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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’


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,

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!’

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,

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

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,

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,

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

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!”