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Alone by one old populous green wall,
Tenanted by the ever-busy flies,
Grey crickets, and shy lizards, and quick spiders,
Each family of the silver-threaded moss—
Which, look through, near, this way, and it appears
A stubble-field, or a cane-brake-a marsh
Of bulrush whitening in the sun: laugh now!
Fancy the crickets, each one in his house,
Looking out, wondering at the world—or best,
Yon painted snail, with his gay shell of dew,
Travelling to see the glossy balls high up
Hung by the caterpillar, like gold lamps!
Mich. In truth we have lived carelessly and well!
Par. And shall, my perfect pair-each, trust me, born
For the other; nay, your very hair, when mixed,
Is of one hue. For where save in this nook
Shall you two walk, when I am far away,
And wish me prosperous fortune? Stay! Whene'er
That plant shall wave its tangles lightly and softly,
As a queen's languid and imperial arm
Which scatters crowns among her lovers, you
Shall be reminded to predict to me
Some great success! Ah, see! the sun sinks broad
Behind St. Saviour's: wholly gone, at last!
Fest. Now, Aureole, stay those wandering eyes awhile!
You are ours to-night at least; and while you spoke
Of Michal and her tears, the thought came back
That none could leave what he so seemed to love :
But that last look destroys my dream--that look!
As if, where'er you gazed, there stood a star!
How far was Würzburg, with its church and spire,
And garden-walls, and all things they contain,
From that look's far alighting?
And looked alike from simple joy, to see
The beings I love best, shut in so well
From all rude chances like to be my lot,
That, when afar, my weary spirit,—disposed
To lose awhile its care in soothing thoughts
Of them, their pleasant features, looks, and words,-
Need never hesitate, nor apprehend
Encroaching trouble may have reached them too,
Nor have recourse to Fancy's busy aid
To fashion even a wish in their behalf
Beyond what they possess already here;
But, unobstructed, may at once forget
Itself in them, assured how well they are.
Beside, this Festus knows, he thinks me one
Whom quiet and its charms attract in vain,
One scarce aware of all the joys I quit,
Too fill'd with airy hopes to make account
Of soft delights which free hearts garner up:
Whereas, behold how much our sense of all
That's beauteous proves alike! When Festus learns
That every common pleasure of the world
Affects me as himself; that I have just
As varied appetites for joy derived
From common things; a stake in life, in short,
Like his; a stake which rash pursuit of aims
That life affords not, would as soon destroy ;-
He may convince himself, that, this in view,
I shall act well advised and last, because,
Though heaven and earth, and all things, were at stake,
Sweet Michal must not weep, our parting eve!
Fest. True: and the eve is deepening, and we sit
As little anxious to begin our talk
As though to-morrow I could open it
As we paced arm in arm the cheerful town
At sun-dawn; and continue it by fits
(Old Tritheim busied with his class the while)
In that dim chamber where the noon-streaks peer
Half frightened by the awful tomes around;
And here at home unbosom all the rest
From even-blush to midnight: but, to-morrow!
Have I full leave to tell my inmost mind?
We two were brothers, and henceforth the world
Will rise between us :-all my freest mind?
'Tis the last night, dear Aureole!
Devise some test of love-some arduous feat
To be performed for you-say on! If night
Be spent the while, the better! Recall how oft
My wondrous plans, and dreams, and hopes, and fears,
Have never wearied you... oh, no! . . . as I
Recall, and never vividly as now,
Your true affection, born when Einsiedeln
And its green hills were all the world to us,
And still increasing to this night, which ends
My further stay at Würzburg... Oh, one day
You shall be very proud! Say on, dear friends!
Fest. In truth? "Tis for my proper peace, indeed, Rather than yours; for vain all projects seem
To stay your course: I said my latest hope
Is fading even now.
A story tells
Of some far embassy despatched to buy
The favour of an eastern king, and how
The gifts they offered proved but dazzling dust
Shed from the ore-beds native to his clime:
Just so, the value of repose and love,
I meant should tempt you, better far than I
You seem to comprehend-and yet desist
No whit from projects where repose nor love
Par. Once more? Alas! as I forbode !
Fest. A solitary briar the bank puts forth To save our swan's nest floating out to sea.
Par. Dear Festus, hear me. What is it you wish ? That I should lay aside my heart's pursuit,
Abandon the sole ends for which I live,
Reject God's great commission-and so die!
You bid me listen for your true love's sake:
Yet how has grown that love? Even in a long
And patient cherishing of the selfsame spirit
It now would quell; as though a mother hoped
To stay the lusty manhood of the child
her knees. I was not born
Informed and fearless from the first, but shrank
From aught which marked me out apart from men :
I would have lived their life, and died their death,
Lost in their ranks, eluding destiny:
But you first guided me through doubt and fear,
Taught me to know mankind and know myself;
And now that I am strong and full of hope,
That, from my soul, I can reject all aims
Save those your earnest words made plain to me;
Now, that I touch the brink of my design,
When I would have a triumph in their eyes,
A glad cheer in their voices-Michal weeps,
And Festus ponders gravely!
Beforehand all this evening's conference!
'Tis this way, Michal, that he uses: first,
Or he declares, or I, the leading points
Of our best scheme of life, what is man's end,
And what God's will-no two faiths e'er agreed
As his with mine: next, each of us allows
Faith should be acted on as best we may :
Accordingly, I venture to submit
A plan, in lack of better, for pursuing
The path which God's will seems to authorize :
Well-he discerns much good in it, avows
This motive worthy, that hope plausible,
A danger here, to be avoided-there,