H. V. Ellis

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In Life's dim mists of morning thou dost seem
To Childhood's eyes a giant vague and vast,
A shade across the dewy meadow cast
A blot upon the level-darting beam.

Day comes apace, and like a fearful dream
Thou shrinkest; and Youth smiles, deeming thee past;
And Manhood recks not of thee; till at last
Thou comest again, a speck borne down the stream.

Larger thou growest, and we see thee now,
No foe, but one whose silent plying wing
Shall bear us from the swiftly fading shore;
Thou comest; our head upon our breast we bow;
And in our ears remembered voices ring;
Thy arms enfold us; and we know no more.


The mystic berry from the Druid's tree,
Or limpet from the rock, more easily,
Or ivy from its mated wall, shall part,
Than man from whom he loves, than heart from heart.
Oh the wild ecstasy! the wildering pain!
To bid adieu; and know that ne'er again
The hand you hold, the loving voice you hear,
Shall grasp your own on earth, or charm your ear:
The lingering clasp of the last fond embrace;
The lingering gaze on the fast fading face;
The faltering tongue; the frozen memory;
The stunning sense of lonely misery;--
Ah, who shall ever find the words to tell
The agony of those that take a last farewell?

On a Lee Shore

Let be; of mercy! love, let go the clasp
Which yet has held thy beauty bound by me,--
A graceful bark beside a sombre quay--
Already now the waters sob and gasp
To dash and crush thee on me, and to grasp
My tender treasure which by night and day,
Seen or unseen, against me throbbing lay:
Near me thou diest: love, let go thy clasp.

Spread thy white-bosomed sail unto the breeze;
And I, like one who waving farewells, stands
And stretches arms whither arms cannot reach,
Must yearn to watch thee far upon the seas,
At ebb across the weary level sands,
At flood across the weary moaning beach.

At Dawn

One moment, Night fold up thy wings again;
And cast upon mine eyes the shadow of sleep;
And in thy breath once more my senses steep;
And draw once more thy clouds about my brain,
Whereon who looketh may forget his pain:
For floating there even now my Mistress bent
Her lips towards me, as on speech intent,
For which my whole soul gasped as flowers for rain.

Then at the rustle of thy wings she fled
Frighted; and, though with hope to stay her flight,
I thrice called out, she vanished out of sight:
Bid her return that so her speech be said.
(The day is up, a voice is in the trees,
And I am I, and she is over seas.)

To Matthew Arnold

Sweet singer, who among thy poet's bays
Some bitter-fragrant herb has intertwined,
Who round about thy throbbing lyre dost bind
Some scent which, stealing with thy happiest lays
Down to the heart's deep-secret core, doth raise
A subtle ache their sweetness cannot still,
A yearning that they cannot all fulfil,
That lives and sleeps and lives through many days.

Though restless youth and age unrested bring
Their discontents, though many things seem to lie;
Yet, God be praised, we cannot wholly die
Whilst such as thou, such as thy father sing,
And point us still to such landmarks as these,
Monica, Obermann, Empedocles.

Half-mast High

The fierce sun smote him and went glorying down,
And ere the gloaming died his spirit fled;
The southern night burst into stars o'erhead,
Nor ruffled any wavelet to a frown;
Till morning from beneath her golden crown
Smiled on the half-mast ensign fluttering death
To beating pulses and to bated breath,
As if her smile could smile men's sorrow down.

Slow tolls the bell, the slow procession creeps;
Kind women's eyes are wet, hard men's are grave,
A voice commits our brother to the deeps,
A plash divides the hollow gulfing wave;
Still plies the van, still on the vessel speeds;
Nor ship, nor sea, nor sun, our sorrow heeds.