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fragments of'An answer to Miss Rossetti's Convent Threshhold'
- AT last I hear the voice well known;
- Doubtless the voice: now fall'n now spent,
- Now coming from the alien eaves, --
- You would not house beneath my own;
- To alien eves you fled and went, --
- Now like the bird that shapes alone
- A turn of seven notes or five,
- When skies are hard as any stone,
- The fall is o'er, told off the leaves,
- 'Tis marvel she is yet alive.
- Once it was scarce perceivèd Lent
- For orience of the daffodil;
- Once, jostling thick, the bluebell sheaves
- The peacock'd copse were known to fill;
- Through other bars it used to thrill,
- And carried me with ravishment,
- Your signal, when apart we stood,
- Tho' far or sick or heavy or still
- Or thorn-engaged, impal&eagrave;d and pent
- With just such sweet potential skill,
- Late in the green weeks of April
- Cuckoo calls cuckoo up the wood,
- Five notes or seven, late and few;
- From parts unlook'd for, alter'd, spent,
- At last I hear the voice I knew.
. . . .
- I plead: familiarness endears
- My evl words thorny with pain:
- I plead: and you will give your tears:
- I plead: and ah! how much in vain!
. . . .
- I know I mar my cause with words:
- So be it; I must maim and mar.
- Your comfort is as sharp as swords;
- And I cry out for wounded love.
- And you are gone so heavenly far
- You hear nor care of love and pain.
- My tears are but a cloud of rain;
- My passion like a foolish wind
- Lifts them a little way above.
- But you, so spherèd, see no more --
- You see but with a holier mind --
- You hear and, alter'd, do not hear
- Being a stoled apparel'd star.
- You should have been with me as near
- As halves of sweet-pea-blossom are;
- But now are fled, and hard to find
- As the last Pleiad, yea behind
- Exilèd most remote El Khor.
. . . .
- The love of women is not so strong, --
- 'Tis falsely given -- as love in men;
- A thing that weeps, enduring long:
- But mine is a dreadful leaping pain,
- Phrenzy, but edged and clear of brain
- Ruinous heart-beat, wandering, death.
- I walk towards eve our walks again;
- When lily-yellow is the west.
- Say, o'er it hangs a water-cloud
- And ravell'd into strings of rain.
- At once I struggle with my breath.
- 'The light was so, the wind so loud
- No louder, when I was with you.
- Always the time remembereth
- His very looks in other years,
- Only with us is old and new.'
- I fall, I tear and shower the weed,
- I bite my hands, my looks I shroud;
- My cry is like a bleat; a few
- Intolerable tears I bleed.
- Then is my misery full indeed:
- I die, I die, I do not live. --
- Alas! I rave, where calm is due;
- I would remember. Love, forgive.
- I cannot calm, I cannot heed.
- I storm and shock you. So I fail.
- And like a self-outwitted blast
- Fling to the convent wicket fast.
- Who would not shelter from the hail?
- But is there a place for tenderness,
- There was a charm would countervail
- The spell of woe if any could.
- Once in a drawer of Indian wood
- You folded (did you not?) your dress,
- The essence ne'er forgot the fold;
- And I esteem'd the sandal good
- And now I get some precious slips.
. . . .
- [Two pages unreadable in the manuscript --Ed.]
. . . .
- An angel came: 'The judgment done,
- Mercy is left enough for one:
- Choose, one for hell and one for heaven!'
- You cried 'But I have served thee well,
- O Lord; but I have wrought and striven;
- Duly, dear Lord, my prize is won.
- I did repent; I am forgiven.
- Give him the gift.' I cannot tell
- But all the while it seem'd to me
- I reason'd the futility.
- Or this, or else I do not love,
- I inly said; but could not move
- My fast-lodged tongue. 'To her the gift
- I yield' I would have cried. At last
- Something I said; i swooned and fell.
- The angel lifted us above.
- The bitterness of death was past,
- My love; and all was sweet and well.
. . . .
- . . . Who say that angels, in your ear
- Are heard, that cry 'She does repent',
- Let charity thus begin at home, --
- Teach me the paces that you went
- I can send up in Esau's cry;
- Tune it to words of good intent.
- This ice, this lead, this steel, this stone,
- This heart is warm to you alone;
- Make it to God. I am not spent
- So far but I have yet within
- The penetrative element
- That shall unglue the curst of sin.
- Steel may be melted and rock rent.
- Penance shall clothe me to the bone.
- Teach me the way: I will repent.
. . . .
- But grant my penitence begun;
- I need not, love, I need not break
- Remember'd sweetness. For my thought
- No house of Rimmon may I take,
- To bow but little, and worship not?
- Is not some little Bela set
- Before the mountain? -- No, not one,
- The heaven-enforcèd answer comes,
- Yea, to myself I answer make:
- Who can but barter slender sums
- By slender losses are undone;
- They breathe not who are late to run. --
- O hideous vice to haggle yet
- For more with Him who gives thee all,
- Freely forgives the monstrous debt!
- Having the infinitely great
- Therewith to hanker for the small!
- Knowledge is strong but love is sweet, --
- I found the ways were sown with salt
- Where you and I were wont to tread;
- Not further'd far my travell'd feet
- For all the miles that they were sped;
- No flowers to find, no place to halt,
- No colour in the overhead,
- No running in the river-bed;
- And passages where we used to meet, --
- Fruit-cloistered hyacinth-warding woods,
- I call'd them and I thought them then --
- When you were learner and I read,
- Are waste, and had no wholesome foods,
- Unpalateable fruits to eat.
- What have I more than other men
- For learning stored and garnerèd?
- And barely to escape the curse,
- I who was wise would be untaught,
- And fain would follow I who led.
- How shall I search, who never sought?
- How turn my passion-pastured thought
- To gentle manna and simple bread?
- Gerard Manley Hopkins
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