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In Memoriam A.H.H.

         
            XCV.
             
      By night we linger’d on the lawn,
          For underfoot the herb was dry;
          And genial warmth; and o’er the sky
      The silvery haze of summer drawn;

      And calm that let the tapers burn
          Unwavering: not a cricket chirr’d:
          The brook alone far-off was heard,
      And on the board the fluttering urn:

      And bats went round in fragrant skies,
          And wheel’d or lit the filmy shapes
          That haunt the dusk, with ermine capes
      And woolly breasts and beaded eyes;

      While now we sang old songs that peal’d
          From knoll to knoll, where, couch’d at ease,
          The white kine glimmer’d, and the trees
      Laid their dark arms about the field.

      But when those others, one by one,
          Withdrew themselves from me and night,
          And in the house light after light
      Went out, and I was all alone,

      A hunger seized my heart; I read
          Of that glad year which once had been,
          In those fall’n leaves which kept their green,
      The noble letters of the dead:

      And strangely on the silence broke
          The silent-speaking words, and strange
          Was love’s dumb cry defying change
      To test his worth; and strangely spoke

      The faith, the vigour, bold to dwell
          On doubts that drive the coward back,
          And keen thro’ wordy snares to track
      Suggestion to her inmost cell.

      So word by word, and line by line,
          The dead man touch’d me from the past,
          And all at once it seem’d at last
      The living soul was flash’d on mine,

      And mine in this was wound, and whirl’d
          About empyreal heights of thought,
          And came on that which is, and caught
      The deep pulsations of the world,

      Æonian music measuring out
          The steps of Time–the shocks of Chance–
          The blows of Death. At length my trance
      Was cancell’d, stricken thro’ with doubt.

      Vague words! but ah, how hard to frame
          In matter-moulded forms of speech,
          Or ev’n for intellect to reach
      Thro’ memory that which I became:

      Till now the doubtful dusk reveal’d
          The knolls once more where, couch’d at ease,
          The white kine glimmer’d, and the trees
      Laid their dark arms about the field:

      And suck’d from out the distant gloom
          A breeze began to tremble o’er
          The large leaves of the sycamore,
      And fluctuate all the still perfume,

      And gathering freshlier overhead,
          Rock’d the full-foliaged elms, and swung
          The heavy-folded rose, and flung
      The lilies to and fro, and said

      ‘The dawn, the dawn,’ and died away;
          And East and West, without a breath,
          Mixt their dim lights, like life and death,
      To broaden into boundless day.
       


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