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E.B. White

Loneliness is a strange gift.

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Strange Ways

Many people have strange way of meeting
With heavy face and deep frown, offer greetings
Good at heart but fail to show happiness
Forced try to come out of isolation and loneliness

Never mind meeting less people but share their views
Let them feel you are sympathizer among few
You are not here to gain their sympathy
But to share worries, agony and apathy

Life is worth only when you are involved in it
Light too may be seen only when lamp is lit
Feelings are also felt only when there is little gesture
Respect is also when only when you have fix tenure

You can earn fame only after hard work or dedication
Lukewarm response from others is also good indication
No one simply acknowledges your contribution
It is only for your hard efforts in distribution

'Live and let others live' should form the basis
It may lead to peaceful existence and avoid crisis
You need not speak yourself as work may reveal
Everything is open to judgment when nothing is to conceal

It is considered as achievement and good art of living
Fine blend of relation developed with and neat weaving
That is how one may comes to be known as very humble
His ideology may not need introduction with preamble

There is no big price tag for showing goodness
It must be seen as gift from God or holiness
Let inner strength find response with easy access
Life may be termed as worth while with grand success

Nothing may go wrong if one sincerely tries or attempt
There won't be immediate response or action prompt
Society or circle may recognize its real importance
It may have its own weight like any heavy substance

Many people go and opt for open confrontation
Use bitter words and enter controversy and altercation
They themselves mayn’t know what they are trying for?
Find no place to stand even at home or with neighbor


Is it not futile to try for worthless things?
Are we sure of attaining it for something?
Will it not cost dearly for our well being?
I shall prefer to be poor rather than being king

We are not here to behave as strangers
Sometimes we act like teenagers
Go for easy pick and quarrel
Simply accept wrong for real

Life itself is very strange with so many ups and down
Many may rot in streets and others may have crown
It is not important how and what you inherited?
But how you delivered and your work merited

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Unveiled My Valentine Gift.....

As my heart slowly
Untangled the strings of age,
Opened the wrapper of loneliness,
I found within was genuine love and care
That twinkled my eyes and
Made my lips smile,
Ending my nights of despair,
My happiness seems no boundary,
And my feet above the ground,
Making my moment auspicious,
Found one that I had been waiting for,
Blessed I am to possess
My heart would treasure this gift
For my rest of my life
Thus unveiled my Valentine gift,
To me you are my valentine gift from Lord.


(Geets wishing every reader A Very Happy & Lovable Valentine Day! !)

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Katherine Mansfield

Loneliness

Now it is Loneliness who comes at night
Instead of Sleep, to sit beside my bed.
Like a tired child I lie and wait her tread,
I watch her softly blowing out the light.
Motionless sitting, neither left or right
She turns, and weary, weary droops her head.
She, too, is old; she, too, has fought the fight.
So, with the laurel she is garlanded.

Through the sad dark the slowly ebbing tide
Breaks on a barren shore, unsatisfied.
A strange wind flows... then silence. I am fain
To turn to Loneliness, to take her hand,
Cling to her, waiting, till the barren land
Fills with the dreadful monotone of rain

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Sonnet LIX: Love's Last Gift

Love to his singer held a glistening leaf,
And said: “The rose-tree and the apple-tree
Have fruits to vaunt or flowers to lure the bee;
And golden shafts are in the feathered sheaf
Of the great harvest-marshal, the year's chief,
Victorious Summer; aye, and 'neath warm sea
Strange secret grasses lurk inviolably
Between the filtering channels of sunk reef.
“All are my blooms; and all sweet blooms of love
To thee I gave while Spring and Summer sang;
But Autumn stops to listen, with some pang
From those worse things the wind is moaning of.
Only this laurel dreads no winter days:
Take my last gift; thy heart hath sung my praise.”

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Strange Fire

I come to you with strange fire
I make an offering of love
The incense of my soul is burned
By the fire in my blood
I come with a softer answer
To the questions that lie in your path
I want to harbor you from the anger
Find a refuge from the wrath
This is a message
A message of love
Love that moves from the inside out
Love that never grows tired
I come to you with strange fire
Fire
Mercenaries of the shrine
Now who are you to speak for god
With haughty eyes and lying tongues
And hands that shed innocent blood
Now who delivered you the power
To interpret calvary
You gamble away our freedom
To gain your own authority
Find another state of mind
You know its time we all learned
To grab hold
Strange fire burns
With the motion of love
Fire
Fire
When you learn to love yourself
You will dissolve all the stones that are cast
Now you will learn to burn the icing sky
To melt the waxen mask
I said to have the gift of true release
This is a peace that will take you higher
Oh I come to you with my offering
I bring you strange fire
This is a message
A message of love
Love that moves from the inside out
Love that never grows tired
I come to you with strange fire
Fire
Fire
I come to you with strange fire

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This Loneliness That Visits

Sometimes loneliness is a gift.
It allows our minds to reflect and drift.
To evaluate who it is we are.
What our wishes mean to us...
And the depth of our dreams,
When loneliness descends.

Our desire to be free of this 'entrapment'
Is encouraging!
Once it is realize 'why' we feel this way.
And 'what' the efforts are to deliver us,
From only seeing ourselves mirroring a sadness.
Knowing that a trust hidden,
Awaits to deliver gladness that arrives...
Eventually!
To inspire our hearts to thrive on new adventures!
This can not be who it is that we are.
A frowning face that takes a place,
Becoming too comfortable with a loneliness sitting.

It is unfamiliar,
When first viewed.
And expressed upon our faces.
Clearly not subdued.
That is why it draws all of our attention to it!
And others too.
This loneliness that visits.
Because it is allowed.
Until we walk away from it.
Freeing it from its welcome.
Leaving it as something seen...
Like a foe that pops up on the scene.
But not to be accepted with a warm embrace.
We can move away from it IF we so desire!
If we inspired a happiness within us to surface!
It can and should be replaced.
Erasing...
This loneliness,
We can dismiss.
To acquire a more sweetened taste...
From a life of bitterness,
An aloneness made can trace!

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Meaning Of Loneliness

Lost in a strange city, no where to turn
Far cry from the streets that I came from
It can get lonely when you're trav'ling hard
But you can even be lonely
Standin' in your own backyard
Nobody knows the existential dread
Of the things that go on inside someone else's head
Whether it be trivial or something that Dante said
But baby, nobody knows the meaning of loneliness
No matter how well ya know someone
You can only ever guess
How can you ever really know somebody else?
It takes more than a lifetime
Just to get to know yourself
Nobody knows the meaning of loneliness
(Instrumental & sax)
I have to say a word about solitude
For the soul it sometimes, they say can be good
And I'm partial to it myself, and well I must confess
Nobody knows the meaning of loneliness
Well, it's Satra and Camu
Neitche and Hess
If ya dig deep enough you're gonna end
Up in distress
And no one escapes havin' to live life
Under duress
And no one escapes the meaning of loneliness
Well, they say keep it simple
When it gets to be a mess
And fame and fortune
Never brought anyone happiness
I must be lucky, some of my friends think
That I'm really blessed
Nobody knows the meaning of loneliness
No-no-no-no-no-no
Nobody knows the meaning of loneliness
No-no, no-ooh body knows the meaning of loneliness
Nobody knows the meaning of loneliness.

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Loneliness - Ring The Alarm

Well, I am for real but I am on my way
Silent, of course, but I won't be late
Greed, don't you worry, never let it gonna stay
beat it my loneliness - Go!
so stir it up whatever you don't have to change style
no more trauma, was so far away, you'll only make it die
come back again, always a friend
is that the message I'd like to send?
|: I want you to feel no more loneliness
so ring the alarm
you open my mind
now I talk to the sign
you clear up the sight
now I'm up for the night :|
Time is for real something you'll never change
all that you gotta do, of course, you're acting strange
Rise again, set again, it's all within your range
Do what you gotta do Go!
So dont come tell me things that you dont understand
When its all about the honesty and time for you to learn
come back again, you're always a friend
is that the message I'd like to send?
|: I want you to feel no more loneliness
so ring the alarm
you open my mind
now I talk to the sign
you clear up the sight
now I'm up for the night :|
(When) I know Im supposed to be right
(but) I know that you cant stop the flow
(and) You know Im here
gonna be
What you are but not what you see
I want you to feel no more loneliness
I want you to feel no more loneliness
so ring the alarm
|: I want you to feel no more loneliness
so ring the alarm
you open my mind
now I talk to the sign
you clear up the sight
now I'm up for the night :|

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Tale of a Once Upon a Time Christmas Gift for Me from the Deity

God has a sense of humor and
If you have time I have a tale.
In military basic training land
The youngsters - not always young - always come to chapel.
It is the only place where they are free
Loosed temporarily from the fetters of their captivity
It is a place of pressure and of pain
This military basic training lane
Access to the military the goal to be gained.
The process lasts about twelve weeks
Twelve being the number choosen by our greatest teacher.

On Christmas Eve with help from wife
Her intent being to help ease my preaching strife
A great sermon was spoken to the uniformed throng
Their attentiveness told me absolutely nothing was wrong
A great sermon preached to a sea of faces
A little less pain in one of God's strange places.

But the best was yet to be
For God's sense of humor held a gift for me
That in that night of greatest pastoral power
A goal of rich adolescent vision had come to flower.
The goal was to preach in a great filled cathedral
And to do it with an excellence almost sudoral
To do it so well that half would return
To do it so well only half Christ would spurn,
At least as far as his worship would go
The ethical part is still very much in tow.

So God may or may not have a plan
But I suspect She chuckles when She observes man
And although cold stone the structure was not
A legion it could comfortably hold
The half of which were almost down right told
By circumstances beyond their personal control
That to chapel next week they would return
If only for encouragement their first strip to earn.

This is a genunine gift God gave to me
The purpose I think to help me see
That though youthful ambition errs by aiming high
The calculus of our lives belong to the Big Guy.


Note on the use of 'She' to refer to God. It was Oswald Chambers' 'My Utmost for His Highest' that educated me to this in the scriptural sense.

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The Brides of Indra

Lo, 'tis Indra! he who kindles, God of celestial fire;
Who lights the thoughts of man with the flame of wild desire.
Have you watched the changeful sky, crimson, amethyst, and gold?
'T is his mantle, and the stars shine from every beaming fold.
He rides the snow-white elephant, lashed from the pale sea-foam.
From his hand the rushing thunderbolt, the arrowy lightning come.
Have you heard the shrieking east-wind when the trees were rent and strown,
And the white salt dust of the sea in the face of heaven was blown?
It is the wrath of Indra; and the sunlight is his smile.
When the clouds expire in raindrops, then Indra weeps the while.
In his beauty, none like him the earth or heaven have had:
With the wistful passion of a man, and the splendor of a god,
He has thrilled the earth's dark places, a supernal flash of fire,
He has sounded all the depths of guilt, and sorrow, and desire.
Now sinking in the struggle, now exalted soaring high,
The dark, wild heart of man strives with his divinity,
God of sunlight, God of storm, still the world his voice obeys,
And the sea of human passion, his mighty power still sways,
On its threshold, looking out on the changing world of life,
With its movement and its crowd, its uproar and its strife,
Stood a group of lovely maidens, charmed and dazzled by the glare.
The gaze of Indra fell upon them, and beholding them so fair
He loved them. Flashing earthward in a form of fire he came,
Kissed their lips, and then he left them, with blanched cheeks, and eyes aflame.
And they knew a god thus thrilled them; and had sought his home again
Ere they tasted aught of love, save its first and sudden pain.
Then they, with vague desire, in their innocence went forth;
Seeking what, or whom, they knew not, they wandered o'er the earth;
And Love, who only breathes in the clearer, upper air,
Led them to the hilly land, where the stars were shining near.
And there, though far beyond them, looking down from cloudless skies,
They saw the great god Indra, with outstretched arms and passionate eyes.
Then their hearts sank faint within them; fain was each one to turn back.
But the soul within had found its wings, and bore them rushing o'er the track,
In a superhuman ecstasy, along the dizzy space,
Till the arms of Indra clasped them in the fire of his embrace.
All unconscious of the bitter cost to those to whom 't is given
Thus to awaken the desire of the ardent sun of heaven,
With quivering lips and beating hearts was the sacrifice achieved,
And the sorrowful great gift---the love of Indra---they received.
Bear me witness, O ye mortals, by the kiss of fire refined,
How closely do the rapture and the anguish intertwine!
I know not which is greatest, for the bliss and suffering strain---
Strain alike, and all too fiercely, on the human heart and brain.
Yet who would cage his soul, when the mighty sun-god came
To thrill his being through, to draw his spirit forth in flame?
But the maidens, knowing naught of an Immortal's love,
Against the crown that Indra laid upon them, wildly, vainly strove;
Though it wrapped them in a glory, their young brows it scorched and tore,
And its golden hues the life-blood of the wearers crimsoned o'er.
"We are faint," they cried, "and weary; from our cheeks the blood has fled;
Our eyes are tired with beauty; in our souls the youth is dead;
The light is but a splendid pain; and, drooping, worn, and rent
With this eternal rapture, our weary hearts are spent;
We turn away in anguish, exhausted and oppressed.
From this fever of our lives, give us rest, give us rest."
They mourned thus until, at length, by resistless impulse led,
From the mountain of Méru, the brides of Indra fled;
Fled and sought those shadowy valleys where the stream of time flows by
Only measured by the seasons; and the mortal dwellers die
Of the slowly creeping years---not of sin, or shame, or wrong;
Not because they have lived too much, but because they 've lived too long.
Oh, what a pleasant land was that! Surely there might peace be found.
A sweet slumberous repose softly lay on all around.
No extreme of heat or cold, excess of light or depth of gloom,
Ever broke the wondrous calm of that wilderness of bloom.
And the hearts of those that dwelt there, emotion ne'er could move,
Or wake the slumbering ecstasies of hate, despair, or love.
Ever young and ever lovely were the women of that land,
And the men who ruled its councils were both courteous and bland.
No labor there was needed, no hardened hand of toil,
For all the heart could ask for sprang spontaneous from the soil.
Old age, disease, and poverty, and suffering could not stay,
For a dark and terrible river ever hurried them away,
As it poured its troubled waters through the shining land of gold,
Washing all its peaceful borders, muttering fiercely, as it rolled,
Words of menace and despair through its sinister black flood,
Which the smiling people on its banks heard, but never understood.
Wretched, flying, worn, and weary, to this luxurious land
Hither came these hapless wanderers, the fugitive fair band.
Their strange beauty and their wanness, born of passions here unknown
To the passionless who dwelt here, touched their hearts and they were won---
Touched their hearts with sweet compassion for each lovely fugitive,
And they cried, "Oh, stay here with us; we'll share with you, while we live."
Now pale, and with lustrous eyes, wandering daily side by side,
The once beloved of Indra in loneliness abide;
No friendly voices greet them as, dejected and apart,
They pass the idle throng, slow of step and sad at heart.
Each morning wakes anew a gnawing, fierce desire,
That the evening, in despair and in misery, sees expire;
And a curse pursues them ever like an avenging ghost---
The curse that haunts and maddens, of a glory won and lost.

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Patrick White

Apparitions Of The Muse

Apparitions of the muse
hanging her stars
from the end of my nose
like an exotic fragrance of night
more revealing than the light.
There. That's mine.
The constellation of the donkey,
and there beside it, do you see
that red-haired star
blazing like a woman with a carrot and a stick?
I've followed that star for fifty years
always a mountain away from the valley
like a passionate Sisyphus
rolling the earth up a hill like a stone
happy with my own absurdity,
happy to go mad for her sake alone.
Elixirs of moonlight
mingled with strange waters
and I drank until I drowned
in the ferocity of my own delirium
like a myth that's forgotten
which stars it belongs to.
I've never been much of a martyr
and bored with lies
I've always been two hells shy of a messiah
but I have fallen on the thorns of the moon
more than once
after my long descent
down the burning ladders
of God's last word on the matter.
So there's no splinter of the true cross
to needle the issue
like a compass or a crucifix.
And it still puzzles me
why it's always my blood
that rushes to the end of my emergency
like a volunteer army
but it's always somebody else's flag
that gets raised above the rubble.
Pyrrhic victories at best
when I'm not feeling cursed or blessed
by any kind of mystic meaning
convincing me I can firewalk
barefoot on stars
when I can't even get
this blue pebble of a planet
out of my heart like a shoe.
But even letting go of all their leaves
like starmaps home from spiritual refugees
the trees can only go so far
as the wind and streams will let them.
And then there's a darkness that doesn't taste of stars.
And decisions that cut like the smiles of broken mirrors.
And turmoil in the snakepits of desire
that are thrown like angry acids
in the eyes of the seers
who saint the rain with their sorrows
like old calendars of crossed-out tomorrows
playing x's and o's with the moon.
It's a freak of enlightenment
to turn love into a discipline
inspiration into a law
and godless wonder into superstitious awe.
So I listen and say nothing,
see and don't reveal,
understand but never think I know
the gates that pass through me
when I call out to the wild geese in the fall
and I am startled by the loneliness of the answer.
I've seen you in the nightstream down the mountain,
the river and the sea
that sits below the salt
at her own table,
and I still suspect it was you
that turned my bitter tears
into the brittle chandeliers
that fell like ice-storms in a fountain
to silence the voices of the mirrors
the birds kept flying into
like windows at war with the sky.
I was out of the egg.
I was out of my mind at last
like a gift I didn't deserve
and the universe was full of your absence
because you were the embodiment of my longing,
the darkness in the light
that stood aloof from the meaning of everything
as if your only proof were your eyes
and that were enough
to answer the empty skies with stars.
You may put on flesh and blood
and in your human proportions confess
you don't believe this,
but you can never be attained,
never be embraced
never be contained
by any avatar of who you are
because like space in all directions
you are limitless
and even time is consumed
in the root fires that grabbed you by the ankle
and pulled you underground
to dress a goddess of light
in the nocturnal jewels of the dead.
And it is not a prerogative of the beatifically born
to be demonically wrong,
but I have heard the skulls in the song
that allures the unwary sailors
to the lunar horns of your fishbone harps
to smash them on the rocks
as if you took a tragic delight
in the sheer delinquency of your power
to arouse and extinguish desire.
Anyone can come up
with a meaning for life
but you are the muse
of meaning itself,
the meaning of meaning
when anyone asks
without expecting an answer.
What woman that I've loved
like a river reaching the sea
have you not been
over these long, intense years
of radiant tenderness
and creative commotion
and an ominous darkness out over the ocean
when the moon turned around
like a bride in bed
and revealed the far side
she kept to herself like stars?
And it's still a shock and a marvel to me
when you disappear into the air
like a breath someone neglected to take
when it bloomed on the window.
I don't doubt your capacity to devastate
and I have the urns and the burns
and the ashes to prove it
and know on a whim of your arrogance
you could leave the phoenix out in the cold
and douse the dragon like a torch
in your fire-proof waters.
But lately, out of the flesh,
I look for you behind the eyes
of every woman I meet
and it's rare that I find one
whose blood and passions
you've worn as your own,
whose mind is a jewel of yours
that flows like a star sapphire
down a dark mirror
older than the meaning of life
that relflects you in the light of a black sun.
And I know enough not to ask
about those lockets of blood
you hang like thorns
around the neck of your mystic rose
like the first and last crescents of the moon.
I opened one once to see
whose picture you carried inside
like a butterfly you were working on
like message in a bottle you never sent
like a ship to the rescue
and I'm still not certain
I was demon enough
to survive the miracles
you released upon me
like a hive of angry angels
but I came to know
what the loss of heaven meant
when I ran from the garden
through the closing gates
of the harp you stuck in my throat
like a voicebox of sacred syllables
and came up on the short end of a wishbone
like another rib I was happy to lose
like third on a match
in trench warfare with any muse of a woman
who catches me blindfolded out in the open
in the crosshairs of an inspiration
she knows I can't help but surrender to
like a white Russian iris of a poem
to a firing squad of stars aimed at my heart
just to see if I were as ready to die for her
when she put her finger
like a moment of truth
on the trigger of the moon
up to my temple
as I claimed in thousands
of Zen haikus and enlightened alibis
that fell like Japanese plum blossoms at her feet
I was ready and willing to die for any art
where she wasn't the medium
that fired me up with mystic urgency
to write long loveletters
like a moth in a window
to the candles she inspired in my heart
like the fairest flames of life I have ever expired in.

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Lenexa Baptist Church Poet Tom Zart, s = BELL RINGERS of THE SOUL!

POETS ARE THE BELL RINGERS of THE HEART & SOUL!


Poets as a rule are high on adventure
Like wondering bards or prophets today.
Embracing hearts and minds with wisdom
Casting through verse their visions at play.

Poets have their dreams and their nightmares
Of love, life, death, faith and war.
They feel the pain and tragedy of others
Even those they’ve never met before.

They fan the flames of human compassion
With their stories of the failings of man.
Professing to follow a higher power
As they recruit whomever they can.

Poets are the bell ringers of the soul
As they depict the past, the present and beyond.
They sound their alarm of what lies ahead
As the missteps of man live on.


POETS AND POEMS


Poetry blossomed long before Shakespeare, Milton or Poe.
It thrived prior to Solomon and the languages of old.
Poetry today offers itself more often in the form of music
Then in sonnets and poems as the legends of life unfold.

Man has his fear of loneliness, death and the hereafter
As authors compose his doom, desperation and glory.
All hear the words of both good and evil
With too many that fall for the wrong story.

The falsehoods of life find it hard to hide
From the word of God’s poets and poems.
Sharing their joy, frustration and sorrow
By voice, Internet, radio, or books, in our homes.

Poets and poems help man become more human
As the storms of life proliferate their toll.
Poets and poems were put here for a reason
To help tame the savage that dwells in our soul.


Tom Zart

GOD’S MOST HUMBLE POET


I’m God’s most humble poet
Whose poems have meter and rhyme.
Stories of love, faith, hate, honor and duty,
Obedience, war, heroes, history and crime.

I’ve performed my gift on T.V. and radio
Before millions I’ve never met.
Preached my praise of God and country
With 410 poems on the net.

Satan’s soldiers, shepherds and bards
Spew forth their foulness and grief.
They attack the joy and goodness of man
Dishonoring life, family, country and belief.

Prospering through work, love and conviction
Enables us to remain whole and how we should be.
Fortifying our soul with fulfillment of faith
Lets our worst tribulations be shouldered by Thee.

Moses, Samson, David, Solomon and Jonah
All failed God in their own human way.
He chose to forgive them and bless their powers
So they might dwell in hearts of man today.

Without God’s grace, wisdom and glorious domain
There’s no doubt all would soon cease to survive.
Through purpose, morals and Christian conviction
We are able to transform and keep hope alive.


EDGAR ALLAN POE


One of America’s most famous writers
Was born in Boston, January of 1809.
Both his parents were failing actors
And his father was drunk most the time.

In 1810 Edgar’s dad disappeared
His mother died soon after.
A childless couple took him in
Raising him with love and laughter.

Edgar had a Negro nurse
Who brought him to her quarters.
There he listened to ghost stories
Far beyond earthly borders.

The strange tales he later wrote
May have come from her inspiration.
The words she used to describe death
Gave Poe his taste for sensation.

The Allans moved to England
Where Poe attended boarding schools.
There’s no doubt his time spent there
Sharpened his skills as tools.

Returning to Richmond and back in school
He began to compose new verse.
Heavy debts forced him to leave college
As his life took a turn for the worse.

Poe caught a ride on a coal barge to Boston
Where he was unable to find employment.
A young printer agreed to publish his poems
Giving him hope and enjoyment.

Penniless, Poe enlisted in the army
And was accepted to West Point in 29.
Poe couldn’t stand not being a writer
Self-imposing his dismissal from The Line.

Afterward he became an editor and critic
And married his cousin who was thirteen.
Six years latter he discovered she was dying
Suffering once more the unforeseen.

He went through periods of insanity
Caused by grieving and functional fall.
He smoked opium and drank too much
Till at his doorstep death would call.

Edgar Allan Poe the master of verse
Still lives in our hearts today
Famous for The Raven and other great works
May his soul rest in peace we pray.


GOD’S POETS


The prize jewels of any nation
Are the philosophers of the heart.
How they think is universal
For it’s God who makes them so smart.

Most poets tell the truth of life
Though they may wrap it in beauty.
It's their passion, not their purpose
To compose is but their duty.

Poets have no reason to lie
When the truth is always so clear.
All that others say and do
Is but food for the poet's ear.

One merit of a poet's work
Which most cannot deny.
They say more and in fewer words
To illuminate you and I.

God sent his poets down to earth
With words of wisdom and of worth.
That they might touch the souls of men
And bring them back to Him again.


A GOOD POEM


A good poem paints a picture
For both your heart and brain.
It doesn't need a second chance
To make its meaning plain.

A good poem is like the flower
The lily or the rose.
God plants it in a poet's brain
And there its beauty grows.

A good poem like a cardinal
Is pregnant with song
You can’t help but hear its message
As it sings what's right or wrong.

A good poem helps us remember
What the joys of life are for
It makes us want to love someone
Till death comes knocking at our door.


POETRY


God has always had his poets
Who He watches with love from space.
But Satan has his poets too
Who try to lead us from our grace.

King Solomon was a poet
Who spoke of love, life, death and war.
That lips were like threads of scarlet
And that breasts were roses and more.

The wild birds sing and flowers bloom
As clouds form figures in the sky.
But only humans will write poems
That shall last long after they die.

The eldest sister of all arts
Which some have called the devils wine.
Poetry is but pure passion
To stimulate the heart and mind.


POET'S WIFE


My reciting seemed to delight her
Though for me it was love at first sight.
When she found out I was a poet
She asked, what kind do you write?

Love poems, mostly, I told her
While we walked alone in the park
Love's fever became even warmer
As two shadows embraced in the dark

I'll always remember when first we met
I whispered a poem in her ear.
Ever since then how happy I've been
And other women I've no need to be near.

They say that poets are divine
Though my wife would argue, that’s not true!
For, whenever I lose my direction
It’s she who tells me what to do.

Where the city ends and the suburbs begin
We've built our home beneath the sky.
We’ll raise our babies with truth and love
Till one or both of us die.

A verse a day, I always say
Helps keep lawyers from my door
For when I'm paid for what I write
My wife loves me a little more.


ALL POETS SERVE A MASTER


Most poets have a bit of Solomon
Shakespeare and Poe within.
Constantly eager to share their visions
Of love, life, joy and sin.

Some guzzle whiskey
Some sip wine
Some prefer cola
And feel just fine.

Some smoke pot
Or suck cigarettes
Some abuse drugs
With lifetime regrets.

Some attend church
And sing of God
While others make fun
And call them odd.

All have a purpose
Which drives them to compose.
All serve a master
Who by free will, they chose.


DIVINE INTERVENTION


I never write a poem
That doesn’t write itself.
I catch a buzz and come alive
Like a puppet off it’s shelf.

Hearing many voices
Whose words are never mine.
My pen becomes a painter’s brush
Forming visions on a line.

I seem to be a better person
When it’s time to sit down and write.
A higher power guides my hand
Sharing wisdom by day and night.

People born to create
Have no choice but to perform.
It’s the rush of sharing their gift
That elevates them from the norm.

What would our world become
Without intervention from above?
Angry beings in a revolving cage
With no sense of passion or love.


THE POWER of POETRY


Poetry is the lighthouse of life
Guiding the lost from a stormy sea.
Without it’s presence darkness prevails
Keeping us from all we can be.

Poems are used to convey passion
By poets of both good and evil mood.
Some are hateful others loving
Sharing thoughts to be consumed as food.

Verse can lead us to glory or doom
As we partake with others within.
Depicting our past, present and future
With words of man’s grace or sin.

People write poetry because they have no choice
Answering to the call of their gift.
Where some tend to pull their readers down
Others compose to give them a lift.

Always remember the power of poetry
Is used by both heaven and hell.
It’s up to us to choose our pleasure
As poetry remains alive and well.


WHISPERS


Poetry consumed is where wisdom begins
As we heed to the whispers of the heart.
It’s easy to blame others for our dismay
When from ignorance we refuse to part.

Verse is a beacon of hope in the darkness
To help us navigate the pitfalls of life.
Far more tend to write it, than read it
That’s why there’s endless conflict and strife.

I write poems to help fuel the light
By sharing what God has given me.
With stories of love, life, war and more
Where heroes pray on bended knee.


MASTERS of VERSE


Poetry is one of man’s oldest arts
Practiced long before words of print.
Every race had its masters of verse
In caves, huts, cabins or tent.

Stories in verse were handed down
From one generation to another.
The first told of love, war and more
And how to survive each other.

As man became more civilized
He could not help but wonder within.
Verse then took on a deeper meaning
With stories of faith, superstition and sin.

The act of reciting became in demand
As verse began to advance
Every tribe, city, town and village
Had someone who gave words romance.

Today’s poets are on the World Wide Web
Though many seem spiritually ill.
Thank Heaven for all who still have God’s gift
To compose, teach, comfort and fulfill.


MY FAVORITE POET


My favorite poet is “God”
Who gives Earth its rhythm and rhyme.
Not pied pipers of misguided souls
Who promote distrust, hatred and crime.

Poetry is nature serenading in song
The peaceful roar of the oceans waves.
The wind through the trees and over the hills
And the flowers in the fields by the graves.

The sound of rain as it waters the thirsty
The songs of children at play in the park.
The far off rumble of trains or thunder
As they pass through the night in the dark.

The joy of our babies first words and steps
The passion of life with its heroes and clowns.
The on going struggle to survive our sins
As we proliferate in hamlets and towns.

My favorite poet is our Father of above
Who was first to know us before birth.
His poetry prolongs every thing we love
As His deliverance gives life its worth.


THE POWER of WORDS


Words are the most powerful tools used by man
As hearts and souls reach for one another.
Sharing feelings of fear, wisdom and joy
Or our love for a significant other.

Where would we be without words
Which inspire, unite and motivate.
Songs, poems, stories, blogs, books
Wars, religion, love, lust and hate.

Jesus preached words to the multitudes
And nourish their hunger within.
The stories we tell portray our spirit
As examples of weakness, triumph or sin.

When we fail to control the rage of our thoughts
What is easy to say becomes hard to forgive.
Words are visions which portray our intent
The better we communicate, the better we live.


AMERICAN SOLDIER


It’s not a priest that gives us our freedom of religion
And it’s not a reporter that gives us our freedom of voice.
It’s not any judge, lawyer, politician, or teacher
But the blood of a soldier that has sacrificed by choice.

Our soldiers line up to be remembered
As the best of the best at their job.
They wish to be needed and depended on
To save all we love from the mob.

They risk their life and limb for liberty
Standing firm against evil unwilling to break.
To be part of something greater than themselves
They are willing to sacrifice whatever it will take.


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Stranger in Strange Crowd

STRANGER IN STRANGE CROWD


Dreams stranger’s path divide
from crowd’s uneven t[h]read
who's tissue, issues poorly understood, through dread
is left behind, swirls second rate as flotsam on life's tide,
noise windmills, senses silent, life-blood sped,
bled white, so often fearing fear, by wisdom wide,
unblessed, unsteady set sights low instead.

Despite stress, sentiments denied, imagination set aside,
stranger story stores till head heeds heart, until desires well led
fire understanding rich allied with empathy sustaining ride.
Swift Pegasus is supplied
with neither saddle, A to Zed accoutrements life tears to shreds
when vested interests, motives pure collide.

Defy temptations of soft ride
along straight road which, comfort fed,
selects ‘safe way’, too often dreads
free choice, autonomy. Self-pride
corresponds to quest for bread.

Distrust that moment Fortune’s tide
entwines in fickle thread
conformity, convention wed.
Scorn empty homage, those who glide
through vain p[l]ain life, misled.

Survival instinct, safe homestead, a ‘living wage’, priorities
appear, as opportunities to seize as each spins finite set
tripped, snipped, then ripped by Norms with ease.

Far from madding crowd who dares assign
himself true rôle in life, who thinks,
who sifts chaff, grain, drains lees from wine, palms pearls from swine?
Who, intact, acts and interacts, discerning fiction, facts,

opposes expedience, authority which hoodwinks
manipulated herd unheard, which lacks
true overview impartial, thus reacts
rather than responds, its armour: chinks.
On each new generation weigh rigid systems spawned by Fate unkind.
As pawns most men play puppet parts in Time’s relay game of tiddly-winks.

Is search for self through mirrored minds
just base reflection on sight lost?
Insisting on base ‘skills’ man finds
intuitions atrophy - cost
greater than he thinks.

We must rethink, must redefine
reference frames most use today,
foresee the patterns Change will sign
as chance advances sans delay,
prints the future’s inks.

Stranger in crowd learns to disguise
rainbow to grey coats' pinstripe ways of thought,
'won't look too good nor talk too wise',
yet still attracts attention, caught
by paradox or kinks.

Stranger in crowd in any guise
knows his goal’s not what others taught,
retains ability surprise - not what they thought
[s]he thought they thought they sought.
Reward: solitude's sinks.

Learning is a process which reminds
of staged cocoon to chrysalid
endlessly repeated until hope's blinds
are drawn, we're hid, nailed neath yoke coffin lid,
‘and Lethewards do sink.’

Restraints of social intercourse
pass through a metamorphosis
soon held acceptable divorce
none dare dismiss
between who sips, who drinks
Pierian spring whose sprays revitalize
the search for source.
New challenges set minds ablaze,
speed rate man needs to change his course,
as once wild world shrinks.

It is difficult to integrate
progress, change, to leave behind
tenets once held inviolate –
the stays and props once used to bind
Earth to its own s[t]inks.

When man from monkey split, force fields
lost ground to sleight of hand although
as last recourse they’re held to shield.
Yet Information Age remoulds
our clay as on the brink
of sensing other ways to play
life’s game exist outside strife the past
epitomized, seek interplay
between odd intuitions cast
off once as missing links.

Banished be those whose actions snide emotions undermine, gainsaid
have equity and ethics shed, dropped principles, stopped bona fide
voice for free choice ahead.

Responsibilities most dread, endure more than participate,
ignore past’s lessons future spread, surrender birthright, hopes berate,
fear future watershed.

Self-born doubt, consistent scorn, provide a fertile breeding ground for fear
of validation, absent guide. Most tremble, fearing onward ride unclear,
paralysis abed.

Decades dovetail as wa[l]king dead
observing others from the side,
halt, hesitate from birth to bed,
stagnate, refusing to decide,
seem stillborn their sands sped.

Man needs advancement from inside,
excluding bias, stranger's stride
divides from superficial slide,
a different tread would thread
through life, aims flame horizons wide.

Open mind must never be denied.
Shun those whose lower standards, led
through mirage mind-sets lined with lead,
to think themselves ahead!

P.S. Persto et Praesto...

Stranger in Strange Land must learn to grock
between appearances, nor spurn, nor lock,
but key into essentials, yet stay free
as world awakens to its Future Shock.

Here high I.Q. or gift of second sight
fail in the scales however smart or bright,
if peace of mind, serenity, few find
to burnish daily bind with inner light.

Yet inner light is what Life's all about.
Who cares a curse for economic clout
as purse may fail but heart which true to self
remains, for cash cares little, conquers doubt.

27 September 1996,19 March 2005,16 December 2006 12 September 2008
robi03_1089_robi03_0000 XXX_EJX
for previous version see below


Stranger in Strange Crowd


Dreams stranger’s path divide
from crowd’s uneven t[h]read.
Second rate, silent, life-blood bled,
most fear, unblessed by wisdom wide,
set sights low instead.

Despite stress, thoughts unreplied,
imagination set aside,
stranger story stores till head
heeds heart, until desires well lead,
fire empathy allied
with understanding rich to ride
upon swift Pegasus supplied
with neither saddle, A to Zed
accoutrements life tears to shreds
when motives collide.

Defy temptations of soft ride,
along straight road which, comfort fed,
selects ‘safe way’, too often dreads
free choice, autonomy, - self-pride
reflecting quest for bread.

Distrust that moment Fortune’s tide
entwines in fickle thread
conformity, convention wed,
pays empty homage just to glide
through vain p[l]ain life, misled.

Survival instinct, safe homestead,
a ‘living wage’ priorities
appear, as opportunities
to seize as each spins finite set
cut by the Norms with ease.

Far from madding crowd who dares assign
himself true rôle in life, who thinks,
who sifts chaff, grain, drains lees from wine,
palms pearls from swine, spurns authority
politic which hoodwinks
manipulated masses blind.
Upon each generation weigh,
rigid systems spawned by Fate unkind,
pawns play puppet parts in Time’s relay
game of tiddly-winks.

Is search for self through mirrored minds
only reflection on sight lost?
Insisting on base ‘skills’ man finds
intuitions atrophy - cost
greater than he thinks.

We must rethink, must redefine
reference frames most use today,
foresee the patterns Change will sign
as chance advances sans delay,
prints the future’s inks.

Stranger in crowd learns to disguise
rainbow to grey coats' pinstripe ways of thought,
'won't look too good nor talk too wise'
yet still attracts attention, caught
by paradox or kinks.

Stranger in crowd in any guise
knows his goal’s not what others taught,
retains ability surprise -
not what they thought [s]he thought they thought they sought, -
exits solitude's sinks.

Learning’s a process which reminds
of staged cocoon to chrysalid
endlessly repeated till blinds
drawn, we are hid ‘neath coffin lid,
‘and Lethewards do sink.’

Restraints of social intercourse
pass through a metamorphosis
soon held acceptable divorce
none dare dismiss
between who sips, who drinks
deep knowledge spring whose sprays
revitalize the search for source.
New challenges set minds ablaze,
speed rate man needs to change his course,
as once wild world shrinks.

Its difficult to integrate
evolutions which leave behind
tenets once held inviolate –
the stays and props once used to bind
Earth to its own s[t]inks.

When man from monkey split, force fields
lost ground to sleight of hand although
as last recourse they’re held to shield.
Yet Information Age remoulds
our clay as on the brink
of sensing other ways to play
life’s game exist outside strife the past
epitomized, seek interplay
between odd intuitions cast
off once as missing links.

Banished be those whose actions snide
emotions undermine, gainsaid
have equity and ethics shed,
dropped principles, stopped bona fide
voice for choice ahead.

Responsibilities most dread,
endure more than participate,
surrender birthright, hopes berate,
ignore past’s lessons future spread
as watershed.

Self-born doubt, consistent scorn, provide
a fertile breeding ground for fear,
men squat beside an onward ride unclear
of validation, which can’t guide,

Decades dovetail as wa[l]king dead -
observing others from the side,
stagnate, refusing to decide.
Most hesitate from birth to bed
seem stillborn their sands sped

Man needs advancement from inside,
excluding bias, - stranger's stride
divides from superficial slide
a different tread would thread
through life, horizons wide
aims at, will not be denied
like those whose lowered standards led,
through mirage mind-sets lined with lead,
to think themselves ahead!


P.S. Persto et Praesto...

Stranger in Strange Land must learn to grock
between appearances, nor spurn, nor lock,
but key into essentials, yet stay free
as world awakens to its Future Shock.

Here high I.Q. or gift of second sight
fail in the scales however smart or bright,
if peace of mind, serenity, none find
to burnish daily bind with inner light.

Yet inner light is what Life's all about.
Who cares a curse for economic clout
as purse may fail but heart which true to self
remains, for cash cares little, conquers doubt.


27 September 1996,19 March 2005,16 December 2006 see below ‘Search’ initial and alternate version of this poem and ‘His Place is Precious’


Search


Is the search for self through mirrored minds
only a reflection on sight lost?
Concentrating on base ‘skills’ man finds
intuitions atrophy - the cost
is greater than he thinks.

Man must think again, must redefine
the frames of reference most still use today,
anticipating patterns Change will sign
as chance advancements which won’t brook delay,
to print the future’s inks.

Far from the madding crowd who can assign
himself a goal in life, true rôle to play?
Who can sift chaff from grain, drain lees from wine,
palm pearls from swine, avoiding interplay
politic which hoodwinks

the masses whose manipulation blind
hard on each generation’s hopes does weigh,
as if all pawns were, spawned by Fate unkind
to play pale puppet parts in Time’s relay
game of tiddly-winks.

Learning is a process which reminds
one of stages - cocoon to chrysalid -
endlessly repeated till the blinds
are drawn, until we’re nailed beneath a lid,
‘and Lethewards do sink.’

Yet the restraints of social intercourse
are passing through a metamorphosis
which soon shall be accepted as divorce
that no-one will be able to dismiss
between who sips, who drinks

deep the spring of knowledge whose fair sprays
revitalize the system’s search for source.
Today new magic sets the mind ablaze!
The speed at which mankind is changing course,
as the once wild world shrinks,

is difficult to integrate, the ways
conceptions will evolve and leave behind
tenets once inviolate, the stays
and props the passing age employs to bind
itself to its own stinks.

When man and monkeys’ trees split, fields of force
lost ground to sleight of hand from day to day,
although the former shield stayed, last recourse.
Yet as the information age remoulds our clay
it seems we’re on the brink

Of consciousness of other ways to play
the game of life outside that strife the past
epitomized, exploring interplay
between internal motivations cast
off once as missing links!

27 September 1996



His Place is Precious


Turn from temptations of soft ride
along straight road of safety, comfort, ease, well fed,
where peace eternal, free from pride,
appeals, - appears an easy answer when all’s said.

Distrust that moment when the tide
of Fortune, at the flood, entwines in fickle thread,
enticing - sickled Time at side -
man with her siren song: by lust, ambitions, led.

The silent seconds, spendthrift, greedy glide: -
dovetail decades to centuries for waiting dead,
so few of whom dared seek inside
earth’s secret soul. Seemed stillborn when their hour was sped.

All those who strive to hitch a ride
at the expense of others, led
by selfishness unjustified
accounts must render overhead.

Whate’er the reasons that decide
the insolence of the individual; - bled
by fears, or blessed by wisdom wide,
or, hope denied, twisting in heat fond heart or head,

his place is precious. Don’t deride
the diff’rences that oft divide his awkward tread
from those who, superficial, slide
through life, - those most behind who think themselves ahead!


10 October 1981

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A Dialogue At Fiesole

HE.
Halt here awhile. That mossy-cushioned seat
Is for your queenliness a natural throne;
As I am fitly couched on this low sward,
Here at your feet.

SHE.
And I, in thought, at yours:
My adoration, deepest.

HE.
Deep, so deep,
I have no thought wherewith to fathom it;
Or, shall I say, no flight of song so high,
To reach the Heaven whence you look down on me,
My star, my far-off star!

SHE.
If far, yet fixed:
No shifting planet leaving you to seek
Where now it shines.

HE.
A little light, if near,
Glows livelier than the largest orb in Heaven.

SHE.
But little lights burn quickly out, and then,
Another must be kindled. Stars gleam on,
Unreached, but unextinguished. . . . Now, the song.

HE.
Yes, yes, the song: your music to my verse.

SHE.
In this sequestered dimple of the hill,
Forgotten by the furrow, none will hear:
Only the nightingales, that misconceive
The mid-day darkness of the cypresses
For curtained night.

HE.
And they will hush to hear
A sudden singing sweeter than their own.
Delay not the enchantment, but begin.

SHE
(singing).
If you were here, if you were here,
The cattle-bells would sound more clear;
The cataracts would flash and leap
More silvery from steep to steep;
The farewell of a rosier glow
Soften the summit of the snow;
The valley take a tenderer green;
In dewy gorge and dim ravine
The loving bramble-flowers embrace
The rough thorn with a gentler grace;
The gentian open bluer eyes,
In bluer air, to bluer skies:
The frail anemone delay,
The jonquil hasten on its way,
The primrose linger past its time,
The violet prolong its prime;
And every flower that seeks the light,
On Alpine lowland, Alpine height,
Wear April's smile without its tear,
If you were here; if you were here!

If you were here, the Spring would wake
A fuller music in the brake.
The mottled misselthrush would pipe
A note more ringing, rich, and ripe;
The whitethroat peer above its nest
With brighter eye and downier breast;
The cuckoo greet the amorous year,
Chanting its joy without its jeer;
The lark betroth the earth and sky
With peals of heavenlier minstrelsy;
And every wildwood bird rejoice
On fleeter wing, with sweeter voice,
If you were here!

If you were here, I too should feel
The moisture of the Springtide steal
Along my veins, and rise and roll
Through every fibre of my soul.
In my live breast would melt the snow,
And all its channels flush and flow
With waves of life and streams of song,
Frozen and silent all too long.
A something in each wilding flower,
Something in every scented shower,
Something in flitting voice and wing,
Would drench my heart and bid me sing:
Not in this feeble halting note,
But, like the merle's exulting throat,
With carol full and carol clear,
If you were here, if you were here.

HE.
Hark! How the hills have caught the strain, and seem
Loth to surrender it, and now enclose
Its cadence in the silence of their folds.
Still as you sang, the verses had the wing
Of that which buoyed them, and your aery voice
Lifted my drooping music from the ground.
Now that you cease, there is an empty nest,
From which the full-fledged melody hath flown.

SHE.
Dare I with you contend in metaphor,
It might not be so fanciful to show
That nest, and eggs, and music, all are yours.
But modesty in poets is too rare,
To be reproved for error. Let me then
Be crowned full queen of song, albeit in sooth
I am but consort, owing my degree
To the real sceptred Sovereign at my side.
But now repay my music, and in kind.
Unfolding to my ear the youngest flower
Of song that seems to blossom all the year;
``Delay not the enchantment, but begin.''

HE
(reciting). Yet, you are here; yes, you are here.
There's not a voice that wakes the year,
In vale frequented, upland lone,
But steals some sweetness from your own.
When dream and darkness have withdrawn,
I feel you in the freshening dawn:
You fill the noonday's hushed repose;
You scent the dew of daylight's close.
The twilight whispers you are nigh;
The stars announce you in the sky.
The moon, when most alone in space,
Fills all the heavens with your face.
In darkest hour of deepest night,
I see you with the spirit's sight;
And slumber murmurs in my ear,
``Hush! she is here. Sleep! she is here.''

SHE.
Hark how you bare your secret when you sing!
Imagination's universal scope
Can swift endue this gray and shapeless world
With the designs and colour of the sky.
What want you with our fixed and lumpish forms,
You, unconditioned arbiter of air?
``Yet, you are here; yes, you are here.'' The span
Of nimble fancy leaps the interval,
And brings the distant nearer than the near.

HE.
Distance is nearer than proximity,
When distance longs, proximity doth not.

SHE.
The near is always distant to the mind
That craves for satisfaction of its end;
Nor doth the distance ever feel so far
As when the end is touched. Retard that goal,
Prolonging appetite beyond the feast
That feeds anticipation.

HE.
Specious foil!
That parries every stroke before 'tis made.
Yet surfeit's self doth not more surely cloy
Than endless fasting.

SHE.
Still a swifter cure
Waits on too little than attends too much.
While disappointment merely woundeth Hope,
The deadly blow by disenchantment dealt
Strikes at the heart of Faith. O happy you,
The favourites of Fancy, who replace
Illusion with illusion, and conceive
Fresh cradles in the dark womb of the grave.
While we, prosaic victims, prove that time
Kills love while leaving loveless life alive,
You still, divinely duped, sing deathless love,
And with your wizard music, once again,
Make Winter Spring. Yet surely you forgive
That I have too much pity for the flowers
Children and poets cull to fling away,
To be an April nosegay.

HE.
How you swell
The common chorus! Women, who are wronged
So roughly by men's undiscerning word,
As though one pattern served to show them all,
Should be more just to poets. These, in truth,
Diverge from one another nowise less
Than ``women,'' vaguely labelled: children some,
With childish voice and nature, lyric bards,
Weaklings that on life's threshold sweetly wail,
But never from that silvery treble pass
Into the note and chant of manliness.
Their love is like their verse, a frail desire,
A fluttering fountain falling feebly back
Into its shallow origin. Next there are
The poets of contention, wrestlers born,
Who challenge iron Circumstance, and fail:
Generous and strong, withal not strong enough,
Since lacking sinewy wisdom, hard as life.
The love of these is like the lightning spear,
And shrivels whom it touches. They consume
All things within their reach, and, last of all,
Their lonely selves; and then through time they tower,
Sublime but charred, and wear on their high fronts
The gloomy glory of the sunlit pine.
But the great gods of Song, in clear white light,
The radiance of their godhead, calmly dwell,
And with immutable cold starlike gaze
Scan both the upper and the under world,
As it revolves, themselves serenely fixed.
Their bias is the bias of the sphere,
That turns all ways, but turns away from none,
Save to return to it. They have no feud
With gods or men, the living or the dead,
The past or present, and their words complete
Life's incompleteness with a healing note.
For they are not more sensitive than strong,
More wise than tender; understanding all,
At peace with all, at peace with life and death,
And love that gives a meaning unto life
And takes from death the meaning and the sting:
At peace with hate, and every opposite.
Were I but one of these-presumptuous thought!-
Even you, the live fulfilment of such dreams
As these secrete, would hazard well your love
On my more largely loving. 'Twould be you,
Yes, even you, that first would flag and fail
In either of my choosing; you, whose wing
Would droop on mine and pray to be upborne.
And when my pinions did no more suffice
For that their double load, then softly down,
Softly and smoothly as descending lark
That hath fulfilled its rhapsody in Heaven,
And with diminished music must decline
To earthy sounds and concepts, I should curb
Illimitable longings to the range
Of lower aspiration. Were I such!-
But, since I am not-

SHE.
Am not? Who shall say,
Save she who tests, and haply to her loss?
'Tis better left untested. Strange that you,
Who can imagine whatso thing you will,
Should lack imagination to appraise
Imagination at its topmost worth.
Now wield your native sceptre and extend
Your fancy forth where Florence overbrims
In eddies fairer even than herself.
Look how the landscape smiles complacently
At its own beauty, as indeed it may;
Villa and vineyard each a separate home,
Containing possibilities unseen,
Materials for your pleasure. Now disport!
Which homestead may it please my lord of song
To chalk for his, as those rough Frenchmen did
Who came with bow-legged Charles to justify
Savonarola's scourgeful prophecies?
Shall it be that one gazing in our face,
Not jealous of its beauty, but exposed
To all the wantonness of sun and air,
With roses girt, with roses garlanded,
And balustraded terrace topped with jars
Of clove carnations; unambitious roof,
Italian equivalent to house
Love in a cottage? Why, the very place
For her you once described! Wait! Let me see,
Can I recall the lines? Yes, thus they ran.
Do you remember them? Or are they now
A chronicle forgotten and erased
From that convenient palimpsest, the heart?

In dewy covert of her eyes
The secret of the violet lies;
The sun and wind caress and pair
In the lithe wavelets of her hair;
The fragrance of the warm soft south
Hovers about her honeyed mouth;
And, when she moves, she floats through air
Like zephyr-wafted gossamer.
Hers is no lore of dumb dead books;
Her learning liveth in her looks;
And still she shows, in meek replies,
Wisdom enough to deem you wise.
Her voice as soothing is and sweet
As whispers of the waving wheat,
And in the moisture of her kiss
Is April-like deliciousness.
Like gloaming-hour, she doth inspire
A vague, an infinite desire;
And, like the stars, though out of sight,
Filleth the loneliness of night.
Come how she may, or slow or fleet,
She brings the morning on her feet;
Gone, leaves behind a nameless pain,
Like the sadness of a silenced strain.

HE.
A youthful dream.

SHE.
Yet memory can surmise
That young dream fruited to reality,
Then, like reality, was dream no more.
All dreams are youthful; you are dreaming still.
What lovely visions denizen your sleep!
Let me recall another; for I know
All you have written, thought, and felt, and much
You neither thought nor felt, but only sang.
A wondrous gift, a godlike gift, that breathes
Into our exiled clay unexiled lives,
Manlier than Adam, comelier than Eve.
That massive villa, we both know so well,
With one face set toward Settignano, one
Gazing at Bellosguardo, and its rear
Locked from the north by clustered cypresses,
That seem like fixed colossal sentinels,
And tower above its tower, but look not in,
Might be abode for her whom you conceived
In tropes so mystical, you must forgive
If recollection trips.

To dwell with her is calmly to abide
Through every change of time and every flux of tide.

In her the Present, Past, and Future meet,
The Father, and the Son, and dovelike Paraclete.

She holdeth silent intercourse with Night,
Still journeying with the stars, and shining with their light.

Her love, illumination; her embrace,
The sweep of angels' wings across a mortal's face.

Her lap is piled with autumn fruits, her brow
Crowned with the blossoming trails that smile from April's bough.

Like wintry stars that shine with frosty fire,
Her loftiness excites to elevate desire.

To love her is to burn with such a flame
As lights the lamp which bears the Sanctuary's name.

That lamp burns on for ever, day and night,
Before her mystic shrine. I am its acolyte.

HE.
The merest foam of fancy; foam and spray.

SHE.
Foam-drift of fancy that hath ebbed away.
See how the very simile rebukes
Man's all unsealike longings! For confess,
While ocean still returns, the puny waves
Of mortal love are sucked into the sand,
Their motion felt, their music heard, no more.
Look when the vines are linking hands, and seem
As pausing from the dance of Spring, or just
Preparing to renew it, round and round,
On the green carpet of the bladed corn,
That spreads about their feet: corn, vine, and fig,
Almond and mulberry, cherry, and pear, and peach,
Not taught to know their place, but left to range
Up to the villa's walls, windows, and doors,
And peep into its life and smile good-day,
A portion of its homeliness and joy:
A poet's villa once, a poet's again,
If you but dream it such; a roof for her,
To whom you wrote-I wonder who she was-
This saucy sonnet; saucy, withal sweet,
And O, how true of the reflected love
You poets render to your worshippers.

TRUE AS THE DIAL TO THE SUN.
You are the sun, and I the dial, sweet,
So you can mark on me what time you will.
If you move slowly, how can I move fleet?
And when you halt, I too must fain be still.
Chide not the cloudy humours of my brow,
If you behold no settled sunshine there:
Rather upbraid your own, sweet, and allow,
My looks cannot be foul if yours be fair.
Then from the heaven of your high witchery shine,
And I with smiles shall watch the hours glide by;
You have no mood that is not straightway mine;
My cheek but takes complexion from your eye.
All that I am dependeth so on you,
What clouds the sun must cloud the dial too.

HE.
No man should quarrel with his Past, and I
Maintain no feud with mine. Do we not ripen,
Ripen and mellow in love, unto the close,
Thanks no more to the present than the past?
First love is fresh but fugitive as Spring,
A wilding flower no sooner plucked than faded;
And summer's sultry fervour ends in storm,
Recriminating thunder, wasteful tears,
And angry gleam of lightning menaces.
Give me October's meditative haze,
Its gossamer mornings, dewy-wimpled eves,
Dewy and fragrant, fragrant and secure,
The long slow sound of farmward-wending wains,
When homely Love sups quiet 'mong its sheaves,
Sups 'mong its sheaves, its sickle at its side,
And all is peace, peace and plump fruitfulness.

SHE.
Picture of all we dream and we desire:
Autumn's grave cheerfulness and sober bliss,
Rich resignation, humble constancy.
For, prone to bear the load piled up by life,
We, once youth's pasture season at an end,
Submit to crawl. Unbroken to the last,
You spurn the goad of stern taskmaster Time.
Even 'mid autumn harvest you demand
Returning hope and blossom of the Spring,
All seasons and sensations, and at once,
Or in too quick succession. Do we blame?
We envy rather the eternal youth
We cannot share. But youth is pitiless,
And, marching onward, neither asks nor seeks
Who falls behind. Thus women who are wise,
Beside their thresholds knitting homely gear,
Wave wistful salutation as you pass,
And think of you regretfully, when gone:
A soft regret, a sweet regret, that is
Only the mellow fruit of unplucked joy.
Now improvise some other simple strain,
That with harmonious cadence may attune
The vain and hazard discords of discourse.

HE.
When Love was young, it asked for wings,
That it might still be roaming;
And away it sped, by fancy led,
Through dawn, and noon, and gloaming.
Each daintiness that blooms and blows
It wooed in honeyed metre,
And when it won the sweetest sweet,
It flew off to a sweeter:
When Love was young.

When Love was old, it craved for rest,
For home, and hearth, and haven;
For quiet talks round sheltered walks,
And long lawns smoothly shaven.
And what Love sought, at last it found,
A roof, a porch, a garden,
And from a fond unquestioning heart
Peace, sympathy, and pardon,
When Love was old.

SHE.
Simple, in sooth, and haply true: withal,
Too, too autumnal even for my heart.
I never weary of your vernal note.
Carol again, and sing me back my youth
With the redundant melodies of Spring.

HE.
I breathe my heart in the heart of the rose,
The rose that I pluck and send you,
With a prayer that the perfume its leaves enclose
May kiss, and caress, and tend you:
Caress and tend you till I can come,
To the garden where first I found you,
And the thought that as yet in the rose is dumb
Can ripple in music round you.

O rose, that will shortly be her guest,
You may well look happy, at leaving:
Will you lie in the cradle her snowy breast
Doth rock with its gentle heaving?
Will you mount the throne of her hazel hair,
That waves like a summer billow,
Or be hidden and hushed, at nightfall prayer,
In the folds of her dimpled pillow?

And when she awakes at dawn to feel
If you have been dreaming with her,
Then the whole of your secret, sweet rose, reveal,
And say I am coming thither:
And that when there is silence in earth and sky,
And peace from the cares that cumber,
She must not ask if your leaves or I
Be clasped in her perfumed slumber.

SHE.
Give me your hand; and, if you will, keep mine
Engraffed in yours, as slowly thus we skirt
La Doccia's dark declivity, and make
Athwart Majano's pathless pines a path
To lead us onward haply where it may.
Lo! the Carrara mountains flush to view,
That in the noonday were not visible.
Shall we not fold this comfort to our hearts,
Humbly rejoiced to think as there are heights
Seen only in the sunset, so our lives,
If that they lack not loftiness, may wear
A glow of glory on their furrowed fronts,
Until they faint and fade into the night!

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Tired

No not to-night, dear child; I cannot go;
I'm busy, tired; they knew I should not come;
you do not need me there. Dear, be content,
and take your pleasure; you shall tell me of it.
There, go to don your miracles of gauze,
and come and show yourself a great pink cloud.

So, she has gone with half a discontent;
but it will die before her curls are shaped,
and she'll go forth intent on being pleased,
and take her ponderous pastime like the rest--
patient delightedly, prepared to talk
in the right voice for the right length of time
on any thing that anybody names,
prepared to listen with the proper calm
to any song that anybody sings;
wedged in their chairs, all soberness and smiles,
one steady sunshine like an August day:
a band of very placid revellers,
glad to be there but gladder still to go.
She like the rest: it seems so strange to me,
my simple peasant girl, my nature's grace,
one with the others; my wood violet
stuck in a formal rose box at a show.

Well, since it makes her happier. True I thought
the artless girl, come from her cottage home
knowing no world beyond her village streets,
come stranger into our elaborate life
with such a blithe and wondering ignorance
as a young child's who sees new things all day,
would learn it my way and would turn to me
out of the solemn follies "What are these?
why must we live by drill and laugh by drill;
may we not be ourselves then, you and I?"
I thought she would have nestled here by me
"I cannot feign, and let me stay with you."
I thought she would have shed about my life
the unalloyed sweet freshness of the fields
pure from your cloying fashionable musks:
but she "will do what other ladies do"--
my sunburnt Madge I saw, with skirts pinned up,
carrying her father's dinner where he sat
to take his noon-day rest beneath the hedge,
and followed slowly for her clear loud song.

And she did then, she says, as others did
who were her like. 'Tis logical enough:
as every woman lives, (tush! as we all,
following such granted patterns for our souls
as for our hats and coats), she lived by rules
how to be as her neighbours, though I, trained
to my own different code, discerned it not
(mistaking other laws for lawlessness,
like raw and hasty travellers): and now
why should she, in a new world, all unapt
to judge its judgments, take so much on her
she did not in her old world, pick and choose
her pleasures and her tastes, her aims, her faiths,
breaking her smooth path with the thorny points
of upstart questions? She is just a bird
born in a wicker cage and brought away
into a gilded one: she does not pine
to make her nest in uncontrolled far woods,
but, unconceiving freedom, chirrups on,
content to see her prison bars so bright.

Yes, best for her; and, if not best for me,
I've my fault in it too: she's logical,
but what am I, who, having chosen her
for being all unlike the tutored type,
next try and mould her to it--chose indeed
my violet for being not a rose,
then bade it hold itself as roses do,
that passers by may note no difference?
The peasant ways must go, the homely burr,
the quaint strong English--ancient classic turns
mixed up with rustic blunders and misuse,
old grammar shot with daring grammarlessness;
the village belle's quick pertness, toss of head,
and shriek of saucy laughter--graces there,
and which a certain reckless gracefulness,
half hoydenish, half fawnlike, made in her
graces in even my eyes ... there; the ease
of quick companionship; the unsoftened "no's;"
the ready quarrels, ready makings up;
all these must go, I would not have her mocked
among the other women who have learned
sweet level speech and quiet courtesies--
and then they jarred upon me like the noise
of music out of rule, which, heard at first,
took the fresh ear with novel melody,
but makes you restless, listened to too long,
with missing looked for rhythms. So I teach,
or let her learn, the way to speak, to look,
to walk, to sit, to dance, to sing, to laugh,
and then ...... the prized dissimilarity
was outer husk and not essential core:
my wife is just the wife my any friend
selects among my any friend's good girls,
(a duplicate except that here and there
the rendering's faulty or touched in too strong);
my little rugged bit of gold I mined,
cleared from its quartz and dross and pieced for use
with recognized alloy, is minted down
one of a million stamped and current coins.

My poor dear Madge, it half seems treasonous
to let regret touch any thought of you,
loyal and loving to me as you are;
and you are very very dear to me,
I could not spare you, would not change your love
to have the rich ideal of my hope
in any other woman; as you are
I love you, being you. And for the rest,
if I, my theory's too eager fool,
mistook the freedom of blunt ignorance
for one with freedom of the instructed will,
and took yours for a nature made to keep
its hardiness in culture, gaining strength
to be itself more fully; if I looked
for some rare perfectness of natural gifts,
developing not changed, pruned and not dwarfed;
if I believed you would be that to me
so many men have sung by women's names
and known no woman for, where is your fault,
who did but give yourself as you were then,
and with so true a giving? Violet,
whose is the blame if, rooted from your place,
where you grew truly to your natural law,
set by my hand in artificial soil,
bound to unwonted props, whose blame if you
are not quite violet and not quite rose?

She's happy though, I think: she does not bear
the pain of my mistake, and shall not bear;
and she'll not ever guess of a mistake.

Mistake--'tis a hard word. Well let it pass:
it shall not wrong her: for was it in her
or in myself I was mistaken most?
What, I, who have been bold to hurl revolt
at great Queen Bugaboo Society,
did I not teach her suit and service first,
wincing when she infringed some useless law?
do I not wince to-day beside the fire
at every word or gesture she shall use
not scheduled in the warrant what to do?
do I not bid her have the table thus,
assort such viands, use such furniture,
wear such a stuff at morning, such at night,
all to the warrant of Queen Bugaboo,
and feel a something missing when she fails,
a discord setting all my teeth on edge?
Why, what a score of small observances;
mere fashionable tricks, are to my life
the butter on the bread, without which salve
the bit's too coarse to swallow; what a score
of other small observances and tricks,
worn out of fashion or not yet come in,
reek worse than garlic to my pampered taste,
making the wholesomest food too difficult!
And that which in an ancient yesterday
was but some great man's humour is to me
duty by rote to-day. I had not felt
my own life that punctilious copy-book,
writ to stock patterns set to all a school,
I have called usual lives, but my poor Madge
has unawares informed me of myself.

We can no other; 'tis as natural
to men to take this artificial kind
as to the flowers, which, grown in neighbour ranks,
taste the same winds and feed on the same soil,
to take inoculation by the bees
of one another's dyes and be alike
in new unlikeness to their primal types.

Our gift is imitation and to share
the subtle current of all sympathies;
we breathe each other's thoughts, as in a crowd
we breathe each other's breaths, unconsciously;
and if there could be a mere human man
to singly be creator, make the thing
which none has hoped for near him, say the things
which none has thought beside him, were there one
to be the god we claim in our rash word
original, needs were he such a one
as we call savage, one apart in woods
and friendless deserts, planning by himself
some first instinctive art, or questioning
blank ignorance and wonder into thoughts.
And as for us, the men who live in days
when what the West has whispered finds the East
across an ocean in a breath of time;
when the old era's painful manuscripts,
too choice and rare for less than sage's needs,
reach the new era changed to daily showers
of schoolboys' text-books raining from the press;
when we shake hands with our antipodes
for being neighbour to us; when, like streets
of the city where we are burghers, half the world
is our admitted home, the other half
our summer pleasure-grounds outside our walls;
we, who are scholars of all times and lands,
must be content, each several man, to feel
we are no sovereign units each to rule
the small world of himself, but knitted links,
one drawing on the other in a chain--
A bondage say, but have we not its worth,
help, movement, and the chain grows lengthening on
to span the universe? A braggart whim,
were it a possible, if any link,
breaking away from hundreds side by side,
would be a separate spangle.

Yet, alack,
sometimes we links get drawn we know not where,
but think there's mud about us. Still the chain
lies in God's hands, though the sly devil comes
and gives a crooked tug or so at times.

Links in a chain--my metaphor goes well,
convinces me where first I was convinced--
links in a chain, drawing each other on:
but never yet material metaphor
would fit a mind's whole thought, and the hitch comes
where I bid mine good-bye. Links in a chain,
but what of hearts and wills that are in us,
hopes, aims, beliefs? must we go measuring them
Ay "the world says," "so other people think,"
dock our near tastes and natures to the shapes
in common wear, make lay figures of our lives,
as women of their bodies, to be decked
and draped or trimmed and swathed or let go bare
by strict indefinite despots out of sight?
Why, let us have that freedom we accord
inanimate things, to grow each to his kind
and to his best, cattle and servile beasts,
to grow each to his kind and to his best;
but we--oh, monstrous folly--we, designed
each man so much unlike to all men else
as one whole kind of beasts to other kinds,
must train and pattern our reluctant souls
into one liveried sameness!

Oh, I am tired!
tired, tired, of this bland smiling slavery,
monotonous waste of life. And, while we fools
are making curtsies and brave compliments
to our rare century, and, courtierly,
swaddling our strength in trammels of soft silk,
the rotten depths grow rottener. Every day
more crime, more pain, more horror. We are good
no doubt, we "better classes"--oh, we boast
our modern virtues in the dead men's teeth
that were our fathers--we are earnest now,
and charitable, and we wash ourselves,
and have a very fair morality;
most well brought up, in fine, of any men
that any age has nurtured, and besides
so equal in our manners and our coats:
and then the classes which, though bettering,
are not quite better yet, are the most shrewd,
most apt, most honest, most intelligent,
that ever the world saw yet. True all of it
for aught I know, some of it as I think,
but underneath--great God, how many souls
are born an hour as provender for hell!

Oh horrible days! our goodness growing ripe,
a spreading scent of sweets, but with no power
to disinfect the spreading foulnesses;
and by mere birth-rate vice made multiplex!
From the murk lanes, and from the fetid courts,
and from the shameful dens where poverty
hobnobs with wolfish crime, out of the reek
of lust and filth, out of the festering homes
of pestilence and famine, the hoarse cry
grows multitudinous, the cavernous cry
of shame and ignorance hunger and greed
become despair and devilishness ..... And we
gravely thank God for culture and new lights!

Most horrible days: and we who know the worst,
(or dream it, sitting in our easy chairs,
sorry that all men have not easy chairs,)
and would do somewhat, do it all amiss.
We pelt our broad-cast gold into the mire,
then comes a scramble, foul grows fouler yet;
with a Samaritan hand we feed and feed
the daughters of the horseleech, drunkenness
and dissolute idleness, that cry "give, give,"
sucking the lifeblood from our people's heart;
we pension beggars, buy the burglar tools
and the sot gin, and pay the harlot's rent:
societies, committees, vestry rooms,
with fingers in our purses, lavish wealth,
past common counting, to keep up the tale
of pauper legions and bribe new recruits,
sow coin that, like the pestilent dragon's teeth,
bear us a poisonous crop of human harm:
all all endeavours go, like witches' prayers,
backwards against the meaning, and bring down
the counter-curse of blessings that were asked.

What should we do? I know not; but I think
there's moral in a hackneyed classic tale:
when the great gulf still yawned, after the gold
and treasures had been thrown, there came a man
and gave himself, and then the great gulf closed.

But how? how? And I know not; but I think
if the strong pith and freshness of our lives
were not so sucked and dried away, our span
not maimed and dwarfed, our sight not warped untrue,
by eating custom, petty disciplines,
footlight perspectives cramped to suit our stage,
if we were men, not types and portraitures
and imitative shadows, some of us
might learn--

Learn, learn, and if we learned,
saw by what boldness, or what sacrifice,
or what endurance, or what vehemence,
the goal of our beginning might be reached,
the padded skeleton we call the world,
that mumming glib Duessa who usurps
the true world's rule and rights, would trip us up
with half a league of silken barriers
too soft for us to break and breaking us.
Oh, but I know it, I, who time by time,
fierce with the turbulent goodness of my youth,
rushed to the clamourous call of new crusades,
and time by time dropped baffled and worn weak
before a rampart as of dancing pumps,
a wind as if it blew from ladies' fans,
till now I sit a weary man growing old
among the ruins of his purposes,
hopeless of any good to be by him.

Oh, with how full a hope, when morning glowed,
I donned my armour, who at night ride back
foolish and broken! I have set myself
to fight with shadows stronger than a man,
being impalpable and everywhere,
and striking done no hurt but to myself;
and I have ridden at ranks in adamant
and fallen, strained and useless, under foot;
and I have sieged impenetrable walls
and waited day by day till I grew faint;
and never have I triumphed in my cause,
whether it were a great one, or a dream,
a pettish whim, or too divinely large:
for if I strove against contagious ills
cankering the core of us or but at spots
that fleck the smooth gloss of our drawingrooms,
and if I rose to claim some wide desire
of general good or but my own escape
from some small prickings of our social gyves,
always I was against the multitude,
against strong Custom's army plodding on,
unconquerable, calm, like a great stream
whose power is that its waters drift one way.

Tired, tired--grown sick of battle and defeat,
lying in harbour, like a man worn out
by storms, and yet not patient of my rest:
how if I went to some kind southern clime
where, as they say, lost in long summer dreams,
the mind grows careless with sun-drunkenness
and sleeps and wakens softly like a child?
Would Madge be over sorry to come out
into free loneliness with me a while?
clear tints and sunshine, glowing seas and skies,
beauty of mountains and of girdled plains,
the strangeness of new peoples, change and rest,
would these atone to her for so much lost
which she counts precious? For she loves that round
of treadmill ceremonies, mimic tasks,
we make our women's lives--Good heavens what work
to set the creatures to, whom we declare
God purposed for companions to us men...
companions to each other only now,
their business but to waste each other's time.
So much to do among us, and we spend
so many human souls on only this!
in petty actress parts in the long game
(grave foolery like children playing school,
setting themselves hard tasks and punishments,)
that lasts till death and is Society:
the sunlight working hours all chopped and chipped
in stray ten minutes by some score of friends
who, grieved their friend's not out, come rustling in
by ones and twos to say the weather's fine;
or paid away, poor soul, on pilgrimage
reciprocally due to tell them so:
each woman owing tax of half her life
as plaything for the others' careless hours,
each woman setting down her foot to hold
her sister tightly to the tethered round,
will she or nill she: all with rights on each
greater than hers ... and I might say than God's,
since He made work the natural food of minds,
cheated of which they dwindle and go dead
like palsied limbs, and gives to each that sense
of beasts, who know their food, to know its work,
choosing the great or little.

But myself,
have I befooled the instinct by warped use?
for is not the fruit rotten I have found
by all my labours; nothing to the world
and to me bitterness? And I forget
the strong joy of endeavour, and the fire
of hope is burned out in me; all grows dull,
rest is not rest and I am sick of toil:
I count the cost, and--

Ready, love, at last?
Why, what a rosy June! A flush of bloom
sparkling with crystal dews--Ah silly one,
you love these muslin roses better far
than those that wear the natural dew of heaven.
I thought you prettier when, the other day,
the children crowned you with the meadow-sweets:
I like to hear you teach them wild flowers' names
and make them love them; but yourself--

What's that?
"The wild flowers in a room's hot stifling glare
would die in half a minute." True enough:
your muslin roses are the wiser wear.
Well, I must see you start. Draw your hood close:
and are you shawled against this east wind's chills?

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An Athenian Reverie

How the returning days, one after one,
Came ever in their rhythmic round, unchanged,
Yet from each looped robe for every man
Some new thing falls. Happy is he
Who fronts them without fear, and like the gods
Looks out unanxiously on each day's gift
With calmly curious eye. How many things
Even in a little space, both good and ill,
Have fallen on me, and yet in all of them
The keen experience or the smooth remembrance
Hath found some sweet. It scarcely seems a month
Since we saw Crete; so swiftly sped the days,
Borne onward with how many changing scenes,
Filled with how many crowding memories.
Not soon shall I forget them, the stout ship,
All the tense labour with the windy sea,
The cloud-wrapped heights of Crete, beheld far off,
And white Cytaeon with its stormy pier,
The fruitful valleys, the wild mountain road,
And those long days of ever-vigilant toil,
Scarcely with sleepless craft and unmoved front
Escaping robbers, that quiet restful eve
At rich Gortyna, where we lay and watched
The dripping foliage, and the darkening fields,
And over all huge-browed above the night
Ida's great summit with its fiery crown;
And then once more the stormy treacherous sea,
The noisy ship, the seamen's vehement cries,
That battled with the whistling wind, the feet
Reeling upon the swaying deck, and eyes
Strained anxiously toward land; ah, with what joy
At last the busy pier at Nauplia,
Rest and firm shelter for our racking brains:
Most sweet of all, most dear to memory
That journey with Euktemon through the hills
By fair Cleonae and the lofty pass;
Then Corinth with its riotous jollity,
Remembered like a reeling dream; and here
Good Theron's wedding, and this festal day;
And I, chief helper in its various rites,
Not least, commissioned through these wakeful hours
To dream before the quiet thalamos,
Unsleeping, like some full-grown bearded Eros,
The guardian of love's sweetest mysteries.
To-morrow I shall hear again the din
Of the loosed cables, and the rowers' chaunt,
The rattled cordage and the plunging oars.
Once more the bending sail shall bear us on
Across the level of the laughing sea.
Ere mid-day we shall see far off behind us,
Faint as the summit of a sultry cloud,
The white Acropolis. Past Sunium
With rushing keel, the long Euboean strand,
Hymettus and the pine-dark hills shall fade
Into the dusk: at Andros we shall water,
And ere another starlight hush the shores
From seaward valleys catch upon the wind
The fragrance of old Chian vintages.
At Chios many things shall fall but none
Can trace the future; rather let me dream
Of what is now, and what hath been, for both
Are fraught with life.

Here the unbroken silence
Awakens thought and makes remembrance sweet.
How solidly the brilliant moonlight shines
Into the courts; beneath the colonnades
How dense the shadows. I can scarcely see
Yon painted Dian on the darkened wall;
Yet how the gloom hath made her real. What sound,
Piercing the leafy covert of her couch,
Hath startled her. Perchance some prowling wolf,
Or luckless footsteps of the stealthy Pan,
Creeping at night among noiseless steeps
And hollows of the Erymanthian woods,
Roused her from sleep. With listening head,
Snatched bow, and quiver lightly slung, she stands,
And peers across that dim and motionless glade,
Beckoning about her heels the wakeful dogs;
Yet Dian, thus alert, is but a dream,
Making more real this brooding quietness.
How strong and wonderful is night! Mankind
Has yielded all to one sweet helplessness:
Thought, labour, strife and all activities
Have ebbed like fever. The smooth tide of sleep,
Rolling across the fields of Attica,
Hath covered all the labouring villages.
Even great Athens with her busy hands
And busier tongues lies quiet beneath its waves.
Only a steady murmur seems to come
Up from her silentness, as if the land
Were breathing heavily in dreams. Abroad
No creature stirs, not even the reveller,
Staggering, unlanterned, from the cool Piraeus,
With drunken shout. The remnants of the feast,
The crumpled cushions and the broken wreathes,
Lie scattered in yon shadowy court, whose stones
Through the warm hours drink up the staining wine.
The bridal oxen in their well-filled stalls
Sleep, mindless of the happy weight they drew.
The torch is charred; the garlands at the door,
So gay at morning with their bright festoons,
Hang limp and withered; and the joyous flutes
Are empty of all sound. Only my brain
Holds now in its remote unsleeping depths
The echo of the tender hymenaeos
And memory of the modest lips that sang it.
Within the silent thalamos the queen,
The sea-sprung radiant Cytherean reigns,
And with her smiling lips and fathomless eyes
Regards the lovers, knowing that this hour
Is theirs once only. Earth and thought and time
Lie far beyond them, a great gulf of joy,
Absorbing fear, regret and every grief,
A warm eternity: or now perchance
Night and the very weight of happiness,
Unsought, have turned upon their tremulous eyes
The mindless stream of sleep; nor do they care
If dawn should never come.

How joyously
These hours have gone with all their pictured scenes,
A string of golden beads for memory
To finger over in her moods, or stay
The hunger of some wakeful hour like this,
The flowers, the myrtles, the gay bridal train,
The flutes and pensive voices, the white robes,
The shower of sweet-meats, and the jovial feast,
The bride cakes, and the teeming merriment,
Most beautiful of all, most sweet to name,
The good Lysippe with her down-cast eyes,
Touched with soft fear, half scared at all the noise,
Whose tears were ready as her laughter, fresh,
And modest as some pink anemone.
How young she looked, and how her smiling lips
Betrayed her happiness. Ah, who can tell,
How often, when no watchful eye was near,
Her eager fingers, trembling and ashamed,
Essayed the apple-pips, or strewed the floor
With broken poppy petals. Next to her,
Theron himself the gladest goodliest figure,
His honest face ruddy with health and joy,
And smiling like the AEgean, when the sun
Hangs high in heaven, and the freshening wind
Comes in from Melos, rippling all its floor:
And there was Manto too, the good old crone,
So dear to children with her store of tales,
Warmed with new life: how to her old grey face
And withered limbs the very dance of youth
Seemed to return, and in her aged eyes
The waning fire rekindled: little Maeon,
That mischievous satyr with his tipsy wreath,
Who kept us laughing at his pranks, and made
Old Phyrrho angry. Him too sleep hath bound
Upon his rough-hewn couch with subtle thong,
Crowding his brain with odd fantastic shapes.
Even in sleep his little limbs, I think,
Twitch restlessly, and still his tongue gibes on
With inarticulate murmur. Ah, quaint Maeon!
And Manto, poor old Manto, what dim dreams
Of darkly-moving chaos and slow shapes
Of things that creep encumbered with huge burdens
Gloom and infest her through these dragging hours,
Haunting the wavering soul, so near the grave?
But all things journey to the same quiet end
At last, life, joy and every form of motion.
Nothing stands still. Not least inevitable,
The sad recession of this passionate love,
Whose panting fires, so soon and with such grief,
Burn down to ash.

Ai! Ai! 'tis a strange madness
To give up thought, ambition, liberty,
And all the rooted custom of our days,
Even life itself for one all pampering dream,
That withers like those garlands at the door;
And yet I have seen many excellent men
Besotted thus, and some that bore till death,
In the crook'd vision and embittered tongue,
The effect of this strange poison, like a scar,
An ineradicable hurt; but Fate,
Who deals more wondrously in this disease
Even than in others, yet doth sometimes will
To make the same thing unto different men
Evil or good. Was not Demetrios happy,
Who wore his fetters with such grace, and spent
On Chione, the Naxian, that shrewd girl,
His fortune and his youth, yet, while she lived,
Enjoyed the rich reward? He seemed like one,
That trod on wind, and I remember well,
How when she died in that remorseless plague,
And I alone stood with him at the pyre,
He shook me with his helpless passionate grief.
And honest Agathon, the married man,
Whose boyish fondness for his pretty wife
We smiled at, and yet envied; at the close
Of each day's labour how he posted home,
And thence no bait, however plumed, could draw him.
We laughed, but envied him. How sweet she looked
That morning at the Dyonisia,
With her rare eyes and modest girlish grace,
Leading her two small children by the palm.
I too might marry, if the faithful gods
Would promise me such joy as Agathon's.
Perhaps some day-but no, I am not one
To clip my wings, and wind about my feet
A net, whose self-made meshes are as stern
As they are soft. To me is ever present
The outer world with its untravelled paths,
The wanderer's dream, the itch to see new things.
A single tie could never bind me fast,
For life, this joyous, busy, ever-changing life,
Is only dear to me with liberty,
With space of earth for feet to travel in
And space of mind for thought.

Not so for all;
To most men life is but a common thing,
The hours a sort of coin to barter with,
Whose worth is reckoned by the sum they buy
In gold, or power, or pleasure; each short day
That brings not these deemed fruitless as dry sand.
Their lives are but a blind activity,
And death to them is but the end of motion,
Grey children who have madly eat and drunk,
Won the high seats or filled their chests with gold.
And yet for all their years have never seen
The picture of their lives, or how life looks
To him who hath the deep uneager eye,
How sweet and large and beautiful it was,
How strange the part they played. Like him who sits
Beneath some mighty tree, with half-closed eyes,
At ease rejoicing in its murmurous shade,
Yet never once awakes from his dull dream
To mark with curious joy the kingly trunk,
The sweeping boughs and tower of leaves that gave it,
Even so the most of men; they take the gift,
And care not for the giver. Strange indeed
Are they, and pitiable beyond measure,
Who, thus unmindful of their wretchedness,
Crowd at life's bountiful gates, like fattening beggars;
Greedy and blind. For see how rich a thing
Life is to him who sees, to whom each hour
Brings some fresh wonder to be brooded on,
Adds some new group or studied history
To that wrought sculpture, that our watchful dreams
Cast up upon the broad expanse of time,
As in a never-finished frieze, not less
The little things that most men pass unmarked
Than those that shake mankind. Happy is he,
Who, as a watcher, stands apart from life,
From all life and his own, and thus from all,
Each thought, each deed, and each hour's brief event,
Draws the full beauty, sucks its meaning dry.
For him this life shall be a tranquil joy.
He shall be quiet and free. To him shall come
No gnawing hunger for the coarser touch,
No mad ambition with its fateful grasp;
Sorrow itself shall sway him like a dream.

How full life is; how many memories
Flash, and shine out, when thought is sharply stirred;
How the mind works, when once the wheels are loosed,
How nimbly, with what swift activity.
I think, 'tis strange that men should ever sleep,
There are so many things to think upon,
So many deeds, so many thoughts to weigh,
To pierce and plumb them to the silent depth.
Yet in that thought I do rebuke myself,
Too little given to probe the inner heart,
But rather wont, with the luxurious eye,
To catch from life its outer loveliness,
Such things as do but store the joyous memory
With food for solace rather than for thought,
Like light-lined figures on a painted jar.
I wonder where Euktemon is to-night,
Euktemon with his rough and fitful talk,
His moody gesture and defiant stride;
How strange, how bleak and unapproachable;
And yet I liked him from the first. How soon
We know our friends, through all disguise of mood,
Discerning by a subtle touch of spirit
The honest heart within. Euktemon's glance
Betrayed him with its gusty friendliness,
Flashing at moments from the clouded brow,
Like brave warm sunshine, and his laughter too,
So rare, so sudden, so contagious,
How at some merry scene, some well-told tale,
Or swift invention of the winged wit,
It broke like thunderous water, rolling out
In shaken peals on the delighted ear.
Yet no man would have dreamed, who saw us two
That first grey morning on the pier at Crete,
That friendship could have forged thus easily
A bond so subtle and so sure between us;
He, gloomy and austere; I, full of thought
As he, yet in adverse mood, at ease,
Lifting with lighter hands the lids of life,
Untortured by its riddles; he, whose smiles
Were rare and sudden as the autumn sun;
I, to whom smiles are ever near the lip
And yet I think he loved me too; my mood
Was not unpleasant to him, though I know
At times I teased him with flickering talk.
How self-immured he was; for all our converse
I gathered little, little, of his life,
A bitter trial to me, who love to learn
The changes of men's outer circumstance,
The strokes that fate has shaped them with, and so,
Fitting to these their present speech and favour,
Discern the thought within. From him I gleaned
Nothing. At least the word, however guarded,
That sought to try the fastenings of his life
With prying hands, how mute and dark he grew,
And like the cautious tortoise at a touch
Drew in beneath his shell.

But ah, how sweet
The memory of that long untroubled day,
To me so joyous, and so free from care,
Spent as I love on foot, our first together,
When fate and the reluctant sea at last
Had given us safely to dry land; the tramp
From grey Mycenae by the pass to Corinth,
The smooth white road, the soft caressing air,
Full of the scent of blossoms, the clear sky,
Strewn lightly with the little tardy clouds,
Old Helios' scattered flock, the low-branched oaks
And fountained resting-places, the cool nooks,
Where eyes less darkened with life's use than mine
Perchance had caught the Naiads in their dreams,
Or won white glimpses of their flying heels.
How light our feet were: with what rhythmic strides
We left the long blue gulf behind us, sown
Far out with snowy sails; and how our hearts
Rose with the growth of morning, till we reached
That moss-hung fountain on the hillside near
Cleonae, where the dark anemones
Cover the ground, and make it red like fire.
Could ever grief, I wonder, or fixed care,
Or even the lingering twilight of old age,
Divest for me such memories of their sweet?
Even Euktemon's obdurate mood broke down.
The odorous stillness, the serene bright air,
The leafy shadows, the warm blossoming earth,
Drew near with their voluptuous eloquence,
And melted him. Ah, what a talk we had!
How eagerly our nimble tongues ran on,
With linked wit, in joyous sympathy.
Such hours, I think, are better than long years
Of brooding loneliness, mind touching mind
To leaping life, and thought sustaining thought,
Till even the darkest chambers of grey time,
His ancient seats, and bolted mysteries,
Open their hoary doors, and at a look
Lay all their treasures bare. How, when our thought
Wheeling on ever bolder wings at last
Grew as it seemed too large for utterance,
We both fell silent, striving to recall
And grasp such things as in our daring mood
We had but glimpsed and leaped at; yet how long
We studied thus with absent eyes, I know not;
Our thought died slowly out; the busy road,
The voices of the passers-by, the change
Of garb and feature, and the various tongues
Absorbed us. Ah, how clearly I recall them!
For in these silent wakeful hours the mind
Is strangely swift. With that sharp lines
The shapes of things that even years have buried
Shine out upon the rapid memory,
Moving and warm like life. I can see now
The form of that tall peddler, whose strange wares,
Outlandish dialect and impudent gait
Awoke Euktemon's laughter. In mine ear
Is echoing still the cracking string of gibes,
They flung at one another. I remember too
The grey-haired merchant with his bold black eyes
And brace of slaves, the old ship captain tanned
With sweeping sea-winds and the pitiless sun,
But best of all that dainty amorous pair,
Whose youthful spirit neither heat nor toil
Could conquer. What a charming group they made?
The creaking litter and the long brown poles,
The sinewy bearers with their cat-like stride,
Dripping with sweat, that merry dark-eyed girl,
Whose sudden beauty shook us from our dreams,
And chained our eyes. How beautiful she was?
Half-hid among the gay Miletian cushions,
The lovely laughing face, the gracious form,
The fragrant lightly-knotted hair, and eyes
Full of the dancing fire of wanton Corinth.
That happy stripling, whose delighted feet
Swung at her side, whose tongue ran on so gaily,
Is it for him alone she wreathes those smiles,
And tunes so musically that flexile voice,
Soft as the Lydian flute? Surely his gait
Proclaimed the lover, and his well-filled girdle
Not less the lover's strength. How joyously
He strode, unmindful of his ruffled curls,
Whose perfumes still went wide upon the wind,
His dust-stained robe unheeded, and the stones
Whose ragged edges frayed his delicate shoes.
How radiant, how full of hope he was!
What pleasant memories, how many things
Rose up again before me, as I lay
Half stretched among the crushed anemones,
And watched them, till a far off jutting ledge
Precluded sight, still listening till mine ears
Caught the last vanishing murmur of their talk.

Only a little longer; then we rose
With limbs refreshed, and kept a swinging pace
Toward Corinth; but our talk, I know not why,
Fell for that day. I wonder what there was
About those dainty lovers or their speech,
That changed Euktemon's mood; for all the way
From high Cleonae to the city gates,
Till sunset found us loitering without aim,
Half lost among the dusky-moving crowds,
I could get nothing from him but dark looks,
Short answers and the old defiant stride.
Some memory pricked him. It may be, perchance,
A woman's treachery, some luckless passion,
In former days endured, hath seared his blood,
And dowered him with that cureless bitter humour.
To him solitude and the wanderer's life
Alone are sweet, the tumults of this world
A thing unworthy of the wise man's touch,
Its joys and sorrows to be met alike
With broad-browed scorn. One quality at least
We have in common; we are idlers both,
Shifters and wanderers through this sleepless world,
Albeit in different moods. 'Tis that, I think,
That knit us, and the universal need
For near companionship. Howe'er it be,
There is no hand that I would gladlier grasp,
Either on earth or in the nether gloom,
When the grey keel shall grind the Stygian strand,
Than stern Euktemon's.

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Rabindranath Tagore

Fireflies

My fancies are fireflies, —
Specks of living light
twinkling in the dark.

he voice of wayside pansies,
that do not attract the careless glance,
murmurs in these desultory lines.

In the drowsy dark caves of the mind
dreams build their nest with fragments
dropped from day's caravan.

Spring scatters the petals of flowers
that are not for the fruits of the future,
but for the moment's whim.

Joy freed from the bond of earth's slumber
rushes into numberless leaves,
and dances in the air for a day.

My words that are slight
my lightly dance upon time's waves
when my works havy with import have gone down.

Mind's underground moths
grow filmy wings
and take a farewell flight
in the sunset sky.

The butterfly counts not months but moments,
and has time enough.

My thoughts, like spark, ride on winged surprises,
carrying a single laughter.
The tree gazes in love at its own beautiful shadow
which yet it never can grasp.

Let my love, like sunlight, surround you
and yet give you illumined freedom.

Days are coloured vbubbles
that float upon the surface of fathomless night.

My offerings are too timid to claim your remembrance,
and therefore you may remember them.

Leave out my name from the gift
if it be a burden,
but keep my song.

April, like a child,
writes hieroglyphs on dust with flowers,
wipes them away and forgets.

Memory, the priestess,
kills the present
and offers its heart to the shrine of the dead past.

From the solemn gloom of the temple
children run out to sit in the dust,
God watches them play
and forgets the priest.

My mind starts up at some flash
on the flow of its thoughts
like a brook at a sudden liquid note of its own
that is never repeated.

In the mountain, stillness surges up
to explore its own height;
in the lake, movement stands still
to contemplate its own depth.

The departing night's one kiss
on the closed eyes of morning
glows in the star of dawn.

Maiden, thy beauty is like a fruit
which is yet to mature,
tense with an unyielding secret.

Sorrow that has lost its memory
is like the dumb dark hours
that have no bird songs
but only the cricket's chirp.

Bigotry tries to keep turth safe in its hand
with a grip that kills it.
Wishing to hearten a timid lamp
great night lights all her stars.

Though he holds in his arms the earth-bride,
the sky is ever immensely away.

God seeks comrades and claims love,
the Devil seeks slaves and claims obedience.

The soil in return for her service
keeps the tree tied to her,
the sky asks nothing and leaves it free.

Jewel-like immortal
does not boast of its length of years
but of the scintillating point of its moment.

The child ever dwells in the mystery of ageless time,
unobscured by the dust of history.

Alight laughter in the steps of creation
carries it swiftly across time.

One who was distant came near to me in the morning,
and still nearer when taken away by night.

White and pink oleanders meet
and make merry in different dialects.

When peace is active swepping its dirt, it is storm.

The lake lies low by the hill,
a tearful entreaty of love
at the foot of the inflexible.

There smiles the Divine Child
among his playthings of unmeaning clouds
and ephemeral lights and shadows.

The breeze whispers to the lotus,
'What is thy secret?'
'It is myself,' says the lotus,
'Steal it and I disappear!'

The freedom of the storm and the bondage of the stem
join hands in the dance of swaying branches.

The jasmine's lisping of love to the sun is her flowers.

The tyrant claims freedom to kill freedom
and yet to keep it for himself.

Gods, tired of their paradise, envy man.

Clouds are hills in vapour,
hills are clouds in stone, —
a phantasy in time's dream.

While God waits for His temple to be built of love,
men bring stones.

I touch God in my song
as the hill touches the far-away sea
with its waterfall.

Light finds her treasure of colours
through the antagonism of clouds.

My heart to-day smiles at its past night of tears
like a wet tree glistening in the sun
after the rain is over.

I have thanked the trees that have made my life fruitflul,
but have failed to remember the grass
that has ever kept it green.

The one without second is emptiness,
the other one makes it true.

Life's errors cry for the merciful beauty
that can modulate their isolation
into a harmony with the whole.

They expect thanks for the banished nest
because their cage is shapely and secure.

In love I pay my endless debt to thee
for what thou art.

The pond sends up its lyrics from its dark in lilies,
and the sun says, they are good.

Your calumny against the great is impious,
it hurts yourself;
against the small it is mean,
for it hurts the victim.

The first flower that blossomed on this earth
was an invitation to the unborn song.

Dawn—the many-coloured flower—fades,
and then the simple light-fruit,
the sun appears.

The muscle that has a doubt if its wisdom
throttles the voice that would cry.

The wind tries to take the flame by storm
only to blow it out.

Life's play is swift,
Life's playthings fall behind one by one
and are forgotten.

My flower, seek not thy paradise
in a fool's buttonhole.

Thou hast risen late, my crescent moon,
but my night bird is still awake to greet thee.

Darkness is the veiled bride
silently waiting for the errant light
to return to her bosom.

Trees are the earth's endless effort to
speak to the listening heaven.

The burden of self is lightened
when I laugh at myself.

The weak can be terrible
because they try furiously to appear strong.

The wind of heaven blows,
The anchor desperately clutches the mud,
and my boat is beating its breast against the chain.

The spirit of death is one,
the spirit of life is many,
Whe God is dead religion becomes one.

The blue of the sky longs for the earth's green,
the wind between them sighs, 'Alas.'
Day's pain muffled by its own glare,
burns among stars in the night.

The stars crowd round the virgin night
in silent awe at her loneliness
that can never be touched.

The cloud gives all its gold
to the departing sun
and greets the rising moon
with only a pale smile.

He who does good comes to the temple gate,
he who loves reaches the shrine.

Flower, have pity for the worm,
it is not a bee,
its love is a blunder and a burden.

With the ruins of terror's triumph
children build their doll's house.

The lamp waits through the long day of neglect
for the flame's kiss in the night.

Feathers in the dust lying lazily content
have forgotten their sky.

The flowers which is single
need not envy the thorns
that are numerous.

The world suffers most from the disinterested tyranny
of its well-wisher.

We gain freedom whrn we have paid the full price
for our right to live.

Your careless gifts of a moment,
like the meteors of an autumn night,
catch fire in the depth of my being.

The faith waiting in the heart of a seed
promises a miracle of life
which it cannot prove at once.

Spring hesitates at winter's door,
but the mango blossom rashly runs our to him
before her time and meets her doom.

The world is the ever-changing foam
thet floats on the surface of a sea of silence.

The two separated shores mingle their voices
in a song of unfathomed tears.

As a river in the sea,
work finds its fulfilment
in the depth of leisure.

I lingered on my way till thy cherry tree lost ist bossom,
but the azalea brins to me, my love, thy forgiveness.

Thy shy little pomegranate bud,
blushing to-day behind her veil,
will burst into a passionate flower
to-morrow when I am away.

The clumsiness of power spoils the key,
and uses the pickaxe.

Birth is from the mystery of night
into the grerater mystery of day.

These paper boats of mine are meant to dance
on the ripples of hours,
and not to reach any destination.

Migratory songs wing from my heart
and seek their nests in your voice of love.

The sea of danger, doubt and denial
around man's little island of certainty
challenges him to dare the unknown.

Love punishes when it forgives,
and injured beauty by its awful silence.

You live alone and unrecompensed
because they are afraid of your great worth.

The same sun is newly born in new lands
in a ring of endless dawns.

God is world is ever renewed by death,
a Titan's ever crushed by its own existence.

The glow-worm while exploring the dust
never knows that stars are in the sky.

The tree is of to-day, the flower is old,
it brings with it the message
of the immemorial seed.

Each rose that comes brings me greetings
from the Rose of an eternal spring.
God honours me when I work,
He loves me when I sing.

My love of to-day finds no home
in the nest deserted by yesterday's love.

The fire of pain tracse for my soul
a luminous path across her sorrow.

The grass survives the hill
through its resurrections from countless deaths.

Thou hast vanished from my reach
leaving an impalpable touch in the blue of the sky,
an invisible image in the wind moving
among the shadows.

In pity for the desolate branch
spring leaves to it a kiss that fluttered in a lonely leaf.

The shy shadow in the farden
loves the sun in silence,
Flowers guess the secret, and mile,
while the leaves whisper.

I leave no trace of wings in the air,
but I am glad I have had my flight.

The fireflies, twinkling among leaves,
make the stars wonder.

The mountain remains unmoved
at its seeming defeat by the mist.

While the rose said to the sun,
'I shall ever remember thee,'
her petals fell to the dust.

Hills are the earth's gesture of despair
for the unreachable.

Though the thorn in thy flower pricked me,
O Beauty,
I am grateful.

The world knows that the few
are more than the many.

Let not my love be a burden on you, my friend,
know that it pays itself.

Dawn plays her lute before the gate of darkness,
and is content to vanish when the sun comes out.

Beauty is truth's smile
when she beholds her own face
in a perfect mirror.

The dew-drop knows the sun
only within its own tiny orb.

Forlorn thoughts from the forsaken hives of all ages,
swarming in the air, hum round my heart
and seek my voice.

The desert is imprisoned in the wall
of its unbounded barrenness.

In the thrill of little leaves
I see the air's invisible dance,
and in their glimmering
the secret heart-beats of the sky.

You are like a flowering tree,
amazed when I praise you for your gifts.

The earth's sacrifical fire
flames up in her trees,
scattering sparks in flowers.

Foretsts, the clouds of earth,
hold up to the sky their silence,
and clouds from above come down
in resonant showers.

The world speaks to me in pictures,
my soul answers in music.

The sky tells its beads all night
on the countless stars
in memory of the sun.

The darkness of night, like pain, is dumb,
the darkness of dawn, like peace, is silent.

Pride engraves his frowns in stones,
loe offers her surrender in flowers.

The obsequious brush curtails truth
in diference to the canvas which is narrow.

The hill in its longing for the far-away sky
wishes to be like the cloud
with its endless urge of seeking.

To justify their own spilling of ink
they spell the day as night.

Profit smiles on goodness
when the good is profitable.

In its swelling pride
the bubble doubts the turth of the sea,
and laughs and bursts into emptiness.

Love is an endless mystery,
for it has nothing else to explain its.

My clouds, sorrowing in the dark,
forget that they themselves
have hidden the sun.

Man discovers his own wealth
when God comes to ask gifts of him.

You leave your memory as a flame
to my lonely lamp of separation.

I came to offer thee a flower,
but thou must have all my garden,—
It is thine.

The picture—a memory of light
treasured by the shadow.

It is easy to make faces at the sun,
He is exposed by his own light in all
directions.

History slowly smothers its truth,
but hastily struggles to revive it
in the terrible penance of pain.

My work is rewarded in daily wages,
I wait for my final value in love.

Beauty knows to say, 'Enough,'
barbarism clamours for still more.

God loves to see in me, not his servant,
but himself who serves all.

The darkness of night is in harmony with day,
the morning of mist is discordant.

In the bounteous time of roses love is wine,—
it is food in the famished hour
when their petals are shed.

An unknown flower in a strange land
speaks to the poet:
'Are we not of the same soil, my lover?'

I am able to love my God
because He gives me freedom to deny Him.

My untuned strings beg for music
in their anguished cry of shame.

The worm thinks it strange and foolish
that man does not eat his books.

The clouded sky to-day bears the visior
of the shadow of a divine sadness
on the forehead of brooding eternity.

The shade of my tree is for passers-by,
its fruit for the one for whom I wait.

Flushed with the glow of sunset
earth seems like a ripe fruit
ready to be harvested by night.

Light accepts darkness for his spouse
for the sake of creation.

The reed waits for his master's breath,
the Master goes seeking for his reed.

To the blind pen the hand that writes is unreal,
its writing unmeaning.

The sea smites his own barren breast
because he has no flowers to offer to the moon.

The greed for fruit misses the flower.

God in His temple of stars
waits for man to bring him his lamp.

The fire restrained in the tree fashions flowers.
Released from bonds, the shameless flame
dies in barren ashes.

The sky sets no snare to capture the moon,
it is her own freedom which binds her.
The light that fills the sky
seeks its limit in a dew-drop on the grass.

Wealth is the burden of bigness,
Welfare the fulness of being.

The razor-blade is proud of its keenness
when it sneers at the sun.

The butterfly has leisure to love the lotus,
not the bee busily storing honey.

Child, thou bringest to my heart
the babble of the wind and the water,
the flower's speechless secrets, the clouds' dreams,
the mute gaze of wonder of the morning sky.

The rainbow among the clouds may be great
but the little butterfly among the bushes is greater.

The mist weaves her net round the morning,
captivates him, and makes him blind.

The Morning Star whispers to Dawn,
'Tell me that you are only for me.'
'Yes,' she answers,
'And also only for that nameless flower.'

The sky remains infinitely vacant
for earth there to build its heaven with dreams.

Perhaps the crescent moon smiles in doubt
at being told that it is a fragment
awaiting perfection.

Let the evening forgive the mistakes of the day
and thus win peace for herself.

Beauty smiles in the confinement of the bud,
in the heart of a sweet incompleteness.

Your flitting love lightly brushed with its wings
my sun-flower
and never asked if it was ready to surrender its honey.

Leaves are silences
around flowers which are their words.

The tree bears its thousand years
as one large majestic moment.

My offerings are not for the temple at the end of the road,
but for the wayside shrines
that surprise me at every bend.

Hour smile, my love, like the smell of a strange flower,
is simple and inexplicable.

Death laughs when the merit of the dead is exaggerated
for it swells his store with more than he can claim.

The sigh of the shore follows in vain
the breeze that hastens the ship across the sea.

Truth loves its limits,
for there it meets the beautiful.

Between the shores of Me and Thee
there is the loud ocean, my own surging self,
which I long to cross.

The right to possess boasts foolishly
of its right to enjoy.

The rose is a great deal more
than a blushing apology for the thorn.

Day offers to the silence of stars
his golden lute to be tuned
for the endless life.

The wise know how to teach,
the fool how to smite.

The centre is still and silent in the heart
of an enternal dance of circles.

The judge thinks that he is just when he compares
The oil of another's lamp
with the light of his own.

The captive flower in the King's wreath
smiles bitterly when the meadow-flower envies her.

Its store of snow is the hill's own burden,
its outpouring if streams is borne by all the world.

Listen to the prayer of the forest
for its freedom in flowers.

Let your love see me
even through the barrier of nearness.

The spirit of work in creation is there
to carry and help the spirit of play.

To carry the burden of the insturment,
count the cost of its material,
and never to know that it is for music,
is the tragedy of deaf life.

Faith is the bird that feels the light
and sings when the dawn is still dark.

I bring to thee, night, my day's empty cup,
to be cleansed with thy cool darkness
for a new morning's festival.

The mountain fir, in its rustling,
modulates the memory of its fights with the storm
into a hymn of peace.

God honoured me with his fight
when I was rebellious,
He ignored me when I was languid.

The sectarina thinks
that he has the sea
ladled into his private pond.

In the shady depth of life
are the lonely nests of memories
that shrink from words.

Let my love find its strength
in the service of day,
its peace in the union of night.

Life sends up in blades of grass
its silent hymn of praise
to the unnamed Light.

The stars of night are to me
the memorials of my day's faded flowers.

Open thy door to that which must go,
for the loss becomes unseemly when obstructed.

True end is not in the reaching of the limit,
but in a completion which is limitless.

The shore whispers to the sea:
'Write to me what thy waves struggle to say.'
The sea writes in foam again and again
and wipes off the lines in a boisterous despair.

Let the touch ofthy finger thrill my life's strings
and make the music thine and mine.

The inner world rounded in my life like a fruit,
matured in joy and sorrow,
will drop into the darkness of the orogonal soil
for some further course of creation.

Form is in Matter, rhythm in Force,
meaning in the Person.

There are seekers of wisdom and seekers of wealth,
I seek thy company so that I may sing.

As the tree its leaves, I shed my words on the earth,
let my thoughts unuttered flower in thy silence.

My faith in truth, my vision of the perfect,
help thee, Master, in thy creation.

All the delights that I have felt
in life's fruits and flowers
let me offer to thee at the end of the feast,
in a perfect union of love.

Some have thought deeply and explored the
meaning of thy truth,
and they are great;
I have listened to catch the music of thy play,
and I am glad.

The tree is a winged spirit
released from the bondage of seed,
pursuing its adventure of life
across the unknown.

The lotus offers its beauty to the heaven,
the grass its service to the earth.

The sun's kiss mellows into abandonment
the miserliness of the green fruit clinging to its stem.

The flame met the earthen lamp in me,
and what a great marvel of light!

Mistakes live in the neighbourhood of truth
and therefore delude us.

The cloud laughed at the rainbow
saying that is was an upstart
gaudy in its emptiness.
The rainbow calmly answered,
'I am as inevitably real as tha sun himself.'

Let me not grope in vain in the dark
but keep my mind still in the faith
that the day will break
and truth will appear
in its simplicity.

Through the silent night
I hear the returning vagrant hopes of the morning
knock at my heart.

My new love comes
bringing to me the eternal wealth of the old.

The earth gazes at the moon and wonders
that she sould have all her music in her smile.

Day with its glare of curiosity
puts the stars to flight.

My mind has itstrue union with thee, O sky,
at the window which is mine own,
and not in the open
where thou hast thy sole kingdom.

Man claims God's flowers as his own
when he weaves them in a garland.

The buried city, laid bare to the sun of a new age,
is ashamed that is has lost all its song.

Like my heart's pain that has long missed its meaning,
the sun's rays robed in dark
hide themselves under the ground.
Like my heart'spain at love's sudden touch,
they change their veil at the spring's call
and come out in the carnival of colours,
in flowers and leaves.

My life's empty flute
waits for its final music
like the primal darkness
before the stars came out.

Emancipation from the bondage of the soil
is no freedom for the tree.

The tapestry of life's story is woven
with the threads of life's ties
ever joining and breaking.

Those thoughts of mine that are never captured by words
perch upon my song and dance.

My soul to-night loses itself
in the silent heart of a tree
standing alone among the whispers of immensity.

Pearl shells cast up by the sea
on death's barren beach,—
a magnificent wastefulness of creative life.

The sunlight opens for me the word's gate,
love's light its terasure.

My life like the reed with ist stops,
has its play od colours
through the gaps in its hopes and gains.

Let not my thanks to thee
rob my silence of its fuller homage.

Life's aspirations come
in the guise of children.

The faded flower sighs
that the spring has vanished for ever.

In my life's garden
my wealth has been of the shadows and lights
that are never gathered and stored.

The fruit that I Have gained for ever
is thet which thou hast accepted.

The jasmine knows the sun to be her brother
in the heaven.

Light is young, the ancient light;
shadows are of the moment, they are born old.

I feel that the ferry of my songs at the day's end
will brong me across to the other shore
from where I shall see.

The butterfly flitting from flower to flower
ever remains mine,
I lose the one that is netted by me.

Your voice, free bird, reaches my sleeping nest,
and my drowsy wings dream
of a voyage to the light
above the clouds.

I miss the meaning of my own part
in the play of life
because I know not of the parts
that others play.

The flower sheds all its petals
and finds the fruit.

I leave my songs behind me
to the bloom of the ever-returning honeysuckles
and the joy of the wind from the south.

Dead leaves when they lose themselves in soil
take part in the life of the forest.

The mind ever seeks its words
from its sounds and silence
as the sky from its darkness and light.

The unseen dark plays on his flute
and the rhythm of light
eddies into stars and suns,
into thoughts and reams.

My songs are to sing
that I have loved Thy singing.

When the voice of the Silent touches my words
I know him and therefore I know myself.

My last salutations are to them
who knew me imperfect and loved me.

Love's gift cannot be given,
it waits to be accepted.

When death comes and whispers to me,
'Thy days are ended,'
let me say to him, 'I have lived in love
and not in mere time.'
He will ask, 'Will thy songs remain?'
I shall say, 'I know not, but this I know
that often when I sang I found my eternity.'

'Let me light my lamp,'
say the star,
'and never debate
if it will help to remove the darkness.'

Before the end of my journey
may I reach within myself
the one which is the all,
leaving the outer shell
to float away with the drifting multitude
upon the current of chance and change.

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The Book of Annandale

I

Partly to think, more to be left alone,
George Annandale said something to his friends—
A word or two, brusque, but yet smoothed enough
To suit their funeral gaze—and went upstairs;
And there, in the one room that he could call
His own, he found a sort of meaningless
Annoyance in the mute familiar things
That filled it; for the grate’s monotonous gleam
Was not the gleam that he had known before,
The books were not the books that used to be,
The place was not the place. There was a lack
Of something; and the certitude of death
Itself, as with a furtive questioning,
Hovered, and he could not yet understand.
He knew that she was gone—there was no need
Of any argued proof to tell him that,
For they had buried her that afternoon,
Under the leaves and snow; and still there was
A doubt, a pitiless doubt, a plunging doubt,
That struck him, and upstartled when it struck,
The vision, the old thought in him. There was
A lack, and one that wrenched him; but it was
Not that—not that. There was a present sense
Of something indeterminably near—
The soul-clutch of a prescient emptiness
That would not be foreboding. And if not,
What then?—or was it anything at all?
Yes, it was something—it was everything—
But what was everything? or anything?
Tired of time, bewildered, he sat down;
But in his chair he kept on wondering
That he should feel so desolately strange
And yet—for all he knew that he had lost
More of the world than most men ever win—
So curiously calm. And he was left
Unanswered and unsatisfied: there came
No clearer meaning to him than had come
Before; the old abstraction was the best
That he could find, the farthest he could go;
To that was no beginning and no end—
No end that he could reach. So he must learn
To live the surest and the largest life
Attainable in him, would he divine
The meaning of the dream and of the words
That he had written, without knowing why,
On sheets that he had bound up like a book
And covered with red leather. There it was—
There in his desk, the record he had made,
The spiritual plaything of his life:
There were the words no eyes had ever seen
Save his; there were the words that were not made
For glory or for gold. The pretty wife
Whom he had loved and lost had not so much
As heard of them. They were not made for her.
His love had been so much the life of her,
And hers had been so much the life of him,
That any wayward phrasing on his part
Would have had no moment. Neither had lived enough
To know the book, albeit one of them
Had grown enough to write it. There it was,
However, though he knew not why it was:
There was the book, but it was not for her,
For she was dead. And yet, there was the book.

Thus would his fancy circle out and out,
And out and in again, till he would make
As if with a large freedom to crush down
Those under-thoughts. He covered with his hands
His tired eyes, and waited: he could hear—
Or partly feel and hear, mechanically—
The sound of talk, with now and then the steps
And skirts of some one scudding on the stairs,
Forgetful of the nerveless funeral feet
That she had brought with her; and more than once
There came to him a call as of a voice—
A voice of love returning—but not hers.
Whose he knew not, nor dreamed; nor did he know,
Nor did he dream, in his blurred loneliness
Of thought, what all the rest might think of him.

For it had come at last, and she was gone
With all the vanished women of old time,—
And she was never coming back again.
Yes, they had buried her that afternoon,
Under the frozen leaves and the cold earth,
Under the leaves and snow. The flickering week,
The sharp and certain day, and the long drowse
Were over, and the man was left alone.
He knew the loss—therefore it puzzled him
That he should sit so long there as he did,
And bring the whole thing back—the love, the trust,
The pallor, the poor face, and the faint way
She last had looked at him—and yet not weep,
Or even choose to look about the room
To see how sad it was; and once or twice
He winked and pinched his eyes against the flame
And hoped there might be tears. But hope was all,
And all to him was nothing: he was lost.
And yet he was not lost: he was astray—
Out of his life and in another life;
And in the stillness of this other life
He wondered and he drowsed. He wondered when
It was, and wondered if it ever was
On earth that he had known the other face—
The searching face, the eloquent, strange face—
That with a sightless beauty looked at him
And with a speechless promise uttered words
That were not the world’s words, or any kind
That he had known before. What was it, then?
What was it held him—fascinated him?
Why should he not be human? He could sigh,
And he could even groan,—but what of that?
There was no grief left in him. Was he glad?

Yet how could he be glad, or reconciled,
Or anything but wretched and undone?
How could he be so frigid and inert—
So like a man with water in his veins
Where blood had been a little while before?
How could he sit shut in there like a snail?
What ailed him? What was on him? Was he glad?
Over and over again the question came,
Unanswered and unchanged,—and there he was.
But what in heaven’s name did it all mean?
If he had lived as other men had lived,
If home had ever shown itself to be
The counterfeit that others had called home,
Then to this undivined resource of his
There were some key; but now … Philosophy?
Yes, he could reason in a kind of way
That he was glad for Miriam’s release—
Much as he might be glad to see his friends
Laid out around him with their grave-clothes on,
And this life done for them; but something else
There was that foundered reason, overwhelmed it,
And with a chilled, intuitive rebuff
Beat back the self-cajoling sophistries
That his half-tutored thought would half-project.

What was it, then? Had he become transformed
And hardened through long watches and long grief
Into a loveless, feelingless dead thing
That brooded like a man, breathed like a man,—
Did everything but ache? And was a day
To come some time when feeling should return
Forever to drive off that other face—
The lineless, indistinguishable face—
That once had thrilled itself between his own
And hers there on the pillow,—and again
Between him and the coffin-lid had flashed
Like fate before it closed,—and at the last
Had come, as it should seem, to stay with him,
Bidden or not? He were a stranger then,
Foredrowsed awhile by some deceiving draught
Of poppied anguish, to the covert grief
And the stark loneliness that waited him,
And for the time were cursedly endowed
With a dull trust that shammed indifference
To knowing there would be no touch again
Of her small hand on his, no silencing
Of her quick lips on his, no feminine
Completeness and love-fragrance in the house,
No sound of some one singing any more,
No smoothing of slow fingers on his hair,
No shimmer of pink slippers on brown tiles.

But there was nothing, nothing, in all that:
He had not fooled himself so much as that;
He might be dreaming or he might be sick,
But not like that. There was no place for fear,
No reason for remorse. There was the book
That he had made, though.… It might be the book;
Perhaps he might find something in the book;
But no, there could be nothing there at all—
He knew it word for word; but what it meant—
He was not sure that he had written it
For what it meant; and he was not quite sure
That he had written it;—more likely it
Was all a paper ghost.… But the dead wife
Was real: he knew all that, for he had been
To see them bury her; and he had seen
The flowers and the snow and the stripped limbs
Of trees; and he had heard the preacher pray;
And he was back again, and he was glad.
Was he a brute? No, he was not a brute:
He was a man—like any other man:
He had loved and married his wife Miriam,
They had lived a little while in paradise
And she was gone; and that was all of it.

But no, not all of it—not all of it:
There was the book again; something in that
Pursued him, overpowered him, put out
The futile strength of all his whys and wheres,
And left him unintelligibly numb—
Too numb to care for anything but rest.
It must have been a curious kind of book
That he had made it: it was a drowsy book
At any rate. The very thought of it
Was like the taste of some impossible drink—
A taste that had no taste, but for all that
Had mixed with it a strange thought-cordial,
So potent that it somehow killed in him
The ultimate need of doubting any more—
Of asking any more. Did he but live
The life that he must live, there were no more
To seek.—The rest of it was on the way.

Still there was nothing, nothing, in all this—
Nothing that he cared now to reconcile
With reason or with sorrow. All he knew
For certain was that he was tired out:
His flesh was heavy and his blood beat small;
Something supreme had been wrenched out of him
As if to make vague room for something else.
He had been through too much. Yes, he would stay
There where he was and rest.—And there he stayed;
The daylight became twilight, and he stayed;
The flame and the face faded, and he slept.
And they had buried her that afternoon,
Under the tight-screwed lid of a long box,
Under the earth, under the leaves and snow.


II

Look where she would, feed conscience how she might,
There was but one way now for Damaris—
One straight way that was hers, hers to defend,
At hand, imperious. But the nearness of it,
The flesh-bewildering simplicity,
And the plain strangeness of it, thrilled again
That wretched little quivering single string
Which yielded not, but held her to the place
Where now for five triumphant years had slept
The flameless dust of Argan.—He was gone,
The good man she had married long ago;
And she had lived, and living she had learned,
And surely there was nothing to regret:
Much happiness had been for each of them,
And they had been like lovers to the last:
And after that, and long, long after that,
Her tears had washed out more of widowed grief
Than smiles had ever told of other joy.—
But could she, looking back, find anything
That should return to her in the new time,
And with relentless magic uncreate
This temple of new love where she had thrown
Dead sorrow on the altar of new life?
Only one thing, only one thread was left;
When she broke that, when reason snapped it off,
And once for all, baffled, the grave let go
The trivial hideous hold it had on her,—
Then she were free, free to be what she would,
Free to be what she was.—And yet she stayed,
Leashed, as it were, and with a cobweb strand,
Close to a tombstone—maybe to starve there.

But why to starve? And why stay there at all?
Why not make one good leap and then be done
Forever and at once with Argan’s ghost
And all such outworn churchyard servitude?
For it was Argan’s ghost that held the string,
And her sick fancy that held Argan’s ghost—
Held it and pitied it. She laughed, almost,
There for the moment; but her strained eyes filled
With tears, and she was angry for those tears—
Angry at first, then proud, then sorry for them.
So she grew calm; and after a vain chase
For thoughts more vain, she questioned of herself
What measure of primeval doubts and fears
Were still to be gone through that she might win
Persuasion of her strength and of herself
To be what she could see that she must be,
No matter where the ghost was.—And the more
She lived, the more she came to recognize
That something out of her thrilled ignorance
Was luminously, proudly being born,
And thereby proving, thought by forward thought,
The prowess of its image; and she learned
At length to look right on to the long days
Before her without fearing. She could watch
The coming course of them as if they were
No more than birds, that slowly, silently,
And irretrievably should wing themselves
Uncounted out of sight. And when he came
Again, she might be free—she would be free.
Else, when he looked at her she must look down,
Defeated, and malignly dispossessed
Of what was hers to prove and in the proving
Wisely to consecrate. And if the plague
Of that perverse defeat should come to be—
If at that sickening end she were to find
Herself to be the same poor prisoner
That he had found at first—then she must lose
All sight and sound of him, she must abjure
All possible thought of him; for he would go
So far and for so long from her that love—
Yes, even a love like his, exiled enough,
Might for another’s touch be born again—
Born to be lost and starved for and not found;
Or, at the next, the second wretchedest,
It might go mutely flickering down and out,
And on some incomplete and piteous day,
Some perilous day to come, she might at last
Learn, with a noxious freedom, what it is
To be at peace with ghosts. Then were the blow
Thrice deadlier than any kind of death
Could ever be: to know that she had won
The truth too late—there were the dregs indeed
Of wisdom, and of love the final thrust
Unmerciful; and there where now did lie
So plain before her the straight radiance
Of what was her appointed way to take,
Were only the bleak ruts of an old road
That stretched ahead and faded and lay far
Through deserts of unconscionable years.

But vampire thoughts like these confessed the doubt
That love denied; and once, if never again,
They should be turned away. They might come back—
More craftily, perchance, they might come back—
And with a spirit-thirst insatiable
Finish the strength of her; but now, today
She would have none of them. She knew that love
Was true, that he was true, that she was true;
And should a death-bed snare that she had made
So long ago be stretched inexorably
Through all her life, only to be unspun
With her last breathing? And were bats and threads,
Accursedly devised with watered gules,
To be Love’s heraldry? What were it worth
To live and to find out that life were life
But for an unrequited incubus
Of outlawed shame that would not be thrown down
Till she had thrown down fear and overcome
The woman that was yet so much of her
That she might yet go mad? What were it worth
To live, to linger, and to be condemned
In her submission to a common thought
That clogged itself and made of its first faith
Its last impediment? What augured it,
Now in this quick beginning of new life,
To clutch the sunlight and be feeling back,
Back with a scared fantastic fearfulness,
To touch, not knowing why, the vexed-up ghost
Of what was gone?

Yes, there was Argan’s face,
Pallid and pinched and ruinously marked
With big pathetic bones; there were his eyes,
Quiet and large, fixed wistfully on hers;
And there, close-pressed again within her own,
Quivered his cold thin fingers. And, ah! yes,
There were the words, those dying words again,
And hers that answered when she promised him.
Promised him? … yes. And had she known the truth
Of what she felt that he should ask her that,
And had she known the love that was to be,
God knew that she could not have told him then.
But then she knew it not, nor thought of it;
There was no need of it; nor was there need
Of any problematical support
Whereto to cling while she convinced herself
That love’s intuitive utility,
Inexorably merciful, had proved
That what was human was unpermanent
And what was flesh was ashes. She had told
Him then that she would love no other man,
That there was not another man on earth
Whom she could ever love, or who could make
So much as a love thought go through her brain;
And he had smiled. And just before he died
His lips had made as if to say something—
Something that passed unwhispered with his breath,
Out of her reach, out of all quest of it.
And then, could she have known enough to know
The meaning of her grief, the folly of it,
The faithlessness and the proud anguish of it,
There might be now no threads to punish her,
No vampire thoughts to suck the coward blood,
The life, the very soul of her.

Yes, Yes,
They might come back.… But why should they come back?
Why was it she had suffered? Why had she
Struggled and grown these years to demonstrate
That close without those hovering clouds of gloom
And through them here and there forever gleamed
The Light itself, the life, the love, the glory,
Which was of its own radiance good proof
That all the rest was darkness and blind sight?
And who was she? The woman she had known—
The woman she had petted and called “I”—
The woman she had pitied, and at last
Commiserated for the most abject
And persecuted of all womankind,—
Could it be she that had sought out the way
To measure and thereby to quench in her
The woman’s fear—the fear of her not fearing?
A nervous little laugh that lost itself,
Like logic in a dream, fluttered her thoughts
An instant there that ever she should ask
What she might then have told so easily—
So easily that Annandale had frowned,
Had he been given wholly to be told
The truth of what had never been before
So passionately, so inevitably
Confessed.

For she could see from where she sat
The sheets that he had bound up like a book
And covered with red leather; and her eyes
Could see between the pages of the book,
Though her eyes, like them, were closed. And she could read
As well as if she had them in her hand,
What he had written on them long ago,—
Six years ago, when he was waiting for her.
She might as well have said that she could see
The man himself, as once he would have looked
Had she been there to watch him while he wrote
Those words, and all for her.… For her whose face
Had flashed itself, prophetic and unseen,
But not unspirited, between the life
That would have been without her and the life
That he had gathered up like frozen roots
Out of a grave-clod lying at his feet,
Unconsciously, and as unconsciously
Transplanted and revived. He did not know
The kind of life that he had found, nor did
He doubt, not knowing it; but well he knew
That it was life—new life, and that the old
Might then with unimprisoned wings go free,
Onward and all along to its own light,
Through the appointed shadow.

While she gazed
Upon it there she felt within herself
The growing of a newer consciousness—
The pride of something fairer than her first
Outclamoring of interdicted thought
Had ever quite foretold; and all at once
There quivered and requivered through her flesh,
Like music, like the sound of an old song,
Triumphant, love-remembered murmurings
Of what for passion’s innocence had been
Too mightily, too perilously hers,
Ever to be reclaimed and realized
Until today. Today she could throw off
The burden that had held her down so long,
And she could stand upright, and she could see
The way to take, with eyes that had in them
No gleam but of the spirit. Day or night,
No matter; she could see what was to see—
All that had been till now shut out from her,
The service, the fulfillment, and the truth,
And thus the cruel wiseness of it all.

So Damaris, more like than anything
To one long prisoned in a twilight cave
With hovering bats for all companionship,
And after time set free to fight the sun,
Laughed out, so glad she was to recognize
The test of what had been, through all her folly,
The courage of her conscience; for she knew,
Now on a late-flushed autumn afternoon
That else had been too bodeful of dead things
To be endured with aught but the same old
Inert, self-contradicted martyrdom
Which she had known so long, that she could look
Right forward through the years, nor any more
Shrink with a cringing prescience to behold
The glitter of dead summer on the grass,
Or the brown-glimmered crimson of still trees
Across the intervale where flashed along,
Black-silvered, the cold river. She had found,
As if by some transcendent freakishness
Of reason, the glad life that she had sought
Where naught but obvious clouds could ever be—
Clouds to put out the sunlight from her eyes,
And to put out the love-light from her soul.
But they were gone—now they were all gone;
And with a whimsied pathos, like the mist
Of grief that clings to new-found happiness
Hard wrought, she might have pity for the small
Defeated quest of them that brushed her sight
Like flying lint—lint that had once been thread.…
Yes, like an anodyne, the voice of him,
There were the words that he had made for her,
For her alone. The more she thought of them
The more she lived them, and the more she knew
The life-grip and the pulse of warm strength in them.
They were the first and last of words to her,
And there was in them a far questioning
That had for long been variously at work,
Divinely and elusively at work,
With her, and with the grace that had been hers;
They were eternal words, and they diffused
A flame of meaning that men’s lexicons
Had never kindled; they were choral words
That harmonized with love’s enduring chords
Like wisdom with release; triumphant words
That rang like elemental orisons
Through ages out of ages; words that fed
Love’s hunger in the spirit; words that smote;
Thrilled words that echoed, and barbed words that clung;—
And every one of them was like a friend
Whose obstinate fidelity, well tried,
Had found at last and irresistibly
The way to her close conscience, and thereby
Revealed the unsubstantial Nemesis
That she had clutched and shuddered at so long;
And every one of them was like a real
And ringing voice, clear toned and absolute,
But of a love-subdued authority
That uttered thrice the plain significance
Of what had else been generously vague
And indolently true. It may have been
The triumph and the magic of the soul,
Unspeakably revealed, that finally
Had reconciled the grim probationing
Of wisdom with unalterable faith,
But she could feel—not knowing what it was,
For the sheer freedom of it—a new joy
That humanized the latent wizardry
Of his prophetic voice and put for it
The man within the music.

So it came
To pass, like many a long-compelled emprise
That with its first accomplishment almost
Annihilates its own severity,
That she could find, whenever she might look,
The certified achievement of a love
That had endured, self-guarded and supreme,
To the glad end of all that wavering;
And she could see that now the flickering world
Of autumn was awake with sudden bloom,
New-born, perforce, of a slow bourgeoning.
And she had found what more than half had been
The grave-deluded, flesh-bewildered fear
Which men and women struggle to call faith,
To be the paid progression to an end
Whereat she knew the foresight and the strength
To glorify the gift of what was hers,
To vindicate the truth of what she was.
And had it come to her so suddenly?
There was a pity and a weariness
In asking that, and a great needlessness;
For now there were no wretched quivering strings
That held her to the churchyard any more:
There were no thoughts that flapped themselves like bats
Around her any more. The shield of love
Was clean, and she had paid enough to learn
How it had always been so. And the truth,
Like silence after some far victory,
Had come to her, and she had found it out
As if it were a vision, a thing born
So suddenly!—just as a flower is born,
Or as a world is born—so suddenly.

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The Troubadour. Canto 4

IT was a wild and untrain'd bower,
Enough to screen from April shower,
Or shelter from June's hotter hour,
Tapestried with starry jessamines,
The summer's gold and silver mines;
With a moss seat, and its turf set
With crowds of the white violet.
And close beside a fountain play'd,
Dim, cool, from its encircling shade;
And lemon trees grew round, as pale
As never yet to them the gale
Had brought a message from the sun
To say their summer task was done.
It was a very solitude
For love in its despairing mood,
With just enough of breath and bloom,
With just enough of calm and gloom,
To suit a heart where love has wrought
His wasting work, with saddest thought;
Where all its sickly fantasies
May call up suiting images:
With flowers like hopes that spring and fade
As only for a mockery made,
And shadows of the boughs that fall
Like sorrow drooping over all.

And LEILA , loveliest! can it be
Such destiny is made for thee?
Yes, it is written on thy brow
The all thy lip may not avow,--
All that in woman's heart can dwell,
Save by a blush unutterable.
Alas! that ever RAYMOND came
To light thy cheek and heart to flame,--
A hidden fire, but not the less
Consuming in its dark recess.

She had leant by his couch of pain,
When throbbing pulse and bursting vein
Fierce spoke the fever, when fate near
Rode on the tainted atmosphere;
And though that parch'd lip spoke alone
Of other love, in fondest tone,
And though the maiden knew that death
Might be upon his lightest breath,
Yet never by her lover's side
More fondly watch'd affianced bride,--
With pain or fear more anxious strove,
Than LEILA watch'd another's love.

But he was safe!--that very day
Farewell, it had been her's to say;
And he was gone to his own land,
To seek another maiden's hand.

Who that had look'd on her that morn,
Could dream of all her heart had borne;
Her cheek was red, but who could know
'Twas flushing with the strife below;--
Her eye was bright, but who could tell
It shone with tears she strove to quell;--
Her voice was gay, her step was light;
And, beaming, beautiful, and bright,
It was as if life could confer
Nothing but happiness on her.
Ah! who could think that all so fair
Was semblance, and but misery there.

'Tis strange with how much power and pride
The softness is of love allied;
How much of power to force the breast
To be in outward show at rest,--
How much of pride that never eye
May look upon its agony!
Ah! little will the lip reveal
Of all the burning heart can feel.

But this was past, and she was now
With clasped hands prest to her brow,
And head bow'd down upon her knee,
And heart-pulse throbbing audibly,
And tears that gush'd like autumn rain,
The more for that they gush'd in vain.
Oh! why should woman ever love,
Trusting to one false star above;
And fling her little chance away
Of sunshine for its treacherous ray.

At first ELVIRA had not sought
To break upon her lonely thought.
But it was now the vesper time,
And she return'd not at the chime
Of holy bells,--she knew the hour:--
At last they search'd her favourite bower;
Beside the fount they found the maid
On head bow'd down, as if she pray'd;
Her long black hair fell like a veil,
Making her pale brow yet more pale.
'Twas strange to look upon her face,
Then turn and see its shadowy trace
Within the fountain; one like stone,
So cold, so colourless, so lone,--
A statue nymph, placed there to show
How far the sculptor's art could go.
The other, and that too the shade,
In light and crimson warmth array'd;
For the red glow of day declining,
Was now upon the fountain shining,
And the shape in its mirror bright
Of sparkling waves caught warmth and light.

ELVIRA spoke not, though so near,
Her words lay mute in their own fear:
At last she whisper'd LEILA'S name,--
No answer from the maiden came.
She took one cold hand in her own,
Started, and it dropp'd lifeless down!
She gazed upon the fixed eye,
And read in it mortality.

And lingers yet that maiden's tale
A legend of the lemon vale:
They say that never from that hour
Has flourish'd there a single flower,--
The jasmine droop'd, the violets died,
Nothing grew by that fountain side,
Save the pale pining lemon trees,
And the dark weeping cypresses.--
And now when to the twilight star
The lover wakes his lone guitar,
Or maiden bids a song impart
All that is veil'd in her own heart,
The wild and mournful tale they tell
Of her who loved, alas! too well.--

And where was RAYMOND , where was he?
Borne homeward o'er the rapid sea,
While sunny days and favouring gales
Brought welcome speed to the white sails,--
With bended knee, and upraised hand,
He stood upon his native land,
With all that happiness can be
When resting on futurity.
On, on he went, and o'er the plain
He rode an armed knight again;
He urged his steed with hand and heel,
It bounded concious of the steel,
And never yet to RAYMOND'S eye
Spread such an earth, shone such a sky,
Blew such sweet breezes o'er his brow,
As those his native land had now.

He thought upon young EVA'S name,
And felt that she was still the same;
He thought on AMIRALD , his child
Had surely his dark cares beguiled;
He thought upon the welcome sweet
It would be his so soon to meet:
And never had the star of hope
Shone on a lovelier horoscope.

And evening shades were on the hour
When RAYMOND rode beneath the tower
Remember'd well, for ADELINE
Had there been his heart's summer queen.
Could this be it?--he knew the heath
Which, lake-like, spread its walls beneath,--
He saw the dark old chesnut wood
Which had for ages by it stood;
And but for these the place had been
As one that he had never seen.
The walls were rent, the gates were gone,
No red light from the watch tower shone.
He enter'd, and the hall was bare,
It show'd the spoiler had been there;
Even upon the very hearth
The green grass found a place of birth.

Oh, vanity! that the stone wall
May sooner than a blossom fall;
The tower in its strength may be
Laid low before the willow tree.
There stood the wood, subject to all
The autumn wind, the winter fall,--
There stood the castle which the rain
And wind had buffetted in vain,--
But one in ruins stood beside
The other green in its spring pride.

And RAYMOND paced the lonely hall
As if he feared his own footfall.
It is the very worst, the gloom
Of a deserted banquet-room,
To see the spider's web outvie
The torn and faded tapestry,--
To shudder at the cold damp air,
Then think how once were burning there
The incense vase with odour glowing,
The silver lamp its softness throwing
O'er cheeks as beautiful and bright
As roses bathed in summer light,--
How through the portals sweeping came
Proud cavalier and high-born dame,
With gems like stars 'mid raven curls,
And snow-white plumes and wreathed pearls--
Gold cups, whose lighted flames made dim
The sparkling stones around the brim;--
Soft voices answering to the lute,
The swelling harp, the sigh-waked flute,--
The glancing lightness of the dance,--
Then, starting sudden from thy trance,
Gaze round the lonely place and see
Its silence and obscurity:
Then commune with thine heart, and say
These are the foot-prints of decay,--
And I, even thus shall pass away.

And RAYMOND turn'd him to depart,
With darken'd brow and heavy heart.
Can outrage or can time remove
The sting, the scar of slighted love?
He could not look upon the scene
And not remember ADELINE ,
Fair queen of gone festivity,--
Oh, where was it, and where was she!

At distance short a village lay,
And thither RAYMOND took his way,
And in its hostel shelter found,
While the dark night was closing round.
It was a cheerful scene, the hearth
Was bright with wood-fire and with mirth,
And in the midst a harper bent
O'er his companion instrument:
'Twas an old man, his hair was grey,--
For winter tracks in snow its way,--
But yet his dark, keen eye was bright,
With somewhat of its youthful light;
Like one whose path of life had made
Its course through mingled sheen and shade,
But one whose buoyant spirit still
Pass'd lightly on through good or ill,--
One reckless if borne o'er the sea
In storm or in tranquillity;
The same to him, as if content
Were his peculiar element.
'Tis strange how the heart can create
Or colour from itself its fate;
We make ourselves our own distress,
We are ourselves our happiness.

And many a song and many a lay,
Had pass'd the cheerful hour away,
When one pray'd that he would relate,
His tale of the proud ladye's fate,--
The lady ADELINE ;--the name
Like lightning upon RAYMOND came!
And swept the harper o'er his chords
As that he paused for minstrel words,
Or stay'd till silence should prevail,
When thus the old man told the tale.

THE PROUD LADYE.

OH , what could the ladye's beauty match,
An it were not the ladye's pride;
An hundred knights from far and near
Woo'd at that ladye's side.

The rose of the summer slept on her cheek,
Its lily upon her breast,
And her eye shone forth like the glorious star
That rises the first in the west.

There were some that woo'd for her land and gold,
And some for her noble name,
And more that woo'd for her loveliness;
But her answer was still the same.

'There is a steep and lofty wall,
Where my warders trembling stand,
He who at speed shall ride round its height,
For him shall be my hand.'

Many turn'd away from the deed,
The hope of their wooing o'er;
But many a young knight mounted the steed
He never mounted more.

At last there came a youthful knight,
From a strange and far countrie,
The steed that he rode was white as the foam
Upon a stormy sea.

And she who had scorn'd the name of love,
Now bow'd before its might,
And the ladye grew meek as if disdain
Were not made for that stranger knight.

She sought at first to steal his soul
By dance, song, and festival;
At length on bended knee she pray'd
He would not ride the wall.

But gaily the young knight laugh'd at her fears,
And flung him on his steed,--
There was not a saint in the calendar
That she pray'd not to in her need.

She dared not raise her eyes to see
If heaven had granted her prayer,
Till she heard a light step bound to her side,--
The gallant knight stood there!

And took the ladye ADELINE
From her hair a jewell'd band,
But the knight repell'd the offer'd gift,
And turn'd from the offer'd hand.

And deemest thou that I dared this deed,
Ladye, for love of thee;
The honour that guides the soldier's lance
Is mistress enough for me.

Enough for me to ride the ring,
The victor's crown to wear;
But not in honour of the eyes
Of any ladye there.

I had a brother whom I lost
Through thy proud crueltie,
And far more was to me his love,
Than woman's love can be.

I came to triumph o'er the pride
Through which that brother fell,
I laugh to scorn thy love and thee,
And now, proud dame, farewell!

And from that hour the ladye pined,
For love was in her heart,
And on her slumber there came dreams
She could not bid depart.

Her eye lost all its starry light,
Her cheek grew wan and pale,
Till she hid her faded loveliness
Beneath the sacred veil.

And she cut off her long dark hair,
And bade the world farewell,
And she now dwells a veiled nun
In Saint Marie's cell.

AND what were RAYMOND'S dreams that night?
The morning's gift of crimson light
Waked not his sleep, for his pale cheek
Did not of aught like slumber speak;
Though not upon a morn like this
Should RAYMOND turn to aught but bliss.
To-day, when EVA will be prest,
Ere evening, to his throbbing breast,--
To-day, when all his own will be
That cheer'd his long captivity.
Care to the wind of heaven was flung
As the young knight to stirrup sprung.

He reach'd the castle; save one, all
Rush'd to his welcome in the hall.
He gazed, but there no EVA came,
Scarce his low voice named EVA'S name!

'Our EVA , she is far away
Amid the young, the fair, the gay.
At Thoulouse, now the bright resort
Of beauty and the Minstrel Court;
For this time it is hers to set
The victor's brow with violet.
Her father,--but you're worn and pale,--
Come, the wine cup will aid my tale.'
The greeting of the elder knight,
The cheerful board, the vintage bright,
Not all could chase from RAYMOND'S soul,
The cloud that o'er its gladness stole;
And soon, pretending toil, he sought
A solitude for lonely thought.--
'Tis strange how much of vanity
Almost unconciously will be
With our best feelings mix'd, and now
But that, what shadows RAYMOND'S brow.

He had deem'd a declining flower,
Pining in solitary bower,
He should find EVA , sad and lone,--
He sought the cage, the bird had flown,
With burnish'd plume, and careless wing,
A follower of the sunny Spring.
He pictured her the first of all
In masque, and dance, and festival,--
With cheek at its own praises burning,
And eyes but on adorers turning,
The lady of the tournament,
For whose bright sake the lance was sent;
While minstrels borrow'd from her name
The beauty which they paid by fame:
Beloved! not even his hot brain
Dared whisper,--loving too again.

But the next morn, and RAYMOND bent
His steps to that fair Parliament,
While pride and hasty anger strove
Against his memory and his love.
But leave we him awhile to rave
Against the faith which, like the wave,
By every grain of sand can be
Moved from its own tranquillity,
Till settled he that woman's mind
Was but a leaf before the wind,--
Left to remain, retreat, advance,
Without a destiny but chance.--

And where is EVA ? on her cheek
Is there aught that of love may speak?
Amid the music and perfume
That, mingling, fill yon stately room
A maiden sits, around her chair
Stand others who, with graceful care,
Bind Indian jewels in her hair.
'Tis EVA ! on one side a stand
Of dark wood from the Ethiop's land
Is cover'd with all gems that deck
A maiden's arm, or maiden's neck:
The diamond with its veins of light,
The sapphire like a summer night,
The ruby rich as it had won
A red gift from the setting sun,
And white pearls, such as might have been
A bridal offering for a queen.

On the side opposite were thrown,
Rainbow-like mix'd, a sparkling zone,
A snow-white veil, a purple vest
Embroider'd with a golden crest.
Before, the silver mirror's trace
Is the sweet shadow of her face,
Placed as appealing to her eyes
For the truth of the flatteries,
With which her gay attendants seek
To drive all sadness from her cheek.--
She heard them not; she reck'd not how
They wreath'd the bright hair o'er her brow,
Whate'er its sunny grace might be
There was an eye that would not see.
They told of words of royal praise,
They told of minstrel's moonlight lays,
Of youthful knights who swore to die
For her least smile, her lightest sigh.
But he was gone, her young, her brave,
Her heart was with him in the grave.

Wearied, for ill the heart may bear
Light words in which it has no share,
She turn'd to a pale maid, who, mute,
Dreaming of song leant o'er her lute;
And at her sign, that maiden's words
Came echo-like to its sweet chords,--
It was a low and silver tone,
And very sad, like sorrow's own;
She sang of love as it will be,
And has been in reality,--
Of fond hearts broken and betray'd,
Of roses opening but to fade,
Of wither'd hope, and wasted bloom,
Of the young warrior's early tomb;
And the while her dark mournful eye
Held with her words deep sympathy.

And EVA listen'd;--music's power
Is little felt in sunlit hour;
But hear its voice when hopes depart,
Like swallows, flying from the heart
On which the summer's late decline
Has set a sadness and a sign;
When friends whose commune once we sought
For every bosom wish and thought,
Have given in our hour of need
Such a support as gives the reed,--
When we have seen the green grass grow
Over what once was life below;
How deeply will the spirit feel
The lute, the song's sweet-voiced appeal;
And how the heart drink in their sighs
As echoes they from Paradise.

'Tis done: the last bright gem is set
In EVA'S sparkling coronet;
A soil on her rich veil appears,--
Unsuiting here--and is it tears!

Her father met her, he was proud
To lead his daughter through the crowd,
And see the many eyes that gazed,
Then mark the blush their gazing raised;
And for his sake, she forced away
The clouds that on her forehead lay,
The sob rose in her throat, 'twas all,
The tears swam, but they dared not fall;
And the pale lip put on a smile,
Alas it was too sad for guile!

A beautiful and festal day
Shone summer bright o'er the array,
And purple banners work'd in gold,
And azure pennons spread their fold,
O'er the rich awnings which were round
The galleries that hemm'd in the ground,
The green and open space, where met
The Minstrels of the Violet;
And two or three old stately trees
Soften'd the sun, skreen'd from the breeze.
And there came many a lovely dame,
With cheek of rose, and eye of flame;
And many a radiant arm was raised,
Whose rubies in the sunshine blazed;
And many a white veil swept the air
Only than what they hid less fair;
And placed at his own beauty's feet
Found many a youthful knight his seat,
And flung his jewell'd cap aside,
And wore his scarf with gayer pride,
And whisper'd soft and gallant things,
And bade the bards' imaginings
Whenever love awoke the tone,
With their sweet passion plead his own.

Beneath an azure canopy,
Blue as the sweep of April's sky,
Upon a snowy couch reclined
Like a white cloud before the wind,
Leant EVA :--there was many a tent
More royal, more magnificent,
With purple, gold, and crimson swelling,
But none so like a fairy dwelling:
One curtain bore her father's crest,
But summer flowers confined the rest;
And, at her feet, the ground was strew'd
With the June's rainbow multitude:
Beside her knelt a page, who bore
A vase with jewels sparkling o'er,
And in that shining vase was set
The prize,--THE GOLDEN VIOLET.

Alas for her whom ev'ry eye
Worshipp'd like a divinity!
Alas for her whose ear was fill'd
With flatteries like sweet woods distill'd!

Alas for EVA ! bloom and beam,
Music and mirth, came like a dream,
In which she mingled not,--apart
From all in heaviness of heart.
There were soft tales pour'd in her ear,
She look'd on many a cavalier,
Wander'd her eye round the glad scene,
It was as if they had not been;--
To ear, eye, heart, there only came
Her RAYMOND'S image, RAYMOND'S name!

There is a flower, a snow-white flower,
Fragile as if a morning shower
Would end its being, and the earth
Forget to what it gave a birth;
And it looks innocent and pale,
Slight as the least force could avail
To pluck it from its bed, and yet
Its root in depth and strength is set.
The July sun, the autumn rain,
Beat on its slender stalk in vain;--
Around it spreads, despite of care,
Till the whole garden is its share;
And other plants must fade and fall
Beneath its deep and deadly thrall.
This is love's emblem; it is nurst
In all unconciousness at first,
Too slight, too fair, to wake distrust;
No sign how that an after hour
Will rue and weep its fatal power.
'Twas thus with EVA ; she had dream'd
Of love as his first likeness seem'd,
A sweet thought o'er which she might brood,
The treasure of her solitude;
But tidings of young RAYMOND'S fate
Waken'd her from her dream too late,
Even her timid love could be
The ruling star of destiny.
And when a calmer mood prevail'd
O'er that whose joy her father hail'd,
Too well he saw how day by day
Some other emblem of decay
Came on her lip, and o'er her brow,
Which only she would disallow;
The cheek the lightest word could flush
Not with health's rose, but the heart's gush
Of feverish anxiousness; he caught
At the least hope, and vainly sought
By change, by pleasure, to dispell
Her sorrow from its secret cell.

In vain;--what can reanimate
A heart too early desolate?
It had been his, it could not save,
But it could follow to his grave.

The trumpets peal'd their latest round,
Stole from the flutes a softer sound,
Swell'd the harp to each master's hand,
As onward came the minstrel band!
And many a bright cheek grew more bright,
And many a dark eye flash'd with light,
As bent the minstrel o'er his lute,
And urged the lover's plaining suit,
Or swept a louder chord, and gave
Some glorious history of the brave.

At last from 'mid the crowd one came,
Unknown himself, unknown his name,
Both knight and bard,--the stranger wore
The garb of a young Troubadour;
His dark green mantle loosely flung,
Conceal'd the form o'er which it hung;
And his cap, with its shadowy plume,
Hid his face by its raven gloom.
Little did EVA'S careless eye
Dream that it wander'd RAYMOND by,
Though his first tone thrill'd every vein,
It only made her turn again,
Forget the scene, the song, and dwell
But on what memory felt too well.

THE SONG OF THE TROUBADOUR.

IN some valley low and lone,
Where I was the only one
Of the human dwellers there,
Would I dream away my care:
I'd forget how in the world
Snakes lay amid roses curl'd,
I'd forget my once distress
For young Love's insidiousness.
False foes, and yet falser friends,
Seeming but for their own ends;
Pleasures known but by their wings,
Yet remember'd by their stings;
Gold's decrease, and health's decay,
I will fly like these away,
To some lovely solitude,
Where the nightingale's young brood
Lives amid the shrine of leaves,
Which the wild rose round them weaves,
And my dwelling shall be made
Underneath the beech-tree's shade.
Twining ivy for the walls
Over which the jasmine falls,
Like a tapestry work'd with gold
And pearls around each emerald fold:
And my couches shall be set
With the purple violet,
And the white ones too, inside
Each a blush to suit a bride.
That flower which of all that live,
Lovers, should be those who give,
Primroses, for each appears
Pale and wet with many tears.
Alas tears and pallid check
All too often love bespeak!
There the gilderose should fling
Silver treasures to the spring,
And the bright laburnum's tresess
Seeking the young wind's caresses;
In the midst an azure lake,
Where no oar e'er dips to break
The clear bed of its blue rest,
Where the halcyon builds her nest;
And amid the sedges green,
And the water-flag's thick screen,
The solitary swan resides;
And the bright kingfisher hides,
With its colours rich like those
Which the bird of India shows.--
Once I thought that I would seek
Some fair creature, young and meek,
Whose most gentle smile would bless
My too utter loneliness;
But I then remember'd all
I had suffer'd from Love's thrall,
And I thought I 'd not again
Enter in the lion's den;
But, with my wrung heart now free,
So I thought I still will be.
Love is like a kingly dome,
Yet too often sorrow's home;
Sometimes smiles, but oftener tears,
Jealousies, and hopes, and fears,
A sweet liquor sparkling up,
But drank from a poison'd cup.
Would you guard your heart from care
Love must never enter there.
I will dwell with summer flowers,
Fit friends for the summer hours,
My companions honey-bees,
And birds, and buds, and leaves, and trees,
And the dew of the twilight,
And the thousand stars of night:
I will cherish that sweet gift,
The least earthly one now left
Of the gems of Paradise,
Poesy's delicious sighs.
Ill may that soft spirit bear
Crowds' or cities' healthless air;
Was not her sweet breathing meant
To echo the low murmur sent
By the flowers, and by the rill,
When all save the wind is still?
As if to tell of those fair things
High thoughts, pure imaginings,
That recall how bright, how fair,
In our other state we were.
And at last, when I have spent
A calm life in mild content,
May my spirit pass away
As the early leaves decay:
Spring shakes her gay coronal,
One sweet breath, and then they fall.
Only let the red-breast bring
Moss to strew me with, and sing,
One low mournful dirge to tell
I have bid the world farewell.

AND praise rang forth, the prize is won,
Young minstrel, thou hast equal none!
They led him to the lady's seat,
And knelt he down at EVA'S feet;
She bent his victor brow to deck,
And, fainting, sunk upon his neck!
The cap and plume aside were thrown,
'Twas as the grave restored its own,
And sent its victim forth to share
Light, life, and hope, and sun, and air.

That day the feast spread gay and bright
In honour of the youthful knight,
And it was EVA'S fairy hand
Met RAYMOND'S in the saraband,
And it was EVA'S ear that heard
Many a low and love-tuned word.--
And life seem'd as a sunny stream,
And hope awaked as from a dream;
But what has minstrel left to tell
When love has not an obstacle?
My lute is hush'd, and mute its chords,
The heart and happiness have no words!

MY tale is told, the glad sunshine
Fell over its commencing line,--
It was a morn in June, the sun
Was blessing all it shone upon,
The sky was clear as not a cloud
Were ever on its face allow'd;
The hill whereon I stood was made
A pleasant place of summer shade
By the green elms which seem'd as meant
To make the noon a shadowy tent.
I had been bent half sleep, half wake,
Dreaming those rainbow dreams that take
The spirit prisoner in their chain,
Too beautiful to be quite vain,--
Enough if they can soothe or cheer
One moment's pain or sorrow here.
And I was happy; hope and fame
Together on my visions came,
For memory had just dipp'd her wings
In honey dews, and sunlit springs,--
My brow burnt with its early wreath,
My soul had drank its first sweet breath
Of praise, and yet my cheek was flushing,
My heart with the full torrent gushing
Of feelings whose delighted mood
Was mingling joy and gratitude.
Scarce possible it seem'd to be
That such praise could be meant for me.--
Enured to coldness and neglect,
My spirit chill'd, my breathing check'd,
All that can crowd and crush the mind,
Friends even more than fate unkind,
And fortunes stamp'd with the pale sign
That marks and makes autumn's decline.
How could I stand in the sunshine,
And marvel not that it was mine?
One word, if ever happiness
In its most passionate excess
Offer'd its wine to human lip,
It has been mine that cup to sip.
I may not say with what deep dread
The words of my first song were said,
I may not say how much delight
Has been upon my minstrel flight.--
'Tis vain, and yet my heart would say
Somewhat to those who made my way
A path of light, with power to kill,
To check, to crush, but not the will.
Thanks for the gentleness that lent
My young lute such encouragement,
When scorn had turn'd my heart to stone,
Oh, their's be thanks and benison!

Back to the summer hill again,
When first I thought upon this strain,
And music rose upon the air,
I look'd below, and, gather'd there,
Rode soldiers with their breast-plates glancing,
Helmets and snow-white feathers dancing,
And trumpets at whose martial sound
Prouder the war horse trod the ground,
And waved their flag with many a name
Of battles and each battle fame.
And as I mark'd the gallant line
Pass through the green lane's serpentine,
And as I saw the boughs give way
Before the crimson pennons' play;
To other days my fancy went,
Call'd up the stirring tournament,
The dark-eyed maiden who for years
Kept the vows seal'd by parting tears,
While he who own'd her plighted hand
Was fighting in the Holy Land.
The youthful knight with his gay crest,
His ladye's scarf upon a breast
Whose truth was kept, come life, come death,--
Alas! has modern love such faith?
I thought how in the moon-lit hour
The minstrel hymn'd his maiden's bower,
His helm and sword changed for the lute
And one sweet song to urge his suit.
Floated around me moated hall,
And donjon keep, and frowning wall;
I saw the marshall'd hosts advance,
I gazed on banner, brand, and lance;
The murmur of a low song came
Bearing one only worshipp'd name;
And my next song, I said, should be
A tale of gone-by chivalry.

My task is done, the tale is told,
The lute drops from my wearied hold;
Spreads no green earth, no summer sky
To raise fresh visions for my eye,
The hour is dark, the winter rain
Beats cold and harsh against the pane,
Where, spendthrift like, the branches twine,
Worn, knotted, of a leafless vine;
And the wind howls in gusts around,
As omens were in each drear sound,--
Omens that bear upon their breath
Tidings of sorrow, pain, and death.
Thus should it be,--I could not bear
The breath of flowers, the sunny air
Upon that ending page should be
Which ONE will never, never see.
Yet who will love it like that one,
Who cherish as he would have done,
My father! albeit but in vain
This clasping of a broken chain,
And albeit of all vainest things
That haunt with sad imaginings,
None has the sting of memory;
Yet still my spirit turns to thee,
Despite of long and lone regret,
Rejoicing it cannot forget.
I would not lose the lightest thought
With one remembrance of thine fraught,--
And my heart said no name, but thine
Should be on this last page of mine.

My father, though no more, thine ear
Censure or praise of mine can hear,
It soothes me to embalm thy name
With all my hope, my pride, my fame,
Treasures of Fancy's fairy hall,--
Thy name most precious far of all.

My page is wet with bitter tears,--
I cannot but think of those years
When happiness and I would wait
On summer evenings by the gate,
And keep o'er the green fields our watch
The first sound of thy step to catch,
Then run for the first kiss, and word,--
An unkind one I never heard.
But these are pleasant memories,
And later years have none like these:
They came with griefs, and pains, and cares,
All that the heart breaks while it bears;
Desolate as I feel alone
I should not weep that thou art gone.
Alas! the tears that still will fall
Are selfish in their fond recall;--
If ever tears could win from Heaven
A loved one, and yet be forgiven,
Mine surely might; I may not tell
The agony of my farewell!
A single tear I had not shed,--
'Twas the first time I mourn'd the dead:--
It was my heaviest loss, my worst,--
My father!--and was thine the first!

Farewell! in my heart is a spot
Where other griefs and cares come not,
Hallow'd by love, by memory kept,
And deeply honour'd, deeply wept.
My own dead father, time may bring
Chance, change, upon his rainbow-wing,
But never will thy name depart
The household god of thy child's heart,
Until thy orphan girl may share
The grave where her best feelings are.
Never, dear father, love can be,
Like the dear love I had for thee!

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Byron

Canto the First

I.

The Serfs are glad through Lara's wide domain,
And slavery half forgets her feudal chain;
He, their unhoped, but unforgotten lord —
The long self-exiled chieftain is restored:
There be bright faces in the busy hall,
Bowls on the board, and banners on the wall;
Far chequering o'er the pictured window, plays
The unwonted fagots' hospitable blaze;
And gay retainers gather round the hearth,
With tongues all loudness, and with eyes all mirth.

II.

The chief of Lara is return'd again:
And why had Lara cross'd the bounding main?
Left by his sire, too young such loss to know,
Lord of himself; — that heritage of woe,
That fearful empire which the human breast
But holds to rob the heart within of rest! —
With none to check, and few to point in time
The thousand paths that slope the way to crime;
Then, when he most required commandment, then
Had Lara's daring boyhood govern'd men.
It skills not, boots not, step by step to trace
His youth through all the mazes of its race;
Short was the course his restlessness had run,
But long enough to leave him half undone.

III.

And Lara left in youth his fatherland;
But from the hour he waved his parting hand
Each trace wax'd fainter of his course, till all
Had nearly ceased his memory to recall.
His sire was dust, his vassals could declare,
'Twas all they knew, that Lara was not there;
Nor sent, nor came he, till conjecture grew
Cold in the many, anxious in the few.
His hall scarce echoes with his wonted name,
His portrait darkens in its fading frame,
Another chief consoled his destined bride,
The young forgot him, and the old had died;
"Yet doth he live!" exclaims the impatient heir,
And sighs for sables which he must not wear.
A hundred scutcheons deck with gloomy grace
The Laras' last and longest dwelling-place;
But one is absent from the mouldering file,
That now were welcome to that Gothic pile.

IV.

He comes at last in sudden loneliness,
And whence they know not, why they need not guess;
They more might marvel, when the greeting's o'er,
Not that he came, but came not long before:
No train is his beyond a single page,
Of foreign aspect, and of tender age.
Years had roll'd on, and fast they speed away
To those that wander as to those that stay;
But lack of tidings from another clime
Had lent a flagging wing to weary Time.
They see, they recognise, yet almost deem
The present dubious, or the past a dream.
He lives, nor yet is past his manhood's prime,
Though sear'd by toil, and something touch'd by time;
His faults, whate'er they were, if scarce forgot,
Might be untaught him by his varied lot;
Nor good nor ill of late were known, his name
Might yet uphold his patrimonial fame.
His soul in youth was haughty, but his sins
No more than pleasure from the stripling wins;
And such, if not yet harden'd in their course,
Might be redeem'd, nor ask a long remorse.

V.

And they indeed were changed — 'tis quickly seen,
Whate'er he be, 'twas not what he had been:
That brow in furrow'd lines had fix'd at last,
And spake of passions, but of passion past;
The pride, but not the fire, of early days,
Coldness of mien, and carelessness of praise;
A high demeanour, and a glance that took
Their thoughts from others by a single look;
And that sarcastic levity of tongue,
The stinging of a heart the world hath stung,
That darts in seeming playfulness around,
And makes those feel that will not own the wound:
All these seem'd his, and something more beneath
Than glance could well reveal, or accent breathe.
Ambition, glory, love, the common aim
That some can conquer, and that all would claim,
Within his breast appear'd no more to strive,
Yet seem'd as lately they had been alive;
And some deep feeling it were vain to trace
At moments lighten'd o'er his livid face.

VI.

Not much he loved long question of the past,
Nor told of wondrous wilds, and deserts vast,
In those far lands where he had wander'd lone,
And — as himself would have it seem — unknown:
Yet these in vain his eye could scarcely scan,
Nor glean experience from his fellow-man;
But what he had beheld he shunn'd to show,
As hardly worth a stranger's care to know;
If still more prying such inquiry grew,
His brow fell darker, and his words more few.

VII.

Not unrejoiced to see him once again,
Warm was his welcome to the haunts of men;
Born of high lineage, link'd in high command,
He mingled with the magnates of his land;
Join'd the carousals of the great and gay,
And saw them smile or sigh their hours away;
But still he only saw, and did not share
The common pleasure or the general care;
He did not follow what they all pursued,
With hope still baffled, still to be renew'd;
Nor shadowy honour, nor substantial gain,
Nor beauty's preference, and the rival's pain:
Around him some mysterious circle thrown
Repell'd approach, and showed him still alone;
Upon his eye sate something of reproof,
That kept at least frivolity aloof;
And things more timid that beheld him near,
In silence gazed, or whisper'd mutual fear;
And they the wiser, friendlier few confess'd
They deem'd him better than his air express'd.

VIII.

'Twas strange — in youth all action and all life,
Burning for pleasure, not averse from strife;
Woman — the field — the ocean — all that gave
Promise of gladness, peril of a grave,
In turn he tried — he ransack'd all below,
And found his recompence in joy or woe,
No tame, trite medium; for his feelings sought
In that intenseness an escape from thought:
The tempest of his heart in scorn had gazed
On that the feebler elements hath raised;
The rapture of his heart had look'd on high,
And ask'd if greater dwelt beyond the sky:
Chain'd to excess, the slave of each extreme,
How woke he from the wildness of that dream?
Alas! he told not — but he did awake
To curse the wither'd heart that would not break.

IX.

Books, for his volume heretofore was Man,
With eye more curious he appear'd to scan,
And oft, in sudden mood, for many a day
From all communion he would start away:
And then, his rarely call'd attendants said,
Through night's long hours would sound his hurried tread
O'er the dark gallery, where his fathers frown'd
In rude but antique portraiture around.
They heard, but whisper'd — "/that/ must not be known —
The sound of words less earthly than his own.
Yes, they who chose might smile, but some had seen
They scarce knew what, but more than should have been.
Why gazed he so upon the ghastly head
Which hands profane had gather'd from the dead,
That still beside his open'd volume lay,
As if to startle all save him away?
Why slept he not when others were at rest?
Why heard no music, and received no guest?
All was not well, they deem'd — but where the wrong?
Some knew perchance — but 'twere a tale too long;
And such besides were too discreetly wise,
To more than hint their knowledge in surmise;
But if they would — they could" — around the board,
Thus Lara's vassals prattled of their lord.

X.

It was the night — and Lara's glassy stream
The stars are studding, each with imaged beam:
So calm, the waters scarcely seem to stray,
And yet they glide like happiness away;
Reflecting far and fairy-like from high
The immortal lights that live along the sky:
Its banks are fringed with many a goodly tree,
And flowers the fairest that may feast the bee;
Such in her chaplet infant Dian wove,
And Innocence would offer to her love.
These deck the shore; the waves their channel make
In windings bright and mazy like the snake.
All was so still, so soft in earth and air,
You scarce would start to meet a spirit there;
Secure that nought of evil could delight
To walk in such a scene, on such a night!
It was a moment only for the good:
So Lara deem'd, nor longer there he stood,
But turn'd in silence to his castle-gate;
Such scene his soul no more could contemplate.
Such scene reminded him of other days,
Of skies more cloudless, moons of purer blaze,
Of nights more soft and frequent, hearts that now —
No — no — the storm may beat upon his brow,
Unfelt — unsparing — but a night like this,
A night of beauty mock'd such breast as his.

XI.

He turn'd within his solitary hall,
And his high shadow shot along the wall;
There were the painted forms of other times,
'Twas all they left of virtues or of crimes,
Save vague tradition; and the gloomy vaults
That hid their dust, their foibles, and their faults;
And half a column of the pompous page,
That speeds the specious tale from age to age:
When history's pen its praise or blame supplies,
And lies like truth, and still most truly lies.
He wandering mused, and as the moonbeam shone
Through the dim lattice o'er the floor of stone,
And the high fretted roof, and saints, that there
O'er Gothic windows knelt in pictured prayer,
Reflected in fantastic figures grew,
Like life, but not like mortal life, to view;
His bristling locks of sable, brow of gloom,
And the wide waving of his shaken plume,
Glanced like a spectre's attributes, and gave
His aspect all that terror gives the grave.

XII.

'Twas midnight — all was slumber; the lone light
Dimm'd in the lamp, as loth to break the night.
Hark! there be murmurs heard in Lara's hall —
A sound — voice — a shriek — a fearful call!
A long, loud shriek — and silence — did they hear
That frantic echo burst the sleeping ear?
They heard and rose, and tremulously brave
Rush where the sound invoked their aid to save;
They come with half-lit tapers in their hands,
And snatch'd in startled haste unbelted brands.

XIII.

Cold as the marble where his length was laid,
Pale as the beam that o'er his features play'd,
Was Lara stretch'd; his half-drawn sabre near,
Dropp'd it should seem in more than nature's fear;
Yet he was firm, or had been firm till now,
And still defiance knit his gather'd brow;
Though mix'd with terror, senseless as he lay,
There lived upon his lip the wish to slay;
Some half-form'd threat in utterance there had died,
Some imprecation of despairing pride;
His eye was almost seal'd, but not forsook
Even in its trance the gladiator's look,
That oft awake his aspect could disclose,
And now was fix'd in horrible repose.
They raise him — bear him: hush! he breathes, he speaks!
The swarthy blush recolours in his cheeks,
His lip resumes its red, his eye, though dim,
Rolls wide and wild, each slowly quivering limb
Recalls its function, but his words are strung
In terms that seem not of his native tongue;
Distinct but strange, enough they understand
To deem them accents of another land,
And such they were, and meant to meet an ear
That hears him not — alas! that cannot hear!

XIV.

His page approach'd, and he alone appear'd
To know the import of the words they heard;
And by the changes of his cheek and brow
They were not such as Lara should avow,
Nor he interpret, yet with less surprise
Than those around their chieftain's state he eyes,
But Lara's prostrate form he bent beside,
And in that tongue which seem'd his own replied,
And Lara heeds those tones that gently seem
To soothe away the horrors of his dream;
If dream it were, that thus could overthrow
A breast that needed not ideal woe.

XV.

Whate'er his frenzy dream'd or eye beheld,
If yet remember'd ne'er to be reveal'd,
Rests at his heart: the custom'd morning came,
And breathed new vigour in his shaking frame;
And solace sought he none from priest nor leech,
And soon the same in movement and in speech
As heretofore he fill'd the passing hours,
Nor less he smiles, nor more his forehead lours
Than these were wont; and if the coming night
Appear'd less welcome now to Lara's sight,
He to his marvelling vassals shew'd it not,
Whose shuddering proved /their/ fear was less forgot.
In trembling pairs (alone they dared not) crawl
The astonish'd slaves, and shun the fated hall;
The waving banner, and the clapping door;
The rustling tapestry, and the echoing floor;
The long dim shadows of surrounding trees,
The flapping bat, the night song of the breeze;
Aught they behold or hear their thought appals
As evening saddens o'er the dark gray walls.

XVI.

Vain thought! that hour of ne'er unravell'd gloom
Came not again, or Lara could assume
A seeming of forgetfulness that made
His vassals more amazed nor less afraid —
Had memory vanish'd then with sense restored?
Since word, nor look, nor gesture of their lord
Betray'd a feeling that recall'd to these
That fever'd moment of his mind's disease.
Was it a dream? was his the voice that spoke
Those strange wild accents; his the cry that broke
Their slumber? his the oppress'd o'er-labour'd heart
That ceased to beat, the look that made them start?
Could he who thus had suffer'd, so forget
When such as saw that suffering shudder yet?
Or did that silence prove his memory fix'd
Too deep for words, indelible, unmix'd
In that corroding secresy which gnaws
The heart to shew the effect, but not the cause?
Not so in him; his breast had buried both,
Nor common gazers could discern the growth
Of thoughts that mortal lips must leave half told;
They choke the feeble words that would unfold.

XVII.

In him inexplicably mix'd appear'd
Much to be loved and hated, sought and fear'd;
Opinion varying o'er his hidden lot,
In praise or railing ne'er his name forgot;
His silence form'd a theme for others' prate —
They guess'd — they gazed — they fain would know his fate.
What had he been? what was he, thus unknown,
Who walk'd their world, his lineage only known?
A hater of his kind? yet some would say,
With them he could seem gay amidst the gay;
But own'd that smile, if oft observed and near,
Waned in its mirth and wither'd to a sneer;
That smile might reach his lip, but pass'd not by,
None e'er could trace its laughter to his eye:
Yet there was softness too in his regard,
At times, a heart as not by nature hard,
But once perceived, his spirit seem'd to chide
Such weakness, as unworthy of its pride,
And steel'd itself, as scorning to redeem
One doubt from others' half withheld esteem;
In self-inflicted penance of a breast
Which tenderness might once have wrung from rest;
In vigilance of grief that would compel
The soul to hate for having loved too well.

XVIII.

There was in him a vital scorn of all:
As if the worst had fall'n which could befall,
He stood a stranger in this breathing world,
An erring spirit from another hurled;
A thing of dark imaginings, that shaped
By choice the perils he by chance escaped;
But 'scaped in vain, for in their memory yet
His mind would half exult and half regret:
With more capacity for love than earth
Bestows on most of mortal mould and birth,
His early dreams of good outstripp'd the truth,
And troubled manhood follow'd baffled youth;
With thought of years in phantom chase misspent,
And wasted powers for better purpose lent;
And fiery passions that had pour'd their wrath
In hurried desolation o'er his path,
And left the better feelings all at strife
In wild reflection o'er his stormy life;
But haughty still, and loth himself to blame,
He call'd on Nature's self to share the shame,
And charged all faults upon the fleshly form
She gave to clog the soul, and feast the worm;
'Till he at last confounded good and ill,
And half mistook for fate the acts of will:
Too high for common selfishness, he could
At times resign his own for others' good,
But not in pity, not because he ought,
But in some strange perversity of thought,
That sway'd him onward with a secret pride
To do what few or none would do beside;
And this same impulse would, in tempting time,
Mislead his spirit equally to crime;
So much he soar'd beyond, or sunk beneath
The men with whom he felt condemn'd to breathe,
And long'd by good or ill to separate
Himself from all who shared his mortal state;
His mind abhorring this had fix'd her throne
Far from the world, in regions of her own;
Thus coldly passing all that pass'd below,
His blood in temperate seeming now would flow:
Ah! happier if it ne'er with guilt had glow'd,
But ever in that icy smoothness flow'd:
'Tis true, with other men their path he walk'd,
And like the rest in seeming did and talk'd,
Nor outraged Reason's rules by flaw nor start,
His madness was not of the head, but heart;
And rarely wander'd in his speech, or drew
His thoughts so forth as to offend the view.

XIX.

With all that chilling mystery of mien,
And seeming gladness to remain unseen,
He had (if 'twere not nature's boon) an art
Of fixing memory on another's heart:
It was not love, perchance — nor hate — nor aught
That words can image to express the thought;
But they who saw him did not see in vain,
And once beheld, would ask of him again:
And those to whom he spake remember'd well,
And on the words, however light, would dwell.
None knew nor how, nor why, but he entwined
Himself perforce around the hearer's mind;
There he was stamp'd, in liking, or in hate,
If greeted once; however brief the date
That friendship, pity, or aversion knew,
Still there within the inmost thought he grew.
You could not penetrate his soul, but found
Despite your wonder, to your own he wound.
His presence haunted still; and from the breast
He forced an all-unwilling interest;
Vain was the struggle in that mental net,
His spirit seem'd to dare you to forget!

XX.

There is a festival, where knights and dames,
And aught that wealth or lofty lineage claims,
Appear — a high-born and a welcomed guest
To Otho's hall came Lara with the rest.
The long carousal shakes the illumined hall,
Well speeds alike the banquet and the ball;
And the gay dance of bounding Beauty's train
Links grace and harmony in happiest chain:
Blest are the early hearts and gentle hands
That mingle there in well according bands;
It is a sight the careful brow might smooth,
And make Age smile, and dream itself to youth,
And Youth forget such hour was pass'd on earth,
So springs the exulting bosom to that mirth!

XXI.

And Lara gazed on these sedately glad,
His brow belied him if his soul was sad,
And his glance follow'd fast each fluttering fair,
Whose steps of lightness woke no echo there:
He lean'd against the lofty pillar nigh
With folded arms and long attentive eye,
Nor mark'd a glance so sternly fix'd on his,
Ill brook'd high Lara scrutiny like this:
At length he caught it, 'tis a face unknown,
But seems as searching his, and his alone;
Prying and dark, a stranger's by his mien,
Who still till now had gazed on him unseen;
At length encountering meets the mutual gaze
Of keen inquiry, and of mute amaze;
On Lara's glance emotion gathering grew,
As if distrusting that the stranger threw;
Along the stranger's aspect fix'd and stern
Flash'd more than thence the vulgar eye could learn.

XXII.

"'Tis he!" the stranger cried, and those that heard
Re-echo'd fast and far the whisper'd word.
"'Tis he!" — "'Tis who?" they question far and near,
Till louder accents rang on Lara's ear;
So widely spread, few bosoms well could brook
The general marvel, or that single look;
But Lara stirr'd not, changed not, the surprise
That sprung at first to his arrested eyes
Seem'd now subsided, neither sunk nor raised
Glanced his eye round, though still the stranger gazed;
And drawing nigh, exclaim'd, with haughty sneer,
"'Tis he! — how came he thence? — what doth he here?"

XXIII.

It were too much for Lara to pass by
Such question, so repeated fierce and high;
With look collected, but with accent cold,
More mildly firm than petulantly bold,
He turn'd, and met the inquisitorial tone —
"My name is Lara! — when thine own is known,
Doubt not my fitting answer to requite
The unlook'd for courtesy of such a knight.
'Tis Lara! — further wouldst thou mark or ask?
I shun no question, and I wear no mask."
"Thou shunn'st no question! Ponder — is there none
Thy heart must answer, though thine ear would shun?
And deem'st thou me unknown too? Gaze again!
At least thy memory was not given in vain.
Oh! never canst thou cancel half her debt,
Eternity forbids thee to forget."
With slow and searching glance upon his face
Grew Lara's eyes, but nothing there could trace
They knew, or chose to know — with dubious look
He deign'd no answer, but his head he shook,
And half contemptuous turn'd to pass away;
But the stern stranger motion'd him to stay.
"A word! — I charge thee stay, and answer here
To one, who, wert thou noble, were thy peer,
But as thou wast and art — nay, frown not, lord,
If false, 'tis easy to disprove the word —
But as thou wast and art, on thee looks down,
Distrusts thy smiles, but shakes not at thy frown.
Art thou not he? whose deeds — "
"Whate'er I be,
Words wild as these, accusers like to thee,
I list no further; those with whom they weigh
May hear the rest, nor venture to gainsay
The wondrous tale no doubt thy tongue can tell,
Which thus begins courteously and well.
Let Otho cherish here his polish'd guest,
To him my thanks and thoughts shall be express'd."
And here their wondering host hath interposed —
"Whate'er there be between you undisclosed,
This is no time nor fitting place to mar
The mirthful meeting with a wordy war.
If thou, Sir Ezzelin, hast ought to show
Which it befits Count Lara's ear to know,
To-morrow, here, or elsewhere, as may best
Beseem your mutual judgment, speak the rest;
I pledge myself for thee, as not unknown,
Though, like Count Lara, now return'd alone
From other lands, almost a stranger grown;
And if from Lara's blood and gentle birth
I augur right of courage and of worth,
He will not that untainted line belie,
Nor aught that knighthood may accord deny."
"To-morrow be it," Ezzelin replied,
"And here our several worth and truth be tried:
I gage my life, my falchion to attest
My words, so may I mingle with the blest!"
What answers Lara? to its centre shrunk
His soul, in deep abstraction sudden sunk;
The words of many, and the eyes of all
That there were gather'd, seem'd on him to fall;
But his were silent, his appear'd to stray
In far forgetfulness away — away —
Alas! that heedlessness of all around
Bespoke remembrance only too profound.

XXIV.

"To-morrow! — ay, to-morrow!" — further word
Than those repeated none from Lara heard;
Upon his brow no outward passion spoke,
From his large eye no flashing anger broke;
Yet there was something fix'd in that low tone
Which shew'd resolve, determined, though unknown.
He seized his cloak — his head he slightly bow'd,
And passing Ezzelin he left the crowd;
And as he pass'd him, smiling met the frown
With which that chieftain's brow would bear him down:
It was nor smile of mirth, nor struggling pride
That curbs to scorn the wrath it cannot hide;
But that of one in his own heart secure
Of all that he would do, or could endure.
Could this mean peace? the calmness of the good?
Or guilt grown old in desperate hardihood?
Alas! too like in confidence are each
For man to trust to mortal look or speech;
From deeds, and deeds alone, may he discern
Truths which it wrings the unpractised heart to learn.

XXV.

And Lara call'd his page, and went his way —
Well could that stripling word or sign obey:
His only follower from those climes afar
Where the soul glows beneath a brighter star;
For Lara left the shore from whence he sprung,
In duty patient, and sedate though young;
Silent as him he served, his fate appears
Above his station, and beyond his years.
Though not unknown the tongue of Lara's land,
In such from him he rarely heard command;
But fleet his step, and clear his tones would come,
When Lara's lip breathed forth the words of home:
Those accents, as his native mountains dear,
Awake their absent echoes in his ear,
Friends', kindreds', parents', wonted voice recall,
Now lost, abjured, for one — his friend, his all:
For him earth now disclosed no other guide;
What marvel then he rarely left his side?

XXVI.

Light was his form, and darkly delicate
That brow whereon his native sun had sate,
But had not marr'd, though in his beams he grew,
The cheek where oft the unbidden blush shone through;
Yet not such blush as mounts when health would show
All the heart's hue in that delighted glow;
But 'twas a hectic tint of secret care
That for a burning moment fever'd there;
And the wild sparkle of his eye seem'd caught
From high, and lighten'd with electric thought,
Though its black orb those long low lashes' fringe
Had temper'd with a melancholy tinge;
Yet less of sorrow than of pride was there,
Or, if 'twere grief, a grief that none should share:
And pleased not him the sports that please his age,
The tricks of youth, the frolics of the page;
For hours on Lara he would fix his glance,
As all-forgotten in that watchful trance;
And from his chief withdrawn, he wander'd lone,
Brief were his answers, and his questions none;
His walk the wood, his sport some foreign book;
His resting-place the bank that curbs the brook;
He seem'd, like him he served, to live apart
From all that lures the eye, and fills the heart;
To know no brotherhood; and take from earth
No gift beyond that bitter boon — our birth.

XXVII.

If aught he loved, 'twas Lara; but was shown
His faith in reverence and in deeds alone;
In mute attention; and his care, which guess'd
Each wish, fulfill'd it ere the tongue express'd.
Still there was haughtiness in all he did,
A spirit deep that brook'd not to be chid;
His zeal, though more than that of servile hands,
In act alone obeys, his air commands;
As if 'twas Lara's less than /his/ desire
That thus he served, but surely not for hire.
Slight were the tasks enjoin'd him by his lord,
To hold the stirrup, or to bear the sword;
To tune his lute, or, if he will'd it more,
On tomes of other times and tongues to pore;
But ne'er to mingle with the menial train,
To whom he shew'd not deference nor disdain,
But that well-worn reserve which proved he knew
No sympathy with that familiar crew:
His soul, whate'er his station or his stem,
Could bow to Lara, not descend to them.
Of higher birth he seem'd, and better days,
Nor mark of vulgar toil that hand betrays,
So femininely white it might bespeak
Another sex, when match'd with that smooth cheek,
But for his garb, and something in his gaze,
More wild and high than woman's eye betrays;
A latent fierceness that far more became
His fiery climate than his tender frame:
True, in his words it broke not from his breast,
But from his aspect might be more than guess'd.
Kaled his name, though rumour said he bore
Another ere he left his mountain shore;
For sometimes he would hear, however nigh,
That name repeated loud without reply,
As unfamiliar, or, if roused again,
Start to the sound, as but remember'd then;
Unless 'twas Lara's wonted voice that spake,
For then, ear, eyes, and heart would all awake.

XXVIII.

He had look'd down upon the festive hall,
And mark'd that sudden strife so mark'd of all;
And when the crowd around and near him told
Their wonder at the calmness of the bold,
Their marvel how the high-born Lara bore
Such insult from a stranger, doubly sore,
The colour of young Kaled went and came,
The lip of ashes, and the cheek of flame;
And o'er his brow the dampening heart-drops threw
The sickening iciness of that cold dew
That rises as the busy bosom sinks
With heavy thoughts from which reflection shrinks.
Yes — there be things which we must dream and dare
And execute ere thought be half aware:
Whate'er might Kaled's be, it was enow
To seal his lip, but agonise his brow.
He gazed on Ezzelin till Lara cast
That sidelong smile upon on the knight he pass'd;
When Kaled saw that smile his visage fell,
As if on something recognised right well;
His memory read in such a meaning more
Than Lara's aspect unto others wore.
Forward he sprung — a moment, both were gone,
And all within that hall seem'd left alone;
Each had so fix'd his eye on Lara's mien,
All had so mix'd their feelings with that scene,
That when his long dark shadow through the porch
No more relieves the glare of yon high torch,
Each pulse beats quicker, and all bosoms seem
To bound as doubting from too black a dream,
Such as we know is false, yet dread in sooth,
Because the worst is ever nearest truth.
And they are gone — but Ezzelin is there,
With thoughtful visage and imperious air;
But long remain'd not; ere an hour expired
He waved his hand to Otho, and retired.

XXIX.

The crowd are gone, the revellers at rest;
The courteous host, and all-approving guest,
Again to that accustom'd couch must creep
Where joy subsides, and sorrow sighs to sleep,
And man, o'erlabour'd with his being's strife,
Shrinks to that sweet forgetfulness of life:
There lie love's feverish hope. and cunning's guile,
Hate's working brain and lull'd ambition's wile;
O'er each vain eye oblivion's pinions wave,
And quench'd existence crouches in a grave.
What better name may slumber's bed become?
Night's sepulchre, the universal home,
Where weakness, strength, vice, virtue, sunk supine,
Alike in naked helplessness recline;
Glad for awhile to heave unconscious breath,
Yet wake to wrestle with the dread of death,
And shun, though day but dawn on ills increased,
That sleep, the loveliest, since it dreams the least.

poem by from Lara (1815)Report problemRelated quotes
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