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Comes a vapor from the margin, blackening over heath and

holt, Cramming all the blast before it, in its breast a thunderbolt.

Let it fall on Locksley Hall, with rain or hail, or fire or snow; For the mighty wind arises, roaring seaward, and I go.

Alfred Tennyson

25

RIZPAH 1

17

WAND

AILING, wailing, wailing, the wind over land and sea

And Willy's voice in the wind, “O mother, come out to

me.” Why should he call me to-night, when he knows that I can

not go? For the downs are as bright as day, and the full moon stares

at the snow.

We should be seen, my dear; they would spy us out of the

town. The loud black nights for us, and the storm rushing over the

down, When I cannot see my own hand, but am led by the creak of

the chain, And grovel and grope for my son till I find myself drenched

with the rain.

Anything fallen again? nay—what was there left to fall?
I have taken them home, I have numbered the bones, I have

hidden them all.

i Founded upon fact. See the Memoir of Tennyson, by his son, vol. II, ch. XII.-Reprinted with the permission of The Macmillan Company.

What am I saying? and what are you? do you come as a spy? Falls? what falls? who knows? As the tree falls so must it

lie.

Who let her in? how long has she been? you—what have you

heard! Why did you sit so quiet? you never have spoken a word. 0—to pray with me—yes—a lady-none of their spies But the night has crept into my heart, and begun to darken

my eyes.

Ah-you, that have lived so soft, what should you know of the

night, The blast and the burning shame and the bitter frost and the

fright? I have done it, while you were asleep—you were only made

for the day. I have gathered my baby together—and now you may go your

way.

Nay,—for it's kind of you, Madam, to sit by an old dying

wife. But say nothing hard of my boy, I have only an hour of life. I kissed my boy in the prison, before he went out to die. “They dared me to do it,” he said, and he never has told me

a lie.

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I whipped him for robbing an orchard once when he was but

a child“The farmer dared me to do it,” he said; he was always so

wildAnd idle—and couldn't be idle—my Willy-he never could

rest.

The King should have made him a soldier, he would have been But he lived with a lot of wild mates, and they never would

one of his best.

let him be good; They swore that he dare not rob the mail, and he swore that

he would; And he took no life, but he took one purse, and when all

was done He Aung it among his fellows—I'll none of it, said my son.

I came into court to the Judge and the lawyers. I told them

my tale, God's own truth—but they killed him, they killed him for

robbing the mail. They hanged him in chains for a show-we had always borne

a good nameTo be hanged for a thief—and then put away—isn't that

enough shame!

Dust to dust—low down let us hide! but they set him so

high That all the ships of the world could stare at him, passing by. God 'ill pardon the hell-black raven and horrible fowls of

the air, But not the black heart of the lawyer who killed him and

hanged him there.

And the jailer forced me away. I had bid him my last good

by; They had fastened the door of his cell. “O mother!” I heard

him cry:

I couldn't get back tho' I tried, he had something further to

say, And now I never shall know it. The jailer forced me away. Then since I couldn't but hear that cry of my boy that was

dead,

They seized me and shut me up: they fastened me down on

my bed.

“Mother, O mother!”—he called in the dark to me year

after yearThey beat me for that, they beat me--you know that I couldn't

but hear; And then at the last they found I had grown so stupid and

still They let me abroad again—but the creatures had worked their

will.

Flesh of my flesh was gone, but bone of my bone was left-
I stole them all from the lawyers—and you, will you call it

a theft? — My baby, the bones that had sucked me, the bones that had

laughed and had cried Theirs? O no! they are mine—not theirs—they had moved

in
my

side.

Do you think I was scared by the bones? I kissed 'em, I

buried 'em allI can't dig deep, I am old-in the night by the churchyard

wall. My Willy 'ill rise up whole when the trumpet of judgment

'ill sound, But I charge you never to say that I laid him in holy ground.

They would scratch him up—they would hang him again on

the cursed tree. Sin? O yes—we are sinners, I know—let all that be, And read me a Bible verse of the Lord's good will toward

men

“Full of compassion and mercy, the Lord”—let me hear it

again;

“Full of compassion and mercy—long-suffering.” Yes, O yes! For the lawyer is born but to murder—the Savior lives but to

bless. He'll never put on the black cap except for the worst of the

worst, And the first may be last—I have heard it in church—and the

last may be first. Suffering—o long-suffering—yes, as the Lord must know, Year after year in the mist and the wind and the shower and

the snow.

Heard, have you? what? they have told you he never repented

his sin. How do they know it? are they his mother? are you of his kin? Heard! have you ever heard, when the storm on the downs

began, The wind that 'ill wail like a child and the sea that 'ill moan

like a man?

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Election, Election and Reprobation—it's all very well.
But I go to-night to my boy, and I shall not find him in

Hell.
For I cared so much for my boy that the Lord has looked into

my care, And He means me, I'm sure, to be happy, with Willy, I know

not where. And if he be lost — but to save my scul, that is all your desire: Do you think that I care for my soul if my boy be gone to the

fire? I have been with God in the dark-go, go, you may leave me

aloneYou never have borne a child—you are just as hard as a stone.

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