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I think we'll always have newspapers, but they'll lose influence.

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Rush has never been a spontaneous group. We may be spontaneous in our writing, we may be spontaneous as individuals in our day to day lives... certainly I think am and always have been, but I think when it comes to Rush and our presentation of our music it's quite controlled.

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Patrick White

Don't Think I Owed It To Myself, But I Have Endured

Don't think I owed it to myself, but I have endured.
Scarred and broken and as full of escarpments
some bad mason laid in like a Cubist stairwell
in the Canadian Shield. Experience the sum
of all my failures, it's a strange book to quote from.
I tell people not to listen to anything but their own hearts,
but they take that as a sign of creative sincerity
and continue to listen out of the corners of their lives,
defying my unmastery by paying stricter attention.
You'd think someone who had lived sixty four years the hard way
like a wild mountain goat on a high, noble path
the rest of the herd doesn't take much anymore
as they did when the more siderealized shepherds
used to drive them to the Zen pastures of the moon,
would have his act down pat by now.

Still got a few gamma ray bursts of demonic energy
left in me yet, a black revolver of comets left in the clip
to take a few more pot shots on a drive by at the sun just for fun
as it's going down like a mailbox at the side of the road
with a waning rooster painted on it like a fire hydrant.
You can spend your whole life as preparation
for a moment that never comes. Some people
don't want to catch up to their star.
They just want to follow it as far as they can go.
They want to explore the offroad mysteries along the way.
Some ghosts radiate like well known constellations
and others roses in the dark that are just as happy to emanate.

Not in the habit of judging the ashes of others
by their constellations or their urns,
I've had more of a precessional inclination
to scatter them like seagulls on the wind
just to watch them hover motionless over a precipice,
each fixed in space like a mobile of sheet music
or the paradigmatic silence of a symphony
living the moment like a riff in the heart of time.
Wherever I've gone I've tried to leave signs
of where I'd been as delusory clues for those
sleeping walking in their delusional lostness,
roomy, lunar waterpalaces of the mind to move into
with more infinitely spacious windows
than there are condemned houses
in the slums of the usual zodiac of clockwork origins.

Not infrequently I can see time in a better light
than it deserves, and I like people that have been
sand blasted in the tide like a piece of broken glass
that washed up on the beach without losing its translucency.
An alumnus of the underground schools
for the occult science of new moons,
every moment of my life since
I've been the master apprentice of my own dark beginnings.
The serpent fire at the base of my spine woke up
like a fire alarm in the hallway of a burning house
shrieking for life at the window, and my vertebrae,
playing by ear, the silver-tongued flute,
and the picture-music within me, the snake-charmer,
swaying like a river reed going with the flow
to keep me on the same wavelength as lightning
looking for a place to strike, intrigued and alive.

It's the arrogance of consciousness to think
it's anymore than an eddy in the mindstream
that's got intimate connections with the greater sea of awareness
it's heading toward like a maple leaf with a flightplan
that's got nothing to do with how things fall out.
The world turns and things are relegated
to stolen milk cartons like old albums weaned
from the nippled turn tables of a breast implant.
The past is a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces
keep changing shape like the fossils of a man
who isn't comfortable in his death bed.

Over the course of time this vale of tears
slowly evaporates spiritually into the heat
like heart-shaped morning glory leaves
steaming into the dawn
like ghosts that had to get back to their graves,
arising off the lake like a mass exorcism,
or the third eye of the sun that shines at midnight
from the bottom up on the roots of the earth
as if it were trying to teach blind, star-nosed moles
to see the stars burning in the day
from the bottom of a dry housewell
that echoes like a firefly in the spider mount
of a hollow telescope listening to the cosmic hiss
of a message it's waiting to receive
that's already been delivered
like a star that's strong and true,
but apocalyptically behind the times
as if one person's past were another person's present
and past and future and present
were all living co-terminously in the moment
like the triune identity of time looking three ways,
and probably more if you were take its lifemask off,
simultaneously, so when the wind blows
through my musical skull in this celestial desert of stars
because I listen attentively to the lyrics
like a nightbird waiting for an answer
to its amorous enquiry, I know I'm not
singing out of my ears just to overhear myself talk.
My world's been complete since the Big Bang
and everything after, the prophetic echo
of a future memory of cosmic events
that happened without me billions of light years ago.

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You'll Always Have Me

The hurting time has come
And now your whole world has come undone
When youyou lose your heart you can't go on
What you think is love is really, really not that strong
Chorus:
When you're all alone and need someone around
Just remember I won't let you down
When you finally find just what you're looking for
They close a door, someone has set you free
You'll always have me
There's no use to pretend
Just gotta find the strength to start again
'Cause when you lose it all, it's so unfair
When you're down and out, you call me and I'll be there
(Chorus)
Ooh don't slip away
When darkness comes you realize
(Solo)
(Chorus)

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We Will Always Have the Ocean

And she said,
while he stood there
with tomorrow in his suitcase
and yesterday disappearing as vapor on the hot street

'We will always have the ocean'

The trees
with their branches swaying overhead, lied
shedding their leaves like tears at summers end

Warm breezes, carressing and seducing
as we lay in the dark with our secrets
became fickle and turned cold and unforgiving

Even the moon
which bathed us in her cool, white river
betrayed us in the end

But the ocean is our constant-
Our rushing forward and our standing apart
The salty crashing together
and now
our falling back
our steady flow to another shore

Let all of nature break the promises she made
We will always have the ocean

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Always Have, Always Will

Always have, always will
I was mesmerised when I first met you
Wouldnt let myself believe
The you could step right out of my wildest dreams
But you didnt know
That secret part of me
Until we kissed and made it open up so easily
I always have
Even when it didnt show
I always will
You know that I just wanna touch you
Whenever youre close to me
I always have
Doesnt matter where we go
I always will
You know that I just wanna show you
Just how much you mean to me
Always have, always will
Everything that you give in to
Everything youll ever need
Is locked up somewhere deep inside of me
And you gotta know
But more importantly
Youve got to stay and hold me while we live this fantasy
I always have
Even when it didnt show
I always will
You know that I just wanna touch you
Whenever youre close to me
I always have
Doesnt matter where we go
I always will
You know that I just wanna show you
Just how much you mean to me
Sometimes we try too hard to please
We should have let love come naturally
And sometimes I dont know
Just what you really do to me
That is okay
cause its all part of the mystery
I always have
Even when it didnt show
I always will
You know that I just wanna touch you
Whenever youre close to me
I always have
Doesnt matter where we go
I always will
You know that I just wanna show you
Just how much you mean to me
Always have, always will

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I Have Only but One Audience for My Daft and Inane Efforts

I have only but one audience for my daft and inane efforts in 'explanations'……. and its u.
Not as valiant, not as polished, not as commanding as …….
Fear of rejection and critique overwhelm my better judgment
Will I go to the grave with my knowledge and power?
becoz I have not grown, am still a servant even though I own it all
Untill that day……..

Remember them days wen we were young, timid and wild all at once
The wrld was our stage and we played the stars so well
we could be millionaires from the box office figures
We were the main stars of our lives the heroes and not the vilains.
the supporting cast were a hindrance most times
Adding that suspense, that excitement sending adrenalin shocks into the mainstream
but in the end only cinderella has a happy ending, life is never a fairytale
The epilogue sent us home leaking through our eyes
the streams of salty waters would just not stop
Replaying the act in the mind, tiresome and weary
the vivid images of the your hands on my hips and
the closenes of your heart to my full breast
Only bring confusion and the need and
the passion to replay again all at the same time
Engraved in the heart are the seemingly powerful messages and
bright moments that forever are hidden in my soul

I like the sonets the imagery the irony
Make it clean and simple the layman will get the point even inspiration can overwhelm him
Timidity naïvity maybe but raw fresh and youthfull adolescent and green,
will bloom in the latter like Job of old
Dickens of the 19th century with all the genoiusity (complicated mind, maturity, not necessarily all knowing, witty and brainy)
will need tutor dor on hip hop culture
Freedom of mind exploring the virgin territory unknown posibilities
and intergrating the forbiden and the norm never afraid of an escapade
Evolution thru progressive action with the pen and paper
no longer stagnent but advancing and bringing fruitition
The yoyo man in the eyes of the aged is uncultured bad mannerd
and not at all patriotic but intensely hooked to foreign ideologies
Filled with reverence but not worshiping
the young lad with a free will and mind will certainly be at logerheads always with the grey haired ones
Thesaurus has no explanation for his burning desire and craze for literature

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You Always Have A Friend In Me

You always have a friend in me
Weather it is to go for a walk outside together
And get some fresh air

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Always Have Courage

Always have courage my friends
Because it is not too late to built a better world
So that we can live it together with our families and friends

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I Think I've Always Loved You

I think I've always loved you
and think about it, I do.
Wherever you decided to go
I went along with you.
I never questioned where we were going.
I did not need to know.

I think I've always loved you
even before we met.
Wherever I decided to look
I always looked for you.
I never allowed myself indecision.
Faith was all it took.

For a little faith goes a long, long way.
It brought me to the time when I can say
'I know I've always loved you.'

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Misconseptions

beautiful people are supposed to get far in life
they dont have any pain, hate or strife
their days go perfect
at least that's what people think
oh yeah dont forget about all those winks
everyone loves them and they get everything they want
but the deep dark secret no one knows?
is that they have to hunt
is it for the person they are or is it the person they want to become?
people will always have misconseptions
but this is the worst
for beautiful people are just people who get looked at first.

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That Old Thing? It's No You

I spent the night twiddling around on my guitar
A night when I should have been talking to her
Sure, she'll listen to me play
But I think she'd listen to anything I have to say
And this guitar will get old and worn
And the strings will rust
And the neck will crack
And the wood will warp
And playing this guitar gives me callus fingertips
But my girl, she's the one that soothed me when I was forlorn
She's the one I can always trust
I think she will always have my back
Even when I know it's not true, she'll tell me I'm always looking sharp
And she's the one of I sing for, when the song comes from my lips

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Always Have Always Will

If youre wondering if your love
Will stand the test of time
Im here to tell you I can put your mind at ease
Aint nothing in the whole wide world that could ever make me leave
How could I ever walk away
Darlin I need your love each and every day
Always have, always will
If you should ask me do I love you still
Without shame without blame
I always have and always will
I always have and always will
I remember, there were times
When my heart could not conceive
Something so beautiful bould happen in this life
A precious gift to me worth and sacrifice
There is no doubt or mystery
Its obvious that you mean everything to me
Always have, always will
It was almost like your heart called out my name
I was helpless from the start
I knew right there and then Id never be the same
Never never
Id never be the same

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Always The Bride, But Not The Groom

Always the bride, but not the groom
that is what I became
when I went to a Wedding in October.
We went to the wedding,
then along to the reception.
I stood talking to a couple of friends
and the bride rushed in and said to me.
“Dave look after these for me“
She then commenced to hand me
her bridal bouquet and handbag.
One of our friends Donall
gave me a hug and kiss
and asked me to marry him.
His partner Janice grabbed her camera
and took a photo of me,
bridal bouquet in one hand, handbag in the other
and a lopsided smile from the mouth ulcer I had.
Right there and then I became a bride, but not the groom.


20 November 2008

Author’s note:
I dedicate this poem to:
Janice Windle (who took the photo)
Donall Dempsey (who planted the kiss)
Tara (the real bride for dropping me in it.)

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A Question Mark

I got a question mark
A got a need to always take some shoot in the dark
I dont have to make pretend the picture Im in is totally clear
You think that all things have a way they ought to appear
cos you know you know you know you know
You know you know you know you know you know
I dont
I dream
Dont know what you mean
Panic called you out and took you in
Giving you an easy game and letting you win
Youre giving back a little hatred now to the world
cos it treated you bad
cod you couldnt keep the great unknown from making you mad
cos you know you know you know you know
You know you know you know you know you know
I dont
I dream
Dont know what you mean
Said your final word, but honesty and love couldve kept us together
One day youll see its worth it after all
If you ever want to say youre sorry you can give me a call

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Think I'm Gonna Have a Baby

Platform shoes on table tops
I think I'm gonna be a lady
Opinions flyin' right and left
I think I'm gonna tell him maybe
They're puttin' out too many phonograph records
I think I'm gonna have a baby, a baby
I wouldn't be naughty for the sake of naught
Or be different just to differ
I wouldn't sell myself just to get bought
Or give to just deliver
They're puttin' out too many phonograph records
I think I want to be a river, be a river...
Rivers do such nice things, they roll to the sea
When I am a river then I'll want to listen to me
So you pick me up, and you tune me up
And you wind me up and play me
You talk about heart, and you say you know soul
And the way to treat a lady
You're puttin' out too many phonograph records
I think I'm gonna have a baby, a baby
Babys do such nice things, they rock on your knee
When I was a baby my rockin' was something to see

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I Always Have Loved Mother Nature

I always have loved Mother Nature ever since I was a boy
And a thing of Natural beauty is always a thing of joy
And the mysteries of Nature is a mysterious thing
There is far more to any bird than the song it does sing
I always have loved Nature though my wonderment of her grow
And the more I learn about her the less about her I know I know
From humankind Mother Nature her secrets she hides away
And from our walks in Nature we learn every day
The only true immortal of which we will ever know
Us people like her Seasons to life we come and from life we go
I always have loved Nature and in that I'm not alone
Her secrets hidden in every bush and tree and hedge and under every stone
Her mighty rivers from her hills to her great oceans flow
And she has been around long before plants on her first did grow
In her bosom with all other life forms I will also lay
And I will love Nature till my last living day.

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Who Do These People Think They Are

Who do these people think they are they take far more than they give?
They rule the World through their Bureaucracies and they tell us how to live
The tycoons of the twenty first century their financial nest egg grow and grow
In a World where millions live in poverty of poverty they do not wish to know.

They believe in free markets and their pet subject free trade
And in their dealings with Third World Countries millions in money they have made
But they do not believe in the free movement of people or in homes for refugees
When confronted with these subjects they do seem ill at ease.

They control big Government and tell them what to do
And that money speaks all languages so happens to be true
And whilst they grow rich and richer and more financially secure
The have nots of the World so sad to say grow poor.

Who do these people think they are for to satisfy their greed
They take and take and too few of them think of those who are in need
And most of the World's assets with the very wealthy few
And the poor keep getting poorer only happens to be true.

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You are much more than what you think you are, you have much more than what you think you have

You are not
What you think you are
You are just the force
Operating a robot
Whose physical and
Chemical dimensions
Are determined by
A permutation and combination
Of certain amino-acids
You are not
What you think you are

You are not
What you think you are
You are not a female or male
You are not a daughter or son
You are not a sister of brother
You are not a mother or father
You own not a thing
You belong to one
Nothing is yours
None is yours
The only thing you own
Is you

As said elsewhere
You are born a daughter or son
Only to the nature’s desire
To ensure continuity
Of a particular
Genetic system

Your emotions are thus unreal
Your pleasures are unreal
Your pains are unreal
Your sorrows are unreal
All keep changing
With your change with
Your attitude and out look
The only thing unchanging and real in you
Is you

You are placed in this robot
And operating it
Just to accomplish the
Unmet desires that you
Were nursing
Earlier in yet another robot,
Or in previous birth,
As some learned say
And if you so believe

Remain just a witness
To what all happening
Stay emotion free
Stay fear free
Stay in confidence
Stay in peace
Stay in balance
You will see
Great things got
Achieved by your
Effectively operating
The robot, wherein
You are placed

You are not
What you think
That you are
You are much more
Than what you think you are
You have much more
Than what you think you have

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Bible in Poetry: Gospel of St. Matthew (Chapter 26)

Then Jesus told His disciples,
‘’Twill be Pass-ov’r in two days’ time;
The Son of Man will handed be
Over to them who crucify! ’

So, chief priests and all elders there
Assembled in Caiaphas’ palace.
They consulted with the high priest
On how to arrest Jesus by
Treachery and put Him to death.
They decided not to do so,
During the festival-time as
A riot, people could then cause.

In Bethany, while Jesus was
Within Simon, the leper’s house,
There came a woman with a jar
Of costly, perfumed oil and poured
It on his head while he reclined.

His disciples grew indignant
And asked, ‘Why waste such costly oil?
The money could have been given
Better to poor as charity! ’

As Jesus knew this, He told them,
‘Don’t you trouble the woman as,
A good thing for me, done, she has! ’

‘The poor can always have you but
You’ll not have me with you always.
By pouring oil on my body,
She prepared it for burial! ’

‘Amen, amen, I say to you,
Wherever this gospel is proclaimed
On earth, her act will be retold,
And lauded in her memory.’

Then one amongst the Twelve, Judas
Iscariot went to the chief priests
And asked, ‘What will you give to me,
If I hand him over to you? ’
They paid him thirty silver coins.
From that time onwards, he looked for
A chance to hand Jesus over.

When on the first day of the Feast
Of Unleavened Bread, disciples
Asked, ‘Where do you want us to prepare
For you to eat the Passover? ’

Then Jesus directed them to,
Go see a certain man and tell:
‘My teacher says his time draws near;
He’ll celebrate the Passover,
With his disciples in your house.’

His disciples did as ordered;
They prepared for the Passover;
By evening, Jesus sat with Twelve,
And while eating it, He told them,
‘One amongst you will betray me! ’
Upset, they all began to say,
‘Surely it cannot be I, Lord.’

He said, ‘He who has dipped his hand
Into the dish with me is him!
The Son of Man indeed thus goes,
But woe to him who this thing does;
Better for him not to be born.’

His betrayer Judas then said,
‘Surely, it is not I, Rabbi! ’
‘You have said so, ’ then Jesus told.

While eating, Jesus took the bread
And blessing it, He broke and said,
‘This is my body, Take and eat.’

Then, Jesus took the cup of wine,
Gave thanks and giving it to them,
Said, ‘Drink from it, all of you here.
This is my blood of covenant,
That will be shed for many’s sake,
For forgiveness of any sin! ’

‘From now onwards, I shall not drink,
The fruit of vine, until the day,
I drink it new with you, I say,
In kingdom of my Father, Aye! ’

They sang a hymn and climbed the mount.
He said to them, ‘Tonight, your faith
In me will shaken be as writ:
Ill strike the Shepherd, and the sheep
And entire flock will be dispersed.
But after I have been raised up,
‘Fore you, Ill go to Galilee! ’

But Peter said in reply, ‘Lord,
Though all may have their faith shaken,
My faith in you will same remain.’

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Amen,
Tonight before the cock has crowed,
Three times, you would have me denied.’
But Peter said, ‘Ev’n if I die,
I will not deny you at all.’
And all disciples spoke alike!

Then Jesus entered Gethsemane;
He asked his disciples to pray.
He took along with Him, Peter
And the two sons of Zebedee
And felt sorrow and great distress.

He said, ‘My soul is sorrowful
Ev’n unto death. Remain with me
And keep a watch with me all here.’

He walked a bit and fell prostrate
In prayer to His dear Father,
‘If possible, let this cup pass
Away from me, not as I will
But as You will! ’

When he returned to disciples,
He found them all in slumber fast.
He asked of Peter, ‘Couldn’t you watch
And keep vigil for just one hour? ’
‘Watch and pray to avoid the test.
The spirit wills but flesh is weak! ’

Then Jesus went and prayed again,
‘My Father, if this cup must pass
And I must drink, thy will be done! ’

He found them all asleep again.
They could not keep their eyes open;
He went to pray for a third time,
And said the same thing all again.

Returning to his disciples,
He asked them, ‘You sleep and rest still?
Behold, the hour is nearing fast
When Son of man is handed to
Sinners by my betrayer soon.’

While He was speaking thus, Judas,
One of the Twelve came to Jesus,
And following him, a crowd with swords
And clubs, chief priests, elders like herds!

His betrayer had pre-arranged
A sign with them- ‘the man he kissed
Was Jesus and to arrest Him! ’

So, Judas went to Jesus, said,
‘Hail, Rabbi! ’ And Him, he had kissed.
Then Jesus told to him, ‘Dear friend,
Do what you have come for and end.’

They came forward and laid their hands
On Jesus and arrested Him.
And one of Jesus’ followers
Drew out his sword and struck the ear,
Of high priest’s servant and cut it!

Then Jesus advised him to put
His sword back in its sheath and said,
‘All who take swords, shall perish so! ’
Do you think that I cannot call
My Father at this moment to
Provide me angels, legions twelve? ’

But then, how would the scriptures be
Fulfilled which say,
That it must come to pass this way? ’

Then Jesus told the crowds that came
Have you come with sword, clubs, to seize
Like a robber, when with much ease,
You did not arrest me those days,
I sat teaching in temple place? ’

But all this has to come to pass,
So that the prophets’ writings may
Be fulfilled in its time and way.’
His disciples had left and fled!

They arrested Jesus and led
To Caiaphas, high priest and the head,
While scribes and elders assembled.
But Peter followed him as far
As, the high priest’s courtyard and where
He sat with servants and entire
Sanhedrin and chief priests did dare
To obtain false evidence for
Putting Jesus to death on cross!

They brought many false witnesses
But could not gather trespasses;
And finally came two forward
And said, ‘This man had told he would
Destroy the temple of the God
And within three days, it rebuild! ’

The high priest asked, ‘Can you answer?
What are they testifying here?
But Jesus stood in grave silence.
The high priest ordered Jesus hence,
To speak on oath and with good sense,
Before the living God whether,
He was his Son and Messiah? ’

So, Jesus said in reply then,
‘You’ve said so, but I tell you men
You will see the son of Man in Heaven
Seated at the right hand of the Power
And coming within clouds’ cover.’

The high priest tore Jesus’ robes
And shouted, ‘He has blasphemed, yes,
Why do we need more witnesses?
You have all heard his trespasses! ’
‘What is your opinion? ’ He asked.

They said together, ‘He must die! ’
Upon His face, some of them spat;
Some others struck Him and some slapped,
And asked Him, ‘Prophesy, who struck? ’

Outside the courtyard, Peter sat;
A maid came ov’r to Him, said, ‘What,
I saw you too with Jesus there! ’

In front of all, Peter denied,
And said, ‘I don’t know what you talk about! ’
He went out of the gate but then,
Another girl saw Him and said,
‘This man was with the Nazarene! ’
Then Peter under oath denied.
I do not know the man! ’ he lied.

Some by-standers then told Peter,
‘You surely are one or other;
Your speech gives you away, brother! ’
Then Peter cursed and swore that he
Ne’er knew the man nor did him see! ’
The cock then crowed immediately!

Then Peter remembered the words
That Jesus had spoken earlier:
Before the cock crows, you will then
Deny me three times, before men! ’
He went out and wept bitterly!

Copyright by Dr John Celes 6-14-2007

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The Plea Of The Midsummer Fairies

I

'Twas in that mellow season of the year
When the hot sun singes the yellow leaves
Till they be gold,—and with a broader sphere
The Moon looks down on Ceres and her sheaves;
When more abundantly the spider weaves,
And the cold wind breathes from a chillier clime;—
That forth I fared, on one of those still eves,
Touch'd with the dewy sadness of the time,
To think how the bright months had spent their prime,


II

So that, wherever I address'd my way,
I seem'd to track the melancholy feet
Of him that is the Father of Decay,
And spoils at once the sour weed and the sweet;—
Wherefore regretfully I made retreat
To some unwasted regions of my brain,
Charm'd with the light of summer and the heat,
And bade that bounteous season bloom again,
And sprout fresh flowers in mine own domain.


III

It was a shady and sequester'd scene,
Like those famed gardens of Boccaccio,
Planted with his own laurels evergreen,
And roses that for endless summer blow;
And there were fountain springs to overflow
Their marble basins,—and cool green arcades
Of tall o'erarching sycamores, to throw
Athwart the dappled path their dancing shades,—
With timid coneys cropping the green blades.


IV

And there were crystal pools, peopled with fish,
Argent and gold; and some of Tyrian skin,
Some crimson-barr'd;—and ever at a wish
They rose obsequious till the wave grew thin
As glass upon their backs, and then dived in,
Quenching their ardent scales in watery gloom;
Whilst others with fresh hues row'd forth to win
My changeable regard,—for so we doom
Things born of thought to vanish or to bloom.


V

And there were many birds of many dyes,
From tree to tree still faring to and fro,
And stately peacocks with their splendid eyes,
And gorgeous pheasants with their golden glow,
Like Iris just bedabbled in her bow,
Beside some vocalists, without a name,
That oft on fairy errands come and go,
With accents magical;—and all were tame,
And peckled at my hand where'er I came.


VI

And for my sylvan company, in lieu
Of Pampinea with her lively peers,
Sate Queen Titania with her pretty crew,
All in their liveries quaint, with elfin gears,
For she was gracious to my childish years,
And made me free of her enchanted round;
Wherefore this dreamy scene she still endears,
And plants her court upon a verdant mound,
Fenced with umbrageous woods and groves profound.


VII

'Ah me,' she cries, 'was ever moonlight seen
So clear and tender for our midnight trips?
Go some one forth, and with a trump convene
My lieges all!'—Away the goblin skips
A pace or two apart, and deftly strips
The ruddy skin from a sweet rose's cheek,
Then blows the shuddering leaf between his lips,
Making it utter forth a shrill small shriek,
Like a fray'd bird in the gray owlet's beak.


VIII

And lo! upon my fix'd delighted ken
Appear'd the loyal Fays.—Some by degrees
Crept from the primrose buds that open'd then,
Ana some from bell-shaped blossoms like the bees,
Some from the dewy meads, and rushy leas,
Flew up like chafers when the rustics pass;
Some from the rivers, others from tall trees
Dropp'd, like shed blossoms, silent to the grass,
Spirits and elfins small, of every class.


IX

Peri and Pixy, and quaint Puck the Antic,
Brought Robin Goodfellow, that merry swain;
And stealthy Mab, queen of old realms romantic,
Came too, from distance, in her tiny wain,
Fresh dripping from a cloud—some bloomy rain,
Then circling the bright Moon, had wash'd her car,
And still bedew'd it with a various stain:
Lastly came Ariel, shooting from a star,
Who bears all fairy embassies afar.


X

But Oberon, that night elsewhere exiled,
Was absent, whether some distemper'd spleen
Kept him and his fair mate unreconciled,
Or warfare with the Gnome (whose race had been
Sometime obnoxious), kept him from his queen,
And made her now peruse the starry skies
Prophetical, with such an absent mien;
Howbeit, the tears stole often to her eyes,
And oft the Moon was incensed with her sighs—


XI

Which made the elves sport drearily, and soon
Their hushing dances languish'd to a stand,
Like midnight leaves, when, as the Zephyrs swoon,
All on their drooping stems they sink unfann'd,—
So into silence droop'd the fairy band,
To see their empress dear so pale and still,
Crowding her softly round on either hand,
As pale as frosty snowdrops, and as chill,
To whom the sceptred dame reveals her ill.


XII

'Alas,' quoth she, 'ye know our fairy lives
Are leased upon the fickle faith of men;
Not measured out against Fate's mortal knives,
Like human gosamers,—we perish when
We fade and are forgot in worldly kens—
Though poesy has thus prolong'd our date,
Thanks be to the sweet Bard's auspicious pen
That rescued us so long!—howbeit of late
I feel some dark misgivings of our fate.'


XIII

'And this dull day my melancholy sleep
Hath been so thronged with images of woe,
That even now I cannot choose but weep
To think this was some sad prophetic show
Of future horror to befall us so,
Of mortal wreck and uttermost distress,
Yea, our poor empire's fall and overthrow,
For this was my long vision's dreadful stress,
And when I waked my trouble was not less.'


XIV

'Whenever to the clouds I tried to seek,
Such leaden weight dragg'd these Icarian wings,
My faithless wand was wavering and weak,
And slimy toads had trespass'd in our rings—
The birds refused to sing for me—all things
Disown'd their old allegiance to our spells;
The rude bees prick'd me with their rebel stings;
And, when I pass'd, the valley-lily's bells
Rang out, methought, most melancholy knells.'


XV

'And ever on the faint and flagging air
A doleful spirit with a dreary note
Cried in my fearful ear, 'Prepare! prepare!'
Which soon I knew came from a raven's throat,
Perch'd on a cypress-bough not far remote,—
A cursed bird, too crafty to be shot,
That alway cometh with his soot-black coat
To make hearts dreary:—for he is a blot
Upon the book of life, as well ye wot!—'


XVI

'Wherefore some while I bribed him to be mute,
With bitter acorns stuffing his foul maw,
Which barely I appeased, when some fresh bruit
Startled me all aheap!—and soon I saw
The horridest shape that ever raised my awe,—
A monstrous giant, very huge and tall,
Such as in elder times, devoid of law,
With wicked might grieved the primeval ball,
And this was sure the deadliest of them all!'

XVII

'Gaunt was he as a wolf of Languedoc,
With bloody jaws, and frost upon his crown
So from his barren poll one hoary lock
Over his wrinkled front fell far adown,
Well nigh to where his frosty brows did frown
Like jagged icicles at cottage eaves;
And for his coronal he wore some brown
And bristled ears gather'd from Ceres' sheaves,
Entwined with certain sere and russet leaves.'


XVIII

'And lo! upon a mast rear'd far aloft,
He bore a very bright and crescent blade,
The which he waved so dreadfully, and oft,
In meditative spite, that, sore dismay'd,
I crept into an acorn-cup for shade;
Meanwhile the horrid effigy went by:
I trow his look was dreadful, for it made
The trembling birds betake them to the sky,
For every leaf was lifted by his sigh.'


XIX

'And ever, as he sigh'd, his foggy breath
Blurr'd out the landscape like a flight of smoke:
Thence knew I this was either dreary Death
Or Time, who leads all creatures to his stroke.
Ah wretched me!'—Here, even as she spoke,
The melancholy Shape came gliding in,
And lean'd his back against an antique oak,
Folding his wings, that were so fine and thin,
They scarce were seen against the Dryad's skin.


XX

Then what a fear seized all the little rout!
Look how a flock of panick'd sheep will stare—
And huddle close—and start—and wheel about,
Watching the roaming mongrel here and there,—
So did that sudden Apparition scare
All close aheap those small affrighted things;
Nor sought they now the safety of the air,
As if some leaden spell withheld their wings;
But who can fly that ancientest of Kings?


XXI

Whom now the Queen, with a forestalling tear
And previous sigh, beginneth to entreat,
Bidding him spare, for love, her lieges dear:
'Alas!' quoth she, 'is there no nodding wheat
Ripe for thy crooked weapon, and more meet,—
Or wither'd leaves to ravish from the tree,—
Or crumbling battlements for thy defeat?
Think but what vaunting monuments there be
Builded in spite and mockery of thee.'


XXII

'O fret away the fabric walls of Fame,
And grind down marble Cæsars with the dust:
Make tombs inscriptionless—raze each high name,
And waste old armors of renown with rust:
Do all of this, and thy revenge is just:
Make such decays the trophies of thy prime,
And check Ambition's overweening lust,
That dares exterminating war with Time,—
But we are guiltless of that lofty crime.'


XXIII

'Frail feeble spirits!—the children of a dream!
Leased on the sufferance of fickle men,
Like motes dependent on the sunny beam,
Living but in the sun's indulgent ken,
And when that light withdraws, withdrawing then;—
So do we flutter in the glance of youth
And fervid fancy,—and so perish when
The eye of faith grows aged;—in sad truth,
Feeling thy sway, O Time! though not thy tooth!'


XXIV

'Where be those old divinities forlorn,
That dwelt in trees, or haunted in a stream?
Alas! their memories are dimm'd and torn,
Like the remainder tatters of a dream:
So will it fare with our poor thrones, I deem;—
For us the same dark trench Oblivion delves,
That holds the wastes of every human scheme.
O spare us then,—and these our pretty elves,—
We soon, alas! shall perish of ourselves!'

XXV

Now as she ended, with a sigh, to name
Those old Olympians, scatter'd by the whirl
Of Fortune's giddy wheel and brought to shame,
Methought a scornful and malignant curl
Show'd on the lips of that malicious churl,
To think what noble havocs he had made;
So that I fear'd he all at once would hurl
The harmless fairies into endless shade,—
Howbeit he stopp'd awhile to whet his blade.


XXVI

Pity it was to hear the elfins' wail
Rise up in concert from their mingled dread,
Pity it was to see them, all so pale,
Gaze on the grass as for a dying bed;—
But Puck was seated on a spider's thread,
That hung between two branches of a briar,
And 'gan to swing and gambol, heels o'er head,
Like any Southwark tumbler on a wire,
For him no present grief could long inspire.


XXVII

Meanwhile the Queen with many piteous drops,
Falling like tiny sparks full fast and free,
Bedews a pathway from her throne;—and stops
Before the foot of her arch enemy,
And with her little arms enfolds his knee,
That shows more grisly from that fair embrace;
But she will ne'er depart. 'Alas!' quoth she,
'My painful fingers I will here enlace
Till I have gain'd your pity for our race.'

XXVIII

'What have we ever done to earn this grudge,
And hate—(if not too humble for thy hating?)—
Look o'er our labors and our lives, and judge
If there be any ills of our creating;
For we are very kindly creatures, dating
With nature's charities still sweet and bland:—
O think this murder worthy of debating!'
Herewith she makes a signal with her hand,
To beckon some one from the Fairy band.


XXIX

Anon I saw one of those elfin things,
Clad all in white like any chorister,
Come fluttering forth on his melodious wings,
That made soft music at each little stir,
But something louder than a bee's demur
Before he lights upon a bunch of broom,
And thus 'gan he with Saturn to confer,—
And O his voice was sweet, touch'd with the gloom
Of that sad theme that argued of his doom!


XXX

Quoth he, 'We make all melodies our care,
That no false discords may offend the Sun,
Music's great master—tuning everywhere
All pastoral sounds and melodies, each one
Duly to place and season, so that none
May harshly interfere. We rouse at morn
The shrill sweet lark; and when the day is done,
Hush silent pauses for the bird forlorn,
That singeth with her breast against a thorn.'


XXXI

'We gather in loud choirs the twittering race,
That make a chorus with their single note;
And tend on new-fledged birds in every place,
That duly they may get their tunes by rote;
And oft, like echoes, answering remote,
We hide in thickets from the feather'd throng,
And strain in rivalship each throbbing throat,
Singing in shrill responses all day long,
Whilst the glad truant listens to our song.'


XXXII

'Wherefore, great King of Years, as thou dost love
The raining music from a morning cloud,
When vanish'd larks are carolling above,
To wake Apollo with their pipings loud;—
If ever thou hast heard in leafy shroud
The sweet and plaintive Sappho of the dell,
Show thy sweet mercy on this little crowd,
And we will muffle up the sheepfold bell
Whene'er thou listenest to Philomel.'


XXXIII

Then Saturn thus;—'Sweet is the merry lark,
That carols in man's ear so clear and strong;
And youth must love to listen in the dark
That tuneful elegy of Tereus' wrong;
But I have heard that ancient strain too long,
For sweet is sweet but when a little strange,
And I grow weary for some newer song;
For wherefore had I wings, unless to range
Through all things mutable, from change to change?'


XXXIV

'But would'st thou hear the melodies of Time,
Listen when sleep and drowsy darkness roll
Over hush'd cities, and the midnight chime
Sounds from their hundred clocks, and deep bells toll
Like a last knell over the dead world's soul,
Saying, 'Time shall be final of all things,
Whose late, last voice must elegize the whole,'—
O then I clap aloft my brave broad wings,
And make the wide air tremble while it rings!'


XXXV

Then next a fair Eve-Fay made meek address,
Saying, 'We be the handmaids of the Spring;
In sign whereof, May, the quaint broideress,
Hath wrought her samplers on our gauzy wing.
We tend upon buds birth and blossoming,
And count the leafy tributes that they owe—
As, so much to the earth—so much to fling
In showers to the brook—so much to go
In whirlwinds to the clouds that made them grow.'


XXXVI

'The pastoral cowslips are our little pets,
And daisy stars, whose firmament is green;
Pansies, and those veil'd nuns, meek violets,
Sighing to that warm world from which they screen;
And golden daffodils, pluck'd for May's Queen;
And lonely harebells, quaking on the heath;
And Hyacinth, long since a fair youth seen,
Whose tuneful voice, turn'd fragrance in his breath,
Kiss'd by sad Zephyr, guilty of his death.'


XXXVII

'The widow'd primrose weeping to the moon
And saffron crocus in whose chalice bright
A cool libation hoarded for the noon
Is kept—and she that purifies the light,
The virgin lily, faithful to her white,
Whereon Eve wept in Eden for her shame;
And the most dainty rose, Aurora's spright,
Our every godchild, by whatever name—
Spares us our lives, for we did nurse the same!'


XXXVIII

Then that old Mower stamp'd his heel, and struck
His hurtful scythe against the harmless ground,
Saying, 'Ye foolish imps, when am I stuck
With gaudy buds, or like a wooer crown'd
With flow'ry chaplets, save when they are found
Withered?—Whenever have I pluck'd a rose,
Except to scatter its vain leaves around?
For so all gloss of beauty I oppose,
And bring decay on every flow'r that blows.'


XXXIX

'Or when am I so wroth as when I view
The wanton pride of Summer;—how she decks
The birthday world with blossoms ever-new,
As if Time had not lived, and heap'd great wrecks
Of years on years?—O then I bravely vex
And catch the gay Months in their gaudy plight,
And slay them with the wreaths about their necks,
Like foolish heifers in the holy rite,
And raise great trophies to my ancient might.'


XL

Then saith another, 'We are kindly things,
And like her offspring nestle with the dove,—
Witness these hearts embroidered on our wings,
To show our constant patronage of love:—
We sit at even, in sweet bow'rs above
Lovers, and shake rich odors on the air,
To mingle with their sighs; and still remove
The startling owl, and bid the bat forbear
Their privacy, and haunt some other where.'


XLI

'And we are near the mother when she sits
Beside her infant in its wicker bed;
And we are in the fairy scene that flits
Across its tender brain: sweet dreams we shed,
And whilst the tender little soul is fled,
Away, to sport with our young elves, the while
We touch the dimpled cheek with roses red,
And tickle the soft lips until they smile,
So that their careful parents they beguile.'


XLII

'O then, if ever thou hast breathed a vow
At Love's dear portal, or at pale moon-rise
Crush'd the dear curl on a regardful brow,
That did not frown thee from thy honey prize—
If ever thy sweet son sat on thy thighs,
And wooed thee from thy careful thoughts within
To watch the harmless beauty of his eyes,
Or glad thy fingers on his smooth soft skin,
For Love's dear sake, let us thy pity win!'


XLIII

Then Saturn fiercely thus:—'What joy have I
In tender babes, that have devour'd mine own,
Whenever to the light I heard them cry,
Till foolish Rhea cheated me with stone?
Whereon, till now, is my great hunger shown,
In monstrous dint of my enormous tooth;
And—but the peopled world is too full grown
For hunger's edge—I would consume all youth
At one great meal, without delay or ruth!'


XLIV

'For I am well nigh crazed and wild to hear
How boastful fathers taunt me with their breed,
Saying, 'We shall not die nor disappear,
But, in these other selves, ourselves succeed
Ev'n as ripe flowers pass into their seed
Only to be renew'd from prime to prime,'
All of which boastings I am forced to read,
Besides a thousand challenges to Time,
Which bragging lovers have compiled in rhyme.'


XLV

'Wherefore, when they are sweetly met o' nights,
There will I steal and with my hurried hand
Startle them suddenly from their delights
Before the next encounter hath been plann'd,
Ravishing hours in little minutes spann'd;
But when they say farewell, and grieve apart,
Then like a leaden statue I will stand,
Meanwhile their many tears encrust my dart,
And with a ragged edge cut heart from heart.'


XLVI

Then next a merry Woodsman, clad in green,
Step vanward from his mates, that idly stood
Each at his proper ease, as they had been
Nursed in the liberty of old Shérwood,
And wore the livery of Robin Hood,
Who wont in forest shades to dine and sup,—
So came this chief right frankly, and made good
His haunch against his axe, and thus spoke up,
Doffing his cap, which was an acorn's cup:—


XLVII

'We be small foresters and gay, who tend
On trees, and all their furniture of green,
Training the young boughs airily to bend,
And show blue snatches of the sky between;—
Or knit more close intricacies, to screen
Birds' crafty dwellings, as may hide them best,
But most the timid blackbird's—she that, seen,
Will bear black poisonous berries to her nest,
Lest man should cage the darlings of her breast.'


XLVIII

'We bend each tree in proper attitude,
And founting willows train in silvery falls;
We frame all shady roofs and arches rude,
And verdant aisles leading to Dryads' halls,
Or deep recesses where the Echo calls;—
We shape all plumy trees against the sky,
And carve tall elms' Corinthian capitals,—
When sometimes, as our tiny hatchets ply,
Men say, the tapping woodpecker is nigh.'


XLIX

'Sometimes we scoop the squirrel's hollow cell,
And sometimes carve quaint letters on trees' rind,
That haply some lone musing wight may spell
Dainty Aminta,—Gentle Rosalind,—
Or chastest Laura,—sweetly call'd to mind
In sylvan solitudes, ere he lies down;—
And sometimes we enrich gray stems with twined
And vagrant ivy,—or rich moss, whose brown
Burns into gold as the warm sun goes down.'


L

'And, lastly, for mirth's sake and Christmas cheer,
We bear the seedling berries, for increase,
To graft the Druid oaks, from year to year,
Careful that mistletoe may never cease;—
Wherefore, if thou dost prize the shady peace
Of sombre forests, or to see light break
Through sylvan cloisters, and in spring release
Thy spirit amongst leaves from careful ake,
Spare us our lives for the Green Dryad's sake.'


LI

Then Saturn, with a frown:—'Go forth, and fell
Oak for your coffins, and thenceforth lay by
Your axes for the rust, and bid farewell
To all sweet birds, and the blue peeps of sky
Through tangled branches, for ye shall not spy
The next green generation of the tree;
But hence with the dead leaves, whene'e they fly,—
Which in the bleak air I would rather see,
Than flights of the most tuneful birds that be.'


LII

'For I dislike all prime, and verdant pets,
Ivy except, that on the aged wall
Prays with its worm-like roots, and daily frets
The crumbled tower it seems to league withal,
King-like, worn down by its own coronal:—
Neither in forest haunts love I to won,
Before the golden plumage 'gins to fall,
And leaves the brown bleak limbs with few leaves on,
Or bare—like Nature in her skeleton.'


LIII

'For then sit I amongst the crooked boughs,
Wooing dull Memory with kindred sighs;
And there in rustling nuptials we espouse,
Smit by the sadness in each other's eyes;—
But Hope must have green bowers and blue skies,
And must be courted with the gauds of Spring;
Whilst Youth leans god-like on her lap, and cries,
'What shall we always do, but love and sing?'—
And Time is reckon'd a discarded thing.'


LIV

Here in my dream it made me fret to see
How Puck, the antic, all this dreary while
Had blithely jested with calamity,
With mis-timed mirth mocking the doleful style
Of his sad comrades, till it raised my bile
To see him so reflect their grief aside,
Turning their solemn looks to have a smile—
Like a straight stick shown crooked in the tide;—
But soon a novel advocate I spied.


LV

Quoth he—'We teach all natures to fulfil
Their fore-appointed crafts, and instincts meet,—
The bee's sweet alchemy,—the spider's skill,—
The pismire's care to garner up his wheat,—
And rustic masonry to swallows fleet,—
The lapwing's cunning to preserve her nest,—
But most, that lesser pelican, the sweet
And shrilly ruddock, with its bleeding breast,
Its tender pity of poor babes distrest.'


LVI

'Sometimes we cast our shapes, and in sleek skins
Delve with the timid mole, that aptly delves
From our example; so the spider spins,
And eke the silk-worm, pattern'd by ourselves:
Sometimes we travail on the summer shelves
Of early bees, and busy toils commence,
Watch'd of wise men, that know not we are elves,
But gaze and marvel at our stretch of sense,
And praise our human-like intelligence.'


LVII

'Wherefore, by thy delight in that old tale,
And plaintive dirges the late robins sing,
What time the leaves are scatter'd by the gale,
Mindful of that old forest burying;—
As thou dost love to watch each tiny thing,
For whom our craft most curiously contrives,
If thou hast caught a bee upon the wing,
To take his honey-bag,—spare us our lives,
And we will pay the ransom in full hives.'


LVIII

'Now by my glass,' quoth Time, 'ye do offend
In teaching the brown bees that careful lore,
And frugal ants, whose millions would have end,
But they lay up for need a timely store,
And travail with the seasons evermore;
Whereas Great Mammoth long hath pass'd away,
And none but I can tell what hide he wore;
Whilst purblind men, the creatures of a day,
In riddling wonder his great bones survey.'


LIX

Then came an elf, right beauteous to behold,
Whose coat was like a brooklet that the sun
Hath all embroider'd with its crooked gold,
It was so quaintly wrought and overrun
With spangled traceries,—most meet for one
That was a warden of the pearly streams;—
And as he stept out of the shadows dun,
His jewels sparkled in the pale moon's gleams,
And shot into the air their pointed beams.

LX

Quoth he,—'We bear the gold and silver keys
Of bubbling springs and fountains, that below
Course thro' the veiny earth,—which when they freeze
Into hard crysolites, we bid to flow,
Creeping like subtle snakes, when, as they go,
We guide their windings to melodious falls,
At whose soft murmurings, so sweet and low,
Poets have tuned their smoothest madrigals,
To sing to ladies in their banquet-halls.'


LXI

'And when the hot sun with his steadfast heat
Parches the river god,—whose dusty urn
Drips miserly, till soon his crystal feet
Against his pebbly floor wax faint and burn
And languid fish, unpoised, grow sick and yearn,—
Then scoop we hollows in some sandy nook,
And little channels dig, wherein we turn
The thread-worn rivulet, that all forsook
The Naiad-lily, pining for her brook.'


LXII

'Wherefore, by thy delight in cool green meads,
With living sapphires daintily inlaid,—
In all soft songs of waters and their reeds,—
And all reflections in a streamlet made,
Haply of thy own love, that, disarray'd,
Kills the fair lily with a livelier white,—
By silver trouts upspringing from green shade,
And winking stars reduplicate at night,
Spare us, poor ministers to such delight.'


LXIII

Howbeit his pleading and his gentle looks
Moved not the spiteful Shade:—Quoth he, 'Your taste
Shoots wide of mine, for I despise the brooks
And slavish rivulets that run to waste
In noontide sweats, or, like poor vassals, haste
To swell the vast dominion of the sea,
In whose great presence I am held disgraced,
And neighbor'd with a king that rivals me
In ancient might and hoary majesty.'


LXIV

'Whereas I ruled in Chaos, and still keep
The awful secrets of that ancient dearth,
Before the briny fountains of the deep
Brimm'd up the hollow cavities of earth;—
I saw each trickling Sea-God at his birth,
Each pearly Naiad with her oozy locks,
And infant Titans of enormous girth,
Whose huge young feet yet stumbled on the rocks,
Stunning the early world with frequent shocks.'


LXV

'Where now is Titan, with his cumbrous brood,
That scared the world?—By this sharp scythe they fell,
And half the sky was curdled with their blood:
So have all primal giants sigh'd farewell.
No wardens now by sedgy fountains dwell,
Nor pearly Naiads. All their days are done
That strove with Time, untimely, to excel;
Wherefore I razed their progenies, and none
But my great shadow intercepts the sun!'


LXVI

Then saith the timid Fay—'Oh, mighty Time!
Well hast thou wrought the cruel Titans' fall,
For they were stain'd with many a bloody crime:
Great giants work great wrongs,—but we are small,
For love goes lowly;—but Oppression's tall,
And with surpassing strides goes foremost still
Where love indeed can hardly reach at all;
Like a poor dwarf o'erburthen'd with good will,
That labors to efface the tracks of ill.—'


LXVII.

'Man even strives with Man, but we eschew
The guilty feud, and all fierce strifes abhor;
Nay, we are gentle as the sweet heaven's dew,
Beside the red and horrid drops of war,
Weeping the cruel hates men battle for,
Which worldly bosoms nourish in our spite:
For in the gentle breast we ne'er withdraw,
But only when all love hath taken flight,
And youth's warm gracious heart is hardened quite.'


LXVIII

'So are our gentle natures intertwined
With sweet humanities, and closely knit
In kindly sympathy with human kind.
Witness how we befriend, with elfin wit,
All hopeless maids and lovers,—nor omit
Magical succors unto hearts forlorn:—
We charm man's life, and do not perish it;—
So judge us by the helps we showed this morn,
To one who held his wretched days in scorn.'


LXIX

''Twas nigh sweet Amwell;—for the Queen had task'd
Our skill to-day amidst the silver Lea,
Whereon the noontide sun had not yet bask'd,
Wherefore some patient man we thought to see,
Planted in moss-grown rushes to the knee,
Beside the cloudy margin cold and dim;—
Howbeit no patient fisherman was he
That cast his sudden shadow from the brim,
Making us leave our toils to gaze on him.'


LXX

'His face was ashy pale, and leaden care
Had sunk the levell'd arches of his brow,
Once bridges for his joyous thoughts to fare
Over those melancholy springs and slow,
That from his piteous eyes began to flow,
And fell anon into the chilly stream;
Which, as his mimick'd image show'd below,
Wrinkled his face with many a needless seam,
Making grief sadder in its own esteem.'


LXXI

'And lo! upon the air we saw him stretch
His passionate arms; and, in a wayward strain,
He 'gan to elegize that fellow wretch
That with mute gestures answer'd him again,
Saying, 'Poor slave, how long wilt thou remain
Life's sad weak captive in a prison strong,
Hoping with tears to rust away thy chain,
In bitter servitude to worldly wrong?—
Thou wear'st that mortal livery too long!''


LXXII

'This, with more spleenful speeches and some tears,
When he had spent upon the imaged wave,
Speedily I convened my elfin peers
Under the lily-cups, that we might save
This woeful mortal from a wilful grave
By shrewd diversions of his mind's regret,
Seeing he was mere Melancholy's slave,
That sank wherever a dark cloud he met,
And straight was tangled in her secret net.'


LXXIII

'Therefore, as still he watch'd the water's flow,
Daintily we transform'd, and with bright fins
Came glancing through the gloom; some from below
Rose like dim fancies when a dream begins,
Snatching the light upon their purple skins;
Then under the broad leaves made slow retire:
One like a golden galley bravely wins
Its radiant course,—another glows like fire,—
Making that wayward man our pranks admire.'


LXXIV

'And so he banish'd thought, and quite forgot
All contemplation of that wretched face;
And so we wiled him from that lonely spot
Along the river's brink; till, by heaven's grace,
He met a gentle haunter of the place,
Full of sweet wisdom gather'd from the brooks,
Who there discuss'd his melancholy case
With wholesome texts learned from kind nature's books,
Meanwhile he newly trimm'd his lines and hooks.'


LXXV

Herewith the Fairy ceased. Quoth Ariel now—
'Let me remember how I saved a man,
Whose fatal noose was fastened on a bough,
Intended to abridge his sad life's span;
For haply I was by when he began
His stern soliloquy in life dispraise,
And overheard his melancholy plan,
How he had made a vow to end his days,
And therefore follow'd him in all his ways.'


LXXVI

'Through brake and tangled copse, for much he loathed
All populous haunts, and roam'd in forests rude,
To hide himself from man. But I had clothed
My delicate limbs with plumes, and still pursued,
Where only foxes and wild cats intrude,
Till we were come beside an ancient tree
Late blasted by a storm. Here he renew'd
His loud complaints,—choosing that spot to be
The scene of his last horrid tragedy.'


LXXVII

'It was a wild and melancholy glen,
Made gloomy by tall firs and cypress dark,
Whose roots, like any bones of buried men,
Push'd through the rotten sod for fear's remark;
A hundred horrid stems, jagged and stark,
Wrestled with crooked arms in hideous fray,
Besides sleek ashes with their dappled bark,
Like crafty serpents climbing for a prey,
With many blasted oaks moss-grown and gray.'


LXXVIII

'But here upon his final desperate clause
Suddenly I pronounced so sweet a strain,
Like a pang'd nightingale, it made him pause,
Till half the frenzy of his grief was slain,
The sad remainder oozing from his brain
In timely ecstasies of healing tears,
Which through his ardent eyes began to drain;—
Meanwhile the deadly Fates unclosed their shears:—
So pity me and all my fated peers!'


LXXIX

Thus Ariel ended, and was some time hush'd:
When with the hoary shape a fresh tongue pleads,
And red as rose the gentle Fairy blush'd
To read the records of her own good deeds:—
'It chanced,' quoth she, 'in seeking through the meads
For honied cowslips, sweetest in the morn,
Whilst yet the buds were hung with dewy beads.'
And Echo answered to the huntsman's horn,
We found a babe left in the swaths forlorn.


LXXX

'A little, sorrowful, deserted thing,
Begot of love, and yet no love begetting;
Guiltless of shame, and yet for shame to wring;
And too soon banish'd from a mother's petting,
To churlish nurture and the wide world's fretting,
For alien pity and unnatural care;—
Alas! to see how the cold dew kept wetting
His childish coats, and dabbled all his hair,
Like gossamers across his forehead fair.'


LXXXI

'His pretty pouting mouth, witless of speech,
Lay half-way open like a rose-lipp'd shell;
And his young cheek was softer than a peach,
Whereon his tears, for roundness, could not dwell,
But quickly roll'd themselves to pearls, and fell,
Some on the grass, and some against his hand,
Or haply wander'd to the dimpled well,
Which love beside his mouth had sweetly plann'd,
Yet not for tears, but mirth and smilings bland.'


LXXXII

'Pity it was to see those frequent tears
Falling regardless from his friendless eyes;
There was such beauty in those twin blue spheres,
As any mother's heart might leap to prize;
Blue were they, like the zenith of the skies
Softened betwixt two clouds, both clear and mild;—
Just touched with thought, and yet not over wise,
They show'd the gentle spirit of a child,
Not yet by care or any craft defiled.'


LXXXIII

'Pity it was to see the ardent sun
Scorching his helpless limbs—it shone so warm;
For kindly shade or shelter he had none,
Nor mother's gentle breast, come fair or storm.
Meanwhile I bade my pitying mates transform
Like grasshoppers, and then, with shrilly cries,
All round the infant noisily we swarm,
Haply some passing rustic to advise—
Whilst providential Heaven our care espies.'


LXXXIV

'And sends full soon a tender-hearted hind,
Who, wond'ring at our loud unusual note,
Strays curiously aside, and so doth find
The orphan child laid in the grass remote,
And laps the foundling in his russet coat,
Who thence was nurtured in his kindly cot:—
But how he prosper'd let proud London quote,
How wise, how rich, and how renown'd he got,
And chief of all her citizens, I wot.'


LXXXV

'Witness his goodly vessels on the Thames,
Whose holds were fraught with costly merchandise,—
Jewels from Ind, and pearls for courtly dames,
And gorgeous silks that Samarcand supplies:
Witness that Royal Bourse he bade arise,
The mart of merchants from the East and West:
Whose slender summit, pointing to the skies,
Still bears, in token of his grateful breast,
The tender grasshopper, his chosen crest—'


LXXXVI

'The tender grasshopper, his chosen crest,
That all the summer, with a tuneful wing,
Makes merry chirpings in its grassy nest,
Inspirited with dew to leap and sing:—
So let us also live, eternal King!
Partakers of the green and pleasant earth:—
Pity it is to slay the meanest thing,
That, like a mote, shines in the smile of mirth:—
Enough there is of joy's decrease and dearth!'


LXXXVII

'Enough of pleasure, and delight, and beauty,
Perish'd and gone, and hasting to decay;—
Enough to sadden even thee, whose duty
Or spite it is to havoc and to slay:
Too many a lovely race razed quite away,
Hath left large gaps in life and human loving;—
Here then begin thy cruel war to stay,
And spare fresh sighs, and tears, and groans, reproving
Thy desolating hand for our removing.'


LXXXVIII

Now here I heard a shrill and sudden cry,
And, looking up, I saw the antic Puck
Grappling with Time, who clutch'd him like a fly,
Victim of his own sport,—the jester's luck!
He, whilst his fellows grieved, poor wight, had stuck
His freakish gauds upon the Ancient's brow,
And now his ear, and now his beard, would pluck;
Whereas the angry churl had snatched him now,
Crying, 'Thou impish mischief, who art thou?'


LXXXIX

'Alas!' quoth Puck, 'a little random elf,
Born in the sport of nature, like a weed,
For simple sweet enjoyment of myself,
But for no other purpose, worth, or need;
And yet withal of a most happy breed;
And there is Robin Goodfellow besides,
My partner dear in many a prankish deed
To make dame Laughter hold her jolly sides,
Like merry mummers twain on holy tides.'


XC

''Tis we that bob the angler's idle cork,
Till e'en the patient man breathes half a curse;
We steal the morsel from the gossip's fork,
And curdling looks with secret straws disperse,
Or stop the sneezing chanter at mid verse:
And when an infant's beauty prospers ill,
We change, some mothers say, the child at nurse:
But any graver purpose to fulfil,
We have not wit enough, and scarce the will.'


XCI

'We never let the canker melancholy
To gather on our faces like a rust,
But glass our features with some change of folly,
Taking life's fabled miseries on trust,
But only sorrowing when sorrow must:
We ruminate no sage's solemn cud,
But own ourselves a pinch of lively dust
To frisk upon a wind,—whereas the flood
Of tears would turn us into heavy mud.'


XCII

'Beshrew those sad interpreters of nature,
Who gloze her lively universal law,
As if she had not form'd our cheerful feature
To be so tickled with the slightest straw!
So let them vex their mumbling mouths, and draw
The corners downward, like a wat'ry moon,
And deal in gusty sighs and rainy flaw—
We will not woo foul weather all too soon,
Or nurse November on the lap of June.'


XCIII

'For ours are winging sprites, like any bird,
That shun all stagnant settlements of grief;
And even in our rest our hearts are stirr'd,
Like insects settled on a dancing leaf:—
This is our small philosophy in brief,
Which thus to teach hath set me all agape:
But dost thou relish it? O hoary chief!
Unclasp thy crooked fingers from my nape,
And I will show thee many a pleasant scrape.'


XCIV

Then Saturn thus:—shaking his crooked blade
O'erhead, which made aloft a lightning flash
In all the fairies' eyes, dismally fray'd!
His ensuing voice came like the thunder crash—
Meanwhile the bolt shatters some pine or ash—
'Thou feeble, wanton, foolish, fickle thing!
Whom nought can frighten, sadden, or abash,—
To hope my solemn countenance to wring
To idiot smiles!—but I will prune thy wing!'


XCV

'Lo! this most awful handle of my scythe
Stood once a May-pole, with a flowery crown,
Which rustics danced around, and maidens blithe,
To wanton pipings;—but I pluck'd it down,
And robed the May Queen in a churchyard gown,
Turning her buds to rosemary and rue;
And all their merry minstrelsy did drown,
And laid each lusty leaper in the dew;—
So thou shalt fare—and every jovial crew!'


XCVI

Here he lets go the struggling imp, to clutch.
His mortal engine with each grisly hand,
Which frights the elfin progeny so much,
They huddle in a heap, and trembling stand
All round Titania, like the queen bee's band,
With sighs and tears and very shrieks of woe!—
Meanwhile, some moving argument I plann'd,
To make the stern Shade merciful,—when lo!
He drops his fatal scythe without a blow!


XCVII

For, just at need, a timely Apparition
Steps in between, to bear the awful brunt;
Making him change his horrible position,
To marvel at this comer, brave and blunt,
That dares Time's irresistible affront,
Whose strokes have scarr'd even the gods of old;—
Whereas this seem'd a mortal, at mere hunt
For coneys, lighted by the moonshine cold,
Or stalker of stray deer, stealthy and bold.


XCVIII

Who, turning to the small assembled fays,
Doffs to the lily queen his courteous cap,
And holds her beauty for a while in gaze,
With bright eyes kindling at this pleasant hap;
And thence upon the fair moon's silver map,
As if in question of this magic chance,
Laid like a dream upon the green earth's lap;
And then upon old Saturn turns askance,
Exclaiming, with a glad and kindly glance:—


XCIX

'Oh, these be Fancy's revelers by night!
Stealthy companions of the downy moth—
Diana's motes, that flit in her pale light,
Shunners of sunbeams in diurnal sloth;—
These be the feasters on night's silver cloth;—
The gnat with shrilly trump is their convener,
Forth from their flowery chambers, nothing loth,
With lulling tunes to charm the air serener,
Or dance upon the grass to make it greener.'


C

'These be the pretty genii of the flow'rs,
Daintily fed with honey and pure dew—
Midsummer's phantoms in her dreaming hours,
King Oberon, and all his merry crew,
The darling puppets of romance's view;
Fairies, and sprites, and goblin elves we call them,
Famous for patronage of lovers true;—
No harm they act, neither shall harm befall them,
So do not thus with crabbed frowns appal them.'


CI

O what a cry was Saturn's then!—it made
The fairies quake. 'What care I for their pranks,
However they may lovers choose to aid,
Or dance their roundelays on flow'ry banks?—
Long must they dance before they earn my thanks,—
So step aside, to some far safer spot,
Whilst with my hungry scythe I mow their ranks,
And leave them in the sun, like weeds, to rot,
And with the next day's sun to be forgot.'


CII

Anon, he raised afresh his weapon keen;
But still the gracious Shade disarm'd his aim,
Stepping with brave alacrity between,
And made his sore arm powerless and tame.
His be perpetual glory, for the shame
Of hoary Saturn in that grand defeat!—
But I must tell how here Titania, came
With all her kneeling lieges, to entreat
His kindly succor, in sad tones, but sweet.


CIII

Saying, 'Thou seest a wretched queen before thee,
The fading power of a failing land,
Who for a kingdom kneeleth to implore thee,
Now menaced by this tyrant's spoiling hand;
No one but thee can hopefully withstand
That crooked blade, he longeth so to lift.
I pray thee blind him with his own vile sand,
Which only times all ruins by its drift,
Or prune his eagle wings that are so swift.'


CIV

'Or take him by that sole and grizzled tuft,
That hangs upon his bald and barren crown;
And we will sing to see him so rebuff'd,
And lend our little mights to pull him down,
And make brave sport of his malicious frown,
For all his boastful mockery o'er men.
For thou wast born, I know, for this renown,
By my most magical and inward ken,
That readeth ev'n at Fate's forestalling pen.'


CV

'Nay, by the golden lustre of thine eye,
And by thy brow's most fair and ample span,
Thought's glorious palace, framed for fancies high,
And by thy cheek thus passionately wan,
I know the signs of an immortal man,—
Nature's chief darling, and illustrious mate,
Destined to foil old Death's oblivious plan,
And shine untarnish'd by the fogs of Fate,
Time's famous rival till the final date!'


CVI

'O shield us then from this usurping Time,
And we will visit thee in moonlight dreams;
And teach thee tunes, to wed unto thy rhyme,
And dance about thee in all midnight gleams,
Giving thee glimpses of our magic schemes,
Such as no mortal's eye hath ever seen;
And, for thy love to us in our extremes,
Will ever keep thy chaplet fresh and green,
Such as no poet's wreath hath ever been!'


CVII

'And we'll distil thee aromatic dews,
To charm thy sense, when there shall be no flow'rs;
And flavor'd syrups in thy drinks infuse,
And teach the nightingale to haunt thy bow'rs,
And with our games divert thy weariest hours,
With all that elfin wits can e'er devise.
And, this churl dead, there'll be no hasting hours
To rob thee of thy joys, as now joy flies':—
Here she was stopp'd by Saturn's furious cries.]

CVIII

Whom, therefore, the kind Shade rebukes anew,
Saying, 'Thou haggard Sin, go forth, and scoop
Thy hollow coffin in some churchyard yew,
Or make th' autumnal flow'rs turn pale, and droop;
Or fell the bearded corn, till gleaners stoop
Under fat sheaves,—or blast the piny grove;—
But here thou shall not harm this pretty group,
Whose lives are not so frail and feebly wove,
But leased on Nature's loveliness and love.'


CIX

''Tis these that free the small entangled fly,
Caught in the venom'd spider's crafty snare;—
These be the petty surgeons that apply
The healing balsams to the wounded hare,
Bedded in bloody fern, no creature's care!—
These be providers for the orphan brood,
Whose tender mother hath been slain in air,
Quitting with gaping bill her darling's food,
Hard by the verge of her domestic wood.'


CX

''Tis these befriend the timid trembling stag,
When, with a bursting heart beset with fears,
He feels his saving speed begin to flag;
For then they quench the fatal taint with tears,
And prompt fresh shifts in his alarum'd ears,
So piteously they view all bloody morts;
Or if the gunner, with his arms, appears,
Like noisy pyes and jays, with harsh reports,
They warn the wild fowl of his deadly sports.'


CXI

'For these are kindly ministers of nature,
To soothe all covert hurts and dumb distress;
Pretty they be, and very small of stature,—
For mercy still consorts with littleness;—
Wherefore the sum of good is still the less,
And mischief grossest in this world of wrong;—
So do these charitable dwarfs redress
The tenfold ravages of giants strong,
To whom great malice and great might belong.'


CXII

'Likewise to them are Poets much beholden
For secret favors in the midnight glooms;
Brave Spenser quaff'd out of their goblets golden,
And saw their tables spread of prompt mushrooms,
And heard their horns of honeysuckle blooms
Sounding upon the air most soothing soft,
Like humming bees busy about the brooms,—
And glanced this fair queen's witchery full oft,
And in her magic wain soar'd far aloft.'


CXIII

'Nay I myself, though mortal, once was nursed
By fairy gossips, friendly at my birth,
And in my childish ear glib Mab rehearsed
Her breezy travels round our planet's girth,
Telling me wonders of the moon and earth;
My gramarye at her grave lap I conn'd,
Where Puck hath been convened to make me mirth;
I have had from Queen Titania tokens fond,
And toy'd with Oberon's permitted wand.'


CXIV

'With figs and plums and Persian dates they fed me,
And delicate cates after my sunset meal,
And took me by my childish hand, and led me
By craggy rocks crested with keeps of steel,
Whose awful bases deep dark woods conceal,
Staining some dead lake with their verdant dyes.
And when the West sparkled at Phoebus' wheel,
With fairy euphrasy they purged mine eyes,
To let me see their cities in the skies.'


CXV

''Twas they first school'd my young imagination
To take its flights like any new-fledged bird,
And show'd the span of winged meditation
Stretch'd wider than things grossly seen or heard.
With sweet swift Ariel how I soar'd and stirr'd
The fragrant blooms of spiritual bow'rs!
'Twas they endear'd what I have still preferr'd,
Nature's blest attributes and balmy pow'rs,
Her hills and vales and brooks, sweet birds and flow'rs.'


CXVI

'Wherefore with all true loyalty and duty
Will I regard them in my honoring rhyme,
With love for love, and homages to beauty,
And magic thoughts gather'd in night's cool clime,
With studious verse trancing the dragon Time,
Strong as old Merlin's necromantic spells;
So these dear monarchs of the summer's prime
Shall live unstartled by his dreadful yells,
Till shrill larks warn them to their flowery cells.'


CXVII

Look how a poison'd man turns livid black,
Drugg'd with a cup of deadly hellebore,
That sets his horrid features all at rack,—
So seem'd these words into the ear to pour
Of ghastly Saturn, answering with a roar
Of mortal pain and spite and utmost rage,
Wherewith his grisly arm he raised once more,
And bade the cluster'd sinews all engage,
As if at one fell stroke to wreck an age.


CXVIII

Whereas the blade flash'd on the dinted ground,
Down through his steadfast foe, yet made no scar
On that immortal Shade, or death-like wound;
But Time was long benumb'd, and stood ajar,
And then with baffled rage took flight afar,
To weep his hurt in some Cimmerian gloom,
Or meaner fames (like mine) to mock and mar,
Or sharp his scythe for royal strokes of doom,
Whetting its edge on some old Cæsar's tomb.


CXIX

Howbeit he vanish'd in the forest shade,
Distantly heard as if some grumbling pard,
And, like Nymph Echo, to a sound decay'd;—
Meanwhile the fays cluster'd the gracious Bard,
The darling centre of their dear regard:
Besides of sundry dances on the green,
Never was mortal man so brightly starr'd,
Or won such pretty homages, I ween.
'Nod to him, Elves!' cries the melodious queen.


CXX

'Nod to him, Elves, and flutter round about him,
And quite enclose him with your pretty crowd,
And touch him lovingly, for that, without him,
The silkworm now had spun our dreary shroud;—
But he hath all dispersed Death's tearful cloud,
And Time's dread effigy scared quite away:
Bow to him then, as though to me ye bow'd,
And his dear wishes prosper and obey
Wherever love and wit can find a way!'


CXXI

''Noint him with fairy dews of magic savors,
Shaken from orient buds still pearly wet,
Roses and spicy pinks,—and, of all favors,
Plant in his walks the purple violet,
And meadow-sweet under the hedges set,
To mingle breaths with dainty eglantine
And honeysuckles sweet,—nor yet forget
Some pastoral flowery chaplets to entwine,
To vie the thoughts about his brow benign!'


CXXII

'Let no wild things astonish him or fear him,
But tell them all how mild he is of heart,
Till e'en the timid hares go frankly near him,
And eke the dappled does, yet never start;
Nor shall their fawns into the thickets dart,
Nor wrens forsake their nests among the leaves,
Nor speckled thrushes flutter far apart;—
But bid the sacred swallow haunt his eaves,
To guard his roof from lightning and from thieves.'


CXXIII

'Or when he goes the nimble squirrel's visitor,
Let the brown hermit bring his hoarded nuts,
For, tell him, this is Nature's kind Inquisitor,—
Though man keeps cautious doors that conscience shuts,
For conscious wrong all curious quest rebuts,—
Nor yet shall bees uncase their jealous stings,
However he may watch their straw-built huts;—
So let him learn the crafts of all small things,
Which he will hint most aptly when he sings.'


CXXIV

Here she leaves off, and with a graceful hand
Waves thrice three splendid circles round his head;
Which, though deserted by the radiant wand,
Wears still the glory which her waving shed,
Such as erst crown'd the old Apostle's head,
To show the thoughts there harbor'd were divine,
And on immortal contemplations fed:—
Goodly it was to see that glory shine
Around a brow so lofty and benign!—


CXXV

Goodly it was to see the elfin brood
Contend for kisses of his gentle hand,
That had their mortal enemy withstood,
And stay'd their lives, fast ebbing with the sand.
Long while this strife engaged the pretty band;
But now bold Chanticleer, from farm to farm,
Challenged the dawn creeping o'er eastern land,
And well the fairies knew that shrill alarm,
Which sounds the knell of every elfish charm.


CXXVI

And soon the rolling mist, that 'gan arise
From plashy mead and undiscover'd stream,
Earth's morning incense to the early skies,
Crept o'er the failing landscape of my dream.
Soon faded then the Phantom of my theme—
A shapeless shade, that fancy disavowed,
And shrank to nothing in the mist extreme,
Then flew Titania,—and her little crowd,
Like flocking linnets, vanished in a cloud.

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