The Lady of Shallot

I am half-sick of shadows, said the lady of shalott
John William Waterhouse, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


LOVE thou thy land, with love far-brought
⁠From out the storied Past, and used
⁠Within the Present, but transfused
Thro’ future time by power of thought.

True love turn’d round on fixed poles,
⁠Love, that endures not sordid ends,
⁠For English natures, freemen, friends,
Thy brothers and immortal souls.

But pamper not a hasty time,
⁠Nor feed with crude imaginings
⁠The herd, wild hearts and feeble wings.
That every sophister can lime.
Deliver not the tasks of might
⁠To weakness, neither hide the ray
⁠From those, not blind, who wait for day,
Though sitting girt with doubtful light.

Make knowledge circle with the winds;
⁠But let her herald, Reverence, fly
⁠Before her to whatever sky
Bear seed of men and growth of minds.

Watch what main-currents draw the years:
⁠Cut Prejudice against the grain:
⁠But gentle words are always gain:
Regard the weakness of thy peers:

Nor toil for title, place, or touch
⁠Of pension, neither count on praise:
⁠It grows to guerdon after-days:
Nor deal in watchwords overmuch;
Not clinging to some ancient saw;
⁠Not master’d by some modern term;
⁠Not swift nor slow to change, but firm:
And in its season bring the law;

That from Discussion’s lip may fall
⁠With Life, that, working strongly, binds—
⁠Set in all lights by many minds,
To close the interests of all.

For Nature also, cold and warm,
⁠And moist and dry, devising long,
⁠Thro’ many agents making strong,
Matures the individual form.

Meet is it changes should control
⁠Our being, lest we rust in ease.
⁠We all are changed by still degrees,
All but the basis of the soul.
So let the change which comes be free
⁠To ingroove itself with that, which flies,
⁠And work, a joint of state, that plies
Its office, moved with sympathy.

A saying, hard to shape in act;
⁠For all the past of Time reveals
⁠A bridal dawn of thunder-peals,
Wherever Thought hath wedded Fact.

Ev’n now we hear with inward strife
⁠A motion toiling in the gloom—
⁠The Spirit of the years to come
Yearning to mix himself with Life.

A slow-develop’d strength awaits
⁠Completion in a painful school;
⁠Phantoms of other forms of rule,
New Majesties of mighty States—
The warders of the growing hour,
⁠But vague in vapour, hard to mark;
⁠And round them sea and air are dark
With great contrivances of Power.

Of many changes, aptly join’d,
⁠Is bodied forth the second whole.
⁠Regard gradation, lest the soul
Of Discord race the rising wind;

A wind to puff your idol-fires,
⁠And heap their ashes on the head;
⁠To shame the boast so often made,
That we are wiser than our sires.

Oh yet, if Nature’s evil star
⁠Drive men in manhood, as in youth,
⁠To follow flying steps of Truth
Across the brazen bridge of war—
If New and Old, disastrous feud,
⁠Must ever shock, like armed foes,
⁠And this be true, till Time shall close,
That Principles are rain’d in blood;

Not yet the wise of heart would cease
⁠To hold his hope thro’ shame and guilt,
⁠But with his hand against the hilt,
Would pace the troubled land, like Peace;

Not less, though dogs of Faction bay,
⁠Would serve his kind in deed and word,
⁠Certain, if knowledge bring the sword,
That knowledge takes the sword away—

Would love the gleams of good that broke
⁠From either side, nor veil his eyes:
⁠And if some dreadful need should rise
Would strike, and firmly, and one stroke:
To-morrow yet would reap to-day,
⁠As we bear blossom of the dead:
⁠Earn well the thrifty months, nor wed
Raw Haste, half-sister to Delay.

The Lady of Shalott
John William Waterhouse, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Jethro 2023