Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
The Hand
By Ebenezer Jones (1820–1860)
 
LONE o’er the moors I stray’d;
With basely timid mind,
Because by some betray’d,
Denouncing human-kind;
I heard the lonely wind,        5
And wickedly did mourn
I could not share its loneliness,
And all things human scorn.
 
And bitter were the tears
I cursèd as they fell;        10
And bitterer the sneers
I strove not to repel:
With blindly mutter’d yell,
I cried unto mine heart,—
‘Thou shalt beat the world in falsehood,        15
And stab it ere we part.’
 
My hand I backward drave
As one who seeks a knife;
When startlingly did crave
To quell that hand’s wild strife        20
Some other hand; all rife
With kindness, clasp’d it hard
On mine, quick frequent claspings
That would not be debarr’d.
 
I dared not turn my gaze        25
To the creature of the hand;
And no sound did it raise,
Its nature to disband
Of mystery; vast, and grand,
The moors around me spread,        30
And I thought, some angel message
Perchance their God may have sped.
 
But it press’d another press,
So full of earnest prayer,
While o’er it fell a tress        35
Of cool, soft, human hair,
I fear’d not;—I did dare
Turn round, ’twas Hannah there!
O! to no one out of heaven
Could I what pass’d declare.        40
 
We wander’d o’er the moor
Through all that blessèd day;
And we drank its waters pure,
And felt the world away;
In many a dell we lay,        45
And we twined flower-crowns bright;
And I fed her with moor-berries
And bless’d her glad eye-light.
 
And still that earnest pray-er
That saved me many stings,        50
Was oft a silent sayer
Of countless loving things;—
I’ll ring it all with rings,
Each ring a jewell’d band;
For heaven shouldn’t purchase        55
That little sister hand.
 
 
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