A crown of thorns may be made of laurel leaves.
Crown Of Thorns
You ever heard the story
of Mr. Faded Glory?
Say he who rides a pony must someday fall
I been talkin' to my alter
Says life is what you make it
And if you make it death well then rest
your soul away
Away away yeah
It's a broken kind of feeling
She'd have to tie me to the ceiling
A bad moon's a comin'
better say your prayers
I wanna tell you that I love you
But does it really matter?
I just can't stand to see you dragging down.
Again, again, again.
So I'm singing
This is my kinda love
It's the kind that moves on
It's the kind that leaves you alone
This is my kinda love
It's the kind that moves on
It's the kind and leaves me alone
I used to treat you like a lady
Now you're a substitute teacher
This bottle's not a pretty, not a pretty sight
I owe the man some money
so I'm turnin over honey
Oh Mr. Faded Glory is once again doin' time.
This is my kinda love
It's the kind that moves on
It's the kind that leaves me alone
This is my kinda love
It's a crown of thorns
It's the kind that
It's the kind that leaves me alone
Like a crown of thorns
So know who you know.
So don't burn your bridges cause
This is my kinda love
It's the kind that moves on
It's the kind that leaves me alone
This is my kinda love
It's a crown of thorns
It's the kind that leaves me alone
- quotes about bridges
- quotes about teachers
- quotes about love
- quotes about women
- quotes about literature
- quotes about beginning
- quotes about Moon
- quotes about money
- quotes about death
The Crown of Thorns
“And unto Adam He said . . . . cursed is the ground for thy sake. Thorns . .
. . shall it bring forth.”
“And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head.”
In bitterest sorrow did the ground bring forth
Its fatal seed. Thine eyes beheld the birth—
Beheld the travail of accursèd earth;
E'en then, O Lord! in greater love than wrath!
Thou sawest the sin that none could gather out—
The vineyard cover'd with the thorn and briar;
Thou sawest the fair land ready for the fire—
And still Thy pity compass'd it about.
Thou, O most merciful! didst spare the brand;
Thou didst redeem the Paradise of God;
The thorns were rooted from the stubborn sod,
In pain and toil, by Thine own blessèd hand.
How was our path to heaven o'ergrown with sin—
Bramble, and thistle, and the poisonous weed!
Though hearts should break, and patient feet should bleed,
And strive and struggle, none could walk therein.
And Thou didst call us when we went astray—
Didst make our high road straight for evermore;
And, for our guidance, passèd on before,
Leaving Thy shining footprints in the way.
Still do the wild thorns hedge us round about;
Still grow the thistles from the ancient stock;
Still trails the bramble on the blasted rock—
But we can dig, and Thou wilt pull them out.
Ay, we can work—oh, help us in the strife!
Labour is sweet, for Thou dost share it now.
And we shall eat, in sweat of furrow'd brow,
Not earthly food, but Thine own Bread of Life.
And there are thorns of suffering left behind—
Sorrow and loss—that weigh our courage down;
But, ah! we know Thy sacramental crown
Was made of sin and sorrow, intertwined.
Give us of Thy sweet patience, Lord, we pray.
We would not spurn them with rebellious kicks,
Nor fret and strive, for Thou canst feel the pricks;
We too would wear them as a crown for aye.
We would put on Thy likeness—we, the least
And most unworthy. Ay, each piercing thorn,
In Thy name patiently and meekly worn,
Shall bear a blossom for the bridal feast.
Look down, O Brother with the yearning eyes!
Behold us kneeling at Thy bitter cross!
Grant us a share in all Thine earthly loss,
That we may share Thy gain in Paradise.
O weary Head! we see Thee drooping now
Beneath that diadem of mortal pain:
We see Thee sprinkled with the scarlet stain;—
Drop down the chrism on our polluted brow!
O sacred Head!—pale, beautiful, benign—
On our heads be Thy precious blood, we cry!
Lo, the destroying angel, passing by,
Shall spare to smite us—reverencing the sign.
- quotes about Earth
- quotes about sadness
- quotes about blood
- quotes about pain
- quotes about food
- quotes about divine
- quotes about birth
- quotes about bread
- quotes about heart
The Crown of Thorns
WITH each new day new cares will wait for thee,
Trials and heart-aches; yet do thou not fear,
But take them lovingly, and, weaving them
Into a crown of thorns, wear and let be
For ever on thy head, a diadem,
More royal than gold, the dearest token here
Of that sad voice that whispers, "Follow Me."
Crown Of Thorns
He loves and redeems
He is dishonored
He shows mercy
His face spat upon
He gives you grace
You hate His race
He embraces still
Forget about your
Money and pride
Take a second look
How He suffered
Bled and died
His nail pierced hands
Take a second look
At His crown of thorns
He sees your faults
And shows mercy
You were sick
You were blind
Although you are ashamed of Him
He is forever Master and King
You wore this crown of thorns
Form of this night, approaches in narrow aisles
My impiety upon your valor, my tuning falsity
of a brass bugle, a sound coarse, for miles
A foolishness! I welcome my solitude's asperity.
Do I have some time? Maybe of this, or of another
bright celebration, of a four dimensional space
a costume any customer of odds will wear in order,
my insight on any defined routes to only trace.
Do I have some varnish? To use upon my buttons
of nautilus blue jacket as to exit, a visitor of bars
or soul betrayal; A parallelism to faded blossoms
my old friends wear, an emblem of internal scars.
Can I forget my crimson? My wound, my odd incision
of my swaying abolished soul, a thorn maybe to blunt
as if my quill instates an idol on foolish mission?
As if you wore this crown of thorns, of my stand?
Crown Of Thorns
You were yesterdays hero
An ordinary man of flesh and blood
Took the world on your shoulders
A hopeless crusade, and act of love
But its a world obsessed with religion
And now you wear the face of a god
Like the words you said, youre as good as dead
Just a work of art on the wall
And thats why nobody wears a crown of thorns
Nobody wears a crown of thorns anymore
Holy men talk of hunger
While standing beneath a cross of gold
And there are preachers on the tv
In their thousand dollar suits, who sell your soul
To think you died for what you believed in
Only to be exploited and used
Now youre supermen from the promised land
Just a vision of hollywood
You showed me that theres hope for humanity
But once more youre being betrayed
So many countries torn by their idols
Too many prophets screaming for blood
And they only hear what they want to hear
When it comes to God up above
Crown Of Thorns 300th
the crown of thorns pierced his skin.
he bled outside and within.
he knew that this was meant to be
so that all mankind could be set free.
although his heart and body
was full of pain
he knew the world
would never be the same.
as they laid him upon the cross
and tied his hands and feet.
he knew that soon
his father he would meet.
he felt the spikes pierce his hands
and his blood fall to the ground.
he had wanted to scream
but did not make a sound.
they then took his feet
and did the same.
but he refused to give in
and took all the pain.
the pain is for the world
that was coming to an end
and he also knew
that he was given up by a friend
and as they picked up the cross
and placed it in the ground.
he heard the screams of the others
asking to go with him
and to ask GOD above to
wipe away their sins.
the crown of thorns that
they placed upon your head.
is for all the pains
that this world will soon dread.
The crown of Thorns
The procurator came back home
As dusk began to fall
His man slave helped him to disrobe
He took his meal alone.
He thought about the days events,
of Proculla’s premonition
about the Jewish rabbi
Whose death pleased the Sanhedrin.
He’d washed his hands
But were they clean?
He struggled to decide.
He thought about this Jesus
Whom he’d just had crucified.
He’d found no real fault in the man
- just a holy fool.
Whom Caiaphas had wanted dead
and used him as the tool.
He’d had him scourged, as if just that
Would satisfy the crowd.
His men mocked Jesus with royal robes-
Woven a crown of thorns.
Next he gave the crowd a choice
To set this Rabbi free
But they preferred Barrabus
Nailing Jesus to a tree.
His chief Centurion arrived
From the place of execution
The rebel and two thieves had died
by Roman Crucifixion.
“I’ve brought you back the Crown of thorns
as a memento of the day “
but Pilate, looking horrified,
Ordered him away.
Procurator: official title of Pontius Pilate, Roman Governor for the Province of Judea
Proculla: Wife of Pontius Pilate. In the gospel of Matthew she had a dream concerning Jesus and asked he husband to spare his life
Caiaphas Chief Priest
Sanhedrin: a religious group in first century Judea.
The Three Taverns
When the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum, and The Three Taverns.—(Acts xxviii, 15)
Herodion, Apelles, Amplias,
And Andronicus? Is it you I see—
At last? And is it you now that are gazing
As if in doubt of me? Was I not saying
That I should come to Rome? I did say that;
And I said furthermore that I should go
On westward, where the gateway of the world
Lets in the central sea. I did say that,
But I say only, now, that I am Paul—
A prisoner of the Law, and of the Lord
A voice made free. If there be time enough
To live, I may have more to tell you then
Of western matters. I go now to Rome,
Where Cæsar waits for me, and I shall wait,
And Cæsar knows how long. In Cæsarea
There was a legend of Agrippa saying
In a light way to Festus, having heard
My deposition, that I might be free,
Had I stayed free of Cæsar; but the word
Of God would have it as you see it is—
And here I am. The cup that I shall drink
Is mine to drink—the moment or the place
Not mine to say. If it be now in Rome,
Be it now in Rome; and if your faith exceed
The shadow cast of hope, say not of me
Too surely or too soon that years and shipwreck,
And all the many deserts I have crossed
That are not named or regioned, have undone
Beyond the brevities of our mortal healing
The part of me that is the least of me.
You see an older man than he who fell
Prone to the earth when he was nigh Damascus,
Where the great light came down; yet I am he
That fell, and he that saw, and he that heard.
And I am here, at last; and if at last
I give myself to make another crumb
For this pernicious feast of time and men—
Well, I have seen too much of time and men
To fear the ravening or the wrath of either.
Yes, it is Paul you see—the Saul of Tarsus
That was a fiery Jew, and had men slain
For saying Something was beyond the Law,
And in ourselves. I fed my suffering soul
Upon the Law till I went famishing,
Not knowing that I starved. How should I know,
More then than any, that the food I had—
What else it may have been—was not for me?
My fathers and their fathers and their fathers
Had found it good, and said there was no other,
And I was of the line. When Stephen fell,
Among the stones that crushed his life away,
There was no place alive that I could see
For such a man. Why should a man be given
To live beyond the Law? So I said then,
As men say now to me. How then do I
Persist in living? Is that what you ask?
If so, let my appearance be for you
No living answer; for Time writes of death
On men before they die, and what you see
Is not the man. The man that you see not—
The man within the man—is most alive;
Though hatred would have ended, long ago,
The bane of his activities. I have lived,
Because the faith within me that is life
Endures to live, and shall, till soon or late,
Death, like a friend unseen, shall say to me
My toil is over and my work begun.
How often, and how many a time again,
Have I said I should be with you in Rome!
He who is always coming never comes,
Or comes too late, you may have told yourselves;
And I may tell you now that after me,
Whether I stay for little or for long,
The wolves are coming. Have an eye for them,
And a more careful ear for their confusion
Than you need have much longer for the sound
Of what I tell you—should I live to say
More than I say to Cæsar. What I know
Is down for you to read in what is written;
And if I cloud a little with my own
Mortality the gleam that is immortal,
I do it only because I am I—
Being on earth and of it, in so far
As time flays yet the remnant. This you know;
And if I sting men, as I do sometimes,
With a sharp word that hurts, it is because
Man’s habit is to feel before he sees;
And I am of a race that feels. Moreover,
The world is here for what is not yet here
For more than are a few; and even in Rome,
Where men are so enamored of the Cross
That fame has echoed, and increasingly,
The music of your love and of your faith
To foreign ears that are as far away
As Antioch and Haran, yet I wonder
How much of love you know, and if your faith
Be the shut fruit of words. If so, remember
Words are but shells unfilled. Jews have at least
A Law to make them sorry they were born
If they go long without it; and these Gentiles,
For the first time in shrieking history,
Have love and law together, if so they will,
For their defense and their immunity
In these last days. Rome, if I know the name,
Will have anon a crown of thorns and fire
Made ready for the wreathing of new masters,
Of whom we are appointed, you and I,—
And you are still to be when I am gone,
Should I go presently. Let the word fall,
Meanwhile, upon the dragon-ridden field
Of circumstance, either to live or die;
Concerning which there is a parable,
Made easy for the comfort and attention
Of those who preach, fearing they preach in vain.
You are to plant, and then to plant again
Where you have gathered, gathering as you go;
For you are in the fields that are eternal,
And you have not the burden of the Lord
Upon your mortal shoulders. What you have
Is a light yoke, made lighter by the wearing,
Till it shall have the wonder and the weight
Of a clear jewel, shining with a light
Wherein the sun and all the fiery stars
May soon be fading. When Gamaliel said
That if they be of men these things are nothing
But if they be of God, they are for none
To overthrow, he spoke as a good Jew,
And one who stayed a Jew; and he said all.
And you know, by the temper of your faith,
How far the fire is in you that I felt
Before I knew Damascus. A word here,
Or there, or not there, or not anywhere,
Is not the Word that lives and is the life;
And you, therefore, need weary not yourselves
With jealous aches of others. If the world
Were not a world of aches and innovations,
Attainment would have no more joy of it.
There will be creeds and schisms, creeds in creeds,
And schisms in schisms; myriads will be done
To death because a farthing has two sides,
And is at last a farthing. Telling you this,
I, who bid men to live, appeal to Cæsar.
Once I had said the ways of God were dark,
Meaning by that the dark ways of the Law.
Such is the Glory of our tribulations;
For the Law kills the flesh that kills the Law,
And we are then alive. We have eyes then;
And we have then the Cross between two worlds—
To guide us, or to blind us for a time,
Till we have eyes indeed. The fire that smites
A few on highways, changing all at once,
Is not for all. The power that holds the world
Away from God that holds himself away—
Farther away than all your works and words
Are like to fly without the wings of faith—
Was not, nor ever shall be, a small hazard
Enlivening the ways of easy leisure
Or the cold road of knowledge. When our eyes
Have wisdom, we see more than we remember;
And the old world of our captivities
May then become a smitten glimpse of ruin,
Like one where vanished hewers have had their day
Of wrath on Lebanon. Before we see,
Meanwhile, we suffer; and I come to you,
At last, through many storms and through much night.
Yet whatsoever I have undergone,
My keepers in this instance are not hard.
But for the chance of an ingratitude,
I might indeed be curious of their mercy,
And fearful of their leisure while I wait,
A few leagues out of Rome. Men go to Rome,
Not always to return—but not that now.
Meanwhile, I seem to think you look at me
With eyes that are at last more credulous
Of my identity. You remark in me
No sort of leaping giant, though some words
Of mine to you from Corinth may have leapt
A little through your eyes into your soul.
I trust they were alive, and are alive
Today; for there be none that shall indite
So much of nothing as the man of words
Who writes in the Lord’s name for his name’s sake
And has not in his blood the fire of time
To warm eternity. Let such a man—
If once the light is in him and endures—
Content himself to be the general man,
Set free to sift the decencies and thereby
To learn, except he be one set aside
For sorrow, more of pleasure than of pain;
Though if his light be not the light indeed,
But a brief shine that never really was,
And fails, leaving him worse than where he was,
Then shall he be of all men destitute.
And here were not an issue for much ink,
Or much offending faction among scribes.
The Kingdom is within us, we are told;
And when I say to you that we possess it
In such a measure as faith makes it ours,
I say it with a sinner’s privilege
Of having seen and heard, and seen again,
After a darkness; and if I affirm
To the last hour that faith affords alone
The Kingdom entrance and an entertainment,
I do not see myself as one who says
To man that he shall sit with folded hands
Against the Coming. If I be anything,
I move a driven agent among my kind,
Establishing by the faith of Abraham,
And by the grace of their necessities,
The clamoring word that is the word of life
Nearer than heretofore to the solution
Of their tomb-serving doubts. If I have loosed
A shaft of language that has flown sometimes
A little higher than the hearts and heads
Of nature’s minions, it will yet be heard,
Like a new song that waits for distant ears.
I cannot be the man that I am not;
And while I own that earth is my affliction,
I am a man of earth, who says not all
To all alike. That were impossible.
Even as it were so that He should plant
A larger garden first. But you today
Are for the larger sowing; and your seed,
A little mixed, will have, as He foresaw,
The foreign harvest of a wider growth,
And one without an end. Many there are,
And are to be, that shall partake of it,
Though none may share it with an understanding
That is not his alone. We are all alone;
And yet we are all parcelled of one order—
Jew, Gentile, or barbarian in the dark
Of wildernesses that are not so much
As names yet in a book. And there are many,
Finding at last that words are not the Word,
And finding only that, will flourish aloft,
Like heads of captured Pharisees on pikes,
Our contradictions and discrepancies;
And there are many more will hang themselves
Upon the letter, seeing not in the Word
The friend of all who fail, and in their faith
A sword of excellence to cut them down.
As long as there are glasses that are dark—
And there are many—we see darkly through them;
All which have I conceded and set down
In words that have no shadow. What is dark
Is dark, and we may not say otherwise;
Yet what may be as dark as a lost fire
For one of us, may still be for another
A coming gleam across the gulf of ages,
And a way home from shipwreck to the shore;
And so, through pangs and ills and desperations,
There may be light for all. There shall be light.
As much as that, you know. You cannot say
This woman or that man will be the next
On whom it falls; you are not here for that.
You ministration is to be for others
The firing of a rush that may for them
Be soon the fire itself. The few at first
Are fighting for the multitude at last;
Therefore remember what Gamaliel said
Before you, when the sick were lying down
In streets all night for Peter’s passing shadow.
Fight, and say what you feel; say more than words.
Give men to know that even their days of earth
To come are more than ages that are gone.
Say what you feel, while you have time to say it.
Eternity will answer for itself,
Without your intercession; yet the way
For many is a long one, and as dark,
Meanwhile, as dreams of hell. See not your toil
Too much, and if I be away from you,
Think of me as a brother to yourselves,
Of many blemishes. Beware of stoics,
And give your left hand to grammarians;
And when you seem, as many a time you may,
To have no other friend than hope, remember
That you are not the first, or yet the last.
The best of life, until we see beyond
The shadows of ourselves (and they are less
Than even the blindest of indignant eyes
Would have them) is in what we do not know.
Make, then, for all your fears a place to sleep
With all your faded sins; nor think yourselves
Egregious and alone for your defects
Of youth and yesterday. I was young once;
And there’s a question if you played the fool
With a more fervid and inherent zeal
Than I have in my story to remember,
Or gave your necks to folly’s conquering foot,
Or flung yourselves with an unstudied aim,
More frequently than I. Never mind that.
Man’s little house of days will hold enough,
Sometimes, to make him wish it were not his,
But it will not hold all. Things that are dead
Are best without it, and they own their death
By virtue of their dying. Let them go,—
But think you not the world is ashes yet,
And you have all the fire. The world is here
Today, and it may not be gone tomorrow;
For there are millions, and there may be more,
To make in turn a various estimation
Of its old ills and ashes, and the traps
Of its apparent wrath. Many with ears
That hear not yet, shall have ears given to them,
And then they shall hear strangely. Many with eyes
That are incredulous of the Mystery
Shall yet be driven to feel, and then to read
Where language has an end and is a veil,
Not woven of our words. Many that hate
Their kind are soon to know that without love
Their faith is but the perjured name of nothing.
I that have done some hating in my time
See now no time for hate; I that have left,
Fading behind me like familiar lights
That are to shine no more for my returning,
Home, friends, and honors,—I that have lost all else
For wisdom, and the wealth of it, say now
To you that out of wisdom has come love,
That measures and is of itself the measure
Of works and hope and faith. Your longest hours
Are not so long that you may torture them
And harass not yourselves; and the last days
Are on the way that you prepare for them,
And was prepared for you, here in a world
Where you have sinned and suffered, striven and seen.
If you be not so hot for counting them
Before they come that you consume yourselves,
Peace may attend you all in these last days—
And me, as well as you. Yes, even in Rome.
Well, I have talked and rested, though I fear
My rest has not been yours; in which event,
Forgive one who is only seven leagues
From Cæsar. When I told you I should come,
I did not see myself the criminal
You contemplate, for seeing beyond the Law
That which the Law saw not. But this, indeed,
Was good of you, and I shall not forget;
No, I shall not forget you came so far
To meet a man so dangerous. Well, farewell.
They come to tell me I am going now—
With them. I hope that we shall meet again,
But none may say what he shall find in Rome.
his lies are his hairs
the crown of his head
making him a king
of your dreams
do you wish him bald
and ugly and finally
caress his hair and kiss
you may even put daisies
there is no halo
but what can you do?
he thrives upon your illusion
upon your wish
he comes through
dreams are free and so are lies
love, love, and love, there is no choice.
Crown Of Thorns
to go near you i put on some leaves
to hide the thorns
and you like the crown that pretends
to be the laurels of
then the truth has to come out
the leaves wilt and they finally fall to the floor
and i am left with this leafless vines
full of thorns
i make a crown of circular twigs
filled with thorns
now, watch me as i bleed
this is my truth this is my defeat
Bible in Poetry: Gospel of St. Mark (Chapter 15)
As morning came, the whole Sanhedrin crowd-
Chief priests, elders and scribes, held a council;
They bound and handed him o’er to Pilate;
When Pilate asked, “Are you the king of Jews? ”
He said to him in reply, “You say so! ”
The chief priests accused Him of many things;
And Pilate asked Him, “Have you an answer?
How many things they accuse you of, Look! ”
But Pilate was amazed as He didn’t talk.
They used to free a prisoner on feast days.
A murderer called Barabbas was brought in
From prison with rebels, for murder crimes;
The crowd pressed Pilate do as was custom;
Pilate asked, “Shall I free the ‘King of Jews’? ”
He knew the chief priests had envy on Him.
They made the crowd to free just Barabbas.
“What should I do with Jesus? ” asked Pilate.
They shouted together, “Crucify Him.”
“What evil has this man done? asked Pilate.
They shouted still loudly, “Crucify Him.”
Pilate freed the murderer, Barabbas.
He ordered Jesus to be scourged and led;
The soldiers took Him to the praetorium;
In purple clothed, a crown of thorns was placed,
Atop His head and they saluted Him,
“Hail, king of Jews and struck his head by reed.”
They spat on Him, knelt as if in homage:
They mocked at Him and stripped Him off his cloak;
They dressed Him in his own clothes and led Him.
A Cyrenian passer-by, Simon
Was made to help Him to carry the cross;
They brought him to Golgotha, ‘Place of skull’!
They gave Him wine with myrrh which He didn’t take;
They cast lots for his clothes; crucified Him,
At nine o’clock in the morning that day.
‘The King of Jews’ was inscribed on the cross.
Two robbers too were crucified with Him.
Some passed by Him and said, “The man who said
He would destroy the temple and rebuild
In three days’ time. Save yourself and come down”
Let Messiah come down from cross alive,
So that we may believe He’s king of Jews!
At noon, the land was covered by darkness
Till three in the afternoon, when He died.
He cried aloud, “Eloi, Eloi, lema
Sabachthani, meaning, ‘my God, my God,
Why hast thou forsaken me in this way? ”
Some by-standers said, “He calls Elijah! ”
One soaked a sponge in vinegar and held
It up to Him to drink, upon a reed.
Jesus uttered a loud cry, breathed His last.
The veil of sanctuary was torn in two.
A centurion who witnessed how he died
Remarked, “Truly, this was the Son of God! ”
Some women stood looking from a distance;
Mary Magdalene and Mary were there;
They’d followed Him from Galilee slowly.
Some women came from Jerusalem too.
When evening came, the day before Sabbath,
Joseph of Arimathea met Pilate
And requested for Jesus’ body!
But Pilate was amazed that He had died;
Joseph brought linen cloth and wrapped Him up.
They laid Him in a tomb hewn out of rock!
A stone was rolled across the entrance then.
Both Marys watched where Jesus’ body lay!
Copyright by Dr John Celes 5-20-2007
The Priestess of Panormita
Hear me, Lord of the Stars!
For thee I have worshipped ever
With stains and sorrows and scars,
With joyful, joyful endeavour.
Hear me, O lily-white goat!
O crisp as a thicket of thorns,
With a collar of gold for Thy throat,
A scarlet bow for Thy horns!
Here, in the dusty air,
I build Thee a shrine of yew.
All green is the garland I wear,
But I feed it with blood for dew!
After the orange bars
That ribbed the green west dying
Are dead, O Lord of the Stars,
I come to Thee, come to Thee crying.
The ambrosial moon that arose
With breasts slow heaving in splendour
Drops wine from her infinite snows.
Ineffably, utterly, tender.
O moon! ambrosial moon!
Arise on my desert of sorrow
That the Magical eyes of me swoon
With lust of rain to-morrow!
Ages and ages ago
I stood on the bank of a river
Holy and Holy and holy, I know,
For ever and ever and ever!
A priest in the mystical shrine
I muttered a redeless rune,
Till the waters were redder than wine
In the blush of the harlot moon.
I and my brother priests
Worshipped a wonderful woman
With a body lithe as a beast's
Subtly, horribly human.
Deep in the pit of her eyes
I saw the image of death,
And I drew the water of sighs
From the well of her lullaby breath.
She sitteth veiled for ever
Brooding over the waste.
She hath stirred or spoken never.
She is fiercely, manly chaste!
What madness made me awake
From the silence of utmost eld
The grey cold slime of the snake
That her poisonous body held?
By night I ravished a maid
From her father's camp to the cave.
I bared the beautiful blade;
I dipped her thrice i' the wave;
I slit her throat as a lamb's,
That the fount of blood leapt high
With my clamorous dithyrambs
Like a stain on the shield of the sky.
With blood and censer and song
I rent the mysterious veil:
My eyes gaze long and long
On the deep of that blissful bale.
My cold grey kisses awake
From the silence of utmost eld
The grey cold slime of the snake
That her beautiful body held.
But --- God! I was not content
With the blasphemous secret of years;
The veil is hardly rent
While the eyes rain stones for tears.
So I clung to the lips and laughed
As the storms of death abated,
The storms of the grevious graft
By the swing of her soul unsated.
Wherefore reborn as I am
By a stream profane and foul
In the reign of a Tortured Lamb,
In the realm of a sexless Owl,
I am set apart from the rest
By meed of the mystic rune
That reads in peril and pest
The ambrosial moon --- the moon!
For under the tawny star
That shines in the Bull above
I can rein the riotous car
Of galloping, galloping Love;
And straight to the steady ray
Of the Lion-heart Lord I career,
Pointing my flaming way
With the spasm of night for a spear!
O moon! O secret sweet!
Chalcedony clouds of caresses
About the flame of our feet,
The night of our terrible tresses!
Is it a wonder, then,
If the people are mad with blindness,
And nothing is stranger to men
Than silence, and wisdom, and kindness?
Nay! let him fashion an arrow
Whose heart is sober and stout!
Let him pierce his God to the marrow!
Let the soul of his God flow out!
Whether a snake or a sun
In his horoscope Heaven hath cast,
It is nothing; every one
Shall win to the moon at last.
The mage hath wrought by his art
A billion shapes in the sun.
Look through to the heart of his heart,
And the many are shapes of one!
An end to the art of the mage,
And the cold grey blank of the prison!
An end to the adamant age!
The ambrosial moon is arisen.
I have bought a lily-white goat
For the price of a crown of thorns,
A collar of gold for its throat,
A scarlet bow for its horns.
I have bought a lark in the lift
For the price of a butt of sherry:
With these, and God for a gift,
It needs no wine to be merry!
I have bought for a wafer of bread
A garden of poppies and clover;
For a water bitter and dead
A foam of fire flowing over.
From the Lamb and his prison fare
And the owl's blind stupor, arise
Be ye wise, and strong, and fair,
And the nectar afloat in your eyes!
Arise, O ambrosial moon
By the strong immemorial spell,
By the subtle veridical rune
That is mighty in heaven and hell!
Drip thy mystical dews
On the tongues of the tender fauns
In the shade of initiate yews
Remote from the desert dawns!
Satyrs and Fauns, I call.
Bring your beauty to man!
I am the mate for ye all'
I am the passionate Pan.
Come, O come to the dance
Leaping with wonderful whips,
Life on the stroke of a glance,
Death in the stroke of the lips!
I am hidden beyond,
Shed in a secret sinew
Smitten through by the fond
Folly of wisdom in you!
Come, while the moon (the moon!)
Sheds her ambrosial splendour,
Reels in the redeless rune
Ineffably, utterly, tender!
Hark! the appealing cry
Of deadly hurt in the hollow: ---
Hyacinth! Hyacinth! Ay!
Smitten to death by Apollo.
Swift, O maiden moon,
Send thy ray-dews after;
Turn the dolorous tune
To soft ambiguous laughter!
Mourn, O Maenads, mourn!
Surely your comfort is over:
All we laugh at you lorn.
Ours are the poppies and clover!
O that mouth and eyes,
Mischevious, male, alluring!
O that twitch of the thighs
Dorian past enduring!
Where is wisdom now?
Where the sage and his doubt?
Surely the sweat of the brow
Hath driven the demon out.
Surely the scented sleep
That crowns the equal war
Is wiser than only to weep ---
To weep for evermore!
Now, at the crown of the year,
The decadent days of October,
I come to thee, God, without fear;
Pious, chaste, and sober.
I solemnly sacrifice
This first-fruit flower of wine
For a vehicle of thy vice
As I am Thine to be mine.
For five in the year gone by
I pray Thee give to me one;
A love stronger than I,
A moon to swallow the sun!
May he be like a lily-white goat
Crisp as a thicket of thorns,
With a collar of gold for his throat,
A scarlet bow for his horns!
For All The Seers And Seekers Out There
For all the seers and seekers out there,
all you bright seeds on a blind wind
looking for a vision of life you can root in
and express yourselves like willows in the moonlight
to the night creek nearby that listens
when you cry out in mystical bliss
at the surprise of waterlilies gathered at your feet
to catch a taste of the same essence that makes you weep,
deep inside, inside, inside, look there for paradise,
where the stars are dazzled by your eyes
that don't fade away in the blazing like Venus at dusk.
Looking for the spirit with the spirit
like a breathless wind looking for the wind
to give it mouth to mouth resuscitation
is a snake with its tail in its mouth
enchained to its own liberation.
Is a candle in the sun living on borrowed light
when it's already well-provisioned with its own shining
for the long nights in the heart
of an unknown radiance within?
Long nights on the high slopes
of the world mountain you're sitting on alone
like a pauper with kingly second thoughts
about abdicating the ancestral throne of your ego.
For you who are not stuck
like a false idol the size of your thumb
through a three and a half pound brain of starmud.
For you who are not voidbound by your freedom,
or cower in the shadows of your solitude
afraid to read the messages that flower under your doorsill
from anonymous admirers passing in the hall.
For those of you who learned to read and write
in an alphabet of loveletters waiting for a reply
that could answer them all like a return address on the silence.
For you who have taken the splinters of a shattered mirror
out of your eye and replaced them with stars
that have gone on giving light long after
the chandeliers of light-winged sorrows
have stopped waltzing in three four time with their
club-footed candles for the night.
Follow this goat bell up the high dangerous trails
where even overcoming your fear of heights
isn't enough courage to guarantee your footing
and I'll show you the jewelled hoofs of the wild horses
kicking up the dust of stars on the open plains
of an inconceivable spiritual vastness where wishes are horses
and beggars do ride and you can hear the jingling
of constellations like the wind-chimes of Spanish spurs
that get under your skin where the spiritual junkies shoot up
like selflessly motivated thorns of starlight
potent enough to keep them high for the rest of the lives
on the antidote they derive like the milk of human kindness
even from the toxic serums of the most dangerous mystical snakes
that have ever poled danced like a winged caduceus
around the axis of the most habitable planet you've ever been inclined to.
Whether you're a blissed-out gardenia of God
or just another double agent doing espionage for the Devil
to see when the next whirlwind of revelation
is going to sweep you up like a chimney spark
into a maelstrom of cosmic events against your will,
look at how the radiance shining out
from the clear void of an unknown light source deep within you
illuminates heaven like the moon in your window
as surely and truly as it does the prophetic skulls of hell.
And this is the point I've been missing
and trying to make simultaneously throughout this poem
like a tattoo starred on my forehead
that leads me like a lantern into deeper and darker spaces
than any abandoned shrine in a sacred wood
I've ever existed in before like a swallow
among the quake-proof columns of the trees.
We're all three-winged songbirds under the leaf-cluttered eaves
of the temples we brought with us like spiritual refugees
overstepping the bounds and borders of ourselves
like prodigal sons and daughters on the thresholds of exile.
And each of us weaves, after our own fashion,
on a loom of lunar wavelengths of shadows and light,
a crown of thorns we leave with wings
like the mangers of the earthbound killdeer and English skylarks
after we've cracked the koans
of the cosmic eggs we were born from.
We fly away home like ladybirds and dragonflies
whose house is on fire and kids are alone
to have it burned into us like a prison tattoo
that enlightenment is just as white
on the dark side, as it is black on the light.
And though you were to look like billions of fireflies
for millions of lightyears, you'll never find enlightenment
up ahead of you because it will never be found
anywhere other than behind and beside you
where it's always been from the beginningless beginning
like a shadow that's been following you
on the blind side of your third eye that set out
the moment it first opened up to you like a flower to the stars
to look for the other two like a shepherd
looking for lost goats on the altars
of the unblooded sacrificial mountains of the moon.
You just have to look at the stars
and feel them staring back at you on the inside
with the same inconceivable wonder at why and what you are
as you return the light that was given to you back to them
realizing every insight into the nature of life,
every word, every star, every bird, firefly, every
lighthouse and clocktower of the moon
is a sign of mutual greeting that can't be ignored.
For those of you who cry for the earth that is moved
by the same agony you are, as if you were born
to be its tears, its wounds, its scars,
to suffer like flowers for the beauty you aspire to.
For those of you whose seeing
will become the substance of the world tomorrow
though you should lose your eyes for it today
like apple-bloom, for the sake of the root of the light within.
For those of you who are always seeking
the things that belong to all of us, the dreams
the visions, the insights, the perfect expression
of what we have to say to the silence
that's always listening to us
talking to ourselves like a sleepwalking stream
or a wild grapevine putting out tendrils
like Korans of Kufic script and Books of harvest Kells.
May your labour come to love you like a bad habit
that's grown fond of you over the years
because you made an art of your life
that brought the merciless desert to tears
to see how even a delusion or a mirage
with a big enough heart and a taste for compassion
that gives it an eye for how sublime beauty really is
as deep as the watershed at the bottom of a wishing well
it turned into the moment it cried on behalf
of everyone's efforts to make themselves
in all the glory of their schemes, dreams and delusions
streaming out behind them in victory parades
put on by their own minds
like the emperor's non-existent clothes
for knowing how to turn a defeat into a celebration,
come true to life. The seeking life. The seeing life.
The just life like dry oak on a good fire.
The life of thought that eventually forgets
what there is to think about. The wasted life
whose gifts were mistaken for flaws in its character,
The anonymous life of a spiritual blood donor
that sent a single red rose to a dead child
and restored her back to life. Life returning to life
like crocuses and killer whales through the ice,
seeking itself out in every corner of our lives,
and under the stones of our own starmud minds
lodged in the earth like meteorites
that once flashed across the sky like insight
from an unknown radiant i
in the eye sockets of prophetic skulls
as if strange new life forms were going on in there
it knew nothing about and was dying to see.
And who knows? Maybe even something
unspeakably precious it thought was lost for good.
And most especially a life that feels life
has shapeshifted it into the dupe of its own ideals,
that all its disguises and deathmasks were removed
like painful tattoos only to reveal a rodeo clown
dressed in a barrel with a red poppy for a cape in its hat
to draw the bull away from the rider that's down.
To feel like a clown in all your actions
to judge by the crowd's reactions,
but to put your life on the line anyway
as a funny kind of sacrifice that saves the hero
you risked as much to rescue, as he did
to put you in harm's way when he faltered.
And you embodied the human condition with compassion,
running away as a way of coming to the rescue,
without realizing, as you laughed at yourself,
it doesn't get anymore divine than that.
Trying to get a smile out of the bull
you're running before on someone else's behalf
in a funny hat with an artificial flower
is a sublime act of devotion
and the truest form of worship
from the human divinity in each of us to another.
Because getting up after life's been struck to its knees,
is how everything grows, even when its roots
are watered by delusions and its butt gets kicked up
into the grandstands of the amused demons and angels,
that funny little dejected flower in a rodeo clown's hat
that steals the show like the Buddha's purse
to buy the Buddha a horse to get back up on,
regardless of what you, the bull, the Buddha,
his purse, the horse or the thrown rider feel,
still blossoms from the heart it's rooted in for real.
When Abraham was weak and old
he forced his slave to swear an oath,
while grasping of his member hold:
“Make sure that Isaac plights his troth
to someone from my ancient clan;
from Canaanites don’t choose a damsel;
in Canaan I believe each man
to be a mamzer, girl a mamzelle.”
Everybody knows a mamzer
is repulsive to the Jews,
a cockroach rather than Greg Samsa,
but mamzelle is a word I choose
instead of mademoiselle, for rhyming;
a lot of members of my tribe
like them a lot when they’re good-timing,
though outlawed by the Bible scribe.
The slave asked God to make it clear,
by giving him a secret sign:
“The first young girl who will appear
and bring me water, not cool wine,
should be for Isaac lifelong mate.”
She came, of Bethuel the daughter,
and didn’t cause the slave to wait
until she brought him ice-cold water.
A prompt response, what he’d been urgin’,
occurred at once, and what is more
she was what he had asked for, virgin,
a miracle, I’d say, encore.
Some water for the camels, too,
she brought, precisely as he’d bid,
although she clearly never knew
it was God’s will, because He hid,
as later He would hide when Ruth
by Boaz was allowed to glean.
His hidden will reveals the truth
like daylight coming through a screen,
a scrim that only may be lifted
by those who’re spiritually gifted.
I ought to mention here a point.
Though Canaanite, the slaveman thought
that Abraham might yet appoint
him as his heir, and therefore sought
to lie with that young girl, he knew
he ought to bring back to his lord
for Isaac as a virgin. Clue
for this interpretation find
in language that describes him as
a man, a word that should remind
us that we’ve just learned no man has
yet had Rebekkah, front, behind.
We learn that she was quite intacta,
from Midrash cited here by Rashi,
who states importantly the factor
that no one ever touched her tushy!
His eagerness in fact implies
that he intends to be the plow
within her furrow, and belies
his wish to honor now the vow,
for when the lady gives him water
he thinks that he will have her like
Rebekkah’s brother’s younger daughter,
whom Jacob took when sent by Ike.
Quite ready for the dating game,
Rebekkah told the man her name:
in all the land there was none cuter,
a major catch for any suitor.
She said: “Please let me introduce
my brother; he is running loose
around my father’s great estate.”
The slave declared: “That would be great! ”
The “White Man, ” Laban, whom he’d meet
turned out to be a dreadful cheat,
in Jacob’s tale a major player
as father of both Rachel, Leah.
He gave to Jacob first the latter,
confusing with patristic patter
the fugitive who had a hunger
for Rachel, though she was the younger,
and made quite Jacob then upmixed her
with Rachel—what a shameful trickster!
“It is not done in our great land
to give the younger first in hand, ”
he said, so Jacob had to slave
a week of years before he gave
him Rachel, his more lovely daughter,
the one for whom he drew some water,
as did the slave whom we have mentioned
above, perhaps more well-intentioned,
but maybe not, as I have said,
for when the slaveman bent his head
for water, just as camels stoop,
it seems his aim was soon to shtup
Rebekkah––intention that was so absurd
I’ve used a vulgar Yiddish word.
Laban said: “Mi casa es
su casa, ” and he showed largesse
not only to the slave then but
his camels, giving them a hut
in which he generously provided
the fodder that they craved, while he abided
inside his house, I think a mansion,
undergoing great expansion,
a hovel being gentrified,
as none have commentarified
in medieval Bible versions,
foreshadowing my city’s Persians,
who, like the kinsfolk of Rebekkah
expand their houses, triple decker,
because they must impress their neighbors,
as Laban wished, imposing labors
on Jacob wishing to be swived,
to prove they truly have arrived.
Don’t think that only Persians do this—
big’s great for them, and huge is bliss;
all nouveaux riches look for a variance,
the Persians learned this from Hungarians.
Before the food, the slaveman said:
“I must, before I go to bed,
explain the mission that my master
has given me.” He thought disaster
would come as soon as he explained
how Abraham had been most pained
that girls who in his land were rooted
to Isaac weren’t exactly suited,
because, revealed with décolleté,
they caused the horny men to play,
and gaze with longing at midriffs,
and dream of mounting them like cliffs,
while greatly turned on by short dresses
revealing thighs and pubic tresses;
about such features men all raved,
especially when these girls have shaved—
though pubic hair makes some men blush,
they stare much more when there’s no bush.
Daughters of the sons of Ham,
anathema to Abraham,
were not what he for Isaac wished.
The ishah with whom he’d be ished,
I mean the woman who would turn
him into man and make him burn
with reproductive fire, must
be someone who had earned his trust
by coming from between the rivers.
What he demanded God delivers.
The slave displayed the gifts he bore,
huge rubies Valor Women wore
to please the husbands they adore
in olden times and days of yore,
and pearls as large as egg of duck,
believed to bring their bearers luck,
especially when in a charm
with God’s name keeping them from harm,
and bracelets which Jews used to whore
with Moabites at Baal-peor,
and precious nose rings used to make
a Golden Calf, a Moses fake,
replacing him—his crown of thorns,
less splendid than his famous horns,
acquired when he came so late
Jews said to Aaron: “We won’t wait, ”
as they so often say today
whey they for a messiah pray.
The slaveman showed them all his treasures
without security-type measures,
and they replied, to his surprise,
“Please take Rebekkah, she’s your prize! ”
But first they asked her, “Will you go
away to marry? ” She did not say “No! ”
but answered simply with a “Yes! ”
The man with whom she went, I guess,
could see from this most cryptic word
that he was not the man preferred
by her, for he was just a slave.
To Isaac she was going, brave,
a woman destined just like Ruth
to leave her land and find the truth
in Israel, to which God had sworn
His chosen people would be borne
on eagles’ wings—if all the planes
were cancelled, and there were no trains.
Waiting with suspense and joy
close to Be’er Laha’i-roi,
the place where Hagar once had met
an angel––God did not forget
her and the son then in her womb;
for both of them He found some room.
Descendants who from Isaac stem
would end up in Jerusalem,
while those of Hagar, not Rebekkah,
would face much farther east, to Mecca––
now in Be’er-laha’i-roi,
this thirty-seven-year old boy
called Isaac, lost in meditations,
stood quite resigned, without impatience,
just like a Buddha of Amida’s
familiar to enlightened readers,
and watched until he saw afar
a woman moving like a star
that shone most brightly in the heaven.
It was exactly half past seven,
the time for minhah, rabbis say,
when men must take off time to pray,
as Isaac did. Though he’d been saddened
by Sarah’s death, he now was gladdened
and took Rebekkah to his tent
where she repaired in clothes the rent
that he had torn when Sarah died,
for now Rebekkah was his bride,
reminding him, the garments’ wearer,
by all things that she did, of Sarah.
Dark and comely without pallor
was Isaac’s wife, a girl of valor,
mother both of Jacob, Esau,
brothers two upon a seesaw,
a pair of twins born to Rebekkah,
her womb prepared for double-decker,
a matriarch who loved and chose
son Jacob, most religiose,
not Esau, man who loved to hunt,
his father’s favorite, strange to say––
so blind he never saw him stray
among the Hittite women till
Rebekkah said: “They make me ill.”
Inside her womb she had a two-for
one, the older one a Jew-for-
Jesus, causing great distress,
the Vatican his main address––
synonymous the name of Edom
with Rome the way we read him,
though Christians say with ancient fury
that Esau’s ancestor of Jewry,
while Jacob, not left in the lurch,
is ancestor of all their church.
Brothers both would exeunt,
one for tents and one to hunt,
and leave each other on a stage
where at their sibling they could rage,
without the limelight competition
that bothers stars with great ambition.
In all the Bible there’s no figure
who than this matriarch is bigger.
A postscript comes now to this poem,
foreshadowed clearly in the proem,
if, as I would now propose,
you read it once again most close.
When aged, Abraham would find
a time for tying knots, to bind
his son to someone who was suited
to God’s plan, which was clearly bruited
at the Covenant of Pieces,
and made quite sure he’d look for nieces
for Isaac, since he was no whorer
before his marriage to Keturah,
and stayed away from women younger,
till old age would restore his hunger,
when he foreshadowed Jesse’s son
who in old age, though weary, wan,
would lie with Abishag, the norm
for old kings when they are not warm,
and search for concubines or harlots,
some Bible heroines like starlets.
While David lay within her arms,
he put aside not only psalms
but also thoughts about his sons,
enchanted by her breasts and buns,
till Nathan and some leaders came,
with Bathsheba, his former flame,
to make sure Solomon would rule.
But Adonijah was uncool,
and though he tried to seize the crown
his sense of timing let him down,
and he was killed like Absalom
and Amnon when his plot would bomb.
While Abraham had made quite clear
that Isaac was to him more dear
than Hagar’s son called Ishmael,
and was the designated male
to follow him, King David failed.
While seeking women’s warmth he ailed,
which really is a poor excuse
for old men trying to be loose,
as wine and women for their health
is bad, and harmful to their wealth.
How lucky David still had faith in
Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan,
for if he hadn’t, Abishag
might well have taken all his swag.
The contrast that’s comparative
explains to us each narrative.
I’m not sure which was written first,
though both by me are hereby versed.
For answers you must try to collar
not rabbi, priest, but bible scholar,
which I attempt, when I have time,
to be, while all the rest I rhyme,
unless, of course, I’m in my clinic—
the one place where I’m not a cynic.
Saint Maura: A.D. 304
Thank God! Those gazers' eyes are gone at last!
The guards are crouching underneath the rock;
The lights are fading in the town below,
Around the cottage which this morn was ours.
Kind sun, to set, and leave us here alone;
Alone upon our crosses with our God;
While all the angels watch us from the stars.
Kind moon, to shine so clear and full on him,
And bathe his limbs in glory, for a sign
Of what awaits him! Oh look on him, Lord!
Look, and remember how he saved thy lamb!
Oh listen to me, teacher, husband, love,
Never till now loved utterly! Oh say,
Say you forgive me! No-you must not speak:
You said it to me hours ago-long hours!
Now you must rest, and when to-morrow comes
Speak to the people, call them home to God,
A deacon on the Cross, as in the Church;
And plead from off the tree with outspread arms,
To show them that the Son of God endured
For them-and me. Hush! I alone will speak,
And while away the hours till dawn for you.
I know you have forgiven me; as I lay
Beneath your feet, while they were binding me,
I knew I was forgiven then! When I cried
'Here am I, husband! The lost lamb returned,
All re-baptized in blood!' and you said, 'Come!
Come to thy bride-bed, martyr, wife once more!'
From that same moment all my pain was gone;
And ever since those sightless eyes have smiled
Love-love! Alas, those eyes! They made me fall.
I could not bear to see them, bleeding, dark,
Never, no never to look into mine;
Never to watch me round the little room
Singing about my work, or flash on me
Looks bright with counsel.-Then they drove me mad
With talk of nameless tortures waiting you-
And I could save you! You would hear your love-
They knew you loved me, cruel men! And then-
Then came a dream; to say one little word,
One easy wicked word, we both might say,
And no one hear us, but the lictors round;
One tiny sprinkle of the incense grains,
And both, both free! And life had just begun-
Only three months-short months-your wedded wife
Only three months within the cottage there-
Hoping I bore your child. . . .
Ah! husband! Saviour! God! think gently of me!
I am forgiven! . . .
And then another dream;
A flash-so quick, I could not bear the blaze;
I could not see the smoke among the light-
To wander out through unknown lands, and lead
You by the hand through hamlet, port, and town,
On, on, until we died; and stand each day
To glory in you, as you preached and prayed
From rock and bourne-stone, with that voice, those words,
Mingled with fire and honey-you would wake,
Bend, save whole nations! would not that atone
For one short word?-ay, make it right, to save
You, you, to fight the battles of the Lord?
And so-and so-alas! you knew the rest!
You answered me. . . .
Ah cruel words! No! Blessed, godlike words.
You had done nobly had you struck me dead,
Instead of striking me to life!-the temptress! . . .
'Traitress! apostate! dead to God and me!'-
'The smell of death upon me?'-so it was!
True! true! well spoken, hero! Oh they snapped,
Those words, my madness, like the angel's voice
Thrilling the graves to birth-pangs. All was clear.
There was but one right thing in the world to do;
And I must do it. . . . Lord, have mercy! Christ!
Help through my womanhood: or I shall fail
Yet, as I failed before! . . . I could not speak-
I could not speak for shame and misery,
And terror of my sin, and of the things
I knew were coming: but in heaven, in heaven!
There we should meet, perhaps-and by that time
I might be worthy of you once again-
Of you, and of my God. . . . So I went out.
. . . . . .
Will you hear more, and so forget the pain?
And yet I dread to tell you what comes next;
Your love will feel it all again for me.
No! it is over; and the woe that's dead
Rises next hour a glorious angel. Love!
Say, shall I tell you? Ah! your lips are dry!
To-morrow, when they come, we must entreat,
And they will give you water. One to-day,
A soldier, gave me water in a sponge
Upon a reed, and said, 'Too fair! too young!
She might have been a gallant soldier's wife!'
And then I cried, 'I am a soldier's wife!
A hero's!' And he smiled, but let me drink.
God bless him for it!
So they led me back:
And as I went, a voice was in my ears
Which rang through all the sunlight, and the breath
And blaze of all the garden slopes below,
And through the harvest-voices, and the moan
Of cedar-forests on the cliffs above,
And round the shining rivers, and the peaks
Which hung beyond the cloud-bed of the west,
And round the ancient stones about my feet.
Out of all heaven and earth it rang, and cried,
'My hand hath made all these. Am I too weak
To give thee strength to say so?' Then my soul
Spread like a clear blue sky within my breast,
While all the people made a ring around,
And in the midst the judge spoke smilingly-
'Well! hast thou brought him to a better mind?'
'No! He has brought me to a better mind!'-
I cried, and said beside-I know not what-
Words which I learnt from thee-I trust in God
Nought fierce or rude-for was I not a girl
Three months ago beneath my mother's roof?
I thought of that. She might be there! I looked-
She was not there! I hid my face and wept.
And when I looked again, the judge's eye
Was on me, cold and steady, deep in thought-
'She knows what shame is still; so strip her.' 'Ah!'
I shrieked, 'Not that, Sir! Any pain! So young
I am-a wife too-I am not my own,
But his-my husband's!' But they took my shawl,
And tore my tunic off, and there I stood
Before them all. . . . Husband! you love me still?
Indeed I pleaded! Oh, shine out, kind moon,
And let me see him smile! Oh! how I prayed,
While some cried 'Shame!' and some, 'She is too young!'
And some mocked-ugly words: God shut my ears.
And yet no earthquake came to swallow me.
While all the court around, and walls, and roofs,
And all the earth and air were full of eyes,
Eyes, eyes, which scorched my limbs like burning flame,
Until my brain seemed bursting from my brow:
And yet no earthquake came! And then I knew
This body was not yours alone, but God's-
His loan-He needed it: and after that
The worst was come, and any torture more
A change-a lightening; and I did not shriek-
Once only-once, when first I felt the whip-
It coiled so keen around my side, and sent
A fire-flash through my heart which choked me-then
I shrieked-that once. The foolish echo rang
So far and long-I prayed you might not hear.
And then a mist, which hid the ring of eyes,
Swam by me, and a murmur in my ears
Of humming bees around the limes at home;
And I was all alone with you and God.
And what they did to me I hardly know;
I felt, and did not feel. Now I look back,
It was not after all so very sharp:
So do not pity me. It made me pray;
Forget my shame in pain, and pain in you,
And you in God: and once, when I looked down,
And saw an ugly sight-so many wounds!
'What matter?' thought I. 'His dear eyes are dark;
For them alone I kept these limbs so white-
A foolish pride! As God wills now. 'Tis just.'
But then the judge spoke out in haste: 'She is mad,
Or fenced by magic arts! She feels no pain!'
He did not know I was on fire within:
Better he should not; so his sin was less.
Then he cried fiercely, 'Take the slave away,
And crucify her by her husband's side!'
And at those words a film came on my face-
A sickening rush of joy-was that the end?
That my reward? I rose, and tried to go-
But all the eyes had vanished, and the judge;
And all the buildings melted into mist:
So how they brought me here I cannot tell-
Here, here, by you, until the judgment-day,
And after that for ever and for ever!
Ah! If I could but reach that hand! One touch!
One finger tip, to send the thrill through me
I felt but yesterday!-No! I can wait:-
Another body!-Oh, new limbs are ready,
Free, pure, instinct with soul through every nerve,
Kept for us in the treasuries of God.
They will not mar the love they try to speak,
They will not fail my soul, as these have done!
. . . . .
Will you hear more? Nay-you know all the rest:
Yet those poor eyes-alas! they could not see
My waking, when you hung above me there
With hands outstretched to bless the penitent-
Your penitent-even like The Lord Himself-
I gloried in you!-like The Lord Himself!
Sharing His very sufferings, to the crown
Of thorns which they had put on that dear brow
To make you like Him-show you as you were!
I told them so! I bid them look on you,
And see there what was the highest throne on earth-
The throne of suffering, where the Son of God
Endured and triumphed for them. But they laughed;
All but one soldier, gray, with many scars;
And he stood silent. Then I crawled to you,
And kissed your bleeding feet, and called aloud-
You heard me! You know all! I am at peace.
Peace, peace, as still and bright as is the moon
Upon your limbs, came on me at your smile,
And kept me happy, when they dragged me back
From that last kiss, and spread me on the cross,
And bound my wrists and ankles-Do not sigh:
I prayed, and bore it: and since they raised me up
My eyes have never left your face, my own, my own,
Nor will, till death comes! . . .
Do I feel much pain?
Not much. Not maddening. None I cannot bear.
It has become like part of my own life,
Or part of God's life in me-honour-bliss!
I dreaded madness, and instead comes rest;
Rest deep and smiling, like a summer's night.
I should be easy, now, if I could move . . .
I cannot stir. Ah God! these shoots of fire
Through all my limbs! Hush, selfish girl! He hears you!
Who ever found the cross a pleasant bed?
Yes; I can bear it, love. Pain is no evil
Unless it conquers us. These little wrists, now-
You said, one blessed night, they were too slender,
Too soft and slender for a deacon's wife-
Perhaps a martyr's:-You forgot the strength
Which God can give. The cord has cut them through;
And yet my voice has never faltered yet.
Oh! do not groan, or I shall long and pray
That you may die: and you must not die yet.
Not yet-they told us we might live three days . . .
Two days for you to preach! Two days to speak
Words which may wake the dead!
. . . . .
Hush! is he sleeping?
They say that men have slept upon the cross;
So why not he? . . . Thanks, Lord! I hear him breathe:
And he will preach Thy word to-morrow!-save
Souls, crowds, for Thee! And they will know his worth
Years hence-poor things, they know not what they do!-
And crown him martyr; and his name will ring
Through all the shores of earth, and all the stars
Whose eyes are sparkling through their tears to see
His triumph-Preacher! Martyr!-Ah-and me?-
If they must couple my poor name with his,
Let them tell all the truth-say how I loved him,
And tried to damn him by that love! O Lord!
Returning good for evil! and was this
The payment I deserved for such a sin?
To hang here on my cross, and look at him
Until we kneel before Thy throne in heaven!
The Wanderings of Oisin: Book II
Now, man of croziers, shadows called our names
And then away, away, like whirling flames;
And now fled by, mist-covered, without sound,
The youth and lady and the deer and hound;
'Gaze no more on the phantoms,' Niamh said,
And kissed my eyes, and, swaying her bright head
And her bright body, sang of faery and man
Before God was or my old line began;
Wars shadowy, vast, exultant; faeries of old
Who wedded men with rings of Druid gold;
And how those lovers never turn their eyes
Upon the life that fades and flickers and dies,
Yet love and kiss on dim shores far away
Rolled round with music of the sighing spray:
Yet sang no more as when, like a brown bee
That has drunk full, she crossed the misty sea
With me in her white arms a hundred years
Before this day; for now the fall of tears
Troubled her song.
I do not know if days
Or hours passed by, yet hold the morning rays
Shone many times among the glimmering flowers
Woven into her hair, before dark towers
Rose in the darkness, and the white surf gleamed
About them; and the horse of Faery screamed
And shivered, knowing the Isle of Many Fears,
Nor ceased until white Niamh stroked his ears
And named him by sweet names.
A foaming tide
Whitened afar with surge, fan-formed and wide,
Burst from a great door matred by many a blow
From mace and sword and pole-axe, long ago
When gods and giants warred. We rode between
The seaweed-covered pillars; and the green
And surging phosphorus alone gave light
On our dark pathway, till a countless flight
Of moonlit steps glimmered; and left and right
Dark statues glimmered over the pale tide
Upon dark thrones. Between the lids of one
The imaged meteors had flashed and run
And had disported in the stilly jet,
And the fixed stars had dawned and shone and set,
Since God made Time and Death and Sleep: the other
Stretched his long arm to where, a misty smother,
The stream churned, churned, and churned - his lips apart,
As though he told his never-slumbering heart
Of every foamdrop on its misty way.
Tying the horse to his vast foot that lay
Half in the unvesselled sea, we climbed the stair
And climbed so long, I thought the last steps were
Hung from the morning star; when these mild words
Fanned the delighted air like wings of birds:
'My brothers spring out of their beds at morn,
A-murmur like young partridge: with loud horn
They chase the noontide deer;
And when the dew-drowned stars hang in the air
Look to long fishing-lines, or point and pare
An ashen hunting spear.
O sigh, O fluttering sigh, be kind to me;
Flutter along the froth lips of the sea,
And shores the froth lips wet:
And stay a little while, and bid them weep:
Ah, touch their blue-veined eyelids if they sleep,
And shake their coverlet.
When you have told how I weep endlessly,
Flutter along the froth lips of the sea
And home to me again,
And in the shadow of my hair lie hid,
And tell me that you found a man unbid,
The saddest of all men.'
A lady with soft eyes like funeral tapers,
And face that seemed wrought out of moonlit vapours,
And a sad mouth, that fear made tremulous
As any ruddy moth, looked down on us;
And she with a wave-rusted chain was tied
To two old eagles, full of ancient pride,
That with dim eyeballs stood on either side.
Few feathers were on their dishevelled wings,
For their dim minds were with the ancient things.
'I bring deliverance,' pearl-pale Niamh said.
'Neither the living, nor the unlabouring dead,
Nor the high gods who never lived, may fight
My enemy and hope; demons for fright
Jabber and scream about him in the night;
For he is strong and crafty as the seas
That sprang under the Seven Hazel Trees,
And I must needs endure and hate and weep,
Until the gods and demons drop asleep,
Hearing Acdh touch thc mournful strings of gold.'
'Is he so dreadful?'
'Be not over-bold,
But fly while still you may.'
And thereon I:
'This demon shall be battered till he die,
And his loose bulk be thrown in the loud tide.'
'Flee from him,' pearl-pale Niamh weeping cried,
'For all men flee the demons'; but moved not
My angry king-remembering soul one jot.
There was no mightier soul of Heber's line;
Now it is old and mouse-like. For a sign
I burst the chain: still earless, neNeless, blind,
Wrapped in the things of the unhuman mind,
In some dim memory or ancient mood,
Still earless, netveless, blind, the eagles stood.
And then we climbed the stair to a high door;
A hundred horsemen on the basalt floor
Beneath had paced content: we held our way
And stood within: clothed in a misty ray
I saw a foam-white seagull drift and float
Under the roof, and with a straining throat
Shouted, and hailed him: he hung there a star,
For no man's cry shall ever mount so far;
Not even your God could have thrown down that hall;
Stabling His unloosed lightnings in their stall,
He had sat down and sighed with cumbered heart,
As though His hour were come.
We sought the part
That was most distant from the door; green slime
Made the way slippery, and time on time
Showed prints of sea-born scales, while down through it
The captive's journeys to and fro were writ
Like a small river, and where feet touched came
A momentary gleam of phosphorus flame.
Under the deepest shadows of the hall
That woman found a ring hung on the wall,
And in the ring a torch, and with its flare
Making a world about her in the air,
Passed under the dim doorway, out of sight,
And came again, holding a second light
Burning between her fingers, and in mine
Laid it and sighed: I held a sword whose shine
No centuries could dim, and a word ran
Thereon in Ogham letters, 'Manannan';
That sea-god's name, who in a deep content
Sprang dripping, and, with captive demons sent
Out of the sevenfold seas, built the dark hall
Rooted in foam and clouds, and cried to all
The mightier masters of a mightier race;
And at his cry there came no milk-pale face
Under a crown of thorns and dark with blood,
But only exultant faces.
With bowed head, trembling when the white blade shone,
But she whose hours of tenderness were gone
Had neither hope nor fear. I bade them hide
Under the shadowS till the tumults died
Of the loud-crashing and earth-shaking fight,
Lest they should look upon some dreadful sight;
And thrust the torch between the slimy flags.
A dome made out of endless carven jags,
Where shadowy face flowed into shadowy face,
Looked down on me; and in the self-same place
I waited hour by hour, and the high dome,
Windowless, pillarless, multitudinous home
Of faces, waited; and the leisured gaze
Was loaded with the memory of days
Buried and mighty. When through the great door
The dawn came in, and glimmered on the floor
With a pale light, I journeyed round the hall
And found a door deep sunken in the wall,
The least of doors; beyond on a dim plain
A little mnnel made a bubbling strain,
And on the runnel's stony and bare edge
A dusky demon dry as a withered sedge
Swayed, crooning to himself an unknown tongue:
In a sad revelry he sang and swung
Bacchant and mournful, passing to and fro
His hand along the runnel's side, as though
The flowers still grew there: far on the sea's waste
Shaking and waving, vapour vapour chased,
While high frail cloudlets, fed with a green light,
Like drifts of leaves, immovable and bright,
Hung in the passionate dawn. He slowly turned:
A demon's leisure: eyes, first white, now burned
Like wings of kingfishers; and he arose
Barking. We trampled up and down with blows
Of sword and brazen battle-axe, while day
Gave to high noon and noon to night gave way;
And when he knew the sword of Manannan
Amid the shades of night, he changed and ran
Through many shapes; I lunged at the smooth throat
Of a great eel; it changed, and I but smote
A fir-tree roaring in its leafless top;
And thereupon I drew the livid chop
Of a drowned dripping body to my breast;
Horror from horror grew; but when the west
Had surged up in a plumy fire, I drave
Through heart and spine; and cast him in the wave
Lest Niamh shudder.
Full of hope and dread
Those two came carrying wine and meat and bread,
And healed my wounds with unguents out of flowers
That feed white moths by some De Danaan shrine;
Then in that hall, lit by the dim sea-shine,
We lay on skins of otters, and drank wine,
Brewed by the sea-gods, from huge cups that lay
Upon the lips of sea-gods in their day;
And then on heaped-up skins of otters slept.
And when the sun once more in saffron stept,
Rolling his flagrant wheel out of the deep,
We sang the loves and angers without sleep,
And all the exultant labours of the strong.
But now the lying clerics murder song
With barren words and flatteries of the weak.
In what land do the powerless turn the beak
Of ravening Sorrow, or the hand of Wrath?
For all your croziers, they have left the path
And wander in the storms and clinging snows,
Hopeless for ever: ancient Oisin knows,
For he is weak and poor and blind, and lies
On the anvil of the world.
S. Patrick. Be still: the skies
Are choked with thunder, lightning, and fierce wind,
For God has heard, and speaks His angry mind;
Go cast your body on the stones and pray,
For He has wrought midnight and dawn and day.
Oisin. Saint, do you weep? I hear amid the thunder
The Fenian horses; atmour torn asunder;
Laughter and cries. The armies clash and shock,
And now the daylight-darkening ravens flock.
Cease, cease, O mournful, laughing Fenian horn!
We feasted for three days. On the fourth morn
I found, dropping sea-foam on the wide stair,
And hung with slime, and whispering in his hair,
That demon dull and unsubduable;
And once more to a day-long battle fell,
And at the sundown threw him in the surge,
To lie until the fourth morn saw emerge
His new-healed shape; and for a hundred years
So watred, so feasted, with nor dreams nor fears,
Nor languor nor fatigue: an endless feast,
An endless war.
The hundred years had ceased;
I stood upon the stair: the surges bore
A beech-bough to me, and my heart grew sore,
Remembering how I had stood by white-haired Finn
Under a beech at Almhuin and heard the thin
Outcry of bats.
And then young Niamh came
Holding that horse, and sadly called my name;
I mounted, and we passed over the lone
And drifting greyness, while this monotone,
Surly and distant, mixed inseparably
Into the clangour of the wind and sea.
'I hear my soul drop down into decay,
And Mananna's dark tower, stone after stone.
Gather sea-slime and fall the seaward way,
And the moon goad the waters night and day,
That all be overthrown.
'But till the moon has taken all, I wage
War on the mightiest men under the skies,
And they have fallen or fled, age after age.
Light is man's love, and lighter is man's rage;
His purpose drifts and dies.'
And then lost Niamh murmured, 'Love, we go
To the Island of Forgetfulness, for lo!
The Islands of Dancing and of Victories
Are empty of all power.'
'And which of these
Is the Island of Content?'
'None know,' she said;
And on my bosom laid her weeping head.
'The epochs of our life are not in the facts, but in the
silent thought by the wayside as we walk.'-Emerson
Sweet empty sky of June without a stain,
Faint, gray-blue dewy mists on far-off hills,
Warm, yellow sunlight flooding mead and plain,
That each dark copse and hollow overfills;
The rippling laugh of unseen, rain-fed rills,
Weeds delicate-flowered, white and pink and gold,
A murmur and a singing manifold.
The gray, austere old earth renews her youth
With dew-lines, sunshine, gossamer, and haze.
How still she lies and dreams, and veils the truth,
While all is fresh as in the early days!
What simple things be these the soul to raise
To bounding joy, and make young pulses beat,
With nameless pleasure finding life so sweet.
On such a golden morning forth there floats,
Between the soft earth and the softer sky,
In the warm air adust with glistening motes,
The mystic winged and flickering butterfly,
A human soul, that hovers giddily
Among the gardens of earth's paradise,
Nor dreams of fairer fields or loftier skies.
Thin summer rain on grass and bush and hedge,
Reddening the road and deepening the green
On wide, blurred lawn, and in close-tangled sedge;
Veiling in gray the landscape stretched between
These low broad meadows and the pale hills seen
But dimly on the far horizon's edge.
In these transparent-clouded, gentle skies,
Wherethrough the moist beams of the soft June sun
Might any moment break, no sorrow lies,
No note of grief in swollen brooks that run,
No hint of woe in this subdued, calm tone
Of all the prospect unto dreamy eyes.
Only a tender, unnamed half-regret
For the lost beauty of the gracious morn;
A yearning aspiration, fainter yet,
For brighter suns in joyous days unborn,
Now while brief showers ruffle grass and corn,
And all the earth lies shadowed, grave, and wet;
Space for the happy soul to pause again
From pure content of all unbroken bliss,
To dream the future void of grief and pain,
And muse upon the past, in reveries
More sweet for knowledge that the present is
Not all complete, with mist and clouds and rain.
Look westward o'er the steaming rain-washed slopes,
Now satisfied with sunshine, and behold
Those lustrous clouds, as glorious as our hopes,
Softened with feathery fleece of downy gold,
In all fantastic, huddled shapes uprolled,
Floating like dreams, and melting silently,
In the blue upper regions of pure sky.
The eye is filled with beauty, and the heart
Rejoiced with sense of life and peace renewed;
And yet at such an hour as this, upstart
Vague myriad longing, restless, unsubdued,
And causeless tears from melancholy mood,
Strange discontent with earth's and nature's best,
Desires and yearnings that may find no rest.
Serene was morning with clear, winnowed air,
But threatening soon the low, blue mass of cloud
Rose in the west, with mutterings faint and rare
At first, but waxing frequent and more loud.
Thick sultry mists the distant hill-tops shroud;
The sunshine dies; athwart black skies of lead
Flash noiselessly thin threads of lightning red.
Breathless the earth seems waiting some wild blow,
Dreaded, but far too close to ward or shun.
Scared birds aloft fly aimless, and below
Naught stirs in fields whence light and life are gone,
Save floating leaves, with wisps of straw and down,
Upon the heavy air; 'neath blue-black skies,
Livid and yellow the green landscape lies.
And all the while the dreadful thunder breaks,
Within the hollow circle of the hills,
With gathering might, that angry echoes wakes,
And earth and heaven with unused clamor fills.
O'erhead still flame those strange electric thrills.
A moment more,-behold! yon bolt struck home,
And over ruined fields the storm hath come!
When the stunned soul can first lift tired eyes
On her changed world of ruin, waste and wrack,
Ah, what a pang of aching sharp surprise
Brings all sweet memories of the lost past back,
With wild self-pitying grief of one betrayed,
Duped in a land of dreams where Truth is dead!
Are these the heavens that she deemed were kind?
Is this the world that yesterday was fair?
What painted images of folk half-blind
Be these who pass her by, as vague as air?
What go they seeking? there is naught to find.
Let them come nigh and hearken her despair.
A mocking lie is all she once believed,
And where her heart throbbed, is a cold dead stone.
This is a doom we never preconceived,
Yet now she cannot fancy it undone.
Part of herself, part of the whole hard scheme,
All else is but the shadow of a dream.
There is a hungry longing in the soul,
A craving sense of emptiness and pain,
She may not satisfy nor yet control,
For all the teeming world looks void and vain.
No compensation in eternal spheres,
She knows the loneliness of all her years.
There is no comfort looking forth nor back,
The present gives the lie to all her past.
Will cruel time restore what she doth lack?
Why was no shadow of this doom forecast?
Ah! she hath played with many a keen-edged thing;
Naught is too small and soft to turn and sting.
In the unnatural glory of the hour,
Exalted over time, and death, and fate,
No earthly task appears beyond her power,
No possible endurance seemeth great.
She knows her misery and her majesty,
And recks not if she be to live or die.
Yea, she hath looked Truth grimly face to face,
And drained unto the lees the proffered cup.
This silence is not patience, nor the grace
Of recognition, meekly offered up,
But mere acceptance fraught with keenest pain,
Seeing that all her struggles must be vain.
Her future clear and terrible outlies,-
This burden to be borne through all her days,
This crown of thorns pressed down above her eyes,
This weight of trouble she may never raise.
No reconcilement doth she ask nor wait;
Knowing such things are, she endures her fate.
No brave endeavor of the broken will
To cling to such poor stays as will abide
(Although the waves be wild and angry still)
After the lapsing of the swollen tide.
No fear of further loss, no hope of gain,
Naught but the apathy of weary pain.
All stupor of surprise hath passed away;
She sees, with clearer vision than before,
A world far off of light and laughter gay,
Herself alone and lonely evermore.
Folk come and go, and reach her in no wise,
Mere flitting phantoms to her heavy eyes.
All outward things, that once seemed part of her,
Fall from her, like the leaves in autumn shed.
She feels as one embalmed in spice and myrrh,
With the heart eaten out, a long time dead;
Unchanged without, the features and the form;
Within, devoured by the thin red worm.
By her own prowess she must stand or fall,
This grief is to be conquered day by day.
Who could befriend her? who could make this small,
Or her strength great? she meets it as she may.
A weary struggle and a constant pain,
She dreams not they may ever cease nor wane.
It comes not in such wise as she had deemed,
Else might she still have clung to her despair.
More tender, grateful than she could have dreamed,
Fond hands passed pitying over brows and hair,
And gentle words borne softly through the air,
Calming her weary sense and wildered mind,
By welcome, dear communion with her kind.
Ah! she forswore all words as empty lies;
What speech could help, encourage, or repair?
Yet when she meets these grave, indulgent eyes,
Fulfilled with pity, simplest words are fair,
Caressing, meaningless, that do not dare
To compensate or mend, but merely soothe
With hopeful visions after bitter Truth.
One who through conquered trouble had grown wise,
To read the grief unspoken, unexpressed,
The misery of the blank and heavy eyes,-
Or through youth's infinite compassion guessed
The heavy burden,-such a one brought rest,
And bade her lay aside her doubts and fears,
While the hard pain dissolved in blessed tears.
The passion of despair is quelled at last;
The cruel sense of undeserved wrong,
The wild self-pity, these are also past;
She knows not what may come, but she is strong;
She feels she hath not aught to lose nor gain,
Her patience is the essence of all pain.
As one who sits beside a lapsing stream,
She sees the flow of changeless day by day,
Too sick and tired to think, too sad to dream,
Nor cares how soon the waters slip away,
Nor where they lead; at the wise God's decree,
She will depart or bide indifferently.
There is deeper pathos in the mild
And settled sorrow of the quiet eyes,
Than in the tumults of the anguish wild,
That made her curse all things beneath the skies;
No question, no reproaches, no complaint,
Hers is the holy calm of some meek saint.
Her languid pulses thrill with sudden hope,
That will not be forgot nor cast aside,
And life in statelier vistas seems to ope,
Illimitably lofty, long, and wide.
What doth she know? She is subdued and mild,
Quiet and docile 'as a weaned child.'
If grief came in such unimagined wise,
How may joy dawn? In what undreamed-of hour,
May the light break with splendor of surprise,
Disclosing all the mercy and the power?
A baseless hope, yet vivid, keen, and bright,
As the wild lightning in the starless night.
She knows not whence it came, nor where it passed,
But it revealed, in one brief flash of flame,
A heaven so high, a world so rich and vast,
That, full of meek contrition and mute shame,
In patient silence hopefully withdrawn,
She bows her head, and bides the certain dawn.
'T is not alone that black and yawning void
That makes her heart ache with this hungry pain,
But the glad sense of life hath been destroyed,
The lost delight may never come again.
Yet myriad serious blessings with grave grace
Arise on every side to fill their place.
For much abides in her so lonely life,-
The dear companionship of her own kind,
Love where least looked for, quiet after strife,
Whispers of promise upon every wind,
A quickened insight, in awakened eyes,
For the new meaning of the earth and skies.
The nameless charm about all things hath died,
Subtle as aureole round a shadow's head,
Cast on the dewy grass at morning-tide;
Yet though the glory and the joy be fled,
'T is much her own endurance to have weighed,
And wrestled with God's angels, unafraid.
She feels outwearied, as though o'er her head
A storm of mighty billows broke and passed.
Whose hand upheld her? Who her footsteps led
To this green haven of sweet rest at last?
What strength was hers, unreckoned and unknown?
What love sustained when she was most alone?
Unutterably pathetic her desire,
To reach, with groping arms outstretched in prayer,
Something to cling to, to uplift her higher
From this low world of coward fear and care,
Above disaster, that her will may be
At one with God's, accepting his decree.
Though by no reasons she be justified,
Yet strangely brave in Evil's very face,
She deems this want must needs be satisfied,
Though here all slips from out her weak embrace.
And in blind ecstasy of perfect faith,
With her own dream her prayer she answereth.
Yet life is not a vision nor a prayer,
But stubborn work; she may not shun her task.
After the first compassion, none will spare
Her portion and her work achieved, to ask.
She pleads for respite,-she will come ere long
When, resting by the roadside, she is strong.
Nay, for the hurrying throng of passers-by
Will crush her with their onward-rolling stream.
Much must be done before the brief light die;
She may not loiter, rapt in the vain dream.
With unused trembling hands, and faltering feet,
She staggers forth, her lot assigned to meet.
But when she fills her days with duties done,
Strange vigor comes, she is restored to health.
New aims, new interests rise with each new sun,
And life still holds for her unbounded wealth.
All that seemed hard and toilsome now proves small,
And naught may daunt her,-she hath strength for all.
How strange, in some brief interval of rest,
Backward to look on her far-stretching past.
To see how much is conquered and repressed,
How much is gained in victory at last!
The shadow is not lifted,-but her faith,
Strong from life's miracles, now turns toward death.
Though much be dark where once rare splendor shone,
Yet the new light has touched high peaks unguessed
In her gold, mist-bathed dawn, and one by one
New outlooks loom from many a mountain crest.
She breathes a loftier, purer atmosphere,
And life's entangled paths grow straight and clear.
Nor will Death prove an all-unwelcome guest;
The struggle has been toilsome to this end,
Sleep will be sweet, and after labor rest,
And all will be atoned with him to friend.
Much must be reconciled, much justified,
And yet she feels she will be satisfied.
The calm outgoing of a long, rich day,
Checkered with storm and sunshine, gloom and light,
Now passing in pure, cloudless skies away,
Withdrawing into silence of blank night.
Thick shadows settle on the landscape bright,
Like the weird cloud of death that falls apace
On the still features of the passive face.
Soothing and gentle as a mother's kiss,
The touch that stopped the beating of the heart.
A look so blissfully serene as this,
Not all the joy of living could impart.
With dauntless faith and courage therewithal,
The Master found her ready at his call.
On such a golden evening forth there floats,
Between the grave earth and the glowing sky
In the clear air, unvexed with hazy motes,
The mystic-winged and flickering butterfly,
A human soul, that drifts at liberty,
Ah! who can tell to what strange paradise,
To what undreamed-of fields and lofty skies.!
To my friend George Fleming author of 'The Nile Novel' and
A year ago I breathed the Italian air, -
And yet, methinks this northern Spring is fair,-
These fields made golden with the flower of March,
The throstle singing on the feathered larch,
The cawing rooks, the wood-doves fluttering by,
The little clouds that race across the sky;
And fair the violet's gentle drooping head,
The primrose, pale for love uncomforted,
The rose that burgeons on the climbing briar,
The crocus-bed, (that seems a moon of fire
Round-girdled with a purple marriage-ring);
And all the flowers of our English Spring,
Fond snowdrops, and the bright-starred daffodil.
Up starts the lark beside the murmuring mill,
And breaks the gossamer-threads of early dew;
And down the river, like a flame of blue,
Keen as an arrow flies the water-king,
While the brown linnets in the greenwood sing.
A year ago! - it seems a little time
Since last I saw that lordly southern clime,
Where flower and fruit to purple radiance blow,
And like bright lamps the fabled apples glow.
Full Spring it was - and by rich flowering vines,
Dark olive-groves and noble forest-pines,
I rode at will; the moist glad air was sweet,
The white road rang beneath my horse's feet,
And musing on Ravenna's ancient name,
I watched the day till, marked with wounds of flame,
The turquoise sky to burnished gold was turned.
O how my heart with boyish passion burned,
When far away across the sedge and mere
I saw that Holy City rising clear,
Crowned with her crown of towers! - On and on
I galloped, racing with the setting sun,
And ere the crimson after-glow was passed,
I stood within Ravenna's walls at last!
How strangely still! no sound of life or joy
Startles the air; no laughing shepherd-boy
Pipes on his reed, nor ever through the day
Comes the glad sound of children at their play:
O sad, and sweet, and silent! surely here
A man might dwell apart from troublous fear,
Watching the tide of seasons as they flow
From amorous Spring to Winter's rain and snow,
And have no thought of sorrow; - here, indeed,
Are Lethe's waters, and that fatal weed
Which makes a man forget his fatherland.
Ay! amid lotus-meadows dost thou stand,
Like Proserpine, with poppy-laden head,
Guarding the holy ashes of the dead.
For though thy brood of warrior sons hath ceased,
Thy noble dead are with thee! - they at least
Are faithful to thine honour:- guard them well,
O childless city! for a mighty spell,
To wake men's hearts to dreams of things sublime,
Are the lone tombs where rest the Great of Time.
Yon lonely pillar, rising on the plain,
Marks where the bravest knight of France was slain, -
The Prince of chivalry, the Lord of war,
Gaston de Foix: for some untimely star
Led him against thy city, and he fell,
As falls some forest-lion fighting well.
Taken from life while life and love were new,
He lies beneath God's seamless veil of blue;
Tall lance-like reeds wave sadly o'er his head,
And oleanders bloom to deeper red,
Where his bright youth flowed crimson on the ground.
Look farther north unto that broken mound, -
There, prisoned now within a lordly tomb
Raised by a daughter's hand, in lonely gloom,
Huge-limbed Theodoric, the Gothic king,
Sleeps after all his weary conquering.
Time hath not spared his ruin, - wind and rain
Have broken down his stronghold; and again
We see that Death is mighty lord of all,
And king and clown to ashen dust must fall
Mighty indeed THEIR glory! yet to me
Barbaric king, or knight of chivalry,
Or the great queen herself, were poor and vain,
Beside the grave where Dante rests from pain.
His gilded shrine lies open to the air;
And cunning sculptor's hands have carven there
The calm white brow, as calm as earliest morn,
The eyes that flashed with passionate love and scorn,
The lips that sang of Heaven and of Hell,
The almond-face which Giotto drew so well,
The weary face of Dante; - to this day,
Here in his place of resting, far away
From Arno's yellow waters, rushing down
Through the wide bridges of that fairy town,
Where the tall tower of Giotto seems to rise
A marble lily under sapphire skies!
Alas! my Dante! thou hast known the pain
Of meaner lives, - the exile's galling chain,
How steep the stairs within kings' houses are,
And all the petty miseries which mar
Man's nobler nature with the sense of wrong.
Yet this dull world is grateful for thy song;
Our nations do thee homage, - even she,
That cruel queen of vine-clad Tuscany,
Who bound with crown of thorns thy living brow,
Hath decked thine empty tomb with laurels now,
And begs in vain the ashes of her son.
O mightiest exile! all thy grief is done:
Thy soul walks now beside thy Beatrice;
Ravenna guards thine ashes: sleep in peace.
How lone this palace is; how grey the walls!
No minstrel now wakes echoes in these halls.
The broken chain lies rusting on the door,
And noisome weeds have split the marble floor:
Here lurks the snake, and here the lizards run
By the stone lions blinking in the sun.
Byron dwelt here in love and revelry
For two long years - a second Anthony,
Who of the world another Actium made!
Yet suffered not his royal soul to fade,
Or lyre to break, or lance to grow less keen,
'Neath any wiles of an Egyptian queen.
For from the East there came a mighty cry,
And Greece stood up to fight for Liberty,
And called him from Ravenna: never knight
Rode forth more nobly to wild scenes of fight!
None fell more bravely on ensanguined field,
Borne like a Spartan back upon his shield!
O Hellas! Hellas! in thine hour of pride,
Thy day of might, remember him who died
To wrest from off thy limbs the trammelling chain:
O Salamis! O lone Plataean plain!
O tossing waves of wild Euboean sea!
O wind-swept heights of lone Thermopylae!
He loved you well - ay, not alone in word,
Who freely gave to thee his lyre and sword,
Like AEschylos at well-fought Marathon:
And England, too, shall glory in her son,
Her warrior-poet, first in song and fight.
No longer now shall Slander's venomed spite
Crawl like a snake across his perfect name,
Or mar the lordly scutcheon of his fame.
For as the olive-garland of the race,
Which lights with joy each eager runner's face,
As the red cross which saveth men in war,
As a flame-bearded beacon seen from far
By mariners upon a storm-tossed sea, -
Such was his love for Greece and Liberty!
Byron, thy crowns are ever fresh and green:
Red leaves of rose from Sapphic Mitylene
Shall bind thy brows; the myrtle blooms for thee,
In hidden glades by lonely Castaly;
The laurels wait thy coming: all are thine,
And round thy head one perfect wreath will twine.
The pine-tops rocked before the evening breeze
With the hoarse murmur of the wintry seas,
And the tall stems were streaked with amber bright; -
I wandered through the wood in wild delight,
Some startled bird, with fluttering wings and fleet,
Made snow of all the blossoms; at my feet,
Like silver crowns, the pale narcissi lay,
And small birds sang on every twining spray.
O waving trees, O forest liberty!
Within your haunts at least a man is free,
And half forgets the weary world of strife:
The blood flows hotter, and a sense of life
Wakes i' the quickening veins, while once again
The woods are filled with gods we fancied slain.
Long time I watched, and surely hoped to see
Some goat-foot Pan make merry minstrelsy
Amid the reeds! some startled Dryad-maid
In girlish flight! or lurking in the glade,
The soft brown limbs, the wanton treacherous face
Of woodland god! Queen Dian in the chase,
White-limbed and terrible, with look of pride,
And leash of boar-hounds leaping at her side!
Or Hylas mirrored in the perfect stream.
O idle heart! O fond Hellenic dream!
Ere long, with melancholy rise and swell,
The evening chimes, the convent's vesper bell,
Struck on mine ears amid the amorous flowers.
Alas! alas! these sweet and honied hours
Had whelmed my heart like some encroaching sea,
And drowned all thoughts of black Gethsemane.
O lone Ravenna! many a tale is told
Of thy great glories in the days of old:
Two thousand years have passed since thou didst see
Caesar ride forth to royal victory.
Mighty thy name when Rome's lean eagles flew
From Britain's isles to far Euphrates blue;
And of the peoples thou wast noble queen,
Till in thy streets the Goth and Hun were seen.
Discrowned by man, deserted by the sea,
Thou sleepest, rocked in lonely misery!
No longer now upon thy swelling tide,
Pine-forest-like, thy myriad galleys ride!
For where the brass-beaked ships were wont to float,
The weary shepherd pipes his mournful note;
And the white sheep are free to come and go
Where Adria's purple waters used to flow.
O fair! O sad! O Queen uncomforted!
In ruined loveliness thou liest dead,
Alone of all thy sisters; for at last
Italia's royal warrior hath passed
Rome's lordliest entrance, and hath worn his crown
In the high temples of the Eternal Town!
The Palatine hath welcomed back her king,
And with his name the seven mountains ring!
And Naples hath outlived her dream of pain,
And mocks her tyrant! Venice lives again,
New risen from the waters! and the cry
Of Light and Truth, of Love and Liberty,
Is heard in lordly Genoa, and where
The marble spires of Milan wound the air,
Rings from the Alps to the Sicilian shore,
And Dante's dream is now a dream no more.
But thou, Ravenna, better loved than all,
Thy ruined palaces are but a pall
That hides thy fallen greatness! and thy name
Burns like a grey and flickering candle-flame
Beneath the noonday splendour of the sun
Of new Italia! for the night is done,
The night of dark oppression, and the day
Hath dawned in passionate splendour: far away
The Austrian hounds are hunted from the land,
Beyond those ice-crowned citadels which stand
Girdling the plain of royal Lombardy,
From the far West unto the Eastern sea.
I know, indeed, that sons of thine have died
In Lissa's waters, by the mountain-side
Of Aspromonte, on Novara's plain, -
Nor have thy children died for thee in vain:
And yet, methinks, thou hast not drunk this wine
From grapes new-crushed of Liberty divine,
Thou hast not followed that immortal Star
Which leads the people forth to deeds of war.
Weary of life, thou liest in silent sleep,
As one who marks the lengthening shadows creep,
Careless of all the hurrying hours that run,
Mourning some day of glory, for the sun
Of Freedom hath not shewn to thee his face,
And thou hast caught no flambeau in the race.
Yet wake not from thy slumbers, - rest thee well,
Amidst thy fields of amber asphodel,
Thy lily-sprinkled meadows, - rest thee there,
To mock all human greatness: who would dare
To vent the paltry sorrows of his life
Before thy ruins, or to praise the strife
Of kings' ambition, and the barren pride
Of warring nations! wert not thou the Bride
Of the wild Lord of Adria's stormy sea!
The Queen of double Empires! and to thee
Were not the nations given as thy prey!
And now - thy gates lie open night and day,
The grass grows green on every tower and hall,
The ghastly fig hath cleft thy bastioned wall;
And where thy mailed warriors stood at rest
The midnight owl hath made her secret nest.
O fallen! fallen! from thy high estate,
O city trammelled in the toils of Fate,
Doth nought remain of all thy glorious days,
But a dull shield, a crown of withered bays!
Yet who beneath this night of wars and fears,
From tranquil tower can watch the coming years;
Who can foretell what joys the day shall bring,
Or why before the dawn the linnets sing?
Thou, even thou, mayst wake, as wakes the rose
To crimson splendour from its grave of snows;
As the rich corn-fields rise to red and gold
From these brown lands, now stiff with Winter's cold;
As from the storm-rack comes a perfect star!
O much-loved city! I have wandered far
From the wave-circled islands of my home;
Have seen the gloomy mystery of the Dome
Rise slowly from the drear Campagna's way,
Clothed in the royal purple of the day:
I from the city of the violet crown
Have watched the sun by Corinth's hill go down,
And marked the 'myriad laughter' of the sea
From starlit hills of flower-starred Arcady;
Yet back to thee returns my perfect love,
As to its forest-nest the evening dove.
O poet's city! one who scarce has seen
Some twenty summers cast their doublets green
For Autumn's livery, would seek in vain
To wake his lyre to sing a louder strain,
Or tell thy days of glory; - poor indeed
Is the low murmur of the shepherd's reed,
Where the loud clarion's blast should shake the sky,
And flame across the heavens! and to try
Such lofty themes were folly: yet I know
That never felt my heart a nobler glow
Than when I woke the silence of thy street
With clamorous trampling of my horse's feet,
And saw the city which now I try to sing,
After long days of weary travelling.
Adieu, Ravenna! but a year ago,
I stood and watched the crimson sunset glow
From the lone chapel on thy marshy plain:
The sky was as a shield that caught the stain
Of blood and battle from the dying sun,
And in the west the circling clouds had spun
A royal robe, which some great God might wear,
While into ocean-seas of purple air
Sank the gold galley of the Lord of Light.
Yet here the gentle stillness of the night
Brings back the swelling tide of memory,
And wakes again my passionate love for thee:
Now is the Spring of Love, yet soon will come
On meadow and tree the Summer's lordly bloom;
And soon the grass with brighter flowers will blow,
And send up lilies for some boy to mow.
Then before long the Summer's conqueror,
Rich Autumn-time, the season's usurer,
Will lend his hoarded gold to all the trees,
And see it scattered by the spendthrift breeze;
And after that the Winter cold and drear.
So runs the perfect cycle of the year.
And so from youth to manhood do we go,
And fall to weary days and locks of snow.
Love only knows no winter; never dies:
Nor cares for frowning storms or leaden skies
And mine for thee shall never pass away,
Though my weak lips may falter in my lay.
Adieu! Adieu! yon silent evening star,
The night's ambassador, doth gleam afar,
And bid the shepherd bring his flocks to fold.
Perchance before our inland seas of gold
Are garnered by the reapers into sheaves,
Perchance before I see the Autumn leaves,
I may behold thy city; and lay down
Low at thy feet the poet's laurel crown.
Adieu! Adieu! yon silver lamp, the moon,
Which turns our midnight into perfect noon,
Doth surely light thy towers, guarding well
Where Dante sleeps, where Byron loved to dwell.
WHEN on the West broke light from out the East,
Then from the splendour and the shame of Rome--
Renouncing wealth and pleasure, game and feast,
And all the joys of his polluted home,
Desiring not the gifts his world could give,
If haply he might save his soul and live--
Into the desert's heart a man had come.
His God had died for love of him, and he
For love of God would die to all of these
Sweet sins he had not known for sins, and be
Estranged for evermore from rest and ease;
His days in penance spent might half atone
For the iniquity of days bygone,
And in the desert might his soul find peace.
Crossing wide seas, he reached an alien land:
By mighty harbours and broad streams he passed
Into an arid, trackless waste of sand,
And journeying ever faster and more fast,
Left men behind, and onward still did press
To a ruined city in the wilderness,
And there he stayed his restless feet at last.
There stood long lines of columns richly wrought,
Colossal statues of forgotten kings,
Vast shadowy temples, court within dim court,
Great shapes of man-faced beasts with wide firm wings;
And in and out each broken colonnade
The bright-eyed, swift, green-gleaming lizards played,
In that still place the only living things.
But when the moon unveiled her still, white face,
And over sand and stone her glory shed--
Another life awoke within the place,
And great beasts stalked, with silent heavy tread,
Through pillared vista, over marble floor,
And the stern menace of the lion's roar
Made horrible the city of the dead.
Like a great bird soft sinking on its nest,
Too lightly to disturb its tender brood,
The night, with dark spread wings and cloudy breast,
Sank on the desert city's solitude
As he drew near. The shadows grew more dense,
The silence stronger; weariness intense
Fell on him then, and only rest seemed good.
He passed between tall pillars' sculptured gloom,
And entered a deserted, lightless fane,
And knew not if it temple were, or tomb,
But slept and slept, till over all the plain
The level sunbeams spread, and earth was bright
With morning's radiant resurrection-light;
Then he awoke, refreshed and strong again.
Through empty courts he passed, and lo! a wall
Whereon was imaged all the languid grace
Of fairest women, and among them all
Shone like a star one lovely Eastern face:
Undimmed by centuries the colours were,
Bright as when first the painter found her fair,
And set her there to glorify the place.
All he had fled from suddenly drew near,
And from her eyes a challenge seemed down-thrown;
'Ah, fool!' she seemed to say, 'what dost thou here?
How canst thou bear this stern, sad life alone,
When I--not just this face that copies me,
But I myself--stretch arms and lips to thee,
From that same world whose joys thou hast foregone?'
His heart leaped up like flame--she was so fair;
Then with a start he hid his eyes and fled
Into the hotness of the outer air.
His pulse beat quickly. 'Oh, my God!' he said,
'These be the heart made pure, and cleansèd brain!
I vow to Thee to never look again
On women, real or painted, quick or dead!'
So lest within the city he should find,
To tempt his soul, still some accursèd thing,
He left the palaces and courts behind,
Found a green spot, with date-palms and a spring
And built himself a rough stone shelter there
And saw no more the face, so strange and fair
That had begot such vain imagining.
He tilled the patch of land, and planted seeds
Which from his own far country he had brought;
And, caring little for his body's needs,
Strove still by blind belief to strangle thought,
By ceaseless penance to deny desire,
To quench in prayer and fast all human fire,
And wrest from Heaven the blessings that he sought.
And there peace found him, and he dwelt alone,
And gladly gave his life to God. Behind
Lay the long dim arcades of graven stone;
Before him lay the desert, burning blind
Sometimes with the dread dance of its own sand,
That wildly whirled in shadowy columns, fanned
By the hot breath of the fierce desert wind.
Each day passed by as had passed other days,
And days gone by were as the days to come,
Save that on some days he was wild with praise,
And weak with vigil and with fast on some;
And no man saw he for long months and years,
But ever did he penance with hot tears,
And but for prayer and praise his lips were dumb.
Sometimes at first, when spent with watch and prayer,
He saw again the Imperial City's towers,
Where, in a mist of music and sweet air,
Thais and Phryne crowned his cup with flowers--
He saw the easeful day, the festal night,
The life that was one dream of long delight,
One rose-red glow of rapture and fair hours.
He heard old well-remembered voices cry,
'Come back to us! Think of the joys you miss;
Each moment floats some foregone rapture by,
A cup, a crown, a song, a laugh, a kiss!
Cast down that crown of thorns, return, and be
Once more flower-crowned, love-thrilled, wine-warmed, and see
The old sweet life--how good a thing it is!'
But his soul answered, 'Nay, I am content;
Ye call in vain; the desert shuts me in.
Your flowers are sere, your wine with gall is blent,
Your sweets have all the sickening taste of sin;
Such sin I expiate with ceaseless pain,
And world and flesh and devil strive in vain
Back from its sanctuary my soul to win.
'Fair are the Imperial City's towers to see?
I seek the City with the streets of gold.
Beside the lilies God has grown for me
Faint are the roses that your fingers hold.
Ear hath not heard the music I shall hear,
Eye hath not seen the joys that shall appear,
Nor heart conceived the things I shall behold.'
After long days a stranger halted there,
For some far distant monastery bound.
The hermit fed and lodged, nor could forbear
To tell his guest what rest his soul had found
How with the world he long ago had done,
How the hard battle had been fought and won,
And he found peace, pure, perfect and profound.
The stranger answered, 'Thou hast watched an hour,
But many hours go to make up our day,
And some of these are dark with fateful power,
And Satan watches for our souls alway;
The spirit may be willing, but indeed
The flesh is weak, and so much more the need
To pray and watch, my brother, watch and pray.'
The Roman bowed his head in mute assent,
And, having served the stranger with his best,
Bade him God-speed, and down the way he went--
Gazed sadly after, but within his breast
A pale fire of resentment sprang to flame
Was he not holy now, and void of blame,
And certain of himself, and pure, and blest?
That night a new-born desolation grew
Within his heart as he made fast the stone
Against the doorway of his hut, and knew
How more than ever he was now alone.
He was in darkness, but the moon without
Made a new tender daylight round about
The hut, the palms, the plot with millet sown.
Hark!--what was that?--For many months and years
He had not heard that faint uncertain noise,
Broken, and weak, and indistinct with tears--
A voice--a human voice--a woman's voice.
'Oh, let me in,' it wailed, 'before I die!
Oh, let me in, for Holy Charity!
For see--my life or death is at thy choice!'
Unthinking, swift he rolled the stone away:
There stood a woman, trembling, shrinking, thin;
Her pale hair by the moon's white light looked grey,
And grey her hands and grey her withered skin.
'Oh, save me--lest I die among the beasts
Who roam, and roar, and hold their fearful feasts!
Oh, save me,' she besought him, 'let me in!'
Troubled, he answered, 'Nay, I have a vow
Never again a woman's face to see!'
'But, ah,' she cried, 'thy vow is broken now,
For at this moment thou beholdest me.
I cannot journey farther. Help!' she said,
'Or I before the dawning shall be dead,
And thou repent to all eternity!'
His soul was gentle and compassionate.
'Thou shalt not perish--enter here,' he said;
'My vow is broken, and thy need is great.'
She staggered forward to the dry leaf bed,
And sank upon it, cold and still and white.
'Perhaps she may not live until the light,'
He thought, and lifted up her drooping head,
And gave her wine from out a little store
Which he had kept untouched since first he came;
He rolled the stone again before his door
To keep the night air from her wasted frame;
And, though his vow was broken, somehow knew
That he was doing what was right to do,
Yet felt a weight of unacknowledged blame.
And many a day he tended her and fed;
But ever after that first night's surprise
With earnest vigilance he held his head
Averted, and downcast he kept his eyes.
His vow, though broken once, was still his law;
He looked upon her face no more, nor saw
Her whom he cared for in such kindly wise.
She never spoke to him, nor he to her--
That she was sick and sad was all he knew;
He never asked her what her past days were,
Nor of the future, what she meant to do.
So dwelt they, till the full moon's yellow light
Flooded the world once more. Then came the night
Which all his life had been a prelude to.
The stone was moved a little from the door,
And near it he was kneeling rapt in prayer
Upon the cold uneven earthen floor;
The moonbeams passed him by, and rested where
The woman slept--her breathing soft and slow,
With rhythmic cadence even, restful, low,
Stirring the stillness of the cool night air
His prayer being ended, as he turned to rest,
He chanced to let his eyes fall carelessly
Upon the figure that the moon caressed,
The woman that his care had not let die.
And now no more he turned his face aside,
But gazed, and gazed, and still unsatisfied
His eager look fed on her, hungrily.
On her? On whom? The suppliant he had saved,
Thin, hollow-cheeked and sunken-eyed had been,
With shrunken brow whereon care-lines were graved,
With withered arms, dull hair, and fingers lean.
'Has my blind care transformed her so?' he said;
For she was gone, and there lay in her stead
The loveliest woman he had ever seen.
The rags she wore but made her seem more sweet,
Since in despite of them she was so fair;
The rough brown leaves quite covered up her feet,
But left one ivory arm and shoulder bare,
The other lay beneath the little head,
And over all the moonlit couch was spread
The sunlight-coloured wonder of her hair.
He could not move, nor turn away his gaze:
How long he stood and looked he could not guess.
At last she faintly sighed, and in her face
Trembled the dawn of coming consciousness;
The eyelids quivered, and the red lips stirred,
As if they tried to find some sweet lost wo
And then her eyelids lifted, and he met
Full in his dazzled eyes the glorious light
Of eyes that he had struggled to forget
Since he had broken from their spells of might--
The Eastern eyes that from the painted wall
Had lightened down upon him, to enthral
Senses and soul with fetters of delight.
He knew her now, his love without a name,
Who in his dreams had looked on him and smiled,
And almost back to his old world of shame
His unconsenting manhood had beguiled!
There was no world now any more. At last
He knew that all--his future, present, past--
In her sole self was fused and reconciled.
The moments fled as in a dream divine:
Fire filled his veins--there beat within his brain
The madness that is born of love or wine;
And her eyes gleamed--softened and gleamed again,
And in those stormy seas he gazed, until
Her beauty seemed the whole vast night to fill,
And all, save her, seemed valueless and vain.
Then, with her eyes still deep in his, she rose
And moved towards him, and a wave of bliss
Flooded his sense with the wild joy that goes
Before a longed-for, almost granted kiss,
And slowly she drew nearer to his side--
Then, with a smile like mid-June's dawn, she sighed,
And turned to him, and laid her hand on his.
And at the touch, all he had deemed effaced--
All the heart-searing passions of his past--
Surged up, and their destroying wave laid waste
The ordered garden of his soul. At last
The spell of silence broke, and suddenly
The man's whole heart found voice in one low cry,
As round her perfect head his arms he cast--
And did not clasp her, for his foiled arms crossed
Only upon his own tumultuous breast!
His wrecked heart, tempest driven, passion tossed,
Beat fierce against his own hand on it pressed.
As on June fields might fall December frost,
In one cold breath he knew that she was lost--
Eternally foregone and unpossessed.
For even as he clasped she had seemed to melt,
And fade into the misty moonlit air;
His arms were empty, yet his hand still felt
The touch of her hand that had rested there:
But she was gone, with all her maddening grace--
The solitude and silence, in her place,
Like a chill searching wind crept everywhere.
Silence--at first. Then suddenly outbroke
A little laugh. And then, above, around,
A hideous peal of laughter, shout on shout,
Re-echoing from sky, and air, and ground;
And in his devastated soul had birth
A horrid echo of that demon mirth,
And with his human voice he swelled its sound.
'Tricked, fooled!' he laughed. 'We laugh, the fiends and I,
They for their triumph, I to feel my fall!
From snares like these is no security,
In desert wild or close-built city wall:
And since I must be tempted, let me go
And brave the old temptations that I know;
Not these, that are but phantoms after all--
'Phantoms, not living women, warm and real,
As the fair Roman women were. And yet
The phantom only is my soul's ideal,
Longed for through all the years and never met
Till now; and only now to make hell worse--
To fan my fires of infinite remorse
With the cold wind of infinite regret.
'Back to the world, the world of love and sin!
For since my soul is lost, I claim its price!
Prayers are not heard. The God I trusted in
Has failed me once--He shall not fail me twice!
No more of that wild striving and intense
For irrecoverable innocence--
No more of useless, vain self-sacrifice!
'Life is too potent and too passionate,
Against whose force I all these years have striven
In vain, in vain! Our own lives make our Fate;
And by our Fate our lives are blindly driven!
There is no refuge in the hermit's cell
From memories enough to make a hell--
Of chances lost that might have made a heaven!'
Back to his world he went, and plunged anew
Into the old foul life's polluted tide;
But ever in his sweetest feast he knew
A longing never to be satisfied:
This strange wild wickedness, that new mad sin,
Might be the frame to find her picture in;
And if that failed, some other must be tried.
And in the search, soul, body, heart, and brain
Were blasted and destroyed, and still his prize,
Ever untouched, seemed always just to gain,
And just beyond his reach shone Paradise.
So followed he, too faithfully, too well,
Through death, into the very gate of hell,
The love-light of those unforgotten eyes!