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It would have been difficult to design a path out of communism worse than the one that has been followed.

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None of This Would Have Been Mentioned

It was only 'after' they acknowledged me,
That you accused me of not telling you.
Whatever it was they had to mention.
But...
I had gone to you first to exclaim my good news.
And you ignored me.
In fact...
You wanted to bring 'that' to my attention!
As I recall.

I didn't approach them at all.
If they had not acknowledged me...
You would not have cared or known.
And I knew that.
Remember this...
I am no stranger.
And if I had been...
I would have gotten your attention.
And none of this would have been mentioned.

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If She Would Have Been Faithful

I was thinking about her
Visiting the past
Reconstructing details with old photographs
Studying the faces
With an objective point of view
Suddenly remembering doesnt haunt me
At the time you couldnt tell me
That one day Id be glad
That something that I thought was love was misinterpreted
She had another lover- she emphatically denied
But they were doin me a favor
A blessing in disguise
Chorus:
If she would have been faithful
If she could have been true
Then I wouldve been cheated
I would never know real love
I wouldve missed out on you
I watch you sleeping- your body touchin me
Theres no doubt about it
This is where I want to be
Its so ironic- I had to lose to win
I want to thank her (thank her again)
Chorus
Bridge:
Its a paradox- full of contradiction
How I got from there to here
It defies a
Logical explanation
Chorus

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Better It Would Have Been (Sonnet Corona / Crown Of Sonnets)

I

Without you much better it would have been,
if in this wide world under all the skies
I did not know you, I had never seen
the glimmer, the attraction in your eyes.

Better it would have been if I unseen
at the braking of that particular day
joyous, somewhat sincere like a teen
went on another different kind of way,

I would then have totally missed you
as our love, our joy was sealed in vain.
You would not have opportunity to do
things that leave much heartache and pain

as your heart was set in some treachery,
your blunt rebuke was not sought by me.


II

Your blunt rebuke was not sought by me,
yet you gave it to me as if earned,
as if from it I was not to be free,
its impact did hurt and really burned

right into my depths, my heart's inner core
and still I then very much loved you
every day more and even much more
as something very sincere and true

but my Lord I loved more deeper still
as He always dwelled in everything
and I try to live by His very will,
with your love being at times a cursing

and at times there was water on my glasses;
when the wild wind rushes through the grasses.


III

When the wild wind rushes through the grasses,
it is something that you will never see
nor the beauty of the places were it passes
as you can never be really quite free

from the rich earthly things that embraces
you in wantonness, in deep iniquity
and at many different kinds of places
high up on the hill and down in the lea

diamonds adorn grasses and wild flowers
as if nature cries for you and me
as tears of dew that shines, not from showers
while life is how it's determined to be,

when you had chosen a fresh sort of start;
I did not ask you to return my heart.


IV

I did not ask you to return my heart
you have trampled it again and again
and now it would be really just in vain
as it is broken in every part

but now from each other being apart
we live separate lives of joy and pain
and the simple fact does still remain,
it does not take someone really quite smart

to know that when you do not have me
your whole life becomes somewhat mundane,
then you do not really want to be free
and I know that it sounds very inane
but obviously I cannot anymore be
yours in love's strange painful mystery.


V

Yours in love's strange painful mystery
were without any tears and full of glee
but left me totally broken hearted
then I noted after more than fifteen years

that you did not take a last kind of kiss,
from me was taking whatever you could,
had totally forgotten our sweet bliss,
maybe I knew this was the way that it would.

I wish time and again not to have know you
in the way that it ended when you were gone,
while then you had been wickedly untrue
had have intimate sex with someone,

it's sometimes hard to be the only one,
when at night in darkness I lie down alone.


VI

When at night in darkness I lie down alone
the golden moon and all the stars are bright
and some of them to me are quite unknown,
Orion and the seven sisters gleam at night

but life does continually carry on
the morning sun seems at times out of sight
and it is stripped from all affection
but can constantly bring back life and light

to what is still left of my kind of world,
as if everything is falling apart
and in all the things that I do behold
you seem to be somehow the crucial part

as if everything was astray leaden,
as you left me, my life did then deaden.


VII

As you left me, my life did then deaden
as if being tied up and underfed,
walking away, not anymore a maiden,
leaving my heart filled with only dread.

In love I saw you as pure and holy
a mother for children, true to the gods,
but with your lover you acted lowly
as you did cast me away to life's odds

and you have lost all the joyful graces
with the very thoughts of you that remain,
images of your many different faces
are filled to the brim with utter pain

and to meet you again I am not keen,
without you much better it would have been.

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Mother, I May Have Been A Naughty Child

Mother, I may have been a naughty child,
But I am your child nevertheless!
You own the world, mother, you are the queen of the world,
And look at me, I go about in the habit of a beggar.

You are bent on neglecting me,
But I love you anyway, it is you, only you that I call upon.
Just as a child runs to his mother even after she has scolded him,
So do I run to you.

How could you push me away from you, mother,
You are my mother, are you not?
Oh, why did you cast me away, mother,
Leave me to play in the dust?
I would have been a better child,
Had only you been a little more kind to me.

I am sad and angry, mother,
I shall go away anywhere my eyes and my feet take me to.
I do not care now whether i live or die now, mother,
I am going away.

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Emily Dickinson

I should have been too glad, I see

313

I should have been too glad, I see—
Too lifted—for the scant degree
Of Life's penurious Round—
My little Circuit would have shamed
This new Circumference—have blamed—
The homelier time behind.

I should have been too saved—I see—
Too rescued—Fear too dim to me
That I could spell the Prayer
I knew so perfect—yesterday—
That Scalding One—Sabachthani—
Recited fluent—here—

Earth would have been too much—I see—
And Heaven—not enough for me—
I should have had the Joy
Without the Fear—to justify—
The Palm—without the Calvary—
So Savior—Crucify—
Defeat—whets Victory—they say—
The Reefs—in old Gethsemane—
Endear the Coast—beyond!
'Tis Beggars—Banquets—can define—
'Tis Parching—vitalizes Wine—
"Faith" bleats—to understand!

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What might Have Been.

And you stood there arms folded
In that street in Dubrovnik wearing
That yellow shirt and that moustache
Like some Latin lover with other people
Passing by while you posed for some
Photograph and you thinking of that
Courier dame who came to your room
The day before because your brother
Said you were sick and she sat on your
Bed in her short skirt and said how are
You now? And all you could raise while
Lying there was a small smile and you
Said feeling pretty bad and she touched
Your brow and looking so sad and the
Photo shot done you go back to the table
With the glass of wine and that paperback
Book on Schopenhauer and the hot sticky
Afternoon sun and you wondering if the
Courier dame would have been a good lay
If you’d been feeling better on a different
Day and your brother said lets’ go see the
Sights and you finished the wine and began
To tour the city musing on the young courier
And the missed chance saying to yourself
Walking the streets oh my god what a pity.

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What Might Have Been.(Poem)

You had been in Tangiers
until the early hours

of the morning
and was brought back

to base camp on the truck
as the sun was beginning to rise

over the horizon
and had then gone

to crash down
in your tent

too tired to undress
and slept through

until midday
then showered

and sat in the bar
when Mamie came

and sat beside you
and said

where'd you go last night?
I thought you

were going to walk me
down by the beach

and watch the sun rise
from the sea?

I was too tired
you said

I crashed out in my tent
she looked at her glass of coke

I could have joined you there
she whispered

and done what?
you said

slept beside me?
she shifted her buttocks

on the stool and said
well it would have been better

than sleeping in my tent
with that Scottish hen

as her brother calls her
you sipped your drink

and watched
the old Moroccan guy

in the corner
inhale on his marijuana smoke

plus I had her snoring
and moaning in her sleep

Mamie added
giving you her side on stare

yes
you said

it would have been
better than that

and she put her hand
on your thigh

and rubbed it back
and forth and said

but it didn't happen
maybe next time

you replied
imaging it all

in your mind
right down

to the last removing
of clothes

and trying to move
in the tent's small space

your body drained
of all strength

wanting only sleep
the Tangier booze

and belly dancers
and nightclub smoke and music

clinging on your flesh
and ringing in your ears

and she trying
to get you in

the right place
and you closing your eyes

and drifting away
like one who dies.

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The Night It Should Have Been Me

I was there...
Over in that land...beyond the sea...
Begging God...Don't let it be...
Lying... Frighten...Hiding on the ground...
As Rockets...Guns...Claymores...
Exploding...all around

The radio... Help me...Call had come in...
He said... God...I'm hit...very bad...
I couldn't believe... How my heart went...
Just so... damn mad...
I moved... as it was Mauir...
For a blinding flash...had torn my soul...
And slammed.. knocked my helmet from my hair...

My eyes and soul looked toward black...
With so much fright...
I could hardly move...because of my pounding...that night
I had to find him...
I had to make amends...
Because...He had taken it...for me...My friend

I had to find him... I had too....
I had... made the path
Oh.. Please... please God... No... Don't let it be...
But his leg was gone... blown off...above the knee...
By Star Bursts... flashing pale...white...light...
My hands shook as I worked...Scorched that night...

His hand clinched mine
His eyes and face...He just said hi...
I worked at fever pitch...105... Begging... God...
Jimmy... Jimmy... don't you...Die
I checked his face again...so gray and white
We had to move...again...
Facing Black... again that night

I looked for my soul...and my gun
And now...forever...carry about forty more tons
Like a mother...with child in arms...
I ran...so my soul...would have no more harm

We were on the 10,000 yard track...
Him in my arms...my shoulder his pack...
I could see the finish line...that Huey...
It was shouting....cheering...throwing Red...
Yellow...Green... and Black....
Trying desperately...too... keep my soul...from harm
I shouted...Hold tight...Jim...with your arms
I fought...Desperate to keep my soul...from any more harm

It will never be complete...nor whole
I had said I was tired...
We'd not had any sleep...watching out for the V.C.
He'd said Relax...and sleep... Like Christ on the Cross
This night...I'll take for thee...
Oh please God...Please...Now they can see...
That was the night...
That It Should Have Been Me.....!

Now I know when you read this, you'll think it wasn't my fault.
But to me! It does feel that way....When for my own selfish need
to have some sleep. I'm writing this so that others, may never have to
face this sort of thing. So if you see me, walking that path, that continues
onto Hell...Just step to the side...
Make sure... you're not doing the same, as I had done...
And please... remember to help others first.
Before you think or yourself.
When you help others first..
That is the way...
God, intended it to be...
That's why, He was staked to a tree...
Because other wise, for my sins also
It would have been me...
Like it was for Him...At Gethsemane....

For Jimmy
By Clyde Grant Bryson

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Their Mindsets Have Been Fixed Upon Self Reflection

They were told.
They were WARNED!
And they,
Ignored.
But...
The hyprocrites found time to pray.

And prayed they did and some all day,
To have things 'specifically' done their way.
Believing themselves to be left in charge to command.
And across the land,
They popularized their misdeeds.
With an increasing arrogance that kept others oppressed.
Believing themselves to be blessed...
To perform acts of stubbornness,
Instead of selecting to perform acts of correctness.

They were told.
They were WARNED!
And they,
Ignored.
But...
The hyprocrites found time to pray.

And today...
They collect themselves in groups to protest.
Upset by the truth that has come their way.
And today,
Their mindsets have been fixed upon self reflection.
But not a mirror will get them to see,
An overdue need...
To self examine with an honesty they can not face.

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Byron

Don Juan: Canto The Ninth

Oh, Wellington! (or 'Villainton'--for Fame
Sounds the heroic syllables both ways;
France could not even conquer your great name,
But punn'd it down to this facetious phrase-
Beating or beaten she will laugh the same),
You have obtain'd great pensions and much praise:
Glory like yours should any dare gainsay,
Humanity would rise, and thunder 'Nay!'

I don't think that you used Kinnaird quite well
In Marinet's affair--in fact, 'twas shabby,
And like some other things won't do to tell
Upon your tomb in Westminster's old abbey.
Upon the rest 'tis not worth while to dwell,
Such tales being for the tea-hours of some tabby;
But though your years as man tend fast to zero,
In fact your grace is still but a young hero.

Though Britain owes (and pays you too) so much,
Yet Europe doubtless owes you greatly more:
You have repair'd Legitimacy's crutch,
A prop not quite so certain as before:
The Spanish, and the French, as well as Dutch,
Have seen, and felt, how strongly you restore;
And Waterloo has made the world your debtor
(I wish your bards would sing it rather better).

You are 'the best of cut-throats:'--do not start;
The phrase is Shakspeare's, and not misapplied:
War's a brain-spattering, windpipe-slitting art,
Unless her cause by right be sanctified.
If you have acted once a generous part,
The world, not the world's masters, will decide,
And I shall be delighted to learn who,
Save you and yours, have gain'd by Waterloo?

I am no flatterer- you 've supp'd full of flattery:
They say you like it too- 't is no great wonder.
He whose whole life has been assault and battery,
At last may get a little tired of thunder;
And swallowing eulogy much more than satire, he
May like being praised for every lucky blunder,
Call'd 'Saviour of the Nations'--not yet saved,
And 'Europe's Liberator'--still enslaved.

I've done. Now go and dine from off the plate
Presented by the Prince of the Brazils,
And send the sentinel before your gate
A slice or two from your luxurious meals:
He fought, but has not fed so well of late.
Some hunger, too, they say the people feels:--
There is no doubt that you deserve your ration,
But pray give back a little to the nation.

I don't mean to reflect--a man so great as
You, my lord duke! is far above reflection:
The high Roman fashion, too, of Cincinnatus,
With modern history has but small connection:
Though as an Irishman you love potatoes,
You need not take them under your direction;
And half a million for your Sabine farm
Is rather dear!--I'm sure I mean no harm.

Great men have always scorn'd great recompenses:
Epaminondas saved his Thebes, and died,
Not leaving even his funeral expenses:
George Washington had thanks and nought beside,
Except the all-cloudless glory (which few men's is
To free his country: Pitt too had his pride,
And as a high-soul'd minister of state is
Renown'd for ruining Great Britain gratis.

Never had mortal man such opportunity,
Except Napoleon, or abused it more:
You might have freed fallen Europe from the unity
Of tyrants, and been blest from shore to shore:
And now--what is your fame? Shall the Muse tune it ye?
Now--that the rabble's first vain shouts are o'er?
Go! hear it in your famish'd country's cries!
Behold the world! and curse your victories!

As these new cantos touch on warlike feats,
To you the unflattering Muse deigns to inscribe
Truths, that you will not read in the Gazettes,
But which 'tis time to teach the hireling tribe
Who fatten on their country's gore, and debts,
Must be recited, and- without a bribe.
You did great things; but not being great in mind,
Have left undone the greatest- and mankind.

Death laughs--Go ponder o'er the skeleton
With which men image out the unknown thing
That hides the past world, like to a set sun
Which still elsewhere may rouse a brighter spring--
Death laughs at all you weep for:--look upon
This hourly dread of all! whose threaten'd sting
Turns life to terror, even though in its sheath:
Mark how its lipless mouth grins without breath!

Mark how it laughs and scorns at all you are!
And yet was what you are: from ear to ear
It laughs not--there is now no fleshy bar
So call'd; the Antic long hath ceased to hear,
But still he smiles; and whether near or far,
He strips from man that mantle (far more dear
Than even the tailor's), his incarnate skin,
White, black, or copper--the dead bones will grin.

And thus Death laughs,--it is sad merriment,
But still it is so; and with such example
Why should not Life be equally content
With his superior, in a smile to trample
Upon the nothings which are daily spent
Like bubbles on an ocean much less ample
Than the eternal deluge, which devours
Suns as rays--worlds like atoms--years like hours?

'To be, or not to be? that is the question,'
Says Shakspeare, who just now is much in fashion.
I am neither Alexander nor Hephaestion,
Nor ever had for abstract fame much passion;
But would much rather have a sound digestion
Than Buonaparte's cancer: could I dash on
Through fifty victories to shame or fame-
Without a stomach what were a good name?

'O dura ilia messorum!'--'Oh
Ye rigid guts of reapers!' I translate
For the great benefit of those who know
What indigestion is--that inward fate
Which makes all Styx through one small liver flow.
A peasant's sweat is worth his lord's estate:
Let this one toil for bread- that rack for rent,
He who sleeps best may be the most content.

'To be, or not to be?'--Ere I decide,
I should be glad to know that which is being?
'T is true we speculate both far and wide,
And deem, because we see, we are all-seeing:
For my part, I 'll enlist on neither side,
Until I see both sides for once agreeing.
For me, I sometimes think that life is death,
Rather than life a mere affair of breath.

'Que scais-je?' was the motto of Montaigne,
As also of the first academicians:
That all is dubious which man may attain,
Was one of their most favourite positions.
There's no such thing as certainty, that's plain
As any of Mortality's conditions;
So little do we know what we're about in
This world, I doubt if doubt itself be doubting.

It is a pleasant voyage perhaps to float,
Like Pyrrho, on a sea of speculation;
But what if carrying sail capsize the boat?
Your wise men don't know much of navigation;
And swimming long in the abyss of thought
Is apt to tire: a calm and shallow station
Well nigh the shore, where one stoops down and gathers
Some pretty shell, is best for moderate bathers.

'But heaven,' as Cassio says, 'is above all--
No more of this, then,--let us pray!' We have
Souls to save, since Eve's slip and Adam's fall,
Which tumbled all mankind into the grave,
Besides fish, beasts, and birds. 'The sparrow's fall
Is special providence,' though how it gave
Offence, we know not; probably it perch'd
Upon the tree which Eve so fondly search'd.

Oh, ye immortal gods! what is theogony?
Oh, thou too, mortal man! what is philanthropy?
Oh, world! which was and is, what is cosmogony?
Some people have accused me of misanthropy;
And yet I know no more than the mahogany
That forms this desk, of what they mean; lykanthropy
I comprehend, for without transformation
Men become wolves on any slight occasion.

But I, the mildest, meekest of mankind,
Like Moses, or Melancthon, who have ne'er
Done anything exceedingly unkind,--
And (though I could not now and then forbear
Following the bent of body or of mind)
Have always had a tendency to spare,--
Why do they call me misanthrope? Because
They hate me, not I them.--and here we'll pause.

'Tis time we should proceed with our good poem,--
For I maintain that it is really good,
Not only in the body but the proem,
However little both are understood
Just now,--but by and by the Truth will show 'em
Herself in her sublimest attitude:
And till she doth, I fain must be content
To share her beauty and her banishment.

Our hero (and, I trust, kind reader, yours)
Was left upon his way to the chief city
Of the immortal Peter's polish'd boors
Who still have shown themselves more brave than witty.
I know its mighty empire now allures
Much flattery--even Voltaire's, and that's a pity.
For me, I deem an absolute autocrat
Not a barbarian, but much worse than that.

And I will war, at least in words (and--should
My chance so happen--deeds), with all who war
With Thought;--and of Thought's foes by far most rude,
Tyrants and sycophants have been and are.
I know not who may conquer: if I could
Have such a prescience, it should be no bar
To this my plain, sworn, downright detestation
Of every depotism in every nation.

It is not that I adulate the people:
Without me, there are demagogues enough,
And infidels, to pull down every steeple,
And set up in their stead some proper stuff.
Whether they may sow scepticism to reap hell,
As is the Christian dogma rather rough,
I do not know;--I wish men to be free
As much from mobs as kings- from you as me.

The consequence is, being of no party,
I shall offend all parties: never mind!
My words, at least, are more sincere and hearty
Than if I sought to sail before the wind.
He who has nought to gain can have small art: he
Who neither wishes to be bound nor bind,
May still expatiate freely, as will I,
Nor give my voice to slavery's jackal cry.

That's an appropriate simile, that jackal;--
I 've heard them in the Ephesian ruins howl
By night, as do that mercenary pack all,
Power's base purveyors, who for pickings prowl,
And scent the prey their masters would attack all.
However, the poor jackals are less foul
(As being the brave lions' keen providers)
Than human insects, catering for spiders.

Raise but an arm! 'twill brush their web away,
And without that, their poison and their claws
Are useless. Mind, good people! what I say
(Or rather peoples)--go on without pause!
The web of these tarantulas each day
Increases, till you shall make common cause:
None, save the Spanish fly and Attic bee,
As yet are strongly stinging to be free.

Don Juan, who had shone in the late slaughter,
Was left upon his way with the despatch,
Where blood was talk'd of as we would of water;
And carcasses that lay as thick as thatch
O'er silenced cities, merely served to flatter
Fair Catherine's pastime--who look'd on the match
Between these nations as a main of cocks,
Wherein she liked her own to stand like rocks.

And there in a kibitka he roll'd on
(A cursed sort of carriage without springs,
Which on rough roads leaves scarcely a whole bone),
Pondering on glory, chivalry, and kings,
And orders, and on all that he had done--
And wishing that post-horses had the wings
Of Pegasus, or at the least post-chaises
Had feathers, when a traveller on deep ways is.

At every jolt--and they were many--still
He turn'd his eyes upon his little charge,
As if he wish'd that she should fare less ill
Than he, in these sad highways left at large
To ruts, and flints, and lovely Nature's skill,
Who is no paviour, nor admits a barge
On her canals, where God takes sea and land,
Fishery and farm, both into his own hand.

At least he pays no rent, and has best right
To be the first of what we used to call
'Gentlemen farmer'--a race worn out quite,
Since lately there have been no rents at all,
And 'gentlemen' are in a piteous plight,
And 'farmers' can't raise Ceres from her fall:
She fell with Buonaparte--What strange thoughts
Arise, when we see emperors fall with oats!

But Juan turn'd his eyes on the sweet child
Whom he had saved from slaughter--what a trophy
Oh! ye who build up monuments, defiled
With gore, like Nadir Shah, that costive sophy,
Who, after leaving Hindostan a wild,
And scarce to the Mogul a cup of coffee
To soothe his woes withal, was slain, the sinner!
Because he could no more digest his dinner;--

Oh ye! or we! or he! or she! reflect,
That one life saved, especially if young
Or pretty, is a thing to recollect
Far sweeter than the greenest laurels sprung
From the manure of human clay, though deck'd
With all the praises ever said or sung:
Though hymn'd by every harp, unless within
Your heart joins chorus, Fame is but a din.

Oh! ye great authors luminous, voluminous!
Ye twice ten hundred thousand daily scribes!
Whose pamphlets, volumes, newspapers, illumine us!
Whether you're paid by government in bribes,
To prove the public debt is not consuming us--
Or, roughly treading on the 'courtier's kibes'
With clownish heel, your popular circulation
Feeds you by printing half the realm's starvation;--

Oh, ye great authors!--'Apropos des bottes,'--
I have forgotten what I meant to say,
As sometimes have been greater sages' lots;
'Twas something calculated to allay
All wrath in barracks, palaces, or cots:
Certes it would have been but thrown away,
And that's one comfort for my lost advice,
Although no doubt it was beyond all price.

But let it go:--it will one day be found
With other relics of 'a former world,'
When this world shall be former, underground,
Thrown topsy-turvy, twisted, crisp'd, and curl'd,
Baked, fried, or burnt, turn'd inside-out, or drown'd,
Like all the worlds before, which have been hurl'd
First out of, and then back again to chaos,
The superstratum which will overlay us.

So Cuvier says;--and then shall come again
Unto the new creation, rising out
From our old crash, some mystic, ancient strain
Of things destroy'd and left in airy doubt:
Like to the notions we now entertain
Of Titans, giants, fellows of about
Some hundred feet in height, not to say miles,
And mammoths, and your winged crocodiles.

Think if then George the Fourth should be dug up!
How the new worldlings of the then new East
Will wonder where such animals could sup!
(For they themselves will be but of the least:
Even worlds miscarry, when too oft they pup,
And every new creation hath decreased
In size, from overworking the material--
Men are but maggots of some huge Earth's burial.)

How will--to these young people, just thrust out
From some fresh Paradise, and set to plough,
And dig, and sweat, and turn themselves about,
And plant, and reap, and spin, and grind, and sow,
Till all the arts at length are brought about,
Especially of war and taxing,--how,
I say, will these great relics, when they see 'em,
Look like the monsters of a new museum?

But I am apt to grow too metaphysical:
'The time is out of joint,'--and so am I;
I quite forget this poem's merely quizzical,
And deviate into matters rather dry.
I ne'er decide what I shall say, and this I cal
Much too poetical: men should know why
They write, and for what end; but, note or text,
I never know the word which will come next.

So on I ramble, now and then narrating,
Now pondering:--it is time we should narrate.
I left Don Juan with his horses baiting--
Now we 'll get o'er the ground at a great rate.
I shall not be particular in stating
His journey, we 've so many tours of late:
Suppose him then at Petersburgh; suppose
That pleasant capital of painted snows;

Suppose him in a handsome uniform,--
A scarlet coat, black facings, a long plume,
Waving, like sails new shiver'd in a storm,
Over a cock'd hat in a crowded room,
And brilliant breeches, bright as a Cairn Gorme,
Of yellow casimere we may presume,
White stocking drawn uncurdled as new milk
O'er limbs whose symmetry set off the silk;

Suppose him sword by side, and hat in hand,
Made up by youth, fame, and an army tailor-
That great enchanter, at whose rod's command
Beauty springs forth, and Nature's self turns paler,
Seeing how Art can make her work more grand
(When she don't pin men's limbs in like a gaoler),--
Behold him placed as if upon a pillar! He
Seems Love turn'd a lieutenant of artillery:--

His bandage slipp'd down into a cravat;
His wings subdued to epaulettes; his quiver
Shrunk to a scabbard, with his arrows at
His side as a small sword, but sharp as ever;
His bow converted into a cock'd hat;
But still so like, that Psyche were more clever
Than some wives (who make blunders no less stupid),
If she had not mistaken him for Cupid.

The courtiers stared, the ladies whisper'd, and
The empress smiled: the reigning favourite frown'd--
I quite forget which of them was in hand
Just then; as they are rather numerous found,
Who took by turns that difficult command
Since first her majesty was singly crown'd:
But they were mostly nervous six-foot fellows,
All fit to make a Patagonian jealous.

Juan was none of these, but slight and slim,
Blushing and beardless; and yet ne'ertheless
There was a something in his turn of limb,
And still more in his eye, which seem'd to express,
That though he look'd one of the seraphim,
There lurk'd a man beneath the spirit's dress.
Besides, the empress sometimes liked a boy,
And had just buried the fair-faced Lanskoi.

No wonder then that Yermoloff, or Momonoff,
Or Scherbatoff, or any other off
Or on, might dread her majesty had not room enough
Within her bosom (which was not too tough)
For a new flame; a thought to cast of gloom enough
Along the aspect, whether smooth or rough,
Of him who, in the language of his station,
Then held that 'high official situation.'

O, gentle ladies! should you seek to know
The import of this diplomatic phrase,
Bid Ireland's Londonderry's Marquess show
His parts of speech; and in the strange displays
Of that odd string of words, all in a row,
Which none divine, and every one obeys,
Perhaps you may pick out some queer no meaning,
Of that weak wordy harvest the sole gleaning.

I think I can explain myself without
That sad inexplicable beast of prey--
That Sphinx, whose words would ever be a doubt,
Did not his deeds unriddle them each day--
That monstrous hieroglyphic--that long spout
Of blood and water, leaden Castlereagh!
And here I must an anecdote relate,
But luckily of no great length or weight.

An English lady ask'd of an Italian,
What were the actual and official duties
Of the strange thing some women set a value on,
Which hovers oft about some married beauties,
Called 'Cavalier servente?'--a Pygmalion
Whose statues warm (I fear, alas! too true 'tis)
Beneath his art. The dame, press'd to disclose them,
Said--'Lady, I beseech you to suppose them.'

And thus I supplicate your supposition,
And mildest, matron-like interpretation,
Of the imperial favourite's condition.
'T was a high place, the highest in the nation
In fact, if not in rank; and the suspicion
Of any one's attaining to his station,
No doubt gave pain, where each new pair of shoulders,
If rather broad, made stocks rise and their holders.

Juan, I said, was a most beauteous boy,
And had retain'd his boyish look beyond
The usual hirsute seasons which destroy,
With beards and whiskers, and the like, the fond
Parisian aspect which upset old Troy
And founded Doctors' Commons:--I have conn'd
The history of divorces, which, though chequer'd,
Calls Ilion's the first damages on record.

And Catherine, who loved all things (save her lord,
Who was gone to his place), and pass'd for much
Admiring those (by dainty dames abhorr'd)
Gigantic gentlemen, yet had a touch
Of sentiment; and he she most adored
Was the lamented Lanskoi, who was such
A lover as had cost her many a tear,
And yet but made a middling grenadier.

Oh thou 'teterrima causa' of all 'belli'--
Thou gate of life and death--thou nondescript!
Whence is our exit and our entrance,--well I
May pause in pondering how all souls are dipt
In thy perennial fountain:--how man fell I
Know not, since knowledge saw her branches stript
Of her first fruit; but how he falls and rises
Since, thou hast settled beyond all surmises.

Some call thee 'the worst cause of war,' but I
Maintain thou art the best: for after all
From thee we come, to thee we go, and why
To get at thee not batter down a wall,
Or waste a world? since no one can deny
Thou dost replenish worlds both great and small:
With, or without thee, all things at a stand
Are, or would be, thou sea of life's dry land!

Catherine, who was the grand epitome
Of that great cause of war, or peace, or what
You please (it causes all the things which be,
So you may take your choice of this or that)--
Catherine, I say. was very glad to see
The handsome herald, on whose plumage sat
Victory; and pausing as she saw him kneel
With his despatch, forgot to break the seal.

Then recollecting the whole empress, nor
forgetting quite the woman (which composed
At least three parts of this great whole), she tore
The letter open with an air which posed
The court, that watch'd each look her visage wore,
Until a royal smile at length disclosed
Fair weather for the day. Though rather spacious,
Her face was noble, her eyes fine, mouth gracious.

Great joy was hers, or rather joys: the first
Was a ta'en city, thirty thousand slain.
Glory and triumph o'er her aspect burst,
As an East Indian sunrise on the main.
These quench'd a moment her ambition's thirst--
So Arab deserts drink in summer's rain:
In vain!- As fall the dews on quenchless sands,
Blood only serves to wash Ambition's hands!

Her next amusement was more fanciful;
She smiled at mad Suwarrow's rhymes, who threw
Into a Russian couplet rather dull
The whole gazette of thousands whom he slew.
Her third was feminine enough to annul
The shudder which runs naturally through
Our veins, when things call'd sovereigns think it best
To kill, and generals turn it into jest.

The two first feelings ran their course complete,
And lighted first her eye, and then her mouth:
The whole court look'd immediately most sweet,
Like flowers well water'd after a long drouth.
But when on the lieutenant at her feet
Her majesty, who liked to gaze on youth
Almost as much as on a new despatch,
Glanced mildly, all the world was on the watch.

Though somewhat large, exuberant, and truculent,
When wroth- while pleased, she was as fine a figure
As those who like things rosy, ripe, and succulent,
Would wish to look on, while they are in vigour.
She could repay each amatory look you lent
With interest, and in turn was wont with rigour
To exact of Cupid's bills the full amount
At sight, nor would permit you to discount.

With her the latter, though at times convenient,
Was not so necessary; for they tell
That she was handsome, and though fierce look'd lenient,
And always used her favourites too well.
If once beyond her boudoir's precincts in ye went,
Your 'fortune' was in a fair way 'to swell
A man' (as Giles says); for though she would widow all
Nations, she liked man as an individual.

What a strange thing is man? and what a stranger
Is woman! What a whirlwind is her head,
And what a whirlpool full of depth and danger
Is all the rest about her! Whether wed
Or widow, maid or mother, she can change her
Mind like the wind: whatever she has said
Or done, is light to what she'll say or do;--
The oldest thing on record, and yet new!

Oh Catherine! (for of all interjections,
To thee both oh! and ah! belong of right
In love and war) how odd are the connections
Of human thoughts, which jostle in their flight!
Just now yours were cut out in different sections:
First Ismail's capture caught your fancy quite;
Next of new knights, the fresh and glorious batch;
And thirdly he who brought you the despatch!

Shakspeare talks of 'the herald Mercury
New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;'
And some such visions cross'd her majesty,
While her young herald knelt before her still.
'Tis very true the hill seem'd rather high,
For a lieutenant to climb up; but skill
Smooth'd even the Simplon's steep, and by God's blessing
With youth and health all kisses are 'heaven-kissing.'

Her majesty look'd down, the youth look'd up--
And so they fell in love;--she with his face,
His grace, his God-knows-what: for Cupid's cup
With the first draught intoxicates apace,
A quintessential laudanum or 'black drop,'
Which makes one drunk at once, without the base
Expedient of full bumpers; for the eye
In love drinks all life's fountains (save tears) dry.

He, on the other hand, if not in love,
Fell into that no less imperious passion,
Self-love- which, when some sort of thing above
Ourselves, a singer, dancer, much in fashion,
Or duchess, princess, empress, 'deigns to prove'
('Tis Pope's phrase) a great longing, though a rash one,
For one especial person out of many,
Makes us believe ourselves as good as any.

Besides, he was of that delighted age
Which makes all female ages equal--when
We don't much care with whom we may engage,
As bold as Daniel in the lion's den,
So that we can our native sun assuage
In the next ocean, which may flow just then,
To make a twilight in, just as Sol's heat is
Quench'd in the lap of the salt sea, or Thetis.

And Catherine (we must say thus much for Catherine),
Though bold and bloody, was the kind of thing
Whose temporary passion was quite flattering,
Because each lover look'd a sort of king,
Made up upon an amatory pattern,
A royal husband in all save the ring--
Which, being the damn'dest part of matrimony,
Seem'd taking out the sting to leave the honey.

And when you add to this, her womanhood
In its meridian, her blue eyes or gray
(The last, if they have soul, are quite as good,
Or better, as the best examples say:
Napoleon's, Mary's (queen of Scotland), should
Lend to that colour a transcendent ray;
And Pallas also sanctions the same hue,
Too wise to look through optics black or blue)--

Her sweet smile, and her then majestic figure,
Her plumpness, her imperial condescension,
Her preference of a boy to men much bigger
(Fellows whom Messalina's self would pension),
Her prime of life, just now in juicy vigour,
With other extras, which we need not mention,--
All these, or any one of these, explain
Enough to make a stripling very vain.

And that's enough, for love is vanity,
Selfish in its beginning as its end,
Except where 't is a mere insanity,
A maddening spirit which would strive to blend
Itself with beauty's frail inanity,
On which the passion's self seems to depend:
And hence some heathenish philosophers
Make love the main spring of the universe.

Besides Platonic love, besides the love
Of God, the love of sentiment, the loving
Of faithful pairs (I needs must rhyme with dove,
That good old steam-boat which keeps verses moving
'Gainst reason--Reason ne'er was hand-and-glove
With rhyme, but always leant less to improving
The sound than sense)--beside all these pretences
To love, there are those things which words name senses;

Those movements, those improvements in our bodies
Which make all bodies anxious to get out
Of their own sand-pits, to mix with a goddess,
For such all women are at first no doubt.
How beautiful that moment! and how odd is
That fever which precedes the languid rout
Of our sensations! What a curious way
The whole thing is of clothing souls in clay!

The noblest kind of love is love Platonical,
To end or to begin with; the next grand
Is that which may be christen'd love canonical,
Because the clergy take the thing in hand;
The third sort to be noted in our chronicle
As flourishing in every Christian land,
Is when chaste matrons to their other ties
Add what may be call'd marriage in disguise.

Well, we won't analyse--our story must
Tell for itself: the sovereign was smitten,
Juan much flatter'd by her love, or lust;-
I cannot stop to alter words once written,
And the two are so mix'd with human dust,
That he who names one, both perchance may hit on:
But in such matters Russia's mighty empress
Behaved no better than a common sempstress.

The whole court melted into one wide whisper,
And all lips were applied unto all ears!
The elder ladies' wrinkles curl'd much crisper
As they beheld; the younger cast some leers
On one another, and each lovely lisper
Smiled as she talk'd the matter o'er; but tears
Of rivalship rose in each clouded eye
Of all the standing army who stood by.

All the ambassadors of all the powers
Enquired, Who was this very new young man,
Who promised to be great in some few hours?
Which is full soon--though life is but a span.
Already they beheld the silver showers
Of rubles rain, as fast as specie can,
Upon his cabinet, besides the presents
Of several ribands, and some thousand peasants.

Catherine was generous,--all such ladies are:
Love, that great opener of the heart and all
The ways that lead there, be they near or far,
Above, below, by turnpikes great or small,--
Love (though she had a cursed taste for war,
And was not the best wife, unless we call
Such Clytemnestra, though perhaps 't is better
That one should die, than two drag on the fetter)--

Love had made Catherine make each lover's fortune,
Unlike our own half-chaste Elizabeth,
Whose avarice all disbursements did importune,
If history, the grand liar, ever saith
The truth; and though grief her old age might shorten,
Because she put a favourite to death,
Her vile, ambiguous method of flirtation,
And stinginess, disgrace her sex and station.

But when the levee rose, and all was bustle
In the dissolving circle, all the nations'
Ambassadors began as 'twere to hustle
Round the young man with their congratulations.
Also the softer silks were heard to rustle
Of gentle dames, among whose recreations
It is to speculate on handsome faces,
Especially when such lead to high places.

Juan, who found himself, he knew not how,
A general object of attention, made
His answers with a very graceful bow,
As if born for the ministerial trade.
Though modest, on his unembarrass'd brow
Nature had written 'gentleman.' He said
Little, but to the purpose; and his manner
Flung hovering graces o'er him like a banner.

An order from her majesty consign'd
Our young lieutenant to the genial care
Of those in office: all the world look'd kind
(As it will look sometimes with the first stare,
Which youth would not act ill to keep in mind),
As also did Miss Protasoff then there,
Named from her mystic office 'l'Eprouveuse,'
A term inexplicable to the Muse.

With her then, as in humble duty bound,
Juan retired,--and so will I, until
My Pegasus shall tire of touching ground.
We have just lit on a 'heaven-kissing hill,'
So lofty that I feel my brain turn round,
And all my fancies whirling like a mill;
Which is a signal to my nerves and brain,
To take a quiet ride in some green Lane.

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Canto the Ninth

I
Oh, Wellington! (or "Villainton" -- for Fame
Sounds the heroic syllables both ways;
France could not even conquer your great name,
But punn'd it down to this facetious phrase --
Beating or beaten she will laugh the same),
You have obtain'd great pensions and much praise:
Glory like yours should any dare gainsay,
Humanity would rise, and thunder "Nay!"

II
I don't think that you used Kinnaird quite well
In Marinet's affair -- in fact, 't was shabby,
And like some other things won't do to tell
Upon your tomb in Westminster's old abbey.
Upon the rest 't is not worth while to dwell,
Such tales being for the tea-hours of some tabby;
But though your years as man tend fast to zero,
In fact your grace is still but a young hero.

III
Though Britain owes (and pays you too) so much,
Yet Europe doubtless owes you greatly more:
You have repair'd Legitimacy's crutch,
A prop not quite so certain as before:
The Spanish, and the French, as well as Dutch,
Have seen, and felt, how strongly you restore;
And Waterloo has made the world your debtor
(I wish your bards would sing it rather better).

IV
You are "the best of cut-throats:" -- do not start;
The phrase is Shakspeare's, and not misapplied:
War's a brain-spattering, windpipe-slitting art,
Unless her cause by right be sanctified.
If you have acted once a generous part,
The world, not the world's masters, will decide,
And I shall be delighted to learn who,
Save you and yours, have gain'd by Waterloo?

V
I am no flatterer -- you've supp'd full of flattery:
They say you like it too -- 't is no great wonder.
He whose whole life has been assault and battery,
At last may get a little tired of thunder;
And swallowing eulogy much more than satire, he
May like being praised for every lucky blunder,
Call'd "Saviour of the Nations" -- not yet saved,
And "Europe's Liberator" -- still enslaved.

VI
I've done. Now go and dine from off the plate
Presented by the Prince of the Brazils,
And send the sentinel before your gate
A slice or two from your luxurious meals:
He fought, but has not fed so well of late.
Some hunger, too, they say the people feels: --
There is no doubt that you deserve your ration,
But pray give back a little to the nation.

VII
I don't mean to reflect -- a man so great as
You, my lord duke! is far above reflection:
The high Roman fashion, too, of Cincinnatus,
With modern history has but small connection:
Though as an Irishman you love potatoes,
You need not take them under your direction;
And half a million for your Sabine farm
Is rather dear! -- I'm sure I mean no harm.

VIII
Great men have always scorn'd great recompenses:
Epaminondas saved his Thebes, and died,
Not leaving even his funeral expenses:
George Washington had thanks and nought beside,
Except the all-cloudless glory (which few men's is)
To free his country: Pitt too had his pride,
And as a high-soul'd minister of state is
Renown'd for ruining Great Britain gratis.

IX
Never had mortal man such opportunity,
Except Napoleon, or abused it more:
You might have freed fallen Europe from the unity
Of tyrants, and been blest from shore to shore:
And now -- what is your fame? Shall the Muse tune it ye?
Now -- that the rabble's first vain shouts are o'er?
Go! hear it in your famish'd country's cries!
Behold the world! and curse your victories!

X
As these new cantos touch on warlike feats,
To you the unflattering Muse deigns to inscribe
Truths, that you will not read in the Gazettes,
But which 't is time to teach the hireling tribe
Who fatten on their country's gore, and debts,
Must be recited, and -- without a bribe.
You did great things; but not being great in mind,
Have left undone the greatest -- and mankind.

XI
Death laughs -- Go ponder o'er the skeleton
With which men image out the unknown thing
That hides the past world, like to a set sun
Which still elsewhere may rouse a brighter spring --
Death laughs at all you weep for: -- look upon
This hourly dread of all! whose threaten'd sting
Turns life to terror, even though in its sheath:
Mark how its lipless mouth grins without breath!

XII
Mark how it laughs and scorns at all you are!
And yet was what you are: from ear to ear
It laughs not -- there is now no fleshy bar
So call'd; the Antic long hath ceased to hear,
But still he smiles; and whether near or far,
He strips from man that mantle (far more dear
Than even the tailor's), his incarnate skin,
White, black, or copper -- the dead bones will grin.

XIII
And thus Death laughs, -- it is sad merriment,
But still it is so; and with such example
Why should not Life be equally content
With his superior, in a smile to trample
Upon the nothings which are daily spent
Like bubbles on an ocean much less ample
Than the eternal deluge, which devours
Suns as rays -- worlds like atoms -- years like hours?

XIV
"To be, or not to be? that is the question,"
Says Shakspeare, who just now is much in fashion.
I am neither Alexander nor Hephæstion,
Nor ever had for abstract fame much passion;
But would much rather have a sound digestion
Than Buonaparte's cancer: could I dash on
Through fifty victories to shame or fame --
Without a stomach what were a good name?

XV
"O dura ilia messorum!" -- "Oh
Ye rigid guts of reapers!" I translate
For the great benefit of those who know
What indigestion is -- that inward fate
Which makes all Styx through one small liver flow.
A peasant's sweat is worth his lord's estate:
Let this one toil for bread -- that rack for rent,
He who sleeps best may be the most content.

XVI
"To be, or not to be?" -- Ere I decide,
I should be glad to know that which is being?
'T is true we speculate both far and wide,
And deem, because we see, we are all-seeing:
For my part, I'll enlist on neither side,
Until I see both sides for once agreeing.
For me, I sometimes think that life is death,
Rather than life a mere affair of breath.

XVII
"Que scais-je?" was the motto of Montaigne,
As also of the first academicians:
That all is dubious which man may attain,
Was one of their most favourite positions.
There's no such thing as certainty, that's plain
As any of Mortality's conditions;
So little do we know what we're about in
This world, I doubt if doubt itself be doubting.

XVIII
It is a pleasant voyage perhaps to float,
Like Pyrrho, on a sea of speculation;
But what if carrying sail capsize the boat?
Your wise men don't know much of navigation;
And swimming long in the abyss of thought
Is apt to tire: a calm and shallow station
Well nigh the shore, where one stoops down and gathers
Some pretty shell, is best for moderate bathers.

XIX
"But heaven," as Cassio says, "is above all --
No more of this, then, -- let us pray!" We have
Souls to save, since Eve's slip and Adam's fall,
Which tumbled all mankind into the grave,
Besides fish, beasts, and birds. "The sparrow's fall
Is special providence," though how it gave
Offence, we know not; probably it perch'd
Upon the tree which Eve so fondly search'd.

XX
Oh, ye immortal gods! what is theogony?
Oh, thou too, mortal man! what is philanthropy?
Oh, world! which was and is, what is cosmogony?
Some people have accused me of misanthropy;
And yet I know no more than the mahogany
That forms this desk, of what they mean; Lykanthropy
I comprehend, for without transformation
Men become wolves on any slight occasion.

XXI
But I, the mildest, meekest of mankind,
Like Moses, or Melancthon, who have ne'er
Done anything exceedingly unkind, --
And (though I could not now and then forbear
Following the bent of body or of mind)
Have always had a tendency to spare, --
Why do they call me misanthrope? Because
They hate me, not I them. -- and here we'll pause.

XXII
'T is time we should proceed with our good poem, --
For I maintain that it is really good,
Not only in the body but the proem,
However little both are understood
Just now, -- but by and by the Truth will show 'em
Herself in her sublimest attitude:
And till she doth, I fain must be content
To share her beauty and her banishment.

XXIII
Our hero (and, I trust, kind reader, yours)
Was left upon his way to the chief city
Of the immortal Peter's polish'd boors
Who still have shown themselves more brave than witty.
I know its mighty empire now allures
Much flattery -- even Voltaire's, and that's a pity.
For me, I deem an absolute autocrat
Not a barbarian, but much worse than that.

XXIV
And I will war, at least in words (and -- should
My chance so happen -- deeds), with all who war
With Thought; -- and of Thought's foes by far most rude,
Tyrants and sycophants have been and are.
I know not who may conquer: if I could
Have such a prescience, it should be no bar
To this my plain, sworn, downright detestation
Of every depotism in every nation.

XXV
It is not that I adulate the people:
Without me, there are demagogues enough,
And infidels, to pull down every steeple,
And set up in their stead some proper stuff.
Whether they may sow scepticism to reap hell,
As is the Christian dogma rather rough,
I do not know; -- I wish men to be free
As much from mobs as kings -- from you as me.

XXVI
The consequence is, being of no party,
I shall offend all parties: never mind!
My words, at least, are more sincere and hearty
Than if I sought to sail before the wind.
He who has nought to gain can have small art: he
Who neither wishes to be bound nor bind,
May still expatiate freely, as will I,
Nor give my voice to slavery's jackal cry.

XXVII
That's an appropriate simile, that jackal; --
I've heard them in the Ephesian ruins howl
By night, as do that mercenary pack all,
Power's base purveyors, who for pickings prowl,
And scent the prey their masters would attack all.
However, the poor jackals are less foul
(As being the brave lions' keen providers)
Than human insects, catering for spiders.

XXVIII
Raise but an arm! 't will brush their web away,
And without that, their poison and their claws
Are useless. Mind, good people! what I say
(Or rather peoples) -- go on without pause!
The web of these tarantulas each day
Increases, till you shall make common cause:
None, save the Spanish fly and Attic bee,
As yet are strongly stinging to be free.

XXIX
Don Juan, who had shone in the late slaughter,
Was left upon his way with the despatch,
Where blood was talk'd of as we would of water;
And carcasses that lay as thick as thatch
O'er silenced cities, merely served to flatter
Fair Catherine's pastime -- who look'd on the match
Between these nations as a main of cocks,
Wherein she liked her own to stand like rocks.

XXX
And there in a kibitka he roll'd on
(A curséd sort of carriage without springs,
Which on rough roads leaves scarcely a whole bone),
Pondering on glory, chivalry, and kings,
And orders, and on all that he had done --
And wishing that post-horses had the wings
Of Pegasus, or at the least post-chaises
Had feathers, when a traveller on deep ways is.

XXXI
At every jolt -- and they were many -- still
He turn'd his eyes upon his little charge,
As if he wish'd that she should fare less ill
Than he, in these sad highways left at large
To ruts, and flints, and lovely Nature's skill,
Who is no paviour, nor admits a barge
On her canals, where God takes sea and land,
Fishery and farm, both into his own hand.

XXXII
At least he pays no rent, and has best right
To be the first of what we used to call
"Gentlemen farmer" -- a race worn out quite,
Since lately there have been no rents at all,
And "gentlemen" are in a piteous plight,
And "farmers" can't raise Ceres from her fall:
She fell with Buonaparte -- What strange thoughts
Arise, when we see emperors fall with oats!

XXXIII
But Juan turn'd his eyes on the sweet child
Whom he had saved from slaughter -- what a trophy!
Oh! ye who build up monuments, defiled
With gore, like Nadir Shah, that costive sophy,
Who, after leaving Hindostan a wild,
And scarce to the Mogul a cup of coffee
To soothe his woes withal, was slain, the sinner!
Because he could no more digest his dinner; --

XXXIV
Oh ye! or we! or he! or she! reflect,
That one life saved, especially if young
Or pretty, is a thing to recollect
Far sweeter than the greenest laurels sprung
From the manure of human clay, though deck'd
With all the praises ever said or sung:
Though hymn'd by every harp, unless within
Your heart joins chorus, Fame is but a din.

XXXV
Oh! ye great authors luminous, voluminous!
Ye twice ten hundred thousand daily scribes!
Whose pamphlets, volumes, newspapers, illumine us!
Whether you're paid by government in bribes,
To prove the public debt is not consuming us --
Or, roughly treading on the "courtier's kibes"
With clownish heel, your popular circulation
Feeds you by printing half the realm's starvation; --

XXXVI
Oh, ye great authors! -- "Apropos des bottes," --
I have forgotten what I meant to say,
As sometimes have been greater sages' lots; --
'T was something calculated to allay
All wrath in barracks, palaces, or cots:
Certes it would have been but thrown away,
And that's one comfort for my lost advice,
Although no doubt it was beyond all price.

XXXVII
But let it go: -- it will one day be found
With other relics of "a former world,"
When this world shall be former, underground,
Thrown topsy-turvy, twisted, crisp'd, and curl'd,
Baked, fried, or burnt, turn'd inside-out, or drown'd,
Like all the worlds before, which have been hurl'd
First out of, and then back again to chaos,
The superstratum which will overlay us.

XXXVIII
So Cuvier says; -- and then shall come again
Unto the new creation, rising out
From our old crash, some mystic, ancient strain
Of things destroy'd and left in airy doubt:
Like to the notions we now entertain
Of Titans, giants, fellows of about
Some hundred feet in height, not to say miles,
And mammoths, and your wingéd crocodiles.

XXXIX
Think if then George the Fourth should be dug up!
How the new worldlings of the then new East
Will wonder where such animals could sup!
(For they themselves will be but of the least:
Even worlds miscarry, when too oft they pup,
And every new creation hath decreased
In size, from overworking the material --
Men are but maggots of some huge Earth's burial.)

XL
How will -- to these young people, just thrust out
From some fresh Paradise, and set to plough,
And dig, and sweat, and turn themselves about,
And plant, and reap, and spin, and grind, and sow,
Till all the arts at length are brought about,
Especially of war and taxing, -- how,
I say, will these great relics, when they see 'em,
Look like the monsters of a new museum?

XLI
But I am apt to grow too metaphysical:
"The time is out of joint," -- and so am I;
I quite forget this poem's merely quizzical,
And deviate into matters rather dry.
I ne'er decide what I shall say, and this I call
Much too poetical: men should know why
They write, and for what end; but, note or text,
I never know the word which will come next.

XLII
So on I ramble, now and then narrating,
Now pondering: -- it is time we should narrate.
I left Don Juan with his horses baiting --
Now we'll get o'er the ground at a great rate.
I shall not be particular in stating
His journey, we've so many tours of late:
Suppose him then at Petersburgh; suppose
That pleasant capital of painted snows;

XLIII
Suppose him in a handsome uniform, --
A scarlet coat, black facings, a long plume,
Waving, like sails new shiver'd in a storm,
Over a cock'd hat in a crowded room,
And brilliant breeches, bright as a Cairn Gorme,
Of yellow casimere we may presume,
White stocking drawn uncurdled as new milk
O'er limbs whose symmetry set off the silk;

XLIV
Suppose him sword by side, and hat in hand,
Made up by youth, fame, and an army tailor --
That great enchanter, at whose rod's command
Beauty springs forth, and Nature's self turns paler,
Seeing how Art can make her work more grand
(When she don't pin men's limbs in like a gaoler), --
Behold him placed as if upon a pillar! He
Seems Love turn'd a lieutenant of artillery: --

XLV
His bandage slipp'd down into a cravat;
His wings subdued to epaulettes; his quiver
Shrunk to a scabbard, with his arrows at
His side as a small sword, but sharp as ever;
His bow converted into a cock'd hat;
But still so like, that Psyche were more clever
Than some wives (who make blunders no less stupid),
If she had not mistaken him for Cupid.

XLVI
The courtiers stared, the ladies whisper'd, and
The empress smiled: the reigning favourite frown'd --
I quite forget which of them was in hand
Just then; as they are rather numerous found,
Who took by turns that difficult command
Since first her majesty was singly crown'd:
But they were mostly nervous six-foot fellows,
All fit to make a Patagonian jealous.

XLVII
Juan was none of these, but slight and slim,
Blushing and beardless; and yet ne'ertheless
There was a something in his turn of limb,
And still more in his eye, which seem'd to express,
That though he look'd one of the seraphim,
There lurk'd a man beneath the spirit's dress.
Besides, the empress sometimes liked a boy,
And had just buried the fair-faced Lanskoi.

XLVIII
No wonder then that Yermoloff, or Momonoff,
Or Scherbatoff, or any other off
Or on, might dread her majesty had not room enough
Within her bosom (which was not too tough)
For a new flame; a thought to cast of gloom enough
Along the aspect, whether smooth or rough,
Of him who, in the language of his station,
Then held that "high official situation."

XLIX
O, gentle ladies! should you seek to know
The import of this diplomatic phrase,
Bid Ireland's Londonderry's Marquess show
His parts of speech; and in the strange displays
Of that odd string of words, all in a row,
Which none divine, and every one obeys,
Perhaps you may pick out some queer no meaning,
Of that weak wordy harvest the sole gleaning.

L
I think I can explain myself without
That sad inexplicable beast of prey --
That Sphinx, whose words would ever be a doubt,
Did not his deeds unriddle them each day --
That monstrous hieroglyphic -- that long spout
Of blood and water, leaden Castlereagh!
And here I must an anecdote relate,
But luckily of no great length or weight.

LI
An English lady ask'd of an Italian,
What were the actual and official duties
Of the strange thing some women set a value on,
Which hovers oft about some married beauties,
Called "Cavalier servente?" -- a Pygmalion
Whose statues warm (I fear, alas! too true 't is)
Beneath his art. The dame, press'd to disclose them,
Said -- "Lady, I beseech you to suppose them."

LII
And thus I supplicate your supposition,
And mildest, matron-like interpretation,
Of the imperial favourite's condition.
'T was a high place, the highest in the nation
In fact, if not in rank; and the suspicion
Of any one's attaining to his station,
No doubt gave pain, where each new pair of shoulders,
If rather broad, made stocks rise and their holders.

LIII
Juan, I said, was a most beauteous boy,
And had retain'd his boyish look beyond
The usual hirsute seasons which destroy,
With beards and whiskers, and the like, the fond
Parisian aspect which upset old Troy
And founded Doctors' Commons: -- I have conn'd
The history of divorces, which, though chequer'd,
Calls Ilion's the first damages on record.

LIV
And Catherine, who loved all things (save her lord,
Who was gone to his place), and pass'd for much
Admiring those (by dainty dames abhorr'd)
Gigantic gentlemen, yet had a touch
Of sentiment; and he she most adored
Was the lamented Lanskoi, who was such
A lover as had cost her many a tear,
And yet but made a middling grenadier.

LV
Oh thou "teterrima causa" of all "belli" --
Thou gate of life and death -- thou nondescript!
Whence is our exit and our entrance, -- well I
May pause in pondering how all souls are dipt
In thy perennial fountain: -- how man fell I
Know not, since knowledge saw her branches stript
Of her first fruit; but how he falls and rises
Since, thou hast settled beyond all surmises.

LVI
Some call thee "the worst cause of war," but I
Maintain thou art the best: for after all
From thee we come, to thee we go, and why
To get at thee not batter down a wall,
Or waste a world? since no one can deny
Thou dost replenish worlds both great and small:
With, or without thee, all things at a stand
Are, or would be, thou sea of life's dry land!

LVII
Catherine, who was the grand Epitome
Of that great cause of war, or peace, or what
You please (it causes all the things which be,
So you may take your choice of this or that) --
Catherine, I say. was very glad to see
The handsome herald, on whose plumage sat
Victory; and pausing as she saw him kneel
With his despatch, forgot to break the seal.

LVIII
Then recollecting the whole empress, nor
Forgetting quite the woman (which composed
At least three parts of this great whole), she tore
The letter open with an air which posed
The court, that watch'd each look her visage wore,
Until a royal smile at length disclosed
Fair weather for the day. Though rather spacious,
Her face was noble, her eyes fine, mouth gracious.

LIX
Great joy was hers, or rather joys: the first
Was a ta'en city, thirty thousand slain.
Glory and triumph o'er her aspect burst,
As an East Indian sunrise on the main.
These quench'd a moment her ambition's thirst --
So Arab deserts drink in summer's rain:
In vain! -- As fall the dews on quenchless sands,
Blood only serves to wash Ambition's hands!

LX
Her next amusement was more fanciful;
She smiled at mad Suwarrow's rhymes, who threw
Into a Russian couplet rather dull
The whole gazette of thousands whom he slew.
Her third was feminine enough to annul
The shudder which runs naturally through
Our veins, when things call'd sovereigns think it best
To kill, and generals turn it into jest.

LXI
The two first feelings ran their course complete,
And lighted first her eye, and then her mouth:
The whole court look'd immediately most sweet,
Like flowers well water'd after a long drouth.
But when on the lieutenant at her feet
Her majesty, who liked to gaze on youth
Almost as much as on a new despatch,
Glanced mildly, all the world was on the watch.

LXII
Though somewhat large, exuberant, and truculent,
When wroth -- while pleased, she was as fine a figure
As those who like things rosy, ripe, and succulent,
Would wish to look on, while they are in vigour.
She could repay each amatory look you lent
With interest, and in turn was wont with rigour
To exact of Cupid's bills the full amount
At sight, nor would permit you to discount.

LXIII
With her the latter, though at times convenient,
Was not so necessary; for they tell
That she was handsome, and though fierce look'd lenient,
And always used her favourites too well.
If once beyond her boudoir's precincts in ye went,
Your "fortune" was in a fair way "to swell
A man" (as Giles says); for though she would widow all
Nations, she liked man as an individual.

LXIV
What a strange thing is man? and what a stranger
Is woman! What a whirlwind is her head,
And what a whirlpool full of depth and danger
Is all the rest about her! Whether wed
Or widow, maid or mother, she can change her
Mind like the wind: whatever she has said
Or done, is light to what she'll say or do; --
The oldest thing on record, and yet new!

LXV
Oh Catherine! (for of all interjections,
To thee both oh! and ah! belong of right
In love and war) how odd are the connections
Of human thoughts, which jostle in their flight!
Just now yours were cut out in different sections:
First Ismail's capture caught your fancy quite;
Next of new knights, the fresh and glorious batch;
And thirdly he who brought you the despatch!

LXVI
Shakspeare talks of "the herald Mercury
New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;"
And some such visions cross'd her majesty,
While her young herald knelt before her still.
'T is very true the hill seem'd rather high,
For a lieutenant to climb up; but skill
Smooth'd even the Simplon's steep, and by God's blessing
With youth and health all kisses are "heaven-kissing."

LXVII
Her majesty look'd down, the youth look'd up --
And so they fell in love; -- she with his face,
His grace, his God-knows-what: for Cupid's cup
With the first draught intoxicates apace,
A quintessential laudanum or "black drop,"
Which makes one drunk at once, without the base
Expedient of full bumpers; for the eye
In love drinks all life's fountains (save tears) dry.

LXVIII
He, on the other hand, if not in love,
Fell into that no less imperious passion,
Self-love -- which, when some sort of thing above
Ourselves, a singer, dancer, much in fashion,
Or duchess, princess, empress, "deigns to prove"
('T is Pope's phrase) a great longing, though a rash one,
For one especial person out of many,
Makes us believe ourselves as good as any.

LXIX
Besides, he was of that delighted age
Which makes all female ages equal -- when
We don't much care with whom we may engage,
As bold as Daniel in the lion's den,
So that we can our native sun assuage
In the next ocean, which may flow just then,
To make a twilight in, just as Sol's heat is
Quench'd in the lap of the salt sea, or Thetis.

LXX
And Catherine (we must say thus much for Catherine),
Though bold and bloody, was the kind of thing
Whose temporary passion was quite flattering,
Because each lover look'd a sort of king,
Made up upon an amatory pattern,
A royal husband in all save the ring --
Which, being the damn'dest part of matrimony,
Seem'd taking out the sting to leave the honey.

LXXI
And when you add to this, her womanhood
In its meridian, her blue eyes or gray
(The last, if they have soul, are quite as good,
Or better, as the best examples say:
Napoleon's, Mary's (queen of Scotland), should
Lend to that colour a transcendent ray;
And Pallas also sanctions the same hue,
Too wise to look through optics black or blue) --

LXXII
Her sweet smile, and her then majestic figure,
Her plumpness, her imperial condescension,
Her preference of a boy to men much bigger
(Fellows whom Messalina's self would pension),
Her prime of life, just now in juicy vigour,
With other extras, which we need not mention, --
All these, or any one of these, explain
Enough to make a stripling very vain.

LXXIII
And that's enough, for love is vanity,
Selfish in its beginning as its end,
Except where 't is a mere insanity,
A maddening spirit which would strive to blend
Itself with beauty's frail inanity,
On which the passion's self seems to depend:
And hence some heathenish philosophers
Make love the main spring of the universe.

LXXIV
Besides Platonic love, besides the love
Of God, the love of sentiment, the loving
Of faithful pairs (I needs must rhyme with dove,
That good old steam-boat which keeps verses moving
'Gainst reason -- Reason ne'er was hand-and-glove
With rhyme, but always leant less to improving
The sound than sense) -- beside all these pretences
To love, there are those things which words name senses;

LXXV
Those movements, those improvements in our bodies
Which make all bodies anxious to get out
Of their own sand-pits, to mix with a goddess,
For such all women are at first no doubt.
How beautiful that moment! and how odd is
That fever which precedes the languid rout
Of our sensations! What a curious way
The whole thing is of clothing souls in clay!

LXXVI
The noblest kind of love is love Platonical,
To end or to begin with; the next grand
Is that which may be christen'd love canonical,
Because the clergy take the thing in hand;
The third sort to be noted in our chronicle
As flourishing in every Christian land,
Is when chaste matrons to their other ties
Add what may be call'd marriage in disguise.

LXXVII
Well, we won't analyse -- our story must
Tell for itself: the sovereign was smitten,
Juan much flatter'd by her love, or lust; --
I cannot stop to alter words once written,
And the two are so mix'd with human dust,
That he who names one, both perchance may hit on:
But in such matters Russia's mighty empress
Behaved no better than a common sempstress.

LXXVIII
The whole court melted into one wide whisper,
And all lips were applied unto all ears!
The elder ladies' wrinkles curl'd much crisper
As they beheld; the younger cast some leers
On one another, and each lovely lisper
Smiled as she talk'd the matter o'er; but tears
Of rivalship rose in each clouded eye
Of all the standing army who stood by.

LXXIX
All the ambassadors of all the powers
Enquired, Who was this very new young man,
Who promised to be great in some few hours?
Which is full soon -- though life is but a span.
Already they beheld the silver showers
Of rubles rain, as fast as specie can,
Upon his cabinet, besides the presents
Of several ribands, and some thousand peasants.

LXXX
Catherine was generous, -- all such ladies are:
Love, that great opener of the heart and all
The ways that lead there, be they near or far,
Above, below, by turnpikes great or small, --
Love (though she had a curséd taste for war,
And was not the best wife, unless we call
Such Clytemnestra, though perhaps 't is better
That one should die, than two drag on the fetter) --

LXXXI
Love had made Catherine make each lover's fortune,
Unlike our own half-chaste Elizabeth,
Whose avarice all disbursements did importune,
If history, the grand liar, ever saith
The truth; and though grief her old age might shorten,
Because she put a favourite to death,
Her vile, ambiguous method of flirtation,
And stinginess, disgrace her sex and station.

LXXXII
But when the levée rose, and all was bustle
In the dissolving circle, all the nations'
Ambassadors began as 't were to hustle
Round the young man with their congratulations.
Also the softer silks were heard to rustle
Of gentle dames, among whose recreations
It is to speculate on handsome faces,
Especially when such lead to high places.

LXXXIII
Juan, who found himself, he knew not how,
A general object of attention, made
His answers with a very graceful bow,
As if born for the ministerial trade.
Though modest, on his unembarrass'd brow
Nature had written "gentleman." He said
Little, but to the purpose; and his manner
Flung hovering graces o'er him like a banner.

LXXXIV
An order from her majesty consign'd
Our young lieutenant to the genial care
Of those in office: all the world look'd kind
(As it will look sometimes with the first stare,
Which youth would not act ill to keep in mind),
As also did Miss Protasoff then there,
Named from her mystic office "l'Eprouveuse,"
A term inexplicable to the Muse.

LXXXV
With her then, as in humble duty bound,
Juan retired, -- and so will I, until
My Pegasus shall tire of touching ground.
We have just lit on a "heaven-kissing hill,"
So lofty that I feel my brain turn round,
And all my fancies whirling like a mill;
Which is a signal to my nerves and brain,
To take a quiet ride in some green Lane.

poem by from Don Juan (1824)Report problemRelated quotes
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You have been loved

She takes the back road and the lane
Past the school that has not changed
In all this time
She thinks of when the boy was young
All the battles she had won
Just to give him life

That man
She loved that man
For all his life
But now we meet to take him flowers
And only God knows why

For what's the use in pressing palms
When children fade in mothers arms
It's a cruel world
We've so much to lose
And what we have to learn

song performed by George Michael from Ladies & Gentlemen (CD 1 : for the heart)Report problemRelated quotes
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If Someone 'Is' Dismissed

Do not believe for one second,
One dismissed sits and fidgets...
Wishing their presence is missed.

Too many perceive they have the power to do this.
As if the one that has been dismissed,
Sits making adjustments...
In a chair doing nothing,
But looking at thumbs as a twisting of them is done.

Do not believe for one second,
One dismissed sits with wishes to be enlisted...
Into a clique of forget-me-nots full of 'wannabees'.
And usually they are the ones issuing approvals,
To those fearing rejection.

Too many perceive they have the power to do this.
As if the one that has been dismissed,
Sits making adjustments...
In a chair doing nothing,
But looking at thumbs as a twisting of them is done.

Do not believe for one second,
One dismissed sits and fidgets...
Wishing their presence is missed.
How foolish would this be...
If someone sat seeking for an authority,
To approve the choosing of what they do...
And 'who' they should do it with.

If someone 'is' dismissed,
They should be glad of it.
Since there has been a lifting from them,
Any kind of restrictions.

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Patrick White

I Have Run My Heart Aground

I have run my heart aground
like the keel of the moon on the coral
and the memory of women I once loved
hurts me today
like blowback from the furnaces of autumn
that went out years ago.

It's easier to train a dove than a crow
and I was a reluctant dragon
trying not to roil the water in my wake.

Doubting that forgiveness is ever real,
I give it and ask it
and discharge us all
from the degenerating orbits
of all the radiant photons that reversed their spin
to take one long last look at us
as we unspooled like glaciers
at each others' feet.

Eventually we're all just flavours of space.
And you have to open your hand to hang on,
and learn to live with a heart that tolls
like a bell or an oyster
after its pearl has been plundered
and look upon dark, intimate things without a voice.

I have dug deeper than my own bones to get at the truth
as if I were an abandoned civilization
with nothing left standing
but a succession of meaningless gates
that no one waits by anymore to meet me.

I have added my skull like the moon to the darkness
to appeal more deeply to the nightside of life
that she might reveal
why she always hides me under the bed
when I knock on her door from the outside,
hoping she'll unlock herself like a coffin
and raise the dead.

I may be a starmap blowing down a road on the moon,
but there's no wind, no one to walk it,
no arrival, no departure
no threshold before me, and none behind.

In the light of the silent ferocity
of a black star longing in the distance for contact,
I have intensely held certain, lethal questions
up to my throat like a phase of the moon
and held myself hostage to the answers
until I fell in love with my torment
and all these ransom notes turned into poems.

It's a quaint myth of origin,
and even a delusion is some kind of direction,
and who's to say the stars
aren't in need of correction themselves?
And it isn't as if one mirage
were more sufficient than another,
it's just that we long for the unattainable through them
like kites that have run out of atmosphere,
and the lie that heals is truer than the one that doesn't.

So we insisted on being in love
as wave after wave
we tried to bridge continents
to keep our hearts from flatlining.

What a riot of sorrow and sex and poetry
swung us like bells when we walked
out of our bomb-proof cathedrals
into the intimate dangers of our own lyrical intensities,
gouging the eyes out of the constellations we rolled like dice
against the writing on the wall.

Love's a big, sloppy sky
that smothers you like fog on the ocean
when it collapses like a parachute
at the end of a sustained fall.

Everyone lets go of their demons
like kites in a hurricane,
like blossoms from an orchard,
like flakes of ancient flint
as the heart naps its arrowhead of ice
in the shadows of the sacred night fire
that exhumes the phoenix from the flesh.

Looking back, I am humbled by the memory
of how much I couldn't see
through a painted window
while the moon waited for rain among the willows,
but sooner or later you make peace
with everyone you can't be
and sign a truce with everyone you are
and drown your sword in your own blood
like a holy war you can't win
and keep trying to embody wisdom until you disappear
like a homeless bird in the clarity,
so perfectly isolated by everything you've ever loved
even the sky you fly through
can't fit itself like skin
around the enormity of the tear
that hordes its most intimate fire
like a flame thrust into the darkness of an afterlife
where the eras and the headstones,
the faces under the bedstones,
thaw like lockets of ice.

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The Captain of the Push

As the night was falling slowly down on city, town and bush,
From a slum in Jones's Alley sloped the Captain of the Push;
And he scowled towards the North, and he scowled towards the South,
As he hooked his little finger in the corners of his mouth.
Then his whistle, loud and shrill, woke the echoes of the `Rocks',
And a dozen ghouls came sloping round the corners of the blocks.

There was nought to rouse their anger; yet the oath that each one swore
Seemed less fit for publication than the one that went before.
For they spoke the gutter language with the easy flow that comes
Only to the men whose childhood knew the brothels and the slums.
Then they spat in turns, and halted; and the one that came behind,
Spitting fiercely on the pavement, called on Heaven to strike him blind.

Let us first describe the captain, bottle-shouldered, pale and thin,
For he was the beau-ideal of a Sydney larrikin;
E'en his hat was most suggestive of the city where we live,
With a gallows-tilt that no one, save a larrikin, can give;
And the coat, a little shorter than the writer would desire,
Showed a more or less uncertain portion of his strange attire.

That which tailors know as `trousers' -- known by him as `bloomin' bags' --
Hanging loosely from his person, swept, with tattered ends, the flags;
And he had a pointed sternpost to the boots that peeped below
(Which he laced up from the centre of the nail of his great toe),
And he wore his shirt uncollar'd, and the tie correctly wrong;
But I think his vest was shorter than should be in one so long.

And the captain crooked his finger at a stranger on the kerb,
Whom he qualified politely with an adjective and verb,
And he begged the Gory Bleeders that they wouldn't interrupt
Till he gave an introduction -- it was painfully abrupt --
`Here's the bleedin' push, me covey -- here's a (something) from the bush!
Strike me dead, he wants to join us!' said the captain of the push.

Said the stranger: `I am nothing but a bushy and a dunce;
`But I read about the Bleeders in the WEEKLY GASBAG once;
`Sitting lonely in the humpy when the wind began to "whoosh,"
`How I longed to share the dangers and the pleasures of the push!
`Gosh! I hate the swells and good 'uns -- I could burn 'em in their beds;
`I am with you, if you'll have me, and I'll break their blazing heads.'

`Now, look here,' exclaimed the captain to the stranger from the bush,
`Now, look here -- suppose a feller was to split upon the push,
`Would you lay for him and fetch him, even if the traps were round?
`Would you lay him out and kick him to a jelly on the ground?
`Would you jump upon the nameless -- kill, or cripple him, or both?
`Speak? or else I'll SPEAK!' The stranger answered, `My kerlonial oath!'

`Now, look here,' exclaimed the captain to the stranger from the bush,
`Now, look here -- suppose the Bleeders let you come and join the push,
`Would you smash a bleedin' bobby if you got the blank alone?
`Would you break a swell or Chinkie -- split his garret with a stone?
`Would you have a "moll" to keep yer -- like to swear off work for good?'
`Yes, my oath!' replied the stranger. `My kerlonial oath! I would!'

`Now, look here,' exclaimed the captain to the stranger from the bush,
`Now, look here -- before the Bleeders let yer come and join the push,
`You must prove that you're a blazer -- you must prove that you have grit
`Worthy of a Gory Bleeder -- you must show your form a bit --
`Take a rock and smash that winder!' and the stranger, nothing loth,
Took the rock -- and smash! They only muttered, `My kerlonial oath!'

So they swore him in, and found him sure of aim and light of heel,
And his only fault, if any, lay in his excessive zeal;
He was good at throwing metal, but we chronicle with pain
That he jumped upon a victim, damaging the watch and chain,
Ere the Bleeders had secured them; yet the captain of the push
Swore a dozen oaths in favour of the stranger from the bush.

Late next morn the captain, rising, hoarse and thirsty from his lair,
Called the newly-feather'd Bleeder, but the stranger wasn't there!
Quickly going through the pockets of his `bloomin' bags,' he learned
That the stranger had been through him for the stuff his `moll' had earned;
And the language that he muttered I should scarcely like to tell.
(Stars! and notes of exclamation!! blank and dash will do as well).

In the night the captain's signal woke the echoes of the `Rocks,'
Brought the Gory Bleeders sloping thro' the shadows of the blocks;
And they swore the stranger's action was a blood-escaping shame,
While they waited for the nameless, but the nameless never came.
And the Bleeders soon forgot him; but the captain of the push
Still is `laying' round, in ballast, for the nameless `from the bush.'

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Patrick White

Someone Keeps Following Me

Someone keeps following me
like the shadow of who I was supposed to be.
The dark sibling of light
whose face got turned away from the sun.
He's the remnant of perfection that's left of me.
He's the one I was expected to achieve.
He's the one I'm supposed to believe.
I'm what happened to him along the way.
And the defeat goes on and on and on.
I want to say look you were there.
You saw what went down.
How natural everything seemed at the time.
How inevitability governed everything like hindsight.
But he just stands there staring
if I were the most inconceivable thing on his mind.
He's the son my mother should have had.
I'm the one she didn't deserve.
He's the blue flower.
And I'm the black dog.
He's the favourite of the rain.
And I'm the fire hydrant that wound up in the sewer
after putting out the fire.
He wanted to live a good life with laudable accomplishments.
He wanted to do well for himself
given where we were born
and he was groomed for it
by the very people who had made him poor.
He vowed to become one of them and thought
all shall be well all shall be well
all manner of thing shall be well
and he'd know the kind of self-respect
you just can't get on welfare.
I went slumming with anyone
who was passionate or dangerous.
I've always felt guilty because
I wasn't better than I am.
I think it was something
my mother kept saying in rage about me
when I was young.
And my tough old broom pod of a granny
always agreed.
I was so much more like my unforgivable father
than my brother and sisters were
I could smell the burning flesh
of some kind of mark being branded on my heart.
O.K. I said
I'm evil but I'm smart
and there's always poetry and art.
I'll be self-destructively creative
and give myself up to visions in the desert
before they drive me out in May
when they cleanse the temples of smoke and incense
and they're looking for a scapegoat
whose innocence is within question.
And that was the first great divide in the mindstream
between him and me
and after that we were two different shores
and one burning bridge.
And I was determined I wasn't going to be the shadow
that got left behind.
So here we are forty-eight years later
and he's asking me with those
eery condescendingly accusing eyes of his
if I think I'm as smart now as I used to be
before I started living my life like a river
instead of a highway
and as much as I love the stars
dropped out of astronomy
because everything felt starless and unshining.
You can make more money
asking stars how old they are
and where they're going spectrographically
than you can sharing the little light you've got to go by
through poetry and painting.
In art
things get worse
the better you get at them.
Abandon all hope ye who enter here.
You might still think of yourself
as an oscilloscope with a wavelength for a lifeline
but here you're off the radar.
And I lived like that for years.
Women black coffee cigarettes and books.
I wanted to guide people by example
and lead them away from me.
I embodied the estranged compassion of the damned
in everything I did
and kept myself at an appropriate distance
in the aerial and thematic perspectives
of all my works.
I can empathize deeply with people
but seldom to the point
where I let them become me.
I have a plutonium soul
and the afterlife of a nuclear winter.
I'm one of the heavier elements of life
and my intensities are as natural to me
as the stability of his carbon is to him.
And the way I express myself
is more of an exorcism than a seance.
I dispossess myself of all things human
so they won't be hurt by what's left.
And I endure.
And I've got the energy
of an angry rogue star in my genes
that refuses to pale in his sunlight by comparison.
He graces our Russian Mongol ancestry with gilded graves
and tears that run like chandeliers
down his ballroom cheeks.
I trace it in lightyears
and leave the rest to chance.
He preens his decency.
I revel in the bright vacancy
the dark abundance
of my reptilian clarity.
He sees things in a white mirror.
I see through them in a black.
He mourns the things I do.
But he doesn't know a damned thing about agony.
He thinks he's the one who's real.
And he resists me like temptation.
Not to feel might be the way to feel about Zen
but I indulge the passions of an unenlightened man
because I don't trust purity
to remember that it's just the fashion
of a passing moment
that buffs its own reflection in a doorknob
and passes judgment on the poor
with the stiff bliss of a happy slumlord.
His universe is Steady State.
Mine's a Big Bang
empowered by a dark energy
that keeps accelerating my fate
into the void ahead of me
so by the time any kind of insight arrives
it's always too late
to be news.
Right door.
Wrong address.
He's the cornerstone.
I'm the quicksand.
He's the habitable planet
and I'm the menacing asteroid.
He promotes evolution
and I've always got a rock in my hand
as big as the moon
to bring about a change in who rules
the windows and the mirrors
on the other side
of what they expect me to be in passing.
I'm the radical zero
who thinks it's foolish
to try to make something out of nothing
given it's already a given
and he's the commonsensical whole number
that takes account of things.
He says he's not perfect
to be arrogant about his humility
but that's only a shadow of what he lacks.
I try to carry my own weight
because I don't expect much
in the way of serious intelligent help
but he gets around
like a corpse on everybody's backs
as if he were the stranger who came to the rescue.
He's the crutch who leans on legs to hold him up
whenever he walks on water without oars.
I'm the bottom-feeder that he abhors.
But I can take a handful
of the muck and decay of my starmud
and turn it into waterlilies.
I can make my perishing into something beautiful.
I can use death like a spontaneously renewable resource
and make things live
through the transformative power of my art
that are totally blameless
whether they be light or dark.
He comes on like a lifeboat when he's talking to women
as if he were walking by the sea.
He doesn't know how to go swimming without an ark.
Women are attracted to me
like blood in the water
when they're out far enough
to be thrilled by sharks.
I'm the zoo on the outside of the cage
that blunts its teeth on the bars.
He's in it for the documentary footage
and a few convincing scars.
The sheep hunt tigers into extinction
and the goldfish are trawling
for grey nurses and great whites
to make sharkfin soup.
Even in hell
there's a sense of proportion
almost a moral aesthetic
that goes unspoken
until someone spots a jackass
trying to lead an eagle around on a leash.
The distastes of a demonic imagination are not petty.
The taboo of the maggot
is not the rule of the whale.
So get behind me my shadow my brother self.
Don't flash your lighthouse in my eyes
when the stars are out
as if I'm the one
that's a few magnitudes shy of shining.
It would do you a lot of good to be a little bit bad
but then you'd feel too close to me for comfort
and forget who you are to everyone else.
I've never needed anything more
than the dust at my heels
to show me the way down.
I jump
and sometimes
I'm descending into heaven
and sometimes I'm plunging toward hell.
But what can you say about a man
standing at the edge of the bottomless abyss
of his own draconian absence
waiting for the flightfeathers of stray angels
with spare parachutes
to fall out of the sky?
I know you look so far down at me
from that overview
you've exalted like a balcony
that got it's start in life as a pulpit
you suffer from vertigo.
But I could have told you little brother.
I wouldn't want to alarm or harm you in any way
but I could have looked you straight in the eye
like a bemused king cobra
flaring over your nest like an unpredictable eclipse
or an umbrella somebody opened in the house
and diverted the luck of their lifeline
from the original course of its flowing
into a starmap for dice
pitted with eyeless blackholes
like the sockets in ivory skulls
lost in this wilderness alone
where nothing reminds them of home.
Alea iacta.
The dice are thrown.
You may be a better threshold than I am
but I've been crossed by the Rubicon
and I could have told you little brother
without even so much
as the penumbral shadow of a lie
to fall into your milk like a dragon.
I could have dipped
my other wing into your cup
as an antidote to clarify what ails you.
And as you drank up
I could have told you little brother.
The first shall be last
and the last shall be first
and it's not a good idea when you're here
to antagonize the lowlife
with your insufferable highness
from your upper story balcony
as if you were always trying
to get something out of your eye
like me
who burns like a cinder
just to see if I can make God cry
to hear why
I would have told you little brother
even snakes can fly.

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Patrick White

The Birth Of Rain

Drifting on a drab Sunday in Perth among the ashtrays and leftover sublimities of the church bells. My studio window above the rooftops a smear of willow and wet pine undulating gently in the stillness that followed the rain. Wolves on the easel, waiting to pay the rent. May of the fifth year into the twenty-first century, fifty-six, I sit in a blizzard of tobacco crumbs because I'm too poor to buy tailor-mades, coughing at the computer, wiping small drops of water like pygmy tears from the Cyclopean eye of the screen that glows with the same effulgence as the dirty sheet of the sky. The main migrations are over, but maybe these words are rosaries of late-returning birds. Two anthracite, boat-tailed grackles on a branch just beyond the grimy glass and a gust of sparrows chirrup like squeaky alternator-belts, manically elated in the wake of the storm that has just passed. My freedoms are more sober, my resurgencies probably less profound than the gray roses I give birth to here at my desk, waiting for one of these terminal urgencies of insight to sway me like a bell.

Maybe Louise later today with her Cola and cassettes, and her rough, voluptuous, laughing humanity scorning the random acids of the vulgar world that schools her, a muse who doesn't take requests, a generous longing that's been through a lot. So I sublimate the root-fires of my leafless batons into an auto-de-fe of white canes tired of trying to tap their way through a maze of sexual creeds, blind. The result? A novel and dozens of poems apples above the worms. And I keep her cats, Morgan and Rain, mother and kitten almost fully grown. There are no humans Louise loves more.

The kitten was born beside me on the couch at one-thirty in the morning while Louise was in the hospital and I read La Mettrie, d'Holbach, Diderot, d'Alembert, Voltaire, Rousseau and Helvetius, eighteenth century French les philosophes. Two days ago, remembering, she asked me to write a poem to celebrate the birth. And it's two hundred and fifteen years since the French revolution went into convulsions and mothered daggers out of its wounds, and we are neither free, nor equal, nor brothers, and the birth of Rain, by association, is only the smallest of iota subscripts below the voluminous pretext of that slaughter, hardly, if at all, a mote that matters; but in a way she was born while the peasants stormed the Bastille, and time sent corpses and ideas floating facedown on one of its more famous rivers of blood all the way to the embryonic comma of this tender, contrary event. And there was honour in being a witness when Morgan jumped up beside me

and lay her head upon my right arm as a pillow, the great red text
with ivory pages open to the public like the Vatican before me
as the soft, gray satchel of her body shuddered with the natal lightning
of a different storm, the quickening eruptions of a different riddle
than the one that dropped its answer like a blade
on the necks of the cropped carnations as I kept on reading, thinking
to run for a towel before deciding not to disturb her,
that a little blood on the couch wouldn't hurt anything
compared to the streams of gore that caked the pages of my book.

And there was a humility in the act of watching, and a trust,
as if a great secret were demanding something of her
she was willing to go through hell to give. And my heart
laboured with her like a sympathetic strawberry, convinced of a miracle,
and even the colder lizards of my mind were awed
by the conception of the material immortality achieved
by the platitudinous genius of replicating genomes,
and who among temples and havens and research labs
could hold a candle to that, and what have I written, or felt, or thought,
that even comes close? And there wasn't a manger,
but the whole of the vast, star trailing night
crowded in behind the adoration of the angel-winged lamps to observe
genesis in the portent of its light
as Morgan rose like a violent squall
and squatting let slip with a howl of wounded passage
a black, sleek pickle of life wrapped in pink ribbons
tied to the tongue-sized kite of a pink placenta
with nothing left to say
while the French Revolution lay open on the table,
crazed with vertical caesarians. Two minutes more
and the afterbirth was eaten, Rain, because she's rippled, blind
because her eyes were queered by the living room light,
groomed and heading for the tit the way
a baby turtle waddles out of its cosmic egg with the world on its back to the sea,
her three-toed paws not yet the heavy seals of tigers,
and stumped by the impasse of continental plates
between the cushions, her first obstruction, tried, but insurmountable, I
appointed myself a force of nature as good as any
and gave her a boost to the bottle, Morgan,
a cat that seldom purrs, purring like dough
at having the cleat of her nipple kneaded into milk.

Two and a half hours I walked and waited to see if she would live;
window to window, through doors and back again, two and a half hours
to ascertain if the uncertain droplet of her heart
that reflected the hidden glory of the living
pulsed to a martial strain or the beat of a funeral drum,
or better yet, fell like music from the eaves. Everything
was given, as black cherries are given
and fingertips and stars and saffron orchids under eel-skin leaves
and drunken voices in the street proclaiming imperious ecstasies
and names and gods and dragonflies
or the silence coiled in the throats of overgrown wells
like the psalms of sleeping serpents older than the rocks is given.

And what could I do as life divined the outcome, the wyrd
of a beginning innocent as whiskers, but live the history of everything
in the mystery of the moment and wait with the wind and the trees
as others had waited for me to pull the ore from the stone
and crown my own existence? And I thought of the children
of the French nobility, I thought of Lavoisier and Buffon
who loved animals and plants and oxygen,
and fifty thousand pikes forged for the Paris militia, and Goethe
who affirmed the auspicious aspects of the sixteenth Louis' reign,
and the train of death carts that creaked toward the guillotine
with their saloneries of elegant women shaved for death,
and of all those who had been bled for centuries by the lies
of the mitre, the robe, the sword and the crowns of luckier stars,
wasps who laid their eggs upon a living host constrained to entertain
their vicious myth of origins, and it seemed to me in passing
that this simple birth of a common kitten
in the smalltown hours of a bird-freaked morning on the verge of dawn
washed out the blood of millions in their indistinguishable graves
at the first sign of this feline gesture of primogenitive rain.

And born a Leo, flame in the tinder enough, equal to her claws, a gift,
she lived and suckled and slept in the bay of her cloudy mother
as I went off to bed, my nightwatch ended, more enhanced
by a single birthstain on the couch, her watermark,
than the thousand pages of bloodshed that drenched my weary head:
And I dreamed, a marvelous dream, a crazy blue dream
as if Bast, the Egyptian goddess of cats slept at my feet commingling
her visions with mine, images and symbols and the strange arcana
of things released from time and sequence and history
to dance freely with the dead who lived again emphatically
beyond the clamour of their chains and violated thresholds,
and it seemed to me their eyes, their incredible gold-flecked eyes
were slashed by black crescent moons that waxed and waned
like cups and flowers, like tides and the improvised hours of childhood
as if each were the pearl and the lens and the seeing
of a vast ocean of a living liquid light that fed
the umbilical rivers and womb-waters of all it called back from the night
like the words of a wounded song. And slowly as my mind
adjusted to the subtlety of the nurturing glow, I realized
this fathomless reservoir, deeper than any idea, wider
than any feeling, was the watershed of my own frail knowing,
the nacreous mother of all, older than beginnings, creatrix of all,
whole and unbounded in every atom, star, leaf, cell, skull, tear and firefly,
the fountain-mouth of form and time, nights and mornings,
everything the issue of the bell of her being, storms, bones, dreams,
suns and their planets, starfish and leopards, heroes and snails,
the thief in the window, and the burnt salts
of the excruciating murderers who cut out their own tongues
everytime they kill, spiders, fish, wheat and poppies,
and the blackholes that are the engines of other universes,
all the language and the lyric of her substance, the birth of time
in every heartbeat, chaos and cosmos in every pulse that shakes the void,
space, her skin, intelligence, her eyes,
and the wavelengths of her wild hair, the fragrance of ancient nights
that ripened like apricots, everywhere curled into galaxies,
and all, forever, without exception,
the auroral transformation of her vital radiance, and she,
without dimension, the broad canvas and inspiratrix of life.

And in an instant I saw the shadows of the generations,
billions of men, women, and children, maligned and celebrated alike,
the cursed and the blessed, the beautiful, the wise, the athletes
and the cripples, the criminals, the tyrants and the saints,
moving like the sloppy surf of autumn leaves through the darkness,
dry, used-up things, heavier than the sorrows of coal, tears of coal
and the torn pages of banished books
ushered by a wind that seemed the breathing of time itself
toward her lavish shores to drink from their own reflections
and be restored, not saved, because nothing can be lost,
like flowers to the luminous wines of life
that poured into their desiccated creekbeds like rain, like roots,
like trees and the dendritic boughs of space, like bloodstreams
in the hazardous course of tumultuous histories, each, like anyone,
like me, like you, like Louise, Morgan, Rain and Voltaire,
because the whole of the sky, the moon, the stars
are mirrored in every eye, shine in every eye like being itself,
and from every tear, every droplet at the tip of the stargrass,
from every berry of blood that stains its own seeing,
from the tiniest womb of water that falls into life through the night,
Egypt and the Nile, France, kittens, dreams, insight.

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The Pennsylvania Pilgrim

Prelude

I sing the Pilgrim of a softer clime
And milder speech than those brave men's who brought
To the ice and iron of our winter time
A will as firm, a creed as stern, and wrought
With one mailed hand, and with the other fought.
Simply, as fits my theme, in homely rhyme
I sing the blue-eyed German Spener taught,
Through whose veiled, mystic faith the Inward Light,
Steady and still, an easy brightness, shone,
Transfiguring all things in its radiance white.
The garland which his meekness never sought
I bring him; over fields of harvest sown
With seeds of blessing, now to ripeness grown,
I bid the sower pass before the reapers' sight.


The Pennsylvania Pilgrim

Never in tenderer quiet lapsed the day
From Pennsylvania's vales of spring away,
Where, forest-walled, the scattered hamlets lay

Along the wedded rivers. One long bar
Of purple cloud, on which the evening star
Shone like a jewel on a scimitar,

Held the sky's golden gateway. Through the deep
Hush of the woods a murmur seemed to creep,
The Schuylkill whispering in a voice of sleep.

All else was still. The oxen from their ploughs
Rested at last, and from their long day's browse
Came the dun files of Krisheim's home-bound cows.

And the young city, round whose virgin zone
The rivers like two mighty arms were thrown,
Marked by the smoke of evening fires alone,

Lay in the distance, lovely even then
With its fair women and its stately men
Gracing the forest court of William Penn,

Urban yet sylvan; in its rough-hewn frames
Of oak and pine the dryads held their claims,
And lent its streets their pleasant woodland names.

Anna Pastorius down the leafy lane
Looked city-ward, then stooped to prune again
Her vines and simples, with a sigh of pain.

For fast the streaks of ruddy sunset paled
In the oak clearing, and, as daylight failed,
Slow, overhead, the dusky night-birds sailed.

Again she looked: between green walls of shade,
With low-bent head as if with sorrow weighed,
Daniel Pastorius slowly came and said,

'God's peace be with thee, Anna!' Then he stood
Silent before her, wrestling with the mood
Of one who sees the evil and not good.

'What is it, my Pastorius?' As she spoke,
A slow, faint smile across his features broke,
Sadder than tears. 'Dear heart,' he said, 'our folk

'Are even as others. Yea, our goodliest Friends
Are frail; our elders have their selfish ends,
And few dare trust the Lord to make amends

'For duty's loss. So even our feeble word
For the dumb slaves the startled meeting heard
As if a stone its quiet waters stirred;

'And, as the clerk ceased reading, there began
A ripple of dissent which downward ran
In widening circles, as from man to man.

'Somewhat was said of running before sent,
Of tender fear that some their guide outwent,
Troublers of Israel. I was scarce intent

'On hearing, for behind the reverend row
Of gallery Friends, in dumb and piteous show,
I saw, methought, dark faces full of woe.

'And, in the spirit, I was taken where
They toiled and suffered; I was made aware
Of shame and wrath and anguish and despair!

'And while the meeting smothered our poor plea
With cautious phrase, a Voice there seemed to be,
As ye have done to these ye do to me!'

'So it all passed; and the old tithe went on
Of anise, mint, and cumin, till the sun
Set, leaving still the weightier work undone.

'Help, for the good man faileth! Who is strong,
If these be weak? Who shall rebuke the wrong,
If these consent? How long, O Lord! how long!'

He ceased; and, bound in spirit with the bound,
With folded arms, and eyes that sought the ground,
Walked musingly his little garden round.

About him, beaded with the falling dew,
Rare plants of power and herbs of healing grew,
Such as Van Helmont and Agrippa knew.

For, by the lore of Gorlitz' gentle sage,
With the mild mystics of his dreamy age
He read the herbal signs of nature's page,

As once he heard in sweet Von Merlau's' bowers
Fair as herself, in boyhood's happy hours,
The pious Spener read his creed in flowers.

'The dear Lord give us patience!' said his wife,
Touching with finger-tip an aloe, rife
With leaves sharp-pointed like an Aztec knife

Or Carib spear, a gift to William Penn
From the rare gardens of John Evelyn,
Brought from the Spanish Main by merchantmen.

'See this strange plant its steady purpose hold,
And, year by year, its patient leaves unfold,
Till the young eyes that watched it first are old.

'But some time, thou hast told me, there shall come
A sudden beauty, brightness, and perfume,
The century-moulded bud shall burst in bloom.

'So may the seed which hath been sown to-day
Grow with the years, and, after long delay,
Break into bloom, and God's eternal Yea!

'Answer at last the patient prayers of them
Who now, by faith alone, behold its stem
Crowned with the flowers of Freedom's diadem.

'Meanwhile, to feel and suffer, work and wait,
Remains for us. The wrong indeed is great,
But love and patience conquer soon or late.'

'Well hast thou said, my Anna!' Tenderer
Than youth's caress upon the head of her
Pastorius laid his hand. 'Shall we demur

'Because the vision tarrieth? In an hour
We dream not of, the slow-grown bud may flower,
And what was sown in weakness rise in power!'

Then through the vine-draped door whose legend read,
'Procul este profani!' Anna led
To where their child upon his little bed

Looked up and smiled. 'Dear heart,' she said, 'if we
Must bearers of a heavy burden be,
Our boy, God willing, yet the day shall see

'When from the gallery to the farthest seat,
Slave and slave-owner shall no longer meet,
But all sit equal at the Master's feet.'

On the stone hearth the blazing walnut block
Set the low walls a-glimmer, showed the cock
Rebuking Peter on the Van Wyck clock,

Shone on old tomes of law and physic, side
By side with Fox and Belimen, played at hide
And seek with Anna, midst her household pride

Of flaxen webs, and on the table, bare
Of costly cloth or silver cup, but where,
Tasting the fat shads of the Delaware,

The courtly Penn had praised the goodwife's cheer,
And quoted Horace o'er her home brewed beer,
Till even grave Pastorius smiled to hear.

In such a home, beside the Schuylkill's wave,
He dwelt in peace with God and man, and gave
Food to the poor and shelter to the slave.

For all too soon the New World's scandal shamed
The righteous code by Penn and Sidney framed,
And men withheld the human rights they claimed.

And slowly wealth and station sanction lent,
And hardened avarice, on its gains intent,
Stifled the inward whisper of dissent.

Yet all the while the burden rested sore
On tender hearts. At last Pastorius bore
Their warning message to the Church's door

In God's name; and the leaven of the word
Wrought ever after in the souls who heard,
And a dead conscience in its grave-clothes stirred

To troubled life, and urged the vain excuse
Of Hebrew custom, patriarchal use,
Good in itself if evil in abuse.

Gravely Pastorius listened, not the less
Discerning through the decent fig-leaf dress
Of the poor plea its shame of selfishness.

One Scripture rule, at least, was unforgot;
He hid the outcast, and betrayed him not;
And, when his prey the human hunter sought,

He scrupled not, while Anna's wise delay
And proffered cheer prolonged the master's stay,
To speed the black guest safely on his way.

Yet, who shall guess his bitter grief who lends
His life to some great cause, and finds his friends
Shame or betray it for their private ends?

How felt the Master when his chosen strove
In childish folly for their seats above;
And that fond mother, blinded by her love,

Besought him that her sons, beside his throne,
Might sit on either hand? Amidst his own
A stranger oft, companionless and lone,

God's priest and prophet stands. The martyr's pain
Is not alone from scourge and cell and chain;
Sharper the pang when, shouting in his train,

His weak disciples by their lives deny
The loud hosannas of their daily cry,
And make their echo of his truth a lie.

His forest home no hermit's cell he found,
Guests, motley-minded, drew his hearth around,
And held armed truce upon its neutral ground.

There Indian chiefs with battle-bows unstrung,
Strong, hero-limbed, like those whom Homer sung,
Pastorius fancied, when the world was young,

Came with their tawny women, lithe and tall,
Like bronzes in his friend Von Rodeck's hall,
Comely, if black, and not unpleasing all.

There hungry folk in homespun drab and gray
Drew round his board on Monthly Meeting day,
Genial, half merry in their friendly way.

Or, haply, pilgrims from the Fatherland,
Weak, timid, homesick, slow to understand
The New World's promise, sought his helping hand.

Or painful Kelpius from his hermit den
By Wissahickon, maddest of good men,
Dreamed o'er the Chiliast dreams of Petersen.

Deep in the woods, where the small river slid
Snake-like in shade, the Helmstadt Mystic hid,
Weird as a wizard, over arts forbid,

Reading the books of Daniel and of John,
And Behmen's Morning-Redness, through the Stone
Of Wisdom, vouchsafed to his eyes alone,

Whereby he read what man ne'er read before,
And saw the visions man shall see no more,
Till the great angel, striding sea and shore,

Shall bid all flesh await, on land or ships,
The warning trump of the Apocalypse,
Shattering the heavens before the dread eclipse.

Or meek-eyed Mennonist his bearded chin
Leaned o'er the gate; or Ranter, pure within,
Aired his perfection in a world of sin.

Or, talking of old home scenes, Op der Graaf
Teased the low back-log with his shodden staff,
Till the red embers broke into a laugh

And dance of flame, as if they fain would cheer
The rugged face, half tender, half austere,
Touched with the pathos of a homesick tear!

Or Sluyter, saintly familist, whose word
As law the Brethren of the Manor heard,
Announced the speedy terrors of the Lord,

And turned, like Lot at Sodom, from his race,
Above a wrecked world with complacent face
Riding secure upon his plank of grace!

Haply, from Finland's birchen groves exiled,
Manly in thought, in simple ways a child,
His white hair floating round his visage mild,

The Swedish pastor sought the Quaker's door,
Pleased from his neighbor's lips to hear once more
His long-disused and half-forgotten lore.

For both could baffle Babel's lingual curse,
And speak in Bion's Doric, and rehearse
Cleanthes' hymn or Virgil's sounding verse.

And oft Pastorius and the meek old man
Argued as Quaker and as Lutheran,
Ending in Christian love, as they began.

With lettered Lloyd on pleasant morns he strayed
Where Sommerhausen over vales of shade
Looked miles away, by every flower delayed,

Or song of bird, happy and free with one
Who loved, like him, to let his memory run
Over old fields of learning, and to sun

Himself in Plato's wise philosophies,
And dream with Philo over mysteries
Whereof the dreamer never finds the keys;

To touch all themes of thought, nor weakly stop
For doubt of truth, but let the buckets drop
Deep down and bring the hidden waters up

For there was freedom in that wakening time
Of tender souls; to differ was not crime;
The varying bells made up the perfect chime.

On lips unlike was laid the altar's coal,
The white, clear light, tradition-colored, stole
Through the stained oriel of each human soul.

Gathered from many sects, the Quaker brought
His old beliefs, adjusting to the thought
That moved his soul the creed his fathers taught.

One faith alone, so broad that all mankind
Within themselves its secret witness find,
The soul's communion with the Eternal Mind,

The Spirit's law, the Inward Rule and Guide,
Scholar and peasant, lord and serf, allied,
The polished Penn and Cromwell's Ironside.

As still in Hemskerck's Quaker Meeting, face
By face in Flemish detail, we may trace
How loose-mouthed boor and fine ancestral grace

Sat in close contrast,-the clipt-headed churl,
Broad market-dame, and simple serving-girl
By skirt of silk and periwig in curl

For soul touched soul; the spiritual treasure-trove
Made all men equal, none could rise above
Nor sink below that level of God's love.

So, with his rustic neighbors sitting down,
The homespun frock beside the scholar's gown,
Pastorius to the manners of the town

Added the freedom of the woods, and sought
The bookless wisdom by experience taught,
And learned to love his new-found home, while not

Forgetful of the old; the seasons went
Their rounds, and somewhat to his spirit lent
Of their own calm and measureless content.

Glad even to tears, he heard the robin sing
His song of welcome to the Western spring,
And bluebird borrowing from the sky his wing.

And when the miracle of autumn came,
And all the woods with many-colored flame
Of splendor, making summer's greenness tame,

Burned, unconsumed, a voice without a sound
Spake to him from each kindled bush around,
And made the strange, new landscape holy ground

And when the bitter north-wind, keen and swift,
Swept the white street and piled the dooryard drift,
He exercised, as Friends might say, his gift

Of verse, Dutch, English, Latin, like the hash
Of corn and beans in Indian succotash;
Dull, doubtless, but with here and there a flash

Of wit and fine conceit,-the good man's play
Of quiet fancies, meet to while away
The slow hours measuring off an idle day.

At evening, while his wife put on her look
Of love's endurance, from its niche he took
The written pages of his ponderous book.

And read, in half the languages of man,
His 'Rusca Apium,' which with bees began,
And through the gamut of creation ran.

Or, now and then, the missive of some friend
In gray Altorf or storied Nurnberg penned
Dropped in upon him like a guest to spend

The night beneath his roof-tree. Mystical
The fair Von Merlau spake as waters fall
And voices sound in dreams, and yet withal

Human and sweet, as if each far, low tone,
Over the roses of her gardens blown
Brought the warm sense of beauty all her own.

Wise Spener questioned what his friend could trace
Of spiritual influx or of saving grace
In the wild natures of the Indian race.

And learned Schurmberg, fain, at times, to look
From Talmud, Koran, Veds, and Pentateuch,
Sought out his pupil in his far-off nook,

To query with him of climatic change,
Of bird, beast, reptile, in his forest range,
Of flowers and fruits and simples new and strange.

And thus the Old and New World reached their hands
Across the water, and the friendly lands
Talked with each other from their severed strands.

Pastorius answered all: while seed and root
Sent from his new home grew to flower and fruit
Along the Rhine and at the Spessart's foot;

And, in return, the flowers his boyhood knew
Smiled at his door, the same in form and hue,
And on his vines the Rhenish clusters grew.

No idler he; whoever else might shirk,
He set his hand to every honest work,-
Farmer and teacher, court and meeting clerk.

Still on the town seal his device is found,
Grapes, flax, and thread-spool on a trefoil ground,
With 'Vinum, Linum et Textrinum' wound.

One house sufficed for gospel and for law,
Where Paul and Grotius, Scripture text and saw,
Assured the good, and held the rest in awe.

Whatever legal maze he wandered through,
He kept the Sermon on the Mount in view,
And justice always into mercy grew.

No whipping-post he needed, stocks, nor jail,
Nor ducking-stool; the orchard-thief grew pale
At his rebuke, the vixen ceased to rail,

The usurer's grasp released the forfeit land;
The slanderer faltered at the witness-stand,
And all men took his counsel for command.

Was it caressing air, the brooding love
Of tenderer skies than German land knew of,
Green calm below, blue quietness above,

Still flow of water, deep repose of wood
That, with a sense of loving Fatherhood
And childlike trust in the Eternal Good,

Softened all hearts, and dulled the edge of hate,
Hushed strife, and taught impatient zeal to wait
The slow assurance of the better state?

Who knows what goadings in their sterner way
O'er jagged ice, relieved by granite gray,
Blew round the men of Massachusetts Bay?

What hate of heresy the east-wind woke?
What hints of pitiless power and terror spoke
In waves that on their iron coast-line broke?

Be it as it may: within the Land of Penn
The sectary yielded to the citizen,
And peaceful dwelt the many-creeded men.

Peace brooded over all. No trumpet stung
The air to madness, and no steeple flung
Alarums down from bells at midnight rung.

The land slept well. The Indian from his face
Washed all his war-paint off, and in the place
Of battle-marches sped the peaceful chase,

Or wrought for wages at the white man's side,-
Giving to kindness what his native pride
And lazy freedom to all else denied.

And well the curious scholar loved the old
Traditions that his swarthy neighbors told
By wigwam-fires when nights were growing cold,

Discerned the fact round which their fancy drew
Its dreams, and held their childish faith more true
To God and man than half the creeds he knew.

The desert blossomed round him; wheat-fields rolled
Beneath the warm wind waves of green and gold;
The planted ear returned its hundred-fold.

Great clusters ripened in a warmer sun
Than that which by the Rhine stream shines upon
The purpling hillsides with low vines o'errun.

About each rustic porch the humming-bird
Tried with light bill, that scarce a petal stirred,
The Old World flowers to virgin soil transferred;

And the first-fruits of pear and apple, bending
The young boughs down, their gold and russet blending,
Made glad his heart, familiar odors lending

To the fresh fragrance of the birch and pine,
Life-everlasting, bay, and eglantine,
And all the subtle scents the woods combine.

Fair First-Day mornings, steeped in summer calm,
Warm, tender, restful, sweet with woodland balm,
Came to him, like some mother-hallowed psalm

To the tired grinder at the noisy wheel
Of labor, winding off from memory's reel
A golden thread of music. With no peal

Of bells to call them to the house of praise,
The scattered settlers through green forest-ways
Walked meeting-ward. In reverent amaze

The Indian trapper saw them, from the dim
Shade of the alders on the rivulet's rim,
Seek the Great Spirit's house to talk with Him.

There, through the gathered stillness multiplied
And made intense by sympathy, outside
The sparrows sang, and the gold-robin cried,

A-swing upon his elm. A faint perfume
Breathed through the open windows of the room
From locust-trees, heavy with clustered bloom.

Thither, perchance, sore-tried confessors came,
Whose fervor jail nor pillory could tame,
Proud of the cropped ears meant to be their shame,

Men who had eaten slavery's bitter bread
In Indian isles; pale women who had bled
Under the hangman's lash, and bravely said

God's message through their prison's iron bars;
And gray old soldier-converts, seamed with scars
From every stricken field of England's wars.

Lowly before the Unseen Presence knelt
Each waiting heart, till haply some one felt
On his moved lips the seal of silence melt.

Or, without spoken words, low breathings stole
Of a diviner life from soul to soul,
Baptizing in one tender thought the whole.

When shaken hands announced the meeting o'er,
The friendly group still lingered at the door,
Greeting, inquiring, sharing all the store

Of weekly tidings. Meanwhile youth and maid
Down the green vistas of the woodland strayed,
Whispered and smiled and oft their feet delayed.

Did the boy's whistle answer back the thrushes?
Did light girl laughter ripple through the bushes,
As brooks make merry over roots and rushes?

Unvexed the sweet air seemed. Without a wound
The ear of silence heard, and every sound
Its place in nature's fine accordance found.

And solemn meeting, summer sky and wood,
Old kindly faces, youth and maidenhood
Seemed, like God's new creation, very good!

And, greeting all with quiet smile and word,
Pastorius went his way. The unscared bird
Sang at his side; scarcely the squirrel stirred

At his hushed footstep on the mossy sod;
And, wheresoe'er the good man looked or trod,
He felt the peace of nature and of God.

His social life wore no ascetic form,
He loved all beauty, without fear of harm,
And in his veins his Teuton blood ran warm.

Strict to himself, of other men no spy,
He made his own no circuit-judge to try
The freer conscience of his neighbors by.

With love rebuking, by his life alone,
Gracious and sweet, the better way was shown,
The joy of one, who, seeking not his own,

And faithful to all scruples, finds at last
The thorns and shards of duty overpast,
And daily life, beyond his hope's forecast,

Pleasant and beautiful with sight and sound,
And flowers upspringing in its narrow round,
And all his days with quiet gladness crowned.

He sang not; but, if sometimes tempted strong,
He hummed what seemed like Altorf's Burschen-song;
His good wife smiled, and did not count it wrong.

For well he loved his boyhood's brother band;
His Memory, while he trod the New World's strand,
A double-ganger walked the Fatherland

If, when on frosty Christmas eves the light
Shone on his quiet hearth, he missed the sight
Of Yule-log, Tree, and Christ-child all in white;

And closed his eyes, and listened to the sweet
Old wait-songs sounding down his native street,
And watched again the dancers' mingling feet;

Yet not the less, when once the vision passed,
He held the plain and sober maxims fast
Of the dear Friends with whom his lot was cast.

Still all attuned to nature's melodies,
He loved the bird's song in his dooryard trees,
And the low hum of home-returning bees;

The blossomed flax, the tulip-trees in bloom
Down the long street, the beauty and perfume
Of apple-boughs, the mingling light and gloom

Of Sommerhausen's woodlands, woven through
With sun-threads; and the music the wind drew,
Mournful and sweet, from leaves it overblew.

And evermore, beneath this outward sense,
And through the common sequence of events,
He felt the guiding hand of Providence

Reach out of space. A Voice spake in his ear,
And to all other voices far and near
Died at that whisper, full of meanings clear.

The Light of Life shone round him; one by one
The wandering lights, that all-misleading run,
Went out like candles paling in the sun.

That Light he followed, step by step, where'er
It led, as in the vision of the seer
The wheels moved as the spirit in the clear

And terrible crystal moved, with all their eyes
Watching the living splendor sink or rise,
Its will their will, knowing no otherwise.

Within himself he found the law of right,
He walked by faith and not the letter's sight,
And read his Bible by the Inward Light.

And if sometimes the slaves of form and rule,
Frozen in their creeds like fish in winter's pool,
Tried the large tolerance of his liberal school,

His door was free to men of every name,
He welcomed all the seeking souls who came,
And no man's faith he made a cause of blame.

But best he loved in leisure hours to see
His own dear Friends sit by him knee to knee,
In social converse, genial, frank, and free.

There sometimes silence (it were hard to tell
Who owned it first) upon the circle fell,
Hushed Anna's busy wheel, and laid its spell

On the black boy who grimaced by the hearth,
To solemnize his shining face of mirth;
Only the old clock ticked amidst the dearth

Of sound; nor eye was raised nor hand was stirred
In that soul-sabbath, till at last some word
Of tender counsel or low prayer was heard.

Then guests, who lingered but farewell to say
And take love's message, went their homeward way;
So passed in peace the guileless Quaker's day.

His was the Christian's unsung Age of Gold,
A truer idyl than the bards have told
Of Arno's banks or Arcady of old.

Where still the Friends their place of burial keep,
And century-rooted mosses o'er it creep,
The Nurnberg scholar and his helpmeet sleep.

And Anna's aloe? If it flowered at last
In Bartram's garden, did John Woolman cast
A glance upon it as he meekly passed?

And did a secret sympathy possess
That tender soul, and for the slave's redress
Lend hope, strength, patience? It were vain to guess.

Nay, were the plant itself but mythical,
Set in the fresco of tradition's wall
Like Jotham's bramble, mattereth not at all.

Enough to know that, through the winter's frost
And summer's heat, no seed of truth is lost,
And every duty pays at last its cost.

For, ere Pastorius left the sun and air,
God sent the answer to his life-long prayer;
The child was born beside the Delaware,

Who, in the power a holy purpose lends,
Guided his people unto nobler ends,
And left them worthier of the name of Friends.

And to! the fulness of the time has come,
And over all the exile's Western home,
From sea to sea the flowers of freedom bloom!

And joy-bells ring, and silver trumpets blow;
But not for thee, Pastorius! Even so
The world forgets, but the wise angels know.

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So, I kind of rather was hoping that people thought it would have a nice mixture of different topics and it also takes in the fact that I've had two children recently.

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Just Think Of So Many Other Things

If you have awakened to discover,
Something you now realize has not been true.
Wouldn't that be for you to address?
And not for someone else to undo?

Isn't that 'your' discovery?
Aren't you the one that has been duped?
What do you expect to be revealed?
You believe everything that is told to you?

If you have awakened to discover,
Something you now realize has not been true.
Just think of so many other things,
You have yet come to question but accepted.

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