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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Seventh Book

'THE woman's motive? shall we daub ourselves
With finding roots for nettles? 'tis soft clay
And easily explored. She had the means,
The moneys, by the lady's liberal grace,
In trust for that Australian scheme and me,
Which so, that she might clutch with both her hands,
And chink to her naughty uses undisturbed,
She served me (after all it was not strange,;
'Twas only what my mother would have done)
A motherly, unmerciful, good turn.

'Well, after. There are nettles everywhere,
But smooth green grasses are more common still;
The blue of heaven is larger than the cloud;
A miller's wife at Clichy took me in
And spent her pity on me,–made me calm
And merely very reasonably sad.
She found me a servant's place in Paris where
I tried to take the cast-off life again,
And stood as quiet as a beaten ass
Who, having fallen through overloads, stands up
To let them charge him with another pack.

'A few months, so. My mistress, young and light,
Was easy with me, less for kindness than
Because she led, herself, an easy time
Betwixt her lover and her looking-glass,
Scarce knowing which way she was praised the most.
She felt so pretty and so pleased all day
She could not take the trouble to be cross,
But sometimes, as I stooped to tie her shoe,
Would tap me softly with her slender foot
Still restless with the last night's dancing in't,
And say 'Fie, pale-face! are you English girls
'All grave and silent? mass-book still, and Lent?
'And first-communion colours on your cheeks,
'Worn past the time for't? little fool, be gay!'
At which she vanished, like a fairy, through
A gap of silver laughter.
'Came an hour
When all went otherwise. She did not speak,
But clenched her brows, and clipped me with her eyes
As if a viper with a pair of tongs,
Too far for any touch, yet near enough
To view the writhing creature,–then at last,
'Stand still there, in the holy Virgin's name,
'Thou Marian; thou'rt no reputable girl,
'Although sufficient dull for twenty saints!
'I think thou mock'st me and my house,' she said;
'Confess thou'lt be a mother in a month,
'Thou mask of saintship.'
'Could I answer her?
The light broke in so. It meant that then, that?
I had not thought of that, in all my thoughts,
Through all the cold, dumb aching of my brow,
Through all the heaving of impatient life
Which threw me on death at intervals, through all
The upbreak of the fountains of my heart
The rains had swelled too large: it could mean that?
Did God make mothers out of victims, then,
And set such pure amens to hideous deeds?
Why not? He overblows an ugly grave
With violets which blossom in the spring.
And I could be a mother in a month!
I hope it was not wicked to be glad.
I lifted up my voice and wept, and laughed,
To heaven, not her, until I tore my throat.
'Confess, confess!' what was there to confess,
Except man's cruelty, except my wrong?
Except this anguish, or this ecstasy?
This shame, or glory? The light woman there
Was small to take it in: an acorn-cup
Would take the sea in sooner.
Good,' she cried;
'Unmarried and a mother, and she laughs!
'These unchaste girls are always impudent.
'Get out, intriguer! leave my house, and trot:
'I wonder you should look me in the face,
'With such a filthy secret.'
'Then I rolled
My scanty bundle up, and went my way,
Washed white with weeping, shuddering head and foot
With blind hysteric passion, staggering forth
Beyond those doors, 'Twas natural, of course,
She should not ask me where I meant to sleep;
I might sleep well beneath the heavy Seine,
Like others of my sort; the bed was laid
For us. By any woman, womanly,
Had thought of him who should be in a month,
The sinless babe that should be in a month,
And if by chance he might be warmer housed
Than underneath such dreary, dripping eaves.'

I broke on Marian there. 'Yet she herself,
A wife, I think, had scandals of her own,
A lover, not her husband.'
'Ay,' she said
'But gold and meal are measured otherwise;
I learnt so much at school,' said Marian Erle.

'O crooked world,' I cried, 'ridiculous
If not so lamentable! It's the way
With these light women of a thrifty vice,
My Marian,–always hard upon the rent
In any sister's virtue! while they keep
Their chastity so darned with perfidy,
That, though a rag itself, it looks as well
Across a street, in balcony or coach,
As any stronger stuff might. For my part,
I'd rather take the wind-side of the stews
Than touch such women with my finger-end
They top the poor street-walker by their lie,
And look the better for being so much worse
The devil's most devilish when respectable.
But you, dear, and your story.'
'All the rest
Is here,' she said, and sighed upon the child.
'I found a mistress-sempstress who was kind
And let me sew in peace among her girls;
And what was better than to draw the threads
All day and half the night, for him, and him?
And so I lived for him, and so he lives,
And so I know, by this time, God lives too.'
She smiled beyond the sun, and ended so,
And all my soul rose up to take her part
Against the world's successes, virtues, fames.
'Come with me, sweetest sister,' I returned,
'And sit within my house, and do me good
From henceforth, thou and thine! ye are my own
From henceforth. I am lonely in the world,
And thou art lonely, and the child is half
An orphan. Come, and, henceforth, thou and I
Being still together, will not miss a friend,
Nor he a father, since two mothers shall
Make that up to him. I am journeying south,
And, in my Tuscan home I'll find a niche,
And set thee there, my saint, the child and thee,
And burn the lights of love before thy face,
And ever at thy sweet look cross myself
From mixing with the world's prosperities;
That so, in gravity and holy calm,
We too may live on toward the truer life.'

She looked me in the face and answered not,
Nor signed she was unworthy, nor gave thanks,
But took the sleeping child and held it out
To meet my kiss, as if requiting me
And trusting me at once. And thus, at once,
I carried him and her to where I lived;
She's there now, in the little room, asleep,
I hear the soft child-breathing through the door;
And all three of us, at to-morrow's break,
Pass onward, homeward, to our Italy.
Oh, Romney Leigh, I have your debts to pay,
And I'll be just and pay them.
But yourself!
To pay your debts is scarcely difficult;
To buy your life is nearly impossible,
Being sold away to Lamia. My head aches;
I cannot see my road along this dark;
Nor can I creep and grope, as fits the dark,
For these foot-catching robes of womanhood:
A man might walk a little . . but I!–He loves
The Lamia-woman,–and I, write to him
What stops his marriage, and destroys his peace,–
Or what, perhaps, shall simply trouble him,
Until she only need to touch his sleeve
With just a finger's tremulous white flame,
Saying, 'Ah,–Aurora Leigh! a pretty tale,
'A very pretty poet! I can guess
'The motive'–then, to catch his eyes in hers,
And vow she does not wonder,–and they two
To break in laughter, as the sea along
A melancholy coast, and float up higher,
In such a laugh, their fatal weeds of love!
Ay, fatal, ay. And who shall answer me,
Fate has not hurried tides; and if to-night
My letter would not be a night too late,–
An arrow shot into a man that's dead,
To prove a vain intention? Would I show
The new wife vile, to make the husband mad?
No, Lamia! shut the shutters, bar the doors
From every glimmer on they serpent-skin!
I will not let thy hideous secret out
To agonise the man I love–I mean
The friend I love . . as friends love.
It is strange,
To-day while Marian told her story, like
To absorb most listeners, how I listened chief
To a voice not hers, nor yet that enemy's,
Nor God's in wrath, . . but one that mixed with mine
Long years ago, among the garden-trees,
And said to me, to me too, 'Be my wife,
Aurora!' It is strange, with what a swell
Of yearning passion, as a snow of ghosts
Might beat against the impervious doors of heaven,
I thought, 'Now, if I had been a woman, such
As God made women, to save men by love,–
By just my love I might have saved this man,
And made a nobler poem for the world
Than all I have failed in.' But I failed besides
In this; and now he's lost! through me alone!
And, by my only fault, his empty house
Sucks in, at this same hour, a wind from hell
To keep his hearth cold, make his casements creak
For ever to the tune of plague and sin–
O Romney, O my Romney, O my friend!
My cousin and friend! my helper, when I would,
My love that might be! mine!
Why, how one weeps
When one's too weary! Were a witness by,
He'd say some folly . . that I loved the man,
Who knows? . . and make me laugh again for scorn.
At strongest, women are as weak in flesh,
As men, at weakest, vilest, are in soul:
So, hard for women to keep pace with men!
As well give up at once, sit down at once.
And weep as I do. Tears, tears! why, we weep?
'Tis worth enquiry?–That we've shamed a life,
Or lost a love, or missed a world, perhaps?
By no means. Simply, that we've walked too far,
Or talked too much, or felt the wind i' the east,–
And so we weep, as if both body and soul
Broke up in water–this way.
Poor mixed rags
Forsooth we're made of, like those other dolls
That lean with pretty faces into fairs.
It seems as if I had a man in me,
Despising such a woman.
Yet indeed.
To see a wrong or suffering moves us all
To undo it, though we should undo ourselves;
Ay, all the more, that we undo ourselves;
That's womanly, past doubt, and not ill-moved.
A natural movement, therefore, on my part,
To fill the chair up of my cousin's wife,
And save him from a devil's company!
We're all so,–made so–'tis our woman's trade
To suffer torment for another's ease.
The world's male chivalry has perished out,
But women are knights-errant to the last;
And, if Cervantes had been greater still,
He had made his Don a Donna.
So it clears,
And so we rain our skies blue.
Put away
This weakness. If, as I have just now said,
A man's within me–let him act himself,
Ignoring the poor conscious trouble of blood
That's called the woman merely. I will write
Plain words to England,–if too late, too late,–
If ill-accounted, then accounted ill;
We'll trust the heavens with something.

'Dear Lord Howe,
You'll find a story on another leaf
That's Marian Erle's,–what noble friend of yours
She trusted once, through what flagitious means
To what disastrous ends;–the story's true.
I found her wandering on the Paris quays,
A babe upon her breast,–unnatural
Unseasonable outcast on such snows
Unthawed to this time. I will tax in this
Your friendship, friend,–if that convicted She
Be not his wife yet, to denounce the facts
To himself,–but, otherwise, to let them pass
On tip-toe like escaping murderers,
And tell my cousin, merely–Marian lives,
Is found, and finds her home with such a friend,
Myself, Aurora. Which good news, 'She's found,'
Will help to make him merry in his love:
I sent it, tell him, for my marriage gift,
As good as orange-water for the nerves,
Or perfumed gloves for headaches,–though aware
That he, except of love, is scarcely sick;
I mean the new love this time, . . since last year.
Such quick forgetting on the part of men!
Is any shrewder trick upon the cards
To enrich them? pray instruct me how it's done.
First, clubs,–and while you look at clubs, it's spades;
That's prodigy. The lightning strikes a man,
And when we think to find him dead and charred . .
Why, there he is on a sudden, playing pipes
Beneath the splintered elm-tree! Crime and shame
And all their hoggery trample your smooth world,
Nor leave more foot-marks than Apollo's kine,
Whose hoofs were muffled by the thieving god
In tamarisk-leaves and myrtle. I'm so sad,
So weary and sad to-night, I'm somewhat sour,–
Forgive me. To be blue and shrew at once,
Exceeds all toleration except yours;
But yours, I know, is infinite. Farewell.
To-morrow we take train for Italy.
Speak gently of me to your gracious wife,
As one, however far, shall yet be near
In loving wishes to your house.'
I sign.
And now I'll loose my heart upon a page,
This
'Lady Waldemar, I'm very glad
I never liked you; which you knew so well,
You spared me, in your turn, to like me much.
Your liking surely had done worse for me
Than has your loathing, though the last appears
Sufficiently unscrupulous to hurt,
And not afraid of judgment. Now, there's space
Between our faces,–I stand off, as if
I judged a stranger's portrait and pronounced
Indifferently the type was good or bad:
What matter to me that the lines are false,
I ask you? Did I ever ink my lips
By drawing your name through them as a friend's.
Or touch your hands as lovers do? thank God
I never did: and, since you're proved so vile,
Ay, vile, I say,–we'll show it presently,–
I'm not obliged to nurse my friend in you,
Or wash out my own blots, in counting yours,
Or even excuse myself to honest souls
Who seek to touch my lip or clasp my palm,–
'Alas, but Lady Waldemar came first!'
'Tis true, by this time, you may near me so
That you're my cousin's wife. You've gambled
As Lucifer, and won the morning-star
In that case,–and the noble house of Leigh
Must henceforth with its good roof shelter you:
I cannot speak and burn you up between
Those rafters, I who am born a Leigh,–nor speak
And pierce your breast through Romney's, I who live
His friend and cousin!–so, you are safe. You two
Must grow together like the tares and wheat
Till God's great fire.–But make the best of time.

'And hide this letter! let it speak no more
Than I shall, how you tricked poor Marian Erle,
And set her own love digging her own grave
Within her green hope's pretty garden-ground;
Ay, sent her forth with some of your sort
To a wicked house in France,–from which she fled
With curses in her eyes and ears and throat,
Her whole soul choked with curses,–mad, in short,
And madly scouring up and down for weeks
The foreign hedgeless country, lone and lost,–
So innocent, male-fiends might slink within
Remote hell-corners, seeing her so defiled!

'But you,–you are a woman and more bold.
To do you justice, you'd not shrink to face . .
We'll say, the unfledged life in the other room,
Which, treading down God's corn, you trod in sight
Of all the dogs, in reach of all the guns,–
Ay, Marian's babe, her poor unfathered child,
Her yearling babe!–you'd face him when he wakes
And opens up his wonderful blue eyes:
You'd meet them and not wink perhaps, nor fear
God's triumph in them and supreme revenge,
So, righting His creation's balance-scale
(You pulled as low as Tophet) to the top
Of most celestial innocence! For me
Who am not as bold, I own those infant eyes
Have set me praying.
'While they look at heaven,
No need of protestation in my words
Against the place you've made them! let them look!
They'll do your business with the heavens, be sure:
I spare you common curses.
'Ponder this.
If haply you're the wife of Romney Leigh,
(For which inheritance beyond your birth
You sold that poisonous porridge called your soul)
I charge you, be his faithful and true wife!
Keep warm his hearth and clean his board, and, when
He speaks, be quick with your obedience;
Still grind your paltry wants and low desires
To dust beneath his heel; though, even thus,
The ground must hurt him,–it was writ of old,
'Ye shall not yoke together ox and ass,'
The nobler and ignobler. Ay, but you
Shall do your part as well as such ill things
Can do aught good. You shall not vex him,–mark,
You shall not vex him, . .jar him when he's sad,
Or cross him when he's eager. Understand
To trick him with apparent sympathies,
Nor let him see thee in the face too near
And unlearn thy sweet seeming. Pay the price
Of lies, by being constrained to lie on still;
'Tis easy for they sort: a million more
Will scarcely damn thee deeper.
'Doing which,
You are very safe from Marian and myself;
We'll breathe as softly as the infant here,
And stir no dangerous embers. Fail a point,
And show our Romney wounded, ill-content,
Tormented in his home, . . we open a mouth,
And such a noise will follow, the last trump's
Will scarcely seem more dreadful, even to you;
You'll have no pipers after: Romney will
(I know him) push you forth as none of his,
All other men declaring it well done;
While women, even the worst, your like, will draw
Their skirts back, not to brush you in the street;
And so I warn you. I'm . . . Aurora Leigh.'

The letter written, I felt satisfied.
The ashes, smouldering in me, were thrown out
By handfuls from me: I had writ my heart
And wept my tears, and now was cool and calm;
And, going straightway to the neighbouring room,
I lifted up the curtains of the bed
Where Marian Erle, the babe upon her arm,
Both faces leaned together like a pair
Of folded innocences, self-complete,
Each smiling from the other, smiled and slept.
There seemed no sin, no shame, no wrath, no grief.
I felt, she too had spoken words that night,
But softer certainly, and said to God,–
Who laughs in heaven perhaps, that such as I
Should make ado for such as she.–'Defiled'
I wrote? 'defiled' I thought her? Stoop,
Stoop lower, Aurora! get the angels' leave
To creep in somewhere, humbly, on your knees,
Within this round of sequestration white
In which they have wrapt earth's foundlings, heaven's elect!

The next day, we took train to Italy
And fled on southward in the roar of steam.
The marriage-bells of Romney must be loud,
To sound so clear through all! I was not well;
And truly, though the truth is like a jest,
I could not choose but fancy, half the way,
I stood alone i' the belfry, fifty bells
Of naked iron, mad with merriment,
(As one who laughs and cannot stop himself)
All clanking at me, in me, over me,
Until I shrieked a shriek I could not hear,
And swooned with noise,–but still, along my swoon,
Was 'ware the baffled changes backward rang,
Prepared, at each emerging sense, to beat
And crash it out with clangour. I was weak;
I struggled for the posture of my soul
In upright consciousness of place and time,
But evermore, 'twixt waking and asleep,
Slipped somehow, staggered, caught at Marian's eyes
A moment, (it is very good for strength
To know that some one needs you to be strong)
And so recovered what I called myself,
For that time.
I just knew it when we swept
Above the old roofs of Dijon. Lyons dropped
A spark into the night, half trodden out
Unseen. But presently the winding Rhone
Washed out the moonlight large along his banks,
Which strained their yielding curves out clear and clean
To hold it,–shadow of town and castle just blurred
Upon the hurrying river. Such an air
Blew thence upon the forehead,–half an air
And half a water,–that I leaned and looked;
Then, turning back on Marian, smiled to mark
That she looked only on her child, who slept,
His face towards the moon too.
So we passed
The liberal open country and the close,
And shot through tunnels, like a lightning-wedge
By great Thor-hammers driven through the rock,
Which, quivering through the intestine blackness, splits,
And lets it in at once: the train swept in
Athrob with effort, trembling with resolve,
The fierce denouncing whistle wailing on
And dying off smothered in the shuddering dark,
While we, self-awed, drew troubled breath, oppressed
As other Titans, underneath the pile
And nightmare of the mountains. Out, at last,
To catch the dawn afloat upon the land!
–Hills, slung forth broadly and gauntly everywhere,
Not crampt in their foundations, pushing wide
Rich outspreads of the vineyards and the corn
(As if they entertained i' the name of France)
While, down their straining sides, streamed manifest
A soil as red as Charlemagne's knightly blood,
To consecrate the verdure. Some one said,
'Marseilles!' And lo, the city of Marseilles,
With all her ships behind her, and beyond,
The scimitar of ever-shining sea,
For right-hand use, bared blue against the sky!
That night we spent between the purple heaven
And purple water: I think Marian slept;
But I, as a dog a-watch for his master's foot,
Who cannot sleep or eat before he hears,
I sate upon the deck and watched all night,
And listened through the stars for Italy.
Those marriage-bells I spoke of, sounded far,
As some child's go-cart in the street beneath
To a dying man who will not pass the day,
And knows it, holding by a hand he loves.
I, too, sate quiet, satisfied with death,
Sate silent: I could hear my own soul speak,
And had my friend,–for Nature comes sometimes
And says, 'I am ambassador for God.'
I felt the wind soft from the land of souls;
The old miraculous mountains heaved in sight,
One straining past another along the shore,
The way of grand dull Odyssean ghosts
Athirst to drink the cool blue wine of seas
And stare on voyagers. Peak pushing peak
They stood: I watched beyond that Tyrian belt
Of intense sea betwixt them and the ship,
Down all their sides the misty olive-woods
Dissolving in the weak congenial moon,
And still disclosing some brown convent-tower
That seems as if it grew from some brown rock,–
Or many a little lighted village, dropt
Like a fallen star, upon so high a point,
You wonder what can keep it in its place
From sliding headlong with the waterfalls
Which drop and powder all the myrtle-groves
With spray of silver. Thus my Italy
Was stealing on us. Genoa broke with day;
The Doria's long pale palace striking out,
From green hills in advance of the white town,
A marble finger dominant to ships,
Seen glimmering through the uncertain grey of dawn.

But then I did not think, 'my Italy,'
I thought, 'my father!' O my father's house,
Without his presence!–Places are too much
Or else too little, for immortal man;
Too little, when love's May o'ergrows the ground,–
Too much, when that luxuriant wealth of green
Is rustling to our ankles in dead leaves.
'Tis only good to be, or here or there,
Because we had a dream on such a stone,
Or this or that,–but, once being wholly waked,
And come back to the stone without the dream,
We trip upon't,–alas! and hurt ourselves;
Or else it falls on us and grinds us flat,
The heaviest grave-stone on this buying earth.
But while I stood and mused, a quiet touch
Fell light upon my arm, and, turning round,
A pair of moistened eyes convicted mine.
'What, Marian! is the babe astir so soon?'
'He sleeps,' she answered; 'I have crept up thrice,
And seen you sitting, standing, still at watch.
I thought it did you good till now, but now' . . .
'But now,' I said, 'you leave the child alone.'
'And your're alone,' she answered,–and she looked
As if I, too, were something. Sweet the help
Of one we have helped! Thanks, Marian, for that help.

I found a house, at Florence, on the hill
Of Bellosguardo. 'Tis a tower that keeps
A post of double-observation o'er
The valley of Arno (holding as a hand
The outspread city) straight toward Fiesole
And Mount Morello and the setting sun,–
The Vallombrosan mountains to the right,
Which sunrise fills as full as crystal cups
Wine-filled, and red to the brim because it's red.
No sun could die, nor yet be born, unseen
By dwellers at my villa: morn and eve
Were magnified before us in the pure
Illimitable space and pause of sky,
Intense as angels' garments blanched with God,
Less blue than radiant. From the outer wall
Of the garden, dropped the mystic floating grey
Of olive-trees, (with interruptions green
From maize and vine) until 'twas caught and torn
On that abrupt black line of cypresses
Which signed the way to Florence. Beautiful
The city lay along the ample vale,
Cathedral, tower and palace, piazza and street;
The river trailing like a silver cord
Through all, and curling loosely, both before
And after, over the whole stretch of land
Sown whitely up and down its opposite slopes,
With farms and villas.
Many weeks had passed,
No word was granted.–Last, a letter came
From Vincent Carrington:–'My Dear Miss Leigh,
You've been as silent as a poet should,
When any other man is sure to speak.
If sick, if vexed, if dumb, a silver-piece
Will split a man's tongue,–straight he speaks and says,
'Received that cheque.' But you! . . I send you funds
To Paris, and you make no sign at all.
Remember I'm responsible and wait
A sign of you, Miss Leigh.
'Meantime your book
Is eloquent as if you were not dumb;
And common critics, ordinarily deaf
To such fine meanings, and, like deaf men, loth
To seem deaf, answering chance-wise, yes or no,
'It must be,' or 'it must not,' (most pronounced
When least convinced) pronounce for once aright:
You'd think they really heard,–and so they do . .
The burr of three or four who really hear
And praise your book aright: Fame's smallest trump
Is a great ear-trumpet for the deaf as posts,
No other being effective. Fear not, friend;
We think, here, you have written a good book,
And you, a woman! It was in you–yes,
I felt 'twas in you: yet I doubted half
If that od-force of German Reichenbach
Which still from female finger-tips burns blue,
Could strike out, as our masculine white heats,
To quicken a man. Forgive me. All my heart
Is quick with yours, since, just a fortnight since,
I read your book and loved it.
'Will you love
My wife, too? Here's my secret, I might keep
A month more from you! but I yield it up
Because I know you'll write the sooner for't,–
Most women (of your height even) counting love
Life's only serious business. Who's my wife
That shall be in a month? you ask? nor guess?
Remember what a pair of topaz eyes
You once detected, turned against the wall,
That morning, in my London painting-room;
The face half-sketched, and slurred; the eyes alone!
But you . . you caught them up with yours, and said
'Kate Ward's eyes, surely.'–Now, I own the truth,
I had thrown them there to keep them safe from Jove;
They would so naughtily find out their way
To both the heads of both my Danaës,
Where just it made me mad to look at them.
Such eyes! I could not paint or think of eyes
But those,–and so I flung them into paint
And turned them to the wall's care. Ay, but now
I've let them out, my Kate's! I've painted her,
(I'll change my style, and leave mythologies)
The whole sweet face; it looks upon my soul
Like a face on water, to beget itself,
A half-length portrait, in a hanging cloak
Like one you wore once; 'tis a little frayed;
I pressed, too, for the nude harmonious arm–
But she . . she'd have her way, and have her cloak;
She said she could be like you only so,
And would not miss the fortune. Ah, my friend,
You'll write and say she shall not miss your love
Through meeting mine? in faith, she would not change:
She has your books by heart, more than my words,
And quotes you up against me till I'm pushed
Where, three months since, her eyes were! nay, in fact,
Nought satisfied her but to make me paint
Your last book folded in her dimpled hands,
Instead of my brown palette, as I wished,
(And, grant me, the presentment had been newer)
She'd grant me nothing: I've compounded for
The naming of the wedding-day next month,
And gladly too. 'Tis pretty, to remark
How women can love women of your sort,
And tie their hearts with love-knots to your feet,
Grow insolent about you against men,
And put us down by putting up the lip,
As if a man,–there are such, let us own.
Who write not ill,–remains a man, poor wretch,
While you–! Write far worse than Aurora Leigh,
And there'll be women who believe of you
(Besides my Kate) that if you walked on sand
You would not leave a foot-print.
'Are you put
To wonder by my marriage, like poor Leigh?
'Kate Ward!' he said. 'Kate Ward!' he said anew.
'I thought . . .' he said, and stopped,–'I did not think . . .'
And then he dropped to silence.
'Ah, he's changed
I had not seen him, you're aware, for long,
But went of course. I have not touched on this
Through all this letter,–conscious of your heart,
And writing lightlier for the heavy fact,
As clocks are voluble with lead.
'How weak
To say I'm sorry. Dear Leigh, dearest Leigh!
In those old days of Shropshire,–pardon me,–
When he and you fought many a field of gold
On what you should do, or you should not do,
Make bread of verses, (it just came to that)
I thought you'd one day draw a silken peace
Through a gold ring. I thought so. Foolishly,
The event proved,–for you went more opposite
To each other, month by month, and year by year,
Until this happened. God knows best, we say,
But hoarsely. When the fever took him first,
Just after I had writ to you in France,
They tell me Lady Waldemar mixed drinks
And counted grains, like any salaried nurse,
Excepting that she wept too. Then Lord Howe,
You're right about Lord Howe! Lord Howe's a trump;
And yet, with such in his hand, a man like Leigh
May lose, as he does. There's an end to all,–
Yes, even this letter, through the second sheet
May find you doubtful. Write a word for Kate:
Even now she reads my letters like a wife,
And if she sees her name, I'll see her smile,
And share the luck. So, bless you, friend of two!
I will not ask you what your feeling is
At Florence with my pictures. I can hear
Your heart a-flutter over the snow-hills;
And, just to pace the Pitti with you once,
I'd give a half-hour of to-morrow's walk
With Kate . . I think so. Vincent Carrington.'

The noon was hot; the air scorched like the sun,
And was shut out. The closed persiani threw
Their long-scored shadows on my villa-floor,
And interlined the golden atmosphere
Straight, still,–across the pictures on the wall
The statuette on the console, (of young Love
And Psyche made one marble by a kiss)
The low couch where I leaned, the table near,
The vase of lilies, Marian pulled last night,
(Each green leaf and each white leaf ruled in black
As if for writing some new text of fate)
And the open letter, rested on my knee,–
But there, the lines swerved, trembled, though I sate
Untroubled . . plainly, . . reading it again
And three times. Well, he's married; that is clear.
No wonder that he's married, nor much more
That Vincent's therefore, 'sorry.' Why, of course,
The lady nursed him when he was not well,
Mixed drinks,–unless nepenthe was the drink,
'Twas scarce worth telling. But a man in love
Will see the whole sex in his mistress' hood,
The prettier for its lining of fair rose;
Although he catches back, and says at last,
'I'm sorry.' Sorry. Lady Waldemar
At prettiest, under the said hood, preserved
From such a light as I could hold to her face
To flare its ugly wrinkles out to shame,–
Is scarce a wife for Romney, as friends judge,
Aurora Leigh, or Vincent Carrington,–
That's plain. And if he's 'conscious of my heart' . .
Perhaps it's natural, though the phrase is strong;
(One's apt to use strong phrases, being in love)
And even that stuff of 'fields of gold,' 'gold rings,'
And what he 'thought,' poor Vincent! what he 'thought,'
May never mean enough to ruffle me.
–Why, this room stifles. Better burn than choke;
Best have air, air, although it comes with fire,
Throw open blinds and windows to the noon
And take a blister on my brow instead
Of this dead weight! best, perfectly be stunned
By those insufferable cicale, sick
And hoarse with rapture of the summer-heat,
That sing like poets, till their hearts break, . . sing
Till men say, 'It's too tedious.'
Books succeed,
And lives fail. Do I feel it so, at last?
Kate loves a worn-out cloak for being like mine,
While I live self-despised for being myself,
And yearn toward some one else, who yearns away
From what he is, in his turn. Strain a step
For ever, yet gain no step? Are we such,
We cannot, with our admirations even,
Our tip-toe aspirations, touch a thing
That's higher than we? is all a dismal flat,
And God alone above each,–as the sun
O'er level lagunes, to make them shine and stink,–
Laying stress upon us with immediate flame,
While we respond with our miasmal fog,
And call it mounting higher, because we grow
More highly fatal?
Tush, Aurora Leigh!
You wear your sackcloth looped in Cæsar's way.
And brag your failings as mankind's. Be still.
There is what's higher in this very world,
Than you can live, or catch at. Stand aside,
And look at others–instance little Kate!
She'll make a perfect wife for Carrington.
She always has been looking round the earth
For something good and green to alight upon
And nestle into, with those soft-winged eyes
Subsiding now beneath his manly hand
'Twixt trembling lids of inexpressive joy:
I will not scorn her, after all, too much,
That so much she should love me. A wise man
Can pluck a leaf, and find a lecture in't;
And I, too, . . God has made me,–I've a heart
That's capable of worship, love, and loss;
We say the same of Shakspeare's. I'll be meek,
And learn to reverence, even this poor myself.

The book, too–pass it. 'A good book,' says he,
'And you a woman,' I had laughed at that,
But long since. I'm a woman,–it is true;
Alas, and woe to us, when we feel it most!
Then, least care have we for the crowns and goals,
And compliments on writing our good books.

The book has some truth in it, I believe:
And truth outlives pain, as the soul does life.
I know we talk our Phædons to the end
Through all the dismal faces that we make,
O'er-wrinkled with dishonouring agony
From any mortal drug. I have written truth,
And I a woman; feebly, partially,
Inaptly in presentation, Romney'll add,
Because a woman. For the truth itself,
That's neither man's nor woman's, but just God's;
None else has reason to be proud of truth:
Himself will see it sifted, disenthralled,
And kept upon the height and in the light,
As far as, and no farther, than 'tis truth;
For,–now He has left off calling firmaments
And strata, flowers and creatures, very good,–
He says it still of truth, which is His own.
Truth, so far, in my book;–the truth which draws
Through all things upwards; that a twofold world
Must go to a perfect cosmos. Natural things
And spiritual,–who separates those two
In art, in morals, or the social drift,
Tears up the bond of nature and brings death,
Paints futile pictures, writes unreal verse,
Leads vulgar days, deals ignorantly with men,
Is wrong, in short, at all points. We divide
This apple of life, and cut it through the pips,–
The perfect round which fitted Venus' hand
Has perished utterly as if we ate
Both halves. Without the spiritual, observe,
The natural's impossible;–no form,
No motion! Without sensuous, spiritual
Is inappreciable;–no beauty or power!
And in this twofold sphere the twofold man
(And still the artist is intensely a man)
Holds firmly by the natural, to reach
The spiritual beyond it,–fixes still
The type with mortal vision, to pierce through,
With eyes immortal, to the antetype
Some call the ideal,–better called the real,
And certain to be called so presently,
When things shall have their names. Look long enough
On any peasant's face here, coarse and lined.
You'll catch Antinous somewhere in that clay,
As perfect-featured as he yearns at Rome
From marble pale with beauty; then persist,
And, if your apprehension's competent,
You'll find some fairer angel at his back,
As much exceeding him, as he the boor,
And pushing him with empyreal disdain
For ever out of sight. Ay, Carrington
Is glad of such a creed! an artist must,
Who paints a tree, a leaf, a common stone
With just his hand, and finds it suddenly
A-piece with and conterminous to his soul.
Why else do these things move him, leaf or stone?
The bird's not moved, that pecks at a spring-shoot;
Nor yet the horse, before a quarry, a-graze:
But man, the two-fold creature, apprehends
The two-fold manner, in and outwardly,
And nothing in the world comes single to him.
A mere itself,–cup, column, or candlestick,
All patterns of what shall be in the Mount;
The whole temporal show related royally,
And build up to eterne significance
Through the open arms of God. 'There's nothing great
Nor small,' has said a poet of our day,
(Whose voice will ring beyond the curfew of eve
And not be thrown out by the matin's bell)
And truly, I reiterate, . . nothing's small!
No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim:
And,–glancing on my own thin, veined wrist,–
In such a little tremour of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct. Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more, from the first similitude.

Truth so far, in my book! a truth which draws
From all things upwards. I, Aurora, still
Have felt it hound me through the wastes of life
As Jove did Io: and, until that Hand
Shall overtake me wholly, and, on my head,
Lay down its large, unfluctuating peace,
The feverish gad-fly pricks me up and down
It must be. Art's the witness of what Is
Behind this show. If this world's show were all,
Then imitation would be all in Art;
There, Jove's hand gripes us!–For we stand here, we.
If genuine artists, witnessing for God's
Complete, consummate, undivided work:
–That not a natural flower can grow on earth,
Without a flower upon the spiritual side,
Substantial, archetypal, all a-glow
With blossoming causes,–not so far away,
That we, whose spirit-sense is somewhat cleared,
May not catch something of the bloom and breath,–
Too vaguely apprehended, though indeed
Still apprehended, consciously or not,
And still transferred to picture, music, verse,
For thrilling audient and beholding souls
By signs and touches which are known to souls,–
How known, they know not,–why, they cannot find,
So straight call out on genius, say, 'A man
Produced this,'–when much rather they should say,
Tis insight, and he saw this.'
Thus is Art
Self-magnified in magnifying a truth
Which, fully recognized, would change the world
And shift its morals. If a man could feel,
Not one day, in the artist's ecstasy,
But every day, feast, fast, or working-day,
The spiritual significance burn through
The hieroglyphic of material shows,
Henceforward he would paint the globe with wings,
And reverence fish and fowl, the bull, the tree,
And even his very body as a man,–
Which now he counts so vile, that all the towns
Make offal of their daughters for its use
On summer-nights, when God is sad in heaven
To think what goes on in his recreant world
He made quite other; while that moon he made
To shine there, at the first love's covenant,
Shines still, convictive as a marriage-ring
Before adulterous eyes.
How sure it is,
That, if we say a true word, instantly
We feel 'tis God's, not ours, and pass it on
As bread at sacrament, we taste and pass
Nor handle for a moment, as indeed
We dared to set up any claim to such!
And I–my poem;–let my readers talk;
I'm closer to it–I can speak as well:
I'll say, with Romney, that the book is weak,
The range uneven, the points of sight obscure,
The music interrupted.
Let us go.
The end of woman (or of man, I think)
Is not a book. Alas, the best of books
Is but a word in Art, which soon grows cramped,
Stiff, dubious-statured with the weight of years,
And drops an accent or digamma down
Some cranny of unfathomable time,
Beyond the critic's reaching. Art itself,
We've called the higher life, still must feel the soul
Live past it. For more's felt than is perceived,
And more's perceived than can be interpreted,
And Love strikes higher with his lambent flame
Than Art can pile the faggots.
Is it so?
When Jove's hand meets us with composing touch,
And when, at last, we are hushed and satisfied,–
Then, Io does not call it truth, but love?
Well, well! my father was an Englishman:
My mother's blood in me is not so strong
That I should bear this stress of Tuscan noon
And keep my wits. The town, there, seems to seethe
In this Medæan boil-pot of the sun,
And all the patient hills are bubbling round
As if a prick would leave them flat. Does heaven
Keep far off, not to set us in a blaze?
Not so,–let drag your fiery fringes, heaven,
And burn us up to quiet! Ah, we know
Too much here, not to know what's best for peace;
We have too much light here, not to want more fire
To purify and end us. We talk, talk,
Conclude upon divine philosophies,
And get the thanks of men for hopeful books;
Whereat we take our own life up, and . . pshaw!
Unless we piece it with another's life,
(A yard of silk to carry out our lawn)
As well suppose my little handkerchief
Would cover Samminiato, church and all,
If out I threw it past the cypresses,
As, in this ragged, narrow life of mine,
Contain my own conclusions.
But at least
We'll shut up the persiani, and sit down,
And when my head's done aching, in the cool,
Write just a word to Kate and Carrington.
May joy be with them! she has chosen well,
And he not ill.
I should be glad, I think,
Except for Romney. Had he married Kate,
I surely, surely, should be very glad.
This Florence sits upon me easily,
With native air and tongue. My graves are calm,
And do not too much hurt me. Marian's good,
Gentle and loving,–lets me hold the child,
Or drags him up the hills to find me flowers
And fill those vases, ere I'm quite awake,–
The grandiose red tulips, which grow wild,
Or else my purple lilies, Dante blew
To a larger bubble with his prophet-breath;
Or one of those tall flowering reeds which stand
In Arno like a sheaf of sceptres, left
By some remote dynasty of dead gods,
To suck the stream for ages and get green,
And blossom wheresoe'er a hand divine
Had warmed the place with ichor. Such I've found
At early morning, laid across my bed,
And woke up pelted with a childish laugh
Which even Marian's low precipitous 'hush'
Had vainly interposed to put away,–
While I, with shut eyes, smile and motion for
The dewy kiss that's very sure to come
From mouth and cheeks, the whole child's face at once
Dissolved on mine,–as if a nosegay burst
Its string with the weight of roses overblown,
And dropt upon me. Surely I should be glad.
The little creature almost loves me now,
And calls my name . . 'Alola,' stripping off
The r s like thorns, to make it smooth enough
To take between his dainty, milk-fed lips,
God love him! I should certainly be glad,
Except, God help me, that I'm sorrowful,
Because of Romney.
Romney, Romney! Well,
This grows absurd!–too like a tune that runs
I' the head, and forces all things in the world,
Wind, rain, the creaking gnat or stuttering fly,
To sing itself and vex you;–yet perhaps
A paltry tune you never fairly liked,
Some 'I'd be a butterfly,' or 'C'est l'amour:'
We're made so,–not such tyrants to ourselves,
We are not slaves to nature. Some of us
Are turned, too, overmuch like some poor verse
With a trick of ritournelle: the same thing goes
And comes back ever.
Vincent Carrington
Is 'sorry,' and I'm sorry; but he's strong
To mount from sorrow to his heaven of love,
And when he says at moments, 'Poor, poor Leigh,
Who'll never call his own, so true a heart,
So fair a face even,'–he must quickly lose
The pain of pity in the blush he has made
By his very pitying eyes. The snow, for him,
Has fallen in May, and finds the whole earth warm,
And melts at the first touch of the green grass.
But Romney,–he has chosen, after all.
I think he had as excellent a sun
To see by, as most others, and perhaps
Has scarce seen really worse than some of us,
When all's said. Let him pass. I'm not too much
A woman, not to be a man for once,
And bury all my Dead like Alaric,
Depositing the treasures of my soul
In this drained water-course, and, letting flow
The river of life again, with commerce-ships
And pleasure-barges, full of silks and songs.
Blow winds, and help us.
Ah, we mock ourselves
With talking of the winds! perhaps as much
With other resolutions. How it weighs,
This hot, sick air! and how I covet here
The Dead's provision on the river's couch,
With silver curtains drawn on tinkling rings!
Or else their rest in quiet crypts,–laid by
From heat and noise!–from those cicale, say,
And this more vexing heart-beat.
So it is:
We covet for the soul, the body's part,
To die and rot. Even so, Aurora, ends
Our aspiration, who bespoke our place
So far in the east. The occidental flats
Had fed us fatter, therefore? we have climbed
Where herbage ends? we want the beast's part now
And tire of the angel's?–Men define a man,
The creature who stands front-ward to the stars,
The creature who looks inward to himself,
The tool-wright, laughing creature. 'Tis enough:
We'll say instead, the inconsequent creature, man,–
For that's his specialty. What creature else
Conceives the circle, and then walks the square?
Loves things proved bad, and leaves a thing proved good?
You think the bee makes honey half a year,
To loathe the comb in winter, and desire
The little ant's food rather? But a man–
Note men!–they are but women after all,
As women are but Auroras!–there are men
Born tender, apt to pale at a trodden worm,
Who paint for pastime, in their favourite dream,
Spruce auto-vestments flowered with crocus-flames:
There are, too, who believe in hell, and lie:
There are, who waste their souls in working out
Life's problem on these sands betwixt two tides,
And end,– 'Now give us the beast's part, in death.'

Alas, long-suffering and most patient God,
Thou need'st be surelier God to bear with us
Than even to have made us! thou, aspire, aspire
From henceforth for me! thou who hast, thyself,
Endured this fleshhood, knowing how, as a soaked
And sucking vesture, it would drag us down
And choke us in the melancholy Deep,
Sustain me, that, with thee, I walk these waves,
Resisting!–breathe me upward, thou for me
Aspiring, who art the way, the truth, the life,–
That no truth henceforth seem indifferent,
No way to truth laborious, and no life,
Not even this life I live, intolerable!
The days went by. I took up the old days
With all their Tuscan pleasures, worn and spoiled,–
Like some lost book we dropt in the long grass
On such a happy summer-afternoon
When last we read it with a loving friend,
And find in autumn, when the friend is gone,
The grass cut short, the weather changed, too late,
And stare at, as at something wonderful
For sorrow,–thinking how two hands, before,
Had held up what is left to only one,
And how we smiled when such a vehement nail
Impressed the tiny dint here, which presents
This verse in fire for ever! Tenderly
And mournfully I lived. I knew the birds
And insects,–which look fathered by the flowers
And emulous of their hues: I recognised
The moths, with that great overpoise of wings
Which makes a mystery of them how at all
They can stop flying: butterflies, that bear
Upon their blue wings such red embers round,
They seem to scorch the blue air into holes
Each flight they take: and fire-flies, that suspire
In short soft lapses of transported flame
Across the tingling Dark, while overhead
The constant and inviolable stars
Outburn those lights-of-love: melodious owls,
(If music had but one note and was sad,
'Twould sound just so) and all the silent swirl
Of bats, that seem to follow in the air
Some grand circumference of a shadowy dome
To which we are blind: and then, the nightingale
Which pluck our heart across a garden-wall,
(When walking in the town) and carry it
So high into the bowery almond-trees,
We tremble and are afraid, and feel as if
The golden flood of moonlight unaware
Dissolved the pillars of the steady earth
And made it less substantial. An I knew
The harmless opal snakes, and large-mouthed frogs,
(Those noisy vaunters of their shallow streams)
And lizards, the green lightnings of the wall,
Which, if you sit down still, nor sigh too loud,
Will flatter you and take you for a stone,
And flash familiarly about your feet
With such prodigious eyes in such small heads!–
I knew them though they had somewhat dwindled from
My childish imagery,–and kept in mind
How last I sat among them equally,
In fellowship and mateship, as a child
Will bear him still toward insect, beast, and bird,
Before the Adam in him has foregone
All privilege of Eden,–making friends
And talk, with such a bird or such a goat,
And buying many a two-inch-wide rush-cage
To let out the caged cricket on a tree,
Saying, 'Oh, my dear grillino, were you cramped
And are you happy with the ilex-leaves?
And do you love me who have let you go?
Say yes in singing, and I'll understand.'
But now the creatures all seemed farther off,
No longer mine, nor like me; only there,
A gulph between us. I could yearn indeed,
Like other rich men, for a drop of dew
To cool this heat,–a drop of the early dew,
The irrecoverable child-innocence
(Before the heart took fire and withered life)
When childhood might pair equally with birds;
But now . . the birds were grown too proud for us!
Alas, the very sun forbids the dew.

And I, I had come back to an empty nest,
Which every bird's too wise for. How I heard
My father's step on that deserted ground,
His voice along that silence, as he told
The names of bird and insect, tree and flower,
And all the presentations of the stars
Across Valdarno, interposing still
'My child,' 'my child.' When fathers say 'my child,'
'Tis easier to conceive the universe,
And life's transitions down the steps of law.

I rode once to the little mountain-house
As fast as if to find my father there,
But, when in sight of't, within fifty yards,
I dropped my horse's bridle on his neck
And paused upon his flank. The house's front
Was cased with lingots of ripe Indian corn
In tesselated order, and device
Of golden patterns: not a stone of wall
Uncovered,–not an inch of room to grow
A vine-leaf. The old porch had disappeared;
And, in the open doorway, sate a girl
At plaiting straws,-her black hair strained away
To a scarlet kerchief caught beneath her chin
In Tuscan fashion,–her full ebon eyes,
Which looked too heavy to be lifted so,
Still dropt and lifted toward the mulberry-tree
On which the lads were busy with their staves
In shout and laughter, stripping all the boughs
As bare as winter, of those summer leaves
My father had not changed for all the silk
In which the ugly silkworms hide themselves.
Enough. My horse recoiled before my heart–
I turned the rein abruptly. Back we went
As fast, to Florence.
That was trial enough
Of graves. I would not visit, if I could,
My father's or my mother's any more,
To see if stone-cutter or lichen beat
So early in the race, or throw my flowers,
Which could not out-smell heaven or sweeten earth.
They live too far above, that I should look
So far below to find them: let me think
That rather they are visiting my grave,
This life here, (undeveloped yet to life)
And that they drop upon me, now and then,
For token or for solace, some small weed
Least odorous of the growths of paradise,
To spare such pungent scents as kill with joy.
My old Assunta, too was dead, was dead–
O land of all men's past! for me alone,
It would not mix its tenses. I was past,
It seemed, like others,–only not in heaven.
And, many a Tuscan eve, I wandered down
The cypress alley, like a restless ghost
That tries its feeble ineffectual breath
Upon its own charred funeral-brands put out
Too soon,–where, black and stiff, stood up the trees
Against the broad vermilion of the skies.
Such skies!–all clouds abolished in a sweep
Of God's skirt, with a dazzle to ghosts and men,
As down I went, saluting on the bridge
The hem of such, before 'twas caught away
Beyond the peaks of Lucca. Underneath,
The river, just escaping from the weight
Of that intolerable glory, ran
In acquiescent shadow murmurously:
And up, beside it, streamed the festa-folk
With fellow-murmurs from their feet and fans,
(With issimo and ino and sweet poise
Of vowels in their pleasant scandalous talk)
Returning from the grand-duke's dairy-farm
Before the trees grew dangerous at eight,
(For, 'trust no tree by moonlight,' Tuscans say)
To eat their ice at Doni's tenderly,–
Each lovely lady close to a cavalier
Who holds her dear fan while she feeds her smile
On meditative spoonfuls of vanille,
He breathing hot protesting vows of love,
Enough to thaw her cream, and scorch his beard.
'Twas little matter. I could pass them by
Indifferently, not fearing to be known.
No danger of being wrecked upon a friend,
And forced to take an iceberg for an isle!
The very English, here, must wait to learn
To hang the cobweb of their gossip out
And catch a fly. I'm happy. It's sublime,
This perfect solitude of foreign lands!
To be, as if you had not been till then,
And were then, simply that you chose to be:
To spring up, not be brought forth from the ground,
Like grasshoppers at Athens, and skip thrice
Before a woman makes a pounce on you
And plants you in her hair!–possess yourself,
A new world all alive with creatures new,
New sun, new moon, new flowers, new people–ah,
And be possessed by none of them! No right
In one, to call your name, enquire your where,
Or what you think of Mister Some-one's book,
Or Mister Other's marriage, or decease,
Or how's the headache which you had last week,
Or why you look so pale still, since it's gone?
–Such most surprising riddance of one's life
Comes next one's death; it's disembodiment
Without the pang. I marvel, people choose
To stand stock-still like fakirs, till the moss
Grows on them, and they cry out, self-admired,
'How verdant and how virtuous!' Well, I'm glad;
Or should be, if grown foreign to myself
As surely as to others.
Musing so,
I walked the narrow unrecognising streets,
Where many a palace-front peers gloomily
Through stony vizors iron-barred, (prepared
Alike, should foe or lover pass that way,
For guest or victim) and came wandering out
Upon the churches with mild open doors
And plaintive wail of vespers, where a few,
Those chiefly women, sprinkled round in blots
Upon the dusk pavement, knelt and prayed
Toward the altar's silver glory. Oft a ray
(I liked to sit and watch) would tremble out,
Just touch some face more lifted, more in need,
Of course a woman's–while I dreamed a tale
To fit its fortunes. There was one who looked
As if the earth had suddenly grown too large
For such a little humpbacked thing as she;
The pitiful black kerchief round her neck
Sole proof she had had a mother. One, again,
Looked sick for love,–seemed praying some soft saint
To put more virtue in the new fine scarf
She spent a fortnight's meals on, yesterday,
That cruel Gigi might return his eyes
From Giuliana. There was one, so old,
So old, to kneel grew easier than to stand.–
So solitary, she accepts at last
Our Lady for her gossip, and frets on
Against the sinful world which goes its rounds
In marrying and being married, just the same
As when 'twas almost good and had the right,
(Her Gian alive, and she herself eighteen).
And yet, now even, if Madonna willed,
She'd win a tern in Thursday's lottery,
And better all things. Did she dream for nought,
That, boiling cabbage for the fast day's soup,
It smelt like blessed entrails? such a dream
For nought? would sweetest Mary cheat her so,
And lose that certain candle, straight and white
As any fair grand-duchess in her teens,
Which otherwise should flare here in a week?
Benigna sis, thou beauteous Queen of heaven!

I sate there musing and imagining
Such utterance from such faces: poor blind souls
That writhed toward heaven along the devil's trail,–
Who knows, I thought, but He may stretch his hand
And pick them up? 'tis written in the Book,
He heareth the young ravens when they cry;
And yet they cry for carrion.–O my God,–
And we, who make excuses for the rest,
We do it in our measure. Then I knelt,
And dropped my head upon the pavement too,
And prayed, since I was foolish in desire
Like other creatures, craving offal-food,
That He would stop his ears to what I said,
And only listen to the run and beat
Of this poor, passionate, helpless blood–
And then
I lay and spoke not. But He heard in heaven.
So many Tuscan evenings passed the same!
I could not lose a sunset on the bridge,
And would not miss a vigil in the church,
And liked to mingle with the out-door crowd
So strange and gay and ignorant of my face,
For men you know not, are as good as trees.
And only once, at the Santissima,
I almost chanced upon a man I knew,
Sir Blaise Delorme. He saw me certainly,
And somewhat hurried, as he crossed himself,
The smoothness of the action,–then half bowed,
But only half, and merely to my shade,
I slipped so quick behind the porphyry plinth,
And left him dubious if 'twas really I,
Or peradventure Satan's usual trick
To keep a mounting saint uncanonised.
But I was safe for that time, and he too;
The argent angels in the altar-flare
Absorbed his soul next moment. The good man!
In England we were scare acquaintances,
That here in Florence he should keep my thought
Beyond the image on his eye, which came
And went: and yet his thought disturbed my life.
For, after that, I often sate at home
On evenings, watching how they fined themselves
With gradual conscience to a perfect night,
Until a moon, diminished to a curve,
Lay out there, like a sickle for His hand
Who cometh down at last to reap the earth.
At such times, ended seemed my trade of verse;
I feared to jingle bells upon my robe
Before the four-faced silent cherubim;
With God so near me, could I sing of God?
I did not write, nor read, nor even think,
But sate absorbed amid the quickening glooms,
Most like some passive broken lump of salt
Dropt in by chance to a bowl of oenomel,
To spoil the drink a little, and lose itself,
Dissolving slowly, slowly, until lost.

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Joining another big time rock band was the last thing I was looking for, but as the tour went on, I really dug playing to a lot of people, the band sounded great, and just being out there again, got me over my depression and so I decided to hop on board.

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Ezra Pound

Arides

The bashful Arides
Has married an ugly wife,
He was bored with his manner of life,
Indifferent and discouraged he thought he might as
Well do this as anything else.

Saying within his heart,’I am no use to myself,
'Let her, if she wants me, take me.'
He went to his doom.

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A Family of Friends

I look around me,
And what do I see?
A group of friends,
Who have inspired me,
We're there for each other,
We're there any time,
And I can say...

We're a legacy,
A legacy of friends,
We've come together in unity,
Let's join our hands,
And praise our God,
For we are a family of friends.

We've looked around us,
And found our strength,
He is around us,
O praise his name,
He brought us together,
In this place,
So I say again..

We're a legacy,
A legacy of friends,
We've come together in unity,
Let's join our hands,
And praise our God,
For we are a family of friends.

We thought we knew,
Who we were,
But as the days when it by,
It was unclear,
But we came together,
To talk it out,
And we soon found out...

We're a legacy,
A legacy of friends,
We've come together in unity,
Let's join our hands,
And praise our God,
For we are a family of friends.

(April 2010)

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Pandemonium

Who but he,
Could create such pandemonium.
A flickering light that had burned out of sight.
And yet so beloved and giving.

Who but he,
Can stir unbelievable fantasies.
To secure and keep you interested,
For almost a half of a century.

Pushed into the limelight.
And made to thrill.
Made to keep producing...
To fulfill someone else's will.

Who but he,
Could create such pandemoneum?
And if looks could kill,
Each one initiated satiated...
Monstrous appetites for his love.

And somehow he knew this would grow even brighter.
After the sight of his flame was gone.
But he would make sure his flame would burn on!
And on.
And on.
And on.
With a brighter intensity sought!
Too much of him,
Is still 'sizzling' in vaults!

'It's pandemonium,
On and on.
And the beast he has created...
Is there to satiate.

It's pandemonium,
On and on.
To thrill and satisfy,
To make sure no one is denied.

'It's pandemonium,
On and on.
And he has done his best...
Now he must have his peace and rest.

'It's pandemonium,
On and on.
And with his every step...
He made sure everywhere,
Everyone...
Would hold their breath! '

He made sure...
Everyone
Everywhere,
Would hold their breath! '

'It's pandemonium,
On and on.
And the beast he has created...
Is there to satiate.

It's pandemonium,
On and on.
To thrill and satisfy,
To make sure no one who knows him,
Or those who opposed him...
Will be denied.

'Cause he's a 'thriller'
All the time.
Who thrilled us with his music,
And mind! '

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Beowulf (Episode 27)

CAME now to ocean the ever-courageous
hardy henchmen, their harness bearing,
woven war-sarks. The warden marked,
trusty as ever, the earl's return.
From the height of the hill no hostile words
reached the guests as he rode to greet them;
but "Welcome!" he called to that Weder clan
as the sheen-mailed spoilers to ship marched on.
Then on the strand, with steeds and treasure
and armor their roomy and ring-dight ship
was heavily laden: high its mast
rose over Hrothgar's hoarded gems.
A sword to the boat-guard Beowulf gave,
mounted with gold; on the mead-bench since
he was better esteemed, that blade possessing,
heirloom old. -- Their ocean-keel boarding,
they drove through the deep, and Daneland left.
A sea-cloth was set, a sail with ropes,
firm to the mast; the flood-timbers moaned;
nor did wind over billows that wave-swimmer blow
across from her course. The craft sped on,
foam-necked it floated forth o'er the waves,
keel firm-bound over briny currents,
till they got them sight of the Geatish cliffs,
home-known headlands. High the boat,
stirred by winds, on the strand updrove.
Helpful at haven the harbor-guard stood,
who long already for loved companions
by the water had waited and watched afar.
He bound to the beach the broad-bosomed ship
with anchor-bands, lest ocean-billows
that trusty timber should tear away.
Then Beowulf bade them bear the treasure,
gold and jewels; no journey far
was it thence to go to the giver of rings,
Hygelac Hrethling: at home he dwelt
by the sea-wall close, himself and clan.
Haughty that house, a hero the king,
high the hall, and Hygd right young,
wise and wary, though winters few
in those fortress walls she had found a home,
Haereth's daughter. Nor humble her ways,
nor grudged she gifts to the Geatish men,
of precious treasure. Not Thryth's pride showed she,
folk-queen famed, or that fell deceit.
Was none so daring that durst make bold
(save her lord alone) of the liegemen dear
that lady full in the face to look,
but forged fetters he found his lot,
bonds of death! And brief the respite;
soon as they seized him, his sword-doom was spoken,
and the burnished blade a baleful murder
proclaimed and closed. No queenly way
for woman to practise, though peerless she,
that the weaver-of-peace from warrior dear
by wrath and lying his life should reave!
But Hemming's kinsman hindered this. --
For over their ale men also told
that of these folk-horrors fewer she wrought,
onslaughts of evil, after she went,
gold-decked bride, to the brave young prince,
atheling haughty, and Offa's hall
o'er the fallow flood at her father's bidding
safely sought, where since she prospered,
royal, throned, rich in goods,
fain of the fair life fate had sent her,
and leal in love to the lord of warriors.
He, of all heroes I heard of ever
from sea to sea, of the sons of earth,
most excellent seemed. Hence Offa was praised
for his fighting and feeing by far-off men,
the spear-bold warrior; wisely he ruled
over his empire. Eomer woke to him,
help of heroes, Hemming's kinsman,
Grandson of Garmund, grim in war.

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From Perugia

HARRIET BEECHER STOWE'S Letters from Italy.
THE tall, sallow guardsmen their horsetails have spread,
Flaming out in their violet, yellow, and red;
And behind go the lackeys in crimson and buff,
And the chamberlains gorgeous in velvet and ruff;
Next, in red-legged pomp, come the cardinals forth,
Each a lord of the church and a prince of the earth.
What's this squeak of the fife, and this batter of drum?
Lo! the Swiss of the Church from Perugia come;
The militant angels, whose sabres drive home
To the hearts of the malcontents, cursed and abhorred,
The good Father's missives, and 'Thus saith the Lord!'
And lend to his logic the point of the sword!
O maids of Etruria, gazing forlorn
O'er dark Thrasymenus, dishevelled and torn!
O fathers, who pluck at your gray beards for shame!
O mothers, struck dumb by a woe without name!
Well ye know how the Holy Church hireling behaves,
And his tender compassion of prisons and graves!
There they stand, the hired stabbers, the bloodstains yet fresh,
That splashed like red wine from the vintage of flesh;
Grim instruments, careless as pincers and rack
How the joints tear apart, and the strained sinews crack;
But the hate that glares on them is sharp as their swords,
And the sneer and the scowl print the air with fierce words!
Off with hats, down with knees, shout your vivas like mad!
Here's the Pope in his holiday righteousness clad,
From shorn crown to toe-nail, kiss-worn to the quick,
Of sainthood in purple the pattern and pick,
Who the rôle of the priest and the soldier unites,
And, praying like Aaron, like Joshua fights!
Is this Pio Nono the gracious, for whom
We sang our hosannas and lighted all Rome;
With whose advent we dreamed the new era began
When the priest should be human, the monk be a man?
Ah, the wolf's with the sheep, and the fox with the fowl,
When freedom we trust to the crosier and cowl!
Stand aside, men of Rome! Here's a hangman-faced Swiss —
(A blessing for him surely can't go amiss) —
Would kneel down the sanctified slipper to kiss.
Short shrift will suffice him, —he's blest beyond doubt;
But there's blood on his hands which would scarcely wash out,
Though Peter himself held the baptismal spout!
Make way for the next! Here's another sweet son!
What's this mastiff-jawed rascal in epaulets done?
He did, whispers rumor, (its truth God forbid!)
At Perugia what Herod at Bethlehem did.
And the mothers? Don't name them! these humors of war
They who keep him in service must pardon him for.
Hist! here's the arch-knave in a cardinal's hat,
With the heart of a wolf, and the stealth of a cat
(As if Judas and Herod together were rolled),
Who keeps, all as one, the Pope's conscience and gold,
Mounts guard on the altar, and pilfers from thence,
And flatters St. Peter while stealing his pence!
Who doubts Antonelli? Have miracles ceased
When robbers say mass, and Barabbas is priest?
When the Church eats and drinks, at its mystical board,
The true flesh and blood carved and shed by its sword,
When its martyr, unsinged, claps the crown on his head,
And roasts, as his proxy, his neighbor instead!
There! the bells jow and jangle the same blessed way
That they did when they rang for Bartholomew's day.
Hark! the tallow-faced monsters, nor women nor boys,
Vex the air with a shrill, sexless horror of noise.
Te Deum laudamus! All round without stint
The incense-pot swings with a taint of blood in't!
And now for the blessing! Of little account,
You know, is the old one they heard on the Mount.
Its giver was landless, His raiment was poor,
No jewelled tiara His fishermen wore;
No incense, no lackeys, no riches, no home,
No Swiss guards! We order things better at Rome.
So bless us the strong hand, and curse us the weak;
Let Austria's vulture have food for her beak;
Let the wolf-whelp of Naples play Bomba again,
With his death-cap of silence, and halter, and chain;
Put reason, and justice, and truth under ban;
For the sin unforgiven is freedom for man!

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Edmund Spenser

The Shepheardes Calender: Februarie

Februarie: Ægloga Secunda. CVDDIE & THENOT.

CVDDIE.
AH for pittie, wil ranke Winters rage,
These bitter blasts neuer ginne tasswage?
The keene cold blowes throug my beaten hyde,
All as I were through the body gryde.
My ragged rontes all shiver and shake,
As doen high Towers in an earthquake:
They wont in the wind wagge their wrigle tailes,
Perke as Peacock: but nowe it auales.

THENOT.
Lewdly complainest thou laesie ladde,
Of Winters wracke, for making thee sadde.
Must not the world wend in his commun course
From good to badd, and from badde to worse,
From worse vnto that is worst of all,
And then returne to his former fall?
Who will not suffer the stormy time,
Where will he liue tyll the lusty prime?
Selfe haue I worne out thrise threttie yeares,
Some in much ioy, many in many teares:
Yet never complained of cold nor heate,
Of Sommers flame, nor of Winters threat:
Ne euer was to Fortune foeman,
But gently tooke, that vngently came.
And euer my flocke was my chiefe care,
Winter or Sommer they mought well fare.

CVDDIE.
No marueile Thenot, if thou can not beare
Cherefully the Winters wrathfull cheare:
For Age and Winter accord full nie,
This chill, that cold, this crooked, that wrye.
And as the lowring Wether lookes downe,
So semest thou like good fryday to frowne.
But my flowring youth is foe to frost,
My shippe vnwont in stormes to be tost.

THENOT.
The soueraigne of seas he blames in vaine,
That once seabeate, will to sea againe.
So loytring liue you little heardgroomes,
Keeping your beastes in the budded broomes:
And when the shining sunne laugheth once,
You deemen, the Spring is come attonce.
Tho gynne you, fond flyes, the cold to scorn,
And crowing in pypes made of greene corne,
You thinken to be Lords of the yeare.
But eft, when ye count you freed from feare,
Comes the breme winter with chamfred browes,
Full of wrinckles and frostie furrowes:
Drerily shooting his stormy darte,
Which cruddles the blood, and pricks the harte.
Then is your carelesse corage accoied,
Your carefull heards with cold bene annoied.
Then paye you the price of your surqedrie,
With weeping, and wayling, and misery.

CVDDIE.
Ah foolish old man, I scorne thy skill,
That wouldest me, my springing yougth to spil.
I deeme, thy braine emperished bee
Through rusty elde, that hath rotted thee:
Or sicker thy head veray tottie is,
So on thy corbe shoulder it leanes amisse.
Now thy selfe hast lost both lopp and topp,
Als my budding branch thou wouldest cropp:
But were thy yeares greene, as now bene myne,
To other delights they would encline.
Tho wouldest thou learne to caroll of Loue,
And hery with hymnes thy lasses gloue.
Tho wouldest thou pype of Phyllis prayse:
But Phyllis is myne for many dayes:
I wonne her with a girdle of gelt,
Embost with buegle about the belt.
Such an one shepeheards woulde make full faine:
Such an one would make thee younge againe.

THENOT.
Thou art a fon, of thy loue to boste,
All that is lent to loue, wyll be lost.

CVDDIE.
Seest, howe brag yond Bullocke beares,
So smirke, so smoothe, his pricked eares?
His hornes bene as broade, as Rainebowe bent,
His dewelap as lythe, as lasse of Kent.
See howe he venteth into the wynd.
Weenest of loue is not his mynd?
Seemeth thy flock thy counsell can,
So lustlesse bene they, so weake so wan,
Clothed with cold, and hoary wyth frost.
Thy flocks father his corage hath lost:
Thy Ewes, that wont to haue blowen bags,
Like wailful widdowes hangen their crags:
The rather Lambes bene starued with cold,
All for their Maister is lustlesse and old.

THENOT.
Cuddie, I wote thou kenst little good,
So vainely taduance thy headlesse hood.
For Youngth is a bubble blown vp with breath,
Whose witt is weakenesse, whose wage is death,
Whose way is wildernesse, whose ynne Penaunce,
And stoopegallaunt Age the hoste of Greeuance.
But shall I tel thee a tale of truth,
Which I cond of Tityrus in my youth,
Keeping his sheepe on the hils of Kent?

CVDDIE.
To nought more, Thenot, my mind is bent,
Then to heare nouells of his deuise:
They bene so well thewed, and so wise,
What euer that good old man bespake.

THENOT.
Many meete tales of youth did he make,
And some of loue, and some of cheualrie:
But none fitter than this to applie.
Now listen a while, and hearken the end.
THere grewe an aged Tree on the greene,
A goodly Oake sometime had it bene,
With armes full strong and largely displayd,
But of their leaues they were disarayde:
The bodie bigge, and mightily pight,
Throughly rooted, and of wonderous hight:
Whilome had bene the King of the field,
And mochell mast to the husband did yielde,
And with his nuts larded many swine.
But now the gray mosse marred his rine,
His bared boughes were beaten with stormes,
His toppe was bald, & wasted with wormes,
His honor decayed, his braunches sere.
Hard by his side grew a bragging brere,
Which proudly thrust into Thelement,
And seemed to threat the Firmament.
Yt was embellisht with blossomes fayre,
And thereto aye wonned to repayre
The shepheards daughters, to gather flowres,
To peinct thir girlonds with his colowres.
And in his small bushes vsed to shrowde
The sweete Nightingale singing so lowde:
Which made this foolish Brere wexe so bold,
That on a time he cast him to scold,
And snebbe the good Oake, for he was old.
Why standst there (quoth he) thou brutish blocke?
Nor for fruict, nor for shadowe serues thy stocke:
Seest, how fresh my flowers bene spredde,
Dyed in Lilly white, and Cremsin redde,
With leaves engrained in lusty greene,
Colours meete to clothe a mayden Queene.
Thy wast bignes but combers the grownd,
And dirks the beauty of my blossomes rownd.
The mouldie mosse, which thee accloieth,
My Sinnamon smell too much annoieth.
Wherefore soone I rede thee, hence remove,
Least thou the price of my displeasure proue.
So spake this bold brere with great disdaine:
Little him answered the Oake againe,
But yielded, with shame and greefe adawed,
That of a weede he was ouerawed.
Yt chaunced after vpon a day,
The Hus-bandman selfe to come that way,
Of custome to seruewe his grownd,
And his trees of state in compasse rownd.
Him when the spitefull brere had espyed,
Causlesse complained, and lowdly cryed
Vnto his Lord, stirring vp sterne strife:
O my liege Lord, the God of my life,
Pleaseth you ponder your Suppliants plaint,
Caused of wrong, and cruell constraint,
Which I your poore Vassall dayly endure:
And but your goodnes the same recure,
Am like for desperate doole to dye,
Through felonous force of mine enemie.
Greatly aghast with this piteous plea,
Him rested the goodman on the lea,
And badde the Brere in his plaint proceede.
With painted words tho gan this proude weede,
(As most vsen Ambitious folke
His colowred crime with craft to cloke.
Ah my soueraigne, Lord of creatures all,
Thou placer of plants both humble and tall,
Was not I planted of thine owne hand,
To be the primrose of all thy land,
With flowring blossomes, to furnish the prime,
And scarlot berries in Sommer time?
How falls it then, that this faded Oake,
Whose bodie is sere, whose braunches broke,
Whose naked Armes stretch vnto the fyre,
Vnto such tyrannie doth aspire:
Hindering with his shade my louely light,
And robbing me of the swete sonnes sight?
So beate his old boughes my tender side,
That oft the bloud springeth from wounds wyde:
Vntimely my flowres forced to fall,
That bene the honor of your Coranall.
And oft he lets his cancker wormes light
Vpon my braunches, to worke me more spight:
And oft his hoarie locks downe doth cast,
Where with my fresh flowretts bene defast.
For this, and many more such outrage,
Crauing your goodlihead to aswage
The ranckorous rigour of his might,
Nought aske I, but onely to hold my right:
Submitting me to your good sufferance,
And praying to be garded from greeuance.
To this the Oake cast him to replie
Well as he couth: but his enemie
Had kindled such coles of displeasure,
That the good man noulde stay his leasure,
But home him hasted with furious heate,
Encreasing his wrath with many a threate.
His harmefull Hatchet he hent in hand,
(Alas, that it so ready should stand)
And to the field alone he speedeth.
(Ay little helpe to harme there needeth)
Anger nould let him speake to the tree,
Enaunter his rage mought cooled bee:
But to the roote bent his sturdy stroke,
And made many wounds in the wast Oake.
The Axes edge did oft turne againe,
As if halfe vnwilling to cutte the graine:
Semed, the sencelesse yron dyd feare,
Or to wrong holy eld did forbeare.
For it had bene an auncient tree,
Sacred with many a mysteree,
And often crost with the priestes crewe,
And often halowed with holy water dewe.
But sike fancies weren foolerie,
And broughten this Oake to this miserye.
For nought mought they quitten him from decay:
For fiercely the good man at him did laye.
The blocke oft groned vnder the blow,
And sighed to see his neare ouerthrow.
In fine the steele had pierced his pith,
Tho downe to the earth he fell forthwith:
His wonderous weight made the grounde to quake,
Thearth shronke vnder him, and seemed to shake.
There lyeth the Oake, pitied of none.
Now stands the Brere like a Lord alone,
Puffed vp with pryde and vaine pleasaunce:
But all this glee had no continuaunce.
For eftsones Winter gan to approche,
The blustring Boreas did encroche,
And beate vpon the solitarie Brere:
For nowe no succoure was seene him nere.
Now gan he repent his pryde to late:
For naked left and disconsolate,
The byting frost nipt his stalke dead,
The watrie wette weighed downe his head,
And heaped snowe burdned him so sore,
That nowe vpright he can stand no more:
And being downe, is trodde in the durt
Of cattell, and brouzed, and sorely hurt.
Such was thend of this Ambitious brere,
For scorning Eld

CVDDIE.
Now I pray thee shepheard, tel it not forth:
Here is a long tale, and little worth.
So longe haue I listned to thy speche,
That graffed to the ground is my breache:
My hartblood is welnigh frorne I feele,
And my galage growne fast to my heele:
But little ease of thy lewd tale I tasted.
Hye thee home shepheard, the day is nigh wasted.

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The Fight With The Dragon

Why run the crowd? What means the throng
That rushes fast the streets along?
Can Rhodes a prey to flames, then, be?
In crowds they gather hastily,
And, on his steed, a noble knight
Amid the rabble, meets my sight;
Behind him--prodigy unknown!--
A monster fierce they're drawing on;
A dragon stems it by its shape,
With wide and crocodile-like jaw,
And on the knight and dragon gape,
In turns, the people, filled with awe.

And thousand voices shout with glee
"The fiery dragon come and see,
Who hind and flock tore limb from limb!--
The hero see, who vanquished him!
Full many a one before him went,
To dare the fearful combat bent,
But none returned home from the fight;
Honor ye, then, the noble knight!"
And toward the convent move they all,
While met in hasty council there
The brave knights of the Hospital,
St. John the Baptist's Order, were.

Up to the noble master sped
The youth, with firm but modest tread;
The people followed with wild shout,
And stood the landing-place about,
While thus outspoke that daring one:
"My knightly duty I have done.
The dragon that laid waste the land
Has fallen beneath my conquering hand.
The way is to the wanderer free,
The shepherd o'er the plains may rove;
Across the mountains joyfully
The pilgrim to the shrine may move."

But sternly looked the prince, and said:
"The hero's part thou well hast played
By courage is the true knight known,--
A dauntless spirit thou hast shown.
Yet speak! What duty first should he
Regard, who would Christ's champion be,
Who wears the emblem of the Cross?"--
And all turned pale at his discourse.
Yet he replied, with noble grace,
While blushingly he bent him low:
"That he deserves so proud a place
Obedience best of all can show."

"My son," the master answering spoke,
"Thy daring act this duty broke.
The conflict that the law forbade
Thou hast with impious mind essayed."--
"Lord, judge when all to thee is known,"
The other spake, in steadfast tone,--
"For I the law's commands and will
Purposed with honor to fulfil.
I went not out with heedless thought.
Hoping the monster dread to find;
To conquer in the fight I sought
By cunning, and a prudent mind."

"Five of our noble Order, then
(Our faith could boast no better men),
Had by their daring lost their life,
When thou forbadest us the strife.
And yet my heart I felt a prey
To gloom, and panted for the fray;
Ay, even in the stilly night,
In vision gasped I in the fight;
And when the glimmering morning came,
And of fresh troubles knowledge gave,
A raging grief consumed my frame,
And I resolved the thing to brave."

"And to myself I thus began:
'What is't adorns the youth, the man?
What actions of the heroes bold,
Of whom in ancient song we're told,
Blind heathendom raised up on high
To godlike fame and dignity?
The world, by deeds known far and wide,
From monsters fierce they purified;
The lion in the fight they met,
And wrestled with the minotaur,
Unhappy victims free to set,
And were not sparing of their gore.'"

"'Are none but Saracens to feel
The prowess of the Christian steel?
False idols only shall be brave?
His mission is the world to save;
To free it, by his sturdy arm,
From every hurt, from every harm;
Yet wisdom must his courage bend,
And cunning must with strength contend.'
Thus spake I oft, and went alone
The monster's traces to espy;
When on my mind a bright light shone,--
'I have it!' was my joyful cry."

"To thee I went, and thus I spake:
'My homeward journey I would take.'
Thou, lord, didst grant my prayer to me,--
Then safely traversed I the sea;
And, when I reached my native strand,
I caused a skilful artist's hand
To make a dragon's image, true
To his that now so well I knew.
On feet of measure short was placed
Its lengthy body's heavy load;
A scaly coat of mail embraced
The back, on which it fiercely showed."

"Its stretching neck appeared to swell,
And, ghastly as a gate of hell,
Its fearful jaws were open wide,
As if to seize the prey it tried;
And in its black mouth, ranged about,
Its teeth in prickly rows stood out;
Its tongue was like a sharp-edged sword,
And lightning from its small eyes poured;
A serpent's tail of many a fold
Ended its body's monstrous span,
And round itself with fierceness rolled,
So as to clasp both steed and man."

"I formed the whole to nature true,
In skin of gray and hideous hue;
Part dragon it appeared, part snake,
Engendered in the poisonous lake.
And, when the figure was complete,
A pair of dogs I chose me, fleet,
Of mighty strength, of nimble pace,
Inured the savage boar to chase;
The dragon, then, I made them bait,
Inflaming them to fury dread,
With their sharp teeth to seize it straight,
And with my voice their motions led."

"And, where the belly's tender skin
Allowed the tooth to enter in,
I taught them how to seize it there,
And, with their fangs, the part to tear.
I mounted, then, my Arab steed,
The offspring of a noble breed;
My hand a dart on high held forth,
And, when I had inflamed his wrath,
I stuck my sharp spurs in his side,
And urged him on as quick as thought,
And hurled my dart in circles wide
As if to pierce the beast I sought."

"And though my steed reared high in pain,
And champed and foamed beneath the rein,
And though the dogs howled fearfully,
Till they were calmed ne'er rested I.
This plan I ceaselessly pursued,
Till thrice the moon had been renewed;
And when they had been duly taught,
In swift ships here I had them brought;
And since my foot these shores has pressed
Flown has three mornings' narrow span;
I scarce allowed my limbs to rest
Ere I the mighty task began."

"For hotly was my bosom stirred
When of the land's fresh grief I heard;
Shepherds of late had been his prey,
When in the marsh they went astray.
I formed my plans then hastily,--
My heart was all that counselled me.
My squires instructing to proceed,
I sprang upon my well-trained steed,
And, followed by my noble pair
Of dogs, by secret pathways rode,
Where not an eye could witness bear,
To find the monster's fell abode."

"Thou, lord, must know the chapel well,
Pitched on a rocky pinnacle,
That overlooks the distant isle;
A daring mind 'twas raised the pile.
Though humble, mean, and small it shows
Its walls a miracle enclose,--
The Virgin and her infant Son,
Vowed by the three kings of Cologne.
By three times thirty steps is led
The pilgrim to the giddy height;
Yet, when he gains it with bold tread,
He's quickened by his Saviour's sight."

"Deep in the rock to which it clings,
A cavern dark its arms outflings,
Moist with the neighboring moorland's dew,
Where heaven's bright rays can ne'er pierce through.
There dwelt the monster, there he lay,
His spoil awaiting, night and day;
Like the hell-dragon, thus he kept
Watch near the shrine, and never slept;
And if a hapless pilgrim chanced
To enter on that fatal way,
From out his ambush quick advanced
The foe, and seized him as his prey."

"I mounted now the rocky height;
Ere I commenced the fearful fight,
There knelt I to the infant Lord,
And pardon for my sins implored.
Then in the holy fane I placed
My shining armor round my waist,
My right hand grasped my javelin,
The fight then went I to begin;
Instructions gave my squires among,
Commanding them to tarry there;
Then on my steed I nimbly sprung,
And gave my spirit to God's care."

"Soon as I reached the level plain,
My dogs found out the scent amain;
My frightened horse soon reared on high,--
His fear I could not pacify,
For, coiled up in a circle, lo!
There lay the fierce and hideous foe,
Sunning himself upon the ground.
Straight at him rushed each nimble hound;
Yet thence they turned, dismayed and fast,
When he his gaping jaws op'd wide,
Vomited forth his poisonous blast,
And like the howling jackal cried."

"But soon their courage I restored;
They seized with rage the foe abhorred,
While I against the beast's loins threw
My spear with sturdy arm and true:
But, powerless as a bulrush frail,
It bounded from his coat of mail;
And ere I could repeat the throw,
My horse reeled wildly to and fro
Before his basilisk-like look,
And at his poison-teeming breath,--
Sprang backward, and with terror shook,
While I seemed doomed to certain death."

"Then from my steed I nimbly sprung,
My sharp-edged sword with vigor swung;
Yet all in vain my strokes I plied,--
I could not pierce his rock-like hide.
His tail with fury lashing round,
Sudden he bore me to the ground.
His jaws then opening fearfully,
With angry teeth he struck at me;
But now my dogs, with wrath new-born,
Rushed on his belly with fierce bite,
So that, by dreadful anguish torn,
He howling stood before my sight."

"And ere he from their teeth was free,
I raised myself up hastily,
The weak place of the foe explored,
And in his entrails plunged my sword,
Sinking it even to the hilt;
Black gushing forth, his blood was spilt.
Down sank he, burying in his fall
Me with his body's giant ball,
So that my senses quickly fled;
And when I woke with strength renewed,
The dragon in his blood lay dead,
While round me grouped my squires all stood."

The joyous shouts, so long suppressed,
Now burst from every hearer's breast,
Soon as the knight these words had spoken;
And ten times 'gainst the high vault broken,
The sound of mingled voices rang,
Re-echoing back with hollow clang.
The Order's sons demand, in haste,
That with a crown his brow be graced,
And gratefully in triumph now
The mob the youth would bear along
When, lo! the master knit his brow,
And called for silence 'mongst the throng.

And said, "The dragon that this land
Laid waste, thou slew'st with daring hand;
Although the people's idol thou,
The Order's foe I deem thee now.
Thy breast has to a fiend more base
Than e'en this dragon given place.
The serpent that the heart most stings,
And hatred and destruction brings,
That spirit is, which stubborn lies,
And impiously cast off the rein,
Despising order's sacred ties;
'Tis that destroys the world amain."

"The Mameluke makes of courage boast,
Obedience decks the Christian most;
For where our great and blessed Lord
As a mere servant walked abroad,
The fathers, on that holy ground,
This famous Order chose to found,
That arduous duty to fulfil
To overcome one's own self-will!
'Twas idle glory moved thee there:
So take thee hence from out my sight!
For who the Lord's yoke cannot bear,
To wear his cross can have no right."

A furious shout now raise the crowd,
The place is filled with outcries loud;
The brethren all for pardon cry;
The youth in silence droops his eye--
Mutely his garment from him throws,
Kisses the master's hand, and--goes.
But he pursues him with his gaze,
Recalls him lovingly, and says:
"Let me embrace thee now, my son!
The harder fight is gained by thee.
Take, then, this cross--the guerdon won
By self-subdued humility."

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John Dryden

Palamon And Arcite; Or The Knight's Tale. From Chaucer. In Three Books. Book II.

While Arcite lives in bliss, the story turns
Where hopeless Palamon in prison mourns.
For six long years immured, the captive knight
Had dragged his chains, and scarcely seen the light:
Lost liberty and love at once he bore;
His prison pained him much, his passion more:
Nor dares he hope his fetters to remove,
Nor ever wishes to be free from love.
But when the sixth revolving year was run,
And May within the Twins received the sun,
Were it by Chance, or forceful Destiny,
Which forms in causes first whate'er shall be,
Assisted by a friend one moonless night,
This Palamon from prison took his flight:
A pleasant beverage he prepared before
Of wine and honey mixed, with added store
Of opium; to his keeper this he brought,
Who swallowed unaware the sleepy draught,
And snored secure till morn, his senses bound
In slumber, and in long oblivion drowned.
Short was the night, and careful Palamon
Sought the next covert ere the rising sun.
A thick-spread forest near the city lay,
To this with lengthened strides he took his way,
(For far he could not fly, and feared the day.)

Safe from pursuit, he meant to shun the light,
Till the brown shadows of the friendly night
To Thebes might favour his intended flight.
When to his country come, his next design
Was all the Theban race in arms to join,
And war on Theseus, till he lost his life,
Or won the beauteous Emily to wife.
Thus while his thoughts the lingering day beguile,
To gentle Arcite let us turn our style;
Who little dreamt how nigh he was to care,
Till treacherous fortune caught him in the snare.
The morning-lark, the messenger of day,
Saluted in her song the morning gray;
And soon the sun arose with beams so bright,
That all the horizon laughed to see the joyous sight;
He with his tepid rays the rose renews,
And licks the dropping leaves, and dries the dews;
When Arcite left his bed, resolved to pay
Observance to the month of merry May,
Forth on his fiery steed betimes he rode,
That scarcely prints the turf on which he trod:
At ease he seemed, and prancing o'er the plains,
Turned only to the grove his horse's reins,
The grove I named before, and, lighting there,
A woodbind garland sought to crown his hair;
Then turned his face against the rising day,
And raised his voice to welcome in the May:
“For thee, sweet month, the groves green liveries wear,
If not the first, the fairest of the year:
For thee the Graces lead the dancing hours,
And Nature's ready pencil paints the flowers:
When thy short reign is past, the feverish sun
The sultry tropic fears, and moves more slowly on.
So may thy tender blossoms fear no blight,
Nor goats with venomed teeth thy tendrils bite,
As thou shalt guide my wandering feet to find
The fragrant greens I seek, my brows to bind.”
His vows addressed, within the grove he strayed,
Till Fate or Fortune near the place conveyed
His steps where secret Palamon was laid.
Full little thought of him the gentle knight,
Who flying death had there concealed his flight,
In brakes and brambles hid, and shunning mortal sight;
And less he knew him for his hated foe,
But feared him as a man he did not know.
But as it has been said of ancient years,
That fields are full of eyes and woods have ears,
For this the wise are ever on their guard,
For unforeseen, they say, is unprepared.
Uncautious Arcite thought himself alone,
And less than all suspected Palamon,
Who, listening, heard him, while he searched the grove,
And loudly sung his roundelay of love:
But on the sudden stopped, and silent stood,
(As lovers often muse, and change their mood
Now high as heaven, and then as low as hell,
Now up, now down, as buckets in a well:
For Venus, like her day, will change her cheer,
And seldom shall we see a Friday clear.
Thus Arcite, having sung, with altered hue
Sunk on the ground, and from his bosom drew
A desperate sigh, accusing Heaven and Fate,
And angry Juno's unrelenting hate:
“Cursed be the day when first I did appear;
Let it be blotted from the calendar,
Lest it pollute the month, and poison all the year.
Still will the jealous Queen pursue our race?
Cadmus is dead, the Theban city was:
Yet ceases not her hate; for all who come
From Cadmus are involved in Cadmus' doom.
I suffer for my blood: unjust decree,
That punishes another's crime on me.
In mean estate I serve my mortal foe,
The man who caused my country's overthrow.
This is not all; for Juno, to my shame,
Has forced me to forsake my former name;
Arcite I was, Philostratus I am.
That side of heaven is all my enemy:
Mars ruined Thebes; his mother ruined me.
Of all the royal race remains but one
Besides myself, the unhappy Palamon,
Whom Theseus holds in bonds and will not free;
Without a crime, except his kin to me.
Yet these and all the rest I could endure;
But love's a malady without a cure:
Fierce Love has pierced me with his fiery dart,
He fires within, and hisses at my heart.
Your eyes, fair Emily, my fate pursue;
I suffer for the rest, I die for you.
Of such a goddess no time leaves record,
Who burned the temple where she was adored:
And let it burn, I never will complain,
Pleased with my sufferings, if you knew my pain.”
At this a sickly qualm his heart assailed,
His ears ring inward, and his senses failed.
No word missed Palamon of all he spoke;
But soon to deadly pale he changed his look:
He trembled every limb, and felt a smart,
As if cold steel had glided through his heart;
Nor longer stayed, but starting from his place,
Discovered stood, and showed his hostile face:
“False traitor, Arcite, traitor to thy blood,
Bound by thy sacred oath to seek my good,
Now art thou found forsworn for Emily,
And darest attempt her love, for whom I die.
So hast thou cheated Theseus with a wile,
Against thy vow, returning to beguile
Under a borrowed name: as false to me,
So false thou art to him who set thee free.
But rest assured, that either thou shalt die,
Or else renounce thy claim in Emily;
For, though unarmed I am, and freed by chance,
Am here without my sword or pointed lance,
Hope not, base man, unquestioned hence to go,
For I am Palamon, thy mortal foe.”
Arcite, who heard his tale and knew the man,
His sword unsheathed, and fiercely thus began:
“Now, by the gods who govern heaven above,
Wert thou not weak with hunger, mad with love,
That word had been thy last; or in this grove
This hand should force thee to renounce thy love;
The surety which I gave thee I defy:
Fool, not to know that love endures no tie,
And Jove but laughs at lovers' perjury.
Know, I will serve the fair in thy despite:
But since thou art my kinsman and a knight,
Here, have my faith, to-morrow in this grove
Our arms shall plead the titles of our love:
And Heaven so help my right, as I alone
Will come, and keep the cause and quarrel both unknown,
With arms of proof both for myself and thee;
Choose thou the best, and leave the worst to me.
And, that at better ease thou mayest abide,
Bedding and clothes I will this night provide,
And needful sustenance, that thou mayest be
A conquest better won, and worthy me.”

His promise Palamon accepts; but prayed,
To keep it better than the first he made.
Thus fair they parted till the morrow's dawn;
For each had laid his plighted faith to pawn;
Oh Love! thou sternly dost thy power maintain,
And wilt not bear a rival in thy reign!
Tyrants and thou all fellowship disdain.
This was in Arcite proved and Palamon:
Both in despair, yet each would love alone.
Arcite returned, and, as in honour tied,
His foe with bedding and with food supplied;
Then, ere the day, two suits of armour sought,
Which borne before him on his steed he brought:
Both were of shining steel, and wrought so pure
As might the strokes of two such arms endure.
Now, at the time, and in the appointed place,
The challenger and challenged, face to face,
Approach; each other from afar they knew,
And from afar their hatred changed their hue.
So stands the Thracian herdsman with his spear,
Full in the gap, and hopes the hunted bear,
And hears him rustling in the wood, and sees
His course at distance by the bending trees:
And thinks, Here comes my mortal enemy,
And either he must fall in fight, or I:
This while he thinks, he lifts aloft his dart;
A generous chillness seizes every part,
The veins pour back the blood, and fortify the heart.

Thus pale they meet; their eyes with fury burn;
None greets, for none the greeting will return;
But in dumb surliness each armed with care
His foe professed, as brother of the war;
Then both, no moment lost, at once advance
Against each other, armed with sword and lance:
They lash, they foin, they pass, they strive to bore
Their corslets, and the thinnest parts explore.
Thus two long hours in equal arms they stood,
And wounded wound, till both are bathed in blood
And not a foot of ground had either got,
As if the world depended on the spot.
Fell Arcite like an angry tiger fared,
And like a lion Palamon appeared:
Or, as two boars whom love to battle draws,
With rising bristles and with frothy jaws,
Their adverse breasts with tusks oblique they wound
With grunts and groans the forest rings around.
So fought the knights, and fighting must abide,
Till Fate an umpire sends their difference to decide.
The power that ministers to God's decrees,
And executes on earth what Heaven foresees,
Called Providence, or Chance, or Fatal sway,
Comes with resistless force, and finds or makes her way.
Nor kings, nor nations, nor united power
One moment can retard the appointed hour,
And some one day, some wondrous chance appears,
Which happened not in centuries of years:
For sure, whate'er we mortals hate or love
Or hope or fear depends on powers above:
They move our appetites to good or ill,
And by foresight necessitate the will.
In Theseus this appears, whose youthful joy
Was beasts of chase in forests to destroy;
This gentle knight, inspired by jolly May,
Forsook his easy couch at early day,
And to the wood and wilds pursued his way.
Beside him rode Hippolita the queen,
And Emily attired in lively green,
With horns and hounds and all the tuneful cry,
To hunt a royal hart within the covert nigh:
And, as he followed Mars before, so now
He serves the goddess of the silver bow.
The way that Theseus took was to the wood,
Where the two knights in cruel battle stood:
The laund on which they fought, the appointed place
In which the uncoupled hounds began the chase.
Thither forth-right he rode to rouse the prey,
That shaded by the fern in harbour lay;
And thence dislodged, was wont to leave the wood
For open fields, and cross the crystal flood.
Approached, and looking underneath the sun,
He saw proud Arcite and fierce Palamon,
In mortal battle doubling blow on blow;
Like lightning flamed their fauchions to and fro,
And shot a dreadful gleam; so strong they strook,
There seemed less force required to fell an oak.
He gazed with wonder on their equal might,
Looked eager on, but knew not either knight.
Resolved to learn, he spurred his fiery steed
With goring rowels to provoke his speed.
The minute ended that began the race,
So soon he was betwixt them on the place;
And with his sword unsheathed, on pain of life
Commands both combatants to cease their strife;
Then with imperious tone pursues his threat:
“What are you? why in arms together met?
How dares your pride presume against my laws,
As in a listed field to fight your cause,
Unasked the royal grant; no marshal by,
As knightly rites require, nor judge to try?”
Then Palamon, with scarce recovered breath,
Thus hasty spoke: “We both deserve the death,
And both would die; for look the world around,
And pity soonest runs in gentle minds;
Then reasons with himself; and first he finds
His passion cast a mist before his sense,
And either made or magnified the offence.
Offence? Of what? To whom? Who judged the cause?
The prisoner freed himself by Nature's laws;
Born free, he sought his right; the man he freed
Was perjured, but his love excused the deed:
Thus pondering, he looked under with his eyes,
And saw the women's tears, and heard their cries,
Which moved compassion more; he shook his head,
And softly sighing to himself he said:

Curse on the unpardoning prince, whom tears can draw
“To no remorse, who rules by lion's law;
And deaf to prayers, by no submission bowed,
Rends all alike, the penitent and proud!”
At this with look serene he raised his head;
Reason resumed her place, and passion fled:
Then thus aloud he spoke:—” The power of Love,
“In earth, and seas, and air, and heaven above,
Rules, unresisted, with an awful nod,
By daily miracles declared a god;
He blinds the wise, gives eye-sight to the blind;
And moulds and stamps anew the lover's mind.
Behold that Arcite, and this Palamon,
Freed from my fetters, and in safety gone,
What hindered either in their native soil
At ease to reap the harvest of their toil?
But Love, their lord, did otherwise ordain,
And brought them, in their own despite again,
To suffer death deserved; for well they know
'Tis in my power, and I their deadly foe.
The proverb holds, that to be wise and love,
Is hardly granted to the gods above.
See how the madmen bleed! behold the gains
With which their master, Love, rewards their pains!
For seven long years, on duty every day,
Lo! their obedience, and their monarch's pay!
Yet, as in duty bound, they serve him on;
And ask the fools, they think it wisely done;
Nor ease nor wealth nor life it self regard,
For 'tis their maxim, love is love's reward.
This is not all; the fair, for whom they strove,
Nor knew before, nor could suspect their love,
Nor thought, when she beheld the fight from far,
Her beauty was the occasion of the war.
But sure a general doom on man is past,
And all are fools and lovers, first or last:
This both by others and my self I know,
For I have served their sovereign long ago;
Oft have been caught within the winding train
Of female snares, and felt the lover's pain,
And learned how far the god can human hearts constrain.
To this remembrance, and the prayers of those
Who for the offending warriors interpose,
I give their forfeit lives, on this accord,
To do me homage as their sovereign lord;
And as my vassals, to their utmost might,
Assist my person and assert my right.”
This freely sworn, the knights their grace obtained;
Then thus the King his secret thought explained:
“If wealth or honour or a royal race,
Or each or all, may win a lady's grace,
Then either of you knights may well deserve
A princess born; and such is she you serve:
For Emily is sister to the crown,
And but too well to both her beauty known:
But should you combat till you both were dead,
Two lovers cannot share a single bed
As, therefore, both are equal in degree,
The lot of both be left to destiny.
Now hear the award, and happy may it prove
To her, and him who best deserves her love.
Depart from hence in peace, and free as air,
Search the wide world, and where you please repair;
But on the day when this returning sun
To the same point through every sign has run,
Then each of you his hundred knights shall bring
In royal lists, to fight before the king;
And then the knight, whom Fate or happy Chance
Shall with his friends to victory advance,
And grace his arms so far in equal fight,
From out the bars to force his opposite,
Or kill, or make him recreant on the plain,
The prize of valour and of love shall gain;
The vanquished party shall their claim release,
And the long jars conclude in lasting peace.
The charge be mine to adorn the chosen ground,
The theatre of war, for champions so renowned;
And take the patron's place of either knight,
With eyes impartial to behold the fight;
And Heaven of me so judge as I shall judge aright.
If both are satisfied with this accord,
Swear by the laws of knighthood on my sword.”

Who now but Palamon exults with joy?
And ravished Arcite seems to touch the sky.
The whole assembled troop was pleased as well,
Extolled the award, and on their knees they fell
To bless the gracious King. The knights, with leave
Departing from the place, his last commands receive;
On Emily with equal ardour look,
And from her eyes their inspiration took:
From thence to Thebes' old walls pursue their way,
Each to provide his champions for the day.

It might be deemed, on our historian's part,
Or too much negligence or want of art,
If he forgot the vast magnificence
Of royal Theseus, and his large expense.
He first enclosed for lists a level ground,
The whole circumference a mile around;
The form was circular; and all without
A trench was sunk, to moat the place about.
Within, an amphitheatre appeared,
Raised in degrees, to sixty paces reared:
That when a man was placed in one degree,
Height was allowed for him above to see.

Eastward was built a gate of marble white;
The like adorned the western opposite.
A nobler object than this fabric was
Rome never saw, nor of so vast a space:
For, rich with spoils of many a conquered land,
All arts and artists Theseus could command,
Who sold for hire, or wrought for better fame;
The master-painters and the carvers came.
So rose within the compass of the year
An age's work, a glorious theatre.
Then o'er its eastern gate was raised above
A temple, sacred to the Queen of Love;
An altar stood below; on either hand
A priest with roses crowned, who held a myrtle wand.

The dome of Mars was on the gate opposed,
And on the north a turret was enclosed
Within the wall of alabaster white
And crimson coral, for the Queen of Night,
Who takes in sylvan sports her chaste delight.

Within those oratories might you see
Rich carvings, portraitures, and imagery;
Where every figure to the life expressed
The godhead's power to whom it was addressed.
In Venus' temple on the sides were seen
The broken slumbers of enamoured men;
Prayers that even spoke, and pity seemed to call,
And issuing sighs that smoked along the wall;
Complaints and hot desires, the lover's hell,
And scalding tears that wore a channel where they fell;
And all around were nuptial bonds, the ties
Of love's assurance, and a train of lies,
That, made in lust, conclude in perjuries;
Beauty, and Youth, and Wealth, and Luxury,
And sprightly Hope and short-enduring Joy,
And Sorceries, to raise the infernal powers,
And Sigils framed in planetary hours;
Expense, and After-thought, and idle Care,
And Doubts of motley hue, and dark Despair;
Suspicions and fantastical Surmise,
And Jealousy suffused, with jaundice in her eyes,
Discolouring all she viewed, in tawny dressed,
Down-looked, and with a cuckow on her fist.
Opposed to her, on the other side advance
The costly feast, the carol, and the dance,
Minstrels and music, poetry and play,
And balls by night, and turnaments by day.
All these were painted on the wall, and more;
With acts and monuments of times before;
And others added by prophetic doom,
And lovers yet unborn, and loves to come:
For there the Idalian mount, and Citheron,
The court of Venus, was in colours drawn;
Before the palace gate, in careless dress
And loose array, sat portress Idleness;
There by the fount Narcissus pined alone;
There Samson was; with wiser Solomon,
And all the mighty names by love undone.
Medea's charms were there; Circean feasts,
With bowls that turned enamoured youths to beasts.
Here might be seen, that beauty, wealth, and wit,
And prowess to the power of love submit;
The spreading snare for all mankind is laid,
And lovers all betray, and are betrayed.
The Goddess' self some noble hand had wrought;
Smiling she seemed, and full of pleasing thought;
From ocean as she first began to rise,
And smoothed the ruffled seas, and cleared the skies,
She trod the brine, all bare below the breast,
And the green waves but ill-concealed the rest:
A lute she held; and on her head was seen
A wreath of roses red and myrtles green;
Her turtles fanned the buxom air above;
And by his mother stood an infant Love,
With wings unfledged; his eyes were banded o'er,
His hands a bow, his back, a quiver bore,
Supplied with arrows bright and keen, a deadly store.

But in the dome of mighty Mars the red
With different figures all the sides were spread;
This temple, less in form, with equal grace,
Was imitative of the first in Thrace;
For that cold region was the loved abode
And sovereign mansion of the warrior god.
The landscape was a forest wide and bare,
Where neither beast nor human kind repair,
The fowl that scent afar the borders fly,
And shun the bitter blast, and wheel about the sky.
A cake of scurf lies baking on the ground,
And prickly stubs, instead of trees, are found;
Or woods with knots and knares deformed and old,
Headless the most, and hideous to behold;
A rattling tempest through the branches went,
That stripped them bare, and one sole way they bent.
Heaven froze above severe, the clouds congeal,
And through the crystal vault appeared the standing hail.
Such was the face without: a mountain stood
Threatening from high, and overlooked the wood:
Beneath the lowering brow, and on a bent,
The temple stood of Mars armipotent;
The frame of burnished steel, that cast a glare
From far, and seemed to thaw the freezing air.
A straight long entry to the temple led,
Blind with high walls, and horror over head;
Thence issued such a blast, and hollow roar,
As threatened from the hinge to heave the door;
In through that door a northern light there shone;
'Twas all it had, for windows there were none.
The gate was adamant; eternal frame,
Which, hewed by Mars himself, from Indian quarries came,
The labour of a God; and all along
Tough iron plates were clenched to make it strong.
A tun about was every pillar there;
A polished mirror shone not half so clear.
There saw I how the secret felon wrought,
And treason labouring in the traitor's thought,
And midwife Time the ripened plot to murder brought.
There the red Anger dared the pallid Fear;
Next stood Hypocrisy, with holy leer,
Soft, smiling, and demurely looking down,
But hid the dagger underneath the gown;
The assassinating wife, the household fiend;
And far the blackest there, the traitor-friend.
On the other side there stood Destruction bare,
Unpunished Rapine, and a waste of war;
Contest with sharpened knives in cloisters drawn,
And all with blood bespread the holy lawn.
Loud menaces were heard, and foul disgrace,
And bawling infamy, in language base;
Till sense was lost in sound, and silence fled the place.
The slayer of himself yet saw I there,
The gore congealed was clotted in his hair;
With eyes half closed and gaping mouth he lay,
And grim as when he breathed his sullen soul away.
In midst of all the dome, Misfortune sate,
And gloomy Discontent, and fell Debate,
And Madness laughing in his ireful mood;
And armed Complaint on theft; and cries of blood.
There was the murdered corps, in covert laid,
And violent death in thousand shapes displayed:
The city to the soldier's rage resigned;
Successless wars, and poverty behind:
Ships burnt in fight, or forced on rocky shores,
And the rash hunter strangled by the boars:
The new-born babe by nurses overlaid;
And the cook caught within the raging fire he made.
All ills of Mars' his nature, flame and steel;
The gasping charioteer beneath the wheel
Of his own car; the ruined house that falls
And intercepts her lord betwixt the walls:
The whole division that to Mars pertains,
All trades of death that deal in steel for gains
Were there: the butcher, armourer, and smith,
Who forges sharpened fauchions, or the scythe.
The scarlet conquest on a tower was placed,
With shouts and soldiers' acclamations graced:
A pointed sword hung threatening o'er his head,
Sustained but by a slender twine of thread.
There saw I Mars his ides, the Capitol,
The seer in vain foretelling Caesar's fall;
The last Triumvirs, and the wars they move,
And Antony, who lost the world for love.
These, and a thousand more, the fane adorn;
Their fates were painted ere the men were born,
All copied from the heavens, and ruling force
Of the red star, in his revolving course.
The form of Mars high on a chariot stood,
All sheathed in arms, and gruffly looked the god;
Two geomantic figures were displayed
Above his head, a warrior and a maid,
One when direct, and one when retrograde.

Tired with deformities of death, I haste
To the third temple of Diana chaste.
A sylvan scene with various greens was drawn,
Shades on the sides, and on the midst a lawn;
The silver Cynthia, with her nymphs around,
Pursued the flying deer, the woods with horns resound:
Calisto there stood manifest of shame,
And, turned a bear, the northern star became:
Her son was next, and, by peculiar grace,
In the cold circle held the second place;
The stag Actson in the stream had spied
The naked huntress, and for seeing died;
His hounds, unknowing of his change, pursue
The chase, and their mistaken master slew.
Peneian Daphne too, was there to see,
Apollo's love before, and now his tree.
The adjoining fane the assembled Greeks expressed,
And hunting of the Calydonian beast.
OEnides' valour, and his envied prize;
The fatal power of Atalanta's eyes;
Diana's vengeance on the victor shown,
The murderess mother, and consuming son;
The Volscian queen extended on the plain,
The treason punished, and the traitor slain.
The rest were various huntings, well designed,
And savage beasts destroyed, of every kind.
The graceful goddess was arrayed in green;
About her feet were little beagles seen,
That watched with upward eyes the motions of their Queen.
Her legs were buskined, and the left before,
In act to shoot; a silver bow she bore,
And at her back a painted quiver wore.
She trod a wexing moon, that soon would wane,
And, drinking borrowed light, be filled again;
With downcast eyes, as seeming to survey
The dark dominions, her alternate sway.
Before her stood a woman in her throes,
And called Lucina's aid, her burden to disclose.
All these the painter drew with such command,
That Nature snatched the pencil from his hand,
Ashamed and angry that his art could feign,
And mend the tortures of a mother's pain.
Theseus beheld the fanes of every god,
And thought his mighty cost was well bestowed.
So princes now their poets should regard;
But few can write, and fewer can reward.

The theatre thus raised, the lists enclosed,
And all with vast magnificence disposed,
We leave the monarch pleased, and haste to bring
The knights to combat, and their arms to sing.

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Homer

The Odyssey: Book 15

But Minerva went to the fair city of Lacedaemon to tell Ulysses' son
that he was to return at once. She found him and Pisistratus
sleeping in the forecourt of Menelaus's house; Pisistratus was fast
asleep, but Telemachus could get no rest all night for thinking of his
unhappy father, so Minerva went close up to him and said:
"Telemachus, you should not remain so far away from home any longer,
nor leave your property with such dangerous people in your house; they
will eat up everything you have among them, and you will have been
on a fool's errand. Ask Menelaus to send you home at once if you
wish to find your excellent mother still there when you get back.
Her father and brothers are already urging her to marry Eurymachus,
who has given her more than any of the others, and has been greatly
increasing his wedding presents. I hope nothing valuable may have been
taken from the house in spite of you, but you know what women are-
they always want to do the best they can for the man who marries them,
and never give another thought to the children of their first husband,
nor to their father either when he is dead and done with. Go home,
therefore, and put everything in charge of the most respectable
woman servant that you have, until it shall please heaven to send
you a wife of your own. Let me tell you also of another matter which
you had better attend to. The chief men among the suitors are lying in
wait for you in the Strait between Ithaca and Samos, and they mean
to kill you before you can reach home. I do not much think they will
succeed; it is more likely that some of those who are now eating up
your property will find a grave themselves. Sail night and day, and
keep your ship well away from the islands; the god who watches over
you and protects you will send you a fair wind. As soon as you get
to Ithaca send your ship and men on to the town, but yourself go
straight to the swineherd who has charge your pigs; he is well
disposed towards you, stay with him, therefore, for the night, and
then send him to Penelope to tell her that you have got back safe from
Pylos."
Then she went back to Olympus; but Telemachus stirred Pisistratus
with his heel to rouse him, and said, "Wake up Pisistratus, and yoke
the horses to the chariot, for we must set off home."
But Pisistratus said, "No matter what hurry we are in we cannot
drive in the dark. It will be morning soon; wait till Menelaus has
brought his presents and put them in the chariot for us; and let him
say good-bye to us in the usual way. So long as he lives a guest
should never forget a host who has shown him kindness."
As he spoke day began to break, and Menelaus, who had already risen,
leaving Helen in bed, came towards them. When Telemachus saw him he
put on his shirt as fast as he could, threw a great cloak over his
shoulders, and went out to meet him. "Menelaus," said he, "let me go
back now to my own country, for I want to get home."
And Menelaus answered, "Telemachus, if you insist on going I will
not detain you. not like to see a host either too fond of his guest or
too rude to him. Moderation is best in all things, and not letting a
man go when he wants to do so is as bad as telling him to go if he
would like to stay. One should treat a guest well as long as he is
in the house and speed him when he wants to leave it. Wait, then, till
I can get your beautiful presents into your chariot, and till you have
yourself seen them. I will tell the women to prepare a sufficient
dinner for you of what there may be in the house; it will be at once
more proper and cheaper for you to get your dinner before setting
out on such a long journey. If, moreover, you have a fancy for
making a tour in Hellas or in the Peloponnese, I will yoke my
horses, and will conduct you myself through all our principal
cities. No one will send us away empty handed; every one will give
us something- a bronze tripod, a couple of mules, or a gold cup."
"Menelaus," replied Telemachus, "I want to go home at once, for when
I came away I left my property without protection, and fear that while
looking for my father I shall come to ruin myself, or find that
something valuable has been stolen during my absence."
When Menelaus heard this he immediately told his wife and servants
to prepare a sufficient dinner from what there might be in the
house. At this moment Eteoneus joined him, for he lived close by and
had just got up; so Menelaus told him to light the fire and cook
some meat, which he at once did. Then Menelaus went down into his
fragrant store room, not alone, but Helen went too, with
Megapenthes. When he reached the place where the treasures of his
house were kept, he selected a double cup, and told his son
Megapenthes to bring also a silver mixing-bowl. Meanwhile Helen went
to the chest where she kept the lovely dresses which she had made with
her own hands, and took out one that was largest and most
beautifully enriched with embroidery; it glittered like a star, and
lay at the very bottom of the chest. Then they all came back through
the house again till they got to Telemachus, and Menelaus said,
"Telemachus, may Jove, the mighty husband of Juno, bring you safely
home according to your desire. I will now present you with the
finest and most precious piece of plate in all my house. It is a
mixing-bowl of pure silver, except the rim, which is inlaid with gold,
and it is the work of Vulcan. Phaedimus king of the Sidonians made
me a present of it in the course of a visit that I paid him while I
was on my return home. I should like to give it to you."
With these words he placed the double cup in the hands of
Telemachus, while Megapenthes brought the beautiful mixing-bowl and
set it before him. Hard by stood lovely Helen with the robe ready in
her hand.
"I too, my son," said she, "have something for you as a keepsake
from the hand of Helen; it is for your bride to wear upon her
wedding day. Till then, get your dear mother to keep it for you;
thus may you go back rejoicing to your own country and to your home."
So saying she gave the robe over to him and he received it gladly.
Then Pisistratus put the presents into the chariot, and admired them
all as he did so. Presently Menelaus took Telemachus and Pisistratus
into the house, and they both of them sat down to table. A maid
servant brought them water in a beautiful golden ewer, and poured it
into a silver basin for them to wash their hands, and she drew a clean
table beside them; an upper servant brought them bread and offered
them many good things of what there was in the house. Eteoneus
carved the meat and gave them each their portions, while Megapenthes
poured out the wine. Then they laid their hands upon the good things
that were before them, but as soon as they had had had enough to eat
and drink Telemachus and Pisistratus yoked the horses, and took
their places in the chariot. They drove out through the inner
gateway and under the echoing gatehouse of the outer court, and
Menelaus came after them with a golden goblet of wine in his right
hand that they might make a drink-offering before they set out. He
stood in front of the horses and pledged them, saying, "Farewell to
both of you; see that you tell Nestor how I have treated you, for he
was as kind to me as any father could be while we Achaeans were
fighting before Troy."
"We will be sure, sir," answered Telemachus, "to tell him everything
as soon as we see him. I wish I were as certain of finding Ulysses
returned when I get back to Ithaca, that I might tell him of the
very great kindness you have shown me and of the many beautiful
presents I am taking with me."
As he was thus speaking a bird flew on his right hand- an eagle with
a great white goose in its talons which it had carried off from the
farm yard- and all the men and women were running after it and
shouting. It came quite close up to them and flew away on their
right hands in front of the horses. When they saw it they were glad,
and their hearts took comfort within them, whereon Pisistratus said,
"Tell me, Menelaus, has heaven sent this omen for us or for you?"
Menelaus was thinking what would be the most proper answer for him
to make, but Helen was too quick for him and said, "I will read this
matter as heaven has put it in my heart, and as I doubt not that it
will come to pass. The eagle came from the mountain where it was
bred and has its nest, and in like manner Ulysses, after having
travelled far and suffered much, will return to take his revenge- if
indeed he is not back already and hatching mischief for the suitors."
"May Jove so grant it," replied Telemachus; "if it should prove to
be so, I will make vows to you as though you were a god, even when I
am at home."
As he spoke he lashed his horses and they started off at full
speed through the town towards the open country. They swayed the
yoke upon their necks and travelled the whole day long till the sun
set and darkness was over all the land. Then they reached Pherae,
where Diocles lived who was son of Ortilochus, the son of Alpheus.
There they passed the night and were treated hospitably. When the
child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, they again yoked their
horses and their places in the chariot. They drove out through the
inner gateway and under the echoing gatehouse of the outer court. Then
Pisistratus lashed his horses on and they flew forward nothing
loath; ere long they came to Pylos, and then Telemachus said:
"Pisistratus, I hope you will promise to do what I am going to ask
you. You know our fathers were old friends before us; moreover, we are
both of an age, and this journey has brought us together still more
closely; do not, therefore, take me past my ship, but leave me
there, for if I go to your father's house he will try to keep me in
the warmth of his good will towards me, and I must go home at once."
Pisistratus thought how he should do as he was asked, and in the end
he deemed it best to turn his horses towards the ship, and put
Menelaus's beautiful presents of gold and raiment in the stern of
the vessel. Then he said, "Go on board at once and tell your men to do
so also before I can reach home to tell my father. I know how
obstinate he is, and am sure he will not let you go; he will come down
here to fetch you, and he will not go back without you. But he will be
very angry."
With this he drove his goodly steeds back to the city of the Pylians
and soon reached his home, but Telemachus called the men together
and gave his orders. "Now, my men," said he, "get everything in
order on board the ship, and let us set out home."
Thus did he speak, and they went on board even as he had said. But
as Telemachus was thus busied, praying also and sacrificing to Minerva
in the ship's stern, there came to him a man from a distant country, a
seer, who was flying from Argos because he had killed a man. He was
descended from Melampus, who used to live in Pylos, the land of sheep;
he was rich and owned a great house, but he was driven into exile by
the great and powerful king Neleus. Neleus seized his goods and held
them for a whole year, during which he was a close prisoner in the
house of king Phylacus, and in much distress of mind both on account
of the daughter of Neleus and because he was haunted by a great sorrow
that dread Erinyes had laid upon him. In the end, however, he
escaped with his life, drove the cattle from Phylace to Pylos, avenged
the wrong that had been done him, and gave the daughter of Neleus to
his brother. Then he left the country and went to Argos, where it
was ordained that he should reign over much people. There he
married, established himself, and had two famous sons Antiphates and
Mantius. Antiphates became father of Oicleus, and Oicleus of
Amphiaraus, who was dearly loved both by Jove and by Apollo, but he
did not live to old age, for he was killed in Thebes by reason of a
woman's gifts. His sons were Alcmaeon and Amphilochus. Mantius, the
other son of Melampus, was father to Polypheides and Cleitus.
Aurora, throned in gold, carried off Cleitus for his beauty's sake,
that he might dwell among the immortals, but Apollo made Polypheides
the greatest seer in the whole world now that Amphiaraus was dead.
He quarrelled with his father and went to live in Hyperesia, where
he remained and prophesied for all men.
His son, Theoclymenus, it was who now came up to Telemachus as he
was making drink-offerings and praying in his ship. "Friend'" said he,
"now that I find you sacrificing in this place, I beseech you by
your sacrifices themselves, and by the god to whom you make them, I
pray you also by your own head and by those of your followers, tell me
the truth and nothing but the truth. Who and whence are you? Tell me
also of your town and parents."
Telemachus said, "I will answer you quite truly. I am from Ithaca,
and my father is 'Ulysses, as surely as that he ever lived. But he has
come to some miserable end. Therefore I have taken this ship and got
my crew together to see if I can hear any news of him, for he has been
away a long time."
"I too," answered Theoclymenus, am an exile, for I have killed a man
of my own race. He has many brothers and kinsmen in Argos, and they
have great power among the Argives. I am flying to escape death at
their hands, and am thus doomed to be a wanderer on the face of the
earth. I am your suppliant; take me, therefore, on board your ship
that they may not kill me, for I know they are in pursuit."
"I will not refuse you," replied Telemachus, "if you wish to join
us. Come, therefore, and in Ithaca we will treat you hospitably
according to what we have."
On this he received Theoclymenus' spear and laid it down on the deck
of the ship. He went on board and sat in the stern, bidding
Theoclymenus sit beside him; then the men let go the hawsers.
Telemachus told them to catch hold of the ropes, and they made all
haste to do so. They set the mast in its socket in the cross plank,
raised it and made it fast with the forestays, and they hoisted
their white sails with sheets of twisted ox hide. Minerva sent them
a fair wind that blew fresh and strong to take the ship on her
course as fast as possible. Thus then they passed by Crouni and
Chalcis.
Presently the sun set and darkness was over all the land. The vessel
made a quick pass sage to Pheae and thence on to Elis, where the
Epeans rule. Telemachus then headed her for the flying islands,
wondering within himself whether he should escape death or should be
taken prisoner.
Meanwhile Ulysses and the swineherd were eating their supper in
the hut, and the men supped with them. As soon as they had had to
eat and drink, Ulysses began trying to prove the swineherd and see
whether he would continue to treat him kindly, and ask him to stay
on at the station or pack him off to the city; so he said:
"Eumaeus, and all of you, to-morrow I want to go away and begin
begging about the town, so as to be no more trouble to you or to
your men. Give me your advice therefore, and let me have a good
guide to go with me and show me the way. I will go the round of the
city begging as I needs must, to see if any one will give me a drink
and a piece of bread. I should like also to go to the house of Ulysses
and bring news of her husband to queen Penelope. I could then go about
among the suitors and see if out of all their abundance they will give
me a dinner. I should soon make them an excellent servant in all sorts
of ways. Listen and believe when I tell you that by the blessing of
Mercury who gives grace and good name to the works of all men, there
is no one living who would make a more handy servant than I should- to
put fresh wood on the fire, chop fuel, carve, cook, pour out wine, and
do all those services that poor men have to do for their betters."
The swineherd was very much disturbed when he heard this. "Heaven
help me," he exclaimed, "what ever can have put such a notion as
that into your head? If you go near the suitors you will be undone
to a certainty, for their pride and insolence reach the very
heavens. They would never think of taking a man like you for a
servant. Their servants are all young men, well dressed, wearing
good cloaks and shirts, with well looking faces and their hair
always tidy, the tables are kept quite clean and are loaded with
bread, meat, and wine. Stay where you are, then; you are not in
anybody's way; I do not mind your being here, no more do any of the
others, and when Telemachus comes home he will give you a shirt and
cloak and will send you wherever you want to go."
Ulysses answered, "I hope you may be as dear to the gods as you
are to me, for having saved me from going about and getting into
trouble; there is nothing worse than being always ways on the tramp;
still, when men have once got low down in the world they will go
through a great deal on behalf of their miserable bellies. Since
however you press me to stay here and await the return of
Telemachus, tell about Ulysses' mother, and his father whom he left on
the threshold of old age when he set out for Troy. Are they still
living or are they already dead and in the house of Hades?"
"I will tell you all about them," replied Eumaeus, "Laertes is still
living and prays heaven to let him depart peacefully his own house,
for he is terribly distressed about the absence of his son, and also
about the death of his wife, which grieved him greatly and aged him
more than anything else did. She came to an unhappy end through sorrow
for her son: may no friend or neighbour who has dealt kindly by me
come to such an end as she did. As long as she was still living,
though she was always grieving, I used to like seeing her and asking
her how she did, for she brought me up along with her daughter
Ctimene, the youngest of her children; we were boy and girl
together, and she made little difference between us. When, however, we
both grew up, they sent Ctimene to Same and received a splendid
dowry for her. As for me, my mistress gave me a good shirt and cloak
with a pair of sandals for my feet, and sent me off into the
country, but she was just as fond of me as ever. This is all over now.
Still it has pleased heaven to prosper my work in the situation
which I now hold. I have enough to eat and drink, and can find
something for any respectable stranger who comes here; but there is no
getting a kind word or deed out of my mistress, for the house has
fallen into the hands of wicked people. Servants want sometimes to see
their mistress and have a talk with her; they like to have something
to eat and drink at the house, and something too to take back with
them into the country. This is what will keep servants in a good
humour."
Ulysses answered, "Then you must have been a very little fellow,
Eumaeus, when you were taken so far away from your home and parents.
Tell me, and tell me true, was the city in which your father and
mother lived sacked and pillaged, or did some enemies carry you off
when you were alone tending sheep or cattle, ship you off here, and
sell you for whatever your master gave them?"
"Stranger," replied Eumaeus, "as regards your question: sit still,
make yourself comfortable, drink your wine, and listen to me. The
nights are now at their longest; there is plenty of time both for
sleeping and sitting up talking together; you ought not to go to bed
till bed time, too much sleep is as bad as too little; if any one of
the others wishes to go to bed let him leave us and do so; he can then
take my master's pigs out when he has done breakfast in the morning.
We two will sit here eating and drinking in the hut, and telling one
another stories about our misfortunes; for when a man has suffered
much, and been buffeted about in the world, he takes pleasure in
recalling the memory of sorrows that have long gone by. As regards
your question, then, my tale is as follows:
"You may have heard of an island called Syra that lies over above
Ortygia, where the land begins to turn round and look in another
direction. It is not very thickly peopled, but the soil is good,
with much pasture fit for cattle and sheep, and it abounds with wine
and wheat. Dearth never comes there, nor are the people plagued by any
sickness, but when they grow old Apollo comes with Diana and kills
them with his painless shafts. It contains two communities, and the
whole country is divided between these two. My father Ctesius son of
Ormenus, a man comparable to the gods, reigned over both.
"Now to this place there came some cunning traders from Phoenicia
(for the Phoenicians are great mariners) in a ship which they had
freighted with gewgaws of all kinds. There happened to be a Phoenician
woman in my father's house, very tall and comely, and an excellent
servant; these scoundrels got hold of her one day when she was washing
near their ship, seduced her, and cajoled her in ways that no woman
can resist, no matter how good she may be by nature. The man who had
seduced her asked her who she was and where she came from, and on
this she told him her father's name. 'I come from Sidon,' said she,
'and am daughter to Arybas, a man rolling in wealth. One day as I
was coming into the town from the country some Taphian pirates
seized me and took me here over the sea, where they sold me to the man
who owns this house, and he gave them their price for me.'
"The man who had seduced her then said, 'Would you like to come
along with us to see the house of your parents and your parents
themselves? They are both alive and are said to be well off.'
"'I will do so gladly,' answered she, 'if you men will first swear
me a solemn oath that you will do me no harm by the way.'
"They all swore as she told them, and when they had completed
their oath the woman said, 'Hush; and if any of your men meets me in
the street or at the well, do not let him speak to me, for fear some
one should go and tell my master, in which case he would suspect
something. He would put me in prison, and would have all of you
murdered; keep your own counsel therefore; buy your merchandise as
fast as you can, and send me word when you have done loading. I will
bring as much gold as I can lay my hands on, and there is something
else also that I can do towards paying my fare. I am nurse to the
son of the good man of the house, a funny little fellow just able to
run about. I will carry him off in your ship, and you will get a great
deal of money for him if you take him and sell him in foreign parts.'
"On this she went back to the house. The Phoenicians stayed a
whole year till they had loaded their ship with much precious
merchandise, and then, when they had got freight enough, they sent
to tell the woman. Their messenger, a very cunning fellow, came to
my father's house bringing a necklace of gold with amber beads
strung among it; and while my mother and the servants had it in
their hands admiring it and bargaining about it, he made a sign
quietly to the woman and then went back to the ship, whereon she
took me by the hand and led me out of the house. In the fore part of
the house she saw the tables set with the cups of guests who had
been feasting with my father, as being in attendance on him; these
were now all gone to a meeting of the public assembly, so she snatched
up three cups and carried them off in the bosom of her dress, while
I followed her, for I knew no better. The sun was now set, and
darkness was over all the land, so we hurried on as fast as we could
till we reached the harbour, where the Phoenician ship was lying. When
they had got on board they sailed their ways over the sea, taking us
with them, and Jove sent then a fair wind; six days did we sail both
night and day, but on the seventh day Diana struck the woman and she
fell heavily down into the ship's hold as though she were a sea gull
alighting on the water; so they threw her overboard to the seals and
fishes, and I was left all sorrowful and alone. Presently the winds
and waves took the ship to Ithaca, where Laertes gave sundry of his
chattels for me, and thus it was that ever I came to set eyes upon
this country."
Ulysses answered, "Eumaeus, I have heard the story of your
misfortunes with the most lively interest and pity, but Jove has given
you good as well as evil, for in spite of everything you have a good
master, who sees that you always have enough to eat and drink; and you
lead a good life, whereas I am still going about begging my way from
city to city."
Thus did they converse, and they had only a very little time left
for sleep, for it was soon daybreak. In the meantime Telemachus and
his crew were nearing land, so they loosed the sails, took down the
mast, and rowed the ship into the harbour. They cast out their mooring
stones and made fast the hawsers; they then got out upon the sea
shore, mixed their wine, and got dinner ready. As soon as they had had
enough to eat and drink Telemachus said, "Take the ship on to the
town, but leave me here, for I want to look after the herdsmen on
one of my farms. In the evening, when I have seen all I want, I will
come down to the city, and to-morrow morning in return for your
trouble I will give you all a good dinner with meat and wine."
Then Theoclymenus said, 'And what, my dear young friend, is to
become of me? To whose house, among all your chief men, am I to
repair? or shall I go straight to your own house and to your mother?"
"At any other time," replied Telemachus, "I should have bidden you
go to my own house, for you would find no want of hospitality; at
the present moment, however, you would not be comfortable there, for I
shall be away, and my mother will not see you; she does not often show
herself even to the suitors, but sits at her loom weaving in an
upper chamber, out of their way; but I can tell you a man whose
house you can go to- I mean Eurymachus the son of Polybus, who is held
in the highest estimation by every one in Ithaca. He is much the
best man and the most persistent wooer, of all those who are paying
court to my mother and trying to take Ulysses' place. Jove, however,
in heaven alone knows whether or no they will come to a bad end before
the marriage takes place."
As he was speaking a bird flew by upon his right hand- a hawk,
Apollo's messenger. It held a dove in its talons, and the feathers, as
it tore them off, fell to the ground midway between Telemachus and the
ship. On this Theoclymenus called him apart and caught him by the
hand. "Telemachus," said he, "that bird did not fly on your right hand
without having been sent there by some god. As soon as I saw it I knew
it was an omen; it means that you will remain powerful and that
there will be no house in Ithaca more royal than your own."
"I wish it may prove so," answered Telemachus. "If it does, I will
show you so much good will and give you so many presents that all
who meet you will congratulate you."
Then he said to his friend Piraeus, "Piraeus, son of Clytius, you
have throughout shown yourself the most willing to serve me of all
those who have accompanied me to Pylos; I wish you would take this
stranger to your own house and entertain him hospitably till I can
come for him."
And Piraeus answered, "Telemachus, you may stay away as long as
you please, but I will look after him for you, and he shall find no
lack of hospitality."
As he spoke he went on board, and bade the others do so also and
loose the hawsers, so they took their places in the ship. But
Telemachus bound on his sandals, and took a long and doughty spear
with a head of sharpened bronze from the deck of the ship. Then they
loosed the hawsers, thrust the ship off from land, and made on towards
the city as they had been told to do, while Telemachus strode on as
fast as he could, till he reached the homestead where his countless
herds of swine were feeding, and where dwelt the excellent
swineherd, who was so devoted a servant to his master.

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 18

Thus then did they fight as it were a flaming fire. Meanwhile the
fleet runner Antilochus, who had been sent as messenger, reached
Achilles, and found him sitting by his tall ships and boding that
which was indeed too surely true. "Alas," said he to himself in the
heaviness of his heart, "why are the Achaeans again scouring the plain
and flocking towards the ships? Heaven grant the gods be not now
bringing that sorrow upon me of which my mother Thetis spoke, saying
that while I was yet alive the bravest of the Myrmidons should fall
before the Trojans, and see the light of the sun no longer. I fear the
brave son of Menoetius has fallen through his own daring and yet I
bade him return to the ships as soon as he had driven back those
that were bringing fire against them, and not join battle with
Hector."
As he was thus pondering, the son of Nestor came up to him and
told his sad tale, weeping bitterly the while. "Alas," he cried,
"son of noble Peleus, I bring you bad tidings, would indeed that
they were untrue. Patroclus has fallen, and a fight is raging about
his naked body- for Hector holds his armour."
A dark cloud of grief fell upon Achilles as he listened. He filled
both hands with dust from off the ground, and poured it over his head,
disfiguring his comely face, and letting the refuse settle over his
shirt so fair and new. He flung himself down all huge and hugely at
full length, and tore his hair with his hands. The bondswomen whom
Achilles and Patroclus had taken captive screamed aloud for grief,
beating their breasts, and with their limbs failing them for sorrow.
Antilochus bent over him the while, weeping and holding both his hands
as he lay groaning for he feared that he might plunge a knife into his
own throat. Then Achilles gave a loud cry and his mother heard him
as she was sitting in the depths of the sea by the old man her father,
whereon she screamed, and all the goddesses daughters of Nereus that
dwelt at the bottom of the sea, came gathering round her. There were
Glauce, Thalia and Cymodoce, Nesaia, Speo, thoe and dark-eyed Halie,
Cymothoe, Actaea and Limnorea, Melite, Iaera, Amphithoe and Agave,
Doto and Proto, Pherusa and Dynamene, Dexamene, Amphinome and
Callianeira, Doris, Panope, and the famous sea-nymph Galatea,
Nemertes, Apseudes and Callianassa. There were also Clymene, Ianeira
and Ianassa, Maera, Oreithuia and Amatheia of the lovely locks, with
other Nereids who dwell in the depths of the sea. The crystal cave was
filled with their multitude and they all beat their breasts while
Thetis led them in their lament.
"Listen," she cried, "sisters, daughters of Nereus, that you may
hear the burden of my sorrows. Alas, woe is me, woe in that I have
borne the most glorious of offspring. I bore him fair and strong, hero
among heroes, and he shot up as a sapling; I tended him as a plant
in a goodly garden, and sent him with his ships to Ilius to fight
the Trojans, but never shall I welcome him back to the house of
Peleus. So long as he lives to look upon the light of the sun he is in
heaviness, and though I go to him I cannot help him. Nevertheless I
will go, that I may see my dear son and learn what sorrow has befallen
him though he is still holding aloof from battle."
She left the cave as she spoke, while the others followed weeping
after, and the waves opened a path before them. When they reached
the rich plain of Troy, they came up out of the sea in a long line
on to the sands, at the place where the ships of the Myrmidons were
drawn up in close order round the tents of Achilles. His mother went
up to him as he lay groaning; she laid her hand upon his head and
spoke piteously, saying, "My son, why are you thus weeping? What
sorrow has now befallen you? Tell me; hide it not from me. Surely Jove
has granted you the prayer you made him, when you lifted up your hands
and besought him that the Achaeans might all of them be pent up at
their ships, and rue it bitterly in that you were no longer with
them."
Achilles groaned and answered, "Mother, Olympian Jove has indeed
vouchsafed me the fulfilment of my prayer, but what boots it to me,
seeing that my dear comrade Patroclus has fallen- he whom I valued
more than all others, and loved as dearly as my own life? I have
lost him; aye, and Hector when he had killed him stripped the wondrous
armour, so glorious to behold, which the gods gave to Peleus when they
laid you in the couch of a mortal man. Would that you were still
dwelling among the immortal sea-nymphs, and that Peleus had taken to
himself some mortal bride. For now you shall have grief infinite by
reason of the death of that son whom you can never welcome home-
nay, I will not live nor go about among mankind unless Hector fall
by my spear, and thus pay me for having slain Patroclus son of
Menoetius."
Thetis wept and answered, "Then, my son, is your end near at hand-
for your own death awaits you full soon after that of Hector."
Then said Achilles in his great grief, "I would die here and now, in
that I could not save my comrade. He has fallen far from home, and
in his hour of need my hand was not there to help him. What is there
for me? Return to my own land I shall not, and I have brought no
saving neither to Patroclus nor to my other comrades of whom so many
have been slain by mighty Hector; I stay here by my ships a bootless
burden upon the earth, I, who in fight have no peer among the
Achaeans, though in council there are better than I. Therefore, perish
strife both from among gods and men, and anger, wherein even a
righteous man will harden his heart- which rises up in the soul of a
man like smoke, and the taste thereof is sweeter than drops of
honey. Even so has Agamemnon angered me. And yet- so be it, for it
is over; I will force my soul into subjection as I needs must; I
will go; I will pursue Hector who has slain him whom I loved so
dearly, and will then abide my doom when it may please Jove and the
other gods to send it. Even Hercules, the best beloved of Jove- even
he could not escape the hand of death, but fate and Juno's fierce
anger laid him low, as I too shall lie when I am dead if a like doom
awaits me. Till then I will win fame, and will bid Trojan and
Dardanian women wring tears from their tender cheeks with both their
hands in the grievousness of their great sorrow; thus shall they
know that he who has held aloof so long will hold aloof no longer.
Hold me not back, therefore, in the love you bear me, for you shall
not move me."
Then silver-footed Thetis answered, "My son, what you have said is
true. It is well to save your comrades from destruction, but your
armour is in the hands of the Trojans; Hector bears it in triumph upon
his own shoulders. Full well I know that his vaunt shall not be
lasting, for his end is close at hand; go not, however, into the press
of battle till you see me return hither; to-morrow at break of day I
shall be here, and will bring you goodly armour from King Vulcan."
On this she left her brave son, and as she turned away she said to
the sea-nymphs her sisters, "Dive into the bosom of the sea and go
to the house of the old sea-god my father. Tell him everything; as for
me, I will go to the cunning workman Vulcan on high Olympus, and ask
him to provide my son with a suit of splendid armour."
When she had so said, they dived forthwith beneath the waves,
while silver-footed Thetis went her way that she might bring the
armour for her son.
Thus, then, did her feet bear the goddess to Olympus, and
meanwhile the Achaeans were flying with loud cries before murderous
Hector till they reached the ships and the Hellespont, and they
could not draw the body of Mars's servant Patroclus out of reach of
the weapons that were showered upon him, for Hector son of Priam
with his host and horsemen had again caught up to him like the flame
of a fiery furnace; thrice did brave Hector seize him by the feet,
striving with might and main to draw him away and calling loudly on
the Trojans, and thrice did the two Ajaxes, clothed in valour as
with a garment, beat him from off the body; but all undaunted he would
now charge into the thick of the fight, and now again he would stand
still and cry aloud, but he would give no ground. As upland
shepherds that cannot chase some famished lion from a carcase, even so
could not the two Ajaxes scare Hector son of Priam from the body of
Patroclus.
And now he would even have dragged it off and have won
imperishable glory, had not Iris fleet as the wind, winged her way
as messenger from Olympus to the son of Peleus and bidden him arm. She
came secretly without the knowledge of Jove and of the other gods, for
Juno sent her, and when she had got close to him she said, "Up, son of
Peleus, mightiest of all mankind; rescue Patroclus about whom this
fearful fight is now raging by the ships. Men are killing one another,
the Danaans in defence of the dead body, while the Trojans are
trying to hale it away, and take it to wind Ilius: Hector is the
most furious of them all; he is for cutting the head from the body and
fixing it on the stakes of the wall. Up, then, and bide here no
longer; shrink from the thought that Patroclus may become meat for the
dogs of Troy. Shame on you, should his body suffer any kind of
outrage."
And Achilles said, "Iris, which of the gods was it that sent you
to me?"
Iris answered, "It was Juno the royal spouse of Jove, but the son of
Saturn does not know of my coming, nor yet does any other of the
immortals who dwell on the snowy summits of Olympus."
Then fleet Achilles answered her saying, "How can I go up into the
battle? They have my armour. My mother forbade me to arm till I should
see her come, for she promised to bring me goodly armour from
Vulcan; I know no man whose arms I can put on, save only the shield of
Ajax son of Telamon, and he surely must be fighting in the front
rank and wielding his spear about the body of dead Patroclus."
Iris said, 'We know that your armour has been taken, but go as you
are; go to the deep trench and show yourelf before the Trojans, that
they may fear you and cease fighting. Thus will the fainting sons of
the Achaeans gain some brief breathing-time, which in battle may
hardly be."
Iris left him when she had so spoken. But Achilles dear to Jove
arose, and Minerva flung her tasselled aegis round his strong
shoulders; she crowned his head with a halo of golden cloud from which
she kindled a glow of gleaming fire. As the smoke that goes up into
heaven from some city that is being beleaguered on an island far out
at sea- all day long do men sally from the city and fight their
hardest, and at the going down of the sun the line of beacon-fires
blazes forth, flaring high for those that dwell near them to behold,
if so be that they may come with their ships and succour them- even so
did the light flare from the head of Achilles, as he stood by the
trench, going beyond the wall- but he aid not join the Achaeans for he
heeded the charge which his mother laid upon him.
There did he stand and shout aloud. Minerva also raised her voice
from afar, and spread terror unspeakable among the Trojans. Ringing as
the note of a trumpet that sounds alarm then the foe is at the gates
of a city, even so brazen was the voice of the son of Aeacus, and when
the Trojans heard its clarion tones they were dismayed; the horses
turned back with their chariots for they boded mischief, and their
drivers were awe-struck by the steady flame which the grey-eyed
goddess had kindled above the head of the great son of Peleus.
Thrice did Achilles raise his loud cry as he stood by the trench,
and thrice were the Trojans and their brave allies thrown into
confusion; whereon twelve of their noblest champions fell beneath
the wheels of their chariots and perished by their own spears. The
Achaeans to their great joy then drew Patroclus out of reach of the
weapons, and laid him on a litter: his comrades stood mourning round
him, and among them fleet Achilles who wept bitterly as he saw his
true comrade lying dead upon his bier. He had sent him out with horses
and chariots into battle, but his return he was not to welcome.
Then Juno sent the busy sun, loth though he was, into the waters
of Oceanus; so he set, and the Achaeans had rest from the tug and
turmoil of war.
Now the Trojans when they had come out of the fight, unyoked their
horses and gathered in assembly before preparing their supper. They
kept their feet, nor would any dare to sit down, for fear had fallen
upon them all because Achilles had shown himself after having held
aloof so long from battle. Polydamas son of Panthous was first to
speak, a man of judgement, who alone among them could look both before
and after. He was comrade to Hector, and they had been born upon the
same night; with all sincerity and goodwill, therefore, he addressed
them thus:-
"Look to it well, my friends; I would urge you to go back now to
your city and not wait here by the ships till morning, for we are
far from our walls. So long as this man was at enmity with Agamemnon
the Achaeans were easier to deal with, and I would have gladly
camped by the ships in the hope of taking them; but now I go in
great fear of the fleet son of Peleus; he is so daring that he will
never bide here on the plain whereon the Trojans and Achaeans fight
with equal valour, but he will try to storm our city and carry off our
women. Do then as I say, and let us retreat. For this is what will
happen. The darkness of night will for a time stay the son of
Peleus, but if he find us here in the morning when he sallies forth in
full armour, we shall have knowledge of him in good earnest. Glad
indeed will he be who can escape and get back to Ilius, and many a
Trojan will become meat for dogs and vultures may I never live to hear
it. If we do as I say, little though we may like it, we shall have
strength in counsel during the night, and the great gates with the
doors that close them will protect the city. At dawn we can arm and
take our stand on the walls; he will then rue it if he sallies from
the ships to fight us. He will go back when he has given his horses
their fill of being driven all whithers under our walls, and will be
in no mind to try and force his way into the city. Neither will he
ever sack it, dogs shall devour him ere he do so."
Hector looked fiercely at him and answered, "Polydamas, your words
are not to my liking in that you bid us go back and be pent within the
city. Have you not had enough of being cooped up behind walls? In
the old-days the city of Priam was famous the whole world over for its
wealth of gold and bronze, but our treasures are wasted out of our
houses, and much goods have been sold away to Phrygia and fair Meonia,
for the hand of Jove has been laid heavily upon us. Now, therefore,
that the son of scheming Saturn has vouchsafed me to win glory here
and to hem the Achaeans in at their ships, prate no more in this
fool's wise among the people. You will have no man with you; it
shall not be; do all of you as I now say;- take your suppers in your
companies throughout the host, and keep your watches and be wakeful
every man of you. If any Trojan is uneasy about his possessions, let
him gather them and give them out among the people. Better let
these, rather than the Achaeans, have them. At daybreak we will arm
and fight about the ships; granted that Achilles has again come
forward to defend them, let it be as he will, but it shall go hard
with him. I shall not shun him, but will fight him, to fall or
conquer. The god of war deals out like measure to all, and the
slayer may yet be slain."
Thus spoke Hector; and the Trojans, fools that they were, shouted in
applause, for Pallas Minerva had robbed them of their understanding.
They gave ear to Hector with his evil counsel, but the wise words of
Polydamas no man would heed. They took their supper throughout the
host, and meanwhile through the whole night the Achaeans mourned
Patroclus, and the son of Peleus led them in their lament. He laid his
murderous hands upon the breast of his comrade, groaning again and
again as a bearded lion when a man who was chasing deer has robbed him
of his young in some dense forest; when the lion comes back he is
furious, and searches dingle and dell to track the hunter if he can
find him, for he is mad with rage- even so with many a sigh did
Achilles speak among the Myrmidons saying, "Alas! vain were the
words with which I cheered the hero Menoetius in his own house; I said
that I would bring his brave son back again to Opoeis after he had
sacked Ilius and taken his share of the spoils- but Jove does not give
all men their heart's desire. The same soil shall be reddened here
at Troy by the blood of us both, for I too shall never be welcomed
home by the old knight Peleus, nor by my mother Thetis, but even in
this place shall the earth cover me. Nevertheless, O Patroclus, now
that I am left behind you, I will not bury you, till I have brought
hither the head and armour of mighty Hector who has slain you.
Twelve noble sons of Trojans will I behead before your bier to
avenge you; till I have done so you shall lie as you are by the ships,
and fair women of Troy and Dardanus, whom we have taken with spear and
strength of arm when we sacked men's goodly cities, shall weep over
you both night and day."
Then Achilles told his men to set a large tripod upon the fire
that they might wash the clotted gore from off Patroclus. Thereon they
set a tripod full of bath water on to a clear fire: they threw
sticks on to it to make it blaze, and the water became hot as the
flame played about the belly of the tripod. When the water in the
cauldron was boiling they washed the body, anointed it with oil, and
closed its wounds with ointment that had been kept nine years. Then
they laid it on a bier and covered it with a linen cloth from head
to foot, and over this they laid a fair white robe. Thus all night
long did the Myrmidons gather round Achilles to mourn Patroclus.
Then Jove said to Juno his sister-wife, "So, Queen Juno, you have
gained your end, and have roused fleet Achilles. One would think
that the Achaeans were of your own flesh and blood."
And Juno answered, "Dread son of Saturn, why should you say this
thing? May not a man though he be only mortal and knows less than we
do, do what he can for another person? And shall not I- foremost of
all goddesses both by descent and as wife to you who reign in
heaven- devise evil for the Trojans if I am angry with them?"
Thus did they converse. Meanwhile Thetis came to the house of
Vulcan, imperishable, star-bespangled, fairest of the abodes in
heaven, a house of bronze wrought by the lame god's own hands. She
found him busy with his bellows, sweating and hard at work, for he was
making twenty tripods that were to stand by the wall of his house, and
he set wheels of gold under them all that they might go of their own
selves to the assemblies of the gods, and come back again- marvels
indeed to see. They were finished all but the ears of cunning
workmanship which yet remained to be fixed to them: these he was now
fixing, and he was hammering at the rivets. While he was thus at
work silver-footed Thetis came to the house. Charis, of graceful
head-dress, wife to the far-famed lame god, came towards her as soon
as she saw her, and took her hand in her own, saying, "Why have you
come to our house, Thetis, honoured and ever welcome- for you do not
visit us often? Come inside and let me set refreshment before you."
The goddess led the way as she spoke, and bade Thetis sit on a
richly decorated seat inlaid with silver; there was a footstool also
under her feet. Then she called Vulcan and said, "Vulcan, come here,
Thetis wants you"; and the far-famed lame god answered, "Then it is
indeed an august and honoured goddess who has come here; she it was
that took care of me when I was suffering from the heavy fall which
I had through my cruel mother's anger- for she would have got rid of
me because I was lame. It would have gone hardly with me had not
Eurynome, daughter of the ever-encircling waters of Oceanus, and
Thetis, taken me to their bosom. Nine years did I stay with them,
and many beautiful works in bronze, brooches, spiral armlets, cups,
and chains, did I make for them in their cave, with the roaring waters
of Oceanus foaming as they rushed ever past it; and no one knew,
neither of gods nor men, save only Thetis and Eurynome who took care
of me. If, then, Thetis has come to my house I must make her due
requital for having saved me; entertain her, therefore, with all
hospitality, while I put by my bellows and all my tools."
On this the mighty monster hobbled off from his anvil, his thin legs
plying lustily under him. He set the bellows away from the fire, and
gathered his tools into a silver chest. Then he took a sponge and
washed his face and hands, his shaggy chest and brawny neck; he donned
his shirt, grasped his strong staff, and limped towards the door.
There were golden handmaids also who worked for him, and were like
real young women, with sense and reason, voice also and strength,
and all the learning of the immortals; these busied themselves as
the king bade them, while he drew near to Thetis, seated her upon a
goodly seat, and took her hand in his own, saying, "Why have you
come to our house, Thetis honoured and ever welcome- for you do not
visit us often? Say what you want, and I will do it for you at once if
I can, and if it can be done at all."
Thetis wept and answered, "Vulcan, is there another goddess in
Olympus whom the son of Saturn has been pleased to try with so much
affliction as he has me? Me alone of the marine goddesses did he
make subject to a mortal husband, Peleus son of Aeacus, and sorely
against my will did I submit to the embraces of one who was but
mortal, and who now stays at home worn out with age. Neither is this
all. Heaven vouchsafed me a son, hero among heroes, and he shot up
as a sapling. I tended him as a plant in a goodly garden and sent
him with his ships to Ilius to fight the Trojans, but never shall I
welcome him back to the house of Peleus. So long as he lives to look
upon the light of the sun, he is in heaviness, and though I go to
him I cannot help him; King Agamemnon has made him give up the
maiden whom the sons of the Achaeans had awarded him, and he wastes
with sorrow for her sake. Then the Trojans hemmed the Achaeans in at
their ships' sterns and would not let them come forth; the elders,
therefore, of the Argives besought Achilles and offered him great
treasure, whereon he refused to bring deliverance to them himself, but
put his own armour on Patroclus and sent him into the fight with
much people after him. All day long they fought by the Scaean gates
and would have taken the city there and then, had not Apollo
vouchsafed glory to Hector and slain the valiant son of Menoetius
after he had done the Trojans much evil. Therefore I am suppliant at
your knees if haply you may be pleased to provide my son, whose end is
near at hand, with helmet and shield, with goodly greaves fitted
with ancle-clasps, and with a breastplate, for he lost his own when
his true comrade fell at the hands of the Trojans, and he now lies
stretched on earth in the bitterness of his soul."
And Vulcan answered, "Take heart, and be no more disquieted about
this matter; would that I could hide him from death's sight when his
hour is come, so surely as I can find him armour that shall amaze
the eyes of all who behold it."
When he had so said he left her and went to his bellows, turning
them towards the fire and bidding them do their office. Twenty bellows
blew upon the melting-pots, and they blew blasts of every kind, some
fierce to help him when he had need of them, and others less strong as
Vulcan willed it in the course of his work. He threw tough copper into
the fire, and tin, with silver and gold; he set his great anvil on its
block, and with one hand grasped his mighty hammer while he took the
tongs in the other.
First he shaped the shield so great and strong, adorning it all over
and binding it round with a gleaming circuit in three layers; and
the baldric was made of silver. He made the shield in five
thicknesses, and with many a wonder did his cunning hand enrich it.
He wrought the earth, the heavens, and the sea; the moon also at her
full and the untiring sun, with all the signs that glorify the face of
heaven- the Pleiads, the Hyads, huge Orion, and the Bear, which men
also call the Wain and which turns round ever in one place, facing.
Orion, and alone never dips into the stream of Oceanus.
He wrought also two cities, fair to see and busy with the hum of
men. In the one were weddings and wedding-feasts, and they were
going about the city with brides whom they were escorting by
torchlight from their chambers. Loud rose the cry of Hymen, and the
youths danced to the music of flute and lyre, while the women stood
each at her house door to see them.
Meanwhile the people were gathered in assembly, for there was a
quarrel, and two men were wrangling about the blood-money for a man
who had been killed, the one saying before the people that he had paid
damages in full, and the other that he had not been paid. Each was
trying to make his own case good, and the people took sides, each
man backing the side that he had taken; but the heralds kept them
back, and the elders sate on their seats of stone in a solemn
circle, holding the staves which the heralds had put into their hands.
Then they rose and each in his turn gave judgement, and there were two
talents laid down, to be given to him whose judgement should be deemed
the fairest.
About the other city there lay encamped two hosts in gleaming
armour, and they were divided whether to sack it, or to spare it and
accept the half of what it contained. But the men of the city would
not yet consent, and armed themselves for a surprise; their wives
and little children kept guard upon the walls, and with them were
the men who were past fighting through age; but the others sallied
forth with Mars and Pallas Minerva at their head- both of them wrought
in gold and clad in golden raiment, great and fair with their armour
as befitting gods, while they that followed were smaller. When they
reached the place where they would lay their ambush, it was on a
riverbed to which live stock of all kinds would come from far and near
to water; here, then, they lay concealed, clad in full armour. Some
way off them there were two scouts who were on the look-out for the
coming of sheep or cattle, which presently came, followed by two
shepherds who were playing on their pipes, and had not so much as a
thought of danger. When those who were in ambush saw this, they cut
off the flocks and herds and killed the shepherds. Meanwhile the
besiegers, when they heard much noise among the cattle as they sat
in council, sprang to their horses, and made with all speed towards
them; when they reached them they set battle in array by the banks
of the river, and the hosts aimed their bronze-shod spears at one
another. With them were Strife and Riot, and fell Fate who was
dragging three men after her, one with a fresh wound, and the other
unwounded, while the third was dead, and she was dragging him along by
his heel: and her robe was bedrabbled in men's blood. They went in and
out with one another and fought as though they were living people
haling away one another's dead.
He wrought also a fair fallow field, large and thrice ploughed
already. Many men were working at the plough within it, turning
their oxen to and fro, furrow after furrow. Each time that they turned
on reaching the headland a man would come up to them and give them a
cup of wine, and they would go back to their furrows looking forward
to the time when they should again reach the headland. The part that
they had ploughed was dark behind them, so that the field, though it
was of gold, still looked as if it were being ploughed- very curious
to behold.
He wrought also a field of harvest corn, and the reapers were
reaping with sharp sickles in their hands. Swathe after swathe fell to
the ground in a straight line behind them, and the binders bound
them in bands of twisted straw. There were three binders, and behind
them there were boys who gathered the cut corn in armfuls and kept
on bringing them to be bound: among them all the owner of the land
stood by in silence and was glad. The servants were getting a meal
ready under an oak, for they had sacrificed a great ox, and were
busy cutting him up, while the women were making a porridge of much
white barley for the labourers' dinner.
He wrought also a vineyard, golden and fair to see, and the vines
were loaded with grapes. The bunches overhead were black, but the
vines were trained on poles of silver. He ran a ditch of dark metal
all round it, and fenced it with a fence of tin; there was only one
path to it, and by this the vintagers went when they would gather
the vintage. Youths and maidens all blithe and full of glee, carried
the luscious fruit in plaited baskets; and with them there went a
boy who made sweet music with his lyre, and sang the Linus-song with
his clear boyish voice.
He wrought also a herd of homed cattle. He made the cows of gold and
tin, and they lowed as they came full speed out of the yards to go and
feed among the waving reeds that grow by the banks of the river. Along
with the cattle there went four shepherds, all of them in gold, and
their nine fleet dogs went with them. Two terrible lions had
fastened on a bellowing bull that was with the foremost cows, and
bellow as he might they haled him, while the dogs and men gave
chase: the lions tore through the bull's thick hide and were gorging
on his blood and bowels, but the herdsmen were afraid to do
anything, and only hounded on their dogs; the dogs dared not fasten on
the lions but stood by barking and keeping out of harm's way.
The god wrought also a pasture in a fair mountain dell, and large
flock of sheep, with a homestead and huts, and sheltered sheepfolds.
Furthermore he wrought a green, like that which Daedalus once made
in Cnossus for lovely Ariadne. Hereon there danced youths and
maidens whom all would woo, with their hands on one another's
wrists. The maidens wore robes of light linen, and the youths well
woven shirts that were slightly oiled. The girls were crowned with
garlands, while the young men had daggers of gold that hung by
silver baldrics; sometimes they would dance deftly in a ring with
merry twinkling feet, as it were a potter sitting at his work and
making trial of his wheel to see whether it will run, and sometimes
they would go all in line with one another, and much people was
gathered joyously about the green. There was a bard also to sing to
them and play his lyre, while two tumblers went about performing in
the midst of them when the man struck up with his tune.
All round the outermost rim of the shield he set the mighty stream
of the river Oceanus.
Then when he had fashioned the shield so great and strong, he made a
breastplate also that shone brighter than fire. He made helmet,
close fitting to the brow, and richly worked, with a golden plume
overhanging it; and he made greaves also of beaten tin.
Lastly, when the famed lame god had made all the armour, he took
it and set it before the mother of Achilles; whereon she darted like a
falcon from the snowy summits of Olympus and bore away the gleaming
armour from the house of Vulcan.

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Metamorphoses: Book The Twelfth

PRIAM, to whom the story was unknown,
As dead, deplor'd his metamorphos'd son:
A cenotaph his name, and title kept,
And Hector round the tomb, with all his brothers,
wept.
This pious office Paris did not share;
Absent alone; and author of the war,
Which, for the Spartan queen, the Grecians drew
T' avenge the rape; and Asia to subdue.
The A thousand ships were mann'd, to sail the sea:
Trojan War Nor had their just resentments found delay,
Had not the winds, and waves oppos'd their way.
At Aulis, with united pow'rs they meet,
But there, cross-winds or calms detain'd the fleet.
Now, while they raise an altar on the shore,
And Jove with solemn sacrifice adore;
A boding sign the priests and people see:
A snake of size immense ascends a tree,
And, in the leafie summit, spy'd a nest,
Which o'er her callow young, a sparrow press'd.
Eight were the birds unfledg'd; their mother flew,
And hover'd round her care; but still in view:
'Till the fierce reptile first devour'd the brood,
Then seiz'd the flutt'ring dam, and drunk her
blood.
This dire ostent, the fearful people view;
Calchas alone, by Phoebus taught, foreknew
What Heav'n decreed; and with a smiling glance,
Thus gratulates to Greece her happy chance:
O Argives, we shall conquer: Troy is ours,
But long delays shall first afflict our pow'rs:
Nine years of labour, the nine birds portend;
The tenth shall in the town's destruction end.
The serpent, who his maw obscene had fill'd,
The branches in his curl'd embraces held:
But, as in spires he stood, he turn'd to stone:
The stony snake retain'd the figure still his own.
Yet, not for this, the wind-bound navy weigh'd;
Slack were their sails; and Neptune disobey'd.
Some thought him loth the town should be destroy'd,
Whose building had his hands divine employ'd:
Not so the seer; who knew, and known foreshow'd,
The virgin Phoebe, with a virgin's blood
Must first be reconcil'd: the common cause
Prevail'd; and pity yielding to the laws,
Fair Iphigenia the devoted maid
Was, by the weeping priests, in linnen-robes
array'd;
All mourn her fate; but no relief appear'd;
The royal victim bound, the knife already rear'd:
When that offended Pow'r, who caus'd their woe,
Relenting ceas'd her wrath; and stop'd the coming
blow.
A mist before the ministers she cast,
And, in the virgin's room, a hind she plac'd.
Th' oblation slain, and Phoebe, reconcil'd,
The storm was hush'd, and dimpled ocean smil'd:
A favourable gale arose from shore,
Which to the port desir'd, the Graecian gallies
bore.
The House of Full in the midst of this created space,
Fame Betwixt Heav'n, Earth, and skies, there stands a
place,
Confining on all three, with triple bound;
Whence all things, tho' remote, are view'd around;
And thither bring their undulating sound.
The palace of loud Fame, her seat of pow'r,
Plac'd on the summet of a lofty tow'r;
A thousand winding entries long and wide,
Receive of fresh reports a flowing tide.
A thousand crannies in the walls are made;
Nor gate, nor bars exclude the busie trade.
'Tis built of brass, the better to diffuse
The spreading sounds, and multiply the news:
Where eccho's in repeated eccho's play:
A mart for ever full, and open night and day.
Nor silence is within, nor voice express,
But a deaf noise of sounds, that never cease.
Confus'd and chiding, like the hollow roar
Of tides, receding from th' insulted shore,
Or like the broken thunder heard from far,
When Jove at distance drives the rouling war.
The courts are fill'd with a tumultuous din
Of crouds, or issuing forth, or entring in:
A thorough-fare of news: where some devise
Things never heard, some mingle truth with lies;
The troubled air with empty sounds they beat,
Intent to hear, and eager to repeat.
Error sits brooding there, with added train
Of vain credulity, and joys as vain:
Suspicion, with sedition join'd, are near,
And rumours rais'd, and murmurs mix'd, and panique
fear.
Fame sits aloft, and sees the subject ground,
And seas about, and skies above; enquiring all
around.
The Goddess gives th' alarm; and soon is known
The Grecian fleet descending on the town.
Fix'd on defence, the Trojans are not slow
To guard their shore, from an expected foe.
They meet in fight: by Hector's fatal hand
Protesilaus falls, and bites the strand:
Which with expence of blood the Grecians won;
And prov'd the strength unknown of Priam's son.
And to their cost the Trojan leaders felt
The Grecian heroes; and what deaths they dealt.
The Story of From these first onsets, the Sigaean shore
Cygnus Was strew'd with carcasses, and stain'd with gore:
Neptunian Cygnus troops of Greeks had slain;
Achilles in his carr had scour'd the plain,
And clear'd the Trojan ranks: where-e'er he fought,
Cygnus, or Hector, through the fields he sought:
Cygnus he found; on him his force essay'd:
For Hector was to the tenth year delay'd.
His white-main'd steeds, that bow'd beneath the
yoke,
He chear'd to courage, with a gentle stroke;
Then urg'd his fiery chariot on the foe;
And rising shook his lance; in act to throw.
But first he cry'd, O youth, be proud to bear
Thy death, ennobled by Pelides' spear.
The lance pursu'd the voice without delay,
Nor did the whizzing weapon miss the way;
But pierc'd his cuirass, with such fury sent,
And sign'd his bosom with a purple dint.
At this the seed of Neptune: Goddess-born,
For ornament, not use, these arms are worn;
This helm, and heavy buckler, I can spare;
As only decorations of the war:
So Mars is arm'd for glory, not for need.
'Tis somewhat more from Neptune to proceed,
Than from a daughter of the sea to spring:
Thy sire is mortal; mine is ocean's king.
Secure of death, I shou'd contemn thy dart,
Tho' naked; and impassible depart:
He said, and threw: the trembling weapon pass'd
Through nine bull-hides, each under other plac'd,
On his broad shield; and stuck within the last.
Achilles wrench'd it out; and sent again
The hostile gift: the hostile gift was vain.
He try'd a third, a tough well-chosen spear;
Th' inviolable body stood sincere,
Though Cygnus then did no defence provide,
But scornful offer'd his unshielded side.
Not otherwise th' impatient hero far'd,
Than as a bull incompass'd with a guard,
Amid the Circus roars, provok'd from far
By sight of scarlet, and a sanguine war:
They quit their ground, his bended horns elude;
In vain pursuing, and in vain pursu'd:
Before to farther fight he wou'd advance,
He stood considering, and survey'd his lance.
Doubts if he wielded not a wooden spear
Without a point: he look'd, the point was there.
This is my hand, and this my lance, he said;
By which so many thousand foes are dead,
O whither is their usual virtue fled!
I had it once; and the Lyrnessian wall,
And Tenedos, confess'd it in their fall.
Thy streams, Caicus, rowl'd a crimson-flood;
And Thebes ran red with her own natives' blood.
Twice Telephus employ'd their piercing steel,
To wound him first, and afterward to heal.
The vigour of this arm was never vain:
And that my wonted prowess I retain,
Witness these heaps of slaughter on the plain.
He said; and, doubtful of his former deeds,
To some new tryal of his force proceeds.
He chose Menoetes from among the rest;
At him he launch'd his spear, and pierc'd his
breast:
On the hard earth the Lycian knock'd his head,
And lay supine; and forth the spirit fled.
Then thus the hero: Neither can I blame
The hand, or jav'lin; both are still the same.
The same I will employ against this foe,
And wish but with the same success to throw.
So spoke the chief; and while he spoke he threw;
The weapon with unerring fury flew,
At his left shoulder aim'd: nor entrance found;
But back, as from a rock, with swift rebound
Harmless return'd: a bloody mark appear'd,
Which with false joy the flatter'd hero chear'd.
Wound there was none; the blood that was in view,
The lance before from slain Menoetes drew.
Headlong he leaps from off his lofty car,
And in close fight on foot renews the war.
Raging with high disdain, repeats his blows;
Nor shield, nor armour can their force oppose;
Huge cantlets of his buckler strew the ground,
And no defence in his bor'd arms is found,
But on his flesh, no wound or blood is seen;
The sword it self is blunted on the skin.
This vain attempt the chief no longer bears;
But round his hollow temples and his ears
His buckler beats: the son of Neptune, stunn'd
With these repeated buffets, quits his ground;
A sickly sweat succeeds, and shades of night;
Inverted Nature swims before his sight:
Th' insulting victor presses on the more,
And treads the steps the vanquish'd trod before,
Nor rest, nor respite gives. A stone there lay
Behind his trembling foe, and stopp'd his way:
Achilles took th' advantage which he found,
O'er-turn'd, and push'd him backward on the ground,
His buckler held him under, while he press'd,
With both his knees, above his panting breast.
Unlac'd his helm: about his chin the twist
He ty'd; and soon the strangled soul dismiss'd.
With eager haste he went to strip the dead:
The vanish'd body from his arms was fled.
His sea-God sire, t' immortalize his frame,
Had turn'd it to a bird that bears his name.
A truce succeeds the labours of this day,
And arms suspended with a long delay.
While Trojan walls are kept with watch and ward;
The Greeks before their trenches mount the guard;
The feast approach'd; when to the blue-ey'd maid
His vows for Cygnus slain the victor paid,
And a white heyfer on her altar laid.
The reeking entrails on the fire they threw,
And to the Gods the grateful odour flew.
Heav'n had its part in sacrifice: the rest
Was broil'd, and roasted for the future feast.
The chief-invited guests were set around!
And hunger first asswag'd, the bowls were crown'd,
Which in deep draughts their cares, and labours
drown'd.
The mellow harp did not their ears employ:
And mute was all the warlike symphony:
Discourse, the food of souls, was their delight,
And pleasing chat prolong'd the summer's night.
The subject, deeds of arms; and valour shown,
Or on the Trojan side, or on their own.
Of dangers undertaken, fame atchiev'd,
They talk'd by turns; the talk by turns reliev'd.
What things but these could fierce Achilles tell,
Or what cou'd fierce Achilles hear so well?
The last great act perform'd, of Cygnus slain,
Did most the martial audience entertain:
Wondring to find a body free by Fate
From steel; and which cou'd ev'n that steel rebate:
Amaz'd, their admiration they renew;
And scarce Pelides cou'd believe it true.
The Story of Then Nestor thus: what once this age has known,
Caeneus In fated Cygnus, and in him alone,
These eyes have seen in Caeneus long before;
Whose body not a thousand swords cou'd bore.
Caeneus, in courage, and in strength, excell'd;
And still his Othrys with his fame is fill'd:
But what did most his martial deeds adorn
(Though since he chang'd his sex) a woman born.
A novelty so strange, and full of Fate,
His list'ning audience ask'd him to relate.
Achilles thus commends their common sute:
O father, first for prudence in repute,
Tell, with that eloquence, so much thy own,
What thou hast heard, or what of Caeneus known:
What was he, whence his change of sex begun,
What trophies, join'd in wars with thee, he won?
Who conquer'd him, and in what fatal strife
The youth, without a wound, cou'd lose his life?
Neleides then: Though tardy age, and time,
Have shrunk my sinews, and decay'd my prime;
Though much I have forgotten of my store,
Yet not exhausted, I remember more.
Of all that arms atchiev'd, or peace design'd,
That action still is fresher in my mind,
Than ought beside. If reverend age can give
To faith a sanction, in my third I live.
'Twas in my second cent'ry, I survey'd
Young Caenis, then a fair Thessalian maid:
Caenis the bright, was born to high command;
A princess, and a native of thy land,
Divine Achilles; every tongue proclaim'd
Her beauty, and her eyes all hearts inflam'd.
Peleus, thy sire, perhaps had sought her bed,
Among the rest; but he had either led
Thy mother then; or was by promise ty'd;
But she to him, and all, alike her love deny'd.
It was her fortune once to take her way
Along the sandy margin of the sea:
The Pow'r of ocean view'd her as she pass'd,
And, lov'd as soon as seen, by force embrac'd.
So Fame reports. Her virgin-treasure seiz'd,
And his new joys, the ravisher so pleas'd,
That thus, transported, to the nymph he cry'd;
Ask what thou wilt, no pray'r shall be deny'd.
This also Fame relates: the haughty fair,
Who not the rape ev'n of a God cou'd bear,
This answer, proud, return'd: To mighty wrongs
A mighty recompence, of right, belongs.
Give me no more to suffer such a shame;
But change the woman, for a better name;
One gift for all: she said; and while she spoke,
A stern, majestick, manly tone she took.
A man she was: and as the Godhead swore,
To Caeneus turn'd, who Caenis was before.
To this the lover adds, without request,
No force of steel shou'd violate his breast.
Glad of the gift, the new-made warrior goes;
And arms among the Greeks, and longs for equal
foes.
The Skirmish Now brave Perithous, bold Ixion's son,
between the The love of fair Hippodame had won.
Centaurs and The cloud-begotten race, half men, half beast,
Lapithites Invited, came to grace the nuptial feast:
In a cool cave's recess the treat was made,
Whose entrance, trees with spreading boughs
o'er-shade
They sate: and summon'd by the bridegroom, came,
To mix with those, the Lapythaean name:
Nor wanted I: the roofs with joy resound:
And Hymen, Io Hymen, rung around.
Rais'd altars shone with holy fires; the bride,
Lovely her self (and lovely by her side
A bevy of bright nymphs, with sober grace),
Came glitt'ring like a star, and took her place.
Her heav'nly form beheld, all wish'd her joy;
And little wanted; but in vain, their wishes all
employ.
For one, most brutal, of the brutal brood,
Or whether wine, or beauty fir'd his blood,
Or both at once, beheld with lustful eyes
The bride; at once resolv'd to make his prize.
Down went the board; and fastning on her hair,
He seiz'd with sudden force the frighted fair.
'Twas Eurytus began: his bestial kind
His crime pursu'd; and each as pleas'd his mind,
Or her, whom chance presented, took: the feast
An image of a taken town express'd.
The cave resounds with female shrieks; we rise,
Mad with revenge to make a swift reprise:
And Theseus first, What phrenzy has possess'd,
O Eurytus, he cry'd, thy brutal breast,
To wrong Perithous, and not him alone,
But while I live, two friends conjoyn'd in one?
To justifie his threat, he thrusts aside
The crowd of centaurs; and redeems the bride:
The monster nought reply'd: for words were vain,
And deeds cou'd only deeds unjust maintain;
But answers with his hand, and forward press'd,
With blows redoubled, on his face, and breast.
An ample goblet stood, of antick mold,
And rough with figures of the rising gold;
The hero snatch'd it up, and toss'd in air
Full at the front of the foul ravisher.
He falls; and falling vomits forth a flood
Of wine, and foam, and brains, and mingled blood.
Half roaring, and half neighing through the hall,
Arms, arms, the double-form'd with fury call;
To wreak their brother's death: a medley-flight
Of bowls, and jars, at first supply the fight,
Once instruments of feasts; but now of Fate;
Wine animates their rage, and arms their hate.
Bold Amycus, from the robb'd vestry brings
The chalices of Heav'n; and holy things
Of precious weight: a sconce that hung on high,
With tapers fill'd, to light the sacristy,
Torn from the cord, with his unhallow'd hand
He threw amid the Lapythaean band.
On Celadon the ruin fell; and left
His face of feature, and of form bereft:
So, when some brawny sacrificer knocks,
Before an altar led, an offer'd ox,
His eyes-balls rooted out, are thrown to ground;
His nose, dismantled, in his mouth is found;
His jaws, cheeks, front, one undistinguish'd wound.
This, Belates, th' avenger, cou'd not brook;
But, by the foot, a maple board he took;
And hurl'd at Amycus; his chin it bent
Against his chest, and down the centaur sent:
Whom sputtring bloody teeth, the second blow
Of his drawn sword, dispatch'd to shades below.
Grineus was near; and cast a furious look
On the side-altar, cens'd with sacred smoke,
And bright with flaming fires; The Gods, he cry'd,
Have with their holy trade our hands supply'd:
Why use we not their gifts? Then from the floor
An altar stone he heav'd, with all the load it
bore:
Altar, and altar's freight together slew,
Where thickest throng'd the Lapythaean crew:
And, at once, Broteas and Oryus flew.
Oryus' mother, Mycale, was known
Down from her sphere to draw the lab'ring moon.
Exadius cry'd, Unpunish'd shall not go
This fact, if arms are found against the foe.
He look'd about, where on a pine were spread
The votive horns of a stag's branching head:
At Grineus these he throws; so just they fly,
That the sharp antlers stuck in either eye:
Breathless, and blind he fell; with blood
besmear'd;
His eye-balls beaten out, hung dangling on his
beard.
Fierce Rhoetus, from the hearth a burning brand
Selects, and whirling waves; 'till, from his hand
The fire took flame; then dash'd it from the right,
On fair Charaxus' temples, near the sight:
The whistling pest came on, and pierc'd the bone,
And caught the yellow hair, that shrivel'd while it
shone.
Caught, like dry stubble fir'd; or like seerwood;
Yet from the wound ensu'd no purple flood;
But look'd a bubbling mass of frying blood.
His blazing locks sent forth a crackling sound;
And hiss'd, like red hot ir'n within the smithy
drown'd.
The wounded warrior shook his flaming hair,
Then (what a team of horse could hardly rear)
He heaves the threshold stone, but could not throw;
The weight itself forbad the threaten'd blow;
Which dropping from his lifted arms, came down
Full on Cometes' head; and crush'd his crown.
Nor Rhoetus then retain'd his joy; but said,
So by their fellows may our foes be sped;
Then, with redoubled strokes he plies his head:
The burning lever not deludes his pains:
But drives the batter'd skull within the brains.
Thus flush'd, the conqueror, with force renew'd,
Evagrus, Dryas, Corythus, pursu'd:
First, Corythus, with downy cheeks, he slew;
Whose fall, when fierce Evagrus had in view,
He cry'd, What palm is from a beardless prey?
Rhoetus prevents what more he had to say;
And drove within his mouth the fi'ry death,
Which enter'd hissing in, and choak'd his breath.
At Dryas next he flew: but weary chance,
No longer wou'd the same success advance.
For while he whirl'd in fiery circles round
The brand, a sharpen'd stake strong Dryas found;
And in the shoulder's joint inflicts the wound.
The weapon stuck; which, roaring out with pain,
He drew; nor longer durst the fight maintain,
But turn'd his back, for fear; and fled amain.
With him fled Orneus, with like dread possess'd,
Thaumas, and Medon wounded in the breast;
And Mermeros, in the late race renown'd,
Now limping ran, and tardy with his wound.
Pholus, and Melaneus from fight withdrew,
And Abas maim'd, who boars encountring slew:
And Augur Asbolos, whose art in vain,
From fight dissuaded the four-footed train,
Now beat the hoof with Nessus on the plain;
But to his fellow cry'd, Be safely slow,
Thy death deferr'd is due to great Alcides' bow.
Mean-time strong Dryas urg'd his chance so well,
That Lycidas, Areos, Imbreus fell;
All, one by one, and fighting face to face:
Crenaeus fled, to fall with more disgrace:
For, fearful, while he look'd behind, he bore,
Betwixt his nose, and front, the blow before.
Amid the noise, and tumult of the fray,
Snoring, and drunk with wine, Aphidas lay.
Ev'n then the bowl within his hand he kept,
And on a bear's rough hide securely slept.
Him Phorbas with his flying dart transfix'd;
Take thy next draught, with Stygian waters mix'd,
And sleep thy fill, th' insulting victor cry'd;
Surpriz'd with death unfelt, the centaur dy'd;
The ruddy vomit, as he breath'd his soul
Repass'd his throat, and fill'd his empty bowl.
I saw Petraeus' arms employ'd around
A well-grown oak, to root it from the ground.
This way, and that, he wrench'd the fibrous bands;
The trunk was like a sappling, in his hands,
And still obey'd the bent: while thus he stood,
Perithous' dart drove on; and nail'd him to the
wood;
Lycus, and Chromis fell, by him oppress'd:
Helops, and Dictis added to the rest
A nobler palm: Helops, through either ear
Transfix'd, receiv'd the penetrating spear.
This Dictis saw; and, seiz'd with sudden fright,
Leapt headlong from the hill of steepy height;
And crush'd an ash beneath, that cou'd not bear his
weight.
The shatter'd tree receives his fall; and strikes,
Within his full-blown paunch, the sharpen'd spikes.
Strong Aphareus had heav'd a mighty stone,
The fragment of a rock; and wou'd have thrown;
But Theseus, with a club of harden'd oak,
The cubit-bone of the bold centaur broke;
And left him maim'd; nor seconded the stroke.
Then leapt on tall Bianor's back (who bore
No mortal burden but his own, before);
Press'd with his knees his sides; the double man,
His speed with spurs increas'd, unwilling ran.
One hand the hero fastn'd on his locks;
His other ply'd him with repeated strokes.
The club rung round his ears, and batter'd brows;
He falls; and lashing up his heels, his rider
throws.
The same Herculean arms, Nedymnus wound;
And lay by him Lycotas on the ground,
And Hippasus, whose beard his breast invades;
And Ripheus, haunter of the woodland shades:
And Thereus, us'd with mountain-bears to strive,
And from their dens to draw th' indignant beasts
alive.
Demoleon cou'd not bear this hateful sight,
Or the long fortune of th' Athenian knight:
But pull'd with all his force, to disengage
From Earth a pine, the product of an age:
The root stuck fast: the broken trunk he sent
At Theseus; Theseus frustrates his intent,
And leaps aside; by Pallas warn'd, the blow
To shun (for so he said; and we believ'd it so).
Yet not in vain th' enormous weight was cast;
Which Crantor's body sunder'd at the waist:
Thy father's 'squire, Achilles, and his care;
Whom conquer'd in the Polopeian war,
Their king, his present ruin to prevent,
A pledge of peace implor'd, to Peleus sent.
Thy sire, with grieving eyes, beheld his Fate;
And cry'd, Not long, lov'd Crantor, shalt thou wait
Thy vow'd revenge. At once he said, and threw
His ashen-spear; which quiver'd, as it flew;
With all his force, and all his soul apply'd;
The sharp point enter'd in the centaur's side:
Both hands, to wrench it out, the monster join'd;
And wrench'd it out; but left the steel behind;
Stuck in his lungs it stood: inrag'd he rears
His hoofs, and down to ground thy father bears.
Thus trampled under foot, his shield defends
His head; his other hand the lance portends.
Ev'n while he lay extended on the dust,
He sped the centaur, with one single thrust.
Two more his lance before transfix'd from far;
And two, his sword had slain, in closer war.
To these was added Dorylas, who spread
A bull's two goring horns around his head.
With these he push'd; in blood already dy'd,
Him fearless, I approach'd; and thus defy'd:
Now, monster, now, by proof it shall appear,
Whether thy horns are sharper, or my spear.
At this, I threw: for want of other ward,
He lifted up his hand, his front to guard.
His hand it pass'd; and fix'd it to his brow:
Loud shouts of ours attend the lucky blow.
Him Peleus finish'd, with a second wound,
Which thro' the navel pierc'd: he reel'd around;
And dragg'd his dangling bowels on the ground.
Trod what he drag'd; and what he trod, he crush'd:
And to his mother-Earth, with empty belly, rush'd.
The Story of Nor cou'd thy form, o Cyllarus, foreflow
Cyllarus and Thy Fate (if form to monsters men allow):
Hylonome Just bloom'd thy beard: thy beard of golden hue:
Thy locks, in golden waves, about thy shoulders
flew.
Sprightly thy look: thy shapes in ev'ry part
So clean, as might instruct the sculptor's art;
As far as man extended: where began
The beast, the beast was equal to the man.
Add but a horse's head and neck; and he,
O Castor, was a courser worthy thee.
So was his back proportion'd for the seat:
So rose his brawny chest; so swiftly mov'd his
feet.
Coal-black his colour, but like jett it shone;
His legs, and flowing tail were white alone.
Belov'd by many maidens of his kind;
But fair Hylonome possess'd his mind;
Hylonome, for features, and for face,
Excelling all the nymphs of double race:
Nor less her blandishments, than beauty, move;
At once both loving, and confessing love.
For him she dress'd: for him, with female care
She comb'd, and set in curls, her auburn hair.
Of roses, violets, and lillies mix'd,
And sprigs of flowing rosemary betwixt,
She form'd the chaplet, that adorn'd her front:
In waters of the Pegasaean fount,
And in the streams that from the fountain play,
She wash'd her face; and bath'd her twice a-day.
The scarf of furs, that hung below her side,
Was ermin, or the panther's spotted pride;
Spoils of no common beast: with equal flame
They lov'd: their silvan pleasures were the same:
All day they hunted: and when day expir'd,
Together to some shady cave retir'd:
Invited to the nuptials, both repair:
And, side by side, they both engage in war.
Uncertain from what hand, a flying dart
At Cyllarus was sent; which pierc'd his heart.
The jav'lin drawn from out the mortal wound,
He faints with stagg'ring steps; and seeks the
ground:
The fair within her arms receiv'd his fall,
And strove his wand'ring spirits to recall:
And while her hand the streaming blood oppos'd,
Join'd face to face, his lips with hers she clos'd.
Stifled with kisses, a sweet death he dies;
She fills the fields with undistinguish'd cries;
At least her words were in her clamour drown'd;
For my stunn'd ears receiv'd no vocal sound.
In madness of her grief, she seiz'd the dart
New-drawn, and reeking from her lover's heart;
To her bare bosom the sharp point apply'd;
And wounded fell; and falling by his side,
Embrac'd him in her arms; and thus embracing dy'd.
Ev'n still methinks, I see Phaeocomes;
Strange was his habit, and as odd his dress.
Six lions' hides, with thongs together fast,
His upper part defended to his waist:
And where man ended, the continued vest,
Spread on his back, the houss and trappings of a
beast.
A stump too heavy for a team to draw
(It seems a fable, tho' the fact I saw);
He threw at Pholon; the descending blow
Divides the skull, and cleaves his head in two.
The brains, from nose, and mouth, and either ear,
Came issuing out, as through a colendar
The curdled milk; or from the press the whey,
Driv'n down by weight above, is drain'd away.
But him, while stooping down to spoil the slain,
Pierc'd through the paunch, I tumbled on the plain.
Then Chthonyus, and Teleboas I slew:
A fork the former arm'd; a dart his fellow threw.
The jav'lin wounded me (behold the scar,
Then was my time to seek the Trojan war;
Then I was Hector's match in open field;
But he was then unborn; at least a child:
Now, I am nothing). I forbear to tell
By Periphantas how Pyretus fell;
The centaur by the knight: nor will I stay
On Amphix, or what deaths he dealt that day:
What honour, with a pointless lance, he won,
Stuck in the front of a four-footed man.
What fame young Macareus obtain'd in fight:
Or dwell on Nessus, now return'd from flight.
How prophet Mopsus not alone divin'd,
Whose valour equal'd his foreseeing mind.
Caeneus Already Caeneus, with his conquering hand,
transform'd to Had slaughter'd five the boldest of their band.
an Eagle Pyrachmus, Helymus, Antimachus,
Bromus the brave, and stronger Stiphelus,
Their names I number'd, and remember well,
No trace remaining, by what wounds they fell.
Laitreus, the bulki'st of the double race,
Whom the spoil'd arms of slain Halesus grace,
In years retaining still his youthful might,
Though his black hairs were interspers'd with
white,
Betwixt th' imbattled ranks began to prance,
Proud of his helm, and Macedonian lance;
And rode the ring around; that either hoast
Might hear him, while he made this empty boast:
And from a strumpet shall we suffer shame?
For Caenis still, not Caeneus, is thy name:
And still the native softness of thy kind
Prevails; and leaves the woman in thy mind;
Remember what thou wert; what price was paid
To change thy sex; to make thee not a maid:
And but a man in shew; go, card and spin;
And leave the business of the war to men.
While thus the boaster exercis'd his pride,
The fatal spear of Caeneus reach'd his side:
Just in the mixture of the kinds it ran;
Betwixt the neather beast, and upper man:
The monster mad with rage, and stung with smart,
His lance directed at the hero's heart:
It struck; but bounded from his harden'd breast,
Like hail from tiles, which the safe house invest.
Nor seem'd the stroke with more effect to come,
Than a small pebble falling on a drum.
He next his fauchion try'd, in closer fight;
But the keen fauchion had no pow'r to bite.
He thrust; the blunted point return'd again:
Since downright blows, he cry'd, and thrusts are
vain,
I'll prove his side; in strong embraces held
He prov'd his side; his side the sword repell'd:
His hollow belly eccho'd to the stroke,
Untouch'd his body, as a solid rock;
Aim'd at his neck at last, the blade in shivers
broke.
Th' impassive knight stood idle, to deride
His rage, and offer'd oft his naked side;
At length, Now monster, in thy turn, he cry'd,
Try thou the strength of Caeneus: at the word
He thrust; and in his shoulder plung'd the sword.
Then writh'd his hand; and as he drove it down,
Deep in his breast, made many wounds in one.
The centaurs saw, inrag'd, th' unhop'd success;
And rushing on in crowds, together press;
At him, and him alone, their darts they threw:
Repuls'd they from his fated body flew.
Amaz'd they stood; 'till Monichus began,
O shame, a nation conquer'd by a man!
A woman-man! yet more a man is he,
Than all our race; and what he was, are we.
Now, what avail our nerves? th' united force,
Of two the strongest creatures, man and horse;
Nor Goddess-born; nor of Ixion's seed
We seem (a lover built for Juno's bed);
Master'd by this half man. Whole mountains throw
With woods at once, and bury him below.
This only way remains. Nor need we doubt
To choak the soul within; though not to force it
out:
Heap weights, instead of wounds. He chanc'd to see
Where southern storms had rooted up a tree;
This, rais'd from Earth, against the foe he threw;
Th' example shewn, his fellow-brutes pursue.
With forest-loads the warrior they invade;
Othrys, and Pelion soon were void of shade;
And spreading groves were naked mountains made.
Press'd with the burden, Caeneus pants for breath;
And on his shoulders bears the wooden death.
To heave th' intolerable weight he tries;
At length it rose above his mouth and eyes:
Yet still he heaves; and, strugling with despair,
Shakes all aside, and gains a gulp of air:
A short relief, which but prolongs his pain;
He faints by fits; and then respires again:
At last, the burden only nods above,
As when an earthquake stirs th' Idaean grove.
Doubtful his death: he suffocated seem'd,
To most; but otherwise our Mopsus deem'd,
Who said he saw a yellow bird arise
From out the piles, and cleave the liquid skies:
I saw it too, with golden feathers bright;
Nor e'er before beheld so strange a sight.
Whom Mopsus viewing, as it soar'd around
Our troop, and heard the pinions' rattling sound,
All hail, he cry'd, thy country's grace and love!
Once first of men below, now first of birds above.
Its author to the story gave belief:
For us, our courage was increas'd by grief:
Asham'd to see a single man, pursu'd
With odds, to sink beneath a multitude,
We push'd the foe: and forc'd to shameful flight,
Part fell, and part escap'd by favour of the night.
The Fate of This tale, by Nestor told, did much displease
Periclymenos Tlepolemus, the seed of Hercules:
For, often he had heard his father say,
That he himself was present at the fray;
And more than shar'd the glories of the day.
Old Chronicle, he said, among the rest,
You might have nam'd Alcides at the least:
Is he not worth your praise? The Pylian prince
Sigh'd ere he spoke; then made this proud defence.
My former woes in long oblivion drown'd,
I wou'd have lost; but you renew the wound:
Better to pass him o'er, than to relate
The cause I have your mighty sire to hate.
His fame has fill'd the world, and reach'd the sky
(Which, oh, I wish, with truth, I cou'd deny!);
We praise not Hector; though his name, we know,
Is great in arms; 'tis hard to praise a foe.
He, your great father, levell'd to the ground
Messenia's tow'rs: nor better fortune found
Elis, and Pylos; that a neighb'ring state,
And this my own: both guiltless of their fate.
To pass the rest, twelve, wanting one, he slew;
My brethren, who their birth from Neleus drew,
All youths of early promise, had they liv'd;
By him they perish'd: I alone surviv'd.
The rest were easie conquest: but the fate
Of Periclymenos, is wondrous to relate.
To him, our common grandsire of the main
Had giv'n to change his form, and chang'd, resume
again.
Vary'd at pleasure, every shape he try'd;
And in all beasts, Alcides still defy'd:
Vanquish'd on Earth, at length he soar'd above;
Chang'd to the bird, that bears the bolt of Jove:
The new-dissembled eagle, now endu'd
With beak, and pounces, Hercules pursu'd,
And cuff'd his manly cheeks, and tore his face;
Then, safe retir'd, and tour'd in empty space.
Alcides bore not long his flying foe;
But bending his inevitable bow,
Reach'd him in air, suspended as he stood;
And in his pinion fix'd the feather'd wood.
Light was the wound; but in the sinew hung
The point, and his disabled wing unstrung.
He wheel'd in air, and stretch'd his vans in vain;
His vans no longer cou'd his flight sustain:
For while one gather'd wind, one unsupply'd
Hung drooping down, nor pois'd his other side.
He fell: the shaft that slightly was impress'd,
Now from his heavy fall with weight increas'd,
Drove through his neck, aslant, he spurns the
ground,
And the soul issues through the weazon's wound.
Now, brave commander of the Rhodian seas,
What praise is due from me, to Hercules?
Silence is all the vengeance I decree
For my slain brothers; but 'tis peace with thee.
Thus with a flowing tongue old Nestor spoke:
Then, to full bowls each other they provoke:
At length, with weariness, and wine oppress'd,
They rise from table; and withdraw to rest.
The Death of The sire of Cygnus, monarch of the main,
Achilles Mean-time, laments his son, in battel slain,
And vows the victor's death; nor vows in vain.
For nine long years the smother'd pain he bore
(Achilles was not ripe for Fate before):
Then when he saw the promis'd hour was near,
He thus bespoke the God, that guides the year:
Immortal offspring of my brother Jove;
My brightest nephew, and whom best I love,
Whose hands were join'd with mine, to raise the
wall
Of tott'ring Troy, now nodding to her fall,
Dost thou not mourn our pow'r employ'd in vain;
And the defenders of our city slain?
To pass the rest, could noble Hector lie
Unpity'd, drag'd around his native Troy?
And yet the murd'rer lives: himself by far
A greater plague, than all the wasteful war:
He lives; the proud Pelides lives, to boast
Our town destroy'd, our common labour lost.
O, could I meet him! But I wish too late:
To prove my trident is not in his Fate!
But let him try (for that's allow'd) thy dart,
And pierce his only penetrable part.
Apollo bows to the superior throne;
And to his uncle's anger, adds his own.
Then in a cloud involv'd, he takes his flight,
Where Greeks, and Trojans mix'd in mortal fight;
And found out Paris, lurking where he stood,
And stain'd his arrows with plebeian blood:
Phoebus to him alone the God confess'd,
Then to the recreant knight, he thus address'd.
Dost thou not blush, to spend thy shafts in vain
On a degenerate, and ignoble train?
If fame, or better vengeance be thy care,
There aim: and, with one arrow, end the war.
He said; and shew'd from far the blazing shield
And sword, which, but Achilles, none cou'd wield;
And how he mov'd a God, and mow'd the standing
field.
The deity himself directs aright
Th' invenom'd shaft; and wings the fatal flight.
Thus fell the foremost of the Grecian name;
And he, the base adult'rer, boasts the fame.
A spectacle to glad the Trojan train;
And please old Priam, after Hector slain.
If by a female hand he had foreseen
He was to die, his wish had rather been
The lance, and double ax of the fair warriour
queen.
And now the terror of the Trojan field,
The Grecian honour, ornament, and shield,
High on a pile, th' unconquer'd chief is plac'd,
The God that arm'd him first, consum'd at last.
Of all the mighty man, the small remains
A little urn, and scarcely fill'd, contains.
Yet great in Homer, still Achilles lives;
And equal to himself, himself survives.
His buckler owns its former lord; and brings
New cause of strife, betwixt contending kings;
Who worthi'st after him, his sword to wield,
Or wear his armour, or sustain his shield.
Ev'n Diomede sat mute, with down-cast eyes;
Conscious of wanted worth to win the prize:
Nor Menelaus presum'd these arms to claim,
Nor he the king of men, a greater name.
Two rivals only rose: Laertes' son,
And the vast bulk of Ajax Telamon:
The king, who cherish'd each with equal love,
And from himself all envy wou'd remove,
Left both to be determin'd by the laws;
And to the Graecian chiefs transferr'd the cause.

The End of the Twelfth Book.


Translated into English verse under the direction of
Sir Samuel Garth by John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison,
William Congreve and other eminent hands

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Mel Gibson

Boot Camp was great and very interesting. You got to use live rounds of ammunition and got to do a lot of crawling around with live rounds flying around you, so you really had to learn to keep your ass down - everything down for that matter.

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When A Man Loves A Woman

When a man loves a woman, there is nothing he won't do;
He is vested with the strength to move mountains-it's true!
Whence found, true love allows that all his actions be toward one goal-
All a man truly wants is the one magical mate for his all-too-mysterious soul!

Promise a man your heart, you will get his and so very much more, in return;
His whole life shall become a duteous devotion to you and all with which you concern!
Share with a man your beauty and he will prove its might-even to you, though you disbelieve;
Share with this man your life-its magnificence shall be far more than either could ever conceive!

When a woman loves a man, there are no bounds to her steadfast devotion-
It will stand the test of time itself and see its way, even across the largest ocean!
From her heart comes her truth, his only choice-its obliged and humble acceptance;
He shall offer all he may as recompense, yet, it shall always seem a pittance!

Where there is love, truth, beauty and wisdom abound;
When there is love, its power and resplendence doth truly astound!

Maurice Harris,8 May 2010

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Dancing Rain Fairy In The CourtYard

The rain came down light that day
It seemed like each dropp was a small
Delicate foot dancing across the courtyard

I wish I could’ve joined in that
Dance of the rain drops and then
For a moment I thought I saw a fairy

She was beautiful with astonishing wings
Her hair was short but a beautiful auburn
With a simple dress of green and blue

I rub my eyes and blink to see her gone
And replaced with a good friend of mine
She runs to the doors slightly soaked

Bursting through the doors she dances and tells her
Tale of being a rain fairy dancing freely in her
Song of rain drops that is more beautiful than anything

I smile and tell her we must dance together in
The rain one day so that I too can experience
The joy of being a dancing rain fairy one day

Sadly I wasn’t able to join you my friend for I
Had left and even though today you will dance
Like the fairy you were last time I’ll be inside

Alone

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Our Dead Singer

H. W. L.

PRIDE of the sister realm so long our own,
We claim with her that spotless fame of thine,
White as her snow and fragrant as her pine!
Ours was thy birthplace, but in every zone
Some wreath of song thy liberal hand has thrown
Breathes perfume from its blossoms, that entwine
Where'er the dewdrops fall, the sunbeams shine,
On life's long path with tangled cares o'ergrown.
Can Art thy truthful counterfeit command,--
The silver-haloed features, tranquil, mild,--
Soften the lips of bronze as when they smiled,
Give warmth and pressure to the marble hand?
Seek the lost rainbow in the sky it spanned
Farewell, sweet Singer! Heaven reclaims its child.

Carved from the block or cast in clinging mould,
Will grateful Memory fondly try her best
The mortal vesture from decay to wrest;
His look shall greet us, calm, but ah, how cold!
No breath can stir the brazen drapery's fold,
No throb can heave the statue's stony breast;
'He is not here, but risen,' will stand confest
In all we miss, in all our eyes behold.
How Nature loved him! On his placid brow,
Thought's ample dome, she set the sacred sign
That marks the priesthood of her holiest shrine,
Nor asked a leaflet from the laurel's bough
That envious Time might clutch or disallow,
To prove her chosen minstrel's song divine.

On many a saddened hearth the evening fire
Burns paler as the children's hour draws near,--
That joyous hour his song made doubly dear,--
And tender memories touch the faltering choir.
He sings no more on earth; our vain desire
Aches for the voice we loved so long to hear
In Dorian flute-notes breathing soft and clear,--
The sweet contralto that could never tire.
Deafened with listening to a harsher strain,
The Maenad's scream, the stark barbarian's cry,
Still for those soothing, loving tones we sigh;
Oh, for our vanished Orpheus once again!
The shadowy silence hears us call in vain!
His lips are hushed; his song shall never die.

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That Was Then But This Is Now

Why make the past your sacred cow?
I guess youve changed, youve changed and how
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Fruits grown rotten on the bough
Reap what you sow, with a counterfeit plough
Yeah, yeah, yeah
That was then but this is now
That was then but this is now
More sacrifices than an aztec priest
Standing here straining at that leash
All fall down
Cant complain, musnt grumble
Help yourself to another peace of apple crumble
And consequently:
Hearts of oak are charged and blistered
Russians should be baby-sitted
Americans enlisted
That was then but this is now
That was then but this is now
That was then but this is now

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Nobody realizes this severe back pain in the Land of Opportunity?

Pain killer Vicodin not responds to this sick man
Even my companion miniature cheap Liquor bottle too turned around?
My salutation to the sculpture depicting Comrade Martin Luther King Jr. stands in Washington.
'I have a dream'

It's really unbearable
'Sciatica' they diagnosed
In the emergency theater
Their sarcastic smiles
I understand you're not dying anyhow
And you do not have insurance somehow
For investigation the matter furthermore?
I murmured then why don't you give me an injection to die
And bury me at the wounded knee?

*A humble dedication to the Honourable President of the USA Mr.Barack Obama for a solace!

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Giraffes: The Gentle Giants

One of my most favourite animals on this Earth, is a gentle giant – the giraffe;
But did you know that some people are killing them just for a so-called ‘laugh’?
These creatures, with their crazy-paving patterned coats of caramel and cream,
Are amongst the most marvellous and majestic, which this entire world has seen.

There was a time when they roamed around the African bush, wild and free,
But recently things have changed, and are now no longer as they used to be.
Rather than leaving them alone, to live out their lives in relative peace,
People are shooting them dead, and, sadly, this trend is on the increase.

Blessed with a long, tall, slender neck, and large, dark, gentle eyes,
Above the rest of living creatures, their noble heads elegantly rise.
Giraffes make an amazing ‘musical fluttering sound’, so I have read,
But their call will dwindle and die, and we’ll just have silence instead.

Their lifeless bodies seem to be seen as some kind of sickening prize,
By heartless hunters who only see a blaze of glory before their eyes.
If only animals and humans could live in harmony upon this great earth;
If only we all lived together, side by side, and valued each other’s worth.

On this earth, all living creatures have earned their rightful place,
So why should a sense of superiority be given to the human race?
Man won’t feel happy and fulfilled till we’re the only race alive,
But what gives us any right to be the only race that will survive?

The world is more than big enough, for animals and humans to share,
But at this rate, more and more animals are becoming extremely rare.
Giraffes don’t invade our lives, so why should we invade theirs?
For human presence, in their habitat, they really don’t much care.

The killers are often pictured with their prey in a ‘photo opportunity’.
We need to stop these needless killings; we need to stop this lunacy.
These callous killers need to be caught, and justice needs to be done,
Before the numbers of giraffe on Earth, dwindles down to a lonely one.

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