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XVIII.

They grubbed with a will: and at length - O cor Humanum, pectora cæca, and the rest!

They found

no gaud they were prying for,

No ring, no rose, but - who would have guessed?

A double Louis-d'or!

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XIX.

Here was a case for the priest: he heard,
Marked, inwardly digested, laid
Finger on nose, smiled, "A little bird
Chirps in my ear:" then, "Bring a spade,
Dig deeper! - he
gave the word.

XX.

And lo, when they came to the coffin-lid,
Or rotten planks which composed it once,
Why, there lay the girl's skull wedged amid
A mint of money, it served for the nonce
To hold in its hair-heaps hid!

XXI.

Hid there? Why? Could the girl be wont
(She the stainless soul) to treasure up
Money, earth's trash and heaven's affront?
Had a spider found out the communion-cup,
Was a toad in the christening-font?

XXII.

Truth is truth: too true it was.

Gold! She hoarded and hugged it first, Longed for it, leaned o'er it, loved it- - alas Till the humor grew to a head and burst, And she cried, at the final pass,

XXIII.

"Talk not of God, my heart is stone!

Nor lover nor friend — be gold for both! Gold I lack; and, my all, my own,

It shall hide in my hair. I scarce die loth If they let my hair alone!"

XXIV.

Louis-d'ors, some six times five,

And duly double, every piece.

Now, do you see? With the priest to shrive,
With parents preventing her soul's release
By kisses that kept alive,

XXV.

With heaven's gold gates about to ope,

With friends' praise, gold-like, lingering still, An instinct had bidden the girl's hand grope

For gold, the true sort "Gold in heaven, if you will; But I keep earth's too, I hope."

XXVI.

Enough! The priest took the grave's grim yield:
The parents, they eyed that price of sin

As if thirty pieces lay revealed

On the place to bury strangers in,

The hideous Potters' Field.

XXVII.

But the priest bethought him: "Milk that's spilt '
You know the adage! Watch and pray!
Saints tumble to earth with so slight a tilt!
It would build a new altar; that, we may!"
And the altar therewith was built.

XXVIII.

Why I deliver this horrible verse?

As the text of a sermon, which now I preach: Evil or good may be better or worse

In the human heart, but the mixture of each Is a marvel and a curse.

XXIX.

The candid incline to surmise of late

That the Christian faith may be false, I find; For our Essays-and-Reviews' debate

Begins to tell on the public mind, And Colenso's words have weight:

XXX.

I still, to suppose it true, for my part,

See reasons and reasons; this, to begin : 'Tis the faith that launched point-blank her dart At the head of a lie taught Original Sin,

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The Corruption of Man's Heart.

THE WORST OF IT.

I.

WOULD it were I had been false, not you!
I that am nothing, not you that are all :
I, never the worse for a touch or two

On my speckled hide; not you, the pride
Of the day, my swan, that a first fleck's fall
On her wonder of white must unswan, undo!

II.

I had dipped in life's struggle and, out again,
Bore specks of it here, there, easy to see,
When I found my swan and the cure was plain;
The dull turned bright as I caught your white
bosom: you saved me saved in vain
If you ruined yourself, and all through me!

On my

III.

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Yes, all through the speckled beast that I am,
Who taught you to stoop; you gave me yourself,
And bound your soul by the vows that damn:
Since on better thought you break, as you ought,
Vows - words, no angel set down, some elf
Mistook, for an oath, an epigram!

IV.

Yes, might I judge you, here were my heart,
And a hundred its like, to treat as you pleased!

I choose to be yours, for my proper part,

Yours, leave or take, or mar me or make;

If I acquiesce, why should you be teased

With the conscience-prick and the memory-smart?

V.

But what will God say ? Oh, my sweet,
Think, and be sorry you did this thing!
Though earth were unworthy to feel your feet,
There's a heaven above may deserve your love:
Should forfeit heaven for a snapt gold ring

you

And a promise broke, were it just or meet?

VI.

And I to have tempted you! I, who tried
Your soul, no doubt, till it sank! Unwise,

I loved, and was lowly, loved and aspired,
Loved, grieving or glad, till I made you mad,
And you meant to have hated and despised
Whereas, you deceived me nor inquired!

VII.

She, ruined? How? No heaven for her?
Crowns to give, and none for the brow
That looked like marble and smelt like myrrh?
Shall the robe be worn, and the palm-branch borne,
And she go graceless, she graced now

Beyond all saints, as themselves aver?

VIII.

Hardly! That must be understood!

The earth is your place of penance, then;
And what will it prove? I desire your good,
But, plot as I may, I can find no way
How a blow should fall, such as falls on men,
Nor prove too much for your womanhood.

IX.

It will come, I suspect, at the end of life,

When you walk alone, and review the past; And I, who so long shall have done with strife, And journeyed my stage and earned my wage And retired as was right, I am called at last When the devil stabs you, to lend the knife.

X.

He stabs for the minute of trivial wrong,
Nor the other hours are able to save,
The happy, that lasted my whole life long :

For a promise broke, not for first words spoke,

The true, the only, that turn my grave

To a blaze of joy and a crash of song.

XI.

Witness beforehand! Off I trip

On a safe path gay through the flowers you flung:

My very name made great by your lip,

And my heart aglow with the good I know

Of a perfect year when we both were young,

And I tasted the angels' fellowship,

And witness, moreover

XII.

Ah, but wait!

I spy the loop whence an arrow shoots! It may be for yourself, when you meditate, for slain ruth, murdered truth: "Though falsehood escape in the end, what boots? How truth would have triumphed!

That you grieve

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XIII.

- you sigh too late.

Ay, who would have triumphed like you, I say!
Well, it is lost now; well, you must bear,

Abide and grow fit for a better day:

You should hardly grudge, could I be your judge! But hush! For you, can be no despair:

There's amends: 't is a secret: hope and pray!

For I was true at least

XIV.

oh, true enough!

And, Dear, truth is not as good as it seems! Commend me to conscience!

Idle stuff!

Much help is in mine, as I mope and pine, And skulk through day, and scowl in my dreams At my swan's obtaining the crow's rebuff.

XV.

Men tell me of truth now "False!" I cry:
Of beauty-"A mask, friend! Look beneath!
We take our own method, the devil and I,
With pleasant and fair and wise and rare:
And the best we wish to what lives, is
Which even in wishing, perhaps we lie!

Dear!

XVI.

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death;

Far better commit a fault and have done
As
you,
forever; and choose the
And look where the healing waters run,
And strive and strain to be good again,
And a place in the other world ensure,
All glass and gold, with God for its sun.

XVII.

Misery! What shall I say or do ?

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I cannot advise, or, at least, persuade :
Most like, you are glad you deceived me
No whit of the wrong: you endured too long,

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