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HORTON

The other night I lay within my bed,
Watching my dying fire: it mouldered out.
I listened to the strange nocturnal cries :
A ballad-singer ’neath my window stood,

And
sang
hoarse

songs ;

she went

away,

and then

An oyster-man came crying through the streets ; And straight, as if I stood on dusky shores,

I saw the tremulous silver of the sea

Set to some coast beneath the mighty moon.
He passed into the silence. Wafts of song
From arm-linked youths, as they meandered home,
Came to my ears; the town grew still ; and then,

Just when my soul was sinking into dream,
Alarm of “ Fire!” ran through the startled street,
And windows were thrown up as it went past.
A hasty engine tore along, and trailed
A lengthening crowd behind. “ Ah, ha,”. I thought,
66 That maniac, Fire, is loose; who was so tame,
When little children looked into his face,
He laughed and blinked within his prison-grate.
His fit is on; the merry winking elf
Has rushed into a hungry crimson fiend :
Now he will seize a house, crush in the roof,
And leap and dance above his prey, and throw
His roaring flickering arms across the sky-
May he be bound again !” The tumult scared
Soft-plumaged Silence, and, when it was gone,
She settled down again with outspread wings
Upon the place she left. That angel Sleep,
Who blunts the edge of pain, who brings from Heaven
The dead ones to us,

took
my

hand in his,

And led me down unto the under-world.

We stood beside a drowsy-creeping stream Which ever through a land of twilight stole Unrippled, smooth as oil. It slipped 'tween cliffs

’ Gloomy with pines that ne'er were vexed with wind. The cliffs stood deep in dream. The stream slid on, Nor murmured in its sleep. There was no noise ; The winds were folded o'er that drowsy place; The poppies hung unstirred. I asked its name. Sleep murmured “ Lethe.” “ Drink of it,” I thought, “ And all my past shall be washed out at once.” I knelt, and lifted pale beseeching hands“ I have drunk poison, and can sleep no more ; Give me this water, for I would forget.” But Sleep stood silent, and his eyes were closed. “ Give me this water, for I would forget; Give me this precious water, that I may Bear to my brothers in the upper-world, And they shall call me happy,'Sent of God, And Earth shall rest.” Sleep answered, “ Every night

" When I am sitting 'neath the lonely stars,

6

6

The world within my lap, I hear it mourn
Like a sick child ; something afflicts it sore,
I cannot give it rest.” Upon these words
I hid my face awhile, then cried aloud,
“No one can give forgetfulness; not one.
No one can tell me who can give it me.
I asked of Joy, as he went laughing past,
Crushing a bunch of grapes against his lips,
And suddenly the light forsook his face,

His orbs were blind with tearshe could not tell.

I asked of Grief, as with red eyes he came
From a sweet infant's bier; and at the sound
He started, shook his head, with quick hand drew
His mantle o'er his face, and turned away
'Mong the blue twilight-mists.” Sleep did not raise
His heavy lids, but in a drowsy voice,
Like murmur of a leafy sycamore
When bees are swarming in the glimmering leaves,
Said, “ I've a younger brother, very wise,
Silent and still, who ever dwells alone-

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His name is Death: seek him, and he may

know."

I cried, “O angel, is there no one else ?"

But Sleep stood silent, and his eyes were closed.

Methought, when I awoke, “ We have two lives ; The soul of man is like the rolling world, One half in day, the other dipt in night; The one has music and the flying cloud, The other, silence and the wakeful stars.” I drew my window-curtains, and instead Of the used yesterday, there laughing stood A new-born morning from the Infinite Before my very

heart leaped up. Inexorable Labour called me forth;

face; my

And as I hurried through the busy streets,

There was a sense of envy

in
my

heart

Of lazy lengths of rivers in the sun,
Larks soaring up the ever-soaring sky,
And mild kine couched in fields of uncrushed dew.

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