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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From ‘Flos Mercatorum’
By Alfred Noyes (1880–1958)
 
From ‘Tales of the Mermaid Tavern’

                        “THE PEAL,”
Quoth Clopton, “is not ended, but the pause
In ringing, chimes to a deep inward ear
And tells its own deep tale. Silence and sound,
Darkness and light, mourning and mirth,—no tale,        5
No painting, and no music, nay, no world,
If God should cut their fruitful marriage-knot.
A shallow sort to-day would fain deny
A hell, sirs, to this boundless universe.
To such I say ‘no hell, no Paradise!’        10
Others would fain deny the topless towers
Of heaven, and make this earth a hell indeed.
To such I say, ‘the unplumbed gulfs of grief
Are only theirs for whom the blissful chimes
Ring from those unseen heights.’ This earth, midway,        15
Hangs like a belfry where the ringers grasp
Their ropes in darkness, each in his own place,
Each knowing, by the tune in his own heart,
Never by sight, when he must toss through heaven
The tone of his own bell. Those bounded souls        20
Have never heard our chimes! Why, sirs, myself
Simply by running up and down the scale
Descend to hell or soar to heaven. My bells
Height above height, deep below deep, respond!
Their scale is infinite. Dare I, for one breath,        25
Dream that one note hath crowned and ended all,
Sudden I hear, far, far above those clouds,
Like laughing angels, peal on golden peal,
Innumerable as drops of April rain,
Yet every note distinct, round as a pearl,        30
And perfect in its place, a chime of law,
Whose pure and boundless mere arithmetic
Climbs with my soul to God.”
                        Ben looked at him,
Gently. “Resume, old moralist,” he said.
“On to thy marriage-bells!”
                        “The fairy-tales
        35
Are wiser than they know, sirs. All our woes
Lead on to those celestial marriage-bells.
The world’s a-wooing; and the pure City of God
Peals for the wedding of our joy and pain!”
 
 
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