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Four Sonnets


[Inscribed to S.F.S., because the second is about her father.]



I.

They say that lonely sorrows do not chance.
I think it true, and that the cause I know:
A sorrow glideth in a funeral show
Easier than if it broke into a dance.
But I think too, that joy doth joy enhance
As often as an added grief brings low;
And if keen-eyed to see the flowers that grow,
As keen of nerve to feel the thorns that lance
The foot that must walk naked in one way--
Blest by the lily, white from toils and fears,
Oftener than wounded by the thistle-spears,
We should walk upright, bold, and earnest-gay.
I'll tell you how it fared with me one day
After noon in a world, so-called, of tears.


II.

I went to listen to my teacher friend.
O Friend above, thanks for the friend below!
Who having been made wise, deep things to know,
With brooding spirit over them doth bend,
Until they waken words, as wings, to send
Their seeds far forth, seeking a place to grow.
The lesson past, with quiet foot I go,
And towards his silent room, expectant wend,
Seeking a blessing, even leave to dwell
For some eternal minutes in his eyes.
And he smiled on me in his loving wise;
His hand spoke friendship, satisfied me well;
My presence was some pleasure, I could tell.
Then forth we went beneath the smoky skies.


III.

I, strengthened, left him. Next in a close place,
Mid houses crowded, dingy, barred, and high,
Where men live not except to sell and buy,
To me, leaving a doorway, came a grace.
(Surely from heaven she came, though all that race
Walketh on human feet beneath the sky.)
I, going on, beheld not who was nigh,
When a sweet girl looked up into my face
With earnest eyes, most maidenly sedate--
Looked up to me, as I to him did look:
'Twas much to me whom sometimes men mistook.
She asked me where we dwelt, that she might wait
Upon us there. I told her, and elate,
Went on my way to seek another nook.


IV.

And there I found him whom I went to find,
A man of noble make and head uplift,
Of equal carriage, Nature's bounteous gift;
For in no shelter had his generous mind
Grown flowers that need the winds, rough not unkind.
The joiner's bench taught him, with judgment swift,
Seen things to fashion, unseen things to sift;
From all his face a living soul outshined,
Telling of strength and inward quietude;
His great hand shook mine greatly, and his eyes
Looked straight in mine with spiritual replies:
I left him, rich with overflowing good.
Such joys within two hours of happy mood,
Met me beneath the everlasting skies.



George MacDonald