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The Athenaid: Volume III: Book the Twenty-eighth

While lamentation for Masistius dead
Depress'd the Persians, undisturb'd the Greeks
To all their camp refreshment had deriv'd
From clear Asopus. To th' accustom'd edge
Of his abounding flood they now resort.
Stones, darts and arrows from unnumber'd ranks,
Along the margin opposite dispos'd
By Mindarus, forbid access. Repulse
Disbands the Greeks. Exulting, he forgets
Cleora; active valour in his breast
Extinguishes the embers, cherish'd long
By self-tormenting memory, and warmth
Of fruitless passion. Present too his chief,
His friend and kinsman, from a fiery steed
Mardonius rules and stimulates the fight,
Like Boreas, riding on a stormy cloud,
Whence issue darts of light'ning, mix'd with hail
In rattling show'rs. The enemies dispers'd,
Embolden Mindarus to ford the stream.
In guidance swift of cavalry expert,
With unresisted squadrons he careers
Along the field. Inviolate the flood
He guards; each hostile quarter he insults.


Now Gobryas' son, unfetter'd from the bonds
Of superstitious terrors, joyful sees
In Mindarus a new Masistius rise;
Nor less the tidings Tiridates sends,
Who in Cithæron's passes hath despoil'd
The slaughter'd foes, inspire the gen'ral's thoughts,
Which teem with arduous enterprise. The camp
He empties all; beneath whose forming host
The meadow sounds. The native Persians face
Laconia's station, Greek allies oppose
Th' Athenian. All the force of Thebes array'd
Envenom'd Leontiades commands.


Greece in her lines sits tranquil; either host
Expects the other. By their augurs still
Restrain'd, they shun the interdicted ford.
But of the river's plenteous stream depriy'd
By Mindarus, the Grecians fear a dearth
Of that all-cheering element. A rill
Flows from a distant spring, Gargaphia nam'd,
Their sole resource. Nor dread of other wants
Afflicts them less; their convoy is o'erpow'r'd
By Tiridates. Anxious all exhaust
A night disturb'd; the bravest grieve the most,
Lest through severe necessity they quit
Inglorious their position. Morning shines;
When frequent signals from th' external guards,
Near and remote, successive rise. To arms
All rush. Along the spacious public way
From Megara, obscuring dust ascends.
The sound of trampling hoofs, and laden wheels,
With shouts of multitude, is heard. Behold,
Forth from the cloud, a messenger of joy,
Sicinus breaks, of bold auxiliar bands
Forerunner swift, and unexpected aid
In copious stores, at Megara's wide port
New-landed from Thermopylæ. The camp
Admits, and hails in rapturous acclaim
Euboean standards, Potidæa's ranks,
The laurell'd priest and hero, Timon sage,
Th' ennobled heir of Lygdamis, and thee,
Melissa's brother, great Oïleus' son,
Friend of Leonidas, thee dear to all,
O brave, and gen'rous Medon! From their tents
The chiefs assemble, when Sicinus spake:


Pausanius, gen'ral of united Greece,
Accept these ample succours from the hand
Of provident Themistocles. Possess'd
Of Oeta's passes, he the Persian host
Now with impenetrable toils besets
Like beasts of prey, entangled by the skill
Of some experienc'd hunter. Thou receive,
Just Aristides, from Timothea's love,
A suit of armour new, in Chalcis fram'd,
Without luxuriant ornament, or gold.
The shield, an emblem of thy soul, displays
Truth, equity and wisdom, hand in hand.
This for her children, and thy own, consign'd
To her Euboean roof and pious care,
She bids thee lift and conquer. Thou restore
The little exiles in their native homes
To dwell in peace. Her gift, she adds, derives
Its only value from the wearer's worth.


In smiles, like Saturn at the tribute pure
Of fruits and flow'rs in singleness of heart
Paid by religion of the golden age,
Timothea's gift the righteous man receives,
Not righteous more than practic'd to endure
Heroic labours, soon by matchless deeds
To justify the giver. He began:


Confederated warriors, who withstand
A tyrant's pow'r, unanimous confess
Your debt to great Themistocles, the lord
Of all-admir'd Timothea. He and I
Evince the fruits of concord. Ancient foes,
Through her united, cheerful we sustain
Our public charge. From gen'ral union Greece
Expects her safety. Him success hath crown'd
In arms and counsel; whether on the main
His naval flag he spread, or shook the land
With his triumphant step. O, hero-born
Pausanias! glowing with Herculean blood,
Now under thee let Aristides hope
To share success, nor tarnish with disgrace
His armour new. Behold, yon river gleams
With hostile arms. Those standards on the left,
Well-known to Attic eyes, are proudly borne
By native Medes and Persians. Treach'rous Thebes
Lifts her Cadmean banner on the right.
A second time Mardonius forms his host
To proffer battle. He, perhaps, may ford
Asopus, which Tisamenus, the learn'd
In divination, hath forbid our steps
To pass. Thy former numbers swift arrange.
New from a march let these auxiliars guard
The camp. To him Pausanias thus apart:


Athenian, hear: Your citizens are vers'd
In this Barbarian warfare, yet unknown
To us. Let Spartans and Athenians change
Their station. You, an adversary try'd
At Marathon, and foil'd, will best oppose.
To vanquish Grecians we accustom'd long
Will yon Boeotians and Thessalians face.
Such is my will. Concise the Attic sage:


Thou hast commanded what my willing thoughts
Themselves devis'd, but waited first to hear.
Well canst thou sight, Pausanias. I will strive
To imitate thy deeds and thy renown,
On whose increase our liberty and laws
Depend. This said, they part. Behind the rear
Soon from the left th' Athenians, from the right
The Spartans file. Their stations they exchange,
Not by Mardonius unperceiv'd. He moves
His Medes and Persians to the post of Thebes,
Whence still the Spartan phalanx they confront,
The Thebans still th' Athenian. This observ'd,
Pausanias swift to Aristides sends
Strict charge his old position to resume.


Now indignation high through all the tribes
Of Athens rages. Noble pride, and sense
Of just desert, in exclamation fierce
Break from th' exalted populace, who claim
Their soil for parent. Gods! from wing to wing
Must we like servile mercenary bands,
Like Helots, slaves to Lacedæmon born,
Be hurry'd thus obsequious to controul
From an imperious Spartan? Tegea first
Contested our prerogative. The pride
Of Sparta next removes us from the post,
Assign'd by public judgment; we comply.
Must we at her contemptuous nod resume
The station we forsook? Defending Greece,
Ourselves meanwhile deserted and betray'd,
Twice have we lost our city. What is left
Of our abandon'd residence, but dust?
Let Greece defend herself. Let us remove
For the last time our standards, hoist our sails,
Our floating empire fix on distant shores,
Our household gods, our progeny, and name,
On some new soil establish, sure to find
None so ingrate as this. The Athenians thus
Swell with ingenuous ire, as ocean boils,
Disturb'd by Eurus, and the rude career
Of Boreas, threat'ning furious to surmount
All circumscription. But as oft a cloud,
Distilling gentle moisture as it glides,
Dissolves the rigour of their boist'rous wings,
Till o'er the main serenity returns;
So from the mouth of Aristides fall
Composing words. Insensibly he sooths
Their justly-irritated minds, and calms
Their just resentment. Righteousness and truth,
How prevalent your efforts, when apply'd
By placid wisdom! In these strains he spake:


Ye men of Athens, at Laconia's call
To meet the flow'r of Asia's host in fight
Do ye repine? A station, which implies
Pre-eminence of Attic worth, a task
Of all most glorious, which the martial race
Of Sparta shuns, and you should covet most,
Ye Marathonian victors? In the sight
Of Greece, who trembles at a Median garb,
You are preferr'd for valour. Arms the same,
The same embroider'd vestment on their limbs
Effeminate, the same unmanly souls,
Debas'd by vices and monarchal rule,
The Medes retain, as when their vanquish'd ranks
Fled heretofore. With weapons often try'd,
With confidence by victories increas'd,
Not now for liberty and Greece alone
You march to battle; but to keep unspoil'd
Your trophies won already, and the name,
Which Marathon and Salamis have rais'd,
Preserve unstain'd; that men may ever say,
Not through your leaders, not by fortune there
You triumph'd, but by fortitude innate,
And lib'ral vigour of Athenian blood.


He said and march'd. All follow mute through love
Of Aristides, inexpressive love,
Which melts each bosom. Solemn they proceed,
Though lion-like in courage, at his call
Meek and obedient, as the fleecy breed
To wonted notes of Pan's conducting pipe.


Arriv'd, disbanded, in their sep'rate tents
Cecropia's tribes exhaust a tedious night,
Unvisited by sleep. The morning breaks;
Instead of joy to gratulate her light
The tone of sadness from dejected hearts,
Combining sighs and groans in murmur deep,
Alarms the leader. Aristides, shew
Thy countenance amongst us, hasty spake
The warrior-poet ent'ring: All thy camp
Enthusiastic sorrow hath o'erwhelm'd,
And ev'ry heart unbrac'd. By earliest dawn
Each left his restless couch. Their first discourse
Was calm, and fill'd with narratives distinct
Of thy accomplishments, and worth. At length
A soldier thus in agitation spake:
'Yet, O most excellent of Gods! O Jove!
'This is the man, we banish'd! In thy sight
'The most excelling man, whose sole offence
'Was all-transcending merit, from his home
'Our impious votes expell'd, by envy's spight
'Seduc'd. We drove him fugitive through Greece;
'Where still he held ungrateful Athens dear,
'For whose redemption from her sloth he rous'd
'All Greece to arms.' The soldier clos'd in floods
Of anguish. Instant through the concourse ran
Contagious grief; as if the fiend Despair,
From his black chariot, wheeling o'er their heads
In clouds of darkness, dropp'd his pois'nous dews
Of melancholy down to chill the blood,
Unnerve the limbs, and fortitude dissolve.
Speed, Aristides. By th' immortal pow'rs!
The feeblest troop of Persians in this hour
Might overcome the tame, desponding force
Of thy dear country, mistress long confess'd
Of eloquence and arts, of virtue now
Through thy unerring guidance. Here the sage:


With-hold thy praise, good Æschylus-Be swift,
Arrange my fellow citizens in arms
Beneath each ensign of the sev'ral tribes.
I will appear a comforter, a friend,
Their public servant. Æschylus withdraws.


Soon Aristides, in his armour new,
Timothea's gift, advances from his tent.
Should from his throne th' Omnipotent descend
In visitation of the human race,
While dreading his displeasure; as to earth
All heads would bend in reverential awe,
Contrite and conscious of their own misdeeds;
So look th' Athenians, though in all the pomp
Of Mars array'd, and terrible to half
The world in battle. Down their corslets bright
Tears trickle, tears of penitence and shame,
To see their injur'd patriot chief assume
In goodness heav'n's whole semblance, as he moves
Observant by, and through the weeping ranks
From man to man his lib'ral hand extends,
Consoling. No resentment he could shew,
Who none had felt. Ascending now on high,
He thus address'd the penitential throng.


Rate not too high my merit, nor too low
Your own depreciate. Error is the lot
Of man; but lovely in the eye of heav'n
Is sense of error. Better will you sight,
As better men from these auspicious tears,
Which evidence your worth, and please the gods.
With strength and valour, equity of mind
Uniting doubles fortitude. Your wives,
Your progeny and parents, laws and rites,
Were ne'er so well secur'd. The warlike bard
Rose next: Requested by the sev'ral tribes,
In their behalf I promise to thy rule
All acquiescence. Bid them fight, retreat,
Maintain, or yield a station; bid them face
Innumerable foes, surmount a foss
Deep as the sea, or bulwarks high as rocks;
Subordination, vigilance, contempt
Of toil and death, thy dictates shall command.


Th' Oïlean hero, Timon, and the seed
Of Lygdamis, are present, who encamp'd
Among th' Athenians. They admire the chief,
Nor less the people. While the term of morn
Was passing thus, a summons to his tent
Calls Aristides. Aemnestus there
Salutes him: Attic friend, a new event
In Sparta's quarter is to thee unknown;
From me accept th' intelligence. The sun
Was newly ris'n, when o'er th' Asopian flood
An Eastern herald pass'd. Bèhind him tow'r'd
A giant-siz'd Barbarian. He approach'd
Our camp; before Pausanias brought, he spake:


'I am Briareus, of Mardonian guards
'Commander. Through my delegated mouth
'Thus saith the son of Gobryas: I have heard
'Among the Greeks your prowess vaunted high,
'Ye men of Sparta, that in martial ranks
'You either kill, or perish; but I find,
'Fame is a liar. I expected long,
'You would defy me on the field of war.
'Have I not seen you shift from wing to wing,
'The task imposing on th' Athenians twice
'To face the Medes and Persians; while yourselves
'Sought with our servants to contend in arms,
'Ye brave in name alone! Since you decline
'To challenge us, we, prime of eastern blood,
'With equal numbers challenge you to prove,
'That you possess, what rumour hath proclaim'd,
'The boldest hearts in Greece. Acknowledge else
'Your boasted valour bury'd in the grave
'With your Leonidas, o'erthrown and slain.'


Pausanias gave no answer, not through fear,
But humour torpid and morose, which wrapp'd
In clouds of scorn his brow. Consulting none,
With silent pride the giant he dismiss'd.
The challenger, in triumph turning back,
Repass'd the river. Aemnestus paus'd;
A second messenger appear'd. Behold,
In blooming vigour, flush'd by rapid haste,
Young Menalippus, from the rev'rend seer
Megistias sprung. Athenian chief, he said,
Bring down thy active, missile-weapon'd troops;
On their immediate help Pausanias calls.
A cloud of hostile cavalry invests
Laconia's quarter. Javelins, arrows, darts,
In sheets discharg'd, have choak'd our last resource,
Gargaphia's fountain, and our heavy bands
Perplex and harrass. Aristides hears,
And issues swift his orders, while the youth
Continues thus: Thou knew'st of old my sire,
Who at Thermopylæ expir'd. The just
Consort together. Aristides thus:


Ingenuous youth, for Greece thy father bled
A spotless victim, but for ever lives
Companion with Leonidas in fame.
By heav'n protected, thou shalt live to see
Their death aton'd; the period is not far.
Come on; my force is ready. Medon arms
With Haliartus, once the shepherd-swain
In Oeta's pass to Menalippus known,
Whom both embrace with gratulation kind.


All march, but reach not Sparta's distant wing,
Before the Persians, sated with success,
Fil'd back to join Mardonius. Secret he
Was communing with Mirzes, most renown'd
Among the Magi. Thus the satrap clos'd:


Through each occurrence undisguis'd, O sage!
My circumstantial narrative hath run,
From where I enter'd first Trophonian ground,
Till my descent and vision in the cave.
Speak frankly, Mirzes-nor believe thy words,
Whatever black presages they contain,
Subjoin'd to all Trophonius hath foretold,
Can change my firm resolves, or blunt my sword.


Solicitude for Persia to excess
Misled thee, satrap, to that graven god,
Rejoins the Magus, where, if ought besides
The craft of Grecian, mercenary priests,
It was the demon Arimanius rul'd.
He long hath prompted that Elean seer,
Who blunts thy sword by divination false.
What thou dost vision call was empty dream;
Imagination heated, and disturb'd,
A texture wild and various, intermix'd
With ill-match'd images of things, which last
Oppress'd thy mind. Thy own distemper fram'd
Th' unreal grot, where Destinies of air
In apparition cut thy vital thread;
Their act was thine, the oracle thy own,
All vague creation of thy erring sleep.


Briareus enters. At his tidings glad,
Which ostentation sounded, thus exults
Mardonius: Sayst thou, Lacedæmon's chief
Was mute, when my defiance shook his ear?
Hence to the winds, ye auguries and signs!
Ye dreams and mysteries of Greece, avaunt!
Thou, Horomazes, not in marble fanes,
Nor woods oracular, and caves, dost dwell.
It is the pow'r of evil there misguides
Insensate mortals, and misguided me.
O, Artemisia! now shall Gobryas' son
Look only, where no mystery can lurk,
On ev'ry manly duty. Nothing dark
The tracks of honour shades. To chiefs select,
Greek and Barbarian summon'd, he reveals
His fix'd resolves in council. They disperse
To execute his will. Among the rest
Young Alexander, Macedonia's lord,
Speeds to his quarters in the solemn bow'r
Of Dircè. There Mardonius had decreed
A cenotaph of marble, newly-rais'd
To his deplor'd Masistius. There the queen
Of Macedon, Phoebean Timon's child,
Bright Amarantha, like an ev'ning bird,
Whose trill delights a melancholy grove,
Oft with harmonious skill in Delphian strains,
Th' ingenuous practice of her maiden days,
Sung of her father, and Masistius good,
That friend, that known protector. She her lute
Was now in cadence with Dircæan rills
Attuning. Vocal melody she breath'd,
Which at another season might have won
Her lord from sadness. Sighing, he her song
Thus interrupts: Ah! consort dear, as fair,
I come from Persia's council; where the son
Of Gobryas, urg'd by fear of sudden want
Through his wide host, nor animated less
By Spartan silence at the challenge proud
His herald bore, determines to reject
The augur's warnings. O'er the stream he means
To lead th' embattled nations, and surprise
Ere dawn, at least assail the camp of Greece
In ev'ry station. If she quits her lines,
Then will his num'rous cavalry surround
Her heavy phalanx on the level space.
O that my ancestor had never left
His Grecian home in Argos, nor acquir'd
Emathia's crown! I never then compell'd,
Had borne reluctant arms against a race
By friendship link'd, affinity, and blood,
With me and mine. What horror! cries the queen,
While fear surmises, that my husband's sword
May blindly cut my father's vital thread.
But not alone such parricide to shun
Should wake thy efforts. Alexander, no;
Thou must do more. Our mutual words recall,
When thou to Athens by Mardonius sent
Didst from thy fruitless ambassy rejoin
Me in Trachiniæ; whence the Barb'rous chief
Renew'd his march to lay Cecropian domes
In fresh destruction. 'What a lot is mine,
'Thou saidst? If Xerxes triumph, I become
'A slave in purple. Should the Greeks prevail,
'Should that Euboean conqueror, the son
'Of Neocles be sent th' Athenian scourge….


I interrupted thus: 'Awhile, dear lord,
'We must submit to wear the galling mask,
'Necessity imposes. New events
'Are daily scatter'd by the restless palm
'Of fortune. Some will prove propitious. Wise,
'To all benignant, Aristides serv'd
'By us in season will befriend our state.'


Behold that season come; let Grecian blood,
Which warms thy veins, inspire thy prudent tongue
This night th' Athenian hero to apprise
Of all these tidings. Thus secure the Greeks
Against surprisal; timely thus oblige
The first of men, and magnify thy name
In Greece for ages. Here the youthful king:


Though by oppressive Xerxes forc'd to war,
Shall I abuse the confidence repos'd
By great Mardonius, qualify'd to win
Regard at first, which intercourse augments?
I will do all by honour's rules allow'd,
Will act a neutral part, withdraw my troops,
Ev'n at the hazard of my crown and life,
If such my queen's injunction. Ah! forbear
To frown; what means this flushing of thy cheek?
Must I betray Mardonius to his foes?


She spake abrupt; he started at her look:
If forc'd obedience to a tyrant binds,
If more, than I, Mardonius holds thy heart,
Who has thy dearest confidence abus'd,
Thou wilt discredit my accusing tongue.
Could from this empty monument the shade
Of just Masistius rise, his awful voice
Would verify a story, till this hour
From thee conceal'd. My virgin hand in blood
Of one Barbarian miscreant once I stain'd;
Not to pollute my hymeneal state,
Nor lay Mardonius gasping at my feet
Like Mithridates in the streets of Thebes,
This hateful camp for Delphi I forsook,
Fled from a lawless and presumptuous flame,
Insulting me, thy queen, who boast descent
From holy Timon. While for his behoof
Collecting Greeks against their country's cause,
Thyself was absent, and Mardonius left
My only guardian; scorning every tie,
His daring importunity of love
Assail'd thy consort's ear. What hope, what trust
In such Barbarians? All their faith expir'd
With good Masistius. Should the Greeks be foil'd,
How long will Macedon thy realm, how long
Will Amarantha be securely held
Against a satrap, whose ungovern'd will
May covet both? Of this, O prince, be sure,
Her part of shame will Amarantha bear
But brief shall be its date. The poniard still,
Which once preserv'd my honour, I possess
To cut my period of dishonour short.


The prince impatient, yet attentive, heard
Her words; when thus the measure of his wrath
From his full bosom rapidly o'erflow'd.


O impious breach of hospitable ties!
O violation base of rights and laws,
Exacting swift revenge from heav'n and man,
From me the first! Unparallel'd in form,
O like the sister of thy Delphian god
Immaculate! Did sacrilegious hands
This pure abode of chastity assail
With profanation? Less a friend to Greece,
Than foe to false Mardonius, now I go.


He said, and order'd forth his swiftest steed.
By moon-light, twinkling on a shaded track,
He urg'd his secret way beyond the springs
Asopian; whence an outlet short and close
Through mount Cithæron to th' adjacent line
Of Aristides led. Meantime the sound
Of steps advancing Amarantha heard;
She heard, and saw Mardonius. He his pace
Stopp'd short, inclining with obeisance low
His stately frame. Through terror and amaze
To earth she rigid grew, of pow'r to fly
Depriv'd. He distant spake: Imperial dame,
That he offended once, Mardonius makes
A penitent confession. O! that fault
To no innate discourtesy impute,
But Eastern manners, not as Grecian pure;
The ignorance which err'd, by thee is chang'd
To veneration. From my presence here,
Which ne'er before intruded on this seat
Of thy retirement, do not too severe
A new offence interpret; rest assur'd,
A solemn cause impels. He silent waits,
Nor moves; till, gliding silently away,
Like Dian fair and chaste, but less severe,
The queen withdrew, and tow'rds a gallant chief,
Perhaps by her devices near his fall,
Thus far relented; for the private wrong
The frank atonement rais'd a generous sigh;
Against the public enemy of Greece,
Unquenchable she burn'd. Now left alone,
Before the cenotaph he kneel'd and spake:


To-morrow, O! to-morrow let my helm
Blaze in thy beams auspicious, spirit bright,
Whose name adorns this honorary tomb!
The weight of Asia's mighty weal, the weight
Of fifty myriads on thy friend augments
From hour to hour. Yet purg'd of gloomy thoughts,
Clear of ambition, save to win the palm
Of victory for Xerxes, I approach
Thy suppliant. Thou an intercessor pure
For me, deceiv'd by Grecian seers and gods,
Before the throne of Horomazes stand,
That he may bless my standards, if alone
To guard so many worshippers, and spread
By their success his celebrated name
Through each Hesperian clime. Now grant a sign,
Masistius, ere thy faithful friend depart,
Fix'd, as he is, to vanquish, or to fall.


He ceas'd. Quick rapture dims his cheated eyes.
He sees in thought a canopy of light,
Descending o'er the tomb. In joy he speeds
To preparation for the destin'd march.

End of the Twenty-eighth Book

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It Was Never Contemplated

When old ADAM bit the apple,
And thereafter had to grapple
With hard toil to earn his daily bread by sweat,
There's no doubt that he protested
That his 'rights' had been molested,
And he's probably protesting strongly yet:
'When this garden was created
It was never contemplated
It was never in the schedule or the plan
'Twasn't even dimly hinted
That my living would be stinted,
Or that Work would ever be the lot of man.'

But in spite of protestation
ADAM, with his lone relation,
Was evicted in an arbitrary way,
Even though that resolution
Wasn't in the Constitution,
And his children have been grafting to this day.
But poor ADAM'S old contention
Has become a stock convention
'Mid the ADAMS of the nations ever since,
'Mid the shufflers and the shirkers,
Crusted Tory anti-workers,
They whom nought but 'precedent' can e'er convince.

They're the ADAMS of the race; they're the men that clog the pace,
With their backs upon the vanguard and their eyes upon the rear;
Praising loud their point of view, and regarding owt that's new
With a rabid Tory hatred and a vague old-fashioned fear.
They're the men of yester-year loitering all needless here,
And meandering around and 'round in aimless, endless rings.
Ever ready to resent acts without a precedent,
Such as were not contemplated in the ancient scheme of things.
'O, it was not contemplated!'
'Tis the cry of the belated,
The complaint of all the Old Worlds waterlogged;
Tis the trade-mark of the Tory;
'Tis the declaration hoary;
'Tis the protest of the busted and the bogged.
Mark, whenever it is uttered
By the lips of ancients muttered,
There is wisdom lacking here, at any rate
For, when Tories were created
It was never contemplated
That they ever would attempt to contemplate.

There are many things decided,
Quite by precedent unguided.
It was never contemplated, by the way.
When the scheme of things was shaping,
And mankind emerged from aping,
That he'd ever learn to eat three times a day;
Yet, all precedent unheeding,
Even Tories time their feeding,
And are known to be quite regular at meals;
Though in neolithic ages
'Twas laid down by ancient sages
That a man shall eat when so inclined he feels.

He's the dead weight at the back; he's the log upon the track;
He's the man who shouts the warning when the danger's past and gone;
He's the prophet of the old by defunct traditions hold;
He's the chap who sits and twaddles while the crowd goes marching on.
Of the things uncontemplated in the councils of the dead;
But the nation marches by heedless of his bitter cry
Marches on and contemplates the vital things away ahead.

In the shaping of a nation
Can we crowd all contemplation
Can we plan it in a hurried week or so?
Cease your ancient whiskered story
And observe, O gentle Tory,
We are contemplating matters as we go.
E'en to-day we're contemplating
Matters princip'ly relating
To the shaping of to-morrow's onward way;
And to-morrow ev'ry grafter
Will be forming plans for after;
But we are not harking back to yesterday.

For the future days arranging;
Seeking, planning, ever changing;
Weeding out the old mistakes of yester-year;
Planting now the seed of new things
March the men who dare and do things,
Opening up the unblazed road without a fear.
And, O mark you, gentle Tory,
We shall judge your measures hoary
By the use in this day's scheme they represent;
We shall use them if we want them;
If we don't we shall supplant them,
For we do not care a damn for precedent.

He's discretion at its worst; he a harbinger reversed;
He's the obstinate old party who abhors the new and strange.
He's the man whose ancient eyes ever fail to recognise
That the Law of Man was ever Change, and ever will be Change.
He's a scoffer at the Law; he's a blemish and a flaw;
And he whines as did old ADAM when he lost the realms of bliss.
When they shored him in the cold in the parlous days of old:
'THIS WAS NEVER CONTEMPLATED! YOU'VE NO PRECEDENT FOR THIS!'

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An Ode to the Heart of Man

An Ode to the Heart of Man
by Alex Lewis

An ode to the heart of man:
Man has lost the goodness in his soul.
It means nothing: yes we can.
The earth does cringe as overflows the badness in the bowl.
We had helped others before,
But now we greed and care for none other than our own.
Oh, man! You are whom I had adore.
Evil corrupts the good heart of man. I have been shown.
Help your brother and your brother will help thee,
But you ignore me. Help yourself and you'll help nobody.
An ode to the heart of man that's been destroyed by we,
The ones who have abandoned peace and hope. Help me to help thee.
I plead for you, but you have cut out my heart!
For what? What do you show for your murder?
Nothing! Man is SO evil. You can see it sans chart!
Yet, we create false hope and false light.
The day of GOOD WILL HATH SUNK into night.
I pity you. You haven't even made a fight.
You have all accepted the killing of man.
An ode to his heart that ended once it began.

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The Brotherhood of Man

In that land somewhere of our dreams
all is to be found right therein it seems
where there isn't a struggle for survival
as the brotherhood of man is in revival.

We help each other and have no real fear
our hope is occasioned with good cheer.
Whatever we think, do or therefore say
is imbued with love and lights the way.

We have all arrived at that promised land
and must work together as a united band;
giving and sharing of the good we all can
while upholding this brotherhood of man.

Non-violence is one of the rules we live by
the essence of love we maintain and glorify.
We all live as one in both our heart and mind
and express those feelings of a universal kind.

There are no problems that we can't resolve
as all our life around love does here revolve.
In living by the truth we are becoming free
and in this condition enjoy the grace to see

All that exists in the world can be seen as new
which is an affirmation of scripture and so true.
Our life now is filled with bliss as it once began
in this state of knowing the brotherhood of man.

We do not therefore seek to get the better of each other
but accomplish all that we need by helping one another.
Being free from any unnatural cares our lives are whole
and all that ever happens a joyful experience of the soul.

Awake to intuition we live to realize our ultimate potential
and so everything bears the stamp of some divine credential.
In being as we are then our years extend for a long span
as we all live in accordance with the brotherhood of man.


_________________________________ __________

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Tom Zart Poem = THE DISTORTION OF MAN & THE FIRST ONE TO LOVE ME

THE DISTORTION OF MAN & THE FIRST ONE TO LOVE ME

We're sought by Satan of that I'm sure
As he plots to derail our soul.
Greed, hate, lust, anger and fear
Are deeds which facilitate his goal.

He smiles at lies, cheating and theft
He laughs at never-ending war.
He drools to conquer the hearts of man
Shadowing every window and door.

Tempting all with unclean pleasures
His success is weakness and desire.
We triumph only through the power of faith
Avoiding eternal torment and fire.

Goodness and evil illustrate life
Like the two sides of every coin.
Most can't help but experience both
As we learn who to trust, follow and join.

Praise our Lord for morals and ethics
The laws of Heavenly command.
Without God's armor and His grace
We become the distortion of man.

THE RIVER OF NO RETURN

Beware of the streams of evil
Feeding the river of no return.
Where whatever gives us pleasure
Is our only worry and concern.

True happiness results from blessings
Handed down from Heaven to earth.
God seems to smile on people in love
Who have chosen to share their worth.

Three types of humans occupy earth
The bad, the not so bad and the horrible.
Somewhere in-between, most us are
And our babies are most adorable.

Far to many become disappointing
Mimicking adults as they stretch and grow.
Lost somewhere in self-indulgence
In a world they have yet to know.

Thanks to faith and spiritual teachings
Multitudes follow the path of grace.
The righteous are the hope of man
As we journey the dangers of space.

Reject what is selfish; cruel and unkind
Steer clear of evil deeds without fear.
Listen to the voice of God in man
And you'll remain more civilized and clear.

THE FIRST ONE TO LOVE ME

The first one to love me was You; Lord
And nothing can take that away.
My soul is refreshed by living water
While my heart flows with love each day.

I thank You for the love of my family
And I thank You for the love of my life.
I thank You for all of the blessings
You give to each husband and wife.

Your glory rides high on the sunsets
Your voice is the thunder of rain.
I thank You for all of the heavens
And Jesus who came to be slain.

I feel when Your eyes are upon me
As You listen to my humble cry,
You've redeemed the soul of Your servant
To dwell in Your mansion on high.

I'll claim each and every promise
From the Lord of the earth and sky.
I'm so glad I'm free from my bondage
Of the grave where my body shall lie.

I thank You for parting the darkness
And guiding my footsteps each day.
I thank You for being my shepherd
You've walked with me all the way.

I know Your armor protects me
From the devil in search of his feast.
And all who are lost without You
Shall dwell in hell with the beast!

FAITH

So perfect is nature, though not by man
It's the brush of our Master that paints the land.
The sun comes up and sun goes down
As in every direction God's wonders are found.

The tide comes in and the tide goes out
Our faith in eternalness is what life is about.
Contentment depends on which path we walk
By daylight or darkness; our faith is our rock.

Our confidence and trust in a higher power
Helps guide us through every moment and hour.
Fidelity to ones promise and observance of law
Lets our Lord know we heed His call.

Life has its blessings, heartbreak and consequences
By our foolish misdeeds we learn right from wrong.
Once we're blessed by the power of God's will
We worship Him by prayer, actions, servitude and song.

Becoming better is all about growing, learning and improving
By the more we serve and connect to God's Will.
We expand our horizons for trust, wisdom and thought
Allowing us to improve, provide, protect, love and fulfill!


Tom Zart's 458 Poems Are Free To Share To Teach Or Show Support!
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The Dream of Man

To the eye and the ear of the Dreamer
This Dream out of darkness flew,
Through the horn or the ivory portal,
But he wist not which of the two.

It was the Human Spirit,
Of all men's souls the Soul,
Man the unwearied climber,
That climbed to the unknown goal.
And up the steps of the ages,
The difficult steep ascent,
Man the unwearied climber
Pauseless and dauntless went.
Æons rolled behind him
With thunder of far retreat,
And still as he strove he conquered
And laid his foes at his feet.
Inimical powers of nature,
Tempest and flood and fire,
The spleen of fickle seasons
That loved to baulk his desire,
The breath of hostile climates,
The ravage of blight and dearth,
The old unrest that vexes
The heart of the moody earth,
The genii swift and radiant
Sabreing heaven with flame,
He, with a keener weapon,
The sword of his wit, overcame.
Disease and her ravening offspring,
Pain with the thousand teeth,
He drave into night primeval,
The nethermost worlds beneath,
Till the Lord of Death, the undying,
Ev'n Asraël the King,
No more with Furies for heralds
Came armed with scourge and sting,
But gentle of voice and of visage,
By calm Age ushered and led,
A guest, serenely featured,
Entering, woke no dread.
And, as the rolling æons
Retreated with pomp of sound,
Man's spirit, grown too lordly
For this mean orb to bound,
By arts in his youth undreamed of
His terrene fetters broke,
With enterprise ethereal
Spurning the natal yoke,
And, stung with divine ambition,
And fired with a glorious greed,
He annexed the stars and the planets
And peopled them with his seed.

Then said he, 'The infinite Scripture
I have read and interpreted clear,
And searching all worlds I have found not
My sovereign or my peer.
In what room of the palace of nature
Resides the invisible God?
For all her doors I have opened,
And all her floors I have trod.
If greater than I be her tenant,
Let him answer my challenging call:
Till then I admit no rival,
But crown myself master of all.'
And forth as that word went bruited,
By Man unto Man were raised
Fanes of devout self-homage,
Where he who praised was the praised;
And from vast unto vast of creation
The new evangel ran,
And an odour of world-wide incense
Went up from Man unto Man;
Until, on a solemn feast-day,
When the world's usurping lord
At a million impious altars
His own proud image adored,
God spake as He stept from His ambush:
'O great in thine own conceit,
I will show thee thy source, how humble,
Thy goal, for a god how unmeet.'

Thereat, by the word of the Maker
The Spirit of Man was led
To a mighty peak of vision,
Where God to His creature said:
'Look eastward toward time's sunrise.'
And, age upon age untold,
The Spirit of Man saw clearly
The Past as a chart out-rolled,-
Beheld his base beginnings
In the depths of time, and his strife,
With beasts and crawling horrors
For leave to live, when life
Meant but to slay and to procreate,
To feed and to sleep, among
Mere mouths, voracities boundless,
Blind lusts, desires without tongue,
And ferocities vast, fulfilling
Their being's malignant law,
While nature was one hunger,
And one hate, all fangs and maw.

With that, for a single moment,
Abashed at his own descent,
In humbleness Man's Spirit
At the feet of the Maker bent;
But, swifter than light, he recovered
The stature and pose of his pride,
And, 'Think not thus to shame me
With my mean birth,' he cried.
'This is my loftiest greatness,
To have been born so low;
Greater than Thou the ungrowing
Am I that for ever grow.'
And God forbore to rebuke him,
But answered brief and stern,
Bidding him toward time's sunset
His vision westward turn;
And the Spirit of Man obeying
Beheld as a chart out-rolled
The likeness and form of the Future,
Age upon age untold;
Beheld his own meridian,
And beheld his dark decline,
His secular fall to nadir
From summits of light divine,
Till at last, amid worlds exhausted,
And bankrupt of force and fire,
'Twas his, in a torrent of darkness,
Like a sputtering lamp to expire.

Then a war of shame and anger
Did the realm of his soul divide;
''Tis false, 'tis a lying vision,'
In the face of his God he cried.
'Thou thinkest to daunt me with shadows;
Not such as Thou feign'st is my doom:
From glory to rise unto glory
Is mine, who have risen from gloom.
I doubt if Thou knew'st at my making
How near to thy throne I should climb,
O'er the mountainous slopes of the ages
And the conquered peaks of time.
Nor shall I look backward nor rest me
Till the uttermost heights I have trod,
And am equalled with Thee or above Thee,
The mate or the master of God.'

Ev'n thus Man turned from the Maker,
With thundered defiance wild,
And God with a terrible silence
Reproved the speech of His child.
And man returned to his labours,
And stiffened the neck of his will;
And the æons still went rolling,
And his power was crescent still.
But yet there remained to conquer
One foe, and the greatest-although
Despoiled of his ancient terrors,
At heart, as of old, a foe-
Unmaker of all, and renewer,
Who winnows the world with his wing,
The Lord of Death, the undying,
Ev'n Asraël the King.

And lo, Man mustered his forces
The war of wars to wage,
And with storm and thunder of onset
Did the foe of foes engage,
And the Lord of Death, the undying,
Was beset and harried sore,
In his immemorial fastness
At night's aboriginal core.
And during years a thousand
Man leaguered his enemy's hold,
While nature was one deep tremor,
And the heart of the world waxed cold,
Till the phantom battlements wavered,
And the ghostly fortress fell,
And Man with shadowy fetters
Bound fast great Asraël.

So, to each star in the heavens,
The exultant word was blown,
The annunciation tremendous,

Death is overthrown!

And Space in her ultimate borders
Prolonging the jubilant tone,
With hollow ingeminations,
Sighed,
Death is overthrown!

And God in His house of silence,
Where He dwelleth aloof, alone,
Paused in His tasks to hearken:

Death is overthrown!


Then a solemn and high thanksgiving
By Man unto Man was sung,
In his temples of self-adoration,
With his own multitudinous tongue;
And he said to his Soul: 'Rejoice thou
For thy last great foe lies bound,
Ev'n Asraël the Unmaker,
Unmade, disarmed, discrowned.'

And behold, his Soul rejoiced not,
The breath of whose being was strife,
For life with nothing to vanquish
Seemed but the shadow of life.
No goal invited and promised
And divinely provocative shone;
And Fear having fled, her sister,
Blest Hope, in her train was gone;
And the coping and crown of achievement
Was hell than defeat more dire-
The torment of all-things-compassed,
The plague of nought-to-desire;
And Man the invincible queller,
Man with his foot on his foes,
In boundless satiety hungred,
Restless from utter repose,
Victor of nature, victor
Of the prince of the powers of the air,
By mighty weariness vanquished,
And crowned with august despair.

Then, at his dreadful zenith,
He cried unto God: 'O Thou
Whom of old in my days of striving
Methought I needed not,-now,
In this my abject glory,
My hopeless and helpless might,
Hearken and cheer and succour!'
And God from His lonely height,
From eternity's passionless summits,
On suppliant Man looked down,
And His brow waxed human with pity,
Belying its awful crown.
'Thy richest possession,' He answered,
'Blest Hope, will I restore,
And the infinite wealth of weakness
Which was thy strength of yore;
And I will arouse from slumber,
In his hold where bound he lies,
Thine enemy most benefic;-
O Asraël, hear and rise!'

And a sound like the heart of nature
Riven and cloven and torn,
Announced, to the ear universal,
Undying Death new-born.
Sublime he rose in his fetters,
And shook the chains aside
Ev'n as some mortal sleeper
'Mid forests in autumntide
Rises and shakes off lightly
The leaves that lightly fell
On his limbs and his hair unheeded
While as yet he slumbered well.

And Deity paused and hearkened,
Then turned to the undivine,
Saying, 'O Man, My creature,
Thy lot was more blest than Mine.
I taste not delight of seeking,
Nor the boon of longing know.
There is but one joy transcendent,
And I hoard it not but bestow.
I hoard it not nor have tasted,
But freely I gave it to thee-
The joy of most glorious striving,
Which dieth in victory.'
Thus, to the Soul of the Dreamer,
This Dream out of darkness flew,
Through the horn or the ivory portal,
But he wist not which of the two.

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The Hand In The Dark

How calm the spangled city spread below!
How cool the night! How fair the starry skies!
How sweet the dewy breezes! But I know
What, under all their seeming beauty, lies.

That million-fibred heart, alive, is wrung
With every grief that human creatures fear.
Could its dumb anguish find a fitting tongue
The very dead within their graves would hear.

It calls me from my rest, that voiceless wail
Of Lazarus at the gate — my kith and kin
Whose cruise and cake, and staff and beacon, fail —
The famished crowd, that cannot enter in.

How can I take my ease amid this pain,
These pangs, these tears, these crimes, that never cease?
While homeless children cry for bread in vain
How can I eat? How can I sleep in peace?

Poor comrades of the fight, that have no place!
Brothers and sisters, born to want and wrong.
Born weak and maimed, to run a hopeless race,
Lost at the start, against the hale and strong!

Poor scapegoats of the wilderness, that fast
For those who feast! And, ah, poor feasters too!
They also thirst and hunger at the last.
And this is Life — and all the Race can do.

Vain, vain the listening ear, the questioning gaze.
Shoreless, unplumbed, the ether-ocean lies
Above these roofs, beyond the smoke and haze —
The Infinite — alive with watching eyes.

To see our orb of sorrow whirling there —
The tiny swarm of struggling things, that curse
Their subject province, and yet calmly dare
To claim the kingship of the Universe.
Dread cloud of witnesses to earth's disgrace!
Earth is my trust — I am afraid to look
Those still and stern accusers in the face,
And haste to hide in my familiar nook.

My little nook — where is it? Have I none?
I grow confused betwixt the sea and shore.
I had some lamps to guide me — one by one
They flashed and failed, and now I have no more.

Where am I? Oh, where am I? I can feel —
To feel my torment — but I cannot see,
I cannot hear. My brain begins to reel,
My heart to faint. Almighty, speak to me!

Help me! Or, in Thy pity, take me hence
While feeling heart and thinking brain are whole,
Or give me any rag of carnal sense,
So it suffice to wrap my naked soul!

* * * * *
No word. No sign. Yet something in the air
Soothes, like a cool hand on a fevered brow.
Replenished, from the ashes of despair
I rise renewed. Belovèd, where art thou?

She sleeps. She stirs. She hears the lightest fall
Of foot familiar with her chamber floor.
Her spirit answers to my spirit's call:
Come home! Come home! And I am saved once more.

Bringing no leaf of hope, alone and late,
Spent and wing-weary, famished for a crumb,
The wandering dove heads back to nest and mate.
My Love and Comforter, I come! I come!

Here is the welcome threshold of my ark,
My island-home amid the trackless flood.
Her hand shuts out the Silence and the Dark;
Her pulse thrills life into my fainting blood.

She draws me down upon that couch of bliss,
Her faithful arms, her tender mother-breast;
I clasp her close, those sweetest lips I kiss,
And, at long last, I have my hour of rest.

* * * * *
Thou, too, my love, hast wandered far and wide,
And hast come home, where all thy wanderings cease.
The door is shut. Thy mate is at thy side.
Here is thy long-sought pillow. Sleep in peace.

Heed not the patter of the weeping eaves,
The groan of branches bending to the rain,
The sad tap-tapping of dead autumn leaves,
Like ghostly fingers, on the window-pane.
The wind-borne echoings, from east and west,
Of weeping woe and wailing agony;
All night they cry round thy beleaguered nest,
But fear them not, for thou art safe with me.

Let the sad world spin on, a trail of shame
Amongst the myriad worlds. Whate'er befalls,
The great God knows that we are not to blame.
Our world is here, within our chamber walls.

In this asylum, secret and apart,
Whereof we keep the one and only key,
Rest thee, poor tired heart, upon my heart,
As all my weary being rests in thee.

Good-night! Good-night! Sleep deep and well, my bride.
The fight goes on, but we have won release.
Our wounds are healed, our tears are shed and dried.
Let the storms rage — they cannot break our peace.

* * * * *
Peace — is it peace? What is that form of fear
That looms ahead? What distillation sours
The joy of life when thou, alive, art near,
And nought seems wanting to the perfect hours?

What chills my passion when I love thee most,
And dims my eyes, and veils thy face, and slips,
An unseen shadow, like a creeping ghost,
Betwixt my hungering kisses and thy lips?

What, amid richest plenty, starves me thus?
What is it steals my soul's content, and thine —
That sits a guest at marriage-feast with us,
And mixes poison with the food and wine?

* * * * *
A vision comes. A graveyard, all alone,
A small green mound, a withered funeral wreath;
Love's last drear symbol of a graven stone,
And Life and I but worthless dust beneath.

There weep the dews, and winds of winter blow;
The soft breeze rustles in the bending grass;
The cold rain falls there, and the drifting snow.
But tears fall not, nor lover's footsteps pass.

Bees hum all day amid the young spring leaves;
The rooks call loudly from the elm-tree bough;
The sparrows twitter in the old church eaves;
But no voice cries for me, or calls me, now.

Bright beams of morning compass me about;
The stars shine o'er me, and the pale moonlight;
But I, that lit and warmed thee, am gone out
Like a burnt candle, in eternal night.

Earth to the earth upon this churchyard slope,
Ashes to ashes, nothing to the nought;
No tryst between us, and no star of hope
To light the path so passionately sought.

And still the sands between thy fingers run —
Desires, delights, ambitions, days and years,
Rich hours of life for thee, though mine are done —
Too full for vain regrets, too brief for tears.

I have lost all, but thou dost hold and save,
Adding new treasure to thy rifled store;
While weeds grow long on the deserted grave
Where sleeps thy mate who may be thine no more.

* * * * *
This is the fate I fear, the ghost I see,
The dream I dream at night, the thought I dread —
That thus 't'will be someday with thee and me,
Thou fain to live while I am doubly dead.

Thou still defiant of our common foe,
I vanquished quite — the once-resplendent crown
Of all thy joys become a dragging woe,
To be lopped off lest it should weigh thee down.

I, once thy sap of life, a wasteful drain
On thy green vigour, like a rotten branch;
I, once thy health, a paralysing pain,
A bleeding wound, that thou must haste to stanch.

Because the dead are dead — the past is gone;
Because dear life is sweet and time is brief,
And some must fall, and some must still press on,
Nor waste scant strength in unavailing grief.

* * * * *
I blame thee not. I know what must be must.
Nor shall I suffer when apart from thee.
I shall not care, when I am mouldering dust,
That once quick love is in the grave with me.
Cast me away — thou knowest I shall not fret;
Take thy due joys — I shall not bear the cost.
I, that am thus forgotten, shall forget,
Nor shed one tear for all that I have lost.

Not then the sting of death, the day of dole,
When corpse of love lies under funeral pall;
'Tis now I wear the sackcloth on my soul,
Bereaved and lonely, while possessed of all.

* * * * *
If thou wert dead, belovèd, should I turn
Deaf heart to memory when of thee she spake?
Should I, when this pure fire had ceased to burn,
Seek other hearths for sordid comfort's sake?

No, no! Yet I am mortal, I am weak,
And any fire is warm in wintry cold.
Alas! alas! The fateful years will wreak
Their own stern will on ours, when all is told.

Tell us, 0 Thou that canst behold us grope,
Whole-souled, incessant, through these realms unknown
For but one touch of a substantial hope,
How can we keep our dear selves for our own?

Whence did we come? And is it there we go?
We look behind — night hides our place of birth;
The blank ahead hides Heaven, for aught we know;
But what is Heaven to us, whose home is Earth?

Flesh may be gross — the husk that holds the seed;
Jewels of gold worth more than common bread;
But we are flesh, and common bread our need.
Angels in glory, we should still be dead.

What is the infinite Universe to him
Who has no home? Eternal Future seems,
Like the eternal Past, unreal and dim,
The airy region of a poet's dreams.

What spirit-essence, howsoe'er divine,
Can our lost selves restore from dusty grave?
Her mortal mind and body — hers and mine —
Make all the joys I know, and all I crave.

No fair romance of transcendental bliss,
No tale of palms and crowns, my dull heart stirs,
That only hungers for a woman's kiss,
And asks no life that is not one with hers.
No such Hereafter do I ask to see;
No such pale hope my sinking soul exalts;
I want no sexless angel — only thee,
My human love, with all thy human faults.

Just as thou art — not beautiful or wise,
But prone to simple sins and sad unrest —
With thy warm lips and arms, and thy sweet eyes,
Sweeter for tears they weep upon my breast.

Just as thou art, with thy soft household ways,
Thy noble failures and thy poor success,
Thy love that fits me for my strenuous days;
A mortal woman — neither more nor less.

* * * * *
And thou must pass, with these too rapid hours,
To that great deep wherefrom we both were brought;
Thy sentient flesh must turn to grass and flowers,
To birds and beasts, to dust — to air — to nought.

I know the parable. The great oaks grow
To their vast stature from an acorn grain,
And mightiest man was once an embryo.
But how can nothing bring thee forth again?

And is the new oak tree the old oak tree?
And is the son the father? And would'st thou,
If thou could'st rise from nothing, be to me
The precious self that satisfies me now?

Words! Words! A tale — a fairy legend, drawn
From lore of babes, that men must cast away;
Faith of the primal dreamer and the dawn,
Eluding vision in the light of day.

Here in our little island-home we bide
Our few brief years — the years that we possess.
Beyond, the Infinite on every side
Holds what no man may know, though all may guess.

We may remain — a lasting miracle. Ay, well we may. Our island-home is rife
With marvels greater than the tongue can tell,
And all things teem and travail with new life.

We may awake, ineffably alive,
Divinely perfect, in some higher sphere:
But still not we shall wake — the we who strive,
Who love and learn, who joy and suffer, here.
What then our hope, if any hope there be?
A something vague and formless and unknown,
That some strange beings, yet unborn, shall see.
Alas! And all we cry for is our own.

Only to be ourselves — not cast abroad
In space and time, for either bliss or woe;
Only to keep the treasures we have stored.
And they must pass away. And we must go.

How can we bear it? How can we submit?
Like a wild beast imprisoned, in our pain
We rave and rage for some way out of it,
And bruise and bleed against the bars in vain.

All, all is dark. Beyond our birth and death —
At either end — the same unyielding door.
We live, we love, while we draw human breath;
And then we die. And then? We know no more.

* * * * *
Ah, but look up, above these roofs and spires,
To where the stars shine down like watching eyes.
Conceive the tumult of those spinning fires!
Behold the vastness of those midnight skies!

And count the value of this speck of earth
Amid the countless Whole; and measure Man
That on this speck but yesterday had birth,
And claims all God — with the prodigious plan.

Man, but a phase of planetary change,
That once was not, and will give place anon
To other forms, more beautiful and strange —
To pass in turn — till Earth herself is gone.

Earth, that is next to nothing in the sum
Of things created — a brief mote in space,
With all her aeons past and yet to come.
How we miscalculate our size — our place!

Yet are we men — details of the design,
Set to our course, like circling sun and star;
Mortal, infinitesimal, yet divine
Of that divine which made us what we are.

And yet this world, this microscopic ball,
This cast-up grain of sand upon the shore,
This trivial shred and atom of the ALL,
Is still our Trust, that we must answer for.
A lighthouse in the Infinite, with lamps
That we must trim and feed until we die;
A lonely outpost of the unseen camps
That we must keep, although we know not why.

The workman and the soldier have the word;
Theirs to obey, and not to question. Thus
We stand to orders that we never heard,
Bound to our little part. Enough for us.

The warm sap runs; the tender leaves unfold;
Ant helps his brother ant; birds build and sing;
The patient earthworm aids the pregnant mould
To fruit in autumn and to bud in spring.

Not less am I in wisdom and in will
Than ants and worms. I am full-furnished too
My arduous errand hither to fulfil.
I know my work, and what a man can do.

Maker of all! Enough that Thou hast given
This tempered mind, this brain without a flaw.
Enough for me to strive, as I have striven,
To make them serve their purpose and Thy law.

* * * * *
But, oh, my soul's companion! Thee I seek
For daily courage to support my lot.
In thee hath Nature made me strong or weak.
My human comforter, forsake me not!

My nobler self, in whom I live my best,
Strengthen me! Raise me! Lead me to the last!
Lay thy dear head upon my throbbing breast,
Give me thy hands, that I may hold thee fast!

Come close — come closer! Let me feel thy heart,
Thy pulsing heart, thy breathing lips, on mine.
0 love, let only death and graveyard part —
If they must part — my flesh and soul from thine!

Be thou my purer eyes, my keener ears,
My finer conscience, clean and unafraid,
Till these few, swift, inexorable years
Have borne us both beyond the reach of aid.

My rod and staff upon this lonely way,
My beacon-lamp till need of light is past;
Till the great Shadow, lengthening day by day,
Spreads over all and quenches us at last.

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The Spirit Of Discovery By Sea - Book The Fifth

Such are thy views, DISCOVERY! The great world
Rolls to thine eye revealed; to thee the Deep
Submits its awful empire; Industry
Awakes, and Commerce to the echoing marts
From east to west unwearied pours her wealth.
Man walks sublimer; and Humanity,
Matured by social intercourse, more high,
More animated, lifts her sovereign mien,
And waves her golden sceptre. Yet the heart
Asks trembling, is no evil found! Oh, turn,
Meek Charity, and drop a human tear
For the sad fate of Afric's injured sons,
And hide, for ever hide, the sight of chains,
Anguish, and bondage! Yes, the heart of man
Is sick, and Charity turns pale, to think
How soon, for pure religion's holy beam,
Dark crimes, that sullied the sweet day, pursued,
Like vultures, the Discoverer's ocean tract,
Screaming for blood, to fields of rich Peru,
Or ravaged Mexico, while Gold more Gold!
The caverned mountains echoed, Gold more Gold!
Then see the fell-eyed, prowling buccaneer,
Grim as a libbard! He his jealous look
Turns to the dagger at his belt, his hand
By instinct grasps a bloody scymitar,
And ghastly is his smile, as o'er the woods
He sees the smoke of burning villages
Ascend, and thinks ev'n now he counts his spoil.
See thousands destined to the lurid mine,
Never to see the sun again; all names
Of husband, sire, all tender charities
Of love, deep buried with them in that grave,
Where life is as a thing long passed; and hope
No more its sickly ray, to cheer the gloom,
Extends.
Thou, too, dread Ocean, toss thine arms,
Exulting, for the treasures and the gems
That thy dark oozy realm emblaze; and call
The pale procession of the dead, from caves
Where late their bodies weltered, to attend
Thy kingly sceptre, and proclaim thy might!
Lord of the Hurricane! bid all thy winds
Swell, and destruction ride upon the surge,
Where, after the red lightning flash that shows
The labouring ship, all is at once deep night
And long suspense, till the slow dawn of day
Gleams on the scattered corses of the dead,
That strew the sounding shore!
Then think of him,
Ye who rejoice with those you love, at eve,
When winds of winter shake the window-frame,
And more endear your fire, oh, think of him,
Who, saved alone from the destroying storm,
Is cast on some deserted rock; who sees
Sun after sun descend, and hopeless hears;
At morn the long surge of the troubled main,
That beats without his wretched cave; meantime
He fears to wake the echoes with his voice,
So dread the solitude!
Let Greenland's snows
Then shine, and mark the melancholy train
There left to perish, whilst the cold pale day
Declines along the further ice, that binds
The ship, and leaves in night the sinking scene.
Sad winter closes on the deep; the smoke
Of frost, that late amusive to the eye
Rose o'er the coast, is passed, and all is now
One torpid blank; the freezing particles
Blown blistering, and the white bear seeks her cave.
Ill-fated outcasts, when the morn again
Shall streak with feeble beam the frozen waste,
Your air-bleached and unburied carcases
Shall press the ground, and, as the stars fade off,
Your stony eyes glare 'mid the desert snows!
These triumphs boast, fell Demon of the Deep!
Though never more the universal shriek
Of all that perish thou shalt hear, as when
The deep foundations of the guilty earth
Were shaken at the voice of God, and man
Ceased in his habitations; yet the sea
Thy might tempestuous still, and joyless rule,
Confesses. Ah! what bloodless shadows throng
Ev'n now, slow rising from their oozy beds,
From Mete, and those gates of burial
That guard the Erythraean; from the vast
Unfathomed caverns of the Western main
Or stormy Orcades; whilst the sad shell
Of poor Arion, to the hollow blast
Slow seems to pour its melancholy tones,
And faintly vibrate, as the dead pass by.
I see the chiefs, who fell in distant lands,
The prey of murderous savages, when yells,
And shouts, and conch, resounded through the woods.
Magellan and De Solis seem to lead
The mournful train. Shade of Perouse! oh, say
Where, in the tract of unknown seas, thy bones
Th' insulting surge has swept?
But who is he,
Whose look, though pale and bloody, wears the trace
Of pure philanthropy? The pitying sigh
Forbid not; he was dear to Britons, dear
To every beating heart, far as the world
Extends; and my faint faltering touch ev'n now
Dies on the strings, when I pronounce thy name,
Oh, lost, lamented, generous, hapless Cook!
But cease the vain complaint; turn from the shores,
Wet with his blood, Remembrance: cast thine eyes
Upon the long seas, and the wider world,
Displayed from his research. Smile, glowing Health!
For now no more the wasted seaman sinks,
With haggard eye and feeble frame diseased;
No more with tortured longings for the sight
Of fields and hillocks green, madly he calls
On Nature, when before his swimming eye
The liquid long expanse of cheerless seas
Seems all one flowery plain. Then frantic dreams
Arise; his eye's distemper'd flash is seen
From the sunk socket, as a demon there
Sat mocking, till he plunges in the flood,
And the dark wave goes o'er him.
Nor wilt thou,
O Science! fail to deck the cold morai
Of him who wider o'er earth's hemisphere
Thy views extended. On, from deep to deep,
Thou shalt retrace the windings of his track;
From the high North to where the field-ice binds
The still Antarctic. Thence, from isle to isle,
Thou shalt pursue his progress; and explore
New-Holland's eastern shores, where now the sons
Of distant Britain, from her lap cast out,
Water the ground with tears of penitence,
Perhaps, hereafter, in their destined time,
Themselves to rise pre-eminent. Now speed,
By Asia's eastern bounds, still to the North,
Where the vast continents of either world
Approach: Beyond, 'tis silent boundless ice,
Impenetrable barrier, where all thought
Is lost; where never yet the eagle flew,
Nor roamed so far the white bear through the waste.
But thou, dread POWER! whose voice from chaos called
The earth, who bad'st the Lord of light go forth,
Ev'n as a giant, and the sounding seas
Roll at thy fiat: may the dark deep clouds,
That thy pavilion shroud from mortal sight,
So pass away, as now the mystery,
Obscure through rolling ages, is disclosed;
How man, from one great Father sprung, his race
Spread to that severed continent! Ev'n so,
FATHER, in thy good time, shall all things stand
Revealed to knowledge.
As the mind revolves
The change of mighty empires, and the fate
Of HIM whom Thou hast made, back through the dusk
Of ages Contemplation turns her view:
We mark, as from its infancy, the world
Peopled again, from that mysterious shrine
That rested on the top of Ararat,
Highest of Asian mountains; spreading on,
The Cushites from their mountain caves descend;
Then before GOD the sons of Ammon stood
In their gigantic might, and first the seas
Vanquished: But still from clime to clime the groan
Of sacrifice, and Superstition's cry,
Was heard; but when the Dayspring rose of heaven,
Greece's hoar forests echoed, The great Pan
Is dead! From Egypt, and the rugged shores
Of Syrian Tyre, the gods of darkness fly;
Bel is cast down, and Nebo, horrid king,
Bows in imperial Babylon: But, ah!
Too soon, the Star of Bethlehem, whose ray
The host of heaven hailed jubilant, and sang,
Glory to God on high, and on earth peace,
With long eclipse is veiled.
Red Papacy
Usurped the meek dominion of the Lord
Of love and charity: vast as a fiend
She rose, Heaven's light was darkened with her frown,
And the earth murmured back her hymns of blood,
As the meek martyr at the burning stake
Stood, his last look uplifted to his GOD!
But she is now cast down, her empire reft.
They who in darkness walked, and in the shade
Of death, have seen a new and holy light,
As in th' umbrageous forest, through whose boughs,
Mossy and damp, for many a league, the morn
With languid beam scarce pierces, here and there
Touching some solitary trunk, the rest
Dark waving in the noxious atmosphere:
Through the thick-matted leaves the serpent winds
His way, to find a spot of casual sun;
The gaunt hyaena through the thicket glides
At eve: then, too, the couched tiger's eye
Flames in the dusk, and oft the gnashing jaws
Of the fell crocodile are heard. At length,
By man's superior energy and toil,
The sunless brakes are cleared; the joyous morn
Shines through the opening leaves; rich culture smiles
Around; and howling to their distant wilds
The savage inmates of the wood retire.
Such is the scene of human life, till want
Bids man his strength put forth; then slowly spreads
The cultured stream of mild humanity,
And gentler virtues, and more noble aims
Employ the active mind, till beauty beams
Around, and Nature wears her richest robe,
Adorned with lovelier graces. Then the charms
Of woman, fairest of the works of Heaven,
Whom the cold savage, in his sullen pride,
Scorned as unworthy of his equal love,
With more attractive influence wins the heart
Of her protector. Then the names of sire,
Of home, of brother, and of children, grow
More sacred, more endearing; whilst the eye,
Lifted beyond this earthly scene, beholds
A Father who looks down from heaven on all!
O Britain, my loved country! dost thou rise
Most high among the nations! Do thy fleets
Ride o'er the surge of ocean, that subdued
Rolls in long sweep beneath them! Dost thou wear
Thy garb of gentler morals gracefully!
Is widest science thine, and the fair train
Of lovelier arts! While commerce throngs thy ports
With her ten thousand streamers, is the tract
Of the undeviating ploughshare white
That rips the reeking furrow, followed soon
By plenty, bidding all the scene rejoice,
Even like a cultured garden! Do the streams
That steal along thy peaceful vales, reflect
Temples, and Attic domes, and village towers!
Is beauty thine, fairest of earthly things,
Woman; and doth she gain that liberal love
And homage, which the meekness of her voice,
The rapture of her smile, commanding most
When she seems weakest, must demand from him,
Her master; whose stern strength at once submits
In manly, but endearing, confidence,
Unlike his selfish tyranny who sits
The sultan of his harem!
Oh, then, think
How great the blessing, and how high thy rank
Amid the civilised and social world!
But hast thou no deep failings, that may turn
Thy thoughts within thyself! Ask, for the sun
That shines in heaven hath seen it, hath thy power
Ne'er scattered sorrow over distant lands!
Ask of the East, have never thy proud sails
Borne plunder from dismembered provinces,
Leaving the groans of miserable men
Behind! And free thyself, and lifting high
The charter of thy freedom, bought with blood,
Hast thou not stood, in patient apathy,
A witness of the tortures and the chains
That Afric's injured sons have known! Stand up;
Yes, thou hast visited the caves, and cheered
The gloomy haunts of sorrow; thou hast shed
A beam of comfort and of righteousness
On isles remote; hast bid the bread-fruit shade
Th' Hesperian regions, and has softened much
With bland amelioration, and with charms
Of social sweetness, the hard lot of man.
But weighed in truth's firm balance, ask, if all
Be even. Do not crimes of ranker growth
Batten amid thy cities, whose loud din,
From flashing and contending cars, ascends,
Till morn! Enchanting, as if aught so sweet
Ne'er faded, do thy daughters wear the weeds
Of calm domestic peace and wedded love;
Or turn, with beautiful disdain, to dash
Gay pleasure's poisoned chalice from their lips
Untasted! Hath not sullen atheism,
Weaving gay flowers of poesy, so sought
To hide the darkness of his withered brow
With faded and fantastic gallantry
Of roses, thus to win the thoughtless smile
Of youthful ignorance! Hast thou with awe
Looked up to Him whose power is in the clouds,
Who bids the storm rush, and it sweeps to earth
The nations that offend, and they are gone,
Like Tyre and Babylon! Well weigh thyself:
Then shalt thou rise undaunted in the might
Of thy Protector, and the gathered hate
Of hostile bands shall be but as the sand
Blown on the everlasting pyramid.
Hasten, O Love and Charity! your work,
Ev'n now whilst it is day; far as the world
Extends may your divinest influence
Be felt, and more than felt, to teach mankind
They all are brothers, and to drown the cries
Of superstition, anarchy, or blood!
Not yet the hour is come: on Ganges' banks
Still superstition hails the flame of death,
Behold, gay dressed, as in her bridal tire,
The self-devoted beauteous victim slow
Ascend the pile where her dead husband lies:
She kisses his cold cheeks, inclines her breast
On his, and lights herself the fatal pile
That shall consume them both!
On Egypt's shore,
Where Science rose, now Sloth and Ignorance
Sleep like the huge Behemoth in the sun!
The turbaned Moor still stains with strangers' blood
The inmost sands of Afric. But all these
The light shall visit, and that vaster tract
From Fuego to the furthest Labrador,
Where roam the outcast Esquimaux, shall hear
The voice of social fellowship; the chief
Whose hatchet flashed amid the forest gloom,
Who to his infants bore the bleeding scalp
Of his fall'n foe, shall weep unwonted tears!
Come, Faith; come, Hope; come, meek-eyed Charity!
Complete the lovely prospect: every land
Shall lift up one hosannah; every tongue
Proclaim thee FATHER, INFINITE, and WISE,
And GOOD. The shores of palmy Senegal
(Sad Afric's injured sons no more enslaved)
Shall answer HALLELUJAH, for the LORD
Of truth and mercy reigns;--reigns KING OF KINGS;--
HOSANNAH--KING OF KINGS--and LORD OF LORDS!
So may His kingdom come, when all the earth,
Uniting thus as in one hymn of praise,
Shall wait the end of all things. This great globe,
His awful plan accomplished, then shall sink
In flames, whilst through the clouds, that wrap the place
Where it had rolled, and the sun shone, the voice
Of the ARCHANGEL, and the TRUMP OF GOD,
Amid heaven's darkness rolling fast away,
Shall sound!
Then shall the sea give up its dead;--
But man's immortal mind, all trials past
That shook his feverish frame, amidst the scenes
Of peril and distemper, shall ascend
Exulting to its destined seat of rest,
And 'justify His ways' from whom it sprung.

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The Vision Of The Maid Of Orleans - The First Book

Orleans was hush'd in sleep. Stretch'd on her couch
The delegated Maiden lay: with toil
Exhausted and sore anguish, soon she closed
Her heavy eye-lids; not reposing then,
For busy Phantasy, in other scenes
Awakened. Whether that superior powers,
By wise permission, prompt the midnight dream,
Instructing so the passive faculty;
Or that the soul, escaped its fleshly clog,
Flies free, and soars amid the invisible world,
And all things 'are' that 'seem'.

Along a moor,
Barren, and wide, and drear, and desolate,
She roam'd a wanderer thro' the cheerless night.
Far thro' the silence of the unbroken plain
The bittern's boom was heard, hoarse, heavy, deep,
It made most fitting music to the scene.
Black clouds, driven fast before the stormy wind,
Swept shadowing; thro' their broken folds the moon
Struggled sometimes with transitory ray,
And made the moving darkness visible.
And now arrived beside a fenny lake
She stands: amid its stagnate waters, hoarse
The long sedge rustled to the gales of night.
An age-worn bark receives the Maid, impell'd
By powers unseen; then did the moon display
Where thro' the crazy vessel's yawning side
The muddy wave oozed in: a female guides,
And spreads the sail before the wind, that moan'd
As melancholy mournful to her ear,
As ever by the dungeon'd wretch was heard
Howling at evening round the embattled towers
Of that hell-house of France, ere yet sublime
The almighty people from their tyrant's hand
Dash'd down the iron rod.
Intent the Maid
Gazed on the pilot's form, and as she gazed
Shiver'd, for wan her face was, and her eyes
Hollow, and her sunk cheeks were furrowed deep,
Channell'd by tears; a few grey locks hung down
Beneath her hood: then thro' the Maiden's veins
Chill crept the blood, for, as the night-breeze pass'd,
Lifting her tattcr'd mantle, coil'd around
She saw a serpent gnawing at her heart.

The plumeless bat with short shrill note flits by,
And the night-raven's scream came fitfully,
Borne on the hollow blast. Eager the Maid
Look'd to the shore, and now upon the bank
Leaps, joyful to escape, yet trembling still
In recollection.

There, a mouldering pile
Stretch'd its wide ruins, o'er the plain below
Casting a gloomy shade, save where the moon
Shone thro' its fretted windows: the dark Yew,
Withering with age, branched there its naked roots,
And there the melancholy Cypress rear'd
Its head; the earth was heav'd with many a mound,
And here and there a half-demolish'd tomb.

And now, amid the ruin's darkest shade,
The Virgin's eye beheld where pale blue flames
Rose wavering, now just gleaming from the earth,
And now in darkness drown'd. An aged man
Sat near, seated on what in long-past days
Had been some sculptur'd monument, now fallen
And half-obscured by moss, and gathered heaps
Of withered yew-leaves and earth-mouldering bones;
And shining in the ray was seen the track
Of slimy snail obscene. Composed his look,
His eye was large and rayless, and fix'd full
Upon the Maid; the blue flames on his face
Stream'd a pale light; his face was of the hue
Of death; his limbs were mantled in a shroud.

Then with a deep heart-terrifying voice,
Exclaim'd the Spectre, 'Welcome to these realms,
These regions of DESPAIR! O thou whose steps
By GRIEF conducted to these sad abodes
Have pierced; welcome, welcome to this gloom
Eternal, to this everlasting night,
Where never morning darts the enlivening ray,
Where never shines the sun, but all is dark,
Dark as the bosom of their gloomy King.'

So saying he arose, and by the hand
The Virgin seized with such a death-cold touch
As froze her very heart; and drawing on,
Her, to the abbey's inner ruin, led
Resistless. Thro' the broken roof the moon
Glimmer'd a scatter'd ray; the ivy twined
Round the dismantled column; imaged forms
Of Saints and warlike Chiefs, moss-canker'd now
And mutilate, lay strewn upon the ground,
With crumbled fragments, crucifixes fallen,
And rusted trophies; and amid the heap
Some monument's defaced legend spake
All human glory vain.

The loud blast roar'd
Amid the pile; and from the tower the owl
Scream'd as the tempest shook her secret nest.
He, silent, led her on, and often paus'd,
And pointed, that her eye might contemplate
At leisure the drear scene.
He dragged her on
Thro' a low iron door, down broken stairs;
Then a cold horror thro' the Maiden's frame
Crept, for she stood amid a vault, and saw,
By the sepulchral lamp's dim glaring light,
The fragments of the dead.
'Look here!' he cried,
'Damsel, look here! survey this house of Death;
O soon to tenant it! soon to increase
These trophies of mortality! for hence
Is no return. Gaze here! behold this skull,
These eyeless sockets, and these unflesh'd jaws,
That with their ghastly grinning, seem to mock
Thy perishable charms; for thus thy cheek
Must moulder. Child of Grief! shrinks not thy soul,
Viewing these horrors? trembles not thy heart
At the dread thought, that here its life's-blood soon
Now warm in life and feeling, mingle soon
With the cold clod? a thought most horrible!
So only dreadful, for reality
Is none of suffering here; here all is peace;
No nerve will throb to anguish in the grave.
Dreadful it is to think of losing life;
But having lost, knowledge of loss is not,
Therefore no ill. Haste, Maiden, to repose;
Probe deep the seat of life.'
So spake DESPAIR
The vaulted roof echoed his hollow voice,
And all again was silence. Quick her heart
Panted. He drew a dagger from his breast,
And cried again, 'Haste Damsel to repose!
One blow, and rest for ever!' On the Fiend
Dark scowl'd the Virgin with indignant eye,
And dash'd the dagger down. He next his heart
Replaced the murderous steel, and drew the Maid
Along the downward vault.
The damp earth gave
A dim sound as they pass'd: the tainted air
Was cold, and heavy with unwholesome dews.
'Behold!' the fiend exclaim'd, 'how gradual here
The fleshly burden of mortality
Moulders to clay!' then fixing his broad eye
Full on her face, he pointed where a corpse
Lay livid; she beheld with loathing look,
The spectacle abhorr'd by living man.

'Look here!' DESPAIR pursued, 'this loathsome mass
Was once as lovely, and as full of life
As, Damsel! thou art now. Those deep-sunk eyes
Once beam'd the mild light of intelligence,
And where thou seest the pamper'd flesh-worm trail,
Once the white bosom heaved. She fondly thought
That at the hallowed altar, soon the Priest
Should bless her coming union, and the torch
Its joyful lustre o'er the hall of joy,
Cast on her nuptial evening: earth to earth
That Priest consign'd her, and the funeral lamp
Glares on her cold face; for her lover went
By glory lur'd to war, and perish'd there;
Nor she endur'd to live. Ha! fades thy cheek?
Dost thou then, Maiden, tremble at the tale?
Look here! behold the youthful paramour!
The self-devoted hero!'
Fearfully
The Maid look'd down, and saw the well known face
Of THEODORE! in thoughts unspeakable,
Convulsed with horror, o'er her face she clasp'd
Her cold damp hands: 'Shrink not,' the Phantom cried,
'Gaze on! for ever gaze!' more firm he grasp'd
Her quivering arm: 'this lifeless mouldering clay,
As well thou know'st, was warm with all the glow
Of Youth and Love; this is the arm that cleaved
Salisbury's proud crest, now motionless in death,
Unable to protect the ravaged frame
From the foul Offspring of Mortality
That feed on heroes. Tho' long years were thine,
Yet never more would life reanimate
This murdered man; murdered by thee! for thou
Didst lead him to the battle from his home,
Else living there in peace to good old age:
In thy defence he died: strike deep! destroy
Remorse with Life.'
The Maid stood motionless,
And, wistless what she did, with trembling hand
Received the dagger. Starting then, she cried,
'Avaunt DESPAIR! Eternal Wisdom deals
Or peace to man, or misery, for his good
Alike design'd; and shall the Creature cry,
Why hast thou done this? and with impious pride
Destroy the life God gave?'
The Fiend rejoin'd,
'And thou dost deem it impious to destroy
The life God gave? What, Maiden, is the lot
Assigned to mortal man? born but to drag,
Thro' life's long pilgrimage, the wearying load
Of being; care corroded at the heart;
Assail'd by all the numerous train of ills
That flesh inherits; till at length worn out,
This is his consummation!--think again!
What, Maiden, canst thou hope from lengthen'd life
But lengthen'd sorrow? If protracted long,
Till on the bed of death thy feeble limbs
Outstretch their languid length, oh think what thoughts,
What agonizing woes, in that dread hour,
Assail the sinking heart! slow beats the pulse,
Dim grows the eye, and clammy drops bedew
The shuddering frame; then in its mightiest force,
Mightiest in impotence, the love of life
Seizes the throbbing heart, the faltering lips
Pour out the impious prayer, that fain would change
The unchangeable's decree, surrounding friends
Sob round the sufferer, wet his cheek with tears,
And all he loved in life embitters death!

Such, Maiden, are the pangs that wait the hour
Of calmest dissolution! yet weak man
Dares, in his timid piety, to live;
And veiling Fear in Superstition's garb,
He calls her Resignation!
Coward wretch!
Fond Coward! thus to make his Reason war
Against his Reason! Insect as he is,
This sport of Chance, this being of a day,
Whose whole existence the next cloud may blast,
Believes himself the care of heavenly powers,
That God regards Man, miserable Man,
And preaching thus of Power and Providence,
Will crush the reptile that may cross his path!

Fool that thou art! the Being that permits
Existence, 'gives' to man the worthless boon:
A goodly gift to those who, fortune-blest,
Bask in the sunshine of Prosperity,
And such do well to keep it. But to one
Sick at the heart with misery, and sore
With many a hard unmerited affliction,
It is a hair that chains to wretchedness
The slave who dares not burst it!
Thinkest thou,
The parent, if his child should unrecall'd
Return and fall upon his neck, and cry,
Oh! the wide world is comfortless, and full
Of vacant joys and heart-consuming cares,
I can be only happy in my home
With thee--my friend!--my father! Thinkest thou,
That he would thrust him as an outcast forth?
Oh I he would clasp the truant to his heart,
And love the trespass.'
Whilst he spake, his eye
Dwelt on the Maiden's cheek, and read her soul
Struggling within. In trembling doubt she stood,
Even as the wretch, whose famish'd entrails crave
Supply, before him sees the poison'd food
In greedy horror.
Yet not long the Maid
Debated, 'Cease thy dangerous sophistry,
Eloquent tempter!' cried she. 'Gloomy one!
What tho' affliction be my portion here,
Think'st thou I do not feel high thoughts of joy.
Of heart-ennobling joy, when I look back
Upon a life of duty well perform'd,
Then lift mine eyes to Heaven, and there in faith
Know my reward? I grant, were this life all,
Was there no morning to the tomb's long night,
If man did mingle with the senseless clod,
Himself as senseless, then wert thou indeed
A wise and friendly comforter! But, Fiend!
There is a morning to the tomb's long night,
A dawn of glory, a reward in Heaven,
He shall not gain who never merited.
If thou didst know the worth of one good deed
In life's last hour, thou would'st not bid me lose
The power to benefit; if I but save
A drowning fly, I shall not live in vain.
I have great duties, Fiend! me France expects,
Her heaven-doom'd Champion.'
'Maiden, thou hast done
Thy mission here,' the unbaffled Fiend replied:
'The foes are fled from Orleans: thou, perchance
Exulting in the pride of victory,
Forgettest him who perish'd! yet albeit
Thy harden'd heart forget the gallant youth;
That hour allotted canst thou not escape,
That dreadful hour, when Contumely and Shame
Shall sojourn in thy dungeon. Wretched Maid!
Destined to drain the cup of bitterness,
Even to its dregs! England's inhuman Chiefs
Shall scoff thy sorrows, black thy spotless fame,
Wit-wanton it with lewd barbarity,
And force such burning blushes to the cheek
Of Virgin modesty, that thou shalt wish
The earth might cover thee! in that last hour,
When thy bruis'd breast shall heave beneath the chains
That link thee to the stake; when o'er thy form,
Exposed unmantled, the brute multitude
Shall gaze, and thou shalt hear the ribald taunt,
More painful than the circling flames that scorch
Each quivering member; wilt thou not in vain
Then wish my friendly aid? then wish thine ear
Had drank my words of comfort? that thy hand
Had grasp'd the dagger, and in death preserved
Insulted modesty?'
Her glowing cheek
Blush'd crimson; her wide eye on vacancy
Was fix'd; her breath short panted. The cold Fiend,
Grasping her hand, exclaim'd, 'too-timid Maid,
So long repugnant to the healing aid
My friendship proffers, now shalt thou behold
The allotted length of life.'
He stamp'd the earth,
And dragging a huge coffin as his car,
Two GOULS came on, of form more fearful-foul
Than ever palsied in her wildest dream
Hag-ridden Superstition. Then DESPAIR
Seiz'd on the Maid whose curdling blood stood still.
And placed her in the seat; and on they pass'd
Adown the deep descent. A meteor light
Shot from the Daemons, as they dragg'd along
The unwelcome load, and mark'd their brethren glut
On carcasses.
Below the vault dilates
Its ample bulk. 'Look here!'--DESPAIR addrest
The shuddering Virgin, 'see the dome of DEATH!'
It was a spacious cavern, hewn amid
The entrails of the earth, as tho' to form
The grave of all mankind: no eye could reach,
Tho' gifted with the Eagle's ample ken,
Its distant bounds. There, thron'd in darkness, dwelt
The unseen POWER OF DEATH.
Here stopt the GOULS,
Reaching the destin'd spot. The Fiend leapt out,
And from the coffin, as he led the Maid,
Exclaim'd, 'Where never yet stood mortal man,
Thou standest: look around this boundless vault;
Observe the dole that Nature deals to man,
And learn to know thy friend.'
She not replied,
Observing where the Fates their several tasks
Plied ceaseless. 'Mark how short the longest web
Allowed to man! he cried; observe how soon,
Twin'd round yon never-resting wheel, they change
Their snowy hue, darkening thro' many a shade,
Till Atropos relentless shuts the sheers!'

Too true he spake, for of the countless threads,
Drawn from the heap, as white as unsunn'd snow,
Or as the lovely lilly of the vale,
Was never one beyond the little span
Of infancy untainted: few there were
But lightly tinged; more of deep crimson hue,
Or deeper sable died. Two Genii stood,
Still as the web of Being was drawn forth,
Sprinkling their powerful drops. From ebon urn,
The one unsparing dash'd the bitter wave
Of woe; and as he dash'd, his dark-brown brow
Relax'd to a hard smile. The milder form
Shed less profusely there his lesser store;
Sometimes with tears increasing the scant boon,
Mourning the lot of man; and happy he
Who on his thread those precious drops receives;
If it be happiness to have the pulse
Throb fast with pity, and in such a world
Of wretchedness, the generous heart that aches
With anguish at the sight of human woe.

To her the Fiend, well hoping now success,
'This is thy thread! observe how short the span,
And see how copious yonder Genius pours
The bitter stream of woe.' The Maiden saw
Fearless. 'Now gaze!' the tempter Fiend exclaim'd,
And placed again the poniard in her hand,
For SUPERSTITION, with sulphureal torch
Stalk'd to the loom. 'This, Damsel, is thy fate!
The hour draws on--now drench the dagger deep!
Now rush to happier worlds!'
The Maid replied,
'Or to prevent or change the will of Heaven,
Impious I strive not: be that will perform'd!'

On a rock more high
Than Nature's common surface, she beholds
The Mansion house of Fate, which thus unfolds
Its sacred mysteries. A trine within
A quadrate placed, both these encompast in
A perfect circle was its form; but what
Its matter was, for us to wonder at,
Is undiscovered left. A Tower there stands
At every angle, where Time's fatal hands
The impartial PARCAE dwell; i' the first she sees
CLOTHO the kindest of the Destinies,
From immaterial essences to cull
The seeds of life, and of them frame the wool
For LACHESIS to spin; about her flie
Myriads of souls, that yet want flesh to lie
Warm'd with their functions in, whose strength bestows
That power by which man ripe for misery grows.

Her next of objects was that glorious tower
Where that swift-fingered Nymph that spares no hour
From mortals' service, draws the various threads
Of life in several lengths; to weary beds
Of age extending some, whilst others in
Their infancy are broke: 'some blackt in sin,
Others, the favorites of Heaven, from whence
Their origin, candid with innocence;
Some purpled in afflictions, others dyed
In sanguine pleasures': some in glittering pride
Spun to adorn the earth, whilst others wear
Rags of deformity, but knots of care
No thread was wholly free from. Next to this
Fair glorious tower, was placed that black abyss
Of dreadful ATROPOS, the baleful seat
Of death and horrour, in each room repleat
With lazy damps, loud groans, and the sad sight
Of pale grim Ghosts, those terrours of the night.
To this, the last stage that the winding clew
Of Life can lead mortality unto,
FEAR was the dreadful Porter, which let in
All guests sent thither by destructive sin.

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The Sale of Saint Thomas

A quay with vessels moored


Thomas
To India! Yea, here I may take ship;
From here the courses go over the seas,
Along which the intent prows wonderfully
Nose like lean hounds, and tack their journeys out,
Making for harbours as some sleuth was laid
For them to follow on their shifting road.
Again I front my appointed ministry. --
But why the Indian lot to me? Why mine
Such fearful gospelling? For the Lord knew
What a frail soul He gave me, and a heart
Lame and unlikely for the large events. --
And this is worse than Baghdad! though that was
A fearful brink of travel. But if the lots,
That gave to me the Indian duty, were
Shuffled by the unseen skill of Heaven, surely
That fear of mine in Baghdad was the same
Marvellous Hand working again, to guard
The landward gate of India from me. There
I stood, waiting in the weak early dawn
To start my journey; the great caravan's
Strange cattle with their snoring breaths made steam
Upon the air, and (as I thought) sadly
The beasts at market-booths and awnings gay
Of shops, the city's comfortable trade,
Lookt, and then into months of plodding lookt.
And swiftly on my brain there came a wind
Of vision; and I saw the road mapt out
Along the desert with a chalk of bones;
I saw a famine and the Afghan greed
Waiting for us, spears at our throats, all we
Made women by our hunger; and I saw
Gigantic thirst grieving our mouths with dust,
Scattering up against our breathing salt
Of blown dried dung, till the taste eat like fires
Of a wild vinegar into our sheathèd marrows;
And a sudden decay thicken'd all our bloods
As rotten leaves in fall will baulk a stream;
Then my kill'd life the muncht food of jackals. --
The wind of vision died in my brain; and lo,
The jangling of the caravan's long gait
Was small as the luting of a breeze in grass
Upon my ears. Into the waiting thirst
Camels and merchants all were gone, while I
Had been in my amazement. Was this not
A sign? God with a vision tript me, lest
Those tall fiends that ken for my approach
In middle Asia, Thirst and his grisly band
Of plagues, should with their brigand fingers stop
His message in my mouth. Therefore I said,
If India is the place where I must preach,
I am to go by ship, not overland.
And here my ship is berthed. But worse, far worse
Than Baghdad, is this roadstead, the brown sails,
All the enginery of going on sea,
The tackle and the rigging, tholes and sweeps,
The prows built to put by the waves, the masts
Stayed for a hurricane; and lo, that line
Of gilded water there! the sun has drawn
In a long narrow band of shining oil
His light over the sea; how evilly move
Ripples along that golden skin! -- the gleam
Works like a muscular thing! like the half-gorged
Sleepy swallowing of a serpent's neck.
The sea lives, surely! My eyes swear to it;
And, like a murderous smile that glimpses through
A villain's courtesy, that twitching dazzle
Parts the kind mood of weather to bewray
The feasted waters of the sea, stretched out
In lazy gluttony, expecting prey.
How fearful is this trade of sailing! Worse
Than all land-evils is the water-way
Before me now. -- What, cowardice? Nay, why
Trouble myself with ugly words? 'Tis prudence,
And prudence is an admirable thing.
Yet here's much cost -- these packages piled up,
Ivory doubless, emeralds, gums, and silks,
All these they trust on shipboard? Ah, but I,
I who have seen God, I to put myself
Amid the heathen outrage of the sea
In a deal-wood box! It were plain folly.
There is naught more precious in the world than I:
I carry God in me, to give to men.
And when has the sea been friendly unto man?
Let it but guess my errand, it will call
The dangers of the air to wreak upon me,
Winds to juggle the puny boat and pinch
The water into unbelievable creases.
And shall my soul, and God in my soul, drown?
Or venture drowning? -- But no, no; I am safe.
Smooth as believing souls over their deaths
And over agonies shall slide henceforth
To God, so shall my way be blest amid
The quiet crouching terrors of the sea,
Like panthers when a fire weakens their hearts;
Ay, this huge sin of nature, the salt sea,
Shall be afraid of me, and of the mind
Within me, that with gesture, speech and eyes
Of the Messiah flames. What element
Dare snarl against my going, what incubus dare
Remember to be fiendish, when I light
My whole being with memory of Him?
The malice of the sea will slink from me,
And the air be harmless as a muzzled wolf;
For I am a torch, and the flame of me is God.

A Ship's Captain
You are my man, my passenger?

Thomas I am.
I go to India with you.

Captain Well, I hope so.
There's threatening in the weather. Have you a mind
To hug your belly to the slanted deck,
Like a louse on a whip-top, when the boat
Spins on an axlie in the hissing gales?

Thomas
Fear not. 'Tis likely indeed that storms are now
Plotting against our voyage; ay, no doubt
The very bottom of the sea prepares
To stand up mountainous or reach a limb
Out of his night of water and huge shingles,
That he and the waves may break our keel. Fear not;
Like those who manage horses, I've a word
Will fasten up within their evil natures
The meanings of the winds and waves and reefs.

Captain
You have a talisman? I have one too;
I know not if the storms think much of it.
I may be shark's meat yet. And would your spell
Be daunting to a cuttle, think you now?
We had a bout with one on our way here;
It had green lidless eyes like lanterns, arms
As many as the branches of a tree,
But limber, and each one of them wise as a snake.
It laid hold of our bulwarks, and with three
Long knowing arms, slimy, and of a flesh
So tough they'ld fool a hatchet, searcht the ship,
And stole out of the midst of us all a man;
Yes, and he the proudest man upon the seas
For the rare powerful talisman he'd got.
And would yours have done better?

Thomas I am one
Not easily frightened. I'm for India.
You will not putme from my way with talk.

Captain
My heart, I never thought of frightening you. --
Well, here's both tide and wind, and we may not start.

Thomas
Not start? I pray you, do.

Captain It's no use praying;
I dare not. I've not half my cargo yet.

Thomas
What do you wait for, then?

Captain A carpenter.

Thomas
You are talking strangely.

Captain But not idly.
I might as well broach all my blood at once,
Here as I stand, as sail to India back
Without a carpenter on board; -- O strangely
Wise are our kings in the killing of men!

Thomas
But does your king then need a carpenter?
Captain
Yes, for he dreamed a dream; and(like a man
Who, having eaten poison, and with all
Force of his life turned out the crazing drug,
Has only a weak and wrestled nature left
That gives in foolishly to some bad desire
A healthy man would laught at; so our king
Is left desiring by his venomous dream.
But, being a king, the whole land aches with him.
Thomas
What dream was that?

Captain A palace made of souls; --
Ay, there's a folly for a man to dream!
He saw a palace covering all the land,
Big as the day itself, made of a stone
That answered with a better gleam than glass
To the sun's greeting, fashioned like the sound
Of laughter copied into shining shape:
So the king said. And with him in the dream
There was a voice that fleered upon the king:
'This is the man who makes much of himself
For filling the common eyes with palaces
Gorgeously bragging out his royalty:
Whereas he hath not one that seemeth not
In work, in height, in posture on the ground,
A hut, a peasant's dingy shed, to mine.
And all his excellent woods, metals, and stones,
The things he's filched out of the earth's old pockets
And hoisted up into walls and domes; the gold,
Ebony, agate stairs, wainscots of jade,
The windows of jargoon, and heavenly lofts
Of marble, all the stuff he takes to be wealth,
Reckons like savage mud and wattle against
The matter of my building.' -- And the king,
Gloating upon the white sheen of that palace,
And weeping like a girl ashamed, inquired
'What is that stone?' And the voice answered him,
'Soul.' 'But in my palaces too,' said he,
'There should be soul built: I have driven nations,
What with quarrying, what with craning, down
To death, and sure their souls stay in my work.'
And 'Mud and wattle' sneered the voice again;
But added, 'In the west there is a man,
A slave, a carpenter, whose heart has been
Apprenticed to the skill that built my reign,
This beauty; and were he master of your gangs,
He'ld build you a palace that would look like mine.' --
So now no ship may sail from India,
Since the king's scornful dream, unless it bring
A carpenter among its homeward lading:
And carpenters are getting hard to find.

Thomas
And have none made for the king his desire?

Captain
Many have tried, with roasting living men
In queer huge kilns, and other sleights, to found
A glass of human souls; and others seek
With marvellous stone to please our desperate king.
Always at last their own tormented bodies
Delight the cruelty of the king's heart.

Thomas
Well then, I hope you'll find your carpenter,
And soon. I would not that we wait too long;
I loathe a dallying journey. -- I should suppose
We'ld have good sailing at this season, now?

Captain
Why, you were looking, a few minutes gone,
For rare wild storms: I hope we'll have them too;
I want to see you work that talisman
You boast about: I've a great love for spells.

Thomas
Let it be storm or calm, so we be sailing.
I long have wished to voyage into mid sea,
To give my senses rest from wondering
On this preplexèd grammar of the land
Written in men and women, the strange trees,
Herbs, and those things so like to souls, the beasts.
My wilful senses will keep perilously
Employed with these my brain, and weary it
Still to be asking. But on the high seas
Such throng'd reality is left behind, --
Only vast air and water, and the hue
That always seems like special news of God.
Surely 'tis half way to eternity
To go where only size and colour live;
And I could purify my mind from all
Worldly amazement by imagining
Beyond my senses into God's great Heaven,
If I were in mid sea. I have dreamed of this.
Wondrous too, I think, to sail at night
While shaols of moonlight flickers dance beside,
Like swimming glee of fishes scaled in gold,
Curvetting in thwart bounds over the swell;
The perceiving flesh, in bliss of such a beauty,
Must sure feel fine as spiritual sight. --
Moods have been on me, too, when I would be
Sailing recklessly through wild darkness, where
Gigantic whispers of a harassed sea
Fill the whole world of air, and I stand up
To breast the danger of the loosen'd sky,
And feel my immortality like music, --
Yea, I alone in the broken world, firm things
All gone to monstrous flurry, knowing myself
An indestructible word spoken by God. --
This is a small, small boat?

Captain Small is nothing,
A bucket will do, so it know how to ride
Top upward: cleverness is the thing in boats.
And I wish this were cleverer: she goes crank
At times just when she should go sober.
But what? Boats are but girls for whimsies: men
Must let them have their freaks.

Thomas Have you good skill
In seamanship?

Captain Well, I am not drowned yet,
Though I'm a grey man and have been at sea
Longer than you've been walking. My old sight
Can tell Mizar from Alcor still.

Thomas Ay, so;
Doubtless you'll bring me safe to India.
But being there -- tell me now of the land:
How use they strangers there?

Captain Queerly, sometimes
If the king's moody, and tired of feeling nerves
Mildly made happy with soft jewels of silk,
Odours and wines and slim lascivious girls,
And yearns for sharper thrills to pierce his brain,
He often finds a stranger handy then.

Thomas
Why, what do you mean?

Captain There was a merchant came
To Travancore, and could not speak our talk;
And, it chanced, he was brought before the throne
Just when the king was weary of sweet pleasures.
So, to better his tongue, a rope was bent
Beneath his oxters, up he was hauled, and fire
Let singe the soles of his feet, until his legs
Wriggled like frying eels; then the king's dogs
Were set to hunt the hirpling man. The king
Laught greatly and cried, 'But give the dogs words they know,
And they'll be tame.' -- Have you the Indian speech?

Thomas
Not yet: it will be given me, I trust.

Captain
You'd best make sure of the gift. Another stranger,
Who swore he knew of better gods than ours,
Seemed to the king troubled with fleas, and slaves
Were told to groom him smartly, which they did
Thoroughly with steel combs, until at last
They curried the living flesh from his bones
And stript his face of gristle, till he was
Skull and half skeleton and yet alive.
You're not for dealing in new gods?

Thomas Not I.
Was the man killed?

Captain He lived a little while;
But the flies killed him.

Thomas Flies? I hope India
Is not a fly-plagued land? I abhor flies.

Captain
You will see strange ones, for our Indian life
Hath wonderful fierce breeding. Common earth
With us quickens to buzzing flights of wings
As readily as a week-old carcase here
Thrown in a sunny marsh. Why, we have wasps
That make your hornets seem like pretty midges;
And there be flies in India will drink
Not only blood of bulls, tigers, and bears,
But pierce the river-horses' creasy leather,
Ay, worry crocodiles through their cuirasses
And prick the metal fishes when they bask.
You'll feel them soon, with beaks like sturdy pins,
Treating their stinging thirsts with your best blood.
A man can't walk a mile in India
Without being the business of a throng'd
And moving town of flies; they hawk at a man
As bold as little eagles, and as wild.
And, I suppose, only a fool will blame them.
Flies have the right to sink wells in our skin
All as men to bore parcht earth for water.
But I must do a job on board, and then
Search the town afresh for a carpenter.

Thomas (alone)
Ay, loose tongue, I know how thou art prompted.
Satan's cunning device thou art, to sap
My heart with chatter'd fears. How easy it is
For a stiff mind to hold itself upright
Against the cords of devilish suggestion
Tackled about it, though kept downward strained
With sly, masterful winches made of fear.
Yea, when the mind is warned what engines mean
To ply it into grovelling, and thought set firm,
The tugging strings fail like a cobweb-stuff.
Not as in Baghdad is it with me now;
Nor canst thou, Satan, by a prating mouth,
Fell my tall purpose to a flatlong scorn.
I can divide the check of God's own hand
From tempting such as this: India is mine! --
Ay, fiend, and if thou utter thy storming heart
Into the ocean sea, as into mob
A rebel utters turbulence and rage,
And raise before my path swelling barriers
Of hatred soul'd in water, yet will I strike
My purpose, and God's purpose, clean through all
The ridges of thy power. And I will show
This mask that the devil wears, this old shipman,
A thing to make his proud heart of evil
Writhe like a trodden snake; yea, he shall see
How godly faith can go upon the huge Fury of forces bursting out of law,
Easily as a boy goes on windy grass. --
O marvel! that my little life of mind
Can by mere thinking the unsizeable
Creatures of sea enslave! I must believe it.
The mind hath many powers beyond name
Deep womb'd within it, and can shoot strange vigours:
Men there have been who could so grimly look
That soldiers' hearts went out like candle flames
Before their eyes, and the blood perisht in them. --
But I -- could I do that? Would I not feel
The power in me if 'twas there? And yet
'Twere a child's game to what I have to do,
For days and days with sleepless faith oppress
And terrorise the demon sea. I think
A man might, as I saw my Master once,
Pass unharmed through a storm of men, yet fail
At this that lies before me: men are mind,
And mind can conquer mind; but how can it quell
The unappointed purpose of great waters? --
Well, say the sea is past: why, then, I have
My feet but on the threshold of my task,
To gospel India, -- my single heart
To seize into the order of its beat
All the strange blood of India, my brain
To lord the dark thought of that tann'd mankind! --
O, horrible those sweltry places are,
Where the sun comes so close, it makes the earth
Burn in a frenzy of breeding, -- smoke and flame
Of lives burning up from agoniz'd loam!
Those monstrous sappy jungles of clutcht growth,
What can such fearful increase have to do
With prospering bounty? A rage works in the ground,
Incurably, like frantic lechery,
Pouring its passion out in crops and spawns.
'Tis as the mighty spirit of life, that here
Walketh beautifully praising, glad of God,
Should, stepping on the poison'd Indian shore,
Breathing the Indian air of fire snd steams,
Fling herself into a craze of hideous dancing,
The green gown whipping her swift limbs, all her body
Writhen to speak inutterable desire,
Tormented by a glee of hating God.
Nay, it must be, to visit India,
That frantic pomp and hurrying forth of life,
As if a man should enter at unawares
The dreaming mind of Satan, gorgeously
Imagining his eternal hell of lust. --

They say the land is full of apes, which have
Their own gods and worship: how ghastly, this! --
That demons (for it must be so) should build,
In mockery of man's upward faith, the souls
Of monkeys, those lewd mammets of mankind,
Into a dreadful farce of adoration!
And flies! a land of flies! where the hot soil
Foul with ceaseless decay steams into flies!
So thick they pile themselves in the air above
Their meal of filth, they seem like breathing heaps
Of formless life mounded upon the earth;
And buzzing always like the pipes and strings
Of solemn music made for sorcerers. --
I abhor flies, -- to see them stare upon me
Out of their little faces of gibbous eyes;
To feel the dry cool skin of their bodies alight
Perching upon my lips! -- O yea, a dream,
A dream of impious obscene Satan, this
Monstrous frenzy of life, the Indian being!
And there are men in the dream! What men are they?
I've heard, naught relishes their brains so much
As to tie down a man and tease his flesh
Infamously, until a hundred pains
Hound the desiring life out of his body,
Filling his nerves with such a fearful zest
That the soul overstrained shatters beneath it.
Must I preach God to these murderous hearts?
I would my lot had fallen to go and dare
Death from the silent dealing of Northern cold! --

O, but I would face all these Indian fears,
The horror of the huge power of life,
The beasts all fierce and venomous, the men
With cruel souls, learned to invent pain,
All these and more, if I had any hope
That, braving them, Lord Christ prosper'd through me.
If Christ desired India, He had sent
The band of us, solder'd in one great purpose,
To strike His message through those dark vast tribes.
But one man! -- O surely it is folly,
And we misread the lot! One man, to thrust,
Even though in his soul the lamp was kindled
At God's own hands, one man's lit soul to thrust
The immense Indian darkness out of the world!
For human flesh there breeds as furiously
As the green things and the cattle; and it is all,
All this enormity of measureless folk,
Penn'd in a land so close to the devil's reign
The very apes have faith in him. -- No, no;
Impetuous brains mistake the signs of God
Too easily. God would not have me waste
My zeal for Him in this wild enterprise,
Of going alone to swarming India; -- one man,
One mortal voice, to charm those myriad ears
Away from the fiendish clamour of Indian gods,
One man preaching the truth against the huge
Bray of the gongs and horns of the Indian priests!
A cup of wine poured in the sea were not
More surely lost in the green and brackish depths,
Than the fire and fragrance of my doctrine poured
Into that multitudinous pond of men,
India. -- Shipman! Master of the ship! --
I have thought better of this journey; now
I find I am not meant to go.

Captain Not meant?

Thomas
I would say, I had forgotten Indian air
Is full of fevers; and my health is bad
For holding out against fever.

Captain As you please.
I keep your fare, though.

Thomas O,{ 'tis yours. -- Good sailing!

As he makes to depart, a Noble Stranger is seen approaching along the quay.

Captain
Well, here's a marvel: 'Tis a king, for sure!
'Twould take the taxes of a world to dress
A man in that silken gold, and all those gems.
What a flash the light makes of him, nay, he burns;
And he's here on the quay all by himself,
Not even a slave to fan him! -- Man, you're ailing!
You look like death; is it the falling sickness?
Or has the mere thought of the Indian journey
Made your marrow quail with a cold fever?

The Stranger (to the Captain)
You are the master of this ship?

Captain I am.

Stranger
This huddled man belongs to me: a slave
Escaped my service.

Captain Lord, I knew not that.
But you are in good time.

Stranger And was the slave
For putting out with you? Where are your bound?

Captain
To India. First he would sail, and then
Again he would not. But, my Lord, I swear
I never guesst he was a runaway.

Stranger
Well, he shall have his mind and go with you
To India: a good slave he is, but bears
A restless thought. He has slipt off before,
And vexes me still to be watching him.
We'll make a bargain of him.

Captain I, my Lord?
I have no need of slaves: I am too poor.

Stranger
For twenty silver pieces he is yours.

Captain
That's cheap, if he has a skill. Yes, there might be
Profit in him at that. Has he a trade?

Stranger
He is a carpenter.

Captain A carpenter!
Why, for a good one I'ld give all my purse.

Stranger
No, twenty silver pieces is the price;
Though 'tis a slave a king might joy to own.
I've taught him to imagine palaces
So high, and tower'd so nobly, they might seem
The marvelling of a God-delighted heart
Escaping into ecstasy; he knows,
Moreover, of a stuff so rare it makes
Smaragdus and the dragon-stone despised;
And yet the quarries whereof he is wise
Would yield enough to house the tribes of the world
In palaces of beautiful shining work.

Captain
Lo there! why, that is it: the carpenter
I am to bring is needed for to build
The king's new palace.

Stranger Yea? He is your man.

Captain
Come on, my man. I'll put your cunning heels
Where they'll not budge more than a shuffled inch.
My lord, if you'll bide with the rascal here
I'll get the irons ready. Here's your sum. --

Stranger
Now, Thomas, know thy sin. It was not fear;
Easily may a man crouch down for fear,
And yet rise up on firmer knees, and face
The hailing storm of the world with graver courage.
But prudence, prudence is the deadly sin,
And one that groweth deep into a life,
With hardening roots that clutch about the breast.
For this refuses faith in the unknown powers
Within man's nature; shrewdly bringeth all
Their inspiration of strange eagerness(
To a judgment bought by safe experience;
Narrows desire into the scope of thought.
But it is written in the heart of man,
Thou shalt no larger be than thy desire.
Thou must not therefore stoop thy spirit's sight
To pore only within the candle-gleam
Of conscious wit and reasonable brain;
But search into the sacred darkness lying
Outside thy knowledge of thyself, the vast
Measureless fate, full of the power of stars,
The outer noiseless heavens of thy soul.
Keep thy desire closed in the room of light
The labouring fires of thy mind have made,
And thou shalt find the vision of thy spirit
Pitifully dazzled to so shrunk a ken,
There are no spacious puissances about it.
But send desire often forth to scan
The immense night which is thy greater soul;
Knowing the possible, see thou try beyond it
Into impossible things, unlikely ends;
And thou shalt find thy knowledgeable desire
Grow large as all the regions of thy soul,
Whose firmament doth cover the whole of Being,
And of created purpose reach the ends.

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Pharsalia - Book IV: Caesar In Spain. War In The Adriatic Sea. Death Of Curio.

But in the distant regions of the earth
Fierce Caesar warring, though in fight he dealt
No baneful slaughter, hastened on the doom
To swift fulfillment. There on Magnus' side
Afranius and Petreius held command,
Who ruled alternate, and the rampart guard
Obeyed the standard of each chief in turn.
There with the Romans in the camp were joined
Asturians swift, and Vettons lightly armed,
And Celts who, exiled from their ancient home,
Had joined 'Iberus' to their former name.
Where the rich soil in gentle slope ascends
And forms a modest hill, Ilerda stands,
Founded in ancient days; beside her glides
Not least of western rivers, Sicoris
Of placid current, by a mighty arch
Of stone o'erspanned, which not the winter floods
Shall overwhelm. Upon a rock hard by
Was Magnus' camp; but Caesar's on a hill,
Rivalling the first; and in the midst a stream.
Here boundless plains are spread beyond the range
Of human vision; Cinga girds them in
With greedy waves; forbidden to contend
With tides of ocean; for that larger flood
Who names the land, Iberus, sweeps along
The lesser stream commingled with his own.

Guiltless of war, the first day saw the hosts
In long array confronted; standard rose
Opposing standard, numberless; yet none
Essayed attack, in shame of impious strife.
One day they gave their country and her laws.
But Caesar, when from heaven fell the night,
Drew round a hasty trench; his foremost rank
With close array concealing those who wrought.
Then with the morn he bids them seize the hill
Which parted from the camp Ilerda's walls,
And gave them safety. But in fear and shame
On rushed the foe and seized the vantage ground,
First in the onset. From the height they held
Their hopes of conquest; but to Caesar's men
Their hearts by courage stirred, and their good swords
Promised the victory. Burdened up the ridge
The soldier climbed, and from the opposing steep
But for his comrade's shield had fallen back;
None had the space to hurl the quivering lance
Upon the foeman: spear and pike made sure
The failing foothold, and the falchion's edge
Hewed out their upward path. But Caesar saw
Ruin impending, and he bade his horse
By circuit to the left, with shielded flank,
Hold back the foe. Thus gained his troops retreat,
For none pressed on them; and the victor chiefs,
Forced to withdrawal, gained the day in vain.

Henceforth the fitful changes of the year
Governed the fates and fashioned out the war.
For stubborn frost still lay upon the land,
And northern winds, controlling all the sky,
Prisoned the rain in clouds; the hills were nipped
With snow unmelted, and the lower plains
By frosts that fled before the rising sun;
And all the lands that stretched towards the sky
Which whelms the sinking stars, 'neath wintry heavens
Were parched and arid. But when Titan neared
The Ram, who, backward gazing on the stars,
Bore perished Helle, and the hours were held
In juster balance, and the day prevailed,
The earliest faded moon which in the vault
Hung with uncertain horn, from eastern winds
Received a fiery radiance; whose blasts
Forced Boreas back: and breaking on the mists
Within his regions, to the Occident
Drave all that shroud Arabia and the land
Of Ganges; all that or by Caurus borne
Bedim the Orient sky, or rising suns
Permit to gather; pitiless flamed the day
Behind them, while in front the wide expanse
Was driven; nor on mid earth sank the clouds
Though weighed with vapour. North and south alike
Were showerless, for on Calpe's rock alone
All moisture gathered; here at last, forbidden
To pass that sea by Zephyr's bounds contained,
And by the furthest belt of heaven, they pause,
In masses huge convolved; the widest breadth
Of murky air scarce holds them, which divides
Earth from the heavens; till pressed by weight of sky
In densest volume to the earth they pour
Their cataracts; no lightning could endure
Such storm unquenched: though oft athwart the gloom
Gleamed its pale fire. Meanwhile a watery arch
Scarce touched with colour, in imperfect shape
Embraced the sky and drank the ocean waves,
So rendering to the clouds their flood outpoured.

And now were thawed the Pyrenaean snows
Which Titan had not conquered; all the rocks
Were wet with melting ice; accustomed springs
Found not discharge; and from the very banks
Each stream received a torrent. Caesar's arms
Are shipwrecked on the field, his tottering camp
Swims on the rising flood; the trench is filled
With whirling waters; and the plain no more
Yields corn or kine; for those who forage seek,
Err from the hidden furrow. Famine knocks
(First herald of o'erwhelming ills to come),
Fierce at the door; and while no foe blockades
The soldier hungers; fortunes buy not now
The meanest measure; yet, alas! is found
The fasting peasant, who, in gain of gold,
Will sell his little all! And now the hills
Are seen no more; and rivers whelmed in one;
Beasts with their homes sweep downwards; and the tide
Repels the foaming torrent. Nor did night
Acknowledge Phoebus' rise, for all the sky
Felt her dominion and obscured its face,
And darkness joined with darkness. Thus doth lie
The lowest earth beneath the snowy zone
And never-ending winters, where the sky
Is starless ever, and no growth of herb
Sprouts from the frozen earth; but standing ice
Tempers the stars which in the middle zone
Kindle their flames. Thus, Father of the world,
And thou, trident-god who rul'st the sea
Second in place, Neptunus, load the air
With clouds continual; forbid the tide,
Once risen, to return: forced by thy waves
Let rivers backward run in different course,
Thy shores no longer reaching; and the earth,
Shaken, make way for floods. Let Rhine o'erflow
And Rhone their banks; let torrents spread afield
Unmeasured waters: melt Rhipaean snows:
Spread lakes upon the land, and seas profound,
And snatch the groaning world from civil war.

Thus for a little moment Fortune tried
Her darling son; then smiling to his part
Returned; and gained her pardon for the past
By greater gifts to come. For now the air
Had grown more clear, and Phoebus' warmer rays
Coped with the flood and scattered all the clouds
In fleecy masses; and the reddening east
Proclaimed the coming day; the land resumed
Its ancient marks; no more in middle air
The moisture hung, but from about the stars
Sank to the depths; the forest glad upreared
Its foliage; hills again emerged to view
And 'neath the warmth of day the plains grew firm.

When Sicoris kept his banks, the shallop light
Of hoary willow bark they build, which bent
On hides of oxen, bore the weight of man
And swam the torrent. Thus on sluggish Po
Venetians float; and on th' encircling sea
Are borne Britannia's nations; and when Nile
Fills all the land, are Memphis' thirsty reeds
Shaped into fragile boats that swim his waves.
The further bank thus gained, they haste to curve
The fallen forest, and to form the arch
By which imperious Sicoris shall be spanned.
Yet fearing he might rise in wrath anew,
Not on the nearest marge they placed the beams,
But in mid-field. Thus the presumptuous stream
They tame with chastisement, parting his flood
In devious channels out; and curb his pride.

Petreius, when he saw that Caesar's fates
Swept all before them, left Ilerda's steep,
His trust no longer in the Roman world;
And sought for strength amid those distant tribes,
Who, loving death, rush in upon the foe,
And win their conquests at the point of sword.
But in the dawn, when Caesar saw the camp
Stand empty on the hill, 'To arms!' he cried:
'Seek not the bridge nor ford: plunge in the stream
And breast the foaming torrent.' Then did hope
Of coming battle find for them a way
Which they had shunned in flight.

Their arms regained,
Their streaming limbs they cherished till the blood
Coursed in their veins; until the shadows fell
Short on the sward, and day was at the height.
Then dashed the horsemen on, and held the foe
'Twixt flight and battle. In the plain arose
Two rocky heights: from each a loftier ridge
Of hills ranged onwards, sheltering in their midst
A hollow vale, whose deep and winding paths
Were safe from warfare; which, when Caesar saw:
That if Petreius held, the war must pass
To lands remote by savage tribes possessed;
'Speed on,' he cried, 'and meet their flight in front;
Fierce be your frown and battle in your glance:
No coward's death be theirs; but as they flee
Plunge in their breasts the sword.' They seize the pass
And place their camp. Short was the span between
Th' opposing sentinels; with eager eyes
Undimmed by space, they gazed on brothers, sons,
Or friends and fathers; and within their souls
They grasped the impious horror of the war.
Yet for a little while no voice was heard,
For fear restrained; by waving blade alone
Or gesture, spake they; but their passion grew,
And broke all discipline; and soon they leaped
The hostile rampart; every hand outstretched
Embraced the hand of foeman, palm in palm;
One calls by name his neighhour, one his host,
Another with his schoolmate talks again
Of olden studies: he who in the camp
Found not a comrade, was no son of Rome.
Wet are their arms with tears, and sobs break in
Upon their kisses; each, unstained by blood,
Dreads what he might have done. Why beat thy breast?
Why, madman, weep? The guilt is thine alone
To do or to abstain. Dost fear the man
Who takes his title to be feared from thee?
When Caesar's trumpets sound the call to arms
Heed not the summons; when thou seest advance
His standards, halt. The civil Fury thus
Shall fold her wings; and in a private robe
Caesar shall love his kinsman.

Holy Peace
That sway'st the world; thou whose eternal bands
Sustain the order of material things,
Come, gentle Concord! these our times do now
For good or evil destiny control
The coming centuries! Ah, cruel fate!
Now have the people lost their cloak for crime:
Their hope of pardon. They have known their kin.
Woe for the respite given by the gods
Making more black the hideous guilt to come!

Now all was peaceful, and in either camp
Sweet converse held the soldiers; on the grass
They place the meal; on altars built of turf
Pour out libations from the mingled cup;
On mutual couch with stories of their fights,
They wile the sleepless hours in talk away;
'Where stood the ranks arrayed, from whose right hand
The quivering lance was sped:' and while they boast
Or challenge, deeds of prowess in the war,
Faith was renewed and trust. Thus made the fates
Their doom complete, and all the crimes to be;
Grew with their love.

For when Petreius knew
The treaties made; himself and all his camp
Sold to the foe; he stirs his guard to work
An impious slaughter: the defenceless foe
Flings headlong forth: and parts the fond embrace
By stroke of weapon and in streams of blood.
And thus in words of wrath, to stir the war:
'Of Rome forgetful, to your faith forsworn!
And could ye not with victory gained return,
Restorers of her liberty, to Rome?
Lose then! but losing call not Caesar lord.
While still your swords are yours, with blood to shed
In doubtful battle, while the fates are hid,
Will you like cravens to your master bear
Doomed eagles? Will you ask upon your knees
That Caesar deign to treat his slaves alike,
And spare, forsooth, like yours, your leaders' lives?
Nay! never shall our safety be the price
Of base betrayal! Not for boon of life
We wage a civil war. This name of peace
Drags us to slavery. Ne'er from depths of earth,
Fain to withdraw her wealth, should toiling men
Draw store of iron; ne'er entrench a town;
Ne'er should the war-horse dash into the fray
Nor fleet with turret bulwarks breast the main,
If freedom for dishonourable peace
Could thus be bought. The foe are pledged to fight
By their own guilt. But you, who still might hope
For pardon if defeated -- what can match
Your deep dishonour? Shame upon your peace.
Thou callest, Magnus, ignorant of fate,
From all the world thy powers, and dost entreat
Monarchs of distant realms, while haply here
We in our treaties bargain for thy life!'

Thus did he stir their minds and rouse anew
The love of impious battle. So when beasts
Grown strange to forests, long confined in dens,
Their fierceness lose, and learn to bear with man;
Once should they taste of blood, their thirsty jaws
Swell at the touch, and all the ancient rage
Comes back upon them till they hardly spare
Their keeper. Thus they rush on every crime:
And blows which dealt at chance, and in the night
Of battle, had brought hatred on the gods,
Though blindly struck, their recent vows of love
Made monstrous, horrid. Where they lately spread
The mutual couch and banquet, and embraced
Some new-found friend, now falls the fatal blow
Upon the self-same breast; and though at first
Groaning at the fell chance, they drew the sword;
Hate rises as they strike, the murderous arm
Confirms the doubtful will: with monstrous joy
Through the wild camp they smite their kinsmen down;
And carnage raged unchecked; and each man strove,
Proud of his crime, before his leader's face
To prove his shamelessness of guilt.

But thou,
Caesar, though losing of thy best, dost know
The gods do favour thee. Thessalian fields
Gave thee no better fortune, nor the waves
That lave Massilia; nor on Pharos' main
Didst thou so triumph. By this crime alone
Thou from this moment of the better cause
Shalt be the Captain.

Since the troops were stained
With foulest slaughter thus, their leaders shunned
All camps with Caesar's joined, and sought again
Ilerda's lofty walls; but Caesar's horse
Seized on the plain and forced them to the hills
Reluctant. There by steepest trench shut in,
He cuts them from the river, nor permits
Their circling ramparts to enclose a spring.

By this dread path Death trapped his captive prey.
Which when they knew, fierce anger filled their souls,
And took the place of fear. They slew the steeds
Now useless grown, and rushed upon their fate;
Hopeless of life and flight. But Caesar cried:
'Hold back your weapons, soldiers, from the foe,
Strike not the breast advancing; let the war
Cost me no blood; he falls not without price
Who with his life-blood challenges the fray.
Scorning their own base lives and hating light,
To Caesar's loss they rush upon their death,
Nor heed our blows. But let this frenzy pass,
This madman onset; let the wish for death
Die in their souls.' Thus to its embers shrank
The fire within when battle was denied,
And fainter grew their rage until the night
Drew down her starry veil and sank the sun.
Thus keener fights the gladiator whose wound
Is recent, while the blood within the veins
Still gives the sinews motion, ere the skin
Shrinks on the bones: but as the victor stands
His fatal thrust achieved, and points the blade
Unfaltering, watching for the end, there creeps
Torpor upon the limbs, the blood congeals
About the gash, more faintly throbs the heart,
And slowly fading, ebbs the life away.

Raving for water now they dig the plains
Seeking for hidden fountains, not with spade
And mattock only searching out the depths,
But with the sword; they hack the stony heights,
In shafts that reach the level of the plain.
No further flees from light the pallid wretch
Who tears the bowels of the earth for gold.
Yet neither riven stones revealed a spring,
Nor streamlet whispered from its hidden source;
To water trickled on the gravel bed,
Nor dripped within the cavern. Worn at length
With labour huge, they crawl to light again,
After such toil to fall to thirst and heat
The readier victims: this was all they won.
All food they loathe; and 'gainst their deadly thirst
Call famine to their aid. Damp clods of earth
They squeeze upon their mouths with straining hands.
Where'er on foulest mud some stagnant slime
Or moisture lies, though doomed to die they lap
With greedy tongues the draught their lips had loathed
Had life been theirs to choose. Beast-like they drain
The swollen udder, and where milk was not,
They sucked the life-blood forth. From herbs and boughs
Dripping with dew, from tender shoots they pressed,
Say, from the pith of trees, the juice within.

Happy the host that onward marching finds
Its savage enemy has fouled the wells
With murderous venom; had'st thou, Caesar, cast
The reeking filth of shambles in the stream,
And henbane dire and all the poisonous herbs
That lurk on Cretan slopes, still had they drunk
The fatal waters, rather than endure
Such lingering agony. Their bowels racked
With torments as of flame; the swollen tongue
And jaws now parched and rigid, and the veins;
Each laboured breath with anguish from the lungs
Enfeebled, moistureless, was scarcely drawn,
And scarce again returned; and yet agape,
Their panting mouths sucked in the nightly dew;
They watch for showers from heaven, and in despair
Gaze on the clouds, whence lately poured a flood.
Nor were their tortures less that Meroe
Saw not their sufferings, nor Cancer's zone,
Nor where the Garamantian turns the soil;
But Sicoris and Iberus at their feet,
Two mighty floods, but far beyond their reach,
Rolled down in measureless volume to the main.

But now their leaders yield; Afranius,
Vanquished, throws down his arms, and leads his troops,
Now hardly living, to the hostile camp
Before the victor's feet, and sues for peace.
Proud was his bearing, and despite of ills,
His mien majestic, of his triumphs past
Still mindful in disaster -- thus he stood,
Though suppliant for grace, a leader yet;
From fearless heart thus speaking: 'Had the fates
Thrown me before some base ignoble foe,
Not, Caesar, thee; still had this arm fought on
And snatched my death. Now if I suppliant ask,
'Tis that I value still the boon of life
Given by a worthy hand. No party ties
Roused us to arms against thee; when the war,
This civil war, broke out, it found us chiefs;
And with our former cause we kept the faith,
So long as brave men should. The fates' decree
No longer we withstand. Unto thy will
We yield the western tribes: the east is thine
And all the world lies open to thy march.
Be generous! blood nor sword nor wearied arm
Thy conquests bought. Thou hast not to forgive
Aught but thy victory won. Nor ask we much.
Give us repose; to lead in peace the life
Thou shalt bestow; suppose these armed lines
Are corpses prostrate on the field of war
Ne'er were it meet that thy victorious ranks

Should mix with ours, the vanquished. Destiny
Has run for us its course: one boon I beg;
Bid not the conquered conquer in thy train.'

Such were his words, and Caesar's gracious smile
Granted his prayer, remitting rights that war
Gives to the victor. To th' unguarded stream
The soldiers speed: prone on the bank they lie
And lap the flood or foul the crowded waves.
In many a burning throat the sudden draught
Poured in too copious, filled the empty veins
And choked the breath within: yet left unquenched
The burning pest which though their frames were full
Craved water for itself. Then, nerved once more,
Their strength returned. Oh, lavish luxury,
Contented never with the frugal meal!
Oh greed that searchest over land and sea
To furnish forth the banquet! Pride that joy'st
In sumptuous tables! learn what life requires,
How little nature needs! No ruddy juice
Pressed from the vintage in some famous year,
Whose consuls are forgotten, served in cups
With gold and jewels wrought restores the spark,
The failing spark, of life; but water pure
And simplest fruits of earth. The flood, the field
Suffice for nature. Ah! the weary lot
Of those who war! But these, their amour laid
Low at the victor's feet, with lightened breast,
Secure themselves, no longer dealing death,
Beset by care no more, seek out their homes.
What priceless gift in peace had they secured!
How grieved it now their souls to have poised the dart
With arm outstretched; to have felt their raving thirst;
And prayed the gods for victory in vain!
Nay, hard they think the victor's lot, for whom
A thousand risks and battles still remain;
If fortune never is to leave his side,
How often must he triumph! and how oft
Pour out his blood where'er great Caesar leads!
Happy, thrice happy, he who, when the world
Is nodding to its ruin, knows the spot
Where he himself shall, though in ruin, lie!
No trumpet call shall break his sleep again:
But in his humble home with faithful spouse
And sons unlettered Fortune leaves him free
From rage of party; for if life he owes
To Caesar, Magnus sometime was his lord.
Thus happy they alone live on apart,
Nor hope nor dread the event of civil war.

Not thus did Fortune upon Caesar smile
In all the parts of earth; but 'gainst his arms
Dared somewhat, where Salona's lengthy waste
Opposes Hadria, and Iadar warm
Meets with his waves the breezes of the west.
There brave Curectae dwell, whose island home
Is girded by the main; on whom relied
Antonius; and beleaguered by the foe,
Upon the furthest margin of the shore,
(Safe from all ills but famine) placed his camp.
But for his steeds the earth no forage gave,
Nor golden Ceres harvest; but his troops
Gnawed the dry herbage of the scanty turf
Within their rampart lines. But when they knew
That Baslus was on th' opposing shore
With friendly force, by novel mode of flight
They aim to reach him. Not the accustomed keel
They lay, nor build the ship, but shapeless rafts
Of timbers knit together, strong to bear
All ponderous weight; on empty casks beneath
By tightened chains made firm, in double rows
Supported; nor upon the deck were placed
The oarsmen, to the hostile dart exposed,
But in a hidden space, by beams concealed.
And thus the eye amazed beheld the mass
Move silent on its path across the sea,
By neither sail nor stalwart arm propelled.

They watch the main until the refluent waves
Ebb from the growing sands; then, on the tide
Receding, launch their vessel; thus she floats
With twin companions: over each uprose
With quivering battlements a lofty tower.
Octavius, guardian of Illyrian seas,
Restrained his swifter keels, and left the rafts
Free from attack, in hope of larger spoil
From fresh adventures; for the peaceful sea
May tempt them, and their goal in safety reached,
To dare a second voyage. Round the stag
Thus will the cunning hunter draw a line
Of tainted feathers poisoning the air;
Or spread the mesh, and muzzle in his grasp
The straining jaws of the Molossian hound,
And leash the Spartan pack; nor is the brake
Trusted to any dog but such as tracks
The scent with lowered nostrils, and refrains
From giving tongue the while; content to mark
By shaking leash the covert of the prey.

Ere long they manned the rafts in eager wish
To quit the island, when the latest glow
Still parted day from night. But Magnus' troops,
Cilician once, taught by their ancient art,
In fraudulent deceit had left the sea
To view unguarded; but with chains unseen
Fast to Illyrian shores, and hanging loose,
They blocked the outlet in the waves beneath.
The leading rafts passed safely, but the third
Hung in mid passage, and by ropes was hauled
Below o'ershadowing rocks. These hollowed out
In ponderous masses overhung the main,
And nodding seemed to fall: shadowed by trees
Dark lay the waves beneath. Hither the tide
Brings wreck and corpse, and, burying with the flow,
Restores them with the ebb: and when the caves
Belch forth the ocean, swirling billows fall
In boisterous surges back, as boils the tide
In that famed whirlpool on Sicilian shores.

Here, with Venetian settlers for its load,
Stood motionless the raft. Octavius' ships
Gathered around, while foemen on the land
Filled all the shore. But well the captain knew,
Volteius, how the secret fraud was planned,
And tried in vain with sword and steel to burst
The bands that held them; without hope he fights,
Uncertain where to avoid or front the foe.
Caught in this strait they strove as brave men should
Against opposing hosts; nor long the fight,
For fallen darkness brought a truce to arms.

Then to his men disheartened and in fear
Of coming fate Volteius, great of soul,
Thus spake in tones commanding: 'Free no more,
Save for this little night, consult ye now
In this last moment, soldiers, how to face
Your final fortunes. No man's life is short
Who can take thought for death, nor is your fame
Less than a conqueror's, if with breast advanced
Ye meet your destined doom. None know how long
The life that waits them. Summon your own fate,
And equal is your praise, whether the hand
Quench the last flicker of departing light,
Or shear the hope of years. But choice to die
Is thrust not on the mind -- we cannot flee;
See at our throats, e'en now, our kinsmen's swords.
Then choose for death; desire what fate decrees.
At least in war's blind cloud we shall not fall;
Nor when the flying weapons hide the day,
And slaughtered heaps of foemen load the field,
And death is common, and the brave man sinks
Unknown, inglorious. Us within this ship,
Seen of both friends and foes, the gods have placed;
Both land and sea and island cliffs shall bear,
From either shore, their witness to our death,
In which some great and memorable fame
Thou, Fortune, dost prepare. What glorious deeds
Of warlike heroism, of noble faith,
Time's annals show! All these shall we surpass.
True, Caesar, that to fall upon our swords
For thee is little; yet beleaguered thus,
With neither sons nor parents at our sides,
Shorn of the glory that we might have earned,

We give thee here the only pledge we may.
Yet let these hostile thousands fear the souls
That rage for battle and that welcome death,
And know us for invincible, and joy
That no more rafts were stayed. They'll offer terms
And tempt us with a base unhonoured life.
Would that, to give that death which shall be ours
The greater glory, they may bid us hope
For pardon and for life! lest when our swords
Are reeking with our hearts'-blood, they may say
This was despair of living. Great must be
The prowess of our end, if in the hosts
That fight his battles, Caesar is to mourn
This little handful lost. For me, should fate
Grant us retreat, -- myself would scorn to shun
The coming onset. Life I cast away,
The frenzy of the death that comes apace
Controls my being. Those alone whose end
Inspires them, know the happiness of death,
Which the high gods, that men may bear to live,
Keep hid from others.' Thus his noble words
Warmed his brave comrades' hearts; and who with fear
And tearful eyes had looked upon the Wain,
Turning his nightly course, now hoped for day,
Such precepts deep within them. Nor delayed
The sky to dip the stars below the main;
For Phoebus in the Twins his chariot drave
At noon near Cancer; and the hours of night
Were shortened by the Archer.

When day broke,
Lo! on the rocks the Istrians; while the sea
Swarmed with the galleys and their Grecian fleet
All armed for fight: but first the war was stayed
And terms proposed: life to the foe they thought
Would seem the sweeter, by delay of death
Thus granted. But the band devoted stood,
Proud of their promised end, and life forsworn,
And careless of the battle: no debate
Could shake their high resolve. In numbers few
'Gainst foemen numberless by land and sea,
They wage the desperate fight; then satiate
Turn from the foe. And first demanding death
Volteius bared his throat. 'What youth,' he cries,
'Dares strike me down, and through his captain's wounds
Attest his love for death?' Then through his side
Plunge blades uncounted on the moment drawn.
He praises all: but him who struck the first
Grateful, with dying strength, he does to death.
They rush together, and without a foe
Work all the guilt of battle. Thus of yore,
Rose up the glittering Dircaean band
From seed by Cadmus sown, and fought and died,
Dire omen for the brother kings of Thebes.
And so in Phasis' fields the sons of earth,
Born of the sleepless dragon, all inflamed
By magic incantations, with their blood
Deluged the monstrous furrow, while the Queen
Feared at the spells she wrought. Devoted thus
To death, they fall, yet in their death itself
Less valour show than in the fatal wounds
They take and give; for e'en the dying hand
Missed not a blow -- nor did the stroke alone
Inflict the wound, but rushing on the sword
Their throat or breast received it to the hilt;
And when by fatal chance or sire with son,
Or brothers met, yet with unfaltering weight
Down flashed the pitiless sword: this proved their love,
To give no second blow. Half living now
They dragged their mangled bodies to the side,
Whence flowed into the sea a crimson stream
Of slaughter. 'Twas their pleasure yet to see
The light they scorned; with haughty looks to scan
The faces of their victors, and to feel
The death approaching. But the raft was now
Piled up with dead; which, when the foemen saw,
Wondering at such a chief and such a deed,
They gave them burial. Never through the world
Of any brave achievement was the fame
More widely blazed. Yet meaner men, untaught
By such examples, see not that the hand
Which frees from slavery needs no valiant mind
To guide the stroke. But tyranny is feared
As dealing death; and Freedom's self is galled
By ruthless arms; and knows not that the sword
Was given for this, that none need live a slave.
Ah Death! would'st thou but let the coward live
And grant the brave alone the prize to die!

Nor less were Libyan fields ablaze with war.
For Curio rash from Lilybaean coast
Sailed with his fleet, and borne by gentle winds
Betwixt half-ruined Carthage, mighty once,
And Clupea's cliff, upon the well-known shore
His anchors dropped. First from the hoary sea
Remote, where Bagra slowly ploughs the sand,
He placed his camp: then sought the further hills
And mazy passages of cavernous rocks,
Antaeus' kingdom called. From ancient days
This name was given; and thus a swain retold
The story handed down from sire to son:
'Not yet exhausted by the giant brood,
Earth still another monster brought to birth,
In Libya's caverns: huger far was he,
More justly far her pride, than Briareus
With all his hundred hands, or Typhon fierce,
Or Tityos: 'twas in mercy to the gods
That not in Phlegra's fields Antaeus grew,
But here in Libya; to her offspring's strength,
Unmeasured, vast, she added yet this boon,
That when in weariness and labour spent
He touched his parent, fresh from her embrace
Renewed in rigour he should rise again.
In yonder cave he dwelt, 'neath yonder rock
He made his feast on lions slain in chase:
There slept he; not on skins of beasts, or leaves,
But fed his strength upon the naked earth.
Perished the Libyan hinds and those who came,
Brought here in ships, until he scorned at length
The earth that gave him strength, and on his feet
Invincible and with unaided might
Made all his victims. Last to Afric shores,
Drawn by the rumour of such carnage, came
Magnanimous Alcides, he who freed
Both land and sea of monsters. Down on earth
He threw his mantle of the lion's skin
Slain in Cleone; nor Antaeus less
Cast down the hide he wore. With shining oil,
As one who wrestles at Olympia's feast,
The hero rubs his limbs: the giant feared
Lest standing only on his parent earth
His strength might fail; and cast o'er all his bulk
Hot sand in handfuls. Thus with arms entwined
And grappling hands each seizes on his foe;
With hardened muscles straining at the neck
Long time in vain; for firm the sinewy throat
Stood column-like, nor yielded; so that each
Wondered to find his peer. Nor at the first
Divine Alcides put forth all his strength,
By lengthy struggle wearing out his foe,
Till chilly drops stood on Antaeas' limbs,
And toppled to its fall the stately throat,
And smitten by the hero's blows, the legs
Began to totter. Breast to breast they strive
To gain the vantage, till the victor's arms
Gird in the giant's yielding back and sides,
And squeeze his middle part: next 'twixt the thighs
He puts his feet, and forcing them apart,
Lays low the mighty monster limb by limb.
The dry earth drank his sweat, while in his veins
Warm ran the life-blood, and with strength refreshed,
The muscle swelled and all the joints grew firm,
And with his might restored, he breaks his bonds
And rives the arms of Hercules away.
Amazed the hero stood at such a strength.
Not thus he feared, though then unused to war,
That hydra fierce, which smitten in the marsh
Of Inachus, renewed its severed heads.
Again they join in fight, one with the powers
Which earth bestowed, the other with his own:
Nor did the hatred of his step-dame find
In all his conflicts greater room for hope.
She sees bedewed in sweat the neck and limbs
Which once had borne the mountain of the gods
Nor knew the toil: and when Antaeus felt
His foeman's arms close round him once again,
He flung his wearying limbs upon the sand
To rise with strength renewed; all that the earth,
Though labouring sore, could breathe into her son
She gave his frame. But Hercules at last
Saw how his parent gave the giant strength.
`Stand thou,' he cried; `no more upon the ground
Thou liest at thy will -- here must thou stay
Within mine arms constrained; against this breast,
Antaeus, shalt thou fall.' He lifted up
And held by middle girth the giant form,
Still struggling for the earth: but she no more
Could give her offspring rigour. Slowly came
The chill of death upon him, and 'twas long
Before the hero, of his victory sure,
Trusted the earth and laid the giant down.
Hence hoar antiquity that loves to prate
And wonders at herself, this region called
Antaeus' kingdom. But a greater name
It gained from Scipio, when he recalled
From Roman citadels the Punic chief.
Here was his camp; here can'st thou see the trace
Of that most famous rampart whence at length
Issued the Eagles of triumphant Rome.'

But Curio rejoiced, as though for him
The fortunes of the spot must hold in store
The fates of former chiefs: and on the place
Of happy augury placed his tents ill-starred,
Took from the hills their omens; and with force
Unequal, challenged his barbarian foe.

All Africa that bore the Roman yoke
Then lay 'neath Varus. He, though placing first
Trust in his Latian troops, from every side
And furthest regions, summons to his aid
The nations who confessed King Juba's rule.
Not any monarch over wider tracts
Held the dominion. From the western belt
Near Gades, Atlas parts their furthest bounds;
But from the southern, Hammon girds them in
Hard by the whirlpools; and their burning plains
Stretch forth unending 'neath the torrid zone,
In breadth its equal, till they reach at length
The shore of ocean upon either hand.
From all these regions tribes unnumbered flock
To Juba's standard: Moors of swarthy hue
As though from Ind; Numidian nomads there
And Nasamon's needy hordes; and those whose darts
Equal the flying arrows of the Mede:
Dark Garamantians leave their fervid home;
And those whose coursers unrestrained by bit
Or saddle, yet obey the rider's hand
Which wields the guiding switch: the hunter, too,
Who wanders forth, his home a fragile hut,
And blinds with flowing robe (if spear should fail)
The angry lion, monarch of the steppe.

Not eagerness alone to save the state
Stirred Juba's spirit: private hatred too
Roused him to war. For in the former year,
When Curio all things human and the gods
Polluted, he by tribune law essayed
To ravish Libya from the tyrant's sway,
And drive the monarch from his father's throne,
While giving Rome a king. To Juba thus,
Still smarting at the insult, came the war,
A welcome harvest for his crown retained.
These rumours Curio feared: nor had his troops
(Ta'en in Corfinium's hold) in waves of Rhine
Been tested, nor to Caesar in the wars
Had learned devotion: wavering in their faith,
Their second chief they doubt, their first betrayed.

Yet when the general saw the spirit of fear
Creep through his camp, and discipline to fail,
And sentinels desert their guard at night,
Thus in his fear he spake: 'By daring much
Fear is disguised; let me be first in arms,
And bid my soldiers to the plain descend,
While still my soldiers. Idle days breed doubt.
By fight forestall the plot. Soon as the thirst
Of bloodshed fills the mind, and eager hands
Grip firm the sword, and pressed upon the brow
The helm brings valour to the failing heart --
Who cares to measure leaders' merits then?
Who weighs the cause? With whom the soldier stands,
For him he fights; as at the fatal show
No ancient grudge the gladiator's arm
Nerves for the combat, yet as he shall strike
He hates his rival.' Thinking thus he leads
His troops in battle order to the plain.
Then victory on his arms deceptive shone
Hiding the ills to come: for from the field
Driving the hostile host with sword and spear,
He smote them till their camp opposed his way.
But after Varus' rout, unseen till then,
All eager for the glory to be his,
By stealth came Juba: silent was his march;
His only fear lest rumour should forestall
His coming victory. In pretended war
He sends Sabura forth with scanty force
To tempt the enemy, while in hollow vale
He holds the armies of his realm unseen.
Thus doth the sly ichneumon with his tail
Waving, allure the serpent of the Nile
Drawn to the moving shadow: he, with head
Turned sideways, watches till the victim glides
Within his reach, then seizes by the throat
Behind the deadly fangs: forth from its seat
Balked of its purpose, through the brimming jaws
Gushes a tide of poison. Fortune smiled
On Juba's stratagem; for Curio
(The hidden forces of the foe unknown)
Sent forth his horse by night without the camp
To scour more distant regions. He himself
At earliest peep of dawn bids carry forth
His standards; heeding not his captains' prayer
Urged on his ears: 'Beware of Punic fraud,
The craft that taints a Carthaginian war.'
Hung over him the doom of coming death
And gave the youth to fate; and civil strife
Dragged down its author.

On the lofty tops
Where broke the hills abruptly to their fall
He ranks his troops and sees the foe afar:
Who still deceiving, simulated flight,
Till from the height in loose unordered lines
The Roman forces streamed upon the plain,
In thought that Juba fled. Then first was known
The treacherous fraud: for swift Numidian horse
On every side surround them: leader, men --
All see their fate in one dread moment come.
No coward flees, no warrior bravely strides
To meet the battle: nay, the trumpet call
Stirs not the charger with resounding hoof
To spurn the rock, nor galling bit compels
To champ in eagerness; nor toss his mane
And prick the ear, nor prancing with his feet
To claim his share of combat. Tired, the neck
Droops downwards: smoking sweat bedews the limbs:
Dry from the squalid mouth protrudes the tongue,
Hoarse, raucous panting issues from their chests;
Their flanks distend: and every curb is dry
With bloody foam; the ruthless sword alone
Could move them onward, powerless even then
To charge; but giving to the hostile dart
A nearer victim. But when the Afric horse
First made their onset, loud beneath their hoofs
Rang the wide plain, and rose the dust in air
As by some Thracian whirlwind stirred; and veiled
The heavens in darkness. When on Curio's host
The tempest burst, each footman in the rank
Stood there to meet his fate -- no doubtful end
Hung in the balance: destiny proclaimed
Death to them all. No conflict hand to hand
Was granted them, by lances thrown from far
And sidelong sword-thrusts slain: nor wounds alone,
But clouds of weapons falling from the air
By weight of iron o'erwhelmed them. Still drew in
The straightening circle, for the first pressed back
On those behind; did any shun the foe,
Seeking the inner safety of the ring,
He needs must perish by his comrades' swords.
And as the front rank fell, still narrower grew
The close crushed phalanx, till to raise their swords
Space was denied. Still close and closer forced
The armed breasts against each other driven
Pressed out the life. Thus not upon a scene
Such as their fortune promised, gazed the foe.
No tide of blood was there to glut their eyes,
No members lopped asunder, though the earth so
Was piled with corpses; for each Roman stood
In death upright against his comrade dead.

Let cruel Carthage rouse her hated ghosts
By this fell offering; let the Punic shades,
And bloody Hannibal, from this defeat
Receive atonement: yet 'twas shame, ye gods,
That Libya gained not for herself the day;
And that our Romans on that field should die
To save Pompeius and the Senate's cause.

Now was the dust laid low by streams of blood,
And Curio, knowing that his host was slain.
Chose not to live; and, as a brave man should.
He rushed upon the heap, and fighting fell.

In vain with turbid speech hast thou profaned
The pulpit of the forum: waved in vain
From that proud citadel the tribune flag:
And armed the people, and the Senate's rights
Betraying, hast compelled this impious war
Betwixt the rival kinsmen. Low thou liest
Before Pharsalus' fight, and from thine eyes
Is hid the war. 'Tis thus to suffering Rome,
For arms seditious and for civil strife
Ye mighty make atonement with your blood.
Happy were Rome and all her sons indeed,
Did but the gods as rigidly protect
As they avenge, her violated laws!
There Curio lies; untombed his noble corpse,
Torn by the vultures of the Libyan wastes.
Yet shall we, since such merit, though unsung,
Lives by its own imperishable fame,
Give thee thy meed of praise. Rome never bore
Another son, who, had he right pursued,
Had so adorned her laws; but soon the times,
Their luxury, corruption, and the curse
Of too abundant wealth, in transverse stream
Swept o'er his wavering mind: and Curio changed,
Turned with his change the scale of human things.
True, mighty Sulla, cruel Marius,
And bloody Cinna, and the long descent
Of Caesar and of Caesar's house became
Lords of our lives. But who had power like him?
All others bought the state: he sold alone.

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One Beautiful Flower Among The Lot

Your beauty is like one beautiful flower among the lot!
But to be bountiful is like the muse of your love;
So i will always be around to kiss your lips.

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The Duty of Man

Fruits and honey,
The recipe of your love will bath my nakedness;
And like the joy of the peace of your mind!
But this whole love is like the duty of man.

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Ocean and The Mind Of Man Are Both Alike

Ocean and the mind of man are both alike:
Under the ocean's bottom lies
the destructive fire, vadvaagni;
And in the breast of man doth rage
the fire of wrath.
When the fire breaks out, its flames
of angry, abusive words,
sear and scorch and burn.
But if one ponders unruffled and calm,
and weighs the words, though angry they be,
They have no substance, no, nor weight.

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The ocean said to me once,

The ocean said to me once,
"Look!
Yonder on the shore
Is a woman, weeping.
I have watched her.
Go you and tell her this --
Her lover I have laid
In cool green hall.
There is wealth of golden sand
And pillars, coral-red;
Two white fish stand guard at his bier.

"Tell her this
And more --
That the king of the seas
Weeps too, old, helpless man.
The bustling fates
Heap his hands with corpses
Until he stands like a child
With a surplus of toys."

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Emily Dickinson

The Fingers of the Light

1000

The Fingers of the Light
Tapped soft upon the Town
With "I am great and cannot wait
So therefore let me in."

"You're soon," the Town replied,
"My Faces are asleep—
But swear, and I will let you by,
You will not wake them up."

The easy Guest complied
But once within the Town
The transport of His Countenance
Awakened Maid and Man

The Neighbor in the Pool
Upon His Hip elate
Made loud obeisance and the Gnat
Held up His Cup for Light.

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The world is all but a circus

The world is all but a circus
~
The world is all but a circus
And we the animals caged
To be paraded for our entertainment
The show that is the biggest of all
Roll up, roll up, bare witness
To the performance of man and time
See the beautiful maidens dance
In all their colourful glories
While the lions tamed to bow
The king of the jungle no more
The humble clown who makes us laugh
Paints his mask and wears it well
The ring master smiles, laughs with glee
While blind we follow his lead
The world is all but a circus
Roll up, roll up bare witness

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Where Is The Poet That Can Inspire Once Again?

WHERE IS THE POET THAT CAN INSPIRE ONCE AGAIN?

Where is the poet that can inspire once again?
I have heard them all so many times-
Even the great are only familiar lines -

I wait for something different
From another dimension-

But it is not they who are tired
Or limited-
You can find worlds in them if you reread again-

It is I who have lost my soul for Poetry
And not only for Poetry-

It is I who am old and tired –

There can be no new poet and no new poem and no new poetry
When I have gone to the other side
Where listening and hearing are impossible.

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William Shakespeare

Sonnet 154: The little Love-god lying once asleep

The little love god lying once asleep
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs that vowed chaste life to keep
Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand,
The fairest votary took up that fire
Which many legions of true hearts had warmed,
And so the general of hot desire
Was sleeping by a virgin hand disarmed.
This brand she quenched in a cool well by,
Which from Love's fire took heat perpetual,
Growing a bath and healthful remedy,
For men discased; but I, my mistress' thrall,
Came there for cure and this by that I prove,
Love's fire heats water, water cools not love.

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Weak Is The Will Of Man, His Judgement Blind

'WEAK is the will of Man, his judgment blind;
'Remembrance persecutes, and Hope betrays;
'Heavy is woe;--and joy, for human-kind,
'A mournful thing, so transient is the blaze!'
Thus might 'he' paint our lot of mortal days
Who wants the glorious faculty assigned
To elevate the more-than-reasoning Mind,
And colour life's dark cloud with orient rays.
Imagination is that sacred power,
Imagination lofty and refined;
'Tis hers to pluck the amaranthine flower
Of Faith, and round the Sufferer's temples bind
Wreaths that endure affliction's heaviest shower,
And do not shrink from sorrow's keenest wind.

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