf's magnate; Then I went indoors, brought out a loaf,

Half a cheese, and a bottle of Chablis ; Lay on the grass and forgot the oaf

Over a jolly chapter of Rabelais.




Now, this morning, betwixt the moss

And gum that locked our friend in limbo, A spider had spun his web across,

And sate in the midst with arms a-kimbo; So, I took pity, for learning's sake,

And, de profundis, accentibus lætis, Cantate! quoth I, as I got a rake,

And up I fished his delectable treatise.

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