Giant Despair

I.

His death.

Sad is the plight of Giant Despair,
In Doubting Castle sick lies he!
The castle is built on a headland bare,
And looks on the wash of a whirling Sea.

With the noise in his ears and the gleam in his eyes
Of the breaking waves that beneath him beat,
Propt on pillows the Giant lies,
Pillowed, too, are his gouty feet.

In and out the Leeches of Souls
Run and chatter and prate and pray —
But the great wind wails and the thunder rolls:
None may banish his gloom away.

With parchment cheek and lack-lustre eye
He looketh out on the stormy scene —
Cruel is he and bloody and sly,
Lustful and bad his life hath been.

O Priests who stand and whisper there,
While he groans and curses and shrinks for fear,
What can ye say to Giant Despair
To comfort him now his end is near?

Fat and oily and sweet, cries one: —
Comfort, O comfort! for heaven is sure —
There the believer shall revel in fun,
And all delight that is plump and pure.

" Nothing delicious the Lord denies,
Rosy wine he shall drink in bliss' —
" Add, moreover," another cries,
" Waists to encircle and lips to kiss."

With parchment cheek and lack-lustre eye
The Giant lies and makes no sign:
Women's falsehood has made him sigh,
He is sick of the very sight of wine.

" Comfort!" another crieth loud,
" Full of music shall be thy breast,
Thou shalt sit full proud on a rosy cloud,
Happy and idle, amongst the blest —

" All shall be stainless and sweet and fair;
All shall be merry from night to morn."
Giant Despair stirred in his chair,
Scowled at the speaker and grunted scorn.

Then one said this and one said that,
And all were full of the world to be:
Yet duller and bitter the Giant sat
Scowling out at the sullen Sea.

And all the storm of the wind and rain,
And all the rage of the wrathful wave,
Flowed in and out of the Giant's brain
As the surge in and out of a dank sea-cave.

Forth, at last, stept a shape so grey,
Crown'd with poppy, and shrouded deep;
He touch'd the Giant with hand of clay.
And held a goblet — " Drink this, and sleep.

Over thy grave the grass shall grow —
Roses too, the white and the red —
The generations shall come and go,
But thou shalt slumber," the spirit said.

" Many a year shall blossom and fade,
Many a life be given and taken,
Ere from thy sleep in the silent shade
Thou, with a thrill of new life, shalt waken.

The Giant smiled. Still loud and strong
Sounded the sob of the weary Sea.
" My ears are sick! — may my sleep be long!
For ever and ever, if that may be."

II.

After

Who on the Giant's tomb
Sits in the twilight gloom,
With white hands folded?
Her breath comes fresh and warm;
Silent she waits, a form
Divinely moulded.

Maiden she is; with eyes
That search the dark still skies
She sits in shadow;
Strewn scented at her feet
Are rue and lilies sweet,
And flowers o' the meadow.

And in her wild black hair
Are wild weeds passing fair,
Pluck'd from dark places —
Dumb, dead, her sweet lips are,
And fixid as a star
Her marble face is.

Under God's starless cope,
Vestured in white sits Hope,
A musing maiden,
Under a yew sits she,
Watching most silently
The gates of Eden.

Afar away they shine!
While up those depths divine
Her eyes are turning —
And one by one on high
The strange lamps of the sky
Are dimly burning.

Such sounds as fill'd with care
The dark heart of Despair
Disturb her never, —
Tho' close to her white feet
That mighty Sea doth beat,
Moaning for ever.

She sees the foam-flash gleam,
She hears, in a half dream,
The muffled thunder.
The salt dew fills her hair;
Her thoughts are otherwhere,
Watching in wonder.

There let her sit alone,
Ev'n as a shape of stone
In twilight gleaming;
Despair's pale monument,
There let her sit, content,
Waiting and dreaming.

Ah! which were sweetest, best?
With dead Despair to rest
In sleep unbroken;
Or with that marble Maid
To watch, to sit in the shade,
Waiting a token?
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