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Poems — Volume 2   By: (1828-1909)

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Poems by George Meredith Volume 2

TO J. M.

Let Fate or Insufficiency provide Mean ends for men who what they are would be: Penned in their narrow day no change they see Save one which strikes the blow to brutes and pride. Our faith is ours and comes not on a tide: And whether Earth's great offspring, by decree, Must rot if they abjure rapacity, Not argument but effort shall decide. They number many heads in that hard flock: Trim swordsmen they push forth: yet try thy steel. Thou, fighting for poor humankind, wilt feel The strength of Roland in thy wrist to hew A chasm sheer into the barrier rock, And bring the army of the faithful through.

LINES TO A FRIEND VISITING AMERICA

I

Now farewell to you! you are One of my dearest, whom I trust: Now follow you the Western star, And cast the old world off as dust.

II

From many friends adieu! adieu! The quick heart of the word therein. Much that we hope for hangs with you: We lose you, but we lose to win.

III

The beggar king, November, frets: His tatters rich with Indian dyes Goes hugging: we our season's debts Pay calmly, of the Spring forewise.

IV

We send our worthiest; can no less, If we would now be read aright, To that great people who may bless Or curse mankind: they have the might.

V

The proudest seasons find their graves, And we, who would not be wooed, must court. We have let the blunderers and the waves Divide us, and the devil had sport.

VI

The blunderers and the waves no more Shall sever kindred sending forth Their worthiest from shore to shore For welcome, bent to prove their worth.

VII

Go you and such as you afloat, Our lost kinsfellowship to revive. The battle of the antidote Is tough, though silent: may you thrive!

VIII

I, when in this North wind I see The straining red woods blown awry, Feel shuddering like the winter tree, All vein and artery on cold sky.

IX

The leaf that clothed me is torn away; My friend is as a flying seed. Ay, true; to bring replenished day Light ebbs, but I am bare, and bleed.

X

What husky habitations seem These comfortable sayings! they fell, In some rich year become a dream: So cries my heart, the infidel! . . .

XI

Oh! for the strenuous mind in quest, Arabian visions could not vie With those broad wonders of the West, And would I bid you stay? Not I!

XII

The strange experimental land Where men continually dare take Niagara leaps; unshattered stand 'Twixt fall and fall; for conscience' sake,

XIII

Drive onward like a flood's increase; Fresh rapids and abysms engage; (We live we die) scorn fireside peace, And, as a garment, put on rage,

XIV

Rather than bear God's reprimand, By rearing on a full fat soil Concrete of sin and sloth; this land, You will observe it coil in coil.

XV

The land has been discover'd long, The people we have yet to know; Themselves they know not, save that strong For good and evil still they grow.

XVI

Nor know they us. Yea, well enough In that inveterate machine Through which we speak the printed stuff Daily, with voice most hugeous, mien

XVII

Tremendous: as a lion's show The grand menagerie paintings hide: Hear the drum beat, the trombones blow! The poor old Lion lies inside! . . .

XVIII

It is not England that they hear, But mighty Mammon's pipers, trained To trumpet out his moods, and stir His sluggish soul: HER voice is chained:

XIX

Almost her spirit seems moribund! O teach them, 'tis not she displays The panic of a purse rotund, Eternal dread of evil days,

XX

That haunting spectre of success Which shows a heart sunk low in the girths: Not England answers nobleness, 'Live for thyself: thou art not earth's.'

XXI

Not she, when struggling manhood tries For freedom, air, a hopefuller fate, Points out the planet, Compromise, And shakes a mild reproving pate:

XXII

Says never: 'I am well at ease, My sneers upon the weak I shed: The strong have my cajoleries: And those beneath my feet I tread.'

XXIII

Nay, but 'tis said for her, great Lord! The misery's there! The shameless one Adjures mankind to sheathe the sword, Herself not yielding what it won:

XXIV

Her sermon at cock crow doth preach, On sweet Prosperity or greed... Continue reading book >>


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