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O! He gives to us His joy
That our grief He may destroy;
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.

THE BOOK OF THEL

Thel's Motto

Does the Eagle know what is in the pit:
Or wilt thou go ask the Mole?
Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod,
Or Love in a golden bowl?

I The daughters of [the] Seraphim led round their sunny

flocks— All but the youngest: she in paleness sought the secret air, To fade away like morning be from her mortal day: Down by the river of Adona her soft voice is heard, And thus her gentle lamentation falls like morning dew:

‘O life of this our spring! why fades the lotus of the water? Why fade these children of the spring, born bút to smile

and fall ? Ah! Thel is like a watery bow, and like a parting cloud; Like a reflection in a glass; like shadows in the water; Like dreams of infants, like a smile upon an infant's face; Like the dove's voice; like transient day; like music in

the air. Ah! gentle may I lay me down, and gentle rest my head, And gentle sleep the sleep of death, and gentle hear the

voice Of Him that walketh in the garden in the evening time.' The Lily of the Valley, breathing in the humble grass, Answerèd the lovely maid and said: 'I am a wat'ry weed, And I am very small, and love to dwell in lowly vales; So weak, the gilded butterfly scarce perches on my head. Yet I am visited from heaven, and He that smiles on all Walks in the valley, and each morn over me spreads His

hand,

Saying, "Rejoice, thou humble grass, thou new-born lily

flower, Thou gentle maid of silent valleys and of modest brooks; For thou shalt be clothed in light, and fed with morning

manna, Till summer's heat melts thee beside the fountains and the

springs, To flourish in eternal vales.” Then why should Thel com

plain? Why should the mistress of the vales of Har utter a sigh ??

She ceased, and smiled in tears, then sat down in her

silver shrine.

Thel answered: 'O thou little Virgin of the peaceful valley, Giving to those that cannot crave, the voiceless, the o'er

tired;

Thy breath doth nourish the innocent lamb, he smells thy

milky garments, He crops thy flowers while thou sittest smiling in his face, Wiping his mild and meekin mouth from all contagious

taints. Thy wine doth purify the golden honey; thy perfume, Which thou dost scatter on every little blade of grass that

springs, Revives the milked cow, and tames the fire-breathing steed. But Thel is like a faint cloud kindled at the rising sun: I vanish from my pearly throne, and who shall find my

place?

'Queen of the vales,' the Lily answered, 'ask the tender

Cloud, And it shall tell thee why it glitters in the morning sky, And why it scatters its bright beauty through the humid

air. Descend, O little Cloud, and hover before the eyes of

Thel.'

The Cloud descended, and the Lily bowed her modest head, And went to mind her numerous charge among the verdant

grass.

II

'O little Cloud,' the Virgin said, 'I charge thee tell to me Why thou complainest not, when in one hour thou fade

away; Then we shall seek thee, but not find. Ah! Thel is like

to thee: I pass away; yet I complain, and no one hears my voice.'

The Cloud then showed his golden head, and his bright

form emerged, Hovering and glittering on the air before the face of

Thel. O Virgin, know'st thou not our steeds drink of the golden

springs Where Luvah doth renew his horses? Look'st thou on

my youth, And fearest thou, because I vanish and am seen no more, Nothing remains ? O maid, I tell thee, when I pass away, It is to tenfold life, to love, to peace, and raptures holy: Unseen descending, weigh my light wings upon balmy

flowers, And court the fair-eyed dew, to take me to her shining

tent: The weeping virgin, trembling, kneels before the risen

sun, Till we arise, linked in a golden band and never part, But walk united, bearing food to all our tender flowers.'

Dost thou, O little Cloud ? I fear that I am not like thee, For I walk through the vales of Har, and smell the sweetest

flowers, But I feed not the little flowers; I hear the warbling birds, But I feed not the warbling birds; they fly and seek their

food: But Thel delights in these no more, because I fade away; And all shall say, “Without a use this shining woman

lived, Or did she only live to be at death the food of worms?” !

The Cloud reclined upon his airy throne, and answered

thus:

'Then if thou art the food of worms, O Virgin of the skies, How great thy use, how great thy blessing! Everything

that lives Lives not alone nor for itself. Fear not, and I will call The weak Worm from its lowly bed, and thou shalt hear

its voice. Come forth, Worm of the silent valley, to thy pensive

Queen.'

The helpless Worm arose, and sat upon the Lily's leaf, And the bright Cloud sailed on, to find his partner in the

vale.

III

Then Thel astonished viewed the Worm upon its dewy bed.

'Art thou a Worm? Image of weakness, art thou but a

Worm? I see thee like an infant wrapped in the Lily's leaf. Ah! weep not, little voice, thou canst not speak, but thou

canst weep. Is this a Worm? I see thee lay helpless and naked, weep

ing, And none to answer, none to cherish thee with mother's

smiles.' The Clod of Clay heard the Worm's voice, and raised her

pitying head; She bowed over the weeping infant, and her life exhaled In milky fondness: then on Thel she fixed her humble

eyes.

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'O Beauty of the vales of Har! we live not for ourselves.
Thou seest me, the meanest thing, and so I am indeed.
My bosom of itself is cold, and of itself is dark;
But He that loves the lowly pours His oil upon my head,
And kisses me, and binds His nuptial bands around my

breast,
And says: "Thou mother of my children, I have loved thee,
And I have given thee a crown that none can take away.”
But how this is, sweet maid, I know not, and I cannot

know; I ponder, and I cannot ponder; yet I live and love.'

The daughter of beauty wiped her pitying tears with her

white veil, And said: 'Alas! I knew not this, and therefore did I weep. That God would love a worm I knew, and punish the evil

foot That wilful bruised its helpless form; but that He cher

ished it With milk and oil, I never knew, and therefore did I weep; And I complained in the mild air, because I fade away, And lay me down in thy cold bed, and leave my shining lot.'

'Queen of the vales,' the matron Clay answered, 'I heard

thy sighs, And all thy moans flew o'er my roof, but I have called

them down. Wilt thou, O queen, enter my house? 'Tis given thee to

enter, And to return: fear nothing; enter with thy virgin feet.'

IV

The eternal gates' terrific porter lifted the northern bar;
Thel entered in, and saw the secrets of the land unknown.
She saw the couches of the dead, and where the fibrous root
Of every heart on earth infixes deep its restless twists:
A land of sorrows and of tears where never smile was seen.

She wandered in the land of clouds through valleys dark,

listening Dolours and lamentations; waiting oft beside a dewy grave She stood in silence, listening to the voices of the ground, Till to her own grave-plot she came, and there she sat

down, And heard this voice of sorrow breathèd from the hollow

pit.

‘Why cannot the ear be closed to its own destruction?
Or the glistening eye to the poison of a smile?
Why are eyelids stored with arrows ready drawn,
Where a thousand fighting men in ambush lie,
Or an eye of gifts and graces showering fruits and coinèd

gold?

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