Growing up an only child with a single parent is probably why I'm an actor.
The Night Dances With Itself Like An Only Child
The night dances with itself like an only child
to the sounds of its own silence
when it thinks no one is watching.
Every falling leaf, a gesture of the hands,
poised, a word, a bird, a butterfly on a branch,
a sacred syllable from an alphabet that can dance,
caught in the updraft of a momentary insight
of falling to paradise like a flightfeather of light,
and landing the move just right, just so, with perfect timing.
The maples by day, easels for hot palette paintings,
red shift through red, orange, yellow, green
from the outside in toward the trunk, same
as a rainbow, same as the dynastic colours of a sunset.
Same as the fires of life returning to the root.
Same as the starmaps of the visionaries
flying like shamans from the nests they were fledged in.
Same as the ripening of the fruits of the earth,
or roses with green stars under their eyelids.
Different instruments, different voices,
the wind, the rasping of the leaves, the beaver
slapping the startled flesh of the water at my approach,
a twig snapping its drumstick on a rim shot
and the crow, and the squeaking bats, and the lapping
of the waves like the plectra of an aquamarine harpsichord
at the whole notes of the rocks, but a confluence
of picture-music washing the roots of the dead violins
of the wild irises and the timpani of cattails along the mindstream.
Merrily, merrily, row your boat, life is but a dream.
But to judge from the windfalls of green planets
shaken from the black walnut trees, it's a dream
that's urgent with the myriad realities of a multiverse
waking up in a place like here, and a time like now
with a lavish appetite for inhabiting itself
as if appearance weren't just the rind
that had to be peeled away like the skin and the shell
of the meat of the real, the shapes of the known worlds
the rat snakes shed like intimate illusions
that have naturally outgrown themselves,
the new moon in the arms of the old, like a nightsky
leaving the Milky Way, a mythically deflated windsock
tangled in the tree line like a runway that tried to fly by itself.
Now the Great Shedding as the earth turns
like the old abandoned mill wheel upstream
like a circular waterclock making linear time
take its tail in its mouth like an eternal recurrence
that's always pouring itself out of itself like life
into the emptiness between the equinox of one thought
and the solstice of the next like the silence between heartbeats,
the night between the stars, like the inseparable gap
between the distant moon and the intimacy of the moon's reflection
on the newly surfaced dark skin of the water sequencing
its pentatonic scales to the seasonal themes of the mindstream
you can't step into twice, as Heraclitus said in Ephesus long ago,
though it seems that way if all you're doing is dogpaddling
like a delinquent green apple on a snow covered bough, instead
of going along with the perennial renewal of the flow
by letting go of your water skin with its lunar tattoo
like the bright vacancy of an old silo of the light
for the dark abundance of the new insight
into the nature of life when it full in October.
The fall. This hour of my becoming
when everything is burning like the sumac
with the fires of life but nothing is consumed.
Because fire doesn't burn fire and death is unperishing.
And autumn is no less of a transformation than spring
as this new day dances as readily with the old woman
watching from her kitchen window as it does the young girl,
than the rain is to the tides of a lunar ocean
swaying in its shadows as if it were dancing
with its river reeds like a lonely child
in the embrace of her imagination,
like a poet in the grip of his crazy wisdom
flirting like a firefly with the dragons of his madness
without listening to the search parties of the lighthouses
bellowing like the foghorns of mournful trains back on shore
being swept away into the distance like nightwatchmen
and unconvincing ghosts. Things are unmooring
like lifeboats full of seeds and the souls of the dead
taking to their wings like the oars of waterbirds,
and the lowest of earthbound snakes
are dreaming of feathering their scales
into the vans of a dragon firewalking with stars
around the wobbling axis of the earth
on a potter's wheel, turning it like sentient starmud
that's fired up in autumn like an urn that burns like a kiln.
- quotes about dance
- quotes about peace
- quotes about lifeboats
- quotes about fire
- quotes about seasons
- quotes about green
- quotes about paintings
- quotes about autumn
- quotes about art
A Child With The Ghost
Nothing I can say
Can make your picture talk
I feel so tired and
Nothing I can do
Will make your picture move
I feel so helpless but
I can feel
A child with the ghost here
You let your heart slip away
If I had one wish
Id wish to talk with you
I have some questions
Things only you could know
If I had one wish
Id wish to talk with you
Nothing you can feel
Can feel as cold as this
Ill sing this song and
Ill say goodbye forever
If God is all they say
I cant believe in such things.
Some games are hard to lose
But you dont have to play cos
I can feel
A child with the ghost here
You let your heart slip away
Child With No Soul
El niño sin alma
Vive una mentira
Una vida pasajera...
Child with no soul
Living in isolation
Living a lie
Life passing by...
© 2010 by john Martinez hulsey
She was a child with a broken heart
She was a child with a broken heart
who knew not how to speak
broken winged and torn in two
she dragged her wounded pride
inside the body of a child
Not knowing who could teach
she lay dormant in her sleep
then one day she learnt to read
which gave her the power to speak
I Know Only Poems With Rhyme
To the children of the world
I know only poems with rhyme
That stay in tune with ev’ry clime.
I know only poems with beat
That make me stand up on my feet.
When poets all have breathed their last,
And poems are buried in dust,
Then children will come out in time
To dig the poems, black with grime.
And when the cloud of dust is gone,
And children are through having fun,
They’ll throw away poems like lime
But pick up only those with rhyme.
I Am The Only One With THESE Keys
The first question I would ask,
Of anyone expressing a wish to drive...
Through life without dues to pay.
With only desire in their eyes.
And a request from me to give them my keys,
What makes anyone think I will turn over keys,
To something I have earned...
Because the doing of it I have made to look easy?
I've got to witness some sweat with labor done first.
With initiative that has been prioritized.
Life is not a cakewalk...
To choose what frosting to taste to then decide.
'You are not the only one with keys.'
But guess what?
I am the only one with THESE keys.
Only Those With The Key
The gate has been locked,
To block access...
To those once accustomed,
To free entry and free reign.
And this has been suggested...
Maybe one's own finding,
Of a home on the range...
Suitable for the deer and the antelope,
And any mumbling heard is one's own
The gate has been locked,
To block out the physical.
And that which appears limited.
But one 'spirited' in mind,
Can choose to look over the gate.
Or through its cracks.
Sit to wonder why THIS gate attracts.
And gates with locks that block,
To stop what's coming in...
Seem to imprison those behind them,
Rarely to come out to test the locks.
And only those with the key,
Know what it is used for.
Its history to be known or not!
Since whoever has got the key,
Needs not to peek or have interest in the doing.
Only those with the key to the gate that locks,
To block in or not to block out...
Do not concern themselves with peeking.
The Only Child
Boy of mine
As your fortune comes to carry you down the line
And you watch as the changes unfold
And you sort among the stories youve been told
If some pieces of the picture are hard to find
And the answers to your questions are hard to hold
Take good care of your mother
When youre making up your mind
Should one thing or another take you from behind
Though the world may make you hard and wild
And determine how your life is styled
When youve come to feel that youre the only child
Take good care of your brother
Let the disappointments pass
Let the laughter fill your glass
Let your illusions last until they shatter
Whatever you might hope to find
Among the thoughts that crowd your mind
There wont be many that ever really matter
But take good care of your mother
And remember to be kind
When the pain of another will serve you to remind
That there are those who feel themselves exiled
On whom the fortune never smiled
And upon whose life the heartache has been piled
Theyre just looking for another
And when youve found another soul
Who sees into your own
Take good care of each other
A Child With The Blues
Could have never known that when losin'
Could hurt you so very bad
Could have never known that when chosin'
Could make you feels so very sad
I don't know what to do
I just feel so confused
I'm a child with the blues
Take your time, smell the flowers
Make a smile for yourself
Girl, don't make livin' so hard
So hard, I keep tellin' myself
I keep tellin' myself
Feels like I'm goin' away
Sometimes it ain't all damn fair
I'm a child with the blues
I know you're watchin' me
There are a lot of games reachin' for you
When you think you're grown
You're entering the unknown
Baby, check yourself
Ooh, feels like my life is just existing
And I'm missing someone
It's hard to replace the simple fact
It's 'cause my lover is gone
Tell it to ya ....
And you're walkin' in my shoes
You're a chils with the blues
I can't stop the flow, can't stop it
Of the wet tears in my eyes
And if you're any other many kind of women
Woman in pain, gotta rely, rely
Same emotion we share
Movin' fast but goin' nowhere
Like a child with the blues
A child with the blues
This child is blue
Show no blues
A child with the blues, ooh
All I See is a Child with Third Degree Burns
The future stairs, in pixel bites, from monochrome beams,
down satellite eyes
While the past explodes in a quadrangle weeping
from the opposite side
Embarrassed acts of devastation
come back to me and collide
As images of Europa cascade
from a fiber optic line
But all I see is a child with third degree burns
Small, ingenious sentinels, are quietly calculating
Around Agenor's quite daughter,
unaware of machine intruders
Meanwhile, Croatian artifacts,
are ripping horrors in my ears
It's the ghost of Milosevic
who still ravages these years
Because I see is a child with third degree burns
It's the carbon dated hairstyles,
that indicate the general fashions
When Sarajevo was descending
to Yugoslavian jackboot fascist
And no one in Lašva Valley could see the ascend
Since every little boy and girl are found
in body sacks
And still all I see is a child with third degree burns
Reprieve me, through the vacuum,
where shines that celestial sphere
Irradiating new hydrogen
Imprinting a rich oxygen atmosphere
My escape through oceans tundra
on molten alien rocky shield
A brave new world of vistas
that absolve my human fears
To never see that little child with third degree burns
I Only Dance With You
Girl, I remember how it all began
You introduced her as your friend
But I knew I was in trouble when
I saw her smile at me
And then she asked me for a dance
But never offered you a glance
Well let me tell you girl with friends like that
Who needs enemies
Shouldve known better than to trust a friend
Whos jealous of the way we livin
I dont think you know whats happening
Your girl is shading you
Shouldve known better than to trust a friend
Behind your back she gives me rhythm
But Im bout to make her understand
I only dance with you
Girl, you say your friend is just flirting by
Its getting so ridiculous
That shes thinking she can mess with us
But I dont play around
Even when shes saying that youre unaware
And its cool with you to share
No I still ait gonna dance with her
Im telling you right now
Shouldve known better than to trust a friend
Whos jealous of the way we livin
I dont think you know whats happening
Your girl is shading you
Shouldve known better than to trust a friend
Behind your back she gives me rhythm
But Im bout to make her understand
I only dance with you
Dont try to say I lost the mind
I know your girl has crossed the line (cause I really know that)
She got issues, she trying to diss you
The minute that you turn around
She pulled a switch boo
Cause shes wishing whats yours was hers
So now leave the girl, that aint never gonna work
Shouldve known better than to trust a friend
Whos jealous of the way we livin
I dont think you know whats happening
Your girl is shading you
Shouldve known better than to trust a friend
Behind your back she gives me rhythm
But Im bout to make her understand
I only dance with you
Shouldve known girl not to trust a friend
Shouldve known jealous of how we livin
Shouldve known I was shading you
Only dance with you
Shouldve known better than to trust a friend
Whos jealous of the way we livin
I dont think you know whats happening
Your girl is shading you
Shouldve known better than to trust a friend
Behind your back she gives me rhythm
But Im bout to make her understand
I only dance with you
Ohh oh ohhh
I only dance with you....
Ohh oh ohhh
I only dance with you....
Metamorphoses: Book The Thirteenth
THE chiefs were set; the soldiers crown'd the
To these the master of the seven-fold shield
Upstarted fierce: and kindled with disdain.
Eager to speak, unable to contain
His boiling rage, he rowl'd his eyes around
The shore, and Graecian gallies hall'd a-ground.
The Then stretching out his hands, O Jove, he cry'd,
Speeches of Must then our cause before the fleet be try'd?
Ajax and And dares Ulysses for the prize contend,
Ulysses In sight of what he durst not once defend?
But basely fled that memorable day,
When I from Hector's hands redeem'd the flaming
So much 'tis safer at the noisie bar
With words to flourish, than ingage in war.
By diff'rent methods we maintain our right,
Nor am I made to talk, nor he to fight.
In bloody fields I labour to be great;
His arms are a smooth tongue, and soft deceit:
Nor need I speak my deeds, for those you see,
The sun, and day are witnesses for me.
Let him who fights unseen, relate his own,
And vouch the silent stars, and conscious moon.
Great is the prize demanded, I confess,
But such an abject rival makes it less;
That gift, those honours, he but hop'd to gain,
Can leave no room for Ajax to be vain:
Losing he wins, because his name will be
Ennobled by defeat, who durst contend with me.
Were my known valour question'd, yet my blood
Without that plea wou'd make my title good:
My sire was Telamon, whose arms, employ'd
With Hercules, these Trojan walls destroy'd;
And who before with Jason sent from Greece,
In the first ship brought home the golden fleece.
Great Telamon from Aeacus derives
His birth (th' inquisitor of guilty lives
In shades below; where Sisyphus, whose son
This thief is thought, rouls up the restless heavy
Just Aeacus, the king of Gods above
Begot: thus Ajax is the third from Jove.
Nor shou'd I seek advantage from my line,
Unless (Achilles) it was mix'd with thine:
As next of kin, Achilles' arms I claim;
This fellow wou'd ingraft a foreign name
Upon our stock, and the Sisyphian seed
By fraud, and theft asserts his father's breed:
Then must I lose these arms, because I came
To fight uncall'd, a voluntary name,
Nor shunn'd the cause, but offer'd you my aid?
While he long lurking was to war betray'd:
Forc'd to the field he came, but in the reer;
And feign'd distraction to conceal his fear:
'Till one more cunning caught him in the snare
(Ill for himself); and dragg'd him into war.
Now let a hero's arms a coward vest,
And he who shunn'd all honours, gain the best:
And let me stand excluded from my right,
Robb'd of my kinsman's arms, who first appear'd in
Better for us, at home had he remain'd,
Had it been true the madness which he feign'd,
Or so believ'd; the less had been our shame,
The less his counsell'd crime, which brands the
Nor Philoctetes had been left inclos'd
In a bare isle, to wants and pains expos'd,
Where to the rocks, with solitary groans,
His suff'rings, and our baseness he bemoans:
And wishes (so may Heav'n his wish fulfill)
The due reward to him, who caus'd his ill.
Now he, with us to Troy's destruction sworn,
Our brother of the war, by whom are born
Alcides' arrows, pent in narrow bounds,
With cold and hunger pinch'd, and pain'd with
To find him food and cloathing, must employ
Against the birds the shafts due to the fate of
Yet still he lives, and lives from treason free,
Because he left Ulysses' company;
Poor Palamede might wish, so void of aid,
Rather to have been left, than so to death
The coward bore the man immortal spight,
Who sham'd him out of madness into fight:
Nor daring otherwise to vent his hate,
Accus'd him first of treason to the state;
And then for proof produc'd the golden store,
Himself had hidden in his tent before:
Thus of two champions he depriv'd our host,
By exile one, and one by treason lost.
Thus fights Ulysses, thus his fame extends,
A formidable man, but to his friends:
Great, for what greatness is in words, and sound,
Ev'n faithful Nestor less in both is found:
But that he might without a rival reign,
He left this faithful Nestor on the plain;
Forsook his friend ev'n at his utmost need,
Who tir'd, and tardy with his wounded steed,
Cry'd out for aid, and call'd him by his name;
But cowardice has neither ears nor shame;
Thus fled the good old man, bereft of aid,
And, for as much as lay in him, betray'd:
That this is not a fable forg'd by me,
Like one of his, an Ulyssean lie,
I vouch ev'n Diomede, who tho' his friend,
Cannot that act excuse, much less defend:
He call'd him back aloud, and tax'd his fear;
And sure enough he heard, but durst not hear.
The Gods with equal eyes on mortal look,
He justly was forsaken, who forsook:
Wanted that succour, he refus'd to lend,
Found ev'ry fellow such another friend:
No wonder, if he roar'd that all might hear;
His elocution was increas'd by fear:
I heard, I ran, I found him out of breath,
Pale, trembling, and half dead with fear of death.
Though he had judg'd himself by his own laws,
And stood condemn'd, I help'd the common cause:
With my broad buckler hid him from the foe
(Ev'n the shield trembled as he lay below);
And from impending Fate the coward freed:
Good Heav'n forgive me for so bad a deed!
If still he will persist, and urge the strife,
First let him give me back his forfeit life:
Let him return to that opprobrious field;
Again creep under my protecting shield:
Let him lie wounded, let the foe be near,
And let his quiv'ring heart confess his fear;
There put him in the very jaws of Fate;
And let him plead his cause in that estate:
And yet when snatch'd from death, when from below
My lifted shield I loos'd, and let him go;
Good Heav'ns, how light he rose, with what a bound
He sprung from earth, forgetful of his wound;
How fresh, how eager then his feet to ply;
Who had not strength to stand, had speed to fly!
Hector came on, and brought the Gods along;
Fear seiz'd alike the feeble, and the strong:
Each Greek was an Ulysses; such a dread
Th' approach, and ev'n the sound of Hector bred:
Him, flesh'd with slaughter, and with conquest
I met, and over-turn'd him to the ground;
When after, matchless as he deem'd in might,
He challeng'd all our host to single fight;
All eyes were fix'd on me: the lots were thrown;
But for your champion I was wish'd alone:
Your vows were heard; we fought, and neither yield;
Yet I return'd unvanquish'd from the field.
With Jove to friend, th' insulting Trojan came,
And menac'd us with force, our fleet with flame.
Was it the strength of this tongue-valiant lord,
In that black hour, that sav'd you from the sword?
Or was my breast expos'd alone, to brave
A thousand swords, a thousand ships to save?
The hopes of your return! And can you yield,
For a sav'd fleet, less than a single shield?
Think it no boast, o Grecians, if I deem
These arms want Ajax, more than Ajax them:
Or, I with them an equal honour share;
They honour'd to be worn, and I to wear.
Will he compare my courage with his sleight?
As well he may compare the day with night.
Night is indeed the province of his reign:
Yet all his dark exploits no more contain
Than a spy taken, and a sleeper slain;
A priest made pris'ner, Pallas made a prey:
But none of all these actions done by day:
Nor ought of these was done, and Diomede away.
If on such petty merits you confer
So vast a prize, let each his portion share;
Make a just dividend; and if not all,
The greater part to Diomede will fall.
But why for Ithacus such arms as those,
Who naked, and by night invades his foes?
The glitt'ring helm by moonlight will proclaim
The latent robber, and prevent his game:
Nor cou'd he hold his tott'ring head upright
Beneath that morion, or sustain the weight;
Nor that right arm cou'd toss the beamy lance;
Much less the left that ampler shield advance;
Pond'rous with precious weight, and rough with cost
Of the round world in rising gold emboss'd.
That orb would ill become his hand to wield,
And look as for the gold he stole the shield;
Which, shou'd your error on the wretch bestow,
It would not frighten, but allure the foe:
Why asks he, what avails him not in fight,
And wou'd but cumber, and retard his flight,
In which his only excellence is plac'd?
You give him death, that intercept his haste.
Add, that his own is yet a maiden-shield,
Nor the least dint has suffer'd in the field,
Guiltless of fight: mine batter'd, hew'd, and
Worn out of service, must forsake his lord,
What farther need of words our right to scan?
My arguments are deeds, let action speak the man.
Since from a champion's arms the strife arose,
Go cast the glorious prize amid the foes;
Then send us to redeem both arms, and shield,
And let him wear, who wins 'em in the field.
He said: a murmur from a multitude,
Or somewhat like a stifled shout, ensu'd:
'Till from his seat arose Laertes' son,
Look'd down a while, and paus'd, e'er he begun;
Then, to th' expecting audience, rais'd his look,
And not without prepar'd attention spoke:
Soft was his tone, and sober was his face;
Action his words, and words his action grace.
If Heav'n, my lords, had heard our common pray'r,
These arms had caus'd no quarrel for an heir;
Still great Achilles had his own possess'd,
And we with great Achilles had been bless'd;
But since hard Fate, and Heav'n's severe decree,
Have ravish'd him away from you, and me
(At this he sigh'd, and wip'd his eyes, and drew,
Or seem'd to draw, some drops of kindly dew),
Who better can succeed Achilles lost,
Than he, who gave Achilles to your hoast?
This only I request, that neither he
May gain, by being what he seems to be,
A stupid thing; nor I may lose the prize,
By having sense, which Heav'n to him denies:
Since great or small, the talent I enjoy'd
Was ever in the common cause employ'd;
Nor let my wit, and wonted eloquence,
Which often has been us'd in your defense,
And in my own, this only time be brought
To bear against my self, and deem'd a fault.
Make not a crime, where Nature made it none;
For ev'ry man may freely use his own.
The deeds of long-descended ancestors
Are but by grace of imputation ours,
Theirs in effect; but since he draws his line
From Jove, and seems to plead a right divine;
From Jove, like him, I claim my pedigree,
And am descended in the same degree:
My sire Laertes was Arcesius' heir,
Arcesius was the son of Jupiter:
No parricide, no banish'd man, is known
In all my line: let him excuse his own.
Hermes ennobles too my mother's side,
By both my parents to the Gods ally'd.
But not because that on the female part
My blood is better, dare I claim desert,
Or that my sire from parricide is free;
But judge by merit betwixt him, and me:
The prize be to the best; provided yet
That Ajax for a while his kin forget,
And his great sire, and greater uncle's name,
To fortifie by them his feeble claim:
Be kindred and relation laid aside,
And honour's cause by laws of honour try'd:
For if he plead proximity of blood;
That empty title is with ease withstood.
Peleus, the hero's sire, more nigh than he,
And Pyrrhus, his undoubted progeny,
Inherit first these trophies of the field;
To Scyros, or to Pthia, send the shield:
And Teucer has an uncle's right; yet he
Waves his pretensions, nor contends with me.
Then since the cause on pure desert is plac'd,
Whence shall I take my rise, what reckon last?
I not presume on ev'ry act to dwell,
But take these few, in order as they fell.
Thetis, who knew the Fates, apply'd her care
To keep Achilles in disguise from war;
And 'till the threatning influence was past,
A woman's habit on the hero cast:
All eyes were cozen'd by the borrow'd vest,
And Ajax (never wiser than the rest)
Found no Pelides there: at length I came
With proffer'd wares to this pretended dame;
She, not discover'd by her mien, or voice,
Betray'd her manhood by her manly choice;
And while on female toys her fellows look,
Grasp'd in her warlike hand, a javelin shook;
Whom, by this act reveal'd, I thus bespoke:
O Goddess-born! resist not Heav'n's decree,
The fall of Ilium is reserv'd for thee;
Then seiz'd him, and produc'd in open light,
Sent blushing to the field the fatal knight.
Mine then are all his actions of the war;
Great Telephus was conquer'd by my spear,
And after cur'd: to me the Thebans owe,
Lesbos, and Tenedos, their overthrow;
Syros and Cylla: not on all to dwell,
By me Lyrnesus, and strong Chrysa fell:
And since I sent the man who Hector slew,
To me the noble Hector's death is due:
Those arms I put into his living hand,
Those arms, Pelides dead, I now demand.
When Greece was injur'd in the Spartan prince,
And met at Aulis to avenge th' offence,
'Twas a dead calm, or adverse blasts, that reign'd,
And in the port the wind-bound fleet detain'd:
Bad signs were seen, and oracles severe
Were daily thunder'd in our gen'ral's ear;
That by his daughter's blood we must appease
Diana's kindled wrath, and free the seas.
Affection, int'rest, fame, his heart assail'd:
But soon the father o'er the king prevail'd:
Bold, on himself he took the pious crime,
As angry with the Gods, as they with him.
No subject cou'd sustain their sov'reign's look,
'Till this hard enterprize I undertook:
I only durst th' imperial pow'r controul,
And undermin'd the parent in his soul;
Forc'd him t' exert the king for common good,
And pay our ransom with his daughter's blood.
Never was cause more difficult to plead,
Than where the judge against himself decreed:
Yet this I won by dint of argument;
The wrongs his injur'd brother underwent,
And his own office, sham'd him to consent.
'Tis harder yet to move the mother's mind,
And to this heavy task was I design'd:
Reasons against her love I knew were vain;
I circumvented whom I could not gain:
Had Ajax been employ'd, our slacken'd sails
Had still at Aulis waited happy gales.
Arriv'd at Troy, your choice was fix'd on me,
A fearless envoy, fit for a bold embassy:
Secure, I enter'd through the hostile court,
Glitt'ring with steel, and crowded with resort:
There, in the midst of arms, I plead our cause,
Urge the foul rape, and violated laws;
Accuse the foes, as authors of the strife,
Reproach the ravisher, demand the wife.
Priam, Antenor, and the wiser few,
I mov'd; but Paris, and his lawless crew
Scarce held their hands, and lifted swords; but
In act to quench their impious thirst of blood:
This Menelaus knows; expos'd to share
With me the rough preludium of the war.
Endless it were to tell, what I have done,
In arms, or council, since the siege begun:
The first encounter's past, the foe repell'd,
They skulk'd within the town, we kept the field.
War seem'd asleep for nine long years; at length
Both sides resolv'd to push, we try'd our strength
Now what did Ajax, while our arms took breath,
Vers'd only in the gross mechanick trade of death?
If you require my deeds, with ambush'd arms
I trapp'd the foe, or tir'd with false alarms;
Secur'd the ships, drew lines along the plain,
The fainting chear'd, chastis'd the rebel-train,
Provided forage, our spent arms renew'd;
Employ'd at home, or sent abroad, the common cause
The king, deluded in a dream by Jove,
Despair'd to take the town, and order'd to remove.
What subject durst arraign the Pow'r supream,
Producing Jove to justifie his dream?
Ajax might wish the soldiers to retain
From shameful flight, but wishes were in vain:
As wanting of effect had been his words,
Such as of course his thundring tongue affords.
But did this boaster threaten, did he pray,
Or by his own example urge their stay?
None, none of these: but ran himself away.
I saw him run, and was asham'd to see;
Who ply'd his feet so fast to get aboard, as he?
Then speeding through the place, I made a stand,
And loudly cry'd, O base degenerate band,
To leave a town already in your hand!
After so long expence of blood, for fame,
To bring home nothing, but perpetual shame!
These words, or what I have forgotten since
(For grief inspir'd me then with eloquence),
Reduc'd their minds; they leave the crowded port,
And to their late forsaken camp resort:
Dismay'd the council met: this man was there,
But mute, and not recover'd of his fear:
Thersites tax'd the king, and loudly rail'd,
But his wide opening mouth with blows I seal'd.
Then, rising, I excite their souls to fame,
And kindle sleeping virtue into flame.
From thence, whatever he perform'd in fight
Is justly mine, who drew him back from flight.
Which of the Grecian chiefs consorts with thee?
But Diomede desires my company,
And still communicates his praise with me.
As guided by a God, secure he goes,
Arm'd with my fellowship, amid the foes:
And sure no little merit I may boast,
Whom such a man selects from such an hoast;
Unforc'd by lots I went without affright,
To dare with him the dangers of the night:
On the same errand sent, we met the spy
Of Hector, double-tongu'd, and us'd to lie;
Him I dispatch'd, but not 'till undermin'd,
I drew him first to tell, what treach'rous Troy
My task perform'd, with praise I had retir'd,
But not content with this, to greater praise
Invaded Rhesus, and his Thracian crew,
And him, and his, in their own strength I slew;
Return'd a victor, all my vows compleat,
With the king's chariot, in his royal seat:
Refuse me now his arms, whose fiery steeds
Were promis'd to the spy for his nocturnal deeds:
Yet let dull Ajax bear away my right,
When all his days out-balance this one night.
Nor fought I darkling still: the sun beheld
With slaughter'd Lycians when I strew'd the field:
You saw, and counted as I pass'd along,
Alastor, Chromius, Ceranos the strong,
Alcander, Prytanis, and Halius,
Noemon, Charopes, and Ennomus;
Coon, Chersidamas; and five beside,
Men of obscure descent, but courage try'd:
All these this hand laid breathless on the ground;
Nor want I proofs of many a manly wound:
All honest, all before: believe not me;
Words may deceive, but credit what you see.
At this he bar'd his breast, and show'd his
As of a furrow'd field, well plow'd with wars;
Nor is this part unexercis'd, said he;
That gyant-bulk of his from wounds is free:
Safe in his shield he fears no foe to try,
And better manages his blood, than I:
But this avails me not; our boaster strove
Not with our foes alone, but partial Jove,
To save the fleet: this I confess is true
(Nor will I take from any man his due):
But thus assuming all, he robs from you.
Some part of honour to your share will fall,
He did the best indeed, but did not all.
Patroclus in Achilles' arms, and thought
The chief he seem'd, with equal ardour fought;
Preserv'd the fleet, repell'd the raging fire,
And forc'd the fearful Trojans to retire.
But Ajax boasts, that he was only thought
A match for Hector, who the combat sought:
Sure he forgets the king, the chiefs, and me:
All were as eager for the fight, as he:
He but the ninth, and not by publick voice,
Or ours preferr'd, was only Fortune's choice:
They fought; nor can our hero boast th' event,
For Hector from the field unwounded went.
Why am I forc'd to name that fatal day,
That snatch'd the prop and pride of Greece away?
I saw Pelides sink, with pious grief,
And ran in vain, alas! to his relief;
For the brave soul was fled: full of my friend
I rush'd amid the war, his relicks to defend:
Nor ceas'd my toil, 'till I redeem'd the prey,
And, loaded with Achilles, march'd away:
Those arms, which on these shoulders then I bore,
'Tis just you to these shoulders should restore.
You see I want not nerves, who cou'd sustain
The pond'rous ruins of so great a man:
Or if in others equal force you find,
None is endu'd with a more grateful mind.
Did Thetis then, ambitious in her care,
These arms thus labour'd for her son prepare;
That Ajax after him the heav'nly gift shou'd wear!
For that dull soul to stare with stupid eyes,
On the learn'd unintelligible prize!
What are to him the sculptures of the shield,
Heav'n's planets, Earth, and Ocean's watry field?
The Pleiads, Hyads; less, and greater Bear,
Undipp'd in seas; Orion's angry star;
Two diff'ring cities, grav'd on either hand;
Would he wear arms he cannot understand?
Beside, what wise objections he prepares
Against my late accession to the wars?
Does not the fool perceive his argument
Is with more force against Achilles bent?
For if dissembling be so great a crime,
The fault is common, and the same in him:
And if he taxes both of long delay,
My guilt is less, who sooner came away.
His pious mother, anxious for his life,
Detain'd her son; and me, my pious wife.
To them the blossoms of our youth were due,
Our riper manhood we reserv'd for you.
But grant me guilty, 'tis not much my care,
When with so great a man my guilt I share:
My wit to war the matchless hero brought,
But by this fool I never had been caught.
Nor need I wonder, that on me he threw
Such foul aspersions, when he spares not you:
If Palamede unjustly fell by me,
Your honour suffer'd in th' unjust decree:
I but accus'd, you doom'd: and yet he dy'd,
Convinc'd of treason, and was fairly try'd:
You heard not he was false; your eyes beheld
The traytor manifest; the bribe reveal'd.
That Philoctetes is on Lemnos left,
Wounded, forlorn, of human aid bereft,
Is not my crime, or not my crime alone;
Defend your justice, for the fact's your own:
'Tis true, th' advice was mine; that staying there
He might his weary limbs with rest repair,
From a long voyage free, and from a longer war.
He took the counsl, and he lives at least;
Th' event declares I counsell'd for the best:
Though faith is all in ministers of state;
For who can promise to be fortunate?
Now since his arrows are the Fate of Troy,
Do not my wit, or weak address, employ;
Send Ajax there, with his persuasive sense,
To mollifie the man, and draw him thence:
But Xanthus shall run backward; Ida stand
A leafless mountain; and the Grecian band
Shall fight for Troy; if, when my councils fail,
The wit of heavy Ajax can prevail.
Hard Philoctetes, exercise thy spleen
Against thy fellows, and the king of men;
Curse my devoted head, above the rest,
And wish in arms to meet me breast to breast:
Yet I the dang'rous task will undertake,
And either die my self, or bring thee back.
Nor doubt the same success, as when before
The Phrygian prophet to these tents I bore,
Surpriz'd by night, and forc'd him to declare
In what was plac'd the fortune of the war,
Heav'n's dark decrees, and answers to display,
And how to take the town, and where the secret lay:
Yet this I compass'd, and from Troy convey'd
The fatal image of their guardian-maid;
That work was mine; for Pallas, though our friend,
Yet while she was in Troy, did Troy defend.
Now what has Ajax done, or what design'd?
A noisie nothing, and an empty wind.
If he be what he promises in show,
Why was I sent, and why fear'd he to go?
Our boasting champion thought the task not light
To pass the guards, commit himself to night;
Not only through a hostile town to pass,
But scale, with steep ascent, the sacred place;
With wand'ring steps to search the cittadel,
And from the priests their patroness to steal:
Then through surrounding foes to force my way,
And bear in triumph home the heavn'ly prey;
Which had I not, Ajax in vain had held,
Before that monst'rous bulk, his sev'nfold shield.
That night to conquer Troy I might be said,
When Troy was liable to conquest made.
Why point'st thou to my partner of the war?
Tydides had indeed a worthy share
In all my toil, and praise; but when thy might
Our ships protected, did'st thou singly fight?
All join'd, and thou of many wert but one;
I ask'd no friend, nor had, but him alone:
Who, had he not been well assur'd, that art,
And conduct were of war the better part,
And more avail'd than strength, my valiant friend
Had urg'd a better right, than Ajax can pretend:
As good at least Eurypilus may claim,
And the more mod'rate Ajax of the name:
The Cretan king, and his brave charioteer,
And Menelaus bold with sword, and spear:
All these had been my rivals in the shield,
And yet all these to my pretensions yield.
Thy boist'rous hands are then of use, when I
With this directing head those hands apply.
Brawn without brain is thine: my prudent care
Foresees, provides, administers the war:
Thy province is to fight; but when shall be
The time to fight, the king consults with me:
No dram of judgment with thy force is join'd:
Thy body is of profit, and my mind.
By how much more the ship her safety owes
To him who steers, than him that only rows;
By how much more the captain merits praise,
Than he who fights, and fighting but obeys;
By so much greater is my worth than thine,
Who canst but execute, what I design.
What gain'st thou, brutal man, if I confess
Thy strength superior, when thy wit is less?
Mind is the man: I claim my whole desert,
From the mind's vigour, and th' immortal part.
But you, o Grecian chiefs, reward my care,
Be grateful to your watchman of the war:
For all my labours in so long a space,
Sure I may plead a title to your grace:
Enter the town, I then unbarr'd the gates,
When I remov'd their tutelary Fates.
By all our common hopes, if hopes they be
Which I have now reduc'd to certainty;
By falling Troy, by yonder tott'ring tow'rs,
And by their taken Gods, which now are ours;
Or if there yet a farther task remains,
To be perform'd by prudence, or by pains;
If yet some desp'rate action rests behind,
That asks high conduct, and a dauntless mind;
If ought be wanting to the Trojan doom,
Which none but I can manage, and o'ercome,
Award, those arms I ask, by your decree:
Or give to this, what you refuse to me.
He ceas'd: and ceasing with respect he bow'd,
And with his hand at once the fatal statue show'd.
Heav'n, air and ocean rung, with loud applause,
And by the gen'ral vote he gain'd his cause.
Thus conduct won the prize, when courage fail'd,
And eloquence o'er brutal force prevail'd.
The Death of He who cou'd often, and alone, withstand
Ajax The foe, the fire, and Jove's own partial hand,
Now cannot his unmaster'd grief sustain,
But yields to rage, to madness, and disdain;
Then snatching out his fauchion, Thou, said he,
Art mine; Ulysses lays no claim to thee.
O often try'd, and ever-trusty sword,
Now do thy last kind office to thy lord:
'Tis Ajax who requests thy aid, to show
None but himself, himself cou'd overthrow:
He said, and with so good a will to die,
Did to his breast the fatal point apply,
It found his heart, a way 'till then unknown,
Where never weapon enter'd, but his own.
No hands cou'd force it thence, so fix'd it stood,
'Till out it rush'd, expell'd by streams of
The fruitful blood produc'd a flow'r, which grew
On a green stem; and of a purple hue:
Like his, whom unaware Apollo slew:
Inscrib'd in both, the letters are the same,
But those express the grief, and these the name.
The Story of The victor with full sails for Lemnos stood
Polyxena and (Once stain'd by matrons with their husbands'
Thence great Alcides' fatal shafts to bear,
Assign'd to Philoctetes' secret care.
These with their guardian to the Greeks convey'd,
Their ten years' toil with wish'd success repaid.
With Troy old Priam falls: his queen survives;
'Till all her woes compleat, transform'd she
In borrow'd sounds, nor with an human face,
Barking tremendous o'er the plains of Thrace.
Still Ilium's flames their pointed columns raise,
And the red Hellespont reflects the blaze.
Shed on Jove's altar are the poor remains
Of blood, which trickl'd from old Priam's veins.
Cassandra lifts her hands to Heav'n in vain,
Drag'd by her sacred hair; the trembling train
Of matrons to their burning temples fly:
There to their Gods for kind protection cry;
And to their statues cling 'till forc'd away,
The victor Greeks bear off th' invidious prey.
From those high tow'rs Astyanax is thrown,
Whence he was wont with pleasure to look down.
When oft his mother with a fond delight
Pointed to view his father's rage in fight,
To win renown, and guard his country's right.
The winds now call to sea; brisk northern gales
Sing in the shrowds, and court the spreading sails.
Farewel, dear Troy, the captive matrons cry;
Yes, we must leave our long-lov'd native sky.
Then prostrate on the shore they kiss the sand,
And quit the smoking ruines of the land.
Last Hecuba on board, sad sight! appears;
Found weeping o'er her children's sepulchres:
Drag'd by Ulysses from her slaughter'd sons,
Whilst yet she graspt their tombs, and kist their
Yet Hector's ashes from his urn she bore,
And in her bosom the sad relique wore:
Then scatter'd on his tomb her hoary hairs,
A poor oblation mingled with her tears.
Oppos'd to Ilium lye the Thracian plains,
Where Polymestor safe in plenty reigns.
King Priam to his care commits his son,
Young Polydore, the chance of war to shun.
A wise precaution! had not gold, consign'd
For the child's use, debauch'd the tyrant's mind.
When sinking Troy to its last period drew,
With impious hands his royal charge he slew;
Then in the sea the lifeless coarse is thrown;
As with the body he the guilt could drown.
The Greeks now riding on the Thracian shore,
'Till kinder gales invite, their vessels moor.
Here the wide-op'ning Earth to sudden view
Disclos'd Achilles, great as when he drew
The vital air, but fierce with proud disdain,
As when he sought Briseis to regain;
When stern debate, and rash injurious strife
Unsheath'd his sword, to reach Atrides' life.
And will ye go? he said. Is then the name
Of the once great Achilles lost to fame?
Yet stay, ungrateful Greeks; nor let me sue
In vain for honours to my Manes due.
For this just end, Polyxena I doom
With victim-rites to grace my slighted tomb.
The phantom spoke; the ready Greeks obey'd,
And to the tomb led the devoted maid
Snatch'd from her mother, who with pious care
Cherish'd this last relief of her despair.
Superior to her sex, the fearless maid,
Approach'd the altar, and around survey'd
The cruel rites, and consecrated knife,
Which Pyrrhus pointed at her guiltless life,
Then as with stern amaze intent he stood,
"Now strike," she said; "now spill my genr'ous
Deep in my breast, or throat, your dagger sheath,
Whilst thus I stand prepar'd to meet my death.
For life on terms of slav'ry I despise:
Yet sure no God approves this sacrifice.
O cou'd I but conceal this dire event
From my sad mother, I should dye content.
Yet should she not with tears my death deplore,
Since her own wretched life demands them more.
But let not the rude touch of man pollute
A virgin-victim; 'tis a modest suit.
It best will please, whoe'er demands my blood,
That I untainted reach the Stygian flood.
Yet let one short, last, dying prayer be heard;
To Priam's daughter pay this last regard;
'Tis Priam's daughter, not a captive, sues;
Do not the rites of sepulture refuse.
To my afflicted mother, I implore,
Free without ransom my dead corpse restore:
Nor barter me for gain, when I am cold;
But be her tears the price, if I am sold:
Time was she could have ransom'd me with gold".
Thus as she pray'd, one common shower of tears
Burst forth, and stream'd from ev'ry eye but hers.
Ev'n the priest wept, and with a rude remorse
Plung'd in her heart the steel's resistless force.
Her slacken'd limbs sunk gently to the ground,
Dauntless her looks, unalter'd by the wound.
And as she fell, she strove with decent pride
To hide, what suits a virgin's care to hide.
The Trojan matrons the pale corpse receive,
And the whole slaughter'd race of Priam grieve,
Sad they recount the long disastrous tale;
Then with fresh tears, thee, royal maid, bewail;
Thy widow'd mother too, who flourish'd late
The royal pride of Asia's happier state:
A captive lot now to Ulysses born;
Whom yet the victor would reject with scorn,
Were she not Hector's mother: Hector's fame
Scarce can a master for his mother claim!
With strict embrace the lifeless coarse she view'd;
And her fresh grief that flood of tears renew'd,
With which she lately mourn'd so many dead;
Tears for her country, sons, and husband shed.
With the thick gushing stream she bath'd the wound;
Kiss'd her pale lips; then weltring on the ground,
With wonted rage her frantick bosom tore;
Sweeping her hair amidst the clotted gore;
Whilst her sad accents thus her loss deplore.
"Behold a mother's last dear pledge of woe!
Yes, 'tis the last I have to suffer now.
Thou, my Polyxena, my ills must crown:
Already in thy Fate, I feel my own.
'Tis thus, lest haply of my numerous seed
One should unslaughter'd fall, even thou must
And yet I hop'd thy sex had been thy guard;
But neither has thy tender sex been spar'd.
The same Achilles, by whose deadly hate
Thy brothers fell, urg'd thy untimely fate!
The same Achilles, whose destructive rage
Laid waste my realms, has robb'd my childless age.
When Paris' shafts with Phoebus' certain aid
At length had pierc'd this dreaded chief, I said,
Secure of future ills, he can no more:
But see, he still pursues me as before.
With rage rekindled his dead ashes burn;
And his yet murd'ring ghost my wretched house must
This tyrant's lust of slaughter I have fed
With large supplies from my too-fruitful bed.
Troy's tow'rs lye waste; and the wide ruin ends
The publick woe; but me fresh woe attends.
Troy still survives to me; to none but me;
And from its ills I never must be free.
I, who so late had power, and wealth, and ease,
Bless'd with my husband, and a large encrease,
Must now in poverty an exile mourn;
Ev'n from the tombs of my dead offspring torn:
Giv'n to Penelope, who proud of spoil,
Allots me to the loom's ungrateful toil;
Points to her dames, and crys with scorning mien:
See Hector's mother, and great Priam's queen!
And thou, my child, sole hope of all that's lost,
Thou now art slain, to sooth this hostile ghost.
Yes, my child falls an offering to my foe!
Then what am I, who still survive this woe?
Say, cruel Gods! for what new scenes of death
Must a poor aged wretch prolong this hated breath?
Troy fal'n, to whom could Priam happy seem?
Yet was he so; and happy must I deem
His death; for O! my child, he saw not thine,
When he his life did with his Troy resign.
Yet sure due obsequies thy tomb might grace;
And thou shalt sleep amidst thy kingly race.
Alas! my child, such fortune does not wait
Our suffering house in this abandon'd state.
A foreign grave, and thy poor mother's tears
Are all the honours that attend thy herse.
All now is lost!- Yet no; one comfort more
Of life remains, my much-lov'd Polydore.
My youngest hope: here on this coast he lives,
Nurs'd by the guardian-king, he still survives.
Then let me hasten to the cleansing flood,
And wash away these stains of guiltless blood."
Streit to the shore her feeble steps repair
With limping pace, and torn dishevell'd hair
Silver'd with age. "Give me an urn," she cry'd,
"To bear back water from this swelling tide":
When on the banks her son in ghastly hue
Transfix'd with Thracian arrows strikes her view.
The matrons shriek'd; her big-swoln grief surpast
The pow'r of utterance; she stood aghast;
She had nor speech, nor tears to give relief;
Excess of woe suppress'd the rising grief.
Lifeless as stone, on Earth she fix'd her eyes;
And then look'd up to Heav'n with wild surprise.
Now she contemplates o'er with sad delight
Her son's pale visage; then her aking sight
Dwells on his wounds: she varys thus by turns,
Wild as the mother-lion, when among
The haunts of prey she seeks her ravish'd young:
Swift flies the ravisher; she marks his trace,
And by the print directs her anxious chase.
So Hecuba with mingled grief, and rage
Pursues the king, regardless of her age.
She greets the murd'rer with dissembled joy
Of secret treasure hoarded for her boy.
The specious tale th' unwary king betray'd.
Fir'd with the hopes of prey: "Give quick," he said
With soft enticing speech, "the promis'd store:
Whate'er you give, you give to Polydore.
Your son, by the immortal Gods I swear,
Shall this with all your former bounty share."
She stands attentive to his soothing lyes,
And darts avenging horrour from her eyes.
Then full resentment fires her boyling blood:
She springs upon him, 'midst the captive crowd
(Her thirst of vengeance want of strength
Fastens her forky fingers in his eyes:
Tears out the rooted balls; her rage pursues,
And in the hollow orbs her hand imbrews.
The Thracians, fir'd, at this inhuman scene,
With darts, and stones assail the frantick queen.
She snarls, and growls, nor in an human tone;
Then bites impatient at the bounding stone;
Extends her jaws, as she her voice would raise
To keen invectives in her wonted phrase;
But barks, and thence the yelping brute betrays.
Still a sad monument the place remains,
And from this monstrous change its name obtains:
Where she, in long remembrance of her ills,
With plaintive howlings the wide desart fills.
Greeks, Trojans, friends, and foes, and Gods
Her num'rous wrongs to just compassion move.
Ev'n Juno's self forgets her ancient hate,
And owns, she had deserv'd a milder fate.
The Funeral of Yet bright Aurora, partial as she was
Memnon To Troy, and those that lov'd the Trojan cause,
Nor Troy, nor Hecuba can now bemoan,
But weeps a sad misfortune, more her own.
Her offspring Memnon, by Achilles slain,
She saw extended on the Phrygian plain:
She saw, and strait the purple beams, that grace
The rosie morning, vanish'd from her face;
A deadly pale her wonted bloom invades,
And veils the lowring skies with mournful shades.
But when his limbs upon the pile were laid,
The last kind duty that by friends is paid,
His mother to the skies directs her flight,
Nor cou'd sustain to view the doleful sight:
But frantick, with her loose neglected hair,
Hastens to Jove, and falls a suppliant there.
O king of Heav'n, o father of the skies,
The weeping Goddess passionately cries,
Tho' I the meanest of immortals am,
And fewest temples celebrate my fame,
Yet still a Goddess, I presume to come
Within the verge of your etherial dome:
Yet still may plead some merit, if my light
With purple dawn controuls the Pow'rs of night;
If from a female hand that virtue springs,
Which to the Gods, and men such pleasure brings.
Yet I nor honours seek, nor rites divine,
Nor for more altars, or more fanes repine;
Oh! that such trifles were the only cause,
From whence Aurora's mind its anguish draws!
For Memnon lost, my dearest only child,
With weightier grief my heavy heart is fill'd;
My warrior son! that liv'd but half his time,
Nipt in the bud, and blasted in his prime;
Who for his uncle early took the field,
And by Achilles' fatal spear was kill'd.
To whom but Jove shou'd I for succour come?
For Jove alone cou'd fix his cruel doom.
O sov'reign of the Gods accept my pray'r,
Grant my request, and sooth a mother's care;
On the deceas'd some solemn boon bestow,
To expiate the loss, and ease my woe.
Jove, with a nod, comply'd with her desire;
Around the body flam'd the fun'ral fire;
The pile decreas'd, that lately seem'd so high,
And sheets of smoak roll'd upward to the sky:
As humid vapours from a marshy bog,
Rise by degrees, condensing into fog,
That intercept the sun's enliv'ning ray,
And with a cloud infect the chearful day.
The sooty ashes wafted by the air,
Whirl round, and thicken in a body there;
Then take a form, which their own heat, and fire
With active life, and energy inspire.
Its lightness makes it seem to fly, and soon
It skims on real wings, that are its own;
A real bird, it beats the breezy wind,
Mix'd with a thousand sisters of the kind,
That, from the same formation newly sprung,
Up-born aloft on plumy pinions hung.
Thrice round the pile advanc'd the circling throng.
Thrice, with their wings, a whizzing consort rung.
In the fourth flight their squadron they divide,
Rank'd in two diff'rent troops, on either side:
Then two, and two, inspir'd with martial rage,
From either troop in equal pairs engage.
Each combatant with beak, and pounces press'd,
In wrathful ire, his adversary's breast;
Each falls a victim, to preserve the fame
Of that great hero, whence their being came.
From him their courage, and their name they take,
And, as they liv'd, they dye for Memnon's sake.
Punctual to time, with each revolving year,
In fresh array the champion birds appear;
Again, prepar'd with vengeful minds, they come
To bleed, in honour of the souldier's tomb.
Therefore in others it appear'd not strange,
To grieve for Hecuba's unhappy change:
But poor Aurora had enough to do
With her own loss, to mind another's woe;
Who still in tears, her tender nature shews,
Besprinkling all the world with pearly dews.
The Voyage of Troy thus destroy'd, 'twas still deny'd by Fate,
Aeneas The hopes of Troy should perish with the state.
His sire, the son of Cytherea bore,
And household-Gods from burning Ilium's shore,
The pious prince (a double duty paid)
Each sacred burthen thro' the flames convey'd.
With young Ascanius, and this only prize,
Of heaps of wealth, he from Antandros flies;
But struck with horror, left the Thracian shore,
Stain'd with the blood of murder'd Polydore.
The Delian isle receives the banish'd train,
Driv'n by kind gales, and favour'd by the main.
Here pious Anius, priest, and monarch reign'd,
And either charge, with equal care sustain'd,
His subjects rul'd, to Phoebus homage pay'd,
His God obeying, and by those obey'd.
The priest displays his hospitable gate,
And shows the riches of his church, and state
The sacred shrubs, which eas'd Latona's pain,
The palm, and olive, and the votive fane.
Here grateful flames with fuming incense fed,
And mingled wine, ambrosial odours shed;
Of slaughter'd steers the crackling entrails
And then the strangers to the court return'd.
On beds of tap'stry plac'd aloft, they dine
With Ceres' gift, and flowing bowls of wine;
When thus Anchises spoke, amidst the feast:
Say, mitred monarch, Phoebus' chosen priest,
Or (e'er from Troy by cruel Fate expell'd)
When first mine eyes these sacred walls beheld,
A son, and twice two daughters crown'd thy bliss?
Or errs my mem'ry, and I judge amiss?
The royal prophet shook his hoary head,
With snowy fillets bound, and sighing, said:
Shes On Fire
Oh, shes on fire
Oh, shes on fire
Hot to trot, shes a bit insane
Little bit of pleasure
With a little bit of pain
I got to be smokin
So I know without a doubt
Where theres the smoke
Theres the fire, so I gotta boot it out
Say oh, shes on fire
Oh, shes on fire
Only child with a hang down lip
Starve for love and you pay your chip
Little by little, catch enough to me
Shes more of a woman
And I thought shed be to me
Hungry girl, shes a city slick
Sayin the one, on a losin stick
Shes on fire
She chop my head on a guillotine
Shes my flame, shes a feather my chief
Shes on fire
Mother To Hold
I drew her near and kissed
She was so much near yet missed
She was, in fact, eye ball for my existence
I may sometimes go mad if not see her by chance
Every parent may be feeling same
Lot more love to give than it had to come
I may guess what she will look like when fully grown
With strong wings she may go away or simply flown
I pulled her close and raised in air
She was so lovely to be looked at curly hair
I needed no medium to enjoy vacuum
She may cry and fill the air with full volume
As child, she has brought personal fortune
Now I have no worries and sing to the happy tune
She may come and speak in unclear voice
I raise her again to fulfill all my promises
One child is enough for mother
To feel entire world and close in on her
What will happen if she is lost for few seconds?
I shall run like fish in entire pond
She is part and parcel of my flesh
How red shine appear on face and seem so fresh?
So many times I used to slip in distant memory
Only to come back with negative ideas to worry
She is only child with me to look after
I feel happy and burst into laughter
I look at her eyes and take pride
What else is there for me to hide?
It is treasure of mother to hold
It is not less than diamond or gold
Her presence itself takes away all gloom
There is joy and happiness filled in the room
I become nervous when she is unwell
Rush to neighbors and impatiently tell
About her illness and ask for remedy
They will rush along with me to provide it ready
Love has no utility purpose.
Mother was dear; I hardly listened.
Wife was dear; times I declined.
Child was dear; often I disciplined.
Grandchild was dearest. I let loose her.
Mother, wife, and children all
Were to contribute to my future
But not so is the grand child,
With my future at its end.
Why should I love her most?
True love has no utility value.
A One-Child Policy Won’t Work
A billion mouths to feed looks too scary!
A billion need shelters and clothes as well;
A billion need education and jobs;
A billion seems quite frightening to cope with!
World’s food is lesser, prices are climbing;
The human resource has a peak effect;
The population boom is not man’s realm;
Can you prevent the lives loss from great floods?
No laws can curb the population boom;
Man must be humane to all mankind first;
Men shouldn’t be treated akin to caged beasts;
God only knows the future of our earth!
But democracy, communism fail;
One child a family brings more problems;
Can you guarantee health, long life for one?
Lost are lives by accidents, diseases.
God gave Adam, an Eve as companion;
A child needs one other to talk and play;
Who will take care of elderly persons?
Whole families will get erased from earth!
And natural calamities take their toll;
The world can’t deal with corruption at all;
And terrorists are striking everywhere;
Thus, human life has no security!
A person dies from flimsy reasons too;
None can prevent the suicides and homicides;
And cancer defies cure and palliation;
Can one then risk having an only child?
A one-child-policy will be a flop!
Demographically, it is dangerous;
More families will vanish from the earth;
Elderly will be vanquished without care!
With fifty-year of reproductive life,
forcing families to have just single child?
’Tis bound to bring on newer problems more;
This world cannot be ruled by human sway!
The whip or gun can’t solve all problems, man!
The world can’t turn a police-state for all;
Each one has freedom to do things on earth;
Targeting wombs can’t bring down human births!
Abort all abortion programs on earth;
The blood of innocents asks for revenge;
Can God of fairness support unfairness?
Ask God for help to contain ‘baby-boom’!
’Tis madness to embark on such programs;
The world could soon become a slaughter-house!
You have to build more jails rather than homes;
When God is forgotten, no nation thrives!
Let man not block the Mother Nature’s ways;
Let man not destroy Nature’s balances;
But if he does, the loser will be man;
God will not allow man to change His plan!
Listen to Nature talk and whisper, man!
Learn to unravel her secrets galore;
Never put hurdles across her ways more;
The human race can’t tread perilous paths.
Copyright by Dr John Celes 07-10-10
- quotes about family
- quotes about old age
- quotes about elders
- quotes about population
- quotes about justice
- quotes about birth
- quotes about men
- quotes about Earth
Dangerous To Love Things That Perish
for Louise and Morgan
Dangerous to love things that perish
but cowardly not to.
You weren't just a cat.
You were Morgan.
as when I first saw you as a kitten
cupped in Louise's hands
a whiff of incense
a gust of stars
someone in love had breathed out.
And we loved you.
And now you're dead.
And there are two more people in the world
who can't stop weeping.
Because there is no now
in the suddenness of death
and it's colder in our hearts than it is outside
because your absence
like your body
doesn't have a temperature anymore.
And there's a dagger of darkness
that's thrust through everything
as if God were an assassin
in some kind of video killing game
that put black holes to shame.
Or is it just the impersonality of life
that it seems to derive a cheap thrill
from killing the things it creates
without knowing their names?
Morgan the Cat.
A work of genius.
And you'd be a whole lot wiser than you are
not to forget it
because she was a goddess in her own rite.
She was the auroral shapeshifter
that was born a kitten
but grew up to be more than a human
because we always wished
we had more of her characteristics
than the ones we had as a superior species
and we worshipped her
and paid her the attentive kind of tribute
that was and is the natural due of her magical virtues.
And Morgan though it's doubtful you can hear us now
where you can breathe easy out in the open
like the cool breeze you always were
among the wildflowers that look like stars
and copulate with Orion
the only cat who ever loved you back
as much as you like
without any one throwing cold water on it
because humans have learned to live like prophylactics
we want you to know somehow in some mysterious way
our species hasn't discovered yet
how much you did to improve our innocence
by watching you live your life
as if you were born
knowing how to live
and didn't have to work at it as we do.
You were tenderness with claws.
A female buddha with the eyes of a warrior
that were the envy of the moon.
A boddhicatva who didn't answer to anyone
if you can forgive a bad pun
but showed us the way in
to the feline felicity of a paradise
that was as open as space to everyone.
You were the embodiment
of an affection and gentleness
that lingered like smoke in the air
above the cat's eye flame of a candle
that God just blew out.
And the stars mourn as we do so deeply
even the darkness is panicked
that it will be turned inside out
like an absolute certainty from an absolute doubt.
There's a blackhole in the heart of the light
that can't be eclipsed by insight
and the reality of you in your flesh and your fur
no longer sitting by us on the floor
listening in with your eyes closed
as if even when you were sleeping
your ears were always awake
is a wound so deep
a rip in the sky so irreparable
that nothing that pours out of it by way
of tears and stars
thoughts or feelings
though blood pour from our eyes
could ever be worthy of it.
Thank-you for the love
that always fell into our laps like you.
Like an unexpected reward
for just being us.
Thank-you for teaching us
how to love you unconditionally
and knowing like a quiet healer
just when to apply your presence
like a soothing herb
to the hurts and fevers that afflicted us.
Sad and alone in the dead zone of an unanswerable room
you'd rub your tiny skull
with its walnut sized brain
against my leg
and I'd realize
that it was you not me
with my three and a half pounds of neocortical starmud
for all the lightyears I've been searching
that had found the philosopher's stone
the moment you opened your eyes as a kitten
and you could work miraculous transformations
with the slightest touch of affection
or the nudge of a small wet nose.
When even God and Lucifer couldn't move me
if they were to try and change my mood
as easily as Morgana la Fay moved Merlin
with her felicity for emotional alchemy.
So many times when all I thought I could do
to save the situation
was let go
you flowed like water around my legs.
Sometimes it takes a river
to remind the bridge
what it stands for
and keep its spirits up.
Sometimes the thread of life
passes through the eye of a needle
in the form of a cat
and the rip in the sky
where all the stars were pouring out
is patched up
with a single act of seeing
when a cat looks at you a moment
and then closes its eyes in contentment
like the new moon in the old moon's arms.
You were Louise's child.
You followed her around like a third eye
that could see into the future
like the front door you sat beside for aeons like a sphinx
waiting for her to come home
with the blue bag of salmon-flavoured cat treats.
I never saw you as her shadow.
You were more
a mirror with a mind of your own
that could look deeply into her spirit
and see your own reflection.
You were her affable familiar.
Her talismanic charm
against the obscenity of human lovelessness.
Her emergency exit.
Her fire alarm.
You were the whiff of smoke that woke her up.
If she were the long hard art
of learning how to be mastered by love.
You were the discipline
waiting on the other side of the door
that made her trudge to the store in the snow
to be sure you got your treats.
And when she returned
you'd study everything going on in the room
as if you were looking at it all for the first time
but the more I looked at you looking at us
the more I realized
you weren't the student
you were a school
that compassionately exempted fools like us.
And now sweet one
what is it
that you want us to learn
from your perpetual absence?
As you once sweetened our lives
are you now trying
to sweeten death?
Are you trying to teach us how to see in the darkness?
To let go of our grief
as if that weren't the only thing we had left to hold on to?
The silence in the house is a lot lonelier
for the lack of your whisper
to confide in
like a secret you kept to yourself
when no one else was home.
The birds and the windows keep waiting
for you to jump up at them any moment now
but it's beginning to dawn on them you can't anymore
and it isn't just the rain
that's making the glass cry.
Who's going to stare at the plaster for hours
like Bodhidharma meditating in his cave
listening to the baby squirrels
learning to crawl through the walls
now that you're not sitting there
tense as an archer
and as attentive as a Zen master?
You had a C-spot under your neck
close to your jugular
that could make you purr
when anyone pampered it like Cleopatra.
Now who's going to know how
wherever you are
to make you stretch your claws out
like crescents of the moon
and make the green honey of your eyes
ripen into gold?
There's a darkness in the heart of grief
that burns like a black fire
all these tears can't seem to put out.
It's a measure of the love you inspired in us
that we'd rather let the pain of missing you
consume us in the flames
some tender eccentricity of your cathood
even in the midst of trying to let life
get on with us without you
than ever let death make you a stranger to us.
You were Bast the Egyptian cat goddess among us in the flesh.
We learned to read your eyes like a Druidic Ogham
like phases of the moon as it waxed and waned.
One glance and I knew what you wanted.
You were a rose with retractable thorns
and we'd watch you for hours
wondering what you were dreaming
under your twitching eyelids.
And the tenderness that people are afraid
to expose to each other
because they haven't learned to walk through life skinless
we showed to you
without feeling that even the slightest gesture of it
was ever wasted
or that the spirit didn't recognize its own
whether it was embodied by a cat or a human.
you're among the stars now
like a gust of light on the road of ghosts
like a hurricane that found rest in the eye of it own turbulence
like a cat-muse among these words
that can feel you watching them like birds
from your perch in the cosmic window
at the foot of the bed in Louise's room.
though there's this black hole
your absence has left in the middle of everything
it's not an exit.
It's an entrance.
It's the way you taught us
how to diminish the darkness
by growing bigger eyes
to get the most light out of it
even when we think
as we do now
that there's nothing left
in this starless night
that could shine.
That the winds of time
have swept the last of the blossoms away
like phases of the moon
and even our tears
are the one-way tides
of the heart-numbing farewells
the whole of our lives seem.
Did we have the dream
or did the dream have us
or is it only the nightmares
that wake up screaming out in their sleep somewhere
where the pillows are wet
and the mothers come running
to reassure them
that what they thought they saw in the dark
was not real?
It was just another human
summoning some lost joy from the past
like the ghost of a watershed
that keeps recalling things
as if it were alone at night in a dark museum.
But an abyss isn't just an abyss.
It's also a fountain.
Everything reveals its emptiness
in the fullness of life
like the depth of the valley
is revealed by the height of the mountain.
The sweet brief life of the blossom
is the bright vacancy
rooted in the dark abundance
of the indelibility of the way we change.
To be here once
should be enough
to prove to anyone
that they've been here forever.
Life leaves signs
that anyone can follow back to themselves
like leaves on the mindstreams of their flowing.
They had to let go of the tree like maps
to know which way they're going.
It's the same with humans and cats.
Life breathes on the ashes of the starstreams
and everything starts glowing
like the eyes of a cat in the dark.
it hurts not to see you
mesmerized by the turning water in the toilet-bowl
or sleeping in the bottom of the tub
or the end of my bed
or across the top of the easy chair
like a strategic adornment
keeping one ear open
to everything that was going on around you?
It hurts to wonder
what Louise is going to use for an alarm clock now
that you're not there
to lick her eyelids awake in the morning
and where are the candles
where are the plants
that could ever take your place in the windowsill
watching for her to come home
as if you were one of the streetlamps?
Sometimes it's hard to know
which hurts worse.
Never to have known love
or realize at times like this
how vast and excruciating the abyss is
how sad and foregone
the sad effusions of sorrow
the begrudging smiles of acceptance
that feel like the scars of an assassin
who doesn't know who to get even with
when even the least atom of something we've truly loved
like the cosmic beginning of everything
in large and small
in the petty and profound alike
in the mystical and the earthbound
in what is different and what is not
in the star and the candle and the phoenix and the firefly
in Louise and her cat
you've left a hole in the light
as big as the universe
and all the stars are pouring out of it
as if the light could cry
for the passing of your radiance
no more than the pupil of an eye
blocks the light from getting in
does the hurt of your death
qualify the dangerous rapture
of having loved you in this life
as well as we knew how to love anything.
We're all on the same journey
though sometimes we change bodies
like forms and shoes along the way
or walk barefoot awhile on stars
along the Road of Ghosts
talking to shoeless angels
about how mysterious it is
that every step of the way
where we come from
is where we're going
and it's not the destination
but the journey itself
that enshrines what is most sacred about life.
Not the arrival.
Not the fulfilment.
Not the completion.
Not the consummation that exhausts us wholly
and leaves us beseeching heaven
or pleading with emptiness
for a clarification of death
like the air we breathe out
leaves us longing for breath.
Our beginnings go on forever without end
and Morgan like you
if we wind up chasing our tails around
it's only because of the great delight we take
in knowing nothing's ever over
and everything is looping
like a snake with its tail in its mouth
or the horizontal eight of eternity
that keeps falling over
like a Bodhidarma doll
and righting itself like spectacles
worn by someone lying down
whose eyes go vertical
whenever they're dreaming.
It's not the farewell of the guest
but the welcome of the host
that we treasure most.
It's not the finding
but the seeking
that's the jewel of our quest.
That's why you stuck your nose into everything
and learned to see with your ears
and hear with your eyes
the wings of the stars and fireflies
that hovered just outside your window
when what was always wild about you
answered the Zen savagery of the night
like an austere summons to life.
Morgan you're gone
but there's no imperative
in why you had to go.
No harsh god.
No assassin cloaked in light.
No doors close
our senses and our hearts
to the earthly delights of loving you.
No gates open
like a cats' eyes
that will not see us return like insight
to the faces of the living creatures
we live to behold in our own features
and touch most gently
II. The Quest Of Silence
Secreta Silvarum: Prelude
Oh yon, when Holda leaves her hill
of winter, on the quest of June,
black oaks with emerald lamplets thrill
that flicker forth to her magic tune.
At dawn the forest shivers whist
and all the hidden glades awake;
then sunshine gems the milk-white mist
and the soft-swaying branches make
along its edge a woven sound
of legends that allure and flit
and horns wound towards the enchanted ground
where, in the light moon-vapours lit,
all night, while the black woods in mass,
serried, forbid with goblin fear,
fay-revels gleam o'er the pale grass
till shrill-throats ring the matins near.
Oh there, oh there in the sweet o' the year,
adventurous in the witching green,
last feal of the errant spear,
to seek the eyes of lost Undine
clear blue above the blue cold stream
that lingers till her plaint be done,
oh, and perchance from that sad dream
to woo her, laughing, to the sun
and that glad blue that seems to flow
far up, where dipping branches lift
sidelong their soft-throng'd frondage slow
and slow the thin cloud-fleecelets drift.
Oh, there to drowse the summer thro'
deep in some odorous twilit lair,
swoon'd in delight of golden dew
within the sylvan witches hair;
the while on half-veil'd eyes to feel
the yellow sunshafts broken dim,
and seldom waftures moth-like steal
and settle, on the bare-flung limb:
or under royal autumn, pall'd
in smouldering magnificence,
to feel the olden heart enthrall'd
in wisdoms of forgotten sense,
and mad desire and pain that fill'd
red August's heart of throbbing bloom
in one grave hour of knowledge still'd
where glory ponders o'er its doom:
and, when the boughs are sombre lace
and silence chisels silver rime,
o'er some old hearth, with dim-lit face,
to dream the vanish'd forest prime,
the springtime's sweet and June's delight,
more precious now that hard winds chill
the dews that made their mornings bright,
and Holda sleeps beneath her hill.
What tho' the outer day be brazen rude
not here the innocence of morn is fled:
this green unbroken dusk attests it wed
with freshness, where the shadowy breasts are nude,
hers guess'd, whose looks, felt dewy-cool, elude —
save this reproach that smiles on foolish dread:
wood-word, grave gladness in its heart, unsaid,
knoweth the guarded name of Quietude.
Nor start, if satyr-shapes across the path
tumble; it is but children: lo, the wrath
couchant, heraldic, of her beasts that pierce
with ivory single horn whate'er misplaced
outrageous nears, or whinny of the fierce
Centaur, or mailed miscreant unchaste.
O friendly shades, where anciently I grew!
me entering at dawn a child ye knew,
all little welcoming leaves, and jealous wove
your roof of lucid emerald above,
that scarce therethro' the envious sun might stray,
save smiling dusk or, lure for idle play,
such glancing finger your chance whim allows,
all that long forenoon of the tuneful boughs;
which growing on, the myriad small noise
and flitting of the wood-life's busy joys,
thro' tenuous weft of sound, had left, divined,
the impending threat of silence, clear, behind:
and, noon now past, that hush descended large
in the wood's heart, and caught me in its marge
of luminous foreboding widely flung;
so hourlong I have stray'd, and tho' among
the glimpsing lures of all green aisles delays
that revelation of its wondrous gaze,
yet am I glad to wander, glad to seek
and find not, so the gather'd tufts bespeak,
naked, reclined, its friendly neighbourhood —
as in this hollow of the rarer wood
where, listening, in the cool glen-shade, with me,
white-bloom'd and quiet, stands a single tree;
rich spilth of gold is on the eastward rise;
westward the violet gloom eludes mine eyes.
This is the house of Pan, not whom blind craze
and babbling wood-wits tell, where bare flints blaze,
noon-tide terrific with the single shout,
but whom behind each bole sly-peering out
the traveller knows, but turning, disappear'd
with chuckle of laughter in his thicket-beard,
and rustle of scurrying faun-feet where the ground
each autumn deeper feels its yellow mound.
Onward: and lo, at length, the secret glade,
soft-gleaming grey, what time the grey trunks fade
in the white vapours o'er its further rim.
'Tis no more time to linger: now more dim
the woods are throng'd to ward the haunted spot
where, as I turn my homeward face, I wot
the nymphs of twilight have resumed, unheard,
their glimmering dance upon the glimmering sward.
The point of noon is past, outside: light is asleep;
brooding upon its perfect hour: the woods are deep
and solemn, fill'd with unseen presences of light
that glint, allure, and hide them; ever yet more bright
(it seems) the turn of a path will show them: nay, but rest;
seek not, and think not; dream, and know not; this is best:
the hour is full; be lost: whispering, the woods are bent,
This is the only revelation; be content.
The forest has its horrors, as the sea:
and ye that enter from the staling lea
into the early freshness kept around
the waiting trunks that watch its rarer bound,
after the glistening song that, sprinkled, leaves
an innocence upon the glancing leaves;
O ye that dream to find the morning yet
secret and chaste, beside her mirror set,
some glimmering source o'ershadow'd, where the light
is coolness felt, whom filter'd glints invite
thro' the slow-shifting green transparency;
O ye that hearken towards pale mystery
a rustle of hidden pinions, and obey
the beckoning of each little leaf asway:
return, return, or e'er to warn you back
the shadow bend along your rearward track
longer and longer from the brooding west;
return, and evening shall bosom your rest
in the warm gloom that wraps the blazing hearth:
there hear from wither'd lips long wean'd of mirth
the tale that lulls old watches; — How they rode,
brave-glittering once, where the brave morning glow'd
along the forest-edges, and were lost
for ever, where the crossing trunks are most;
and, far beyond the dim arcades of song,
where moon-mist weaves a dancing elfin throng,
and far beyond the luring glades that brood
around a maiden thought of Quietude,
the savage realm begins, of lonely dread,
black branches from the fetid marish bred
that lurks to trap the loyal careless foot,
and gaping trunks protrude a snaky root
o'er slinking paths that centre, where beneath
a sudden rock on the short blasted heath,
bare-set, a cavern lurks and holds within
its womb, obscene with some corroding sin,
coil'd on itself and stirring, a squat shade
before the entrance rusts a broken blade.
The forest hides its horrors, as the sea.
No emerald spring, no royal autumn-red,
no glint of morn or sullen vanquish'd day
might venture against this obscene horror's sway
blackly from the witch-blasted branches shed.
No silver bells around the bridle-head
ripple, and on no quest the pennons play:
the path's romance is shuddering disarray,
or eaten by the marsh: the knights are dead.
The Lady of the Forest was a tale:
of the white unicorns that round her sleep
gamboll'd, no turf retains a print; and man,
rare traveller, feels, athwart the knitted bale
watching, now lord of loathly deaths that creep,
maliciously the senile leer of Pan.
Fire in the heavens, and fire along the hills,
and fire made solid in the flinty stone,
thick-mass'd or scatter'd pebble, fire that fills
the breathless hour that lives in fire alone.
This valley, long ago the patient bed
of floods that carv'd its antient amplitude,
in stillness of the Egyptian crypt outspread,
endures to drown in noon-days tyrant mood.
Behind the veil of burning silence bound,
vast life's innumerous busy littleness
is hush'd in vague-conjectured blur of sound
that dulls the brain with slumbrous weight, unless
some dazzling puncture let the stridence throng
in the cicada's torture-point of song.
Peace dwells in blessing o'er a place
folded within the hills to keep
and under dark boughs seawind-frayd:
and the kind slopes where soothings creep,
in the gold light or the green shade,
wear evermore the ancient face
of silence, and the eyes of sleep;
because they are listening evermore
unto the seawinds what they tell
to the wise, nodding, indifferent trees
high on the ridge that guard the dell,
of wars on many a far grey shore
and how the shores decay and fade
before the obstinate old seas:
and all their triumphing is made
a tale that dwindles with the eves,
while the soft dusk lingers, delay'd,
and drifts between the indolent leaves.
A gray and dusty daylight flows
athwart the shatter'd traceries,
pale absence of the ruin'd rose.
Here once, on labour-harden'd knees,
beneath the kindly vaulted gloom
that gather'd them in quickening ease,
they saw the rose of heaven bloom,
alone, in heights of musky air,
with many an angel's painted plume.
So, shadowing forth their dim-felt prayer,
the daedal glass compell'd to grace
the outer days indifferent stare,
where now its disenhallow'd face
beholds the petal-ribs enclose
nought, in their web of shatter'd lace,
save this pale absence of the rose.
Breaking the desert's tawny level ring
three columns, an oasis; but no shade
falls from the curl'd acanthus-leaves; no spring
bubbles soft laughter for its leaning maid.
The cell is waste: where once the god abode
a burning desolation furls its wing:
enter, and lo! once more, the hopeless road
world-wide, the tawny desert's level ring.
Before she pass'd behind the glacier wall
that hides her white eternal sorceries
the northern witch, in clinging ermine pall,
cast one last look along the shallow seas,
a look that held them in its numbing thrall
and melted onward to the sandy leas
where our lorn city lives its lingering fall
and wistful summer shrinks in scant-clad trees.
Hence came one greyness over grass and stone:
the silent-lapping waters fade and tone
into the air and into them the land;
and all along our stagnant waterways
a drown'd and dusky gleaming sleeps, unbann'd,
the lurking twilight of her vanish'd gaze.
Out of no quarter of the charted sky
flung in the bitter wind intolerably,
abrupt, the trump that sings behind the end
exults alone. Here grass is none to bend:
the stony plain blackens with rapid night
that best reveals the land's inflicted blight
since in the smitten hero-hand the sword
broke, and the hope the long-dumb folk adored,
and over all the north a tragic flare
told Valhall perish'd and the void's despair
to dwell as erst, all disinhabited,
a vault above the heart its hungering led.
The strident clangour cuts; but space is whole,
inert, absorb'd in dead regret. Here, sole,
on the bare uplands, stands, vast thro' the gloom
staring, to mark an irretrievable doom,
the stranger stone, sphinx-couchant, thunder-hurl'd
from red star-ruin o'er the elder world.
This night is not of gentle draperies
or cluster'd banners where the star-breaths roam,
nor hangs above the torch a lurching dome
of purple shade that slips with phantom ease;
but, on our apathy encroaching, these,
stable, whose smooth defiance none hath clomb,
basalt and jade, a patience of the gnome,
polish'd and shadow-brimm'd transparencies.
Far, where our oubliette is shut, above,
we guess the ample lids that never move
beneath her brows, each massive arch inert
hung high-contemptuous o'er the blatant wars
we deem'd well waged for her, who may avert
some Janus-face that smiles on hidden stars.
Lightning: and, momently, the silhouette,
flat on the far horizon, comes and goes
of that night-haunting city; minaret,
dome, spire, all sharp while yet the levin glows.
Day knows it not; whether fierce noon-tide fuse
earth's rim with sky in throbbing haze, or clear
gray softness tinge afresh the enamell'd hues
of mead and stream, it shows no tipping spear.
Night builds it: now upon the marbled plain
a blur, discern'd lurking, ever more nigh;
now close against the walls that hem my reign
a leaguer-town, threatening my scope of sky.
So late I saw it; in a misty moon
it bulk'd, all dusky and transparent, dumb
as ever, fast in some prodigious swoon:
its battlements deserted — who might come?
— ay, one! his eyes, 'neath the high turban's plume,
watch'd mine, intent, behind the breast-high stone:
his face drew mine across the milky gloom:
a sudden moonbeam show'd it me, my own!
ONE! an iron core, shock'd and dispers'd
in throbs of sound that ebb across the bay:
I shudder: the one clang smites disarray
thro' all my sense, that starts awake, inhears'd
in the whole lifeless world: and some accurs'd
miasma steals, resumed from all decay,
where the dead tide lies flat round the green quay,
hinting what self-fordone despairs it nurs'd.
The corpse of time is stark upon the night:
my soul is coffin'd, staring, grave-bedight,
upon some dance of death that reels and feasts
around its living tomb, with vampire grin,
inverted sacraments of Satan's priests —
and, mask'd no more, the maniac face of sin.
There is a far-off thrill that troubles me:
a faint thin ripple of shadow, momently,
dies out across my lucid icy cell.
I am betrayed by winter to the spell
of morbid sleep, that somewhere rolls its waves
insidiously, gather'd from unblest graves,
to creep above each distant crumbled mole.
When that assault is full against my soul,
I must go down, thro' chapels black with mould,
past ruin'd doors, whose arches, ridged with gold,
catch, in their grooves, a gloom more blackly dript,
some stairway winding hours-long towards the crypt
where panic night lies stricken 'neath the curse
exuding from the dense enormous hearse
of some old vampire-god, whose bulk, within,
lies gross and festering in his shroud of sin.
Essay on Psychiatrists
It‘s crazy to think one could describe them—
Calling on reason, fantasy, memory, eves and ears—
As though they were all alike any more
Than sweeps, opticians, poets or masseurs.
Moreover, they are for more than one reason
Difficult to speak of seriously and freely,
And I have never (even this is difficult to say
Plainly, without foolishness or irony)
Consulted one for professional help, though it happens
Many or most of my friends have—and that,
Perhaps, is why it seems urgent to try to speak
Sensibly about them, about the psychiatrists.
II. Some Terms
“Shrink” is a misnomer. The religious
Analogy is all wrong, too, and the old,
Half-forgotten jokes about Viennese accents
And beards hardly apply to the good-looking woman
In boots and a knit dress, or the man
Seen buying the Sunday Times in mutton-chop
Whiskers and expensive running shoes.
In a way I suspect that even the terms “doctor”
And “therapist” are misnomers; the patient
Is not necessarily “sick.” And one assumes
That no small part of the psychiatrist’s
Role is just that: to point out misnomers.
These are the first citizens of contingency.
Far from the doctrinaire past of the old ones,
They think in their prudent meditations
Not about ecstasy (the soul leaving the body)
Nor enthusiasm (the god entering one’s person)
Nor even about sanity (which means
Health, an impossible perfection)
But ponder instead relative truth and the warm
Dusk of amelioration. The cautious
Young augurs with their family-life, good books
And records and foreign cars believe
In amelioration—in that, and in suffering.
IV. A Lakeside Identification
Yes, crazy to suppose one could describe them—
And yet, there was this incident: at the local beach
Clouds of professors and the husbands of professors
Swam, dabbled, or stood to talk with arms folded
Gazing at the lake ... and one of the few townsfolk there,
With no faculty status—a matter-of-fact, competent,
Catholic woman of twenty-seven with five children
And a first-rate body—pointed her finger
At the back of one certain man and asked me,
“Is that guy a psychiatrist?” and by god he was! “Yes,”
She said, “He looks like a psychiatrist.”
Grown quiet, I looked at his pink back, and thought.
V. Physical Comparison With Professors And Others
Pink and a bit soft-bodied, with a somewhat jazzy
Middle-class bathing suit and sandy sideburns, to me
He looked from the back like one more professor.
And from the front, too—the boyish, unformed carriage
Which foreigners always note in American men, combined
As in a professor with that liberal, quizzical,
Articulate gaze so unlike the more focused, more
Tolerant expression worn by a man of action (surgeon,
Salesman, athlete). On closer inspection was there,
Perhaps, a self-satisfied benign air, a too studied
Gentleness toward the child whose hand he held loosely?
Absurd to speculate; but then—the woman saw something.
VI. Their Seriousness, With Further Comparisons
In a certain sense, they are not serious.
That is, they are serious—useful, deeply helpful,
Concerned—only in the way that the pilots of huge
Planes, radiologists, and master mechanics can,
At their best, be serious. But however profound
The psychiatrists may be, they are not serious the way
A painter may be serious beyond pictures, or a businessman
May be serious beyond property and cash—or even
The way scholars and surgeons are serious, each rapt
In his work’s final cause, contingent upon nothing:
Beyond work; persons; recoveries. And this is fitting:
Who would want to fly with a pilot who was serious
About getting to the destination safely? Terrifying idea—
That a pilot could over-extend, perhaps try to fly
Too well, or suffer from Pilot’s Block; of course,
It may be that (just as they must not drink liquor
Before a flight) they undergo regular, required check-ups
With a psychiatrist, to prevent such things from happening.
VII. Historical (The Bacchae)
Madness itself, as an idea, leaves us confused—
Incredulous that it exists, or cruelly facetious,
Or stricken with a superstitious awe as if bound
By the lost cults of Trebizond and Pergamum ...
The most profound study of madness is found
In the Bacchae of Euripides, so deeply disturbing
That in Cambridge, Massachusetts the players
Evaded some of the strongest unsettling material
By portraying poor sincere, fuddled, decent Pentheus
As a sort of fascistic bureaucrat—but it is Dionysus
Who holds rallies, instills exaltations of violence,
With his leopards and atavistic troops above law,
Reason and the good sense and reflective dignity
Of Pentheus—Pentheus, humiliated, addled, made to suffer
Atrocity as a minor jest of the smirking God.
When Bacchus’s Chorus (who call him “most gentle”!) observe:
“Ten thousand men have ten thousand hopes; some fail,
Some come to fruit, but the happiest man is he
Who gathers the good of life day by day”—as though
Life itself were enough—does that mean, to leave ambition?
And is it a kind of therapy, or truth? Or both?
VIII. A Question
On the subject of madness the Bacchae seems,
On the whole, more pro than contra. The Chorus
Says of wine, “There is no other medicine for misery”;
When the Queen in her ecstasy—or her enthusiasm?—
Tears her terrified son’s arm from his body, or bears
His head on her spear, she remains happy so long
As she remains crazy; the God himself (who bound fawnskin
To the women’s flesh, armed them with ivy arrows
And his orgies’ livery) debases poor Pentheus first,
Then leads him to mince capering towards female Death
And dismemberment: flushed, grinning, the grave young
King of Thebes pulls at a slipping bra-strap, simpers
Down at his turned ankle. Pentheus: “Should I lift up
Mount Cithæron—Bacchae, mother and all?”
Dionysus: “Do what you want to do. Your mind
Was unstable once, but now you sound more sane,
You are on your way to great things.”
The question is, Which is the psychiatrist: Pentheus, or Dionysus?
IX. Pentheus As Psychiatrist
With his reasonable questions Pentheus tries
To throw light on the old customs of savagery.
Like a brave doctor, he asks about it all,
He hears everything, “Weird, fantastic things”
The Messenger calls them: with their breasts
Swollen, their new babies abandoned, mothers
Among the Bacchantes nestled gazelles
And young wolves in their arms, and suckled them;
You might see a single one of them tear a fat calf
In two, still bellowing with fright, while others
Clawed heifers to pieces; ribs and hooves
Were strewn everywhere; blood-smeared scraps
Hung from the fir trees; furious bulls
Charged and then fell stumbling, pulled down
To be stripped of skin and flesh by screaming women ...
And Pentheus listened. Flames burned in their hair,
Unnoticed; thick honey spurted from their wands;
And the snakes they wore like ribbons licked
Hot blood from their flushed necks: Pentheus
Was the man the people told ... “weird things,” like
A middle-class fantasy of release; and when even
The old men—bent Cadmus and Tiresias—dress up
In fawnskin and ivy, beating their wands on the ground,
Trying to carouse, it is Pentheus—down-to-earth,
Sober—who raises his voice in the name of dignity.
Being a psychiatrist, how could he attend to the Chorus’s warning
Against “those who aspire” and “a tongue without reins”?
X. Dionysus As Psychiatrist
In a more hostile view, the psychiatrists
Are like Bacchus—the knowing smirk of his mask,
His patients, his confident guidance of passion,
And even his little jokes, as when the great palace
Is hit by lightning which blazes and stays,
Bouncing among the crumpled stone walls ...
And through the burning rubble he comes,
With his soft ways picking along lightly
With a calm smile for the trembling Chorus
Who have fallen to the ground, bowing
In the un-Greek, Eastern way—What, Asian women,
He asks, Were you disturbed just now when Bacchus
Jostled the palace? He warns Pentheus to adjust,
To learn the ordinary man’s humble sense of limits,
Violent limits, to the rational world. He cures
Pentheus of the grand delusion that the dark
Urgencies can be governed simply by the mind,
And the mind’s will. He teaches Queen Agave to look
Up from her loom, up at the light, at her tall
Son’s head impaled on the stiff spear clutched
In her own hand soiled with dirt and blood.
XI. Their Philistinism Considered
“Greek Tragedy” of course is the sort of thing
They like and like the idea of ... though not “tragedy”
In the sense of newspapers. When a patient shot one of them,
People phoned in, many upset as though a deep,
Special rule had been abrogated, someone had gone too far.
The poor doctor, as described by the evening Globe,
Turned out to be a decent, conventional man (Doctors
For Peace, B’Nai Brith, numerous articles), almost
Carefully so, like Paul Valéry—or like Rex Morgan, M.D., who,
In the same Globe, attends a concert with a longjawed woman.
First Panel: “We’re a little early for the concert!
There’s an art museum we can stroll through!” “I’d like
That, Dr. Morgan!” Second Panel: “Outside the hospital,
There’s no need for such formality, Karen! Call me
By my first name!” “I’ll feel a little awkward!”
Final Panel: “Meanwhile ...” a black car pulls up
To City Hospital .... By the next day’s Globe, the real
Doctor has died of gunshot wounds, while for smiling, wooden,
Masklike Rex and his companion the concert has passed,
Painlessly, offstage: “This was a beautiful experience, Rex!”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it! I have season tickets
And you’re welcome to use them! I don’t have
The opportunity to go to many of the concerts!”
Second Panel: “You must be famished!” And so Rex
And Karen go off to smile over a meal which will pass
Like music offstage, off to the mysterious pathos
Of their exclamation marks, while in the final panel
“Meanwhile, In The Lobby At City Hospital”
A longjawed man paces furiously among
The lamps, magazines, tables and tubular chairs.
XII. Their Philistinism Dismissed
But after all—what “cultural life” and what
Furniture, what set of the face, would seem adequate
For those who supply medicine for misery?
After all, what they do is in a way a kind of art,
And what writers have to say about music, or painters’
Views about poetry, musicians’ taste in pictures, all
Often are similarly hoked-up, dutiful, vulgar. After all,
They are not gods or heroes, nor even priests chosen
Apart from their own powers, but like artists are mere
Experts dependent on their own wisdom, their own arts:
Pilgrims in the world, journeymen, bourgeois savants,
Gallant seekers and persistent sons, doomed
To their cruel furniture and their season tickets
As to skimped meditations and waxen odes.
At first, Rex Morgan seems a perfect Pentheus—
But he smirks, he is imperturbable, he understates;
Understatement is the privilege of a god, we must
Choose, we must find out which way to see them:
Either the bland arrogance of the abrupt mountain god
Or the man of the town doing his best, we must not
Complain both that they are inhuman and too human.
XIII. Their Despair
I am quite sure that I have read somewhere
That the rate of suicide among psychiatrists
Is far higher than for any other profession.
There are many myths to explain such things, things
Which one reads and believes without believing
Any one significance for them—as in this case,
Which again reminds me of writers, who, I have read,
Drink and become alcoholics and die of alcoholism
In far greater numbers than other people.
Symmetry suggests one myth, or significance: the drinking
Of writers coming from too much concentration,
In solitude, upon feelings expressed
For or even about possibly indifferent people, people
Who are absent or perhaps dead, or unborn; the suicide
Of psychiatrists coming from too much attention,
In most intimate contact, concentrated upon the feelings
Of people toward whom one may feel indifferent,
People who are certain, sooner or later, to die ...
Or people about whom they care too much, after all?
The significance of any life, of its misery and its end,
Is not absolute—that is the despair which
Underlies their good sense, recycling their garbage,
Voting, attending town-meetings, synagogues, churches,
Weddings, contingent gatherings of all kinds.
XIV. Their Speech, Compared With Wisdom And Poetry
Terms of all kinds mellow with time, growing
Arbitrary and rich as we call this man “neurotic”
Or that man “a peacock.” The lore of psychiatrists—
“Paranoid,” “Anal” and so on, if they still use
Such terms—also passes into the status of old sayings:
Water thinner than blood or under bridges; bridges
Crossed in the future or burnt in the past. Or the terms
Of myth, the phrases that well up in my mind:
Two blind women and a blind little boy, running—
Easier to cut thin air into planks with a saw
And then drive nails into those planks of air,
Than to evade those three, the blind harriers,
The tireless blind women and the blind boy, pursuing
For long years of my life, for long centuries of time.
Concerning Justice, Fortune and Love I believe
That there may be wisdom, but no science and few terms:
Blind, and blinding, too. Hot in pursuit and flight,
Justice, Fortune and Love demand the arts
Of knowing and naming: and, yes, the psychiatrists, too,
Patiently naming them. But all in pursuit and flight, two
Blind women, tireless, and the blind little boy.
XV. A Footnote Concerning Psychiatry Itself
Having mentioned it, though it is not
My subject here, I will say only that one
Hopes it is good, and hopes that practicing it
The psychiatrists who are my subject here
Will respect the means, however pathetic,
That precede them; that they respect the patient’s
Own previous efforts, strategies, civilizations—
Not only whatever it is that lets a man consciously
Desire girls of sixteen (or less) on the street,
And not embrace them, et cetera, but everything that was
There already: the restraints, and the other lawful
Old culture of wine, women, et cetera.
XVI. Generalizing, Just And Unjust
As far as one can generalize, only a few
Are not Jewish. Many, I have heard, grew up
As an only child. Among many general charges
Brought against them (smugness, obfuscation)
Is a hard, venal quality. In truth, they do differ
From most people in the special, tax-deductible status
Of their services, an enviable privilege which brings
Venality to the eye of the beholder, who feels
With some justice that if to soothe misery
Is a tax-deductible medical cost, then the lute-player,
Waitress, and actor also deserve to offer
Their services as tax-deductible; movies and TV
Should be tax-deductible ... or nothing should;
Such cash matters perhaps lead psychiatrists
And others to buy what ought not to be sold: Seder
Services at hotels; skill at games from paid lessons;
Fast divorce; the winning side in a war seen
On TV like cowboys or football—that is how much
One can generalize: psychiatrists are as alike (and unlike)
As cowboys. In fact, they are stock characters like cowboys:
“Bette Davis, Claude Rains in Now, Voyager (1942),
A sheltered spinster is brought out of her shell
By her psychiatrist” and “Steven Boyd, Jack Hawkins
In The Third Secret (1964), a psychoanalyst’s
Daughter asks a patient to help her find her father’s
Murderer.” Like a cowboy, the only child roams
The lonely ranges and secret mesas of his genre.
XVII. Their Patients
As a rule, the patients I know do not pace
Furiously, nor scream, nor shoot doctors. For them,
To be a patient seems not altogether different
From one’s interest in Ann Landers and her clients:
Her virtue of taking it all on, answering
Any question (artificial insemination by grandpa;
The barracuda of a girl who says that your glasses
Make you look square) and her virtue of saying,
Buster (or Dearie) stop complaining and do
What you want ... and often that seems to be the point:
After the glassware from Design Research, after
A place on the Cape with Marimekko drapes,
The superlative radio and shoes, comes
The contingency tax—serious people, their capacity
For mere hedonism fills up, one seems to need
To perfect more complex ideas of desire,
To overcome altruism in the technical sense,
To learn to say no when you mean no and yes
When you mean yes, a standard of cui bono, a standard
Which, though it seems to be the inverse
Of more Spartan or Christian codes, is no less
Demanding in its call, inward in this case, to duty.
It suggests a kind of league of men and women dedicated
To their separate, inward duties, holding in common
Only the most general standard, or no standard
Other than valuing a sense of the conflict
Among standards, a league recalling in its mutual
Conflict and comfort the well-known fact that psychiatrists,
Too, are the patients of other psychiatrists,
Working dutifully—cui bono—at the inward standards.
XVIII. The Mad
Other patients are ill otherwise, and do
Scream and pace and kill or worse; and that
Should be recalled. Kit Smart, Hitler,
The contemporary poets of lunacy—none of them
Helps me to think of the mad otherwise
Than in clichés too broad, the maenads
And wild-eyed killers of the movies ...
But perhaps lunacy feels something like a cliché,
A desperate or sweet yielding to some broad,
Mechanical simplification, a dispersal
Of the unbearable into its crude fragments,
The distraction of a repeated gesture
Or a compulsively hummed tune. Maybe
It is not utterly different from chewing
At one’s fingernails. For the psychiatrists
It must come to seem ordinary, its causes
And the causes of its relief, after all,
No matter how remote and intricate, are no
Stranger than life itself, which was born or caused
Itself, once, as a kind of odor, a faint wreath
Brewing where the radiant light from billions
Of miles off strikes a faint broth from water
Standing in rock; life born from the egg
Of rock, and the egglike rock of death
Are no more strange than this other life
Which we name after the moon, lunatic
Other-life ... housed, for the lucky ones,
In McLean Hospital with its elegant,
Prep-school atmosphere. When my friend
Went in, we both tried to joke: “Karen,” I said,
“You must be crazy to spend money and time
In this place”—she gained weight,
Made a chess-board, had a roommate
Who introduced herself as the Virgin Mary,
Referred to another patient: “Well, she must
Be an interesting person, if she’s in here.”
XIX. Peroration, Defining Happiness
“I know not how it is, but certainly I
Have never been more tired with any reading
Than with dissertations upon happiness,
Which seems not only to elude inquiry,
But to cast unmerciful loads of clay
And sand and husks and stubble
Along the high-road of the inquirer.
Even sound writers talk mostly in a drawling
And dreaming way about it. He,
Who hath given the best definition
Of most things, hath given but an imperfect one,
Here, informing us that a happy life
Is one without impediment to virtue ....
In fact, hardly anything which we receive
For truth is really and entirely so,
Let it appear plain as it may, and let
Its appeal be not only to the understanding,
But to the senses; for our words do not follow
The senses exactly; and it is by words
We receive truth and express it.”
So says Walter Savage Landor in his Imaginary
Conversation between Sir Philip Sidney
And Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, all three,
In a sense, my own psychiatrists, shrinking
The sense of contingency and confusion
Itself to a few terms I can quote, ponder
Or type: the idea of wisdom, itself, shrinks.
XX. Peroration, Concerning Genius
As to my own concerns, it seems odd, given
The ideas many of us have about art,
That so many writers, makers of films,
Artists, all suitors of excellence and their own
Genius, should consult psychiatrists, willing
To risk that the doctor in curing
The sickness should smooth away the cicatrice
Of genius, too. But it is all bosh, the false
Link between genius and sickness,
Except perhaps as they were linked
By the Old Man, addressing his class
On the first day: “I know why you are here.
You are here to laugh. You have heard of a crazy
Old man who believes that Robert Bridges
Was a good poet; who believes that Fulke
Greville was a great poet, greater than Philip
Sidney; who believes that Shakespeare’s Sonnets
Are not all that they are cracked up to be .... Well,
I will tell you something: I will tell you
What this course is about. Sometime in the middle
Of the Eighteenth Century, along with the rise
Of capitalism and scientific method, the logical
Foundations of Western thought decayed and fell apart.
When they fell apart, poets were left
With emotions and experiences, and with no way
To examine them. At this time, poets and men
Of genius began to go mad. Gray went mad. Collins
Went mad. Kit Smart was mad. William Blake surely
Was a madman. Coleridge was a drug addict, with severe
Depression. My friend Hart Crane died mad. My friend
Ezra Pound is mad. But you will not go mad; you will grow up
To become happy, sentimental old college professors,
Because they were men of genius, and you
Are not; and the ideas which were vital
To them are mere amusement to you. I will not
Go mad, because I have understood those ideas ....”
He drank wine and smoked his pipe more than he should;
In the end his doctors in order to prolong life
Were forced to cut away most of his tongue.
That was their business. As far as he was concerned
Suffering was life’s penalty; wisdom armed one
Against madness; speech was temporary; poetry was truth.
Essaying to distinguish these men and women,
Who try to give medicine for misery,
From the rest of us, I find I have failed
To discover what essential statement could be made
About psychiatrists that would not apply
To all human beings, or what statement
About all human beings would not apply
Equally to psychiatrists. They, too,
Consult psychiatrists. They try tentatively
To understand, to find healing speech. They work
For truth and for money. They are contingent ...
They talk and talk ... they are, in the words
Of a lute-player I met once who despised them,
“Into machines” ... all true of all, so that it seems
That “psychiatrist” is a synonym for “human being,”
Even in their prosperity which is perhaps
Like their contingency merely more vivid than that
Of lutanists, opticians, poets—all into
Truth, into music, into yearning, suffering,
Into elegant machines and luxuries, with caroling
And kisses, with soft rich cloth and polished
Substances, with cash, tennis and fine electronics,
Liberty of lush and reverend places—goods
And money in their contingency and spiritual
Grace evoke the way we are all psychiatrists,
All fumbling at so many millions of miles
Per minute and so many dollars per hour
Through the exploding or collapsing spaces
Between stars, saying what we can.
The Wisdom Of Merlyn
These are the time--words of Merlyn, the voice of his age recorded,
All his wisdom of life, the fruit of tears in his youth, of joy in his manhood hoarded,
All the wit of his years unsealed, to the witless alms awarded.
These are his time--gifts of song, his help to the heavy--laden,
Words of an expert of life, who has gathered its sins in his sack, its virtues to grieve and gladden,
Speaking aloud as one who is strong to the heart of man, wife and maiden.
For he is Merlyn of old, the once young, the still robed in glory,
Ancient of days though he be, with wisdom only for wealth and the crown of his locks grown hoary,
Yet with the rage of his soul untamed, the skill of his lips in story.
He dares not unhouselled die, who has seen, who has known, who has tasted
What of the splendours of Time, of the wise wild joys of the Earth, of the newness of pleasures quested,
All that is neither of then nor now, Truth's naked self clean--breasted,
Things of youth and of strength, the Earth with its infinite pity,
Glories of mountain and plain, of streams that wind from the hills to the insolent human city,
Dark with its traders of human woe enthroned in the seats of the mighty.
Fair things nobler than Man before the day of his ruling,
Free in their ancient peace, ere he came to change, to destroy, to hinder with his schooling,
Asking naught that was his to give save freedom from his fooling.
Beautiful, wonderful, wise, a consonant law--ruled heaven,
Garden ungardened yet, in need yet hardly of God to walk there noon or even,
Beast and bird and flower in its place, Earth's wonders more than seven.
Of these he would speak and confess, to the young who regard not their heirship,
Of beauty to boys who are blind, of might to the impotent strong, to the women who crowd Time's fair ship,
Of pearls deep hid in Love's Indian seas, the name of the God they worship.
Thus let it be with Merlyn before his daylight is ended,
One last psalm of his life, the light of it lipped with laughter, the might of it mixed and blended
Still with the subtle sweet need of tears than Pleasure's self more splendid,
Psalm and hymn of the Earth expounding what Time teaches,
Creed no longer of wrath, of silent issueless hopes, of a thing which beyond Man's reach is,
Hope deferred till the heart grows sick, while the preacher vainly preaches.
Nay but a logic of life, which needeth no deferring,
Life with its birthright love, the sun the wind and the rain in multiple pleasure stirring
Under the summer leaves at noon, with no sad doubt of erring,
No sad legend of sin, since his an innocent Eden
Is, and a garden of grace, its gateway clear of the sword, its alleys not angel--ridden,
Its tree of life at the lips of all and never a fruit forbidden.
Merlyn is no vain singer to vex men's ears in the street,
Nay, nor a maid's unbidden. He importuneth none with his song, be it never so wild and sweet.
She that hath ears to hear, let her hear; he will not follow her feet.
Merlyn makes no petition. He asketh of no man alms.
Prince and prophet is he, a monarch, a giver of gifts, a lord of the open plams,
Sueth he naught, not at God's own hand, though he laudeth the Lord in psalms.
Merlyn would speak his message only to hearts that are strong,
To him that hath courage to climb, who would gather time's samphire flowers, who would venture the crags among.
To her who would lesson her soul to fear, with love for sermon and song.
Merlyn hath arms of pity, the weak he would hold to his soul,
Make them partakers of truth, of the ancient weal of the Earth, of the life--throb from Pole to Pole.
He would hold them close; he would dry their tears; with a kiss he would make them whole.
Thus would he sing and to thee, thou child with the eyes of passion
Watching his face in the dark, in the silent light of the stars, while he in his godlike fashion
Maketh his mock at the fears of men, nor spareth to lay the lash on.
Thus would thy Merlyn devise, ere the days of his years be numbered,
Now at threescore and ten. He would leave his word to the world, his soul of its load uncumbered.
Then would he lay his ear to the grave, and sleep as his childhood slumbered.
What is the fruit of Wisdom? To learn the proportion of things;
To know the ant from the lion, the whale from the crest of the wave, the ditty the grasshopper sings
From the chaunt of the full--fledged Paradise bird as he shakes the dew from his wings.
There is one thing more than knowledge, a harvest garnered by few:
To tutor the heart to achieve, to fashion the act to the hand, to do and not yearn to do,
To say to the wish of the soul ``I will,'' to have gathered the flower where it grew.
I was young, and they told me ``Tarry. The rash in the nets are taken.
If there be doubt of thy deed, abstain, lest the day of danger behold thee by these forsaken,
Lest thou lie in the lion's den thou hast roused, with the eyes thou hast dared to waken.''
They spake, but I answered ``Nay, who waiteth shall take no quarry.
Pleasure is fleet as the roe; in the vales he feedeth to--day, but at nightwhen the eyes grow weary
Lo, he hath passed to the desolate hills; he is gone. Nay, he may not tarry.''
For Joy too needeth a net. He cometh tame to thy hand,
Asketh an alms of thy life, to serve thee, thy jubilant slave, if thou wouldst but understand.
Then is thy moment, O Man, for the noose, be it steel or a silken band.
Therefore, where doubt is, do! Thou shalt stumble in thine endeavour,
Ay, till thy knees be sore, thy back with the arrows of grief, and thou stand with an empty quiver.
Yet shall thy heart prevail through its pain, for pain is a mastering lever.
Wouldst thou be wise, O Man? At the knees of a woman begin.
Her eyes shall teach thee thy road, the worth of the thing called pleasure, the joy of the thing called sin.
Else shalt thou go to thy grave in pain for the folly that might have been.
For know, the knowledge of women the beginning of wisdom is.
Who had seven hundred wives and concubines hundreds three, as we read in the book of bliss?
Solomon, wisest of men and kings, and ``all of them princesses.''
Yet, be thou stronger than they. To be ruled of a woman is ill.
Life hath an hundred ways, beside the way of her arms, to give thee of joy thy fill.
Only is love of thy life the flower. Be thine the ultimate will.
A right way is to be happy, a wrong way too. Then beware.
Leave the colt in his stall, he shall grow to a thankless jade, be he never so fat and fair.
Sloth is a crime. Rise up, young fool, and grasp thy joy by the hair.
What is the motto of youth? There is only one. Be thou strong.
Do thy work and achieve, with thy brain, with thy hands, with thy heart, the deeds which to strength belong.
Strike each day thy blow for the right, or failing strike for the wrong.
He that would gain let him give. The shut hand hardly shall win.
Open thy palms to the poor, O thou of the indigent heart. There shall pleas ure be poured therein.
Use thy soul to the cord of joy. If thou sin must, strongly sin.
Cast thy whole heart away. The Earth, philosophers tell,
Leaps to a pebble thrown, be it never so little; it moved to the bidding of that which fell.
Throw thy heart! Thou shalt move the world, though thou fall on the floor of Hell.
Few have the courage of loving. Faint hearts! The loss is theirs.
Few of their idlest whims. ``I would win to Rome ere I die,'' one cried in his daily cares,
Yet plods on on 'Change to his grave, the slave of his stocks and shares.
Learn to appraise thy desires, to weigh the wares of thy heart.
If thou wouldst play with pleasure, avoid Love's passionate tides, its perilous Ocean chart,
Hug the shores of Love's inland seas, and buy thy joys in the mart.
Love lightly, but marry at leisure. Wild Love is a flower of the field
Waiting all hands to gather and ours. If we leave it another will win it and kneel where we kneeled.
Marriage is one tame garden rose in a garden fenced and sealed.
O thou who art sitting silent! Youth, with the eyelids of grief!
How shall I rouse thee to wit? Thou hast stolen the joy of our world. Thouscornest its vain relief.
Nay, she is here. Be thy tongue set free. Play up, thou eloquent thief.
Doubt not thy absolution, sinner, who darest to sin.
So thou prevail in the end, she shall hold thee guiltless of guile, a hero, a paladin.
The end in her eyes hath thee justified, whatever thy means have been.
Love is of body and body, the physical passion of joy;
The desire of the man for the maid, her nakedness strained to his own; the mother's who suckles her boy
With the passionate flow of her naked breast. All else is a fraudulent toy.
Of the house where Love is the master thy beauty may hold the key.
It shall open the hall--door wide, shout loud thy name to its lord. Yet, wouldst thou its full guest be,
Bring with thee other than beauty, wit. Then sit at the feast made free.
``To talk of love is to make love.'' Truly, a maxim of price.
Nathless the noblest soul, shouldst thou tell her of passionate things and fail to gaze in her eyes,
Shall hold thee cheap in her woman's pride, a clown for thy courtesies.
Love hath two mountain summits, the first where pleasure was born
Faint in the cloud--land of light, a vision of possible hope; the second a tempest--torn
Crag where passion is lord and king. Betwixt them what vales forlorn!
Happiness needs to be learned. In youth the ideal woman
Gazed at afar was a dream, a priceless untouchable prize, while she in your arms, too human,
Mocked you with love. 'Tis an art learned late; alas, and the whole by no man.
O! thou in the purple gendered. Thou needst pain for thy case.
Lose thy health or thy heart. Be bowed in thy soul's despond. Be whelmed in a world's disgrace.
So shall thy eyes be unsealed of pride and see Love face to face.
If thou wouldst win love, speak. She shall read the truth on thy lips.
Spoken vows shall prevail, the spell of thy eloquent hand, the flame of thy finger--tips.
Write? She is reading another's eyes while thy sad pen dips and dips.
Thou hast ventured a letter of passion, in ease of thy passionate heart?
Nay, be advised; there is fear, mischance in the written word, when lovers are far apart.
Pain is betrayed by the subtle pen where lips prevailed without art.
Love is a fire. In the lighting, it raiseth a treacherous smoke,
Telling its tale to the world; but anon, growing clear in its flame, may be hid by an old wife's cloak,
And the world learn nothing more and forget the knowledge its smouldering woke.
Comes there a trouble upon thee? Be silent, nor own the debt.
Friendship kicks at the goda; thy naked state is its shame; thou hast angered these with thy fret.
Wait. The world shall forgive thy sin. It asks but leave to forget.
The world is an indolent house--shrew. It scolds but cares not to know
Whether in fancy or fact. What it thinks we have done, that it scourges; the true thing we did it lets go.
What matter? We fare less ill than our act, ay, all of us; more be our woe!
There are days when wisdom is witless, when folly is noble, sublime.
Let us thank the dear gods for our madness, the rush of the blood in our veins, the exuberant pulsings of Time,
And pray, while we sin the forbidden sin, we be spared our penance of crime.
There are habits and customs of passion. Long loves are a tyrannous debt.
But to some there is custom of change, the desire of the untrodden ways, with sunshine of days that were wet,
Of the four fair wives of love's kindly law by licence of Mahomet.
Experience all is of use, save one, to have angered a friend.
Break thy heart for a maid; another shall love thee anon. The gold shall return thou didst spend,
Ay, and thy beaten back grow whole. But friendship's grave is the end.
Why do I love thee, brother? We have shared what things in our youth,
Battle and siege and triumph, together, always together, in wanderings North and South.
But one thing shared binds nearer than all, the kisses of one sweet mouth.
He that hath loved the mother shall love the daughter no less,
Sister the younger sister. There are tones how sweet to his ear, gestures that plead and press,
Echoes fraught with remembered things that cry in the silences.
Fly from thy friend in his fortune, his first days of wealth, of fame;
Or, if thou needest to meet him, do thou as the children of Noah, walk back wards and guard thee from blame.
He who saw found forgiveness none. With thee it were haply the same.
Bridegroom, thy pride is unseemly. Thou boastest abroad, with a smile,
Thou hast read our humanity's riddle. Nay, wait yet a year with thy bride; she shall lesson thee wiser the while.
Then shalt thou blush for thy words to--day, the shame of thy innocent guile.
The love of a girl is a taper lit on a windy night.
Awhile it lightens our darkness, consoles with its pure sudden flame, and the shadows around it grow white.
Anon with a rain--gust of tears it is gone, and we blink more blind for the light.
Sage, thou art proud of thy knowledge, what mountains and marvels seen!
Thou hast loved how madly, how often! hast known what wiles of the heart, what ways of maid, wife and quean!
Yet shalt thou still be betrayed by love, befooled like a boy on the green.
Oh, there is honour in all love. Have lips once kissed thee, be dumb,
Save in their only praise. To cheapen the thing thou hast loved is to bite at thyself thy thumb,
To shout thy own fool's fault to the world, and beat thy shame on a drum.
Who hath dared mock at thy beauty, Lady? Who deemeth thee old?
If he had seen thee anon in the tender light of thine eyes, as I saw thee, what tales had he told
Of ruined kingdoms and kings for one, of misers spending their gold!
Friendship or Love? You ask it: which binds with the stronger tether?
Friendship? Thy comrade of youth, who laughed with thee on thy road? What ailed him in that rough weather,
When to thy bosom Love's angel crept, twin tragedies locked together?
Friendship is fostered with gifts. Be it so; little presents? Yes.
Friendship! But ah, not Love, since love is itself Love's gift and it angereth him to have less.
Woe to the lover who dares to bring more wealth than his tenderness.
This to the woman: Forbear his gifts, the man's thou wouldst hold.
Cheerfully he shall give and thou nothing guess, yet anon he shall weigh thee in scales of his gold.
Woe to thee then if the charge be more than a heartache's cost all told.
Thou art tempted, a passion unworthy? Long struggle hath dulled thy brain?
How shalt thou save thee, poor soul? How buy back the peace of thy days? If of rest thou be fain,
Oft is there virtue in yielding all; thou shalt not be tempted again.
Sacrifice truly is noble. Yet, Lady, ponder thy fate.
Many a victory, won in tears by her who forbore, hath ruined her soul's estate.
Virtue's prize was too dear a whim, the price agreed to too great.
Virtue or vice? Which, think you, should need more veil for her face?
Virtue hath little fear; she goeth in unchaste guise; she ventureth all disgrace.
Poor Vice hid in her shame sits dumb while a stranger taketh her place.
Chastity? Who is unchaste? The church--wed wife, without blame
Yielding her body nightly, a lack--love indolent prize, to the lord of her legal shame?
Or she, the outlawed passionate soul? Their carnal act is the same.
In youth it is well thou lovest. The fire in thee burneth strong.
Choose whom thou wilt, it kindleth; a beggar--maid or a queen, she shall carry the flame along.
Only in age to be loved is best; her right shall repair thy wrong.
Lady, wouldst fly with thy lover? Alas, he loves thee to--day.
How shall it be to--morrow? He saw thee a bird in the air, a rose on its thorny spray.
He would take thee? What shalt thou be in his hand? A burden to bear alway.
Women love beauty in women, a thing to uphold, to adore,
To vaunt for all womanhood's fame, a seemly sweet fitness of body, adorned with all virtuous lore.
Beauty, but not of the kind men prize. On that they would set small store.
What is there cruel as fear? A falcon rending her prey
Showeth an evil eye, but to him she loveth is kind; her rage she shall put away.
But a frightened woman hath pity none. Though she love thee, yet shall she slay.
Show not thy sin to thy son. He shall judge thee harder than these.
All the servants of Noah beheld his shame in the house and loyally held their peace.
Ham alone at his father laughed, made jest of his nakedness.
Cast not loose thy religion, whether believing or no.
Heavy it is with its rule, a burden laid on thy back, a sombre mask at the show.
Yet shall it cloak thee in days of storm, a shield when life's whirlwinds blow.
As to the tree its ivy, so virtue is to the soul.
All the winter long it clothed us in leafage green, and the forest paid us its toll.
Now it is Spring and the rest rejoice while we stand drear in our dole.
Thy love of children is well. Yet a peril lurketh therein.
See lest thy sloth take excuse of thy fondness. Nay, coward art thou, and thine is the pestilent sin.
Shift wouldst thou thy burden of life, the blame of thy ``might have been.''
Courage we all find enough to bear the mischance of our friends.
How many tortured souls have gone to their self--made graves through wreck of their own mad ends:
But no man yet hath his weazand slit for his neighbour's pain in amends.
Fear not to change thy way, since change is of growth, life's sign.
The Child in his growing body, the Sage in his gathered lore, the Saint in his growths divine,
All find pleasure but Age which weeps the unchanging years' decline.
Whence is our fountain of tears? We weep in childhood for pain,
Anon for triumph in manhood, the sudden glory of praise, the giant mastered and slain.
Age weeps only for love renewed and pleasure come back again.
What is our personal self? A fading record of days
Held in our single brain, memory linked with memory back to our childhood's ways.
Beyond it what? A tradition blurred of gossip and nursemaid says.
Why dost thou plain of thine age, O thou with the beard that is thin?
Art thou alone in thy home? Is there none at thy side, not one, to deem thee a man among men?
Nay, thou art young while she holds thy hand, be thy years the threescore and ten.
The world is untimely contrived. It gives us our sunshine in summer,
Its laughing face in our youth, when we need it not to be gay, being each one his own best mummer.
All its frown is for life that goes, its smile for the last new comer.
Europe a horologe is, ill mounted and clogged with grime,
Asia a clock run down. Its hands on the dial are still; its hours are toldby no chime.
Nathless, twice in the twenty--four, it shall tell thee exactly the time.
What is the profit of knowledge? Ah none, though to know not is pain!
We grieve like a child in the dark; we grope for a chink at the door, for a way of escape from the chain;
We beat on life's lock with our bleeding hands, till it opens. And where is the gain?
I have tried all pleasures but one, the last and sweetest; it waits.
Childhood, the childhood of age, to totter again on the lawns, to have done with the loves and the hates,
To gather the daisies, and drop them, and sleep on the nursing knees of the Fates.
I asked of the wise man ``Tell me, what age is the age of pleasure?
Twenty years have I lived. I have spread my meshes in vain. I have taken a paltry treasure.
Where is the heart of the gold?'' And he, ``I will tell thee anon at leisure.''
I pleaded at thirty ``Listen. I have played, I have lost, I have won.
I have loved in joy and sorrow. My life is a burden grown with the thought of its sands outrun.
Where is the joy of our years? At forty?'' ``Say it is just begun.''
At forty I made love's mourning. I stood alone with my foes,
Foot to foot with my Fate, as a man at grips with a man, returning blows for blows.
In the joy of battle ``'Tis here'' I cried. But the wise man, ``Nay, who knows?''
At fifty I walked sedately. At sixty I took my rest.
I had learned the good with the evil. I troubled my soul no more, I had reached the Isles of the Blest.
The sage was dead who had warned my fears. I was wise, I too, with the best.
What do we know of Being? Our own? How short lived, how base!
That which is not our own? The eternal enrolment of stars, the voids and the silences!
The enormous might of the mindless globes whirling through infinite space!
The infinite Great overhead, the infinite Little beneath!
The turn of the cellular germ, the giddy evolving of life in the intricate struggle for breath,
The microbe, the mote alive in the blood, the eyeless atom of death!
Yet which is the greater Being? We have dreamed of a life--giving God,
Him, the mind of the Sun, the conscious brain--flower of Space, with a cosmic form and abode,
With thought and pity and power of will, Humanity's ethical code.
We have dreamed, but we do not believe. Be He here, be He not, 'tis as one.
His Godhead, how does it help? He is far. He is blind to our need. Nay, nay, He is less than the Sun,
Less than the least of the tremulous stars, than our old scorned idols of stone.
For He heareth not, nor seeth. As we to the motes in our blood,
So is He to our lives, a possible symbol of power, a formula half understood.
But the voice of Him, where? the hand grip, where? A child's cry lost in a wood.
Therefore is Matter monarch, the eternal the infinite Thing,
The ``I that am'' which reigneth, which showeth no shadow of change, while humanities wane and spring,
Which saith ``Make no vain Gods before me, who only am Lord and King.''
What then is Merlyn's message, his word to thee weary of pain,
Man, on thy desolate march, thy search for an adequate cause, for a thread, for a guiding rein,
Still in the maze of thy doubts and fears, to bring thee thy joy again?
Thou hast tried to climb to the sky; thou hast called it a firmament;
Thou hast found it a thing infirm, a heaven which is no haven, a bladder punctured and rent,
A mansion frail as the rainbow mist, as thy own soul impotent.
Thou hast clung to a dream in thy tears; thou hast stayed thy rage with a hope;
Thou hast anchored thy wreck to a reed, a cobweb spread for thy sail, with sand for thy salvage rope;
Thou hast made thy course with a compass marred, a toy for thy telescope.
What hast thou done with thy days? Bethink thee, Man, that alone,
Thou of all sentient things, hast learned to grieve in thy joy, hast earned thee the malison
Of going sad without cause of pain, a weeper and woebegone.
Why? For the dream of a dream of another than this fair life
Joyous to all but thee, by every creature beloved in its spring--time of passion rife,
By every creature but only thee, sad husband with sadder wife,
Scared at thought of the end, at the simple logic of death,
Scared at the old Earth's arms outstretched to hold thee again, thou child of an hour, of a breath,
Seeking refuge with all but her, the mother that comforteth.
Merlyn's message is this: he would bid thee have done with pride.
What has it brought thee but grief, thy parentage with the Gods, thy kinship with beasts denied?
What thy lore of a life to come in a cloud--world deified?
O thou child which art Man, distraught with a shadow of ill!
O thou fool of thy dreams, thou gatherer rarely of flowers but of fungi ofevil smell,
Posion growths of the autumn woods, rank mandrake and mort--morell!
Take thy joy with the rest, the bird, the beast of the field,
Each one wiser than thou, which frolic in no dismay, which seize what the seasons yield,
And lay thee down when thy day is done content with the unrevealed.
Take the thing which thou hast. Forget thy kingdom unseen.
Lean thy lips on the Earth; she shall bring new peace to thy eyes with her healing vesture green.
Drink once more at her fount of love, the one true hippocrene.
O thou child of thy fears! Nay, shame on thy childish part
Weeping when called to thy bed. Take cheer. When the shadows come, when the crowd is leaving the mart,
Then shalt thou learn that thou needest sleep, Death's kindly arms for thy heart.