In Memoriam A. H. H.: 131. O Living Will That Shalt Endure

O living will that shalt endure
       When all that seems shall suffer shock,
       Rise in the spiritual rock,
   Flow thro’ our deeds and make them pure,
   That we may lift from out of dust
       A voice as unto him that hears,
       A cry above the conquer’d years
   To one that with us works, and trust,
   With faith that comes of self-control,
      The truths that never can be proved
      Until we close with all we loved,
  And all we flow from, soul in soul.———
  O true and tried, so well and long,
      Demand not thou a marriage lay;
      In that it is thy marriage day
  Is music more than any song.
  Nor have I felt so much of bliss
      Since first he told me that he loved
      A daughter of our house; nor proved
  Since that dark day a day like this;
  Tho’ I since then have number’d o’er
      Some thrice three years: they went and came,
      Remade the blood and changed the frame,
  And yet is love not less, but more;
  No longer caring to embalm
      In dying songs a dead regret,
      But like a statue solid-set,
  And moulded in colossal calm.
  Regret is dead, but love is more
      Than in the summers that are flown,
      For I myself with these have grown
  To something greater than before;
  Which makes appear the songs I made
      As echoes out of weaker times,
      As half but idle brawling rhymes,
  The sport of random sun and shade.
  But where is she, the bridal flower,
      That must be made a wife ere noon?
      She enters, glowing like the moon
  Of Eden on its bridal bower:
  On me she bends her blissful eyes
      And then on thee; they meet thy look
      And brighten like the star that shook
  Betwixt the palms of paradise.
  O when her life was yet in bud,
      He too foretold the perfect rose.
      For thee she grew, for thee she grows
  For ever, and as fair as good.
  And thou art worthy; full of power;
      As gentle; liberal-minded, great,
      Consistent; wearing all that weight
  Of learning lightly like a flower.
  But now set out: the noon is near,
      And I must give away the bride;
      She fears not, or with thee beside
  And me behind her, will not fear.
  For I that danced her on my knee,
      That watch’d her on her nurse’s arm,
      That shielded all her life from harm
   At last must part with her to thee;
  Now waiting to be made a wife,
      Her feet, my darling, on the dead;
      Their pensive tablets round her head,
  And the most living words of life
  Breathed in her ear. The ring is on,
      The “wilt thou” answer’d, and again
      The “wilt thou” ask’d, till out of twain
  Her sweet “I will” has made you one.
  Now sign your names, which shall be read,
      Mute symbols of a joyful morn,
      By village eyes as yet unborn;
  The names are sign’d, and overhead
  Begins the clash and clang that tells
      The joy to every wandering breeze;
      The blind wall rocks, and on the trees
  The dead leaf trembles to the bells.
  O happy hour, and happier hours
      Await them. Many a merry face
      Salutes them—maidens of the place,
  That pelt us in the porch with flowers.
  O happy hour, behold the bride
      With him to whom her hand I gave.
      They leave the porch, they pass the grave
  That has to-day its sunny side.
  To-day the grave is bright for me,
      For them the light of life increased,
      Who stay to share the morning feast,
  Who rest to-night beside the sea.
  Let all my genial spirits advance
      To meet and greet a whiter sun;
      My drooping memory will not shun
  The foaming grape of eastern France.
  It circles round, and fancy plays,
      And hearts are warm’d and faces bloom,
      As drinking health to bride and groom
  We wish them store of happy days.
  Nor count me all to blame if I
      Conjecture of a stiller guest,
      Perchance, perchance, among the rest,
 And, tho’ in silence, wishing joy.
 But they must go, the time draws on,
    And those white-favour’d horses wait;
    They rise, but linger; it is late;
 Farewell, we kiss, and they are gone.
 A shade falls on us like the dark
    From little cloudlets on the grass,
    But sweeps away as out we pass
 To range the woods, to roam the park,
 Discussing how their courtship grew,
    And talk of others that are wed,
    And how she look’d, and what he said,
 And back we come at fall of dew.
 Again the feast, the speech, the glee,
    The shade of passing thought, the wealth
    Of words and wit, the double health,
 The crowning cup, the three-times-three,
 And last the dance,—till I retire:
    Dumb is that tower which spake so loud,
    And high in heaven the streaming cloud,
 And on the downs a rising fire:
 And rise, O moon, from yonder down,
    Till over down and over dale
    All night the shining vapour sail
 And pass the silent-lighted town,
 The white-faced halls, the glancing rills,
    And catch at every mountain head,
    And o’er the friths that branch and spread
 Their sleeping silver thro’ the hills;
 And touch with shade the bridal doors,
    With tender gloom the roof, the wall;
    And breaking let the splendour fall
 To spangle all the happy shores
 By which they rest, and ocean sounds,
    And, star and system rolling past,
    A soul shall draw from out the vast
 And strike his being into bounds,
 And, moved thro’ life of lower phase,
    Result in man, be born and think,
    And act and love, a closer link
 Betwixt us and the crowning race
 Of those that, eye to eye, shall look
    On knowledge; under whose command
    Is Earth and Earth’s, and in their hand
 Is Nature like an open book;
 No longer half-akin to brute,
    For all we thought and loved and did,
    And hoped, and suffer’d, is but seed
 Of what in them is flower and fruit;
 Whereof the man, that with me trod
    This planet, was a noble type
    Appearing ere the times were ripe,
 That friend of mine who lives in God,
 That God, which ever lives and loves,
    One God, one law, one element,
    And one far-off divine event,
 To which the whole creation moves.
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