Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WANDERER: 5. IN HOLLAND: JACQUELINE, COUNTESS OF HOLLAND, by EDWARD ROBERT BULWER-LYTTON



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THE WANDERER: 5. IN HOLLAND: JACQUELINE, COUNTESS OF HOLLAND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Is it the twilight, or my fading sight
Last Line: Thy hand, my husband, -- so -- upon thy breast!
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): Jacqueline Of Hainaut (1401-1436); Netherlands; Travel; Jacoba; Holland; Dutch People; Journeys; Trips


Is it the twilight, or my fading sight,
Makes all so dim around me? No, the night
Is come already. See! through yonder pane,
Alone in the gray air, that star again --
Which shines so wan, I used to call it mine
For its pale face: like Countess Jacqueline
Who reigned in Brabant once...that 's years ago.
I called so much mine, then: so much seemed so!
And see, my own! -- of all those things, my star
(Because God hung it there, in heaven, so far
Above the reach and want of those hard men)
Is all they have not taken from me. Then
I call it still My Star. Why not? The dust
Hath claimed the dust: no more. And moth and rust
May rot the throne, the kingly purple fray: --
What then? Yon star saw kingdoms rolled away
Ere mine was taken from me. It survives.
But think, Beloved, -- in that high life of lives,
When our souls see the suns themselves burn low
Before that Sun of Righteousness, -- and know
What is, and was, before the suns were lit, --
How Love is all in all...Look, look at it,
My star, -- God's star, -- for being God's 't is mine:
Had it been man's...no matter...see it shine --
The old wan beam, which I have watched ere now
So many a wretched night, when this poor brow
Ached neath the sorrows of its thorny crown.
Its crown! ...ah, droop not, dear, those fond eyes down.
No gem in all that shattered coronet
Was half so precious as the tear which wet
Just now this pale sick forehead. O my own,
My husband, need was, that I should have known
Much sorrow, -- more than most Queens, -- all know some, --
Ere, dying, I could bless thee for the home
Far dearer than the Palace, -- call thy tear,
The costliest gem that ever sparkled here.

Infold me, my Beloved. One more kiss.
O, I must go! 'T was willed I should not miss
Life's secret, ere I left it. And now see, --
My lips touch thine -- thine arm encircles me --
The secret's found -- God beckons -- I must go.
Earth's best is given. -- Heaven's turn is come to show
How much its best earth's best may yet exceed,
Lest earth's should seem the very best indeed.
So we must part a little; but not long.
I seem to see it all. My lands belong
To Philip still; but thine will be my grave,
(The only strip of land which I could save!)
Not much, but wide enough for some few flowers,
Thou 'lt plant there, by and by, in later hours:
Duke Humphry, when they tell him I am dead
(And so young too!) will sigh, and shake his head,
And if his wife should chide, "Poor Jacqueline,"
He'll add, "You know she never could be mine."
And men will say, when some one speaks of me,
"Alas, it was a piteous history,
The life of that poor countess!" For the rest
Will never know, my love, how I was blest.
Some few of my poor Zealanders, perchance,
Will keep kind memories of me; and in France
Some minstrel sing my story. Pitiless John
Will prosper still, no doubt, as he has done,
And still praise God with blood upon the Rood.
Philip will, doubtless, still be called "The Good."
And men will curse and kill: and the old game
Will weary out new hands: the love of fame
Will sow new sins: thou wilt not be renowned:
And I shall lie quite quite under ground.
My life is a torn book. But at the end
A little page, quite fair, is saved, my friend,
Where thou didst write thy name. No stain is there,
No blot, -- from marge to marge, all pure -- no tear; --
The last page, saved from all, and writ by thee,
Which I shall take safe up to Heaven with me.
All 's not in vain, since this be so. Dost grieve?
Beloved, I beseech thee to believe
Although this be the last page of my life,
It is my heart's first, only one. Thy wife,
Poor though she be, O thou sole wealth of mine,
Is happier than the Countess Jacqueline!

And since my heart owns thine, say, -- am I not
A Queen, my chosen, though by all forgot?
Though all forsake, yet is not this thy hand?
I, a lone wanderer in a darkened land,
I, a poor pilgrim with no staff of hope,
I, a late traveller down the evening slope,
Where any spark, the glow-worm's by the way,
Had been a light to bless...have I, O say,
Not found, Beloved, in thy tender eyes,
A light more sweet than morning's? As there dies
Some day of storm all glorious in its even,
My life grows loveliest as it fades in heaven.
This earthly house breaks up. This flesh must fade.
So many shocks of grief slow breach have made
In the poor frame. Wrongs, insults, treacheries,
Hopes broken down, and memory which sighs
In, like a night-wind! Life was never meant
To bear so much in such frail tenement.
Why should we seek to patch and plaster o'er
This shattered roof, crusht windows, broken door
The light already shines through? Let them break.

Yet would I gladly live for thy dear sake,
O my heart's first and last, if that could be!
In vain! ...yet grieve not thou. I shall not see
England again, and those white cliffs; nor ever
Again those four gray towers beside the river,
And London's roaring bridges: never more
Those windows with the market-stalls before,
Where the red-kirtled market-girls went by
In the great square, beneath the great gray sky,
In Brussels: nor in Holland, night or day,
Watch these long lines of siege, and fight at bay
Among my broken army, in default
Of Gloucester's failing forces from Hainault:
Nor shall I pace again those gardens green,
With their clipt alleys, where they called me Queen,
In Brabant once. For all these things are gone.
But thee I shall behold, my chosen one,
Though we should seem whole worlds on worlds apart,
Because thou wilt be ever in my heart.
Nor shall I leave thee wholly. I shall be
An evening thought, -- a morning dream to thee, --
A silence in thy life when, through the night,
The bell strikes, or the sun, with sinking light,
Smites all the empty windows. As there sprout
Daisies, and dimpling tufts of violets, out
Among the grass where some corpse lies asleep,
So round thy life, where I lie buried deep,
A thousand little tender thoughts shall spring,
A thousand gentle memories wind and cling.
O, promise me, my own, before my soul
Is houseless, -- let the great world turn and roll
Upon its way unvext...Its pomps, its powers!
The dust says to the dust, ..."the earth is ours."
I would not, if I could, be Queen again
For all the walls of the wide world contain.
Be thou content with silence. Who would raise
A little dust and noise of human praise,
If he could see, in yonder distance dim,
The silent eye of God that watches him?
Oh! couldst thou see all that I see tonight
Upon the brinks of the great Infinite!
"Come out of her, my people, lest ye be
Partakers of her sins!" ... My love, but we
Our treasure where no thieves break in and steal,
Have stored, I trust, Earth's weal is not our weal.
Let the world mind its business -- peace or war,
Ours is elsewhere. Look, look, -- my star, my star!
It grows, it glows, it spreads in light unfurled; --
Said I "my star"? No star -- a world -- God's world!
What hymns adown the jasper sea are rolled,
Even to these sick pillows! Who infold
White wings about me? Rest, rest, rest ... I come!
O Love! I think that I am near my home.
Whence was that music? Was it Heaven's I heard?
Write "Blessed are the dead that die i' the Lord,
Because they rest," ... because their toil is o'er.
The voice of weeping shall be heard no more
In the Eternal city. Neither dying
Nor sickness, pain nor sorrow, neither crying,
For God shall wipe away all tears. Rest, rest,
Thy hand, my husband, -- so -- upon thy breast!





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