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ALL houses wherein men have lived and died

Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,

With feet that make no sound upon the floors. We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,

Along the passages they come and go, Impalpable impressions on the air,

A sense of something moving to and fro.
There are more guests at table than the hosts

Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,

As silent as the pictures on the wall.
The stranger at my fireside cannot see

The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear; He but perceives what is; while unto me

All that has been is visible and clear.
We have no title-deeds to house or lands;

Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,

And hold in mortmain still their old estates.
The spirit-world around this world of sense

Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense

A vital breath of more ethereal air. Our little lives are kept in equipoise

By opposite attractions and desires ; The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,

And the more noble instinct that aspires. These perturbations, this perpetual jar

Of earthly wants and aspirations high,
Come from the influence of an unseen star

An undiscovered planet in our sky.
And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud

Throws o'er the sea a floating bridge of light,
Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd

Into the realm of mystery and night, -
So from the world of spirits there descends

A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

ONCE the Emperor Charles of Spain | Forth the great campaigner came

With his swartby, grave commanders, Slowly from his canvas palace.
I forget in what campaign,
Long besieged, in mud and rain, | “Let no hand the bird molest,"
Some old frontier town of Flanders. Said he solemnly, “nor hurt her!”

Adding then, by way of jest,
Up and down the dreary camp,

“Golondrinat is my guest,
In great boots of Spanish leather, 'Tis the wife of some deserter!”
Striding with a measured tramp,
These Hidalgos, dull and damp,

Swift as bow-string speeds a shaft, Cursed the Frenchmen, cursed the Through the camp was spread the weather.


And the soldiers, as they quaffed Thus as to and fro they went,

Flemish beer at dinner, laughed Over upland and through hollow,

At the Emperor's pleasant humour. Giving their impatience vent, Perched upon the Emperor's tent,

So unharmed and unafraid In her nest, they spied a swallow.

Sat the swallow still and brooded, Yes, it was a swallow's nest,

Till the constant cannonade Built, of clay and hair of horses,

Through the walls a breach had made, Mane or tale, or dragoon's crest,

And the siege was thus concluded. Found on hedge-rows east and west,

Then the army, elsewhere bent, After skirmish of the forces.

Struck its tents as if disbanding, Then an old Hidalgo said,

Only not the Emperor's tent, As he twirled his grey mustachio, For he ordered, ere he went, “Sure this swallow overhead

Very curtly, “Leave it standing
Thinks the Emperor's tent a shed,
And the Enıperor but a Macho !" *

So it stood there all alone,

Loosely flapping, torn and tattered, Hearing his imperial name

| Till the brood was fledged and flown, Coupled with those words of malice, Singing o'er those walls of stone . Half in anger, half in shame,

| Which the cannon-shot had shattered

In the village churchyard she lies, Who shall tell us ? No one speaks ;
Dust is in her beautiful eyes,

| No colour shoots into those cheeks,
No more she breathes, nor feels, nor Either of anger or of pride,

At the rude question we have asked ; At her feet and at her head

Nor will the mystery be unmasked Lies a slave to attend the dead,

By those who are sleeping at her But their dust is white as hers.

side. Was she a lady of high degree,

Hereafter ?-And do you think to look So much in love with the vanity

On the terrible pages of that Book And foolish pomp of this world of ours; | To find her failings, faults, and errors! Or was it Christian charity,

Ah, you will then have other cares, And lowliness and humility,

In your own shortcomings and despairs, The richest and rarest of all dowers ? ! In your own secret sins and terrons !

* Macho is Spanish for mule.
+ Golondrina. A swallow is also a cant word for a deserter.

Two angels, one of Life and one of Death,

Passed o'er our village as the morning broke;
The dawn was on their faces, and beneath,

The sombre houses hearsed with plumes of smoke. Their attitude and aspect were the same,

Alike their features and their robes of white; But one was crowned with amaranth, as with flame,

And one with asphodels, like flakes of light. I saw them pause on their celestial way;

Then said I, with deep fear and doubt oppressed, “ Beat not so loud, my heart, lest thou betray

The place where thy beloved are at rest !” And he who wore the crown of asphodels,

Descending, at my door began to knock, And my soul sank within me, as in wells

The waters sink before an earthquake's shock. I recognized the nameless agony,

The terror and the tremor and the pain, That oft before had filled or haunted me,

And now returned with threefold strength again. The door I opened to my heavenly guest,

And listened, for I thought I heard God's voice; And, knowing whatsoe'er He sent was best,

Dared neither to lament nor to rejoice. Then with a smile, that filled the house with light,

“My errand is not Death, but Life," he said; And, ere I answered, passing out of sight,

On his celestial embassy he sped. 'Twas at thy door, O friend! and not at mine,

The angel with the amaranthine wreath, Pausing, descended, and with voice divine,

Whispered a word that had a sound like Death.
Then fell upon the house a sudden gloom,

A shadow on those features, fair and thin;
And softly, from that hushed and darkened room,

Two angels issued, where but one went in.
All is of God! If He but wave His hand,

The mists collect, the rain falls thick and loud, Till, with a smile of light on sea and land,

Lo! He looks back from the departing cloud. Angels of Life and Death alike are His;

Without His leave they pass no threshold o'er; Who, then, would wish or dare, believing this,

Against His messengers to shut the door?

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OLIVER BASSELIN. In the Valley of the Vire

Find an answer in each heart; Still is seen an ancient mill,

But the mirth With its gables quaint and queer,

Of this green earth
And beneath the window-sill,

Laughed and revelled in his line.
On the stone,
These words alone :

From the alehouse and the inn, “ Oliver Basselin lived here."

Opening on the narrow street,

Came the loud, convivial din, Far above it, on the steep,

Singing and applause of feet, Ruined stands the old Château ;

The laughing lays Nothing but the donjon-keep

That in those days
Left for shelter or for show,

Sang the poet Basselin.
Its vacant eyes

In the castle, cased in steel,
Stare at the skies,

Knights, who fought at Agincourt, Stare at the valley green and deep.

Watched and waited, spur on heel; Once a convent, old and brown,

But the poet sang for sport

Songs that rang
Looked, but ah ! it looks no more,

Another clang,
From the neighbouring hill-side down
On the rushing and the roar

Songs that lowlier hearts could feel.
Of the stream

In the convent, clad in grey,
Whose sunny gleam

Sat the monks in lonely cells,
Cheers the little Norman town.

Paced the cloisters, knelt to pray,

And the poet heard their bells; In that darksome mill of stone,

But his rhymes To the water's dash and din,

Found other chimes,
Careless, humble, and unknown,

Nearer to the earth than they.
Sang the poet Basselin
Songs that fill

Gone are all the barons bold,
That ancient mill

Gone are all the knights and squires, With a splendour of its own.

Gone the abbot stern and cold,

And the brotherhood of friars ; Never feeling of unrest

Not a name Broke the pleasant dream he dreamed ;

Remains to fame, Only made to be bis nest,

From those mouldering days of old !
All the lovely valley seemed ;
No desire

But the poet's memory here
Of soaring higher

Of the landscape makes a part;
Stirred or fluttered in his breast. Like the river, swift and clear,

Flows his song through many a heart; True, his songs were not divine ;

Haunting still Were not songs of that high art,

That ancient mill, Which, as winds do in the pine, In the Valley of the Vire.

How strange it seems! These Hebrews in their graves,

Close by the street of this fair seaport town,
Silent beside the never-silent waves,

At rest in all this moving up and down.

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The trees are white with dust, that o'er their sleep

Wave their broad curtains in the south wind's breath, While underneath such leafy tents they keep

The long mysterious Exodus of Death.

And these sepulchral stones, so old and brown,

That pave with level flags their burial-place, Seem like the tablets of the Law, thrown down

And broken by Moses at the mountain's base.

The very names recorded here are strange,

Of foreign accent, and of different climes; Alvares and Rivera interchange

With Abraham and Jacob of old times.

“ Blessed be God! for he created Death!”

The mourner said, “and Death is rest and peace;" Then added, in the certainty of faith,

“And giveth Life that never more shall cease.”

Closed are the portals of their Synagogue,

No Psalms of David now the silence break, No Rabbi reads the ancient Decalogue

In the grand dialect the Prophets spake.

Gone are the living, but the dead remain,

And not neglected; for a hand unseen, Scattering its bounty, like a summer-rain,

Still keeps their graves and their remembrance green.

How came they here? What burst of Christian hate,

What persecution, merciless and blind, Drove o'er the sea—that desert desolate

These Ishmaels and Hagars of mankind ?

They lived in narrow streets and lanes obscure,

Ghetto and Judenstrass, in mirk and mire; Taught in the school of patience to endure

The life of anguish and the death of fire.

All their lives long, with the unleavened bread

And bitter herbs of exile and its fears, The wasting famine of the heart they fed,

And slaked its thirst with Marah of their tears.

Anathema maranatha! was the cry

That rang from town to town, from street to street; At every gate the accursed Mordecai

Was mocked and jeered, and spurned by Christian feet.

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