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Of-course we did, but we didn't reply because we knew once this leaks the others will scatter, so in the few days we moved quickly before the press got hold of it. The press did get hold of it a few days later, we nabbed, we were able to get 15, the others got away.

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This Is The Army Mister Jones

sheet music version:]
A bunch of frightened rookies were list'ning filled with awe
They listened while a sergeant was laying down the law
They stood there at attention, their faces turning red
The sergeant looked them over and this is what he said
This is the Army, Mister Jones!
No private rooms or telephones
You had your breakfast in bed before
But you won't have it there any more
This is the Army, Mister Green!
We like the barracks nice and clean
You had a housemaid to clean your floor
But she won't help you out any more
Do what the buglers command
They're in the Army and not in a band
This is the Army, Mister Brown!
You and your baby went to town
She had you worried but this is war
And she won't worry you anymore

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My background has been very helpful for this experience. But everyone was so accommodating because they knew it's not the most comfortable position to be the new kid.

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The Captain and the Mermaids

I SING a legend of the sea,
So hard-a-port upon your lee!
A ship on starboard tack!
She's bound upon a private cruise -
(This is the kind of spice I use
To give a salt-sea smack).

Behold, on every afternoon
(Save in a gale or strong Monsoon)
Great CAPTAIN CAPEL CLEGGS
(Great morally, though rather short)
Sat at an open weather-port
And aired his shapely legs.

And Mermaids hung around in flocks,
On cable chains and distant rocks,
To gaze upon those limbs;
For legs like those, of flesh and bone,
Are things "not generally known"
To any Merman TIMBS.

But Mermen didn't seem to care
Much time (as far as I'm aware)
With CLEGGS'S legs to spend;
Though Mermaids swam around all day
And gazed, exclaiming, "THAT'S the way
A gentleman should end!

"A pair of legs with well-cut knees,
And calves and ankles such as these
Which we in rapture hail,
Are far more eloquent, it's clear
(When clothed in silk and kerseymere),
Than any nasty tail."

And CLEGGS - a worthy kind old boy -
Rejoiced to add to others' joy,
And, when the day was dry,
Because it pleased the lookers-on,
He sat from morn till night - though con-
Stitutionally shy.

At first the Mermen laughed, "Pooh! pooh!"
But finally they jealous grew,
And sounded loud recalls;
But vainly. So these fishy males
Declared they too would clothe their tails
In silken hose and smalls.

They set to work, these water-men,
And made their nether robes - but when
They drew with dainty touch
The kerseymere upon their tails,
They found it scraped against their scales,
And hurt them very much.

The silk, besides, with which they chose
To deck their tails by way of hose
(They never thought of shoon),
For such a use was much too thin, -
It tore against the caudal fin,
And "went in ladders" soon.

So they designed another plan:
They sent their most seductive man
This note to him to show -
"Our Monarch sends to CAPTAIN CLEGGS
His humble compliments, and begs
He'll join him down below;

"We've pleasant homes below the sea -
Besides, if CAPTAIN CLEGGS should be
(As our advices say)
A judge of Mermaids, he will find
Our lady-fish of every kind
Inspection will repay."

Good CAPEL sent a kind reply,
For CAPEL thought he could descry
An admirable plan
To study all their ways and laws -
(But not their lady-fish, because
He was a married man).

The Merman sank - the Captain too
Jumped overboard, and dropped from view
Like stone from catapult;
And when he reached the Merman's lair,
He certainly was welcomed there,
But, ah! with what result?

They didn't let him learn their law,
Or make a note of what he saw,
Or interesting mem.:
The lady-fish he couldn't find,
But that, of course, he didn't mind -
He didn't come for them.

For though, when CAPTAIN CAPEL sank,
The Mermen drawn in double rank
Gave him a hearty hail,
Yet when secure of CAPTAIN CLEGGS,
They cut off both his lovely legs,
And gave him SUCH a tail!

When CAPTAIN CLEGGS returned aboard,
His blithesome crew convulsive roar'd,
To see him altered so.
The Admiralty did insist
That he upon the Half-pay List
Immediately should go.

In vain declared the poor old salt,
"It's my misfortune - not my fault,"
With tear and trembling lip -
In vain poor CAPEL begged and begged.
"A man must be completely legged
Who rules a British ship."

So spake the stern First Lord aloud -
He was a wag, though very proud,
And much rejoiced to say,
"You're only half a captain now -
And so, my worthy friend, I vow
You'll only get half-pay!"

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Rusty Confidences

She had the rusty confidence of an older woman
who had fixed her mirror at 23
no later images allowed
as she took in my face
and allowed
those beautiful eyes of hers
to wander down and over me
lingering longer than a lady's eyes should
which made them into bedroom eyes
which she did not seek to conceal
looking up to see me looking into those eyes
having their forbidden views
but she didn't mind that I knew and understood
their meanings and intents
while I could see she could see
me the younger man
learning lessons from her
and she guessed
needed what she had to teach,
if I could get pass her lined face
and see with her 23 year old eyes
behind the mirror time had obscured,
hoping I could see that which would make me wiser than my years
and I was
because need recognizes needs
irrespective of the years
and facial lines
drawn down from time
did not obscure that beating heart
I could hear thumping loud
behind the blue sheer blouse she wore
elbows on the table
her breasts lying there
like the evenings two course meal
waiting to be consumed
or petted like puppies
appreciated because they
shined still after all these years.

Her eyes followed my eyes and she watched me watching them
shifting wanting to wring appreciation from me,
impatient to give the two be given their just due
parts of her she still liked and loved
almost like mementos from her youth which
had remained the same and had not betrayed
like those lines in her face
and I was to corroborate and vindicate that view
with just a lingering glance and willowy simile
which I gave with true admiration and kindness mixed
because she had asked me to with her eyes.

A tear formed there
and a silent thank you flowed across that table
and we both understood
kindness, appreciation and need
met and married there
rolling back time
if only for an instant.

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Wat did that feeling play'd role in my first love? *Possessiveness* and *emotional breakdown

Water,

As long as you keep your hand gently open and allow it to remain there,

It will never leave your palms, saluting your gentle care.

However, if you attempt to close your fingers round it and try to posses it,

It will spill through the first cracks it finds. These few lines surely arrests some artful substance in it.

A pulsating organ never lets her loved one's brown eyes roam..

His every second, she wanted to own.

He is Mine, all mine, her heart always cried.

She was ready to kill every girl who stood her boy's aside.

She wanted to possess him rather like a non living gem.

She even started hating all the roots who supported his stem.

It became a communal nature of her heart to fear a potential betrayal of loosing a loving admirer.

So, she forced her physical body to get personified as an enquirer.

Gradually, her ears were occupied with some 'Storming' rumours.

She was dumb enough to interpret that she was being pranked by some homicidal envious loosers.

Depth of her 'love is true ' feeling started getting sliced away.

Intense dislike, aversion, hatred and such depressing feelings kissed her day.

Bad luck grounded her life as her exams were dancing around and she was busy creating useless fears.

She became frustrated and faster than it seemed, she started shedding tears.

She felt cheated and started blaming her loving half.

Those bloody jealous rumour spreaders ultimately got an awesome reason to laugh.

Her loved one was practical, so he didn't accept any blame and left her unaccompanied.

He never thought inside her love, someone had planted a revengeful seed.

So, he was cool in his life's approach but his girlfriend had some devastating plans.

She barked aloud at the world that away from her life his lover ran..

After three days, both of them had an examination of life time.

and woefully he heard that everyone's blaming him for a heart break crime.

He broke his life in anger, even lost his control over his studies.

Innocent enough to craft his pain, he started bashing all his buddies.

Exam ended, and two eyes rained.

As the couple's paper went awful, their life was drained.

They broke up, both crying there heart out.

A sweet love story was destroyed, without a doubt.

I write this poem, not so far I see.

As the girl was my girlfriend and the guy was sadly 'Me'.

-Nikhil Chandwani.

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The Memories of the Greater Good

Get out of the way.
Just let me take the bullet for you.
One mistake
That is all it takes.
Then it all over.
Waking up sober.
The reality.
Get ready.
Hold on to my cape.
Let me give you my escape.
Go before it's to late.
Don't look back.
Their is not time to second guess.
Just react.

The rain washes all these thoughts away.
I was just looking into another photograph in a my album.
The memories have each their own little sound.
As a bird chips in a melody.
So do these great harmony.

They're you were.
Sitting by the pool all alone.
So I just went right up and started talking to you.
Breaking the ice with a smile.
I had no since of style.
The shyness I fought through.
The fog moved.
So focused on getting to the bottom of what was wrong.
What was this pretty attractive young girl moping around for.
Then I met him.
And It all became so clear.
The face of many beings.
Each a different narcissist.
A falling out, the had already been spread.
It started to grow.
It started to sprout.
Peeking it ugly head out of the ground.

The rain washes all these thoughts away.
I was just looking into another photograph in a my album.
The memories have each their own little sound.
As a bird chips in a melody.
So do these great harmony.

It was too late things were put into motion.
With love as my devotion.
I made a sacrifice, the first of many.
I took a dive and let him beat the hell out of me.
For I was smart enough to know what would happen next.
His evil intentions shown.
No longer was he in control.
The spell had been broken.
He hated me, he tried to destroy me many times.
Personally, mentally, objectively.
I took his girl right before his eyes.
It didn't last long but it didn't matter because it was to protect her.
It was to make her stronger..
She would no longer believe any of his lies.

The rain washes all these thoughts away.
I was just looking into another photograph in a my album.
The memories have each their own little sound.
As a bird chips in a melody.
So do these great harmony.

He could no longer hide behind his ego.
He was exposed.
That was the first of many stabs and jabs I took at him.
Mortal enemies.
By his character.
The code he live by.
They say judge not, unless you want to be judged.
But the things he did I couldn't just look the other way.
I should have left someone else be the hero of the day.
Then maybe she would be with me.
But for the greater good was my destiny.

The rain washes all these thoughts away.
I was just looking into another photograph in a my album.
The memories have each their own little sound.
As a bird chips in a melody.
So do these great harmony.

I already knew it before I intervened.
Even now I don't think I would have changed a thing.
For there was happiness in which I brought.
Their was never another a broken smile from her.
Not like that one.
Always laughing, always looking to be entertained.
Seeking the next best thing.
Loneliness would never settle well.
And this was her down fall.
Not by him but other men.
Quick to jump on the band wagon.
She was damaged, by a blonde hair, blue eyed demon.
So pretty on the outside.
Some say he looked liked johnny depp.
I don't see the resemblance.
But just maybe.

The rain washes all these thoughts away.
I was just looking into another photograph in a my album.
The memories have each their own little sound.
As a bird chips in a melody.
So do these great harmony.

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One Hundred and Three

With the frame of a man, and the face of a boy, and a manner strangely wild,
And the great, wide, wondering, innocent eyes of a silent-suffering child;
With his hideous dress and his heavy boots, he drags to Eternity—
And the Warder says, in a softened tone: ‘Keep step, One Hundred and Three.’
’Tis a ghastly travesty of drill—or a ghastly farce of work—
But One Hundred and Three, he catches step with a start, a shuffle and jerk.
’Tis slow starvation in separate cells, and a widow’s son is he,
And the widow, she drank before he was born—(Keep step, One Hundred and Three!)

They shut a man in the four-by-eight, with a six-inch slit for air,
Twenty-three hours of the twenty-four, to brood on his virtues there.
And the dead stone walls and the iron door close in as an iron band
On eyes that followed the distant haze far out on the level land.

Bread and water and hominy, and a scrag of meat and a spud,
A Bible and thin flat book of rules, to cool a strong man’s blood;
They take the spoon from the cell at night—and a stranger might think it odd;
But a man might sharpen it on the floor, and go to his own Great God.

One Hundred and Three, it is hard to believe that you saddled your horse at dawn;
There were girls that rode through the bush at eve, and girls who lolled on the lawn.
There were picnic parties in sunny bays, and ships on the shining sea;
There were foreign ports in the glorious days—(Hold up, One Hundred and Three!)

A man came out at exercise time from one of the cells to-day:
’Twas the ghastly spectre of one I knew, and I thought he was far away;
We dared not speak, but he signed ‘Farewell—fare—well,’ and I knew by this
And the number stamped on his clothes (not sewn) that a heavy sentence was his.

Where five men do the work of a boy, with warders not to see,
It is sad and bad and uselessly mad, it is ugly as it can be,
From the flower-beds laid to fit the gaol, in circle and line absurd,
To the gilded weathercock on the church, agape like a strangled bird.

Agape like a strangled bird in the sun, and I wonder what he could see?
The Fleet come in, and the Fleet go out? (Hold up, One Hundred and Three!)
The glorious sea, and the bays and Bush, and the distant mountains blue
(Keep step, keep step, One Hundred and Three, for my lines are halting too)

The great, round church with its volume of sound, where we dare not turn our eyes—
They take us there from our separate hells to sing of Paradise.
In all the creeds there is hope and doubt, but of this there is no doubt:
That starving prisoners faint in church, and the warders carry them out.

They double-lock at four o’clock and the warders leave their keys,
And the Governor strolls with a friend at eve through his stone conservatories;
Their window slits are like idiot mouths with square stone chins adrop,
And the weather-stains for the dribble, and the dead flat foreheads atop.

No light save the lights in the yard beneath the clustering lights of the Lord—
And the lights turned in to the window slits of the Observation Ward.
(They eat their meat with their fingers there in a madness starved and dull—
Oh! the padded cells and the “O—b—s” are nearly always full.)

Rules, regulations—red-tape and rules; all and alike they bind:
Under ‘separate treatment ’ place the deaf; in the dark cell shut the blind!
And somewhere down in his sandstone tomb, with never a word to save,
One Hundred and Three is keeping step, as he’ll keep it to his grave.

The press is printing its smug, smug lies, and paying its shameful debt—
It speaks of the comforts that prisoners have, and ‘holidays’ prisoners get.
The visitors come with their smug, smug smiles through the gaol on a working day,
And the public hears with its large, large ears what authorities have to say.

They lay their fingers on well-hosed walls, and they tread on the polished floor;
They peep in the generous shining cans with their ration Number Four.
And the visitors go with their smug, smug smiles; the reporters’ work is done;
Stand up! my men, who have done your time on ration Number One!

Speak up, my men! I was never the man to keep my own bed warm,
I have jogged with you round in the Fools’ Parade, and I’ve worn your uniform;
I’ve seen you live, and I’ve seen you die, and I’ve seen your reason fail—
I’ve smuggled tobacco and loosened my tongue—and I’ve been punished in gaol.

Ay! clang the spoon on the iron floor, and shove in the bread with your toe,
And shut with a bang the iron door, and clank the bolt—just so,
With an ignorant oath for a last good-night—or the voice of a filthy thought.
By the Gipsy Blood you have caught a man you’ll be sorry that ever you caught.

He shall be buried alive without meat, for a day and a night unheard
If he speak to a fellow prisoner, though he die for want of a word.
He shall be punished, and he shall be starved, and he shall in darkness rot,
He shall be murdered body and soul—and God said, ‘Thou shalt not!’

I’ve seen the remand-yard men go out, by the subway out of the yard—
And I’ve seen them come in with a foolish grin and a sentence of Three Years Hard.
They send a half-starved man to the court, where the hearts of men they carve—
Then feed him up in the hospital to give him the strength to starve.

You get the gaol-dust in your throat, in your skin the dead gaol-white;
You get the gaol-whine in your voice and in every letter you write.
And in your eyes comes the bright gaol-light—not the glare of the world’s distraught,
Not the hunted look, nor the guilty look, but the awful look of the Caught.

There was one I met—’twas a mate of mine—in a gaol that is known to us;
He died—and they said it was ‘heart disease’; but he died for want of a truss.
I’ve knelt at the head of the pallid dead, where the living dead were we,
And I’ve closed the yielding lids with my thumbs—(Keep step, One Hundred and Three!)

A criminal face is rare in gaol, where all things else are ripe—
It is higher up in the social scale that you’ll find the criminal type.
But the kindness of man to man is great when penned in a sandstone pen—
The public call us the ‘criminal class,’ but the warders call us ‘the men.’

The brute is a brute, and a kind man kind, and the strong heart does not fail—
A crawler’s a crawler everywhere, but a man is a man in gaol!
For forced ‘desertion’ or drunkenness, or a law’s illegal debt,
While never a man who was a man was ‘reformed’ by punishment yet.

The champagne lady comes home from the course in charge of the criminal swell—
They carry her in from the motor car to the lift in the Grand Hotel.
But armed with the savage Habituals Act they are waiting for you and me,
And the drums, they are beating loud and near. (Keep step, One Hundred and Three!)

The clever scoundrels are all outside, and the moneyless mugs in gaol—
Men do twelve months for a mad wife’s lies or Life for a strumpet’s tale.
If the people knew what the warders know, and felt as the prisoners feel—
If the people knew, they would storm their gaols as they stormed the old Bastile.

And the cackling, screaming half-human hens who were never mothers nor wives
Would send their sisters to such a hell for the term of their natural lives,
Where laws are made in a Female Fit in the Land of the Crazy Fad,
And drunkards in judgment on drunkards sit and the mad condemn the mad.

The High Church service swells and swells where the tinted Christs look down—
It is easy to see who is weary and faint and weareth the thorny crown.
There are swift-made signs that are not to God, and they march us Hellward then.
It is hard to believe that we knelt as boys to ‘for ever and ever, Amen. ’

Warders and prisoners all alike in a dead rot dry and slow—
The author must not write for his own, and the tailor must not sew.
The billet-bound officers dare not speak and discharged men dare not tell
Though many and many an innocent man must brood in this barren hell.

We are most of us criminal, most of us mad, and we do what we can do.
(Remember the Observation Ward and Number Forty-Two.)
There are eyes that see through stone and iron, though the rest of the world be blind—
We are prisoners all in God’s Great Gaol, but the Governor, He is kind.

They crave for sunlight, they crave for meat, they crave for the might-have-been,
But the cruellest thing in the walls of a gaol is the craving for nicotine.
Yet the spirit of Christ is everywhere where the heart of a man can dwell,
It comes like tobacco in prison—or like news to the separate cell.


They have smuggled him out to the Hospital with no one to tell the tale,
But it’s little the doctors and nurses can do for the patient from Starvinghurst Gaol.
He cannot swallow the food they bring, for a gaol-starved man is he,
And the blanket and screen are ready to draw—(Keep step, One Hundred and Three!)
‘What were you doing, One Hundred and Three?’ and the answer is ‘Three years hard,
And a month to go’—and the whisper is low: ‘There’s the moonlight—out in the yard.’
The drums, they are beating far and low, and the footstep’s light and free,
And the angels are whispering over his bed: ‘Keep step, One Hundred and Three!’

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Amy Lowell

Off the Turnpike

Good ev'nin', Mis' Priest.
I jest stepped in to tell you Good-bye.
Yes, it's all over.
All my things is packed
An' every last one o' them boxes
Is on Bradley's team
Bein' hauled over to th' depot.
No, I ain't goin' back agin.
I'm stoppin' over to French's fer to-night,
And goin' down first train in th' mornin'.
Yes, it do seem kinder queer
Not to be goin' to see Cherry's Orchard no more,
But Land Sakes! When a change's comin',
Why, I al'ays say it can't come too quick.
Now, that's real kind o' you,
Your doughnuts is always so tasty.
Yes, I'm goin' to Chicago,
To my niece,
She's married to a fine man, hardware business,
An' doin' real well, she tells me.
Lizzie's be'n at me to go out ther for the longest while.
She ain't got no kith nor kin to Chicago, you know
She's rented me a real nice little flat,
Same house as hers,
An' I'm goin' to try that city livin' folks say's so pleasant.
Oh, yes, he was real generous,
Paid me a sight o' money fer the Orchard;
I told him 'twouldn't yield nothin' but stones,
But he ain't farmin' it.
Lor', no, Mis' Priest,
He's jest took it to set and look at the view.
Mebbe he wouldn't be so stuck on the view
Ef he'd seed it every mornin' and night for forty year
Same's as I have.
I dessay it's pretty enough,
But it's so pressed into me
I c'n see't with my eyes shut.
No. I ain't cold, Mis' Priest,
Don't shut th' door.
I'll be all right in a minit.
But I ain't a mite sorry to leave that view.
Well, mebbe 'tis queer to feel so,
An' mebbe 'taint.
My! But that tea's revivin'.
Old things ain't always pleasant things, Mis' Priest.
No, no, I don't cal'late on comin' back,
That's why I'd ruther be to Chicago,
Boston's too near.
It ain't cold, Mis' Priest,
It's jest my thoughts.
I ain't sick, only -
Mis' Priest, ef you've nothin' ter take yer time,
An' have a mind to listen,
Ther's somethin' I'd like ter speak about
I ain't never mentioned it,
But I'd like to tell yer 'fore I go.
Would you mind lowerin' them shades,
Fall twilight's awful grey,
An' that fire's real cosy with the shades drawed.
Well, I guess folks about here think I've be'n dret'ful onsociable.
You needn't say 'taint so, 'cause I know diff'rent.
An' what's more, it's true.
Well, the reason is I've be'n scared out o' my life.
Scared ev'ry minit o' th' time, fer eight year.
Eight mortal year 'tis, come next June.
'Twas on the eighteenth o' June,
Six months after I'd buried my husband,
That somethin' happened ter me.
Mebbe you'll mind that afore that
I was a cheery body.
Hiram was too,
Al'ays liked to ask a neighbor in,
An' ev'n when he died,
Barrin' low sperrits, I warn't averse to seein' nobody.
But that eighteenth o' June changed ev'rythin'.
I was doin' most o' th' farmwork myself,
With jest a hired boy, Clarence King, 'twas,
Comin' in fer an hour or two.
Well, that eighteenth o' June
I was goin' round,
Lockin' up and seein' to things 'fore I went to bed.
I was jest steppin' out t' th' barn,
Goin' round outside 'stead o' through the shed,
'Cause there was such a sight o' moonlight
Somehow or another I thought 'twould be pretty outdoors.
I got settled for pretty things that night, I guess.
I ain't stuck on 'em no more.
Well, them laylock bushes side o' th' house
Was real lovely.
Glitt'rin' and shakin' in the moonlight,
An' the smell o' them rose right up
An' most took my breath away.
The colour o' the spikes was all faded out,
They never keep their colour when the moon's on 'em,
But the smell fair 'toxicated me.
I was al'ays partial to a sweet scent,
An' I went close up t' th' bushes
So's to put my face right into a flower.
Mis' Priest, jest's I got breathin' in that laylock bloom
I saw, layin' right at my feet,
A man's hand!
It was as white's the side o' th' house,
And sparklin' like that lum'nous paint they put on gate-posts.
I screamed right out,
I couldn't help it,
An' I could hear my scream
Goin' over an' over
In that echo be'ind th' barn.
Hearin' it agin an' agin like that
Scared me so, I dar'sn't scream any more.
I jest stood ther,
And looked at that hand.
I thought the echo'd begin to hammer like my heart,
But it didn't.
There was only th' wind,
Sighin' through the laylock leaves,
An' slappin' 'em up agin the house.
Well, I guess I looked at that hand
Most ten minits,
An' it never moved,
Jest lay there white as white.
After a while I got to thinkin' that o' course
'Twas some drunken tramp over from Redfield.
That calmed me some,
An' I commenced to think I'd better git him out
From under them laylocks.
I planned to drag him in t' th' barn
An' lock him in ther till Clarence come in th' mornin'.
I got so mad thinkin' o' that all-fired brazen tramp
Asleep in my laylocks,
I jest stooped down and grabbed th' hand and give it an awful pull.
Then I bumped right down settin' on the ground.
Mis' Priest, ther warn't no body come with the hand.
No, it ain't cold, it's jest that I can't abear thinkin' of it,
Ev'n now.
I'll take a sip o' tea.
Thank you, Mis' Priest, that's better.
I'd ruther finish now I've begun.
Thank you, jest the same.
I dropped the hand's ef it'd be'n red hot
'Stead o' ice cold.
Fer a minit or two I jest laid on that grass
Pantin'.
Then I up and run to them laylocks
An' pulled 'em every which way.
True es I'm settin' here, Mis' Priest,
Ther warn't nothin' ther.
I peeked an' pryed all about 'em,
But ther warn't no man ther
Neither livin' nor dead.
But the hand was ther all right,
Upside down, the way I'd dropped it,
And glist'nin' fit to dazzle yer.
I don't know how I done it,
An' I don't know why I done it,
But I wanted to git that dret'ful hand out o' sight
I got in t' th' barn, somehow,
An' felt roun' till I got a spade.
I couldn't stop fer a lantern,
Besides, the moonlight was bright enough in all conscience.
Then I scooped that awful thing up in th' spade.
I had a sight o' trouble doin' it.
It slid off, and tipped over, and I couldn't bear
Ev'n to touch it with my foot to prop it,
But I done it somehow.
Then I carried it off be'ind the barn,
Clost to an old apple-tree
Where you couldn't see from the house,
An' I buried it,
Good an' deep.

I don't rec'lect nothin' more o' that night.
Clarence woke me up in th' mornin',
Hollerin' fer me to come down and set th' milk.
When he'd gone,
I stole roun' to the apple-tree
And seed the earth all new turned
Where I left it in my hurry.
I did a heap o' gardenin'
That mornin'.
I couldn't cut no big sods
Fear Clarence would notice and ask me what I wanted 'em fer,
So I got teeny bits o' turf here and ther,
And no one couldn't tell ther'd be'n any diggin'
When I got through.
They was awful days after that, Mis' Priest,
I used ter go every mornin' and poke about them bushes,
An' up and down the fence,
Ter find the body that hand come off of.
But I couldn't never find nothin'.
I'd lay awake nights
Hearin' them laylocks blowin' and whiskin'.
At last I had Clarence cut 'em down
An' make a big bonfire of 'em.
I told him the smell made me sick,
An' that warn't no lie,
I can't abear the smell on 'em now;
An' no wonder, es you say.
I fretted somethin' awful 'bout that hand
I wondered, could it be Hiram's,
But folks don't rob graveyards hereabouts.
Besides, Hiram's hands warn't that awful, starin' white.
I give up seein' people,
I was afeared I'd say somethin'.
You know what folks thought o' me
Better'n I do, I dessay,
But mebbe now you'll see I couldn't do nothin' diff'rent.
But I stuck it out,
I warn't goin' to be downed
By no loose hand, no matter how it come ther
But that ain't the worst, Mis' Priest,
Not by a long ways.
Two year ago, Mr. Densmore made me an offer for Cherry's Orchard.
Well, I'd got used to th' thought o' bein' sort o' blighted,
An' I warn't scared no more.
Lived down my fear, I guess.
I'd kinder got used to th' thought o' that awful night,
And I didn't mope much about it.
Only I never went out o' doors by moonlight;
That stuck.
Well, when Mr. Densmore's offer come,
I started thinkin' 'bout the place
An' all the things that had gone on ther.
Thinks I, I guess I'll go and see where I put the hand.
I was foolhardy with the long time that had gone by.
I know'd the place real well,
Fer I'd put it right in between two o' the apple roots.
I don't know what possessed me, Mis' Priest,
But I kinder wanted to know
That the hand had been flesh and bone, anyway.
It had sorter bothered me, thinkin' I might ha' imagined it.
I took a mornin' when the sun was real pleasant and warm;
I guessed I wouldn't jump for a few old bones.
But I did jump, somethin' wicked.
Ther warn't no bones!
Ther warn't nothin'!
Not ev'n the gold ring I'd minded bein' on the little finger.
I don't know ef ther ever was anythin'.
I've worried myself sick over it.
I be'n diggin' and diggin' day in and day out
Till Clarence ketched me at it.
Oh, I know'd real well what you all thought,
An' I ain't sayin' you're not right,
But I ain't goin' to end in no county 'sylum
If I c'n help it.
The shiv'rin' fits come on me sudden like.
I know 'em, don't you trouble.
I've fretted considerable about the 'sylum,
I guess I be'n frettin' all the time I ain't be'n diggin'.
But anyhow I can't dig to Chicago, can I?
Thank you, Mis' Priest,
I'm better now. I only dropped in in passin'.
I'll jest be steppin' along down to French's.
No, I won't be seein' nobody in the mornin',
It's a pretty early start.
Don't you stand ther, Mis' Priest,
The wind'll blow yer lamp out,
An' I c'n see easy, I got aholt o' the gate now.
I ain't a mite tired, thank you.
Good-night.

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Of Ancient Mastodon, Sleepy Bee & Young Men Who Leap Too Soon From Bridges - Nightingale Confesses Into Straighter Teeth

'...descend, and of the curveship lend a myth to God.' - Hart Crane

Pueri aeterna, septem cadens
Etiam plures ad

The boys eternal, seven falling
Too many more to come

Jamey Rodemayer
Tyler Clementi
Raymond Chase
Asher Brown
Billy Lucas
Seth Walsh
Justin Aaberg

Sub olivae, pacem
Ut vos omnes adoremus orientatio

Under the olive trees, peace
May you all adore this orientation


******

"I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their
hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once
hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain."

- James Baldwin


'Ignacio goes up the tiers
with all his death on his shoulders.
He sought for the dawn
but the dawn was no more.
He seeks for his confident profile
and the dream bewilders him
He sought for his beautiful body
and encountered his opened blood

Do not ask me to see it! '

- Federico Garcia Lorca*


1


Even the pigeons on my stoop are silent now.
One mourning dove coos tenderly for these who
have taken their own lives publicly on our behalf,
for those many gone before them, broken hearts
enraged, no more to engage the unpersuaded
world which, one of them, one of the public ones,
in spite of murmuring wharves, in spite of amorous
dark alleys bitter in the pitch of the last hateful
American Century, Hart Crane, wrote before his leap
from the ship beside the phallic curve where Cuba
meets the lisping sea, took his tongue away which
sang of chill dawns breaking upon bridges whose
spans still freely splinter light returning hungover
from the night wharves, grottoes, and denim World
Wars, industrial embraces crushing every man and
now another one abandons his fingers and fiddling
to scattering light, takes flight from ledges to
edge close to an embrace no longer forbidden -

'And so it was I entered the broken world
to trace the visionary company of love...'

I am at the 'Way of Peace Bistro, ' where the server
Alberto whose cousins are the famous Wolf Boys in
Jalisco, Mexico, hirsute himself, gives me free double
espressos so I may hear his confession, who only just
yesterday came out to me in my confessional booth
here at the perpetually wobbly table in the far corner
at the cracked window rocking with Hart's un-confessed
bones wrapped in soothing silt which he now dreams
to be his silken pall.

Life is indeed strange above the veiled bottom.
I do receive confessions here where I weekly haunt
for studying, writing, chasing down dreams, waves,
receding horizons.

Why, I wonder, is each window where I sit cracked?

I am the itinerant priest who sits at meager feasts.
Suffering congregants, forlorn over their starfish
and soup, ask about dreams, confess to anguish, ask
what should be done. I consult espresso foam, open
the nearest book at hand willy nilly to see what advice
or wisdom might be gained from That which, we hope,
indiscriminately sustains us all here straining after
some realing thing to keep us going when Hart and
those too recent others obey some impulse to place
at last the final period, reifiying the punctuate
though unrepentant ending of this too too long run-on
sentence of hate. One hopes this period holds fast,
that Logos/meaning is somehow, plates of starfish
with fork and knife beside, true or truing at least.

One serves where needed. And when.
So come unto me you 'sad young men.
All the news is bad again so kiss your dreams goodbye.'**

Here at my confessional I can only plead mercy upon the boys
who have jumped from bridges, hung themselves, cut, sliced their
compulsive hands, exploded hearts, leaping dears eyes ablaze in
thrall of antlers, trembling flanks strong to fly decrying the
violent hunt which always ends in a death bequeathing these
chopped bits to me and to others like me who remain at table,
plates before, to stare at what is to be later scattered, sown,
these pieces in and for Love-without-name still a stain upon
confused local deities and their wild-eyed supplicants.


But there is no stain upon the promiscuous sea.

The compliant sky is not confused.

Neither is all that is between confused,
allowing birth and blessing, passing of
all kinds in all manner of motive and motion.
But in the human world, distressing, there
will be more boys, more men growing up as
from the very beginning where earliest enmity
mythically grew strong before shoes, before
hearts were capable of breaking, before turgid
theological floods spilled blood of brother
by brother turning witness stones toward silence,
echoing lamenting Federico,

'Do not ask me to see it! '

I don't want to see it!

I will not see it!

But I, but perhaps we, who remain to plant these
petaled parts of these unwitting scapegoats whose
eyes are milk now forever, we must bar sentimentality,
must move toward genuine knowing which comes from
the long hard stare beyond Milky Ways at the way
things still inexorably are. 'Nothing gets better -
or changes for the better - until it is what it is.'
But the falling ones, half-way to eternity while
here and eschewed, know what the 'is' is of the matter,
that it is the others, too many of them, who don't
or won't know, who willingly refuse to see 'what is'
in order to reach beyond the collective NOT SEE
solutions' of hetero-normative culture/religion.

Perhaps even in the deepest fault of the ocean that
very visionary company - in league with stuporous
pigeons, a mourning dove, me here who remains-not
-yet-remains, tearful over my espresso looking for
signs, finding only an endlessly fracturing rainbow,
remembering, too, the murmuring secrets of wharves
and co-mingled breath - that very visionary company
traces all the sunken ones, the jumping ones, those
with other means for departure by their own hands
empty now of demands for love.

Here I sit, arthritic living hands still
demanding, remembering full of past and
present griefs the Violin with a cut throat
in a youthful suicide once writ years ago,
hidden, hiding out, refusing to shout my
rage to Almighty 'Nothing-But':

Do not hear nothing but the cabin walls,
do not hear nothing but late summer roses
petal by petal leaping from the still too
white trellises, leaping pinkly, redly,
memory to breezes, overwhelmed by trellises
shagged with cut sleeves.***

But not me. Not yet.

I don't want to see it!

I will not see it.

On the mute page, the Violin refusing to sing

- in love with Garcia Lorca,
the goring horn of the Bull,
the destined cornada -

each and all appalling, commanding 'Write'
in long nights working where the mentally ill
wandered with me, keys ironically in my hand,
the yellowing hallways with even more ironic
EXIT signs brightly RED above the locked doors,
silent companions somnolent but for the jangling
joke of the keys.

Do not ask me to see it!

I don't want to see it!

I will not see it.


Still, I have now these better days in the Village,
broke or near to it, with eggs and beans, cheap but
edible things. An epicurean after all, I do luxuriously
head to the Polish butcher shop nearby to gather meat
but not any of the young butchers want to be gathered
- too Catholic - for Poland is 'passing strange' with
bad teeth, fingers stained with nicotine. Or is it rust
from once Curtains of Iron,

or the Blood of the Acetylene Virgin? ****

I get my meat, cook my greens and things, have good-enough feasts for garlic and the right spice make grander the demanded abstemiousness of current coin. I purloin my pleasure during eats in my dirty yet happy apron with recordings of poetry, lectures or a good aria or two to salt my food with tears, a blubbering fool beside his one low watt lamp, darkness too too comfortable like a pooch or cat at feet. What is that bleating in the darker corner? I shall wait for daylight to see what it can be. And if I can I shall free it from it's trap and in doing so perhaps free me from all this, all this witnessing as life demands I must, of young ones setting themselves free because they are forced to do so by collective psychopathology now rendered even more effective and efficient via technology, via internet, emphasis upon the 'net', where the ills set free from Pandora's Modem have only begun to be revealed.

But I shall use that 'net' and my still goodly paper and goodly pen to dim whatever ill tides there are and to come, as they surely will in spite of low wattage. I'll jangle keys on the night watches reading my mystic books, making my prayers with roamers of wards and wharves glancing up, considering bridges, edges, silty bottoms. The tides are here even now. But right now I wish to sing a lullaby in protest to those hurting departed, even to those coming ills, that I may sing innocence dumbly back to those who may come ashore again more gently having forgotten enforcing depths insisting them toward resistant yet resolved embraces...


...So breech then, waves. Feet first. Heads in the brine. I shall keep time on your wrinkled toes sticking up from the sand, play peek-a-boo. Then while you sleep I shall harvest gently, place them firmly in that old woman's shoe...'there was an old woman who lived in a shoe, had so many children she didn't know what to do'.

She may yet have learned what to by now.


I haven't. But for my one strange harvest here below...


2


Somniculosus Apis, Sleepy Bee
Ascendit infra me, He rises beneath me
Deus absconditus placet, The hidden God is pleased

He is busy even as I write this preparing a repast for many paying guests who will watch him cook sacred chilies of his Mother's garden born, who will hear him sing their praises...Krishna was over yesterday, nervous and excited about it all. Working out regularly at the gym he is now very toned, muscular in a good way, not too pumped in exaggerated lumps, and he is even more radiantly beautiful/handsome than when we first met beside the cardamom and the ghee in the intoxicating basement of the Indian spice and food shop not easily hidden, such aromas are not to be tucked down like the shop is beside and below the avenue.

Which flower should I adorn my table with? I ask, approaching shyly beside the spice bins. I buzz inside, a bee for the nectar.

If you serve, said he, If you serve with cardamom and ghee then flowers three are best, the jasmine, the oleander, the anthurium. But if choosing only one, he looks at me, something insistent, responding, in his eyes, I would choose for you the anthurium.

And so we began our time together, the cooking lessons, the first demur approaches, the blushing papayas, then the fires, the chilies harvested, curtains drawn. One day perhaps I to shall fall but in this way:

I shall fling back the curtains
Open the window
Throw cut sleeves for years
gathered, hidden, to the street.
Shouting out names of lovers,
I shall then leap openly into life
land softly upon the Autumn
ginkgo leaves and, golden,
kiss every parked car
on the street leaving
lips like leaves and all
the cut sleeves in love
with all the world and if
not all the world then
all the cars and a fiddle
dee dee for the fall of me


Yesterday I coached him on slowing down as he speaks (his accent is thickly, richly Tamil) , how to enunciate each syllable. He had several stories to choose from which he may relate to the guests, all of which he related to me, a sweet one of him as a little boy waking up at dawn, asking his dear mama for an omelet to eat:

'Sleepy Bee, ' she called to him. 'Go, my Sleepy Bee, to the garden and be sure to smell the jasmine there, touch softly the spices in trembling rows, fetch then some chilies of many colors and I will prepare for you a dish as you wish. When the teacher makes you sleepy by noon reach then your fingers to your face, smell the spices there, remember the touch of smooth skinned chilies whispering of lingering liaisons to come, and you will brighten my Sleepy Bee.'

A chili omelet she would make, a side of yogurt to soothe the burn, and milk from the cow drawn before dawn's first udder swelled against the press of distant hills where even the Temple soundly sleeps so very full and pleased with itself. Mother, each morning as he stumbles, rubbing his eyes, into the garden, tells him,

You may shout if you wish to wake

the Temple for the cow cannot speak -

Wake up! Awake! Make haste!

Lord Indra comes! Prepare the wicks,

the incense sticks for His Holy Fire!

Hasten! Hurry! Quicken!

There beside Lord Indra's captured fire in the little grate her Bee awakens watching her slow movements, the slicing of chilies, the removal of seeds, the washing again of plump hands, the cracking of eggs, beating them with the whisk, spreading ghee upon the hot flat stone, the enchantment of liquid whites and yokes becoming firm, becoming food. She turns them in round rhythms as she rhythmically prays.

After eggs and chilies are eaten comes the rose oil poured upon his raven hair smoothly brushed back to reveal his shining face, his smile. She prepares him for school with kisses, his uniform freshly cleaned, ironed, smelling, too, of rose-flavored soap. Then off to school with a lunch, a string of chilies of all colors sewn together, sewn when he was still in a waking dream.

'The chilies may burn, ' he tells me, speaking slowly, enunciating each syllable, practicing through smiles, returning to my gaze. 'But not like the touch of my mother's hand. She is far away but I can feel her burning hands on me now.' He smiles. I stammer. How can one enunciate such wonder?


Visionary company, Krishna, his mother, and me.


I have been encouraging Krishna (which is a funny thing to say, Krishna being a bold, blue God) to find a language coach to help him with his accent, to tone it down while keeping the wonderful music/lilt of it and he's going to do that...he complains of tilting his head as he talks 'as all Indians do' but I insist he merely speak and let his head and hands speak, too, in their own way. If he does more public events he will need to be understood clearly when he speaks while preparing his magnificent dishes from his country, his rich feasts of stories of the chilies from his mother's garden entwined by morning glories, the morning cock already at quarrel with the world just beyond the tin reaching in to take some spices too enticing to refuse...

I always feel as if he is, or will soon be, bored with me and my humble 'ministrations' but he sweeps into my little 'box-doir' - you recall how tiny my expensive studio on the 5th floor is! - like a Raj, a young prince beaming, brimming full of stories to tell me, usually some food, spicy hot, he has prepared for me, offered with a grin. Then he strips instantly down, lays upon the down pallet in easy, unabashed nakedness - it catches my breath, I do want to see! - checks his Blackberry for the latest cricket scores while I hurriedly 'hide' my Ganesha, the prominent statue of the god I have in front of my useless fireplace; this hiding I half understand...but still, naked, he has a fresh and beautifully made tattoo of Ganesha on his shoulder, he wears a Ganesha necklace, a Ganesha bracelet, and a Ganesha waist scapular, the image of which is just below his navel. So why, I ask only myself and Ganesha, never Krishna, why must I hide my large wooden Ganesha statue? But I do hide Him in deference to Krishna's wishes and meanwhile have intercourse with the god-in-miniature, scraping a necklace trunk with an ear, a tongue, receive a scapular kiss of the image upon my forehead as I trace those wonderful hairlines of the male body on my way to other deities.

Ah! give me all the beans in the world in all my poverty! Am I not, too, a Raj of floors and scented pillows, this beaming god beneath me thrusting utterly to reveal his secrets, his desires, his pleasures to me who am not a god?

Life, dear Valdosta, over all, is good, yes? I wish it no ill. But, agreeing with the cock, I will quarrel, even fight, with life when young men still leap too soon from bridges because I have learned (and relearn it hard lesson by hard lesson at a time) visionary company insists its tracings in many forms, man to man being but one holy expression, those sons, burning mother's hands upon them demanding, insisting to life that each her sons is a rajah, a Sleepy Bee.

So please the intemperate humanity, in the face of patient deities the burning ones are leaping still and I am ill with grief, with prayer, their dead bodies gone, their now emptier hands.


And he leaves me.


I return to my poems.

The room is filled with Krishna, aromas of rose oil in his hair, pungent spices in his sweat and upon his hands and skin, and sex.

I retrieve Lord Ganesha out from his little sanctuary of hiding (it seems I am always retrieving deities) and we both laugh richly. I remember to sprinkle some cologne upon Him, to pour out some milk into His votive bowl, to rub His belly, to light another candle (the other extinguished, panting, while we were busy bees exchanging knees and sighs, diffusing male spices into bracing air, fingers upon oily chilies thickening in always morning hunger) .

I light more incense and thank the Lord Ganesha in all his forms, appearing both large and small, His adornment of Secrets, though one cannot easily hide an Elephant, man-love and more in such a small infinite universe whose toes I seek to tickle then gather for a shoe as tides shrink and swell, grow and diminish depending upon the worshipers, those who will do so in spite of those who would kill delicate or manly infidels whose worship, forever babies breath, is all the more meaningful.

Be damned the trellises. The petals shall reach, shall extend outward.

The violin's throat cut.

'Do not ask me to see it! '

Then, Ganesha restored to His rightful place; good-natured about being hidden, it is back to the kitchen, the slicing of the onion, the crushing of the garlic, the pouring of the wine, the selecting of the greens and washing them of the clinging sand and grit they kindly bring, then to the pot to cook them in, the meat to go with, and begins the fire, O Indra, more aromas extend into, entwine with what Krishna has left to me and the god and I am grateful, full of heart, for each time he is here is a miracle. A grace. Mother India with hot hands gifts me one of Her Raj's who graces me with his presence evoking praise bestowed from oft bitter lips and tongue made the more bilious by aging, aching joints, laxer muscles, and yet the encroaching decrepitude is bent and stretched, the better for the wear from Krishna's 'half nelsons' and yogic overreaches. More the better for me.

Yet I remain bitter, too, from the senseless loss of young men who could not endure, no fault of their own, for sure, who leap from bridges, forced to by killing edges broken open within and by hateful, fearful others forgetting, if ever had, those restorative burning constancies of a Mother's hands upon them

I have placed your picture, dear Valdosta, upon my altar beside Lorca's portrait, and Hart Crane's young face, the image of a sweet Christ holding a lamb en perpetua, and the yellowed newspaper clipping from Spain of the Matador's death, along with photos of the young men in the past two weeks who have joined Hart becoming ghostly visionary company. They now remain forever chaste not having lived long enough to be wasted, emptied of love from loving deeply out into love for more love, endlessly bleeding out like our Lorca, a corrida of laurel encircling his head no longer remembering but remembering only one sound, guns exploding outward, extending, bullets, petals, one by one beyond the wall where he stood stunned, 'how young and handsome are assassins' faces', he flew backward in the wall graced with his brave shadow then his blood until he fell. I believe he fell hard for life demands it as does death which will continue its duende.

Love, as Hart and all hearts love, is still a vision not yet fully, solidly formed in spite of stones and walls forgetting noble shadows, but there are foolish Krishnas, restoring Krishna-moments, patient hidden gods though human hearts and bodies remove themselves from the potter's wheel too early, too broken, too tired, too alone to try to shape love from Love from the tiny shard, the remnant bone of the ancient mastodon, the last one, dreaming within each heart of that Love which all Nature yearns for.

I pray for my inherited brood of brothers, and remember to be gay for all the gray afternoons in this sad but forgiving confessional, while not forgetting mine and the cock's quarrel with life, in the booth by the cracked window near the corner of 7th and Second.

I am yours, bleating, sometimes crowing, but almost always bestowing praise. I am loved, Valdosta, and I love you.


N. Nightingale


******************

*Opening quote is from Lorca's elegy, 'Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías'

** The Ballad of the Sad Young Men

Music written by: Tommy WolfLyrics written by: Fran Landesman

(best version sung that I know of is by an aged Mabel Mercer in concert, hard to find it now) 

Sing a song of sad young men
Glasses full of rye
All the news is bad again so
Kiss your dreams goodbye

All the sad young men
Sitting in the bars
Knowing neon nights
Missing all the stars

All the sad young men
Drifting through the town
Drinking up the night
Trying not to drown

All the sad young men
Singing in the cold
Trying to forget
That they're growing old

All the sad young men
Choking on their youth
Trying to be brave
Running from the truth

Autumn turns the leaves to gold
Slowly dies the heart
Sad young men are growing old
That's the cruelest part

All the sad young men
Seek a certain smile
Someone they can hold
For a little while

Tired little bird,
She does the best she can
Trying to be gay for her
sad young man

While the grimy moon
Blossoms up above
All the sad young men
Play at making love

Misbegotten moon
Shine for sad young men
Let your gentle light
Guide them home again

All the sad young men


***In China homosexuality was referred to as 'the cut sleeve'.

Read an excellent account of this in

Passions of the Cut Sleeve, The Male Homosexual Tradition in China.

http: //www.ucpress.edu/book.php? isbn=9780520078697

 ****Surrealistic Sutures For The Acetylene Virgin by Warren Falcon

'I think that poetry should stay awake all night drinking in dark cellars.' - Thomas Merton


Look to the body for metaphor


Look to blood, use this word
in relation to dreams or flowers
while silver runs in veins which
are usually streets or vines.

Breasts, male and female,
are stars, have to do with
a handful or feet to span them.

Abdomen, then, is a great
Milky Way gathering,
holding, expelling comets,
caroling colons' humming.

Spleens are bones to
pick teeth with, teeth
which are, of course,
sea horses or gravestones
bearing images of the Flagrant
Heart to tame this spot of
gypsum and flint, to charm
where Violin's cut throat
sings itself awake, one
black breast out of its fold
slapping metal seas against
dropping metal shores in
Sidelight's shadow across
this hand writing now,
slap of waves mute in
this stillness of knees.

So lend a darkness to gardens,
ancient pattern of a breast,
cloth lightly lifting, black on black.

From Her chest reveal a slenderer throat
that nods when she swallows
and names her peace.

The delicate will not pass away just yet.


Great Seamstress of Space

sew, please,

with fingers of dew.

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Seventh Book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This Is The Time

Written by lindsey buckingham.
Sanity
We long to see you
Keep our ears down to the track
Honesty
Did we desert you?
Is the truth ever coming back?
Slightly episodic
Always on the run
Ever so neurotic
Still we have our fun
This is the time of the new sign
This is the sign of the new line
Time, this is the time
Time, this is the time
Revenge and fear
How can we heal you
With your heads down on the block?
Family
There is no curfew
In the town they call the rock
Ever so hypnotic
Underneath the gun
A little too erotic
How do we get things done?
This is the time of the new sign
This is the sign of the new line
Time, this is the time
Time, this is the time

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The Ambulance that Got Away

When Grandpa suffered a turn, we
Called the ambulance, right away,
They strapped him onto a gurney
So he couldn't sit up, or sway,
We'll see you up at the hospital, '
We cried, as we waved him well,
The ambulance went with bells and lights
Like a demon bound for hell!

Grandma wasn't at home, we
Had to phone her on the cell,
She couldn't come back just then, she said
She was having a fainting spell,
So we waited until he was settled in
Then drove in a convoy down,
To the hospital at Ullarook,
Just fifty miles from town.

The nurse at the desk said: ‘No-one here
By the name of Alfred Groom,
We only have private patients here,
We bed them, one to a room,
If he hasn't got private cover, then
You'll have to look elsewhere,
Maybe the ambulance took him off
To the hospital at Bulnare.'

We phoned the hospital at Bulnare:
‘He hasn't been seen round here,
There was an ambulance, come to think,
But he left with a flea in his ear!
We don't take patients from out of town
There's few enough beds for us,
He's probably over at Gundacoot,
They run their own private bus.'

We drove ten miles to Gundacoot,
An ambulance sat in the drive,
We thought, ‘Thank God, he must be here!
Let's hope that he's still alive! '
We all raced in through the sliding doors
And crowded around the Nurse:
‘Who? Alfred Groom, in a private room?
Not here! ' We left with a curse!

We split up the convoy into two,
I drove to the nearest town,
A middling place called Jerribee
With a hospital, quite run down,
The government cut our funding, '
Said the Nurse in the parking bay,
We shut down twenty beds last week,
Your Dad isn't here today.'

My son had travelled the other way
To Inkermine on the coast,
The hospital there had a hundred beds
The locals were wont to boast,
‘He's isn't here, but the ambulance
Was spotted on leaving town, '
My son had sighed on his endless ride
When he called on the mobile phone.

That night when Grandma got her breath
She went to the ambulance place,
She battered him with her umbrella
Knocking his glasses clean off his face:
‘Where did you take him, tell me now
Or I'll have to call the police!
What? Are your ears painted on! '
We took him to Bungaleese! '

The only place that would take him was
The Medical Clinic there,
It isn't even a hospital
And you sit on a leather chair,
When we finally got to Bungaleese
Grandpa could barely talk,
We said, ‘We'll get you an ambulance! '
‘No thanks, ' he growled, ‘I'll walk! '

29 August 2012

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Stories Of Hope Series #4 The Elders

His wife died fifteen years past, and he knew
Living with his children would not last.
They would want to put him in a assisted living home
Just so that they could be left alone.
They could not foresee that one day they would be elderly.
They joked about him becoming senile
But he knew that would not happen for quite a while.
He was only sixty two with so much more living to do.
He knew the only thing he had left was HOPE.
And with life’s burdens he would have to cope.
So he decided to go back to school
And learn a new trade, and show his family
that he could make the grade.
He learned carpentry, and bought all the necessary tools
And what he couldn’t get, he borrowed from the school.
He already had in his mind of what he’d like to make.
And he knew that a long time it would take.
He decided to get the WESTERN RED CEDAR
For its softness and durability, and aromatic smell
This wood he knew would work quite well.
He found the perfect picture of what he had in mind
And viewed every detail and every line.
He wanted it to be about three feet tall
And two feet wide because that size would be just fine.
He started off very slowly, just chiseling away.
And sanding it down perfectly
For that’s the way it had to be.
He used each and every sculpting blade he could find
To define each and every line.
He did each part with delicate care
For with this piece there was a love he shared.
Slowly but surely it started to take shape
He was impatient, he could not wait.
But he knew that this was the way it was meant to be
So that everyone could see the beauty that had to be.
He worked on it every day, and his worries
Seemed to slip away.
Being put in a home was no longer his concern
And that his children would have to learn
That as long as he could breathe and walk
All of this was just talk.
This sculpture became his obsession
and his passion and made him grow strong
And doing this is where he belonged.
His teachers were very impressed and said
He was the best student yet.
They said that this was a work of art and of beauty
And should be put on display
And that for this the public would gladly pay.
He knew there was something missing
And that it was not complete,
and this problem he would defeat.
Then it dawned on him that it was needing color.
He needed the darkest blue and the deepest brown
And went about painting it without making a sound.
The darkest blue was for the piercing eyes
And the brown for the shoulder length hair
This was the perfect pair.
For three months he had toiled with perfection
For this was of the LORD and his resurrection.
And this was how it came to be
That this elder found harmony

HOPE IS THE KEY TO SET OURSELVES FREE

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The Road

Sitting alone on my hotel
Looking in the mirror wondering, well,
After all this time you never thought youd still be out on the road?
Like a gypsy I was born to roam
Like a wanderer with no fixed abode
I think about the friends Ive left behind on the road
Well, the roads been rocky along the way
Its been a long, hard haul on the motorway
But if it gets too smooth its time to call it a day
(on the road)
The bed and breakfasts and the greasy spoons
(the road)
The loser bars and the noisy rooms
(the road)
The casualties who did too many lines
(the road)
Wasted talent on women and wine
I think of all the friends Ive left behind
Whenever its time to get back out on the road
Started playing blues in a coffee bar
I took a trip down charing cross road
With my imitation gretsch guitar
And my head full of songs and my eyes full of stars
I saw a band called the rolling stones
I thought, thats it, Ill get a band,
Im leaving home, Im out on the road.
The motorways all over this land
(the road)
Far away places like wigan and birmingham
(the road)
Didnt have no name, didnt have any fans
(the road)
Didnt have no money so we slept in the van
All those early gigs we ever played
Sometimes we were lucky if we even got paid
On the road
Pete played on the bass guitar
Liked to get around, mixing with all the stars
But mrs. avorys child was all fingers and thumbs
But solid as a rock, setting time on the drums
While dave the rave hit the rock n roll riffs
Yours truly strummed away with a slightly limp wrist
On the road
Everyday is when I cant get used to it
Everyday is when I cant get away
Another day, another freeway to face
Thats the road
Well, life is a road, its a motorway
And the road gets rocky along the way
But if it gets too smooth its time to call it a day
(on the road)
Jimi hendrix, the who, the led zeppelin and free
They took the road so its alright by me
Some are survivors, some are debris
If you play in a band thats the road that you take
Living in it, eating in it, sleeping in it
You wake up in the morning, what do you see?
The road
Life is a road, its a motorway
Lost a lot of good friends along the way
All the families and homes that Ive left behind
To the wives and the lovers and friends who had their time
I say, you take your road and Ill take mine.
(you take your road and Ill take mine)
You take your road and Ill take mine
(you take your road and Ill take mine)
Life is a road, its a motorway
And the road gets rocky along the way
But if it gets too smooth its time to call it a day
(on the road)
Observed all the various phases from
Flower power, heavy metal and acid rock
And still all the critics keep saying
Are they still around? when they gonna stop?
Its just the dedicated followers of fashion who like putting down
All the well respected men who came dancing and are still on the road
Sometime I get suicidal
Now everyone is a rival
Different cars, different bars and hotels
Corporations, big business and egos
When it all gets too bad I think back
When we were all each other had
When we started out on the road
And theres gas in my tank and Ive still got a way to go
Another hotel, its time to check out soon
As I look around the room
I think of all the friends Ive left behind
On the road

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The Trail of Tears

You have the trail
but where are the tears?
No idea?
You are not that interested in tears
of those who had trodden the trail
from Georgia to Oklahoma
with little to eat or to clothe themselves
Might have seen hundreds and thousands of dead corpses
lying on the outskirts of the trail
with lice and bugs eating their flesh
The winter cold is so harsh
the blanket that they were wearing with bare feet
won't keep them warm
and What about the US army soldiers
once in a while raiding the folks
with a bundle of babies and little kids
they have to survive the long walks and the
cold and the starvation
to look for the place they can call home
for their homes were ripped by the white
government,
they still hold the hopes that they will regain
their land and home back
just like the Jews on exile to the Babylonia
for 70 long years they were away from home
lost their kings and princes and wishing only
to return home for those 70 years
What sins did these Indian tribes commit
to deserve this kind of treatment
giving away their lands and their homes
and on the road half fall dead
half of the half fell sick and
with no food to feed them
no water to cleanse them
but the endless walks bare footed?
O how painful it must have been only
to be a part of the American scene
Who cursed these people not God definitely
for they were good to the new comers with
their usual hospitality and generosity
but they were awaiting for the whites
to arrive in their land and make it blossom
with new civilization, and they knew when the whites
arrived these were the people they had been waiting for
centuries and they treated them nice and generously
but the result
The tribes must extinct and vanish for the whites
will take over their land as it was destined to
they killed numerous Indian babies
poisoned the water and plagued their blankets with germs
and disease viruses so the tribes could go dead
unnoticed and they did that with vehemence and
systematically.
That Andrew Jackson dude is now taking the tribal lands
and casts the inhabitants from those lands
to hit the road the trail the trail of tears
but where are the tears they shed on the trail?
Does anyone care?
Indian tribes still claim their sovereignty
and claim an independent nationhood
for the US government has not kept their words
and promises, no more of being cheated
and fooled, that is what these people decided to do
an independent nation Indian nation in the nation of the USA
That's quite pathetic because they still have to live on
government stipends and welfare money to the reservation
though the old Indian Bureau was putting most of the
goods and money coming to the tribes into their own pocket
Does anyone care what these people are doing and
how they are all along?
We see them on the Western movies keep dying
shot to death and fall from the horses they were riding on
Their bison were the main food channel but
the US government knew so well if the bison go away
the tribes will also vanish
Out of the tears and suffering of the Indian nations
came and rose the great nation THE United States of America
But no one pays much attention to how these
robbed people of their land and their cultures live
In the back of the mind of every Americans
history stays alive and we all know what happened
yet nobody says anything about them, no advocates want
work for these people the Mongols
the grand history of Genghis Khan and his conquer of the
entire world including Europe to make people tremble
with fear on hearing his name only
but the descendents of the Mongols are only
humiliated by the word 'Mongoloid' the retarded
with flat nose and flat facial structure
in Special Education,
No, the Mongols are not mongoloid the retarded
They were warriors and soldiers who roamed
the entire world Asian, Middle Eastern, European and Egyptian
in the olden days yeah, that was a long gone days
but the spirit of these warriors still remain
in every lands streams and hill sides of the
American landscape I could feel it when I was there
those places in USA were covered with the Spirits
that is inherent in every US citizens
though they didn't know it and still don't know it
but I could see it could feel it and
experienced
The legendary Mongol warrior spirit was embodied
in the American landscape and fields and mountains
and forests and animals and the people too.
These spirits help the nation US be strong mighty and wise
like the inhabitants the people of the USA.


4: 48 pm
(December 3,2012) Korea-Japan Time

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Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

I.

My first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary cripple, with malicious eye
Askance to watch the working of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suppression of the glee that pursed and scored
Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby.

II.

What else should he be set for, with his staff?
What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare
All travellers who might find him posted there,
And ask the road? I guessed what skull-like laugh
Would break, what crutch 'gin write my epitaph
For pastime in the dusty thoroughfare,

III.

If at his counsel I should turn aside
Into that ominous tract which, all agree,
Hides the Dark Tower. Yet acquiescingly
I did turn as he pointed: neither pride
Nor hope rekindling at the end descried,
So much as gladness that some end might be.

IV.

For, what with my whole world-wide wandering,
What with my search drawn out thro' years, my hope
Dwindled into a ghost not fit to cope
With that obstreperous joy success would bring,
I hardly tried now to rebuke the spring
My heart made, finding failure in its scope.

V.

As when a sick man very near to death
Seems dead indeed, and feels begin and end
The tears and takes the farewell of each friend,
And hears one bid the other go, draw breath
Freelier outside ("since all is o'er," he saith,
"And the blow fallen no grieving can amend;")

VI.

While some discuss if near the other graves
Be room enough for this, and when a day
Suits best for carrying the corpse away,
With care about the banners, scarves and staves:
And still the man hears all, and only craves
He may not shame such tender love and stay.

VII.

Thus, I had so long suffered in this quest,
Heard failure prophesied so oft, been writ
So many times among "The Band" - to wit,
The knights who to the Dark Tower's search addressed
Their steps - that just to fail as they, seemed best,
And all the doubt was now—should I be fit?

VIII.

So, quiet as despair, I turned from him,
That hateful cripple, out of his highway
Into the path he pointed. All the day
Had been a dreary one at best, and dim
Was settling to its close, yet shot one grim
Red leer to see the plain catch its estray.

IX.

For mark! no sooner was I fairly found
Pledged to the plain, after a pace or two,
Than, pausing to throw backward a last view
O'er the safe road, 'twas gone; grey plain all round:
Nothing but plain to the horizon's bound.
I might go on; nought else remained to do.

X.

So, on I went. I think I never saw
Such starved ignoble nature; nothing throve:
For flowers - as well expect a cedar grove!
But cockle, spurge, according to their law
Might propagate their kind, with none to awe,
You'd think; a burr had been a treasure trove.

XI.

No! penury, inertness and grimace,
In some strange sort, were the land's portion. "See
Or shut your eyes," said Nature peevishly,
"It nothing skills: I cannot help my case:
'Tis the Last Judgment's fire must cure this place,
Calcine its clods and set my prisoners free."

XII.

If there pushed any ragged thistle-stalk
Above its mates, the head was chopped; the bents
Were jealous else. What made those holes and rents
In the dock's harsh swarth leaves, bruised as to baulk
All hope of greenness? 'tis a brute must walk
Pashing their life out, with a brute's intents.

XIII.

As for the grass, it grew as scant as hair
In leprosy; thin dry blades pricked the mud
Which underneath looked kneaded up with blood.
One stiff blind horse, his every bone a-stare,
Stood stupefied, however he came there:
Thrust out past service from the devil's stud!

XIV.

Alive? he might be dead for aught I know,
With that red gaunt and colloped neck a-strain,
And shut eyes underneath the rusty mane;
Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe;
I never saw a brute I hated so;
He must be wicked to deserve such pain.

XV.

I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart.
As a man calls for wine before he fights,
I asked one draught of earlier, happier sights,
Ere fitly I could hope to play my part.
Think first, fight afterwards - the soldier's art:
One taste of the old time sets all to rights.

XVI.

Not it! I fancied Cuthbert's reddening face
Beneath its garniture of curly gold,
Dear fellow, till I almost felt him fold
An arm in mine to fix me to the place
That way he used. Alas, one night's disgrace!
Out went my heart's new fire and left it cold.

XVII.

Giles then, the soul of honour - there he stands
Frank as ten years ago when knighted first.
What honest men should dare (he said) he durst.
Good - but the scene shifts - faugh! what hangman hands
Pin to his breast a parchment? His own bands
Read it. Poor traitor, spit upon and curst!

XVIII.

Better this present than a past like that;
Back therefore to my darkening path again!
No sound, no sight as far as eye could strain.
Will the night send a howlet or a bat?
I asked: when something on the dismal flat
Came to arrest my thoughts and change their train.

XIX.

A sudden little river crossed my path
As unexpected as a serpent comes.
No sluggish tide congenial to the glooms;
This, as it frothed by, might have been a bath
For the fiend's glowing hoof - to see the wrath
Of its black eddy bespate with flakes and spumes.

XX.

So petty yet so spiteful! All along
Low scrubby alders kneeled down over it;
Drenched willows flung them headlong in a fit
Of mute despair, a suicidal throng:
The river which had done them all the wrong,
Whate'er that was, rolled by, deterred no whit.

XXI.

Which, while I forded, - good saints, how I feared
To set my foot upon a dead man's cheek,
Each step, or feel the spear I thrust to seek
For hollows, tangled in his hair or beard!
It may have been a water-rat I speared,
But, ugh! it sounded like a baby's shriek.

XXII.

Glad was I when I reached the other bank.
Now for a better country. Vain presage!
Who were the strugglers, what war did they wage,
Whose savage trample thus could pad the dank
Soil to a plash? Toads in a poisoned tank,
Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage—

XXIII.

The fight must so have seemed in that fell cirque.
What penned them there, with all the plain to choose?
No foot-print leading to that horrid mews,
None out of it. Mad brewage set to work
Their brains, no doubt, like galley-slaves the Turk
Pits for his pastime, Christians against Jews.

XXIV.

And more than that - a furlong on - why, there!
What bad use was that engine for, that wheel,
Or brake, not wheel - that harrow fit to reel
Men's bodies out like silk? with all the air
Of Tophet's tool, on earth left unaware,
Or brought to sharpen its rusty teeth of steel.

XXV.

Then came a bit of stubbed ground, once a wood,
Next a marsh, it would seem, and now mere earth
Desperate and done with; (so a fool finds mirth,
Makes a thing and then mars it, till his mood
Changes and off he goes!) within a rood—
Bog, clay and rubble, sand and stark black dearth.

XXVI.

Now blotches rankling, coloured gay and grim,
Now patches where some leanness of the soil's
Broke into moss or substances like boils;
Then came some palsied oak, a cleft in him
Like a distorted mouth that splits its rim
Gaping at death, and dies while it recoils.

XXVII.

And just as far as ever from the end!
Nought in the distance but the evening, nought
To point my footstep further! At the thought,
A great black bird, Apollyon's bosom-friend,
Sailed past, nor beat his wide wing dragon-penned
That brushed my cap—perchance the guide I sought.

XXVIII.

For, looking up, aware I somehow grew,
'Spite of the dusk, the plain had given place
All round to mountains - with such name to grace
Mere ugly heights and heaps now stolen in view.
How thus they had surprised me, - solve it, you!
How to get from them was no clearer case.

XXIX.

Yet half I seemed to recognise some trick
Of mischief happened to me, God knows when—
In a bad dream perhaps. Here ended, then,
Progress this way. When, in the very nick
Of giving up, one time more, came a click
As when a trap shuts - you're inside the den!

XXX.

Burningly it came on me all at once,
This was the place! those two hills on the right,
Crouched like two bulls locked horn in horn in fight;
While to the left, a tall scalped mountain... Dunce,
Dotard, a-dozing at the very nonce,
After a life spent training for the sight!

XXXI.

What in the midst lay but the Tower itself?
The round squat turret, blind as the fool's heart
Built of brown stone, without a counterpart
In the whole world. The tempest's mocking elf
Points to the shipman thus the unseen shelf
He strikes on, only when the timbers start.

XXXII.

Not see? because of night perhaps? - why, day
Came back again for that! before it left,
The dying sunset kindled through a cleft:
The hills, like giants at a hunting, lay
Chin upon hand, to see the game at bay,—
"Now stab and end the creature - to the heft!"

XXXIII.

Not hear? when noise was everywhere! it tolled
Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears
Of all the lost adventurers my peers,—
How such a one was strong, and such was bold,
And such was fortunate, yet each of old
Lost, lost! one moment knelled the woe of years.

XXXIV.

There they stood, ranged along the hillsides, met
To view the last of me, a living frame
For one more picture! in a sheet of flame
I saw them and I knew them all. And yet
Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set,
And blew "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came."

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Yet This Is The Mist I Missed

You insisted the mist,
I should miss...
In the midst,
Of intimacy.
Was mist missed,
But not...
In the midst,
Of what we did...
To do.

This sits with me not to forget.
Yet this is the mist,
I missed.
In remission reminiscing,
Intimately we did kiss.
And without specific resistance,
You permitted done...
We did...
To let do.

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This Morning The Rain is Sieving Down

This morning the rain is sieving down
while I drive my motorbike
to town to get a few things
in the shops
and I have to visit the Internet café.

The drops of rain is somewhat blinding
and my leather jacket is nice and hot
and the helmet guards my head,
but my jean is really soaked

and when I stop
it’s a great thunderstorm
with rain pouring down.

People walk with umbrellas
while some
with shopping bags above their heads
run to the nearest shelter
and here and there
a car is waiting for another to pull out
in the full parking aria
and I wish that the rain
will disappear for a while.

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Because I failed, shall I asperse the End

Because I failed, shall I asperse the End
With scorn or doubt, my failure to excuse;
'Gainst arduous Truth my feeble falseness use,
Like that worst foe, a vain splenetic friend?
Deem'st thou, self-amorous fool, the High will bend
If that thy utmost stature prove too small?
Though thou be dwarf, some other is more tall.
The End is fixed; have faith; the means will mend.
Failures but carve a pathway to success;
Our force is many, so our aim be one:
The foremost drop; on, those behind must press.
What boots my doing, so the deed be done?
Let my poor body lie beneath the breach:
I clomb and fell; who stand on me will reach.

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Lies

you told me you loved me
and I took the bait
because I had strong feelings
that were far from hate

you had me going
you made me fall
but I thought it was okay
as soon as I got your call

didn't you know
you meant the world to me
and as you laughed I relized
you were pretending twasn't meant to be

you've done your damage
so what else is there
you've already given me
more than I can bare

the worst part was
my friends warned me
but I didn't listen because
I thought it was meant to be

why would you do this
just to watch me fall
but I was only
your vodo doll

just one quick thing
when we walked the halls
and you didn't care
why did you answer my calls?

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